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Merck Foundation supports the training of Thirty Future Oncologists in Africa through one and two-year Oncology Fellowship Program
May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Twenty candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Kenya have enrolled in the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program
 

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8, 2018/ —

  • Merck gives back to society through Merck Foundation’s programs to build Cancer Care Capacity in Africa.
  • Merck Foundation provides Africa with Thirty New Oncologists through Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program established in India, Kenya, Malaysia, and Egypt.
  • SDG 3 calls us to sustainably invest in building Healthcare Capacity to improve access to equitable healthcare solutions.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation meets the future Oncologists, who are undergoing Merck Oncology Fellowship Program in India

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation meets the future Oncologists, who are undergoing Merck Oncology Fellowship Program in India

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA (www.Merck.com) Germany, continues the second stage of their Africa Oncology Fellowship Program that started in 2016 with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa.

In June 2017, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), and the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) released a white paper on the African continent’s emerging cancer crisis.  Over 20% of African countries have no access to cancer treatments at all, while access is limited and sporadic in other countries. Later-stage diagnosis in African patients contributes to poorer outcomes. For example, 5-year female breast cancer relative survival rates are 46% in Uganda and 12% in The Gambia, compared with around 90% in developed countries, the report cited.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “One of the main objectives of Merck Foundation is to build a strong platform of qualified medical, paediatric and surgical oncologists across the continent through the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program.”

“Twenty candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Kenya have enrolled in the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program in partnership with African Ministries of Health, the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Tata Memorial Centre, India, and Cairo University, Egypt. We are very proud of our contribution, to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of Cancer care in the continent.” Rasha Kelej added.

In partnership with Ministries of Health and Academia across Africa, the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program provides one-year and two-year oncology fellowship programs and a three-year master degree in medical oncology at Tata Memorial Centre, India, University of Nairobi, Kenya, University of Malaya, Malaysia, and Cairo University, Egypt, respectively.

Launched in 2016, with the aim to increase the limited number of qualified oncologists in the continent, three medical doctors from Sub-Saharan African countries Kenya, and South Africa were granted a two-year Africa medical oncology fellowship training at the University of Nairobi. Also, Merck Foundation supported another two African doctors from Ghana and Tanzania for the Paediatric and Adult.

Medical Fellowship program that is conducted annually at Tata Memorial Centre, India.

In 2017; Merck Foundation partnered with more African countries such as; Rwanda, Liberia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Botswana and Uganda to provide ten candidates with the one-year oncology fellowship program in India and three candidates from Liberia, Ghana and Namibia to conduct a master degree in clinical oncology at Cairo University, Egypt.

“In 2018, We will continue to enroll more candidates and engage other countries on this program as we firmly believe this is a vital component of improving the quality and accessibility of cancer care in Africa. We have received requests from countries such as; Niger, guinea, Gambia, the Central African Republic to partner with them through their First Ladies’ offices and Ministries of Health to provide our fellowship program to their doctors with the aim to improve access to quality cancer care in their countries and across the continent. Merck Foundation will continue their long-term commitment to further partner with more Sub-Saharan African Countries to realize their vision to create a strong platform of future trained oncologists “, Rasha Kelej added.

The partnership between Merck Foundation and The African First ladies’ organization has been established in Jan 2018, to cooperate in building healthcare capacity with the special focus on cancer, Diabetes and fertility care in their countries with the support of their Ministries of Health.

Merck Foundation has supported the African governments to define their strategies, to emphasize on building professional capacity and focus on long-term training, with the aim to develop trained oncologists and not only relying on Drug or equipment donation, which will help them to be independent and would overcome their major challenge, which is the lack of skilled oncologists and healthcare professionals in general.

Merck Foundation strongly believes that building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care in Africa.

Merck Foundation makes History:

Merck Foundation will train the first medical Oncologist in some Sub- Saharan African Countries such as the Gambia and Guinea Conakry where they never had an oncologist or cancer care facility, we are making history there, and through them, we will transform people’s lives every day.

The annual platform of Merck Foundation- Merck Africa Asia Luminary and Solutions for Cancer Access:

Since 2013, Merck Africa Asia Luminary features a workshop dedicated exclusively to improve access to cancer care through Capacity building through Merck Foundation, www.merck-foundation.com. It convenes key players from the global, regional and local cancer network, health ministers, and First ladies, with the goal of encouraging dialogue among stakeholders, raises awareness of the issues, explores partnership opportunities to generate ideas for potential solutions to existing challenges.

Merck Foundation Vision and Call for Action: 

“A world where everyone should lead a healthy and fulfilling life, this is Merck Foundation ‘s vision. We are working together to achieve the Sustainable Development goals- SDGs. The SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, calls us to sustainably invest on building healthcare capacity to improve access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable healthcare solutions for all by 2030.”  Kelej emphasized.

Background:

The African Union has targeted by 2063, every citizen will have full access to affordable and quality health care services, and integrated and comprehensive health services and infrastructure will be in place, where services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable and of quality.

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

 

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Africa Investment Forum endorsed as a game changer for financing Africa’s infrastructure development
May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 8, 2018/ — By 2050, just 32 short years from now, Africa’s growing population will tip the scales at a whopping 2 billion, with a youth of 840 million. In the process, the continent will overtake the populations of China and India combined.

Financing Africa’s development needs will require an estimated US $600-700 billion per annum. According to the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.orgAfrican Economic Outlook 2018 , of this, about US $130-170 billion a year in infrastructure will be needed.

To address these challenges, the African Development Bank has launched the Africa Investment Forum , a platform to mobilize private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and the private sector to facilitate infrastructure projects with the capacity to transform the continent.

The Premier of Gauteng Province, Africa’s seventh largest economy, David Makhura, endorsed the Forum as a game changer for financing Africa’s infrastructure development at the launch of the African Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

“It’s an honour to receive a vote of confidence from one of the most influential, respected and credible institutions of our continent. I want to assure the African Development Bank, and members of the African and global investor community that we are ready to host a highly successful Africa Investment Forum in November. We have an impeccable track record of hosting continental and global events of the magnitude and significance represented by the Africa Investment Forum,” Makhura said at the formal launch of the Forum.

The Bank and the Government of Gauteng Province on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement to host the inaugural edition of the Africa Investment Forum   from November 7 to 9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Makhura referred to the Africa Investment Forum as more than a Davos of Africa, stating that “we as the Gauteng Provincial Government are very pleased to have won the bid to host this biggest and unparalleled investment platform on the African continent. It’s a great platform that will translate Africa’s professed potentials into real opportunities and progress.”

He added, “The November Inaugural Africa Investment Forum fits very well with the investment drive of President Ramaphosa and will be one of the most important platforms for our government and local businesses to pitch for greater levels of investment. Gauteng-based investment companies have already invested more than $30 billion in different regions of Africa. We have a 15-year infrastructure masterplan with a portfolio of bankable projects that require more than $150 billion over 10 years.”

While Africa is the next investment frontier, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between available capital and bankable projects, said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, noting the Africa Investment Forum will help make Africa a place where its young people want to live and thrive in.

“The overall Investment gap for Africa to achieve overall economic development is actually much higher and stands at $200 billion to $1.2 trillion a year. Impediments to bankable projects must be resolved to create win-wins for governments, development finance institutions and other relevant stakeholders. Africa must invest in its own development if it wants others to do so,” he said.

“This is the essential reason for the new approach of the Africa Investment Forum, a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary platform that will incentivize collaboration for the economic and social development of Africa. This will primarily be about transactions and investment deals for Africa’s economic development and not a talk shop.”

Adesina noted that financing Africa’s development is and has always been a collective and cooperative task, requiring broad-based partnerships with the private sector.

“We know that the money is there. By 2020, there will be close to $111 trillion assets under management globally that are invested around the world often at very low interest rates. Within Africa, the assets under management of domestic institutional investors will rise to $1.8 trillion by 2020, tripling from $634 billion in 2014. Most of this money isn’t invested in Africa. But Africa should invest in its own development if it wants others to do so.”

Key industry leaders have endorsed the Forum as a unique opportunity for the private sector to invest in transformative projects across key sectors of strategic interest in Africa.

Investor Relations and Communication Executive at Harith General Partners, Pule Molebeledi, described the investment guarantee component of the AIF as a game changer.

“This will be a major catalyst for projects that are currently stuck in the pipeline,” he said.

The African Development Bank is committed to working with other multi-lateral development partners, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance funds, private sector and stakeholders to ensure that the Africa Investment Forum becomes Africa’s key springboard for African investment and for meeting the continent’s massive infrastructure and development needs. This is the first time ever that several multilateral development banks will come together on a single platform designed to bring a major pipeline of bankable projects to completion.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

*AFDB

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‘The educator must be educated’
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

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

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

This piece is a memo to the Nigerian Left. In an ideal situation, on account of the importance I attach to the subject, the document would have appeared, first, as an internal memo to an appropriate organ of the movement. For the same reason of importance, it would not have stopped at the organ or leadership level. The memo would have passed to the movement as a whole and, thereafter, to the public.

However, because the situation is not ideal—and this is the subject of the memo—I am moving directly to the public. The message in the memo comes at the end of the article. It is a short and direct one. I am therefore utilizing the available space to reflect on a related issue of general interest. The “related issue” supplies the title of the piece. And, “for the avoidance of doubt” and “for completeness”, I define the Nigerian Left in this historical epoch as the aggregate of Marxists, socialists and partisans of popular democracy.

Found in one of the “mountains” of papers, drafts and study notes left behind by Karl Marx at his death in 1883 was a rough document carrying a series of his critical observations on the works of the materialist philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach. The discovery was made by Marx’s life-long friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels. The latter considered the note important enough to be edited, titled and published post-humously as an article and later used for a larger publication. This post-humous article, written by Marx in Brussels in the first half of 1845, and published in 1888 by Engels, has been passed to history and to us as Theses on Feuerbach. In Engels’ view, the “note” which later became Theses on Feuerbach was “the first document in which is deposited the brilliant germ of a new world outlook”, that is, the Marxist theory of history and society. That is for interested students and researchers to examine.

It may interest Nigerian Leftists, progressives, patriots and radical democrats to know that I have also discovered important “theses” in the papers left behind by a number of our departed comrades and compatriots. I have drawn the attention of some comrades to this development. What is interesting in the latter discoveries is that the “theses” have now shed more light on some critical issues that were bitterly debated in the Nigerian Left some decades ago. Some of these issues had led to seemingly irreconcilable divisions and fights; others had led to frustrations, disillusionment, abandonment and premature retirement from struggle.

Back now to Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach. There are eleven of them, or rather, in my view, Engels and latter editors handed over Marx’s theses on Feuerbach to us in eleven segments of unequal lengths. Historically and in broad terms, Marx can be classified, along with Ludwig Feuerbach, as a “materialist” philosopher in contrast to “idealist” philosophers of whom the most famous and best known in Europe of Marx’s time was Hegel. Marx, a student of philosophy and history, started off as a radical or Left Hegelian.

From here he became a critic of Hegel and came under the influence of Feuerbach, a radical anti-Hegelian. It was in the course of confronting the “inadequacies” of Feuerbach that Marx formulated his “theses”. In these theses he called Feuerbach’s materialism the “old materialism” or “mechanical materialism” and his own “the new materialism”. The latter was later codified—after Marx’s death—as Marxist theory of history and society.

I consider three of Marx’s eleven theses on Feuerbach—the second, the third and the eleventh—as the most lucid and direct applications of dialectics to the study of history and society. The second thesis can be rendered as follows: “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory. It is a practical question. In practice, a human being must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”.

The third thesis may be rendered like this: “The doctrine that human beings are products of circumstances and education and that, therefore, changed human beings are products of other circumstances and changed education forgets that the educator himself needs educating. That doctrine as presented by old materialism or contemplative materialism necessarily arrives at dividing society into two parts—one of which is superior to the other. That is not so. In reality the changing of circumstances and human activity coincide; and the coincidence can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.”

The eleventh thesis is the most well-known and is often quoted by revolutionaries and reactionaries alike: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”. To these three theses we may add the following line from Marx’s The Holy Family written just before the Theses: “If a human being is formed by his/her circumstances, then his/her circumstances must be made human.”

We may now move to my message to the Nigerian Left—the main subject of this piece. The message resolves into seven propositions. The first is the “covering” proposition. It is general in nature. The other six are specific. One: There should be initiated in the Nigerian Left a process of internal criticism, education and correction. It should be a process that ends in an organizational leap. The process and the leap are now demanded more than ever before in our post-Civil War history. Two: The national situation in our country now strongly demands that the existing political groups, organisations and parties of the Nigerian Left—as well as unaffiliated Leftists— should combine to form a central political platform. Three: This platform should have a dual form: electoral and non-electoral.

The fourth proposition is this: Independently, Marxists within the Nigerian Left should establish an educational-ideological centre with the capacity for minimum continuity. Five: The centre should be appropriately allied to the political platform; and the two should support and nourish each other. Six: The Nigerian Left should articulate and publish a manifesto that goes beyond being a general presentation. The manifesto should take clear and precise positions on the burning questions of the time. Seven: If the Nigerian Left cannot meet these elementary conditions to confront the challenges of the present stage of our history then it has no basis to enter electoral politics or seek electoral alliance with anybody.

In May 1949, at the start of the anti-communist hysteria which swept America after World War II, a number of American Marxists who were also academics and public intellectuals came together and established an enlightenment-ideological centre. The centre went on to establish a monthly “independent socialist magazine” called Monthly Review.

Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman were the magazine’s co-founders and foundation editors. Today, 69 years later, Monthly Review is not only still appearing monthly and circulating all over the world, it had long become a global institution—carrying out intellectual, academic and ideological programmes and projects in all the continents of the world including America, in particular. Among the articles that appeared in the foundation issue of Monthly Review in May 1949 was one by the world-historic physicist, Albert Einstein. The article was titled Why socialism?

In addition to the Monthly Review magazine, there are now Monthly Review Press and Monthly Review Foundation. The Press publishes highly valued books authored by writers spread across the globe and also distributing important non-Monthly Review books. In other words, Monthly Review Organisation has maintained what I call minimum continuity through almost seven decades—influencing Left and radical politics throughout the world, including America, in particular.

