Monrovia – Liberia’s vice President-elect Jewel Howard-Taylor has mentioned her ‘greatest weakness’ and how it defers from the leadership characteristics of incoming President George Weah.
The newly elected pair will lead Liberia for the next six years and optimism amongst the population is growing that they would work together to initiate policies for national growth and development.
But Howard-Taylor says “consensus building” is her greatest weakness as a politician, as she describes herself in an interview with the BBC as “Someone with firing power to get things done”.
Jewel’s ‘firing power’ attribute is in sharp contrast to her boss’ leadership style, which she described in the interview as a “consensus builder”.
“He is a consensus builder and that is my weakness,” she said of President-elect Weah during an interview with BBC’s News Day program on Tuesday morning.
“He is patient and he listens to all the voices sometimes I don’t wait for the full consensus.”
Not listening to “full consensus” might impede Jewel’s eagerness to trigger the change she promised on the campaign trail especially as the President remains considerate about his people-centeredness.
The outgoing Bong County Senator is expected to be a backbone for the incoming President considering her assiduous leadership trait.
She maintains unwavering influence in her hometown (Bong County) and would be seen as the crux of female politicians in the country following the exit of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
For now, dissecting her leadership style from President-Elect Weah is significant for the stability of decision-making at the top of the executive.
She will have to reassess her approach.
“I think it’s easier and faster to get something done. But he (Weah) is right that as we come through the crisis we have come through, majority consensus is the best way,” she said.
President-elect Weah, in his acceptance speech on December 30, said his governance style would be pro-poor as a “singular mission and focus of my presidency” in order to transform the lives of all Liberians.
“I can truly say that the best way to celebrate all Liberians is to improve their lives through the instruments of pro-poor public governance. I declare publicly today that transforming the lives of all Liberians is a singular mission and focus of my presidency,” Weah said.
While Jewel is admitting her Achilles heels openly; she seems unconcerned about its ramifications on implementing policies within the executive.
It is, however, too early to critique the vice President-elect administrative abilities although it is obvious to point to a possible disparity in decision-making at the top of government.
Her comments about decision making at the echelon of Liberia’s executive branch of government is fresh off the heels of a massive political infighting between outgoing President Johnson-Sirleaf and her Vice President Joseph Boakai.
The outgoing Vice President claims he was not given a decision-making role, and that Sirleaf’s squandered enormous opportunities for the country.
Many political observers insinuated that Veep Boakai’s criticism of Johnson-Sirleaf’s regime as inferred in his ‘race car’ idiom deepened the feud and cost him her support and the presidency.
In Jewel and Weah, the conjectures of synergy seem overwhelming as many Liberians recall the pair unbending relationship while on a very tense campaign trail that was filled with negative propaganda.
Also, she seems well knowledgeable of Weah’s political limitations but argues that his spirit of patriotism often drives his decisions.
“Weah may be politically inexperienced but he has a heart and commitment to his people to work hard to transform their lives,” she said.
When information about Jewel Howard Taylor’s ex-husband, former President Charles Taylor, alleged interference in the 2017 elections surfaced, she and Weah rumbled through it and refuted all the allegations.
Again, she told the BBC that her ascendency to a top leadership “is not to bring freedom to jailed Liberian President Charles Taylor.”
She again described it as bad propaganda used to scare people in Liberia and the international community.
“I believe I should be given the chance to be who I am based on my record. I believe the issue we dealt with in 2017 is not a Charles Taylor issue because the Charles Taylor issue was not a Liberian issue and I believe our country must go forward and continue to fight for the rights of our people so we have government that looks at inequality and try to fix them for once in 170 years,” she said.
However, she’s on record for making public comments about Mr. Taylor while campaigning, saying the former Liberian leader created a grassroots’ party that made promises to its citizens since 1997.
She said on the campaign trail: “Because of what happened in our government and the abrupt closure and arrest of former President Taylor we were not able to fulfil those promises.
“The NPP is now strong, and so we want to call all of the NPP stalwarts across the length and breadth of Liberia to come on board and help us win these elections, we will put that agenda back on the table.”