By Jones Mallay
The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) like any other professional body in Liberia is suffering due to a lack of contemporary modern innovations. But PUL has no reason to suffer, perhaps critical leadership innovation is conspicuously missing from the strategy index of PUL since its inception on 30th September 1964 up to the present.
For PUL to strive positively it must transcend beyond regular due payment methods and come out with innovative long-range plans of action that will be more accountable and transparent, something to convince donors.
Excitingly, the $100000 donation made to PUL by then Pres. Ellen Sirleaf (2008) wasn’t for dinner and eating of chocolate and American sauces, it was for serious business for PUL to turn around and multiply a huge dividend which would have made Madam Sirleaf very proud to lobby more and more for the PUL, but instead, the executives of PUL began to wear a big gold ring, Italian shoe, and American coat and tie and renting of huge SUV jeeps to entice others when in the true sense of the world the PUL is suffering beneath. Today, the $100000 is now history and PUL is still at square one and Madam Sirleaf is grossly disappointed.
PUL is too old not to have accumulated huge assets in Liberia needless talks about its holistic connections with other giant media entities abroad-what is then PUL’s actual problem as she continues to languish in acute financial poverty from one leadership to another? How can PUL hold the CDC-led government accountable for corruption when PUL is one of the leading children of corruption in the land?
It is very sad if not disappointing that the 57-year-old media institution has much to always talk about but little to show with no strategy, no innovation, no practical plan of action that will truly pull it out of financial to that bring lasting smiles to its over 500 members who are glaringly impoverished financially and materially. Interestingly, the birth year of PUL was the same year when the late President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman was inaugurated for a fifth term as President of Liberia.
This historical connotation should be key to PUL’s birth for two reasons: First, Liberia was then a very dark republic that a smart entity like the PUL could have quickly stolen the show on development innovation. Second, a farsighted leadership can undertake more and more development in a very dark republic as quickly as possible than any other time in the history of a said entity like PUL. PUL, like other useful entities of the 50s and 60s, missed its opportunities to build a resourceful and rewarding future foundation that would have pulled its membership out of poverty in modern Liberia.
Mr. Gabriel I. H. Williams, a founding member who was then secretary-general of PUL in those dark days, failed to lay any productive foundation for PUL. As a chief administrator, he was either consumed or entrenched into business as usual or was simply complacent or he just didn’t have the critical thoughts to get PUL to where it should have been-that is across the finished line into high core development initiatives.
PUL is not just any entity, it is a professional body. The Press is referred to as the “Fourth Estate” fourth in line of serious political tradition in line of societal functionaries next to the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, and then comes the “Fourth Estate” defined as such with its array of functions and deliverables in Liberian society.
There are several possible strategies on how PUL can pull itself out of financial/material poverty. First, all PUL print newspapers should patronize a member or group of members that has printing facilities, rather than patronize foreign printing presses in Liberia. Second, PUL can get collateral that will help it get a loan of $500.000 to invest in animal husbandry, by raising goats, cows, sheep, and chickens for sale on the Liberian market. PUL could also get ex-farmers from Zimbabwe, South Africa to help with the process.
Third, PUL could acquire 500000 acres of land, bring rice experts from Taiwan to guide its huge food production for Liberia, and have it sold at a much cheaper rate. Fourth, PUL could invest in mining gold and felling trees for charcoal that would supply Liberia. Fifth, PUL could use proceeds from the farm business to acquire an additional 800 acres of land and erect mini-estates for low-income Liberians including PUL members. PUL could also use its hugely acquired profits from the housing projects to establish a vibrant transportation system, by getting some old hands from Ghana and Ivory Coast to guide the process with their strategies and success stories. These are some of the ways and means by which PUL could easily be the richest entity in Liberia and help its members.
Lastly, PUL could lobby with its huge International media partners such as International Media Support (IMS), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), West African Journalists Association (WAJA), Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC-Liberia), Carter Center (CC), International Alert (IA-UK), Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE), the Civil Rights Association of Liberian Lawyers (CRALL), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), IREX, Media Rights Agenda, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Panos Institute of West Africa, OSIWA and IREX to put before them some of these viable resourceful projects and proposals for funding.