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31.12.2009 Feature Article

2009 in retrospection

2009 in retrospection
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On Wednesday morning, the Super Morning Show on Joy FM looked back at what happened over the year 2009. However, there was not enough time to cover everything, so over the next two days we will be reviewing the year here on the SMS blog, looking at intriguing stories in politics, sports, entertainment, governance and more. Here's what we felt stood out this year.

1.The President's inauguration
While it was a great occasion following the tense elections, folks may remember the ceremony more for President Mills' fumbling over his words, a trend that would repeat itself at various points in the year. Most notable of these was his now infamous 'ecomini' gaffe, a 'remix' of which went on to become a popular ringtone.

2. Rawlings vs. Mills
After only a week in office, President Mills found himself on the receiving end of former President Rawlings' ire for failing to dismiss district chief executives and other senior public officers appointed by the NPP. Again this would be a recurring trend through the year.

3. 'Ex-gratia' enters the popular vocabulary
The Chinery-Hesse Committee recommended that former President Kuffour be given 6 luxurious cars, 2 houses (one in and the other out of Accra) and 1 million dollars for his retirement package. Ghanaians responded in disappointment, shock and anger that politicians who are supposed to be protecting the little we have insisted on such hefty pay checks.

4. Horror at Winneba
The general public was horrified by images of people burnt to death after a leaking oil tanker exploded while residents of Winneba were trying to scoop up some of the fuel.

5. To the Speaker, the spoils…
The former Speaker of the House was said to have illegally taken items including cutlery, napkins, curtains, bed sheets, pots, washing machines, flower pots and even soap dishes. Mr. Sakyi-Hughes however offered to pay for all the items he took away- $300,000

6. Otumfour hits a decade
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II celebrated the 10th year since he ascended to Golden Stool with a durbar of chiefs and the people of Asanteman at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.

7. The return of load shedding
Just when we started to think it was a thing of the past, the nation sighed as load shedding made a comeback earlier this year, while the grid underwent the beginnings of an overhaul.

8. The BNI loses its edge
From retrieving vehicles from former government officials and stopping Asamoah Boateng from flying out of the country, to grilling former government officials without lawyers present, the BNI were a major media fixture this year. After the NPP stormed their headquarters in solidarity with former Chief of Staff, Kwame Mpiani, however, the tables started turning. Officials began suing the body and winning, denting the Bureau's fierce reputation a little.

9. Muntaka's kyikyinga
The President's tough stance on corruption during the elections took a blow as one of the young stars of his new administration, then Sports & Youth Minister, Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed was implicated in a scandal. Accountant Adim Odoom claimed the minister requested for 1000 Ghana cedis per match for the services of a fetish priest, and demanded refunds for household items (like baby products and mouthwash), meat and other food items. Mr. Mubarak is also said to have travelled to the CAN tournament in La Cote d'Ivoire with the parliamentary majority leader's secretary, insisting the ministry pay for her ticket.

10. Farmer Ayariga and his tractors
The presidential spokesperson's acquisition of tractors raised many question in the public domain, the biggest of which was whether the “chopping” had started or whether the vehicles were sold to him for the right prices.

11.1.3 billion cedis on 'Item 13'
The Mills administration set a possible new profligacy record by spending 1.3 billion cedis just on food and 'eatables' for the transition team. Meanwhile, the nation pulled out calculators to decide whether the government had broken an election vow to keep needless spending to the barest minimum.

12. Accra caught unprepared for flooding… again
Once more, hundreds of Accra residents found their property submerged or destroyed by heavy seasonal rainfall. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo's frustration spilled over on the FRONTPAGE, saying nothing had changed since his very first show which was about the same issue. Everybody looked to see whether government would show enough resolve to grapple with the situation once and for all and clear obstructions over the city's waterways. We are still waiting.

13. Ghana International Airlines goes down
Ghana International Airlines went the way of its predecessor, Ghana Airways, and fell into debt. The government would later decide to withdraw its financial support, leaving the future of the company looking bleak.

14. Appiah-Ofori and his claims
The allegation by the MP for Asikura Obobeng Brakwa, P.C Appiah Ofori, that his NPP colleagues took bribes to approve the privatization of Ghana Telecom proved too hard for many to swallow.

15. Obama does Ghana
America's superstar leader confounded Kenyans (and upset many a Nigerian) by choosing Ghana as the first African country he would visit as American President. With the whole world watching us (over a woefully poor quality broadcast feed), Ghanaians lined the streets, musicians penned songs, and ministers fell over themselves to take pictures of the man with their mobile phones. The President even made time to meet Blakk Rasta and his family's trip to Elmina Castle became iconic.

16. MPs demand R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
MP for Adansi-Asokwa, KT Hammond questioned the competence of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation director-general, William Ampem-Darko, and the GBC boss retorted with a few insulting words of his own, directed not just at KT Hammond but at his colleagues also. One lawmaker filed a complaint with the privileges committee of the house. A hearing was fixed and Mr. Ampem-Darko was forced to apologize.

17. Committees!
It seems the Mills Administration have a lot of issues to get to the bottom of as it set up a record number of committees to carry out investigations and give recommendations on a wide range of issues. One such committee produced the Ishmael Yamson report, which failed to make the impact expected, with some even questioning whether the committee had the jurisdiction to look into the ex-gratia issue.

18. Ghana @ 50 probe begins
Back in the 90s, Americans watched the OJ Simpson trial live. Fast forward to 2009 and Ghanaians were treated to the grilling of several businessmen, politicians and government officials during a probe into the spending of money on the [email protected] celebrations. Investigations are ongoing and the Attorney General has hinted that this saga may yet prove interesting next year.

19. Jailtime for the (in)famous
Models around the country wondered where their next pay cheque would come from as the proprietor of Exopa, the nation's premier modeling agency, was jailed for attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country. In the same year, everyone from G Man and Tsatsu Tsikata to alleged criminals, Tagor and Abass, were freed from jail.

20. The toilet takeover
In a combination of desperation, indiscipline and a failure to understand the workings of democracy, young NDC supporters seized everything from NYEP offices to toilets – yes, toilets - from NPP officials. While the nation laughed, the story found its way to the BBC and caused chuckles in the international community.

21. NPP amends constitution
The constitutional amendments approved by NPP delegates at their special congress in Accra were forward-looking and paved the way for the various political parties to devolve power to the grassroots. The delegates approved all the proposed amendments – except one: the one tabled by the party's Parliamentary leadership to help them contest unopposed for re-election.

22. Pastors, predictions and inner sanctums
Pastors were all the rage this year. While some claimed to have been ordered by God to clean women's vaginas, Pastor TB Joshua incurred the ire of many Ghanaians after claiming to have been behind the Black Starlets' historic Junior World Cup victory. According to the Pastor, he was coach to under-21 coach, Silas Tetteh.

23. Zita
It would be difficult to forget the many attacks on the competence of information minister, Zita Okaikoi, this year, even by members of her own political party. She did not disappoint when she appeared before parliament's appointment committee. However, she seemed to live up to the expectations of her critics thereafter. After one nervous interview on JOY FM, she became difficult to contact…

24. The Mabey and Johnson scandal
A court hearing in London raked up trouble for a few politicians earlier this year. The politicians were alleged to have received bribes of about half a million pounds to secure contracts for bridges and roads in various parts of the country for British construction firm, Mabey and Johnson. Alleged recipients included Health Minister, Dr. George Sipa-Yankey, who resigned to clear his name, as well as former Finance Minister, Kwame Peprah, former Works and Housing Minister, Boniface Siddique and Accra-based businessman, Baaba Kamara, who was subsequently made Ghana's High Commissioner to Nigeria.

25. Spio Garbrah pissed in…
Spio-Garbrah questioned the President's judgment in putting together what he famously called a 'Team B' governing team, saying that a good number of the people serving in the Mills administration had not been appointed on the basis of merit but by virtue of proximity to power, feigned loyalty, financial considerations and other factors. He said many Ghanaians believed the Mills-Mahama administration could have put its best foot forward faster.

26. Supercop or Superbad?
Kofi Boakye got his job back as a senior police officer after almost three years on interdiction. However he was not completely off the hook though. A service enquiry instituted to investigate his conduct resulted in the recommendation by the Georgina Woode Committee that he should still be prosecuted.

27. Vodafone report comes… and goes
After a long wait, with many thinking that government had been groping in the dark for months, frantically looking for something to smear the previous administration's agreement to sell majority shares in Ghana Telecom to the UK's Vodafone… nothing unlawful came up. In the end, the government could only reengage Vodafone in 'discussions' with the British company was not obliged to do anything.

28. Mo Ibrahim, no money
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership has become the world's most prestigious and financially-rewarding Presidential retirement package and it would have crowned what some consider a distinguished double term as president of Ghana for former President Kufuor. Competing against the likes of South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Obasanjo, our former leader was widely tipped to win. His fans were however shocked after the prize committee said that none of the contenders – including Mr. Kuffuor - made the grade.

29. Burn ministry burn
The fire that gutted the Foreign Ministry will not be forgotten for a long time to come. Without the necessary equipment to put out the inferno, fire personnel looked on in confusion as the blaze caused havoc. The next day, the president and other top government officials visited the scene of the destruction, expressed shock and spoke a few platitudes. The President promised to ensure that the Fire Service is better equipped to ensure that next time they do not join spectators in admiration of any future infernos: words that needed to be spoken. But will they be backed with deeds?

30. MPs take 'troskies'
In a country where public transport is often considered a curse on the hustling and the impoverished, the decision by some ministers of state and MPs to use public buses (popularly known as 'trotros'), was as unusual as it was significant – at least for them. They said they wanted first-hand experience of how the public transport system works. Deputy transport minister, Dzifa Attivor, told the BBC that parking her luxury sedan and opting for a 'trotro' ride gave her some insight. The public looked on bemused, hoping the refresher course would lead to some improvement in their daily hustle.

31. Petrol goes up
Whilst in opposition, the NDC poured venom on the Kuffuor administration each time petroleum prices were increased, chastising Kuffuor and his men for doing little to cushion Ghanaians against the vicissitudes of the global oil market. President Mills promised to keep petroleum prices to the barest minimum but the hardships of many Ghanaians increased by five percent when fuel prices were finally increased.

32. Private Seth Goka out?
Many found it hard to believe when Private Seth Goka seemed to just get up and walk out of the military detention facility he was being kept in as one of three soldiers standing trial for the murder of Alhaji Issa Mobila. Word later came in that he had been sent on assignment. People still found it hard to believe.

33. Budget 2010
After the budget was read out, many in and out of parliament scratched their heads and wondered why it sounded so familiar, with some saying it was suspiciously similar to the Kuffour Administration's 2009 budget. It however highlighted social and economic initiatives, including the building of more schools, improvements to the railway system, rehabilitation of Kotoka airport, a reformed tax system, building of affordable housing units, and restoring tariffs on rice products.

34. World Toilet Day
For one day this year, lots of fun was had talking about one interesting topic – the toilet: how we use it, where we do it and when we do it. World Toilet Day gave personalities the likes of Ato Kwamina Dadzie the chance to let 'everything' out in solidarity with the many people around the world without access to toilet facilities. Yet in spite of many Ghanaians' experiences with 'free range' or 'tie-and-throw', World Toilet Day failed to make much of an impact here.

35. Fall of the Berlin wall is celebrated around the world

The fall of the Berlin wall meant a big deal not just to the East Germans who earned their freedom with the collapse of the 96-mile concrete barrier. It also meant a big deal for the rest of the world. The iron curtain came down with the wall, marking the beginning of the end of the cold war and the eventual collapse of communism. Several world leaders gathered in the German capital to commemorate it as a remarkable milestone in world history.

36. Bawku “strip show”
The Bawku Military command denied stripping two suspected gun naked and parading them through the Bawku Township until a video tape of the incident surfaced . The men were both arrested following a shooting incident. The Military was criticized for its handling of the suspects seen paraded in the streets naked.

37. Kinarphama swoop
Kinapharma! The mention of this name in recent times immediately brings to the mind what the business community described as a series of events that kill entrepreneurship and the spirit of innovativeness. This is because a swoop at the company's warehouse upon suspicion they were dealing in narcotics, the police's handling of the issue and the media reportage that followed threw up a huge storm that took a while to settle completely

38. Koku Anyidoho is dragged to parliament
The director of communications at the presidency was ordered to appear before the privileges committee of parliament. Koku Anyidoho was reported to have made some disparaging remarks about some MPs, starting with the minority spokesman on communications. He is alleged to have described some MPs as irresponsible in media discussions over comments by Kwame Pianim that President Atta Mills is incorruptible.

39. Decongestion halted?
After reports from the Daily Graphic and Times that the decongestion exercise was halted, the mayor of Accra, Alfred Vanderpuije, claimed he had not received any instruction from the president to halt his decongestion exercise. That was strange and threw up all sorts of questions. First, who should we had believed – Vanderpuije or the two state-owned dailies – Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic. The presidential spokesperson Mohammed Ayarigara, had to later come in to clear the air.

Source: Super Morning Show, Joy FM

MyjoyOnline, © 2009

The author has 338 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: myjoyonline

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