Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Biya holds talks with British Prime Minister

President Paul Biya, on a one week official visit to Britain, has held talks with the British Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher.

The President was expected later during the week to hold substantive talks with officials of the British Foreign Office to emphasise the bilingual policy of his government.

Even though Cameroon is both French and English speaking, observers believe that President Biya is using his visit to express his displeasure at France's accommodation of Ex-President Ahidjo who is in exile in Paris.

At Heathrow airport to welcome the President and Madame Biya was the Baroness Cox (Baroness in waiting) who welcomed their Excellencies on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

It is expected that as part of the private activities of the official visit, President Biya will be playing golf in Scotland.

On Tuesday, May 14 the President and Madame Biya visited the Queen and had lunch with her. The following ministers who accompanied President Biya on his UK visit were also present at the luncheon. They are Mr William Eteki Mboumoua (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Madame Eteki, Mr Philippe Mataga (Minister in Charge of the Civil Cabinet) and Madame Mataga, Mr Jean Nkuete (Minister, Deputy Secretary- General at the Presidency), Mr Abdoulaye Babale (Minister of Urban Development and Housing) and Madame Babale. Mr Edouard Nomo Ongolo (Minister of Commerce and Industry), Professor Victor Anomah Ngu (Minister of Public Health), and the Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon.


Call to businessmen to invest in farming

The Burkinabe Government has called on all the country's businessmen to invest massively in agriculture and animal breeding in order to attain self-sufficiency in food production. The call was made by the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Breeding, Seydou Traore, at a meeting organised at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ouagadougou between the Government and businessmen operating in the country, irrespective of their nationality.

The Minister used the occasion to denounce the poor participation of the businessmen in this sector which represents 90% of the active population and 40% of Burkinabe exports. He pointed out that the Government was committed to taking measures to ensure the best conditions for production.


25 aliens shot dead by troops

Twenty five immigrants ordered by the Federal Military Government to leave Nigeria but failed to beat the May 10 deadline were reported to have died last Monday when troops opened fire as they tried to cross the border into Benin.

Fifteen of the immigrants died when Nigerian troops fired at their vehicles at Seme border crossing and ten were trampled to death or suffocated in the crowd. The toll, according to witnesses, could be higher as bodies remained in vehicles blocked at the border.

The reported violence took place after 25,000 of the illegal immigrants broke out of the camp at Ikeja near Lagos airport and headed for the border in 400 vehicles.

The Federal Military Government opened the country's borders for one week to allow an estimated 700,000 illegal aliens, mostly Ghanaians, to leave following their expulsion.

On 10th May, the deadline for all illegal immigrants in Nigeria to leave the country, thousands of immigrants were stranded at the country's borders because of transport difficulties. Some reports said five Ghanaian returnees died on the spot and 70 others were injured when their Nigerian- registered articulated truck conveying them was involved in an accident at Anecho, in Togo.

In Lagos, three returnees who attempted to board a vessel to return to Ghana got drowned at the Apapa port. Other reports from Lagos also indicated that the Nigerian immigration authorities made things very difficult for the returnees. They were demanding tax clearance certificates for the past three years from owners of private cars and small buses before allowing them to cross the border.

This prompted the Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Brigadier Adu Bediako, to call on Nigeria's External Affairs Ministry to express the misgivings of the Ghana Government on the implementation of the arrangements and modalities by the Nigerian Government. He also appealed to the Federal authorities to extend the deadline to avoid or reduce hazards and panic.

It's a lie - Police Chief says

Nigeria's Deputy Police Chief, Muhammadu Gambo, has denied reports that Nigerian security forces had killed immigrants by opening fire on a truck of illegal immigrants trying to break through a border crossing into neighbouring Benin. Mr Gambo said reports of the shooting incident were groundless. Officials at Seme, on the Nigerian side of the Nigeria-Benin border, also denied reports from Cotonou that immigrants trying to flee the country had clashed with Nigerian police.

Meanwhile hundreds of illegal immigrants are being camped at Murtala Mohammed international airport in readiness for their repatriation by sea.

Govt statement on expulsions

The Federal Military Government has given reasons for its order on illegal immigrants either to regularise their stay or leave the country. Speaking in the radio programme "Matters of the moment", the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Maj-Gen Tunde Idiagbon, said that many of the illegal immigrants who were not skilled in any trade engaged in crime.

