Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has commended former Black Stars captain, Stephen Appiah, and his friends for conceiving the idea to organise football matches, as part of their contribution towards creating an atmosphere of peace ahead of the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“You couldn’t have used your stature and popularity for a better purpose,” Mr Rawlings said, when Appiah, former England star Sol Campbell, former Dutch and Middleborough player, George Boateng, and Augustine Arhinful, another former Black Stars player, called on him on Tuesday 12 January, to invite him to two matches in support of peace slated for Kumasi and Accra on June 8 and 11 this year.
Appiah said Ghana had been good to him and the best he could do in return, was to use the power of football to unite the people and called for the support and counsel of Mr Rawlings.
Sol Campbell, a former England center back, said the call to join the peace effort was something that touched him because he knew what the power of football, when channeled appropriately, could do.
“That is why I am here to be a part of a brighter future for Ghana by using my talent with Stephen as the head and George and friends around the world. Hopefully it will ease tensions ahead of the elections.”
George Boateng, who was born in Ghana and later left for The Netherlands with his parents before becoming a Dutch national player, said it was an honour to give something back to Ghana and hoped that Mr Rawlings will accept the invitation to be part of the historic games. “Your presence will be a massive honour,” he told Mr Rawlings.
Former Black Stars striker Augustine Arhinful said as footballers, their non-partisanship is a useful tool that can be channeled to bring all Ghanaians together for peace.
Also present was entrepreneur, investment banker and corporate executive, Nana Fredua Agyeman Manuh, who was part of Mr Rawlings’ team at the meeting. He advised Appiah and his colleagues to preach against the arrogance of political office, corruption of power and the use of tribal, religious and sectarianism in making political statements and choices.
He said it was disturbing that politicians have now decided that power is the only means that they can use to serve or do disservice to their country. He cautioned all not to take the peace and stability in Ghana for granted, making reference to the fact that majority of countries within the West African region had faced major violent upheavals within the past few years.
A member of the National Democratic Congress’ Council of Elders, Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, said the concern shown by Appiah and his friends was very historical and was an exhibition of their concern for Ghana and the rest of the continent. He was confident of a peaceful electoral process, but charged all active participants in the process to stand by their pledges to maintain and protect the peace.
Reverend Professor Richard Lawson, also of the NDC Council of Elders said efforts by young people to sow seeds of peace gives the assurance that President Rawlings and others who sacrificed for their country have not done so in vain. “Motive is an impulse that brings desired results. God wants to use you to tell a story,” he said.
Others who were present at the meeting were Ibrahim Sannie Diarra, Communications Director of the Ghana Football Association and Larry Opare-Otoo, Managing Director of Primeval Media, organisers of the two matches in June.