Ebo Quansah in Accra
May and June this year have been extraordinary months in the life of this country. Under normal circumstances, the months of May and June are associated with heavy rains bringing floods and causing havoc to various locations in this land of our birth. So far, the rains have been measured and caused no loss of sleep in most parts of this country.
There are still dry lands where flooding used to render properties, quantified in millions of the Ghanaian currency, impossible to use, and driving their owners and users of these facilities homeless. In extreme cases in the past, many lives had been lost, drawing tears and gnashing of teeth.
May is gone. It is the 11th day in June today, but the rains are mainly visualised in overcast weather. The skyline is dominated by one man’s indiscretion, drawing the Head of State, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his vice, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, and some senior members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration into the kind of quandary that has still not been resolved.
As you read this piece, football in Ghana is on ice, though the nearest icy condition this nation has ever come near to was the Black Stars splendid performance in holding World Cup-bound Iceland to a 2-2 draw in the Arctic Circle of the world last Thursday.
As a result of the reckless misuse of a speaking opportunity, and misbehaviour by the immediate past head of Ghana football, the Black Stars classic show in Iceland, as well as their morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Japan, another nation on the way to the World Cup party in Russia, are not appreciated by a nation stunned by the exposé on the large screen by ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye PI.
When I walked out of the Accra International Conference Centre on Thursday, after the 5pm screening of No.12, I felt scandalised. I was so annoyed that had Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi been around, I might have aimed a blow at him. How could a normal adult lose all his senses in the way the immediate past President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) did in the presence of a so-called investor he had never met previously?
It is good that Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi has resigned. The rot exposed on the Anas video is unpardonable. He supervised over a rotten empire. There were referees wearing the FIFA badge, the highest recognition of honesty and professional competence in the game of association football, taking bribes from people previously unknown to them, with the understanding of influencing the outcome of football matches.
That is not all! Ghanaian FIFA referees were exposed on tape, leading people, not known in the game, to induce referees from other nations to influence an international tournament in Ghana. The whole thing stinks!
When I saw Ms. Lillian Addy, Chairperson of the women football committee on the FA and the highest ranked woman on the Executive Committee of the Ghana Football Association, taking a paltry GH¢300 to influence a decision, I felt we have reached the nadir in our corruption index in the Ghanaian game.
There was Mr. Doku, Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional Football Association and an executive member of GFA, collecting piles of money and trying very hard to find space in his pockets to deposit them. It is that bad! In all this, I shudder to understand how Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, leader and face of football in Ghana, could attempt to negotiate a sponsorship deal for football in this country, without any input from other officials at the GFA Secretariat.
For me, Kwesi’s open disclosure that he would form a company to handle the transaction, involving the sponsorship deal from the supposed investor, opens a can of worms on other deals involving the sudden emergence of companies in deals initially brokered with no third party involvement. One recalls the controversy over the sudden appearance of Mid-Sea in the Glo sponsorship of the Ghana Premier League, some six years ago and which is still raging, is a reference point.
All this pales into insignificance against the impact of the real issue on politics in this country. Of course, I am referring to Nyantakyi’s outburst on tape that he could arrange for the unknown investor to do business in Ghana, provided the Arab Sheikh, totally unknown to him until that moment, could part with US$15 million to influence the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his deputy, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, Deputy Chief of Staff Francis Asensor -Boakye, and Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways Anthony Abayifa Karbo.
You hear Kwesi talking about the possible take-over of this country by the Arab investor. That is pure madness, I dare state.
I thought the President of the Ghana Football Association had been afflicted with a strange disease. Remember the ‘kpo-kpo-gbli-gbli’ episode that characterised the Muntie 3 episode? I strongly believe the former leader of our game has a problem that borders on the supernatural.
Here is a lawyer and astute football administrator – First Vice-President of the Confederation of African Football, who is spearheading the Moroccan bid to stage the 2026 World Cup, singing before cameras at the sight of money. Mr. Nyantakyi has a problem bordering on the spiritual and need help, I believe.
His utterances about top government officials and the building of 90 bridges in the northern half of Ghana, for instance, should tell the well-informed in the development model of this country that he has a problem. We need to build bridges to make the remote areas in the north especially, accessible. But how could this nation build 90 bridges in the north at a go?
It is good that he has realised the harm he has done to this country and offered his resignation. Read the contents of his resignation letter to his former colleagues on the football association: “After a meeting of the Executive Council Committee this afternoon, (Friday), I decided to resign as President of the Ghana Football Association.
“It stemmed out of the controversies generated by investigative journalist report of Tiger Eye PI. In the said report, I committed a series of errors of indiscretion. I gravely associated the highest office of the land – the Presidency – with private discussions I had with ‘scammers’, who deceived me into thinking they were genuine persons intended in investing in the country.
“I hereby apologize unreservedly to the Father of the Nation, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, H.E. the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, Hon. Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State for indiscretion in associating them with the private conversation on the video. I wish to clarify that at no time prior to, or subsequent to, any deliberations on the video did I consult, contact or inform any government official about discussions on the video. I take sole and personal responsibility for the proceedings on the video.”
Mr. Nyantakyi also apologised to his family, friends, associates and the entire people of Ghana for “the disappointment my indiscretion has caused them.” I am still seething with anger over the former head of Ghana football’s utterances, which have denied this country continuous services as an influential member of the controlling body on African football and the global game.
