The Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, has lauded the intervention of the Nigerian government which helped to end the civil war which rocked Liberia over 30 years ago.
He also said the Liberian authorities plan to build a memorial park in honour of those who lost their lives during the Liberia civil wars.
Mr Koijee said this during a visit to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday in Abuja.
He was accompanied by the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Commissioner for General Administration and Conferences, Vafolay Tulay, (a Liberian) and two other officials.
The official, who said Nigeria played a pivotal role in ending the bloody conflict, said the park would also document the ‘supreme sacrifice’ nationals of other countries paid to ensure the West African nation navigated the challenging period and peace returned.
The First Liberian Civil War, which claimed over 200,000 lives, and displaced over a million, started as an internal conflict in 1989 but spilled over to 1997.
Countries under the ECOWAS bloc and the United Nations had to intervene to restore peace. But the peace was shortlived as in 1999, the Second Liberian Civil War broke out with massive casualties and destruction.
In August 1990, the 16-member ECOWAS deployed a joint military intervention force, the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), which was led by a Nigerian contingent.
Non-ECOWAS countries, including Uganda and Tanzania, also joined the mission to broker ceasefire and restore stability in that country.
The troops helped establish an interim government, halted the bloodletting and allowed the evacuation of foreign nationals trapped in the conflict.
The Liberian civil wars are regarded as Africa’s bloodiest. During the potracted conflict, children soldiers were used in battles between armed groups. The wars also recorded one of the worst forms of human rights violations .
The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999 and ended in October 2003.
ECOWAS intervened to stop a siege by rebels on Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Relative peace returned when Liberian strongman, Charles Taylor, a major player in the war, was exiled to Nigeria until he was arrested in 2006 and taken to The Hague for trial.
By the end of the final war, more than 250,000 people had been killed and thousands displaced.
Mr Koijee said Nigeria’s leadership role ending the war and assistance in the subsequent rebuilding process would forever be etched in the annals of Liberia.
He also said asides the memorial park, he is pushing for a day to be dedicated by the Liberian government to honour those who died in the war, including Nigerian troops “who fought to protect the lives of Liberian citizens”.
“We plan to set aside a day for those men and women who lost their lives. I am working closely with the (Liberian) President to establish a park in their memory. These are Africans who paid the supreme price. We are keeping our history for generations yet unborn,” Mr Koijee said.
He commended the efforts of Nigerians in Liberia who he said are now contributing to the nation’s economy. He said “they are gradually becoming drivers of our economy”.
He also commended PREMIUM TIMES for the leadership role it has continued to play in the media terrain in Africa, noting that “this was why it was pertinent for his team to pay a visit to its office to brief the newspaper of Liberia’s plans.”
Meanwhile Mr Tulay said ECOWAS has plans is working hard to make the organisation truly a platform for the people of the subregion.
He also said EC0WAS remains a “strong virile body whose operations continue to enjoy admiration by other global bodies including the UN”.
“Although, it is a parliament, leaders recognise themselves as one,” he said. “Decisions are not taken by voting but rather by consensus.”
Earlier, the Editor-in-Chief/Chief Operating Officer, PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed, who welcomed the team, said Liberia and Nigeria shared common traits, “especially having both passed through civil wars and also rebuilt their lives and economies afterwards”.
He said he was in Liberia in 2017 during the inauguration of the nation’s 23rd president, George Weah, and has since “kept tabs on the country’s steady rebuilding process which bore similarities with Nigeria’s”.
He commended the manner in which Liberians were able to navigate the traumatic period to emerge stronger.
He also said since the end of the war, many Liberians have settled in Nigeria and are contributing to the nation’s economy. “As Africans, we are one. The relationship between both countries at present is much deeper than we are at times willing to admit,” the official said.
He added that a considerable number of those who read PREMIUM TIMES are from Liberia. He, however, added that the newspaper was hoping to expand its coverage and readership in Liberia.
“When we look at our metrics periodically, we always discover that we enjoy massive readership from Liberia that at times I wonder what they are reading,” Mr Mojeed said, adding that the newspaper was hoping to leverage on this to build more partnerships with the country.
“The partnerships will help us learn experiences from one another, to see world’s best practices that can be encouraged and to look at what we are doing and how to improve. We will also like to have that kind of relationship with the Government of Liberia and the city of Monrovia,” Mr Mojeed said.
The team was received at PREMIUM TIMES headquarters in Abuja by Mr Mojeed, the paper’ Director of Business Development and Partnerships, Ifeyinwa Uzoka; the Head of Administration, Willie Obasi-Ota and the editor in charge of standards, Tosin Omoniyi.
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