US$300K for PUL’s Headquarters “Not Forthcoming”


-PUL President Coffey

The President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Charles Coffey on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, said there is no assurance that President George Weah’s administration is releasing anytime soon, the US$300,000 previously allotted for the union’s headquarters project in Monrovia.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in the 2017/2018 National Budget, allotted the amount of US$300,000 for the PUL’s headquarters project against the projected US$650,000 required to complete the project.

But responding to a lawyer’s question about the status of the project that has long been stalled, Coffey said they have not abandoned plans for the project, noting, “it was the government that still holding back the money to finish the project.” The lawyer served as one of the facilitators at the ongoing USAID-Internews organized specialized media law training for Public Defenders in Monrovia at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill.

According to Coffey his leadership, for the past months, has lobbied with the government to see reason to make available the US$300,000, “but we are not yielding any fruitful results”.

President George Weah is expected to complete PUL project.

“The money is not forth coming, because it was given to the union by laws enacted by the government. So why can’t we get the US$300,000,” Coffey told the group of lawyers, who expressed interest in knowing the status of the union headquarters’ project.

“Look at how Ghana’s former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, built the headquarters for the journalist union in that country. So why can’t our government do the same,” Mr. Coffey wondered.

He continued, “we are bitter enemies of the government. They fail to know that we are only there to ensure that public servants account for the resources entrusted into their care to the people. But, we need the money for the project.”

On the issue of collaboration with the public defender, Coffey assured the lawyers that the Press Union is prepared to work with them to protect journalists that would come in conflict with the law.

“I like to inform that the union is going to work with you to ensure that you represent us whenever we are being sued for libel or any other crimes for performing our social responsibility,” he added.

Answering questions about disciplinary action taken against journalists, particularly radio talk show hosts accused of using profane language and spreading hate messages, Coffey, in response, blamed the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) and the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA).

“It is the LTA and the MICAT that you people need to blame for the hate messages and profanities being used on local radio stations because they are the ones that issue frequency to those stations and not the union,” the PUL president maintained, arguing that the union does not have any role to play in the issuance of frequency or registration of radio stations and newspapers.

Coffey said on countless occasions, the union has suspended journalists that were linked to spreading hate messages. “Even if we were to suspend them, do we have the power to revoke their frequencies or their licenses?” Coffey asked.



      • I read the article and I agree the PUL is legally entitled to the funds because it was appropriated by legislation. However, those are public funds and giving it to the PUL (private organization) is not a good use of scarce public funds. It proves my point that every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the country believe the government must give them free money. That’s what I’m talking about – it’s the welfare mentality that is keeping Liberians backwards. The foreigners in Liberia do very well than Liberians because they depend on themselves, not government handouts. I remember during EJS first term she donated $100k to the PUL that could have built their so-called headquarters but that money was misused. So here we go again…

  1. If a comparison was to be made today between the financial profligacy in government, to that of what is actually being spent on critical social programs including the amount that the PUL is requesting for to supplement what has already been allotted in the national budget for the erection of its headquarters, that request is astoundingly nothing, and is less than a drop in the bucket.

    Let’s be real here: Ambition and the quest for success are not bad attributes; for they are intrinsic to our human existence. But, however, when those in whom the functioning of the government is entrusted, put their personal interests above those of the nation, then it raises the question of conflict of interest.

    The PUL’s request cannot pale to the billions that have been embezzled and cannot be accounted for. The organization is not requesting for a handout. It is asking for the government to do due diligence as it had previously promised. Is that not fair enough?

    Where else, or on what project should this government direct the nation’s resources other than the ones that directly impact the lives of the people and reap maximum benefits for the society?

  2. Perhaps, PUL’s Coffey should go watch the Ghanaian media space; journalists don’t think independence means adversarial relationship with government. They know it suggests freedom from any form of patronage or influence be it by government, opposition political parties, businesses, accredited foreign embassies/ agencies, foreign organizations or whichsoever.

    Most importantly, while at it, he ought to find out whether the Press Union of Ghana would’ve refused ensuring self-regulating standards if asked by a Ghanaian President signing the Table Mountain Declaration guaranteeing press freedoms as former PUL president Quaqua did. Not to mention that despite agents provocateurs masquerading as practitioners rain insults on the President and scream about leading uprisings, unlike Ghana, no Liberian journalist has been bodily harmed by police or officials under the Weah leadership.

    That foreign organizations with no reason to be anti- free expression /freedom of the press had to issue a joint statement condemning media messages that “promote violence” should’ve been a wake-up call. In any other West African country, the Press Union would’ve called an urgent meeting to address those concerns. Instead, Coffey came out with a response few observers thought sounded defensive.

    The upshot, unquestionably, an emerging democracy needs a vibrant press as watchdog, however that watchdog must be healthy and alert to perform effectively. Without saying, our media space should reform itself to reflect ethical standards in pursuit of reliability, and credibility. Nobody is denying the ability of our journalists or their patriotism, but let them abide by rules of their profession (code of conduct) as they expect of other institutions.

