The 50th Anniversary of My First Speech at the United Nations And the Bitter Lesson I Learned
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Dr. Gary K. Busch*
During the 1960’s, after Sharpeville, the nations who comprised the United Nations embarked on a plan to restrict capital flows to the apartheid government of South Africa. They passed a number of rules and recommendations attempting to restrict the interaction between the South African Government and the major international banks. The UN’s Special Committee on Apartheid, under the chairmanship of Abdulrahim Abby Farah, the UN representative from Somalia, called a meeting of the Special Committee at the UN New York Headquarters, from 17-18 March, 1969, to discuss the role of the international banks in supporting South Africa and to make a plan to expand the campaign to get these banks to boycott capital interactions with the South Africans.
Invitees to the meeting were drawn from several U.S. groups active in the anti-apartheid movement. I was invited as the specialist on Africa from the United Auto Workers (UAW) and as a Board Member of the American Committee on Africa, led by George Hauser. I had been one of the main contacts for the African liberation struggle leaders who visited the U.S. and had taken many to the House and Senate Committees for meetings. I had also arranged their meetings with groups like SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and others. I was very pleased to be invited to the meeting and hoped to contribute my thoughts on the issue.
We convened in a large conference room in the UN where, in addition to the invitees, there was a substantial group of UN delegates from countries which supported the anti-Apartheid movement. The program opened with an introduction by Ambassador Farah and followed by speeches by the Algerian and Nigerian ambassadors. Oliver Tambo was there on behalf of the ANC and he made a speech. After several more speeches we were allowed to speak.
I was more than ready to speak. In fact, I was quite upset. I had just been looking at the day’s New Yok Times newspaper where I saw a quarter-page ad by the Chemical Bank of New York Trust headlined by the line “The American Capitalist”. It descried the role of the Chemical Bank in arranging a large loan and ancillary financing of a Japanese company to buy iron ore from South Africa. This was the very thing we were meeting to discuss and, with good effort, prevent. I rose and asked permission to read the text of the advertisement into the record of the Committee. I did so and then said “Here you have a major American bank financing apartheid. You should realise that this is no rogue bank; this is the official bank of the United Nations. Your salaries and expenses are paid through this bank. It has branches inside UN installations worldwide. If you want the world to support the Banks Campaign of the UN perhaps you can start with your own bank.”
After a moment of silence heated discussions broke out. Mr Reddy, the administrator of the Committee, confirmed that Chemical Bank was the official bank of the UN. Chairman Farah called upon the Algerian delegate and the Indian delegate to speech who pronounced their outrage at what I had discovered. They. believe it or not, agreed to send a telegram to the UN Secretary-General from the floor of the meeting requesting an urgent response and review. I suggested that the UN Secretary-General’s office was only six floors above us and I would volunteer to hand deliver it immediately. I was told this telegram was the normal procedure for UN business. We broke for lunch.
I was having lunch with Oliver Tambo who was quite pleased with the proceedings so far. He did say to me “You may feel that this was an important blow for the Banks Campaign, but don’t be fooled. Nothing will happen but chit-chat and pointing fingers. The banks will go on lending as usual”. He was wise. There were stories in the press; there were earnest discussions with the anti-apartheid groups; there were fiery speeches from the African delegates. What finally happened as the result of my speech was that the copywriter of the article at the newspaper lost his job. Everything else went, as Tambo promised, out of the minds of the Committee.
I was immensely proud that I had used my opportunity to speak at the UN with some effect but, in retrospect, I had learned an important lesson. One cannot move international institutions by speeches or embarrassment. The United Nations is a permanent compromise looking for problems to work on. It was a bitter lesson for me in my youthful naivete but helped to shape my future expectations. I attach the official Committee report on my intervention and a picture of me before my speech, with Ambassador Farah.
“Although sympathetic U.N. delegations were aware of and concerned about the bank campaign, it was again in 1969 that action look concrete form. In 1966, the General Assembly resolution on the policies of apartheid had appealed to all Slates to “discourage loans by banks in their countries to the Government of South Africa or South African companies,” but in March, 1969, during a Special Committee on Apartheid seminar held at U.N. headquarters, the question of Chemical Bank, a consortium member, being the bank located at the U.N., came to a head. By chance. Chemical Bank New York Trust Company had placed an advertisement in the New York Times the same day as the seminar meeting in which it lauded the bank’s role in securing a deal between South Africa and Japan for the sale of iron. This remarkable situation, where U.N. resolutions were in essence being ignored by the United Nations itself, resulted in proposals by the Special Committee to the Secretary General asking an investigation of Chemical Bank’s role at the U.N. This culminated in a General Assembly Resolution passed in November, 1969, which called upon the United Nations and its affiliates “to refrain from extending facilities to banks and other financial institutions which provide assistance to South Africa and firms registered there.”
* Dr. Gary K. Busch is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals
Celebrating Africa’s digital potential on UN Youth Day
August 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ime Archibong*
|Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates|
ACCRA, Ghana, August 12, 2019,Many things have been said about the future Africa and its potential, it has been called the Opportunity Continent, the Next Frontier and Africa rising, with all of these true. For me the excitement comes in how Africa can, and will one day lead in the digital economy, not only creating a better future for its young people, but for people across the entire continents, whether here in Africa or elsewhere like in Europe or the US.
Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates. As the world’s human population grows from 7.4 billion people to 8.2 billion people between now and 2025, 40% of that growth will come from Africa, and with more than 628 million people aged below 24, this young, dynamic and innovative population will become one of the most powerful engines of growth the world has ever seen.
Personally, I’ve always been so inspired by the creativity and talent across my home continent – whether it’s creating mobile phone apps which makes motorcycle taxis safer and more convenient, like in the case of Safe Motos in Rwanda and now DRC, or building technological solutions to solve agricultural challenges, like Plantheus, a recent graduate of Facebook’s (www.Facebook.com) NG_Hub Accelerator Program, we see people, especially youth, building solutions daily to local problems and needs. As eager and early adopters of technology, we’ll likely see the next wave of global digital innovations and apps coming from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.
Adoption of social media, mobile phones and mobile money are enabling Africa and its youth to leapfrog to the next wave of digital technology. This infrastructure is the foundation upon which so much innovation in Africa is built and will be built over the next five years. At Facebook, we’re committed to empowering young people to build their digital skills and harness them for the future – whether they are digital builders, developers or product innovators.
In the month of UN Youth Day, I’m delighted that we will be recognizing just some of these talents from across the region. Bringing together over 40 Facebook Community Leaders, SMBs, Entrepreneurs, Developers and Content Creators from across Sub-Saharan Africa, under the banner of ‘Celebrating Icons of Change and the Future of the Continent’ – celebrating the positive impact they are having in their community, something which is important to us here at Facebook.
Our commitment across the region remains strong, and Africa continues to be important for us, with this building on many partnerships, programs and initiatives already in place to help develop digital and entrepreneurial skills among young people. Whether it’s training SMBs through digital boot camps, helping interested youth to acquire digital marketing skills and placing them in employment, training women in leveraging digital solutions to grow their business, or bringing together 52,000 Developers from across 17 countries through our Developer Circles (http://bit.ly/2MbZe3t) program, we are excited to play a part in supporting the next generation of start-up founders, investors, developers and change makers.
As one of my favourite African proverbs says “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”, and we look forward to that tomorrow in the years to come.
BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE CONTROVERSY AND THE ESSENTIALITY OF EDUCATION
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election has ended, but the contest is ongoing at the tribunal. Politics is a mean game – and politicians devise every means to win. That ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is challenging the result doesn’t mean he won. He may have indeed lose and still be imploring the tribunal to return him elected. In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that he won doesn’t mean he actually did. He may have robbed Atiku and still be persuading the tribunal to pronounce him validly elected. Aside determining who really won, two major issues are before the tribunal: Atiku’s citizenship determination and Buhari’s certificate verification.
The suits are distinct. Deciding when and where to be born is beyond Atiku’s control, but Buhari could have averted the certificate controversy if he had devoted time to education. Atiku would be suffering for an action taking by the colonialist, if the court rules that he is not a Nigerian, but Cameroonian. The genesis of Atiku’s citizenship case is the 1884 scramble for, and partition of Africa. His citizenship may not have been a subject of litigation, if the western nations had not partitioned Africa. The tribunal thus has an unenviable task of determining Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president, on account of the West’s adjustment of his ancestral boundary, before he was born.
The testimonies and evidences presented at the tribunal revived Buhari’s certificate controversy which started in 2014. Buhari’s witness, Major-Gen. Paul Tarfa (retd) avowed that the Army never collected the certificate of the 1962 course officers during recruitment, as earlier claimed by Buhari. This landmark confession revealed Buhari’s claim that his certificate is with the military in 2014 is untruth. Nigerians thought then President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to withhold Buhari’s certificate in order to disqualify him for contesting. Suspicion brew after Buhari won the election and still couldn’t present his certificate, despite being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The certificate-with-the-military excuse became untenable.
Buhari did not attach his certificate to the 2019 presidential nomination form, as lawfully required. To make amends, Abba Kyari, the Chief-of-Staff to the President tendered the president’s Cambridge assessment international education certified statement of West African School Certificate (WASC). Kyari claimed he personally signed and collected the document on behalf of Buhari. Atiku’s counsel argued during cross examination that colleges don’t release certificate to third parties. This assertion is untrue. Colleges do release certificate to third party on the instruction of the graduate, but certain conditions must be met. Such includes, but not limited to: a letter from the graduate indicating that his/her certificate be released to a third party; and such party must provide a valid form of identification.
To strengthen his defense, Buhari brought in Oshindehinde Adewunmi, the Deputy Registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Nigeria to lead evidence in support of the document Kyari tendered. This unfortunately did more harm than good. When shown the document Kyari claimed to have collected on Buhari’s behalf, Adewunmi stated that the document is not a WAEC certificate, and he has never worked for the body that issued it. The witness said he cannot affirm the authenticity of the document because it does not bear his signature.
