Monrovia – In his usual authoritative tone, the Liberty Party political leader Cllr. Charles Brumskine took time off to blast Vice President Joseph Boakai on his recent comment about President Ellen Sirleaf’s alleged support to Liberty Party.
“I have heard this for a while from other presidential candidates and their surrogates and even surrogates of the Vice President, but had decided not to respond, knowing that it is designed to distract [me] from the important issue of who is most prepared to lead our country.
But because such nonsense has been reiterated by a presidential candidate, who is the sitting Vice President of the country, I now feel constrained to respond” – Charles Brumskine
“It is totally false, and there is not an iota of truth to the insinuation of the Vice President."
"The President of Liberia has not given Liberty Party any support in cash or kind. And she is not supporting my candidacy,” Brumskine said at a press conference held at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
Without mincing his words, Cllr. Brumskine left no stone unturned in his reaction to Vice President Joseph Boakai, saying, “I have heard this for a while from other presidential candidates and their surrogates and even surrogates of the Vice President, but had decided not to respond, knowing that it is designed to distract [me] from the important issue of who is most prepared to lead our country.
But because such nonsense has been reiterated by a presidential candidate, who is the sitting Vice President of the country, I now feel constrained to respond,” Brumskine added.
VP Boakai’s Assertion
Vice President Boakai in recent FrontPageAfrica interview said that President Sirleaf was not supporting the Unity Party the way she should.
“I know what she’s not doing for the Unity Party, but the people probably know what she’s doing for other parties. We’re asking her – the Unity Party is her party, it’s the party that would bear her legacy and she ought to be supporting it,” he said.
“I am not the one saying that President Sirleaf fully supports Brumskine. The people are reading the signs and they’re saying that,” Boakai said.
“We live in a society where everybody supposedly is informed about everything that is happening."
"So the way we go about things, the people are informed and they interpret your movement, your action, your body language and they say, ‘We see certain things happening.”
“Whether she’s supporting Brumskine wholly and solely I don’t know. The people who are reading the signs are saying ‘This is what we see.’ They have spoken to it publicly, she has heard it,” Boakai said.
But Brumskine questioned the Vice President to tell the Liberian people from where is the President supposed to get the money to finance his (Brumskine) campaign.
“We are watching to see whether the Government of Liberia will finance Unity Party’s presidential campaign. We hope that is not your intention.
This is a different election Mr. Vice President; this election is about the heart and soul of our country,” Brumskine said.
The Native- Divide
The Liberty Party leader expressed his fury over what he termed as ‘divisive politics’ the ‘-country’ politics which he claimed was being preached by supporters of the Vice President.
“We have also heard from political aspirants and their surrogates the preposterous allegations that the President is supporting me, and not Hon. Joseph Boakai, who is the Unity Party standard bearer, because she is Kongo and I am Kongo. "
"Please, I beg all those seeking political office to stop trying to bring this division to our country again. It is the Liberian people who have kept their peace and hope since 2003. And they should be allowed to enjoy the dividends of peace,” Brumskine said.
According to him, the rumors of the President support comes from the fact that Liberty Party appears to be better financed than it was in 2011, adding that it is because the party has broadened it support base.
He further stated that this year’s elections should be issue driven rather than personal attacks and tribal divide.
“Liberians are tired of the demagogues dividing us, and in the end killing the people, destroying the country, only to become our rulers.
This time around, we believe Liberians will elect the people who have them at heart, are most qualified, most prepared, have the relevant experience, and the requisite integrity to lead. As we say in Liberia,” Brumskine said.
Brumskine continued: “Da -Country man business the people will eat; will that help market women and men to move from market stalls into stores?”
“Da -Country man business that will help the poor people children to get into good schools?
“Da Kongo-Country man business that will take healthcare to Liberians who live in the country side, so that pregnant women will not continue to die in child birth?
“Da Kongo-Country- man business that will help our farmers grow bigger farms?
“Da Kongo-Country man business that will fix the farm to market roads so that rural farmers can get their farm produce to the market?” he asked rhetorically.
He noted that only politicians who have nothing to offer a nation to preach politics on tribal lines.
“When Ebola hit this country in 2014, it did not pick one ethnic group over another. In fact, Ebola started in the home district of the Vice President—Foya District, Lofa County.
