Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


The Cubans and the training school in Tamale

I have come across six copies of Talking Drums so far in Kumasi and I have enjoyed reading them enormously. One hardly gets reading material in Ghana these days whose opinions diverge from the PNDC's own viewpoints and propaganda. I was frightened when I read about the Cuban troops who were to be based in Ghana at a cost of £1 million per month. But for your esteemed magazine such information would never have been known in Ghana because all that Ghanaians had been told was that the military barracks in Tamale was to be converted into a Training School' for Ghanaian Army personnel.

One clearly sees that more dust is being thrown into the eyes of the public, the truth is always being sup- pressed. It also indicates that Kojo Tsikata, the king-pin of Ghana's security is re-gaining enormous influence after being forced to lay low' for some time in the wake of the unforgettable Judges murder affair and SIB Report cover-ups. Kojo Tsikata's recent appearances in public and his pronouncements indicate that his full strategy to ride Ghana full steam ahead into Cuba's arms is being systematically and unchallengeably unfolded to the chagrin of unsuspecting uninformed Ghanaians.

I do hope that Ghanaians overseas will realise the dangers and unite to nip this Cuban onslaught in the bud and save this country.

I wish Talking Drums the best of success.

E.L. Kofi Cobbah, Ash Town, Kumasi.

The tragedy of Ghana

There are some conclusions which could be drawn from the extensive analysis on coups in Ghana, particularly that of 1981 by Colonel Odidja; the revelation by Capt. Baah-Achamfour of the mystery behind the passing of the promotion examinations by Raw- lings after three unsuccessful attempts and lastly, the recent report on the extraordinary secretive and conspiratorial character of Tsikata, all of which appeared in your columns recently.

Under the Criminal Code of the Third Republic, conspiracy to over- throw the constitution was a felony and therefore punishable by law. That people still trust those who plan to stage a coup against a legally constituted government is still to me incredible. Many of us cannot understand, for example, why instead of arresting Kojo Tsikata, the Military Intelligence decided to place him under surveillance, if it had evidence against him.

Perhaps the tragedy of Ghana together with historical experience would teach the people of other African nations that soldiers who overthrow their legally constituted governments and install dictatorships in their places have neither the intention nor the capability to help solve the numerous problems of their people apart from making empty promises. They just have to look into the backgrounds of these soldiers and to discover to their surprise that these are selfish people who stage coups in order to seek for their personal gains.

Ghana's present situation is another classical example of how negligence of duty shown by people placed in positions of responsibility to enforce the laws of the country can indirectly encourage people with sinister motives to seize power and destroy the whole nation.

The future of Ghana, once full of hope and inspiration for Africans in their pursuit for freedom, justice and prosperity has become so uncertain that it could be assumed that this generation of Ghanaians have been doomed to destitution for the rest of this century.

Kwadwo Antepim, Cologne, West Germany.

Increase Talking Drums' price

Since coming into circulation a year ago, Talking Drums has been able to pass through the financial storms which many papers and magazines of the sub-region during their formative period could not survive. And even some local magazines went as far as to predict that it will go bust as other magazines and papers had done.

The quality of the magazine, however, is second to none, and has come to stay despite the apparent orchestrated efforts being made by businesses in and having interest in West Africa not to place advertisements in the magazine, inspite of its wide circulation. My own personal research has revealed that its turnover in news stands has overtaken its rival magazine which has got nothing to offer to its readers than sixty percent adverts and promotion of military dictatorship in West Africa.

Readers will agree with me on the uncompromising and brilliant editorial comment as well as the educative articles on international economics sociological and political discussions which are now creating awareness on how dangerous military dictatorship is to the people.

However, since every business has to be self-supporting it would go a long way if the price could be increased to 70p to enable it to break even in order to continue to do the good job.

John Ankomah, London

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for your concern for the survival of this magazine. The issue of advertisements is being tackled and meanwhile we would continue to give our readers the best of the same.

Caught in the act

As an African I am very concerned about the events that took place on Thursday 5 July 1984, when some four people attempted to smuggle Umaru Dikko and two others out of Britain to face trial in Nigeria. It is really nonsense for the Nigerian government to claim it had no knowledge of the plot: are they telling us that any ordinary Nigerian can label a crate Diplomatic Baggage and send it to Nigeria?

They were caught in the act and therefore the only 'honourable' thing to do to save face was to deny any knowledge of it. Coming hard on the heels of the Libyan Embassy fiasco, one wonders what is next. My immediate concern is the damage this uncharacteristic behaviour does to the image of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. Already some British people who obviously know very little about Nigeria are describing the Nigerian leader as a sixteenth century demagogue.

