Don’t deny us our rights - Northern Ghana Actors Guild

By: Samuel Duodu, TAMALE
Alhassan Yushawu Jahanfo of Northern Ghana Actors Guild
Alhassan Yushawu Jahanfo of Northern Ghana Actors Guild

MEMBERS of the Ghana Actors Guild (GAG) in the three northern regions have urged the guild’s Electoral Commission to, as a matter of urgency, decentralise its voting process to allow every registered member to vote wherever they are in their upcoming national election or transport them to voting centres.

The members of Northern Ghana Actors Guild are kicking against a decision by the national executives to sponsor a delegation from each of the three regions to attend the guild’s upcoming Annual General Congress which will come off on Saturday, October 27 at the Arts Centre in Accra, of which the election is a key aspect, saying it is an attempt to disenfranchise them.

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The members say they received a letter signed by the National President of the Ghana Actors Guild, Mr Samuel Fiscian, asking the chapters in the three regions to nominate a representative each, either the regional chairman or a member, to represent them at the congress.

Per the letter, the representative will cast his or her vote on behalf of all the members of that particular chapter but the members say this move is undemocratic and a violation of their right to vote.

The Vice Chairman of the Northern Regional Chapter of the Ghana Actors Guild, Alhassan Yushawu Jahanfo, who is also the Coordinator for the three northern regions, told Showbiz, "If they don't want the entire Ghana Actors Guild to go back to square zero then they should rescind the earlier decision to invite a representative each from the three regions of the north and make provision for every registered member to vote.”

He said it was wrong for the national leadership to deny their registered members the right to vote.

“Our demand is that the Electoral Commission should either decentralise the process for every registered member to vote from wherever they are or transport us to the voting centre to vote," he stated.

Mr Jahanfo said in 2013, more than 200 people registered to be members and were inaugurated by the late former President of Ghana Actors Guild, Nii Odoi Mensah, but after the guild’s constitutional crisis, a mediation committee that was set up recommended that every member should re-register.

"So prior to the election, about 25 people registered from the Northern and Upper East Regions and we don't see why we should be denied our right, whereas in 2014 we were sponsored to attend the congress," he added.

However, the Secretary for the Ghana Actors Guild’s Electoral Commission, Mr Dan Tei-Mensah, told Showbiz they did not intend to disenfranchise anyone but had taken the decision because of financial constraints.

“We are not financially strong to accommodate and feed every member of the guild for the congress and that is why we asked each chapter to send a delegation on their behalf. The congress goes beyond the elections, there are other activities but we cannot have all of them here for it.

On why they could not allow the members to vote anywhere they liked as requested, Mr Tei-Mensah said it all boiled down to finances.

“It all takes money which we don’t have. I can assure you that we do not intend to deny them the right to vote, nor are trying to entice them to vote for anyone in particular.

“We are improving and we hope to be able to open up the Electoral College for everyone to vote in subsequent elections.

“This year, we are introducing electronic voting and it is all to cut down on cost because that is easier and faster and people don’t have to sleep over for results,” he stated.

Mr Tei-Mensah said the guild’s regional elections were coming up and all the members could vote anywhere they liked.

The Annual General Congress is the highest decision-making body of the guild. The congress will discuss the annual reports, including projects the guild has embarked on, financial reports, among others, as well as hold the elections for national executives.