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Insurgency: Buhari was misled to approve $496million for 12 Air fighters — Source
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

President Buhari

President Buhari

Following the controversy trailing Nigeria’s government purchased of 12 Super Tucano aircraft, a source close to the presidency has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari was misled to approve $496 million for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the US without the backing of the national assembly.

According to TheCableng, the money was said to have been withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA).

In August, the US government sold the aircraft to Nigeria to enable it combat the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east.

An embargo had been placed on Nigeria owing to allegations of gross human right abuses against the military.

In a letter to the leadership of the national assembly dated April 13, 2018, the president explained that the United States had given Nigeria a deadline for payment, hence the reason he approved the money without consulting the legislators.

Buhari also sought the inclusion of the procurement of the aircraft into the 2018 budget which the national assembly is still working on.

The source said the lawmakers, particularly those in house of representatives, are not happy with the development, adding that the president cut short his UK trip in order to address the issue.

In the statement issued to announce Buhari’s trip, the date of his return was not disclosed.

“The approval for $496 million for Tucano aircraft is an impeachable offence. What is happening right now is that some people in the executive set Buhari up,” the source said.

“They made him send a letter to the national assembly and the letter is saying that money has already been disbursed without seeking approval which is an impeachable offence.

“This is part of the reason why the president came back into the country. He is thinking of calling the leadership of the national assembly for a meeting.

“These people gave the president wrong information. Right the house of representatives have a copy of the letter that the money had already been disbursed but then it has not been appropriated. A lot of members of the house are not happy.”

Efforts to get a reaction from Garba Shehu, spokesman of the president, were not successful as calls to his phone did not go through and a text message was not replied.

Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, had said Buhari gave the approval for the money to be released but Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters, later contradicted Dan Ali.

The presidential aide said Buhari had not approved the release of the money from the excess crude account as claimed by the minister, adding that the approval given to the federal government by the national economic council was undergoing the “normal legislative process” before the national assembly.

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Abacha Loot: Swisbank returns all with interest of $ 1.5 million
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha

Former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha

The Government of Switzerland said it has returned all the money kept in the country by the late Nigerian Dictator and Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Speaking, Pio Wennubst, assistant director-general and head, Global Cooperation Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, told the News Agency Nigeria that the money was returned with $1.5 million interest.

Wennubst said Switzerland returned about $322.5 million dollars (N116.11 billion) to the federal government. According to him, the original amount was $321 million.

The Swiss envoy also said the money was returned to the Nigerian government unconditionally.

“We are not talking about the condition; there was a programme on the social safety net that was developed by the government of Nigeria and the bank,” he said.

“After discussing, the only condition, set by the judiciary, not by us, was that the return of this asset should have been monitored by the World Bank and this is where we worked on.”

According to him, these funds were part of the Nigerian government contributions to the social safety net programme, “plus concessional loans from the bank”.

The Abacha loot was frozen in 2014 by a Swiss court after a legal procedure against his son, Abba Abacha.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the money was a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted during his rule from 1993 to 1998.

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Xenophobia: Nigerian suffers another attack in South African
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Clement Nwaogu

Clement Nwaogu

The Nigerian Community in South Africa has announced the killing of another Nigerian, Clement Nwaogu, who was burnt alive by a mob in the latest xenophobic attack in that country.

Speaking in a telephone interview, Habib Miller, the Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, confirmed the killing:‎

” The victim, a native of Njikoka in Anambra State, and an upholsterer in South Africa, was attacked and killed by a mob in Rustenburg, North West Province.”

“The mob descended on him like a common criminal with all sorts of dangerous weapons in the presence of the South African police officers.”

“Eyewitnesses say the victim beckoned for help from the police to intervene and help him, but they turned a blind eye.

“When Nwaogu could no longer persevere, he ran for safety; the mob chased and caught him, poured petrol on him and set him ablaze,” he said.

Adding that the mob then left Nwaogu when they thought he had died.

The spokesman said that it was shortly after the mob left Nwaogu that some passersby called emergency personnel, who later took the victim’s charred body to the hospital.

“The eyewitnesses feeling that the victim was still alive called for help; unfortunately, Nwaogu could not survive the ordeal and died at the Job Shimankane Hospital in Rustenburg,” he said.

In the same vein, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement described the killing of Clement Nwaogu, as unfortunate.

She called on South African authorities to find lasting solution to the incessant killing of Nigerians in that country and also urged Nigerians living abroad to obey the laws of countries where they lived, and shun crime and criminality to avoid unwarranted attacks and killings.

She noted that 14 Nigerians who protested the killing of a fellow citizen in that country North West Province some months ago were still in detention.

“Just a few days ago, on April 17, the case came up in court. There was so much tension that even the Nigerian lawyers representing the Nigerians had to be escorted to court by Diplomatic police.

“The community has vowed to deal with anyone who plays a positive role in getting the accused Nigerians return to Rustenberg,” she noted.

Dabirir-Erewa said that the Nigerian mission in Pretoria and the consulate in Johannesburg had done everything possible, in the recent past, to get justice for Nigerians in South Africa.

“Four South African policemen are currently in court for allegedly killing and maltreating Nigerians with embassy officials constantly present in court for the hearings. This is the first time this will be happening.

“However, the early warning signals put in place by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and interior of both countries need to be reviewed” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nigeria -Ahead of 2019, Oyegun predicts tough polls
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun pictured with President Muhammadu Buhari

All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun pictured with President Muhammadu Buhari

The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, admonished his party against complacency in next year’s election.

Speaking at the 2018 inauguration of the APC National Convention Committee  Oyegun said: ” At the end of this exercise, I want to see a re-united APC under whatever leadership your exercise brings up. We have a tough election ahead of us and we must prime ourselves for that election. We must not cuddle ourselves with any false sense of being the party in power,”.

“Nigerians are aware of their rights than they have ever been before. So, as you proceed, please ensure that all these views and opinions are brought together into a one united APC.
“The task that you have undertaken to perform is a heavy and tough one. The APC is known, in spite of induced controversies, for the cleanest primaries and congresses.
“Our last presidential primary was by all account one of the best ever held and I dare say, anywhere.”
“It was a convention that was watched world wide and you are supposed to repeat the feat. I have no doubt that this one, given the controversies that have preceded it will also be a most watched convention.

“You have the task of producing a convention that is free, fair and provide a level playing field for for anybody that aspire any position,” Oyegun stated.

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Buratai: Restoring the Global Image of the Nigerian Army
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
BY ISRAEL ABIODUN *
President Buhari with Buratai

President Buhari with Buratai

Even in the midst of the many national distractions and high politics in the country, one man has earned himself the right to receive accolades for his contributions towards ensuring that order emerged out of scenarios that were once predicted to only end doom for Nigeria. The man is no other than Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, who has made the unwavering commitment to give Nigeria an Army that meets world standard.

This month, the Nigerian Army in conjunction with US Army African Command (AFRICOM) held this year’s African Land Forces Summit with the theme “Unity Is Strength: Combating Africa’s Security Challenges”. This was no mere talk shop and photo op event as the state of readiness and troops’ capabilities was put to the test during drills held in General A.O Azazi Barracks in Gwagwalada, Abuja, code named ‘Operation Silent Kill’.
The COAS used the summit, which is the single largest gathering of African senior military leaders in Africa, to update the world of Nigeria’s successes in degrading Boko Haram. High ranking military commanders fromm Republic of Malawi, Arusha United Republic of Tanzania, Dakar, Uganda, Washington DC and fort Benning, Georgia United States of America are among participants at the summit.
An immediate plus from this is that Nigeria has something to teach the world about curtailing terrorists, extremists and fanatics, something that other countries can draw lessons from in a world where the cancer of religion fuelled extremism and terrorism is spreading. The Nigerian Army, of course, has things to learn from the summit about the Islamic State, but it was not a one-way street since it as information to share with participants from other countries.
The participation of AFRICOM and the Nigerian Army co-hosting the summit with US Army Africa (USARAF) is a reality check for those that are obsessed with demonizing the Army and General Buratai as abusers of human rights. These United States agencies would not openly associate with countries that violate the human rights, more so the rights of citizens. Had the human rights record of the Nigerian Army under Buratai been as dismal as certain interests claim then this year’s exercise would have ended as a flop but that was not the case. The Army adheres to the global best standards in the observance of the rules of engagement for the kind of threats that the Army is called up to address in Nigeria.
The positive reception from this summit must be tapped into in various regards. The contacts must be leveraged to see how the supply of certain military hardware can be made available to Nigeria. Secondly, authorities should exploit which of the countries can be beneficial in stopping foreign terrorists from arriving on Nigerian soil to wreak havoc. Also, without prejudice for their various domestic laws, there should be a way to partner with these countries to eliminate the potentials for devious groups to manage anti-Nigerian Army propaganda from their soils.
On the part of Nigerians, the decorum exhibited for the duration of the summit and the understanding shown during the drill are unprecedented. We only need to extend the same sense of patriotic support for the military to make further gains against Boko Haram and other insurgent groups. This will fit nicely into General Buratai’s vision of improved military-civil relations that stems from stakeholders having mutual understanding and respect for each other. Once trouble makers see this alliance work for the good of the country they will have no option but to fold up and ply their evil wares elsewhere.
One is constrained to task the Army boss not to relent in his quest to deliver a world class Army to Nigeria, the legacy of his leadership. He cannot afford to bask in euphoria of the moment as he must keep striving to outperform himself since he has surpassed his predecessors.
The government would have to provide the financial muscle for the Army to translate vision into realities. The kind of vision Buratai unveiled at the summit, and other fora in the past, is the kind that requires optimum funding of the military with a resolute political will to succeed. It is the least the government can do as its contributions to ensure that the experience the General brought to the job is made to serve the country.
One would not rule out several groups and organizations rushing to give awards of recognition to General Buratai for what he has been able to achieve with the Nigerian Army in such short time. This would not be out of place since acknowledgement of good work is guaranteed to inspire more good work.
*Abiodun is security affairs analyst and wrote from University of Ibadan.
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President Barack Obama to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Obama Foundation announced that President Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg in July. To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth the lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.

The lecture will take place on the 17 July 2018, a day before Nelson Mandela International Day, and will be held at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. About 4 000 people are expected to attend.

For most of his life, Nelson Mandela fought for democracy and equality. His presidency was defined by his efforts to solidify the fragile democracy of South Africa, and by his lessons on the politics of bridge-building’ over the politics of division.

The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is a unique platform to drive debate on critical social issues in South Africa and around the world. Previous speakers include global thought leaders and change makers, including: Presidents Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mary Robinson and Michelle Bachelet; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus; Professors Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Piketty and Ismail Serageldin; and philanthropists Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim.