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

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We’ll not tolerate attacks on Journalists – Ghana Police
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

The Ghana Police Service has vowed to tackle growing attacks on journalists in their line of duty. The pledge comes after a recent attack on an Accra based Adom FM journalist by the governing New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) raucous Hajia Fati at the party’s headquarters.

Prior to this, another Multimedia journalist, Iddrisu Latif was assaulted by some police personnel at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters.The surge in attacks has sparked criticism, with some experts warning that the trend could affect the country’s press freedom index ranking.

“This issue about attack on Journalists has been raging for the past three or one month ago and the police administration took some important steps,” said the Director General of Public Affairs for the Ghana Police Service, ACP David.

According to him, there has been a meeting between the police administration and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), where the IGP stated very clearly “that attacks on journalists or any other person is unlawful and the police will not tolerate that.”

That notwithstanding, he urged victims of such attacks to report the incidence to the police for the appropriate actions to be taken. “Sometimes when these cases happen we only here of them on the air….we will advise the journalists to take step because an assault on a person is a crime. Take steps and report to the nearest police station and make sure the police enter the case,” he admonished.

Meanwhile, the governing NPP has condemned the attack on the Adom FM journalist, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa, by Hajia Fati.

The vociferous NPP supporter has admitted slapping the Adom FM’s newscaster at the party’s headquarters. According to her, she assaulted the reporter because she failed to seek her consent before taking pictures of her.

However, in a statement on Tuesday, 8 May 2018, the acting General Secretary of the NPP John Boadu said the party distances itself from the act “and condemn it unreservedly.”

“The party wishes to assure Ghanaian journalists that, it respects and cherishes the role of the media as partners in development and does not condone any action intended to suppress press freedom.

“No journalist should feel intimidated and must continue to discharge his/her duties without fear,” the statement added.

Press Freedom Ranking

Ghana recently dethroned Namibia to become the best country in Africa on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The West African nation also ranked 23 in the world.The World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries. The index scored each country according to points. From 0-15 points (good), 15.01 to 25 points (fairly good), 25.01 to 35 points (problematic), 35.01 to 55 points (bad), and from 55.01 to 100 points (very bad). Eritrea, Djibouti, and Sudan had zero points and were the least ranked on the index. Curbs and restrictions on press freedom remain a huge concern on the continent and media watchdogs and press freedom advocates continue to voice these concerns. The numerous restrictions range from subtle forms of censorship by political and government authorities to imprisonment of journalists and media activists in practice.

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Ethiopian Airlines to step up expansion with more deals and jets
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Aaron Maasho*

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Even by its own standards, Ethiopian Airlines’ ETHA.UL recent growth has been fast — so fast that it revised the ambitious 15-year strategy set in 2010 and plans to buy more planes to step up its expansion.

Its plan had been to more than double its fleet to 120 and become Africa’s biggest airline by 2025, but it already has 100 planes flying to dozens of destinations from Asia to South America, including four U.S. cities.

The state-owned carrier has also outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways (KQNA.NR) and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“We have expanded more than we planned,” said Chief Executive Tewolde Gebremariam. “We had to revise the objective to make it 150 airplanes or more by 2025.”

It now plans to place orders this year for 13 additional Boeing (BA.N) 787 jets and six more Airbus (AIR.PA) A350s, he told Reuters.

The airline has come a long way from when it was established in 1945 as a joint venture with now-defunct U.S. carrier Trans World Airlines (TWA).

In its 2016/17 financial year Ethiopian Airlines generated $2.7 billion in revenue, Tewolde said, up more than 11 percent from the previous year. Passenger numbers climbed by more than 18 percent to 9 million while net profit was $233 million, up from a little more than $220 million.

DEAL-HUNGRY

In 2013 Ethiopian Airlines acquired a minority stake in Malawi Airlines to serve as a base for its southern Africa operations.

That kicked off a series of deals including January’s agreement with Zambia’s government to relaunch that country’s national carrier, shut down more than two decades ago.

The strategy is aimed at gaining a “competitive advantage” against rivals such as those in the Gulf, Tewolde said.

With Africa’s aviation industry still hampered by government protectionism and high taxes, Tewolde said that setting up or taking stakes in small carriers is a way around the restrictions.

Ethiopian Airlines aims to create a new airline in Mozambique that it will fully own, he said, adding that it is also in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures.

“Going forward, it will be difficult for us to compete with only one hub in Addis Ababa.”
But it isn’t all clear skies for the fast-growing carrier.

The economic downturn in Africa caused by the collapse of oil prices in 2014 has indirectly hit the continent’s airlines, and Ethiopian is unable to repatriate more than $145 million in profits from Angola, Sudan and Zimbabwe because of foreign exchange shortages, Tewolde said.

“Running a business needs cash flow,” he said. “Here in Africa, we have a huge problem with this.”

*Reuters

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Nigeria’s President Buhari heads to UK for more medical treatments
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, September 21, 2016 in New York City.

President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, September 21, 2016 in New York City.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he will travel to the United Kingdom to see his doctor, reigniting speculations about the state of his health and ability to rule Africa’s biggest economy.

Buhari, 75, spent four months in London last year receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness. Since then, he has faced repeated questions about the real state of his health.
Those questions have become louder since he announced last month that he would be standing for re-election early next year, subject to receiving his party’s nomination.
“I will be traveling to the United Kingdom tomorrow, to see my doctor, at his request. Will be away for four days; back in Abuja on Saturday, May 12,” Buhari said on Twitter Monday.
It will be the fourth time Buhari will seek medical treatment in the UK. His spokesman said Buhari saw his doctor last week in London on his way back from Washington where he had met with the US President Donald Trump at the White House.
“In the course of the technical stop-over for aircraft maintenance in London on his way back from Washington last week, the President had a meeting with his doctor,” his aide Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Another aide, Femi Adesina, told CNN Buhari had gone for a “medical review” and would be back within four days as stated.
“No one can guarantee what is going to happen at any moment, but what we are saying is that the President will be back on Saturday. This visit to the doctor does not mean he will be there for months.
“It is a meeting to review his health. It has nothing to do with elections and it does not mean he won’t be able to contest.” Adeshina said.
Buhari’s medical trips abroad has sparked intense debate among Nigerians on social media. Many argued that funds spent on medical bills abroad could be used to develop the country’s health care system which is in dire straits.
“President Buhari just loves flying around. If he truly wants Nigeria to grow, His doctor should fly down here instead, whatever equipments and knowledge he has should be brought down to a hospital here to improve our health care system,” commentator Yul Edochie said in a tweet.
Nigeria’s opposition party, People’s Democractic Party, called on the president to make public all costs related to his trips abroad as a public citizen.
“We charge the Presidency to end their official secrecy and come clear on the reasons for President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged ‘technical stopover’ in London.” it tweeted.

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THE VOTING MACHINE INCREASINGLY APPRECIATED IN CONGO HINTERLAND
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

-What do Congolese think of the Voting Machines ahead of upcoming elections? Here is what a nationwide road show organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission Found.

Corneille Nangaa is President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of the D.R.Congo

Corneille Nangaa is President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of the D.R.Congo

Criticised by some political stakeholders from the radical opposition, the voting machine which will help with the simultaneous conduction of national and provincial legislation polls, as well as the presidential election in December, seems to win the minds and souls of ordinary Congolese citizens.  The nation-wide road-show, organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI),  convincingly showcased the device designed in DRC and made in South Korea.  From Boma in Kongo Central Province, to Bulungu, Idiofa, Kamonia, Lubumbashi, Kalemie, Mbujimayi, Lodja, Gbadolite all the way to Isiro….news received from these locations attest the performance of the device and the satisfaction of voters who showered praises on the DRC electoral body for this innovation.

In Kamonia, a territory located in the Province of Kasai, the first sensitisation session on the device took place on 28 April 2018 before members of the Territory Security Committee, namely Augustin Kabawu, Daudet Tshibuabua and Jacob Mbombo, respectively CENI Field Office, Logistics Officer and IT Officer Members of the Territory Security Committee, led by M. Jean Paul Kuzo, the Territory Administrator of Kamonia, tested for themselves the device after exchange session with CENI delegates.

In Kalemie, in the province of Tangayika, more than 400 members of Salem Pentecostal Church  were sensitised on the Electoral Law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine. This was during their church service on 29 April 2018 which was also attended by the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, Stéphane Momat. Momat carried on with his sensitisation tour to members of the Dav neighborhood Great Mosque where an estimated 600 people were sensitised on the voting machine, on the 7 innovations of the electoral law, and the key milestones of the electoral calendar.  On this occasion, the Tanganyika Province Muslim Church representative, Imam Juma Ussen and his committee, led by  example by voting, and getting to appreciate the voting machine.

In Boma, in the Province of Kongo Central, a consultation forum bringing together political stakeholders from the opposition and the regime as well as members of the civil society was held on Saturday 28 April 2018. Moderated by Ms Bernadine Kitondo, CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, the forum was attended by 115 people who got an opportunity to test the voting machine by 4 groups of 20 members each, comprising the four components (opposition, regime, civil society, and women and youth).

Meanwhile, in the territory of Sekebanza, Astrid Nkembi, Head of CENI Field Office, introduced the new voting machine to the Territory Administrator, to members of the Local Operations Committee, to the Territory Administrative Officers, to the President of the Civil Society, to 5 Heads of Sub-Territories invited specifically for the purpose, as well as to local journalists.  It is worth mentioning that 16 out of the 24 participants were able to test the device for themselves. All participants recommended that CENI Sekebanza Field Office should ensure that Sub-territories, wards and villages are widely sensitised to the use of the voting machine so that voters get to acquaint themselves with this tool, thus putting to bed the politically-motivated myth stirred around this device which is merely a voting tool.

In Gbadolite in the Province of Sud Ubangi, CENI Executive Secretary held a sensitisation session on 29 April 2018 at the Provincial Parliament Building.  A total of 53 people including 12 out of the 18 provincial members of parliament attended the exchange which focused to three aspects, namely: the innovation introduced by the electoral law, the critical path of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine.  Participants were happy with the exchange but expressed concerns on the issue of the draft law on the sharing of legislative being tabled at parliament.

Returning from a training in Bandundu-Ville, Heads of CENI Field Offices in Kwilu immediately set out to put in practice the instructions given them by the top management.  Following in the steps of the Kikwit and Idiofa Field Offices, the Gungu and Bulungu Field Offices also launched the sensitisation campaign on the electoral law the electoral calendar and the voting machine.

In Gungu, the campaign started on 27 April 2018 in the Gungu Territory Conference Room, with the attendance of members of the Local Operations Committee (CLO). In his remarks, the Acting Head of Field Office, M. Erick Kayimona, explained to the 30 participants the innovations introduced by the electoral law, the key milestones of the calendar and the voting machine.  He indicated that the voting machine was chosen to enable the concurrent polls to be held on 23 December 2018. Speaking to participants, the Territory Administrator, M. Trésor Kitambala, was proud of the choice to use the voting machine and commended the presence of the device in his territory in order to sensitise the population of Gungu On 28 April 2018, without resting, the Acting Head of Field Office held a meeting in the conference room of Gungu ITPR, bringing together political parties, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations and media.  The three campaing themes, namely the innovations introduced by the electoral law (in particular the legal threshold of representativeness), the key milestones of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine, were the focus of his speech.  A total of 93 people attended the activity and wished that CENI Gungu should conduct even more sensitisation activities.

In Bulungu, CENI Head of Field Office, Israël Kasay Malala, launched the campaign on 28 April 2018 in the presence of the Territory Adminstrator and members of the CLO. His message centred on the 7 innovations introduced by the electoral law, the main lines of the electoral calendar and the voting machine. On the machine, the Head of CENI Field Office touched on the context and justified the choice made by CENI of the voting machine with a view to the concurrent holding of polls on 23 December 2018. Mwankimi Kaba, the Bulungu Territory Administrator, expressed his satisfaction to see that, contrary to rumours about the voting machine,  this device is rather helping the government by cutting the logistical (budgetary) cost while enabling the voter to cast their ballots, in less than a minutes, for the presidential election, the national legislative elections and the provincial legislative elections.  The session was closed with the testing of the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.

In Idiofa, following the launch of the campaign, Head of CENI Field Office, Mr Stany Makela , sensitised a group of Primay Education inspectors in Dibaya Lubwe in a training in Idiofa ad journalists. Participants appreciated the presence of the voting machine in Idiofa in order to sensitised voters.

In the province of Haut Katanga, women from the PPRD party were sensitised on the voting machine on 28 April 2018.  The event took place in the Bâtiment du 30 Juin and was themed on “Patriot women, mobilise for elections”. PPRD women invited the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary to update them on the current electoral developments, focused on the three themes: the milestones of the electoral calendar, the 7 innovations in the electoral law, and the voting machine.  More than 350 people attended the sensitisation session during which about 40 people tested the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.

In Kananga in the province of Kasai Central, the managers of the Justice and Peace Commission in Kananga had the opportunity to test the voting machine.  Meeting on 28 April 2018 in the conference room of the Pastoral Diocesan Centre in the municipality of Katoka. These managers from 18 catholic parishes in the city carefully followed the outline of the electoral law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine given by the Head of Kasai Central CENI Field Office.  Almost all the participants (both men and women) rushed to hold the voting machine.  The Vice President of the Commission, Richard Lukamba, was the first to vote, followed by 46 persons including 28 women and 18 men.  All (118 people) promised to sensitise on the voting machine in their respective parishes.

In the same Province of Kasai Central, another presentation of the voting machine took place on 27 April 2018, involving the Provincial Youth Council.  This was in the presence of the Provincial Youth Minister, Pauline Kamuandu, the Head of the Youth Division, Lumana Bilolo, and the Provincial Youth President, Peter Bakandowa.  CENI Kasai Central Provincial Executive Secretary outlined the key milestones of the electoral calendar, the innovations of the electoral law and the voting machine to 242 young from the Council.  After showing the importance of these three tools, he introduced the major breaktrhoughs of the electoral process, a testament to the fact that CENI will organise elections on 23 December 2018.

The first person to test the voting machine was the Provincial Youth Minister, then followed the Head of Youth Provincial Division and the Provincial Youth President.  Finally, 36 youth were able to test the machine before a questions and answers session.  Many questions related to the machine were asked and the answers given were satisfactory to the participants who appreciated this working tools by their spontaneous testimonies.

