It has been confirmed that Ghana’s Presidential Jet was used to ferry $4 million cash to the Black Stars in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup, an act which subjected the country to international ridicule.
Additionally, it was revealed that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) released the $4 million cash on June 21, 2014, which was a Saturday, against the central bank’s own working rules.
When news broke about the manner in which the money was sent to the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, where the Black Stars were due to face Christiano Ronaldo-led Portugal, the government insisted it was about $3 million they transported; but the Justice Senyo Dzamefe Commission report has established it was indeed $4 million.
In the final report of the Commission which investigated what led to Ghana’s worst-ever performance at a World Cup, the three-member panel said it was President John Mahama who personally ordered the lifting of the cash following the players’ revolt over their appearance fees.
The report said the President felt it was becoming an ’embarrassment’ to the country and he had to make the order for the cash to be flown.
‘On Saturday, June 21, 2014, a total amount of $4m was paid by Bank of Ghana to the Ministry of Youth and Sports agent in the presence of the Chief Director, Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu, Chief Accountant, Mr Prosper Apasu and an official of National Security.’
The report said the $4m was to be lifted upon withdrawal from the central bank, but there were challenges with respect to flight arrangements and it persisted till Monday, June 23, 2014, even though Ghana was scheduled to play Portugal on June 26, 2014.
‘The President of the Republic had no choice but to release the Presidential Jet to lift $4 million cash so as to make sure the players received the money before the Portugal match,’ the report said.
According to the report, documents tendered during in-camera hearings with the Ministry of Youth and Sports showed that an amount of $3,877,500 was disbursed, leaving an outstanding balance of $122,500 in the custody of the ministry.
The report said the ministry’s officials should be made to account for the outstanding balance of $122,500.
All along, the NDC government created the impression that the amount lifted to Brazil was less than $4 million and the jet used was never mentioned, with speculations that it was a chartered flight.
President Mahama, after the incident, was quoted by Bloomberg, a reputable global business and finance news outlet, as saying that flying $3 million to the team was ‘necessary’.
According to Bloomberg, President Mahama, whose government relied on the central bank to pay its bills last quarter, had sent the jet with more than $3 million to Brasilia to prevent a possible boycott of the game against Portugal.
‘I believe valuable lessons were learned by all,’ President Mahama said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News.
‘There was a problem with the initial mode of transportation for the payment and so we made other arrangements that, while unconventional, were necessary.’
The Black Stars’ behaviour off the field overshadowed Ghana’s three games in Brazil.
Defender John Boye was seen kissing a stack of money in a hotel after it arrived by armed escort, according to Rio de Janeiro-based Globo TV.
Boye scored an own-goal in the game against Portugal as Ghana went on to lose 2-1.
The Dzamefe Commission glossed over a lot of issues and rather found space for Ghana’s technical formations, focusing on the job of the GFA and technical brains and prescribed various tactical formations such as 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1 and 4-4-2 as the recommended playing formations for the Black Stars and other national teams.
In the Executive Summary of the Report, titled ‘The Establishment of Viable Technical Directorate for the GFA – Policy Recommendation’, the Commission stated that ‘tactics must be flexible in application emanating from the principles of defensive and attacking play, adhering to discipline which is the hallmark of modern football (system, formational play, tactics, etc.). This surely should run through the training programmes from the grassroots to the senior levels. Emphasis must be on the growth to excellence from the unknown. The formation within the brand was recommended as 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-1-4-1’.
The Commission also went on to order the GFA to start graduating players from the Under 10 level through the Under 12s to Under 23s.
These recommendations and the large parts of the report focused more on the GFA including petty details of its operations and structure, betraying the real purpose for which the Commission was set up, vis-Ã -vis what a large section of the Public expected the Commission to do with regard to the rot and incompetence that characterised the government’s handling of Ghana’s appearance in Brazil.
One of the two key issues which saw the setting up of the Commission was the delay of the appearance fees of the players and various broken promises on the fees, which eventually triggered chaos, leading to the emergency airlifting of the money. All the core witnesses who were in Brazil and who testified at the Commission, including then Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Ghana’s coach at the tournament, Kwasi Appiah, and the GFA president, who was also the Management Committee Chairman, identified the delay of the money as the main issue that destabilised the Black Stars camp and led to Ghana’s early elimination. But this all-important issue and testimonies in that direction have been glossed over.
Indeed the Commission’s report pays insignificant attention to this issue and fails to answer the questions on why the money delayed, why the players were given so many failed promises until chaos set in in the camp.
Even though the Commission indicates on Page 35 of its report that the Bank of Ghana transferred a total of $8,918,945.06 to the Ministry of Youth and Sports account for the purpose of, among others, settling the Appearance Fees, on May 27, 2014 (16 days before the World Cup), the Commission failed to establish why the money delayed and reached the players on 25th June, 2014 – a full month after it had been released.
The second main issue which led to the setting up of the Commission involved the mishandling of the supporters to Brazil and their accommodation and the decision by hundreds of supporters to stay in Brazil for the purposes of seeking asylum.
Interestingly, despite all the rot including the alleged fishy deals involved in their travel and the arrangements with tour operators, the poor conditions the supporters had to endure and the failure of the Ministry to even get them to the stadiums, leaving them to watch the matches on their television screens, the Commission did not make any adverse findings against a single official on these matters.
No official was recommended for sanction or investigation for this rot.
The Dzamefe Commission virtually cleared everyone who had hands in this scheme—from the then Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani through Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah to the Project Committee Members.
The Commission only recommended that Elvis Afriyie Ankrah be surcharged for not providing documents on the stay of the 4Syte TV crew and to be surcharged $5,603 for failure to provide supporting documents for feeding stranded supporters at Fortaleza.
By William Yaw Owusu
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