Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


AFRC decision to review Shagari's case

The Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) has announced plans to set up a committee to review the case of deposed President Shehu Shagari, held under house arrest since his overthrow in 1983. According to a report by Accra radio on October 31, the committee will also review the cases of others detained by General Buhari's regime, overthrown in August 1985, including the former Vice- President, Dr Alex Ekwueme.

• President Shagari

Five new decrees get AFRC approval

The AFRC has approved the promulgation of five decrees. Among these is the Foreign Currency Domiciliary Accounts Decree which authorises persons resident in Nigeria, as well as corporate bodies, to import foreign currencies and deposit such money in a designated local bank account. The decree, which took effect from the first of this month, names foreign currencies in which an account may be opened and operated as the US dollar, the pound sterling, the French franc, the Deutsche mark, the Swiss franc and any other currencies as may be approved by the AFRC.

Another decree repeals the Public Officers' Protection against False Accusation Decree of 1984, popularly known as Decree 4. This gives legal backing to the announcement of the abrogation of Decree 4 made by President Babangida on his first day in office.

The third decree approved by the AFRC amends the Constitution Suspension and Modification Decree of 1984 to reflect the changes arising from the change of government in August. These changes concern the composition of the principal organs of government. The decree also amends the 1979 constitution to further modify certain un-suspended provisions.

The fourth decree revokes the Public Order Amendment Act of 1981 thereby restoring its original provisions.

The fifth decree amends the National Youth Service Corps Act to exempt persons who are over 30 years old or who have been conferred with national honours from the service. Also exempted are persons who have served in the armed forces of Nigeria or the police for more than nine months.

The AFRC also approved the setting up of two judicial panels on special military tribunals. One of the panels will review the cases of persons convicted under Decrees Nos 7, 20 and 22; while the other will examine cases of persons convicted under Decree No 3. The two panels are to submit the first batch of their recommendations within three months from the dates of their first public sitting.

Soldiers reduce their salaries

Members of the armed forces and the police have decided to contribute certain percentages of their salaries as part of the economic recovery measures. According to a communique issued on the meeting of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) held on October 31, army officers at the ranks of brigadier and above and their equivalents in others services, will contribute 20 per cent of their salaries while lieutenant-colonels and colonels will give 15 per cent.

Captains and majors will contribute 10 per cent; second lieutenants and lieutenants, seven per cent; sergeants and warrant officers, five per cent, while corporals and those below will contribute two and a half per cent. The salary cuts will take effect from the first of next month.

The communique stated that these contributions are a prelude to the economic emergency measures to be announced soon by the government.

Pay cuts for civil servants and university staff

The Federal Government has effected cuts from the salaries of all categories of officers in the public service. A Cabinet Office statement in Lagos says the reduction took effect from November 4, and will last till the end of December next year. According to the statement, the reduction is being effected as a contribution of the public service to the economic recovery measure of the Federal Government.

A 15 per cent reduction is being effected on salaries of persons earning 15,500 naira and above; grade level 17, 12 per cent; grade levels 15 to 16, 10 per cent; grade levels 12 to 14, 7 per cent; grade levels 7 to 11, 4 per cent; and grade levels 1 to 6, 2 per cent. From the university system cuts have been effected as follows: Salaries above 15,500 naira, 15 percent; USS (university salary scale) 14 to 15, 12 per cent, USS 13, 10 per cent; USS 10 to 12, 7 per cent; USS 6 to 9, 4 per cent; and USS 1 to 5, 2 per cent.

Concern at possible influx of aliens

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Lt-Col. John Shagaya, has said that a misinterpretation of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement would lead to an influx of nationals of neigh- bouring countries into Nigeria. Lt-Col. Shagaya said that at the moment there was evidence that the implementation of the ECOWAS protocol had been interpreted to mean an unrestricted entry into Nigeria.

In a message he sent to the eighth annual national conference of senior immigration officers which opened in Kaduna, the Minister pointed out that the second phase of the protocol, which would come into effect by the middle of next year, enjoined intending immigrants to obtain necessary permits. Lt-Col. Shagaya therefore charged the officers to be alert because thousands of aliens would want to enter into the country immediately the protocol comes into effect. He pledged the preparedness of the Federal Government to supply the necessary equip- ment to enable them to face the challenges ahead.

