Feature: History must be our guide

Author: Ebo Kwaitoo
Kwesi Nyantakyi In his glory days

 As a chip of the old block that witnessed the last major reforms which took place at the Ghana Football Association (GFA), I am duty-bound to add my voice to the ongoing debate in order to free my my mind of any guilt.

That explains the resurrection of this column at such a time like this in Ghana's chequered soccer history to avoid being judged by posterity.

At least I saw all that transpired before, during and after the first ever GFA elections in contemporary times. The agitations, plots, intrigues, drama and betrayal that characterised the suspense-filled elections which brought Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi to power at the KAMA Conference Centre at Osu in December 2005 are still fresh in my memory as sunlight is to the day.

I vividly recall how the late legend, Coach Sam Arday, who was very ill at the time, was virtually carried by some then Fetteh Feyenoord officials to the venue of the elections to vote.

It was that same polls which marked the end of the highly-respected and influential chairman of the erstwhile Executive Council, Mr Y.A. Ibrahim of CEPS fame. Lest I forget, whether coincidentally or it was part of the machinations of his opponents, Mr Ibrahim was surprisingly transferred from Accra to the north prior to the crucial FA elections. That remains a mystery to many.

These and many other things - some of which I might share in subsequent weeks, make me shudder anytime the ongoing struggle for power, angling and deep-seated hunger for reforms come to mind. It is obvious that we need change at the FA, but it can surely not be sacrificed on the altar of greed and selfishness.

I daresay that we cannot arrive at any thorough and meaningful reforms without learning some vital lessons from what transpired in the corridors of the GFA and GHALCA 13 years ago.

I believe that in its quest to oust the forthright Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe as the then chairman of the GFA, the brain behind that revolution - GHALCA -  ended up removing some pillars which ensured checks and balances in the FA's operations. The clubs were either carried away by the frenzy of the reforms or the over-celebration of their victory over their perceived enemy, Nyaho.

For starters, Nyaho became the GFA chairman as a government nominee per the previous FA structure but ended up being a thorn in the flesh of the major stakeholders of Ghana football till GHALCA decided to impeach him. But in his usual resolute self, the thick-skinned ex-service man fought his opponents to the hilt and finally sought refuge in the lawcourts but lost the case.

GHALCA contended that Nyaho was guilty of flouting the FA statutes, which did not permit members of the association to resort to the lawcourts for redress on any matter.

However, it is worthy of note that despite his controversial exit, Nyaho is credited for the agitation which compelled FIFA to order for the reforms which brought his vice, Nyantakyi,  to power as the first GFA president in 2005.

Despite that harrowing experience, it still marvels me how Nyaho has maintained a cordial relationship with the GFA to date and is still actively involved in the local game as a board member of the oldest existing club in the country, Accra Hearts of Oak.

But in the craze for the so-called reforms, the clubs ended up causing a major blunder by vesting absolute powers in the hands of the GFA president. Hitherto, the president of congress, for instance, was different from the FA president, while the FA president reported directly to the chairman of the Executive Council, thus allowing for some checks and balances.

As a major stakeholder of Ghana football, I expect the clubs to rather work hand-in-hand with the government to help sanitise the system and bring the local game back on track, instead of chastising it.

Going forward, I suggest that the government nominates the FA president and General Secretary (from among the clubs to prevent some past incidents) - to be voted for at congress.

To ensure further checks and balances, clubs can also elect a congress president, while all former charmen and presidents of the GFA in good standing should automatically become ex-officio members to play an advisory role to the president and the executive committee as and when necessary.

To address this other conflict area where the GFA is expected to be accountable to the State per the FIFA Standard Cooperation Agreement (SCA), the government can nominate three persons in the five-man Public Interest Committee (PIC) to ensure efficiency this time round.

I end by admonishing GHALCA and club owners, especially, to take their destiny into their hands and remain as vibrant as they have been in the past few weeks as a watchdog for the FA without fear or favour heneceforth.
More anon!