Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Let referendum decide - Chief Justice Apaloo

The Chief Justice has stressed the need to use referendum to decide on fundamental issues of the land.

Speaking at the 1984 congress of the Ghana Bar Association, held in Accra, Justice F.K. Apaloo said Ghanaians after so many years of independence must be able and free to participate in the affairs of the nation through the ballot box.

Justice Apaloo said that the use of referendum is a practice which was allowed to determine verdicts on important issues in the past.

Although Kwame Nkrumah could have used his majority in Parliament to turn Ghana into a one party state in 1963, he went to the people through a referendum to implement his goal, Justice Apaloo pointed out.

It is regrettable, therefore, that Ghanaians can no longer, after 25 years later, not voice their opinion through such machinery, added the Chief Justice.

On the existence of tribunals alongside what people term 'traditional courts', Justice Apaloo said citizens of a united country have the right to be tried under the same laws.

A referendum must decide eventually on the duality of courts in the country in consonance with the spirit of participatory democracy, added Justice Apaloo..

Justice Apaloo also said a referendum on what system of law should govern the land will be a fulfilment of what Flt-Lt. Rawlings himself promised in the early days of the revolution that the people of Ghana would decide on the issue.

Constitutional rule

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has reiterated its call for a return to constitutional rule in Ghana and emphasised that the principle of one man one vote must be the operative factor in the politics of Ghana.

The Bar also said that an end must be put to all arbitrary arrests in the country.

Any detention of Ghanaians without trial violates the fundamental human rights of Ghanaians.

These were some of the highlights of resolutions passed by the Bar at their 1984-85 Annual General Meeting held in Accra. In another resolution, the Bar, by a majority vote, decided to continue with their boycott of the Public Tribunals set up by the PNDC

In an apparent reaction to this position, the outgoing President of the Bar, Mr J.K. Agyeman, in a speech at the meeting said that the argument for constitutional rule is not a case for blind copying of foreign political institutions, but their adaptation to suit local conditions.

"What is 'rational' about saying that in other areas we may borrow and adopt suitable ideas, techniques and institutions of foreign origins but that in politics, constitution-making and the process of government we must not and should not do the same?" said Mr Agyeman.

Ala Adjetey is President

Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, an Accra barrister, is the new President of the Ghana Bar Association. Mr Ala Adjetey, a former Member of Parliament in the Third Republic, was elected President in a closely contested polls at the 1984-85 Annual Meeting of the Bar.

A.K. Mmieh, a Kumasi barrister, is the new Vice-President. Mr N. Kuenyehia, an Accra barrister, is the new Secretary of the Bar. Miss Gloria Akuffo and Miss Henrietta Asare-Korang are the Assistant Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

Political education syllabus for Armed Forces soon

The Ghana Armed Forces will soon come out with a comprehensive syllabus on political education for all ranks, the Force Commander, Major-General Arnold Quainoo, has announced. The military, he noted, was going to make use of a wide range of experts in the country to educate its members since they form the vanguard of the revolution.

The Force Commander was opening a durbar of men from the various units of the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, the Air- force and Navy at the Burma Hall in Accra. He noted that he was not going to wait for the completion of the syllabus before the political education starts.

Among the personalities who talked to the soldiers on various political concepts were Ghana's Ambassador to Brazil, Dr Kofi Awoonor, Rev. Father Joop Visser of the Police Council and Mrs Shirley Ababio of the PNDC Secretariat.

Major-General Quainoo, stressed the need for the men in uniform to be well informed since according to him, "a revolution cannot thrive on ignorance".

He said it was important for the soldier to understand concepts like truth, justice, freedom, capitalism and socialism and how they relate to the Ghanaian society.

Speaking on the concept of power, Father Visser defined it as the ability to compel obedience and added that the concept of power as introduced to the Ghanaian soldier had in the past corrupted most of the country's men in uniform.

In a revolutionary era, Father Visser noted, power should be translated to serve the people. He noted that the time when people thought they could come to power by taking over the radio station was over since the various pockets of power spread throughout the country in the form of CDRS cannot be dis- mantled by radio announcements.

