04.02.2003 Sports News

Consulting for the Wrong Results in Sports

By Ebo Quansah
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When a presidential candidate promised to consult the founder of his party 24 hours a day, he lost the elections .

Up till now, the former Vice-President is fighting unsuccessfully to lose that consultation tag. At his vetting in Parliament, Malam Yusif Issa promised to consult. He lasted barely one month at the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It looks like consultation in Ghana has a problem of its own.

The statement attributed to Sports Minister Edward Osei-Kwaku that he consults Enoch Teye Mensah, his predecessor at the Youth and Sports Ministry in his moments of difficulties must be a source of worry to adherents of Positive Change.

It is not as if consulting a person who previously held a portfolio being defended by the consultant is itself a bad idea. In the contest of holding on to a political office, the conventional thing to do is to learn from the predecessor.

What makes the Osei-Kwaku consultation a bit of a problem is the person who is being consulted. A lot of muddy water passed under the bridge at the Ministry of Youth and Sports when Enoch Teye Mensah was directing affairs.

Following press criticisms against the way and manner the Member of Parliament for Prampram/Ningo run the ministry, the ex-minister was always at loggerheads with leading members of the sporting press.

He took Joe Aggrey, former President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana to the Media Commission. In the case of this writer, the case landed before His Lordship Richard Apaloo. E.T. Mensah took the court action alleging that this writer had maligned him by suggesting that the contract for Additional Works on the Accra Sports Stadium had an element of conflict of interest. The contract was awarded to Arab Contractors whose local representative was Nana Sam Brew-Butler, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for CAN 2000, who led an inspection team to the Accra Sports Stadium and recommended that the job be done.

Observers of the activities of the Sports Ministry have tried unsuccessfully to unravel the mystery behind the cold attitude of the minister towards his deputy, who happens to be Joe Aggrey.

The confession to the 'Ghanaian Times' by Edward Osei-Kwaku that he regularly consults E.T. Mensah is making the picture clearer. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That is what the calculations seem to be suggesting. And that seems to be the calamity of sports promotion under Edward Osei-Kwaku.

It is a return to the days gone by when some of us were seen as enemy of the kind of revolution sprang on this country by one man and his friends.

I can now hazard a guess as to why the Sports Minister is playing a cat and mouse game with his deputy Joe Aggrey. It is a pity, to state the least.

Under E.T. Mensah, sports promotion became the reserve of those who were prepared to play ball. Some of us are not players in that kind of game.

I can also understand why Osei-Kwaku is peddling a not-so true story that the leadership of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana has never met him.

"He said," reported Times Sports "since he took over the affairs at the ministry, fourteen months ago, there has been not a single meeting between himself and the leadership of SWAG and asked SWAG to desist from making statements that has little or no facts at all." Since the publication came out on Monday, there has been no denial from the minister. The sports desk at the Ghanaian Times insists that they quoted the minister accurately. If that is so, then there is everything wrong with the submission.

As President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana, I have been to the minister's office on a number of times to express concern at the way affairs of sports are being conducted. On one occasion at least, I was in the company of Ken Bediako, Special Adviser to the SWAG President. At that meeting at which Joe Aggrey and the Chief Director at the Ministry were present, a number of issues were raised. We talked about the need for the minister to meet the entire body of SWAG, a suggestion the minister grabbed with both hands. A date was fixed for the meeting fixed over dinner at the Accra Sports Stadium hospitality centre. As President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana, I assembled the entire membership of the association and broke the news. Members took the Minister's appointment seriously and counted the days.

On the afternoon of the appointed day, I got a call from Joe Aggrey. The appointment had been cancelled on the instructions of the minister. Joe added that he learnt of the cancellation from the Public Relations Officer at the ministry, Kofi Aggrey. As the Deputy Minister, Joe Aggrey was never consulted. I got on the line to Kofi Aggrey, who confirmed that the minister summoned him the previous day and asked for the cancellation without explanation.

The cancellation was at such a short notice that most members of SWAG did not get to know about it. A number of members arrived at the hospitality centre at the Accra Sports Stadium in the evening only to learn that there was no show. Members did not take kindly to the lack of information flow and queried the executive.

There were suggestions that the cancellation had something to do with an article written by this writer under the banner headline: ONE-YEAR OF MR PROMISES in which Osei-Kwaku's administration of sports in the country took a battering.

At the meeting with the Minister and his deputy, this writer asked him to recount some of his achievements since taking over the sports portfolio. The minister listed instructions he had given for weeds to be cleared at the swimming pool site at the Accra Sports Stadium and behind the scoreboard at the Kumasi Sports Stadium as some of his achievements. His contention is that the lands at both sides are now being put to good use.

The response given this writer, in my capacity, as President of SWAG was that the ordinary Ghanaian did not care one hoot about his order for the weeds to be cleared. What is of interest to the Ghanaian is why he led a contingent to the Manchester Games when he knew that the squad he was taking to the Club Games had had no opportunity to prepare effectively.

I am beginning to draw the disturbing conclusion that Osei-Kwaku does not appreciate the harm he has caused Ghana sports by his inability to lead from the front. Instead of accepting blame for the sinking image of Ghana sports, he seems to delight in fantasy.

The other day, when the SWAG asked him to reconsider his backing for this country to bid for the 2008 African Cup of Nations and rather consider a bid for the Africa Games to help improve sporting installations and infrastructure in the country, Osei-Kwaku called it sabotage. In effect, anybody with an idea that does not fit his idea of how affairs of sports should be conducted is an enemy. It is not in his interest to behave that way.

It is a pity listening to the interview he granted BBC on the question of a national coach. He appears to contradict the position of the Ghana Football Association. That in its elf is not a bad idea, given the idea of unity in diversity. But the minister, went on to accuse the GFA in his interview with the Ghanaian Times while he could summon the leadership of the FA to his office to iron out any differences.

It is beginning to dawn on me that the Sports Minister does not appreciate the crisis on the Ghana soccer front. In his mind's eye, he pictures a poker game with the FA in which the minister would win.

It is a fact that the Black Stars beat Benin 3-0 at the Kumasi Sports Stadium last Sunday in a friendly match. But that cannot be the proper bench mark to gauge the battle-readiness of the national team. The Black Stars are far from being a cohesive force. As Minister of State in charge of sports, he should lead from the front to find solutions to the general malady afflicting football in the county. That is why he should summon the FA for a crisis meeting and stop blaming everybody but himself.

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