By Emmanuel wise Jipoh
Defense Minister (Rtd.) Major General Prince C. Johnson, III, has identified “Fake News” as one of the key enemies, hindering the growth of democracy in Liberia.
Minister Johnson underscored that democracy in Liberia will only move forward if Liberians, including national authorities and Journalists, are resolved to stop the spread of Fake News on the Internet, which is critical to driving the nation’s peace.
He made the observation recently during the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) 67th Day Symposium held on the topic: “The Armed Forces Commitment to Sustainable Democracy in Contemporary Time.”
He said the expansion of terrorism in Africa and the spread of Fake News are few enemies preventing Liberia’s democratic process from moving forward, and they require a collective effort to address them.
The Minister noted that Liberia is not the only country facing these challenges, as they have become global issues, so there is an urgent need for intervention.
“All we need to do is to work together as a team to stop the spread of Fake News. Nowadays we have people who just jump up; get on people’s names and say all types of things without receiving any form of information. This must have to stop”.
He warned that it is time Liberia starts taking drastic steps not only to identify such enemies but to name and shame them.
“If we start to name and shame, those people who are politicians close to power, saying things that are not true, and start to identify those journalists who are lying and don’t give them prominence by appearing on their show, ” I can assure you, we will stop the spread of Fake News, but if we keep given them credence, our democracy wouldn’t move forward.”
He stressed that Liberia needs to accelerate work to keep pace with the challenging threat while cracking down on the rise of ‘fake news’ which is crucial for the future of the country’s democracy and must be addressed even though it would be a difficult task.
In his keynote address, Mr. Eddie D. Jarwolo, Executive Director of Naymote Partners for Democracy Development, stressed the need to prioritize soldiers’ welfare, which he said is vital to protecting and sustaining democracy.
Mr. Jarwolo told participants that the darling men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia are the ones to protect and defend the interests of the state, therefore, they must be well taken care of.
He expressed his deepest gratitude and appreciation for sacrifices made by those who have dedicated their lives to defending the civil and political freedom of the country.
“As we come here today, let us reflect on the remarkable journey that has shaped our armed forces into a formidable guardian of peace, security as they are today”, Mr. Jarwolo said, noting that military personnel, past and present have demonstrated unwavering commitment, bravery and resilience in the face of adversity, especially doing the election and campaigning period.
Mr. Jarwolo further said the new branding of the AFL: coined the force of goods” has answered to call of duties leaving their comfortable homes, and families to stand on the Frontline ensuring the safety and prosperity of the nation.
“This celebration is not just an opportunity to recognize the bravery of our armed forces, but it is also a moment to express our gratitude to the families who stand strong at the home front, the spouses, families, and children, who endured the challenges.”
The President of the University of Liberia (UL) Prof. Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson, Jr., calls for mentality change as cardinal to sustaining the country’s democracy, adding that factors hindering the growth of Liberian democracy are Liberians themselves who are directly enemies of the process.
“Sustaining the democracy is not only for the AFL, but for every Liberian, those in the communities, citizens, leaders, and everyone working to help sustain our democracy”, Dr. Nelson said.
He expressed hope that the leadership of the military in Liberia will work with leaders in the executive, legislative, and judiciary to ensure that benefits and social services of the men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia are protected.
Meanwhile, the day-long 67th Armed Forces Day Symposium, held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, sought to obtain views from wider and broader perspective on the management of national security as a way of providing solution to the contemporary security challenges of the 21st Century.
It came on the heels of Armed Forces Day celebration on February 11, 2024, to be officially observed on Monday, February 12th as a National Holiday. Editing by Jonathan Browne