Dictatorship Redux: The CDC –led Government Clamp Down on the Media—Christopher Selle and Patrick Honnah’s Punch FM and TV Targeted
The threat on the life of Journalist Johnathan Paye-Layleh of the BBC for asking President Weah about his commitment to implement the TRC Report was not enough to demonstrate that the government of George Manneh Weah has exhibited a symptom of the reincarnation of a monstrous tyranny Liberians experienced in the history of their country. The insults, tantrums and bogus court order thrown at the Front Page Africa Newspaper of Journalist Rodney Sieh, a critical investigative journalist, was also insufficient to authenticate that indeed the Taylor’s agenda is back in full swing- a key promise made during the 2017 Election campaign by the estranged wife Jewel Howard Taylor) of the convicted war criminal.
The blacklisting of critical voices in the civil society, media, and opposition was not a sufficient signal to the global community that the emergence of a soccer dolt as President of Liberia with historical swindlers and unprincipled opportunists like Emmanuel Shaw, Charles Bright, Eugene Nagbe and etc. of the brutal NPFL cabal serving as his senior advisors is yet another scheme geared at confining the people’s hope of building a nation of shared values, equality and social justice for all and by all to the rubbish bin of history. The arbitrary arrest and incarceration of a Central Bank of Liberia’s worker (Alfred Cheeks) for allegedly disclosing to the public the details about the travel expenditure of President Weah was inadequate to indicate that the reintroduction of the dark days when government expended the resources of the people without transparency and accountability is alive and well.
In just six months, the rotten clique parading as a national government in Liberia has once again shown that it is nothing but an autocratic monster that is prepared to plunge an already dying republic into the abyss. This bankrupt farce which was imposed on the homeland by a national nightmare in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thinks that the only assurance for concealing her reckless plunder of the people’s resources is to install a political travesty which will use iron-fisted tactic to cow progressive elements into submission. They managed to intimidate and made few timid elements to genuflect into compromising their values and principles. Those elements have not only been consumed by the Weah’s syndrome but are also the latter-day praise singers of the parasitical state with all its apparatuses placed above the mass of people.
But there are some men with courage, conviction, and endurance who have refused to renounced ideal which are sacred to them. Therefore, they have elected to not prostrate before such a rapidly growing and scourging tyranny in Liberia. They vowed to use every democratic platform to expose the preponderance of social contradictions that are inundating the political sham in Liberia. Despite widespread sycophancy being practiced by the longtime and latter-day cheerleaders of the Weah’s kakistocracy, critical voices keep sparking the flames of indignation at a breeding dictatorship which has betrayed the trust of the mass of people. Their voices are the loudest against the two shady loan deals, President Weah’s refusal to declare his assets, and the President’s decision to simultaneously construct three exotic private properties within just three months of his presidency. They refused to remain silent on an anti-poor 2018/2019 draft budget, the unprecedented hyperinflation, President Weah acceptance of a private jet from the Burkinabe businessman Mr. Mohammadou Bounkounguo and etc. These men who have shown some characteristic of revolutionaries with national consciousness have sworn to uphold the tribune of freedom in anticipation of the dead body of tyranny at their feet.
The courage being exercised by these selfless citizens who cannot sit and allow their country perish has frightened the corrupt and rotten-to-the-core government of the false aristocracy in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). Not only that, the anger of the people in the slums and village communities has sent out a signal that the people’s consciousness for the necessity of change is not immutable but is rather in constant flux. These ones with their slanted understanding of the laws of change in nature, society and human thoughts ran with the myth that the people would have remained conservative for a very long period of time and would not give receptive ears to the cries of men who love for country surpasses their love for self. These new elites who are mixed with some old career racketeers like Shaw, Tyler, Bright and etc. were all out chest-beating about a 60year CDC/NPFL agenda.
