Liberia News: Boakai In The Den Of ‘Know-All Men’

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” is a consciously motivating biblical verse that has to come play in the election of a boy from the remote Gissiland of Foya, Lofa County, as Liberia’s next President.

Joseph Nyumah Boakai ran on a manifesto “Rescue Mission,” steeped in his desire to getting Liberia out of perceived clutches of bad governance under the outgoing administration. His followers said he has all the wherewithal to reposition a skewed country given his rich profile of serving in many capacities including Managing Director of the dysfunctional Liberia Produce Marking Corporation, Managing Director of the Liberia Refinery Corporation, Minister of Agriculture and lately Vice President of Liberia.

He whisked off responsibility for the nemeses that stained the government in which he served as Vice President by describing himself as ‘race car cornered in a garage.’ Now that the once parked race car is out of the garage, many can’t wait to see how effective it would be on the traffic-jammed road. They, however, contend that the 79-yr-old  newly elected President might not have an easy ride, owing to the fact that he is being surrounded by ‘nokatayes’- self-adored experts with bossy or domineering  postures.

The New Republic picks up the story.

With his inauguration as Liberia’s 25th President on yesterday Monday, January 22, 2024, President Joseph N. Boakai is already feeling the heat of public scrutiny of his pending stewardship of a nation that is still crying out for socio-economic and political sanctity. Unfolding developments are considered potential signals of the impending uneasiness he could endure in the next six years at the Executive Mansion.

A clarion tip of the iceberg of the danger ahead of him is the huge public outcry that marred his donation of ten million Liberian dollars along with 200 bags of rice to the Totota Fuel Tanker disaster, with many questioning the source of such amount from a man who consistently bragged of living on bank ‘loan.’

Apart from these early warning signs, those who don’t subscribe to ‘Boakaism’ have since indicated their determination to use the ‘same measures of scrutiny and criticisms President Weah was subjected to during his time in office; an indication that every step and action of Mr. Boakai will be a subject of serious surgeries.

Political pundits and public policy analysts believe Mr. Boakai will not have an easy ride given how Liberians have become so assertive and earful now a days in critiquing their leaders, probing them to take concrete steps in addressing issues affecting them in particular and the nation in general.

“Just as his predecessor, former President George Weah, did not get the much-needed reprieve as he was consistently checkmated and criticized, so he too should anticipate and act accordingly,” remarked one expert. He further asserted, “He should also consider the razor-thin margin he won the elections with as reminder that his seat will be far hotter than former President Weah’s.”

Yesterday, Liberians had better understanding and full knowledge of Mr. Boakai’s intensions, plans, policies and pronouncements when he mounted the podium to deliver his inaugural address, minutes after taking the oath of office on January 22, 2024.

While the President is looking through the windows, there are growing concerns in many quarters about the galaxy of what they refer to as know-all, domineering, bossy folks around him, who feel very significant to the process of ensuring victory for the health-laden incoming leader.

People fear that the mindset of ‘playing vital role in the victory makes me one important in the kitchen’ could be the straw that is likely to break the camel’s back.

Mr. Boakai won the elections on the appealing matra of ‘rescuing’ the nation from what they termed as the abyss of the Weah kleptocracy blamed for the country’s most recent woes.  

And according to some Liberians, pledging to rescue the country from the one-term presidency of the former soccer icon is an indicative equivalence of his preparedness to respond to their expectations the soonest of time he assumes office.

Though different groupings planned series of protests yesterday during Ambassador Boakai’s inauguration some level-headed and peace-loving Liberians including former President George Weah voiced strong opposition to such undertaking thus, preventing them from carryout these protest actions.

Who are the bossy folks?

President Bpakai is said to be surrounded by people from different shades of political, social and economic backgrounds who claim to bring on board variety of expertise, experience and knowledge in governance and public policy issues.

The likes of former Auditor General John Morlu, former Finance Minister Amara Konneh (now Senator-elect of Gbarpolu County}, Unity Party Secretary General Amos Tweh, Jacob Kaba-Kollie, a longtime confidant of Boakai, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Senator Darius Dillon and many others are considered ‘people to watch’ in what Boakai does in the months and years to come.