A comparison of the two documents Buhari presented – the Cambridge certified statement of WASC and the 1961 result sheet of the Provincial Secondary School Katsina – revealed some inconsistencies. One stated that Buhari sat for eight subjects, while the other stated he sat for six. The name on one is ‘Mohamed’ while the other is ‘Muhammadu’, although Buhari’s witness stressed that both names have the same meaning and are interchangeably used in Islam.
The discrepancies in the documents is making people opine Buhari would lose the case. Their argument is premised on Section 131 of the constitution, which states that ‘any contestant for the position of president of the country must have a minimum qualification of School Certificate or its equivalent’. However, they fail to take cognizance that Section 318 (1c) stated that ‘anyone with primary school certificate who has served in the Nigerian public or private sector, in any capacity, for a minimum of ten years is deemed to have the equivalent of a school certificate’. Buhari is thus qualified to contest and be president having served in the Army for over ten years. That however opens the door to new arguments.
The tribunal can only sack Buhari if his years of military service, which makes him qualify to be president under Section 318 (1c) is declared void. If Buhari joined the military with inadequate qualification, could his years of service be declared void? If Buhari was recruited into the military without a certificate and was not given a duration to produce it, who should be blamed? Buhari or the military? In any case, would it be fair to make Buhari suffer for the wrongs of the military recruitment board as the Supreme Court did to Ademola Adeleke in Osun?
The litigations and embarrassment the certificate scandal has brought upon Buhari could have been avoided if he had dedicated some time to scholarship. He had enough time to acquire more qualifications after General Ibrahim Babangida toppled his military regime in 1983. Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo — Buhari’s senior in age and in the military — bagged a Bachelor and Doctorate after he left office as President in 1999. Buhari is not an accidental president. His three unsuccessful race for the nation’s top job, cumulatively 12 years of aiming for president, is enough for him to have bagged a diploma or degree.
Buhari was yearning to lead but failed to prepare for leadership. This showed in his six-month late appointment of ministers in 2015. It is also manifesting in his abysmal performance and mishandling of sensitive national issues. His lack of ideas, narrow-mindedness and sectionalism is disintegrating the country and hampering growth. He has given little for every much expected. One cannot, in fairness, totally attribute Buhari’s shortcomings to insufficient education. The government of his predecessor who holds a doctorate was a colossal failure.
Nonetheless, that Goodluck Jonathan failed doesn’t mean Buhari should. Buhari’s underperformance hinge on his apologists cheering of wrongs. Justifying Buhari’s failure to get educated is moronic. Many of those defending him severely punish their children for not scoring ‘A’. They want their children to earn higher degrees, but passionately defend a president with a controversial certificate. Some of these apologists demand for Bachelor’s degree, National Youth Service Corps certificate, and five years working experience before they can hire and pay 70,000 Naira (about $200) per month. Such a brazen show of double standard is galling.
Sections 131 and 318 of the 1999 constitution needs to be amended. The framers made it possible for anyone to be president, so long as they can “read, write, understand and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission”. The best may never get to lead the rest if the constitution is not amended. The less educated ones would continue to govern; appointing and issuing directives to professors. Nigerian leaders, many of whom are not so educated, controls the resources and earn huge, while the professors and citizens earn peanuts. The professors that should be ruling the less educated are the ones conducting elections to bring them to power.
Nigerian education needs oxygen. The struggle to make ends meet has turned many professors to political job seekers and errand boy. High fees, vast unemployment, and inadequate reward for academic excellence is discouraging people from becoming educated. A friend once said “education is the master key” and “Bata re a dun kokoka” loosely translated “you would wear the best shoes if you’re educated” inspired many to invest in education, but they’ve gained nothing. Politicians and political thugs are the ones wearing the best shoes.
Everyone must endeavor to be educated despite the challenges and discouragements. Buhari and Osun state former governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke’s ordeal is a strong lesson that the education you fail to acquire may be all you need to win tomorrow.
Things are turning around for the good of the educated. Education is changing the game. Faster than anyone imagined. The educated ones are bringing innovation to businesses and taking over the jobs from the uneducated. Booking taxi through apps is gradually gobbling the job of the uneducated drivers. Many people view education has the ticket to working in an office, dressing corporate. No. Education ideally gives you a knowledge of the world around you and the skill to do things in a better way.
The case of Wunmi comes to mind. Wunmi is a female university graduate who studied mass communication, but earns a living from furnishing homes. She uploads furniture pictures on e-commerce platforms and contract artisans to produce them when she has order. The artisans’ inability to open and manage an e-commerce store is fetching Wunmi money. She wouldn’t have been an intermediary if the artisans are educated. She is earning huge, thriving and expanding, while the uneducated artisans are earning less. That’s the power of education. Buhari, Adeleke, and Wunmi are lessons. Learn.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
THE POLITICS OF MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENT AND SENATE’S SCREENING
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
After several knocks and post-inaugural countdown by Nigerians and the media, President Muhammadu Buhari bowed to pressure. He sent 43 ministerial nominees name to the Senate for screening. This action relit the Buhari leadership competence debate. The Buhari apologists applaud the president for making such crucial nominations in almost two months of his second term; a radical improvement from the first term which took him six months. On the other hand, the opposition contends that Buhari’s ministerial nominees list is uninspiring and untimely. They knock Buhari for not imitating Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom who constituted their cabinets immediately after swearing-in.
Without further ado, the Buharists averred that the Nigerian political climate and workings is different from that of South Africa, the United Kingdom, or any other country. Weighing in, this piece examines the factors that influenced Buhari’s choice and the nominee’s capacity to accomplish the Next Level agenda. It also appraises the quality of Senate’s screening and the relevance of the bow-and-go tradition.
The Lucky 43
Most of the political heavyweights in Nigeria survive on politics. Subtract all they’ve acquired through politics from their asset and you’ll realize why they spare nothing to perpetuate themselves in power. Those who lose elections and those who’ve served their term lobby for appointments. The Minister position is the most sought after. Not many lobby to be Ambassadors. They refrain from residing outside the country in order not to lose their political relevance and structures.
The president’s declaration that he would appoint only those he knows sent shivers down the spine of the hundreds lobbying for ministerial appointment. Many of them have not more than a distant political relationship with the president, but they were not deterred. They all intensified their lobbying through the first lady, the party chairman, and powerful presidential aides, but only 43 got selected.
Facts from 43
The 43 nominees comprise of 36 males and 7 females. Buhari didn’t fulfil his promise of giving 35 percent appointments to women. The youths are not represented as all the nominees are above 35 years. Per geopolitical zone, Buhari nominated 9 persons from the North West, 7 from the North East; 7 from the North Central; 7 from the South West; 7 from the South South; and 6 from the South East. Note that four zones has 7 nominees each, while the Northwest and Southeast has the highest (9) and lowest (6) nominees. The southeasterners are displeased with the margin. They are upset that Buhari selected nominees based on the votes he garnered per region.
During the last presidential election, Buhari scored 5,995,651 votes in the Northwest and a meagre 403,968 votes in the Southeast. It is thus politically not irrational for the Northwest to get more appointment than the Southeast. Moreover, the Northwest is made up of 7 states while the Southeast has 5. Notwithstanding, Buhari’s antecedent suggests that he would have picked less than 7 nominees from the Southeast, if the constitution didn’t mandate him to appoint ministers from every state.
One state in each region has two nominees, except the region where Buhari hails from: the Northwest. Two states in the region, Kano and Katsina have 2 nominees each. This is apparently because Buhari earned more votes in Kano than other states and Katsina is his state of origin. Abuja, the federal capital territory had no nominee. Some argue that Buhari excluded Abuja because the residents didn’t vote for him. That can’t be the case. The exclusion is most certainly an error the presidency is planning to correct.
Team 43 for 2023?
Retaining power in 2023 largely influenced Buhari’s ministerial choice. Majority of his nominees are career politicians who are more skilled in coordinating campaigns than providing good governance. Buhari is probably unmindful that the challenges bedeviling Nigeria requires the service of professionals, not politicians. His nominees comprise of 9 ex-governors, ex-lawmakers, and 12 immediate past ministers. 31 nominees are new to the job; an indication that Buhari is not so pleased with the performance of their predecessors or simply wish to change hands. That does not however tone down the obvious: Buhari sacrificed effective governance for political continuity.
It’s a season of political harvest for Buhari’s loyalists. The ministerial nominees list is an indication that those who worked assiduously for him in 2015 and 2019 would be enormously rewarded. The 43 prospective ministers are a perfect election winning squad. Buhari carefully selected the leading political lords across the states. He nominated the strong who lost elections to keep them active for 2023.
The stakes are getting high. Politicians with weak political structures are being discarded for the influential and powerful. Audu Ogbeh was replaced with George Akume who has many political disciples and a large pocket. Godswill Akpabio and Rotimi Amaechi are being re-energized to install APC in Akwa-Ibom and the South-South. Gbemisola Saraki’s is being strengthened to decimate Bukola Saraki’s political machineries. Olorunimbe Mamora’s nomination has further strengthened team Lagos and Bola Tinubu’s commitment to the 2023 project. Chris Ngige was reappointed to put structures in place for APC to win Anambra.
Timipre Sylva’s is being empowered to revive APC for victory in the forthcoming Bayelsa governorship election. Festus Keyamo is being wired for the 2023 governorship race in Delta State. Emeka Nwajiuba is being tasked to reunite APC and win Imo. The ministerial hopefuls are indeed a perfect election winning squad. Their appointment is to empower them with the federal might and resources they need to deliver victory for the APC in 2023. But one major thing that would determine whether 2023 would be theirs is their ability to take Nigeria to the next level.
The Next Level
The president’s ditching of technocrats for politicians who has no record of exceptional performance in public service may make his administration unpopular. He should have appointed technocrats to kick-start the implementation of his Next Level programs and keep them in office for at least two years. He could then bring in the politicians to continue. The technocrats shouldn’t be sacked. They should be retained as consultants to periodically offer professional advice and assist in formulating government policies. You may disagree with this position, but you can’t help agreeing that it is sensible to start a project with professionals who truly understands what to do and how to do it.
