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Cameroon:Significant Course Of Correction Needed To Avoid State Collapse-Dr Chris Fomunyoh
November 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Dr Chris Fomunyoh  says the government should release all political prisoners and detainees not charged with violent crimes and held solely because of the Anglophone crisis, and create an enabling environment for high-level, genuine dialogue to seek long lasting solutions

Dr Chris Fomunyoh says the government should release all political prisoners and detainees not charged with violent crimes and held solely because of the Anglophone crisis, and create an enabling environment for high-level, genuine dialogue to seek long lasting solutions

The president of The Fomunyoh Foundation (TFF), Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh has expressed concerns over the process and outcome of the recent presidential elections in Cameroon.  In a strongly worded statement issued today, Dr Fomunyoh, a highly respected expert on democracy and electoral matters in Africa said, while the efforts of the citizens and candidates were commendable, it was regrettable that their hopes for genuine democracy and meaningful change through the ballot box did not materialize, putting the legitimacy of the presidential election in question.

In a previous statement released in July, Fomunyoh had shared concerns on the political and security environment in the country, and categorically stated that the country was ill-prepared for the poll. He had also said the handling of the whole electoral process had left many Cameroonian wondering about the impact of these polls and the future of democracy in the country. This included concerns about the inability to conduct elections in the Anglophone regions of the North West, and South West; the lack of transparency in the tabulation and transmission of election results nationally; the contentious litigation of electoral disputes, and lack of unanimous acceptance of results.

He lamented that the killings in the Anglophone regions continue unabated, and every additional loss of life deepens the pain and suffering and further undermines prospects for national reconciliation. He added that the legitimacy of the presidential election outcome is contested by the main opposition candidate and many Cameroonians.

“Cameroon is more divided, more polarized, more fragile and more insecure than ever before in its modern history. Despite the legal trappings of today’s government, its legitimacy is seriously questioned by millions of our fellow compatriots and friends of Cameroon across the world. The credibility of many of our key institutions, including the newly established Constitutional Council, is at stake. Force, physical violence, hate speech, and ethnic stigmatization have become instruments of choice in public discourse and impact negatively interactions between state authorities and civilian populations,” Fomunyoh said

I call on the government to take concrete measures to regain peace, rebuild the country’s reputation and restore the dignity of Cameroonians.

I call on the government to take concrete measures to regain peace, rebuild the country’s reputation and restore the dignity of Cameroonians.

He however, demanded a significant course of correction to avoid more violence, further disintegration, and eventual state collapse. He concluded his statement by the submission of a ten point recommendations saying,

On Peace and Security: We need a holistic, comprehensive approach to stop the killings.

 

1) Release all political prisoners and detainees not charged with violent crimes and held solely because of the Anglophone crisis, and create an enabling environment for high-level, genuine dialogue to seek long lasting solutions.

 

2) Order an immediate ceasefire and lift curfews in the North West and South West regions to restore normalcy, enable youth to resume gainful employment, and facilitate the return of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees.

 

3) Stop immediately the killings and destruction of property in Anglophone regions, and all forms of violence against civilians and security personnel.

 

On Elections: The contested legitimacy of the electoral outcome cannot be ignored.

 

4) To dissipate the lingering cloud of illegitimacy over the election results, commit an international reputable auditing firm such as Price Waterhouse Cooper or Deloitte & Touche to conduct a technical audit of ELECAM documents related to the October 2018 presidential poll.

 

5) Make public the findings of such international audit in order to restore confidence in elections and the institutions in charge of electoral administration and oversight.

 

6) Launch immediately a high level Ad Hoc Committee on reforms to review the Constitution, election laws and other legal instruments, and propose by a set deadline recommendations on major reforms that must be undertaken in all sectors.

 

7) Assign the chairmanship of the Ad Hoc Reform Committee to an independent, seasoned, and well  respected jurist with an in-depth understanding of democratic governance processes.

 

8) Commit to implementing the reforms as soon as they are enacted, and prior to any further elections at the local, regional or national levels.

 

9) Under the new electoral framework to emerge from the Ad Hoc Reform Committee, organize early presidential elections that would allow for more transparent and credible polls whose legitimacy will not be questioned.

 

10) Avoid the manipulation of security and administrative services and pull back the country from the negative spiral of hate speech, ethnic stigmatization, violence and harassment of independent professionals, notably journalists, lawyers and teachers, who are pillars of every democratic society.

“I call on the government to take concrete measures to regain peace, rebuild the country’s reputation and restore the dignity of Cameroonians. This requires extraordinary steps, including those listed above, to address head-on the multiple crises we confront at this time,” Fomunyoh concluded his statement.

Fomunyoh, pictured here with Alassane Ouatrarra of Ivory Coast has a good track record of helping to facilitate dialogue and establishing democracies across Africa

Fomunyoh, pictured here with Alassane Ouatrarra of Ivory Coast has a good track record of helping to facilitate dialogue and establishing democracies across Africa

Fomunyoh who also doubles as Senior Associate and Regional Director for Africa and that Washington DC ,based National Democratic Institute is one of the first high profile opinion leaders to share proposals on the way forward for Cameroon as post-election tensions persist. Though he has resisted calls to run for President himself, many in Cameroon today  think that he may be one of those with right pedigree to play a mediating role in federating opinions as the country faces unprecedented crisis.

