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Manasseh Azure Awuni

Stay Off GJA Awards – Manasseh Azure Tells Nana Addo.

Manasseh Azure Awuni has told H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa to keep off GJA Awards. According to the investigative journalist and editor for the Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure, he this morning received information from one of the Journalists of the Year that is inviting the Journalists of the Year to join delegate to honour an invitation from Nana Addo. The purpose of this meeting was; 

  • Proposal for government to pick up prize ( house or car) for journalist of the year
  • Stimulus package for media
  • Safety of journalist
  • Capacity enhancement
  • Press center development
  • AOB

He made this comment through a facebook post. In the post he said,

Good morning. Hope the grace abounds at your end. You’re respectfully invited to join GJA delegation to call on His Excellency the President , Nana Akufo- Addo at Jubilee House. 
Date: Monday, 28th June 2021
Reporting Time: 3pm 
1. Proposal for government to pick up prize( CAR or HOUSE) for Journalist of the Year .
2. Stimulus package for media. 
3. Safety of Journalists
4. Capacity Enhancement 
5. Press Centre Redevelopment Project. 
6. AOB
Affail Monney
MANASSEH’S TAKE: My attention has , this morning, been drawn to this meeting. This was the invitation sent to one of the four Journalists of the Year that have been invited. My problem is not the fact that only four out of the many Journalists of the Year have been invited. 
I have been reliably informed that some GJA executives, including the General Secretary, got to know about this meeting from one of the Journalists of the Year to whom the above invitation was sent. I have also been informed that the notification for the meeting was put on the GJA executives’ platform only yesterday, but it was without the agenda. The president said a limited number of GJA executives (excluding the outspoken General Secretary) and four Journalists of the Year were attending the meeting with the President.
This means a decision like this is likely to have been a unilateral one. And this is not new with the Affail Monney-led association.
It is perfectly fine for the president to want to meet the GJA and selected journalists to discuss the safety of journalists. In my opinion and in the opinions of the likes of Dr. Charles Wereko Brobbey, the safety and independence of journalists are seeing one of their worst moments in the Fourth Republic under Akufo-Addo. So, it’s commendable if the president wants to meet with journalists and do something about it.
Also, if the government wants to provide a stimulus package to the media, whose struggles have been compounded by Covid-19, it should come in the form of an income tax waiver so that it can be equitable. Dolling out cash will not only likely sideline critical or perceived opposition media, but some people will use this opportunity to “eat in the media’s account” as we often say here. 
If the government wants to help with the redevelopment of the Press Centre, it’s a good idea provided there won’t be unfavourable strings attached to the offer.”
According to him, his problem is the item one, that the government want to award the Journalist of the Year. He opines that, some institutions have been alleged to influence past award winners, hence, the president should keep off the award.

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“My problem with the agenda is item number one. The government should stay off the GJA awards. Already, some shady corporate bodies have been alleged to have influenced who won what in the past”,he explained.
He continued that, “When Affail Monney took over as GJA President, credible companies were fighting for the opportunity to sponsor the ultimate prize. Because of mismanagement and misdeeds, Uniliver, MTN and others have washed their hands off the GJA awards.
The main solution is to deal with the problems associated with the awards, and corporate bodies will be willing to support the media in that regard.
In our country, where the politicians would want to dictate everything, the government may want to have a say in who wins the awards if it is the one sponsoring the ultimate winner. It will want to call the tune when it is the one paying the piper.
Besides, Affail Monney’s tenure as GJA President has been over since last year. Elections will be held soon. He should not be in a haste to take unfavourable decisions that will be binding on the new crop of executives who will be coming with their own agenda.
And if there is the need for such decisions to be taken, why should other executives of the association be left out of decisions that will be binding on the entire GJA and journalists?

Finally, the most important need for journalists now is to be able to practice in an atmosphere of safety and independence. That is more important to critical-minded journalists than buying goodwill.” 
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