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Belling the Cat: Dwumfour's GJA Presidency, sceptics, onerous task

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Albert Kwabena Dwumfour giving his victory speech
Albert Kwabena Dwumfour giving his victory speech

Congratulations, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour. When journalists went to the polls on June 24 to elect their national leaders you emerged victorious as the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

You polled 233 votes to beat competition from Gayheart Edem Mensah and Dave Agbenu, with 182 votes and 142 votes, respectively.

I am sure you are still in the celebration mood, and deservedly so; because you fought the battle of your life.

You suffered bruises but you now have the last laugh. I did not vote for you. I voted for Dave Agbenu, the Editor of Ghanaian Times.

My wish was for Dave to win. I wanted him to win because I believed in his message that he was an industry person who had "been in the trenches" with journalists . I also thought he had garnered enormous experience having served as organising secretary and General Secretary of the GJA.

Beggars would ride horses if wishes came true. But they do not. He lost. You won. With the elections behind us, how we can collectively awaken the GJA from its slumber?

You made a clear statement that you had the magic wand to turn things around for the better. Our wise elders say that a group of lions led by a sheep is easily wiped off in battle, whereas a herd of sheep led by a lion is indestructible.

Sceptics

Many of us were anti-Dwumfour because we felt you were not in the trenches with journalists, and since you did not sleep in the room, you did not know where it leaked.

I heard a friend pose the question "how can the GJA sink this low for journalists to elect someone who has not written a single story to lead the association?”

Some also made reference to the video that circulated prior to the election in which your boss at the Tobinco Group of Companies was heard purportedly impressing on journalists to vote for you to protect his business.

From that perspective, some people felt that you would use the association as a conduit to pursue business interests.
Whatever the grievances were, whether such claims were justifiable or not, you have the stage to prove all wrongorright.

Your diagnosis

One consistent message you took to journalists across the country was to institute an insurance scheme to take care of the welfare of GJA members.

You also declared that as President, you would give the opportunity to journalists to sharpen their skills; build capacity in areas relevant to journalism; and also facilitate more exchange programmes to expose local journalists to international best practices.

You vowed to protect media practitioners from all forms of intimidation and attacks.

“Nobody can be an impediment to the progress and development of the media. They cannot threaten our safety and security,” you are quoted as saying, when you interacted with journalists in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital.

Among other things, you assured journalists that under your watch, "media freedom will be upheld at all levels for the society’s sustainable growth.” You also sent a strong signal that you would device innovative ways to generate revenue for the GJA to enhance its operations.

Onerous task

William Shakespeare, hit the nail on the head when he said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."

You are taking the stage at a time of public outcry about the lowering of media standards in the country, when the nagging issue of who actually is a journalist remains unanswered; when some journalists virtually live on ‘soli’, without pay; when social media has held the traditional media at the throat; and when fake news is virtually taking the driver's seat in a section of the media.

Some people also say the GJA has been reduced to an award-organising association. The list continues ad-infinitum.

Belling the cat

How well you would navigate these thorny curves will be a matter of interest to watchers and actors in the media space.

You have been given the stage now. While some men exit, you have been offered the entrance.

The blend of experience and fresh wine the elected executive of the association is composed of gives hope that there could be something good in Nazareth.

How well you carry the other members of the executive board along would determine how far you go.

The acts and scenes that play out on the stage you have will bear testimony to how well you used the stage.

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