Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


General Momoh replaces Siaka Stevens

Armed Forces Chief, Major-General Joseph Momoh has been nominated as the sole candidate for the presidential referendum in October by the All People's Congress.

The country was in carnival mood last week as the President-designate Maj-Gen Momoh and President Siaka Stevens toured the streets of the capital city Freetown in an open sports car.

Two former contenders for the presidency, the first Vice-President and Mr Francis Minnah have pledged their support for General Momoh. The handover is seen by government sources as a personal triumph for President Stevens who is nearly 81 and has ruled since 1971.

The sources said that the constitutional transfer of power set an example for Africa and that it was proof of the nation's maturity and stability. General Momoh, aged 48, is a career soldier who joined the British-run West Africa Frontier Police in 1958.

He rose through the ranks to become acting forces commander in 1971 and received the OBE in the same year. In 1973 President Stevens appointed him an MP and he joined the cabinet in 1978.

In defence of one party system

President Siaka Stevens has emphasised to the national delegates conference of the All People's Congress that the country is moving steadily along the chosen path of the one party system of government.

Addressing the opening session of the congress of the party of which he is the Secretary General, President Stevens noted that even though there are other systems, in the nation's present economic and political circumstances, with the high rate of illiteracy, serious lack of capital and expertise, and while efforts are underway to rid the society of malaria and other endemic diseases, to make good roads and provide good drinking water, it is the interest of common sense that all resources should be harnessed and concentrated single mindedly on the development of the country rather than indulge in the multi-party system, thereby dissipating what little resources there are.


Three Liberians accused of treason

The Government has accused three prominent citizens Prof Togba-nah Tipoteh, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Prof Patrick Seyon of treason and threatened to prosecute them "physically or in absentia". The French agency AFP, quoting the government-owned New Liberian newspaper, said Mrs Johnson- Sirleaf was already under house arrest and was likely to be formally charged for criminal libel uttered in the USA.

Election decree

The Interim National Assembly (INA) has issued Decree No 8 allocating a number of representatives to the various sub-political divisions of Liberia for the elections scheduled for October. Decree No 8 em- powers the Special Elections Commission, SECOM, to take immediate steps to demarcate, delineate and identify the various constituencies as well as distribute and formulate programmes without the least delay to educate the public.

According to the decree, this action by SECOM will enable Liberians to fully and intelligibly participate in the ensuing special elections.

Under Decree No 8, Montserrado County shall have 10 representatives and Nimba nine, while Lofa and Bong Counties shall be represented by seven each. Grand Gedeh shall have six, Grand Bassa County five, while Sinoe, Grand Cape Mount and Maryland Counties will each be allocated four representatives. Four new Counties of Rivercess, Grand Kru. Bomi and Magibi shall each have two representatives. Decree No 8 takes immediate effect from the signature of Head of State Doe.

Kollie's request for retirement

The Deputy Vice Head of State, Brig-Gen Abraham D. Kollie, has requested Government to urgently retire him from active services of the Armed Forces of Liberia. In a letter dated 26 July and addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen Samuel Kanyon Doe, General Kollie said his request was in compliance with Gen Doe's order that members of the Interim National Assembly with military ranks who intend to seek political office resign from the army before doing so.

Nigerian paper's call on Doe to resign

The recent order by Head of State, Samuel Doe, for the arrest and detention of all members of the Executive Committee of an opposition party is examined by Punch of Nigeria. The paper says the act has confirmed the fear that the coming general elections will not be free and fair. The Punch therefore calls on Gen Doe to resign honourably before he is shown the way out.

Recognition of the SADR

The Government has decided to accord diplomatic recognition to the SADR Saharan Arab Democratic Republic. Foreign Ministry said in Monrovia that move is in reaffirmation of Liberia’s unflinching support for the sacred right self-determination of all peoples enshrined in both the Charters of I United Nations and the OAU.

It said the decision was taken after several years of careful assessment of the situation in the Western Sahara and the need for positive action to ensure resolution of the matter. Liberia's formal recognition of the SADR was inevitable because at the 19th assembly of Heads State and Governments of the OAU held Addis Ababa in June 1983, the delegation of Liberia joined other delegations evolving an arrangement that ensured that the summit was convened, it said.

