Even in Yaounde it was a heavy escort around the President
YAOUNDE, Cameroon – Cameroon’s national day Sunday was marked by violence in its troubled English-speaking region, with two policemen killed, soldiers wounded and a mayor kidnapped by suspected armed separatists.
In the capital, Yaounde, in central Cameroon, President Paul Biya, who has ruled since 1982, presided over a public show of the country’s military might.
But in the English-speaking town of Bangem in southwest Cameroon, the mayor, Ekuh Simon, was kidnapped. In a video shared by suspected armed separatists Simon said he and his deputy were kidnapped by separatists for planning independence celebrations. He said he is being held hostage by the Ambazonia Restoration Forces that had said the national day should not be celebrated. Ambazonia is the name separatists have given to the English-speaking area they want to become independent from French-speaking Cameroon.
Fighting was also reported in the English-speaking towns of Konye, Batibo, Ekona and several villages of Kupe Muanenguba, an administrative area in southwestern Cameroon.
At least two policemen and several people were killed, according to the governor of the south west region Bernard Okalia Bilai. In the towns that were attacked, many escaped to the bushes and safer neighboring towns.
In the northwestern city of Bamenda, there was a strong show of force to prevent any violence, but only a few residents turned up for the celebrations, saying that they feared retaliation from the separatists. Some students at the University of Bamenda showed up for the parade, saying they were forced by officials to come under the penalty of expulsion. Government officials also said they were also forced to come.
The Cameroon government had asked the population to come out in numbers and celebrate the national day as a sign of national unity adding that the military will protect the people from armed separatists who had vowed the day will not be celebrated in the English-speaking regions.
Cameron again imposed a curfew on its English-speaking regions. In spite of the curfew and heavy presence of the military, the armed separatists were able to chase out some public officials and close some schools.
Both the government and separatists have committed abuses, according to the U.S. ambassador. Ambassador Peter Henry Barlerin last week met with Biya and urged the president to initiate dialogue to lead the way out of violence.
International humanitarian organizations and rights groups have accused the government of harsh measures in its crackdown and the indiscriminate arrests of suspects.
Unrest in Cameroon began in November 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the northwest and southwest regions took to the streets, calling for reforms and greater autonomy. They expressed frustration by the dominance of the French-speaking parts of the country and with what they charged is the marginalization of Cameroon’s Anglophone population. Cameroon’s English-speaking community accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s 25 million people.
The protests were followed by a harsh government crackdown, including arrests and a shutdown of the internet.
The crisis intensified when Ayuk Tabe, who declared himself the president of the English-speaking Republic of Ambazonia, was arrested in December with 48 others in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon. They have not been seen in public since. The separatists are demanding his immediate release.
The separatists have chased many government workers and forced the closure of man schools, timber and palm oil processing factories. They vowed on social media to paralyze the country until they Ayuk Tabe and his colleagues are released.
Parts of southwest Cameroon remain under a curfew because the separatists continue to commit atrocities, said Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the Southwest Region
“The gunmen are hiding in the bushes, in the forests and usually they would appear on the roads to try to kidnap some passengers,” said Bilai. He said security information indicates most of the armed separatists are hiding in the bush along Cameroon’s southwestern border with Nigeria, especially in the Manyu and Lebialem administrative areas.
AP journalist Joel Kouam in Bamenda, contributed to this report.
From contemporary urban to boutique country houses, each of these hotels offers travellers an enviable range of artistic, culinary and cultural adventures with a unique character and a defining sense of place
BETHESDA, United States of America, May 17, 2018/ — Autograph Collection Hotels (www.AutographHotels.com), Marriott International’s (www.Marriott.com) distinctive collection of passionately independent hotels, today welcomed five African Pride Hotels to its growing global portfolio, marking the debut of the brand in South Africa. These hotels include, African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel, African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel, African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa, African Pride Irene Country Lodge, Arabella Hotel & Spa, Arabella Country Estate, and join the brand’s diverse portfolio of more than 135 one-of-a-kind hotels that champion values of vision, design and craft.
African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel
Ideally situated in the heart of Johannesburg, the 118 room, residential hotel is a unique blend of chic design and outstanding service. Located in a bustling neighborhood, brimming with cafés, al fresco dining, high street fashion and more, the hotel sets the tone for a distinctly contemporary urban experience within a pulsating city. Dine at the March Restaurant that offers global cuisine, or linger by the fire at the Library Bar over a drink or simply lounge by the crystal waters of the outdoor pool and be inspired by the oversized buckets and mirrors and the surprise design pop ups throughout the hotel that heighten the unique character and style of this hotel.
African Pride 15 On Orange Hotel
Set in the trendy Gardens area of Cape Town, the hotel is just a short distance from the city center and offers convenient access to the city’s world-famous landmarks. With 129 contemporary rooms, the hotel reflects a quirky style and stand-out decor. Soak up the Cape Town sun at the rooftop pool; indulge in a globally inspired menu at Savour; sip a cocktail in the elevated chandelier pod while enjoying panoramic views of the majestic Table Mountain; or pamper yourself with a relaxing spa.
African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa
Nestled amongst the ruggedly beautiful Magaliesburg Mountains, merely an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the 121 room intimate hotel offers a serene country escape. Ignite the imagination and rediscover yourself in the serene gardens of the famed hydrotherapy spa. Relax in the Jacuzzi while listening to the soothing sound of the waterfall or escape in the sound flotation pool and let time fade away. Relish wholesome fresh food that showcases seasonal fruits and vegetables perfectly complementing the relaxing spa treatments at the Spa Café, indulge in delicious country garden style food with a chic flair at the award-winning Rambling Vine restaurant that features quarterly seasonal menus and an award winning wine list or try a ‘fun’ meal at Twist where unlike other restaurants, the kitchen is brought into the restaurant with an unusual buffet style offering. The charming country setting makes this experience truly special.
African Pride Irene Country Lodge
In the quaint and historical village of Irene, in the heart of Gauteng, South Africa’s economic capital, lies African Pride Irene Country Lodge, a haven of peace and tranquility. The scenic long and winding oak- lined lane leading up to the lodge’s entrance leaves you feeling like you’ve left the city without actually having done so. With beautiful lakeside views, the lodge boasts of 75 spacious rooms a range of dining options and an award winning Spa. Irene is known for its roots in art and culture and the local markets are a testament to the creativity that abounds here. Irene Farm across the road from African Pride Irene Country Lodge, Autograph Collection provides an authentic country experience, where dairy cows are milked daily and the local shop stocks an abundance of farm fresh delicacies.
Arabella Hotel & Spa, Arabella Country Estate
Situated in the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere, close to Hermanus’ the world-famous whale watching destination, the 145 room Arabella Hotel & Spa overlooks a spectacularly attractive natural lagoon, surrounded by a lush landscape. The hotel boasts a 18-hole golf course designed by Peter Matkovich, ranked amongst the best in the country, exquisite on-site dining options, an award winning spa, a fully equipped fitness center, multiple swimming pools and more. Just an hour away from Cape Town, the Estate places you near a wide selection of outdoor adventure activities that provide enough and ore for an adrenaline rush.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for us, and we are thrilled to have the African Pride Hotels join Autograph Collection Hotels’ dynamic hotels in some the most desirable countries of the world,” said Alex Kyriakidis President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “South Africa is a strategic growth market for us and key to our success in the region. A land of astounding diversity, it never fails to create an imprint on the minds and hearts of travellers from across the globe. This rebranding is in lockstep with the growing demand from consumers and their desire for unique and differentiated experiences wherever they travel.”
From contemporary urban to boutique country houses, each of these hotels offers travellers an enviable range of artistic, culinary and cultural adventures with a unique character and a defining sense of place.
“African Pride Hotels bring to life the vision of the brand and celebrate the distinctive character and individuality of each hotel by curating an authentic and enriching travel experience… Exactly Like Nothing Else,” said Neal Jones Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “We are delighted to see these hotels join the brand’s global portfolio of iconic hotels in destinations like Dubai, Rome, Kuala Lumpur and London amongst others.”
With more than 135 independent, one-of-a-kind hotels in the world’s most desirable destinations, Autograph Collection Hotels (www.AutographHotels.com) is a diverse and dynamic portfolio that champion values of vision, design and craft. Exactly like nothing else, Autograph Collection Hotels are hand selected for their rich character and uncommon details each celebrating the founder’s passion, thoughtfulness of design, inherent craft and connection with the locale. For more information, please visit www.AutographHotels.com, and explore our social media channels on Instagram (www.Instagram.com/AutographHotels), Twitter (https://Twitter.com/autographhotels), and Facebook (www.Facebook.com/autographhotels) to learn more about championing the independent spirit that is #ExactlyLikeNothingElse.
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) (www.Marriott.com) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,500 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 127 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®. For more information, please visit our website at www.Marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.MarriottNewsCenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/marriottinternational) and @MarriottIntl (https://Twitter.com/MarriottIntl) on Twitter and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/marriottintl).
Local Authorities are Resolute to Start the Transition to Sustainable Cities in Marrakesh
RABAT, Morocco, May 17, 2018/ — United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) (www.UCLGA.org) and the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC) launched the 8th edition of the Africities Summit on May 15, 2018, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rabat, Morocco. The Summit will take place from November 20-24, 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco, under the theme: “Thetransition to sustainable cities and territories: The role of local and regional governments in Africa.”
Local and regional authorities from over 20 African countries participated in the ceremony, including presidents of associations of local and regional governments in Africa, mayors and governors of metropolitan cities in Africa and members of the Network of African Locally Elected Women (REFELA).
The ceremony was attended by the Chair of the African Union Technical Committee for Public Service, Urban Development, Decentralization and Local Government (STC 8); the Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of Benin; the Minister of Local Governments of Lesotho and Member of the Bureau of STC 8; members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Morocco; representatives of the Moroccan Parliament; and the Secretary General of the International Association of Major Metropolises (Metropolis).
Participants heard speeches from the representative of the Interior Minister of Morocco, Mr. Khalid Safir, “Wali” (Head Governor) Director General of Local Governments; His Excellency Mr. Barnabé Zinsou DASSIGLI, Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of the Republic of Benin and President of the African Union STC 8; His Excellency Mr. Mouhamadou Youssifou, Ambassador of Cameroon and Vice Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Morocco; Mrs. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, Mayor of Libreville and UCLG’s Vice-President for Africa; and Mr. Mohammed Boudra, President of the AMPCC association (Morocco).
In his opening speech, Mr. Khalid Safir reaffirmed the importance of the Kingdom of Morocco hosting the 8th edition of the Africities Summit.
“I would like to express to you all the joy and pride of the Kingdom of Morocco in welcoming the eighth edition of this summit in its territory. The theme will lead participants to discuss the future of cities, territories and local governments in Africa and Africa’s challenges in the face of globalization and urbanization and this theme will lead the participants to highlight the changes underway and the role and strategy of African local governments in the transition.”
The president of the STC 8 committee of the African Union, Mr. Barnabé Zinsou Dassigli, declared that the Africities Summit was considered by the ministers members of the STC 8 committee as one of the best opportunities offered to Africa to speak with one voice on the issue of decentralization and that this was the surest way to involve people in the management of affairs that concerned them.
“Over the course of its successive editions, the Africities Summit has proven to be a great platform for the exchange of views for the implementation of decentralization policies in Africa. It is for this reason that the African Ministers of Decentralization have decided to establish Africities as the African space for the evaluation of the impact of decentralization policies and corresponding cooperation programs for the improvement of living conditions for citizens and the good governance of our states in general. This is why STC 8 wants to include the issue of the signing and ratification of the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local development on the agenda of the Africities Summit 2018.”
The mayor of Libreville and Africa Vice President of UCLG, Mrs. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, said she was convinced that Marrakesh 2018 would mark a milestone in the path towards the structural transformation of Africa advocated by Agenda 2063 of the AU. “I invite all municipalities around the world, especially those in Africa, to come and share with us the thinking that we are going to begin on the “transition to sustainable and resilient cities and territories.”
The President of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC), Mr. Mohamed Boudra, stated that, “the Africities 2018 Summit will be an opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions, enrich experience and support African cooperation in the field of local management.”
The highlight of the ceremony was the handover of the baton to the city of Marrakesh, now host of the Africities 2018 Summit, and receiving the Africities flag from Mr. Mpho NAWA, representative of the President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and host of the 7th edition of the Africities Summit held in 2015 in Johannesburg.
The Mayor of Marrakesh, Mr. Mohamed Larbi Belcaid, was delighted to accept the torch and launched a call for the massive participation of the different actors in this great event in the ‘ochre city’ considered to be the beating heart of Africa in motion.
Following the baton handover Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, presented the framework and program of the Summit, as well as the requirements for participation and taking part in the Africities Exhibition, which is organized in parallel. Participants were invited to register online at the following sites:
…” As Gov. Amosun orders removal of all our pro-restructuring banners”, Group Alleges
By Olayinka Ajayi
In Nigeria, the members of a Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group campaigning for the restructuring of Nigeria’s socio-economic and political systems, Yoruba KO’YA Movement were on Thursday shunned by the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Suraj Adekunbi when they visited the state assembly complex to submit a protest letter to the number three citizen.
The group members numbering about 50 who stormed the assembly complex in a peaceful manner demanded to see the Speaker were told by security personnel and staff of the parliament that the Speaker had gone to attend the ongoing All Progressive Congress (APC) Ward Congress in the state.
The visibly angry members of Yoruba KO’YA who flashed the acknowledgment copies of the two letters written to the Speaker on their visit said information available to them has it that the state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun ordered the Speaker and other members of the parliament including the Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Senior staff of the assembly not to attend to them.
Buttressing their allegation against Amosun and Adekunbi, the National Organizing Secretary of Yoruba KO’YA Movement, Mr. Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye alleged that all the pro-restructuring banners of the group erected across the nooks and crannies of the state have been removed by officials of the state signage agency and council officials on the order of the state Governor.
“We were here a fortnight ago to submit our protest letter on the state of the nation and the position paper of our organization on the ongoing restructuring debate but we were told to come back today because the Speaker was not around despite writing a letter to him to that effect.
“Last week, we wrote another letter to the speaker, acknowledged, reminding him of our visit today but unfortunately, he is nowhere to be found. Our representative was here on Tuesday, we were told that the Speaker had referred the letter to the Deputy Speaker but today, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are nowhere to be found.
“All the Senior Civil Servants that we approached said there was an instruction from above not to receive any letter brought to the office of the Speaker today. Why are the duo of Amosun and Adekunbi afraid of restructuring? Why are they avoiding us? All our banners erected across Ogun State on why people should join the crusade to get Nigeria restructured economically, politically and socially have been removed on the order of Amosun.” Adeleye alleges.
Our correspondent who witnessed the protest confirmed that the gate of the assembly complex was locked against the pro-restructuring group.
A senior civil servant in the Assembly complex who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said the speaker received the letter of the group on Tuesday and immediately referred it to the Deputy Speaker.
However, efforts made to speak to the Speaker have not yielded a fruitful result as at time of filing this report as his lines were switched off while text messages sent to his three mobile lines were not replied.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, refusal to appear before the Senate on the spate of killings across the country and the inhuman treatment allegedly meted out to Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, the Senate, vote of no confidence on the IGP, declaring him unfit for any office. Stating the IGP’s continual refusal to appear before it portended grave danger to the country’s democracy, the Senate declared him persona non grata and resolved to notify the international community, embassies, the country’s international partners and Interpol of its decision.
In response, the IGP said, “It’s a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunt, unfortunate and mischievous.” He added that he had informed Senate President Bukola Saraki in a letter on Tuesday that he would not be honouring the Senate’s invitation, that the ‘attack’ on his person by the senators was a “deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting with a to hand-twist” him “to pervert the end of justice in a felonious and serious offenses (sic).”
The IGP sought refuge in the constitution: “In accordance with the extant laws in Nigeria, the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Inspector General of Police as stated in Section 215(1a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and the Police Act and Regulations Section 309(1) can also be carried out as mentioned in sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act and Regulations by a senior officer of the Force of the Rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police or an Assistant Inspector General of Police who if permitted by the Inspector General of Police to act on his behalf or represent him in an official capacity at any official function event or programme within and outside Nigeria, can do so in consonant with the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations (sic).”
The face-off between the IGP and the Senate would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. But, with the country’s gradual descent into anarchy, nothing seems to amaze Nigerians anymore. This is why a police chief, would lord himself over the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not such a big surprise after all. Yet the point has to be stated that in carrying out its oversight functions, the National Assembly has the power to invite any public official to appear before it. There has been no law enacted as yet to nullify its oversight functions as enshrined in the constitution. That being the case, the IGP’s refusal to honour the Senate’s summons is an affront on the National Assembly. It is also an act of contempt for the constitution and the Nigerian people. Besides, even if he had cause to disagree with the Senate on any issue, he should have been very civil and circumspect in his utterances, particularly as they were directed at the highest lawmaking organ in the country.
It is saddening that, as pointed out by the Senate, the IGP flagrantly disobeyed the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to relocate to Benue State following the horrendous killings on New Year day. As a matter of fact, Mr. Idris has issued a number of statements disclaiming the positions expressed by the Presidency on his disgraceful conduct. What is a man who treats the Presidency with contempt still doing in office? In the developed world over, no appointee of the executive has the luxury to choose which summons of the parliament to obey and which to ignore. Contempt of the parliament is a serious offence. When the Senate invites a public office-holder, it does not matter what he or she thinks would be the topic of discussion. The invitee can go to the parliament and refuse to speak on things that he or she feels would be prejudicial to comment on. But how can he or she cannot choose to discard parliamentary summons? By action, Idris clearly undermined democracy and, ultimately, even his own office. There is an office of the IGP because the National Assembly appropriates money to run the police.
The foregoing notwithstanding, the press release by the Senate showing the gory details of killings across the country is unnecessary. The Senate does not need to state its reasons for inviting any office-holder to appear before it. There is no way Nigeria’s democracy can advance when people have no regard for institutions. The IGP’s disregard for the Senate is a threat to democracy and he needs to be relieved of his duties before he does further damage.
Heads of state pose for a group photograph during the opening ceremony of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The leaders of the United Nations and the African Union urged stronger international cooperation Sunday of the African Union nations. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
The African continent is home to approximately 1.2 billion people and growing everyday. The challenge for most African governments is maintaining sustainable development and growth. One of the best ways to achieving sustainable development and accelerated economic growth is the implementation of free trade as a vehicle to attaining economic integration throughout the continent. Free trade will increase the continent’s combined GDP which currently stands at above US$2.5 trillion.
African leaders agreed to meet in Rwanda allowing 44 nations to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. The agreement is the biggest trade deal since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. Like most impactful establishments, authorities still face challenges in getting the largest economies to sign the agreement. South Africa and Nigeria, two of the continent’s largest economies did not sign the trade deal stating that they need more time to consult with trade unions and businesses about potential risks. Some of the concerns the two giant economies have with the agreement are fear of displacement of communities and some industries closing due to competition from other regional businesses.
Benefits of the Trade Agreement
Despite potential risks, we should take into account the benefits that the agreement will offer to the continent. The deal will accelerate economic growth, improve sustainable development, allow customers to access a wide variety of goods from other nations at lower prices, promote cultural exchange and advancement of infrastructural projects. The benefits associated with the signing of the trade agreement will lead to creation of jobs and a single continental market for goods and services.
If all nations come together and sign the agreement, the continent’s combined GDP will most likely double or go way above the US$6 trillion mark.The gross domestic product(GDP) increases will largely be attributed to the increase of intra-trade on the continent and free movement of goods without high tariffs. For example, the continental trade deal will remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods allowing easy access to products while saving money.
The agreement will also encourage the free movement of people as well as the full implementation of a single continental passport. Once all nations have agreed to sign and participate, the establishment of a single continental currency is possible. The deal will encourage a culture of regional peace and understanding.
Despite the potential success of the agreement, leaders still have to address the challenges the continent will face. Solutions need to be formulated and adapted for each problem executives will encounter while trying to establish the deal successfully.
One of the main challenges leaders will face while implementing the agreement include the complex task of fostering cooperation among a multitude of national and regional economic actors with trade interests that will diverge at times. Another challenge officials have to deal with is the fear that enterprises will go out of business and the displacement of some communities. Officials believe the trade deal will encourage economic migrants to permanently settle in nations that have bigger economies posing a challenge to governments that are not prepared to deal with the potential influx of migrants.
Despite the challenges the continent will encounter, viable solutions should be implemented to facilitate the success of the trade agreement. The African Union has to persuade remaining countries to sign the deal by promoting a solution based approach to any challenge. For example, the union needs to provide enough resources to ensure the success of the agreement. Leaders need to establish a secretariat to coordinate the goals of the agreement and work closely with members of the union. Funding for infrastructure is important to ensure goods are transported efficiently and timely. Rail lines, ports, airports and roads must be further advanced so that goods are easily transported in and out of nations.
Leaders can set up a dispute resolution committee to solve arguments and differences that may derail progress. Creation of social policies that will assist citizens that might lose jobs due to increased competition from other regional businesses is important to ensure communities are intact. Governments will need to develop entrepreneurship programs that boost local businesses in a way that matches other regional enterprises. When continental trade begins at a large scale, the pricing of goods should be set and adjusted to meet the standards of other regional partners.
Many of you will agree with me that the benefits of establishing the trade agreement with full participation from all African nations, outweigh the challenges associated with achieving success. Future African generations as well as the whole world will benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Leaders and lawmakers should do everything in their power to make this game changing economic move.
In early April 2018, I decided to visit Cameroon to enliven my family bond through face to face contact. I knew this was risky. Friends and family cautioned me, warning about the insecurity and war in the country. I have been to Cameroon two times ever since Anglophone Cameroonians took a bold step in late 2016 to openly talk about their oppression. Increasingly, the crisis has escalated and we now witness a full-scale war against the people, a form or punishment, meted on Anglophones by the Cameroon government. Anyone familiar with the political developments in Cameroon is not surprised that Anglophones are fighting against what they see as occupational forces of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC). As an Anglophone Cameroonian, albeit with roots on the Francophone side, I find it is hard not to write about the marginalization we have experienced all our lives in country where we are made to understand we are undeserving citizens.
My name is Solomon Ngu . I migrated to Europe and eventually to USA at the turn of the 21st century. Like most Anglophone Cameroonians, I left the country in search for a better life abroad. Over the years, I have witnessed and researched the ways in which young Anglophone Cameroonians navigate through hard life in the country. Just as our generation at the turn of the 21st century, most of these young men and women paint a gloomy picture of life in Cameroon; they believe a better future awaits them out of their country. That the migrants constitute a heavy weight in the war and are the most vocal anti-LRC citizens is a point I turn to later.
This is an introduction to a series of articles that I will publish on Pan African Visions. The articles are ethnographic notes that bear testimony about the ongoing war in Ambazonia/Southern Cameroons. I will report on what I heard and saw in the urban areas as well as first-hand accounts from villagers who have escaped the villages to the towns. As of the time of writing this introduction, most of the fighting is concentrated in the villages all over Ambazonia. Villagers’ testimonies and the fact that they have left the rural communities to seek safety in the urban areas tell that there is a nasty war going on. In fact, Achille Mbembe, a Cameroon philosopher and human rights activist, says on Facebook that this is a ‘dirty war’, a description reminiscent of Argentinean state terrorism of the 1970s where thousands of people simply disappeared.
It is in fact a dirty war, a war that was totally avoidable had leadership taken into account the humanity of those who live in Ambazonia. The war is described as ‘nasty’ or ‘dirty’ primarily because of the meanness with which it is conducted. Take for example, the military burning down entire villages and properties, torture of civilians and the looting. As to how civilians and their properties – cattle, pets, farms, houses, shops, etc, provoke the soldiers is still unknown but what we know is that the rampaging soldiers’ actions are informed by a belief that they are dealing with people who are less humans, the monsters and aliens. So far, the villagers caught between the government troops and those fighting to restore the dignity of South Cameroons are paying the highest prize. It is a topic I turn to in one of the articles.
