BY SANI TUKUR
ABUJA, NIGERIA (PREMIUM TIMES) -- Liberian President, George Weah, has called on the Nigerian government to provide 6000 teachers to his country as part of the Technical Assistance agreement between the two nations.
Speaking Monday shortly after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Presidential Villa in Abuja, Mr. Weah said his government inherited many problems which can only be tackled with assistance from countries like Nigeria.
Mr. Weah was inaugurated into office on January 22 after defeating immediate past vice president Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party.
Addressing journalists after his meeting with Mr. Buhari, the Liberian leader identified some of the urgent problems facing his country as youth unemployment, as well as the need to revive the education, agriculture, mining and health sectors.
“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 programme, we are seeking 6,000 plus teachers to make up for the shortage of good teachers in our educational system,” he said.
Mr. Weah thanked Mr. Buhari for the invitation extended to him and said his delegation was 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”.
He said although Nigeria 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 neighbours, or destabilise any sovereign nation in the region”.
He also said the prices of Liberia’s two basic export commodities, rubber and iron ore, continue to fall on the world market, which have diminished the country’s foreign exchange earnings from the export of the commodities.
He asaid most export earnings of Liberia is used mainly to import food and other commodities, causing massive trade deficits while 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.
“Your Excellency, 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 its 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 programme, for both men and women,” he said.
Liberia is open for Nigerian businesses
Mr. Weah also declared that Liberia is now open for business to the Nigerian private sector.
He said there is a need to address the current volume of trade between the two countries, which is very low and does not exceed five million dollars, by some estimates.
“Yet, the Liberian banking sector is dominated by Nigerian banks, and I am made to understand that their Head offices in Nigeria may be considering reducing their support or even shutting them down because of the recent downturn in our economy.
“If this is true, I urge them not to do so, as l am optimistic that trade and commerce will increase in the near future.
“ There are also major shortcomings in the electricity and power sectors, in road construction, in housing, in mining, and in fisheries, to name a few, that could be of serious interest to Nigerian investors, either as individuals or companies, or through joint-ventures or public-private partnerships.
“ We invite all of you to come to Liberia and explore the many new opportunities for investment that abound to increase under this new political dispensation. I promise you that you will find a government that is not only business friendly, but ready to do business.
“ On a personal note, President Buhari, it is my intention, with all due respect and affection, to frequently seek your wise counsel and advice as we embark upon this arduous task of nation-building, reconstruction, and transformation of my country.
“ Nigeria’s historical benevolence towards Liberia cannot be quantified. And once again, we seek your urgent and critical assistance,” he said.