Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Oyo Government knew of trip to Israel

The Oni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade has said in Lagos that his visit to Jerusalem with the Emire of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, was "absolutely private and has nothing to do with the Israeli government". He told newsmen shortly on arrival at the Murtala Muhammad airport, Ikeja, that the visit was for "spiritual rejuvenation", adding "nothing serious happened during our 24-hours stay in Jerusalem".

He said that while he worshipped on Mount Zion, "the Emir of Kano spent almost all of his time in the second largest mosque in the world in Jerusalem. I have been visiting Jerusalem since 1961 to pray on Mount Zion. In my capacity as the chief priest of Yorubaland, it is normal for me to hold discussions and compare my experiences with the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem", he said. The Oni said that he took advantage of his trip to recruit two Israeli agricultural experts to assist in his proposed farm project.

Reacting to the Federal Government's statement denouncing the visit, Oba Sijuwade explained that the Government or the External Affairs Ministry was "misinformed. We are part of this administration and we will never contribute to its downfall. We have done nothing against the law. We are a party to the law", he said. He claimed that the Oyo Government was aware of his trip outside Nigeria. The Oni, however, declined to comment on his reported meeting with the Israeli leadership.

The Minister of External Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Gambari, told newsmen at the Murtala Muhammad airport before his departure for Saudi Arabia, as leader of Nigerian pilgrims, that the Federal Government was opposed to the trip to Jerusalem by the two traditional rulers.

"If they had asked for our opinion, we would have been against their going so as not to give the impression that sanctioned the visit," he said.

The Minister had, in a reaction to the visit, said that the Federal Government was not aware of the visit and that Nigeria's attitude to israel had not changed. Accord- ing to him, the break in ties between Nigeria and Israel would be maintained on political and economic grounds.

Military rule is an aberration

Military rule should not remain on a permanent basis in the country, retired Major-General Joe Garba has said.

Speaking in Lagos, Gen. Garba, the nation's permanent representative at the United Nations described military rule as "an aberration which should not be a permanent feature in our life."

He was commenting on the emergence of military regime as a sign of under-develop- ment trend, during a Radio Lagos current affairs programme.

Major-General Garba believed that the military took over power again in the country on December 31, last year "not for the sheer love of power". He argued that good government is an anti-dote to military rule, but regretted that "African politicians are very immature, and do not know what they are after".

As regards Nigeria's experience, Major-General Garba declared: "I will lay 78 per cent of the blame on the civilians, because they constitute the government." But he immediately added: "You may blame the military for bringing the civilians into the government".

Major-General Garba defended civilians serving in military administrations saying: "We don't want any ill-feeling. We want to make sure that the views of Nigerians are reflected, even though it is a military regime.

Nwobodo condemns tribunal

Former Governor Jim Nwobodo, of Anambra State, has condemned the recovery panels system of operations.

He told the chairman of the panel, Lt- Col. Tony Awote at its resumed sitting: "Your style is against elementary principle of justice.”

Chief Nwobodo is already serving a total of 43 years imprisonment passed on him for separate trials by two military tribunals for official corruption. The former governor was brought before the Awote panel on the recovery of government property over the refund of N57,375 said to have been paid irregularly during his tenure on the con- struction of Abakpa-Nike Road.

As Lt-Col. Awote demanded from Chief Nwobodo if he had brought the money as directed, the former Governor replied: "I am poor now. I cannot pay the money because I am a prisoner and I even have not time to move around."

Borders to remain closed

Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, has stated that the closure of the country's borders was vital to the preservation of the nation's economic well-being. The borders would therefore remain closed until alternative arrangements had been made for the adequate protection of these vital interests, he added.

Mrs Akinloye jailed

Ukpa Ewewa Akinloye, wife of the former chairman of the NPN, fainted in the dock while awaiting a verdict from the Foreign Exchange (Anti-Sabotage) Tribunal.

She was revived by a police doctor, Mrs Chinedu Davies and two other policewomen standing by.

The Tribunal found Ukpa guilty on four charges.

Her condition did not halt the proceedings and Mr Justice James Oladipo Williams, tribunal chairman, proceeded with the verdict: the tribunal believed that Ukpa feigned illness on January 11 to "cover up her crime".

Ukpa was sentenced to 20 years. imprisonment on the four counts but she will spend five years in jail since the sentences, five years for each count, will run concurrently.

New uniform for soldiers

The army will spend N1.15 million to change the soldiers green crempline uniforms next year and switch to new ones

made from an entirely different fabric. The bill is expected to run up to N9.75 million if each of the 130,000 soldiers is to have one set each of the five new brands in the offing. Even then, the army may spend more on the project because a soldier needs at least two pairs of each uniform type, especially the working dress, known as 'Number Five'.

