The 10-month journey of Nana Yaw Amponsah to Kotoko CEO

The day George Amoako lost his right to vote a leader for Ghana football on behalf of Asante Kotoko, he became a walking corpse at the club.

That is when his role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Asante Kotoko virtually came to an end. A plethora of accusations were leveled against him. None of them were true. His image was maimed for reasons best known to story peddlers.

The true story of why he was replaced in the lead up to elections, is more spiritual.

But, Kurt Okraku, who would go on to win the FA elections had no hand in twisting the mind of Amoako to vote for him.

Kotoko as an entity had a position on the GFA elections, and it was to vote for George Afriyie. It was a position Mr Amoako had no intention of going against. There was no better explanation to offer than kill his little reputation.

Amoako not a first choice
On countless occasions, Amoako was seen as a square peg in a round hole in the eyes of many affiliated to the Porcupines. So, Dr Kwame Kyei, whose three year mandate from Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was ending, set out for a ‘wow factor’ that could get him an extension.

His first two choices were contesting the FA Presidency – Afriyie and Nana Yaw Amponsah. Dr. Kyei was optimistic Afriyie would be elected, so started aiming for Amponsah – a gentleman who had exuded brilliance all through the campaign trail.

Dr. Kyei wanted him so badly that he was willing to let go of his power for the then Phar Rangers President to head the management of the record Ghana Premier League champions.

But, when Afriyie eventually lost the FA elections, too, just as Nana Yaw had, Dr. Kyei’s mind switched back to the former GFA Vice President.

Initially, it appeared George was interested, only to forget about it along the way for reasons best known to him. Afriyie was blunt when approached: his focus was currently not on football. He then travelled to Dubai for a few weeks to refresh himself after the long campaign season.

Dr. Kyei then said if George were not available, it was back to Nana Yaw.

Amponsah, himself, was probably still gnashing his teeth from the loss of the elections, an adventure that saw him described as the dark horse. An election which saw his closest of allies choose money over loyalty when an opportunity to work with Asante Kotoko came visiting.

That was the beginning of what the world saw culminating in an appointment as Kotoko CEO last Friday.

Dr. Kyei’s political chess
Dr. Kwame Kyei so loved the ideas and energy of Nana Yaw to the extent that Kotoko could have voted for him had Afriyie not been in the race. And, note that Afriyie had his backing of Kotoko from Manhyia itself. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do otherwise.

Preliminary conversations ensued. Before he went on a visit to the UK, Amponsah was introduced to the Chief of Staff of Manhyia.

It turns out that Kotoko rivals, Hearts of Oak, were also interested. However, the Kumasi side was the more serious of the two entities.

Then came the Professor Nkansah Committee which was constituted to review Dr. Kyei’s mandate. When they did, he was retained, but with 11 other members added to him to form a new Kotoko board.

In the first meeting of this new board, the issue of dissolution had come up and the board thought it was alright to dissolve it. But before they realised, Dr. Kyei had gone ahead to do it.

The management team, led by Amoako, was exiting anyway, so Dr. Kyei needed to wait and allow them to hang on until a suitable replacement was found. But when he rushed to prematurely end their tenure, it ‘forced’ the Board to appoint an acting CEO to satisfy the administrative work at the secretariat needed to continue, an appointment some observers saw as unnecessary.

As indicated earlier, in the head of Dr Kyei, the Executive Council member had been axed as Kotoko boss way back in October 2019. This background makes it easy to appreciate the quick dissolution without the approval of the newly formed board.

Getting closer
But, who was his replacement? Nana Yaw Amponsah.

This was the first name that came up in the first-ever meeting of who would be Kotoko CEO post Amoako. Other members of the board were not so sure. He has a weak CV, some said.

The other factor was that they were unhappy a club that was going through a transitional period already had a choice decided. It was then that it emerged: there had had discussions a full year before.

The board’s reservations were that to have met and introduced Amponsah meant there was an entrenched position. This did not sit well with them where transparency was concerned.

Sources say board member Jude Arthur was the famous voice of dissent against such a decision.

With such disagreements within the board, and Dr Kyei’s difficulty in convincing many, the Chief of Staff gave the them an opportunity to have an insight into the person proposed.

A man prepared
Amponsah seemed to have been well prepared for the job. When he was told of the meeting, his plan for Kotoko, titled ‘Agenda 2025’, was ready.

The substance of that plan had everyone waxing lyrical about his prospects. They were convinced he was the perfect man. In fact, if they were to vote that same day, he would have scored 99.9% of the votes. That was how impressed they were. Excellent is an understatement.

A board member remarked ‘this is genius’ from such a young man. He got the job that day. But, there was a hurdle to cross as others believed more of such brains were in the market and willing to work for Kotoko.

Executive Council member Frederick Acheampong was considered, but only two board members believed in him. Then, there was Eloeny Amande, who is currently the CEO of Karela United. Afriyie came back into the picture.

George and Eloeny were considered after the document presented to the board at East Legon was leaked, leading to the famous Opemsuo interview that Manhyia only works with people who can keep secrets.

A Phobian?
Amponsah’s supposed love for Hearts of Oak was another element used by some members not to hand him the job. It became worse, when Jones Asante Mfodwo (Cobby Jones), the spokesman for the Hearts of Oak NCC was noted as a close friend whom he worked closely with during the campaign.

All these scuttled the process; they all but ended his acquisition of the role.

Afriyie, whom many revere, added his voice to why he should be given the job.

The last building blocks
“In all honesty,” he said, “everyone would love to work for a brand like Kotoko, but, I would suggest you give the job to the boy. He’s more hungry and will do a better job.”

He was emphatic that Amponsah was not a trial-and-error as many wanted to argue.

When a second meeting was convened, he became the obvious choice. But, before this, many political cards were thrown around to win him the seat.

Many within the political space played a role, but the biggest political card was his intellect that had many drooling over what Kotoko would be like under his tutelage.

Kwadwo Boateng Gyamfi, one man who fell in love with Amponsah after the first impression, actually worked hard for him, too.

He was the key man who led the path; after all the weeks of engagements, no one had matched the quality of Amponsah, they concluded.

Nana Yaw was taken to Manhyia and introduced officially to Kofi Badu, the Chief of Staff, who already knew him since 2019. Crucially, Badu had bought into his ideologies in 2019 even before the board came into existence.

What he did, was communicate their choice to the King, and he approved.

It was excitement for many upon receipt of the news of Otumfuo’s approval, but some had their issues, and still do.

The bigger picture, the man Dr Kyei envisioned Kotoko with him at the helm, is the man the world was introduced to last Friday.

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