MONROVIA — Since the start of political campaign activities for the 2023 general and presidential elections on August 5, the candidate of the former ruling Unity Party, Joseph Boakai, continues to come under the public spotlight for frequent travels outside the country.
At the time where candidates should keep close contacts with voters, the purpose of the frequent travels by Boakai remains unknown, but at least two reasons have been widely believed to be prime reasons for his frequent travels.
It has been widely believed that the UP candidate is not in a very good bill of health with reports that one of the main reasons for these travels is to continue to seek medications.
Recently the Unity Party announced that Boakai had gone to the ECOWAS region for meeting but the outcome of that meeting was never made public while he was said to have gone for urgent medical treatment.
Boakai reportedly received campaign funding from former a former President if Ghana, and upon his return from the trip, the campaign of the Unity Party garnered some level of momentum with tours of electoral districts in Montsterrado County, raising another round of eyebrows that the UP candidate trip, which according to the UP, was meant to attend an ECOWAS meeting, was in fact a trip where he had gone to seek campaign funding for the Unity Party campaign.
Sources told FPA at the time that Boakai had gone to get campaign assistance from former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahma who is believed to be a close friend to Boakai.
Prior to candidate Boakai’s trip, only his Vice Presidential candidate, Jeremiah Koung, was busy touring Nimba County while Boakai was very quiet in Monrovia.
To even add flare to the public perceptions that Boakai had gone at the time to source campaign funding, the UP campaign extended to nationwide tour where Boakai and the UP campaign team embarked on a tour of the western region of Liberia, beginning with Bomi County.
Just a day into the Bomi County tour, Boakai again left the country, accordingly, visiting West African powerhouse Nigeria. While the Bomi campaign was in full gear, the UP issued a statement announcing another travel of the party candidate
“The Rescue Mission Campaign Team has announced that Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai will halt his current trip to Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties and leave in charge some senior executive members of the Rescue team”, the Unity Party statement indicated.
The Unity Party statement furthered “Ämb. Joseph Baokai is expected to be accompanied by Rescue Mother Sen, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, and Rescue Auntie MacDella Cooper for a two-day trip in the sub region of Nigeria on September 13, 2023”.
Female presence meant for fund raising?
With the announcement by the UP that the delegation contains two females, it has further intensified the discussions that the trip is purely one intended to source and raise funding for the Unity Party campaign.
Boakai had in the past visited Nigeria, where it is believed that he has a good relationship with a wealthy Nigerian billionaire from a royal family.
Along with his close friend at the time, Benoni Urey, Boakai visited a royal family in Nigeria where he flew Business Class on a flight. Boakai’s supporters at the time defended that it was Boakai’s Nigerian friend who paid for the Business Class air ticket.
The reasons for two females’ presence on the UP candidate’s visit to Nigeria remains unknown, but it is believed that the presence of the two female is meant for more appealing lobbying for campaign funding.
Foreign Campaign funding violates Elections Law
Souring funding from a foreign source without disclosure is against Chapter 7 of the Elections Law under the caption Election Campaign Expenses.
Section of the Elections Law 7.2. provides that “Remittance of Funds From Outside Liberia to Political Parties or Independent Candidates; Restrictions. There shall be no remittance of funds or other assets to any political party or organization, or any independent candidate from outside Liberia unless remitted or sent by Liberian citizens residing abroad. Any funds or other assets received directly or indirectly in contravention of this restriction shall be turned over or transferred to the Commission within twenty-one (21) days of receipt to be kept in escrow in a designated bank. After thorough investigation has been made, such funds shall be turned over to the political party or organization or independent candidate to whom the money was sent if not in contravention of this restriction”.
This provision of the law prohibits such activities as the reported travel by the UP candidate to source funding from external sources such as one from non-Liberians without disclosure to the NEC.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) itself remains very weak in monitoring sources of campaign financing and expenses by political parties and candidates even though the law provides for the Commission to do such thing.
How is broke UP running campaign?
Before the start of the entire electoral process, the Unity Party said publicly that it did not have money to even pay its rent.
The party’s landlord took the party to the Civil Law Court for non-payment of rent and the party openly said it could not afford to pay the rent, which led to the relocation of the party headquarters.
The Civil Law Court entered judgment against the Unity Party and the party told the court it wanted to enter a stipulation agreement to pay the amount due the landlord gradually.
How a party that could not pay merely two months ago rent is now running a campaign is something that requires investigation by the National Elections Commission as to the source of funding for the Unity Party in the wake of the frequent visitations by the party standard bearer outside the country.