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What will it take for 2020 to truly be the year of Gas in Nigeria?
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

Naming 2020 the year of gas for Nigeria has a really nice ring to it, but marketing alone will not cut it

By NJ Ayuk *

Chief Timipre Sylva has declared 2020 as the year of Gas for the Nation

“The Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva has declared 2020 as the year of Gas for the Nation”, the news piece started. What amazing news! And certainly long overdue. As it seems, Nigerian officials have finally taken the cue. As I have said ever so often, more than an oil nation, Nigeria is a gas nation. It just doesn’t act like it.

Undoubtedly, natural gas has the enormous potential to diversify and grow the Nigerian economy, power its industries and homes, produce ever-so-lacking wealth, create jobs, develop associated industries in the petrochemical sector, raise people out of poverty, the list goes on.

Mr. Sylva’s demonstrated intent could perhaps become the most relevant political action anyone has taken in Nigeria in years and could change the country forever; and yet, the work ahead is so vast, we can only hope he has the strength to pull it off.

To be sure, naming 2020 the year of gas for Nigeria has a really nice ring to it, but marketing alone will not cut it. Concerted governmental action is essential if we are to see true growth in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector, and first of all, we need to see a conclusion to the long delayed Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme. Sylva stated that this was his main priority, so let’s hope it happens soon.

Once the programme is cleared, oil producers will have a more conclusive alternative to flaring. They will be able to monetize a resource that has so far been wasted, but still that will not suffice.

The flaring issue in Nigeria is tremendous. Every year, 2 million tonnes of LPG are flared, instead of being used as a source of power or feedstock. That means millions of dollars literally going up in smoke. Nigeria’s zero-flaring programme has been on-going for years, and yet, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has just released results that indicate that gas flaring has been consistently increasing over time. More specifically, “a total of 276.04 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas was flared from Nigeria’s oil fields between September 2018 and September 2019”. Further, NNPC stated that “the volume of gas flared within this period was more than what was supplied to power generation companies for electricity production which was 275.31bcf”. This is taking place in a country where 45% of the population does not have access to electricity, besides the extremely detrimental effect that has on businesses ability to compete and the extraordinary environmental damage that represents.

Already, the federal government announced in August that it would not be able to fulfill its Zero Routine Flaring target by 2020 and is yet to provide a new deadline for this goal to be achieved.

The problem remains the same as ever. It is much, much cheaper for producers to flare up and pay the fines than do anything about it. This can not continue to be. Stronger action is needed and it falls on Mr. Sylva’s leadership to see it done.

I don’t mean by this to point the finger at oil producers. Most would probably want to monetize that resource, and would if they could. But we lack legislation, infrastructure, pricing regulations, and actors ready to receive the feedstock. They can’t just pipe the gas somewhere and hope for the best. We need to focus on deepening domestic gas penetration and promote adoption amongst the population, foster the development of gas associated industries like ammonia and urea plants, use this resource for power generation, etc. Demand doesn’t grow out of nowhere.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva

For this to workout, everybody needs to work together. That means the ministry and the NNPC need to partner with the international oil companies, the indigenous oil companies as well as with the country’s financial institutions to create the solutions that can make this industry flourish. That is a tall job, but an essential one.

Of course, the news that the output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming from the Bonny LNG-plant is going to expand by 35% once the 7th LNG train is operational is fantastic. Nigeria will strengthen its position as one of the world’s biggest LNG exporters and that will bring considerable wealth for the country, but its people continue to be in the dark.

And LNG expansion projects are something IOCs are well prepared to do, but there are other important roles in boosting the gas industry that have to be taken by others.

I speak of course of marginal field development, a topic that is of fundamental importance to me and that I have extensively covered in my most recent book Billions at Play: The Future of African Oil and Doing Deals. Both for oil and gas, Nigeria’s marginal field development programme showed incredible promise when it was first launched in 2013. It gave opportunities to local companies to explore smaller discoveries that were uninteresting for the majors, which in turn allowed them to gain experience in leading exploration and production projects on their own. Further, it opened opportunities for domestic use of natural gas for power generation. That programme is now being copied by Angola, and yet, it has stalled in Nigeria.

Further, as I have extensively debated over the years, and most extensively in Billions at Play, we need to dramatically invest in Nigeria’s ability to negotiate and manage contracts. This applies both to the need to respect the sanctity of contracts, a fundamental part of giving international investors the confidence to trust that what they sign for will be respected, but also learning to choose who to sign contracts with. The current debacle with P&ID, an unknown little company that has managed to sue the Nigerian government for breach of contract in the English courts and is seeking USD$9.6 billion in compensation, is an incomprehensible situation that should never have taken place. We need to know who our partners are and who we should be signing contracts with, and then stick by them.