Desire for revolution will persist - Awoonor

Ghana's Ambassador to Brazil, Dr Kofi Awoonor, has observed that the people’s desire to have a revolution would persist until such time that "our society becomes just and we share equally the fruits of our collective labour".

Dr Awoonor, who is also a member of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), was speaking at an educational durbar organised for a section of the men of the Ghana Armed Forces in Accra.

He cautioned soldiers who believe they could end the revolutionary consciousness of the people by taking bribes from politicians to seize power to think twice.

Dr Awoonor, who was speaking on "The Concept of the Army and Warfare', said the concept of a standing army was created to protect the wealth of a particular class.

This, however, was masked by the need to defend territorial integrity and liberty but Dr Awoonor asked the soldiers to examine, in any war situation, whose liberty they defend.

He told them that it was not possible to defend properly a power system in which one has no stake.

Court rules Soussoudis can be tried

Mr Michael Agbotui Soussoudis, a Ghanaian cousin of Flt-Lt. Jerry Rawlings, appeared in court on October 15, charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, receiving classified information and conspiracy to receive classified information.

This follows a ruling by a US Federal District Court Judge, Albert Bryan that US espionage law covers acts committed outside American territory and is applicable to non citizens.

The trial of Soussoudis had presented a legal riddle as US Federal Prosecutors and Soussoudis lawyers argued over a motion as to whether or not a foreigner could be tried in American courts for acts that were, for the most part, committed outside the United States.

While the US Justice Department argued for his trial, Soussoudis' lawyers asked that his indictment be dismissed on the grounds that the United States could not prosecute a foreigner for alleged criminal actions not committed under US jurisdiction. Federal prosecutors conceded that all of Soussoudis alleged acts except one occurred in Ghana at the direction of the Ghanaian intelligence service and that the only act in the United States was his trip to a Holiday inn in Northern Virginia to meet with the CIA employee, Sharon Scranage.

The Federal prosecutors, however, argued that Soussoudis visit to Springfield was enough to support the charges and that the defendants' actions compromised the CIA's entire operation in Ghana.

The prosecutors also noted that while Soussoudis held a Ghanaian passport, he also has been a permanent resident alien of the US since 1970 and this means that there is no question about whether the Espionage Act reaches his activity abroad.

The CIA spy scandal in Ghana broke with the arrest in July of Miss Scranage while, Miss Scranage, an employee of the CIA office in Accra who was also described as a girl friend of Soussoudis, has plea bargained and pleaded guilty to all the charges against her and is awaiting sentence. She is expected to act as chief witness against Soussoudis.

Two face charges as CIA agents

Two men have appeared before a public tribunal in Accra on charges of being agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The accused are Felix Peasah, a former employee of the Ghana special branch, now a security investigator with the US Embassy in Ghana, and Theodore Atidu, an inspector in Ghana's national intelligence service.

The accused face charges of conspiracy to commit acts detrimental to the sovereign people of Ghana, corruptly abusing their office for personal gain and for the benefit of a foreign power, thereby endangering the security of the state. Some of the charges, if proved, are punishable by death by firing squad.

Both Peasah and Atiedu pleaded not guilty and the case has been adjourned till October 22.

It is recalled that Peasah was a member of a team that once interrogated Kojo Tsikata, Chief of Security and PNDC member in connection with a coup plot.

Review deportation order

The 31st December Women's Movement has appealed to the PNDC to review, on com- passionate grounds, the recent deportation order served on Mr Hemult Kolakowski, a German national.

In a petition, the Movement said, among other things, that it was certain that the government of the PNDC must have reached that difficult decision after carefully con- sidering all aspects of the charges of racism levelled against Mr Kolakowski.

But the Movement indicated though the deportee has left the country, it appears his departure has brought hardship on his Ghanaian wife and children who have turned out to be victims of circumstances now beyond their control, especially as he used to be the sole bread winner of the family. Mrs Kolakowski and her children have, since the departure of the deportee, made an appeal for a review of the deportation order on humanitarian grounds and "it is in the light of this that the Movement finds it necessary to add its voice for a compassionate review of the case"

The Movement finally called on the Government to temper justice with mercy and reconsider the deportation order on Mr Kolakowski.

