Vice President Joseph Boakai has accepted the request of the people of Lofa County to contest in the 2017 presidential and general elections.
The VP’s acceptance of the people’s endorsement Friday, May 22 comes after he and his entourage had traveled the seven districts in Lofa County on a weeklong post-Ebola tour. When authorities of Lofa welcomed the VP and his entourage into the county from Bong County on Friday, May 16, an addendum was made to the Lofa people’s message of “thank you for standing with us during the Ebola crisis.” They began calling on the VP to “get up, stand up and run for the seat of the President.”
In all the seven districts—Salayea, Zorzor, Voinjama, Quardu Gboni, Kolahun, Foya and Vahun—which the VP and entourage visited, he told the people that he would officially respond to their request for him to contest in 2017 on Friday, May 23. He did.
“Today the people of Lofa have asked me as their son, nephew and uncle, to contest the 2017 [presidential and general] elections. To me it was not a question of ‘whether he will do it,’ they said ‘”do it,” the VP recalled. He stated that when the people of Lofa tell someone to do something, they mean it and will stand by that person.
“So today, I want to say to you [that] I am your servant and that is what I will continue to be. Today I want to say to you that there is nothing in my blood to say no to the great ‘nephews’ of Lofa County.”
He added that with their blessings along with “all the friendship that we have, we say to you, we stand ready come 2017 to take the leadership of this country.”
The VP’s acceptance was received with thunderous applause, singing and shouting of battle cries, so much so that his last few words were not heard in the jam packed Voinjama City hall.
Other speakers, including Lofa Senator George Tengbeh, Grand Cape Mount County Senator and chairman of the ruling Unity Party (UP), Varney Sherman, pledged their support to the VP’s bid. However, the UP Chairman was cautious in his pledge to the VP’s cause.
Sen. Sherman, specifically told Lofaians to be truthful to their words and to remain loyal at all times. He informed the audience that he had heard that an opposition political party was coming to Voinjama for some political activities next month and he will be watching to see if Lofaians will remain truthful to their words.
Montserrado County District One Representative Josephine Francis, also a member of the ruling party, likewise pledged her support to the VP.
Earlier, the Lofa citizens read their position statement calling on the VP to contest in the 2017 elections and pledged their support.
Some critics of the ruling establishment are questioning what change(s) the VP can make towards the development of the nation, after being a key part of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administraton that has been in power since January 16, 2016.
Commenting on Sen. Sherman’s caution, VP Boakai, on Saturday, May 23 in a press conference, said: “I think [Senator] Varney Sherman is a very smart person. We are in a party and in a process; we are not at a convention. The fact that he came here to be a part of this process in itself is a welcoming idea because he knows that I am the Vice Standard bearer of the party. He is aware that I am a very staunch member of the party so he is here as a partisan and chairman of the party to witness the process.”
The VP agreed that it would have been a mistake on the part of Sen. Sherman or Mr. Wilmot Paye, UP’s Secretary General, to make an endorsement.
The VP’s entourage included his wife Kartumu and their three sons Anthony, Joseph, Jr. and Tamba. Others included Mr. Wilmot Paye, UP Secretary General, Cape Mount Sen. Edward Dagoseh, Post and Telecommunications Minister, Dr. Fredrick Norkeh, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director Harrison Karnwea, Nimba Superintendent Fong Zuagele and Amb. Francis Karpeh.