Russia Spreading Its Tentacles Across Africa
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Scott Morgan*
When it comes to special operations in Central Africa initiated by the Russians most thoughts and conversations focus on the operations conducted within the Central African Republic over the last two years as either a point of contention or outright fear in some Capitals. But once again history is again repeating itself in Africa.
There have been allegations that after the 2016 Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) that the incumbent President Soussou-Nguesso reportedly hired a Russian Private Military Company to put down the unrest in the vital town of Pointe Noir that occurred after the controversial polls. There was virtually no coverage of the influence in this election. It should be noted that when President Soussou-Nguesso was President for the first time Brazzaville was considered to be an ally of what was then the Soviet Union.
Also when it comes to Russian Operations in Central Africa even though it is not considered being part of Central Africa, the role of Sudan cannot be ignored. Khartoum has been used as a transit and logistics hub for its Operations in CAR. The Change of leadership that recently took place within Sudan will have an impact on Russian Operations in Central Africa. Russia was one of the countries that was coaching the Military in how to react during the final days of the Bashir regime. It would be wonderful if this dynamic was looked into. For the near future it should be taken as a fait accompli that whatever projects are launched in the region by the Kremlin it will have some form of presence in Sudan.
Another aspect that has been proving to be interesting regarding Russian Activities in the region is the media coverage regarding them or the efforts by the Putin Government and their allies to manipulate their coverage of the activities. One needs to recall the incident where four journalists for a Russian Opposition news site were ambushed and killed in the Central African Republic. That only occurs when a party wants an activity to be shielded from public view and scrutiny.
Another action taken by the Russians to spin events into their worldview has to be the deals to provide content to some African Media Outlets by either Sputnik or RT (Russia Today). A perfect example happens to be the deals reached with RTNC (National Radio and Television Corporation) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RT was the first entity to reach a deal with the Congolese in November 2018, Sputnik has reached a similar deal in May of 2019. This effort in the DRC has been a success for Moscow. When Russia celebrated the fifth anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea , one of the largest events was actually held in Kinshasa.
Another tactic that Russia is using ties between the Duma and local legislatures on the ground. Once again the topic focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is already a Russia-DRC Friendship Group already in the Parliament of the DRC. This is a simple and easy way for Russia to not only to promote its agenda in Africa it can be done in such a way that most other powers that have interests in the region such as the former colonial powers of France and Belgium and even the United States could find themselves be left on the outside without realizing what they allowed to Happen has indeed taken place without their ability to properly address the situation.
*The author is President of Red Eagle Enterprises and the views expressed are his.
Nigeria:EKWEREMADU’S ASSAULT AND THE DYNAMICS OF REVOLUTION
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
The assault of Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Germany is unsurprising, but shocking. Unsurprising because it’s certain Nigerians would revolt against their leaders misrule someday. It is shocking because many never envisaged such could happen now, and in this manner. The popular support, but low turnout at Omoyele Sowore’s Revolution Now protest, and the fading outcry for his release is a pointer that Nigerians want a revolution, but are reluctant to revolt.
Aside shocking the reluctant populace, Ekweremadu’s assault also stunned the revolution vanguards. Most never imagined any tribe could, at this moment in time, revolt against the same leaders they have been programed to exalt and defend irrationally. Is revolution taking a new, unexpected dimension? Departing the long occupied arena of inter-ethnic confrontations for home?
Ekweremadu is the leading political figure of the Igbo ethnic group. He was Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President for three consecutive terms (2007-2019). Ekweremadu comes next to the late Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria’s first elected Vice-President (1979-1983). Ekwueme and ex-President Shehu Shagari’s government was deposed in 1983 by retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent President.
At the invitation of the Igbo community in Germany, Ekweremadu was in Nurnberg to deliver a keynote address at the Ndi Igbo Second Annual Cultural (new yam) Festival. He was denied entry to the event by irate members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Igbo secessionist group led by Nnamdi Kanu, a fugitive wanted for jumping bail to hide abroad after the military unjustly invaded his home. Kanu is undergoing trial for treason at the Federal High Court in Abuja. The Nigerian government proscribed IPOB, declaring it a terrorist organization in 2017.
On the instruction of Kanu, IPOB on 17 August, 2019 attacked and tore Ekweremadu’s cloth for allegedly not advancing the course of Igbo independence and not condemning the killing of his people by Fulani herdsmen. In all fairness, Ekweremadu couldn’t have done much, being an opposition figure. He spoke against the Military’s Operation Python Dance in Igbo land, but apparently not as vehement as IPOB wanted. Ekweremadu was being cautious. Defending IPOB fervently would have set him against the northern senators who are largely in support of the military invasion and IPOB’s proscription. Not playing along could have resulted in his removal as Deputy Senate President.
It would have also put him at loggerheads with the federal government. The President’s intolerance to criticisms would make him unleash his attack dogs against Ekweremadu. He would have been terribly harassed, arraigned on trumped-up charges and incarcerated. Nigerians won’t be surprised if Buhari arraign him for sponsoring treason and a proscribed organization. The circumstance surrounding the condition at the time puts Ekweremadu at a crossroads: to either pick ‘self’ or ‘us’. He settled for ‘self’ as most of the IPOB members that assaulted him would have done.
Kanu also picked ‘self’ over ‘us’ by abandoning the secession struggle at the most crucial time. Many of the hundreds of families who lost lives and properties are still grieving to date. They surely aren’t happy that Kanu brainwashed their loved ones to fight a battle he has no capacity to win. If those affected are Lustitia, their sword won’t spare Kanu for taking cover abroad after destabilizing the polity. He may neither be contacting the bereaved nor providing them support. If that’s the case, then it is unreasonable for IPOB to assault Ekweremadu for a wrong Kanu is also guilty of.
The southeast governors are more deserving of IPOB’s intimidation than Ekweremadu. They were conspiratorially silent when the python was dancing and IPOB was being proscribed. They failed to speak despite being immune from the incarceration and prosecution Buhari is using to silence critics. Be that as it may, the governors’ silence may not be unconnected with Kanu’s personalization of the secession struggle and uncouth utterances. He singlehandedly issued sit-at-home orders and called for the boycott of elections. This didn’t sit well with the politicians and Ohaneze Ndigbo, the leading Igbo socio-cultural group. Ekweremadu is just a lone voice among these persons. He cannot order them to do his bidding.
But then, one cannot exonerate Ekweremadu of blame. Ekweremadu is elected to represent his constituency and region, not himself. If the wish of the Igbo majority, as it seems then, is to secede, it is Ekweremadu’s responsibility to interface with the federal government and find a middle ground. This should have been done with IPOB and other relevant stakeholders in the know, but Ekweremadu acted differently. His action was largely self-serving. Escaping prosecution from alleged corrupt practices was his priority. He chose to favor ‘self’ when he is elected to represent ‘us’. He deserves to be punished, but through the ballot, not assault.
Ekweremadu was punished for the wrongs of his fellow elites ruining Nigeria. He was made to feel the anger of the people. Nigerians across boards believe the assault is a viable way of making leaders accountable. Assault is immoral, but many are willing to get involved, if it would bring good governance. If corrupt politicians are being shamed, there’ll be less misrule as they and their families can’t stay away from schooling, receiving treatment and holidaying abroad. Nigeria would transform when the politicians have no other choice than Nigeria.
Celebrating new yam festival in faraway Germany is a misplacement of priority, at a time when incessant killings is occurring in Igbo land. Who among the organizers of the festival owns a farm or ever planted a yam? The real farmers who should be celebrating their outputs are being killed and losing their loved ones and farms to bandits. Partying under this situation is a mockery of the farmer’s misfortune. Leadership is service. The huge cost of organizing the events and the travel expenses incurred by dignitaries such as Ekweremadu could have been used to assist those who lost persons and properties during the secession struggle and bandits attack. Wealthy Igbos and the foreign branches of Ohaneze Ndigbo needs to be more philanthropic.
IPOB’s assault on Ekweremadu is somewhat unjust and misdirected. Buhari and his appointees who outlawed the organization and apparently failed to address the challenges in the southeast have been left unthreatened. Those at the helm of affairs are ignored for the governors who can neither control the security agencies nor restore Biafra. The unintended consequence of IPOB’s action is that her real ‘oppressors’ chance to win elections is being heightened by her actions. Defaming the People Democratic Party’s government in the southeast would only help the All Progressives Congress have an easy win in 2023. But for one thing, Ekweremadu’s assault is a message to the President’s top aides that it may be their turn next.
Aside the president and vice, Nigerian leaders can’t get the extraordinary protection they enjoy in Nigeria abroad. Unlike in Nigeria, where protesters are being hounded, the western nations allow people to enjoy their right to peaceful protest. Nigerians in the diaspora would be allowed to air their grievances, but assaults won’t be tolerated. That of Ekweremadu sailed through because it was unexpected. The foreign security agencies would be more present in Nigerian high profile gatherings to forestall future occurrence. IPOB has vowed to give Igbo leaders the Ekweremadu treatment wherever they are sighted abroad. This could create a bandwagon effect. Aggrieved persons and groups from other regions of the country may adopt the same strategy.
Ekweremadu’s assault and Sowore’s Revolution Now are well-coordinated moves against government and high-profile politicians. Could this be the manifestation of the decisions reached when Kanu and Sowore met abroad? Or the hounding of unharmed local protesters attracted sympathy abroad? Is the Buhari government’s intolerance making peaceful protesters adopt a violent approach? Has the government’s high handedness created another menace? Do the aggrieved protesters have a more violent approach of driving home their point in the bag? The time is pregnant.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
The 50th Anniversary of My First Speech at the United Nations And the Bitter Lesson I Learned
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Dr. Gary K. Busch*
During the 1960’s, after Sharpeville, the nations who comprised the United Nations embarked on a plan to restrict capital flows to the apartheid government of South Africa. They passed a number of rules and recommendations attempting to restrict the interaction between the South African Government and the major international banks. The UN’s Special Committee on Apartheid, under the chairmanship of Abdulrahim Abby Farah, the UN representative from Somalia, called a meeting of the Special Committee at the UN New York Headquarters, from 17-18 March, 1969, to discuss the role of the international banks in supporting South Africa and to make a plan to expand the campaign to get these banks to boycott capital interactions with the South Africans.
Invitees to the meeting were drawn from several U.S. groups active in the anti-apartheid movement. I was invited as the specialist on Africa from the United Auto Workers (UAW) and as a Board Member of the American Committee on Africa, led by George Hauser. I had been one of the main contacts for the African liberation struggle leaders who visited the U.S. and had taken many to the House and Senate Committees for meetings. I had also arranged their meetings with groups like SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and others. I was very pleased to be invited to the meeting and hoped to contribute my thoughts on the issue.