DR C's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) believes it will be impossible to hold elections on schedule without the machines because of challenges in setting up polling stations and counting ballots in a country with serious infrastructural handicaps .

DR C’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) believes it will be impossible to hold elections on schedule without the machines because of challenges in setting up polling stations and counting ballots in a country with serious infrastructural handicaps .

In the Province of Ituri, 104 taxi-bikers, also known as “Wewas” and 19 traditional chiefs were able to test the machine in Mambasa.  On 30 April 2018, during the Territory meeting, CENI Mambasa Field Officer, M. Rachidi, sensitised 104 taxi-bikers also known as Wewas, who are members of the Association of Congolese Drivers (ACCO) on the benefits and use of the voting machine.  After a quick introduction, the bikers voted using the machine.  It was observed that 12 Wewas were able to vote in less than 10 minuets.  Satisfied, they stated that they will no longer fall prey to the manipulations of politicians.

After the “Wewa”, 19 Traditional CHiefs, who attended the meeting with the Territory Administrator, also, voted on 1 May 2018, using the machine.  The Chiefs were surprised how easy it was to vote with the machine as opposed to the rumours being circulated.  They vowed to sensitised their villagers in order for them to adopt this tool which will help them to properly elect, come the polls.

In Aru in the same province, 84 sick people, nurses, and health helpers as well as pastors in the CECA-20 General Hospital were targeted to use the voting machine.  After a quick introduction on the benefits of the machine, CENI Field Office Head in Aru and his team demonstrated how the vote will take place on 23 December 2018.  Participants tested the machine and said they were convinced by its performance.

 

In Isiro, taking advantage of a refresher training for community radio presenters from the 7 provinces of eastern DRC by the Minister of Communication and Media, CENI Executive Secretary from Haut Uele overwhelmingly convinced the participants who were joined by provincial ministers of the sector from the provinces and conducted a demonstration of the voting machined widely hailed.

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Buhari Administration Will Continue to Ensure Transparency, Accountability in Governance – VP Osinbajo
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Speech Delivered by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week, Held at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, on Monday, May 7, 2018

ABUJA, Nigeria, May 8, 2018/ — *Says FG determined to stop grand corruption

*Implementation of OGP has improved Nigeria’s image in international community

Prof Yemi Osinbajo

Prof Yemi Osinbajo

“We have, since we assumed office three years ago, made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government. One of the first things that the President did when we took office was to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to coordinate our reform efforts in this regard.

“We inherited a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system that existed mainly as an idea, without any committed implementation. Since the Presidential Order by President Buhari in August 2015, we have made remarkable progress in expanding the reach of the TSA, so that today, we are almost at 100 percent compliance. 

“We ought to equally acknowledge that there is a limit to what civil society by itself can accomplish by itself, without building bridges with the public sector that is very often the target of its work. What our experience with OGP in Nigeria has proven, is that it is possible to build a coalition of like-minded reformers drawn from government and non-state actors. 

“In addition to joining the OGP, and developing a National Action Plan in 2016, the Federal Government also established a Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), housed in the Federal Ministry of Finance, to clean up the Federal payroll and pensions systems, across all our Ministries, Departments and Agencies. PICA’s work in this regard has helped the Federal Government save more than N200 Billion by eliminating ghost workers. Like the TSA, we are also aggressively expanding the rollout of the Government Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), to ensure that the loopholes that enable payroll fraud are permanently blocked.” – Vice President

Protocol

It really is a special pleasure to be here with you, as we commence the Open Government Partnership Week in Nigeria.  Our government came into office on the back of a three-pronged agenda, one ensuring security, two rebuilding the economy, and third, vigorously prosecuting the fight against corruption.

This last issue, corruption, has been an existential issue for Nigeria, threatening the very fundament of our existence. It has ensured that, for too long, the resources meant for the majority, have been cornered by a greedy minority.

This issue of corruption underlines every aspect of our national life, from our security situation to the state of our economy. It was the reason why, in spite of record oil revenues between 2011 and 2013/14, we saw no savings, and very little investment in infrastructure and jobs, and, in spite of the billions of dollars reportedly invested in security, the Boko Haram insurgency and other cases of insecurity did not abate.

Our government has adopted a two-step approach to dealing with this scourge of systemic corruption. The first is to stop grand corruption and the accompanying impunity. The second step and the more enduring one, is what this week is about, creating a self- sustaining system that assures transparency and accountability.

We have, since we assumed office three years ago, made remarkable progress in pushing the frontiers of transparency and accountability in the Federal Government. One of the first things that the President did when we took office was to establish the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), to coordinate our reform efforts in this regard.

We inherited a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system that existed mainly as an idea, without any committed implementation. Since the Presidential Order by President Buhari in August 2015, we have made remarkable progress in expanding the reach of the TSA, so that today, we are almost at 100 percent compliance.

The London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016 was an important milestone for us, in our anti-Corruption efforts, because it helped crystallize various national commitments into an effective multinational anti-corruption coalition.

It was at that conference that Nigeria committed to joining the OGP, and we fulfilled this commitment in July 2017 when we became the 70th country to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international multi-stakeholder initiative, focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation. Following this, President Buhari constituted the OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), with the Federal Ministry of Justice as the Coordinating Ministry.

The OGP Nigeria has since developed its first National Action Plan (NAP) of fourteen commitments with focus on four thematic areas of Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Access to Information and Citizens’ Engagement.

One of the remarkable things about the OGP is that it was designed to function as a partnership between the governments and the private sector. Without this coalition-building, I doubt that much progress would be achievable. Regardless of whether the goal is improving infrastructure or fighting corruption, it is clear, as it has always been, that governments cannot do it alone.

The skills, experience, resources and technology that the private sector brings to the table, are often invaluable and in many instances represent the difference between success and failure. We ought to equally acknowledge that there is a limit to what civil society by itself can accomplish by itself, without building bridges with the public sector that is very often the target of its work. What our experience with OGP in Nigeria has proven, is that it is possible to build a coalition of like-minded reformers drawn from government and non-state actors.

In addition to joining the OGP, and developing a National Action Plan in 2016, the Federal Government also established a Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), housed in the Federal Ministry of Finance, to clean up the Federal payroll and pensions systems, across all our Ministries, Departments and Agencies. PICA’s work in this regard has helped the Federal Government save more than N200 Billion by eliminating ghost workers. Like the TSA, we are also aggressively expanding the rollout of the Government Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), to ensure that the loopholes that enable payroll fraud are permanently blocked. PICA also oversees the Whistleblowing Programme we launched in December 2016. That Programme had seen recoveries of N7.8 billion, $378 million and 27,800 pounds sterling, as at March 2018.

Nigeria’s experience has shown that technology and innovations, as well as social media platforms, are changing the ways in which citizens engage with government, and empowering citizens and non-state actors to take a more active role in holding government to account. On our part, the Buhari administration is also actively leveraging technology in a way no previous government in Nigeria has, to underpin the President’s commitment to accountable governance. Indeed, much of the focus of the OGP is on the ways in which technology can help scale up the impact and reach of public sector anti-corruption and transparency initiatives.

I’ve spoken previously about our work expanding the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). A National Open Contracting Platform (NOCOPO), developed by the Bureau for Public Procurement, has become operational and is currently being piloted in a number of government institutions.

Similarly, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) launched its Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Contracts Disclosure Portal in September 2017, to ensure the timely disclosure of contract information from project initiation through to implementation.

The Budget Office of the Federation, in line with global best practice and Open Budget Survey Index, also developed the citizens ‘I-Monitor’ Portal which enables citizens across the country to access budget information in real time and to monitor projects while encouraging proactive feedback to the government. An Open Contracting Working Group made up of civil society organizations and government institutions, are working together to enhance citizens’ access to, and understanding of procurement information.

Civil Society Organisations are also taking the lead in interesting ways. Take the example of BudgIT, a civil society partner that works on transparency in budgeting and tracking of government expenditure, using technology and graphic design. BudgIT has also developed Tracka.ng, a tool that enables citizens to share updates on budget implementation in their communities.

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has led the way in the development of ‘BUDESHI’, a technology platform that will assist non-state actors to monitor ongoing procurements.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the important areas of progress is the ongoing effort to establish a public register of beneficial owners. It is our hope that this will help bring to an end, the era of anonymous company ownership which aids capital flight, illicit financial flows and tax evasion. The Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is working closely with the Government of the United Kingdom and the Open Ownership – a global project, whose aim is to build an Open Global Beneficial Ownership Register – to develop Open Ownership Data Standards to achieve this goal.

Since we joined the OGP, access to public information premised on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act enacted in 2011, has improved significantly. I am told that at least 106 government institutions now have designated FOI Desk Officers, to ensure speedy responses to information requests in compliance with the (FOI) Act and the commitments we have made under the Nigeria OGP National Action Plan.

We have set up a Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), and developed procedures and guidance to ensure that all recovered funds are paid into a single Central Bank Asset Recovery account, for improved transparency and ease of management.

The Federal Government’s agreement with the Swiss Government on the return of looted funds traced to former Head of State General Sani Abacha, led to the remittance of US$322 million in December 2017. This historic agreement also includes CSO monitoring of the utilization of the returned asset. I must acknowledge the role played by The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in the negotiation of this agreement and leading of other CSOs in monitoring the utilization of the fund.

Since 2017, our annual national budgets have included a line item on revenue generated from asset recoveries. All funds forfeited to the Federal Government are being included in our yearly budget proposals, for appropriation by the National Assembly. We have also committed to investing these recovered funds on Infrastructure projects and our National Social Investment Programme. In addition, we have submitted a Bill to the National Assembly for the purpose of enacting a more comprehensive legislation on proceeds of crime.

The successes recorded from the implementation of the OGP framework, have contributed in no small measure to the improvement in the perception of Nigeria’s business environment by investors, businesses, and the international community.

Through the work of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), who are also members of the OGP National Steering Committee, Nigeria moved 24 places up on the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Index. The reforms, many of them heavily dependent on technology, have seen business registration time, reduced to under 48 hours, simplified processes for paying taxes and obtaining Nigerian visas, and improved access not just to credit by businesses, but also to credit information by potential lenders. The reforms have also led to the passage of landmark reform legislation like the Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets Act of 2017 and Trading Reporting Act 2017.

As we make progress at the federal level, we are also working with the States, through the subnational engagement framework, under the OGP National Action Plan, to improve transparency, accountability and citizen participation at other levels of governance. I am delighted to note that Kaduna State has not only developed its OGP State Action Plan, which was approved by the State Executive Council early this year, it has also become one of the first pilot states adopted from Nigeria by the OGP International.

I am equally delighted, that our efforts in fighting corruption and deepening good governance are being recognized and applauded globally. I have been told by the OGP Secretariat, that Nigeria was this year, elected into the global steering committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). And then there was the designation, in 2017, of President Buhari as the African Union’s 2018 ‘Anti-corruption Champion’. This is yet another testament to the hard work and political will that this administration has demonstrated in the fight against corruption, even in the face of great resistance.

There is no doubt that governments which seek to earn and sustain the trust of citizens, must learn to maintain high standards of transparency. The role of the OGP, in pushing for and achieving these high standards is evident, and wholly deserving of commendation.

Let me, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, extend our sincere gratitude, to all those who have made today possible, particularly the OGP Steering Committee, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who is also the co-chair and the non-state co-chair of the OGP National Steering Committee, members of the OGP National Steering Committee made up of non-state actors, government institutions and the OGP Secretariat.

Distinguished participants, as we deliberate this week on the progress made by the OGP Nigeria, develop new ideas for future work to expand civic engagements, I encourage you to come up with policy recommendations that can radically help in further opening up Government at all levels in Nigeria.

We look forward to receiving the final report and recommendations at the end of this week. I thank you for your kind attention.

Just before I sit, I have the very distinguished pleasure of presenting the OGP Nigeria National Action Plan, 2017 – 2019. Thank you very much.

Released by:

Laolu Akande,

Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)

Office of the Vice President

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SPECIAL REPORT!!! Choas, Uncertainty Rocks Inconclusive Ekiti APC Guber Primaries, As Senator Reveal Real Reasons Why It Was Cancelled By Gov. Al-Makura
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja
It is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) have failed to conduct its party primaries to produce a gubernatorial candidate that will carry the party’s flag in the July 14th 2018 governorship election in Ekiti state as reports available to us from Ado-Ekiti the state capital reveals how chaos, alleged electoral malpractice and violence led Gov. Al-Makura to suspend the process indefinitely.
Disgruntled agents were said to have disrupted the process when news around the venue was that some party delegates were openly being tutored on which candidate to vote for. Our correspondent reported that despite a little disruption of the process by the elements, actual voting by delegates began at about 3:45pm after accreditation of delegates had lasted for more than 8 hours.
According to Mr. Sam Akintola a journalist who was on ground to witness the whole scenario, what really happened was that after 5 Local Government Area delegates have concluded their votes out of the 16 LGA’s in Ekiti state, it was discovered that most of the delegates who had voted were allegedly been induced by agents and party officials loyal to former governor and Hon. Minister of Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi (JFK).
He further revealed that other agents got wind of this development when they discovered JKF boldly written at the back of the accreditation cards of most of the delegates who had been voting. This suddenly resulted in protests by the agents of other candidates who had alleged that the delegates may have been induced to vote in a certain direction which is against the spirit of the contest.

As important as the Ekiti election is to the Presidency and the national leadership of the APC, both had impressed it on members that it had no preferred candidate among the 33 contenders.

This was the position of the party leadership and it was made known during the inauguration of the electoral committee. The APC’s National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, who, on behalf of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, inaugurated the Governor Umaru Al-Malkura led 5-member Primary Election Committee, told members of the committee, in clear terms, that nothing short of transparent primary was expected from them.