Ministerial appointments should be based on merit, not clout. Buhari must align with the national assembly to pass bills that would make politics unprofitable and corruption punishable by death, if he really wants to make a difference. He must also desist from placing politics above policy. The technocrats he nominated such as Sunday Dare and Pauline Tallen are too insignificant. Be expectant not. The assembled nominees have no solution to Nigeria’s multidimensional problems and would leave the nation worse than they met it. They would most certainly usher Nigeria into greater poverty, insecurity, inflation, and recession. Buhari has the capacity, but lacks the will to turn things around. So also the Ahmed Lawan led Senate.
The Quality of Senate’s Screening
Sending names of ministerial nominees to the Senate with their portfolios is one of the change Nigerians voted for, but never got. This has remarkably hindered the senate from properly grilling the nominees, who also cannot present their goals because they don’t know the ministries they’ll lead. The screening is fruitless. Ministerial nominees are proving their capacity, and the senate is assessing their ability to head a ministry they both don’t know. This fatal, but avoidable error makes the screening a valueless and purposeless exercise.
It is disheartening that the screening is more of endorsement than assessment. The senators’ asininity is shameful and disturbing. They were unable to ask salient questions, quote statistics, reference global happenings, and give recommendations that can move Nigeria forward. They were also unable to correct the erring and over ambitious nominees. None of them could educate Festus Keyamo that the Attorney General, an appointee of the executive, cannot unbundle the Supreme Court that is under another arm of government, the judiciary.
Nigerians are disappointed. Many are casting doubt on Senate President Ahmed Lawan’s capacity to objectively legislate and oversight. He is accused of rubber stamping. Lawan must swiftly redeem his reputation by providing quality leadership. Loyalty to the party and the presidency should not push him to be acting against public interest.
The Bow and go Soft-landing
The bow and go privilege for ex-lawmakers has outlived its significance. Asking nominees to bow and go without answering questions is a disservice to the nation. Lawmaking and administrating require different skills. That the nominees performed when they’re lawmakers – most actually didn’t – does not mean they would perform as ministers. Some of them never contributed to debates or sponsored bill when they were in parliament. Think. Does it mean that the Senate would ask all the 43 nominees to bow and go if they’re all ex-lawmakers?
It is appalling that 10 of the first 14 nominees screened by the Senate were asked to bow and go. Apart from the ex-lawmakers, nominees were asked to bow and go because they are handsome and loyal. Richard Adebayo was asked to bow and go because he is the current Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC. A nominee from the Senate President’s state also benefited.
Some nominees were asked to bow and go because they are women. Majority of the ex-ministers who should be asked to give an account of their stewardship and why Nigerians should reemploy them were just asked to bow and go. Rotimi Ameachi was awarded the privilege because he is an ex-Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; a position he occupied over 12 years ago. The bow and go privilege shouldn’t be a free-for-all or life time benefit. It has been brazenly abused and should be abolished. The world is moving and Nigeria must move along. We must adopt better ways of doing things for us to have a better nation.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via email@example.com
Ikimi, Ribadu and Politics of defection
September 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Theophilus Ilevbare*
In recent weeks the All Progressive Congress(APC) has been rocked with a tidal wave of defection of a founding member in Chief Tom Ikimi and the party’s 2011 presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to the party Nigerians loathe but can’t vote out of power at the centre, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). Ikimi’s grievance with the APC hierarchy stems from how he was barred from contesting the party’s chairmanship position.
The ease with which politicians decamp and recamp(return to a party one has left in the past) – the latest addition to Nigeria’s political lexicon – erodes any shadow of doubt if any ideological basis exists for much of what goes on in Nigeria’s political landscape. Defection has become the trade in stock of many politicians who have found such canvassing phrases as “there is no party that is exclusively for the good people or for the bad people,” reminding us of the sameness of the two major political parties as basis for cross carpeting.
Close observers of unfolding political events were not jolted by Chief Ikimi’s official resignation of his membership of the APC, after many weeks of withdrawal from party activities without disclosing his next political destination. His antecedents have shown he has no particular conviction. His political sojourn has seen him traversed the defunct APP, ANPP, ACN, PDP. The former Foreign Affairs Minister was a founding member of the APC. He was instrumental in the alliance that metamorphosed into the mega opposition party. It is only a matter of time before he recamps to the PDP. He has already expressed his readiness to join the ruling party and bring his wealth of experience to bear when members of the ruling party’s BoT, including Chief Tony Anenih and National Vice Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, led by the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, paid Ikimi an august visit.
Indeed, Ikimi and Ribadu, like every other politician and Nigerian, have every right to exercise their freedom of association with any political party in the country, but it should be consistent with the ideology and principle that defines the character of the politician and his political party.
However, the manner Chief Tom Ikimi and other founding members of the party like Alhaji Attahiru Bafawara, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Brig-Gen Buba Marwa (rtd), Mr Marcus Gundiri among others who helped to nurture the APC to mega status, have drifted to the PDP calls for concern and genuine fears for the future of the progressive party. When such party stalwarts dump the APC in droves, it is an indication that Bola Tinubu, who prides himself as the sole financier of the party, regrettably, is not upholding democratic principles in the affairs of his party. If the APC retains and wins more seats or otherwise in 2015, the party takes the credit, if not the APC will pay the price for his highhandedness. The buck stops with him. This is the party Nigerians are looking up to as an alternate platform to wrestle power from the PDP.
What shall we say of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu? He once described the PDP as a disaster and a total failure in his heyday in the APC. In the weeks leading up to the PDP governorship primaries for Adamawa state bye-election, the former anti-corruption czar joined the PDP, the only party he thinks on whose platform can make him realise his ambition to hold elective office. These days, he regales us with tales of the sameness of PDP and APC. He was quoted as saying ‘there is no party that is exclusively for the good people or for the bad people’ That Ribadu has taken a walk from the APC has raised all sort of personality and ideological issues particularly as it affects young Nigerians who hitherto looked up to such political figures for some sort of mentorship.
Consequently, many have called Ribadu’s character into question, especially those who were cynical about the manner he discharged his duties as EFCC Boss. He seem to have acted in character that is consistent with other Nigerian politicians even if his ‘intolerant’ and ‘ruthless’ stand against corruption gave him a garb of incorruptibility. Since he joined the murky waters of Nigeria’s politics, he has become a turncoat-in-waiting. Indeed, Ribadu the politician is different from Ribadu the crime fighter who once sat atop Nigeria’s foremost anti-graft agency.
Has Ribadu lost faith and confidence in the APC for allegedly selling out in the 2011 general elections to the PDP Goodluck Jonathan candidacy? If truly Ribadu was sacrificed by his own party whose attitude to winning the election was at best casual, as Ikimi submitted in his lengthy missive to Bola Tinubu, who sold out the party? Could it be that Ribadu’s heart and soul has never been with the APC since then? Has he been hobnobbing with PDP politicians all the while? Or maybe he thought to himself, if the party could sell out at the eleventh hour in 2011, there is nothing stopping the APC from repeating such this time?
Essentially, nothing separates a politician in party A from another in party B. The current wave of impeachment blowing across the country is yet another indication that politicians do not have any genuine intention to serve the people. They seek personal elevation and gains to quench their insatiable greed for power. It is this brand of politics that has thrown up charlatans in political offices and the present leadership bankruptcy in the country.
Elsewhere, lifetime commitments to political parties and ideologies are made that even transcends to generations unborn. Political parties have clearly defined principles that differentiate them from other parties.
Nigerian politicians suffer from compulsive obsessive disorder to occupy political office and will stop at nothing; defecting from one party to another, sponsoring terrorism, blackmail, cultism, rigging and all what not to clinch power. Their desperation to occupy political office and lack of political character cannot deepen democracy. To them, principle should never be an issue on the front burner, ideology and manifestoes mean nothing on the premise of the fallacy that the end justifies the means.
You can follow the writer on twitter @tilevbare.
Africa Leaders Summit presents opportunity to intensify talks on funding for malaria
July 31, 2014 | 0 Comments
Immunization at a clinic in Nigeria[/caption] The African Leaders summit, being held in Washington on August 4-6, will seek to advance trade and investment opportunities between Africa and the United States. Fifty African countries have been invited to convene and discuss ways of stimulating growth and opportunities across the continent. The event, the largest any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aims to forge stronger economic ties between the United States, Africa and other global markets. The theme of the summit is Investing in the Next Generation, with debate focusing on areas seen as critical drivers for economic growth, sustainable development, and security in the region. On the agenda are food security, leadership opportunities for African women in government and across civil society and health. The latter will see senior health policy makers, Ministers of Health and African leaders discuss current constraints to achieving shared health goals, including malaria. Economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa’s 48 countries is predicted to increase but will inevitably be uneven (19 are designated fragile and conflict-affected countries, 11 low income, 13 middle and seven upper-middle income). The International Monetary Fund predicts that four of the world’s six fastest-growing economies in 2014 will be in sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries are already seeing an increase in income per capita, although not necessarily an increase in quality of life, where issues around governance, inequality and access to education and healthcare are yet to be addressed. To ensure sustainable economic growth, continued efforts are needed to improve access to healthcare delivery systems, in particular in lower income malaria-endemic countries. Progress around malaria prevention and control has been well documented. World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that between 2000 and 2012, estimated malaria mortality rates decreased by 42 percent worldwide and by 49 percent in the African Region. Deaths in children under five are estimated to have decreased by 48 percent globally and by 54 percent in the African Region. The African Union and Roll Back Malaria have supported national commitments to creating health policy frameworks and government investment in reducing malaria is having considerable success in some countries. Despite this, malaria continues to pose a major constraint to economic development and remains a critical issue in most sub-Saharan African countries. There were an estimated 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2012 (WHO), mostly in sub-Saharan Africa (90 percent) and in children under five. The facts are hard to argue with. A case of severe malaria can change the course of a child’s life: mortality rates from other health related causes are significantly higher and, for those who survive, 19 percent suffer serious neurological and cognitive conditions, including impaired vision, behavioural difficulties and epilepsy. And it doesn’t just affect children. In Nigeria, for example, malaria is the cause of 11 percent of maternal mortality. The loss of a mother substantially increases the risk of infant mortality, while malaria in pregnancy results in severe anaemia increasing obstetric risk and causes low birth weight. In a country where malaria is the leading cause of child deaths, gains made in reducing the impact of the disease will remain fragile without sustained political and financial commitment. Last year, during the Abuja Summit in Nigeria, African heads of state and Government committed to step up the mobilisation of domestic resources to ensure sustainable financing for health, including malaria. And it can’t come too soon. Since the 1930s, there have been 75 documented local resurgences of malaria, the majority linked to decreased funding. Although countries with higher mortality rates and lower national incomes have seen increased investment in malaria control, especially in Africa, domestic government investments across the region are highest in wealthier countries and lowest in countries where malaria mortality rates are high. Malaria control has proven to be a highly cost-effective public health strategy. Lives saved from malaria are estimated to account for 20 percent of all progress in reducing child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, resulting in less infant and maternal mortality, fewer days missed at school and work, and increased productivity. It is widely accepted that poor health can undermine economic growth while good health can enhance it. Continuing to develop new interventions and strategies to prevent and treat malaria, including drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, is crucial to maintaining progress and mitigate against the threat of drug and insecticide resistance. The African Leaders Summit offers a timely opportunity to address constraints to achieving shared health goals. For all 50 countries, discussion around intensifying malaria control and elimination efforts and should be high on the agenda. *Michelle Davis is Senior Communications Manager at Malaria Consortium ,an international NGO working in malaria, neglected tropical diseases and child health. Malaria Consortium works in Africa and Asia with communities, governments and non-government agencies, academic institutions and local and international organisations to ensure evidence-based delivery of effective services. www.malariaconsortium.org ]]>
Why Would A Black Family Get An Aquarium Membership?
