Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


US urged to stop aid

The New York Times has urged the US government to reconsider its aid programme for Liberia.

In an editorial titled "buying brutally in Liberia", the paper said: "American taxpayers need to look closely at Liberia, where they are being made to prop up the bloody dictatorship

of General Samuel K. Doe. According to the paper, the list of General Doe's victims is long and growing and that the abominable game of the Liberian government was being financed directly by the US.

The paper referred to the malpractices during the last election in the country and said that the time had come for the US government to reconsider its position that American aid was the best way to end Liberia's economic mismanagement, and to promote democratic practices and respect for human rights. General Samuel Doe

Meanwhile the Reagan administration has said that it planned to continue economic and military aid to the Liberian government, using it as a lever to promote democracy and improve human rights.

Mr Chester Crocker, assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, told a congressional hearing that the Liberian government "has clearly not fully met our high standards for democratic and human rights practices."

But he said that rather than ending US aid,. as has been suggested by some members of the US congress, Washington would "use our economic and military assistance as levers to. accomplish goals we both share."

Joint hearing of the house Africa and human rights subcommittees was called to debate a proposed non-binding house resolution that would link further US military aid to progress in ending alleged human rights abuses and promoting democracy in Liberia.

Release of 192 prisoners

President Samuel K. Doe has released 192 prisoners who were in detention at the Monrovia central prison compound in Monrovia on various charges including property theft, grand and petty larceny, burglary, jail-breaking, and assault. The President freed the prisoners who included females, when he made a surprise visit to the prison compound.

Doe imposes fine on director of broadcasting

President Samuel Doe has fined the director of state radio and television 500 dollars for "allowing television newscasters to appear poorly attired for news casts." President Doe ordered Moses Washington to pay the fine to the government and warned that such "irresponsible attitudes" of newscasters should not be repeated, or "appropriatedisciplinary action" would be taken.

Mrs Brown Sherman declines ministerial post

The President has also appointed Othello Gonga a Education Minister, replacing Mary- Antoinette Brown-Sherman who was given the post barely two weeks ago. State radio said the appoinntment of Mr Gonga, a former Deputy Ecucation Minister, had been approved by the new legislature. No reason was given for the change..

President Doe, however, expressed the hope that Dr Mary-Antoinette Brown-Sherman and others who for various reasons are not disposed to serve at this time would stand in readiness to serve the government and people in the future. Mrs Brown-Sherman was dismissed as President of the University of Liberia after student unrest in August 1984 and was briefly detained after the November coup attempt.

Jackson Doe charged with treason

Jackson Doe, a former Liberian Education Minister and a presidential candidate in last October's general elections, has been charged with treason, his lawyer has said.

Jackson Doe, who is no relation to President Samuel Doe, was charged in connection with a bloody coup attempt last November. He is the second senior official of the Liberia Action Party to be charged following the coup attempt.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a senator-elect for the party and an internationally known economist and banker, was also charged. Both were held in the wake of the November 12 coup attempt led by former Liberian army commander Brigadier-General Thomas Quiwonkpa. who died in the attempt.

Armed forces and other appointments

With the advice and consent of the Senate, President Doe has made the additional appointments in the Cabinet. Lt-Gen Henry S. Durbar is the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia; John G. Bestman is director of the Budget; Maj-Gen Gbankpa Y. Kona, Deputy Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of Liberia; Maj-Gen Y. Johnson, Commanding General of the Armed Forces; Gbai M. Gbala, adviser to the President on national and international affairs; Steven Craton, managing director, National Social Security and Welfare Corporation; and Sam Watkins, managing director, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation.

Call for all-party reconciliation summit

Leader of the opposition Liberia Unification Party (LUP), Mr William Gabriel Kpoleh, has called for an all-party national reconciliation summit to be attended by the council of churches, the muslims council, the bar association, business executives and the press. He also called on the authorities to release Action Party leader Jackson Doe and senator- elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. They have both been charged with treason for alleged involvement in the November 12 abortive coup against President Samuel Doe.


President's solution to economic problems

President Joseph Saidu Momoh has outlined an eight-point long-term policy to deal with Sierra Leone's economic problems. He said that his administration had already introduced a number of measures aimed at arresting the further deterioration of the economy, including the expulsion from the country of "foreign nationals who have over-indulged in unlawful economic practices."


OPEC loan for education

The OPEC Fund for International Development on 14th January in Vienna granted a 6m US dollar loan to Burkina Faso for the construction of primary schools and a teachers' training centre. A press release said the project is co-financed by the Burkina Government and 91 primary schools would be erected.

"The loan is the tenth made by the OPEC fund to Burkina Faso and brings the total amount of lending to 40.25m US dollars," the statement said. The country has previously benefited from balance of payments support loans and three project grants which benefited the transportation and water supply sectors, the release added.


Carter leads aid mission to Ghana

Former US President Jimmy Carter visited Accra on January 22nd on the last leg of a four-nation tour of Africa with a high-powered delegation of economists and agricultural experts. Radio Ghana said that Mr Carter told newsmen that the aim of the tour was to assist governments in agricultural and child health immunization.

He expressed the hope that the delegation would get in touch with small-scale farmers to assist them with improved varieties of sorghum and maize seedlings to enable them to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. "The sorghum and maize programme is a direct response to the drought and famine crisis in the African continent today," he added.

Mr Carter explained that the International Peace Foundation (IPF) which is sponsoring the "green revolution project in Africa" had carried out research throughout the world for the development of better varieties and hybrids of crops in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The IPF would provide experts to help farmers increase their output, he said.

Mr Carter said that the IPF plans to immunise all children on earth against the ravages of diseases like measles and polio. The project, under the title Global 2000, aims at giving drought and disease-resistant 1985. seeds to selected farmers, as well as help them to obtain credit.

The money for the project comes from a wealthy Japanese philanthropist, Ryoichi Sasakawa and the expertise from Norman Borlaug, an America who won the Nobel Peace Prize for launching the so-called Green Revolution in India. The former president who was accompanied by his former ambassador to the UN and now mayor of Atlanta, hopes to play the role of opening the door to political leaders whose governments would encourage the free marketing of grain to ensure the success of the project.

In London he told journalists, "in many countries the markets have been tightly controlled by governments and this has been one of the impediments." He said that Ghana, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia were chosen because the countries had to "be in desperate need."

Global 2000 would not be working with co- operatives since productivity in this area is much higher and 75 to 80 per cent of agriculture is done by private enterprise.

Workers Hold Demos Against Rawlings

Thousands of workers have held massive demonstrations in the capital, Accra, and the industrial city of Tema, in protest at the recent devaluation of the cedi by the PNDC from sixty to ninety cedis per US dollar.

The workers also condemned what they considered an insufficient hike in the daily minimum wage which was raised from seventy to ninety cedis. In a resolution the workers said that a thirty per cent increase in the basic wage announced by the government had failed to increase workers' real incomes. They also noted that many employers would be unable to pay the minimum wage due to the adverse effects on their businesses from the fifty per cent devaluation of the cedi enacted in tandem with the pay hike.

The latest fiscal measures of the government which have resulted in an increase of more than forty per cent in fuel prices, a twenty per cent rise in transport fares, and a thirty per cent increase in food prices, have set the stage for the first major confrontation between Ghanaian workers and the regime of Flt-Lt Rawlings who seized power from the constitutional government of President Limann in December 1981 with accusations that the welfare of the workers had been ignored by the politicians.

The workers' widespread demonstrations held amidst reported arrests of the leaders of the labour movement and threats of military intervention, have seriously dented the image of the PNDC as a government that enjoys the unflinching support of Ghanaian workers.

They also mark the first major confrontation with the Rawlings government since the country's students objected to Rawlings' policies and fought street battles with soldiers and other agents of the government in 1983.

Cocoa decline arrested

The sharp decline experienced by the Cocoa Industry in the last 10 years has now been completely reversed as a result of measures taken by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), a World Bank representative has said.

With the improvement in the transport fleet for Cocobod and provision of insecticides, sprayers and storage facilities in the rural areas, the World Bank projected that cocoa production is likely to increase from 155,000 metric tonnes in 1983 to 200,000 tonnes for Mr Seung Cadi, World Bank representative in Accra, said at a press briefing reported by Radio Ghana that the impact of foreign capital injected into the timber, gold and cocoa industries was becoming manifest.

Earth tremors recorded

Earth tremors with varying intensities have been reported in Accra, according to Radio Ghana.

