The first month of 2016, January was an interesting news month with a mix up of health, crime, and most of all political stories as the nation prepares for elections in November.
Ghanaians slapped with high taxes
Ghanaians began the year on a rather aggrieved note as an energy sector levy introduced by government triggered an almost 30% hike in prices of petroleum products from January 1 despite crude oil prices falling below $30 per barrel on the world market.
Before that, electricity and water tariffs had gone up by 59.2% and 67.2% respectively from December 14th 2015.
Hundreds of workers across the country protested to register their displeasure with the ‘killer taxes and increases’ imposed on them.
The electricity tariffs were reduced from 59% to 45%, for domestic consumers who consume between 0 – 50 units of power, effective February 1, after a meeting between government and the Trades Union Congress.
Amakye Dede getting involved in accident and losing manager
Legendary Musician Amakye Dede got involved in a nasty car crash that killed his manager, Isaac Yeboah.
Amakye sustained some serious injuries but he recovered after being transferred to Korle-Bu from the Eastern region where the incident occurred.
The remains of Isaac Yeboah were transferred to Cape Coast for burial. He was buried on Saturday, January 30.
Two Ex Guantanamo detainees ’transfer to Ghana
Also in the first week of January was the big issue of Ghana hosting two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees for two years.
The two, Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby and Muhammed Omar Mohammed Bin Atef were part of 17 detainees sent to countries such as Uruguay, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Oman.
Their transfers were part of President Barrack Obama’s effort to fulfill a 2008 campaign promise to close down Guantanamo Bay.
Many Ghanaians kicked against the acceptance of the two for fear that they might attract terrorists to the country.
The clergy insisted that government must returned the two Yemini terror suspects after they had an emergency meeting with government officials.
Government Communicators had said that no money was given to the state in the deal to keep the two. Some few days after, the Public Affairs Counselor of the US Embassy in Ghana, Mr Daniel Fennell came out to say that the upkeep of the two was a shared responsibility between Ghana and the USA.
Just when everyone thought the dust about the two had settled, four Republican senators in the USA called for cutting of foreign aid to Ghana if the two former prisoners escape or return to terrorism.
President Mahama meets the press
The president met a section of Journalists at the Flagstaff House in Accra on January 12th and answered questions from them. The interaction covered issues of corruption, tax hikes, the state of the economy and other trending issues.
He denied claims that government was paid a huge amount to for accepting to host two ex Guantanamo Bay detainees.
He justified the taxes imposed on petroleum products by saying that people who own private cars can pay a bit more tax.
Boyfriend of Sian Blake runs to Ghana
Amidst the Gitmo issues was another story which got almost all the international media focusing on Ghana – the Ghanaian boyfriend of British Actress Sian Blake-who was wanted for the murder of Sian and their two sons-coming to hide in Ghana.
On Saturday January 9, Simpson-Kent was arrested by police detectives from a thicket near Butre where he was hiding in the Western region.
Subsequently, he was put before court to be extradited to the UK to face justice but his lawyers told the court he wanted a voluntary extradition.
Then the shocker! Hassan Ayariga forms political party
He had reportedly formed breakaway party, All People’s Congress (APC) from the PNC to contest in the 2016 Presidential race.
This came after his loss to Dr Edward Mahama in the PNC’s presidential primary held in the Upper West regional capital, Wa, last December.
Mr Ayariga was reported to have picked up certification forms from the electoral commission. But the EC came out to deny some claims that it had registered a new political party.
The PNC has since begun moves to get its former Presidential Candidate, Hassan Ayariga to back down on plans to lunch his own political party.
Then in the last two weeks, there have been news about the outbreak of Pneumococcal Meningitis in Ghana.
Over fifty people have died out of the 246 reported cases.
The first reported death emerged from the Tain district in December but the disease spread to Wenchi, Techiman, Bruohan, Kintampo, and Sene in January.
Some cases and deaths were recorded in Bole in the Northern region then later in the Ashanti region.
Volta region also got hit by Cerebrospinal Meningitis aside the Pneumocoaal Meningitis in the course of the month.
The most recent cases were recorded in the Eastern, Greater Accra and Western regions.
The situation has caused a lot of panic and anxiety among residents in the eight affected regions.