With five months to the holding of Liberia’s next presidential election, signalling the beginning of the end of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s tenure of office, the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has paid glowing tribute to the leadership shown by Africa’s first female Head of State.
Having assumed the reins of government in Liberia at a very difficult moment in the country’s history, President Akufo-Addo applauded President Johnson Sirleaf’s efforts at fostering a spirit of national reconciliation amongst Liberians, and restoring law and order, since she took office in 2006.
President Akufo-Addo noted that, “your efforts, in this regard, were recognised. You won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with two others, for your role in contributing to securing peace in Liberia, promoting economic and social development, and also strengthening the position of women.”
He continued, “Again, during the outbreak of the ebola virus in Liberia, which resulted in the death of thousands, your resolve and that of all Liberians were tested. However, at the end of the day, the people of this resilient nation prevailed under your guidance, and ensured an end to the outbreak of this deadly disease.”
To crown it all, the President stated that “last year, your colleague Heads of State voted unanimously to elect you as Chairperson of ECOWAS. We are all proud of the work you have done and continue to do in service to God, country and region.”
The President made this known on Friday, May 27, 2017, at a State Dinner and Investiture ceremony held in his honour by President Johnson Sirleaf, at the commencement of his 2-day visit to Liberia.
President Akufo-Addo commended President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the strong leadership she has also exhibited in promoting the development of an economy still reeling from the aftershocks of ebola, which have compromised the economic gains made by Liberia in recent years.
“However, the World Bank projects that over the medium term, economic growth is expected to increase to 5.0% on average, due to a recovery in mining and improvements in infrastructure, particularly in energy and roads, and higher agricultural productivity. Hopefully, this growth path will endure,” he added.
Ahead of the conduct of October’s presidential election, President Akufo-Addo applauded his Liberian counterpart for the ongoing efforts being made at entrenching democracy and the rule of law in the body politic of Liberia.
“That process will be enhanced, to the admiration of all in our region and beyond, by the quality of the arrangements for October’s electoral contest, and by the quality of the democratic transition which Liberia is about to witness. I wish you and the Liberian people well and Godspeed,” he said
Stronger ties between Ghana and Liberia
It was the desire of President Akufo-Addo that Ghana and Liberia continually search for ways to co-operate, irrespective of who is at the helm of office of the two countries, stressing that it is important that the two countries forge a new, strong partnership for cooperation for the mutual benefit of their two peoples.
He recounted this history of Ghana’s bilateral relations with Liberia, encompassing the times when President William V.S. Tubman of Liberia and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah helped to facilitate the establishment, in 1963, of the Organisation of African Unity.
President Akufo-Addo also referred to the involvement of Ghana in the consolidation of peace and security in Liberia in the last decade, as well as playing host to thousands and thousands of Liberian refugees who fled the civil war. Through the efforts of Ghana’s Volta River Authority, electricity was extended to post-conflict Monrovia for the first time in 2006.
“Co-operation in the development of our agriculture, education, science and technology, infrastructure, health, energy, and the co-ordination of the exploitation of our mutual natural resources, such as iron ore, diamonds, gold, timber and rubber, would be of immense benefit to our two countries,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.
Despite the good relations that exist between the two countries, there are still a number of outstanding matters, in the areas of fisheries, provision of technical support for technical and vocational education, military co-operation, health and finance, to which President Akufo-Addo assured that “I promise you, they will now be addressed.”
Award of highest national award
President Akufo-Addo, on the night, was decorated with Liberia’s highest national award, the Grand Order of the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of Pioneers.
This award was for his contribution towards the sustenance of lasting peace in Liberia, and helping to set the country on the path to recovers.
The President was also enstooled as a chief by the Paramount Chiefs of Monrovia, and given the stool name Kandakai Gbogba, to wit “a good man who brings peace”, at the ceremony.
President Akufo-Addo, earlier on his arrival in Monrovia, was given the key to the city of Monrovia by the Mayor, Hon. Clara Doe.