Qualms, Unhappiness Registered

By Mark N. Mengonfia –mmenginfia@gmail.com  

MONROVIA-Deputy Presidential Press Secretary, (DPPS), Smith Toby has responded to the concern raised by Executive Manson Reports who lay to the feet of the office of the presidency many requests including functional assigned vehicles, office space and disbanding a parallel team of reporters calling themselves Independent Journalists.

At a press conference Monday, May 16, 2022, members of the Executive Manson Press Crops (EMPC) raised issues about what they called difficulties in the discharge of their duties as reporters covering the Liberian Presidency.

“We have grown increasingly concerned about the Presidential Press Secretary Office’s deliberate action not to rotate reporters for presidential assignments” M. Dennise Nimpson Chairperson, Executive Mansion Press Corps at a press conference at the University of Liberia park in Monrovia.

Madam Nimpson said Press Secretary Office has been in the biased business of listing reporters of

their choosing with the exception of State Radio reporters, this, according to her, has caused many media institutions’ reporters to not get a feel of covering the Liberian Presidency, and that their offices have always questioned them of happening at the Executive Manson.

Speaking about the issue of the vehicle, she said, “It is sad to note that since the accident of our colleagues three years ago, involving the President’s motorcade, the only vehicle inherited from the past administration was destroyed without replacement.”

She added, “It will sadden you to note that reporters were risked in dysfunctional vehicles during the county tour in 2021. Some of which had brake problems, and with the punched-up tyre on the road, least to talk about several mechanical faults putting journalists at risk.”

Nimpson said her leadership has made several representations to get a functional vehicle for reporters at the Manson, but once they get are all promises adding, “As we speak, reporters at the Mansion continue to suffer for vehicle problems to provide coverage for the President.”

The group also raised issues about international travel which they said are yet to benefit from as a group covering the Liberian Presidency.

“Executive Mansion reporters travel with the President to

Sasstown, Saclepia, Fissebu, Konbo, Yekepa, etc. but when it comes to foreign travels, they are deprived. While EMPC members are limited, there is a selection of other non-assigned”, she said.

The group said the poor remuneration, and empowerment of journalists across the country is not a secret, but Executive Mansion reporters never allow such to deter them from providing the public with factual information;

Indicating that for this reason, rain or shine the reporters are with the President diligently providing coverage with the little resources and equipment they have.

“But the reporters were in awe when they received the news that President George Weah has empowered reporters with gadgets (iPhones and Samsung) that were called upon selectively to provide coverage for a day at the inspection of a rice warehouse in Vai Town”, she added.

According to them, while they harbor no hate for gift provided by the President to journalists in Liberia, the EMPC thinks that those who continue to provide coverage for the Presidency and did same tirelessly during the county tour should be the ones empowered.

The group called on the office to ensure that a parallel group purporting to be reporters of the Executive Manson be disbanded on grounds that their being there will only cause tension among journalists.

She said, “We want those who are found within the hierarchy of the Presidency encouraging such, to kindly discontinue. We want to emphasize that at no time there have  been two groups of independent journalists covering the Executive Mansion, and we will not tolerate such.”

Responding to some of the concerns of the Executive Manson Reporters, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary (DPPS) Smith Toby said, “The reason they have not taken your space is that we have stood our grounds.”

Although Mr. Toby said they were not in the know of the group, but later admitted that they engaged the group behind the closed doors to ensure that they did not use a jacket that were printed by the group to follow the president everywhere he goes.

According to him, they at the Executive Manson did not establish such a group called ‘independent journalists’ so they cannot be the ones to disorganize them or stop them for covering the Executive Manson.

Commenting on the press conference of EMPC, Toby said, “Today, we were taken aback by your statement.” According to him, if the group has laid the issues before them to be discussed in camera, it would have been better than going to the public, adding instead, “you took it to the public”, he said.

Speaking to the issue of international travels, Toby said they have provided opportunities to reporters, but was quick to note that it is the will of the President to include on this travel list outside of Liberia.

“The generosity of the President cannot be questioned”, he said.

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