Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

opinion

Forces in the current power struggle in Nigeria
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

Although participation in “bourgeois politics”—as we used to call electoral politics—has never been absent from the Nigerian Left’s general programme, it has also not been made a “categorical imperative”. I am, however, now persuaded that it has become generally accepted in the ranks of contemporary Nigerian Leftists that intervention and participation in the country’s electoral struggle—for office or for power, as an organized political force and in alliance or acting separately—have become both categorical and urgent. The following notes are offered as a searchlight in support of this anticipated revised programme of the Nigerian Left. The Left should see the political terrain more clearly.

The contradictions highlighted may assist the Left in deciding on alliances if that political strategy favourably suggests itself. But the Left should, first of all, construct a serious and viable organization and develop a people’s manifesto. My notes will be presented in three steps.

Step One: Unity and disunity in Nigeria’s ruling class: A proposition I made in a recent piece, Movements of Nigeria’s ruling class (June 1, 2018), goes like this: “Nigeria’s ruling class is characterized by this duality: On the one hand, as a national ruling class, it is fundamentally united by capitalism (as dominant mode of production) and capitalist rules and logic (which unite and run the entire economy). On the other hand, the class is divided by many things: history, places and roles in the economy, primitive/primary accumulation of capital, ethnicity, regionalism, religion, culture, etc.” I may add that the class is also divided—at a secondary level—by differences in education, exposure and personal development.

It is because the ruling class is united that it is able to enforce, protect and defend its collective interests against the interests of other classes and strata, and be able to close ranks at critical times when its rule, as class rule, is challenged. We may look at just two illustrations. Why has the National Assembly, which has been engaged in so many civil wars, not been able to engage in a serious debate on its scandalous emoluments since the birth of the Fourth Republic? And why has the Federal Executive Council or the Presidency not thought of reviewing the “contract system”—knowing full well that it is the biggest source of corruption and state robbery?

On the other hand, it is because the ruling class is disunited along the lines indicated above—and other lines—that it has, within its ranks, different political parties, factions of political parties, different “sociopolitical” and “sociocultural” groups, secret cults and fraternities, insurgent groups, elders’ and thought-leaders’ forums, criminal gangs, mafias, etc, etc.

The ruling class of Nigeria is engaged in two simultaneous struggles: one external and the other internal. The external struggle is the struggle against the other classes, groups and strata which the ruling class dominates and exploits. The internal struggle is the range of battles going on within the class between factions and groupings earlier listed. The president heads two fighting forces. He heads the ruling class in its fight against the oppressed; and he heads the hegemonic faction of the ruling class against the other factions. If he loses one of the two positions, or both positions, he may still remain in office, but not in power.

Step Two: Nature of politics and power struggle: Let us define a social formation as a “society or social structure at any level (such as a nation, city, business, university or even a family) with all its complexities (economic, political and ideological relations) as it is historically constituted.” Nigeria is a social formation. And this social formation is called capitalist not because capitalist relations of production are the only relations in the economy. No. There can be, as in Nigeria, several pre-capitalist and non-capitalist modes of production in an economy designated as capitalist. Nigeria is called capitalist not only because the capitalist mode of production dominates in the economy, but also because the logic and rules of capitalist exploitation govern the administration, reproduction and development of Nigeria as a social formation.

The main proposition here is that politics is played and political power struggles are waged “holistically” at the level of the social formation—as different from other forms of struggles (economic, ideological, cultural, etc), which are waged at “sectoral levels”. For instance: a party of the ruling class does not address only members of its class when campaigning for votes. It addresses the social formation.

Similarly, a revolutionary socialist party should not address only the toiling and working masses— although these are in overwhelming majority. It must address all classes and groups including the oppressors and exploiters— because it aspires to rule over and transform society as a whole—for the good of all.

The language of politics is therefore different from that of economic struggle. For instance: The language of labour disputes—which accept the fact of capitalist ownership—should be different from the language of disputes over factory ownership! Similarly, the language of minimum wage struggles should be different from the language of struggles to occupy Aso Rock and determine labour policies!

Step Three: Forces in Nigeria’s current power struggle. This third and final step consists of applications of the preceding steps to the current political battles. We may first look at the ruling class parties, properly so called. They include, in the main, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the newly energized African Democratic Congress (ADC).

Of these five political formations, the first two (APC and PDP) are nation-wide in spread; they are stronger than the others; and the balance of power within each of them reflects the balance of power within the ruling class as a whole. In other words, each of APC and PDP, though national, has centres of gravity—like the ruling class itself. APGA is limited geopolitically by history and current practice. SDP and ADC aspire to be like APC and PDP in geopolitical spread. From the point of view of the Left, the only concrete difference between these five thoroughly capitalist formations is in their positions on the “national question”, specifically “federalism” and “restructuring”.

One particular point in the preceding paragraph should be lifted and underlined. And this is the fact that each of APC and PDP—and perhaps, SDP and ADC in the future—reflects the unity and disunity (that is the contradictions) in the country’s ruling class (as described in Step One). So, when a particular national political question, such as “federalism and restructuring”, is raised, one discovers contradictions in both APC and PDP: while some segments in each party say they are categorically committed to it (with details still unclear), others are ambivalent. The balance of forces in each of the two parties today is not a categorical commitment to “true federalism” and “restructuring”.

What is the place and role of the Nigerian Left in this survey of political forces? Are they irrelevant to the power struggle? Are they external to it? In response we may paraphrase a passage from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution (1932). It goes like this: “Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a pistonbox. Nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam”.

In its 75-year history, the Nigerian Left has had tremendous impact not only among the working and toiling masses and the “wretched of the earth”, but across the social formation and in the country’s political process. But that impact has been dissipated like steam not enclosed in a pistonbox!

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

0
Read More
Zimbabwe:Mahatma Gandhi, Civil Society And The Media, The Influential Voice Behind Total Emancipation Of Women
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Abigail Gamanya

Abigail Gamanya

Great living words by India’s founding Father Mahatma Gandhi leave a bone to chew for women of the World as Zimbabwe’s elections are close by .It is their time to amplify their voices to yearn for their change and to learn from other countries and exchange experiences. This is time for Representative, Participatory and Liberal Democracy to work for women. The true observation is that women always need a start kick in voice before they call in their concerns.

Mahatma Gandhi of India who stood for women rights and emancipation left a quotation of influence as he encouraged women to stand up and voice their concerns.

‘’Women be the change you want to see in this World’’.

Their move towards total equality with men leads to achievement of Sustainable Development Goals .However, way to their total equality with men is still long a way to go since there are some policy gaps they need to soil up , unite and bind a social cohesion to wrestle feministic development challenges .This is where United Nations Women and civil society , NGO’s comes in .

According to the Gender and Media Connect of Zimbabwe, Gender Expert, Abigail Gamanya , civil society strategizes and opens the way for women programs of which media amplifies the voices in crescendo .

‘’Let us not forget its Media  and Civil society voices of collective action which emancipate women .It starts with civil society way-forward in community action then follows Media voices in Information dissemination like on sexual abuse and violation of women at marital level,  at the work place and across all streams of gender crossings in what is called Gender mainstreaming.

‘’At the same time, violation of female Journalists rights is still rife. We need to create gender safety in media houses .Let us create a fair playing field between men and women. Also women must avoid the dependency on male counterparts at work’.

‘’All lies on policies at work place to address this.  If this is not addressed, women’s Human Rights are trodden underground and this leaves them vulnerable, disadvantaged and they get exposed to other forms of abuse.

‘’That is the reason why we have International protocols like the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration for Human Rights , the Covenant on Social Economic and Cultural Rights of 1966 of which signatory countries borrow a craft of their Laws from ‘’, expounded ,Abigail .           .

Several International protocols have rescued women of the World without prejudice. Every one counts according to the Universal Declaration for Human Rights of 1948 .It is beyond doubt that Governments of the World have tirelessly worked harder than before to pave way for International protocols work in their respective countries in order for these countries to craft their Legislations and policies .

Zimbabwe as signatory to the UN has made great strides to come up with Laws which at most protect women. Good examples are the Domestic Violence Act, the Equal Salaries Act , Laws on Children and women , on Media freedom and those on Inheritance and sexual abuse .In doing the work tirelessly, it hooked several Non- Governmental Organizations to do their Humanitarian work following those International protocols .

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women[CEDAW] of 1979 in the decade for women 1970 to 1980 pushed countries of the World to weave and craft policies and Legislation endorsed through their Justice Ministries and Parliaments .

A strong push to women’s freedom and equality came with force after the Beijing Declaration for Action of 1995 in Beijing , China .Women have made it through hardships in their long journey to emancipation . .

Despite the fact that they have achieved in equality at some angles in search of their rights, there is need for Governments and Non -Governmental Organizations to remove stint in a stink, to light the way further for Universal emancipation of all Human beings.

In strengthening and fortifying Universal gender equity and equality, removing forms of sexual abuse and violation of human rights and promoting frameworks for Human Rights, Gender Media Connect is following footprints of Mahatma Gandhi and Civil Society to combat sexual harassment at the workplace so as to promote Female Journalists Rights and Gender safety.

Gender Media Connect cherish the equality of men and women at work place , combat sexual harassment through information dissemination with training of all Journalists regardless of media house and sex . Gender Media Connect is building heavy structures of the organization, firstly through the recognition of female Journalists rights in all Media houses, where sometimes female journalists face challenges related to sexual harassment and violation of their rights.

‘’As an organization, we are obliged to create space for Human Rights recognition of all Journalists’’.

‘’My call is to encourage media houses create space for female journalists by desisting from sexual harassment and violation at the workplace by men.

‘’It is everywhere, it applies at all work places, where women can face challenges related to sexual harassment’’, she said.

The SADC protocol on Gender works in the Region to promote Gender equality in families, at work place and where women strive to achieve their determined goals. Its BAROMETER monitors Gender equality and equity .In Parliament women must also have equal seats with men. The call is 50——50 Seats.

Another Gender and Media Expert, Patience Zirima comments on women represantation as still low . Much is needed to be done to raise their voices in the next elections so that they can get Parliamentary representation although they are not part of Presidium contestants.

‘’Women under representation is still low in the News rooms and Parliament as low as 27% in Democratic Republic of Congo ,Angola ,Namibia ,South Africa ,Mozambique and Malawi ’’ .

‘’Women need open space and an environment at work in which they are safe. They need room in decision making in order for them enjoy full freedom. In fact those who brave to enter the field and succeeded, grappled with challenges, she said ‘’.

Gender Expert Fiona Magaya reiterated that Men top management is still high by almost 72% in the Region. Fiona attributes this to traditional values, social norms and culture .Gender imbalances are mostly perpetuated by some of these factors among them, gender stereotypes meaning how we perceive a human being according to sex, social and cultural belief long time borrowed from past, cultural belief that boy child does well than the female counterpart, he needs allocation of more resources than the girl.

‘’Women still have a long way to go . The long way is perpetuated by culture and tradition which we need to address to its bone , killing male chauvinism and patriarchy at all sectorial levels’’ , she said

‘’There is more to it that we are currently experiencing’’,,,, bounced in Susan Makore an ICT and Gender Expert. Her sentiments touched on Information Communication Technology as one modern challenge stepping in .

‘’The Digital shift in the Industry led to discrimination against female journalists who took it up slow to adapt to Technology. That is the main challenge as well. Thus why there were programs initiated to capacitate women on ICT issues and make grow their knowledge in the Region,’’.

According to Agness Kadzunge from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Work place discrimination affects women mainly; they are taken inferior, of low value, not quite able to push for change. This contributes to lower socio- economic status of women who sometimes end in psychological stress and end losing hope .This is mainly attributed to organizational culture and mixes more with the way people are brought up in a community.

‘’We need to work more on crafting other policies and Laws especially those focusing at workplace. Research is vital to fill gaps. Legislation, policies and regulations, thus the weapon that can bring sanity to any forms of inequality and discrimination’’

‘’As we focus strongly on this, multi- sectorial co-ordinated response and stakeholder involvement help us in coming up with strategies meant to address in-equalities.

‘’For Media, advocacy for gender sensitive and inclusive environment is crucial for gender equality. Women need more robust capacity building on some areas affecting them especially where tradition and culture is centered. Lastly, we need to close policy gaps and walk the new talk on Gender in a modern World ‘’, concluded the Acting Director in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

As food for thought, in every field women choose to enter, they can expect to earn less over lifetime than male counterparts. This means over 47 years of full time work. This gap amounts to an estimated loss in wages for women of US 700,000 for High School Graduates, US1,2 million for College graduates and US 2 million for Professional School Graduates . What a staggering amount.

0
Read More
3 YEARS LATER… AND YOU DIDN’T FAIL TO DISAPPOINT
May 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ephraim Adiele*

Happy Democracy Day, Mr. President

How are you, work and family?

President Buhari

President Buhari

Dear Sir, I have not been a fan of you as Nigeria’s president since you emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 because I have done proper ground research and realized you have nothing good to offer.  You were not an exemplary leader during your first stay as Head of State – You even overthrew a democratically elected government. You are not exactly a role model when it comes to being a businessman so I did not expect you to revolutionize the economy. So pardon my pessimism about your leadership skills (I was not wrong anyways)

My first draft of this open letter was quite lengthy and might have probably gotten me arrested because I was pretty pissed while I was writing and had a lot of things to say about how terrible your administration has been and the unimaginably horrible impact it has had on the Nigerian people as a whole. After writing for a while (about 1200 words) I stopped and realized I was ranting, then I realized I did not really need to analyze how bad your administration has been because Nigerians are feeling it and do not need an article reminding them of their very sorry condition. Asides that, I recall writing 3 different letters to your daughter, son and wife within the first year of your administration.

Then I remembered that fateful day – December 24, 2014 – when I was invited to Oriental Hotel, Lagos as part of a number of young leaders of thought to come and have audience with your then-Vice Presidential aspirant, Yemi Osinbajo. On that day, we were given the APC manifesto (which should be attached to this article) which I went through and laughed heartily because I realized that you and your party members really take Nigerians for fools (well, aren’t we?) by making promises that can never be fulfilled even in the next 20 years except a miraculous revolution occurs.

After I was handed the manifesto, I went through it and underlined several of those phantom promises which I knew will never be fulfilled. I will just list them here and probably just make a few additions later.

THE APC PROMISED THE FOLLOWING:

  • “Within the first year of your administration, employ 740,000 (20,000 per state + FCT) young graduates in immediate employment and empowerment scheme.” – This promise was never fulfilled and this is already the 3rd year and no signs of this EVER happening.
  • “After NYSC, we will pay graduates stipends for one year under a vocational scheme where they build entrepreneurial and work-readiness capacity.” – NYSC alumni… how market?
  • “Create an additional middle class of at least 4 million new homeowners” – Please when and where is the next landlord meeting holding. I have to attend.
  • “Provide free meals in school to drastically reduce the number of out of school children. Osun State provides free lunches and got its enrolment to 80%” – This was APC using Governor Rauf Aregbesola as an example! I’m stunned!
  • “Targeting up to 20% of our annual budget for education.” – By my last check, only 7% of the 2018 budget was allocated for education.
  • “Ban Medical Trips for government officials” –  Yes, you read right! This same Buhari promised to ban medical trips to the abroad for government officials.
  • “Tuition reimbursement for health workers willing to relocate to rural areas” – I know many of my friends in the medical field who would dive at this offer if ever it is made, but what do I know? “Buhari has fulfilled his campaign promises”
  • “In different phases over 4 years, APC will make monthly direct cash transfer of N5,000 to the 25 million poorest citizens, if they immunize their children and enroll them in school” – Dear Mr President, I strongly believe I am among the 25 million poorest Nigerians and my children are immunized and in school, where can I join the queue to collect my N5k?
  • “Generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24 hour basis … by 2019” – I will borrow the words of Mr President himself when he was talking about his friend, Olusegun Obasanjo, “Where is the power?”
  • “Will guarantee the independence of EFCC and ICPC” – The same EFCC whose chairman was spotted wearing a Buhari re-election badge during a recent interview with Channels TV? Issokay!!!

  In summary, a good look at the APC manifesto shows that the Presidency has failed woefully as regards fulfillment of its promises to Nigerians.

Asides the aforementioned, it is pertinent to note the following anomalies who have assumed order of the day since the President took oath of office.

Incessant killing of innocent villagers by herdsmen (Fulani or not), people are being killed and nothing is being done about it! Benue, Taraba, Plateau… name it!

Just before the election, I used to have discussions with my friends and they were all of the opinion that you were the savior Nigeria badly needed. I used to laugh and tell them you will do exactly what you have been doing and are still doing.

I would like to go on, but the point is clear, you proved no point to me, except that which I already knew before you won the 2015 election: You have no business being the President of Nigeria. I like you, but I don’t like you as the President of this country.

*Ephraim Adiele is a Media and Digital Marketing Specialist. Contact him on @baba_random on all social platforms

0
Read More
Why it is Vital For All African Countries to Sign The Free Trade Deal
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ahmed Mheta

Heads of state pose for a group photograph during the opening ceremony of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The leaders of the United Nations and the African Union urged stronger international cooperation Sunday of the African Union nations. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Heads of state pose for a group photograph during the opening ceremony of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The leaders of the United Nations and the African Union urged stronger international cooperation Sunday of the African Union nations. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The African continent is home to approximately 1.2 billion people and growing everyday. The challenge for most African governments is maintaining sustainable development and growth. One of the best ways to achieving sustainable development and accelerated economic growth is the implementation of free trade as a vehicle to attaining economic integration throughout the continent. Free trade will increase the continent’s combined GDP which currently stands at above US$2.5 trillion.

African leaders agreed to meet in Rwanda allowing 44 nations to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. The agreement is the biggest trade deal since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. Like most impactful establishments, authorities  still face challenges in getting the largest economies to sign the agreement. South Africa and Nigeria, two of the continent’s largest economies did not sign the trade deal stating that they need more time to consult with trade unions and businesses about potential risks. Some of the concerns the two giant economies have with the agreement are fear of displacement of communities and some industries closing due to competition from other regional businesses.

Benefits of the Trade Agreement

Despite potential risks, we should take into account the benefits that the agreement will offer to the continent. The deal will accelerate economic growth, improve sustainable development, allow customers to access a wide variety of goods from other nations at lower prices, promote cultural exchange and advancement of infrastructural projects. The benefits associated with the signing of the trade agreement will lead to creation of jobs and a single continental market for goods and services.

