Lying To Deceive: A Rejoinder to John H.T. Stewart’s Write Up
In a recent write-up by John H.T. Stewart, “Something Former President Sirleaf Needs to Know and Understand– She is Not the ALPHA and OMEGA of Politics in Liberia”, he goes on a tirade against Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as she mourned the death of her son. Before even getting into the meat of this write-up, let me just say that the timing of this was mean-spirited, classless and distasteful. As to the truthfulness of his claim, while neither Stewart nor his benefactor, Joseph Boakai, may like the reality, it is an established truth that EJS is a force in Liberian politics. Also a fact is that she handpicked Boakai to a two-term winning ticket. It is an absolute contradiction to claim that she is not a powerful political force and, in the same breath, want us to believe that she caused Joe’s defeat in 2017. Obviously she had to be a serious political force to do so.
The truth also is that Boakai lost to Weah because of hissmall-mindedness, lack of a vision for the country, sense of entitlement, divisive and indecisive leadershipcharacteristics, and unwillingness to forget about his unbridled loathing, even for those who helped him on his long political journey. As we can see, Benoni Urey is alsodiscovering this aspect of Boakai. Boakai, an incumbent Vice President, lost overwhelmingly to George Weah, an opposition candidate, because he ran as if he were an opposition candidate running on the same agenda of change, when as Vice President, he should have been running on an agenda of continuity. As ridiculous as it was then, Boakai, the UP Candidate, was running against his own Party’s control of the government he was a part of, and its achievements.
But of course, someone else is always at fault for his failures and defeats. The responsibility is never his. When the government in which he was second only to EJS failed, it was not his fault because “the Ellen Government squandered its opportunities”. As if he was not a part thereof! After 12 years as Vice President, he proudly described himself as a “parked race car”! It seems he did not understand that by referring to himself as a “parked race car” he was also inviting the citizenry to believe that for 12 years he enjoyed never once missing his monthly salary and benefits and being paid just to sit there doing nothing! Naturally, by running against an administration in which he was second-in-command, he denied his campaign and himself from therefore owning any of the administration’s successes. So whose fault was that? The fact is Boakai deserved to lose and Liberians ought to be grateful that we were spared giving power to an individual with a penchant for tribalism, bigotry, andpersonal grievances, the likes of which have no place in the future of our country. Make no mistake. Boakai is not just loathing of “Congaus” but of every tribe not his own. He is absolutely bad for Liberia!
This is not to suggest that Weah is a good President. Far from it, and that’s a topi for another day that needs to be dealt with properly and in-depth! But Boakai would have been just as bad, as his character flaws would have plunged our country far deeper into an ethnic divide, and we have seen in the past what that has done to Liberia. Liberia does not deserve to be haunted by his ghosts and grievances. We have a future to build, especially after the incompetence of Weah. We need to focus on what is best for all Liberians as opposed to what grievances and scores Boakai needs to settle, and with whom!
Stewart needs to ask himself and answer these questions:Isn’t Boakai on the Government’s payroll as a retiree? He complained to T-Max that his pension was too small when former VP John Gray, a former Vice President like himself, got nothing from his administration for the entire twelve years that he was VP. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of the twelve years that they even started giving former VP Gray a measly amount for his retirement, one can safely assume because they knew their time for retirement payment was right around the corner. Did he not think, during the entire twelve year as VP, that he also would be former VP one day? Was it not prudent and fair to advocate for Gray’s due benefit to be given him? I guess what is good for the goose was not good for the gander. No wonder, he is being listed as a star witness inthe Government’s ongoing trial, or should I say persecution, of Alexander Cummings. Who knows – maybe Weah will increase his retirement pay if he does well and helps Weah breakup and destroy the CPP? If this was not so serious for our country, it would easily pass for a bad joke – the Chair of the CPP is a retiree on the payroll of Weah’s administration. And if that wasn’t enough, it gets even more absurd. Boakai, the current Chair of the CPP, is also the government’s star witness in a political trial against the only other aspirant standing between him and the CPP Standard Bearer position. Butyet he wants Liberians to believe he is serious to remove Weah from office. Yeah, right! By the way, Stewart knows very well that the lawsuit against Cummings is to breakup and destroy the CPP. Even a blind person can see that. Did we forget that Boakai, upon taking over the CPP Chairmanship, actually promised to “reconcile and unite” the political grouping, which was willed into existence by the Liberian people? Is this what he meant when he made that promise to the Liberian people?
Strange things are happening and Liberians need to open their eyes and ears very wide!. Stewart is daring to suggest that our courts, aware of an obvious interest from the administration to breakup and destroy the CPP to the political benefit of George Weah’s reelection effort, will be fair to Cummings. Even your 1 year old child will not believe that line! Cummings is in the docket because he represents a threat to the current administration’s chances of victory in 2023. Boakai is helping the farce of a trial because Cummings is the only one challenging him in the CPP and trying to keep his promise not to break it up. The fact is that Cummings is the ONLY CPP Standard Bearer candidate who has repeatedly and publicly said that he will accept the result of a CPP Primary if he loses. Boakaiis yet to say the same.
