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Opinion: GJA in disarray – No leadership since 2020

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The machinations in the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) must stop. Yes, they must, if those behind them still have a speck of love for the association. It is because of their machinations the GJA today has no leadership.

As a member of the GJA, I am very displeased with the happenings in the association since November 2020.

Constitutionally, the mandate of Mr Affail Monney as President of the GJA and his other national and regional executives expired on November 17, 2020 and they have no business staying in office. None of them has the right to represent the GJA at any function because if they do, it will amount to impersonation. Unfortunately, that is going on.

Article 15: (c) of the 2004 Constitution of the Ghana Journalists Association states: (i) All members of the National Executive shall hold office for a term of three (3) years and shall be eligible for re-election.

(ii) No member of the National Executive shall hold a particular office for more than two terms.

In fact, it was on this constitutional basis that on September 15, 2020, the then General Secretary of the GJA, Mr Kofi Yeboah, issued a news release in which he stated: “The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has scheduled Friday, November 13, 2020 for its general elections to elect new national and regional executives.

The GJA held its last elections on Friday, September 29, 2017 and the new executives were inaugurated into office on Friday November 17, 2017. The three-year tenure of the current national and regional executives, therefore, expires on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.”

Mr Yeboah further announced in the release; “Meanwhile, a three-member Elections Committee has been appointed to conduct and supervise the elections.”

The elections were not held as was announced by the then General Secretary.

Again, on April 12, 2021, the GJA Elections Committee issued a news release informing members of the opening of nominations for candidates for the GJA elections from April 13 to April 27, 2021. Other details of the elections were given in that release. Filing fees were also announced. Strangely, the former General Secretary, in a letter dated April 13, 2021 and addressed to the Chairman of GJA Election Dispute Adjudication Committee, argued that the Election Committee blatantly breached the GJA Constitution 2004 when it announced nomination fees that were not determined by the National Council of the GJA.

This was certainly an indication of a house that is not in order. Yes, a house in disarray. If not, how could the Election Committee determine fees without the National Council. Who appointed the committee? What was the committee mandated to do?

Again, Mr Yeboah alleged that the powers of the GJA National Executive were also usurped twice that year when a “purported list of members in good standing which the Elections Committee was to use as voters list” were published in the Daily Graphic first on February 10, 2021, and March 13, 2021.

According to him, both publications were not authorised and/or caused by the GJA national executive. These are what I mean by machinations in the association.

This again, was a clear sign of a messed-up leadership. A leadership that the center cannot hold.

No wonder on November 24, 2021 at the Press Center in Accra, members of the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Supervisory Committee of the GJA engaged in near fisticuffs amidst throwing of Chairs during a meeting that was supposed to address concerns that centered on the voter register. All these were senior members of the inky fraternity who were supposed to know better that they were there to resolve an issue and not to fight.

Sincerely speaking, apart from selfish interests of some individuals in the association, especially the immediate past officers, I don’t know what else could have kept us up till now without us having a new leadership. These past executives who think they are still executives should get it into their heads that they are not. Yes, you don’t longer have any mandate to stay in office so please get that right and allow the process to run smoothly. All we needed from you was for you to organize the elections and ensure a smooth transition just as your predecessors did for you but you failed willfully because of your personal interests. If there is still some love of the association in you, please show it by supporting the Elections Committee to organize the elections as soon as possible. If you can’t do this, don’t interfere with the process.

Your premeditated agenda not to hold the elections led to a law suit in May 2021 when a member, Caroline Boateng, dragged you to court for over staying in office. We didn’t need to get to this point if you had put your personal interests aside and ensured the elections were done. Even when the court directed you and the complainant to resort to Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, that is also still inconclusive

The bottom line is that, the immediate past executives of the GJA including Mr Monney are responsible for what is happening in the GJA today. They are the reasons the association has no leadership today. Per the 2004 Constitution of the GJA, you were supposed to organize the elections before your tenure of office expired on November 17, 2020. Why did you fail to do so? Why did you fail to do so again in 2021 and now we are in 2022 and still, there is no roadmap for the elections. I sincerely believe you did so deliberately to illegally prolong your stay in office.

Some of the national aspirants recently had the course to raise concerns about how some names were been deleted and others added to the provisional voter register that had been published in the national dailies. These are all part of the issues still delaying the process of the election.

On March 3, 2022, the Election Dispute Adjudication Committee of the GJA released a statement and postponed indefinitely, its earlier announcement that it was going to submit a report on the GJA Pre-election Disputes and related matters on March 4, 2022.  No explanation was given for the postponement. As it stands now, there is no roadmap for the organization of the GJA national and regional elections. Why?

By the way, members who follow keenly, developments concerning the organization of the elections were not surprised that the committee could not release a report it earlier promised to release. There are forces behind all these conducts and I call those forces, machinations. Only those behind them know what they are doing, but they should remember that someday, the storm certainly will be over.

Due to the lack of leadership, the GJA was not able to hold its annual award ceremony in 2021. The first quarter of 2022 is almost over and no signs that the elections will be held anytime soon. Should the elections be held late in the year, or not held at all, the awards cannot be done this year, too. Aren’t these things a worry to some people?

More so, because of lack of leadership, the association has not been able to organize capacity training programmes for members as it was supposed to be the case.

The main reason the elections have not been held is simply the issue about a credible voter register. And my questions are; how many are the GJA members to the extent that the Elections Committee cannot compile a simple credible voter register? Why is it difficult for the GJA Secretariat to produce the names of members in good standing and use same for the elections? Are the administrators at the GJA Press Center suggesting that they collect dues from members but don’t keep records of those who pay their dues? How then do you account for the money they pay by way of dues?

Aside these machinations, I also see a lacuna in the GJA Constitution that must be addressed by the next leadership. That lacuna is the failure of the framers of the constitution to have excluded a fixed date for national and regional elections just as we have it in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana that Presidential and Parliamentary elections be held on December 7 in every election year. That way, no officer can manipulate the system and choose when to hold or not to hold the elections when even they know their term has expired just as we have it today.

To event organizers, please, the GJA has no leadership as of today. So, when you are holding your events and intend to invite the executive, just beware of this.

To my dear colleague journalists and media practitioners, our beloved GJA has no leadership so please stop interviewing and addressing former executives as though they were current executives. Just in case you must interview any of them, please go ahead and conduct your interview, but take note and address them as former executives. That way, they will come to the realization that their tenure of office has expired and they must pave way for others to lead our noble association.

 Long live the GJA, long live mother Ghana.

Authored by William Nlanjerbor Jalulah

(A GJA member and General Manager of A1 Radio, Bolgatanga).

NOTE: The views of the writer do not reflect the position of A1 Radio.

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