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02.06.2012 Feature Article


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The sense of nationalism is an inborn trait that sinks deep into the soul of every true citizen of a country. Its manifestation is often unconscious especially when the national pride is at stake. As a non-football fan, the pride of patriotism always fills my heart when the national colours are in vogue on the field of play. That is why I take pride watching the senior national team play in any competitive game.

I have had a difficult time coming to terms with what my eyes saw following the abrupt suspension of the live telecast of the Ghana-Lesotho match at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi this evening (Friday, June 1, 2012)

Before the unfortunate episode, it was such a delight seeing the flamboyant Black Stars swinging in perfect unison on the field of play. I had been engrossed in the game after the delightful opening goal from the 'born again' captain (as Kwabena Yeboah, the lead commentator for the game described Sulley Ali Muntari). Subsequently, Adiyiah made it two and as if that was not enough, the maestro's son, Jordan Ayew came in with such a classic show of football prowess; beating the goal keeper and netting the third goal. This was followed by thunderous cheers that got me off my seat. Indeed, the joy with which I screamed at Jordan's goal nearly got my laptop fell down and I wonder if I would have been bothered momentarily.

Totally glued to my television set enjoying such a spectacular play on the field, little did I know that my excitement was going to be abruptly suspended. A feeling of disgust, shock and shame gripped my heart as I couldn't come to terms with the fact that the game had been suspended because the lights failed to function. And the temporal suspension of the match had to last for close to an hour. What a shame!

With the camera's capturing the dark-filled stadium and bringing the shameful scenes to television viewers, Ghana as a nation was giving free publicity to poor planning, ineptitude and total disregard for contingency measures at events of such magnitude. That there are people in high offices who fail to plan and thus plan to fail was gravely exemplified during the 'historic' world cup qualifiers at the Baba Yara Stadium. How on earth could the light fail to shine when it was most needed? To the extent that the problem was not an act of force majeure, then one wonders why officials and organizers did not envisage such a possibility and thus failed to offer an alternative power supply?

So right before the match officials; the die-hard football admirers; the international viewers (don't forget that GTV is accessible via satellite), the characteristic Ghanaian attitude of ill-preparation gave us out to ridicule. A nation whose football prowess is revered at the international level chose to showcase such a despicable scenario to the world. Unbelievable!

As I followed the radio broadcast via Joy FM because there were no meaningful pictures on GTV except portions of the dark stadium, I heard the breaking news courtesy the Director of Communications at the Castle, Koku Anyidoho indicating that the Ashanti Regional Manager of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had been immediately suspended following the power failure that led to the temporal suspension of the match. Speaking with anger typified, he indicated that the President was extremely upset about the development and that all those connected with the unfortunate event would be held responsible. In fact, he emphasized that more heads would roll. He was categorical that the suspension of the Ashanti Regional ECG boss was of an immediate effect.

I must admit that I very well welcome the speed with which the President reacted to the event and that heads must indeed roll. Without delving into the merit or otherwise of the immediate suspension of ECG regional manager because of divergent reports citing other possible causes for the malfunctioning of the lighting systems, I must ask whether this is the first time that heads will have to roll in Ghana with immediate effect. Have we not lived under a culture where non-performing individuals and organizations have taken the tax-payer and the consumer for a ride? How many times have the ECG, and other service providers not failed to deliver superior services to Ghanaians? Could it be that the President was so upset because this is football or could he be angry because this is a ritual that has often resulted in the loss of productive hours and damage to equipment (both domestic and industrial)?

As I have indicated earlier, I support the move to 'punish' all those responsible for this show of ineptitude. I however think that such an action is rather long over-due because this degree of ineptitude has been recorded several times in the past. One example that readily comes to mind is the loss of lives and property due to flooding which has become an annual affair. Surprisingly, those who have for decades failed to provide drainage systems have not yet been given the sacking. Those mandated to ensure that buildings are not sited on river ways have not been called to question. Those whose duty it is to rid the city off garbage continue to sit in their air-conditioned offices and the list goes on and on. With all apologies to the powers that be, I am not the least enthused about the practice where we must wait for an eventuality to befall us before we act to avoid its re-occurrence. By the way, what is the assurance that this time around, heads will indeed roll? I will love to see this happen in Ghana and surely, MR PRESIDENT, please act on your words with prompt and certainty.

In his closing remarks, the affable, eloquent and celebrated sports commentator, Kwabena Yeboah indicated that he doesn't “remember the last time the Black Stars had played so delectably.” Surely, it was such a moment that held the eyes fixated on the game and the excitement reaching its peak. It was a game that saw non-football fanatics like me staying glued to the TV set and just enjoying the Friday evening. Indeed, it was a delectable game but I daresay that I don't remember the first or last time a country freely showcased ineptitude to the whole world as we have done.

I wonder why ill-planning has become a 'celebrated' sub-culture in Ghana and the question that comes to mind is why we have allowed non-performers to continue to enjoy the tax-payers' money whilst they inflict so much pain on us. Can't we for once ensure that non-performers are given the packing? Perhaps, we take delight in getting the President to be so upset. Mr. President, your words were loud and clear and hearing your “linguist” demonstrating your anger about the stadium freak, we know that you “are very, very upset” about the incident. Please, let your words bring the much awaited regime of efficiency in all sectors of the economy!

May such a shame never befall Ghana again.
Long live Ghana!
And Kudos to the Stars for representing the seven-lettered name 'Lesotho' with a goal each!

By Adama Bukari,
June 1, 2012 – 9:30pm
Accra, Ghana
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Adama Bukari
Adama Bukari, © 2012

Adama Bukari is a crusader of social justice and human rights. Column: AdamaBukari

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