Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Kojo Tsikata calls for new leadership

The Special Adviser to the PNDC, Captain Kojo Tsikata has called for a new quality of Trades Union Congress leadership that would erase the memories of past short- comings by new commitment to service and social justice.

Addressing this year's May Day parade at the independence square in Accra, Capt. Tsikata stated that the nation needed a TUC leadership that would not regard the unions as mere stepping-stones to influence and personal gains.

Capt. Tsikata recalled how, during the Busia regime, some TUC leaders allowed themselves to be manipulated by political names and how some leaders were instigated into activities which were later used as a pretext to justify the ban on the TUC by the Progress Party Government.

"Some of the people who were ministers in the Government which banned the TUC are now holding secret meetings with some members of the present TUC leadership, and are urging them on to confrontation with the Government on issues which the Government is ready to discuss openly and frankly", the Special Adviser said.

Declaring that the contribution of the TUC leaders and membership was vital at the time, Capt. Tsikata said what was necessary to enable the Government to ensure better conditions for workers was to remove the constraints of low productivity, waste, inefficiency and everything which held back the Economic Recovery Programme.

TUC calls for consultations

Hundreds of workers defied an early morning downpour to mark this year's May Day parade at Accra.

Some of the placards that were displayed by the workers read: "Restore the 25 per cent ceiling"; "Why the excessive overtime tax?"; "Unity brings victory''; "Consultation is advantageous''; "Education is a right not a privilege"; "Help, loyalty in Ghana is sinking"; "TUC must continue with the struggle"; "Labour Secretary too good"; "Respect the Labour Force" and "Civil Servants are with TUC, do not divide them".

Mr. A.K. Yankey, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), in his address, called for consultation between the Government and the TUC on national issues which are paramount and fundamental to ensure industrial peace and harmony.

On the Civil Service negotiating machinery, Mr. Yankey requested for a sizeable number of workers in the civil services. The TUC leader urged the Government to come out soon with the scheme proposed by the Social Security Review Committee as well as the pension scheme for public debate.

TUC told to guide workers

The Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) have called on the labour movement to examine its proper role in the society as far as the worker management role is concerned.

It said KNRG believed that in participatory democracy industry could not function properly with hand-picked bureaucratic leadership for the labour movement.

This was contained in a solidarity message issued by the KNRG in connection with "May Day".

It declared that it was its view that workers must now play the decisive role in the decision making process in the labour movement as opposed to the present situation where important national decisions were taken by few selected ones in the leadership of the movement.

The KNRG therefore called on the movement to demonstrate true leadership and guide the workers to achieve its historic mission.

Illegal aliens return home

A large number of Ghanaians were reported during the week to have besieged the Ijora wharf in Lagos in a bid to travel home by sea following an order by the Nigerian government to about 700,000 illegal aliens to leave Nigeria by May 10.

Four ships were reported to have left the wharf for Ghana on May 6 with two others waiting for their turn. A shipping agent at the site told reporters that the operators of the ships were having problems with the aliens who had become over-anxious.

Two other routes, air and land were also being used by the aliens to leave Nigeria and there were reports that the Nigerian government had provided vehicles to convey those who could not afford air travel, to the appropriate borders which were temporarily opened on May 3.

At the same border post hundreds of the immigrants filed calmly through into neighbouring Benin. Benin had earlier refused to let the expelled immigrants into the country for fear they would not be able to reach their homes farther west in Togo and Ghana. But officials later said the situation had improved and were therefore allowing those with assured transport to enter. The exodus has so far gone off much more smoothly than in 1983. Not all the departing aliens were bitter about their expulsion.

Ghana's deputy Regional Secretary for the Volta Region, Mr. Kodzo Degbor, visited the border at Aflao to check measures adopted to ensure that congestion was not created with the evacuation of illegal immigrants arriving from Nigeria. He was assured that all was under control at the border and that there should be no cause for alarm. The officer commanding the Aflao border, Maj. Gershon Lomo, said there was no truth in rumours that there was congestion at the border as a result of the Nigerian quit order.

Maj. Lomo was convinced that at the rate at which the Ghanaians affected by the quit order were arriving at the Aflao border, there may not be any congestion at all. Mr. Degbor was also told that some of the returnees had measles and chicken pox. Those affected have been quarantined at the Aflao health post. According to Maj. Lomo, the Volta region returnees were sent home while those coming from other regions are escorted to the El Wak stadium in Accra.

Reception plans

In Accra the government has set up a reception committee and a reactivation of transit camps to receive the returning Ghanaians.

Meanwhile a commentary on Ghana radio has noted that the over 300,000 Ghanaian immigrants were returning at a critical period when budgetary plans have been made and an economic recovery programme is in its final and most critical phase. The return poses unanticipated problems and challenges to boot. However,the present situation is not like the previous return in 1983 when the nation faced serious food shortfalls. Many of those repatriated in 1983 put their shoulders to the wheels of nation-building, and in cooperation with the national mobilisation committee, worked hard to get the nation out of its food problems. It is hoped that those returning at present will take a cue from that good example and contribute towards the economic recovery programme, the commentary continued.

It called for an end to the process of some Ghanaians illegally leaving their country for other lands only to be forcibly sent back home at great cost to the entire nation. Institutions responsible for or connected with Ghanaian migration should ensure that the necessary documents are in order and are up-to-date. If that is done, the state will be saved the huge expenses it makes on repatriated Ghanaians. Money thus saved will be used to make life at home better for all. Those returning Ghanaians should be offered all the help to enable them to resettle in the land of their birth.

Appeal to extend deadline

The Accra-based Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU, has appealed to the Nigerian Government to consider extending its deadline for illegal aliens to quit the country. The OATUU appeal was contained in a May Day message released in Accra. The OATUU also drew the atten- tion of the OAU and African governments to the need for an African convention on migrant workers.

Ghana-USA barter agreement

Ghana and the United States have signed a barter agreement to assist Burkina Faso and Mali, which have been hit by drought. Under the terms of the agreement, Ghana will provide the United States with 15,000 t of surplus white maize in exchange for a future delivery to Ghana of about 9,200 t of rice from the United States. The United States will pay the cost of transporting the maize by Ghanaian organisations and firms to Burkina Faso and Mali. This agreement will permit people in Burkina Faso and Mali to receive food more quickly than if delivered directly from the United States. In its turn, Ghana will benefit by reducing its future foreign exchange expenditure for importing rice commercially.

Barter trade with Senegal

Draft proposals for a barter trade agreement between Ghana and Senegal have been presented to the Ghana Government for approval.

Under the agreement, Ghana will exchange 12,000 parent stock chicks for an unspecified number of cattle from Senegal. Mr John O. Nunoo, managing director of ACME Farms Limited, disclosed this to newsmen during a visit to his farms by the four-member Egyptian agricultural team in the country.

He said the Ghana Hatcheries Association, comprising his farm Darko Farms, Glamour and Pomadze Farms would honour the Government's part of the agreement with a supply of 3,000 chicks each.

5000 cedis to keep corpses in mortuary

Any corpse which remains in a government mortuary for 21 days will now attract C5,000 every extra day.

Mr E. G. Tanoh, Secretary for Health disclosed this during a visit to the Hohoe Government Hospital.

Mr Tanoh disclosed further that a corpse that remained at the mortuary for more than 28 days would be buried by the government.

Mr Tanoh said "realistic fees" were charged by the hospital and clinics, out of which 50 per cent would be retained by them to meet running costs.

The Secretary said the Ministry would soon take delivery of 40,000 pieces of blankets from Japan for distribution to hospitals.

Governor sees economy improving

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mr J. S. Addo has said the latest adjustment in the exchange rate of the cedi to the dollar has not been as massive as before because the productive sector of the economy is improving in the light of the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP).

In an interview with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) following the adjustment from C50 to 53 per dollar, the Governor said another reason for the marginal nature of the adjustment is that there have already been massive adjustments caused by the over-valuation of the cedi for a long time.

He said so long as the country continues to have balance of payment deficits, the cedi will continue to lose value.

He added that when exports rise to the point that the country has a surplus of foreign exchange after paying for foreign goods and services and given hard work on the part of everybody, the cedi will appreciate and it can then be revalued upwards.

Ghanair to expand

The Ghana Airways Corporation is expected this month to extend its flight operations to West Germany and soon to the United States on charter basis. Ghanair would soon acquire two medium range jets to facilitate planned services westwards to Las Palmas and eastwards to Douala, Libreville and eventually to Nairobi.

Plans are afoot for Ghanair to link up to Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and back to provide service to the north Sahelian and Francophone countries.

Loan for manganese Corporation

Ghana has been granted a loan of about 6m pounds sterling by the European Investment Bank to rehabilitate and replace some of the old machinery and equipment of the Ghana National Manganese Corporation at Nsuta to enable it to increase production for exports. The million pounds of the loan is to be used to bring in new machinery to replace the top portions of the washing plant at the mines.