February 17, 2014 | 14 Comments
-In defense of my African Maritime Heritage By Sylvie Bello* [caption id="attachment_8573" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sylvie Bello[/caption] In celebration of Black History Month and the Cameroon’s National Youth Day observed on February 11th, I found myself battling stereotypical arguments. Interestingly, a membership to the Oklahoma Aquarium that I had acquired for my 4 year-old niece led to comments from some of my friends and associates that I was acting ‘White’. “How is an aquarium membership acting white?” I found myself pondering aloud. It came as a surprise to them that my decision to get the Oklahoma Aquarium membership was rooted in part because of my deep African Maritime Heritage. My niece Kayla Bello, lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is not only an ocean away from our native Cameroon in West Africa. Tulsa has no beaches and has very little aquatic environments. My family on other hand has a strong maritime background and it was my desire to pass that heritage to my only niece and to future Bello grand kids and descendants. My African Maritime story? Considering that Cameroon is named after River Wouri makes for an interesting historical reference. Briefly, the colonial oppressors upon seeing the multitudes of shrimps in the Wouri named it “Rio dos Camarões” (River of Shrimps). River Wouri runs into the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon. I was born and raised in Douala. Growing up, I enjoyed family time at the century old Ngondo Water Festival, the Yupe fish market, had my secondary school graduation picnic at the seaside Base Elf, we visited the Douala Maritime Museum and participating in many boating events in Douala. During Christmas vacations in my paternal village of Mbem in the North West Region of Cameroon, we enjoyed many aquatic activities from bathing and washing clothes in the river, fetching water, and water drumming. Anyone who has had that unique joy of spending time in an African village will know what I am taking about! My secondary school was spent at the prestigious Saker Baptist College, an all girls boarding school in the coastal town of Limbe in South West Region of Cameroon. Our family loved the black sand beaches of Limbe, which CNN recently praised in an extensive coverage. My Dad, Tah Ndi Majang Amos Ngaben Bello studied Geography and Hydrology at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon and at The Hague in Holland. He was an Administrator at the Sea Ports in Douala. Dad was born in Mbem Village in Donga-Mantung Division (on the Cameroon/Nigeria borders), which has with many rivers such as the Mantung River. Dad’s father did fishing and farming. Grandpa Ngaben talked of our ancestors freely swimming into present day Nigeria, this was before the ‘Scramble of Africa’ and the separation of families to form African ‘countries’. My maternal grandfather Papa Christophe Bienvenue Ngassa worked as a government delegate in charge of fishing and hunting licenses in Obala Cameroon’s rainforests. I look back and fondly remember grandpa Ngassa’s visits to Douala with gifts of all kinds of fish and meats. Today, a third generation of Bellos are continuing to explore and thrive in the Maritime field. Unlike the males of our family’s maritime past, this generation of Bellos in maritime are …women! Starting with me, as a teenager, my very first job was as a summer intern at ONPC now known as the Ports Authority of Douala. I returned to ONPC for many summer internships during my high school years. My sister Rita Bello did her university thesis on Sea Port Administration in Cameroon. While another sister, Manuella Bello has a Bachelor’s Degree in Maritime and Transportation Management and is a seasoned professional in the maritime industry. So, though the desire to share our family’s maritime heritage was a strong motivation, a book on Black scientists sparked my niece’s curiosity in aquatic life. You see, last December, my niece Kayla and I, participated in the annual Tulsa Kwanzaa Celebration organized by Ms. Latimer of the African-American Resource Center at the Tulsa Public Library. Several books were given out as favors; one of the books on Black scientists caught Kayla’s eyes. Astonishingly, of the five scientists highlighted in the book Kayla was most fascinated by the story of the great Black Marine Biologist Dr. Ernest Young. Amazing Kayla too may have caught the Bello aquatic bug! After reading the book, we ventured to the Tulsa based Oklahoma Aquarium. I mean, where else in the frigid winter can one show a child fishes and other maritime life? Where else can a child have dreams of being a marine biologists or a veterinarian? Furthermore, consider fishing as a recreation? To our great dismay, the Oklahoma Aquarium has never had a Black History Month event, even in its 10 years of existence. Additionally, its gift shop has zero books on Black scientists not even Dr. Ernest Just, who while a biology professor at Howard University, co-founded the 100+ old Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. With the national cry of Black children and low outcomes of not graduating high school, let alone majoring in college sciences, how can these STEM related institutions that get tax dollars, get away for so long with little or no outreach and culturally sensitive programs for the Black community? Its a good thing that Kayla’s interest in aquatic life was sparked by a Kwanzaa Book donation at the library and her family’s heritage. What about other Black kids who couldn’t get books on scientists or who may not have family members to nurture such interests? They depend on our tax dollars to reach them, and aquariums, that do not have Black History Month events and Black themed books in their gift shops, I believe are failing such kids and failing America as a whole. Thus we as a country cannot fully fulfill President Obama’s wish to out-perform and out-innovate the rest of the world, when (some) scientific institutions are not actively engaged in African American outreach and inclusion. Makes me wonder, how many other aquariums across the US will not have Black History Month Events in 2014. What motivations does the Oklahoma Aquarium need to celebrate African American heritage? Ironically, could it be that my associates were right? Do aquariums not cater to a diverse base? Should obtaining aquarium membership be only for White families? Hmmm. *Sylvie Bello is Founder and CEO of the Cameroon American Council, the leading national African Immigrant Advocacy Organizations in the USA. She was recently recognized by the Cameroon Association of Tulsa for her outstanding community work. When Sylvie is not advocating on African immigrant priorities in immigration, health, education,and food policies, she is a volunteer at the Walters Arts Museum, the Shakespeare’s Theatre Company and the Ford’s Theatre. Sylvie’s eclectic post-college life includes being an Interior Decorator, Accounting/Finance Manager, , Presidential Campaign staffer, TV Reporter, Non-Profit Executive and Leadership roles on the boards of her sorority Omega Phi Chi Multicultural Sorority and the board of her boarding schools alumni (Saker Baptist College and CPC Bali).Sylvie splits her time betweenTulsa, New York City,and Washington,DC. Sylvie Bello can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org ,Twitter: @CamAmerCouncil ]]>
Nigeria :Is APC the New PDP?
December 27, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Chido Onumah*
While the merger process of Nigeria’s main opposition parties – which led to the formation of the APC – lasted, I had reason to engage some of my comrades, colleagues and friends on whether the APC was necessarily a progressive move in the quest to reclaim Nigeria.
Even with all the misgivings and the seemingly lack of direction of the proposed party, some of us held out hope, partly because of the pedigree of certain individuals in the party and the fact that it afforded a broad-based platform and an opportunity for many Nigerians who were looking for a formidable pan-Nigerian opposition party.
At the risk of being dismissed as opportunists, some of us took the stand that the APC should be given the benefit of the doubt; that within the context of bourgeois democracy, the APC looked like a minimum agenda for change and therefore should be supported by all, including left and radical elements; that as a minimal strategy, genuine democrats and progressives could actually work in the APC to break the stranglehold of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on power and begin the urgent task of national reconstruction.
I am not sure I hold the same view today. This piece is not a repudiation of my former position but a review that has become necessary in light of the current reality. The general direction of the APC has not been that of a party that understands the mood of the people and the anger in the country against a profligate ruling class that has used party politics as a channel to loot the national treasury and impoverish Nigerians. That anger manifests each time APC leaders cozy up to the same people Nigerians hold responsible for the current crisis.
It started with visits to former military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) and former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, but it didn’t stop there. Of course, we know IBB and what he stands for. I have been asking myself, since the pilgrimage began, the purpose and the end result. Regrettably, the leadership of the APC has failed to explain the rationale for this unholy alliance and the benefit, if any, to its bewildered rank and file.
For me, the last straw was the image that made headlines during the week; the image of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, a man so violently consumed by self-interest, standing shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of the APC. Obasanjo needed that photo opportunity to save face after a scathing public rebuke by his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo. But for the APC it was a new low for a party still struggling to make an impression on Nigerians. I believe every party worth its salt must have basic beliefs and values that it must uphold at all times.
It was bad enough that Nigerians expecting a change in the political landscape witnessed APC leaders pandering to Chief Obasanjo; the reasons adduced for the visit left a bad taste in people’s mouth. “You have come out of tribulation and held the highest position in this country. We are here because of your courage. Nobody can claim that he has information more than you,” Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the APC said of Chief Obasanjo. “You have surmounted a number of crises. Nigeria is divided (now), more than before. To realise a stable Nigeria we want to encourage you to continue to speak the truth. We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you as navigator.”