Food output - Ghana exceeds target

Dr LK. Adjei-Maafo, Secretary for Agriculture, has announced that the country exceeded all but one of the 1985 national targets set for agricultural crops.

He described the general food output this year as exceptionally encouraging compared to what was regarded as a bumper harvest last year.

Dr Adjei-Maafo who announced this at a farmers' rally at Abofour in Ashanti gave statistics to support his claim and attributed the breakthrough to good rains, efficient and effective implementation of the government's agricultural programme and the fortitude and co-operation of farmers.

According to the Agriculture Secretary, cassava production this year exceeded last year's by 300,000 metric tonnes; yams by 50,000 metric tonnes; both plantain and cocoyam production shot up by 50 per cent while rice output rose from 60,000 to 95,000 metric tonnes.

He said groundnuts, millet, beans and other crops recorded remarkable increases. However, there is an anticipated marginal drop in maize production following a decrease in the number of hectares cultivated this year as against last year.

In the area of industrial crops, Dr Adjei- Maafo said from a position of an importer in respect of oil palm in the 1970's, Ghana's production had steadily risen from 13,000 metric tonnes in 1982 to 42,000 metric tonnes as at last month. He explained that with the country's annual requirement of 39,000 metric tonnes and prospects of even increasing output in the succeeding years, indications were that Ghana would export oil palm as from next year in addition to maize and yam.

Thirteen die in Mamprusi- Kusasi clashes

Bloody clashes between the Mamprusis and Kusasis which erupted at Bawku, resulting in the death of several people, and many others seriously injured, have reportedly ended.

Many houses, including the palace of the Bawku-Naba, Sigri Nichiama II, were burnt down during the clashes.

The death toll officially stands at 13 while 167 persons have been arrested in connection with the clashes. But the death toll could be more since most of the people engaged in the fighting were operating from millet farms and might have died there.

An official statement issued by the Upper East Regional Administration on the situation at Bolgatanga said, the subsiding of the clashes had been due to efforts of the Mobile Force. from Accra and the constant visit to the area by the Regional Secretary, Mr J.E. Sekyi

Chiefs want report published

The chiefs and people of Bibiani in the Sefwi Bekwai Traditional Area have expressed concern over the delay in releasing the report affairs of Bibiani Industrial Complex (BIC). of the three-man committee which probed the The committee, chaired by Mr H.RA Okoe, was appointed by the PNDC in September 1984 following allegations of mal- administration and corruption against some senior officers and workers of BIC.

At a meeting held at Bibiani the people in the area said the delay had affected production targets since most of the senior men in acting positions were using their posts to victimize workers.

Moreover, almost all the senior officers who appeared at the probe were asked to go on indefinite leave as a result of their involvement in certain deals, continue to draw their salaries and entitlements while the factory was faced with financial problems.

New wine, new bottles

Flt-Lt. J.J. Rawlings has reiterated that the 31st December Revolution was not intended to put new wine into old bottles.. On the contrary, it remains the unshakable determination of the revolutionary leadership to put new wine into new bottles.

The Chairman of the PNDC who was opening the first of a series of seminars for Secretaries of State and some heads of public boards and corporations at the Military Academy and Training School at Teshie, said that his position is clearly reflected in the 1982 Guidelines which state that "any transformation in order to be truly revolutionary must aim at a complete and radical change of both the existing social, political and economic structure and the human elements within the government machinery."

He said that the urgent task facing the government and the various organs of the revolution makes it imperative that workable procedures, unhampered by bureaucratic delays, should be devised for the prompt implementation of government policies at all levels.

The Chairman of the Revolution further said that the cardinal objective of the total economic and social transformation of the Ghanaian society calls for informed, dedicated and disciplined leadership adding that the leadership must correct its own lapses before it has the moral authority to correct the lapses of others.

Colonel Asase returns from Moscow

The political counsellor for the economic development of CDRS (Committee for the Defence of the Revolution), Lt-Col. J.Y. Asase, has returned home after a five-week visit to the Soviet Union. Speaking on arrival, Colonel Asase said while there he studied issues which are related to the establishment and organisational work of CDRs.