Only by combining the role of the majors, the indigenous companies, the necessary infrastructure development for gas transportation, bridging with the nation’s banks to help finance projects and by giving a clear legal framework to the sector, can we hope to succeed. I do not doubt that this is possible to accomplish in 2020 and the years to come, but coming from the experience of recent years, it does not seem probable, and no one pays the price for that more than everyday Nigerians, that continue to fail to benefit from its country’s resources.

Action is necessary as a matter of urgency.

This week it was disclosed that international oil and gas companies were holding back an estimated USD$58.4 billion in investments in oil and gas projects in Nigeria because of regulatory uncertainty. Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria was USD$1.9 billion in 2018. It’s not like we don’t need the money.

But how can we expect international oil companies to feel comfortable signing off on billions in investment if after 20-plus years of negotiations we still haven’t managed to settle on the Petroleum Industry Bill that will oversee the sector? Who can blame them for waiting to see what happens? They are waiting for us to figure out how we want to regulate the industry, and after 20 years, we still don’t seem to know. That has to change, and soon.

Nigeria has an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. It is high-time to put them to use. With the right policies we could change the face of the country completely. We could give light to our people, we could power our industries, releasing them from the handicapping dependency on diesel generators that make it all but impossible for them to be competitive, we could relinquish ourselves from our dependency on imported fuel for power and heat, we could create new opportunities for job creation and industrial development, we could take millions of people out of poverty… Further, strong domestic gas and gas-based industries could help boost intra-African trade, create new synergies with our neighbours, boost integration of power generation networks, establish new partnerships, even contribute to peace.

What I am saying, I say as an African, and it applies to many countries across the continent. However, Nigeria is in a prime position to truly enact change and be a beacon to others by showing leadership and resolve. It is the continent’s biggest economy and has the continent’s biggest reserves of hydrocarbons, both oil and gas. NNPC already works with some of the best major IOCs and the country has Africa’s best and most developed indigenous exploration and production capabilities. Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to be better and to live better, by taking advantage of the resources we already possess.

Mr. Sylva is showing leadership and drive. So far, he has proven himself to be the leader that Nigeria needs to develop new LPG and LNG industries that will take the country to the next level of development, not only economically speaking, but socially, environmentally, humanly. So let’s hope he can pull through the great transformations that need to occur for 2020 to truly be Nigeria’s year of gas.

*NJ Ayuk is the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and author of Amazon best-selling book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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U.S Renews Travel Advisory on DR Congo; Ebola among Root Causes
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M.Mupenda* 

President Tshisekedi of the DRC and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
President Tshisekedi of the DRC and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The United States of America has renewed its travel advisory on the Democratic Republic of Congo advising travelers to reconsider travel to some provinces due to crime, civil unrest, and Ebola.

The press release issued on this Thursday, January 2, 2020 by the Department of State warned people not to travel to North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces due to Ebola; North Kivu and Ituri provinces due to terrorism; the eastern DRC region and the three Kasai provinces due to crime, civil unrest, armed conflict and kidnapping.

“Violent crime, such as armed robbery, armed home invasion, and assault, is common and local police lack resources to respond effectively to serious crime.  Assailants may pose as police or security agents,” reads the release.

The advisory replaced previous Travel Advisory that was issued on April 9, 2019 but remained level three.

“Demonstrations are common in many cities and some have turned violent.  Police have at times responded with heavy-handed tactics that resulted in civilian casualties and arrests,” adds the release: “There is an outbreak of the Ebola virus in eastern DRC, which may affect other areas in the country.   The CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Notice for Ebola in the DRC.”

The U.S. government also says it has extremely limited ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens outside of Kinshasa due to poor infrastructure and security conditions.

Despite remaining at level three, the advisory changed to level four for some regions including North Kivu and Ituri Provinces due to existence of terrorist and armed groups that “have attacked military and civilian targets, and represent an ongoing threat to humanitarian aid workers and other NGO personnel operating in the area.”

The advisory also changed to level four for North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri Provinces due to outbreak of Ebola virus. 

“Violent crime, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele and three Kasai provinces of Kasai Oriental, Kasai Central, and Kasai,” the release adds.

