Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Bethlehem sells ore interest

Bethlehem Steel, the major U.S. steel group, and the Liberian Government have signed an agreement for the sale of Bethlehem's 25 per cent interest in the iron ore mining operation known as the Lamco joint venture to a new corporation to be wholly owned by Liberia.

As part of the transaction reported in the Financial Times, Bethlehem will enter into an ore-purchase agreement to buy about 2m tons of ore per year for three years. The management of the Lamco joint venture, delegated to a Swedish group headed by Granges of Stockholm, is not affected by the transaction.

Until now the Lamco joint venture was owned 25 per cent by Bethlehem Steel and 75 per cent by Lamco, a corporation owned 50 per cent by the Liberian Government.

The agreement will be submitted for approval at a meeting of the Lamco board of directors today in New York.

Mano Union summit

Guinean Head of State, Colonel Lansana Conte and President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone arrived in Monrovia for a one-day summit of the Mano River Union.

The two leaders were met by their Liberian counterpart, Gen. Samuel Doe, and a crowd of expatriate Guineans who turned out to welcome their new leader, who took power on 3rd April. The summit was expected to discuss contributions of member-states to the union's 1984/85 budget and the position of Secretary-General, which Guinea argued last year should be rotated between Monrovia and Conakry.

Aliens on govt. payroll

Gen. Samuel Doe has appointed a committee to work with government ministries and departments in identifying non-Liberian employees on government payroll. The committee members were drawn from the Police Force, the Special Security Service, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalisation, the Joint Security Commission and the Ministry of National Security.

On 8th May, the Liberian leader gave his ministers and chief executives of parastatals one week to furnish him with the names of foreigners in their employ, but the new announcement implied that the deadline had been extended. According to the announcement, five ministries had so far identified 109 persons whose names had been forwarded to Gen. Doe's office.

Treaty with Gambia

Liberia and the Gambia have agreed to revive the treaty of friendship and co-operation signed between the two countries about 10 years ago. According to the Liberian news agency, a joint communique reviving the treaty was signed in Monrovia last week by Head of State General Samuel Kanyon Doe and Gambian President, Sir Dawda Jawara, at the end of a three-day visit to Liberia by the Gambian leader.

The treaty, which was signed in 1974, provided for co-operation between Liberia and the Gambia in the political, economic and cultural fields. Under the communique the two West African leaders agreed to establish a joint ministerial committee headed by their respective Foreign Ministers to meet annually in the two capitals alternatively.

They also emphasised the importance of developing trade between their two countries in the spirit of the ECOWAS and in compliance with the Lagos Plan of Action.

Israeli economic aid

The Government of Israel has stated that it would continue to assist Liberia in its economic development programme. The assurance was given by the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhaq Shamir, at a meeting in Israel with Liberia's Defence Minister, Maj-Gen Swiss financial assistance Gray D. Allison.

Later Israel radio reported a senior official in Jerusalem as stating that Israel was willing to provide Liberia with military aid against those opposing or undermining the Govern- ment if that became necessary. The official had noted however that the matter had not been discussed in depth at the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister who was visiting Israel.


Relations with France

The advisor of President Francis Mitterrand on African and Malagasy affairs, Mr Guy Penne has emphasised that there is no misunderstanding between Yaounde and Paris. He told reporters after he was received in audience by President Paul Biya. Twice reporters asked him insistently about relations between Cameroon and France, and twice the French President's adviser said there was no problem between the two countries. The first occasion was after the audience at the unity Palace and the second at Yaounde airport.

He said "We recognise states and not government. At any rate, it is quite a long time since President Biya became Cameroon's Head of State and we maintain excellent personal relations. I do not see why there should be any problem. The President of the French Republic is opposed to all acts that may be considered as a kind of interference in the internal affairs of states. That is France's position." Guy Penne's visit was the first high level contact between the two countries since the attempted coup in April. Some sources thought the Cameroon authorities would like more positive support from France in connection with what was known as the Ahidjo group, named after the former President who was at present in France and whose relations with the present administration were 'decidedly bad'.

Solidarity from Niger

Following his meeting with President Biya Niger's Information minister Daouda Diallo said he had come to express his country's solidarity with the people of Cameroon following the unfortunate events of 6th April.

Two agreements on financial and technical co-operation have been signed between the Governments of Cameroon and Switzerland. The monies will be used to finance the city planning development of Douala. Through these agreements the Swiss Government has granted a loan worth 10,000,000 Swiss francs - this is about 1,900 million CFA francs - financial assistance and also donated as 1,800,000 Swiss francs for technical assistance and support actions.


Threat to state security

A former Upper Voltan ambassador to Ghana, Paul Rauamba, has been arrested in connection with an attempted coup against the government of Captain Thomas Sankara.

