Liberian President George Manneh Weah on the occasion of the observance of the 171st National Flag Day of Liberia last Friday conferred the highest national award on former President John Kufuor and former Monaco coach Arsene Wenger .
The occasion also marked the 15th year of the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, which was the final peace document that was negotiated to bring final closure to the many years of war that ravaged the West African country.
The accord was brokered mainly under the auspices of former President John Kufuor, the then-president of Ghana and chair of ECOWAS.
Peace has since ensued in Liberia and there has been a peaceful and democratic change of government among opposing political parties.
Also, honoured in the ceremony were Sir Arsene Charles Ernest Wenger, former manager of Arsenal Football Club, who received the award of Knight Grand Commander, Humane Order of African Redemption (KGC-HOAR), and Mr. Claude Marie Francois Le Roy, coach of the Togolese National Team, who received the award of Knight Commander, Humane Order of African
Other award recipients were Alhaji Frank Jerico Nagbe, former coach of the Lonestar, the Liberian National team; Mr. Dominic Vava George, former coach of Lonestar; and Ms. Gbour S. Wilson, a basketball icon, each of whom were awarded the Commander, Star of Africa (CSA).
A statement issued by Dr. Kwabena Osei-Adubofour, a Senior Aide and Spokesman to former President John Kufuor said the citation that accompanied the award to former President Kufuor and read by the Liberian president says among others that: “Under [President Kufuor’s] ingenious leadership, marked socio-economic development was recorded in Ghana; notably, pioneering of the National Health Insurance Scheme which benefited more than eleven million Ghanaians; construction and operationalization of more than two hundred hospitals and clinics; introduction of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Program (LEAP) which provided cash transfers to poor households in the country; among others.”
Wenger, who stepped down in April after serving as manager of English club Arsenal for 22 years, received The Humane Order of African Redemption for nurturing Weah and other Africans during their soccer careers in Europe.
Liberia’s chief of protocol Jarvis Whiterspoon read out a long, emotional citation to explain why the honor was being bestowed on Wenger, who received a standing ovation and was embraced by Weah.
In the citation, former striker Weah told of how the 68-year-old Frenchman’s coaching skills earned him the nickname ‘The Professor’.
“Dear Mr. President . now you are my president, before you were my player,” Wenger said at the Samuel Doe Sports Complex. “I was always impressed by the love for your country.”
Wenger went on to wish the 51-year-old Weah, who also had playing spells with AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, “a great future because you deserve it.”
Togo coach Claude Le Roy, who introduced Weah to Wenger and Monaco in 1988, was also honored at the ceremony.