The Foreign Ministry also recalled tha similarly in November 1984, Liberia, along with 47 other OAU member states, decided for the first time to permit the SADR to fully participate in the deliberations of the organisation. Liberia hoped that its decision will contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Saharan question which has been a major preoccupation of the OAU for several years.

However, Government has made it clear that its decision to accord full diplomatic recognition to the SADR will in no way affect the cordial relations which it maintains with the Kingdom of Morocco.

Plan for National Radio Service

Head of State Gen. Kanyon Doe, has announced Government's decision to establish a radio service will reach every corner of the country and abroad. Addressing the opening session of the first county convention of the National Democratic Party of Liberia, NDLP, in Voinjama, Dr Doe pointed out that in spite of the great need to keep all Liberians and foreign residents informed of the day to day developments in the nation, Government has realised that most of the people residing outside of the Monrovia area were not benefiting from programmes aired on the national radio.

Gen Doe said in order to alleviate this situation once and for all, employers and government services as well as public corporations and the private sector will contribute 50 per cent of their August salaries towards the project, while citizens and residents in rural areas are to make a contribution of 10 dollars towards the project.

Gen Doe said in view of the importance government attaches to the establishment of this modern national radio broadcasting service, it was very important that those in the rural areas involve themselves in this particular development project that will benefit all.

Students Union wants fair elections

The provisional student leadership committee of the University of Liberia says It is doing everything possible through the university administration to ensure that all Students involved in the 17 July arrest at the Soviet Embassy are formally charged and given a free and fair trial in a court of Competent jurisdiction as soon as prelim- nary investigations are concluded.

In another development, the administration of the University of Liberia (UL) has informed the UL formally that the Government has promised that the 14 students allegedly arrested on 17 July at the Soviet Embassy would be brought to justice through the due process of law.

Speaking at a meeting held in the auditorium of the university attended by students, faculty and the administration staff, the president of the university, Dr Joseph Morris, said that at a meeting he attended with government authorities he was assured that the Government has no intention of closing the university as a result of what transpired at the Soviet Embassy.

Dr Morris also clarified that of the 14 students arrested, two of them, medical students, had earlier been given permission by the university authorities to travel to the Soviet Union. He was surprised to have heard that they had accompanied a group of students to the Embassy at night.

He said one of the spokesmen of Linsu Liberian National Students Union) currently undergoing investigations, informed him that Linsu had also been invited by the Soviet Union to attend a Youth festival in the Soviet Union.


Mr 'NO' is dead

Nii Amaa Amarteifio, Chairman of the Ghana Amateur Boxing Association, has died at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. He was 59.

As the first Vice-President of the Ghana Olympic Committee and the first Secretary General of the Ghana Amateur Boxing Association when it was founded in 1950, the late Nii Amaa made a great name in Ghana's sporting circles when he also led the first National Boxing team to victory in the country's first international contest against Nigeria. The Millington Drake Trophy which Ghana won in that contest was kept for keeps after two successful defences.

In 1960 Nii Amaa Amarteifio became the first African to qualify as an international referee judge and was chosen as referee for the heavyweight final of the Olympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo and 1968 in Mexico. In 1978 he was appointed to the membership of the Technical Committee of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and his last international engagements took him to Cuba and the Los Angeles Olympic Games last year.

Late Nii Amaa Amarteifio

Nii Amaa Amarteifio was not limited to sports. As a resettlement officer of the Volta River Authority, he played a pivotal role in the resettlement of farmers whose farms and homes were inundated by floods from the Akosombo lake.

On the political front, Nii Amaa is remembered not only as the 'Mayor' of Accra during the second republic but also for his immense contribution towards the mobilisation of Ghanaians in frustrating the late Mr Acheampong's plans to turn Ghana into a Union government system (one party state). Nii Amaa's role earned him the enviable accolade of 'Mr NO'.

Cuban doctors

Four doctors and four para-medical personnel are expected from Cuba soon to work with the medical staff in the Northern Region, the Regional Secretary, Mr Huudu Yahaya has announced.

