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Sports Features of Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Source: Listowell Yesu Bukarson

Why the GFA opposed the Public Interest Committee.

On Monday, 18th August, 2014, I got glued to the Television to watch and raptly listen to the Presidential Commission of inquiry as it sat to continue probing Ghana’s participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Chief Director, Abdulai Yakubu and Chief Accountant, Mr. Prosper Apasu of the Ministry of Youth and Sports had taken their turns to respond to questions from the commissioners. 

Revelations galore!

Chairman of the Commission, His Lordship Justice Senyo Dzamefe made a solid point as he interrogated the two gentlemen. What is the state of the Public Interest Committee? He asked.

Folks, as i watched, i came to the conclusion that Ghana Football is in this mess because of the inactivity of the Public Interest Committee.

How the president of the Ghana Football Association, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi craftily and vehemently opposed the setting up of this Committee even though it was mandated by the status of the GFA bewildered me at the time. After careful reflections of what seemed a harmless question by his Lordship, I have come to the conclusion that His Lordship knew what he was driving at.

Am convinced now that, perhaps, the GFA would never have had its way to pay each of its members of the Black Stars management Committee headed by Kwesi Nyantakyi US$82,500 dollars of the tax payers’ money for virtually doing nothing to merit such amount.

Otherwise, Mr. Nyantakyi would not have told Ghanaians on Peace FM’s flagship morning show programme, “Kokroko” that all the committee members earned US$82,500 multiplied by two and shared amongst all the Committee members contrary to revelations from the Commission that indeed each one of the seven members of the Management Committee earned a whooping US$82,500.

For the records, I visited the archives just to abreast myself of what the Public Interest Committee means to Ghana Football and why its initial formation was resisted by Mr. Nyantakyi, and how he succeeded in making it a white elephant after its formation.

I wish to reproduce the banter between former Adidas Representative for West Africa and now mayor of Kumasi, Hon. Kojo Bonsu and Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi over the formation of the Public Interest Committee as reported by the media in 2010.

On Monday, November 23, 2009 at 2:53pm, soccernet reported;

Bonsu - The GFA needs to be checked!!

A former football administrator has called on the government to immediately put in place a Public Interest Committee (PIC) to oversee the activities of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and help check indiscipline and corruption in football administration. 

In a move likely to stir further controversy over the level of government involvement in football administration, Mr. Kojo Bonsu, a businessman with keen interest in football matters, quoted statutes of world football’s governing body, FIFA, and the GFA’s own regulations to support his stance. 

He said it was time to extend the national standards of governance to football, especially now that the government was obliged to make huge financial commitments to the Black Stars to participate in the Africa Nations Cup and the World Cup next January and June, respectively. 

Referring to Article 70 of the GFA Statues, which are approved by FIFA, he said it provided for the formation of a PIC and said the committee was required to work in accordance with the directives of the executive committee and the Ministry of Sports to formulate policies necessary for the building of national teams. 

He said Article 70.1 of the statutes also required the PIC to liaise with the ministry in terms of the provision of the necessary facilities required for building national football teams. 

“The government has every right and authority, with the full support of FIFA, to get involved in anything concerning the national teams. It can also call for accounting of every pesewa that has to do with the national teams, agree on who coaches them, how much they have to be paid, agree on bonuses for national team players and officials, ask questions on appearance fees during friendly matches, who has to make a trip, among others, and FIFA will not raise a finger,” he said. 

He stressed that the bombardment of the government and Ghanaians with ‘no government interference’ from some football officials “is because some members of the GFA fear their own shadows from the past”. 

Mr. Bonsu recalled that in 2008 when Ghana went to bid for the hosting of the CAN 2008 tournament, government officials played the lead role and indicated that government officials were again instrumental in the opening and closing ceremonies of that tournament. 

He wondered why members of the GFA did not complain of government interference then but did so now anytime a government official made a statement on football. He said when President John Evans Atta Mills said the government would not interfere in football administration in the country; some took it as a blank cheque. 

He said the President had, in addition to that assurance, sounded a caution about accountability “which not even FIFA can stop because it endorses accountability and honesty in its fair play slogan”. He said what the President meant was that the government would not go contrary to what FIFA rules and regulations stipulated about interference but that did not mean “the GFA is free to do anything at all that it wants”. 

The football administrator said although government said it would not interfere in Ghana football per the position of FIFA; it could always intervene when necessary because “it is government’s money that is used to finance the league in the form of sponsorship, since the sponsorship package is tax deductible when determining the taxable incomes of the sponsoring companies”. 

He said if the government decided that it would not give tax exemptions to the sponsoring companies, there would be no sponsorship for the country league and the clubs. Mr. Bonsu drew an analogy with the Asantehene role as the Life Patron of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, saying that the Asantehene had the power to appoint people to the Kotoko management to cater for his interest and indicated if Otumfuo Osei Tutu asked for accountability, it would not amount to inference. 

He said as the World Cup approached, the executive members of the GFA should be ready to declare to the government all the money that would be received from FIFA and other donors, the number of tickets that would be allocated to Ghana and how they would be sold and allocated. 

Bonsu urged the members of the GFA to co-operate with the government, “rather than hiding behind the banner of FIFA’s ‘no interference”. 

He described calls by some executive members of the GFA on the government not to interfere in the administration of football in the country as attempts to discourage it from seeking accountability for their stewardship. 

He said those GFA executive members were trumpeting the “no government interference in football” slogan to confuse Ghanaians and ward off government officials from getting involved in football in order to protect their “personal and selfish interests”. He charged the GFA to draw the line between government interference, government intervention and government involvement, since “FIFA is against government interference and not government involvement and government intervention”. 

