The Scramble for Veep

Presidential candidates (l-r) Boakai, Brumskine and Weah


Political campaigns have not officially started. But the rush is already on for the presidential candidates in the 2017 Liberian elections to pick a running mate ahead of schedule.

Many of the candidates are combing Nimba County, a political sub-division that has the second largest number of registered voters in the country.

So far, Benoni Urey of the All Liberian party has just chosen Senator Prince Johnson, one the county’s influential leaders, as his running mate.

Both Senator Johnson and Urey have common roots: in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which started the rebellion that grew into the bloody civil war in the 1990s. Although Johnson later broke away to lead his own faction, pairing with Urey is a reunion to seek power outside the barrel of the gun.

businessman Urey. Can he pull it off?

Mr. Urey is a business and wealthy man. He brings to the pair his business flair which he hopes to use to solve some of Liberia’s problems. With his military background, Senator Johnson hopes the public will trust his judgment for national security.

Candidate Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party, has also picked Harrison Kanwea, a Nimba citizen, as vice president. It’s hard to tell what quality about Harrison that attracts Brumskine, except that Harrison is from Nimba.

Harrison was Internal Affairs Minister and Managing Director in the Sirleaf-Johnson administration. He was previously recommended to Joseph Boakai by President Johnson-Sirleaf, according to reports. But Boakai is said to have ignored the recommendation because he wanted a youthful running mate.

Brumskine, a lawyer, seized on the opportunity and chose Harrison in the hope that he will pull off enough votes from Nimba. Whether the formula will work is something to watch for.

As for Vice President Boakai, he has not made a choice. But amongst his short-listed names for consideration is Nimba County Representative in the House, R. Matenokey Tingba. Rep. Tingba is a very popular businessman who has various work projects in the county.

Others on VP Boakai’s list is human rights advocate Samuel Kofi Woods. Woods and Boakai’s relations date back to the 1980s when Woods came out of college fresh and Boakai hired him as Executive Director of the Monrovia YMCA.

Woods has also won public admiration for himself from his fearless advocacy for human rights over the years. His works in the rights field are well documented. He served as Labor and Public Works Minister respectively in the current administration before resigning to become its critic.

He commands the support of the youth. However, it’s uncertain whether his popularity extends outside of Metropolitan Monrovia.

Mr. Boakai also listed former Liberian Finance Minister and retired IMF executive, Antoinette Sayeh. She is a gold mine in terms of experience and maturity that many Liberians think Boakai should pick her. Besides her feminine factor, which the public cite as a positive mark, she has the skills, contacts and qualification Liberia needs for post war economic development.

The last two on the Vice President’s short-list are Henrique Topkpah (Bong County) and former Grand Bassa   County Senator Gbezhongar Milton Findley.

Although Mr. Tokpah is former president of Cuttington University and now Minister of Internal Affairs, he has low rating of attracting voters from Bong.

Both Tokpah and Findley are considered baggage, according to locals interviewed in Bong and Bassa.

The two candidates that have not looked to Nimba for a running mate are Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress and George Weah, of the Coalition for Democratic Change. Both candidates chose their running mates from Bong County.

ANC’s Cummings, a former Coca cola executive, recently picked former Liberian ambassador to the US, Jeremiah Solunteh while Senator Weah (Montserrado), slected Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor (Bong) and former First Lady of Liberia.




Filed in: Breaking

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