(ABUJA, NIGERIA – Thursday, February 27, 2014) Addressing aconference Thursday in celebration of Nigeria’s centenary amalgamation, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf observed that the winds of solidarity, cooperation and the pursuit of integration blow strong among all African nations, and that tomorrow, perhaps the dream of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah for political union will come true.
According to a dispatch from Abuja, the theme of the one-day Summit, hosted by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria, was “Human Security, Peace and Development, and brought together leaders from all over Africa, as well as international and regional organizations and development partners. President Sirleaf was invited to make a presentation on “Human Security and National Reconciliation: The Liberian Experience.”
In addition to a keynote address by President Jonathan, setting out the human security and development agenda for Africa in the 21st century, the Summit heard goodwill messages by visiting Heads of State, Government and Heads of Delegations.
Explaining the conference, Nigerian officials pointed out that the commitment and contributions of Nigeria to peace in Africa and around the world are widely acknowledged. It is in that spirit that the country seized the opportunity of the centenary celebrations to hold a one-day Summit-level international conference, whose theme is premised on the fact that human security engenders solidarity among people and also ensures peaceful co-existence, unity and social cohesion which are the bedrock of sustainable development of nations. The conference also sought to reaffirm Nigeria’s and Africa’s commitment to global human security, peace and development; highlight the importance of a continental and global agenda for peace and human security for the 21st century; and to seek global support for the agenda.
In her presentation, President Sirleaf told the gathering of Nigerians and global leaders that Liberia’s peace and prosperity is intertwined with that of all African countries, particularly those in the West African sub-region. She indicated that this is why Liberians applaud the tremendous effort Nigeria is making to contain the conflict in Nigeria, and, through significant contribution, the conflict in several others throughout the region.
“Today, our continent ranks high on the perception ladder of potentially successful transformation, made possible by the support of our regional institutions, underpinned by the African Union, which continues to place peace and security as top priorities,” the Liberian President stated. Liberia has come a long way, she said, yet has a longer way to go, but the future is bright, full of promise because the Liberian people, walking away from the terror of the past, have made it so.
In the interest of creating a free, fair and open society, she said she has striven to have an inclusive government – one that is courageous enough to include people from all parties, all counties, all religions, even those who have maligned her. She said this is in line with her policy to create an environment where all Liberians are assured of their right to own and enjoy the benefits of their homeland.
Central to the provision of human security and national reconciliation, President Sirleaf said, is transparency in the utility of the country’s natural and God-given resources. To this end, she said Liberia signed on to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and partnered with Resource Watch to improve transparency and accountability in mining, agriculture, forestry and nascent oil sectors, going beyond the required to include forestry and agriculture to ensure that revenues generated from the natural resources can bring more benefits to all citizens.
According to the Liberian leader, also central to national reconciliation in Liberia is the National “Palava Hut” Program, not unlike the Gacaca in Rwanda, a traditional and cultural conflict resolution mechanism common in rural Liberia, which were launched in October last year. She said Palava Hut Talks, in the form of community-based truth-telling, atonement and psychological recovery, and will provide victims and perpetrators a safe space to tell their stories and seek means of fostering national peace and reconciliation. Also, an Independent National Commission on Human Rights is overseeing the process and coordinating its activities, the President said.
“We have challenged the Commission, traditional and religious leaders, the Liberian Council of Churches, the Muslim Council, political parties, civil society and all Liberians to fully participate and support the National Palava Hut Program, in order to ensure lasting peace and harmony,” President Sirleaf said.
Arriving at the Nandi Azikewe International Airport in Abuja on Wednesday, President Sirleaf and delegation and were received by high-ranking officials, and by Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Al-Hassan Conteh, and Liberian Embassy staff.
Mr. Jerolinmek Matthew Piah
Presidential Press Secretary/Office of the President
Department of Public Affairs
Republic of Liberia