FEATURE: Stop the noise on the World Cup budget
It seems as a country, we have somewhat perfected the art of making allegations against people and the offices they occupy even when we have little or no proof of the very things we allege.
That, practice, commonly found on the Ghanaian political turf has eaten deep into the country’s sporting arena.
It is unfortunate some of us in the media who often initiate and additionally fan some of these allegations haven’t yet recognized the damaging work we are doing not only to some honourable people and their offices but also the entire populace.
Let me make it clear that under no circumstance will I defend wrongdoing or corrupt practices that come up in our football circles or our sports in general.
It is necessary however to stress, that, it is unacceptable the levels we are taking wild allegations of wrongdoing against authorities at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Youth and Sports Ministry to, and yet, we don’t seem to have the spine to substantiate those allegations.
A case in point is the so-called US$20million World Cup budget.
For weeks now, so much has been said about the budget, which is believed to be around the figure quoted above and which many people argue is too much for a country that has serious economic difficulties.
That Ghana has dire economic challenges is a fact no reasonable, sincere Ghanaian living under the harsh conditions here will deny.
Living conditions in the country are increasingly worsening. If the government has any means to reduce or minimize the hardships Ghanaians are facing, it must be encouraged to do its best.
Added to that, all efforts must be made to protect the public purse from frivolous expenditure. I however don’t think any money reasonably demanded and justifiably spent on the Black Stars’ participation at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil can be termed as frivolous.
Listening to all the talk on the World Cup budget; from what has been published by sections of the media to the commentaries by football fans and remarks made by the Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, I have come to the conclusion that, there is so much ado about nothing.
First of all, where is the World Cup budget? Who has it? How much is Ghana likely to spend on the global football competition?Who will formally make the budget public? I ask these questions against the backdrop that, no single individual has been courageous to say exactly how much the World Cup budget is. We keep hearing it is US$20million. Is it actually US$20million?
What has been put in the budget that makes the figure US$20million?
Why the rash? Where from all the heat? People have been comparing the World Cup budget of other countries to that of Ghana at the time these same people have been unable to even tell us exactly what went into the budgets of those countries and indeed what went into that of Ghana.
I won’t hold brief for anybody at the Ghana Football Association or the Ministry of Youth and Sports but here is the tragedy of this country.
We are quick to making judgement on issues, events and even people without assembling the facts to arrive at reasonable conclusions. We like to blow hot air; get the uninitiated on our side and pursue a needless agenda.
Is that how we forever want to go? I put that question directly to those who have been running with the allegations of corruption against the GFA and the Sports Ministry.
Unless those piling the unnecessary pressure on the GFA and the Sports Ministry have definite figures; unless they can tell us what exactly is in the budget; unless they have found something fishy somewhere; something venal; unless they can pinpoint palpable waste of Ghanaian tax payers’ money; unless they have something else to say apart from the noise they are already making; I advise that they give the whole nation a break!
The practice of invariably thriving on half-baked truths and baseless allegations to carelessly run people down must stop. It doesn’t serve the interest of Ghana. It rather denigrates people. It exposes some of Ghana’s reputable offices to unnecessary ridicule. And we hurt Ghana, not the people or the public offices they hold. When the FA and the Sports Ministry officials returned from Brazil recently, I gathered through media interviews, that, the World Cup budget has been sent to the Ministry for transfer to the President and to cabinet for scrutiny.
Then it will be approved and after which it will be made public. In fact, that is what the Sports Minister said this week. So where exactly is the problem? Where is the corruption being alleged? Don’t we believe what the Minister said? If so we should say so with tangible reasons. Why are we becoming experts at leveling allegations against people just like that? Can a whole World Cup budget be kept away from the Ghanaian public? Is that possible?
Let us reason constructively. That is what Ghana needs. The debate about the World Cup budget so far has been pointless – a struggle over nothing. I suggest that we hold onto all the commentaries until the budget comes out so we can make informed analysis.
By Jerome Otchere
Asante Kotoko Express Newspaper