“As Ghanaians, we want answers as to how many public servants used State funds to go to Brazil, how much in total was spent on each supporter, how many officials government sponsored to Brazil, how much government spent on the so-called ambassadors”.
“Why the government failed to pay the appearance fees before the departure as promised, how much the government gave to each supporter for accommodation and meals per day while in Brazil and how much it cost the nation to airlift $3 million cash to Brazil”.
These were the words of then ranking Member of Parliament’s Sports Committee, Isaac Asiamah after Ghana’s disastrous World Cup in Brazil.
The once shadow sports minister had become an anti-corruption crusader, an advocate for the protection of the public purse and a public favourite for speaking of the ills of the Afriyie Ankrah-led Ministry.
It’s 2019 and Afriyie Ankrah’s name can only be found on the list of ministers to have served in that sector. Its Asiamah’s time and he has just returned home from supervising the nation’s worst AFCON since 2006.
Asiamah whose popularity soared like an eagle in the aftermath of the 2014 World Cup debacle is now facing public outcry over how he allegedly conspired with others to pull off the nation’s most expensive yet worst continental assignment in recent times.
Some of the members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are on his heels, posing the same questions he posed to them five years ago. They are not only asking him to account for the team’s budget and expenditure at the tournament but they also want him out.
“The Minister promised to win the trophy so if the team could not win it then he must be sacked. The Minister also failed to disclose the budget to Ghanaians. You were sent to play a tournament and you allegedly spent times of budget without winning it, he must go”, a statement from some elements within the NDC said.
Civil society group, Alliance Social Equity and Public Accountability have also come out to make some damming allegations against the minister and asked the president to institute a commission of enquiry to probe what they believe to be the wanton dissipation of public funds.
“Mr President we believe that these allegations cannot go uninvestigated. We honourably request for another commission of enquiry to look into Ghana’s poor campaign at the AFCON…”, the statement partly read.
His predecessor Nii Lante Vanderpuiye whose voice was not heard in 2014 has now found his voice and is milking this as much as he can. Just like Asiamah did while in opposition, he is also challenging him to feed the curiosity of Ghanaians with the exact amount spent on what he described as a “failed presidential project”.
Nii Lante is also enquiring the ‘why and how’ of Asiamah’sdecision to side-step recommendations of the DzamefeCommission and airlift supporters to Egypt.
“I don’t support sending supporters to football tournaments with the tax payer’s money. I wouldn’t have sent supporters to Egypt if I were the Sports Minister.
I would have respected the White Paper. The Sports Minister is going to use our money to send supporters on an excursion to Egypt. We have over 1000 Ghanaians living in Cairo alone so why send supporters from Ghana? If this is the man who took over from me then we have gone back”, he lamented.
In much the same way as they did in 2014, journalists across the country are asking questions about the amount of money the state spent on this year’s AFCON.
The factors that were at play in 2014 in the demand for openness and accountability have once again reunited for a similar course but are doing so without comrade Asiamah.
Asiamah now finds himself in the same seat as Afriyie Ankrahand his deafening silence keeps getting louder day after day.
By Daniel Oduro
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