Against the backdrop of a carefully crafted analysis conducted during the opening day of the conference, Capitol Times presents a picture of how things might fare today for the various contestants after the votes are counted.
Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s fate as a lone runner for the UP Standard Bearership took a twist of good fortune on the eve of the convention after his opponent Togar Garweay McIntosh withdrew from the race and defected from the party. When he announced his entry into the race few weeks ago to contest against Joe Boakai, pundits had surmised that the former Foreign Minister’s gambit might have gotten the support of President Sirleaf; otherwise, why would a relatively political unknown be so brave to run against the most favored candidate of the party? But Sirleaf herself quashed such thinking when she mounted the podium yesterday to present the keynote address.
“I pay homage to you, Mr. Vice President - Mr. Standard Bearer, for your loyalty and unquantifiable support during this turbulent journey to contribute to the growth and development of our party and our nation. It is a result of that loyalty that we have pledged our support for you to lead us to 2017,” Sirleaf declared amidst rapturous applause from the UP delegates.
With his fate sealed as the next political leader destined to take the party to the 2017 elections, Joe Boakai’s toughest assignment would be how well he can convince the electorates that he’s the next best man to sit in the Executive Mansion.
Incumbent Varney Sherman having thrown in the towel for the coveted National Chairman post automatically paved the way for Secretary General Wilmot Paye’s ascendancy to the chairmanship. Running unopposed, Paye is considered by many party stalwarts as the ultimate reformer and institution builder. Insiders say both Varney Sherman and Veep Boakai have thrown their weight 100% behind Paye. On the other hand, President Sirleaf, it is widely rumored, lost confidence in Paye for his brash political style; especially for his disavowal of Robert Sirleaf during the 2014 special senatorial elections and the recent Global Witness corruption saga where Paye openly supported UP Chairman Sherman and condemned the special Presidential Task Force as a witch hunt exercise.
1st NATIONAL VICE CHAIRMAN
The post of First National Vice Chairman is hotly contested by incumbent Jeremiah Sulonteh, the current Liberian Ambassador to Washington; and Neto Lighe, the youthful Minister of Labor. Among the two, Sulonteh has to his advantage a wealth of experience in party politicking. But what Lighe lacks in experience he makes up with his closeness to outgoing chairman Varney Sherman and Veep Boakai. Delegates have confirmed to Capitol Times that both men have been lobbying intensely all day yesterday to have Neto Lighe clinch the 1st National Vice Chairman position.
VICE CHAIRMAN FOR GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
The post of Vice Chair for Governmental Affairs seems crowded with Isaac Manneh, Cole Bangalu and Omega Brown battling it out in Gbarnga. As an official of the Liberian Unification Party (LAP), Manneh led a breakaway faction in 2004 which forced Cllr. Charles Brumskine to resign from the LUP at the time. Many UP insiders say incumbent Vice Chairman Manneh has secured the explicit confidence of Cllr. Varney Sherman to retain his seat. On the other hand, contestant Cole Bangalu, party insiders say, has the total support of Vice President Joseph Boakai. According to one insider who spoke with Capitol Times, “Boakai is supporting Cole because da his country man from Lofa County.” In the triangulate, Omega Brown doesn’t seem to have a fighting chance.
VICE CHAIRMAN FOR YOUTH AFFAIRS
With Amos Tweh stepping out of contention for the coveted Nation Youth Chairman position, Assistant Minister for Land and Rail at the Transport Ministry, Kansualism B. Kansuah, has thrown in his hat against Curtis Dorleh, the current Youth Chairman for Bong County. The popular belief in Gbarnga is that Karnsuah, who is reportedly supported by Veep Boakai, will beat Dorleh hands down.
NATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL
The prestigious Secretary General post is being hotly contested by Atty. Miller Catakaw, Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh and Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe. Of the three men, it is reported that President Sirleaf’s prime choice is Nagbe, who played a yeoman’s role in the 2011 decider that clinched her victory. A key strategist and backroom dealer, Nagbe is seen by some UP stalwarts as an outsider who has infiltrated the party at the detriment of his former party (CDC). “He could betray the UP one day,” confided a delegate who asked not to be named.
But Representative Edwin Snowe is sure that Nagbe will come out victorious against Fahnbulleh and Catakaw. Snowe believes Fahnbulleh needs to make amends with the party before thinking about contesting for the Secretary General post.
NATIONAL WOMEN CONGRESS
This post is so overcrowded, it appears the delegates might have serious problem choosing the right candidate from the field. However, out of the five contestants vying for the National Women Chair position, Helena Doe Knuckles, who is said to be favored by both Veep Boakai and Varney Sherman, could become the outright winner today.