By Kwasi Frimpong
The directive from President Akufo-Addo comes after the Ghanaian boxer had chased the money for several years without any fruitful end in sight.
According to President Akufo-Addo, though there are no documentations backing the said transaction between the government of Ghana and the boxer, the money should be paid on ‘compassionate grounds.’
Reports say the boxer in 1976 gave a loan of $45,000 to the then General Kutu Acheampong government for the purchase of mackerel (Tinapa), which was in short supply at the time, for distribution in the country.
This was shortly after he had won his world boxing title on September 20, 1975, defeating then champion Reuben Olivares by split points in a 15-round clash in Inglewood, California, USA.
The money, according to the boxer, was given out of his $75,000 gained from his second title defence against Japanese Shig Fukuyama.
Several years after the loan was given to the country, all appeals by the boxing champion to get his money refunded fell on deaf ears.
Countless appeals were made to successive governments since the overthrow of the Acheampong regime, but all efforts proved futile.
Mahama’s compassion to terrorists
In 2014, the boxer says, he sought audience with former President Mahama, through the Brazil 2014 World Cup Commission, to narrate his ordeal, but nothing fruitful came out of it. Indeed, reports say the retired Ghanaian boxer was even denied the honour of meeting former President Mahama to narrate his ordeal. He had to resort to the use of a public medium to catch the attention of the President.
When Poison appeared at the Justice Dzamefe Commission, it was at the instance of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG).
Scheduled to make a submission that day, SWAG, through its member and PRO to the GBA, Naa Darkua Dodoo, got him to accompany her to the sitting that day.
The SWAG’s intention was that, at the end of its submission, it would make a special appeal to the Commission to put in a word for Poison, despite his case being outside the terms of reference.
Here was an accomplished Ghanaian boxer who had sacrificed all his life to serve his country, and having freely supported his country with his money, now struggling to meet President Mahama, and having to resort to unconventional means to be noticed. Yet, this was at a time that the same former President had, with open arms, welcomed known terrorists who had confessed that they had ties with the super terrorist group Al Qaeda. Mr Mahama had claimed that he accepted the terrorists (Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby) because he is a “Christian and his Christian values enjoin him to be compassionate, hence the decision.”
“I am compassionate. In the Bible, it teaches us to be compassionate. To what use will Christianity be without showing compassion to the people who needed help most?” Mr Mahama wondered.
Mr Mahama was compassionate to terrorists, but did not find same reason, at least based on his “Christian values”, to extend same to a legendary Ghanaian boxer who needed just a few minutes of his time to narrate his grieving story.
Fast forward, Providence, in his infinite wisdom, caused a change at Ghana’s presidency and made Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo the President.
Dying slowly from grief, the boxer in October 2019 sought audience with President Akufo-Addo to inform him about his predicament.
For the first time, a sitting President gave a hearing to the 69-year-old frail boxer. After the meeting, the retired boxer expressed appreciation to the President for meeting with him, after all past presidents had objected to meeting with him.
President Akufo-Addo, for his part, promised to resolve the issue.
In a letter dated September 28, 2020, signed by the Executive Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, President Akufo-Addo directed that the money should be paid to the legendary DK Poison.
The letter, addressed to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, and copied to the Vice-President, the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Finance, the Director General of National Sports Authority, the Chairman of the Ghana Boxing Authority and David Kotei (D.K. Poison), reads: “With reference to your letter … dated 17th June, 2020, I write to convey the approval of the President of the Republic for an amount of Forty-Five Thousand United States Dollars (US$45,000.00) to be paid to Mr David Kotei (a.k.a. D.K. Poison) on compassionate grounds.
“By a copy of this letter, the Ministry of Finance is requested to take the necessary action to give effect to this directive. Please accept the President’s best wishes.”
Such is the man called Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. President Akufo-Addo, in his strong belief in his famous quote “if a free a society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”, has proven to be the President who has truly defined ‘compassion’.
At a time when the NDC flagbearer was showing compassion to terrorists, he had cancelled allowances that were supporting poor Ghanaian nursing and teacher trainees; he had vehemently rejected any voice of reason to give Ghanaian children free Senior High School education; the Ghanaian health sector was in jeopardy, with the National Health Insurance Scheme on its knees and subventions to special needs schools (schools that train blind, deaf, dumb, autistic Ghanaian children) were in arrears for several months, among others.
On the other hand, President Akufo-Addo, in showing compassion, has successfully implemented the Free SHS policy to save Ghanaian parents the problems associated with funding the education of their wards; established the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) to support graduate who otherwise would have had to depend on their parents for survival; restored teachers and nurses trainees allowance; abolished several taxes; built 1,000 community-based solar powered mechanised water systems across the 275 constituencies; revamped the ambulance system with one constituency, one ambulance; constructed 2000 capacity hostel for kayayei at Sepe Buokrom; successfully exited Ghana from the obnoxious IMF programme, leading to the creation of some 1, 960,404 jobs in both the public and private sector, among others.
With the over 78 per cent of promises made to Ghanaians fulfilled, one cannot but admit that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is truly a compassionate leader.