After studying Public Relations for two years, I was thought that Public Relation is not about lying and selling falsehood about a product. It is not about denying every statement that does not favour the organization. It is about telling the truth all the time and it is not about bribery. Ibrahim Sannie Darra who is the current Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Football Association had worked on the BBC's Africa Football website as well as radio programs Fast Track, Focus on Africa and Network Africa's sports segments. His hard work won him many awards which include the Foreign Press Association Media award (FPA Media Awards), beating competition from other international journalists.
He further exposed the conmen masquerading as agents in African football with his colleagues during his days with BBC. He joined the BBC in 2004 after working with Choice FM in Accra and also as the Ghana correspondent for South African broadcaster SABC TV Africa. Sannie, who holds a master’s degree in International Journalism from the prestigious Cardiff University in the United Kingdom secured exclusive interviews with people like form FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Issa Hayatou and former UEFA president Michel Platini, Jose Mourinho as well as German legends Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus. While his days with the BBC, he made the world knew the corruption, rot and injustice in Ghana football.
On January 11, 2012, it was reported that Sannie Darra has quit from BBC and he is widely expected to join the Ghana Football Association as the head of communications. However, on January 16, 2012, the president of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi confirmed the former BBC worker as the head of communications for his outfit. After the appointment of Sannie Darra as the head of communications of the GFA, Nyantakyi said, "Ibrahim Sannie's decision to accept the offer to work for the GFA shows we are on track by attracting the best talent to ensure that Ghana football continues on the right path. "His achievements, knowledge and expertise show that he will succeed in this post and achieve the targets we have set for him. "When I was elected I made a promise that I will bring on board the best talent to drive Ghana football forward. The fact that we are attracting the quality of Mr Sannie shows we are on the right track.
"With his experience at the highest level of football journalism and contacts, we have the trust that he will lead our ambition to reach the communication standards of Fifa and Caf." No doubt that he [Sannie Darra] possesses those qualities in sports journalism but the question one will ask is that, in what manner has Sannie Darra contributed to the development of Ghana Football or he was appointed to defend the GFA even when they are defenceless?
Since his appointment as the GFA head of communication, Sannie Darra has been in the news for the wrong reasons with issues relating to Black Stars and the local league. With my few years in Sports journalism, I have never seen a Public Relations Officer who defends his outfit even when what he is defending is indefensible. Under the auspices of Nii Lante Vanderpuye as the Youth and Sports Minister, in an interview with Accra based Asempa FM, he quizzed Ghana FA that if their product [Local League] is that attractive, why are they failing to secure sponsorship for their product? The minister further pledged that he is willing to give the FA tax incentives and help the FA secure sponsorships for the local league if they approach him. This statement made by the Member of Parliament for the people of Odododiodio constituency did not go down well with the GFA.
The GFA released a statement to counter what the minister said and they insisted the league is attractive enough. Sannie Darra further went ahead to slam the minister due to his utterances. At the end of the 2015/16 season, the league was played without a major headline sponsor after First Capital Plus pulled out their sponsorship deal and a with just a match to end the 2016/17 season, the premier league is being played without a major headline sponsor but the former BBC worker still insists the Ghana Premier League is still attractive.
After the local Black Stars played an international friendly with Japan, Nii Lante Vanderpuye in an interview with the media disclosed that he was not aware of the friendly between Ghana and Japan and he has, therefore, request a copy of the contract from the Ghana Football Association.
However, on July 5, 2016, Sannie Darra in an interview with Accra based Starr FM branded him [Nii Lante Vanderpuye] as a liar and challenged him to substantiate what he is saying because he was aware of the upcoming friendly and he even permitted Avram Grant to join the team to Tokyo. After Nii Lante left office as the Youth and Sports Minister, Sannie Darra branded him as the worse Sports Minister the country have ever had due to the way he approach issues. Ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, it could be remembered that the Black Stars used the Lizzy Sports Complex training centre and it was reported that the Ghana Football Association failed to pay after using the sports complex.
