Structural Changes in ALJA’s Leadership

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 19, 2004

The Board of Directors of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), recently made structural changes in its leadership to reflect cohesiveness and ethical balance. The latest decision, which Board members strongly believe, is a positive way to foster the democratic values and beliefs of the Board’s internal and external workings. At its third teleconference held on April 11, 2004, members of the Board unanimously voted to demote its chairman, J. Nagbe Sloh, to an ordinary member status. The ALJA Board of Directors is henceforth pleased to release the names of its newly confirmed officials: Messrs. Francis Duwana, Chairman; James Gomiah, Vice-Chairman and Alex Redd, Secretary General. The lone absent Board member was Mr. Willie Bowier, Jr., former Board Secretary, who had earlier requested the Board to relief him of secretarial duties due in large part to personal health reasons.

Mr. Duwana is a founding ALJA member and one of the three permanent Board members, elected at the June 2003 ALJA Conference held in Minnesota. Mr. James Gonmiah, is another founding ALJA member and one of the three permanent Board members. Mr. Alex Redd is also a party to the formation of ALJA in early 1998.

The ALJA National Board latest radical shake up stems from Mr. J. Nagbe Sloh, the now defunct chairman, inability to eloquently articulate and represent the aspirations, values, beliefs and ethical paradigm that embody the Board’s professional outlook. The Board’s decision to unseat Chairman Sloh hinges on the chairman’s continued pattern of engagement in unnecessary provocation: rowdy and erratic approach (both in written and oral communication), and unilateral decision to cause unreasonable stirs and disdain for fellow Board members. Because of the former chairman’s unbalanced temperament, Board members concluded that the dethroned chairman’s sole intent is to drive a wedge between the Board and the National ALJA Administration, a move that does not bode well with communal harmony. Board members have come to grip with practical reality that these acts do not conform with a well-defined ethical standard, reputation and balance that befit character of a chairman and, therefore, intolerable.

The ALJA National Board, which operates as an independent and impartial body with the mandate to create checks and balances, also strives to maintain a respectful, efficient and stable working environment and relationship with the National ALJA administration as well as Chapters and various committees to ensure fair-play, lasting unity and good governance for growth. Members of the board strongly believe in consensus building and demonstration of ethical behavior within the scope and domain of the Board.

While these cherished values are essential to the maintenance of respect, independence, trust and confidence imposed upon Board members by various constituencies, which the Board members represent, five of the six Board members at the April 11th teleconference democratically concluded that Mr. J. Nagbe Sloh has failed to firmly uphold these basic values and, as well, failed to demonstrate ethical behavior, personal maturity, integrity and self-awareness. Therefore, members of the Board unanimously passed a vote of no confidence to remove Mr. Sloh as chairman of the Board. The Board flexed its muscle of power to depose Chairman Sloh based on ALJA national constitution (Article VII; section 5), which mandates “2/3 majority to punish or expel a member” in accordance with democratic principles.

For his part, the outgoing chairman thanked other Board members for the brief period of service and reiterated his insistence on a willful desire to publicly “attack those I see as barrier“. Mr. Sloh then agreed that the Board’s decision to remove him was democratic and, therefore, had no choice but to rather concede to Mr. Francis Duwana, his then Vice-Chairman. Following Mr. Sloh’s remarks, Board members were later surprised to learn of Mr. Sloh’s unceremonious departure from the teleconference.

Board members present during session of this latest decision were: Messrs. James Gomiah, James Dorbor, Suah Deddeh, Francis Duwana, J. Nagbe Sloh and Alex Redd. Mr. Willie Bowier, Jr., a permanent board member, was absent for unexcused reasons.

Meanwhile, the National ALJA Board would like to make it clear to the ALJA membership that the Board remains independent, impartial and wise in its decision making process and quest to work collaboratively with the Executive Committee of the National Administration, ALJA Chapters as well as various committees to strike a balance of good governance. The Board assures all ALJA members that, in no way, it will be manipulated to compromise its potential ability to appease any individual group of people for selfish reasons.

Members of the Board are encouraged by comments within certain quarters of the ALJA community referencing the separation of powers between the Board and the National Administration. The Board delights itself at the level of expressed support for its independency. However, the Board wishes to seize this opportunity to assure the ALJA community for its respect for the ALJA constitution.

The business of constitutional engagement requires sober reflection especially where some may be confusing confrontation with independency. The Board remains committed to a functional relationship between the institutions of ALJA. Consequent on this commitment, members of the Board will uncompromisingly strive to insure a clear understanding between the Board’s independency, and an undesirable confrontation with any of the other two institutions of ALJA.

Signed: Alex Redd
Secretary General

ALJA National Board of Directors

Approved: Francis Duwana

ALJA National Board of Directors