Kukatonon News

Financial Entanglements – Is Boakai Failing on Arrival?

A CENTRAL THEME that characterized the presidential campaign of President-elect Boakai in October 2023 was his lack of financial resources and physical hardship, something he personally admitted to over the years after his first twelve years as Vice President under the presidency of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. During the just-ended presidential elections campaign, these revelations exposed individuals who publicly admitted to funding Mr. Boakai on a monthly basis.

THE SUDDEN SHIFT in Mr. Boakai’s disposition, from one of a needed old man to a philanthropist, has got some members of his own close allies and ordinary supporters skeptical of the source of his newly found wealth. Even more interestingly, that this disposition has surfaced right after his election to the presidency of Liberia, raises the stakes for serious public debate and outcry.

THE MOST RECENT concern is an allegation that surfaced after Mr. Boakai invited all members of the House of Representatives to his Rehab residence for a meeting and promised them $25k should they serve his legislative interest. This meeting comes amid widespread speculation that the President-elect has allegedly threatened members of the House, stating that they would not receive any development funds for their district if they fail to vote for Rep. Koon, his preferred candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is also speculated that President-elect Boakai further threatened that he would deny lawmakers access to him if they did not vote for Rep. Koon as Speaker.

TODAY GRAND KRU Representative Grand Kru County Representative Nathaniel Bahway held a press conference to clarify the growing public concern that lawmakers have been bribed by Mr. Boakai to vote for his [Boakai] choice for Speaker. Rep. Bahway confirmed that Mr. Boakai did promise them $25k each, but that it was not a bribe. According to him, it is intended for county or constituency development. With only five days left until the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Boakai’s action is intended to spur the quest of the current Deputy Speaker, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa with eyes on the price. He has been actively campaigning to secure the position and has made significant strides. Rep. Koffa now must come to terms with indications of support from the President-elect for Rep. Richard Koon, his arch-rival.

THE LIST OF CONCERNS is growing exponentially, from costs associated with massive renovations at Mr. Boakai’s private residence to expensive suits, and from $25k each to over 25 members of the incoming 55th House of Representatives to L$10m in donations to fire victims of the Totota tanker fire disaster in Bong County. These sudden financial activities are increasing calming public attention and concern. The latest high-profile Boakai ally to condemn this spending and call on him to disclose the sources of these monies is Rep. Yekeh Kolubah.

THERE IS A GROWING concern that Liberians are about to have moments of Deja vu. Language around these growing situations is about to shift to what will be termed alleged financial improprieties, with the potential to be classified as business as usual, as these allegations can be compared to the suspicious expenses of the outgoing President Weah during the first year of his presidency. Liberians became suspicious of the spending of President Weah when he started building a number of luxury private properties in Monrovia right after becoming president.

IT IS NOT YET CLEAR how these mounting allegations and concerns of financial improprieties will impact the repetition of Mr. Boakai amid his commitment to fight corruption after he takes office. In fact, political commentators and pundits are beginning to suggest that Mr. Boakai is being compromised by gifts, which may violate the country’s 2014 Code of Conduct. Rep. Kolubah is already on record in this regard and is also on record for alleging that there are incidences of members of Mr. Boakai’s family and political party soliciting money from individuals and businesses in return for favors from his administration.

WITH LIBERIA’S HISTORY of systemic corruption, one would think that President-elect Boakai will make every effort to minimize the level of allegations around his actions as trust is essential to his administration. Mr. Boakai’s failure to respond adequately to these growing allegations and incidences may seriously injure his reputation should he continue down this line. Liberia is a society that thrives on gossip and misinformation, and it won’t do Mr. Boakai any good to fall prey to financial scandals or allegations of corruption in the early stages of his administration.

Please view the video of Rep. of Grand Kru admitting to the $25k promise from Mr. Boakai here.

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Dr. Clarence R. Pearson, Sr. is a Liberian clergy and social scientist with strong interest in advancing global peace, human rights, a safe planet, and social equity. He holds a BA in Theology, and MA with distinction from the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation, University of Liberia. He also graduated with honor from the Louisiana Baptist University and Seminary, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA with A PhD in Psychology and Counseling. Dr. Pearson is a social researcher, an educator, and an author. He has over 29 years of practical professional experience in post-conflict peace-building, recovery, and development with emphasis in both the public and private sector.

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