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Liberians left amazed upon listening to former presidential hopeful, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, announcing that he would not contest the presidency in the ensuing elections any longer. Besides and as it is normal in these kind of circumstances, the pronouncement also left many wondering as to what might have gone wrong that he has decided to change gear on his presidential quest.

Ngafuan Boakai 9x6Back in September 2015, Ngafuan, then Foreign Minister of Liberia, signaled his interest in an elected position in the ensuing elections when he tendered his resignation while on official duty in the United States.

He took the decision to relinquish to such illustrious position in government on the back of the Code of Conduct which had just been passed into law. The Code of Conduct demands all appointed officials of government desirous of contesting elected positions to resign two years before the ensuing elections.

Resigned as foreign minister
Ngafuan at the time stated he was resigning to be an active player in the coming 2017 presidential and general elections. He said his resignation had nothing to do with any beef with the president. “There is no acrimonious relationship between me and the president. In fact, I had a “frank and cordial discussion” with the president who graciously accepted his resignation.”

Ngafuan said while he did not agree with some provisions of the law, he had no intention to disobey it. “I have therefore determined that my continued service in the Government in the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs will have the net effect of legally making me politically inactive, an outcome that conflicts with my intention for the future. It is in light of the aforementioned, coupled with my desire to keep my political options open, that I have written the president of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, tendering my resignation from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia effective October 10, 2015,” the statement said.

He acted on the back of the code of conduct, though said he does not agree with some of the provisions of code of conduct for elected officials because it appears to discriminate against appointed officials while leaving legislators with similar political ambitions virtually untouched.

Ngafuan resigns from UP

In further push of his presidential ambition, Ngafuan, who held three prestigious positions – director of the budget, finance and foreign minister - few months later tendered his resignation from the ruling Unity Party of which he served as Executive member.

He contended that as executive member he was left out of decision making in the party since the end of the 2011 elections. He refused to discuss other sensitive issues.

Changes gear

With just few months before Liberians go to the polls, the former Foreign Minister Wednesday changed course on his presidential ambition in 2017 in favor of the standard-bearer of his former Unity Party, Amb. Joseph Boakai.

“I will not run for President, Vice President or Representative in the elections slated for October 10, 2017. I hereby announce that I endorse the presidential bid of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Standard-bearer of the ruling Unity Party,” he said to cheers from his supporters and well-wishers as well as members of the UP.

The decision, be as it may, contradicts his long-held plan not to be inactive in these elections. He also brushed aside concerns that going in the race with the veep Boakai was a disrespect, considering that the two are from Lofa County and that he (vice president) is an uncle to him (Ngafuan).

In December 2013, the former Ngafuan minister said he considered the 2017 elections as a turning point moment in the history of the country and. As such, he said, he did not intend to be inactive in the 2017 political process.

His position was re-emphasized last year during the launch of the Friends of Augustine Ngafuan (FAN), Bong County chapter, at which time he declared his intention to contest the Liberian presidency.

He told the nation that the decision to contest the country’s highest seat was triggered by the fact that he possess the competence, character, commitment, experience and the patriotism that are needed in the leaders of the land if the country would develop and prosper.

However, in a rather calm and controlled mood, the former Dean of cabinet said following several consultations with other political parties and politicians in the country, he realized that Vice President Boakai deeply shares his vision to bring honest and transformative leadership to the country.

“We have been having some deep and long conversations and interactions with some of our other compatriots who also seek to lead the country. One of our fellow compatriots pursuing the presidency who has reached out to us is Vice President, Joseph Boakai, Standard-bearer of the Unity Party,” he said.

“Over this protracted period of deep conversations and assessment, we are left with the solid impression and conclusion that Vice President Boakai deeply shares our vision to bring honest and transformative leadership to our dear country.”

According to him, Veep Boakai has demonstrated that he has a consuming passion and a heart for “our country as well as the capacity and willingness to take good advice so long as it advances the national interest and promotes development, unity, reconciliation, and peace.”

In an electrifying tune, Ngafuan expressed strong conviction that a resounding first round victory for vice president Boakai is achievable for “if all those on the vice president team work in unity and with a sense of purpose.”

However, an elected veep Boakai thanked former Minister Ngafuan for taking such a bold step and called on every one of his team to remain focused in achieving their goal.

He said he believed in a Liberia where officials of government would now begin to send their kids to public schools and seek medical treatment in the country. As such, he said his administration would ensure a proper and better health and educational facilities in the country.

“We are talking about a Liberia whether you are government officials you can attend hospital right here and make sure you children attend public schools because we have to make them what it should be. That the Liberia I believe in,” VP Boakai noted.

By Jackson C. Clay, Jr.

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