If all nations come together and sign the agreement, the continent’s combined  GDP will most likely double or go way above the US$6 trillion mark.The gross domestic product(GDP) increases will largely be attributed to the increase of intra-trade on the continent and free movement of goods without high tariffs. For example, the continental trade deal will remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods allowing easy access to products while saving money.

The agreement will also encourage the free movement of people as well as the full implementation of a single continental passport. Once all nations have agreed to sign and participate, the establishment of a single continental currency is possible. The deal will encourage a culture of regional peace and understanding.

Despite the potential success of the agreement, leaders still have to address the challenges the continent will face. Solutions need to be formulated and adapted for each problem executives will encounter while trying to establish the deal successfully.

Challenges

One of the main challenges leaders will face while implementing the agreement include the complex task of fostering cooperation among a multitude of national and regional economic actors with trade interests that will diverge at times. Another challenge officials have to deal with is the fear that enterprises will go out of business and the displacement of some communities. Officials believe the trade deal will encourage economic migrants to permanently settle in nations that have bigger economies posing a challenge to governments that are not prepared to deal with the potential influx of migrants.

Solutions

Despite the challenges the continent will encounter, viable solutions should be implemented to facilitate the success of the trade agreement. The African Union has to persuade remaining countries to sign the deal by promoting a solution based approach to any challenge. For example, the union needs to provide enough resources to ensure the success of the agreement. Leaders need to establish a secretariat to coordinate the goals of the agreement and work closely with members of the union. Funding for infrastructure is important to ensure goods are transported efficiently and timely. Rail lines, ports, airports and roads must be further advanced so that goods are easily transported in and out of nations.

Leaders can set up a dispute resolution committee to solve arguments and differences that may derail progress. Creation of social policies that will assist citizens that might lose jobs due to increased competition from other regional businesses is important to ensure communities are intact. Governments will need to develop entrepreneurship programs that boost local businesses in a way that matches other regional enterprises. When continental trade begins at a large scale, the pricing of goods should be set and adjusted to meet the standards of other regional partners.

Many of you will agree with me that the benefits of establishing the trade agreement with full participation from all African nations, outweigh the challenges associated with achieving success. Future African generations as well as the whole world will benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Leaders and lawmakers should do everything in their power to make this game changing economic move.

0
Read More
‘The educator must be educated’
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

This piece is a memo to the Nigerian Left. In an ideal situation, on account of the importance I attach to the subject, the document would have appeared, first, as an internal memo to an appropriate organ of the movement. For the same reason of importance, it would not have stopped at the organ or leadership level. The memo would have passed to the movement as a whole and, thereafter, to the public.

However, because the situation is not ideal—and this is the subject of the memo—I am moving directly to the public. The message in the memo comes at the end of the article. It is a short and direct one. I am therefore utilizing the available space to reflect on a related issue of general interest. The “related issue” supplies the title of the piece. And, “for the avoidance of doubt” and “for completeness”, I define the Nigerian Left in this historical epoch as the aggregate of Marxists, socialists and partisans of popular democracy.

Found in one of the “mountains” of papers, drafts and study notes left behind by Karl Marx at his death in 1883 was a rough document carrying a series of his critical observations on the works of the materialist philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach. The discovery was made by Marx’s life-long friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels. The latter considered the note important enough to be edited, titled and published post-humously as an article and later used for a larger publication. This post-humous article, written by Marx in Brussels in the first half of 1845, and published in 1888 by Engels, has been passed to history and to us as Theses on Feuerbach. In Engels’ view, the “note” which later became Theses on Feuerbach was “the first document in which is deposited the brilliant germ of a new world outlook”, that is, the Marxist theory of history and society. That is for interested students and researchers to examine.

It may interest Nigerian Leftists, progressives, patriots and radical democrats to know that I have also discovered important “theses” in the papers left behind by a number of our departed comrades and compatriots. I have drawn the attention of some comrades to this development. What is interesting in the latter discoveries is that the “theses” have now shed more light on some critical issues that were bitterly debated in the Nigerian Left some decades ago. Some of these issues had led to seemingly irreconcilable divisions and fights; others had led to frustrations, disillusionment, abandonment and premature retirement from struggle.

Back now to Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach. There are eleven of them, or rather, in my view, Engels and latter editors handed over Marx’s theses on Feuerbach to us in eleven segments of unequal lengths. Historically and in broad terms, Marx can be classified, along with Ludwig Feuerbach, as a “materialist” philosopher in contrast to “idealist” philosophers of whom the most famous and best known in Europe of Marx’s time was Hegel. Marx, a student of philosophy and history, started off as a radical or Left Hegelian.

From here he became a critic of Hegel and came under the influence of Feuerbach, a radical anti-Hegelian. It was in the course of confronting the “inadequacies” of Feuerbach that Marx formulated his “theses”. In these theses he called Feuerbach’s materialism the “old materialism” or “mechanical materialism” and his own “the new materialism”. The latter was later codified—after Marx’s death—as Marxist theory of history and society.

I consider three of Marx’s eleven theses on Feuerbach—the second, the third and the eleventh—as the most lucid and direct applications of dialectics to the study of history and society. The second thesis can be rendered as follows: “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory. It is a practical question. In practice, a human being must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”.

The third thesis may be rendered like this: “The doctrine that human beings are products of circumstances and education and that, therefore, changed human beings are products of other circumstances and changed education forgets that the educator himself needs educating. That doctrine as presented by old materialism or contemplative materialism necessarily arrives at dividing society into two parts—one of which is superior to the other. That is not so. In reality the changing of circumstances and human activity coincide; and the coincidence can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.”

The eleventh thesis is the most well-known and is often quoted by revolutionaries and reactionaries alike: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”. To these three theses we may add the following line from Marx’s The Holy Family written just before the Theses: “If a human being is formed by his/her circumstances, then his/her circumstances must be made human.”

We may now move to my message to the Nigerian Left—the main subject of this piece. The message resolves into seven propositions. The first is the “covering” proposition. It is general in nature. The other six are specific. One: There should be initiated in the Nigerian Left a process of internal criticism, education and correction. It should be a process that ends in an organizational leap. The process and the leap are now demanded more than ever before in our post-Civil War history. Two: The national situation in our country now strongly demands that the existing political groups, organisations and parties of the Nigerian Left—as well as unaffiliated Leftists— should combine to form a central political platform. Three: This platform should have a dual form: electoral and non-electoral.

The fourth proposition is this: Independently, Marxists within the Nigerian Left should establish an educational-ideological centre with the capacity for minimum continuity. Five: The centre should be appropriately allied to the political platform; and the two should support and nourish each other. Six: The Nigerian Left should articulate and publish a manifesto that goes beyond being a general presentation. The manifesto should take clear and precise positions on the burning questions of the time. Seven: If the Nigerian Left cannot meet these elementary conditions to confront the challenges of the present stage of our history then it has no basis to enter electoral politics or seek electoral alliance with anybody.

In May 1949, at the start of the anti-communist hysteria which swept America after World War II, a number of American Marxists who were also academics and public intellectuals came together and established an enlightenment-ideological centre. The centre went on to establish a monthly “independent socialist magazine” called Monthly Review.

Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman were the magazine’s co-founders and foundation editors. Today, 69 years later, Monthly Review is not only still appearing monthly and circulating all over the world, it had long become a global institution—carrying out intellectual, academic and ideological programmes and projects in all the continents of the world including America, in particular. Among the articles that appeared in the foundation issue of Monthly Review in May 1949 was one by the world-historic physicist, Albert Einstein. The article was titled Why socialism?

In addition to the Monthly Review magazine, there are now Monthly Review Press and Monthly Review Foundation. The Press publishes highly valued books authored by writers spread across the globe and also distributing important non-Monthly Review books. In other words, Monthly Review Organisation has maintained what I call minimum continuity through almost seven decades—influencing Left and radical politics throughout the world, including America, in particular.

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

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

By Jesse Jackson Snr*

Jesse Jackson Snr

Jesse Jackson Snr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Jerry John Rawlings*

John Rawlings

John Rawlings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*John Rawlings is former President of the Republic of Ghana

0
Read More
Transatlantic strides and the French role: Disentanglement from her former colonies
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tangwe Abraham*

French President Macron with African leaders

French President Macron with African leaders

The transatlantic synergy of nation remains a formidable force in international relations and adhering nations operate on the basis of mutual respect, trust, intercultural cohesion and standing for all in case of any nuance. Such a drive can be torpedoed by greed and the lack of respect for anyone in the setup. Apparently, the French role in the transatlantic organigram completely negates the tenets of togetherness and puts it role into jeopardy and unreliability. The simple reason for France shooting itself in the leg stems from the fact that France has refused to disentangle itself from its former colonies in Africa more than fifty years after independence. This has completely diminish the realism of these former colonies vis-à-vis other nations of the world.

Such actions by France negates the relevance of the charter of the European Economic Community (EEC) at inception in 1957. In its preamble, it stated inter-alia that the creation of the EEC was “intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and overseas countries, and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations which advocates and uphold the sovereign equality of all nation-states. The spirit and letter of this dictum has been flouted by France with impunity. This is buttress by section 1, (3 c) of the charter of the EEC which argues that “the establishment of a common customs tariff and a common commercial policy towards third countries” definitely must hold sway. This guides us in the following question;

Has France been fair in its relations with the 14 Countries that constitutes its former colonies in Africa?

 

France has been a pain in the ass of its former colonies and the leaders and denizens of these countries have grudgingly endure such degradation and revolting relationships that is completely unfathomable. France conceded to African demands for independence in the 1960s but carefully organized its former colonies in a system of “compulsory solidarity” which consisted of obliging the 14 African states to put 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French treasury, plus another 20% for financial liabilities. This means these 14 African countries only ever have access to 15% of their own money! If they need more they have to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates! And this has been the case since the 1960s. They remain the chasse gardée of France ( Bradley, 2013).

France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries can get better prices elsewhere, they cannot sell to anybody until France says it does not need the resources. In the award of government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these countries look elsewhere. It does not matter if the CFA countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere (ibid).

Amazingly, the final say on the C.F.A arrangements belongs to the French Treasury, which invests the African countries’ money in its own name on the Paris Bourse or the stock exchange. (Jabbar, 2013). Worst of all, it has spearheaded instability in all its former colonies especially when the leaders of such nations appear to slip off their fingers. Gbagbo of Cote D’Ivoire had to be arraigned before the ICC for preferring China over France over the construction of a major bridge and Prof. Pascal Lissouba of Congo had to be booted out for opting for the USA over France for the tapping of petroleum products.

Hence, France actions within the confines of the transatlantic alliance is fraught with greed, double standards and backstabbing and no matter how it struggles to break even in such circumstances, its former colonies are viewing France with complete mistrust and hate. This explains why any action led by France in this alliance is met with scorn and sure to fall flat like a pack of cards. It should mend the fences, hands off completely on its former colonies and build its economy in a disinterested and responsible posture.

*Tangwe is a Ph.D. student at the University of Bamberg in Germany

 

 

0
Read More
Restructuring Nigeria: propositions summarised
April 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

The aim here is to summarise my current position on the question of geopolitical restructuring of Nigeria. I say “current” because as far as I can remember, I started thinking seriously—and then debating and writing—about restructuring from 1986 as a member of the Political Bureau. Today, 32 years later, I am still thinking and writing on the subject. The present piece is implicitly a draft memo on this important political subject to the Nigerian Left. And, for the avoidance of doubt, the category “Nigerian Left” means the aggregate of socialism and popular democracy in Nigeria today.

What I consider my current aggregate position on restructuring of Nigeria is constituted by several propositions articulated and refined over a fairly long period of time. For the purpose of this piece the propositions can be grouped under the following five broad headings: The impossibility of purely ethnic separation; Redeployment and redistribution of national resources; Levels of exercise of power and responsibility; Principles of triple balancing; and Popular- democratic restructuring at a glance. The propositions are not of the same status. Some of them are issues which the Nigerian Left should struggle to have inserted in the Constitution of Nigeria and others are those that the Left should insert in its programmes, manifestoes and occasional platforms. I shall now take the groups of propositions one after the other.

A little over 20 years ago, on December 3, 1997, when General Sani Abacha was still in power, I attended and contributed to a seminar organized in Calabar by the Cross River State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). The seminar was one of NUJ’s contributions to Abacha’s transition programme after the collapse of Babangida’s experiment. I was asked to speak on the theme “The ethnicity syndrome: How it affects the development of Cross River State”. In the preamble to my contribution I said: “If a 100kg bag of beans and a 100kg bag of rice are mixed, it will be possible, with patience and perseverance, for a school boy or school girl to separate the grains”. I then went on to say that it would be easier for that unfortunate young person to perform the feat than for any political authority or forces to separate Nigeria into pure ethnic components!

Two years later, on November 4, 1999, my piece, Impossibility of (pure) ethnic separation appeared in my column in The Guardian. The article was essentially a review of the late Chief Anthony Enahoro’s proposition on restructuring the federation. But simultaneously the article appeared as a re-statement of my December 3, 1997 proposition. I shall in future return to Chief Enahoro and, in doing so, touch on the coincidence of my position and his on some aspects of geopolitical restructuring. This coincidence led to a series of private meetings between the late nationalist, democrat and federalist and myself in Lagos and Benin between 1992 and 2002.

Mind you, I am not saying that Nigeria cannot disintegrate. Of course, the country can disintegrate if it pushes itself or is allowed to be pushed beyond certain limits by those who have the means and the power. Nigeria can disintegrate in a manner worse than that of the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, the former Czechoslovakia, the Greater Ethiopia (before Eritrea broke off), the Greater Somalia (before the current catastrophe), and Yemen, a bleeding country which has seen separation and unification several times. All I am saying is that if Nigeria disintegrates—as it can disintegrate if the Nigerian Left does not step in—it will not be along ethnic lines.

If Nigeria disintegrates the more powerful war juntas will simply carve up the country—with each component reproducing Nigeria, that is, recreating majorities and minorities, the dominating and the dominated. Please, set up a large map of Nigeria on the wall. First, demarcate and indicate the present 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory; then, in a different colour, demarcate and indicate the present six geopolitical zones; finally, in another colour, demarcate and indicate Nigeria’s ethnic groups. The only requirement I seek from you is elementary knowledge of your own country’s history and politics plus intellectual honesty—including the honesty to seek honest assistance wherever you are stuck or confused. Compatriots, what do you have before you?

The second cluster of propositions relates to class-to-class redeployment and redistribution of national resources or, simply, the restructuring of class appropriations. By this I mean the massive movement of resources from the ruling classes and blocs to the popular masses through people-oriented radical reforms in employment, education, health, housing, transportation, taxation and levies, etc. Class appropriations, by the way, include not only the monies, properties and businesses recovered from “looters” but also proceeds of state and class robberies which may have been covered by obnoxious legalities. The class-to-class redeployment is the sociological and logical complement of horizontal, state-to-state distribution which—as it is now—is essentially a distribution within the ruling classes and blocs and their various segments.

The third cluster is the principle of triple balancing in Nigeria’s geopolitical restructuring. The picture is like this: split each of the South-south and North-central geopolitical zones into two. This raises the number of geopolitical zones from six to eight. Now, go to Nigeria’s pre-independence geopolitical structure: the three regions—West (plus Lagos), East and North—where the first two regions (plus Lagos) were also regarded as the South. With the new eight-zone structure, the former North and the former South will have four zones each; the former East and former West (plus Lagos) will have two zones each; the South-south and North-central will, together, have four zones while the “big” groups—the Southwest, the Southeast, the Northeast and the Northwest—will together have four zones. So, the North balances the South; the East balances the West; and the historical “Minorities” balances the historical “Majorities”.

The fourth cluster of propositions relates to the levels of responsibility and exercise of power or, in more familiar language, tiers of government. Here we move from the current three tiers to five tiers of government as follows: federal, zonal (between federal and state), state, local government and community (below the local government). Each zone will be constituted by a number of states while a local government ward will be constituted into one or more communities. At the federal level, the president will be replaced by a presidential council of 8 equal members—a member representing a zone—with rotational headship. The zone may or may not be a “government” as such, but minimally it will be a unit for some strategic appointments and location of some strategic industries, state institutions and infrastructures. The communities will be the domain of direct mass involvement in development, social welfare and security.

So, what will this type of restructuring—which we have called “popular-democratic restructuring”—look like when it has been constructed and set in motion? This question summons the fifth cluster of propositions. The answer here is that the picture is fragmentary and tentative. Only discussions can refine it. But the clear features include: Nigeria will remain a federal republic; the current principles of citizenship, fundamental human rights and principles of state policy will be enhanced; the federal government will give up a substantial fraction of its current appropriation to the states and local governments. The states, in turn, will finance the zones and the local governments will finance the communities. Finally,—and this is the “magic” of popular democracy—the “cost of governance”, both in relative and absolute terms, will be much less than what it is at present.

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

 

 

0
Read More
OP-ED: DO AFRICAN WOMEN EVEN DO POLITICS?
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nanjala Nyabola*

On 21 March 2018, 44 African leaders made history in Kigali, Rwanda, when they signed up for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The agreement will create one of the world’s largest free trade areas – a single market for goods and services for a population of over 1.2 million people – if all AU members eventually sign and ratify it. The AfCTA is in line with the broader goals of the AU reforms initiative, which intends to move away from the current situation of multiple, almost competing economic blocs to a single pan-African unit that facilitates the free movement of goods and services across the continent. The AfCTA is a milestone achievement that could change the economic trajectory of the continent.

A celebratory photograph of the various leaders who gathered in Kigali was rapidly shared across various media platforms to commemorate the singularity of events. Yet, anyone paying attention quickly noticed one thing about the photograph: there were no women.

Can the AU reforms process create room for women in the highest levels of political leadership on the continent? The final round of negotiations for the AfCFTA, unfortunately, coincided with the resignation of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of Mauritius. There are now no female heads of state on the continent. Before Gurib-Fakim, we had Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia, Joyce Banda in Malawi and Catherine Samba-Panza in the Central African Republic. Of the four, only Johnson-Sirleaf completed a full term with both Gurib-Fakim and Banda leaving office under tenuous allegations of fraud and Samba-Panza electing not to run for office after serving as a caretaker president.

If there are any unifying lessons to be learnt from these experiences it is that African women political leaders are often held to higher standards than their male counterparts and that much more work can be done to incorporate women into political governance on the continent.

