This is a rallying discussion that borders on several issues some of which includes my person, companies I own, as well as national matters of concern. I will start with my person.
I left the country June on my regular vacation and also to attend to medicals. In my absence, there were several rumors flying around, which if not addressed, will be unfair and unjust to myself and my companies because they border on the credibility of my companies. I am sure you understand that man without character and credibility does not exist. So first of all these rumors surrounded issues relating to my having to have had money for government, properties for government; that I was involved in money laundry, that I was also involved in defrauding institutions of government. These are allegations that I took very serious exception to.
Press conferences were held in my absence which I responded to; but today, I want to let you know that the Government of Liberia has acted responsibly to have allowed a full investigation into allegations against my person, and have come up with clear report that Christopher Hages Onanuga still remains credible, is credible and has a character to protect, as well as my six month account illegally embarrassed by the Guarantee Trust Bank in Liberia which my legal team is about to challenge.
These situations that took place did not augur well for the image of the country, nor did they provide better opportunities for investors. I am not known to be someone to shy away from responsibility because I understand the importance of making sure that you can challenge anyone who challenges your credibility and character. I am the owner of CT.COM - Liberia, CT.COM -Ghana, CT.COM -Nigeria, CT.COM-United States and CT.COM-Sierra Leone which I have just established. It's not impossible for someone who is selfless and humble and who understands the dictates of life, to go around misbehaving, knowing very well there is law in every country that we are located.
Today I am a happy man. I should be having thanksgiving, but I say to you members of the Fourth Estate, that it is impossible to be happy when internally you are sad. It is a gory situation for a country which has people who only seek the downfall of those who are succeeding, when we should be creating millionaires; when we should be having the opportunities to expand the horizon of Liberia. What we have done instead, is we celebrate foreigners, ignore our own, exploiting our resources for foreigners and abandoned our ability to create wealth amongst ourselves.
In furtherance of this, I have been an institution builder; I have paid taxes at every given point in my life in this country and I have been very compliant. So today, in as much as people are turning around and trying to investigate to know CT.COM Liberia, COOL 91.9, COOL TV, the National Excellence Award of Liberia that I established, operate and run, they will find out that they operate purely on perfection, and also operate with fairness of purpose.
The second issue I want to weigh up on, ladies and gentlemen, is the Ministry of Information Culture & Tourism. The Ministry of Information Culture & Tourism (MICAT) should be amongst most the top five, biggest ministries in the Republic of Liberia, because the ministry comprises three or four pillars of National importance, that could be assigned to ministries if the government has so desire. But today, we do not know what the core function of the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism is. The reason I say this is the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism has not done justice to the most important institutions that they supposed to do justice to; and that is the Fourth Estate. The only two or three functions of the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism that I know in Liberia are:
1. Holding reactionary press conferences on Thursdays;
2. Seeking to issue permits to host pageants in the Republic of Liberia;
3. Trying to make sure it can control every institution of Liberia that should be independent, and using these institutions to collect petty revenues whereas they should be providing subsidy to these institutions
Examples of such are the Movie Union and the Musician Union. What are these unions doing under the Ministry of Information? The Ministry has failed to cater to inspectorate activities in rural Liberia to find our tourist sites, or cultural heritage, our relics; and to begin to publish their findings, and give the chance to us to market them globally so as to pour international tourists into Liberia. Instead, their focus is on organizing dances on the Providence Island of Liberia and running Thursday-Thursday dramatic press conferences where media practitioners go and sit the whole day and without even a bottle of water served them.
That is disheartening, you know. It is a pity that the Ministry of Information that should run the country's culture and tourism, be the decisive war-room for communication strategy, ministry that should manage the President and the country's communication issues, has failed to the extent that the narrative of the country's outside image internationally is so negative that it is difficult to get a dime. If you take a closer look, the Ministry of Information is in darkness for eight weeks, nine weeks. At times,
We sent a team to conduct a research and detail surveillance on the Ministry of Information, and found that for officials to print formal document, they have to run on across the road to buy sheet of papers. Isn't that a disgrace? It is now time to take on institutions one-on-on to make them active to work. I am not going to shy away from this; the beautiful thing, is that Christopher Hayes Onanuga will not contest political positions. As for me I serve wherever I am.
