“How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
(2 Samuel 1:27)
By: Isaac W. Jackson, Jr.
Like many Christians, I believe that the Holy Bible conveys objective and fundamental truths. And so, this passage from the Holy Bible came to mind as I saw a handful of Unity Party (UP) leaders and partisans parade in “protest”. Notably absent was the UP Standard Bearer, Former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and his two sons, both of whom are employed by the government at Maritime and Social Security. Understandably, Boakai’s last public appearance at a UP Presser bespoke of an aged and unhealthy elder.
At 80 years, and fitted with a pacemaker, Boakai can be forgiven for his inability to lead the UP “Protest”. But Boakai cannot be forgiven for misleading the UP into a place of such political embarrassment so that the once-mighty party has to be begging foreign embassies and missions to rescue it from its own follies. The UP as an institution and its partisans deserve better leadership from Boakai. After more than half a century in public service, if Boakai cannot lead the UP into public respect and consideration; what is the value of his “leadership experience” the UP wishes the Liberian people to believe Boakai possesses.
Touted by the vaunted UP propaganda machinery as “experienced”, the octogenarian politician has shown no such character and trait. Of the UP leadership of the Liberian Government in which he was second-in-command, Boakai describes it as a period of “squandered opportunities”. Showing no capacity to reconcile with his boss, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who named him to her ticket, Boakai ran against the successes of the UP and lost massively to George Weah in 14 out of Liberia’s 15 counties.
With his stranglehold of the party, he maneuvered a relative and stooge into the Chairmanship and took the UP into a collaboration in which they agreed to a democratic primary to choose their Standard Bearer, and that they would remain enjoined at the hips until Weah is defeated in 2023. While presiding over the CPP, the four-party collaboration, Boakai announced the withdrawal of the UP, and claimed the group to which he had wedded the UP for nearly two years was “a product of fraud”.
In the face of the challenge by two other members of the CPP, as if withdrawn from reality, Boakai would publicly bluster that the laws would not be applied to him or the UP. In fact, it did. In Lofa County, from which Boakai and the UP hail, consistent with the Framework Agreement of the CPP, Boakai and the UP are not permitted to field a candidate in the May 10 Senatorial By-election. Hence, a few party faithfuls are taking to the streets and running to a number of foreign embassies and missions begging for some intervention, if not intrusion, to save Boakai and the UP.
UP does not need the interventions of foreign embassies and missions to rescue it. The party needs its faithfuls to rescue it from its Standard Bearer who has clearly been left behind by changing times and circumstances. Boakai may have been a ‘good’ second fiddler. Even then, he called himself a “parked car”. Attempts by the mighty UP to move the “parked car” from the comforts of the garage and onto the challenging race track has only left the UP floundering and falling. Some cars are best left in garages and showrooms, just like some people are followers and should not be burdened with the duties of leading.
Leadership is the difference between how high a country or a party may rise, or how low they can fall. As it ‘protested’ it was painful to see how far the once-mighty UP has fallen under Boakai.
* The author, BSc., LL.B, LL.M, former Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Also served with Liberia’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism from 2008 as Assistant and later Deputy Minister for Press & Public Affairs. Jackson defends a political career which arises from his days as a student activist at the University of Liberia