Liberia: A Statesman or a Desperado?

Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

— Looking under the bonnet of Boakai’s decision  

By Isaac W. Jackson, Jr.

More than ever before, it is now bloody obvious that our country is in moral and national decline, in that, significant numbers of the population are willing to suspend their critical faculties in defence of an industrial murderer such as Prince Johnson, only because Joseph Boakai is handcuffed and shackled by Johnson’s godson, Jeremiah Koung.

If Boakai's supporters are willing to forgive Prince Johnson for the atrocities and widespread murders committed, why wouldn't they take the rational argument that Koung's proximity to Prince Johnson renders him a contaminated political figure unfit for national leadership? Mind you, the Bible teaches that "bad company corrupts good character". 

If the Boakai-Koung ticket were to succeed, would they turn over their godfather, Prince Johnson, for possible war crimes prosecution, or, are Liberians and the world at large willing to ignore thousands of murdered people whose blood cry to heaven for justice? 

The natural response to the latter question is a resounding “NO!” Another obvious question comes into focus: What do our partners, especially the Americans, think about Prince Johnson's mentee Koung as possible vice president? It may be recalled that U.S War Crimes Ambassador Beth Van Schaack visited Liberia in October 2022 and declared the US's serious determination to prosecute Prince Johnson and others who destroyed innocent lives in Liberia. So, Boakai and his cohorts are positioning themselves to disregard the US concerns brazenly and blatantly?

This draws me to focus on the aging former Vice President’s judgment to have the actual simulacrum of Prince Johnson in the Executive Mansion. What decision is this that breathes life into a dying Prince Johnson choked by US sanction when Boakai had a vast pool of talented progressive individuals to serve as vice presidential pick to maintain his legacy and the legacy of the Unity Party of Edward B. Kesselly?

We are not unaware that Henry Costa, Kofi Woods, Tiawon Gongloe, Nyonblee, and others have been working diligently with the  Oldman in the hope of keeping the progressive dreams alive. How can Boakai, who boasts about a forty-year government experience, dig into a POLLUTED MUD HOLE for clean water? 

Socrates in the Apology underscores the importance of practical judgment in leadership. Even Aristotle talks about good judgment as decoupling or separating the pathos from the situation, focusing on ethos to arrive at sound decisions. Regrettably, Oldman Boakai has consistently violated the teachings of these great authorities.

For example, as Head of the UP, he sat idly by when the Former Standard Bearer and former President of the Republic were expelled from the Unity Party on her birthday. Boakai also served as Government’s witness and testified against a fellow traveler on account of a bogus allegation.

Having associated extensively and flirted politically with Henry Costa and the political leader of the Liberty Party as potential vice-presidential picks, he would spurn both figures for a guy who has been cozying up to the regime. What’s the meaning of this? If Oldman Boakai were not quarantined in his tiny bubble, he would have realized that Nimba is overly marketed as vote-rich, because the votes from Grand Gedeh will offset the votes from Nimba as a result of the bitter rivalry between Koung and Edith Gongloe-Weh. Also, Boakai may not get the angry votes from the Bassa-belt. Hence, I don’t see the political dividend of this poorly calculated move!   

Besides, where is Uncle Joseph Boakai's moral compass when he demonstrates to Liberians and the international community that he is supremely comfortable with the godson of a man who chopped off former President Doe's ears and sexual organs while drinking Budweiser beer and giggling?  I thought at this stage of our history, we are supposed to be working in harmony to ensure that Prince Johnson account for the grotesque trauma that he visited upon our dear country. Regrettably, we are unwittingly shielding the man for the so-called electoral votes anticipated from ‘vote-rich’ Nimba County.

By the way, how much comfort level does this Boakai-Koung team give to brothers and sisters from Grand Gedeh? What's about the Mandingoes in Nimba who are still grappling with the issue of land? How can we be confident that the protégé of Prince Johnson will not resurrect the ugly ghost of the past? Koung has been conducting himself as a questionable lawmaker; therefore, Liberians don't know where he stands with respect to the national legislative agenda, and issues of genuine reconciliation especially when his mentor, Prince Johnson, often boasts about murdering Doe. 

Another issue that is worth mentioning: Koung has been vastly complicit in promoting and upholding the machinery of corruption in our country. As a Lawmaker, he has never raised a voice of protest against the wretched excesses of the CDC government.  Instead, he is widely known within legislative circles as a legislator who enriches himself on the Ways & Means Committee while poor people continue to suffer needlessly.  In fact, like Prince Johnson, rumors abound that Koung has been involved in the cannibalization of politics in Nimba – the demonic act of extracting and selling body parts of children.   

To be honest, while the desperate decision by Boakai to endorse Koung as his running mate is aimed at winning the Presidential election, Boakai may likely ‘win’ but Liberia will be the loser! Hence, choosing Koung is NOT the act or behavior of a statesman, but that of a desperado. Those who genuinely love Liberia should be concerned about the huge risk the Boakai-Koung ticket poses to the immediate future of our country both domestically and on the international front. Imagine, Prince Johnson hovering in the backroom as de facto Vice President and President!!! 

Moreover, and finally:  Highly confidential sources have confided that prior to announcing Koung as his running mate, Boakai held a closed-door meeting with his tribal kinsmen at which he vowed and assured them – emphatically – that he will never appoint anyone of repatriate bloodline as running mate, or to other high-level positions in his administration.  To these twin declarations a constitutional question is circulating as to whether an elected Liberian President is intended to serve along tribal affiliations, rather than ALL LIBERIANS across the national political spectrum. 

May Our Heavenly Father protect Liberia during this critical juncture of its political history!

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this commentary are solely of the author and do not necessarily represent that of the Daily Observer newspaper.