Before leaving Cameroon, I had a feeling that this was the last time I saw Ambazonia the way I know it; that is before a full-scale war engulfs the urban areas. Civilians in the major cities of Buea, Limbe, Bamenda and Kumba were making plans on where to escape to should the war reach their city. As I write, there are reports of people fleeing Buea en masse; they want to avoid what they foresee as potential confrontation between the Amba fighters and the Cameroonian army on the 20th of May, a day designated as the National Day. The 20th of May is significant in that on that day in 1972, many legacies of Anglophone Cameroon were erased; it was a day the name of the country changed from the Federal to a United Republic of Cameroon. Much could be written about this but it suffices at this level to say those fighting to restore the independence of Anglophone Cameroon, do not want 20th May to be designated as Ambazonian National Day. Going by history, they see 1st Oct, as their day of independence – and rightfully so, for Anglophone Cameroon gained independence on this day in 1961. Recall that the conflict in this section of Cameroon escalated after the government massacred citizens who were out celebrating their independence on Oct 1st 2017.
I presume anyone reading this introduction and subsequent articles must be familiar with Cameroon – its colonial and postcolonial history. A very short version of this history is: Cameroon was a creation of Germany in late 19th century. Following the defeat of Germany in WWI, France occupied the eastern part of the country. The western part was colonized and governed alongside Nigeria by the British. The two parts evolved differently in socioeconomic and political spheres. The French governed their section of the country in the most colonially-belligerent manner imaginable; a type of French colonialism eloquently described in Franz Fanon’s works. French repression led to many Francophone political activists seeking asylum in the English part where governance was in the hands of the indigenes. East and West Cameroon reunited and formed a federation in early 1960s as equal states.
Over the years, the Anglophone legacy was erased such that by the mid-1980s, the country became known as La Republique Du Cameroun, a name Francophone Cameroon acquired at independence on January 1st 1960. The Francophonization of Cameroon has been resisted by Anglophone both openly and privately. As time progressed, the resistance was very much limited within the circle of the elite. In fact, the informed Anglophone elite couldn’t transmit the processes and forms of marginalization to the ordinary citizens but the situation was to change through the use of new media technologies during and post 2016 massive uprising. Thanks to social media, and more especially, the Smartphone, information about the marginalization, distorted history and police torture of peaceful protesters was readily circulated among Anglophone Cameroonians. This further fueled the conflict, emboldening young people to go to the street. Some of the articles in this blog focus on how social media is transforming the course of the conflict.
I will leave the reader here. My ethnographic notes will start appearing soon on this blog.
Windhoek, 08 May 2018: 21 Brigade Ceremonial Guard mounted a Full Guard of Honour today at State House in honour of the visiting Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. H.E Mr. Mahamat also visited the Heroes Acre and laid a wreath in respect of the Namibian fallen heroes and heroines
Windhoek – To succeed in its mandate, the Africa Union (AU) requires adequate, predictable and sustainable funding.
But this can only be realised if the continent funds its own activities and stop its overdependence on external donors.
This was said by AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, whose office is overseeing the AU Reform Agenda.
The continental body has set itself an ambitious integration and development – the Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and First Ten Year Implementation Plan.
However, this will remain a pipedream unless Africans takes deliberate steps to correct the untenable financial situation of the AU.
During his recent visit to the Namibian capital, Windhoek, the AU Chair expressed his discomfort, saying 80% of AU programmes are funded by external donors. This he stressed that will not only undermine the autonomy of the Pan-African body, but also brought the credibility into questions.
During his three-day official visit, Mahamat expressed during his meeting with Namibian President Hage Geingob that Africa leaders needed to get tough on corruption.
He noted that close to $50 billion leaves the continent annually through corruption, which in the process hampering the socio-economic development of the continent.
“Corruption implies an issue of behaviour, meaning if political leaders behave a certain way which repels corruption, the country will end up corruption-free. So, we have to behave a certain way in order to curb and fight corruption on our continent,” he said.
He argued that African leaders should be accountable to public opinion and called on them to adapt policies of good governance to deal with “all the wrongdoings in their countries”.
The visit to Namibia provided an for AUC Chair an opportunity to deliberate on key African Union priorities such as continental integration, peace and security and AU institutional reforms with the Namibian political leadership.
President Geingob noted that it is critical to emphasize the importance of making our organization more responsive, effective and efficient to deliver its mandate as outlined in Agenda 2063.
“Therefore, the institutional reforms we have agreed to embark upon are cardinal to the success of the organization. Namibia fully supports the AU institutional reforms and is ready to play its role,” Geingob said.
The Namibian leader also assured the AU that the southern African country would implement the AU’s Agenda 2063 in order to achieve the “Africa We Want”.
“In this regard, Namibia is fully committed to the integration of our Continent and strongly believes that its own economic development depends on advancing regional and continental economic cooperation and integration,” he said.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” As many Southern Cameroonians perish in their dozens each month, they all cry why the world has forgotten them. In 2018 alone, hundreds of Southern Cameroonians have been killed while many others have been displaced. Over 50 villages in the English Speaking regions of the North West and South West Regions of the country have been brought down to ashes by the forces of La Republiquue du Cameroun. The government forces have ruthlessly clamped down on any form of resistance.
The Cameroons have grown accustomed to silence and indifference to the 85 years old dictator, Paul Biya (who has been in power for the last 36 years). What is more baffling is the silence and indifference of the International community. “Where has Britain been, where is the United Nations, the African Union, and why should the Commonwealth cosy up to the Biya regime while the English speaking regions which form the basis of Cameroon’s membership of the Commonwealth are in flames,” laments Jude Ndeh .
A few years back, President Biya used to take pride in describing Cameroon as an Island of peace in a troubled sub-region. From outside, everything looked normal in Cameroon. The economy (and to some extent democracy) though not rising at the required pace was stable. Cameroonians regardless of where they come from and regardless of ethnicity and language could freely travel from one corner of the country to the other. It was an unsteady peace because the reception of Anglophones especially at the peak of the administrative headquarters in Yaounde was just apparent than real. However, it is no longer the case as one’s language and ethnicity now determines if you should live or travel to one part of the country. English speaking Cameroonians are stuck in the North West and South West of Cameroon and are targeted, as government forces are burning down their homes with the old and blind helpless people burnt alive.
Government troops have been accused for razing down villages
Brief background and genocide
Cameroonians from the English speaking regions, who now referred to as Ambazonia, argue that they were being neglected by the successive regimes of Cameroon especially that of Paul Biya who signed a decree in 1984 reverting the name from the United Republic of Cameroon to La Republique du Cameroun. By dint of this action, Mr. Biya was simply seceding from the union with the Southern Cameroons thereby divorcing from an unworkable marriage brokered in an intriguing historical accident fraught with many events! It should be borne in mind that Fon Gorji Dinka, a seasoned legal luminary argued lucidly for the restoration of the autonomy of the former Southern Cameroons which he christened Ambazonia in 1985. This led to the birth of diverse organisations prominent amongst which was the Cameroon Anglophone Movement and the Southern Cameroons National Council. It is a long and checkered history. Development activities were carried out in La Republique and not the breakaway Ambazonia. Southern Cameroonians have very little or no access to basic services, such as hospitals, clinics, schools and other grievances and majority of the Ambazonians are calling for Paul Biya to recognize their independence that was declared on 1st of October 2017.
All major economic activities from Banking to corporations were simply destroyed or transferred to La Republique du Cameroun. Such activities included the Cameroon Bank and the National Produce Marketing Board, which saw the vast financial resources, transferred to French Cameroon. The major economic activities in the North West and South West regions include plantation farming like the Cameroon Development Corporation, Petroleum refinery, manufacturing industries, tourism and much more. The two Anglophone regions of Cameroon account for more than 70% of the economy of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons is home to some of Africa’s most beautiful beaches).
However, despite all the economic activity in the Anglophone regions, very few Cameroonians from these regions own plantations, work in the manufacturing industries or benefit from tourism proceeds. Revenue generated from these economic hubs first goes to the central government which in turn allocates the money to the country’s 10 regions with the investment budget of the North West and South West region always measured as they often receive the lowest allocations though they contribute significant revenue.
By using force President Biya has pushed more Southern Cameroonians to embrace the separatist cause
In a statement, the Ambazonia ‘foreign minister’, Amos Mudoh said that ‘Paul Biya is a stooge of France. He is a governor, not a president. Cameroon is a colony … Cameroon makes $10m a day from crude oil from Ambazonia. But we do not even have schools. The oil money is syphoned off to French Cameroon.’ Since 2016, Paul Biya has taken several steps to silence Ambazonia including shutting down the internet in English speaking regions in Cameroon for 93 days starting from January 17, 2017. Change.org states that “Since October 2016, there have been no schools and the courts have not been operating in the English-Speaking Regions. Instead of resolving the problems, the government unleashed a reign of terror, arbitrarily arresting lawyers, teachers and members of the Anglophone community and taking them to maximum political prisons over 300 miles away from their homes.” These prisoners (without a crime will appear after long jail terms without charges) and will appear in front of a Kangaroo military Tribunal with trumped-up charges. It is against this background that Ambazonian separatists feel justified in their endeavours to campaign for the complete restoration of their independence. This is exacerbated by maiming, raping, shooting and killing in an indiscriminate manner armless youths, and attacking schools and churches. French-speaking Cameroonians who constitute at least four-fifths of the population are living safely and very indifferent to the plight of their compatriots. Why the difference? This is explain for by two simple reasons.
Clamping down on separatists
The story from the victor and the story from the vanquished will always be different. Not to say that there is a victor or vanquished in this instance but merely to express the different arguments as forwarded by both sides. Those in the North West region, state that the crisis in the Cameroons is a result of the separatists. Separatist is a term that refers to some people from the Southern Cameroons, who have been agitating for some time now to create their own state of Ambazonia and in 2016, they stepped up their campaign for greater autonomy of Ambazonia. The group went further on October 1, 2017, to declare the independence of Ambazonia. This was, however, a mere symbolic gesture.
The decision by Ambazonian separatists to call for greater autonomy did not go down well with La Republique`s President Paul Biya. Soon after the symbolic declaration of independence, Biya issued a statement and openly declared war on the separatist upon his return from the Franco-African summit in Cote D’Ivoire. This pushed the separatists to call and advocate for self-defense. Staying true to his word, Biya has been ruthlessly unleashing terror on Ambazonians in the North West and South-west regions . According to a recently released UN statement on the Cameroon crisis, it said that over 160,000 people have fled their homes in English speaking regions of Cameroon since 2016. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its report further stated that of the 160,000 who have been displaced from their homes, many of them have settled in the bush where they are living in distressful conditions. Others are being hosted by local communities but they are still in danger as they are easily accessible if hunted down by the government forces. The report states that over 20,000 have fled into neighbouring Nigeria with Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) putting the number of those who have fled into Cross River State alone at a staggering 34,000 people since 2016.
Hard to believe that less than a year ago, English speaking Cameroonians were were protesting with peace plants in making their demands public
The silence of the world deafening
Regardless of who is right and who is wrong in all this, many including Cameroonians would have expected international actors to intervene and be the sense of reason. That has not been the case however, as the world has remained despicably mute and playing to the gallery calling for inclusive dialogue from a distance.
France, as Cameroon’s main partner, is the biggest culprit. Not only has it failed to strongly condemn the crisis in Cameroon, it has gone on to wine and dine with Biya at a time that he is accused by many people in his country of inciting mass murders. France has significant business interests in Cameroon and it seems that it is prioritizing its economic prospects in the country more than preserving human rights.
Nigeria is equally guilty as France in its response to the Cameroon crisis as it has remained quiet, despite having to shelter over 43,000 Cameroonians who have fled their country in the past year. In addition to remaining quiet, Nigeria also took the unwise decision to deport the leader of the separatists leaders and 46 others. Most of these were arrested or kill upon arrival and have been languishing in prison incommunicado ever since. A number of prominent Nigerian activists and lawyers condemned the decision taken by the Nigerian government to send back the captured Ambazonian separatists.
Call for action
Despite the silence of the world Powers, some local and international actors are trying to put pressure on Paul Biya and his government.
The National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, a grouping of Bishops in Cameroon issued a statement condemning the acts of violence being perpetrated by the government forces on civilians in South-West and North West regions of Cameroon. The statement read, “Let us put an end to all forms of violence and stop killing one another! We are all brothers and sisters; let us retrace the path of dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace.” The Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland also issued a statement condemning the unfortunate events taking place in Cameroon. In a statement, Patricia Scotland expressed “great sadness” in the face of the difficulties currently facing Cameroon, a country known as a haven of peace and stability.
