Your Biggest Political Gamble: Open Letter to Mr. Joseph Boakai


Mr. Boakai,

Perhaps, your biggest political gamble and decision of your career is the naming of your vice presidential running mate, and all of your political adversaries are awaiting that announcement by you. They are already with their political butcher knives to x-ray your choice. They see and smell blood. Don’t give them any raw red meat.

Without dwelling on any particular individual this time–unlike my last commentary where I suggested Lawyer Tiawon Gongloe–I want to indulge your sagacity to a few suggestions.

I have not hidden my choice for President of Liberia in this contest and I have stated my reasoning many times. I see myself first and foremost as a progressive nationalist. I have seen and lived firsthand the ugliness of our history. At your age, you need no lecture.

Political correctness is the new song of politicians but that is not my burden to bear. History and the facts bear me out. Many of us watch you from far and near. You are above the rest: you are a statesman, diplomat, a fatherly figure, calm and calculated, meek and lowly, humble and respectful, kind, and an obedient public servant. They can NEVER paint you with the brush of corruption, the cancer that afflicts most Liberian politicians. You are everybody’s “Uncle Joe.”

Therefore Uncle Joe, pick your VP running mate who will help you cross the finish line in the October 10, 2017 pivotal presidential elections. No doubt, you are the front-runner in this race and all eyes are on you. Who you pick to run with you is your first major political test.

As your surrogate in the trenches fighting for you, I should not have the extra burden to defend the “ifs, buts, whys” about any possible political skeletons that your adversaries will dig up on your VP choice. And bet you the Liberian people will find “something” on your choice. So don’t feed the hungry lions any raw meat.

In politics, winning is the first goal. Win first and everything else shall fall into place. You need a VP with a strong base of support that will appeal to voters: women, youths, someone they can relate to, someone who is not tinted by corruption and has no role in our civil war.

The rest can play meaningful roles in your cabinet. But you NEED a VP who can help you WIN. If not, then why run in the first place. People remember winners and soon forget losers.

And back to our history. First, it is sheer hypocrisy and illusion for anyone to dismiss our long ugly history of the Native-Congua divide and the exclusion and marginalization of the tribal majority by the tiny minority Congua for over 100 years. The burden of guilt lives with the oppressor.

The oppressed never forgets the past. It is called HISTORY.

This is why the major Congua candidates always seek out a native to be their VP running mate. Unlike pre-1980, there can never be two Congua on the same ticket as president and vice president. It will be a political suicide. But interestingly, a Congua seldom wants to be VP to a native. But Mr. Joseph Nyuma Boakai doesn’t have that extra political burden to bear.

Finally, why should I spend precious time to defend the questionable character of your VP pick? There are individuals who don’t need defending. Their names and records are an open book to Liberians….and, rule number one: can he/she help you cross the finish line? The choice is yours to make only. I still root for you….

Jerry Wehtee Wion,
Journalist and Political Commentator
Washington, DC, USA