Teachers call for lifting of ban

Liberian teachers have called on the Government to lift the ban on the independent "Daily Observer" newspaper closed down by the authorities early this year.

The paper was closed down for the fifth time by General Samuel Doe's government on January 16 for allegedly promoting division in Liberian society.

In a letter to Justice Minister Jenkins Scott who ordered the closure, the teachers said that as educators, they regarded communication as a vital tool for developing and promoting education.

They added that in a society where the means of getting vital information was lacking, lies and rumours were bound to creep in and poison the minds of citizens. Describing themselves as representatives of government in the classroom, the teachers reminded the authorities that they were also partners in the government's developmental process.

Death sentence for repeated bribery

Gen. Samuel Kanyon Doe has recommended to the INA (Interim National Assembly) that any Government employee who receives bribes openly or secretly should be jailed for life. Gen. Doe also recommended to the Assembly that thereafter any individual who receives a bribe should face the firing squad and that any alien who is caught offering bribes should be sent out of the country and his business be confiscated by Government.

Gen. Doe made the recommendations in a joint Assembly chamber at the Capitol Building where he addressed members of the INA and briefed them about a bribery case involving four customs officers at the free port of Monrovia.

Gen. Doe told the Assembly members that their failure to approve the recommendations will make it impossible for Government to resolve the nation's econ- omic problems. The Liberian leader also made it clear to the INA members that in spite of the stringent economic measures adopted by the Government to improve the nation's economy, the dishonesty of some people continues to frustrate this effort.


Absence explained

President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso have written to the Nigerian Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammad Buhari, in connection with the Lake Chad and Niger Basin summits in Lagos. Mr Biya said that this inability to attend was due to the change of dates for the meetings as he had other pressing national issues.

He expressed the hope that the outcome of the summits would lead to greater economic and social development in the subregion. His message was delivered at Dodan barracks by the Cameroonian Minister of National Planning, Youssouf Daouda.

In his message, the Burkinabe President regretted his inability to be present at the summit. He reaffirmed his support for Nigeria's role in promoting regional cooperation in West Africa. Capt. Sankara's message was brought to Lagos by the Burkinabe Minister of Water Re- sources, Michael Moussa. On receiving the messages, General Buhari once again emphasised the commitment of the Federal Military Government to the formation of cooperation among African states.

Biya ends visit to Ivory Coast

Head of State President Biya left Abidjan on 5th May for Yaounde after a short 24-hour official and friendly visit to the Ivory Coast. He said that he had held wide-ranging talks with President Houphouet-Boigny and that both of them are anxious to strengthen bilateral relations in the best interest of the two countries and Africa in general.


Rescheduling of debts

Lt-Col Anna Amadou Babaly, member of the Military Committee for National Salvation and Minister of Commerce and Finance, has returned to Nouakchott from Paris, where he led the country's delegation to the recent meeting in the French capital in connection with the rescheduling of foreign debts.

In a statement the Minister pointed out that the country's delegation had submitted to the meeting a detailed review of the difficult situation through which the country is passing on the economic and financial levels, especially as it concerned the repayment of debts.

The delegation assured the participants in the meeting of the strong resolve to reorganise Mauritania's economic situation by way of the economic reform plan which has been adopted.


Student demonstrators in Benin

President Mathieu Kerekou has ordered the closure of the Benin University and schools throughout the country until further notice, and all school children and students sent on vacation from 6th May.

The Head of State also ordered the Chief of Staff of the People's Armed Forces to get the soldiers to shoot on sight any demonstrator. Schools in the country have been disrupted by student demonstrations in recent weeks.


French aid for water supplies

Christian Nucci, French Minister Delegate in Charge of Cooperation and Development, and the Chad Ambassador to Paris, Allam-mi Ahmad have signed an agreement on which France is to grant the Chad Government budgetary aid worth 15m francs. This sum, French sources pointed out, will be used by the Chad state for expenditure, especially in the running of the water and electricity companies of the town of Ndjamena.


Booing at May Day rally

The Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, has called on all Nigerians to limit the sizes of their families. In an address at this year's May Day celebration, Maj-Gen Buhari said that if the sizes of families were manageable, the quality of life and the standard of living would be enhanced...

He said that the Government was doing all it could through appropriate fiscal and monetary policies to revamp the economy particularly in the area of agriculture and industry in order to create more job opportunities. He regretted that in spite of the War Against Indiscipline there were a total of 97 reported trade disputes involving 298,440 workers in the country between May last year and March this year. According to him, this amounted to the loss of 6,564,347 man-days.

