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Sports Features of Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Source: The Catalyst Newspaper

Afriyie-Ankrah Debate Getting Overly Ridiculous

The debate as to the possible culpability or otherwise of Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah regarding Ghana’s failed bid at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, is getting overly ridiculous. It is becoming increasingly clear that his prejudiced detractors are not the least interested in the facts that are emerging from the Presidential Commission of Enquiry that would have formed the basis of an informed debate. It is either the facts are twisted to suit an already determined standpoint, or that these facts are totally disregarded in drawing weird conclusions. It is important therefore to expose this constant use of prejudiced opinion masquerading as objective discussions of the issues.

The Catalyst wonders how we can make progress, as expected of a civilized democratic people, when the truth is thrown to the dogs and the facts of a clear-cut case such as this would be deliberately ignored by some in what is supposed to be fair and balanced media discussions, irrespective of how much political interest is at stake.

These prejudiced people have gone to all lengths in their desperation to discredit the facts of the case that keep emanating from the Commission. For example, one of The Catalyst’s stories posted on ghanaweb.com on 2nd September 2014 captioned “Who Sabotaged Afriyie-Ankrah?’ turned someone who called himself Sarpong, into a self-conceited grammar marker. He quoted a portion of our piece which read “…three consecutive world cups” and said that was bad grammar which should have rather read “…three world cup appearances.” So clearly, this Sarpong character was not interested in the facts contained in our story. His preoccupation was simply to keep denting the former youth & sports minister’s image. It did not end there. This was followed with a wild claim by him that Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah had bribed the paper to publish the story. If this is not ridiculous, then we do not know what could ever be.

Reasonableness missing

The Catalyst is not bothered at all about the English grammar comment by this obvious ignoramus who clearly was just blowing hot air because it shows that he did not even know what he was talking about. After all, this is a democracy. Our concern has to do with the level of ridiculousness to which this whole debate has degenerated.

People have the right to wishful thinking and thus are at liberty to wish the downfall of others. So, those who wish the downfall of Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah with, or without, the hope that his eventual political demise would by extension drag the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government into the abyss, are at liberty to keep on dreaming. However, whatever it is that people desire, it is only important that a certain amount of reasonableness prevails in the discourse even at the lowest levels of cheap political point-scoring and propaganda. That is the only way we can build this country, if the motivation for all the loud noises the good people of Ghana are bombarded with 24/7 are truly about how we can build this country. It is becoming clearer by the day that prejudiced people have latched onto all manner of falsehoods and misinformation by specialised purveyors in a bid to tear Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah to shreds with the hope that this will end his promising political career. This is unacceptable.

Festered allegations of wrong doing

The Catalyst agrees that allegations- very wild allegations- about wrongdoing on the part of Hon Afriyie-Ankrah have been allowed to fester. These attacks had begun way before the start of the World Cup and are continuing even in the face of glaring evidences exposing the lies for what they are.

At a point, it was as if Goebbels, the dreaded propaganda chief of the monstrous Adolf Hitler himself followed Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah from Ghana to Brazil.

We were tol d, rather brazenly, that Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah had stolen Ghana money, took supporters to Brazil and dumped them in the streets because there was no accommodation, food and transportation arrangement in place for them. The media was littered with pictures of people purported to be Black Stars supporters sleeping in the streets of Natal in Brazil and that they queued to go to a single toilet available to the whole group and other negative news obviously manufactured to dent the image of Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah. This ‘Goebbelian’ propaganda was masterfully couched in the semblance of authentic reports from Brazil about a so-called plight of the sponsored Ghanaian football fans at the World Cup and given much leverage back home in the Ghanaian media. It was also alleged that Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah could not account for the $9million world cup money giving to him by government. These were just a few of the numerous allegations.

Presidential Commission of Enquiry

Thankfully, the Presidential Commission of Enquiry has been set up to investigate everything about Ghana’s participation at the 2014 World Cup, which clearly creates opportunity for most of the allegations to be put to a factual test and it is only a matter of time when the whole world will know fully the veracity of those claims.

It was not for no reason that attendance was so massive on the first day Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah appeared before the Commission. The hyper-interest in seeing the already crucified Afriyie-Ankrah ‘chopped into pieces’ by the Commission got many people ignorantly trooping there to witness the long awaited demolition of the NDC strongman. But they were disappointed when the facts began unfolding and the lies manufactured about him in the dark alleys of nowhere were exposed in broad daylight. That was the day he wept for Ghana when one of the Commissioners, Mr. Moses Foh-Amoani asked him how he felt about the failure of the Black Stars to deliver in Brazil. He told the Commission he was saddened by the behavior of the team- how low patriotism has sunk such that professional footballers who should be grateful to their country for given them the opportunity to play at the World Cup decided to sink the ‘ship’ even though they finally received the money they wanted before the crucial match with Portugal. But they lost and brought home only one point.

Then on the second day of his appearance, the room was almost empty but for the media men and just a few others present.

Facts being ignored

The live telecast of the hearings of the Presidential Commission on GTV from the Accra Sports Stadium has given Ghanaians the opportunity of seeing to their amazement the high level of comfort enjoyed by all the over 600 supporters in terms of food, accommodation and transportation.

It is true that there was a problem with an aspect of transportation which had to do with flying the supporters to watch some of the matches. But if we are to have a sensible discussion about that, nobody can blame the former minister directly for that failure. He told the Commission that as the minister at the time, he accepts responsibility but cannot accept blame for others’ inability to deliver specific jobs assigned them. Now, the facts are out. So far, most of these allegations made against Hon. Afriye-Ankrah have been proven to be total fabrications by people whose aim is to ‘finish’ him once and for all by spreading such absolute falsehoods about him.

Pictorial evidence adduced at the Commission by Hon. Elvis-Ankrah showed an accommodation facility in Natal that had the capacity of housing 1,000 people, and the high standard quality food that all these supporters were fed with twice a day.

Those of us who are interested in the truth also saw video footages at the Commission showing interviews conducted by GTV in Brazil with personalities like Hon. Woyome, who is Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Sports and Deputy Ranking Member, Hon. Agambilla, an NPP Member of Parliament rebutting all the false claims. Apparently, on hearing all the bad news from Brazil, the two MPs from the Sports Committee in Parliament decided to go and see for themselves what exactly was happening and found out that all the stories were big fat lies.

It has also emerged that Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah left four million, four hundred and forty-four thousand, fifty-three dollars and fifty nine cents ($4, 444, 053.59), out of $8,918,945.06 being the actual amount received from government for the upkeep of the Black Stars in Brazil, in the ministry’s coffers at the time he left that office.

The records show that this was the balance of the actual amount of $8,918,945.06 received from government for the World Cup.

Government had released into MoYS coffers a total amount of $9,417,024.87 in Ghana cedi equivalent but that reduced to $8,918,945.06 due to exchange loss of $404,841.94 plus bank charges of $93,237.87 which add up to $498,079.81. This clears a misconception that the minister had “squandered” all the $9 million released by government. It also means that the former Youth & Sports Minister’s cannot be held to account for $4, 444, 053.59 of the $9,417,024.87.

The big question is, why are people still hanging on to the lies even after these lies have been amply proven as such?

We shall be back.