Recall that the Chairman of the APC primary election in the state Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa state had assured all the candidates and stakeholders of a transparent and credible primary election that would produce the APC candidate for the July 14 gubernatorial election.
Speaking exclusively with Senator Ayo Arise one of the aspirants for the governorship ticket, the former lawmaker who had earlier raised concerns about the possible hijack of the process by a certain candidate in an interview with Uchechukwu Ugboaja during the APC’s screening exercise in Abuja, revealed that allegations of electoral malpractice by agents of a particular candidate was what triggered the chaos that led to the disruption of the entire process.
According to him, “Allegations of electoral malpractice by a certain agent caused tempers to flare when some people started kicking the ballot boxes and destroying electoral materials, but it all began when unauthorized persons found their way into the venue after the heavy downpour, this was also followed by allegations of persons replicating the delegate badges.”
Even though there were all manner of accusations and counter accusations the former lawmaker stated that the Chairman was in charge as he summoned all the aspirants to a closed door meeting where they all admitted that since the integrity of the process had been compromised the only way the party can move forward on the issue is to have this process suspended and a new date announced.
An exclusive video made available to yours truly showed a group of APC delegates chanting anti – Fayemi slogans after voting materials were destroyed as a result of the protest which led to the cancellation of the APC primary election by the Chairman Gov. Tanko Al-Makura.
We may be reminded that on October 15, 2014, some Ministers serving under President Goodluck Jonathan resigned from the cabinet, on President Jonathan’s instruction, to pursue their governorship ambition in their various states. They were Nysom Wike, Obanikoro, Labaran Maku, Samuel Ortom, Emeka Wogu, Dr. Onyebuchi and Darius Ishaku. The governorship election was actually scheduled for April 11, 2015, almost 6 months before the election, and to make sure they didn’t use government money for their elections, they were forced to resign.
However, with the Ekiti governorship election coming up on the 14th of July, 2018, political watchers are concerned if Mr Kayode Fayemi, who is still comfortably seated in the Executive Council as a Federal Minister is not one of the main reasons why the controversy around the APC’c guber primaries may just have began. An election that is just about two months away, one could easily be left in doubt if the former governor is not prosecuting his election ambition with government money.
Other strong contenders amongst the 33 aspirants for the sole ticket of the party include former governor Segun Oni, Babafemi Ojodu who is currently a Special Adviser to the President, Congressman Bimbo Daramola, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker House of Representatives and former Senate member, Sen. Gbenga Aluko.
Others are Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Hon. Femi Bamisile a former Commissioner and Rt. Hon. Bamidele Faparusi a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
Meanwhile the state ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Gov. Ayo Fayose are scheduled to conduct their primary election on the 9th of July. The outspoken governor remains upbeat that any candidate eventually produced by the APC will only end up being defeated by his party which he has described as a sleeping lion.

According to him, “Nigerians have seen the deceit called the APC and their failed government. They can see the difference. The PDP is a lion that has been woken from sleep.

“We are taking over at the federal level next year and by the grace of God, we are winning the Ekiti governorship election. We have done well in the running of the state and our continuity agenda stands firm.

“When we defeated the APC in all the 16 local government areas of the state in 2014, they went to town with a lot of lies.

“Now their party is in control at the federal level, we are waiting for the excuse they will give, as they will certainly suffer another humiliating defeat,” he said.

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Oil-frontier Gambia needs support, Europe says
May 8, 2018 | 1 Comments
Gambian oil riches could be as high as 1 billion barrels, though early-stage development has been slow.

By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber*

Gambian President Adama Barrow (C) needs international support to drive a development plan forward, the European Commission says. The country is one of a handful of emerging West African oil producers. File Photo by EPA/STR

Gambian President Adama Barrow (C) needs international support to drive a development plan forward, the European Commission says. The country is one of a handful of emerging West African oil producers. File Photo by EPA/STR

May 7 (UPI) — To strengthen political progress, the government in Gambia, an emerging West African oil hotspot, needs international support, the European Commission said.

Opposition leader Adama Barrow assumed the presidency of Gambia in late 2016, ending nearly a quarter century of authoritarian rule by Yahya Jammeh. With Jammeh initially refusing to give up power, the Barrow administration has been beleaguered by a difficult economic and political transition period.

The European Commission hosts an international support conference for Gambia on May 22, where the focus will be on raising financial support for Barrow’s national development agenda.

“In order to meet the expectations of the population to see swift and tangible improvements in living conditions, and to consolidate the political progress achieved so far, the country needs strong international support,” the commission stated.

On top of domestic issues, West African countries have been at odds over their maritime borders. Those disputes have spilled over into the financial interests of several energy companies looking to exploit the emerging oil prospects off the regional coast.

Two Gambian blocks combine for an estimated 1 billion barrels of unrisked barrels of oil and are in close proximity to the SNE oil field offshore Senegal, one of the largest finds in recent years.

For a four-year period ending in 2020, the European Commission said it supported Gambia with around $270 million in assistance. The commission said the funds target budget support and investments in infrastructure necessary for job creation.

The International Monetary Fund predicts recovery for the Gambian economy, which witnessed a sharp contraction in the last election year.

 

“Over the medium term, The Gambia can achieve a more robust growth path,” the IMF’s latest report read. “This will require continued strong policy implementation and effective fiscal reforms, including ensuring debt sustainability.”

 *Source UPI
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Cairo to Cape Town road boosts cross-border economies, links Tanzania to rest of Africa
May 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

Rehema Tukai grew up in Kondoa and works in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city. Until now, visiting her family in Kondoa involved a five-hour journey along a bumpy and dusty road. Thanks to a new road co-funded by the African Development Bank, it takes her a little over one hour to travel the same distance.

Tukai was one of several locals to celebrate when the President of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, and the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, commissioned the Dodoma-Babati road project on Friday.

Until its completion, the Dodoma-Babati road was a critical missing link in the 10,228-kilometre Trans-Africa Highway, linking Cairo to Cape Town, connecting nine African countries from South Africa to Egypt, through Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

With the completion of the road, traders and travelers now conduct immigration procedures on only one side of the border, reducing time and costs. Thanks to these efforts, the volume of trade between Tanzania and the rest of Eastern and Southern Africa has risen to US $1.1 billion in 2016, a level both Adesina and Magufuli described as historic.

Magufuli said the Dodoma-Babati road will improve the lives of people living in Tanzania and neighbouring countries. “Projects financed by the African Development Bank have a real impact on people,” Magufuli said, thanking the Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their strategic partnership in co-financing the project.

“Roads change everything. They bring hope alive. Such is the case of this road. While economic activity expands, so will family connections. It has brought much joy to families,” said Adesina, referring to beneficiaries such as Tukai.

The 251-kilometre road is expected to provide rural communities with renewed hope, through expanded economic activities, improved access and better prices for farmers, and to transform several communities.

The Bank President congratulated Tanzania on the 54th anniversary of the union of the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and described the country’s unity as its strength and an example for the rest of Africa.

“Tanzania is headed in the right direction. With 7% economic growth this year, it has posted one of the highest growth rates in the world. That shows me the future of the Republic is very bright indeed! There will be need for massive physical and social infrastructure. There will be need for a Dodoma Airport. There will be need for a new road network to support increased transport, especially the Dodoma Ring Road. I wish to assure you that the African Development Bank will strongly support you on critical infrastructure for the new City of Dodoma,” Adesina said.

The African Development Bank has invested US $3.6 billion in Tanzania, with an active portfolio of US $2 billion, 53% of which is in road projects. The institution has invested more than US $1.1 billion in five road projects in Tanzania, covering close to 1,400 kilometres.

At the commissioning ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, Masaharu Yoshida, commended the African Development Bank for its contribution toward the completion of the project.

“Our cooperation with the Bank on this project will further strengthen the relationship between Japan and Tanzania and with Africa as a whole,” said Yoshida. “This road will contribute to the economic growth of Tanzania and all of Africa because it is, in fact, part of the ‘Trans-African Highway No. 4’ that connects Cape Town-Lusaka-Dodoma-Arusha-Nairobi up to Cairo.”

*AFDB

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IGD’s Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour Builds Momentum and Action on Increasing Greater U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment
May 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) concluded its inaugural U.S. roadshow tour, which was held from April 18-May 1, to showcase the tremendous business and investment potential in Africa.
  • The full roadshow tour will culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa for IGD’s Frontier 100 Forum and African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in early-November.
  • An engaging forum and executive speed networking with U.S. and African private sector leaders and investors will provide a platform to make deals and business agreements to create new markets in both regions.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 3, 2018 – The U.S. portion of Initiative for Global Development’s inaugural Africa Investment Rising  Roadshow Tour concluded on May 1 in Houston, Texas.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, which took place from April 18-May 1, traveled to four U.S. cities to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forge stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

“For the past two weeks, we’ve started building awareness and momentum for increasing trade and investment in Africa,” exclaimed Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, president and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) at the closing reception at the Houston Club.

“The Africa Investment Rising roadshow tour is just the start of accelerating a strong economic partnership between the U.S. and the African region,” said the IGD president. The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a network of Africa, U.S. and global business leaders who are committed to sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment in Africa.

Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour traveled to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, consistently averaging GDP growth of 5.2 percent. Today, only about 1.5 percent of U.S. exports are flowing into sub-Saharan Africa.

Each roadshow stop featured panel discussions on the trends, opportunities and constraints to trade and investment in that sector. The speed networking and company match among investors and business leaders, led by representatives from the Southern and East Africa Trade and Investment Hubs, offered tangible opportunities on how to enter the African marketplace to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.

Exclusive site visits with an IGD-led delegation drew attention to the pioneering innovations in each industry sector. The delegation met with Dan Keeler, Frontier Markets editor at the Wall Street Journal in New York City on re-shaping news coverage of Africa and participated in site visits to Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™ in Johnston, IA and ISU Research Park in Ames, IA for agribusiness and The Eaton Experience Center for power generation in Houston.

The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where U.S. and African private sector leaders and investors from all sectors are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6. The Frontier 100 Forum will be followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Financing key growth sectors, such as agriculture, power and infrastructure, and finance and banking, will require an estimated $600-700 billion annually, the African Development Bank estimates.

The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors to promote economic and social development on the African continent. The Bank’s investment forum is a completely transactional marketplace dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals.

“The forum will be a landmark platform to scale up bankable projects and facilitate transactions to close the investment gap in Africa,” said Hassatou Diop N’Sele, Treasurer and Director of the Treasury Department at the African Development Bank. N’Sele spoke on behalf of the Bank at the roadshow’s opening reception on April 18 in Washington, DC.

IGD will continue to engage roadshow participants and investors interested in Africa through multimedia content, including blogs, video spotlights and webinars leading up to the November events in Johannesburg to generate ongoing interest among U.S. investor and business leaders to inspire action on investment opportunities in Africa.

“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Nedelcoych. “By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa.”

Roadshow platinum sponsors are ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research ParkAGCOLilium CapitalDAI, and Orrick; Gold sponsors are Thomson ReutersJohn DeereSasolCorteva AgriscienceEndeavor EnergyAllAfrica.com, and Eaton; and Silver sponsors are World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com, African Alternative, African Trade MagazineAfrica Business MagazineAfrica StopoverAfropop WorldwideAllAfrica.com, AlloAfrica.com, Applause AfricaAsoko InsightFace2Face Africainnov8tiv.comOak TVPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.

 

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AFRICA INVESTMENT RISING U.S. ROADSHOW TOUR: HOUSTON STOP RECAP
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

Access to power is an essential driver of sustainable economic growth and development progress in Africa. Opportunities abound for public-private sector partnership and investment to expand access to electricity across the African continent.

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) launched its Houston roadshow stop on April 30, to boost U.S.-Africa trade and investment in the power and energy sectors and match U.S. and African investors and private sector leaders to expand greater access to reliable electricity on the continent.

The Houston roadshow stop, which was held on April 30 and May 1, was the final stop of IGD’s four-city inaugural U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”. The U.S. Roadshow Tour, which took place from April 18-May 1, was aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

Launched on April 18 in Washington, D.C., the roadshow traveled from New York City for banking, finance, and investment to Des Moines, IA for agribusiness and agro-industry and then Houston, TX for power and energy.

Some 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa or two-thirds of the region’s population are still living without access to reliable power. Without access to power, Africa’s global competitiveness and economic growth will continue to lag behind other regions of the world.

The two-day roadshow stop brought together investors, African and global private sector leaders and policymakers to discuss investment opportunities in power and energy in order to maximize Africa’s energy potential for sustainable and inclusive growth.

The opening session of the Houston roadshow stop took place at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, where Robert Mosbacher Jr., Board Chairman of IGD and Mosbacher Energy Company, spoke about IGD’s founding partnership with Power Africa and work on business opportunities in the power and energy sectors.

Significant opportunities exist to invest in Africa’s power sector. Mosbacher, who is also former president and CEO of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), noted how a proposed bipartisan bill,  Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act, known as the BUILD Act, will consolidate multiple federal programs into one new development finance corporation that aims to promote sustainable growth in emerging markets through U.S. business investment.

Blake H. Winburne, Partner and Co-Head of the Global Energy and Infrastructure Group at Orrick, spoke about his practice, where lawyers in the Group are dedicated to working on energy projects in Africa. “We are extremely interested in developing markets, especially in Africa,” said Winburne. Orrick, a Frontier Leader, was the host partner for the Houston roadshow stop.

A panel of U.S. and African private sector leaders convened for an energy-focused investor roundtable aimed at finding the right energy mix to accelerate electrifying the African continent.

Moderated by Carol Pineau, award-winning journalist and documentary producer, panelists included Sean T. Long, Chief Executive Officer at Endeavor Energy; Rajen Ranchhoojee, Special Legal Consultant, Energy & Infrastructure Group at Orrick LLP; Matt Rees, Deputy Coordinator for Power Africa at USAID; Paula Swain, Managing Director, Global Energy, Project Finance Division at Export Import Bank; and Peter Manoogian, Executive Director, Mozambique at Sasol.

The potential for “leapfrogging” in Africa’s energy sector to bypass conventional energy development by adopting efficient and renewable technologies was discussed by panelists.

Finding the right energy mix on the continent requires building strong public-private partnerships and being “technology agnostic,” said Rees of Power Africa. “We need to ask governments to do a better job with energy diplomacy.”

Given the high cost of electricity generation in Africa, Long of Endeavor Energy recommended that African countries need to develop sustainable off-grid solutions that combine technological innovation with finance to accelerate power projects.

“Africa can shape the future,” asserted Ranchhoojee of Orrick, saying there are tremendous opportunities for African countries to chart their own path and take a multi-pronged approach to power generation. “The ‘textbook’ has not been written yet and it is now possible to write that textbook,” he said about the opportunity for African governments to leverage a hybrid approach to electrifying the continent.