More information on media credentials will be available at a later date.

Details around access to the lecture are being finalised and the process to secure seats will be announced on 17 May 2018.

Media contact:
Nelson Mandela Foundation: LungaN@nelsonmandela.org
Obama Foundation: Kate Berner, kberner@skdknick.com

*Source Nelson Mandela Foundation

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How to address food-sustainability challenges in sub-Saharan Africa
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kofi Annan*

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Despite its huge agricultural potential, Africa spends around US$35bn each year on food imports. This number may rise above US$110bn by 2025 due to rapid population growth, changes in dietary habits and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. The lack of food sustainability, as well as food and nutrition insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, is likely to aggravate unless bold action is taken on six key issues.

The need to boost farming productivity

First, smallholder farmers’ productivity has to rise significantly, as a large majority of Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. African crop yields are amongst the lowest in the world due to poor seeds and degraded soils, a lack of fertiliser and other essential inputs, and insufficient mechanisation and transport infrastructure. A shift from farming as a subsistence activity to farming as a business is needed and has to be matched with the right set of policies, institutions and investments.

Encouragingly, exciting progress is being made. For example, African research institutes—with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa—have developed within a decade more than 600 new crop varieties. Seed companies are now producing more than 130 metric tonnes of seeds for approximately 15m farmers.

Second, and related to the first point, as smallholder farmers lack the means to adapt to rising temperatures and adverse weather events such as droughts and floods, there is a critical need to strengthen the ability of farming communities to cope with the impacts of climate change. Investing in weather forecast systems, insurance schemes, efficient irrigation technology and heat- or drought-tolerant crop varieties can help boost farm productivity under increasingly severe climate conditions.

Third, leveraging the transformation of African agriculture and raising productivity levels requires a reform of customary land-tenure systems. Smallholder farmers with weak and insecure tenure rights are under threat of being evicted from their farms and have little incentive to invest in their land. A reform of tenure systems also has to include a consolidation of farm plots to make commercial agriculture viable.

Strengthening value chains, trade and stability

Fourth, there is a need to develop and strengthen agricultural value chains, including agro-processing industries. These bear enormous potential for job creation and value addition. African governments have to adjust their private-sector development and industrial policies in order to attract more agribusinesses and investors. They, in turn, have to link up with smaller farms and related economic sectors and work in close partnership.

Fifth, we have to make every effort to triple intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025, one of the goals of the 2014 Malabo Declaration. Compared with other world regions, intra-African food trade is dismally low. The share of trade in agricultural products among African countries that is intra-regional varied between 13% and 20% over the period from 2000 to 2013, while European and Asian countries traded 75% and 63% among their respective regions, respectively. African countries have to remove trade barriers for food and reap the benefits of larger markets.

Finally, we need to recognise that stability and peace are necessary conditions for agricultural development, food security and the long-term sustainability of food systems. In parts of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, millions of people are at risk of starvation due to violent conflict, radical extremism and insecurity. People are forced to migrate to seek for alternatives to secure their livelihoods. Our efforts to combat hunger have to go hand-in-hand with those to build peaceful and prosperous societies.

The importance of making agricultural systems more sustainable and addressing nutritional challenges is highlighted by the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. It is high time that we prioritise agricultural development and work together to tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through my foundation I continue to mobilise the political will to achieve progress on these fronts. If we get this right, Africa will not just be able to feed itself, but to contribute to global food and nutrition security, and therefore more stability throughout the world.

*Former UN Secretary-General, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.Article culled from his LinkedIn page

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No one can impose homosexuality on us – Ghana
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Information Minister Mustapha Hamid

Information Minister Mustapha Hamid

The Government of Ghana has shot down incessant calls by Western leaders for the legalisation of homosexuality. The UK Prime Minister Theresa May Tuesday called on African leaders attending the Commonwealth Heads of government meeting in London to decriminalize homosexuality in their various countries.

It is wrong, according to her, for homosexuals to be persecuted for their sexual orientation, offering her country’s readiness to help African countries to reform their laws to accommodate the interest of homosexuals.

Her call comes on the back of a similar one by the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tove Degnbol who called on Ghanaians to respect the rights of gays and lesbians.

May’s call was followed by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Prof. Philip Alston who Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aron Mike Oquaye as delusional over his stiff opposition to the legalization of homosexuality in Ghana.

The National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, an anti-gay CSO in Ghana has also vowed to oppose any attempt to legalize LGBTI in the West African country. “ We are going to make this a political issue….we will campaign against all political parties in this country that will not openly defend the right of Africans to believe in what we believe in, because that is our custom and we have the right to do so”, they declared.

Commenting on the calls by the UK Prime Minister and the UN Special Rapporteur, the Information Minister Mustapha Hamid said as far as Ghanaian law, tradition and customs are concerned “gayism and lesbianism are un-Ghanaian.”

“And therefore, really, it is difficult to see how foreign interest can impose foreign cultures on us. So as far as, I am concerned…it is a non-issue,” he added.

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Warlord ‘Jungle Jabbah’ sentenced to 30 years in milestone for global justice
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Global Justice and Research Project

 Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”. Photo supplied.

Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”. Photo supplied.

Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”, was sentenced on Thursday to 30 years in prison, culminating a landmark case in the United States and marking a long-overdue milestone for justice in Liberia. Thirty years is the maximum sentence he could have received and one of the longest prison sentences for immigration fraud in US history.

 On 18 October, 2017, a Philadelphia jury convicted Mohammed Jabbateh of fraud and perjury for lying on his US immigration application about his connection to war crimes.

According to the indictment, the rebel commander personally committed, or ordered his soldiers to commit, barbaric acts of violence, torture, cannibalism and human rights abuses in the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1997). Yet, for decades afterwards, he lived freely in the Philadelphian community known as “Little Liberia” until his arrest in April 2016.

During the three-week trial in Philadelphia, prosecutors flew in more than 15 witnesses from Liberia to tell their stories of atrocities committed by Jabbateh and fighters under his command. This was the first time that victims of the First Liberian Civil War had the chance to testify in front of a criminal judge. Civitas Maxima and its sister organisation, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), have collaborated with US authorities on the investigation since 2014 and called the sentencing a milestone for global justice and human rights.

“Liberian victims have been waiting for more than 15 years to see their perpetrators held accountable. The Jungle Jabbah conviction and sentence are a testament to the unwavering commitment and resilience of the victims who are making their voices heard not only within Liberia but also globally”, said Hassan Bility, director of the GJRP and a survivor of torture himself.

Alain Werner, director of Civitas Maxima, in Geneva Switzerland, said:

“For years we have been working tirelessly to pursue justice for victims of the most atrocious crimes. Astonishingly, Liberian victims have been denied justice in their own country so they had to find access to justice elsewhereThe Jungle Jabbah case is an expression of these efforts.”

The fact that Jabbateh was convicted and that victims were heard represents a milestone for Liberia where, after two brutal civil wars which left more than 200,000 dead, nobody was ever held accountable for war-time atrocities. The overwhelmingly positive reactions to the Jungle Jabbah conviction and to the Liberian Quest for Justice campaign have shown that the majority of Liberians want justice.

“A victim-led movement in favour of accountability for Liberia is clearly in motion. The quest to end impunity in Liberia has just begun”, said Bility.

Many alleged Liberian war criminals are still living their lives as if nothing happened. Some even hold powerful positions in government, hampering trust in public institutions and hindering sustainable reconciliation.

Bility went on to explain:

“Victims had to watch some perpetrators gain positions of power. Our post-war politicians have not listened to the victims’ cries. This will have to change. Our hope still remains to see these trials take place in Liberia, so victims of war crimes from all over the country can witness the proceedings.

“The Jungle Jabbah case is the first in a series of cases tried outside of Liberia that we have been working on, which show that impunity does not have to be the norm,” said Werner.

Civitas Maxima and the GJRP will be leading outreach campaigns and monitoring the upcoming trials of alleged Liberian war criminals expected to happen in 2018 and 2019.

They have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the continued support of Liberian victims in their fight for justice.

The Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) is a Liberia-based non-profit, non-governmental organisation that documents war crimes and, where possible, seeks justice for victims of these crimes, with the full consent of the victims.

*DM

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ENGIE and Meridiam win two solar photovoltaic projects in Senegal
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Yoven Moorooven CEO of ENGIE Africa

Yoven Moorooven CEO of ENGIE Africa

ENGIE and investment partner Meridiam have been selected by Senegal’s Electricity Sector Regulation Commission (CRSE) as preferred bidder in a tender launched in October 2017 for two solar photovoltaic projects totaling 60 MW.

These two projects are part of the Scaling Solar initiative in Senegal, conducted jointly by the Senegalese authorities and the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”, member of the World Bank Group). They are located in Kahone, in the Kaolack region, and in Touba-Kaël, in the Diourbel region.

ENGIE and Meridiam will hold a 40% shareholding in the project company. FONSIS, the Senegalese sovereign fund, will also be a shareholder with a 20% equity stake. The construction and the operation of the plants will be managed and executed by ENGIE.

Yoven Moorooven (CEO of ENGIE Africa): “Our consortium delivered a highly competitive offer by leveraging our experience of developing and operating renewable energy projects in Africa – in particular in Senegal.

This success demonstrates the merit of our integrated model for solar whereby ENGIE is acting as investor, operator and EPC contractor through ENGIE Solar (formerly known as Solairedirect).The CRSE and the IFC set out a clear, sound investment framework, which favored the presence of long-term investors like ENGIE. Our focus will now be on finalising the projects to deliver the most competitive solar photovoltaic plants, to serve the country’s ambition of developing universal electricity access in a sustainable manner.Congratulations to the teams on this achievement. “

Mathieu PELLER (COO of Meridiam Africa): “We continue to deploy our fund in Africa, choosing projects aimed at supporting sustainable economic development. Thanks to the reduced costs of solar equipment, this particular project will have a high developmental impact by expanding Senegal’s capacity to generate clean energy at a very competitive price. Increasing power generation is critical for the Government’s objective to raise Senegal to the level of an emerging market by 2035. The Project aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal Seven, which calls for increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.”

In Senegal, ENGIE is already involved in the Senergy project, a 30 MW solar photovoltaic plant in the town of Santhiou Mekhé and in Ten Merina, a 29.5 MW solar photovoltaic plant in the region of Thiès, near Dakar. Both projects are currently in operation.  In 2017, ENGIE signed a partnership with ANER, Senegal’s National Renewable Energy Agency which focuses on accelerating the development of renewable energy in the country. The Group is also implementing solar energy solutions for rural households in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. ENGIE has been selected for the Dakar TER project in partnership with Thales for the design and production of infrastructure and systems, with a contract amounting to 225 million euros.

