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Nigeria: Buhari seeks support to fight transnational crime
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

President Buhari

President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria and other West African nations require global cooperation and support to effectively deal with transnational crimes.

He said this ahead of the Munich Security Conference which will mark the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS which is scheduled to hold today the 29th of June at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said: “With the advent of globalization and new technologies bringing nations and peoples closer, and creating new opportunities of interaction and trade, come significant issues of security. We can see through the increasing number of evil actors, especially perpetrators of organized crime who profit from the illicit flows of assets out of the African continent.

“In recent years, the challenges posed by illicit outflows of our resources have increased, with attendant sophistication due to the fast pace of technological advancement. Illicit flows have further fuelled terrorism and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

“To effectively combat illicit flows, it is necessary that we collectively bring adequate resources and reinforce our capabilities to address transnational organized crime, as no government can do it alone.”

President Buhari, who is the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, said further: “Our sub-region is not only a victim of Illicit financial flows but also of human trafficking, arms and drugs trade with dire consequences on the wellbeing of our people and on national security.

“It is common knowledge that illicit flows compound the problems of corruption and impede efforts towards sustainable economic growth. This is why I will continue to take decisive action to fight corruption and confront insecurity, especially in the border areas. In addition, relevant agencies have also been mandated to work towards strengthening regional and international partnership to address these threats.

“I am aware that one of the key facilitators of transnational organized crime including illicit flows is the porous nature of our borders.  This is a major challenge to our region. In this context, we will continue to count on the support of our international partners for new technologies to effectively police our borders.

“Here in the West African sub-region, we have taken important steps to address some of our security concerns through improved political governance as contained in the relevant regional mechanisms of ECOWAS, which I currently have the privilege of chairing. I, therefore, welcome the Munich Security Conference for launching its Transnational Security Report in Abuja today.

“I am pleased that the launching of this report on the eve of the ECOWAS Summit, offers a unique opportunity to bring together decision-makers and experts to discuss new cooperation approaches to counter the challenges of illicit flows and other transnational crimes.

“I am confident that your deliberations will produce positive results which will guide us to strengthen our existing frameworks and strategies for durable solutions to our current cross-border security challenges. On this note, I wish you all very fruitful deliberations.”

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A Memo to Paul Biya, President of Cameroon on: The Urgent Need for Public Policy Mediation and Negotiations in the Ongoing Armed Conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Rev. Fr.  Wilfred Emeh*

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

How did we get here?

It has been nearly three years since the unprecedented outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow on the facets of life of our beloved nation. The UN has reported nearly 2,000 deaths, property has been destroyed, schools have been torched, and uncertainty looms as thousands of people continue to live in misery. The devastation on our economy and human resources are inestimable; businesses have been forced to close, and talented citizens continue to flee their homeland. Thousands of families have been displaced, and many others have become refugees in foreign lands.

How did we get here? The escalation of the ongoing conflict is consequent upon grave administrative failures that include mass arrests and brutal force and extrajudicial killings at a time when peaceful civilians merely sought to express their grievances against the ruling government. Over time, insurgent groups emerged, acquired arms, and targeted the military and security officers, in what has become a full-blown armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

In retrospect, crass failure to implement educational and judicial policies, that are foundational principles of our co-existence, was the main cause of the Anglophone uprising. This was a glaring neglect of pertinent policies on equal partnership, the preservation of cultural heritage and identity of each region as stipulated by the union-agreement between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions. Evidently, this failure of policy implementation was a symptom of more profound ailments within our political institution that favors corruption, marginalization and social injustice. The implementation of policies, especially those that are constitutionally founded, are essential in the democratic decision-making process of every nation.

Despite the current situation, it would be in our national interest if all parties resort to the public policy mediation process which is an inclusive, transparent process of negotiations among government agency officials and diverse stakeholders that often results in consensus agreements rooted in nuanced understandings of a conflict (Potziba, 2019). This memo largely seeks to identify the root causes of the current crisis and propose recommendations for a swift resolution of the ongoing armed conflict.

Where are we?

So far, the government’s approach and tactics have been futile; attempts to set up a bilingualism commission failed no less than the authoritative leadership style. On the other hand, opposition groups have engaged in propaganda and destructive ideologies. Several factions have emerged with multiple pseudo-leaderships, void of any clear sense of direction. Civil rights activists are in jail while young people have been radicalized. The future is bleak as there seems to be no real leadership on either side of the aisle. And, while the government persists in cracking down on political activists and insurgents, the latter seem resolved to resist and fight back to the last ounce of their blood. It is rightly said, “as hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching.”

Consequently, our people are hurting. Worse still, both the government and the separatist forces seem to be on extreme ends of the political spectrum. Clearly without any strategies or plans for a resolution, an already precarious economy is worsening by the day, while armed bandits continue to terrorize and harass hard working civilians.

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

Brief theoretical framework

There is urgent need for public policy mediation, which should include revisiting the political roots of the problem in a spirit of dialogue, conferences and negotiation. “In several Western democracies, attempts have been made to find a way out of these problems by trying out new forms of conflict resolution based upon negotiation and participatory procedures such as policy dialogue, consensus conferences, participatory technology assessment, mediation, or facilitation” (Holzinger, 2001).

The benefits of policy mediation and negotiation are enormous; it brings together policy experts from international platforms who will forge the path to a lasting resolution. Usually policy mediation fosters deliberations among parties that represent every aspect of a situation, supported by expertise as needed, resulting in agreements that avoid unintended consequences (Podziba, 2019).

Another important benefit of policy mediation is face-to-face deliberations that promote civil discourse. This is quite different from the vitriolic attacks and incivility that we have also witnessed on social media platforms, spewed by both the government spokespersons and opposition groups.

Negotiation and policy mediation are bedfellows, encouraging the willingness of both parties to shift positions with a clear focus on a win-win outcome. During successful negotiation, emotions are separated from the factual basis of the problem, shifting the focus to the benefits without the pride of clinging to positions. Lines of communication are opened, paving the way toward rational analysis of arguments, discussion of concessions and pursuit of compromise to the benefit of everyone.

Understandably, the ruling government has an uphill task in initiating dialogue with diverse opposition groups, some of which have been tagged as terrorists. This must be dealt with initially as it is the outcome of the delegitimization of the premier civil rights consortium. A committed public relations bureau of the government with sound knowledge on the issues should identify the main rival groups and extend an invitation to them.

What must we do?

  • Amidst these tumultuous times, political leaders need to rise beyond personal feelings, hurt, and mistakes of the past and look at the bigger picture: the future of our children, peace, and stability are priceless. It is time to demonstrate true leadership by involving the grassroots in a process of dialogue that can bring real change in Cameroon. Richard Box (1998) explains that finding a way to equitably resolve differences is a key interpersonal skill, opening the door to more citizen-oriented governance. For elected leaders and public service practitioners, this means a flexible attitude toward change, shedding of protective feelings of personal turf, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue on issues facing the community (as cited in Denhardt et al., 2014).
  • The time for blame games is over. It is urgent for warring factions to come to the negotiating table in a spirit of sincere dialogue that allows deliberations on all options including federalism. The current efforts being made to host an All-Anglophone Conference (November 21-22) is commendable. These kinds of initiatives – notably dialogues led by civil society, whether secular or religious – should get strong support from governments and international organizations, including the U.S., the European Union, the African Union, and even the Vatican. The International Crisis Group has recommended the Catholic Church as potential mediator of the crisis.
  • There is need for a neutral arbiter in the policy mediation process. This is no longer an internal affair as often claimed by some overzealous political pundits. The constant refrain by Anthony Guiterez, Secretary General of the UN, that Africans should solve their own problems, is unrealistic, perhaps even bizarre. We would be repeating mistakes of the past to the detriment of human life and human dignity.
  • A decentralized form of government should be considered to better serve the needs of the people, which would devolve power and control to the local communities, limiting the concentration of management of the nation’s resources in the hands of a few high-positioned officials. By shifting control rights from the central bureaucrat (who otherwise acts like an unregulated monopolist) to a local government, decentralization typically tends to expand service deliveries as authority goes to those more responsive to user needs (Bardhan, 2002).

 

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

In conclusion, our nation must strive toward good governance. Most armed conflicts in Africa are caused by bad governance. All over the world, people naturally rise against regimes that deprive them of their rights and privileges due to institutional corruption. In retrospect, armed conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Liberia, just to mention a few, were all linked to bad governance. The United Nation Children’s Fund notes, “corruption and bad governance were among the causes of war. The majority of the people had no voice in the government and no opportunities in life and so they were easily provoked to violence” (as cited in Yiew et al., 2016). Good governance is key to mitigating armed conflict. Empirical studies show that countries that uphold democratic principles, where corruption is under control, where law and order is maintained, where the people are served accordingly, are less vulnerable to armed conflicts (Yiew et al., 2016).

References

Bardhan P. (2002). Decentralization of governance and development. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(4), 185–205. Retrieved from https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533002320951037

Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. Routledge.

Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, T. (2014). Public administration: An action orientation (7th ed.). Cengage Learning

Holzinger, K. (2001). Negotiations in public-policy making: Exogenous barriers to successful dispute resolution. Journal of Public Policy21(1), 71-96.

Konings, P., & Nyamnjoh, F. B. (1997). The anglophone problem in Cameroon. The Journal of Modern African Studies35(2), 207-229.

Podziba, S. L. (2019). Conflict, Negotiation, and Public Policy Mediation in the Trump Era. Negotiation Journal35(1), 177-181.

Staff, C (2018). Cameroon cardinal helping organize conference to tackle Anglophone crisis. Retrieved from https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/04/cameroon-cardinal-helping-organize-conference-to-tackle-anglophone-crisis/

Yiew, T. H., Habibullah, M. S., Law, S. H., & Azman-Saini, W. N. W. (2016). Does bad governance cause armed conflict? International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research14(6), 3741-3755.

*Rev. Wilfred Emeh is a doctoral student in Public Administration at the West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of concentration is governance and armed conflict in Africa

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Ghana Seeks Gambia’s Support to Host Africa Free Trade Area Secretariat
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Barrow with the delegation from Ghana

President Barrow with the delegation from Ghana

The Republic of Ghana is seeking the support of The Gambia in its bid to play host to the headquarters of the continental free trade zone in Accra.

Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has sent his Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan Kyerematen, as a special envoy to President Adama Barrow to deliver a special message in this regard.

52 of the 55 members of the African Union have already signed the Continental Free Trade Agreement, which is geared towards empowering the AU members to take advantage of a single market.  It will bring together 1.2billion people with a combined GDP of $3thrillion. The African leaders are optimistic that this is going to be a very powerful stimulus to attract investment into the continent.

President Barrow with the delegation from Ghana

President Barrow with the delegation from Ghana

“We are here to present a special message to President Adama Barrow requesting his kind support and that of the people of The Gambia towards Ghana’s bid to host the headquarters of this body,” Minister Kyerematen told the waiting press corps after emerging from a closed door meeting with the Gambian leader.

The African Union has asked member states that are interested in hosting the CfTA headquarters to submit their bids. Ghana is one of seven countries that has offered to host it.

President Barrow told the envoy that there could not have been a better time for such a monumental opportunity for the continent than now, when it has overcome most of its challenges in terms of peace and security. “All the leaders in Africa are speaking with one voice. It is about democracy, economic development and growth, reducing poverty… you can only deal with these matters if you are able to support each other,” he said.

The Ghanaian envoy said all major economies of the world have developed because they have come together in their regional blocs. “The market of Africa is where everyone wants to be. The whole world is targeting the African market, so we (within ourselves) have to take advantage of this market first. That’s what this AfCFT is about,” he added.

He said the greatest testimony from the continent in supporting this free trade agenda is the number of countries that have signed the agreement. Beside the 52 member signatories, 24 have also ratified it, meaning the people have supported it through their parliaments.

“In my humble opinion, there can be no better testimony than we all uniting behind this. Let’s remember that the free trade between African countries have been a dream for many years,” he maintained.

 

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CEx- Canadian Ambassador Praises Gambia’s Institutional building efforts
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay  

Canada Amb with Barrow

Canada Amb with Barrow

 The outgoing Canadian High Commissioner to the Gambia, Her Excellency, Lise Filiatrault, on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, paid a courtesy farewell on His Excellency, President Adama Barrow at State House.

A key agenda of her meeting with President Barrow was institutional building efforts of The Gambia which she described as “important for democracy”.

The diplomat said the relationship between Canada and The Gambia took a lot of strength in the past two years, when she was privileged to serve her country in The Gambia; and witnessed very important historic moments in the life of this country in its transition to democracy.

“Canada has been working alongside The Gambia to help with building and strengthening democratic institutions. It has been collaborating with the Ministry of Justice on the UN Peace Building Fund that Canada is a strong part of and the TRRC, especially in areas of gender based violence,” she told the State House media Corps after closed-door meeting.

With a relationship that is quite strong and diversified, President Adama Barrow assured that Canada and The Gambia will continue building the relations in a strong way. The two also discussed future collaborations and ongoing activities that will continue to be developed at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

Gender equality and climate change were also part of discussions as other areas of further collaboration. The Canadian diplomat said the world faces challenges that require partnerships and the two countries are better positioned to make a difference.

The enthusiasm of Gambians at the inauguration of President Barrow two years ago, left a lasting memory in her: “There was a natural movement of people welcoming us and at the stadium, the enthusiasm and the level of hope that was there was a memory that I will take with me,” Ambassador Filiatrualt said.

Ms. Filiatrault thinks it is important to go ahead in furtherance of that enthusiasm and hope, to transform it into action and sustained institutions for peace and democracy which she described as the foundation for the development of any country.

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Tanzanian Parliament Passes Digital Rights-hurting Amendments Despite Pushback by Civil Society Organizations
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
President Magufuli

President Magufuli

On June 27, 2019 the Tanzanian parliament passed into law amendments to the Written Laws despite pushback from civil society and human rights defenders. The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 3 of 2019) bill was made public on June 19 under a “certificate of urgency” to speed up its passage.The discussions concerning the bill began in Parliament on June 21, 2019. Members of civil society raised their concerns over the short notice to provide feedback on the bill on the morning of June 21. ‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a digital rights organisation working in the region, stated that “Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) urged that if this bill was to be passed it would restrict the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, placing impermissible restrictions on civil society organisations’ operations’’.

 The laws proposed to be amended include the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2002 (NGOs Act), Society Act, Trustees and Incorporations Act and The Companies Act 2002 among others.These four laws are among the main laws which govern Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Tanzania hence raising concerns over whether this was targeted as well as the previous laws to further compress democracy in Tanzania. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs Paradigm Initiative, noted, “On June 21 and 22 2019, some CSOs managed to submit their views before Parliamentary committees in Dodoma. However yesterday the Parliament passed it with only a handful of recommendations being carried forward’’.

 The role of Civil Society in fostering development and protecting human rights can not be underestimated. CSO’s have not only provided jobs but have contributed to positive development in various sectors of the economy and wellbeing of the nation. In a statement issued by the Tanzania Human rights defenders coalition (THRDC) along with over 300 other CSO’s, the urgency of passing this bill did not give reasonable time for the public to comprehend the implications of such a law. In attempts to push back, movements such as Change Tanzania published an online petition to collect signatures to lobby the parliament to give more time for comments before passing. However despite collection of over 900 signatures in a span of two days, the petition fell on deaf ears.

 There are some positive aspects to the amendments such as the Statistics Act now gives room for due process as well decriminalizing publishing of statistics data however the National Bureau  of Statistics still has the final say on approval of statistics. A post on Instagram by THRDC said that “The government has agreed to put in place procedures for compliance for companies and NGO’s, make amendments to the definition of NGO, Amendments of section 26 which was to give the registrar powers to suspend an NGO Pending determination by the board and monitor and evaluate NGO’s on a quarterly basis’’. Other sections include section 27 and 28 which covers deregistration of NGO’s which fail to comply within the time frame of 2 months. However It is still unclear which of the specific recommendations from stakeholders have been taken into account when making amendments  under the provisions highlighted.

 The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, added, “The country has passed a series of oppressive laws in a short span of slightly over a year when they first released the changes to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) in March last year’’.This was followed by amendments to the Statistical Act and then the Political Parties Act that was passed earlier this year as well, not giving enough time for concrete responses from stakeholders. While the county is approaching elections, the role of civil society at this crucial time is jeopardized.

 For the citizens of Tanzania there’s no safe space both offline and online. With content online subject to fall under the Cybercrime Act or seen as a violation of EPOCA there’s no room to express views. With the coming in of such new laws Civil society that have been working towards seeking redress and legal strategies to protect human rights including digital rights are left exposed.The role CSO’s have of building communities of trust both offline and online and keeping citizens engaged in matters of direct concern via media and other means will also be challenged. The possibility of some NGOs failing to comply with new laws will make the struggle to protect civic spaces an even more challenging battle.

 This law that was just passed will join the other laws such as the EPOCA, Political Parties Act and Cybercrime Act that have established clear boundaries and leave little room to hold the government accountable and to criticize it. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs Paradigm Initiative continued, ‘’We urge that proactive measures be taken to protect the existence of vibrant civil societies that play a role in creating peaceful and equal societies. We implore the government of Tanzania to ensure the stability and openness of democratic and civic spaces in Tanzania by respecting and protecting the role of civil society as a supporting arm of the democracy’’.

 * Source Paradigm Initiative.For more information on this press release please contact Paradigm Initiative’s media office via media@paradigmhq.org

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Is Africa Rising Narrative A Propaganda Or A Reality?
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka*

Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda

Why is it that African continent which is a home to sixty percent of world’s remaining arable land, and is vastly blessed with numerous utilizable water resources and various agro-ecological zones, is still a net food importer and is persistently failing to break the food import chain and food trade deficit that it is trapped in?

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, and which is expected to reach 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is extremely worrying. This is almost the same amount, the continent needs to close its power deficit, which is among the key needed ingredient to make the continent meaningfully diversify its economies.

My firsthand accounts of seeing extremely malnourished children in many areas of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Liberia, coupled with very low agricultural productivity, stemming from, overdependence on rain, minimal fertilizer application, use of rudimentary tools, absence of use of appropriate irrigation and water harvesting technologies, and poor farming practices, accompanied with agricultural policy distortions, I have witnessed in many African countries, casts a gloomy picture of Africa’ agricultural sector.

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, estimated to rise to 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is besides annihilating its agriculture, also a key continent’s growth and development decelerator. Currently, 250 million people in Africa, are undernourished, and with dwindling agricultural yields, and skyrocketing population, the continent food import bill, is poised to keep on expanding.

Two years back, while on a research assignment, in South-Kivu, North-Kivu, and Tshopo provinces, in DRC, the dilapidated human shelters housing thousands of malnourished and undernourished families, I witnessed shocked me. This is a vast country, which besides, being almost the entire size of Western Europe, is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and is also richly endowed with uranium, diamond, gold, copper, oil, and other precious metals, in addition to possessing large swatches of fertile lands, and world’s second longest River, Congo River, but majority its citizens are extremely very poor.

The situation is not different in other African countries. Forget the rising GDP figures, which the cunning politicians and economists, base on to advance the African rising narrative, and embark on extensive journey in rural areas of many African countries, the skyrocketing poverty levels you will witness, will surprise you.

The persistent use of per capita income as a gauge of African economies growth, should be discarded. It is largely misrepresentative of real situation on the ground, as it does not factor in, the distribution of growth. For instance, according to GDP figures, Uganda economy, has from, 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 expanded from, 25.00 USD billion to 29.00 USD billion, but collaborative government and civil society statistical data, shows that, poverty levels, have in the same period tremendously increased, which in essence implies that, the so called economic expansion is of no value to the majority of its citizens.

All African countries are debt- distressed and billions of monies, they have for years borrowed and are still borrowing from world bank, IMF, China, and other lending institutions and countries, to finance, roads, standard gauge railways construction, power, and other infrastructural developments, with the main aim of attracting foreign direct investments, have not and are not translating into economic wellbeing of the masses. The machinery and technologies used in these infrastructural projects, is foreign imported, very few Africans are employed in these projects, and a big percentage of this borrowed billions, is often swindled through syndicated corruption, involving African leaders and their thieving cronies.

There is no ground-breaking inventions, innovations, and technologies, being generated by Africa’s academic institutions, meant for spurring Africa’s industrial development. All the industries in Africa, are majorly powered by imported technologies. Why is this so and yet we have science, technology, and inter-disciplinary faculties in our universities?

Research is now a major growth and development accelerator of leading world economies. All the ground-breaking technologies that translates into economic well-being of the citizens are attained, through heavily investing in research. Is research financing a priority to African countries? How much does each country apportion to research each financial year? Can that research financing amount enable each country to produce ground- breaking technologies to leapfrog its forward in meeting the needs its citizens?

All over the continent, youth unemployment is on rise, and so is endemic corruption, both of which are deleterious economic bombs, that have been and are set, to continue exploding causing political unrest and destabilizing Africa growth agendas. What has happened and is happening in Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, among others is largely a governance question.

Almost all African leaders are pursuing two personal egoistic agendas: personal/family wealth accumulation, and creating a sort of political system/dynasty that provides for continued enjoyment of ill-gotten wealth even when not in power. Creating societal wealth is not their main agenda.

In sum, Africa rising narrative, will only become a reality, when the continent get visionary and transformative leaders, whose main agenda, is to trigger accumulation of an all- inclusive societal wealth. Today’s Africa rising narrative that is mainly advanced basing on GDP growth figures, is largely deceptive, as reality on the ground shows that it is fundamentally exclusive of majority of continental citizens.

*Moses Hategeka, is Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer.Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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Nigeria: Atiku tells army chief how to fight insurgency
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Atiku

Atiku

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, has advised the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to relocate to the North-East zone, particularly Borno State, in order to boost the fight against insurgency.

He said that the rate of killings in the country is such that the government’s pledge to end banditry and other forms of criminality in the country requires more action than sloganeering.

Atiku stated this in a statement released on Wednesday by a spokesman of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Council, Prince Kassim Afegbua.

He said, “The Chief of Army Staff should permanently be in Borno, where he will coordinate his troops.

“The Chief of Defence Staff should have an annex office in Zamfara, where he would spend more time than sit in their comfort zones in Abuja. The Chief of the Air Force needs to also be on his toes. We need a new paradigm in terms of methods and personnel to fit into the sophistication of these crimes.

“It is about time the President goes beyond mere sloganeering, and sprouts to action. We are tired of weather-beaten rhetoric that has become so repetitive and boring. We need to see a different approach in terms of choosing the right personnel to dispense with the responsibilities of safeguarding the country.

“From the statement earlier credited to the Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai, it does appear that we are in serious defence inertia. Some Nigerians have been saying that it is about time the President rejig his security personnel. Let these tired legs leave the scene for a more robust and result-driven younger minds that will come up with a new perspective on how to combat our insecurity challenges.

“The present Chiefs, seem to have reached their wits end and the motivation to deliver the right modules for effective security is tellingly missing.”

Atiku then call on the Buhari administration to combat poverty and unemployment which is a major cause of the increase in crime rate of the country.

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Gambia:Yankuba claims to be under Constitutional Immunity as he walks out of the hearing room
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Yankuba Touray is a former minister and an ally of Yahya Jammeh. Photo: Africa Feeds Media / Lamin Fadera

Yankuba Touray is a former minister and an ally of Yahya Jammeh. Photo: Africa Feeds Media / Lamin Fadera

Former top brass of the AFPRC, Yankuba Touray discontinued his testimony claiming he is under ‘Constitutional immunity.’

Mr Touray was adversely mentioned by several witnesses walked out of the hearing room amid his testimony.

And on Thursday morning, Touray refused to testify before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission under oath but finally agreed to testify under oath.

Few minutes into Touray’s testimony said “I am not going to testify regarding that… I invoke my Constitutional immunity.”

Despite his bitter tone, the lead counsel Essa Mbye Faal warned and cautioned Touray that “ I will not enter into legal debate with you as to whether immunity applies…I would remind you that it is an offense under the laws of the Commission—the TRRC Act failing to answer questions of the Commission.”

But Touray responded “I do not recognize the legitimacy of this Commission when I have Constitutional immunity.”

He  added as he walk out of the hearing room that “ I am not going further you may use your legal tools and then we all proceed and see…I am not speaking.”

However, Mr Touray was immediately arrested by the members of Police Intervention Unit attached to secure the venue of the hearings and was taken to the Kairaba Police station.

Mr Yankuba Touray was standing trial at the High Court of the land with former speaker of the National Assembly Fatoumatta Jahumpa after they were accused by a witness of the Truth Commission- Alagie Kany. But their case announced to be withdrawn by the Minister of Justice.

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South Sudan President orders probe into crude oil pre-sale deals
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir

President Kiir

Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has set up a committee to investigate mechanisms used in pre-sales of the country’s crude oil..

This comes  two weeks after President Kiir sacked the country’s oil minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.

The order by the president calling for a “complete inquiry” was issued on Tuesday night over state – based television.

President Kiir mandated the seven-man team led by cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro, to ‘ ascertain the number of per-sale agreements and companies allocated crude oil on the basis of pre-sale.’

President also tasked the committee to investigate the pre-sale process, payments and taxes as well as engaging the auditor general to audit pre-sale practices.

He further mandated the committee to verify the data of crude oil pre-sales.

The committee will work with the auditor general’s office and the ministries of Finance and Petroleum. The team is expected to submit their findings within 14 working days.

The East African oil-rich country is struggling to increase its oil production, months after the signing of the peace deal in September 2018. Currently it pumps 175,000 barrels per day of crude oil, but hope to returns it to 350,000 barrels per a day in 2020

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For alleged human rights violation in Anglophone regions, US Senate moves to halt all security assistance to Cameroon
June 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

“Biya has a long history of jailing journalists and lacks respect for human rights”; Senator Dick Durbin (photo: Borgenmagazine)

“Biya has a long history of jailing journalists and lacks respect for human rights”; Senator Dick Durbin (photo: Borgenmagazine)

The United States Senate has amended its National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA for the year 2020 stripping Cameroon off all security assistance until further notice.

The amendment halting security assistance to Cameroon to kickoff next year was introduced June 25, 2019, by four US senators who insist the “US can’t be accomplices to actions that are used to commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.

The amendment to the Defense Act will “halt all further U.S. security assistance to Cameroon, except for dealing with Boko Haram” until the “U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State certify military and security forces of Cameroon have demonstrated progress in abiding by international human rights standards, particularly in regards to repression in Anglophone parts of the country,” a release after the amendment of the act sent to our newsroom read.

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (Democrat- Illinois), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) introduced the amendments referencing decades of marginalization of the country’s Anglophone population which has now metamorphosed to simmering tensions and government repression.

“Earlier this month at Chicago’s Kovler Center, I heard devastating stories firsthand from refugees who fled mounting political violence in Cameroon.  And President Biya’s long history of jailing journalists and lack of respect for human rights do not bode well for peacefully addressing the country’s colonial-era divisions,” Durbin said.

“That is why I introduced an amendment to the FY2020 NDAA with Senators Cardin, Van Hollen, and Kaine that stops all further U.S. security assistance to Cameroon, except for dealing with Boko Haram, until the Secretaries of Defense and State can certify that such violent repression has come to a halt.”

The senator who has always weighed in on the situation in Cameroon said he had on Monday informed Cameroonian Ambassador to the US Henri Étoundi Essomba that the “U.S. stands ready to help when a peaceful path forward is advanced.”

 

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland reiterates that “America’s strength is in our values. We can no longer remain complicit in actions that are used to commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. American military assistance can no longer prop up Cameroon’s military and security forces who are attacking innocent civilians.”

Maintaining that Cameroon remains an important partner in combatting Boko Haram, he clarified that the amendment will not interfere with those efforts.

Describing the violence against the people of Cameroon as “unacceptable”, he also condemned the attacks on educational establishments by separatist fighters.

“Schools are closed and armed groups are attacking civilians and especially refugees. The health system is breaking down. The government must make substantial changes that benefit the safety and well-being of the people of Cameroon.”

In December 2018, Durbin, Van Hollen, Cardin, and Kaine joined several other Democratic Senators in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging greater U.S. attention to mounting violence in Cameroon.

Information filtering from the US Department of State indicates that the United States is dedicated to ensuring a return of peace and normalcy in Cameroon’s Anglophone region.

Though Cameroon remains a strategic partner of the US especially in its fights against terrorism in West Africa, top officials who spoke off the record say all options are on the table to bring an end to the crisis should the regime of President Paul Biya fail to respond find a solution out of the countries simmering conflict.

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Worry as Rwanda Catholic church bans family planning services from its hospitals
June 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Some Rwandan catholic church bishops have banned modern family planning services from their hospitals

Some Rwandan catholic church bishops have banned modern family planning services from their hospitals

 

Government of Rwanda is worried after catholic church hospitals are banned from offering any services related to modern methods of family planning.

Some dioceses have ordered their hospitals or health centers to submit funds, medicines and any tools related to modern family planning that will be remaining no later than 30 June this year.

Medical personal from such hospitals will not be allowed to give any family planning help to government aided hospitals or health centers since then.

Catholic church says the move is in line with their beliefs, where natural family planning which does not involve medicine is the only  advised.

Modern family planning services were initially banned from catholic church backed hospitals since 2016, but they continued to be a channel in which government used to give family planning kits and medicine to primary health centers owned by government.

Speaking to local media this Saturday, Fillipe Rukamba     Bishop of Southern Butare Diocese who is the president of Rwandan episcopal conference,  said they can’t afford  to be a channel of the medicine they don’t  accept.

“We can’t accept to continue  to be a channel of  family planning medicine, probably  including those that they use to abort. We have agreed that it is better they look for another alternative” Rukamba said

He added that government have many ways to address such issue, saying “Catholic church hospitals are not the only ones, government  has many ways in which such medicine can be brought .”

However, the decision taken by catholic church angers government, citing it undermines the  agreement they have had.

Rwanda’s Minister of health, Dr Diane Gashumba said “such orders worries me as Minister of health.”

She says such decision to submit remaining family planning funds will bring other unintended consequences.

“If hospitals directors respect that order, they will submit any fund or aid which help us in maternity programmes  and those  which are used in fighting malnutrition”, she adds

Banning family planning into catholic church aided hospitals, is putting much pressure to the  government to build more health centers of its own around the country.

Rwanda has one of the highest population growth with 2.4 rate. Demographic health survey which was conducted in 2015, found that 53% of married women are using modern way of family planning.

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Nigeria: Buratai blames troops for Boko Haram persistence
June 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

Buratai

Buratai

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has given reasons why the Nigerian Army continue to linger in the fight to wipe out the terrorist sect Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of the country.

He made the reasons known in a speech he delivered at the opening of a five-day leadership workshop for mid-level officers and soldiers in Abuja.

Buratai said, “It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigerian Army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks or simply insufficient commitment to a common national and military course by those at the frontlines.

“Many of those on whom the responsibility for physical actions against the adversary squarely falls are yet to fully take ownership of our common national or service cause. And this is the reason why I have always ensured that the promotion of army personnel is essentially based on professional considerations only.

“But we all know that professional capacity is not a sufficient condition to succeed in a task; willingness to perform the task is equally necessary. We all know that leadership is core to military professionalism; hence all military professional courses include aspects of military leadership skills acquisition.”

He went further to say that an effect of modernisation, globalisation and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the last decades had been the decline in nationalistic enthusiasm.

“Hence the theme of the workshop has been aptly chosen as ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way,’” he added.

This revelation is coming as Boko Haram terrorists, have constantly attacked Nigerian Army bases in the North East, which has led to death of many soldiers.

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Rwanda has no fear over debt from China
June 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Kagame (right) welcoming president Jinping during his visit in Rwanda in July 2018

President Kagame (right) welcoming president Jinping during his visit in Rwanda in July 2018

Rwanda says it doesn’t worry the level of the debt it owes China because it has not got to the alarming line.

It was revealed  during the signing ceremony this Tuesday, where China gave Rwanda USD 42 million grant worth which will be used to expand and upgrade roads in the city of Kigali.

Rwanda’s external debt stands at 41 percent of GDP according to the  official statistics.

Though statistics doesn’t show level of debt from China, officials from Ministry of Finance emphasized it is still below 9 percent of the external debt.

Addressing the press after the signing of the agreement, Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of Planning, Dr Uwera Claudine said Rwanda does not see debt from China as a burden.

“We don’t have to worry debt, grant or funds we receive from China, because our national debt level is still very low. We are still in need of them because we benefit more”, she said

Rwanda says a debt from China is not wasted but used to promote welfare and national development.

The  data released last year by   the China-Africa Research Initiative (Cari) at John Hopkins University showed that during last ten years, East African economies have borrowed $29.42 billion from China with Rwanda borrowing $289 million.

This money was used mainly in transport, communication, manufacturing and energy sectors.

In interview with Pan African Visions last month, a Kenyan scholar Prof Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba warned  African countries over taking China’s debt uncontrollably.

He said “ China has defined what it wants, they know that Africa has potentials  it is time for Africa to re-examine  what it wants. The existing relations between China and Africa, it is like relations between a rider and a horse and the horse is Africa”.

In July last year  China President Xi Jinping visited Rwanda. He said he was looking to build mutually beneficial relations with Rwanda.

During his stay in Rwanda, President Xi and President Paul Kagame signed 15 agreements worth millions of dollars in areas like trade, infrastructure, investment,  human resource, culture, technology, aviation, mining among others.

 

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South Sudan: JMEC calls on army forces to vacate 54 occupied civilian centres
June 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Interim Chairperson H.E. Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge

Interim Chairperson H.E. Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge

Juba – the body tasked with a monitoring peace deal in South Sudan has called on the South Sudan People Defense Forces (SSPDF) and other army forces to immediately vacate occupied civilian centres across the country.

Speaking during the opening of the 7th Monthly Plenary’s meeting, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) Interim Chairperson H.E. Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge gave an update on the status of implementation of the signed nine months revitalized peace deal.

South Sudan has descended into another conflict, just two years of gained her independence from Sudan after decades of scorched – earth conflict, following the political disagreement between Salva Kiir and his former deputy Dr. Riek Machar.

Through the regional bloc, IGAD’s efforts, the two principals reached a peace deal in 2015 but has been violated within months in 2016, following renewal fighting in Juba, forced Dr. Machar to an exile again.

But in September, 2018, president Kiir and key opposition groups, including main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar again reached a fragile ceasefire and peace deal, promising to ended the civil war that has claimed nearly 400, 000 lives and uprooted 4 million people from their homes.

However, the plans to form a new government in May, returned Dr. Machar as the president Kiir’s deputy were delayed after there was no funding to disarm, retrain and integrate militias and rebels, until November, 2019.

Despite the peace deal, Gen. Njoroge says the military are still occupied the civilian centres across the country.

“Regarding the occupation of the civilian centres by the military, I wrote to the Chairman of the Joint Defense Board (JDB) requesting him to issue instructions to respective commanders for their troops to vacate all occupied civilian centres,” says Njoroge in Juba on Tuesday.

However, in draft seen by the Pan African Visions, 54 buildings remain occupied by the army forces across, which contrary to international laws and principles as well as SSPDF General order of 14 August 2013 and R – ARCSS articles 2.2.3.1. This areas, including Torit, Yei, Malakal, Juba, Wau and Yambio and among others.

Those buildings or schools are mostly occupied by the government forces.

The SSPDF, spokesperson, Major Gen. Lul Ruai has confirmed it, saying the SSPDF is on process to vacate the civilian premises as the security is relative calm.

“There are other centres remain occupied by the army, however, we have made a positive development by vacated 17 centres and we have cleared timetable on some of the building that are still occupied,” Lul told this news agency.

The army spokesperson further unveiled that the army leaderships would complete the vacation of all forces within this month.

Lul decried that the vacation exercise is encountering imminent challenges such as lack of shelters to move a forces to.

“Well, of course in every exercise, there are some challenges, you know, this is a rainy season, some of the building that are being occupied, are being using as a shelters. Of course, when we vacate – we shall have a problem of where we will take this forces but of course, we can comply with what require of us,” says Lul.

On Security

Both the peace monitor and the army has confirmed that the permanent ceasefire is effective in the country.

“On the security situation, I am pleased to note that the permanent ceasefire continues to hold across the country, while attention is turned to cantonment and the training of the Necessary Unified Forces,” says Njoroge.

The JMEC chairperson urged the security Mechanisms to open cantonment sites and ensure that forces report to the designated sites or barracks, as stipulated in the R-ARCSS.

“Unfortunately, there is still violence and an unacceptable number of deaths linked to cattle rustling. This requires the urgent attention of the government,” Njoroge continued said

Sexual Violence

Despite an apparent reduction in reported cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the country, it remains a concern, the Interim Chairperson noted.

“I urge the Parties to the Agreement to takes steps to eradicate SGBV in their areas of responsibility, to ensure protection and safety of women and girls in areas under their control, and to continue accountability measures for those found culpable of SGBV violations,” said Amb. Njoroge.

Lt. Gen. Njoroge concluded that he is encouraged by the “ongoing discussion about the establishment of an SGBV court by the Judiciary, and the adoption by the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces of an Action Plan to eradicate SGBV by the military.”

 

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Namibia, Cape Verde, Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Botswana beat US in 2019 Press Freedom Index
June 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Botswana newspapers

Botswana newspapers

Though regarded as a pillar of democracy, champion of freedom of the press and guarantor of the free world, the United States is repeatedly losing its grip and influence in the world with other nations, including African states, taking the lead where the “world leader” fails.

After falling short behind thirty African states in the 2018 global peace index, the US this time around came in the 48th position on Reporters Without Border 2019 Press Freedom Index. The champion of democracy, freedom of expression and the press is beaten by six African states. A stack contract of what most western media propagate.

According to the report, the countries ahead of the United States are; Namibia, Cape Verde, Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Botswana respectively. Similarly, the United Kingdom was topped by the first four African countries.

Africa, the report holds registered the smallest deterioration in its regional score in the 2019 Index but performed generally well as compared to other continents.

Of the 180 counties sampled, the first African country, Namibia comes in the 23rd position and the last being Eritrea occupying the 178th position.

The first country rated by the Press Freedom Index is Norway while Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea comes last.

The freedom of press index ranking is an annual report of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders, a non-governmental organization based in Paris that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.

Its objective is to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, and news organizations in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect such freedom.

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Centurion Law Group announces intention to pursue Public Listing
June 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Cabinet downplays Ebola scare in the country
June 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma | @journalist-27

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki during an interview at her office in Nairobi on November 9, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki during an interview at her office in Nairobi on November 9, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has allayed fears of the deadly Ebola outbreak in the country, saying the suspected patient is in stable condition.

Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during an inspection of the screening exercise and Ebola preparedness by the medical personnel, Kariuki assured the public that the country is free from Ebola.

“A rapid surveillance and response team has examined the patient who is in stable condition and has confirmed that the patient does not meet the case of definition of Ebola. Allow me to confirm to Kenyans that the patient does not meet the case definition of Ebola,” said Kariuki.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola and indeed the ministry has undertaken and continues to implement the preparedness measures,” she added.

He further disclosed that the government has laid down strict measures to handle the suspected case. She noted the ministry has deployed 229 staff at various points of entry into the country, including 21 Ebola champions.

A 36-year-old woman has been put in Isolation at Kericho County Referral Hospital in the Kenyan Rift Valley over suspected Ebola symptoms. She was experiencing headache, fever and vomiting.

Her blood samples had been submitted to the Kenya Medical Research Institute for further analysis.

The woman was reported to have travelled from Busia, border of Kenya and Uganda.  Uganda is on high alert after two people, a woman and her five year old grandson died few days after arriving from DRC which has been battling with the killer disease for years.

The number of people put in isolation in Kericho over fears of the lethal disease has risen to four.

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Mayors Told to Use Public Transport in South Africa
June 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has stated that the country’s 257 mayors should use public transport or shuttles and stop hiring expensive luxury cars. The Finance Minister said this during the South African Bank (SARB) and the South African Mint announcement release of a series of six commemorative circulation coins.

Speaking to journalists, the Finance Minister said that he is set to introduce new stringent measures to cut costs in municipalities and related entities with effect from next month.

Finance Minister also went further stating that municipalities have been told to avoid expenditure on elaborate and expensive office furniture.

The decision to promulgate the measures was reached in concurrence with Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

IOL reports that “New municipal cost-containment regulations have declared that local government officials and political office bearers must either use council vehicles or use public transport if the costs of such services are lower than hiring a vehicle, the kilometres to be claimed or parking. The regulations are aimed at ensuring that municipality resources are used effectively, efficiently and economically.”

“Local government politicians and officials have also been warned should they fail to implement or comply with the new regulations they will be held liable for committing financial misconduct or financial offences, which may be declared criminal offences.

From July 1, municipal managers have also been told to ensure there are policies in place to manage the use of council vehicles for official purposes.”

The new regulations have received mixed reactions both from the mayors themselves and also from the general public. Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Mongameli Bobani, made it clear that he will not be using public transport and shuttle services as his municipality’s deal with Volkswagen (VW) will exempt him from the call.

In a Twitter post, Bobani explained that he is obliged to use the luxury services offered by the car manufacturer because of a deal that was secured by the metro.

“Nelson Mandela Bay’s executive mayor is sponsored and driven by Volkswagen South Africa, from their plant in Uitenhage. Thanks to the former executive mayor, Nceba Faku, for striking such a deal. A big thank you to VW Group for the support all these years,” the mayor noted in a tweet.

Many South Africans who took to Twitter to air out their views stated that this was a move in the right direction as it will enable municipalities to save funds better put to use in other key areas. Others, however, bemoaned the move saying it may lead to public funds abuse by officials who would want to compensate for what they perceive to be rightfully theirs.

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Mozambique: Renamo militiamen threaten to kill Ossufo Momade
June 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

A group of soldiers who identify themselves as faithful of the late Afonso Dhlakama threaten to kill the current leader of the Renamo party, Ossufo Momade, if he does not resign from office until July.

The military, represented at a press conference by General Mariano Nhongo, who claimed to be commander of the military wing of the party, accuse Ossufo Momade of being an agent of the mozambican secret agency, SISE, with agenda to ruin Renamo.

They also say that he ordered the assassination of Renamo’s General, Josefa de Sousa, on 3 June, and ordered that two other brigadiers be arrested.

“When he arrived, he struck our General Staff headquarters and arrested three  brigadiers, whose one of them named Josefa was shot,” Nyongo said denouncing that Momade “is being used .. comes as a sheep while he is a Hyena.”

Another situation that worries the military, Nhongo continued, is that the electoral registration process that ended on 30 May was characterized by several irregularities that will benefit Mozambique’s ruling party Frelimo, but even so the leader did nothing, despite successive calls of attention sent by the military.

Regarding the Disarmament, Demilitarization and Reintegration process of Renamo’s armed men, Nhongo said that the military is allegedly concerned that Ossufo Momade is creating conditions for the military to be sent home while his “friends” are appointed to different positions ate the police and military state institutions.

“That’s why we feel like this is not our president,” the general said, threatening that “if Ossufo does not leave [the power] we will kill him just as he killed our Brigadier.”

“The decision we made is that we do not want Ossufo,” the General said, who revealed that the military has already decided to hold a meeting that will take place between 10 and 15 July for the election of the new leader who should conduct the DDR process because “In the name of Ossufo no military will surrender the arms”.

However, on Thursday, party spokesman Jose Manteigas called the press to say that the information released by Nhongo is not true and that he is part of a group of deserters.

 

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South Sudan: Financial constraints forcing cuts in foreign missions & personnel, says Minister
June 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Foreign Affairs  Minister Nhial Deng Nhial

Foreign Affairs Minister Nhial Deng Nhial

Juba – The South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has confirmed reports of downsizing on the number of employees in South Sudan embassies abroad due to financial constraints.

Foreign Affairs  Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said the move also affects the number of foreign missions since some of them will be closed down.

In 2015, South Sudan had 25 functioning embassies across the world, and had plans to open up more as a way of improving the country’s engagement and relations with other countries, followed the outbreak of political conflict on late December, 2013.But in the years later, the embassies experienced a reduction in the number of personnel, while others faced evictions over unpaid rent in abroad.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said each foreign mission had between 20 to 25 staff -with non-essential workers, which increases salaries and other operational costs.The Foreign Affairs Ministry said it would continue to review the status of its 39 embassies and a consulate in Dubai before deciding on the number to be closed.

“Because of our resource constraints, we have had to cut back on our diplomatic representations abroad. We have decided that some of the missions will have to close down, other missions will have to witness a reduction in personnel,” said Minister Nhial, speaking on Friday at a function of the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Juba.

However, Nhial said that the reduction is temporary, adding that most government agencies have had to review their expenditures following the conflict in South Sudan.

‘These things are being done as a necessity because of the difficulties that the conflict has plunged South Sudan into. There are other factors beyond the control of South Sudan that have also negatively impacted our situation –not only in the ministry of foreign affairs, but all government agencies basically,” he said.

It is not clear how many foreign missions have been affected by the austerity measures.

Last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sacked 40 overseas diplomats for reportedly not showing up for work over a prolonged period.

South Sudan returned into another civil war in 2013 after two years of her historical independence from Sudan regime after two decades of conflict. The fifth !- years brutal political conflict has claimed nearly 400, 000 lives and uprooted four million people from their homes, before devastated the world youngest country’s economy.

The parties to the conflict has signed several ceasefire and peace deal but has been violated within the months.

Latest the peace deal, Khartoum backing up was signed on September, 2018, as leaders promising to end the bloodshed and returning stability and calmness. The new transitional government is due to be form in November, 2019, return main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar to his  former position, which he held before conflict broke out.

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FG can seize unexplainable assets from citizens — Osinbajo, Nigeria’s VP
May 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Olumide Ajayi

Nigerian VP Yemi Osinbajo

Nigerian VP Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government can seize assets from citizens who cannot explain the source of their wealth.

The vice president made this known on Tuesday while declaring the anti-corruption conference organised by the office of the vice president and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in Abuja on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court in a lead judgment of Akaahs JSC, recently held that forfeiture under Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act is a civil process which neither requires the criminal conviction of the property owner nor his innocence,” he said.

“This opens the door for forfeiture of assets that the purported owner cannot explain, whether or not an allegation of corruption is made.”

According to him, corruption has made Nigeria’s debt and poverty figures double in spite of the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history

He said the Buhari-administration is not deceived into thinking that it has won the battle against corruption as it was tackling grand corruption first.

“By that, we mean the stealing of huge public resources directly from the treasury; usually at the highest levels of executive authority; and the stealing of budgeted funds through various schemes,” he explained.

“We are now poised to deal with the wider problem of systemic corruption; especially where the average person interacts with government.

“Corruption in the issuance of contracts, licenses and other government approvals; there is no reason why any Nigerian should have to give bribe to law enforcement agents for obtaining drivers licenses or passports or to clear goods at our ports.

“All the relevant government agencies have shown a serious commitment to eradicating these forms of corruption; our next level is to create the environment for collaboration between our agencies, civil society and other stakeholders.”

He said the enforcement of treasury single account(TSA), the presidential initiative on continuous audit, and transferring civil servants on the IPPIS electronic platform has helped to control official theft of public funds.

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Why African Leaders Should Be Optimistic
November 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Matshona Dhliwayo

Africa Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat (2ndL front row) poses for a family photo with Africa's Presidents (fromL) Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahamed and Chad's Idris Deby, on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (AFP)

Africa Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat (2ndL front row) poses for a family photo with Africa’s Presidents (fromL) Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahamed and Chad’s Idris Deby, on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (AFP)

Not too long ago, the two words “Africa Rising” were on everyone’s lips.  After a decade of sluggish growth, Africa was finally showing real potential to follow in the footsteps of Asia.  The Financial Times predicted the continent would enjoy a long period of mid- to high single-digit economic growth.  Income would rise, a middle class would emerge, and consumer spending would increase.  Was the media wrong?  Were tabloids exaggerating?  Certainly not, for since 2001, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries had been in Africa.

However, almost a decade later, some are still asking themselves: “Is there hope for Africa?  Can the continent experience sustainable growth to give the world’s oldest inhabited region a new narrative?”

I belong to the hopeful group, and so should every African leader.  Below are ten reasons why African leaders should be optimistic about the future:

  1. Our resilience. Contrary to popular belief, adversity has benefited us greatly.  Slavery, colonization, institutionalized racism, the AIDS epidemic, poverty, and famine were all meant to kill us, but have only made us stronger.  Because we have gone through the worst, we are stronger mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
  2. Our natural resources. Since the beginning, Africa has been blessed with an enormous quantity of natural resources.  The envy of other continents, many of its precious metals remain undiscovered or barely harnessed.  Those who doubted the extent of Africa’s mineral wealth were shocked to learn the continent possessed 90% of the world’s chrome resources, 85% of its platinum, 70% of its tantaline, 68% of its cobalt, and 54% of its gold, just to mention a few.  Assuredly, the ticket to our prosperity is beneath our very feet—underneath the ground we tread on every day.
  3. Our human resources. By 2050, it is estimated that Africa will have a larger and younger workforce than China or India.  More people equals more talent, and more talent equals more growth.  More children also means that more products have to be produced, such as food, clothing, and furniture.  Likewise, more schools and homes have to be built, which economically benefits the education and construction industries.  An increased population inevitably leads to a larger domestic market.

 

The final benefit of Africa’s larger population means foreign enemies will think twice about invading the continent.  The greater a nation’s population, the greater its army; the greater its army, the greater its security.

  1. Our spirituality. Africa is a continent rich in spirituality.  Wherever you go, the majority of people’s lives are governed to a small or large extent by a higher power.  While religion has brought much good and bad to the world, spirituality has only brought good.  And, by some estimates, Africa is the most spiritual place in the world.  Even those who don’t subscribe to a particular religion believe in a higher power.  The benefits?  Even the science community has admitted that there are rewards.  To the marvel of many, despite being poor, we are gracious, grateful, optimistic, humane, and fulfilled.  What would kill others we endure with a smile, and our spirituality is responsible for it.
  2. Our rich culture and heritage. Many have tried to mock, undermine, and even destroy our heritage, but to no avail.  It is indisputable that Africa has the richest culture—one that goes back to the beginning of civilization itself.  It includes the way we respect life, and the way we honor the dead; the way we celebrate children and, at the same time, highly regard elders; the way we esteem knowledge and revere wisdom; the way we conduct ourselves in both private and in public; and the way we treat foreigners, as well as live amongst ourselves.  Without our culture, there is no doubt that Africa would have fallen a long time ago.  A nation or a people without a heritage will not last for long, no matter how great or prosperous, but a nation or a people with one will thrive, no matter how unexceptional or poor.
  3. Our history. When ancient kings conquered a people and took over their land, one of the things they would do is burn down their libraries in order to erase not only their history, but also their sense of self.  We, of all people, have the grandest history—mathematics, science, literature, philosophy, and arts can all trace their beginnings to Africa.  With this on our minds, we can meet the future with a smile, no matter how bleak or bright; our victory is certain, not only in our minds, but also in our hearts.
  4. Democracy is on the rise. Democracy has been steadily rising in Africa, as the masses have realized they cannot put their destinies in the hands of one party or ruler.  To the chagrin of those with tyrannical ambitions, democracy has and will continue to bring freedom, equality, justice, and responsible government to the masses.  When the citizens’ rights and interests are protected, a nation is sheltered.
  5. Higher literacy rate. In 1990, the adult literacy rate in all of Africa was 53%.  By 2015, it was estimated to be at about 63%.  Clearly, we are doing something right, and if we continue, it will only get better.  A higher literacy rate means better education, a better economy, and better governance of the country, all of which improve the well-being of the people.
  6. Our climate. Since time immemorial, people have tended to migrate to warmer climates.  Africa being the hottest continent on Earth makes it very attractive—you don’t have the same worries as those who live in cold climates.  Science itself has proven that living in warmer weather is better for your health.  Improved memory, more Vitamin D, and increased physical activity are just a few of the benefits.  Warm weather is also better for our heart and lungs, and studies have shown that there are higher death rates in colder climates.
  7. Less civil wars. Indeed, peace continues to bring much good to the continent, including increased tourism, investments, and general well-being of its citizens.  Due to our ethnic and religious diversity, however, from time to time, some countries experience civil strife.  Economies are damaged, and fear ripples through communities.  But, in recent years, civil wars have been on the decline; old enemies are mending fences as they realize they are better and stronger together than they are apart.  Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”
  8. Nature and wildlife. Africa has a large variety of natural wildlife, much of which can be found only on the continent.  Straddling the equator, the land is home to many of the world’s most beloved flora and fascinating fauna.  Despite all the negative publicity Africa has received, its nature and wildlife make it an irresistible tourist destination, a testament to the undeniable beauty and allure of the motherland.
  9. Improved energy access. Why has Africa been experiencing rapid growth during the last decade?  Slowly but surely, our energy sectors are improving.  There are still many problems, but we are better off than we were ten years ago.  Factories operate more efficiently, leading to higher productivity and a higher GDP, thereby increasing the standard of living.

 

Improved energy access is also crucial for food security, affordable and reliable water, and environmental protection.  People will cut down fewer trees if they have a dependable substitute source of energy.

  1. Improved educational institutions. As child enrollment rates have been steadily rising all across the continent, it has forced governments to invest more in education.  However, although teachers are still underpaid, the quality of teaching has improved.  If this trend continues, even the greatest skeptics among us must admit that we will inevitably return to our former glory, with groundbreaking improvements in the arts and sciences.

 

What are the benefits of this?  Innovation in the arts and sciences not only betters the economy, but also brings prestige to a nation.  The best example of this is the Renaissance: it brought untold glory to Italy, the honor and prestige of which the country is still enjoying today.

  1. Improved infrastructure. As capital has been pouring into the continent, slowly but surely, our infrastructure has been improving.  Better roads and infrastructure have allowed companies to operate more efficiently, which has also means that more investments have come pouring in.
  2. Improved healthcare. Healthcare has improved dramatically over the past decade.  More quality educational institutions have led to more knowledgeable doctors, and more knowledgeable doctors have led to better healthcare, all of which has contributed to increased life expectancy rates.
  3. Increased foreign investment. Most, if not all, of the above points lead directly or indirectly to increased foreign investment.  Foreign investment means more jobs, more income, and more spending, all of which grow the economy.

In conclusion, African leaders have much to be optimistic about.  Africa matters to the world; the world cannot do without us.  We are the most habitable place on Earth, not experiencing the same natural disasters bedeviling other parts of the world; we also have the greatest capacity for maintaining balance in the biosphere, helping to avoid further depletion of the ozone layer.  And, in a world full of strife, it is the very values passed down to us by our ancestors that hold the key to human survival on Earth.