We convened in a large conference room in the UN where, in addition to the invitees, there was a substantial group of UN delegates from countries which supported the anti-Apartheid movement. The program opened with an introduction by Ambassador Farah and followed by speeches by the Algerian and Nigerian ambassadors. Oliver Tambo was there on behalf of the ANC and he made a speech. After several more speeches we were allowed to speak.
I was more than ready to speak. In fact, I was quite upset. I had just been looking at the day’s New Yok Times newspaper where I saw a quarter-page ad by the Chemical Bank of New York Trust headlined by the line “The American Capitalist”. It descried the role of the Chemical Bank in arranging a large loan and ancillary financing of a Japanese company to buy iron ore from South Africa. This was the very thing we were meeting to discuss and, with good effort, prevent. I rose and asked permission to read the text of the advertisement into the record of the Committee. I did so and then said “Here you have a major American bank financing apartheid. You should realise that this is no rogue bank; this is the official bank of the United Nations. Your salaries and expenses are paid through this bank. It has branches inside UN installations worldwide. If you want the world to support the Banks Campaign of the UN perhaps you can start with your own bank.”
After a moment of silence heated discussions broke out. Mr Reddy, the administrator of the Committee, confirmed that Chemical Bank was the official bank of the UN. Chairman Farah called upon the Algerian delegate and the Indian delegate to speech who pronounced their outrage at what I had discovered. They. believe it or not, agreed to send a telegram to the UN Secretary-General from the floor of the meeting requesting an urgent response and review. I suggested that the UN Secretary-General’s office was only six floors above us and I would volunteer to hand deliver it immediately. I was told this telegram was the normal procedure for UN business. We broke for lunch.
I was having lunch with Oliver Tambo who was quite pleased with the proceedings so far. He did say to me “You may feel that this was an important blow for the Banks Campaign, but don’t be fooled. Nothing will happen but chit-chat and pointing fingers. The banks will go on lending as usual”. He was wise. There were stories in the press; there were earnest discussions with the anti-apartheid groups; there were fiery speeches from the African delegates. What finally happened as the result of my speech was that the copywriter of the article at the newspaper lost his job. Everything else went, as Tambo promised, out of the minds of the Committee.
I was immensely proud that I had used my opportunity to speak at the UN with some effect but, in retrospect, I had learned an important lesson. One cannot move international institutions by speeches or embarrassment. The United Nations is a permanent compromise looking for problems to work on. It was a bitter lesson for me in my youthful naivete but helped to shape my future expectations. I attach the official Committee report on my intervention and a picture of me before my speech, with Ambassador Farah.
“Although sympathetic U.N. delegations were aware of and concerned about the bank campaign, it was again in 1969 that action look concrete form. In 1966, the General Assembly resolution on the policies of apartheid had appealed to all Slates to “discourage loans by banks in their countries to the Government of South Africa or South African companies,” but in March, 1969, during a Special Committee on Apartheid seminar held at U.N. headquarters, the question of Chemical Bank, a consortium member, being the bank located at the U.N., came to a head. By chance. Chemical Bank New York Trust Company had placed an advertisement in the New York Times the same day as the seminar meeting in which it lauded the bank’s role in securing a deal between South Africa and Japan for the sale of iron. This remarkable situation, where U.N. resolutions were in essence being ignored by the United Nations itself, resulted in proposals by the Special Committee to the Secretary General asking an investigation of Chemical Bank’s role at the U.N. This culminated in a General Assembly Resolution passed in November, 1969, which called upon the United Nations and its affiliates “to refrain from extending facilities to banks and other financial institutions which provide assistance to South Africa and firms registered there.”
* Dr. Gary K. Busch is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals
An Account of the Corruption and Anomalies in the Nigerian Immigration Service
August 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
One of the primary responsibilities of government is to provide – or regulate the provision of – efficient service to the populace. Successive Nigerian government has failed in this regard. It has become a convention to get inefficient service, despite paying high. Both private and public institutions are culpable, but the latter errs more. Public officials are more of exploiters than service providers. The uniformed ones are worse. You are bound to pay extra before being attended to. Such is the case of the Nigerian Immigration Service. This piece brings you a firsthand account of the anomalies and corruption going on at the passport offices.
I flew into Nigeria for some engagements and noticed my passport would expire in six months. This qualifies it for renewal. I had two options: renew it in Nigeria or abroad. I opt for the former to avoid the stress I faced to procure the expiring passport. Besides, it is more expensive to renew the passport abroad and I stay far from the embassy. Renewing a Nigerian passport abroad is an uphill task many try to avoid. The unethical conducts of the embassy officials would make you want to renounce Nigeria. But patronizing the embassy is better. You won’t realize this till you visit the passport offices in Nigeria.
“You can’t just walk in and get a passport”, my friends warned. They vowed I won’t get it quickly unless an immigration officer ‘assist’ me. ‘Assist’ means paying an officer to monitor and hasten the passport application process. Rejecting the suggestion made them recount the tales of people who failed to subscribe for assistance. They narrated how such person’s application hit the rocks with “no record found”. How their image gets captured wrongly – rendering the passport unusable – was also recounted.
Other persons I chatted also stressed the importance of ‘assistance’. They disclosed that applying without being ‘assisted’ can take you up to 5 months, while you’d get your passport between 1-14 days when assisted. I remained adamant, but succumbed when a contact said “I know someone (an immigration officer) who’ll do it fast for 30k. Pay the standard 18, I’ll add the remaining 12”. That silenced me. I couldn’t dissent. To overegg the pudding was unnecessary. I agreed, on a condition that I would pay all.
We were welcomed by touts advertising ‘assistance’ when we visited the passport office. Most of them are agents of the immigration officers. Some officers were at the gate that day, and every other day. They were positioned as security, but seen scouting for new applicants; identifying them by their demeanor. The ideal thing is to direct applicants to a guideline or office, but they never did. They were asking them “do you know your way?” Answering “no” or making inquiries makes you prey. You would be connected to their partnering tout or officer to ‘assist’ you. Answering “yes” means you’ve already established contact with an officer inside.
We met an officer who charged me N35,000 for the 32 page passport, but we slashed the price to N30,000. The officer reluctantly agreed; persuading us to pay more. I paid N30,000. The original cost of the 32 page passport I applied for – lately before the issuance of the enhanced e-passport commenced – is about 18,000. Paying N30,000 made me unhappy till I eavesdropped that some people paid N45,000 for the same 32 page passport. That made me feel N30,000 was a good deal. I was somewhat glad. You would too.
My money did some work. The officer ‘assisting’ me fast-tracked the application. I did the face and fingerprint capturing within three hours. Don’t say I waited long! Capturing within such a timeframe isn’t possible without ‘assistance’; the applicants were over hundred. Nonetheless, the assistance wouldn’t have been necessary if the system is efficient, but those profiting from the inefficiency would not let it be.
The officer ‘assisting’ me collected my file after capturing. Like every other colleague, the officer has a client’s record book. My data was added to several others contained therein. I was told to come for the passport in two weeks. Efforts to secure a faster date failed. I left and couldn’t return till after a month due to an interstate engagement.
I got back and need to return abroad. Having performed the bribe ritual, I wasn’t worried about the passport, but the cost of flight ticket. I searched for ticket and was lucky to get a good offer from a reputable airline. This got me excited. My eyes stared at the ticket as I reminisced my last experience with the airline, hoping to have a good time again. I was tempted to book the flight, but held back. Being confident the passport is ready isn’t enough, lay your hands on it, I counseled myself. That turned out to be my best decision in the year.
“Your passport is not ready, we don’t have booklet”. The immigration officer ‘assisting’ me uttered the next morning. I smiled thinking it was a joke, only to discover it isn’t. I became worried about my scheduled activities abroad. How do I explain to a foreign organization that I won’t return at the agreed time due to passport renewal delay, when such doesn’t happen in their country? Efforts to get the passport quickly exposed me to several other wrongs in the passport office.
There’s no orderliness and feedback mechanism. You must always be present, even for minor things. The officers are used to earning extra from ‘assistance’ daily. This affects their commitment to you. They no longer give you much attention after the first day, their attention is always on the new clients. They have so many clients that they struggle to remember their name and situation when they dial. This made me resolve to always visit the passport office to monitor progress.
My regular visits made me a familiar face to some of the officers. A narration of my engagements abroad and the implication of not travelling immediately only earned me pity, not solution. I discovered the officers have factions and an unofficial policy. The officer you pay is responsible for you; no officer will assist you even if they can, no matter how terrible your situation is. This immensely affected me.
The officer ‘assisting’ me, a senior one at that, no longer have strong links in the production room due to recent reordering of duties. Clients of those who have strong networks in the room were collecting passports. Then, I discovered my officer was greedy. Officers in the production room charge colleagues for speedy processing because they know they’ve been paid too. The officer just submitted my file without tipping. As the days passed, I got more disturbed as I receive emails to explain my absence abroad.
An officer advised I should explain my situation to the head of Service Compact (SERVICOM) – the complaint and efficient service delivery section. I met the head of SERVICOM after a long wait. “Who is assisting you?” he asked. My eyes popped. The SERVICOM head knows about ‘assistance’. Great! I answered and was told to summon the officer over immediately. I felt uncomfortable, thinking the officer may be reprimanded, but nothing happened. They both checked my application status and detected no problem.
The SERVICOM head therefore instructed the officer to regenerate my file. He promised to indorse and send it to the production room, but I must do something before that happens. I must have a flight ticket and get a letter from the organization am with abroad, stating why I have to return urgently. That got me infuriated. Booking has not helped most of the applicants I’ve seen around. Moreover, I can only show proof that I’m affiliated with a foreign organization and why my trip is urgent, but can’t get a letter from abroad.
I contend that it is unreasonable for Nigerian immigration to be directing Nigerians to get a letter from foreign institutions before they can be issued a passport. The noisy room suddenly went silent. Unbothered, I stated that the passport is my inalienable right and no foreign institution would persuade Nigeria before I get it. The room was still silent, an indication that I’ve either misfired or scored a hat-trick. It was the latter. I was told to only explain my situation in writing and provide evidence that I must travel soon. No foreign letter needed.
I returned the next day with my letter and supporting evidence. To my utter dismay, the passport office had no network to check my status. I was amazed, but the officers weren’t. They experience such regularly. No one could do a thing that day. The entire office was practically shut down.
We were all waiting for network when I overheard the officers discussing about a just released promotion list. They’re annoyed that many of the officers who participated in the promotion exercise and passed, without any query, were not promoted, because they’re Southerners. The Northerners, particularly the Hausa-Fulani were massively promoted and posted to promising places. They also complained about the lack of proper documentation in the Nigerian Immigration Service. Many retired and deceased officers name came out as promoted. The officers lastly discussed the new enhanced e-passport and how much they should be charging for ‘assistance’. No amount was agreed. I went home happy. The revelations made my coming worthwhile.
The next day, my officer advised I shouldn’t regenerate my file for one reason: the officers assigned to search files often declare them unfound without conducting any search. The officer collected extra N3,000 from me to tip a new contact in the production room. I was glad I didn’t ask the foreign body for letter and my predicament was earning me uncommon findings.
I later visited the passport office with Dr Akin, an erudite scholar and researcher who just landed in Nigeria. I briefed him of my past findings and tasked him for more. Dr Akin gathered facts from the applicants through informal discussions. His respondents revealed they’re being ‘assisted’ by different officers who charged them between N30,000 to N45,000, instead of N18,000. He briefed me of a septuagenarian who vowed it’s impossible for anyone to procure a passport at the official fee. The old woman shared her desire to see a working Nigeria, but regrets that can’t happen during her lifetime. I got my passport that day, about three months after applying.
The Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede have to step up his game. He needs to inject more transparency, efficiency, accountability and discipline into the service. More passport offices need to be established and the existing ones should be provided with enough amenities. More seats are needed. Many applicants stood under the sun to collect their passport and the public address system was inaudible. Those in front have to repeat the names being called before others could hear. People were charged N50 for using the lavatory, why?
This piece is an advocacy for efficiency, not vilification. The passport office and persons were deliberately not mentioned. An encounter with me shouldn’t make them the fall guy. What is needed is a holistic reform, not punishing few persons for the wrongs being committed by virtually everyone in the service.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via email@example.com
Celebrating Africa’s digital potential on UN Youth Day
August 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ime Archibong*
|Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates|
ACCRA, Ghana, August 12, 2019,Many things have been said about the future Africa and its potential, it has been called the Opportunity Continent, the Next Frontier and Africa rising, with all of these true. For me the excitement comes in how Africa can, and will one day lead in the digital economy, not only creating a better future for its young people, but for people across the entire continents, whether here in Africa or elsewhere like in Europe or the US.
Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates. As the world’s human population grows from 7.4 billion people to 8.2 billion people between now and 2025, 40% of that growth will come from Africa, and with more than 628 million people aged below 24, this young, dynamic and innovative population will become one of the most powerful engines of growth the world has ever seen.
Personally, I’ve always been so inspired by the creativity and talent across my home continent – whether it’s creating mobile phone apps which makes motorcycle taxis safer and more convenient, like in the case of Safe Motos in Rwanda and now DRC, or building technological solutions to solve agricultural challenges, like Plantheus, a recent graduate of Facebook’s (www.Facebook.com) NG_Hub Accelerator Program, we see people, especially youth, building solutions daily to local problems and needs. As eager and early adopters of technology, we’ll likely see the next wave of global digital innovations and apps coming from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.
Adoption of social media, mobile phones and mobile money are enabling Africa and its youth to leapfrog to the next wave of digital technology. This infrastructure is the foundation upon which so much innovation in Africa is built and will be built over the next five years. At Facebook, we’re committed to empowering young people to build their digital skills and harness them for the future – whether they are digital builders, developers or product innovators.
In the month of UN Youth Day, I’m delighted that we will be recognizing just some of these talents from across the region. Bringing together over 40 Facebook Community Leaders, SMBs, Entrepreneurs, Developers and Content Creators from across Sub-Saharan Africa, under the banner of ‘Celebrating Icons of Change and the Future of the Continent’ – celebrating the positive impact they are having in their community, something which is important to us here at Facebook.
Our commitment across the region remains strong, and Africa continues to be important for us, with this building on many partnerships, programs and initiatives already in place to help develop digital and entrepreneurial skills among young people. Whether it’s training SMBs through digital boot camps, helping interested youth to acquire digital marketing skills and placing them in employment, training women in leveraging digital solutions to grow their business, or bringing together 52,000 Developers from across 17 countries through our Developer Circles (http://bit.ly/2MbZe3t) program, we are excited to play a part in supporting the next generation of start-up founders, investors, developers and change makers.
As one of my favourite African proverbs says “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”, and we look forward to that tomorrow in the years to come.
BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE CONTROVERSY AND THE ESSENTIALITY OF EDUCATION
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election has ended, but the contest is ongoing at the tribunal. Politics is a mean game – and politicians devise every means to win. That ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is challenging the result doesn’t mean he won. He may have indeed lose and still be imploring the tribunal to return him elected. In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that he won doesn’t mean he actually did. He may have robbed Atiku and still be persuading the tribunal to pronounce him validly elected. Aside determining who really won, two major issues are before the tribunal: Atiku’s citizenship determination and Buhari’s certificate verification.
The suits are distinct. Deciding when and where to be born is beyond Atiku’s control, but Buhari could have averted the certificate controversy if he had devoted time to education. Atiku would be suffering for an action taking by the colonialist, if the court rules that he is not a Nigerian, but Cameroonian. The genesis of Atiku’s citizenship case is the 1884 scramble for, and partition of Africa. His citizenship may not have been a subject of litigation, if the western nations had not partitioned Africa. The tribunal thus has an unenviable task of determining Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president, on account of the West’s adjustment of his ancestral boundary, before he was born.
The testimonies and evidences presented at the tribunal revived Buhari’s certificate controversy which started in 2014. Buhari’s witness, Major-Gen. Paul Tarfa (retd) avowed that the Army never collected the certificate of the 1962 course officers during recruitment, as earlier claimed by Buhari. This landmark confession revealed Buhari’s claim that his certificate is with the military in 2014 is untruth. Nigerians thought then President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to withhold Buhari’s certificate in order to disqualify him for contesting. Suspicion brew after Buhari won the election and still couldn’t present his certificate, despite being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The certificate-with-the-military excuse became untenable.
Buhari did not attach his certificate to the 2019 presidential nomination form, as lawfully required. To make amends, Abba Kyari, the Chief-of-Staff to the President tendered the president’s Cambridge assessment international education certified statement of West African School Certificate (WASC). Kyari claimed he personally signed and collected the document on behalf of Buhari. Atiku’s counsel argued during cross examination that colleges don’t release certificate to third parties. This assertion is untrue. Colleges do release certificate to third party on the instruction of the graduate, but certain conditions must be met. Such includes, but not limited to: a letter from the graduate indicating that his/her certificate be released to a third party; and such party must provide a valid form of identification.
To strengthen his defense, Buhari brought in Oshindehinde Adewunmi, the Deputy Registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Nigeria to lead evidence in support of the document Kyari tendered. This unfortunately did more harm than good. When shown the document Kyari claimed to have collected on Buhari’s behalf, Adewunmi stated that the document is not a WAEC certificate, and he has never worked for the body that issued it. The witness said he cannot affirm the authenticity of the document because it does not bear his signature.
A comparison of the two documents Buhari presented – the Cambridge certified statement of WASC and the 1961 result sheet of the Provincial Secondary School Katsina – revealed some inconsistencies. One stated that Buhari sat for eight subjects, while the other stated he sat for six. The name on one is ‘Mohamed’ while the other is ‘Muhammadu’, although Buhari’s witness stressed that both names have the same meaning and are interchangeably used in Islam.
The discrepancies in the documents is making people opine Buhari would lose the case. Their argument is premised on Section 131 of the constitution, which states that ‘any contestant for the position of president of the country must have a minimum qualification of School Certificate or its equivalent’. However, they fail to take cognizance that Section 318 (1c) stated that ‘anyone with primary school certificate who has served in the Nigerian public or private sector, in any capacity, for a minimum of ten years is deemed to have the equivalent of a school certificate’. Buhari is thus qualified to contest and be president having served in the Army for over ten years. That however opens the door to new arguments.
The tribunal can only sack Buhari if his years of military service, which makes him qualify to be president under Section 318 (1c) is declared void. If Buhari joined the military with inadequate qualification, could his years of service be declared void? If Buhari was recruited into the military without a certificate and was not given a duration to produce it, who should be blamed? Buhari or the military? In any case, would it be fair to make Buhari suffer for the wrongs of the military recruitment board as the Supreme Court did to Ademola Adeleke in Osun?
The litigations and embarrassment the certificate scandal has brought upon Buhari could have been avoided if he had dedicated some time to scholarship. He had enough time to acquire more qualifications after General Ibrahim Babangida toppled his military regime in 1983. Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo — Buhari’s senior in age and in the military — bagged a Bachelor and Doctorate after he left office as President in 1999. Buhari is not an accidental president. His three unsuccessful race for the nation’s top job, cumulatively 12 years of aiming for president, is enough for him to have bagged a diploma or degree.
Buhari was yearning to lead but failed to prepare for leadership. This showed in his six-month late appointment of ministers in 2015. It is also manifesting in his abysmal performance and mishandling of sensitive national issues. His lack of ideas, narrow-mindedness and sectionalism is disintegrating the country and hampering growth. He has given little for every much expected. One cannot, in fairness, totally attribute Buhari’s shortcomings to insufficient education. The government of his predecessor who holds a doctorate was a colossal failure.
Nonetheless, that Goodluck Jonathan failed doesn’t mean Buhari should. Buhari’s underperformance hinge on his apologists cheering of wrongs. Justifying Buhari’s failure to get educated is moronic. Many of those defending him severely punish their children for not scoring ‘A’. They want their children to earn higher degrees, but passionately defend a president with a controversial certificate. Some of these apologists demand for Bachelor’s degree, National Youth Service Corps certificate, and five years working experience before they can hire and pay 70,000 Naira (about $200) per month. Such a brazen show of double standard is galling.
Sections 131 and 318 of the 1999 constitution needs to be amended. The framers made it possible for anyone to be president, so long as they can “read, write, understand and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission”. The best may never get to lead the rest if the constitution is not amended. The less educated ones would continue to govern; appointing and issuing directives to professors. Nigerian leaders, many of whom are not so educated, controls the resources and earn huge, while the professors and citizens earn peanuts. The professors that should be ruling the less educated are the ones conducting elections to bring them to power.
Nigerian education needs oxygen. The struggle to make ends meet has turned many professors to political job seekers and errand boy. High fees, vast unemployment, and inadequate reward for academic excellence is discouraging people from becoming educated. A friend once said “education is the master key” and “Bata re a dun kokoka” loosely translated “you would wear the best shoes if you’re educated” inspired many to invest in education, but they’ve gained nothing. Politicians and political thugs are the ones wearing the best shoes.
Everyone must endeavor to be educated despite the challenges and discouragements. Buhari and Osun state former governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke’s ordeal is a strong lesson that the education you fail to acquire may be all you need to win tomorrow.
Things are turning around for the good of the educated. Education is changing the game. Faster than anyone imagined. The educated ones are bringing innovation to businesses and taking over the jobs from the uneducated. Booking taxi through apps is gradually gobbling the job of the uneducated drivers. Many people view education has the ticket to working in an office, dressing corporate. No. Education ideally gives you a knowledge of the world around you and the skill to do things in a better way.
The case of Wunmi comes to mind. Wunmi is a female university graduate who studied mass communication, but earns a living from furnishing homes. She uploads furniture pictures on e-commerce platforms and contract artisans to produce them when she has order. The artisans’ inability to open and manage an e-commerce store is fetching Wunmi money. She wouldn’t have been an intermediary if the artisans are educated. She is earning huge, thriving and expanding, while the uneducated artisans are earning less. That’s the power of education. Buhari, Adeleke, and Wunmi are lessons. Learn.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
THE POLITICS OF MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENT AND SENATE’S SCREENING
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
After several knocks and post-inaugural countdown by Nigerians and the media, President Muhammadu Buhari bowed to pressure. He sent 43 ministerial nominees name to the Senate for screening. This action relit the Buhari leadership competence debate. The Buhari apologists applaud the president for making such crucial nominations in almost two months of his second term; a radical improvement from the first term which took him six months. On the other hand, the opposition contends that Buhari’s ministerial nominees list is uninspiring and untimely. They knock Buhari for not imitating Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom who constituted their cabinets immediately after swearing-in.
Without further ado, the Buharists averred that the Nigerian political climate and workings is different from that of South Africa, the United Kingdom, or any other country. Weighing in, this piece examines the factors that influenced Buhari’s choice and the nominee’s capacity to accomplish the Next Level agenda. It also appraises the quality of Senate’s screening and the relevance of the bow-and-go tradition.
The Lucky 43
Most of the political heavyweights in Nigeria survive on politics. Subtract all they’ve acquired through politics from their asset and you’ll realize why they spare nothing to perpetuate themselves in power. Those who lose elections and those who’ve served their term lobby for appointments. The Minister position is the most sought after. Not many lobby to be Ambassadors. They refrain from residing outside the country in order not to lose their political relevance and structures.
The president’s declaration that he would appoint only those he knows sent shivers down the spine of the hundreds lobbying for ministerial appointment. Many of them have not more than a distant political relationship with the president, but they were not deterred. They all intensified their lobbying through the first lady, the party chairman, and powerful presidential aides, but only 43 got selected.
Facts from 43
The 43 nominees comprise of 36 males and 7 females. Buhari didn’t fulfil his promise of giving 35 percent appointments to women. The youths are not represented as all the nominees are above 35 years. Per geopolitical zone, Buhari nominated 9 persons from the North West, 7 from the North East; 7 from the North Central; 7 from the South West; 7 from the South South; and 6 from the South East. Note that four zones has 7 nominees each, while the Northwest and Southeast has the highest (9) and lowest (6) nominees. The southeasterners are displeased with the margin. They are upset that Buhari selected nominees based on the votes he garnered per region.
During the last presidential election, Buhari scored 5,995,651 votes in the Northwest and a meagre 403,968 votes in the Southeast. It is thus politically not irrational for the Northwest to get more appointment than the Southeast. Moreover, the Northwest is made up of 7 states while the Southeast has 5. Notwithstanding, Buhari’s antecedent suggests that he would have picked less than 7 nominees from the Southeast, if the constitution didn’t mandate him to appoint ministers from every state.
One state in each region has two nominees, except the region where Buhari hails from: the Northwest. Two states in the region, Kano and Katsina have 2 nominees each. This is apparently because Buhari earned more votes in Kano than other states and Katsina is his state of origin. Abuja, the federal capital territory had no nominee. Some argue that Buhari excluded Abuja because the residents didn’t vote for him. That can’t be the case. The exclusion is most certainly an error the presidency is planning to correct.
Team 43 for 2023?
Retaining power in 2023 largely influenced Buhari’s ministerial choice. Majority of his nominees are career politicians who are more skilled in coordinating campaigns than providing good governance. Buhari is probably unmindful that the challenges bedeviling Nigeria requires the service of professionals, not politicians. His nominees comprise of 9 ex-governors, ex-lawmakers, and 12 immediate past ministers. 31 nominees are new to the job; an indication that Buhari is not so pleased with the performance of their predecessors or simply wish to change hands. That does not however tone down the obvious: Buhari sacrificed effective governance for political continuity.
It’s a season of political harvest for Buhari’s loyalists. The ministerial nominees list is an indication that those who worked assiduously for him in 2015 and 2019 would be enormously rewarded. The 43 prospective ministers are a perfect election winning squad. Buhari carefully selected the leading political lords across the states. He nominated the strong who lost elections to keep them active for 2023.
The stakes are getting high. Politicians with weak political structures are being discarded for the influential and powerful. Audu Ogbeh was replaced with George Akume who has many political disciples and a large pocket. Godswill Akpabio and Rotimi Amaechi are being re-energized to install APC in Akwa-Ibom and the South-South. Gbemisola Saraki’s is being strengthened to decimate Bukola Saraki’s political machineries. Olorunimbe Mamora’s nomination has further strengthened team Lagos and Bola Tinubu’s commitment to the 2023 project. Chris Ngige was reappointed to put structures in place for APC to win Anambra.
Timipre Sylva’s is being empowered to revive APC for victory in the forthcoming Bayelsa governorship election. Festus Keyamo is being wired for the 2023 governorship race in Delta State. Emeka Nwajiuba is being tasked to reunite APC and win Imo. The ministerial hopefuls are indeed a perfect election winning squad. Their appointment is to empower them with the federal might and resources they need to deliver victory for the APC in 2023. But one major thing that would determine whether 2023 would be theirs is their ability to take Nigeria to the next level.
The Next Level
The president’s ditching of technocrats for politicians who has no record of exceptional performance in public service may make his administration unpopular. He should have appointed technocrats to kick-start the implementation of his Next Level programs and keep them in office for at least two years. He could then bring in the politicians to continue. The technocrats shouldn’t be sacked. They should be retained as consultants to periodically offer professional advice and assist in formulating government policies. You may disagree with this position, but you can’t help agreeing that it is sensible to start a project with professionals who truly understands what to do and how to do it.
Ministerial appointments should be based on merit, not clout. Buhari must align with the national assembly to pass bills that would make politics unprofitable and corruption punishable by death, if he really wants to make a difference. He must also desist from placing politics above policy. The technocrats he nominated such as Sunday Dare and Pauline Tallen are too insignificant. Be expectant not. The assembled nominees have no solution to Nigeria’s multidimensional problems and would leave the nation worse than they met it. They would most certainly usher Nigeria into greater poverty, insecurity, inflation, and recession. Buhari has the capacity, but lacks the will to turn things around. So also the Ahmed Lawan led Senate.
The Quality of Senate’s Screening
Sending names of ministerial nominees to the Senate with their portfolios is one of the change Nigerians voted for, but never got. This has remarkably hindered the senate from properly grilling the nominees, who also cannot present their goals because they don’t know the ministries they’ll lead. The screening is fruitless. Ministerial nominees are proving their capacity, and the senate is assessing their ability to head a ministry they both don’t know. This fatal, but avoidable error makes the screening a valueless and purposeless exercise.
It is disheartening that the screening is more of endorsement than assessment. The senators’ asininity is shameful and disturbing. They were unable to ask salient questions, quote statistics, reference global happenings, and give recommendations that can move Nigeria forward. They were also unable to correct the erring and over ambitious nominees. None of them could educate Festus Keyamo that the Attorney General, an appointee of the executive, cannot unbundle the Supreme Court that is under another arm of government, the judiciary.
Nigerians are disappointed. Many are casting doubt on Senate President Ahmed Lawan’s capacity to objectively legislate and oversight. He is accused of rubber stamping. Lawan must swiftly redeem his reputation by providing quality leadership. Loyalty to the party and the presidency should not push him to be acting against public interest.
The Bow and go Soft-landing
The bow and go privilege for ex-lawmakers has outlived its significance. Asking nominees to bow and go without answering questions is a disservice to the nation. Lawmaking and administrating require different skills. That the nominees performed when they’re lawmakers – most actually didn’t – does not mean they would perform as ministers. Some of them never contributed to debates or sponsored bill when they were in parliament. Think. Does it mean that the Senate would ask all the 43 nominees to bow and go if they’re all ex-lawmakers?
It is appalling that 10 of the first 14 nominees screened by the Senate were asked to bow and go. Apart from the ex-lawmakers, nominees were asked to bow and go because they are handsome and loyal. Richard Adebayo was asked to bow and go because he is the current Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC. A nominee from the Senate President’s state also benefited.
Some nominees were asked to bow and go because they are women. Majority of the ex-ministers who should be asked to give an account of their stewardship and why Nigerians should reemploy them were just asked to bow and go. Rotimi Ameachi was awarded the privilege because he is an ex-Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; a position he occupied over 12 years ago. The bow and go privilege shouldn’t be a free-for-all or life time benefit. It has been brazenly abused and should be abolished. The world is moving and Nigeria must move along. We must adopt better ways of doing things for us to have a better nation.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via email@example.com
BUHARI, OSIBANJO RELATIONSHIP; AN ENDURING LEGACY TO NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
BY Hussaini Monguno*
Since Nigeria returned to presidential democracy in 1999, the relationship between the president and his deputy has been a contentious issue. To set the ball rolling was the pair of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his Vice.
The relationship between the two particularly in the second term of their office was so fractured that the President stripped his Vice of all powers, even the peripheral ones like participation in all cabinet meetings and by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council.
The causes of this conflict were an open secret; it was instigated by political jobbers who wanted to fish in the troubled waters of a President at war with his deputy. Additionally, the President wanted a third term in office while his Vice was of the view that he should stick to the Constitutional provision of a maximum of two terms.
While the disagreement lasted, the President went the extra mile to block all financial allocations to the office of the Vice President, sacked all his personal aids, including his drivers and security personnel and even attempted to shut him out of the Federal executive Council meetings. Every time he travelled out of the country as he loved to do, he whimsically handed over the running of the government not to the Vice President as provided by the Constitution but to a chosen crony.
President Obasanjo’s bullying tactics nearly plunged the country into a Constitutional crisis and political upheaval. It was the civilized response of Vice President Atiku Abubakar that saved the day. He responded as a democrat and did not take the law into his hands. Instead, he went to the courts, seeking protection from the illegal acts of his overbearing boss. Credit must be given to Atiku for advancing the rule of law in a democratic Nigeria. Obasanjo even ‘suspended’ him from office. He took him to court and won all his cases, even at the Supreme Court of the land.
Following the bad example of his predecessor, President Umaru Yar’Adua never took his Vice President Goodluck Jonathan into much confidence. In 2009 he travelled to Saudi Arabia for medical help without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly transferring power to his Vice. As his stay in Saudi Arabia became rather prolonged, a dangerous power vacuum was created at the apex of government. Questions began to be asked both within Nigeria and the international community as to who was in charge of affairs in the most populous black nation on earth.
As the country drifted hopelessly to the precipice, civil society organisations took up the challenge and organized protest marches to ensure that the constitutional crisis did not snowball into anarchy. The National assembly rose to the occasion and came up with the “doctrine of necessity”, which clearly offended the constitution but saved the country from a certain doom. Goodluck Jonathan was by that novel experiment empowered to be an acting President.
Against such a turbulent background, we must give President Muhammadu Buhari the credit for he has already left an enduring succession legacy even as he has not clocked two years in office as President. On all occasions that he has had to travel out of the country on his official or medical leave, he has written to the National Assembly transferring power to his trusted Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. By such action, he has created a situation where transfer of power has been seamless and rancor free. In his absence, even when rumours are afloat in the air that he has expired, government business moved on smoothly.
Last Sunday the President travelled abroad to the United Kingdom to keep an appointment with his doctors. As usual he wrote to the National Assembly as required by section 145(1) of the Constitution. But the Senator representing Abia-North at the National Assembly, Mao Ohuabunwa, tried to raise unnecessary dust over the letter on Tuesday, saying the transfer of power from President Muhammadu Buhari to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not clear.
Ohuabunwa had raised a point of order after President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, separately read a letter from President Buhari informing the legislature of his medical vacation.
Buhari in the letter said the duration of his leave was indefinite and that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would “coordinate” the governance while he is away.
But Senator Ohuabunwa faulted the letter as not naming Osinbajo as Acting President and should be disregarded. He said, “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them the written declaration to the contrary, such function shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.
“Mr. President, I don’t think in our Constitution we have anything like ‘coordinating president’ or ‘coordinating vice president.’ It is either you are vice president or you are acting president and any letter (on transfer of power) should be unambiguous and very clear. So, I am saying that this letter really does not convey anything because ‘coordinating’ has no space or any place in our Constitution.”
We are happy that the Senate has wisely ignored Mao Ohuabunwa’s alarmist call on the Presidents well intentioned letter to the National Assembly. His call was an unpatriotic but futile attempt to bring distrust between the President and his loyal Vice. It is reminiscent of the PDP politics in the Obasanjo Atiku days when political scavengers created mistrust in the presidency for their own selfish gains.
We wish to inform Nigerians who may not know that Mao Ohuabunwa did his National Youth service Corps in Yola the capital of Adamawa State. After that, he stayed there to start life as a young man until he plunged into politics. He therefore took advantage of his links with Adamawa people to create mistrust between the Turakin Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo. He for instance coordinated the first attempt to impeach Obasanjo in 2002. This was the first thing that brought a lot of mistrust between Atiku and Obasanjo.
We are therefore calling on Ohuabunwa to stop his anti-democratic antics and save Nigeria from the agonies of his old selfish tactics.
Hussaini Monguno wrote this piece from Yerwa and it is culled from his facebook page
Revisiting ‘democracy and dictatorship’
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Edwin Madunagu
Let us begin by quickly recalling two bits of Nigeria’s recent history. First, at the close of 1983, a military junta overthrew and supplanted the elected civilian government of Shehu Shagari, the first and only president of Nigeria’s Second Republic (1979-1983). Then, early in 1985, in the second year of the new military regime, which was headed by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, an animated debate, similar to the one the country is now witnessing, raged in Nigeria’s national newspapers. The debate then was the relationship between democracy and dictatorship, or—as Leftists would more elegantly describe it—the “dialectics of democracy and dictatorship”. Thirty-three years later, with the global triumph of “democracy”, the question has transformed to the relationship between “national security” and “the rule of law” under “democracy”!
Incidentally, I joined The Guardian newspaper as a resident, full-time member of the Editorial Board when the 1985 debate was raging. And I joined the debate as a newly-inaugurated member of the Board and columnist. The present piece may be read either as an entirely fresh article provoked by the current debate over a recent statement by Nigeria’s current democratically–elected civilian President, Muhammadu Buhari, or as a review/update of my article, “Democracy and dictatorship”, published by The Guardian on Thursday, May 16, 1985. The 1985 article was provoked by the government of the same personage, Muhammadu Buhari, then Nigeria’s unelected military Head of State.
The broadest presentation of the central question in the 1985 debate was whether Nigeria, under military rule, was a democracy or not. It was as simple and straightforward as that—or as I saw it then, in 1985. A second question attached to the first, or issuing from it, was what should be done, if the regime was not a democracy. Leftists are often more interested in this type of follow-up questions. In any case, many participants in the 1985 debate agreed that Nigerians should struggle to return the country to democratic rule, perhaps a better form of democracy than the Second Republic. Many others argued for a revolution—perhaps a socialist one—to re-define democracy. However, my attitude then was that a comprehensive answer to the first question carried the essential elements of the answer to the second.
Back to the central question of whether Nigeria was a democracy—a question that was, in essence, neither legal nor technical, but political. One answer was that Nigeria was not a democracy and should, in fact, not pretend to be one. Another opinion was that although Nigeria was not a democracy, there were certain democratic rights of the Nigerian people that ought to survive any change of government—“rights that are, more or less, conquests of humanity as a whole, rights that are incorporated in the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory”. That was how I put it in my May 1985 article: “Democracy and dictatorship”. Of course, there were other positions—some illuminating the questions, others confusing them. But I settled for the two described above as the main, dominant ones.
My substantive answer to this central question was in two parts. The first part was that Nigeria under the military rule of General Buhari and Brigadier Idiagbon was not a democracy, and that the Shehu Shagari civilian regime which it overthrew and supplanted was also not a democracy. The second part was that under class rule, democracy and dictatorship are not “polar opposites” but “dialectical opposites”; that “democracy” and “dictatorship” are polar opposites only in their “pure forms”; and that “democracy” in its pure form is realizable only in a distant regime projected by Marxists and some other strata of Leftists. By this composite proposition I meant that in actually-existing political class regimes, the best democracies contain significant dictatorial elements while even the worst dictatorships usually claim, or are portrayed, to be influenced by some known democratic principles and antecedents. Today, what I would add to this 1985 “disquisition” is that we can differentiate between regimes and social orders advancing to democracy and those that are not.
About five years after this debate and the appearance of my article “Democracy and dictatorship”, I received a copy of the August 1990 issue of a Moscow-published magazine called “New Times”. Pages (40-43) of the issue carried an article titled “Dictatorship and democracy” written in prison in 1918 by Rosa Luxemburg, a leading Marxist political economist and revolutionary of Polish-German nationality. She was the de-facto co-founder of what became the Communist Party of Germany: “de-facto” because she was murdered in prison in 1919 by rising German fascists before the party was formally proclaimed. The article was extracted from a larger article by Luxemburg titled “The Russian Revolution”, a long review of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Being incarcerated, she based her review on what she saw and knew before her incarceration and reports smuggled to her in prison.
I was pleased to see Rosa Luxemburg’s 1918 article five years after I wrote mine. But I noted then, in 1990—and more strongly now, in 2018—that the difference between Luxemburg’s title, “Dictatorship and democracy” and mine, “Democracy and dictatorship” goes beyond the arrangement of the two key words. Each arrangement indicates where the author concerned was focusing in the dialectics.
My reading of what Luxemburg was saying in her review was that the Russian revolution ought to be more democratic— notwithstanding the need and the fact, both upheld by her, that it was a form of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” which was conceived as a transition to socialism, to socialist democracy. The best that capitalism had been able to offer the world, she insisted, was bourgeois democracy. This bourgeois democracy was however, in essence, bourgeois dictatorship, the dictatorship of the capitalist ruling class.
Proletarian democracy should not be a mere “inversion” of bourgeois democracy—or else it would not transit to socialist democracy. Proletarian democracy should “proceed at every step from the active participation of the masses; it should be under their direct influence; it should submit to control by the people and it should rest on the growing political knowledge of the masses.”
Rosa Luxemburg’s review of the Russian Revolution was both critical and sympathetic. In addition to what I have already said, the following direct quotes from her “Dictatorship and democracy” further illustrate her provisional assessment—which unfortunately became the last one: “Any sustained rule by a state of siege leads to arbitrary rule; and any arbitrary rule leads to corruption”; “Without free press, without unfettered unions and freedom of assembly genuine rule by the people is unthinkable”; “The public life of a state with limited freedom is poor, meagre, schematic and sterile because by excluding democracy it shuts off its own sources of spiritual wealth and progress”; “Freedom for the government supporters is not freedom. Freedom is always for dissenters”.
Then, Rosa Luxemburg’s warning: “Unless the entire mass of people is engaged, socialism will be introduced by a score of intellectuals sitting round a green table. Control by the people is absolutely necessary, otherwise experience will be shared only within a close circle of officials of the new government, and corruption will be inevitable.”
But Rosa Luxemburg’s article ended on a note of praise, support and optimism: “At this stage, on the eve of decisive battles throughout the world …. Lenin and Trotsky and their friends were the first to march ahead of the world proletariat and show it an example. This is the most essential—and permanent—feature of Bolshevism. They have ventured out in the forefront of the international proletariat and given the struggle between capital and labour all over the world a mighty push forward. In Russia, the problem could only be raised but not solved, because it can only be solved internationally.”
Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.
A Memo to Paul Biya, President of Cameroon on: The Urgent Need for Public Policy Mediation and Negotiations in the Ongoing Armed Conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Rev. Fr. Wilfred Emeh*
How did we get here?
It has been nearly three years since the unprecedented outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow on the facets of life of our beloved nation. The UN has reported nearly 2,000 deaths, property has been destroyed, schools have been torched, and uncertainty looms as thousands of people continue to live in misery. The devastation on our economy and human resources are inestimable; businesses have been forced to close, and talented citizens continue to flee their homeland. Thousands of families have been displaced, and many others have become refugees in foreign lands.
How did we get here? The escalation of the ongoing conflict is consequent upon grave administrative failures that include mass arrests and brutal force and extrajudicial killings at a time when peaceful civilians merely sought to express their grievances against the ruling government. Over time, insurgent groups emerged, acquired arms, and targeted the military and security officers, in what has become a full-blown armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
In retrospect, crass failure to implement educational and judicial policies, that are foundational principles of our co-existence, was the main cause of the Anglophone uprising. This was a glaring neglect of pertinent policies on equal partnership, the preservation of cultural heritage and identity of each region as stipulated by the union-agreement between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions. Evidently, this failure of policy implementation was a symptom of more profound ailments within our political institution that favors corruption, marginalization and social injustice. The implementation of policies, especially those that are constitutionally founded, are essential in the democratic decision-making process of every nation.
