GANTA, Nimba – Chiefs and elders from Bong, Lofa, and Nimba have converged in Ganta, Nimba County for a conference aiming to obtain the support of the traditional leaders for the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda in their respective localities.
The event is being hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia, with support from the Carter Center Access to Justice Program, USAID, and the Swedish government.
The conference was officially declared opened by Deputy Minister Emmet Reeves, who represented Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf.
The conference in Nimba is the first major gathering of the chiefs since Weah came to power and Reeves used the opportunity to thank the traditional leaders for the part they played.
“Let me use this medium, on behalf of Minister Sirleaf, to say thank you to all of you for the role you played before, during, and after the 2017 elections,” he said. “We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to you for electing your own son, President [George] Weah.”
He said the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as the liaison between the central government and local authorities, had the duty to explain government’s plan for the years ahead.
Reeves asked the chiefs to use the three-day conference – which ends today, June 6 – to put forth their views about how they think the government can work to foster the development agenda of the country to improve road connectivity, the agriculture sector, education, health, and others.
He challenged the chiefs to present plans to help the government succeed.
“It is our responsibility to begin engaging with you,” he said. “Because the [Pro-Poor] Agenda contains things that you said you wanted.”
Also speaking during the opening of the conference was the head of traditional leaders in Liberia, Chief Zanzan Karwah, who thanked the Ministry of Internal Affairs for organizing the conference and called for an explicit explanation of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda to the chiefs.
“My people came here to know what the government means about pro-poor,” he said. “We want y’all to explain it to us so that when my people go back, they can be able to tell their people.”
Karwah used the occasion to recommend that such conference be held in other parts of the country to allow other chiefs who did not attend to have the opportunity to learn more about Pro-Poor Agenda and its implementation strategies.
Over the course of the conference, the chiefs are expected to view several presentations from different line ministries and agencies of the government.
Featured photo by Arrington Ballah