Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Famine defies description

The BBC correspondent in the Republic of Ivory Coast has noted that the hunger in Ghana defies description. Contributing to the 'World Today' a current affairs discussion programme on the BBC World Service last Monday evening, Mr Thompson attributed the famine problem in Chad to the perennial internal strife in that country. The programme examined famine in Africa and Ghana and Chad were selected as case studies in West Africa.

On Ghana which together with Chad were described by the panelists as the two most desperate cases in West Africa, this BBC correspondent in Five not involved in plot neighbouring Ivory Coast could only regret the fact that Ghana once used to be an exporter of food and was today faced with famine that defies description and explanation.

Kugblenu is retired

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Raphael Kugblenu, has been retired. In a statement issued from the Office of the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council Mr S.S. Omane has been appointed the new head of the police. Mr Kugblenu has been appointed ambassador-designate.

Aid agreements with Canada

On February 28th Ghana and Canada signed three bilateral agreements totalling 15,000,000 dollars. The Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, signed for Ghana and the Canadian Minister of State for External Relations, Mr Jean- Luc Pepin, signed for his country.

The first agreement covered a grant of 50,000,000 dollars for the import of fertilizer from Canada. The second was for a water utilization project, under which Ghana will receive a Canadian grant of 3,700,000 dollars over a period of five years for the provision of technical personnel, material, tools and short-term training of Ghanaian project staff for the supply of water in the Upper Region.

The Canadian Government will grant about 7,000,000 dollars under the grain development project for five years.

Reservations about OAU's use of funds

The OAU Ministerial Conference has approved an amount of 25,000,000 dollars for the year 1984/5; 70,000,000 have also been voted for the Liberation Committee. This was disclosed to newsmen in Accra by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Obed Asamoah, after leading a four-member delegation to the ordinary session of the OAU Ministerial Council in Addis Ababa. Dr Asamoah said Ghana was not happy about how funds put into organizing OAU meetings are used.


Five not involved in plot

Defence counsel in the treason trial has asked the military tribunal to release five of the sixteen accused persons for lack of evidence.

The counsel, Captain George Tulay told the special court that the prosectu- tion had failed to prove that the five were involved in a plot to overthrow General Doe's government.

The prosecution had earlier claimed having strong evidence implicating Major Moses Duopoh, a former official of the Peoples Redemption Council, Major Kolonko Luoh, a former deputy agriculture minister and the three others.

A total of 19 persons were on trial for alleged treason on 27th December after the authorities said they had uncovered a plot against the government in the previous month.

Belgians to aid oil industry

The Liberian Government has concluded a 22 million dollar agreement with a Belgian Firm "VDK" to co-ordinate the entire public sector oil palm project in Liberia.

Head of State, Dr Samuel Kanyon Doe, disclosed this on his arrival home from Belgium.

The project will include the modernization of old mills as well as the installation of new oil mills and the setting up of infra-structure for the collection and buying system from small holders and the establishment of a Palm Oil Refinery. Dr Doe said that a central management and marketing corporation will be established for these activities. The Liberian Leader said as a result of the contacts his delegation made during the visit, Belgian businessmen have expressed interest in investing in low cost housing, shoe industries and agriculture in Liberia.

Discussions with EEC

The Belgian Government has granted the Liberian Government a soft loan of two million dollars for the purchase of the BUTAW Oil Palm Mill.

Reporting this in an address to the nation on his return from Belgium, where he was invited by that government for a six-day visit, the Liberian leader hoped that the loan will pave the way for further co-operation between both governments in the oil palm business.

The Head of State also said that the Belgian government had agreed to explore the possibility of participating in the development of other business sectors of Liberia, including canning and sugar industries, livestock and mining.

While in Brussels, the Liberian delegation visited the European Economic Community (EEC), and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), headquarters where fruitful discussions took place.

At the EEC, Dr Doe said the Liberian delegation reviewed govern ment's projects to be financed from the 35 million dollars indicative program approved by the EEC for Liberia under the fifth European Development fund of the Lome II Convention.


Tribunal sentences former ministers

A people's revolutionary tribunal has handed down various sentences to the following ministers. Harouna Traore - former Minister of Higher Education and Albert Patouin Ouedraogo, former Minister of Education - acquitted; Georges Sanogo, former Minister of Planning and Co-operation - three years suspended jail sentence, fine of 10,000,000 francs, and reimbursement to the state of 4,657,476 francs and payment of 2,328,738 francs in damages, failing which property to the value of the reimbursement and damages will be confiscated; Domba Konate, former Minister of Education - three years suspended sentence, confiscation of property to cover reimbursement to the state of 2,512,000 francs, and payment of 1,258,000 francs damages; Mrs Sige, nee Traore, one year suspended sentence and reimbursement to the state of 480,347 francs; Sanon Drammane, former Minister of Youth and Sports - fine of 50,000 francs and reimbursement to the state of 450,000 francs; Sibsie Faustin, former Minister of Higher Education - acquitted, but reimbursement to the state of 135,000 francs; Kabore Gnankieta three years suspended sentence, fine of 1,000,000 francs, and reimbursement to the state of 902,400 francs and payment of damages of 451,000 francs.

