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AFCON

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U-20 WWC: African Origin Travels and Sports Tourism appointed official travel and hospitality agency

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has officially appointed African Origin travel and tours as the authorized ticket and hospitality agent for Ghana’s participation in the impending FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

African Origin Travel and Sports tourism, who have a track record of managing worldwide events, including world cups and the recent AFCON in Cameroon, are expected to ensure the smooth handling of officials, fans, players, and other critical stakeholders during and after the three-week tournament.

Ghana’s Black Princesses will compete at this level for a record sixth time and hope to make it out of the group for the first time despite drawing the USA, The Netherlands, and Korea.

Meanwhile, African Origin travel and Sports Tourism are to liaise with the Sports Ministry and the Ghana Football Association and provide complete logistics and travel services.

In the coming days, packages will be available for many fans who plan to join the Black Princesses in North America for the Mundial.

News Sports

GFA maintain Otto Addo as head coach; Boateng, Dramani and Hughton also stay at post

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) have confirmed the re-appointment of Otto Addo as the head coach of the Black Stars ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Just the like the technical team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier playoff against Nigeria, Addo will be assisted by George Boateng, Mas-Ud Didi Dramani while Chris Hughton will continue to work as the technical advisor for the team.

The four coaches, who played a key role to Ghana securing qualification to the global showpiece will stay on the technical team of the Black Stars as they prepare for the AFCON qualifiers as well as the World Cup to be staged in Qatar.

According to the Ghana FA, the decision to maintain the four comes after various engagements with all relevant stakeholders as well as the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Addo, Boateng, Dramani and Hughton will stay on as the technical team until December 2022. 

They are expected to name their squad in the coming days for the qualifiers against Madagascar and Central African Republic. 

News Sports

CAF expels Kenya, Zimbabwe from AFCON 2023 qualifiers

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that both the Harambee Star, Kenya and Warriors of Zimbabwe will not participate in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The race for Cote d’Ivoire 2023 will begin on June 1.

Kenya and Zimbabwe were suspended by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) for political interference.

They were included in the official draw by CAF on the condition that the suspension must be lifted two weeks before their first games in the qualifiers.

The two countries has, however, failed to meet the criteria required by the FIFA Congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension.

“The two associations: Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition,”CAF said in a statement on their official website.

“Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule that has been communicated to the teams after the draw.

“The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament,” it said.

News Sports

GFA at final stages to maintain quartet as technical team – Prosper Harrison Addo

The General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association, Prosper Harrison Addo, says positive talks with the entourages of Otto Addo, Chris Hughton, George Boateng and Mas-Ud Didi Dramani have been held to keep them for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The quartet secured Ghana’s qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup after being in the dugouts as the interim technical team for the playoff game against Nigeria in March.

After qualification, there have been calls to main the four for the upcoming AFCON qualifiers as well as the World Cup, including a plea by Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo to the GFA president to do everything possible to keep the team together.

Speaking exclusively to JoySports, Harrison Addo revealed that talks are in the final stages to confirm the quartet as the technical team for the Black Stars ahead of the qualifiers.

“The quartet that delivered us the qualification will be kept together. So we need to work on the modalities of they staying with the team to go to the World Cup and so we have been working on it, engaging them positively and they have been positive so far” he said.

“We are in the final stages of the engagements. The processes are such that you do the engagements and then liaise with the ministry [Youth and Sports] and then you get the greenlight to move on. Be rest assured that the quartet will join us. They will plan and execute the upcoming matches as well as the four-nation tournament [in Japan].

“They will also pick up in September and November we go to the World Cup.”

The Black Stars will begin their AFCON qualifiers next month against Madagascar.

News Sports

GFA at final stages to maintain quartet as technical team – Prosper Harrison Addo

The General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association, Prosper Harrison Addo, there have been positive talks with the entourages of Otto Addo, Chris Hughton, George Boateng and Mas-Ud Didi Dramani to keep them for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The quartet secured Ghana’s qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup after being in the dugouts as the interim technical team for the playoff game against Nigeria in March.

After qualification, there have been calls to main the four for the upcoming AFCON qualifiers as well as the World Cup, including a plea by Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo to the GFA president to do everything possible to keep the team together.

Speaking exclusively to JoySports, Harrison Addo revealed that talks are in the final stages to confirm the quartet as the technical team for the Black Stars ahead of the qualifiers.

“The quartet that delivered us the qualification will be kept together. So we need to work on the modalities of they staying with the team to go to the World Cup and so we have been working on it, engaging them positively and they have been positive so far” he said.

“We are in the final stages of the engagements. The processes are such that you do the engagements and then liaise with the ministry [Youth and Sports] and then you get the greenlight to move on. Be rest assured that the quartet will join us. They will plan and execute the upcoming matches as well as the four-nation tournament [in Japan].

“They will also pick up in September and November we go to the World Cup.”

The Black Stars will begin their AFCON qualifiers next month against Madagascar.

News Sports

Super Eagles: Peseiro warned not to copy Rohr

Former Nigeria head coach, Christian Chukwu has warned the new handler of the team, Jose Peseiro, not to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Gernot Rohr.

Peseiro has been confirmed as the new permanent head coach of the Super Eagles.

The Portuguese will now take charge during the upcoming international friendlies against Ecuador and Mexico.

He will also prepare the three-time African champions for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers.

During his time, Rohr rarely lived in Nigeria throughout the almost five and half years he was in charge of the Eagles. The 68-year-old Franco-German also did not reckon with players in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

“I’m very happy so that it does not delay our preparation for Nations Cup qualifiers and let’s see what he will do when he comes,” Chukwu told Brila FM about the hiring of Jose Peseiro

“I will like him to live here, monitor our leagues and our players; let him not be like Rohr who stayed in Germany. Then days to the match, he will come back to the country with the players and so on.

“I will like this one to stay in Nigeria if they have accommodation for him and everything and let’s see how it goes.”

News Sports

AFCON qualifiers: Mauritius wins appeal against Sao Tomé, to play Nigeria

 

Mauritius has won the appeal against Sao Tomé and Príncipe at the CAF disciplinary committee and will join Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau in Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

 

According to a statement released by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on Monday, Samson Adamu, CAF’s director of competition, confirmed the decision of the continental football governing body on the case.

 

Sao Tome had won the preliminary tie 4-3 0n aggregate over Mauritius, but the losing side appealed the case before CAF.

 

Mauritius complained that Sao Tome’s Luis Leal had not followed the CAF’s COVID-19 protocol.

 

They added that the Bolivia-based striker, who scored the only goal in the first leg of the tie, was not eligible to play against them because his PCR test dated more than 72 hours before the match, infringing CAF protocol that tests must be from 48 hours.

 

“The Director of Competitions of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Mr Samson Adamu, has confirmed to thenff.com that Mauritius won a case it filed against Sao Tomé and Príncipe concerning their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations preliminary qualifying fixture, and will therefore join the combatants in Group A of the qualification series starting next month,” the statement read.

 

“Victory for Mauritius at the CAF Disciplinary Committee means they now join Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau in Group A of the six-match phase that ends in March next year. Nigeria will play Sierra Leone in Abuja on Thursday 9th June and then play Mauritius on Monday 13th June.”

 

Jose Peseiro was recently appointed as the new head coach of the Super Eagles.

 

Peseiro is also to take over the team for the international friendly games against Mexico and Ecuador in preparation for the qualifiers.

 

News Sports

AFCON qualifiers: Mauritius wins appeal against Sao Tomé, to play Nigeria

 

Mauritius has won the appeal against Sao Tomé and Príncipe at the CAF disciplinary committee and will join Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau in Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

 

According to a statement released by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on Monday, Samson Adamu, CAF’s director of competition, confirmed the decision of the continental football governing body on the case.

 

Sao Tome had won the preliminary tie 4-3 0n aggregate over Mauritius, but the losing side appealed the case before CAF.

 

Mauritius complained that Sao Tome’s Luis Leal had not followed the CAF’s COVID-19 protocol.

 

They added that the Bolivia-based striker, who scored the only goal in the first leg of the tie, was not eligible to play against them because his PCR test dated more than 72 hours before the match, infringing CAF protocol that tests must be from 48 hours.

 

“The Director of Competitions of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Mr Samson Adamu, has confirmed to thenff.com that Mauritius won a case it filed against Sao Tomé and Príncipe concerning their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations preliminary qualifying fixture, and will therefore join the combatants in Group A of the qualification series starting next month,” the statement read.

 

“Victory for Mauritius at the CAF Disciplinary Committee means they now join Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau in Group A of the six-match phase that ends in March next year. Nigeria will play Sierra Leone in Abuja on Thursday 9th June and then play Mauritius on Monday 13th June.”

 

Jose Peseiro was recently appointed as the new head coach of the Super Eagles.

 

Peseiro is also to take over the team for the international friendly games against Mexico and Ecuador in preparation for the qualifiers.

 

News Sports

‘There should be a befitting tribute to him’ – Son of C.K Gyamfi insists

Edwin Gyamfi, son of Ghana football legend, Charles Kumi Gyamfi, has called on the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to give his father a befitting tribute for the sacrifices he made as a player.

C.K Gyamfi was the first coach to lead the Ghana national football team to an Africa Cup of Nations victory in 1963 before guiding the Black Stars to two other AFCON titles in 1965 and 1982.

The Ghana football legend passed away aged 85 o September 2, 2015.

Speaking on JoySports’ Sports Link on Saturday, Edwin insisted that his father needs to be given more recognition.

“We don’t really talk about our father in that kind of space where he is a legend. We just see him as a father, he did his best for the country. But there is a point where you get to realise that, for the sacrifices that he made for the country there should be a befitting tribute to him,” he said.

“If you go to Nigeria for instance, you got all these stadia that are named [after some people] and there is a story behind the Baba Yara Stadium…essentially it was going to be named after C.K Gyamfi and he did tell us but for some reasons. There was some kind of disagreements at some levels and they decided to name it after Baba Yara and then to compensate, they decided to name the sports college after him. I think he is bigger than that, to be honest.

