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13.04.2006 Business & Finance

Ghana: GIA Loses Its Brains As Three Managers Flee From Ghana

By Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) Joseph Coomson & George
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Following the military style takeover of the Ghana International Airline, three management staff of the airline, with bitterness, have fled from harassments, until the Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, desists from interfering in the airline.

The three are the Chief Executive officer, Mr. Brian Presbury, the Project Consultant, Mr. Ken Daily, and the Chief Financial Officer, Mr. John Nagel.

However, Mr. Mpiani's three-member interim board has not yet assumed office as at press time.

Currently, ready-to-shoot macho policemen strictly guard the Silver Star offices of the airline.

The National Labour Commission (NLC) has made it clear that for now, it is helpless on the issue because the four members of staff who have been dismissed, one of whom is among those who have fled the country, had not petitioned them.

"Until a petition is filed by the four dismissed staff with the National Labour Commission on the case it cannot on its own act on the case," the Public Relations Manager of NLC, Mr. Mohamed Mfume, explained.

Mr. Mfume was declaring NLC's stand to The Chronicle on what has been described as a 'military style takeover' of GIA by the Chief of Staff and the subsequent dismissal of the Mr. Presbury and his management team, which included the Vice President in Charge of Public Affairs, Mr. Sammy Azu Crabbe, the Special Assistant to the CEO, Sean Mendis, and the Head of Procurement, Mr. K. K Apeadu.

He said after filing a petition, the Commission would then investigate the case based on the agreement between the parties and the company's code until a final determination of the case.

"We would not know what has happened if a petition is not sent to us for investigations," Mr. Mfume added.

He said it was the function of the NLC to investigate cases filed, as well resolve labour unrests in respect of labour unions until amicable settlement was found.

In a press statement, Mr. Mpiani said there was no iota of truth in the allegation that he had dismissed Mr. Presbury.

He noted that a meeting was conveyed in the conference room at the presidency on Friday April 7, at 4:30 pm after he had asked the board and the management to convene an extraordinary meeting to brief him and clarify issues on matters of alleged mismanagement.

According to him, he raised several issues relating to information that had been provided to him by the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Brian Presbury, who was unable to give satisfactory answers to the questions raised.

He said the CEO got rather agitated and insisted that it was the management's prerogative to manage the airline without reference to the board of the company.

Mr. Mpiani stated that on a particular question regarding non-expertise staff that the CEO had personally recruited, the CEO angrily stated, "I will not sit here and take this crap from you."

After this outburst, "I asked him to leave my office and I left him and the board in the conference room," the Chief of Staff's statement said.

On Friday evening, there was confusion at the offices of GIA when officials believed to be from the Castle attempted to lock out the CEO in what appears to be disagreements over who controls the national carrier.

A large crowd besieged the Silver Star offices of the airline until Police personnel brought the situation under control.

Apparently, a meeting between the Directors of the Airline and some government officials at the Castle on Friday had ended abruptly when a heated argument ensued between the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Kwadwo Mpiani, also in charge of Aviation, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Brian Presbury, over the control of the airline, which led to Mr. Mpianim firing Brian Presbury.

Later, some gentlemen purporting to be security operatives from the Castle arrived at the offices of the airline to lock Mr. Presbury and other management staff out.

Subsequently, another group of gentlemen believed to be loyal to the Vice President of GIA in charge of Public Affairs, Sam Crabbe, arrived on the premises of the airline to resist the attempted lock out of the CEO.

Officials from the US consulate also later arrived for a meeting with the Directors of the airline and then drove off with Mr. Presbury and other officials.

Presbury was not allowed to into his office on Saturday morning by security personnel on duty.

A memorandum circulated in the offices of GIA dissolved and replaced the board with an interim one, with Mr. Gustave Mate Azu (the former board chairman), Group Captain Frank Okine (a former board member) and Mr. Kojo Andah (also a former member) as members.

The memo was however signed by Albert Vitale, the former Vice President in charge of operations.