Outgoing African Union Commission or AUC’s Ambassador to Liberia, Harrison Oluwatoyin Solaja, has warned Liberians that no amount of disagreement and dissatisfaction should ever lead them to war again.
He gave the warning on Monday, 21 December during an investiture ceremony held in his honor by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her officials in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
Amb. Solaja says it is his sincerest hope and wishes that holding of successful elections in 2017 through transparent and democratic governance processes would serve as threshold of a transitioned Liberia from post-conflict situation to a full-fledged democratic country.
In his urge for Liberians to maintain the peace fought for after several years of civil war, the AUC envoy cautioned that “no amount of challenges, disagreement, displeasure or dissatisfaction should ever lead this country again to war.”
He recalled how upon resuming office here as Special Representative of the Secretary General around the elections in October 2011, he “witnessed the violence that broke out during the period” to the extent he had to strategically “sneak into Madam President’s convoy” after presenting his letter of credence.
The AU envoy therefore reminded President Sirleaf and her government and the citizenry that challenges make life interesting, but overcoming them makes life meaningful. “The past cannot be changed but the future can be molded into any shape or form of your wish. That future lies in the hands of the Presidency, the Legislature, the Judiciary and every Liberian lover of peace,” he stressed.
In response, President Sirleaf assured Amb. Solaja that Liberia remains thankful to him and the AU for the significant role played in containing the Ebola disease that killed over 4,000 citizens when Liberian nurses abandoned duty out of fear for the disease.
She said professional African medical personnel were deployed in the country and they rendered voluntary services during the crisis, while Mr. Solaja was equally on the ground working with her government in an effort to contain the crisis.
President Sirleaf said Liberia will always remember the contributions of Amb. Solaja and the AU, and wished him blessing to his next journey. Acting Liberian Foreign Minister, Elias Shoniyin, earlier recalled the numerous work done by Amb. Solaja, and the role of the AU, including the deployment of 350 volunteers.
He also reflected on the training of about 2,500 Liberians by the AU, and promotion of awareness messages, among others. In the citation read, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the AU invested a total of $37.5 million dollars in Liberia in the fight against Ebola.
During the investiture, the Government of Liberia gowned Amb. Solaja as Chief Bonu Musa Kamara of Kwanu Gboni District, Lofa County, while government ministries and agencies presented him Liberian made gifts in appreciation of his tour of duty here.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne