As a news person, 2018 has been a year of headlines. I have not been able to lift my fingers off the keyboard of my old Dell laptop all year.
Ta ta ta ta, I type away to bring my readers trending issues daily online.
This year, I seem to have forgotten how a day without news feels like because there have always been some jaw-dropping items to write about to feed the curious minds of my readers.
So what made headlines in 2018, as we prepare to bid it farewell, never to return while we welcome 2019.
To make this piece simple and easy to digest, why not group the topical issues under sub-themes. Shall we begin with the hard news to the soft news or vice versa? I’m confused. Hold on! Let me toss a coin.
Ok, so I tossed and hard news won, so, let's begin from there.
JOHN MAHAMA’S COMEBACK
Former President John Dramani Mahama in May this year broke his silence and announced his intention to contest in the 2020 polls in a Facebook post. Well, Mr Mahama would first have to beat competition from Mr Goosie Tanoh, Joshua Alabi, Sylvester Mensah and Alban Bagbin in the NDC’s congress to get the nod to lead the Akatamanso party in 2020. The former president appears to be in the lead and stands a better chance of winning when the Congress takes place later in January 2019. It will, perhaps, be the headline story for 2019 if he loses but time will tell.
ANAS VS KENNEDY AGYAPONG
Will there ever be a year where the vociferous Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central in the Central Region, never makes the headlines? This year, the “mewo-sika-nti-me-y3-too-known” lawmaker had a serious altercation with award-winning investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas. Mr Agyapong disagreed with the modus operandi of Anas’ investigative work and ended up calling him unprintable names.
But what was Anas’ crime? Well, the investigative reporter produced a documentary that exposed deep-rooted corruption in Ghana football which led to the eventual suspension of GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi from all football-related activities (we’ll talk more about Kwesi Nyantakyi and Anas when we get to sports news for the year).
Mr Agyapong, to prove his point against Anas, produced his own documentary titled: “Who watches the watchman”, where he sought to discredit Anas. In the documentary, the character Anas was seen soliciting for money to kill a story. Yes, Mr Agyapong had a crowd at his Ken City property at Madina, Accra, to watch the documentary, and at the end of the day, he wooed a few people to believe Anas was dirty.
Before the premiering of “who watches the watchman”, Mr Agyapong released photos of Anas to unmask the always-hooded journalist. I still don’t know what Mr Agyapong sought to achieve by unmasking Anas though.
That was some story in the month of May but it has all ended up in court where Anas is suing Mr Agyapong for defamation. We’ll get to know the outcome in 2019 perhaps.
KOKU ANYIDOHO’S COUP COMMENT AND ARREST
Koku “The Bull” Anyidoho made headlines in March this year when he was picked up by the police for making treasonable comments.
In case you have forgotten what he said, let me refresh your memory.
Mr Anyidoho told Happy FM on Monday, 26 March that: “Somebody should tell Nana Akufo-Addo that history has a very interesting way of repeating itself.
“On January 13, 1972, a certain Col. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong led a movement that removed the Progress Party from power. Busia was the Prime Minister and Akufo-Addo’s father was a ceremonial president. Somebody should tell Nana Akufo-Addo that history has a very interesting way of repeating itself.
“There’ll be a civil revolt. There’ll be a people’s movement. During President John Mahama’s tenure didn’t we receive similar threats from the likes of Let My Vote Count and OccupyGhana.”
“There’ll be a civilian coup d’etat; there’ll be a social revolution and the movement is starting on Wednesday. He [Akufo-Addo] will be fed up at the presidency,” Mr Anyidoho said.
The man who had given all NDC supporters fake hope that Mr Mahama was in a “comfortable lead” in the 2016 election, spent some time in the bosom of the BNI and was eventually released. Okyena nso biom!
RAWLINGS TELLS ANITA DESOSO TO STOP BLEACHING
Now, this cracked me up in June this year. “She is getting too fair, let’s stop those things on the body; let’s stop using that soap, it’s not good. She says she is my daughter so let me say it. Tomorrow, too come and say I’m your father”, Mr Rawlings scolded Desoso at a durbar of NDC cadres in Accra to mark the 39th anniversary of the June 4 Uprising.
