The Headline of Monday’s “Hot Pepper Newspaper” captioned “For Trip to Lofa, VP Boakai Extorted Money From ADA” and the simultaneous broadcast on a local daily talk show, is yet another example of reckless and irresponsible journalism, and the sheer desperation with which sworn enemies are unsuccessfully attempting to besmear the image of Vice President Joseph Boakai. As a result of their inability to discuss in a substantive manner, the issues affecting the Liberian people and put forward meaningful solutions, some politicians have resorted to belly-driven pseudo journalists in an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the one man they see as obstacle in their greedy quest for power.
The truth remains that at no time whatsoever did the Honorable Vice President attempt to get any money from the ADA. Here are the facts: 1. In late November 2008, Mr. Windell McIntosh, President/Chief Executive Officer of the ADA, paid a series of visits to the VP’s office, providing updates on the rice project. Around that time, although the project was making slow progress, it was also experiencing workers discontent and other forms of labor unrests, many attributed to Mr. McIntosh’s hostile management style. The VP explained that because it was toward the end of the calendar year, the domestic travel budget had been nearly exhausted and therefore sought to postpone the visit to the following year (2009). Considering the mounting tension provoked by McIntosh himself, the ADA offered to cover the expense of the trip contrary to the rubbish extortion claim embedded in the Hot Pepper Tabloid. The VP and his office then promised to get back to ADA at a later date to give the offer some critical thoughts. Mr. McIntosh called repeatedly during the subsequent days the decision was being given consideration—alarming that the tension was going out of hand and had reached a crisis proportion, hence, it needed the Vice President to expeditiously step up and assist in resolving the matter and at the same time reiterating his offer to cover the expenses to be incurred. 2. It however important to point out here that contrary to the obnoxious impression heralded by the Hot Pepper Tabloid that the Vice President used his office and influence to extort money from ADA/LAP, It is not unusual for local or international entities around the world to underwrite the costs of trips or make offers in the spirit of mutual interest—in this case it was an offer of mutual interest.. 3. Consequently, on November 26, 2008, the VP Office Chief of staff wrote, transmitting the budget of $10,314.05 (Ten Thousand Three Hundred and Fourteen dollars and Five Cents) for a 7-day visit to Foya, Lofa County, with three days exclusively dedicated to ADA. 4. On December 3, 2008, the Office received a call from ADA indicating that funding for the trip had been approved and was ready. Upon arrival at the ADA/LAP financial section, the VP office comptroller was presented with a cash receipt for a whooping US$30,133.05 (Thirty Thousand Once Hundred Thirty-three United States Dollars and Five Cents), along with an adjusted budget, and was asked to sign same. When asked why the additional US$20,000 (Twenty Thousand US Dollars) increment, the Financial Officer, replied, “…look, just sign the receipt and we have the US$10,000 here and something is built inside for others and for you.” To give “greater comfort level” the ADA Financial Officer pre-signed and witnessed the receipt. At that point, the VP comptroller refused the entire amount, took a copy of the receipt and left the ADA office, promising to get back to them. A copy of the receipt on the letterhead of ADA and pre-signed by Financial Officer is attached herewith. 5. We challenge Windell McIntosh, Philibert Browne, their cohorts and pay masters to produce any shred of evidence that the VP Office signed for and received any money as they are falsely claiming. We know that they are not interested in their truth, and as the political season comes into full bloom, they will stop at nothing until their biggest obstacle named Joseph Boakai, is removed from the way of their evil ambition and greed for power. We are also aware that they are programmed and settled to consistently wage blistering attacks on the Vice President with the aim of stigmatizing him by all means possible, but interestingly they are making zero progress on this front. 6. Better yet, we challenge Mr. McIntosh to release not just these documents, but all of documents showing how the US$30 million dollars given for the ADA rice project was actually spent. He should not just stop at releasing partial documents on some $10,000, representing 0.033 percent of $30 million (which was not even received), but we urge him to release all the documents showing the true beneficiaries of the $30 million dollars, and also explain to the Liberian people how the project went from ADA Rice to ADA Rich Project. 7. What would-be extortionist would ask for US$10,000, be offered US$30,000 and walk away from it!?! The Liberian people are not fools. So, before they and their funders start jumping and hi-fiving each other and celebrating in glee that they have chipped away at the reputation of Joseph N. Boakai, let them pause and rethink their strategy. 8. On the other so-called issue of the Vice President “undermining” the efforts of the shallow attempts of Wendell McIntosh to jump start the ADA project, the published letter (copy of which was given to Mr. McIntosh), clearly shows the enthusiastic endorsement of the ECOWAS initiative. The Honorable Vice President by any reasoning of any sound mind, acted prudently, and in the best interest of the Liberian people by insisting that any major rice initiative be driven by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with private ventures!