Joseph Boakai’s Koung Selection as Vice-Presidential Running Mate, and His Greatly Appalling Alliance of Convenience With Prince Johnson, Leaves a Bitter Taste

Posted April 29, 2023
by Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

Presidential candidate Joseph N. Boikai’s vice presidential veep stake is over.
Thank God!

After days of speculations and unbelievable hypes from his camp about his choice of a potential running mate, Mr. Boikai introduced on April 28, Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung of Nimba County, a scion of Doodwicken, Jedeapo, Sinoe County, (Grebo), as the man he believed will help him defeat the incumbent George Manneh Weah, to reach the Executive Mansion.

To the joyful noise of his supporters, Mr. Boikai did not disappoint as he finally made his announcement and selected the unseasoned politician and inexperienced Koung, who is in his first term as a lawmaker from arguably vote-rich Nimba County, his only passport for his selection as the running mate to the seasoned and politically experienced Boakai.

Dubbed the ‘Rescue Team,” I guess on a mission to rescue Liberia from the hapless and incompetent Weah presidency, the Boikai-Koung ticket failed glaringly to rescue its own coalition members from staying home on the day of the announcement of this grand coronation supposedly meant to rescue Liberia, as key members reportedly stayed away from this performative event.

The winner here is not the former vice president but the former warlord, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who was able to avail his massive influence and ego to cement his role as a kingmaker, in a crucial presidential election that needs all the behind-the-scene muscling to win it all.

For Prince Y. Johnson, now Senator Johnson, a notorious former warlord who, according to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is accused of allegedly masterminding the killings of untold numbers of Liberians during his war of ‘liberation,’ and is wanted by the international war crimes court, and is also on the no-fly list, to have so much power and influence in Liberia that a major presidential candidate aligns himself with this guy and not stay away from him, is worthy of our collective angst and condemnation.

This kind of decision-making and pandering by former vice president Joseph Boikai is not only insensitive but flawed and left me to question his judgment and compassion, especially at a time when most Liberians are still wailing in grief and haven’t had any closure from the gruesome killings of their loved ones during the 14-year senseless civil war, when Prince Johnson is unremorseful and emboldened, leaves me to conclude that a Joseph Nyumah Boikai presidency will be no different from a George Manneh Weah presidency.

Remember now that another presidential candidate Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., pandered to Senator Prince Y. Johnson, reportedly donating $55,000 to Mr. Johnson’s so-called education initiative.

This tasteless act was never disputed by Mr. Cummings who proudly donated money to Prince Johnson’s education fund, which he later clarified as only $25,000, as if donating to this so-called education fund of a coldblooded killer and former warlord who is wanted by international law enforcement for his crimes against humanity is a lesser sin.
Can you imagine a major presidential candidate in a genuinely democratic country in the West donating any amount to Adolf Hitler’s education funds, or even pandering to Hitler to get votes to help him or her win the presidency? That individual’s political career and presidential ambitions would be dead on arrival and their image and reputation tarnished.

Forget it, not in Liberia.

Only in Liberia, a country with zero laws, and zero institutions so far is unable to hold candidates and elected officials accountable, a country where these individuals can roam around as heroes and respected politicians, is that failed country.

However, Boikai, who was vice president under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for 12 years, and was a government civil servant for over four decades, ought to understand or is expected to understand the machinations of Liberian politics such as greed and influence peddling, the emotional toil and bad judgments of the office, the anger and disappointments it inspires, and the raw and unlimited power that comes with the job when promises are broken and decisions are eternally deferred, is a country where poor people are neglected and left to suffer and die.

That is the preferred way in Liberian politics – use them and sweet-talk them during the campaign and election seasons and then abandon them and leave them to suffer and die after it is all over.

The Liberian people are not new to this style of inhumane and deceitful politics, the kind that abandoned human beings and institutions and takes them for granted, as they often would see these heartless and good-for-nothing politicians only during the campaign seasons and hear from them no more after the campaign season is over, as power, greed, and the rotten class system literally inhibits them from taking their elected positions seriously by attending to the needs of their people and the country.

As a career politician and a guy who has been in and around Liberian politics his entire adult life, former Vice President Joseph N. Boikai is guilty of these charges of political neglect and abandonment of human beings and institutions, which has made many Liberians lose faith in politicians such as Boakai and others, and lose faith in the nation they loved and always called home.

This neglectful style of Liberian politics has been all too callous, personal, and stressful for all Liberians, and destructive to the nation and the institutions that are the fundamental pillars of its growth and development.

I personally refused to be a victim of this talk-talk and do nothing Liberian political system, as these presidential candidates haven’t shown me that they are or can do better than the incumbent George Manneh Weah, and haven’t said anything about reducing the incredibly dangerous powers of the imperial Liberian presidency, haven’t spoken about a national referendum to decentralize the stifling – centralized national and local government systems that continue to hold back development and progress, and have yet to articulate a plan to get rid of the corrupt National Elections Commissions.

So far, the non-actions of these presidential candidates continued to remind me every day that they are bent on repeating and operating from the anti-Liberia playbook that previous dictatorial presidents used over the years and decades that made them powerful and above the law, and unaccountable to the Liberian people.

Joseph Nyuma Boikai’s choice of Jeremiah Koung as a running mate, coupled with his chilling political alliance of convenience with Senator Prince Y. Johnson, is insensitive, and cowardly, and exposed his poor judgment and decision-making skills. 


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