About ENGIE AFRICA

For over 50 years, ENGIE has been active in many African countries through its energy engineering business, its natural gas purchase agreements with Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria and more recently as an independent power producer in South Africa and Morocco with a total capacity of 3,000 MW either in operation or under construction. By 2025, ENGIE aims to become a reference partner in about ten African countries for power plants, energy services to businesses and decentralized solutions for off-grid customers – communities, companies and households. For more information, www.engie-africa.com

About ENGIE

We are a global energy and services group, focused on three core activities: low-carbon power generation, mainly based on natural gas and renewable energy, global networks and customer solutions. Driven by our ambition to contribute to a harmonious progress, we take up major global challenges such as the fight against global warming, access to energy to all, or mobility, and offer our residential customers, businesses and communities energy production solutions and services that reconcile individual and collective interests.
Our integrated – low-carbon, high-performing and sustainable – offers are based on digital technologies. Beyond energy, they facilitate the development of new uses and promote new ways of living and working. Our ambition is conveyed by each of our 150,000 employees in 70 countries. Together with our customers and partners, they form a community of imaginative builders who invent and build today solutions for tomorrow.
2017 turnover: 65 billion Euros. Listed in Paris and Brussels (ENGI), the Group is represented in the main financial (CAC 40, BEL 20, Euro STOXX 50, STOXX Europe 600, MSCI Europe, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, Euro STOXX Utilities, STOXX Europe 600 Utilities) and extra-financial indices (DJSI World, DJSI Europe and Euronext Vigeo Eiris – World 120, Eurozone 120, Europe 120, France 20, CAC 40 Governance).

About Meridiam

Meridiam was founded in 2005 by Thierry Déau, with the belief that the alignment of interests between the public and private sector can provide critical solutions to the collective needs of communities. Meridiam is an independent investment firm specializing in the development, financing, and management of long-term and sustainable public infrastructure projects. With offices in, New York, Paris, Toronto, Luxembourg, Istanbul, Vienna, Addis Ababa and Dakar, Meridiam currently manages 6.2 billion Euros of assets, and more than 60 projects under development, construction, or in operation to date. www.meridiam.com

 

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Nigerians debate giving 10% of their income to the church
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Pastor Adeboye's Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Pastor Adeboye’s Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Many Nigerian Christians believe it is compulsory to give 10% of their income to the church. But, Yemisi Adegoke writes, others say this practice, known as tithing, means poor people are funding the extravagant lifestyles of some of Nigeria’s richest people – charismatic preachers.

“Anyone who is not paying his tithe is not going to heaven, full stop,” Pastor Enoch Adeboye said to a hall full of pastors in Lagos earlier this month.

“Go back, immediately after this convention to restitute your ways with your congregation,” he ordered the pastors at the Redemption Camp.

Congregation members pass around a collection basket for tithes and offering
Image captionPassing a collection plate – or basket – is a longstanding part of Christianity but should it be obligatory?

He has spoken about this many times before. “Paying your tithe is not a minor thing,” he warned in a previous sermon. “Go back to Malachi, chapter three, verse 8-11,” he urged.

In the Contemporary English translation, that part of the Old Testament says: “I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire 10% into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing.”

Other translations, including the King James Bible, just use the word tithe, which is an old English word meaning tenth.

And Nigerians have been continuing the debate on social media.

Some critics have linked preachers’ insistence that followers must give a tithe with the immense wealth of many Nigerian pastors.

With about half of Nigeria’s 180 million people saying they are Christians, the potential income to the country’s many churches is enormous.

Pastor Adeboye himself has been listed by Forbes as one of the richest clerics in the world with a net worth of $130m (£91m).

‘Manipulative doctrine’

What particularly irks radio personality Daddy Freeze is that preachers tell very poor people that if they give to the church, God will make them wealthy – an idea known as the “prosperity gospel”.

“The only people that seem to be getting richer are these people who are preaching this gospel of prosperity,” he told the BBC.

Ifedayo Olarinde known as 'Daddy Freeze' is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria
Image captionIfedayo Olarinde, known as “Daddy Freeze”, is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria

“You have a pastor who builds a school with the funds generated from tithing and offerings from poor congregation members and they can’t [afford to] attend those schools.”

The presenter, whose real name is Ifedayo Olarinde, used to pay tithes himself and still describes himself as a follower of Christ.

But he believes that tithes are an irrelevant part of the Old Testament.

“It’s a non-progressive doctrine, it’s a manipulative doctrine and it’s an enslaving doctrine.”

Daddy Freeze’s comments have cost him.

Preachers have spoken out against him in their sermons and people have started avoiding him.

“Nobody wants to work with me, nobody,” he said. “But I believe what I’m doing, I’m doing for humanity, people need to be set free.”

He is not the only Christian who disputes whether the Bible advises to pay 10% of your income to the church – some well known preachers have come forward to say it is not compulsory.

Doing God’s work

For Idris Belo-Osagie, a pastor at the Lifepointe Church in Lagos, the 10% figure is a “useful reference” for Christians due to its “historical context,” but he stipulates that “we are not forced to give to God”.

"It's not about a percentage, it's not about a requirement, it's about a lifestyle," says Pastor Belo-Osagie
Image caption“It’s not about a percentage, it’s not about a requirement, it’s about a lifestyle,” says Pastor Belo-Osagie

However, he adds that “it’s hard to see how you can follow in Jesus’ steps and not give”.

In a country where state-run health and education services are often lacking, he argues that the church often uses the money it gets for the welfare “of those who can’t take care of themselves”.

“There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who are fed in Nigeria by the church because they’ve been empowered by the giving of the people of God,” he said.

He also points out that the money is used to spread the church’s teachings.

And the church-goers I met in Lagos are happy to carry on paying the 10%.

“It’s something I’ve practised over time and it’s worked for me, so I’ll just keep doing it,” the smartly dressed assistant to pastor Caleb Ekpenyong told me.

For him the doctrine is clear and there is no grey area.

The conspicuous consumption of some preachers doesn’t deter Christians from giving either.

One church-goer, Temitope Olagbgegi, told me the preachers’ lavish lifestyles were a matter for God, not her.

“So many people are concerned about how the funds are being used, forgetting that, because it’s a spiritual thing, if the pastor chooses to misuse funds he’s going to bear the brunt of it.”

*BBC

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Nigeria’s Economy At Risk‎ — IMF
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

*Says building revenue is the way out

By Olayinka Ajayi

Catherine Pattillo, assistant director, fiscal affairs department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has admonished Federal Government of Nigeria to remove tax waiver as its potend  risk on the nation’s economy.

President Buhari with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

President Buhari with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

Fielding questions from news men at the ongoing Spring meeting of the Bretton Wood institution, Pattillo said Nigeria currently gives a three-year tax holiday to practitioners in 27 industries under the pioneer status incentive. Also, companies receive tax waivers for carrying out certain projects on behalf of the federal government.

“The recent IMF report on Nigeria which was emphasising that with a constraining debt servicing as you know the ratio of federal government interest payment to debt revenue is extremely high, 63 percent,” Pattillo said.

“There is a need to build revenue so that you have more space to spend for infrastructure, social safety nets, among others, otherwise interest is eating up most of your revenue so building revenue is key and how do you do that?

“The recommendation in the IMF staff report is to broaden the tax base by removing exemptions, to rationalise tax incentives in particular to strengthen tax compliance and our recommendation to raise the VAT rate. So those were the recommendations for Nigeria on tax.”

Pattillo said the government’s strategy of favouring foreign debts over domestic ones has merit.

“Factors that support that is that Nigeria’s current external debt to GDP ratio is low so the external interest payments are relatively low. The benefit of that switch is a reduction in overall interest payments and a lengthening of maturity,” she said.

Speaking further, Pattillo said lenders may become scared to have dealings with countries with high-interest payments like Nigeria because of the risk of repayment.

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It’s Unconstitutional To Suspend Fellow Senators — Falana
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Nigeria’s renown human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has asserted that it is unconstitutional for any legislative chamber to suspend or sack a member.

FEMI FALANA

FEMI FALANA

Speaking while reacting to the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from the Senate, Falana said:‎ “No legislative house can suspend or remove a member. It is only a court of law or the constituency that elected them can order the removal or suspension of their representative,” said the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

“Because when you remove or suspend a legislator,  his constituency no longer has a representative in that house and that is not legal.”

Falana recalled a case involving a female lawmaker in the Bauchi house of assembly who was suspended indefinitely over a statement she made during plenary.

“I handled the case of Dino Melaye and others when they were been suspended from NASS in 2011. I handled the case of Dana vs Bauchi house of assembly from the high court to court of appeal. As of today, his case is the locus classicus on the tenure of members,” he said.

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Africa cannot develop without IMF framework
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asserted that infrastructural  governance can’t improve in Africa if it’s recommended framework is not implemented.

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Speaking at the ongoing Spring meetings in Washington DC, two officials of the organisation stated this in a session titled ‘Public Investment Efficiency in Sub-Saharan African Countries: What Lies Ahead?

The officials Ha Vu, a public financial management specialist at the IMF, and Karim Barhoumi, IMF resident representative in Benin and Togo, stated this in response to a question on why Africa was still faced with economic challenges despite help by the IMF,

Vu said: “Other development partners have tried to help African countries including the Sub Saharan African countries to improve the infrastructure governance. Who do you think should be the king actor? It’s you, Africa.

“We are here to help and support. We are here to guide because for example the framework, it cannot help to improve infrastructure governance in Africa if it is not applied.

“The role of the framework is to guide you where to look at to find the issues, how to think and how to improve and the IMF provides technical assistance to implement these reforms to get the improvement.”

Corroborating her stand, Barhoumi added: “You’re right, there are political economic issues as it depends on the commitment you have on the political level to also start working on projects,” Barhoumi said.

“The fund is providing this advice, this recommendation but it depends on the commitment of any country:‎ “It’s not a matter of spending much more than your neighbouring country but it is the quality of your spending. With the same amount of money, we can have three bridges and we all know the economic impact of bridges but with the same amount of money, we only have two bridges because of lack of quality public management.”

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The man who’s awaken the world about Congo
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jesse Jackson Snr*

Jesse Jackson Snr

Jesse Jackson Snr

CHICAGO, United States of America, April 19, 2018/ — Finally, the world met in Geneva on Friday 13th of April to gather the necessary financing to bring relief aid to desperate people of DRCongo. And this, subsequently to the efforts of DRC’s -Prime Minister Samy Badibanga Ntita. It is the first time ever that the International Community met to pledge financing for humanitarian aid to a war-torn country, big as one fourth of the United States, with some of its people unfortunately living in hellish conditions.