Commonwealth Contact Group

Nigeria will not serve on the Commonwealth Contact Group on South Africa which was set up at the recent conference of the organisation in Nassau. Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, the Minister of External Affairs, told a news conference in Lagos that Nigeria's decision was based on the fact that the minority regime in South Africa had "never been known to respect any view different from its own". He added that "kid-gloved treatment was totally at variance with the growing world campaign against the Pretoria regime".

Doubts about British sanctions

The Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, "has said that it is unlikely that Britain, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, would take any serious steps to impose sanctions against South Africa". He said that she had adopted certain positions at the Commonwealth summit because it was difficult at such a forum for a single nation to stand out against others.

French Foreign Minister's visit

President Ibrahim Babangida has expressed Nigeria's commitment to the strengthening of economic relations with France. He told the French Minister of External Relations, Mr Roland Dumas, who brought a message from President Francois Mitterrand in Lagos, that Nigeria expected the continued support of France in areas where both countries held identical views.

Mr Dumas said his country wanted a review of the 1979 economic, scientific and technological co-operation agreement with Nigeria, to expand relations in those fields. Earlier the Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, had asked France to assist in the nation's process of develop- ment. Mr Dumas told newsmen later that France was prepared to stand by Nigeria in her present difficulty, pointing out that the poor economic situation was not peculiar to Nigeria.

Mr Dumas is the second high-ranking French official to visit Nigeria in two weeks. President Mitterand's adviser on African Affairs, Mr Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, was in the country two weeks ago with a special message.


Opening in Dakar of stadium

President Abdou Diouf and the visiting Chinese Vice-Chairman, Liao Hansheng, have attended the inaugural ceremony of the "friendship stadium" built with assistance from China. The "friendship stadium" is a modern complex with 60,000 seats. The con- struction of the stadium began in 1983.

Grain and groundnut harvest

The return of the rains to the Sahel and the exceptional results of the 1985-86 agricultural season should bring a relief to the economy. A good rainy season, after 10 years of drought, has made possible this year of nearly 1 million tonnes of millet, a record harvest of grains and sorghum, according to sources, as compared to the yearly average of authoritative 500,000 tonnes for the pasts 25 years.

The year has been a good one for corn too, and it should yield 140.000 tonnes this year, compared to 98,000 tonnes last year. The niebe, a type of bean, has made a spectacular breakthrough in the whole northern half of Senegal where it has dethroned peanuts, which are now limited to the less arid southern regions. The seeds introduced this year - Variety CB5 originating from California, should yield 57.000 tonnes. What remains is to find export openings for this new produce which is often rejected by the Senegalese consumer, despite its nutritional value.

As for peanut, which remains one of the mainstays of the Senegalese economy despite the slowdown, the Government expects an average production, but emphasise that output has improved. The expected yield is 560,000 tonnes, from which should be subtracted the losses, the seeds kept by the farmers, the drain to the clandestine markets and the peanuts required for reconstituting the seed bank.


Discovery of new oil deposits

The daily newspaper L'Union has reported an announcement by the Minister of Mines and Petroleum that two oil wells have been dis- covered in Gabon. Following prospecting at the first well, an offshore well off the coast of Port Gentil, a series of oil deposits have been found at a depth of 2,367 and 2,206m. Test production yielded about 300 cu.m. of anhydrous oil a day. Elf (Gabon) is carrying out this prospecting in association with hispanoil (25%) and SNEA (20%).

A second well, discovered on land near Sette-Gama, about 150km south of Port Gentil, produced 450 cu.m. a day from a 1,400m deep bed of oil-rich sand during tests. Shell (Gabon) is operating this well in association with Elf (Gabon) (30%), and SNEA (20%). In both cases evaluation wells will be needed to evaluate the size of the discoveries and to confirm the commercial value of the production.

In 1984, Gabon produced 8.8 million tonnes of oil. The production in 1985 is expected to be at the same level. It is said in oil circles that "with the current level of discoveries, this level of production could be maintained for at least four to five years, thus postponing the after-oil era which pessimists have been pre- dicting for a long time now".


Minister's West Africa visits

Capt. Facine Toure, member of the Military Committee for National Redress and Minister of State in charge of foreign affairs and inter- national cooperation and special envoy of President Lasana Conte, has been received in Accra and Lome by Jerry Rawlings and Gnassingbe Eyadema, respectively, to whom he delivered the Head of State's personal message.

