Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Big devaluation of cedi

The government has again devalued the cedi by one-third.

A Finance Ministry statement said that the new exchange rate is 90 cedis to the US dollar.

The old rate was 60.

The statement, signed by the Finance Minister, Mr Kwesi Botchway, said that the adjustment was in line with the country's flexible exchange rate policy and aimed at ensuring profitable exports and more efficiency in domestic production.

The minimum daily wage has been raised to 90 cedi from 70 cedi while personal taxation was reduced and some allowances were increased by 5 percent of annual gross salary. The statement said that development expenditure during the first three months of 1986 is estimated at 2.5 billion cedis (£19 million at the new exchange rate).

Accra radio quoted Mr Botchway as saying that the devaluation was also aimed at encouraging Ghanaians living abroad to send home remittances through the country's banking system instead of the black market and at promoting greater domestic purchases of Ghanaian goods.

The value of the cedi was 2.75 to the US dollar when the PNDC seized power on December 31, 1981.

PNDC provisional estimates

The PNDC has released provisional estimates to ensure the continuity of government business, pending the release of the 86 budget. Highlights of the statement include development expenditure which has been estimated at 2.5 billion cedis for the first quarter of the year. There have also been increases in selected allowances including leave allowance which has been raised from a flat rate of 200-250 cedis to five per cent of gross salary.

Jantuah resigns as Secretary

Mr F.A. Jantuah has been relieved from his duties as Secretary for Local Government on health grounds and at his own request. An official statement said the ministries of local government and rural development and co- operatives have been merged into Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with Acquaah Harrison in charge.

Names of CIA agents

The lid over the publication of the names of eight Ghanaians swapped for Michael Agbouti Sousoudis in the recent Ghana-US spy drama has been lifted with the publication of all eight names in the Weekly Free Press and other Ghanaian media.

The eight include Abel Adusei, former managing director of the Ghana Tourist Development Company, Adu Gyamfi, a diplomat, Lt-Col. Davis Bray and Major John Aduakye.

The remaining four were tried and convicted by the Public Tribunals. They were Felix Peasah, Theodore Ateidu, Robert Yaw Appiah and Stephen Balfour Ofosu Addo.

It was also published that as part of the deal the eight Ghanaians will be joined by their wives and for each of them not more than three children.

The Ghana-CIA story broke with the arrest in the US of Michael Sousoudis, cousin of Flt- Lt. Rawlings in the US on July 10, 1985, with Miss Sharon Scranage, a Black-American CIA employee described as the lover of Sousoudis. He was later sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but as part a deal between the US and Ghana governments, he was deported to Ghana in exchange for eight Ghanaian agents of the CIA.

Kankam da Costa released

The PNDC has approved the release on medical grounds of 175 prisoners from prisons throughout the country with immediate effect. A statement from the Ministry of the Interior said their release upon the recommendation of the prisons service council. The PNDC has also ordered the immediate release of Mr Kankam da Costa, a former deputy defence minister in the Limann administration, from prison on bail. Mr da Costa is the last of the politicians detained by Rawlings. He was in detention for over four years without specific charges.

Kojo Tsikata leads delegation to Burkina Faso

Capt Thomas Sankara, Chairman of the National Council of the Revolution, has received in an audience a Ghanaian delegation led by Capt Kojo Tsikata, member of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in charge of foreign affairs. The delegation also included Kofi Djin, the Ghanaian Secretary for Trade, and Keli Nordor, the Ghanaian Ambassador.

At the end of the audience, the head of the Ghanaian delegation told newsmen: "I came here from Ghana with a special message from the leader of the revolution in Ghana, Flt-Lt. Rawlings, to Capt Thomas Sankara. As you well know, there have always been periodical consultations between Burkina Faso and Ghana on issues relating to our two countries. This is all the more important because of some serious internal problems prevailing in Burkina Faso, notably the present situation creating some tension at the borders."