Besides, I am not looking for the Minister's position; instead, my position is intended to put him on record to perform. Two days ago, he chose to block me on Facebook because every day I put something out that he has done wrong, and put in the solution. I am not a negative critic. The Minister of Information Culture & Tourism, Len Eugene Nagbe needs to wake up from the slumber and stop allowing this government to be destroyed. By the way, why a minister of his position should spends nine months out of the country? What kind of Minister is that? For me this is Bull-crap, nonsensical, counter-productive, an embarrassment to the epitome of leadership. The Ministry Of Information Culture And Tourism is the strategic arm for providing managerial capacity for communication information in the Republic of Liberia. Let's put tourism aside.
Three days ago, the Minister of Information having received a lots of bombardment from me on social media about tourism, decided to put pictures of the Sharaton Hotel on Third Street that they cannot give possession to the printing materials. And that a new beach open in Congo Town, When did he started putting pictures around? When did he started putting tourism agenda? Only when did he realize that I am on his back? Me -Christopher Hayes Onanuga- who have been passionate for tourism have been running tourism over the years because I attend every major tourism activity on this continent - buy the ticket, pay the hotel bills, sell the contents on this contents and outside this continent. The Minister of Information Culture and Tourism does not know about some of these events, and cannot be able to say anything regarding the various groups of tourists coming in this country that goes to Nimba, different places; but I have the statistics when the minister has no idea of these, which is fantastically embarrassing.
Let me tell you how much the Minister of Information Culture & Tourism pays lip service on tourism in this country. The Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism did not work during the last two years, under this new administration to be able to put one cent in the national budget for tourism; instead, he is going around talking tourism. That is crazy. If the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism is going around talking tourism, but doesn't understand that Eco and Industrial tourisms have two distinct agenda where one is to preserve the environment and the other is intended to celebrate structures. But these two, eco and industrial tourisms, have separate branches such as religious tourism, traditional tourism, etc. - say eight to nine branches. But guess what? In every country, tourism provides two to three times employment rate as compared to civil service.
Don't you think this country is supposed to be the richest country with all beauty of nature available to it? The is country is endowed with beautiful tropical the beaches, well defined and attractive the landscapes, fine ranges, fresh water lakes and the ever green forests. These when utilized in the tourism sector could make yields and provide multiple jobs for the youths of this country. Instead of investing in the sector here, They go to Ghana and buy beads - seeds that have fallen from trees for gift; seeds the old ladies polished and tie with rubber; they buy then 10-10 dollars forgetting to know that we have the biggest forest in Liberia. Why can't we empower the rural people to pick the same seeds, provide them with small tools to do the same thing they buy from Ghana for sale here?
The Ministry of Information is in the business of challenging Chris and CT.COM in doing the job because they own several franchises. Let put those franchises aside; my major concern is how to move the Tourism Sector forward. My major concern is if we decide to sit and watch how things are going wrong and don't speak, it will become a problem. I prefer to be a scapegoat; as Minister has blocked me on Facebook and even if he shut down KOOl FM, TV and my staff will be well. I prefer if he calls me anti-government, which I am not for good cause, I prefer to survive. But someone has to challenge each ministry that they have passion in, and put their feet to the fire.
There are several reasons why I have to talk. Because the Ministry of Information is my line ministry. As a journalist, as an entrepreneur in the media, we will be owed so much debt as publishers, and electronic and audio and visual media institutions, that the people working for us cannot earn deservingly as they earn three to four thousands Liberian dollars, even if the government does not patronize us. Even if the government patronizes us, they don't pay -one year, two years; you will be hunting for your change (money) and you cannot get it, because they say journalism is a profession of sacrifice. Oho! Does that mean that we should be prepared to sacrifice and be impoverished in a way that our child cannot get anything and die poor? You mean our children should not be educated to acquire knowledge because we born them. My staff will still be employed and catered for. But somebody has to speak out and I will not hold back. I will not hold back today, I will not hold back tomorrow. I will never hold back!
The Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism has 90% of square pegs in round holes. Somebody has to bring about change. The beautiful thing is that you cannot deport me. On one of my parents is a foreigner. I was not born out of Liberia, I was born in flagba or blahgba. I am a full born citizen that could contest the office of the presidency of Liberia, but unfortunately I am not a politician. Fortunately I am willing to serve in other capacities outside government to make a unique contribution. We will hold their feet onto the fire.
