Dissecting Winners & Losers In Boakai’s Vice Standard Bearer Pick - Part 1

An Analysis By Sherman C. Seequeh
Contributing Writer

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 14, 2017



VP Boakai (L) & Speaker Nuquay (R)
Photo - Courtesy of FPA

Nothing eloquently exposes the hollowness of Unity Party’s sermonized pledge of forming a coalition of new progressive forces, others call it rainbow forces, towards building an inclusive government than Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s vice standard-bearer pick. The political sermon paraded by proponents of the party before the deadline-choked pronouncement of Margibi County’s Emmanuel Nuguay was that a new Unity Party was being built to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s “exclusive and vindictive regime” - a regime they believe hardly forgives its critics and which keeps traditional political foes on the national leadership margin. A line was drawn by the proponents to show the difference between President Sirleaf and her Vice President of 12 years - a pal of forty years - as if Sirleaf was the bogeywoman and the obstacle to the Liberia’s transformation amid enormous national and international goodwill in the last 12 years. Unsuspecting forces, out of convenience and perhaps the desire to settle scores with President Sirleaf who elbowed them for most part her regime, got hooked by the rainbow sermon. Even though they knew - and even still know - that the most logical thing to do was to retire the 12-year-old political failure, they got amused and groggy by the refrain of Boakai’s innocence of UP’s excesses and failures, as well as the imaginary maltreatment meted out against the Vice President by President Sirleaf and her inner circles.

In the queues of “coalition forces” that have trooped to the new Unity Party was a throng of outsiders - non-traditional members of the party - who either briefly served in President Sirleaf’s cabinet but whisked off over policy differences and many others the President deliberately ignored or refused governmental participation. Another group of the forces included partisans who had backslidden for years feeling let down by President Sirleaf but had a reconsideration and revival in a Boakai takeover. But technically, the political symmetry which was cleverly realigned into a somewhat harmonious whole involved traditional UP partisans - meaning partisans since 2005 or thereabout on the one hand and new comers most of who have had origin in the country’s elite progressive forces but had wandered about in the political wilderness for all these years.

The fight that occasioned the marathon vice standard-bearer pick, which perhaps accounted for last minute pronouncement this week, two distinct forces  got factored into the choice-making process: first, the mainstream party stalwarts who dearly anchored their hopes on political continuity on the one hand and second the maze of incoming progressive forces whose attraction to VP Boakai more than the UP is or was anchored in the hope of inclusion and participation by rebranding or Boakaisizing the Unity Party on the other. The political continuity agenda is not one of the political chips desired by the neo-UP forces whose inclusion and participation in the party—and God forbade in a continuity government - is not guaranteed.

The Unity Party superstructure is still well and kicking. They still hold on to the national wealth in many ways. They are in a very good position to lavishly fund the party’s campaign, even if it means wrecking the national coffers for the sake of finally coming to keeping their claws on government and the goodies that come with it. The progressive forces, despite the new dynamism and creative thinking they may bring on board, are penniless. They don’t have the wherewithal to compete with mainstream UPists whose mighty dollar and proximity keep the standard-bearer in firm grip.

Joseph Nyumah Boakai was facing a dilemma: maintaining the symmetry unscathed. Did he have to choose a neo-UPist, a newcomer as opposed to someone from his traditional Unity Party bloc? If he did not choose a Johnny-just-come UPist, how would he prove he’s a man of his word? How would he prove his pledge to make radical break away from President Sirleaf’s “vindictive” or exclusionary regime? And if he did not choose traditional UPist, wouldn’t he lose financial and material support guaranteed by that affinity? Because, after all, it is the traditional UP bloc, that sits on the Liberian financial mine—the wealth of the nation. Wouldn’t he be labeled a traitor of the political continuity dogma which in turns guarantees him the political shell and vehicle found in the name of Unity Party? Wouldn’t he face mass defections and inertia of his base and even face a palace coup?

Finally, the true color of the “pragmatic Boakai” has come out. All outsiders are left in the cold. The progressives who have plotted their comeback to relevance in the body politic via the “transformed UP” are out. The Southeasterners who tried to soothe their hopes over their years of neglect by Monrovia with “a more understanding Boakai” are out. The winner is the nucleus UP. A UP Vice President of 12 years is the Standard-bearer. A UP Speaker of the House of Representatives becomes the Vice Standard Bearer. By this, only a fool will still entertain the transient rhetoric of a “coalition movement for Boakai” or “rainbow forces for united Liberia”.  UP has returned to bare-bone UP. No space for outsiders. No space for “amalgamated forces”. 

Where is the “pragmatic Boakai”? Where is the “rebranded UP”? Where is the message of creating “a broad based formula towards building an all inclusive government”? How different is UP under Sirleaf and UP under Boakai?

And what is also more important about the Boakai pick is this: Boakai or a Boakai UP is no different from President Sirleaf or a Sirleaf UP. Those who have paraded with the hope that they have seen a new and different Liberia under Boakai need to be sober enough. Those who have propounded that Boakai does not share the excesses and failures of the Sirleaf reign would be silly to still be amused by that rhetoric. Sensible people will no longer listen; for it has just been disproven by the man himself, who has failed in his VSB pick to show signs of change and inclination of openness and broadmindedness; who has just walked the walk of Madam Sirleaf; who has rejected outsiders’ participation at the highest possible level; who has entrenched bare-bone UP; whose definition of geopolitical balance heralds a Liberia of political centrality in one corner of the nation; and who has shown a winner-takes-all mentality ingrained in UP stratagem.

Moving forward in the upcoming campaign, proponents must be shame to parade with rhetoric of “new UP”. There’s nothing different between the two. It’s folly anyone from the outside being wooed by the UP, other than the core UP, to keep being bemused by such rhetoric—anymore. The era of political failure under UP, characterized by unbridled corruption, nepotism and massive neglect of the masses of the people, is a shared responsibility that needs no disclamation by Hon. Boakai or his supporters. It can’t be blamed on Madam Sirleaf alone. Boakai shares it. He just proved it. They all must be tied to it. The opposition has won, and can win, on it.

© 2017 by The Perspective

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