Liberia’s first post-war Chief of Staff (COS) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, has officially transitioned from military to civilian life, four years after he was commissioned by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Ziankahn was commissioned at the 57th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day by Sirleaf as the first post-conflict Liberian COS, Deputy COS and Brigade Commander.
President George Weah retired the young, energetic COS and appointed him as the new Minister of Defense.
Ziankahn was among the initial batch of officials appointed by President Weah hours after he was inaugurated at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville last Monday.
The man that has been designated by President Weah to replace Ziankahn is
Maj. Brig General Prince C. Johnson, III, pending Senate confirmation.
At the official turning over ceremony held at the BTC in Monrovia yesterday, the outgoing COS said: “I know I’m leaving, but it’s kind of hard for me. The army has done well and I believe that we will work tirelessly in our position to ensure that the welfare of personnel of the AFL is improved to enable them to serve their country well.”
He promised that when he is confirmed as Minister of National Defense and being fully aware of the needs of the AFL and its personnel, he will share his resources to ensuring things improve.
It may be recalled that the aggrieved wives of AFL soldiers recently staged a protest, blocking traffic from the entrance of the Kesselly Barracks to Roberts International Airport (RIA), in demand of accountability for their husbands’ compulsory savings. The President Sirleaf later commended the women for the professional services their husbands exhibited on behalf of the country.
“Let me commend you for allowing your beloved husbands to serve our country,” President Sirleaf said. She thanked the women for their patience in waiting for their concerns to be addressed. She assured the women thatmod Maj. Gen. Ziankahn would take charge of the matter instead of the MOD, a comment pundits are saying was a clear indication that Samukai was on his way out as head of the MOD and that Ziankahn was going to replace him, a rumor further fanned by the AFL vs. Weah All Stars pre-inaugural game.
Ziankahn vowed to use his position as MOD to lobby with the 54th Legislature for improved budgetary allocation for the Army and made a commitment to ensure proper accountability of funds of the AFL, for which he said he will be counting on AFL officers to support him.
The ex Army boss cautioned his successor to always consult with members of the force in all his endeavors, noting: “We should not treat the soldiers like slaves or disrespect them because of our positions.”
The Defense Minister-designate warned civilians not to get involved in military matters, but added: “While it is true that they too have a role to play, I will also hold the Chief of Staff accountable if any of his men disrespect any civilian.”
Meanwhile, the newly appointed COS, Prince Johnson, applauded former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her trust in them.
“We are honored that today the new CIC of the Army, President George Weah, can call on us to serve,” he said, adding that though there are some challenges facing the army, there have been a lot of improvements since 2006.
Some of the constraints that the AFL faces, according to Johnson, are inadequate accommodation for officers and their dependents, low budgetary allotment, logistics, welfare, and electricity.
“Being a civilian and having served in the army, it could be an advantage for Ziankahn. His strength could be the fact that he once served as an army personnel—this puts him in the position to understand what the Army needs and be able to address them,” he said.
Johnson stated that the AFL has been very successful in all of its missions, and looking homeward, and with the new government in power, “We can see how best we can work on the issue of pro-poor government agenda in order to mitigate some of those problems we are faced with.”
During the turning over ceremony, the national flag was lowered, symbolizing that the former AFL Chief of Staff Daniel Ziankahn’s regime had come to an end, while a new flag was hoisted, indicating the start of the regime of Brigadier General Prince C. Johnson.
Officers and enlisted personnel of the AFL, mentors and partners expressed their appreciation to Ziankahn for his selfless leadership throughout his term as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia.