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The new scramble for Africa
July 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Bukar Usman*

“THE scramble for Africa” has been a continuous project since the era of the slave trade, although the phrase is usually used to refer to the 19th century partition of Africa among the great European powers. That partitioning of the continent, supervised by Britain and Germany at the Berlin Conference of 1885, was the culmination of their undisguised competition for Africa’s human and natural resources which European powers exploited as they liked in every African entity they had colonised. Even after Africa’s political independence, which for some countries was bloody and throughout the Cold War era – which saw the United States and the then Soviet Union leading distinct ideological blocs – the economic domination continued. But there is now a new race for Africa and it is hot and significantly different from the old race. This brief article is aimed at drawing attention to the nature and scope of this unfolding phenomenon.

Global awareness of this new race was stepped up by the publication in 2011 of Pádraig Carmody’s 256-page book, The New Scramble for Africa. Carmody traced the foundation of this new scramble for the resources of Africa to the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) of the World Bank and IMF, which essentially required African countries to privatise public enterprises and withdraw subsidies even from essential commodities before they could attract foreign loans and favourable trading conditions with the Western world. Many African countries fell into the trap, became indebted, devalued their currencies supposedly to stimulate exports, but ended up being poorer than they were before their SAP programmes.

It should be noted that during the SAP-regime era, the U.S. was the capitalist world’s superpower and had become interested in Africa mainly because of its mineral resources, especially crude oil, but partly for ideological reasons. So, a joint U.S.-Europe coalition, incorporating new powers like Japan, and operating under different protocols and conventions – such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD superintended the devastation of African economies, thereby making them even more vulnerable to external control and domination.

As Western countries were celebrating the collapse of the Soviet bloc and spinning the new ICT-driven ideology of “globalisation” as they moved into the former communist countries scouting for economic opportunities, new economic superpowers such as China, India and Brazil identified SAP-undermined Africa as an area of strategic interest and swooped on the continent. Before the West realised it, these countries had entrenched themselves and become formidable trading partners in many African countries. They also succeeded in cornering the plum contracts and playing leading roles in the exploitation of valuable mineral resources.

The case of South Africa illustrates the trend in many African countries. According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, “Nearly a fifth (17.2 per cent) of goods imported by South Africa came from China. Germany is in second place (11.2 per cent) with the U.S. in third place on 7.4 per cent, according to figures from the CIA World Factbook, which does not register the figures for Britain. China heads the lists of South African exports – 10.3 per cent. Britain is fifth on 5.5 per cent behind the U.S. (9.2 per cent), Japan (7.6 per cent) and Germany on 7 per cent.”

These new non-Western economic superpowers are now believed to be Africa’s biggest trading partners at a time of global economic recession. The West is now playing second fiddle to these new players, and are racing to catch up with them, especially in the mining and control of critical minerals needed to power today’s technologies.

This new scramble for Africa’s resources is already engendering conflicts across the region. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where copper and diamonds have inspired wars and mayhem, there is currently intense competition and militia rivalries over the mining and sale of coltan, a critical raw material used in mobile phones and electronic devices. The battle over uranium, used in feeding nuclear reactors, continues to be at the root of conflicts in Niger. The connection between conflict and foreign exploitation of mineral resources can be drawn with respect to other countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Recent pronouncements by world economic and political leaders leave no one in doubt that Africa is greedily eyed as the land of opportunities. It is being extolled as place where the greatest economic return on investment is made. Some fear that with the recent successive discoveries of substantial reserves of oil in Ghana, Uganda, Niger, Zambia, Chad and Equatorial Guinea, Africa might experience new round of conflicts.

Most of these conflicts are provoked by the environmentally unfriendly exploitation of the oil resource by the International Oil Companies (IOCs), which are strongly supported by the big economic and political powers of the world. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and even OPEC, facilitate access to these resources through rules and regulations formulated to favour the global economic and political powers. They invented and floated the concept of “globalisation” to mask the exploitative and unbalanced nature of the current world economic structure.

Africa must be mindful of the disastrous effects of the old scramble for its resources in order to avoid the negative consequences of the current scramble. African leaders must ensure that these new “partners” coming to “promote trade in Africa” do not play one African country against another or one section against the other.

We should remember that during the “Partition of Africa”, communities and tribes were split across the imposed artificial borders, thus sowing the seeds of the festering wars, which have continued to cost the continent human lives and resources. Current conflicts in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi region as well as the Sudan and Uganda, easily come to mind. Conflicts over resource control across Africa is a major issue African leaders must proactively tackle before the new resource contenders promote conflicts to aid their unhindered exploitation of such resources.

The new scramble for Africa’s energy, natural resources, investment and contract opportunities, which has been heightened by the prevailing depressed global economy, might be reminiscent of the old scramble, but it does offer Africa a choice it didn’t have in the 19th century – a choice it misused during the late 20th century. African countries are today politically independent. Most of them have been experiencing self-rule since the late 1960s, long before SAP. Why did they fall into the SAP trap? African countries can lay the rules for the new scramble for their resources. The question is: will visionless leadership, corruption, and mass poverty allow troubled African countries to peacefully and confidently do so?

• Usman is a former Permanent Secretary in the Presidency of Nigeria, Abuja.Piece was originally published at http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

 

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Africa: Pascal Lamy, Director-General, World Trade Organisation
July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Adam Robert Green*,

History has cast a long shadow over Africa’s trade performance, argues Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organisation. Colonial patterns of trade prevented colonised countries benefiting from their comparative advantage in low cost labour. Africa’s trade profile has not changed much over the last half century – it remains dominated by fuel and minerals, and mostly flows along North-South channels rather than regionally.

Neither implies chronic poor performance. Brazil’s trade is also commodity-driven, and the rise of the Brics suggests the predominance of North-South trade is not likely to be the prevailing model going forward. What matters for Africa’s share of global trade are the choices of today’s political and business elites. Mr Lamy claims political energy is key.

“Where there is more energy, there are more results,” he argues, describing the East African Community as “ahead of the curve” with leaders who – while not agreeing on all trade issues – share a common conviction that deepening trade is a regional priority. “If I take central Africa and ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States), for the moment there is less political energy.”

Fixing the leaks

Trade liberalisation is a political hot potato, as domestic businesses fear being undercut by more efficient foreign producers. Mr Lamy believes businesses in Africa tend not to lobby for trade openness with the same intensity as those in Europe and the US, as well as Asia and Latin America. The reason, he argues, is that entrepreneurship is in a “pre-emergence” phase in Africa, and people running businesses have enormous day to day challenges, meaning they “have other fish to fry” rather than shaping policy or producing research advocacy in favour of trade changes. However, he points to the existence of a new generation of business leaders with a totally different mindset to the older generation of rent-seekers. While younger business people do appear more economically liberal than their predecessors, the claim that business communities in the West are pro-openness could be contested, of course. The agricultural lobbies in the EU and US, for example, are among the most powerful pro-protectionist blocs anywhere.

Trade reform need not only entail confronting politically difficult changes such as tariff levels or import restrictions. Much trade facilitation can be enabled by doing away with pointless and cumbersome bureaucracy. Even as mundane a tweak as ensuring customs offices in neighbouring countries are open during the same hours can improve process efficiency. Good choices on regulations and standards can also engender real results. “Where has Brazil been most successful?” asks Mr Lamy. “It is in areas like poultry. Does Brazil have a big comparative advantage in poultry? Not especially. The determining factor was when they adopted proper sanitary and phytosanitary standards from the beginning. That is what has driven it. Africa can do that.”

At the World Economic Forum on Africa 2012 in Addis Ababa, Africa’s potential to become a major food exporter was frequently cited, with some delegates predicting this could happen within a decade. “I am convinced Africa will become a net food exporter,” Mr Lamy says. “First, Africa was a net food exporter 30 years ago. There are reasons why it has changed, including rapid growth of the population – because intake per head is what matters.”

Today, changing dynamics in the global economy are working in Africa’s favour. “We know that for 20 years to come we have this structural imbalance between supply and demand. Demand is growing more rapidly than supply, mainly because of nutritional transition. Protein intake grows with your level of revenue and inevitably this creates more demand on protein output. And there are a number of reasons why supply only adjusts very, very slowly. There is not as much land available elsewhere as in Africa. So I am convinced it will happen.” He adds that Africa’s domestic agricultural market is huge, and will probably see the fastest growth.

New models

Structural change in the global economy may also necessitate new tools for measuring trade flows, argues Mr Lamy. The rise of “multi-localisation” – where a given export contains more and more inputs from other locales – means bilateral trade flows are now a misleading indicator of trade intensity.

“The way we measure trade in gross volumes is becoming more and more detached from reality because to produce the same thing today you have three times more trade than in the past, just because production is multi-localised. Each time something crosses the border the full value of the product is attributed to the country.”

Statistically, this makes it look as though a country has a higher trade intensity than is the case. “They are trading a lot, but what matters is not how much they trade, but how much value addition they create through participation in global value chains, because that is what jobs are about.”

Bilateral measures of trade flows can lead to a view of imports as bad, and exports as good “which is economically nonsense”, he argues. A new measure would posit the more interesting question: “How much do I need to import in order to leverage my comparative advantage on the global market?” To provide the data, the WTO is partnering with universities, other international organisations and statistical institutes. The task is long and technically complicated, but it is vital, says Mr Lamy.

“I think it is an important potential contribution to a proper public debate about trade which, when it is focused on bilateral balances, has absolutely no meaning. The US-China trade imbalance is divided by two if you measure it in value added. This is mostly because the import content of Chinese exports to the US is much bigger than the import content the US exports to China. It is half as imbalanced as it looks, if you weigh the trade of value addition on both sides instead of these volumes of trade. That seriously impacts the public debate.”

This new approach does not change the fact that China has an overall trade surplus and the US has a trade deficit, but it will “focus the debate on what really matters for public opinion, which is jobs”, he says. “Take the famous European debate – Germany imports much more than France, but Germany exports much more than France. The reason Germany exports much more than France is because it imports much more than France. And the moment you start looking at things this way, this will lead to a better, more informed debate about trade policy and the impact of international trade on your economic and social fabric.”

Direction on Doha

As head of one of the most important global economic institutions, Mr Lamy is tasked with driving forward a long-stalling worldwide trade deal, now in its 11th year. The ‘Doha Round’ is bedevilled by arduous debate and dispute, endless textual cul-de-sacs and more than occasional public denouncements. With India, the US and China all entering elections or political transitions, willingness to concede ground may be weaker this year and next than previously. Mr Lamy believes a deal can be signed, but acknowledges that trade rounds may need to be pursued differently in future.

“Eighty percent of the job is on the table, that hasn’t changed, but the problem is that the 20 remaining percent block the remaining 80 percent, because of the principle that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. That is where we got stalled, which everybody recognises now,” he explains. “There is a strategy we [have been] testing since the end of last year which involves unpacking some of the issues – notably trade facilitation which is a very complex technical agreement treaty, which has a priority and which doesn’t normally entail this big geopolitical conundrum between countries such as the US and China.”

Issues such as pre-shipment inspection and customs procedure – “huge and incredibly technical issues” – have to be standardised at an international level, he claims, and the benefits from doing so could be huge. “The cost of moving trade today worldwide is roughly 10 percent [of trade value]. The purpose of this agreement is to bring this down to 5 percent. The economic impact of this sort of streamlining of red tape and standardisation is roughly 5 percent of the value of trade, which is an enormous amount of money.”

When asked if the next trade round will be structured differently, he is in no doubt: “Yes, I think so. The sort of method we are taking, where you bundle together twenty topics, is the one used in the Uruguay Round. But the number of countries who are now active in the negotiation to promote defensive and offensive interests is such that it is probably too complex. We probably have to consider going back to more sectoral agreements, although the virtue of a single undertaking is ‘give and take’ whereas if you have a sectoral agreement it is difficult to get balanced results of give and take.”

It remains to be seen whether Mr Lamy himself will see the deal conclude. His term of office ends next year, and there are rumours he may be in line for a post in French politics.

*Culled from AllAfrica.com

 

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Obama on Africa: Speak nicely and use good spy planes
June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

New US Africa strategy emphasizes economic development while covertly the military gathers intelligence.

By Andrew Meldrum*

BOSTON — US President Barack Obama’s Africa policy was unveiled yesterday: Speak nicely and use spy planes.

Obama’s official line is that the United States will help Africa become the world’s next big economic success story. The covert surveillance part came separately, in a good piece of investigative reporting.

Obama’s new Africa strategy, launched Thursday, spells out how the administration plans to spur economic growth through trade and investment and to strengthen democracy.

“As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community and to the United States in particular,” said Obama.

Billed as a sweeping new strategy for US involvement in sub-Saharan Africa, the document is more like a list of the Obama administration’s successes in the continent so far and a promise to do more to boost economic development.

There is one glaring omission. The new policy does not specifically mention the security threat posed by the rapid spread of Islamic extremists, allied to Al Qaeda, in Mali, Nigeria and Somalia.

Don’t worry. The US government is not oblivious to that growing danger but the details of how it is battling the militants are absent from Obama’s new document. However, a riveting expose of how the US has established a secret intelligence operation across Africa, including a network of small air bases used to spy on possible terrorist activities, is in a Washington Post story, published Thursday.

Taken together, Obama’s new directive on Africa and the investigation into the US military’s covert surveillance network, give a fuller picture of the administration’s policy toward the continent.

When Obama took office, in January 2009, there were high hopes that the first African-American president would bring special attention to the continent.

That has not happened. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been busy attending to foreign policy crises including the dramatic Arab Spring upheavals in Libya, Egypt and Syria, as well as the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the troubles posed by Iran and North Korea.

It was clear from the beginning of his term that Obama was not going to lavish special favors on Africa. Instead he has offered a kind of tough love to the continent, in which incentives are given for good democratic behavior and productive economic policies.

Obama’s new strategy for Africa highlights the administration’s accomplishments, including its efforts to resolve the conflict in Ivory Coast last year and to encourage reform in Kenya. In addition the US has provided important assistance to the UN’s mission in Somalia. That is bearing fruit as Al Shabaab has recently been pushed out of Mogadishu and other key Somali cities.

Obama’s Africa team did play an important role in achieving the independence of South Sudan, although that is not an unqualified success, as shown by the current turmoil on both sides of the border with Sudan. The US also provides important support to the hunt in central Africa for Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Obama’s other positive developments in Africa that are highlighted include the Global Health Initiative, food aid and the promotion of trade and investment. One of the most important efforts has been the continuation of the Bush administration’s emergency plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), which has proved to be an effective tool to curb the spread of HIV and provide treatment. Currently 3.8 million Africans are getting life-saving antiretroviral drugs and, by the end of 2012, that number will rise to 6 million, according to Obama’s document.

This is all good, but does not amount to a game-changing plan for Africa. Obama’s focus on economic development through trade and aid is seen as a response to China’s recent high-powered push into Africa. Bilateral trade between China and Africa has zoomed up to $120 billion in 2011, up from less than $20 billion in 2001, according to the French news agency AFP.

The US lags behind in bilateral trade with Africa at $82 billion in 2012, according to the office of the US Trade Representative.

A collective yawn greeted Obama’s Africa strategy. Africanists in Washington and beyond asked “what is new?” and said the document was long overdue and short on substance.

Much more interest was generated by the revelations in the Washington Post about the US military’s secret intelligence operations in Africa.

Intelligence on the Al Qaeda subsidiaries in Africa — Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in West Africa, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia — is being gathered by small, unarmed turboprop airplanes equipped with sensors that record video, monitor infrared heat patterns and collect radio and cell phone signals.

The small aircraft are not drones. They are old-fashioned airplanes flown by pilots and they gain little notice as they crisscross the continent’s trouble spots, according to Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock. The airplanes refuel at small bush airstrips and are stored in non-descript hangars at airports. One of the centers is Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in West Africa; others are in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. There are plans to establish a new base in South Sudan.

The intelligence gathered can then be used by African and UN troops to track down terrorist groups.

A model for the US military’s new strategy in Africa is the hunt for Kony and the LRA. The US is gathering intelligence from the spy planes and 100 US soldiers are helping African troops use that intelligence to track down Kony and other LRA bands. They caught one of Kony’s top deputies. This takes advantage of US technology and expertise while limiting the number of actual soldiers in combat.

The American surveillance of Kony is useful but there should be more, according to Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy advisor to the Enough Project.

“Deploying special forces advisers and spy planes to help find Joseph Kony is helpful, but it’s a fraction of what’s required for the mission to succeed,” Lezhnev told GlobalPost. “The LRA operate in a 115,000 square mile territory. A single plane is not nearly enough to be able to spot the groups. There need to be at least four planes, as well as additional helicopters to act on the intelligence, and improved civilian protection programs. European countries also need to step up and provide much better defection programs, so that LRA fighters can escape.”

Most likely the Obama administration did not want to advertise that it is operating spy planes in Africa, so it did not highlight this in its new strategy for the continent.

Beneath the Obama administration’s high-flown words about boosting Africa’s economic development, the government is also doing the muscular work needed to help strengthen the continent’s security. Some say it should be doing even more.

Culled from  http://www.globalpost.com

 

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One Year of Nigeria’s Goodluck: Nigerian Democracy Is Stable and the Future Bright Says Jonathan
June 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Fellow Nigerians,

1.  One year ago, I was privileged to stand before you, to take the oath of office as President of our dear country, the third to serve you as President since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

Today, I remember that day and the processes leading to it with profound gratitude to God Almighty and to all Nigerians who have worked very hard to enrich our journey from military dictatorship to inclusive democratic governance.

2.  For the past 13 years, we have remained a stable democracy. We have together demonstrated that the government of the people is an ideal that the people of Nigeria cherish. We have our differences as individuals and as politicians, but we have shown great faith in democracy and its institutions. We have refused to be limited by our differences. Despite reservations about some of our institutions, we have refused to submit to despair. This achievement is a testament to the courage and optimism of the Nigerian people.

3.  As we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, I pay tribute to all the men and women who have made our democratic experience meaningful: the ordinary people who resisted military rule, and have remained resolute in their embrace of democracy; the army of Nigerian voters who, at every election season, troop out in large numbers to exercise their right of franchise; the change agents in civil society who have remained ever watchful and vigilant.

