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Opinions of Friday, 26 September 2014

Columnist: Shaban, Abdul Rahman Alfa

Baneseh and Manasseh: The GJA’s Supreme SADA/GYEEDA Verdict

Mabel Aku Baneseh is journalist of the year 2014. Hurray!

If you though I was going to do a comparative analysis of both professionals, sorry. This piece looks to celebrate both personalities. Winners in their own rights.

Mabel earned the accolade through hard work and professionalism. For as long as petitioners and respondents remained in the Supreme Court over the now infamous election petition, Mabel was an ever-present reporter who gave the Ghanaian news readers more than just the daily occurrences in court but several issues outside the court.

From the strict refusal of the judges to allow a counsel to continue a certain line of questioning to classical and whimsical definitions of over voting; the unique count of pink sheets and unquoted sums of votes cast in unidentified polling stations, Mabel was there to bring the issues to Ghanaian readers.

Working for the state-owned Daily Graphic was always going to come with its own challenges and huge expectations, but the effort and dedication put in by our 2013 journalist of the year points clearly to the fact that she was given a ‘bull’ to tame (for want of a better word) and she took it by the scruff of the neck from day one.

I still stand by my view that Mabel deserved the most priced accolade on the Ghanaian journalism landscape, I stated and still state here that; “all a person needed after the proceedings in the court had characteristically confused you, was to grab a copy of the Daily Graphic next morning.”

It was always as if Mabel sat with the judges and lead counsels at close of day to simplify matters for the readers come the next morning. She thoroughly deserved it at least on that score.

Beyond the hard work that she put into all of this, I credit the style of presentation that the Daily Graphic was using in the presentation of facts from the election petition hearing.

There were suitable headings to particular blocks within the particular story and that allowed for easy comprehension of the issues however complex they were as argued out in court.

Those were heady days thanks to the political slants that were employed by parties involved, never to forget the criminal contempt fines and convictions that resulted from unguarded commentary on the issues.

But throughout the year, several other journalists put a lot of effort in work that did impact positively on society, work that churned out results and to some extent eased the plight of citizens across the country and to all such journalist: I salute!

One such journalist is the man I refer to as the SADA/GYEEDA exposé overlord. Senior journalist with the Multimedia Group, Bongo boy, Manasseh Azure Awuni.

This article is in no way a comparison between these two fine journalists, but rather to laud both personalities who are all winners in their own right, given the effort that they put in, and of course their entries.

Whiles I should and would have lauded Mabel particularly and all other award winners in general, I chose to draw in Manasseh on the back of an answer he gave on the Super Morning Show early on this month, when all Multimedia’s award winners were ‘summoned’ to appear on the show.

Manasseh openly expressed his disappointed at missing out on the overall award. It would have been his second journalist of the year award but it was not to be. In his view; he thought GYEEDA should have on the award but the judges thought otherwise.

I would adjourn my views (as if they mattered) on Manasseh’s disappointment and proceed to open a ‘fresh case’ on how someone scooped as many as four awards as against Mabel’s two in politics and crime/court reporting, yet failed to be named Ghana’s best journalist in the year under review.

So the ‘Kwetey Nartey’ gate was also becoming an issue for a GJA that is no stranger to post award night controversies. The young man won more awards than any winner on the night, a total of four; certainly not a reason to be named overall best.

Well, I hear that was the popular notion at the awards venue and as has been harped on by the Daily GUIDE newspaper on the back of some interviews they had with some members of the awards committee. Well; that has not been the case in time past and wasn’t to be this time round.

I am yet to hear Nartey speak on the ‘popular view’ that he should have been named the overall best or the young promising journalist of the year.

Tie in an article authored by Richard Kwadwo Nyarko titled; ‘Stolen Verdict at GJA Awards?’ and published on adomonline.com; the summary of it being that Manasseh should have been named but for the ‘sword’ being mightier than the pen. Hinged on Mr. Kwame Gyan’s views on how the overall award went wayward given that Manasseh had put in too much to miss out on it.

Manasseh in his own article published on myjoyonline.com and titled; “Manasseh’s Folder: My last words on the GJA awards,” stated in categorical terms that the eventual winner deserved to win it. But human as he was; he felt disappointed.

Every right so to be.

Of his disappointment however, I celebrate the ‘bongo boy’ for winning the accolade back in 2012 whiles practising as a freelancer and during a ceremony where he did not expect to be named winner.

So it is; when he most expected it, it passed by and when he least expected it; there it was. The good news is that for insofar as issues seeking the attention of the story tellers would forever persist beyond the just ended awards night, Manasseh would soldier on as long as Mabel would.

My final verdict here is merely stating the obvious; that Mabel put a lot into her work, as much as every journalist did, has done and is doing. Mabel is Queen and the work is on (a consequence of which comes awards).

And now; the GJA It is sad that an association whose members are advocates and champions of ‘policing’ state and private enterprises CANNOT stand up and be counted when it comes to the issue propriety and elementary blips. Habba!

It would be indeed very sad that the trust reposed in it by the people who constitute it, keep waning each passing year. The eventual consequences are; most journalists would keep back from putting in entries and sub standard material would reign.

More suicidal, before you say Jack, the ‘peeved’ members would be motivated to form a breakaway group that would gain its legitimacy from the current sad yet avoidable state of affairs.

And please, this is to also appeal to the people in charge to kindly and very respectfully look into the expeditious processing of persons who apply to join the group.

Mine has been submitted with all relevant documentation since early this year. Hopefully; it would not take 24 months (about three times the period for the election petition)

Next year would come and we would be here. May the good Lord bless us all. Amen

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban (awaiting GJA member) newcguide@gmail.com @alfaallahguide