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Opinions of Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Columnist: Listowell Acquaye

Anas’ number 12 expose’: A blessing or curse?

“A discourse for the discerning patriot…”

Apart from Church and doing some personal soul searching with solemn music on a weekend, nothing arrests my attention more than watching or discussing football. I love the game of football not because it is a popular sport. I admire the game because it feeds the wells of my organizational skills with more tactical approaches. In my most wildest of moods during a football game, I sometimes feel like a student in class taking lecture notes.

As a young journalist with a wild dream of becoming a best-selling writer someday, I have tried to make the articles/write-ups of others my business.

I try as much as I could to read anything and everything that grabs my attention or triggers my curiosity.

Most of the authors I read - trap me with their catchy headlines and the journey has been an easy going one until I arguably read the longest article on facebook by Anas Aremeyaw Anas titled; ‘OF GHANA’S SPORTING VILLAINS: THE SILENT MUSINGS OF ANAS AREMEYAW ANAS - #NUMBER12’.

The captivating write-up made me lose my senses. I even questioned my abilities and decision to becoming a writer because as a student, I was for once mocked by the skillful and tactful experience by another writer in my line of trade. Honestly, I was swept off my feet like a virgin that has fallen in love for the first time in a Mexican soap but with fears.

For the first time, the reality concerning the administrative under dealings (corruption) of football dawned on me. I immediately had a flashback of CIA officials packing files in one FIFA office to investigate some alleged corrupt officials after Russia won the bidding to host the 2018 World Cup.

In some few minutes, I was dumbfounded – thoughts in my head echoed some popular names and soldiers we have lost in the name of the game. I remember some served with their hearts but died paupers with others becoming beggars after sustaining deadly injuries that marred their promising carriers just as Anas Aremeyaw Anas revealed in his article.

Again, Ghana’s omission in the 2018 World Cup at Russia all of a sudden became questionable in my thoughts as if I’m being controlled by some spell from Anas’ #Number12 article.

Thereafter, the popular adage: ‘There’s No Smoke without Fire’ started ringing a bell. I began to reflect and analyze my submissions on some corruption allegations and public backlash meted against the GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi in the past.

How I discredited a lot of individuals that hit the media with captivating headlines that could bring the name of Ghana’s no.1 football Knight in shining armour(Kwesi Nyantakyi) into disrepute. Well, what else do I know?
To say the least, I had always credited our world cup qualifiers (2000s) to the key administrative efforts of the Ghana Football Asssociation being led by Kwesi Nyantakyi. I still do anyway until Anas’ #Number12 teaches me otherwise.

However, the one thought that has lingered in my mind for weeks without rest is news of Anas’ #Number12 Expose’ that is reported to have captured corrupt activities by some reputable football administrative officials who have played the devil’s advocate for years in making sure Ghana’s arguably most popular sport(football) do not meet standards with her Global counterparts.

What baffles my mind is the fact the same individual that has suffered accusations for years as President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi is alleged to be the “big fish” to look out for in this expose’.

Is it true that “There’s No Smoke without Fire”, I guess #Number12 has a lot to tell us?

Typical Reactionary Tradition

A fraction of Ghanaians generally have a penchant for ranting on pertinent issues that bother on security, healthcare and corruption and at all times one would admit there’s always a divided opinion due to the rate at which the issue would be politicized.

I am still young but old enough to know how Ghanaians react to issues that trend till it is watered down to nothing. Thanks to some serial callers who wants to be heard on all issues even when they are not on top of the issues at hand.

Sometimes government or agencies that need to take pragmatic steps to bring change to such issues watch the flame die a natural death. What has happened to the several corruption expose’ from Anas Aremeyaw Anas concerning some public agencies?

Worst case scenario is these issues would have themes and phrases that end up as products in our markets, dance moves or jargons in some music compositions. An example is how foreign media timelines once reported that Al Qaeda(notorious terrorist group) is a popular dance song in Ghana. Are we not amazing?

Majority of the Morning Breakfast shows on mainstream television and radio stations serve the populace with the aforementioned menu. You would be amazed at the entrenched positions some citizens take to defend, attack or trivialize issues that need to be given critical attention. This is my Ghana!