 

 

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Sports: Buhari Congratulates Super Eagles for 2019 AFCON Qualification
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday send a congratulatory message to the Super Eagles of Nigeria on
their qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The team’s 1-1 draw against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday had secured the
team the ticket.

In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President joined millions
of football-loving Nigerians in commending the team for theirspirited and disciplined performance against a
very formidable opponent which earned them qualification with the final match against Seychelles a mere
formality.

Having keenly followed the senior national football team’s progress in the qualifying stages, President Buhari
was enthused by their confidence, sense of patriotism and professionalism, and recommended these attributes to
other Nigerians.

He also commended the effort of the coaching crew, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Supporters
Club, especially Nigerians residing in South Africa who turned out in great numbers to cheer the players, for a
job well-done, and assured them of the unflinching support of the Federal Government going forward.

The President however wished the young Nigerian football ambassadors more successes as they prepare for the
AFCON tournament in Cameroon.

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Corruption Allegations: Oshiomhole meet Buhari
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

President Muhammadu Buhari on with Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

President Muhammadu Buhari on with Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

The ruling National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has dismissed allegations that he collected bribes of about $80 million to manipulate the outcome of the party primaries in some states and FCT.

The party chairman spoke after meeting Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

Some aggrieved aspirants are accusing Mr Oshiohmole of collecting various sums in bribes to twist the primaries.

Speculations are also gaining currency that he was last week interrogated by the Department of State Service (DSS) over the outcome of the recently conducted APC primaries.

An online media outfit which allegedly accused the APC chairman of collecting about $80 million in bribes, however, reported that Mr Oshiomhole had become a target after refusing $500,000 bribe cash from one of the aggrieved APC governors.

It reported that the affected governor had wanted the APC chairman to adopt his anointed governorship candidate.

It was gathered that many godfathers and governorship candidates were desperate for tickets but Mr Oshiomhole stood his ground that he will not compromise party guidelines, it further stated.

But, Mr Oshiomhole, who spoke to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, described the allegations of corruption against him as reckless insinuation.

“No tree that will bear fruits that will grow in Sahara desert and the fact the publisher of Saharareporters himself is a presidential aspirant; we would soon find out the difference between Sahara and its reporters, and a green forest and its reporters.

“The unfortunate thing here, however, is that people, who specialise in libels they take advantage of our peculiar judicial system. “When I was a governor in Edo state, they published all kinds of things against me. At a point I decided to go to court and my lawyer told me that I have to be ready to enter the witness box to make my case – whether I was ready to go through that humiliation.

“What is in the governorship? Before I became the governor I entered the witness box and I know after being governor I can still go back there one day. So I went there and I won the case. They awarded damages in my favour.

“But by the time you want to check the process of the guy who libeled you and so on, he sells himself everything put together he could not compensate for by legal fee not to talk of really mitigating my paying as a result of the judgment,’’ he said.

On the forthcoming campaign programmes of the APC, Mr Oshiohmole revealed that the party’s campaign for the 2019 presidential election would focus on character and integrity of the key candidates.

Mr Buhari is the APC presidential candidate while the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is presenting former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate.

According to the party chairman, the APC is fully ready to flag off the campaigns soon.

He said: “We are fully ready, we have done with our primaries and filled our nomination

“As you know, INEC still has a window between now and first of January to deal with issues of substitution. As of campaigns, we are ready.

“We are going to announce the date and programme for our campaigns. My idea of kick-off will be the day we will do our first presidential rally where Mr President as our candidate and other candidates, party leaders will assemble in a venue that will be agreeable to all of us.

“There will be two sets of messages. One, on what we have done in the past, without failing to remind people of where we were before, what we are going to do in the next four years, and a couple of things we believe we will be doing differently.“President Buhari if compared to the rest of the candidates, there is no basis to compare day and night. The real issue in this election is not going to be religion. It is not going to be about ethnicity.

“Central to the issue and given our past experience as a country, we know that what makes a difference is the character, the issue of integrity of the candidates.’’

According to Mr Oshiomhole, the campaign is going to be focusing on character and integrity of those who want to govern the country.

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Elections 2019: factors and projections
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

 The most important factor in the coming elections is that Muhammadu Buhari, the incumbent President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a powerful chief executive of state, is a candidate. He is seeking re-election into the office of President. That this is not a trivial or idle observation can be seen from a recent historical contrast, namely, that in the 2015 general elections, Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent President, was not the most important factor in those contests. He was not the most important factor because he was a weak chief executive of state at the time of the contests and in the period of preparations for them.

 

To steer clear of mystification I propose that to be powerful in the context of our discussion is to be in relatively firm control of one’s political/electoral platform and the critical institutions of state, especially those of “law and order”; it is to be in power and not be afraid or reluctant to deploy it or sluggish in deploying it. The historical contrast we are sketching is that in the period preceding, and during the 2015 general elections President Jonathan had lost control of both his party and the critical institutions of state. You cannot deploy what you do not control. To attempt to do so is taking a grave risk. But in the current corresponding period President Buhari appears to be in firm control of party and state—at least up to the time of writing this essay. And beyond this, he has demonstrated that he is not afraid to deploy the forces under his control.

