Dear Madam President,
With sincere compliments I’m pleased to bring to you attention a growing threats and insults professional journalists continue to endure under your leadership involving officials of your government.
A week ago, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe was unruly temperamental at the close of your final Annual State of the National Address when he rained insults publicly at a female journalist Estelle Liberty Kemoh of Power FM/TV. His insults came minutes after she sought opportunity to interview him after a row ensured between he and an opposition lawmaker.
This situation which was caught on video camera saw Minister Nagbe also threatening dismissal of state radio journalist Emmanuel Capehart after attempting to interview an opposition lawmaker having been quizzed about his response to your annual message.
Madam President, this is repulsive and appalling! While this action does not only violate the Code of Conduct by Public Officials, it is also repugnant that your office continue to remain silent on this matter. Said move does not only have the propensity to raise more questions from the media and public, but also question your so-called fight against violence against women as a female president.
You will recall in October 2016, this same Minister ordered the arrest and detention of another Liberian Journalist named Festus Poquie of the New Democrat Newspaper.
Poquie who is also a member of Journalists for Change (JFC), a pro-media group fighting for the rights of journalists in Liberia, was picked up at his office and detained hours at Police headquarters after being accused of republishing a story about Equatorial Guinea’s dictator President, Theodore Obiang Nguema; in which the Daily Mail based in Europe alleged that he (Theodore) was a cannibal.
His arrest and republication of said story at the time had no security implication on the country as was alleged by Minister Nagbe, yet we witnessed no action by your office despite a pool of condemnations by scores of civil society organizations including local and international media advocacy groupings.
Madam President, it’s inexcusable for a public official to engage in unprofessional acts deemed unacceptable to the public space, thus making it imperative for your office to take immediate actions, especially when it involves integrity and respect for women and children.
As a proclaimed advocate for women’s rights, your continuous silence on this matter has not only shown to the world your selective style of advocacy, but continue to create more space for other officials of your regime to imitate the unprofessional acts of Minister Nagbe. Indeed, I’m saddened. Enough is enough! Take action now!
No journalist deserve being insulted privately or publicly on camera by any public official why performing his or her reportorial duties as seen throughout your administration.
While your silence on this matter appears to be favoring Nagbe’s action, I can only hope that immediate disciplinary action be taken aiming at redeeming your government’s lost media image. Undoubtedly, days are gone when government officials would attack and insult professional journalists and go with impunity.
Madam President, records show dozens of incidents were journalists have either been attacked or insulted by either officials or Police officers with no or limited decisions taken by your honorable office in most cases. Remember, Liberians are watching!! As I respecter of women’s rights, I join other voices in condemning said rudely act by Minister Nagbe and call for his immediate dismissal by your office.
Other National issues
Also Madam President, is a an evitable fact that Liberia transition remains fragile as evident by angry and frustration on the faces of Liberians, least to mention the continuous presence of United Nations forces following nearly 12 years of your Presidency. Over the period of these critical moments, our country under your stewardship has experienced some progress, yet, these progress remain far from expectations.
These gains some of which range from the waiver of our country’s debt, construction of feeder roads as well as the rehabilitation of the country’s lone hydro; they however remain unmatched to billions of dollars received from foreign governments and international partners, as well as millions pocketed by family members and friends over the course of your tenure.
Though we acknowledged these gains, Records show over 15billion foreign direct investment being generated by your administration over the last 10 years excluding grants and loans. Howbeit, the continuous pinch of under-development continue to be visible while your government continue to trade on deceit and lies to both our partners and citizenry in accounting for these monies.
On Monday of last week, you confessed two areas that have continued to pose major challenges for your administration, namely corruption and reconciliation.
Eventhough this confession remains a non-secret for many Liberians; you cleverly blamed it on “intractability of dependency and dishonesty cultivated from years of deprivation and poor governance.”
Madam President, said justification towards Liberia’s corruption fight is not only wrong, but speaks largely to the deceit, untruthfulness as well as your lack of political will over the years to tackle corruption.
For instance in 2012, you single handily placed your son, Robert Sirleaf as Board Chair of our country’s oil and gas industry, a sector that we all depended one as a major source for Liberia’s growth and development.
Despite condemnations and calls for his removal, it proved futile, not until months later when the sector collapsed with millions being reported missing due to shady deals, bulk of which were captured in audits reports conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
Like your son (Robert) and many others officials who have been accused of rampant corruption, they all continue to roam the corridors of our country freely while your government continue to hold on to political theories in a bid to prevent prosecution.
Furthermore, when your government opted to paid ‘Diaspora Liberians ministers’ huge salaries and benefits in tone of over US$9,000 -12,000 monthly, while those based at home received US$4,000 to 5,000, you justified that Diaspora Liberians had more experience than home based citizens.
Shockingly, some of your so-called experienced ‘Diaspora Liberians Ministers’ have proven to be the worst economic criminals in Liberia modern history.
With huge capital flights taken place by the minute by government officials, while the country’s natural resources stayed montage to foreign companies via concessions; national reconciliation programs and corruption remain far-fetched.
Madam President, it’s a fact that despite nearly a decade of leadership, Liberia remains on life-support to foreign nations who occasionally dashed us grants and aids to survive daily. This is simply due to bad governance characterized by personal self-interest by state actors.
Madam President, it’s a painful fact to mention that despite nearly 12 years of your governance coupled with huge international support, you’ve not being successful in uniting the nearly 4.5milllion people in a tiny nation call Liberia. What a shame!
Nearly five years ago, you vowed to Liberians and the world at-large that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC) would be implemented. Unfortunately, said document remains on ice while war perpetrators continue to roam the corridors of power.
The likes of Senator Prince Johnson as well as you must monster the courage to bear the greater responsibility of your individual role played as contained in the TRC report.
Indeed this is the first step to reconciliation and national healing bearing in mind that there can be no reconciliation or peace without justice. Though chances of its implementation remains scanty under your watch, one can only hope that the next administration can monster the courage to ensure the full implementation of the TRC report.
Madam President, as you continue to preside over a broken nation, Liberia would appreciate were you to be sincere in projecting its true corruption image.
Recently, your government embarked upon a huge media campaign regarding our country’s hydro project having vowed that it would be completed and switched on December 2016. Citizens’ hopes were high and citizens jubilated that their homes were about to be lighted for the Christmas season and Ney Year.
However, such hope short lived, after it was revealed that ONLY ONE turbines out of four (4) were completed and that it would take several months for the hydro to be completed. Thanks to the US embassy statement for presenting the true picture of the project having shown your government degree of deceit and mistrust.
Similarly months back, your government also bragged that it would investigate and bring to justice through conviction Ellen Corkrum, a former Managing Director of the Liberian Airport Authority (LAA) who’s stand accused of pocketing nearly US$500,000.00 (half of million).
To date, your government has fallen short on said prosecution and conviction.
Additionally, months ago your administration accused former National Port Authority Managing Director Matadi Parker of stealing over 300,000. Yet, the outcome of said case remains a mystery.
Madam President, your commitment to provide 20,000 jobs each year, has made the heads of many Liberians to ponder whether you can be trusted, especially as you commence another round of campaign for your Vice President, who is opting to replace you. Madam President, while I don’t intend to outline endless lapses in your government, I’m excited that your time is up.
As we approach our next general and presidential elections in October this year, I like to thank you for your service to the nation. May history judge you especially as Liberians go through these crucial economic moments.
May God bless Liberia and safe and protect the mother land.
Stephen Binda Sr. BSC, MSC (Candidate)
Liberian Citizen/ Journalist