Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Lest We Forget

Daily Times

Monday, January 26, 1981

Army blamed for N12m loss

The loss of about N12 million sustained by the Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC) recently has been blamed on the previous administration in the state. Making this accusation in an exclusive interview in Lagos the state Commissioner for Public Transportation, Alhaji M. O. Hamzat, said that the maladministration of the corporation by the former administration almost wrecked the corporation. Alhaji Hamzat said that by March 31, 1978, a loss of N9.5 million had been sustained by the corporation. The remaining N2.5 million loss he said was sustained between March 31, 1978 to December 30 last year. From all observations, he said the inefficiency and mismanagement leading to the current loss of N2.5 million was a carry-over from the previous administration. Another contributory factor to the loss sustained by the corporation. Alhaji Hamzat remarked, was the non- availability of spare parts to reactivate the grounded buses.

Between the lines

(Only for those who can see)

Military OAU

Africa, the sleeping, starving giant, may one day wake up and become great not because of its size but by virtue of true progress and achievement backed by peace and stability. The OAU has just concluded its the meeting in Addis Ababa and the high- light of course was as to be expected - resolutions and declarations. It has been words, words and words! It has been a forum of oratory, a competition in grammatical skill in English and French. Who says that bilingual interpreters are not on demand?

It is said that the best way to defend is to attack! Who says that the OAU cannot bite? The declaration lays the blame for starvation on the continent on calculated schemes by foreign powers! It is gratifying to note, however, the admission of the fact that some governmental policies of some governments of some of the member countries also contributed!

But of course, the treading must be softly, softly. The real issue must be considered as too complex, too sensitive, too explosive. It was a forum dominated by military men who came to power through coups d'etats, men without mandate from their people, men whose medals are not for fighting in defence of their country but rather against their people, against the consti- tutions and elected governments of people.

It was dominated by military men whose main concern is their own personal safety and security in political power. They are men who, for fear of their own subordinates, move with tanks and guns, often frightening the public, so defenceless and helpless. A forum dominated by military men in politics whose priority is to squander their country's earning not in growing and, or, importing food for the population but in purchasing MIG fighter planes, tanks and guns to suppress and terrorise the people. This is what in Nigeria is known as WAI - Wrong Army Image!

OAU has long missed the road. It was set up by men of stature and fore- sight. It was, and ought to remain, a political forum. Imagine the calibre of statesmen that assembled in 1963 in Addis. Indeed some of them are still alive and a few still leaders of their countries. But these have become minority voices in the OAU of today dominated by khaki oppressors in the name of Heads of States who are neither trusted, loved or admired by their people. The OAU, instead of being a political forum giving direction to Africa in political and economic fields, is today reduced to Officers Mess with the Buharis, Does and Rawlings playing roles in which they are least qualified or suited.

Indeed one cannot help admiring meetings of the EEC where one hears of well reasoned debates from leaders who are elected by their people and who speak for and on behalf of the people they represent at such meetings! In fact let us ask one question: Is it by sheer coincidence or is it by design that all the countries in Africa that are experiencing drought and suffering from starvation are under military rule? For example, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc. Or can we conclude that even God does not approve of military oppressors?

The most important thing to note is that declarations and resolutions cannot feed the starving millions in Africa. It is no use either to simply blame it on someone else - foreign powers or what have you. We should face realities and borrow a leaf from those countries that today are self- sufficient in food. Their people are not under military rule. They are free people, each living with no threat of a military gun, pursuing their lives in a free atmosphere which enables them to contribute to the national goal. The discipline is self-imposed as it is self- accepted.

Even those selfish lot who are shameless enough to call for susten- ance of military rule because of contracts or because they are in an easier position to exploit the voiceless masses, will one day come to realise their folly and wickedness. They will learn that once liberty is denied no true happiness can exist and no talent can be developed.

So the only true solution to Africa's problem must be found in freedom. It lies in a united effort to get rid of oppression in whatever shape. It is no use fighting for independence from the white man or imperialist only to find white-imperialism replaced by black- oppressors. So long as the military in Africa will not respect the known conventional role of the military, so long as they will wear two caps on the same head, so long will instability continue with consequent unhappiness in the minds of the people.

God save us and deliver Africa from oppression!

talking drums 1985-08-12 Ghana's former vice-president speaks from exile