The three-month old leadership of the Coalition for Democratic Change headed by President George Weah sees no greater enemy than the Liberian media. The President himself being in support of the attacks proved it in recent days by publicly stating that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stringer, Jonathan Paye-layleh has been against him.
Seeking answers through a couple of published articles and written letters to First Lady, Clar Weah, and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to justify the claim, the President did not respond up to this day until Jonathan, feeling the cloud of fear, had to run to the United States for his safety.
Today, another scathing attack has been launched against Rodney Sieh of the Frontpage Africa Newspaper claiming that he publishes faked stories to undermine the George Weah Administration, and this view is being widely bandied by Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee.
Mayor Koijee who should be for instance drafting plans and proposals to improve sanitation in Monrovia has positioned himself now as an official of the Ministry of Information or the Press Secretary to the President, lambasting any media institution that appears critical of the George Weah Administration.
While in opposition during the two-term administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Jefferson Koijee, Acarous Gray and some of their CDC stalwarts used the very media including Frontpage Africa to criticize that administration, insult the President at the time, and condemn everything about that administration, never mind the fact that some of them were even working in that government.
The past administration was heavily criticized for corruption, nepotism, neglect of the youth, poor education and so forth. To the dismay of Liberians watching with eagle eyes to see what difference the CDC-led Government will make, we see some of the same people in past administration maintaining their jobs while unqualified and incompetent partisans of the CDC are being placed in higher public positions of trust.
There are suggestions that some siblings of the President have been given consultancy positions at the National Port Authority (NPA), while other highly ranked individuals of the CDC are reported to have recommended their close relatives for positions in other sectors including the Ministry of Finance.
In fact, the recent recusal of the Justice Minister from investigating the EXXON Mobil saga exposed by Global Witness testifies how most public officials in the Weah Administration are not different from past officials. Paul, one of the great Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ said in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!
What shall we do, Mr. Koijee and your fellow partisans? Should the media praise you for what you criticized while we continue to face the same political, economic and social agonies? Ethics forbid! The President and his spokespersons including Jefferson Koijee must realize that journalists and media have five ethical duties to observe, and one of those duties is the DUTY TO SOCIETY.
This duty compels the journalist or media to do justice to society by reporting information that will enlighten it in order to drive members into making a decision that will meet the general interest of all. Even though the public is yet to understand in full what Koijee’s attack on Sieh is all about, there is no way that any independent media institution can sit and see the wrong thing done and not speak out.
Investigating to bring out issues affecting the society is a typical routine for the media, and there is nothing this administration can do or will fail to do that the media will not follow. We believe the CDC-led Government has more to do than to attack media practitioners and cause some to flee.
President George Weah and his CDC built high expectations in people about changing Liberians’ lives for the better while campaigning here last year. Although he still has some of the same old corrupt officials in his government, there was a time President Weah gave his inaugural address and pledged to fight corruption to the end.
There is an inflationary exchange rate between the Liberian dollar and that of the US dollar. This was one of the main campaign tools used against the Unity Party which led former Vice President and standard bearer of the party, Joseph Boakai to become unpopular.
Liberians are looking up to you, President Weah and officials, to fulfill promises made to them instead of launching attacks on the media. Note that any attempt to muzzle the press will amount to violating the very Constitution and international protocols you promised to defend and obey.