HISTORY OF THE GHANA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION-
GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM STUDENTS’ CHAPTER
The Article 17 of the Constitution of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), mandates the establishment of chapters in media organizations and institutions to coordinate and mobilize members and to enhance the objectives of the association and the functions spelt out under Section C of the Constitution.
Though GJA has existed for 60 years now, it was not until the mid-2000s that the establishment of its first students’ chapter became imminent.
This was made possible by some young visionary and assiduous students of the pioneer journalism institution in Africa, the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).
Edward Ameh, Charles Agbesi and Gabriel Nii Otu Ankrah in 2006, initiated a move to mobilize students in preparation towards the establishment of the chapter on campus.
The leader of the three, Eddie Ameh (as he was popularly known) in consultation with the then administrator at the registry of GIJ who also doubled as the Public Relations Officer of GJA, Mr. Matthew Mac-Kwame, organized the first ever meeting on Tuesday 14th November, 2006, with 20 students attending.
Mr. Mac-Kwame later introduced Eddie and his friends to the Organizing Secretary of GJA, Mr. Dave Agbenu at the Ghana International Press Centre to receive official acceptance, “blessing”, and support as the initiators and to continue their good intents of creating the only students’ chapter.
This move was rewarded greatly as the subsequent Tuesday meetings recorded higher attendances of about 100.
Sadly though, Eddie and Charles soon left campus in 2007 with the association in its nurturing stage.
However, Nii Otu Ankrah took the reigns of leadership from that year with support from his colleagues some of whom were Alfred Neequaye, Nathan Gadugah, Sima Ellimas, Sadat Laminu, Pamela Deh, Romeo, Humphery Ashirifi, Garry and Richard.
The campus chapter became more visible and active as operative structures began forming after the 2007/2008 admissions which led to an increased attendances.
Consequently, on Tuesday, 6th November, 2009 the first-ever students’ chapter of GJA was born and the inaugural ceremony which took place on the same day at the Ghana International Press Centre saw the confirmation of seven of the kingpins of the chapter as the pioneer executive who held positions as follows:
GABRIEL NII OTU ANKRAH (President), ALFRED NEEQUAYE (Vice President), SIMA ELLIMAS (General Secretary), PAMELA DEH (Financial Secretary), NATHAN GADUGAH (Programmes Coordinator), SADAT LAMINU (Programmes Coordinator), and HUMPHERY ASHIRIFI (Programmes Coordinator).
Mr. Matthew Mac-Kwame was appointed the Patron of the chapter.
This was made possible through the effort of these leaders and the instrumentality of the Organising Secretary of GJA, Mr. Dave Agbenu who performed the inauguration under the chairmanship of the Vice President of the Association, Mr. Affail Monney with the then Acting Rector of GIJ, Mr. Kweku Rockson as the Special Guest of Honour.
Invigorated and motivated by the authority vested in them, the new executive of the GJA-GIJ Students’ Chapter worked tirelessly to attract more members into the fold and made it vibrant.
The association undertook a trip to the Boti Falls in the Eastern Region of Ghana, embarked on an institutional tour to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and held a focus group discussion on the GJA Code of Ethics at the Ghana International Press Centre all within November, 2007 and March, 2008.
The tenure of the pioneer executive was soon to come to an end hence, in March, 2008, the chapter held its first elections with the following members getting the nod to serve in eight (8) offices:
OKUNYIN BOAZ ORLAN-HACKMAN (President), KENNETH ODEN ADADE (Vice President), PATIENCE AMENU (General Secretary) HENRIETTA BROCKE (Financial Secretary), CHARLOTTE ADZANU YAYRA (Treasurer), NATOGMA SUGRI MOHAMMED (Programmes Coordinator), THEOPHILUS SAMPAH (Programmes Coordinator), and KWESI YIRENKYI (Programmes Coordinator).
Under the abled leadership of these astute, uncompromising and enterprising young and energetic men and women, the students’ chapter soared to greater heights.
Membership grew leap and bound when the executive quickly organized a registration exercise which recorded hundred students, that is, (50) registrants instantly with some fifty (50) more joining later.
The magnificent innovative programming which characterized the tenure of the first elected executive culminated in the increased vibrancy and recognition of the association becoming the second most attractive and visible organization after the SRC on campus.
