Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Biya vows not to fail

Head of State, Paul Biya, has not only reshuffled his cabinet. He has also reaffirmed the fundamental objectives of the Cameroon National Union party (CNU) as the vital catalyst of national unity and national construction. In a press interview with the national newspaper Cameroon Tribune, the Head of State however regretted that this underlying role of the party was not given its desired dimension during the unfortunate incident of 6 April.

He stressed the necessity for party militants and officials to rid the entire party of acquired habits which, he remarked, are no longer tolerable within the new deal democratic options.

Outlining measures already taken within the party hierarchy to render it more functional, President Biya recalled the recent renewal of the party Political Bureau and shake-ups within its Central Committee Secretariat.

Questioned on the present state of the economy, President Biya reassured his fellow citizens and foreign economic partners that the Cameroonian economy was doing fine in spite of what he described as subversive and destabilising manoeuvres coupled with the difficult world economic situation. The economy is inextricably linked to agriculture and the nation's rural community. The Head of State talked of careful studies underway to render village communities economically viable while not alienating the socio-cultural values of the diverse traditional settings.

Answering on the next case of political, economic and administrative reforms announced last 10 April following the insurrection, President Biya reiterated his vow never to fail in his duty. He appealed to the national community to respond as committed patriots to the project of a new Cameroonian society underway by radical change in mentality and collective mobilisation for corresponding improvements to all sectors of national life.

On the role of the national press in promoting the new deal options, President Biya hailed the positive participation of the national media in dissipating the misconstrued and misinformed press publications on Cameroon. The Cameroonian journalist, as a man of the people, the Head of State remarked, must possess such ethical traits as high personality, a sense of responsibility and devotion to service in the high interest and ideals of the new deal society.

Upper Volta

Sankara misses Buhari at airport

Head of State, Capt. Thomas Sankara, has sent a message of "brotherhood and friendship" to Major-General Muhammadu Buhari.

According to a statement from Gen. Buhari's chief press secretary, Capt. Sankara's message was made "in the name of the people of Upper Volta and on my own regard."

In the message, Capt. Sankara said he wished to renew to the people and government of Nigeria his most sincere feeling of "brotherhood and friendship." The message also recalled his stop-over in Lagos and referred to Nigeria as a beautiful country." The Upper Voltan leader arrived in Lagos hours behind schedule last week and missed Gen. Buhari as a result.

Owing to his late arrival, full protocol could not be accorded him. Gen. Buhari, accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon and the service chief, had waited at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja for about three hours without seeing him.

When Capt. Sankara's plane finally touched down, two hours after Gen. Buhari had left the airport, Mr Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of External Affairs, welcomed the Upper Voltan leader with whom he held discussions.


Loan for hydroelectric project

A financial agreement for 5,000,000 dollars (approx. 2,000 million CFA francs) was signed on 27 June in Lome between Togo and the Arab Bank for African Economic Development (BADEA). The loan is for co-financing the Nangbeto dam on the Mono River - a regional project for the development of hydroelectric power in Togo and in the People's Republic of Benin.

Ivory Coast

New tactics of train robbers

Organized gangs who rob passengers after putting them to sleep and sometimes even ambush trains are discouraging travellers from using the Ivory Coast to Niger trains service, the Railway Company has said in a statement released in Abidjan.

The Abidjan-Niger Railway Company (RAN), whose line now runs from the Ivorian capital to as far as Ouagadougou, has warned passengers about the so-called 'sleeper gang', whose members put passengers to sleep in order to rob them. The robbers usually invite passengers into the train's bar, where they slip drugs into their drinks, the statement said.


Writ against Ga Mantse

The Church of Pentecost has filed a writ an Accra High Court against the Mantse, the Nai Wulomo and the Traditional Council asking the court for declaration that the ban on drumming issued by the Council on May 27 this year illegal and contrary to the rules of equity and natural justice.

The church is also seeking damages for wrongful seizure of the church's property and the recovery of such property which they claimed were unlawfully seized by the defendants from various Assemblies of the Church.

The writ filed by Koi Larbi & Co solicitors for the plaintiffs, is also claiming damages from the defendants for assault and battery on its members and a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, the servants or agents from entering the plaintiffs church to assault members, destro church property or in any way obstruc church services.

Discussions with VALCO resume

Representatives of Ghana and the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) were scheduled to meet again last week in the sixth round of the negotiations to restructure the VALCO Agreements. A release from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said both parties had expressed their intention to try and resolve all the major outstanding issues between them in the course of this round.