The subject of equality of women in politics in Africa is complex. In the pre-independence era, there are a number of examples of women rising to the top of their societies, particularly in fraught political moments. These legendary figures include Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba who led the Mbundu people of Angola in resisting the Portuguese; and Somali legend has it that without the wisdom of Areewelo, they would not have survived the terrible Buraan Droughts. There are also more recent heroines. The Aba Women led the first organized protest against British colonization in Nigeria, while Mekatilili wa Mwenza of the Mijikenda and Queen Lozikeyi of the Ndebele led similar resistances in present-day Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively. Together with the unnamed female soldiers who fought in Algeria, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique and other countries, these stories affirm that women have always been part of African politics.

Yet in post-colonial Africa, a patriarchal understanding of the role of women that merely exchanged European patriarchy for an invented African tradition has all but erased the herstories of women’s political leadership. These themes are visible in stark relief in the ongoing mourning for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a leader of the anti-apartheid resistance in South Africa. Madikezela-Mandela was punished for doing exactly the same things that her male counterparts have done throughout the ages. As in other liberation and political movements, she put her safety and her private life at risk in order to confront the injustice of the racist regime. She was tortured, exiled and humiliated by the apartheid regime. And while she certainly participated in violence against a violent government, consider her enemy – the most racist and violent political system on the continent. For her tremendous sacrifices, Madikezela-Mandela was branded a murderer and denied a seat at the table of power in post-apartheid South Africa. Today, South Africa is the most unequal country in the world according to the World Bank, with entrenched poverty directly linked to the “enduring legacy of apartheid”.

Madikezela-Mandela’s experience echoes the experience of women on the continent who form a slight numerical majority of the population but are systematically shut out from high-level politics. Women were at the centre of liberation movements across the continent; not just in supporting roles but also leading political and military organizations. Fanon, Cabral, Sankara, and Lumumba all declared categorically that the liberation of Algeria, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso and the DRC, as well as the continent as a whole, would be incomplete without the liberation of women.

But in post-colonial Africa, vague appeals to an invented patriarchal African tradition conspire to keep women out of politics. African women who believed that participating in liberation movements would eventually lead to their own liberation are disappointed because colonial patriarchy has instead been substituted by post-colonial patriarchy.

Today, the situation facing African women in politics is mixed. Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of women in legislatures in North Africa more than doubled from 7% to 18%, while in sub-Saharan Africa it increased from 15% to 22%. Globally, Rwanda has the highest number of women in parliament at 63.8% and, because of the increasing use of quotas, women make up more than 30% of the legislature in most countries in East and Southern Africa. And as mentioned, four countries have put women in the top seat, more than Europe or North America combined.

Nonetheless, there have also been significant losses, particularly where women aim for the presidency. In Southern Africa, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma put up a strong fight for the South African presidency, but despite her individual accomplishments, she was unable to shake the perception that she was her ex-husband’s protégé at a time when many voters wanted a change. Outside South Africa and Malawi, no woman has run for president in the Southern Africa region.

In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, Remi Sonaiya was the first female candidate, and despite a remarkable campaign, she could not break the unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” on religion and ethnic background that shape political viability in the country. In Kenya, Uganda and Somalia, women who have challenged men for the presidency have faced violence and character assassination. In Rwanda, Diane Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire, two women who have challenged President Kagame for the presidency, are currently in prison.

In keeping with the AU’s position that women’s rights are part of a broader discourse on human rights, the ongoing AU reforms process does not explicitly provide for the increased inclusion of women in the organization. Currently, the AU framework on gender is informed by global standards that include instruments like the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Union also considers women’s rights to be an integral part of its human rights mechanisms, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Former AU Chairperson Dr. Dlamini-Zuma – the first woman to hold the seat – did make women’s participation a centrepiece of her leadership, and pushed for more women to be appointed to the secretariat.

The reforms process can be an opportunity to get more women into political leadership in Africa. This begins by grounding itself in the long running African feminist tradition of recognizing work that is already being done. A friend once told me something that profoundly altered my own perspective on feminism, “African women have never been stay at home mothers”. The challenge of women’s political agency is qualitatively different from those facing women in the West. The histories of Nzinga, Areweelo, Mekatilili, Lozikeyi and Madikezela-Mandela remind us that African women’s efforts have always been integral to politics on the continent, but that we are dealing with a process of systematic erasure.

For an example of the work women on the continent are already doing to make the goals of the process work, look at the thousands of female traders who cross Goma into Gisenyi to trade every day; they are living proof of what free trade and free movement of goods could look like. Study the chama systems of Kenya as a baseline for what financial sustainability at the continental level could be. Recognize women’s groups in churches and mosques across the continent that demonstrate what inclusive and inter-ethnic political leadership can achieve.

African women are present, political and ready for work. It’s time the leadership took note.

*Courtesy of Tana Forum.Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow her on Twitter @nanjala1.

0
Read More
Notes on Leftist politics in Nigeria
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

Recently, a young man who teaches English at Abia State University phoned to inform me of an impending conference on the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx. But what the call provoked in me was not the remembrance of Marx and his enduring legacy but anger over the fact that some people still regularly irritate me with chants of “death of communism” and “disappearance of socialism”.

However, my voiced response was to play the “teacher on teacher” by calmly asking my telephone friend whether he meant the birth of Karl Marx or his death. He also calmly replied that Marx was born on May 5,1818. “Hence, May 5, 2018 makes it 200 years”, he said. I played on by pleading that I thought that May 5 was the date of Marx’s death. He again calmly responded that Marx died on March 14, 1883. I thanked him and pledged to assist in the bicentenary in whatever manner I could.

For a considerable length of time after my telephone chat with the university teacher, my mind remained with the subject: Karl Marx and his legacy, or more specifically, Marx’s political legacy. From political legacy—which is a very large subject—my mind zeroed on Marxist politics. And in Marxist politics, my mind selected and focused on Marxist political strategy and vanguardism. Hence, if I were to contribute to ideas informing the planning of Marx’s bicentenary conference I would advise the organizers to begin from Marx in historical context.

From there, move on to Marx’s total legacy; then proceed to Marx political legacy, Marxist politics and Marx’s political strategy and vanguardism. Finally, it is necessary to place a theme like “The relevance of Karl Marx today” in the agenda of the conference. This is not because it is logically expected but because the current calamities, monstrosities and historical retreats in Nigeria—of which we are all living witnesses—clearly appear to summon Leftists of Marxist persuasion as well as patriots of popular-democratic credentials.

Karl Marx was born in Germany. He had his primary and secondary education in his home town, Trier. For his university education he went to Bonn and Berlin, both in Germany. He studied law, history and philosophy, obtaining his doctorate in philosophy at the age of 23. His doctoral dissertation is usually taken by academics as the beginning of his work. But I find his letters to his parents, before this, as very indicative.

Marx died a poor man on March 14, 1883, at the age of 65. He died in London where he had settled 35 years earlier. So much was the official prejudice against this man that, according to Isaiah Berlin, one of his biographers, his death was treated almost as a non-event by the European press. Although Marx died in London, The Times of London reported the event as a short obituary notice, quoting its Paris correspondent.

At his graveside Engels, Marx’s life-long friend and collaborator, said: “Karl Marx’s mission in life was to contribute in one way or another to the overthrow of capitalist society. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success which few could rival. His name will endure for ages, so will his work”.

On Sunday, October 10, 1999, my essay, Marx as thinker of the millennium, was published by The Guardian newspaper. A week earlier, according to the newspaper, he had been voted the greatest thinker of the millennium in a BBC news on-line poll.

Marx was reported to have beaten several great thinkers, including Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Aquinas, Stephen Hawking, Emmanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, James Clark Maxwell and Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the second paragraph of that essay, I proposed: “I would say humbly but responsibly that Karl Marx deserves to be named not only the greatest thinker of the millennium but also the greatest thinker humanity has so far produced among mortals. Even if he had been killed in 1848, at the age of 30, after the publication of his and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, he would still have emerged the greatest thinker since antiquity”. Today, I re-endorse this 19-year-old assessment.

Activist Leftists who are inspired by ideas whose origins are attributed to Karl Marx conceive politics in two senses: the broad and the narrow, or the general and the restricted. In the broad or general sense politics refers to the “totality of all guiding principles, methods, systems that determine collective activities in all domains of public life”. But in the narrow or restricted sense politics is used to designate a “definite part of public activity directly concerned with the struggle for power”.

From this understanding follows the definition of Leftist politics and Conservative politics. Leftist politics is broad while Conservative politics is narrow. You may see this difference clearly in the character, programmes and methods of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) organized and led by Leftists and in the careers of Leftist teachers, lawyers, writers, journalists and priests, for example. Whereas, Leftists actively recognize the relationship between the broad and narrow dimensions of politics as that between water and fish, conservatives recognize only the narrow dimension and play politics like fish trying to swim on dry land.

Leftist politics is broad because it is aimed at the total transformation of society and not just the capture of political power. Its ultimate objective is the liberation of society—the oppressed as well as the oppressor. Leftist politics is broad because liberation—from exploitation, oppression and humiliation—which is its mission is essentially self-liberation. And this demands popular education for critical consciousness. Leftist politics is conscious of itself as the movement of victims of injustice: “not a particular injustice or a set of injustices, but injustice in general”, as Marx put it as a young man. All these attributes inform the methods of Leftist politics.

In Leftist politics, vanguards may be recognised and described by three main attributes. One: In the struggles of the working, toiling and oppressed masses of all nationalities and all regional, ethnic and religious groups, vanguards point out and bring out the common interest. Two: In the various stages of development which the struggle of the masses has to pass through vanguards always and everywhere represent the historical continuity. Three: Vanguards are very resolute segments that seek to defend, unite, invigorate and push forward all other segments. They care passionately for the present; but in caring for the present, they do not forget the future of the struggle.

The following eight components of the strategy of Nigeria’s Leftist vanguard can be distilled from Leftist politics as a whole: One: Strengthening the vanguard and its capacity to ensure minimum continuity of popular-democratic struggles across the country at all times and in all conditions. Two: Expanding alliances, collaboration and networking in the national movement for popular democracy. Three: Expanding popular-democratic and socialist education among the toiling and working masses and all strata and segments that suffer specific or general oppression under the present social order. Four: Engaging in systematic research, information and documentation and building institutions and centres for this engagement. Five: Expanding fronts of popular-democratic struggle across the country and in all strategic segments of the working, toiling and oppressed masses: women, workers, peasants, students and youths, the intelligentsia and intellectuals and strata of middle classes. Six: Uniting organisations of popular-democratic struggle across the country. Seven: Supporting and learning from popular-democratic struggles in Nigeria, in Africa, in black diaspora and in the world. Eight: Struggling for political power—alone or in alliance—as a realizable political objective.

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

 

0
Read More
Tillerson didn’t do much for Africa. Pompeo could well be worse
March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

An enhanced America First security-first approach under Pompeo will not be good for Africa.

BY JOHNNIE CARSON*

Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon says Johnnie Carson

Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon says Johnnie Carson

When it comes to Africa, don’t expect much from the changes taking place at the US State Department. The White House is not interested in Africa.

The Trump Administration has not made Africa a priority and the White House has failed to set out a comprehensive strategy or introduce any new policy initiatives regarding the continent.

The appointment of CIA Director Michael Pompeo to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not lead to an uptick in interest or engagement.

If anything, this change will reinforce America’s focus on security and counter-terrorism. This emphasis could end up taking US policy further backwards. It could align the US with increasingly corrupt and autocratic governments. It could ensnare Washington in longstanding conflicts that cannot be won by military means alone. And it could undercut US influence and integrity more broadly on the continent.

The abrupt dismissal of Tillerson following his abridged five-nation trip to Africa is not good news. Although his ouster had nothing to do with the continent, he was probably the only cabinet official with any interest or prior experience in Africa. His departure underscores the senior level policy void. Even now, key Africa posts in the State Department remain unfilled, including that of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Pompeo’s nomination to replace Tillerson is probably bad news for those who want to see the US energise its engagement and lay out a comprehensive set of policies and programmes regarding Africa’s economic, social, health and trade challenges. It is probably good news for all those who believe America’s priority in Africa should be to expand security alliances to combat threats in Somalia, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.

Mike Pompeo has been named as Rex Tillerson’s successor as US Secretary of State. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Mike Pompeo has been named as Rex Tillerson’s successor as US Secretary of State. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

A West Point graduate and hawkish conservative, Pompeo’s limited comments about Africa have focused on Libya and counter terrorism. As a member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, he was strongly critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

On security issues across the continent, Pompeo has said “there’s a big counter-terrorism threat there” and claimed the US can do more. Although he has supported food aid for countries in need, his first priority is likely to be bolstering security collaboration with states participating in the African Union’s military operations in Somalia as well as countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad region fighting Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

If Pompeo pursues this security first agenda, he will continue a short-sighted approach that devalues many of America’s programmes that prioritise economic development, good governance and rule of law. The emphasis on security will give the appearance of militarising the US’ role in Africa. It will diminish America’s influence and create a larger political, economic and development void for other countries to fill. Armed conflict and counter-terrorism are not at the top of the agenda for most of the 49 states in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pompeo’s strong support for Trump’s “America First” approach does not auger well for Africa either. The US president’s global agenda runs counter to many of the bipartisan policies and programmes that have anchored American policy in Africa for the past 25 years.

Although the administration professes to support many of the policies put in place by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, its actions often move in a different direction.

The administration’s proposed 30% cut to USAID’s budget, for example, will have a heavy and disproportionate impact on activities in Africa. Its draconian re-imposition of the Mexico City rule, which bars US funding to groups that provide information on family planning, stops money going to many organisations and programmes that provide anti-retroviral treatments under PEPFAR, President Bush’s widely praised HIV/AIDS prevention programme. Meanwhile, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement will end its $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate (Change) Fund, a move that will particularly hurt Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change.

The administration’s spending decisions have already reduced the size of the Young African Leaders Initiative, spending on democracy and governance efforts, and programmes that support expanded trade and commercial activities. The Trump administration’s actions are already having a negative impact across the continent.

The appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs might be able to stabilise the US’ Africa policies, slow down some of the more negative decisions being made, and begin to put into place a more comprehensive and forward-looking framework. However, Pompeo’s Senate confirmation will probably slow down the appointment of a new Africa Secretary as well as the appointment of new ambassadors for critical posts in the likes of South Africa, Tanzania and Somalia.

(L-R) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, US President Donald Trump, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pose following a family photo of G7 leaders with African leaders after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily.  / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST        (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images)

(L-R) Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, US President Donald Trump, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pose following a family photo of G7 leaders with African leaders after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily.
/ AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images)

It was widely rumoured that a respected former diplomat, Tibor Nagy, would be nominated shortly for the top Africa position in the State Department. But that nomination will probably not move forward in advance of Pompeo’s confirmation. Those hearings are not scheduled until early-April and the process could drag on for several months.

Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon. As Africa policy languishes and important bipartisan programmes wither, the administration will probably at some point dispatch Pompeo to the continent to talk up the American security agenda. Perhaps even presidential adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump will be sent as a token reflection of White House interest, but these visits would only be putting a glossy face on what is pretty gloomy policy.

*Culled From African Arguments.Johnnie Carson was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the first Obama Administration and is a former US Ambassador to Kenya. He is currently a Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace.

 

0
Read More
The Kigali AU Summit: Nigeria’s Diplomatic Blunder
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Reuben Abati*

Dr. Reuben Abati

Dr. Reuben Abati

President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12th hour decision to snub the African Union Extra-ordinary summit on the endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), in Kigali, March 20 – 22 is a diplomatic blunder. The excuse that has been offered is not convincing, the management of the entire episode is untidy. Simple courtesies matter in diplomacy, unpredictability, surprise and ambush may be good tactics on the battlefield but they could be costly in the much finer arena of diplomacy. I want to assume that President Buhari was misadvised. Standards have fallen generally in our foreign policy management process, and they have done so much more rapidly in the last three years, for both seen and unseen reasons, but I did not imagine that we could descend this low as to begin to play pranks with some of the major planks of Nigeria’s foreign policy framework. President Buhari should have been in Kigali on March 21 to sign the AfCFTA document and participate in the deliberations.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is probably the most historic, epoch-making development since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union (AU) in 2002. It is also probably the biggest trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and a concrete, provable culmination of the goals of African Renaissance and Afro-optimism. It should be noted that Nigeria was part of this process from the very beginning. In 1981, Nigeria was the host of an economic summit organized by the OAU, the very first of such summits. It took place in Lagos under the Shagari government. The outcome was the Lagos Plan of Action on African economic development. In the 90s, at least three African leaders were in the forefront of what became known as the African Renaissance – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Libya’s Muammar Ghadaffi – using the platform of the OAU/AU, and the co-operation and support of both the African and Western intelligentsia.

African Renaissance is about rebirth and the transformation of Africa. It is also about integration at various levels: security, peace, stability, development and co-operation as captured in the Kampala Document of 1991. There was indeed so much talk at the time about Africa, being the “last frontier” that needed to be developed. This vision of a transformed Africa resulted in the introduction of policy actions and structures including the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the New Africa Initiative (NAI), the Abuja Treaty (1991) and the idea of an African Economic Community (AEC). Much of this may have been inspired by developments in this direction in the West – the European Union for example, and the Washington Consensus, but it was all within the context of developing Africa’s capacity to compete, integrate, co-operate and advance into the future. The AfCFTA is a product of that process and probably the most important harvest.

African Heads of Government agreed to it in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015. It is a trade liberalization policy to remove barriers that have hitherto hindered intra-African trade. Those barriers made Africa majorly a collection of closed communities, trading with Europe, Asia and the United States, and doing little trading among themselves. Under the AfCFTA, African leaders seek to increase intra-African trade from 14% to 52% by 2022. Its main features include the removal of tariffs on goods (up to 90%), reduction of delays at borders, liberalization of services, job creation and the expansion of opportunities available to the people. At first flush, there is no doubt that the AfCFTA could lead to the eventual realization of the AU Agenda 2063 – “the African we want”- a 12-flagship-projects programme, which includes a Single African Air Transport Market, free movement of people and a common currency.