Little did they know that the people were patient with William V.S. Tubman for 27years, but they could not tolerate William R. Tolbert for even nine years. The people were lenient with Samuel K. Doe for almost ten years, but could not guarantee Charles G. Taylor a space to even end his six-year mandate. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf enjoyed twelve years of uninterrupted reign as President of the republic. The contradictions this CDC gentry inherited from her in addition to the speedily growing flaws of the Weah’s regime might lead the people to not tolerate such national pariah for even three years. Within just six months, the small molecular changes below the surface of the regime are pushing towards the zenith. Instead of the rotten cabal having a sober reflection to roll out a revolutionary agenda aimed at resolving the social contradictions, it has unleashed a futile attempt to intimidate, suppress and censor perceived enemies and critical voices.
The latest victims are Big Brothers Patrick Honnah and Christopher Selle. Since January 10, 2017, the two media gurus had completed all legal requirements to establish Punch FM and TV for commercial and broadcasting purposes. After the announcement of the establishment of this media empire, solidarity of support flooded in from not only Liberia but also the diaspora. A fan club has been established as a way of gathering support for the business venture of the two nationalists who served in the erstwhile government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and supported Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai in the 2017 Presidential Election. Based on comments from not only supporters but also top officials of the government, in a nervous reaction to the establishment of PUNCH FM and TV, the two Liberians are being seen as enemies of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government.
Days after President Weah made a statement that critics of the government are enemies of the state just in days after the announcement of the establishment of PUNCH FM, an announcement which was met by spiteful reactions from officials of the government, the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, headed by Ex-NPFL rebel Eugene Nagbe, has announced through a press release, the suspension of all media licenses that were issued by MICAT since January 1, 2018. According to the release, the suspension of media licenses issued within the stated period is as the result of government “Reviewing the regulatory regime due to technical and administrative anomalies including duplication of frequencies to radio and television operators, and incorrect designations and submissions.” The release further stated that the “Review process will begin Wednesday June 20, 2018” and “following the review process new and appropriate frequencies including operating authorizations will be issued to media operators by MICAT and the LTA”.
This is a complete scheme designed to void the license of PUNCH FM and TV. The exercise mentioned in the release can be carried out without the suspension of media licenses. In fact, without indicating in the release the duration of this so-called review process and the lack of list of the targeted media entities, bring so many doubts to mine. For a six-month old regime to continue driving in such a sadistic direction signals that its wreck is imminent and inevitable. When he served as Minister of Information during the latter stage of the Sirleaf-led government, this same ex-rebel of Charles Taylor’s NPFL orchestrated almost similar scheme against the Voice FM 102.2 of Henry Costa and the LIB 24 105.1 of business man Benoni Urey. These were two radio stations that aired the critical and famous Costa Show. Henry Costa, the lead presenter of the breakfast show was a staunch critic of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s banditry.
Under the guise of frequency hacking, Voice FM was shut down in July of 2016. The station was never reopened, a situation which led Mr. Costa to transfer his talk show to LIB 24. After a period of one month, LIB 24 was shut down on claims of tax evasion. Although we had some fundamental disagreements with Mr. Costa and Mr. Urey, we did not join the stooges of the government to defend the tyranny unleashed on the free press. As followers of icons who championed the cause for democratic pluralism, we stood tall against elements like Eugene Nagbe for clamping down on media pluralism. This is the same tactic he has imported to the Weah government. I do not know the next step of the owners of PUCH FM. For us, we will not cry baby! These contradictions are necessary to create the motor force for the movement of the people into history. These elements think they have won. Like the True Whig Party oligarchy, the Doe’s despotism, the Taylor’s carnage and the Ellen’s open door thievery, the CDC bankruptcy will self-destruct and for us in the vanguard, we will not hesitate to be the midwives to deliver a society that is pregnant with change!
Moses Uneh Yahmia is a student of the University of Liberia. He studies Political Science and Economics major and minor respectively. He is also a cadre of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). He can be reached via [email protected] .
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