“For one person that has put his life down for the country, sacrificed because when he was playing in Germany, when he was playing professional football he could have remained and played professional football because he signed a contract with them and Kwame Nkrumah decided to bring him back. He found it difficult to tell them that ‘my country needs me’, so he was a part patriotic person and I think he deserves more than that.”

The former Black Stars player and coach’s autobiography is set to be launched on Thursday, May 19 in Accra.

News Sports

South Africa angry after Morocco offer to host Liberia AFCON qualifiers

Another venue row involving Morocco is brewing, this time over qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the Ivory Coast.    

Liberia have no international-standard stadium and Group K rivals Morocco say the west Africans can stage their three home fixtures in the kingdom.

But group rivals South Africa have cried foul, sending a letter on Thursday to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) urging them not to allow Morocco play Liberia twice at home. 

“We have been informed that Liberia intends to play their qualifying matches in Morocco, while they are with Morocco in the same group,” the South African Football Association letter said.

“South Africa opposes this arrangement, which goes against the principles of fair play as Morocco will travel less and enjoy home advantage more than anyone else in the group.

“We understand the challenges (finding international standard) stadiums present on the continent, but we advocate that this is not used to disadvantage countries or give others an unfair advantage.”

In 2022 World Cup qualifying, Morocco played their three away matches at home because Guinea-Bissau and Sudan did not have international-class venues and a coup in Guinea prevented the qualifier going ahead.

Morocco won all six matches, then defeated the Democratic Republic of Congo in a home and away play-off to clinch a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations is due to begin on May 30 with two matchdays between then and June 14. Morocco are scheduled to host South Africa and visit Liberia during that period. 

This week, Egyptian club Al Ahly asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland to overturn a CAF decision giving the 2022 CAF Champions League final hosting rights to Morocco.

CAF did not specify where in Morocco the match would be played, but the Stade Mohammed V home of Wydad Casablanca would be the obvious choice as its 65,000 capacity is the biggest in the kingdom.

The semi-final second legs are scheduled for this Friday and Saturday and Ahly and Wydad are hot favourites to reach the final.

Ahly want the May 30 title decider staged in a neutral country, while CAF said they chose Morocco because the only other bidders, Senegal, withdrew.   

The Cairo club are chasing an unprecedented third straight Champions League title and their South African coach Pitso Mosimane hopes to become the first coach to win three consecutive finals. 

News Sports

Ghana need not worry about Black Stars technical team’s long term sustainability

In the aftermath of Ghana’s somewhat surprising qualification to the 2022 Football World Cup in Qatar at the expense of Nigeria no less, attention quickly turned to the future of the Black Stars uniquely assembled technical team. Were they going to be maintained? If they were to be kept together for the upcoming tournament, then at what cost?

As things turned out, folks in the upper echelons of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) have no problem doling out money to keep the “Special Four” band together and with the money issue out of the way and green light from top stakeholders, all four men will steer technical affairs in Qatar. Why fix what’s not broken right?

While the pockets of the payers are deep, they aren’t that deep to pay all of Otto Addo, Chris Hughton, George Boateng and Didi Dramani on a “permanent” basis. The solution is a “temporal” appointment arrangement between Addo, Boateng and Dramani and the respective clubs they are attached to in Europe. With Ghana set to play in its fourth World Cup, many Ghanaians are happy to the point they flat out don’t care much about the long term sustainability of this unique deal.

After an embarrassing campaign at the 2019 and 2021 AFCONS and failure to qualify to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, making it to Qatar offers a happy outlet in a bad period for the Black Stars. However, the subject of the technical team’s sustainability and impact on the Black Stars beyond Qatar needs to be addressed way more than it has over the recent past weeks. The backdrop of the technical brain ensemble cast for the Black Stars gives all a sense of what lies beyond Qatar.

Addo was the GFA’s pick to lead the team while Hughton was the payer’s (Ghana Government via GNPC on behalf of the state of Ghana) option and combining forces was a compromise between the two factions that appeared at sharp opposite ends after Comoros beat Ghana 3-2. With Hughton having the Coaching Chops and experience at the highest level plus the backing of the paying faction, he is in line to be the “permanent” pick as Black Stars Head Coach in the long term.

Hughton is Qatar bound and prior to the World Cup, Ghana will compete in a series of friendly games and 2023 AFCON qualification games that should give him a better understanding of the team and the “African Game” to thrive in his new role when it comes. By leading Ghana to progress to the Mundial, Otto Addo has raised eyebrows in the football community including his birth country, Germany.

His imprint on the team as witnessed in the two-legged tie against Nigeria-defensive solidity and willingness to play out from the back within a short period of working with the team had its impact on everyone’s notice. Ride a good wave of results to Qatar plus a quarterfinal or surprise semifinal run in the Middle East and Addo could be the next big thing in the Coaching market, especially in Germany where teams are very willing to hand Bundesliga teams over to sharp, innovative thinkers of the game. Just as the French Ligue 1 boasts of “The League of Talents”, the Bundesliga has a strong reputation as a league of young Coaching talents that is rife with teams increasingly eager to give head coaching roles to promising individuals irrespective of their age. The likes of Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann and RB Leipzig head coach Domenico Tedesco got their first head coaching gig at ages 28 and 31 respectively. Relatively inexperienced middle-aged former players like Mark Van Bommel and Bo Svensson have been given coaching roles at Wolfsburg and Mainz respectively this season; Van Bommel has since been sacked from his role.

Footballers have capitalized on top performances at international tournaments to land big deals and the trend isn’t so different with coaches. For a man who has gone through the German system dating back to his amateur career, a good run by the Black Stars in Qatar is sure to be more than enough proof to prospective teams, particularly in Germany that Otto Addo is Bundesliga head coaching material. Even if Ghana doesn’t make a splash on its return to the World Cup, the German-born Ghanaian gets another chance to correct the wrongs via next year’s AFCON in Ivory Coast.

It is possible in such circumstances Addo could find himself as head coach at one of a bevvy of teams in the lower tier of the Bundesliga standings for starters. As one of the better ethnically diverse countries in Europe, it is a bit of a low point Germany’s most prominent football division lacks a Black Head Coach and Addo could be that guy. Should that happen, Ghana is likely to lose its interim gaffer but wouldn’t have much to stress over as Hughton would be a capable in-house replacement.

With a capable replacement waiting in the wings to coach the Black Stars on a full-time basis in Chris Hughton, the long term sustainability and impact on the fortunes of the Black Stars shouldn’t be a worry due to Otto Addo’s unique situation and future.

News Sports

Other sporting disciplines put Ghana on the map long before football – Nii Lante Vanderpuye

Former Sports Minister, Nii Lante Vanderpuye says successive governments’ concerted investment into the game of football against other sporting disciplines is largely responsible for the framing of football as the passion of the nation.

According to him, prior to football gaining the prominence it now has in the country; it was sporting disciplines such as athletics and boxing that were earning Ghana international recognition on world sporting stages.

He stated that after Ghana won her first AFCON cup, the attention of successive governments shifted from these other disciplines to football contributing to their decline.

““I don’t agree with you saying football is the passion of the nation. We have made football the passion of the nation. If you look at our history, our sports history, other disciplines apart from football were the ones who really put Ghana on the map before football. Athletics, boxing, these other disciplines won medals for this country before we won our first Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.

Speaking on special edition of JoyNews’ PM Express hosted by George Addo Juniour, he added that the over-concentration of successive governments on the development of football has negatively impacted the development of the other sporting disciplines.

He said there is the need for a new development roadmap to bring back those other sporting disciplines into prominence.

“You and I were in this country when at a particular time we decided that in the interest of football, let’s kill athletics by moving all the tartan tracks from Accra Sports stadium for example, because we gave so much emphasis, so much interest, so much passion to football that we thought at that moment in time wwe thought athletics was not even necessary.

“That’s one of the factors that has contributed to the strengthening and sustainability of the interest that was generated with the Milo Schools and Colleges Sports, the …athletics and all the others we initiated. So systematically our own actions have affected the rest of the disciplines,” he said.

He added that “Today you and I will agree that since the construction of the Bukom boxing arena for example, boxing has seen some interest. People coming from outside the country, coming into Ghana to engage in fights. Hitherto, our boxers were always going out to Togo, to Nigeria, and other places to fight.”

The special edition of PM Express headlined by the Joy Sports team is an initiative to kickstart a campaign to get government and corporate Ghana to invest heavily in the development of sporting disciplines other than football in the country.

News Sports

Nigeria vs Mexico: Super Eagles coach announces squad for friendly match (full list)

 

Super Eagles’ First Assistant Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has listed 30 players, including eight home-based professionals, excluding the foreign-based duo of Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho, for upcoming international friendlies.

The list, released on Tuesday by the Communications Department of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), however, has as usual team captain Ahmed Musa, as well as forward Moses Simon.

The list was released ahead of the international friendlies against the “A” Men National Teams of Mexico and Ecuador, scheduled for the U.S.

The Super Eagles will clash with CONCACAF powerhouse Mexico at the AT & T Stadium in Dallas, the State of Texas on May 28.

They will then head to New Jersey to tackle Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison on June 2.

Yusuf, who is also Head Coach of the CHAN and national under-23 teams, has included home-based goalkeepers Adewale Adeyinka and Ojo Olorunleke who are to support the returning Maduka Okoye.

He also called up defender Ibrahim Buhari, and forwards Victor Mbaoma and Ishaq Rafiu, with the home-based players being two goalkeepers, two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards.

NAN reports that only 25 of the 30 players will make the final list for the tour, which is preparatory for June’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying matches.

The qualifiers are against Sierra Leone in Abuja (June 9) and São Tomé & Príncipe in Marrakech, Morocco (June 13).

Full list of invited players:

Goalkeepers: Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba International FC).