Receiving a three-man delegation on a month's visit to the country, Mr Yahaya said assistance of this nature would help Ghana and Cuba to learn from each other.

He said interaction between the two countries since the December 31 revolution had narrowed the distance between them adding "politically we have the same objectives and share a common view."

Tanoh justifies hospital fees

Mr E.G. Tanoh, Secretary for Health has said that the new hospital fees introduced recently were only a way of stopping further deterioration of the country's health services and providing for the people an improved and acceptable level of health care.

The Secretary said in a nationwide radio and television broadcast that the cost of delivering health services had been rising steeply all over the world and as Ghana was no exception, it was necessary that adequate funds were raised to meet the high cost.

Ghana endorses Iran's struggle

Ghana has endorsed Iran's struggle against US imperialism in the Gulf region. This was stated by a member of the PNDC, Captain Kojo Tsikata when he met the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Hojatolslam Rafsanjani in Tehran. He said Ghana has followed keenly the political and social development in Iran since the Islamic Revolution.

Earlier in a letter submitted to President Khomeini, Capt Tsikata said the Iraq-Iran war had been imposed upon Iran by the foreign enemies of the Islamic Republic.

He said the Government and the people of Ghana maintain that the struggle being waged by the Iranian people and the Islamic Government is similar to the struggle of the African people.

In response, Hojatolslam appreciated the good view of Ghana. He said he considered Nkrumah as a pioneer in the struggles of the African people.. He expressed Iran's willingness to expand trade with Ghana.

100 companies register for fair

More than 100 manufacturing companies have registered and paid deposits at theTrade Fair Secretariat in Accra, for space to participate in the First Ghana Industry and Technology (INDUTECH '86) scheduled for March 1986.

The theme for the fair is "Progress through Industry and Appropriate Technology".

Mr Eddie Imbea-Amoakuh, Secretary to the National Planning Committee of INDUTECH '86 said the fair is aimed at projecting the industrial and technological development of Ghana, especially in the fields of research, application of appropriate technology and technology transfer.

It will also offer opportunities for economic and trade co-operation among developing countries as well as with the developed world.

Flag-raising in schools revived

The Ministry of Education has directed all schools in the country to revive flag-raising and lowering at their morning and evening assembly. The ceremonies are to be marked by the singing of the National Anthem and the recital of the National Pledge in an atmosphere of respect for the nation.

This was announced by Miss Joyce Ayree, Secretary for Education when she formally launched the Curriculum Enrichment Programme at the Teachers Hall in Accra.

According to Miss Ayree this programme was intended to give children the opportunity to appreciate culture and inculcate values in them and to make them proud of their national and cultural heritage.

Funeral for those executed by Rawlings

A long list of murders and political assassinations by the Provisional National Defence Council was unfolded by Dr J.W.S. de Graft Johnson, former Ghanaian Vice-President at a Ghana Democratic Movement-sponsored mourning and purification ceremony in London at the weekend.

Apart from the infamous abduction and murder of three high court judges and an army officer, and numerous executions of those allegedly plotting to overthrow the self-imposed regime, Dr de Graft Johnson read out names of over 400 Ghanaians that have been killed since the usurpation of power on December 31, 1981.

It was to pray for the souls of "our departed brethren and rededicate ourselves for the struggle to overcome" what the chairman, Mr J.H. Mensah called "frankenstein monster which is the PNDC of today" that the GDM organised the purification.

Dr de Graft Johnson who led the mourners in prayer called for forgiveness of sin for all those who "in a variety of ways have contributed to this regime" and thus lent support to this tyranny, whether as students who hailed the regime during its initial stages and cried for more blood, or as soldiers who gave physical support to the coup."

Mr Mensah said "when the blood-letting started in 1979, our vision was a little clouded," allowing Rawlings and his aides to conclude that they could dispose of lives without being called to account.

He was affirmative in his conviction that the abduction and murder of the three judges and an army officer was sanctioned by the June Fourth Movement under the direction of Flt-Lt Rawlings. Amid the rendering of traditional funeral dirges the few women present exhibited their skills in the intricate "Adowa" steps which the predominantly male congregation failed to match.

