Legendary Ghanaian footballer, Osei Kofi, has called on government to ensure transparency in the sport sector by punishing corrupt administrators who are making money from it at the expense of the state.
Speaking in an interview with Atinka TV, the former Black Star, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko player, said Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, would not have hesitated to send the embattled former Ghana Football Association (GFA) boss, Kwesi Nyantakyi, to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison following the ‘Number 12’ exposé by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his team from Tiger Eye PI, which caught Mr. Nyantakyi on video telling an Arab businessman to pay bribe money to President Akufo Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, as well as some leading figures in government in return for various favours mainly in the form of contracts.
Acting undercover, the businessman, referred to in the video as Shane, had initially expressed interest in investing in the Ghana Premier League with a sponsorship package after inviting Mr. Nyantakyi through Northern Regional Football Federation boss, Abdullai Alhassan (Abu) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr. Nyantakyi quickly put together a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed by the two parties after urging the businessman to pay 5 million dollars to President Akufo Addo, 3 million dollars to Vice President Bawumia, 2 million dollars and 1 million dollars to the minister for roads and highways and his deputy respectively, as well as 1 million for himself and the meeting’s facilitator, Abu — all monies (Mr. Nyantakyi suggested) should be transferred through his own financial (savings and loans) company.
Kwesi Nyantakyi had taken the discussion away from football to road construction which he described as “very lucrative” due to the practice by Ghanaian politicians of over-inflating figures to as much as twice the total cost even in the most developed parts of the world, thus in his estimation, an overpass in Ghana can cost twice the amount if it were constructed in New York City in the United States of America.
He said his close relationship with government officials especially Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, Anthony Karbo (who he claimed to have helped previously) would make it easier for the foreign businessman to secure contracts in that sector.
In the video, Nyantakyi can be heard saying: “Karbo told me that if the man agrees to do certain things, from tomorrow, they will get all the contracts… Karbo told me if you want to get contracts in Ghana, you should pay 5 million dollars to President Akufo Addo, 3 million dollars to the vice president, and 2 million dollars to the minister for roads. The basis for giving money to the president is that: Mr. President, you just won an election (2016), you incurred costs, this is something small to defray your costs… and I know for a fact that he (the president) even sold his properties to do the election and his family members are looking for the money. There are contractors the government owes a lot of money — to get your money, try to go and negotiate with them (the president and his family members), they’ll take 5 percent and pay you, otherwise, your money will be there and nobody will pay you.”
Kwesi Nyantakyi further assured the businessman that by paying the bribe monies, he will be treated as a financier of the ruling political party (NPP) and people will bow to him and give him special treatment wherever he goes just as the ministry of transport was created to appease another major party financier, Assin Central member of parliament, Kennedy Agyapong, who according Mr. Nyantakyi, nominated his “small boy” Kweku Ofori Asiamah to be minister because he (Kennedy Agyapong) didn’t want to head that ministry.
According to Mr. Nyantakyi, if the businessman pays the bribe as suggested, “he has bought the system. If he can do it, I can put my neck down for him. We all know how these people suffered. The vice president or president will say ‘there’s another (contract) here, go and take it’ in just a phone call. But we (referring to himself and Abu) should not be left out. I want it to be like we brought the man, so they should deal with us. I can take Shane to the president… myself and Shane and Nana Akufo Addo, we’ll be the only three in a room.”
Born in Kumasi in 1942, Osei Kofi, who was a member of the Black Star squad which became continental champions in 1965, said, unlike the apparent corrupt conduct of Kwesi Nyantakyi, Ohene Gyan was a patriot who was chosen by President Nkrumah and vetted in Ghana’s Parliament before becoming Ghana’s first director of sports, a role he played diligently notwithstanding direct scrutiny by Kwame Nkrumah himself who was known for his selflessness and resolve to uphold the supreme interests of Ghana and Africa above all things.
“Nyantakyi and co wouldn’t have been walking around as freemen after all that has come out. Osagyefo would have put them in Nsawam immediately because he was serious about accountability.”
“As national team players, Kwame Nkrumah told us to bear in mind that the Ghana National Anthem is played for leaders, so whenever the song is played for Black Star, each member of the team is elevated to the status of an ambassador representing Ghana, which means Ghana first.”
He said, before European coaches were replaced in 1960, Ohene Gyan sent C.K. Gyamfi to Germany to study coaching in preparation for the position as Ghana’s first black coach — going on to win the African Cup of Nations three times (1963, 1965 and 1982), an unparalleled record that made him (Osei Kofi) understand Nkrumah’s declaration that “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.”
Popularly known as “Wizard Dribbler,” Osei Kofi, now a Christian priest, said he was a delight to watch during his playing days in spite of his relatively smaller body structure which earned him the famous nickname from journalist, Ken Bediako.
He however named former Sekondi Hasaacas playmaker and national team captain, Edward Aggrey Fynn, as the greatest player ever to wear the Black Star jersey, and called on government to honour sport personalities who served as good ambassadors when they had the opportunity to represent the nation