Despite the current situation, it would be in our national interest if all parties resort to the public policy mediation process which is an inclusive, transparent process of negotiations among government agency officials and diverse stakeholders that often results in consensus agreements rooted in nuanced understandings of a conflict (Potziba, 2019). This memo largely seeks to identify the root causes of the current crisis and propose recommendations for a swift resolution of the ongoing armed conflict.
Where are we?
So far, the government’s approach and tactics have been futile; attempts to set up a bilingualism commission failed no less than the authoritative leadership style. On the other hand, opposition groups have engaged in propaganda and destructive ideologies. Several factions have emerged with multiple pseudo-leaderships, void of any clear sense of direction. Civil rights activists are in jail while young people have been radicalized. The future is bleak as there seems to be no real leadership on either side of the aisle. And, while the government persists in cracking down on political activists and insurgents, the latter seem resolved to resist and fight back to the last ounce of their blood. It is rightly said, “as hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching.”
Consequently, our people are hurting. Worse still, both the government and the separatist forces seem to be on extreme ends of the political spectrum. Clearly without any strategies or plans for a resolution, an already precarious economy is worsening by the day, while armed bandits continue to terrorize and harass hard working civilians.
Brief theoretical framework
There is urgent need for public policy mediation, which should include revisiting the political roots of the problem in a spirit of dialogue, conferences and negotiation. “In several Western democracies, attempts have been made to find a way out of these problems by trying out new forms of conflict resolution based upon negotiation and participatory procedures such as policy dialogue, consensus conferences, participatory technology assessment, mediation, or facilitation” (Holzinger, 2001).
The benefits of policy mediation and negotiation are enormous; it brings together policy experts from international platforms who will forge the path to a lasting resolution. Usually policy mediation fosters deliberations among parties that represent every aspect of a situation, supported by expertise as needed, resulting in agreements that avoid unintended consequences (Podziba, 2019).
Another important benefit of policy mediation is face-to-face deliberations that promote civil discourse. This is quite different from the vitriolic attacks and incivility that we have also witnessed on social media platforms, spewed by both the government spokespersons and opposition groups.
Negotiation and policy mediation are bedfellows, encouraging the willingness of both parties to shift positions with a clear focus on a win-win outcome. During successful negotiation, emotions are separated from the factual basis of the problem, shifting the focus to the benefits without the pride of clinging to positions. Lines of communication are opened, paving the way toward rational analysis of arguments, discussion of concessions and pursuit of compromise to the benefit of everyone.
Understandably, the ruling government has an uphill task in initiating dialogue with diverse opposition groups, some of which have been tagged as terrorists. This must be dealt with initially as it is the outcome of the delegitimization of the premier civil rights consortium. A committed public relations bureau of the government with sound knowledge on the issues should identify the main rival groups and extend an invitation to them.
What must we do?
- Amidst these tumultuous times, political leaders need to rise beyond personal feelings, hurt, and mistakes of the past and look at the bigger picture: the future of our children, peace, and stability are priceless. It is time to demonstrate true leadership by involving the grassroots in a process of dialogue that can bring real change in Cameroon. Richard Box (1998) explains that finding a way to equitably resolve differences is a key interpersonal skill, opening the door to more citizen-oriented governance. For elected leaders and public service practitioners, this means a flexible attitude toward change, shedding of protective feelings of personal turf, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue on issues facing the community (as cited in Denhardt et al., 2014).
- The time for blame games is over. It is urgent for warring factions to come to the negotiating table in a spirit of sincere dialogue that allows deliberations on all options including federalism. The current efforts being made to host an All-Anglophone Conference (November 21-22) is commendable. These kinds of initiatives – notably dialogues led by civil society, whether secular or religious – should get strong support from governments and international organizations, including the U.S., the European Union, the African Union, and even the Vatican. The International Crisis Group has recommended the Catholic Church as potential mediator of the crisis.
- There is need for a neutral arbiter in the policy mediation process. This is no longer an internal affair as often claimed by some overzealous political pundits. The constant refrain by Anthony Guiterez, Secretary General of the UN, that Africans should solve their own problems, is unrealistic, perhaps even bizarre. We would be repeating mistakes of the past to the detriment of human life and human dignity.
- A decentralized form of government should be considered to better serve the needs of the people, which would devolve power and control to the local communities, limiting the concentration of management of the nation’s resources in the hands of a few high-positioned officials. By shifting control rights from the central bureaucrat (who otherwise acts like an unregulated monopolist) to a local government, decentralization typically tends to expand service deliveries as authority goes to those more responsive to user needs (Bardhan, 2002).
In conclusion, our nation must strive toward good governance. Most armed conflicts in Africa are caused by bad governance. All over the world, people naturally rise against regimes that deprive them of their rights and privileges due to institutional corruption. In retrospect, armed conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Liberia, just to mention a few, were all linked to bad governance. The United Nation Children’s Fund notes, “corruption and bad governance were among the causes of war. The majority of the people had no voice in the government and no opportunities in life and so they were easily provoked to violence” (as cited in Yiew et al., 2016). Good governance is key to mitigating armed conflict. Empirical studies show that countries that uphold democratic principles, where corruption is under control, where law and order is maintained, where the people are served accordingly, are less vulnerable to armed conflicts (Yiew et al., 2016).
Bardhan P. (2002). Decentralization of governance and development. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(4), 185–205. Retrieved from https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533002320951037
Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. Routledge.
Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, T. (2014). Public administration: An action orientation (7th ed.). Cengage Learning
Holzinger, K. (2001). Negotiations in public-policy making: Exogenous barriers to successful dispute resolution. Journal of Public Policy, 21(1), 71-96.
Konings, P., & Nyamnjoh, F. B. (1997). The anglophone problem in Cameroon. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 35(2), 207-229.
Podziba, S. L. (2019). Conflict, Negotiation, and Public Policy Mediation in the Trump Era. Negotiation Journal, 35(1), 177-181.
Staff, C (2018). Cameroon cardinal helping organize conference to tackle Anglophone crisis. Retrieved from https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/04/cameroon-cardinal-helping-organize-conference-to-tackle-anglophone-crisis/
Yiew, T. H., Habibullah, M. S., Law, S. H., & Azman-Saini, W. N. W. (2016). Does bad governance cause armed conflict? International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research, 14(6), 3741-3755.
*Rev. Wilfred Emeh is a doctoral student in Public Administration at the West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of concentration is governance and armed conflict in Africa
Is Africa Rising Narrative A Propaganda Or A Reality?
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Moses Hategeka*
Why is it that African continent which is a home to sixty percent of world’s remaining arable land, and is vastly blessed with numerous utilizable water resources and various agro-ecological zones, is still a net food importer and is persistently failing to break the food import chain and food trade deficit that it is trapped in?
Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, and which is expected to reach 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is extremely worrying. This is almost the same amount, the continent needs to close its power deficit, which is among the key needed ingredient to make the continent meaningfully diversify its economies.
My firsthand accounts of seeing extremely malnourished children in many areas of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Liberia, coupled with very low agricultural productivity, stemming from, overdependence on rain, minimal fertilizer application, use of rudimentary tools, absence of use of appropriate irrigation and water harvesting technologies, and poor farming practices, accompanied with agricultural policy distortions, I have witnessed in many African countries, casts a gloomy picture of Africa’ agricultural sector.
Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, estimated to rise to 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is besides annihilating its agriculture, also a key continent’s growth and development decelerator. Currently, 250 million people in Africa, are undernourished, and with dwindling agricultural yields, and skyrocketing population, the continent food import bill, is poised to keep on expanding.
Two years back, while on a research assignment, in South-Kivu, North-Kivu, and Tshopo provinces, in DRC, the dilapidated human shelters housing thousands of malnourished and undernourished families, I witnessed shocked me. This is a vast country, which besides, being almost the entire size of Western Europe, is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and is also richly endowed with uranium, diamond, gold, copper, oil, and other precious metals, in addition to possessing large swatches of fertile lands, and world’s second longest River, Congo River, but majority its citizens are extremely very poor.
The situation is not different in other African countries. Forget the rising GDP figures, which the cunning politicians and economists, base on to advance the African rising narrative, and embark on extensive journey in rural areas of many African countries, the skyrocketing poverty levels you will witness, will surprise you.
The persistent use of per capita income as a gauge of African economies growth, should be discarded. It is largely misrepresentative of real situation on the ground, as it does not factor in, the distribution of growth. For instance, according to GDP figures, Uganda economy, has from, 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 expanded from, 25.00 USD billion to 29.00 USD billion, but collaborative government and civil society statistical data, shows that, poverty levels, have in the same period tremendously increased, which in essence implies that, the so called economic expansion is of no value to the majority of its citizens.
All African countries are debt- distressed and billions of monies, they have for years borrowed and are still borrowing from world bank, IMF, China, and other lending institutions and countries, to finance, roads, standard gauge railways construction, power, and other infrastructural developments, with the main aim of attracting foreign direct investments, have not and are not translating into economic wellbeing of the masses. The machinery and technologies used in these infrastructural projects, is foreign imported, very few Africans are employed in these projects, and a big percentage of this borrowed billions, is often swindled through syndicated corruption, involving African leaders and their thieving cronies.
There is no ground-breaking inventions, innovations, and technologies, being generated by Africa’s academic institutions, meant for spurring Africa’s industrial development. All the industries in Africa, are majorly powered by imported technologies. Why is this so and yet we have science, technology, and inter-disciplinary faculties in our universities?
Research is now a major growth and development accelerator of leading world economies. All the ground-breaking technologies that translates into economic well-being of the citizens are attained, through heavily investing in research. Is research financing a priority to African countries? How much does each country apportion to research each financial year? Can that research financing amount enable each country to produce ground- breaking technologies to leapfrog its forward in meeting the needs its citizens?
All over the continent, youth unemployment is on rise, and so is endemic corruption, both of which are deleterious economic bombs, that have been and are set, to continue exploding causing political unrest and destabilizing Africa growth agendas. What has happened and is happening in Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, among others is largely a governance question.
Almost all African leaders are pursuing two personal egoistic agendas: personal/family wealth accumulation, and creating a sort of political system/dynasty that provides for continued enjoyment of ill-gotten wealth even when not in power. Creating societal wealth is not their main agenda.