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England)

Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Isa Ali (Remo Stars); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey)

Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ibrahim Buhari (Plateau United)

Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England)

Chiamaka Madu (Rivers United); Babatunde Afeez Nosiru (Kwara United); Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey)

Samson Tijani (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria); Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)

Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England)

Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, The Netherlands); Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba FC); Ishaq Rafiu (Rivers United)

 

News Sports

Other sporting disciplines put Ghana on the map long before football – Nii Lante Vanderpuye

Former Sports Minister, Nii Lante Vanderpuye says successive governments’ concerted investment into the game of football against other sporting disciplines is largely responsible for the framing of football as the passion of the nation.

According to him, prior to football gaining the prominence it now has in the country; it was sporting disciplines such as athletics and boxing that were earning Ghana international recognition on world sporting stages.

He stated that after Ghana won her first AFCON cup, the attention of successive governments shifted from these other disciplines to football contributing to their decline.

““I don’t agree with you saying football is the passion of the nation. We have made football the passion of the nation. If you look at our history, our sports history, other disciplines apart from football were the ones who really put Ghana on the map before football. Athletics, boxing, these other disciplines won medals for this country before we won our first Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.

Speaking on special edition of JoyNews’ PM Express hosted by George Addo Juniour, he added that the over-concentration of successive governments on the development of football has negatively impacted the development of the other sporting disciplines.

He said there is the need for a new development roadmap to bring back those other sporting disciplines into prominence.

“You and I were in this country when at a particular time we decided that in the interest of football, let’s kill athletics by moving all the tartan tracks from Accra Sports stadium for example, because we gave so much emphasis, so much interest, so much passion to football that we thought at that moment in time wwe thought athletics was not even necessary.

“That’s one of the factors that has contributed to the strengthening and sustainability of the interest that was generated with the Milo Schools and Colleges Sports, the …athletics and all the others we initiated. So systematically our own actions have affected the rest of the disciplines,” he said.

He added that “Today you and I will agree that since the construction of the Bukom boxing arena for example, boxing has seen some interest. People coming from outside the country, coming into Ghana to engage in fights. Hitherto, our boxers were always going out to Togo, to Nigeria, and other places to fight.”

The special edition of PM Express headlined by the Joy Sports team is an initiative to kickstart a campaign to get government and corporate Ghana to invest heavily in the development of sporting disciplines other than football in the country.

News Sports

Nigeria vs Mexico: Super Eagles coach announces squad for friendly match (full list)

 

Super Eagles’ First Assistant Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has listed 30 players, including eight home-based professionals, excluding the foreign-based duo of Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho, for upcoming international friendlies.

The list, released on Tuesday by the Communications Department of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), however, has as usual team captain Ahmed Musa, as well as forward Moses Simon.

The list was released ahead of the international friendlies against the “A” Men National Teams of Mexico and Ecuador, scheduled for the U.S.

The Super Eagles will clash with CONCACAF powerhouse Mexico at the AT & T Stadium in Dallas, the State of Texas on May 28.

They will then head to New Jersey to tackle Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison on June 2.

Yusuf, who is also Head Coach of the CHAN and national under-23 teams, has included home-based goalkeepers Adewale Adeyinka and Ojo Olorunleke who are to support the returning Maduka Okoye.

He also called up defender Ibrahim Buhari, and forwards Victor Mbaoma and Ishaq Rafiu, with the home-based players being two goalkeepers, two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards.

NAN reports that only 25 of the 30 players will make the final list for the tour, which is preparatory for June’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying matches.

The qualifiers are against Sierra Leone in Abuja (June 9) and São Tomé & Príncipe in Marrakech, Morocco (June 13).

Full list of invited players:

Goalkeepers: Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba International FC).

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England)

Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Isa Ali (Remo Stars); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey)

Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ibrahim Buhari (Plateau United)

Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England)

Chiamaka Madu (Rivers United); Babatunde Afeez Nosiru (Kwara United); Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey)

Samson Tijani (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria); Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)

Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England)

Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, The Netherlands); Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba FC); Ishaq Rafiu (Rivers United)

 

News

Government to maintain current Black Stars technical team for 2022 World Cup – Sports Minister

Sports Minister, Mustapha Ussif, has announced that government and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) have agreed to maintain the current Black Stars technical team for the 2022 World Cup.

He said he expects the GFA to finalise talks and announce to the public that there will be no changes to Ghana’s technical team ahead of the tournament.

The GFA is currently negotiating with Dortmund to have Black Stars Coach Otto Addo lead the team to the 2022 World Cup on a part-time basis, although some have said they favour a full-time coach.

“The decision by the Ministry is that, the GFA should maintain the technical team that got us to qualify for the World Cup. The GFA is working very closely with the technical team to come up with the arrangements.

“Very soon, they would announce officially, led by Otto Addo, to take us through the World Cup participation and also the AFCON next in Ivory Coast,” the Minister said.

Government to maintain current Black Stars technical team for 2022 World Cup - Sports Minister
Interim Black Stars head coach, Otto Addo

He also assured that Ghana’s e-ticketing has come to stay and explained that entry to state-owned stadia will be by e-ticketing, henceforth.

Entry to sports stadia has been an issue over the years because of the lack of a uniform ticketing platform that has incurred financial losses to the National Sports Authority (NSA) and sometimes stampedes at entry points.

But the Minister assured that e-ticketing is the way to go now, stressing that government will not back down.

News

All four Black Stars technical team members will be maintained – GFA spokesperson

Director of Communications at the Ghana Football Association, Henry Asante Twum, has confirmed to Luv FM that all four technical team members of the Black Stars who masterminded Ghana’s qualification to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, will be maintained.

According to him, negotiations with all the four technical team members – Head Coach Otto Addo, Technical Advisor, Chris Hutton and assistants; Masaud Didi Dramani and George Boateng – have been completed.

Speaking on Luv FM’s “Kickoff” Sports Show, the FA spokesperson revealed that the only outstanding issue is settling on figures and duration of their various contracts.

“Clubs who own these individuals have been engaged, we have crossed that carpet, the individuals involved have been engaged and we have crossed that carpet as well, we are talking figures. Figures that include tenure and terms and period of engagement, that is where we are now,” he said.

Mr. Asante Twum also revealed that GFA is currently engaging the Ministry of Sports on proposals for remuneration which is expected to be concluded soon.

“In talking figures, the FA is not alone, we do it with the Ministry. Yesterday, we met with the Minister on some other issues, but we still engaged him on this matter and the Minister asked for a formal communication in that regard. The General Secretary is working on it and in the coming days, we will iron out all the nitty gritty and the minor issues and once all is done and agreement is reached, there will be an official communication from the FA,” he stated.

Ghana is expected to start its 2023 AFCON qualifying campaign against Madagascar at the Cape Coast stadium early next month.

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LeGyanDary: Asamoah Gyan writes about his famous ‘malaria goal’ against Algeria

One of the most anticipated sports autobiographies in Ghana’s recent history was launched on April 30.

‘LeGyanDary’, by former Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan, will hit the bookshelves this month after a star-studded launch led by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.

Joy Sports, in collaboration with King-Dawie Publishers, will give readers excerpts of the book.

Here, Gyan takes us to what he considers one of his most memorable performances as a Black Star: when, despite being very ill with malaria, his late, late goal qualified Ghana past the group stage at AFCON 2015.

*

We faced the might of Algeria on a cold evening on Friday, 23rd January, 2015. I walked onto the pitch breathless, looking pale and sickly but yet with the heart of a warrior ready to cause damage to the opponent. My body wanted to sit down but my love for the team and my country wouldn’t let me.

The game started and I had a chance but couldn’t do much with the ball. The Algerians, realising how unwell I was, kept pushing me off the ball at the least opportunity. I kept pushing on but lacked the characteristic sharpness of my play. The team tried to keep the game going by helping me in attack. Everyone realised how ineffective and out of place I was on the field.

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan strikes late to give his side victory over Algeria | Africa Cup of Nations 2015 | The Guardian

It was so bad that the coach called me and asked if I was ready to be subbed. I know how much respect Avram had for me and coupled with the fact that I was a captain, he understood the need for me to be supportive of his actions. I explained to him that I had the inkling that I would score and he should give me some more time. I felt there was something ahead that would open up a chance for me to get that all-important goal.

During halftime, things seemed gloomy but my presence in the dressing room uplifted the team. I encouraged them not to give up and push harder. I told them we had victory assured and after the 90 minutes, we would be victorious. Avram stood smiling at the passion with which I spoke. I am sure he enjoyed watching the captain exert himself this well on the other teammates. We returned to the pitch with a lot of confidence.

In the second half, things got tougher for me. I felt awful. My whole body ached, excruciatingly. I took each step with great difficulty. Running left me breathless. Each attack saw me gasping for air. The earth would be spinning at times and I had to steady myself.

Afcon-2015: Gyan produced magical performance Against Algeria | News Ghana

The Algerians had a clear chance to score but they missed after the shot went wide of the goal. It was still a goalless draw in the 90th minute. As I trudged along the pitch, I wondered if my presence had counted for nothing. Was all the pain in vain? Had I risked my life for nothing at all?

I reminded myself that I had done my bit and pushed as hard as I could and even if we drew the game, I had done my bit to ensure the team qualified. In the 92nd minute, the worth of that sacrifice was seen. Wakaso had the ball in our half. He saw me making the run. Till date, I still wonder why he took that chance to try and reach me.

I mean I had been woeful through the game and lacked any possibility of getting a goal. But he still believed in me. He hit the ball towards me. It was a long pass from our half to attack. When the ball was in mid-flight, a lot of things went through my mind. Should I chase and see what comes out of it? Or I should just let it go.

Last-gasp Asamoah Gyan seals dramatic win for Ghana - Eurosport

I was exhausted after running around for 90 minutes. But when the ball hit the ground I knew I could do it. It was a do or die affair for me. I knew this was less than a half-chance but everything was possible.

*

How did this chapter end? Click here to get the book now from the official LeGyanDary store or click here to order from BookNook.

