Preempting This Year’s Armed Forces Day Orator

By: Franklin Ouu Nagbeh/fouunagbeh@gmail.com

Synopsis of the Armed Forces Day

Liberia’s Armed Forces Day is a special day set aside to commemorate services rendered by both veterans and active men and women in defense of their nation. Specifically, it was legislated in 1957, and henceforth, it is celebrated February 11 each year.

Prior to the name Armed Forces, the Liberian army was called Liberia Frontier Force. Unlike the current Army, most members of the Liberia Frontier Force were from the lower Liberian class.

Who Is This Year’s Orator?

This year’s Orator is from the underprivileged class of Liberia. His hard work from childhood to adulthood has earned him a great success and admiration. He is Attorney at law and a well-respected human rights and social justice advocate, a career that has earned him national and international respects.

He is the founder of the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), a location Nongovernmental organization involved with humanitarian work. He is also a Consultant for the Law Society of Liberia.

As Human Rights Lawyer, the 2015 Armed Forces Day Orator came into government in 2006 as Labor Minister. At Labor, he led the Firestone Workers Union to a peaceful and transparent election for the first time in Liberia.

In 2009, he became head of the country’s infrastructure entity (Public Works). As a non-engineer, many including the President hailed his work. After 8 years of public service, the Armed Forces Day Orator resigned from the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in May 2013 citing the death of his mentor, Archbishop as reason for his resignation.

What Should Liberians Expect From the Orator

The Orator will take the podium with hidden zest. He may asked the audience for a moment of silence for those peaceful citizens whose lives were wrongfully taken away by the AFL during Liberia’s arm conflict or during suppressive regimes. At the same time he would praise the Liberian government for building a professional army.

His presentation will among other things focus largely on service to humanity by the armed forces. He will refer to the army as the people’s army and not the people’s enemy. He will caution men and women of the army to observe integrity in the discharge of their duties.

The February 11, 2015 Armed Forces Day Orator will urge the gallant men and women to be leaders in their respective positions, thus challenging them to be ambassadors of peace.

He will retrospect on the history of the army in politics and will ask them to stay out of politics. He will recount how the national army was factional, tribal and politicalized by past leaders-and the consequences that follow, for which the army is being trained to reflect geographical and territorial balance.

He will make specific reference to brutalities meted out by the AFL against peaceful citizens under oppressive regimes; and would possibly hail them (AFL) for not taking part in the Rice Riot of 1979 which gave rise to what some historians believe was the evolution of deadly conflicts in Liberia.

Noted for his human rights work, the Orator is expected to ask the national army to observe the Geneva Convention of 1949, which among other things established the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war.

Holding everything constant, the social justice advocate’s speech may slightly touch on the Belle Yella prison, its treatment of political prisoners and the need to have shut it down-vis-à-vis his overwhelming desire for improved prison condition across the country.

He will talk about the excessive use of force on unarmed civilians during protests with symbolic phrases for the later ShaikiKamara whose death many still believe was caused by the AFL during the quarantine process of West Point as additional measures by Government to contain the Ebola virus disease.

The Orator will plead with the new Liberian army to pay loyalty to the state and not individuals. He will highlight briefly, the role of the army during the Liberian crisis and how it became factionalized with reported violations of 8,794 from 1979 to 2003.

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