He called on all affiliate unions of the NLC to abide by the nation's policy of non- affiliation with international labour unions, stressing that "this aspect of union activities will be properly monitored".

The address was read on his behalf by the Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, Maj-Gen Solomon Omojokun.

Speaking earlier, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Alhaji Chiroma, urged the Federal Government not to accept the IMF loan. The loan, he said, will turn Nigeria into a beggar nation. Alhaji Ali Chiroma gave the assurance that the Congress will continue to maintain its dignified stand, consistent with the aspirations of the working people.

The NLC president, Alhaji Ali Chiroma, condemned what he called the banning of progressive and patriotic organisations in the country and urged the military administration to lift the ban on the Nigerian Medical Association and the Association of Resident Doctors.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria at the national stadium, venue of the celebration, reported that the turnout of workers was poor and that the workers booed as the NLC president, Alhaji Ali Chiroma, and the Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, Maj-Gen Solomon Omojokun, read their addresses. In an interview with NAN, the former NLC president, Alhaji Hassan Sommonu, said that the workers action was in response to their feelings on retrenchments and delay in salary payments, adding that the action was a healthy one because "they said a lot of things against their own organisation"...

The rally which was also attended by the Minister of Finance, Onalapo Soleye, and the Lagos Commissioner for Information, sports, youth and social welfare, Dr Ajibade Rokosu ended abruptly without the usual march past.

Spy network smashed

A statement by the Supreme Headquarters says that an organised spy network in Nigeria has been smashed by the security. A Brazilian working with Hydroservice Nigerian Ltd of Ikoyi, has been named as leader of the ring which involved some Nigerians working at the Ministry of Communications in Lagos.

A Nigerian had been intercepted while passing classified material to the Brazilian and that "startling discoveries", including photographic and communications equipment and vital documents, had been made during a search of the Brazilian's residence. He had been taken to court in connection with the matter.

Government should not succumb to "paranoia"

In its comments, the National Concord focuses on a recent allegation by Maj-Gen. Idiagbon that there are subversive elements within the nation's academic and religious establishments. The paper observed that since the inception of the present administration, there have been similar allegations of plans by some wanted politicians to cause civil strife in the country.

However, the paper says, the frequency of the Government's repeated alarms have tended to seriously erode whatever may have been the true significance. The Concord feels that a good government should learn to live with difference rather than succumb to the paranoia of imagining incipient subversion in every nook and corner. The paper advises the Government to rid itself of the wrong notion that the universities are training grounds for subversives and pay attention to the nation's real problems.

Debt rescheduling negotiations

Nigeria is negotiating with her trading partners for an 18-month moratorium within which the country will only pay interest on her debts. The Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, disclosed this in an interview with the Voice of America, (VOA). He said that after the one and a half year's grace, the next three and a half years would be spent to pay the capital. General Buhari added that while the negotiations were going on, Nigeria will continue to honour her debt commitments on the medium and long-term loans.

On the achievements of his Administration, the Head of State told the VOA that there have been remarkable improvements in the area of the economy, security and political stability of the country. He said that the Federal Military Government now controlled what comes in by allowing only essential raw materials for industries, spare parts and necessary services.

Seven new decrees

The Nigerian Government published seven decrees, one of which provides for the establishment of committees to ensure compliance with the orders made in judgments of tribunals after confirmation by the Supreme Military Council.

The decree, called Judgment of Tribunals Enforcement Decree, is deemed to have come into effect on 31st December 1983, and makes special provisions to facilitate the payments of fines and the recovery of assets forfeited to the Government through judgments of eight named tribunals.

The Buhari Administration set up the tribunals after assuming power to try allegations of corruption by public officers in the defunct Shagari administration and various other offences. Failure of affected individuals to comply with the requirements of a confirmed judgment is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not less than two years without an option of fine.

In the case of a corporate body, the fine would be an amount equal to the estimated value of the property affected by the non- compliance.

Other decrees are the Military Courts (Special Powers) (amendment) Decree, the Pension Rights of Judges Decree, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (amendment) Decree, the Associated Gas Reinjection (amendment) Decree, the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards, etc) Decree and the Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Decree.

