Ebola AFCON 2015: Thank You Mr. President, But….

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Your Excellency,

I trust this piece finds you in great health and vitality. May God continue to grant you the wisdom of King Solomon to deal with the challenges of our dear country.

Mr. President, I seldom write on topical issues because my hands are so full to the extent that I may not be able to keep up with the pace. But a few days ago, I found it compelling to make a plea to your good self and your Sports Minister, to consider turning down an idea which is doomed ‘ab initio’ – the positioning of Ghana as a stand-in host of the 2015 African Cup of Nations football competition.

In that piece, I argued that it will be unwise for Ghana to accept a request from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to host the competition in case Morocco pulls out due to the escalating Ebola epidemic far away in West Africa.

Many more Ghanaians strongly agree that in the middle of an ever expanding Ebola epidemic, hosting a tournament right in the epicentre of the disease is just not on. Indeed, the flat rejection of the request by South Africa on grounds of the Ebola disease and its weakening economic position gave us more reasons why we should not even entertain this request in the first place. Why? It is simple; if Morocco and South Africa which are so far removed from the scene of the Ebola tragedy are concerned about the possible importation of the Ebola by football fans from West Africa, then it would be the greatest folly for us (Ghana) virtually sandwiched in the centre of the disaster to accept to host the tourney.

Mr. President, that is why I was elated when I heard you speaking to the issue in London this week. You made it quite clear that although Ghana has received the request from CAF, your Cabinet has not yet taken any decision on it. In fact I can confidently infer from your statements that you quite agree with us that it is simply impracticable to accept such a request, considering the fact that the tournament is perhaps only some three months away.

But Mr. President, our people say when your neighbour’s beard is on fire, you must fetch a bucket of water close to yours. I say under the circumstances, it is best to rather immerse your beard deep into the water to avoid the risk of it catching the fire by accident. Let us not underestimate the destructive power of the Ebola disease. Nothing could be more agonising than to start counting the number of days left to your death, just because of a fever (Ebola). This is what Ebola is doing to our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Just today, I read a story of some 17 school children in the United States of America suspected to have contracted the Ebola virus because they came into contact with a child who may have been infected.

Mr. President, we cannot wish this for ourselves. Ebola is no respecter of persons. It has claimed the lives of the best doctors and nurses. If it could do so, then please do not delude yourself into believing that you the politicians are protected from it. It is just a matter of time that we start reading stories of top politicians in the affected countries also falling for Ebola. I am not sure you want to be part of that.

Moreso, our health system cannot deal with Ebola. We are already failing terribly in trying to control cholera. This is enough evidence that Ebola will cause a major havoc in this country if it does get here. Let us try to stay away from it as far as possible.

In any case, Mr. President, why is CAF so bent on hosting this tournament even at the peril of human lives? Does Issa Hayatou value the few thousands of dollars he will make on organising the tournament more than the thousands of lives Ebola could claim? All Morocco is asking for is a postponement of the tournament? Is that too much to ask for? Why must CAF write to other countries asking them to consider standing-by to host the tournament when Morocco has not said it was not ready to host? I suggest with all due respect that Mr. Hayatou should go into the centre of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Guide or Sierra Leone and spend just one day hugging and greeting an Ebola infected person as a precondition for any country considering his request. If he is not prepared to do this, then he must not dare force this obviously unwise idea on any country at this time.

Mr. President, our economy is in dire stress. We cannot even get uninterrupted electric power in our homes for more than a day. Talk less of water. Meanwhile, we are paying more and more tariffs to these service providers for the bad service they are giving us. Our roads are full of deep gullies and pot holes because of small rainfalls. Things are hard for us Mr. President. If there is some spare money to spend, please use it to at least get more Personal Protective Equipment for our clinics and hospitals in preparation for the arrival of Ebola; not assisting Issah Hayatou to perpetuate his football dynasty. Better still, I am sure his own country will be prepared to host the Ebola AFCON 2015. So he should take it there. We are not interested. Period!

Mr. President, although I wished you had unequivocally put this matter to eternal rest by an outright rejection of this request, I am still hopeful that the final decision will be nothing else than a rejection.

We are counting on you Mr. President. Do not disappoint us.

May God bless our homeland.

By: James Kofi Afedo
(PR, Media and Crisis Communications Specialist)

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