Opinions Thu, 7 Jun 2018

The GFA officials who take bribes and say 'God richly bless you'

The largest court in Ghana, the court of public opinion, sat in 1,600 seats inside the Accra International Conference Center ready to handle down sentences on GFA officials indicted for corruption and bribery.

The Supreme court is high but it is not supreme to this court of public opinion where perception is not a criminal offence and is as binding as the chains holding down dark angels for Armaggedon.

The 'judges' were well ahead of schedule arriving in the morning for the first premier billed to start at 3pm. Some had tickets showing their time as 5pm and 7pm but felt sticking to time is for the west, sticking to anything else is for Africans.

And so in a classical 'first shall be the last and the last shall be the first", those with tickets showing 10pm gained entry while those with 3pm were locked out like the five 'unstrategic' virgins in the Bible.

Masses were stranded outside and pressed behind the wooden door leaving security sweating profusely in the heat and shouting futile 'go-backs'. Some responded that if anyone must go back, it must be Kwesi Nyantakyi who must go back to his hometown in Wa. And so they pressed.

There was such a desperation to get in that some felt you have need some form of bribery at the gate to go and watch bribery in the auditorium.

The clouds became curious and so frowned, the crowd become serious and frank at the security apparatus' insistence on patience.

Heavy rains tested the eagerness of ticket-holders to persist to watch the screening as they waited for their rescheduled turn at 5pm.

But rains could not dull their desire or douse their determination as Anas' latest investigative documentary gained something of the status that kitchen stool porn video.

Women dressed to kill, cared less for their hair, some who would barely talk to strangers were sandwiched in strange positions between the hard front elevation of men as the push and pull began to prove a little too convenient for some guys.

If the security had allowed some of those packed at the forecourt to enter the corridors of the conference centre, it would have eased the pressure on them and allowed them to discipline the crowd but...

After the clock turned past 5pm, the crowd of 'angry judges' judged the security and in one last and mighty push, broke the door to the conference centre.

Characteristic of Anas's public screenings, a national anthem would proceed to inspire some feeling of patriotism before the watching of unpatriotic actions of football officials.

Ghana did not qualify for the World Cup to cheer the Black Stars. But in this is 'World Cup' we could jeer at GFA officials taking bribes and oh yes - goats, cooking oil and rice.

In all, about 70 referees were caught on camera collecting bribes to fix matches, a saga that made importing referees for the Ghana Premier League, a fresh wisdom and a perfectly sane idea.

One female referee directed that her bribe be put into a black polythene bag because "the human mind is bad".

Another referee gave the vote of thanks on behalf of his colleagues in a room after they had collected their share. A refrain from these officials after taking 700 cedis, 300cedis, 1,200 cedis and 1,500 cedis was "God bless you" and "I pray you succeed'.

They used the name of God like He was a lie and at best a blind, deaf and toothless potentate plastered in the sky and chained in the dry chains of history never to resurface one day the present.

A referee told the Tiger Eye PI team, "I believe no one has recorded what I said" and the audience burst into a very knowing laughter 'oh yes, you have'.

A top official at the National Sports Authority looked left and then right like an obedient citizen crossing the traffic light and took a 4,000 cedi bribe.

But he did not look up to watch the Akufo-Addo picture hanging behind him smiling at him with a knowing look that said 'busted'. God did not restrain his conscience, Akufo-Addo stood no chance.

The audience would burst into uproarious laughter like a goal and then sit silently for long periods like a goalless game. They laughed but also pondered. One woman let off a whimper, "oh God", a disappointment as her head collapsed into her hand at the spectacle of female referees taking bribes in a show of gender equality.

We saw it, we like it, it made us sad.

To save us from losing hope, Tiger Eye showed two GFA officials, an executive member and a match commissioner who refused to be bought and these two scenes sparked a loud donation of applause by the audience craving for one good example as God craves for one righteous Job.

Kwesi Nyantakyi. Kwesi Nkyantakyi. Kwesi Nyantakyi. His defenders may use the dim torchlights of the law to find a way out, but this court of public opinion will use the bright sunlight of its moral conscience to hear this case.

Because we frowned at what we saw in the Tiger Eye video, we could now watch the replay of that must-win Ghana-Congo World Cup qualifer in September 2017 and smile.

June 6 for this generation is the new June 4.

And after the 1hour and 49 minutes, orgy of corruption and bribery was over, the court rose stormed out of the auditorium, passing a one terabyte judgment.

And as man is generally a good judge of other people's sin and a good lawyer of his own, we have have to wait for that moment in time when heaven runs out of tape recorders and God signals that one over-enthusiatic angel to just blow the trumpet.

Columnist: Edwin Appiah