Infrastructure was cited as a major challenge to a rapid development of Africa’s power supply. Peter Manoogian, Sasol’s Executive Director for Mozambique, acknowledged that the lack of infrastructure in Mozambique has contributed to the high cost of implementing projects in a former war torn country. Yet, since Sasol expanded its market beyond South Africa into Mozambique, the country has become a fast-growing economy and the company’s production and market for oil and gas has grown over time. Sasol has invested in a major gas-to-power plant to help meet the electricity demand in the southern African country.

Financing power projects was highlighted as another impediment to the fast delivery of power generation. aula Swain, Managing Director for Global Energy in the Export Import Bank’s Project Finance division stressed the importance of mobilizing lenders, bankers, and actors to finance projects. “It takes everyone to get the deal done,” said Swain.

Long also built on the central theme throughout the roadshow tour: separating perceived risk from actual risk while doing business in Africa. “There’s a low default rate for project financing in Africa,” said Long.

After the roundtable, Pamela Ward, Regional Senior Commercial Officer of Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Department of Commerce, forecasts that East Africa will be one of the fastest growing regions. “Power is the energy that drives economic growth,” said Ward. She also expressed her optimism for the impact that the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will have on intra-Africa trade. In late-March, some 44 African countries signed one of the world’s largest free-trade agreements that creates a single continental market for goods and services across the continent.

The Houston roadshow forum concluded with a speed networking session. Jason Bauer, director of Finance, Investment and Trade at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Albert Osueke, Private Investment Officer at Power Africa invited to learn more about opportunities for public-private sector partnerships and resources in Africa.

The U.S. roadshow tour’s closing reception was held at the historic Houston Club, where IGD President and CEO Dr. Mima Nedelcovych offered brief remarks. The evening reception, sponsored by Sasol, helped to set the course for strengthening U.S.-Africa business, trade, and investment relations. Nedelcovych mentioned that Sasol is also a major investor in the United States, noting that the South African-based company made a $11 billion investment in the energy sector in the U.S.

“It’s not just U.S. investments into Africa; it’s African investments in the U.S. as well,” said Nedelcovych.

The final day of the roadshow featured an exclusive site visit to the Eaton Experience Center in Houston. The IGD team and USAID personnel participated in an interactive tour of the power management company’s hands-on facility and learned about their reliable, efficient, safe, environmentally-friendly  technologies that manage and control power at various levels.

Eaton’s portfolio features electrical services and products such as power distribution and circuit protection, lighting and security, and back up power protection as well as industrial services and products including aerospace, automotive, and hydraulics.

Herman Fletcher, Eaton’s Vice President of Commercial Business Development, gave a brief presentation on Eaton’s micro-grids, which serve as a resilient, cost-effective solution to the high cost of electricity and improve the reliability of energy supply.

Eaton has a 91-year relationship with Africa and has hav five African offices in South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Kenya and distribute widely throughout the continent. Eaton officially signed on as a Power Africa partner in October 2017, and are actively seeking a stronger presence in Africa. “Our CEO has made it clear that he wants to expand in Africa,” said Fletcher.

*IGD

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Being in politics is to make a difference in the lives of Nigeria – Buhari
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajayi Olayinka

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari have said his participation in politics is out of a commitment to serve, and not for wealth accumulation.

Speaking, Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, said this on Saturday at the All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congress held at Bayagida Model Primary School, Katsina state.

According to Garba, Buhari, joined Nigeria’s political sphere after his retirement from the military, he saw that the country “needed an intervention for fairness and justice”.

He said the passion to serve and see real changes in the lives of Nigerians inspired him to contest elections in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, and his desire for a second term in 2019.

Buhari had said he is seeking re-election because of the“clamour by Nigerians”.

I am not in politics for fun, frivolity or to amass wealth, I have always been driven by a deep sense of commitment to make a difference to the lives of our people,” Buhari said.

After my retirement from the army, watched as events unfolded on the political turf, and realised the country needed an intervention for fairness, justice and inclusion of Nigerians in the issues that affect their lives.

After going to the court so many times to challenge results of elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and going up to the supreme  court, I concluded that ultimately it is God who determines who will win elections, and in 2015 I got here.”

The president called for patience, maturity and orderliness as the 2019 elections’ calendar begins to unfold, urging political parties, candidates and the electorate to put the country first.

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A Chastened but Confident PDP Promises To Restore Nigeria’s Lost Glory In Second Coming
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

PDP National Secretary Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri

PDP National Secretary Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri

As President Buhari was touting the successes of his administration and making the case for his reelection to President Trump, and other American Officials in Washington, the PDP was  painting a frighteningly bleak picture of Nigeria under his leadership as it seeks to recapture power.

At the convention of the USA Chapter of the party in Houston, TX, the PDP which lost power in 2015 after 16 years , it was two days of bashing, brainstorming , and mapping out strategies to  free Nigeria from what they describe as the shackles of the Buhari led APC  government .

Addressing members at the convention, PDP’s National Secretary Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri  said in 2019, President Buhari will be shown the way out. All the gains that Nigeria made under 16 years of the PDP leadership have been erased by the Buhari government in three years ,he said. Never before has the country been so divided and insecure , he said in making a rallying cry for Nigeria to vote out the Buhari and the APC.

The National Scretary said ,the PDP  is sorry for its mistakes that led to the emergence of the APC government, and the damage it has done to Nigeria. Under the PDP, Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in Africa,it was the number one investment destination, and the country awash  with infrastructural development, it is simply not the case today , Tsauri said in striking a contrast with the APC government.

Nigerians are yearning for the PDP to return to power, and when it does, mistakes of the past will not be repeated as the party has learned the hard lessons, said Tsauri. The newly re-branded PDP is void of impunity, more disciplined, and is restoring power to the people. The mistakes of the past created an atmosphere for the PDP to lose elections with people not necessarily voting for Buhari , rather against Jonathan, he went on. The re branded PDP  is taking the party back to its real owners who are the people through zoning, consensus ,and elections, the National Secretary of the PDP said.

Sen Tsauri urged the USA Chapter led by Dr Harold Molokwu to buckle up, and close ranks, as now is the time to work towards ridding Nigeria of a government of lies, mischief, brutality and lies.

Members of the National Working Committee of the Party turned out in full force at Convention

Members of the National Working Committee of the Party turned out in full force at Convention

Besides Senator Tsauri, other high profile members of the PDP National Working Committee present in Houston included, the National Organising Secretary Col.Augustine Akubondu, Youth Leader Udeh Okoye, Women’s Leader Hajiya Mariya Waziri,National Treasurer Aribisala Adewale, and  Foreign Coordinator Kramer Agape,amongst others.In an exclusive interview after the event, Senator Tsauri expressed satisfaction with the  convention. The presence of the strong delegation from Nigeria was an indication that the party means business , he said

 

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Guinea President Conde says Bollore graft probe is slander
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Alpha Conde

President Alpha Conde

CONAKRY (Reuters) – Guinean President Alpha Conde told Reuters on Friday that he would file a complaint in Paris over “slanderous denunciation” in a probe the by French authorities into tycoon Vincent Bollore’s Africa operations.

Bollore is under formal investigation over allegations that his company Groupe Bollore undercharged for work on behalf of presidential candidates in Guinea and Togo in return for port contracts. He denies wrongdoing.

“I am going to file a complaint for slanderous denunciation, and we have all the evidence proving that I did nothing except defend the interests of Guinea,” Conde said in a brief telephone interview.

He said he welcomed opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into how Bollore obtained the concession to run the main port in Conakry. Conde added that France’s Getma International, whose contract was canceled in favor of Bollore, had not respected its contractual obligations.

*Reuters

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Nigerian lawmaker invites Kanye West to visit slave ports in Africa
May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Bukola Adebayo*

Shehu Sani

Shehu Sani

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)A Nigerian senator has invited American rapper Kanye West to visit slave ports in Africa for an education on the slave trade.

Kanye West is facing immense criticism following his remarks during an interview with TMZ live this week in Los Angeles, where he said the slave trade was a “choice”.
The musician opened up about his mental health, his family, and his art during the show. He also said this about slavery, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”
Nigeria’s vocal lawmaker Shehu Sani took a dig at West on Friday saying the musician’s statements on transatlantic slave trade was a slight on its victims.
“If Kanye West thinks slavery was a choice, we will offer him a free ticket and tour guide to visit slave routes and camps in Badagry, Lagos, Ouida, Benin Republic, Ghana and Goree Island in Senegal to ‘experience the choices in chains. Kanye defecated on the graves of victims,” Shehu said in a tweet.
The lawmaker was referring to relics in the coast of West Africa where people were enslaved and sold to the Americas.
A Detroit based radio station on Thursday said it was pulling off the rapper’s songs following his comments.
West tried to clarify his statements Tuesday amidst mounting backlash.
“[T]o make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved,” West said in a tweet.
The rapper said he was being attacked “for presenting new ideas.”
*CNN
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Ghana beats Namibia to top Africa in 2018 World Press Freedom Index
May 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah*

Ghana has dethroned Namibia to become the best country in Africa on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The West African nation also ranked 23 in the world.

The World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries. Nigeria ranked 119 in the world.

Namibia topped the rankings in 2017 in Africa.

Curbs and restrictions on press freedom remain a huge concern on the continent and media watchdogs and press freedom advocates continue to voice these concerns.

The numerous restrictions range from subtle forms of censorship by political and government authorities to imprisonment of journalists and media activists in practice.

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index recently released, compiles the degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries. It takes into consideration the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious power and influence is a strong indicator of the level of press freedom at play.

A group of experts responded to a questionnaire that was based on pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

The index scored each country according to points. From 0-15 points (good), 15.01 to 25 points (fairly good), 25.01 to 35 points (problematic), 35.01 to 55 points (bad), and from 55.01 to 100 points (very bad). Eritrea, Djibouti, and Sudan had zero points and were the least ranked on the index.

For Nigeria, human rights have continued being trampled upon and concerning cases include the use of the police by the state against the protesters of Bring Back Our Girls, and the Muslim minority Shiite group whose leader has been under arrest for more than a year.

Eritrea was ranked the worst in Africa in the report. For the past 26 years, Eritrea has been a dictatorship in which there is no room for freely reported news and information. At least 11 journalists are currently detained without any charges or trial.

Declared by United Nations General Assembly, every year, the day of May 3 is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.

UNESCO also brings together the media professionals, press freedom organizations and UN agencies to evaluate the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing the prevailing challenges.

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2019: ‎Defeating Buhari will take exact reversal of Bola Tinubu and others — Dr. Okupe
May 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

* Says: ‘‎Nigeria is in a state of anomie and there is need to safe our democracy. ‎’

 

* ‘Mindless killings in Nigeria ‎are typical of ISIS operations.

By Ajayi Olayinka

Dr. Doyin Okupe is the Nigeria’s South west leader of Accord Party and was a Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. ‎In an interview with Pan African Visions. Dr. Okupe bore his mind on recent declaration by President Buhari to seek reelection come 2019 and the likely implications of this decision on the existential well-being of Nigerians.

What’s your reason for leaving the PDP to have pitched tent with the Nigeria Coalition Movement led by Olusegun Obasanjo 

I left the PDP because I fundamentally disagreed with what was going on in the party. More importantly,  the nation is in a state of anomie and there is actually a need for patriots to find a way to safe our democracy. Yes,  Obasanjo is like a political godfather to me. I believe in him and I also trust him. If there is a nationalist in Nigeria, Obasanjo is one and I believe that he mean well for Nigeria. You may not like his style, but we need to look beyond the surface. CNM is a brilliant idea and to every discerning mind,  it’s absolutely impossible to oppose the incumbent and a towering figure like President Mohammadu Buhari and hope to win. To defeat Buhari will take exact reversal of Bola Tinubu and others were able to do with APC. A broad platform encompassing the political majority in the country must be put together to present a candidate to contest against Buhari with the hope of being able to win. To that extent, the coalition that Obasanjo is leading is what I’m proud to be a part of and I’m part and parcel of it. Even though I’m the South west leader of Accord Party. As a party,  we identified with that movement and we hope to come to a working relation in not too distant future.

Chief Rasheed Ladoja a former leader of Accord Party is now back in the PDP, how do you reconcile that?

There is nothing to reconcile really.

The primary motive of Chief Ladoja at his age is to look for way to wrestle power from the ruling party in Oyo state which he had tried so often and has not been able to satisfactory do in recent time. I have held meetings with him and he figures out that unless he is able to put together a Coalition,  he may not be able to confront the APC machinery. And in doing so, majority of the tendencies in Oyo state were tilting towards the PDP. I was there in one of the meetings when a delegation from Oyo state came to him to lead them into the PDP. They believe that is the only way to unite and take power from the APC. He conceded and that was why he went to the PDP.  But I don’t think he is well treated in the PDP. You really cannot say he is in PDP now. He is more or less in a limbo now. He is not in PDP and not out of of PDP. But I know for a fact that they are looking for ways to achieve their original objective.

What is your take on the spate of killings in the country? 

