“Eat Their Rice, But Vote Your Conscience”
-INQUIRER Boss Urges Liberians
Posted June 8, 2004
The Managing Editor of The INQUIRER Newspaper, Mr. Philip N. Wesseh has cautioned Liberians to vote wisely in the upcoming 2005 elections so as to move the country forward. He cautioned Liberians to be very conscious and not to sell their birthrights for a bag of rice from over zealous political candidates.
“If they bring their bag of rice, eat it, but vote your conscience in the interest of the country. Vote for the person who you believe will help move the country forward and not merely for someone because he or she has given you rice during the campaign time.,” Mr. Wesseh reiterated.
Addressing the Future Intellectual Discourse, a gathering of mainly youth of the Fiamah Community in Sinkor, Mr. Wesseh said it is now time for all Liberians especially the youths who constitute a larger portion of the voting population, to put the interest of the nation first when exercising their franchise in the upcoming elections.
Speaking on the topic, “The Role of the Media in the 2005 Elections”, Mr. Wesseh called on Liberians especially the youths to help promote honesty and sincerity in the society, stressing that Liberians have over the years, put their confidence in dishonest and insincere leaders for which the country is backward.
He said Liberians can make a big difference to advance the nation provided they can work together adding, “Liberia is a rich country, but we have had bad leaders in the past. It is time for us to put the interest of the nation first.”
Dwelling specifically on the role of the media in the upcoming elections, Mr. Wesseh, himself a practicing journalist since the early 80s, said it is the role of the media to ensure that the process is free and fair and to educate the electorates on the entire process.
He said the media also has the responsibility to make sure that there is a level-playing field for all contenders in the process as well as ensure that public funds are not spent on a particular candidate.
Mr. Wesseh further said that the press is responsible to do a critique of the candidates and keep an eagle eye on the entire process and those who are charged with the responsibility of conducting the exercise. He added that the media should raise any issue which seemingly poses a threat to the smooth holding of the elections.
He advised journalists not to allow themselves to become public relations tools for politicians to the detriment of society. He said the media should treat all candidates equal and discern between advertisement and news.
The INQUIRER boss however, said that the press alone cannot achieve all of these, saying the general public including the youth of Fiamah, have a responsibility to work along with the media to ensure the success of the process and also to ensure that only those who meet the criteria and requirements of the process participate.
Mr. Wesseh recounted how in the past, when the press raised issues against some candidates, they did not get the backing of the public, thus leading to the electing of the wrong people which has greatly undermined growth and development after several years of our existence as a nation.
Focusing his attention to the Fiamah Intellectual Group, Mr. Wesseh challenged them to organize “town meetings” to also educate their people about the process. He said, as voters, they should ensure that whosoever they elect should perform according to their platforms. “Elections are just the beginning, implementation of the platform is the next,” he told them.