'Graphic' criticises BBC

The 'People's Daily Graphic' has commented on an interview with former vice-president, Dr de Graft Johnson, carried by the BBC on 6th January. The 'Graphic' says it would have ignored the interview because it is not worth the effort of any serious comment, as Dr de Graft Johnson is to be pitied. However, the paper believes that the same thing cannot be said of the BBC, which carried the interview.

It is clear that by putting the facilities of the BBC at the disposal of Dr de Graft Johnson, it seeks to lend respectability and credibility to what would otherwise be dismissed outright by all reasonable people.

The 'Graphic' expects that the BBC will claim in reply that it is a free press. But the paper points out that every journalist who works for the BBC has been vetted. It is also clear that Dr de Graft Johnson and his like are being given air time to undermine the Ghana Government.

he paper wonders what the official response of the British will be if the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation gives air time to the Irish Republican Army, for example. What will be the official response if the GBC provides air time for people seeking to ridicule the British monarchy? We are sure, says the 'Graphic', that these will be taken as insensitivity and insults to the British people. Yet the authorities who hide behind the BBC have no qualms when it comes to vilifying the people and government of countries like Ghana. It is time this was stopped, continues the 'Graphic'.

Air services to Libya

Ghana and Libya have signed an agreement which allows the airlines of the two countries to operate in each other's country and also allows for "the extension of all possible facilities for the benefit of both countries in case of hijacking or sabotage of their aircraft."

The leader of Ghana's delegation said the agreement would improve communications between North Africa and Africa south of the Sahara and referred to the ironic situation in which people from Libya had been obliged to travel first to Europe before coming to Ghana.

Two new envoys receive letters

Two new Ambassadors, one designated to France and the other to Saudi Arabia, have received their letters of accreditation from the PNDC Chairman at a ceremony at Castle, Osu.

They are Mrs Theresa Stringer Scott, 53, a High Court Judge in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Dr Alhassa Mohammed of the Bank of Ghana. In a farewell message to them the Secretary for Trade, Mr Kofi Djin, who holds temporary responsibility for Foreign Affairs observed that their accreditation to two important countries at this crucial stage of their nation's economic recovery exercise indicated trust and responsibility which the government had placed on them and urged them to propagate the new export drive which Ghana had started.

Mr Djin said currently Ghana's thrust was to to push her exports as a way of complementing grants and loans received from friendly countries and advised the two envoys to let the direction of their endeavours be influenced by the country's pre-occupation.

Replying, Mrs Stringer-Scott promised that they would go to their posts to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities, renew economic and trade ties and ensure that the existing good relations between Ghana, France and Saudi Arabia were maintained and improved.

On her own behalf, Mrs Stringer-Scott believed that the International Women's Decade might have had a bearing on her appointment.

She believed it was also Chairman Rawlings' personal recognition of women as equal to the task of national reconstruction and hoped that many more such appointments would continue.


Diouf calls for plurality of opinions

President Abdou Diouf has called upon non- aligned countries to define ethics on information which could be used among themselves in order to devote their limited resources to communicating ideas vital to the cohesion of the movement. Opening the eighth session of the intergover

nmental council of non-aligned ministers of information conference (IGC) in Dakar, President Diouf said that such ethics would also serve in the promotion of economic development which he described as our main preoccupation and a major challenge of our time.

He stressed that in order to prevent mass media organs in non-aligned countries from becoming weapons of war or be used to sow seeds of discord incompatible with the object- ives of the movement, information must be made a vital instrument for enrichment and cohesion of the movement.

Underlining the need to increase co-operation with developed countries in the field of information and communication, Mr Diouf called for a definition of modalities of such co- operation in line with the demand for a new information and communication order formu- lated by non-aligned countries during their summit in Algiers in 1973.

Our firm co-operation on which our success depends should not constitute a closed community, he said. He however observed that for the new world information and communi- cation order to be realised it has to be preceded by the establishment of national information and communication orders based on plurality of opinions, free access to multiple sources of information with credibility being the major criterion.