Among the advises that U.S government gives to its citizens who travel to DRC include avoiding demonstrations, use caution when walking or driving, always having a copy of their U.S. passport and DRC visa and keep originals in a secure location and also reading the CDC Travel Notice on Ebola in the DRC.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.


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Over 2,000 Participants From 68 Countries Expected at CAX Weekend in Kigali
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
Nigerian musical sensation D’Banj is scheduled to perform at the CAX Weekend in Kigali.

Cairo, 02 Jan. 2020: – More than 2,000 participants from 68 countries are expected at the Creative Africa Exchange (CAX) Weekend which opens in Kigali on 16 January in what the organisers are describing as Africa’s first continental event dedicated to promoting exchange within the creative and cultural industry.

Organised by Times Multimedia (TMM) and sponsored by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and other partners, the three-day CAX Weekend will feature 250 exhibitors, including some of Africa’s leading talents. CAX Weekend is the opening act of a series of activities planned under the CAX Programme which seeks to bring together African creative talents from the music, arts, design, fashion, literature, publishing, film and television sectors.

According to information from the organisers, AITEO, the African Union, UNESCO and a number of other multilateral institutions are also partnering in CAX, which is a consolidated marketplace where buyers and sellers of goods and services from the creative and cultural industry can meet and explore business opportunities.

CAX Weekend is expected to give the exhibitors and participants the opportunity to network, create business opportunities, consider investment proposals and increase customer base. It will feature breakout sessions with investors and captains of industry, notable African and global actors, music stars and creative thought leaders from Africa and the Diaspora.

Speakers will include Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, American media personality Steve Harvey, actor Djimmon Hounsou, Oscar winning actor Idris Elba, representatives of the African Development Bank and senior government officials responsible for culture and the creative economy. Award winning Nigerian musician D’Banj and several other high-profile musicians are scheduled to perform.

CAX Weekend will also see the launch of MVMO, a new pan-African streaming service for movies, videos, music and opportunities that will serve as a distribution platform for the creative and cultural industry in Africa by deploying cutting-edge technologies to allow high performance streaming experience via mobile internet. MVMO is expected to help independent producers to publish and monetise their content.

The CAX programme is aimed at facilitating investments into cultural industries through education, trade, industrialisation and provision of critical infrastructure to support African economic transformation in alignment with continental initiatives, such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) rolled out by Afreximbank to stimulate trade among African countries. Launched during the inaugural IATF in Cairo in December 2018, CAX is the first exchange of its kind. The CAX Weekend will be followed by CAX Week to be held on the sidelines of IATF2020 in Kigali from 1 to 7 September

About Afreximbank: The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors. Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organization, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Since 1994, it has approved more than $67 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including $7.2 billion in 2018. Afreximbank had total assets of $13.4 billion as at 31 December 2018. It is rated A- (GCR), Baa1 (Moody’s), and BBB- (Fitch). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo. For more information, visit: www.afreximbank.com

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Gambia: First Lady Donates Gifts To 2020 Babies
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow personally presided over the presentation of cash prizes and baskets of gifts to the 2020 babies

As part of her New Year day engagements, First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow personally presided over the presentation of cash prizes and baskets of gifts to the 2020 babies born at the dawn of the New Year at health facilities in Banjul and Kanifing regions.

Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in Banjul, the Sere Kunda General Hospital in Kanifing and the Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital were each visited by the First Lady.

Similar presentations were made by delegates from the Fatou Bah-Barrow (FaBB) Foundation, who were dispatched to deliver cash prizes of D15, 000 and D10, 000 respectively to each of the first two babies born at major health facilities across the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Samateh described the event of welcoming new babies at the beginning of the New Year as promising. He applauding FaBB for providing support to the families and the hospitals. 

The Health Minister noted the support of the First Lady’s Foundation towards the modernisation taking place at EFST hospital and in the health sector in general.

“They brought in hundreds of beds, tens of equipment, a lot of support including construction materials donated to enable us achieve our goal of modernisation of the hospital. Patients have been supported at various levels; individual donations towards their upkeep in the facility and they have been there for us,” Minister Samateh asserted

Already, the tender for renovation of all health facilities is underway and 2020 is expected to usher in more progress in the sector. 

