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GJA campaign heats up

BY: Delali Sika & Dickson Worlanyo Dotse
Mary Mensah — Organising Secretary aspirant, Akwasi Agyeman — Aspiring General Secretary and  Rebecca Ekpe — Public Affairs Officer contestant
Mary Mensah — Organising Secretary aspirant, Akwasi Agyeman — Aspiring General Secretary and Rebecca Ekpe — Public Affairs Officer contestant

The campaign for various positions of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) heats up with the criss-crossing of media houses by the various aspirants jostling for votes.

Almost all the aspirants have since Monday visited the head office of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to sell their message.

They are presidential hopefuls Albert Kwabena Dwumfuor and Gayheart Edem Mensah, General Secretary aspirants, Edmund Kofi Yeboah, Akwasi Agyeman, and Organising Secretary contender, Dominic Hlordzi, who is challenging Mary Mensah of the Daily Graphic.

As at the time of writing this report, the third presidential aspirant, Dave Agbenu, was scheduled to visit the GCGL today.

Another hotly contested position is the Public Affairs Officer. Rebecca Ekpe of GBC is slugging it out with Caesar Abagali of the Ghana News Agency.

As members of the association head to the polls to elect new leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, the aspirants tried to convince journalists that they are the best choices.

Gayheart Mensah

Gayheart Mensah’s message centred on the welfare, security and protection of journalists as part of his focus when given the presidential nod.

He stated that those three things would help restore the respect and value placed on journalists, stressing that, they would help increase the ratings of journalists on the job market.

“Welfare of journalists, security and protection of journalism are variables of professionalism and ethics. These are the three things that are eating our profession at this point in time.
Here comes the opportunity as a professional association, a responsibility to make sure that our ratings go up. This is what I am willing to do,” he said.

Other issues he would address when elected was to make the association attractive to the young journalist and building the integrity of the annual GJA awards.

Albert Dwumfuor

Mr Dwumfuor said this was the time to transform the association in a way that would reposition it from its current reactive state to a proactive one.

He also said the GJA needed a leader who was vibrant, proactive and could speak truth to power.

Kofi Yeboah

Earlier, a General Secretary hopeful of the GJA, Edmund Kofi Yeboah, last Monday assured members of the association that he would continue to play the watchdog role to protect the integrity of the association.

Mr Yeboah, who is seeking re-election as General Secretary, outlined his vision for the association.

He said aside from playing a watchdog role, the welfare of journalists in the country would continue to be his priority.

He revealed that contrary to claims that he was not a team player, he had rather stood up for the right things to be done all the time.

Mr Yeboah, who urged members to vote in the best interest of the GJA, said he had the qualities suited for the job and desired to work for members of the association.

"I desire to serve members, and I desire to leave a positive legacy for the good of the GJA," he said.

"A vote for me is a vote for progress," he added.

He also gave assurances of his commitment to accept the results of the elections and said he had prepared his handover notes in the unlikely event that the elections did not favour him.

Dominic Hlordzi

For his part, Mr Hlordzi said that the association was in dire need of a new leadership because the ranking of journalists with respect to their professionalism had gone down in recent times.

“I’m in to help with the organisation. People come for GJA programmes and they complain because a lot of things are not being done right,” he explained.
Mr Hlordzi added that he sought to institute an all-inclusive association that ensured the interests of all journalists were adequately represented.

Akwasi Agyeman

Mr Agyeman said the office of the GJA General Secretary had become dormant and for that reason he sought to revive the institution because it was the driving force of the association.

He added that he would ensure the GJA constitution was adhered to, particularly with regard to membership-related issues.

“I will serve you better and things will change because I’ll have time for the job and I will have time for journalists,” Mr Agyeman said.

Rebecca Ekpe

In a brief address, Ms Ekpe, if elected, said she hoped to improve upon the image of journalists and the association as a whole.

“Public Affairs is all about branding, so what type of journalists do you want to look like?” she asked.

Ms Ekpe also said she would create opportunities that would improve on accessibility of the association by its members, adding that she would put the GJA at the forefront to ensure journalists got what they deserved.

Caesar Abagali

For his part, Mr Abagali said the Public Affairs’ office of the association had be made more vibrant in bringing journalists together when one of them was attacked.

He also said the norm of electing the national executive solely from Accra was an error that needed to be corrected because people in other regions also had a lot to offer the association.

“Being in the other regions should not be a barrier,” Mr Abagali added.

Journey to the elections

The journey to the election of the national executive of the GJA had not been without drama. First was the fact that the tenure of office of the current GJA executive ended on November 17, 2020.

The election of new officers, however, delayed because a member raised a constitutional issue on the mandate of the executive, whose tenure had ended, ability to supervise the election.

That matter was resolved through an internal settlement. When a second attempt was made to organise the election, some contestants raised issues with the credibility of the voters register.
It is after the resolution of all the disputes that the Elections Dispute Adjudication Committee fixed June 24, 2022 for the national and regional elections to go ahead.

Petitions

When all seemed to have settled for the elections to come off, in a letter dated June 16, 2022, a member of the Western Regional branch of the association, Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu, petitioned the chairman of the Elections Committee against one of the candidates contesting the president’s position on the allegation of paying money to some members of the Western Regional GJA to induce them to vote in his favour.

In submitting his petition, Mr Aklorbortu invoked Article 52 (b) (c) and (d) of the GJA constitution 2004

The petition did not go unchallenged, as the Western Regional Secretary of the association, Zambaga Rufai Saminu, in a letter dated the same day, June 16, 2022, also petitioned the Chairman of the Elections Committee against unethical and despicable conduct of Mr Aklorbortu.