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Opinions of Saturday, 19 November 2016

Columnist: Frederick Noamesi

Why GIJ Eminence Awards is a sham

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Frederick Noamesi

Awards events are noble initiatives instituted by some individuals and organizations to recognize and honour distinguished personalities whose achievements have contributed meaningfully to the life of others in one way or the other in the society.

Unfortunately, most of these awards schemes have not lived up to expectation due to a number of factors including lack of fairness and credibility issues which the event organizers themselves can be blamed for.

For example, In Ghana today, a lot of awards ceremonies are organized weekly targeting rewarding deserving people for their achievements but ended rewarding the wrong persons. A situation which is nothing good to write home about since they’ve all been indeed marred with one kind of social vices or the other.

One of such awards schemes which lost its value owing to credibility issues is the GIJ Eminence Awards which seeks to recognize, encourage and honour positive works of young people in our society (students), according to the so-called event organizers.

The idea was a brainchild of RAD Africa, an upcoming multimedia company with support from the Echo of Leadership Organization, an NGO and few other mushroom companies. According to the event organizers, the awards also promised to serve as a springboard for many young talents who aspire to reach higher heights with their works, efforts and contribution to national development.

However, a careful look at the maiden edition of the GIJ Eminence Awards which took place at the Christ the King Parish Hall in Accra on the eve of November 11, 2016 can be described as a total sham due to lack of fairness exuded by the event organizers in determining actual winners who are students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).

The event has left many students dissatisfied with most of them questioning the selection process or the criteria adopted by the organizers in declaring deserving students.

Barely few minutes to close of the event many tongues have already begun wagging with others who took to some campus social media platforms insulting the organizers of cheating to register their displeasure. Information gathered by during and after the event, revealed the organizers have not exuded fairness in the selection process of winners.

Most students have raised a lot concerns, one of them is about a nominee, Tryphena Yeboah who picked up three (3) Awards during the night on what merit? They’ve questioned her achievements. A thorough research into Tryphena Yeboah’s account online via Google Search revealed she hasn’t done much to be declared winner of the 'STUDENT WRITTER/ BLOGGER OF THE YEAR AWARDS’ amidst the likes of renowned student bloggers , Joseph Kobla Wemakor, Alfred Arday and Edwin Abanga whose stories have featured on some leading websites in Ghana.

Another Student, whose wining of awards created doubts in the minds of people, was Sandra Hyde who was adjudged winner for the ‘ONLINE MEDIA PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARDS' category. Sandra Hyde's works under the year of review is not enough to get her the awards judging from her records and visibility online in terms of producing and publication of stories.

Others have come to conclusion that the Eminence Awards was an avenue for the organizers to make money rather than to honour deserving students as claimed by the so-called organizers due to the introduction of the online voting system. They questioned why the student awards scheme be focused on 60% Online Voting, 10% Social Media voting (liking of nominee’s pictures on Facebook and Instagram) and only putting 30% of power in the hands of Judges to decide winners? (unfair).

Obviously the voting system cannot be trusted since most people are able to vote more than once. Furthermore the event organizers were also accused of manipulating the system to favour their own people owing to some of undeservingly nominees picking up 2-3 different categories of awards. The organizers have also come under barrage of attack for focusing much attention on awarding stars or celebrity instead of celebrating their own students which the awards seeks to achieve.

Also the criterion for selecting the most influential student of the year was questioned. What was his achievement to merit such an honour? Is there any contribution made by him which has impacted the School or any of the students positively? Or is it just about him having many friends to vote for him online or just like his picture on Facebook and Instagram pages making him the winner of the most Influential student awards?. The question is why introducing an online voting system which places popularity over performance and achievement as criteria for selecting and awarding deserving students? Hmmm!!! Too many questions oh!.

I believe these are real questions that demand an answer everyone will be interested to know about.

In fact these days there are a lot awards being given out to most distinguished personalities globally by some International organizations which even most Ghanaians were beneficiaries. For example one of such beneficiary is the ace Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas who has won up to fourteen (14) International Awards so far including the GJA overall Best Journalists of the Year Awards 2015 for his acclaimed investigative work. Not to talk about the local awards he received. The question is did any of these organizations (local or foreign) who honored Anas introduced any form of online voting as a criteria or basis for honoring him? Then why should the GIJ Eminence Awards organizers employ such a fraudulent means as a basis for awarding deserving students? Only God knows why.

Events Consultant and Associate Editor, Awake, Korsi Senyo believes the GIJ Eminence organizers have misconducted themselves by introducing the online voting system owing to the total failure of their noble intention. He questioned why students must be allowed to pick up an award without doing anything positive to show that they truly deserve it.

“So long as you are visible on Facebook or can market yourselves online does not mean you qualify to win an award? “This is a total disgrace to our nation and you must all bow down your heads in shame. Journalism should not be reduced to this level. First of all what have to market if you have not done anything? He quizzed the event organizers. Describing the 60% online voting system as a total sham, Korsi Senyo appealed to Richard Anim Damoah, CEO of RAD Africa and his cohorts to focus on performance and achievements as a mark of determining outstanding students before presenting awards to them.

He proffers internship programs for upcoming award companies to learn from experienced ones before organizing any of such awards program in order to put credibility issues behind.

Meanwhile a renowned Ghanaian Media Expert based in US, Esi Mansa Bruce who shared her experience on the matter via Facebook wrote “I ‘ve noticed that in Ghana the best does not win awards. It's rather the most popular person on social media that wins awards or the most branded person. There are award programs every weekend in Ghana awarding same people. No new discoveries. They are all a sham”.

I believe RAD Africa and his cohorts have a long way to go in coming out with befitting awards events the next time. This, I strongly hope can be achieve by learning from the successful and professional media organization(s) like the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) as well as other International Media Organizations like Aljazeera, Foreign Policy magazine and the likes.

My advice to the GIJ Eminence Awards event organizers is, they should pay attention to the ethics of the profession so they don’t end up damaging the image of their organization or that of themselves because image is everything. Once it is lost, there is no way anyone can repair it. Finally they should be committed to doing what is right but not wrong so that the blessings of the almighty God can forever be upon them.

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