The tribunal spokesman said the people's revolutionary tribunal has now ended its session and thanked the Upper Volta people for attentively following its sitting.


No date set for summit

No date has yet been set for this year's Organization of African Unity, OAU, summit, the interim Secretary General, Peter Onu has said in Addis Ababa. He told a press conference that the summit will be held at a date to be fixed after consultations between the host country, Guinea, and the OAU Secretariat.

At the last summit in June 1983, Guinea put forward May 25th, the anniversary of the founding of the OAU, as the date for the Conakry conference. However, observers in Addis Ababa say it is doubtful that any summit will take place without progress on the thorny questions of Chad and the Western Sahara.

Nigeria requests repayment

Nigeria spent about 59,800,000 naira on behalf of the OAU in its peacekeeping operation in Chad, the Minister of External Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Gambari has said in Lagos. Dr Gambari told the News Agency of Nigeria that Nigeria made a representa- tion on the issue to the recently- concluded 40th ordinary Ministerial Council meeting of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He said that the council referred the matter to the organization's next summit scheduled to take place in Conakry, Guinea, later in the year. The Minister, however, said that the Federal Military Government was prepared to co-operate with the organization in working out a repayment schedule convenient to both sides.

Arab bank's loans and aid

The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa has provided 812,000,000 dollars since its establishment in 1975, the United Arab Emirates representative to the bank has said in Dubai. Yusuf as-Sarkal told Al-Bayan newspaper that the bank had offered 78 loans, 12 donations and four credit loans to African countries in addition to sponsoring a special pro gramme serving 11 countries and three organisations.

The aid had been extended to 39 African countries and the loans had been offered at an interest rate of 5% with repayment over 17.5 years with a three to four year grace period.


Bongo defends one party system

The sixteenth anniversary of the founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party was marked last Wednesday with a speech by President Omar Bongo in which he once again justified the adoption of the one-party system. The first reason, according to Omar Bongo, was the unfortunate experience with the multiparty system in Gabon from 1960 to 1967 which accentuated tribalism, regionalism and clan division.

The second reason given by President Bongo was that the multiparty system is foreign; it belongs to the whites, therefore it is not adapted to or rather it is in opposition to the realities of African politics. To him, it is surprising and inadmissible that Gabon, or black Africa, should adopt the multiparty system as if our continent did not have any political experience.

The third and last explanation given by President Bongo is the size of his country. The Gabonese Head of State asked the question: Why should Gabon which is such a small country, small in size and with a population of less than 1,000,000 have many political parties when big nations such as China and the Soviet Union have only single parties? President Bongo reasserted his firmness on the issue: While I am President of this country, there will be no multiparty system.


Accusations over aircraft explosion

A committee of inquiry is expected in Ndjamena, to throw light on the attack against the DC-8 of the French company, UTA, on 10th March, - an attack in which 23 people were injured but which could have turned into slaughter if the bombs had exploded in mid-flight. Meanwhile Goukouni Oueddei has accused French military circles in Ndjamena of being the ones behind the blowing up of the French transport plane... In a statement to a JANA reporter he explained that the French military circles in Chad sought, from the blowing-up operation, to continue their war and continue their support for President Habre.


French financial assistance

Mamadou Toure, the Minister of Economy and Finance, and the head of the French mission for co-operation in Senegal has signed two agreements totalling 440,000,000 CFA francs.

Under the first agreement, a sum of 250,000,000 CFA francs will be used to finance a rural development project in Upper Casamance. The second agreement involved a sum of 190,000,000 CFA francs which will be used for extension works at the Ziguinchor hospital.


Canadian loans

The Canadian Government has granted a total of 24,600 million CFA francs as a loan to aid various rural and urban developments projects. Of the 24,000 million francs, 15,000 million will finance the purchase of Canadian goods and services for priority projects in transport and com munications, energy and education and agro-industry.

The visiting Canadian Minister of State for External Relations, Jean-Luc Pepin, reviewed current trade between Cameroon and Canada and said that the trade imbalance was apparent and not real. He admitted that trade remained low, hence the desire of the others." Canadian Government to offset this through increased development aid.


NPP aimed to cause violence

The army has announced that documents seized from the proscribed NPN (Nigerian People's Party) revealed that the party endorsed a plan for the purchase of arms and ammunition to cause widespread violence and destruction in the country. A statement by the Army Public Relations Department, signed by the Director, Lt-Col Rueben Fashina, said that the NPP planned to spend 3,000,000 naira to execute the plan it tagged "Lagos plan of action".

The statement also said that the proscribed party had established guerrilla training camps in different parts of the country and embarked on the mobilisation of Nigerian workers to disrupt the economy through constant strikes. It warned members of the public to desist from any actions capable of causing violence, adding "any person or group of persons found to be involved would have himself or themselves to blame". It reiterated the present military Administration's determination to protect the lives and properties of all Nigerians, adding that it would not tolerate any act calculated to undermine its authority.