The discussions between Capt. Facine Toure and the Ghanaian and Togolese Heads of State took place in an atmosphere of understanding and cordiality.

In Accra and Lome, Capt. Facine Toure met and held discussions with the Guinean community residing in these countries. He used the occasion to inform them fully about the Government's programme for national redress, on the atmosphere of peace and social tranquility existing in Guinea and also on the proper comportment of Guinean residents in Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast, which should help strengthen the understanding, friendship and fraternity between his country and countries of the West African subregion.


More workers expelled from Libya

Another batch of workers, who were expelled from Libya, has arrived in the country. Of the 357, 200 are men and 157 women. They were met on arrival at Bilma where they are presently staying. Civilian and military authorities of the Agades region have taken all necessary measures to transport the expellees to Agades because of the fall in temperature in the Bilma area.

This new batch brings the number of returnees to 4,799. It is recalled that recently Libya announced that it was expelling foreign workers.

Niger-USSR cultural co-operation

A cultural protocol agreement for the year 1985/86 has been signed between the USSR and the Republic of Niger at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation by HE Vladimir Kudashkin, USSR Ambassador to Niger, and Karim Ayio, Secretary General of Niger's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co- operation.

The protocol provides for the award of scholarships, exchange of artistic troupes, Soviet films, and radio and television programmes, with the aim of developing cultural exchanges and also strengthening the friendly relations between the peoples of Niger and the Soviet Union.


French public aid

French bilateral public aid to Ivory Coast in 1984 amounted 45.9bn CFA francs, to compared to 57.5bn CFA francs for the preceding year. Ivory Coast also received French aid through participation in several multilateral aid organisations and through active French technical assistance personnel in Ivory Coast, as against 3,231 in 1983.

Message from Sankara

Mr Henri Zongo, the Burkinabe Minister of Economic Promotion, has been received by Ivory's Coast's Head of State to whom he delivered a message of fraternity and peace from President Thomas Sankara. President Sankara's envoy, who did not give details about the contents of the message, said that he came to reaffirm the fraternity that links his country to the Ivory Coast.


Timber men call for a probe

The Ghana Timber Association (GTA) has called for a thorough investigation into the declining returns in revenue in spite of the ever-increasing volumes of timber exports.

The GTA said it was concerned about the statement made by Mr Ato Ahwoi, Secretary- in-Charge of the National Revenue Secretariat to the effect that the volume of export of timber and timber products for the period between January and June this year alone was equal to that of the whole of 1984 but the revenue showed a sharp disparity compared with that of 1985 falling to almost half the revenue for the same quantity in 1984.

According to the GTA at this time when huge amounts of hard currency was being pumped into the timber industry to make it viable, efforts should be made to ensure maximum returns from timber export, devoid of malpractices.

Speaking at a press briefing in Kumasi in reaction to Mr Ahwoi's statement, Nana Yaw Owusu, national president of GTA, attributed the present state of affairs to lack of co- ordination and the absence of efficient monitoring systems in respect of timber processing and exports.

Monitor sale of timber

The GTA has urged the utilisation section of the Forestry Department that keeps records of timber felled to extend its activities to cover the monitoring of processing and sale of timber.

GTA National President Nana Owusu contended that an effective monitoring system would reduce the present spate of smuggling and other malpractices in the timber trade and stressed the need for all agencies connected with the industry, particularly the Ghana Timber Marketing Board, to assist in its speedy resuscitation as envisaged under the Economic Recovery Programme.

Nana Owusu gave figures to support his claims and said the current fall in the international prices of logs and wood products is only five per cent and the fluctuation of exchange rates of importing countries which are just marginal could not be said to have affected the earnings drastically as is the case now.

The GTA stated that in January 1979, average yearly earnings from the timber export sector was US$76 million. However, there has been a steady fall from US$50.9 million in 1979 to the extent that last year's timber exports fetched the nation only US$22 million.

Free Press editor redeployed

The editor of the Free Press, Mr Kabral Blay- Amihere has been reported in the Ghanaian media to have been transferred to the Ministry of Information for redeployment from November 1.

Mr Blay-Amihere used to be the Acting Director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) under the Ministry of Information and the government statement on his transfer stated that he had been on study leave.

