By: Robert W. Kpadeh
In 2003, I read a brilliant and imposing piece of writing in titled; Joseph N. Boakai, Liberia’s Hidden Treasury”, unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of the writer—but no doubt, he is an erudite ‘pen pusher’.
In this article, the writer emotionally told a personal account of Vice President Boakai’s life—his personal interactions with people and his immaculate leadership in public service citing the Veep days at the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation or LPRC and onward to the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC respectively.
As I meticulously read the article, I quickly surmise that the writer personally knew VeepBoakai and had followed his tracks religiously—perhaps, had worked with him at one of his previous places of service to country.
He described VeepBoakai as a man of immense wisdom, people oriented, family-man, a peace maker, traditionalist, intelligent, cool-temper, humble, honest, consistent and a selfless gentleman. These lofty virtues, the writer combined into what he described as Liberia’s “Hidden Treasury”—in a distinguished yet unassuming gentleman the Nation was yet to discover.
In the last few lines of his telling and inspiring article, he predicted that Joseph NyumahBoakai would rise to become President of Liberia and his presidency would see a unique paradigm shift in the socio-political history of Liberia—and soon he would embark on the journey to the presidency, the writer faithfully and confidently stated.
This was in 2003 and by 2005; Boakai emerged as running mate to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the Unity Party (UP) ticket. The 2005 presidential election was fiercely competitive but the pair won after a second round poll—subsequently assuming the leadership of a shattered, despair and hopeless nation that was desperately yearning for almost everything including, peace, good governance, rule of law, basic social needs and better economic condition for citizens.
The election was generally deemed credible, free and fair by international observers even though the defeated contender, Congress for Democratic Change or CDC heavily contested the results.
Ten years on, VeepBoakai remains a loyal servant and follower of his Boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They have worked the hardest and have managed to change and reposition the country in many respects. Certainly, all is not well but Liberia has turned the corner and is conspicuously on the move. We are no longer a pariah (failed) nation and we are no longer killing each other like we crudely did during our senseless and unwarranted civil upheaval. We are no longer a land of cannibalism and savagery—we are now a destination of foreign direct investment.
Ten years as Vice President, I have come to realize that the writer accounts of VeepBoakai are all true and his prediction or prophecy about him assuming the Liberian Presidency one faithful day could become a dream come through giving the unfolding trends.
I hold this view because as Vice President over the last ten years, Boakai has equated and conducted himself satisfactorily, peacefully and maturely—demonstrating to the Liberian people that he has the temperament, tolerance and sensibility require of a President.
Firstly, he remains a loyal follower of his Boss or his leader and for one to become a leader, he/she must first be led and be a loyal follower—Vice President Boakai has demonstrated unquestionable loyalty to President Sirleaf every step along the way. In fact, many consider him the best Vice President on the African Continent.
I recall in one of his live interviews, the Journalist asked, “do you ever disagree with President Sirleaf”? He responded, “Yes I do when the need arises and I do that peacefully and professionally not in an aggressive or bombastic way. I grew up never allowing my anger to dictate my action. I should not and will not differ with the President in a rivalry way. I should not rival my Boss in the first place, as a Co- Pilot, I am supposed to assist the Captain to successfully pilot the plan to our desired destination but if I begin to physically attack the Captain while the Plan is in mid-air, we both will definitely get distracted and loss our route, and of course we will crash and our collective dream of reaching that destination will be doomed”.
This respond should clearly indicate to all of us that Vice President Boakai is a wise man that can be trusted with national leadership. Besides, VeepBokai’spublic service record is unmatchable and impeccable—he has served everywhere with distinction and integrity.
Secondly, Boakai is best suited to reconcile all of Liberia, a nation marred by disunity and hatred. In fact, his stewardship in the Liberian Senate over the last ten years has unequivocally revealed his reconciling and peaceful spirit. As Leader of the Senate for all these years—dealing with people from different political and tribal backgrounds and orientations coupled with their natural human behaviors and instincts, VeepBoakai has managed to keep peace with every Senator. Collectively, he commandeers a great deal of respect and admiration from both 52nd and 53rd Senates because of the sensibility and sensitivity he has demonstrated as President of the Senate.