News

Full text: Ghana at a Crossroads – A presentation by John Mahama

Comrades, ladies, gentlemen, my brothers and sisters. Thank you for making time to join me, tonight, those here in person, and the millions from across our beloved country and the world, via the power of information and communication technology.

Some of you may not know this but I loved and studied history all the way to university level and one of the books that absolutely enthralled me was a book titled “Makers of Civilisation.”

In that book you will find many figures from the past – men and women whose names have been written in letters of gold and who have been immortalized; remembered through the ages. Some of these celebrated historical icons were artists, physicians, engineers, philosophers, military figures, kings, pastors who changed the world by boldly stepping out and challenging the status quo.

In the spirit of May Day and the celebration of workers, I say Ayekoo to us all, for our continuous contribution to the success of this country and its development. Just like the past, there are many gallant workers of today whose stories would have regaled and inspired us if told.

If there was ever any doubt, we know from history that you are the people who make our society and our nation what it is. We must join hands to ensure that we restore our nation on the path to prosperity and opportunity for all our people.

We have always sang the first stanza of our national anthem, which asks for God’s blessings on our homeland Ghana and enjoins us to resist oppressors’ rule. Many have not taken the time to observe the second stanza of our national anthem. The lyrics bear reflection:

Hail to thy name, O Ghana,

To thee we make our solemn vow:

Steadfast to build together,

A nation strong in Unity,

With our gifts of mind and strength of arm,

Whether night or day, in mist or storm,

In every need, whate’er the call may be,

To serve thee, O Ghana, now and evermore.

This stanza calls for a nation strong in unity and enjoins us with our gift of mind and strength of arm to serve our motherland Ghana, now and evermore.

This is a call to service to our motherland, a call requiring that every one of us, regardless of background, religion, ethnicity, profession, political orientation, economic status, age or gender unite while offering the gifts of our mind and strength of our arm.

Sitting on the fence is not an option in nation building. History will not remember us kindly if we accept the gradual degradation of our society and do not make an attempt to inspire ourselves to make a difference in our generation.

A NATION AT THE CROSSROADS

Countrymen and women, Ghana our dear nation is at a Crossroads, and we must tarry a while and reflect deeply on the road that we must take. The wrong choice leads us down an easy path of chaos and destruction. The right choice would lead us up a path of prosperity and dignity, but with hard work and sacrifice.

My countrymen and women, I can assure you that as our forebears did in the past, if we come together – united as one – there is no task that will be insurmountable.

The future is bright if we rebuff those who seek to divide us for their personal gain, and if we open the opportunities of our country to all our citizens irrespective of ethnicity, political affiliation, age or gender.

Thirty years have passed since President Jerry John Rawlings of blessed memory, appended his signature to the newly drafted Constitution of 1992, which made an irrevocable commitment to a return to democratic rule and constitutional governance.

In the period preceding that moment, which set in motion what has turned out to be the most stable and enduring period of governance in our history, we have plunged from the heights of the Black Star of Africa. From the lofty ambitions of the post-independence era, to the depths of economic catastrophe, institutional decay, corruption, and despondency.

Our life as a nation had been checkered with multiple governance experiments alternating between civilian and military administrations. The several starts and stops led to a situation where, by the 1980s, our circumstance seemed intractable.

The economy was in complete shamble and growing negatively. There appeared no way out of the stranglehold of poverty and despair, and we teetered on the brink of national collapse.

After a decade of stabilization by the then PNDC regime, which involved confronting and overcoming such problems as economic recession, hyper-inflation, prolonged droughts, devastating bush fires, shortage of basic commodities among other serious socio-economic problems, it became clear enough, that the broad masses of the Ghanaian people yearned for a return to democratic governance.

Thus, began the process to fulfil their genuine aspirations through a participatory and inclusive approach. The product of that process, the 1992 constitution, ushered in the fourth republic and set us apart from our peers in the sub-region as having, perhaps, the most advanced democracy in West Africa and one of the very best in Africa.

The constitution itself was a remarkable piece of work that contained elaborate provisions, which captured and guaranteed the fundamental human rights of all Ghanaians including those of speech and association.

It had extensive provisions on media freedoms and offered directive principles of state policy around which governance was to be conducted. The constitution also laid down a governance framework which emphasized checks and balances with the creation of independent state institutions with clear mandates to work towards the consolidation of democratic governance and the protection of rights.

And best of all, it was a constitution drawn up by the mass of our people – including teachers, nurses, fishermen, farmers, security personnel, butchers, traders, hairdressers through a consultative assembly.

With democratic governance fully restored, we surged forward together in the journey of nationhood with the hope and aspiration that the misfortunes of our past were well and truly behind us and that the tentative steps we took then would ultimately deliver the progress we desired.

Thirty years after these events, Ghana stands at a crossroads!

A BROKEN SOCIAL CONTRACT

Since the first elections were held under the fourth republic some thirty years ago, there have been three changes in governments. Each of these changes has been heralded by expectations of better governance leading to tangible improvements in the socio-economic conditions of our people.

The NPP government came into office in January 2017 on the back of mouthwatering promises of almost instant transformation of our country amid countless slogans. President Akufo-Addo did promise to change Ghana in eighteen (18) months if voted for. Yes, he promised to turnaround the fortunes of Ghana and create opportunities for all and take care of everyone in 18 months.

A significant number of our citizens associated the promises with good and noble intentions. In return, and despite our best efforts, the Ghanaian people offered the NPP a clear mandate to steer the affairs of our dear country.

An assessment of our current conditions shows that what is happening now bears very little or no resemblance to what was promised. There is a sharp disparity between promise and practice.

Today, most Ghanaians feel they were hoodwinked, and this is manifesting in their personal livelihood and their daily struggles.

Perhaps, the most defining challenge of our time is making the economy work for everybody. Over the last several months, our political space and societal reaction has been dominated by discussions on the challenges with introducing more taxation.

These conversations have been against the backdrop of unparalleled cronyism and nepotism, breaches of the basic tenets of conflict of interest, transparency and accountable governance, and misplaced spending priorities by the President and his inner circle.

On top of these is the subjugation of independent constitutional bodies to the whims and caprices of the President and his cronies. The painful epiphany is that in Ghana today, the frustrations of the Ghanaian people are at an all-time high.

We are well and truly at a crossroads! A crossroads that is acutely complicated by the doubt and the fear experienced by the next generations, that they face a future that carries no expectation of success in their lives.

For most Ghanaians, the feeling of despondency and hopelessness is real and personal. It is exacerbated by a dangerous trend of growing inequality and lack of upward social and economic mobility in addition to a calculated effort at constraining social justice.

Interestingly, the condescending responses from government officials to public complaints have often accentuated the frustration and anger of the people.

A government bereft of ideas has resorted to incarceration of critical voices, name calling of the citizens, and unfair categorisation of the labour force and huge numbers of unemployed youth as lazy and underserving. Worse of all, the government has been using chaotic shouts and insincere technical analysis laden with dubious comparisons and outright untruths to manage the narratives.

Another worrying trend is the bastardisation of independent constitutional bodies, obfuscating their objectivity and introducing deliberate constraints on their ability to act independently and in accordance with their mandate.

This deliberate strategy has resulted in heavily politically coloured and conflicted persons assuming positions within such institutions, alongside the swift dismissal of persons who have dared to act in an independent and fair manner. The Domelevo’s of our time.

The cumulative effect of these travesties on this crossroads that Ghana has reached, is unparalleled shambolism and lack of substantive accountability in the management of national affairs.

ECONOMIC MISMANAGEMENT AND HARDSHIPS

On the economic front, Nana Addo and the NPP pledged to transform Ghana within 18 months, grow our economy at double digit, reduce borrowing, ensure fiscal discipline, bring down the cost of living, lower taxes and protect the public purse. They promised to move Ghana “from taxation to production.”

In effect, none of these has been achieved. Instead, Ghanaians have been subjected to excruciating hardships and deprivation resulting directly from the mismanagement of the economy by a government that lacks the humility to accept responsibility, and the capacity to appropriately diagnose the root causes of the challenges that have brought us here.

Rather, they constantly seek to impose on us, their version of the economic reality – denying that food prices have gone up; insisting that the business climate is favourable; virulently protesting the evidence that their investments in meaningful capital expenditure is insignificant; and ignoring glaring evidence of unprecedented levels of corruption and breaches of internationally acclaimed standards of social justice.

This government contests even the most basic and glaring set of facts. This should never have been the case for a government that has been fortunate to receive far more resources in the last five years than almost all governments before them under the fourth republic, put together.

At the last reckoning, over GH¢ 500 billion had been available to them through taxes, grants, borrowing and other sources of revenue. No government in our recent history has been that fortunate.

Despite this fortune, today, the Ghanaian economy ranks among the worst managed in the world. It is characterized by unsustainable public debt due to an unprecedented fiscal deficit, comparatively high and still rising inflation, a rapidly depreciating currency, spiraling cost of doing business, ever rising cost of living, high levels of corruption, abuse of civil and human liberties, and a general loss of investor confidence. Simply put, our country is on the verge of bankruptcy.

In spite of the firm promise to reduce borrowing, this government has increased our public debt to almost GH¢ 380 billion as of the end of the first quarter of 2022. This is more than three times the debt of all governments since the days of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah up to January 2017.

A direct consequence of this astronomical borrowing is that our debt service obligation per annum has increased by 500% from GH¢10 billion in 2016 to about GH¢50 billion now. We are at great risk of defaulting on our debt repayments unless something drastic is done.

To be clear, despite the heavy politicisation of debt by the current administration while in opposition, the real problem we face is not just because of the daunting large size of the debt value. Rather it is the stark reality that these huge levels of borrowing have not gone into infrastructure and capital investment but have been applied, largely, to consumption, and in some cases even misapplied.

This heavy borrowing has not been met by a commensurate and significant improvement in the size of the economy to ease repayment of the debt in future.

My brothers and sisters, an important and yet very disturbing variable, often ignored in our national discourse about the debt situation, is the corresponding ballooning of government indebtedness to local businesses and other statutory bodies including SOEs.