In an interview with Accra based Peace FM, astute sports broadcaster, Dan Kweku Yeboah quizzed the former BBC worker if the FA paid after the team used the training centre but Sannie Darra told him [Dan Kweku Yeboah] is going bonkers and defended himself for using such words on the radio. After the country failed to make the cut to Russia 2018, a member of the management committee of the Black Stars, Wilfred Osei Kweku Palmer made a stunning revelation that the country’s inability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is because the country failed to pay an indemnity and unclassified monies to match officials.
Speaking to Accra based Citi FM, he said, “I was quite surprised that Ghanaians and the media sided with former Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye [about not budgeting for indemnities] when the government white paper on the Dzamefe Commission report clearly indicated that unclassified payments were legal in the concept of our budget. “If we had spent around $300,000 dollars [on referees], and stood to benefit about $8 million [by appearing at the World Cup], I see nothing wrong with it,” he said.
When pressed on why such an amount of money should be spent on referees, Kwaku Osei clarified that the essence of the payment to the referees is to ensure fairness. “When we say unclassified payments, it’s not necessarily giving money directly to the referee. It can be in kind, it can be in cash. The essence of it is not for the referee to be biased towards your opponent.
“But if that was a necessary concomitant to create a convenient atmosphere for the referee to be fair-minded in the course of the game, then I see nothing wrong with it,” he added. Kweku Osei, the owner of Ghana Premier League side Tema Youth which is currently fighting a battle to escape relegation from Ghana’s top division, went on to suggest Egypt and Uganda could have influenced referees’ decisions to disallow goals scored by Ghana in games against Congo and Uganda. “Are you telling me the first goal Ghana scored against Congo in Kumasi was a bad goal? But the referee disallowed it. Do you know what motivated him to do that?
“It clearly points to the fact that he was being influenced by an invisible force. That could be Egypt; that could be Uganda or any of the countries we were competing against,” he said. “When we went to Uganda, you saw clearly that the push on Frank Acheampong was a penalty. The first goal Amartey scored was a clear goal, the last goal Dwamena scored that was disallowed was a clean goal. So we’re not asking for anything beyond the referee being fair,” he concluded.
Despite this stunning revelation made Osei Kweku Palmer, Ibrahim Sannie Darra in an interview with Accra based Happy FM indicated that ''We, as a football association, do not believe in the inducement and we have never been involved in bribery. We have never done such a thing before. ''When a referee is appointed for a match, by default, you expect him to be fair. That is a given. If and when we do have issues with a referee, there are ways we can proceed.
“One of such means was the recent protest we filed against South African referee Daniel Bennett. CAF has modalities to deal with referees who do not perform well and we are satisfied with them.” We can see clearly here that, there is a misunderstanding here. One will ask, is Osei Kweku Palmer who is the vice chairman of the Black Stars lying to the public?
Meanwhile, A Commission of Inquiry set up in 2014 by the former president, John Dramani Mahama after the abysmal and shambolic display at the World Cup that year in Brazil revealed the country spent approximately $700,000 on unclassified payments and subsequently recommended such payments be scrapped.
While the government whitepaper issued on the findings rejected the recommendation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has since ceased allocating money for such purpose. Is Sannie Darra on top of issues or he is defending the defenceless? On countless occasions, the Ghana Football Association have been accused of being corrupt due to how they manage the affairs of the Black Stars and local league and have failed to prove its critics wrong. Without a doubt, journalists have sources that feed them with internal issues.
But anytime the GFA will be accused of not being clear in its dealings, Sannie Darra will defend his outfit and insists they are clean in their dealings meanwhile people within and around the FA will be crying foul. Is Sannie Darra working to please his master [Kwesi Nyantakyi]? Or he is working based on what he once said that “If you are not part of the FA you will criticize them but if you are to join them you will see they are clean. For me, I think he has drag the image and the reputation of the Ghana Football Association into tatters with his cow dunk public relation style. Change must happen before it gets worse!