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PYJ Makes Big Demands To Boakai’s Administration

By B. Linus Flomo

After playing a pivotal role in the recent election of Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County, is reportedly making excessive demands for major positions in the Boakai-led administration.

Multiple sources have learned that Sen. Johnson, one of the most influential persons in the just-ended general elections, has his sights set on the Liberia Maritime Authority, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, the Liberia Electricity Corporation, and the National Security Agency, among others.

This is, however, not a new phenomenon with Sen. Johnson. The Nimba County Senator-elect prides himself as the kingmaker in Liberian elections. He was instrumental in helping former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf secure a second term in a run-off election, after going neck to neck with the CDC in 2011.

In that election, Weah opted to go as running mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman, who was invited to the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).  For that run-off election, the Sirleaf-Boakai ticket of the Unity Party obtained 118,396 votes (96.73 percent) in Nimba, after Sen. Johnson’s support, which catapulted her to the presidency for a second term. Tubman-Weah got 2,287 votes (3.27 percent) in Nimba.

In the 2017 elections, Sen. Johnson opted to support Pres. Weah in the run-off election. Weah’s main contender was former Vice president Boakai, who was the sitting Vice president at that time.

Johnson contested the first round in that election and came fourth with 127,666 votes, representing 8.22 percent of the total votes. Over 98 percent of Senator Johnson’s votes in that first round were from Nimba.

This victory he aided Weah to get in 2017 came with a heavy cost, demanding that priority be given to Nimbaians in his cabinet, and that he, Sen. Johnson, would make recommendations for those appointments. Sen. Johnson also accused the Weah-led government of refusing to release the county’s development fund paid by ArcelorMittal.

Weah, apparently weary of Sen. Johnson’s demands, in 2022, decided not to buy into anymore demands from the Nimba County Senator.

During a sermon in June this year, Pres. Weah, while on the pulpit at his Forky Klon Family Fellowship Church, referred to Sen. Johnson as a “blackmailer”. He said, “If you do not want to work with us, get on the side, we have other people.”

“You are manipulating people every day. Give me this and give me that. Are you infallible? We are not working with you again, you can go anywhere you want to go,” Weah said.

Ultimately, letting go of Sen. Johnson cost Weah his re-election, has Sen. Johnson’s support to his major contender, Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai, saw him get 74.14 percent of the votes in Nimba in the run-off election. Boakai’s Vice president-elect, Sen. Jeremiah Koung, is a member of Sen. Johnson’s Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR).

Sen. Johnson’s pressure on Weah was made even more evident by the United States Department of Treasury’s sanctions on him, sanctioning the Senator in 2021 for being involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment.

As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations laundered a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.

With less than two months left before President-elect Boakai would fully assume his role as President of Liberia, Sen. Johnson is already hammering him with names that he wants to head some specific government ministries and agencies.

During the campaign, an audio recording was making the rounds on social media about Sen. Johnson telling the people Nimba that Boakai is too old to lead; therefore, voting him and Sen. Koung, who hails from Nimba, into office, would be the surest way to getting a Nimbaian to the Presidency.

He noted that because of Boakai’s age, 79, Sen. Koung would be the president in disguise. For pundits, this means Sen. Johnson would be the President by extension.

Sen. Johnson could be heard pleading with the Mayor of Karnplay in Gbeh-lay Geh District, Philip Flomo, to stop antagonizing the Unity Party’s ticket and, rather, join his team.

He said: “We’re fighting for Nimba County to take the lead and Nimba will win in the name of Jesus. Bassa is with us, Gbarpolu with us, Bomi with us, Lofa with us, Bong County with us; what is your problem that you’re on the radio on me? My brother, what have I done? You got to change.” Senator Johnson added, “We’re fighting for you. This old man is old, he took Koung to be his Vice president. When he wins, isn’t it Koung that would be doing the job for him? Can he go everywhere? No!”

That was not the first time Sen. Johnson had been heard making remarks concerning him or Sen. Koung, now Vice President-elect, becoming the president in disguise.

During an extensive political gathering in Nimba in July of 2023, where Koung was officially unveiled to the people of Nimba as the running mate to Boakai, Sen. Johnson pronounced that Nimba County would produce the next President of Liberia through Jeremiah Koung.

“This is the pathway to the presidency,” the former warlord turned politician said, alluding to Koung’s selection as Boakai’s running mate.

Reliable sources have been informed that the Nimba County Senator is putting forth his influence over Boakai by requesting control over Liberia Maritime Authority, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, the Liberia Electricity Corporation, and the National Security Agency, but his demands are not going down well with President-elect Boakai.

Sources have also gathered that the President-elect Boakai has, in his inner circle, expressed his dissatisfaction at Sen. Johnson’s request, but has been very careful in handling the issue, opting to table discussions on appointments for now.

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