Monthly Archives: March 2011
The desire for freedom and democracy has rarely been clearer. In country after country, people have risked their lives to call for free elections, democratic accountability, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Elections are, of course, the indispensable root of democracy. But to be credible, we need to see high standards before, during, and after votes are cast. Opposition parties must be free to organise and campaign without fear. There must, as far as possible, be a level playing field among candidates. On polling day, voters must feel safe and trust the secrecy and integrity of the ballot. And when the votes have been counted the result must be accepted, no matter how disappointed the defeated candidates feel.
Too often, these conditions are not met. The worsening crisis in Ivory Coastis a prime example of abuse and its consequences. November’s electionwas judged well-run by domestic and international observers. Alassane Ouattara was declared a clear winner. But the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down.
His defiance is opening up old ethnic divisions and threatens to embroil the country in renewed conflict. The crisis is deteriorating rapidly with worrying reports of forced disappearances, targeted killings and widespread human rights abuses by forces loyal to the opposing parties.
There is a real fear, too, that its impact will be felt well beyond the country’s borders. With 19 presidential elections scheduled for Africa over the next 18 months, Mr Gbagbo’s stance risks undermining wider confidence in democracy and emboldening other leaders who confuse personal interests with those of their nation. Africa must continue to move away from the “winner takes all” approach to elections and power, which has been extraordinarily damaging to the continent.
If the international community had stood firmly united behind the integrity of the certified election results, all this could have been avoided. A high price is being paid for the African Union’s delay in re-affirming that Mr Ouattara was the rightful election winner and agreeing a solution to ease Mr Gbagbo out of office.
Understandably, the catastrophe that has struck Japan and the civil war in Libya is dominating the attention of the international community. But we cannot turn our back on the people of Ivory Coast.
The AU, in particular, must immediately condemn the threats by forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo against the UN peace-keeping mission in the country. Unless they do, the AU also risks the safety and effectiveness of other peacekeeping missions on the continent.
We need as well to see a commission of inquiry established to investigate the human rights abuses taking place. Those responsible must know they are not going to escape accountability for their actions.
But the crisis in Ivory Coast must also spur global efforts to uphold the integrity of elections wherever they are held. The right to a free and fair vote is key to everything that matters most. Without credible elections, citizens have no recourse to peaceful political change. The risk of conflict increases while corruption, intimidation and fraud go unchecked, rotting the entire political system slowly from within.
National leaders must learn that to provide democratic legitimacy, elections must be free and fair. The international community must understand that every time it turns a blind eye to electoral abuse, it becomes complicit in degrading democracy’s potential. Short-term expediency cannot be allowed to overshadow the longer-term impact on security, development and human rights. We have to raise the costs for those tempted to rig or steal polls.
The bravery of pro-democracy protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries reminds us of what is at stake. It would be a terrible betrayal if their hopes were to be denied by corrupt or rigged elections later this year. It is time for us all to stand up for the integrity of elections.
The writer was secretary-general of the UN and is chair of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy, and Security, formed by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance read more
A negotiated solution to the crisis in Ivory Coast looks increasingly out of reach as armed forces allied to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of November’s presidential election, press on with an offensive that has seen several towns in the west of the country fall in recent days and fighting break out in the east.
According to the UN refugee agency, as many as 1m people have fled the commercial capital Abidjan, where guerrillas opposed to Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing president, calling themselves “invisible commandos”, have seized control of northern neighbourhoods that are populated mostly by sympathisers of the president-elect.
Though Mr Gbagbo’s government has been squeezed by international sanctions and cut off from the regional central bank which controls its currency, the populist incumbent remains stubbornly in place.
He has refused to concede defeat or dance to the tune of an African Union mediation panel that has recognised Mr Ouattara’s victory, and called for the formation of a coalition government under his control.
Months of gridlock have steadily given way to conflict, with the official death toll from related violence climbing towards 500. The UN is investigating reports that a further 200, mostly West African migrants, have been killed.
Ivory Coast was once viewed as the cosmopolitan heart of French-speaking west Africa, and its descent into anarchy has the potential to destabilise much of the region.
Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday that former rebels allied to Mr Ouattara who have controlled northern Ivory coast since a 2002-03 civil war, had seized the town of Daloa at the heart of the country’s cocoa industry. There were also reports of heavy fighting around Duekoue, further to the west.
The area, which produces about half the country’s annual crop of 1.2m tonnes of cocoa, the world’s largest, is now under the control of pro-Ouattara forces, potentially opening up a route to the port of San Pedro on the Atlantic coast.
Regional diplomats said Mr Gbagbo had been offered refuge in both South Africa and Angola, two states that have been sympathetic to his claims of being cheated of election victory and the victim of a neo-imperialist conspiracy led by France.
But the former history lecturer appears unlikely to cede power willingly to Mr Ouattara, and has been able to continue paying the army and much of the civil service. read more
I left Switzerland this week in admiration of its rail infrastructure. One can live in a small village hours away from Zurich, yet work in the city without having to use a car. That would be a challenge in Atlanta. Within major cities like Zurich and Geneva, one can use trams to move around easily. I couldn’t help but think about how the Metro Atlanta area could benefit from Zurich’s expertise in establishing a model tram network that encouraged commuters to use rail to move around. Concurrently, the potential for Lagos to learn from Zurich’s experience with light rail transit presented itself as an attractive connection area as well.
Rapid transit has been a major topic of discussion in the Metro Atlanta region due to the high levels of car traffic within the region, and the lack of access parts of Metro Atlanta have to the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) rail lines. In the state of Georgia, the push for improved transportation led to the passage of the Transportation Investment Act. Through this act, citizens within the 12 regions of the state can vote in 2012 on whether they will pay a one cent sales tax to fund designated transportation projects within their respective regions. In the Metro Atlanta area, several counties have presented light rail and rapid rail projects that would significantly increase the effectiveness of this mode of transit throughout the region. Furthermore, Atlanta could leverage institutional knowledge from other cities in driving the installation of its new streetcar system. Zurich has hundreds of years worth of light rail knowledge, information that could inform Atlanta’s approach to the addition of light rail to MARTA’s network should the projects pass.
Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city and the second most populous city on the African continent, is installing a light rail system that will improve the ability of Nigerians to move within a city that will house nearly 40 million people by 2050, according to a United Nations HABITAT report. The Lagos state government committed 70 billion Naira ($504 million) to finance the construction of two of the nine planned rail lines. Private sector operators will provide the rolling stock and will drive the operations of the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMATA). This light rail infrastructure could have a significant impact on Lagos by reducing traffic congestion and increasing property values along the line. Furthermore, the project would contribute to the effort of African countries reducing the $93 billion infrastructure gap present on the continent. Leveraging Zurich’s Public Transport Authority (ZVV), Lagos could insure that traffic reduction and higher property values occur maximally.
Lagos and Atlanta could learn from Zurich’s experience in light rail. The fact that Lagos and Atlanta are sister cities creates the platform for the two cities to learn from Zurich together, yet there appears to have been no conversation between the two cities on rail transit. Both cities could benefit from the completion of the direct flight between Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport. The light rail that will connect to Murtala could increase the ease of flight to and from Atlanta or any city in the world. Completing the ease of transport between the two cities by linking the LAMATA to Murtala could provide a small but not insignificant contribution to the growth of business engagement between Lagos and Atlanta. The contexts in which Lagos, Zurich, and Atlanta operate are different and this would challenge their ability to cull out information that is transferable to Zurich and Atlanta. This same challenge is present in the Americas Competitiveness Forum where representatives from Western Hemisphere countries come together to discuss issues like public transportation. Atlanta’s leadership in hosting that event should have increased its capacity to glean salient information from different contexts for its use. That experience would prove useful in Atlanta engaging Lagos and Zurich.
Zurich provides a light rail model for Lagos and Atlanta, one from which I hope they partner in learning. It would be great to see citizens and visitors utilizing their rail lines with the admiration that my use of Switzerland’s rail line generated.
Like me, anybody who has broadly followed political democracy will easily notice the difference between Nigeria’s political rhetoric and the political rhetoric of advanced democracies like the United States and Britain. By political rhetoric, I mean the language and choice of words with which candidates address the masses. As I think about this difference, what comes to mind is the usual argument that Nigeria’s democracy is in its infancy; it will someday become what advanced democracies are today. Such an argument is lame. If Nigeria does not lay a solid foundation for democracy, the result will be different.
In Nigeria, statements like “why I want to rule Nigeria” are commonly thrown around. While the word “rule” can be used in a broader sense to mean govern, its underpinning psychology suggests a master-servant relationship. When people have lived with this type of collective psychology for too long, they begin to perceive themselves as existing under the state described in the rhetoric. So at the back of their minds Nigerian masses perceive themselves as people who are being ruled instead of being served by public servants whom we have entrusted with such an honor.