The unfortunate part of all this is that not all these actors have the influence or power to force Paul Biya to put a stop to all the madness that is going on in Cameroon. Its needs the voice of the more powerful international actors to force Biya into stopping all the killings in the Southern Cameroons, but it seems that the powers are deaf to hear the pleas and blind to see the cries of the Southern Cameroonian citizens.
Need for inclusive dialogue
The current situation in Cameroon is sad but what is more depressing is that hundreds of lives can be saved by a simple inclusive dialogue. All parties, that is President Paul Biya and the leaders from the separatist group need to meet, discuss and iron out any issues and pave way for a peaceful Cameroon. The silent world needs to take the step to stop the killings by providing the platform and inviting the two opposing parties to a dialogue. The longer this takes, dialogue will slowly fizzle out and cedes in its place, negotiations. This can be avoided if the governors of Cameroon can be humble to begin by declaring a general amnesty!
Wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu – Akeredolu (right], First Lady of the Republic of Niger, Mrs. Aissata Issoufou (left) and others during the second edition of the African Women in Agriculture (AWA), 2018 Summit in Marrakech, Morocco.
The wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who led a delegation of women from Nigeria to the 2nd edition of the African Women in Agriculture (AWA) Summit in Marrakech, Moroccoo, yesterday deliberated with other African women leaders and stakeholders across the globe on how to enhance profile of women in Agriculture for the attainment of the sustainable development goal (SDG). Gender inequality, poor access to loans, poor access to farm lands, poor gender inclusion in agricultural policies and governance, amongst other things, were highlighted as constraints inhibiting participation of African women in agriculture.
At the end of the sessions, stakeholders recommended the need for African leaders to formulate and implement policies that are gender inclusive and to consistently train women farmers especially rural dwellers on improved farming methods to maximize productivity.
In her address at the opening ceremony, the Patroness of AWA 2018, Mrs. Aissata Issoufou, First Lady of the Republic of Niger lauded the objectives of the summit to advocate for women’s empowerment through agriculture and promote national, regional and international integration among African countries.
Mrs. Angelle Kweno, Founder, Believe In Africa, described the African Women in Agriculture (AWA) Initiative as a high level annual dialogue between leaders from Africa and across the World to strengthen the role of women in the development of agriculture in Africa.
She also noted that the initiative is very important given the level of participation and engagement of African women in Agriculture which includes cultivation, harvesting, processing, distribution and marketing.
One of the highpoint of the summit was the success story of L and Z Integrated Farm limited, a Kano based company, co-founded by a woman, Mrs. Adija Zubaid Damakka, who shared challenges and solutions of managing a Dairy Farm that started with two Heifers, producing only five liters of milk a day and stands today, producing 3,000 liters of milk processed into L and Z yourguts and Ice cream sold across Nigeria.
Mrs. Ibidunni Ogunleye, a poultry farmer from Ondo State, Nigeria, in her presentation at the summit pointed out some of the challenges faced by women farmers in Nigeria.
Mrs. Ogunleye who shared her success story, encouraged other women farmers to show diligence and determination in their businesses and advised that farmers must understand the ecosystem in which they operate, make consultations with professionals to maximize their productivity.
Other presentations were from Prof. Zoubida Charrouf- Mohammed V University- Morocco and Mr. Patrick Andre – Founder Botanicosm Ethic, France centered on need for better inclusion and participation of women in policy development and implementation especially on gender-based and socio-economic issues to facilitate capacity building, economic prosperity and improved Nutrition and health outcomes.
Other highlights of the event include the delegation’s visit to National Initiative for Human Development, Cooperative Troisieme Millenaire, Rurale Bourous Province, Rhamna Region Marrakech-Safi, a centre that promotes self-help among rural women through the production of couscous for local and international markets.
Also the team visited the Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre equipped with state-of-art facilities that includes HD cameras, Acoustic studios, computerized lecture rooms and centralized internet routers. Gymnasium, Library, Museum amongst other places were also visited.
The second edition of the African women in agriculture (AWA) 2018 summit rounded off with conclusion that there is a need for better inclusion and participation of women in policy formulation and implementation especially on gender-based and socio-economic issues to facilitate capacity building, economic prosperity and improved Nutrition and health outcomes.
Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa
The second edition of the Believe In Africa International Congress (“African Women in Agriculture and Art”) (AWAA) was held in Marrakech from May 8 to 10, 2018. This edition aimed at enforcing commitment made during the first edition by taking concrete actions of mobilization of resource, training and optimization of production capacities, processing and marketing of African women’s agricultural products. The main goal remains to work in the fight for food security, against global warming and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.
We, the women in attendance declare the following:
We express our deep gratitude to His Royal Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, for his commitment to the empowerment of African women.
We warmly express gratitude to:
Her Excellency Aïssata Issoufou Mahamadou, First Lady of the Republic of Niger and Founder of the Guri Foundation, Vie Meilleure, for chairing the second edition of the Women and Agriculture Forum, for her leadership and commitment to women empowerment, her presence, her encouragement and infallible support to women, especially in the agricultural and handicraft sectors and for its support for the and for being the honorary chair of the launch of the AWAA initiative;
Mrs. Nadira El Guermai, Governor National Coordinator of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) for her effective presence and dedication to the empowerment of Moroccan women and those of the rest of the continent, as well as
Her Excellency Mrs. Khoudia Mbaye, Minister of Investment Promotion, Partnership and State Development and Teleservices of Senegal, for her commitment to promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
Ms. Virginie Nkulu Nemba, Provincial Minister of Gender and Family of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for her support and commitment to empowering women in disadvantaged areas and efforts to promote peace and security and development;
Mr. Mohamed Sabri, Acting Wali in the region Marrakech – Safi, for his hospitality and support;
Ambassador Sihammed Alphadi, Ambassador of Peace to UNESCO and President of the International Festival of Fashion and Arts (FIMA);
Mrs. Olga Johnson, General Manager, Energies for Africa and elected in Paris;
The leadership of the Office Cherifien des Phosphates Group (OCP Group) for their commitment and unwavering support to women empowerment in the agricultural sector and to democratization of access to inputs;
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for its support to women income-generating activities;
UN Women, Initiative for Global Development (IDG) and US Africa Development Foundation and Coca Cola Corporation;
Our thanks also go to the national and international media that followed our work.
After two days of deliberations, the following resolutions were adopted:
We decided to unite our efforts by creating the platform named “AWAA”, an initiative aimed at creating a network of stakeholders dedicated to ensuring the effective empowerment of women in agriculture, with emphasis on those of the rural areas and underserved communities, enabling them to become productive, competitive and self-sufficient;
“AWAA” covers all the 4 agricultural subsectors namely farming, livestock, fisheries /fish farming and agro forestry and arts and handicrafts;
AWAA aims to continuously promote Africa’s socio- economic progress by enhancing the profile of women in agriculture in a bid to contribute significantly to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
AWAA’s mission is to continue to advocate for women farmers, to promote access to education, information and technology, access to financial services, business development services and credit and access to market;
We express to INDH, our wish to deepen our partnership.
We encourage the willingness expressed by INDH to collaborate with Niger in their poverty reduction program as well as with other African countries hosting AWAA groups;
We encourage women participation in the Human Development Forum scheduled to be held in Cameroon in late 2018, of which the INDH is co-organizer;
Niger will house the AWAA pilot project;
We support and accept invitations to collaborate on African women initiatives such as Sahraouia presented by Mrs. Laila Ouachi, International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) presented by Ambassadeur Alphadi planned in Dakhla in November 2018, the Association of Women Entrepreneurs Morocco of Marrakech Safi region (AFEM);
All the participants of this edition are AWAA and commit to mobilize and take concrete actions to make this initiative operational in their respective countries.
Angelle B. Kwemo
Approved by the participants of the conference “African Women in Agriculture” representing the following 18 countries: Morocco (host country), Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Canada, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Gambia, Ghana, Luxembourg, Mali, Nigeria, Norway, Senegal, Togo and United States of America.
Deep Kamara, the country manager of Dangote Cement Ethiopia, has been killed by gunment.
Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote (C) listens to a speech as he attends the rally organized to celebrate the 66th birthday of the leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos, on March 29, 2018. Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
According to reports by the Addis Standard, Reuters and several other Ethiopian news outlets, Kamara was shot dead on Wednesday afternoon by unknown assailants near the Dangote Cement Factory located some 85 kilometers west of Addis Ababa in Adeberga woreda, in the Oromiya region. Two other employees of Dangote Cement, a secretary and the driver of the country manager who were driving with Kamara, were also reportedly shot dead.
Ethiopia’s law enforcement agencies are yet to identify the assailants.
Today’s assassinations might be an indication that all is not well with Dangote’s operations in Ethiopia.Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has had a turbulent adventure in Ethiopia. In 2016, during the infamous wave of protests by the Oromiya people, protesters attacked and vandalized Dangote’s cement factory along with several vehicles and machinery. There have also been a series of other attacks from the local community on Dangote’s assets over some unresolved labor issues related to the private employment agencies hired by the company.
Last year, Dangote threatened to shut its operations in Ethiopia if the authorities in Oromiya did not reverse an order to cement makers to deliver control of some parts of their businesses to local young people.Carl Franklin, a spokesperson for the Dangote Group did not respond to a request for comment at the time of filing this report.
Tony Watima, a Kenyan economist who studies Ethiopian politics says the Dangote Group failed to properly investigate the socio-political dynamics of Ethiopia before venturing there.
“Dangote’s Ethiopian troubles are a pointer to what happens when you use a top-down approach of inducing senior government officials to initiate a project and fail to properly engage the community. Everyone knows the Oromiya region is an anti-government region. Dangote should have done better due diligence,” he says.
*Culled from Forbes.follow author on twitter @MfonobongNsehe. E-mail: mfon.nsehe @ gmail . com
About half of Nigerians surveyed trust the healthcare system but only 36% feel their healthcare needs are being met, highlighting a discrepancy between the healthcare expectations of Nigerians and the reality
Hospitals are the go-to treatment facility for basic health checks and vaccinations that should be addressed in a primary care setting indicating inefficient use of the healthcare system
Lagos, Nigeria – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today released findings from a survey, aimed to understand what the ‘Future of Health’ might look like in Nigeria and any associated challenges. Data from over 500 Nigerians interviewed, shows that 52% trust the healthcare system, although only 36% feel that their healthcare needs are being met. This highlights a clear discrepancy between the expectations of Nigerians and the reality of the healthcare system, indicating inefficiencies and ample room for growth.
Findings reveal that with more than half of Nigerians leaning on hospital facilities for the most minor of ailments, there is a clear need for improved access to primary care practitioners, local health facilities, tracking health indicators and a wider availability of information about health, nutrition and fitness. This approach is further reinforced by the fact that majority (65%) of Nigerians believe improved access to health facilities would make them more effective in managing their health, thus alleviating pressure on the healthcare system.
Commenting on the findings, Jasper Westerink, Chief Executive Officer of Philips Africa said, “This study highlights the need for a greater focus on preventive healthcare for a sustainable health system, especially given the prevalence of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The results also reinforce the need for the national government to invest a significant percentage of its healthcare budget towards medical research, preventive care, acute care and general health education. This also suggests that more personalised consultations, more first-time right diagnosis, and timely treatments from healthcare professionals (HCPs) will further help reduce the burden on the healthcare industry in the country.”
Westerink continues, “With these findings as a guiding light, we are engaging with all relevant stakeholders to drive the debate and ultimately improve the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare services for future generations. We believe that sustainable healthcare development requires a system-wide approach, combining technology, capacity-building including training, service and maintenance, as well as long-term financing. To that end, we aim to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare across the country and compliment significant efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s growing health sector.”
Other key findings include:
Nigerians feel the national government should be deploying an equal proportion of its healthcare budget toward “sick care” (49%) and on preventive measures (48%)
A majority (65%) of Nigerians believe improved access to health facilities would make them more effective in managing their health, followed by keeping track of health indicators (52%), and access to more information about health, nutrition and fitness (48%)
· 82% believe that the National Health Insurance will have a positive impact on patient outcomes over time
Among those who have ever seen a healthcare professional, most (64%) are confident in their healthcare professionals’ understanding of connected care technology
Looking to the future, consumers are increasingly expecting to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services. By harnessing digital technologies in this way, the healthcare sector will increasingly be able to empower human judgement, free up clinician time and personalize care services to put control in the hands of patients.