 

Another important factor in Election 2019 was the wisdom or sheer luck of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in electing Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate. All the contestants in the party’s presidential primary election were obviously qualified in the context of the existing social order, political culture and dominant morality in Nigeria. But Atiku’s candidacy—judging by his political antecedents—appeared most likely to attract the widest and largest support possible for the party. Again, to demonstrate that this is not an idle, opportunistic, after-the-fact wisdom it will be enough to recall that in the 2015 presidential election, it was widely appreciated that the PDP candidate and incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, was not the best the party could offer—given both the dominant political culture and the political conjuncture at the time.

On the contrary, in the 2015 presidential election, the newly-formed All Progressives Congress (APC) put forward its best: General Muhammadu Buhari. We must here, as always, not forget that the dominant, if not the sole consideration of the main ruling-class contestants and their platforms was what to do to win. That remains their dominant or sole consideration in the present contest. And should any reader respond that the need to win has always been the dominant or sole aim of all contestants—Right or Left—in all modern elections, I would so No: The Nigerian Left has never, fortunately or unfortunately, consciously put electoral or non-electoral victory as a realizable political objective.  And yet, as an interested researcher would discover, committed leaders and cadres of the Nigerian Left had made huge selfless sacrifices in every general election since independence.

 

A couple of weeks ago, a Nigerian state governor belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) was reported in several media outlets to have predicted that although Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of his party, would defeat Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the latter would not be a “walk-over” in the contest. I found myself reflecting on this statement which must have been made out of frustration with political colleagues and assistants. In the course of my reflection, I brought out from vacation my concepts of “power blocs” and “political forces” in Nigeria’s contemporary political struggle—which, we must not forget, is completely dominated by the ruling class.

 

Only a number of reminders or explanatory notes need be summarized and inserted here. One: Nigeria’s power blocs and political forces developed from Nigeria’s ruling class, and are of the ruling class. Two: Political forces are “mini” power blocs which—being historically determined—may or may not develop into full-blown power blocs. Three: Power blocs and political forces are different from, and deeper than political parties. Four: There are only two power blocs in Nigeria, and this has been so since the end of the Civil War (1967-1970). Five: The centre of gravity of one of the power blocs is located in the north of the country while that of the other is located in the south. Six: Only an effective political intervention of the Nigerian Left can begin to dissolve these divisions or render them impotent or irrelevant.

 

We are not now in a position to see and appreciate what exactly led the state governor to make the statement attributed to him. But starting from that statement we may move in different directions to endorse or dismiss it.

 

I have chosen to employ the concepts of power blocs and political forces to endorse a revised version of the governor’s statement. That revised version is simply that neither Buhari nor Atiku would be a “push-over” in the coming presidential election. Further broken down, this revised version means that Buhari and Atiku would be the main presidential candidates and that the contest between them would be tough and tight. And the route I would suggest for endorsing that double statement is through an examination of the ongoing contest between Buhari and Atiku in each of the two power blocs and in the main political forces. We remind ourselves again that these power blocs and political forces are ruling class blocs and forces.

 

Starting from the last couple of months the most important preludes to Elections 2019 can be listed to include political defections, separations, combinations, re-alignments; governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States; enactment of electoral laws; registration of voters, distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards; compilation of voters’ registers, determination and designation of voting centres; conduct of party primaries to elect candidates; further defections in response to party primaries; maintenance of “law and order” by judicial, armed and unarmed institutions and agents of the state in response to actual breakdowns or in anticipation of breakdowns; and continuous political struggles of different forms and at different levels.

 

The different forms that the political struggle now assumes and the different levels at which it is waged include intra-party, inter-party, state-civil, intra-state, armed and unarmed, above-ground and underground. Also, to be listed is what is now known as “executive orders” of the president and of the presidency. In all these struggles (waged directly and through “preludes” listed above), money—in immediately usable currencies and in large, very large, volumes—is a primary and powerful weapon, second in overwhelming potency only to state power.

 

That a party and a candidate can lose an election even with superiority in these two forces—money and state power—proves that there is a limit to what either of them or even a combination of them can be used to do or ordered to do. And that an incumbent government can be effectively challenged in the control and deployment of the two forces is a powerful corollary. Do we need to add that these lessons are more important and useful to the Nigerian Left than to the factions, power blocs and political forces of Nigeria’s ruling class?

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

 

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APC a safe haven for corrupt politicians — CAN
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

The Christian Association of Nigeria says the All Progressives Congress (APC) is becoming a safe haven for corrupt politicians.

CAN stated this during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.

The visit was led by Samson Ayodele, president of CAN.

The Christian body said Buhari must clear the negative impression that the anti-corruption war was targeted at people that are not members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The association advised the president to make the war against corruption total and non-discriminatory in order to rid the nation of the “corruption cancer that has eaten deep into her fabrics”.

The association, however, commended the implementation of the treasury single account (TSA) and the bank verification number (BVN), saying it had led to the recovery of some looted funds.

“Like we categorically noted here during our last visit, the wish of the people is for the war against corruption to be total and without discrimination. Not a few believe that the ruling party is becoming a safe haven to some corrupt politicians in their bid to escape the trap of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” CAN said.