Air Commodore J.E.S. de Graft Hayford relived his good old days at the organ, while Mr Kusi Appiah, United Kingdom Secretary of GDM, poured libation at this ceremony at which the invited priest turned up towards the end of the function.

New entry permit fees

The government has introduced new fees for entry permits/visas and residence permits.

A statement signed by the Secretary for the Interior, Mr Kofi Djin, said the revised fees are in line with what Ghanaians are being charged elsewhere for similar services.

It said for Commonwealth countries ordinary entry permit is now 650 cedis; transit permit, C500 or its equivalent in convertible currency; extension of visitor's permit, 500 cedis; multiple re-entry permit, C650 multiplied by the number of months granted: residence permit, C1,500 and renewal of residence permit for Commonwealth countries submitted within one month of date of expiration, C1,000.

For other nationals, fees for ordinary visa is C1,000 or 19 dollars, but for Austrians and Egyptians, it is free.

For other nationals, transit visa is £650, extension of visitor's permit C600, multiple re-entry permit C1,000 multiplied by the number of months granted; residence permit C2,000 and renewal of resident permit submitted within one month of date of expiration C1,500. The statement said for all ECOWAS nationals, except Liberia, ordinary visa is free. Liberians will also pay 20 dollars for entry visas which are free for ECOWAS nationals..

Visitor's visa for 90 days extension visa up to 90 days, transit visa and multiple re- entry permit for ECOWAS nationals will be free..

Visitors will, however, pay C1,000 for their residence permit and C1,000 renewal of prohibited area permit, while aliens registrations certificate, sale of quota vetting forms, quota review forms and citizenship by birth (registration) are £500 each.

Naturalization fee is now C1,000 and citizenship renunciation fee is C1,500. The statement warned that all visitors, residents and holders of permits for the prohibited and mining areas who overstay their permits will be made to pay for the permit fee multiplied by each day of the period overstayed.


Drug crisis worsens

An acute shortage of drugs which hit several local government areas in Gongola state in the last two months has spread to government health institutions in the state capital Yola.

Pharmacists in the General Hospital, Yola, have now resorted to marking nearly all prescriptions on patients cards as "OS', that is "Out of Stock".

The Ministry of Health officials are keeping sealed lips over the obvious shortage but they wondered why the reported drugs from the UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have not arrived.

Panel calls for Alhaji Alhaji's dismissal

Two Federal Permanent Secretaries Alhaji Ibrahim (communications) and Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji (National Planning) have been recommended for dismissal from the public service.

A white paper on Awoniyi Commission of Enquiry report which probed contracts awarded in Niger State between 1979 and 1983 also recommended them to be banned from holding any public office in the country for the next 10 years.

Also barred along with them for 10 years were the former ministers in the Ministry of Finance, Professor Sunday Essang and Mr Ademola as well as the Director of Exchange Control of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Scrap death penalty for robbers

A high court judge, Mr Justice David Akenzura of Igara High Court, has advocated an immediate abolition of the death penalty for armed robbers and drug pushers.

Death penalty, he said, had failed as deterrents to incidence of robberies and drug pushers.

In an interview with the National Concord Mr Justice Akenaura said the Government should set up a panel of criminologists to study the problem of people committing such crimes.

Such a panel, he said, should be made up of social scientists, psychiatrists, lawyers and other professionals who understand society.

Students slam government

The 16,000 strong student's union of the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, have condemned the recent action of the Ogun State Government in cancelling free education in the state, and re-introducing school fees from Secondary schools to the University level.

In a release signed by Miss Baminde Bimbo and Baminde Michael Opeyami, president and public relations officer respectively, the University Student's Union described the action of the government as uncalled for and a calculated attempt towards further spreading of illiteracy in the country.

"It is an attempt ridiculously aimed at making education a costly commodity which can only be afforded by the privileged few while the majority of the nation's youths would be denied their inalienable right to education," the students stated.

The students said that it should now be clear to people of conscience that the intention of the government to introduce fees throughout the country as from the next session, saying that Ogun state was merely taking a lead.

The student union said that the action of the Ogun State Government had vindicated its protests over the plan of the government to re-introduce fees in schools.