In order to increase the likelihood of connected care technology being used, training opportunities, informational resources such as databases of available technologies, and government subsidies to manage cost concerns, may be needed to improve health systems at a tertiary level. “Conversely, digitisation could additionally offer a breakthrough opportunity to improve the healthcare need of the Nigerian population by breaking down traditional cost structures,” said Westerink. “By connecting patients, and care providers with public health workers via mobile telecommunications on available cellular networks, we can fill critical gaps in primary care and have a lower cost base at the primary level of intervention.”
These findings indicate that there is significant room for growth if investment is made towards the sector. “Health practitioners in Nigeria must tap in to the benefits of information technology in order to change the face of medical practice in the country and avoid being left out of global trends. Although there are good medical doctors in Nigeria, there is also a need to develop new ways of delivering healthcare like telemedicine for instance.” says Westerink. However, the data from this survey in itself is not enough; it is vital that the findings trigger robust debate at a local level in order to benchmark measurements and ultimately contribute to progress,” Westerink explained.
The survey results were released today in Lagos at ‘The Future of Health’ summit in association with Forbes and CNBC Africa, where eminent speakers shared their insights and case studies on “The State of Healthcare in Nigeria”.
Background & Methodology
Agency One Voice Connect conducted an online survey among 503 adults in Nigeria between April 11-24, 2018. The figures are nationally representative of the online population of Nigeria. The margin of error for this study was +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level.
18-34 years old
35-54 years old
55+ years old
North Central (Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Federal Capital Territory)
North East (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe)
North West (Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara)
South East (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo)
South (Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo)
Queen Elizabeth II greets Adama Barrow, Gambia’s President, in the Blue Drawing Room. He wore the right color for the occasion. (Photo by Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Officially, we’re supposed to call the country that Senegal surrounds The Gambia. Not Gambia, but The Gambia, just like we say, “I’m going to The Netherlands,” and not “I’m going to Netherlands.”
It’s such a conceit that a country insists that we always use “The” before mentioning their name as if there were five Gambias and a dozen Netherlands. “Oh, no, I’m not going to any old Gambia, I’m going to The Gambia.”
Many nations have “The” in their long-form name: The Republic of China, The Czech Republic, and The United States of America. However, when we’re not feeling overly stuffy and diplomatic, these countries give us a short-form name: “You are going to China, Czechia, and Gringoland.”
In this article, we’re not going to give into the conceit of The Gambia. From now on, it’s just Gambia.
Gambia’s long-time dictator, Yahya Jammeh, talked like Donald Trump’s long-lost twin. Jammeh claimed that he could cure AIDS, high blood pressure, infertility, and asthma with herbs. He lied when he said that “the first Atlantic flight and the first flight from Eastern Europe landed in Gambia.”
However, his funniest fabrication was when he asserted that Gambia “is one of the oldest and biggest countries in Africa that was reduced to a small snake by the British government who sold all our lands to the French.”
Jammeh wasn’t always unintentionally funny. During his regime, people disappeared, journalists were assassinated, students and migrants were killed. He conducted a witch-hunt after he became convinced that a witch had killed his aunt.
He was a bigamist Muslim who said, “If you don’t believe in God . . . you are even below a pig.”
He said that he “would cut off the head” of any homosexual found in Gambia and that “we will fight these vermin called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
He added, “LGBT can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhea, Bacteria, and Tuberculosis, all of which are detrimental to human existence.”
In 2011, he told the BBC, “If I have to rule this country for one billion years, I will, if Allah says so.”
Five years later, it seems that Allah told him to end his 22-year dictatorship. Adama Barrow took over and reversed many of Jammeh’s worst decisions. Jammeh emptied the last $50 million in Gambia’s treasury on his way out and left the country saddled with $1 billion in debt (120% of GDP).
Barrow has a tough road ahead since his coffers are empty. However, he’s improved things that don’t cost money. For example, press freedom has increased dramatically. Reporters Without Borders moved the country up 22 spots in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Gambia is no longer a pariah .
In a country that is 90% Muslim, Gambians who are Christians feel safe, at least according to this priest:
Next time I’ll bring a bigger hat to match these guys. (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
One move that could spur a renaissance is if Senegal and Gambia united as much as possible to create Senegambia. Although a formal union like Zanzibar and Tanzania is extremely unlikely, a tighter union could help both countries, especially Gambia. Gambia could abandon its dalasi currency and adopt West Africa’s CFA currency to facilitate trade . Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau (two non-Francophone African countries) did just that in 1985 and 1997, respectively.
An even more radical idea is to teach French in schools. Most West African countries speak French. Gambians speak English well but they struggle to do business with the Francophones. Such ideas are terrible for the small-thinking, territorial Gambians who still rule over the broad-minded Gambians.
Albert Mendy, a Gambian in Banjul, theorized that Senegal’s relative wealth stems from not being as inward-focused as Gambia has been. He said, “Senegal was never fully independent because France kept helping them even after their independence. In Gambia, we became fully independent from the British who did little for us afterward. That’s why Senegal is far more developed than Gambia.”
When President Barrow was asked how he saw the future of Gambia, his answer was promising:
“It would be an inclusive country where tribalism will not have a place. I am the least tribal person you will ever see. I have mixed ethnic blood in me. I am a Sarahule, Mandinka, and Fula. Two of my sisters from the same mom and dad are married to Jolas. So tribe is not important. What is important is that we are all Gambians and should unite and work for the progress of our country.”
On my way out of Gambia, a customs official peeked in my truck’s backseat and pointed to something. I worried that he had spotted my professional camcorder and that he would invent some rule and force me to forfeit the camera. The customs official opened the backseat door. His eyes widened when he saw something fascinating: a dozen mangoes. I gave him one to encourage him to stop searching. He waved me through and then sat in the shade to enjoy the juicy fruit. Some African bribes are small.
Speaking about devouring fruits, some things haven’t changed in Gambia:
· The 7th edition of the most renowned annual pan-African innovation event by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to be hosted in Kigali from 11th to 12th of October 2018
· Rwanda selected due to its strong commitment towards building a knowledge economy and shaping ICT policies that catalyse African innovation
· Two-day event to feature strategic activities aimed at driving investments towards inclusive innovation ecosystems and culminate in an awards ceremony to reward top African innovators
Kigali| Rwanda, Tuesday, May 15, 2018 ? The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda announced today that Rwanda will host the 7th edition of the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). Aimed at showcasing African ingenuity as well as recognizing and connecting African innovators and entrepreneurs with key innovation ecosystems enablers, the 7th edition of IPA will take place from October 11th ? 12th, 2018, at Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda. The decision to host IPA in Rwanda received endorsement from the Government of Rwanda, and the Host Country selection was based on the bid Rwanda submitted which underscored the Government’s commitment towards building a knowledge based economy by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Commenting on the event, Honorable Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, Minister of Information Technology and Communications, said that it is a great honor for the country to host IPA2018 and emphasized on the effort made by the Government of Rwanda to adopt innovative solutions for the Country’s problems.
“We are delighted to host the Innovation Prize for Africa 2018. We commend AIF’s work to address the continent’s challenges through innovation. IPA’s message cuts across generations and puts forth mindsets that are passionate about the upliftment of Africa. Such an event showcases African ingenuity. We look forward to hosting these brilliant minds.”
Rwanda takes center stage in the push towards becoming an innovation-led knowledge economy
Rwanda’s strategic and widespread adoption of ICTs, which has propelled the nation towards socio-economic growth, makes it the ideal host nation for IPA 2018. The Government’s vision for 2020 is to transform Rwanda into a self-reliant, knowledge-based economy, and move its status towards becoming an upper-middle to high-income country. With an aim to become a leading innovation and technology hub in the continent, Rwanda is a pioneer in deploying Smart City technology to improve the lifestyles and social sustainability of its citizens. Tech hubs have been playing an important role in Rwanda’s innovation ecosystem, offering enabling environments for young Rwandans with business ideas to innovate. These hubs aim to support a new generation of Rwandese entrepreneurs that will create jobs and contribute to the economy. Moreover, the Government of Rwanda is committed to increasing competition in the continent to foster innovation, spur job creation and promote inclusive economic growth.
Honorable Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, Minister of Information Technology and Communications
Commenting on the partnership with the Government of Rwanda, the AIF Chairman of the BoardWalter Fust,said, “Recently, Rwanda has emerged as one of Africa’s most innovative economies, topping the ranks as far as science, technology and innovation (STI) capacity is concerned. The government’s goal to attract US$1 billion worth of ICT investments by 2020, backed by major milestones such as the Kigali Innovation City, is a reflection of its commitment towards digital transformation. Rwanda’s efforts to support innovation and promote high-tech sectors such as ICTs and life sciences are truly commendable. We are proud to partner with the Government of Rwanda to host IPA 2018 and look forward to collaborating with Rwandan innovators and innovation enablers in their quest to become an innovation-led knowledge economy.”
Increasing Pan-Africa wide efforts to invest in inclusive innovation ecosystems
Over the past six years, AIF has partnered with innovation enablers and governments in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa to host the Innovation Prize for Africa event. Together with its partners, AIF has made great strides in strengthening African innovation ecosystems through ongoing collaborative programs and strategic partnerships aimed at unlocking the potential of African innovators. Today, AIF has a network of over 9,400 African innovators across 55 countries and over 400 innovation enablers. IPA impact is illustrated by the fact that it has generated over US$ 30 Million in investments for African innovators and past winners/nominees have achieved commendable milestones benefiting not only themselves but also their communities.
Enthusiastic about hosting IPA 2018 in Rwanda, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, AIF Managing Director and IPA Program Director, commented, “We are delighted to showcase the continent’s best and brightest innovators during the 7th edition of IPA to be held in Rwanda. IPA 2018 is a call to African nations to collaborate and invest in building inclusive ecosystems that can drive needs-based innovation and support niche innovative enterprise across all segments of African society. We are delighted to partner with the Government of Rwanda and connecting our ever-growing Pan-African network of African innovators, enablers and partners with the country’s innovators and enablers. We are confident that this partnership will go a long way in helping to build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward.”
This year’s theme ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society. The aim is to increase access to innovative financing and know-how and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate. Women and young innovators/entrepreneurs, enablers with an interest in supporting social and tech innovations, and investors are invited to actively participate in the catalytic two-day IPA event.
IPA 2018 will bring together key government officials, public and private sector stakeholders as well as innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, researchers, policy makers, think tanks and STI experts. The two-day event will feature a series of strategic roundtables and workshops aimed at identifying solutions and key actions to drive investments in inclusive innovation ecosystems across Africa. It will also feature an innovation market place where IPA winners and nominees together with Rwandan and other selected African innovators will showcase their innovations to a Pan African and international audiences, including top tier media.
AIF works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa.
IPA is a landmark initiative of the AIF and its goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges.
IPA has been successfully celebrated in African major capitals representing African regions: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2012), Cape Town, South Africa (2013), Abuja, Nigeria (2014), Skhirat, Morocco (2015) Gaborone, Botswana (2016), and more recently in Accra, Ghana (2017). IPA was endorsed at its inaugural edition in Addis Ababa in 2012 where African ministers at the joint Africa Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) passed a resolution to support AIF to promote innovation-based societies across the continent.
Besides a host of exciting side events and brand new initiatives for Africa by Africans, IPA 2018 will offer the following prizes and incentives to winners and nominees:
√ Grand prize of US$100 000
√ Second Prize of US$25 000
√ Special Prize for Social Impact US$25 000
√ A voucher for each of the seven IPA nominees of US$5 000
√ Additional incentives include investment opportunities, training and access to AIF’s vibrant network of innovation enablers, ongoing PR support and media coverage
IPA thematic areas are: 1) Agriculture/Agri-Business; 2) Environment, Energy & Water; 3) Health &
Wellbeing; 4) Information Communication Technologies (ICTS); 5) Manufacturing and Service Industry
THE Federal Government on Monday in Abuja announced that $320m stolen funds by former late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, would be spent on the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme of the administration to support the poor.
Declaring open the Eighth Commonwealth Conference of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa, Buhari, represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said it was one condition given by the Switzerland authorities for the repatriation of the funds.
