|Nigeria Defence Academy Honors President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for Excellent Leadership
(KADUNA, NIGERIA – September 8, 2012) The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), one of West Africa's foremost military academies, has conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Management Science on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as part of the institution's 59th commencement convocation, held on Saturday in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna.
At the ceremony, the Commandant of the Academy, Major General CO Onwuamaegbu, said the institution saw it compelling to honor President Sirleaf for her outstanding leadership, demonstrated since she assumed the presidency in January 2006.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Commandant said his institution has closely followed developments in Liberia, where several of the Academy’s alumni have participated and are still participating in peacekeeping, and it had to demonstrate the appreciation by the honor on President Sirleaf. The honor made her the first non-Nigerian to have received the award from the Defence Academy.
"This President [Sirleaf] has demonstrated an exemplary leadership in Africa and the world at large; she deserves our honor as she has restored Liberia to an enviable mark in governance,” Commandant Onwuamaegbu said, adding, “Free speech, freedom of the press and not limited to participatory democracy for a country where we are greatly involved in its recovery, is worth noting and commending,” he said amidst huge applause and repeated standing ovations.
In her acceptance speech, President Johnson Sirleaf, on behalf of her colleagues honored, said it was with a great sense of honor and humility to accept the Honorary Degree from one of Africa’s most reputable and prestigious Military Academies.
“My colleagues and I are gratified to be a part of the history of your Academy by the distinction accorded us today,” President Sirleaf said, assuring the Academy that their public service will continue to accentuate the foundations upon which its reputation has been built. “We are proud to form part of the roll-call of those who have joined the ‘green and white lines’ of Nigeria’s finest and brightest,” she said.
On behalf of the Liberian people, President Sirleaf said she was in Nigeria with a humble heart, to once again express gratitude and historical indebtedness to Nigeria for their service and sacrifice to Liberia. “Even as I speak to you today, many of your military personnel continue to serve diligently not only in Liberia, but also in countries the world over where their services are needed. Their accomplishments should forever inspire us in rendering selfless services,” she said.
The Liberian leader also said she was proud of and gratified with the strategic partnership that exists between both countries, and enumerated Nigeria’s continued support to Liberia’s overall reform agenda and other development goals.
As a demonstration of military and diplomatic ties subsisting between both countries, President Sirleaf pointed out that Major-General Suraj Abdurrahman currently serves as Chief of Defense Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia. A distinguished graduate of the Academy, she said he is bringing credibility and discipline in restructuring the AFL.
The President expressed her pleasure for the recent decision taken which allows young Nigerian women to pursue regular combatant course at the Nigerian Defence Academy. “This milestone in the history of the Academy will open tangible opportunities for women pursuing a military career. It will inspire thousands of young Nigerian women who are desirous and willing to serve their nation. It will inspire Liberian women to do likewise. The day is not far away when one of them, here or in Liberia, could emerge as the next Chief of Defense Staff,” President Sirleaf said.
Three personnel of the AFL also formed part of the graduating class of over 140. Major Davidson Forleh, who recently completed his Senior Command and Staff course, obtained a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies. Two other Liberians, Officer Cadet Jonathan P. Eastman and Officer Cadet Ballah Pewee, both obtained Bachelor of Science Degrees in Geography and Computer Science, respectively, including the five-year regular combatant course.
President Sirleaf was accompanied to the Defence Academy by Defense Minister Brownie Samukai; AFL Chief of Defense Staff, Major-General Suraj Abdurrahman; and Liberia's Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh.
Mr. Jerolinmek Matthew Piah