THIS IS A DIRECT QUESTION TO YOU our readers: Is the Liberian media intimidating the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government, which is being headed by President George Manneh Weah?
THIS IS LEFT WITH YOU THE READERS to provide your opinions to the above question. For us, we know the answer. This is the government of the Liberian people; and we are a Liberian newspaper so by extension it is our government, too. If we (media) do anything untoward to “rock the boat,” we don’t rock it for others but we ourselves, too.
NEVERTHELESS, THE LIBERIAN MEDIA, specifically this newspaper, won’t sit back idly or reluctantly and dance to the beats or every tune from the power of the day.
IF WE START TO DANCE WITH THE regime, along the way, they are going to certainly have a discord in their harmony and this is going to be bad for the media landscape, compromising the Liberia people.
WHY ARE WE SAYING THIS? On Tuesday, March 13, the City Mayor of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson Koijee, warned that the CDC-led government, which he actively participated in helping to win state power, won’t be intimidated by media reportage.
A LOCAL MEDIA HOUSE QUOTES him as saying: “We stand tall to work for our people and careless about the media criticisms of this government.”
HE WENT ON TO SAY THAT THEY waited for 12 years to ascend to their various positions of power and so whether they go wrong and are told about their ills, they are not going to be bothered by whatever the Liberian media says about their deportment.
A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE MAYOR made his trivial comment against the media, two important lieutenants, too, Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon and Deputy Managing Director at the Freeport of Monrovia, Mrs. Celia Cuffy-Brown, had made very incinerating statements against the media.
SPECIFICALLY, EUGENE ACCUSED Liberian media practitioners as people who called the President “dull” and said all manner of ill things about him. He went on to say that the media would remain poor or broke for the next 12 years. Now this is only if they are going to win another six-year mandate from the Liberian people after they shall have completed the first mandate.
FOR CELIA, SHE DESCRIBED AS “nonsense” media reports of how she has handled things at the Freeport of Monrovia.
IN THE ABSENCE OF A MANAGING Director at the port, she began exercising unauthorized powers, which threatened to destabilize the National Port Authority and set it back years of recent gains and improvements.
SHE CHOSE TO HASTILY EXERCISE the power of the Managing Director by taking on some unauthorized actions, including making some unauthorized promotions, which are not accommodated for in the existing budget. She among other things carried out pay raise in favor of few persons, including her sister Rebecca Teta Cuffy. She made Rebecca Claims Manager even though she has never worked in that department and increased her salary by 300 percent, from US$300 to US$1,067.
VERY RECENTLY, SHE JUSTIFIED nepotism. She had given contracts to some of the President’s siblings and when this newspaper flagged it, she justified that she had committed no crime; in fact stated that because former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime had done same, it wasn’t bad today for this regime to do, either. Meanwhile, these were the same ills that this CDC-led regime, when it was in opposition, had preached against and bashed at the Sirleaf-led government for engaging in cronyism, nepotism, etc. In other words, Celia is saying it is okay for them to steal now, because people in the Ellen regime stole too. And the media should not say a damned thing about their actions.
MR. PRESIDENT, ARE YOU hearing your lieutenants? This is scaring; and this gradually leads to state-sponsored attacks against the independent press.
YOU SHOULD BY NOW REPRIMAND these officials, who are gradually dragging your regime into the mud.
MR. PRESIDENT, YOU KNOW THAT every democratic nation, including Liberia, needs the media to foster good governance and this is why the free media is considered the watchdog of the society. Journalism and its practitioners must be committed to upholding the principles of democracy for the development of its people and country. And the job of the media can only be effectuated without fear or favor with love for country at the core of this task at hand. We don’t raise those issues to “intimidate” but for you to take some serious actions and not repeat those same ills that you fought against.
AT FRONTPAGEAFRICA, WE ARE COGNIZANT about the tenants of journalism and the tasks therein. We know what we must do to contribute toward the nurturing of our fragile but progressive democracy. We are also aware of the enormous challenges that have kept the prosperity of our nation in shackles and will not turn a blind eye only because we are afraid or jittery of stepping on the toes of some politicians or so-called powerful despots. Or our efforts won’t be appreciated by some officials, who are bent on having their wills being done at the detriment to the people of Liberia.
IN A COUNTRY Liberia where corruption and abuse of power are extremely entrenched, a free and independent media is pivotal to promoting good governance.
WE WILL NEVER PRETEND that we do not expect the barrage of criticisms targeted against us by some officials of your government, sycophants and surrogates of those same ill-hearted politicians, who want a free passage while squandering public resources at the detriment of Liberians. Others are just too much of blind loyalists who would even ignore the reality of our reports even if the details were written from holy religious texts.
MR. PRESIDENT, DON’T ALLOW these people to damage your individual good name.