By Marcus Dahn (0777838174)
The role of the media in any democracy cannot be underemphasized. The media is responsible to keep the public informed of daily happenings. It should at the same time, ensure that news reported is free from errors and prejudices, and it must report news in a timely manner because old news is no news. The growth of any nation rests partly in the hands of those who influence public information. By listening to news, we come to know those things we should do or not do to avoid potential danger capable of ruining our health and safety. In many other ways, radio and television programs provide us basic information that would otherwise cost us substantial amount of money if we were to get such information from a book or a school. The media must therefore be aware of its strength and never do anything that will undermine the sovereignty and peace of the state. It shall exert all efforts to refrain from acts that will drag to reputation into public ridicule and condemnation.
No nation can truly boast of democracy in the absence of free speech. In doing so, freedom of speech and of the press should be at the top on the agenda of any government in pursuit of prosperity and democracy. We saw in times past, administrations that made free speech their enemy did so at their own risk, and soon did they realize they were becoming unpopular with their own people. Any leader who comes to power through the ballot not take for granted the power inherent in the ordinary people. Such leader should also know that power lies in the voice of the people. A leader who turns against freedom of speech wants to suppress the truth, but no matter how long the truth is trampled, it will certainly rise again.
The Liberian media has on a couple of occasions struggled to rise above unfair reactions and threats from this President and some officials of government. It can be recalled that statements from the President created panic and concern as Jonathan Paylayleh alarmed “threat.” It appears this government lacks the tolerance that the government of former President Sirleaf had which got people accustomed to expressing their views any time without fear. I am of the view that Liberia is still on the way to democracy. It terrifies me to know stakeholders lambast journalists whenever they report the truth. Any society that threatens critics, and does not encourage freedom of speech is unknowingly heading for failure.
President Weah’s administration has continued to falter since its inception. Several incidents of blunders and alleged corruption have emanated from trusted sources about this government’s performance. Incredible stories such as missing container of billions, the President’s abrupt expenditure on construction and reconstruction of his own properties, spending huge sum of money to invite the Nigerian national soccer team to play a retiring match are all but unnecessary actions I believe have entangled this government in so short a time. In addition, the appointment of incompetent individuals in government by President Weah is a decision that needs to be revisited.
The most recent incident of campaign violence which highlighted the involvement of Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee is one of the few cases bad enough to dampen President Weah’s domestic and foreign relations. It also identifies flaws in appointing people based on self-interest rather than on merit. Finally, the alarming increase in the number of protests across the country by aggrieved citizens speaks volumes of the prevailing economic hardship and a stressful journey this government will have to embark upon in the months to come.
Honestly, this administration of President Weah is under pressure to deliver its promises to the Liberian people, but it cannot do so without the support of the media. Therefore, it should create an environment that will allow freedom of speech and of the press without interference.
The international community is watching with resentful eye!