These issues must occupy an important space within national discourse because our estimation is that government’s liabilities to local businesses and other stakeholders exceed GHC30 billion.

Arising directly from the excessive borrowing to fund consumption related expenditure is the harsh truth that, more than half of what government collects in taxes is used to service debt with the remainder going almost exclusively into public sector wages. This has created self-inflicted rigidities that leave very little space for investment in other important areas of the economy.

The effect of this, is that government is unable to meet its spending obligations in the most critical sectors of the economy on which the livelihoods of millions of our people depend.

It is little wonder therefore that out of a total of annual collection of GH¢ 2.1 billion under NHIL, as at end 2021 only GH¢ 127 million (about 6%) had been released to the Authority.

This is stifling the ability of health care providers in the private and public sectors to provide adequate care for the mass of our people.

My brothers and sisters, in the hands of a more responsible and prudent administration, the resources that have been available to this administration, should have resulted in quantum leaps in the standard of living of Ghanaians and we should have recorded major progress as a nation.

After inheriting a stable economy that was programmed and poised for rapid growth from early 2017, this government has squandered its way into a ditch from which it has become impossible to emerge without imposing even deeper hardships and suffering on Ghanaians.

The minimum expectation was that the NPP government will build on the strong foundation that had been bequeathed them and achieve incremental progress over what they met. They have instead carried out a demolition exercise of that foundation and left our economy in quicksand, sinking at an alarming rate.

However, now we know, that responsibility and prudence are not concepts that appear to be appreciated by this government.

As we speak, the cash crunch arising out of the rigidities in the economy is having a devastating toll on almost all sectors of our national life.

Take the education sector for instance.

At the basic level,

  • Capitation grants have been in arrears for nearly a year.
  • Textbooks have not been supplied to basic school pupils for three straight years

At the SHS level,

  • Lengthy delays in the release of funds have crippled the Free SHS program compelling key stakeholders like CHASS and GNAT to issue ultimatums to government
  • There have been widespread reports of food shortages and nutrition deficient, poor quality food in schools across the country and,
  • The academic calendar has become erratic due to non-availability of funds to run the schools

At the tertiary level,

  • UTAG recently ended a protracted strike action to call on government to honour its commitment on salary rationalization and better conditions of service. The UTAG strike severely undermined teaching and learning on our various campuses
  • College of Education students have spent more time at home than in school because of the lack of funds and;
  • Trainee allowances have been in arrears for several months amidst threats by school authorities to shift the cost of feeding unto students in the absence of timely release of funds by government.

The government’s mismanagement of the GETFund has not helped matters in the education sector.

Similar liquidity challenges permeate all sectors of the economy. Elsewhere, the District Assemblies Common Fund still stands in arrears of several quarters – endangering our accumulated mileage in local government administration.

LEAP beneficiaries who depend on a very meagre quarterly stipends for survival have also in recent times been denied access to these payments for many months, condemning them to intense and perilous hardships.

As I said earlier, NHIS service providers are owed several months arrears and are sparingly paid for their service. This is due to the illegal diversion or misapplication of attributable funds.

Related to this is the reckless collateralisation of various funds to satisfy current consumption needs, and worse of all is the government’s express desire to collateralise more of such funds:

  • They have collateralized ESLA till 2035,
  • They have collateralized almost GH¢10 billion of GETFUND revenue through the 7-year Daakye bond and
  • After mortgaging all the family property, they are desirous of selling off the remaining family cutlery by collateralizing our mineral Revenue through the dubious Agyapa Deal.
  • And it is expected that they are in the process of collateralising the revenues from the recently implemented E-levy.

Countrymen and women, yesterday at the May Day address, the President stated that it is not possible to remove taxes off petroleum products because it will result in an inability to pay public sector wages. What he did not tell workers was that some of those taxes cannot be removed because they have been collateralized and the money has already been spent.

ESLA when it was introduced had a 5-year lifespan to pay down legacy energy sector debts. Today ESLA cannot be removed as a petroleum tax because this government has spent the money upfront and has collateralised ESLA till 2035.

This entirely unwholesome practice of concealing debt through the collateralization of statutory funds for the contraction of loans must be curtailed. Hidden debts have never helped anyone let alone a nation.

Hidden debts will catch up with you as it has the effect of increasing the public debt while creating a false sense of security because those debts ostensibly sit on the books of state-owned enterprises or special purpose vehicles.

For example, whereas the Bank of Ghana in its latest Summary of Economic and Financial Data pegs our public debt at GHS 351.8 billon with a debt to GDP ratio of 80.1% at the end of 2021, the actual debt stood at GH¢362 billion when you factor into the equation, debts sitting in the names of GETFund, ESLA, and Sinohydro.

Thankfully, the strong will of the people, civil society and the NDC legislators applied the brakes to the Agyapa Deal. We must be determined to defeat the Agyapa Deal if they resurrect it – This can only be the actions of an ‘Agya boni’ and not an ‘Agya pa’.

This grim economic situation has inevitably caught the attention of the global investor community and rating agencies leading to a total loss of confidence in our economy.

Due to this loss of confidence – confirmed by our worst ever downgrade from reputable rating agencies, such as Fitch and Moody’s – we have been shut out of the international bond market since October last year and are set to remain shut out for the whole of 2022 unless the economic outlook improves significantly.

The resulting panic reaction – from the grim economic reality, the mixed and conflicting messages and outright untruths from government actors – has led to significant capital flight by businesses and international actors within our domestic bond market. And has complicated confidence in an already precarious banking sector that suffered the misfortune of the politically motivated collapse of some of our locally owned banks and financial institutions.

It is estimated that about US$200 million in capital flight occurred in January 2022 alone and the Central bank lost about US$687.6 million in net international reserves between November and December 2021.

This also accounts for the steep depreciation of the cedi since the beginning of this year. Based on this trend and the absence of a credible and innovative plan to stem its fall, some Financial Institutions and analysts have projected that the cedi would end 2022 at GHS 8 or above to the dollar. And almost GH¢ 10 or above to the pound sterling, with fuel prices likely to exceed the GH¢ 10 mark.

Another devastating consequence of the massive fall of the cedi is that it would cause a significant increase in our public debt even without further borrowing. This also means debt servicing will increase beyond the budgeted amount and worsen the rigidities that exist in the 2022 budget.

Moreover, inflation has risen from 8% in March 2021 to 15.7% in February 2022 and to 19.4% in March 2022 – the highest in 13 years, since 2009. There is a genuine concern that inflation could rise even further when the passthrough effect of fuel price increases among others starts to take hold.

This coupled with taxes are fast eroding the disposable incomes of households and has made life simply unbearable for majority of Ghanaians. Compounding the economic hardships, is the ever-looming danger posed by the youth bulge – the unemployment crisis.

Data from the Ghana Statistical Service indicates that our nation is not only experiencing a rise in inflation, but also an all-time high unemployment rate of 13.4 %.

This means millions of young people are wasting away their most productive years in abject disillusionment as the Akufo-Addo and Bawumia government continues to pay lip service to the tragic unemployment menace.

Unemployment is leading to social deviance with a significant uptick in armed robbery, kidnapping, fraud, scamming and ritual murders.

Millions of Ghanaian youth with higher education, are trapped in the situation of a permanent purgatory with no clear indication that they can obtain gainful employment before they turn 60 years and retire from unemployment. Yet the President continues to fritter away the taxpayer’s precious money on luxurious chartered flight and other wasteful engagements.

The resort to ad hoc measures has failed to address the problem – once again, it bears saying that Ghana is at a crossroads – and this current administration has no credible solution at hand.

We proposed a number of initiatives that are still very much the solutions Ghana should implement to help tackle the problem of unemployment – the one million Edwuma Pa Jobs Creation Plan, and the free TVET combined with the National Apprenticeship Programme as contained in our 2020 manifesto.

I repeat that Government can draw on them for implementation because we can create an average of 250,000 jobs every year for the young people of Ghana as we make Ghana a 24-hour economy – three shifts of 8-hours each a day.

We must and the NDC will always support the private sector in various forms to enable them grow and expand their earnings and job openings. A stimulus package, like what we provided to pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the past must be rolled out to other processing and manufacturing sectors.

Our vision behind the establishment of the Ghana EXIM Bank and the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund should not be lost.

LEADERSHIP THAT TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY

In times of anguish and deep national crisis as we are presently witnessing, a convincing and credible response is required from leadership.

The constitutional order we chose for ourselves three decades ago has the immutable principle of accountability as one of its most enduring pillars. Accountability requires those who have the privilege to lead, to periodically render an account of their stewardship.

Since 1993, every President of Ghana, including myself have delivered the message on the state of the nation to Parliament.

It is important for our democracy, which the framers of our Constitution envisaged as the occasion on which the President delivers to the people – the governed – a truthful, principled, and transparent appraisal of the state of the nation, its achievements, and challenges.

This year’s rendition of the address took on an added significance, given the obvious economic distress and widespread hardship that now pervades our nation.

A few weeks ago, President Akufo-Addo performed this constitutional duty and in view of the challenging economic circumstances that now face the citizenry, especially, the poor and the vulnerable, we had all looked forward to an address in which a truthful, objective, and transparent appraisal of the national situation would be presented to the nation.

The occasion offered scope and a unique opportunity for the President to address in concrete terms, the most pressing concerns of the people in these times and rally the nation for the purpose of extricating our vehicle of state from the ditch into which he has led us.

We had hoped that the widespread hardship and suffering that Ghanaians are experiencing in these difficult times will be duly acknowledged, and responsibility taken for the arrogant missteps, wrong policy choices and mismanagement that are mainly responsible for our current situation.

Instead, and rather unfortunately, we were fed the same litany of buck-passing, denial, and nonchalance that the people of Ghana have been served by this President and his government over the last five years. Nothing is ever their fault.

The President’s spirited effort to paint a rosy picture amid national anguish and despair was most disconcerting and gave the clearest indication yet, that the President and his government have fallen prey to the phenomenon of gaslighting!

