Special Awards In Pictures

…as VP Boakai searches for running mate
As the political terrain is getting hotly explosive few months to the conduct of the general and presidential elections, so are the players within are being put on stretcher in an effort to examine and establish their true identities.

Who are they that want to lead? How credible are they to win the trust of the people? Similarly, this question and many more are inundating as Vice President Joseph Boakai is on the verge of naming his running mate, reportedly looking at Mr. Martinokey Tingban and House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay as well as Gberzongar Findley. Who is the guy that suits his (Boakai’s) character; is he too politically eviscerated or his hands are stained with the political blood of betrayal? The New Republic looks at concerns in party circle regarding his activities, seeming betrayal of the UP.
Eyebrows are being raised in political cycles, mainly in the ranks and file of the ruling Unity Party, with news that Vice President Joseph Boakai is may consider House Speaker, J. Emmanuel Nuquay, as running mate.
Out of several names proffered including former President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Gbezhongar Findley of Grand Bassa County, Rep. Matinnekay Tingban of Nimba County, Senator Henry Yallah of Bong County, Rep. Nuquay is said to be at the bottom of the list.
Latest information gathered by this paper says the stage is set for the official announcement of a running mate on Sunday by VP Boakai. Party insiders hinted this paper that VP Boakai is looking at the track records of all the potential candidates, especially in recent times at the capital building. The three names are said to be out; but sources said one key figure Rev. Dr. Olu Menjay of the Baptist Seminary and Education Convention, turned the request down from the party to go as running mate.

Firmly positioned as Speaker of the 53rd Legislature, Nuquay’s past records may be hunting him, especially from the days of the establishment of the party-People’s Unification Party(PUP). Here, they are seriously skeptical about some issues, mainly credibility and fairness.

A Betrayer?

Speaker Nuquay has proved himself as a politician, someone who has an insight and huge stake in the body-politics of Liberia. As lawmaker, he is at a place where politics is played at the highest peak.

At the Legislature, it is said that either you as a lawmaker you stand for something or fall for something or everything. One of the things being highlighted by concerned partisans for which they are questioning his (Nuquay’s) commitment to a cause or is viewed as a ‘betrayer,’ is the role he played in the downing of former House Speaker, Alex Tyler.
Tyler was forced out of office by the signatures of Speaker Nuquay and others after he got embroiled in corruption allegation surrounding the Sable Mining Bribery scandal.
Before the emergence of the bribery scandal for which Tyler was asked to recuse himself and subsequently dethroned, he (Nuquay) positioned himself as his confident, someone he trusted to work with him and defend his cause. Tyler and Nuquay exchanged talks and ideas on many issues.
Under Tyler as Speaker, Nuquay held onto the prestigious position of chairman of the ways, means and finance committee of the House of Representatives for a good number of years. He remained in the position prior to Tyler’s depose under the canopy of ‘losing credibility to serve as speaker’ as a result of his mention in corruption scandal.
Importantly as informed, Tyler, Nuquay’s intimacy was cemented with the formation of a political party, People’s Unification Party (PUP), following their defection from the ruling UP under the guise of ‘the party betrayed the interest of the Liberian people.’
Other stakeholders of the formation of the PUP were Senator Henry Jallah and Rep. Moses Kollie of Lofa County. However, to the amazement of Liberians, Tyler was seen with a newly formed party, Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP), and according to insiders, he saw the writing on the wall that his best friends, mainly Nuquay, was to gear up against him.

Many also think he has the skin of betrayer because he left the UP after it fought hard to have him reelected in 2011 elections. Being that he is not a member of the UP, party insiders contend, he does not have the party at heart any longer.
“It is highly unimaginable why VP BoaKai is thinking about him, given the way he treated the party, ridiculed the party and dragged its image in the mud.” We think the decision is wrong and politically awkward,” one of the concerned party insiders said.

“We still hold the conviction that he is a politician who should not be trusted and as such picked for running mate to VP Boakai.”

Flirting With The Wrong Person?

Also, there are concerns whether VP Boakai is flirting with the wrong person given that the two of them are not from the same political party.  Then little known, came to prominence in 2005 when he ran as independent candidate and won as District number five representative.

However, perhaps being that it was hard to make inroads at the Legislature without being attached to any party, he made his way to the UP in the preceding years. He was successful in getting through.

He subsequently joined the UP before the next elections of 2011, ran and won on the party’s ticket.In the political makeup, it is hard for standard-bearers to name running mates outside of their parties.

According to concerned partisans, VP Boakai’s decision is so baffling as it has the tendency to drive other partisans away. They are also concerned about what could be his reliance for such political gamble when his choice is an outsider, not in the rank and file of the UP.