Asiwaju Tinubu noted that the visit was not necessarily to get Chief Obasanjo to join the APC but “just to draw from the experience of an elder statesman.” What is Obasanjo’s experience? What readily come to mind are coups, a legacy of corruption, abuse of human rights, criminal impunity, undermining the rule of law and, of course, a dysfunctional family.
The inimitable Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, captured the popular sentiment in his terse statement on the APC visit to Chief Obasanjo when he noted, in reference to Chief Obasanjo’s new role as the “navigator” of the APC rescue ship. “If General Sani Abacha were alive today, would he also have been on the ship’s complement? As Captain perhaps?” Soyinka asked, while warning that the country might be headed for a shipwreck. He advised “families to begin the stockpiling of life-belts for the guaranteed crash.”
I think this is a warning we have to take seriously. Exactly two years ago, Asiwaju Tinubu had this to say about Obasanjo and his experience: “What integrity has Obasanjo in terms of his legacies for Nigeria to speak on elections? Apart from his aborted third term ambition, he brought about and left a legacy of electoral corruption in the country. What is Obasanjo talking about? He should go away and retire in shame politically. He should leave the political landscape of this country alone. He brought a whole salad of corruption, manipulation and failures.”
What a difference two years make! Nothing captures Chief Obasanjo’s legacy better than the preceding paragraph. What will Obasanjo bring to the APC? A mass following needed to defeat the PDP in 2015? While Obasanjo was lambasting President Jonathan in an 18-page open letter and explaining how he (Jonathan) was destroying the PDP, he was busy scheming – at least we learned that much from Iyabo Obasanjo’s letter – how his daughter will run for office on the platform of the APC.
I know in war, as in politics, there are no eternal allies or perpetual enemies, but eternal and perpetual interests, to paraphrase Henry John Temple, (Lord Palmerston), mid-19th century British prime minister. However, I couldn’t help but squirm when I saw the picture of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), a three-time presidential candidate, beside Chief Obasanjo in the APC train; the same Obasanjo he had alleged violated the sanctity of the electoral process twice and denied him the presidency.
The APC is better served spending time strengthening the party in terms of an ideology and building a mass base rather than consorting with the likes of Chief Obasanjo and Gen. Babangida (retd.) Without this mass base, the party will implode in no time. But it appears that is asking too much of a party focused on short-term political gains.
It is a lot easier to open the floodgate of defection for those who are disaffected within the PDP; and the defectors are coming like flies attracted to feaces. At the current rate, the “original” APC will soon be a minority in the new formation. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with people defecting from one party to another. But that is if you are talking of parties with “character” so that, in the case of the APC, the “newcomers” will have to play second fiddle and fall in line with party principles and positions.
I don’t want to sound sanctimonious or puritanical. A political party, we know, contains “the good, the bad and the ugly”. But when you have a party that claims to be progressive recruiting people who are not in the least interested in a genuine discussion about the interest of Nigerians and at the same time acting as if its survival depends on that recruitment then there is reason to be wary.
I know a few leaders of the APC who are not particularly thrilled by the visits to “yesterday’s men” and what appears to be an alliance of desperation between the APC and the “new PDP”. But clearly, they simply can’t resist the only thing that seems to bind them together – the removal from power of President Jonathan.
Is APC a “progressive” party as the name implies, even in the limited sense of the word or just an association of those opposed to, not necessarily the PDP, but President Jonathan? The APC and the “new PDP” may well win in 2015. And after that what next? What will be the dominant tendency in the party? I am offended to think that I’ll sit down, if that opportunity will ever come, with Obasanjo, IBB, Kawu Baraje, Bukola Saraki, Ali Modu Sheriff, Ahmed Sani Yerima, etc., to discuss the welfare of Nigerians. If the prospect of that doesn’t scare APC faithful, then nothing else can!
Is the APC agenda about removing President Jonathan or rescuing Nigeria? If it is the former, then a revolutionary third force or in the minimum a coalition of small but progressive and mass-oriented parties is the only alternative!
The body language of APC leadership is that this is our party, our business, and we can damn well do anything we want with it. If that is the case, then voters have little or no choice as we head into the election of 2015.
**Chido Onumah Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in Abuja .He can be reached at email@example.com,Twitter: @conumah .
South Africa: Desmond Tutu Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela
December 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
BY DESMOND TUTU*
Cape Town — Nelson Mandela is mourned by South Africans, Africans and the international community today as the leader of our generation who stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries — a colossus of unimpeachable moral character and integrity, the world’s most admired and revered public figure
Not since Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Nyerere and Senghor has Africa seen his like. Looking for comparisons beyond Africa, he will go down in history as South Africa’s George Washington, a person who within a single five-year presidency became the principal icon of both liberation and reconciliation, loved by those of all political persuasions as the founder of modern, democratic South Africa.
He was of course not always regarded as such. When he was born in 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo, he was named Rolihlahla, or “troublemaker.” (Nelson was the name given to him by a teacher when he started school.) After running away to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage, he lived up to his name. Introduced to politics by his mentor, Walter Sisulu, he joined a group of young militants who challenged the cautious elders of the African National Congress, founded by black leaders in 1912 to oppose the racist policies of the newly-formed union of white-ruled British colonies and Afrikaner republics.
After the Afrikaner Nationalists came to power in 1948, intent on entrenching and expanding the dispossession of blacks, confrontation became inevitable. As the new government relentlessly implemented one racist, repressive law after another, the ANC intensified its resistance until its banning in 1960, when it decided that, having exhausted all peaceful means of achieving democracy, it had no option but to resort to the use of force.
Madiba, the clan name by which South Africans refer to Nelson Mandela, went underground, then left the country to look for support for the struggle. He received it in many parts of Africa — undergoing military training in Ethiopia — but he failed to get meaningful support in the West.
Upon his return to South Africa, he was captured by the police and first imprisoned for inciting strikes and leaving the country illegally. Two years later he was brought from prison to face charges, along with other leaders, of preparing for guerrilla warfare. At the end of the trial, they were all sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1964, Madiba was sent to Robben Island prison off the coast of Cape Town as a militant guerilla leader, the commander-in-chief of the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, committed to overthrowing apartheid by force. When he emerged from prison in 1990, his eyes damaged by the blindingly-bright limestone quarries in which prisoners had been forced to crush rock, and having contracted tuberculosis as a result of prison conditions, he might have been expected to come out hell-bent on revenge and retribution. White South Africans certainly feared so. On the other side of the political spectrum, some of his supporters feared that after campaigners had lionized his role in the struggle, he might turn out to have feet of clay and be unable to live up to his reputation.
None of this would turn out to be so. Suffering can embitter its victims, but equally it can ennoble the sufferer. In Madiba’s case, the 27 years in jail was not wasted. Firstly it gave him an authority and a credibility difficult to attain in other ways. No one could challenge his credentials. He had proved his commitment, his selflessness through what he had undergone. Secondly, the crucible of excruciating suffering which he had endured purged the dross, the anger, the temptation to any desire for revenge, honing his spirit and transforming him into an icon of magnanimity. He used his enormous moral stature to good effect in persuading his party and many in the black community, especially young people, that accommodation and compromise were the way to achieve our goal of democracy and justice for all.
At talks which the Methodist Church’s leader, Dr. Stanley Mogoba, and I convened, to try to settle the differences between the ANC and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party, Madiba went beyond his mandate to offer Dr. Buthelezi a senior position in the post-apartheid government, even the post of foreign minister. Yet Madiba was no pushover in negotiations: when black South Africans were being massacred during the transition by forces trying to retain the power which apartheid gave them, he could get livid with indignation at the government’s failure to prevent the killing — so much so that once a union leader came to see me, saying he was worried that Madiba’s intransigence would wreck the talks.
When freedom came in 1994 and he became president, instead of baying for the blood of those who had oppressed and ill-treated him and our people, he preached a gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation. He invited his white former jailer to his inauguration. He flew to a remote rural Afrikaner enclave, set aside as a refuge for those who could not stomach black South Africans ruling an undivided country, to meet the widow of the prime minister who was recognised as the architect and high priest of apartheid. He invited to lunch the prosecutor who had sent him to jail. And who in South Africa will ever forget the day at the rugby World Cup in 1995, memorably celebrated in the film, â€œInvictus,â€ on which he donned the Springbok rugby jersey of green and gold — formerly despised in the black community as a symbol of apartheid in sport — and inspired the team to victory, with tens of thousands of whites who barely five years earlier had regarded him as a terrorist, chanting in the rugby stadium, “Nelson, Nelson.”
Having set out in prison to learn his enemy in his dealings with his warders, and with a shrewd grasp of human psychology, he realised that Afrikaners were feeling threatened and sore, having lost political power and thinking they would lose even their cherished symbols. In a master-stroke, he had them eating out of his hand, defusing the potential for instability. As president, and afterwards, he worked tirelessly, a prodigal spendthrift as he raised funds for schools and clinics in rural areas. Business leaders would receive an invitation to join him for the day, and he would take them by helicopter to a remote village and ask them to donate money for a school. And he used part of his president’s salary to set up the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and later established his foundation for charitable works.
At the end of his first term, Madiba made another contribution of enormous importance to South Africa and the continent: he refused the second term to which the Constitution entitled him, and went into retirement, setting himself apart from those African leaders who don’t seem to know when to leave office.
Madiba had faults. His chief weakness was his loyalty to his comrades and to the party for which he spent nearly three decades in prison. He allowed poorly-performing ministers to stay in office for far too long. He failed to comprehend the scale of the HIV/Aids crisis — although later, after he had left office, he saw he had been wrong. Realising his mistake, he appeared before the leadership of the ANC to try to persuade the party to take the crisis more seriously, and was attacked by his colleagues for doing so.
I disagreed with him a number of times, firstly over his government’s decision to continue to manufacture and trade in weapons and over Parliament’s insensitive decision to grant itself big pay increases soon after coming to power. He attacked me publicly as a populist, but he never tried to shut me up, and we could laugh over our tiffs and remain friends. On one occasion during the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of our commissioners was accused of being implicated in a case before a commission. Madiba appointed a judicial inquiry to look into the claims and when its report was complete, I had a telephone call from his secretary asking for contact details for the commissioner. I told her that I was upset with the President: as chairperson of the commission, I should know the findings of the inquiry first. Within minutes Madiba personally called back to apologise and acknowledge that he was wrong. People who are insecure and uncertain of themselves find it hard to apologise; Madiba showed his greatness by his willingness to do so quickly and fulsomely.