President Diuof described the non-aligned news agencies pool, which has been in operation for a decade now, as an interesting example of lateral co-operation in the field of information and communication. He said that the non-aligned news agencies pool has en- abled countries of the south to have a smooth flow of information among themselves without intermediaries and has succeeded in diversifying the sources of information.

Criticism of Arab Bank's Decision

The decision taken by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) to cease all financial aid to Ivory Coast just because the country has renewed diplomatic relations with Israel is viewed by 'Le Soleil' as an error with incalculable consequences for the already slightly clouded Arab-African relations.

In its 6th January issue, the Senegalese daily wondered if the move was not unwelcome at a time when the eighth session of the Arab- African permanent co-operation committee was about to convene in Damascus. The daily adds that the significance of the move is rather vain if the BADEA wanted to penalise Ivory Coast or to intimidate those tempted to imitate her.

Also, 'Le Soleil' is of the view that BADEA commitments to Ivory Coast are not so vital nor essential to its development. The results will be just the opposite, and if the move is to be seen as intimidation, the paper adds, this possibility would simply tend to turn Arab- African co-operation and necessary dialogue into a vulgar matter of money.

The Senegalese daily's position is that if one had held to that view, Arab-African dialogue would have ceased a long, long time ago, because the money the Arab countries got from their oil went, in a very large part, to Western Banks. Therefore, the financial argument is a vulgar one, 'Le Soleil' says.

It adds that the Damascus summit should rather ponder cultural prejudices and raise the level of consciousness in order that Arabs and Africans may be able to consider one another as equal and view their future in common.


Provisional ruling on border dispute

The International Court of Justice had given a provisional ruling on the Mali-Burkina Faso border dispute which was first filed with it on Oct 20, 1983.

Details of the ruling are:

(a) The governments of Burkina Faso and Mali should both avoid any act which could aggravate or extend the dispute, or pose a threat to the right of the other party to obtain the execution of any ruling which the chamber could render in the affair;

(b) The two governments should abstain from any act which could hamper the gathering of the necessary elements of proof for the present suit;

(c) The two governments should continue to respect the ceasefire declared by agreement between the two heads of state on 31st December 1985;

(d) The two governments should withdraw their armed forces to positions or within lines which, within 20 days of the pronouncement of the present ordinance, will be determined by agreement between the said governments.

Sankara in Ivory Coast

Burkina Faso will implement the decisions of the International Court of Justice of the Hague, President Thomas Sankara's delegation to Libreville has stated. The Burkinabe Head of State was in the Gabonese capital on January 11 for a private visit which lasted a few hours on the invitation of President Omar Bongo. It was President Sankara's first trip abroad since the recent conflict between his country and Mali, Gabonese sources noted. President Sankara was also expected to attend the meeting on 17th January at Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, of member-countries of the Non-aggression Defence Aid agreement, his delegation confirmed.

Mali's release of Burkinabe POWS

The Malian authorities have released Burkinabe prisoners of war. The release took place at the Ministry of National Defence during a ceremony presided over by Col. Aboulaye Ouoleguem, head of the President's military office and action Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie, in the presence of Frederic Korsaga, Burkinabe Ambassador to Mali, with residence in Abidjan.

Mr Korsaga expressed the great regret of the Burkinabe people and their government for the painful events which occurred between the two brotherly countries. In his reply, Col. Abdoulaye Ouolegeum recalled the good treatment given to the 16 Burkinabe prisoners. He also called on the Burkinabe authorities to release certain Malian civilians retained in Burkina Faso so they can return home to their families as soon as possible.

Initial results of census

The Cabinet met on 8th January, 1986, under the chairmanship of Capt Thomas Sankara and adopted draft standard organisational chart for ministries and then the first results of the general census.

The total number of the resident population is 7,919,895 3,824,531 males and 4,095,364 females. The administrative population amounts to 8,644,275 persons, among them 4,321,674 males and 4,322,601 females.

