Nigeria spent $13bn on liberation of S/Leone, Liberia – Envoy

High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, Dr. Solomon Gembeh

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

The High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, Dr. Solomon Gembeh has said that Nigeria spent over $13 billion on the liberation of his country and Liberia, saying that Sierra Leone will never forget the big brother role played by Nigeria in the wars that had engulfed the two countries.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, on Sunday, Gembeh said that the role played and was still being played by Nigeria had outweighed the support it received from Western nations.

He stressed that Nigeria’s help came out of goodwill, with nothing demanded in return, rather than a situation where such assistance was paid through the staking of national assets.

“Nigeria spent about $13 billion in Sierra Leone and Liberia during the war years, what happened to those monies that you spent on us? You just shook hands with the government and walked away; that is what brothers do.

“What the west would have done, will be to ask us to pay that money in getting concessions, oil rights and all those kind of stuffs.

“So, when you are talking about the help that the African Development Bank and all these institutions have done for Sierra Leone, you look at what Nigeria has done for us. You look at what the west claimed to have done for Sierra Leone over the years, I think Nigeria is a true big brother to us”, Gembeh said.

The High Commissioner pointed out that beyond the huge amount spent, Nigeria had continued to render assistance to his nation in the area of education which, he noted, had experienced some decay along the way.

He said that with Nigeria’s assistance and a focus by the current administration of President Julius Bio, education in his country was gradually being revamped.

Gembeh said that funds from Nigeria and the African Development Bank (AfDB) were effectively being utilised in educating its populace, especially the girl child.

“We have a very dynamic, young minister of primary and secondary education in the person of Dr. Moinas, who is a product of MIT in the United States of America, action packed and ready to go.

“He has been using those funds by putting emphasis on the girl child in particular, making sure that everywhere in the country there was primary education, of course it is free.

“We provide what we enjoyed when we were in primary school, we enjoyed lunch served, you have free buses to take you to school, you eat there and there are teachers everywhere.

“People are beginning to get computers, trying to get Internet services all over the schools, places that are hard to reach you make sure that they don’t walk so many miles to go to school,” he said.

He pointed out that when the war broke out in Sierra Leone, it created a situation for decay in education with a whole generation losing 10 years, but that the nation was now training a new generation and inculcating new values into them so that those values can take the nation to where it ought to be.

“It is not going to be easy to see the end result of these educational interventions from these institutions and we are hopeful for the funds that Nigeria is still owing.

“Nigeria granted some funds for us and those things are still in the pipeline, perhaps those are areas that we might want to revisit as time goes on. Either way, Nigeria is our big brother, you have helped us greatly, even in this course that I just presented a lecture, it is sponsored by Nigeria.

“So, as far as the help that you guys have given us is incalculable, it is too much to quantify,” he said.