— Koung said, as he accepts role as running mate to Boakai
Jeremiah Kpan Koung recently told Liberians, mainly supporters of Joseph Nyumah Boakai, that the former Vice President (Boakai) is poor because he did not steal from them (Liberians).
Boakai announced Koung as his running mate on the ticket of the opposition Unity Party (UP) on May 28 before a crowd of thousands, assembled in front of the UP headquarters on Broad Street.
“He was Vice President for twelve years but he didn’t steal. He is broke because he didn’t steal from you,” UP’s vice running mate said.
Boakai has always said that he takes loans because he does not have money neither is he rich, even though the office he occupied for twelve years receives nearly US$2 million if not more annually and the salary and benefits for a Vice President are said to be enough for even a decent retirement life.
It is known though that when Boakai was leaving his office after service, he handed over office materials intended for the VP office to current Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor. It is also reported that he reported to the former Senator of Bong County now VP some amount of money as a leftover fund in order to allow her to continue running the office from where he left it.
Koung, the sinless man as noted by former VP Boakai upon his selection of the latter, is a foster brother to President George Weah and a protégé of Senator Prince Y. Johnson who broke ties with Weah over differences they failed to handle.
The Nimba County Senator is at the same time the standard bearer of the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR), the political party founded and owned by Senator Johnson that is noted for joining alliances with parties that appear to be potential winners of the Presidency.
Johnson supported former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Presidential bid in 2011 in his home county of Nimba but did not support the same Sirleaf’s UP when Boakai was the Presidential candidate on the ticket in 2017. Rather, he supported Weah who is now President but the fell apart recently over alleged inequalities in job distribution, County social development fund given by ArcelorMittal that is mining iron ore in Nimba.
Johnson’s protégé, Koung said the Liberian people who believe in Boakai and him are supporting change and that they want a government of hope and promise, a government that can work for them.
“I want to be tutored by the man whose life and dignity are exemplary,” he said as he expressed his excitement for being chosen, even though there were others who have been with Boakai over the past five or more years and believed to be more suitable for the position.
Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence of Grand Bassa who is also the embattled political leader of the now factionalized Liberty Party (LP), Henry Costa, a political commentator whose style of advocacy is annoying to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) as well as Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon were seen as potential VP picks, each.
Each of the three was disenchanted when Koung was selected by Boakai and they boycotted the naming ceremonies of the Nimba County Senator for the post of running mate to the former VP.
For Benoni Wilfred Urey, he expressed that he had no ambition for the vice running mate position but was committed to supporting Boakai, only that he declined to attend the naming of Koung because he felt that Koung was not the right pick by Boakai.
Koung was a teenager in 1989 when the first civil war began in his home county of Nimba and later on spread across the rest of Liberia. He was a fishmonger who later became a commercial taxi driver after his sale of petroleum products.
He later became a business tycoon before entering politics in which he became a Representative for Ninba District #1 on two different consecutive terms before ascending to the House of Senate in 2020.
Senator Koung added as he accepted his nomination that former VP Boakai would not have sought the Presidency had he embezzled public money.
“If he had stolen from you, he would not have wanted to be President. And, I also believe after his Presidency, he will still be broke because he will not steal,” Koung claimed, adding that as a young man, he will help Boakai who is now old and ailing to fix the country when elected.