Veteran multi-media practitioner Andy Johnson is the latest media personality–along with radio news director Clevon Raphael–to take up a position with the People's Partnership administration.
In the last eight weeks, the four-month-old administration has been culling from the top ranks of the media to strengthen its back-up in key ministries and public outreach divisions. The latest two recruits, Johnson and Raphael, would enhance the capability of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General's office respectively–the backbone of Government. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday announced Power 102 News and Current Affairs director Clevon Raphael as his special adviser and his "right-hand man". CCN's Johnson would be an official part of Government's delegation, accompanying Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on her US trip to the United Nations next week.
Johnson is tipped to be chief executive officer of the Government Information Services Ltd (GISL) which falls within Persad-Bissessar's office, Government confirmed yesterday. Johnson and Raphael join several other former media practitioners now working with the People's Partnership administration. Yesterday, Johnson, issued a statement saying: "In response to queries from colleagues in the media, I am as of now able to report that I have been holding discussions with persons in the Government about an offer that has been made to me. "We are working out details pertinent to where my services may be best utilised within the state's media and communications sector. "Those discussions are as yet inconclusive and as such it is premature to elaborate.
"Once those discussions are finalised, I should be in a position to provide further details." The T&T Guardian was reliably informed that Johnson would assume duties with Government from next Monday when he will be part of Persad-Bissessar's official Government delegation to the US. She will be addressing the UN's General Assembly and undertaking other duties along with other Caricom leaders during the ten-day trip. The GISL post which Johnson is expected to assume is currently held by Maxie Cuffie. Cuffie once served both at the Guardian and the CCN Group before assuming the GISL post under the PNM administration. Johnson's journalistic career began in 1972 at the "Moko" newspaper.
He served with the Guardian's now-defunct sister paper "The Evening News." Johnson studied in Canada returning to work at the Express, Radio Trinidad and as Trinidad Guardian editor. He has served with CCN for seven years, including being Morning Edition host and as a writer. In the 2010-2011 budget, a $4 million allocation was listed for a "production house" in the OPM. This was listed as a "new project"
Officials at the Office of the Prime Minister explained yesterday the production house would be a reformatted GISL. Concerning the Attorney General's new special adviser, AG Ramlogan announced Raphael's posting during an Eid function at his ministry yesterday. He confirmed last Tuesday's exclusive Guardian report that Raphael was tipped for the post.
At yesterday's function, Ramlogan welcomed Raphael as special adviser... "and he will be in effect, be my right hand man," Ramlogan added. Asked why he had chosen Raphael, the Attorney General said: "Mr Raphael is a distinguished journalist and someone for whom I've had the greatest respect. "He has made a tremendous contribution to the development of this country and I needed someone with Mr Raphael's skills and ability and that's my personal selection and choice,"
Ramlogan added: "I think he will add a great value to the office of the Attorney General and make a useful contribution to the Government and country as a whole." Raphael said he started in the media in 1963 as an office boy with the now defunct Daily Mirror newspaper. He spent 23 years as a reporter at the Guardian and also worked at other daily.
Raphael begins working with Ramlogan from October 1. He said he would be advising Ramlogan "on a wide range of matters." He also will handle some aspect of media matters. On his upcoming role, Raphael said: "It's a major challenge but I see this job as my contributing to national development... just in a different way. I see it as everything I do, I do in the name of my country." Johnson and Raphael join former Guardian reporter Francis Joseph who has been working with Works Minister Jack Warner as adviser since August 1. Also, weekly journalist Ken Ali–briefly with the Guardian group until last month–handled press releases for the Office of the Prime Minister during Government's recent Tobago retreat. Ali also has been tipped for a Government post.