On 22 May 2018, President Akufo-Addo directed that the President of the Ghana Football Association, GFA, in the person of Kwesi Nyantakyi be arrested over issues of fraud. The directive from the President came at the back of an investigative piece by world acclaimed investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
The president after consulting with his lawyers and being a lawyer himself felt that a prima facie case was established against the FA Boss, hence the order for his arrest.
However, there were theories among sections of Ghanaians about the timing of the arrest especially that there was a gentleman agreement between and among Tiger Eye PI, Kweku Baako and the Presidency among others that no arrests would be effected until the investigative piece was shown to the general public on the 6th of June, 2018.
Others also theorized that the president ordered for the arrest of the FA boss to divert the attention of the Ghanaian populace from the Kelni-GVG contract, in which Imani Africa felt among other things that the contract was inflated and that Kelni-GVG was a ‘fraud’. But these are arguments for another day.
Just as many Ghanaians, a Member of Parliament, MP, for Assin Central, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong took strong views of the video the Tiger Eye PI crew wanted to air and which was subsequently aired. He argued that the method used by Anas was unconventional and irregular and that he has evidential proofs that suggest that Anas was also corrupt.
There were also allegations of Anas having an affair with the wife of the late J.B Danquah-Adu (the Late J.B Danquah-Adu until his death in 2016, was the MP for Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region).
On the day of premiering the video, the President relieved some four CEOs of some institutions of their posts (for those who care to know, the institutions were Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Bulk Oil Storage and Transport and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital). No reasons were adduced as to why they were asked to vacate their various posts as the president is not mandated by law to state his reasons for taking certain key decisions. However, for the CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, the reason given was that he had issues with his age and so was not approved by the Public Services Commission.
As usual, this action by the president got Ghanaians questioning the timing for taking such a crucial action and that again that was a way of trying to take the shine away from the investigative piece dubbed Number12 by Anas and his crew. Others also were of the view that the decision by the president could have been a mere coincidence.
7th of June saw the Presidency issuing a communiqué that says that steps were being taken to dissolve the GFA. Again, a section of Ghanaians thought that was a bold step by the president. Others thought otherwise stating various conventions of FIFA which bar governments and external forces from actively involving themselves in the internal affairs of the FA.
Other views were that the GFA is a company limited by guarantee and so the government has no locus or business trying to dissolve it. Subsequent to all these, Anas had written to FIFA, pushing for sanctions to be meted out to Kwesi Nyantakyi, the FA boss. Consequently, on the 8th of June, FIFA gave the FA boss a 90-day ban from all football-related activities.
Immediately after the ban, the FA boss also tendered in his resignation letter, stating among other things that he has apologized unreservedly to President Akufo-Addo, the Vice President, Ministers and their Deputies and to all Ghanaians “for his indiscretion in associating them with a private conversation in the video”.
On that same day, Anas secured a suit against Hon Kennedy Agyapong at an Accra High Court for defamation to the tune of twenty-five million Ghana Cedis (GhC 25,000,000). The Hon MP was purported to have said that Anas was a ghost and that under the law, ghosts do not have the legal authority to sue and that even if the high court finds him guilty, he is more than able to pay that amount. The Ghana police service has also declared the premise of the GFA as a crime zone.
What is my take in all of these? The narrative has been that Kwesi Nyantakyi, in addition to all the other officials who were caught in the investigative piece should be punished, at least if not for anything at all, to serve as a deterrent to others. In my considered view, this is a very laudable idea but to add that that action in itself may not cure the corruption at the FA.
I am one of those theorists who believe that this whole saga should bring about reforms in the administration of football in the country: After the First World War, there were some reforms. One of such reforms was the Paris Peace Conference which was opened in 1919. This treaty was what is known in the literature as the Treaty of Versailles. Among other things, Germany was punished for being the cause of the war. As a consequence of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War, the League of Nations was formed in 1920, a year after the Treaty of Versailles was signed.
The League of Nations eventually collapsed because the United States, US, at the time practised the Policy of Non-interference or the Policy of Isolationism and so Congress did not give its blessings to the League, though the whole idea of forming the League was conceived by President Woodrow Wilson, the US president at the time.
Then again, after the Second World War, the United Nations, UN, was formed, all in a bit to preventing another War from happening. To consolidate this, the US adopted what is known as the Marshall Plan. The idea was to help build those countries that suffered the consequences of the World Wars. This eventually led to the formation of the European Union. The reason I am giving all these explanations is to make the point that mishaps should always make us think of reforms that would prevent the same things from happening over and over again. I agree that as was the case of the League of Nations, some reforms may not last, may be due to external locus of controls but we can always make attempts at making reforms, just like the way the US spearheaded yet again the formation of another organisation, the UN, all in the bit to preventing a third world war.
