MONROVIA – Following months of heightened waiting and cascading political melodrama, Liberians finally witnessed the unveiling of Nimba County Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung as running mate to Unity Party (UP) Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai for the October 10, 2023 presidential and general elections. Held at the UP headquarters on Broad Street on Friday, April 28, the unveiling ceremony shockingly drew a mammoth crowd of UP partisans, well-wishers and others who had earlier trooped in a day before the program to set up camp, print their own t-shirts, revel and go through the process of registration as new UP members.
By midday Friday, hours before the dignitaries had mounted the podium, Monrovia’s Central Business District was already locked down as UPians and their sympathizers majestically marched towards their headquarters in a show of strength that resembled a full-fledged political rally.
Announcing his running mate choice for the October 10, 2023 elections, former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai said the search had entailed a lot of consultations where the Unity Party interacted with a lot of qualified and committed Liberians and foreign partners, to seek their guidance and advice on how to address the hemorrhaging leadership deficit in the country.
“We would like to thank everyone for their service, support and commitment to our country. We can assure everyone of a leadership of inclusion. There’s much to offer in the coming campaign and the future government when we earn the confidence of the people of Liberia.
“In my search for a running mate, I sought to find someone who would join me as a partner and build a dedicated team of leaders to rescue our country. I wanted someone young and energetic who will commit to integrity and accountability in governance, commit to reconciling and healing our country and who by their early upbringing understands and connects with a youthful generation and nation still traumatized by war and denial but yet is an example to success. And more importantly someone who knows and experienced how it feels to live in a nation with no hope. Let me assure you that the person I did not look for is a SINLESS ANGEL. However, that person must be one who understands the suffering of our people and is willing to rescue them.
“Our search for a running mate as I said earlier, was not a search for a sinless angel but a real human being whose imperfection and belief in God compels him into seeking redemption and imbibes the humility and willingness to work with a team that will make our country better. One who understands that life is about people not self. One who knows that collective progress will create a vibrant society and enhance opportunities for all.
“Our mission will seek to reform the Presidency and develop a new leadership team to effectively manage our country with integrity, honesty and respect for human dignity.
“Over the last six years, our country entered its lowest state; characterized by degradation of our value system, unprecedented economic hardship, devalued and demoralized civil servants and an upward trend in rewarding political patronage, a practice that has totally undercut the merit-based system.
“Drug abuse, facilitated by the failure of this administration to stop its inflow. Stealing in government with impunity by officials has become an acceptable norm. Violations of our organic laws are no longer punishable. All of these are happening because the current government doesn’t listen and is not responsive to the needs of the people. The horrible leadership that Mr. Weah and his CDC have provided our country since January 2018 is killing our people and robbing young people of a future of hope and promise.
“When I set out on this journey, I have always been persuaded by and influenced by my personal upbringing and the story of my life. A story which reflects the story of many Liberians but this story has been tempered by the deep and abiding faith of what is possible in our country. We have lived through and experienced different phases of Liberia and yet one variable remains so scourging: the hopelessness and neglect of the citizenry but especially our youths.
“Fellow Liberians, I say with a debt of gratitude that we could not have come this far without standing on the shoulders of some key members of the opposition in the drive for a better Liberia. In the more than 5 years of opposition collaboration since the 2017 elections, I have come to appreciate in particular the unwavering support, dedication, commitment, and loyalty of the many who have stood with us in the quest to fight for the Liberian people against bad governance and economic deprivation.
“I particularly single out for their dedication to the cause, the standard bearer of the All Liberian Party Hon. Benoni Wilfred Urey, the political leader of the Liberty Party Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, and their partisans and supporters who stood with us through thick and thin to prove there is more that unites us than divides us in the fight for change. We will continue to stand together in this fight. Similarly, we thank political and social commentator Henry Pedro Costa for standing with us all these years and for the zest he brings to the conversation and debate about the purpose of public service, as well as his fierce convictions about course correction for Liberia. Sen. Abraham Darius Dillon has been a soldier in the opposition camp and has been flying the opposition banner high, and distant but reliable research social reformer, Martin N. Kollie. We will continue to count on them for the success of this rescue mission. We take this time to also thank Sen. Jeremiah Koung, the political leader of the MDR, for his support in 2017, as well as more recently. We would be remiss if we fail to mention Dr. Chris Nyan, Prof. Alaric Tokpa and the NDC, Hon. Reginald Goodridge of the Rainbow Alliance, and Dr. Jeremiah Whapoe of Vision of Liberia Transformation, for collaborating with us amidst the challenges.