Nigeria was actively involved in all these negotiations leading to the preparation of an enabling legal framework for continental free trade; such was the level of our commitment that the country in fact lobbied to have the AfCFTA secretariat situated in Abuja. So, at what point did Nigeria transform from being conveners to boycotters of this strategic initiative? It will be recalled that on March 14, the AfCFTA framework was reportedly presented for consideration at the Federal Executive Council and it was endorsed. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment later addressed the State House Press Corps to announce Nigeria’s enthusiasm and commitment to the AfCFTA. By Friday, the country’s delegation to the AU Extra-ordinary Summit on the AfCFTA was already on its way to Kigali, and this included the President’s advance team. The State House even issued a statement announcing the President’s trip to Kigali. Then all of a sudden, on Sunday, March 18, the country was informed that the President’s trip to Kigali had been cancelled “to allow time for broader consultations” – with stakeholders who had objected to Nigeria signing the AfCFTA document.

There is something untidy here. The Federal Executive Council, or the Executive Council of the Federation as it is known to the Constitution, is the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government. At what point did it meet to reverse the decision it had taken on the AfCFTA on Wednesday, March 14? When did the stakeholders make their positions known to government and what was the manner of communication, to command an express, weekend cancellation of a planned Presidential trip that had already been announced and initiated? And at what point were the objections considered? Was there even any input from the relevant Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Budget and National Planning, and Industry, Trade and Investment?

The identity of the complainants was soon revealed; members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), particularly the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who claimed that Nigeria would be overwhelmed by business from outside under AfCFTA; Nigerian airline operators, the same owners of those flying coffins whose doors disengage on impact, whose tyres are so worn-out they sometimes can’t land on the tarmac, yes, they too claim Nigeria should not sign up to any open skies agreement, and then of course the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) whose leaders reportedly dismissed the AfCFTA as “a renewed extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal policy initiative.” It is common practice for certain stakeholders to object to ideas and policies. The controversy over WTO agreements and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a famous example. In Africa, also, there were objections to NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism by some African leaders. But one point is that the AU is not only for governments, it is also a platform for African business stakeholders, NGOs, and the civil society in general. Nigeria’s OPS, MAN and NLC did not have to wait till the last minute. They have had more than 3 years to engage the Nigerian government. And could it in fact be that the Nigerian Government never bothered to consult these stakeholders?

Nonetheless, their objections do not provide enough reason for a Nigerian boycott of the AU extra-ordinary summit in Kigali. Instead, they provide a justification for Nigeria’s presence. Nigeria’s absence is an assault on the integrity of its fundamental foreign policy objectives. Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy process, beginning with our immediate neighbours in the West African sub-region. For this reason, Nigeria has always been in the forefront of major events, conversations and developments in the continent. Our absence at such a landmark event as the Kigali summit is an abdication of leadership and responsibility. Other African countries may for a season, no longer trust Nigeria: to commit to a process so robustly, only to chicken out at the last minute on account of blackmail by recovering socialists, protectionists and anti-trade lobbyists – that is not the way of Nigerian diplomacy or international best practice.

I assume that the boycott is based on the wrong presumption that the AfCFTA takes immediate effect and it is binding immediately it is launched and signed by Heads of Government. Where are the Africa experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA)? Is anyone still consulting them or they just now go to the office to drink tea? What is signed at the Kigali Summit is the Legal Framework for the Trade agreement. The number of countries that would ratify the agreement to kick it into effect as at the time of this writing has not even been determined: 15, 22, 37 or a figure in-between or more. After signing up to it, each country will further ratify the agreement by way of domestication, and there is room for further negotiations, which could still go on for years, over matters that may be considered “sensitive.” Some of these “sensitive” issues have already been identified including the establishment of dispute resolution mechanisms, the prevention of dumping, intellectual property and copyright issues, rules-based considerations with regard to removal of tariffs, anti-trust considerations and the protection of countries with little or no production capabilities, to mitigate the effect of uneven benefits, and to ensure fairness, justice and protection of human rights.

South Africa, for example, has raised concerns about the proposed free movement of persons, but the South African President has not boycotted the Summit, instead he says he has “his pen on the ready.” He has signed the Kigali declaration. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is not attending the Summit but he has sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs to represent him and he issued a statement expressing commitment to the Trade agreement. Uganda has since signed. Tanzania says the Tanzania parliament will debate the agreement, but meanwhile, Tanzania has signed. So far, here is the final tally as at close of business on March 21: AfCFTA – 44 countries, Kigali Declaration – 43 countries; Protocol on Free Movement of People – 27 countries. Nigeria’s absence is definitely an embarrassing boycott. Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs may be in Kigali but he and his team have no mandate to engage in any negotiations, our President, the country’s chief diplomat, having said he needs more time for “broader consultations.” This so-called consultation is precisely what the Kigali summit is all about. Nigeria or any of the other 54 countries does not have any veto power over AU decisions. The rest of Africa can choose to go ahead on this matter without Nigeria and if that happens, we would still not be in a position to stop the globalization and liberalization process or sabotage “Africa’s Common Position”.

The irony that is lost on Abuja is that in fact Nigeria needs the AfCFTA more than any other African country. Nigeria has the largest market and population. The country and its people stand to benefit more especially at the level of services and SMEs. There are more Nigerians than any other group of Africans trading across the continent- in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Sao Tome, Equitorial Guinea – our people are everywhere. Out of about the 300 shops or so in Sao Tome’s main market, about 200 of those shops are owned by Nigerians. The spare parts business in Angola is in the hands of Nigerians. Nigerian technocrats and businessmen dominate the services sector in The Gambia. There are over one million Nigerians doing business in Cote d’Ivoire. There are Nigerian banks and insurance companies across Africa, even as far as Kigali. The Dangote group has factories in 14 African countries.

In all of these places, the Nigerian trader or businessman is not particularly well-liked. He is subjected to high tariffs, his shops are raided, and as is the case in South Africa, Nigerians are attacked for making more money and for attracting local girls. A Continental Free Trade Agreement could put an end to this. It will also make it possible for airlines like Ethiopian airline or Rwandair or Kenyan Airways to operate domestic flights inside Nigeria, and perhaps make it possible for Africans to travel directly within the continent instead of a Nigerian having to travel first to Europe before accessing countries like Sao Tome and Equitorial Guinea which are less than 30 minutes away from the Nigerian coastline. Many Nigerians would rather choose efficiency over the opposite. The gain would be the creation of more jobs and opportunities. The competition that will result will compel Nigerian businesses to raise the level of their game. The AfCFTA will not kill Nigerian businesses as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria ignorantly claims. A more inclusive Africa is the pathway to a transformed Africa. Nigeria gives aid to many African countries, for which it gets little in return; under an AfCFTA dispensation, Nigeria can give those aid-dependent countries, trade not aid.

Nigeria must be greatly missed at the Kigali AU Summit. From the pictures that I have seen, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the most prominent Nigerian on ground at that historic event but even he is not in a position to do any damage control; he is there in his own right as a global statesman and as one of the founding fathers of the AfCFTA initiative. Beyond all the country and issues-related arguments above, let me add this: President Muhammadu Buhari has a personal reason to be in Kigali. At the AU summit in Addis Ababa in January, he was honoured by the AU Commission as a champion of the anti-corruption campaign in Africa. It is worth stating that the AU battle cry for 2018 is actually this: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Africa is discussing an integrity framework for the continent’s transformation in Kigali, and the AU’s honoured and recognized integrity champion is back home in Abuja, having “broader consultations”! Enough said.

*Culled from Elombah.com

0
Read More
Between history and current demands in Nigeria
March 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

One of the propositions of Leftists’ theory of history is that human beings are the makers of their own history. A corollary to this – that human beings do not make this history simply as they wish, but that they make it with materials and circumstances fashioned and transmitted by and from the past – is as important as the main thesis.

This composite proposition has remained a pillar of Leftists’ political and social action. And it is one of the propositions which Leftists bring to the workers’ movement, revolutionary groups and, indeed, all movements that genuinely wish to change the world or segments of it for the benefit of the exploited, the dominated, the enslaved, the deceived, the humiliated and the abandoned.

An injunction that issues from this proposition is that those who fight for justice, freedom or equality should not lie, should not falsify history – however strong the temptation to do so may be. This is not simply a moral injunction. It is a political and ideological injunction because – as history itself has demonstrated over and over again – falsification of history ultimately weakens the falsifiers’ cause.

In late 1990, as a full-time member of the Editorial Board of The Guardian, I wrote a 10-part column titled A refutation of official history. The present article is offered both in anticipation of the appearance of an updated edition of that essay and as a commentary on the current wave of “politics-inspired” re-interpretations of our country’s history.

From about 1990 to 2005 there was an intense national media debate on a subject variously called “the national question”, “the ethnic question” or “the ethnic nationality question”. The first alternative name is considered the orthodox variant. Nigerian Leftists not only raised the intellectual level of this debate but also made it wider and more political by introducing the concept of Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and demanding for it. I took part in that debate both as a socialist and as a member of the Editorial Board of The Guardian.

Among the sharpest and most passionate contributors to this unstructured national dialogue from the Left were Comrade (Professor) G. G. Darah and the late Comrade (Dr) Bala Usman. But they entered the “National Question” and “Sovereign National Conference” debates from diametrically opposite ideological and political directions. The debate however never degenerated to personal abuses and never employed “ad hominem” arguments.

The National Question and Sovereign National Conference debates did not come to a close. Rather, it went into a lull. It remained that way until a couple of years ago. But when the debate resumed it did so as something entirely different: it had ceased to be informed by verifiable historical facts and true sequences of events; perspectives and methods could no longer be apprehended or characterized; the language had become simply horrible and the social media – unavailable to the last generation – had become the main platform for the debate – or rather, the abuse.

The concrete issues around which the “national question” debate or abuse is currently being fought may be grouped into three: One is the question of “restructuring” or “geopolitical restructuring” of the country. Positions being canvassed on this question include the retention of the present structure; “strong” restructuring; “weak” restructuring (if we may borrow the language of the current Brexit debate in Europe); and the right of any of the present six geopolitical zones to secede from the federation. The second issue is national political re-alignment (combinations and dissociations) in preparation for the 2019 general elections. The third issue is the current widespread destructions and killings which have been officially classified as herdsmen – farmers clashes.

We note, sadly, that there is no issue or sub-issue on the list of issues articulated above which we can say had been inspired by the Left or the popular-democratic movement either in its own name or in the name of the masses of Nigeria. Of course, all the issues affect the masses and their resolutions – one way or another – will, as usual, carry grave consequences for the masses.

It is, however, not the aim of this piece to squeeze into this small space explicitly Left demands such as popular-democratic restructuring and the massive re-deployment of the nation’s resources in favour of the masses as articulated in my previous article, Further notes on people’s manifesto. Rather, I wish to use the space that is left here to draw the attention of debaters to some elementary facts on the origins of, and political developments in, Nigeria up to the civil war. These are verifiable simple facts which you must respect if you intend to use your arguments and positions to persuade living human beings.

Fact One: In 1977, Professor Obaro Ikime, one of the earliest and most accomplished Nigerian historians, offered an important book on Nigerian history to scholars and non-scholars alike. The book is titled The Fall of Nigeria: The British conquest. It is divided into two parts. The second part, Episodes from the British Conquest of Nigeria, tells the stories of the British military defeat and occupation of 12 selected Nigerian communities: Lagos, Calabar, Oyo, Ilorin, Brass, Benin, Aro, Tiv, Borno, Zaria, Kano and Sokoto. If you put up a current map of Nigeria, you will see the spread of just some of the areas where military battles were fought between the British colonialists and the native populations between 1885 and 1914. Ikime studied these battles.

My proposition here is: By 1914 all the present 36 state capitals and the federal capital territory had British military presence – by conquest. Put differently: The colonialists decisively won each of the battles listed in the preceding paragraph and several others not listed, put the conquered territories together and forged a country they called Nigeria.

When our ancestors rose to resume the struggle, they rose not as individual communities, but as Nigerians fighting for the independence of Nigeria. And they won independence not as members of previously defeated autonomous communities, but as citizens of Nigeria. This point was made by Bala Usman and conceded by several debaters including myself. But the point, though a powerful one, did not settle and has not settled the question of national unity decades after independence. It has, however, eliminated a large field of arguments.

Fact Two: In 1900, the British proclaimed their ownership of three territories, namely: the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Colony of Lagos. In 1906, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria was merged with the Colony of Lagos. And in 1914, the two protectorates were merged and named the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria with Lagos as capital. In 1936, the protectorate of Southern Nigeria was divided into two groups of provinces – the West and the East. By 1954 Nigeria had become a federation of three regions: North, East and West and the Federal Capital, Lagos. Independence was won for Nigeria on October 1, 1960. And in 1963, the fourth region, Mid-West, was carved out of the West.

Fact Three: On May 30, 1967, the whole of Eastern Region comprising the present southeast geopolitical zone plus the present Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River States was declared the Republic of Biafra. A 30-month war broke out. On January 15, 1970, the 1967 declaration was renounced and the status-quo ante was restored.

These are simple and verifiable historical facts which must be respected by debaters. They neither support nor oppose any of the current demands or opposition to any demand. But a truthful reconstruction of historical experience is a powerful weapon in any struggle for a just future. And that is why Leftists (socialists and radical democrats) invest so much energy in self-education and popular education.

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State.

 

0
Read More
Africa’s Year of Opportunity
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By CAROLINE KENDE-ROBB*

In many corners of the world, 2018 is shaping up to be yet another disappointing year, with inequality and poverty continuing to fuel anger and populism. While Africa will not be entirely immune from such developments, its inhabitants have at least eight good reasons – far more than most people elsewhere – to be optimistic.

GENEVA – We are still near the start of 2018, and already it feels like tension and disorder will be the year’s defining characteristics. From anti-immigration policies in the United States to flaring geopolitical hotspots in the Middle East and East Asia, disruption, upheaval, and uncertainty seem to be the order of the day.

But at least one metric offers reason for cautious optimism: economic growth. The International Monetary Fund estimatesthat global growth will reach 3.7% this year, up from 3.6% in 2017. As Christine Lagarde, the Fund’s managing director, put it in a speech in December, “The sun is shining through the clouds and helping most economies generate the strongest growth since the financial crisis.”

It was fitting that Lagarde made that observation in Addis Ababa, because it is in Africa where the rays of prosperity are shining brightest. In fact, I predict that 2018 will be a breakout year for many – though not all – African economies, owing to gains in eight key areas.

For starters, Africa is poised for a modest, if fragmented, growth recovery. Following three years of weak economic performance, overall growth is expected to accelerate to 3.5% this year, from 2.9% in 2017. This year’s projected gains will come amid improved global conditions, increased oil output, and the easing of drought conditions in the east and south.

To be sure, growth will be uneven. While nearly a third of African economies will grow by around 5%, slowdowns are likely in at least a dozen others. Sharp increases in public debt, which has reached 50% of GDP in nearly half of Sub-Saharan countries, are particularly worrying. But, overall, Africa is positioned for a positive year.

Second, Africa’s political landscape is liberalizing. Some of Africa’s longest-serving presidents – including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos, and the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh – exited in 2017. In South Africa, Jacob Zuma’s resignation allowed Cyril Ramaphosa to become president. In January, Liberians witnessed their country’s first peaceful transfer of power since 1944, when former soccer star George Weah was sworn into office.

*former chief adviser to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, is a senior fellow at the African Center for Economic Transformation. This piece was originally published in Project Syndicate

0
Read More
Why there may be a silver lining to Ali Bongo’s power grab in Gabon
March 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By David E Kiwuwa*

Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, wants to be president for life. Thorston Wagner/EPA

Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, wants to be president for life. Thorston Wagner/EPA

Despite Gabon’s vast oil wealth a third of its citizens live on $1.25 a day or less. In fact, the country is best known for having had one of the longest serving leaders in modern times outside of a monarch.

And now, like a number of other African countries, Gabon is dabbling in controversial constitutional reforms. Recent constitutional changes have marked a consolidation of what the opposition has called a “power grab”. The changes remove presidential term limits, effectively allowing President Ali Bongo Ondimba to rule for life. He has also been empowered to make policy decisions without the input of political stakeholders.

The highly controversial constitutional amendments had minimal public input and were designed to consolidate the power of the executive. This will allow the president to rule without consultation, a kind of untamed presidency. The opposition has pointed to changes that undermine democracy and good governance. This is especially the case because some of these changes require Gabon’s defence and security heads to take an oath of allegiance to the president.

While some compromises have been reached between the government and the opposition, for instance the agreement to reinstate the electoral run-off system that had been replaced with a single round of voting, the overriding impact of the amendments will be to concentrate power in the presidency. This will constrain institutional oversight and consultative governance. It will also limit the role of the opposition in holding the government to account.

The net effect of these changes is to give the president the powers of an absolute monarch. How will Gabon cope with a constitutional autocracy? And what impact will an unconstrained presidency have on the tiny West African nation?

I believe that, in the short run, the changes Ali Bongo has pushed through may stifle opposing voices. But in the long run it is likely to galvanise them to mobilise for his ouster.

Ali Bongo’s uncertain future

In the 1990s popular pressure across Africa paved the way for political and constitutional reforms in Gabon. Its second president, Omar Bongo Ondimba allowed multiparty politics for the first time and the country held its first multiparty elections. His Gabonese Democratic Party went on to win against a weak and divided opposition.

Bongo senior was elected in 1967, ruling for 42 years until his death in 2009. He was a master of politics, creating a pervasive patronage system that was financed by the country’s vast oil reserves. It is Africa’s fifth largest producer.

He co-opted and rewarded a burgeoning political elite which allowed him to stave off coups and civil strife for most of his reign.

His son, Ali Bongo Ondimba was elected in 2009, just four months after the death of his father. He has maintained his father’s stranglehold on the country’s opposition and the country’s democratic development.

However, despite a dominant party system and its legacy of authoritarianism, Bongo junior might not be able to stick to power for as long as his father. The winds of political change are once again blowing through the continent and Gabon’s opposition, led by former Bongo senior ally Jean Ping, is growing in strength.

Ping claims to have won the most recent elections but says that he was cheated of victory by the incumbent.

With 48.23% of the vote in the last elections, against the incumbent’s 49.8%, the opposition registered a relatively good performance. The 6000 votes that separated them don’t bode well for Ali Bongo. He may be in power now but it might not be for long.