4.  I pay special tribute also to all patriots who are the pillars of our collective journey, most especially, our armed forces who have steadfastly subordinated themselves to civil authority in the past 13 years. They have continued to demonstrate a great sense of professionalism. They have discharged their duties to the nation with honour and valour.  In a sub-region that has witnessed instances of political instability, authored by restless soldiers, the Nigerian Armed Forces have remained professional in their support of democracy.

5.  When General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over the baton of authority to President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, it was a turning point for Nigeria. We did not arrive at that turning point by accident. Many Nigerians laid down their lives for the transition to democracy to occur.  Some were jailed. Media houses were attacked and shut down. But the people’s resolve was firm and unshakeable.  This is what we remember. This is what we celebrate. On this day, I recall especially the martyrdom of Chief M. K. O.  Abiola, whose presumed victory in the 1993 Presidential election, and death, while in custody, proved to be the catalyst for the people’s pro-democracy uprising. The greatest tribute that we can pay to him, and other departed heroes of Nigeria’s democracy, is to ensure that we continue to sustain and consolidate our democratic institutions and processes, and keep Hope alive.

6.  Let us individually and collectively, continue to keep the spirit of this day alive. No task is more important. We must continue to do well as a people and as a democracy. We must remember where we are coming from, so we can appreciate how far we have travelled.

7.  When I assumed office as Acting President, in 2010, on account of the health challenges suffered by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was so much anxiety in the land. The tone of public debate was febrile. Some persons sought to use the situation in the country to sow the seeds of discord. My primary task at that time was to do all that was humanly possible to ensure stability within the polity. With the support and commitment of patriotic Nigerians from all walks of life, and the grace of the Almighty God, we were able to do so.

8.  On May 6, 2010, following President Yar’Adua’s death, I assumed office as substantive President. I subsequently presented myself as a candidate for the 2011 Presidential elections, with a promise that under my watch, the elections would be free, fair and credible. We kept faith with that promise. On May 29, 2011, I was sworn in as President, the fifth elected leader of Nigeria since independence. The success of the 2011 elections and the international acclaim that it generated was due to your patriotic zeal and commitment. I will like to seize this opportunity to thank all patriotic Nigerians who stood by us, and have remained unwavering in their support.

These Nigerians understand one thing: that we all have a duty to protect and promote our country, and that this country belongs to all of us. Electoral contest is about values. We must not lose sight of those values that strengthen us as a people. As long as I am President, I will do my utmost to continue to work hard in pursuit of the common good.

9.  There are challenges, yes, but we are working hard to address those challenges. And, by God’s grace, we will succeed. My confidence is bolstered by the results which we have achieved in different sectors within the last twelve months.

10.   Our democracy is stable. Its foundation is strong and firm. Its future is bright. Last year, I had spoken about the policy of “one man one vote, one woman, one vote, one youth, one vote”. I am glad to see that the Nigerian people in all elections have continued to respect the principle of fair play.  Since this administration came into office, we have gone to great lengths to strengthen our democratic institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission.  There are still persons who believe that elections should be violent and unhealthy, but they are in the minority. They will not derail our democracy because the majority of Nigerians will not allow them to do so.

11.  Following the spate of violence, in some parts of the country, after the 2011 elections, our administration set up a committee on post-election violence to among other things, investigate the causes and nature of electoral violence and make appropriate recommendations. We will be guided by the White Paper, on that committee’s report,  in dealing more firmly with electoral violence and fraud. This will include the establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunals to deal speedily with established cases of electoral violence. We cannot afford to treat the success we have recorded with our democratic experience with levity. Electoral reform is central to our administration’s transformation agenda. I urge all political parties to embrace this reform.

12.    Our successful elections, last year, opened new vistas for Nigeria’s foreign policy. More than ever before, Nigeria’s achievements have generated a lot of international goodwill and recognition. We have continued to build on this by further showing leadership in the sub-region and the African continent. Under my watch as Chairman of the sub-regional body, ECOWAS, and subsequently, Nigeria was in the forefront of the efforts to ensure democratic stability in Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau, and particularly at a critical moment in Cote d’Ivoire. Our foreign policy process has proven to be dynamic and pro-active. Nigeria’s place is secure among many friends in the comity of nations. We are building on that friendship to open up opportunities for foreign investments in the Nigerian economy and to provide necessary support for the vibrant community of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

13.   We will continue to work hard, to turn domestic successes into a source of motivation for greater achievements in the international arena. We are fully aware that it is only when our people are happy and confident that they would be in a good position to walk tall in relating with others.

14.   Today, I want to talk about what we are doing and what we have done. I want to reassure you that we are making progress. But we can also do a lot more. We must. And we will.

15.  Our economic outlook is positive. When I assumed office last year, there were still fears about the impact of the global economic recession, and implications for investments. Many Nigerians were worried about the growing rate of unemployment.  In order to set Nigeria on a sound and sustainable path toward economic growth, this administration unveiled a set of priority policies, programmes, and projects encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda.  These programmes and policies are aimed at consolidating our budget, fostering job creation, engendering private sector-led inclusive growth, and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive for the ultimate betterment of the lives of Nigerians.

16. Today, progress has been made. The country’s credit rating is positive, in contrast with many nations being downgraded.  In2011, our economy grew by 7.45%. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilized and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85% of GDP from 2.9% in 2011. We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74% to 71% and reduced domestic borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure and increased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion.

17.  For the first time in over a decade, we now have a draft Trade Policy which provides a multi-dimensional framework to boost our trade regime and facilitate the inflow of investments. We have generated over N6. 6 trillion worth of investment commitments. The total value of our trade is also much higher than the value estimated the previous year due to deliberate government policies. To facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, we have a policy in place to make visa procurement easier for foreign investors, with safeguards to prevent abuse.

18. The goal of our administration is to ensure that every Nigerian can find gainful employment. Given my dissatisfaction with the prevailing unemployment situation in the country, our administration has embarked on an ambitious strategy of creating jobs and job-creators through the launch of several initiatives mainly targeted at the youths and women.

19.    In October 2011, we launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria Programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurship and provide grants for small and medium scale enterprises. Over 1, 200 Nigerian youths have benefitted from this initiative. We have also launched the Public Works Women and Youth Empowerment Programme, which is designed to employ 370,000 youths per annum, with 30% of the jobs specially reserved for women. Let me make it clear here that our You WIN programme is designed to nurture and mentor young entrepreneurs to become major players, employers and wealth creators in business.

20.  We are gradually reducing the footprints of government in business activities through privatization, liberalization and deregulation based on our recognition that the private sector should be the engine of growth in our economy. To ensure that the private sector is well positioned for this task, our administration has embarked on key structural reforms in the Power Sector and at the Ports.

21.  To improve reliable power supply, our administration is judiciously implementing the Power Sector Roadmap, which is at an advanced stage, to fully privatize power generation and distribution while reducing the cost of electricity to rural households and the urban poor.

22.  The commitment of this Administration to the provision of regular and uninterrupted power supply remains strong and unwavering.  We all agree that adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger to enhance this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth.  It is for this reason that I remain optimistic that the reforms we have initiated, the decisions we have taken so far and the plans we intend to faithfully prosecute will yield the desired results.

23. To underline this commitment, three weeks ago, I convened a special session on Power and gave specific instructions on the fast tracking of gas production and delivery to ensure improved availability of power.   I also directed that the power sector reforms must continue on schedule and that privatization of the sector must be completed according to plan.

24.  Our approach is two-pronged:  First, is the immediate repair of power plants, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure in the short term.  The second is the building of institutions and the provision of enablers to attract investors. We have revived and are accelerating the completion of the National Integrated Power Projects. We are also building about 4000km of transmission lines and hundreds of sub stations. We have completed the design for the construction of both Mambilla and Zungeru Hydro power plants which will add about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.

25.  By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the end of 2011, we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. A National Gas Emergency Plan has also been launched to redress the problem of gas supply which are essentially due to poor planning.

26.  For long-term power availability, we have strengthened a number of key institutions such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Bulk Trader, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, and others.  We are also working with the World Bank to provide guarantees for gas and power providers.  The signing of MOUs with World Leaders in power equipment – General Electric of USA and Siemens of Germany as well as US  and China Exim Banks for financial investment, is a clear indication of the level of confidence which the world investment community has in our power sector road map.

27. In addition, the privatization programme has attracted expression of interest from 131 companies across the globe.  Our decision to bring in the private sector is clearly intended to achieve our target of generating and distributing sufficient and reliable power within the shortest time possible.  With the measures we have put in place, we will surely achieve success in transforming the power sector.

28.  We have also focused our efforts on Ports and Customs reforms to ensure efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Our administration has streamlined bureaucratic activities at the Ports by reducing the number of agencies from 14 to 7. We have also reduced the time for the clearance of goods from about a month, to seven days, with the long-term objective of ensuring that cargoes are cleared within 48 hours in line with international best practice. In the meantime, our ports, for the first time, now open for business for 24 hours.

