A Liberian Journalist, Jonathan Paye-Layleh has expressed concern over what he considered as the failure by the President George M. Weah to address salient national issues in the independent media when he said: 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.
In his letter of August 12, 2019 addressed to the PUL President Charles Coffey, Paye-Layleh said he and other media practitioners in Liberia are concern because of the unexplained unwillingness of President George Weah and his media team to create a situation where 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,” Journalist Paye-Layleh noted
“Leaders speak to their people through the media and the people also put their concerns before their leaders through the media,” the journalist pointed out; saying, “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, Paye-Lay-leh accentuated, “has not had a single organized press conference since coming to power. Not one.”
He then suggested, “In view of this, Mr. President of the Press Union of Liberia (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.”
He believes that journalists need to know certain things, and surmised that 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 were 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,” Paye Lay-leh opined.
He said besides the right to know, his 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,” he said.
He thinks there are just so many things that are still not clear 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,” he indicated.
He clarifies the basis of this concern when he noted: 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.