In addition, Gabon’s oil revenues are dwindling. This is bad news for a country that is resource dependent. With less petro dollar flowing in the economy, Ali Bongo’s expensive patronage system will suffer and he may start to lose support.
African renaissance

Gambia’s current constitutional changes mirror trends in some African countries where incumbents have tinkered with their constitutions to weaken oversight systems and systematically erode democratic principles.

Some of them, like Burundi, have removed presidential term limits, and others like Uganda, presidential age limits.

In Gabon, the latest constitutional changes will limit the opposition’s ability to hold the executive to account. They will also undermine the previous consultative framework that would have given the opposition some leverage to play a part in governance.

But I believe there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud over Africa’s politics. African autocrats are slowly being eased out. Incumbents might tinker with the rules of the game, and shift goal posts but they cannot escape the inevitable: Change will come. It’s only a matter of when and how.

Just look at Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Angola’s José Eduardo Dos Santos, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, and Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré. The pressure is also rising on the presidents of Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon.

*The Conversation.   is Associate Professor of International Studies, Princeton University.

0
Read More
WHY U.S. COMPANIES NEED TO INCLUDE AFRICA IN THEIR GLOBAL GROWTH STRATEGIES
February 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Grant T. Harris, CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC, makes a compelling case on why U.S. companies need to map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan

By Grant T. Harris*

When it comes to talk of Africa’s economic outlook, do not believe the gloom – or the hype. The “Africa rising” storyline took a big hit when commodity prices crashed, but the truth is, no monolithic narrative could ever accurately capture the continent’s dynamism, challenges, and sheer economic potential.

Nonetheless, there are some clear regional trends that should compel American businesses to ask themselves, “How does Africa factor into my company’s growth strategy?”

Frankly, there is no need for a simplistic soundbite about Africa’s economic potential. The region is a complex and diverse ensemble of markets, opportunities, and political and investment climates which, for many different reasons, are undergoing what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described as “multispeed” growth. For instance, while the commodity-dependent countries are currently less buoyant, four economies in East Africa – Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda – are predicted to see growth above six percent through 2020.

Nevertheless, even as we eschew sweeping generalizations that pretend to lump 54 African countries into one market, there are some region-wide trends that should make businesses sit up and take notice. To get straight to the point: Africa’s long-term economic outlook remains strong, underpinned by a young and growing population that is increasingly urban and technologically savvy. Consumer spending is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, while African economies as a whole are estimated to be valued at $3 trillion by 2030 – by which time half of the population will live in urban areas. Moreover, demographic shifts mean that Africa’s place in the global economy is only likely to grow. By 2034, Africa will have more working-age people than either India or China. With a current median age of just 19.5 years, Africa will make up a quarter of the world’s population by 2050, bringing inevitable social, cultural, and economic impacts.

Of course, there is no denying that African governments have a lot of work to do to improve investment climates at national and regional levels. According to a recent African Development Bank report, “the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130-170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range of $68-108 billion.” In sub-Saharan Africa, roughly two-thirds of people lack access to electricity. And it is not just insufficient infrastructure; the recent commodities crash highlighted several other persistent challenges, particularly the need for resource-rich countries to diversify their economies. Many African governments would be wise to follow the IMF’s advice to enact “policies to enhance macroeconomic stability, improve education outcomes, bolster governance and transparency in regulation, and deepen financial markets.” Importantly, many countries are working hard to realize these changes. According to the World Bank, governments in sub-Saharan Africa carried out a record number of business reforms in 2016 and 2017 – more than any other region.

Above all, it’s time to realize that misconceptions about Africa’s economic potential – that it is too risky, too poor, or simply irrelevant to most businesses – amount to lost opportunities. As when considering any emerging market, investors must to do their homework, not fall victim to oversimplified narratives, and determine how to navigate political and policy risk. Armed with the right information and foresight, investors should map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan. As the region’s demographic and economic trends make clear, Africa can no longer be considered an “optional” component of global growth strategies.

*courtesy of IGD.Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was President Obama’s principal advisor on sub-Saharan Africa in the White House from 2011-2015. Harris Africa Partners LLC is an organizational partner for IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Tour.

 

0
Read More
In Africa, citizen diplomacy fills in where Trump leaves holes
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY K. RIVA LEVINSON*

More than 13 months into the Trump administration, the senior State Department job on Africa remains unfiled, along with appointments for U.S. ambassadors to South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, and other high-profile political posts.

In addition to these diplomatic vacancies, the Trump administration is proposing a 30 percent cut in foreign assistance for the 2019 Fiscal Year budget, on top of recent reductions, which will disproportionately impact the African continent.

These Washington realities, when considered in conjunction with the controversy over the U.S. president’s alleged remarks labeling an entire continent of 54 unique nations as “s—holes,” would appear to paint a pretty bleak picture for America’s future engagements in Africa.

However, traditional diplomacy is being increasingly supplemented by an explosion of citizen-to-citizen contacts, which are creating shared value, good-will and relationships of consequence. This work is more important now than it ever has been, and can be found in unexpected places.

NBA Africa, led by Managing Director Amadou Gallo Fall and the league’s commissionerAdam Silver, have helped to transform the NBA’s footprint in Africa. In doing so, they have become part of the front-line of private sector institutions which celebrate a continent unhampered by inaccurate clichés, and defined by its potential, its people, and its diversity.

Fall, originally from Senegal, came to the U.S. on a basketball scholarship in the late 1980s, graduated with honors, and returned to Senegal to work for the Senegal Basketball Federation. He would later be hired as a scout for the Dallas Mavericks and eventually recruited by the NBA.

Sports through Education and Economic Development in Senegal (SEEDS), which Fall founded upon his return from studying in the U.S., has become embedded into the culture of NBA Africa, and holds that through a love of sport, basketball can be a tool for social, economic and personal development.  The league has taken its commitment to community to heart through the NBA Players Association, and programs like NBA Cares, and Basketball Without Borders.

Fall and Silver lobbied to bring an NBA exhibition game to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2015. Importantly, it would be the first game involving any major North American professional sports league to take place on the continent of Africa.

Team Africa against the World,” as it has become known, is now played annually and this year will be dedicated to the life and legacy of the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, on the centennial of his birth year.

At the NBA Africa luncheon on Saturday, 17 February, on the margins of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles,  Silver explained that, “basketball is witnessing an explosive growth in Africa.” He explained that one of the cardinal objectives of NBA Africa is to grow the game and to see more young players competing at the highest level. Silver predicts more than 100 million Africans will eventually play the game.

“But it’s not just about the sport,” Fall told me in an interview.  “Yes, we celebrate the fact that this year 12 African-born players will be playing for the NBA. But as NBA Africa, we must reach beyond the players.”

Fall believes it is his responsibility to give a greater voice to African innovation, African excellence, and to help reclaim the narrative on Africa.  And last weekend in Los Angeles, just hours before NBA All-Star Saturday Night, that’s exactly what NBA Africa did.

Silver, Fall, African legends and players like Dikembe Motumba and Serge Ibaka assembled — not to talk the sport, but to lead a discussion on youth, development and entrepreneurship.

The luncheon was titled #AfricaNow and featured a panel of African entrepreneurs to showcase the human potential of the continent through the eyes of prominent innovators and changemakers.

Said panelist Richelieu Dennis, founder of Shea Moisture:

“It is our culture and our story. We must own it. We must define it. And it is we who must monetize it.”

On stage, and at the head table sat officers from the World Bank along with private sector players, like Invest Africa.  The African Development Bank noted it would unveil later this month a multi-year program with sport as the foundation for a youth empowerment program.

Perhaps eventually the Trump administration will prioritize diplomatic engagement with Africa, appointing senior officials and propose a budget which better reflects our national security interests. In the meantime, I find inspiration in our citizen diplomats, no matter their excessive height

*Source The Hill.K. Riva Levinson is president and CEO of KRL International LLC,a D.C.-based consultancy that works in the world’s emerging markets, award-winning author of “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President” (Kiwai Media, June 2016). You can follow her on Twitter @rivalevinson.

0
Read More
SK Usman And Footprints Of A Cultured Image Manager
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Angula Jessica
 Those who have had the experience of superintending on the publicity profile of an institution like the Nigerian Army confess it is a herculean task,  especially at times of multifarious local conflicts as currently obtainable in Nigeria. The frequency of incidents and their complexity combine to make the job difficult and stressful.
However, an Army communications guru, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman has travelled on this rough path for years unscathed. He knows the intricacies of Army public relations and plays the game with finesse and a confounding mastery. With him on the desk, the Nigerian Army won the battle against vile terrorism both on the battlefield and in the media.
 War- time German publicist, Josef Goebbels believes that in managing the image of an institution like the Army,  “…. One fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”  Brig, Gen. Usman dramatizes this perfection and deploys it for the maximum benefits of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian people, while he served as the Director, Directorate of Army Public Relations (DAPR).
He played tutelage roles in Army Public Relations in several capacities and when he was finally elevated to the peak, he had no difficulties understanding the dynamics of his briefs. He has impressed everybody, and has disappointed none.
SK Usman fascinates his audience,  as an officer who  preferred to be expository, than combative; persuasive than antagonistic to the clients he is serving.
In him, one sees the portrait of a humble officer, a gentle rise and eventual ascendency to the pinnacle of top players in the media and Public Relations industry in Nigeria.
While in the Army, SK Usman from day-one was posted to the Headquarters 82 Division, Army Public Relations unit, Enugu.  The passion to broaden his knowledge, pushed SK Usman  into  Bayero University, (BUK) Kano where  he obtained  a Bachelor of Arts degree in  Mass Communication in  1991. His brilliant performance in the varsity made him an automatic prince of the Directorate of Army Public Relations (DAPR).
Thereafter, SK Usman went for his officer cadet training at the then Infantry Centre and School (ICS), Jaji and completed in  1993. He was posted to the Headquarters of the Directorate of Army of Public Relations (DAPR), Lagos.
He had barely settled down to business, when he was redeployed to the  Depot, Nigerian Army and Nigerian Military School, Zaria  as Army Public Relations Officer (APRO).  And it marked the beginning of the  years of fruitful journey as Army’s spokesman both in Nigeria and abroad, including serving as the  Military Public Relations Officer (MPIO) at Nigerian Battalion 14 (NIBATT 14) under the  United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and also,  acting as MPIO to Nigerian Contingent/Sector West of that mission among others.
Brig. Gen. Usman went for his Post Graduate Studies in October 2010 and has attended numerous military and civil courses within and outside Nigeria.  These include Basic Arabic Course at the Nigerian Army School of Education (NASE), Ilorin in 1994; the United States of America’s  Department of Defence -organized seminar on “Military Communications with the Public in a Democratic Government” held in  Abuja in 2001 and was feted with an  award  of Certificate of Excellence.
In 2002, he was at the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji for his Junior Staff Course. At  UNAMSIL, he also attended the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Programme on “Peacekeeping and International Conflict Resolution” 2003. He was also at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Accra, Ghana in 2005 for “Media in Peace Operations Course.”
SK Usman also attended Estimate Process/Risk Management seminar held at the Nigerian Army College of Logistics, Lagos in 2006. In August 2010, he also attended the African Business School Johannesburg, South Africa, for a course on “Professionalizing Protocol, Information and Press Duties for Efficient and Effective Administration.”
He was at the  Seminar on “Innovations for International Development: Linking Good Ideas with Good Intensions” at San Jose, Costa Rica in November 2010 as well as the United States of America based Peacekeeping Operations Training Institute (POTI) on ” Global Terrorism”, “Civil-Military Coordination” as well as “Principles and Guidelines for United Nations Peacekeeping.”
A man of boots and letters, SK Usman  obtained a Master of Arts Degree in Media, Peace and Conflicts Studies in 2011, at  the United Nations Mandated University for Peace, San Jose, Costa Rica. And in all these career training sojourns, he emerged with outstanding results.
But Usman is not yet satisfied with his quest for knowledge, as manifest in his current admission for the senior executive course 40 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.  So, he is relinquishing his cherished job of Army’s image maker, which he has handled dexterously over the years  to Brigadier-General Jude Chukwu.
However, Brig. Gen. Usman  was the mouthpiece of the Army at a time Nigeria was plagued by overt and covert acts of terrorism. Nigerians were placed on the cusp of distress, as terrorism raged.
 From from Maiduguri, Yobe,  Adamawa, Kaduna,   Kano  to Iddo and Kaura Namoda to Oloibiri and the forests of the Southeast, terrorism chained Nigerians and the Army  came for a special rescue mission. But regressive forces fought back the Army mindlessly with bile, senseless and damaging publicity targeted to destroy the corporate image of the Army.
But  SK Usman’s   experience and mastery of the art of information management, defeated the pen detractors and satanic forces.  Unarguably, his outings became the saving grace of these multiple internal operations of the Nigerian Army in an age of infectious consciousness and inquisitiveness.
As an officer who knows the nitty-gritty of his assignment, Brig. Gen Usman was appointed as Director, Directorate of Army Public Relations when he was a Colonel.  He immediately, reorganized the directorate and elevated its operations to enviable heights.  He made the gathering and dissemination of news about the operations of the Nigerian Army easy and accessible to all interested parties without reservations.
 He never slacked in satisfying the desire of Nigerians to consistently access news of what transpires at the warfront. Even with the tremendous pressure from vibrant   traditional and social media platforms, which were not confined by time, in making inquiries, he served them proficiently. His media engagements’ both on electronic and print media were insightful, analytical and illuminating.
Usman ensured he served the public with accurate information and was very polite, even in instances of deliberate provocation. He held back nothing, but could be quite fierce and firm in defending malicious plots to defame the reputation and integrity of the Nigerian Army.   When he pens down anything, it is rich in depth and substance. And whenever   he speaks, it charmingly redirected the senses of even the worse critics of the Army.
The Army’s image maker believed that propaganda does not win wars but the truth does. So, he ensured, Nigerians were served with accurate facts of happenings’   on the battlefield and timely.  Both day and night, SK Usman, as his admirers fondly call him, would pick calls and respond to inquiries humbly and politely.
 He chased the truth and dished out the truth.  And each time he errs as it is natural with humanity, he would not hesitate to make corrections instantly.  He was neither  hesitant to retract a story nor  shied away from setting the records straight where necessary. These are positive virtues of a rare gem in public relations.
But SK Usman left an indelible impression on the hearts of many in the profession by  his splendid handling of  emerging media trends in the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, particularly in the Northeast.  When the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria realized,  defeated Boko Haram terrorists and their agents shifted the battle from the warfront to cyberspace, SK Usman was handy to design counter-measures.
He was proactive, preempted and demolished terrorists’ bitter  and false publicity with impressive mien.  It never took him time to disarm the publicity machinery of Boko Haram terrorists and their faceless sympathizers’.  He stands really iconic and   will be remembered for his deep insights in countering terrorists’ media hype.
SK Usman had the conviction that to be an expert does not mean, knowing everything,  all the times. He didn’t know it all, yet got the best results because he created a friendly environment for all to freely relate with him.   This was possible because he partnered and created a warm synergy or working relationship with colleagues and institutions’.
Undoubtedly, SK Usman’s shadows in the media and Public Relations circles in Nigeria looms large. And to his deserved honour, Nigerians through various opinion polls, at different times  rated SK Usman the best spokesperson of security agencies and organizations in Nigeria.
And quite honourably too, SK Usman has bagged multiple Honours and Awards to his credit. He, the recipient of Silver Jubilee Medal,(SJM) Forces Service Star (FSS), United Nations Medal for Peace at Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2003. He has a Certificate of Merit by Naeem Muslim Youth Organisation in Sierra Leone.
In the media world,  SK  Usman  was awarded  a Certificate of Merit for Radio Production from the Headquarters of UNAMSIL and Certificate of Appreciation  from the  United Nations Training Assistance Team (UNTAT) New York for his remarkable  contribution to the success of first ever-Peacekeeping Course for Emerging Troops/ Police Contributing Countries to the United Nations in 2004.
He has the rare Chief of Army Staff’s Letter of Commendation and also, that of the Force Commander’s Letter for outstanding performance as CIMIC officer at UNMEE and the United Nations Medal for Peace. SK Usman has an award as best delegate   for Excellent Performance at the Annual University for Peace Model United Nations Conference (UPMUNC 2011) as a member of its Security Council Committee among others.
He is also a proud recipient of General Operations Medal (GOM) and just recently, the Army Council awarded him with the prestigious River Niger Star (RNS) for gallantry.
Brig. Gen. Usman is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the prestigious regulatory body of PR managers generally adjudged as influencing public perception on many major national issues.  It is a rare honour  to be trained by  an institution of this nature, which keeps regulatory control on members within the ambit of standard practices. Yet, SK Usman observed every ethical prescription and still flourished with on the job excellently.
The outgoing Army Public Relations officer is no doubt, leaving a big shoe for his successor, Brig. Gen. Jude Chukwu. His successor is by  every nuance of assessment  also  a celebrity in the field of Public Relations .
Chukwu has a lot to do on sustaining the image of the Nigerian Army on the high pedestal raised by his predecessor. He must keep an eagle eye to discern biases on the public perception of the Army and set the agenda where possible in the interest of the Army. But most importantly, Chukwu should not fail to ensure that cyber urchins do not take the victory of the Nigerian people over terrorism for granted by engaging in destructive schemes unchallenged.
 Again, SK’s humility is exceptional and his tenure as Director, Army Public Relations is epochal. Posterity will remember him as an Army image maker who noiselessly triumphed over the period of deliberate attempts to malign and stain the reputation of  Nigeria  Army, which has records of global recognition for its performance.
Angula is a public affairs commentator and contributed this piece from the United Kingdom.
0
Read More
Cameroon: What one man’s 17-year ordeal tells us about Biya’s regime
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

Michel Atangana may be physically free, but like his country, he remains shackled in many ways.

BY JEFFREY SMITH*

Michel Thierry Atangana spent 17 years in jail in Cameroon based on false accusations.

Michel Thierry Atangana spent 17 years in jail in Cameroon based on false accusations.

Michel Thierry Atangana is not a household name, but perhaps he should be. He is a hero and testament to the always fragile but irrepressible human spirit.

Tomorrow, 24 February, marks the four-year anniversary of his release from a maximum-security prison in Cameroon, following a decree issued by President Paul Biya several days prior. In total, Atangana spent 17 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, much of it in solitary confinement, in a dingy cell where he was subject to routine state-sanctioned torture, and much of it falling outside local and international headlines.