The authorities have so far refused to comment on earlier reports that the coup plot was foiled last week, a day before it was due to be launched, and that about 10 army officers and non commissioned officers were arrested.

The daily newspaper Sidwaya quoted a source close to the police as saying that they were investigating "a matter concerning state security" and were in control of the situation. Among those arrested was Lieutenant Moumouni Ouedrago, former aide to ex-president Sangoule Lamizana.


No trains to move timber

Wood products worth about 20 million cedis have piled up at the port of Takoradi due to lack of vessels to ship them overseas. According to Radio Ghana another large quantity of timber products was blocked at Kumasi, because there were no trains to move them to the ports. It quoted Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Yaw Donkor, as calling on Ghana's leading timber export firm, the Mim Timber Company, to renew an agreement under which it would undertake to repair some of Ghana's bad roads on behalf of the highways authority.

After cocoa, timber is one of Ghana's most important foreign exchange earners. The government said earlier this month that it would invest 341 million dollars over three years to modernise its timber industry.

Dissolution of NDC secretariat

The Volta Regional secretariat of the National Defence Committee (NDC) has been dissolved with immediate effect. Announcing this at Ho, the head of the complaints and investigations department of the NDC, Dr Ansah Asamoah said if the allegations levelled against the members of the secretariat are proved all those involved will be made to face the public tribunal.

Meanwhile a 10-member interim board has been appointed to manage the secretariat for a month until a permanent secretariat is appointed. It is headed by Frank Adoba, acting Ho district co-ordinator.

New law on Yendi affairs

The Government has reviewed the chieftaincy situation in the Yendi traditional area which has been a source of tension and in some instances led to the loss of life and property. Accordingly, the Government has decided that the prevailing conflicts and disputes be settled by resort to the. judicial process.

For this reason, the Provisional National Defence Council has promul- gated a new law - Yendi Skin Affairs Appeal Law, 1984. By virtue of the new law, any person aggrieved by the findings of the committee of inquiry appointed under the Yendi skin affairs committee of inquiry instrument, 1972, may within three months from the commencement of the new law appeal against such findings to the Court of Appeal.

The new law also stipulates that where such person is aggrieved by the decision of a court of appeal, he may appeal to the Supreme Court against such decisions.

The Inspector General of Police has warned that if anybody indulges in acts of lawlessness as a result of the enactment of this law, he will not hesitate to deal with the party or parties involved in such acts in accordance with the laws of the land.

Asylum seekers

The Government has warned strongly that it will take stern action against people found issuing fake releases from the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) information office asking people to report in connection with the investigations to seek political asylum in some Western countries.

A statement issued in Accra said people pay fees ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 cedis depending on the urgency of their case through agents within certain revolutionary bodies to have their names published in the national dailies as wanted persons who should be caught without delay or face the consequences.

A copy of the publication is then sent to those already out of the country to support their applications for asylum, while those about to leave the country arm themselves with such publications which they present to the year. immigration authorities to support their claim that they are wanted for political prosecution by the PNDC.

The statement asked all the organs concerned to be vigilant and vet all those whose names are to be published in the national dailies.

Beware of enemies

On the fifth anniversary of the 4th June revolution, the Force Commander, Maj-Gen Arnold Quainoo, urged members of the armed forces to eschew inordinate ambition and try as much as possible to maintain a high standard of discipline in the performance of their duties

Addressing contingents of the armed forces, the police service and the prison service at the El-Wak Stadium in Accra after a route march through the principal streets, the Force Commander called for co-operation among the forces and the various security agencies in building a great country.

Maj Gen Quainoo emphasised that the strength of the country does not depend on the forces and the security agencies alone. The various components of the population have an important role to play.

The Force Commander reminded the force that five years ago there was a big social upheaval in the country, culminating in the frontal attack on ills such as financial mismanagement and the deviation from the path of justice and ushered in the period of accountability.

He said it is therefore proper that the anniversary be used for stocktaking of the past. He said the armed forces have resolved never to turn back to the path of destruction. The Force Commander stressed that there are many enemies both in and outside the country, but re emphasised that either by land, sea or air the enemies be crushed.

General Quainoo advised members of the armed forces to be wary of the enemies within the country as they would tempt them with wine, women and money. A contingent from the Upper Volta armed forces took part in the route march.

Cattle from Upper Volta

Four hundred head of cattle valued at more than 75,000 dollars are to arrive in Ghana by the first half of next month under an economic cooperation agreement reached between Ghana and Upper Volta. The number is the first batch of a total consignment of about 24,000 head of cattle worth about 5,000,000 dollars which are expected in the country by next March

This was disclosed in Ouagadougou by the Secretary for Agriculture, Mr John Ndebugre after the agreement signing ceremony. Mr Ndebugre said under the terms of the agreement special arrangements have been worked out which will allow payment of one half of the total consignment through the barter system and the other half by hard currency.

