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Opinions of Sunday, 17 June 2018

Columnist: Alex Blege

Great leaders walk off the stage when the applause is loudest

After former Ghana Football Association (GFA) President, Kwesi Nyantakyi was released from police custody last month, he made this remark: “This is bad publicity for me. I would have wished to be in the media for winning a trophy for Ghana and not having to deal with the police on a matter like this.”

How are the mighty humbled? But, as it is said of stage performers: “bow out when the applause is loudest”. Kwesi Nyantakyi didn’t see this coming like he saw the raid of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in 2010.

So is the world. No condition is permanent. After beating Ade Coker and Kojo Bonsu in the presidential elections of the Ghana Football Association, as well as standing unopposed in subsequent presidential elections, Kwesi Nyantakyi rose to the top of Confederation of African Football (CAF), the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA, translated from French to English) and the West African Football Union (WAFU), Zone B.

However, there was one victory that the former GFA President couldn’t win – the victory over himself. Harry S. Truman 33rd President of the United States once noted: “in reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves”. The inability to have bowed out when the applause was loudest was Kwesi Nyantakyi’s Achilles heel.



Most activities of the GFA under his tenure were shrouded in secrecy. In every society where activities are shrouded in secrecy, there’s a high perception of corruption among the populace. Conjecture and rumour reign supreme in such an atmosphere and this was what the former GFA President brought upon himself and consequently his fall. The former GFA President became untouchable to the extent that a minister who was convinced that there was rot in the FA rather courted the anger and the disenchantment of the public. The public felt that the minister in question was throwing spanners into the works of the FA.

Without mincing words, Kwesi Nyantakyi ran and headed an oligarchy. And at no point in history has any oligarchy lasted in perpetuity – it has always fallen one way or the other.

True leaders are those who make way for others while they keep climbing higher. Any leader who does not make way for others to take over from him while he or she keeps grabbing leadership positions from all angles risks falling with time. After all the juicy positions at the sub-regional, continental and global level, it was rumoured that Kwesi Nyantakyi was preparing to run for another term in the coming GFA Presidential elections. Kwesi Nyantakyi probably forgot the old saying, he who grasps all, loses all.

There is one thing that characterizes long stay in power. The power then corrupts since the long stay in power gives the leader an impression of invincibility. And when any leader entertains a high sense of invincibility, it leads to one thing – a heavy fall.

All said and done, it is important that all leaders at all levels bear this in mind: give yourself a target to achieve and when you have achieved, get out of the system. For leaders who have walked off the stage while the applause was loudest have never had the unpleasant experience of courting bad publicity; but, they’re regarded as heroes whose records become a point of reference for others to work on and improve upon.