Piah Takes Over MICAT -Lays Out Plan for Vibrant Culture and Tourism

MONROVIA: The newly appointed Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), Jerolinmek Mathew Piah has taken over the mantle of authority from outgoing Minister Ledgerhood Julius Rennie in what is considered an elaborate program with Minister Piah laying his work platform and saying the progress of the country is contingent on change in the minds and attitudes of the people.

The new minister of MICAT indicated that Liberians are wicked to each other, pointing out that the people of this country seemingly do not subscribed to the rule of law.

Cheered by the employees of the Ministry, Mr. Piah also guaranteed that whatsoever infringes on their welfare also will be his priority to resolve, indicating, “Those things that affect your wellbeing is at the core of my heart.”

The minister started his address to the audience at the well-attended occasion held in front of the Ministry by historicizing the law that created the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

“The Ministry was established by a PRC Decree #46 and it sets forth a number of responsibilities.” The Ministry provides leadership for the Cultural and tourism sectors of the country as some of its responsibilities while functioning as the clearing housing for the all information regarding government policies to the public.                   .

But Minister Piah said the world has changed much over the years since that time and we are in an era of information technology where news, gossips, fake and propaganda spread faster, adding that notwithstanding the reality today, giving the truth is under this changed landscape that will be leading communication.

Besides, Piah divulge news of plan by the Boakai administration to make tourism viable. “In addition to this change, we are creating a strategic plan that will attract tourists to Liberia while at the same time, we are preparing for the establishing of the National tourism authority,” he said.

He noted that it is the President’s Legislative Agenda to establish National Tourism Authority and that it will be his responsibility to help the President work with the Legislature to pass that instrument that will create the National Tourism Authority.

“But here is my kind and candid advice, if you think that you will sit your corner and believe that creating the National Tourism Authority will mean the transformation of the tourism sector, you are getting it wrong.”

Warning that portraying our country as a chaotic environment will bring no tourist to Liberia, the onetime deputy minister at MICAT and then former Presidential Press Secretary asserted, “When we wake up in the morning, we block streets across the city; when we moved into concession areas, we lead protests. We are so wicked to each other that when we wake up in the morning, we find dead bodies into our places; we have no regard for the rule of law.”

According tom, “If we don’t change our minds and attitude, this country will not make progress.”

He then touch on his plans to book the cultural sector, stating that he will partner with all cultural institutions in Liberia, the council of elders, traditional council leaders and chiefs to design the structure for the Liberian culture domestically.

“Politics is in everything that functions. We want to give attention to things based on what they are. Who amongst you will question the innovation, the smartness of cultural Ambassador Julie Andee” he questioned.

“This madam,” Minister Piah said, “was not appointed to a government position, operated based on government budget, neither did she receive salaries from Government.”

He intoned that the ambassador title she carries is an honorary title bestowed upon her by former President Taylor, who did the when he conferred upon Marron Duah Cassel the title of a music ambassador; “But I don’t hear a lot of noise about her.” He said.

The Minister said he does not understand while the noise is around Ambassador Andee, wondering whether it is it because of Andee’s innovation.

“Shouldn’t we tap into her expertise?  Shouldn’t we use her expertise to revive our national culture troop to the level it should be,” he further asked.

He said the National Culture Troop (not the the Crusader for Peace of Ambassador Andee) is the symbol of our cultural value and added that his administration will continue to support the troop.

“But here is the story.  We have their place at Keneja – who doesn’t know about Keneja? People listen to Fatu Gayflor, Saye Tetee, and all these people. Where did they come from? The National Culture Troop,” he replied himself rhetorically, stating, “We destroyed where they were in the name of having a resort.”

He recalled that “Instead of building another place for them, we did not do so, and so that story came to a sad end.”

Piah then made a commitment to support the National Culture Troop.   “I want to commit that surely, the culture troop will be a priority of the Ministry of Information under my watch.”

In closing, he promised as Chairman of the Board of the Liberia Broad casting Station to support the state broadcaster, promising the folks at the LBS, “Redemption has come.”

He said President Boakai has promised him that he will change that history. “We will support government communication sector,” he said.

He then spoke to the issue of low salaries paid workers of MICAT, stating that the story have to change.

If we in the big offices are taking pay, why can’t you workers take pay to be able to take care of your families too,” questioned as the workers gave him a huge applause, assuring them that his doors will always be opened to you and his ears will always be opened to them for suggestions as he considers them the foundation of the Ministry

Earlier, he thanked God first and I thank the President for preferring him as his Minister of Information. “And I am grateful for the confidence reposed in me.”

He pointed out that MICAT is a familiar territory and traced the beginning of his public sector service to his return from exile as a student leader.

Taking the Podium first, outgoing Information Minister Leggerhood Rennie said the Liberia Government has not been prioritizing communication and the media, which he reminded the government, is  not as an activity but a reform period to enhance national reform agenda.

“Too often a time governments fail to exhibit the will power to approach communication and media as a front runner of national development. Through different stages of the national development plans carved, there has been nothing to do with any aspect of communication.

Rennie observed that no aspect of communication is included in the national development plans of the government, adding that, “This is the reason why… strangers come and tell Liberia’s story of how we rule our country from its prewar stage to post war stage and now the stage of national government.”  He maintained that the Liberian story is not told by Liberian communicators and media because media people, especially in the public sector, who are responsible to tell the story are not given what it takes to do the kind of work they ought to do.

He remembered that there are those who are saying that there should not be a Ministry of Information and that the debate is behind there, but added, “In a post conflict country like Liberia, if we do not strengthened public information mechanism, we run the risk of scarifying everything, we run the risk of being behind the curve”

He said everybody with a cell phone is a journalist, communicator, and that the government media people will not be telling the story, 24 hours, or 48 hours after the story has gone.

“There are online outlets and a lot of channels, but we have to bring trained and professional people to do the work.”

He then congratulated incoming Minister Jarolimek Mathew Piah and wished him well.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Julie Endee gowned both outgoing and incoming Ministers for the roles over the years.

1 Comment
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