Ghana on her part will supply Upper Volta with salt, sawn timber and cola nuts as part of the agreement.

Border with Ivory Coast to reopen

Ghana and Ivory Coast are to step up co-operation in the geological field, including oil exploration, for their mutual benefit. The two countries are also to work toward the reopening of their common border to ensure even movement of their people. These were contained in a communique signed by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries at the end of the sixth session. of the Ghana-Ivory Coast joint permanent commission for co-oper ation in Accra.

In the communique, both Ghana and Ivory Coast reaffirmed their solidarity toward the international cocoa agreement and called for the revival of the Ghana-Ivory Coast border demarcation commission as well as the resumption of the friendship games between them.

The three-day meeting discussed co-operation ties in the fields of agriculture, fishery, trade, education and health. It also reviewed co-operation in industry, mining and energy and culture and sports. The two countries also signed an agreement under which re sources in fisheries would be exploited for use in the interest of their peoples. In his closing remarks the Ivorian Foreign Minister, Mr Simeon Ake said the successful conclusion of the meeting opens a new stage in Ghana Ivorian relations and hoped the two countries will harness their efforts to defend the interests of their people. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Obed Asamoah, said future cooperation between Ghana and the Ivory Coast is bright.

Meeting with Polisario Front envoy

An envoy of the Saharan Arab Democratic Front has told Flt-Lt Rawlings that the Polisario Front was determined to attend the next OAU summit. At a meeting the Ghanaian leader replied that his country would do all it could to ensure the diplomatic and political consolidation of the Polisario Front. He hoped Algeria would continue to give direct assistance to it.

Co-operation with Yugoslavia

Ghana and Yugoslavia have signed a protocol agreement on scientific, technical and economic co-operation in Accra. Under it, the two countries will increase their volume of trade and step up investment in agricultural and industrial sectors.

Yugoslavia will import cocoa products, processed timber, mangan- ese ore, natural rubber, industrial diamonds and other exportable products, while Ghana will import constructional and industrial machinery, tools for wood and metal works, agricultural equipment, food process- ing machines, cotton yarns, fertilizer and irrigation machines. Other items Ghana will import are tyres and tubes, vehicle batteries, pharmaceutical materials, and drugs for human and animal treatment. The rest are metal and steel sheets, galvanised sheets, spare parts and other exportable Yugoslav products.

The Secretary for Local Government, Kwame Dwemo-Kesse, signed for Ghana, while the leader of the Yugoslav team to the joint Ghana- Yugoslavia permanent commission for co-operation, Dimitrije Tasic, initialled for his country.


Islamic bank's aid

Two agreements on finance amounting to 11,000,000 dollars have been signed at the Ministry of Finance by Minister of Finance and the principal legal adviser of the Islamic Development Bank. The two agreements are within the framework of the Bank's assistance to Sahel countries affected by the drought and will enable our country to meet its needs in the villages.

Canadian food aid

Canada is to provide Mali with food aid worth 500,000 Canadian dollars under the terms of an agreement signed in Bamako.

The agreement, which will allow Mali to buy 700 tonnes of millet, sorghum and corn seed, was signed by Naki Tall, Mali's director of international co-operation, and Denis Briant, who runs a Sahel programme at the Canadian embassy in Abidjan.

Canada is participating in a programme aimed at making Mali self- sufficient in food. This currently involves a sowing project in the western region of Kharta.


Journalists go on trial

A special tribunal has commenced hearing charges against two journalists under a decree drafted after their arrest. They are Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor, Senior diplomatic correspondent and assistant news editor respectively of the Guardian both of whom have been in detention for nearly two months.

They had been arrested by the security agents over reports published in the paper in April of appointments to Ambassadorial posts. The tribunal headed by a high court judge was set up in pursuance of Decree 4 under which any journalist found guilty of false publication could be jailed for two years, without the option of a fine.

The judge is Mr Olaler Ayinde with the following military officers as members of the tribunal: Major Sanni Ahmed Fari, Lt. Commander Joseph Ekeng Ewa, and Squadron Leader Clifford Maigari. Mr Tunde Beecroft, a civil servant is secretary.

When the two journalists were brought before the Tribunal last Tuesday, they were both charged with contravening the public officers (protection against false accusation) law, better known as Decree No. 4.

Graduate unemployment

The Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brig Tunde Idiagbon has said in Lagos that the Federal Military Government had decided to set up a ministerial committee to study the curricula of the universities and make recommendations which would streamline them with national aspirations. Brig Idiagbon, who was speaking on a Radio Nigeria programme "Matters of the moment", said that the type of education being offered by the country's universities was not entirely relevant to the needs of the country. According to him, this was responsible for the high rate of graduate unem ployment in a situation where numerous vacancies existed in technological fields.