The final results will be disclosed in a few months.

The CNR and the government expressed satisfaction with the results of this general census because they show the level of political awareness and the revolutionary militancy of the people.


INA is dissolved

The Interim National Assembly, INA, has been dissolved. According to Decree No 24, the INA of the Republic of Liberia is dissolved and Decree 89, establishing such institution, is also repealed. However, according to the decree, the immunities enjoyed by members of the INA who are honourably retired, are extended for a period of 90 days beginning 6th January, 1986.

The INA was established by PRC (People's Council) Decree 89 and Redemption empowered to assist the military government in returning the country to a democratically elected civilian government by 1986. Decree 24 noted that the process of returning the country to democratic civilian rule has been accomplished and that the INA has completed its task successfully in keeping with Decree 89 that established it.

Account of treatment in prison

One of the prisoners who had been arrested following the 12th November coup attempt, Momolu B Sirleaf, publisher of the Footprints Today' magazine, has told the BBC that personally he had not been maltreated in prison except that the conditions were so congested that the prisoners had to take turns in sleeping and that sanitary conditions had been very bad indeed.

Some prisoners had been treated very badly and beaten severely by the soldiers. Sirlead said that when he left prison he thought there were about 150 prisoners remaining, about solutions. half the number as when he arrived. He said "except for Ellen Johnson and a few others the majority of them are soldiers." As regards reported executions Sirleaf said "if there were executions, I think people were doing it on their own, but it was not the government that was ordering this."

Among those released was "the local BBC correspondent in Liberia, Alfred Bantu," who said his release had come as a surprise; it had coincided with a visit to the prison by "some guests from America" accompanied by the Justice Minister.

He said he was not feeling too well because he had been sick while in detention and had not received the right treatment. As regards his work as a journalist he thought he would be able to get along better with the government "because according to Samuel Doe' inaugural address he spoke about reconciliation."

Action Party chairman suspended

The opposition Action Party, LAP, has suspended its Chairman, Counsellor Tuan Wreh, instead of plans to expel him from the party. Counsellor Wreh had been elected to the senate and said that contrary to LAP position, he will take his Senate seat when the legislature meets next month.


Arrest of pro-Gaddafy demonstrators

Four members of the Green Book society, an organisation supported by Libya, were arrested in Freetown on 6th January, following a demonstration in front of the US embassy. All four a tutor at a Muslim school and three students were charged with obstructing traffic and disturbing public order.


End of military rule by 1990

President Babangida has announced that his military government would hand over to a democratically elected government by October 1, 1990, the thirtieth anniversary of Nigeria's independence.

Inaugurating a 17-member political bureau in Abuja, the projected new capital in central Nigeria, General Babangida said the government would not tolerate the emergence of "leaders of thought" and that the ban on politics was still in force. The President said in his budget speech that the government would make its political programme known, based on the recommendations of the bureau.

The bureau, led by Professor Sylanus Cookey, a university pro-chancellor, is expected to submit its report in December after collecting data on Nigeria's political history, identifying problems and offering solutions.

It is also expected to gather, collate and evaluate the contributions of Nigerians to the search for a viable political future.

Cookey heads political bureau

A 17-man political bureau has been set up to co-ordinate the debate on the nation's political future. The bureau is headed by Professor S.J. Cookey, Pro-chancellor and chairman of the council of the University of Benin.

Members of the bureau are Prof E.O. Awa of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru; Prof A.D. Yahaya of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Malam Haroun Adamu, the managing director of Punch (Nig) Ltd.; Alhaji Ibrahim Halilu and Mr Pascal Bafyan, both of the Nigerian Labour Congress.

Others are Dr Rahila Abdullahi, Prof Oye Oyediran, both of University of Lagos, Dr Tunde Abediran of University of Ibadan, Dr Abdullahi Augie of University of Sokoto, Prof S.E. Oyovbaire of UNIBEN, and Mr Bala Takaya of University of Jos.

