Daniel Nyakonah, Jr. Resigns from Press Union of Liberia Leadership as Acting President

Mr. Nyakonah (m) being hailed by members of the PUL for his decision to step aside the Union’s leadership in order to foster unity among members of the Union

MONROVIA – Daniel Nyakonah, Jr., former Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has tendered his resignation as acting president of the PUL.

In a statement made during a Mass Meeting of the Union on Friday, February 23, 2024, Mr. Nyakonah cited the prolonged impasse stemming from the 2022 elections as the primary reason for his decision. He expressed concern that this impasse has led to disunity, hindered collective efforts, and impeded operational efficiency within the Union.

Mr. Nyakonah attributed the deteriorating state of the Union to a smear campaign initiated by Team Julius Kanuba and its supporters, who sought leadership positions within the Press Union of Liberia. He noted that from the outset, Team Julius had refused to follow internal procedures for filing complaints within the Union. Despite their claims of bias by the 2022 Congress Committee, they failed to provide evidence to support their allegations, Nyakonah asserted.

Nyakonah further lamented that Team Julius had allegedly planned to disrupt the Congress in Gbarnga by using the law in a surreptitious manner.

Below is the full text of Daniel Nyakonah, Jr.’s resignation statement from the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia.

“I bring you greetings from the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) based in Accra, Ghana. This institute is renowned for its efforts in fostering peace by providing crash courses on security and integration in the West African region. During my time at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, I focused on studying Migration Management. Migration is a concern for all governments, civil society organizations, the media, and other power holders. Our focus as a country should be on the revision of Liberia’s Migration Policy being rolled out mostly by the United Nations (IOM) because stakeholders charged with doing the job haven’t done so well diligently in the last decade.

As a country, we should also move quickly to amending the Act establishing the Liberia Refugee Repatriation & Reintegration Commission (LRRRC) transforming that entity into a dedicated organ of government responsible for addressing migration management issues, establishing a Diaspora Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate activities involving the Liberian diaspora, equipping & training of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) to provide migrate friendly border management services and training for other stakeholders.

Our knowledge of migration would not have been possible without the nomination by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). We are grateful to the AFL for nominating us to study at Kofi Annan. Thank you very much to the AFL commend for the opportunity.

Now to the Press Union of Liberia & why we are here. Established in Monrovia on September 30, 1964, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has served as a vital organization for Liberian media professionals and institutions nationwide, evolving into one of the country’s foremost pro-democracy organizations.

My involvement with the Union began in 2013 when I joined as an Assistant Secretary General, mentored by esteemed leaders such as D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh and the late Kamara Abdullai Kamara. MAY WE RESPECT THE SOUL OF A FALLEN LEGEND BY OBSERVING A MOMENT OF SILENCE! ….AMEN.

Over the years, I assumed various roles within the Union, including Secretary General and Vice President, collaborating with esteemed partners like the United Nations and USAID. Throughout this journey, we weathered both challenges and triumphs, notably leading advocacy efforts against brutality of journalists and establishing dialogues with law enforcement to ensure members’ safety.

Under my tenure, the Union made significant strides, notably in fostering dialogue between the media and law enforcement, and establishing the National Media Council to mediate journalistic disputes.

However, the prolonged dispute stemming from the 2022 elections has fractured our unity, hindering our collective efforts and impeding operational efficiency.

As you made be aware Team Julius has always been on a smear campaign all because of being desperate to lead the Union. From the onset, Julius and his cohorts have refused to submit to internal procedure at the Union in respect to file complaints. They claimed that the Congress Committee was biased towards them although they cannot prove it. They plotted to disrupt the Congress in Gbarnga by using the law in a surreptitious manner. They have continued to drag the Union name in the dirt, rendering people like us who have sacrificed for the Union as criminals and miscreants.

I have observed that Julius and his team do not seek legal recourse as they have made the public to believe but are on a campaign to destroy the Union. As we speak, the Union cannot afford its rent because the Julius Team has been undercutting and as well destroying the reputation of the Press Union of Liberia leaving the PUL incapacitated to receive grants from international partners. Donors do not operate in noise and so they have collectively stayed away from the Union. At this juncture, it is important that we disappoint those who are bent on seeking the death of our dear PRESS UNION OF LIBERIA.

In the interest of the Union and its members, I have made the difficult decision to step down from my leadership role. This is a decision I have taken with a heavy heart.

Again, upon careful consideration and reflection of all the unfoldings including the frivolous intent of Team Julius to destroy the Union because of selfish interest, I hereby tender my resignation from my role in the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia, effective immediately. You all know that my decade-long service at the Union has been marked by unwavering dedication and numerous sacrifices aimed at promoting the welfare of journalists in Liberia. I cannot continue to see the Union perish because of my involvement. I love journalism, and I have dedicated a good portion of my professional career to working for this Union. This is not something I want to see destroyed. Walking away doesn’t make me a loser; it shows that I want this noble organization resuscitated and able to play its role adequately.

I am immensely grateful to my colleagues within the Press Union of Liberia and the wider media community for their unwavering support and dedication to press freedom and journalistic integrity.

Moving forward, I relinquish all responsibilities as Acting President, but I remain committed to journalism and the ideals of the Press Union of Liberia. I urge all stakeholders to prioritize the welfare of journalists and the integrity of the press. I implore the incoming leadership to address the election crisis, foster unity, and advocate for the rights and professional development of journalists across Liberia.

I will not be a candidate in any future election in the Press Union of Liberia; however, we will be engaged in determining the next leaders of the Union.

During the recent election at the Press Union of Liberia, our team nominated candidates for all four leadership positions within the Union. Mrs. Bettie Johnson Mbayo, Vice President-Elect, and Julius Konton, Assistant Secretary-General-Elect, have also asked me to announce that they are stepping back to allow new colleagues to vie for leadership. Bettie & Julius believe in our leadership and are making the ultimate sacrifice because of the quality leadership they have come to experience from us. They have also pledged to support individuals who will represent our block of the Union.

To ensure that the Union benefits from institutional memory, I am entrusting the Press Union of Liberia to Acting Secretary-General, Akoi M. Baysah, Jr., who we believe will guide the PUL through the election process and facilitate the transition to the next team of leaders.

In conclusion, I reaffirm my unwavering commitment to a free and vibrant press. I pledge continued support to the Press Union of Liberia and extend my best wishes for its future success.

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