The West African President’s Guide on How to Effectively Utilize Millions of Dollars

When a presidential aspirant is successful in winning a West African election, the platform of the judicious use of money that the candidate campaigned upon soon becomes a distant memory. The element of frugality, which the electorate had hoped to be applied to the nation’s coffers takes on a new meaning of its own. Although profligacy in West African countries is not uncommon, there have been two recent scenarios of government sanctioned expenditure that have left us all befuddled. One of them is the Nigerian government’s $1.2 million contract with a Washington based PR firm and the Ghanaian government’s decision to fly over $3 million to Brazil to quell a supposed soccer rebellion.

In response to the global criticism of the Nigerian government’s humdrum approach to addressing the growing threat of the Boko Haram terrorist group, the office of the President of Nigeria hired Levick, a Washington public relations firm to bolster its image. The decision to hire Levick cost the West African nation $1.2 million dollars. Some Nigerian officials have come out to defend the Nigerian government’s decision to hire Levick; and they have ascribed the agreement between the two parties as a standard practice in today’s world.

It is true that some companies and individuals employ the services of public relations firms to salvage their image. However, the decision for any country to hire a foreign PR firm in order to save face must be a first. This act however screams desperation on all fronts and a scenario well suited for popular television series Scandal. We assume Olivia Pope and her team of Gladiators were too expensive for the Nigerian government to contract their services. Oscar Wilde was right in his assertion that life imitates art more than art imitates life.

The hiring of Levick lends credence to the argument that Africans truly cannot find solutions for their own problems. It also creates an aura of incompetence around Nigeria’s Presidential Aide to Media and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Information. We at Accra Report do not believe either of these entities is incompetent in any way.

We believe that they both had the capacity to have salvaged the image of the Nigerian government obviating the necessity for a foreign PR firm.Even these two government entities did not have the capacity to manage the global media fallout, Nigeria has an infinite number of media personnel, orators, spin doctors, and astute political powerhouses that could have been engaged to help the country’s government save face.

The decision to hire Levick was in our opinion ill-advised. It rather provides further evidence to corroborate the fact the nation’s leadership has floundered in its attempt to address its homegrown terrorism issue.

The government of Ghana also found it prudent to send over $3 million dollars in cash to Brazil in order to soothe the agitation of its representatives at the 2014 World Cup. This money was the appearance fee that the country’s Sports Ministry and Ghana Football Association (GFA) pledged to the 23 players participating in the World Cup.

The government mobilized and flew the money to Brazil within 24 hours of hearing of the player revolt. It also hired a security detail to transport the money to the camp of the players. Most Ghanaians looked on in horror and shame when several media BBC outlets including BBC published pictures of the convoy transporting the money on the Brazilian highway en route to the players’ camp.

The government of Ghana is also reported to have engaged the services of an Air Mobile Brasilia Group, One Aeronautical Police, 14 members of Grupamento de Operacoes, 26 Squadron Ground Force Military, 19 Municipal Guards, and 72 Military Police to help facilitate the safe delivery of the money to the players. We wonder how much it costs the Ghanaian government to transport the money.

In our opinion, having $3 million in a soccer camp and publicizing that very fact left the players and other camp staff at risk of being attacked by robbers seeking for the score of a lifetime. Several foreign and Ghanaian news outlets showed one of the players kissing his appearance fee after receiving the money.

Ghanaians, Brazilians and FIFA are heaving a sigh of relief that nothing untoward of that nature happened to the players and staff in the light of the social unrest in Brazil over what has been perceived as a wasteful use of the South America’s limited resources to hold such an extravagant tournament.

Well, at least the Ghanaian government was discerning enough to hire security to protect the delegation it had entrusted the money to. However, that is another bill the impoverished West African country has to foot.

Although this story has been previously reported by Accra Report, as more details arise as a result of the fallout of this ridiculous decision emerges we will keep you informed. We however cannot help but wonder who suggested to the President of the Republic of Ghana to take such a decision and whether the president was informed of the ramifications of that decision.

Of the money which was sent to Brazil, 17% had to be surrendered to the Government of Brazil by the players before they were allowed to leave the country. Brazil has policy that restricts the amount of money that an individual can transport out of the country.

The 17% that was deducted from each player’s share of the appearance booty could have been used to support the numerous charities that some of the players have established in Ghana. If the players had been better informed and made aware of the tax and financial implications of receiving such a large amount of money, we are sure they might have reconsidered their decision.

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