“My dear Liberians, the person I have selected as running mate, like many of you, shares my vision about building this country better than it has ever been, and like many of us, have a humble beginning, working very hard through the years to pull themselves up by their own boot straps to provide for family and their community. My running mate is compassionate, has experienced poverty, and, therefore, understands the plight of millions of Liberians struggling to survive in the country.
“It is, therefore, my pleasure to announce Senator Jeremiah Koung of Nimba county as my choice for running mate in this year’s Presidential and legislative elections.
“The man I have chosen today is young, energetic, and relates to the younger generation. At age 45, he connects with a generation whose denial and abuse have rendered them helpless and without hope but he did not allow the challenges of his youth to defy his ambition. With every challenge he sought to discover the immense possibilities that our country could offer. His early childhood was difficult but he endured selling fish at 12, gasoline and engaging in petty business but eventually rose to the heights of a leading Liberian Businessman in thriving Ganta, Nimba County.
“He contested and won as Representative of Nimba’s District #1 twice and later became Senator of Nimba County. In a country where President Weah and his Government are engaged in industrialized looting and where corruption has become the new normal. In a nation where public service is the center for exploitation and ill-gotten wealth; in a nation where we take everything from the state and give nothing in return, Senator Koung has a record of giving, not taking.
“Senator Koung gains from private business was invested in building a hospital valued at 2.5 million United States dollars which was later turned over to the Government of Liberia without any liability. This is the only government owned hospital now in Ganta. I dedicated it and gave some medical supplies at the dedication in 2016.
“His endurance and success in business will stimulate added interest and commitment to improve Liberia’s struggling indigenous business environment.
“Both Senator Koung and I will not only win these elections but intend to redirect the tragic course on which our country is now set. Senator Koung joins me on a rescue mission for our country. Senator Koung and I have a lot in common. We both come from a struggling and working-class background. We both rose by our bootstraps and demonstrated how courage and vision can lead to success even where adversity was evident.
“The Man I have chosen, like me, has the resilience, commitment and love of country. This vice-presidential choice is a true Liberian who is willing to stand with me in fixing our economy, repair this broken system, reconcile and unite our people and provide a better future for our children. I, therefore, ask you all to join and work with us, close ranks and make the ticket a winning one for a better Liberia. Let us THINK LIBERIA, LOVE LIBERIA and BUILD LIBERIA. Fellow Liberians, partisans of this great alliance, well-wishers and supporters, I now have the honor to present to you Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung as the next Vice President of Liberia,” Ambassador Boakai vibrantly enthused about his running mate choice.
In accepting the honor of becoming running mate to the Unity Party Standard Bearer, Senator Koung acknowledged that Liberians are ready to make Ambassador Boakai the next president of Liberia, this is why they were so tuned in to the announcement of his running mate.
“I extend special thanks and appreciation to Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, founding father and first Standard Bearer of Movement for Democracy Reconstruction. I know why many of you are here and why many of you are tuned to this announcement of the running mate of Hon. Joseph Nyuma Boakai. You have all decided to vote for Hon. Boakai as the next President of Liberia and I am proud to join all of you to be part of the new Liberia.
“I accept this honor to serve our country. This is a dream to me but I am here for one simple reason: I love Liberia, I think, and I am determined to work with all Liberians to build Liberia.
“You are supporting change because you cannot afford another 6 years of decay, division, hate and backwardness. You anxiously look forward to a future of hope and promise. You want the government to work for you. You want the government to be accountable and honest and you want the government to protect you and your family. Many families continue to cry out for justice without any ear to listen. We want to be a government that listens and dispenses justice without favor.
“We cannot afford 6 more years of this government which cannot understand and is still learning to lead. A government that is indifferent to your many cries!
“We have painfully watched more than 5 wasted years of a government that has no vision, no perspective, a pro-poor agenda that has inflicted and distributed poverty and a President and his officials who expand and increase personal wealth at the expense of the majority.