Naira won't be devalued - Idiagbon

Nigeria will not, under any circumstance, devalue the Naira, to meet one of the requirements by the international monetary fund, IMF, for assistance to the country. The Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, declared this while answering a reporter's question at a press briefing for Media Executives in Lagos last week. He said that Nigeria's uncompromising stand on the issue was made manifestly clear during recent negotiations with IMF officials in Washington by a delegation led by the Federal Minister of Finance, Dr Onaolapo Soleye.

Brigadier Idiagbon stated that Nigeria was not prepared to devalue her Naira for the purpose of importing rice, adding, as a last resort: "We will be eating our cassava, maize, yams and others

Stampede at markets

There was a stampede at Okiare market and some other markets in Lagos metropolis last week which was linked with the rumour of an invasion of the country. According to Radio Nigeria, an investigation conducted by their defence correspondents showed that the market went into stampede following rumours that there had been a change of government and that a British national had taken over power. Their correspondents alleged that the rumour was part of a plan by Nigerian fugitives in the United Kingdom and the United States to destabilize the Federal Military government using their collaborators in the country.

Foreigner linked with riots

An expatriate teacher has been linked with the recent religious disturbances in some post primary schools in Borno. The State's Military Governor, Maj Gen. Abubakar Wzari speaking on an NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) Maiduguri programme said that the expatriate teacher was found to be responsible for the distribution of "highly provocative leaflets".

He said that the expatriate belonged to an organization in the country with 40 members. Maj-Gen. Waziri said that the expatriate had been handed over to the NSO (National Security Organisation) for interrogation and would soon be repatriated.

The State has witnessed a series of religious disturbances in some post- primary institutions which led to the closure of five of them.

Ondo expels aliens

About 500 illegal immigrants in Ondo State have been repatriated in the last five months, the State's assistant direc-. tor of immigration, Akin Adebari, said in Akure. Mr Adebari told the News Agency of Nigeria that most of the immigrants were from neighbouring ECOWAS states.

He said that about 5,000 aliens acquired resident permits in the State, adding that those whose permits were not renewed had left the country. The assistant director said that the number of alien teachers requesting to renew their permits had reduced in the last three months.

SMC approves six decrees

The Supreme Military Council, SMC, has approved a number of proposals brought to it by the National Council of State. At a meeting, the fourth to be held by the Council since its inception early in January, it considered matters of national importance and took decisions on them. These include efforts made by the Federal Military Government (FMG) to promote friendly relations between Nigeria and other countries.

The Council also reviewed the national security situation and approved the recommendation of the National Council of State that a judicial inquiry be set up with immedi ate effect to look into the recent religious disturbances in Gongola State.

And to make for speedy implementation of the programmes of the mili tary administration, the Council considered and approved six decrees that are to be of immediate application. They are (1) Political parties' dissolution and prohibition decree 1984... (2) Exchange control anti-sabotage decree 1984... (3) Banking - freezing of accounts decree 1984... (4) Public officers' protection against false accusation decree 1984... (5) Robbery and firearms special provisions decree 1984 this decree sets up special tribunals for the trial of armed robbery and firearm cases and (6) Recovery of public property, special military tribunals decree 1984.

Forces ready to defend nation

At a news conference in Lagos last week about his "maiden tour" of Air Force formations, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Alfa expressed satisfaction with the morale of the officers and men of the Air Force and gave the assurance that they were ready at all times to defend the nation's airspace against any aggression

He warned that anybody who violated the country's airspace, especially for offensive purposes, would have himself to blame. On training, he stressed that the Nigerian Air Force now intended to train its officers within the country in that armed forces personnel should be trained in the environment where they were expected to fight. He stated that all contracts involving equipment and material for the Air Force should again be negotiated. He said that if some of them were not compatible with the Force's requirement, they should be terminated.

On the reorganization now going on in the Nigerian Air Force he remarked that some officers were leaving the service voluntarily while others were compelled to do so in accordance with the revolution, stressing that there was no purge because there were no bad eggs in the air force.

Ban on open air religious preaching

The Bono Police Command has banned open air religious preaching to prevent the religious disturbances in neighbouring Gongola from spreading to the State. The Command said in a statement that it had restricted all religious activities to mosques and churches. The Command appealed to members of the public to co-operate with it by reporting persons suspected to be religious fanatics to the police.

Aid for religious victims

The Federal Military Government has The Borno Police Command has donated 1,000,000 naira to the Gongola Government in aid of the victims of the religious disturbances in the State capital. Presenting the cheque to the acting Military Governor of the State, Lt-Col. Cyril Iweze, a representative of the Federal Government, Navy Capt. Suleiman Saidu, said that the amount was part of the Federal Government's effort to ensure that all persons who suffered losses because of the riots were compensated.

Receiving the cheque, Lt-Col. Iweze said the donation was a commendable gesture and said that the money would be used to alleviate the sufferings of displaced persons.

talking drums 1984-03-19 war games in Lagos - EEC aid with strings - sugar the essential commodity