Liberian President, George Weah, on Monday said political change was meaningless without development, prosperity and growth.
He also said Liberia would need at least 6,000 teachers from Nigeria
Weah said this while addressing State House correspondents at the end of a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said he was in Nigeria on a mission of gratitude and respect for the roles that Buhari and Nigerians had played in maintaining peace and stability in the West African sub-region and particularly in Liberia.
He said although Nigeria’s economy was the largest in Africa with the most powerful Army in the sub-region, “the country has never used its wealth and military prowess to expand its territory, threaten its neighbours, or destabilise any sovereign nation in the region.”
He said Liberia needed Nigeria’s support to jump-start its economy.
Weah said, “The prices of our two basic export commodities, rubber and iron ore, continue to fall on the world diminished market. Our foreign exchange earnings from the export of these and other commodities are used mainly on the importation of food and other commodities, causing massive trade deficits.
“Youth unemployment is at an all-time high, and prices of basic commodities continue to increase.
“Our people have voted for change and for hope. And change is finally here. But mere political change is meaningless without development, prosperity and growth.
“We need Nigeria’s help to jump-start our economy. You played a major role in bringing peace to Liberia, you reformed our Army and today it is performing its duties to the highest professional standards.
“As we speak, they are serving in a peace-keeping mission in Mali. You have also built and expanded the capacities of Liberians in so many ways.”
Weah said his administration’s Pro-Poor Development Agenda was intended to tackle the many economic and social problems that his government inherited.
He said the tasks before him were to address the large fiscal and infrastructure deficits, youth unemployment, and reviving the education, agriculture, mining and health sectors.
He noted that Nigerian teachers and medical volunteers to Liberia, under the Technical Assistance Corps Agreement with Liberia, had been crucial in boosting human capacity development in Liberia.
Weah expressed the hope that the assistance could be considerably increased to address his country’s most pressing socio-economic needs at this time.
He added, “More specifically, under the Bilateral Teacher Exchange Programme, we are seeking 6,000 plus teachers to make up for the shortage of good teachers in our educational system.
“In agriculture, we are seeking experts and extension workers to build capacity in the sector, particularly with crops, (such as cassava, for example), which lend themselves readily to value-added propositions and export earning potential.”
Weah said Liberia was open for business to Nigerian private sector, adding that there was a need to address the current volume of trade between the two countries, which he said, was very low.
“The Liberian banking sector is dominated by Nigerian banks, and I am made to understand that their head offices in Nigeria may be considering reducing their support or even shutting them down because of the recent downturn in our economy.
“If this is true, l urge them not to do so, as l am optimistic that trade and commerce will increase in the near future.
“There are also major shortcomings in the electricity and power sectors, in road construction, in housing, in mining, and in fisheries, to name a few, that could be of serious interest to Nigerian investors, either as individuals or companies, or through joint ventures or public-private partnerships.
“We invite all of you to come to Liberia and explore the many new opportunities for investment that are bound to increase under this new political dispensation.
“I promise you that you will find a government that is not only business friendly, but ready to do business,” he added.
Weah said it was his intention to frequently seek Buhari’s advice as he embarked on the arduous task of nation building, reconstruction and transformation of his country.