There is no account of a Senator spewing any invectives or verbiages at VeepBoakai neither has he ever become a party to any brawl or impasse dogging the Liberian Senate. He is lauded for using wisdom to resolve differences and calm tension in the Senate—and he is known for doing so objectively.
He says the truth to everyone no matter who you are. He does not tolerate gossip and never permits himself to partake in dollar-driven compromises. He fears nothing but to do wrong—meaning doing wrong and evil is Boakai’s greatest fear.
Vice President Boakai remains unblemished. He was never part of any conflict in Liberia and never planned any military invasion in this country and has always being here…a ‘local boy’. He has been and remains peaceful and law abiding citizen who poses no threat or harm to anybody. He remains a friend to all and enemy to none.
Many Liberians are of the opinion that much have been done to resuscitate Liberia after years of unjustified bloodbath and sheer stupidity—maintaining the peace, rebranding the country foreign image, providing democratic freedoms, tolerance, opposition figures no longer thrown behind bars and ordered summarily executed amongst several other goodies realized by the Johnson Sirleaf—led administration but genuine reconciliation remains a towering challenge for the nation. The hurts, grudges and the consequences of the historical wrongs and evils continue to dog and plague the country. The historical wounds are still fresh and people are only pretending to be fine but in their hearts, they are troubled and harshly bitter.
The Country needs a fearless and stainless reconciler—someone who represents the hurts and aspiration of the people. I am talking about someone whose origin and life reflects the story of the historically marginalized class. Maybe Boakai—a full-fledge indigenous who play no role in the fifteen years bloody crisis, a man who started life as a child-farmer and would later migrate to Monrovia in search of greener pasture, is that person.
Here in Monrovia, Boakai would accept to become a janitor, bar tender, restaurant waiter, a street peddler and scores of odd jobs he would easily accept just to survive and obtain education to become the venerated personality he is today. As bad and demeaning life was, Boakai tried hard to make an honest living—perseverance and courage were his consolation. I encourage young people of Liberia toady to emulate the good examples of their Vice President.
Boakai’s life undoubtedly personifies and epitomizes the story of the ordinary shoe shine boy, car washer, pen-pen boy, the downtrodden, the marginalized and all those from the indigenous communities that no matter what your situation, with opportunities backed by determination and courage, you can rise from nobody to somebody.
The 2017 transition must witness the rise of a leader in whom the citizens see themselves and find faith—one whose life can give confidence and inspiration to the hopeless citizenry and one who can reconcile all and put the country on a unified path.
Having carefully followed the workings of Vice President Boakai close to ten years now, I am compelled to agree with that writer that he is indeed, Liberia’s “hidden treasury”. We must tap into this ‘hidden treasury’ in order to change the course of our country—to one that provides hope, possibilities and equal opportunity for all in spite of your name, tribe, sex, religion, creed and affiliations.
Let’s unravel this ‘hidden treasury’ that is endowed with wisdom, humility, reconciliatory spirit, integrity, selfless leadership, fearless mind, traditional values, tolerance, simplicity, accountability and above all, people oriented.
The time has come and the perfect opportunity to change Liberia for the better has presented itself. Boakai is the guy! In my view, he is the consensus candidate in whom every class of Liberians has faith and a bond.
Comes 2017, I entreat and admonish fellow citizens to rally around this ‘hidden treasury’ for the good of this country. It doesn’t matter which political party you are part of or which region you hail from—what matters is the collectivism we must relentlessly accord Joseph NyumahBoakai in the 2017 much heralded political showdown. We must not miss on Boakai, for if we do, I am sacred, we could run our country into a ridiculous ‘mine field’.
Indeed, Joseph N. Boakai is the historical phenomena waiting to be unraveled and unshackled—and a historical paradigm shift richly embedded with hope, opportunities, possibilities and ‘Liberianness’ would emerge, and we all will own Liberia together and equally enjoy its God-given resources together.
Boakai is indeed, Liberia’s historical phenomena. A new dawn is coming! Happy ’26’ to all!