"What are you talking about?. Mr Affail Monney seems to be asking Mr Edmund Kofi Yeboah

A key take away, from the subject Leadership, that I studied at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, is the piece of advice to use the pronoun WE, in all my discourse, whether in the corporate or domestic setting, even if I accomplish a particular task by myself.

What I gleaned from this admonition is that, it projects one as a team player and engenders positive disposition from colleagues and superiors alike.

It, therefore, surprises me whenever I hear some supposed leaders prefer using the pronoun, I. There is no gainsaying the fact that in every situation, the buck stops with the leader. However, nobody can be described as a leader if that individual does not have at least, one person that looks up to him or her. That’s to say, you are not a leader if you have no follower(s). Simplicita.

Indeed, no accomplishment of any leader is successful without help from anybody. Fact is, a driver who safely chauffeurs the boss to a deal-breaking pitch, which turns out successfully, cannot be denied his or her contribution to that feat.

Affail Monney’s leadership credentials

It is for this reason that I took special note of the use of the pronoun, WE, by the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney when he was interviewed by JoyNews’ Emefa Apawu, on the fateful day of May 12, 2021, during which he made that unfortunate comment with regard to the so-called ethical breach by Caleb Kudah, a Journalist with Accra-based Citi FM.

In declaring Caleb Kudah’s alleged filming of abandoned vehicles on the precincts of the National Security Ministry, as unethical and unlawful, Mr. Monney said, “Caleb erred, as far as our ethics is concerned. He clearly breached the ethics relative to Article 13 of our own Code of Ethics which specifies that Journalists should take pictures through fair, straight forward and honest means unless tampered with by national interest. His interest here is not so clear. From the face of it, we believe he erred.”

As a leadership student, I was very impressed when he said WE, not to mention the twice use of OUR, in his answer to Emefa. He must have been exposed to a leadership programme of a sort, I soliloquied. My impression was informed by a belief that the decision to declare Caleb’s action as unethical, was taken by the entirety of the Executive of the GJA even though I disagree with the import of the statement.

I, therefore, decided to check him up. I logged in to LinkedIn and voila!! My supposition was right- Mr. Monney, like myself, is an alumnus of GIMPA. He is a product of the Graduate School of Governance and Leadership.

Affail hinted at his leadership credentials when he rendered the unreserved apology upon that massive backlash, “as a student of leadership, I have learned that a leader is not afraid to change course when confronted with fresh information which challenges his earlier assumptions.”

The fifth columnist

While studying at GIMPA, I grew fond of Prof. Stephen Adei because of one statement he made during an interaction with us. This is in spite of my dislike for the fact that he made us walk close to two kilometers for lectures subsequent to the commissioning of a car park that far, from the lecture halls.

Lectures started at 5:00pm. Many of us were working and schooling. Usually, one would virtually run out of the office, struggle through the typically heavy rush-hour traffic from the Ministries area through the Kanda Highway, the Olusegun Obasanjo Highway, the Achimota Forest Link, en route to GIMPA.

After enduring such a stressful trip, what we did was to park at any available space upon arrival on campus. This practice really irked Prof. Adei. He, therefore, put pressure on the contractor working on the park and in no time, it was ready for use. To ensure compliance, he personally stood at a little distance from the main gate and directed all of us to the car park. We moaned and groaned to no avail. On a daily basis, Prof retired from this special assignment only after the last latecomer-student had arrived and parked appropriately.

Back to Prof’s endearing statement. In his trade mark speech-laced-with-laughter, he said, “some people think that because you are Professor, you should know everything, it is not so”.

Well, I got to know about the term ‘fifth columnist’ only two weeks ago. That’s my unsolicited confession. And I am in desperate need to use it. When I looked it up, I got the explanation that it refers toany group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a ‘fifth column’ can be overt or clandestine.”

I mentioned earlier, that I was impressed by Mr. Monney’s use of WE when he passed comments on Caleb Kudah’s encounter with the security agencies. I explained that the use of that pronoun gave me the impression that the verdict on Caleb’s action was unanimously reached by all members of the National Executive.

Against this background, it came as a rude shock to me when the General Secretary of the GJA, Mr. Edmund Kofi Yeboah shared a contrary opinion on Caleb Kudah’s foray into security territory for a video on abandoned vehicles.

Mr. Yeboah’s post on Facebook, in reaction to Mr. Monney’s conviction of Caleb, in respect of the National Security incident, read thus, “Caleb Kudah did not violate any journalism ethics in filming at a national security facility. Insofar as the public/national interest was at stake (as evidenced in his narrative), he was firmly within the bounds of journalism ethics, including Article 13 of the GJA Code of Ethics. Caleb was absolutely covered by the caveat in this provision because he was working in the public/national interest.”

Whaaaat!!!, was my first reaction. Then, my newly acquired vocabulary, fifth columnist, immediately came to mind. Subsequently, it dawned on me that Affail may have failed again. Aww!!! Did he only pay lip-service to the use of the pronoun WE? If so, then he turned the advice to use the WE pronoun, even if one executes a task personally, on its head. Stated differently, what I mean is that he just used WE to portray his ‘team-playership’ in order to elicit kudos from all interested parties.