29.  In the Oil and Gas Sector, our Administration has charted a new course that will ensure enduring transparency and accountability. We are re-drafting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all Stakeholders given the current realities and future expectations in the global energy landscape. Work on the PIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally submitted to the National Assembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing with Governance and Control, Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are finalizing their work to ensure probity across the oil and gas sector, and self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

30.   In the Downstream Sector, the Nigerian Content Development Act, since inception in 2010, has boosted the local production of line pipes, in-country fabrication tonnage and engineering support services. As a result, retained in-country spend has grown from approximately US $1bn to a current estimate of US$4bn, and over US$3 billion Foreign Direct Investment has been brought in for upgrading and building new yards, altogether generating over 120,000 direct and indirect jobs.

31.   Capacity utilization of existing domestic refineries has greatly improved from 30 to 60 percent. We have commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to 90 percent capacity utilization with the expected completion of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by Warri and Kaduna refineries in 2013.

32.   In the Upstream Sector, the April 2012 commissioning of the Usan Deep Offshore Field has increased crude oil production capacity by 180 thousand barrels per day. Also,Government continues to support the National Oil Company, NPDC, by assigning 55% equity in 8 divested blocks which has resulted in increase in reserves from 350 million barrels to 2.1 billion barrels and 160, 000 barrels of production. We have also made significant progress in gas infrastructure development, investing close toUS$1bn for the construction of some 1000km of pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gas industrialization.  Between now and the third quarter of 2013, Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) will be made on  gas-based industries, such as the petrochemicals and fertilizer plants at Koko, the Central Processing Units(CPF) in Obiafu/Obrikom, and the gas growth projects. Also, the sum of N11 billion is provided in the 2012 Budget for Hydro-Carbon exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.

33. The Gas Revolution initiative will fully support and sustain domestic power, whilst creating Africa’s largest gas based industrial park, which on completion will underpin the creation of over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investment.  To protect the gains of these initiatives for all Nigerians, we are aggressively addressing the increasing incidents of crude oil theft and other criminal activities in the sector.

34. As a deliberate move, our goal is to transform Nigeria from a mono-modal economy, to a diversified one. The sector that we are focusing onto diversify our economy – and one in which Nigeria has huge comparative advantage – is the agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of our GDP and over 70% of all employment. Increases in agricultural productivity will drive down rural poverty and revive our rural economy.

35.  In this regard, we are aggressively pursuing an agricultural transformation agenda. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. We are now treating agriculture as a business, one that can generate wealth and create jobs for millions of our youths.

36. We have implemented major reforms in the sector, notably in the fertilizer sub-sector. We have ended the practice of Federal Government procurement and distribution of fertilizers. This we did because only 11% of farmers get the fertilizers that are bought and distributed by government. The old system encouraged rent seekers to collude and deprive farmers of access to fertilizers, while some of the fertilizers ended up with political farmers and in neighbouring countries.

37. Now, the procurement and commercialization of fertilizers and seeds have been fully deregulated to the private sector.  We have ended the culture of corruption in fertilizer procurement.  We must also end the era of food imports. Nigeria spends over 10 billion dollars every year importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone. This is unacceptable.

38.  Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally produced crops. We are recording successes already. Government’s policy to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off. New rice mills are being established by the private sector to mill locally produced rice. Ebony Agro Industries located in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has rolled out its high quality parboiled rice. In Kano, Umza rice mill has taken off and can hardly meet demand, while in Benue State Ashi rice has hit the market. Consumers are buying more of Abakaliki and Ofada rice too.

39.  To further accelerate the local production and milling of high quality rice, government is facilitating the import and installation of 100 new large scale integrated rice mills across the country. This will allow Nigeria, for the first time in its history, to have the capacity to mill all of the rice that we consume.

40.  Our cassava policy is working, as we accelerate the pace ofutilization of cassava to create markets for millions of our farmers. Our goal is a bold one: we will make Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassava in the world, to also become the largest processor of high value cassava products in the world.

41. To further encourage cassava utilization and value-added products, government will support corporate bakers and master bakers across the country to use high quality cassava flour for baking. Last year I announced an increase in tariff and levy on wheat.

To encourage the cassava flour inclusion policy, I now direct that part of the levy and tariff on wheat be set aside to support the promotion of high quality cassava flour and composite cassava bread. This will include support for needed enzymes, technical training and equipment for corporate bakers and master bakers, as well as accelerated cassava production.

42.  We have also secured markets for cassava outside Nigeria, and for the first time ever, Nigeria will export this year 1 million metric tons of dried cassava chips to China. This will earn Nigeria 136 million US dollars in foreign exchange. Last week we also successfully started the commercial use of feed grade cassava grits, produced locally, for use in our poultry industry.

43.   We are reviving our lost glory in cocoa, with massive distribution of 3.6 million pods of high-yielding cocoa varieties for farmers all across the cocoa growing states of the country. The pods will be provided free of charge. We are reviving cotton production in the North, as well. I have directed that all seeds for cotton should be provided, free of charge, to all cotton farmers.

44.     Let me reiterate my personal passion and commitment to driving the agricultural transformation for Nigeria. The prosperity of Nigeria must start with improving the living standards of our farmers, and revitalizing rural economies across the nation. The newly inaugurated Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council, which I personally Chair, will further drive our continued revolution of the sector. Our goal is to add 20 million metric tons of food to our domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs. To achieve this, the appropriate infrastructure to support all-year round farming through irrigation is being rehabilitated and developed across the country.

45.  We must use our population to create markets for what we produce. We must grow local, buy local and eat local. To promote this, I have directed that all official functions of government serve local foods, especially our local rice and cassava bread and other foods. In the State House, I am faithfully keeping to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice.

46.  Our administration is committed to the rapid and beneficial development of our country’s Minerals and metals potential.  In the last year, we recorded remarkable achievements in Mines and Steel Development. We increased the number of investors in the mining sector due to the transparent manner in which titles are now issued on a “first come-first served and use it or lose it basis.”

A total of 2,476 active mineral titles were issued compared to 666 titles issued out in the previous year, thereby reducing, significantly, illegal mining activities. About 350, 000 additional jobs were created, arising from the activities of newly registered operators. We have initiated a programme to support private steel production outfits. This has resulted in an increase in production figures for steel and other metals to over 1 million tonnes.

47.  It is our collective desire as Nigerians to improve the standard of education. We are particularly aggressive in addressing this challenge. As a former school teacher, I know that it is not enough to create jobs; we must develop human capacity, and train a generation of Nigerian children with better competencies and skills. This will grant them the edge that they require to compete in a skills-driven global economy, and by extension, strengthen our national competitiveness index.

48.   I want every Nigerian child to have an opportunity to receive quality education and acquire useful skills. We are reforming the education sector from basic to tertiary level. The Federal Government recently launched the Almajiri Education Programme to reduce the number of out-of-school children which currently stands at about 9 million. Similar programmes will soon be introduced in various parts of the country. At the tertiary level, it is the policy of this administration that every State will have a Federal University.

49.  To this end, we have established within the last year, nine (9) new Federal Universities and licensed nine (9) new private universities, bringing the total number of universities in the country to 124. Even with this, there is still the challenge of getting adequate admission space for prospective undergraduates. While we are addressing this, the Federal Government is also conscious of the fact that our universities need to be better equipped, particularly with well trained teachers. Government is, therefore, working on a programme to provide scholarships for Nigerians who are interested in academics, to enable them obtain their Doctorate degrees within and outside the country.

50.  In addition, the Federal Government has launched a Special Presidential Scholarship Scheme for our best and brightest brains. We are selecting the best out of our First Class graduates in various disciplines, especially engineering and science. They will be sent for post-graduate studies in the best universities in the world, with the expectation that this will lay the foundation for a desirable scientific and technological revolution that will take Nigeria into Space in the not too distant future.

51.  One of the first steps taken by this administration was the creation of a Ministry of Communications Technology. Its mandate includes the design of programmes and initiatives to deploy ICT as a driver of sustainable growth and the training of skilled manpower. For our country to remain relevant, we need to adequately educate our people, as it is through education that we can turn our people into assets that can help Nigeria compete globally, and create jobs in the new knowledge economy.

52.  By the same token, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is providing training opportunities for the youths in the Niger Delta. In the past year, a total of 704 youths have been sent for training, abroad and locally, in various fields of endeavour, including agriculture, petroleum engineering, commerce, tourism, and maritime studies.  Nine skills centres are being built, one in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta; three of them will be completed this year.

53.   An efficient and affordable public transport system remains a priority of this Administration. Our transformation agenda in the road sector which seeks to deliver better and safer roads to Nigerians, as well as to link the six geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways, is very much on course. There has been increased construction activities in the ongoing dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Kano–Potiskum–Maiduguri Road; the Benin–Ore–Shagamu Expressway; the Onitsha–Enugu Expressway; and the construction of the Loko–Oweto bridge, across River Benue.

54.  Work has been slow on the East-West road due to budgetary constraints, but government will discharge all liabilities to contractors before the end of June, and funds for the remaining part of the year, will be provided to accelerate the pace of work. In other parts of the country, about 21 other road projects are in different stages of completion. These include the Yola–Numan road, Aba–Owerri road, Owerri–Onitsha expressway, Oyo–Ogbomosho old road, and the Gombe-Potiskum road. Many others are at different stages of completion.

