Counting the days... Graphic regularises my appointment

BY: Vance Azu
Vance Azu

After working for two years as a reporter on national service, in addition to a year as a stringer with The Mirror, my appointment was finally regularised on September 1, 1994.

The receipt of my appointment letter a few days before the appointment took effect brought me some joy, which ultimately renewed my commitment and invigorated me to work harder to justify the confidence the company had in me by engaging me as a reporter.

I duly completed my three-month probation, having gone all out to get the most exclusive of all the exclusive stories for The Mirror.

It was around that same period that my membership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) was regularised, having been an affiliate member during my three-year period as a service person and stringer.

Graphic Chapter

When I joined Graphic, the Graphic Chapter of the GJA, with Ransford Tetteh as the Chairman, was the most powerful of all the chapters of the association. Whatever the Graphic Chapter said was binding on the national executive. Many issues confronted the GJA and the national executive waited for input from the Graphic Chapter before it took decisions. The Graphic Chapter, therefore, wielded some influence on the national executive.

I remember very well that during that period, the national executive of the GJA, headed by Edward Ameyibor, was seen to be less potent and always hesitated in taking decisions that were not palatable to the military administration under Jerry Rawlings.

Consequently, there were discussions among a section of the membership, some of which I had been privy to, on head-hunting for a national President for the GJA from the independent media.

The reason was that if the GJA chose a leader from the state-owned media, it would spell doom for the association because Mr Ameyibor, the incumbent President, was an editor at the Ghana News Agency.

Search for new GJA President

The search for a new GJA President intensified, and as fate would determine, Kabral Blay-Amihere, a former Director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), prolific writer, influential and courageous journalist who once worked with one of the respected media owners and advocate of press freedom, Tommy Thompson, who bankrolled the Free Press, one of the foremost independent newspapers which predated the Fourth Republic, was identified.

 It came as no surprise that, at the polls, he won a landslide, defeating Cyril Acolatse of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Blay-Amihere thus became the President of the GJA in 1993, succeeding Mr Ameyibor.

With the 1993 transfer at Graphic which affected four senior journalists in the Editorial Department, the Graphic Chapter of the GJA lost its steam. Ransford Tetteh, the Chairman, had been sent to Koforidua, while Kwaku Bakah, the Secretary, headed for Takoradi.

With the departure of those stalwarts, the chapter was orphaned, even though Frankie Asare-Donkoh, who was the Assistant Secretary, assumed the position of Secretary and tried to reinvigorate the chapter, but to no avail.

Along the line, Asare-Donkoh also resigned and I took over the secretaryship of the chapter.

Lloyd Evans the Business Editor, became the Chairman, while Michael Crabbe became the Vice-Chairman.

LIoyd did his best to restore the chapter to its glorious days by whipping up interest in the activities of the GJA, which had been badly battered by apathy on the part of members.

His efforts did not get anywhere and eventually he abandoned the sinking ship. It was a big blow to Crabbe and I when LIoyd left the position. We tried to persuade some senior members to at least take over the chairmanship of the chapter because Michael and I were junior officers, but all those we engaged declined.

Finally, Kojo Sam, a senior colleague, took over the chairmanship of the chapter. After chairing one meeting, which did not end well, he decided to leave the position.

As a result of the crack left in the chapter, Crabbe assumed the position of acting chairman, while I remained the secretary. The two of us decided to take the bull by the horn and get members to show some interest in GJA affairs. We did that by engaging members to appreciate the importance of being members, as well as the benefits one could derive from the association.

Mantle fell on me

We did our best, and just about when Crabbe and I were chalking up some successes, he had to travel to the United Kingdom for further studies. He later resigned from the organisation.

But I was undaunted by that piece of news and took up the challenge to reorganise the chapter.

A meeting was held and some appointments were made to beef up the executive of the chapter. I assumed the position of acting Chairman, Adwoa Serwaa Bonsu was made the treasurer, Donald Ato Dapatem the Secretary among others.

However, in the end, it became a one-man chapter, with all the powers vested in me. I held the fort and made the chapter very attractive. I was later on confirmed unanimously as the chairman.

It was when my exploits caught the attention of the Executive Management and the Managing Director of the company at the time, Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, who started addressing me as Chairman, that my colleagues realised how attractive that office had become.

Then the GJA members at Graphic began complaining that I had overstayed my tenure and that we should call for an election.

They then gave me the tag Chairman For Life aka Mugabe.

Anytime they raised that concern, I told them that when that office was considered unattractive for a very long time, nobody bothered about election until I had transformed the chapter into an attractive one.

 I held on to my position until 2017 when I resigned to contest a GJA national executive position - Organising Secretary.  

To be continued.

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The writer is the Night Editor of the Daily Graphic