General News of Tuesday, 1 January 2019
The year 2018 year was a mixed bag for many Ghanaians with a number of major events (both negative and positive) and milestones, as the governing New Patriotic Party entered the second year steering the affairs of the country.
The year under review was filled with memorable moments, but citinewsroom.com has decided to pick just ten of the major news stories that rocked Ghana in 2018.
US military base in Ghana
Ghanaians didn’t have to wait too long for a major controversy as in March 2018, a decision was taken by the Akufo-Addo government to host a supposed US military base in the country.
Whereas some political opponents and civil society organizations chastised the government for taking such a move, the government insisted it was not a military base.
Parliament later ratified the agreement although the Minority staged a walkout.
Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko fired
Then Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko was fired from his post by President Nana Akufo-Addo in August 2018. Agyarko’s predicament was linked to the role he played in a new agreement sent to Parliament to have the Ameri Energy deal reviewed.
He later assured to give reasons for his dismissal “when the dust settles” but is yet to open up.
Charlotte Osei fired and replaced with Jean Mensah
Charlotte Osei, then Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, was also in the same year 2018 removed from her position together with two of her deputies for misconduct and other procurement irregularities.
She was later replaced with Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Jean Mensah.
Jean after assuming office change the Commission’s logo back to the original one after Charlotte Osei embarked on a five-year rebranding of the election-organizing body.
KNUST violent demo
In October 2018, a planned student demonstration at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology [KNUST] over what the student leaders largely described as marginalization by the School authorities and security brutalizes orchestrated by the school’s Vice- Chancellor.
The protest by students, however, turned violent as students resorted to vandalizing school properties. Students raided the administration block destroying the glass doors and other office equipment.
The University’s Dean of Student’s car as well as other stationary vehicles also been reportedly burnt by the demonstrators.
The dire situation on campus led management of the University to send students home for two weeks.
Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri Danso, was asked to step aside by the Education Ministry.
KNUST lecturers and other stakeholder groups also declared an indefinite strike over the government’s dissolution of the university’s governing council.
The new KNUST Governing Council, instituted by the Asantehene and Government has six new members comprising Nana Effah Apenteng, Hilda Hagar Ampadu, Stephen Anoff Amoaning-Yankson, Alex Quaynor, Nana Agyei Baffour Awuah and Alhaji Yakub A.B. Abubakar.
The other members of the council are Kelvin Sah, Eunice Amoako, Isaac Dadzie, Alhaji Ahmed Yakub, Prof Joshua Agyarkwa, Prof Eric Forkuo, Charles Arthur, Nimo Baffour, Prof Kwasi Obiri-Danso, Rita Akosua Dickson.
Amissah-Arthur, J.H. Mensah, VCRAC Crabbe, Ebony, Kofi Annan
Within the same year, some prominent figures also passed away.
They included former Vice President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, J.H. Mensah, V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, Ebony and Kofi Annan.
Amissah-Arthur died in June after he collapsed at the Airforce Gym in Accra during a workout session. A state funeral was held for him at the Accra International Conference Centre on July 28, 2018.
Statesman and New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwart, Joseph Henry Mensah also died in August 2018 at the 37 Military Hospital at the age of 89.
Former Supreme Court Justice, Professor Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles Crabbe was also buried on October 4, 2018, after he died in September at the age of 94.
Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan also died in August 2018 in Switzerland after a short illness.
His funeral held at the AICC in September 2018 was graced by international personalities including the current UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Dancehall artiste, Pricilla Opoku-Kwarteng known in music circles as Ebony Reigns also died on 8th February in an accident while returning to Accra from Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Her death came as a shock to many Ghanaians especially at the time she was enjoying a meteoric rise to fame.
She was buried on March 24, 2018.
December 2018 saw perhaps the last biggest activity of the year as Ghanaians in some selected areas were made to vote in a referendum on the proposed creation of 6 new regions which include; Bono East, Oti, Western North, Savannah, North East & Ahafo regions.
The referenda across the regions all saw resounding endorsements by the residents with each averaging over 95% YES votes.
Per the Electoral Commission’s Constitutional Instrument for the creation of new regions, there should be an 80% vote in favour of the new region and a voter turnout of 50% in all the proposed regions. The targetted areas all met these targets.
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) after the referenda called on the EC and the police to investigate claims of alleged electoral malpractices during the referendums.
The EC on its part said it would not shield any of its staff found culpable in alleged malpractices during the just ended referendum for the creation of new regions.
The fate of thousands of investors of gold dealership firm, Menzgold Ghana Limited continues to hang in the balance following the company’s inability to pay them their locked-up cash.
This was after the Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) in September asked Menzgold to suspend its gold trading operations with the public.
The company in an attempt to call the bluff of SEC came up with a payment schedule to pay its clients, but the said payments have been postponed several times because the company has not been able to deliver, to the disappointment of customers.
Some of the agitated customers who besiege the company’s premises each day have also staged various demonstrations to register their displeasure over the situation; others have taken legal action against the company.
The last formal communication from Menzgold was about their staff being asked to proceed on a 10-day compulsory leave, and the halting of its online platform introduced much later.
The staff in protest against the action in a public statement said Menzgold managers were trying to flee Ghana following the controversies. They also claimed that close associates of the company who had their investments locked up were being paid secretly.
The Kumasi Circuit Court has even ruled that the company’s properties be auctioned by January 16, 2019, to pay off clients who are owed by the company.
Meanwhile, the company has announced a new payment schedule and has indicated that it will begin repayment of costumers’ investments.
Five banks collapsed
The Bank of Ghana in August 2018 merged some five banks namely uniBank, Sovereign Bank, Construction Bank, Royal Bank, and Beige Bank into the Consolidated Bank Limited.
Dr. Ernest Addison, Governor of BoG, explained that his outfit decided because the said banks had become insolvent adding that some obtained their licenses through questionable means.
Dr. Addison said a GHc5.76 billion bond has also been issued to cover the gap between the liability and assets assumed by the Consolidated Bank.
The government assured that those behind the collapsed banks would be punished if they are found culpable.
No.12 exposé vs Nyantakyi
Former President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi was also in the news after he was captured in a video by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, allegedly accepting a monetary gift.
He also allegedly plotted to set up an agency that would broker a sponsorship deal for the Ghana Premier League in an alleged dubious manner.
He later resigned as GFA boss.
World football governing body, FIFA also banned him for life from all football-related activities and GHc2.4 million fine (500,000 Swiss Francs) was also imposed on him.
Opuni hauled before the court
The Akufo-Addo as part of promises to punish some former NDC appointees they tagged as corrupt dragged former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni to court.
Dr. Stephen Opuni has been sued together with Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, beneficiaries of a supposed fraudulent contract worth Ghc43, 120,000.
Opuni’s bank accounts were earlier frozen.
The contract in question spanned the period between 2013 and 2016.
The State argues that Dr. Opuni misled the Public Procurement Authority to approve single-source contracts for Seidu Agongo and Agricult to provide fertilizers at a different cost.
The prosecution further said investigations established that Seidu Agongo deposited an amount of GHc25, 000 into Dr. Opuni’s account to influence the contracts.
But Opuni has denied guilt in the matter.