By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
One of the bones I always pick about this government is its poor communication system. As I have repeatedly said, this does not mean that it does not have qualified or competent people in this sector, but this can be contributed to the lack of coordination, cooperation and strategies. As a result of this embarrassing situation, every Dick, Tom and Harris in government intermittently usurp the functions of the Chief Spokesperson of the government, thus giving contradicting statements.
Disgustingly, the situation is such that it can be likened to the figurative expression of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” which literally means that when too many persons are doing a single thing, like putting in the ingredients for a special dish, and there is no better coordination. Obviously this would not produce the desired results or the sweetness expected. This expression is sometimes phrased as, “too many cooks spoil the broth.”
Today I try to speak figuratively to welcome the appointment by President George Manneh Weah, of one of Liberia’s youngest journalists, Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, as we say positively in Liberia, ”like father like son,” the son of a former renowned broadcaster, as the new Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism.
Frankly, when I heard about the nomination of “LEDGEE,” as he is affectionately called, I was so filled with ecstasy because I admired the activities of this young man over the years and his growth in the profession. And so to see him ascend to such a challenging post, is welcoming. Initially, I thought he was the youngest to ascend to such a post. But later I gathered that he is even older than his predecessor, his buddy-Lenn Eugene Nagbe.
My happiness about his preferment was not because he replaced ‘Eugene,’ but his appointment and that of Mr. Nagbe, also a seasoned journalist, as the new Commissioner for Maritime, proved a point in the journalism profession that, “journalism is the multiplicity of other disciplines,” meaning that the profession prepares one adequately to face other challenges or professional calling. So for Mr. Nagbe, I can put my neck on the “chopping board” that he would justify his inclusion, as footballer, like him would say. In fact, one of the4 hallmarks of good journalism is “teamwork, which I believe if exercised by Mr. Nagbe would immensely help him to succeed.
Admittedly, LEDGEE” is one of the precocious young persons I have admired in this profession from his days at the formerly Catholic-run RADIO VERITAS, which he later headed. I am aware that coming from the state broadcaster as its Director General, he is au courant or conversant with what it takes to work for the government. That is, he is not a stranger to this aspect of communication. But where he has gone is a preferment that entails a lot of responsibilities and talking. Not just talking, but responsible and matured talking. Automatically, by this status, he is the “Chief Spokesperson of the Liberian Government.”
It is based on this aspect of his job that I have decided to communicate this advisory piece as he embarks on this herculean challenge. This thing is not about the “Age Of Methuselah,” but the “Wisdom of Solomon”. I say this to say that although he is young, he possesses what it takes to effectively and efficiently run the Ministry.
But to do so, he MUST “put his feet down,” as figurative expression which means to be firm, focused and more importantly, “LEDGEE” must ensure that no man born of a women would attempt to usurp his function, as was seen during the tenure of the former Minister, but could not out rightly speak against it for reasons best known to him, apparently, as I feel, because he was between the scissors or the rock and the hard place, especially, as someone from the previous regime.
Mr. new Minister, no one can rule out the fact that there are officials of government who are friends or buddies of Minister Rennie; notwithstanding, he must be frank and draw the line of demarcation when it comes to friendship and official functions, especially as it relates to the statutory function of the Ministry, or else, his office would be undermined and that he would become a laughing stock or a ship without a compass.
Today, Mr. Minister, you find yourself in the middle or nucleus of what is known in geometry as “Equilateral Triangle-“ meaning an office with three equal compartments or components -INFORMATION, CULTURE and TOURISM.” With all of these, it imposes a great challenge to you. But I am confident that with your level of experience and vast training both at home and abroad, you are well suited and placed to perform the triangular task as Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism.
As it is said, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Therefore, LEDGEE, as a sound product of the Mass Communication Department at the University of Liberia, we are proud of you, Howbeit, take up this task with commitment, dedication and hard work. You have reached the pinnacle or zenith of government’s information/communication service. You have crossed the Rubicon and there is no turning back; Press forward for success and achievements.
As you said on the Facebook over the weekend that it is your pledge that “God as your principal guide,” you would “work with diligence, loyalty and patriotism.” But in whatever you do, as the “Chief Cook,” you MUST desist any attempt by anyone, whether your buddies or not, from usurping your official functions, something that is common around here. As was popularized during the Charles Taylor’s regime, “let the sky be your limit.”
Again, this is not about age. Handle issues with maturity, civility and humility. “LEDGEE” I am aware that the various government’s ministries and agencies, have information or communication officers, but beware that you are the “CHIEF GATEKEEPER” or “CLARING HOUSE” when it comes to serious policy matters or important issues relative to the function of the government.
Yes. I respect the rights of officials to comment on national issues, regrettably, because some of them are not schooled in the craft or art, they only add insult to injury, pour petro on a furnace or say nothing substantive but tautology, a term I learned as a child growing up in New Kru Town.
Bravo junior brother. To end it vernacularly, I say, “TARTOE (thank You for your preferment ) or ABESIOH” (We Thank God for your preferment).
I Rest My Case.