When the economy is performing poorly and the price of everything goes up, it is the political ruling class that is able to afford basic goods and services, leaving the average Liberian to struggle on his or her own.
When the schools are bad and students fail basic proficiency tests, the school will not pass your child because of his/her ethnic group.
It is the poor and disadvantaged, regardless of their background, that continue to suffer in this country of ours,” Brumskine asserted.
The LP Political leader said the -Country divide is only proclaimed when politicians are looking for government jobs for their personal benefit.
“After they are elected to public offices, you never hear of them putting forth policies, laws, or taking actions that would benefit the people. Suddenly they become the Monrovia big shots, members of the political ruling class, leaving the poor people to struggle on their own.” Brumskine added.
Vice President Boakai Office budget
Dispelling rumors that Vice President Boakai budget is too tight for him to give back to his district; Brumskine noted that Boakai’s budget for three years is bigger than his county health budget for three years.
“While the Office of the Vice President has received nearly US$9 million from the 2014 fiscal year to now, the total spending on health institutions in Lofa, his home county, for the same three-year period was only US$3,406,881. Only US$1,350,000 is proposed for Lofa health institutions for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.”
“The Lofa Community College received only US$3,406,881 for operations and construction. This is unfair!
The poor people of Liberia cannot continue to bear the burden of supporting government officials in Monrovia. It is time to invest in the people and their children,” Brumskine said.
He averred that in spite of the Ebola outbreak and the failing economy the Vice President budget remains the same.
“Our Vice President’s salary and benefits have not been reduced by one cent because of Ebola or because the economy is failing. And, Mr. Vice President, this is not what the people on the street are saying; these are verifiable facts!” Brumskine noted.
“For the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the government has proposed to give the office of the Vice President US$2,394,287. For the current fiscal year 2016/2017, the government will give the Office of the Vice President US$2,193,759.
For the 2015/2016 fiscal year, the government gave the Office of the Vice President US$2,313,094.
For 2014/2015 fiscal year, while Ebola was raging and killing people in Lofa, the Office of the Vice President received US$1,828,091. In total since the 2014 budget year, and over the last 3 years, the Vice President’s Office has received US$8,729,231.”
Brumskine argued that Boakai is a rich man as opposed to his supporters presenting him as a poor man from Lofa.
“Today, the supporters of H.E. Joseph N. Boakai present him as a poor man from Lofa, and that he would understand the plight of poor people.
But don’t be fooled, Joseph N Boakai is not poor like you or even as me. As Vice President, his office receives more money from the government budget than any other Vice President has received in Liberia’s history.”
“He has enjoyed some of the best and most lucrative government jobs — Minister of Agriculture, Ambassador, Managing Director of the LPMC, at the time when LPMC had money, and several other positions. Vice President Boakai might have been poor a long ago, but today he is among the richest one percent of Liberians who are enjoying the best of this country.”
Vice President has said nothing or taken no action
Brumskine said it has been an Ellen and Joe show from 2005 till present.
“The President and Vice President share a common governance philosophy, common policies on the economy, healthcare, corruption, reconciliation, and the list goes on.”
According to him, for 11 years the Vice President has said nothing or taken no action that would make Liberians believe otherwise.
“We are, therefore, very surprised to hear the Vice President saying that over all those years, and after receiving millions of dollars, he was only a Vice President and not the President, so he could not influence government policies or decisions.”
Recalling his days in the Senate, Brumskine said he led by example, and by persuading his colleagues, working along with them to enact Legislations in the interest of the Liberian people, opposing President Charles Taylor.
“Through the Liberian Senate, I was able to influence national policies; when I could no longer have an impact on the governance of our country, in the interest of the Liberian people, it was time to get out, and I did."
"Why haven’t you gotten out of government? Why is it that only now you are talking about not being able to influence decisions during your stewardship of this country?” Brumskine asked.
He wondered if Vice President Boakai cannot influence one person he might not be able to influence four million people.
“Mr. Vice President, you have been President of the Liberian Senate for 11 years, and the only excuse you can come up with for doing nothing is that you were only Vice President.
As Vice President, you could not influence one person, President Sirleaf, how would you influence four million Liberians, if you were elected President? But you should know that while you were just being Vice President, many Liberians living up country were just being forgotten.”