31 March 2013

Liberia: 'He Did Not Go to the Grave' - Finance Minister Returns After Health Scare

It is Good Friday March 29, 2013, the day Christians around the world celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but Emmanuel Kabakole, head of the Yana boys Association is not in church or on some street corner beating Judas Iscariot but holding a placard at the entrance of the Roberts International Airport awaiting the arrival of Liberia's Finance Minister Amara Konneh from the United States of America.

Outside the Airport was an abnormal throng of groups of young people, family members, well-wishers and friends of the Minister whose health status has been a theme of discussion in many quarters in Monrovia for weeks.

"A lot of rumors have been circulating that he's dead, he's crippled. This man is actually working for Liberia. For the time he took over the finance ministry he has done so many good things," said an excited Kabakole waiting anxiously to see the Minister emerge through the gate of the Airport's entrance.

Then the moment finally came when Konneh who it was reported in Monrovia, had died in Ghana while on his way to the U.S to seek further medical attention. The hugely excited crowd rushed toward him, some wailing, wanting to grab his shirt; the police could barely control the group of young people who had gathered to welcome the minister as they wanted to hold him and feel him to make sure that their eyes were not deceiving them.

They managed with the help of a few strong men to get the crowd off the minister and led him to an area where he could make what seems his coming to life speech to his well-wishers.

"I am overwhelmed; I didn't expect this kind of a welcome back home," said Konneh amazed at the kind of reception he just received from his countrymen.

With all the excitement surrounding what seems a triumphant return, the minister of Finance bowed his head apparently in silent praise to his maker and suddenly lifted his hands and eyes to the skies in praise of God and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf crediting them for the miraculous cure.

"I want to thank the almighty God for curing me and for saving my life. I want to thank all of you; all those that sent me text messages, that prayed for me; I felt your prayers; every bone in my body felt your prayers," he said.

"I want to thank the President for airlifting me out of here because I didn't know if I was going to survive."

Minister Konneh told the crowd of supporters that he was well and ready to continue the work entrusted to him by the President.

"I'm happy to be back, to continue the work of the Liberian people with all of you," he said.

Continued Minister Konneh: "We are back now and we are not going to slow down, we will continue to push the programs that will transform our economy. We will continue to invest in the young people; we will continue to support reconciliation, capacity building; but more so we will continue to do the work on our fiscal policy to protect the public money."

'He is well'

Dr. James Kollie Deputy Finance Minister for Revenue said he was relieved to receive his boss amid counterclaims about the minister's health status.

"I feel extremely excited. We knew he was well; amidst the rumors it was important for him to come and let people see him. He did not go to the grave."

The young people who are ardent admirers of the Minister, employees at the ministry of Finance showed their solidarity in a way never before seen to a man they admire so much.

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