“There are a lot of equipment that have been procured and we are going to procure a lot more. We have started residency training. We have trained many and we will be training a lot more. Further training for the specialization of nurses are also prioritized so as to achieve our goals of a standard service delivery system in the sector.” The Health Minister revealed.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Bundung Maternal and Children Hospital states that 2019 recorded 4,286 deliveries. 365 (8.5%) were delivered by Cesarean section operations while 98% were delivered as life births. Only one maternal death was registered in 2019 and its resolution for 2020 is no maternal death. 

At the Kanifing Hospital, Senior Midwife, Isatou Cham said “It is definitely a true motivation for us the staff to work for the whole year and expecting your First Lady to come and say thank you to the staff; see fellow women who underwent pregnancy and child birth with handshakes and smiles. We are very appreciative.”

This year, Gamtel/Gamcel, Kar Power and Africell partnered to support the FaBB First Baby Event.  In addition, the medical staff on duty were also donated a token at the said facilities to motivate them for their services.

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Vice Prime Minister Melida Harris Barrow Of The State Of The African Diaspora Harps On Unity, Trade, And Collaboration In Ghana
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora
Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora

Kumasi Ghana December 29, 2019— At the invitation of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Dr. Barrow gave an iconic keynote speech address at the African Prime Leadership Awards ceremony held at Manhyla Palace. Dr. Barrow has been touring the world on a mission to link Africa with the Diaspora and the Diaspora with Africa.  

Along with Dr. Barrow, several Heads of State, local Chief’s, community leaders, and thousands of community members came out to support The Asantehene at the community Dubar Festival where the Ashanti Culture was on full display. The following evening December 29, 2019, a State Dinner was held to honor The Asantehene as he received The Pillar of Peace Award. 

During her keynote address Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora. She spoke on business opportunities and the need to support each other economically so we can progress into the future.  She stated “if we don’t do it, we are going to go another 400 years.”

She issued a call to action to “be strong, know that you have your brothers and sisters…we are waiting for you, don’t have us waiting to long.”

The State of the African diaspora has been formally established. On October 24, 2019.  The government will present its first actions and ongoing projects and launching of Global Parliaments having summits around the world. Summits will be in North America, Europe, South America, The Caribbean, Asia/Oceania and Africa.

The mission of the State of the African Diaspora and the 6th Region Economic Community is to connect Africa with its Diaspora and the Diaspora to Africa, as well as connecting the Diaspora to the Diaspora internationally. Its mission further extends to being a key participant in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa starts year with fresh threats of protests from the opposition
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Emmerson Mnangagwa

As 2020 kicks in, the situation continues to be dire in Zimbabwe.From increasing food prices, to fuel. Energy, electricity and transportation issues, Zimbabwe continues to be a country in crisis despite efforts from the government.

In the face of the crisis, the opposition led by Nelson Chamisa is threatening the Mnangagwa administration with fresh protests early in the year if things do not change .

Speaking in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second capital city Chamisa MDC Leader said the present Government has failed to come up with solutions to the challenges in the country. He added that the challenges are man-made hence the need for a political dialogue.

‘’The country’s problems are man-made. Yes they are political but they were created through improper administration. There is need for a dialogue to come to the real positive solution we need to make things become better.

‘’We are pushing to see to it that economic order is restored. The Zimbabwean situation has been there for some- time. People are left in severe poverty and vulnerability.

‘’In-fact we are pushing to see an end to this economic impasse. Secondly to restore socio-political and economic order. Thirdly to end all forms of poverty, suffering and hunger.’’

Chamisa continued his negative remarks while at a philanthropic visit where he gave food aid in bulk to Ekhuphumeleni Geriatric Nursing Home. This is an old people’s home which accommodates more than 100 old people.

‘’For this year we had to do something for the old people here in Bulawayo. There are many outside there in more poverty and vulnerability but we saw to it that the old people need much urgent help for now. For now we want a dialogue that is fair. I am ready for the sake of the people,’’ Chamisa concluded.

Chamisa  mobilised support from foreign Zimbabweans who are eager to help the majority of Zimbabweans who face food challenges on top of inflation , electricity , transport  and some many other thorny challenges still around .

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Suspected Alshabaab militants attack a passengers’ bus in Kenya’s coast
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Lamu police boss Irungu Macharia
Lamu police boss Irungu Macharia

Three people have been reported dead and the other three injured after a bus they were travelling in was allegedly attack by the Somali based terrorists, Alshabaab.

The reports indicate that the bus which ply Mombasa-Lamu route in the coastal region of the country was attacked by the gunmen on Thursday, January 2, 2020 during the midday at Nyongoro area, Lamu County.  Nyongoro area is one of the insecurity prone areas in the County due to its proximity to Boni Forest inhabited by the militants. It has witnessed numerous attacks in the past with the terrorists fleeing into the forest after ambush. 

