The National Elections Commission (NEC) has taken a number of highly proactive initiatives in preparation for Liberia’s historic forthcoming 2017 presidential and general elections. Last Sunday NEC’s Acting Chairman, Counsellor Sarah Findley-Toe, took the momentous step in launching the countdown to October 10, 2017, when the presidential and general elections are scheduled to be held.
Acting Chairman Findley-Toe also displayed NEC’s very attractive and symbolic new logo, a “see through,” or a highly transparent ballot box intended to highlight NEC’s corporate image as an independent electoral management body.
Said she, “This represents transparency and an electoral process in which all voters can freely elect their leaders in a free, credible and transparent manner.”
NEC has also taken a series of dramatic and visionary initiatives to get its image across worldwide. It has first reconstructed its website, leveraging technology platforms that are relevant and efficient. Determined not to be left behind by any other electoral body worldwide, NEC has launched new social media platforms—Facebook and Twitter—designed “to present a whole new paradigm (concept, model) for effectively disseminating civic/voter education messages to the public as the country moves closer to the 2017 elections.”
“In an era of greater transparency and authenticity,” Acting Chair Findley-Toe continued, “social media is rapidly delivering a new standard of interaction among people, thus motivating the launch of the Commission’s Facebook and Twitter platforms.”
She commended the Liberian media’s continued partnership with NEC, and called on them to continue to disseminate effectively information about all aspects of the electoral process to the public as the Commission strives to extend civic voter education messages to the public, to ensure the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in 2017.
We commend NEC for embarking upon this bold and up-to-date communication strategy being employed as it undertakes its advance work toward the ensuing elections.
We at the Daily Observer, and we are certain the rest of the Liberian media, are aware of the importance and urgency of these preparatory initiatives and are prepared to do all we can to assist NEC in disseminating its messages to the people, in order to prepare them for these all important impending elections.
Let us, meanwhile, remind NEC that it is a Liberian government institution, and that most GOL agencies, not necessarily NEC, are in a consistent habit of delaying payments to the media for legitimate work done for the said Ministries and Agencies.
Last month, after years of delayed action in the face of mounting debts owed by GOL to the media, outgoing Finance Minister Amara Konneh, on his last day in office, approved media payments authenticated by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe.
But guess what! No sooner had Minister Konneh sent the payment approval down stairs than the Deputy Minister James Kollie quickly announced that there was “no money to pay the media.”
This has been a habitual tendency of this government, which increasingly appears to be a deliberate attempt to strangulate the media—small businesses all—that have so many expenses, including fuel for their own generators, providing their own water, buying films, inks, newsprint and plates; purchasing gadgets and maintaining transmitters for the electronic media; and paying salaries and other expenses. How do we meet all these expenses when our biggest customer, the Government of Liberia, fails to settle its indebtedness to us?
Yes, the media knows that it is its civic and patriotic responsibility to give NEC all the encouragement and promotion necessary to ensure that the 2017 elections—indeed all elections—are held in a free, fair, credible and transparent manner. But the government of President Sirleaf needs to understand that there is a symbiotic (interdependent) relationship between government and the media. We need each other to keep this small country of ours going.
The new trajectory of tracking GOL’s media spend through the Ministry of Information now makes it rather simple for the Ministry of Finance to disburse payment without going through a tedious vetting process. We call on the new Finance Minister, Boima Kamara, to make it one of his prime duties to cooperate with the media by ensuring that GOL pays them on time, while we appeal to President Sirleaf to encourage her officials to pay the media what they owe us and do so expeditiously.
Madam President, we are hurting, to the point of suffocation.
On a more URGENT note, the President, the Finance Minister Kamara and Information Minister Nagbe must know that the media folk are very worried that if we do not get paid our outstanding bills before June 15, when the GOL fiscal year ends, these current bills will go into recession and Heaven knows what that might mean.