“CAN commends your boldness and courage in implementing the BVN and the treasury single account (TSA) system. There is no doubt that the two policies have greatly helped in sanitising the system.”

On the general election, CAN asked Buhari to improve on the credibility of the 2015 polls by ensuring a free and fair electoral process.

It urged Buhari to give a presidential order directing the police and other security agencies to be non-partisan during the elections.

“A presidential order to the police and other security agencies to be non-partisan, neutral and apolitical in the coming general elections, with a view to securing international respect and honour for our country in the comity of nations,” it said.

“We believe that the survival and peace of Nigeria are greater than the ambition of any politician.

“We again request that your administration conducts free and fair election that will add to the accolades the country received from the conduct of the 2015 elections that brought you to power.”

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Change corruption image – Akufo-Addo to Police Officers
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo-Addo, has admonished some one hundred and thirty five new Police Graduating officers to eschew all forms and temptations of Corruption as they assume office as senior officers of the Police Service. President Akufo-Addo in an address to the Graduation Parade of the 48th Officer Cadet Course of the Ghana Police Academy, said the Police Service is currently suffering low public image than it should have. Per the 2017 Afrobarometer Report,  92 percent of respondents believe that “some, most or all” police officers are involved in corruption. The Ghanaian leader said new officers must join the fight against corruption in the Service and not to compound it, stressing that “it can no longer be the status quo”.

“The citizenry can only have confidence in the Police Service when they are seen to be honest, and prepared to enforce the law without fear or favour. I am comforted by the fact that the current leadership of the Police Service is determined to buck this trend, and you, our newly graduating class, should assist in this endeavor,” the President said.

Resources for the Police

On resourcing of the Ghana Police Service, the President indicated that “Government, in December 2017, acquired some one hundred and eight (108) vehicles for the Service, and in support of Operation Calm Life; and I followed this up, three weeks ago, when I handed over two hundred (200) Toyota vehicles for use by the Police,” the President said.

Furthermore, President Akufo Addo said, “the construction of three hundred and twenty (320) housing units to ease the problems of accommodation is ongoing, and the numerical strength of the Service is being boosted by the recruitment of four thousand (4,000) men and women this year alone.”

Promotions in the Police Service

The President also indicated that a considerable backlog of promotions of personnel have been cleared during this 22 months of his administration.

“Between January 2017 and now, some twenty-two (22) months, a total of seven hundred and ninety-five (795) promotions of senior police officers, and sixteen thousand, six hundred and twenty-three (16,623) promotions of junior ranks, have been effected,” he added. The President assured that Government will continue to ensure that the police personnel are properly trained, properly equipped and provided with incentives to enable them discharge professionally their duties and obligations without interference from any quarters.

“We are also developing a comprehensive policy to enhance the professional competence and capacity of the police to assist them in dealing with cyber-crimes and cyber security related issues. Additionally, the Marine Unit of the Service will be resourced to work in tandem with the Ghana Navy to deal effectively with threats to our maritime boundaries and resources,” the President added. Whilst acknowledging that there are still some issues to be addressed, the President reiterated the commitment of Government to ensuring that “accommodation and equipment needs of the Ghana Police Service” are systematically resolved to enhance efficiency and morale.

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Minority walks out of Parliament over new regions Act
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament has staged its first walk out of the third meeting for second time in the seventh Parliament. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mps walked out during the adoption of the Constitutional Instrument, CI, for the creation of 6 new regions in protest of the Speaker’s refusal to recognize some members from their side including minority leader Haruna Iddrisu and Adaklu Member of Parliament Kwame Agbodza Governs.

The Adaklu legislator had wanted to raise the issue of lack of adequate numbers in the house for a decision on the subsidiary legislation committee’s report on the creation of the 6 new regions. According to minority chief whip Muntaka Mubarak, the Adaklu MP wanted to draw speaker’s attention that the House did not have quorum to take a decision on the CI.

Muntaka Mubarak said “ So if the speaker is crowding the space for us to be able to even do our work, then we have no business there. Use the procedures that we have, but you can’t just with the greatest respect, abuse the rules, abuse the constitution, and expect the minority to continue to sit there. Democracy comes with checks and balances, democracy is not just mob action.” Accusing the speaker of intolerance.

“You have numbers so you just do what you want. Some of these things are so important such that in many parliaments, they no longer even use voice votes again. They want the recording constituency by constituency and our machine has that facility so that you see how every constituency has voted but we are not using it. We continue to use voice votes, even when the rules provide that after the voice votes you can call for the other actions you won’t be allowed to do it. It becomes so worrying, it becomes so frustrating that you just don’t know what to do than to have this spontaneous walkout,” Muntaka said.

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How Ghana made itself the African home for a return of the black diaspora
November 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu*

U.S. president Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha stand at the “Door of No Return” during their visit to the Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, July 11, 2009.

U.S. president Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha stand at the “Door of No Return” during their visit to the Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, July 11, 2009.

