Nuquay Breaks Silence: Liberia’s Ruling Party Running Mate Answers Critics
Monrovia – Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay has heard the talk – and the tape; but says he is unmoved even as controversy continues to swirl over his choice as the running mate to Vice President Joseph Boakai in the upcoming presidential elections in Liberia.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
“The good thing I’m happy about also – is that, nobody has been able to raise any issue with respect to particular things that I have done in my district, in serving my people that will corroborate with the tape recording they are playing; but on the contrary, we have done things to prove them on the contrary” – Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay (PUP, Margibi County)
Since his selection last Monday, the leader of the lower house of the national legislature has been in the news for all the wrong reasons:
From the leak of an audio recording on which he is heard going on an angry rampage to the lingering effects that has dogged Ambassador Boakai’s decision to pick the Speaker as his running mate.
Debunking Senator Grupee’s US$2M Chatter
Looking to debunk much of the misconceptions that has followed him in the past seven days, the speaker went to bat Tuesday in a bid to take on his critics and show why Boakai has put his faith in him despite the loads of criticisms and other options that were available at his disposal.
The ruling UP vice standard bearer dismissed suggestions that he paid Vice President Boakai US$2 million in a bid to be selected as a running mate.
The revelation was contained in an interview granted a local radio station in Ganta by Senator Thomas Grupee(NUDP)
Senator Grupee was quoted as saying:
“Now, there is a common saying that money cannot buy love. If it is true that Nuquay used money US$2 million dollars as it is widely being perceived now, for him to secure his vice-Presidential nomination – of course I don’t think that will speak well for them. If that is not the case and it is based solely on his character as a public servant – then we will see the reaction before the election – I mean before the campaign even start – Senator Thomas Grupee, (NUDP, Nimba County)
But speaker Nuquay on Tuesday dismissed the comment as laughable and regrettable.
The running mate to VP Boakai said contrary to what has been reported, he had no intentions of being a running mate to Boakai.
Displaying campaign materials including shirts, caps and scarfs already brought from China for his re-election bid for District No. 1.”
“Margibi County, Speaker Nuquay averred: “I never anticipated this. I built a team, we worked together, we printed all of our campaign materials, we have containers in the port as we speak, we cleared a container of motorcycles few weeks ago; we’re working as a team here, we did not anticipate this.”
Speaker Nuquay says had he had any interests in becoming Vice President, he would not have printed campaign materials in China.
“I wouldn’t have done that. But this is politics and this is what people do. And this is the reason why people shy away from politics people will want to smear their good character.”
“What is being done is regrettable because I see it as a classic disrespect to a selfless and dedicated public servant who has served diligently for more than 35 years, a very humble and immaculate father of our land, one who has lived an exemplary life for many young people to emulate, he has been tested, many, many times.”
Asked when he had an idea that he would be the pick, Speaker Nuquay acknowledged that he was approached by a few friends who had heard that his name was on the shortlist but discouraged him from encouraging it.
“Initially, there were friends who came to me and said you know the media was speculating and on the basis that my leadership team came to me and forewarned me that, we don’t want you to be a part of this. We have built our leadership team here, we are sure of the future.”
“We can work and retain the leadership, it there’s such a thinking, please disengage and as such, one or two persons talked to me out-rightly I said, no! But closed to, between the seventh and the tenth, there were people who came and said, look, we think you should reconsider.”
‘That Fateful Morning, I Was Called
All this he said took place in the span of the past few weeks. “Even some of those able lieutenants who came and said don’t’ engage, they came and said look, if this happens, please accept. After they came to me I said well I’m not asking for anything.
Since you are the ones that will make me to succeed, in the event when I’m nominated I should accept, I will accept, if you say I should remain then I know you will not be the one to come 2018 and haunt me out of here.”
“So, you have it, if the decision is made, I will accept, if it is not made, I would remain. And that was my last statement to them and we waited until that day we were called, that fateful morning when I was called.”
Regarding the tape which has been making the rounds on social media and generating buzz on the talk radio circuit, Speaker Nuquay said the entire recording was taken out of context and dates nearly two years, long before he selection as a running mate to VP Boakai.
The Speaker said: “Let me establish that contrary to what was heard in the public that after I was nominated I felt that I had authority or that I was on the verge of becoming vice president and I would use my power to go after people.”
In fact, Speaker Nuquay averred, his power as Vice President would be much less than the speaker’s position he currently holds.
“The speakership is more powerful than vice presidency, I mean I can say that. That is not true. I have not spoken to the media as I am doing now since I was nominated.”
“The only time I spoke to a media person was when I got nominated at the SKD Sports Complex and I was asked about the process, that was all. This is the first time I am having a major interaction with the media. So, I did not make such statement after being nominated by VP Boakai.”
