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Opinions of Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Columnist: Ababio, Kwadzo

Lessons for NDC & Ghana from the world cup

-- The Political Change

The World Cup is over. It was brutally fought. There were some very exciting matches, such as Ghana's draw against Germany, and many boring matches, some of which had to go to penalties for a winner to emerge. That Ghana almost beat Germany and Germany struggled hard against Argentina to win, gives us all a clue as to how close Ghana itself was to the semi-finals and the finals. Above all, the Germans showed that determination, team work, organisation, planning and perseverance can lead to success.

With current happenings in Ghana where the ruling NDC only parade mediocre and very embarrassing appointees, there are many lessons Ghana can learn and may have learnt from the World Cup tournament. Some involve the GFA and its relationship to Government. Others have to do with the Coach's effective oversight of players. Yet other dimensions involve ensuring discipline and harmony amongst players and respect for the coach and his authority. Other lessons have led to the re-assignment of the Sports Minister and his Deputy and Minister Afriyie Ankrah's cry out on Ghanaian radio stations as to how he has failed his country, his government and his President. He has blamed tour operators and travel agencies for the problems endured by Ghanaian fans, some of whom are allegedly seeking asylum in Brazil using the phantom excuse of religious bigotry and in-fighting in Ghana. The Brazilian Embassy in Ghana can, of course, attest to this ridiculous claim. The airfreight of US $3 million cash to our near-striking Black Star players belong to a separate chapter of football history on its own. Yes, there are many lessons to be learnt from the Brazil World Cup.

As an ardent political observer, the one lesson I have retained from the matches in Brazil is the total collapse of the Brazilian team, once their top striker and team captain were taken out of the game by an injury and multiple yellow cards. With these two players in the team, no one would have had any notion that Brazil's team was so vulnerable. They played against other teams with energy, determination, samba fluency, dribbling skills and some good shots at goal mouth. Once these two players were out of the team, the once invincible team became a shadow of themselves. It reminded me of the 80:20 rule in business and employee productivity. It is said that in many organisations, only 20% of the staff do 80% of the productive work, while the other 80% do only about 20% of the work. Is it possible that unknown to most spectators and observers, Neymar Jr. and Thiago Silva were doing 80% of the work, and when they were removed, the team could only live up to the 20%, leading to a 7-1 drubbing by Germany and a 3-0 crash against the Dutch.

Currently in Ghana, the NDC government is believed by many commentators and ordinary citizens to be down by about 7-1 in terms of performance and delivery. The 7 goals scored against the government are in the areas of: power cuts/dumso, fuel shortage, water shortage, rapid cedi depreciation, high and rising debt ceiling, arrears to contractors and government agencies, high unemployment. The only one area that the government may be scoring goals, but which the population say they cannot see, is in providing various infrastructure projects around the country, for which the Deputy Information Minister, Ofosu-Kwakye gave a long list recently. But "Na infrastructure we go eat?" the average Ghanaian would ask. So with Government down 7-1, those of us in NDC ask ourselves are there some Neymars and Thiago Silvas that should be in the NDC team but are absent, hence these sad results? Keen NDC observers have felt for some time that President Mahama has chosen some wrong people for very important and sensitive positions around him, while side-lining others or not making best use of them. Our minds recall such names as Alban Bagbin, Cletus Avoka, Martin Amidu, until she formed her own funny party Nana Konadu Rawlings, Dr Yaw Akoto, Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Dan Abodapki, Kwabena Duffuor, Totobi Quakyi. Of course, not everyone on such a list is a Neymar, but at least such lists give NDC faithful a flavour of some of the people who could be assisting the President if things were different. Every reader can choose his own Neymar from this list, as in every stadium every player has his fans. But all in all, the eminent collapse of the NDC government, just as the Brazilian team could only be averted if President Mahama restructures his government with the above mentioned NDC party stalwarts.

My simple point is that the World Cup has taught Ghana many lessons. The ones about US$3 million cash, player quarrels and Ministerial incompetence have been highlighted. Committees of Enquiry will reportedly look into some of these aspects. What Ghanaians do not seem to have focused on so far is how a very good team could become useless if just two or three key players are absent, and even some good ones are playing in the wrong positions. That is what I think is the main problem with the Mahama government, and the sooner Mr. President can sit up and take action without fear or favour, the more likely that the President and NDC might just be able to redeem themselves before the 2016 election and the electorate forgive them for the first two years of untold hardships and inconvenience. The President should not take comfort in the reported comment from Alex Segbefia that Prof Mills and John Mahama are both cautious and slow Presidents and that this is good. We disagree. It is possible for a President to assemble very quickly all information he needs about any subject, so he can take quick decisions, rather than be lethargic in decision-making because it means one is thinking and pondering. Many people voted for John Mahama because his campaign team reminded us that he has a been a Deputy Minister, Cabinet Minister, Ghana MP, ECOWAS MP and African Parliament MP, as well as Vice President and Ag President. If a man who has held all these positions before becoming President has to take a long time to take any decisions, as recommended by Sebgefia, then what could Rawlings and Kuffuor have done who had not such preparation?

Mr. President, please act more swiftly on the many economic and governance dragons encircling you in office. Find the Neymars and Silvas within the NDC that you have not appointed, and bring them into your inner circle very quickly. Or else, keep acting slowly, get worse results, accept your failure and make room for someone else in NDC, so the whole Party does not have to go down in flames with you in 2016.

Kwadzo Ababio BA Email: