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Africa Cup of Nations 2015 review: highs and lows of the tournament
February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

The best goal, the best game and the biggest surprises after an eventful month in Equatorial Guinea was ended with Ivory Coast’s shootout success over Ghana

in Bata, Equatorial Guinea*

Team of the tournament

Ivory Coast's Kolo Touré raises the trophy after the final. Photograph: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Ivory Coast’s Kolo Touré raises the trophy after the final. Photograph: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

It would be churlish not to praise the winner, Ivory Coast, even if they stumbled over the line. They had waited 23 years for this and, mainly for their performances in the games against Cameroon, Algeria and DR Congo, could justifiably be called the best team. Equatorial Guinea deserve a mention too – their progress from the group stage was exhilarating and played out to remarkable levels of volume, and not even their fortunate win over Tunisia could completely silence the feelgood story. An unusually technical, mobile team of overachievers were fascinating to watch but in falling short against Ghana, their story became overtaken somewhat by off-pitch events.

Player of the tournament

Ghana’s Christian Atsu won the official award and probably deserved it overall. He was the best attacking player on display in the final – even if that was not saying a lot – and produced coruscating performances against Guinea, against whom he scored a remarkable angled 30-yarder, and Equatorial Guinea too. Can he push on and produce the goods for Everton at long last? Honourable mentions here go to Chancel Mbemba, the Anderlecht and DR Congo midfielder, and the veteran Equatorial Guinea holding player, Ivan Zarandona, whose languishing in the Hong Kong league seems a thing of the imagination.

Game of the tournament

Despite a sometimes tedious group stage there ended up being a few contenders. Algeria’s 3-1 win over South Africa was rollicking good fun after the interval, even if error-strewn, while the quarter-finals were uniformly fun and DR Congo’s 4-2 comeback win over Republic of the Congo – another game where the action came in the second-half – was breathless stuff. Ivory Coast’s 3-1 quarter-final win over Algeria was the best example of two top sides going blow for blow, though, and a tight game that grew in quality was far closer than the scoreline suggests. It was a match that would have been worthy of the final and, not for the first time, you cursed the skewed nature of the draw.

Goal of the tournament

For drama, timing and did-he-really-just-do-that, Javier Balboa’s free-kick winner for Equatorial Guinea in the controversial quarter-final against Tunisia is a clear winner. There were suggestions that Aymen Mathlouthi had been too slow across his goal but this was a wonderfully-placed free-kick, taken in an air pregnant with expectant tension, and sparked levels of pandemonium barely credible to even the most seasoned observers. Other honourable mentions go to Atsu, Bakary Sako – whose left-foot half-volley against the Ivorians was a delightful study in technique – and two of an entertaining South African side. Thuso Phala was on the end of the flowing team goal against Algeria and Mandla Masango scored a thudding volley against the Ghanaians, but both would be in vain.
Regret of the tournament

Although the host nation’s progress to the semi-finals was exuberantly received there had been a degree of unease at one or two of their games. The group fixture against Burkina Faso saw skirmishes between police and fans at the gates and it only took a tiny skip of the imagination to see that things might not have gone off smoothly if the teams’ fates had been reversed in the Tunisia quarter-final. But there was still no foreseeing the extent to which things degenerated in the last-four match with the Ghanaians: however you analyse the root cause of the supporters’ actions, it was an episode that will cloud memories of the past few weeks and, if Caf have any self-awareness, should lead to some soul-searching about the chain of events that led to the competition being held here at all.
Revelation of the tournament

The Equatoguinean league rarely crosses the radars of even the most hardened African football scouts but perhaps a few might attempt to negotiate the country’s labyrinthine visa process and head to a Deportivo Mongomo game soon. That is if Felipe Ovono has not convinced somebody to take the plunge already. The home nation’s goalkeeper is just 21 and stands only slightly taller than 6ft, yet he was the stand-out goalkeeper here and a figure who commanded attention even when the freedom with which his outfield team-mates sometimes played was a more obvious draw.



Ovono is laudably brave and made a speciality of claiming balls he had little right to contest – generally to a backdrop of near-hysterical cheers. It was unfortunate that his one major misjudgment resulted in a penalty and goal for Ghana in the semi-final, but Ovono mixes the exuberance of youth with a genuine sense of command and it would be interesting to see how he would fare higher up the football food chain. But he did not make the …
… Save of the tournament

Darren Keet will not look back on this competition with much fondness. The South Africa goalkeeper was relieved of first-choice status after their first game, against Algeria, after the north Africans overturned a deficit to win 3-1. Nitpickers could fault Keet for Algeria’s first two goals and he was more squarely to blame for the third, when Islam Slimani’s shot went right through him. So it will be lost to history that Keet had made a thrilling double save just moments after Tokelo Rantie had missed the penalty that would have put South Africa 2-0 up. An instinctive save from Slimani’s backheel was good but his reaction to the follow-up, tipping the same player’s rebound on to the bar from point-blank range, was genuinely brilliant. The Kortrijk player will, at least, always have that.
Feelgood moment of the tournament

It came right at the very end. Boubacar Barry is far from the biggest name of Ivory Coast’s “golden generation”, and perhaps it is generous to bracket him in that category at all, but the 35-year-old goalkeeper has been there through the good and the bad times – including two final defeats – and here he served up the best of all.

Barry, who plays for Lokeren in Belgium and has been a derided figure down the years, travelled here as second choice and was not expected to appear, but an injury to Sylvain Gbohouo gave him a chance in the final and perhaps the script had been written in advance. At the end of a see-sawing penalty shoot-out, a seemingly injured Barry picked himself up to save his counterpart Razak Braimah’s penalty and then coolly convert his own. You smiled spontaneously as he wheeled away and then reflected that after another tournament in which Ivory Coast’s bigger names had struggled for consistency and form, this might have been the best way for them to win.

Disappointment of the tournament

Much was expected of Paul Put’s Burkina Faso, runners-up last time and placed in the kinder half of the draw here. But despite creating enough chances in their first two games to win several groups, they came away from those with just one point and then lost 2-1 against Congo to seal their fate. Perhaps they were just unlucky; perhaps they are only a competent centre-forward away from being a potent force for the long-term; perhaps they just are not as good as their 2012 performance suggested. If they were the biggest on-pitch shame, the events of Equatorial Guinea’s semi-final against Ghana probably need little further recounting here, but will colour many perceptions of the tournament.

Team hotel of the tournament

This award should be dedicated to Claude Le Roy, the Congo coach who is always a pleasure to engage in football conversation but this month reached Mastermind levels of cogniscience with the sometimes sub-standard accommodation arrangements that his team and others had to tolerate. It was in fact the Democratic Republic of the Congo who ended up with the weirdest arrangement, in a Butlins-esque resort next to Bata’s airport. Butlins holds a certain appeal to some but the cavernous dining hall in this venue, peopled by various ne’er-do-wells who you suspected might benefit from the proximity of flights out, was a slightly unsettling place when an ebullient DR Congo squad was not sitting down to eat.

A shout out, too, to the Vistamar in Bata and the Hilton in Malabo. Le Roy was not wrong – Caf and their associates had definitely made sure they were well looked after.




Dubious claim to fame of the tournament

It is always nice to feel that you have contributed to another’s success and the Ipswich Star newspaper seemed proud that Suffolk constabulary had been prior owners of the helicopter used to disperse supporters in the Equatorial Guinea v Ghana game. How fuzzy the glow would have been if the chopper, whose manoeuvre was frightening even to those watching at a distance, had made the slightest of wrong moves is probably a question best left alone.

Near miss of the tournament

Journalists filed into what looked a respectably proportioned mixed zone in the period between Equatorial Guinea v Congo and Gabon v Burkina Faso on the opening day, readying themselves for the obligatory quote-gathering scrum. They were then mired in a different kind of crush as a crowd of Gabon fans, attempting to enter the stand via a narrow adjacent staircase, exerted enough pressure on the flimsy plastic screens to send some of them tumbling and leave this reporter – along with others – scrambling away towards safety. The chaos eventually died down, at the cost of any post-match interviews, but fortunately this was one security issue from which organisers learned.

Venue of the tournament

If this was awarded for weirdness alone, Mongomo would take the crown most years. The vast Italianate basilica, modelled on St Peter’s in Rome, is odd enough and the numerous brand-new, empty edifices – a library, museum and college among them – that pepper the landscape around this small jungle town speak of an ambition that may or may not be realised. And when you have had enough of that, the quickest way back to Bata if you are in luck – or have a convenient contact in the army – is an entirely empty dual carriageway, not open to the general public, carved through dense jungle. But Estadio de Bata, comfortably the biggest stadium here, was probably the best in which to watch football – achieving the rare balance of being both modern and able to hold in 37,000 fans’ worth of noise.

*Source theguardian

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Zimbabwe: Buyanga Makes South Africa Rich List
February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Photo: Facebook Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga has been named among some of Africa's youngest United States dollar millionaires with "incredible success stories" by a South African newspaper. Photo: Facebook
Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga has been named among some of Africa’s youngest United States dollar millionaires with “incredible success stories” by a South African newspaper.[/caption] A ZIMBABWEAN businessman has been named among some of Africa’s youngest United States dollar millionaires with “incredible success stories” by a South African newspaper. The New Age described property and micro finance magnate, Frank Buyanga, 35, as an “entrepreneurial ray of hope”. Buyanga, who recently splashed on a US$345,000 Bentley Mulsanne, was named alongside five other “US dollar millionaires from South Africa and the rest of the continent who have inspirational stories”. “Zimbabwe may be experiencing the worst economic meltdown in its history but Frank Buyanga has proved to be an entrepreneurial ray of hope for young businesspeople hoping to make it,” the New Age reported. Buyanga, the paper added, is “among the richest young businesspeople in Africa… with impressive investments in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and as far as the United Kingdom.”

The report however noted that Buyanga’s success had “upset his competitors in his home country who accused him of conning people of their properties” leading to a lengthy police investigation which was wound up in January with the Zimbabwe Republic Police stating in High Court papers that it had found no evidence of criminality against him. The New Age also listed 44-year-old South African billionaire Elon Musk, a co-founder of PayPal; 38-year-old Mark Shuttleworth who founded Thawte, an internet security firm; Nigerian Uche Pedro, founder of Nigeria’s authoritative entertainment and fashion website Bella Naija, and South African Sbusiso Leope, also known as DJ Sbu, who left the studio to become a bestselling author and recently launched a new energy drink, Mo-Faya. Buyanga’s Hamilton business portfolio has tentacles spread across property investments, micro finance lending, insurance and funeral assurance following his recent acquisition of Cell Funeral. The flamboyant businessman, with an estimated US$20 million personal fortune, has used some of his riches to amass an impressive garage of supercars – his latest toy a 2014 $345,000 Bentley Mulsanne named last August in BBC Top Gear’s top five luxury cars that guarantee “utter serenity”. The Bentley, which came third in that list, “will show those peasants who is boss,” Top Gear said in the review, which listed the Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB as the ultimate and the Mercedes Benz S-Class 350 BlueEfficiency as its first runner up. *Allafrica]]>

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Battle for the Soul of Nigeria
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

The presidential Candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), respectively and their supporters as well as some foreign interests are waging a war for the control of the soul of the nation   By Maureen Chigbo* [caption id="attachment_16098" align="alignleft" width="600"]President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari shaking hands at the 2015 Elections Sensitization Workshop on Non-Violence in Abuja President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari shaking hands at the 2015 Elections Sensitization Workshop on Non-Violence in Abuja[/caption] THE political battle for the soul of Nigeria is raging. In the unfolding scenario, all manner of weapons are being deployed by the combatants who are contestants in the February 14 and 28 polls to suffocate opposition in this unfair war that foreign countries and Boko Haram elements are also interested in. The missiles used in this warfare ranges from violent verbal onslaught, vexatious advertisement, intimidation, outright lies, innuendo to physical violence as the politicians are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to emerge winner in the general elections. A close monitoring of the electoral space showed there have been a lot of scheming, maneuvering, nocturnal meetings where plots and counter plots are devised, reviewed and deploy at the earliest convenient time to unsettled the opponents. Also, there are allegations and counter allegations for and against the two prominent campaign teams – the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressive Congress, APC. The way the political fight is being waged now for the polls, all is fair and fair is foul in the ensuing bitter and divisive political campaigns of the two frontline presidential candidates – President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling PDP and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of APC. One worrisome development in the fierce battle field is the allegation that the Independent National Electoral Commission, has already rigged the election in favour of a particular candidate. The Irony is that both PDP and APC have claimed that INEC was plotting to rig election in favour of their opponent. But the most visible reason why the allegation against INEC is sticking is because of the shoddy distribution of the permanent voters’ card, PVC, to the electorate. Whereas in the South, people are finding it difficult to collect their voter’s card, the same could not be said in the North where majority of the people have collected their cards. It has also been alleged that INEC made it difficult for people in certain demographic areas especially where the Igbos  reside in all parts of the country difficult for the electorate  to collect their permanent voters card without which they will not be able to vote in the forthcoming election for the candidate of their choice. Suffice it to state that INEC has not come out to expressly denied this allegation but it has also said that in some of the areas people are not picking up their voters card. Another allegation which INEC will have to dismiss pronto, is the idea that traditional rulers in the North are collecting the voters card in bulk for their people, but the same is not allowed in the South. There is no evidence to prove this but the rumour has been strong in the South particularly in the East and South South. Perhaps, this belief explains why International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, alleged that INEC under the watch of Attahiru Jega, chairman, INEC, has already rigged the 2015 presidential poll in favour of the North. According to Intersociety, its forensic evaluation of the INEC’s distribution of PVCs across the country clearly shows that the commission seems to have successfully put electoral demographic statistics hugely in favour of the North, which will allow it clinch the presidency of the country come February 14, 2015. Emeka Umeagbalasi, board chairman, Intersociety, issued a statement on January 24, in Onitsha, citing the alleged mismanagement of the distribution of the permanent voters’ cards in favour of the North by INEC, claiming that it “is the third out of three-stage designed strategy for the North to emerge in the country’s presidency.” The first, according to Intersociety, was the botched creation of 30,000 polling units with grossly lopsided geopolitical distribution and the second was the issue of strange preferential voting treatment for the North-East IDPs said to be 918,416, who are mostly of Muslim population. The mother of all these was systematic and careful extermination of Christian populations and settlements in the North by Boko Haram oiled insurgency to make the voting an all Muslim affair in the core North. In the entire North, 24,481,487 citizens have received their PVCs and empowered to vote, whereas in the entire South, only 16,151,298 are empowered to vote having been issued with their PVCs. Owing to insecurity and other unsafe conditions created in the North, over four million Southerners mostly of Igbo tribe have fled the North and more three million will flee or leave the area between now and first week of February. [caption id="attachment_16102" align="alignleft" width="599"]US Secretary of State, John Kerry visits Nigeria US Secretary of State, John Kerry visits Nigeria[/caption] “Out of these numbers, up to five million of them will not vote in the said crucial polls owing to absence of their PVCs. There are also those that were recently captured in various continuous voters’ registration exercises across the country particularly in the South, who have received only Temporary Voters’ Cards, TVC. Many others have not even received PVCs or TVCs till date. These, INEC said will not vote because they do not possess PVCs. These prompted Intersociety to ask “Jega and his INEC, If Nigerian registered voters are to be blamed for not coming out to collect their PVCs, numbering 15,567,219, which forms the number of undistributed PVCs; are they also to be blamed for 14,491,866 that are yet to be produced and delivered to the commission till date? Are Nigerian registered voters responsible for 14,491,866 PVCs names that have not been captured till date only twenty days to the presidential poll? Is it also the Nigerian registered voters that should be blamed for those voters registered recently who have not been captured either in PVCs or TVCs? Are Nigerian registered voters also responsible for hundreds of thousands of missing registered voters from the INEC’s National Register of Voters such as in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State where 9,000 registered names are missing from the INEC’s manual and digital data?” Against this backdrop, the Intersociety concluded that the INEC has already rigged the presidential poll demographically speaking in favour of the North. “It is still shocking and magical as how the Commission effected high percentage distribution of PVCs in the troubled geopolitical zone of the North-East to the extent that the state of Bauchi has so far received 1,509,255, out of the so called registered voters of 2,502,609. The statistical implication of this is that the PVCs recipients in Bauchi State alone equal the total PVCs recipients in Anambra and Imo states put together. While a total of 1,544,793 PVCs have so far been distributed in the two states (Anambra 862,747, Imo 682,046), total of 1,509,255 PVCs have so far been distributed in Bauchi State alone. While five States in the troubled region of North-East have received 4,886,499 PVCs as of date, only 3,944,242 have received theirs in the entire five states of the South-East,” it said. [caption id="attachment_16099" align="alignright" width="586"]President Jonathan engaging the crowd at the PDP campaign rally in Umuahia President Jonathan engaging the crowd at the PDP campaign rally in Umuahia[/caption] Intersociety wanted INEC to state the magic behind such high percentage PVCs distribution in the troubled North-East? “Are they hoarded in the warehouses of some, if not many district heads/Emirs for onward transfer to Almajiris, infants and livestock on poll day? Were their owners located in the Cameroonian mountains, Adamawa hills, Sambisa forests, bushes and purdahs and issued or were they ferried from these hideouts to the collection centers via helicopters, horses and camels? In view of the magical distribution of PVCs in the troubled North-East with high percentage, why thickened desperation to get the North-East IDPs to vote at all costs, while disenfranchising millions of other registered voters in the South?” it asked. Umeagbalasi said that the group’s attention has again been drawn to the latest public statement made by the Jega, blaming Nigerian registered voters for not coming out en masse to collect their PVCs and absolving his commission of any blame associated with their poor distribution and collection. “The INEC chairman was responding to our recent letter to the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria, dated January 21, 2015, over the issue as well as a comment on the issue made by the national security adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki in UK, while responding to a question put across to him by a journalist, Mr. Theodore Damian, over the issue of disenfranchisement of over 30 million registered voters based on non-distribution of PVCs.” Dasuki had expressed same concerns and disappointment expressed by millions of other Nigerians, particularly the registered voters numbering 30,059,085, including the Sultan of Sokoko, who, till date, have not received or been issued with their legitimate PVCs. He concluded that if it could take INEC one whole year to distribute only 38,774,391 PVCs, what is the possibility of the commission receiving and distributing the remaining 30,059,085 PVCs less than three weeks to the all important February 2015 polls including 14,491,866 not yet produced and delivered to the Commission by its contractors/suppliers? Intersociety which is not in support of shifting the dates of the polls, insisted that all the registered voters must receive their PVCs. It suggested that the problem of the massive disenfranchisement could be remedied by taking the PVCs to the homes of the registered voters or allowing the registered voters to vote with either their PVCs or TVCs. Apart from the concerns of Intersociety, some Nigerians see the call by Dasuki for postpone of the election as a ploy to remove Jonathan from office through instituting the interim government which was previously canvassed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. One of people who share this line of thought sent a text message to Realnews describing Dasuki’s advise as “the plan B in motion”. According to the text message, “While the attack on Jonathan’s campaign team escalates, Dasuki (NSA) calls for election postponement. Sultan joins his voice. APC pretends to object, INEC too. Next step will be interim government, a formula Obasanjo pushed in the past. Will it fly today? Are we wiser now. Can we push back?” While serious thinkers are still trying to rationalise the interim government idea, political parties are devising devising ways to rig the election by all means possible. On Thursday, January 22, the Department of State Services, DSS, uncovered another plot by the All Progressive Congress to rig election in Imo State.  A letter from the DSS with reference No: S.292/867 dated January 9, 2015, alerted INEC to the illegal registration of electorates by the APC in Imo State. According to the letter which originated from the DSS office in Owerri, “on 9th January 2015, about 1350 hours, at Emekuku Comprehensive College, Emekuku, Owerri-North LGA, four (4) members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were arrested on suspicion of illegally registering members of the public who are yet to collect their permanent voters card from INEC. The quartet arrested are Ben Njemanze, Nnadi Micheal, Stella Njemanze (f) and Adanna Nzeh (f)”. According to the letter, investigation done by DSS revealed that “the registration exercise is statewide and is equal to a directive by the state leadership of the party (APC)/ and Governor Rochas Okorocha, who distributed registers with INEC inscription to party excos in all the electoral wards in the state for onward distribution to all polling booths for the above exercise.” “The action of the APC is generating tension amongst supporters of other political parties, who view the exercise as a part of a grand plan by APC to compromise the electoral process, with a view to rigging the 2015 polls. The fear of this category of electorates is further heightened by the fact that INEC in the state has disassociated itself from the exercise being carried out jointly by the APC and the state government”. The letter said that in the light of the this, it was imperative for INEC to caution those engaged in such activities and reject any list that may be presented to it on behalf of those yet to be registered”, the letter which was signed by O.P. Adegboye, state director of security, Imo State Command, said. The illegal register (which is published on our website,) had  the name of 90 voters made of male and female, who said that they are business or security men, artisans, teachers, drivers, students and traders. Their year of birth ranged between 1940 to 1999 while the phone numbers on the list have only 10 digits instead of 11 digits for a normal mobile phone. This made it impossible for Realnews to call the numbers to speak with one of the registrants. Prior to the Imo incident, INEC had invaded and arrested some people at the APC party office in Lagos, alleging that they were planning to hack INEC’s data base. APC has dismissed the DSS allegation stating that it was being partisan. Moreso, INEC has said that its data base was not under any threat. If the accusation to rig the election has failed to stick, the violence that has occurred in several parts of the country is part of the strategy deployed by the politicians to gain advantage. Already, many Nigerians cannot openly say who they want to vote for fear of being molested. In some offices, when people discuss a particular candidate, it is done in hushed tones to avoid someone who is opposed to their views from hearing and victimising them afterwards. The visible evidence of the violence, which has dogged the general elections reached a climax when the convoy of the president was attacked in Katsina. President Jonathan was also pelted with pure water at a campaign rally in Bauchi, an incident that Governor Isa Yagudu of Bauchi State said was instigated by discontented members of PDP in Abuja. Prior to these incidents, the campaign buses of the Jonathan campaign were attacked and burnt in Jos and Niger. Also the campaign office of APC in Rivers State was also bombed. Apart from destruction of property, nobody died. Many Nigerians from both the APC and PDP have criticised the attacks on Jonathan. The APC hierarchy led by Lai Mohammed denounced the attack on the president in Katsina, but he took a different tack to the incident in Bauchi. The APC, in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, insisted that the attacks were planned by some members of the ruling PDP. “Information is now in the public domain that these attacks were self-inflicted, with the aim of demonising the APC and instigating retaliatory attacks in the southern states, thus precipitating chaos which the PDP and the Presidency will then use as an excuse for the postponement of the elections. “Apparently, they did not envisage that the information about their complicity over the attacks will leak to the public. It is common knowledge that the security around the President is such that no hoodlum can come close enough to pelt him with stones,” APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed said in a statement released on Saturday, January 24. For Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo State, the battle for the soul of Nigeria is not just about politics but a matter of survival. He said last week in Igarra: “The issues are very clear. They have seen it and are now calling for the postponement of the February 14th elections. You cannot postpone the evil day. Nigeria must go for a peaceful election and the election will be peaceful. When God has decreed, no man can do otherwise, when your time is up you can’t postpone it. What we need now is a leader with courage. The courage to stand for Nigeria and that is why after trying PDP for 16 years, we believe we need General Muhammadu Buhari to take over and secure our country so we can live our life. A man has to come out, this election is about our survival. …So the issues this year is about our survival,” he said. [caption id="attachment_16103" align="alignright" width="300"]US secretary of state, John Kerry, meets  Gen. Buhari and APC Leadership US secretary of state, John Kerry, meets Gen. Buhari and APC Leadership[/caption] On the other hand, Jonathan’s kinsmen from the Niger Delta are also drumming the songs of war for the survival of their son – President Jonathan from further attack. To rammed their message home that they will not sit idly by and watch their the President being harassed wherever he goes to for campaign, leaders of major former militant groups in the Niger Delta who are from the same ethnic stock as Jonathan, have threatened to unleash a spate of violence on the country should he lose the February presidential elections. The militants spoke at a meeting held at the Bayelsa State Government House in Yenagoa, with Kingsley Kuku, president Jonathan’s Niger Delta Affairs, and chairman of Amnesty Implementation Committee, Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa state governor, and his deputy and Udengs Eradiri, president General of Ijaw Youth Council among others. Others present at the meeting were Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, leader, Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force; Victor Ben Ebikabowei, aka, Boy Loaf; and Government Ekpudomenowei, aka, Tompolo. The former militant leaders said a defeat for Jonathan at the presidential poll would be deemed an assault on the integrity of the Ijaw nation, and as such they would not only unleash violence on Nigeria but would also take back their oil. ”For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharaoh, there is a Moses. We are going to war.  Every one of you should go and fortify yourself,’’ Asari-Dokubo said, advising those at the meeting to be ready for the battle ahead and declared that Mr. Jonathan would win reelection. Dokubo-Asari, who condemned the attack on Jonathan in the north in the ongoing presidential campaigns, maintained that the survival of the Ijaw nation rests in the hands of the militants gathered at the meeting. Similarly, Boyloaf condemned the attack on Jonathan in the north, saying nobody has the monopoly of violence. He said there is nothing like one Nigeria, pointing out that oil is the only thing binding Nigeria’s diverse nationalities together. While maintaining that President Jonathan would win the election, he however said if the North takes the power away from Mr. Jonathan, the people of the Niger Delta region would take their oil back. ”For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharaoh, there is a Moses. We are going to war.  Every one of you should go and fortify yourself,’’ Asari-Dokubo said, advising those at the meeting to be ready for the battle ahead and declared that Mr. Jonathan would win reelection. Dokubo-Asari, who condemned the attack on Jonathan in the north in the ongoing presidential campaigns, maintained that the survival of the Ijaw nation rests in the hands of the militants gathered at the meeting. Similarly, Boyloaf condemned the attack on Jonathan in the north, saying nobody has the monopoly of violence. He said there is nothing like one Nigeria, pointing out that oil is the only thing binding Nigeria’s diverse nationalities together. While maintaining that President Jonathan would win the election, he however said if the North takes the power away from Mr. Jonathan, the people of the Niger Delta region would take their oil back. However, Governor Dickson thanked the former militant leaders for their resolve to back the re-election of President Jonathan with greater vigour and assured them that he would relate their position to the President. He urged them to resist the temptation of being recruited by the opposition to destabilise the state. The governor also charged them to shun propaganda and blackmail. [caption id="attachment_16100" align="alignleft" width="586"]Muhammadu Buhari at the APC rally Muhammadu Buhari at the APC rally[/caption] Nonetheless, the militants’ statements have angered some Nigerians who called for their arrest. On Wednesday, January 28, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, former chief of army staff and defence minister, called for the arrest of the ex-Niger Delta militants for threatening to declare war against the nation if president Goodluck loses February election, describing it as “unguarded and reckless” and warning that “miscreants” must not be allowed to hold the country by the jugular. A school of thought have equally scoffed at Danjuma’s umbrage asking where was he when Governor Rotimi Amaechi threatened that APC would form a parallel government should their candidate lose the February election. Nevertheless, the chants of war may have woken Suleiman Abba, inspector general of police, from slumber when he said that the police will arrest anybody making inflammatory statements. But he has not matched the tough talk with action so far given that supporters of the politicians in the presidential race have at one point in time made inflammatory statements without being arrested. Any arrest now will have tongues wagging that the police, which is headed by a Hausa-Fulani like the APC presidential candidate and INEC chairman, is taking sides in the ensuing struggle for the battle of the soul of Nigeria come February 14. The situation in the country is already tensed. And that may have explained the unscheduled visit of John Kerry, United States Secretary of State to Nigeria last week. Kerry who met with the two presidential candidates warned that anybody who recourse to violence will be denied US visa. The EU has also weighed in even though it has expressly said its observer mission will not go to the North East because of violence. The invisible fighters aka Boko Haram which wants to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Magreb and Nigeria have equally weighed in denouncing the two candidates. The Christians are also fighting to ensure that nobody takes away their freedom of worship. The meaning of all these is that the coming election is very important for all the interest groups. The situation looks pretty much precarious but not unmanageable. It behoves everybody involved in this macabre political dance – especially the citizenry, the supporters of politicians, the law enforcement agents and more importantly INEC  – to waltz through the political mine field gingerly so as not to detonated any bomb that will plunge Nigeria into chaos and oblivion. *Source realnewsmagazine]]>

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South Sudan foes agree to end conflict
February 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Kiir (left) and Mr Machar signed the deal at talks in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa President Kiir (left) and Mr Machar signed the deal at talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa[/caption]

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar have signed a deal, committing to end the conflict that has devastated the country.

The ceasefire agreement was signed at talks in Ethiopia. But consultations will continue on the contentious issue of a future government and power-sharing. The conflict – which erupted in December 2013 – has displaced about 1.5 million people and earlier ceasefire deals have not been lasted. Coup allegation “Complete cessation of hostilities in South Sudan is expected as of this morning (Monday),” said Seyoum Mesfin, a negotiator from the regional Igad bloc. It is proposed that Mr Kiir would remain president in a new administration, while Mr Machar would be appointed vice-president, two African diplomats attending the talks told Reuters. But the talks have now been adjourned until mid-February to allow the parties involved to consider the power-sharing arrangements, the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza in Addis Ababa reports. A final agreement should be concluded by 5 March. Clashes in South Sudan erupted several months after a decision by Mr Kiir in July 2013 to dismiss the entire cabinet and Vice-President Machar. The president had accused Mr Machar of plotting a coup. Mr Machar denied the allegation, but then raised a rebel force to fight government troops. Some 10,000 people are estimated to have died in the fighting, which has mainly been between President Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and the Nuer group of Mr Machar. Salva Kiir has led South Sudan, the world’s newest state, since its independence from Sudan in 2011. *Source BBC]]>

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Africa looks to extend new disaster insurance to Ebola-like epidemics
February 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Daniel Flynn in Dakar*

ebolareutersAfrican countries want to extend a new catastrophe insurance fund, which made its first payout of $25 million this month, to include protection against epidemics in the wake of the devastating Ebola outbreak.

The African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency, a specialised body of the African Union, launched a scheme last year to insure against natural disasters.

It is an effort to break Africa’s reliance on foreign aid and address the impact of climate change by using innovative financial techniques.

The ARC paid $25 million in its first year of operations to Senegal, Mauritania and Niger to mitigate the effects of a severe drought in the arid Sahel region south of the Sahara — well above the $8 million in premiums paid by those countries.

The other African nation to take out a policy, Kenya, paid $9 million but received no insurance payment.

Richard Wilcox, the ARC’s director general, said that its success so far had encouraged 12 countries to sign up for policies for the second year.

African states, he said, have also approached ARC to develop insurance against epidemics after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 8,800 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — severely damaging their economies.

“The scale of the Ebola crisis in those three countries was a wake-up call to everybody,” Wilcox said, and his agency was working with virologists and other experts to design a system of coverage.

“Technically, this is much harder than the weather risk because with weather we have 30 years of reliable data. Disease outbreaks are much rarer.”

The World Bank estimates the three countries hardest-hit by Ebola will lose $1.6 billion in economic output this year.

Mining companies have suspended expansion plans, agricultural production has slumped and tourists have avoided the region.

ARC was capitalised using $200 million from the British and German development institutions.

That money will be paid back without interest in 20 years time, allowing the ARC to offer below-market premiums to African states.

By pooling disaster risks across east and west Africa, which have uncorrelated rainfall patterns, the ARC is also able to undercut commercial insurers.

On top of drought coverage, the fund will offer cyclone and flood insurance next year.

By making use of reinsurance, ARC was only liable for the first $15 million in payments this year — meaning that it received $2 million more in premiums than it paid out.

On an average year, it would expect to do even better, Wilcox said.

*Source theafricareport

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Robert Mugabe assumes African Union helm with familiar rallying cry
February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

 The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been sworn in as chairman of the African Union at a ceremony in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been sworn in as chairman of the African Union at a ceremony in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images[/caption] Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old president, has assumed the chairmanship of the African Union (AU) with a call for members to improve infrastructure and tackle climate change, conflict and Ebola, and with a familiar rallying cry that Africa’s wealth belongs to Africa and not “imperialists and colonialists”. The veteran leader, who was elected head of the union on Friday, replaces President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, of Mauritania. “By electing me to preside over this august body, with full knowledge of the onerous responsibility that lies ahead, I humbly accept your collective decision,” Mugabe told the AU summit in Addis Ababa. “I do so, confident that I can always count on your full support and cooperation in the execution of the important mandate you have given me.” The president, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, said the focus of his tenure would be on “issues of infrastructure, value addition and benefication, agriculture and climate change in the context of Africa’s development”. The continent’s underdeveloped roads, railways and air and sea networks, he said, were hampering efforts to improve trade, investment and tourism. “We need to continue – and perhaps redouble – our current collective efforts in this sector. “Given that the continent is rich in mineral resources – and resources should be seen to contribute more meaningfully to Africa’s development – they are our wealth and we must guard against their being exploited for the benefit of others.”


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AU asks for collective action against human trafficking, Boko Haram
January 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Tinishu Solomon* [caption id="attachment_15876" align="alignleft" width="480"]Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Photo©Reuters Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Photo©Reuters[/caption] Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, on Monday urged African countries to make collective effort in combating human trafficking and the threat posed by Boko Haram in West Africa. Addressing the 26th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU, which is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of AU member States, Zuma said she was appalled by Boko Haram. “I am deeply horrified by the tragedy Boko Haram continues to inflict on our people,” she said, telling members of the Executive Council “we should all declare this state of affairs as unacceptable.” The Islamist insurgency group, which was first a localised criminal gang, is now posing threats to West and Central Africa, killing 2,000 people in one village and infamously abducting more than 200 girls in northern Nigeria. Dlamini-Zuma acknowledged individual efforts made by Chad in its readiness to assist Cameroon in the fight against Boko Haram. However, “this is not just a threat to some countries. It is a threat to the whole continent. It is a global threat that must be met globally, but with Africa in the lead,” she told the foreign ministers. In her speech that set the tone for this week’s meetings that will culminate in the assembly of heads of states and governments of the AU in Addia Abba, Zuma mentioned pockets of success in the continent, “but we need to do much more”. “The youth have said to us that one of their biggest handicaps is access to start-up capital, and internet services across,” she said. “We must do more and better for African youth.” The Council is currently discussing on various measures Africa needs to take, based on AU’s area of recommendations, which includes investments in education, science and technology, and more. “These measures, aimed at giving our young people a stake in their countries and continent, are the surest way of tackling the problem of African youth migration and trafficking and them falling prey to extremism,” she said. The AU also said it is currently taking the initiative to lead efforts to avert challenges the continent has faced, including extremism. Zuma said these efforts need collective endeavour. The ministers are presently discussing conflict management, but are expected to touch upon issues such as the Ebola crisis, alternative sources of financing, AU peace keeping and youth employment among others. The outcomes of their discussion will be presented for adoption during the 24th Ordinary Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, which will take place on January 30 to 31 at the same venue. * Source theafricareport]]>

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Pope Francis to visit Uganda this year
January 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

VATICAN-Ghanaian-Bishops-Invite-Pope-Francis-to-AfricaThe 2015 trips, still in their planning stages and not confirmed, would come on top of his planned three-city visit to the United States in September.

Francis said he planned to canonize the 17th-century missionary Junipero Serra, who established nine missions in California, during the Washington leg of the U.S. trip, likely at the National Shrine.
During the U.S trip, Francis is expected to visit the White House and address Congress, then speak at the United Nations in New York, and participate in a massive Catholic rally for families in Philadelphia.
But he essentially ruled out travelling to El Salvador to beatify slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, saying the ceremony would be celebrated by a Vatican official, as is the norm for beatifications.
Francis, who disclosed his travel plans during an in-flight news conference on the way home from the Philippines, said the proposed African trips would likely take place at the end of 2015 to avoid the rainy seasons. No dates were given for Ecuador, Bolivia or Paraguay, but the visits are likely in July, Vatican officials said. Francis also confirmed he hoped to visit Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in 2016 — and Peru at some point.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, stressed that the travel plans were “provisional and that nothing has been decided.”
Francis said he would have loved to have entered the U.S. via the Mexican border, saying it would have been a “beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.”
“But you know that going to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna (of Guadalupe) would be a drama. A war could break out!” he said, laughing. He said a Mexico visit would come in the future.
Speaking as his plane passed through Chinese airspace, Francis again expressed his openness to going to China, and denied recent speculation that he had turned down a requested audience with the Dalai Lama out of fears of angering Beijing.
Francis said the audience was rejected as a matter of Vatican protocol. “The reason was not a refusal of the person or fear of China,” he said.
China severed relations with the Holy See in 1951 after the communists took over. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and now Francis have sought to
mend ties.
*Source AP/Newvision

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E.Guinea 'proud despite criticism from our enemies' – president
January 18, 2015 | 0 Comments
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (C) addresses the crowds ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations group A football match between Equatorial Guinea and Congo at Bata Stadium in Bata on January 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (C) addresses the crowds ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations group A football match between Equatorial Guinea and Congo at Bata Stadium in Bata on January 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Bata (Equatorial Guinea) (AFP) – Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema said on Saturday his country was “proud” to host the Africa Cup of Nations “despite criticism from our enemies”.

Obiang was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 30th Cup of Nations in Bata before the first game, between Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville.

“Equatorial Guinea warmly welcomes the sporting youth of Africa and modestly offers its contribution and its hospitality,” he said.

“Our country is proud to host the 30th Africa Cup of Nations, less than two months after being named as hosts, despite criticism from our enemies.”

Obiang’s speech was loudly applauded by the home fans who filled the Estadio de Bata, where the Nzalang Nacional were held to a 1-1 draw by Congo in the Group A game.

The home fans then gave a rousing rendition of the country’s national anthem prior to the match, which was attended by the presidents of Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Togo, Mali and the Central African Republic.

Equatorial Guinea were only named as hosts in November after original hosts Morocco withdrew due to fears over the spread of Ebola, as the virus ravages parts of West Africa.

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo speaks at the opening ceremony of the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) soccer tournament in Bata Stadium, in Bata January 17, 2015. The African Nations Cup is being hosted by Equatorial Guinea from January 17 to February 8. Equatorial Guinea will play against Congo in the opening match. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER POLITICS)

Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo speaks at the opening ceremony of the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) soccer tournament in Bata Stadium, in Bata January 17, 2015. The African Nations Cup is being hosted by Equatorial Guinea from January 17 to February 8. Equatorial Guinea will play against Congo in the opening match. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EQUATORIAL GUINEA – Tags: SPORT SOCCER POLITICS)

The build-up to the competition has been overshadowed as much by concerns about facilities for teams and visitors as for fears of Ebola.

Obiang has been president since 1979, holding an iron grip over the tiny central African state. He won more than 95 percent of the vote when he was reelected in 2009.

*Source Yahoo/AFP

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“Nigerians shall trust President Goodluck for second term to continue & stabilize transformational agenda".”
January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Jonathan with PDP USA Chair Dr Harold Molokwu, PDP USA Intelligence Committee member Rev Uba Light, and Indiana PDP Chair Dr Sam Ogonuwe President Jonathan with PDP USA Chair Dr Harold Molokwu, PDP USA Intelligence Committee member Rev Uba Light, and Indiana PDP Chair Dr Sam Ogonuwe[/caption] The reluctant President Goodluck Jonathan was when he replaced late President Yar’Adua is today in the political fight of his life as he seeks a second term of office on the platform of the ruling PDP. In the face of a rejuvenated and seemingly united APC opposition and the security challenges posed by Boko Haram, the ruling party is having a hard time making a case for the re-election of President Jonathan. It is unfair to judge President Jonathan solely from the fight against Boko Haram says Dr. Harold Molokwu who heads the PDP in the USA. While Nigeria may be facing security challenges, President Godluck Jonathan has done much with his development agenda and Nigerians will trust him with a second term to stabilize the progress made. Molokwu who has been mobilizing Nigerians in the USA and mandating them to call their family members at home to support Jonathan’s re-election bid believes that Nigerians understand the differences between what Jonathan has done to help transform the country and the blurred and flawed agenda that the opposition APC General Buhari is offering Nigerians. “The APC candidate is lacking in democratic credentials and the dubious character of his acolytes can mean a return to a past that Nigerians have resolutely turned their back on.” Pressed on the lackluster response of the Jonathan administration in the fight against Boko Haram, Molokwu said while the sect has taken lives and slowed the services; the PDP government has done what it could in difficult circumstances to keep the country stable. Accusing the opposition APC of using a national crisis for political purposes, Dr Molokwu said with the support of well intentioned Nigerians, President Jonathan will lead the country to victory in the fight against Boko Haram. What are your impressions after the nomination of President Jonathan to seek reelection on the platform of the ruling party? For an administration that came into office with enormous challenges, lucid observers will be amazed at the number of tangible achievements recorded. Everyone is aware of the instability caused by unprecedented internal security challenges which have gulped enormous resources and impeded physical delivery of projects in some areas like economic management, non oil exports, rail aviation power, agricultures, housing security and political reforms amongst others have seen growing progress. The democratic dividends that progressive movements, military personnel, women and all are enjoying must be sustained .These and many others are the reasons our great party the PDP asked for our leader President Goodluck Jonathan to consider running for a second term so as to cement this progressive transformational agenda. How prepared is the PDP for the elections considering the opposition from the opposing APC and the challenges that the country is facing today? PDP –USA is satisfied with the Party leadership of the present Chairman Dr Adamu Mu’azu and the National Secretary Prof Adewale Oladipo. We have seen a growth in party loyalty and loyalty helps as members work for the collective interest. The Chairman maintained in public statements that candidates will emerge through the party machinery and not imposed. And it makes a lot of sense to know that we like to go wherever it is possible and try to ensure that popular candidates emerge to reflect the views and opinions of the members of the party and not two or three persons staying in an air-conditioned room to impose candidates or change results after primaries, we don’t think such can happen now, we are now a changed party in fact, you can call it a ‘transformational great party.’ We are happy that this has taken place because it has restored the confidence of members and our party is gaining more strength than ever before right now as you will experience in the forth coming general elections. We are going to wax stronger than we have ever done because of this new hope, there is nothing as good as hope because if you don’t have hope you will act in a desperate manner, any desperate person tends to make too many errors. Our party, I can confidently tell you is now on the right direction more than ever before, I must be honest with you that we commend Mr. President and all the key stakeholders. With respect to the opposition party APC, I personally congratulate their singular purpose to lead a country that is moving forward, without any serious program known to anyone, and with a former military dictator, who never believed in any democratic process. At this junction, our dear country does not need command tones rather we needs dialogue which comes with democratic process. Well, I am happy that we have a party like APC, and the reason I am one of those who feels very happy about this is that to have only one party will lead to complacency, it is good there is healthy competition, I wish APC will be stronger than it is now, it does not weaken PDP, it can only make us to be stronger and to work harder. Many are those who think that the current PDP Government has not done enough to alleviate the plight of Nigerians, what are some of the arguments or achievements that make the case for a second term for President Goodluck Jonathan? [caption id="attachment_15398" align="alignright" width="384"]PDP USA Chair Dr Harold Molokwu PDP USA Chair Dr Harold Molokwu[/caption] This PDP Government led by President Jonathan is determined to pursue and actualize his administration’s transformation agenda in spite of the tendency of the opposition to feed the public with wrong information. I’ am asking those entrusted with the responsibility of managing information for government to rise to the challenge of dispelling misinformation to the public, That is lacking because the principal is bent on delivering and his handlers must stand up to let the world know the wonderful job done by Mr. President with the impact ranging from the credit rating, to financial markets, roads, environment, creative industry and a lot more. I can tell you that President Jonathan’s commitment to transforming this country remains unshaken despite the growing tendency of the opposition to misinform the public. It is our responsibility to stem this unwholesome trend. We need sustained efforts to debunk the misinformation and campaigns of calumny against the PDP led government. The Administration has lived up to the promise made since its inauguration, and our party must aggressively make Nigerians see the progress Nigeria has made under President Jonathan. Looking at the security situation in the country with rampant atrocities from Boko Haram and the general economic situation in the country, has the Jonathan Administration not fallen short? We observed that multiple statements from a person of Military dictator General Ibrahim Buhari’s age and status could have helped douse the tension in the land; the APC standard-bearer instead used incendiary remarks which emboldened insurgents, apparently in keeping with the agenda of his party to achieve political control through violence, Nigerians are not fools. We compared the attitude of APC leaders on insurgency to “the metaphor of a young man sent on a criminal mission by the father, whose boldness knows no bounds.” We Nigerians have not forgotten the spontaneous violence and mayhem on innocent citizens following inciting statements by Military dictator Buhari and other APC leaders then in the defunct CPC, upon losing the 2011 presidential election. “The APC leaders have, so far, left no Nigerian in doubt of their party’s violent disposition as Military dictator General Buhari, in May 2012, remorselessly stated that ‘the monkey and baboon will be soaked in blood’ should he lose the 2015 presidential election. Attesting that penchant for violence flows in the portal vein of the rank and file of the APC, Military dictator Buhari’s right hand man and former FCT Minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, in his capacity then as APC deputy national secretary, in January 2014, told the whole world that ‘the next election is likely to be violent and many people are likely going to die. And the only alternative left to get power is to take it by force; this is the reality on ground.’ I pray that our good God will forgive them and protect Nigeria from non- Nigerian mental manners. Nigerians have also read and heard other ricocheting calls for violence and threats of parallel government from other leaders of this same party. These are not just mere slips, but incontrovertible snips from the agenda of the APC to sustain insurgency and set the stage for carnage after they lose in the 2015 general election. We at PDP will vote and wait for the authority empowered to call election results to declare the winner and in democracy, our party will stand to protect that. We find it funny that the APC, which has presented its standard-bearer, Military dictator General Buhari, as a macho mascot that will bring insurgency to an end in matter of weeks using sheer force, is turning round to play the card of dialogue just to disparage the president. Ironically, for over a year of Military dictator General Buhari’s draconian rule in the 1980s and even now in pretended love for democracy, the General is never known to be amenable to any form of dialogue. So, where will this hyped Midas touch on dialogue come from? Well-meaning Nigerians appreciate the way and manner the Jonathan-led administration is confronting insurgency using dialogue and the military option. Twice, the Council of State has appraised and endorsed this approach despite spirited efforts by the opposition to distract the president and demoralize our security forces. But Boko Haram is really dominating the news on Nigeria to the point it appears nothing else is working in the country, what is working? The insurgency by the group that has become known as Boko Haram seemed especially grim back then, a relentless series of attacks leaving scores of civilians dead, mostly unnoticed by the rest of the world. Two years on, it has taken the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from their school in the remote north-east to draw global attention to the violence that has for years shaken parts of Nigeria. Outrage has led many to question what the west or anyone can do to help, an understandable response. This is not Nigerian culture, not Islamic culture of love. I personally went to school in Gamboru, Ngala, the Kanuri’s are the most welcoming people in Nigeria, this wicked sect took advantage of their welcoming President knowing he will not take action that will lead this wicked sect to destroy the girls’ lives. The President knows what is doing and things will be coming well soon. But this crisis provides an opportunity to look more deeply at the causes of the insurgency. The world must keep in mind that it is a problem to a large degree born and bred both in and outside Nigeria. Ultimately, it must be resolved by Nigerians and other neighboring countries that Boko Haram is made up of. It is therefore wrong for people to rate the present administration based on the rising insurgency in the country. Some fake Nigerians want us to believe that the only testimony of performance of this administration is insecurity, which was hatched by their friends to enable them win an election. Real Nigerians are very smart and President Jonathan who is God fearing will emerge with stronger support from Nigerians to lead the country in an all out fight against Boko Haram and we hope that the opposition party must accept the will of the real Nigerians without any iota of support of Boko Haram. This government is totally working every day to end insurgency. Nobody planned for insurgency. And yet the insurgency is a serious problem on its own to contain and President Jonathan will lead Nigeria to victory against Boko Haram. So, Mr Journalist, this government’s capability and performance cannot solely be represented on the outcome of the insurgency. There is a transformational agenda on agriculture, education, infrastructure, health, transportation, social development and many other component parts are working. God is with our noble country, and this president understands that. If the PDP maintains the Presidency, what should Nigerians expect from the Jonathan Administration and why should Nigerians believe that he will do better or that promises made by your party will be kept? Continuity and more transformational agendas and cementing all the good ideas this administration initiated for future presidents to continue towards a greater Nigeria, a better Nigeria that people of the world will start immigrating to Nigeria to live, do not forget 1960’s and 1980’s .The PDP government is taking our country towards a private driven economy like American, France, German, Japan, let me assure you Nigeria is moving to greatness and the sacrifices our brothers and sisters are marking is proving better and a stable Nigeria for our children will be the result. The APC party wants to come and reopen NITEL, Refineries, and PHCN and to put their masters to run it fraudulently. Those days are gone, those are avenues through which APC leaderships want to defraud and embezzle government funds. Successful government in EU runs private driven economy which creates jobs. [caption id="attachment_15399" align="alignleft" width="300"]Chair of PDP Governors Forum Godswill Akpabio with Harold Molokwu in Washington DC Chair of PDP Governors Forum Godswill Akpabio with Harold Molokwu in Washington DC[/caption] The PDP lead government is not perfect, the members are human, no one is perfect, some people expect the super humans, the perfect men in APC to take over and do the magic. It’s a shame they play their own politics with lots of propaganda, shame on those thieves. The APC party is fraud, and they are selling a dummy to gullible Nigerians. But the period of arrogance in Nigeria politics is much over, our leaders must be Nigerians first, with the understanding on how to create jobs. The PDP led government is presently encouraging and empowering the youths to be self-independent, self-sufficient, creating jobs, and more not seen only by the APC. I guess when the General comes in too, he will cancel these initiatives and send everyone to prison because vendetta is in his blood. He thinks he is the only righteous man in Nigeria, but he is full of deceit, hate and lies which will soon be out. Nigerians shall trust President Goodluck for second term to stabilize all progress made, please Nigerians do, not change a known good drive, just for the sake of Boko Haram, which aim is to force President Goodluck out of office and APC is trying all possible means to take advantage of that, by making sure Boko Haram is the news Monday to Sunday. I have spoken to some close APC leadership that agree with this view and simply for the sake of winning election. How involved is the PDP USA involved in developments back in Nigeria and are there any events in sight to share the platform of the Jonathan/Sambo ticket to Nigerians? PDP- USA is involved in advising and contributing in the development of our party and Government at all levels through the party channel and we strongly encourage our leaders to activate, maintain and intensify engagement with Nigerian diaspora members in systematic, incremental and interactive basis. In president Goodluck’s administration, diasporans are an integral part of economic and power sectors. After this election more engagement with Diasporas will intensify. The diaspora was represented well in the conference of all Nigeria that just concluded few months back. PDP-USA is very actively involved in reelection of Mr. President, and soon the re-election team will be in the Washington DC area for more sensitization meetings and to explain the merits of the Jonathan administration as it marches to victory for a second term. What is the membership of the PDP in the USA and what other activities are your members involved besides the politics to help move Nigeria forward? The presence of our great party in America has not only heralded several improvements amongst Nigerians living in USA but has also moved Nigerians in an upward progression in terms of discipline, co-operation and the overall push towards rebranding and repositioning Nigeria’s image in America. Prior to the PDP-USA presence many Nigerians had reported some years back that the mission, the vision, and the diplomatic actions of the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta and Washington DC lacked the required diplomatic tenets. By then, going to the embassy as some claimed used to be frightening for many Nigerians, in addition to the fact that the long wait and rude behavior of some of the officials showed that it was nothing but a diplomatic mess happening at the Nigeria embassies. As at the time, it was evidently clear that the relationship between Nigerians and the Nigerian embassy was that of acrimony and zero tolerance from Nigerians. But today, the case is different; the staff attitude towards Nigerians has improved as they have become approachable to serve Nigerians, thanks to our several branch chairmen activities that promoted engagement of the embassy. PDP-USA leadership emphasized the need to build a network among all Nigerians to serve as a necessary partnership link to move Nigerians in American and at home forward and working together for the promotion of Nigeria, marketing its image, business, investment and tourism potentials and a lot more. Each time the PDP has won elections since 1999, the opposition has cried foul, is the electoral body and process credible to guarantee a free and fair election and if for some reason the PDP does not win, will the party accept the results? Yes the electoral body is under a well capable chairman that all Nigeria’s respect and trust with proven records of very free and fair election, rest assured that my party will accept any election results, that why our party is working very hard. The PDP lead government occupies the moral high ground as far as commitment to issues-based campaign is concerned. Our word remains our bond. Since we made that commitment, we have focused on issues. We have also taken up the responsibility of drawing the attention of Nigerians to the obvious cases of incompetence and failings of the APC and those who aspire to the leadership of our nation through that platform. As our party leader President Goodluck stated that “You must always remember that we are a party of democrats, not a party of hooligans. We are a party of patriots, not a party of renegades. We are a party of statesmen and women. We are a party of builders not destroyers. We are a party of committed servants of the people. You must let our people see once again, that we are in this to serve and to move Nigeria forward, not to move Nigeria backwards. No election should be a do or die contest.” The president added: ‘‘we have everything that it takes to run an excellent and victorious campaign. Our great party has demonstrated to Nigerians that it is the party with the broadest appeal. We are the strongest and the biggest. We have engaged the people of Nigeria positively with people-friendly policies, which have moved Nigeria forward. In the last four years, despite the security challenges we have had to contend with, Nigeria, under our watch, has made significant strides in every aspect. Our economy today is the largest and the strongest in the African continent, and a preferred destination for foreign direct investment.” The PDP USA indicated that “Nigerians have not forgotten the spontaneous violence and mayhem on innocent citizens following inciting statements by General Ibrahim Buhari and other APC leaders, upon losing the 2011 presidential election. The APC leaders have, so far, left no Nigerian in doubt of their party’s violent disposition as General Buhari, in May 2012, remorselessly stated that ‘the monkey and baboon will be soaked in blood’ should he lose the 2015 presidential election. Attesting that penchant for violence flows in the portal vein of the rank and file of the APC, leaders and former APC Governor aspirant in Kaduna state, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, in his capacity then as APC deputy national secretary, in January 2014, told the whole world that ‘the next election is likely to be violent and many people are likely going to die. And the only alternative left to get power is to take it by force; this is the reality on ground.’ Dr. Harold Molokwu, any message from you to those who fear for Nigeria’s future and predict its collapse each time it is faced with big crisis.? Talk about Nigeria’s breakup is nonsense, it is ridiculous speculation that Nigeria would break up this year. I can’t find any prediction by anyone in the world that Nigeria will break up in 2015 or beyond. It is a ridiculous assertion if any. Here we are in stable Nigeria in 2015; do you see any signs of this country breaking up? I don’t. I see Nigeria in a challenging time, nonetheless gradually moving forward to a very bright future. Most of the developed countries went through the challenges we are going today. PDP USA invites Nigerians to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan for continuity and also congratulates Senate President Dr. David mark on the stability of the upper chamber and wishing him and senate leaderships of our great party good luck in coming election. Nigerians should vote PDP to cement its democratic foundation.]]>