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Russian PMCs expanding missions in Africa
November 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan*

St Petersburg, Russia. 23rd May, 2018. ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 23, 2018: Faustin-Archange Touadera (L), President of the Central African Republic, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting at the Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Credit: ITAR-TASS News Agency/Alamy Live News

St Petersburg, Russia. 23rd May, 2018. ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – MAY 23, 2018: Faustin-Archange Touadera (L), President of the Central African Republic, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting at the Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Credit: ITAR-TASS News Agency/Alamy Live News

It has been a year since the UN Security Council in its wisdom decided that it was a benefit to the Central African Republic for the Russian Federation to be granted a waiver on an arms embargo and  send arms there[1]. While this idea was being debated in New York the United States, France and the United Kingdom grudgingly gave their approval to this concept. The blowback from this move is radiating through the continent as we speak.

What was supposed to be a direct to direct Military training by the Russian Military to the reorganizing Army of the Central African Republic grew to include trainers and advisors from several Russian PMCs (Private Military Companies)[2]. Some of these companies have a history of operations in Africa supporting several nefarious regimes as they attempt to retain power by whatever means necessary.

 

The first question is what would compel Russia take such action? The easy answer is to some people Africa is not a major security concern. Therefore it is not an issue to be watched closely until some event occurs that brings the situation into focus. Another explanation could be addressed by the phrase “Nature abhors a vacuum.” As the United States and other powers seem to withdraw from African Interests Russia feels that it is in their interests assert their influence.

The apparent disinterest in the situation inside the  Central African Republic by the west and the neighbors plays out to a tune that is seen as similar to heavy handed responses towards Sudan in the past has driven these regimes into their hands to conduct business. We are seeing this play out with new deals by Moscow with Eritrea,[3] Eastern Libya[4]and Mozambique. These are countries for the most part have been shunned for Human Rights violations and other governance issues.

The move into Mozambique is proving to be an interesting one. Already there is an American PMC currently operating in the Country. This group is headed by Erik Prince[5] who gained fame and scorn with the operations of Blackwater during its time as a contractor operating in Iraq after the US Invasion during the administration of George W. Bush. The situation in the Northeastern part of the country is a matter of concern for a year.[6] A series of random attacks that seem not to be a matter of concern to the authorities in Maputo makes this move to potentially become a flashpoint between the United States and the Russian Federation. What happens when these two combustible elements collide? Will there be a quick disengagement? This is a scenario that is both scary and tantalizing. There have been fears that these attacks have been launched by Jihadists Elements moving into the region as some groups actively seek a new safe haven.

So considering how insular Russians can be how have they reacted to anyone who has been attempting to conduct any oversight? The situation in the Central African Republic has been unique for the actions of the accounting of the Russian Government to the UN in the number of weapons and amount of ammunition that has been sent to the strife torn country. Compare that to the reaction of Wagner group when some Russian Independent Journalists tried to investigate their actions in the country.[7] This incident did raise some alarm bells regarding the actions of these group in Central Africa.

It is felt by some that the US and EU place too strict of a series of benchmarks on several of these states that restricts them from conducting any business with these states. This pushes them into the hands of Russia and other states where Business trumps other concerns. As long as these leaders get paid it doesn’t matter what happens inside their borders.

 

The influx of Russian PMCs may show that just like the US Military it may be overextended by current Operations in both Ukraine and in Syria. Outsourcing these efforts also gives the Kremlin what it feels a modicum of deniability that it often uses to temper critical voices from the International Community.

*The Author is President of the Washington DC  based  Red Eagle Enterprises whose mission is supporting African Business Development ,and also Providing Analysis of African Intelligence in a critical and timely manner for business, non-profits and Government.

[1] https://www.nation.co.ke/news/world/Russia-asks-UN-for-green-light-to-send-arms-to-C-Africa-Republic/1068-4226152-lsosek/index.html

[2] https://citeam.org/ru-mercenaries-in-africa/

[3] https://www.voanews.com/a/russia-eritrea-relations-grow-with-planned-logistics-center/4554680.html

[4] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/11/russia-moving-into-libya/

[5] https://clubofmozambique.com/news/erik-princes-security-company-in-northern-mozambique-plot-or-coincidence/

[6] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mozambique-attack/at-least-10-beheaded-in-mozambique-attack-state-radio-idUSKCN1IU1L5

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/world/africa/russian-journalists-killed-central-african-republic.html

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Russian giant inks deal for oil exploration in South Sudan
November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudanese FVP Taban Deng addressing the oil and power confrence attendees in Juba, photo by Deng Machol

South Sudanese FVP Taban Deng addressing the oil and power confrence attendees in Juba, photo by Deng Machol

Juba – Russia’s Zarubezhneft has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Sudan to explore four oil blocks, South Sudan’s petroleum minister said last week.

Minister Ezekiel Lul said the country’s oil production had risen to 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 130,000 bpd in August.

He said South Sudan wanted to push production back up to 350,000 bpd, the level achieved in 2011 when the country secured independence from Khartoum regime and before the country glided into another civil conflict.

President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar  recently signed the revitalized peace deal in September, in attempt to end a conflict and return the country into stability and economic development path.

However, the arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom was awaiting more information on the blocks from the Petroleum Ministry before starting exploration.

Though, the Russian company reported denies a deal reached with South Sudan, but Juba said it was because of geo-politics, and a deal is real.

However, other foreign firms active in South Sudan’s oil industry include China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh).

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Nigeria loses $6bn from ‘corrupt’ oil deal linked to fraud
November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Russell Padmore*

A court in Milan is considering charges of corruption against Eni and Shell in a controversial oil deal that led to Nigeria losing an estimated $6bn.

The campaign group Global Witness has calculated the OPL 245 deal in 2011 deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget.

Eni and Shell are accused of knowing the money they paid to Nigeria would be used for bribes.

The Italian and Anglo-Dutch energy giants deny any wrongdoing.

This unfolding scandal, which is being played out in an Italian court, has involved former MI6 officers, the FBI, a former President of Nigeria, as well as current and former senior executives at the two oil companies.

The former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, was found guilty by a court in France of money laundering and it emerged he used illicit funds to buy a speed boat and a chateau. It is also claimed he had so much cash in $100 bills that it weighed five tonnes.

Global Witness has spent years investigating the deal which gave Shell and Eni the rights to explore OPL 245, an offshore oil field in the Niger Delta.

It has commissioned new analysis of the way the contract was altered in favour of the energy companies and concluded Nigeria’s losses over the lifetime of the project would amount to $5.86bn, compared to terms in place before 2011.

The analysis was carried out by Resources for Development Consulting on behalf of Global Witness, as well as the NGOs HEDA, RE:Common and The Corner. The estimated losses were calculated using an oil price of $70 a barrel as a basis.

Eni has criticised the way it was calculated because it ignores the possibility that Nigeria had the right to revise the deal to claim a 50% share of the production revenues.

Shell is one of the oil firms facing corruption charges

Shell is one of the oil firms facing corruption charges

Deal or no deal

Campaigners say the deal should be cancelled.

“We discovered that Shell had constructed a deal that cut Nigeria out of their share of profit oil from the block,” Ava Lee, a campaigner at Global Witness told the BBC’s World Business Report.

“This amount of money would be enough to educate six million teachers in Nigeria. It really can’t be underestimated just how big a deal this could be for a country that right now has the highest rates of extreme poverty in the world.”

Nigeria is the richest economy in Africa, but despite having large resources of oil and gas millions of people are poor.

Lucrative OPL 245

It is understandable why Eni and Shell wanted to acquire the rights to develop OPL 245, because it is estimated to contain nine billion barrels of oil.

But the process of how they secured the contract is dogged by claims of corruption.

The court in Milan is weighing evidence of how a former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, awarded ownership of OPL 245 to Malabu, a company he secretly controlled.

He is accused of paying bribes to others in the government, such as former President Goodluck Jonathan, to ensure that process went smoothly.

Shell and Eni are accused of knowing the $1.1bn they paid to Nigeria would be used for bribes, claims based on the content of emails which have since emerged.

“Looking at the emails it seems that Shell knew that the deal they were constructing was misleading but they went ahead with it anyway even though a number of Nigerian officials raised concerns about this scandalous, scandalous deal,” says Ava Lee from Global Witness.

Eni HQImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionEni’s headquarters in San Donato Milanese, near Milan

No wrongdoing

The Anglo-Dutch and Italian energy giants insist they have done nothing wrong, because they paid the money to secure the exploration rights directly to the Nigerian government.

Shell issued a statement to BBC World Business Report saying: “Since this matter is before the Tribunal of Milan it would not be appropriate for us to comment in detail. Issues that are under consideration as part of a trial process should be adjudicated in court and we do not wish to interfere with this process.

“We maintain that the settlement was a fully legal transaction and we believe the trial judges in Italy will conclude that there is no case against Shell or its former employees.”

Eni has also denied any wrongdoing and told the BBC that it questions the competence of the experts commissioned by Global Witness and its “partners”, as well as raising the possibility that the report by the campaign group is defamatory.

The Italian oil and gas company said “as this matter is currently before the Tribunal of Milan, we are unable to comment in detail”.

In a statement it noted: “Global Witness together with its partners Corner House, HEDA Resource Centre and Re: Common had requested twice to be admitted as aggrieved parties in the Milan proceedings. On both occasions, the request was firmly denied by the Tribunal of Milan.”

