Home Economy UNDP Resident Rep. Bids Farewell …Outlines Multiple Gains Here

UNDP Resident Rep. Bids Farewell …Outlines Multiple Gains Here

by newsmanager

H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: The Resident Representative of the United Nation Development Program, Stephen Rodriques, has bid Farewell to Liberia, after two (2) years of services.

In his farewell note to the country, Mr. Stephen Rodriques said that he wasn`t sent to Liberia, but decided to come partly because of his roots –the people of the Caribbean (Jamaica).

“The love of Liberia brought me here; the love of the Liberian people brought me here: the love of Africa brought me here. But now, it is almost time to bid farewell to this country that I have called home for the past few years,” he noted.

Representative Stephen Rodriques: “I came to Liberia just over two years ago. The truth is, I wasn’t sent here; I chose to come. I came partly because of my own roots – the people of the Caribbean (I am a Jamaican). I came as a slave from West Africa.

He explained that some of those people came back to West Africa later either as freed slaves or maroons. And they kept coming throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

He said from the moment he landed in Liberia, he felt at home, noting, that it is hard to describe the feeling you get when everywhere you turn the people you see look like your aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters.
“It was just like what the Jamaican singer, Beres Hammond, said in one of his songs, “Everyone … is like family,” he noted.
The outgoing UNDP envoy disclosed that he also came to Liberia, because he wanted to contribute to the development of the country.
”I wanted to roll up my sleeves and work alongside the people of this country and see if we could, together, make some progress,” Mr. Rodriques said.
According to him, over the past years, he worked very closely with the government and with so many partners; and felt a special trust and a willingness to embrace his ideas that were unlike anything, he could imagine.

He explained that he was fortunate to develop a close relationship with President George Weah, describing him, as a man with a very large, kind heart.
Mr. Rodriques: “I will always remember some of our conversations and the stories he told me about the country he saw 20-plus years ago and the country he is trying to build. I was also able to work closely with his advisors, with many Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and other government officials.”
“I also enjoyed an excellent relationship with both the former and the current Chief Justice (and I am so proud to see a woman in this position!), He explained.
The UNDP official also praised his time with other development partners, to include: the United Nations and members of the NGO community that according to him, he has been in the trenches with, collectively pushing forward in the interest of Liberia.
“And, of course, my own wonderful team in UNDP! I have been blessed by the friendships, the partnerships, and the support of so many people! I wish, before I go, to see each one of you, to say thanks, and to give you one last embrace, for now,” he said.
He said, during his stay, he had the opportunity to visit much of the country, from East to West, North to South, and sit with people in their communities, discussing their needs and how the UN, could better partner with them to realize their hopes for a better Liberia.
The UNDP representative named the progress on decentralization and the passage of the new Revenue Sharing Law that will allow more revenues collected in the regions to remain there and be used for local development, as some of their achievements while in Liberia.
“There is our new Accelerated Community Development Programme which was launched by the President to improve the welfare of people living in poverty,” he revealed.
He mentioned that with the Ministry of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), the UNDP started a new livelihood and job creation programme that is nurturing hundreds of Liberian entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized companies.
Stephen Rodriques: With the EPA and Ministry of Mines and Energy, we initiated two multi-million-dollar coastal protection program to protect residents in West Point and Sinoe from coastal erosion.
He disclosed that the UNDP supported the National Elections Commission to conduct the 2020 senatorial elections and prepared for this year’s Presidential and General elections.
“We’ve been working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on sustaining the peace through reconciliation, using the Palava Hut hearings and memorialization of those who were killed during the civil war,” he noted.
In the justice and rule of law sector, he recalled how the UNDP, during his stay as country representative, helped in training police, magistrates, and correctional officers, and handed over new courts and facilities to the police and judiciary.
He explained that they (UNDP) also supported many new laws, including the development of a new Prisons Act aimed at giving semi-autonomous status to the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Law to introduce measures that will reduce case backlog and prisons overcrowding; the Legal Aid Act to improve legal aid to indigent Liberians; the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Act of 2022, providing for institutional independence by granting the LACC direct prosecutorial powers; and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) policy, among other things.
With the Supreme Court, he noted, that they (UNDP) launched an electronic case management system to expedite judicial case management and supported the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and UNFPA in managing payments to over 16,000 census enumerators as well as countless vendors throughout the census period to help make Liberia’s 2022 Census possible. And there is more.
The UNDP outgoing official has however revealed that there are also some unfinished businesses as he departs, mentioning the 30% gender quota for women’s political candidates.
“I would love to see Liberia, Africa’s first Republic and first country with a woman President, take a bold step and go to the very front of countries that are implementing gender equality and women’s empowerment, there is also more to be done to strengthen capacity in government, enhance accountability, and deepen focus on the key drivers of growth and development,” he maintained.
He said, he would have loved to stay and continue this work in Liberia, but said, he has faith in the people of Liberia to pursue what is right for them and their country.
“So, I will watch and cheer from afar as this country continues to grow and develop,” he said.
He noted that he will forever remain deeply grateful for how warmly both the government and the Liberian people welcomed and treated him over the years.
“I will carry a special memory of sitting with the President at the Jamaica Resort, both of us listening to and chanting reggae music, feeling right at home, before discussing business; thank you, your Excellency, for the warm friendship. You and your people have been kind and warm to me. I will never forget it. I wish you, your government, and all Liberians the very best for the future. Wherever I am, I will always love and remember Liberia, and I will always be a friend you can call on,” he said.

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