Within September, 2008 and April, 2009, the chapter embarked on a series of activities. The major ones included the following:
1. A political forum to interact with the major contesting parties in the run up to the 2008 general election which was attended by representatives from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – Charles Owiredu, The National Democratic Congress (NDC) – Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa who is now a deputy minister of information, and the Convention People’s Party (CPP) – Prince Okyere. The programmer was chaired by Mr. Dave Agbenu and graced by Mr. Kweku Rockson – the then Acting Rector of GIJ as the special guest of honour.
2. “Professional Tour” TO TV3
3. A forum on theme: “Deepening Our Democracy – The Role of Student Journalists” with the following as speakers: Dr. Doris Yaa Dartey, Communications Consultant, Mr. George Sarpong, Executive Secretary – National Media Commission and Mr. Bright Blewu, General Secretary – GJA.
The chapter held its 2nd successful elections on Wednesday, 3rd June, 2009 with the following getting the mandate as the new executive, who assumed office in September, 2009:
UMARU SANDA AMADU (President), EDWARD KWABI (Vice President), MARY AWUDI (General Secretary), ADUWAA GRAHAM (Financial Secretary), RITA ARTHUR (Treasurer), GEORGE APPIAH (Programmes Coordinator), REGINA ASAMOAH (Programmes Coordinator), and ELIZABETH BOAFO (Programmes Coordinator).
The Umaru Sanda led administration took office with high hopes of growing the GJA students chapter to an enviable position that all Associations and Clubs on campus would wish to attain. Indeed the current executives have surged on with GJA as some interesting programmes, activities and projects were initiated.
The executive took office in September and by October we had started posting our members to TV3, which is currently the only media house under the GJA membership attachment scheme. Through this scheme which was initiated by the past executive led by Okunyin Boaz Hackman, twenty-four (24) members of GJA students chapter have benefited immensely, notable amongst them are our own President Umaru Sanda and SRC vice president Joshua Tigo.
In November we undertook a professional tour to Daily Graphic to enable our members familiarize themselves with the operations of the print media. We also organized series of educational fora and workshops. To mention a few;
• The workshop on climate change dubbed ‘Copenhagen in Accra’ which we had Dr. Doris Yaa Dartey, one time host of talking point and a columnist with spectator as our resource person.
• A forum on the ‘practice of journalism’ which had Mr. Timothy Quarshigah, the head of the broadcast department as our resource person.
• We also organized a short lecture on ‘what to expect on the job market’ addressed by Mr. Henry Malm, a broadcast journalist with TV3 as the main speaker.
• We also collaborated with the Yaa Asantewa Hall of the GIJ to organize a forum on the Oil Exploits of Ghana addressed by some energy expects including the founder and leader of the United Renaissance Party, Chuck Kofi Wayo on the role journalists can play in checking corruption from the new area of the economy.
Besides workshops and fora, we also embarked on an expedition tour to Nzulenzu, the village on the silt dubbed ‘tour of the year’ in collaboration with two other halls on campus. This tour was aimed at familiarizing ourselves with the indigenes of Nzulenzu and also to learn more about their natural habitat.
Although not all promises made by this administration prior to our election to office have been met, we have strived through the financial constraints the association was facing when we took over office, to execute a number of projects. Key among them include;
• The drafting of our constitution which is going to be unveiled today.
• Execution of the GJA internship project which saw countless number of members benefiting from a media house like TV3 and we commend TV3 for this collaboration and hope to renew the contract with them soon.
• Under this administration we have been able to maintain our sponsorship ties with Accra Brewery Limited and we are proud to be associated with them. We have also secured some sponsorship from telecom giant- MTN for an undisclosed fee, and plans are underway for them to erect a secretariat on campus for us hopefully next semester.
• We again fulfilled our promise of creating a website which enables us communicate our activities to the members and the outside world.
On the 20th May 2010 however, the administration had done their bit and needed to hand-over power so the GJA-GIJ went to the polls with a record turnout of 160 to elect a new crop of leadership.
The executives elect are as follows: Felix Akoyam, President, Etsey Atisu, Vice President, Priscilla Sogah, General Secretary, Josephine Aidoo, Financial Secretary, Esther Asare, Treasurer, Rosa Annang, Public Relations Officer and Humphrey Hammond, Diana Sowatei and Priscilla Opoku Abrefi as Program Coordinators.
We have the greatest conviction that our successors will uphold the office in high esteem and will execute all uncompleted projects.
We hope that by next year, this time, they would have written their names in this history book I am reading tonight. Thank you for your audience and enjoy the programme.