I must admit that I have been one Ghanaian who has stood by the former head of Ghana football through thick and thin. I was motivated by the desire to see a Ghanaian among the top echelon of the decision-making process in the African, as well as the global game.
In the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, football was first played in the then Gold Coast by school kids of the Philip Quarcoo School, also known as Government Boys School, in Cape Coast, at the Victoria Park on Boxing Day of the year 1903. It was from that experiment that the game spread throughout the then Gold Coast.
Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, exported football to Nigeria in the East and Cote d’Ivoire in the West, before other nations in the whole of Black Africa tapped into its potential.
In spite of this nation’s pioneering role, Ghana never had much influence on CAF and FIFA (Federation of International Football Federations) for time immemorial. CAF, for instance, with its mainly North African and Francophone domination, tended to serve Ghana, undoubtedly the most potent force in the game in Black Africa, short. Asante Kotoko and the national team, the Black Stars, for instance, were always at the wrong end of biased decision making for a very long time, mainly because Ghana lacked representation on these continental and international bodies.
When the late Ohene Djan lost his membership of both CAF and FIFA, following the coup d’etat of 1966, Ghana was virtually treated as if it was a stranger in the African game. The only attempt to get someone on CAF was sabotaged by internal Ghanaian politics in 1972.
At that point in time, the late Nana Fredua-Mensah was to contest for CAF executive membership in his capacity as Chairman of the Ghana Football Association. Unfortunately, just before the contest, the Busia regime, which nominated Nana Fredua-Mensah for the top job, was toppled in Acheampong’s coup of January 13, 1972.
Even then, Acheampong was reported to have given the Ghanaian contestant the state’s backing as head of state of this country. By an irony of fate, someone in the football fraternity informed the head of state that Nana Fredua-Mensah had been nominated by the Busia regime.
Unknown to the contestant, the government of Ghana had contrived to write a letter to CAF informing the continental football body that Nana Fredua-Mensah no more had the mandate of the State of Ghana to contest for any position.
Treachery has always been a Ghanaian psyche, knowledgeable Ghanaians would tell you. Apparently, the bearer of the letter withdrawing Nana Fredua-Mensah’s candidacy was on the same flight as the man who thought he had the mandate of the government and people of Ghana to contest. The story is told that Nana Fredua-Mensah got to know of the treachery only on the morning of the vote. He returned to Ghana utterly confused and disappointed.
Since then Ghana did not have a look-in at CAF and FIFA until the advent of Mr. Nyantakyi. That is one reason why I, for instance, supported him through all his trials and tribulations. His rise to the very top echelon of CAF means that he is also the darling boy of the world governing body on football.
Mr. Nyantakyi has done well for himself since he was offered the opportunity to serve on CAF and FIFA. At the time of his resignation on Friday, Mr. Nyantakyi was the President of the West African Football Union, Member of the FIFA Associations Committee, Member of the FIFA Council and First Vice-President of CAF.
The Akans would tell you: Wotan Okwaduo A Na Woayi No Mbirika. Loosely translated it says: If you hate the animal Okwaduo (a very fast animal in the bush in the company of the duiker family), you must at least appreciate the way it runs.
Kwesi was a member of the football organising committee during the London Olympic Games. He had been very instrumental in many Ghanaians getting key roles in both FIFA and CAF.
As you read this piece, Tony Baffoe, a former Black Stars player, is now a Deputy Secretary at FIFA. I will like to believe that many Ghanaians were proud watching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and seeing Tony lead Germany and Argentina onto the field in the final game. That was the handiwork of Kwesi Nyantakyi.
As you read this piece, Mr. Justice Anim-Yeboah, a Supreme Court Judge in this country, is to leave this country this evening en-route to Moscow to take part in the proceedings of FIFA activities, ahead of the World Cup, as head of the FIFA Ethics Committee. These are but a few of the enormous benefits this country was reaping from the membership of Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi on CAF and FIFA.
Just a teaser here. Does anybody remember the offices of the Ghana Football Association before Mr. Nyantakyi became President? GFA was housed in rented premises at what is now the Ministries Clinic, having just moved out of the Accra Sports Stadium as one of the associations under the National Sports Council.
Kwesi led the way for major reforms in the local game by moving the GFA outside Sports Council control, and the construction of the magnificent edifice – Football House – near the Ghana Tourism Board, not far from the Ghana Institute of Journalism at Ridge in Accra.
Most Ghanaians may not know this, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi was in Morocco taking charge of Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup, when he returned home to report to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, after the President had asked the CID to take over investigations, following the former FA boss’ indiscretion on tape in the Anas exposé.
CAF has declared the Moroccan bid an African collective issue. As First Vice-Chairman of CAF, Kwesi was asked to take charge. In Morocco, he was treated like a king. He had a motorcade to beat traffic and had the ear of King Mohammed VI.
The tragedy of Kwesi’s resignation from CAF and FIFA is that this country would struggle to fill his shoes in these two continental and international football bodies. The way the system works is that the opportunity to fill the void would pass on to leaders in other football zones in Africa. We have lost the chance to maximise the opportunity presented by Kwesi Nyantakyi’s membership of CAF and FIFA.
By one misuse of his discretion, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi has aided this nation to throw away the baby with the bath water.
I shall return!