It is apparent, that those to whom we have entrusted the leadership of this country are yet to grasp the stark reality of our national situation.

As was manifest in his State of the Nation Address, President Akufo-Addo and his Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT), have sought to shirk and deflect responsibility for the economic mismanagement that has led to these hardships and national economic meltdown.

In the specific case of the Head of the Economic Management Team, who loquaciously postured as the gold standard for economic management while in opposition, we have continued to note his present flight from economic discourse even as the economy tipped into a tailspin.

The issues of debt, taxation and depreciation of the currency which rolled off his tongue in his overzealous and misplaced narratives against the erstwhile NDC administration has become taboo words for him, until an avalanche of public criticism and demands forced him a few weeks ago, to make a pitiful torrent of unconvincing excuses for the disastrous mismanagement of the economy.

A LITANY OF EXCUSES

The list of excuses offered by this government for the economic mess keeps growing by the day. When it has been convenient, COVID-19 has been made the scapegoat and has been blamed for our woes. The Russian-Ukraine war has also featured prominently on the excuses list as have the so-called financial sector clean-up and supposed excess capacity payments in the energy sector.

My brothers and sisters, none of these claims are acceptable.

THE COVID-19 EXCUSE

The facts reveal that while no one can run away from its impact on the global economy, the COVID-19 pandemic paved way for the Government of Ghana to receive an unprecedented windfall that previous governments could only dream off.

Over GHS 30 billion, sufficient to plug the revenue shortfall of GHS 12 billion anticipated for 2020, was made available to this Government from various sources. The funding sources ranged from our development partners to internal buffers like the Stabilization Fund which was set up by an NDC administration, and other generous donors. Namely:

  • 1 billion USD facility from the IMF,
  • 200 million USD from the Stabilization Fund,
  • 430 million USD from the World Bank,
  • 400 million USD out of the 1 billion USD SDR provided to BOG,
  • Over 100 million from AfDB and bilateral partners,
  • 20 billion Ghana Cedis from the BOG

Being a pandemic, COVID-19 affected almost every country on earth including our West African neighbours with who we share similar economic characteristics.

Yet, these neighboring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, have emerged from this pandemic comparatively unscathed and with relatively stronger fundamentals as compared to ours.

Ghana has incurred and recorded astronomical double-digit budget deficits and huge public debts than our West African peers.

Long before COVID-19, it was evident that the economy was being mismanaged. I cautioned against the mismanagement. By 2019, our deficit and debt figures had already reached distress levels. This is a fact which was recently corroborated by the World Bank through its country representative in Ghana.

Unprofessionally, the real figures were always grossly understated under the guise of “appendices, memorandum and below the line items” in our budgets. It is this creative accounting and cooking the books deliberately done in a bid to conceal the true extent of our economic problems that has eventually caught up with this government.

Instead of making judicious use of the resources obtained because of COVID to cushion Ghanaians against the disease and spending strategically to stimulate people-centred economic recovery, the Akufo-Addo administration saw this windfall as an avenue for wasteful expenditure and a conduit for unmerited electoral success.

The people of Ghana demand an independent forensic audit into how the COVID-19 monies were spent.

THE RUSSIAN UKRAINIAN CONFLICT EXCUSE

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict cannot possibly be responsible for the suffering Ghanaians are going through. The suffering predates the war. Before this conflict, our currency had been depreciating and was impacting negatively on fuel and commodity prices in our markets. Fuel prices had gone up on more than forty different occasions since 2017 before the Russian-Ukrainian conflict started.

THE FINANCIAL SECTOR BAILOUT EXCUSE

The about GHS 25 billion which the government claims to have spent on the financial sector clean-up was a conscious policy decision made without due regard to superior alternatives like bailing out those banks with far less money, recovering assets and holding the people responsible for the mismanagement of the banks to rigorous account, through due process.

It was the NDC government that conducted the Asset Quality Review which determined that the banks in question were in distress. We then proceeded to pass appropriate enabling legislation to give the force of law to the actions that were deemed necessary to address the situation.

The laws included the Banks and Specialized Deposit Taking Institutions Act (Act 930) and the Ghana Deposit Protection Act (Act 931). Our objectives had always been to: avoid the collapse of these banks; to preserve and strengthen Ghanaian presence and participation in the Financial Sector which we viewed as a strategic economic objective; protect depositors’ investments; and protect the jobs of tens of thousands of employees of the banks.

The total cost of our bail-out plan was estimated at a maximum of GHS 9 billion. This was going to be recovered in due course when the Banks had been returned to sound management and profitability. But the outcome of the 2016 elections hampered our ability to fully implement this plan.

The logical expectation was that this government would continue from where we left off. But they chose to go for the nuclear option. They collapsed indigenous Ghanaian banks, some of which had been built from the hard work of our citizens and from scratch and had existed for decades and opted to pay depositors to the tune of GH¢25 billion.

Doubts however remain about the accuracy of this figure given that the Bank of Ghana reports only GH¢ 16 billion in its Summary of Economic and Financial Data.

A government that decides to spend a colossal GH¢25 billion on a GH¢ 9 billion problem and actively seeks political plaudits for same, cannot turn around and pass it off as reason for the current economic crisis.

THE EXCESS CAPACITY PAYMENTS EXCUSE

The claim that GH¢17 billion has been spent on excess capacity payments in the energy sector and that it has contributed to the economic crisis is clearly untrue.

To mislead Ghanaians into accepting this dubious narrative, this government has deliberately peddled untruths about our power generation capacity and its evolution.

They have claimed that the NDC government added power generation capacity that we did not need and that due to ‘Take or Pay’ clauses in the power contracts, they have been forced to pay US$1 billion to Independent Power Producers (IPP) every year, since 2017.

The truth is that, in the NDC’s 2012 Manifesto which formed the basis for our election and mandate to govern between 2013 and 2017, we made a clear promise to ramp up our power generation capacity which at the time hovered around 2500MW, to 5000MW by 2016.

We were determined to meet demand which was growing exponentially and to resolve the recurring power deficit that led to crippling power rationing under all governments since the fourth republic began in 1993.

We followed through with this promise and expanded generation capacity with the completion of the Karpower and Ameri Plants. We also commenced work on the Cenpower, AKSA, Amandi and Early Power plants. By 2020, these plants had taken our generation capacity above 5000 MW in line with our objectives.

As we speak, available data shows that total installed power generation capacity is 5,367MW. Out of this, only a little above 3,861MW is actually available and can be relied on.

Countrymen and women, as an illustration, on March 18, 2022, our peak demand climbed to 3,469 MW which means that only about 392 MW excess capacity existed to be relied upon if any of the plants had broken down that day.

This 392MW falls far short of the 18% excess margin (about 695 MW) which the energy commission recommends Ghana should have to keep the system running safely.

In plain terms, this means that now, we do not have sufficient power to meet peak demand and have adequate reserve margin to meet any emergency. This, in turn, means that we stand the real risk of suffering crippling power rationing if any of the available plants should develop major faults.

What, therefore, is the basis for the often-repeated claims of excess capacity for which we are told US$1 billion is paid to IPPs annually? Exactly where is that excess capacity considering the facts, I have shared with you?

Put to strict proof under Parliamentary scrutiny, the Finance Minister disclosed only last year, that US$937 million had been paid in total for excess capacity from 2017 to 2020.

It is inconceivable that any leader in these times of crisis and hardships would seek to shirk responsibility, absolve himself of blame and fail woefully to show leadership.

It is the duty of leaders to acknowledge problems, take responsibility and move swiftly to address them as I did when confronted with the power challenges in my time.

I could have conveniently blamed the age-old underinvestment in the energy sector, but I was acutely aware that Ghanaians did not elect me to complain and blame others for problems, so I moved to fix it. And I fixed it.

President Akufo-Addo and his Head of the Economic Management Team must imbibe this key leadership attribute of taking responsibility especially in circumstances where the overwhelming evidence shows that our present dire economic straits is the direct outcome of their poor economic policy choices and wasteful expenditure.

E-LEVY AND WASTE OF PUBLIC FUNDS

Governments since the 4th Republic have all invested in digital infrastructure in order to modernize our economy. In my time as President, we laid the most extensive number of kilometers of fibre optic cable and further provided 4G LTE wireless broadband in order to bring all parts of our country into the new digital revolution.

Through these investments we have created the opportunity for Ghanaians to enjoy the ease of electronics transactions. Indeed, Ghanaians have taken to the ease of electronic transactions very well.

Mobile money payments are used for remittances to parents in the villages, they are used in the markets and supermarkets to pay for groceries purchased, they are used by market women and other traders to pay for replenishing their stocks, and they are used at filling stations to pay for fuel and services.

Internet and electronic banking have made it easier to move money from account to account without the use of cheques or cash transfers. This is a positive development for our economy and represents the fastest means of shrinking the informal economy and bringing us all into the formal one.

Unfortunately, in the face of this self-inflicted economic catastrophe, this government against all sound advice has decided to introduce the E-Levy, a regressive tax that heaps more suffering on Ghanaians.

Recently our President was asked in a BBC interview, why he was choosing to tax the incomes of Ghanaians in their electronic wallets that had already been taxed. The President’s answer was that it is the newest and fastest growing sector of our economy that is not being taxed.

Clearly the President did not understand the question, or he is clueless about the regressive nature of the E-Levy. A worker gets paid in his electronic wallet. His PAYE tax has been deducted already. For every transfer or purchase above GHS100 he makes on his e-wallet, he has to pay an additional 1.5% tax.

It will now be tempting for such a person to draw cash from his e-wallet and make the payment for his groceries, fuel, entertainment, utility bills etc. all with cash.

The collection of the E-Levy began yesterday and as though a slap in the face, it began on May Day. Already there is a litany of complaints about the implementation. There are complaints of transfers of under GHS100 being subject to tax contrary to the law.

