Reshuffle: Yet Another Sports Minister!

ONCE again, there is a casualty at the Ministry of Youth and Sports — and that may be no news now.

Mahama Ayariga, the sector Minister, has been removed from office in the latest ministerial reshuffle and reassigned to the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology.

Enter Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, a Minister of State at the Presidency, who now assumes the portfolio as Minister of Youth and Sports.

The decision to replace Ayariga may have come as a surprise to many in view of the fact that he took over the sector ministry barely eight months ago from Elvis Afriyie Ankrah — after Ghana’s ill-fated first round exit at the Brazil 2014 World Cup tournament.

There may be nothing wrong in a reshuffle, but The Times is hugely alarmed by the frequency and rapidity with which sports ministers are changed over the years.

Indeed, between 2001 and 2008, Ghana has had as many as seven sports ministers — from Alhaji Mallam Issah, Rashid Bawa, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Dominic Fobi, and Osei-Kwaku, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu both deceased, to Yaw-Osafo Marfo.

Then came the next government and from 2009 to date, the nation has seen Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, Rashid Pelpuo, Akua Sena Dansua, Clement Humado, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Mahama Ayariga and now Mustapha Ahmed — bringing the total to 14, the number of Sports Ministers in 15 years. Is it not amazing?

What this means is that, on the average, a sports minister is changed every year. This is simply incredible.

It is a very worrying signal, because situations like these do not encourage development in that sector. We wonder the high rate of changes that occur at the ministry. The latest reshuffle has sent us scratching our heads for an answer, but it is impossible to get reason(s) for it.

It is a sad commentary that as a country, we are unable to appoint sports ministers for longer periods to enable them to implement long term policies for the development of youth and sports in the country.

More often than not, the sports ministers are flushed out before they settle down to implement their mission and vision for the sector which, when accomplished, could place it in a better position than it is now.

It is not clear what might have triggered Ayariga’s replacement, but we also feel that it would not be different from other reasons that contributed to the dismissal of his predecessors. It is clear that Mr. Ayariga’s image has been battered in the aftermath of the Black Star’s participation in the 2015 African Cup of Nations, due largely to the manner he handled the issue regarding the expenditure budget of the team to Parliament; and his bust up with the media in which he described a journalist’s question pertaining to the budget, as “useless.”

That “useless” response caused a huge public outcry, which portrayed the otherwise hard working minister in bad light in the eyes of many Ghanaians.

Whatever the case might be, the President and for that matter the government knows best why he must go. Our concern, is the alarming rate at which changes are being made in the sports ministry which, we feel, hinder consistent planning and policy implementation.

The sports ministry no doubt, is a very important portfolio and plays a pivotal role in national development and, therefore, the least Ghanaians can request from government is for it to find the most suitable and qualified person to take charge of the place so that there can be stability for the sustainable development of youth and sports in the country.

Ghana sports is indeed, suffering and the frequent changes of personalities in that ministry is not helping matters.

Like a team that continues to change coaches at the slightest opportunity, we believe that Ghana sports will continue to struggle to make any meaningful impact, if governments fail to find a way of maintaining some level of consistency in that sector.

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