Do we not find it fishy that Urey, Boakai and Karnga-Lawrence, supposed opposition leaders, are working with the GoL to breakup and destroy the CPP, the collaboration that they themselves are supposed leaders of? Do we not see that this is not because any Framework Document alteration, which they have all had access toand operated under for the last two years? Is it not blatant that their participation in this is simply because they fear losing to Cummings in a Primary they agreed would be the means to decide the CPP Standard Bearer? It begs the question: Why are they so afraid of the guy who is supposed to have “no numbers”, “cannot win”, and has “no base”? Why is Boakai running so scared that he has thrown himself shamelessly into this connivance to discredit his opponent at the cost of breaking up the CPP.
The Framework Document was not altered to select candidates for the House of Representatives. It was not altered to select candidates for the Senate, including Karnga-Lawrence and Dillon. It gives Cummings or the ANC no advantage at all over anyone else who is party to the agreement – ABSOLUTELY NONE! So, what exactly did he alter and why would he alter it?? Did the trio – Urey, Boakai, and Karnga-Lawrence – only “realize” it was “altered” when it came time to put in motion the process to select/elect the Standard Bearer and that it would not be a coronation? Come on, Stewart. You can support your candidate. It’s your democratic right. You and Boakai go way back and Urey is your long time buddy and “Careysburg in-law”. But please, don’t imagine you all can successfully pull this blindfold over every Liberian’s eye mehn!
No doubt, the conspiracy against Cummings is strong. Boakai, Urey and Karnga-Lawrence, championed by the Government, makes for a strong collaboration of political co-conspirators. But theirs is more than a simple political marriage of convenience against an individual. This conspiracy extends to undermining Liberia’s democracy, and for any so-called progressive or change-seeker to ignore it or pretend otherwise is hypocritical.
Given Stewart’s long journey from being a soldier in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), it is understandable that he may not like Cummings bursting onto the political scene and calling for real change as if none have been here with their noses to the ‘grinding stones’ for some kind of ‘change’. Stewart and others think Cummings needs to wait in some imaginary line, conspiratorially drawn for “progressives”. But to smear the man for daring to challenge the nation, without caring to cast a wider look at the consequences of the obvious conspiracy on the nation and our hard-won democracy, is shortsighted and blemishes any “progressive” badge he may wear.
For Boakai, Urey and Karnga-Lawrence to invite the Weah administration to destroy the CPP on their behalf so that they are excused from the burden of keeping their promises to the Liberian people is cowardly. No coward deserves to lead anybody, let alone our country. And the current administration is just as culpable for joining this trio to undermine our already struggling democracy.
Finally, Stewart drew Riva Levinson into the picture to prove to the unsuspecting mind that EJS is somehow seeking to interfere with the trial on Cummings’ behalf and or intimidate the government. Strangely, like we often say in Liberia, Stewart is crying more than the bereaved. Isn’t there an existing relationship between the Weah administration and Levinson? Isn’t she a lobbyist for Weah, McGill and other officials of the Weah administration? The Government hired Levinson’s firm in 2018 and recently again in 2020 which ran into last year.Do they not take her advice and findings seriously? In fact, even on the bogus lawsuit, they asked for her opinion and intel and she gave it. She reported to the highest official of the Liberian government in the United States in person of Ambassador George Patten, as she was expected to do, and he relayed the information to Minister Nathaniel McGill and others of interests. According to the text message, Levinson found out that there was a “dossier” on McGill. Why would all this be happening if there was any merit to the fairytale Stewart is trying to compose that Levinson’s involvement is at the behest of Sirleaf? Surely, Stewart cannot be suggesting that Levinson was working for Sirleaf when she gathered inteland passed it on to Patten and the Weah administration! Pick a theory, bro, and stick to it.
Indeed, the administration is worried about what Levinsonfound out, as it should be. I know I would be. But had Stewart bothered to ask his buddy Urey, he would have easily found out that none of the named individuals in the text from Levinson would have claimed to be surprised that she discovered what she did, or that the Weah administration does not take her counsel seriously. Ambassador Patten does, for sure. One thing is certain, if any message ever comes again from Levinson, McGill will not be sharing it with your buddy Urey. Ambassador Patten must have been extremely embarrassed reading Stewart’s write up.
Look Stewart, Liberians are tired of this false bravado of “militancy” with promises of “fierce resistance” and “unwavering actions with bullets to our breast” rhetoric. I mean, who does that??? Furthermore, Liberians know that history has shown this to be the utterances of scaredy catswho are the first to flee when the fire gets hot. Spare us the “fierce resistance” talk. All Liberians want is to democratically change a corrupt and discredited system for which your benefactor, Boakai, is an unwanted reminder. Rather than the archaic threat of “fierce resistance…to defend the sacred heritage”, yourprogressivism would be best served joining the real change effort to democratically move our sacred heritage, as true progressives would say, “forward ever-backward never”. This way, we could all change the direction of our country for the better and improve the lives of all Liberians, without threatening what you have absolutely no capacity to deliver on.