The radio said that the geology department Distribution Corporation, GFDC. of the University of Ghana recorded seven tremors on its seismograph but did not say what the readings were on the Richter Scale. It quoted the head of the geology department, Mr Yakubu Idrisu, as saying that the first and last tremors were fairly strong, Mr Idrisu added that his department would issue a detailed report on the tremors after receiving reports from its stations at Kukurantumi, in the eastern region and Ho, in the Volta region.

The new exchange rates

The Bank of Ghana has announced new exchange rates for major world currencies following the adjustment of the cedi against the US dollar. One pound sterling will now fetch 131.12 cedis; the Deutsche Mark 51.05 cedis; the Canadian dollar 64.86 cedis; and the French franc 11.97 cedis.

The Dutch Guilder is 32.06 cedis; Swiss franc 43.31 cedis; and Danish kroner 10.05 cedis. Five CFA francs will now be equivalent to one cedi. Under the non-convertible currencies in the West African sub-region, Nigerian naira is 97.56 cedis. The PNDC devalued the cedi by fifty per cent about two weeks ago from sixty to ninety cedis to the US dollar.

Loan for crop storage

Ghana is to benefit from the 11m dollar interest-free loan from Denmark for construction of post harvest infrastructures, like dryers and storage facilities. This was announced in Accra by the leader of a delegation of the Danish International Development Agency who said a large part of the loan will be utilised by the Ghana Food

Noting that the country's potential for food production is great, he added that post harvest losses have contributed to a shortfall in production. He said there is the need for an infrastructure to bridge the gap between producers and consumers and this requires the GFDC to raise its storage capacity to 150,000 t.


Islamic funds for water project

A loan agreement for 1.85m US dollars has been signed in Cotonou between Benin and the Islamic Development Bank (IBD). The interest free loan cum gift of 200,000, was given as subvention from the IBD and will be used for the control of underground water in Benin.


Trial of accused coup plotters

Members of a special military tribunal to try those suspected to be involved in the recent plot to overthrow the federal government have been sworn in in Lagos. Maj-Gen Charles Ndiomu, the President of the tribunal, said the trial will be held in camera, but that the media could be invited from time to time if the need arose.

He promised that the tribunal would be fair to the accused persons, but said it was determined to administer justice without fear or favour. Maj-Gen Ndiomu said that in view of the human rights posture of the present administration, representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Federal Ministry of Justice will be allowed to attend the proceedings as observers.

The accused persons will be free to engage the services of members of the armed forces who are lawyers to defend them. Fourteen military officers have so far been implicated in the December abortive coup attempt.

Denial of link with Islamic body

Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe has said that the Federal Government has not applied to join any international religious organisation. He said there was no time the issue of religion came before the Armed Forces Ruling Council, AFRC, for discussion. He said at a news conference that like other members of the AFRC, he read the controversy about Nigeria joining the Islamic Conference Organisation, ICO, on the pages of the newspapers. He declared that the Federal Government had not put its camp with any religion, whether Christian or Muslim.

Decision on Shagari

The Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ukiwe, has said that the Federal Government will take a decision on the issue of freedom for former President Alhaji Shehu Shagari and his deputy, Dr Alex Ekwueme, based on the facts available to it.

Speaking to newsmen at Murtala airport, Commodore Ukiwe said that as of now the Armed Forces Ruling Council had not received the report on the Justice Uwaifo review panel which deliberated on their case. He stated that when the time comes for a decision to be taken on the issue by the government it will handle it in an appropriate manner.

Views on release of Shehu Shagari and Ekwueme

The Guardian has commented on the implications of recommendations by the Justice Samson Uwaifo Panel that the former President Shehu Shagari, and his deputy Alex Ekwume, should be free. The paper says the ruling seems to have put in doubt the people's feelings about the Shagari administration and even to question the validity of the intervention by the military.

The Guardian argues that, even if the panel's recommendation is on the face of evidence before it the correct one, its reasoning in arriving at its verdict is curious. The paper warns that if the AFRC (Armed Forces Ruling Council) goes along to endorse the decision of the panel, a number of consequences may be envisaged.

These may include strident calls for the release of all politicians currently in detention including those genuinely convicted and also general resentment to the call for public sacrifices.

Oil companies sign agreement with government

Oil companies operating in Nigeria have signed an agreement with the military government that guarantees them a profit of two dollars a barrel even if market prices drop, Petroleum Resources Minister Tam David- West has said.

