Dr. Cassell Speaks Truth to Power -Decries Bad Governance; Enjoins Journalists to Expose Societal Ills
The political leader and vision bearer of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP) wants Liberian journalists to focus on governance and society and talk about the danger of corruption, bad governance, lawlessness, poor quality education, bad healthcare system, the utter disobedience to the separation of constitutional powers, impoverishment of the people, the rising insecurity obtaining in the state, impunity, the ineffectual nature of the legislature, the corruption in the judiciary amongst other abnormalities obtaining in Liberia; instead of selling out to the highest bidder within government.
Making his position clear on what he sees as the ills affecting the Liberian society, and the role of the media in either highlighting or abetting those ills, Dr. Daniel E. Cassell, addressing the 7th Convention of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) in Trenton, New Jersey, USA as keynote speaker during the weekend, said Liberian journalists must write and speak about these issues with conviction, passion, and vehemence for if these conflict- trigger incongruities are not dealt with adequately they can potentially lay the basis for conflict and war.
“Lest we forget, these were the very vices and egregious tendencies that plunged Liberia into a fifteen-year senseless bloodbath that crudely claimed the precious lives of hundreds of thousands of compatriots. These vices are once again marauding our nation and the Liberian people are witnessing another epoch of debauchery under the rulership of President George Weah,” decried the PLP political leader.
Speaking on the theme: “The Quest for an Independent, Sustainable, and Ethical Media in Liberia”, Dr. Cassell said Liberia is currently enduring what he termed as a “Vexing Paralysis” that has rendered every segment of the Liberian society to painfully nosedive to nothingness.
“Governance is quite dismal, to say the least. Health care is bad. Education is substandard, arguably the least in the sub-region. Roads are horrible. Electricity is inadequate and unreliable. Water is almost non-existent. No job creation. No foreign direct investments. Public transport is on the verge of collapse due to corruption and gross incompetence. The private sector is in the hands of Lebanese and Indians. Liberians are not in charge contrary to what Mr. Weah pledged to the Liberian people, that “they will not be spectators in their economy”. The economy is virtually weak as the balance of payment is very low. Transparency institutions are submerged into a functional coma because the Weah regime has no interest in accounting for state resources,” Dr. Cassell lamented.
These anomalous conditions besetting the country, Dr. Cassell stated, must claim the attention of the Liberian media and cause journalists to ask hard questions to those who are at the helm.
“What is wrong with the country? Why are Liberians starving? Why is the cost of living so ridiculously high? Why are lawmakers allotting US$30K plus more to themselves amid a decimating COVID-19 Health Crisis instead of directing funding to the health sector? Why is the cost to clear a 20-foot container at the Freeport of Monrovia outrageously astronomical? Why is the state-run University of Liberia lying in filth and professors underpaid? Why are teachers, nurses, police, and others serving our country underpaid? Why are road and building contracts being awarded to Lebanese in disregard for the PPCC laws and regulations? What became of the US$30 million stimulus package?” the PLP vision bearer wondered rhetorically.
“At this juncture in our national existence, I would like to respectfully admonish the Liberian media to summon the courage to move from “official sources” reporting to crusading and advocacy journalism with emphasis placed on the governance of the country and the well-being of the squalor-stricken Liberian masses.
“Ethical journalism begins with truth-telling. I am aware of the risk involved with ethical and critical journalism in Liberia and other African countries but if this is the profession one is called to perform, God will protect him/her and endow him/her with the wisdom to carry on insofar it is done with passion and genuineness. By the same token, I like to remind journalists that before becoming journalists, you were first citizens of Liberia and shall remain citizens of Liberia; suffice to say each of you has a patriotic duty to protect your country, stand against its mismanagement and abuse by nefarious leaders, for you are direct victims of bad governance”, he indicated.
“Today, we see unethical and compromised journalism on the rise because many claiming to be journalists in Liberia nowadays prefer GOLD over GOOD. Integrity is fast diminishing in the Liberian media. Truth-telling is being compromised for petty cash and material gifts. We are told some Journalists are proudly dining and winning with corrupt officials of the current government and sadly defaulting on their sacred duties to expose the ills permeating the homeland. Instead of being watchdogs, we are told that some Liberian media editors are taking monthly payments from public officials, ministries, and state enterprises to gate-keep and promote them. The question then lingers; who will protect the country from its disreputable officials if journalists are being paid by those looting and plundering their country? However, we are also aware that in the face of these temptations some journalists continue to stand tall and keep the touch of integrity flaming in their line of duties. I salute their courage to remain loyal to the sanctity of their noble journalism profession amid the devastating economic realities suffocating the homeland,” Dr. Cassell acknowledged, noting that ethical journalism begins with truth-telling.
The PLP Regime Way Forward
In view of the vexing paralysis problems that Liberia currently faces, Dr. Cassell informed that his political institution, the PLP, is of the ardent belief that Liberia can never be a wholesome functioning and civilized country without an independent, sustainable, and ethical media; and that Liberia cannot fight and minimize corruption and impunity, reduce poverty, ensure adherence to the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and good governance without a progressive, pragmatic, productive, and impartial media.