New organisation formed in US

PNDC Secretary for Information, Miss Joyce Aryee, has inaugurated a Ghanaian organisation in New York. new The organisation, the Coalition of Patriotic Ghanaians in North America, is an umbrella body including the Solidarity Committee for the Sovereignty and Independence of Ghana based in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Concerned Citizens Group of New York. Its objectives include advancing the economic development of Ghana and defending, progressive institutions "as well as creating a forum for the exchange of views and ideas.

The Coalition also plans to establish contacts with other Pan-African groups. Miss Aryee challenged critics of the government abroad to "come out and debate if they have issues of principle. We are not afraid of them, in fact we pity them" she declared. Earlier, the hall where the meeting was held, was evacuated by security men following a bomb scare

Distribution of baby food

The Ministry of Trade has announced that all registered pharmacy shops in Accra have been allocated 500 cartons each of baby food for sale to nursing mothers only. They should arrange to collect their consignments from the Ghana National Procurement Agency immediately.

Importers to reapply for licences

The Ministry of Trade has told importers and traders who are still holding unutilised Special Licences to re-apply. This is because the Ministry will not accept any licences issued between January 1 and June 30, 1984 which expired on June 30, 1984.

Green Book Club want boycott

Participants at a symposium organised by the Green Book Study Club in solidarity with the struggling people of southern Africa have called on the Ghana National Olympic Committee (GNOC) to boycott the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

In a resolution, unanimously adopted, the participants condemned the continued military, economic and moral support of the United States Government to the racist regime in South Africa. It also condemned the continued use of the US veto at the UN Security Council of sanctions against the apartheid regime in its murderous activities against the majority of Africans in southern Africa.

The resolution was critical of US business concerns and financial institutions in Namibia which assist the illegal South African occupation forces to perpetuate the crude apartheid policy in that country in defiance of world opinion.

No more importation of alcoholic drinks

The Ministry of Industries, Science and Technology has decided to suspend the granting of import licence for the importation of alcoholic drinks into the country. Instead, a bulk allocation of import licence would be given to the Ghana Sugar Estates to import molasses for the distilla tion of alcohol for sale to the distilleries.

Dr Yaw Boadu, Secretary for Industries, Science and Technology, disclosed this at a meeting with the Interim Management Committee (IMC), of the Ghana Sugar Estates Limited (GHASEL), in Accra.

Suppliers credit for timber firms

Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has given its support to supplier's credit negotiations being entered into by some timber firms in the country and recommended for the serious consideration of others.

Mr Kwesi-Renner, Secretary for Lands and Natural Resources, made this known at a meeting he held with exporters of logs and timber products at Sekondi. He said the supplier's credit facilities would go a long way to remove the timber men's over dependence on import licence to get items needed for their industry.

The meeting was convened principally to discuss problems facing the exporters and to find ways and means of solving them.

Tribunal faces kidnap threats

The Tema Sub-regional public Tribunal could not sit for two days because of threats to either kidnap or assassinate the chairman and other members.

Disclosing this to the public the chairman, Mr Alfred Agbesi said one such attempt on him took place at midnight on June 16.

He indicated that threats on the lives of members of the panel were known to the Tribunal and warned those concerned to realize the futility of their obnoxius designs because "ours is to interprete the law vis-a-vis offences brought before the Tribunal ''. The chairman was of the opinion that those plots could only be hatched by friends and relatives of accused persons brought before the Tribunal.

EIB and IDA loans

The government is to receive a 31,300,000 dollar loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International Development Association (IDA); 25,000,000 dollars of the sum is from the IDA for the second phase of the Ghana oil palm development project and 6,300,000 is from the EIB for the Tema oil refinery.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said the loan is for rehabilitating the Tema refinery through the provision of essential spare parts, replacement of some equipment and the provision of consultancy and management support services.

In the case of the oil palm development 2,500 ha of oil palm would be planted, 75 km of road constructed and the oil mill extended.

The European Bank Loan has an interest rate of 2% and is repayable over 10 years with a further 10 years grace. The IDA loan is repayable over 40 years with a 10 year grace period. It has an interest rate of 0.75%.

Visit by Ghanaian evangelist

Ghanaian evangelist Abraham Ophel de Love, president of the World Crusades Evangelical Ministry, is due in Lagos soon on a month's tour of Nigeria. A Guardian report quotes Mr Daniel Opoku Ampofo, secretary/director of the ministry in Lagos that a planning committee has been set up to co-ordinate the visit.