Government’s desperation to tax Ghanaians to get the nation out of the hell hole it has dumped us will not succeed because Government’s own budget proposals show that the e-levy will not make any significant contribution in resolving our problems but would exert an adverse toll on the people of Ghana.

We in the NDC do not oppose taxation as a principle. We will not be pretentious and couch fanciful slogans to condemn the principle of taxation like the NPP did in the past. We are, however, implacably opposed to distortionary and burdensome taxes like the e-levy that only force Ghanaians to endure more suffering.

A new National Democratic Congress Government, God willing and with the votes of the sovereign people of Ghana – in 2025 – will repeal the E-Levy Act.

Even as this government remains fixated with taxing their way out of economic mismanagement, the Akufo-Addo government has been wasteful. They have failed to demonstrate prudence in public financial management.

The people of Ghana cannot be called upon to pay more taxes only for the accruing money belonging to the people of Ghana, to be dubiously and wastefully shared among family and friends through various fraudulent procurement practices.

The creature comforts of the President and his officials cannot be more paramount than the need to protect the public purse and make savings that can be invested in more useful ventures. Ventures such as: education, health, and social housing for Ghanaians.

The 2020 Auditor-General’s report makes for grim reading within the context of waste and corruption in the use of public funds. The report revealed that a colossal GH¢12 billion was lost to corruption and other forms of financial malpractices in 2020 alone.

This is twice the amount that the unpopular e-levy is supposed to accrue this year. It has also recently come to light that our State-Owned Enterprises made total losses of about GH¢5.3 billion in 2020.

Another report has revealed that up to GHS 9 billion of losses was incurred by Energy Sector SOEs between 2018 and 2021.

How can the taxpayer ever be called upon to pay more when his money is going down the drain in this manner?

MISRULE AND POOR GOVERNANCE

Beyond the economic mismanagement, hardships, unemployment, and other forms of misrule exhibited by this government, are the deeply worrying issues of high-handedness, intolerance for criticism and outright abuse of the rights of citizens deemed to be critical of this administration.

In the last few years, several notable critics of this government and social activists have been subjected to unjustified arrests and prosecutions with some having already served custodial sentences.

It is obvious that this government has become edgy and jittery due to the myriad of problems it has created which have so frustrated Ghanaians and incurred their righteous indignation.

They have therefore developed hyper-sensitivity to the mildest form of criticisms and have evolved a strategy to suppress dissent by making dubious examples of some of the most prominent opposing voices in the media and political space to dissuade others from intensifying the criticism.

I have already cautioned that the penchant for unjustified arrests, detentions and prosecutions poses a grave threat to the freedoms of citizens as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and will mar our good standing as a serious democracy.

Consequently, it comes as little surprise that Ghana’s human rights record has come under such robust scrutiny and scathing indictment in the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the US State Department.

The analysis of human rights violations contained in the report constitute a major setback to the efforts to entrench freedoms and rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution whose 30th Anniversary we just marked last week.

For the first time under the fourth republic, eight Ghanaians were brutally gunned down during elections in 2020 by agents of the state and government and yet no action has been taken against the perpetrators.

It has been over a year since these killings took place, but the President has not taken the trouble to publicly indicate his revulsion at them or even sympathize with the bereaved families. He has refused to acknowledge these extra-judicial killings that made him President. He has also taken no clear action to hold the perpetrators to account.

These killings were preceded by similar unprovoked violent attacks on members of the opposition by militant groups operating under the aegis of this government during the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-elections and at other times.

No Government in our recent history has demonstrated a lack of democratic temperament in dealing with issues of dissent and public criticism than the one headed by Nana Akufo-Addo.

Ghanaians have witnessed a government, which though was popularly elected, in 2016, has behaved more like a Military regime than a civilian one.

The lack of accountability, arrogance of power, human rights violations, pursuit of selective justice, muzzling of the media and critical voices, targeted collapse of opponents businesses, closure of opposition radio stations, state capture, nepotism, politicization, and deliberate undermining of the independence of state institutions among others, are all unfortunate characteristics of Nana Akufo Addo’s administration.

I believe I speak for the NDC and our MPs and Ghanaians when I say, these acts will not break our collective and patriotic resolve to hold this government to account no matter how many times they come after us. Suppression of the opposition and critical voices have never kept any government in power beyond what the people can tolerate.

It can no longer be hidden that this situation has significantly undermined public confidence and the belief of international actors in the neutrality of many state institutions including our Judiciary.

There is a prevailing perception of bias and partisanship which has not been helped by the litany of bizarre court rulings in recent times; some of which clearly defy comprehension and perceived to be designed to further the interest of the executive.

This also threatens investor confidence and our efforts to project Ghana as a viable investment destination because investors expect to have unbiased justice delivery should they require litigation.

Rather than sweeping this under the carpet, we should encourage frank debate over it with the view to building stronger institutions whose fidelity would be to the state and Ghanaians, not political parties, or appointing authorities.

SOME ALTERNATIVES

Ghana is at a crossroads and the need to institute important corrective measures cannot be overstated.

There is no shortage of solutions to our problems. It is the indolence and avid affinity of this government for a cosmetic approach to governance that has brought us here. Thus, we need far-reaching actions from the President and his Economic Management Team to resolve our challenges.

Despite the challenges I remain confident that despite the current gloom, we can turn things around and create a brighter future for ourselves. Ghana’s best days are still ahead.

  1. Those directly responsible for the economic crisis must bear responsibility and it is inconceivable that the Minister of Finance remains at post, having presided over the worst economic meltdown in Ghana’s recent history. The President must, without further delay, relieve the finance minister of his position and appoint someone who is focused on national rather than self-interest and who has the requisite skill, experience, and knowledge of public financial management in his stead. The personal benefit that the current minister and his cronies derives from borrowing on our behalf through the commissions taken by his companies who serve as transaction advisers raises an unacceptable conflict of interest situation which must end immediately.
  1. It goes without saying that the Economic Management Team, has failed and must be reconstituted immediately, with fresh ideas and perspectives. Having supervised the worst public debt buildup, the worst budget deficit, the worst debt to GDP ratio, the worst credit ratings and downgrades, the worst performing currency in the world, the worst crisis of confidence in our economy, the highest fuel prices ever, ever-rising inflation and unprecedented hardships, the current Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT) has clearly fallen from his ivory tower as a self-styled economic messiah to a poster boy for economic mismanagement and his leadership of the EMT is no longer tenable.

He has lost sight of cause and effects relationships in the economic value chain and complains that our dire economic state is due to bad ratings from international agencies, rather than the fact that our dissipating economy resulted in those bad ratings. How does that assure Ghanaians he is focused on the critical things that need addressing?

The EMT has been bedeviled by their own ineptness, over exuberance and excessive focus on linear thinking of a theoretical cause and effect relationship, devoid of the practical influences of complex real-life nuances.

In short, the EMT assumed a laboratory experimental approach, typically found in textbooks, to the extremely complex Ghanaian economy, and analysed the impact of one variable at a time.

I have often said to people, in most cases, when you are analysing the Ghanaian economy and an obvious simple solution comes to mind, THINK, THINK AND THINK again. The consequence of this lack of depth and experience complicated the problems of economic management with excessive, yet costly experimentations that did not yield viable results.

Alternatively, the President may want to consider appointing one of the many highly qualified Ghanaian public finance management experts to lead the EMT.

  1. The President must as a matter of urgency reshuffle his cabinet. More than 5 years of an administration without a major cabinet reshuffle has calcified the management of the Ministries, departments and agencies. These MDAs and SOEs have become fiefdoms in which untouchable Ministers and heads of agencies are now monarchs of all they survey. Yet they lack the energy, passion, and ideas to turn moribund situations within the MDAs around. Fresh ideas are needed. Morale is at a low in these MDAs.
  1. The seriousness of the economic meltdown must compel government to unveil a clear and workable cause of action, emanating from broad based thinking and consultation, rather than its current state of denial and wrong causal attributions. Such broad consultation must lead to a Post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan. A programme that will focus our energies on building an economy whose fruits of growth will benefit all Ghanaians and give everyone a fair chance at success. The participants of this broad-based consultation must reflect the demographic, social and economic status mix of the country.
  1. There must be a clear and measurable reduction in government expenditure. Even though this is not an easy cause of action, it is a necessary one, nonetheless. I will be the first to admit after running the economy on zero percent, 0%, Central bank financing in 2016. However, a crisis such as this requires drastic measures. I am of the view that, an open and transparent discussion of the true situation with the citizenry will help achieve this objective. The President must lead the way in the demonstration of prudence and modesty in the use of public resources.

He must put an end to the ostentation and opulence and show sensitivity and respect for Ghanaians by using the Presidential jet acquired with taxpayers’ money and stop the rental of expensive jets. Only then would he have led by the power of his example, to quote Bill Clinton, to enable Ghanaians make meaning of the sacrifices he is making to get us out of the doldrums. The extravagance must give way to frugal application of public resources. We cannot live beyond our means and expect not to fall into debt and financial ruin.

  1. Related to this, government must drastically cut and trim down its size, rationalise and bring to reasonable levels, the pay packages of CEOs of SOEs, other senior public servants and heads of state organisations. The time has come to look at the practice of providing free utilities and the allowances such as inconvenience allowance, entertainment allowance and other such innovative allowances that are crafted just as income enhancers.

The practice of setting up amorphous and poorly structured public agencies to run one-off, ad hoc policies must also stop and those already created must be merged with more established and time-tested agencies already carrying out similar functions to curtail the needless duplication and waste. There must be a real effort to plug the loopholes that facilitate the unconscionable losses of public funds incurred through financial malpractices as revealed by the Auditor-General and the losses incurred by SOEs. Strict compliance with public financial management rules and laws must be enforced.

  1. Government must limit borrowing significantly. If we all agree we are in an economic abyss, submerged under the suffocating weight of unsustainably high levels of debt and are at risk of default, then the wise thing to do is to limit borrowing. Government must as a matter of urgency issue a moratorium on all non-concessional borrowing to avoid an increase in our public debt. After the issuance of this moratorium, the dithering must stop, and very urgent steps must be taken to confront the debt problem. The stark reality is that in our current situation, it is just not possible to be servicing our debt at the present levels and have any significant resources left to meet critical expenditure obligations.

