By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Monrovia, Liberia said that Nigeria will this year provide 50 volunteers in the field of education and health to support Liberia addresse its challenges in those field.
This, the President said would be done through the nation’s Technical Assistance Programme.
President Buhari also assured that the continent’s largest nation was also prepared to deploy additional volunteers in the other fields, in order to contribute to the capacity building in Liberia.
Buhari who conveyed the felicitations of Nigerians to their brothers in Liberia, said “Today represents yet another significant milestone in the life of the brotherly nation of Liberia.
“Nigerians rejoice with all Liberians on this momentous occasion. It is a matter of pride that Liberia, the first country in Africa to gain its Independence, has successfully preserved its unity and cohesion, despite the tragic events that culminated in an unfortunate civil war.
“I am here to celebrate with you this remarkable achievement while at the same time recalling the enormous contributions and sacrifices made by Nigeria in your recent history.”
The Nigerian leader further assured Liberians of continued support of the country to its development: “As Liberia sustains its notable efforts towards economic recovery, I wish to assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to continue to partner with the country, for all possible assistance with a view to making our modest contributions that will positively impact on the security and economic well-being of the Liberian people.
Speaking on Nigerian experience, the president explained that having realised the futility in continuing to subject the Nigerian economy to the vagaries of its mono-product dependence, his administration has instituted policies aimed at diversifying the national economy which were yielding positive results.
He added that the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan launched by his administration in 2017 was creating the enabling environment for growth, security and economic revival.
“Our government had to adopt appropriate measures including diversification and reforms to address such underlying causes exemplified by our continued dependence on a single-commodity, crude oil, lack of fiscal buffers, leakages, corruption and high governance costs.
“Furthermore, in our efforts to stimulate the economy, our government initiated bold policy interventions that are beginning to yield positive results,”he stated.
Buhari, who was honoured at Liberia’s 172nd Independence Anniversary occasion with the country’s highest award, the “Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers of the Republic of Liberia with Grade of the Knight Grand Cordon”, said he accepted it ” on behalf of all Nigerians and as a tribute to all our country men who paid the supreme price in aid of Liberia’s unity and stability.”
He also thanked the Government and people of Liberia and expressed his resolve to continue to strengthen cooperation within the sub region.
Buhari added that, “This gesture can only strengthen my resolve to rededicate myself to the service of my country, work for the prosperity of our people in the sub-region.”
The President likened the Liberian economic situation to what obtained in Nigeria when he assumed office in 2015 and praised the administration of President George Weah for its social intervention programme.
He told President George Weah that, “I am fully aware that on assumption of office, your country was experiencing severe economic challenges occasioned by the fall in commodity prices, the main source of revenue for Liberia. This situation is akin to what I inherited on my election in 2015. That was a difficult period for the Nigerian economy which later lapsed into recession.”
He commended Weah’s leadership and vision for initiating since coming to office, people oriented projects and programmes including the “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development” (PAPD) launched in 2018.
“I am convinced that this well-articulated programme which is quite similar to our Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020, if well implemented, could bring the desired transformation and sustainable development to Liberia.”
The President encouraged his Liberian counterpart to take decisive actions to further stimulate the economy of the country: “Mr. President, Liberia under your leadership may wish to learn from our experience by taking courageous steps to diversify its economic base by developing the productive sector that would complement earnings from rubber, iron ore and the increasingly dwindling funds from Development Partners.
“In this regard, the need for proper management of human resources and investment in agriculture, solid minerals and other sectors such as tourism where the country has comparative advantage, cannot be overstated.”
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Liberia, Mer. James Dimka told newsmen that the what was deserving because, “We have done what no other African President has done to the country. We have had close relations (Nigeria and Liberia) and this has only strengthen our relations. Liberia was in war for 14 years and the major country that stood by them was Nigeria. Our military just left this country about a month ago. At some point the United Nations, ECOWAS were but Nigeria stayed till the end.
“And so you will recognize that there is a strong relations between Nigeria and Liberia.”
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti said, Nigeria has sacrificed so much for the country even though Liberia is older going by flag independence record.
He said: “Nigeria has done a lot to keep Liberia one. This is the first country we sent the first ECOMOG to and several Nigerians lost their lives to. Uptil very recently, a Nigerian, Gen. Abdulrahman was Chief of Defence Staff here and he lost his life in the course of serving this country. Before him other Nigerians headed their military, Gen Obiakor was the head of mission. I spent sometime here on the flip side of the conflict as the mediator and negotiator in the difficult days here. President Obasanjo was critical in the management of the conflict and President Buhari followed on in that capacity and he is still doing a lot for peace in West Africa as Chairman of ECOWAS.
“So, it is a fitting and proper honour done to him and by extension to all of us in Nigeria. Because, somethings Nigerians wonder why we do so much in the subregion and Africa without getting much in return. Return comes in various forms and recognizing with the highest honour in the land shows how grateful the Liberians are in the role Nigeria continues to play in the country.
Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe said, the honour is for President Buhari and Nigeria considering the role he is playing in the west Africa subregion and the continent.