In sum, Africa rising narrative, will only become a reality, when the continent get visionary and transformative leaders, whose main agenda, is to trigger accumulation of an all- inclusive societal wealth. Today’s Africa rising narrative that is mainly advanced basing on GDP growth figures, is largely deceptive, as reality on the ground shows that it is fundamentally exclusive of majority of continental citizens.
*Moses Hategeka, is Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Response To Moise Shewa’s ‘Don’t Fan Flames Of Hatred In Cameroon’
November 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Mufor Atanga
Dear Moise Shewa,
It is one thing to express your bias opinion through fiction; it is completely another matter to try to make such an opinion pass as facts, as in your opinion piece in the New African of November 2018, (pp 34 – 38). The actual facts do differ with the general thrust of your article and the otherwise highly respected New African has done itself no favours by publishing such a vacuous diatribe. However, what makes it most disagreeable is your deliberate attempt at fudging the facts. Deliberate, because you should know better or ought to; and if you do not, you should first educate yourself on the subject before making what is at best spurious claims to the truth. It would seem though there is a more sinister agenda at play here; first popularised by the Nazis and now being rehashed by the adepts of Trumpism like yourself, it relies on the simple premise that you only need to repeat a lie several times and people start believing it, even when they know it is not the truth. There are many things that have gone wrong with the way and manner in which the quest for restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons is being pursued. However, that does not in any way undermine the legitimacy of the issues raised, or the cause itself. Ordinarily, I would have ignored your article, as I do most that have been published during the course of the current phase of the Southern Cameroons quest for restoration since 2016. However, this will be doing you and the readership of the New African a disservice if the fallacies contained therein were not to be corrected:
- I read Chimamanda’s piece at the time it appeared and I have watched a couple of JJ Rawlings’s and PLO Lumumba’s outings on the Southern Cameroons. There is nothing in their views that could be contested as being unfounded. What makes your referencing them as the anchor of your article particularly disingenuous is your argument that because they are foreigners, they do not fully understand what is happening in the Cameroons. Your attempt to discredit their stance as such with the rather weak argument of proximity to the situation and circumstances falls flat as it is an argument that has already been debunked on several different occasions and one need not belabour here. As it has been proven several times over, often foreigners are not only more knowledgeable about local history and situations but also do appreciate the nuances that underpin local circumstances and actions.
- Are you ignorant of the fact that in the Cameroonian context the use of the term Anglophone (as with Francophone) has a specific historical, geographic and socio-political connotation that goes beyond one’s mastery of the English language or principal language of communication? It is not some Anglophones who believe that they are marginalised; it is the vast majority of Anglophones who are aware of the fact that they have been under colonial occupation by what is itself a French colony since 1961, and who want to be out of Cameroun through the restoration of the statehood of the Sothern Cameroons. Aren’t you well aware of the fact that it is not about language but the instrumentalization of language, in this instance, English and French? Besides, aren’t you well aware of the uncontested facts on how the Southern Cameroons as a territory and people have fared in Cameroun since 1961, and to say it is simply a matter of belief is another lie? The problem with some journalistic opinion pieces, such as yours, is that they are often shallow and devoid of facts. Besides, it is near impossible to attempt refuting every sentence that is misleading or an outright lie. Often it is a waste of time attempting to debunk an article not only because it is presented as an opinion piece but also because it is not all those who might have read the initial article who would invariably read any rejoinder.
- It is also misleading to state that in 2016 the lawyers were protesting against the use of English in the courts. As important as the language being used in the courts in the territory is, the protests of the lawyers at the time, as you ought to know, went far beyond the use of language. I recall it was Ngongang Ouandji who as Minister of Justice in 1985 whilst on a visit in Bamenda, at a meeting with the judicial corps stated to the effect that there is need to harmonise the legal system; and his very next sentence was that what obtains in the Anglophone provinces is bad, meaning there is need for the Anglophones who practice the common law system to adopt the civil (Napoleonic) law system that obtains in French Cameroun. So too, with the educational system, for until our widespread protests in 1984, led by Anglophone students in the then lone University of Yaounde, our cohort would have been the experimental guinea pigs of writing the BAC syllabus in English in the name of harmonisation of the educational system. Hence, as with the legal system, harmonisation has never been about the development of a unique indigenous system in Cameroun but a superimposition of a bastardised and poorly mastered francophone system onto the anglophone education system. The recent presidential decree (October 2018) truncating the GCE Board further illustrates the point, and bears testimony to the demonstrated bad faith of the Francophone led regime, from the onset of the tacit Union, if any was still required. As amply experienced during the past 57 years, intention cannot be legislated, as the Francophone led regime had approached unification as a zero-sum game and subsequently back peddled on every written understanding entered into with the Anglophone community; for, it is as recently as 1993 that the GCE Board was established after protests by anglophone parents, teachers and students during which many were injured and lives lost. It is that mindset that still informs policy formulation and decision making when it comes to Anglophone Cameroun.
- It is another false argument to state that the Anglophones are protesting against the lack of jobs and development in the territory, as important as these are. As you should know, there was a clearly spelt out tacit agreement and terms which brought the two territories together in 1961 in the form of the federal constitution. The Francophone led regime orchestrated the abrogation of this agreement through the pseudo-referendum that took place in 1972, thereby ending the quasi-federalism that existed until then. Hence the constitutional and institutional arrangements that were meant to guarantee the autonomy of the territory and people were systematically undermined and destroyed. As such nothing legally binds the two territories together. Not only that and as I have amply demonstrated elsewhere (The Anglophone Cameroon Predicament, 2011), the Francophone led regime over the years systematically destroyed all important economic initiatives, both state and private, that could have provided opportunities to the people of the territory turning it into a vast labour reserve. Otherwise, what happened to the once thriving commercial seaport of Victoria where you live and are heavily invested, to mention only this?
- Another not so subtle argument which you make, and is often made by the Francophone led regime and most of the Francophone intelligentsia who are against the restoration of the Southern Cameroons statehood is that the territory historically belongs to Cameroun and was simply returned in 1961. I wouldn’t go into this as it has been extensively exhausted by others. Suffice to extent your logic by asking why the other parts of German Kamerun that are now parts of Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Congo Republic haven’t been returned to Cameroun? I suppose you would claim not to have come across the 2005 Banjul judgement of the ACHPR on the territory and peoples either? Don’t you know of when boundaries in Africa became immutable? And has the position of the African Union on the immutability of boundaries at independence changed?
- Your assertion that the issue in Cameroun is one of tribalism is not only insulting but nonsensical given some of the preceding points advanced and to follow. Does it mean that if tribalism was to be removed as a factor in the body politic of Cameroun would it suddenly rediscover its once vaunted peace and stability? Isn’t it being rather reductionist to conflate and reduce the myriad of governance issues that make Cameroun inherently unstable to the existence of tribalism? Again, it is similar to some of the arguments made by a number of Francophone intellectuals that the problem in the Cameroons is one of tribalism:
- the so-called Anglophones as you very well know, are not a tribe; and there are many ethnicities or nationalities in the Southern Cameroons;
- this is the same argument that the Francophone led regime advances with its since abandoned geo-ethnic policies (in favour of the concentration of power and resources overwhelmingly in the hands of one ethnic group) whereby Anglophones are perceived as an ethnic group in the allocation of resources, spoils of political office and appointments in the civil service; and
- What is the basis of your assertion that the reason for the many wars that have plagued our continent since independence is tribalism? There is no need for me to go into the theoretical and ideological underpinnings of wars here. Suffice to state that the causes for wars generally and in particular in Africa are multi-dimensional. Whilst ethnicity is often a factor in African politics, it is very simplistic to attribute the lack of the ability to manage diversity (which ought to be a source of wealth) to be the main cause of fragility and violent conflict in the postcolonial state in Africa. Besides, the Southern Cameroons (which is multinational and multi-ethnic) quest is not to capture power in Yaounde per se, but for the restoration of its statehood;
- again, to illustrate how simplistic your argument is, how many ethnic groups (or tribes, your preferred terminology) constituted the old Somalia which you covered as a journalist in the early 1990s? And why has Somaliland refused to be part of the old Somali state, given that it is made up of the same ethnic group?
- Another fallacious assertion you make is that most of the leaders of the uprising live abroad. This is not only cannily similar to the argument that the Francophone led regime makes, but it also denies those living the experience back in Cameroun agency and the ability to think for themselves. It was in May 2015 that the lawyers initially made their demands to the government from Bamenda; publicised by way of a Conference Declaration, all of them were living in the Cameroons. It was because the government gave deaf ears to the legitimate demands of the lawyers initially and subsequent follow ups that by mid-2016 the situation degenerated. The teachers soon followed suit during the latter part of 2016 with their own legitimate demands. These were not simply trade union demands as some would rather misrepresent as both the legal and educational systems have a material and immediate impact on the daily lives of the people. It was precisely because the government failed to address the demands that the trade unions along with other civil society organisations hastily created the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) which led the initial attempts to negotiate with the government. The government’s half-hearted attempt to negotiate (perceived in many quarters rightly as an attempt to identify the leaders) with CACSC failed primarily because the government concessions were correctly perceived as window dressing and did not go far enough in addressing the grievances.
- Prior to the CACSC being banned in January 2017, in November and December 2016 the government had already killed hundreds of those who sympathised with the cause of this organisation. It is precisely because the government banned the organisation, arrested some of its leaders with whom it was previously negotiating, whilst others who had escaped the government’s dragnet went on exile that the organisation morphed into the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF). As such:
- Whilst some of the leadership of the uprising are currently to be found abroad, most of them remain in Cameroun and are either in jail or leading various forms of resistance including self-defence;
- It is the government’s poor management of the crisis which led to its degeneration and the demands for a return to federalism;
- The government’s refusal to entertain the demand to reconstitute the nature of the initial implicit union led to further demands for the restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons, which had been a longstanding demand of several groupings, particularly accentuated since the 1993 All Anglophone Conference;
- There is ample evidence to demonstrate that prior to young people taking up arms in the Southern Cameroons for self defence the government had carried out massacres in the territory particularly on 22 September and 01 October 2017 against peaceful demonstrators.