The rest took up all available job openings to the disadvantage of Nigerians. General Idiagbon explained that in this kind of situation, it was only logical for Nigeria to protect her social and economic interests.

The Chief of Staff said that while Nigeria felt concerned about the plight of the citizens of her neighbours, she could not completely close her eyes to the serious social and economic constraints imposed by the hitherto unrestricted influx of millions of illegal immigrants.

He added that the order on such people was in consonance with the ECOWAS protocol on the movement of persons within the West African subregion. Besides, Nigeria's neighbours were confidence at both the planning and taken into execution stages of the repatriation moves. General Idiagbon maintained that for these and other reasons, and particularly the friendly and humane way in which the exercise was carried out, Nigeria's neighbours had no problem whatsoever to feel unhappy about.

Inadequate food for immigrants in camp

Irate illegal immigrants fled the transit camp of the Murtala Muhammed airport and looted the multi-million naira power house of the Nigerian Airport Authority damaging some equipment. The ground commander of security at the airport said that the immigrants had complained of inadequate food and medical attention at the camp.

A combined team of the army, air force and police numbering more than 200 men were on hand to ensure security around the airport. The immigrants also broke into nearby farms, destroying crops and eating the corn found in the farms.

Five ships left Lagos harbour on 13th May, carrying illegal immigrants to their countries. Operations at the port were supervised by the Commissioner of Police in charge of ports, Mr Abdulahi Jiga who in an address to a group of illegal immigrants assured them that the Federal Military Government felt concerned about their plight and will do everything to ensure their comfort.

Meanwhile, all the illegal immigrants camped at the Murtala Muhammed international airport have been moved to Apapa port following the destruction of public and private property. Advice to those married to aliens The sole administrator of the Yola local government area of Gongola retired Maj Aliyu Tahir has said in Yola that the local government would commence an "operation fish out illegal immigrants".

He told newsmen that reports reaching the local government indicated that there were some illegal immigrants still hiding in hotels, motor parks and cinema houses. He said that people in the local government area who engaged the services of some of the immigrants for menial jobs were conniving with them to dodge the quit order.

The sole administrator said that anyone caught harbouring illegal immigrants in the area would be handed over to the law enforcement agents for prosecution. He urged Nigerians who had married some of the illegal immigrants to regularise their papers with the immigration department in the area to avoid "unpleasant consequences".

Don't harbour immigrants

The Plateau Governor, Navy Capt Samuel Atunkum, has said that anybody who harboured illegal immigrants would be treated as a saboteur. He told newsmen at Heipang airport Jos that instead of harbouring illegal immigrants, every Nigerian should assist the Federal Government to expose them.

He said that because of rumours that the Maitatsine sect was regrouping in Plateau after the Gombe riots, the State Government had embarked on a surveillance to detect them.

Maitatsine disturbances inquiry

The district head of Gombe, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abubabkar has said in Gombe that Malam Musa, the leader of the Maitatsine religious uprising in Gombe town, was identified one week before the disturbances erupted on 26th April. Testifying before the judicial commission of inquiry investigating the circumstances which led to the disturbances, the district head said that Malam Musa was invited for questioning by the local government's sole administrator, Alhaji Ahmed Maikudi, on 22nd April.

He said that Malam Musa had confessed on interrogation that he was the leader of a group of more than 30 Koranic scholars and that he hailed from Dengi-Kanam in Plateau (State) but that he resided at Alkaleri in Bauchi State. Alhaji Abdulkadir said that Musa's followers had threatened to set Gombe town on fire if their leader was not released on the very day he was invited for questioning. He said that the sole administrator later ordered the fanatics to move out of Gombe within three days but that they refused to move out until fighting broke out between the group and the police.

Cross-examined by the counsel for the commission, Mr Hakila Heman, the district head said that it was easy to identify the fanatics because most of them were young, clean-shaven and wore the same type of dress.

Buhari's address to troops in Kano

The Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, has in Kano told about 1,500 officers and men of the Nigerian army, air force and police to behave properly while on duty because "Kano can be violent anytime". Addressing the troops at Bukavo barracks, Kano, Maj-Gen Buhari urged them to go about their duties diligently "no matter how menial" and said that they should maintain the good relationship existing between them and civilians.

The Head of State said that the police had been given wider powers to check and arrest all those who made life difficult for the people and that the expectations of the people in that regard were high. "You must not allow smugglers and criminals to terrorise the people and your welfare will be taken care of", he said.