“This is why the PLP is solely committed to working with the Liberian media to build its capacity in terms of logistics, training, and in other critical areas primarily to strengthen and empower the Liberian media for the good of our nation. PLP under my visionary stewardship remains open to working with ALJA and PUL to identify possible opportunities to build the capacity of the Liberian media and may I say, please consider us a ‘willing partner comes asking’. We are no doubt cognizant of the harsh economic hardship in Liberia and the media is not spared, but realistically, the media cannot make money or improve in a country badly governed. The media cannot flourish when the economy is contracted, and businesses are unable to give ads to the media. The media cannot pay its workers fairly and regularly when there are no foreign companies to give huge ads. Journalists cannot make fair earnings if the media institutions they work for are broke and poor. If Liberia is governed well the economy will grow and bloom and the media will make money and journalists can become rich like lawyers, doctors, and engineers. Journalism is not a peasant profession as we see around the world. Media owners and journalists are millionaires right here in America and other parts of the world. That is why we cannot emphasize the urgent need for the media to use its power and influence to help Liberia get on the proper footing in terms of sound political and economic governance. This is why the PLP is seeking a viable partnership with the Liberian media primarily to ensure that the media is independent, sustained, and uncompromisingly unethical in playing the sacred role to which it is entrusted,” Dr. Cassell stated emphatically.
“Ladies and gentlemen; I am pleased to let you know that back home, we have forged a cordial working relationship with the PUL and several media houses. We do so not for a favor or to seek fame. We do so in acknowledgment of the critical role the media must play to right the wrongs in Liberia—and to ensure good governance in Liberia. We consider it a righteous obligation to engage the media on the pressing need to remain the fearless watchdog of the Liberian nation-state so that democracy works, rule of law is adhered to, corruption and impunity rattled, transparency and accountability are institutionalized, democracy and civil liberties protected, holding the rulers of the country to account for their stewardship becomes a national tradition and regiment, ensure power and state services are decentralized and devolved on to the people, to protect minorities and promote diversity and religious tolerance. We also challenge the media to put us under the spotlight in our quest for national leadership.
Providing a summary of his political institution’s vision for Liberia, Dr. Cassell said the PLP is set to improve the socio-economic conditions of its citizenry through the good health care system, standardized educational system, job creation, economic empowerment, and other effective retirements; take meaningful steps to curb official corruption and institute accountability, transparency in the system of government, effectively and efficiently harness national resources, and avoid waste and plunder; and improve and prioritize civil liberties and ensures security for all our compatriots irrespective of the political alignments.
Explaining further, the PLP political leader said his party’s vision and agenda include ensuring adherence to the rule of law, and ensuring that the justice system works for all; discourage the perennial menace of impunity; improve on good governance and build public trust and confidence; emphasize and ensure meritocracy and competence in the governing system; promote peace, unity, inclusion, and oneness amongst its citizenry; protect minorities, promote diversity and religious tolerance; prioritize youth and women; and provide educational opportunities to include vocational training for young people, empower and protect girls and women in every respect.
Dr. Cassell said the media has a crucial role to play in ensuring that PLP meets its goals and vision, a quest that demands a solid partnership between the PLP and an independent, sustainable, pluralistic, and ethical media to help the PLP ensure socioeconomic dignity for all Liberians, and not just few of the citizenry.
“Together, we along with you, the media, can accentuate our country to nobler heights and put some sense of pride and dignity on our dear people,” Dr. Cassell emphasized.
Although being one of the latest accredited political institutions in Liberia, the People’s Liberation Party has been making serious development in-roads in the country, evidenced by the cultivation of 650 acres farm land in Margibi County; the provision of financial aid through scholarships to students across Liberia; the provision of medical supplies to hospitals and clinic across Liberia; the provision of financial assistance to women and girls found within the Maternity Center of various clinics and hospitals across Liberia; the construction of feeder roads across the country; the rehabilitation and construction of markets across Liberia; the construction of modern hand pumps, as well as the construction of modern bridges across Liberia, connecting towns and villages.
Dr. Cassell, through his Humanitarian Foundation, has also launched the “Liberation Transport Service” that now provides the cheapest transport service in the country.
The native of northern Liberia’s Lofa County established his “Operation Feed Liberians” in June 2020, targeting the feeding of the most needy across Liberia, including persons with disabilities, orphans, widows, marginalized, disenfranchised, less fortunate personalities and slum community dwellers.
Although a devout Christian, Dr. Cassell continues to identify with all Liberians across the religious spectrum, providing humanitarian and financial support to Churches and Mosques on a regular basis.
The PLP vision bearer and political leader earned his doctorate degree in Clinical Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine from Northcentral University in Prescott, Arizona. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania and a License Clinical Drugs and Alcohol Counselor (LCADC) in New Jersey.
He is the President and Founder of the Dr. Cassell’s Foundation, Kwenyan Security Guard, Inc. and Kweyan and Associates Group of Companies-Farming, medical Services, etc. in Liberia; as well as the Kwenyan Professional Health Services, LLC and Kwenyan & Associates based in the United States. He is happily married to Mrs. Bindu Coleman Cassell, with the union being blessed with wonderful children.