A careered African Diplomat and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Harrison Oluwatoyin Solaja, has called for the formation of an “Association of Retired Liberian Ambassadors.”
Ambassador Solaja said this association could serve as a think-tank and a consulting firm on diplomacy and international affairs. His call was contained in remarks he delivered recently at the sixth Ambassadorial Lecture Forum of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
A Foreign Ministry release says Amb. Solaja lectured on the theme, “Regional Integration: Prospects for a Better Liberia.” Paying special tribute to the honoree of the day, veteran Liberian diplomat E. Sumo Jones, he urged the Liberian government to give recognition to careered ambassadors after their service to the nation.
According to him, diplomats, like careered military officers, are an expensive investment by any nation benefiting from various professional training thereby becoming a repository of knowledge and experience as they face retirement.
Commenting on protocol services, he stressed that Liberian protocol officers need training opportunities to be more effective on their duties and responsibilities. While congratulating the honoree for his landmark achievements in public service, the AU Diplomat wished for Ambassador Jones all the best in his endeavors as Liberia transitions from peace building stage to the state-building phase.
He urged Liberia never to return to civil conflict, but to reinforce the prudent mechanism of conflict prevention, upholding the rule of law and calling for the enhancement of regional integration especially within the context of the Mano River Union, ECOWAS, and the African Union
Speaking earlier, Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, thanked the Director General of the Foreign Service Institute, Dr. Augustine Konneh and instructors for preparing young diplomat trainees to serve their nation.
He noted, “Service to your country is good, but the key is wherever you are, whether you are in Grand Gedeh, whether you are in Nimba, no matter what you do, be a good diplomat, a representative for Liberia.”
“We will try within the scope of available resources, to ensure that your dream of entering the Foreign Service will come to past. In the interim, what will you be doing with the education that these professors have inculcated in you? Would you allow your education to waste? Can you only be good diplomats in London or Washington D.C.? Be good diplomats in Monrovia first,” Minister Ngafuan urged the prospective graduates of the Institute.
He further told them to be good diplomats on Broad Street, emulating good examples by doing things for Liberia, and by refusing to do certain things against the nation. For her part, former Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele expressed delight over the ceremony as she paid special tribute to the honoree for his dedicated service to the nation especially during his tenure as Liberia’s Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea where he ably represented Liberia in that sisterly country during which time Madam King-Akerele was in charge as Foreign Minister.
She hailed his role in cementing Liberia-Guinea relations and for his numerous support and guidance to the development diplomat training programs in which he helped to nurture some of its trainees at the Liberian Embassy, near Conakry.
Dr. Augustine Konneh, Director-General of the Foreign Service Institute, who gave an overview of the Forum, expressed gratitude and appreciation to Madam King-Akerele for endorsing the launch of the Ambassadorial Lecture Forum at the G. L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute.
While applauding Foreign Minister Ngafuan for the support to the institute, Dr. Konneh asserted that the Forum is a discourse that gives recognition to one of Liberia’s former Ambassadors, who has distinguished himself or herself in the discharge of his or her duty while in service.
According to him, the Lecture Forum is also intended to enable an experienced Ambassador to share his or her thoughts with new breed of Liberian diplomat trainees, who are being prepared to enter the Foreign Service
He praised Ambassador E. Sumo Jones for distinguishing himself as a public servant and a careered diplomat. In his brief remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Jones applauded Foreign Minister Ngafuan and the Director General of the institute for the honor bestowed upon him; he also added that the honor came as a great surprise to him, stating that Liberia’s public officials are usually forgotten about after retirement.
He particularly applauded former Liberian Foreign Minister King-Akerele for the recognition and support he received as Ambassador to Guinea, especially during her administration as Foreign Minister. He further admonished the young trainees or graduates to take their career seriously, saying, “Anything you wish to do in life, you should put in all your efforts, and do it with dedication, commitment and perseverance.” He also stressed that hard work; discipline and loyalty are the hallmark of a careered diplomat.
He hailed Madam Akerele and Minister Ngafuan for the support and interest in running the institute, particularly the grooming of young Liberian development diplomats who will take on the Liberian diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry release said.