By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
The Liberian Community Center in the metro Atlanta suburb of Liburn, Georgia bears his name.
To most Liberians, it is simply the ‘Community Center.” To his diehard supporters who lobbied to put his name on the building that represents the aspirations of Liberians in the State of Georgia, it is the “Joseph N. Boakai Liberian Community Center.”
The vice president’s supporters lobbied for his name to emblazon on the community center during the administration of Leo Mulbah, after Liberians were told that Mr. Boakai donated the initial seed money that gave birth to the founding of the center that is too expensive to maintain.
For a diverse community such as the Liberian community in the State of Georgia or in metro Atlanta, (and to at least dampen the politics), it would have been less controversial if the conference room was named after the vice president, and “Liberian Community Center” was proudly displayed on the front of the building to showcase our strength and the pride of our country to the world.
To politicize a non-for-profit community association that’s supposed to be ‘non-political’ only when the other side wants to be slyly political, speak volumes of the way some see politics from their own narrow lens when it is about them, and only them.
From what I know, the community center or the community association has taken what seems to be a shameless political twist these days when the supposedly “non-political” ones overtly campaigns for their favorite presidential candidate, even as they gleefully boast of their opportunistic connection to a particular politician at the expense of a suffering population.
Amid the dried-face, in-your-face stealing of the nation’s meager resources, the suspicious killings of Liberians and the jailing of journalists for doing their job, these Liberians don’t care.
However, to forget the politics that surrounds the cultural center in metro Atlanta is to forget Joseph N. Boakai, the man behind the name that constantly reminds Liberians of his politics and what he represents in Liberia, in this age of electoral presidential politics.
I am far from suggesting that the Vice President is a player in the slew of corrupt activities that engulfed the country since he joined the governing ticket in 2006 as the second highest political leader in the country.
What is so troubling is the dead silence coming from the office of the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia during these painful years, in the wake of the spiraling national crisis that turned Liberians into renowned beggars and Liberia into a shantytown.
So why should Joseph N. Boakai be promoted to the presidency, and on what basis? Can anyone be promoted to any office or to the highest political office of the land in reticence, only to cling on to the failed record of his or her boss who has failed miserably to lead, as it is the case with the Sirleaf administration?
However, any attempt to reinvent Vice President Boakai or be his character witness should include his role in his current job in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, his public stance on official corruption, the prosecution and confiscation of stolen government funds, the state of the economy and the creation of jobs, the judiciary and rule of law, the legislative branch and oversight, and reducing the power of the imperial presidency.
What’s Vice President Boakai”s position on the prosecution of those who declared war on the Republic of Liberia, killed thousands of innocent Liberians and destroyed an entire country? Can any of the former warlords be eligible for the Liberian presidency and other elected office? Does Boakai have any position on decentralization and development?
As it is now, those who allegedly stole the nation’s money, took up arms and killed others, or inspired others to kill innocent Liberians are now prominent players in Liberian politics.
Joseph Nyumah Boakai, the current Vice President of Liberia and career civil servant in the Liberian government, is a man of fewer words and soaring political ambitions. He wants to be president, period!
Even for a man who is known to fall asleep in public during official ceremonies, is dead set on succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
To show how serious he wants to be president come 2017, Mr. Boakai has been making foreign trips to show how serious he is or can be, even though Liberian nationals residing in foreign countries are ineligible to vote in the 2017 presidential election, in their country of birth.
Like some of his colleagues who are also vying for the 2017 Liberian presidency, Mr. Boakai has yet to put forward a sensible and comprehensive platform that genuinely spells out his vision for the country.
Even if Mr. Boakai’s platform is out for Liberians to see (knowing the opportunistic penchant for most Liberians to go with the wind), there is no guarantee that he will ever be held accountable if his platform is nothing but mere words on a piece of paper.
For a man who hasn’t articulated a position on anything except that he wants to be president, and is the so-called heir apparent to the throne, says a whole lot about Liberian politics and how comical, deadly and unserious it can be.