By Olando Testimony Zeongar
Long-time Liberian journalist Jarlawah A. Tonpo has officially taken over as deputy Minister of Information for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs (MICAT).
Tonpo replaces tough-talking Eugene L. Fahngon, who was dismissed by President George Weah about a fortnight ago, for what the Executive Mansion called the dismissed deputy minister spreading falsehood.
In his induction speech delivered Thursday, Tonpo paid homage to God Almighty for keeping him alive to fulfill God’s purpose and this responsibility, adding that God knows his heart and readiness to serve his (Tonpo’s) country.
“Let me also thank the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency President Dr. George M. Weah for appointing me as Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism from amongst several equally qualified professional colleagues to serve in his administration, Tonpo acknowledged, assuring President Weah, his MICAT colleagues and Liberians that he takes his new job very seriously, and vowed to diligently work to justify the confidence reposed in him by the Liberian president.
He also used the occasion to thank Liberia’s Vice President and President of the Senate, Chief Jewel Howard-Taylor, the President Pro Tempore, Albert Chie and members of the Liberian Senate and by extension the Speaker and members of the Houses of Representatives, according to him, for allowing him to serve the Legislative Branch for 17 years with distinction first as a media consultant from 2004 up to the period of being Director of Press of the Liberian Senate.
“The Senate bestowed a great honor on me recently when it voted unanimously to confirm me for this job. I am grateful for that respect. That was historical and that legacy has been set,” Tonpo said.
Tonpon bragged that because he’s deeply rooted in the Legislature, mostly in the House of senate, in his new role, he will serve as a bridge between the Executive and the Legislature Branches of the Liberian government.
He also boasted that because of what he called his deep roots and varying roles in the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), he will serve as a bridge between the government and the media.
“Because of my work and role in the Federation of Liberian youths and the Liberia National Students Union, I will serve as a bridge between the government and the Civil Society, including the young people of Liberia, and the student community,” Tonpo indicated, adding, “and as a devoted member of the Liberia Assembly of God Church, and my strong tie to the Late Shilk Kefumah Konneh and who has introduced me to the Muslim Community, I will engage the Religious Community. And I will be visible to engage the Liberian people.”
He assured his boss, MICAT Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, and his colleagues at the Information Ministry that he came to his new post with a deep understanding that people need to cooperate with each other and work together to achieve an objective.
“So I will talk to relevant people before talking or writing. I will interact with people on policy issues politely, listen well and talk less with facts; and I will from time to time liaise with the Minister and the brilliant team to coordinate public programs,” he stressed.
He then made several recommendations to Minister Rennie, indicating that they are intended to be used to effectively explain government’s policy and programs to the people of Liberia.
In closing, Tonpo pleaded with his boss, Minister Rennie, that they work together to ensure that all government information be channeled through the Ministry of Information in what he referred to as a coordinated approach for public dissemination on development and policy issues.