55.  Government is also currently rehabilitating about 3,000 kms out of the3,505 km existing narrow gauge rail lines across the country. The Lagos-Kano corridor will be completed this year, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri corridor, which has equally commenced, will be completed by the end of2013.  We have also commenced the construction of the Abuja–Kaduna segment of the Lagos–Kano standard gauge rail lines, while the Lagos–Ibadan segment will be awarded this year. The Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warri standard gauge rail line is nearing completion with the entire tracks completely laid.

56.  To enhance sustainability in the rail sector, this Administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with General Electric (GE) to establish a locomotive assembly plant in the country. Our goal is to make Nigeria a major hub in West and Central Africa.

57. Within the last 12 months, we completed the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri (Delta State) to Baro (Niger State) to boost our inland water transportation. This year, work will commence on the dredging of the River Benue in addition to the construction of River Ports at Baro (Niger State), Oguta (Imo State), and Jamata/Lokoja, (Kogi State). The Onitsha River Port in Anambra State, equipped with modern cargo handling equipment, has been completed and I shall be commissioning the project in the next few weeks.

58.  The Aviation sector remains pivotal to our economic growth. Within the last year, we have developed a road map for the restoration of decaying facilities and infrastructure, some of which had not been attended to since they were first constructed over 30 years ago. Currently, we are renovating airports across the country and have begun the development of four new international terminals at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja.  We have also reviewed our Bilateral Air Service Agreements to ensure improved service delivery, and more customer-friendly processes. We are working to ensure that within the life of this Administration, the aviation sector in Nigeria will be transformed into a world class and self-sustaining provider of safe, secure and comfortable air transportation.

59.  Globally, the role of women in governance has assumed great significance. In Nigeria, it is also widely acknowledged that women who constitute about half of the Nigerian population are great and invaluable assets, in both the public and private spheres.  On our part, we have demonstrated serious commitment in further empowering women and projecting their role in public life. Out of the 42 members of the Federal Executive Council, 13 are women, heading major Ministries of Government.

60.  Last week, I appointed the first female Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission. In the Armed Forces, female cadets have been admitted into the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy, an institution that was hitherto an exclusive preserve of men. The first set will graduate in 2016.  This year, we reached a significant milestone as the Nigerian Air Force produced the first Nigerian female combatant pilot. Our administration will continue to empower women and the girl-child as a focal point of our Transformation Agenda.

61.  More than anything else, health matters.  We are upgrading the country’s tertiary health facilities to bring them up to international standards. We have increased funding for health-related MDGs. We are also committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality, and to eradicating polio completely by 2014.

62. I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remains committed to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In the last one year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenues for corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions.  For example, our ports reform programme has reduced the number of agencies at the ports which hitherto frustrated the speedy clearance of goods at the ports. We have also cleared the stretch of trailers and lorries blocking the Apapa Expressway. We have put an end to the fertilizer and tractor scam that once dominated the agricultural sector. Our review of the pension payment system has also blown the whistle on corrupt practices which are now being addressed.

63.   Within the last one year, we set up a committee to identify leakages and waste in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am confident that the implementation of the recommendations of that committee will help to eliminate corruption channels within the system, and improve the efficiency of the public service. In January, we announced a policy of deregulation in the downstream sector, but this was misunderstood by naysayers and reduced narrowly to a fuel subsidy removal initiative, whereas the policy was designed to completely eliminate the grand corruption in the downstream sector, and create the necessary incentives for private sector investment.

64.  We have strengthened the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both agencies are being re-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will continue to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance. We will also need the support of our courts. The courts have to do more.

65.  Terrorism, a new menace, totally alien to our way of life and culture, has reared its head and is posing a serious challenge.  My thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the terrorist attacks, and their families.

66.  As President, it is my solemn duty to defend the Constitution of this country.  That includes the obligation to protect life and property. We are doing everything possible to check the menace of terrorism.  In this regard, we are determined to review some of the existing laws, to further strengthen the national counter-terrorism strategy. Coordinated joint action among our security agencies has now assumed greater importance.  We have developed a new security architecture to strengthen the security environment.

67. I wish to reassure every Nigerian that we will confront this threat against our collective peace and security, and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will confront the few misguided persons who falsely believe, that through violence, they can impose their agenda of hate and division on this nation of good people. We must confront all those who think they can derail us by engaging in indiscriminate violence and mass murder, perpetrated in places of worship, in markets and public places, against the media, and security personnel. Nigeria is a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to the forces of darkness. Nigeria will never, ever, disintegrate.

68. Let me end this address at the point where I began. What matters most to all of us, is Nigeria. It is what binds us together. We have a duty to be loyal to our country. If we believe this to be a sacred obligation, it will not matter whether we are Christians or Muslims, or politicians, irrespective of political parties or divide. It really will not matter whether we are civil society agents, social activists or union leaders.  What matters is Nigeria. This nation exists because we are one. We must, therefore, remain as one family, and work together to defend our country.

69. Within two years, it would be exactly 100 years since the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated and Nigeria was born. We need a lot more introspection, even as we look forward. We must take steps to heal the wounds of the past and work together, as a people with a shared destiny under one flag. We must strengthen our collective memory, draw strength from our history, and build bridges of unity to take our country to greater heights.

70. This is what we should do. And we must. As a starting point, we must draw strength from our history and work to ensure that the labour of our heroes past is not in vain. It is partly for this and other reasons, that I have directed, as part of the activities marking today’s Democracy Day, that all due processes should be initiated for the building of a Presidential Museum in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. This Museum will document the lives and times of Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads of Government since 1960, and remind us, by extension, of the high points of our national history.

71. It is also in this regard that the Federal Government has decided that late Chief M.K.O. Abiola  be honoured,for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth. Destiny and circumstances conspired to place upon his shoulders a historic burden, and he rose to the occasion with character and courage. He deserves recognition for his martyrdom, and public-spiritedness and for being the man of history that he was.  We need in our land, more men and women who will stand up to defend their beliefs, and whose example will further enrich our democracy. After very careful consideration, and in honour of Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s accomplishments and heroism, on this Democracy Day, the University of Lagos, is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Moshood Abiola University, Lagos. The Federal Government will also establish an Institute of Democratic Studies and Governance in the University.

* NATIONAL ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, ON DEMOCRACY DAY,  MAY 29, 2012

 

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“Nigeria, One Year After Elections”
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

-World needs strong, vibrant and growing Nigeria

By Johnnie Carson*

A year ago today, Nigerians began casting ballots in the first of what would be four days of voting for legislators, governors, and a president.  Tensions were high.  Voting that had been scheduled one week before was abruptly canceled shortly after polls opened.  We

Carson and Goodluck Jonathan

Carson and Goodluck Jonathan

did not know for certain whether months of careful election preparation would result in a process Nigerians considered fair and credible or a rerun of the deeply flawed 2007 presidential elections.  Skeptics were everywhere and many said good elections in Nigeria were not possible.

Nigerians had a different idea.  They waited in line for hours.  They stuck around after the polls closed to ensure that every ballot was counted.  They monitored polling places and compilation centers by the thousands, and they sent text messages reporting any irregularities they observed.

The result was clear.  Nigeria conducted its most successful and credible elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999.  Despite obvious imperfections, these elections have given the country a solid foundation for strengthening its democratic institutions in the years ahead.

As a witness to those historic elections, I can vouch for the enthusiasm that Nigerians demonstrated towards these elections and their democratic rights.  Civil society groups across the country were actively engaged in the process, and on election day, diverse groups, including the Federation of Muslim Women, the Nigerian Bar Association, and the Transition Monitoring Group, joined together in a massive election monitoring effort called Project Swift Count

There was also a strong commitment on the part of the government to improve the election process.  Months before the election, a new and highly-regarded Independent National Electoral Commission Chair chairman was named, and the Nigerian government provided adequate funding to pay for the election process.  The new INEC Chair – Professor Attahiru Jega – made a good-faith effort to follow the law and register as many voters as possible and to organize the elections in a short time frame.

The April 2011 elections were clearly another step forward in Nigeria’s continuing democratization process, but more work has to be done to improve Nigeria’s electoral procedures and, more importantly, to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions and governance.

We all need to see a strong, vibrant and growing Nigeria – because what happens in Nigeria affects us all:  The United States, Africa, and the global community.  We cannot run away from the facts.  Nigeria is probably the most strategically important country in sub-Saharan Africa.  At about 160 million people, Nigeria is home to over twenty percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population.  It is the largest oil producing state in Africa, it is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and the tenth largest global producer.  It is home to the sixth largest Muslim population in the world, and it’s by far the largest country in the world with approximately equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.  In the United Nations, Nigeria is the fifth largest peacekeeping contributing country in the world.  And as the most influential and militarily powerful member of the Economic Community of West African States, Nigeria has played a key role in helping to resolve every major political and security dispute in West Africa from the Liberian and Sierra Leone crises in the 1990s to the political problems in Guinea, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, and I might add, Mali.  Nigeria is a dominant economic and financial force across West Africa, and if Lagos State were an independent country it would be the eighteenth largest country in Africa and its economy would be well within the top twenty in Africa.

