Troubled Kwesi Nyantakyi admits he has courted “bad publicity” and would have wished he were making the headlines for the right reasons instead of being arrested last Wednesday and investigated by the police for alleged criminal acts.
The arrest follows a complaint filed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over allegations that the Ghana FA boss used his name and that of the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, to extort money from some purported investors.
These are unusual times for the popular football administrator and the second most powerful man in African football.
Stripped of his recognisable appeal, trademark smile and the cheers he often enjoys in public, Mr Nyantakyi was in a very reflective mood last Thursday at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters of the Ghana Police Service in the company of his counsel, Mr Thaddeus Sory, as they spent hours assisting in investigations into the case.
During a short interaction with some journalists as he waited to meet the top brass of the CID as part of his bail terms, the FA president admitted to some journalists present that he would have wished the script was entirely different such as a normal day at work, instead of the kind of issues he was dealing with.
“This is bad publicity for me. I would have wished to be in the media for winning a trophy for Ghana and not having to deal with the police on a matter like this,” the beleaguered FA president said in a sombre tone.
The manner of his arrest last Wednesday at the Kotoka International Airport on his arrival from an international assignment in Morocco, reflects the remarkable fall from grace of Ghana’s longest serving FA boss, who has been at the helm of affairs for 13 years, and was suspected of eyeing another four-year term when his current tenure of office runs out in 2019.
Election in 2006
Since he was elected Ghana’s football chief in 2006 and rising to become a CAF executive member, and lately a member of the powerful FIFA Council, Mr Nyantakyi has travelled using the VVIP Lounge of the Kotoka International Airport and given red carpet treatment on his return home.
However, last Wednesday morning, there were no such privileges for the CAF first vice-president, who faces an uncertain future after being secretly filmed by ace investigator, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, in an undercover operation aimed at exposing corruption in football.
Number 12 documentary
The much-anticipated documentary, titled “Number 12,” is expected to be premiered in Accra on June 6 and is said to have captured many leading football officials, Mr Nyantakyi included, engaging in acts that confirm a long-held suspicion of massive corruption in Ghana football.
At the height of his leadership as Ghana football chief, Mr Nyantakyi was the darling of the football community, revered and celebrated by many for his achievements. He superintended over a golden era as Ghana’s Black Stars made it three times successively to FIFA World Cup tournaments, a World Youth Cup, among other achievements. His status and influence in world football grew as he rose into influential heights.
Achievements as GFA President
As leader of Ghana football, Mr Nyantakyi had won a number of trophies for Ghana, most prominently the FIFA Under-20 Championship in 2009. Four years ago by this time, he was preoccupied with Ghana’s FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil.
However, it was a tournament which went wrong and marked the beginning of the FA president’s troubles as Ghana crashed out of the competition in the first round amid controversy when the then President of the country ordered money to be flown to Brazil to avert a possible boycott by the players.
After the tournament, the government set up a Commission of Enquiry, led by Justice Senyo Dzamefe, to probe Ghana’s campaign, with the commission report highly critical of the FA for the lack of accountability and transparency in its financial dealings, among others.
In the last five weeks, Mr Nyantakyi has come under fire for dismissing his Vice-President, George Afriyie, for alleged disloyalty.
Last Thursday, the GFA’s Executive Committee, after an emergency meeting, issued a statement expressing its solidarity with the FA president, who remains in charge of affairs despite being investigated by the police.