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The South Sudan peace process: prospects for 2015
January 11, 2015 | 0 Comments
South Sudan Parties Sign Implementation Matrix of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (Photo: IGAD).

South Sudan Parties Sign Implementation Matrix of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (Photo: IGAD).

Predicting conflict in South Sudan is easy. Those who warn that the coming of the dry season means further bloodshed are not being especially astute; they are stating the obvious. What to do about this likelihood is a much harder question.

Almost as obvious is to observe that the peace process is weakened by continued fighting. Is the sequence of a comprehensive cessation of hostilities first, then productive peace talks second, necessary? Desirable, yes, but necessary?

Almost paradoxically, limited, ongoing violence has not so far been the main obstacle to progress in the peace process: more of a problem is the inability of the parties to demonstrate goodwill and genuinely commit to finding a solution. Since the Bahir Dar talks in September 2014, violence certainly hasn’t prevented both warring parties from continuing to talk – in the earlier months of 2014 this was not always the case.

Today, more consequential to the environment for talks are the rhetoric and antagonism of preparations for escalating the conflict, rather than any individual episode of conflict itself; the increasing authoritarianism and paranoia of the government in Juba; provocative declarations that national elections will be held on schedule (all too similar to the strategy of the NCP in Sudan, unfortunately); and on both sides, prevaricating leaders who care more about their own interests than that of their so-called constituencies.

Which returns South Sudan to external intervention: the formal, IGAD peace process. For all its flaws, without the peace process, the war would be completely unconstrained.

Neighbouring states would have privileged their narrow, bilateral interests even more than they have done already. A full-fledged proxy war between Sudan and Uganda could have developed months ago – there is still a real risk that it might.

These are not achievements of which IGAD can be too proud. The peace process is at a particularly perilous juncture. The last round of talks in December 2014 went nowhere.

The consultations of the government in Juba, and the SPLM/A (In Opposition) in Pagak, have widened rather than narrowed the gaps between the parties. The participation of political parties other than the SPLM remains contested, with other political parties having had no effective presence since Bahir Dar.

The Tanzania hosted intra-SPLM dialogue in Arusha has opened a parallel process that further detracts from the IGAD effort. Arusha, only in its second round of talks, is still in a honeymoon phase, compared to the relative bitterness now felt in almost a year of talks in Ethiopia.

(An aside: Finland and Switzerland, the donors supporting the Arusha process, should have been far more cognizant of the risks of encouraging forum shopping; this failure of understanding, particularly in the case of Switzerland, so long-engaged in South Sudan, is inexcusable.)

