“I’m happy and proud to lead such an amazing football federation of people of all walks of life in Ghana, all shades of opinion and from every part of the country.” Kwesi Nyantakyi said in his speech after winning his third term in office as Ghana Football Association president.
“Regardless of our differences, when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the successes we can achieve.”
They have indeed enjoyed the successes and staggering downfall together. When Nyantakyi won a re-election to stay on as GFA President in 2015 in Tamale, there was nothing fluky about his victory that day. He looked poised while delivering his speech and as the gathered crowd at the Congress paid rapt attention to his speech, the delegates among them – who had given him the mandate in the election by a landslide of votes – knew they were to take instructions from this man for another four years.
He is the chosen shepherd and they are a devout sheep. Nyantakyi had grown in football circles and become the most powerful man in Ghana football. His emergence in 2005 as GFA boss was only a step in his grand ambition of ruling the world of football, as some close to him say discreetly.
From a lowly beginning in Wa, Nyantakyi only attended GFA meetings as a representative for Wa based club, Upper West Heroes. His drive to become a top football administrator ensured he grew among top officials and would soon win the GHALCA Vice Chairman position, hence, automatically becoming the Vice-Chairman of the GFA.
When Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe was impeached in 2005 and a vote of no confidence was passed on him, Nyantakyi, who at the time had mobilized the Executive Committee members for the silent coup d’etat, stood for the election against astute football politicians like Joseph Ade Coker and Vincent Sowah Odotei, won by a huge margin.
At age 37, Nyantakyi had stamped his influence in Ghana football and outwitted most of the so-called giants in the game.
A few weeks ago he occupied seats at the top echelons of FIFA and CAF and was by default one of the powerful and well-connected men in world football. His persuasive talent, verbal ambition and valuable contacts made him well positioned in football, very few in Ghana’s Association would dare him on any issue. That persuasive talent of his got him into most of the positions he has occupied since and has inadvertently landed him in trouble as well.
Before now, Nyantakyi has held the unenviable reputation as a corrupt leader and the man who always seemed ready to implicate himself in secrecy to fill his pocket with cash. Many questioned his modus operandi and passage to wealth, but he defied all odds to escape every threat.
Even the famed investigative piece by the Telegraph in England, in 2014 that targeted Nyantakyi’s involvement in match fixing could not give him away. There have been the issues surrounding sponsorship of the Ghana Premier League. Matters arising from the $3 million Glo Telecom sponsorship in 2009 revealed there was some irregularity in the brokering of the deal. What about that Midsea/Afrisat deal just a year after? Nyantakyi was fingered in all these controversial issues, but grew stronger instead. He escaped all the accusations but not unscathed.
Controversial journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas bore the troubles of pained Ghanaians who had called for the head of Nyantakyi for so long. His investigative piece themed “Number 12: When Greed and Misconduct become the norm” was premiered in Accra on June 6 made Nyantakyi the furor of Accra overnight.
His achievement of leading Ghana to three successive World Cups is well documented. Under his leadership, Ghana’s U-20 Black Satellites won the Africa Youth Championship and the World Youth Championship in 2009 but many say he has outstayed his welcome.
Where money talks, everybody of a desirable interest would spare their ears to listen very carefully and where power and political influence seems to rule in a country, then this ultimately and inevitably becomes corruption’s playground too.
The 50-year old astute lawyer has denied every wrong doing labeled against him till now. Anas’ film on bribery in Ghana and African football sees its main protagonist revealed as a greedy leader who allegedly attempts to defraud by false pretense when he on two occasions, met with a business man in Far East to discuss football sponsorship in Ghana.
The discussions took a different turn when Nyantakyi began bragging about his influence in Ghana and how he could orchestrate and establish links with politicians including the President of Ghana and his Vice, to earn the fictitious businessman a huge contract.
The airing of his rants means Nyantakyi walks out of Ghana football with ignominy. The self-acclaimed ‘known’ individual now wears a somber suit. His once quick defenders have gone missing in the last few weeks and are unable to leap to his defense like they once did. His camp is shut silent.
Having always refuted allegations at his doorstep and even furthered threats of suing journalists who criticized and publicly called him a ‘fraud’, the embattled administrator could not fly over Anas’ radar in his explosive documentary. His elaborate admission to help the businessman to bribe the Presidency and a sector minister implicates him in the mass embarrassment.
It’s safe to say Nyantakyi is as ‘finished’ as the Tiger Eye’s associates said before the video was aired to the public.
“I want to pass on a federation that’s effective, respected and admired around the world for our achievements both on and off the field”, said Nyantakyi in 2015.
Few believed him when he spewed that three years ago, and the many that stuck with him will now join him in oblivion. His good work in the past will be overshadowed by his greed and chase for money and power.
The longest serving Football Association chairman in the world walks from his era with shame and a distinct mark of distain.
By Thierry Nyann
The writer is a sports journalist at Media General (TV3, 3FM, 3news.com)