Another significant player in the Boakai arena is Senator Prince Johnson, who it is understood provided enough ingredients for the Boakai victory. Their voices, political fear will matter the most in the senescence leader’s decision-making arena.

The episode of managing expectation

One important issue that has put on Liberians, even those who sacrificed every ounce of time, on the heed is the ‘managing expectations’ wahala propounded by one of his lieutenants.

Diehard loyalists and ordinary citizens were largely taken aback by comments made by Mr. Amara Konneh few days after Boakai was declared winner that Liberians needed to manage their expectations.

Amara Konneh who is being celebrated by the Boakai team and supporters as the mastermind of their hard-won victory, said the President Boakai would face off with other competing priorities which could cause torpidity to his agenda. He said Liberians needed to manage their expectations in dire contrast to what Boakai himself has declared while seeking Liberians’ votes.

But Konneh’s account of asking the public to ‘manage their expectations’ did not go unattended to, as another inner circle celebrant, Mr. John Morlu, former Auditor General of Liberia in the government Boakai served as Vice President, robustly discounted and rebuffed him.

Quoting Mr. Boakai, Morlu indicated that the former VP has allthe wherewithal to deal with the country’s problems head-on and in the quickest of time, including meeting the bread and butter needs of citizens. He said no one needed to tell Liberians to manage expectations; because they voted Mr. Boakai to deliver on promises he made,” Morlu discounted his team rival.

Analysts, however, view these early disagreements on key policy issue in the Boakai camp as complete forewarning, as such personality show between two influential support icons could cast serious dark cloud on the Boakai presidency.

While Konneh appears to be positioning himself to be a look-up-to to get for Boakai to get things done, Morlu is also not lying back. His many outbursts and cutting-edge and forewarning statements are said to be portraying him as a force to reckon with in the Boakai celebrated team.

In one statement, Morlu asserts that, “For Joe Boakai and Liberia, we will push aside anyone who will not change or deliver results.”

Readers of political science opined that Morlu is attempting to weird too much authority Boakai may find so tetchy to deal with. In their widest cogitation, the President finds himself in it two-edge sword situation.

They also insist that Morlu is playing smart by continuously glorifying Boakai as having hollowed transformative leadership dexterities to reposition Liberia and restore the years eaten by locusts. For them, he does that to win the heart of the President-elect in order to put in the position of dictating every decision.  

Apart from these ostentatious happenings, reports of behind-the-scene convolutions continue to inundate the public space, wherein it is alleged that Morlu, Konneh rivalry is spilling over.

So, who controls the ball and dictates the pace of events including having unhindered access to the president-elect is reportedly rendering the environment around him extremely topsy-torvy.

It is also alleged that officials are agitating amongst themselves over potential positions in government, trying to twist the president-elect arms towards their taste to occupy lucrative government institutions.

Another worrying factor that could stain the Boakai presidency is the reported plans to give greater attention to older folks than the youthful guys as was the case in the quodam UP administration.

Then President Ellen Sirleaf provided enough platform for young people in her government as a way of sharpening their experiences and also equipping them for greater leadership roles. This situation of turning back on the younger ones in the UP for older folks, according to experts, could undercut the President-elect transformative agenda.

They asserted that his age might put him in the position to rely on external advices in whatever decisions he would take. That is where it is alleged that the bossy folks he is surrounded by could push for their own interest to the detrimental of the country and even his presidency.

The current declaratory judgment lawsuit the Unity Party brought against newly elected House Speaker, Cllr. J. FonatiKoffa of Grand Kru County has become another straw in how Mr. Boakai dribbles and dabbles his way through his litany of “know-all” individuals, who are not leaving any stone unturned in showcasing their desires to control the system.

There are insinuations in the public that the new Liberian leader was now aware of the lawsuit prior to filing it. Besides, there are reports also that some level-headed and moderate individuals around the Boakai table advised against taking such decision as it could repercussive or boomeranging effects, but the domineering proponents insisted on going for the kill.

From all said and done, most Liberians are beginning to strongly believe that Boakai finds himself in the midst of ‘lions’ or ‘know-all men’ who are bent on roaring at him when they are not okay with his decisions.

They are equally contending that the new President is in a twist-a do or die situation-that could threaten his presidency and eventually throw the ‘Rescue’ agenda he campaigned on into a ditch.

Edited January 22, 2024

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