Nigeria is important and a lot depends on Nigeria’s success.  That’s why Secretary Clinton inaugurated the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in 2010, providing the two countries with a high-level vehicle to work together on the most crucial issues we face.  We have supported Nigeria’s political and economic reforms, and we have tried to be a useful partner as it addresses its social, economic, and security challenges.  We provided technical assistance to support reform in the power sector.  We have taken a high-powered energy trade mission to the country and we have encouraged the swift passage of a strong Petroleum Industry Bill that brings more transparency to that critical sector.  We have recognized the importance of Nigeria’s agricultural sector and supported Nigeria’s comprehensive agriculture development plans.  And in the health sector, we have committed over $500 million a year to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, showing how critical we consider Nigeria in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton both recognize the importance of this relationship and both have met with and engaged with President Jonathan on a number of occasions over the past three years.  Later this week, Nigeria’s vice president will be in Washington and he is expected to meet Vice President Biden in the White House and with senior officials at the State Department.

Nigeria’s success is important to us, but we recognized that success cannot be achieved unless Nigeria overcomes the challenges that have frustrated its progress.  Decades of poor governance have seriously degraded the country’s health, education, and transportation infrastructure.  Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue, Nigeria has virtually no functioning rail system and only half of its population has access to electricity.  The 80 million who have electricity share intermittent access to power equivalent to what we use here in the Washington, DC metro area.  Living standards are the same today as they were in 1970, and nearly 100 million Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day.

Nigerians are hungry for progress and improvement in their lives, but northern Nigerians feel this need most acutely.  Life in Nigeria for many is tough, but across the North, life is grim.  A UN study shows that poverty in the 12 most northern states is nearly twice that of the rest of the country.  The health indicators reflect this.  Children in the far north are almost four times as likely to be malnourished.  Child mortality is over 200 deaths per 1000 live births, leading to lower life expectancy.  Educational standards are just as bad.  Literacy in the far north is 35 percent as opposed to 77 percent in the rest of the country.  Seventy-seven percent of women in the far north have no formal education, compared to only 17 percent in the rest of the country.  In northern Nigeria, primary school attendance is only 41 percent, while youth unemployment is extraordinarily high.  All of this contributes to joblessness and a deepening cycle of poverty.

The statistics are disturbing, but they are not the whole story.  Poverty in northern Nigeria is increasing.  Despite a decade in which the Nigerian economy expanded at a spectacular seven percent per year, the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics estimates that extreme poverty is 10 percent higher than in 2004.   It’s even worse in the North.  Income inequality is growing.  These trends are worrying for economic, political, and security reasons.

While ninety-one percent of Nigerians across the country considered the April 2011 elections to be fair and transparent, most people in the far north backed opposition candidates that did not win.

Boko Haram, corruption, economy, probes from Senate et al, a full plate for Nigeria’s Jonathan

Boko Haram, corruption, economy, probes from Senate et al, a full plate for Nigeria’s Jonathan

The post-election violence that occurred in several northern cities reflected strong dissatisfaction with elites who protestors thought controlled the election process.  Public opinion polls and news reports suggest that there is a strong sentiment throughout the country, but especially in the North, that government is not on the side of the people; and that their poverty is a result of government neglect, corruption, and abuse.  This is the type of popular narrative that is ripe for an insurgent group to hijack for its own purposes.

Which brings me to Boko Haram.

As you all know, over the last year Boko Haram has created widespread insecurity across northern Nigeria, increased tensions between various ethnic communities, interrupted development activities, frightened off investors, and generated concerns among Nigeria’s northern neighbors.  They have been responsible for near-daily attacks in Borno and Yobe states.  And they were behind the January 20 attack in Kano that killed nearly 200 people as well as three major attacks in Abuja, including the bombing of the UN headquarters last August.  To underscore this point, there were two more attacks this weekend.  Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and mosques are particularly disturbing because they are intended to inflame religious tensions and upset the nation’s social cohesion.

Although Boko Haram is reviled throughout Nigeria, and offers no practical solutions to northern problems, a growing minority of certain northern ethnic groups regard them favorably.  Boko Haram capitalizes on popular frustrations with the nation’s leaders, poor government service delivery, and the dismal living conditions of many northerners.  Boko Haram seeks to humiliate and undermine the government and exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and make Nigeria ungovernable.

Boko Haram has grown stronger and increasingly more sophisticated over the past three years, and eliminating the Boko Haram problem will require a comprehensive and broad based strategy that establishes a comprehensive development plan rather than the imposition of martial law.  While more sophisticated and targeted security efforts are necessary to contain Boko Harm’s acts of violence and to capture and prosecute its leaders, the government must also win over the population by addressing the social and economic problems that have created the environment in which Boko Haram can effectively thrive.  The government must improve its tactics, avoid excessive violence and human rights abuses, make better use of its police and intelligence services, de-emphasize the role of the military and use its courts to prosecute those who are found to be responsible for Boko Haram’s kidnappings, killings, and terrorist events.

Nigerian officials should focus on the political environment that makes Boko Haram so dangerous.  By demonstrating the benefits a pluralistic society has to offer, the government can deny Boko Haram and other extremists the ability to exploit ethnic and religious differences.  The government should redouble its efforts to resolve ongoing disputes in Jos and other high-violence flashpoints.   By becoming more responsive to the people, the government can put distance between itself and the accusations that it is blind to the needs of northern Nigerians.  Numerous northern civil society organizations have come out against Boko Haram – at great personal risk – and they could multiply serious government efforts to address longstanding northern grievances.  I want to stress that religion is not driving extremist violence either in Jos or northern Nigeria.  While some seek to inflame Muslim-Christian tensions, Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity, like in our own country, is a source of strength, not weakness, and there are many examples of communities working across religious lines to protect one another.

Containing and eliminating Boko Haram today will be much more difficult than it was four years ago, when it was under the leadership of its now deceased leader, Muhammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody.  Today, Boko Haram is not a monolithic, homogenous organization controlled by a single charismatic figure.  Boko Haram is several organizations, a larger organization focused primarily on discrediting the Nigerian government, and a smaller more dangerous group, increasingly sophisticated and increasingly lethal.  This group has developed links with AQIM and has a broader, anti-Western jihadist agenda.  This group is probably responsible for the kidnapping of westerners and for the attacks on the UN building in Abuja.  Complicating the picture further is the tendency of some officials to blame Boko Haram for all bank robberies and local vendettas occurring in the North when these should be ascribed to common criminals and political thugs.

There are also some who say that Boko Haram is comprised mostly of non-Nigerian foreigners, and that the group is being funded by a handful of resentful politicians nursing their wounds from the last election.  This would be deeply unfortunate if true, but I have not seen any evidence to support either of these theories.

To fix the Boko Haram problem, the government will have to develop a new social compact with its northern citizens.  It will have to develop an economic recovery strategy that complements its security strategy.  It will have to draw on the support of northern governors, traditional Hausa and Fulani leaders and local officials and organizations.  The Nigerian government should consider creating a Ministry of Northern Affairs or a development commission similar to what it did in response to the Niger Delta crisis.

Northern populations are currently trapped between violent extremists on one hand and heavy-handed government responses on the other.  They need to know that their President is going to extraordinary lengths to fix their problems. Achieving this will not be easy.  Although the problems are not the same, it has taken the central government in Abuja nearly a decade to bring the problems in the Niger Delta under some semblance of control.  Resolving the problems in northern Nigeria will require the government to act more swiftly and to make a strategic course correction.  It will need to adopt a comprehensive strategy, and remain disciplined and committed to its implementation, especially at the state and local level where accountability is low and corruption high. 

Despite the challenges that Nigeria faces with Boko Haram and other issues, Nigeria is simply too important to be defined by its problems.  Nigeria must be defined by its promise and its enormous potential, as well as the resourcefulness of its people.  Although some political observers have accused the government of getting off to a shaky start after the elections that are not a judgment shared by all – especially when you look at key players in the President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.  By all accounts, President Jonathan has put together one of the strongest and most competent economic teams ever assembled in Nigeria.  Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former vice president of the World Bank, has a pushed a strong reformist agenda, pushing for an end to costly government subsidies, deregulation of the electrical supply and distribution, the sale of the country’s oil refineries and the rapid improvement of the country’s infrastructure.  She has been supported in her efforts by the Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Agricultural Minster Alhaji Bukar Tijani, Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga, and the Minister of Power Professor Bart Nnaji — all of whom have put a high premium on promoting sustained economic development, job creation, greater agricultural productivity and more foreign investment.  Given time and political support from the top, this team has the ability to shape and lead Nigeria’s long term economic transformation.  It is one of the most powerful economic teams anywhere on the continent.