Did I hear you ask who Desoso is? She is the former National Vice Chairperson of the National Democratic Congress. When you find the time, google her picture and be the judge as to whether or not she is, indeed, using “that soap”. Oh, Mr Rawlings does not shy away from speaking what is on his mind. That was a big BOOM!
AKUFO-ADDO FIRES BOAKYE AGYARKO
In August, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo sacked his Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko.
Mr Agyarko’s dismissal was in connection with the Novation and Amendment Agreement of the controversial $150 million Ameri deal signed by the John Mahama administration.
Mr Agyarko came under heavy criticism when he claimed that Ghana will gain $405 million from the new power deal with Ameri Energy but it was discovered that the country will rather lose up to $472 million.
The Senior Staff Association of the Volta River Authority (VRA) described him as “incompetent” and called on Nana Akufo-Addo to fire him.
Let me pause here on politics and move to another theme.
And the biggest business news this year goes to MENZGOOOOOOLD!
It is sad that thousands of depositors have unfortunately lost their investments to the gold-trading firm, but how can this be ignored in my headline review for the year.
Menzgold was in the news for all the bad reasons. Menzgold’s “wahala” began in August this year when the Bank of Ghana (BoG) warned Ghanaians to desist from trading with the company because it had not been licensed to take deposits.
CEO of the company, Nana Appiah Mensah, a.k.a. ‘NAM1’, ‘Sikani Baakop3’, ‘Youngest billionaire’ knowing he had “l’argent” attempted to fight the state agency to stay away from his operations.
He arrogantly called the BoG a joke in a now-deleted tweet and apologised later when he realised he could not finish what he had begun. The Menzgold boss’ tweet read: "TODAY'S JOKE: Bank of Ghana, so now you dey do propaganda? ??? I beg paa "Tell Ghanaians exactly what happened with the 5 or so collapsed banks you duly LICENSED & SUPERVISED for years. Please don't attempt to use our dear Menzgold to cover up?. I beg make we think!".
The BoG and the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) has shut down the business and Menzgold has since failed to fully pay its numerous aggrieved customers the value on their gold deposits as well as their entire investments.
Many have threatened to sue NAM1, who is missing in action – his whereabouts unknown.
This “bronya” (Christmas) I daresay will be bitter for Menzgold clients. I empathise with you.
In August, five local banks collapsed. They are uniBank, Sovereign Bank, Construction Bank, The Royal Bank and The Beige Bank.
Many staff of these banks, unfortunately, lost their jobs. This is a sad one and I do not want to dwell on it further but the directors of these banks, the government says, will be prosecuted if found guilty of having played roles that led to the collapse.
2019 will be interesting.
THE BIRTH OF CONSOLIDATED BANK
This year, Ghana welcomed the birth of a new bank, Consolidated Bank Ghana. The five collapsed banks namely; uniBank, Sovereign Bank, Construction Bank, The Royal Bank and The Beige Bank were fused to form the Consolidated Bank Ghana.
MIDLANDS SAVINGS AND LOANS POLICE ASSAULT
2018 has been bad for business in the country. Midland Savings and Loans got publicity money cannot buy in July when a police officer on duty at its Shiashie branch assaulted a woman carrying her grandchild at the banking hall.
The victim had insisted on withdrawing a sum of GHS270 from the facility as her previous attempts to withdraw the money days back had failed due to a network challenge.
The officer, Frederick Amanor Skalla, who was on security duties at the financial institution, was called to escort her out but ended up beating her in the process. The video of the event went viral and angered the public.
Something good, however, came out of it when the poor grandmother was later compensated with a 2-bedroom house and a hefty amount. Skalla was also arrested. Since this incidence, I have noticed police officers posted at banks and other financial institutions have become extremely nice and will not even touch you if you deliberately misbehave. One Beating-One-House. Blessings, indeed, come in diverse ways.
GOLD COAST AND NDUOM
Gold Coast Fund Management owned by business mogul Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom has struggled to pay some 12,000 clients their investments.
In December this year, the clients petitioned the authorities requesting the arrest of Dr Nduom, one of his sons and five others over their locked-up funds.
The company, however, says the monies of depositors are safe. I say pay them if the money is truly available. Dr Nduom “sika no wo hen?”
In February this year, the entertainment industry was saddened by the death of arguably, the fastest-rising star the country has ever seen, Ebony Reigns.
The ‘Maame Hw3’ hitmaker died through a car crash at the tender age of 21. Her songs continue to enjoy massive airplay on radio, TV and at every entertainment event. Even in death, Ebony “Reigned” and won the 2018 VGMA Artiste of the Year in April.
Continue to Rest in Peace 90’s Bad Girl and continue to reign.
PATAPAA’S BLUE SUIT
How can we forget Patapaa’s oversize blue suit at the 2018 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards? The One Corner hitmaker’s suit on the red carpet stole the night. He was ridiculed on social media but the Swedru artiste could not be bothered.
All hell broke loose, however, when he missed out on the Most Popular Song of the Year Award to Fancy Gadam’s “Total Cheat”. Remember he said in an interview that “Wobete Won Dwii”?
MOESHA BOUDONG’S CNN INTERVIEW
This was a big one which hit many Ghanaian feminists hard.
The socialite told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Ghana’s economy is so bad to the extent that women are compelled to have sexual affairs with men just to survive.
“[In] Ghana, our economy is in such a way that you just need someone to take care of you. You can’t make enough money as a woman here because even if you want to get an apartment, in Ghana you pay two years in advance and I just started working, where will I get money to pay for an apartment for two years,” she told Amanpour in an interview.
Christiane Amanpour: Are you basically telling me that you have sex with this guy essentially to pay your rent?
Moesha Boduong: Because he can afford to take care of you, he takes care of me, my financial stuff: my apartment, my car, my rent, everything.
In return, Moesha said her man “Expects me to be loyal and just to date him only and give him sex when he wants it”.
Now, while some women descended on her for disgracing Ghanaian women on an international platform like CNN, others supported her claim. Hate or love her, Moesha gave us a lot to ponder in April.
SHATTA WALE’S REIGN ALBUM LAUNCH
The much-anticipated Reign album launch came off successfully in October at the Fantasy Dome, Trade Fair Centre. Shatta Wale did not only make headlines for the thousands of Shatta Movement fans he pulled to the place, but also, for proposing to his baby mama Shatta Mitchy live on stage.
And oh! it was later disclosed that the Gringo hitmaker turned down a surprise performance by his bitterest rivals Stonebwoy and Samini. There is never a dull moment with Shatta Wale.
SARKODIE’S “ADVICE” TO SHATTA WALE
Uncharacteristically, rapper Sarkodie released a diss track attacking Shatta Wale for blowing his own trumpet as the richest Ghanaian musician. This was just a day or so to the Reign album launch.
The song, titled “Advice”, took social media by storm. The rapper fired strings of salvos at Shatta Wale.
In response, Shatta Wale bought a new Mercedes-Benz saloon car and registered it “Advice 1 – 18”.
In this tough economy, what would we have done without our entertainers who make us forget our sorrows temporarily?
BANDS OF MARRIAGE
BECCA’S MARRIAGE/JOHN DUMELO TIES THE KNOT/SARKODIE
Singer Rebecca Acheampong known in showbiz as Becca married her Nigerian beau Tobi Sanni Daniel in August. Even before the icing on their wedding cake could melt, news trickled in that Sanni Daniel was already married with two kids. No one has provided evidence yet. The couple are still married and I wish them the best.
Actor John Dumelo also tied the knot in May. The traditional ceremony took place at the residence of his fiancée, Gifty Mawunya Nkornu at Spintex in Accra.
Sarkodie and long-time girlfriend Tracy also got married in July.
We wish them all the best!
WENDY SHAY’S STUPID QUESTION
As a journalist, this infuriated me to the core. Wendy Shay, the new sensation who many argue is replacing the late Ebony, in November described a question as dumb and walked out of an interview.
