OPINION : Delivering Liberian Journalism from a Power Hungry and Greedy Individual

MONROVIA-Pay-to-Play is not new pneumonia in Liberia. It has existed for years within the fabric of Liberian society and the Liberian Media is of exception.  Over the years, the media has seen a group of power-hungry greedy individuals who view themselves as the kingmakers within the journalism community.

This group of power-hungry and greedy individuals is always bent on taking control of finances. One such individual is Peter Quaqua. Like Prince Johnson, Quaqua has established himself as the power behind throne. To get his support, one must be ready to hand over the resources of the media to his control.

For instance, the late Lawrence Randall was booted out of the Liberia Media Center when he decided that he would no longer hand over the resources of the institution to Mr. Quaqua. Randall left and the institution has become a shadow of itself. We have indeed seen what happens to those who refuse to turn over finances to Mr. Quaqua- the media’s pay-to-play master. Like Prince Johnson those who oppose him never go free.

Another of Quaqua’s victims is Abdullai Kamara -a true scholar and a pragmatic leader. Both men were best friends until Kamara decided that he would no longer take edicts from Quaqua as far as the PUL funding was concerned. Kamara’s woes have begun! There were petition against him with many signatures including that of his own friend, Peter Quaqua. Kamara lost the 2016 Press Union of Liberia Election after Peter Quaqua adopted a loop-warm attitude toward him.

Quaqua organized and strategized for the team that was leading the petition against his own friend because he could no longer be the dominant individual in the Union.

George Barpeen is a well-known PUL leader who sustained serious character injuries from Quaqua’s treachery. Barpeen requested former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the government of Liberia to finance the construction of a headquarters for the Press Union of Liberia. Quaqua and others on the leadership team did not oppose the request.

They supported the initiative and publicly praised it as being innovative. This two-faced man would later agree to open a bid for companies to submit expressions of interest to build the headquarters. Amnon Construction won the bid, and construction began. Quaqua was elected president of the Press Union of Liberia.

He immediately placed an injunction on the construction of the headquarters because he wanted Barpeen out of the deal completely. Greed always led to organizational failure in favor of an individual. So it is today that the PUL headquarters was never built.  But Quaqua is the lone beneficiary as he took a truckload of crushed rocks, 100 bags of cement, blocks, and sand to build his own house.

Today, it is the same Quaqua who has to unleash his thugs to destroy the image of the Press Union of Liberia. The simple reason is that he wants to again control the finances of the Union.  He has decided that his prodigy, Julius Kanubah who is little known in the media because of his long stay abroad will implement his new grand plan to milk the media again.

The pay-to-play media kingpin wants to establish a new institution under the leadership of Kanubah where he will be the Executive Director of a new media group, like the Liberia Media Center.

Their aim is to control the media development funds. Unfortunately, Kanubah did not win the election. Hence his plan ‘B’ is to destroy the Press Union Liberia’s image because he believes that if he cannot control the money, no one else will. He is opting for the end of the Press Union.

He is notorious for killing off organizations!

Thanks to Peter Quaqua, the West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA) is no more. He was chosen to lead WAJA almost ten years ago. The company never got off to a strong start. Under Quaqua’s supervision, the Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) Grant was put into effect, however, it did not adhere to minimum institutional requirements. Due to Quaqua and the WAJA staff’s failure to carry out projects within the allocated timeline and practice financial probity, OSIWA stopped providing funding to WAJA.

The three-year “Women Reporting Women” program, which was designed to train 480 more journalists in the fifteen ECOWAS member states plus Mauritania and teach 32 journalists, largely women, how to do gender-sensitive reporting, may have failed.

Quaqua was supposed to be the project’s leader, but he wasted the grant’s whole budget.

The WAJA’s Capacity Development Initiative, based in Bamako, Mali, was created to improve the capacities of journalists in West Africa by offering in-depth knowledge and skills on subjects like poverty, democratic governance, investigative journalism, journalist security, and human rights reporting, but it was mismanaged by Quaqua.

The West African Journalists Association has been out of business since 2016.

Since earlier 2016, the West African Journalists Association ceased active operations. Quaqua, the president of WAJA took a job with Internews, an American organization that ran USAID’s Liberia Media Development. Since then, he has concentrated on Liberia, leaving the group of West African journalists behind. To date, no election has taken place in WAJA. Quaqua succeeded Nigerian Mohammed Garba, who was elected president of the Federation of African Journalists. Muhammad Garba is also a politician from Kano State. He was appointed Commissioner of Information by Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduja in 2015. Garba is also a member of the Steering Committee of the International Federation of Journalists. Unlike his predecessor, Quaqua has remained a stagnant figure with no professional growth, except for the mediocre food-on-the-table work he has done lately. His little gossip skills damaged many professionals and institutions in the sub-region.

Peter Quaqua is a cancer that has germinated into many self-center individuals in journalism in Liberia. Some of the men and women produced are the employees of Internews. They are so hypocritical that their involvement in the election impasse has exacerbated the leader contest at the Press Union of Liberia. Quaqua and his newfound team at Internews will go to any length to make sure the Press Union of Liberia is destabilized once his choice of candidate is not the president of the Press Union of Liberia.

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