The leadership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has started engagements with key stakeholders on the need to collaborate to deepen the socio-economic frontiers of the country.
Led by the President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, the team, made up of almost the full complement of the National Executive, last Wednesday visited the National Lottery Authority (NLA) and the Forestry Commission, where they discussed issues of national and mutual interests, as well as how they could partner to push the national development agenda.
The visits also served as an opportunity to introduce the new GJA executive to the stakeholders.
It also provided the association the opportunity to listen to the concerns of the stakeholders at first hand, with suggestions on how to proceed into the future.
At the NLA, the Director-General of the authority, Sammy Awuku, called on the media to support the authority in its fight against false publication of lottery results and also help expose the activities of illegal operators, which controlled about 70 per cent of the industry.
He explained that the country was only making about $80,000 a day from lotteries, compared to neighbouring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria who were making about $1.6 million and $3.2 million a day.
“Clearly, we have a challenge; we need the support of the media to rid the system of activities of the illegal operators. This will help us to generate enough revenue to support national development and projects under our corporate social responsibility,” Mr Awuku said.
The NLA DG expressed concern about how the new media was trying to bring the authority down.
“Here in Ghana, we have some unscrupulous people hiding behind social media to spew lots of untruth about the activities of the NLA.
“Some add you to a WhatsApp group, promising to give people winning numbers. Even as the Director General, I have some of them telling me that they will give me winning numbers.
“I believe that we can collaborate with you in this aspect. The security apparatus, the National Communication Authority and the National Media Commission are also doing a good job,” he said.
Mr Awuku said the NLA had cause to report some media houses which promised to give out “winning numbers” to people to the National Media Commission as part of its fight to sanitise the lottery industry.
Work of NLA
Explaining the work of the NLA, he said the NLA, per Act 722, was mandated to raise revenue, create moments of happiness and hope for the nation and also contribute into the consolidated fund.
“The authority is enjoined by Act 722 to operate a special lottery with the sole objective of raising funds to support the poor and vulnerable, support the health, education, youth and sport development, and arts and culture sectors,” he said.
He wished the new GJA Executive well in their endeavours and expressed the NLA’s commitment to work with the association to enhance national development.
Mr Dwumfour, for his part, said it was important to collaborate to educate the public on the mandate of the NLA and its contributions to the state.
He commended the authority for initiating schemes to support the poor such as the “NLA Good Courses Foundation” which is aimed at transforming lives and supporting brilliant students who need educational support.
He, however, urged the authority to institute a sponsorship scheme to support journalists and consider recruiting journalists to augment the Corporate Affairs department of the NLA.
At the Forestry Commission, the Chief Executive Officer, John Allotey, called on the GJA to help promote eco-tourism to generate enough revenue for the country.
He also urged the association to support in pushing for the passage of the Wildlife Bill which was before Parliament.
He said when passed, the commission would have the authority to regulate the wildlife sector in the country.
Mr Dwumfour pledged to support the activities of the Commission, while collaborating with the entity to conduct mass public education on afforestation, environmental degradation and forest-related matters.