By so doing, he failed yet another leadership test- consensus building. And Edmund Kofi Yeboah would have none of that, hence his decision to overtly disagree with his boss. On the face of it therefore, Kofi is a fifth columnist.

To prove this conclusion. I want us to use some mathematical principles. The Substitution and Elimination approaches will be applied herein. We shall use the Substitution technique to arrive at a new definition, then use the Elimination approach to obtain a derived definition and finally, a reformulated explanation for ‘fifth columnist’. How about that?

Before we proceed, however, let me issue a caveat.  Don’t take a red pen with the expectation that you are going to mark “show working’. Mathematics is not my thing. I had Grade 7 in the G.C.E ‘O’ Levels. I gained admission into the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) anyway, because the focus was on the English Language, in which I did pretty well.

Those of us with Grades 6,7,8 in Mathematics, were told to re-write and obtain a credit grade else, we would not be able to pursue a 1st degree programme in Ghana. I re-registered for Mathematics, received details on the date, time and centre for the examination but could not muster the courage to rewrite the paper. But for Prof. Adei, I would not have had a 1st degree at the time I did. Having returned from his sojourn in America to assume the Rectorship of GIMPA, he introduced some radical policies, one of which is to allow applicants with some work experience to gain admission even if they lacked credit in what in our time were called, ‘compulsory subjects”- Core subjects.

So, you can imagine my frustration when upon being admitted and given the list of subjects to be offered during the first semester of the first year. There in the middle somewhere, was Quantitative Methods. I asked another fresh student standing by me what that was about. The young man smiled and said, “it is Mathematics that they have rebranded like that”. I said yei!! this ‘Kakai’ (Monster) again?

Well, with hard work and determination coupled with tutorials from Francis Babytei Nartey, a newfound friend, and Bridget Mensah, a friend from GIJ, we soldiered on, and I made Grade Bs in the two semesters that ‘Quanty’ tormented most students of GIMPA. My phobia for maths was thus cured.

So here we go. By substituting key words and phrases in the definition of fifth columnist as follows:

  • group                               –                    individual
  • larger group                –                   GJA Executive
  • enemy group          –                    Ghanaian Journalists
  • nation                              –                    Ghana
  • overt                                –                    Facebook

we arrive at our new definition, ‘any group (individual) who undermines a larger group (GJA Executive) from within, usually in favor of an enemy group (Ghanaian Journalists) or nation (Ghana). The activities of a ‘fifth column’ can be overt (On Facebook) or clandestine.”

We then apply the elimination approach to obtain our derived definition– “any individual who undermines the GJA Executive from within, in favour of Ghanaian Journalists. The activities of a fifth columnist can be on Facebook or clandestine”.

At this juncture, with everything remaining constant, if the name of the individual is Kofi Yeboah, then the reformulated explanation of fifth columnist is rendered thus, “Kofi Yeboah, who undermines the GJA Executive from within, in favour of Ghanaian Journalists on Facebook”.

The solution to this Anglo-Quadratic Equation, is therefore- Kofi Yeboah = fifth columnist.

There you have it!!! The logical question that follows then is, why would he do that? A possible answer is what I alluded to earlier – leadership without consensus building.

However, this outcome is negated by the fact that it is only Kofi, out of the other five members of the GJA Executive, who has contradicted Affail. Vice-President, Mrs. Linda Asante-Agyei, Treasurer, Mrs. Audrey Dakalu, Organising Secretary, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour and Public Relations Officer, Mary Mensah, have so far, kept their opinions to themselves.

So therefore, if the WE pronoun used by Affail was grounded in the fact that he had the support of the overwhelming majority of the Executive, then Mr. Yeboah is the black sheep among the lot, hence our conclusion, of he being a fifth Columnist, is apt.

This notwithstanding, there is this little voice that keeps telling me that, ‘there is something in the soup”. Why do I say so? I dare say that if the rest of the Executive members had views that are contrary to Mr. Yeboah’s, at least one of them would have controverted him. If the cliché, ‘silence means consent’ is anything to go by, then they are in concert with Kofi. Indeed, they may have urged him to, as we say in Ghana, ‘face him’.

In the absence of a counter opinion from any of the aforementioned Executive, and the loud silence of Affail on Kofi’s Facebook post, one could surmise that all is not well within the Executive of the GJA.

Any wonder that the Association is failing to serve its purpose? Already, many Ghanaian Journalists have christened the GJA as Ghanaian Journalism Awards. Obviously in reference to its fixation with the annual awards ceremony which attracts significant sponsorship.

Dear reader, I don’t know what you think. But me, because I want to use my new found phrase, I insist that Kofi, my friend, is a fifth columnist. No, all is not well with the GJA. Or?

Pardon my indecision and remember to drop your red pen. This is ‘Anglomathics’ not Mathematics.

Adios Amigos- Spanish for goodbye my friends.