The Chief of Staff said that in order to ensure a uniform, standard and proper management of the country's universities, the Government had decided to appoint members of the governing council of all the universities as soon as possible. He said that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, in collaboration with the preach. National Universities' Commission, had been requested to examine the role of the Federal universities of technology vis-a-vis the conventional ones.

Expected rise in population

The country's population, officially estimated at 80 million, is expected to rise to 95.6 million next year.

According to a Federal Office of Statistics report, urban and rural population figures are expected to reach 15.4 million and 80.2 million respectively next year.

Ivory Coast releases aircraft

The private jet flown illegally out of Lagos to Abidjan on 19th May has been released to Nigerian Government officials on the orders of the Ivorian President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny. According to the West Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the plane left Abidjan for Lagos on 1st June, minutes after Ivorian aviation officials handed it over to Nigerian Embassy officials and a six-man delegation led by the commandant of Murtala Muhammed airport, Wing Commander Ahmed Tijani.

The agreement also provided for the release of the British crew of the aircraft, Capt Mike Howard and Beatrice Spalding, a first officer.

Nigerian diplomats in Abidjan said that although they were satisfied that the aircraft had been released to Nigeria, they would have preferred that the crew members were repatriated to Lagos to help with investigations and possibly face charges.

Control on preaching

The Kaduna State Government has directed that from now on only learned and responsible religious teachers should be permitted to preach in public. In a statement in Kaduna, the Governor's office said that in the case of Muslims, a licence should be obtain ed by such preachers from the Jama'atu Nasril Islam, while Christians should obtain theirs from the Christian Association in Nigeria.

It explained that the measures were taken in the interest of peace and stability of the State. The statement adds that at the local level, all accredited preachers must submit their licences for screening to a committee in the local government areas where they

The Government also banned the use of cassette recordings which contain abusive language and ordered that cassettes containing religious recordings from accredited preachers should be played only in private houses.

In Bauchi State, open religious preaching has been banned in order to curb the activities of those who preach violence under the guise of religion. Religious preaching has been restricted to churches and mosques.

Role of tourist industry

The Chief of Staff Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon has urged media practitioners to promote made-in-Nigeria goods and to propagate agriculture as a means to revamp the economy.

The Federal Government, he said, planned to improve the tourism industry in view of the vital role it could play in the country's economic and social development. He said that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries had al- ready embarked on a programme aimed at revolutionising the tourist industry. Successive governments, he noted, had given consideration to the development of tourism as a foreign and assist her where possible. exchange earner as well as an instrument of national integration, but regretted that organisations established in the past to promote tourism had failed to produce the desired results.

The Chief of Staff said that the administration was examining all Government investments with a view to withdrawing from those activities in which the private sector could perform better. In a developing country like Nigeria, he said, it was only proper for the Government to have controlling shares in some industries in view of their strategic nature, adding that the Government had been de-emphasising investment in the public sector.

Reacting to criticisms of the 1984 budget, Brig Idiagbon said that all the measures taken by the administration were aimed at introducing a new spate of manufacturing activities in Nigeria.

The Chief of Staff attributed the difficulties in obtaining money from the banks to the fact that the new currency had not been given the opportunity to flow freely. The pressure on cash, he said, was being aggravated by salary payments which coincided with the normal requirements of currency exchange. He dispelled the rumour that the flow of currency was being restrict ed but pointed out that the Government was only interested in controlling the money in circulation.

Prohibition of food exports

Nigeria will no longer allow her foodstuffs and other essential commodities to be taken out of the country because of the present economic situation. This was stated at Dodan barracks by the Head of State, Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari, while receiving a special message from President Seyni Kountche of Niger. General Buhari said that the Federal Military Government was looking into ways of regulating trade between Nigeria and her neighbours. He announced that a committee would be set up to look into the possibility of establishing corridors of trade on the borders where organised trading and banking facilities could be established. Maj Andja Mamadou, a member of Niger's Supreme Military Council and governor of the province of Tahoua, who delivered the message, had earlier said that his country was worried about the closure of her borders with Nigeria. He said that President Kountche sent the message in the belief that Nigeria would appreciate the position of Niger


Grant from Saudi King

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia has granted 20 million dollars to Guinea. Earlier the Guinean leader Lansana Conte, had received the Deputy Saudi Foreign Minister, Hassan Rashash who gave him a personal message from the King. The Guinean Prime Minister Diarra Traore assured Islamic states that his government would uphold Guinea's traditional committment to Islam.

talking drums 1984-06-11 trial of ex-governors Onabanjo rejects verdict - Akata-Pore why I fell out with Rawlings