By: Douglas Farngalo, International freelance Journalist, London, United Kingdom. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44-7802565939 |
Liberia’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Ambassador Gurly Teta Gibson – Schwarz has reminded Liberians residing in the United Kingdom that the Government of President George Manneh Weah cannot carry out national infrastructural and economic development agenda all alone. It solicits Liberian communities worldwide to assist in efforts to improve the lives of Liberians at home.
Addressing audience members in city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire last weekend during a palava hut meeting organized by the Union of Liberian Organizations in the United Kingdom (ULOUK) and the Liberian Embassy, the Liberian envoy said, “our country is now involved in a major reconstruction process that touches on every aspect of infrastructure, including the expansion of the economy through the growth of small and medium-sized businesses, education and healthcare, and developing self-initiatives among our people, as the government realizes that the private sector is a cornerstone of our development strategy”.
She informed Liberians that the administration of President George Manneh Weah has strived to create an enabling environment for peace and stability, a push to renewal, a free press, a functioning democracy with a plurality of political parties, holding of free and fair democratic elections, guarantee of all fundamental human and civil rights, and an independent judiciary.
Reminiscing on Liberia’s recent past, she said, “You are all aware how fourteen years of civil conflicts destroyed our country, damaged our infrastructure, depleted our human resources, and worse, destroyed thousands of lives. Today, our government is implementing a Pro Poor agenda for inclusion and sustainable development to improve the living standard of our people, expand the local economy by boosting foreign direct investments in our economic sectors to expand jobs growth.
As part of plans to make this agenda a reality, my Embassy together with the Government of the United Kingdom have organized the UK/Liberia investment briefing scheduled to be held in London on 5 December 2019. It is our pleasure to invite the Liberian business community in the UK to attend and participate in these deliberations.
Ambassador Gibson – Schwarz asked Liberians in the UK, what’s the future relationship between the Government of Liberia and Liberians residing in the diaspora looks like in terms of the collaboration for achieving a common national objective. She said in her opinion, the answer to that question derives from the theme of the palava hut meeting: “Joint Responsibility for A Common Future for Liberia”.
“This is our time”, she exclaimed. “A time for ULOUK, the embassy, and every Liberian residing in the UK and abroad to develop and set principles and build foundations for the continued development of Liberia.
So tonight, we are here to talk and share ideas as joint partners to this common cause to build on the theme for this gathering, and answer the question, what the future relationship between Liberia and the Liberians Diaspora looks like. Let us talk my people, for me I am ready and able to talk tonight, and we shall talk, and talk, and talk for Liberia”, she declared.
President Weah’s principal representative to the UK welcomed the idea of the palava hut meeting and praised the current leadership of ULOUK for the good job in organizing meeting.
She expressed her thanks and appreciation to all those who took up their time to attend, and hardworking members of ULO-UK for deliberations to move Liberia forward among nations.
Those attending the meeting seized the occasion to advance suggestions about initiatives that would lead to community cohesion and national development. Some of the issues highlighted were, difficulties encountered by Liberians when shipping goods back through the Freeport of Monrovia, strengthening of Liberia’s Educational Sector through volunteer teaching initiatives by returning Liberia, Agriculture, Charity and Liberian businesses.
Some audience members expressed concern about the degree of Inspection and processing of cargo shipped into Liberia through the Freeport of Monrovia, and how the bureaucracy at the Freeport of Monrovia and high tariffs imposed on goods shipped by diaspora-based Liberians are discouraging many them from shipping goods into the country.
They proposed the setting up of an investment forum of Liberian businesses in the diaspora where ideas could be advanced and exchanged for the strengthening of the private sector in the country. Other members of the audience called on the government to increase its priority in the Agricultural sector by investing in the production and cash and food crops to be processed for export and sale on the Liberian market for the purpose of revenue generation.
Welcoming communities across the United Kingdom to Sheffield, the Chairman of the Liberian Organization of Sheffield (LOS), Mr. Johnny T. Kaba, wished those in attendance fruitful discussions of common issues for community and nation building to foster unity and peace among all Liberians.
For his part, the President of ULOUK, Mr. Mohammed Sonnie said he loves to visit the city of Sheffield. He thanked all those in attendance for making it possible to attend. “Please let us be understanding with each other for the course of this meeting. Let us cooperate and let us approach this meeting with an open mind”, he said.
He informed the meeting about the core values of ULOUK and objectives which his administration hopes to achieve in close collaboration with the Liberian Embassy and various local communities in the UK.
“I am pleased to see the palava hut meeting kick off because this is one of our strategic pillows we have planned to implement during the tenure of our leadership. As we draw close to the end of our tenure in 2021, we hope to extend our administration to another two years in order to see our vision become a reality”.
He said, ULOUK wants to see the community come together. This is the main reason for organizing the palava hut meeting which we intend to take hold in every community in the various regions of the UK.
“Our second core value is unity. By congregating together, we regularly get involved in getting to know each other by coming together and sharing common values. If we have a common goal or understanding, we can understand one another better. It difficult for us to fight amongst with each other, because we can appreciate one another’s differences”.
Mr. Sonnie said ULOUK’s third core values are peace and unity. “If we understand one another, our neighbours, our friends and our community, and even our country, it becomes difficult for us to antagonise one another.
Those in attendance included officials of LOS, Executive membership of Liberian Mandingo Association in the UK (LIMAUK), Officials of ULOUK and a cross section of Liberians residing in the UK.
The meeting was organized to discuss the implementation of unity and support, foster community cohesion and make many people aware of the benefits available when they work together with ULOUK, the Liberian Embassy, and many sponsors, including The Pan- African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (PAAMA).