Home Governance Ahead of National Unification Silver Jubilee: Lawmakers, BFF, CSO Partners Hold Consultative Talks

Ahead of National Unification Silver Jubilee: Lawmakers, BFF, CSO Partners Hold Consultative Talks

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MONROVIA: The Organizers of National Unification Day, (NUD), including the Better Future
Foundation (BFF), proponent of Liberia’s Democracy Sustainability Platform (DSP); Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT) of the University of Liberia, Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB), People United for Peace In Liberia, a conglomeration of civil society organizations, under the umbrella of Partners for Democracy and Good Governance (PdG), recently held fruitful consultative roundtable discussions with the National Legislature.

The forum was attended by other organizers of the NUD including Voices of The Elders (VOTE) – Republic of Liberia, the National Muslim Council of Liberia and the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) for Peace.

The roundtable was aimed at providing an update to the 55 the National Legislature on the need to enhance collaborative engagements between CSOs and Government of Liberia in honor of Liberia’s 60 National Unification Day which would be held on Monday, May 13, 2024, in the auditorium of the Capitol Hill main Campus of the University of Liberia.

This year NUD Anniversary Theme: “Reconciling Liberia for the 21st Century: Welfare and Plight of Senior Citizens,” seeks to highlight and facilitate national discussions to aid policy formulation and legislations in ensuring that the state fulfills its social welfare obligations in enhancing the well-being of senior citizens.

The National Unification Silver Jubilee initiative is a dedication and commitment to showcase and debate the current challenges faced by Liberia’s senior citizens, many of whom made significant and impactful contributions to national development in yesteryears but, are now sadly experiencing glaring neglect and abandonment in their time of need, with no access to pension and social security benefits.

From 2014 to present, the Better Future Foundation (BFF), and its CSO collaborating institutions including the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation of the University of Liberia, among others, have been actively involved in advocacy, making policy recommendations, aimed at complementing the efforts of the Government of Liberia, for peace consolidation and sustainability.

According to BFF, 200 years on, since its founding in 1822; and nearly 60 years after the formal launch of the Unification and Integration Policy in 1964 by the 19 President, William V. S. Tubman (late), actualizing genuine peace, reconciliation and integration, remains a critical challenge in Liberia.

At the 59th Unification Day program held last year, under the theme: “Socio-economic, Political and Development Prospects and Challenges of the October 2023 General Elections in Liberia,’’ which keynote address was delivered by the European Union, EU, through its immediate former Head of Delegation to Liberia, H.E. Ambassador Laurent DELAHOUSSE, with H. E. Urban Sjostrom, Ambassador of Sweden, who, at the time, served as one of the distinguished panelists, several crucial Liberian related issues, particularly on how the conduct of the October 10 Presidential and Legislative elections and the 14, November 2023 Presidential Runoff elections, and the actions or inactions of key stakeholders in the elections presented a litmus test for Liberia’s peace, security and democracy.

At that historic program last year, the National Unification Heroes and Heroines Award (NUHA) Initiative was formally launched to be held as an annual event.

The NUHA Post-Elections peacebuilding initiative is dedicated to searching for, recognize and celebrate individuals/institutions for their exemplary leadership and excellence in fostering national unification, peace, and security, worthy of replication for peace consolidation and sustainability.

At the consultative roundtable, BFF President Augustine Arkoi, on behalf of the NUD organizers, told the National Legislature that the former President of Liberia, H.E. George M. Weah; All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP); and the legendary Liberian Musician, Korte Dorbor Bazzie, CKA, “Kobazzie,” have been nominated to receive the first NUHA Awards this year in the individuals and institutional capacities for their respective roles which led to the peaceful outcome of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.

This year National Unification Day program, the organizers told the roundtable consultative forum, will also be characterized by presentations of Goodwill Messages by a number of senior diplomats and other distinguished personalities including H.E. Ambassador Nona DEPREZ, Head of Delegation,European Union Delegation to Liberia, H.E. Catherine Rodriquez, Charge d’ affairs, U.S. Embassy, Liberia, Dr. Patricia Jebbeh Wesley, Professor of English/Literature, Pennsylvania State University-Altoona, USA & Special Guest of Honor/Chairperson, National Unification Day Compendium Committee.

