The outgoing Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, could not hold back tears when he delivered his farewell message to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, his colleagues and Liberians in general.
During the farewell reception and investiture ceremony held in his honor at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Konneh told President Sirleaf that he was honored and gratified to have served the country.
Konneh’s wife, Hawa and their three children, Mohammed Konneh, daughter Aichia and Armeh, had flown from the United States to witness the event, along with several other close relatives and friends.
The outgoing Minister was admitted by the President into the Order of the Star of Africa with the Grade of Grand Band, the nation’s highest distinction.
“I’m speechless at the highest honor that you have bestowed upon me tonight, Madam President,” Konneh, who was finding it difficult to hold back his tears, said.
He continued, “But this auspicious occasion demands a response that expresses the height of emotion that you have evoked in me, and the challenge it presents to continue along this path that I have chosen to serve my country, Africa and the world.
“I remember standing at this very same podium in this same venue in 2008 expressing gratitude for the risk you took to place on the shoulders of two young men – Amara M. Konneh and Augustine K. Ngafuan – the highest responsibilities of coordinating and financing the development agenda that would become your legacy.
“As my friend Ngaf, as I affectionately called him, so rightly said on that day, your decision to appoint your two youngest, and arguably your least experienced members of cabinet, represented a paradigm shift in Liberian governance, where your generation was passing on the baton of leadership to ours.”
He said he was proud to be counted among several younger and current former members of the President’s cabinet, all of whom have made and are making major contributions to Liberia’s progress.
He said the UP administration has learned critical lessons along the way about how to do development effectively. “The greatest crisis we have faced yet has become our greatest opportunity to look with new eyes at our priorities and adjust them according to what really matters-our people, our children and their future,” he noted.
He further said while the dividends of the works of the Unity Party are slow to be seen, they remain a reality that will soon become apparent.
“It has been tough, exhausting and exasperating, especially when you are coming to the Minister of Finance to secure funding for something and all he has to tell you is no money,” he said.
He added, “But my colleagues, it was not personal. It was all in the interest of ensuring that we could also come out of this in 2018 being able to say that we did our best as a team to make optimal use of resources available to transform the lives of our people.”
Konneh initially began to shed tears when President Sirleaf, in remarks, praised him for his patriotism, dedication to duty and determination that had enabled the government to make some landmark achievements.
“You have been an effective official of the government of Liberia under my leadership. I really want to thank you for the many processes you led and undertook for the good of our country and wish you well. We will all indeed miss you for your work,” President Sirleaf stated.
She recounted the tremendous contributions of Minister Konneh in championing the Agenda for Transformation and the Vision 2030.
The ceremony was attended by scores of top government officials, including members of the legislature led by Speaker Alex Tyler, and almost all of the cabinet ministers.
Members of the diplomatic and Consular Corps, led by its Doyen, Abdoulaye Dore, were in attendance. Also present were Governance Commission Chairman, Dr. Amos Sawyer, and the political leader of the Liberty Party, Charles W. Brumskine.