If the Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Isaac Asiamah sought to impress us with his presentation of the AFCON 2019 budget and particularly how much was spent out of the budgeted amount, then he failed.
He failed not because I have any evidence of malfeasance against him, but simply because his presentation left too many questions unanswered.
Before the tournament, some media reports claimed that, between US$8million and US$15million was budgeted for the competition but the Minister said on Wednesday that, US$6.3 million was budgeted but US$4,564,532 was spent. To be fair, the clarity there should be commended as it offers a measure of transparency but then, it is hard to swallow the entire expenditure as it painfully chokes at the throat.
I cannot take the Minister’s presentation without questions. A breakdown by Hon. Asiamah shows that, US$965,405 was paid to the players as winning bonuses. The technical team had US$347,027 with additional technical staff taking home US$177,000 all as winning bonuses. For a team that won one match, drew two and lost one, thus crashing out of the tournament at the 1/16th stage, it is worth asking how much each player was paid as winning bonus.
Other questions have been asked about the airfare, accommodation, visa fees, and feeding, which alone was US$419,300. It is mind-boggling that, we could spend that much on food. The public reaction and rejection of Hon. Asiamah’s account is indicative of how indignant many of us have been, on the immoral monetisation of the everything around the Black Stars. It is disgraceful.
It is problematic too. I have found no correct justification for the grossly, reckless expenditure on the team in recent years. Senior colleague, Michael Oti Adjei, captured it succinctly when he wrote that: "After Brazil 2014, we had a fine opportunity to de-emphasize a bonus culture that has never helped us. Then someone had an Einstein kind of idea that money would win us #AFCON2019 so we paid a handsome hit for our earliest exit since 2006."
It is hard to understand but the point is that, we have had leaders who either do not care or are ignorant and insensitive. If we had leaders who cared and were sensitive to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian, leaders who had priorities, leaders who knew the true state of our football and sports in Ghana; there will be no way they would carelessly pump millions of US dollars into the Black Stars and also have the moral courage to defend it.
The AFCON 2019 expenditure failed to convince me, that, our leaders know what they are doing with the Black Stars and our football in general. It was another cruel dissipation of tax payers money. And I dare predict, that, any breakdown of those fat figures given to us by Hon. Asiamah will only confirm our failure to learn as a country. We should be sad.
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