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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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Sub-regional insurance companies converge amid crisis in public trust
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang

The West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) has opened its 40th annual general meeting and education conference in Banjul on Monday discussing the ways of promoting public trust and confidence in the insurance sector.

The president of the association, Makaireh Badjan, said the main challenge confronting the industry in the sub-region is the lowering of public trust and confidence in their services.

“We need trust and confidence in the insurance sector. Hence we should jointly endeavor as insurance players to enhance public trust and dispel all negative perceptions of insurance,” he said.

Badjan added that they need joint collaboration of stakeholders across the sub-region such as the providers, regulators, public and institutions.

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, said public trust is the ingredient to every discipline.

“Public trust and confidence are crucial to business if you are to improve insurance penetration level in the sub region and in the world at large,” she said.

WAICA membership covers the five English speaking countries in West Africa namely, The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

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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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Ghana, Nigeria most attractive bond markets – Research
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana and Nigeria have been ranked as the most attractive Local and Euro Bond Markets on the continent, according to a new research carried out by South African-based Rand Merchant Bank.

The Research comes in the wake of the recent ranking of Ghana’s economy as the second fastest growing economy on the continent.

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta last week revealed the prospect of issuing a Samurai Bond is bright after leading a high powered government delegation to a Non-Deal roadshow in Japan.

Senior Global Market Researcher at the Rand Merchant Bank Celeste Fauconnier believes Ghana must continue with its fiscal consolidation measures in order to sustain investor confidence.

“If they had a portfolio that says you must invest anywhere in the world, Africa would have felt the pinch,” she said, wondering why would one want to be in Africa which is more risky than going into the US and European bonds.

The US and European bond markets, she said have dedicated African Funds and Ghana and Nigeria are benefiting from it because “they are the most attractive local bond market and Eurobond markets in our portfolio of countries.”

Zambia, she said used to be the most attractive bond market for investors but “unfortunately Zambia is shooting itself in its foot because, it is signing an IMF agreement.”

“We have actually seen London investors moving their investments into bonds from Zambia into Ghana. So Ghana has been benefiting,” she stated.

She thus urged the government of Ghana to continue its fiscal consolidation policy, warning that “any fear will move investors in the local bond market here [Ghana] to the Nigerian bond market.”

Earlier this year, the World Bank said Ghana’s macroeconomic outlook was largely positive based on the 2017 performance, with  GDP growth for 2017  estimated to have almost doubled from the 3.7 percent in 2016, and is expected to stay at that elevated level through 2018.

Also the external position, it said has improved as the trade balance has shifted to a surplus, but it needs to sustain the fiscal consolidation efforts

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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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