Last week, the management team at the National Port Authority (NPA), the 'gateway to the nation's economy' made the exceptional and rare gesture of inviting the press and civil society organizations that have lavished praises on the Managing Director of the NPA, Madam Matilda Wokie Parker, for an interactive gathering during which they visibly expressed their sentiments with certificates and plaques.
Certainly such an interactive forum with the media, to include not only media houses that have honored and heaped praises on Madam Parker is essential, as it shows that the media should not be seen by officials and decision-makers in both the private and public sector as threats to their respective operations. In most African settings, there are many civil servants who regard the press as threats.
The NPA management team is illustrating to Liberians that as long as government officials and other decision makers are following the tenets of good governance, transparency and financial accountability, there will be no cause for them to fear the press. They should follow the trend of being open and accommodating to the press as they have nothing to hide and there is no past deeds such as the gross abuse of public office characteristic of many others are haunting them.
What the NPA management and other entities that have received media acclamations at the end of last year, such as the Ministers of the Year Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, and Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh have been doing is that they have gone beyond the normal call of duty to contribute in one way or the other to the greatness of post-conflict Liberia. Madam Parker distinguished herself, by promising Liberians that she will lead the charge in soliciting donor support to modernize and expand Liberia's port areas. Her plans have begun to yields fruits.
To a large extent, there are many who see in the plans and achievements of Public Works minister Samuel Kofi Woods, and Finance Minister Konneh as catalysts of the agenda for transformation development framework that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continue to remind Liberians about, as a way forward for the development of this country.
The Ministry of Public Works was acclaimed by the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) for taking the lead in delivering the promises of the 150-day deliverables in view of setting on track the construction and pavement of the Red-light to Gbarnga highway at the cost of US$166 million, making feasibility studies for the construction of the Gbarnga to Mendekoma highway, launching the construction of the Fish-town to Harper highway and beginning the process of paving of streets in Monrovia and county headquarters such as that of Voinjama etc. Liberians have begun seeing them in reality not only in words.
We also observed that in presenting the 2012 to 2013 Annual national budget, Amara Konneh told Liberians that the budget will deviate from the conventional traditional budget by focusing on the priority needs of the country such as electricity, road construction, the Construction of the Roberts International airport and the expansion of ports. Despite the challenges posed by budgetary austerity measures, Liberians are visibly seeing that development is coming to their door steps and exuberant with hope for the crafting of vision 2030 which contains the Agenda for Change and Roadmap for National Reconciliation development plan for Liberia.
This is why we feel that it would be necessary for other ministries and agencies of government to follow the lead taken by the NPA management team in boldly throwing the challenge to the press to show the shortcomings and deficiencies of the NPA management team with suggestions and criticisms. Indeed there is a need for government institutions to respect the media and its important role in society, because the media and freedom of the press is the fulcrum on which every democracy is constructed.