I’m perplexed that something profoundly evil is going on in the country. The frequency and viciousness of the attack is confounding. What is more perplexing is that we cannot really say the same of efforts from the government to counter this evil. I have said it to many people and on my social media platforms that this is beyond Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes. I may be wrong. It no longer make sense to assume that. I don’t think President Buhari was out of order, perhaps he didn’t put it well when he said these are people trained by Ghadaffi. What he probably had meant to say was that people that were trained in Libya had come down and are wrecking havoc in our system.  That would have been more credible. There is also a shade of opinion that what we are seeing is a break away faction of Boko Haram that has actually teamed up with ISIS. The signature we are seeing in these attacks is mindless killings, arson and massive destruction. This is so typical of ISIS operations. It is better for us as Nigerians and those who lead us to term with this reality. They will not want to sound alarmed that we are not through with Boko Haram yet and we now have ISIS which may bring panic. Let us speak the truth and let the devil be ashamed. We have ISIS operating in Nigeria and it is another form of extreme Islamic fundamentalism in a very vicious and dangerous form. If you look at it,  Boko Haram is located in the North East and not going beyond the zone. But if you see what is going on now, we have some very serious attacks in Benue, Jos, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano, Kogi, Edo and Ekiti. That is no longer Fulani herdsmen attack. By my own understanding, the Fulani herdsman is very protective of his herds. He overreaches himself in the provision of food and water for the herds. I don’t see a Fulani man after having fed his cows and burn the farm in which the cows have eaten and go to the villagers that own the farms to kill and burn them. It doesn’t make any sense. That has gone beyond tendering cattle. The herdsmen tendering cattle is something that anti dated time and history. It is something that is beyond 400-500 years. It has been from the time we existed here. These Fulani go around west Africa with their cattle in search of food and water. This metamorphosis into armed militia. If strange, it is not in conformity with what we have. And it is a misnomer to say there is a Fulani /farmers clash. A clash is when one group fights another. No farmer is clashing with herdsmen here. Now it’s the militias that are not just killing farmers, but going to churches to kill priests and worshippers. What has that got to do with Fulani herdsmen? There is more fundamental matter here, and the earlier the government looks into it the better. Unfortunately, the government is headed by a Fulani and tend to protect the image of other Fulanis that they are not killers and get prejudiced in what they do. But there is no need to protect what is not true. If there is anything to protect, it should be the lives and properties of Nigerians. Impression is being given that it’s Fulani people that are involved in the mayhem. So government must try as much as possible to remove this toga, otherwise it will not be in the interest of everybody. In any case, if we are not able to put an end to this murderous activities of the terrorists, it will put an end to our peace (God forbid).

Has the President acted Right in nation’s interest concerning the transfer of unappropriated fund to the United States for the purchase of Tukano helicopters ?

The purchase of the helicopters was something that originated from the National Assembly.  It was when a team from the United States visited the National Assembly that this idea was bounced from their discussion. Those who defend the government on account that there is a Supreme Court judgement that declared the Excess Crude Account as an illegal account. Therefore any withdrawal from it should  not follow legal process; as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t make sense. Two wrongs does not make a right. If you say it does not need to follow legal process, why then does the President recently write to the National Assembly to put it in the budget? As far as I’m concerned,  that’s an admission of guilt. The relationship between the executive and the legislator is always frosty and this is not peculiar to Nigeria. I have served under two presidents and I have gone through this.  The executive must go out of their way to court the legislature. It’s got nothing to do with pride. A Yoruba proverb says it is a man that has purpose in life that will work towards the successful implementation of his purpose. “Alatise la mo atise are e “.  It is the executive that executes projects,  but the power to give approval for execution of the projects resides with the legislative houses. The dexterity of the executive to come to consensus with the legislature is what will show the proficiency of those that head the executive in their jobs. Personally,  I’m extremely very proud of this 8th senate. And I believe sincerely that they have done more to protect democracy than their previous counterparts. In the moment of severe stress when the president was ill and even friends of this administration wanted the president removed, the Senate stood their grounds to stabilize the country. They stood as bulwark and did not allow our thinking and frustrations to override them emotionally.  I must give a lot of commendation to Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President. In my opinion, he is the most cerebral of all the Senate Presidents we have had. We have in him a quintessentially sane, focused and cerebrally balanced young man that has the control and respect of his colleagues. If not for that fact,  we would probably be in much more serious trouble by now. Look at what happened last week when people genuinely raised the expenditure of the executive without consent of the National Assembly. It is an impeachable offence as a matter of fact, sentiment apart. But look at the dexterity and maturity that was applied by the Senate President that was devoid of indecorous behavior because of the confidence that his colleagues repose in him. He was able to manipulate and douse the tension by taking the issue to Judicial Committe. That is the hallmark of a true nationalist and a leader. This is a man that is being vilified by the same executive. I don’t think leadership comes better than that. Having said that,  the executive needs to do much more. It has nothing to do with personality clashes. The three arms of government are on equal pedestals.  Talking about non passage of budget, I read that heads of the MDP have refused to defend their budgets. Someone should have given them a marching order if they had taken their jobs seriously and that was what the president did. And they are about rounding up the job now. I have implicit faith, confidence and I’m proud of this senate and National Assembly in general. We are in a safe hands with them.

What is your take on the allegation that Saraki is overbearing and always looking for slightest opportunity to take on the presidency 

Saraki to me is not overbearing. He is only decisively focused.

How come he now has an opportunity to allow the impeachment process to go ahead but stopped it?  How come he did not constitute a medical team to visit the president in London when he was sick to determine if he was fit to continue? What they have done is to ensure that the legislature is not a rubber stamp of the executive. That is not what is intended by the constitution. I see Saraki as an intelligent and patriotic democrat who is firm and focused. Any leadership  that is not firm and focused is useless. If you must lead you must show the way and in showing the way you must be firm. This person has shown strength, intellect, capability and popularity amongst his colleagues.

The Omo-Agege saga has been described as an assault on the nation’s democracy,  do you agree with this?

The Omo-Agege saga is what any right thinking Nigerian must condemn. It is indecent, indecorous, condemnable and beyond reason. When we continue to compromise our institutions and they become ineffective, we can no longer keep complaining. What happened on that day is a memory that God should blacken out of our minds. It is the height of ignominy and if Omo-Agege is someone that has self respect, he should by himself leave the senate. If I was from his district, the man will not be worth toilet paper in my eyes. Contrary to people’s belief, he was not suspended because of the reordering of elections sequence,  he was suspended for taking the senate to court. He came to apologize on the floor of the senate for certain thing he did wrong and went to court on the same matter. There are certain issues that we must not allow partisanship to erode our conscience because those who are there today may not be there tomorrow. But the institutions will remain. What is not good is not good. Omo-Agege’s action and those who backed him did a terrible injustice to the sacredness of the red chamber.

What  is your stand on Senator Dino Melaye who jumped out of a moving police vehicle?

I think the police is overreacting on Dino Melaye’s case. Dino is just an individual who has problem with the governor of his state. If the impression is being given that the governor can manipulate the entire police force to humiliate and completely hound down his political enemy,  then I’m sorry for this country. Forget about anybody jumping down or not, if you are driving me to place where I am going to be given HIV injection,  I will jump through anything. We do not know the circumstances he found himself at the time. Such decision will be taken if he realizes that he would be a dead man in a couple of minutes.  What I’m saying is that the machinery that has been assembled  to humiliate and dehumanize Dino Melaye is commendable. If we do that for more vicious enemies of democracy, Nigeria will be a better place to live in. Why is it that we always use power of government to hit and demolish opposition of government who do not in any way threatens the existence of government. Militias have killed thousands of people in Zamfara, Benue and Taraba states in the last two year and no record of one of them being apprehended. The police in this matter have overreacted and used excessive force which in itself is almost a crime. We need to hear from Dino Melaye to know his fears and why he jumped out of the vehicle.  A man that jumped out of a moving vehicle has a chance to die. He must have weighed the options either to die sitting in the vehicle or to live if he does not die after jumping down. The man had simply chosen a fairer option out of the two.

How will you rate the administration of President Buhari ?

The fact that the administration has not done well is obvious and I am not going to do an overkill. President Buhari came in on a very high ethical standard that he is a man of integrity, he will fight corruption,  quench the insurrection in the North East and provide good governance. But the government has failed on all the four pedestals.  But I found it a bit difficult to judge him because of my background as a trained medical doctor. I have suffered life threatening illness myself and under the condition,  nothing else mattered to me except my survival. When a man that is so sick like Buhari doesn’t do well, I find it extremely difficult to condemn him because of my background as a medical doctor. Perhaps if things were the other way round, he may have performed better. If he spent 150 days out 360 days in the hospital, that is really serious. I will not stand here and condemn a man that went through life threatening illness. We all saw Buhari practically dying and God resuscitated him. On the platform which he came in, he has failed woefully. But my mind is telling me that the man is not that bad and that the problem he has is his ill health. That is why I wrote an article and advised the man being a great man that God has been very kind to not to contest for second term. All his popularity, reputation and cult like followerhip will pale to nonesense if he recontest and his health cannot carry him. I wish him well and I pray that God will give him strength in this remaining period of his tenure to finish well and end well. But he will be stretching his luck too far if he attempts to go beyond that. Age and good health are not on his side. A man should not volunteer to rule or be forced on a nation at the lowest point of his existence in which Buhari is now. I can say this authoritatively because I am a doctor. Buhari should aspire to end as a father figure in this country and I will personally applaud him for that. I will even canvass that everyone should put partisanship aside and support him to finish well and give him a grand exit. We do not have any father figure in this country. All our leaders have either destroyed themselves or we destroyed them. Let us preserve Buhari as historic legacy. But Buhari’s ambition to go for a second term and continue in office will be a threat to the existential wellbeing of Nigerians and corporate existence of the country.

There has been clamour for not too young to rule, do you foresee a young man with integrity taking over from Buhari ?

(Laughed) Youth taking over in 2019 is far fetched and unlikely because our youths are just getting involved in national affairs. Look at Sowore, Fela Durotoye and so many of them that are just coming up. But we must realize that this country is so big and complicated that we need the exuberance of the youths and experience of the old. It is the combination of these two that will augur well for this country. But we must encourage the youths. The only reason why I am in Accord Party is to make it a platform for young people to come and become what they want to be. The party is practically new and the positions are not stratified. Our major job now is not to contest or run for any office. But we want to hold the ladder so that young people can steadily climb. I have got nine children and it will be in my interest that they will find a decent country to live. This can only happen if those of us with knowledge and experience will allow the younger generation to climb on our back and hold the ladder for the youth to climb to the top while we support them.

 

What should Nigerians expect from the Nigeria Coalition Movement?

 

This coalition is not against Buhari.  If it against the president I’m not interested. This coalition is to promote democracy, good governance and to bring competence and fear of God into administration. It is also to create a space for the younger generation to come up. The coalition is not against APC. Rather it is to broaden the base of participation to allow majority of Nigerians to come in and take part in the destiny of their nation. Nigerians should expect from this coalition a very broad spectrum of political opinions and formations. We are going to bring together a majority of political conclaves in the country. Even though we recognize that the APC has not done well, the fact that Buhari is going to contest again; we fear that it may not auger well for the country. We are creating this coalition since we are relying on votes. We plan to bring more Nigerians together and allow them to participate in moulding the destiny of their nation. To allow APC to win means Buhari will continue and that’s not in the interest of Nigeria.

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Akufo-Addo has created over 1m jobs so far – Employment Minister
May 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah

Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah

Ghana’s Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah has said the Akufo-Addo government has made significant stride since coming into power in addressing Ghana’s unemployment challenges.

This, according to him, has led to the creation of some 1,996,444 jobs in both the public and private sectors through various interventions.

Mr. Baffour-Awuah disclosed this Tuesday at the launch of the Nation Builders’ Corps (NABCO) in Kumasi saying: “This happened within the formal economy. So what happened within the informal economy is not even accounted for here.”

More than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%, according to a 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey Report.

Of this number, about 714,916 are females, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 for males representing 42.8%, the survey commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) stated.

NABCO to solve unemployment frustrations

Touching on NABCO, the Employment and Labour Relations Minister said its emergence will address the “frustration, confusion, lack of growth and direction for our youth” therefore the NABCO intervention is apt and appropriate.

“If there is any single intervention which addresses the school to work transition in our country we can’t have any better programme than NABCO,” he stated.

NABCO is aimed at tackling graduate unemployment in Ghana and will be launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on May Day.

The programme will operate seven modules designed to meet the pressing needs of the nation while providing jobs for the teeming youth who have received tertiary education but are struggling to find jobs.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Public Trained Registered Nurses and Midwives has described as “very sad” government’s plan to recruit them under the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO).

Accepting the government’s policy, predicted the Coalition “will be the beginning of the extinction of nursing and midwifery in Ghana.”

 

 

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ECG Concession: No worker will be sacked – Akufo-Addo
May 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that no worker of the Electricity Company of Ghana will be sacked due to the ECG concession agreement.

Addressing workers at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi in the Ashanti region in commemoration of the Workers Day, the president, commenting on the ECG concession agreement for the first time since a bidder was selected assured workers of ECG that none of them will be negatively affected.

“No worker of the ECG will be negatively affected or laid off due to the ECG concession,” the president stated.

On April 20, 2018, the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) the entity spearheading the concession process announced that it has selected Meralco Consortium to manage ECG under the compact two power agreement.

Meralco Consortium is led by the Manila Electricity Company from the Philippines.

In a statement, MiDA said Meralco Consortium is known to have the highest combined technical and financial score, and has therefore been designated as the Preferred Bidder.

Per the compact, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is expected to inject about 418 million dollars into ECG, while Meralco will invest about 500 million dollars.

BXC Company Limited and Meralco Consortium were the two final bidders after other bidders pulled out of the bidding process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Over 100k children caught in child labour in Ghana-NGO’s
May 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

The Government of Ghana has been urged to strengthen its measures aimed at fighting child labour, human trafficking and modern day slavery in the country if it hopes to end the menace. The move, according to experts is necessary as more children are being trafficked to work in hazardous environments in the country especially in the fishing sector.

Over 100,000 children according to a research are trapped in hazardous labour situations in the country as such children are made to perform tasks which are above their strength with no regard for their education and health.A lot of the children, the experts say even die in the process as their slave masters push them into rivers to carry out tasks which mostly claim their lives.

Ghana is rated one of the countries with the high prevalence of internal and cross border human trafficking with civil society organisations spear heading the fight against the menace. The US government last year threatened to cut more than 500m Dollars in aid to the country if progress is not made on eradicating the menace.

This follows Ghana’s continues stagnation in the global Trafficking In Persons Report conducted annually by the United State of America.  Speaking to Panafricanvisions.com on the sidelines of a Children and Youth Conference on Slavery and Child trafficking themed“Ending Modern Day Slavery Now”, the director of the anti-child trafficking Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) David Kofi Ewusi indicated that some 49,000 children are working on the Volta River alone under harsh conditions.

Such children, he indicated are without proper care and efforts must be doubled by authorities to rescue them before they lose their lives.

His outfit, he said in the last six months has been able to rescue 10 of such children as they tend to come under severe attacks in such rescue missions.

The security agencies and the child protection agencies, he said must up their game if such children are to be rescued thereby preserving their lives.

