Full Text Of President Weah’s Armed Forces Day Message…

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REMARKS

BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA

AND

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

OF THE ARMED FORCES OF LIBERIA

ON THE OCCASION OF THE

CELEBRATION OF THE 63rd ARMED FORCES DAY

BARCLAY TRAINING CENTER

MONROVIA, LIBERIA

11 FEBRUARY 2020

Madam Clar Marie Weah, First Lady of the Republic of Liberia;

Madam Vice President and President of the Senate;

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives;

Mr. President Pro-Tempore and Members of the Liberian Senate;

Your Honor the Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Members of the Judiciary;

The Dean and Members of the Cabinet;

Other Officials of Government Officials here present;

Our Distinguished Guest Speaker;

The Doyen, Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;

The Chief of Staff, Officers, and Men and Women of the Armed Forces of Liberia;

Former Officials of Government;

Traditional Leaders, Chiefs and Elders;

Political and Business Leaders;

Religious Leaders;

Members of the Fourth Estate;

My Fellow Liberians;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

On January 26, 1957, the Liberian Legislature passed into law an Act establishing February 11 each year as Armed Forces Day, to be celebrated as a holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

Today, we are assembled here to observe the 63rd Armed Forces Day, and to recognize and appreciate the dedicated service and sacrifices of the gallant men and women serving in the Armed Forces of Liberia.

I congratulate Major General Prince C. Johnson III, Chief of Staff, and all Officers and Members of the AFL, and I salute you.

I also would like to extend similar commendations, recognition, and gratitude to the Liberian National Police, the National Immigration Services, our Fire Service, and all Para-Military service men and women. We are proud of you, and are grateful for the services you continue to render to our Country.

Permit me now to extend my Government’s appreciation to all of our foreign guests and dignitaries who have traveled from far and wide to attend these ceremonies today. We are honored and very appreciative of your presence.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

At this juncture, I would like to ask you to kindly stand and join me to observe a moment of silence for all members of the Armed Forces of Liberia who passed away since the previous Armed Forces Day, especially Brigadier General Rudolf F. Kolaco, who served as Assistant Minister for Coast Guard Affairs.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

May their souls rest in perfect peace, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Thank you. Please be seated.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

We must thank the Guest Speaker, Madam Mary T. Broh, for the splendid speech delivered. Her commitment to public service is well-known, and is based on a deep patriotism and love for Country. Madam Broh’s in-depth understanding and commitment to women and gender issues made her best-suited to serve as this year’s Guest Speaker, given the theme of this year’s Armed Forces Day.

Mary, we recognize your good judgments and recommendations in connection with ways to increase female participation in the AFL and in other security sectors. This has given us much food for thought, and we have taken due note of them. Thank you!

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

As we celebrate this day, our nation stands proud of the many contributions of the Liberian Military to peace and security, both at home and abroad

However, we recognize that there have been many challenges in the past twelve (12) months; challenges with housing, welfare, logistics, compulsory savings, and other issues.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have been personally engaged in the search for lasting solutions to these challenges. I have visited the military base where, incidentally, I once lived with my uncle, Robert Bobowleh Wulateh Wreh, and have engaged in direct dialogues with the officers and men and women in arms, with the aim of hearing from them, in an open forum, about their concerns and needs.

As a result of these and other interactions with members of the military at various levels, many of these concerns are now being addressed.

For example, we have begun the renovation of existing military barracks to facilitate de-congestion of the current facilities. Additionally, we will seek further support from Government to modernize and expand the barracks with paved roads and proper sports and recreational facilities.

On a lighter note, during one of these visits, the military invited the Cabinet, to play a friendly football match, thinking perhaps that they could their military tactics to the soccer pitch for an easy win. However, they failed to reckon with the fact that the Captain of the Cabinet team was Africa’s first and only Ballon d’Or winner, and they paid for that mistake with a 3 – 0 loss.

We have also deployed new equipment and hardware, such as armored personal carriers, to give our military personnel protected and efficient mobility.

On the medical front, you will recall that, two years ago, in my first Armed Forces Day address, I announced the construction of a Military Hospital, to be the first of its kind in our history that would focus on the special medical needs of our soldiers, as well as their families, both at home and abroad.

Yesterday, we completed our final inspection of the hospital, which was most satisfactory. And so I am pleased to inform you today that the 14 Military Hospital is nearing completion, and will soon be dedicated and fully operational, to cater to the critical health needs of our servicemen and women and their families, as well as the citizens living in nearby communities.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

My Government remains focused on the development of the agriculture sector as a tool of economic transformation and poverty reduction. In this regard, it is my intention to have the Armed Forces of Liberia actively collaborate in this process.