He stressed the need for members of the armed forces to ensure that their equipment was maintained and kept in good condition, adding that there was no foreign exchange to buy new equipment...

Bail for two journalists and publisher

The editor of the "Sunday Standard" Mr Clement Oluwole, and the paper's crime reporter Mr Steve Raymond, have been arraigned before a Jos chief magistrate's court for publishing "injurious falsehood". Charged along with the two journalists is Mr Amos Jimwan, the sole administrator of the Plateau Publishing Company (PPC), publishers of the "Nigerian Standard" and the "Sunday Standard". The prosecution told the court that the accused persons had on 21st October last year, published a news story titled "hemp farmers rejoice over bumper harvest" which was capable of damaging the reputation of the policy in the State. The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The presiding magistrate granted the accused persons bail on self-recognizance in the sum of 500 naira each and adjourned the case to 9th July. Mr Steve Raymond had earlier been discharged and acquitted by a Jos High Court on the same offence, but he and Mr Oluwole were re-arrested by the police immediately after they left the court.

Warning to retrenched workers

The Niger (State) police in Minna has warned all retrenched workers in the State to desist from any act of sabotage. A statement by the command said that reports had reached the police that some retrenched workers of the State Ministry of Health were planning to set ablaze some Government properties.

The police warned that any person arrested while destroying any Government property would be arraigned before the appropriate military tribunal.

Press criticism of Benin President

An order by President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin Republic that demonstrating university students be shot on sight is condemned by the "Punch". The paper explains that President Kerekou's action portrays him as one of the African leaders who do not tolerate criticism.

The paper feels that death in whatever form should be reserved for hardened criminals, and not innocent citizens. After all, says the "Punch", in civilised societies of the world the law enforcement agents disperse demonstrators with water and soft rubber bullets, and not with live bullets. It is therefore disappointing that in spite of President Kerekou's brilliant performance, he has succumbed to the dictates of tyranny and oppression.

The "Punch" advised him to hold dialogue with the students and order his troops to replace their bullets with tear gas.


Student leaders on the run

A government statement has reported that the "instigators" of the university disturbances that occurred in Benin last week are now on the run and are being hunted by security forces throughout the country. According to the authorities, there are five youths, including one female, Therese Waounna, Denis Sindete, Issoufou Alassane, Osseni Agbetou and Aboubakar Baparape. One young man was reportedly killed during the disturbances but this has not been officially confirmed. According to the same reports, clashes reportedly took place and shop windows smashed and vehicles damaged. According to witnesses, tension heightened when the students reportedly tried to force secondary school students to join in the strike by threatening them. Following the closure of secondary schools and the university, the situation has remained calm in Cotonou.


Agreement with China

An agreement for the construction of the Health Ministry and the completion of several Chinese ongoing projects in the country has been signed between the Liberian and Chinese Governments. The projects, estimated at 15m US dollars also include the expansion of the rice project in Bong County, the completion of the sports complex in Paynesville, and the extension of J. J. Dawson hospital in Maryland County.

The Foreign Minister, T. Ernest Eastman, signed for the Liberian Government while the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia signed for his government. The Liberian Minister expressed appreciation to the Chinese Government for its assistance in Liberia's development effort and praised the cultural relations existing between the two countries.

The Chinese Ambassador said his Government was pleased to assist Liberia in its development programme and hoped both parties would honour the agreement.

US told to ensure freedom in Liberia

The Coalition for Democratic Change in Liberia, made up a group of Liberians based in the United States have protested to the American government over its benign accommodation of the military regime in their country.

In a letter to officials of the US Government the coalition for Democratic Change regretted that the US Government which has bankrolled the military regime since it seized power in 1980 has not used its leverage to pull Liberia away from the military dictatorship nor it helping is Liberians in their quest for democracy,

"At stake", the letter noted, "is not only the long-term future of the country and the kind of political system that will evolve there, but also the influence and interest of the United States".

It continued, "on the one hand, the United States advocates the spread of democracy and fundamental human freedom and on the other hand, it continues to embrace a dictator whose every action runs contrary to the basic concept inherent in a democratic society".

The US based Liberians called upon the United States government, as leader of the democratic free world, to use its influence to bring pressure to bear on the Doe regime so as to reverse the precarious political situation in Liberia. They requested that the United States cuts off all aid to Liberia until the following conditions are met:

(1) Unconditional adherence to the election laws, and allow all political parties and politicians to participate in the elections. (2) Unconditional release of all political prisoners in Liberia, and (3) immediate end to all human rights violations in Liberia.