The rest are Mrs Hilda Adefarasin, President of the National Council of Women's Societies, Dr Ola Balogun, a film maker, Dr Sani Zaharaddin of Bayero University, Kano, Dr Edwin Madunagu of Guardian Newspapers and Prof O.E. Uya of the University of Calabar.

Coup plot unpatriotic

The President, Major General Ibrahim Babangida, has described the recent coup plot to overthrow the Federal Military Government as unpatriotic, unmilitary and anti-social.

'Unless members of the Armed Forces review their position and take necessary steps to recapture and reinstate their professional military virtues,' he said, 'they may sooner or later become no better than civilians with guns.'

The president, who was making his first comment on the coup plot during the launching of this year's Armed Forces and Remembrance Day at the State House, pointed out that if that happens we shall have disgraced the military profession and placed the nation in double jeopardy."

He said that 'for the second time, the nation had been shocked and outraged by the unpatriotic, unmilitary and anti-social conduct by disloyal elements within our ranks against the state, the nation and the military profession.'

He said that by placing personal desires, personal opinion and personal ambition, based purely on self-will, above all considerations, the coup plotters had 'contemplated and attempted acts whose nature have threatened completely the credibility and honour of the armed forces as a national professional force.' He pointed out that the technical competence and belligerence capability of the nation's armed forces was not in doubt, and that the problem was whether the military were not gradually beginning to lose the correct perspectives in relation to their obligation to the state, the nation and to the noble profession of arms.

Civilian plotters

Some civilians have been questioned in the on- going investigation into last month's abortive coup plot, Minister of Information, Lt-Col Anthony Ukpo, said in Lagos.

He said as part of the investigating efforts, civilians mentioned were being interrogated. Pressed further, Col Ukpo said, "civilians have mentioned, yes, again it is all part of the investigation." Commenting further on the coup attempt, Col Ukpo said, "more officers and men were being brought in on a regular basis for interrogation." Col Ukpo said that apart from the 14 names earlier mention, some other names have been mentioned as being party to the abortive coup bid.

He said whenever it became necessary to make names public, "we will make them available."

Names of air crash victims

The names of the crew members and passengers of the executive aircraft which crashed near Kaduna last month have been released. The three crew members were Flt- Lt. Garba, the pilot; Flt-Lt. P. Zuokumor, the co-pilot; and Aircraftman E. Esipko.

The passengers were Lt. A. Asor, who was an intelligence officer, Flying Officers I. Ndayagi and I. Mohamed of the air police and plotter being brought to Lagos by the executive Maj. Hamaja, who was the suspected coup aircraft. All of them died in the crash. Maj. Brigade of the army in Makurdi. Hamaja was the Major of the 31 Airborne

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lt-Col. Anthony Upko, told newsmen in Lagos that a detailed briefing on the crash was not given earlier because preliminary investigations were in progress, and there was the need to inform the next of kin of the victims. He said the aircraft was detailed to bring some officers who were suspected to be involved in the coup plot to lagos to assist in the investigations, and that it crashed on its way to Kaduna from Makurdi on the 31st December.

Nothing to prove Shagari's involvement in 'fraud'

An Assistant Commissioner of Police attached to the Special Investigation Panel (SIP), Malam Mohammed Jamma, has told the Uwaifo Tribunal that there was nothing to show that President Shehu Shagari enriched himself while in office.

He said that sometime in 1979 the then military government conceived the idea of awarding a contract for the sum of 329 million naira but the contract was later awarded by theNational Party of Nigeria (NPN) to a company in Nigeria the Fouqurol Nigeria Limited, which has its headquarters in Paris, France.

He said that after the contract was signed, the former Senate leader, Dr Olusola Saraki, sent for the chairman of the company in Nigeria, Chief Ayo Shasanya, and told him that his company might not execute the contract unless he paid 10 per cent into the coffers of the party.