In a recently released music video, Fuse ODG and Damian Marley (Bob Marley’s youngest son) explore the themes of slavery, colonialism, black pride and modern day police brutality. ‘Bra Fie’(which translates from the Ghanaian language Akan as “Come Home”) is an Afrobeats tune that harks back to the pan-Africanist themes of some of the older Marley’s anthemic hits. But it could also be a soundtrack for a potential wave of “homecoming” to Ghana for people of African descent.

August 2019 will make it 400 years since the anchoring of an English ship in Jamestown, Virginia carrying a small group of enslaved Africans. While African slaves had been in other parts of the Americas region (including the United States) before 1619, that year is widely regarded as the commencement of the African slave trade to North America.

In all, the Transatlantic slave trade from Africa to the New World lasted four centuries (1444-1888) and involved nearly all the European powers.

Right from the founding of modern Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah preached a pan-Africanism that transcended the shores of Africa.

When Brazil became the last country to abolish the slave trade in 1888, an estimated 17 million African women and men had been seized from the continent and transported to plantations across the Americas—a conservative figure that UNESCO admits excludes the many who died on the way and were thrown into the high seas. Many of the enslaved Africans came from West Africa and the present-day nation of Ghana was a significant place of origin. To mark the landmark anniversary, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo in October, declared 2019 as “The Year of Return”, launching a series of programs that would seek to encourage people of African ancestry to make the“birthright journey home for the global African family.” The idea of a homecoming of “our brothers and sisters” who were taken away is one that Ghana has long fancied and championed.

Birth of a Nation

Right from the founding of the modern nation, early Ghanaian leaders led by the first president Kwame Nkrumah preached pan-Africanism, one that transcended the shores of continental Africa. As a student in 1930s and 1940s America, Nkrumah saw at first hand the racism black Americans endured and it radicalized his own consciousness about Africanness and blackness. In some ways, it was a driving force for him to return home in 1947 and eventually become the lead architect of Ghana’s independence—the first sub-Saharan African country to break free from European colonialism.

(AP PHOTO)
President Kwame Nkrumah speaking at the White House on Mar. 8, 1961

The civil rights movement in the United States was also at its height and many black American leaders at the time felt a connection to this new black African country that had gained self-determination in a largely peaceful manner. Leading civil rights leaders including Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King, Ralph Bunche (the first person of color to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950) and Mordecai Johnson (the first African American president of Howard University) attended Ghana’s Independence Day celebration on Mar. 6, 1957.

Nkrumah and Ghana made a huge impression on Martin Luther King, which later inspired one of his famous sermons “Birth of a Nation’upon his return to the US. Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali also made high profile visits to the country years later. The black star on the national flag is inspired by the Black Star Line shipping company founded by pan-Africanist orator Marcus Garvey, which had the grand ambition of facilitating the return of African Americans to the motherland.

Accra has also been home to black American thinkers and exiles such as Maya Angelou (for three years along with her son Guy), Sylvia Boone (the first tenured black woman professor at Yale University), Julian Mayfield, W.E.B Du Bois and George Padmore, all of whom lived and worked in Ghana. Du Bois and Padmore are buried in the city and their homes are now public libraries.

But even before this period, Accra had long been home to the Tabon people, a group of African slaves in Brazil who returned after a popular slave rebellion. The Tabons arrived in Accra in 1820s and 1830s and their descendants have fully assimilated into Ghanaian social and political life.

Black Mecca

Positioning Ghana as the home of global Africa and the place for a spiritual journey of self-discovery has been an idea promoted by governments since Nkrumah. The country has been host to the biennale PANAFEST/Emancipation Day celebration since 1992 and in 2001, the Right of Abode law was passed, giving anybody of African ancestry in the Americas, the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely. On the occasion of Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary in 2007, the Joseph Project was launched to also encourage the descendants of enslaved Africans to return. In December 2016, 34 ‘returnees’ became Ghanaians in a naturalization ceremony attended by then president John Mahama. “I have only restored to you what rightfully belongs to you and was painfully taken away,” president Mahama said after handing out the naturalization certificates.

Dr Ọbádélé Kambon was one of the 34 and has lived in Ghana for 10 years. He first came to Ghana for a visit in 1998 with his mother, Dr Mawiyah Kambon who first came to Ghana in 1972 after adopting the Akan traditional spiritual system. “Back in the 1960s, many of us came to understand that we are not white people so why should we have white names? My parents had that level of consciousness before my birth so they decided to give me the name Ọbádélé which translates from Yoruba as ‘the king arrives [or returns] home,’” he says.

COURTESY DR ỌBÁDÉLÉ KAMBON
Dr Ọbádélé Kambon installed as a Ghanaian chief

After some years teaching in tertiary institutions in Chicago, Kambon moved to Ghana in 2008 and started his doctoral studies in linguisticsin 2009 at the University of Ghana, where he now teaches at its Institute of African Studies. He is a near native speaker of Akan (Ghana and Ivory Coast) and Yoruba (Nigeria, Benin), proficient in Wolof (Senegal, Gambia) and has some level of competency in Kiswahili (East Africa) and Kikôngo (Angola, DR Congo and Congo Republic).