“Amb. Boakai and I are determined to turn this country around. We want every unborn child to dream of a country that will offer quality education, HealthCare and employment. We want parents to know that there is a government that will account for their missing children, solve the mystery of disappearances and questionable deaths. We want businesses to have an environment of certainty. We want a respectable government which will not be chastised by the international community.
“We have watched more than five wasted years and the time has come for a new generation of leaders to take a deliberate and radical stance to reverse the backward direction of our country.
“Honorable Boakai and I have a history of working hard and we intend to put our people to work. In our conversation about our country, we both exchanged ideas on how the generation left behind by the mismanagement of the country can become part of our national renewal.
“I have joined Honorable Boakai to make this campaign about ordinary Liberians, presenting a plan that will rescue our country. We will lay out a plan and offer opportunities to restore your dignity regardless of which party you are. We want you to join our team, join our efforts to reverse the ugly direction of our country.
“We cannot wait any longer as we painfully watch our youths being decimated by drugs, young girls as pawns of sexual abuse, human trafficking and illiteracy.
“I am humbled to be selected and want to be tutored by a man whose life of integrity and honesty is exemplary. I don’t know about you but I was just about 11 years old when the war started in Liberia in 1989. I saw first-hand the impact of war on our country, especially the youths of our country. I sold fish, sold gas, became a taxi driver, a businessman, representative and now Senator of Nimba County. My story is the story of many. It is a Liberian story but my story must offer hope as I commit myself to work so that every young boy and girl can do better. To all young people, I commit and owe you my best and will work for you. Trust me as one of you!
“My selection is a manifestation of Hon. Boakai’s commitment to transition national leadership to a youthful generation whose success can be an example to others.
“On this day and with my hearts, I submit to the wisdom and experience of my Big Brother Hon. Benoni Wilfred Urey, my Sister and fellow Senator of Grand Bassa County, Hon. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Hon. Abraham Darius Dillon and many of you whose commitment and loyalty to our country made all this possible. We pray that we all collectively work to end a long journey we started.
“In a small country like ours, I have made friends across the country but there are also those who disagree with me. To all my friends, I plead that you join Honorable Boakai and I to make our country work for all of us. To those who have reasons to disagree with me, I plead for your cooperation so that we all can rescue Liberia. I am only human and as humans, we err. In our disagreements, we still have one thing in common: LIBERIA. Let us work for Liberia,” the newly selected running mate to former Vice President Boakai stated proudly.
Meanwhile, the conspicuous absence of Ambassador Boakai’s core allies from the program became a cause for concern, with Liberty Party’s estranged Political Leader Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, All Liberia Party Political Leader Benoni Urey, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillion, and talk show host and activist Henry Pedro Costa all disassociating themselves from the naming procession.
In a related development, UP partisans took Lofa County by storm on Friday when the citizens thronged Foya to celebrate the naming of Senator Jeremiah Koung as running mate to former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
According to UP insiders, Ambassador Boakai is to shortly embark on a tour of Nimba County to officially turn over their son as his running mate.
UP Appreciates Liberians for Massive Turnout
In a related development, the Unity Party in the press release issued last Friday has extended thanks and appreciation to all Liberians who showed up on Friday, April 20, 2023 for the unveiling of Vice Standard Bearer Jeremiah Koung at the Party’s National Headquarters in Monrovia.
“We are aware of your sacrifices, and we see all the odds you had to surmount to ensure the program was a big success.
“The Liberia we seek to provide leadership for is a Liberia where citizens in the face of threats, harassment and intimidation will stand up to their “mis-leaders” and say “enough is enough ” as was demonstrated by you all today.
“Special thanks to all our invited guests, leaders of various opposition political parties and all those who contributed to this success.
“Now, we have presented to you, our team. We can’t rest now, not tomorrow or the day after. We only get to rest when this corrupt empire of crooks led by Mr. Weah and his collaborators are democratically evicted from the leadership of our country. They have damaged this country enough, and It is time to say goodbye to their stewardship.
“Rescue 1 and 2 are very grateful for your massive and peaceful show of support and want to assure Liberians of a better and united country under JNB-J-Koung Leadership,” the release stated.
Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee of the Unity Party has also congratulated the political leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Senator Jeremiah Koung, for his selection as Vice Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, stating that it looks forward to working with his team of professionals and the people of Nimba County in delivering a one-round victory in the upcoming October Presidential and Legislative elections.