He was amazing in his selfless altruism for others, recognising — just as did a Mahatma Gandhi or a Dalai Lama — that a true leader exists not for self-aggrandisement but for the sake of those he or she is leading. Sadly, his personal life was marked by tragedy. Sacrificing personal happiness for his people, prison separated him from his beloved wife, Winnie, and his children. He was deeply distressed that while Winnie was being hounded and persecuted by the police, and later became caught up in the machinations of people who surrounded her, he was forced to sit helpless in his cell, unable to intervene. While worrying about Winnie, and grieving for his mother, he lost his eldest son, Thembi, in a road accident.
Soon after his release my wife, Leah, and I invited Nelson and Winnie to our Soweto home for a traditional Xhosa meal. How he adored her: all the while they were with us, he followed her every movement like a doting puppy. Later, when it was clear their marriage was in trouble, I spent some time with him. He was devastated by the breakdown of their relationship — it is no exaggeration to say that he was a broken man after their divorce, and he entered the presidency a lonely figure.
It was all the more wonderful then when he and Graca Machel, the eponymous widow of Mozambique’s founding president, Samora Machel, found love together. Madiba was transformed, as excited as a teenager in love, as she restored his happiness. She was a godsend. He showed a remarkable humility when I criticised him publicly for living with her without benefit of matrimony. Some heads of state would have excoriated me. Not this one. Soon afterwards I received an invitation to his wedding.
The world is a better place for Nelson Mandela. He showed in his own character, and inspired in others, many of God’s attributes: goodness, compassion, a desire for justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. He was not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised.
*Desmond Tutu is Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, the 1984 Nobel Peace laureate and, most recently, the recipient of a Mo Ibrahim Foundation Special Award and the 2013 Templeton Prize
My Appeal To Young women: Be the agents of Change Africa Needs
January 24, 2013 | 1 Comments
By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje*
I was recently reading a book about Africa Changers by Bishop Ed Bilong from Cameroon and it got me thinking about a Youth21 Forum I attended in 2012 hosted by UNDP and UNHABITAT. It was a very insightful meeting and I was inspired to return to Zimbabwe to do the most amazing possible things so as to transform not just my nation but Africa as a whole. What Bilong stimulated recently was the perspective of Africa and how as a young feminist leader I am able to make things happen from where I currently stand. As a result of this inspiration, I thought it worthwhile to share a few insights to fellow African sisters and us all so we can begin to take the necessary steps to transforming not just our lives but the lives of those around us. Knowing oneself and leaving a legacy will be the two aspects I will focus on.
Introspection is a painful yet very necessary journey. In Africa today, women and young women in particular occupy the periphery of leadership. The reasons are best known to the powers that be but one thing for sure is that nothing will be handed to women on a silver platter. In that regard, it is important that as young women leaders, we take a stance to get to understand ourselves better and recognize where our strengths lie and manage our weaknesses enough to ensure that we create opportunities and where they are presented to us we occupy them. It is therefore necessary that at whatever leadership level and with particular reference to governance where 50-50 representation lacks greatly, young women begin to take steps to empower themselves and lead as best as they can. It will not be an easy road but it is possible hewn we focus to know ourselves and what we can offer and do just that, lead!
Generally, Africans are known to want to acquire and do not have the heart to maintain and sustain. Young women of this generation who are faced by very high unemployment rates and education curriculums that do not match the requirements of the workforce industry need to wake up and face the reality that this is the time to create employment and not seek it. Looking at whatever is within our means so as to acquire what is already in existence or create what is possible, young women have to leave a legacy for generations to come. Be gone to this nationalist talk where some have decided to utilize it as an avenue to abuse power and follow selfish personal ambitions. Young feminist changers can ensure that today they can decide to leave a lasting legacy that will inspire generations to come so that they too can acquire, maintain and sustain whatever is trusted within their care.
As the continent continues to make slow and steady strides of progress, women have to been more assertive. Despite cultural barriers which keep doors of opportunity shut for women, there is the potential for things to change. The women have the numbers, there are getting more educated and in all spheres of life, there have been ample examples to show that there can fare as well as men if not better in the face of equal opportunity. It is inspirational to see two female Presidents in the continent in the person of Joyce Banda of Malawi and Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia. It is great to see that the President of the African Union Dr Dhlamini Zuma is a female. From sports, to entertainment, entrepreneurship et al, women are taking charge and the trend must continue. Not to forget our very own Thokhozani Khupe, Joyce Mujuru and Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga who have braved the male dominated political sector in Zimbabwe to ensure that women’s voices are integrated into political leadership – what an inspiration!
Finally, a word of wisdom is that nothing will be handed to the younger female generation on a silver platter so now is the time to begin to ensure that we decide what we want and we go for it. Thabo Mbeki during the Forum mentioned earlier, urged the younger generation to make a difference to ensure that Africa becomes a force to reckon with and not just hang out waiting for the next best thing. If young women can stand as mothers, sisters, aunts and all sorts, it is very possible that they may know themselves better, create, acquire and leave a lasting legacy. There is no limit to our potential so let us go for it and make Africa worth the glory and change!
* Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje is a young feminist leader from Harare, Zimbabwe. Currently she is the Director of Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP). Grace is the Vice Chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and board member of Centre for Community Development in her efforts to contribute to the democratization process of Zimbabwe
Recolonizing Africa Through International Criminal Justice
January 18, 2013 | 3 Comments
By Charles Taku*
A) THE HARD QUESTIONS.
It is appropriate for me to state right away that Africa is sick; very sick indeed. International crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and lately crimes of aggression abound in Africa and must be investigated and punish. However, as I pointed out elsewhere, international crimes have no ethnicity, race, nationality or religion. That is the reason why the UN Charter prohibits selective and discriminatory policies. Inspired and drawing from the UN Charter, International Law, in particular International Human Rights and International Criminal Law expressly prohibit selective and discriminatory application and enforcement of the Law established by its respective conventions and covenants.
Much as crimes perpetrated in Africa must be vigorously investigated and punished within credible independent, legal frameworks with the territories of the countries in which such crimes have been perpetrated as well as the International legal institutions, including the ICC, the Ad Hoc Tribunals and Courts that the International Community may set up to deal with the situations, where such efforts are perceived to have been carried out through deliberate discriminatory and selective policies over a period as long as a decade, it must be condemned with the same vehemence as we condemned the crimes that are subject of the discriminatory and or selective processes. Doing so is consistent with the intendment of the UN Charter and the Statute of the various Courts and Tribunals set up to trial international Crimes and promote and or protect fundamental human rights of which fundamental fairness is a critical component.
It is within this context that I must emphasize for the purpose of this paper that the preamble of the United Nations (UN) Charter states that the United Nations was created “ To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time, has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.
The human rights basis for the creation of the UN is firmly stated in articles 1 (3), 55 (C) from which all International Human Rights Conventions as well as the Statutes of International Courts and Tribunals derive their legality and legitimacy. It is my considered opinion that the United Nations has failed to reasonably invoke and apply these stated goals in resolving Africa’s problems. Where the UN has intervened, it has done so selectively and humiliatingly against the interest of a majority of the people and contrary to the goals and standards set out in its charter, general principles of international law and custom. The exacerbation of bloody armed conflicts on the African continent in 2012, despite what may be construed as largely selective, discriminatory, politically motivated, timid efforts deployed by the UN and the International Community to address the situations supports this harsh judgment.
This assessment finds support from an unusual source. President Paul Biya of Cameroon, one of the longest serving dictators in Africa, whose human rights record and democratic credentials are among the worst in the world, harshly criticized the UN record in the enforcement of its charter mandate, and questioned its relevance in a feisty address to the Diplomatic Corps in Yaounde on January 3, 2013. This charge coming as it were, from one of the promoters of the culture of impunity on the continent and a noted violator of international law ascertained from his refusal to engage in constructive dialogue ordered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights with representatives of the Southern Cameroons under its auspices since April 2009 to resolve constitutional and other arrangements, carries particular significance. In the pugnacity of his criticism, a careful observer will readily discern that he spoke for the majority on the African continent when he charged that the UN has failed Africa in time of need, critically, within its half decade of cosmetic independence from colonial rule.
Significantly, citing the “ high level meeting on the rule of law that was held in New York on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly, which dwelled on the primacy of international law in conflict resolution as well as the key role of International Court of Justice and the Security Council”, President Paul Biya, lamented the fact that “ the international situation is marked politically by a number of persisting stalemates and outbreak of open conflicts the laudable efforts of the Secretary-General and the influence of major powers have failed to resolve or appease”.
On the Middle East situation between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr Biya accused the major powers of sacrificing the merit of the case for their strategic interests. On the Syrian civil war, he wondered “how many more deaths will it take to move the international community?”
Underscoring with regret that many on the African Continent were sacrificed in their quest for a just transition from “authoritarian regimes to democracy”, he cited examples South of the Sahara, namely the cases of Mali, where parts of its national territory is illegally occupied by armed factions, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( DRC) which has been “ temporarily invaded by forces with outside support and is consequently not under the authority of the central power” and the Central Africa Republic which faced the risk of a civil war. According to Mr Paul Biya, this non exhaustive list of unresolved and escalating conflicts underscore the fact that international law is violated with impunity; compelling him to ask the following questions for which I will provide some answers since like many progressive voices on the continent, I had addressed the same issue in the past:
Quote: “Does the United Nations Organization, which is supposed to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Charter, have the means to accomplish its mission, when such provisions are openly transgressed?
– Or is it limited only to making resolutions and recommendations, sending observer missions or peacekeepers, often in insufficient numbers?
Of course, I am aware that the issues I have raised have been discussed in the Security Council where disagreement between the permanent members made it impossible to consider any decisive action.
But such helplessness in the face of acute crisis situations severely affects the image of the United Nations. It only emphasizes the urgent need for reform of the composition and functioning of the Security Council.
