Boakai’s Ghana Trip Brouhaha -Ghanaian Embassy Calms Nerves

MONROVIA:  A Liberian president being the property of the state – or better still a public figure – is often subjected to vicious scrutiny. And for President Joseph N. Boakai, who came to the presidency on the mantra of transparency and accountability, coupled with the increasingly charged political consciousness prevailing in the country, the dragnet is ever roving and robust, and the citizens are giving it to their new leader in big time even while he’s still in the puberty of his administration. The President’s recent trip to the Republic of Ghana has sharpened the public scrutiny amid the fog of controversy that it has sparked. The Analyst takes a look at that incessant public uproar.

 

Many Liberians, a mix of ruling and opposition citizens, have not been taking kindly to what appears to be a surreptitious departure of President Joseph N. Boakai from the country last week for the sisterly state of Ghana.

The Liberian leader left the country Tuesday, February 13, according to a release from the Executive Mansion, which also stated that “the President will meet and hold consultations with his Brother and Friend, Ghanaian Leader, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo, on matters of mutual interest to both countries and issues obtaining in the sub-region.”

In his letter to the Legislature regarding his departure from the country, the President informed them that the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Honorable Sylvester M. Grigsby, will chair the Cabinet in close consultation with the Vice President as His Excellency remains in communication via telephone.

While it was reported from the Legislature that the President tendered a communication to the Senate about the trip, public disquiet and apprehensions were however still fueled by the fact the traditional airport departure ceremony often hosted for presidents was not held—at least there was no any report it took place.

Thus, the President’s trip out of the country was characterized by public apprehensions, further triggering concerns about his ill health or about some clandestine matters he might have pursued while there.

Report of Pres. Boakai being shunned

Amid the doubts in the Liberian public space, there came social media reports that the Government of Ghana, specifically President Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo had complained to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about what the report said was President Boakai’s secret visits to the country.

The Masses’ Voice news outlet indicated in its February 17 report that the Ghanaian leader told ECOWAS President Boakai was “caught twice at night” visiting Ghana without his knowledge.

According to the news organ, President AkufoAddo expressed his concerns at the ECOWAS Parliament meeting, stating that the actions by Mr. Boakai “were unacceptable and breach of protocol” and that Ghanan, as a sovereign nation expects that its government would be informed about visits of another sovereign country’s president.

Ghanaian Embassy Calms Nerves

The rather unverified reports by the Masses’ Voice caused a lot of stir in the Liberian public, giving traction to President Boakai’s frequent visits to that country and all the rumors about both his health and business deals for which many believe he makes those visits.

But before ink got dry on the Masses’ Voice reports, the Embassy of Ghana near Monrovia issued a statement disputing the media’s claims that President Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo had ever made such a complaint to ECOWAS about President Boakai.

“The Embassy of the Republic of Ghana near Monrovia wishes to urge the general public in the Republic of Liberia to disregard a piece of fake news ostensibly made to the ECOWAS Parliament by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana,” the Embassy stated in a statement.

It added: “The Mission categorically states that the President at no time in point made the statement in question to the ECOWAS Parliament. The Mission takes the opportunity to reaffirm that Ghana cherishes its close relations with the Republic of Liberia, and Liberians will always be welcomed in Liberia.”

The Embassy’s release further noted that Ghana stands ready to cooperate with the Republic of Liberia in the “mutual development of our two nations”.

Cynicism Still Mounts

Though the Ghana Embassy’s release was timely, as an earlier report by the Masses’ Voices nearly ruffled diplomatic feathers at least in the public spheres, some Liberians still believe President Boakai’s February 13 trip to Ghana was something else other than stated by the Executive Mansion releases.

“If the President did not leave the country to seek quick medical attention, if the trip was to meet a colleague, then why did he leave the country without the usual presidential departure formalities at the airport,” said intern Joseph T. Kamonah.

Others also contended strongly that the Boakai visit was not announced because, as legislative staffer James Menthan, Jr. indicated in a write out, “official visits the world over are covered by the media, both local and international.”

“But for the Boakai visit, we neither saw photographs, both live and otherwise, nor a release from the Executive Mansion as to what was discussed,” Menthan said. “How come the entire trip was so opaque media-wise, and yet folks want us to believe it was official.”

Another Liberian, Othello D. Sonpon, II said: “For me, I don’t believe Boakai was in Ghana on official duty. At about the same time the president was leaving Liberia, the Ghanaian leader was out of the country. He was in Addis Ababa for an AU meeting. So, Boakai and his media people should stop playing on Liberians on this. Misleading information of this magnitude will further damage the integrity of the regime.”

He continued: “Even by reading the Ghana Embassy’s clarification, I think the main issue was side-stepped. If the Embassy knows that Boakai was in Ghana, why did they not state that he met with their president? Or are they in collusion with the contradiction by the Liberian government, mainly the Executive Mansion?”

“President Boakai does not have to run this country on such clear misinformation and subterfuge,” J. Philip Jay, who claims to be a CDC coordinator, said. “Clearly evidently, Boakai went to Ghana for different reasons other than stated by the Executive Mansion.”

He continued: “Take for instance. In the release of February 13, the Executive Mansion press said the President was departing the country to meet with his counterpart, Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo. Then when he returned, the Executive Mansion said Mr. Boakai met with a team of Ghanaian government officials, without saying what happened with the meeting announced to have been held with the country’s president. Even the meeting with Ghanaian government officials, had no pictures to show it actually happened.”

He added: “Everyone takes pleasure in our president, as young as his administration is, to travel and meet different governments near and far. But to use misinformation and cover-ups is irresponsible and should not be repeated.”

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