While in the country, the Rev. de Love will deliver lectures for the youth, church leaders and the business community. The evangelist will be accompanied by a team of ministers and directors of the World Crusades.


Danish loan for rice project

A 5,000,000 dollars loan has been provided by Denmark for the Kpatawi and Gbedin rice projects in Bong and Nimba counties. An Agriculture Ministry press release said the loan would be used to purchase mechanised harvesting equipment and for the erection of drying and storage facilities. These facilities are expected to maximise production of nutritional seed rice at the experimental station.


Meeting on Chad basin

For the first time since 1964, the Chadian River Basin Commission, made up of Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, have begun a working session at the expert level in Ndjamena. The meeting, which will be followed by a ministerial conference, is concerned with areas of co-operation such as agriculture, water and forestry resources and civil engineering.

The experts will also tackle administrative, institutional and financial questions. The ministerial conference will be particularly concerned with defining new objectives in order to revive the commission.

EEC financial aid

The EEC Commission has approved additional financial assistance for Chad project, totalling 1,200 million CFA francs. The grant is within the framework of the Fifth European Development Fund (FED) aid programme and is not refundable. It will be used for the rehabilitation of the Sarh Moundou-Lere road. The total cost of the project financed by the FED amounts to 2,000 million CFA francs.

Reconciliation meeting on Chad

The UNIR (National Union for Independence and Revolution) Central Committee, meeting under the chairmanship of Hissein Habre, has stated that the Brazzavile meeting can only take place between the legitimate Chad government and various other opposition groups.

The Central Committee gave its full agreement for the conference for national reconciliation to be held in Brazzaville but on the basis of the meeting taking place between the legitimate Chad government on the one hand and various opposition groups on the other. Secondly, the conference must be preceded by one of many. preparatory meetings in order to provide it with maximum guarantees of success.


Loan agreements

Dr Chadli Ayari, President of the Arab Bank for African Economic Development (BADEA) and Finance Minister, Isidore Amoussou, have signed a loan agreement totalling about 2,000 million CFA francs aimed at financing the Nangbeto dam construction project.

On the same occasion the government signed two financial agreements with France. The first for 20,000,000 CFA francs, will be used for road maintenance. The second agreement will help develop the Ouidah north irrigated land.

Another agreement with ECOWAS has been signed in Lome at the headquarters of its co-operation, compensation and development fund. This agreement, which totals 2,000 million CFA francs, is for the construction of two bridges over the Mano and the Tagoue rivers.


Keep watch over fugitives

Eleven new non-career civilian ambassadors have taken their oath before Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari at Dodan Barracks, where they were told to include fugitive watching in their schedule of duties.

They are retired Col. Sanni Bello, who is posted to Zimbabwe; Mr Muhammadu Ambursa (Sokoto State) for Portugal; Mr Gaius Maduforo Anoka (Imo State) for Sierra Leone; Lawrence Baraebibal Ekpebu (Rivers) for Ivory Coast; Mr Joshua Iroha (Imo State) for Belgium, the European Economic Community (EEC) and Luxembourg; Mr Alli Gombe (Bauchi State) for Irag; Mr Musa Otigba (Benue State) for Czechoslovakia; Mr Muhammadu Suleiman (Plateau State) for Sudan; Mr Salihu Suleiman (Kwara State) for Ireland and Iceland; Mr Ahmed Beita Yusuf (Kano) for the Philippines; Mr Abba Ahmed Zoru (Borno State) for the Federal Republic of Germany.

Four others, including a lady, could not be sworn-in because they were absent. They are Miss Jaiyeola Aduke Alakija (Lagos) State) Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland; Mr Ahmed Algazali (Borno State)

for Iran; Mr Mohammed Zigum Anka (Sokoto State) for Libya and Malta, and Mr Dauda M. Bagari (Bauchi State) for Morocco.

Investigations continue on Shagari

Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, has restated the military government's position on ex-President Shagari. The man who headed the ousted civilian administration which plunged the country into economic mess cannot be freed until investigations prove him innocent. In a radio interview, Brig. Idiagbon was told that people are wondering why it is taking so long to put a thing on Shagari.

He then replied that investigations are being conducted into the activities of former politicians, public and government officials and businessmen connected with them to determine their involvement in corrupt practices, mismanagement of the resources of the nation, or offences under the Recovery of Public Property, Special Military Tribunals or any other decrees.

Considerable work, he said, has been done in this regard, and as soon as evidence is available against any one of them, he will be arraigned before the appropriate special military tribunal.