Buhari said that The Global Forum on Asset Recovery, after its inaugural meeting in Washington, DC, in December 2017, had facilitated efforts toward asset recovery and return.
“The GFAR saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and the Government of Switzerland for the return of an additional $320m of the Sani Abacha loot.
“Included in that agreement is the commitment that the funds would be invested in one of Nigeria’s flagship social investment programmes, the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable households in our country.’’ (NAN)
*Says : National Assembly helped fund new EFCC head office project.
By Olayinka Ajayi
L – R , Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Mrs. Patricia Scotland, Former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President Muhammadu Buhari, Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha and Acting Chairman, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu during the Official commissioning ceremony of EFCC Headquarters Office in Abuja on Tuesday 15th May, 2018.
Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara at the official commissioning of new headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday May 15, 2018 said: “With the commitment of the President Muhamadu Buhari to fight corruption, anyone who had gone to the former Head Office of the E.F.C.C as if you’re a foreigner visiting Nigeria for the very first time, the impression you’d leave with is that the fight is a joke, because we didn’t have a building that represented the seriousness with which the fight against corruption was attached. I am happy to say to Mr. President that by this singular effort, he has demonstrated that he has put his money where his mouth is. I am happy to say that it’s through the support of the National Assembly that funds were put together to complete this institution and I can assure you of our continued commitment to supporting the fight against corruption.”
“If world-class facilities such as this can fight corruption, then we can go home and be assured of winning the war against corruption. As important as this Head Office is however, it’s just like a computer, you can have a first-class hardware, but if the software is not good, you don’t have a computer. So emphasis must now be moved to those wonderful men and women who are sacrificing so much in order to ensure the war is sustained and won. We expect that the officers of the E.F.C.C should be angels, that is not a misplaced expectation, except for the reminder that angels live in heaven, they don’t live in hell. When you have an angel banished to hell, he’s now a demon, and demons cannot lead this fight. We have the active responsibility, and should take measures to insulate men and staff of this agency from temptations, that is by ensuring a practical means of engagement and service for them.”
“We must begin to change the narrative about corruption in Nigeria. The Chairman made a statement about a reference that was made of Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt country. Incidentally that statement was made in a city that is the home of the inflow of a lot of illicit funds. The person also stated that Nigeria leads the world in criminal enterprise, In fact that in the University of Lagos you can study and major in credit card fraud. That’s the narrative out there, but that must change due to the fact that we have a President who has won global acclaim as being corrupt-free. I can tell you that he is not alone in Nigeria, there are millions of Nigerians that we come across day by day who are corrupt free. As a representative of history, a prophet cried to God that there was no pure Prophet any more, that they had all bent their knees to baal. God replied this Prophet that He had reserved in that city thousands who had not bent their knees to baal. There are millions of Nigerians who have not bent their knees to the god of corruption.”
Cities will develop Climate Action Plans that deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement, with support from C40 and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
C40 launches new tools and resources to help all cities globally create ambitious, integrated and equitable climate action plans.
Ambode launch of the C40 Climate Action Planning Africa Programme
Lagos, Nigeria (15 May 2018) — Lagos, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Johannesburg & Tshwane today revealed their commitment to bold climate action and pledged to deliver on their share of the Paris Agreement. The commitments were made today in Lagos, at the launch of the C40 Climate Action Planning Africa Programme.
C40’s Climate Action Planning Africa Programme will provide direct support to the 9 African cities in developing unprecedented, robust and evidence-based long-term climate action plans that align with the ambitious objectives of the Paris Agreement. The support will include a dedicated city advisor based in each city, a series of workshops, and access to expert technical advice as needed. Nairobi and Abidjan have also joined the programme and are anticipated to submit their climate action commitments soon.
The launch event was attended by the Governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode; Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah; senior city representatives of the participating cities and Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities.
The C40 Climate Action Planning Africa Programme is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
“Cities in Africa are the fastest growing anywhere in the world,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris & Chair of C40. “The commitment of these nine mayors to bold climate leadership will deliver a sustainable future for these dynamic, and outward looking cities. It once again proves that cities are getting the job done and concretely delivering on the Paris Agreement to secure a bright future for all our citizens.”
“The realities of climate change and its effects on our collective survival and ability to thrive, are being realized by all. Our citizens are becoming more aware of these impacts,” said Hon M. Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra. “We cannot ignore the implications of what will befall us if we do not act now. A business as usual approach to our quest for socio-economic development will not aid in addressing the threat of climate change. Part of the actions we need, is the creation of a vision that embodies our passion to plan and implement initiatives that mitigate the negative effects or aids us to be able to adapt to the impacts. Lagos has given us the opportunity to come together as African Cities leading the way to interpret the Paris Agreement for the understanding of every man, woman and child in our local communities. There is more beyond this meeting; and those are the things we must prepare to address.”
C40 Cities today also launched the C40 Climate Action Planning Framework and online Resource Centre, which have been designed to support city climate planners deliver ambitious climate action. Both can be accessed at resourcecentre.c40.org.
C40 Climate Action Planning Resource Centre. This new website brings together a wide range resources – including video tutorials, podcasts, guidance documents, research reports and tools – for city climate planners to use as they develop ambitious, integrated and inclusive climate action plans which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and deliver wider social, environmental and economic benefits. The C40 Climate Action Planning Resource Centre is publicly available for cities to use.
C40 Climate Action Planning Framework. Developed in consultation with cities participating in the Deadline 2020 pilot programme – Boston, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York City and Paris – the Framework outlines the essential components of a climate action plan that is deemed to be compatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The framework is designed for flexibility, recognising the diversity of cities and their individual contexts.
To date, mayors of more than 40 C40 cities have publicly committed to develop and begin implementing ambitious climate action plans by 2020 that go beyond national commitments, in order to achieve the highest objectives of the Paris Agreement at the local level, demonstrating that the future is being shaped in the world’s megacities.
The summit took place in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is also chair of the African Union for 2018. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the event.
“When you are the largest economy on the continent, and it’s a tiny, small country like Rwanda who is leading the conversation on the CFTA, there’s a very simple question that you ask yourself: ‘Where is your leadership?'” Kie said.
By initially turning down the deal, Nigeria has the “leverage” to “get some of the conditions that they think are critical for the economy to now be put on the table,” Kie explained. “They (won’t) just absorb the impact of the decision that was taken, but they’re also part of the solutions that are going to come.”
“I’m just making a pure and basic analysis of the powers in presence, and I’m looking at what it entails,” he said. “All of this is political, it’s the heads of state that sign these agreements.”
Kie was confident that Nigeria would eventually subscribe to the deal.
“I don’t have any doubt that Nigeria will join” the free trade agreement in its own time, he said. “Nobody will doubt the interests of this for the continent.”
Kenya and Ghana, both African economies boasting strong fundamentals, ratified the agreement last week. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who leads the east African powerhouse economy which has seen double-digit GDP (gross domestic product) growth as recently as 2017, said on Monday that his country is ready to follow suit.
Intra-African trade currently comprises less than 20 percent of the continent’s total, with countries often focussed on exporting commodities to former colonial powers instead. It is hoped that the new free trade deal will shift emphasis away from this and towards manufacturing.
The African Union posits the agreement as uniting a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.
“We have to make sure that the rules of engagement when it comes to the free trade area are clearly defined,” both in terms of protecting national economies and establishing their manufacturing capacities, Kie said. “It’s not going to come overnight.”
Kofi Annan was secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006 and is a co-recipient with the U.N. of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He sat down with The WorldPost editor-in-chief Nathan Gardels for an interview, which has been condensed and edited for clarity. This interview originally appeared in the Washington Post on 10 May 2018.
There has been much debate about democratic dysfunction in the advanced world due to paralyzing polarization exacerbated by fake news and social media manipulation. Isn’t this also an issue in the fledgling democracies of the developing world, from Malaysia to Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere?
Kofi Annan: Yes. Inequality and the aftermath of the financial crisis, in which many have been left behind, is driving polarization in other parts of the world, including the countries you mention, just as it is in the West.
In both advanced and developing nations, we are threatened by forces exploiting fears and misgivings for political gain, and they are driving communities apart. As long as inequality and other social problems plague us, populists will try to exploit them. A report my foundation just released on Southeast Asia identifies populism, illicit electoral financing and the politics of identity as the biggest threats to democracy locally and regionally. Social media certainly acts as a catalyst and booster for such polarization, but it is often just as present in traditional media.
WorldPost: If even long-standing Western democracies are struggling with their own legitimacy and the appeal of demagogues or authoritarian leaders, aren’t the challenges all the greater in the developing world?
Annan: Developing and newer democracies are much more susceptible to the tactics of populists and demagogues — they often do not have strong institutions, free press or the infrastructure required to defend their nascent democracies.
That is why we need to safeguard the institutions that have been built to prevent blatant twisting of truths that erode trust in our elections and ultimately in democracy itself. My primary focus these days is promoting the legitimacy of democracy by ensuring the integrity of elections, whether from traditional threats, such as too much money in politics, or newer threats arising with the digital age.
If citizens do not believe they can change their leaders through the ballot box, they will find other ways, even at the risk of destabilizing their countries.
WorldPost: You visited Silicon Valley last week to look at how to curb the negative impact of social media on democracy. What was your takeaway?
Annan: No single solution or actor can deal with the complex and interrelated challenges to electoral integrity arising from manipulated data, hate speech and fake news.
These phenomena are not new; they have been part of electoral cycles since the advent of democracy. However, the unique manner in which social media and other technologies are being used to amplify the impact of these tactics in electoral cycles across the globe is a real concern. The speed, reach and volume that social media gives to fake news, disinformation and hate speech erodes trust in institutions and even in the electoral process itself.
It was also clear to me that these developments are challenging the fundamental social contract between voters and those who govern them. We require new mechanisms and frameworks — partly regulatory, partly based on new technologies and partly educational — to restore trust in electoral processes and elected leaders. That trust can only be built if political figures, tech leaders and citizens themselves work together to design these frameworks.
To give just one example, when I spoke before an audience at Facebook, I suggested they should organize a sort of a rapid response team to be called into a situation when it is clear that bots, trolls or fake news are evident. The team could alert electoral commissions or other authorities to offer advice on how to stop the problem before it gets out of control.
The challenge for all of us is to harness the opportunities of the digital age while mitigating the risks. I am encouraged by the people I met in Silicon Valley who were supportive of the idea of creating a commission supporting electoral integrity in the digital age. My foundation will soon launch such a global commission to address these urgent issues in all democracies.
The Akufo-Adod government has signed series of contracts with 10 companies for the production of organic certified seeds in Ghana.
Presently, only 25 percent of farmers in the West African State use certified hybrid seeds which improves yield. This is because most farmers complain about the high cost of purchasing inorganic fertilizers which support these seeds.
Technical Advisor to Ghana’s Agriculture Minister on the Planting for Food and Jobs program, Asante Krobea believes the development will impact positively to the success of the government’s planting for food and jobs policy.
According to him, one key challenge the government encountered following the commencement of the planting for food and jobs policy was inadequacy of seeds in the country.
“Seed availability or seed production cannot be done within one month or two months. If you need seeds next year you have to start planting it this year. So, immediately, we came into power we wanted to start within two months.
“So, all that we have to do was to look within the country and see all the available seeds, bring them together and see the type of support these seeds can give to farmers. It was there that we found out that the seeds available in the country were woefully inadequate for any massive program,” he stated.
Over 90,643 graduates have so far applied for recruitment under the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) initiative launched on May 1, 2018 officials have said.
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Ghana outdoored the NaBCo programme as a major government policy to tackle graduate unemployment in the West African Country. According to information from officials managing the scheme, more graduates are filing their applications for recruitment into all the modules under the program.
At the launch of the programme, Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo was optimistic that it will provide a major relief to unemployed graduates in Ghana. He said: “NaBCo will enhance the dignity and self-esteem of our graduates, and will also present them with the added benefit of efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of some essential public services.”
The government is hoping to employ 100, 000 graduates under the programme for three years, and they are expected to earn a monthly stipend of GH¢700 each. The modules are Feed Ghana, Educate Ghana, Revenue Ghana, Heal Ghana, Enterprise Ghana, Digitise Ghana and Governance Ghana.