The Nigerian government has also taken a positive step in trying to address its long standing problem of corruption.  Through two strategic appointments, the government has signaled that is once again going to try to get a handle on high level corruption.    For four years, the United States scaled back our technical assistance programs to Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because we did not believe the previous leadership was committed to reform.  In November, President Jonathan appointed a new Chairman to run the EFCC – the country’s main anti-corruption agency.  The appointment of Ibrahim Lamorde to lead the EFCC gives us confidence that the high-level corruption that has hobbled the delivery of government services will be seriously addressed.   President Jonathan’s appointment of Nuhu Ribadu to oversee a commission to monitor and audit the government’s vast oil and gas revenues is also a very promising sign.  Before he was fired several years ago, Ribadu earned a well-deserved reputation as Nigeria’s most zealous prosecutor of high level corruption.  His return, like that of Ngozi and other economic reformers, should be taken as an indication of the promise and potential of getting it right.  We hope these high performers will encourage others, like the Petroleum Minister, to accelerate key reforms; including passing the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill.

There is also a bright side to be found in a number of statehouses across Nigeria, where governors are responsible for delivering most public services.  A handful of governors embraced the challenges of their jobs and have made a real difference.  The governors in Lagos State, Edo State, and Kano State have demonstrated what strong, honest and responsible leadership at the state level can accomplish.  They deserve our support.

We continue to use the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission as our primary vehicle for exchanging ideas and promoting engagement with Nigeria. We want to elevate and expand our dialogue and are ready to work with Nigerian authorities at the national and state level and to expand our programs in states with high performing executives, particularly in northern Nigeria where the need is greatest.  We are committed to helping Nigeria develop a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and to improving collaboration among Nigeria’s intelligence and security services.  We want to support the Nigerian government’s efforts, especially in the areas of agriculture, electrical power generation and transmission, and anti-corruption.  We sent a high-level energy trade mission to Abuja and Lagos in February to attract U.S. private investment in the energy field, and we would like to do something similar to highlight the opportunities that exist in agriculture and infrastructure – where we think we have something real

to offer.    The agricultural investment forum sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa and the Nigerian Embassy starting tomorrow similarly aims to direct U.S. resources towards Nigerian development.

I am bullish on Nigeria.  I have been ever since I served there as a young Foreign Service officer many years ago.  There is no doubt that Nigeria’s challenges are serious, but we should not underestimate the skill and ability of the Nigerian people and leaders to address them.  I believe the forces that are holding Nigeria together are stronger today than the forces that are pulling Nigeria apart.  Nigeria remains the giant in Africa, and I remain optimist about the long term future of that giant.   By working with Nigeria, we can contribute to the country’s economic growth and political unity – two objectives that are important to the United States, to Africa, and to the global community.  A strong, vibrant, politically stable, and economically prosperous Nigeria is in everyone’s interest.    I hope you agree.   Thank you.

*Ambassador Johnnie Carson is Assistant For African Affairs. These remarks were made April 9 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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U.S. Efforts To Counter the Lord’s Resistance Army
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Johnie Carson*

Let me first thank the U.S. Institute of Peace for having me back, and for organizing this important event. The United States is engaged in a number of efforts to help address violent armed groups and to promote security in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Among those efforts, countering the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been a priority for us. Over the last several years, hundreds of thousands of Americans, especially young Americans, have mobilized and expressed concern for the communities in central Africa placed under siege by the Lord’s Resistance Army. We greatly appreciate your efforts, and we are committed to working with you in pursuit of an end to the LRA’s atrocities.

For several years, the people and Governments of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan have worked to bring an end to the scourge of the LRA. They have endured difficult circumstances and many sacrifices in search of peace. The United States has sought to support them in their struggle. We believe the LRA’s actions are an affront to human dignity and a threat to regional stability. We believe that those abducted should be freed and that the leadership of the LRA should be brought to justice. In collaboration with our partners in the region, we have sought to put in place a strategy that draws on the lessons of history, improves our support to the governments of the region, and increases the chances of successfully ending the LRA threat once and for all.

Let me begin with the history. The LRA has now been active for 25 years, a quarter of a century, making it one of Africa’s oldest, most violent and persistent armed groups. For two decades, the people of northern Uganda were caught in the midst of the fighting between the brutal LRA insurgency and the government. Some two million people were forced into internal-displacement camps, where they languished in squalid conditions. Tens of thousands of children were abducted by the LRA, maimed, and forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves and ordered to commit unspeakable acts. Since it began its insurgency, the LRA has abducted 66,000 youth. To repeat: 66,000.

At the conflict’s height in northern Uganda, thousands of children would walk long distances every evening from villages into town centers to avoid being abducted by the LRA. They became known as “night commuters.”

When I served as ambassador in Uganda from 1991 to 1993, the United States recognized the enormous suffering caused by the LRA and tried to support the Government of Uganda’s efforts to end this scourge. Over the years, we have provided security assistance and training to the Uganda People’s Defense Force, supplied humanitarian assistance, supported peace talks and reconciliation initiatives, and worked with partners to enhance the protection of civilians and the reintegration of former combatants.

Under increasing pressure, in 2005 and 2006, the LRA’s leader Joseph Kony ordered the LRA to withdraw completely from Uganda and move west into the border region of the DRC, the CAR, and what would become South Sudan. Kony believed, rightfully, that it would be more difficult to track and pursue his forces in this remote region. In 2006, the LRA accepted an offer to engage in peace talks with the Government of Uganda.

From 2006 to 2008, the United States supported the peace talks in Juba. We believed the talks offered a real opportunity to bring an end to the conflict, and our diplomats worked with the mediators and civil society for two years to move the process forward. However, it became increasingly clear that Joseph Kony was not committed to the process. In 2007, he reportedly killed his second-in-command Vincent Otti who was engaged in the peace process. When a peace agreement was finalized, Kony refused to come out of the bush and sign. He was given the opportunity to sign on multiple occasions over several months, and each time he failed to do so. Meanwhile, throughout 2008, the LRA began to carry out new attacks and abductions in Congolese and Central African communities.

By late 2008, it was very clear that Joseph Kony had no interest in peace and was resuming hostilities and working to replenish his ranks. It was also clear that Kony had no regard for the lives of the people of the CAR, the DRC, and Sudan, and would continue to kill and pillage. Regional leaders agreed to launch new military operations against the LRA. Unfortunately, the LRA managed to escape the initial assaults on their camps in Garamba National Park in the DRC. Over the following months, at Kony’s direction, the LRA committed a series of new large-scale massacres, including the brutal “Christmas Massacres” in northern DRC, in which hundreds of Congolese were hacked to death and burned alive.

Since that time, the UPDF and national militaries in the region have continued to pursue the LRA and to expand protection to the local populations. Despite tremendous challenges, the UPDF’s sustained efforts have yielded some success in reducing the LRA’s numbers and in keeping them from regrouping. Dozens of LRA officers have been killed or captured or have simply surrendered. The LRA’s core fighters have been reduced to an estimated 150 to 200, in addition to accompanying women and children.

However, there are significant challenges in pursuing small groups of LRA across this densely forested and difficult jungle terrain. This is one of the least developed regions in all of Africa, and lacks basic road and telecommunications infrastructure. Local authorities are far removed from their capitals and often lack resources to govern effectively. As a result, Kony himself and the other top LRA commanders have managed to evade capture.

The LRA retains the capacity to cast a wide shadow across the region because of its brutality and the fear it arouses in local populations. As of August 2011, the UN estimated 440,000 people were displaced or living as refugees across CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan due to LRA activity. The remaining LRA elements have continued to commit attacks across the three countries. According to the UN, this year alone, there have been over 250 attacks in the CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan attributed to the LRA.

The LRA’s continued attacks have been cause for universal concern and condemnation – by the people and governments of the region, the United Nations, and the African Union. Just last month, African leaders from across the continent came together to declare the LRA as a terrorist group, the AU’s first such designation. Here in the United States too, people have come together to condemn the LRA’s atrocities. In the Congress, Senator Russ Feingold teamed up with Sam Brownback and James Inhofe, and Congressmen Ed Royce and Jim McGovern in 2009 to write legislation calling for more comprehensive U.S. efforts to help end the LRA threat. With the support of youth activists and human rights organizations, this legislation won historic bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Obama.

After coming into office, the Obama Administration reviewed ongoing and past U.S. support to governments in the region for countering the LRA. We worked to identify what had worked and what had not, and how we could best support our partners in the region to accomplish their mission. In line with the Congressional legislation, we worked last year to develop a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to guide U.S. support to help our partners in the region better mitigate and ultimately eliminate the threat posed by the LRA. In our strategy, we sought to incorporate a number of lessons learned from history.

The first lesson we identified is that LRA will use any reduction in military or diplomatic pressure, or the provision of safe haven by any actor, to regroup and rebuild its forces. As he did during the Juba peace talks in 2008, Joseph Kony will use any chance he gets to kill, abduct, and loot in order to regenerate his ranks and capabilities. Therefore, we made a strategic decision to continue assisting the UPDF as they carry out forward operations against the LRA. We have continued to provide logistical support for their operations on the condition that they remain focused on the mission, cooperate with the other regional governments, and do not commit abuses. They have lived up to those commitments.

We also realized the need to encourage stronger regional partnerships to effectively address the LRA. As a result, we have increased our engagement with the militaries of CAR, DRC, and South Sudan regarding the LRA, and supported their increased efforts to address this threat. With our encouragement, earlier this year, the government of DRC deployed a U.S.-trained and -equipped battalion to participate in counter-LRA efforts in the LRA’s areas of operations in the DRC. We have also provided some equipment to CAR forces deployed in the LRA-affected area, and we plan to provide targeted training to SPLA forces that will deploy to the LRA-affected area of South Sudan.