On the other hand, imagine that President Obama titled one of his campaign speeches “Why I want to Rule America.” his campaign would have died as quickly as it started. When Robert Munford wrote in The Candidates that “in order to secure a seat in our August senate, `tis necessary a man should either be a slave or a fool; a slave to the people, for the privilege of serving them and a fool for himself, for thus begging a troublesome and expensive employment,” he captured the tone of politics in the United States. He also confirmed that the essence of democracy is that power belongs to the people and that the masses rule. Because of this understanding that power belongs to the people, those who aspire to leadership positions in advanced democracies, like President Obama, talk about serving the people as opposed to ruling them. So Americans see themselves as people who are being served, not ruled.
It is the lack of these fundamentals of democracy that makes me question, as I have done in the past, whether Nigeria as a nation has laid the necessary foundation for democracy. Anybody who accepts that democracy is the only system of government designed to respect the masses and give them some sense of responsibility will wonder if the political rhetoric in Nigeria is in sync with the values of democracy.
The language of politics and governance in Nigeria needs to change. I draw attention to this because it has been proven that when democracy is conducted in the appropriate language, over time the role of the masses in a democratic process becomes very clear. For instance, the masses will begin to realize that those whom they have voted for are there to serve. Also, when a democratic process is conducted in the language of democracy, the masses engage more in the system. The American voters understand their responsibilities in a democratic process because the language used in politics and government places some responsibility on them – to choose a good servant of the people.
How the masses are governed and the role of government are often echoed in political rhetoric. With time, the prevalent political rhetoric begins to shape the masses’ collective psyche. While citizens of advanced democracies like the United States and Britain are likely to believe that the role of public officeholders is to serve the people, Nigerian citizens are likely to believe that the role of public officeholders is to rule – in the negative sense that the citizens are second class.
I am not surprised that as a nation Nigeria is stuck in its despotic political rhetoric. The country has seen many years of military rule. Unfortunately, its democracy has become an extension of that rule both in terms of rhetoric and of those who aspire to lead. Nigeria’s political rhetoric is spoken as if the country is still under military rule. Many of those who aspire to lead Nigeria are military men who have not undergone any formal leadership training to acquire democratic values. Yet they assure Nigerians that they are coming back to “rule” because they want to correct the ills of Nigeria. Their reason clearly shows that they do not understand the process of democracy. Whatever good deed they did not achieve for Nigeria as dictators will even be harder to achieve because of the very bureaucratic True democracy starts with a general understanding that power belongs to the people. My argument is that Nigerians need to hear why people they vote into office want to serve them, not why they want to rule them read more
Politics according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is a process by whereby groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behavior within civil governments. However, politics have been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of “social relations involving authority or power” and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy
Wikipedia went further to define Political engineering as a concept in political science that deals with the designing of political institutions in a society and often involves the use of paper decrees, in the form of laws, referendums, ordinances, or otherwise, to try to achieve some desired effect within a society. The criteria and constraints used in such design vary depending on the optimization methods used. Usually democratic political systems have not been deemed suitable as subjects of political engineering methods. Political engineering, using suboptimal methods or criteria, can sometimes yield disastrous results as in the case of attempting to engineer a previously democratic country’s political landscape by such methods as, for example, a coup d’état. The Greek military junta of 1967-1974 used political engineering utilizing a coup d’état to dissolve the democratic system of Greece with catastrophic results. Political engineering can also be employed to design alternative voting procedures in a democratic system. In the social arena the counterpart of political engineering is social engineering
To Dr. Jeffrey R. Lax, Department of Politics, New York University political engineering is like engineering in the natural sciences, which translates theory (e.g., from physics) into practical design (e.g., a bridge), engineering in the social sciences translates rational-choice analysis into the design of better political-economic social institutions.” and “Informed answers to these questions require that we set forth criteria—the specifications of the engineer—for evaluating institutions. In this course, we will invoke such criteria as efficiency, equitability, freedom from certain paradoxes, etc. Particular emphasis will be placed on making institutions as invulnerable as possible to manipulation, which will be subjected to theoretical analysis and illustrated through a series of case studies” Political Engineering to Benjamin Reilly Ph.D. is when political parties in theory represent the political expression of underlying societal cleavages and parties and party systems have not usually been thought to be amenable to overt political engineering. While some authoritarian states have attempted to control the development of their party system (eg the mandated ‘two-party’ or ‘three party’ systems that existed under military rule in Nigeria and Indonesia respectively, or 1, For what is still the best discussion of ethnic parties and party systems, see Horowitz 1985; 2, See, for example, Sartori 1994, Diamond 1999, Reynolds 2002. 3 the ‘no-party’ system that currently exists in Uganda), most democracies allow parties to develop freely. Because of this, parties are generally understood to remain beyond the reach of formal political engineering in most circumstances.
As much as it is not my intention to bore you with all the postulations about Politics and political engineering the major thrust of this attempt is the current political reengineering taking place in Rivers State referred to as the principle of ‘Anya-neli’ with its chief proponent and advocate being Chief Barr Hon. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State of Nigeria and the Director General of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organization. Considering the speed with which this principle is taking root in the politics of Rivers State it has become expedient to critically examine this new political concept by this enigma -who in the course of the ongoing campaign has proven himself as the new political force and encyclopedia of Rivers State politics- and its effect and socio-political impact on the present and future fortunes of the political terrain in Rivers State.
Now that the major purpose of this study has been defined, let me for the avoidance of doubt particularly for non-Nigerians that may be reading this thesis from foreign countries shed some light on the entity Rivers State. Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria with Port Harcourt as its capital. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states. Rivers state is home to a variety of ethnic groups, including Abua, Andoni, Ekpeye, Engenni, Etche, lbani, lkwerre, Kalabari, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okrika and Ogoni. The inland part of Rivers state consists of tropical rainforest; towards the coast the typical Niger Delta environment features many mangrove swamps. Rivers state, named after the many rivers that border its territory, was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 till 1893, when it became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1900 the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to form the colony of Southern Nigeria. The state was formed in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Until 1996 the state also contained the area which is now the Bayelsa State.
The word ‘Anya-neli’ is a political word coined from the Ikwerre language and has an array of uses in context ranging from carefulness, alacrity, watchful, cautious, alert, vigilant, wary and observant. The essence of this new principle and concept in the politics of Rivers State urges one to be on guard to protect each and every vote that will be cast in favor of PDP candidates in the state at the April polls. As Director General of Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign bid during the course of this campaign, it has become second nature for Chief Wike to end what I have come to refer to as his “Charge Speech”, where he mandates specific PDP stalwarts to deliver their various words on election day; with cries of ‘anya-neli!, anya-neli!!, anya-neli!!’. It is the gusto with which he has applied himself to this act at all campaigns that stirred my interest to research and understand the idea behind such passionate cries and if it in any way had any far reaching implications on the political stage of a state like Rivers State.
To say that the Amaechi campaign train so far has been operating like a well oiled military onslaught with Wike as Chief Strategist at the helms of affairs, would be underestimating the obvious, this is because apart from the new doctrine of anya-neli he is so passionate about, any keen observer of the campaign is amazed at Wike’s prowess at mentioning the names of every stalwart charged with delivering the wards in their various states. And if one recalls that a total of 319 wards in contention, then it would not be amiss to give kudos to the man who is able to seemingly without effort reel out names off hand at each campaign. He is also quick to add that political relevance in the next dispensation will be based on ability to deliver wards at the polls. This charge in my opinion is a major form of political engineering which gives a sense of responsibility to party stalwarts and negates the principle of “business as usual” by keeping everyone on their toes.
The fact therefore remains, that never in the annals of politicking in the State or any part of Nigeria has one individual exhibited the skill and ingenuity developed by this new enigma of the Politics of the State in delivering charges and mobilizing the people to action. In one of such campaigns at a particular Local Government rally, the traditional rulers in attendance stood up in salute of this new revelation in the arts of campaigning in the State as he reeled out names and charges to people. So much so, that Mr. Julius “De Genius” Agu, a renowned Rivers Born Comedian and Entertainer who compeered at most of the rallies, was forced to call him the embodiment and encyclopedia of the Rivers State Politics based on his ability to reel out names of politicians in the State without any paper in hand.
At Okirika the home Local Government Area of Dr. Sekibo the ACN Gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 April polls and one of the pretenders challenging Amaechi for the seat of the Governor of Rivers State. The tireless Director General of the Amaechi Campaign team Barrister Nyesom Wike in his speech that reverberated around the whole of the town and by all intents would have sent Dr Abiye Sekibo scuttling out of town if he was anywhere near the vicinity. Chief Wike charged the Okrika people to ensure that Amaechi be re-elected come April. Showing the stuff of which he is made of he reeled out names of different individuals who he mandated to personally work tirelessly to deliver their wards during the elections. He especially fired on all cylinders when he charged Honourable Soe Dikibo, one time Commissioner in the State to ensure he delivered Ward Four to PDP come April. He was emphatic in his call for victory at this particular ward because it incidentally is the Ward of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate. In his words “uproot the so called base of doom and watch the other areas will be delivered”.
