Press Conference By The Minority On Ghana’s Disappointing World Cup Performance In Brazil 2014.

 
INTRODUCTION
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media.
I thank you on behalf of my colleagues for responding to our invitation.
Countrymen and women, over the past few weeks the nation has witnessed very disturbing and dangerous developments in the sphere of sports and we have called you today to share a few thoughts. For a country that is going through very painful economic circumstances, one would expect that whatever decisions are taken will be driven by efficiency, economy, value for money and above all in the national interest. The rot in governance has affected all aspects of our national endeavours.Sports have not been spared.

Ghana’s shameful World cup exit in Brazil 2014 has once again exposed President John Dramani Mahama’s incompetence, mediocrity and lack of prudence in the management of affairs of this country.

As a country, we have been to the world cup on two earlier occasions and have many times successfully hosted the whole of Africa, the latest being CAN 2008, and so have the experience, the exposure and the quality human resource.

Now the major questions remain; why did we fail in Brazil 2014; our third time at the world stage? Was it as a result of greed on the part of some government officials, dishonesty, lack of transparency and accountability? Or was it a product of total disregard and respect for constituted authority? Certainly, officials who use state money for public projects and activities must account for their stewardship.

PARLIAMENT SIDELINED

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, Parliament which has a crucial role in providing financial oversight was ignored.

Invitations by the Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture to then Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah to appear before the Committee to answer questions on three different occasions were not honoured. When finally then Deputy Minister, Joseph Yamin appeared, he mentioned that an amount of GH¢24 million had been budgeted for the preparation and participation in the world cup. It is significant to note that this information was later debunked by the Minister himself in Parliament. Ladies and gentlemen, to quote the Minister as captured by the Parliamentary Debate official Report of Tuesday 17th December 2013, Vol. 84, No. 31, paragraph 3599, “On the Supporters Union, as I said, we have not quoted any figures.  

I heard some people mentioning some figures. We have not quoted any figures and today as we speak officially, we have not received the budget for the Black Stars. So any figures that are being put up are purely speculative”. So the then deputy Minister was speculating before a Committee of Parliament?  In the face of the contradictions the Ranking Member on the Youth, Sports and Culture Committee called on the Speaker to suspend the debate on their motion until they had included in their estimates the allocation for Ghana’s preparation and participationin 2014 World cup in Brazil.  The request was strangely rejected by the Speaker.  It is clear that Parliament has been kept in darkness. So right from the onset, the strategy by the then Minister was not to provide enough information.  The Speaker on the day did the bidding of the Minister and kept Parliament and hence the nation in darkness. Where there is no illumination, corruption thrives and that is the appropriate environment to create, loot and share.  As we speak today Ghanaians including Parliament are not aware of the amounts expended or set aside to cater for the Nation’s preparation and participation in Brazil 2014.

APPEARANCE FEES
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, the Government promised to pay appearance fees and other allowances into the bank accounts of the players before their departure to Brazil.  However, in due time government reneged on this pledge. What accounted for government’s failure?  Undoubtedly the failure of Government to pay the Stars as agreed obviously affected the morale and psyche of the Players.  The Black Stars Players are Ghanaians and as such are aware of the numerous promises that have not been fulfilled by this Government. Consequently, they did not have confidence that after the tournament, this Government will pay them. It is obvious therefore, that the Government contributed largely to the confusion and indiscipline that characterised the camp of the players in Brazil. We need to condemn all acts of indiscipline.  However, it is important to appreciate that respect is earned and is reciprocal. The vociferous clamour and struggle the players resorted to before their entitlements were paid them amounts to indiscipline that ensued from a betrayal of trust on the part of political leaders who promised them and failed.


