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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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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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