What is perhaps baffling to most people that have watched this man on stage is how and when he does his research resulting in such commendable delivery at the rallies. Being a member of the campaign team, it was easy for me to make up my mind to do a fly on the wall study of this man to understand what drives him. Fortunately the 7th March, 2011 presented me with an opportunity to monitor him. Like every other day since the campaign started on the 1st of March, he rose up by 4am in the morning and went straight for morning devotion with his family. By 5am, he took his bath and by 6am people had already gathered in his house for meetings or other businesses. By 8am, he was at the Campaign office to attend to files before the arrival of most of the staff and Directors of the Campaign. 8.30am saw him hold meetings with the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Campaign Committees and by 9.30am he was off to the campaign ground to inspect the venue while awaiting the arrival of the Governor and his entourage. This particular day we visited two Local Government Areas – Ahoada East and Ahoda West and came back to Port Harcourt by 6pm. He drove straight to his house after a debriefing at the campaign headquarters. On arrival at his residence, we were met by hundreds of people already seated and waiting for him for several meetings. He retired to freshen up and then took his dinner while on his feet and almost immediately stepped into his garden to hold meeting after meeting till 4am the next day. After having witnessed firsthand what 24hours in a day of this man was like, I realized that what he exhibited at the rallies was indeed a rare command of political sagacity and oratory that only a few are blessed with, since it was obvious he had no time to do any kind of research talk less of have a goodnight’s rest. During the course of our day together I had the privilege of having him shed light on his ‘anya-neli’ principle. Chief Hon. Bar Ezebuwo Nyesom Wike, in his discussion with me, came across as a crusader who was not just passionate about his state, but also one who was passionate about the governance style of his Boss and Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. According to him, “Chief Eze, you may not see what I see. The State is in danger if Gov Amaechi fails to come back for a second tenure. Not only will we be crippled politically, but most of the initiatives we have set up to take this State to a new height will be deconstructed”. Furthermore, he stated that the anti-people sentiments exhibited by the likes of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who whilst presenting his manifesto to the people of the State, stated that one of the objectives of his government if elected will be to restore the land acquired so far for the Greater Port Harcourt City to their owners whereby aborting the development of a new City in the State; aborting the monorail project etc. such ideas according to wike should never see the light of day. Wike was also quick to remind me that it i was that alerted him to the lyrics of the song that was the highlight of Celestine Omehia’s flag off APGA campaign that by ‘the time we rose from our slumber he would be elected Governor’. According to him, such jabs were the motivation he needed to continue to work tirelessly to ensure that their dastardly plans do not see the light of day.
He said he had resigned himself to sleepless nights until the day Amaechi’s victory is cast in marble, stating that anyone who calls himself a friend or ally of Amaechi and chooses this time to slumber should as a matter of expediency reconsider the authenticity of their friendship. With this kind of resolve it is therefore easy to understand what drives Wike, though some would say he has personal reasons behind his decision to invest his time and all his energy in this, I can’t help but doff my hat to this fellow who has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that Rivers State not be drawn back into the darkness.
Perhaps no one better to shed more light on the concept of “anya-neli” than Governor Amaechi who while addressing the people of Gokana said: “You must be vigilant ‘anya-neli’. One of our opponents said he was the brain behind PDP successes, and if we were being criticized by the whole world for all those successes, it means that the previous elections wasn’t properly organized; it means, maybe it was rigged, if it was rigged then, best be careful ‘anya-neli’ of these same people. They are in another party now. You have a new PDP that will obey the rule of law; there must be voting on that day, votes must count, so go out and vote on that day.” The driving force and fear that drives the anya-neli concept may be therefore hinged on the fact that it was Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State that was the Returning Officer of PDP in the 2007 gubernatorial elections that returned Sir Celestine Omehia as the Governor of Rivers state in a poll severally criticised by the International Community and people in other political parties, it has become imperative that with this new concept, the PDP and the entire people of Rivers state are being urged to become vigilant ‘anya-neli’ in the forthcoming elections to avoid manipulation of their votes by these charlatans.
But who is Chief Nyesom Wike?. A lawyer by profession, a political tactician and strategist of the first order, bold and fearless and ready to die for any cause he believes in. an attempt was made on his life January, 2008 when his vehicle was riddled with bullets resulting in near fatal injury of his driver Emeka Mba. Although Wike escaped unscathed, the car has been preserved as a reminder of what he has had to endure to stand for what is right and just. Recalling the incident Wike would rather refer to it as the day he died because of his passion for and commitment to the ideals and vision of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi for a new Rivers State.
Married to the quiet and unassuming beautiful Mrs Sussett Wike, they are blessed with two boys and one girl. He is one of the most detribalised Nigerians, surrounding himself with staff and aides from different parts of the country. One of his closest allies and the Director of Administration of the Campaign Team, Hon. Chuma Chinye, attest to the fact that Wike is a devoted friend. A democrat to the core, he detests injustice in any form. He is also a philanthropist. It is a well known fact within the Amaechi’s camp, that the fear of Wike is the beginning of wisdom if you want to remain relevant.
From 2003 – 2006 he was the National President of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), the umbrella Forum through which all the 774 Local Government Council Chairmen in Nigeria interface and interact on issues affecting the Politics and policies of Nigeria while from 1999-2007 he was the Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government in Rivers State, an office he used to redefine and exhibit his special brand of governance. He constructed the Local Government Secretariat that stands as one of the best in Nigeria and a great edifice to behold. His tenure witnessed various developmental initiatives in the local government and he is remembered most especially for empowering a lot of youths, elderly women and men, the physically challenged. An ardent hand at grassroot mobilisation, He is credited with founding the formidable political vanguard in Rivers State – the Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) that decides and determines to a large extent the political tide in the state.
Senator George T. Sekibo, the Leader of the Rivers State Caucus in the National Assembly and Chairman of the Labour Committee of the Senate and the Senatorial Candidate of Rivers State East has also attested to the political prowess and magnanimity of Chief Wike at the Obio Akpor leg of the campaign. According to Senator Sekibo, Chief Wike wanted to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this dispensation and the fact remains that I ought not to be here addressing this rally as a Senatorial candidate aspirant of PDP if not for the sagacity and benevolence of Chief Wike conceded to him. In Sekibo’s words, “…He (Wike) stepped down for me when it was obvious that he had the support of 85% of the delegates…but because the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi prevailed on him to reason that Ikwerre area can’t produce the Governor of Rivers State and the Senator from the same Zone at the same time (Gov Amaechi and Chief Wike are of the Ikwerre extraction); based on this, Chief Wike had to step down for me because I hail from the Okirika axis of the zone..” To Chief Hon. Victor Tombari Giadom the Executive Chairman of Gokana. Chief Wike is the Eze gburu-gburu 1 of the Gokana Kingdom (an equivalent of Dim Odimegwe Ojukwu’s title in Ibo land); to Chiefs Amaechi Ikenga and Emeka Bekee, Major Jack ardent followers of “Wikeism” brand of politics, “Chief Wike is the oil that greases the political machine of Governor Amaechi, because without him, “most of us would have been history when we were discarded and treated as lepers when Amaechi was forced into exile by the PDP stalwarts in 2007 while fighting to redeem his stolen mandate. If not for the large heart of Chief Wike who ensured that we were kept together most of us would have died of hunger before the intervention of the Supreme Court”.
To Chief (Barr) Ezebunwo Nyeson Wike, Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government; Governance means ability to provide for her people. “My vision of governance is (1) to make the people happy. What do I mean by making the people happy? First of all, you know before this period, we have what we called direct democracy’. Direct democracy is where the population was very small. So it was possible for everybody to gather and take decision for themselves. But as the population began to expand, they said that there is need for indirect democracy. The people will now elect people who will take decisions on their behalf’. What do they expect from you? They expect true governance and representation, the basic things of life has to be provided, they will have roads, schools, hospitals, powers when they need it. So, for me, my vision for governance is to make the less privileged, to make the people who have elected you to be happy. That is my own vision of governance.
This is Chief Wike the proponent of the Anya-neli concept in the Rivers State politics and if by 16th April, 2011, Rt. Hon. Chuibike Amaechi is re-elected, the politics of Rivers State may not be the same again as the inputs of the Anya-neli exponent cannot be underestimated in the socio-economic and political future of this great State that has become the richest State in Nigeria by the reclaiming of its 86 oil wells from the Akwa Ibom State.