The hundred million Congolese thought the international community had abandoned them to their fate, in a crisis hidden behind the horrific news from Yemen and Syria. The stakes are high, with almost two billion dollars needed, which tells how much this mega-crisis has been forgotten and underfinanced.

Behind the figures, it is about humanity. It is challenging our hearts and willingness to deliver solidarity on a global scale. This is the unbelievable story of fifteen million people whose villages have been burnt down, their hospitals, schools and livelihoods looted and destroyed. The Congolese people of Kivu, Kasaï, Tanganyika and other regions of DR Congo have been attacked by armed men, in some cases by the Government security forces. Five million of them have been forced to flee and hide in the forests, after witnessing and being subjected to brutal rapes and killings of men, women and their children; the weapons of choice being guns, gasoline and machetes. In Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri, heart bleeding testimonials of survivors describe a situation which looks like the broad day light slaughterhouse of human beings

As we’ve just lost Winnie Mandela, who successfully fought apartheid in South Africa, as an eternal contribution to the freedom of black people in Africa and worldwide, it is shocking and outrageous. And it is sad that 13 million people are left in great need for relief aid after suffering so much violence. Today indeed, the DRCongo is the most important challenge to human dignity and global solidarity in Africa, if not in the world. This is coming out as an embarrassment  to the  International  Community, when one  considers that the equivalent  of a  9/11 has  been happening daily, for more than ten years, a problem now being exacerbated in the regions of Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri.

We also remember our fellow compatriot Michael Sharp brutally killed and beheaded in Kasaï, central DR Congo, together with Zaida Catalan, during an investigation for the United Nations. We pray for them and for their families.

Though the United Nations signalled alert calls after summer 2017, little has happened since. Aid workers and NGOs are still left to make impossible choices with little food aid or healthcare. Sadly, information indicates that the Government is hindering aid delivery, claiming taxes on relief aid, and finally refused to participate to the Geneva Conference.

We owe this first ever International Conference for DR Congo people to a man from Congo himself, my friend Samy Badibanga, who embarked in November last year on convincing the United Nations, the European Union, and developed Nations around the world to organize an International Conference to gather 1,68 billion dollars to finance the humanitarian needs of the people of DR Congo. Samy has led this work with Cardinal Mosengwo and Reverend Bokundoa towards its completion and deserves high recognition for the good and hope he just brought to his people.

The world now sees and knows what is going on in the Congo, and the everyday life of millions of women, left alone to provide for their children, amid their villages being burnt down and their husbands slaughtered in front of them. I hereby applaud Samy’s decisive commitment, faith in God and humanity, his work and achievement with the Churches of Congo. We now pray for relief aid to rapidly bring food, schools, healthcare, shelter, protection and security.

At Rainbow Push (https://RainbowPush.org), we’ll now pray for hope and strength to fill the heart of our fellow humans in DR Congo. Faith without deeds is indeed a contradiction. God bless Samy, the Congo and the whole Africa.

Keep Hope Alive
*Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr is Founder & President Rainbow Push.

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OP-ED: REFORMING THE AU REQUIRES STRONGER TIES WITH CIVIL SOCIETY
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mpako Foaleng and Niagalé Bagayoko*

Faced with security threats that are rapidly and constantly changing, and compounded by economic and social challenges that inhibit development ambitions in Africa, the question that is increasingly being asked is how to promote the participation of civil society in the management of public affairs and, in particular, political and security matters.

In its Constitutive Act, the African Union (AU) acknowledges “the need to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion among our peoples”.[1] Furthermore, the AU plans to build its capacity to guarantee peace and protection for African citizens through common defence and security policies by 2063.

Through institutional reforms adopted in 2017, the AU is committed to becoming financially independent with regard to security affairs by increasing the contribution of its Member States to the “Peace Fund” and reducing that of international partners.

Without prejudice to what may actually happen to this fund and its utilization, there is one major hurdle that the AU must overcome to ensure sustainability of its actions in the area of peace and security: a complete change in the manner in which civil society is engaged, involved and considered is mandatory.

By enlisting the support of organized civil society in its various member countries, the AU could utilize them as effective allies, particularly in encouraging Member States to implement its principles, which provide for the involvement of populations in the management of public affairs.

The nature of current security threats – whether in the form of terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, drugs and arms at the trans-regional level or escalating organized crime and conflicts between communities at the national level – cannot be effectively addressed in the absence of a climate of trust between citizens and state authorities, including security forces and law enforcement.

Moreover, the “African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform”, adopted by the Twentieth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in January 2013, emphasizes the role of civil society in security sector reform (SSR) and engages the latter (particularly in Section H) to actively interact with the AU as well as with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States in this area.[2] ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) also highlights in its “Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance” the key role that civil society should play in the oversight of security affairs.

However, there is no denying the fact that the reality falls far short of these principles in many African states, and the situation tends to worsen in certain countries where laws have been adopted that explicitly restrict, or even prohibit, the involvement of civil society organizations in security-related matters.

The AU is therefore suitably placed to combine its desire for financial reform and the need to foster change in the attitudes of its Member States for greater recognition of the oversight role of organized civil society in the areas of security and justice.

The increasingly important role played in the evolution of institutions and political and security situations by civil society in all of its forms, in a certain number of African countries, is a welcome development.

As an illustration, in 2014 it was observed that civil society in Burkina Faso, through movements such as the Balai Citoyen, were actively involved in actions that precipitated the departure of President Blaise Campaoré. They also played a key role in the failure of the attempted coup of 15 September 2015 led by the former presidential security regiment (RSP), security forces loyal to the deposed president.

This commitment helped to bring about an end to the crisis and the democratic appointment of a new president.[3] Even before this historical wave of popular protests, the Balai Citoyen had focused its efforts on promoting dialogue between the populations and the armed forces, as well as improving the conditions of the military.

However, Burkina Faso today is subject to continuous attacks in the North along its border areas with Mali and Niger, gravely undermining the ability of defence and security forces to ensure the protection of the state and citizens in an effective and accountable manner. The government has identified security sector reform as a priority. It will be important to ensure in the process that civil society in Burkina Faso continue to have a space to advocate for the democratic management of security affairs.

In Africa, a long history of civil wars, armed conflicts, coup d’états, authoritarian military regimes and abuse by law enforcement officers has shaped the largely undemocratic operations of political and security institutions.

Defence and security services have long been at the exclusive service of ensuring the security of regimes in place. The challenge today is translating into action the officially stated, yet contradictory in practice, ambitions of many African states to promote both state security and that of the populations they are meant to serve.

The AU should rely on civil society organizations to help promote an approach to security and governance that focuses on the protection requirements of both citizens and state institutions.

The challenge in fact is ensuring that the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force enjoyed by states is subject to democratic supervision and citizen control, carried out by civil society organizations in particular.

There are, however, three key issues that should not be overlooked in order to promote effective collaboration between the AU and civil society organizations in the area of peace and security: legitimacy, representation and competition (especially in terms of access to public funds or from external donors), which now characterize the increasingly dynamic yet widely challenged (including by the populations) sphere in which African civil societies evolve.

*Mpako Foaleng (PhD) and Niagalé Bagayoko (PhD) are senior experts on security sector reform and governance.

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Rawlings writes: The deceit of western propaganda
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jerry John Rawlings*

John Rawlings

John Rawlings

Is the world not in a frame of mind to express gratitude to Putin and Russia for not firing back at those Western vessels?

I have spent many hours pondering over what to say to Macron and Theresa May. What to say to the knowledgeable statesmen and women of the world. What to say to the masses of this world whose ignorance and belief in the Western propaganda and deceit would have emboldened Macron, Theresa May and the blowman in the White House to do what they did Friday night.

I don’t know what I can say or do to make people wake up to the fact that Putin and Assad are innocent of the charges leveled against them.

What can I say to people around the world to make them realize that Macron, Theresa May and presumably Trump should all be aware that two other countries very much aligned to Britain, France and the US have been responsible for this gassing operation all this while.

If the masses of this world and the supposed intelligentsia cannot even see which two nations could very well be guilty of this gassing operation then they do not deserve the freedom and justice that is slowly but surely being curtailed by the savagery of capitalism.

The British have told this lie in a hysterical and passionate manner, while the French have told theirs in a cold and calculating manner.

If Theresa May, Macron, Trump, Boris Johnson, some selected personnel around them and their intelligence machinery are prepared to subject themselves to the polygraph test to prove to the world that they did not know that the allegations they were directing at Putin and Assad were false, and Putin and Assad to also prove their innocence which I believe in, I will spend the rest of my life apologizing to them (West) and wage a campaign telling the world what monsters Putin and Assad are.

If Assad the supposed monster were to be subjected to a polygraph test, I believe and I know that he will pass the test…his truth will pass the polygraph test. If Putin of Russia were to be subjected to a similar test, I believe and I know his truth will also pass the polygraph test. I also believe and know that if President Macron, Prime Minister Theresa May, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were also subjected to the same test on a polygraph, their truth will fail the test and they know it. Assad and Putin are no saints but they definitely are not guilty of this monstrosity brewed in a Western pot.

Events of this kind have been staged many a time by warmongering nations and exploited for their own political ends.

Wars have broken out following the staging of these kinds of deceitful events. The last well known example was the one the US staged at the UN. By the time the truth had been established, America and her so-called allies had prosecuted the war against Iraq with its indefensible consequences.

On 11th April 2017, a similar staged gas attack was orchestrated right on the verge of a joint Assad/Putin victory in the Syrian conflict and the global outcry fed into Western agenda.

Almost to the date of the anniversary of this atrocious crime, it has been committed again when the Assad government has just about won the war.

The most recent attempt to stage and accuse Russia and more directly Putin was on British soil but was fortunately exposed by another British institution.

What other evidence did the world and its statesmen and women need to recognize the intentions of some of these Western nations? We all remained silent risking the probability of a World War.

Is the world so unaware of how close we came to the outbreak of war? We may therefore not be in the correct frame of mind to recognize the need to express our gratitude to God, Putin and Russia for the restraint they have exercised in this provocation. We must also congratulate the Russian and Syrian military for intercepting most of the recent missiles.

How could Theresa May, have fallen for this act? How could the capitalist West feel threatened and intimidated by a Russian leader who has earned the true respect, admiration and loyalty not only of his people, but the world at large?

