Design of proposed new 450-seater parliamentary chamber

This year hasn’t been a rosy year for Ghana. The country has had to face certain tough and challenging issues both on the economic and social fronts.  But generally, it will be fair to say that 2019 has been a good year for Ghana.

Let’s take a look at the issues that made headlines in 2019 on

#Drop that Chamber (New Parliament Chamber, July)

new chamber
The design for the new proposed Parliament Chamber

A proposal by the Majority Caucus in Parliament to construct a multi-purpose 450-seater parliamentary chamber costing $ 200 million dollars was met with stiff resistance from Ghanaians.

The construction of the proposed Chamber angered the Ghanaian populace as a group identified as the Economic Fighters, stormed parliament to protest against the move.

Defending the construction of the Chamber, Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu explained that, the Chamber was to enhance legislative duties of Parliament, but to Ghanaians it was a misplaced priority.

Following further agitations by Ghanaians, Parliament rescinded its decision to build the new Chamber.

So the new Chamber was finally dropped, and in the end the nation was the victor. 

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Comprehensive Sexual Education (October)

Image result for Sexually comprehensive education

Another issue that got the whole country talking was the inclusion of the Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in the learning curriculum of basic schools.

The government was accused of trying to execute a secret Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) agenda with the introduction of CSE in basic schools. Religious organisations, anti-LGBT movements, members of the opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and most parents resisted the move by the government.

Government, however, denied approving the inclusion of the CSE programme in basic schools.

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SHS placement saga (September)

Minister for Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh

For the first time in the history of the nation, graduates of junior high schools had to queue for days at the Black Star Square for placement in the various senior high schools across the country.

Some challenges met with Computerised School Selection Placement System (CSSPS), saw thousands of frustrated parents and students storm the Black Star Square for redress, but the situation turned out for the worse as some confrontations ensued between parents and officials of the Ghana Education Service.

Some students were also reported to have collapsed at the Black Star Square.

The exercise at the Black Star Square is to enable qualified students to get a placement at a school they may not have chosen but has space.
The exercise at the Black Star Square was to enable qualified students to get a placement

Speaking on the challenges of the situation at the Black Star Square, Minister for Education, Dr Mathew Opoku-Prempeh is noted to have blamed the NDC for the mass numbers at the Black Star Square and also said students reported to have fainted at the Black Star Square faked the collapse.

Alleged Coup plot (September)

The alleged coup plotters arrested

In a press release dated September 23, 2019, Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah on behalf of government, revealed the attempt by a group of civilians and some serving military officers to overthrow the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The Information Minister in the press release accused the ‘coup plotters’ of trying to destabilise the country. He made mention of the arrest of three persons and the retrieval of several arms, explosive devices and ammunition.

Later, investigations by the Bureau of National Investigations, Criminal investigations Department and Defence Intelligence further led to the arrest of six other persons including Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr Benjamin Agordzor.

The all 10 alleged ‘coup plotters’ have been charged with treason and are currently standing trial. 

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Republic of the Western Togoland (November)

Charles Komi Kudzordzi [with walking stick] declared Western Togoland independent on November 16
Charles Komi Kudzordzi [with walking stick] declared Western Togoland independent on November 16

An alarming yet amusing issue was the secession of the Volta Region and parts of the then Northern and Upper East Regions along the eastern border of Ghana (Western Togoland) into an independent state by the secessionist group called the Homeland Study Group Foundation.

The group with members not more than 20, called for the secession of the Western Togoland, a German protectorate from Ghana boundaries.

Leader of the Separatist movement, Mr Charles Komi Kudzordzi alias Papavi Hogbedetor, who is in his 80s on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at a public gathering in Ho declared the Western Togoland an independent country.

Following the declaration of independence by the separatist group, members of the group were arrested by the police and arraigned.

Leader of the group, Mr Kudzordzi, however, managed to evade arrest and is currently on the run.

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Parked Ambulances at State House November)

The parked ambulances

What is probably the most annoying and questionable decision of government is the non-distribution of some 48 parked ambulances at the forecourt of parliament house in wait for the remaining 259 ambulances before distribution.

