By: Listowell Yesu Bukarson
Last two weeks I drove to my humble hometown of Sandema, the capital of the Bulsa North District of the Upper East Region. The journey was on a sports mission. A mission to ascertain the state of sports facilities in that part of the country vis-à-vis the World Cup and how much cash was “blown” by powers that be in our sports.
Reports of how much money was approved by cabinet for the 2014 World Cup and how it was expended has left me wondering if Ghana sports is all about the Black Stars headed by GFA President and Chairman of the Management Committee of the team, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyie and his “friends”.
The famous Kaladan Park in Tamale, the Bolgatanga, Navrongo and Sandema Mini Stadiums built by the late Head of State of the Republic of Ghana, General Afrifa, are all an eyesore to behold.
These once upon a time enviable sporting edifices are in deplorable states, much to the chagrin of the avowed sports-addict Ghanaian.
So is ask; is Ghana Sports all about football? And even if it were football, is it all about the Senior National team, the Black Stars?
Folks, the Black Stars 2014 World cup approved Budget was in excess of fourteen Million United States Dollars (US$14,000,000). This budget was for the group stages to the finals of the World Cup.
My investigations have revealed that the Bank of Ghana had made the 14 million dollars available on 28th May, 2014. The cash sitting in the accounts of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
In the face of the economic difficulties, epitomized by the incessant strikes and demonstrations that have characterized the President John Dramani Mahama led National Democratic Congress government, if government could still raise that kind of money for the Black Stars campaign in Brazil, then government and by extension Ghanaians were serious about the nation’s participation at the World Cup.
The tax-payer’s money had to be judiciously used at the World Cup. It was therefore not to be mismanaged, misappropriated, misused and or be stolen by anyone.
And, this is why every pesewa of the nation’s money, released to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the GFA to execute the Mission in Brazil must be accounted for.
This due call cannot be equated to calling for the moon, asking anyone to go dig a trench or crack a stone.
The clarion call by well-meaning Ghanaians, including credible colleagues of the inky fraternity must not be seen as a call for witch-hunting. Not at all. This is why the decision by President John Dramani Mahama to set-up the Presidentional Commission of Inquiry to superintend over the investigations of how the nation’s cash was used in Brazil must not be seen as one of a witch-hunting expedition. Personally, am excited to the core, that so far the Commissioners have given the nation hope, that one more footballing opportunity at “stealing” the nation’s money by football people, just too many.
Am hopeful that the nation will not hope against hopes, in the hope that after the Commission’s work, “Chopping” Ghana’s Money in the name of football- Sorbibor-Never Again!!!
Running football in this country will never be the same because up till this point, the Commission has given clear indications that even though it has quasi-judicial powers and so sits as a High Court with all the powers, it is not interested in witch-hunting anybody for the sake of it. And that is reassuring. The level of questioning, the respect for those who have appeared before it and the revelations that have emanated all give credence to the competence and “neutralistic” posture of the Commission.
The media so far have restraint itself from scandalizing the Commission and that is positive. Clearly the media interactions in Accra and Kumasi by the Commission have educated the media enough to eschew acts akin to scandalizing the Commission. So the media understand what libeling, slandering and being contemptuous in the wake of the work of the Commission means. The GFA, for whatever reason and or reasons, sort to scare the country away from embracing the setting up of the Commission, preaching the gospel of FIFA according to ambiguous interpretations of articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA status. Simply put, they claimed that Ghana stood the risk of being banned if we went ahead with the Commission. But the Commissioners knew better. “Ghana is a sovereign State and no power on this earth, including FIFA, can stop us from doing our work” sounded Commissioner, Moses Foh-Amoaning”.
At least, in a reply to my letter dated 11th August, 2014 to FIFA seeking clarifications into the setting up of the Commission and whether FIFA had warned Ghana that we risked being banned as the GFA had all this while sort to portray, FIFA on August 12, 2014, at 9:53AM replied, “Dear Listowell, FIFA has acknowledged the setting-up of a Commission of Enquiry by the Ghanaian government”.
With the die cast and the Constitutional composition of the Commission adhered to by all including even FIFA, I can now make the argument that the revelations so far from the Commission’s sittings are not just shocking by expectedly mind-boggling. And must be taken seriously.
