In August 2011, the music industry experienced a new whiff of leadership as the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) elected a young rapper – buoyant and charismatic, as its president.
The enterprising musician, Bice ‘Obour’ Osei Kuffour, decided to lay his billowing career down for the administrative work of the Union.
Most people were awed by the intelligence the 30 year-old rapper had exuded during his campaign period. It was the first time a MUSIGA Presidential aspirant gave an elaborate exposition on his dreams for the Union.
At the congress held at the Radach Memorial Centre in Tamale, Obour won the MUSIGA Presidency with 64 votes. He was followed by highlife musician Nana Tuffour, who polled 51 votes. Gyedu Blay Ambolley came in third with 24 votes and the late Willi Roi had just 2 votes.
Obour took over from gospel musician, Diana Hopeson.
Upon his election, he launched the AJUMAPA Policy. It was a campaign promise that probably gave him the edge over his contenders at the time.
Come June, 26, 2019, MUSIGA will have a new President and executives.
The current President Bice Obour Osei Kuffour won’t contest again; he has done two terms, the maximum one could do as the Union’s president per their constitution.
But eight years on, his work has come under scrutiny as people in the music industry and others observing from outside have shared their opinions based on their assessment of his tenure.
These are some of Obour’s major achievements:
(1). Ageing Musicians Welfare Fund: One of the things Obour’s administration has done for the Union is to establish a fund for older musicians which provides stipends to them periodically. The MUSIGA Grand Ball was also put in place as a fundraiser for this cause.
(2). Effective Collective Rights Management (GHAMRO) – the Union led the revolution to achieving an effective administration for GHAMRO in line with accepted standard international best practice.
(3). Re-branding of MUSIGA: When he assumed office, he a initiated membership categorization program with accompanying benefits (including legal advice, facilitation in musical works registration and royalty collection, discounted services). This led to the re-registration of over 1,000 members, the establishment of new membership database and increase in membership by 200 percent.
(4). Government subvention of 2 Million Ghana Cedis – The Union for the first time was able to access government funding through a budgetary allocation for research, music fair & peace campaign, capacity building and project administration. A comprehensive survey on the music industry in Ghana was done with the help of this support to identify the economic contribution of the sector to GDP and also to advise on policy direction and matters like public and private investment in the music sector. As of 2012, the research proved that the sector’s contribution to GDP was 0.20.
(5). MUSIGA Academy: A music academy was set up by the Union in collaboration with NAFTI and the School of Performing Arts to educate musicians on the rudiments of music and the trends in music business.
(6). Establishment of the Midland- MUSIGA Ajumapa Business Loans – Obour also instituted this loan scheme with low interest rates and relatively collateral free loan to enable MUSIGA members access funds for their projects.
(7). VGMA collaboration: He also saw to the formalization of Ghana Music Awards arrangement with Charterhouse and provision of car prize for VGMA winners. For the first time, a formal agreement was signed between Charterhouse and MUSIGA on the organization of the Ghana Music Awards scheme and that have been part of the Board since then.
(8). Regional Support for Capacity-Building – During the 1st term of Obour’s leadership, an amount of GHS 100,000.00 was distributed among the 10 regional offices of MUSIGA for capacity-building and development projects. This amount came from the 2 million cedi budget money that was given to the Union by government.
(9). Ghana Music Week Festival: During his tenure, he has institutionalised the Ghana Music Week Festival, MUSIGA Grand Ball and Asanteman Arts Ball and Awards as event brands to raise funds for the Union’s projects, to promote and create jobs for members.
(10). Constitutional Amendment: He also saw to the review of the constitution to make room for all members across the regions to cast their votes at the national level. Hitherto, only delegates were allowed to vote.
Obour has stated that he is the best President MUSIGA has had in its entire history – and I agree. He did better than his predecessors.
However, he has had his low points.
A major blight on Obour’s record has been the controversy surrounding how he used the 2 million Ghana cedi government support. Most people expected that the money would have been used for something more tangible than impact assessment.
Even though Obour had said just 800, 000 cedis was used for the research, there were members who thought the research should have been done by the government for the Union and not allow MUSIGA to champion it, thereby depleting its financial reserves.
There were also those who doubted if the research really cost 800,000 cedis. They questioned what could possibly make such work cost this much.
For the tenure, the issue about how he disbursed the money and what accountability measures were in place has been an albatross around Obour’s neck, any time his name is mentioned.
Another thing I observed from his performance after my inquiry is that he had poor supervision over the other regions. I am not sure if he made the regional executives account for the 10,000 cedis that was given to them for institutional strengthening.
Most of the regional centres of the union are still not effective like the regional capital.
MUSIGA elections scheduled for June 26, 2019
The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has set up a five-member committee that will supervise its national elections in June.
The committee has Smart Nkansah as its chairman, with former MUSIGA president Diana Hopeson as secretary. It also has Rev. Dr Mary Ghansah, Lawyer Jonathan Cudjoe and Trigmatic.
The committee will supervise the filing and nomination processes and take care of vetting of those who will vie the various positions. It will also work with the Electoral Commission of Ghana to ensure a free and fair election.
MUSIGA has also released a roadmap that will guide how things will be done towards the elections:
- Call for nominations – March 27
- Close of nominations – April 17
- Vetting of candidates – April 26
- Exhibition of voters’ register – April 29
- Voting in all regional capitals – June 26
- The announcement of results – June 26
- Inauguration of new executives – August 27
The MUSIGA elections will be held in all regional capitals, as stated in the amended MUSIGA constitution.
Persons vying for the Presidency will have to pay a filing fee of GHS2,500; vice presidential hopefuls have to pay GHS2,000; General secretary aspirants will pay GHS1,500, while those aspiring for the other positions are to pay GHS1,000.
Who takes over from Obour?
In previous years, one of his major contenders has been Gyedu-Blay Ambulley. Another was Appietus.
Information has it that Appietus will not contest again.
I spoke to Ambolley and he told me he had not decided to contest yet.
However, my grapevine information has it that Bessa Simons, the first Vice President is considering taking up that mantle.
Names like Richie Mensah, EL have been mentioned as people who would love to contest the MUSIGA Presidency.
Ras Caleb Appiah, who is the Chairman for the Greater Regional branch of MUSIGA has also expressed interest in the position.
According to the constitution of the Union, anyone who expresses interest to run for President must have held a position before.
From my perspective, it is very possible to see a lot of new blood come into the leadership of the Union now.
This may be another new phase of the Union as was seen when Obour was elected President 8 years ago.
It is too early to predict who best fits the position, but one thing is certain and that is the contest will be an exciting one.
I’ll be following their manifesto and campaign messages and do my own assessment of who holds a great fortune for the Union for the next four (4) years.
For now, it will be interesting to see what becomes of Obour after exiting the MUSIGA presidency. Will he go back to his music career, venture into business, get into politics or become a minister of the gospel? Only time will tell.
By: Kwame Dadzie | citinewsroom.com | Ghana
(email: [email protected])
The writer, Kwame Dadzie, is an entertainment Journalist with Citi FM and Citi TV.