To any positive follower of the politics of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi re-election is to ensure continuity in realisation of people-oriented projects and programmes in the next political dispensation which includes among numerous others massive infrastructural investments around the state, including road projects, schools, health centres, electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development and implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan and most importantly the attainment of relative peace and security as evidenced by the attraction of foreign investors to the State. He stands as the only African Leader to have constructed sixty physical projects and donated the same to sixty communities in sixty days that earned him the name of a developmental magician! His astute leadership in striving for financial transparency, accountability and inclusive governance has earned the State a lot of accolades, numerous awards and recognition by international bodies and corporations. In this regard, the Governor has won the prestigious 2010 Zik Prize for Good Governance based on his performance in the implementation of credible governance principles. The Zik Prize is part of the yearly activities to honour the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the First President & Commander-In-Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which was instituted in 1994 by the Public Policy Research and Analysis centre to encourage patriotic leadership in Nigeria. This enviable award is to be bestowed on the Rivers State Governor for his ability to attract a B+/AA Fitch investment rating to the state, boost economic and structural development as well as enhance content development in all sectors of Rivers State and recently honoured as the most outstanding Governor in Nigeria by the Independent Newspapers ltd so the product that Chief Wike is assiduously marketing is a sellable and good product and I sincerely wish him and his Team the best of luck.
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt
email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org, 08038199163 read more
A life without a purpose is a life without a destination. Like a boat adrift on the ocean, there is no telling where you might end up. With no direction we all head to the polls to cast our votes for the various elective offices to be filled in the General Elections. Same story, same people, but we are expecting a different result. This possibility is in the bosom of time.
With the way things are going in the country, we are not sure of what to expect in the coming days as we become more anxious of the direction we will be taking after May 29 when the winners will be sworn into power.
We all want change but do we consider our ways every day? Going round town, it is same account from the populace everywhere you go; complains of irresponsive governance, corrupt leadership and the likes, but the truth of the matter is that the decay we see actually cascaded from top to bottom and moves in circles. We all have our role to play; complaining of many other things not going right in this country, it’s in our hands to turn things around, as we go to the polls to choose our leaders.
Even when we are not so sure of how to defend the votes we cast; let us at least vote for the candidates that we believe will guarantee our interest. Aside this the little effort we give will go a long way in steering the change we so desire, we all count in the transformation process, we all have our own quota in the new scheme of things as we continue to push for a better Nigeria; this we can readily achieve by becoming better Nigerians.
Revolution can either start from the top or the bottom. Whichever way, it goes beyond blame passing – which will not help us – our actions and inactions are very important in our quest for change. What are the conscious efforts we make to leave a better impression of this State? If I don’t leave an effort to better the lot of the Nation who do I expect to? Most times we are very quick to accuse others of corruption, nepotism and the likes are we better in the little things that is placed in our hands. Even at that often times the society mounts undue pressure on same people we accuse as corrupt, to settle the many struggles we face to the detriment of our nationhood.
Our societal values have eroded so bad that even the unexpected can surface as anything now goes around us; our pursuit for wealth is alarming and nobody question anybody’s source of livelihood as people are celebrated for malevolence, the family unit is almost nonexistent with many homes having kids growing up in the street while the few that will stake claims to a home lack parental care and guidance, this social decay affects the setup of our political class. An unusual chase for wealth is what we see everywhere as comfort, leisure and peace of mind have all been redefined.
Our middle class is virtually elusive, as poverty as forced the people to survival at any means and this is a bane to our socio-economic freedom, and the structure of the social life is so flat that we cannot form any sort of base with it. Poverty has eaten deep that it has affected the mentality of people as their sense of reasoning is deluded.
This is why youths willingly trade their future in exchange for some thousands of naira, just to quench their hunger for a moment while they prepare to live the rest of their lives in misery. How can we rise when we are down? We need courage, character and sincerity of purpose to power a revolution. This is what we need to step out of the clutches of poverty which is a setback to our National aspirations.
Until we have a compassionate leadership that can motivate the down trodden; we cannot move forward with these pathologies looping round us, we need to break this circle of retrogression and spring out a renewed passion to serve our fatherland better with integrity, honour and character. Only a man that is full will fight but the most feared fighter is the one that has nothing to lose.
Who will take us out of this circle of lack, poverty and retrogression? read more
Since society is attributively organic and inorganic in its nature, therefore, one can seek the understanding of what a society is, from the prism of people relative a society. Predicated on this premise, this article sets out to contend that Jonathan and Dame Patience Goodluck-Jonathan personify the problems that have rendered Nigeria a failing state.
To begin with, a nation, on a specific note and a civilization, on the broad range, is made by the education that grows its people. It is education that develops moulds and engrains the minds of the people constituting a nation with the developmental traits, which ultimately, transforms into the physical indexes that are seen and used in gauging a nation’s growth and development. It is through education that variety of problems, human, societal, environmental are researched and ideas articulated on how they can be solved. This is why education is a nation’s problem-solving centre. However, in the Nigerian case, from being a problem-solving- centre, our institutions of learning have sadly been transformed into problem-creating and corruption breeding grounds, which turn out uneducated graduates, sophisticatedly incubated crooks, who, following a sadistic and cyclic trend, unleash their crookedness on the state and start the process time and again by replicating their likes through biological and fraternizing means. From the standpoint of gross underfunding of our institutions at all levels, one needs no extraordinary logic to discern why Nigeria is donning a despicable and ghetto-like jagajaga appearance.
Therefore, since we have decided to kill the problem-diagnosing and solving-centre, then, the end result is what Nigeria is witnessing as a gravely diseased state. Also, the level of corruption in our country is a reflection of the corruption that prevails in our education sector. Moral, academic and financial corruptions have not only reached alarming proportion in our various places of learning, also, they have sadly become integral parts of our learning culture. We have educational handlers, academic and non-academic, that occupy places not merited. Our educational centers, particularly, the public ones, are populated by bribe-takers, certificate forgers, plagiarists, fund looters, abusers of oath of service and those who receive monthly salary for services not rendered. On our campuses, grades trade for money, sexual-pleasure and etcetera. Also, students engage in all sorts of malpractices with parents as aiders and abettors. Therefore, if Nigeria is to experience a positive and enduring change, all we need, is to re-make, retool and give our education, its traditional role and as a well-facilitated problem diagnosing and solving centre.
The question now is, whether Jonathan Goodluck posses the credentials needed to solve the Nigerian education crises? If the proverb, “Nemo dat quod non habet” which means “you cannot give what you don’t have” is anything to go by, one may be saying the obvious that Jonathan Goodluck lacks the aptitude to either initiate solutions to, or o preside over the problem-solving attempts in our educational sector. This is for the simple fact that educationally, Jonathan is a patient who is dire need of a doctor’s service. Jonathan is by all standards, a good example of sub-standard doctoral degree holders that the Nigerian education system has produced. It is sad to note that, a man who has been awarded a doctoral degree and worked as an education inspector, lecturer, and environmental-protection officer, for years does not understand the simple rules of grammar. As pointed out by Farooq A. Kperogi, a Nigerian-born scholar that is resident in the United States, Dr Jonathan language is “awful. He doesn’t seem to be aware that there is something called subject-verb agreement, as evidenced in statements like, “I wish to thank the esteemed members of the Council on Foreign Relations for its continued interest in Nigerian affairs,” “issues of corruption bothers us,” etc. And “Muslim faithfuls”? Well, there is no word like “faithfuls” in the English language, Mr. Acting President. And by “sectoral crisis between Muslims” did he mean “sectarian crisis between Muslims”? Hmm.” If Jonathan does not know the difference between “sectoral” and ‘sectarian,’ and the elementary rules of subject-verb agreement, then, one may logically submit that, Jonathan is educationally unfit to preside over the solution-finding attempts to mass failure in English language in our secondary schools.
Also if Jonathan, a doctoral degree holder in zoology would utter un-zoological statements such as “we are diverse in terms of different human species,” then, one may be saying the obvious that Jonathan cannot proffer solution to the Nigerian education problem. If, as pointed out by Farooq A. Kperogi, “a putative Ph.D. in zoology (the branch of biology that studies animals, including humans) doesn’t know enough to know that all humans belong to the same species,” then, it may be illogical to expect such an individual to churn out a pragmatic and effective roadmap on how we can solve our education problems at our levels.