What did the poor journalist ask? “Who is Wendy Shay?”
The innocent question angered the sexy songstress who felt: “If you don’t know me, why are you interviewing me?” “Brofo ye duru”, so, she clearly did not understand the question and instead of asking for clarity, did the most “childish” thing ever – storming way.
The question was a brilliant opportunity for Wendy to have sold herself to the public and touted herself as the next big thing but she failed big time.
I will spare her because she has had enough reproach from Ghanaians on social media and I hope she has learnt that there is nothing like a dumb question.
This is an area, I think we have failed as a nation. It is 2018 and a country like Ghana cannot provide ambulances for emergency services.
A population of 29 million Ghanaians share 55 ambulances. It is my wish that the narration will change in 2019. Mr President, over to you and your government.
Ghana is going hi-tech. We are resorting to the use of drones to supply blood and other essential medical supplies to rural areas to save lives. The Minority in parliament is against the move, some Ghanaians are against the move but the government says it will help with emergency services.
In a country where we lack enough nurses, doctors, hospitals and health facilities, is the drone a priority at this time?
Another school of thought also wonders if we should wait to get everything in place before we introduce drones to save lives? I will sit on the fence on this one.
The Akufo-Addo government is bent on building a National Cathedral for interdenominational Christian services despite opposition from some Ghanaians including Christians.
The Government says it is only providing seed money while Archbishop Duncan-Williams and his team of ministers find the chunk of the money for the construction of the cathedral.
As a Christian, I know God says he does not reside in buildings and that he lives in our hearts. So, is the cathedral necessary in this tough economy?
Yet again the Bible tells me that Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David.
Since the taxpayer is not paying for the construction of the building, I say let’s build it. I have noticed that once Akufo-Addo makes up his mind to do something, nothing can stop him.
KITCHEN STOOL SEX POSITION
Ghanaians discovered a new sex position called the ‘Kitchen stool’, thanks to a young schoolgirl.
The 18-year-old girl taught Ghanaians that the Kitchen stool can be used for pleasure as well.
In January, a video of Mr Seppey, the headteacher at Adumanu D/A Basic School in the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District in the Central Region having sex with his student on a kitchen stool went viral on social media.
Something good came out from the whole scandal – some of us can now give out kitchen stools as wedding gifts.
NUMBER 12 AND KWESI NYANTAKYI
Who can forget Anas’ Number 12 documentary that exposed what we already knew but had no evidence to prove – corruption in Ghana football.
The documentary led Mr Nyantakyi to resign as GFA president. FIFA has also subsequently banned him from all football-related activities.
Ghana football has also come to a halt and a Normalisation Committee has been set up to oversee the formation of a new GFA and to restore Ghana football to its old glory.
This is, however, not new, as many countries have gone through this and bounced back stronger. I hope Ghana football can do the same.
France won the World Cup for the second time in July. Unsurprisingly, no African team made it to the next stage of the competition.
Isaac Dogbe became the new WBO Super Bantamweight Champion in April when he knocked out Jessie Magdaleno but ended the year on a rather sad note when he lost his title in December to Mexico's Emmanuel Navarrete. Better luck next time champ.
2018 WOMEN’S AFCON
So, Ghana hosted a successful Women’s African Cup of Nations and the ‘host and win’ mantra became nothing but a fallacy.
Nigeria won the coveted trophy for a record ninth time while our Black Queens could not even make it past the group stages.
I can forgive the team though, because Ghana football is still under reform.
JOURNEY TO THE OTHER SIDE
Before I end, a minute’s silence for these departed souls.
They are Kofi Annan (UN Sec Gen.), Amissah Arthur (Fmr Vice-President), J.H Mensah (Diplomat), Atukwei Okine (Poet), Ebony (Musician), Yusif Abubakar (U-23 Coach), Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko (MP), Nurudeen Abass (Kumawood Actor).
May their gentle souls rest in peace.
Merry Christmas folks. 2018 has been tough but exciting. Once there is life, there is hope. See you in 2019.
By: Emmanuel Mensah/Online journalist