Govt to expel aliens

President Bongo has hinted at a news conference that his Government might soon expel all illegal aliens and new residence and work permits for immigrant labourers would soon be introduced. The President also announced that Gabon was withdrawing its candidate for the post of OAU Secretary General.

This means that Mali's Foreign Minister, Alioune Blondin Beye would be the sole candidate. The President also announced that he was in touch with the Libyan leader, Col Qadhafi in an effort to bring the civil war in Chad to an end.


National Assembly installed

The Second National Assembly of the Third Republic, which was elected recently has been officially installed by General Gnassingbe Eyadema, the founding chairman of the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT). The installation took place during a quiet, militant ceremony attended by all the political, traditional, religious and diplomatic leaders in Lome.

In his address, the Head of State, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, warmly congratulated the Togolese people, who by the recent elections demonstrated their great political maturity and determination to be united. The Head of State said that this second legislature represented a major turning point in the life of the country.

He therefore appealed to the elected candidates and those who lost in the elections to join hands in the construction of the country. After stressing the successes achieved by the green revolution the Head of State called for a greater effort to diversify agricultural production in order to be spared from natural calamity.

To this end, he appealed to the Deputies to explain to the masses the misery caused by bush fires On the international scene, the Head of State condemned South Africa's apartheid policy... He reaffirmed the need for dialogue in order to settle the conflicts in Chad, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic and in the Gulf. He called on the Deputies to avoid politics and useless argumentation, which do not conform with the realities of the country.


Beaten aliens back home

About 200 illegal immigrants who succeeded in crossing the Nigerian border on foot and took refuge in Benin on 13th May have arrived in Abidjan. Some of them had wounds, according to eyewitnesses. They stated that they were chased into the bush by Nigerian border guards who beat them up and robbed them of their money.


Non-Ghanaians are not welcome

The first of an unspecified number of ships chartered by the Nigerian Government to convey stranded aliens, has berthed at the Tema port with about 1,500 returnees. The chairman of the national mobilisation committee, Commodore Steve Obimpeh instructed that all non-Ghanaians coming by such ships, should be returned on the very ships which brought them. He said that although those coming would be angry, hungry and wild, we have a duty to ensure that those who are allowed in are all Ghanaians.

Students demand compensation

Students of the University of Ghana, Legon, have staged demonstration in front of the Nigerian a peaceful High Commission in Accra to protest against the shooting of Ghanaian immigrants by Nigerian border officials at the Idiroko border. In a protest note to the High Commissioner the students, among other things, called Government to continue negotiations with on the Governments of Nigeria, Benin and the Ghana Togo to enable the immigrants still in Nigeria to return home safely. Ghana should also ask for adequate compensation from the Nigerian government for the relatives of those who were killed. The note called on the government to demand an unconditional apology from the Nigerians for the killings and all other atrocities committed against Ghanaians in that country.

The students appealed to the ECOWAS and OAU secretariats to intervene on half of the immigrants to ensure proper treatment. The High Commissioner promised to send the note to his Government.

Rawlings condemns ballot box

The chairman of the PNDC, Flt-Lt Rawlings has explained the philosophy of is revolution in an interview granted to Radio France International. According to Flt-Lt Rawlings the aim of revolution is the meaningful participation of all the people of Ghana in the transformation of the society so that everyone may live in dignity and social justice. To this end, the power to take decisions - which was concentrated in the hands of a privileged few - must be accessible to those who formerly had no choice. "We are in the process of evolving the structures and modalities with which we can achieve this. The philosophy of our revolution cannot be labelled since it arises from our own unique experiences, culture and history. It can therefore hardly be expected to fit existing categories", he said.

BL Rawlings said: "Power is simply the capability to change, to develop in a creative and responsible direction, whether we are talking about the individual in his or environment, or society as a whole. Power in this sense is the right of everyone, it is also the duty and responsibility of everyone, to exercise it in a principled manner. I am often amused by the questions I am frequently asked about taking over power or handing over power because that sort of power is merely the means of direct or indirect force or compulsion. It is not true power as I understand it. As I have often said before, power is not transferable", Chairman Rawlings continued.