Mr. Bonsu, who made his point in a four-page paper in reference to the Legislative Instrument (LI) establishing the GFA, said government interference, from FIFA’s perspective, came to play only when a government or its agency imposed or tried to impose an executive or executives on the GFA set up or got involved in the day-to-day administration of the GFA, the running of the local league or the FA Cup.   However, he said, FIFA encouraged government involvement in football, especially when it came to its development and matters of national teams. He said the national teams of every country belonged to the government, stressing that “the government is the owner of the national teams, which are managed by the GFA on behalf of the government and FIFA approves of government involvement in this direction”. 

Moments after his report the same day, Mr. Nyatakyi was reported by the soccernet as having reacted to Mr. Bonsu’s story;

Akwasi Nyantakyi fires back with an uppa cot. 

Ghana Football Association boss Kwasi Nyantakyi has launched an astonishing attack on Kojo Bonsu, describing the football administrator as a 'liar'.

Nyantakyi added that Bonsu, who has been keen on the Ghana FA post for many years, is ‘immature’ and ‘naive’ when it comes to football matters.

The GFA chief has given Bonsu two days to retract allegation of corruption and indiscipline leveled against his administration or face legal action.

Bonsu stirred the hornet’s nest on Monday when he asked government to put in place a Public Interest Committee (PIC) to oversee the activities of the GFA to help check indiscipline and corruption in football administration. 

But in a sharp rebuttal to the former Kotoko board member, Nyantakyi says the allegations leveled against his outfit are frolicsome and ‘recycled’ without basis.

“Kojo Bonsu should stop peddling these lies about the GFA and its members and make his intentions clear,” Nyantakyi said.

“We know that he has been consistently interested in the GFA presidency and that is why he is adopting these desperate measures.

“He has made these allegations without providing evidence and I demand that he substantiates his allegations in 48 hours or face the consequences.

“Allegations of corruption are serious and we dare him to provide the evidence or he is a desperate liar.

“His ignorance is football matters are clear for all to see. He wants to be the GFA boss yet he doesn’t know that it is the GFA which called for the setting up of the PIC and not government.”

Nyantakyi asked Bonsu to prepare to 2011 Ghana FA elections if he is keen on the post rather than take to maligning the current board.

“We all know Bonsu wants to be the Ghana FA boss so I want to tell him to prepare him for the 2011elections.

“We are busy preparing the country for next year’s Nations Cup and World Cup so he should stop disturbing us.”

And on 12th August, Derrick Romeo Adogla of Myjoyonline.com reported;

Aloysius Denkabe to Chair Public Interest Committee

The Executive Committee of the Ghana Football Association has finally formed the Public Interest Committee to be headed by Mr. Aloysius Denkabe - PIC.

A statement from the FA on Thursday announced the five-member body to be chaired by Executive Committee member Mr. Aloysius Denkabe.

This move effectively nullifies government's proposal to make Abedi Pele the chairman of the committee.

The formation of the PIC comes in the wake of the Executive Committee's decision to reject government's proposal to nominate Abedi Pele for the vacant CAF executive committee post.

Mr. Ernest Thompson, Mr. Tedi Sory, Mr. Abedi Pele and Mr. Oteng Arthur are the other members of the Public Interest Committee.

The PIC is, among others supposed to:

-Liaise with the Ministry responsible for Sports in terms of provision of the necessary facilities required for building the national football teams.

-Liaise with the Ministry responsible for Sports in the provision of funds by the Government for purposes of building the National football teams.

-In accordance with directives of the Executive Committee and the Ministry, formulate policies, which are necessary for building strong National teams.

-Perform any other functions as ascribed by the Executive Committee with respect to the Protocol on GFA/Government relations.

Abena Asiedua Tenkorang and Robert Israel of XFM, on September, 4, 2010 wrote;

I Feel Vindicated- Kojo Bonsu

As president John Mills has had FIFA’s consent to establish the Public Interest Committee to oversee the disbursement of funds invested in football by the state, one person who feels vindicated is the Board Chairman of the National Sports Council, Kojo Bonsu.

Kojo Bonsu has been advocating for the setting up of the PIC but like he will put it, “I was chastised by everybody when calling for the setting up of the PIC but now I feel vindicated. The right thing must be done.”

President John Mills gave the assurance yesterday when he addressed journalists from his trip from Switzerland. He agreed to the call by individuals and corporate bodies to establish the committee to ensure probity and accountability in the management of the various national teams. The president said he met with FIFA president, Sepp Blatter where he raised the issue of whether or not demanding accountability from the Ghana Football Association amounted to interference.

Mr. Blatter was said to have indicated that demanding accountability from the GFA did not amount to any interference but rather strengthened the government resolve to ensure transparency and accountability in the various national teams. In this light, President John Mills gave the assurance that proper steps will be taken to see to its setting up.

The five member Public Interest Committee will act as a liaison between the GFA and the government. Mr. Bonsu said in an interview with X FM that the government spends so much money financing football in the country and that it is only prudent that the money are accounted for. He said the president’s intervention will go a long way to “help the growing generation to understand that if there is a law or a constitutional requirement, it should be abided by.”

Folks, I keep asking myself why the GFA sort to oppose the formation of this all important Committee in the first place and how it succeeded in making this Committee useless to its functions.

The crust of the problems that have emanated from the World Cup fiasco, I think, hinge on the neglect or the non-involvement of the Public Interest Committee in dealing with government.

Whiles commending the Commission for raising the question of the Public Interest Commission, I wish to urge it to push further in that direction because there are more unanswered questions why this Committee with these very crucial roles for our football was sidelined by the GFA and the Ministry in its World Cup dealing.

Writer is a Sports/political Freelance Journalist.

Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association.

Email: Lbukarson76@yahoo.com

Mobile: 0244 831631.

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