Deal Between UP & PUP

Recently, the PUP pledged and endorsed the presidential bid of VP Boakai just as other parties have done in the past, though details surrounding such endorsement remain scanty. There are no reports of any deal being struck between the two parties, wherein one puts forth presidential candidate and the running mate comes from the other. In the absence of such arrangement between the UP and PUP, many wonder why he is among the lists of running mates.

Popularity

One of the issue brought to bed surrounds the popularity of the VP’s choice for running mate. In elections, it is said that popularity counts and no politician wins an election when he does not have the numbers.
There are unconfirmed reports that the Speaker is not a popular person in Margibi County, let alone the entire country. More besides, Margibi is not considered as a vote-rich county as compared to Nimba, Lofa, Bong and Montserrado. According to records from the National Elections Commission(NEC) Margibi comes fifth in terms of registered voters. Nimba comes second to Montserrado county.
“He is not popular like before because of what he is doing,” a resident of Kakata, Margibi told this paper when quizzed about the Speaker’s popularity.
It is alleged that some citizens of the county are not in support of him because those he presented to them to vote for in past elections have failed them. In short, citizens think the Speaker has betrayed them and their confidence.
The Speaker is running for reelection and there are reports that other sons of the district are pushing him to the wall, thus putting his reelection bid into question.
Citizens are worried that he might not just cater to their wellbeing if he was given the mantle for the third time in roll. This is something, according to concerned partisans, VP Boakai should be concerned about.

PUP Reactions:

But Mr. Philip Moore, Assistant Secretary General for Press and Propaganda of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) of which speaker Nuquay is a member of denied the allegations.

He told this paper in a telephone interview late Wednesday that politics is about interest. He admitted that speaker Nuquay was a friend to former speaker Alex Tyler. “Yes he was a friend to former speaker Alex Tyler and as you all know, Tyler was indicted and he needed to recuse himself to go through the investigation. If the person who holds the gavel of authority that can impeach judges and presidents can not go to recuse himself, then it shows a bad sign. It was on that basis that many of Tyler’s friend advised him to resign.”

On why speaker Nuquay, who was original member of the UP left to form the PUP, he said, it was due to policy differences. At the time, he said, the ideologies of the UP were not in line with his-hence the formation of PUP.
“So, he had to leave and form the PUP. Politics is about interest. There is nothing like permanent friend in politics.”
But he continued that with the return of Nuquay to UP shows that the vision of Ambassador Boakai are in line with that of the PUP. “If you find out that a particular party vision is not in line with yours, you leave.”
Even though he said, ambassador Boakai has not name speaker Nuquay as running mate, be is one of the contenders for the post. According to him, the PUP had collaboration with the UP at the highest level. However, one senior insider from the party denied that saying, “There is no such documents in anywhere at all. So, all are lies.”

He continued: “there are those who think that when they endorse the ambassador in their counties he will be select them. He continued: “as far as I am concerned, I am not aware of any decision on speaker Nuquay to go as the running mate.”

Why not Findley?

They had thought Findley would have emerged as the VP’s choice for running mate, given his track records in the rank and file of the UP. Not much is known about him prior to him becoming Senator in 2005.

He became a business man exporting Coco and later married Kadiatu Diaharra, former Special Assistant to President Taylor. Since then, nothing was heard of him until the 2005 elections. He lived in Sweden for years before returning to Liberia.

A quiet character, he made his way into the ranks and file of the UP gradually and subsequently made President Pro-Tempore after the 2011 elections, succeeding former Grand Kru County Senator Cletus Wotorson who decided not to run for office again.

Since then, Findley remained with the UP despite losing the Special Elections of 2014, ensuring that it wins the ensuing elections. He has been preaching the Boakai story since he was petitioned and accepted to run for office.
Findley was instrumental in putting committed citizens together for the endorsement of Boakai’s presidential bid sometimes ago. Though he did not win, many don’t see him as a betrayer; rather it is his people that betrayed him.

What’s about Tingban?

For a protracted period of time, the name Mantenokay Tingban has been associated with VP Boakai, in terms of his choice for running mate. Fearless and tough-talking, Rep. Tingban has been working behind the scenes in defense of Boakai’s cause, ensuring that he is accepted not only in Nimba County but across the country.
In spite of his title, he worked assiduously in establishing the Friends of Boakai throughout the length and breadth of the country. A former Deputy minister of at the Mines Ministry in Government, there is no reported story of betrayal(not has been reported) of any cause. He is firm on issues of national concerns, at times lashes at the government when it goes wrong.

With credential and character, many think that he may stand a good chance as running mate. He is popular in his county. Unlike Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine who selected Mr. Harrison Karnwea from Nimba, the Dahn tribe, Tinghan may get huge support from his line too. He will be seen as their man since Senator Prince Johnson is from the Gio ethnic group and Ben Urery’s running mate, is from the Gio Ethinc group. But only the vice president and president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf know who the running mate of ambassador Boakai will be come Sunday or Monday.

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