Kambon, 39, puts Ghana’s hegemony as the home of black people, down to better packaging compared to some of its neighbours. Just like the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Ghana has the infrastructure to back its narrative—by way of the well preserved European slave forts and castles on the coast, where captured women and men were loaded onto ships, never to return home. The visibility of the castles have increased following recent high profile, emotional visits by the Obamas, CNN’s Don Lemon and Colin Kaepernick.

AP PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER
Cape Coast Castle on the Gulf of Guinea in Cape Coast, Ghana,

“Freedom from fear”

While this is not the first time Ghana is seeking to encourage a return, the rising popularity of ancestry DNA tests coinciding with police brutality and the reawakening of white nationalism have rekindled a desire with some African Americans to more about their roots now more than ever.

“A friend said, “This is what it must feel like to be white in America.””

Kambon feels there are advantages to moving to Ghana, telling the story of a friend who had also moved to Ghana. “He said, ‘This is what it must feel like to be white in America”. You’re able to walk around freely, nobody is going to do something to you just because you are black because everybody around you is black. In the US, police come around you and your heart skips a beat, here, there is a level of freedom from fear that can’t be purchased.”

The official policy of welcoming returnees has been backed largely by local attitudes. While there is an awareness of the otherness of returnees, Kambon says many ordinary Ghanaians see him as one of them. His ability to speak a local language and his adherence to the Akan traditional spiritual system has particularly endeared him to local chiefs. Kambon (just like famous returnee Rita Marley) has even been enstooled in a chiefdom in eastern Ghana where he bears the title “ruler of the rearguard.”

REUTERS/LUC GNAGO
Elmina Castle in Cape Coast was used as a trading post for slaves in the 15th century.

Aside from sentimental reasons, the return of the African diaspora is economically pragmatic for Ghana. The tourism ministry is coordinating activities for The Year of Return along with private agencies and it hopes the pilgrimages will boost tourism in Ghana. Tourism could add $5 billion to Ghana’s economy by 2027, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council [pdf p.5] and this is a prospect the government is looking to explore. The government is also not losing sight of the investment potential and human capital of the highly educated “returnees” like Kambon, who decide to move permanently to Ghana.

For 21 years, he and his mother have been organizing return tours to give people a feel of life in Ghana. Kambon says he has received about 60 consultations on repatriation to Ghana in recent weeks, however he always advises using an Akan proverb that translates as “A person doesn’t use their two feet to measure the depth of the river” to encourage short visits before making the final decision to move.

*Culled from Quartz Africa

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A Year Without Mugabe: Is Zimbabwe Progressing or Regressing?
November 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

In this Dec. 17, 2016, file photo, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses people at an event before the closure of his party's 16th Annual People's Conference in Masvingo, south of the capital, Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Dec, 17, 2016 file photo, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses people at an event before the closure of his party’s 16th Annual Peoples Conference in Masvingo, south of the capital Harare. Mugabe celebrates his 93 birthday Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, with celebrations set for Saturday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

On November 14 2017, at sunset, military tanks were seen rolling into Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. The first people to catch glimpses of the military tanks quickly took snapshots and went onto their social media platforms to post the news. In less than an hour, the news of the military tanks rolling into the capital had reached most parts of the country. In the following minutes and hours, rumours started to do rounds both online and offline with regards to the military tanks. No one among the civilians and the media knew exactly what was happening.

It was only in the early hours of November 15, 2017, that the whole of Zimbabwe and indeed the world came to know why military tanks had stationed in the capital city when the then Major-General Sibusiso Moyo appeared on national television announcing that President Mugabe was confined to his home but is safe and sound. According to Moyo, the reason why military tanks had rolled into the capital city was to arrest ‘criminals’ surrounding the president (Robert Mugabe).

Soon after the announcement by Major-General Moyo, there was delirium among Zimbabwean citizens. The country was in a state of joy in the aftermath with thousands attending a mass protest on November the 18th demanding Robert Mugabe to resign. A few days later, the unthinkable happened, the 37-year rule of Mugabe came to an end. For the first time since the country’s independence in 1980, Zimbabwe would be having a new president. The man chosen to replace Mugabe was his former aide in Emmerson Mnangagwa who had been in government since 1980 serving different portfolios from the Ministry of Justice to heading the country’s intelligence organization.

Thousands thronged the National Sports Stadium when Mugabe’s replacement, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as the country’s new president on November 24 2017. Among those who attended were the country’s main opposition leaders in (the late) Morgan Tsvangirai and his then deputy who is now the leader of the opposition Nelson Chamisa. Everyone in the country saw this as a new dawn and as Mnangagwa said on his inauguration, it was a ‘new dispensation’.

One year later after his inauguration, Mnangagwa’s stock has sharply declined (in spite of him winning the presidential election). In many quarters, the fall in Mnangagwa’s stock signifies the regression of the country ever since he took power. Below, let’s explore some of the key factors which played a huge role in Mnangagwa’s decline.

Failure to Foster Unity

When Mnangagwa preached about the start of a new dawn, many people thought that he would start by apologizing for the wrongs he did in the past. During the early years after independence, hundreds if not thousands of people from Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland and Midlands region were butchered by the military and the state security agents. At the time, Mnangagwa was the country’s head of the intelligence sector and as such, was viewed to be part and parcel of those who orchestrated the massacre. However, Mnangagwa has proclaimed his innocence ever since despite overwhelming evidence suggesting he played a key role in the massacre. With everyone expecting him to acknowledge and apologize for his part in the massacre, Mnangagwa decided to preach ‘letting bygones be bygones’. This angered a large section of people from Matabeleland and Midlands who simply see him as a man who cannot reform and as such a man who cannot unify the nation.

