When last week, I headed my piece Pull Africa out of World Cups, I suspect some didn’t take the trouble to read through. On the surface of it, they supposed me to mean that Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia should be dragged back home from Russia ‘18. Some gave me all the bashing on social media I probably did not deserve. A few praised the article as well written. I am neither interested in parrying the attacks nor in swimming in the praises. Even if I meant that our current reps should be pulled out of the current Copa Mundial de la FIFA, I’d still not trumpet that I have been vindicated by the fact that all – or almost all our teams – have flunked in Russia to once again embarrass every one of us African football people.
Last week, what I actually meant – and what I still stand by – is that we should suspend going into future world cups with the shabby preparations we have entered the steep competition with in overwhelming most of our appearances. I said world cups! I didn’t say or mean this particular one underway. If you cared to read the piece, you’d reckon I had gone to some pains to elucidate what I opined are some of the measures needed to upgrade Ghana soccer, West African football and the continental game. I take the bashing in my strides; I acknowledge the praises but refuse to be swollen-headed. I appeal to those that couldn’t read through to find time to finish the reading for full comprehension. I was asking my fellow Ghanaians and Africans to stop going to battle unprepared: that is a recipe for suicide.
We have a fundamental problem in this country. It relates to depth of understanding of issues. Virtually all of us are guilty of delving shallow into issues, concepts and policies. Our politicians and government appointees are worst offenders. I put it out for my opinion that it is the reason most of our policies look splendid on the outlook, but we are found wanting invariably at the implementation stage. I say, it is because we lack detail; because we are wont to treat every issue superficially and move to new topics, that we fail markedly to deal with the issues – even though we spend so much time and money on them. Pick automobile accidents and you realise that we fail to reduce them, in spite of wailing over them, setting up committees over them and resourcing the committees to the hilt. If you take health, we would move from ‘cash-and-carry’ to cross-subsidization under National Health Insurance Scheme and – just as you are heaving a sigh of relief – you begin to realise, much to your chagrin that NHIS is simply not working.
You are told that Professor Ernest Dumor is the right person to execute the National Identification Project and you look at the pedigree of the man and you clap. He fails; or the registration fails under him. You dump him for Dr. William Ahadzi and the people are reassured. Ibidem: another failure. Enter Dr. Josiah Alfred Mills Cobbah and you suppose never again will Ghana fail. She does! Then you begin to wonder whether the feasibilities have always been right. You wonder whether feasibility is done in each case at all. Then you are brought the distinguished international lawyer and teacher, Professor Kenneth Attefuah and, soon, you realise from the way datelines are shifted; the way boycotts are greeting the exercise that this one too may be heading for stillbirth. With the probable exception of Rwanda, Ethiopia and less than a handful others, all the 54 African states have been gyrating in similar circuses in their attempts to implement turnkey programmes and projects.
The answer for Ghana and Africa’s problems is one and simple: dedication. We should dedicate our efforts to implementation, once we say we are tackling a problem. Let us take one typical issue that is of huge importance to every single African nation: CORRUPTION. To root out corruption or tame the canker at harmless levels, we need to dedicate ourselves to the eradication process. If we prune corruption, it will stubbornly sprout myriads of offshoots to overwhelm us. We better uproot the canker anywhere it rears its beautiful head. Today, we’re at a crossroads we least expected to find ourselves at. We are tempted to believe Anas Aremeyaw Anas over Kennedy Ohene Agyapong. We are enticed to nail Anas and idolize Agyapong as the ultimate anti-corruption hero. We tend to oversimplify things. It is black or white; true or false; NPP or NDC; Kotoko or Hearts (especially in the past). A ‘you are either for me or against me’ creed.
In real life, at times the truth lies between yes and no. At times, it is neither exactly yes nor exactly no. At times, you are right and I am right but we are both equally wrong. Detail. Paying attention to detail so to decipher the succinct truths from the maze of claims and counterclaims is a task we must pursue. Anas says ex-FA chief Kwesi Nyantakyi is a fraudster and a nation wrecker. Agyapong says Anas has no moral or legal right to police Nyantakyi or anybody for that matter, because he – Anas himself – is an extortionist, blackmailer and corrupt person who should have long been behind bars. All of us have made various comments, even jumped to premature conclusions over the last one month since #12 was dropped by Aremeyaw’s Tiger Eye PI. But, aren’t we heading for the usual missed opportunity syndrome? We sure are.
What we should do; what our investigators should do is get both Tiger Eye’s number 12 and Ken City’s Who Watches the Watchman? They must pore over them meticulously. They must treat the investigations without fear or favour. They must prosecute Nyantakyi and all others named in #12, if legally and honestly there is justification so to do. Our judges must be up to the task, instead of falling to the temptation of bribes of goats, waakye, yams, cash and sex orgies. Same must go for Anas and his Tiger Eye Team members as well as assigns – once they are found culpable. Look, I am adding that, even if the Anas documentary is credible and actionable but the Agyapong counter-expose’ is also credible; prosecute culprits from opposing sides. Let not the Attorney General come out to say “we are not interested in prosecuting A, but will proceed with dealing with B…” Government is supposed to be working for the people to whom they must account; not doing what members are interested.
Of course, if Tiger Eye and Anas have lived above board in this and previous investigations, we need to extol their virtue and give them all the support we can marshal; if not for anything, to at least encourage the many toddlers who have begun wearing bead masks trying to emulate the mysterious investigator. I keep saying that we are at a crossroads. If you like, at the crossroads, we stand on quicksand. Let’s slip and what a might fall the collapse of this only country we have will be! The only way we can sustain the tedious fight against corruption is to strengthen the ubiquitous Anas institution, or, to scare the Ghanaian that all – including even the watchman – is being watched with not just eagle eyes but owl eyes as well.
I think I have read elsewhere that Alamisi Amidu says his office is not interested in prosecuting offences that might be teased out from #12, or, they don’t fall within his purview. If that is right, it is a painful irony: fact is, the Office of Special Prosecutor is one of the very few institutions the ordinary Ghanaian feels safe to repose confidence in. In any case, this is a task we shouldn’t fail at. Let the Attorney General attend to the Anas-Agyapong tussle with seriousness and dedication rare or even unknown in this country.
Let this fight also be lost like the fight against filth, floods, okada, auto crashes, churning out of illiterate graduates, bloating of the electoral roll, NIA registration failure, missing a 5th Africa Cup, repeated indiscipline of our players and officials at the world cups; and we will realise how fatal our fall is! I pray we don’t get there. Good luck, Ghana; good luck, Africa well!!
…with A. C. Ohene (firstname.lastname@example.org)