OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT AND LEADERSHIP OF THE PRESS UNION OF LIBERIA
Press Union of Liberia
Dear Mr. President
Thank you for accepting my courtesy visit three days ago. During that brief visit, I expressed to you the frustration that I and many media practitioners in Liberia are having because of the unexplained unwillingness of President George Weah and his media team to create a situation where he (the President) would from time to time speak to and hear from the Liberian people through organized press conferences. It’s been more than a year and a half since President George Weah assumed the presidency of our country; but it saddens me that a president who, in the runoff polls, was elected by fourteen of the fifteen counties, has shown total reluctance to speak to and hear from the people through regular press conferences.
Leaders speak to their people through the media and the people also put their concerns before their leaders through the media. It is hard to understand why the president’s media team has failed since his incumbency to organize press conferences which would serve as a medium of exchange between the president and the media.
President George Weah has not had a single organized press conference since coming to power. Not one.
In view of this, Mr. President (PUL), I think your leadership should respectfully initiate a process through which the President of Liberia would be invited regularly to address the media at different forums and then be asked very serious questions on national issues, including his ongoing projects, happenings in and pronouncements coming from the presidency. We need to know certain things. Perhaps, the Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum of the PUL could have a component that would invite the President to speak.
The people that he leads need to know details of happenings in their country and communities. And this is possible only through press conferences where questions are asked. Relying solely on carefully-worded and heavily-crafted and edited press statements from the presidency, in my opinion, does not fill in the gap.
Besides the right to know, my fear is, in a country where people virtually live and feed on rumors, the president’s failure to hold press conferences to explain his policy and undertakings could leave the running of Liberia to sorts of interpretations. This does not help him.
There are just so many things that are still not clear and put to rest and need clarity through the media. For example, the nation needs to know where we are with the $25m dollar mop-up money and the LD$16 billion issues. President Weah will not be doing us any favor if he speaks to the public through us — the media community. As an employee of the Liberian people, he has to speak regularly to his employers through the press.
Mr. President, once again I encourage your leadership to initiate this process of engaging the President of Liberia to talk to the media because from all indications this may never happen if you were to wait on the President’s press and media team to act.
Thank you so kindly.
Member, Press Union of Liberia
Former Chairman, Press Club, Press Union of Liberia
Former Chairman, PUL’s Grievance and Ethics Committee
Main Photo: Jonathan Paye-Layleh