If the provisions of the Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions, and if the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power, then one cannot help being worried about the future of international democracy”. End of quote.
Before venturing to provide answers to the questions, I wish to state that in adopting the position of the majority against which he has fought for most of his 30 years of dictatorial rule, President Paul Biya hoped to hoodwink and manipulate international public opinion and preposition himself as a leader within the emerging pro-people African Revolutionary Movement that has laid down the fundamental basis for the rightful ideological perspective on how to rescue Africa from the current international ideological drift that emerged after the cold war.
I should place on record therefore, that Mr. Paul Biya pays lip service to the values he preached. For example, in February 2008, Mr Paul Biya followed the trend of other dictators in Africa, in particular Francophone Africa in manipulating and changing the constitution of his country, to eternalize power. On his orders, armed soldiers slaughtered more than 148 documented armless citizens who were among the millions who protest the power grab; making him one of the dictators who sacrificed his own people in their quest for a just transition from his “authoritarian regime to democracy”.
The group of progressive African leaders he hoped by this speech to find a spot among include champions of the African causes like President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, amongst others. Apart from being the voice of Africa within international circles, their leadership in this evolving political, economic and democratic ideological movement derives from their record in advocating and the promotion of fair and independent international rule of law on the African Continent and their record in the promotion of dialogue, peace and reconciliation at home and abroad. As the struggle for the soul of Africa in 2013 and beyond intensifies, the possibility exists that many more dictators will make frantic attempts, genuine or otherwise, to seek the spot light in this progressive train which is moving Africa away from the neo-colonial bondage that they in their puppetry plunged the troubled continent.
Be this as it may, the questions asked by Mr Biya without providing adequate answers are weighty and I must venture to provide answers where necessary.
B) CRITICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
Question: Does the United Nations Organization, which is supposed to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Charter, have the means to accomplish its mission, when such provisions are openly transgressed?
Answer: The answer is clearly yes. The UN has the means to accomplish its mission, if I and when doing so will advance the strategic interest of the so-called super powers. In the particular case of Africa, the so-called super powers and their Western allies are aware, and have done all to underscore the fact that the at the creation of the UN in 1946, Africa was not a subject of International Law; for which reason, the provisions of the Charter did not apply to Africa. These Western countries were still enjoying the fruits of the criminal dehumanization of Africa that commenced with the Slave Trade and accentuated at the Berlin Conference in 1884.
This explains why countries like France, a victim of International Crimes permitted by Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War, joined most Western Countries to perpetrate egregious international crimes against Pro-independence Movements within colonial territories and former German “possessions” from 1948, a complete mockery of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was promulgated to reaffirm the UN Charter protection of “ faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.
President Paul Biya correctly cited cases in Africa where UN resolutions have been violated and impunity continued unsanctioned. Notable in this regard is the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he stated, parts of its national territory has been “temporarily invaded by forces with outside support and is consequently not under the authority of the central power”.
In the case at bar, it may be safe to state that, consistent with the UN and International Human Rights investigative reports more than six million people have been slaughtered or died from the effect of the war in the East of the DRC. The presence in the region prior to and after independence of the super powers during the perpetration of these crimes cannot be reasonably contested. Indeed, the DRC was a major cold war battleground on the African Continent and remains a spoil of war in the hands of colonial and neo-colonial political and economic interests. Rwanda and to a lesser extent Uganda that has supported and sustained the rebellion in the East of Congo have done so first as proxies of foreign economic interests and for the pecuniary benefits of political leaders in both countries.
It is also not reasonably disputed that Rwanda is not endowed with mineral resources. However the Semi Official New Times of Kigali reported that President Kagame in his address to the Nation on the occasion of the New Year revealed without elaborating that
“the mining sector continues to play a big role in growing our economy. This year, revenue from mineral resources totaled close $ 128 million and is expected to rise which will result in more benefits for Rwandans, including additional employment”.
The UN had long established that one of the motivations for the involvement of neighboring and foreign countries in the war in the DRC was to illegally exploit its vast mineral resources. The neighboring countries did not seriously contest the findings. Rather they intensified their intervention, and with it the acts of impunity which have presented the UN as powerless to bring these regional leaders to justice.
The ICC which was created by the international community to fight impunity after more than a century of the search for a standing international court has been largely ineffective, preferring to squander scarce resources to go after peripheral individuals in cases that have exposed its irrelevance as an impartial, credible, independent weapon to fight impunity and uphold the rule of law. In its selective politically motivated interventions in situations in Kenya, Libya, Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan and Uganda, it has exposed itself to criticism right or wrong as a neo-colonial tool of regime change, and defense of Western interests, particularly world powers that have not ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute. In Uganda, like in Kenya, it scuttled serious attempts to employ the greatest contribution that Africa has made to International Law, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and other more viable avenues of conflict resolution in settling the disputes and bringing about justice to victims and reconciliation to the countries concerned.
The rather aggressive and haughty posturing by the erstwhile Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo was widely resented by most African countries, including those like Uganda which made the referral in the first place, and hampered state co-operation without which the ICC cannot effectively execute its mandate. As war ravages in many African countries and precious blood spilled, the ICC is bogged down in the situation in Kenya which its Prosecutor mislead by political interests for the first and only time in the history of the court on his own initiated the legal process.
In ten years of its existence, the trial record of the ICC is disappointing compared to that of the Special Court for Sierra Leone that was created the same year like the ICC. It took the ICC ten years to complete its first case, the Thomas Lebunga Case with a much mitigated result and after being rebuked for using intermediaries to collect evidence and a colossal loss in the second case, that of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. In an article titled “ Latest ICC judgment reveals an ineffectiveness of Court” posted in Foreign Policy Association Website dated December 18, 2012, Daniel Donavan , harshly criticized the focus by the Prosecutor on periphery characters in African wars, underscoring the finding by the Trial Chamber in the case that the acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui did not mean that the crimes were not perpetrated, a veil reference to the fact that the real perpetrators of the crimes alleged were not brought before the Court. Following on this track record, the case of the situation in Kenya may be the greatest embarrassment to the ICC in that the main conduit through which the “secret envelope” and the evidence on the basis of which indictments were brought against six prominent Kenyans, former UN Secretary General Koffi Anan has been reported in the Kenya Press, as providing the political motivations for his role and conduct in the legal process by publicly calling on Kenyans not to vote for those standing trial at the ICC. His failure to cause the UN to promptly take action to abate the Rwandan Genocide that unfolded on his watch and his controversial role in the Kenyan legal process when he was invited as the peace envoy of the African Union (AU) but submitted the information on the basis of which charges were brought to the Prosecutor of the ICC rather than the AU has dented his image before a significant component of African public opinion.
The situation in Cote D’Ivoire and Libya which continue to deteriorate provides justification for the allegation that the ICC may be an instrument for regime Change. It is reasonably doubted if proper investigations were conducted by the ICC Prosecutor in the territory of Cote D’Ivoire against Laurent Gbagbo, his wife Simone and close collaborators during the French and UN led assault on the Presidential Palace leading to his arrest and that of Libya leading to the indictment of Moamar Gaddafi and his close associates that included his son, at the heat of NATO bombardment of Libya and thereafter, his leading assassination.
The UN interventions in these situations and the rather questionable role of the ICC Prosecutor in initiating perceived politically motivated prosecutions that favored partisan and specific interests has crystallized in the fight for the soul of Africa by powerful neo-colonial interests using none states actors so-called “good rebels” and puppets dictators on the one hand and “bad rebels” and revolutionary anti neo-colonial regimes on the other hand.
With this, the Responsibility to Protect Mandate of the UN Security Council in which the UN and Western Governments have co-opted the ICC to provide legal support to its military efforts and mission has strengthened impunity on the continent. The ICC which was created to fight impunity so far has lost its impartiality, independence and legitimacy to carry out its mandate.
There are strong indications, that instead of combating or discouraging impunity, the perceived unfairness of the ICC selective and discriminatory Prosecutions has intensified impunity and lawlessness in the situations in which it has intervened. The referral in the situation on Central Africa Republic made by the current President Bozozie after his rebellion against seized power led to investigations that are ongoing to a Popular Politician/ Militia Leader in neighboring DRC Jean Claude Bemba being indicted. Embolden by his ability to use the ICC process to intimidate politician opponents and strengthen his hold on power, Francois Bozozie ignored the peace process leaving the rebel and his political opponents and those opposed to the selective targeting of opponents through the ICC investigations to intensify the campaign to seize power by the use of armed force. That, in their estimation is the only way to permanently bring political change and insulates themselves from the permanent threat of ICC investigations and possible prosecutions.
In the Congo, the combined effect of the selective prosecutions conducted by the ICTR and the ICC has instead embolden Rwanda to support the rebellion in East DRC and the plethora of rebel organizations in the DRC to see total war and victory as the only means of attaining their divergent but very violent objectives. In Kenya, a relatively stable country in a volatile sub region with weak but performing legal institutions which could be improved with some effort, and which is at war in Somalia on behalf of the International Community the inappropriate disregard for the principle of complementarity and the legally unsubstantiated prosecution of senior politicians on grounds perceived to be political on the personal initiative of the Prosecutor promises to be politically explosive and destabilizing.
In Uganda, where the government made the referral but later ascertained that it could attain the double aims of ending the rebellion with the rebel commanders voluntarily surrounding to a an internal judicial structure provided by the country’s constitution, co-operation with the ICC was terminated for insisting of pursuing the matter which led to the peace process crumbling with continuation of the war and the loss of hundreds of thousands of life.
In Cote D’Ivoire like in Libya, the ICC process has become the rallying cry for violent conflict and impunity. Opponents see the process as being abused and used to support and sustain a political system rather than do dispassionate justice as mandated by the Statute of the Court.
The ICC has so far not been able to find a balance between the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion and prerogatives and the deference and respect for other channels of bringing peace and stability to war ravaged African countries where it has intervened. The sensitivity of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to the process and work of the Peace Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone helped to bring closure to the rancor that was caused by the war and its brutality. At the end the Special Court and the Peace and Reconciliation Commission complemented each other without compromising the integrity and independence of each other.
