The city of Vionjama, Lofa County was a place to see last week when thousands citizens of Liberia’s ‘Breadbaskets’ County swelled with huge supporters of Joseph N. Boaka who queued out to land him their support for the 2017 presidency.
Their petition to their kinsman for the nation’s highest office appeared interesting when the man himself armed with his darling wife, Madam Katumu Yatta Boakai in their joyous mood graced the occasion.
The hall prepared for this colorful occasion could no longer withhold the numbers of supporters, and well-wishers who had gone to witness the occasion, and take a glance at the upcoming president of Liberia.
Already seated to give their blessing to this occasion were officials of the ruling Unity Party, the county’s legislative caucus, and other well wishers as the petitioners poured praises to the man of their choice backed with traditional songs and mask dances.
The petitions, including superintendents, chiefs, zoes, elders, women and youth groups prevail on Vice President Boakai to contest the presidency. “First and foremost Mr. Vice President, Liberians are aware that you are a God-fearing leader who has Liberia and its people at heart, an apostle of peace, a committed Christian and devoted husband.
You are indeed an unquestionable believer in dignity and equality for all and a good politician who plays by the rules of democratic tenets and equity. Liberians know that you are a man of integrity, and your public service records spans over 35 years with stellar accounts of information that bears true testament to history.”
Liberia has never had a President from Lofa County, but has produced two vice presidents; Boakai and the late Harry Moniba, who served as Vice President to Samuel Doe. The citizens said they were optimistic and hopeful that Boakai would be victorious in 2017. “Many years ago, a son of Lofa County, Dr. Harry Fumba Moniba, was chosen to serve the second highest constitutional office of our country. Today, you, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, have diligently served our Country as Vice president for the past nine years.
Mr. Vice President, you are one of our distinguished sons, and you embody all of the qualities Lofa County represents—hardworking, effective and inclusive tradition, loyal and reliable ally. “ Boakai was born in the remote village of Worsonga, Foya District, Lofa County, on November 30, 1944, just before the end of World War II, and at the birth of the Open-Door Policy.
The petitioners recalled that because Monrovia did not extend any opportunity to Worsonga, for young people to improve their lives, Boakai was forced at a tender age, to leave his parents in pursuit of an education. “You defied your family’s poverty, and never gave in to its vices, nor allowed it to prevent you from achieving your goals. You became the first out of Worsonga to graduate from college. Many of the challenges you encountered and overcame, is a demonstration of your endurance through poverty and hardship. Your story is a profile of the experiences of the larger underprivileged population of Liberia.”
The petitioners described Boakai as a capable manager, who has the expertise of skillfully controlling and managing the affairs of our nation & people; and possesses the potential to grow our national economy from the bottom up. “As an entrepreneur, you have empowered your people by expanding opportunities in the agricultural sector and the extractive industry, and by organizing businesses with considerable initiatives and best practices. As an astute politician, you have been battle tested time after time, and passed with proven track records; and, as a career agriculturist, Liberians have compelling reasons to believe and unequivocally state that under your leadership, Liberia will be self-sufficient in food production and enjoy food security.”
The petitioners said Liberians are quite aware of the Vice president’s peaceful co-existence with everyone, and that includes citizens from all walks of life as well as expatriates. Yours is a very humble lifestyle that lacks strife or bitter disagreement over issues. You are considered a gentle giant, who speaks your truth quietly, clearly, and confidently. You are always reminding people about the importance of being on good terms with all people, without compromising one’s integrity. You strongly believe that everyone, including the poor, rich, old and young people have their stories to tell and they deserve concern ears.”
The petitioners acknowledged that Lofa County alone cannot produce the next president and extended an open arm of acceptance, collaboration, cooperation and fellowship to compatriots from all the villages, towns, clans, and chiefdoms of all our sister counties Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Maryland, Margibi, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, and Sinoe.
Following countless number of speeches at the program, finally the man of the day, Jospeh N. Boakai took the podium to express his gratitude to his people for their quest to elect him come 2017 as their president.