Reluctance to Be Tough On Corruption

In the last decade, Zimbabwe has become a haven for looters with most of these being government officials. It was therefore expected by many that one of Mnangagwa’s first priorities would be to go tough on corruption to win the love and support of the ordinary man. However, soon after his inauguration, Mnangagwa decided to appoint as ministers some officials who are widely considered to be corrupt. This angered the nation. While he managed to dumb some of them later on when he made his cabinet selection after winning the presidential election in July, the nonexistence of any top government official to be convicted suggests that Mnangagwa does not want or fears imprisoning those that he ‘ate’ with.

Sincerity

One of the things which widened the rift between citizens and Mugabe was that Mugabe was seen as detached from the struggles of the majority. While this on paper would seem to be a simple thing to rectify for Mnangagwa, the opposite has happened to this day. Just to illustrate this, Mnangagwa forked out over a million dollars to hire a private jet to fly in the former first lady when her mother died. However, some weeks later when the nation was facing a deadly cholera crisis, the Mnangagwa administration managed to ‘chip in’ with a paltry $100,000.

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on as his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa reads a card during Mugabe's 93rd birthday celebrations in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe looks on as his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa reads a card during Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

Issue of Human Rights

One of the main reasons cited by the US and other western countries and organizations when they slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions was that Robert Mugabe failed to respect human rights. This, therefore, meant Mnangagwa had a perfect chance to paint himself in a positive way by just taking the necessary steps to respect human rights. However, the August 1 events and the subsequent setting up of a farcical commission just dampened his claims of being a reformist and a respecter of human rights.

On the Bright Side

Re-engagements Paying Off

At his inauguration, Mnangagwa said that he will be prioritizing reengagement as he wants Zimbabwe to start building relationships with the countries that it had frosty relations with in the past. True to his word, Mnangagwa went on a diplomatic offensive charming western nations and organizations to start seeing Zimbabwe in a positive way. Countries such as the US, Britain, Australia and others that previously had not sent official delegations to Zimbabwe in years were able to send some top-level delegations.

 

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Eritrea breakthrough as UN sanctions lifted
November 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed (left) and Eritrea's Isaias Afwerki (right) have ended travel restrictions between the two countries

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed (left) and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki (right) have ended travel restrictions between the two countries

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to lift sanctions against Eritrea after nine years.

An arms embargo, asset freeze, and travel ban were imposed in 2009 amid claims Eritrea supported al-Shabab militants in Somalia. Eritrea always denied the accusations.

The resolution, drafted by the UK, was backed by the US and its allies.

The UN vote comes amid a thaw in relations between Eritrea and its neighbours following years of conflict.

BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper says the politically repressive state had long been a global pariah, and was likened by some commentators to North Korea.

Eritrea agreed a peace deal with Ethiopia in June following two decades of animosity, while the leader of Eritrea and the UN-backed government in Somalia recently signed a joint cooperation agreement.

Why were sanctions imposed?

The resolution, backed by 13 votes in favour, was passed after the UN Security Council accused Eritrea of arming, training and equipping armed groups including al-Shabab.

The UN had frequently expressed concern about the flow of weapons into Somalia, where Islamist militants were battling government forces for control of the capital Mogadishu.

Eritrea has also been criticised for human rights abuses and mandatory national service conscription, which has led to tens of thousands of young Eritreans fleeing the country for Europe.

The asset freezes and travel ban affected individuals and businesses, as well as the Eritrean leadership.

However, the Council members now quote experts as saying there was no proof Eritrea backed al-Shabab.

What does Eritrea say?

The Eritrean government has always denied supporting al-Shabab militants, calling the claim a “fabrication” created by US intelligence officials. Ethiopia is a close ally of the US, especially in the fight against al-Shabab.

When they were imposed, Araya Desta, Eritrea’s ambassador to the UN, dismissed the sanctions as “ludicrous punitive measures”.

Eritrea occupies a strategic location on the Red Sea, which connects Europe, Africa and the East. However, its economy has suffered after years of sanctions.

The Eritrean government now says it wants compensation for the sanctions, which it insists were politically motivated.

Presentational grey line

How peace has broken out in the Horn of Africa

By Emmanuel Igunza, BBC News, Addis Ababa

Since the sanctions were imposed, Eritrea has lobbied and fought hard against them. But three times over that period, the UN Security Council has always voted to maintain them, claiming the country was a destabilising factor in the Horn of Africa region.

But all that seems to have changed after Eritrea signed a landmark agreement with Ethiopia in June, committing to end a bitter two-decade dispute.

Since then, diplomatic ties have resumed and both air and land transport between the two countries have re-opened.

The bromance between Ethiopian’s new reformist leader Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Aferweki seems to have rubbed on neighbouring leaders.

Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have now signed a joint agreement of cooperation, and leaders of the three countries have met personally on three different occasions this year – something that hadn’t happened in years.