"Highly placed reactionaries behind the Maitatsine riots"

The military governor of Bauchi, Brigadier Sani Sami has said in Bauchi that the recent Maitatsine religious riots in Gombe were masterminded by "forces of reaction and anarchy in highly placed positions":

Swearing in seven members of a judicial commission set up to look into the disturb- objectives of the religious sect were yet to be determined, there were indications that the riots went beyond religion. He said that the strength and fighting tactics of the fanatics showed that "highly-placed reactionaries" were behind the riots.

The Governor said that it was disturbing that "hundreds of strong and able-bodied adults without visible means of income could be housed, fed and financed to terrorise the lives of people under the guise of religion". He said that although various committees had been set up in the past, the salient issues regarding religious riots had never been brought to light.

He advised members of the commission to treat the assignment with caution because of its sensitive nature and urged them not to spare any persons involved, no matter how highly placed. He appealed to the public to assist the commission in its efforts to find the causes of the Gombe disturbances, adding that national security was a collective responsibility of all citizens.

Official figures released by the police in Bauchi put the death toll in the recent Maitatsine religious uprising in Gombe at 43. A statement issued by the police head- quarters said that 40 civilians and three policemen were killed during the disturbances.

It said that only one of the policemen killed was actively involved in the operation, adding that seven policemen were injured while the number of civilians injured was yet to be ascertained. A total of 174 persons arrested in connection with the incident were being screened to identify the fanatics among them.

Maitatsine leader "still at large"

About 14 dead bodies of the Maitatsine followers, who were involved in clashes with the police in Gombe last week, have so far been identified, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Malam Yakubu Ma'aji, who led the operation in Gombe has said. He said the total number of casualties in the uprising was yet to be determined, but disclosed that three policemen, two of them inspectors, were killed.

Also killed in the clash was one Reverend Awodunmi of the Calvary Baptist Church, Gombe, who was gunned down by the fanatics

The Deputy Commissioner further said that about 960 rounds of different types of ammunition, 49 smoke cartridges and one smoke pistol, had been recovered from the fanatics' hideout at Herwa, Gana...

He said that out of about 250 arrested suspects, 170 had been identified as members of the Maitatsine sect, adding that 100 of them were from Gombe, 53 from Bauchi, and seven from Alkaleri while their leader, Yusufu Adamu, is still at large.

Criticism of USA's Africa policy

Nigeria has restated its disappointment over the African policy of United States Presi- dent Ronald Reagan. The Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, told the Voice of America (VOA) in an interview. broadcast on 4th May: "We are disappointed with the Reagan Administration's African policy, especially the so-called 'constructive engagement' with South Africa.'

Maj-Gen. Buhari said that the policy had emboldened the apartheid regime in South Africa to defy the United Nations and destabilise the governments of the frontline states. He condemned the introduction by the US of "extraneous issues" to the independence of Namibia, adding that "Reagan's African policy has indirectly aided and abetted South Africa in forestalling Namibia's independence."

Detention of British engineers

A Lagos High Court judge has rejected a defence request for the release of two detained British engineers accused of stealing an executive jet.

Mr Kenneth Clark and Mr Angus Patterson, employed by the British firm Bristow Helicopters in Nigeria have been held for nearly a year. They are accused of helping a British pilot fly the plane from Lagos airport in May last year while private flights were banned.

Mr Clark and Mr Patterson, who were not in court, were discharged in March when the Federal Attorney-General did not object to the Lagos state Attorney-General bringing new charges and the second trial in another court could go ahead.

The defence argued that it was unconstitutional to try the two men again on a similar charge.

Britain has expressed concern at their detention but Nigeria has denied they are being ill-treated.

Second money market

Nigeria's second money market officially opened for business. It is the first of its kind in Africa, and the fourth worldwide.

The second tier securities market (SSM), as it is called, will not necessarily play second fiddle to the first tier in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), its forebear which has monopolised source of business finance outside the banks. Its mission is to unlock the gates of the capital market for Nigerian-promoted enterprises, none of which is among the 95 companies quoted on the NSE, and make it easier for them to get loans.

Dance troupes in New York

Two Nigerian dance troupes, the Nkpokiti and the Korotso have thrilled over a thousand spectators in New York, including UN Secretary General, Mr Javier Perez De Cuellar during a special performance.

Others present at the display, staged to raise funds for victims of famine and drought in Africa were ambassadors accredited to the UN.

In four different performances, members of the dance troupes kept the cheering audience on their feet while shouts of "encore", "encore" rented the air.

Signing of pact put off

The proposed signing of an agreement on economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Nigeria and Zaire, has been postponed until further notice.

talking drums 1985-05-13 worker's may day warning to buhari in Nigeria