President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has officially paid homage to fallen former AFL Chief of Staff, Maj. General Suraj Alao Abdurrahman, who died two weeks ago in a New York hospital. The late army veteran served the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for seven years (2007-2014) before relinquishing power last year.
He returned home to Nigeria where he resided briefly before Liberians heard the news of his death. He died after a period of illness, Defense Authorities told the Liberian public recently.
Delivering her Armed Forces Day Message in Monrovia on Wednesday, President Sirleaf said, “Today marks Liberia’s 58th observance of AFL Day. It saddens me to pay homage to the passing of Major General Suraj Alao Abdurrahman, [who was also] head of the ECOWAS Advisory Team to the AFL.”
She noted that the late General brought professionalism, credibility and regimentation in the restructuring of the AFL and his leadership laid the foundation for the building of a vibrant, modern and professional AFL.
“He served the AFL with gallantry and utmost loyalty and his legacy remains in the professional conduct of the AFL,” she said during the ceremony.
President Sirleaf noted that it is not she alone who will greatly miss Gen. Abdurrahman, but also his many colleagues in the African region at large. He was a very strong soldier and a true Pan Africanist, said the President Sirleaf.
She asked the audience to observe a moment of silence as a mark of respect to the fallen general and all who lost their lives during the period, including the many health workers who died combating the Ebola Virus Disease.
Armed Forces Day was set aside through an Act of Legislature (1967) to recognize the immense sacrifices and dedication of veterans and the gallant men and women serving in uniform.
Previously known as the Liberia Frontier Force, the AFL was founded in 1907. It now has a life span of 107 years.
This year’s Armed Forces Day was held under the theme, “Enhancing the Capability of the AFL to Conduct Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operation.”
This theme, according to President Sirleaf, reflects the harnessing of our nation’s resources to bring about development to the country. “It also addresses the noble efforts and supportive role to the government and other civil authorities in responding to the current health crisis.”
Most importantly, she said, the theme captures the status, spirit and vision of the gallant men and women in arms, who are utilizing their professional capabilities and resources toward supporting our national development agenda.
President Sirleaf also used the occasion to commend the leadership of new Chief of Staff of the AFL, Brigadier General Daniel Ziankahn, who succeeded the late Gen. Abdurrahman during the same ceremony last year.
“As we commemorate this day, it has been one year since Brigadier General Daniel Ziankahn assumed leadership as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia. General Ziankahn’s leadership during the past year, especially the months of our national health crisis, has brought credibility to himself, the AFL, and the government and people of Liberia. I want to say thanks to you and the high AFL command,” said the President.