By Cllr. Tolbert Nyenswah
Truth, as ordained by the fundamental canons of journalism becomes the first casualty when journalists falter in their sacred responsibility to replace facts with fictions; when journalists ignore responsible journalism to herald motive, innuendoes; and when journalists become judgmental instead adhering to fairness, balance and equal hearing in pursuit of the greater good.
It is foolhardy amid the trappings of the 21st century for the Daily Observer, which supposedly prides on the fringes of being the oldest ‘independent newspaper’ in Liberia could resort to journalistic gangsterism by embarking on a deliberate campaign to report falsehood and spread outright lies. This is a miscarriage of professional journalism!
News is evidence-based and comes along with facts conditioned by research. It is gathered, analyzed, researched, processed and packaged. It is news that Tolbert Nyenswah was former Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL). It is poor journalism and affront to precision journalism that he was “Executive Director” of “NIPH”, (at least as manufactured by the Daily Observer). It is absurdly careless character-infringed journalism that Tolbert Nyenswah escaped Liberia as the government was launching a probe over his ‘alleged mishandling of public funds’.
The Daily Observer’s ‘Editorial’ finds itself wanting in its intriguing assertion that the “George Weah administration has announced that Nyenswah is a wanted man; and goes on to grotesquely asked mind-boggling questions such as: “But why? Why should a fine, highly educated young man like Mr. Nyenswah do such a thing and, in the process, spoil his good name? He most certainly calls himself a Christian. You mean he never read the Book of Proverbs which said, “A good name is rather to be chosen that great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold”? Or did he ever remember Christ’s critical question: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul (his integrity)?
Questions are largely research-based tools or techniques to address specific probing concerns depending on the circumstances. Regrettably, the tools as fashioned for the purpose of this exercise are immaterially consequential in respect of a coherent ‘data-gathering’ analysis that should inform a responsible and educated ‘Editorial’ that professionally translates as the Daily Observer’s ‘Official Position’ – least to mention Liberia’s self-styled oldest independent newspaper. Strangely, it now behooves the Daily Observer to assume the audacity to become ‘judge, jury and executioner’. The Daily Observer is now pontificating religious-cleansing; and is now campaigning religious bigotry. Ironically, the Observer is judging ‘God’s anointed’! One becomes moot attempting to understand the corollary to such theory.
When the media, as Fourth Estate of the realm is positioned as a ‘Court of Public Opinion’, evidently, the creditability of the independent media becomes eroded while public trust seemingly compromised. As a right-thinking member of society, Mr. Nyenswah would no doubt make informed choices – not based on Daily Observer’s half-truth assumptions of reaping ‘naysaying consequences’, otherwise construed as ‘spoiling of his name’. When the oldest independent newspaper fails to responsibly investigate, which constitutes a delicate facet of professional journalism while at the same time – braces itself for a motive driven spectacle of presumptive ‘law-enforcement’ – the public becomes bemused.
If Cllr. Tolbert Nyenswah’s patriotic sacrifices let alone brilliant actions, decisions and roadmap to rescue Liberia from the scourge of the deadly Ebola constitute a crime for unleashing INTERPOL, in the name of so-called pointless justice – he should without any due process be considered ‘guilty’. No fugitive, walked into the office of the President, present his letter of resignation, published his resignation and remained in the country after 15 days before leaving the country through the international airport. That should be reckless bravery, shouldn’t it? As in the alleged submission of Daily Observer, how could a presumed ‘fugitive’ like Cllr. Tolbert Nyenswah muster the courage to responsibly engage proponents of the Ministry of Justice in a level-headed manner as is the case.
An appeal for support to the international community to fight the Coronavirus pandemic – is just as critical as the approach by the Sirleaf administration. Accounting for stewardship at NPHIL, cannot be mind-framed has bed on gossips or mere suspicions. If we must seek compelling solutions to the Coronavirus onslaught, the Daily Observer can prove its independence by making substantive interventions in the fight against Coronavirus. The lack of leadership to effectively deal with existing deficit as Coronavirus looms cannot be vaguely attributed to scapegoating Cllr. Tolbert Nyenswah.
We are baffled that the Daily Observer would in a nitwit fashion term as ‘salient question this Editorial raises’ – owing to “where will the NPHIL find the money to fight coronavirus?” When Ebola struck, President Sirleaf, thru the 52nd Legislature approved US$5 million as government initial subvention. In the midst of such limited intervention IMS went into action and brilliantly inspired the international community to make increased interventions. In fact, a special management team with the help of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning were set up by President Sirleaf that managed all such monies. The Daily Observer failed to ask intelligent question and chose the path of misinformation.
When we interjected the flagrant absence of proper scientific research into a poorly written Editorial; our instinct was informed by facts. Daily Observer alludes: “That prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the NPHIL had already requested from the Liberian government US$3 million to prevent an epidemic.” In sharp blatant erroneous crusade – the Daily Observer adds: “Compare that with the ‘US$600 million’ that the government of Ghana has allotted to fight Coronavirus.” What manner of Editorial would lack elementary research facts? For the record, the Government of Ghana approved US$100 million Cedis equivalent in the fight against Coronavirus. Should Daily Observer be told or get in the business of investigating amid this garbage: “We are told that Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has responded with an allotment of US$1.5 million.”
The Daily Observer as an official position should not – ‘understand’. A statement of fact must occasion a purported claim that NPHIL had a balance of US$2 million in its account. A living bald-faced lie! Arguably, the alleged US$2 million and its assumed status invariably is the motive in the mindset of the ‘real author’ of this “Guest Editorial” that contradicts the chain of ‘editorials’ the Daily Observer’ in terms of language and structure. Investigative journalism cannot be in short supply as a painstaking feat. A scoop once accessed, must be analyzed as forensically across the broad spectrum. The Daily Observer should not allow the public to discern in oblivion.
If it was the understanding of Daily Observer that Cllr. Tolbert Nyenswah allegedly misapplied US$2 million; how come the same paper is asking ‘how much of that money did Mr. Nyenswah abscond with; or what happened to the rest?” Perplexingly, a ‘mock prep’ regarding the Weah administration responding to donor’s inquiries is simply a bogus reliance. Donors do carry out independent audit of support to friendly governments and as such do not need to use a roundtable discussion to quiz sovereign governments about audited accounts. It is just pointless to advance preposterous motives in the name of a so-called ‘editorial’ of worthless significance.
Intelligent leadership evolved out of pragmatism and getting the job done based on systemic delegation of responsibilities. The apparent void in displaying wit where prudence is seemingly becoming a new environment for naysayers to be on the job-seeking hustle – has sparked off an orgy of bad-mouthing of the former Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL). It should not take any prayerful moment to prove competence based or worth. Lest we realize that some are born great; others achieve greatness while others have greatness bestowed upon them; the better for those who are sheepishly having sleepless nights to prove wrong that historic uneventful aura in our history that no force can change by mudslinging a dedicated, and selfless Liberian who gave to his country what others would have preferred their country to do for them.
If journalism must attract the meaning it deserves, then Liberia’s oldest independent newspaper will have to conscientiously learn by the ropes and appear to be seen to be truly reflective of such noble inclinations by supposedly an independent media, rather than become an embarrassing vehicle for conveying falsehood and character assassination. A journalist is one who goes out to – gather – fetch – research – package and present factual news alive. That way, the first draft of history will not be tainted!