Now the third part. The Ministry of Information Culture & Tourism was established by an Act of Legislature. The Liberia Intellectual Property Rights (LIPO) was established by an Act of Legislature. The Ministry of Information Culture & Tourism is on the Board of LIPO. And the Board the ministry is on is also seriously, consciously supposed to be executing what they are supposed to be executing. LIPO is established to give intellectual property rights, patency rights, trademarks and all other things that are supposed to make the sector of the industrious park works. And also in tourism, what has been happening? The Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, when there was no LIPO, used to give permits for events, although that is not the prerogative of the Ministry. Notwithstanding, it was because there was no line agency to do it; therefore, they used to do it to collect small change.
It is not the right of the Ministry of Information to do that! Even though they are used to collecting petty cash other than doing their major jobs, LIPO has to function. But the Ministry of Information does not want LIPO to perform. CT.COM understands the engagement. So we have several franchises from LIPO and not from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. So the law is that whenever the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism wants to do anything with intellectual property, names or brands, they must go and consult with LIPO and check to know whether there is an ownership. LIPO gives out ownership for 10 years while the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism gives permit which last for one year.
I know or perhaps you have heard about the most beautiful girl of Liberia recently, which is owned by CT.COM. CT.COM realized that that there was a company that hosted the event, and we did not see the profit up to today. We wrote several times to the government; several times wrote to the Ministry of Information and no answer. Finally I spoke to the Minister of Information Culture and Tourism, and you guess his answer: "My man. LIPO try to take over our job, so we have to fight. You cannot be owing all those properties; you, yourself."
The Minister considering me an individual instead of CT.COM, a company. He is looking at LIPO as his rival instead of been an institution that is performing task as mandated in the Act creating her. Ministry of Information is doing what her Acts she shouldn't do. Her Acts did not list her to perform that role. So we realized that the Ministry was bent on stealing intellectual properties of people who individuals at the Ministry are closed to them; we decided to challenge it by law. The Court then initiated an order. First we did a unique kind of injunction. We went to the Insurance Company and collected an Insurance bond, in the event that we are guilty the amount that we indemnified will pay them.
We did not stop there because we wanted justice. We went on to the LIPO office. We got LIPO to rule that the intellectual property that is being used is owned by CT.COM-Liberia. These documents were served the Ministry of Information which ignored them. In fact some other persons told us that even the Chief Justice will not be obeyed in the matter. The Injunction was served, a lady at the Minister's office refused to accept the court precept, said the ministry instructed her not to hold the paper from the court.
Gentlemen. If the court is made irrelevant by the Executive, where do we run for justice? After the events which do not provide any results that one can boast of, what has happened is that the Court now got a bill of information, the Ministry of Information delayed to and did not respond until the expiry period. Today they have the issue of contempt of court. Two things notable are: MICAT refusing to take the writ; and also refusing to respond. The essence of exposing these situations which we will keep will keep exposing, is to make sure that every day of our lives, Liberia will get better.
Another thing that took place that bothers is that KOOL 91.9 is a legal entity. And it is a company just like any newspaper or radio station institution. The Ministry of Information is the Ministry that gives permit on a yearly basis to operate. The Ministry of Information is a business entity in that light. And the companies are partners in business. You don't wait for the companies to go to you for their bills. As an entity, you are supposed to get the bills out to the companies so they can pay. That is how business runs. But what does Ministry of Information do? Sit down and wait for you no go there. When you go for your bill, they give excuses telling you "go come tomorrow; there is no light, we can't find the paper, or the computer off." Dramatized administration! Are you aware that for two years, we have been trying to get the bills paid for KOOL 91.9 and we can't get it? Isn't that nasty?
We pay our taxes to LRA. We go there even if they don't come we get it there LTA, I must refer to them, will write and send your bill and we are compliant. We went to the LRA, the Revenue Authorities (LRA), and we paid our taxes. The Ministry of Information wants certain institutions to be in default so that when they ready to close them, it will be easy based on default. Because if that not the case, they will show that they are not committed to maleficence, but the will be committed to perfect functioning of the agencies.
So it is now time to call a spade a spade; Leadership are in three folds. You either born a leader, you earn leadership or you were made a leader. It is a pity if you were made a leader and you are not prepared for it. This is how square pegs are in round holes without passion, without commitment without skills.
I say it looks like Len Eugene Nagbe is just in that shoes' thank you ladies and gentlemen