He added: “The fact is that recording was done sometime last year or year before last, I cannot really recall the particular event.
“But what is the background? We need to understand the background and in this country sometimes people do not address issues when those issues are raised but they want to capitalize on maybe something they can portray negatively because of politics. What was the major issue that was raised in that recording.”
The speaker said contrary to what is being perceived about him, he has been able to work to establish myself as a dominant political force in his district, to the extent that he has been able to rally forces to produce leaders at the county level.
As such, he explained, there are people who harbor political ambitions at the level of the district in order to be representatives.
“We welcome that, we appreciate them, I mean that’s their constitutional right but the political contest should be on the basis of ideas and what you bring to the table. It should not be on the basis of rudeness, it should not result to insults to parents, family members – and this is what we frown on.”
Speaker Nuquay said his intent in the gathering was to issue a word of caution to some people who were raining insults on him and he was simply putting them in check.
“My intent was to advise the young people to say, look, you cannot come to the political contest relying on violence, relying on rudeness, insults to my parents, my family members. We thought to advise them and say look, when you do these things you will have a price to pay in the future.
No matter how long it takes, these records will haunt you. That’s what we try to portray.”
“Today, as we speak, I’m not in the contest anymore. There are some of them who been wanting to come to me, how do they come to me? That’s the price they have to pay now because they were rude, they were disrespectful, they cannot get my blessing, so they have a price to pay.”
‘I have a Thick Skin’
The Speaker went on to dismiss critics who have suggested that the recording portrays a picture of intolerance.
On the contrary, he said, he is a humble human being.
“Everybody knows me, everybody knows me in my region to be humble, to be a very humble and compassionate man and above all to be a man of development.”
“People honor and appreciate me for development, they know me for that. So, if you portray me as being someone who will witch hunt people then they really don’t know me.”
The Speaker has vowed to use the recording to his advantage and turn on his haters who have misread and misrepresented him.
“I will take that recording and address a big rally and say, these are people who want power, they portray me as someone who is going to hunt you. Look at my life, look at what I have done for you. Look at my life, compare what they say about me and the life that I have lived, you know me.
But again, my advice to people will be, look, don’t go for them because in essence, I am saying that our politics should not be politics of violence, our politics should not be politics of disrespect. They want to introduce violence into the body politics of our country, don’t’ go for them, go with me because I frown on, they want to encourage.”
Speaker Nuquay says he is not one who holds grudges as some have suggested by listening to the recording.
“I’m very tolerant, politically, I have thick skin. Let me say this to you, people don’t know me. In 2005, when I contested, there’s a town called Bopolu, they voted for me overwhelmingly. I built for them a youth center, equipped it with DSTV and then I took the President there in 2011.
In 2011 because one of their sons was in the race. I’m now a son from that region, they voted against me overwhelmingly. Sometime around 2014, 2015, they asked me for a meeting, they wanted to come and see me, I told them, I will come to you, I went to Bapolu, they presented their plight to me.
The principal issue they wanted to address to me was that the public school was now taken over by the government, it was being used by the SRC before but the government took it over, there were volunteer teachers, they wanted their children to go to school, their teachers were leaving because nobody was there to pay attention to the volunteer teachers, to pay US$500 monthly and that they wanted to work with me.
They made some mistakes, but they realize their mistakes. I accepted, today’s date, ask the county education officer, he can verify that, I pay on a monthly basis, US$500 to the people of Bapolu to keep the public-school open. If I was a man of vengeance, I would have never done that.”
‘I Have No Fear’
Asked whether it was difficult for him, staring down at the possibility of losing both his speakership and the Executive branch of government, Speaker Nuquay acknowledged that it was a tough call.
“Certainly, it was a difficult decision when you take into consideration the wrangling for power; when you take into consideration the enormous difficulties it would take to get adjusted.”
“I came from being a representative on the floor to getting elected on a white ballot and I’ve been speaker for nine months, the being requested to being a running mate on the ticket of the forerunner of the campaign for the presidency of our republic that’s a huge transition and to make such a decision it was extremely difficult because firstly we form a team here in the House of Representatives so that selectively we support one another in the field to get re-elected and to have the opportunity to provide leadership for a full term.
What we are providing is leadership for one year, three months. Our entire anticipation was let’s work together, build a leadership team, get re-elected, come and have the opportunity to serve the Liberian people at level of speaker for six years.”
Asked whether he feared losing it all, if the UP fails to win the presidency for the third successive elections, Speaker Nuquay, the son of a Presbyterian minister said: I’m a child of God! Whatever future God destines for me is what I will face. So, I have no fear.”