Adjutant-General Brigadier Malami Hahe Nassarawa, told The Guardian of the army's grudge against its present uniform. He said the basic complaint was that crempline stuff was very uncomfortable, expensive and not durable. The discomfort stems from crempline's the inability to absorb sweat. The new fabric, a combination of cotton and polyester, is judged a better stuff.

Rise in external reserve

Nigeria's external reserves rose by N204.8 million in January to N846.2 million in May while national debt at home and abroad - dropped by N834.1 million to N13,708.8 million in the same period. Currency in circulation in the same period dropped by 41.4 per cent to N3,152.3 million.

The figures are contained in the Central Bank's returns to assets and liabilities from January to last May. First quarter average (January to March) of external reserves was N651 million, first term average (January to April) was N709.8 million while average for the period in review was N737.1 million.

The lowest external reserves (N566) million) was recorded in February while the highest (N886.4 million) was in April. Figures for the other months were January, N641.4 million; March, N745.5 million and May, N846.2 million. Total national liabilities were lowest in May (N14,708.8 million) and highest in January (N14,542.9 million). Figures for the period in review were January (N14,773.5 million), March (N14,076.8 million), April (N13,954.1 million) and May (N13,708.8 million).

Average currency in circulation from January to May was N4,909.9 million. In January, currency in circulation was N5,403.9 million. This figure fell steadily over the months - February, N5,342.3 million, March N5,247.3 million - till April when it rose to N5,378.7 million and declined in May to N3,253.3 million.

Axe falls on airways staff

Six hundred and eleven staff of the Nigeria Airways have been laid off. Four hundred and twenty-five workers were dismissed from services for acts of fraud and corrupt practices, while letters of termination and retirement were served on one hundred and eighty-six others.

Five executive personnel - a director and four controllers were affected by the purge which hit forty-two other officials in the airline's stations outside Lagos.

British exports slump

British exports to Nigeria in the first half of this year fell by N98 million compared with the same period last year, a London Chamber of Commerce and Industry report revealed.

Britain exported goods worth N335 million (312 million pound sterling) to Nigeria compared with a reported figure of N433 million (£403 million) same time last year. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commenting on the decline, said its interest in the Nigerian market remained high in spite of payment problems and other constraints.

Call to ban bleaching

An indigenous beautician and cosmetolo- gist has appealed to the Federal Military Government to declare skin bleaching a punishable offence and to ban importation of bleaching chemicals.

Mrs Christianah Willoughby, proprietoress of Surtisan Health and Beauty Clinic, Airport Hotel, Ikeja, made the appeal while announcing the date of a traditional beauty contest, sponsored by her organisation and some of her professional colleagues. She told newsmen that, apart from moral grounds, she opposed bleaching as a method of beauty care because it was hazardous to the skin.

Wage freeze ill-timed

The latest wage freeze imposed by the Federal Military Government was ill-timed. This is the general verdict of a country- wide sampling of opinions on the issue by the National Concord. The freeze was imposed at a time when 80 percent of the nation's industry - public and private sectors alike was in no position to even contemplate any wage hike.

Shortage of raw materials, incessant closure of factories, and mass lay-offs of workers even in the public sector coupled with the often repeated poor economic situation in the country left little or no stimuli by way of profit, for the industrial sector to offer wage bonanza to the workers.

And the traditionally militant working class, as well as its various trade unions, were already resigned to the bitter reality that keeping one's job, and getting paid for it, was enough achievement in itself, in these bleak days of economic slump and acute job insecurity.

Plans for petrochemical industry

Maj-Gen. Buhari, during a three-day visit to Rivers State has assured the people that the petrochemical and liquified gas indust- ries were still a priority of the present administration in spite of their cost estimated at about 4 bn naira. He also said that the refinery at Alesa Eleme would be expanded while a second refinery, with a capacity of 150,000 b/d would be built. According to the Head of State, the second phase of the petrochemical project is on the drawing board and will be sited near Port Harcourt.

He said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would establish a petroleum research centre in the State to provide the necessary scientific and technical back-up to petroleum exploration, production, processing and transportation activities in the country.

North Korean assistance

The DPRK says it is willing to supply equip- ment and machinery on credit for joint projects with Nigeria. This was one of the proposals of the North Korean delegation, led by the DPRK Vice President, Pak Song Chol, which visited Nigeria recently.

Nigeria's emphasis was on projects with local raw material content and priority was being given to agriculture, particularly in the sowing and processing of rice, maize and soya beans as well as fishery and dairy farms.