Most Ghanaians are of the view that the steps taken by the President to dissolve the FA are very bold and laudable. Others argue that the action by the president is at variance with law since the FA is a company limited by guarantee and also for the fact that the rules of FIFA are very explicit on this that no government or external force should be seen meddling in the internal affairs of the FA and that any government going contrary to this would normally incur the wrath of FIFA. One not-so-far example is the case of the ban of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, in 2014.
The NFF boss, Aminu Maigari, was accused of financial malfeasance and “failure to call a meeting of the executive committee for eight months” and so the government thought it wise at the time to have him sacked but FIFA gave the NFF a ban and that ban was lifted only after the NFF boss was reinstated. Other examples are those of Pakistan, Mali, and Spain among others.
There are theories as to why though China more or less meddles in the affairs of its FA, FIFA is unable to ban the Chinese Football Association. Because for example, the Vice President of the Chinese Football Association, Zhang Jian, is the Director of the State General Association of Sports and the President of the Chinese FA, Cai Zhenhua is also the Deputy Director of State General Association of Sports, a state department that reports directly to the states. These complex interactions, inter alia, between and among the Chinese system make the Chinese FA more or less inviolable to FIFA sanctions.
Now the embattled FA boss has resigned. According to some analysis sited at citinewsroom.com, there are implications to this. One of such implications is that he cannot act in the capacity as the FA boss and therefore no longer the head of the GFA executive committee, which means he cannot be a FIFA executive council member. It also means he cannot vote for and on behalf of Ghana at any Congress among other things. Simply put, it means he is finished.
Anas is further pushing that the 90 day ban should be extended further to mean that Kwesi Nyantakyi is banned from football for life but I am of the view that the implications for the man in terms of his reputation, social capital, the trust and confidence that people hitherto imposed in him had all gone by now and that he abdicating his position as the FA boss should be enough because that has rippling effects. He has asked for forgiveness of sins from the Ghanaian people.
He has promised to be of ‘good behavior’ and has demonstrated that by resigning. As to whether or not he would have resigned if FIFA hadn’t given him the ban, is another issue to be contested at a later date. The police have seized and declared the premises of the FA as a crime scene. This means criminal charges could be pressed against him if found guilty. In my view, these actions against the embattled former FA boss should be enough. If we push it too much, it would only suggest that we are “using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” (in Ex-President Kufuor’s tone of voice).
The average Ghanaian is passionate about football, no doubt. The average Ghanaian is also very volatile when it comes to football, no doubt about that one too. During football seasons, we know how some relationships become very fluid because partners complain of football taking away all the attention of their spouses etc, etc. It is, therefore, not surprising that Ghanaians are concerned about the happenings in the football fraternity. The reason is that they feel one of the many things that unites them and makes them happy is in a mess and so obviously, emotions would rise and I get it but let’s remind ourselves of this cliché that it is the very things that we so much love and adore that would normally end up hurting us.
I conclude by saying that the FA boss and any official found culpable should be dealt with in accordance with the law but not with malice. It is also important to note that the punishments that would be meted out to the FA officials after the investigations would not be enough if indeed we want to see football differently in Ghana.
I will, therefore, suggest that some reforms be made to that effect. A careful look at the GFA Elections precepts indicate that it is only elected officials, in addiction to some key committee members are the only ones eligible to take part in the voting process. This process in my candid view makes it quite simple and easy to manipulate to one’s advantage.
The cure should be that these electoral colleges should be expanded to cover a lot more people, including players of the national team past and present, managers of clubs, registered coaches, among others. This would make it quite difficult if not impossible to manipulate.
On the side of government, the ministers of sports and some key personnel in the sports ministry should be included at least in the voting process. All these can be done if we adopt the ‘Chinese style’ of administering football so that we do not incur the wrath of FIFA while at the same time ensuring that the right things are being done. We can always do both.
There should be one president as has been the case but the FA vice presidents should be two, and they should be voted for.
There should be a vibrant public relations department, Human Resources department as well as a Relationships department to make sure that relevant information is readily available to the populace as and when needed.
Just like we have at FIFA, there should be term limits for our FA presidents and other elected officials. The term should be limited to two terms of fours years, consistent with our laws. This would go a long way to prevent or reduce corruption or the perception of corruption because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lastly, the FA just like any other entity should be made to declare their financial statements every other year.
If these recommendations are adhered to, there is a likelihood that in the nearest future, the administration of football in the country would be different if not much better than what we had or have at the moment.
By: Francis Kwabena Adjei (M.A Student, International Affairs| LECIAD, UG)
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