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Feature Article of Monday, 4 June 2012

Columnist: Keelson, Dennis

This is indeed unprecedented

Last Friday June 1, 2012, at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi during the 2014 Black Stars World Cup qualifier against Lesotho, there was an incident that was as unfortunate as it was deplorable. Play was halted some seven minutes into the second half when Ghana was leading four-nil because the floodlights at the stadium had developed some fault.

For a while the Black Stars who had worked so hard to tie up the match with the three points already in the bag were looking at the prospect of a replay on a future date when the four goals they have scored will not count.

The unfortunate incident halted play for more than an hour and for the magnanimity on the part of the match commissioner, the match would have been called off. And Ghana would have paid a huge prize for such self inflicting pain. As it stands now, we should even be prepared to face some sanctions from the world football governing body-FIFA.

In the wake of the apparent national disgrace, the President in a knee-jerk reaction is said to have suspended the Ashanti Regional manager of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). The later reaction by the Presidential Spokesman-Koku Anyidoho that the statement emanated from his (Koku’s) office is an issue worth considering later. Indeed the ECG had given ample indication that something similar or more than what we saw at the Kumasi Sports Stadium was in the offing.

On more than three occasions, the entire nation went dark and what was the President’s reaction. He left off the hook those in charge and through what has now become a cliché “A Commission of Enquiry” was set up to look into the incident, the outcome is still not known.

The PPP believes the President’s action was just a panic reaction that serves only as a facade to a systemic and leadership failure in the country. If government would take credit for Ghana’s improved performance at the last World Cup and good placement on the FIFA World ratings, then government should be humble to admit that it has failed the nation at such a big stage when the attention of the international community was on Ghana.

The PPP believes the President is using the ECG official as scapegoats for the supervisory inefficiency of higher officials who should have shown direct interest in preparations to make sure those whose job it is did the right thing. In this case we are referring to the Ministers of Energy, Youth and Sports, the Director-General of the National Sports Authority.

There has been an official announcement that the matter will be investigated. That is absolutely unnecessary, because we see it as another chance for national administration to put its cronies on a committee, pay them huge per diems to drink and enjoy expensive delicacies at the taxpayer’s expense. With the sloppiness so far exhibited by such so-called commissions of enquiries, for once the President and his government would be taken serious if they chose investigators who are already in the employ of the state to undertake such investigation, so that Ghana does not incur any additional expense from it.

Nonetheless, the PPP is utterly shocked at these developments. First of all, it is strange that immediately it happened no one was able to tell us the cause of the problem. As usual the blame game begun immediately after the incident with the ECG putting the blame on the managers of our stadia- the National Sports Authority,

The PPP would want to know the condition of the electricity-generation plant that was installed (when the stadium was re-built) to provide electricity to power the four sets of flood lights at the stadium and take care of its other power needs?

Ghana has known for over two weeks that this match would be played at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium. So how come the National Sport s Authority and the managers at the stadium not co-ordinate with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to ensure power was available?

Once the decision was taken to play the match in Kumasi, did all the state agencies concerned take all the necessary steps to ensure everything at the stadium was in tip-top shape for the match? We ask this question, because the PPP feels if the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ghana Football Association, the National Sports Authority and stadium administrators had been about their business over the last two weeks, they would have found out what the problem was and resolved it before the match day.

Since it is a World Cup Qualifier there is no denying that the world was watching via satellite. And it is very embarrassing that this should happen. For the PPP, this unfortunate and embarrassing incident speaks to the lack of seriousness with which we approach almost everything we do in this country.

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