A ministerial joint session has been and scheduled for November in Lagos to monitor the progress of co-operation between the two countries.


IMF loan to the rescue

The IMF has announced in Washington an 85 million dollars standby loan to the Ivory Coast. The country is already under a tight austerity programme agreed to with the fund in 1980. Its foreign debt stands at about seven billion dollars.

Global recession, lingering drought and falling commodity prices have brought growth to a halt over the past three years. Belt-tightening efforts have included cutbacks in public spending, removal of some food subsidies and a tight lid on salaries and benefits. In February, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny asked creditors to reschedule the country's debt.

Economists in the country said the country ran short of money for three reasons. First, prices for its principal exports, coffee and cocoa, fell. Secondly, the value of the US dollar climbed, exacerbating the costs of debt servicing and thirdly, the value of the French franc- to which the country's currency is tied - has been declining. The current one-year standby arrangement is aimed at reducing public sector deficit from 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1983 to 4 per cent in 1984.


Support for Burkina leader Following the decree dissolving the Burkina Faso government, the CDR (Revolutionary Defence Committee) has issued a motion of congratulations and support for Capt. Thomas Sankara.

The motion reads as follows:

Considering that power in the former revolutionary Upper Volta was unquestionably under mined by mean disputes among factions; considering the absolute need to clarify this situation in order to enable a sound revolution to continue its process in Burkina Faso; considering the heroic, courageous and highly responsible decision by the President to dismiss the individuals of differing opinions who make up the government within which opportunism vied with sectarianism in revolutionary doctrine; the militants of the revolution congratulate the President for his insight, his courage and boldness and reaffirm their firm and unflinching support for the attempt to find happiness for the Burkinabe people.

Army journal resumes publication

'Armee du People', the magazine of struggle and information of the national armed forces, has resumed publication.

'Armee du People', was created under the People's Salvation Council (CSP), but went out of circulation after its third issue. The magazine, which is now reappearing in full strength, claims in its latest and fourth issue, to be an organ for the sensitisation and motivation of the masses.

Lt. Seydou Niang, editor of the magazine, points out that since its birth, 'Armee du People', has been run by the CSP progressive wing.


Crash-landing at Conakry airport

Conakry injuring one of its passengers, A Soviet airliner has crash-landed in Radio Conakry reported.

The airliner, belonging to the Soviet airlines, overshot the runway on its arrival in the Guinean capital from Moscow and landed in a swamp near the airport, the no immediate radio said. There was no explanation for the accident but Radio Conakry quoted an airport official as saying that the weather and visibility were good at the time of the crash.

Former Prime Minister dies

The former Prime Minister of Guinea, Mr Lansana Beavogui, has died in hospital in the Guinean capital of Conakry. He was 62. Mr Beavogui, a diabetic had been held at Kindia prison, 100 kilometres northeast of Conakry, since the April 3 military coup, a week after the death of President Ahmed Sekou Toure.

Mr Beavogui was taken to hospital after his condition worsened. He had been treated for his illness in North Korea, Yugoslavia and the United States of America.


Export and import controls

President Siaka Stevens has announced import controls and the closure of Koindu port, used mainly by smugglers. An "anti- smugglers brigade" has also been created and offenders would be severely punished. All goods not covered by import controls would be confiscated by the state.

A marketing company responsible for the handling of precious metals would be created. The committee for external trade would be modified to include representatives from the Government, the Ministry of Finance and the precious metals industry and would come under the President's direct control.


Nigerian suggestion of military cooperation

The Nigerian air force officer in charge of operations, Air Vice Marshal George Oshoe, has charged military personnel in Africa to continue to strive hard to update their knowledge and keep pace with the fast developing world of science and military technology.

Speaking at the graduation of the seventh course of the Ghana Armed Forces Staff College, senior division, at Teshie Air Vice Marshal Oshoe stressed the need for the judicious use of the scarce resources at the disposal of military personnel.

Air Vice Marshal Oshoe, who was a guest of honour, said Ghana and Nigeria can explore the possibility of establishing joint ventures in the development of military hardware most suitable for their local environment.

Reduction in number of foreign personnel

The Provisional National Defence Council has directed the Ministry of Interior and the Bank of Ghana to submit the "immigrant quotas in respect of all establishments, and statements of foreign exchange transfers made as a result of the employment of foreign personnel in Ghana".

The PNDC has also directed all establishments, including private companies, not to employ foreign personnel while qualified Ghanaians were available. This did not mean, however, that necessary technical assistance was to be rejected.

Allowances for diplomats slashed

Ghana is to severely limit the allowance granted to its diplomats serving abroad, according to the Ghana News Agency.