It is sad to note that like her husband, Dame Patience Jonathan-Goodluck also posses questionable and defective educational credentials. Madam Patience, holder of National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics/Biology from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology/Psychology from the University of Port Harcourt, one may be prompted to conclude, belongs to the generation of Nigerian students who obtained their degrees through fraudulent means. As documented by Farooq A. Kperogi, despite a bachelor’s degree, it is weird and mirthful to hear Madam Patience, “Our politics is without bitterness, my husband Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo is a very good people, !”; “the president was once a child and the SENATORS WERE ONCE A CHILDREN”; “my fellow widows”; “the people sitting before you here were ONCE A CHILDREN”; “it is not easy to CARRY SECOND in an international competition like this one”; “the bombers, who BORN them? WASN’T it not a woman? They were ONCE A CHILDREN, now A ADULT, now they are bombing women and children making SOME CHILDREN A WIDOW”; “my heart feels sorry for these CHILDREN WHO HAVE BECOME WIDOWS by losing their parents for one reason or another”; “We should have love for our fellow Nigerians irrespective of their NATIONALITY”.
From the foregoing, it amounts to saying the evident that Jonathan Goodluck and Dame Patience Goodluck-Jonathan is mirror image of how defective is the Nigerian educational system. If a quote which reads, ““My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber,’ he muttered to himself, ‘and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes,” (credited to Douglas Adams, a prominent English writer and dramatist) is anything to go by, Jonathan would need to excuse himself from presiding over and on the discourse on the Nigerian education. Since it is also rational that Nigerians should borrow a leaf from Erma Bombeck’s counsel that “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died,” then, it will be a disservice to wisdom by allowing a man who is grown by dead education and whose doctorate degree is dead to preside over our affairs.
At this juncture, attention will now be focused on the issue of integrity, corruption and the Nigerian state. While some exponents are of the opinion that the lack of integrity and not corruption is the root of the Nigerian problems, others have either argued the other way round or considered both factors as the core of our problem. Based on the concept of cause and effect, I have informed basis to toe the line of those who consider, dearth of integrity, the hub of our problem. It is a known fact all over the world Nigerians are looked down upon as people who cannot be trusted. There was a time we were making efforts to convince a company to invest heavily in portable water projects in different parts of Nigeria. This company works in collaboration with one Asian-based Non-Governmental Organization in undertaking portable water projects based on the philosophy of Build, Operate and Transfer. While at the advanced stage of our deliberation, we requested that the company should allow us submit to the appropriate Nigerian authority, a detailed proposal on this project. They declined. Why? one would want to know. It was said that if given such document, the Nigerian government will hijack the idea and sell it out to another body to execute.
On patriotic grounds, we insisted otherwise, but, in our minds, we knew, that was the bitter truth. When I shared this experience with a friend who has been working in conjunction with some young entrepreneurs in Nigeria, he confirmed the fears exhibited by the Asian-based company as the Nigerian reality. He narrated how they initiated some ideas which gave birth to some projects which were later proposed to some Nigerian government officials for implementation. He recounted how approval issued for the projects’ execution was reneged and given to another company that knows nothing about these projects. In either of these narrations, the common denominator is that Nigerians are seen as people who will never honor agreements. Failure to honor agreement will often create mistrust and mistrust will create atmosphere of suspicion which in turn will give birth to the feelings of animosity and hence, instability.
If Nigeria and Nigerians are now synonymous with distrust, then, the refusal of Jonathan Goodluck to honor his party’s constitution on zoning (PDP Constitution, Section 7.2.c), clearly suggests that Jonathan is what distrust is to Nigeria and what Nigeria is to distrust. Section 7 (2) (c) of the PDP constitution which backs zoning reads “…in pursuant of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, we adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and elective offices at all levels.” Jonathan, a man who, according to records, not only witnessed the PDP’s deliberation on zoning but also voted in favor of zoning, later made a U-turn and 360 degree turnaround by distrustfully stating that, “Either by virtue of the PDP Constitution,… the presidency of Nigeria has never been zoned to any part of the country. There is the concept of zoning and rotation in the PDP constitution to encourage power to move from one part to the other and it is not limited to the Office of the President”.
If the number one in Nigeria, the supposed father of the nation will distrustfully deny the obvious, it has only shown that he is living the much held view that Nigeria and Nigerians are now synonymous with distrust. Little wonder, Shehu Abdulqadr wisely submits, “The state itself is nothing but its leadership and a leader is a reflection of the society that produces him.” If being a Nigerian is what Reuben Abati describes thus, “you must learn the lesson that nothing is ever fair, and that indeed anything is possible,” then, by denying zoning, Jonathan deserves to be elevated to Grade A Emeritus of a truly Nigerian. Therefore, if Nigerians consider distrust a national disaster that should be fought at all fronts, Jonathan is therefore not a reliable hand that can be looked up to spearhead such must-win battle because his action inspires Nigerians more to distrust than to honoring pledges. If as stated Vincet Lombardi, there must be truth in the purpose and will power in the character for a leadership to be based on truth and character, therefore, Jonathan, a man who contemptibly disregarded an agreement to which he was a party and called the bluff of his party’s constituent, lacks the wherewithal that is required to lead based on truth and character.
Since corruption is what I consider the effect of distrust, therefore, focus would now be on how Jonathan and his wife are mirror images of the Nigerian dilemma. One of the reasons why Nigerians are looking for alternative to the ruling PDP is because it has earned itself the infamous appellation as party of looters. Corruption is in truth not just a PDP problem; it is in reality, a problem that is affecting most Nigerians. Corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria that if a Yoruba man accuses an Igbo man of being corrupt, the latter would as a defense; mention the names of the Yoruba’s who have looted the country to stupor.
Jonathan, the man who is a truly Nigerian, has on a number of occasions exhibited this trait. Virtually all aspirants have alleged Jonathan to be ruling and heading a government of corrupt persons. Although these aspirants are merely saying what prevails in the minds of most Nigerians, the PDP is saddened that Buhari, a leading Presidential aspirant in the ongoing democratic dispensation is favored by the electorates because he is seen as an incorruptible person. Realizing this as his strength, Buhari has focused his campaign on anti-corruption crusade. Overwhelmed by the effects of this on his electoral worth, Jonathan, a typical Nigerian, warned Buhari in particular that, he and Ribadu are no apostles of anti-corruption and that he will expose them as members of the corrupt empire. To argue his case, Jonathan cited the case of the controversial 52 cases which was allegedly smuggled into the country in 1984 during Buhari’s reign as the Head of State. This was in reaction to a case of $13.5 million Dollars (US) and another N104 million money laundering case involving Jonathan and his loving wife, Aunty Patience which Buhari’s campaign team has been making issue of. Therefore if Nigerians are interesting in overcoming the crisis of corruption, one direction not to direct our gaze at is that of Goodluck because it reminds us why our resources are not used in providing for our daily needs.
On a concluding note, since it has been established that Jonathan Goodluck and his wife, Aunty Dame are mirror images of the Nigerian quandary, then, if we desire a better future, it is only logical that Nigerians should seek change and a better future in other individuals who are aspiring to lead Nigeria.
Adebiyi Jelili Abudugana, a former Unilag student union leader can be reached through email@example.com read more
The argument goes something like this; corruption is the backbone of African business dealings and bribery one of corruptions offshoot is the quintessential tool of choice for African Governments and leaders. If you want to do business in Africa you must have two forms of capital investable capital and corruption capital. To succeed your corruption capital must be 2x your investable capital. You must bribe to see stakeholders; you must bride to get your licenses and papers approved. You must play ball or face being flagged persona non grata for whatever dealing you are involved in. And by the way, you have no legal recourse should you lose your corruption capital and invested capital
Take Nigeria for example with 144 million people, it is the most populous nation in Africa. Of this number, per UNDP 100.8 million of them live and survive below $ 1 a day and 132.5M people lives below $2 per day. On average, each family has 5 kids or more to feed with $1 or $2 unadjusted for inflation. Inflationary pressures in Nigeria are at 13% up 2% from prior year Per the Central Bank of Nigeria. The interaction of these pressures; rising food prices, inflated and unregulated housing prices, lack of jobs, security, maternal mortality makes the decision to accept bribe an easy choice. It makes this decision a necessary evil in the arsenal you need to survive and feed your family in Nigeria. It is literally impossible for a family of 7 surviving on $1 a day and faced with the choice of accepting $5 as bribe to look the other way bypassing procedures and or processes.
For some in Nigeria, Integrity and principle don’t have a strong foundation when the pressures of feeding ones family takes hold. The kids bear witness to their circumstance and are unable to impact these events, they are exposed to the teachings of corruption and the education of just surviving early in life. To add to this, Nigeria’s spending as a percentage of GDP on education is at 3% but in neighboring countries like Ghana, South Africa and Kenya it is 5.4%, 5.4% and 6.7% respectively. The UNDP ranks Nigeria as a low human development country at 158 out of 177.Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria remains a highly unequal society with a gini coefficient of 0.43.
