It was a marriage said to have been conceived from Charles Taylor’s lonely jail cell and given birth in Liberia to proud parents-Senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor. It was a marriage, according to analysts, for all purposes intended to secure Charles Taylor’s foothold in Liberian politics. After all, a George Weah-Jewel Howard Taylor ticket was sure to prove unbeatable against the likes of Charles Brumskine, Joseph Boakai, Alexander Cummings and the rest.
It was at the time hardly ever imagined that the marriage was doomed to fail from its very onset. George Weah, a newcomer to politics, would at some point become savvy enough and satiated with the trappings of power and would sooner or later dump his bride largely out of suspicion that she was out to undo him. And to ensure that such did not happen, he tightened the ropes, isolating her and even denying her benefits to which she is legally entitled.
It is indeed surprising that Vice President Jewel Howard never saw this coming. During the campaign for office, she lampooned incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai calling him weak and ineffectual. His (Boakai’s) situation was not helped by his pronouncements that he was like a race car but one parked in the garage with all its potential stalled. It was by then an open secret that Joseph Boakai was outside President Sirleaf’s inner circle of friends and cronies.
Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor now finds herself in similar straits and she is clearly unhappy about the shoddy manner in which she says she is being treated. From the appearance of things, she is perceived as a threat to the President because she stands to succeed him in case of any eventuality such as incapacitation, impeachment etc.
Additionally, she has demonstrated that she has political ambitions with her eyes on the top spot. However, her politics has been less than promotive of her political ambitions.
Her initial remarks to elders and chiefs in Bong County, “dat our time to eat…” meaning in effect that only those who ascribed to her party membership would enjoy access to the national pie, did not go down well. Further, her threats to dismiss those chiefs who did not support her and who did not take up membership in the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), harmed her political prospects even more to the point where she was being perceived and portrayed as a usurper.
This was the message driven home to Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker, who alleged in a leaked audio that Minister of State Nathaniel McGill had queried her for being part of a plot to confer the title of “Dakpannah” on the Vice President which, Supt. Walker quoted McGill, “rightfully belonged to President Weah.”
And to make her situation worse, the Vice President was conferred with the title of “Ponofalo”, said to be a high-ranked Poro order which only served to heighten suspicion amongst the President’s inner circle that Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor was out to undo them and were therefore sparing her no quarter. As CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu also disclosed in a leaked audio which went viral on social media, there are attempts underway to have Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor replaced.
Analysts say that Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s attempts to rally her National Patriotic Party (NPP) faithfuls have been stymied by opposition led by NPP stalwart James Biney, who is challenging her for leadership of the party and who is said to be in alliance with members of President Weah’s inner circle, with which Vice President Taylor is currently at odds. The Vice President apparently appears unaware of the excess baggage, which she carries as a result of her close association with convicted war criminal Charles Taylor.
It appears unlikely, therefore, that leaders of the subregion would countenance the idea of a recrudescent Taylor leadership in Liberia that her possible succession to the Presidency would imply. Moreover, it appears highly unlikely that Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, now fallen out of favor with President Weah, could successfully challenge him in the 2023 elections and go on to win the nationwide polls. One nagging question, which remains puzzling, is with die-hard Taylor loyalists and influential individuals making up part of President Weah’s inner circle: how come Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is treated with such disdain and disrespect by members of the inner circle?
Be it as it may, internecine wrangling at the very center of power is something to watch, for its fallout could prove very destabilizing. By virtue of his vast wealth still intact and influence, Charles Taylor’s reach into Liberian politics cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand. One cannot also dismiss the fact that Monrovia, the nation’s largest crisis flashpoint, is once again becoming awash with arms and, with the presence in Monrovia of thousands of unemployed ex-combatants and military command and control structures of the various factions somehow loosely intact, there can be no gainsaying that such concerns are unwarranted.
In the final analysis, it will come down to how President Weah manages or handles this marriage of convenience between his CDC and the NPP, two major players in the coalition. As it appears, the smaller members of the Coalition, including former Speaker Alex Tyler’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have gone their separate ways having been effectively marginalized and their respective political ambitions virtually smothered. Party greats, Toga Mackintosh and Alex Tyler, appear consigned to an ill-fated political existence on the periphery of the ruling order.
Just how Vice President Jewel Howard intends to catapult herself back into the fold and the good wishes of President Weah remains to be seen. It may be, though, a little too early at this point to draw some definitive conclusions. However, it appears clear that President Weah is mulling a second term run on a ticket which appears more likely than not, to be without her. The question is whether she will quietly fold-up or go out with a BANG!