Liberia: Supporters of Former VP Boakai Raise Fund to Reimburse Pres. Weah after Disparaging Comments About Helping Boakai
Monrovia – Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai didn’t have to go through the stress of paying back himself a US$2,500 gesture that was made to him by President George Manneh Weah sometime last year when his (VP) mother-in-law died.
On Friday, December 20, President Weah had made a special appearance on the state broadcaster. On that day, the main host of the show who is the station’s manager, Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie, was assisted by another famous Liberian journalist, Mr. John Kollie.
It wasn’t a ‘normal’ show that Rennie had always hosted. It went on for several minutes, way past its usual end time. The President, who is not someone who wants to always be before journalists and taking questions, had a lot to tell Liberians.
For everything the President had said that day in studio, he received a lot of praises from his many supporters. However, he angered other Liberians and some opposition members alike, when he made some disparaging comments against former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
President Weah had described VP Boakai, his rival during the 2017 Presidential and General Elections as ‘an ingrate’. He also further told the former VP, who is more than 10 years his senior, “to behave.”
The President had narrated how he had sent money to him to facilitate him seek medical attention abroad, for such VP Boakai should have been grateful.
Just around the time the President had appeared on the radio, the Council of Patriots (COP), most of its leadership, including President Weah’s fiercest critic, Mr. Henry Costa, support the former VP, had a plan protest, which was slated for December 31st. It was the same COP, which had staged the June 7 #SavetheState protest that brought into the streets thousands of Liberians from all walks of life. The President had accused the former VP of being in support of the masterminds of the protest against his government.
VP Boakai’s Response Following Weah’s Radio Show
“Just yesterday, the leadership of this country took it to say all kinds of things about us. But you see the Bible says ‘Train up a child in a way he should go and when he grows, he can’t depart.’ That’s the way he was brought up and those are the things he was trained to do,” the former VP had responded the next day at an occasion.
Henry Costa Got Involved
On his talk show, The Costa Show, the next Monday, Costa, who is the fiercest critic of the President and his government, lambasted President Weah for talking about the gesture he had made. On that day, Costa told his audience both in Liberia and the diaspora that he was organizing a fundraising to raise the money and pay it back to the President, through Bomi County Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, who had hand-delivered the US$2,500 to the Vice President.
Costa told FrontPageAfrica Sunday, March 1, that when he had heard that the former VP had decided to return Weah’s money, he reached out to him and pleaded he should allow his supporters to raise the money and send it back. According to Costa, “It would have a symbolic impact. He obliged and said ‘go ahead’ so that we raise the money.” He disclosed to this newspaper that Rep. Snowe had assured him that as soon as the former VP contacts him to go and get the money, he would go for it and take it to the President.
“The reason we did this, traditionally in our culture, you don’t do something for people especially during the time of their bereavement and then you go and politicize it and try to talk about it in a demeaning manner. So, we were offended by that. What we did by raising that money among ourselves is a sign of our disapproval and disgust over what President Weah did.”
US$2,500 Reportedly Raised
On Saturday, February 28, Costa posted to his Facebook: “Today, my team, led by Emmanuel Weah, comprising Boakai Amara Kamara and George Gueh delivered to former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, on my behalf, the amount of US$2,500 that we raised to return Weah’s unsolicited condolence token. Thanks to our donors. Rep. Snowe was present to collect and return it to Weah as he was the one who delivered it to VP Boakai then.”
When VP Boakai received the money in cash from Emmanuel Weah, Costa’s operations man, he said, “I want to say this to [Henry] Costa and the many persons who made this contribution; that upon hearing that President Weah had made public his then kind contribution to the funeral of my late mother-in-law, we had decided that we were going to refund the money. But the good people here in Liberia and in the diaspora thought that I didn’t need to go through this, I want to be grateful to them.”
The former VP singled out Costa for “championing the cause” that led to the money being raised.
The former VP, who hails from rural Liberia, told the contributors that, “I know you all know that this is our tradition that when someone is bereaved, we all put our hands together to make it easier for them.”
He said he and family had not made a request to the President or anyone outside the family, asking for financial assistance. “The children came from the States and many other friends here in the country made contributions; I don’t even want to mention them now.”
Amb. Boakai said he and the rest of the family were taken by surprise when the President made it a public issue.
“Accordingly, since it was Honorable Snowe who actually brought the money without our request, I understand he’s here. We are going to contact him and we are going to give him back the money so he can take it to the President.” He thanked Rep. Snowe for being magnanimous in bringing the money to them.
Rep. Edwin Snowe
Even though Costa had said “Rep. Snowe was present to collect and return it to Weah as he was the one who delivered it to VP Boakai,” the Bomi County Rep. told FrontPageAfrica Sunday, evening: “Nobody has called me regarding that nor has anyone given me a cent.” Asked if the VP Boakai calls and asks him to take the money back to the President, he responded: “Will decide at that point.”