BY MICHAEL ASARE BOADU
Empire FM (EIB Network)
I HAVE read carefully the loud applause from the public towards the government’s decision to completely crash down the structure of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and give birth to a new body to run football in the country.
This development has arisen following the damning revelations in a documentary put together by private scrutineer Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
The documentary, titled ‘Number 12: When Greed and Misconduct become the Norm’, captures some top football officials engaged in acts of corruption which have dire consequences for the game of football.
Assuming the GFA is as fraudulent and corrupt as many want us to believe, I honestly think the government alone is not competent enough to be the sole party to do the house-cleaning job.
Several corruption allegations have been made against this current government which they have failed to deal with entirely and/or convincingly.
The current government has engaged in deals/acts/practices that have sparked controversy nationwide.
Notable amongst them are the ‘Kelni GVG deal’, the ‘Seat for Cash Saga’, and the ‘US Military base brouhaha’.
More so, this New Patriotic Party government, prior to the 2016 general election, made several promises on how to expedite action in bringing to an end the ‘Alfred Woyome saga’.
Fast forward to now and the promises look far from reality.
Another reason I earnestly doubt the competence of the government to tackle this matter in the best possible manner has to do with the attitude of previous and the current governments towards reforming the sports sector after occurrences of corrupt acts in the past.
Under this current government, we have already witnessed the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games visa fiasco.
The development brought shame to the country globally as a number of persons were detained for posing as journalists.
Eventually some key government officials, specifically the suspended Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Pious Enam Hadzide, and the suspended Acting Director General of the National Sports Authority, Mr Robert Sarfo Mensah, were alleged to have been involved in the incidents related to Gold Coast.
The matter was eventually referred to the CID for investigations.
Till date nothing concrete has come out to accurately tell Ghanaians who caused what as well as suggest the best practice(s) to adopt to avoid such occurrences in the future.
Strangely, after weeks of agitations, the media has quieted over the Australia visa debacle and equally this same government has gone dumb over the issue.
How confident should one remain, that the eagerness to address the current matter involving the GFA won’t suffer such a consequence?
Well, as an optimist, I must remain anticipative.
However, the air of optimism is poisoned by the effusion of a catalogue of previous instances, where governments have failed to implement amply recommendations by committees set up to look at happenings in our sports which reek of corruption.
In 1999, President Jerry John Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress government set up a player transfer commission of inquiry headed by Justice Sulley Gbadebge to investigate allegations of fraudulent and corrupt acts involving transfer of Ghanaian footballers abroad.
Some of the affected players were Richard Kingson, Simon Addo, Robert Boateng, Baba Armando, John Richard Ackon and Michael Coffie.
Several top football officials, namely Mr Joseph Ade Coker (then GFA Vice Chairman), Nana Sam Brew Butler (then GFA Chairman), Mr George Adusei Poku, popularly known as Georgido, Harry Zakour, Kwabena Agyapong (then GFA Executive Council Member) and Mr Jones Abu Alhassan (then GFA Executive Council Member) were culpably involved.
Nana Sam Brew Butler was found culpable of committing the offences of Perjury and Deceit of Public Officer.http://laws.ghanalegal.com/acts/id/19/section/251/Deceiving_A_Public_Officer
Several recommendations were made and yet not even 40% of them have been fully implemented.
Read more here: https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/SportsArchive/Nana-Brew-Butler-Ade-Coker-Lied-10494.
In 2001, after Ghana’s worst ever football disaster (May 9 Stadium Disaster), a Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate happenings.
The Okudzeto Commission was set up by then President John Agyekum Kufuor to look into the disaster. The Chairman of the commission was Lawyer Sam Okudzeto. Other members of the commission were Professor George K. Ofosu Amaah, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Professor Akua Kuenyehia, and Mr. Ken Bediako, a veteran sports journalist.
The commission, among other things, recommended the prosecution of six police officers, which a government White paper upheld.
Police officers, Chief Superintendent of Police Koranteng Mintah, ASP Frank Awuah, ASP Faakyi Kumi, ASP B.B. Bakomora, ASP John Naami and ASP Frank Aryee were each charged with 126 counts of manslaughter.