According to Colonel Asase, he also held talks with Soviet party officials and trade union organisations on the effect role they play in government. Colonel Asase stressed that there is a lot Ghana can learn from the Soviet system on organisation and mobilisation of the people for national activities.


Geldof visits famine areas

President Captain Thomas Sankara has denied Amnesty International reports that his military regime has used torture against his political opponents.

In a heated exchange with Mr Bob Geldof, the Live Aid initiator who is touring African famine areas, President Sankara said the Amnesty report was based on the false testimony of a single French journalist and that the Organisation had subsequently written to apologise.

Mr Geldof said he would check on this when he got back to London. Captain Sankara, however, conceded that he had executed people who plotted a coup against him. He said he does not use torture and that such stories are put about by his enemies because he is a man of the people.

Mr Geldof who is on tour in his capacity as the controller of a £48 million purse raised from Live Aid concerts also met with President Seyni Kountche in Niger where he was told that the border with Nigeria would soon be opened to give a boost to the economy of Niger which had been severely affected by famine.

Speaking at a press conference to thank Bob Geldof for his visit to the country, General Kountche said that the new regime in Nigeria had recently sent a goodwill mission to Niamey to discuss the reopening of the border which was closed by Nigeria last year to prevent smuggling of currencies.

An open frontier would allow Niger to export labour and would revitalize the trade in livestock which was once a significant currency earner for Niger.

Thanking the Live Aid team for its proposed donation of $1.6 million (£1.1 million) to Niger, General Kountche said that the Sahelian nations were among the poorest in the world, were largely landlocked, had few natural resources, and most of them had not yet re- covered from the process of colonization.

Romanian cooperation

The Burkina Faso-Romania Joint Commission has ended its first session in Ouagadougou with the signing of several agreements by the Burkina Faso Minister of Territorial Administration and Security, Ernest Nongma Ouedraogo, and the Romanian Deputy Minister of Mines, Gheorghe Codreanu.

Romania wished to participate in among other projects, the Sahel railway, the Tambao mining project, the Ouagadougou clinker mill, and the completion of the first 500 km of the Sourou project.

Suggestions were also made for the revival of the 1979 trade agreement and the organisation of commercial missions.


Babangida's address to officers

President Ibrahim Babangida has explained that some military officers were not given political appointments because the Federal Military Government did not want to deplete the resources of the armed forces. The President and Commander-in-Chief, who was addressing officers of the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu, said the present Administration had confidence in the capability of all officers of the armed forces. He, however, advised those who had grudges against the system or any other genuine suggestions to send them to the Government through appropriate channels. General Babangida said that military men, irrespective of their deployments, could contribute to the success of the present Administration by promoting its policies and objectives.

Report on negotiations with IMF

The presidential committee on the IMF loan has published details of the negotiations so far between the Federal Government and the International Monetary Fund.

The committee explained that its aim in issuing the account is to enlighten the general public on the background story on the issues at stake in the ongoing debate on the IMF loan. The negotiations have centered on the IMF conditionalists, that is measures which Nigeria should agree to take in order to obtain the loan. But before then, the Nigerian Govern- ment had, on its own, introduced a number of austerity measures to contain the deterioriating economic situation in the country.

Consequently, there were no difficulties between the two negotiating teams in reaching agreement on a number of measures which include the following: Reduction in the aggregate public expenditure, particularly in the size of the budget deficit; introduction of greater budgetary discipline; review of on- going projects with a view to determining their priority; reduction of incomes, subventions and loans to parastatals; classification of para- statals into social and economic activities for purposes of restructuring them to achieve cost effectiveness, accountability, and profitability. Others are: stoppage of non-statutory transfer to state government; simplification and rationalisation of customs tariffs; upward review of interest rates and reduction in the sector allocation of credits; vigorous export drive to broaden the export base; review of in- dustrial incentives and policies; adjustment of producer prices of agricultural commodities; strict external debt control and management, and improvement in the operational efficiency in revenue collection agencies such as the department of customs and excise, and inland revenue.