Under the Feed Ghana module, the graduates will be engaged as agricultural extension officers to help farmers, while under the Educate Ghana module, the beneficiaries will be posted to senior high schools (SHSs) to teach especially Science and Mathematics.
In the case of the Revenue Ghana module, the graduates will work with the Ghana Revenue Authority to help in the collection of revenue, while under the Heal Ghana module, nurses who have been at home for years without jobs will be engaged to work in the health sector.
In respect of the Enterprise Ghana module, graduates will be assigned to various private sector enterprises for jobs and skills training, as well as development, while in the Digitise Ghana module, graduates will be posted to the IT sector for the Digital Ghana and the transformation agenda, where they will be attached to the National Identification Authority (NIA), the Ghana Post, the Births and Deaths Registry or the Land Title Registry to work. In the case of the Governance Ghana module, the graduates will be attached to various local authorities.
The module qualification and recruitment processes and all the essential criteria, along with detailed information, are available on the NaBCo website, www.nabco.gov.gh.
FILE PHOTO: Presidential aspirant and Nigeria’s former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar speaks as he presents his manifesto at All Progressives Congress (APC) party convention in Lagos early December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde AkinleyeREUTERS
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar will privatize parts of the country’s state oil company and allow the naira currency to float to attract foreign investment if elected as head of state, he told Reuters.
Abubakar also confirmed that he intends to run in next year’s presidential election, becoming the biggest opposition heavyweight to say he will take on Muhammadu Buhari.
The winner of February’s poll will lead Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation, which is central to regional stability as it battles Islamist militants in the northeast.
Abubakar, a former key ally of President Buhari whose resources helped propel him to power, quit the ruling party in November and re-joined the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a month later.
He has long enjoyed support from the business elite in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos for his conservative-capitalist ideals and, as vice president in a PDP administration from 1999-2007, he implemented a program of liberalization in areas including telecoms sector.
Abubakar said he would go further if elected president.
“I am also going to expand it to include the oil and gas sector which have not been touched at all and other major sectors of the economy like mining, solid minerals,” he said.
Abubakar said he would privatize parts of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has been beset by decades of mismanagement and is crucial to the OPEC member’s economic fortunes. He did not specify the parts that would be privatized.
“I am a strong believer in very, very small government and also the private sector,” he said.
A drop in crude oil prices from late 2014 pushed Nigeria into its first recession in 25 years in 2016, spawning chronic dollar shortages because oil receipts make up two-thirds of government revenue and most of the country’s foreign exchange.
The economy moved out of recession last year but growth remains weak and multiple exchange rates remain in place, imposed by the central bank to support Buhari’s insistence that the naira should not be allowed to float.
“I will allow the naira to float because I believe that is one of the ways foreign direct investment can be encouraged to come in,” said Abubakar, who hopes to replicate Buhari’s 2015 feat of winning a presidential election at the fourth attempt.
Buhari, who took office in 2015, and whoever becomes president next will face challenges ranging from weak economic growth to communal violence between semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency.
Abubakar – who, like Buhari, is a Muslim from the north – said voters would welcome someone who could revive their fortunes, adding that of his three previous presidential campaigns he was only once rejected by the electorate. He was not selected as a party candidate on the other two occasions.
Parties must select their candidate by Oct. 7. The next president should be a northerner, under an unofficial power-sharing agreement under which the presidency alternates between the north and south after every two four-year terms.
Bismarck Rewane, chief executive of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives, said the former vice president’s familiarity and age could be a disadvantage.
“To upset the Buhari candidature, you need something different: someone young, energetic and charismatic. You need something distinct from the current leadership,” he said.
Abubakar lacked Buhari’s popularity in northern states and at 71, just four years younger than the president, would struggle to generate “inter-generational appeal”, Rewane said.
The UN estimates that the median age in Nigeria is 18.
Lisbon, Portugal-One of the major highlights of the Sustainable Energy for All forum held in Lisbon, Portugal on 2 to 3 May, 2018 has been the launch of the Tracking SDG7 energy progress report where experts and panelists presented the findings from the SDG7 Tracking Report, including an update on global progress and challenges on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The development of the energy progress report was through collaboration between five SDG7 custodian agencies, specially constituted in a steering group comprising the International Energy Agency, World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Statistics Division.
The steering group was also supported by an advisory group composed of many global organisations keen to deliver on sustainable development issues. A candid outcome of the report presented to at least 1000 delegates from across the world, including developing countries especially from Africa reveals that the world is not currently on track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 which calls for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
Stakeholders and development partners working to improve on sustainable development issues have been urged to redouble their efforts in order to meet the intended targets.
The report notes that current progress falls short on all four of the SDG7 targets which encompass universal access to electricity as well as clean fuels and technologies for cooking.
A call for the doubling of the rate of improvement of energy efficiency plus a substantial increase in the share of renewables in the global energy mix has been made at the highly successful summit. On a rather positive note which raises hope for concerned stakeholders, the report notes real gains which have been made in certain areas such as expansion of access to electricity in poorer countries.
It says that expansion of access to electricity in poorer countries has recently begun to accelerate with progress overtaking population growth for the first time in sub Saharan Africa.
Other positives include energy efficiency which is reported to be continuing to improve driven by advances in the industrial sector.
Renewable energy is said to be making impressive gains in the electricity sector although it is added that these are not being matched in transportation and heating, which together account for 80% of global energy consumption.
According to the report, lagging furthest behind is access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, an area which is said to have been typically overlooked by policymakers.
It adds that use of traditional cooking fuels and technologies among a large proportion of the world population has serious and widespread negative health, environmental, climate and social impacts.
The report concludes by saying that more encouraging than global trends are the strong performances evident within specific countries, across both the developed and developing worlds.
It says that these national experiences provide valuable lessons for other countries.
It is concluded that evidence is mounting that with holistic approaches, targeted policies and international support, substantial gains can be made in clean energy and energy access that will improve the lives of millions of people.
The energy progress report provides a global dashboard on progress towards SDG7. The report tracks global, regional and country progress on the four targets of SDG7>energy access (electricity, clean fuels and technologies for cooking), renewable energy and energy efficiency, based on statistical indicators endorsed by the UN.
The report updates progress with the latest available data up to 2016 for energy access and 2015 for clean energy against a baseline year of 2010. A longer historical period back to 1990 is also provided by way of reference .
The energy progress report is a successor to the earlier Global Tracking Framework published in 2013,2015 and 2017) which was co led by the IEA and World Bank under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Energy for All (Se4ALL) initiative and builds on the same methodological foundation.
The South African side also managed to persuade Guinean side Horoya and the Confederation of African Football to postpone their Champions League tie by a week.
The match at Soccer City, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, is the second time that Sundowns have brought the Spanish champions out for a friendly match.
Barcelona have two games left this season as they aim for an unbeaten La Liga campaign, they play away at Levante on Sunday and Real Sociedad a week later with the South Africa trip in between.
In 2007, Sundowns billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe was alleged to have paid close to U$1 million to bring Barcelona out for a one-off friendly, which the Catalan side won 2-1 after being a goal down at half-time.
Motsepe, a mining magnate and the brother-in-law of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, attempted in the past to forge close links with Barcelona and used club legend Johan Cruyff as a sounding board at times.
It was Cruyff who recommended two former Barcelona stars – Hristo Stoichkov and Johan Neeskens – to coach Sundowns but neither had an impressive, nor lengthy, tenure with the Pretoria-based club.
Supporters of South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns
“The plan was to make the announcement on Monday in Spain. Somehow it got into the public domain and there have been so many enquiries,” Motsepe said on local radio as he confirmed the news.
“This is the year of the Nelson Mandela Centenary year. We have partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.”
It has been reported that part of the agreement for the fixture is that Barca will bring along their star names, such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, though with the World Cup in Russia looming, it remains to be seen how much time they will spend on the pitch.
President of the Republic of Ghana,Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has suspended four Justices of the High Court who were allegedly caught in the Judicial corruption scandal.
The judges are Mr. Justice Uuter Paul Dery, Mr. Justice Mustapha Logoh, Mr. Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo and Mr. Justice Charles Quist.
“The suspension follows the establishment of a prima facie case against the four Justices, by the Committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate alleged acts of bribery and corruption against certain persons, including the four Justices, as contained in the 29th August, 2015 petition of Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas,” a statement from the presidency said.
The decision was taken in accordance with the Judicial Council. The four judges are already in court challenging the decision to step aside over the allegations.
Three years ago, investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in a video dubbed: “Ghana in the Eyes of God” exposed 32 persons including judges and judicial service staff in a bribery syndicate to throw away cases.
About 24 judges have since been sacked over the same issue.
The move from being an international superstar to being the President of a country was always going to be difficult for George Weah more so considering the state of the country he inherited. In his inauguration speech, Weah did acknowledge the worrying state of affairs in Liberia stating, ‘Our economy is broken; our government is broke. Our currency is in free fall; inflation is rising.’ He also acknowledged the high rate of unemployment saying ‘Unemployment is at an unprecedented high and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low.’
Faced with such difficulties, no one would have been ridiculed if they had suggested that a man without the requisite leadership experience such as George Weah could help curb all the problems facing Liberia and take the country to the next stage. Weah, in his first 100 Days in Office has however proved that he is the solution to Liberia’s problems.
Impressive international offensive
Weah knew from the word go that any major developments in Liberia would need the help of foreign governments and other international actors. On that front, Weah didn’t waste time to start his forays into other countries soliciting for help in developing Liberia. Abroad, the first port of call was France. In France, Weah met President Emmanuel Macron who he urged to influence the European Union in extending EU assistance for rebuilding his country. The European Union and Liberia have already opened discussions on how the two can best help each other move forward. Any support that Liberia is to get from the EU would be massive to the people of Liberia.
On the African continent, Weah has already visited all of Liberia’s neighbouring states and ECOWAS members including Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. The fruits of these trips are visible for all to see. Nigeria pledged to help train Liberian teachers; the agreement is between the two governments of these states thus Liberians willing to train as teachers and approved by the government will have all their expenses catered for by the government. Ghana has also stated that it will be sending some of its doctors to work in Liberia as a way of reducing the high doctor-patient ratio, Liberia is currently facing. Cote d’Ivoire, on the other hand, has promised electric power from its grid. With Liberia looking for FDIs, power is one element that it desperately needs.
Unifying the nation
In his country, Weah has prioritised unity more than anything else. Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003 but the tensions between different ethnic groups can still be felt till this day. recognising that unity in strength is the most important thing Liberia need right now, Weah’s first act when he was sworn into power was to visit Joseph Boakai, his opponent during the elections and Liberia’s Vice President. Many Liberians saw this as a gesture of goodwill; during that visit, Weah stressed the importance of forgiveness and uniting for the common goal which is to move the country forward.
Another important step that Weah took soon after his swearing in ceremony was to cut his salary by 25 percent. Political observers in the country lauded this development saying that it shows Weah’s commitment to deal with the ever-increasing gap between the poor and the rich which has resulted in dissatisfaction among the ordinary folk.
Liberia a country for all
Weah recently announced his plans to amend the constitution to allow foreigners acquire citizen status while removing the law which prohibits foreigners from owning property. In his drive to promote investment, this is a crucial step which is going to inspire confidence among foreign investors and will lead to an influx of capital once all the prohibitive laws are removed. This will not just help to improve the country’s economy but it will also help in alleviating poverty, raise the standard of living and reduce the high unemployment.
It’s not smooth sailing however for Weah as he has faced criticism on some fronts thus far particularly in relation to the issue of corruption. Many argue that Weah has not deviated from the way his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf conducted herself when it comes to corruption. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was often accused of employing and putting her close relatives to positions of power in various state bodies. Weah has had to face similar criticisms when it “emerged that three of Weah’s brothers had been employed at the Freeport of Monrovia. They were recruited by the National Port Authority’s acting managing director Cecelia Cuffy-Brown, a Weah appointee. Not only was this reminiscent of former president Sirleaf’s appointments of family members to key positions, but an investigation by FrontPageAfrica suggested that the new recruits were being paid four times the salaries of even the heads of their departments.”
