The past 365 days have been one of the most eventful years in the lives of Ghanaians.
There have been highs and lows, moments to savour, others to forget.
There has also been some very painful and unforgettable experiences as well as ones which re-inforces a sense of patriotism and believe in a better country.
citinewsroom.com chronicles some major events that happened in the past year and how it shook the country.
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election ‘war zone’
The year 2019 began with the by-election held in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency in Accra on January 31, 2019, which turned bloody.
The by-election became necessary following the death of the Member of Parliament for the constituency, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko.
His spouse, Lydia Seyram Alhassan decided to contest the seat to continue from where the late Agyarko left off.
She won the poll by 12,041 votes representing 68.30% with the closest contender, Delali Kwasi Brempong, the National Democratic Congress’ candidate polling 5,341 votes representing 30.52%.
The poll was characterised by violence after which a Commission of Enquiry was tasked to probe the election after which the Emile Short Commission presented its report to the President.
Most of the recommendations made by the Commission were rejected by the government.
Ahmed Suale murdered
Within the early parts of 2019 Ahmed Suale, an investigator with Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Tiger Eye PI was killed by two gunmen on a motorbike at Madina.
This coincidentally occurred months after Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong exposed Ahmed Suale in the aftermath of the #Number12 exposé on corruption in Ghana football, and said he [Ahmed] was wicked and must be beaten if he visited the premises of his company –Oman FM and NET 2.
Mr. Agyapong subsequently denied ever having a hand in the death of Ahmed Suale. Police are yet to conclude investigations on the matter.
Police retrieve human parts in Takoradi girls kidnapper’s house
The main suspect in the Takoradi kidnapping case, Sam Udoetuk Wills, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for escaping from cells in December 2018 following his arrest.
The girls; Ruth Quayson, Priscilla Blessing Bentum and Priscilla Koranchie were reportedly been kidnapped between August 2018 and January 2019.
Aside from the main suspect, some other arrests were also arrested within the year.
The issue hit a crescendo in August 2019 when the police retrieved some body parts in a sewage system behind the house of the main suspect in the case at Kansaworodo in Takoradi.
Police said their DNA test confirmed that the body parts were that of the kidnapped girls.
Meanwhile, the case is still pending in court.
Kidnapped Canadian girls rescued
In June 2019, news broke of the kidnapping of some two Canadian nationals in Ghana.
The two Canadian girls who were kidnapped in the Ashanti Regional Capital, Kumasi were later rescued by national security operatives.
Although the rescue brought some respite, many Ghanaians were unhappy that the police delayed in unravelling the kidnapping case at Takoradi.
Charles Bissue and Anas’ illegal mining exposé
Within the year, the Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, (IMCIM), Mr. Charles Bissue in a documentary released by Anas Aremeyaw Anas on February 27, 2019 was allegedly captured accepting money ostensibly to facilitate clearance for a mining company without going through due process.
Other officials were also indicted in the investigative piece.
Although the Special Prosecutor is still investigating the case, the Criminal Investigations Department, cleared Mr. Bissue of any wrongdoing.
Dagbon conflict resolved; new Yaa Naa enskinned
Yaa-Naa Abukari Mahama II was enskinned as the overlord of the Dagbon Traditional area on Friday, January 25, 2019, after nearly two decades of conflict in Dagbon over the skin.
Though chieftaincy tensions in Dagbon existed since the 60s, the gruesome killing of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II, in March 2002 in a coordinated attack on the palace, plunged Dagbon into years of intermittent violence.
Hundreds of lives have been lost, with properties destroyed in the age-long conflict in Dagbon, since the death of Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II.
In the wake of the escalating tensions, former President John Agyekum Kufuor set up the Otumfuo Committee of Eminent Chiefs to use all customary means available to settle the matter.
The Committee succeeded in greeting the Abudu and Andani royal gates to commit to the roadmap to peace despite several breakdowns of talks.
This led to the performance of the funeral rites of the two late Ya Naas; Naa Mahamadu Abdulai and Naa Yakubu Andani.
The funeral of the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II was held on Friday, January 18, 2019, with the then Yoo Naa, Alhaji Abukari Mahama selected by the royal custodians of Dagbon to be enskinned as the new Yaa-Naa.
New regions created
Six new regions were formally and legally created by the government after President Akufo-Addo publicly presented the Constitutional Instruments (CI) that backed their creation to the respective petitioners.
