Executives of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in the Western and Central Regions, have in a letter sighted by Citi News, accused the association’s President of unilaterally decorating investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, with the 21st Overall Best Journalist Award.
According to the executives, Anas’ name had not come up as one of the persons to be awarded the coveted award, and he had also not put in an entry for the award.
Anas’ award celebrates unethical journalism – Dery to ‘fight’ GJA.
This comes barely a day after the Lawyer for dismissed High Court Judge, Justice Paul Uter Dery, confirmed his client’s intention to take an action against the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), for presenting the 21st Best Journalist Award to investigative journalist.
Anas’ work on the judiciary implicated Justice Dery and over thirty others in a massive bribery and corruption piece which won him the award over the weekend.
But the lawyer for the embattled high court judge, Nii Kpakpo Addo, told Citi News that the award rather celebrates unethical journalism.
Below is the letter sighted by Citi News
Western & Central Regions of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) August 29, 16
Dear Sir or Madam:
We, members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in the Western and Central zones wish to express concerns over some fallout from the 21st GJA awards ceremony and leadership challenges in the Association.
We first of all would like to state that the GJA still remains an independent group of professional journalists with a common purpose and interest and not an appendage of any individual, group or organisation connected to it.
Recent developments, actions and the leadership style of the President, Mr. Roland Affail Monney has made the Association unattractive in recent times.
The Association’s AGMs are flawed with omissions, inaccuracies, shortcomings and other administrative lapses that should not be said of an Association that seeks to ‘right the wrong’. This is because the President has failed to lead his team. Every award since Mr. Monney took office, come with controversies that did not augur well for members. He takes unilateral decisions in most critical issues that made companies shy away from the Association because they do not know if we are political, neutral or embedded. His posture and alacrity at which he pushes the Association to the corridors of power and money are unacceptable. Some of these decisions have to do with the sponsorship of the Associations awards and which entrant becomes the journalist of the year among others.
Sponsorship by the highest bidder
It is important to note that, many companies have vowed never to support the GJA again because of the way the President operates and many journalists have also vowed not to be members. In the 2014 awards, the GJA took money from Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to be the lead sponsors of the association’s awards.
Just as the team from GNPC arrived to take position, the lead sponsor was changed to Ideal Finance who promised to train journalists. In his address in 2014, Mr. Monney said Ideal Finance had come up with gargantuan amount to support the association, in this day and age; we have a donor who donates cars to the association.
Again in 2015, awards after smoking the peace pipe with GNPC, he threw their GH¢150,000.00 sponsorship package through the window and later asked them to become co-sponsors.
GNPC declined and went away with their money then came the Ideal moment for the president and Ideal finance to unleash their products on us and our invited guest.
For pride & loss of citations
It should be on record that we are not in for money from any company, if they choose to support, so be it; but not being given the chance to support and hijacking what could be the loveliest ceremony to reward excellence.
The awards committee after their hard work, made recommendations and also took time to write citations for each category. But because the lead sponsor has given us cars, the president of the association in haste to be seen as a celebrity for being the first to have given cars to journalists allowed the lead sponsors financial products to be announced instead of reading the citations.
The 21st Awards entries came with special works in all the categories that won the award such as my baby my Farm, Poison in the calabash, Locked and forgotten, among others. The awards would have been complete if the citations accompanying the stories were read, instead of the products of the lead sponsor.
As journalists, we are proud to quote John Muir a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and an advocate who said “hidden in the glorious wildness like unmined gold,” therefore we cannot sell ourselves for free like that.
Therefore, as journalists, our focus should be on what changes society, the unmined gold not the financial gains by selling the association to the highest bidder.
Journalist of the Year
It is sad to note that, the president took the decision to decide on who becomes the journalist of the year, without discussing with the other five members of his team at the national level.
We recall that after a chaotic emergency general meeting, some members picked up information that Mr. Monney wanted to change who becomes the next journalist of the year contrary to what was recommended by the award committee made up of eminent members.
It should be on record that, the President unilaterally threw aside the recommendations of a committee and changed the journalist of the year to Anas without consulting anyone; more so when it was on record that Anas did not enter the awards.
Mr. Monney failed to discuss with his vice, general secretary, treasurer, organizing secretary and the association’s public relations officer.
On Friday, August 27, 2016, when the issues started coming up, some regional executives overheard the discussion that Mr. Monney wants to switch the overall best award winner to our own brothers, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
After the meeting, the Western Regional Chairman of the association, caught up with him at the main entrance to the building, and questioned him.
His responses were that, “No, you know the name of award winners have been announced and the Journalists of the Year is among them and the name is in a sealed enveloped we have not even opened it.”
“I can assure you that it is not Anas and Anas is nowhere near those recommended for the award, it is therefore sad that,” our president fibbed.
It was obvious that Mr. Monney’s speech did not focus on the theme, Media for Undisputed and Peaceful 2016 Election: “The Support of Civil Society,” but rather dwelled on Anas’ latest work, which is still pending in court just to back his solitary motives.
His message in the booklet is different from what he delivered. Yes Anas, a colleague, a good choice, a committed member of the association with focus on ensuring social justice, but was the decision an informed one from the national executives? No.
Our code of ethics/ Tiger Eye or Anas
We were ashamed when somebody in the audience pointed to me after the awards, that Article 10 Section II of the GJA Code of Ethics, which states, Any report or write-up affecting the reputation of an individual or an organisation without a chance to reply is unfair and must be avoided by journalists. Mr. GJA President, our questions are: did we award the work of Anas as a director of Tiger Eye, as a company or Anas as an individual member whose report goes to Tiger Eye first? It was interesting to note that, the representative of Anas said they were surprised to be called to come for award. When they did not even submit an entry and came to the Banquet Hall with a prepared speech.
Today, because of such solitary act on the part of the GJA President, Dery’s lawyer has threatened action against GJA over Anas Journalist of the Year award. The lawyer condemned the GJA for awarding the mastermind of the shocking exposé that landed his client in trouble and described the act by our noble association as shameful and in contempt of court.
Arise past Presidents
An Akan Proverb says that, when a king has good counsellors, his reign is peaceful, but that king must first listen and consult his kinsmen. That is why we call on the past presidents of the association to step in to save the GJA.
After all, the GJA has now has only the awards ceremony as the main unifier. Also there is the need for the current president be cautious in his dealings with other members of the public and should learn to consult widely for consensus; again it is an association and must remain as such.
I will use this opportunity to call on other impeccable past leaders and our senior colleagues of the association the likes of Ransford Tetteh, Madam Adwoa Yeboah Aferi, Kabral Blay Amihere, Madam Gifty Afenyi Dadzie and a host of others to call the President of the association to order.
This is because; there is no need to fight now, as a “Nigerian Proverb said, In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.”
The President should also do the honorable thing by apologizing to both regional and national executive members and the entire membership of the association.
“And that should not be a precedent” .
Signed: M. Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu, Chairman-one, Western Region, Alice Tettey Chairperson for Central Region