‘Perfectly Fine’ -Boakai’s Aides Say He Resumes Duties After Exhaustion -Commentators Delve in Additional Possible Causes
MONROVIA: Colorful and historic inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol Building yesterday became even more historic when the newly inaugurated president failed to fully exhaust his oration due to what officials call “heat exhaustion” he suffered while on stage. This rare incident, rather than the national event, has been dominating public discussions and headlines of news outlets. It has also cast ominous chills and anxieties amongst Liberians, some experiencing palpitation of the heart in fear of any eventuality. But it seems all is calm and there is no need to panic. It was mere heat exhaustion, officials say, and weather experts putting the temperature of January 22, 2024 in Monrovia to 30 degree celsius. Aides of the President have further calmed nerves, stating that the Chief Executive has since been resuscitated, and that he has begun official duties just few hours after the rather embarrassing spectacle. However, as The Analyst reports, there are other Liberians toying with other probable causes.
Nature almost ruined Liberians’ pride and joy when a widely celebrated seamless political transition got hiccupped as the just-inducted president Joseph N. Boakai could not finish his speech. The temperature was extremely high, at 30 degree Celsius, and it seemed the elderly President who was delivering his inauguration speech could hardly stand the heat, though the program was held on in open space on the ground of the Capitol Building.
The unfortunately incident has been raising much ado amongst Liberians as well as a throng of international guests who also attended the historic inauguration program on January 22, 2024.
But less than an hour after the ceremony, which was essentially truncated due to the situation, the President’s office has announced the he is “perfectly fine and that he has resumed his normal activities.”
A release circulated by presidential aide Mr. Charles Snetter, while acknowledging that “the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, suffered heat exhaustion during the inaugural ceremonies today”, indicated that the President’s “doctors have declared him perfectly fine”.
“He has resumed his normal activities,” Mr. Snetter said in the release. “He is expected to meet with the Ghanaian President and other dignitaries today.”
It is also said that at least an hour or two after the heat exhaustion incident at the inauguration program, President Boakai received the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo at his residence in the Rehab Community, Paynesville.
Officials said that, during the meeting, Mr. Addo once again reiterated his congratulation to Boakai on his historic occasion of his election during the just concluded Presidential round off where he narrowly edged out former President George Manneh Weah.
According to the officials, President Boakai is expected to make his initial nominations in government, having been sworn in office yesterday. They emphasized the need to form his government so that the promises made to the Liberian people will be realized.
Despite the official version of what took place at the inauguration ceremonies on January 22, 2024, citizens have been voicing their opinions, a bulk of them indicating the ugly incident could have been avoided.
That the President of the Liberia could not finish is constitutional statement particularly in the full view of several high-profile international guests was a national embarrassment, according to some citizens.
President Boakai had gone some 30 minutes into his speech when he started experiencing signs of discomfort, starting with a series of coughs and beaming his eyes deeper on the papers he was reading from.
He then stopped a bit, using his bare hands and then a piece of handkerchief in his hand to wipe the sweat that was fast running down his forehead.
The incident, which obviously stunned invited guests including Heads of State and governments and representatives of their respective governments and international agencies, took place when the audience was paying rapt attention to the 23 page- inaugural address.
Then all of the sudden, the President stopped momentarily and some security operatives edged on him, taking him backwards where he was made to sit down while they removed the cap from his head to fan him and oxygen was brought to revive him, an observer told The Analyst.
An anxious on looking and worried crowd peep from the distance as the event unfolded while the jittery guests, mostly foreign diplomats, looking there in close range awestruck.
While some citizens agree that reasons provided by the office of the President could be the case, others contend that a lot of other unaddressed issues linger.
Some observers, a number of them being versed in presidential protocol matters, identified the 23 page long speech meant to have been delivered in full by the President was to blame for exhaustion the President.
Others say both the President himself and his speech writer are to blame. According to them, while it was odd for the speech writer to have scripted such a long speech to be delivered by an almost 80 year-old man, the President must be blamed because, normally, the content of the speech is dictated by the speaker.
One official said there were a lot of unnecessary things obviously included in the work which should not have been included in the speech.
He maintained that what the public wanted from the President even if he must touch everything on his mind, it was simply a summary and not a boring entire topic for discussion.
“You don’t need all those pages if you want to deliver an inaugural address that will leave a lasting impression on the people; just a summary of basic things such as thanking the people for support and then give a summary of what you intend to do since you have been campaigning to them with the same message repeatedly and nothing new to talk about anymore,” a political pundit told The Analyst at the inaugural program yesterday.
Another reason for the incident, according to several persons who spoke to The Analyst, was the dress code of the President.
They asserted that ordinarily on a hot day, wearing a bulletproof vest under a thick long sleeve-African shirt with a hat will add weight and heat to one’s wearing and it was telling before, during and after the program was disrupted prematurely.
“What the President put on contributed to the heat he experienced and I wonder who dictated the dress code to him,” the commentator said to The Analyst.
Said Samata Blean, a fashion designer in Monrovia: “I wonder who dictated the dress code to him. You could see how the clothes were weighing him down coupled with the heat from the scourging sun alone was bound to cause some problems.”
Besides the reasons provided thus far, some other persons placed the blame on the very poor arrangement and executions of the entire inaugural program to the extent that not even a bag of water was given to the attendees at the program.
They said it was unfortunate that a program of that magnitude could be handled with reckless abundance as if to say it did not matter to the state and its people.
“There should be some kind of probe into this show of shame by the organizers so that we will avoid a similar occurrence in the future. You cannot have such a program and none of the attendees including guests were given a bag of water.
“Sadly, you could see the President delivered his speech without a bottle of water on his side. Perhaps pausing to take water would have helped eased or suppressed the exhaustion and we just have to thank God that a very ugly thing did not happen”, said one of callers to The Analyst last night.