This followed a successful referendum on the creation of the new regions.
The six new regions were created out of the Volta, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Western regions.
The Oti Region was carved out of the Volta Region, with Dambai as the capital.
Bono East and Ahafo were created out of the Brong Ahafo Region with Techiman and Goaso as the respective capitals, while the former Brong Ahafo Region now becomes the Bono Region with Sunyani as the capital.
North East Region and Savannah Region were carved out of the Northern Region with Nalerigu and Damango as the new capitals respectively. Western North with Sefwi Wiawso as its capital was also created out of the Western Region.
The government also gave each of the regions GH¢20 million seed money to kick start development in those areas.
NAM 1 finally arrives in Ghana after six months
Chief Executive Officer of Menzgold, Nana Appiah Mensah also arrived in Ghana in July 2019.
Upon his arrival, he was interrogated by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
Nana Appiah Mensah, popularly known as NAM1 spent the previous six months in police custody in Dubai due to a criminal case brought against him by a private company in that country.
An INTERPOL red alert notice placed on him by the government of Ghana also made it impossible for the Dubai authorities to release him from their custody after he won the case in court earlier in 2019.
He was been declared wanted in Ghana over allegations of fraud brought against him by some persons who invested in his gold dealership company, Menzgold but have not been paid their dividends or principals for several months.
NAM1 is currently facing 13 charges levelled against him by the state and is on a bail of GH¢1 billion with five sureties. He currently reports to the police every Wednesday at 1000 hours.
He has been charged with abetment of crime, defrauding by false pretenses, carrying on a deposit-taking business without license, sale of minerals without license, unlawful deposit-taking, and money laundering.
Ofosu Ampofo dragged to court over leaked tape
Within 2019, the National Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo was dragged to court over some comments he allegedly made in a leaked audio tape in which he appeared to be inciting violence against some top officials in the country including the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and the National Peace Council.
He is currently on bail. Meanwhile, several attempts by Ofosu Ampofo to have the case thrown out of court have failed.
Gov’t cancels PDS deal despite US opposition
Government terminated the Power Distribution Services’ concession agreement the same year the company took over the duties of the Electricity Company of Ghana.
Prior to the termination, the concession agreement was suspended on July 30, 2019, by government due to what it called “fundamental and material breaches”.
According to government, PDS failed to provide demand guarantees for the concession as what was provided turned out to be fake.
Budumburam Police killing
In August 2019, one of the stories that shook the nation had to with the killing of two police officers, Lance Corporal Mohammed Awal and Sargent Michael Dameshi were killed on the 28th of August, 2019, when occupants of a vehicle they signalled to stop opened fire on them along the Kasoa to Budumburam stretch.
This led to the government taking a decision to arm all police officers on traffic duties since this will enable the police to defend themselves during violent crimes.
The key suspect in the killing of some two police officers at Gomoa Buduburam, Eric Kojo Duah has been remanded.
Six other suspects arrested over the issue were subsequently freed.
The Attorney-General (AG) subsequently asked the Police to formally charge Eric Kojo Duah, with murder.
He is to reappear before court on January 13, 2020.
Radio Gold, Radio XYZ others closed down
In May this year, the National Communications Authority shut down Radio Gold 90.5 FM and Radio XYZ 93.1 FM both based in Accra in a move many described as a subtle attempt to clamp down on radio stations affiliated to the opposition NDC.
Other stations across the country were also closed down.
Officials of the NCA stormed the premises of the stations with armed security personnel while they were On-Air and ordered their immediate closure.
Many in the NDC, including their leader, Former President John Mahama described the closure of the radio stations as “an assault on press freedom”.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) explained that it shut down Radio Gold and Radio XYZ because they failed to comply with the ruling Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT)
Ghana School of Law massive exams failure
The Ghana School of Law in 2019 recorded another case of mass examination failure.
This time around, the mass failure was recorded at the entrance exams.
Of the nearly 1,820 prospective students, only 128 reportedly passed the entrance examination.
A notice at the school at the time showed that more than 90 percent of those who sat for the entrance exam failed to obtain the requisite marks to secure admission.
The mass failure led to a demonstration on some principal streets of Accra which ended up being chaotic as some of the demonstrators alleged that they had hot water sprayed on them by the police.
This led to calls for reforms within the country’s legal education system.
Xenophobic attacks in South Africa
South Africa was back in the news yet again for all the wrong reasons in 2019.