THREE MILLION DOLLARS ($3M)
After threats by the players to boycott the final group match against Portugal, the Government in a “Rambo style” mobilised three million dollars ($3M) and ferried it in a chartered flight to Brazil to pay the appearance fees of the players.  This operation amounts to money laundering – an international law which forbids people to transfer such huge sum of monies from one country to another.  Does it mean government and their officials are ignorant or mere abusers of laws or did not understand the repercussions thereof or is it what they have doing all these while?  No wonder there is pervasive corruption. This is a complete embarrassment to the country and Africa.  It is scandalous and has ruined the hard earned good reputation of the country across the world.

At the time when the nation is in crisis and our international reserves and foreign balances are fast depleting and the Bank of Ghana is making strenuous efforts to stabilise the Ghana cedi, it is reckless to cause football players to hold the nation to ransom. The Bank of Ghana had issued directives to businessmen and women all about the use of hard currency.  The airlifting of the US$ 3 million in a chattered flight to football players in Brazil by self-same government which caused the issuance of those directives amounts to a disregard to the directives and the laws that had been issued to all Ghanaians including footballers, lawyers, doctors, industrialists, traders, judges, parliamentarians, farmers, et al. This is lawlessness and impunity on the part of a government which wants all other Ghanaians to obey the laws.

SUPPORTERS

Organising supporters to major tournaments by this government has been a complete disaster. It has been characterised by extreme partisanship, nepotism, favouritism, inefficiency, gross incompetence and corruption.

Just as the country was in a prayerful mood and united for the team in the run up to the tournament, then came a very divisive and needless outburst by the then Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr. Joseph Yamin that majority of the supporters that Government was sponsoring to Brazil were members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He unshamelessly boasted without equivocation that it is the NDC government’sreward to their foot soldiers for voting them into power.  This infuriated many and offended the sensibilities and emotions of Ghanaians.  The deputy Minister was unmoved.  Up till now, neither Mr. Joseph Yamin nor the NDC government has deemed it necessary to offer any apology to the people of this country who supported the Black Stars out of nationalism and not out of partisanship. Mr. Joseph Yamin and the NDC government may have to be reminded that what his so called NDC supporters need urgently are jobs and jobs.

In an answer to question number 775 posed by Hon. Simon Osei Mensah, Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe and which appeared on Tuesday, 19th June, 2012 official report of Parliament, the then Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr. Clement K. Humado, claimed to have spent $3,4m ($3,413,519.72) on accommodation and meals of supporters and officials in South Africa 2010, but supporters ended up sleeping on streets and makeshift structures as refugees. Brazil 2014 too did not spare them the ordeal they went through in South Africa. Clearly, the NDC has not learnt any lessons from the tragic events of South Africa 2010.

Again in South Africa 2010, the Government told Parliament that they bought tickets for the supporters to the tune of $456,119. 00 but they ended up watching the matches on the streets and their “refugee” camps. In Brazil 2014, once again our soccer fans watched the matches in their “classrooms” and “refugee” camps.

Another area which was characterised by gross inefficiency and incompetence is flight arrangement.

Just as it happened in the previous tournament in South Africa, most of the people transported got stranded as a result of either cash problems or poor bookings or flight arrangements. In one infamous case, a controversial so-called philanthropist claimed to have doled out $1.5m to airlift stranded supporters at the Kotoka International Airport to South Africa. It has turnout to be another matter altogether.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, Brazil 2014 has witnessed yet another bizarre flight arrangement. Most fans missed the matches they had hoped to watch. In our last group match against Portugal, over seventy (70) fans who were led by Government officials including Kojo Adu Asare, a former MP for Adenta arrived in Brazil just after the Black Stars had crashed out of the tournament. The early exit of the Black Stars and the affliction of the supporters represent the fruit of poor organisation, poor planning and a display of gross incompetence andconstitute a grotesque waste of public funds.

ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED
Country men and women, the following issues begfor answers;
1.    Was there a planning committee and what were their terms of reference?
2.    Who were the members and their backgrounds?
3.    Was there any agreement before the Ministry and the Tour Operators?  What was the nature and how was it executed?