African families in North America, Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean’s have the same conversation about what they would do if they were in charge and have an opportunity to bring about change. And while they do not spell it out in a manifesto, they are quick to stake out there position in mini living room congregations that become their campaign voting population. Everyone tries to make their case as strongly as they possibly can. The problem is that everyone talks about the eradication of corruption knowing that it is an impossible task. Too many people and too many livelihoods depend on corruption capital. We must acknowledge this fact and rethink the conversation within our living rooms in search for a solution.
Africans in the Diaspora want to have a positive impact on what is going on in their mother land. They all have great ideas on what it would take to make Africa great. They all know the problems with Africa and can recite and analyze the subtle issues and plight of the African continent and nations therein. Passions and emotions flare up whenever you find them congregated over food and drinks in celebration of a holiday or graduation or simply having a party to celebrate friends or a change in the prefix before their name. I often wonder how possible it would be to gather all the thoughts and solutions that are shared within these forums or informal panel discussions that occur daily at the kitchen tables and living rooms.
Let us change the model of the conversation and in so doing move away from just issues of corruption which is the standard excuse for the Diaspora not getting involved or losing interest in the current state of affairs in Africa. Instead, we must find a solution with corruption capital built in from the onset. read more
What is the difference between Jonathan, Buhari, Ribadu and others? As we will draw closer to the General Elections, we continue to probe the contenders for the race to the presidential seat in Aso Rock Villa, the contest is getting stiffer and every move is becoming more strategic as we see more political intrigues, manipulations and sometimes foul play from the various political parties in their interplay.
Accessing the contenders one after the other, we will see that one quality that is prevalent is that the parties tends to be looking for candidates that can be appealing to the people. Looking at the political stage at the moment they seem to be no clear cut edge from any of the men running for this position, the one who can revive our present situation to becoming a nation to reckon with amongst the League of Nations.
Let’s take the contenders one by one, ascertaining the difference between them and what their individuality has to offer, if elected the president of this country.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GEJ of PDP, currently President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, assumed office after the death of the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He succeeded him being the Vice President after a series of political mishap to complete their tenure. That has given him some form of experience and exposure to stake claims to the seat.
GEJ choice as president is triggered on the interest of stability, aside that can he make the different? If yes how? Definitely not with the news of internal insecurity flowing in every now and then; Looking at the socio-political situation in the country now, we have been expecting the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign to produce a clear blueprint on how they intend to change thing for good, all we see and hear is same old story of amenities and socio infrastructure promises that has always been made for ages; We want them to use the resources at their disposal to effectuate the impasse of our national struggle to be revolutionized. The absence of this leaves them at the cross road.
Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), has few things are going well for him, considering his antecedence, we might be tempted to say that he is the candidature with the highest stake for integrity and discipline and the choice of Tunde Bakare as a running mate should quench our suspicion of his religious sensitivity. While he is giving youthfulness and intellect a chance, his problem is same with GEJ’s team; what is the blueprint to re-writing our history?
Other than castigate those that didn’t do what should have been done, let us know how the undone is to be done. Nigeria’s problem we all know but solving same is the ultimate challenge of our leaders; the key to our socio economic change is a sharp contrast from our regular socio-political style, noting that the platform of Buhari’s campaign lacks intensity as touching our pathologies and finding a solution for them. The challenge of covering the nooks and crannies of the country gives a party like the PDP an advantage over them. A better preparation would have given them an edge; this team is neither here nor there.
Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN is another contender for the seat, though he has a strong reputation which would be put to test as many has always accused him of being a political tool in the hand of the previous administration, how true this claim is will be seen in his ability to direct the affairs of his campaign in the right direction. His choice of Fola Adeola shows his appreciation for intellect and a renewed drive towards economic boost from entrepreneurial perspective. How well will he coordinate all this is a big task considering the people he is surrounded with?
He has the tenacity to overcome corruption which is the cankerworm to our quest in discovering our destiny as a nation. Though he seems to lack the knack to interface our diverse resources with our potentialities as regards our socio-economic realities and this is a key indicator of our quest to asserting true leadership that we deserve. He has always concentrated on corruption and I personally believe he has more challenge asserting himself in ACN than leading Nigeria.
In conclusion, Let us look closely at the candidates that we have now and vote for our choice as we hope the winner will in turn deliver amongst the many daunting challenges of our nationhood, a better Nigeria; If this is an uphill task for him to achieve, at least let him lay the foundation for his successor to perform better in meeting our national goal.
Other influences will count but none of the candidates has shown that he has what it takes to hit the bull’s eye in turning things around as we continue moving in circles. read more
Business people from African countries and Switzerland will gather for the Fourth Swiss-African Business Exchange in Geneva this week to dig in and find ways to do business with one another. Exchange sessions will cover several topics including manufacturing, East African trade and investment opportunities and renewable energy.
The following manufacturers will make up part of the manufacturing panel and are sure to provide a solid on-the-ground perspective of manufacturing in African countries:
- Gary Hannam, Olivado Limited – avocado oil plant in Kenya
- Hans Peter Werder, HPW AG – dried fruit factory in Ghana
- Ramadhan Madabida, Tanzani Pharmaceutical Industries – pharmaceutical plant in Tanzania
Tony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, painted a dreary picture of African manufacturing prospects. According to his assessment, South Africa generates 60 percent of the industrial output on the African continent. In the continent’s de-industrialization, Africa cannot compete with Asia which is producing high-tech products for the global market compared to the localized low-tech products African manufacturers are producing, according to Mr. Hawkins. Combatting this analysis are manufacturers like Nigeria’s Dangote Group which is successfully manufacturing rice, cement, flour, and other commodities for African countries. Dangote Cement’s initials will soon be scrolling across the London Stock Exchange.
Trade and investment opportunities in East Africa will be a topic covered by the following:
-H.E. Menilik Alemu – Ethiopian Ambassador to Switzerland
-H.E. Jacques Pitteloud – Swiss Ambassador to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Somalia, and the Seychelles.
-Professor Maggie Kigozie, Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority
-John Gara, Rwanda Development Board
As Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Seychelles continue their rapid growth, Switzerland will need to invest in establishing embassies solely focused on each of these countries. Between 2001 and 2010, Rwanda was one of the ten fastest growing countries in the world. Ethiopia was one of the six African countries on that list and is projected to retain that spot for the next five years. For Switzerland to maximize business relationships with these countries, a focused presence in each will be essential to success. One ambassador is not able to develop the deep relationships and knowledge of these very different countries, in efforts to support all types of relations with Switzerland.
Executives in the renewable energy sector include:
-Felix Obada – Managing Director/CEO, Global Biofuels Limited, Nigeria
-Jorgen Sandstrom – Deputy Managing Director, Addax Bioenergy Management SA, Sierra Leone
On his visit to Atlanta, Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Elkanah Odembo discussed the effort Kenya is making to be primarily reliant on renewable energies like solar power and geothermal energy by 2030. The African continent has a lot of sunlight and strong rivers among other resources. The opportunities to harness that energy responsibly will make for a great discussion.
The exchange line up is sure to make for stimulating discussion and the initiation of business deals that will contribute to the economic growth of African countries. Click on the following link for more information on the Swiss-African Business Exchange:http://www.sabexchange.com/index.cfm?page=115923&cfid=56702053&cftoken=55780355 read more
HERE’S a statistic you may not be aware of: about 50 percent of the world’s uncultivated, arable land is in Africa. This abundance of potential farmland offers Africa the opportunity to feed itself and to help feed the rest of the globe. But consider another statistic: because of poor roads and a lack of storage, African farmers can lose up to 50 percent of their crop just trying to get it to market.
In other words, Africa needs not only greater investment in agriculture, but also in roads, ports and other facilities that are vital to moving the land’s products to consumers. Fortunately, part of the solution could lie with the almost 23 million African migrants around the globe, who together have an annual savings of more than $30 billion. Tapping into this money with so-called diaspora bonds could help provide Africa with the equipment and services it needs for long-term growth and poverty reduction.
These diaspora bonds would be in essence structured like any bonds on the market, but would be sold by governments, private companies and public-private partnerships to Africans living abroad. The bonds would be sold in small denominations, from $100 to $10,000, to individual investors or, in larger denominations, to institutional and foreign investors.
Preliminary estimates suggest that sub-Saharan African countries (excluding South Africa, which doesn’t have significant emigration) could raise $5 billion to $10 billion a year through diaspora bonds. Countries like Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, which have fairly large numbers of migrants living abroad in high-income countries, would particularly profit from issuing diaspora bonds.
There are precedents for such moves. Greece announced this week that it was preparing to issue $3 billion worth of diaspora bonds in the United States. India and Israel have issued diaspora bonds in the past, raising over $35 billion, often in times of financial crises.
Why would diaspora bonds work so well? For one thing, the idea taps into emigrants’ continuing patriotism and desire to give back to their home countries. And because diaspora populations often build strong webs of churches, community groups and newspapers, bond issuers would be able to tap into a ready-made marketing network.
