The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, has assigned the Liberian media with the responsibility of helping Liberians appreciate their nation more. He asked them to help nurture a spirit of belonging, without which our commitment to rapid economic and social transformation would remain a façade.
Serving as the keynote speaker at the induction ceremony of the new corps of officers for the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Governor Jones said that a free press is vital to maintaining accountability on the part of those who govern, as well as vital to building a national consensus on “what we are as a people and why we exist as a nation.”
Speaking at the Executive Pavilion in Monrovia Friday, December 27, Dr. Jones said that “the press as an institution is critical to forging our national identity; the press is critical to bringing sanity to our national dialogue by keeping us focused on the things that unite us, while exposing the emptiness of those who dwell on the things that divide us.”
“The challenge we offer to you, members of the press, is that in as much as you are obligated to expose the wrongs of society, a task from which you must not waiver, you also have a responsibility to be messengers of positive expectations and change,” Dr. Jones explained.
He told the gathered journalist that they must hope that their country is capable of producing better days for all Liberians.
Governor Jones said history shows that many countries have had their difficult periods and have been able to overcome their problems. He noted, “They did it because their citizens were able to find within themselves the will to commit to a cause larger than their individual selves; that of their country. The press can help us find a national will. I say to you too, that Liberia can overcome its problems.”
He indicated that countries that have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds have been help by inspirational leaders.
Governor Jones asked, “Why did the world recently go to South Africa? Was it because it was the first funeral of a former president that the world had ever seen?”
“I believe they went because Nelson Mandela was an individual who believed in his country that it could be a better place, and he stood his ground at his personal expense when many others thought that he was standing on sinking sand. He chose forgiveness to save his country, when he could have pursued vengeance to suit himself.”
Delivering his inaugural address at the ceremony, the newly inducted PUL president, Kamara A. Kamara said that Liberian media is still threatened by laws which do not conform to the democratic credentials of the 1986 constitution.
He noted: “By all measures, the situation, freedom and respectability of media is a measure of democracy and development, anywhere in the world – it cannot be any different in Liberia. The environment in which media grows is one that does not seek to limit its reportage, for fear that it will bring someone down, or demean someone, who has in effect not been self respecting in any case.
He further, “In all regions where media is free and fully functional, the living conditions of the people are better, impunity does not lie and there is a reasonable attempt to ensure equitable distribution of national wealth, services and opportunities,”
“To reach this level in Liberia, we must challenge ourselves to ensure that the legal and operational environment favors the basic measure of democracy. By the account of local and international freedom of expression/press groupings, the situation in Liberia is unfavorable,” Dr. Jones concluded.