Relations between Eritrea and Djibouti are also thawing after years of a border dispute. There is now even an ambitious talk of the Horn of Africa countries forming an economic bloc of sorts.

Many analysts believe that there are still many issues like the border disputes to resolve before that can be achieved, but so far leaders of the region are daring to believe.

*BBC

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Ghana: Trades Union demands cut in electricity tariff by 15% as government presents 2019 budget.
November 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Ghana is demanding a 15% reduction in electricity tariff and an additional 12% cut in water bills a day before the finance minister presents the 2019 budget.

In a statement, the TUC said their demand will spur growth for the economy if the PURC listens.

“In 2019, it is expected that the price of fuel and natural gas will reduce. Inflation is also expected to decline to a single digit and the value of the Ghana Cedi is expected to be stable.   Therefore, we propose a further reduction of electricity tariff by 15 percent and a reduction in water tariffs by 12 per cent.  We strongly believe that a further reduction in tariffs will stimulate economic growth that could lead to increased job creation,” the statement said.

It also noted: “A review of the tariff structure to levels that can be considered “cost reflective”, as recommended by the Fitchner Report, can lead to over 400 per cent increase in tariffs for small residential customers from GH¢0.39 /kWh to GH¢1.97 /kWh, as a result of the removal of cross-subsidies”.

The country’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta is billed to present the 2019 budget statement to Parliament on Thursday November 15.

Below are details of the statement submitted to PURC.

INTRODUCTION

We recall that earlier this year, the PURC announced the reduction of electricity tariffs as shown in the table below:

According to the PURC, the main factors that informed the reduction in electricity tariffs included:

  • Consumer Interest;
  • Investor Interest;
  • Economic Development;
  • Revenue Requirement;
  • Natural Gas prices;
  • Re-negotiation of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs);
  • Prudent and efficient costs of the operations of the utility companies; and
  • The impending Private Sector Participation (PSP)/Concession within the electricity distribution Sector.

We believe that the reduction in tariffs played a significant role in the growth of the economy. It is against this backdrop that we make the following proposals for the consideration of PURC in the review of tariffs for 2019.

PROPOSALS FOR TARIFF REVIEW

  1. Efficiency

We would like to highlight the need to attach more weight to the “prudent and efficient costs of the operations of the utility companies”. In our view, there are still inefficiencies in the utility sector that are being passed on to consumers.

We expect PURC to provide consumers with its regulatory benchmarks for efficiency to convince us that the operational costs of utility companies are in line with the standards of best practice.

  1. Excess Capacity of the IPPs

In our previous submission, we raised issues about the excess capacity of the Independent Power Producers (IPPs). This is still valid. The consumer should not be burdened with the payment for excess capacity. It is very unfair to pass on the cost of excess capacity to consumers, especially working people, whose wages and salaries do not match the rate of increase of electricity tariffs.

Government has promised to review the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). But we are not aware of any practical steps toward the review of the PPAs most of which were signed under emergency conditions that can hardly pass the transparency and ‘value for money’ tests.

Consumers, especially working people, should not be forced to pay for the cost of electricity that results from bad policies in the power sector.

  1. Lifeline and Cross Subsidies

We are aware of the Tariff Study conducted by Fitchner Management Consulting which was funded by the Millennium Challenge Cooperation and Millennium Development Authority. The main recommendation of the study is that the four consumption blocks of the residential customers should be reduced to two consumption blocks of 0-50kWh and 51kWh+.

A review of the tariff structure to levels that can be considered “cost reflective”, as recommended by the Fitchner Report, can lead to over 400 per cent increase in tariffs for small residential customers from GH¢0.39 /kWh to GH¢1.97 /kWh, as a result of the removal of cross-subsidies.

We would like to advise PURC to ignore this recommendation because if tariffs are increased to such levels it could lead to social unrest.

  1. ECG Concession

The Government of Ghana, Power Distribution Services of Ghana Limited and ECG have signed transaction agreements which have been ratified by Parliament. The status of ECG as an electricity distribution company would, therefore, change to asset owner and a bulk energy trader from 1st February 2019. Consumers are yet to be informed of the effects of such major policy change in the electricity distribution on electricity tariff.

We urge PURC to ensure that this arrangement will not lead to higher tariffs.

  1. Befesa Desalination Plant

The Befesa Desalination plant which was commissioned in 2015 on the basis of a Build, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) Water Purchase Agreement between the Ghana Water Company Limited and Befesa Desalination Development Ghana Limited has become a big financial drain on Ghana Water Company Limited.  It is an albatross which is draining the GWCL of $ 1.42 million every month in capacity charge alone.

The cost of operating the Befesa Desalination Plant must not be passed on to consumers.

 CONCLUSION

In 2019, it is expected that the price of fuel and natural gas will reduce. Inflation is also expected to decline to a single digit and the value of the Ghana Cedi is expected to be stable.   Therefore, we propose a further reduction of electricity tariff by 15 percent and a reduction in water tariffs by 12 per cent.  We strongly believe that a further reduction in tariffs will stimulate economic growth that could lead to increased job creation.

 

 

 

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Africa Investment Forum 2018: a new bold vision tilts capital flows into Africa
November 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
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