The Imo State Government has honored President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with a chieftaincy title, a merit award and a statue after being inducted into the Imo State Hall of Fame.
The Imo State Government also named a street in honor of President Johnson-Sirleaf in the State Capital, Owerri.
A dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Nigeria says the Liberian leader received the honors during a two-day working visit to the Southeastern Nigerian State which lasted from Thursday to Friday, the 9th to 10th of November, 2017.
According to the dispatch, President Sirleaf’s visit was in response to an invitation from the Executive Governor of Imo State, Rochas Anayo Owelle Okorocha.
President Sirleaf’s delegation included the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria Professor Al-Hassan Conteh, Foreign Affairs Minister Madam Marjon V. Kamara, Education Minister Mr. George K. Werner, State Without Portfolio Minister Dr. Clarence Moniba and Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Mrs. Julia Duncan-Cassell.
The dispatch said the highlight of President Sirleaf’s visit came on Friday when Governor Okorocha unveiled a towering statue of her at the Ijemba Ojuku Center in Heroes Square in Owerri.
Impressed with her statue, President Sirleaf thanked Governor Okorocha and the people of Imo State for the recognition.
President Sirleaf’s statue stands among other statues erected in honor of other prominent African leaders, present and past. They include those of South African President Jacob Zuma, Ghanaian President Nana Ado Akufo and some prominent Nigerians to include Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Tafawa Balewa, among others.
Prior to unveiling of her statue, the Liberian leader was conferred the Grand Chancellor Imo State Merit Award. The title is the highest in the State as provided under Law Number 18 of 2017, as enacted by the Imo State House of Assembly.
“You are honored by the people of Imo State through Governor Okorocha because of your achievement and invaluable contributions towards peace and governance,” read a citation signed by the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly.
President Sirleaf, in her acceptance speech, said “I accept with gratitude and humility The Grand Chancellor of Imo State. This award opens another chapter in the long history of deepened fraternal ties between the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of the Republic of Liberia.”
The President said the people of Liberia will forever remain grateful for the altruistic sacrifice of Nigeria in restoring peace to their country after nearly two decades of civil war, adding “we will continue to remember what you did for us and the contributions that you have made to these now 15 plus years of peace in our country. We look forward to solidifying our already strong ties of mutual opportunities and investments under the Liberian-Nigerian Joint Commission that was re-launched in 2014.”
Earlier, President Sirleaf met and addressed students of the Rochas Foundation College of Africa. Five Liberian students are among the Foundation’s beneficiaries where dozen others from other Africa countries are receiving free education.
Addressing the students, the Liberian Leader stressed that education is the most effective way to fight poverty in Africa. She said that if most children in the region have access to quality education, the problem of the continent would be solved.
Applauding the foundation for its efforts, she added: “I have travelled to every part of the world and I have travelled all over Africa. I have never experienced something like this. I have seen leaders of Africa build schools, roads, give scholarships, and so on. In all of these things, I have not seen any of them go beyond the ordinary by gathering indigent children of Africa from all of our countries, bring them together in our family, sharing together. I thank you. There is no other better way to fight poverty and preach unity than this.”
The President and Founder of the Foundation, Governor Okorocha, for his part, said the Foundation was not set up to show affluence, rather a platform to foster the kind of unity Africa yearns for.
“What I do today is not a dramatization of affluence as I am not amongst the richest in Africa. Rochas Foundation is a dramatization of sacrifice. This may as well be the Africa we are looking for. I do know that this institution will grow beyond me and my generation. This may be the beginning of the unity we all crave for in Africa. These children now see themselves as one family,” he said.
President Sirleaf later in the day delivered an inspirational lecture to Imo women on the topic “Women in Politics”. The colourful event was held at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC) in Owerri.
Previously on Thursday evening, the Liberian Leader upon arrival was conferred with a chieftaincy title by the Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers, Samuel Ohiri at the Eze Imo Palace.
The title in the Igbo language is called “Ada Di Oha Nma,” meaning “Daughter that is good for all.”