Eni also said it “continues to reject any allegation of impropriety or irregularity in connection with this transaction”.

Campaigners say the deal deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget

Campaigners say the deal deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget

Biggest ever corruption case

Campaigners believe this is a landmark case and the outcome of the trial in Milan will cause an earthquake to reverberate through the oil and gas industry.

Nick Hildyard of the Corner House wonders if investors are comfortable. “Fund managers should be alarmed at this brazen dishonesty,” he said.

Nigeria’s leader is being encouraged to intervene by Olanrewaju Suraju, from HEDA. “President Buhari should reject any deal,” he said.

The contrast between the way Italy deals with migrants and the actions of one of the nation’s biggest companies has been raised by Antonio Tricarico of Re;Common.

“The Italian government is discouraging Nigerian migrants trying to reach Italy by claiming that it will help them at home, but Italy’s biggest multi-national, part owned by the state, is accused of scamming billions from the Nigerian people.”

The outcome of the unprecedented court case in Milan could force the oil industry to change how it conducts its business, especially in countries where corruption is rife, because more transparency about contracts and payments made would discourage fraud.

*BBC

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COMESA – EU Signs €48m Trade Facilitation Programme
November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia, Ambassador Alessandro Mariani

Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia, Ambassador Alessandro Mariani

The European Union and COMESA have signed a 48.3 Million Euros trade facilitation programme. The COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme Programme (CTFP) aims at deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing competitiveness of the COMESA region

Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia, Ambassador Alessandro Mariani signed the Agreement in Lusaka Tuesday 20 November 2018. This paves the way to commence the implementation of the planned activities in the whole COMESA/tripartite region as well as at the targeted corridors and border areas in the COMESA region.

The Programme is financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), The project aims at increasing intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts.

This will be achieved through the reduction of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) across the borders, the implementation of the COMESA Digital Free Trade Agreements (FTA), the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreements (TFA), improvement of the Coordinated Management and the liberalization of the trade in services and movements of persons.

In her address, the Secretary general cited the lack of coordinated border controls, seamless exchange of information as well as Trade and Transport Corridor Monitoring System as some major causes of high freight costs in the COMESA region compared with other regions,” the Secretary General said:

“This programme will ensure trade policy liberalisation and infrastructure improvements, accompanied by improved border management and logistics are supported to reduce freight costs, increase competitiveness and fully exploit the economic potential of the COMESA region,” she said.

 

 

The final beneficiaries of the programme are the Member States and citizens of COMESA and the United Republic of Tanzania, either directly or indirectly through their central and regional and local administrations or public or semi-public institutions.

In his statement, Ambassador Mariani said: ” This EU-COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme is of utmost importance and will greatly contribute to the implementation of the New Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs recently launched by the EU,”

The programme is comprised of five key result areas: improved monitoring and removal of non-tariff barriers; enhanced implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement; Strengthen Coordinated Border Management and Trade and Transport facilitation; Improved levels of implementation of harmonised, science based Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Standards; and enhanced Trade in Services, free movement of persons, trade negotiations, intellectual property and trade promotions are supported.

Zambian Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce. Trade and Industry Mrs Kayula Siame, who was the chief guest at the event said with this Trade Facilitation programme, COMESA will have a more prioritized trade facilitation programme which will ensure simple and flexible rules of origin as well as dynamic systems for elimination of non-tariff barriers and the instruments for trade facilitation will be effectively and efficiently used.

COMESA Secretariat will be responsible for managing the overall coordination of this programme, with sub activities sub-delegated to Member States and other implementing agencies to ensure the greatest impacts and the best value for money.

 

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East African countries agree to strengthen regional integration through the continental free trade area
November 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Keep making Ghana proud – Bawumia to Ghanaian Peacekeepers
November 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Dr Bawumia pinning medals at a colourful ceremony

Dr Bawumia pinning medals at a colourful ceremony

Vice President of Ghana Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has commended personnel of the Ghanaian battalion currently attached to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), GHANBATT 85, for proudly flying the Ghana flag in the discharge of their duties.

Addressing a durbar of all ranks of the contingent at their operational headquarters at Al-Qawzah, Lebanon on Wednesday 21st November, 2018, Dr Bawumia urged members of the contingent not to rest on their oars but continue to maintain the high standards of discipline which has earned them commendation from all stakeholders.

Dr Bawumia was in Lebanon to witness the award of United Nations Medals to Ghana’s contingent attached to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

This is the first time in history that a Vice President has visited Ghanaian troops in Lebanon, although Ghana has supported UNIFIL with troops since the inception of the mission 40 years ago.

The 850 Officers and men of the GHANBATT 85, under the direct command of Lt Col Fiifi Deegbe, have been deployed with UNIFIL for the past 5 months, and have been engaged in promoting peace and security in the troubled Middle Eastern country, especially on its southern border with Israel.

“I congratulate the Commanding Officer, Officers, Men and Women of UNIFIL GHANBATT 85 for the impressive performance over the period. Your performance is a true reflection of the high standard of professionalism, diligence and discipline of all Ghanaian soldiers,” Vice President Bawumia stated.

“From the briefings we have been given, I am pleased to note that your effective and continuous domination of GHANBATT 85 Area of Responsibility as well as timely reaction to incidents have been highly commended by key stakeholders, notable among them, the Sector West Commander and indeed the UNIFIL Force Commander.

“Well done for the zeal and seriousness you attached to your duties at keeping the flags of Ghana and United Nations high. Special commendation to the Contingent Commander, Colonel Robert Ayi who is also the Chief Military Personnel Officer (CMPO) at the UNIFIL Headquarters for the guidance to the battalion. I urge you to display the same professionalism and commitment.”

Vice President Bawumia assured that Government on its part, will continue to provide logistical and other support to troops, not just in Lebanon, but in other peace keeping theatres as well as the entire Ghana Armed Forces.

 

“I wish to emphasize that Ghana as a nation must give our Contingent the best support we can, in return for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis in all international peacekeeping operations. In this regard, the Government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will ensure that you have the resources to match your commitments,” Vice President Bawumia pledged.

In a related development, the Sector West Commander of UNIFIL, Major General Stefano Del Col, assisted by Dr Bawumia, on Thursday 22nd November, 2018 pinned medals on the troops of GHANBATT 85 at a colourful ceremony at the battalion headquarters at Al-Qawzah, Lebanon on the occasion of the UNIFIL Medal Day.

 

 

 

 

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Akinwumi Adesina, Spearheading Good Governance by Leading Agricultural Innovation and Economic Growth of Africa
November 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
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You have raised high the flag of our country with patriotism, integrity and hardwork-Mutharika in tribute to fallen Malawian Peace Keepers
November 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Mitharika paying respects to the fallen heroes

President Mitharika paying respects to the fallen heroes

Statement by  President Professor Peter Mutharika Leading the nation in receiving remains of 6 Malawian Soldiers who died in the UN Peacekeeping in the DRC.

This is a painful day for us as a nation. Today, we lost heroes of peace for Africa. This is a painful loss for us as a country.
It is more painful to die for peace than to die for war. They died for peace! May their souls rest in everlasting peace!
Let me thank all peace lovers who stand with us in our time of loss and mourning. We thank the African Union and all countries who sent their words of sympathy from the AU Summit and within.
Let me thank the United Nations for being with us in fighting for peace and in our time of mourning.
On Saturday evening, the Secretary General of the United Nations called and offered his condolences to me, the families and to all Malawians.
In return, I told him that our sacrifice is painful. But I assured him that we will continue fighting for peace. Because fighting for peace is our duty to mankind.
Let me also commend the Malawi Defense Force for being an exemplary peace-keeping force wherever you go. From every part of the world, I receive reports of commendation that our Defense Force is known for discipline, loyalty, and effectiveness.
In life and death, you have raised high the flag of our country with patriotism, integrity and hardwork. That is what we are!
Neither death nor the enemy will stop us from being what we are!
We are warriors for peace! We are ambassadors of peace.
Our heroes of peace died because we love peace more than war. We never sent our soldiers to wage war. We sent our soldiers to keep peace.
Peace is a universal desire for mankind. Peace is a desirable condition of existence for all humans.
Above all, peace is precious, very precious!
Whether we are Christians or Moslems, we all unite in search of peace.
In their greetings Moslems always wish peace to one another:
As-salāmu ʿalaykum – meaning “Peace be upon you”.
The Quran itself encourages us to settle peace where others are fighting (Quran 49 Verse 9).
In Christianity, peace is the last treasure that Jesus left with mankind after he had finished all his work on earth. Upon ascending to heaven, Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” (John 14 verse 27)
Malawi is a peace-loving country because peace is fundamental belief upon which we are founded as a nation. In fighting for peace, wherever peace is under attack, we join the rest of the world that means well for humanity.
While some declare war on peace. We declare peace in war. When some attack peace, we will fight for peace.
May the Lord God make Malawi an instrument of peace in the world.
As a peace-loving society, let us bring peace where there is war.
And where there is hatred, let us bring love;
Where there is injury, let us bring forgiveness;
Where there is doubt, we bring faith. Where there is despair, we bring hope. Where there is sorrow, we bring solace.
May God bring solace to all grieving hearts today.
May the departed souls who died fighting for peace Rest in Everlasting Peace!
Thank you!
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