One of the nagging criticisms that has haunted Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai since the last presidential and general elections was his decision to run on the then ruling Unity Party ticket which he served two terms as Vice President to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. His critics charged Mr. Boakai for being second in command in a regime that fell short of implementing good governance policies and changing the lives of the struggling citizens. Having lost the 2017 elections to populist soccer icon George Manneh Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Mr. Boakai has since transformed himself into the opposition’s leading contender that could dethrone the ruling CDC from power during the October 2023 polls. But pundits are wondering whether Mr. Boakai is ready to lead Liberia on his own terms, not walking in the shadow of his former boss. What are his policies towards revamping the country’s once thriving agriculture sector and making Liberia self-sufficient as it relates to the country’s staple rice production? The Analyst provides insight into the Unity Party Standard Bearer’s deep thoughts when he recently had an exclusive interview with AfricaNews correspondent Ordelia Nita Moa Boampang.
Addressing the issue of how his critics see him as another Sirleaf administration incarnate, under whose regime he admitted to the then government’s knack for “squandering opportunities”, Ambassador Boakai says he is running on his own merit to change the status quo in Liberia, basically because his role as Vice President during the Sirleaf administration and previous governments under which he served limited his authority to make key decisions that could trigger strategic national policy implementation.
“I am not asking for the continuation of Madam Sirleaf. I am asking for an opportunity in my own right, as someone who has worked in this country, who has seen governments come and go, and who believes that there are still a lot of things in this country that have not been touched upon; that I know I have the competence to deal with.
“In our constitution, the role of the Vice President is to preside over the Senate without a vote, except where there is a tie. The other role which is important is to assist the President. When you assist people, you can take initiative by advising them, but that doesn’t mean you should replace them,” Ambassador Boakai intoned, noting that the presidency will allow him to implement policy actions that will serve as drivers for economic revitalization of the country.
Stressing on one of the key reasons why it is important to ascend to the highest office in the land in order to effect major policy implementation Ambassador Boakai said the presidency will afford him the perfect opportunity to follow through on his experience and expertise in government, especially as it relates to making Liberia food self-sufficient.
“The Liberian farmers do not need a Ministry of Agriculture to grow food and eat because they have to live. The purpose of a Ministry of Agriculture that I know is for policy, technology and extension. And I have emphasized this over and again, that if these three things do not work, the farmers are not going to be involved. And I am on record to say that I have communicated with previous ministers of Agriculture as to their involvement in the engagement of the farmers. I can advise, I can sack a minister; but I believe when you have the gavel in your hand and they know that their nonaction can cause them something, they will react,” Ambassador Boakai said.