Akure Airport to be ready soon

The Akure Airport is operational by the end of the year. This hint was dropped by the chairman of the Board to become of Directors of the Nigerian Airports Authority, Alhaji Asad Mohammed, during a farewell courtesy call on the state governor, Commodore Bamidele Otiko in Akure.

According to him "if all things work out according to plan, operation would start at the Akure Airport by next December".

This, he said, was as a result of his board's satisfaction with the extent of work done at the airport, which attracted the board's promise that it would render every assistance

Vessel named after Yar'Adua's wife

A vessel M/V "Binta Yar'Adua", named after the wife of the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters in the Obasanjo regime, Major-General Musa Yar'Adua (rtd), has been launched at Rostok, East Germany.

The ship is owned by African Ocean Lines, a company belonging to Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Major-Gen S.M. Yar'Adua and Alhaji B. Turkur.

Mrs Yar'Adua herself performed the launching of the vessel which is an 18,000 ton container ship with 600 containers and five cranes.

The distinguished personalities at the ceremony included Gen. Yar'Adua, Chief Abiola, Malam Alivu who is the deputy ambassador at the Nigerian Mission in Germany.

Gratuities withheld in Ghana

A report in Sunday Concord said a Nigerian who worked for the Ghana government for 32 years has returned home in penury with his life pension and gratuity stuck in Ghana.

He retired in January 1984 and returned home last November after waiting in vain to see the processing of documents for approval of remittance of his entitlements to Nigeria. He said he left Ghana eventually when he was assured that his entitlements would be paid at the Ghana High Commission, in Lagos before December last year. His bankers, the Ghana Commercial Bank lent weight to the promise by assuring that his gratuity was already in Nigeria while his monthly pension would be remitted and paid as and when due.

Confident of the assurances, Mr Earthaogwa departed Ghana with his wife and 12 children hoping to have his monthly pension of N22.00 (950 cedis) and gratuity of N976.74 (42,000 cedis).

Mr Earthaogwa of Eborn town in Cross River State, with no local currency, was stranded at the Ikeja airport for four days until the Cross River State Liaison Office in Lagos came to his aid with N200 which helped him to take his family to his hometown.

A few days later Mr Earthaogwa rushed back to Lagos hopeful that his entitlements would be waiting for him at the Ghana High Commission. But on getting there he was told that the money had not been remitted as promised.

NUJ plead with Idiagbon

Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has appealed to the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters,

Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, to halt the move by the Nigerian Navy to auction a consignment of newsprint belonging to Concord press of Nigeria.

This was the union's reaction to a news conference in which the Command Infor- mation Officer of the Naval Base, Apapa, Lieutenant Commander J.O. Pearse announced that a Concord Press consignment of 2,000 tonnes of newsprint would be auctioned because its importation was "illegal".

A statement signed by the NUJ Chair- man in Lagos State, Mr Tunde Odesanya, observed that to strictly follow the term "importation", the way the Concord Press handled the transaction was not illegal.

"Concord Press may not have obtained an import licence, but from all indications the newspaper did not approach the transaction with an illegal intention.

Meanwhile, the federal government has said the newsprint was unlawfully smuggled into the country before it was impounded by Customs men.

A cabinet office statement said that as at February last year all goods imported into the country had been placed under import licence adding that nobody gave Concord Press any special permission to make the importation without import licence.

The cabinet office statement also said that an investigation was being conducted into all matters related to the issue.

"Borders will remain closed"

The country's borders are to remain closed until factors which led to their closure last year are eliminated or reduced to manageable levels.

Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, who announced this, said the decision to close the borders was taken to protect the economy and security of the country.

He was speaking at the opening of the regional seminar for Nigerian heads of diplomatic missions at the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos, in Plateau State.

The head of state said before any decision to reopen the borders would be contemplated, the large-scale smuggling of goods, currency trafficking, and other criminal activities being carried out across the borders must be checked. He said such criminal activities, put together, were in no small measure responsible for undermining our economy. General Buhari, however, pointed out that to accelerate the process of reopening the borders, the neighbours should give the federal Government all necessary cooperation.

On the expulsion of illegal aliens, he said although the exercise was a very painful one, the decision was taken within the framework of protocols of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS)

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