The Ambassador of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo, has lauded outgoing United Nations Development Program Country Director Dr. Kamil Kayode Kamaluddeen for his immense contributions to peace, good governance and infrastructural development as well as the rule of law in Liberia.
Director Kamaluddeen, who is affectionately referred to as KK, has left an indelible mark on Liberia as a development specialist by the policies and strategies he helped to draft—leading to some considerable levels of developmental improvement in the country, Ajisomo said.
Speaking at a cocktail reception held in KK’s honor in Monrovia, Ambassador Ajisomo said “KK has been passionate about development in Liberia and is a true son and patriot of the African continent.” Ambassador Ajisomo, who is also a Nigerian, added, “Any of our compatriots who come to Liberia on assignment firstly has to get in touch with KK to get an orientation, because of his reputation as someone who helps others integrate in the Liberian terrain; and KK is referred to as the ‘Landlord.’”
Dr. Kamaluddeen served Liberia for nine years, though intermittently. His first stint was when he served as Economic Advisor and Head of the Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDP Liberia, from 2002 – 2008 before returning in 2013 as Country Director.
KK was very popular in the diplomatic community as well as among his Nigerian compatriots all because of what many describe as his high level of humility, selflessness, commitment to duty and accessibility. Many of them praised him for helping them settle in successfully upon their arrival in Liberia.
Acting Foreign Minister Elias Shoniyin said KK will truly be missed because he has been a strong pillar to rely on. “KK has been a true friend to this government and our country. He was very instrumental in the crafting of the Poverty Reduction Strategy that helped us significantly to set us on our path of national development,” the Minister said.
The Minister described KK as a “development-oriented” individual who built up on the Community Based Initiative (CBI), which was set up by his predecessor, Antonio Vigilante.
The CBI provided the stage for community participation in the country’s decentralization process to provide municipal services in Liberia’s 15 counties—a program that led to the realization of the County Service Centers in some counties.
Responding, KK said his tenure may have come to an end, but he is leaving as a very proud man, adding that he is grateful to God for his contribution to Liberia.
“We strongly believe we could not have done this alone so we appreciate the capable teams we were fortunate to have worked with. They too, must be appreciated,” KK said. According to him, his greatest achievement is leaving in a peaceful country. “We’re very happy that Liberians have embraced peace and I’m of the conviction that this peace will be sustained because without peace there can be no development,” KK said, adding that he now considers Liberia a second home.
“Many of our compatriots from the ECOWAS region made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that peace comes to Liberia. Some of them did this with their lives. So I’m glad that this dream is being realized and I’m also glad to have been a part of transitioning Liberia from its war era to a stable country on the path of development,” he said.
KK, who has over 15 years working experience with the UN, replaced Mr. Dominic Sam as UNDP Country Director. He has extensive professional, academic, administrative knowledge and experience.
UNDP, the UN’s global development network, advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help empower people and build resilient nations, and has been working in Liberia since 1977.
UNDP is currently providing technical assistance within the framework of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2013-2017, which is fully aligned with Liberia’s mid and long term development strategies.
According to KK, UNDP’s interventions are meant to ensure that the country is peaceful and has inclusive politics, a diversified economy, and stable institutions. “We have also been helping to ensure the laws are enforced fairly, land tenure problems have been resolved, natural resources are efficiently managed and health and education standards have reached those of other middle income countries,” he said.