The fact of the matter, however, is that Mr Blay-Amihere took leave of absence without pay in November 1984 from the service of the Ministry of Information after the Government had failed to re-instate him as the Acting Director of GIJ on his return from one year study tour in France. Mr Blay-Amihere has since edited the Free Press while Mr Kojo Yankah, the former editor of the People's Daily Graphic who was appointed in his place has recently been confirmed as Director of the Institute.

Even though Mr Amihere has revealed that he himself heard of his redeployment only on the radio during the 10.45 late news bulletin, this latest development emphasises the uncertain lives of Ghanaian journalists and newspapers which project independent ideas.

It is recalled that Mr Blay Amihere succeeded as editor of the Free Press the late John Kugblenu who together with Mike Adjei, a columnist and Tommy Thompson, publisher, were arrested by Flt-Lt. Rawlings' regime on unspecified charges.

The three were released after nearly a year's detention in military custody and John Kugblenu soon died. Production of the paper was also suspended. Mr Tommy Thompson, the publisher who suffered a mild stroke in the first detention was again, on July 12, 1985, arrested together with two lawyers, Obeng Manu and Sam Okudzeto, a journalist Johnny Botsio and several others who are still in detention.

Protest over Colonel Ewa

The African Youth Command has expressed grave concern over the appointment of Colonel. Ewa (rtd) as PNDC Secretary, Special Duties and also responsible for the Ministry of Interior.

The AYC said that several complaints, protests and calls reaching their secretariat indicated that Colonel Ewa is a Nigerian by birth. "Both his mother and father are typical Nigerians who still live in Nigeria," added the statement.

The AYC said it "does not doubt the integrity and apparent sincerity of Colonel Ewa to our cause for national reconstruction" but felt the sensitive office of Interior should be held by a Ghanaian. Whilst standing firm to its commitment to African Unity and Freedom, the AYC "feel the appointment of Colonel Ewa is rather too expensive to the national interest and needs an immediate review".

Capt. (rtd) Kojo Tsikata

Delegation to Nigeria returns

A four-member Government delegation to Nigeria has returned to Accra. A member of the PNDC (Provisional National Defence Council), Capt. Kojo Tsikata, who led the delegation, told newsmen that the mission delivered a special message from the Chairman of the PNDC to the Nigerian President.

He said both countries expressed their determination to strengthen relations between them. They have agreed to a meeting of their joint permanent commission for co-operation in Accra next January. The joint commission, the PNDC member emphasised, will review economic, scientific, as well as cultural links between the two countries. Capt. Tsikata dis- closed that another ministerial meeting of Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo would be held in Lagos between the 13th and 14th of next month. The meeting is in accordance with an agreement signed by the heads of state in the Nigerian capital in December last year.

Co-operation with Romania

The fourth session of the Ghana-Romania joint consultative commission technical and economic co-operation has ended for scientific, in Accra. Addressing the closing session, the Secretary for Industry, Science and Technology, Dr Francis announced that Ghana and Romania have Acquah, agreed to form a joint agricultural company to cultivate traditional crops in Ghana. He said Romania will provide the machinery and equipment, and also the management team.

Dr Acquah said under the trade exchange, Ghana will import from Romania some 140 tractors, spare parts and other equipment worth 1.5m dollars by the end of this year. Mobile workshops will be established for the repair of tractors, and regional centres built for the training of technicians.

The Secretary announced that Romania has already agreed to fund a plant for bitumen, an extension of the Tema refinery, and a lubricating oil complex with the capacity for producing 24,000 tonnes per year.

The Romanian Vice Prime Minister and leader of his country's delegation, Mr Ion Nicolae, said the meeting has strengthened the co-operation between the two countries in their economic development. He hoped both countries would fulfil their parts of the agreement.

197 houses burnt during clashes

It has been officially reported that 197 houses were burnt down during the recent clashes between the Mamprusis and Kussasis at Bawku.

This has therefore rendered a large number of people homeless. The death toll also stands officially at 16 while 167 persons have been arrested in connection with the case. According to Mr Sumaiya Adekuru, Chief Superintendent of Police, the Police are presently looking for 16 ring leaders of both factions.

The 16 persons have accordingly been asked to either report themselves to the Bawku Police or the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Regional Police Headquarters at Bolgatanga.

