By Lloyd Evans
Members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) are expected to go to the polls before the end of this month to elect new officers to stir the affairs of the Association for the next three years.
The elections should have taken place sometime in September/October 2020 but due to reasons best known to the national executive members under the leadership of Roland Affail Monney failed to let that happened.
According to the Constitution of the Association Article 15 clause (c) “All members of the National Executive shall hold office for a term of three (3) years and shall be eligible for re-election”.
For nearly 18 months, the national executive officers have illegally stayed in office without recourse to the members of the association.
In 2017, the same illegal staying in office occurred, and it took a lot of pressure from some senior members of the Association to have the elections held.
This time round, it took a member to issue a court process in May 2021 to force the executive to prepare and hold the election. This is very disgusting, disappointing and shameful.
The statement of claims filed at the Accra High Court were that the first defendant, Roland Affail Monney and the entire national executives (second defendants) tenure of office terminated on November 17th 2020 and therefore cannot set up an election committee to conduct any form of election for the Association.
The claims further stated that the action so far taken by the Election Committee, which was the third defendant in the suit, was therefore against the very constitution that set up all the defendants up.
Among the reliefs the Plaintiff sought from the courts were an order against the defendants from holding themselves as officers of the Association; An order for the appointment of an Interim Management Committee; Declare all the actions of the defendants from November 17th 2020 to date as null and void and any other orders as the court deems fit.
Like the 2017 court case which challenged the constitutionality of the national executives and the Election Committee under the chairmanship of Benedict Assorow, the parties in the 2022 court case also went for an out-of-court settlement with the hope that reasonwill prevail.
The 2017 issue
The issues leading to the 2017 elections were very interesting if not bizarre.
Some contestants were disqualified for not being in good standing and other related issues, as well as not meeting the 90 days requirement before the elections.
Fast-forward, these disqualified members petitioned the Elections Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) under Article 53 (Sec b) clause (i). Under Session (a) clause (vi) which states that, “the decision of the Elections Dispute Adjudication Committee shall be final”.
After going through the various petitions and series of interviews and deliberations, the Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh ruled that in the light of the manifest constitutional breaches that have characterized the whole election process, it will not be fair, just and reasonable to disqualify some candidates for breaching some aspects of the constitution.
During the deliberations of the Committee, it came to light that all aspects of the constitution towards the election process had been breached by the executives themselves.
Illegal extension of their extended mandate, not following due election processes and procedures required by the constitution of the Association and flawed procedure not informed by the constitutional provisions.
More interestingly, the executive could not even come clear whether a purported meeting that extended their mandate was an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting or Annual General Meeting.
The so-called minutes provided by the General Secretary of that meeting could not provide who moved the motion, seconded it and whether it was put to vote. The executives could not again tell whether there was any resolution to extend their mandate.
These are the kind of people that have once again over stayed their tenure of office for the second time and have rebranded and upgraded themselves to contest for higher positions to lead the Association.
The over three years that they have been in office in addition to the illegal eighteen (18) months, not a single general meeting had been held neither have they even accounted for the general dues they have received over those periods.
Funding for the GJA awards is another topic for another day. The simple reason is that they see the members of the Association as nothing but dumb-bells.
The Boadu-Ayeboafoh Committee in summary of their report made far-reaching recommendations to help the Association move forward and to avoid any protracted and distracting litigation in the future.
Among the recommendations, the Committee said dues should be paid annually and in advance in line with Article 8 (a), (ii); Desist from relying on the convention of extending executive’s mandate and stick to the constitutional provisions; AGMs and EGMs must be properly called, minutes well taken, prepared and circulated, motions moved and seconded and where possible voting patterns documented and with all meetings being chaired by the President or the Vice.
The Report also stated that proper documentation and records of all meetings and publications of members in good standing must be published in April of every year and possibly a supplementary one thereafter; Follow the election timetable as provided for by the Constitution, and finally called for the review of the Constitution to deal with certain practical and evolving trends.
Like the dead goat syndrome, the National Executive threw all these recommendations and caution to the wind. They never acted on any of the recommendations by the committee.
Simple put, this is pure arrogant of the leadership of the GJA. It is therefore not surprising that we are back into this mess.
Bloating of the 2017 Voters Register
While some contestants were busy fighting to restore their names on the ballot paper due to the diabolical disqualification by the Election Committee, the Secretariat of the Association with the tacit support of the national and some regional executives were very busy stuffing the voter’s register with ghost names just for the sake of winning the 2017 elections.
The Register of voters was stuffed from five regions, Greater Accra with mostly students from Ghana Institute of Journalism, the Western, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions. I have participated in various elections of the GJA since becoming a member in 1984 and this has never happened before. I will call it the sad days of the GJA.
Complaints were made by some of the aspirants to the Election Committee, but sadly nothing was done. It seems they were there to do the dirty bidding of the National Executives and to seek their own selfish interest, which of course they did.
The voter’s list was poorly captured and presented, especially when it came to the general list. Fortunately, this has manifested in the 2022 voters list, and it is there for all to see.
According to the Adjudication Committee’s report of 2022 under the Chairmanship of Mrs Marian Angela Kyei, over two hundred and sixty-seven (267) persons provided as members on the list of Mr. Fiifi Nettey, an administrator at the secretariat were not recorded by Ms. Dora Larbi the accountant as paid up members of the Association. So what does that tell you.
So the question is where did Fiifi Nettey get those names from or who provided him with such names which were not captured by the accountant as fully paid up members.
This simply tells you that the names were captured as stated earlier during the 2017 elections to serve as a buffer for the incumbent to win the 2017 elections at all cost. This criminal intent is very disgraceful, atrocious and appalling to say the least.
The 2022 Elections – to hold or not to
The members of the Election Committee of 2017 under the Chairmanship of Benedict Assorow could have done a great deal of service for the GJA if they had paid a little attention to the concerns on the voter’s list as raised by some aspirants. But singing to their master’s voices, they cared less about their cry and behaved like village head teachers or tin gods whose words are final.
This is the first time in history that the voters or membership list of the GJA has been bloated for an election. This has never happened before, and it is a great indictment on the leadership of Roland Affail Monney and the Election Committee chaired by Benedict Assorow. The administrator can never insert those ghost names if it has not been sanctioned by the national executives.
This shows the level of perceived corruption and malpractices that have existed all these years at the GJA secretariat and within the leadership. These are the people that have recycled themselves to once again lead the Association in higher positions. God save the GJA and the entire membership.
The 267 ghost names that have been found in the list of voters must be fully investigated, and the perpetuators brought to book. This should not be business as usual. This is a despicable act and very shameful, wicked and disgraceful which must not be left unattended.
Journalists are the first to stand on rooftops to talk and write about corruption and malpractices, but it is worse in their own backyard. The national executives under the leadership of Roland Affail Monney do not have shame.
It is not enough for the 2022 Adjudication Committee to just call for a unified list of eligible members by the General Secretary and the Treasurer as updated to form the bases of the register to validate the final list of paid-up members.
If the 2022 elections is anything to go by, then the Election Committee will have to sit up and do what is required. But for some of us we do not even have any confidence in the current Election Committee to conduct credible elections and the chairman knows that.