Press Statement on Senator Zoe Pennue’s Leaked Audio Recording
People of Grand Gedeh. I bring you greetings from my family and the Nyanue 2020 Team. We pray that the Lord Almighty will continue to protect you and your loved ones from the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world. Our best bet to beat the pandemic is to adhere to the government’s medical protocol. Continue to wear your face masks and wash your hands frequently.
By William G. Nyanue, Former Senatorial Candidate, Grand Gedeh County
I am releasing this press statement today because I am gravely concerned about the recently leaked audio recording about Grand Gedeh County’s community radio station, Smile FM. The recording revealed Senator Pennue’s effort to undermine the independence of the station. He was heard vowing to block all public funding to the station because, according to him, the manager of the station was not protecting his interest. He also alleged that the station manager supported my campaign during the December 8, 2020 senatorial election. Here is some of what he was heard saying:
As long as he [the station manager] running the radio station, during the election he took side with Nyanue, I know that I am not protected there [at the radio station]. I want someone that will protect me as a politician. Let me be recorded and let him [the station manager] go and play it and say Zoe says he wants someone that will protect him as a politician…as long as Solo [the station manager] is at that station, anything that has to do with sending money to Smile FM I will not approve it…
The recording was posted online and aired recently in Zwedru. I have carefully listened to it a few times.
Let me say categorically that Smile FM’s manager, Uriah Solo Lewis, was never a member of my campaign team; never performed any personal service on behalf of the campaign; and never accompanied our team on any of its visits. Moreover, he never developed, aired, or caused to be aired any publicity material on behalf of our campaign. Smile FM reporters covered our events as did reporters from Top FM. Anyone who followed the election knows that we did not engage in a media campaign, other than holding a few interviews and distributing my profile. None of the media outlets in the county, including Smile FM, did anything to disadvantage any of the candidates, or to give any one candidate an unfair advantage. We were all given equal access.
I am concerned about this leaked audio recording because it confirms what I repeatedly heard during the election. Several persons complained to me that some of the county’s leaders are in the habit of intimidating and cowing people who they suspect do not support them, or who hold political views different from theirs. For these leaders, these Grand Gedeans become mortal enemies whose humiliation and financial and economic destruction become their obsession. Several qualified Grand Gedeans cannot get public sector employment today because of this destructive, unpatriotic, narrow-minded thinking. Some who held government jobs in the past lost those jobs because these leaders lobbied for their dismissal. The leaked audio recording confirms that this practice of undermining and working to muzzle their fellow Grand Gedeans continues even today.
My candidacy in the December 8, 2020 senatorial election was motivated by my belief that Grand Gedeh County’s legislative representation needed strengthening. I was convinced then, as I am today, that our county has fallen way behind because it is not being adequately represented and some of its leaders suppress their fellow Grand Gedeans. The issues that I raised during the campaign, particularly about responsible stewardship, transparency, accountability, advocacy, and empowerment, were not just election-season issues. These are issues to which I have devoted my adult life, whether in my professional life or as a community leader. I believe our redemption as a county and nation lies in our taking these issues seriously.
I am calling on all of our leaders, including Senator Pennue, to focus on how we might lift our people together, not bully them. The community radio station must never be used to protect any one individual’s interests, as Senator Pennue wants it to do for him. The Senator’s thinking is a fundamental misunderstanding of the mandate of the station and his authority as a senator. This is a misguided effort to continue to corrupt our politics. The station must live up to its mandate to provide unbiased professional service to inform and educate our community. We must all work to nurture a transparent and competitive political environment in the county.
Let me thank the chairlady and members of the board of directors of Smile FM for the bold, swift, and professional stance they took regarding the leaked audio recording. Their press statement gave me hope for the future of the county. I am calling on all Grand Gedeans to continue to support the board as it strives to protect the integrity of the community radio station. The only way to curb bulling is to stand up to bullies.
On a different issue, I wish to thank the young people who recently organized the Bring Back Our Equipment campaign; they are true lovers of the county. I also wish to thank the superintendent and his team for the peaceful manner in which they handled the issue the young people raised. The way the entire situation was handled suggests to me that we can work together to make our county better. Now that the equipment is back in the county, we must take the next step to resolve the remaining issues. These include: 1) why the equipment was leased-out in the first place when it was so badly needed in the county; 2) the amount of the lease and how the proceeds were used; and 3) assessment and, if necessary, repair of the equipment to make it construction-worthy. Moreover, in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, we are calling on the superintendent and his team to make public the lease agreement. Furthermore, Grand Gedeans need to be able to review the original bill of sale of the equipment so as to ascertain its condition at the time of purchase. So, we are also asking the county authorities to make this information public.
Thank you, people of Grand Gedeh. We are making steady progress towards a new era of collaboration and good governance in the county.