No salary increases for customs staff

Workers of the Customs and Excise Department would neither receive end of year bonuses nor salary increases if the department fails to collect an amount of C26.9 billion targeted as customs and excise duties for this year.

As at the end of last month, the department had collected only C15 billion. Mr Ato Ahwoi, Secretary to the National Revenue Secretariat (NRS) who said this at a meeting with the department's CDR and Staff Association in Accra has therefore advised customs and excise officials to work out a scheme that would enable them to collect the difference of C11 billion before the end of the year.


General Doe calls for co- operation

The President-elect General Samuel Kanyon Doe, has called on the opposition parties to close ranks with the NDPL (National Democratic Party of Liberia) in building a better Liberia. Speaking at the Executive Mansion where hundreds of NDPL supporters converged in a solidarity march, the Head of State said the NDPL was willing to work with all the opposition parties.

General Doe appealed to the opposition parties, which have rejected the election results, to please keep their seats in the House and the Senate for the good of the country. The President-elect again called on Liberians generally to serve as key factors in promoting development, peace and unity in the Liberian society. He was speaking on 1st November at the executive mansion when the Interim National Assembly formally informed him of his election as the first President of the Second Republic.

Touching on leadership during the Second Republic, General Doe said his administration would be committed to forming a government of national unity in which the talents and use- here. fulness of all patriotic Liberians will be utilised for Liberia's development. General Doe expressed thanks to the international community for the contribution and support it had made towards the process of returning the country from military to civilian rule.

Elections commissioner will not run away

Results of the presidential election were: Samuel K. Doe, (National Democratic Party of Liberia) won in 10 of the 13 counties; Jackson Doe (Liberian Action Party) won in Nimba; Edward Kesselly (Unity Party) in Grand Cape Mount; and Gabriel Kpoleh (Liberation Unification Party) won in Margibi.

The total results were: For Samuel K. Doe, 264,362; the Liberian Action Party, Jackson K. Doe won 137,270 votes; Mr Gabriel Kpoleh was the third runner-up with 59,965 and was UP's Kesselly with 57,443. There was a total of 519,040 votes accepted for the general elections.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Special Elections Commission, Emmett Harmon, has announced that he will be travelling out of the country but said he had not made any decision as to what he is going to do. Speaking to reporters at the Unity Conference Centre, Ambassador Harmon said it was his right if he wanted to go out of the country, adding, he needed a vacation.

He disclosed that he had received a letter from his doctor saying that it was absolutely imperative that he goes for an examination, but he has not made up his mind. The Secom chairman said he did not want anybody to think that he was running away from his country. He said he had done an honest job before God, and no one was going to drive him out of his country, noting that this was his country, he was born here and he would die

Responding to questions about the dissatis- faction expressed by some parties about the results, Mr Harmon said that was their business; if they wanted to file a protest, he said, they could go ahead and do what they wanted to do. He said Secom, based on its honest conviction after reviewing the reports of the respective teams, was of the opinion that what it reported was legal, and binding and it would stand behind it 100 per cent.

Action Party will not take up seats

The Liberian Action Party, LAP, has announced that it will not take the seats it did win during the just-ended elections. In an interview with the BBC Focus on Africa programme, the presidential candidate of the Action party, Mr Jackson F. Doe, said they have challenged the results, and meant that they would not accept or occupy the seats alloted to them by Secom.

Giving reasons for LAP's reaction, Mr Doe said they know that they won more seats in the legislature than the ones allotted to them by Secom. When asked whether he will accept a Cabinet job if offered, "the LAP presidential candidate said he was not sure, but that the party will be negative on that". But the Liberia Unification Party of William Kpoleh, which came third, said it recognised the results. Mr Doe of the Liberian Action Party and Mr Kesselly of the Unity Party boycotted the ceremony at which the results of the election were announced. However, no one believes that either party could win a court action against the Head of State.

The Chairman of the Unity Party, Mr Carlos Smith, says the party, in no unmistakable terms, disagreed with what he called the so- called election results pronounced by the Special Elections Commission. He said the Unity Party would not be represented in the Liberian legislature, since, according to him, several seats won by the party were denied it. by Secom. Mr Smith made the statement during a press conference at his party's head- quarters in Monrovia.

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