The Defence Counsel made a submission of no case, and eventually prayed the court presided over by Mr Justice Yaw Appau to acquit and discharge the officers as the Prosecution had failed to prove its case.
The trial subsequently ended without anyone being held accountable for the death of the many people who lost their lives at the stadium on May 9, 2001. The White Paper endorsed the commission’s recommendation that a series of training programmes should be organized for the police to equip them to deal with flashpoints not only at the various stadia but in all aspects of the Ghanaian society.
It was said that from that day forward, policemen who were not assigned duties would no more be allowed entry into any of the stadia throughout the country.
In short, the government dilly-dallied with the full implementation of the report findings.
How the police even react to acts of hooliganism in football is enough testament to what has been done and what has not.
In September 2011, then Sports Minister Clement Kofi Humado set up a committee to probe into the myriad of organisational and technical problems Ghana encountered at the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
The committee was made up of Nii Adote Din Barima 1 – Chairman, Prof. Francis Dodoo, Mr Randy Abbey, Mr Ben Ohene-Ayeh, Mr David Agyeman Adjem and Mr Kevin Antierkuu, Secretary.
They came out with a report that captured several wrongdoings.
Read more here at https://www.modernghana.com/amp/sports/455382/summary-of-findings-of-the-maputo-report.html
The likes of Worlanyo Agrah, Erasmus Adorkor and Ignatius Elletey were all implicated but one way or another never got to pay for their ‘sins’ in full.
In 2014, following a fiasco at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, President John Mahama set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate matters.
It was headed by Justice Senyo Dzamefe with Lawyer Moses Foh Amoaning as one of its members.
When completed their work, they submitted their report to the government and eventually a white paper was issued.
Justice Dzamefe, at the time of submitting the report, suggested measures had been put in place to ensure recommendations approved were implemented.
He said, “We have set up a Report Implementation Strategy Committee to see to this.”
He cited why he was optimistic that their report won’t suffer same or similar treatment as previous reports from committees.
“We do not want ours to gather dust like what happened to the Gbadegbe Commission’s Report. We want ours to be implemented,” he continued.
“We have recommended a quarterly commission review colloquium so that after every three months, we ask if our recommendations are being implemented.”
Fast-forward to today and you will get to know that the 2014 PCI white paper report has actually been shelved.
It is beginning to gather dust and what throws further doubt as to whether this current government is serious about implementing the recommendations has to do with the response of the president when he was quizzed about it in a meet-the-press session to address happenings in our sports earlier this year.
Read more at http://citifmonline.com/2018/01/17/ive-forgotten-about-dzamefe-commission-white-paper-nana-addo/; http://3news.com/akufo-addo-forgotten-dzamefe-commission-report/
The Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah, is on record to have proclaimed that he will see to it that the Maputo 2011 report will be revisited to enable the implementation of its recommendations.
He made this disclosure during his vetting. After subsequently getting confirmed as Sports Minister, he seems to have forgotten his own words.
Read more at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/religion/Gov-t-to-revisit-Maputo-Report-Asiamah-508613
He has already spent more than a year in office and the promises he made during vetting have turned out to be payment of lip service.
So how competent is such a government to restructure and reform a football body believed to be reprobate.
The documentary by ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas that triggered this reaction by the government captured some officials of the National Sports Authority engaged in corrupt practices as well.
What’s discombobulating is that the government has not sought to collapse and restructure the body (NSA) even though it has a history of its officials engaging in corrupt acts to plunge the nation into shame and disgrace at international sports competitions.
Reforming Ghana football starts at that level. What is the government doing about it or it will be the usual sacking of the implicated officials?
I am not in any way holding brief for the Ghana Football Association as I have my own reservations as to how the body is run. (I will be tackling that later in another write-up), but I think the government is trying to kill an ant with a sledgehammer.
Their reaction to this, in my opinion, is a cloaked attempt to score political points. After all that is what they mostly do.
If we need a football governing body that is not meanly avaricious and mercenary, one that is not sordid or sleazy, then the government alone, in my candid opinion, is not competent enough to undertake such an arduous task.