MONROVIA – Though much of the toxic national political policies that had undermined unfettered journalistic activities in Liberia for decades are cured with a number of policy actions, including decriminalizing draconian laws, enormous challenges still remain, and the need for a robust, level-headed and forthright leadership to navigate journalists’ umbrella organization, the Press Union of Liberia, is urgent. And in a few days’ time, members of the Union will decide the next course of direction that this long pro-democracy activist organization would take. Two camps have emerged so far, and as The Analyst reports, they have been unveiling their platforms and rallying members.
Ahead of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) presidential and general elections, the two blocs vying for the leadership of the Union are reaching out to colleagues to sell themselves.
Kanubah’s Six-Pillar Plan
Mr. Julius K. Kanubah, a presidential aspirant on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 officially launched his campaign and national headquarters at a colorful program witnessed by some members of the media fraternity, supporters and well-wishers on 11th street, Sinkor.
In his introductory statement at the ceremony, Romeo Togba of the ECOWAS RADIO who is the spokesman for Kanubah ticket elaborated on the transformation plans that his principal seeks to bring to the PUL, citing his consistent initiatives and developmental works, and a transition that will accentuate the principles and values of the journalism profession in Liberia.
He added that they are not just unveiling their candidate, but a national headquarters that will be used and served as a symbol of the renaissance to the Press Union of Liberia which is one of the most vibrant and respectable institutions of the country.
During the ceremony, Kanubah revealed his electoral manifesto anchoring on a vision, “Bringing credibility, integrity and dignity to PUL, the Media and Liberian Journalists”
The document addressing some salient issues in PUL such as the Challenges and Opportunities said that after 58-years of existence, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is in a dire and troubling state, adding that the Union has lost its moral voice in society and that the current leaders of the Union have failed to demonstrate accountability and responsibility.
“The construction of the Headquarters of the PUL remains a long unfilled promise. The Union has failed to pursue and accelerate increased support to women in journalism, media and communication,” the Document noted.
“The current leaders of the Union have perpetrated a system of exclusion and marginalization of journalists in the Counties and Regions. Disunity, detachment and disengagement from the Union by journalists and media workers in Monrovia and across Liberia have become the norm because of unresolved conflicts and lack of quality leadership.”
The Kanubah manifesto also state that the current leaders of the Union have grossly failed to initiate negotiations and reach agreements on improved salaries for journalists and media workers.
“The current leaders have neglected addressing the health of journalists through a health insurance scheme. Current leaders of the Union have not endeavored to constructively work with the Government of Liberia, private sector actors and civil society to link the struggling media economy to the larger economy.
“The Union essentially suffers from institutional-human capacity deficits. The future of the PUL is worryingly uncertain. Addressing the myriad of problems confronting the PUL and the media requires a strong-willed character with a vision and bold programs of reforms aiming to bring credibility, integrity and dignity to the PUL and the media.
“The Julius Kanubah Manifesto for the PUL presents a unique opportunity to “Reset” and “Make the PUL Great Again.” What does Mr. Kanubah want to do for the Union?”, the part of the document read.
The manifesto which introduced Julius Kanubah as an internationally educated and experienced media practitioner with specialist understanding of development and governance, journalism and media, and rural development and natural resource management, announced its Six-Pillar AGENDA: “To meaningfully transform and institutionally develop the PUL when elected”, among which are Accountable Leadership, Impartial Advocacy, Construction of Press Union of Liberia Headquarters, Support for the of Women in Journalism, Media and Communication, Media Development and Formation of Media Hubs in the Counties and Regions of Liberia.”
It states: “The Kanubah leadership will implement the six-pillar agenda through constructive consultations and engagements with and active involvement of Media Practitioners, Media Development Organizations, Local and International Donors. This would also entail making public pronouncements on critical national issues and organizing financial and material resource mobilization activities locally and globally.”
The Kanubah team also announced that it will place high premium on the construction of the national headquarters of PUL and will devise means of achieving it.
“Headquarters project is a key priority of the Julius Team. The Team is resolved to finally construct the PUL Headquarters by mobilizing resources internally from individual and institutional members of the Union and externally from public and private sector actors including media development organizations, Government of Liberia, donor partners, embassies, Diaspora-based media entities and practitioners, and goodwill institutions.
“Establish a Special Resource Mobilization and Project Implementation Committee of credible media, Government and civil society actors for PUL Headquarters construction”, the document said.
Team Daniel-Bettie Kicks Off Campaign
The rival bloc, headed by incumbent Vice President Daniel Nyankonah vying for the President, also unveiled its ticket which it said “comprised of dedicated and astute media professionals who have committed a massive portion of their career to promote and protect media freedom, mentoring young journalists, and fostering the spirit of camaraderie in the media community of Liberia”.
At the impressive unveiling ceremony on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at the offices of the Prime Communications Network Inc., Daniel Nyakonah who is the current Vice President of the PUL was announced as the presidential candidate while his running mate is Madam Bettie Johnson-Mbayo and Messrs Akoi M. Baysah and Julius Konton will be contesting as Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General respectively.
Mr. James P. Kwabo Jr., who read the statement on behalf of the team, noted that the decision to form the team is aimed at ensuring a birth of a united leadership that has a mixture of freshness, experience, integrity, and commitment to the media community.
According to Kwabo, Presidential Aspirant Nyakonah has served the PUL for more than a decade committing a significant portion of his career to keep the Union strong and vibrant despite many odds, adding that he and his team are bringing a renewed vigor to the Presidency with a clear understanding of the problems and solutions.
“The team will work tirelessly to transform the union from within,” Mr. Kwabo said.
He further said it is no secret that the likes of Nyakonah, Madam Johnson-Mbayo, Akoi and Konton bring to the PUL’s leadership commitment to press freedom, integrity, and transparency, stressing that the Team has proven to be trusted media professionals who are dedicated to serving the Union.
“We implore your support and ask you to vote for this team of committed leaders and make the relevant transformation we all want,” Mr. Kwabo told the gathering.
In his special statement, Daniel Nyakonah expressed excitement by the naming of the campaign team and said it will be supervised by a team of dedicated people.
“We are not trying to remake the PUL,” he said, adding: “We are continuing from where Mr. Coffey stops as we celebrate his success today, tomorrow we are working to improve the challenges thereof.”
He assured colleagues that his team is running on commitment to the Union and building on the already acquired experience to transform the PUL.
He said his first 100 days will commit to consultation across the country on the construction of the Union’s headquarters from a public private partnership with the government.
Speaking further, he said his time with the PUL has an attendant impact and that impact comes with experience to accomplish the education he has acquired. He bragged that no one can challenge him when it comes to media development in the country. He urged his supporters to go out and campaign clean.
Also making a brief statement, Madam Johnson-Mbayo, Vice Presidential Candidate, also assured Liberia journalists that their team is for transformation.
She pleaded with all journalists across the country to vote team Daniel-Bettie looking at the institutional worth of commitment.
Earlier, in separate remarks, several speakers described Daniel as someone who has been in the vanguard of the Union and that he is the man best suited for the post.
They said the Union is a place of sacrifice and Daniel is always willing to serve.
Supporters of the Daniel team encouraged their fellow colleagues to work seriously so that they will move to Gbarnga to elect team Daniel-Bettie.
Meanwhile, Team Daniel-Bettie has named several media professionals to its campaign team preparatory to the ensuing elections.