The closing of nominations was a sight to behold at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Secretariat last Friday as the mood of some presidential aspirants created the impression that they had already won the election even before the word go.
As I witnessed the drama first hand, I wondered what could have made some nominees that confident and shuddered to see what could become of them in case they end up on the losing side on that fateful Friday, October 25. From experience, I have come to the conclusion that one can't be too sure about the result of any election, especially in our part of the world where anything is possible during elections.
To avoid any fatality or health complications at the next GFA Extraordinary Congress, I will only advise some of the aspirants to manage their expectations, especially where most of them know the kind of delegates they are dealing with.
Having followed football elections in the country over the past two decades, I can say without any fear of contradiction that money could be a deciding factor. At least, that has been the trend since the last major reforms in 2005.
Believe it or not, another personality who can can decide the next occupant of the GFA seat is the last occupant, Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi. Though Nyantakyi is no longer on the throne, he still has countless loyalists across the football divide. The stark reality is that many a soccer administrator in the football industry owe an allegiance to Nyantakyi following his leadership style. He simply created opportunities for many, both locally and internationally, and also made them comfortable financially.
Interestingly, majority of the presidential aspirants who filed their nominations last week - Wilfred Kweku Osei, Kurt Okraku, Fred Pappoe, George Afriyie, Nana Yaw Amponsah, Amanda Clinton and George Ankamah - are beneficiaries of Nyantakyi's largesse. That is how influential the former CAF Vice President and FIFA Executive Council member is, even now that he is still serving a FIFA ban for an unethical behaviour.
Another characteristic feature of GFA elections is that they don't usually favour newcomers. That is why I don't fancy the chances of any new face this time around. I will, therefore, freely advise any new candidate to manage their expectations and use this opportunity to prepare for future elections. That has been the trend among the football people.
As I promised last week, let me throw this bombshell right here. In my candid opinion, the person who has the level of maturity and experience needed to lead Ghana Football at this point in time is Fred Pappoe, affectionately called Papsay in football circles. I know this will ruffle the next of some people but it is as it is! I know many objective minds in the industry would share this view, though the fact remains that Papsay's chances are slim due to the aforementioned deciding factors. This is not to say that the others are not good enough. I believe each of them has his own own unique qualities which will be highlighted in my subsequent write-ups.
My checks so far indicate that the pro-Nyantakyi aspirants have the edge over the others. Those who are students of Ghana Football politics know the personalities I am referring to. I promise to give more details in my subsequent analysis. However, that is not to say that either of them can win on a silver platter. I foresee this polls to be the one of the most keenly-contested in Ghana's football history.
I wish all the aspirants well to go through the vetting process from Thursday to next Monday to set the stage for a vigorous campaign. However, let me caution the successful candidates to avoid any mudslinging during the campaign since that would end up smearing the FA itself and also scare off potential investors.
As I stated in my previous piece, the composition of the Executive Council (ExCo) is so vital to ensure a new direction for the new GFA. Hopefully, whoever becomes the new GFA president could have some quality materials to work with considering the names which came out at the close of nominations.
Among the solid nominees chasing for the five Premier League slots include veteran George Amoakoh, young promising Fred Acheampong, corporate guru Dr Toni Aubynn, former Exco members Albert Commey and Kingsley Osei Bonsu, Nana Sarfo Oduro and Vincent Sowah Odotei of Hearts fame.
Prominent in the Division One list are nominees such as heavyweight Jones Alhassan-Abu, Alhaji Karim Gruzah, Randy Abbey, Samuel Anim Addo and Sometimer Otuo Acheampong who are chasing for three slots.
I urge the three-man Normalisation Committee to do a thorough job by separating the chaff from the wheat in an objective manner so we don't spend our precious time and energy on any pretender.
Beginning tomorrow when Kurt Okraku will launch his manifesto, through the first week of October when the others are expected to come out with what they have up their sleeves, Ghanaians will have the opportunity to assess and determine who really fits the bill as the next GFA president. Until then, let me hold my fire.