The leadership of both China and Russia are providing the needed international stability while the US and her allies find their feet and their moral compass. The leadership of China and Russia appear to have adopted a sympathetic and supportive role to enable the West recover. In spite of this, the West and her allies are abusing human rights with downright impunity and insensitivity.

The cool-headedness of Putin as opposed to the desperation and sometimes hysterical behavior of certain Western leaders has made a heroic figure of Putin well beyond his borders.

A fine opportunity to create a better and stable world based on freedom, justice and morality is being undermined, being rejected in what appears to be a desperate attempt to restore a Cold War climate. Can’t leaders of this world speak out?

For those of us in the developing world, we only need to remind ourselves of the powers that kept the brutal apartheid regime propped up for so long. A cursory glance at the fate of Palestinians and Yemenis should tell us the callous creature that the savagery of capitalism has turned out to be since the collapse of the bipolar authority.

America and her allies have over the years appeared determined to maintain a unipolar power no matter what it takes through incidents of unjust wars, wanton provocation, intimidation and casting of judgment without trial.

If integrity, truthfulness and justice must give way to falsehood and deceit to enable them control and rule the world, so be it and to hell with it. If the integrity of intelligence operatives and others can be subjected to polygraph tests to ascertain their integrity and truthfulness, what puts politicians and others above the truth in circumstances of this nature?

*John Rawlings is former President of the Republic of Ghana

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Blackmail will not Stop N22 bn NEMA Funds Probe- Reps
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Hon E,J Agbonayinma

Hon E,J Agbonayinma

The Nigeria’s House of Representatives has said blackmail or campaign of calumny will not make it end its ongoing investigation into violation of public trust by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Reacting to reports in some national dailies, on the ongoing investigation by the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, ‎Hon E.J Agbonayinma, said: ” The House is not fixated on any person in particular, but finding out the truth behind the allegations of diversion of N22 billion  intervebtion funds.”

“We observed with dismay, the campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the Presidency, especially His Excellency the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN.

“We, therefore, want to know if the council under the Vice President authorised the suspension of the directors.

“Notwithstanding, the provision of Section 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), empowers the National Assembly to invite any person to appear before it, or its Committee during investigations.

“The Committee resolved that His Excellency the Vice President can send anybody to represent him considering his busy schedules.

This Committee will leave no stone unturned until we unearth the truth”, he said.

The House further denied  receiving a petition from suspended members of staff of NEMA, adding that they got to know about their suspension through a disclosure made by the director general, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja, during one of the hearings.

“The issue of the suspended directors was mentioned by the Director General Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja himself during one of the Committee hearing, when he introduced a new Director of Finance and we sought to know what happened to the former director and he admitted to suspending them.

“The Committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because these same directors are witnesses in the ongoing investigation.

“We will also not shield any public officer who soil their hands no matter how highly or lowly placed,” the lawmakers said.

The investigation is on the following releases from January to December, 2017;

 

  1. Release of 5.9B Food Intervention in the North East,
  2. Release of 3.1B Food Intervention in North East
  3. Release of 1.6B for Libya Returnees
  4. Release of 1.6B Flood Intervention for 16 States,
  5. Donation of 6,779 Metric Tons of Rice by Chinese Government.
  6. Payment of about N800Million Demurrage on the donated Rice by Chinese Rice
  7.  The un-accounted 10Billion release from Ecological Funds.‎

 

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Lauren: Africa’s teams at the World Cup will not get past last eight
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stanley Kwenda*

Former Cameroon international Lauren played at the World Cup in 1998 and 2002

Former Cameroon international Lauren played at the World Cup in 1998 and 2002

Former Cameroon and Arsenal defender, Lauren, says none of the African teams at the World Cup will get past the quarter finals in Russia.

He says a combination of mismanagement and a difference in quality means Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco will struggle.

No African nation has made it past the last eight of the World Cup.

“I could say Africa will be in the semis, we’re going to win, but that’s not the reality,” he told BBC Sport.

“To be honest with you I can’t see any of them go further than the quarter finals.

“This is my honest opinion because we are still one step behind the top teams.

“I can’t see them challenge the Germans, Argentina, Spain or Brazil, they are not in that level.”

Lauren, who played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals with Cameroon, is also unhappy with the way football is run on the continent.

“I don’t like to lie to people. I am very honest, I speak my mind because we don’t do things the right way,” the 41-year-old added.

“It happens in football, it happens in so many other African societies.”

He believes that his experience in football could benefit the running of the game in Africa.

“Politics is in my blood but I wouldn’t like to really got into politics,” the Arsenal ambassador explained.

“But maybe to try to help African football with the knowledge I have got about business and how to do things in a structural way.”

To date only three African nations have reached the last eight at the World Cup; first were Cameroon in 1990, followed by Senegal in 2002 and then most recently Ghana in 2010.

Morocco make a return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. They were paired with Spain, European Champions Portugal and Iran.

Egypt are back after a 28-year absence and will play in a group alongside Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Tunisia are in a tough-looking group with Belgium, England and Panama.

Senegal will take on Poland, Columbia and Japan as they begin their bid to emulate their feats of 2002 in Japan and South Korea.

Nigeria, who are making their sixth appearance at the finals and in the same group as Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

*BBC

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South Africa backs Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
This is Morocco's fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals

This is Morocco’s fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals

The South Africa Football Association (Safa) has pledged its ‘unqualified’ support for Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States and is aiming to become the second African country to host the World Cup after South Africa in 2010.

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity and naysayers should stop using the political argument,” said Safa president Dr Danny Jordaan.

“Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” the Safa President added.

Morocco are making their fifth bid to host the tournament.

They have previously campaigned for the right to organise the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Former Cameroon goalkeeper, Joseph-Antoine Bell, is visiting South Africa as part of a delegation representing the Morocco bid.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards; from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” Bell said.

“Morocco needs South Africa’s voice, it is the loudest voice on the continent,” added the Cameroonian.

South Africa’s backing for Morocco’s 2026 bid follows similar pledges of support from both Algeria and Guinea-Bissau.

The hosts for the 2026 World Cup will be decided in Russia on 13 June

*BBC

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Visa fraud: Akufo-Addo suspends NSA board chair
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Kwadwo Baah

Kwadwo Baah

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has suspended from office, with immediate effect, the chairperson of the Board of the National Sports Authority, Kwadwo Baah Agyeman.

His suspension follows the arrest and deportation of over 50 Ghanaians who were illegally entering Australia for the just ended Commonwealth Games.

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia communicated the decision of President Akufo-Addo to Mr. Baah Agyeman on following the absence from the jurisdiction of the President, who is attending the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, United Kingdom.

Last week, President Akufo-Addo suspended the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide and the acting Director General of the National Sports Authority,Robert Sarfo Mensah over the same issue.

“The decision to suspend Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyeman has been taken following preliminary investigations conducted into the circumstances that led to the arrest of some sixty (60) Ghanaians, who had allegedly attempted to enter Australia by false pretences, at the 21st Commonwealth Games,” a statement from the presidency said.

“The three officials, together with the President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah; and the Chef-de-Maison for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mr Mohammed Sahnoon, are to assist the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service in the ongoing investigations into the matter,” the statement added.

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Ghana will share development experiences with Liberia – Vice President
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Bawumia and Liberia Delegation

Bawumia and Liberia Delegation

Vice president of the Republic of Ghana Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has assured Liberia that Ghana is ready to share experiences as they seek to move on as a country.

The ties between Ghana and Liberia will also be strengthened as the two nations explore ways to share knowledge and help meet the aspirations of their citizens, Dr. Bawumia stressed when the Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Cianeh Howard Taylor, paid a courtesy call on him at the Jubilee House, Accra.

Citing the challenges the Nana Akufo-Addo government faced when it assumed office about 15 months ago and the strides made since then, Vice President Bawumia assured Mrs Taylor that her country’s fortunes could be turned around with dedication and hard work.

“Issues such as stabilising the macro economy, restoring business confidence and making the education curriculum relevant to the needs of the people of Liberia are key”, Dr. Bawumia stated, adding “ensuring value addition to agricultural products and a policy of infrastructure development and industrialization would also go a long way to provide jobs for the youth.”

On her part, Mrs. Taylor indicated she and her team are in Ghana to learn from her experiences and share ideas on how to develop Liberia and the sub region as a whole.

They would also explore the possibility of engaging the services of retired Ghanaian doctors and teachers to help strengthen the capacity of Liberian institutions, she announced.

Mrs. Taylor expressed the gratitude of Liberians for Ghana’s assistance during the war period and even after, when a large number of refugees were hosted at Buduburam in the Central Region, declaring, “Ghana has become like home to us.”

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Ghana is a haven of peace to invest – Akufo-Addo
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo with the mayor of London Sadiq Khan

President Akufo Addo with the mayor of London Sadiq Khan

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has told investors and business leaders from the UK that Ghana is the ideal place in the West African region to invest and conduct business.

“Ghana is a haven of peace, security and stability, a country where the principles of democratic accountability are now firmly entrenched in its body politic, and where the separation of powers is real, to promote accountable governance.” The Ghanaian Head of State said.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2nd edition of the UK-Ghana Investment Summit, organized by the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that his government is keen on establishing a business-friendly economy to attract foreign direct investments to exploit Ghana’s great potential on mutually satisfactory terms.

Stressing that investments are protected in fact and in law in Ghana, the President assured that “the rule of law in Ghana is not a slogan, but an operating principle of state development. We want to participate in the global market place, not on the basis of the exports of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make.”

The President continued, “We want to bring greater dignity to the lives of millions of people in Ghana. We want to build a Ghana Beyond Aid. I believe very strongly that Ghana is on the cusp of a new, bold beginning, which will repudiate the recent culture of failure.”

Private sector key

President Akufo-Addo indicated that his Government is of the firm conviction that the role of the private sector in the development of our national economy is crucial, adding that “it is the very essence of our economic philosophy, and has been so for 70 odd years.”

In furtherance of this, he stated that over the past 15 months in office, his administration has set about putting in place the measures needed to reduce the cost of doing business and improve the business environment in Ghana.

The President noted that “our actions have resulted in the growing stability of the macro-economy and the cedi, reduction in inflation, and an abolition of nuisance taxes whose aim is to shift the focus of the economy from taxation to production.”

The “effective economic policies” put in place, he said, have ensured that the fiscal deficit, which stood at 9.5% at the end of 2016, has been reduced to 5.6% at the end of 2017, and is projected to go down to 4.5% in 2018.

Inflation, the President added, has declined from 15.6% at the end of 2016 to 10.4% at the end of March this year, and is expected to decline even further to an end-of-year single digit target of 8.9%; with economic growth increasing from 3.6% in 2016 to 8.5% in 2017.

The President stressed that “as a result of appropriate policy, and the normalisation of the power situation in Ghana, these interventions have also led to the revival of Ghanaian industry, from a growth rate of negative 0.5% in 2016 to 17.7% in 2017. Interest rates are declining, and we are now witnessing a more stable cedi, our national currency. Our macro-economy is growing stronger.”

At the same time, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Government has implemented specific measures which are leading Ghana and her economy into the new digital age.

These, he said, include the introduction of an e-business registration system, a paperless port clearance system, a digital addressing system, a mobile interoperability system, and a national identification card system, all of which are designed to formalise the Ghanaian economy, reduce the cost of doing business, and facilitate interaction between businesses and their clients, particularly in a technology-driven era, where connectivity through digital services is an important element in achieving competitiveness.

Infrastructural Development

A key challenge of Ghana’s economy, like many other economies in Africa, the President said, is its infrastructural deficit.

He told the gathering that Ghana is embarking on an aggressive public-private-partnership programme to attract investment in the development of both the country’s road and railway infrastructure.

“We are hopeful that, with solid private sector participation, we can develop a modern railway network with strong production centre linkages and with the potential to connect us to our neighbours to the north, i.e. Burkina Faso, to the west, i.e. Cote d’Ivoire, and to the east, i.e. Togo. We believe that this is an area where British technology and expertise would be very welcome,” he said.
He added that “there are several projects in roads, water transport, industry, manufacturing, agriculture, petroleum and gas, renewable energy, the exploitation of our mineral wealth of bauxite, iron ore and gold, and the ICT sector, amongst others, which are being structured to attract private sector financing.”

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Amid 2019 Elections: I am more concerned with Nigeria’s economy, security — President Buhari
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Nigeria’s President Muhmmadu Buhari has said issues of security and the economy are more important to him than the 2019 elections.

Buhari stated this when he visited Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at 10, Downing Street, London, on Monday.

According to the Presidential Spokes man Femi Adesina “The three-pronged focus of the current administration resonated through the meeting.”

“We have elections next year, politicians are already preoccupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy.”

Buhari added :‎” It was a mistake for us to have stopped the teaching of history as a subject in schools, but we are returning it to the curriculum now,”

“British companies like Unilever, Cadbury, and many others have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin. Even when we fought a Civil War, they never left.

“We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria. We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment.”

Briefing May on the strides in the education sector, Buhari  said more investment was being made, because “people can look after themselves if well educated. In this age of technology, education is very important. We need well-staffed and well-equipped institutions to move into the next generation”.

Responding, May said Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in the areas of training and equipping the military. 

She was particular about the abduction of young schoolgirls by Boko Haram, noting that Britain would continue to give Nigeria needed assistance.

The prime minister said the Buhari administration has “been making good progress on the economy,” and urged it to maintain the focus, despite approaching elections, and increase in political activities.

On education and climate change, she declared: “Good grounding in education is good. It is important to equip young people for today’s world. It is also a good bastion and defence against modern slavery. The issue of the environment and climate change is very important, because of its impact on many countries in the Commonwealth. Stability at home is important, to curb illegal migration.”

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World Bank granting loan to other States ignoring Kaduna is unjustified — El-Rufai
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

‎By Olayinka Ajayi

Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai says the World Bank granting loan to any state without Kaduna unjustifiable .

Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai

Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai

Speaking at the 2018 law week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barnawa branch, Kaduna, el-Rufai wondered why the upper legislative chamber blocked his state when it “met all the conditions” for the loan.

“Kaduna is among the states which applied for loan from World Bank but while the senate approved the facility for others, it rejected the $350 million request of Kaduna based on opposition from the three senators representing the state.”

Represented by his deputy, Barnabas Bala Bantex, the governor alleged that the refusal of the senate to approve the loan request had a political undertone.

The governor said the World Bank is faced with a moral issue to grant the loan to other states without Kaduna, which according to him, is most qualified for the loan.

“World Bank won’t grant loan to any state without Kaduna… the World Wank has a moral burden to deal with. How do we handle not approving or not giving out a loan for which a state government is fully qualified and approve to others, which I wouldn’t say are less qualified? That is the moral issue facing the World Bank,” he said.

In his address, the governor said the role of the NBA is the struggle for the improvement of the socio-economic situation of the country.

He said insecurity and corruption were the main challenges facing Nigeria and called on the NBA to collaborate with the government to address the menace.

“Insecurity and corruption are the major set back to any nation. When there is corruption, it ruins the economy and retards development. Insecurity discourages foreign investors,” he said.

“For us to tackle these, there must be a synergy with stakeholders like the NBA and the judiciary.”

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A True Natural Postcard, Despite All Its Political And Economic Troubles-Insight into Guinea-Bissau with Umaro Djau
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation, says Umaro Djau

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation, says Umaro Djau

For all its political, and economic troubles, Guinea -Bissau is one of the world’s true natural postcards, says Strategic Communications Specialist,and  Journalist Umaro Djau. While the chequered political past has had a toll on the development of the country, Umaro Djau thinks that there is every reason to be hopeful for the future of Guinea- Bissau. The economic potential is there, and with the right leadership to tap into the development zest of the youthful, and dynamic population, he believes that Guinea -Bissau will become the envy of many. From its history, to political, to social, and  to economic perspectives, Umaro Djau took time off to share insights on his country, Guinea- Bissau with PAV.

Mr. Umaro Djau, thanks so much for accepting to share perspectives on Guinea-Bissau for us. Very little is known or heard about Guinea Bissau, can you introduce the country for us?

Umaro Djau: I’ll start by giving you the practical answer that I usually give to people that I would occasionally meet – whether they’re co-workers, neighbors, or total strangers. Guinea-Bissau is located near Senegal, in West Africa. It shares borders with Senegal (to the North) and Guinea, commonly known as Guinea-Conakry (to the South). It’s a small Portuguese-speaking country with less than 2 million people. By comparison, it is always said that Guinea-Bissau is the size of Connecticut. If you want to be more specific, by size, Guinea-Bissau is the 13th smallest country in Africa, with little bit over 36 thousand square kilometers or almost 14 thousand square miles. We’re a low-lying country located on the North Atlantic coast, with more than 80 islands, not to mention our rain forests, swamps, and wetlands. Those natural fixtures and wonders make Guinea-Bissau an amazingly beautiful country to live and visit. A beautiful tropical postcard, if you wish.

 We will get into more specifics later, but how is life like in the country and what are some of the things that are peculiar to the people of Guinea-Bissau?

Umaro Djau: Like many other West African countries, people in Guinea-Bissau have coexisted for many centuries, sharing common ancestry, history, struggles, but also being able to live side by side, despite many ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences. I told you about the small size of the country a short while, but the most amazing thing is that, in that small territory there are over 20 ethnic groups, practicing different religions or other traditional beliefs.  Guinea-Bissau is a country where there is no hegemony when it comes to its national identity, despite five centuries of European presence and influence. So, socio-culturally and linguistically speaking, it’s a nation in construction with Muslims, Christians, and people of other beliefs, beautifully coexisting and living side by side in peace.

Countries like Cape Verde, which are similar to Guinea-Bissau in many respects, are doing relatively well economically. What is the situation in your country and how is the economy doing ?

Umaro Djau: I’m glad you mentioned Cape Verde, which shares a common history with my home country. Cape Verdeans and Bissau-Guineans are brothers and sisters with common history and ancestry. Politically speaking, there are very few examples in the world where one political figure is a national hero for two independent and separate nations. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde share our beloved Amílcar Lopes Cabral, the figure that led their struggle and fight for independence from Portugal. But today, unfortunately, we fail by comparison in so many aspects, particularly in the economy and in politics. Cape Verde has been a viable country – politically and economically — even within the broader African context.

If you were to ask almost anyone in Guinea-Bissau, they would tell you that our economy has been negatively impacted by the never-ending political and military crises since the beginning of the 1980s, when the first coup d’état took place, just seven years after the country’s unilateral independence from Portugal. Here and there, Guinea-Bissau has known some periods of economic growth, but these bright and brief phases have been often overtaken by one crisis after another.As the economists would tell you, political and military stability are the currencies for any economic growth. As a result, Guinea-Bissau has lacked an environment conducive to foreign and private investments due to constant fear of a potential military and political outburst. This lack of foreign and good private investments is probably the reason why agriculture still accounts for over 50 percent of the national’s GDP. And cashew exports have been leading the chart. But, if you want to put it into a greater context, it is believed that two out of three Bissau-Guineans find themselves below the absolute poverty line. According to World Bank, the current international poverty line, is about $1.90 per day. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, I’m quite sure that a clear majority of its population live with under one dollar per day. So, no matter what current national statistics tell you about the annual national growth, it’s obvious that people in Guinea-Bissau are living under extreme poverty. Thankfully though, Bissau-Guineans are very resilient people.

To Umaro Djau,Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe

To Umaro Djau, Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe.

In follow up  to what you have just described, are there opportunities for foreign investors, and how is the investment climate in the country?

Umaro Djau: Absolutely. There are plenty of opportunities not only for potential foreign investors, but also from those within the country. Look, Guinea-Bissau is a raw country. Raw in the sense that we have so many areas in need of some economic input; areas that – should I say – are screaming for investments. Agriculture, health, education, fishery, infrastructure, energy, electricity, tourism, etc. I do recognize however, that for us to attract any small or big investor, the country needs to be seen as a viable place to invest. But, it is going to take more than improving the perception itself. It is of utmost importance to create conditions and guarantees that investors will have a just return for their initial or consequent investments. Thus, there is a great need to improve and strengthen the country’s policies and institutional support for those who are seriously considering investing in Guinea-Bissau. Unfortunately, when I look around the country, I see a lot of foreign and regional companies trying to sell their products, but rarely do I see long-term investors. I also see a lot of seasonal traders, whether they are buyers of raw cashews or timber, flocking the country for their short-term business goals. Guinea-Bissau needs to change all that by coming up with better policies and institutional frameworks that would attract and retain quality-investors, which in turn, would benefit the country through capital gains and jobs creation.

You briefly spoke about tourism. For those who have never visited the country, how much of a tourist destination is Guinea Bissau? What’s there to see and are there guarantees for the safety and security of people who visit?

Umaro Djau: Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe. Its proximity, climate, coastal areas, natural wonders, sandy beaches and its overall weather conditions constitute the country’s strengths when it comes to attracting those seeking a place to enjoy their personal or family vacations. I remember mentioning the country’s landscape beautifully sprinkled with over 80 islands. That’s in the Bijagos, the heartland of Guinea-Bissau’s touristic paradise. Not only does the archipelago offer  its sandy beaches, but also a great diversity of fauna and some rare and protected sea species, something that would certainly attract many ecological tourists.

