New Year, New Administration, ‘New Beginnings’
AT THE VERY CLOSE OF LAST YEAR — 2017, some unprecedented things happened. Some of those very good events rode over into the beginning of the New Year — 2018, which we hope will continue all throughout this year and the next six years of this new administration and be established as a landmark in our nation’s political life.
FEW HOURS BEFORE COUNSELOR Jerome George Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), had made the final pronouncement as to which one of the two candidates – Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai or Senator George Manneh Weah – had won the December 26th Presidential Runoff Election on Friday, December 29, Liberians, for the very first time in our recorded history, watched and listened as the defeated candidate in a major political contest concede to his opponent before that person could even be declared winner of the runoff by the institution statutorily responsible.
THAT SINGULAR ACT by this Statesman, His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Vice President of Liberia, won him many admirations that day and beyond. Some of his opponents believed indeed that the Veep never had the intrinsic believe of “self” in running for the nation’s highest office, to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is expected to leave office by the last week of this month.
THE VICE PRESIDENT had earlier on that Friday, rang President-elect Weah on his mobile phone to congratulate him for winning the runoff election, which at some point became very acrimonious between them on one hand and among their supporters on another.
BEFORE THE WHOLE ELECTORAL process had boiled down to the two-party race— Unity Party (UP) of Veep Boakai and Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator Weah — there had been 20 individuals, who contested in the Tuesday, October 10th 2017, Presidential and Legislative Elections. At the end of this process, the CDC and the UP emerged as first and second place institutions respectively qualified to go to the runoff. Because none of the 20 candidates obtained the Constitutional requirement of 50% plus one vote to be declared winner of the contest, the first two individuals with the first and second highest amount of votes/percentages, qualified to battle it out to ultimately get the one person, who would be the new Commander-In-Chief.
BOTH THE CDC AND THE UP partisans and supporters headed to the polls on December 26, 2017, to cast their votes for their preferred candidate.
ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2017, Cllr. Korkoya read out nearly 99 percent of the results, which very heavily favored the Coalition of Senator Weah. And, so, on Friday, the next day, Veep Boakai conceded, graciously, before the final results could be announced later that day.
THIS ACT OF MAKING CONCESSION has never before been recorded in our nation’s political history. It didn’t happen in 1997 when the current President, Madam Sirleaf, who came a distance second, lost to former President Dakpahnah Dr. Charles Ghangay Taylor in the 1997 election. Also, it didn’t happen in the 2005 Presidential and General Elections, which the current President won. It was in that year, arguably, that Liberians began to experiment with democracy. President-elect George Weah, who lost to Madam Sirleaf, in the runoff election in 2005, didn’t concede neither did he congratulate her immediately following the announcement or before the pronouncement when it became clear that he would have lost. Same way in 2011, again Senator Weah, who contested in that election as a running mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman, neither him nor his standard bearer, did the honorable thing by conceding to President Sirleaf, who won again in the runoff.
HOWEVER, THIS PRECEDENT has now been set by 73-year-old Veep Boakai, who is not likely to contest again after six years of the new George Weah-led administration’s first term.
IN HIS CONCESSION SPEECH, Veep Boakai said, “My worth and ambition to serve will never push me to stoop low to violence. The truth of the matter is that what I was seeking was not power or title, but instead an opportunity to serve. My love for country is more profound and intrinsic than my desire for the presidency.
“AS SUCH, A WHILE AGO, I called Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), to congratulate him on emerging as the winner in the presidential contest. I also availed myself to help him in any way he may find me useful to advance the good of our country.”
FOLLOWING AMBASSADOR BOAKAI’S speech in which he also mentioned: “My name will not be used as an excuse for one drop of human blood to be spilled in this country,” some of his main lieutenants during the political campaign activities, including former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, joined his unprecedented move and took to the social media, to also congratulate President-elect Weah and wished him well.
AUGUSTINE NGAFUAN: “ON FRIDAY, December 29, 2017, the Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai did something very unique and probably unprecedented in the history of our dear country. He called Senator George Manneh Weah, Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and congratulated him on his election as the next President of the Republic of Liberia. Vice President Boakai then delivered a formal concession address committing to putting the interest of country above personal ambition.
“AS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN Manager of the Boakai for President Campaign Team, I join my Standard Bearer in congratulating my fellow compatriot, Senator George Manneh Weah, for his historic victory. I also commend Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice President-elect and all our brothers and sisters in the Coalition for Democratic Change for winning the mandate of the majority of the Liberian people through a peaceful and democratic process.
“I WISH PRESIDENT-ELECT Weah Godspeed as he embarks on the herculean duty of captaining the Ship called Liberia, a Ship on which we all are passengers.”
TRUE TO THE PRESIDENT-ELECT’S acceptance speech in which he confirmed: “Fellow partisans, I received a concession call from His Excellency Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai. I thanked him and said that in the interest of our people, we will work together. He is a statesman and also my neighbor. If I have to walk over to greet and get advice from him, I will. That is what neighbors are for,” he did indeed pay the outgoing Veep a New Year’s Day visit. The President-elect was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Clar Marie Weah. This is another unprecedented move that we have not witnessed in our nation’s history.
THE WEAHS PRESENTED a New Year’s Day’s gift to the Vice President.
IN A THREE-MINUTE-FEW-second video of the visit, shot and posted on Facebook by Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood, President-elect Weah is heard telling the Vice President that in the gone electoral process, no one person won and that the win is for Liberia in general.
SOME OF THE VEEP’S LIEUTENANTS, who witnessed the visit, stated that both the Vice President and the President-elect met behind close door in the Veep’s private office as their families share pleasantries.
THIS IS VERY UNPRECEDENTED in our body politic; we hope that this precedence that have begun and the camaraderie between and among outgoing and incoming officials will spill over to the larger Liberian society thereby leading to national reconciliation in this New Year, under this New Administration, which has ushered in New Beginnings.