Mr David-West pointed out that the agreement, based on a complex formula, was designed to encourage the companies to maintain their exploration and lifting activities in Nigeria. Negotiations for this agreement, involving Shell, Gulf, and Elf, took one year and were near conclusion when the government announced earlier this year the imposition of a 15 per cent tax on company profits.

Mr David-West pointed out that the companies will not be affected by this tax because oil companies were already paying 85 per cent as taxes while the minimum paid in other sectors was 45 per cent. He also said that the price for Nigerian light crude oil would remain at 28.65 dollars in the foreseeable future.

Mission to pay compensation

A US district court has ordered the Nigerian Consulate in San Francisco to pay more than 500,000 dollars (over N500,000) to a landlady in the city, Mrs Catherine Joesph, as compensation for injury and damage to her property by an official of the consulate. According to the court, the plaintiff presented evidence which convinced it to deliver judgment in her favour. Of the over N500,000 costs, about N50,000 was awarded as punitive damages.

A New York correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the court gave the judgement in default following the failure of the Nigerian mission to appear in court and respond to charges brought against it by Mrs Joseph.

Mr John Aspelin, counsel to the plaintiff, told NAN that the court could not have decided the suit if the Nigerian mission had appeared in court and raised a plea of sovereign immunity, but that the mission was not prepared to waive its immunity.

He said that now that a default judgement had been given against the mission, his client would request execution against the property of the federal military government in order to satisfy the judgement.

Debt problem discussed

The Paris Club, comprising leading Western industrialised nations, has said that it will pave the way for immediate rescheduling of Nigeria's debts. The chairman of the club. Jean-Claude Trusceau, told the Minister of External Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, at a meeting in Paris, that Nigeria's economic recovery measures were in the right direction.

Earlier, Prof Akinyeme had said that the amount owed by Nigeria was a matter of conjecture, in that some of the debts were questionable. He said that only 2bn naira of the more than 11bn naira claims have been verified as of December last year.

Protection for Nigerians abroad

Nigerians abroad are to be adequately protected by the Federal Military Government. This was made known by the Minister of External Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, while addressing the Nigerian community in Paris at the end of his official visit to France.

The Minister stated that law-abiding Nigerians had nothing to fear but stressed that those contravening the laws of a host country would face the law. He said that government was taking steps to ensure prompt dispatch of remittances for those scholarships. on government's

Changes for greater efficiency

A Cabinet reshuffle has been carried out in which President Ibrahim Babangida said that many ministers have been assigned to new portfolios. He did not give details of the changes but he explained that the reorganisation was to ensure efficiency and increased effective performance.

The President demanded total commitment and dedication from all the ministers to the arduous task of reviving the economy. He stated that in order to further strengthen the performance capacity of the Ministers, con- sideration will be given to requests for each of them to appoint one or two special assistants from outside the public service.

President Babangida announced that the government will deploy two serving members of the National Youth Service Corps scheme to each rural community to report regularly on the progress and status of public works at the grassroots. The President also announced that the post of the Secretary to the Federal Military Government has been separated from that of the Head of the Civil Service.

Addressing Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and heads of parastatals on the that from now on substantive issues of policy design, policy implementation, and coordination will be the functions of the Secretary to the Federal Government. The responsibilities of the Head of the Civil Service will be matters of establishment, staff discipline and service-related subjects.

President Babangida also announced the setting up of a special unit in the office of the Secretary to the Government for monitoring and controlling the various policies and programmes in the 1986 budget. He said the government recognised that no matter how sound policies were, they would become empty words unless they were vigorously implemented.

Maj-Gen Babangida warned that the government will not allow the machinery of policy implementation to drag along at a leisurely pace during the next months. He stressed the determination of the government to vigorously pursue a strategy of smooth monitoring of policies and programmes. The President stated that a periodic view of progress in both the public and private sectors will be carried out to ensure that performance kept pace with expectations.

President Babangida noted that there were strong reservations by the public about the effectiveness of the public service. He said that the time has come to radically consider appointments into the higher echelon of the service in a way that the career elements will give way to that of political commitment.

Payment of ECOWAS contributions

Only Nigeria and Ivory Coast have fully paid their contribution to the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Six of the 16-member organisation have not been meeting any of their financial obligations for the past four years, necessitating the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the organisation to visit them to urge them to pay up.