The Commission started its sitting on Monday, 11th August, 2014. And so far The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Youth and Sports and the Bank of Ghana have appeared before it. The Ministry of Youth and Sports will reappear on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th August. With the Immediate past Youth and Sports Minister, Hon Elvis Afriyie Ankrah and Mr. Fred Darko having their turns between Wednesday and Friday. Ghana knows by now that the Bank of Ghana transferred four Million United States Dollars (US$4, 000,000) to the team in Brazil and clearly not the much talked about Three Million United States Dollars (3,000,000) as the nation was made to believe.
The Commission has revealed that the Bank of Ghana first released Three Million and Three hundred thousand dollars (US$3,300,000) and later in the same day released extra seven hundred thousand dollars, (700,000) totaling four million dollars.
The breakdown of the four million dollars includes the fact the 23 players received, US$2,300,000 with 10 Technical team members receiving US$ 100,00,000 (US$100,000) each.
Even though the President of the GFA and Chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi at the GFA organized Press conference had denied that the Management Committee Members received appearance fees, the Chief Director at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in a document presented at the Commission on day 4 of its sitting indicated that, Appearance Fee was paid to not just the players but officials as well. Mr. Abdulai Yakubu told the Commission that eighty-two thousand, five hundred dollars (82, 5000) was paid to each of the seven management Committee members, adding that a bulk sum of five hundred and seventy-seven, five hundred dollars, and (US$577,500) was received in bulk on behalf of the 7 committee members.
It is clear that even if the seven Committee Members, received US82, 500 each, the figure comes to US577, 000. Question then is, why did the Ministry signed for US700, 000 knowing that it was to sign for US$577,000? Who signed for the US$700,000 and where is the balance of US$122,500? Did any Member of the Ministry receive any appearance fee? Surely pregnant questions galore, seeking answers
Now painstaking investigations have revealed that, the Co-ordinate of the Ghana Brazil 2014 Project, Mr. Fred Darko, two days before Ghana played Brazil received a little of four hundred thousand dollars (US$400,000)from the Ministry of Youth and Sports to be transported to the Minister, Hon Elvis Afriyie Ankrah in Brazil to cater for other expenditure.
My understanding is that eighty-three thousand dollars(US$83,000) of the said amount was to cater for accommodation of “prominent” Ghanaians in Brazil, Twenty-five thousand (US$25,000) was earmarked for the transportation of supporters from their hotel in Natal to Brasilia even though the fans didn’t go for that particular game.
Two-hundred and three thousand dollars (US$203,000) was to cater for the accommodation of supporters in Brazil even though a lot of the fans were left stranded without accommodation.
Folks, I am skeptical if this amount of over four hundred thousand dollars (US$400,000) was carried to Brazil at all. I am because; Mr. Darko received the money on Monday 23rd June at 4pm ahead of the Ghana Portugal game on Thursday, 26th June at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. The flight that was carrying the Bulk of what government say was three million dollars US$3,000,000) was scheduled to fly to Brazil on the same day at 5pm but Mr. Darko decided not to fly on that flight. Thankfully, the flight carrying the US3M couldn’t leave on the said Monday and had to leave on Tuesday morning. When Mr. Darko was contacted on phone to fly on the same flight, he had already reached South Africa on his way to Brazil ostensibly with the over 400,000 dollars. Am more skeptical if Mr. Darko traveled with the cash because as is the practice, such huge sums of money can only travel with a letter from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and my checks have revealed that the Ministry did not issue him a letter before he disappeared with the cash.
As Hon Elvis Afriyie Ankrah and Mr. Darko appear this week, I want to know what happened to that money. I also want to know what happened to monies raised from the “text and Win” project which was meant to raise enough money to send between 10 and 100 fans at the cost of six thousand dollars (US$6,000) each to Brazil. How much was raised and how was it expended?
I will also be looking to knowing how the close to Three million Ghana Cedis (GH3,000,000) raised from corporate sponsorships was used because all these monies went to the Ministry through the 2014 Secretariat headed by Mr. Darko with supervision by the Ministry headed by Hon. Afriyie Ankrah.
Folks, whiles we all wait for more shocking revelations from the Commission’s sittings, i ask again, has the GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi already sued the UK Telegraph and the Channel 4 TV station in the UK for reporting his alleged involvement in the Match-fixing scandal ahead of the World Cup yet.
It’s my sincere yearn that the Commission’s investigations will make revealing findings that will propel cogent recommendations towards the resuscitation of the dwindled fortunes of our game because, once again, “Chopping” Ghana’s Money in the name of football- Sorbibor-Never Again!!!
The Writer is a Sports/Political Freelance Journalist.
Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association.