4.    Why did government fail to pay the appearance fees before the departure as promised

5.    How many “supporters” did the Government sponsor to Brazil 2014?
6.    How much did the Government release to each supporter for accommodation and meals per day for Brazil 2014?
7.    How much in total was spent on each “supporter”?
8.    How many officials did Government sponsor to Brazil?
9.    How much was spent on each official and the total cost?
10.    How many public servants used state funds to go to Brazil?
11.    How much did it cost the nation to airlift three million dollars cash to Brazil?
12.    How much in taxes did the Ghana government pay to theBrazilian government for airlifting the $3m dollars

13.    How much did Government spend on the so called“Ambassadors”
14.    The expenditure breakdown of Government’s allocation and private sector contributions for Ghana’s preparations and participation in the 2014 world cup competition in Brazil.

15.  
PRESIDENT JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA AND HIS COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY
The President has shoved aside the then Minister of Youth and Sports and his deputy in the aftermath of the Brazil disaster and asked the GFA to set up a Committee of Enquiry to probe what went wrong.  The President should come clean with what kind of inquiry. As reported on Saturday, June 28, 2014 edition of the Daily Graphic, page 3, the President is reported to have said “He said as result of the Black stars elimination, he had asked the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to set up a committee to examine what went wrong in Brazil in order to correct the wrongs in the future.”  It must be pointed out that per the statute of the FIFA, the president has no locus or capacity to order or direct the FA to set up any committee of enquiry. Notwithstanding, the conviction of many people is that a lot of the rot emanated from the Ministry especially in the matter of the appearance fees and government’s sponsorship to supporters.  In the event, if the president wants a potent committee to delve into the pertinent issues, what is required is a Ministerial Committee of Enquiry.  For after all, the promise came from the President through the ministry. Beyond that, how long should Ghanaians trust this government with committees of enquiry as there are committees here, committees there, committees everywhere which in effect produce absolutely no results.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, even within the Ministry of Youth and sports, two years produced two different committees of inquiry at the expense of the overburdened Ghanaian tax payer which yielded no dividend to the country. It is instructive to know that the probe into the Maputo All African Games scandal in 2011 exposed managerial incompetence, institutionalised corruption and organisational rot at the National Sports Authority. To date, nothing has happened to those officialswho were named in the report in terms of prosecutions. Also the Ministerial Impact Assessment and Review Committee on Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) has also become a fiasco. It has become evident to Ghanaians that this government always hide behind the cover of committees of enquiry and squander public funds with impunity.  This clearly shows that we have a President who is indecisive, inexperienced and always play to the gallery. But this time round, whether ministers have been reshuffled or not, there must be accountability.

CONCLUSION
Ladies and Gentlemen, since Ghanaians have lost confidence in the numerous unproductive committees by the President and his Ministers, we hereby call on Parliament to as a matter of urgency come together, be on the side of generality of Ghanaians and institute a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry to look into the above issues raised and other factors that marred our preparation and participation in Brazil 2014.  We want to inform Ghanaians that a motion has been filed already to this effect. Parliament as a body charged with ensuring accountability should act expeditiously on this very important national issue. Football continues to be the passion of the nation and a unifying force of our people.  Soon we will start preparations for African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) and World cup 2018, and Ghanaians will follow with keen interest.
Never again should we allow few selfish, greedy and incompetent officials to mess up the game for the millions of Ghanaians.
Thank you.

30th June, 2014

The Speaker
Parliament of Ghana
Parliament House
Accra

Dear Rt. Hon. Speaker,

MOTION
That  this Honourable House sets up a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry to investigate events and activities before, during and after Ghana’s preparation and participation in Brazil 2014.

Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah
(MP, Atwima Mponua Constituency)

http://newpatrioticparty.org/index.php/press/110-press/our-press/670-press-conference-by-the-minority-on-ghana-s-disappointing-world-cup-performance-in-brazil-2014

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