- There is equally credible evidence to show that most of the intimidations, kidnappings for ransom, banditry, is perpetrated by elements of the Cameroun military and vigilante groups set up (to discredit the Amba Boys) by Anglophone government functionaries – Patrick Ekema, the Mayor of Buea and Atanga Nji Paul, the notorious Minister of Territorial Administration, it has been repeatedly alleged, are said to be behind many of such fake Amba fighters and incidents, such as, the Menka-Pinyin massacre of May 2018, the kidnapping of a number of Chiefs around Fako in August 2018, or the recent (around the 4th and 5th of November 2018) abduction of about 90 students from a Presbyterian secondary school, PSS Nkwen, in the city of Bamenda. Recently, the leader of the once formidable opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, claimed to have evidence of government Ministers who are sponsoring fake “Amba Boys” as reported by the Guardian Post. It is the government that as the current US Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin once indicated, employ targeted killings, kidnappings, etc in the territory. It is the President of Cameroon who in November 2017 declared war against a section of the country and a people he claims to be ruling. It is the armée Camerounaise that is applying a scorched earth policy in the prosecution of the war against the so-called ‘Amba terrorists’ with at the last count over 140 villages razed; with old grannies and the infirmed being burnt alive in their homes, hospitals and schools being set ablaze, just as it was done in the Bamileke region in the 1960s.
- Again, it is a lie that the Anglophone leadership of the uprising has advocated for the attack of Francophones. On the contrary what I am aware of, is the repeated emphasis that the quarrel is with the Francophone led regime in Yaounde and not with the ordinary Francophone who generally are mired in the same poverty and misery as prevalent in Anglophone Cameroon. On the contrary, there is well documented evidence of senior government officials, such as the Governor of the South West Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, referring to Anglophones as rats that should be exterminated; whilst a number of Francophone radio and TV stations such as Vision 4 in Yaounde have gained notoriety with their anti-anglophone propaganda. Through such inflammatory utter nonsense, it would appear it is the author and his likes who are attempting to fan the flames of hatred of Anglophones by Francophones and vice versa. What needs to be pointed out here as well, is that very few Francophones (such as Patrice Nganang) have realised that the shortest course to true independence for French Cameroun is by supporting and teaming up with the Southern Cameroons restoration quest.
- What are the exaggerated stories of marginalisation, that have been told to Ms Adichie, Messrs Rawlings and Lumumba by their Anglophone friends since reunification 59 years (sic) ago? How, by the author’s own admission, does the brutalisation and murder of students, teachers and lawyers, or the shutdown of the internet and many other atrocities being committed by the paramilitary gendarmes, the army and other agents of the vampire state become an exaggeration? As you did read English Literature in the University of Yaounde, you should have been taught by Prof Bernard Fonlon who is considered not only as a leading Anglophone of his time but also an intellectual of international renown – largely perceived in certain quarters as a system legitimiser because of his close collaboration with the despotic Ahidjo regime, are you unaware that he is one of the principal authors of the New Social Order published in 1985 and hence one of the intellectual godfathers of the Ambazonian uprising along with the likes of Fon Gorgi Dinka and Albert Mukong? Did you ever read his Shall we Make or Mar which as the scribe of the KNDP he penned to Ahidjo and his UC acolytes in 1964 and which shows that by then there was already clear signs of the collapse of the union? If you cared to, you would have discovered that there is a body of academic literature generated largely by Anglophone scholars and their foreign counterparts beginning with the Canadian Jacques Benjamin’s Les Camerounais Occidentaux… in 1972 being the first book length publication on how federalism had been practised and collapsed in the Cameroons? Did you read the article published by a Francophone, the former Governor of the then Anglophone provinces of the North West and South West and subsequently Secretary General at the Presidency of Cameroun, Abouem à Tchoyi in January 2017? What of the memorandum published by the Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Province of Bamenda in December 2016 as well, to mention but these few?
- Even if independence had been declared on 01 October 2017, symbolic or otherwise, did those who had made the declaration use force? Was the wholesale slaughter of unarmed civilians by the so-called security forces the most appropriate response by the government? Was that the first time such a declaration had been made or the population coming out to celebrate? I may not have agreed with the actions of those who had made such a declaration at the time – however, given the many illegal acts of the regime from 1961 signposted by the subterfuge of a referendum in 1972, reverting to the name La Republique du Cameroun through an ultra vires presidential decree in 1984, and being the name with which French Cameroun was known prior to the purported union with the Sothern Cameroons, the various presidential decrees over the years that eroded the autonomy of the Anglophone region, amongst many other illicit acts, making such a declaration by the restorationists was quite understandable and it is not treasonous as you posit. That’s why as earlier referenced the letter published by the Catholic Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) in December 2016 recommended addressing the root cause of the uprising just as the American Ambassador, Henry Peter Barlerin, amongst many others, have stated. In this instance, just as throughout your article your stance reflects the regime’s position and often using its exact phrasing.
- Again, comparing the Anglophone territory and peoples to other regions in Cameroun is another false comparison as those regions never held a UN organised plebiscite (whose legitimacy is now being questioned by some in the International Community) in 1961 to gain independence by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroon; nor did they enter into an informal union with Cameroun through a clearly defined federal constitutional framework (although with its own shortcomings) which outlined minimum safeguards to guarantee and preserve the identity and autonomy of the region. It is not the Southern Cameroons that breached the informal agreement at every turn and there is no point returning to the status quo ante as the experience of the past 57 years has been one long nightmare. Obviously to you, the complete wiping out of more than 140 towns and villages, the deliberate indiscriminate slaughter of the peoples of these towns and villages with over 4000 dead so far, the more than 50 thousand refuges to be found in Nigeria, the more than 500 thousand internally displaced persons (many living under extremely precarious conditions in the forests) in the territory, do not constitute acts of genocide perpetrated by your Francophone kinsmen from across the Mungo and Matazem.
- It is unsophisticated sophism to attempt to compare the Southern Cameroons restoration quest to the Biafran experience or other civil wars that have been fought on the continent in the recent past, for reasons already advanced here and more. Besides, the Southern Cameroons quest is to a large extent a demand for the rectification of a historical injustice done to it with the complicity of the so-called international community, in particular the UN, Britain and France. Restoration is not antithetical to pan-Africanism either as you attempt to insinuate. If anything, it is the acts of genocide currently being perpetrated that will hinder good neighbourliness for a people and states condemned to live side by side, whatever the outcome of the current uprising.
- There’s nothing confusing about the status and identity of immigrant peoples and settler communities in the Southern Cameroons. Such immigrants were granted Southern Cameroons citizenship if they so choose and many of them actively participated in Southern Cameroons politics and many held senior cabinet and civil service positions in the various governments in the Southern Cameroons and subsequently in the various governments in West Cameroon. I happen to know that most of them, are quite active in the current restoration quest. If the author understood the Anglophone and had searched the soul of the Southern Cameroonian, he would have discovered deep within the burning desire for liberty that cannot be quenched by some cosmetic changes; he would have realised that this time nothing but visible irreversible progress towards the attainment of such freedom will calm the uprising that has gripped the imagination of the population. If the views expressed in your opinion piece, and which are not different from those of the authoritarian regime in Yaounde, are the same you express when you are with some of your Anglophone friends, it is not surprising then that they throw jibes at you as to your ‘Anglophoneness’.
- No less a personage than the highly respected and most eminent Christian Cardinal Tumi recently confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the Anglophone population is for restoration, if the story carried in The Guardian Post of 02 November 2018 is to be believed. Amongst the Anglophone population, only a tiny minority, less than 0.25 percent, in the main senior politicians and civil servants as well as business people, who rely heavily on the regime’s patronage and contracts for survival are not in favour of restoration. Even amongst these most will settle for a loose form of federation with La Republique du Cameroun. However, given the events of the past couple of years this is no longer a tenable proposition.
- Your condemnation of some amongst the Anglophone leadership for holding British or American citizenship is not dissimilar from the hypocrisy of the Yaounde regime that has systematically, and since the beginning of the current crisis intensified the prevention or expulsion from Cameroon of its critics who travel on foreign passports such as the writer and academic, Patrice Nganang (perhaps it is worth pointing out that Patrice, a Francophone, and redoubtable critic of the regime actively supports and campaigns for the Anglophone cause) in January 2018, or refusing to grant a visa to the iconic musician, Richard Bona to attend the funeral of his mother in mid-2017 – both of them having acquired US citizenship. These would have been understandable if the regime applied such measures even-handedly; but it is not the case, as most of Biya’s Ministers and senior civil servants openly carry foreign passports. Perhaps the issue then is not foreign passports per se and the only rational explanation is that these regime functionaries who also hold French nationality are not considered by the regime to have dual nationality since Cameroun remains a French colony in everything but name, and one could as such see why the current policy that does not allow for dual nationality does not apply to them. During the last French presidential elections, Roger Milla, the soccer legend and Adolf Moudiki, the Director General of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH), were shown on the national television, CRTV, casting their votes at the French Embassy in Yaounde.
- It is extreme mischief, if not outright cruelty, at a time when the peoples of the Southern Cameroons are confronting an existential threat, for the author to make light of the struggles of the long-suffering and besieged Anglophones in the Cameroons. He is the one indulging in irredentism with a very strong dose of revisionism. A lot of blood has already been spilt and remains ongoing, on both sides, simply because the moribund but arrogant regime in Yaounde lacks any redeeming leadership features. It should be clear to all including the regime by now that this is a war it is not going to win in the battlefield. Initially, it thought that it will be a matter of weeks before it crushes the uprising; exactly a year since the formal declaration of war by Mr Biya, yet the ragtag and poorly equipped Amba Boys are only growing in strength with each day that fighting continues. In spite of several false flag activities carried out by the agents of the government and the military such as the Menka-Pinyin massacre, aimed at discrediting the Amba Boys with the international community by portraying them as mere bandits and terrorists; and alienating them from the population who by and large they rely on for support. It remains incumbent upon the regime to open negotiations with the Anglophone leadership.
- Disagreeing with the legitimate aspirations and quest of a people, doesn’t mean the truth should become the first casualty as your writeup attests. If anything, a veritable revolution has taken place during the past couple of years – the people have awoken to the magnitude of historical injustices carried out against them. At no time in the history of the people of the Southern Cameroons have they learned as much of their long-suppressed history as now. As such, no amount of hacked writing and distortion will ever sway the people from this consciousness and their burning desire for freedom. As it is often the case, nobody is currently in control of the violence that has been unleashed on an unsuspecting people by the rogue regime in Yaounde. Ultimately both parties will end up at the negotiating table and a responsive and responsible government could have spared all us from this unnecessary senseless war.
 For a quick but comprehensive introduction to understanding what is happening in Cameroon today, see amongst others, M. Atanga, (2011) The Anglophone Cameroon Predicament, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon; Piet Konings and Francis Nyamnjoh (2003) Negotiating An Anglophone Identity: A Study of the Politics of Recognition and Representation in Cameroon, Brill, Leiden and Boston; and Carlson Anyangwe (2008) Imperialistic Politics in Cameroun: Resistance & the Inception of the Restoration of the Statehood of Southern Cameroons, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon.
 “Memorandum presented to the head of state, His Excellency President Paul Biya, by the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bamenda on the current situation of unrest in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon”, BAPEC, 22 December 2016.