The friends and supporters of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan will today gather at a mass political event at the Monrovia City Hall where their political leader, according to reliable sources, will address a wide range of national issues.
The National Chairman of the Friends of Ngafuan (FON), Ernest Garnark Smith Jr., disclosed to the Daily Observer in an exclusive phone interview that Ngafuan will deliver a special statement at the event – a statement will focus on the evolving 2017 political process and a host of national issues.
Some eminent political actors in the country, including VP Boakai, Smith said, are expected to grace the occasion.
An impeccable source has also indicated to the Daily Observer that Ngafuan is expected to use that platform to return to UP by pledging his support to the candidacy of its standard bearer.
Smith failed to confirm whether Ngafuan will pledge support to the political bid of his kinsman, but confirmed that the VP will be present at the event.
However, Ngafuan’s quest to support the presidential ambition of VP Boakai was posted on his Facebook timeline recently.
The return of ‘Ngaf’, as the former minister is popularly known among his colleagues, will be similar but different to the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son.
But Ngaf might have had a point to leave the ruling party, which he helped win two consecutive elections. He galvanized the student populace in 2005 when he formed the Youth for Ellen Sirleaf (YES) on the campus of the University of Liberia.
This became a success story as young students overwhelmingly voted for the UP. But things didn’t go Ngaf’s way as he and many other colleagues had envisaged.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the 2011 general and presidential elections, said on numerous occasions that she and her vice president would resign at the end of their tenure (2nd term) to entrust the political leadership of the country and the Unity Party to the younger generation.
Interestingly at the time, Ngafuan was one of few potential young leaders within the ranks of the UP and governing establishment who was being touted, according to some influential persons in the corridors of power, for this historic generational transitioning.
The pronouncement by President Sirleaf, at the time, had given hope to Ngafuan and the likes of former Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh and former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, that they were the next group of national leaders.
Unfortunately for Ngafuan and co., VP Boakai made a U-turn subsequently announcing his intention to contest the presidency in October. This abrupt change of mind made many to become disenchanted, especially the young potential leaders harboring feelings of being betrayed by the VP and the UP hierarchy.
This and many other reasons led to a mass exodus from the UP, with Ngaf also breaking ranks with the institution that had made him more prominent on the local and international scenes. However, he seemed to have left gracefully.
He also resigned from the government in respect of the Code of Conduct’s time limitation with a clarion pronouncement that he would be very active during the electioneering period. He has since then been in political silence after trying to establish some political alignments that had reportedly not been working.
Asked whether his decision to exit the UP and subsequently the government was a surprise to President Sirleaf—given that he was one of the most influential figures and confidantes of the president, Ngaf said, “The thing I can tell you is that my political move does not surprise Madam Sirleaf and it is not an act of being ungrateful. But let me give you this piece of information: The President in the 2011 elections, not once, not twice, clearly said that she and her Vice President started together and they will end together and they will turn over to the younger generation of leaders.
“You remember that and I think one of you journalists might have interviewed the Vice President and he said, well, in 2017 he will retire and so if any young person, young leader grew ambition for the future, it was not coming out of the sky because it was a promise to the younger generation.”
It was indeed truly out of frustration that this young intellectual left the UP dashing out on his own to see where he could find political survival. Ngafuan vehemently refused to back-down from his presidential ambition, especially after many indicated that running against VP Boakai was considered disrespectful traditionally as both of them are from Lofa County.
But FON’s chairman Smith said that Ngafuan has never been frustrated by any action; and he remains a political force in the country. “Ngafuan is a household name in Liberia and we all know what he brings to the table.”
He indicated that Ngaf’s resignation last year provided him the space to be politically active in the 2017 elections. “Liberians should be poised to witness the political prowess of Ngaf,” and this starts today where he will be speaking on numerous national issues.
Smith also said almost all the major political actors in the upcoming elections have had consultations with his political leader for possible merger or alignment. “So we are not talking about a small man here; we all know who Ngaf is,” he said.
In his search for a new political home, Ngafuan joined the Victory for Change Party (VCP), a marriage that wouldn’t last long, though he said that this was the only political institution that shares his vision for the country and capable of winning the presidential elections.
It was also reported that Ngaf couldn’t be the political leader of VCP as he did not meet the requirement of the party’s constitution.