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Friday, June 21, 2024

LIBERIA’S PRESS UNION GOES TO CRUCIAL ELECTIONS AMID LOOMING UNRESOLVED ISSUES…

Date:

Flashback: Jubilating journalists in voting moods during the PUL’s elections 2019  

A Patriot’s Diary with Ekena Wesley

Liberia’s media umbrella group has come of age. Since September 1964. What have we got to show? Like Liberia, age is symbolically, structurally, systematically, and holistically counterproductive as it were. The Press Union Liberia has seen leaders come and go while dividends continue to remain unthinkable. Formed to fundamentally protect journalists; the PUL needs to do more than just its consistent pattern of issuing press releases or assembling its members to participate in workshops.

When we (PUL) protect journalists’ interests, we do that by advocating for better working conditions. By protecting journalists, we endeavor to create an enabling working environment that empowers journalists to be independent, vibrant, and enterprising. We have heard time without a number of empty speeches or rhetoric about winning votes to make a difference. Once the votes translate into victory, the relevance of various candidates’ speeches becomes obsolete.

Ever since ‘hell was a pub’ – the Union’s unappealing headquarters on Clay Street in Monrovia has played host to our administrative activities. At 56, the PUL is yet to be housed in a befitting facility. It is woefully incomprehensible why we haven’t made any significant progress to change the course of history. Perhaps, we are all to blame for either not holding our leaders’ feet to the fire or demanding greater accountability.

More than a decade ago, attempts were made to construct new headquarters for the union in the Sinkor enclave. A questionable donation of US$100,000.00 disappeared under unexplained circumstances. A craze that started upon the takeover of Peter Quaqua’s leadership became eclipsed by the trimmings of leadership brouhaha. What was initiated as some kind of foundation work on the site had initially inspired many that at long last hope was on the horizon. That hope soon fizzled under an unfathomable aura.

No audit has so far been carried out in an organization that is at the center of being the watchdog but failed to clean its own mess. Nothing stops any audit from taking place. The PUL needs to clear its name. If the controversial donation was intended to construct new headquarters – that never was, we reserve the right to know. Whoever wins the upcoming elections must make it a point to conduct a forensic and comprehensive audit of the Union. We cannot continue to sweep everything under the carpet in the name of “Liberia is a small country. Everyone is related to this person or that person.”

If the media or press must be in the vanguard of demanding probity and accountability from the governors, the imperative is to live by example. We must be a good example of the doctrine of self-criticism, as a basis to justify our actions to call on the government to be more accountable. Let he that is without sin cast the first stone, folks. A rare challenge to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL.

As we prepare for the forthcoming crucial elections, we must be clear about what we want and hope to achieve. The elections ostensibly are bound to be frosty because it is a reflection of a human institution involved in a competitive campaign process. Journalists qualified to vote must ask themselves a number of fundamental questions as they brace themselves for the polls. What do we expect of any new leadership? What change must we expect? What is at stake? Should we continue to empower leaders simply in the name of issuing press releases and conducting workshops? What are the prospects for making redundant the union’s Clay Street office? What is in it to improve journalists’ conditions of service? Do we want change merely in the name of change? These and many more should engross our sensitivity, comrades.

Our votes count but they will only genuinely count when we truly reflect holistically in order to set the course for a new trajectory for the Union and its members. PUL @ 56 cannot continue to be a matter of number. We demand concrete actions. Let not the votes of scores of journalists turn out to be one of those things again. Liberian journalists deserve better! Whoever gets elected must realize that it should be a binding duty and commitment to serve the greater good. Best of luck at the polls! Let’s be the true agents of change we espouse to make the Press Union a better place.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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