Everywhere you go, the country would give you something to enjoy. For instance, there are many beautiful natural parks (Lagoon of Cufada, Cantanhez Forest National Park), among other national wonders, some fortresses, old colonial cities and monuments. So, whether you’re attracted to urban settings or rural ones, you’ll certainly find something exciting to do in Guinea-Bissau. And here’s something many don’t mention, people in Guinea-Bissau are very kind and nice. They’re welcoming. They’re friendly. I know that I’m sounding like a TV commercial, Guinea-Bissau is a true, natural postcard, despite all its political and economic troubles.

Obviously, the tourism sector is often vulnerable in a developing country due to lack of infrastructures and other key public services. In that front, Guinea-Bissau needs to improve things like roads, hospitals and the health system in general. Add to that reliable transportation between the main city and other cities and/or regions. The biggest challenge is traveling to and from all those islands. They ought to be serious government and private investments to facilitate those connections. As for communication, it’s widely recognized that the country has made important gains, most specifically in the telephone through two private phone carriers. However, the Internet is still at its infancy but it’s enough to get by.

You mentioned the issue of security. Yes, security is a major concern for any country, particularly considering the concerns about international terrorism and other forms of violence. What I can tell you is that crime level is substantially low in Guinea-Bissau. And there haven’t been any reported cases of violence against foreign tourists as far as I know. That’s very encouraging to me and many Bissau-Guineans.

 

Umaro Djau says the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives

Umaro Djau says the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives

For a country of about two million, how can you explain the complex political history that it has had?

Umaro Djau: I don’t think the country’s historical complexities are really the issue here. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde fought a heroic war for independence, something that is widely and internationally recognized as a triumph against their common colonial power, Portugal. Many historian and political analysts would agree that the way Guinea-Bissau was ruled following its independence dictated the paths that followed. In a way, I think you’re also correct because many African countries, Guinea-Bissau included, have been ruled in accordance with the political ideologies of their freedom political parties. Having been through an armed-conflict, the country could not easily distant itself from a military-type of rule, following its independence. That historical reality clouded every political decision afterwards and led to many internal conflicts. All that said, I also believe that Guinea-Bissau is going through a profound period of social adjustment. But the risk is that – intentionally or not — this “social adjustment” is being rushed by the political atmosphere, instead of a normal socioeconomic evolution, coupled with one’s educational and professional accomplishments. However, in Guinea-Bissau, people are trying to gain their “status” through reliance solely on politics.

What impact has this checkered political past had on the development of the country?

Umaro Djau: The impact of that political past is beyond what people outside the country would imagine. Just think about it: for almost two decades, Guinea-Bissau was ruled by a single-party system. A single-party system that controlled everything – the presidency, the government, the national assembly, the military, the police, the security agencies, the court system and so on. Everything was embedded on that single-party system and dictated by it. Without the proper accountability and rule of law, public servants were forced to embrace a culture of blind loyalty to the ruling elite, whose political party became the most important leverage for anyone to survive. This political culture became the foundation of the country and hindered any hope for development – as corruption and lack of transparency became the new norm.

Umaro Djau believes that President Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him

Umaro Djau believes that President Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him

How has the current leader fared so far, where has he done well and where has he had shortcomings?

Umaro Djau: Note that Guinea-Bissau is technically a democratic country since 1991 and our political system encourages a separation of power between many branches of the state, government, and the head of state. So, we do not have a single “leader” per say. According to our Constitution, we have what’s known as a semi-presidential system. We have the president, the head of government and the legislative branch, locally-known as the National Assembly.

However, today the biggest political (and intellectual) debate revolves around what can be the best system of government for Guinea-Bissau. For instance, President Jose Mario Vaz is being accused of usurpation of power, extending his political powers beyond his constitutional boundaries. There is also a fair criticism of the current President of the National Assembly, Cipriano Cassama, who is accused of blocking the normal functioning of that institution.

In the mix of all of that, the major political parties are playing their cards to defend or protect their interests. As expected in situations like these, each party is offering their own arguments. And all this against a backdrop of more than three years of political crisis, despite all the actions of many international and regional organizations – the UN, the ECOWAS, and the African Union – which have tried to bring about common understanding among the major political players.

In my humble opinion, the head of state has had so many political shortcomings. Mr. Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him. Just think about it, the country has had 6 heads of government since mid-2014. The president has just announced the 7th prime-minister in less than 4 years, as a result of the latest political agreement in Lome, Togo, under the sponsorship of the regional organization, the ECOWAS. That’s a lot to comprehend and digest! But, more than ascertaining his constitutional powers, I think that this shows his inability to lead and exert his influence in a positive manner. As US President Truman’s desk sign would remind his fellow Americans and visitors, “The Buck Stops” with the president. It means basically that one, particularly a head of state, cannot refrain from their constitutional responsibilities and obligations.

When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world,says Umaru Djau.

When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world, says Umaro Djau.

 How accurate are reports that the country has been a major transit road for drugs, anything the authorities are doing change this perception?

Umaro Djau: These reports go as far back as the year of 2005, having reached its climax around 2012, when the last coup d’état took place. It is generally believed that the situation has improved thanks partially to pressure and pragmatic actions from outside countries, including the United States, as well as other international organizations. It’s hard to keep up with reports on drug trafficking, but now that the Guinea-Bissau’s military and the security forces seem to be exerting less political power and less influence, drug traffickers may be challenged as they attempt to find traffic routes and protection in the country. Geographically – particularly for those coming from South and Central America — it’s almost impossible to prevent local, regional and international traffickers to pass through the national territory. It’s my hope that the country has learned its lesson from the past. Most importantly, it’s a matter of national security. With that in mind, we have an obligation to take this issue seriously. After all, being called a narco-state is a hard pill to swallow for many Bissau-Guineans, and also as a matter of national proudness and moral imperative, there has been a great deal of self-awareness to unlink the country from that term, at least at the state level.

On the other hand, as you may be aware, drug trafficking is not always directly correlated to levels of development of a country or the existing legal systems; So, this is not only a Guinea-Bissau’s problem. It’s a world problem. Guinea-Bissau will just need to do its part and remain cautious and firm in combating any illicit drug trafficking within its borders.

When you look at the country, what makes you hopeful for its future, and what are your fears, and if we may add, what kind of leadership does the country need to catch up countries like Cape Verde which are making faster progress?

Umaro Djau: There are so many aspects of Guinea-Bissau that make me very hopeful.  Starting with our people, the most important resource for any country – rich or poor. When compared to other countries, Guinea-Bissau has a very young population, most of it ranging from 25 to 45 years of age. So, we have the human energy. Now, we have to make sure that we’re able to educate our youth and equip them with knowledge, academic, professional and technical training, so that they’re able to be an integral part in today’s workforce.

My biggest fear is that the current unemployment rate may trigger other problems such as delinquency and crime. But again, if we seriously invest in educating and training our youth, they’ll find their right place in our society. For that to happen, Bissau-Guineans must have the courage to choose the right leaders, leaders who can transform the current challenges into new and bright opportunities for all.

When I look through Guinea-Bissau’s political spectrum, I see a lot of political players who really have no clue about what their functions and responsibilities are. Political players who do not seem to care about the people and the country. The only thing that moves them is their personal interests. We must change that. When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world.

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation. After that, I strongly believe that everything else will fall into place. The country will be able to takeoff. And the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives. Yes, I’m hopeful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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flydubai marks Africa expansion with Kinshasa inaugural
April 16, 2018 | 0 Comments
flydubai is the first national carrier for the UAE to create direct air links to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, April 15, 2018/ —

  • Dubai-based carrier launches daily flights to Kinshasa with enroute stop in Entebbe
  • flydubai’s network in Africa grows to 13 destinations across 10 countries

Dubai-based flydubai’s (www.flydubai.com) inaugural flight touched down today at N’djili Airport (Kinshasa International Airport – FIH).  flydubai will operate daily flights to N’djili Airport with an enroute stop in Entebbe.

flydubai is the first national carrier for the UAE to create direct air links to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa and with the start of the service sees its comprehensive network in Africa grow to 13 destinations in 10 countries.

With the start of flights to Kinshasa another gateway is opened up for passengers from the GCC, Russia and the Indian Subcontinent into Central Africa.  Passengers from Kinshasa have access to more than 90 destinations on the flydubai network and through its codeshare partnership with Emirates (www.Emirates.com) can connect easily and conveniently to Emirates’ destinations spanning six continents in over 80 countries.

The inaugural flight touched down at 14:20 (local time) and on board was a delegation led by Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Indian Subcontinent & Africa) for flydubai. The delegation was met on arrival by Mr. Tshiumba Pmunga Jean, Director General, Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Kufula Makila Rex, Cabinet Director, Minister of Transport and Mr. Bilenge Abdala – General Director RVA- (Régie des Voies Aériennes).

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said on the launch of flights to Kinshasa: “As one of the largest and most populous cities in Africa, Kinshasa, is a key hub for travel and trade. Africa is one of the UAE’s emerging trade partners and with the opening of this new route to one of the busiest airports in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there will be further opportunities to strengthen commercial ties across a neighbouring continent with vast natural resources.”

The fast-growing economies of the countries of Africa are important trading markets for the UAE and their increasing prosperity will ensure that their contribution of visitor numbers to Dubai will similarly grow strongly.

Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Indian Subcontinent and Africa) at flydubai, who led the inaugural delegation, added: “Africa has been an important market for flydubai since the airline’s launch in 2009.  We continue to see strong demand for direct airlinks and last year flydubai contributed 13% of the total growth at Dubai Airports for the African market. I am pleased to see our network in Africa grow to 13 destinations in 10 countries with the launch today of flights to Kinshasa. With the start of the daily service from Dubai’s aviation hub to one of the largest countries in Africa, passengers will have access to increased connectivity.”

All flights to and from Kinshasa will offer travellers flydubai’s onboard experience, whether opting for priority services and more space and privacy in Business Class, or enjoying flexibility and convenience as a passenger in Economy Class.

flydubai will codeshare this route with Emirates. With the partnership, passengers can connect easily and conveniently to over 90 of flydubai’s destinations which complement the Emirates route network, spanning six continents in over 80 countries.

For bookings under the codeshare, Emirates passengers receive complimentary meals and the Emirates checked baggage allowance on flights operated by flydubai in Business and Economy classes.

