Remarks by Her Excellency Chief (Dr.) Jewel Howard Taylor at the Ground-breaking Ceremony of the DEPOWA PTSD Armed Forces Center, Abuja, Nigeria, October 4, 2022

Remarks by Her Excellency Chief (Dr.) Jewel Howard Taylor at the Ground-breaking Ceremony of the DEPOWA PTSD Armed Forces Center, Abuja, Nigeria, October 4, 2022

Your Excellency Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari, First Lady, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Her Excellency, Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President of the Republic of Malawi.

Major General Bashir S. Magashi, Honorable Minister of Defense of Nigeria.

General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defense Staff.

Baroness Sandy Verma, former Member UK House of Lords.

Barrister, Mrs. Vickie Anwuli Irabor, 14th President of DEPOWA.

Dr. Ken Giami, Chairman of the African Leadership Organization.

Other Officials of Government Here Present.
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the 4th Estate.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honored to be a part of this august gathering of personalities who have converged here this morning, in recognition of the selfless sacrifices of the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces for the urgent, attending need to secure that their sacrificial services to Nation and People are given the requisite attention they deserve; both during and after they have served.

This call to ACTION is being taken to bring to light the fact that dedication to duty by members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is the ultimate and highest patriotic service that one can give in defense of their Nation; hence deserving of the Nation’s fullest support both during and after their service.

Let me begin by expressing, on behalf of the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, and the Government and people of Liberia, my heartfelt felicitations to His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Government and the great people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; on the auspicious occasion of the 62nd Independence Anniversary of Nigeria.

When I received the invitation to participate in this unique gathering, I began to reflect on the enduring challenges of the in service and retired Military Personnel across Africa, who carry deep scars of trauma, as well as incidences of isolation and neglect; manifested not only by them, but also by members of their families.

In recognition of these psycho-social problems, I am therefore pleased to add my voice of advocacy to that of the President and members of DEPOWA for this urgently needed and well meaning initiative; which when completed, will provide a safe space to cater to the needs of members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and their families.

This initiative provides a glimmer of hope to those who serve in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, and others around Africa; who urgently need these services. I am proud to report to this gathering that in 2020 my President, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah; in recognition of the services being rendered by the Liberian Armed Forces; built and dedicated a medical facility called the 14th Military Hospital (the first of its kind in Liberia) for the health and well being of members of the Liberian Armed Forces. This facility became the HUB for treating persons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Liberia; and is now gone back to being used for its original intent – for the Liberian Armed Forces.

Excellencies, Officials of DEPOWA, Officials of Government, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is common place to heed the call to cater for Spouses and children of Persons in Arms; but rare to heed the calls for the initiation of programs which cater for and provide opportunities to victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Armed Forces of Nations in Africa. For me, this initiative is not only historic, but also unprecedented in our part of the World; and as such it demands the fullest support from ALL.

I am therefore pleased to say that once again, Nigeria continues to lead by example!

It is my prayer that this example, will sooner rather than later, become the standard for all of Africa; which will provide the basis for other established Military Hospitals across Africa to ensure that units for PTSD are established in these facilities.

At this juncture, permit me to speak briefly on the topic: “A tribute to Nigerian Soldiers for International Peacekeeping: The Liberia story”.

Thankfully, this subject is now a Historical Lesson and carries with it the simple truism – “That no matter what, WAR should never be an option for change in National Leadership or change in Government.”

Liberia was plagued by a civil war from the late 1989 until mid 2003; with devastating consequences of this internal crisis on the West African Region, and ripple effects stretching as far away as Europe and the Americas. On the one hand, it plunged the International Community into a myriad of challenges, including huge number of refugees and the need for mobilizing vast resources to deal with the complex humanitarian emergencies. Whilst on the other hand, it caused a human catastrophe of death, separation of families, lack of basic human needs for survival and alienation in local communities where refugees were temporarily settled.

In response to this devastation and its ripple effects; regional Leaders under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after urgent deliberations, decided that peacekeeping by military intervention was the best option for intervention to halt the crisis. This then prompted the deployment of the ECOWAS Mission Group called ECOMOG with the intent to stop the war and bring peace to Liberia.

This intervention by ECOMOG, with a vanguard role played by Nigeria, was the first comprehensive attempt at Regional Peace Keeping Initiatives since the Organization of African Unity (OAU) mobilized African Armed Forces to intervene in the Congo Crises between 1960 and 1965. The OAU had in the interim also established an ‘Inter-African Force’ to intervene in Chad in 1981.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, because of the devastating nature of the Liberian Civil War, coupled with security threats not only to Liberians at home but also to the sub-region, and all of Africa; ECOMOG was initially deployed with about 3,000 West African troops under the leadership of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. By 1995, the troops had increased to about 8,430, of which 50 percent were Nigerian Soldiers. The ECOMOG intervention was later expanded to provide peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone because the the civil war spilled over into that bordering Nation.

I am happy to note that beyond the Military intervention, ECOWAS, under the leadership of Federal Republic of Nigeria, went beyond its normal focus on regional integration and peace, to facilitate many diplomatic meetings to proffer solutions to end the first part crisis from 1989 to 1996.
As a result all of the sacrifices made by the Regional Forces, thankfully in August 1995, the Abuja Peace Accord was signed.

That initiative was led by the then Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, under whose auspices a six person Council of State was organized and subsequently chaired by a prominent Liberian Woman – Madam Ruth Sando Perry- under whose leadership Liberia’s first post war elections was held in 1997. Thankfully Nigerian has continued to assist Liberia in its road to democracy and sustaining the peace for almost 20 years. We are truly grateful for this sign of Brotherliness.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the history of Liberia; and its challenges of civil crisis from 1989 to 2003 can not be written without the due high recognition to the leadership role played by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; in mobilizing other regional Nations to contribute to this effort, and its provision of both financial resources and military personnel to ensure that peace was restored to Liberia and the region at large. Sadly, more importantly were the sacrifices made in human resources to bring the crisis to an end.

Permit me therefore, to pay a solemn tribute, homage and honor, to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and all the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces who formed a part of ECOMOG; without whose sacrifices the Liberian Civil crisis may not have come to an end.

Therefore our Nation, Liberia, our Government and people; remain indebted to the audacious men and women of the Nigerian Army and all others who participated in this Cause for restored democracy; and to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman, my presence here today is a sign of deep gratitude to this great Nation, Nigeria; which will forever be positively recorded in the annals of Liberia’s sociopolitical history.

Now, therefore, in manifestation of the profound gratitude of Liberia, its people and in my own name; I pledge my fullest support to this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Project, to ensure that opportunities are made available to help the veterans of the Armed Forces of Nigeria cope with the trauma acquired during their service not only to Nigeria, but in peacekeeping missions in our subregion and elsewhere in the world.

Finally, please permit me to close with the following quote from my heart:
“The current Members and Veterans of National Armed Forces continue to put their lives on the line to protect Nations and the freedoms that we each enjoy and at times take for granted. They continue to dedicate their lives, without thought of self of family; only for the safety of their Nations and People. In recognition of this singlemindedness and dedication, they deserve to be recognized, honored, supported and taken care of.”

May this urgent need become OURS also.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

God bless the Republic of Liberia!

I thank you!

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