I therefore hereby instruct the Minister of National Defense and the Chief of Staff of the AFL to begin the immediate development of a policy framework for the re-activation of the Armed Forces Agriculture Company. This should also include the identification and assessment of all lands belonging to the Armed Forces of Liberia, that are arable and feasible for agriculture productivity.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The welfare of our troops remains a priority of this Government, and in this regard we feel a duty and an obligation to ensure that the children of military families receive a quality education.

I therefore hereby direct the Minister of Defense, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to work out modalities for the immediate renovation of all schools within our military barracks, and to develop the necessary plans to consolidate these schools under a single district, to be named the “Armed Forces of Liberia School District”.

Under these arrangements, qualified administrators and instructors will be provided and supervised by the Ministry of Defense, and monitored by the Ministry of Education.

We will continue to engage our bilateral partners to support our efforts in the revitalization of the new Agriculture Company, and the consolidation of our military schools.

We are proud of the versatility of our Armed Forces, and the diversity of skill sets and capabilities to be found among its membership. Through the Army Corps of Engineers, they have participated in civil works of all kinds, including the construction of their own barracks, as well as the 14 Military Hospital. They have launched massive clean-up campaigns across the length and breadth of our country. And they are now going to be actively involved in our agricultural programs.

Let me assure you that my Government will remain committed to providing the necessary support to ensure that the Armed Forces of Liberia remain “An Effective Force for Good”.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Each Armed Forces Day is celebrated under a theme carefully selected to align future training needs and requirements of the AFL. The theme for this year’s celebration, “Strategies to Incorporate More Females in the Security Sector; AFL in Perspective”, coincides with our Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda with regards to women empowerment.

Female representation in both public and private sectors of our country is very low, and the AFL is no exception. Indeed, this is reflective of the global situation, where women representation in government and the private sector is also low, with but a very few exceptions.

As Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief, I have set my Government on an irreversible path to break this glass ceiling. We have made more appointments of women in leadership in our Government than ever before, including the first female Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL, and promise to do more in the coming years.

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

At every celebration of Armed Forces Day, we recognize and award the “Distinguished Service Order” (DSO) to individuals whose outstanding contributions positively impact the growth and development of the Armed Forces of Liberia, our Nation and humanity. As Commander-in-Chief, AFL, it is my pleasing duty to duly recognize and congratulate this year’s Distinguished Service Order Award recipients:

1. Lieutenant General Obed Bomah Akwa, Chief of the Defense Staff of Ghana;

2. Lieutenant General Lassina Doumbia, Chief of Defense Staff of Cote d’Ivoire;

3. Lieutenant General Namory Traore, Chief of Defense Staff of Guinea;

4. Lieutenant General Brima Sesay, Chief of Defense Staff of Sierra Leone;

5. Colonel Ebenezer O. Oduyebo of the Nigerian Army;

6. Colonel Wasiu Adesola Bakare of the Nigerian Army;

7. Lieutenant Colonel Eromosele Christian Lawani of the Nigerian Army;

8. Lieutenant Colonel Issahaku Beyotiem Mohammed of the Ghana Armed Forces;

9. Lieutenant Colonel Momoh Sellu of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces;

10. His Honor Philip A. Z. Banks, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia; and

11. Madam Mary T. Broh, Director General, General Services Agency.

By your invaluable services rendered the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberian nation in general, you have brought honor and credibility to yourselves, your families, and your respective countries. Congratulations!

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

I want to express thanks and appreciation to our partners; the Governments of the United States Government, the People’s Republic of China, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Ghana, and the Arab Republic of Egypt for their continuous support to the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia.

We also express our gratitude to our military partners, the ECOWAS Advisory Training Team. The mentorship and training that you provide will continue to enhance both the administrative capacities and operational capability of the AFL.

Special thanks also go to our neighbors, the Government of the Republic of Guinea for the support to the AFL MINUSMA operation; and the Government of Cote d’Ivoire for the recent Memorandum of Understand signed with the Armed Forces of Liberia, which is geared towards safeguarding our respective countries.

To our military families, we want to thank you for the support that you give to our servicemen and women while they serve to protect and defend our Nation. By so doing, you continue to demonstrate your love for our country.

To our gallant men and women in arms, we salute you once again, and thank you for your service. Despite the challenges, you have stayed the course, and have remained committed to keeping the peace, as well as building on those gains that we have made over the years.

Happy Armed Forces Day to all!!

I thank you.

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