Decree 4 does not insulate corruption

The Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Professor Tam David-West has said in Port Harcourt that "Decree No. 4 is not in any way protecting or insulating corrupt public officers from public scrutiny and censorship."

In a keynote address titled, "The Nigerian press and the public interest" at the first Ernest Ikoli national workshop for media men, the Minister said: "All that Decree 4 is saying is that he who alleges must prove." He said that a self-respecting government that has told the world that one of its fundamental philosophies of operation is public accountability and sound individual morality could not go on to publicly enact immorality, corruption and profligacy among public officers.

Professor David-West said that the Federal Military Government is fully aware of the fact that a free press is essential to good government, but that such freedom must be matched by discipline and responsibility. "Ownership of the press in the country," ," the Minister said, "in a healthy setting, public and private owned press can complement one another in the public interest," adding that both government and the press should be partners in progress in the arduous task of nation-building.

He said that public interest would be best served by an enlightened and educated public, a well developed democratic system, a well defined national direction and the availability of mature educated editors.

Professor David-West said that the press must at all times painstakingly and impartially identify areas of pressing public interest and go ahead to articulate and publish them and urged journalists to engage in national criticisms to draw attention to areas of lapses in Government activities.

Abrogate Decree 4

Leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called for the abrogation of the decree under which two Guardian journalists were tried. Led by NLC president, Mr Ali-Chiroma, the labour leaders who included congress secretary, Aliyu Dangiwa and deputy president, Lawrence Peterside, stood in the premises of the Federal High Court, Queens Drive Ikoyi, as the verdict was being delivered inside.

Mr Chiroma said after the one-year jail sentences had been handed out, that people should ordinarily be allowed to account for what they wrote but "Decree 4 does not give that chance for you to defend your writing. The government can just take you to court and say you have committed an offence and should just be punished."

The president of the Nigeria Union of Railwaymen (NUR), Mr Godwin Ero Omoruyi, considered the sentences unfair. He said Nigerians should be saved the ordeal of being picked for informing or imparting ideas. Security officials had refused the NLC delegation entry, a move, its vice-president Mr Morison Mpamugo, said was unnecessary.

Porter dies in bank queue

An aged porter at the Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Etsako Local Government in Bendel State collapsed and died in a queue at the premises of the Auchi branch of the Union Bank last week.

The porter, Mr Gabriel Itakpe, a native of Afowa, Uzairue, was said to have made vain efforts to withdraw money from his account at the bank for two days.

Securitymen and customers on the queue made fruitless efforts to revive Mr Itakpe. He was later taken to the General Hospital, Auchi.

Ex-Governor Atta jailed 126 years

The Ibadan zone of the Special Military Tribunal on recovery of public property has sentenced Alhaji Adamu Atta, the ex Governor of Kwara State to a total of 126 years imprisonment.

The chairman of the tribunal was Brigadier C.B. Ndiomu.

Ex-Governor Adamu Atta faced trial for allegedly enriching himself corruptly during his tenure of office.

Other members of the tribunal are Commander I.J. Ogohi, Lt. Col. Y. Madaki, Wing Commander C.C. Ohadumere and Justice Salem V. Minjibir.

Radio executives retired

Six top executives of both the Anambra Television (ATV), and the Anambra Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), have been retired with immediate effect by the state Military Governor, Navy Captain Allison Madueke.

Their retirement, according to the governor, "is in the interest of the people.' Those affected in ATV are: the director general, Mr Nwokolobia Agu, the administrative manager, Mr Tom Inyiama and the assistant director of news and current affairs, Mr Emmanuel Nnaji.

Others affected in the ABC are: the director general, Mr Boniface Ofokaja, the deputy director general, Mr Anthony Ojielo and the director of finance, Mr S.I.C.Okoye.

Release of "political detainees"

The Federal Military Government (FMG) has announced the release of 31 political detainees held in various prisons in the country, a statement by the Supreme Headquarters has said. The statements said that the order for their release was given by the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon.

Among the detainees released were former politicians who have repaid vehicle and housing loans granted them, persons who served as prosecution witnesses at the various tribunals and those who have been cleared by the various investigating panels set up to probe the activities of political office holders in the defunct civilian administration.