At least 12 people were killed and hundreds arrested after mobs attacked foreign-owned shops in Johannesburg and Pretoria in September 2019.
The xenophobic attacks drew condemnation from across the African continent and resulted in reprisal attacks abroad.
Nigeria evacuated some of its citizens and boycotted the World Economic Forum on Africa summit in Cape Town.
A statement from Ghana’s foreign ministry at the time disclosed that 3 Ghanaians got injured in the attacks and 5 other Ghanaians were also arrested.
Revocation of licenses of microfinance companies, fund managers, others
The financial sector crisis in Ghana was further deepened in 2019 after the Bank of Ghana began another massive clean up of some micro-finance companies and other finance houses.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) in May revoked the licenses of 347 insolvent microfinance companies.
The licences of 192 of them were revoked in addition to that of another 155 that had ceased operations.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, November 8, 2019, also revoked the licenses of 53 Fund Management Companies.
PPA boss in contracts for sale scandal
President Akufo-Addo in August suspended from office the Chief Executive of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Agyenim Boateng Adjei.
Mr. Agyemin Boateng Adjei became one of the high profile appointees to have been suspended by the President
His suspension followed the ‘Contract For Sale’ documentary by freelance investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni in which the PPA boss was seen allegedly selling government contracts through his own private company Talent Discovery Limited (TDL).
The journalist’s undercover encounters with the General Manager of the Company, Thomas Amoah, revealed that the company was selling a ¢22.3 million road contract to K-Drah Enterprise, a fake company Manasseh used for the investigation.
Sex for grades scandal
Another issue that shook the nation in October 2019 was the “sex for grades” documentary by the BBC which indicted two Ghanaian lecturers, Prof. Ransford Gyampo and Dr. Paul Kwame Butakor.
Although the lecturers in question denied the allegations levelled against them, pressure mounted on the University to take a conclusive stance to show its commitment to dealing with the issue of sexual misconduct.
Whilst some groups wanted the two disciplined, others argued that the content of the documentary was not credible enough to implicate the lecturers.
War Against Indiscipline
One event that had lots of Ghanaians talking in 2019 was definitely Citi TV’s War Against Indiscipline.
Aside the insistence on discipline on our roads, the campaign which was anchored by Citi TV’s Caleb Kudah also came along with a great deal of amusement.
Citi TV‘s collaboration with the Ghana Police Service to clamp down on errant drivers through its War Against Indiscipline (WAI) campaign also accrued to the state about GH¢300,000.
BoG introduces new cedi notes
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) in November introduced two new higher denominations of the Ghana notes and a coin to complement the existing currencies in circulation.
The new denominations included the hundred and two hundred Ghana cedi notes and a two cedis coin.
The new denominations are currently in circulation.
Government cancels December 17 Referendum
It is fair to say the cancellation of the then planned December 17 referendum was one of the most interesting political twists for the year.
The Akufo-Addo Government has cancelled the December 17 national referendum which was meant to decide on an amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates during local level elections.
This was announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a brief address to the nation on Sunday, December 1, 2019.
The President attributed the decision to the absence of “a national consensus” on the matter.
Constitutions provisions to amend both Article 55 (3) and 243 (1) were subsequently withdrawn from Parliament.
EC’s proposal for new voters’ register, biometric system
The Electoral Commission in late 2019 asked Parliament to approve GH¢444,846,663 for the compilation of a new voters’ register.
As part of its activities for the year 2020, the Commission wanted to compile a new register for the 2020 general elections.
Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Mr. Samuel Tettey, at a press briefing on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 reiterated the need for a new register.
“There is no doubt that the voters register is bloated. The bloat is because we have not developed an effective way of cleaning the register. The bloated register increases the cost of our elections. The Commission always procures election materials based on the number of registered voters. This causes a lot of waste as the number of registered voters exceeds the actual voters.”
“…Again, the Commission will go ahead with the preparation of a new biometric voters’ register based on the reasons provided earlier,” he said.
Ghana rice campaign gathers momentum after Citi FM/TV CEO campaign push
The Chief Executive Officer of Citi FM/TV, Samuel Attah-Mensah in November declared himself a campaigner for the consumption of locally-produced rice in the country.
According to him, this was to help reduce the government’s expenditure on rice imports by at least 50% in the next two years.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Attah-Mensah called on stakeholders within the local rice industry to come up with effective strategies to overcome the several challenges facing local rice farmers and help Ghana achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and consumption.