Having effectively exhausted the classical mode of negotiations, the mediation has turned again to that unwieldy but potentially transformative option: a summit of IGAD heads of state and government, to be held sometime later this month in Addis Ababa. This will be the seventh IGAD summit on South Sudan since December 2013, and it is unclear whether the lesson of past meetings – particularly that of the August summit – have been fully learned.

This is probably IGAD’s last chance – another summit failure and the organization’s credibility and political capital will be almost spent. The need to demonstrate ‘success’ may be counterproductive: IGAD may be tempted to spin any summit outcome positively, or threaten the parties to sign up to an agreement they are not ready to believe in.

In the limited time IGAD has left to achieve meaningful progress in resolving the South Sudan crisis, it is vital that the mistakes made in the past year are not repeated. Avoiding these errors will not be sufficient for resolution – that depends on the South Sudanese (and of course, there are plenty of other pitfalls); it will, however, make the prospect of success more likely.

Here are four tasks the IGAD mediators should urgently undertake:

  • Adequately prepare for the next summit.

Most events involving heads of state are so tightly choreographed and well planned they might as well be ballet performances. Recent IGAD summits have suffered from a total lack of choreography.

There needs to be a clear game plan for the summit, and strategies in place to ensure traps and detours do not ensnare the meeting. Summit meetings are not wellsuited to details and can’t get bogged down on minutiae.

It is critical that heads of state are adequately prepped and briefed before they arrive in Addis. Otherwise the summit will, at best, make little tangible progress, and at worst, go backward

  • Make real efforts to reach out to more South Sudanese.

At this stage, the occasional press release or press conference is not enough. The mediation needs to marshal the full force of South Sudanese society towards an irreversible peace.

Most South Sudanese – even those nominally aligned to one side or the other – have little idea what their representatives are doing in their name. The parties to the talks have proven to be intransigent and stubborn; most people don’t know enough about these machinations to express their own outrage and demand change.

Individual church leaders have demonstrated a willingness to stand up and state the uncompromised truth: IGAD should more actively compliment these efforts, and itself campaign for peace in towns and communities across South Sudan. Building a constituency for peace and pressure from below may help change the behavior of those too arrogant to otherwise work for peace

  • Resolve the representation of political parties, and challenge civil society delegates to be useful.

No peace process outcome will be fully legitimate if it excludes the diversity of political actors in South Sudan. Feeble though most political parties are, the exclusion of the official opposition is an open sore in the process. An exclusive, SPLM stitch-up serves the narrowest of elites, and must be avoided.

Much has been said about civil society’s participation in the IGAD peace process. Regrettably, the most useful contributions from civil society have come from those outside of the peace process: the work of David Deng and the South Sudan Law Society, the Development Policy Forum and the Sudd Institute.

Unfortunately, the cogent work of such individuals and institutions has not been espoused by their civil society colleagues present in Addis Ababa. Civil society needs to raise its game.

The mediation needs to be blunt with civil society delegates: merely showing up to eat lunch and silently attend meetings is not good enough. Civil society delegates can still advance ideas, offer innovation and identify political hypocrisy; but they cannot do so if they are mostly silent.

  • Abandon the CPA model as the template for the mediation.

The CPA should not be understood outside of its context of time and place. It still offers useful elements for South Sudan in 2015.

But, far too often, the IGAD mediation, and most prominently the CPA’s chief mediator and his staff, have let the CPA model imprison their thinking and their tactics.

I do not wish to critique the CPA at length here: it is only necessary to point out that in so many ways, and not necessarily as the fault of the mediation of the time, the CPA failed or was inadequate. Consequently, it should be a cautionary guide for the current process, but not the only guide.

Similar advice would be well heeded by the parties, who themselves all too often refer to what happened in Machakos or Naivasha. Considering alternatives, being creative, and acknowledging past failure – rather than romanticizing the history of the CPA mediation effort in South Sudan as one of unmitigated success – would be far more illuminating.

As I wrote earlier, none of these actions are guarantees for success. But the mediators must understand where they have gone wrong, and quickly take corrective action.

Ultimately, should this incarnation of the IGAD mediation fail, the primary blame and responsibility must fall on those negotiating, no matter the deficiencies of the mediators. But the mediators can improve the odds.

Not every mediation can succeed. Witness the innumerable attempts (and innumerable mediators) who have tried to resolve the conflict in Palestine; more recently, the failure of both Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi to resolve the Syrian crisis.

There is no shame in accepting that this process, too, has its limitations. To fail to do so would be to a further disservice to the people of South Sudan.

*Source africanarguments The author is a diplomat based in Addis Ababa.
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Nigeria: Long-awaited victory as Shell finally pays out £55 million over Niger Delta oil spills
January 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

Activists in Port Harcourt, Nigeria protest to demand that Shell pay reparations and clean up its oil spills.  © Amnesty International Activists in Port Harcourt, Nigeria protest to demand that Shell pay reparations and clean up its oil spills.
© Amnesty International[/caption] Oil giant Shell’s long-overdue compensation pay out to a community devastated by oil spills in the Niger Delta is an important victory for the victims of corporate negligence, said Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development today. Six years after two oil spills destroyed thousands of livelihoods in the Bodo area, legal action in the UK has driven Shell to make an out-of-court settlement of £55m to compensate the affected community. The £55m will be split between £35m for 15,600 individuals and £20m for the community. “While the pay-out is a long awaited victory for the thousands of people who lost their livelihoods in Bodo, it shouldn’t have taken six years to get anything close to fair compensation,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. “In effect, Shell knew that Bodo was an accident waiting to happen. It took no effective action to stop it, then it made false claims about the amount of oil that had been spilt. If Shell had not been forced to disclose this information as part of the UK legal action, the people of Bodo would have been completely swindled.” The wait has taken its toll on Bodo residents, many of whom had their fishing and farming livelihoods destroyed in the spill.  Throughout this time they have had to live with the ongoing pollution and, without compensation, many have faced grinding poverty. “The compensation is a step towards justice for the people of Bodo, but justice will be fully achieved when Shell properly cleans up the heavily polluted creeks and swamps so that those who rely on fishing and farming for their income can begin to rebuild their livelihoods,” said Styvn Obodoekwe, Director of Programmes of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD). “I am very happy that Shell has finally taken responsibility for its action,” says Pastor Christian Kpandei, a Bodo fish farmer, whose fish farm was destroyed by the oil spill. “I’d like to thank the lawyers for compelling Shell to make this unprecedented move.” Shell has always accepted that the two 2008 Bodo oil spills were the fault of failures on the company’s pipeline at Bodo, but publically – and repeatedly – claimed that the volume of oil spilt was approximately 4,000 barrels for both spills combined, even though the spills went on for weeks.   In 2012 Amnesty International, using an independent assessment of video footage of the first oil spill, calculated that the total amount of oil split exceeded 100,000 barrels for this spill alone. During the legal action in the UK, Shell had to finally admit that its figures were wrong and it had underestimated the amount of oil spilt in both of the Bodo cases. However Shell has still not confirmed how much oil was actually spilt. During the legal process Shell was also forced to reveal that it had been aware, at least since 2002, that most of its oil pipelines were old, and some sections contained “major risk and hazard”. In a 2002 document Shell stated that outright replacement of pipelines was necessary because of extensive corrosion. As far as Amnesty International and CEHRD are aware Shell took no action despite having this information years before the Bodo leaks. An internal Shell email from 2009 revealed that Shell knew it was exposed over spills in Ogoniland – where Bodo is situated; the email stated “the pipelines in Ogoniland have not been maintained properly or integrity assessed for over 15 years”. [caption id="attachment_15263" align="alignright" width="480"]Photo©Reuters Photo©Reuters[/caption] Thousands more people remain at risk of future oil spills because of Shell’s failure to fix its ageing and dilapidated pipelines. “Oil pollution in the Niger Delta is one of the biggest corporate scandals of our time. Shell needs to provide proper compensation, clear up the mess and make the pipelines safer, rather than fighting a slick PR campaign to dodge all responsibility,” said Audrey Gaughran. Background Two oil spills occurred at Bodo in the Niger Delta in 2008, the first in August and the second in December.  Amnesty International and CEHRD have worked on the Bodo spills case since 2008, supporting the community to secure compensation and clean up. In 2011, the people of Bodo, represented by UK law firm Leigh Day, began court proceedings in the UK against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. Hundreds of oil spills from Shell’s pipelines occur every year. Shell repeatedly blames illegal activity in the Niger Delta for most oil pollution but its claims have been discredited in research by Amnesty International and CEHRD. *Source amnesty International]]>

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