Williams Anuku, Abuja
George Weah President of Liberia on Monday met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and appealed for financial assistance from the Nigerian government to bail his economy out of recession.
Weah who recently got elected as the 24th President of Liberia, disclosed that he inherited a system that was completely broken and would require some bail out to put the economy back on its feet.
According to Weah, the country was still finding it difficult to recover from the Ebola epidemic which recently engulfed the country, including the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
He told President Buhari that two of the country’s export commodities, rubber and iron ore can no longer sustain its economy, especially with depleted foreign exchange and high import duties for food and other basic commodities.
Part of the economic challenges confronting his country, according to him, are growing trade deficits and massive youth unemployment.
Weah who came on a one-day state visit to Nigeria, said “We came on a mission of gratitude and respect for the extraordinary and exceptional role that you, our Nigerian brothers and sisters, have played and continue to play in maintaining peace and stability in the West African sub-region, and more particularly, in Liberia.
“Although yours is the largest economy in Africa, with the most powerful army in our sub-region, you have never used your wealth and military prowess to expand your territory, threaten your neighbors, or de-stabilize any sovereign nation in the region.
“The prices of our two basic export commodities, rubber and iron ore, continue to fall on the world diminished market our foreign exchange earnings from the export of these and other commodities are used mainly on the importation of food and other commodities, causing massive trade deficits; youth unemployment is at an all-time high, and prices of basic commodities continue to increase.
“Our people have voted for change, and for hope. And change is finally here. But mere political change is meaningless without development, prosperity, and growth
“We need Nigeria’s help to jump-start our economy. You played a major role in bringing peace to Liberia you reformed our Army and today it is performing it duties to the highest professional standards. As we speak, they are serving in a peace-keeping mission in Mali You have also built and expanded the capacities of Liberians in so many ways.
“For example, during our recent observance of Armed Forces Day in Liberia, we were informed that two of our military personnel will soon be graduating as pilots from one of your esteemed institutions.
“We would like to see a continuation and expansion of that program, women. for both men and My administrations’ Pro-Poor Development Agenda, is intended to tackle the many economic and social problems that my Government has inherited, especially in addressing the large fiscal and infrastructure deficits, the urgent problem of youth unemployment, and reviving the education, agriculture, mining and health sectors”.
Weah also sought Nigeria’s assistance in its educational programme, saying at least 6000 teachers would be needed to boost its academic programmes in all ramifications.
“Your sustained technical assistance for capacity building in these sectors is most welcome. For example, Nigerian teachers and medical volunteers to Liberia, under the Technical Assistance Corps TAC) Agreement with Liberia, have been very crucial in boosting capacity development in Liberia, and it is my hope that this assistance can be considerably increased to address with urgency our most pressing socio-economic needs at this time.
“More specifically, under the Bilateral Teacher Exchange program, we are seeking 6,000 plus teachers to make up for the shortage of good teachers in our educational system. n agriculture, we are seeking experts and extension workers to build capacity in the sector, particularly with crops, (such as cassava, for example,) which lend themselves readily to value- added propositions and export earning potential”.
Weah a former soccer star, took oath of office as Liberia’s President in January 2018 with a pledge to build an equal, free and just country.
While delivering his inaugural address, he promised to do everything within his powers to be the agent of change that Liberians had yearned for over the years.
He also emphasized that corruption would not be condoned in his government, noting that government officials caught enriching themselves at the expense of the people would be prosecuted.
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