It is obvious that this government has no plan on how to handle the debt crisis. I note that Government refused to take advantage of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the Common Platform for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI, because of the peculiar nature of Ghana’s debt profile where only about 20% is from multilateral and bilateral partners. The bulk of our debt is from the international credit market and other commercial borrowers with default triggers related to bilateral and multilateral reprieves. Government must open a discussion with the multilateral finance partners and our creditors on a debt restructuring programme which will ease our debt burden and create some fiscal space to allow expenditure in critical sectors of the economy that are currently starved of funds.

Rationalizing and enforcing strict compliance of our tax laws in areas such as the extractive sector, including a pragmatic legislation of the tax exemptions regime can help improve resources inflow. For example, a simple insistence that mining companies relay their export revenues into Ghana, as per the relevant laws, rather than keeping such funds offshore, as is the current case, can help exchange rate stability. We must achieve a national consensus on these alternatives and take proactive steps as soon as possible. The longer we tarry, the worse the situation will get.

  1. While implementing these measures, government must adequately signal to the international finance providers a clear effort at meeting future obligations. Government must commit to using some of the windfalls that we earned from the rising crude oil prices to revitalise the sinking fund in anticipation of future debt servicing. We estimate that the hikes in crude oil prices will translate into a GH¢3 billion or about US$550 million windfall for government this year. Part of this money must go into the sinking fund to build buffers for repayment of the 2025 maturing Eurobond.
  1. Government must also take immediate steps to restore credibility to the management of the economy. A contributing factor to the plummeting of investor confidence in our economy is the practice of underreporting and concealment of key economic indices like the budget deficit, public debt, and Net International Reserves. For instance, the Bank of Ghana must stop adding proceeds of the Heritage Fund and other encumbered funds like Eurobond proceeds to our Net International Reserves to create a false sense that we have more buffers than we actually do.

National data and economic indices should be a matter of fact and not subjected to needless debate and contest. We cannot be debating the factual levels of debt, reserves, inflation, kilometres of roads constructed, number of schools and hospitals built, and whether CAPEX investments should include KVIPs, metric tonnages produced of food items. Ministers must not be contesting reports and data furnished to the public from their own outfits and should not be comparing indices generated from rebased figures to figures prior to the rebasing. In effect government data must be transparent and give a true picture at all times of our national situation.

  1. In addition, government must clarify reports which are rife in the investment community that it intends to use the Heritage Fund as collateral to raise a $ 2 billion loan from a consortium of banks. We wish to serve notice that if this turns out to be true, we in then NDC will oppose it vigorously in the same was that we oppose the Agyapa deal. We cannot support the collateralization of every single source of future revenue just to finance today’s consumption. This practice will deny future governments and future generations the opportunity to benefit from revenue streams accruing from the funds which were originally intended to finance critical sectors of the economy. The Heritage Fund was set up purposely for the benefit of future generations who we cannot saddle with debt and no heritage.

To make certain that this practice doesn’t become the order of day, I would propose the enactment of legislation to stop the collateralization of statutory funds because those funds are now being abused and their original purpose are being seriously hindered.

  1. It is obvious that the assumptions underlying the projections in the 2022 budget especially regarding revenue are overambitious and are unlikely to be achieved considering all that has transpired since the presentation of the budget. Government must revert to more realistic targets and avoid creating further doubts in the minds of investors.
  1. Let me add that it is time to change the structure of our economy by allowing Ghanaians to achieve the popular General Acheampong mantra of “capturing the commanding heights of our economy.” We must increase the GNP of our country as a share of our GDP. Otherwise impressive GDP numbers are mostly the share of foreign investors and subject to repatriation at will.
  1. We must leverage our comparative advantage in agriculture by investing in agribusiness to complete the agriculture value chain in respect of marketing and processing of our agricultural products.

These are some of the interventions government must adopt in earnest. This is not the time for political posturing and display of empty pride. We are staring down the cliff of economic collapse and everyday wasted winds down the clock further.

Action needs to be taken now!

A STRONGER SOCIAL FABRIC FOR SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY

My brothers and sisters, aside reversing the economic decay, I wish to emphasize the need to re-weave our social fabric which is bursting at the seams now. It threatens national cohesion and our democracy as well.

The despair and disenchantment that the economic and social problems have created within our people cannot and should not be underestimated. There are many in our country today, who question the relevance and usefulness of the democratic path we chartered thirty years ago. They see too little progress or hope to convince them that democracy of the sort we are practicing is worth the effort.

I am an unrepentant believer in democracy, and I hold that it is the only viable path to nation building. Disruptions of the constitutional order cannot be an option and would rather worsen a dire situation, but I am also pragmatic enough to realize that mere rhetoric and exhortations about democracy no longer give our people hope, particularly our young people who are desperately searching for jobs or the young families out there whose mortgage plans have been disrupted because the dollar has arrested the cedi. What threatens them must threaten us and jolt us into solution mode.

Of course, I know they also have a responsibility as citizens towards national development, but I also appreciate from my interactions with them that, they do not expect government to solve all their problems. They are not unreasonable!

Therefore, we as political leaders must demonstrate through our deeds that the struggle to restore democratic rule those three decades ago and the flame of hope that was lit in our people has not been in vain. We must restore confidence in the democratic path. We can, if we carry out extensive reforms in our political and governance system and deliver the goods and services they yearn for. This is the way to go so that even in times of crisis, they still see a silver lining at the edge of the clouds. And can wait out the hard times assured that effective and responsive leadership will work in their best interest.

The political elite in Ghana are taking Ghanaians for granted and are governing and using resources in a manner that suggests personal benefit rather overrides national collective benefit. Under no circumstance must personal benefit override national benefit.

The time has come to adopt bold and radical measures to carry our people along so we can win back their trust and confidence to manage the affairs of the state with dedication and sacrifice.

After thirty years of operation, the young people of Ghana expect us to carry out a comprehensive review of our constitution and governance system. They expect a strengthened fight against corruption and waste. They expect modesty and frugality on the part of our leaders. They expect humility and respect from those who lead us.

In the meantime, this current administration must show commitment to building genuine consensus on the matters that concern Ghanaians the most and rally support around a common national cause. I am ready to support this national goal with patriotic zeal. The President must show leadership and take urgent steps at this crossroads to end the dangerous levels of inequality and polarization we see in the country.

To do this, let him respect the rights of all citizens and refrain from the intimidation of the media through hostility and needless arrests of critical voices. Let him end the politically motivated witch-hunts of leading opposition voices. For emphasis, President Akufo-Addo and his Vice President must demonstrate a commitment to the fight against corruption by prosecuting his officials many of whom have engaged in corrupt acts and disarm and stand down his militants he has drafted into the security agencies.

On the security front, this government must weed out the rogue elements it has drafted into the security agencies because they constitute a major threat to society – including robbing bullion vans at gunpoint.

Let the Attorney-General prosecute the killers of those eight innocent Ghanaians who were killed during the 2020 elections as well as the perpetrators of the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence. Let the President be interested in his Attorney General securing justice for Ahmed Suale, the journalist who was killed in cold blood for simply doing his work. And let justice be done in the case of Major Maxwell Mahama, a fine soldier who was lynched at Denkyira-Obuasi in 2017 whiles on duty tour.

These are the measures that can begin to set the tone for a genuine dialogue on building national cohesion and consensus and bring an end to the dangerous levels of polarization and discontent we see and feel around.

There is not a single example of any country in this world where repression of the opposition and dissenting voices or bad governance kept any party or leader in power forever. Eventually change will come because there is only so much that an oppressed, and over-burdened people can tolerate.

President Akufo-Addo inherited a buoyant democracy with strong institutions that made it possible for him and his party to win the 2016 elections. And that happened without a fly being hurt. Let him take those steps that would ensure that he leaves the country in one piece at the end of his tenure in 2025.

At the moment, this government has lost its way and seems ill-suited to govern.

CONCLUSION

Ghana is at a crossroads. The state of our nation is dire and crisis-ridden but in the last few weeks happenings in the football arena have taught us what can happen if we change course and do the right things. This lesson came in the shape of our gallant Black Stars who secured qualification to the 2022 World Cup by defeating a much fancied and vaunted rival.

Dismissed, vilified, and disparaged after their poor showing at the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon, the management of the team effected badly needed changes, which provided a new sense of purpose and direction, the culmination of which is the qualification to the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

Today, that qualification has provided a glimmer of hope on a very gloomy national horizon.

Congratulations once again Gallant Black Stars! My prayers and support will always be with you.

The Black Stars journey to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals provides useful lessons on which we can model responses to the socio-economic disaster of today. If a team written-off by pundits can reinvent itself, work together under the right leadership, and attain international glory; then the answers to our present woes are not far-fetched, they are within us to achieve.

If we work hard at it together – under exemplary and selfless leadership willing to make the right choices and the right calls – we will emerge out of this current crisis better and more united as a nation.

Failure is not an option. We have in our hand, an opportunity to act and do so quickly – at this crossroads – to return hope to our motherland.

God bless you.

I thank you for your kind attention.

News Sports

CAF approves MKO Stadium Abuja for AFCON 2023 Qualifiers

 

The Confederation of African Football (CAF), has approved the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

 

In a letter sent to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), CAF stated that the ground will be used for the 2023 AFCON qualifier between the Super Eagles and and Leone Stars of Sierra Leone next month.

 

This approval puts to an end speculations that the edifice will be barred from hosting international matches in the wake of the crowd disturbances that trailed the second leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana.

 

FIFA has however ruled that the Nigeria vs Sierra Leone game will be played behind closed doors and also announced a fine of $150,000 on Nigeria for the disturbances after that World Cup qualifier.

 

The Super Eagles are in Group A of the qualifiers with Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe.