Written By: Menipakei Domou
The strongest opposition candidate has his weaknesses. There are things that could deny JNB his final opportunity to be President of Liberia.
There are three main resources in politics; money, people, and time. Boakai has some people, limited time but very little money. Going up against a young incumbent who has control of State coffers will prove a tall order.
Below are the factors that could cost JNB victory in 2023;
Even as an incumbent, Unity Party openly complained about not having enough money to finance campaign activities in 2017.
JNB has not gotten richer since his defeat in 2017 so one wonders where the money will come from to pay for his 2023 bid?
If it was hard to attract donations as a sitting Vice President, it will be even harder to get money from donors going up against an incumbent.
Insiders and outside observers say JNB is an indecisive and laid back leader. Some of his strategists share that his delay in picking running mate in time forced him into a hasty marriage with Hon. James Emmanuel Nuquay on the eve of the 2017 Election. The choice proved a poor one and the Unity Party lost Margibi for the first time since 2005.
Real or imagined, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has power and influence. JNB has been unable to get the influential former leader of his party to support his presidential bid. Although EJS had her membership restored in 2020 she is still not reconciled with her former Vice President and long-time friend. EJS fired her first shot late last month when she ruled out supporting Boakai in 2023 by saying she would rather a female Candidate. She did something similar to this in 2017 when she said at the UN that it was the turn of the young people to lead in Liberia.
Affectionately known as” Uncle Joe” to all, the pleasant and agreeable experienced statesman that is JNB, surprised both friends and foe when he played the “Native-Congor” card in the heated 2017 presidential race. His indigenous ticket slogan turned many away and they still see him as divisive. To win in 2023 he will have to abandon the slogan and convinced those who felt offended by it that he can govern for all and not just some Liberians.
Wilmot Paye fought for Joseph N. Boakai against Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. When many of JNB supporters were reluctant to confront the then all-powerful EJS, Wilmot Paye led the charge and so many were surprised when JNB threw his loyalist under the bus in a desperate bid to mend fences with EJS. The ruthless move by JNB will scare many away from him and cause his current allies to hesitate in their sacrifice for him.
JNB is a leading candidate because he inherited the Unity Party’s voting base but representing UP has its disadvantages too. Many say JNB was silent throughout EJS 12 years and only spoke out when he wanted to be president. Many of his critics say he lacks courage, conviction, or credibility on the issue of fighting public sector corruption.
JNB health issues made headlines last year and it came out that he had major surgery. His opponents both within and out of the CPP will point to his poor health.
When the results of the Special Senatorial Election came in late last year, all pundits said it announced the beginning of 2023.
The proverbial writing was now on the wall and 2023 was to start in 2021.
CPP, a political coalition formed initially for opposition survival, is now clearly a viable electoral vehicle capable of standing up to President Weah and his CDC.
Because Joseph N. Boakai (JNB) got the most votes in the 2017 presidential election of all the CPP actors, attention has shifted to him.
Although CPP is yet to pick a candidate, many see JNB as the obvious leader of the opposition and the man most likely to be on top of any serious CPP ticket.
Below are the reasons JNB may win or his winning lines. Later today, I will share with you his disadvantages or his losing Lines.
JNB is in the best position to lead the biggest opposition block that is the CPP.
The former Vice President heads the Unity Party and has the public support of Benoni Urey and his All Liberian Party (ALP). This gives JNB two out of four political parties.
JNB only needs a strong partner in the Liberty Party (LP) to secure the CPP ticket and key sources say the political leader of the LP, Senator N. K. Lawrence has agreed to play that role.
In the propaganda war of the 2017 Election, JNB was cast as being too old but with America swearing-in Joe Biden as President, young Liberians might be minded to give JNB a try. Remember, Liberians love to mimick America.
JNB’s long years of experience in public service may make him more appealing to voters who think that our current challenges are because of President Weah’s inexperience.
Sympathy for JNB is high. His strategists have been able to convince the public with their; ‘Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stole the presidency for Weah’ narrative. The masses see Boakai as a man who was robbed and want to vote for him massively to fix that wrong.
Like him or hate him, Henry P. Costa is Liberia’s number one public commentator and he promotes JNB on a daily basis.
Henry P. Costa is the undocumented 5th party of the CPP. Although things may change as they stand, Boakai has Costa’s blessings and this is a huge advantage in the lead up to 2023.
The perception has been created that the South-East is dominating national leadership. This view will play in Boakai’s favor and make him more attractive to voters from the other regions. JNB can easily deploy this view that the South-East is “taking everything” in his native Central-Northern Region (Bong, Nimba, and Lofa) to attract most of the over 800,000 voters that live there.
JNB is still seen as corruption-free and the most honest man running of all those who have been tested with public office.