President Muhammadu Buhari visits Liberia, saying free, transparent and credible elections are indispensable to peace and stability in West Africa
Abubakar Hashim/ Monrovia
President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, 26 July 2022, in Monrovia, Liberia called on leaders in West Africa to do all within their powers to ensure that elections are conducted in their countries in an atmosphere of trust, freedom and transparency, as this is the only way the sub-region can be insulated from the scourge of unconstitutional takeovers that reared its head recently in three countries in the region, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
President Buhari made this call in a goodwill message to the Government and People of Liberia as he joined other world leaders on the occasion of the 175th Independence Anniversary of the West African nation.
According to the President, democracy and good governance must take their roots in the African continent to sustain peace, stability and development while leaders must redouble their efforts to guarantee the irreversibility of democracy.
“I would like to use the opportunity of this event to address an important issue affecting three countries in the ECOWAS region; Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“All the three nations have National Elections in 2023. In Nigeria, we are working towards a free, fair, transparent, credible and acceptable outcome of elections and their results, it is important and necessary for all our countries to key into these resolves as they are indispensable to peace and stability in our countries and sub-region.
“The deepening of democracy and good governance are essential antidotes to check-mate unconstitutional change of governments as we sadly witnessed within the last three years in three countries within our sub-region. We must strengthen our efforts to guarantee the irreversibility of democracy in our sub-region and Africa,” he said.
President Buhari used the opportunity to recall Nigeria’s leading roles that pulled the country back from its fratricidal insurrection in the 90s, adding that his presence at the celebrations underscores his strong belief in cementing existing bilateral ties:
“Nigeria’s contributions to the survival and safety of Liberia are well known. The dark period of your country’s civil war from 1989 to 1997, was a period that Nigeria invested hugely for peace in Liberia and indeed stability in the rest of the ECOWAS sub-region. May those dark days never re-surface in our countries and sub-region.”
The Nigerian leader commended his Liberian counterpart, Dr George Manneh Weah, for his demonstration of love for the country and the pursuance of peace, unity and progress, as evidenced by people-oriented projects executed with the sole purpose of taking the country to greater heights within the limited resources available. While urging the Liberian leader to do more, he assured him of Nigeria’s continued support in this regard:
“Your Excellency’s policy of development launched in 2018 as well as the recently launched youth empowerment program, targeted at comprehensively addressing the problems of youth restiveness in Liberia and equally aimed at rescuing the disadvantaged youths (ZOGOS in local parlance) from drug addictions and other forms of social vices and transforming them into useful members of the Liberian society, are very appropriate policies to lift the most vulnerable.
“Permit me to assure you and all Liberians that Nigeria, as a good partner and a dependable ally, would continue to support you in these efforts, within the limit of our resources. This brings to the fore, the need for strengthening and broadening the levels of collaboration and cooperation between our two countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally, within the ECOWAS, AU and the UN, to adequately tackle the common national, sub-regional and global challenges.”
The President of Liberia, Dr George Weah, thanked President Buhari and other West African leaders for their attendance and to our President in particular, “thank you Mr President and the good people of Nigeria. Without your support, we would not have had peace.”
Liberia began in the early 19th century as a project of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States. Between 1822 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, more than 15,000 freed and free-born black people who faced social and legal oppression in the U.S., along with 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to Liberia.
Gradually developing an “Americo-Liberian” identity, the settlers carried their culture and tradition with them; the Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the U.S., while its capital was named after ACS supporter and U.S. President James Monroe. Liberia declared independence on July 26, 1847, which the U.S. did not recognize until February 5, 1862. On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born African American from the U.S. state of Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected Liberia’s first president after the people proclaimed independence.
Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence and is Africa’s first and oldest modern republic. It was among the few African countries to maintain its sovereignty during the Scramble for Africa.