It is feared that if the current trend at the ICC continues, it will provide an opportunity for dictatorial regimes of war mongers that the process has served so well in the past decade to persist in abusing the referral process for political purposes. When they feel threatened they will put in place mechanisms whose purport is to shield them from prosecution, a privilege that they have enjoyed thanks to the ICC with the selective and discriminatory prosecutions that has made a mockery of international law. Were that to happen as it may be the case, the ICC will be held tacitly responsible for setting a threshold that has strengthen the tyranny of dictatorial regimes that happen to be neo-colonial puppets of Western geo strategic and economic interests and impunity that can only be ended with the escalation of armed conflicts, and needless loss of lives.
It is hope that in 2013, the new Prosecutor Ms Fatou Bensouda assisted by a very professional Deputy James Steward will work hard in depoliticizing the ICC by distancing the Office of the Prosecutor and its prosecutorial authority from powerful neo-colonial interests whose goals and objectives are at variance with those assigned to the ICC by the Rome Statute. It is then and only then that the fight against impunity on the African continent by the ICC will be real and meaningful.
Question: Is the UN limited only to making resolutions and recommendations, sending observer missions or peacekeepers, often in insufficient numbers?
Answer: Part of the answer to this question is provided by President Biya himself when he stated that he was “ aware that the issues he raised have been discussed in the Security Council where disagreement between the permanent members made it impossible to consider any decisive action” and that “such helplessness in the face of acute crisis situations severely affects the image of the United Nations and only emphasizes the urgent need for reform of the composition and functioning of the Security Council”.
In respect of Africa, the answer to this question must perforce focus on the fact that Africa is still a victim and not subject of international law. In 1884, the partition of Africa and the egregious international violations that Africa has suffered ever since was considered legal in International Law. In a presentation I made during an International Law Conference in Montreal on September 28, 2012, I underscored the fact that shortly after the Berlin Conference, the First World Peace Conference held in The Hague in 1898 and the Second took place in 1907 but Africa was not even on the agenda. To these powers, Africa and Africans were chattel.
Africans and the world at large need to know the hard facts underlying their place and plight in International law and International Relations. The so-called civilized world is still struggling with how to fully characterize and accommodate Africa in International Law. This is implicit in their relations with Africa and the application of International Law to African Conflicts. This explains the disparity in its intervention between the war in the ex-Yugoslavia as opposed to that in Rwanda, its indifference and then support for the culture of impunity in the DRC, its selective prosecutions in Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, the Sudan and its failure to consider the introduction of transitional justice in redressing the wars crimes perpetrated in Somalia and bring to an end the impunity that threatens the long and short term, the stability of the entire sub region from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and the DRC.
Question: If the provisions of the Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions and if the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power, then one cannot help being worried about the future of international democracy?
Answer: The exploited, abused and endangered people of Africa who are victims of neo-colonial power play that encourages impunity and adversely affect them ought to be very worried about the future of international democracy. President Biya is right in asserting that the “provisions of the (UN) Charter do not necessarily inspire Security Council decisions and that the relationship of permanent members with international law is based on unequal expression of power”. Falling within this category is the controversial invocation of the Responsibility to Protect Mandate to effect regime change in which one dictator is replaced by a group of rebels and criminal gangs further endangering the lives of Africans and compromising their independence, economic wellbeing and future.
Question: What then is the future of “international democracy” under these circumstances?
Answer: The future of “international democracy” is not threatened by this Post -Cold War world so-co economic and political strategic ideology. Rather, the future of Africa is seriously compromised. African and Africans have never been free as such. The ritual that passed for independence from 1960 in most African countries was quickly high jacked by the former colonial powers using neo-colonial puppets who imposed conditions of living and socio -economic and political policies that made the serfdoms unstable, leading to the wars and the selective application of International law that place the sovereignty of African states under the supervision of the erstwhile colonial powers.
The situation that obtained in Ghana aptly painted by CLR James in “Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution “ where many African intellectuals, Lawyers, Professionals, the Merchant Class and Chiefs radically opposed the Independence of Ghana because they benefitted from the colonial system still applies today. Professor George Ayittey in “Africa Unchained” quoting Colonel Yohanna Madaki (rtd) provides an example of the treachery of these opportunistic class of Africans “when General Yakubu Gowan drew up plans to return Nigeria to civil rule in 1970, academicians began to present researched papers pointing to the fact that military rule was better and preferred since civilians had not learnt any lessons sufficient enough to entrust with governance of the country”. More recently in Cameroon, University Professors led by the Director of the International Institute of International Relations (IRIC) who was later appointed technical adviser to President Biya, organized conferences to explain to the national and international public opinion that the constitutional clause that imposed term limits to the office of the President was undemocratic and urged President Biya to scrap that provision to enable him contest elections under an election process controlled at all stages of the electoral process by him, thus paving the way for him to eternalized power. Conduct like this, is what breeds conflict in the continent, making it possible for the UN and external forces to set in motion processes and policies which have and continue to enslave and endanger “ international democracy” in Africa.
Question: What must therefore be done to protect Africa under these circumstances?
Answer: Africa and Africans must admit that the destiny of Africa lies in the hands of Africans. The foot soldiers and puppets who have ruined Africa and facilitate the exploitation and rape of Africa are Africans. It is the duty of Africans to provide reasonable alternatives to these class of individuals.
We must learn from the experiences of some of the countries that are responsible for the plight of Africa today. Some of them underwent some of the same violations and humiliations at some point in time in their history. The progressive forces in those countries rose and mobilized the people to liberate themselves. It is our turn to do so.
The progressive forces in and out of Africa and friends of Africa must come together, like Marcus Garvey, George Pardmore, Osageyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Zik of Africa, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere mobilized the continent and the world to reclaim the continent for Africans and proclaimed the humanity of the black race on the face of the world. The time for the debate on the bigger issues that confront Africa is now. It took a Nelson Mandela and his friends to challenge the conscience of the world on the egregious crimes of apartheid and to prove to the world that black rule in South Africa was inevitable. It took the vision and courage of a Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere to support and sustain the liberation struggle in Southern Africa that led to the victory of freedom over colonial rule in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa itself.
Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere himself stated as early as 1964 in an address to delegates to the KANU conference in Dar Es Salaam that for us to confront the challenges of the present and the future, we must challenge the past and critically examine where we went wrong and what we can do to right the wrongs and move on in the right direction. I suggest that progressive forces in Africa and the black race can make that critical examination of what is wrong with Africa and come up with solutions that will impose respect, compliance and execution by the rest of the world. The time to mobilize progressive forces the world over for a Pan Africa Progressive World Forum that will critically examine what is wrong with Africa and chat the course for Africa and all black peoples the world over for future is now.
Then and only then will our so-called independence have meaning and the black race assured of its existence in the world.
*Chief Charles A.Taku is Lead Counsel at the UNCITR, Special Court for Sierra Leone, The ICC. He is Author of a new hot selling book: Contextual Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence: Selected Cases, available at www.takujurisprudence.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnes and noble.com
Job and wealth creation in Africa (1)
September 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
By President Olusegun Obasanjo*
I was privileged, as the Patron of the Africa Governance, Leadership and Management Convention jointly organized by Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) and Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) and strongly supported by the UNDP, to preside and deliver an Opening Remark recently in Mombasa, Kenya. I feel constrained to share the view I expressed at that Convention and the conclusion of the Convention with the readers of this column. But first my remarks: “We have gathered this year to follow up our previous engagements in the last three years on the need to match growth with development and improved standard of living in Africa. Last year, at this same venue, myself and other leaders of the public and private sector in Africa spent an interesting and quite engaging two days on the issues of leadership development in Africa.
One of the major outcomes of that engagement was the reiteration of the fact that in spite of the good news in terms of economic growth, the challenges confronting Africa remain daunting.
This is because the acclaimed growth has been accompanied by increased poverty and more joblessness. For us to address this concern more appropriately there is a need for a resurgence of dialogue on African Renaissance in content and context, anchored on the principle of public-private partnership and driven by the spirit Q u o t e o f t h e d a y of enterprise and entrepreneurship.
“It is, therefore, in this light, that the Secretariat of this Convention has brought us together to take a more critical look at our economic growth indices and its impact on the life of African citizens.
“The need to assess the challenges and highlight the opportunities for Sustainable Wealth and Job Creation in Africa cannot be over-emphasized.
This is because it remains by far the most worrisome challenge of most African countries at the moment. Everywhere we turn to in Africa, the story is the same. Unemployed young people are in huge numbers.
The lack of opportunities for them to unleash their creative energies positively has turned them into desperate young men and women, unfortunately becoming ready-made tools for unwholesome activities.
“The memory of the ‘Arab spring’ is still fresh in our minds and it tells an apt story of what our continued foot-dragging on lifting the critical mass of people above poverty levels can unleash suddenly and destructively.
Dr. Kaberuka has told us an eye-witness story of how it all began in Tunisia. “That Africa generally is experiencing positive growth within its economic frontiers today is no more news.
That we survived the global financial crisis with very little effect is also not in doubt.
What is, however, worrisome is the fact that substantial gains achieved on the economic front and the high economic growth rates in GDP terms have not been matched by corresponding improvement in the living standards of our people. It seems that the richer our countries become in GDP terms, the more our people get enmeshed in poverty.
It is clear that in addition to GDP as a factor of measure of growth, we need another factor of measurement of the well-being and improved living standard of our people.
“This was noted in the recently launched 2012 Annual Report of the Africa Progress Panel of which I am a member.
The report stated that countries across Africa are becoming richer but whole sections of society are being left behind. After a decade of buoyant growth, almost half of Africans still live on less than $1.25 a day.
Wealth disparities are increasingly visible. The current pattern of trickle-down growth is leaving too many people in poverty, too many children hungry and too many people especially young people without jobs. Governments are failing to convert the rising tide of wealth into opportunities for their most marginalised citizens. Unequal access to health, education, adequate food and nutrition, water and sanitation is reinforcing wider inequalities.
Smallholder agriculture has not been part of the growth surge, leaving rural populations trapped in poverty and vulnerability .
*The Author is a former President of Nigeria. Contribution culled from http://nationalmirroronline.net
TO BE CONTINUED