On the achievements of the community, Alhaji Munu, Chairman of the Council, announced that seven seed multiplication centres have been set up as well as eight cattle breeding stations. The Sierra Leone Vice- President, who is also the country's Attorney General and Minsiter of Justice, said his country was mindful of its obligations. The Vice-President was accompanied by the Sierra Leone Minister of Industry.


Japanese assistance

Japan will provide Senegal with grant aid of up to 600m yen for a road improvement project, the Foreign Minister has said. Japan and Senegal exchanged diplomatic notes on the assistance in Dakar last month.

Agreements signed with France

Mamadou Toure, Minister of Economy and Finance, and the representative of the French co-operation mission in Senegal, have signed three agreements totalling 18.5m French Francs, that is 925m CFA francs, for the financing of certain projects.

The signing of the agreements took place at the Ministry of Economy and Finance and falls within the framework of a strengthened friendship and a continuous co-operation between France and Senegal.

The financial assistance will cover three areas of activity: Rehabilitation of the Thies area will cost 925m CFA francs; rehabilitation of Senegal's railroad system; and the promotion of important training programmes for the staff and supporting the higher national technical and professional training school.


Trans-Africa highway in progress

The main objective of the Trans-Africa Highway, from Mombassa in Kenya to Lagos in Nigeria, is to improve the communications network in Africa. This was said by an Assistant Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr Matere Keriri, at Nairobi airport after he arrived from Congo, where he led the Kenyan delegation to the sixth meeting of the governing council of the Trans- Africa Highway which ended on 18th January.

The Assistant Minister said the meeting discussed the progress of the highway and its feeder roads which cover approximately 20,000 km. Mr Keriri revealed that Kenya had completed its part of the highway and is currently widening some sections. Uganda, too, has completed its part except for some sections near Kampala. Mr Keriri said that the progress of the highway was neither fast nor slow considering the economies of the member states. Every state is responsible for its own section of the highway.

Mr Keriri, who was addressing a press conference at the airport, was accompanied by the Ugandan delegation to the same talks which was led by the Minister for Works, Mr Cyprian G.A. Ajiku.

Finances of highway project

In a speech he made in Dakar, Senegal, to the administrative council of the Trans-Africa Highways Authority, M. Mwezi Dunia Ikandaya, interim director of the organisation, said that the finances of the Trans-Africa Highway had improved. In 1985 82% of contributions towards the annual budget of 657,000 dollars had been paid.

These figures are a clear improvement on the last three years, 1984 in particular, when the authority only received 27% of the contributions which were due. Thanks to this new situation the authority has been able to asphalt several sections. This means that 46.1% of the route has already been completed.

The total length from Lagos to Mombassa will be 6,399 km. Associated feeder roads will have a combined length of 13,100 km.

Africa's mounting debts

African countries will pay more this year to the IMF than they received from the agency in loans, Senegalese President Abdou Diouf has said in Rome.

Addressing the ninth meeting of the Inter- national Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) governing council, President Diouf who is also OAU chairman, said that Africa's growing debt is ruining the all-out efforts exerted for the economic and social development of the continent.

Africa's debt totalled 170 billion dollars (about N170 billion) last year while the debt service increased by 13 billion dollars (about N13 billion) in 1982 and 20 billion dollars (about N20 billion) in 1985, he said.

Last year, more than 27 per cent of the African countries total export earnings went to debt servicing alone, he said.

"We cannot seriously believe that the African economies can score a growth rate which will enable them to meet their actual needs unless appropriate solutions are found," he added.

This situation is also traceable to the worsening of the terms of trade, "for each tonne of cotton exported, Mali, Chad and Central African Republic received this year, only half of earnings they got last year," he said.

"How can our countries meet their financial commitments under President Diouf asked. such conditions?"

He therefore urged all IFAD members to support the holding of an international conference on Africa's foreign debt problems.


French financial aid

Within the framework of French-Togolese co- operation, four financial agreements have been signed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, Atsu Koffi Amega, and the French Ambassador to Togo, Georges-Marie Chenu.

The four financial agreements totalling 219m CFA frances, are earmarked for the following projects: Support for agricultural research, support for young farmers, forest development and industrial afforestation, and the protection of the Togolese coast.

talking drums 1986-02-03 Demonstrations in Accra against Rawlings's economic measures