I have witnessed the Ghanaian way of reacting to issues where there is no fact checking but heated arguments based on hearsays where panelists conjecture to assume what the situation is and draw quick conclusions. Maybe we joke too much, don’t we?

Court of Public Opinion

Guggisberg Avenue(Mamprobi) is the name of the street where one of my favourite food joints(Esther’s kitchen) can be located. Watching the colourful game of football there sometimes is the best feeling of delight one can have. The youthful exuberance exhibited here is out of my lexicon description of an experience. Honestly, it makes me feel younger than my age.

I’m mostly blown away by diverse views and submissions from discussions and heated arguments that allow some fanatics to exhibit or share rich football knowledge of some sportsmen and their trajectory in the history of the game.

The amazing part is how a fraction of the viewers at the joint have their phones logged on to several sports websites and the popular Google search engine as standby to authenticate claims by debaters during a EPL Matchday “Derby”, La Liga’s “El classico” or a clash of two giant international football nations.

At this joint your social class do not matter, your knowledge in the game and issues concerning the game would serve you a seat at the table of men. It’s an interesting sight to behold but Anas’ #Number12 expose’ on the game did not trigger the attention I assumed for it.

Exactly a day after the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo ordered for an investigation into the corruption scandal against Kwesi Nyantakyi concerning some alleged pronouncements he made in Anas’ #Number12 expose’, social media went ablaze.

As usual the Ghanaian trend of dialogue on social media did not change with this issue, there were many memes and cartoons creating humour out of the issue whilst the politically minded also clashed blaming political parties and their governments for the rot that has jeopardized the future of youth interested in the sports and reasons Ghana is not competing in the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia.

Reading comments on social media is sometimes tantamount to becoming an audience of a comic theatre. I love to join the unofficial comment and post readers association on social media to weigh the views of the majority on issues. I do my little fact checking before adding my voice where needed.

Though the youth that turn up in numbers at the popular food joint(Esther’s Kitchen) in the beautiful Mamprobi Community always treat issues of such magnitude with much attention and passion, News of Anas’#Number12 expose’ on the issue did not get the traffic I presumed.

Most of the individuals that turned up at the joint had very little to say about the issue because they felt Kwesi Nyantakyi is too big a figure for Anas Aremeyaw Anas to wrap his investigative lens around. I sensed fear, caution and inferiority complex in the demeanor of many. Truth be told, I realized Kwesi Nyantakyi is indeed a powerful man to say the least. But can I judge him to be corrupt due to this?

Sad Bitter Truth

I was interrupted from my daily addictive distractions by the notification beeps from twitter concerning Anas’ #Number12 expose’. After surfing the internet to feed my curiosity with all that needs to be read on the issue, I felt sad at how the incident was handled by some well meaning politicians in this country.

I even read an open letter, several facebook posts and comments, tweets and viral whatsapp messages that were all centered on the issue at hand. Some felt the issue does not merit the entire focus of government whilst others felt government is applying the double standard rule, but what at all do I know?

Borrowing the words of British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Lord Acton; “Power tends to Corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If Lord Acton was right in making that observation that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases.

Couldn’t the observation of Lord Acton be the case in the issue of corruption concerning the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi? Maybe after remaining President for 12years in a row, the spirit of morality has lessened to its barest minimum.

But how come he always wins the Presidency elections to remain in office? Have you thought about the fact that he still works with a team of football administrators? Even after the President of the country, Nana Akufo-Addo ordered for him to be investigated, some of his subordinates at the GFA maintained Kwesi Nyantakyi remains their President. Have you asked why?
Do you really think that the alleged corruption scandal against Kwesi Nyantakyi involves only him?

Would you sit in the comfort of your home and office to conjecture that the man is indeed corrupt without taking note of the channels and other individuals that make the alleged corruption scandals possible?

I followed some tweets from well meaning Ghanaians that alleged numerous individuals on television that form part of panelists on sports discussion shows had been on Kwesi Nyantakyi’s payroll, but are vilifying him on television because of Anas’ #Number12 expose’ to save themselves. Again, what do I know?