Confirming the incident, Lamu police boss Irungu Macharia said that the killers emerged from the forest and flagged the vehicle down but the driver sped off after he suspected they could be terrorists. The attackers responded by spraying bullets at the bus killing the three on the spot.

“I can confirm three people were killed. Several others have been injured,” reiterated the police boss.

The death toll is expected to rise following the nature of the injuries sustained and the number of passengers who were in the vehicle is yet to be established, police source revealed. Security officers have been deployed in the area as man-hunt for the assailants commence.

“We are looking for the passengers’ list. We want to know how many people were in that bus and if everyone has been accounted for,” added Mr. Macharia.

Transportation along that road was terminated as police redirect the vehicles to other routes.

Early December last year 11 people were killed by the gunmen in bus attack in Wajir County, North Eastern of Kenya. The militants flagged down the bus and ordered the non-locals to alight before releasing the bus to proceed with the journey as they open fire at them. Eight police officers, two teachers and a doctor perished in the attack.

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DJ Neptune In The News For All The Wrong Reasons
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Moji Danisa*

DJ Neptune is a household name in the Nigeria entertainment industry.Photo credit Gidi Cultural Fest

DJ Neptune is arguably one of Nigeria’s best entertainers whose craft easily places him amongst the top 5 A-list DJs in the country in the last decade.

Until now, DJ Neptune has played in the high stakes, perfecting and honing his craft with accolades from industry watchers, entertainment writers and fans. He simply could do no wrong. Its plan to see that he was a natural when it comes to disk jockeying; he was born to spin the wheels of steel, while also churning out many hit songs in collaborations with other artistes that has catapulted his image as an icon in his genre of entertainment all over Africa and the world.

DJ Neptune has played it so safe that he kept his private life out of the public which was one of his most admired traits. He was simply seen as serious, smart, good-looking and respectful. Not many know that Neptune is married to the beautiful daughter of a General and they have a beautiful daughter together.

With other stars beginning to keep it clean, the industry is now ready for stars that would uphold family values and be good examples to the young generation. TuFace has generally cleaned his act since he got married and has successfully changed his Casanova perception in the public sphere. Davido has such respect and love for his wife Chioma that he flaunts her everywhere and makes marriage look pleasing and that perhaps is why Whizkid has vowed to get married this year too.

While these stars who were hitherto seen as bad boys are moving into good boy mode, Neptune sadly seems to be sliding into disrepute as he is beginning to not only flaunt girls who are not his wife on the social media of all places and changing his once admirable wardrobe into what many of his fans feel is a deviation from the clean cut, sharp dressing Neptune they fell in love with, not his new found juvenile style of dressing which has got many in the industry whispering their disapproval behind his back. His admirers and professional colleagues believe he can do far better to dress hip but not silly in tight fitting pants that are short in length and hugs his crouch like a juvenile’s.

Undoubtedly, critiques view Neptune as the most promising DJ to step into the shoes of the well respected Jimmy Jatt…he has proven he can so far but industry watchers are worried that his new persona may negate that dream.

An entertainment reporter said: ‘Neptune seems to be derailing from what he is known and loved for, which is, a bit of mystery, distance from groupies and seriousness, it is my hope that he recognizes this fact and goes back to form because he is one of those set to rule the next decade…if only he does not allow these new distractions he seems to be embracing”.

* Moji DanisaEditor in Chief, Paparazzi Magazine Online

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Africa’s Wealthiest Man Ends the Year $4.3 Billion Better Off
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 62-year-old Nigerian businessman and Africa’s most prominent industrialist ended the decade with a net worth of almost $15 billion

Aliko Dangote

LAGOS, Nigeria, January 2, 2020/ — Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, became $4.3 billion richer in 2019 as his fortune continued to grow on the back of investments in cement, flour and sugar.

The 62-year-old Nigerian businessman and Africa’s most prominent industrialist ended the decade with a net worth of almost $15 billion, making him the 96th wealthiest man in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Born into a wealthy Muslim family of traders in the north, Dangote incorporated his own business selling cement at 21. He shifted to manufacturing the building material in the 1990s, helped by government policies that encouraged ways to reduce the need for imports. His critics still accuse him of taking advantage of his closeness to the government to gain an unfair market advantage, a claim he has repeatedly dismissed.

