IPR – Ghana; Please come again

After my article on the Institute of Public Relations – Ghana a couple of weeks ago, I received numerous calls in relations to certain issues I raised in the said article. The article among other things raised issues of elections which sparked off severe agitations among members at the 2019 National Public Relations and Communications Summit which also coincided with the 26th Annual General Meeting of the IPR, Ghana at Big Ada in the Greater Accra region.

Last week, I promised in my article that I would want to revisit the IPR – Ghana matter due primarily to some of the above reasons.

Members of the IPR, Ghana and non-members alike who had been perhaps briefed on the proceedings, at Ada expressed concern that I did not do justice to the ‘real matter’ in the article I wrote. I flew out of the country a day after the event at Ada and while I was away, I had numerous calls on Friday, 1st of November, when the article was published.

Some friends took snap shots of the article and sent it via WhatsApp to me.  For them, I just scratched the surface of the issue. Paramount was the elections of officers and the disenfranchising of a larger number of members in good standing.

I owe none of these friends any apology for this, as my focus was not the elections of executives of the IPR, Ghana. Nevertheless, I humbly share their sentiments as their concerns are legitimate and cogent.

As a reminder and also for the records, Mr. Mawuko Afadzinu, Head of Marketing and Communication at Stanbic Bank, was elected as the President of the IPR, Ghana. He had served as the Vice President of IPR, Ghana and had 59 votes in a keenly contested election to defeat Donald Gwira, who had 22 votes.

The former secretary, Henry Nii Dottey, rose at the elections to become the new, Vice President with 56 votes, as against 26 votes polled by his opponent, Richard Osei-Anane. Shirley Tony Kum, was elected as the Honorary Secretary with Kwabena Asare Okae-Anti, as the Vice Honorary Secretary.

The house elected Afia Drah, as the Treasurer. These highly esteemed members of the IPR, Ghana will serve the association for the next two years as per its constitution. Reports have it that the elected National Executive Officers would be inaugurated in December.

As per the calls and interactions with a cross-section of the membership especially, the so-called ‘Affiliate Members’, they are still not satisfied and do not understand why they were not allowed to vote but rather persuaded to stay away from the voting by the leadership of the IPR – Ghana. It is now sensed that, some are not convinced and regret not able to rather persuade the leadership to allow them to vote.

As I reflected on the number of calls and comments I received in connection with the article which was captioned “IPR- Ghana, Into Perfect Rebranding of Ghana”, I was convinced that there was the need for me to get it right without any malice nor any means to run down the hard work put into the elections by some distinguished members of the association. It is also not aimed at disrespecting the decision of the executives nor watering down the effect of the elections. No, far from these.

The elections were constitutional, legitimate, lawful, and timely. It was conducted by the National Electoral Commission and therefore respected and accepted. What is perhaps, not the best about the elections was the decision to side-line the 187 members termed as ‘affiliate members.

Before the elections, the chairman of the elections committee, Ken Ashigbe had tabled a motion to allow practising ‘Affiliate Members’ to vote in the elections. His motion was hailed by the teaming affiliate membership but faces of some associate and accredited members told a different story, they were not all that encouraging. The reason for this was obvious. Fewer, the merrier, Members who opted to speak to the motion had diverse views, some of them convincing, others far away from understanding and acceptance, chiefly depending on the view point and interest.

It is a fact that every organization, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. IPR – Ghana is no exception, it is also expedient for the IPR – Ghana to work towards its holistic reputation and perhaps, just perhaps, the reason for sieving up of its members.

The new President, Mawuko Afadzinu did not mince words on this. For him, what the Institute intends to do was to raise the standard in communication; adding that they would work closely with the Government to ensure the passage of the Institute’s Act, in order to ensure that members of the Institute live to expected standards.

He expressed the view that ‘it was for this reason that IPR was leading the drive to raise the standards in the areas of image management and the general space of communication.’

“All the different variance of communications, we are looking to improve, and we are looking to harness to serve the interest of the country and the people with a common destiny. And it starts with the professionals, so the professionals must show the way.” He added

To this end, he appealed to all Public Relations practitioners to prove their professions’ worth as value enhancers. So, indications are that standards in Public Relations practise need to be highly acceptable, but the question is, is this the best way to go?

In the case of our cherished association, IPR – Ghana, it appears it is just by the terms, AFFILIATE, ASSOCIATE and ACCREDITED. The three As if you like. One becomes affiliate at the registration and writes examinations to get him or herself into the recognised Associate and further to the Accredited membership status.

These do not in anyway depend on the number of years as a member. This is because, it has been established that a member used only a year to get from the Affiliate to the Associate status, while some members are still Affiliate after registering over ten years ago.

The premise of the agitation, chiefly was and still is that the so-called Affiliate members pay dues just as all other categories of members. All of them are classified as in good standing. They were all invited on the same principle to the Annual General Meeting where general membership of the associations were required by law or the constitution governing the association to fully participate in the meeting.

A former President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

“The most significant civil rights problem is voting. Each citizen’s right to vote is fundamental to all the other rights of citizenship or membership”

In associations such as the IPR – Ghana, members vote chiefly for leaders to represent them and their ideas, and for the leaders also to support their interests. So therefore, voting here become a right and importantly a duty and not a privilege. Again, key in association membership is the sense of belonging. Where is this for the IPR – Ghana Affiliate members?

When one’s name is published in the national dairies as well as in the AGM brochure as been a member in good standing, what again prevents the member to vote.

IPR – Ghana please come again

NANA SIFA TWUM

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