The “official” charge was that Michel had “embezzled public funds”. He was arrested without warrant following false accusations by public officials in Cameroon and, by any measure, exposed to an entirely farcical legal proceeding that took place in an overnight session without the assistance of counsel and without the chance to respond to the charges.

President Biya’s one-man rule

Many familiar with the case agree that Atangana’s detention was due to his alleged support for a well-known political leader who intended to challenge Biya, the man who has ruled Cameroon since 1982 (and effectively since 1975 when he was Prime Minister). Cameroon’s courts have a long-standing reputation of being used as a tool of political retribution and score settling. That fact remains to this day, as does Biya, who ranks among the world’s longest-ruling leaders. Of late, his government has been increasingly accused of massive human rights violations, elevating Cameroon to crisis level in need of a coordinated global response, according to several international NGOs.

The personal tragedy that befell Atangana is indicative of a broader trend of repression, brazen disregard for democratic rights, and a seeming disdain for the principles of equality and justice. These transgressions have pervaded Cameroon over the past several decades – and are arguably getting worse – under Biya’s one-man rule. Moreover, with elections fast approaching this year, many fear a continued downward spiral as the president stands ready to run for a successive seventh term.

Due to the flagrantly egregious nature of Atangana’s case, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in August 2013, found that his imprisonment was arbitrary and called for his immediate and unconditional release. Cameroon’s government refused to heed this communication.

The UN Working Group also recommended an independent investigation to identify those responsible for the actions taken against Atangana and that they be punished in accordance with domestic law and international legal norms. The report declared that Atangana should be awarded financial damages “for the harm caused by being deprived of personal liberty”.

To this day, Atangana has yet to receive justice. His legal case continues to hang in the balance by an intransigent regime more committed to holding onto power and stifling dissent than ensuring justice and accountability. What is more, as a successful businessman, Atangana’s persecution scared off local and international investors, depressing Cameroon’s economy that has long required revitalisation.

France’s neglect

While the persecution and mistreatment inflicted upon Atangana by Cameroonian authorities was unacceptable, it is also important to underscore the seeming racism at play here. Atangana is a French citizen, and had initially travelled to Cameroon on the recommendation of the French government to assist a so-called “friendly regime” in Cameroon. Yet, when he was accused of a crime he did not commit, France did nothing to elevate his cause, his voice, or his long fight to secure justice. I experienced this obstinacy first-hand while working for Freedom House in 2011, where we had taken the lead in elevating Atagana’s case.

Throughout the entirety of his unjust and arbitrary detention, the government in Paris folded its hands and turned the other way. This tragedy went on for 17 agonising years. The French diplomatic and consular authorities in Cameroon feigned ignorance, pretending to be uninformed about his case, and made misleading statements about his nationality, essentially denying Atangana was a French citizen (an easily disprovable lie).

To this day, we wonder: Would those same French authorities have acted differently if he were not of African origin? One suspects the answer is yes, if only judging by other cases of French citizens who have faced grave injustice abroad, namely: Clotilde Reiss (Iran), Florence Cassez (Mexico), Michaël Blanc (Indonesia), and Serge Atlaoui (Indonesia). There were also those involved in the now infamous Arche de Zoé in Darfur.

Today, would any French or European investor of African descent feel comfortable operating in Cameroon, or a similar place, when knowing of this precedent? I am doubtful.

Cameroon in shackles

Today, Cameroon is again at a crossroads as it was in 1994 when Atangana was imprisoned. As this year’s elections approach – likely to take place by October – the economy continues its free fall, sped up by the regime’s increasingly routine internet shutdowns, costing tens of millions of dollars in potential revenue and related business.

The country’s youth and student populations are lost with little hope for a better future; teachers in some parts of the country have spent equal parts on the streets protesting as they have in the classroom. And human rights violations remain ubiquitous, whether it is the crimes perpetrated against alleged “terrorists” (i.e. journalists and activists) or Anglophone demonstrators. The situation will only get worse if there is not immediate action. In order to stay relevant, to once again become stable and viable, Cameroon must reform.

Atangana’s saga can serve as a useful reference point. Many people are of the view that his case has concluded since he is now a free man. This could not be further from the truth. For one, his personal bank accounts in Europe remain blocked and his assets in Cameroon frozen by authorities.

Much like the country itself, Atangana may be physically free, but he remains confined in many ways. Until President Biya and authorities in Cameroon commit to and then implement long-overdue reforms, including the holding of a genuinely free and fair election this year, much of the country will remain shackled, unable to break the hammerlock of an increasingly retrograde regime. Any reasonable observer will conclude that Cameroon needs an all hands on deck approach to build a truly prosperous political and economic environment, one predicated on a foundation of justice and accountability.

That Atangana miraculously emerged from his 17-year imprisonment unfazed by the ordeal, uninterested in retribution, and undaunted by the trials ahead, offers a glimmer of hope that Cameroon’s citizens are more than capable of meeting this great challenge.

*Culled from African Arguments.Jeffrey Smith is the executive director of Vanguard Africa, a non-profit group that consolidates democratic forces and supports free and fair elections in Africa.

0
Read More
Drafting a people’s manifesto
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

It is now appropriate, indeed imperative, for the Nigerian Left to present its own manifesto to the country. This should be in form of a people’s manifesto, a people’s charter of demands in a situation of national emergency. A people’s manifesto at this point in our history is not a dissertation-like programme of social transformation, the type of thing any Left formation should be able to produce in 24 hours. Rather, it should be a clear and concise statement of not only what the Left believes should be done to reprieve the nation from a threatening catastrophe, but also a statement of what—in alliance with other socio-political forces—the Left can mobilize the Nigerian people to do.

To put the matter differently, a people’s manifesto at this time is first and foremost a Nigerian Left’s manifesto in the ordinary sense of the word: a “public declaration of intentions, motives, or views” or a “public statement of policy or opinion”. Yes; but beyond this, a people’s manifesto is a people’s charter of demands presented to the Nigerian state and governments by the Nigerian Left. A people’s manifesto has this double character because although it can be used for an election, it is not election-bound.

This opening declaration should, however, not be misunderstood as implying that without an explicitly Left intervention, the country is doomed. No. Nigeria can still be reprieved—as it was reprieved in 2015—and before that, in 1993 and at some other critical points in the country’s post-civil war history. What my proposition should be understood as implying is that if the country continues in its present course, a reprieve from catastrophe will again be a temporary or false one. And a temporary or false reprieve will, again, make the nation’s fundamental problems more acute and complex when they explode again in a conjuncture—as will surely happen again. The problems will then be much more difficult to resolve in the context and framework of a single country.

This article is, however, not the people’s manifesto as advocated. It is rather the initiation of a discussion on its contents, nature, parameters and politics. An illustration will also be provided.

 

A Nigerian people’s manifesto drafted and presented by the Nigerian Left should not begin with a catalogue of what a Nigerian state or the incumbent or future government should do for the people. Rather, it should begin with a self-introduction of the movement, organization or platform presenting the manifesto. There are at least three reasons for this. In the first place, the Nigerian masses have, for decades, been recipients and victims of deception from personages and entities in power or seeking power. The people are, therefore, increasingly cynical. In the second place, the Nigerian Left has a strong and enviable record of involvement in popular struggle and patriotic selfless service which it should be proud to present to the public.

In the third place, we know that in this era, it is not only speech-writers that can be hired; manifesto-writers are also hired. In other words, manifesto-writing has been professionalized. Just put the money down and say what type of manifesto you want and the scale of lies you wish to be included, and the job will be done. Although there are always differences between fake manifestoes—however beautifully written—and genuine manifestoes, most readers may not be patient enough to spot the inconsistencies and incongruities in fake declarations.

I wish to propose that the difference between a people’s manifesto drafted and presented by the Left and other manifestoes cannot be found in the “lists of contents”, a comparison of what the authors and publishers promise to deliver to the people: roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, airports, electricity, jobs, “stomach infrastructure”, etc, etc.

The difference lies in the “totality” or “packaging” which shows whether the manifesto is a revolutionary and popular-democratic declaration or a pack of lies, deceptions and illusions. On the one hand, the “totality” or “packaging” indicates not only what will be done but also how it will be done, with what resources it will be done, where the resources will come from, and when exactly it will be done. For, even if you swear by all the deities known and unknown, that you will run from Lagos to Calabar in three hours I will be a bastard to believe you.

On the other hand, in this period of extended emergency, the “packaging” or “totality” unambiguously answers the question: Whose desperate needs are being articulated and planned for: those of the Nigerian masses or those of exploiters, predators and state-robbers who always present themselves as “the nation”? To put the matter more bluntly, does the manifesto unambiguously indicate plans to immediately redeploy the nation’s resources in favour of the hungry, the endangered and the forgotten?

An appropriate “table of contents” for a people’s manifesto in this particular period of extended national emergency in the lives of the Nigerian masses may be structured in several ways. For instance, it may have the following eight-point structure: Who are we (that is, the authors—the Nigerian Left)?; The country we now have; The country we wish to have and are committed to fighting for; Fundamental human rights; Directive principles of state policy; Social transformation; National unity, federalism and popular-democratic restructuring; and Immediate steps (on pressing needs and current crises).

Back to history. The Nigerian Left is one of the oldest ideological tendencies in Nigerian politics because the Left grew out directly from organized anti-colonial and labour struggles—both of which started in the early 1930s. By the eve of independence in 1960, popular democracy and socialism had become the clear aim of the Left.

As early as May 1961, a Leftist group in Lagos, organized by Gogo Chu Nzeribe, Peter Ayodele Curtis-Joseph, Tanko Yakassai, M.O. Johnson, J.B. K. Thomas and a few others, had, in an extended public declaration, described itself as the “organization of workers, women,  farmers and farm laborers, peasants, artisans, teachers and intellectuals, small businessmen and women, professionals, lawyers, youths, students, the unemployed, the maimed, the deformed …”

This was a clear ideological selection which the authors justified this way: “These are the people who know misfortune and therefore are capable of waging limitless and courageous struggles until victory is won”. Left out of this long list was the “indigenous Nigerian capitalist and feudal class that had emerged as the virtual successors to the British colonialists”. The group pledged to “organize, unite and lead the peoples of Nigeria in a relentless and uncompromising fight against capitalism and capitalist exploitation of the Nigerian peoples”.

Significantly, these young Nigerians opposed regionalism and declared their commitment to “one undivided Nigeria, under unitary and centralized government”. And, consistently, they declared their belief in the creation of a “Union of African States” and “one common nationality for all Africans”.

The revolutionary Lagos group—let us call them so here—advocated a 40-hour week for all workers, full employment, unemployment benefits, social security, worker-participation in management, special allowances for “all labour that is especially risky or dirty”, adequate minimum wage, free medical treatment, free education, paid maternity leave, paid rest-time during nursing period ….”.

Putting itself forward as a vanguard in post-colonial nation-building, the group concluded its public declaration by repeating that it was formed to “lead the peoples of Nigeria in their just struggles for peace, friendship, national reconstruction, a better future, democracy and the triumph of socialism”.

That was the Nigerian Left about 57 years ago, just six months after independence. A contemporary people’s manifesto can proceed from here by indicating what has changed, what has remained and what has emerged.

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State.

 

0
Read More
Kperogi: Too Far Away from Truth
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Philip Agbese *
Farooq Kperogi

Farooq Kperogi

.
The author of “Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English,” Farouk Kperogi apparently overrates himself. He can lecture us on how not to abuse the English language with interference from our mother tongues. It is however wise that he draws the line at some point by not posing as a pseudo military analyst-cum strategist. Kperogi would be aided in making this right decision if he reminds himself that he is at best an exile, whose sense of relativity is warped by time, distance and sojourn in a foreign land.

 This distorted perception is evident in his piece, “The Myth of Buhari’s Boko Haram Success”, in which he made it amply clear that he is as much part of the problem while posing as the solution. His account and narrative of events is calculated to boost the morale of Boko Haram terrorist and practically stopped short of exhorting them to lie low and resurge once the tenure of the present administration is over.

It is also most unfortunate that Kperogi is attempting to re-write and pervert history in the lifetime of the dramatis personae by tendering accounts that suit his desired mischief. Only such dark intentions would make him embark on revisionism by claiming that the Nigerian military still operated on a business as usual basis under the current leadership. He wrote that “fat cats in the military still exploit and feed fat on the misery of the foot soldiers” without being able to provide specifics so that Nigerians would know who to hold responsible for any failings that results from this alleged corruption. A genuine clamor for improvement in the situation, if truly needed, would have made it a point of duty to be brave in naming the “fat cats” and not trivialize a point as profound as corruption in the military with ambiguous generalization.

There is no point dwelling at length on Kperogi’s obsession with President Muhammadu Buhari – it is up to him to recognize and accept that he needs therapy to overcome this particular crisis. He must however desist from luring others into the obsession that has become his nightmare.  His claim that the president failed to symbolically impress with visits to the frontlines and IDPs’ camps somehow gave an indication as to what hands are jerking his marionette.

It takes a supreme level of compromise to compare the present and immediate past administration in terms of the effectiveness with which the Boko Haram menace was (or is being) addressed. Under the Goodluck Jonathan era that Kperogi now idolizes, the terrorists would have by now been taking swims in the Atlantic Ocean considering the rate at which they were moving southwards. Perhaps the proceeds of Dasukigate procured some flight tickets and paid some bills to warrant a loss of perspective on the alarming scale displayed in the piece.

It must take such inducement to aver that that the degradation of Boko Haram has nothing to do with President Buhari’s anti-terror moves. In making this false claim, the writer backed his assertion up with fallacies.

First, he claimed that our gallant troops “have never wavered in their bravery and persistence in spite of their prevailing untoward conditions” in spite of the president. One can only wonder if Kperogi was having his Trump moment at the time when these very persons took flight before terrorists because poor leadership. The inspiring leadership of the military chiefs that President Buhari appointed boosted morale to a point that the prediction of people like this writer amounted to naught. Boko Haram has been routed and sufficiently so.

He also claimed that “Boko Haram has been weakened by an enervatingly bitter and sanguinary internal schism”. If Kperogi would be honest to himself for a single heartbeat then he will acknowledge that Boko Haram has never been monolithic but rather a band of multiple commands. None of these factions were however bold enough to challenge the Abaubakar Shekau leadership. It took the sever degradation of the sect by the Nigerian military for the Abu Musab al-Barnawi, relying on ISIS that was at its zenith then, to challenge Shekau and declare his faction.

The third claim by Kperogi bothers on irresponsible if not out rightly so. Only an intent to trigger ethno-religious strife could have made him claim that Boko Haram softened its attacks or allowed itself to defeated by the military because a Muslim with part-Kanuri ancestry is at the helms of affairs. In making this claim, Kperogi is no better than his acclaimed Stone Age friend with a PhD. At a time that even the illiterates are resolute on exploring factors that unite as opposed to those that divide us, someone with the international exposure claimed by Kperogi should not be rehashing the kind of hatred infused claims he made about ethno-religious loyalties, except of course that is what his sojourn in the United States has taught him.

With these points made, I will like to put Farouk Kperogi on notice that those of us that are “not fortunate” to have fled to other climes still have no other country to call home. We will appreciate that he does not give tacit support to terrorists whether out of ignorance, worldly inducement or a desire to be seen as belonging to the band of politically correct activists.  He has been in the United States of America for long and probably no longer knows what the truth is and he is unaware that anyone who still doubts the defeat of Boko Haram certainly does not believe in this country.

Kperogi is welcome to correct my grammar and syntax but he definitely knows nothing about the realities of Nigeria to deliver a military thesis on whether Boko Haram has been defeated or not. He must therefore stay within his own depth because if he encourages Boko Haram to regroup, he would stay in relative safety in the US while leave I and millions of others to bear the brunt

*Agbese sent in this piece from Abuja.

0
Read More
Nigeria:Before the next round
February 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Edwin Madunagu*

Edwin Madunagu

Edwin Madunagu

I am inviting our country’s popular-democratic forces, especially the Nigerian Left, to join me in looking back once again. We have to look as the Nigerian state and the various fractions, factions, groups and blocs of the ruling class now begin to take the country through another political turbulence that will end in a reconstitution of their political representation. It is this reconstitution of its “political class” that the ruling class calls election.

This opening clarification leads to an opening proposition, namely: that if the Nigerian Left consciously, responsibly and seriously adopts electoralism, it is only its participation in elections as a tangible, coherent and relatively independent political force that will begin to introduce real and unexpected contradictions in elections. A real contradiction in this context is a contradiction with both reformist and revolutionary potentials. And I say “relatively independent”, rather than “independent” in describing the popular-democratic forces’ electoral participation because I do not, ab initio, rule out the possibility of alliance which, if it is real, imposes limitations on the freedom of all sides in an alliance.

Historians of independent Nigeria’s electoral politics usually begin the narrative from the federal election of December 1959. This was the election which the history books say determined the power structure which British colonialism left behind as it withdrew from Nigeria on October 1, 1960. Between that election and now, 58 years later, Nigeria has had nine other federal or national elections: 1964, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Leftists had participated in all the 10 elections. And, by Leftists I mean, broadly speaking, socialists as well as progressives and radical democrats who, even if they are not socialists, are not anti-socialist. The central question here is how Nigerian Leftists have so far participated in elections.

This central question may be put in context by locating each of the 10 federal or national elections in the political period it belongs. Nigeria’s First Republic is generally understood to be the period between October 1, 1960 and January 15, 1966, the date of the first military coup d’etat. This designation has come to stay although Nigeria did not become a republic until October 1, 1963, three years after independence. Only the 1964 election falls into the First Republic. Similarly, only the 1983 election falls under the Second Republic (October 1, 1979 – December 30, 1983). The Third Republic defined only by when it ended (November 17, 1993) and not when it started (when, please?) had no election within it.

The Fourth Republic, the current one, started on May 29, 1999. Four general elections have so far taken place in this period: 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The remaining four elections, that is, those of 1959, 1979, 1993 and 1999 do not belong to any of the four republics and may be called transition elections. The first of the four was conducted by the British colonialists while the other three were conducted by military regimes: General Olusegun Obasanjo (1979); General Ibrahim Babangida (1993) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1999).