His conglomerate, Dangote Industries, includes the biggest cement company on the continent, the Lagos-listed Dangote Cement Plc. That’s one of four publicly traded companies under the Dangote umbrella that account for more than a fifth of the value of the Nigerian stock exchange.

The year 2020 could be a significant one for the billionaire, who is close to completing one of the world’s largest oil refineries in Nigeria. The plant has the capacity to meet more than Nigeria’s entire fuel consumption and could transform an economy that currently imports all its refined product needs. Dangote is also constructing a fertilizer factory on the same site.

*Dangote Group/Bloomberg

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Boko Haram: Borno Elders Blamed Over Failure To End Insurgency
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Abu Duniya

President Buhari
President Buhari

The Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights (CALSER) has accused the Borno Elders Forum, politicians and other stakeholders of complicity in the continuous existence of terrorism in the state.

CALSER said some elders, political leaders and stakeholders in the state were frustrating the efforts of the federal government to end terrorism in north east  Nigeria. 

In a letter addressed to BEF, The letter signed by the Convener, Princess Ajibola attached below posed several questions begging for answers from the elders and stakeholders. 

It  gave a 7-day ultimatum to Borno Elders to initiate necessary actions in consonance with the concerns expressed in its open letter: 

Let us start by commending the Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari for his focused, spirited and result-oriented counter-terrorism warfare in the country.  

   We are very conversant with the difficulties of combating terrorism anywhere in the world. But the Buhari Presidency has demonstrated commitment, purposefulness and seriousness in ending the scourge of terrorism plaquing Nigeria, with deep roots in the Northeast. Of course, none of the members of BEF needs an extra binocular to spot the difference before and now under this government.  

  CALSER also, most objectively believe in the strategies being put in place by President Buhari and the security. But must be unequivocal that  military  action alone with the current posture of the Borno State  Stakeholders will yield no meaningful result or deliver the kind of results to restore peace and normalcy. 

 President Buhari has repeatedly proved that he knows the sensitivity of this national assignment, the indispensability of security in the country and has determinedly confronted the hydra-headed monster to a standstill.  Let’s be frank with you that the Nigerian military  has considerably obliterated the  shadows of Boko Haram in the Northeast. 

    But it is not edifying for us to think the United Nations (UN), government or any other authority is not doing enough to end Boko Haram. Our people say, charity begins at home. So, fighting insecurity of the identity and magnitude of Boko Haram insurgency  anywhere in the world demands concerted efforts by all stakeholders to record and sustain the desired impact.

     It is unfortunate that BEF, politicians and other stakeholders in Borno state have wrongly perceived and interpreted the entire Boko Haram insurgency which has devastated and ruined, not only Borno state, but the rest of the Northeast region as the exclusive business of President Buhari. 

   However, what other stakeholders in this collective battle against insurgency in Nigeria, including BEF have failed to do is to also contribute their quota to this battle to save humanity and their own remaining kith and kin trapped by remnants of insurgents.  

 What has remained confounding to the rest of us and the world is the unconcealed politicization, indifference and urbanian inclination of BEF to the total elimination of Boko Haram terrorism in Borno.   BEF has postured as more interested in condemning the Presidency, or lobbying Mr. President to change leaders of the Nigerian troops in the frontlines for not doing “enough.”

  BEF consistently leads bogus delegations of prominent elders from Borno, armed with a plethora of demands of what they think should be done to end Boko Haram terrorism. Which is good in itself. And overtime, President Buhari has responded by implementing some of these demands he deems sensible within the context of finally routing out Boko Haram in Borno, the Northeast and Nigeria.

 Disappointing though, BEF has abandoned its crucial part of the bargain or contributions to this collective warfare on anti-terrorism or has gleefully neglected it, while they wake up every day looking unto outsiders to solve a problem in their own house. It’s like members of this forum derive pecuniary benefits from the deaths, devastations and ruination of their land by insurgency or indeed, pleasure in its festering.

Or else, how is the rest of the world supposed to understand that BEF is completely unconcerned with the sixth of United Nations Security Council of June 8, 2018, on “UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” delivered on a four-point plan of action to member-nations, one of which states unambiguously as “…addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including but not limited to prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, lack of rule of law and violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization, and lack of good governance….”

