Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WHAT DOES IREX WANT? U.S. Taxpayers Money Must Impact Liberian Media

- FPA EDITORIAL Source: FrontPage Africa

Ahead of the 2011 elections in post-war Liberia, the local media is in dire straits in need of tools, practical training and resources in preparations for election coverage. With $US11 million in hand, what does the International Research and Exchanges Board(IREX)has in store to impact the local media? Same old workshops and training? We Have Had Enough!!!

IN JUNE 2010, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), launched a five-year development program for Liberia.

AS PART OF THE FIVE-YEAR plan, IREX has at its disposal US$11 million American taxpayers money aimed at mobilizing the Liberian media development and bolster and hopefully equip them for the 2011 elections.

The media component will also work to extend the reach and enrich the content of community radio stations in the seven targeted counties.

IREX, founded in 1968, has supposedly been involved in similar projects in other countries around the world and according to its website, has since been providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media, and foster pluralistic civil society development. IREX works in more than 50 countries, including Somalia and Rwanda.

THE LAUNCHING of IREX in Liberia comes at a time when at least 80 percent of local print and radio journalists lack the basic skills in typing and computer usage to perform their daily functions. Newspapers find it difficult to transport dailies to some parts of the country due to lack of adequate transportation. Those with their own printing facilities struggle to import technicians from nearby Ghana and Nigeria whenever they encounter problems. Newspapers and radio stations still have to pay high taxes to import their equipment and goods into the country when nearby Ghana has a tax-free program for import of media equipment and goods.

LAUNCHING THE EVENT, media executives and practitioners were informed that the five-year program will be implemented by IREX in seven counties – Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and River Gee involving training and resources to Liberian civil society and media organizations to increase citizen participation in and ownership of government policy.

SOME ELEVEN media outlets reportedly submitted applications through a vigorous process which required submissions of several documents. After weeks into the process, IREX sent out another communication stating that nine were qualified for review by the CSML Selection Committee. According to IREX, during the application review process, the Selection Committee approved one media outlet for consideration. The remaining eight outlets did not adequately address the issues stated in the RFA, according to IREX.

AS A RESULT the process was extended and applicants once again asked to reapply as IREX explained that the process was being simplified to the dismay of many of those who had originally applied. Some media outlets, in protests have declined to go forward with the IREX plan, still unsure about IREX’s true intentions

WHILE IREX explained that the re-launch was an attempt to ensure that media outlets have the opportunity to take full advantage of this initiative that offers training, mentoring and coaching in media management, business development and basic journalism, we find it difficult to believe how much of an impact IREX hopes to make that would dramatically make the news media coverage of the 2011 elections any different than it was in 2005?

WHAT THE LIBERIAN media needs right now is real practical training in typing, field reporting, computers and modern media technology. Newspapers need assistance in training of technicians to run their presses and get them ready in time for the elections; media outlets need assistance with transportation to transport their reporters between various assignments which will get even worse when election season gets into full blast.

Newspapers could also use assistance with transportation to help boost delivery of papers to other parts of Liberia, other than Monrovia.

IN CONTRAST TO IREX, organizations like the New Naratives has partnered with FrontPageAfrica and other radio stations to offer local female reporters practical training in bringing to light stories very rarely brought to the reading and listening public. As a result, stories like prostitution, teen-age sex, malnutrition and street beggars are being highlighted on a shoe-string budget six-figure below IREX millions.

IT IS NO SECRET that many newspapers and local radio stations are barely getting by. IREX can help relieve these problems by trickling down its millions where it matters most, to the heart and soul of those struggling to put out a daily paper, or finding it hard to find fuel to keep their radio stations on the air. Assistance in business management and practical training will go a long way in ensuring the Liberian journalists are armed and ready to cover the 2011 elections. IREX must ensure that every penny of the $11 million American taxpayers money make a real big difference. Liberian journalists are fatigued when it comes to workshops and training, especially in the classroom. They need more practical training, perhaps exchange programs with journalists from other parts of the world, and lessons in grammar, not more imported lectures and lecturers from abroad.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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