  3. While the article is making a point that suggests that the last regime allocated such funds, it is possible that the new regime vetoed such funding to the press that was in the budget of the last regime. The present regime of the Anointed One is not under any obligation to carry out whatever was in the budget of the last regime. As it is , funds in the budget does not belongs to anyone until it is actually handled over . Serious about the press headquarter , get a loan , and be seen as a serious organization.

  4. The Royal Man James Citizen has experienced an epiphany.

    My goodness. For the very first time, instead of blaming George Weah for the problems of Liberia, Citizen states unequivocally that “it’s the welfare mentality that keeps Liberians backwards”. This is a statement of fact.

    What a guy? Citizen, I owe you a bottle of wine for breaking out of the world of hate for George Weah and stating the truth. Some of us have known this for a very long time. Why did it take so long for a sharp-witted guy like you to buck the trend?

    I know you are slowly coming. Our arms are wide open. Spread the message. Although he’s not a perfect guy, Weah is definitely not responsible for the problems of Liberia.

    • F. Hney – I try to be objective and fair when discussing issues affecting our country because I’m a man of principle, so it has nothing to do with “coming around” as you claim. A reasonable person would agree that there are serious economic challenges facing the country. Inflation is on the rise (almost 30% by many estimates) and the value of the Liberian dollar is falling like a rock. And George Wean and his economic team seem confused. They don’t know how to address the worsening economic situation. Basically the country is in a recession (soon to be a depression) with negative growth for more than two quarters in a calendar year. Making matters worse, the majority of Liberians suspect Weah of corruption because he is protecting the Finance Minister and Central Bank governor regarding the misappropriated $25 Million used in their so-called mop-up scam. In Liberia, it’s unthinkable that a Finance Minister would steal millions of dollars and get away with it without the President getting his cut and you know that very well. So, you can defend Weah all you want but it is he who is governing badly, not his critics. The Liberian people are seeing for themselves the kind of leader he is by his actions. So far, his performance is abysmal, I would say.

  5. Citizen,
    You blamed the “welfare mentality” of the Liberian people in your last post. In my view, that was being very objective. An objective person sees both sides of an issue and makes an informed decision.

    I totally agree that the problems of our country are enormous. The problems can be tackled or solved if all of us get involved passionately. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.

    You’ve mentioned a few things that undoubtedly affect the Liberian economy:
    1. The free fall of the Liberian dollar

    2. High inflation and

    3. The missing twenty-five million deal.

    Okay, whereas you are right, my point is that two of the issues stated above did not occur under George Weah’s watch. The Liberian dollar began its fall during the presidency of EJS. With regard to inflation, it’s been a reality. I am not making excuses for Weah. I believe Weah is being accused because he’s president. On the other hand, the fact that his Finance Minister hasn’t been terminated because of the much talked about 25 million dollars does not make Weah a thief. What happens tomorrow if the Finance Minister is terminated? Will Weah be absolved of theif?

    The problems are real. You’re right! We can find a way to solve them instead of acting on pure speculation.

    • It’s not about firing the Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah because that alone won’t solve the $25 Million saga. In the interest of good public policy, Tweah should have been suspended pending an independent investigation. But Weah is protecting Tweah for good reasons because he is likely part of the crime. You can’t have constructive dialogue with the citizens about fixing an economy when government officials are making the situation worse by stealing the scarce funds available to solve some of the problems. We need to find out what happened to the money. The economic problem is compounded by corruption as the highest level of government. I highly doubt any sound investor would risk his capital in a country with the problems we have right now. Samuel Tweah needs to be investigated for the $25 Million, but it won’t happen and everyone knows why.

    • You can blame EJS until the cows come home, it is Weah who is President, not EJS. Apparently, the Liberian people took a risk on Weah and they’re regretting big time. He didn’t have a plan then and he doesn’t have one now to fix the economy. He hired all those clowns with no experience or qualification to solve problems. They’re running around and confused. Weah himself is not leading…I guess he’s overwhelmed. Oh well we told them so…

  6. What happened to the $100.000 gven by the former government to the PUL? Please provide a comprehensive accounting based on credible audit report.

  7. Citizen,
    When you say that Tweah should be investigated about the missing 25 million-dollar deal, I think it’s a fair call. But, until the investigation is launched and should it conclude that Tweah embezzled the money or whether Weah has been an accomplice, you cannot accuse anyone of theft. The president’s silence on the 25 million -dollar deal should not be speculated upon as embezzlement. Brother James, I would like to know what happened to the so-called missing 25 million US dollars. Please do not misconstrue me.

    The president could have hired or employed unqualified Liberians. I don’t know. James, I have never met Weah in my life. Never. But I strongly believe that Weah’s critics do a disservice to Liberia when they continuously heap hell on our leaders. The economy of a country does not turn around overnight. It takes time. Probably a little bit of patience will be helpful.

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