The diplomats would now pay their own rents and 50 per cent of their medical care, electricity and telephone bills.

Also only two children of pre-school age would in future be allowed to accompany their parents on overseas postings at government expense.

Limits have also been imposed on the weight of luggage that diplomats are allowed to take with them. They will no longer be entitled to leave and kit allowances.

Recruitment is illegal

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has said that it has not authorised any agency to recruit Ghanaians on its behalf to work in certain Middle East countries.

In a statement the ministry said it had come to its notice that certain individuals based in Accra and operating from hotels, charge applicants between C5,000 and C10,000 with "the intent of submitting their particulars to the Labour Department for processing.

"The Ministry stated that it had not authorised any agency to recruit Ghanaians on its behalf. Any recruitment exercise undertaken without the prior authority of the Ministry is illegal," it said.

Possession of gun is dangerous

Revolutionary cadres in the country will be armed after very careful scrutiny. According to Mr Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, acting secretary for the NDC and Secretary for PDC's and WDC's, scrutiny is necessary because "an unconscientised person in possession of a gun is dangerous to the revolutionary process." The Secretary was replying to a request by the Bawku PDC's to be armed to effectively check smuggling in the area.

Exports of pineapple and herbs

Pineapple exports earned the country about C3.2 million (£72,000 sterling) during the first half of this year.

The Ghana Export Promotion Council sent 480 tons of the crop to New Covent Garden in the United Kingdom and Switzerland during the period. Apart from pineapples, pharmaceutical raw materials (herbs) are also exported. The herbs - Griffonin and Coacanga, have for the past three years (1981-83) fetched the nation C252,424.66. Meanwhile, the Export Promotion Council is in the process of exporting ginger, pepper, beans and also considering the pos- sibility of exporting lobsters, shrimps and dried shark fins.

Charged for shooting wee smoker

A policeman is standing trial for manslaughter at a public tribunal for shooting into a group of wee smoking suspects in Nima. He is constable Buabeng of Nima police station who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing the death of one Abdulai Tenko Moro, an apprentice fitter of Nima. Constable Buabeng and another officer on a tip-off were said to have gone to hunt for a group of people who were allegedly smoking Indian hemp in the Nima area.

Church in state of turmoil

The suspension of Rev. J.S.A. Stephens as president-elect of the Methodist conference has opened up a rift in the ranks of the church.

In the past weeks members of the Accra District Methodist Church have held demonstrations against the Rev. Sam Awotwe-Pratt, acting President of the church, who despatched the suspension letter.

In a further show of support for Rev. Stephens, the Accra District church filed a writ at the High Court in Accra restraining the Acting President and the Secretary of the Methodist Conference from holding this year's conference in Kumasi.

A report by the Ghana News Agency said that Rev. Stephens' suspension followed adverse findings made against him by a committee that probed the affairs of the church.

Drugs can't be cleared from harbour

Drugs, medical equipment and spare parts meant to refurbish hospitals in the country have spent about one year in the State Bonded warehouse at the Tema Harbour. Most of the items had arrived without invoices, but a spokesman for the customs and excise said this handicap could have been overlooked and the 'permit system' applied to clear them while waiting for the invoices.

The items include vitamin tablets, antibiotics, surgical dressings, X-ray equipment and chemicals and cold room spare parts for hospital mortuaries.

The official blamed the Ministry of Health for making no effort in clearing the items even though the comptroller of customs had waived the bonds on the drugs.He called for measures to remove all restrictions on government imports, especially drugs which have expiry dates.

Right hand vehicle seized

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is investigating the circumstances surrounding the importation of a 17-year-old bus at a cost of 10,000 dollars for the workers of Mim Timber Company (MTC) at Mim in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The bus, which arrived at the Tema Harbour several weeks ago, has been impounded until the investigations are completed.

The Ministry has also ordered that no money should be transferred overseas to pay for the bus. According to Mr Fred Ohene-Kena, Under Secretary for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, apart from its old age, the make of the bus, Alpen Wagen FWB, imported from Switzerland by a Ghanaian timber merchant on behalf of MTC, is right hand drive and has no ventilation.

Appointments at district levels

The following appointments have been made by the PNDC. Mr J.E. Sekyi, Assistant Commissioner of Police, assumes command of the office of the PNDC regional secretary for the Upper East region. Other co-opted members who are to serve in an advisory capacity of the regional security committee include Brig. A.N. Isin Addy, co-ordinator of the National Defence Committee.