The agreements reached between Nigeria and the IMF on these measures were, however, in principle only. The details of these measures could not be worked out as negotiation could not advance to the stage establishing perform- ance criteria. All the same, the Nigerian Government has gone ahead and implemented most of these measures in the overall interest of the economy.

(1) Trade liberalisation: The IMF officials had insisted that Nigeria should liberalise her trade policy by abolishing the absolute prohibition of certain goods, removal of prohibiting restrictions on-import, and reduction in the number of goods under specific import licence requirement.

(2) Removal of petroleum subsidies: The IMF officials recommended the removal of the subsidies on petroleum products in Nigeria, the objective, according to the fund staff, was to curtail waste in the domestic consumption of petroleum product as well as to increase export of either crude or refined petroleum products and generate income.

(3) Adjustment of the rate of exchange of the naira. The IMF considered that the Naira was overvalued by about 50% as at May 1984 and recommended a 25 to 30% initial devaluation so as to bring the Naira to parity with the US dollar. This would be followed by total review and possible further devaluation depending on the performance of the economy after the adoption of the programme until the element of overvaluation was eliminated.

The IMF staff urged that devaluation would increase the naira content of all export earn- ings; encourage domestic production for export, especially agricultural products; discourage importation; encourage research into local substitutes for imported goods including raw materials; stimulate more judicious allocations of resources in the economy; and remove the heavy subsidies on import which benefit largely the importers. The negotiations started in 1983.

Press criticism of Finance Minister

The Nigerian Chronicle has criticised a statement credited to the Minister of Finance in a BBC programme concerning the current debate on the IMF loan. According to the paper, the Minister was quoted as saying that most Nigerians were not well educated on the economic issues involved in the IMF loan, and that if they were, there would not be much opposition to Nigeria taking the loan.

The Chronicle contends that the Minister's speech can either mean that the Federal Government has taken a decision on the IMF loan for which it does not want to accept responsibility, or that Nigerians, currently engaged in the debate, are just being given a chance to air their views. As the paper puts it, it is unfair either way.

And in a similar editorial, The Punch calls for the redeployment of the Minister of Finance, Dr Kalu I. Kalu, because according to it, he has already taken a position on the IMF loan. It says in the alternative, the ultimate decision to negotiate the loan should be removed from the Ministry of Finance to the Presidential commission on IMF loan. The paper accused the Minister of what it calls overt partisanship in favour of the IMF and that the Minister should have remained neutral in the debate, since his office has the final say in the matter.

It points out that there is the danger that the Minister's view can be taken as official position. The paper alleges that most of those that have come out in favour of the loan are the agents of multinational corporations whose security interests are closely tied to the IMF. The Punch therefore advised that the current debate should not be entrusted to a few indivi- duals who will not bear in concrete terms the burden of wrong policy decisions.

Learn from Ghana's lessons

A Lagos radio home service commentary has said that the stand of the IMF is that the naira is overvalued. It therefore recommends that it should be devalued by 25 to 30 per cent in the first instance.

Opponents of IMF devaluation prescription for Nigeria, however, point to the bitter experiences of Brazil, Mexico, Ghana and a host of others. In effect, it is argued that a devaluation of the naira will not only generate galloping inflation domestically, but will exacerbate the country's balance of payment problems, and thus worsen the plight of the economy.

"Really, therefore, if Nigeria must take the IMF loan to revamp the economy, devaluation must not be a precondition," the commentary concluded.

Sixty Libyans stranded in Lagos

Sixty Libyans stranded at Murtala Muhammed international airport for over 10 days, have been evacuated to their country's Embassy in Lagos.

The Libyans were alleged to have arrived from the Republics of Niger and Chad. According to diplomatic sources close to the Libyan embassy, the Libyans were not able to travel to their country through Nigeria because of the border closure between the two countries. Reports have said that the Libyans have found it difficult to obtain air tickets due to the foreign exchange problems.

The Federal Government regulation requires foreigners wishing to travel outside Nigeria to obtain their air tickets only in foreign currency. However a Libyan Embassy spokesman said that the Embassy obtained air tickets for refugees over 10 days ago and that the problem had been with the Moroccan airlines which has not been able to contain them in the aircraft.