The new appointments are to strengthen the Group’s executive management team and to consolidate on its strategic business growth trajectory
Adenike Fajemirokun, the Group Chief Risk Officer has been elevated to the office of Group Executive Director, President’s Office
LAGOS, Nigeria, May 2, 2018/ — In order to strengthen the group’s Executive management team and sustain its strategic business growth trajectory, Africa’s foremost indigenous conglomerate, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) (www.Dangote.com) has announced new appointments.
In the new organizational rejig, Olakunle Alake the erstwhile Chief Operating Officer (COO) is now the Group Managing Director and Dr. Adenike Fajemirokun, the Group Chief Risk Officer has been elevated to the office of Group Executive Director, President’s Office, where she will take on new roles in addition to her schedule as the Risk Officer. She is the first ever female executive director in Dangote Group.
The management also announced the appointment of Austine Ometoruwa as Group Executive Director, Corporate Finance and Treasury.
Earlier the Board of Dangote Cement Plc, global, announced the appointment of Cherie Blair and Mick Davies as Independent Non-Executive Directors.
President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, speaking on the new appointments said “it is exciting seeing a female occupy such a high position. We are gender sensitive and create equal opportunities for both male and female to get to the top.”
“The new appointments are to strengthen the Group’s executive management team and to consolidate on its strategic business growth trajectory”, he added.
Alake has been the Chief Operating Officer of Dangote Industries Limited since 2007. He serves on the board of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, NASCON Allied Industries PLC, Dangote Cement PLC and Dangote Flour Mills PLC. Mr. Alake’s experience spans 34 years which covers banking, management consultancy and manufacturing industries.
He joined Dangote Group in July 1997 and served as its Financial Controller and Head of Strategic Services till 2001 when he was appointed to the board of Dangote Industries Limited as Executive Director/ Group Strategist.
He started his working career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a firm of Chartered Accountants in September 1984 and left in 1990 to join Liberty Merchant Bank Limited as the Financial Controller for three years.
Olakunle Alake, the erstwhile Chief Operating Officer (COO) is now the Group Managing Director
Between August 1993 and July 1997, Mr. Alake served as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Merchant Securities Limited and was part of the team that provided consultancy services for the smooth take-over of the International Trust Bank Plc, by Dangote Group in August 1996. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. Mr. Alake holds a
Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 1983.
Dr. Fajemirokun, a consummate Risk Management & Insurance specialist has over 18 years diverse experience in developing and implementing risk management strategies in Financial, Engineering, Manufacturing and other industries.
She started her career with Ove Arup and Partners as a Fire Engineer where she was responsible for carrying out qualitative and quantitative risk assessment of various assets and developing risk assessment frameworks for quantifying identified risks.
She later joined Deutsche Bank AG, UK, and served in senior leadership roles such as Director and Global Head Operational Risk, Head of Transaction Management Group for leverage finance at the Corporate and Investment Bank. Prior to specializing in the Risk Management field, she held positions in finance as a front office quantitative analyst at Goldman Sachs London and New York.
Dr. Fajemirokun worked with First Bank of Nigeria where she developed the operational risk management framework for the bank as well as its Business Continuity Certification by the British Standard Institute. She also managed and tracked the firm’s risks across all directorates, transaction services and alternative investments.
In 2010, She founded and headed AFRisk Management Consultants Limited which developed the enterprise risk management frameworks for some of the country’s major institutions including Central Bank of Nigeria, First Bank Nigeria and First Bank Capital Plc.
She was appointed Chief Risk Officer of Dangote Group in 2013 and leads the Risk Management Functions for the Group and its various Businesses where she oversees the company’s governance model and enterprise risk program. She develops and manages processes to identify, assess, monitor and reduce risks that could interfere with the achievement of the company’s goals and objectives. She is also responsible for managing the Group’s Insurance, Procurement Portfolio and Logistics.
A holder of B.Eng. in Civil, Structural and Fire Engineering and a Ph.D. in Risk Informed Engineering both from the University of Manchester, UK, Dr. Fajemirokun is a Fellow of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Specialist member (SIRM) of the Global Institute of Risk Management. She is also a visiting professor at the University of Manchester, UK. She has been recognized globally for her work with the Operational Riskdata Exchange Association (ORX), Institute of Risk Management, UK. She is a member of the Lagos State Research and Innovation Council.
Austine Ometoruwa, Group Executive Director, Corporate Finance and Treasury
Ometoruwa is an accomplished international investment banker. Prior to joining the Dangote Group as the Group Executive Director, Corporate Finance and Treasury, Austine Ometoruwa provided advisory services to the Dangote Group over the past 25 years in his capacity as the Executive Chairman of his firm, Boston Trico Capital LLC.
He started his professional career as a credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank. He thereafter progressed to Bank of Boston as the General Manager in Nigeria before moving on to Standard Bank of South Africa (Stanbic) as Strategy Consultant.
Mr Ometoruwa was the first Nigerian appointed as Executive Director to the Board of Citibank Nigeria leading its West Africa investment banking and subsequently as CEO and Regional Director of Corporate & Investment Bank, Citibank Middle East North Africa (MENA) operating in Cairo, London & New York.
Mr Ometoruwa setup and launched the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as the founding President and CEO.
He was awarded the Dean’s Prize and First Class Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria.
Cherie Blair, Independent Non-Executive Director
Cherie Blair CBE, QC is a leading barrister with over 35 years’ experience in arbitration, mediation, public international law, human rights, employment law and European Community law. She studied law at the London School of Economics (LSE) and graduated with a First Class Degree in 1975. While studying for her Bar examinations she also taught Law at the University of Westminster. Cherie came top of her year in her Bar examinations and was called to the Bar in 1976. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1995.
In 2000, shortly before the implementation of the Human Rights Act, Cherie and 21 other prominent Barristers set up a ground breaking legal practice, Matrix Chambers. She has also argued cases in the House of Lords, one of the most well-known being the Begum case. She is an accredited Advanced Mediator under the ADR Chambers/Harvard Law Project and an Elite Mediator with Clerksroom.
Cherie Blair, has appeared in the European Court of Justice and in multiple Commonwealth jurisdictions and also lectures internationally. She is the Chancellor Emeritus and Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University; Governor Emeritus and Honorary Fellow of the LSE and the Open University (D.Univ.Open 1999); LLD (Hons), University of Liverpool (2003); Hon.D.Lit UMIST (2003); Doctor of Laws (Westminster University).
Cherie Blair is the Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy where she focuses on strategic international legal and advisory work and practices as a barrister, representing over 30 governments as well as numerous multinational corporations in international disputes.
In 2012, she was designated to serve on the ICSID panel of arbitrators and is a panellist at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration. She continues to work independently, primarily as an arbitrator and mediator
Cherie is closely involved with various charities and is a strong advocate for women’s rights. She is the founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which runs programmes to support women entrepreneurs across the developing world, including Africa. She is also Vice Chair of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership founded by Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Cherie sits as an Honorary Chair of the World Justice Project. In 2007, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill medal in recognition of her high ideals and courageous actions.
In 2013, she was awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours for her services to women’s issues and to charity in the UK and overseas.
Cherie is also an active campaigner for prison reform and was ‘President of The Commission on English Prisons Today’ between 2007 and 2009, under the auspices of the Howard League for Penal Reform.
She is an adviser to “B Team,” a not-for-profit initiative formed by a global group of leaders, to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit. She is wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Sir Mick Davies is currently Chairman of Macsteel, a global trading shipping company, and Chief Executive of the Conservative party of the United Kingdom.
Davies has occupied several directorship positions. From 2001 to 2003, he was Chief Executive of Xstrata Plc, one of the world’s largest global diversified mining and metal companies; executive director and chief financial officer of Billiton Plc; Chairman of Billiton Coal and Executive Director of South African State-owned Eskom.
With extensive capital markets and corporate transaction experience, he has raised over US$40 billion from global capital markets and successfully completed over US$120 billion of corporate transactions. He participated in the creation of the lngwe Coal Corporation in South Africa; listing of Billiton on the London Stock Exchange; merger of BHP and Billiton into the largest diversified mining company in the world and the successful merger of Xstrata and Glencore amongst others.
Sir Davies is the immediate past President of the Council of Members and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council in the United Kingdom, member of the Brookings International Advisory Council and a Trustee of the Institute of National Security Studies, Israel.
He is a Chartered Accountant by profession and an alumnus of Theodor Herzl School in Port Elizabeth. He holds an honours degree in Commerce from Rhodes University. South Africa, and an Honorary Doctorate from Bar llan University. In the 2015 Queen’s birthday Honour’s list, he was made a Knight’s Bachelor
Since the conduct of the Kano State Local Government elections on the 10th of February 2018, the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been immersed in an underage voter controversy as reports revealed that several minors had allegedly participated in the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC)
Reports in the media, particularly the social media, showed how several underaged persons participated in the KANSIEC election that was won in a landslide by the state ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
It has since therefore been difficult for INEC to disassociate itself from the implicit and explicit implications of the outcome of that infamous election in one of Nigeria’s most populated states.
In some of the allegations as claimed by the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was the suggestion that since the National Register of Voters compiled by INEC was used in the election, the alleged problem of underaged voting in the Kano Local Government election is linked to a prevalence of underaged registrants in the National Register of Voters as provided by INEC.
Reacting to this scenario, the National Chairman of INEC professor Mahmood claimed that there have not been any formal complaints raised to notify the Commission about this situation. In his words, “I must note that till date, not a single formal complaint on this matter has been received by the Commission, rather some stakeholders including a political party, have taken to the media to criticize INEC and in some cases to impugn the integrity of the National Register of Voters.”
Concerned that some of these claims being made about the Register could create doubts in the minds of citizens about INEC’s preparations for the forthcoming general elections, the Commission on the 21st February 2018 set up an investigative panel into the allegations that underaged persons voted in the Kano State Local Government election, using the Voters Register given to KANSIEC by INEC, as prescribed by law.
Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan the PDP Publicity Secretary speaking to Uchechukwu Ugboaja stated that INEC need not wait until a formal complaint is made to it before the right thing is done. According to him, “If they (INEC) claimed not to have received a formal complaint why did they constitute a committee to go to Kano to investigate the issue, so what we are saying is that INEC as an arbiter cannot continue to pick and choose issues that fall within its purview to deal with as it is obvious that they also need to send a committee to Katsina as well, this situation worries the PDP because INEC continues to act like a parastatal under the Presidency, which is quiet disheartening to Nigerians,” he said.
The investigative committee has however since released its report to the commission and after weeks of receiving their findings, INEC finally released their report. One of the findings in the report of the investigative committee as previously raised by the PDP is the noncompliance to the INEC Voter Register by KANSIEC.
One of the submission of the committee stated that, “The Register provided by INEC was only sighted in a few polling units, as the register was not used in most of the polling units.” This to a very large extent proves that the use of PVC largely did not take place. With this INEC claims that even though they had provided KANSIEC with the updates voter register, it was clear that the state electoral body only complied partially.
INEC however, faulted the veracity of the pictures and videos on social media claiming that an examination of the images and videos may have been available long ago before the Kano LG polls, but the PDP continue to insist that those pictures and videos have what is called ‘time stamps’ on them which make them indubitable under critical forensic examination.
Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, the PDP spokesperson claimed that INEC cannot rely on the report of an internally set up committee to absolve itself of alleged collusion with the Kano state electoral body to manipulate the outcome of the LG elections as the likelihood of a repetition is imminent in 2019 if it fails to come clean before Nigerians and the entire world on the integrity of the Voter Register.
“The committee set up by INEC is an internal committee of the commission and cannot absolve INEC of allegations that the PDP or Nigerians have made with regards to the the Kano elections.”
He further stated that, the committee didn’t address the the major issue which is that INEC had registered under age voters in Kano, either in the past for previous elections or in anticipation for 2019 polls.
“PDP have not claimed that INEC conducted LG elections in Kano, what we are saying is that it is the register that INEC provided for KANSIEC that have been used to conduct the election and that there were underaged voters on that list, but we thank God that we are in the age of communication technology where people were able to capture scenes of minors brandishing PVC’s on pictures and videos, because we know that it is only INEC that have the authority to issue PVC’s as they are now trying to pass the bulk to KANSIEC.”
“We are however happy that in their statement INEC have promised to go through the register in collaboration with other stakeholders to screen the register with a view to weed out the underage voters in the list, because INEC cannot go into 2019 general elections with this army of underage voters, it will only be a disaster for Nigeria in the end.”