Liberians from various states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the weekend converged on Lagos as a major step towards forming a national union that will comprise of all the various chapters of Liberian communities.
According to a dispatch, over 70 delegates representing eight states participated in what was dubbed the “All Liberians Conference 2016”. Participating delegates joined their compatriots in Lagos from the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, and the States of Niger, Kaduna and Plateau, referred to as the Northern Group. Others came from Oyo and Ogun States which together with Lagos are referred to as the Western Group. Liberians in Enugu State referred to as the Eastern Group also attended.
Some prominent Liberians graced the three-day national conference which was held at the Ibis Hotel Royale in Ajao Estate, Airport Road in the commercial capital from February 26th to 28th, 2016. Mrs. Beatrice N. Sherman, Counselor/Counsel of the Liberian Embassy in Abuja represented Prof. Al-Hassan Conteh, Liberian Ambassador accredited to Nigeria.
Mr. Nat Bayjay, Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the Liberian Embassy also attended as an observer. Also gracing the opening session was Ambassador Dew Mayson who congratulated his compatriots for the unity shown.
The host of the conference, Chief Cliff Nzeruem, former Honorary Consul of Liberia and current Protocol Attaché of the Embassy of Liberia in Lagos was also on hand to inspire the occasion. At the Lagos Conference, the Liberians, among several decisions, unanimously elected an interim leadership that will take the umbrella organization to elections following the drafting of a constitution.
Mr. Hilton Blay of the Lagos Chapter was maintained as the chair for the interim team. Mr. Francis James of the Plateau Chapter and Mr. Lawrence Chea of the Enugu Chapter are First and Second Vice-Chairs respectively.
Mr. Dauda Kanneh of the Niger State Chapter is the Secretary-General. Ms. Fatu Thomas of the Lagos Chapter and Ms. Miatta Hagans of the Kaduna Chapter are Financial Secretary and Treasurer respectively. According to the dispatch, the interim leadership will serve up to June after which elections will be held.
The dispatch however adds that the leadership appointed Cllr. Boakai E. Harvey from the Abuja Chapter to head a constitution committee. Cllr. Harvey will be assisted by Mr. Elijah Komontey Gbarweay of theLagos State, Mr. Derrick D. Chea of Plateau State, and Mr. Levi Papu Kangar of Enugu State.
During the conference, Mrs. Sherman on behalf of the Ambassador expressed delight over the manner in which Liberians in Nigeria took the decision to form an umbrella organization. According to her, Ambassador Conteh was very pleased in the initiative and promised the Embassy’s fullest support.
Chief Cliff, for his part, noted the significance of the conference which he termed as a history-in-the-making initiative. While lauding the initial steps, he urged all Liberians residing in Nigeria to foster unity. He then pledged his continuous support to the Liberian Community in Nigeria.
The Lagos Conference was held a week after the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf met and held talks with the Liberian Community in Abuja. The Liberian Leader, at the time, expressed her delight about the unity of Liberians in Nigeria. She welcomed their request for application of ECOWAS Biometric Passports in Nigeria. President Sirleaf also used her meeting with the Liberians at the time to stress the creation of a data base of all Liberians in the Diaspora, while promising to forward to the National Elections Commission (NEC) their request for Diaspora voting.