I believe before we cast the first stone of judgment at Kwesi Nyantakyi even when we haven’t seen the full expose’ of Anas’ #Number12, we should still consider that “There is No Smoke Without Fire”!

Even Anas Aremeyaw Anas gave reasons in his facebook article for embarking on the #Number12 expose’. Therefore, I believe the number one alleged suspect (Kwesi Nyantakyi) also deserves a fair hearing on the issue at stake, or am I wrong on that view?

Wouldn’t it be expedient for us to find out how the alleged corruption scandal has lived under the noses of governments without notice until Anas made a move rather than conjecturing?

Couldn’t there be middlemen assisting the concealing processes that make the corruption deal possible?

By now every discerning Ghanaian following the issues would have been served well by the opposing tactics of Kennedy Agyepong to discredit Anas’ efforts in exposing the rot at the GFA. For him the watchman that goes after the corrupt officials holding public office also has his hand soiled by same corruption practice? What at all do I know?

He has even gone to an extent of releasing pictures he believes to be Anas’ online. His recent question about Anas is who watches the watchman? He has been trying to discredit the credibility of the investigative journalist for being corrupt and using diabolic means to expose innocent people. Any reasons why this is happening? Or still “There is no smoke without fire”?

We live in the part of the world where the rich and mighty in society can sometimes live above the law without caution and even where the law is applied, they allegedly twist the provisions to favour themselves.

Do you really think without a very detailed investigation into the matter and a court of competent jurisdiction, the alleged corruption expose’ on Kwesi Nyantakyi could bury him for good?

To be honest and realistic about the numerous corruption expose’ released so far by Anas Aremeyaw Anas on public agencies, what pragmatic steps have been taken?

Will #Number12 be treated any differently from the others?

A Blessing or Curse

How do you assess Anas’#Number12 expose’?

For once in my lifetime, I saw well meaning Ghanaians and elderly fellows who could not engage one another for 5minutes to mention the least in a discourse that affects the future of the most popular sport in Ghana, football. It was not possible for them because the issue had political strings therein and that made them treat the issue with apathy.

My mind took a swift reversal to an earlier claim that was made by a story I read online that stated that Kwesi Nyantakyi made statements like he had the Presidents of the land his pockets and all he needed to do was bribe the President $5 Million and his vice $3 Million get the referees officiating the matches sorted by giving them 20cedis and a woman which were later debunked to be untrue.

At the food joint, I felt like after all there indeed is a medication that can sedate the roaring discussion lion that lives at Esther’s kitchen. I found that reaction as a result of the political affiliation and allegiance to the party colours.

So, I began to ask the questions, that a discerning patriot would ask supposed the earlier bribery claims were true like:

What if it’s true Kwesi Nyantakyi really has had Presidents of governments in his pocket and bribes them?

What would happen if after Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ #Number12 expose’ is aired for the public, another amateur footage comes out with Presidents being captured on camera receiving and discussing the said bribes?

What if staunch political figures that have paid their dues over the years serving mother Ghana are exposed of being culpable of the corruption crimes alleged by #Number12?

Will the office of the special prosecutor move with speed to bring these individuals to book or the issue would receive the normal default reactionary approach by Ghanaians and left to die a natural death?

I believe there could be more to the claims and truth that Anas’ #Number12 expose’ would ever reveal about corruption in Ghana. Besides there have been several scandals in government concerning procurement that though received public attention did not bring anyone to book.

All efforts by patriotic citizens to protect the public purse and ensure the holistic development of mother Ghana would be a blessing if all issues are treated using the same merits and rod of judgment. Isn’t what is deserving of the goose deserving for the gander?

But where issues would be politicized and swept under the carpet to die a natural death, I see it as a curse because posterity’s judgment would definitely be clouded and not be able to do anything different what our leaders would leave for history to record.

Don’t we all deserve to be giving an excuse to air our views before we buried with alleged claims? Maybe #Number12 would be the medication to set the path to deal with the corruption canker this nation has suffered for years or maybe not pull any string but another social ranting without results.

By: Listowell Acquaye(Chosen YesuBa)

The writer of this article is a student of the African University College of Communications and the winner of the 2017 Best Student Journalist Award at the National Student’s Awards.