Nigerian Leftists participated in the 1959 transition-from-colonialism election in one or more of four forms: as members of large and well-established ruling class parties; as members of small self-determination or radical-reformist parties; as members of small Leftist parties; or as independent candidates or supporters of independent candidates. The large ruling-class parties were the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (later, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens) (NCNC) led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Action Group (AG) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the last decade of de-colonisation, that is, (1950-1960), these three parties, especially the AG and the NCNC, had received large numbers of young Leftists, including Marxists and labour activists, who had been dislodged from their independent formations by colonial repression. The Leftist entrants into the AG, with support and encouragement from Awolowo himself, transformed the party ideologically.

The small radical parties included the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) led by Mallam Aminu Kano and the self-determination parties included the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) led by Joseph Tarka. While NEPU was allied to the NCNC, UMBC was allied to the AG. Each alliance fielded a single slate of candidates. The small Leftist parties only participated in the election symbolically and for ideological and educational reasons.

In the 1964 federal election, the only federal election that took place in the First Republic, the 1959 forms of Left participation again appeared. By now the Leftist parties and groups had increased and enlarged. Beyond this, however, was a new development: a number of Leftist parties, including the Nigerian Labour Party (NLP), joined the AG and the NCNC in an alliance called the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). This was a mega-alliance whose component members included NCNC, AG, NEPU, UMBC and NLP. The alliance survived the December 1964 election and the supplementary election of March 1965. It then went on to fight the very bloody October 1965 Western Regional Election. The mass uprising generated by the last election led directly to the January 15, 1966 military coup d’etat.

The 1979 general election was a transition election: transition from the 13-year military dictatorship (1966-1979) to the Second Republic (1979-1983). By then several things had changed: the country had moved from the parliamentary to the presidential system; parties now had to be officially permitted and registered to participate in the contest; only very rich parties or parties of very rich people could satisfy the conditions for registration; participation as independent candidates had been abolished; and elections had become much more corrupt than they were in the First Republic.

For the Nigerian Left, the 1979 general election marked a sharp and tragic turn in the trajectory of the country’s electoral politics. In the first place, the huge material/financial conditions placed on the registration of political parties almost automatically ruled out genuinely Leftist parties. In the second place, the elimination of independent candidacy placed a stiff choice before intending Leftist candidates and unregistered and unregistrable Leftist parties.

This choice can be put like this: “Abandon your electoral ambition or come and seek a chance in one of the registered and registrable parties”. In the third place, since the big registered parties knew that the unregistered leftist parties and candidates could not participate in elections without coming to them, they imposed tough conditions on collaboration. The main condition invariably was: “Withdraw publicly from your platform and publicly join us. But you must join us as individuals, not as groups”.

This situation may be summarized this way: From the 1979 general election onwards the genuinely Leftist parties could participate in electoral contests in Nigeria only by liquidating themselves as they were and as they presented themselves. It was then that history presented the silent revolutionary alternative: “But if you must still participate in Nigerian elections, then you must adopt, or rather, return to, dialectics.  That means: differentiate between form and content; or rather, while retaining the revolutionary content, adopt two forms – one for elections and the other for the permanent democratic struggle of the masses.”

This strategic change, if adopted, frees you to seek alliances. For accessible historical illustration: First, check China in the years between the Japanese invasion and the end of Second World War. The alliance in mind here was the one between the Chinese Leftists and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

After this, turn to the post-Second World War history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island and check the alliance between the various wings of Irish nationalism.

For contemporary illustration, turn to South Africa and check the Tripartite Alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State.

0
Read More
Making the Post Insurgency War A New Focus
February 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Richard Murphy*
Anyone that still doubts that Boko Haram has been defeated would have to watch the latest video released by Abubakar Shekau, the sociopath leader of the terror group – or read up the English transcription of the rant. For Shekau to have declared  in the ten-minute video that “I am tired of this calamity; it is better I die and go to rest in paradise” says a lot about the morale of whatever is left of the nest of killers that once straddled the north-east of Nigeria.
He may still be making threats, and citing recent events that appropriately dated the video, but his near lack of coherence attests to the pressure under which the defeat of Boko Haram has placed him, hence the desire and preference for death. While he may be making taunts about Sambisa Forest, creating the impression that he and his minions still control the location, the reality is that Shekau is eager to throw the military of the scent of his actual location. A national newspaper had reported that Shekau and other insurgents had relocated to in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State.
However, this capitulation by the terrorist does not call for jubilation as it only spells the need to take the counter-insurgency war into a new phase. Far from waxing celebratory in the face of Shekau’s admission of calamity for his group the new focus should be the post-insurgency war, which is a blend of many things to not only seal the defeat of Boko Haram’s terrorism but to also ensure that the kind of ideology that bred the reign of terror previously unleashed on Nigeria is never again to thrive in the country again. This requires that decision makers are resolute and innovative in the choices they make going forward.
First is the issue of funding. Financing to place the Nigeria Military at an optimum level to counter threats must not be cut down simply because we see that Boko Haram has been defeated. If anything, spending on hardware and troop welfare must be improved to a level where there are resources to expand the capabilities of the Armed Forces, like locally building drones and small warheads that can be used to patrol areas where remnant of the terrorists may again attempt to regroup.
Secondly, the deradicalization programme must be expanded to go beyond surrendered or captured Boko Haram members. Some of those that had joined forces with the terror group might not need too much persuasion to give up the madness since they would have found out that living as an outcast in the desert is not as romantic as Boko Haram recruitment propaganda make it seem. The new target is to identify at-risk persons with a view to reaching out to them before they join the group. Persons that have links with preachers known to be sympathetic to the cause of Boko Haram are good candidates for such programme.
Also, much as Shekau has renewed his death wish in the new video, the military must decide whether granting his request is the better thing to do, bearing the long term in mind. Should he be killed in battle, there is every tendency for his followers to elevate him to the level of a prophet, a martyr whose grave or place of death could become a shrine to the depraved. Should he be arrested, a wave of abductions by whatever is left of his followers could follow as they would attempt to force the government into negotiating his release. The best way of sending Shekau into inconsequence without a backlash must therefore be prioritize in the post insurgency war.
Furthermore, the modus operandi of Boko Haram must have necessarily transformed from what it was even as recently as twelve months ago. Particular note must be made of the call by Shekau for terrorist sympathizers that “Wherever you are, even if you are in Saudi Arabia, and you have your gun, please stand up and fight, kill whoever you see that is not on our side.” This call must be reviewed against the spate of killings by gunmen across the country, which has been explained so far as “armed herdsmen”. The interrogation of the spate of killings should be informed by the fact that some of the gunmen have no cattle and may as well be Boko Haram members executing a new mandate from their sick leaders.
Shekau’s charge of “Kidnap and bring them to us” should also be investigated to be sure that the orgy of kidnaps in certain parts of the country are not related to Boko Haram members on revenue drive.
The military must equally take a critical look at their offer of surrender to defeated insurgents. The offer cannot remain on the table forever. A timeframe must be given following which troops should step in to liquidate any terrorist that is persists on treading the path of evil; once deadline is past surrendering for reintegration should be off the table.
On the part of the Federal Government, rebuilding efforts in the north-east should be accelerated so that the region can again go back to being a vibrant economic hub. The rebuilding efforts itself should have poverty reduction embedded in it so that what has been identified as one of the factors that aided the spread of Boko Haram can be addressed at a foundational level.
These are initiatives the Nigerian Army must seize as elections are around the corners again and the terrorists and their financiers will look to exploiting that to their advantage to attempt regrouping. The Army must make Nigerians take ownership of the post-insurgency war because it theirs to win; citizens are in vantage position to turn in fleeing terrorists and the opinion leaders among them can help amplify the message to them to surrender.
*Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.
0
Read More
BURATAI: ENDING TERRORISM IN GRAND STYLE
February 7, 2018 | 0 Comments
BY GABRIEL ONOJA *
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai

Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai

When Boko Haram Terrorists fumed in Nigeria, and eventually domiciled its fighting strength, comrades, arsenals and other explosive devices deployed to committing atrocities or tormenting Nigerians, the Northeast was the epicenter of the furnace.  And inside, Nigeria’s northeast, insurgents proved indomitable and irrepressible, by the recluse, into a decrepit, ancient, colonial game reserve with the epaulet, “Sambisa Forest.”

As an African, I know forests are both cherished, but also dreadful at a tender age. They are harbingers of good; but also, overshadowing evil, like weird evil spirits. My beloved late granny told us, this much,   each time, the family sat beside, the warm evening fire, for moonlight tales in a village on the Mambila Plateau. She was a living repository or encyclopedia of the rich African heritage in folklore.
In adult life, the only forest I heard, which equaled my late granny’s description of evil in forests; which  also, defied not just humanity, but the government and series of battalions of Nigerian troops for years is Sambisa Forest. It sits on the fringes of Borno state, in the Northeast of my country, Nigeria. Sambisa forest became famous for its notoriety as the safest haven for the brutal devils,  Boko Haram terrorists sect or “religious”  extremists.
Factional Boko  Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau;  his  trusted top commanders and a dozen aficionados found this abandoned forest their most secured enclave as  hideout  for recuperation and  reflection on strategy, each time the devil’s incarnates visit heinous crimes against Nigerians.  From 2010 to May 2015, this forest provided enough support and pillar to blossoming terrorism,   fleeing insurgents and training camp for new recruits, usually, teenagers’, most times charmed and hypnotized in this large, dreadful forest for months.
The BHTs dared everybody, including the military, brave enough to get an inch anywhere near the Sambisa forest, and he would be blown up into pieces like balloons and the flesh on his carcass would feed hungry vultures in the air. Military senses exhausted all strategies and tactics, but could not demystify it.
Precisely, the situation deteriorated irrecoverably, much as a flabbergasted Presidency of that time. The Presidency was further overwhelmed with the April  14, 2014 abduction of over 274 schoolgirls in a boarding school at Chibok, a remote community in Borno state.
President Muhammadu   Buhari vowed to change the narrative of insurgents  unbridled triumph over Nigerians. Trusted as a man,  who sticks to his words, his first assignment in office, after  May 2015 was to appoint a trusted war  monger  and soul mate to lead the battle of counter-insurgency operations in the country.
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai was appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency war. On eve of Christmas day, Gen. Buratai led Nigerian troops,  in a sustained battle that eventually demystified this horrendous Sambisa   forest and stripped it bare up to Camp Zero.  It was where factional Boko Haram leader,  Abubakar Shekau hid the over 274 abducted Chibok schoolgirls for months before ferrying them to other  far-flung locations and eventually into  forced    marriage or servitude.
Shekau knew the game was over when our troops took over their treasure of Sambisa forest, which they illegally annexed in Nigeria and cherished so much.  That was Gen. Buratai’s New Year gift to Nigerians in December of 2016. He promised to permanently keep the insurgents at bay, from Nigerian shores and transform the dreaded forest into a peaceful habitat for locals.
So, he embarked on the transformation of Sambisa forest, beginning with converting it into a military training field. Therefore, his blueprint for the ongoing clearance operations for remnants of terrorists in the Northeast includes,  opening-up the  once deserted and fearful forest from an evil  forest to a bubbling city for natives, Nigerians and military tourists from the international community.
Therefore, I was not surprised to sight pictures of the construction of major access roads piercing the heartland of Sambisa forest a few days ago on my favorite online news portal, The Nigerian. To be sure, I also, rummaged other online news media and discovered the same.  Work in progress on roads in Sambisa forest, linking contiguous communities   stared me at the face like naked fire.
 Indeed, I was elated again and again.  I felt compelled to intimate Nigerians about the latest development in the Northeast.  I want Nigerians to know,   Sambisa forest is no longer left at the mercy of nature’s virginity, where terrorists could find a fortress and bulwark against soldiers and Nigerians.
 In the next few weeks,  Sambisa forest  can boast of   Gwoza-Yamtake-Bita-Tokumbere-Sambisa and Gwoza-Yamtake-Bita roads, stretching kilometers. And this means much to development, much as it would unmask the darkness and evil associated with the forest.
Director, Department of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Kukasheka Usman reflects it as  Army’s     “… efforts to make Sambisa forest habitable and also training ground. The Nigerian Army is following up the ongoing clearance operations with road construction into main heartland of the forest and adjoining communities.”
This is gleefully, an  enriching news from unusual quarters, because it is  emanating from Sambisa Forest, the base of  Boko Haram terrorists, who  once used  it  to  launch  atrocities   on Nigeria  or pathetically  hold the country to ransom. With the gory images of Sambisa forest undergoing the final rituals of burial, it marks the technical extinction of insurgency   and a milestone in our quest to completely reclaim our country from the hands of cursed insurgents.
The media pictures of Nigerian Army engineers constructing roads in the forest, day and night is instructive. It personifies the haste soldiers are willing to ensure the devious sect or terrorists are never allowed a space to regroup and gather energy against the country in any location within.
But undoubtedly, I am most impressed with Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Nigerian Army. I doff my cap for him. From the depth of my heart,  I have come across a public servant, in today’s Nigeria who keeps his word or promises to the people and matches them with verifiable action like the latest exploits in the Sambisa forest exudes  with unarguable evidence.
 It strongly pricks my conscience into admitting that Lt. Gen Buratai remains a leader of the Nigerian Army, who is not only fixated on winning the war. But he equally   feels, development of the Nigerian Army, alongside host communities are his sacrosanct responsibilities.
And not just in the Northeast, but anytime and anywhere, Gen. Buratai sets development targets, its splendid outcomes. We all can acquiesced that in battling insurgency, he is exceptional; and in putting smiles on the faces of afflicted Nigerians, he is  also superb, always ready to implement it to the core.
Each time, I reflect on Gen. Buratai’s stewardship of the Army, it potently leaves positive impressions. It  reinforces the feeling of a leader determined to  leave the  Northeast  or any other  host community of  the Nigerian Army far better than he met it  when  Mr.  President and Commander –In-Chief of the Nigeria’s Armed Forces mandated him to lead the counter-insurgency operations in the country.
In effect, from the Northeast, Southwest, South-South and Northwest and North Central, where communities have hosted the Nigerian Army either permanently or temporary, during special assignments’, there is at least, one positive attestation of Gen. Buratai. It is loud ovations about the Army’s execution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects, which berths succor, relief and improved military civil relations in all communities.
There are roads construction, electricity extension, drinking water projects, free medical services and investments in education as footprints of today’s Nigerian Army in appreciable number of communities in Nigeria. And they are all sponsored from the Army’s meagre budgets.
  In education alone,  Gen. Buratai’s initiatives have brought to Nigerians, the   Nigerian Army  Aviation School and a world class institution, the first ever,  Nigerian Army University, in  Biu, Borno, which is  open to knowledge seekers from all Nigerian security agencies and civilians.  He is not satisfied yet, as the search for new  projects consistently cross his mind, which he mutters always, each time, he finds himself in the midst of colleagues.
 I cannot appreciate Gen. Buratai enough. But he strikes me like a leader, who ploughs his graph of leadership beyond ending the scourge of terrorism, anywhere in Nigeria, especially the Northeast. But he smacks as a rare and patriotic Army Chief, absolutely committed and eager to demolish the faintest scars of terrorism in Nigeria.
 Added to it, he has pragmatically strayed into spearheading the gospel of unification and development of all parts of Nigeria.
*Onoja is an terorrism Expert based in Jos.The opinions expressed are his.
0
Read More
NIA: Between Competence and Politics
February 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Philip Agbese *
Mr. Rufai Abubakar

Mr. Rufai Abubakar

The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has responsibility for Nigeria’s foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. That puts it on the same footing as the United States of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (SVR RF) or Israel’s Mossad.

Operations of bodies like these are meant to be clandestine, shrouded in the highest secrecy possible, but nonetheless they have the unwavering task of securing the nation. It is important to point out that security in this regard goes beyond chasing terrorists across the globe or across international boundaries. The security covered by such organizations is an all round affairs: how do the activities of the other nations (even allies) impact the long term interest of the country in question, how do economic policies, scientific or technological breakthrough of other nations, media content generated elsewhere and even hard drugs from other climes or just any other thing happening offshore affect the nation?
The competence of a country’s foreign intelligence agency is therefore of the greatest importance as every other efforts made on the home front may amount to naught if the country’s interests are not protected internationally. Countries that are adjudged as super powers today did not attain such reckoning simply on the strength of firepower alone; the international respect they hold is coerced out of other countries by their being strategically positioned, through their intelligences agencies, to keep a finger on the pulse of things in their relationships with other nations.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria, these imperatives are lost on the emergency critics that have jumped on the bandwagon of criticizing development at the NIA following the emergence of Mr. Rufai Abubakar as its substantive Director General. That appointment has attracted what can best be described as a barrage of dimwitted reactions that are powered by parochial sentiments, ignorance or a deadly combination of both. This is hardly surprising in a country where every single football fan is a coach, technical adviser and player at the same time, hence a penchant for every single fan to ascribe to themselves the position of foremost expert where the round leather game is involved.
National Interest, as safeguarded by the National Intelligence Agency, does not however lend itself to such all comers-analysts; this is also not about freedom of speech or expression because other Nigerians have a counterbalancing right to have their lives protected from nitwits that could unravel the country with their ill comments.
Those that criticized the appointment out of selfishness and sentiment are perhaps the most dangerous crowd there is. Notable among such is former president, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, who had vehemently tried to dismiss the appointment as parochial and shaded by nepotism without showing the kind of restraints required in reviewing such issues given his background as one time military man and two time leader of the country. He omitted to mention that had he appointed the NIA leadership based on competence during his time as Nigeria’s president the country might have fared better than it did with issues related to foreign intelligence.
Dr. Obasanjo’s presidency was for instance, dominated by foreign interventions that can scarcely be described as beneficial to Nigeria. Relations with other nations were defined more by a need to cater to Obasanjo’s oversized ego than to secure the national interest of Nigeria. Nigeria thus intervened in crisis situations; help stabilize them while other countries stepped in to reap the benefits. Under his watch Nigeria entered into any treaties that are today albatrosses, burdens that stymie the country’s ability to make rapid progress.
Mr. Rufai Abubakar’s appointment as the Director General of NIA must therefore not be rubbished considering that it is a national institution of crucial importance. Dr. Obasanjo’s condemnation of the appointment is unbecoming especially following reports that he embittered his preferred candidate was not appointed. Similar criticism by those that should otherwise be knowledgeable is also reportedly sponsored by those that were disappointed at not making the cut.
Cognizance must be taken of the abysmal low to which the NIA had sunken under the previous leadership that pattered to political correctness and “Federal Character”. The NIA became a laughing stick when it could not, as clandestine agency, properly secure the $43.5 million operations cash that an anti-graft agency discovered in a flat in Lagos.  The agency has also been reduced to a nest of tatter boxes where directors are comfortable to routinely leak sensitive information to politicians under the pretext of writing the National Assembly.
The noise from these bitter lots is being echoed and amplified by some persons without the lightest iota of intelligence on their immediate streets of residence, which clearly places foreign intelligence beyond their grasps. These are the ones that have become overnight intelligence analysts to the extent that they fantasize about knowing the right kind of person to appoint as the head of NIA.
Had those in this alliance of the angry taken time to understand the person of Mr. Rufai Abubakar they would have perhaps been humbled enough to know that theirs is an exercise without merit given the Director General’s track record. His is a blend of experience as a government employee tampered with knowledge of the country’s security needs and with the requisite network in international circuits to swing things the way of Nigeria.
The question then is whether such level of sterling competence should be ignored by a desire to comply with Federal Character principle or sacrificed in pursuit of a noxious political agenda. Nigeria is bigger than any of the stakeholders in this matter and it is the interest of the country above all others and not that of people in search of slots to place their marionettes and create new conduits to national treasury.
The great nations Nigeria aspires to surpass did not become strong by undermining their foreign intelligence agencies neither do they subject them to becoming subject of discourse by the uninformed. They are treated with the deserving reverence for institution that are equivalent of a country’s jugular, never to be toyed with.
Rather than engaging in a futility that would only further undermine Nigeria’s interests with other nations, people should rather applaud President Muhammadu Buhari, whose appointment into security agencies have shown he has a grip on security hence the results recorded under his leadership. What is needed is not antagonism of Mr. President or his appointees but to give him the backing necessary to perfect the foundation for a Nigeria that will truly be a world power house.
*Agbese contributed this piece from the United Kingdom.
0
Read More
Is Buhari Still The Man Of The People?
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Okanga Agila*

The letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo asking President Muhammad Buhari not to contest the 2019 election is one of the most misinterpreted missives in the Nigerian political climate.

