Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has promised to create 50,000 jobs in 150 days to help ease the high unemployment rate that affects especially young people when he emerges victorious in the pending presidential elections.
The ruling Unity Party and the country’s largest opposition, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), are poised to compete in the upcoming runoff, which has been scheduled for December 26th.
The UP Standard bearer, who boasts of being the most competent and qualified to reconcile and unite Liberians and lead the country, said bringing relief to many of the masses through employment opportunities is the best way to start his administration.
Addressing a local talk-show in Monrovia on Monday morning, VP Boakai said “We will create 50,000 jobs in our first 150 days in office. The essence of leadership is to help our people and this is why we are in this race. We have the vision to help this country and help our people—we will do just that upon winning.”
He indicated that the means and avenues for the creation of these jobs are already in place, but that it takes the rightful leader to venture into such a noteworthy task.
Though VP Boakai had as his flagship project road connectivity across the country during his tenure, he said he also has a very elaborate short-term plan that is intended to see efforts in all major sectors of the country. He, however, maintained road connectivity as the major element that will help to open up the country.
At a presidential debate in Paynesville City a few months ago, he said road connectivity is key in Liberia because the lack thereof has made it difficult to implement development programs in the country.
Boakai also disclosed that agriculture, women’s empowerment, education, and economic development will be among his key priorities, upon his election.
“Inter-connectivity of the nation has a positive trickle-down effect on education, health, agriculture and other vital sectors of the economy,” he noted.
Liberia’s problem has been centralizing everything in Monrovia, which has contributed to the underdeveloped state of other parts of the country and, according to VP Boakai, “Monrovia is not Liberia; and therefore, we need to open up the country and reach the farmers and other people.”
“With feeder roads, farmers will have access to the markets for their produce and they will be in the position to generate money from their activities and ventures,” he said.
When citizens are not in the position to pay their taxes, they feel disenfranchised, he noted, adding: “If people are earning from their produce, they will pay taxes.”
VP Boakai said his vision to build roads across the country will help provide jobs and create wealth.
The VP’s promise of massive employment could be seen by pundits as a rather tall order, though not impossible. Yet a similar promise by his predecessor, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for the provision of 20,000 jobs every year, could not be realized due to internal and external shocks that made things difficult.
Many Liberians see VP Boakai as an honorable man, especially looking at his track record from the public sector. Many describe him as honest; a man with integrity who is without any stigma of corruption.
However, the UP government has and continues to receive a barrage of criticisms for doing little to fight corruption. But the UP standard bearer noted that he will do all in his capacity to fight the menace, which is the primary cause of not just the backwardness of the country, but the impoverished state of its people.
He said corruption is a poison that makes people in authority to want to use government to provide for them and their unborn generations—noting that punishment against corrupt officials will be no lip service.
“You want to be corrupt, go elsewhere; it won’t happen under my watch,” he warned.
Guilty By Association
Asked about his relationship with his boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the VP said that he believes there is no animosity or bad blood between them, but said his only sin is that he is “guilty by association.”
The two were considered trusted friends in the past as they have known each other for a very long time—dating back to their days in high school at the College of West Africa, where Boakai, a junior to Ellen both in age and class, was a humble janitor.
Their relationship transcended beyond the school campus to the national scene when Madam Sirleaf selected VP Boakai as her running mate in 2005.
But the relationship seemed to have strained since Boakai expressed his ambition to succeed his good friend and boss, Madam Sirleaf.
VP Boakai disclosed on the talk-show: “I am guilty by association—that is the only crime I have committed against my long-time friend Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. My association with Cllr. Sherman and Wilmot Paye is the only crime I have committed.”