Counsel complains of harassment

A Federal Government lawyer assigned to present the case against former President Shehu Shagari has complained of harassment by his colleagues who were defending the ex- president.

Mr Ayo Osolake of the Federal Attorney- General's Office, said that his colleagues defending the ex-president were pestering and jeering at him, and he threatened to withdraw from the proceedings.

A war of words had earlier taken place between Mr Osolake and counsel to ousted civilian president Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Kehinde Sofola (SAN), at the on-going Mr Justice Samson Uwaifo Review Commission. It all started when the panel chairman called on Mr Osolake to present the facts of Shagari's case.

Apparently bothered by comments made by Alhaji Shehu's lawyers, counsel called on the panel to "save me from the clutches of people on this side. They are harassing me and making comments. I may withdraw from this matter, and let somebody else do it. I do not feel comfortable."

Shagari's assets

Shagari's assets have been presented to the Uwaifo panel reviewing the cases of detainees.

The assets which were presented by a chief superintendent of police, Augustine Akwunwa, showed that he has a four-bedroom bungalow at Zaira City. This house is for Aishatu Shagari. His accounts at International Bank of West Africa, Lagos, before he became president, he stated, revealed that he had a total of N19,330.10, while at the end of his tenure he had N62,304.74.

Superintendent Akwunwa stated that he had thoroughly investigated the case and that he could only rely on the information given by his bank.

NUJ grateful

The Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists has expressed appreciation to the president, Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, Konan Banny. on the unconditional pardon granted to two of its members, Messrs Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor. The union described the action as "a total manifestation of the present administration's determination to respect public opinion and uphold the voice of reason."

The Lagos State Council pledged its readiness to ensure that journalists continued to perform their professional duties to the best of their abilities and in the greater interest of the society.

On the plight of the two journalists subjected to inhuman treatment by some military personnel while performing their legitimate duties, the union welcomed the sensitivity of the president to the ugly event.

It remarked that the investigation ordered into the matter should be swift to ensure that justice is not denied the newsmen.

New current affairs magazine

A new magazine 'African Guardian' has been launched in Lagos. The magazine is to provide a balanced coverage and interpretation of world events. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof Akin Adeshola, who launched the magazine, said he hoped the journal would provide a great deal of finesse and intellectual energy that had long been awaiting for redemption from mediocrity. Africa and the black world would have to respond vigorously to the challenge of a new world information and communications order. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lt- Col. Anthony Ukpo, while proposing the toast of the 'African Guardian', asked the publishers to appoint more women into senior positions.

Legal proceedings over seized Spanish tanker

The Nigerian government has been summoned by a court of first instance in Las Palmas to appear in the proceedings against it for suspected crime of piracy of the Spanish oil- tanker Izarra. The citation is the result of a request submitted by the ship-owner, Lopez Tambia, who considers that the seizure of the ship in Nigeria was illegal.

The vessel was seized by the Nigerian authorities in the summer of 1984 and the crew members were held for several months. Capt Pecina, the master of the Izarra, was tried for the suspected crime of smuggling. He was sentenced to death but the sentence was later commuted by the Nigerian authorities.


French military supplies

Within the framework of the Ivorian-French co-operation, an important consignment of military equipment has been presented to the Ivorian national armed forces. The con- signment of equipment was handed over to the Minister of Marine, Lamine Fadika, in the presence of the Minister of Defence, Jean

According to Michael Dupuch, French Ambassador to Ivory Coast, this gesture France has just made is a perfect illustration of the spirit of cooperation in all fields between Ivory Coast and France.

Minister Fadika lauded France's generosity and stressed the usefulness of the equipment which has been handed over to the Ivorian national armed forces. The equipment among other items consists of technical, liaison and transport vehicles for land and maritime units.

talking drums 1986-01-20 Kankam da Costa freed after 4 years - Ghana cedi sinks - Babangida sets the date