Joseph Boakai, derisively nicknamed “Sleepy Joe,” is set to create history as Liberia’s oldest president. This is after following his victory in the November run-off election at the age of 79. Boakai’s win marks a significant generational shift, replacing George Weah. George, the nation’s youngest-ever elected leader, rose to the presidency at 51 but lost to Boakai.
Despite concerns about Boakai’s health, including his use of a pacemaker due to a heart condition, he has dismissed worries, emphasizing his unwavering commitment to the country’s cause. As Boakai assumes the presidency, the nation faces pressing challenges such as an economic crisis, drug abuse, shortages of goods, and the need for swift and effective solutions.
“Expectations of Boakai’s presidency are high,” remarked Larry Nyanquoi, a former local official in Nimba County. Boakai is viewed as someone who has not engaged in corruption and has lived a modest life. He has prompted Liberians to anticipate stability, improved infrastructure, and enhanced public services.
The outgoing governments did not fulfil its commitment to the citizens. It failed to establish a war and economic crimes court. There were also suspicions surrounding the mysterious deaths of four government auditors. This has heightened expectations for Boakai to address issues of justice and accountability. Analyst Abdulla Kiatamba stressed the need for Boakai to deliver on promises that differ from previous leaders’ rhetoric.
Boakai was sworn in for a six-year term during a ceremony in Monrovia’s parliament. He brings 40 years of political experience to his presidency. He previously served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under Liberia’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Boakai faces the challenge of meeting the high expectations of a nation eager for change and progress.