To a question as to whether he intends to hand over power to civilians, the Chairman said ÔÇťAgain by our definition, your question does not make sense since power cannot be passed from hand to hand. Ghanaians are learning to exercise their power. All that the Government can do and is doing to help the people to evolve the structures which will enable them to use power more effectively".

On the issue of pragmatism Flt-Lt Rawlings replied, "I have often pointed out pragmatism can be a term of approval or disapproval depending on who is using it in a given situation. We will do whatever is necesssary to achieve a sustainable level of prosperity and dignity for the people of Ghana provided it does not compromise our principles and our sovereignty. If you are drowning and someone throws you a rope, and you know that the person will certainly make some demands on you later, will you drown or will you take hold of the rope? Is this pragmatic and does it mean you have committed yourself to being dominated by the person who threw you the rope?" he asked.

Asked whether he believes in democracy, Flt-Lt Rawlings had this to say: "What do you mean by democracy? A procedure whereby the mass of the people are manipulated, cajoled or misled by promises into voting for a few preselected candidates who after they are elected will have no further interest in the electorate until another election is approaching? If this is what you mean, the procedure of Western- style democracy, the trappings of the ballot box, then no, I do not believe in it; but I believe very deeply in democracy which enables the people to participate at all levels and at all the time, not just once every few years, in building a better society".

New leadership for NUGS

J. Opare-Addo, a student of the University of Cape Coast is the new President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). He takes over from Arthur Kennedy of the University of Ghana whose term of office ended with the 20th Congress of NUGS held at Legon.

Pius Dakora, national secretary, Kate a good harvest. Asked about his understanding of power, Parks, national treasurer, all from the University of Cape Coast and B. A. Annan of the University of Ghana, as coordinating secretary.

Students want elective politics

The National Union of Ghana Students has re-stated its call on the PNDC to take concrete steps to return the nation to elective politics.

In a communique issued at the end of their 20th Congress the NUGS said the failure of the government to announce any definite plans in that direction is regrettable. "We demand the production of a definite programme for a return to elective government based on consultation with identifiable bodies" said the communique.

It is only when Ghanaians can freely elect their leaders that there can be true progress, peace and prosperity, said the NUGS. The communique also called on the PNDC to appoint a Chairman for the National Commission for Democracy who is not a member of government.

The NCD which performs electoral functions is also charged with formulating a new political system for Ghana under the PNDC.

Its current Chairman is Justice D. F. Annan, member of the PNDC, and Chairman of the National Economic Commission.

Tribunal system is crude

The Public Tribunal system has been described as crude, unfair, arbitrary and unjust and must be abolished immediately. In its final communique the NUGS condemned what it termed "the existence of two parallel judiciary in the same nation".

The Public Tribunals were set up at the beginning of the 31st December Revolution as an alternative to the traditional courts which the revolution described as unfair and an instrument for the bourgeoisie to suppress the ordinary people. The Ghana Bar Association has so far boycotted the Public Tribunals. The NUGS communique also called on the PNDC to release all political detainees still in jail.

Economic situation improves

Mr Kwame Kwateng, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Limited has stated that there is evidence to show that the government has had some measure of success with the three year Economic Recovery Programme.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the bank, Mr Kwateng said the rate of inflation in the country has dropped considerably as a result of the PNDC's Other members of the new executive are policies, favourable weather conditions and a good harvest

Mr Kwateng expressed the hope that the economic situation would continue to improve and re-affirmed the bank's confidence in the economic future of the country. According to his report, the Standard Bank's trading profit yielded C327.7 million, a 50% increase against that of C217.3m in 1983.

Trade agreement with Algeria

The second session of the Ghana-Algeria permanent joint commission for cooperation has ended in Accra with the signing of a bilateral agreement. Mr Ato Ahwoi of the office of the Provisional National Defence Council signed for Ghana and Algeria's Vice Minister for Cooperation signed for his country.

In his remarks, Mr Ato Ahwoi announced that it was agreed to revise the list of exportable items contained in the 1972 trade protocol between the two countries and to sign long-term contracts based on the revised list. Ghana proposed the joint exploitation of her timber resources, but the Algerians sought a detailed clarification of the modalities and legal framework for the establishment of such a joint venture.

Algeria, however, proposed to buy 71,000 cu. m of timber from Ghana. Mr Ahwoi said Ghana would soon communicate to Algeria the list of items she intended buying from Algeria.

talking drums 1985-05-20 ghana must go the hazardous exodus from Lagos