Former Information Minister, Emmanuel Bowier, has said that the current transition from President Sirleaf to George Weah, bears close parallels to that of President Edwin James Barclay’s transition to William V.S. Tubman in 1944.
Bowier who is widely known for his riveting orations of Liberian history and who worked in the administration of Samuel Kanyon Doe, told journalists last week that there are unfolding events that parallel the two transitions, and that more will unfold as the new government moves on.
Pointing out similarities between the two transitions, the former Information Minister, who is also a clergyman, noted that as President Sirleaf stated on the fringes of the United Nations summit last year that it was about time to turn power over to the younger generation, so did Barclay with Tubman who was younger than he.
Bowier said at that time, Tubman was not considered presidential material because he lacked a college education, had only completed the 8th grade but who studied law, succeeded in becoming a Senator for Maryland, Associate Justice and a “practicing lawyer in his own right.”
Similarly, he noted that Weah has over the time been heavily criticized for not being presidential material but a mere footballer.
“Tubman was a popular man who people accused of being a womanizer and one that loved the good times. This is the same way Weah is popular and branded here today,” Rev. Bowier added.
Besides Weah’s football career that made him popular in Liberia and in the world, he was elected in 2014 as Senator of Montserrado County, where he served up to his election as President of Liberia, a position Tubman similarly occupied including other positions in government.
Though the turnover from Barclay to Tubman was smooth and hitch free, the relationship could not hold as time progressed in the administration of William V.S. Tubman.
According to Rev. Bowier, Barclay being an older person and a well seasoned politician thought he could sit in the background to control Tubman in running the government.
“But this was not the case. There was a time Barclay went to Tubman to tell him what to do as was the usual case, but Tubman at that time refused his instruction and said Barclay should give him a chance to do what he (Barclay) could not do,” Bowier narrated.
An instance he considered to be a repeat of history was the failure of lawmakers to pass the 22 bills President Sirleaf submitted to the National Legislature for passage in a short period of time.
He said before annulling the passage of the bills, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) was consulted and Weah and his partisans conceded that the bills should not hastily be passed because it is they who are to work with them.
Bowier said President Sirleaf, being a veteran politician who has had 12 years of experience in the presidency may want to control Weah from the background as Barclay attempted, but may find it difficult because Weah is observed to be very decisive.
“Though he may not be a public speaker, I observe that Weah is decisive and can make decisions that he stands by. So no one must take him and his coalition for granted,” he added.
In his suggestion as to what may be one of the first priorities for the new government, Bowier said the CDC-led Government should give preference to transportation for the people.
“You will see that every morning and evening in this place people line up along the boulevard and other places to board vehicles and can find it difficult. They have the money to pay, but they hardly board vehicles soon to go to their destinations,” said Bowier.