Special Awards In Pictures

LIBERIA IS PREPARING to host a glitzy Summit of Heads of State of the Authority of ECOWAS, the first time this tiny Country will be hosting such internationally acclaimed assemblage in some many years, in fact since the 1979 Conference of then Organization of African Unity (OAU).

It is welcoming that the ECOWAS Authority has seen the necessity of coming to Liberia, a country they fought hard to restore to social, political and economic dignity. Least Liberians forget that West African leaders under the aegis of ECOWAS during the course of the civil war committed their armies to the cause of Liberia when Liberians were tearing themselves apart in the name of “fighting for freedom.”


ANOTHER POINT THAT is worth making is that the Summit is coming here because of the unquestionably quality leadership role of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current chair of the ECOWAS Authority. It would be foolhardy and remised not to recognize her invaluable contributions in ‘resetting’ Liberia’s credentials internationally and diplomatically. This is why we agree with her when she said the Summit is a great victory for Liberia. “After 40 years of leadership in regional institutions, we are playing host to regional summit,” Pres. Sirleaf upon return to the country from the United States of America. Indeed, there is no naysaying that Liberia has made progress over the course of the past years, beginning 2006.

HOWEVER, LOTS OF things have come into cogitation ahead of the much-publicized and hallowed Summit. Liberia’s infrastructural lackluster is playing out so greatly. Infrastructure-wise, when Liberia is put against other nations that have hosted ECOWAS Summits, the hiatus is so wide. Though there are protruding structures across the Monrovia – some good buildings and roads pavement- they are nothing compared to what others such as Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and others have. These concerns, we are aware, are meaningless to changing anything, but they should be seen from the context of drawing attention to one of Liberia’s salient needs.

CONSIDERING THE LACK of huge public building that can host the number of people, the government is obliged to put millions of dollars into private entity, like one of the glamorously luxurious hotels along the Tubman Boulevard, as venue for the Summit. We are reminded of justification from the President that Senegal where the last Summit was held, used a hotel as venue. We don’t know whether it was private or public Hotel. If so, we cannot put Liberia against Senegal in terms of wealth and development. Or, one country doing it does not make it right for Liberia, a country so financially troubled, to pursue the same line.

ON THIS NOTE, we will not be in the wrong if we squeeze in few words on the near-abandoned Unity Conference Center in lower Virginia, outside Monrovia. Built in 1979, the Conference Center stands as one of Liberia’s infrastructural prides, though its present status is a vexing and bemoaning contradiction. We must say that slain President William R. Tolbert is reflected when the Building is seen or mentioned. However, the money that is being paid to a private Hotel could have done so much in restoring the Conference Center which is not as damaged as National Housing Authority or other structures, some of which have been rehabilitated. The President as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority must have been in the know that ECOWAS would have come to Liberia, and as such should have taken some proactive actions including the refurbishing of the Conference Center. Though late to prepare it for the Summit, something can still be done about it, we think.

WE ARE TOTALLY not against the idea that Liberia is hosting a Summit of ECOWAS, but we thought it was an opportunity to reach out to some ‘forgetting about structures’ that still have national essence. Nations all over the world undertake infrastructural developments when having big events. Brazil, for example, built over three new stadia and refurbished one of the oldest stadia when it hosted the 2014 World Cup. China built the Bird-Net Stadium when it hosted the Olympics some years ago. The same is England about three years ago when it hosted the Olympics as well. Liberia yearns for development and these are good chances that must be maximized. Indeed, the Summit is welcoming as it is reminder of so many things.

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