MONROVIA – Senator Prince Y. Johnson, known in Liberian politics for pay-for-play and inconsistencies, has reiterated on the Voice of America the termination of his agreement to support Pres. George Weah, while at the same time, disclosing that he is holding talks with other opposition political parties for collaboration.
By Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
In an interview with Daybreak Africa on VOA, Sen. Johnson said his decision to withdraw his support from Pres. Weah is because the people of his county have not benefited from the Weah-led government.
“What we expected in the past is not what we see on the ground, we had believed that being the World Best, European Best, African Best, all the best, with his election, he would have attracted investors to Liberia to create jobs and alleviate the suffering on our people through their investments, but since his election, the world has abandoned us in the sense that no investors are coming. And what we are doing in the country is just ratifying loan agreements and you cannot build the country based on loans,” Sen. Johnson said.
Sen. Johnson claimed that a delegation from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) comprising the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, Maritime Commissioner, Lenn Eugene Nagbe and the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, paid him a visit to request him to reconsider his decision but, according to him, he turned them down.
The Nimba County Senator, however, said while his party, the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR) has opted to put a candidate in the presidential race, he also acknowledges that one political party cannot win election in Liberia.
“We are open to all parties, we’re working with the Unity Party, we’re working with ANC, we’re working with the newly certificated party, EFCC, all the parties on the ground, we’re working with them. One party cannot win elections without the other,” he said.
Sen. Johnson prides himself as the godfather of Nimba County and he has proven to be since he entered into politics in 2005. Senator Johnson has won two terms in the Senate.
Nimba, according to the National Elections Commission’s records, has over 330,000 registered voters, making it next to Montserrado County.
In 2017, Sen. Johnson contested the presidential race and came third in the first round though over 95 percent of his votes came from Nimba County.
As he did for former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sen. Johnson entered into a support agreement with Pres. Weah before the runoff election in 2017 which enabled Pres. Weah obtain over 90 percent of the Nimba votes in the second run, thus, creating a very wide margin between him (Weah) and former Vice President Joseph Boakai in the overall results of the runoff election.
When quizzed by James Butty over the public opinion that his recent rants on the CDC and Pres. Weah is just another attempt to reach another hefty deal with the administration, Sen. Johnson said, “That is what I hear people say, but they’re on the wrong side of history; that is not my nature. I don’t know of any market where they sell votes, people say these things but it’s not true. When I form an alliance with you, and I find incompatibility and our agreement expires, I can no longer remain in that agreement.”
Known for Inconsistencies
In June 2017, while having discussions with presidential candidate Benoni Urey, Sen. Johnson suddenly disclosed his preferment for former Vice President Joseph Boakai’s presidency. He said he would rather support Boakai because “he represents the majority of the Liberian population.”
Senator Johnson, at the time, bashed at his critics who frowned at his interaction with Boakai in the midst of dialogues for possible collaboration with businessman Urey.
“They fear that when I will join Boakai and [there’s] nothing wrong with joining Boakai, that’s my oldman we will defeat those people who want to suppress this oldman,” Senator Johnson said at the time.
Senator Johnson noted that a Boakai presidency would put an end to the long rule of ‘minority rule’, thus providing the chance for native Liberians to have a feel of the presidency.
However, in October that year, right after the first round of the election, Sen. Johnson dealt a major blow to the former Vice President by announcing his support for Weah during a press conference. He said, his decision was based on the results from the first round of the election.
Prior to his deflection to Weah, he had criticized Weah’s ability to lead and claimed that another war would erupt in Liberia should Weah become President.
Pay for Play Master
In 2021, Sen. Johnson was sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury for acts of corruption in Liberia. He was sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act.
According to the Treasury Department, Sen. Johnson was involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.
The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars, according to the Treasury Department.
Sen. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money. Johnson is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery. For more information, please visit
He, however, denies the claims made against him.