In under 10 years, flydubai has grown an extensive network across Africa and currently offers flights to Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Asmara, Djibouti, Entebbe, Hargeisa, Juba, Khartoum and Port Sudan as well as Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.

Flight Timings are in Local Time

Flight Number Frequency Departure Airport Departure Time Arrival Airport Arrival Time
FZ617 Daily Dubai International Terminal 2 8:00 Entebbe International Airport 12:20
FZ617 Daily Entebbe International Airport 13:20 Kinshasa International Airport 14:20
FZ618 Daily Kinshasa International Airport 15:20 Entebbe International Airport 20:15
FZ618 Daily Entebbe International Airport 21:15 Dubai International Terminal 2 03:45

 

Business Class return fares will start at AED 6,000 (USD1580) and are inclusive of all taxes and 40kg checked baggage.  Economy Class return fares will start at AED 2,700 (USD521) including 20kg checked baggage.

Flights can be booked through flydubai’s website (www.flydubai.com), the official flydubai App, Contact Centre in Dubai on (+971) 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shops or through our travel partners.

For more information about Holidays by flydubai, please visit: https://Holidays.flydubai.com/en

For the full timetable and fares, visit: www.flydubai.com/en/plan/timetable

About flydubai
From its home in Dubai, flydubai (www.flydubai.com) has created a network of more than 100 destinations and over the next decade the airline will see its fleet grow by up to 296 aircraft. Since commencing operations in June 2009, flydubai has been committed to removing barriers to travel, creating free flows of trade and tourism and enhancing connectivity between different cultures across its ever-expanding network.

flydubai has marked its journey with a number of milestones that represent the scale of the ambition planned for the airline:
• An expanding network: Created a network of more than 100 destinations in 46 countries across Africa, Central Asia, The Caucasus, Eastern Europe, The GCC and The Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent.
• Serving underserved markets: Opened up more than 70 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai or were not served by a UAE national carrier from Dubai.
• An efficient single fleet-type: Operates a single fleet-type of 61 aircraft including Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
• Record-breaking orders: Placed the largest single-aisle aircraft orders in the region at the 2013 and 2017 editions of the Dubai Airshow.
• Enhancing connectivity: Carried 10.9 million passengers across its network in 2017.

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The Mohammed IV Museum for Water Civilization in Marrakech – AMAN – will host the second edition of “African Women in Agriculture Congress” (AWA) May 8th to 10th, 2018.
April 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

AWA Congress is an initiative of Believe in Africa which vision is to create opportunities for the less privileged. Believe in Africa is, therefore, inviting the world to converge to Morocco to discuss the role of African Women in agriculture, improve their living conditions and help them get the support they need.

The second edition of the AWA Congress will be co-chaired by Her Excellence Aissata Issoufou, First Lady of Republic of Niger joined by Her Excellence Hilda Deby Itno, First Lady of the Republic of Chad, Mrs Nadira El Guermai, Governor National coordinator of the National Human Development Initiative (INDH) , H.E. Fatoumata Tambajang, Vice President of the Republic of Gambia, H.E. Khoudia MBAYE, Minister of Investment Promotion, Partnerships and Teleservices of Senegal. The high level dialogue aims at creating a network of stakeholders dedicated to ensuring the effective empowerment of African women in agriculture helping them feed the continent and the world.

 

During two days, worldwide recognized personalities such as:

  • Mr. Jean Pierre Senghor, National Executive SecretaryFood Security Council, Senegal
  • Mrs. Maria Mulindi, Chief of Staff, Président of the African Development Bank, Kenya
  • Mrs Lissar Mbang Ekoutou, Vice Président,  de la Chambre d’Agriculture, de l’Elevage, des Pêches et des Forêts of Cameroon (CAPEF)
  • Amb. Sidahmed Alphadi, Unesco Arstist for Peace, Niger
  • Dr. Wanida Lewis, Foreign Affairs Officer, State Department, Office of Agriculture Policy, USA
  • Mrs. Brabrahim Nadia, President, Federation Interprofessionnelle de l’heliciculture, Morroco
  • Mrs. Ada Osakwe, Chief Executive Officer, Agrolay, ADB Youth Advisory Council, Nigeria
  • Mrs. Lucy Muchoki,Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Agribusiness Consortium, (PanAAC) – Kenya
  • Mme Olga Johnson, Managing Director, Energies for Africa, Benin
  • Mrs. Rahama Wright, Founder et CEO, Shea Yeleen, US, Member of US Advisor Council on doing Business in Africa, USA
  • Pr. Zoubida Charrouf, University Mohammed V, Morocco
  • Mrs. Carole Robert, Foundation Biotechnologie pour le Développement Durable en Afrique (BDA), Canada
  • Patrick Andre, Founder, BOTANICOSM’ETHIC, France
  • Mrs Karima El Kmiti, Managing Director, Qualavi , Morroco

among others will take the stand to share their experience in agriculture and provide solutions for the betterment of African women in agriculture.

For more informations, contact us at

au believeinafrica1@gmail.com ou +212 677 77 87 21

 

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NIGERIA LOOTERS’ LIST: PRESSURE, HACK WRITING, WILL NOT INTIMIDATE US – FG
April 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government of Nigeria has stated  that no pressure,  antics of hack writers and threats of litigation, will prevent it from releasing more names of the alleged looters of the public treasury.

Speaking in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said since the release of two lists of the alleged looters, there have been attempts to blackmail the Federal Government into discontinuing the release of more looters’ names.

”Hack writers have inundated the social and traditional media with articles casting aspersion on the lists, while some newspapers have even resorted to writing editorials against the Federal Government over the release of the lists. Most of the write-ups have accused the government of politicising the anti-graft war by releasing the lists.
We strongly disagree with them.”

”We do not have the power to try or convict anyone. That is the exclusive preserve of the courts. But we have the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the government has always known that corruption will fight back, fast and furious, hence it is not surprised at the hiring of hack writers to attack the very idea of naming and shaming the looters, or the hysterical threats of litigation

”All the fuss about politicising the anti-corruption fight is aimed at preventing the government from releasing more looters’ names and at the same time muddling the waters. But 1,000 negative write-ups or editorials will not deter us from releasing the third and subsequent lists. For those who have chosen to give succour to looters, we wish them the best of luck with their new pastime,” he said.

The Minister said the pressure being mounted on the government over its decision to expose looters is not unexpected, adding: ”We know where the pressure is coming from. However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of.

He challenged anyone who feels that he or she has been wrongly accused to seek redress in court, rather than engaging in exhibitionist sophistry.

Alhaji Mohammed also reminded Nigerians that it was the PDP that dared to challenge the Federal Government into releasing  the list of PDP looters, hence the argument that the list only contained the  names of PDP members falls short without proper contextualization.

”We are not underestimating the desperation of the looters, but we wish to assure Nigerians who are justifiably outraged at the mindless plundering of the nation’s wealth also of our determination not to back down. Nigerians must know those who have wrecked the country and mortgaged the future of their children,” Alhaji Mohammed added.

 

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Thread war: Rwanda takes a stand against cheap, secondhand clothes from the US
April 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

Rwanda has raised tariffs on secondhand clothing shipped from the US claiming the cheaply sold cast-offs undermine local textile companies. In response, the US is suspending duty-free status for clothing manufactured in Rwanda.

By Rodney Muhumuza*

The sweaty mechanic tossed aside the used jeans one by one, digging deep through the pile of secondhand clothes that are at the center of another, if little-noticed, Trump administration trade war.

The used clothes cast off by Americans and sold in bulk in African nations, a multimillion-dollar business, have been blamed in part for undermining local textile industries. Now Rwanda has taken action, raising tariffs on the clothing in defiance of United States pressure. In response, the US says it will suspend duty-free status for clothing manufactured in Rwanda under the trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

President Trump’s decision has not gone down well in Rwanda, a small, largely impoverished East African nation still trying to heal the scars of genocide 24 years ago. Similar US action against neighboring countries could follow; Uganda and Tanzania have pledged to raise tariffs and phase in a ban on used clothing imports by 2019.

The action against Rwanda comes just weeks after Mr. Trump met Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the World Economic Forum and proclaimed him a “friend,” as Trump sought to calm anger in Africa over his reported vulgar comments about the continent.

Mr. Kagame currently chairs the African Union, where heads of state just days after the meeting drafted, but decided against issuing a blistering statement on Trump.

The US trade action is finding a mixed response in Africa, with some upset at Trump again, while others defend the secondhand clothing as popular, inexpensive, and well-made.

The US is a “bully” for retaliating against Rwanda’s efforts to grow its own textile industry, said Dismas Nkuranga, who deals in secondhand footwear in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

“The main objective for Rwanda is to see more companies in the country produce clothes here,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, state minister for foreign affairs. “It’s also about giving Rwandans the dignity they deserve, not wearing secondhand clothes already used by other people.”

But at the sprawling Owino Market in neighboring Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the trade in used clothing continues to crackle, with some sellers shoving merchandise into the arms of shy potential buyers: a pair of jeans for a fraction of a dollar, a T-shirt for even less.

“Affordability is what I want,” said John Ekure, the mechanic who was shopping for jeans.

As some African governments worry that the bulk imports of used clothes constitute dumping, others question the ability of local clothing makers to satisfy appetites for quality goods at rock-bottom prices.

Rwanda has been supporting Chinese investors to set up textile factories in the hopes that the country eventually can produce affordable products and create 350,000 jobs by 2025. But many in Rwanda who praise the government’s decision to raise tariffs as progressive remain concerned about whether that goal can be reached.

 In Uganda, where the per capita income is $615, traders and buyers said they hope the government will not move as swiftly as Rwanda in imposing higher tariffs on used clothes.

One trader said he had noticed a rise in the number of Rwandans coming to his stall to check out trench coats and jackets, apparently because such goods have become rare back home.

“If they are telling us they are going to create many industries making clothes, I can tell you they don’t have the capacity to do that,” Muhammad Kiyingi said of Uganda’s government. “Somebody should tell the government to think carefully.”

He predicted that tightening restrictions on imports of used clothing from the US would lead to a spike in imports from places like China and the United Arab Emirates instead.

Following Rwanda’s lead would “cause more harm than good,” said Ramathan Ggoobi, an economist at Uganda’s Makerere University. “We have not yet built capacity to produce new products … so we would be protecting an inefficient producer.”

To satisfy the demand for Western fashion, African governments could offer incentives for Western textile companies to set up factories on the continent, said Uche Igwe, an analyst who advises the government in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

“It is nice to grow our domestic industries and create employment,” he said. “However, we must first fix our infrastructural deficits so that local producers will produce at competitive costs.”

*AP

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