Since the event some Nigerians are saying that if only the government can get the one billion pounds that Umaru Dikko is alleged to have stolen from Nigeria, it will help to alleviate some of the problems in the country today. But what they and others don't realise is that the allegation- and that is what it is that Dikko has stolen one billion pounds was made by the present milit- ary leadership, the same people who told Nigerians and the world that former governors Onabanjo, Ige and Ajasin 'confessed' to receiving a N2.8 million kick-back and that some of the amount was still in their bank accounts. We now know differently because two of the accused have been acquitted and the third jailed for twenty two years because according to Brigadier Omu-the prosecutor - he did not impress the tribunal as " witness of truth, euphemism for saying as far as this government is concerned you go to prison.

If the Nigerian government have the evidence that Umaru Dikko has siphoned such a huge amount out of the country and therefore has committed economic crimes against the state, why can't they prepare their case for extradition and present it to the British authorities?

If the British government are being intransigent in such negotiations the Nigerian government can whip up support within the Commonwealth to put pressure on the Conservative government; that is how one expects a country like Nigeria to behave.

What logical reason can the military government have for detaining the British Caledonian plane at Lagos airport other than a tit-for-tat for what happened at Stansted airport. It can only happen under a military government which is not answerable to any elected chamber.

The Umaru Dikkos of this world should be brought to account for their stewardship when there is evidence of misappropriation, but kidnapped and taken in crates is criminal and an abuse of the sanctity of human life. Most Africans like myself look to Nigeria for leadership in our efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Azania in their fight for independence which the rest of African now takes for granted, and hopes this episode is an exception rather than the norm.

General Buhari in his efforts to get the alleged fugitives back in Nigeria to stand trial must tread carefully if Nigeria's good record on human rights is to remain untainted. One must also hope that the idea that a man is inno- cent until proven guilty which is an embodiment of the Laws in Nigeria is upheld in the current trials in Nigeria. After all justice must not only be done but seen to be done.

Theophilus Kofi Ampah, London. Achamfour's point needs emphasis I do not consider Captain (rtd) Baah- Achamfour's statement, "unless and until our future national leaders genuinely strive to strengthen the national apparatchik, govern with a little more efficiency and fairness, and cater for the very limited needs of the majority of our people, we are likely to continue to live with forcible inter- vention on politics," pro-militarist which will inspire some group of soldiers or persons forcibly to take over from properly elected governments in future.

His statement, touching on some of the main causes that have led to rampant military intervention in our politics, needs serious consideration by all Ghanaians instead of sweeping it under the carpet because Capt. Baah-Achamfour made it. Or that, the ex- national leader (military) as an exile, is also enjoying the 'freshness of democracy' in Britain.

I would like to remind Mr Emmanuel Dapaah (Talking Drums, 7 July, 1984) politics and democracy in Britain which he used as a yardstick, caused so much blood spillage: beheaded kings and leaders, sacked parliaments and painful trials before achieving its present level of perfection. In Britain today, the system is broadly based. Political parties, leaders and parliamentarians when elected, work hard and efficiently to pursue policies which cater for the needs of the MAJORITY of British people.

Contrary, ours have produced parties and governments of group privilege, sectional rivalry and personal interest, vigorously pursued at the expense and discomfort of the suffering majority. Except Dr Nkrumah's CPP- a mass movement which pursued policies that benefited the majority of Ghanaians until its later stages subsequent parties and governments cared very little for the plight of the people.

Thus, self-seeking and power-hungry military/police top brass; from Ankrah Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo down, exploited the insensitivity, remoteness, intolerance and inability of politicians and seized power only to enrich themselves and speed up Ghana's slide to doom.

The unpopular Kutu Acheampong coup of 1972 could not have been possible had Dr Busia's government not become intolerant, subvert the same democratic institutions they pro- fessed to uphold. Take for instance Busia's attitude towards the judiciary, students and trade unions soon after taking office. Flt-Lt. Rawlings exploited the weakness of Dr Limann's government and took power when the government was paralysed by the political in-fighting among PNP party bosses.

Ghanaians have lost confidence and trust in soldiers, much as in the politicians. In their wisdom, they detest military rule. Yet, there's little to stake our lives for in defence of the civilian leaders when the 'Abongo' Boys move in only to come and worsen the situation.

Ko' Oppong, London.

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