A risk too expensive for presidential aspirants
Contrary to expectations, the historic Ghana Football Association (GFA) Extraordinary Congress climaxed on a reconciliatory note at the Conference Hall of the plush College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra to the disappointment of the naysayers.
Tension had heightened due to some unpalatable events which heralded the epoch-making congress, the first of its kind in 14 years, but the level of maturity displayed by the president of the Normalisation Committee (NC), Dr Kofi Amoah, and his team on one hand, and the congressmen on the other, made all the difference.
At the end of the day, all the 'warring' factions ceased fire in the supreme interest of Ghana Football, resulting in a harmonious climax to a seemingly rancorous assembly which ended earlier than anticipated.
In a matter of about four hours, the process of amendment and adoption of the new GFA Statutes drafted by the NC was over, to the satisfaction of all. Indeed, I was really moved by the spontaneous gesture by the delegates to take a group photograph with the three NC members and FIFA observers, Luca Nicola and Solomon Mudege, to mark a new era for Ghana Football.
At a point during the heated debate, it dawned on the football people that jaw-jaw was still better than war-war; and that was the turning point. Having called the bluff of Luca Nicola, the delegates then took their destiny into their own hands as they came together to chart a common path.
Of course, the narration cannot be complete without mentioning the great role played by the smart female lawyer on the NC, Naa Odofoley Nortey. She made the job easier by incorporating suggestions from the football people in NC's original draft before congress, thus easing the task of the delegates.
As I witnessed proceedings from close range, alongside former GFA chairmen Nana Sam Brew-Butler (Mr Thick Skin) and Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, who triggered the last reforms in 2005, and FIFA Disciplinary Committee chairman, Justice Anin Yeboah (Supreme Court Judge), it dawned on me that football people needed the same approach to get the best out of the upcoming elections.
Having come this far, a lot will be expected by Ghanaians after the post-NC era, hence they cannot afford to disappoint. And that will largely depend on the competence of the new president and the Executive Council.
The composition of the new Executive Council, whether they will comprise 12 or 15 members, will be vital in the next phase of Ghana Football. Whether the ills of the past can be nipped in the bud or not will be their main responsibility.
And that can only be done by ensuring that only the best brains, other than yes men, are elected to serve on the apex body. Left to me alone, this should not be an election where delegates should allow anybody to buy their conscience with money. It should be a contest of ideas (not mere rhetorics) that can improve upon the legacy of former president Kwesi Nyantakyi.
Love him or loathe him, Nyantakyi changed the face of Ghana Football, especially in his first five-year term, until some scavengers jumped in to help change the course of history. If the man was as bad as we were made to believe, how could he rise to become a CAF Vice President and FIFA Executive Council member?
Fact is, we don't just need another president to fill a vacuum but somebody who is more intelligent than Nyantakyi and can appeal to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the supreme interest of Ghana Football. We need achievers with a track record in the game, not just mere talkers and rabble-rousers who have nothing to show for their big talk.
Surely, a rabble rouser will not help the already-dented image of the GFA. A unifier and a charismatic leader will do Ghana Football a lot of good. I see one such personality among the candidates who have so far declared their intention to contest for the presidency. I promise to point that person out during my assessment of each candidate in the coming weeks.
However, let me state that Ghana Football is blessed with some great soccer brains and some emerging ones who can take our game to places if only we can eschew greed and selfishness, which often take the better part of our leaders.
The likes of Randy Abbey, Kweku Eyiah, J.F. Mensah, Fred Pappoe, Kudjoe Fianoo, Wilfred Kweku Osei (Parma), Kurt Okraku, Jones Alhassan-Abu, George Afriyie, and upcoming ones such as Frederick Acheampong and Charles Kwadwo Ntim (Micky Charles) are a force to reckon with. But the truth is that not all of them are presidential materials!
Some can be good vice presidents, while others will fit the bill as Executive Council members. Not everybody can lead!
This is where I wish to caution all the presidential aspirants to have a serious rethink and do some proper consultation since they risk missing the chance to serve on the Executive Council if they lose the presidential election. If what we are hearing is true, then it means this year's elections will begin from the bottom to the top unlike previously where the president was elected first.
In that case, it will be unwise for any candidate who is not too sure about his chances to win the presidential slot, to skip the Premier League and Division One League elections. That could be suicidal and might sideline any such candidate for the next four years.
As it stands now, a 12-member Council has five and three slots for Premiership and Division One League clubs respectively. I leave the choice for the candidates.
A word to the wise is enough!