  Another clause in this resolution, specifically addressed BEF and  states that stakeholders are enjoined; “To promote a culture of peace, justice and human development, ethnic, national and religious tolerance, and respect for all religions, religious values, beliefs or cultures by establishing and encouraging, as appropriate, education and public awareness programmes involving all sectors of society…”

 All of us are aware of the history or evolution of Boko Haram insurgency which has blossomed for 10 years into a national and global security monster. Candidly, politicians in Borno state started it by importing political thugs from Niger and Chad Republics in 2002 to assist them rig elections by hook or crook in the state.

   After the electoral victories, these imported armed political thugs were abandoned to hunger and starvation. They devised other means of survival and brought up the idea of Boko Haram, recruited your sons and daughters into the fold, and gradually morphed into the berserk terrorists they are known today. This is a sad history unworthy of recollection or recounting. But it has become necessary at this point to call a spade a spade.  

   The pioneers of this queer version of Islamism have probably all been killed in combats while battling Nigerian security forces over the years. But the inheritors and promoters of this awkward and satanic project are your children, who answer your calls as fathers, uncles and brothers.

 It’s absolutely indiscernible that BEF had never ever contemplated penetrating the rural populace to dialogue, interact and appeal to their own kith and kin for armistice over a decade of battle or expression of anger in bloodbath. How come they are suddenly afraid of their own children?

 CALSER has challenged BEF to show even one instance they embarked on peaceful dialogue with their people on Boko Haram or attempting to win the confidence of the people to sheathe their swords? We guess it will be a hard nut to crack.  

Is this not shameful enough that elders who are by African tradition supposed to lay down their lives for the younger generation would in reverse order, pleasantly allow the destruction of their posterity and land for whatever reason? What has prevented BEF from fostering persuasive and meaningful dialogues among communities and groups towards ending insurgency?

 Each time BEF voices out in the media, its either they are requesting President Buhari to sack Security and Service Chiefs or change the anti-Boko Haram Strike squads on the battlefield. The conduct inspires a lot of suspicions and raises dust on the sincerity of BEF members as a whole on ending insurgency.

 Borno state has worthy, wealthy and influential sons and daughters, both former and serving government appointees. Honestly what are they doing with this clout and affluence when their land is on fire? Who else do BEF members expect to exclusively blight the fire, while they covertly instigate it and stand on the fence to curry sympathy from the world in undisguised blame games of government and security agents?   

We are asking the elders in BEF that where is their impact now that  Borno is boiling? Where are all those who have hibernated in BEF as former governors, former or current Senators or House of Reps members? Where are all the current and former ministers, all the former and current and former state assembly legislators?

We want to know the efforts of dialogue  all the rich businessmen and women from Borno  as well as all the  government bureaucrats at both national and state levels have done collectively or individually to quench the fire of insurgency? What role has this rich assemblage of worthy sons and daughters  played in bringing an end to  Boko Haram insurgency in the state or in complementing the efforts of government and security agents?

It is the greatest shame of a people staring BEF elders in the face before the rest of the world. We are tempted to believe incontrovertibly that while Borno state burns, these wealthy and influential elders revel in affluence and squander in safe havens far-flung from home. And so, they think it is the exclusive responsibility of others to quench the fire of  Boko Haram. 

 It is completely unacceptable. Insurgency started in Borno and it must end in Borno where it has receded to concentrate now. The time to tell ourselves some sacrosanct truths is now! We cannot flinch from it forever. BEF must know, the time for the truth and the necessary action to salvage our suffering, deprived and dehumanized people is now!

 So, every BEF member must dust the toga aloofness and move into the communities and villages of Borno to speak to their people; invest or spread  the wealth through poverty alleviation schemes. BEF must service the cord of fraternity for the rest of us to have peace and security.  Again, Boko Haram started in Borno and currently nourished by majority of masked Borno people and BEF  must find a non-military solution to it. 

 It’s a mistaken notion to leave this arduous task solely in the hands of the Nigerian Army. Its time all of us must move to either the trenches or invade our communities with messages of peace and reconciliation. If Niger Delta elders can achieve it with militants, it’s not impossible in Borno, the Northeast and Nigeria.  

 Finally, we wish to state clearly that we are issuing  a 7-day ultimatum to Borno Elders to initiate necessary actions in consonance with the concerns expressed in this open letter. If after the expiration of the ultimatum and nothing is done, CALSER would be forced to activate other peaceful and lawful instruments in order to give peace and security to our distressed and traumatized humanity in Borno state.