Responding, the soft-spoken Liberian Vice president said, “I come before you today, humbled by a vision of a brighter future for our country; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determine to act boldly and collectively on behalf of all Liberians to accept your petition to contest the presidency of our country in 2017. I believe in you and that together, we can build a strong Liberia with our own wealth and resources,” Boakai told the gathering at the Vionjama City Hall with thunderous applauds.
Outlining his quest for the nation’s highest seat, VP “Farmers will own their own land and crops; and they will be able to sell it at fair market price. Inflation is an evil because it eats away the middle class.”
Noting further he told the petitioners, “Good will come out of evil and that after 14 years of carnage, we need to heal deep seated wounds, reintegrate everyone back into society, reunify our country, and make it whole again”.
“What I see is that all of the concessions in our economy have a combined 40% footprint on our land mass; in other words that is an equivalent of $19 Billion investment is in our economy. In a bid to address those concerns, We will form partnerships with concessionaires and engage in an integrate development planning to that all of us use the same services that long after the concessions are gone, those services will sustain our way of life”, he stressed with heavy applauds from the petitioners.
He further assured his fellow compatriots, that under his government, they will jointly plan with the concessionaires to meet our collective needs for training and a skilled workforce for the public and private sectors. “Along with concessionaires, we will jointly develop an energy infrastructure that meets our collective needs―private and public, including water and sanitation services sharing, roads and railway services sharing, modernization, and expansion of our ports of entry, and development of our trade in the services sector.”
He said, “We will leverage the presence of concessions in our economy to develop our domestic private sector, promote value addition, diversify our exports, and achieve inclusive growth.” He averred that too much government planning for everyone means too much government power; and too much government power over the economy destroys freedom, and reduces people to a life of poverty.
The Liberian Vice President further said he hopes to implement a comprehensively decentralized Liberia that rolls back some powers to you the chiefs and the local communities to make the hard decision on the future of your communities. Added Boakai: “If we hold each other accountable, take responsibility for our own development, act with honesty, and dignity; no Liberian, rich or poor will have to ever fear poverty, unemployment, ill health, or old age.”
By sharing Lofa’s examples with other counties, the 2017 presidential hopeful said, the country can strengthen food production in every county, and feed ourselves and end the danger to our food security― the chronic reliance on imported food commodities. He also said that a strong Educational system that will produce the labor force for 21st century markets; development of a functioning and adequate health care system for all; and a healing of our country from our past woes.
He envisioned a well-structured society, with predictable systems, organized and vibrant urban and rural communities that support family life and advances opportunity for all as well as an IT savvy business and public space, schools and libraries with internet connectivity all across Liberia. The Vice President also envisioned a secure and stable Liberia at peace with itself, that values and practice inclusion and remains a conducive environment for businesses to thrive; opportunity social and upward mobility; and a Liberia that is an active member of the comity of nation; promoting international cooperation, peace, and global security.
For all of these reasons, he said he is accepting the petition to contest the presidency. “With your support that I can be an effective inclusive leader, I accept without any reservation to be a candidate for President of Liberia in 2017. Let me go forth from this day forward at every length and to every clan in the remaining 14 counties, merge our voices, and ask for their support. With one voice, Victory is certain!”
The petitioners said they are proud and confident that the vice president has been tried and tested, and is prepared to provide national leadership for the people of Liberia. “When we unite to elect Joseph N. Boakai as the next president of Liberia, whether that fight is in Maryland, Grand Gedeh, Nimba, River Gee, Grand Kru, Sinoe, Rivercess, Gbaporlu, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, or Cape Mount counties, by joining the fight, it is our values and way of life we are protecting: rule of law, state sovereignty, peace and security, individual human rights and dignity, food security and national development.”
Despite the optimism that greeted Boakai’s petitioning gala Friday, the ruling party faces an uphill battle to win a third successive term, but many political observers say early signs of fragments within the opposition could give the ruling party an edge. The first of what many say would be many more coalitions fell apart before it even got off the ground last week.