The delegation, which also included former Minister of Education, and Chairperson of the Unification Day Organizing Committee informed the Legislative roundtable that, House Speaker Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, and the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Madam Nyongblee Karnga-Lawrence have been officially invited as co-launchers of the Unification Day Diaspora Initiative (UDI)/National Unification Day Compendium Project, while the keynote speech would be delivered by H.E. President Joseph Nyuma Boakai Sr. National Unification Hero Awards (NUHA) Presentation: Further updating the Legislative Roundtable, the organizers said, three categories of Award will be presented. According to the organizers, Liberia’s development partners, represented by the Diplomatic Community will do the presentations of the various Awards. Citation for the First Awardee, All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) will be read and presented by the Country Director, Catholic Relief Service, CRS-Liberia.

Citation for the Second Awardee is expected to be done by the Embassy of Ireland, while the
presentation of the award will be done by H.E. Nona DEPREZ, Ambassador-Head of Delegation, European Union Mission To Liberia.

Citation for the third award will be read by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Development in Africa, EISA, Country Director for Liberia, Madam Antonetta Hamandishe, while the Presentation is expected to be done by H.E. Madam Catherine Rodriguez, Charge d’affaire, United States Embassy in Monrovia.

Organizers of the National Unification Day program told the Senate that H.E. President Joseph Nyuma Boakai is expected to serve as the keynote speaker of Liberia’s 60 the National Unification Day celebration.

Dr. Patricia Wesley, Chairperson of the Committee designated to compile and publish the National Unification Day (NUD) Compendium, covering a decade-long NUD programs and activities from May 14, 2014 to 2024, will be inducted at the ceremony.

According to the National Unification Day organizers, Dr. Wesley’s preferment is in recognition of her immense literary/scholarly contributions made over the years, through the Young Scholars of Liberia; the African Poetry Book Series- Breaking The Silence, Anthology of Liberian Poetry, among other initiatives, with significant global impacts.

BFF and Partners also expressed their desire for partnership and collaboration with Dr. Wesley’s affiliated network institutions, for the historic NUD Compendium project, which is expected to aid the teaching of civics in learning institutions in Liberia, when published.

The 60 the National Unification Day celebration will also be climaxed by Panel Discussion, which has, as its theme: “Reconciling Liberia for the 21St Century: Welfare and Plight of Senior Citizens.”

The Panelists, each of whom will make five minutes presentations include the Director General of Civil Service Agency, and of National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Resident Coordinator of United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Senator Abraham Darius Dillion, Chairman of Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs/Executive.

Speaking at the consultative roundtable deliberations, Dr. D. Evelyn S. Kandakai, former Minister of Education, Chairperson of the NUD Organizing Committee, told the National Legislature that Liberians desire peace, security and development to enhance their socio-economic livelihoods.

She stressed the need for the leaderships of the 55 th Legislature which include the Senate, headed by President-Pro-Tempore, Nyongblee Karnga Lawrence, and the House of Representatives, headed by the Speaker, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, to firmly support this key national peace-building and development initiative by Co-launching the Unification Day Diaspora Initiative (UDI)/National Unification Day Compendium Project.

At the roundtable discussion, Dr. Kandakai, while soliciting the interest and partnership of 55 the National Legislature craves the Legislature’s collaborative efforts and support for the NUD indoor program as it prepares to do a follow-up Post-Elections Peace Building Snap Survey, and subsequent publication of a Compendium, capturing the decade-long National Unification Day programs, from 2014 to 2024, aimed at aiding the teaching of civics in Liberian schools.

The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Executive Committees who disclosed that he would convey their request to the Foreign Affairs and Executive, in response commended BFF, in collaboration with the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict transformation of the University of Liberia and civil society partners for their ten years of concerted initiatives and dedication, promoting peace and reconciliation through National Unification initiatives.

Senator Dillon assured Dr. Kandakai and the CSO delegation that he would convey their request to the legislative leadership for full representation of the 55 the National Legislature at Liberia’s 60 the NUD celebration.

Meanwhile, in their persistent drive for peace, Voices of The Elders- Republic of Liberia (VOTE), in collaboration with Better Future Foundation (BFF), convened a One-day Technical Retreat at BFF Head Office, suburb of Monrovia, on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. At the retreat, which also attracted three former ministers of Agriculture, Education, and Foreign Affairs of Liberia, took stock of critical areas of concerns, and the need for State and Non-state actors to remain constructively engaged for the preservation and sustenance of peaceful coexistence in the country.

Better Future Foundation (BFF), a non-state actor of the EU; and advocate for the economic and regional integration of ECOWAS, is a civil society organization dedicated to the postwar reconstruction and development of Liberia.

BFF’s mission primarily involves initiating programs and activities aimed at promoting peace, socio- economic, educational, and international cultural understanding and cooperation.

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