The former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, has been awarded the distinction of the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers with the Grade of Grand Cordon, the highest honor of the Republic of Liberia, by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a special investiture ceremony held at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Monrovia last Tuesday.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Investiture Ceremony was presided over by President Sirleaf as Grand Master of the Order of Distinctions. “Baba, thank you so much for accepting Liberia’s request to honor you. We cannot let you go without saying thank you. Your services to Africa, the sub-region and Liberia has been exceptional,” President Sirleaf stated.
President Sirleaf recalled that in 1979, when she was a junior officer at the Ministry of Finance, she witnessed former President Obasanjo voluntarily turn over power in his country, adding that it was a great moment for his people. She said former President Obasanjo used his power to help Africa, and as a a result, many African leaders seek his advice, which she described as the highest recognition accorded him.
Portraying the former President as a “True son of Africa” who has contributed immensely to the growth of the continent including the peace Liberia currently enjoys, President Sirleaf praised President Obasanjo “for his tremendous contributions in helping Liberia reach to where it is today. Thank you for promoting Africa, democracy, and peace as well as saving us from ourselves, and for being a partner to Liberia,” she added.
Responding, President Obasanjo thanked President Sirleaf for the high honor bestowed on him, which he said came as a surprise.
Following the investiture was the launching of President Obasanjo’s book, “Making Africa Work,” which he said is not purely academic but a practical handbook for those who are interested in the political and economic development of Africa.
Copies of the book were distributed to the majority of those who attended the ceremony. Mr. Obasanjo said he wants Africans to do away with shifting blame and instead focus on the future improvement of Africa and Africans. He called for a solution to youth unemployment and agriculture advancement in sub-Sahara Africa. Mr. Obasanjo further commended Liberians for embracing democracy and called on politicians to remain unwavering in rendering services to the country and the continent.
The ceremony was attended by several senior government officials, including Vice President Joseph N. Boakai; ECOWAS Commission Vice President, Edward Singhatey; Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Abdoulaye Dore; and a number of presidential candidates.
Mr. Obasanjo was accompanied by Dr. Greg Mills, family members and a cross-section of the Nigerian community in Liberia as well as other well-wishers.