Mr Simon Anyah Abinja has been appointed as deputy regional secretary for Upper East in addition to Mr Martin Hamidu. The PNDC has also made the following new appointments: Mr Francis Brobbey becomes secretary for Amankyia district, Maj. S.K. Amponsah, retired, becomes acting district secretary for Sekondi-Takoradi, while Warrant Officer Issa Salifu is appointed acting Western regional co-ordinator in place of Mr Kofi Smith.

The following district secretaries have also been relieved of their posts: Mr Kwesi Kumi Ecknar, Akwapim district, Nene Appiah Dedu, Kaoga district, Somanya, Mr Asiedu, Berekum district, and Mr Oppong, Techiman district. Meanwhile, the regional secretaries concerned assume direct administrative responsibilities until the appointment of substantive district secretaries.

Also the following Principal Secretaries are retired with immediate effect. They are Mr K.F. Okyere, Ministry of Defence, Mr K. Bentum Eshun, Ministry of Trade, Mr H.S. Hamidu, Ministry of Works and Housing, and Mr W.K. Djan, formerly of the Ministry of Health and subsequently of the Eastern regional administration.

Aid for port improvement

The World Bank has granted Ghana 4.5 m dollars to improve operations at her port. The Export Credit and Guarantee Department of Britain has also provided 800,000 pounds sterling for the purchase of a tugboat to speed up the berthing of ships and to end the perennial congestion at the port.

These were announced by the Secretary for Transport and Communications, Alhaji Mahama Idrissu, when he opened a 2.8 m cedi food market at the Tema port.

Soviet Union offers aid

The Soviet Union is to aid Ghana in 1984. developing a major bauxite project at Kibi. The plan to start the project followed one week of talks in Moscow between Soviet officials and a high-level Ghanaian delegation, which included the Finance Minister, Mr Kwesi Botchwey.

What is good for Ghana

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Obed Asamoah, has stressed that the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) is determined to be free in order to determine policies on the basis of what is good for Ghana. That is why, for example, Ghana can be close to the Soviet Union but refuse to follow her decision not to participate in the just-ended Olympic Games.

Dr Asamoah was speaking on Ghana's foreign policy at a refresher course in Accra for working journalists and cadres organised by the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra.

He explained that the policy of non- alignment, which the PNDC has fully embraced, is an attempt to wriggle out of power bloc and seek her own way. At the same time, Ghana's association with most Third World countries in the non-aligned movement is a contribution to the laudable efforts of defusing East-West tension and avoiding war.

The Foreign Secretary declared: We must have the courage to resist pressures and to determine our policies according to our appreciation of the merits of such policies. Our foreign policy must be conducted in such a manner as to reflect a creditable image for the country.

Courageous defence of the Government's beliefs and consistency will enhance Ghana's international standing. He declared that to dance to the tune of other countries would make a mockery of the revolution and make the conduct of foreign policy capricious.

Dr Asamoah said, consistent with the basic values of the 31st December revolution, Ghana's foreign policy is aimed at the dignity of man. Our tradition of a vigorous first state of decolonisation, not only in Africa but elsewhere is an eloquent testimony of Ghana's concern for human dignity.

He pointed out that the identity of views of Ghana and the socialist countries is often interpreted to mean, at best, Ghana's preference for association with the East, or at worst, acceptance of international communism


OAU summit to be held in Addis Ababa

The OAU Secretariat has announced that the 20th OAU summit would take place in Addis Ababa from November 12 to 15,

Radio Ghana reporting the departure for Tanzania on August 26 to attend the 42nd ordinary session of the OAU Liberation Committee beginning on the 29th of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr Obed Asamoah, also noted his praise for Botswana and Lesotho for their continued resistance to South African pressure.

OAU condemns 'elections' in S. Africa

The Organisation of African Unity co- ordinating committee for the Liberation of Africa has condemned elections for the new Coloured and Indian houses of parliament following changes in the constitution of the South African regime. In a statement issued in Dar es Salaam the committee said that opposition of the constitutional changes inside South Africa itself was an indication that the majority of the people in the country do not favour the elections.

"The vast majority of the indigenous people of South Africa have with additional courage and determination, totally rejected the so-called tri-racial parliament. They realise the danger inherent in the latest crusade to consolidate apartheid in order to give the inhuman system some legal credibility," the statement said. The committee expressed hope that opposition of the elections in South Africa would be "an eye-opener to those Western countries who recently laid red carpets before the racists' Prime Minister and to other countries which have been contem- plating welcoming the representatives of apartheid".

The committee has also called for increased vigilance on the part of the OAU member states in order to pre-empt free Africa from being caught up in the rain trap. "Apartheid, as it is now practised in racist South Africa, can only be eliminated by complete uprooting and not by plucking its leaves," the statement added.

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