Again, it shows that much as the polity has been awash with political tricks and subterfuges, that only few could discern the deeper meaning of each political development aside the mob approach and its literal application.

When Prof. Wole Soyinka wrote his popular play, Death and the Kings Horseman, his major worry was that the context would be lost in the lazy conclusion that its thematic agenda was to exemplify a clash in culture whereas it’s deeper meaning lies in the implication of having a man failing to stand in the gap for his people.

When the former President fired what he thought was a missile against the current president, unlike Soyinka, he was pleased that Nigerians have as usual failed to read between the lines to understand the contextual collocation of the missive, what informed its authorship and why it drew the conclusion it did.

For starters, let us compare the letter Obasanjo wrote to then President Goodluck Jonathan and with the one he sent to Buhari.
In the case of the former, Obasanjo made it clear that he was withdrawing his support for Jonathan.

But in the case of Buhari, he did not stop at saying he was withdrawimg his support, but went further to advance the counsel that the president should not contest in 2019.

The reason for this, is not far fetched. In the case of Jonathan, Obasanjo knew that his withdrawal of support is synonymous to the defeat of Jonathan as Jonathan apart from the motley cheer crowd restricted to his part of the country, had no structures to put him in clear lead without the support from Obasanjo and his retired military king-making class.

He knew that all he had to do was to personify the disaffection with the then existing order and all other things would fall into place; and that was exactly what happened!

But in the case of Buhari, he knew he had to go beyond that because the determining factors go beyond Obasanjo and the clique. The support base for Buhari lies with masses and the down trodden. His strength did not emanate from an elite endorsement but rather the elites endorse him for fear of the masses.

This, Obasanjo unobtrusively admits when he offered the advice that Buhari should not contest

Read between the lines: if Obasanjo was sure that Buhari could be defeated by the mere expression of disapproval or discontent by the clique he represents, he would not have wasted his ink beyond telling him he is no longer with him or even if he had wanted to say something beyond that, would have warned of the consequences of the embarking on that course of action.

But we see an appeal neatly tucked in a letter of hostility.

The reason for this is simple.

Obasanjo knows that the greatest political force in Nigeria today remains PMB and that as far as followership and massive support are concerned, that the current Presodent of Nigeria has no equal.
Even before he became president, Buhari has amassed a cult like foloweship especially in the northern part of the country that till date has not been rivaled by any.

In the all the elections he contested, he has never polled less than six million and this is above the voting population in some regions of the country.

This was what made him the beautiful bride of the 2014/2015 coalition that threw him up as the presidential candidate of the APC because leaders of the coalition reasoned that with him, they have at least 10 million votes en bloc.

After Buhari became president, his acceptance by the Northern population has soared as he has was able to handle the problem of insurgent which the immediatel past administration proved incapable of handling.

He has also mobilized funds in a presidential initiative to rebuild the North eastern part of the country. All these have made him more popular in the region.

President Buhari has also not rested on his oats but has moved to strike further advantages in places where he was thought not to be welcome.

He gave choice positions in his cabinet to people from the South east and started the construction of the second Niger bridge.

The result of the last governorship election in Anambra State has shown that the APC has become the alternative party in the South east pushing away the PDP to a third place position.

Further than that, the APC through Buhari has raised new sets of leaders in the South South like Rotimi Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole who are no push overs in the politics of the area and are only biding their time to deliver.

In the South west, the retention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his intelligent interventions on national issues has made the zone impenetrable to other political forces and has reinforced the alliance with the Tinubu political camp.

Old man Obasanjo realized all these and he knew that the only thing that can stop Buhari is Buhari himself that was why unlike Jonathan, he did not dare him to contest but says ‘please don’t.’

The fact is, Buhari has remained the quintessential man of the people whose turf is beyond the conspiracy of a few elites.

*Agila wrote in from Benue State

0
Read More
Africa need to be recolonized, but this time by Africans themselves.
January 24, 2018 | 1 Comments

By  Gareth Morris*

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Unfortunately corruption and bad leadership in Africa is not just caused by greed, it’s also coming from the failure of other African leaders in the past who had good intentions and wanted to develop their country and create a prosperous life for their people but end up becoming a target of the west who would assassinate them like Patrice Lumumba.

So to keep themselves safe they avoid following those leaders and work with the west to exploit Africa. And with the failure of Zimbabwe’s economy after Mugabe tried to do the right thing, many African leaders are afraid of following him so their country can be freed from white control.

Plus with the growing influence China now have in Africa, many African leaders are now slaves to foreign power and even if they wanted to put the interest of Africans first, they can’t.

So as you can see, it has become impossible to depend on Government leaders in Africa to put their fellow Africans first so Africans can live a happy prosperous life because of the increasing influence different foreign powers have in Africa today.

This problem is not unique to Africa. Globalization has given richer countries power and control over poorer ones which make it difficult for poorer countries to develop.

So in order to stop foreign powers from exploiting Africa so that Africans can start benefiting from Africa’s resources, Africans will have to take control of their countries by taking control of their Government leaders.

Just like how people from other countries are able to take control of our Government leaders and assassinate them whenever they refuse to do what they want, we Africans are able to do the same as well to get what we want.

So in order for Africa and Black countries worldwide to strive, we need Pro Black Pan Africans to be in control of the Government, military and economy.

That can easily be accomplished by creating an organization run by Pro Black Pan Africans who’s job is to hold Government leaders responsible and punish them when they fail to do the right thing.

With such an organization, Africans and their countries would be protected from corruption, exploitation and other problems.

We also need an organization similar to the CIA and MOSSAD of Israel to protect the interest of Africa and Africans worldwide from foreign powers. Everyone have an organization to protect their interest, so why shouldn’t we as well?

*Gareth Morris and I’m a 27 year old entrepreneur from Jamaica. He identifies humself as a Pan Africanist who’s goal is to empower fellow Africans though knowledge so they can free and protect themselves for oppression. The views expressed are his

0
Read More
Suggestion for Business in Zimbabwe and Liberia
January 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Dr G.K. Busch*

Background:

Emmerson-Mnangagwa has been working towards economic reforms in Zimbabwe

Emmerson-Mnangagwa has been working towards economic reforms in Zimbabwe

Both Zimbabwe and Liberia have just undergone a major transition in the construct of their internal political arrangements. In both cases the new leaders have the support of the industrialised world. They are anxious to see a return of functional businesses in the two countries and are willing to invest and stabilise the economies.

The major hurdles for this re-engagement with Zimbabwe and Liberia is that the structures of the economic models which have been in place need change and an improvement in the transferability of the currency into a ‘normal manner of exchange ‘which will take time as will the development of confidence in the stability of the adaptation by the international community.

There will be a time lag between good intentions and the development of a macro-economic model in the countries which will satisfy international criteria. However, for many of the citizens in the countries time is of the essence.

Concomitant with the economic decline which has preceded the changes in government has been a concomitant decline in the internal infrastructure of the countries and its international transport links. These problems must be solved on a national or regional level. But for the smaller businessman, health professional, farmer, food processor there is an urgent need to acquire modern technology to get started on the new opportunities. Most do not have the capital to do so; most don’t have lines of credit at banks which will allow them to borrow to buy new equipment; most don’t have access to facilities for the repair, maintenance and insurance of this equipment even if they could acquire it. Still less can they afford the transport costs of importing the equipment from overseas.

A Possible Solution

This market is best served by the lease of this equipment from a domestic leasing company, in association with the new government initiatives. The markets in North America and Europe are full of used tractors, dentist chairs, medical equipment, irrigation pumps and fittings, earthmovers, and the hundreds of other pieces of kit which will be required in Africa. For the most part their value has already been amortised over a five-ten-year period in their own markets, so they can dispose of the equipment at the depreciated price; probably with an additional tax relief on the sale if it is destined as international aid. These can be rehabilitated before their sale and collections of spare parts and replaceables included.

These can be sold to leasing companies in Zimbabwe and Liberia whose ability to purchase the items will be facilitated by a sovereign guarantee from the appropriate Ministry to the seller, guaranteeing the lease; with the recourse of ownership if the leasing company does not perform. The leasing company will be responsible for leasing the equipment to government-approved clinics, dental facilities, farm co-ops, etc. It will also set up training schemes for African workers and technicians who will maintain and support the equipment on lease. The doctors, engineers, farmers and dentists will pay the lease on the equipment to the leasing company; offsetting the cost of the lease by the value of the output of the use of the equipment.

The Advantages:

The main advantages are in getting needed, modern equipment to the countries as quickly as possible, allowing the end -users without a lot of cash or credit, to acquire the machinery on a lease basis; allowing the government to implement its outreach into the economy by underwriting the credit needed for the acquisition and transport of the equipment by issuing a sovereign guarantee to the transaction; by training a domestic cadre of maintenance specialists and technicians as part of the lease provision; and by maintaining spare parts and replacements in the country. For many international aid programs in Europe and North America it will be a simple and valuable method of aiding these countries by subsiding the transport of these goods to Zimbabwe and Liberia.

It is also a model which can be used across Africa.

0
Read More
Gov. Okorocha: Of tyranny and discontent
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chido Onumah

Rochas Okorocha

Rochas Okorocha

A very significant event—a peaceful mass protest against the misgovernance and mindless plunder of Imo State by Mr. Rochas Okorocha—took place in Owerri exactly a month ago, on Monday, December 18, 2017. It was organized by the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy (IPAD), a coalition of civil society and professional groups in Imo State. It didn’t get much media traction, not because it didn’t deserve national media attention. Part of the problem is the character of the Nigerian media. The other explanation was the concerted effort by Mr. Okorocha and his goons, aided by the Nigeria Police, to suppress the protest.

By the morning of the protest, radio stations in Owerri were running bulletins, issued by the Nigeria Police, claiming that the protest had been called off because the police had declared it illegal. That declaration was, of course, not only patently false but illegal considering that the Nigerian constitution guarantees citizens freedom of thought and expression.

Not trusting their own propaganda, Mr. Okorocha and the police rolled out tanks, deployed various security outfits and laid siege to Owerri, searching vehicles coming into the city centre for protesters. Their machinations, and the massive security presence, notwithstanding, citizens of Imo State came out to show their displeasure with Mr. Okorocha’s harebrained polices. Expectedly, the police confronted the protesters, firing tear gas, attacking those who refused to disperse and confiscating banners and placards.

Interestingly, on the same day, Mr. Okorocha’s myrmidons, suborned by a vicious and clueless chief executive, gathered at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), Owerri, with full security protection, singing and dancing, to show their “support” for a man desperate for acceptance and approval even with the national opprobrium his time as governor has drawn.

A day before, as I distributed leaflets about the protest at an anti-imperialist youth camp organized by Social Action in Owerri, one of the young people I met informed me that the Imo State government had made available two million naira (N2,000,000) for youth from all the local governments in the state to dissuade them from joining the protest.

The responsibility of “sharing” the largesse fell on Onwueyiagwu Valentine who was just two weeks old on the job as commissioner for youth development.  The young man in question told me, in an appealingly irreverent way, that when he and his mates were summoned by the obviously edgy commissioner, he had no inkling that he was going to convey Mr. Okorocha’s message that the youth should be paid to put the kibosh on the protest. He said his share of the money was three thousand naira (N3,000) and that he collected it to cover his transportation. He assured me he would participate in the protest. This is just an insight into how far a desperate Mr. Okorocha went to deny Imolites their right to protest his malfeasance.

The December 18, 2017, protest was significant for three reasons: one, it laid to rest the myth that the tyranny of Mr. Okorocha could not be challenged; two, it showed the incestuous, and profitable, relationship between Mr. Okorocha and the Nigeria Police Force in Imo State headed by Mr. Chris Ezike, the state police commissioner; three, it marked the beginning of what would be a long-drawn-out battle to reclaim Imo State and rescue it from the grips of a grotesque mediocrity, to use Karl Marx’s apt description of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. I shall return to this third point.

Anyone who has taken, even a cursory, interest in happenings in Nigeria, will be piqued by the actions of the menace called Rochas Anayo Okorocha, the governor of Imo State. Two years after he took office on May 29, 2011, he orchestrated the impeachment of his then deputy, Jude Agbaso, by the State House of Assembly, on allegation of corruption. Okorocha installed his sidekick and chief of staff, Eze Madumere, as deputy governor.

For Imolites who had gone through a string of ineffectual governors—including Okorocha’s predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, himself a devious administrator—the emergence of Mr. Okorocha in 2011 was a testament to the beauty of democracy and the power of the people. Mr. Okorocha’s antecedents did not qualify him to run a local government much less a state. His “fame” derived from what Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, describes as being an “appendage of power.” A semi-literate political freeloader who has toyed with the idea of running for president several times, Mr. Okorocha promoted himself as a “successful businessman and education philanthropist.” In April 2011, he “won” a highly controversial election marred by irregularities and became the fourteenth governor of Imo State since its creation in 1976.

Let it be clear, some of those who oppose Mr. Okorocha today supported him a few years ago. They thought, then, that considering his so-called rag to riches story, Mr. Okorocha could empathize with the harried citizens of the state. Imolites were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a succession of depraved governors. It didn’t take long before Mr. Okorocha proved that governorship of Imo State was beyond his pay grade.

In a recent interview with Tell magazine, Mr. Okorocha noted: “My ideas drive me crazy.” He wasn’t speaking figuratively. Going by his own insane admission, there is no other way to describe his stewardship other than pure madness. Mr. Okorocha has embarked on the most reckless anti-people programmes Imolites have witnessed. He has demolished markets, displacing poor market men and women without providing succour. Civil servants are owed backlog of salaries and when they are paid, they are only given a percentage of their salary. Same for pensioners. He runs the finances of Imo State without recourse to the State House of Assembly. In an October 14, 2016, petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, a group, Concerned Citizens of Imo State noted, among other things, that Mr. Okorocha had destroyed the civil service in the state and rendered it ineffective.

According to the group, “The first thing he did after he took office was to publicly announce: ‘I do not believe in the use of files or in due process. Due process is due corruption; whenever I wake up, I move where my mind directs me.’ The governor makes appointments bypassing the state Civil Service Commission and with no regard for competence. Workers in the state civil service are the worst hit. Permanent secretaries, directors and professionals like doctors, engineers, architects and surveyors are mere spectators, even in areas where their specialty and experience are most needed. Their jobs have been taken over by Okorocha’s surrogates.”

Indeed, Mr. Okorocha’s mind has been directing him to all kinds of inanities. A few years ago, he woke up and his mind directed him to pull down the central library—an edifice older than Imo State and one which, as an undergraduate at the University of Calabar three decades ago, was a refuge for me and many in my generation and beyond—to construct what has turned out to be his personal cathedral.

Recently, not being able to pay civil servants, notwithstanding the billions of naira from the federal government to meet that obligation, Mr. Okorocha woke up one morning and his mind directed him to declare a three-day work week. He asked civil servants who were owed months of salary arrears to take up farming to make up for the unpaid wages. His latest idle fancy is erecting statues in Owerri. And Mr. Okorocha’s statues don’t come cheap as he gleefully told Channels TV in an interview a few weeks ago. He recently commissioned one, amid national outrage, of the certified rogue president, Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

Back to the issue of reclaiming Imo State. Today, the state has become the Okorocha fiefdom. For Mr. Okorocha, democracy simply means government of the Okorochas by the Okorochas and for the Okorochas. Last month, he announced his younger sister, Ogechi Ololo (nee Okorocha)deputy chief of staff for internal and domestic affairs—as commissioner for “happiness and couples’ fulfillment,” and later, “purpose fulfilment.” He has no compunction naming public buildings after his family members. His father-in-law, Prof Anthony Anwukah, a former secretary to the state government under Mr. Okorocha, and now the junior minister of education, is the minister representing Imo State in the Federal Executive Council.

A few days before the December 18 protest, Uche Nwosu, ex-personal assistant, lapdog, and son-in-law of Mr. Okorocha, and currently his chief of staff, launched what was clearly his 2019 governorship campaign, leaving no one in doubt that the son-in-law is being primed to replace the father-in-law; a grand tragedy set to be replaced by a rotten farce, to paraphrase Friedrich Engels. Regrettably, some members of the do-nothing Imo State House of Assembly have already endorsed this caricature.

There is so much a people can endure. It is comforting that the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy has declared 2018 a year of rage! Now that the heat is on, those who aspire to lead Imo State in 2019 must stand up and be counted.

*Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Follow him on Twitter @conumah

0
Read More
1 2 3 4 5 25