 

 

 

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Ghanaian Christian lawmakers reject any consideration of lifting sodomy law
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

“Such abominable practices have no place in our cultural norms as Africans.”

By ZACK FORD*

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo bids farewell to British Prime Minister Theresa May after taking part in the final press conference of CHOGM 2018 at Marlborough House on April 20, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo bids farewell to British Prime Minister Theresa May after taking part in the final press conference of CHOGM 2018 at Marlborough House on April 20, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May apologized to the commonwealth countries for imposing discriminatory laws, including laws criminalizing homosexuality. But several of Ghana’s Christian lawmakers are fervently defending the country’s sodomy law, condemning the idea of even considering repeal because it could destroy the entire country.

Members of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, a coalition of Christian members of Ghana’s parliament, issued a statement last week expressing their “total disapproval or attempts to promote and pressurise the government of Ghana to accept lesbianism, Gayism, Bisexual and Transgender practices (LGBT) as human rights.”

“It is common knowledge that such abominable practices have no place in our cultural norms as Africans,” the statement continues. “It is also true that quite apart from Christianity none of the known Religions in Ghana accepts these practices as normal human behaviour. The forbearers and founding fathers of our dear nation have great respect for the country’s value systems and under no circumstance should we betray their legacy, toil, and trust by allowing a rather backward practice using the legislative arm of government. The dynamism of any culture should positively impact on its existence and not to lead to its destruction.”

Ghana’s criminal code punishes any “unnatural carnal knowledge” with another person as a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison. The law explains that “unnatural carnal knowledge shall be deemed complete upon proof of the least degree of penetration.”

The statement concludes, “It is our belief that people with such tendencies towards same-sex deserve assistance and deliverance from trained professionals and fervent prayer. We cannot afford to compromise the future of our nation.”

The lawmakers also called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reject “all enticement, juicy promises, and pressures” from other countries “to accept this dehumanising practice.” In addition to May’s recent comments, this could also refer to Britain’s past threats to cut off foreign aid to countries that still criminalize homosexuality.

Last November, Akufo-Addo said in an interview with Al Jazeera that he thought the legalization of homosexuality was inevitable in Ghana, but demurred on whether he supported it. He instead suggested that it won’t happen until “a sufficiently strong coalition” emerges and shifts public opinion, which he does not believe has happened yet. Many conservatives felt this response was not a firm enough condemnation of homosexuality.

And Akufo-Addo is playing defense on the issue of gay rights this week after a member of the National Democratic Congress, his opposing party, claimed that he supported marriage equality for same-sex couples. A statement released by his director of communications emphasized, “This is nothing but a baseless and vile fabrication, by no less a person than the General Secretary of the leading opposition party in Ghana. For the avoidance of doubt, President Akufo-Addo has NEVER stated anywhere that, under his presidency, ‘men will marry men, and women will marry women.’”

U.S. evangelical Christians have played a significant role in exporting anti-LGBTQ beliefs to African countries, including Ghana.

*Source Think Progress

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Reality Check: Are young Nigerians working hard enough?
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stephanie Hegarty*

As the president of a democratic country, suggesting the bulk of your electorate is lazy is not usually a good idea and doing so at an international business forum, even less so.

And that is what a lot of Nigerians thought about comments made by their president, Muhammadu Buhari, on a visit to London last week.

Speaking on a panel during the Commonwealth Business Forum, President Buhari said that “a lot of” Nigerian youths claim “they should sit and do nothing” but expect to get “housing, healthcare and education free”.

Unsurprisingly social media erupted and the hashtag #LazyNigerianYouths was born.

In a statement soon afterwards, the president defended his words. His media aide quite rightly pointed out that the president never used the word lazy. But that didn’t do much to quell the angry masses online.

One Twitter user said: “I am a 2nd class upper graduate of chemistry science from university of Lagos, I am now a shoe maker cos I couldn’t get a job, I am not lazy, I am not lazy I am not lazy #LazyNigerianYouths”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Nigerian President Muhammadu BuhariImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Buhari met with British Prime Minister Theresa May during the week of the Commonwealth summit.

To get to the bottom of this heated debate, BBC Reality Check looks at the stats and asks – in a country famous for its hustle – how much are young Nigerians contributing to the economy?

Ask a Nigerian what they do for a living and you’re likely to get a minimum of two answers, three is normal – four, not beyond the realms of possibility. And, as many of these #LazyNigerianYouths posts demonstrate, when a salaried job is out of the question Nigerians can find creative ways to make money.

As the president said in his speech, 60% of Nigeria’s population is under 30 – that’s roughly 107 million people.

A lot of them are still children but a huge chunk are of working age and yet can’t get a job.

Unemployment in Nigeria almost tripled from 2014 to 2017 from 6.4% to 18%, according to the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics. It increased at roughly the same rate for 15 to 34-year-olds as it did for older workers.

But here’s the crucial difference – from 2014 to 2017 Nigeria’s older labour force increased by 3.9m, its younger workforce increased by 8.2m.

Chart showing how the unemployment rate has increased in Nigeria since 2010.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s economy, which relies on exports of oil, tanked because of the slump in the global price of oil. It would make sense that most of these young people would struggle to find jobs and they did.

Even though there was a recession, in both age groups the number of people who found work increased by about one million. (Nigeria came out of recession in September 2017).

So despite their lack of experience in an increasingly competitive market, just as many young people as older people were able to hold on to their jobs or even to find jobs.

Cue cheers from Nigerian youth everywhere. But it may not all be good news.

Chart showing the percentage of unemployed Nigerians in different age groups. Highest percentage in 15-24, then 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64.

It’s important here to look at underemployment – those who work fewer than 40 hours a week or are working in jobs where their pay doesn’t match their qualifications.

A total of 40% of Nigeria’s 80 million-strong workforce is “unemployed or underemployed”.

In the 15 to 34 age bracket this is much higher, more than half (52%) work less than a 40-hour week. That means 22.6 million young people are struggling to get by.

Male sells water in the middle of a busy road in LagosImage copyrightAFP

An interesting stat from 2004, in a report by National Transfer Accounts, which studies populations and economic change and is based at Berkley University in California, said that Nigerians spent more than they earned until they were 32. That means, despite working, they didn’t earn enough to get by.

That was 14 years ago, we don’t know whether the same or worse is true in today’s economy. But inflation has rocketed over the past three years, only recently slowing down, while wages haven’t risen, so it’s likely young people are facing a similar challenge and relying on older relatives for support.

It’s also likely that a lot of young people are working in the informal economy, which is huge. The IMF says the informal economy makes up more than 60% of the country’s GDP – the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. But it’s also mostly low-skilled, low-paid work, with inferior working conditions and zero benefits.

A street vendor sells books on a busy road in Lagos, Nigeria.Image copyrightAFP

Lagos could be the hustle capital of the world, epitomised by the street hawkers in every traffic jam, where hundreds of young people carry boxes of plantain chips, biscuits, water, even kitchen appliances or enormous cuddly toys.

They weave in and out of traffic jams, breaking suddenly into a fierce run to secure a sale, abandoning sandals in their wake as they try to keep up with drivers who refuse to lose their place in the queue.

Despite their doggedness, these young people aren’t earning as much, or contributing as much to the economy as those working in say, banks or phone shops. And they definitely aren’t paying tax.

But then, the argument goes, why should they? There is something even deeper that this debate has brought to the surface – Nigeria’s struggling public education system.

Unicef puts the number of Nigerian children out of school at 10.5 million, the highest in the world – by size, not proportionally. And the quality of public education has slipped so low that it has become a last resort for many families.

Three-quarters of schools in Lagos are private, according to the World Bank. On top of that, anyone who can afford it, including the president himself, sends their children to school abroad. And that’s why #LazyNigerianYouths is being used to celebrate individual achievement despite the odds set against it.

Nigeria is one of the fastest growing countries on the planet, set to surpass India and the US by 2050, so the electorate is only getting younger.

This presidential incumbent – who will be 76 by the time elections come next February – would be wise to start thinking about how he addresses them.

*Source BBC

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Trump and Nigerian President Buhari deflect awkward question
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Buhari is the first African leader to be received at the white house by President Trump

President Buhari is the first African leader to be received at the white house by President Trump

US President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging of African countries did not come up in his talks with Nigeria’s president, the two leaders have said.

Muhammadu Buhari sidestepped a reporter’s question about Mr Trump’s alleged use of the term “shitholes” to describe certain developing nations.

In their White House news conference, Mr Trump added: “We didn’t discuss it.”

The Nigerian was the first sub-Saharan African leader to be invited for talks with the Trump administration.

Mr Buhari was asked during Monday’s joint press conference about a report in January that Mr Trump had complained about immigrants coming to the US from “shithole countries”, specifically referring to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations.

The Nigerian president diplomatically replied: “I’m not sure about, you know, the validity of whether that allegation against the president is true or not.

“So the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”

Mr Trump did not deny he had used the term in his own reply.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (left) and US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White HouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionUS President Donald Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House

“The [Nigerian] president knows me and he knows where I’m coming from,” he said.

“And you do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.”

Mr Trump took the opportunity to rail against US immigration laws, calling them “obsolete”, “weak” and “pathetic”.

“Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster,” he said, renewing calls for a border wall.

The White House recently sold 12 counter insurgency aircraft worth $496m (£360m) to Nigeria to help in its fight against Boko Haram jihadist insurgents.

Boko Haram militants launched their insurgency in 2009Image copyrightBOKO HARAM
Image captionBoko Haram militants launched their insurgency in 2009

The US previously refused to sell military aircraft to Nigeria, citing human rights concerns.

Mr Trump said he hoped the Nigerian authorities would “protect innocent civilians of all faiths, including Muslims and including Christians”.

He also addressed sectarian strife in the African country, where 18 people, including two priests, were killed in an attack last week on a church.

“We’ve had serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed,” Mr Trump said. “We’re going to work on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard.”

BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones says an increasingly sectarian conflict is affecting central Nigeria, where nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers have been clashing over grazing land.

Fighting terrorism is a priority for both administrations, our correspondent says.

Mr Trump also said he hoped Nigeria would remove trade barriers to allow imports of American agricultural produce.

This is another contentious issue as the Nigerian government has been trying to develop its own agriculture sector as it seeks to deal with mass unemployment and an economy reliant on oil.

At home, President Buhari faces multiple security challenges, including the nine-year-old insurgency by Boko Haram in the north-east, and mounting insecurity in the centre of the country.

Mr Buhari, who is seeking re-election next year, in 2015 became the first opposition leader to be elected president in Nigeria.

*Source BBC

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IFF2018: Experts Assess State of Internet Freedom in Africa
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

For three days, digital rights experts and stakeholders assessed the state of internet freedom in Africa. This was the recently concluded 6th Internet Freedom Forum organised by Paradigm Initiative at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, between April 24 and 26, 2018.

The experts, who came from countries across Africa and the world, gathered in Abuja to help shape the future of policy on the Internet in Africa.

According to Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative, “The Internet is rapidly changing every aspect of life in Africa – including education, work, business, entertainment, governance and health, amongst others. Its growing importance has made it a contention ground for interests in government, the private sector and civil society. The Forum, therefore, serves as a platform to actively and proactively engage with policies that affect freedom and rights online.”

Speaking at the event, Titi Akinsanmi, Head Public Policy and Government Relations at Google stated, “The Internet has become an indispensable tool for development in all sectors of life. All hands must be on deck to enable more access to the Internet, and to eliminate abuses such as privacy violations”.

Also speaking at the event, Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager West Africa for Facebook, remarked, “As Nigeria approaches the 2019 elections, the Internet is a useful vehicle for civic education for citizens on the best practices for political participation. Facebook will work with stakeholders in Nigeria to ensure that our platform is not abused to impact negatively on the elections.”

Nnenna Wakama, Senior Manager, Africa, for the World Wide Web Foundation, highlighted the challenge of the rising cost of Internet data across the continent saying, “The conversation on Internet freedom must begin at looking at the prohibitive cost of data bundles which prevents millions of people from accessing the Internet in Africa”.

On the side session on Nigeria’s Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr Damen Ilevbaoje, Program Manager at Budgit Nigeria, stated, transparent and effective use of the Universal Service Provision Fund is a priority if Internet access is to reach underserved areas in Nigeria’s rural areas”

Speaking at the International event, the Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, noted, “The Internet is, without doubt, one of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century, and has radically transformed every aspect of our modern society. IFF 2018 is a continuation of the conversation we must continue to have with all stakeholders as we seek to build a healthy and free Internet space for Africa, and the world”.

‘Gbenga Sesan said further, “in continuation of this important conversation and to cater for an expanded audience, from 2019 the Internet Freedom Forum will now be known as the “Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum.”

Paradigm Initiative also announced the creation of a Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship, which is designed to give “media professionals, who are important stakeholders in this conversation, an opportunity to interact with professionals working on digital rights and inclusion across the continent”.

The Internet Freedom Forum welcomed over two hundred delegates from some thirty countries in Africa and beyond and received support from organisations including Microsoft, Ford Foundation, The Guardian, Mozilla, Google, Facebook, Premium Times and Civicus.

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Africa: Open for Business! Canada to host The Commonwealth Africa Forum in July 2018
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Convening over 250 delegates and a number of high profile speakers, the Canada Forum will offer unrivalled insight into business on the continent from the boldest innovators and decision makers in Africa
LONDON, United Kingdom, April 26, 2018/ — Senior Government and Business Leaders from Africa and North America will gather in Toronto from the 5th – 8th July 2018 for The Commonwealth Africa Forum Toronto 2018 with the theme: Africa – Open for Business. www.CASevents.org/tafcanada2018

Past Speakers at  CAFI EVENTS have included: HRH Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Former Nigerian Head of State); Rt Hon Baleka Mbete (Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (Former President of Nigeria), H.E John Dramani Mahama (Former President of Ghana), Amina J Mohammed (UN Deputy Secretary General) represented by H.E Bience Gawanas (UN Under Secretary for Africa), H.E Mrs Toyin Saraki (Wife of the Senate President of Nigeria), Dr. Hassan Ahmed Hilal (Minister of Environment Sudan), Chief Mrs Folorunso Alakija (Vice Chair – Famfa Oil and Richest Black Woman), and more.