Another advantage of diaspora bonds for African countries is that migrants make more stable investors in their home countries than people without local knowledge. They’re less likely to pull out at the first sign of trouble. And they wouldn’t demand the same high rate of interest as a foreign investor, who wants to compensate for the risk of investing in what would seem to them like a relatively unknown developing country.
Diaspora bonds could also be issued in the local currency, as migrants are likely to be less averse to the risk of currency devaluation. That’s because members of the diaspora have more use for local currency than foreign investors; migrants can always use it when they go back home or for family-related expenses.
Take, for example, an African living in the United States who now earns an annual interest rate of less than 1 percent on small deposits; a diaspora bond with an interest rate of about 5 percent certainly might seem attractive. To make the bond even more appealing, the countries the migrants reside in could provide tax breaks on interest income. Donor or multilateral aid agencies could also offer credit enhancements in the form of partial guarantees, to mitigate default risks.
Even more money could flow into Africa if countries tapped into the billions of dollars that members of the diaspora send home each year by using those remittances as collateral to raise financing from international markets. This approach has allowed banks in several developing countries — including Brazil, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Turkey — to raise more than $15 billion since 2000.
Here’s how this works: When a migrant transfers foreign currency to a relative’s creditworthy bank in his home country, the bank pays out the remittance from its holding of local currency. That transaction creates a foreign currency asset equivalent to the size of the remittance, which can be used as collateral for borrowing cheaply and over the long term in overseas capital markets.
Such borrowing has no effect on the flow of money from migrants to their beneficiaries. Yet development banks, national banks in developing countries and donor agencies can partner to harness enough remittances and create enough collateral to raise significant sums of money to invest in agriculture, roads, housing and other vital projects.
The people of Africa are scattered around the globe, but many still feel a powerful sense of belonging to the continent. Through diaspora bonds and remittances, they could create a better future for their homeland.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the managing director of the World Bank. Dilip Ratha is the manager of its Migration and Remittances Unit. read more
Carlyle plans to launch a $750m fund to invest in Africa, a continent long neglected by the large international buy-out firms, people familiar with the US private equity group said.
David Rubenstein, the group’s co-founder, has a reputation for being a pioneer in raising and investing money in frontier economies.
Mr Rubenstein was among the first buy-out executives to raise money in Libya and has oil money going into Carlyle funds from resource-rich African nations such as Angola.
The soon-to-be-launched Carlyle fund would be overseen by a team of three with a presence in Johannesburg, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, these people added.
Carlyle already has a significant presence in north Africa, as well as a dedicated private equity fund for the Middle East and north Africa.
Many parts of Africa are now enjoying better prospects than at any time in recent history due largely to a rush for resources led by the Chinese.
“The majority of Americans don’t pay enough attention to Africa,” one source close to Carlyle said. “It has been China that has been the catalyst for economic activity in Africa.”
Carlyle’s fundraising machine is by far the most powerful of any of the large private equity groups. But speaking at a conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Rubenstein referred to a difficult fundraising environment, a complaint echoed by executives at all of the significant private equity groups. For example, in 2007, at the height of the boom, Carlyle raised $30bn, a figure it is unlikely to come close to today.
“We have seen more investment and more exits, but fundraising lags behind,” Mr Rubenstein said. Yet, he added that he expected fundraising to improve due to low interest rates and the thirst of pension funds in particular for yield. But even when the pension funds and sovereign wealth funds increase the money they give to the buy-out firms, the fees they pay are likely to be dramatically smaller, Mr Rubenstein said.
The sovereign wealth funds in particular are becoming less passive, seeking to invest alongside the private equity groups, hold separate accounts with them or invest directly and avoid paying fees.
read more www.ft.com
While receiving an award for Excellence in Commercial Diplomacy at Howard University’s Africa Business Conference, Florizelle Liser, Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa expressed her desire to see entrepreneurs in the African-American community and in African countries seek out partnerships with each other. The city of Atlanta, Georgia has a mix of key ingredients to make this happen:
1. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Atlanta has the second largest number of black-owned businesses in the United States. One cannot help but notice the entrepreneurial spirit within the black community, with individuals operating in industries ranging from dry-cleaning to management consulting.
2. Through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Delta launches direct flights to Accra, Johannesburg, Monrovia, Abuja, Lagos, and Cairo. One can fly to Accra in a time not much longer than it takes to fly to Los Angeles.
3. Mayor Kasim Reed has a vision for Atlanta to be the Western Hemisphere’s logistics hub – an aspiration that will contribute to the growing impact of the African Growth and Opportunities Act on trade between the US and African countries.
4. Georgia Tech University develops numerous engineers whose skills could contribute to Africa closing its $93 billion gap in infrastructure development.
5. Though not in Atlanta, the University of Georgia develops a talented pool of students in the agricultural industry who could contribute to Africa reaching $880 billion in agricultural output by 2040.
Dr. Adetunji Adegbesan, a strategy professor at Lagos Business School,shared an incredible story that crystalizes the potential of entrepreneurship on the African continent. An MTN executive monitoring data usage on the company’s Nigeria network noticed that a significant amount of data was passing through the network, but someone was not paying for that usage. After alerting the company’s network engineers, MTN blocked the source of that usage. A few weeks later, the same executive noticed more data passing through that was not accounted for financially. He again approached network engineers who blocked the source. Yet again, data was passing through after a few weeks and the executive approached engineers in Europe who established an elaborate block that was sure to keep the data from passing through. Data was passing through the block a few months later.
Who was breaking through MTN’s network? The company tracked the source of the data and located a small college city where a group of graduates helped families set up their computers. As part of the package they offered, these entrepreneurs “installed” the internet on these computers. They figured out a way to log the computers into MTN’s internal network while keeping the computers’ identities masked. The end result – MTN hired these innovators.
Entrepreneurship is essential to economic growth on the African continent and in the US. One can be sure that the vibrancy found in that small college city in Nigeria is not isolated, and US entrepreneurs would do well to engage this movement. Atlanta-based entrepreneurs should take the lead in engaging fellow entrepreneurs in African countries. read more
On a Wednesday afternoon, after a strenuous day’s job off to the canteen to have lunch, as I sit to wait for my order, I hear chants from the Television and had to follow up what was happening, and then discovered it was the Peoples Democratic Party PDP’s Lagos rally at the Tafawa Balewa’s Square on the Island.
This was obviously the reason for the horrendous traffic round town. Either out of interest or dullness, I had engaged myself in the rally proceedings, as I watched; I noticed a colourful and quite cultural event, with lovely tunes coming from King Sunny Ade himself. Then I asked myself a question is this festival to blow their trumpet or a rally to sensitive the populace of the party’s intension for them?
To my utmost surprise, none of the speakers had a clear cut shot on their deliverables not even as a group all talked here and there, praises for the party, their leadership and self was all I heard from them as none satisfied my curiosity to hear them out, not even the gubernatorial aspirant of Lagos State, Dr. Ade Dusunmu.
I was expecting the maritime marshal to impress but his show was a run of the mill for a man vying for same office as BR Fashola SAN of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN; knowing Fashola has an edge with his precedence added to his party’s political grasp on the state; I had expected at least a stiff opposition from her closest political rival the PDP which would give the state some sort of political check. None is forthcoming.
What the party lacked on the day was vision; and as such the rally was not guided, it went bizarre. It calls for serious concerns knowing that the platform our political leadership come from lacks base, we cannot embark on a journey and expect to get there when we do not have a clear cut direction, we have political parties that do not have the basic upon which good governance can strive evident by their lack of purpose, integrity and cohesion.
The way with which Bode George was celebrated was disheartening; a man just coming from jail for financial misappropriation, gross abuse of public office et al, all that notwithstanding he was given a hero’s welcome. It was so shameful that PDP would degenerate so low that they will give an open and warm embrace to such a disgrace to social liberty. This calls for questioning of the integrity of the party, as well as the individuals who celebrated him.
What beats my imagination is that a man will be celebrated for criminality, while an honorable man is relegated to the background and mocked for his steadfastness and honour. There is no longer any place for morality and conscientiousness in our political arena.
Our journey from 2011 will not accept such excesses from us, we are supposed to have a party system that will enforce integrity from the grass root to the top echelon of government, and if we can’t enforce integrity and conscientious drive by doing things right from the party level thereby avoiding eminent shame like this, then what is our fate when these political scavengers get to power.
What can be deduced is that this present political parties does not have future with this nation, by the time the much awaited renaissance starts, they will all die natural death, because they lack purpose, character and integrity. Even few that will survive; will all be a shadow of themselves. Other political parties are not left out, as they also have their short comings, parties that are ruled by a man’s opinion rather than a consensus ideology. There is no place for them all.