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Selecting Rwanda as Host of CHOGM 2020 Is “Innovative and New”–Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland
January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By MOHAMMED M. MUPENDA *

[Photo: Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and President Paul Kagame - Commonwealth Secretariat]
[Photo: Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and President Paul Kagame – Commonwealth Secretariat]

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland, says selecting Rwanda as the host of CHOGM 2020 meeting is innovative and new.

In the interview she had with Pan African Visions during the Madrid COP 25 Forum,Hon. Patricia Scotland said CHOGM member states are “excited” about the 26th meeting which will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre during the week starting 22nd June, 2020.

For her, the selection of Rwanda was innovative and new hinging on the fact that the country is the youngest member of the organization while it is the second time for this meeting to be held in Africa for the last 15 years.

 “This is going to be the second time that we are going to be in Africa in the last 10, 15 years. The last time was in Uganda. We now are going to go to Rwanda, and Rwanda is the youngest member of our family. So that is also innovative and new,” Hon. Patricia said.

CHOGM 2020 will be held under the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. The discussions will revolve around five identified sub-themes that are Governance and Rule of Law, ICT and Innovation, Youth, Environment, and Trade.

“It will be a great pleasure to welcome leaders of the Commonwealth when they gather in Kigali. We will work hard to make everybody feel Rwanda is an extension of their home,” said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda while officially launching CHOGM 2020 in video message that featured him with Hon. Patricia on 24th September, 2019. 

“By connecting, innovating and transforming, the Commonwealth opens up scope for mobilising the talent of people of all ages and backgrounds,” Kagame added.

“I think the youth demographic we have now is a real opportunity.  It is going to be a very exciting chance for us to enable our young people to develop and deploy the skills they need so they can fulfill their potential,” Patricia underpinned in the video.

Rwanda joined commonwealth in 2009 and became the second member state with no colonial ties with the United Kingdom, following Mozambique.

The 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will bring in Kigali leaders from all 53 Commonwealth countries that have the population estimated to be 2.4 billion.

Leaders are expected to discuss ways the contemporarily Commonwealth can transform societies, in accordance with its charter values of democracy, multilateralism, sustainable development, and empowerment of women and youth.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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Ghana:WE WILL TELL OUR STORY – RAWLINGS
January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has described the interventions of June 4 1979 and December 31 1981 as effects of the mood of the country at the time and called for the context and circumstances of the period to be factored when telling the story.

Addressing a durbar to climax the 38th anniversary of the 31st December Revolution at the Winneba Lorry Park on Tuesday, the leader of the two uprisings said those leading the distortion of the history are cowards and said we will face them firmly. “We will tell our story!”

He called on adherents of June 4 and December 31 not to allow the distortions of “our history to continue…Those who have allowed corruption to rear its ugly head, and permitted it to fester, want to belittle the discipline, the law and order we introduced into this country, so they can justify their corrupt tendencies.”

Many, he indicated, had today forgotten the circumstances that gave birth to June 4 and December 31 with some spending huge resources to sponsor the distortion of the history through outright lies, half-truths and rendition by cowards who run away during those heady days.

The former President said, it was unfortunate that some had chosen to leave out the overwhelming gains made by these interventions, focusing only on the negatives.

LESSONS LOST

Flt Lt Rawlings cautioned that, “an important lesson is going to be lost on this nation because a handful of warped minds, full of hate and bitterness are being paid to distort and cover up events in our history with callous stories and lies.”

The Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council, that ruled Ghana between 1982 and 1992, questioned why we sit and allow these perfidious characters to get away with these lies and deceitful machinations through the power of the media all to the detriment of the nation?

The former President said, “the lighting of the perpetual flame and the laying of wreaths is to show reverence to all who sacrificed their lives during that difficult time in our country. Let no one downplay those sacrifices through historical distortions, twists and utter fabrications.”

UEW

Touching on the controversies surrounding the University of Education Winneba (UEW), the leader of the revolution commended government for instituting a roadmap for a peaceful resolution of the matter of over 20 dismissed staff of the University, stating however, that no significant progress had been made over the past three months.

“More than 20 dismissed staff at the UEW are going through discontent and pain. I hope this important matter is given the urgency and attention that is required,” the former President implored.

Earlier in the morning former President Rawlings and his delegation paid a courtesy call on Nenyi Ghartey VII, President of the Effutu Traditional Council, before proceeding to the durbar grounds where a parade and wreath-laying ceremony was held ahead of the durbar which was also addressed by NDC flagbearer former President John Dramani Mahama, NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia and a host of cadres and leading members of the NDC.

*Source Facebook

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