He said the award shows how much respect the President commands from his counterparts in the region.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said award is in recognition of all the country has done to help Liberia.
“This country with the longest history of independence but couldn’t hold together and was helped majorly by Nigeria, with everything we had, our armed forces, resources in other to help them to remain as one united people.
“It is also in recognition of Nigeria’s support for Liberia to rebuild. He has offered 50 technical aid corp to Nigeria and has promised many more in case there is need.”
Palestinian Death Toll in Gaza Rises to 29,195 Amid Israeli Attacks
The death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 29,195 with 69,170 others wounded as the Israeli attacks continue, The Gaza-based Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
The Israeli army had killed 103 Palestinians and wounded 142 others in the Strip during the past 24 hours, the ministry said in a press statement.
It was noted that some victims remained under the rubble amid heavy bombardment and a lack of civil defence and ambulance crews.
Meanwhile, Israeli media outlets said the Israeli army forces were continuing their operations in the north centre and south of the Gaza Strip against Hamas, and have killed many fighters.
The Israeli army announced the death of a 22-year-old soldier as a result of his wounds in the Gaza battles.
The death of the 22-year-old soldier raised the death toll of Israeli soldiers killed in the ground operation to 236.
In addition, the Israeli army revealed a video of Israeli detainees alive in the first days of their detention in the Gaza Strip on Monday.
The video was showing a woman and her two children wrapped in a blanket, taken by gunmen in Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the family had been kidnapped by an organization calling itself the “Mujahideen Brigades.” (Xinhua/NAN)
Namibian President’s Death a Great Loss to Citizens, Africa, the World —Envoy
Namibia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Humphrey Geiseb has eulogised the country’s late President Hage Geingob, describing his death as a great loss to the country, Africa, and the world.
Geiseb made this known during a memorial church service in honour of Geingob, held at the Catholic Church of Assumption in Abuja, on Monday.
According to him, a lot of lessons can be learned from the life of the late president, who was a champion for a better life for disadvantaged persons in Namibia.
Geiseb said: “His death is a great loss to Namibians, Africans and the whole world; we have lost a visionary leader as president and one who was a champion of many causes.
“He championed the cause of the poor, unemployed, elderly women and made sure there was an improvement in the number of women represented in the cabinet, as well as parliament during his tenure.
“President Geingob was an advocate of the less powerful in the society, through his labour he made sure that those who were less powerful were catered for and also mainstreamed in governance.”
He added that the late president was a good leader, noting that the quantum of condolence messages, which he received from Nigerians were a reflection of his goodness to the people.
Amb. John Shinkaiye, who paid tribute on behalf of the Association of Retired Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) described Geingob as a Pan-Africanist.
“We pay tribute to the late president and mourn his passing with his family, Africa, the Commonwealth and other organisations in which he played outstanding roles.
“We pray his family be comforted and his departure will be honoured by the continuation of a peaceful and vibrant Namibia.”
Amb. Poscaline Vokiwuge Gerengbo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who paid tribute on behalf of the Group of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ambassadors, said Geingob lived a life worthy of emulation.
“On behalf of SADC Ambassadors in Abuja, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and people of Namibia.
“May you find comfort during this difficult time; our presence here is in admiration of a man who gave up his lifetime dedicated to his country and continent at large,” Gerengbo said.
Also speaking, Amb. Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, described Geingob as a brother, confidant and passionate African, who was fearless, confident and engaging.
“His sense of statesmanship was similar to leaders like Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and all those great men and women on whose shoulders we stand today.
“He was an outstanding visionary, who saw the transition of his country from an oppressive apartheid regime to embrace ethnic diversity and create room for younger people to share in the vision of Namibia.
“There are not less than 50 Namibians in Nigeria, while there are not less than 3000 Nigerians in Namibia,” Gambari said.
The event, which was officiated by Rev. Fr. Stephen Omale, members of the diplomatic community, attracted former governors and top government officials, as well as the Namibian community in Nigeria.
Reports says that the late President Geingob died on February 4 at the age of 82. (NAN)
U.S. Senate Approves Ukraine Aid Package
The U.S. Senate has approved a 95.3 billion dollar aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after many weeks of negotiations.
The bill has passed 70 to 29 in the Democratic-led chamber.
However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is far from certain, as former president and 2024 frontrunner Donald Trump had urged Republicans to avoid passing legislation.
Trump said that this would give President Joe Biden a chance to claim a legislative victory.
The two politicians are likely to battle for the presidency, once again in November.
The United States has considered Ukraine’s most important ally in the defence against the Russian invasion, since the start of the war in February 2022.
The Biden administration has provided or pledged military aid totalling more than 44 billion dollars for Kiev.
The aid package passed by the Senate includes around 60 billion dollars in aid for Ukraine, the majority of which is earmarked for military support.
This was roughly the amount that Biden had originally requested.
The draft also includes 14 billion dollars for Israel as well as billions in aid for Taiwan and other partners in the Indo-Pacific. (dpa/NAN)
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