A general appraisal of the present political parties shows an absolute lack of political structure; this lack of structure shows in the quality of candidate(s) that they bring out. We have political parties that lack internal democracy yet stands for democracy; A shame to our national character.
Even the mentality of an average politician betrays what democracy stands for. Democracy does not stand for violence; democracy does not stand for results alone, it stands for process, character and value. An imp limitation of rascality is what our politicians portray.
A political reform will not make sense without the political parties being involved because they are the platform for this continuous manipulation of our socio-political justice. This can be injurious to our democracy if not reverted as it is gradually becoming a democratic tyranny.
These political parasites will continue to sap us dry until we all call for a revolt. Even when an aspirant has the intension to deliver they will frustrate and choke life out of him.
What a show of shame!!! read more
On Tuesday, March 8th 2011, Bayelsa State will witness a rousing reception for her illustrious son ,President Goodluck Jonathan at the Sampson Siasia Sports Complex. This reception originallpy expected to attract more than one million people has been toned down because of the obvious logistic difficulties it will present in terms of crowd control. Accreditation to this event has been tight even for journalists. This has been the case with every stop of the President in his nationwide campaign. His popularity and widespread acceptance is not in doubt. The question has always been that of space constrains and how to secure the people and their visitors never whether the crowd will come.
I say this because of the hype following the crowd pulled by the Gen.Buhari, the CPC presidential flag bearer’s campaign in Kaduna and attempts by the press to judge his popularity with this criterion. There was also the talk about the PDP’s Lagos campaign which “attracted a smaller crowd”. Some analysts have even been fixated lately on the relatively small voter’s numbers in Bayelsa State vis avis the so called opposition States as signal that the President was already disadvantaged in going into the polls. These things happen in politics but the reality is different from visuals being created by opposition parties. Let me crave your indulgence to explain the reality here.
The issue of crowd in Nigeria is not what you see. It is easy to present a big show like the Kaduna spectacle even by churches. It smacks of deep seated Religious and fanatical ideology. You can make it mandatory that all your church members and all worshippers present themselves in a large place for a stipend. But for the ruling party campaigning in Lagos under the heavy dose of sabotage, security was more paramount. Most people who wanted to attend the rally were advised to watch on television. Lagos is presently not a PDP State. Even then, there are huddles for anyone invited to a Presidential function in Nigeria and this should settle the question of crowd.
On the issue of registered voters in States, people should understand that voting in the new system of DDC machine is a different ball game altogether from what we used to know. Here the nitty-gritty will be as different as black and white. It is true that there were allowed double registration and you wonder how they could still do it but nothing is perfect. It is true that under aged registration may have occurred in those Northern States with figures that defy logic but not to worry, for instance those in Puddah during registration, those whose registration could not be effected but through their computer literate husbands or relatives will come out to vote and we shall see their faces and determine whether they are toddlers even if we cannot know whether they are Nigerians or from across the border. At that time it will be the Party on ground that has the right to make a complaint or query a result. To be on ground requires a lot of finance and logistics input and not many parties today can match the national spread of the ruling Party.
So what may happen is that those states with inflated numbers will have actually reduced voting population to the extent that eyebrows will be raised again. The taste of the pudding is in the eating they say. So do not be carried away yet. Sectional parties have always found it difficult to survive the Nigerian political terrain all through history and this time will not be an exception. The fact that a party takes control of the states of South West with the second highest voter strength does not translate to a loss for the President in the Presidential election here. The revise is more likely to be the case however because it is more likely that the people will vote a more likely to win President of southern extraction than anyone else and this may create a bandwagon effect to affect even the result of the gubernatorial elections here. The safeguard here is that the South Western electorate is relatively better informed and therefore also more flexible in their choice patterns.
One of the reasons for caution in predicting from the registration is of course the requirement for spread in electoral votes across two thirds of the country. It is better that you are everywhere accepted in smaller numbers than you score ninety percent in few. We have seen it in Chief Awolowo and his Action Group AG; we saw it in Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and his Nigerian peoples Party NPP in the past. The issue of drawing crowd by raising local sentiments has always been counterproductive in this political system. It may win you some states but the Nigerian Presidency is not for extreme ideologues.
The Jonathan Presidency is sponsored not by Bayelsans but all Nigerians who yearned for change. We decided that he should be the bridge in our effort to cross this putrefying river of national stagnation. Our basic judgment was to answer the question “Who is capable of going for us? We saw that under the circumstances that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the best choice so we decided to support him. Each mission is limited by the requirements of it. Nigeria is in a transition because we are yet to attain Nationhood to enable us act as one people more easily. What we need most is a uniting element not a tiger. A tiger acts for the body that is already united and strong otherwise by his sudden strength he will only pull it apart. The South South Presidency is the uniting factor for Nigeria because it will give the so called minorities a sense of belonging and will restore hope for a permanent move towards nationhood through citizenship. Therefore competence is qualified in this instance to suit the goal. We cannot be looking for someone to unite Nigeria towards nationhood and we are seeking the one that can tear her apart.
So as the President comes to campaign in his home state Bayelsa state, it is important that all well wishers know that the place of his presidency amongst the array of Presidential candidates seeking your votes com April. Since the time of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria has never seen another bridge builder like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Maybe this assertion will become clearer with time. Permit me once again to introduce him here.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, and President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was born to a humble Niger Delta family of canoe makers on November 20, 1957. He attended St. Stephens and St. Michaels Primary Schools, Oloibiri, finishing in 1969. He proceeded to Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, where he passed his West African School Certificate with flying colours in 1975.
On completion of his secondary education, he worked as a Preventive Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service for two years before proceeding to the University of Port Harcourt as one of the pioneer students of the new University nestling on the shores of the Choba River. He graduated with Second Class Upper honours in 1981. In 1985 and 1995 he studied for his Master’s and Ph.D degrees in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology, and Zoology respectively, from the same University. But this was not until he had completed his mandatory one year of National Youth Service in Iresi, old Oyo State, and now Osun State of Nigeria.
Returning to the warm embrace of family and friends in 1982, he was appointed as Science Inspector of Education, Rivers State Ministry of Education, while studying in between for his post-graduate and graduate degrees. Between 1983 and 1993 he took up employment as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Science, Rivers State College of Education. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Director (Ecology of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in charge of Environmental Protection. He resigned his job in 1998 and went into politics.
His honesty, simplicity, charisma, quiet strength and determination made him an ideal running mate to Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha on the Bayelsa People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and gubernatorial ticket. They won the elections, and he served as a Deputy Governor from 1999 to 11 December 2005. On 12 December that year, he became the substantive Governor of Bayelsa State.
It wasn’t long after that fate once again beckoned. He was busy preparing for re election to his first full term as substantive governor, when the PDP, which is the largest political party in Africa, nominated him as running mate to the Presidential candidate, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua. After a keenly contested election, the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket won, and on May 29, 2007, he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s Vice President.
Precisely on February 9, 2010, Dr. Jonathan assumed office as Nigeria’s Acting President by virtue of a National Assembly resolution empowering him as Acting President, following President Yar’Adua’s long absence for medical attention in Saudi Arabia. This popularized the doctrine of necessity. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn-in on May, 6, 2010 as President, Commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the passing away of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010.
Dr. Jonathan has received several local and international awards. He was voted the ‘Best performing Deputy Governor’ in 2002 by IPAN, given the ‘Democracy and Good Governance Award’ by Nigeria Union of Journalists in 2004. The Africa International News magazine league conferred on him the ‘Niger Delta Development Award’; the Nigerian Bar Association, the ‘Distinguished Personality’ award in 2006, and the All African Students Union in South Africa, the ‘Africa Leadership Award 2006’.
Additionally, the Nigerian Union of Teachers voted him the ‘Best Performing Governor in Education in the South-South’ in 2006. He was also recognized by the International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) in 22 July 2006, with ‘Ambassador for Peace Merit Award’ as well as the ‘Leadership and Good Governance Merit Award’. There is no complete introduction of the President without mentioning the indefatigable First Lady Dame Goodluck Jonathan who is actually the engine room behind the President’s success.
As Bayelsa’s turn out in large numbers led by Governor Timipre Sylva to welcome a man whose personality has literally shut down all quarrels between brothers in the State, it is expected that all political parties and their supporters will be represented a this unique rally of solidarity. The only problem to grapple with is space and consideration for the safety of the crowd. Organizers are toying with the idea of setting up huge screens TV screens for those who cannot make it into the Stadium. The last time he visited Otueke the logistic problem forced some visitors to watch the event on television from their hotel suites. .This time around the focus is on accrediting only leaders and representatives of the people to such rallies but in Yenagoa, the President is likely to interact directly with the crowd of his home State.