Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah’s untold story; How Brazil 2014 saga nearly crippled the ex-minister

General News of Thursday, 12 March 2015

Source: Nana Ansah

Afriyie Ankrah Sports Minister

Speculations that the dreams, aspirations and political future of one of the leading firebrands of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, had hit the rocks after the Brazil 2014 World Cup fiasco was last Thursday proved wrong and misleading.

In a move to demystify the deep-seated speculations taking into account how a number of saboteurs who saw him progressing in his political career were bent on smearing him and his subsequent removal from his ministerial office to the Office of the President, the former minister declared that he is unperturbed but rather empowered to be committed to the cause of the NDC to make better the living standard of Ghanaians.

Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah, one of the gifted organizers of the NDC, said despite interpretations people might give Ghanas experience at the 2014 Mundial and his role during the period, he was traumatized about the happenings because, among others, they had dented his organizational skills.

The former minister made this known when he appeared in the studios of a Kumasi-based radio station, Ultimate radio, to grant an interview about his life in general and a recent feather in his cup as regards some family obligations he was assigned to. The NDC guru, who was once a the deputy general secretary and also a former Deputy Local Government Minister, observed that it was rather unfortunate that the Black Stars had to exit so early at the group stages of the World Cup.

According to him, organizing the huge numbers for Brazil was not too much of a work for him because what he does since at the political front was more demanding and tedious; it was just ill-fated that things had to go the way they went, adding however that the commission of inquiry set up by the president would soon lay bare the truth for the public to know what actually happened.

The Brazil experience has been a very traumatic one. I have been organizer since 2002. I have been at the forefront of political activities. I have been doing things that are bigger than the Brazil tournament, he said, noting that just recently he was part of a very successful NDC National Delegates Congress in Kumasi in which he played a key role in the organization together with Messrs Totobi Quakyi, Bede Ziedeng, Baba Jamal, Nii Djangmah Vanderpuije, among other party stalwarts. He was quick to say, We helped organize it within a week or two so why does it mean that I have suddenly lost my organizational skills? There are few questions and at the right time the whole world will get to know.

Mr Afriyie-Ankrah, who helped usher the late President John Evans Atta Mills to the Castle and President John Mahama to the Flagstaff House when he served as deputy campaign manager and national campaign coordinator respectively, said whoever is in the shoes of President Mahama would take the actions that the President took.

Put yourself in the shoes of the President; there was palpable anger and strange stories coming out some newspapers had put out pictures of him drinking Brazilian coconut that I was bought at a ridiculous prize of US$100 on their front pages and all kinds of stories being published and so there was so much frustration and anger of course I was equally not happy because it created the impression that there was some truth but at the right time the truth will emerge.

According to him, every Christian in Ghana today apart from worshipping God, worships the Black Stars and that whatever happened would affect the sensibility of every Ghanaians. The ex-minister declined to go into further details but said since he has appeared before the commission of inquiry he will await the release of the report for all Ghanaians to know the truth. Though he declined to speak further he stressed that as a leader of the team, he took ultimate responsibility of whatever happened.

The ex-minister of state at the office of the president on radio who broke his long silence over governance and many others, said truth will soon emerge. Speaking to his hosted, who is the fierce critic of the ruling government Dr Amoako Baah, Mr Ankrah, who although was pivotal in President John Dramani Mahamas campaign machinery for the 2012elections was sidelined after the Brazil fiasco, jumped to the defence of what people are describing as an already-failed government, saying that the current economic and energy crises, which have become an albatross around the neck of President Mahamas government, is not the creation of the President nor his ministers.

He, however, lauded President Mahamas efforts at solving the problems, describing them as prudent measures which are capable of transforming the fortunes of the country. Mr Ankrah is of the view that President Mahama has what it takes to resolve the problems and further called for patience as the President implements those measures.

The former minister, who was expected to rejoice over the dismissal of his former deputy, Joseph Yamin who created hue and cry over how money was transferred to players at Brazil, called on party faithful in the Ashanti Region and all Ghanaians to exercise restraint over the recent riot that took place at the partys regional office, an incident many believe is the reason for the dismissal of the Ashanti regional minister, Mr Samuel K. Sarpong, and his deputy. Decrying vociferously perceptions that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is being taken over by Northerners now, Mr Ankrah observed that President Mahama has been guided by the nation’s constitution in all the appointments he has made so far.

It would be recalled that after the World Cup exit, a number cooked stories were put into the public domain aimed at tarnishing the image of Afriyie-Ankrah. His mother was also alleged to have been supplying Black Stars replica jerseys.

It turned out that his mother who is a74-year old pensioner, lives in London and had absolutely nothing to do with the World Cup organization. She was equally shocked to hear her name being bandied around all over mainstream and social media. At this point, one wonders why such wicked lies would be told against the minister.

The answer was not far-fetched give a dog a bad name and hangs it. The agenda was to make Afriyie-Ankrah look bad to pave way for his exit from the ministry and government. Though Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah would not speak on this, his loyalists believe that since it is God who blesses mankind, he (Elvis) should not allow any amount of vilification, palpable falsehood and outright fabrications to cow him down and Gods will would prevail at all times. Another shocking cooked story which was widely circulated was the alleged bad conditions under which the Ghanaian supporters were hosted in Brazil.

The supporters were reported to have only one toilet facility at the camp and had to queue for long hours just to attend to natures call. To make this wicked falsehood look authentic, a picture was taken of supporters who were in a queue for their buffet lunch and extensively circulated as those queuing to use a toilet facility.

That was how low some people were prepared to descend just to succeed in waging a dirty media campaign against Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah. In addition, it was reported that the supporters were hungry and did not have sufficient food to eat. Again, pictorial and video evidence exhibited at the Commission, including testimonies from the supporters themselves, showed that they were fed with sumptuous meals three (3) times a day.

Another callous allegation was that the supporters had no decent accommodation in Brazil and some had to sleep on the bare floor. In fact, not only did the supporters have a decent place to camp; the camp facility could house up to one thousand (1,000) people comfortably so it was not a problem at all to host all the six hundred and ninety-six (696) core supporters there.

The supporters camp had adequate facilities including a spacious dining hall, with a large swimming pool, all kinds of modern indoor games and other recreational facilities.

That notwithstanding, the supporters stayed in air-conditioned rooms with decent toilet facilities and no supporter cleaned his/her room since there were enough cleaners to change sheets and keep the rooms clean. Also, there were fully air-conditioned, luxurious buses at the disposal of the supporters who wanted to go shopping or sight-seeing. Indeed, the camp was a home away from home for the supporters.