The Commonwealth Africa Forum is a premier event for those curious and excited about Africa. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the challenges and opportunities on the continent.

The Canadian edition of The Africa Forum is conceived as a high level thematic business-related event with the vision that Canada and Africa must move beyond donor/recipient relationship towards long-term cooperation based on principles of ownership, partnership and solidarity.

Africa is a continent of paradox. It has buckets of possibility and investment opportunity, and it is well on the path to achieving that full potential however if still faces a multitude of challenges”, says Adonis Abboud, Member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Africa Initiative (http://CommonwealthAfrica.com) .

Convening over 250 delegates and a number of high profile speakers, the Canada Forum will offer unrivalled insight into business on the continent from the boldest innovators and decision makers in Africa. A gala dinner will close the Forum which will focus on Doing Business in Africa, with the theme: Africa, Open for Business.

Three of the five fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. Africa has 300+ tech hubs in 93 cities across 42 countries. Increased internet penetration, mass urbanization and growth in smartphone adoption, combined with rapid population growth, and has made Africa extremely attractive to investors.

Africa is the continent of the future: Africa is home to the world’s youngest population. In 20 years, the number of sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age (15-64) will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. By 2040, less than 25 years from now, half of the world’s youth will be African or of African descent.

“It is in light of this that the Forum will feature a High Level Youth Dialogue with participation from Young leaders from across Africa and North America. Conversations at the Youth Forum will consider how Diaspora and African Youths can collaborate to help Africa fulfil the aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063 and the SDGs” says Napoleon Jay, Co-Chair of the Local Organising Committee.

The Forum will bring together African and North American business leaders representing multi-nationals, large corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises and confederations, civil society representatives and multilateral and regional institutions to discuss how to improve the business and investment climate between Africa, Canada and North America at large.

TAF Canada will also be an opportunity to showcase that Canada is also open for business and investment and the forum will showcase Canadian opportunities to African investors. In the words of Prime Minister Trudeau at the World Economic Forum “We have a diverse and creative population, outstanding education and health care systems, and advanced infrastructure, we have social stability, financial stability and a government willing to invest in the future”.

Come listen to distinguished speakers who are helping to shape the future and trajectory of the abundant continent called AFRICA.

The event is organised by the Commonwealth Africa Initiative (CAFI) in association with Common Cause Africa Canada, YTI Canada, APO Group, Piety Inc, Pan African Diplomacy Center and other organisations.

 

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African government representatives and policymakers to grace 2018 sustainable energy for all forum in Portugal
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

African countries’ representatives and policy makers are expected to grace the forthcoming sustainable energy for all 2018 forum to be held on 2 to 3 May 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal to deliberate on and advance sustainable energy initiatives in their respective countries.

According to the organizers, this year’s forum programme includes a number of government ministers and other policymakers from countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Europe. It is reported that ministers from Rwanda, Ghana, Saint Lucia, Portugal and other countries will be discussing the importance of government policy in stimulating, or impeding, energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. They will also join other key stakeholders to discuss critical topics such as clean fuels for cooking and electrification for all in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is added that leaders from government, business, civil society and international organizations will gather in Lisbon for the fourth Sustainable Energy for All Forum. The organizers add that the 2018 Forum, “Leaving No One Behind”, will take place at a pivotal juncture for accelerating progress on global sustainable energy goals — under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 — and the Paris Climate Agreement. At stake are significant populations that are missing out on education, health, jobs and broader economic opportunities because they do not have access to clean, affordable energy. Closing these energy gaps — especially for ‘last mile’ populations — is the Forum‘s imperative.

The agenda will focus on sharing the latest evidence of scalable innovations in providing electricity access, accelerating renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in all corners of the world. It will shine a spotlight on the urgency for bringing affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy to under-served populations, communities and regions that are at risk of being left behind in the global clean energy transition. These populations are especially vulnerable to energy poverty, climate impacts and other extreme economic challenges; yet they also lack a voice, finance and political capacity for changing their situation.

Hosted by Sustainable Energy For All (SEforALL) at the Convento do Beato in Lisbon, the Forum will examine the latest data on progress — or lack of — in achieving SDG7 goals. A highlight will be the launch of the 2018 Global Tracking Framework report, which benchmarks annual progress towards achieving universal access to modern energy services, doubling renewable energy and improving energy efficiency by 2030.

The Sustainable Energy for All Forum will be a marketplace featuring an exhibition space that will allow SEforALL partners to showcase their work, a platform for leaders and organizations to share their latest announcements and ‘pitch’ bigger collaborations,diverse, cutting-edge voices from Africa and the Middle East, to South America and Asia who are all accelerating and scaling action at the local, national and international level,unique networking opportunities for brokering new partnerships between governments leaders, business CEOs and civil society leaders and regional and sector-focused discussions through 16 Partner Working Sessions.

It is reported that other key events will include the fourth edition of the Global Tracking Framework, updates from SEforALL Accelerators, including the People-Centered Accelerator and others focused on industry, business and efficiency, a new interactive website that maps stakeholder engagement on gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment at the nexus of sustainable energy and climate change agendas, the launch of a new report on socio-economic trends impacting the gendered uptake of energy access and SDG7 and announcements from the Shine campaign.

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“I’m back”, Ex Malawi President Joyce Banda returns after a 4 year self-imposed exile
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda

The former president of Malawi, Joyce Banda returned to the country after spending 4 years in exile; this despite allegations of corruption and an arrest warrant hanging over her head. Hundreds of supporters of her party (People’s Party) clad in the party’s orange colours sang and ululated as Joyce Banda got off the plane.

Joyce Banda, the second woman in history to be the president of an African country after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia became the president of Malawi in 2012. The 68-year-old ex-president who formed a splinter party in 2011 competed and won the presidential election against her former party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika; he died in office.

Circumstances leading to her self-imposed exile

Joyce Banda’s reign as the president of Malawi was short-lived as she lost the 2014 Tripartite General Elections to DPP. One of the major reasons behind Joyce Banda’s election loss is due to the Cashgate Scandal.

The Cashgate Scandal became a public secret just six months before the 2014 Tripartite General Elections. A British accountancy firm, Baker Tilly tasked with auditing the flow of donor money in Malawi unravelled huge financial discrepancies and fraud in government business. The firm’s report revealed that there were 501 suspicious transactions between April and September of 2013. These suspicious transactions involved massive fraud activities as invoices were overstated by thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. The report also revealed that there were some invoices written to companies that had not rendered any services or products to the government. The report stated that US $14.5 million had been paid to dormant companies just for money laundering purposes.

As the media frenzy around the story started to rise, the public also started to connect the dots as rumours started doing the rounds on how many high ranking civil servants were acquiring properties in affluent suburbs around the country. At one point, a government clerk was found with $300, 000 in his car.

Though the report didn’t name any perpetrators, it led to a growing public dissatisfaction and resentment of the Joyce Banda led government. Consequently, she went on to lose the election. Fearing that she might be used as a sacrificial lamb by the incoming government, Joyce Banda fled the country spending most of her time in the US.

It took some time for the new government to officially charge Joyce Banda but it did so in 2017 when an arrest warrant was issued for her on corruption charges.

A case of using scarcity to increase respect and honour?

The timing of Joyce Banda’s return is somewhat interesting. Joyce Banda while in exile always claimed her innocence whenever the Cashgate Scandal topic was raised. If indeed that is the case, then she surely didn’t stay much longer in exile due to fear of prosecution in her mother country. The mere fact that she finally decided to return even when the arrest warrant is still valid to some extent proves this assertion correct.

However, not discrediting the above, we can also say that Joyce Banda’s return is inspired by the quest to clear her name and involvement in the Cashgate scandal. In all her time living in exile, Joyce Banda has always said that the practice of inflating invoices and siphoning donor money started long before she ascended to power. This claim is supported by many officials both in government and in non-governmental organisation, even the accountancy firm, Baker Tilly who unravelled the Cashgate Scandal first concur that the practice of siphoning public funds certainly didn’t start with the reign of Banda. However, the same report suggests that money laundering increased significantly when she was in charge. This means while trying to exonerate herself from any wrongdoing, Banda still needs to explain how the siphoning of donor funds increased under her watch.

Renowned author Robert Greene’s 16th law of power taken from his book, The 48 Laws of Power reads’ “Use absence to increase respect and honour” while the 22nd law reads, “Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power.” There is no doubt (whether she was involved or not) that the Cashgate Scandal dampened and stained Joyce Banda’s political fortunes more so considering the election loss. Recognising the damage done, Joyce Banda had to look for a strategy, either to stay in the heat or to strategize in private. She opted for the second option and it was (it seems) the right option. Staying in Malawi would have further damaged Banda’s reputation as she was going to be an easy target for the blame game.

By staying away from the public eye, she created value by her scarcity. She returning exactly a year before the next presidential election and announcing on her arrival her intention to hold a rally the very following day clearly shows that she is not done with politics. Banda used the surrender tactic by going into exile and that transformed her previously stained and weak position into a position of power. The challenge now for her is to reenergise her political base. This won’t be easy however considering that her party’s leadership has been fighting in her absence. Just like the proverbial sheep scattering all over after the ‘death’ of the shepherd, Banda’s task in the immediate future is to bring back the sheep into a single grouping before next year’s presidential election in May.

Government’s response

The only communication issued by the government thus far concerning Joyce Banda’s return has come from the Police spokesperson James Kaledzera, who said that the arrest warrant for Joyce Banda is still valid. He, however, could not be drawn into saying if the police are going to act on the arrest warrant and arrest Joyce Banda. With the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) stating that there is no solid evidence implicating the former president in the Cashgate Scandal, it seems right at this time to conclude that Joyce Banda is not going to face an arrest over the corruption allegations.

The likelihood of an arrest is also very slim if reports from the media are anything to go by. There are reports that Joyce Banda and the incumbent president, Peter Mutharika are planning to strike a deal which will see their two parties entering the upcoming elections as an alliance. It’s not clear at this point who the presidential candidate is going to be if the two agree to form an alliance.

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Trump finally hosts African leader at the White House
April 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By SAM OLUKOYA*

FILE - In this Friday, May 29, 2015 file photo, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari arrives for his Inauguration at the eagle square in Abuja, Nigeria. After more than a year in office, President Donald Trump for the first time is hosting an African president at the White House. The meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, April 30, 2018 comes after an uncomfortable start to the Trump administration's approach to the world's second most populous continent. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

FILE – In this Friday, May 29, 2015 file photo, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari arrives for his Inauguration at the eagle square in Abuja, Nigeria. After more than a year in office, President Donald Trump for the first time is hosting an African president at the White House. The meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, April 30, 2018 comes after an uncomfortable start to the Trump administration’s approach to the world’s second most populous continent. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — After more than a year in office, President Donald Trump for the first time is hosting an African president at the White House. The meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday comes after an uncomfortable start to the Trump administration’s approach to the world’s second most populous continent.

Security and economic issues top the agenda for the bilateral meeting and working lunch. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with almost 200 million people, is the largest economy on the continent and the leading crude oil exporter. Buhari was one of the first two African leaders Trump called after he took power, along with South Africa’s president.

Nigeria is also one of Africa’s most troubled when it comes to extremism. Extremist group Boko Haram launched a violent insurgency in the northeast nine years ago with the aim of creating an Islamic state, and tens of thousands of people have been killed. Mass abductions of schoolgirls brought Boko Haram international notoriety and one faction has declared allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Boko Haram is now active in neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad and poses one of the most severe security threats to West Africa’s vast Sahel region.

With Nigeria nowhere close to fully defeating Boko Haram despite government claims of having “crushed” the extremists, Buhari is expected to seek further U.S. military assistance. Already the Trump administration has made a $600 million deal to supply military planes and security equipment, one that was stalled under the Obama administration because of allegations that Nigeria’s military has been involved in human rights including rape and extrajudicial killings.

“Absent clear evidence of a systematically abusive regime, moral preening is of little utility in dealing with situations like this,” J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, said in a blog post on Thursday, saying Buhari’s administration has taken a “much more decisive approach” to Boko Haram.

Buhari, facing elections early next year, is under pressure to deliver on promises to defeat Boko Haram that helped him win office in 2015 in a rare democratic transfer of power in Nigeria.

In addition to seeking greater security collaboration, Buhari and Trump also will “discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and to advance shared priorities, such as promoting economic growth,” the Nigerian presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said in a statement.

Nigerian newspapers report that a team of government officials that travelled to the U.S. ahead of Buhari have signed an agreement to provide four companies led by General Electric the opportunity to invest an estimated $2 billion to modernize key railways between Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, and the northern city of Kano and between Port Harcourt in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the northern city of Maiduguri — the birthplace of Boko Haram.

China, the top investor in Nigeria, already is deep into similar infrastructure work in the country.

Officials in Buhari’s delegation also will try to strike a deal with U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing for a new state-owned airline project that Nigeria’s junior aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, has said will be the largest in Africa.

Nigerian officials are also expected to explore financing arrangements with the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

While Nigeria seeks closer military and security ties with the U.S., it can’t overlook the difficult moments since Trump came to power — not least Trump’s firing of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just hours after Tillerson came to Nigeria on the highest-level U.S. visit to Africa since Trump took office.

In December, Nigeria and several other African countries that are traditionally friendly with the U.S. at the U.N. General Assembly voted to condemn Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In January, Nigeria was one of a number of outraged African countries to summon the U.S. ambassador to explain Trump’s reported vulgar remarks likening the continent to a filthy toilet.

The U.S. president already had caused anger in Nigeria in June when he reportedly said Nigerians wouldn’t want to return to their “huts” if allowed to visit the U.S.

Such utterances have left Trump with a low rating among many Nigerians, though some in the country with a sometimes tense Muslim-Christian divide have said they support the U.S. president’s wary stance on Muslim immigrants, notably his administration’s travel ban.

The stricter immigration policies, however, also make it more difficult for many Nigerians to travel to the U.S., doing nothing to give Trump a positive perception in a country where many youths want to escape economic hardship at home.

In light of the Trump administration’s perceived neglect of Africa, with key posts including assistant secretary of state for Africa and several ambassadorships remaining unfilled, “the administration may see the Buhari visit as an opportunity to make some amends, though they are unlikely to say as much,” a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, wrote Friday for the Council on Foreign Relations.

*AP

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