Crying Minister Caught In Fresh Trouble

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Former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, will today continue his evidence to the Justice Senyo Dzemefe’s Commission from his last Thursday’ appearance, where he publicly shed what some have described as “crocodile tears”.

But ahead of his third appearance, “The Herald” has discovered a mind-blowing “Black hole” in the expenditure Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah presented to the Commission, last week.

Though, this paper cannot hurriedly conclude fraud and complicity of Sports Ministry officials, pieces of credible information available suggest something is amiss with respect to the colossal GH¢461.020 (¢4.61 billion old Ghana cedi) blown on the World Cup tournament in Brazil, as advertisement cash.

Preliminary finding on the GH¢461.020 available to this paper, suggest that the massive amount might not have been used for advertisements, as some of the commercials on the World Cup tournament, were published free of charge, although a budget was prepared for payment as per the ex-Minister’s account to the Justice Dzemefe Commission.

The Brazil tournament, was one of the most advertised events in both local and international media, it, therefore, comes as a surprise to many that a poverty-stricken nation like Ghana, will blow this whopping amount on marketing an already marketed worldwide event.

Also shocking, is the enormous amount spent on the development of a website for Ghana’s participation by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Indeed, the internet site was not known throughout the tournament, despite the huge money blown on it. Designing and hosting of many websites are also going for far less than GH¢22, 857 – almost ¢300 million – quoted.

Excerpts of “Expenditure (Ghana World Cup Committee)” sighted by The Herald, had items such as accommodation, feeding, printing, souvenirs, media relations, website and app listed, with corresponding amounts stated.

The expenditure stated a total of GH¢461,020 as allocation for advertisements in the media. But whereas this amount was agreed upon by the World Cup Committee to market the tournament, details emerging appear that the various media houses, were not paid a dime from this amount, as they were made to run the adverts for free.

For instance, members of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), got an email titled “Promo Advert from Ministry of Youth and Sports” sent by the Sports Ministry through PRINPAG’s Executive Secretary, Kenteman Nii Laryea Sowah, for free advert publications in their various private newspapers.

According to Mr. Sowah, a meeting was held between PRINPAG executives, which included Daily Guide newspaper owner, Gina Blay and the Ministry of Sports, led by Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah, where an agreement was reached to have all the private newspapers in Ghana, help the ministry “promote the Black Stars in their quest to conquer the World in BRAZIL 2014”.

PRINPAG’s Executive Secretary in the same mail then sent three different adverts titled “Fanatic Promo” to be published in newspapers, such as the Daily Guide, the General Telegraph, the Finder, the Daily Express, the Insight, the Business and Financial Times, The Herald, The Democrat, among others free of charge.

Yet, months after these free publications, GH¢461.020 (¢4.61 billion old Ghana cedi) has been revealed by the same Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah as what was blown on the World Cup tournament, by way of advertisement.

The same Afriyie-Ankrah, has also mentioned the development of a single website, at a cost of GH¢22, 857 to the Ghanaian taxpayer, while most website developers in the market are developing websites at a paltry GH¢2000 (¢20 million), including hosting, content and management.

In the same evidence, printing and souvenirs were priced at GH¢128, 314.93, accommodation and feeding were pegged at GH¢1,953,096.52 with media relations costing GH¢16, 700. Others on the list were 1849 tickets for three matches totaling GH¢519, 035. 10, medicals were GH¢5, 283.37, transportation at GH¢140, 269 while entertainment cost GH¢76, 370.

The “Fanatic Promo” advert, it will be recalled, was in three folds asking interested Ghanaians and soccer enthusiasts to purchase a raffle and “go for Rio for 70 pesewa”.

Another promo also said “fly off to Rio. Or drive off in two Fiat Lineas, and was titled, “Fanatic Promo” encouraged the public “to simply SMS “SCORE” to 3474”.

Aside the grand prize of two Fiat Lineas vehicles and a trip to Brazil, other consolation prizes were flat screen television sets, smart phones, phone credits, shopping vouchers and footballs.

It is not known, if winners of this promotion have been revealed and presented with the so-called awards.

It is anticipated that the sacked Minister, who now has an office inside the Flagstaff House – Kanda, where he serve as a Minister of State, will today provide some answers on the advert , including providing receipts to justify the expenditure when he appear before the three-man-member presidential Commission of Inquiry.

At last Thursday’s sitting, Afriyie-Ankrah, who was narrating the circumstances leading to the boycott of two training sessions by the Black Stars, at a point held back his words with tears dropping.

The former minister, became emotional and could not continue with his presentation, compelling the chairman of the Commission to step-in and called for a two-minute break. The chairman said, “Don’t be emotional. Please relax. We are not here to attack you, we are here to unravel the facts and put a system in place”.

Justice Dzamefe, told the gathering at the sitting that, “this is not a trial. We are not attacking anyone. We just want to put in place the proper system for the future.

“A lot of things are wrong with the system and we want to correct them, so they are not repeated in future.” He noted.

Closing the sitting, Justice Dzamefe said, “You have finished with your presentation, it’s now our turn to ask you questions. So when we meet on Monday, we shall do that”.

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