Saanie at FCP launch

How effective communication can help GFA boost its image

I am writing this article because of a conversation I had with a member of the reconstituted Executive Committee of the Ghana Football Association.

We were actually talking about other things when the member, whom I would not name for obvious reasons suddenly blurted out that the GFA does not have a good image.

I was surprised, but what I remember telling him was that he and other new members of the Executive Committee should try to change that.

Suddenly, my mind veered towards an incident last week.

One of my colleagues, Thierry Nyann, interviewed the British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin on his show on Viasat 1 and the diplomat was asking for evidence that more playing pitches had been constructed with monies coming into the GFA from FIFA.

He also remarked that he sees top guns from the GFA riding in posh cars.

Benjamin’s comments did not go down well with the GFA and Communications Director Ibrahim Saani Daara not only issued a statement calling Benjamin ignorant but on an Accra radio station, made some uncomplimentary remarks about Nyann whose crime according to him was to do the interview in the first place.

But was all that necessary?

I have heard about many people buying into the perception that the GFA is corrupt.

Even though I have had cause to criticize the GFA on several occasions, corruption is something I have never accused the GFA of.

You know why? Because I have not seen any proof to convince me.

What I would say is that the GFA is not transparent enough and as a result, communications policy is always reactive rather than proactive. I will explain with some insight of my own.

Some years ago, when I joined the Division One League Board, those of us on the Board were served food in our first two meetings.

Drinks were served as well, in addition to each of us receiving a sitting allowance of GH¢40 per sitting.

There were 10 of us on the Board at the time and so, allowances alone was in the region of between GH¢1600 and GH¢2000.

This is without the cost of drinks served at every meeting (a minimum of 4 meetings in a month).

This is only for one committee.

So for about 20 committees of the FA, except perhaps the Executive Committee itself, the GFA has to pay a minimum of GH¢40,000 in allowances to committee members.

Add the sitting allowances paid to the Executive Committee and the budget for allowances is shooting towards GH¢100,000 a month.

Then there is the issue of paying salaries to workers at the secretariat which could potentially double or even triple the GH¢100,000 a month.

After doing the computation, then the question to ask is where the GFA gets its funding from.

We all know that FIFA hands in some money every year and the GFA has indeed worked on some FIFA goal projects.

At this stage you might be asking where I am going with all this.

I have just attempted to do what the GFA Communications Directorate should have done all along; trying to reveal the income and expenditure of the GFA for everyone to understand.

For example, how many times has the GFA made public how exactly the FIFA monies are used?

Had this happened, in addition to revealing the expenditure spent on committee members, I doubt that Jon Benjamin would have asked certain questions.

I also have a problem with the way the Communications Directorate reacts sometimes to such questions and criticisms.

Sometimes insults are launched by Saani Daara and for me that gives the GFA a bad name. Daara was a fine investigative journalist in his day but is still yet to get to grips with proactive communication.

What he and his team should be doing is to make the activities of the GFA more transparent and clearer to the public so that everyone sees what the GFA is going through and fewer critical questions are asked.

Sometimes, because of the deafening silence from the GFA on such matters, journalists are compelled to analyse and criticize and in the end, some of such journalists are called liars, fools and indeed described as going bonkers by the Communications Directorate.

All this is rather sullying the public image of the GFA and cannot be right.

Transparency is something the GFA needs to adopt in explaining things publicly.

You would realize that I tried to shed light on the GFA’s expenditure and the figures could even be higher. I will at this stage call on the GFA to let all of us know about the pitches that have been constructed with the FIFA money.

I believe that the GFA has done some work and it will help if we are all told.

I know the immediate riposte would be for my colleagues and myself to visit Prampram and find out for ourselves, but that is not the way to go.

The GFA has to be proactive in telling us some of these things to dispel any notion that the Association is corrupt.

It is a perception but that perception can be dispelled by transparency and the Communications Directorate should take the lead in doing that.

 

By Christopher Opoku