Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

What The Papers Say

Ghanaian Times, Ghana

Subtle game

In his reaction to our editorial ("Times," Nov 1, 1984) on the Kwame Arhin case, the Co-ordinator of Investigations, Vetting and Tribunals, Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, associated that editorial with a game being played, presumably against him and Arhin. Whatever the 'game' means, we of the Times' saw the case as a matter of public interest and what we thought of it was what we wrote for the public to read and judge. A member of the public, K. Kudzodzi, of Madina, suburb of Accra, in a letter to the Editor has made the following judgement.

"When one considers the amount of work which needs doing one is at a loss to understand the childish vituperations on the Arhin's case by responsible officials.

"First, there is the question of why no publicity was given to the case, even though newspaper reports of public outcry against the verdict setting him free was equal to that of Nii Amo Addy. This has not been properly explained.

"Secondly, when a number of appeal cases came to the National Appeal Tribunal, Arhin's was conspicuously missing despite the fact that it had been filed at the same time as Nii Addy's.

"Then there was a lull, and disquieting rumours were spread about. The "Ghanaian Times" came out with an editorial on the subject. "The Mirror'', which had expressed dissatisfaction at the sentence and had said so in an editorial, also had its piece to say again on the subject. Then the Office of the Co-ordinator of Investigations, Vetting and Tribunals issued a most incredible but romantic statement early this week. In a letter to Kwame Arhin, two weeks after the "Times' editorial, he said: "Come out like a man of principle. You and I both know the game that is being played. Don't be the cause of my destruction."


"Then as in a fairy tale Arhin came out! Presto!

"The appeal was filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor which is under the Office of the Co-ordinator of Investigations, Vetting and Tribunals. The implication of his statement is that Arhin is innocent and is being victimized. This, no doubt, will prejudice the merits of the appeal.

"Perhaps it will be necessary for the Co-ordinator to elaborate on who and who are playing the game? Also, when did he and Arhin get to know the game being played? And finally, who are the destroyers who are after him and Arhin? These questions the public would like to know because if the two of them are being played games with, then they need the support of all Ghanaians who do not have a bad conscience.

So far as the "Ghanaian Times" sees it, if a game is being played, it is a game being controlled by the Co-ordinator himself and partly aimed at destroying the State's appeal against Kwame Arhin, his friend. When the appeal was filed, it was the Co-ordinator's responsibility to order Arhin's re-arrest, have him placed under bail and given conditions to ensure his presence during the appeal hearings. Did the Co-ordinator do these things? The game looks strongly like a subtle attempt to prejudice the appeal by giving the impression that Arhin is being prosecuted and that there is no merit in the appeal against him. It could also mean that even when the trial was going on, the Co- ordinator felt that Arhin was being victimized. Did he advise the Tribunal accordingly?

No one should water down the importance of this case by trying to make a personal affair out of it.

The Punch-Nigeria

The misery index

Mr J. K. Randle, Chairman of the Board of Eko Hotels Limited echoed the unspoken feelings of Nigerians, especially the wretched of the earth when he called on the government to monitor what he described as the misery index of the citizens. The forum for his thought-provoking suggestion was the occasion for the "Gold Medal Public Affairs Lectures on the 1985 Budget."

According to him, this index would enable the government to get a feel, not only of the magnitude of the misery but also of the target population that is living sub- human lives because of the present economic crunch occasioned by run-away inflation, massive retrenchment and scarcity of the basic necessities of life. In real economic terms, available statistics show that many more people have sunk below the poverty line, that is a minimum level of satisfaction that is conducive to human existence.

A cursory glance at the figures shows that thousands of those who were in active employment by this time last year have now lost their jobs, thus joining the pool of the unemployment army of discontent. And when the dependency ratio of Nigeria is considered in view of the extended family system, it will be seen that for any worker that loses his job, at least ten dependants lose their daily bread.

Yet the food items, when available, are offered at prices far beyond the financial capabilities of the average man. The prices of such commodities as yam, gari, palm oil, tomatoes, sugar, beef, eggs etc have gone up by over 300 percent of what they were in November 1983. Such items as rice, milk, imported vegetable oil have become so scarce that whenever they are found only those in the top income bracket can afford them. Baby foods have become so exorbitant that middle class couples are known to have postponed having babies rather than bringing them into the world to face the bleak future.

As if these indices of deprivation are not enough, the populace has to contend with all forms of taxes and levies, from education to "survival." The public utilities have in most cases turned into mere ornamental investments, re- enacting their performances of last year. NEPA, for instance, was the sick baby of the nation last year. The present administration beefed up its operations by making available funds and materials. The authority has just proved that the "improvement" witnessed early this year was a mere flash in the pan.

The question of potable water is another area that contributes to the misery of the suffering Nigerian. A negligible percent of Nigerians have potable water within their apartments. A similar per cent have it within walking distance. The rest do with water from questionable sources both for drinking and for other domestic purposes. Others spend upwards of N50 per month buying drinking water.

Some Nigerians who have despaired about this cycle of misery have been lured into armed robbery, the known risk they face, notwithstanding. Others who are scared of the prospects are known to have taken their lives. The question on the minds of the living "corpses" parading the streets of Nigeria is: When shall this misery end? Perhaps the 1985 budget will provide the answers…

talking drums 1984-12-03 Ghana a government of part timers Nigeria press-government relations