Ghanaians criticised the government’s decision to park the ambulances despite the urgent need for them to facilitate health delivery.

Calls by Ghanaians to have government distribute the parked ambulances fell on deaf ears as government continued to park them in front of the State House until late December 20, when the remaining 259 ambulances were shipped into the country.

Though ready, all 307 ambulances have still not been distributed as government hopes to do so in January 2020.

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PDS Scandal (August)

The scandalous concession of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to the Power Distribution Services (PDS) was another issue to make headlines in the country.

Government after ceding 49 per cent of ECG to the power firm, terminated its concession agreement with PDS over its failure to satisfy some relevant conditions.

Notable amongst the conditions was the provision of a Demand Guarantee or a Letter of Credit issued by a Qualified Bank.

The termination of the contract saw government losing some $ 190 million dollars from the United States aimed at supporting the energy sector. 

The government was also criticised for not performing the needed due diligence prior to approving the concession agreement.

Sex for Grades [October]

Kiki Mordi was lead investigator in BBC's Africa Eye expose 'Sex-for-grades'
Kiki Mordi was lead investigator in BBC’s Africa Eye expose ‘Sex-for-grades’

The exchange of sex for grades in tertiary institutions is an old-aged problem not only in Africa but around the world. It’s not new and it’s not a secret, it’s known among school authorities and particularly tertiary students.

Although largely known, there was no evidence supporting the phenomenon, hence BBC Africa Eye’s attempt to provide evidence for the phenomenon.

BBC Africa in October this year released an expose revealing how lecturers in higher learning institutions sexually exploit female students.

The expose’ centered on the University of Ghana and University of Lagos, both prestigious tertiary institutions in Ghana and Nigeria respectively. 

Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Butakor of the University of Ghana were captured. Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the University of Lagos, following the expose’, was dismissed.

Though interdicted, the University of Ghana is yet to decide the fate of Prof. Gyampo and Dr Butakor.

Year of Return (February)

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo being so passionate about his declaration of Ghana 2019 as the ‘Year Of Return’ invited himself to the durbar in Jamestown to personally welcome our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora

The ‘Year of Return’ initiative implemented by the government marks exactly 400 years since the first black slaves landed in Jamestown Virginia in the United States. 

Ghana initiated the ‘Year of Return’ to invite all Africans in the diaspora back home to not only learn more but explore and even invest in the country.

Since the initiative began, many African Americans have made their way into the country to learn more about their history. Some were Steve Harvey, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Micheal Jai White, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons, Cardi B and many others.

Government is also reported to have made a little over $1.9 billion dollars in revenue from the initiative.

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Ghana rice [November]

First Lady of The Republic, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has supported local rice consumption and urged the public to patronise it
First Lady of The Republic, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo supported local rice consumption and urged the public to patronise it

The Ghana Rice campaign has caught up with almost everybody now.

Ghanaians have for a long time developed strong taste for foreign made rice as compared to one produced on their home soil.

Ghana spends about $600 million annually importing rice. Images of unsold Ghana rice produced in the north went viral on social media last month sparking a national campaign to encourage the consumption of Ghana rice.

December 17 referendum & recall (October – December)

Remember this issue and all the noise the NDC and New Patriotic Party made about it? Yeah, you do remember. For most Ghanaians just like me, the debate between the two major political parties about the referendum was just to score political points and nothing else.

Especially, when the opposition party the NDC celebrated the repeal of the referendum as a ‘win’ and a ‘victory’ for them. 

Well, the referendum was to amend article 55(3) of the constitution which bars partisan politics at the local level and allow political participation in local level elections.

It was also to amend article 243(1) of the constitution, striping the President of his power to appoint local authorities (MMDCEs). The amendment of article 243(1) would have meant that the electorate would be allowed to elect their own MMDCEs.  

However, the referendum slated for December 17, was out of the blue aborted by President Nana Akufo-Addo in a televised address to the nation on December 1, 2019, on the basis of “lack of national consensuses on matters relating to the referendum.”

And so there you have it; these were the topmost headlines for 2019. More news content especially for you in 2020.

Compiled by Dorcas Abedu-Kennedy and Fuaad Dodoo