A former Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia, Jacob N.B. Parley, is cautioning well-meaning members of the Union to desist from endorsing people who have ambition for the Union’s various positions ahead of the electoral process in November this year, stressing that while he recognizes the constitutional right people have to begin such process, there was a need to caution his fellow PUL members to slow down a bit on grounds that it is too early to begin throwing weight behind would-be officials because there may be other potential individuals who may be having similar interest.
According to Parley who also served as the first Media Alert Officer of the PUL from 2017 to early 2019, the best thing for any well-meaning member of the PUL to do is to wait until the full line up of aspirants is released or known.
“I respect the rights of colleagues who have begun using their various platforms, including the airwaves and the social media to make comments that point to hasty endorsement of people they seem to believe in, but when the list starts to swell, keeping some of these early pre-campaign statements of support may suffer serious drawback,” the former PUL official said.
He said his experience from PUL elections shows that people’s failure to keep initially-made statements of support always put them against their colleagues, thereby leading to all kinds of characterizations such as “traitor”, “deceitful friend”,etc.
He said the political process, whether at the level of PUL or national scene, appears to be a game of many participants, with some using honesty as the bargaining chip while others adopt the approach of deception, falsehood and dishonesty.
The PUL former official said all he is trying to highlight in his analysis of the political process is not to adjudge anyone unfairly, but to simply point to the fact that every participant in the political process, whether at the level of the Press Union of Liberia or the national scene has the right to subscribe to either of the few schools of thought based on such individual’s orientation.
In the midst of some people describing politics as a game of deception, Parley said people are aware that he has always tried as much as possible not to lead a life of deception and dishonesty in his interactions with fellowman, including PUL elections since he started voting during the Union’s election in 2002.
He said his comments are informed by increasing concerns for the past few months, especially from those who still recognize and know him as one who bears what it takes to move the Press Union of Liberia ahead, including his boldness, principle-mindedness, the ability to take high core decisions in the interest of the media community during testing times,etc.
“This is a decision or choice that I will make very soon after consultations, because such a decision entails giving up certain things and keeping some afloat,” he added.
The current Communications Director at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said his ambition for the PUL leadership is not inordinate as some critics may be thinking, but said in life, when people who see certain enviable attributes in you keep knocking at your door, it is advisable to respond.
“I took part in PUL elections three good times; won all the debates, but won one time(vice president), lost twice and every time these results were announced, it was shocking to many civil society actors here and beyond our borders, the fact that a debate is a major determinant in any modern electoral process, especially for an organization that mirrors others in society,” Mr. Parley indicated.
Mr. Parley said little did he realize that those who keep engaging him about the PUL election have not forgotten that in 2009, while acting as President of the Union, there was pressure from the government to close down the New Broom Newspaper for alleged ethical breach.
He said there were those who thought that he could be used to close down the paper for a reward (job or money) since he (Parley) was at the same time serving as an editorial staff at the Liberia Broadcasting System.
“Jacob, you made us proud when you demonstrated your principle-mindedness and boldness when you resisted the temptation of bowing to press from external forces in exchange for any personal benefit to support the closure of the New Broom Newspaper,” some of my admirers told me recently in Central Monrovia.
According to the PUL former official, the scenario being referenced was indeed tempting, but said what he saw fit was to subject the New Broom Newspaper to internal investigation in the context of the Peer Review Mechanism, instead of collaborating with the government to close down the local daily.
He said it was equally disappointing that some people did not take note of and even make it an issue of investigation for the two-PUL officials, not employed with a government-owned entity like the Liberia Broadcasting System for the issuance of a unilateral statement, calling for the closure of the New Broom.
Mr. Parley said realizing that the preparation of the press release was unilateral and did not represent the Union’s position on the matter, he quickly called on the media community in Liberia not to publish it.
“My appeal to our colleagues, mainly publishers and media gate-keepers quickly neutralized that premature press release, believed by many journalists to have been influenced by cash after dispatched agents from government circles failed to get me over for what would have been a dangerous precedence under my watchful eyes as acting head of the PUL at the time,” Parley added.
However, the veteran Liberian journalist said he was totally disappointed once more when one of the PUL officials who secretly wrote the release, calling for the closure of the New Broom Newspaper was rewarded with a higher position during the Union’s election in 2010,while he(Parley) who stood the test of time to defend the rights of journalists lost the race.
He said up to now, he respects the decision of the voters and therefore holds nothing against any one, except that press freedom defenders, political pundits, including civil society actors here and out of Liberia who followed the situation involving the New Broom Newspaper and the government and his stance at the time while serving as acting head of the Press Union of Liberia were deeply concerned about the defeat of an individual who stood up against the Union being penetrated by external forces through undemocratic means.