Reporter Association of Liberia First Caveat to Politicians, Media Owners
Monrovia – Ahead of the general and presidential elections in 2023, the Reporters Association of Liberia has issued a warning to lawmakers asking them to refrain from obstructing the members’ ability to report. In a press conference over the weekend, RAL President Willie N. Tokpah noted that news reporters play a crucial part in ensuring peaceful elections and that they shouldn’t be viewed as opponents for carrying out their duties. He advised reporters not to be intimidated by politicians as a whole and not to allow themselves to be used as instruments to advance any self-serving political interests of politicians because they are equally important and deserve a reasonable standard of living.
The RAL longest serving official was particular on the recent situation involving Front Page Africa Margibi County Correspondent, Yawah Jaivey, who recently went into hiding as a result of a recent report that exposed corruption at the CH Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County. Tokpah warned that the RAL will be left with no alternative, but to take an action, if information comes out about its members in said manner.
“We will not hesitate to take the needed actions if said instance repeats itself.”
Tokpah was also particular about some media managers who only see reporters as gadgets to embellish their status while refusing to provide them with a decent livelihood for them. He frowned at some owners of radio stations and newspapers, who continue to exercise “bad work habits” and refuse to respect the rights of reporters at their various offices.
Tokpah pointed fingers at the Owner of Kool FM, Christopher Hayes Onayonga, who reportedly abused the rights of one of his staff, William Howard, notifying Onayonga to desist said habit, stressing that the RAL will do its official communication to his office.
The RAL President has further vowed to remain committed in his advocacy for the rights of journalists across the country, stressing that his leadership will not tolerate any form of bad labor practices and inhumane treatment against any of its members.
”RAL remains committed to advocating for the rights of journalists across the country and will not tolerate any form of bad labor practices and inhumane treatment against any of its members.”
He also provided an update that his leadership has made it exactly one month and ten days since they were inducted into office as newly elected leaders of the RAL, craving the support of all of his members and goodwill media executives and owners.
“We crave your continued support in moving the RAL to the next level.”
The RAL President among other things said since they took over, their leadership has been working to fast-track new ideas including the Provision of the RAL Constitution, ID card, and record system among others.
“We believed that promises made should be implemented to the fullest, and we have our one-year Action Plan which speaks to several important issues including taking a tour across the country, setting up our database, and launching our website among others.”
He added that the requirement to involve partners in training prior to the general and presidential elections has also been incorporated into their one-year strategy. But, Mr. Tokpah reminded his colleagues that they had not received a formal transition note or a financial statement from the previous leadership since they assumed office as new leadership. He expressed the expectation that the new officials will receive the RAL Accounts as soon as possible to assist them in organizing their financial data.
He claims that the Secretary-General has not received any money from the previous administration despite having been ordered to negotiate with the Former President so that the accounts can be given over since the beginning of this month. Tokpah then reveals that although pledges totaling USD$41,000 were made during their leadership inauguration, they have only been able to collect a small sum of USD$3,000 from Commissioner Eugene Nagbe, who spoke as the guest speaker and promised to assist them in raising the whole amount within a month.
“We are hoping that the remaining of the said amount will be collected so we can provide you with proper accountability.”
Mr. Tokpa noted that the RAL is currently in search of a conducive office space and needs your help to get one for its official operations. He noted that his leadership has decided to work for the implementation of training for Journalists in the Urban and rural areas of the Country.
He noted that the new leadership is committed to decentralizing the RAL by appointing Coordinators in the fifteen counties. The leadership is also ready to tour the fifteen Counties and engage with journalists from all across the nation. Nonetheless, in accordance with the RAL Constitution, the RAL leadership has selected coordinators in each of Liberia’s 15 political sub-divisions to assist in coordinating RAL Activities in those counties.
Upper Montserrado, Prince Armah, and Lower Montserrado are the individuals appointed. Margibi County’s Patrick Dorbor Grand Bassa’s Emmanuel Sensee Bong County’s Alexander Gargar Piah -Christopher Fahn, Lofa County -Matalay Kollie, Nimba County -Kelvin Kollie, Bomi County Gabriel Parker, County of Rivercess River Gee County’s Aaron Geezay Grand Kru County’s Nathaniel Natty -Christopher A. Kumeh, Maryland County, Grand Gedeh-Hanford Badio Sinoe County’s Wellington Dennis Boakai B. Kamara, Jenneh Kemokai, Samuel King, and Grand Cape Mount.
The Association through President Tokpah also disclosed that in the coming weeks, there will be an appointment of Regional Coordinators for its various regions. Region One consists of Montserrado, Margibi, and Bassa, Region 2-Bomi, Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Region 3-Bong, Lofa, and Nimba, Region Four-Rivercess, Sinoe, and Grand Kru and Region 5-Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland
In keeping with article 14, Section: 1 of the RAL Constitution the leadership also announced members for the RAL Permanent Committee and their members.
The committee includes Membership, Program, Sport and Entertainment, Welfare, Grievance and Ethics, Executive, Intellectual Discourse, and Advisory. The RAL new leadership, however, encouraged reporters to work with the necessary committee to reactivate their membership which process comes as a whole package including Constitution, ID card, Registration, and Dues for one year.