30 March 2006

Ghana: Timbermen Fire Leaders

Kumasi — The leadership of the Ghana Association of Teak Millers and Exporters (GATEX) has been fired for financial malpractices and incompetence, at a special meeting held by the members of the association in Kumasi.

According to the members, the vice President of GATEX, Mr. Richard Asante Bediako, had hijacked the affairs of the association, thereby turning the activities of the GATEX into a one-man show to the detriment of its members.

In compliance with Article 14 of the GATEX constitution, the members, at a special meeting, had unanimously passed a vote of no confidence on the entire executive members, including its President, Nana Kyere Kuma, also known as Jokumaks, who had traveled outside the country, although he was being represented by his manager, Mr. Kwame Danquah.

Article 14, sub-section b (i) stated, any group of members of GATEX can request a special meeting of GATEX. It continued, "However, such a group shall consist of not less than 10% of the members of the association." The membership of GATEX consists of 42 companies in the teak industries.

Sub-section (ii) of the same Article 14 further stated that the request of such a special meeting shall be submitted to the Executive Secretary, with copies to the National Executive Council (NEC) members and shall specify the agenda, names and signatures of the persons requesting for the meeting, for not less 7 days before the meeting.

Reading the letter signed by 10 members to summon the meeting, dated March 15, this year, the Executive Secretary of GATEX, Nii Narteh Otibo told the 32 members (out 42 members) present that those who convened the meeting had adopted the normal constitutional provisions of GATEX to convene the meeting, because those who called for the meeting had even exceeded the 10% requirement.

Nii Otibo said all the signatories to the letter were paid up members and could call for such a special meeting.

Relying on its constitution that spelt out how an executive member(s) could be removed, the 32 members moved a motion that a vote of no confidence be passed on them.

After the motion had been adopted, the members again moved that an interim management committee be formed to steer the affair of the association till new executive were elected.

To ensure regional balance and transparency in the management of GATEX, the members had appointed Nana J.K. Siaw, operations Manager of Oti Yeboah Complex Ltd (OYCL) as the IMC chairman. Other Members included.

Nana Akua Konton II, queen mother of Nkawie Panin, representing Ashanti, Nana Yaw Sefa, Ashanti, Nana Ohene Amoah, Brong Ahafo, Okyere Nyantakyi from the Greater Accra.

They however maintained the Executive Secretary, Nii Otibo and the association's consultant, Mr. Henry Kofi Kokofu of Ghana Institute of Foresters. Apart from the IMC, the GATEX members had also formed a 3-member financial committee to audit the account of the association from since 2001.

It was disclosed at the meeting that since the formation of the association in 2001, with all registration fees of ¢5 million paid by the 42 members, the fired executives had never rendered accounts to them as demanded by the constitution.

Other allegations leveled against the executives were that they had failed to summon general meetings and some of the executives had been using the name of GATEX to harass its members.

Of late, the members noticed that, Mr. Bediako had single-handedly used the name of GATEX to fight the Ministry of Lands and Forestry at the court, when it decided to put up for bidding, some concession of forest reserves.

The IMC had already taken steps to notify various agencies of the government and Forest Commission about decision taken by the GATEX.

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