On June 1, as many Ghanaian football fans were glued to their television sets at home and other places, watching the UEFA Champions League final, little did they know that their President; Nana Akufo-Addo, was among the over 68,000 fans who had trooped to the Estadio Metropolitano in the Spanish capital of Madrid, to watch the popular global game.
Back home in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo’s favourite local team is Great Olympic, but in Europe, his beloved football club is Tottenham Hotspur, and he refused to be left out on the club’s historic appearance at the UEFA Champions League final with another English club; Liverpool.
He refused to be part of the 11.3miilion viewers, who watched the game outside the stadium owned by Atletico Madrid.
What is strange is that, he had hidden himself away from the hundreds and thousands of television and mobile cameras which were in the stadium to avoid being captured and sparking controversy in Ghana, especially his misuse of the taxpayers’ money to have fun in Spain.
But, the cover-up was not tight enough, as some members of his team, including his Deputy Chief of Staff, Francis Asenso-Boakye, was on the street of Madrid, professing his support for President Akufo-Addo’s rival team, Liverpool.
Francis Asenso-Boakye, was not alone, as some members of the presidential press corps were also showcasing their presence in Madrid to support their beloved team; Liverpool on social media, thus confirming President Akufo-Addo’s presence in that country to watch the Champions League final.
Ahead of the final, The Herald had picked up intelligence that, the President was going to be in Spain to watch the game.
It was reported that, selected government officials, close friends and family members of the President, were going to be on a chartered aircraft to Spain for the game, which also witnessed the hitherto unknown model, Kinsey Wolanski, invading the football pitch half-naked. The 22-year-old has since become a media sensation.
On June 3, 2019, two days after the football match in which Liverpool won, President Akufo-Addo left Spain for Canada, where he declared; “no amount of investment aimed at finding a solution to Accra flooding will work if our people continue this way” while addressing supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Toronto.
He charged “Lets speak to our families at home, if we stop this habit we will solve this flooding in Accra”, adding, “Up till today, whilst the Odaw River is being dredged, some people think that the best way to dispose of rubbish is to throw it in the gutter, how do we stop flooding with this attitude?”
It is unclear, how much was spent on the trip, how many government officials went to watch the football match, how many friends and family members were on the trip, who paid for the trip, hotel expenses and whether or not a private jet was chartered for the Spain trip?
Ahead of the final game in Madrid, Nana Akufo-Addo, was captured in wild jubilation over his Tottenham Hotspurs victory against Ajax in the Champions League Semi Final game in the Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam -The Netherlands, which eventually took the team to the final which they lost to Liverpool.
While, the President was reprimanding Ghanaians, Francis Asenso Boakye, his young Deputy Chief of Staff, had stirred anger among Ghanaians with his presence at Spain to watch the final match. Asenso’s ticket was for gate 13, block 108, row 26 and seat number 14.
A story circulating on some media platforms, had said the young confidant of President Akufo-Addo, was spotted wearing his new craze customized ‘Bantama’ T-shirt and a marching cap among the fans at the stadium.
With the media house unaware that President Akufo-Addo himself, was in the stadium, wrote: “it is not clear whether he took permission before traveling to Spain to watch the football match because the President had earlier announced that appointees should write to the Chief of Staff before travelling outside the country”.
The internet portal called “The News Platform” went on to write that “the move was to check excessive travels by appointees that angered Ghanaians in recent times.
The inexperienced Asenso Boakye, gave himself up when he sent pictures of himself at the stadium to friends and close associates, announcing his deep love for Liverpool, the winners of the 2019 Champions League.
It said, social media users were upset with Asenso’s trip at the time majority of Ghanaians were wallowing in abject poverty, adding some had questioned if the Deputy Chief of Staff could have made the trip at the time NPP was not in power.
Others were of the view that the NPP in opposition would have made huge political noise about the whole situation if an appointee of the then President had travelled to Spain to watch football.
In the arguments of some of the social media users, Asenso was displaying opulence and where he got the money to facilitate his trip should be questioned because his monthly salary could not fund such a trip.
Others too felt that young man had betrayed his boss who has been preaching against extravagance.
Kennedy Agyapong, Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central in 2017, accused Asenso of extorting money from people who wanted to have appointment with President Akufo-Addo.
A-Plus, an NPP member, also accused Asenso of being corrupt, although the Police CID boss, MaameYaaTiwaa Addo Danquah, said she could not substantiate his claim against him and his young colleague, Samuel Abu Jinapor.