Moroccan and Aeroflot airlines are the only airlines operating direct flights from Lagos to Tripoli

Appeal fund is better

Chief Michael Omolayole, chairman of an appeal fund for Nigerian universities has suggested the establishment of a National Appeal Fund as an alternative to the IMF loan. He said the example set by a businessman, Chief Orji Kalu, who offered to lend Nigeria 800,000 US dollars as well as mount a national campaign to convince other businessmen to do the same, was quite commendable.

Dr Omolayale, who was speaking to the National Concord said everybody should appreciate Chief Kalu's noble gesture, so that other patriotic Nigerians would donate or lend to the government, any reasonable amount towards revitalisation of the nation's economy. The chief therefore, said that other Nigerian millionaires should borrow a leaf from Chief Kalu, to bail the country out of its present economic predicament. Dr Omalayole, who said Federal Government should accept Chief Kalu's offer without hesitation, also wanted the government to give him the mandate to mount a National Appeal Fund. He went further to spell out the modalities to be used in constituting the committee to carry out the campaign.

Ojukwu loses case

Ikemba of Nnewi Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu has lost a legal tussle he initiated against the Lagos State Government over a property.

The Lagos High Court, in a ruling, pronounced that Chief Ojukwu could not hold on to a building at 29, Queens Drive, Ikoyi. Mr Justice Omotosho explained that no injunctions could be granted in support of a legal right when a substantial issue to be tried was Information Minister Landing Jallow Sonko, has told the press that a Gambian television network, a daily newspaper and a news agency would soon be in operation.

involved. Discharging the earlier orders, the judge held that Chief Ojukwu misled the court into believing that he inherited the house from his late father.

Other reasons the judge gave for the discharge of the court's earlier orders were that the applicant forced himself in 29, Queens Drive, Ikoyi, which had earlier been declared an abandoned property under Section 5 of the 1969 Lagos State abandoned property edict.

According to the court, it was a fact that the sum of N89,000 purportedly paid by Chief Ojukwu to the Lagos State Government was to sublet the house and not to the Lagos State Government for maintenance. expenses incurred on


Another term for Houphouet-Boigny

Following a request at the eighth congress of the PDCI-RDA (Democratic party of the Ivory Coast-African Democratic Rally) in Abidjan, Head of State, President Houphouet-Boigny, has agreed to run for another term of office and the elections would be held on October 27. Legislative elections would be held on November 10 and the number of deputies to be elected has been increased from 147 to 175. Earlier the National Assembly adopted a BIll following proposals by the congress asking the President to renounce the idea of choosing a vice-president and that "in the event of a vacancy in the Presidency the Speaker of the National Assembly would act as interim president and organise within 45 to 60 days, presidential elections".

Calls for national unity

President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast has urged the 60 ethnic groups in the country to sink their differences, saying that national unity was a condition for full sovereignty.

President Houphouet-Boigny, 80, made the appeal during the eighth congress of the ruling Democratic Party.

The Ivorian leader reviewed the progress made by the country since independence from France in 1960, saying that in less than two decades, the country had become a global force to be reckoned with in terms of agricultural produce.

Ivory Coast produces 552,000 tonnes of cocoa per annum, making it the world's largest exporter of the commodity. The country is also the third largest exporter of coffee, 300,000 tonnes of which are produced annually.


Establishment of TV network

Mr Sonko, who did not specify the date when the television would go into opera- tion, also said it wold be installed by a Japanese firm, which he did not mention, but he said they would operate this information service for two years. In conclusion, Mr Sonko announced that a Gambian news agency would also be established shortly to be financed also by UNESCO.


Financial aid from Japan

Two financial agreements have been signed between the Malian and Japanese Governments. The first agreement, which involves 700m CFA francs, will help to buy and transport 2,800 tons of rice, while the second one, which involves 600m CFA francs, will help to increase food production through the purchase of and transport of fertilisers, pesticides and agricultural machinery. The documents were signed for Mali by Modibo Keita, the Minister of Employment and for Japan by the Japanese charge d'affaires in Mali.

talking drums 1985-10-21 Azumah The two minute wonder