The released detainees are: Alhaji Bello Katagum, Alhaji Mohammed A. Gana, Mrs Hanatu Ibrahim, Alhaji A. Sabo Ja'ma Are, Alhaji Bala. Others include Mr A.A. Olawale, Mr R. Ketefe, Mr A.A. Adeyemo, Mr Oyediran Okekunle, Mr A. Agboola, Mr Ajo Ayoola, Mr R. Ogundipe, Mr M. Motosho, Chief Oye Olunloyon, Mr Farinu, Mr Jimmy Johnson, Miss Comfort Ejiogu, Mr Babatunde Adeyemi, Mr Jibrin Bakin Zuwo and Mr Justin Hon. Others include Dabo Mohammed, Mr Nuhi Babajo, Mr R.J. Reddy, Mr Benson B.I. Obasuyi, Dr Thomas E.A. Salubi and mr Mohammed Rabiu. The statement said: "The Federal Military Government does not intend to hold anyone longer than necessary" and promised "the immediate release of more detainees when cleared by the various investigating panels".

Request for increase in quota

Nigeria has requested for an increase in its present quota of 1.3 million barrels per day, but this was expected to meet stiff opposition at the Vienna meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

For the meeting which commenced last Wednesday, aimed at launching a two prong diplomatic initiative to end the over production that threatens to depress already weak oil prices.

This follows a recommendation from the OPEC's market monitoring committee to members to adhere strictly to the official production ceiling of 17.5 million barrels of oil per day.

Dr Mana Saeed Otaiba, Minister of Petroleum for the United Arab Emirates and chairman of the market monitoring committee was reported to have said, "everything is going wrong at the moment".

In June, OPEC countries produced at the rate of 18.7 million barrels per day, an increase of almost 1 million barrels over the previous month.

However, Prof. Tam David-West, the Nigerian oil Minister, was likely to press his country's case with the argument that "the market monitoring committee had no competence to discuss national quotas". Professor David-West's feelings are that there is nothing sacred about OPEC's 17.5 million barrels a day production ceiling.

Democracy killed by men

A senior member of the Bar has suggested that women be given first consideration as future rulers of Nigeria because the men have misused their chance in the first and second republics.

The executive director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Mr Ben Nwabueze (SAN) said at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos, that men had ruined democracy in Nigeria and should give way to women.

"Does the persistent bungling of our public affairs by men not now call for women to mobilize to take over the leadership from men after the present military administration?" he asked. Mr Nwabueze was the chairman at the launching of "Nigerian Women Mobilised", a book written by Nina Emma Mba.

Conference on infertility

Four doctors from Nigeria have attended a one-week world conference on endocrinology in Quebec, Canada. The conference was the seventh international congress of endocrinology.

Endocrinology is a study of hormone disorders which include infertility, menstrual disorders, impotence, diabetes and thyroid diseases.

The doctors were sponsored by Immunoassay Laboratories, a high technology medical reference laboratory in Lagos, which assists doctors all over the country to treat these disorders by estimating the hormones in blood and urine of patients suspected to have problems.

Refund of repatriation expenses

African states whose nationals are repatriated from Nigeria at Federal Military Government's expense would be asked to pay back.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Brigadier M. Magoro gave this warning in an interview with National Concord.

The minister, who was asked why the FMG paid for the repatriation of unwanted foreigners, said that at the appropriate time FMG would send a bill to all ECOWAS members whose citizens had been repatriated at Nigeria's expense. He pointed out that the states concerned "are bound by ECOWAS protocol" to pay for the cost of repatriation of their citizens from Nigerian soil.

Demand on forces is greater

Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari has said at Jaji near Kaduna that the demand on members of the country's armed forces to demonstrate that they were members of a "disciplined force" was greater than before the military administration came to power.

Addressing the graduation ceremony of 127 student officers of the Command and Staff College, Maj-Gen Buhari urged military personnel to lead through example in the current War Against Indiscipline (WAI). "Now, more than ever before, we must be in the vanguard in the fight against greed, dishonesty, impatience, disrespect, vandalism, indecency, brutality, tribalism, ostentation, selfishness, filthy environment and any other manifestations of indiscipline", he directed.


French and US aid agreements

Two financial agreements have been signed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation at Koulouba. The first was signed between the Central Fund for Economic Co-operation of France and the Mali Government for a loan of 1.75 billion CFA francs.

The second consisted of two parts: the first was an amendment to the grant agreement for the animal husbandry development programme in Mali. This detailed an increase of 1.2 billion CFA francs. The second was the ninth amendment to the grant agreement for the "operation high valley" project and resulted in an increase of 1,601,000 CFA francs and will help revive USAID's participation in the loan programme for the project.

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