The second lesson we identified in developing our strategy is that additional critical capabilities were needed to increase the chances of militaries in the region apprehending or removing LRA top commanders from the battlefield. As part of developing the President’s strategy, we asked U.S. Africa Command to review how we could improve our support to national militaries in the region to increase the likelihood of success. AFRICOM planners traveled throughout the region and met with the governments there. Their conclusion was that sending a small number of U.S. military advisors to work with these national forces, both at headquarters and the field-level, could enhance their capacity to coordinate and fuse intelligence with effective operational planning.

On October 14, President Obama reported to Congress that he had authorized a small number of U.S. forces to deploy to the LRA-affected region, in consultation with the national governments, to act as advisors to the militaries that are pursuing the LRA.

There has been some confusion in the media about this announcement, so let me clarify a few things. First, contrary to some conspiracy theories in the press, this deployment is focused on the LRA and the LRA only. Second, although they are equipped for combat in case that they need to defend themselves, the U.S. forces in this operation are there to play a supportive role to the UPDF and national militaries pursuing the LRA. Third, although the total number of U.S. military personnel participating in this operation will be approximately 100, only a portion of those total personnel will travel to field locations in LRA-affected areas to serve as advisors to regional forces pursuing the LRA; the personnel who remain in Uganda will perform logistical and other functions to support our advisors. Fourth, this is not an open-ended commitment; we will regularly review and assess whether the advisory effect is sufficiently enhancing our objectives to justify continued deployment.

In his report to the UN Security Council last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that regional military operations against the LRA must continue, but acknowledged that national militaries in the region “lack the full range of resources and capabilities in areas such as logistics, intelligence gathering, and air power, to effectively deal with the problem.” In a Presidential statement following its meeting, the UN Security Council welcomed international efforts to enhance the capacity of these militaries, and noted the efforts of the United States.

Over the last month, the U.S. military personnel have, in coordination with the UPDF, been planning and laying the groundwork for forward deployments to field locations in the LRA-affected areas. Starting this month, teams of the advisors are beginning to deploy to LRA-affected areas. It is critical that they get out to field so they can directly interact with all of the forces pursuing the LRA and assess the operating environment. Our embassies have been in close touch with all of the governments in the region in developing this operation, and we are not sending any personnel into their countries without their consent. We have also made clear that this operation is contingent on their sustained commitment and cooperation toward ending the LRA threat.

The third lesson we identified in developing our strategy is the importance of civilian protection. The LRA has often responded to new military campaigns by committing reprisal attacks against vulnerable communities, taking advantage of soft targets that lack protection and early warning capabilities. National militaries bear responsibility for civilian protection, but we realize that they face significant challenges in this regard. We have ensured that our military advisors are sensitive to the challenges of civilian protection and are incorporating protection considerations into all training and operational planning. Our advisors are also seeking to strengthen information-sharing among militaries in the region to allow better communication with local populations, and other civilian actors with the aim of enhancing protection. In partnership with the State Department’s new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, we have deployed a civilian officer to the region to assist our advisors in this regard.

We have also encouraged the UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC and South Sudan to augment their protection efforts in the LRA-affected areas to the extent possible. MONUSCO’s leadership has told us that they will take additional steps over the coming month in an effort to prevent a repeat of the Christmas Massacres that took place in 2008 and 2009. At MONUSCO’s request, the United States has embedded two U.S. military personnel into MONUSCO’s Joint Intelligence and Operations Center in Dungu. These personnel are working with MONUSCO, FARDC, and UPDF representatives there to enhance information-sharing, analysis, and planning. In addition, our Embassy in CAR has encouraged the UN Integrated Peace building Office for CAR to put greater focus on the LRA-affected area.

Still, we have to acknowledge the enormous challenges for regional governments and their security forces given their limited resources, lack of mobility, and the poor transportation and communications infrastructure in this region. We have worked with partners to empower communities to make decisions related to their own safety. The State Department and USAID are now funding projects in the DRC to expand existing early warning networks to remote communities. USAID is also implementing a pilot project to install low-cost cell phone towers in LRA-affected areas of the DRC. We’re talking to partners about trying to initiate similar projects in the CAR and South Sudan.

The fourth and final lesson we identified in developing our strategy is that there is no purely military solution to the LRA threat. We believe a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach is required. Military support must be embedded within a broader strategy and complemented by civilian efforts. Uganda’s Amnesty Act has been a hugely effective tool for reducing the LRA’s overall numbers. As regional actors increase military pressure on the LRA, it is critical to complement that effort with an increased push for LRA fighters and abductees to defect and escape.

In the last two months, we have seen the release and defection of dozens of women and children from the LRA’s ranks in the DRC. I was especially struck by the story of two young women, one Congolese and the other Ugandan, both pregnant, who courageously escaped from the LRA’s ranks in the middle of the night. They walked for four days, crossing three rivers, until they found a Congolese soldier on the road. These women were tired of living in dire conditions in the bush, and they wanted a different, brighter future for their babies. We know there are many more in the LRA’s ranks who want the same thing, but who are afraid of what will happen to them when they come home.

All of those individuals who have left the LRA recently in the DRC and been handled by MONUSCO have received food, medical attention, and transportation assistance to return home and reunite with their families. We urge those remaining in the LRA’s ranks to seek opportunities to escape, and take advantage of offers of reintegration support. We have encouraged the UN to work with governments in region to establish a region-wide process to facilitate the safe return, repatriation, and reintegration of those who leave the LRA’s ranks. USAID has funded programs to support the rehabilitation of former abducted youth in CAR and the DRC, and their reunification with their families.

At the same time, we continue to work to support those communities who have suffered at the hands of the LRA. In the last two fiscal years, we have provided over $50 million in humanitarian assistance to populations affected by the LRA in CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan. We look forward to the day when we can stop providing humanitarian assistance and focus on development. In northern Uganda, that process has begun. With the LRA’s departure, northern Uganda has undergone a visible transformation in just a few years. The population is able to move freely, stores are open, and fields are being cultivated. Ninety-five percent of the people who once lived in displacement camps have gone home to rebuild their lives and the United States has played a leading role, among donors, in supporting northern Uganda’s recovery.

A future free of the LRA is possible. The United States believes it is in our interest to help our partners in the region to realize that dream. That is why, despite significant budget constraints, the United States has taken a number of steps over recent years both to increase and improve our support to the region for countering the LRA and their impact.

However, the challenges facing our regional partners remain great. As we have learned over the last twenty-five years, ending the LRA will not be accomplished easily. We continue to ask all donors to step up their efforts and help address critical funding gaps. Just last month on my trip to Asia, I discussed the counter-LRA effort and appealed for support. We also continue to engage with other partners who are providing support for different aspects of this effort, especially the European Union with whom we co-chair the International Working Group on the LRA.

Finally, success in countering the LRA will ultimately depend upon the continued resolve and partnership of the affected countries. Although CAR, DRC, South Sudan, and Uganda have many differences, they are bound together by this common regional threat and have a shared interest in working together to end it. They have all lost lives to the LRA and made sacrifices to combat the LRA. Their continued cooperation is essential to finish this fight. We welcome the African Union’s role in facilitating greater regional cooperation, and we hope they will move quickly in this regard.

For our part, the United States will continue to stand with the people and governments of Africa as they stand up and work together to end the LRA’s reign of terror, and establish sustainable peace and security. Doing that is on the right side of history, on the right side of our values, and on the right side of our strategic interests.

Thank you.

* Ambassador Carson is Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs and the paper was presented at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, and DC.December 7, 2011

 

 

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Francophone Africa: When defense Agreement means trade monopoly
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Mamadou Koulibaly*

On January 25th, the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara made a state visit to France. During this extraordinarily lavish and publicized visit, a new defense agreement was signed by the Ivorian President and his French counterpart, replacing that of 1961. What do we know about this agreement?

The media have relayed some statements about this signing and it is essentially the transparency of this new agreement that is put forward. It is said that it does not include any secret clause. Apparently, France will take responsibility for the training of the new Ivorian army and 300 French soldiers will permanently be based in Abidjan, to serve as a strategic point for the fight against Al-Qaida.

Notwithstanding these brief statements, one can only wonder about the real transparency of these agreements which content is delivered with such restraint. If they are so transparent, why weren’t these agreements published in full? How could Alassane Ouattara sign a treaty that commits the Ivorian people, without even informing them of its content? Same applies to the French President, knowing that French intervention in Côte d’Ivoire is financed by the French taxpayers.

To sweep aside these objections, the Ivorian President says he will submit the text to the Ivorian Parliament. However, one thing is obvious: the Ivorian authorities do not seem eager to see the newly elected National Assembly start with its activities. In any case, the treaty is already signed and it is too late to modify its content. This is indeed a text imposed on the Ivorians by their president.

From what we know, some points are already questionable. In fact, one wonders whether it is wise to entrust the training of the Ivorian army to the former colonial power, which is already very present in the country and its largest trading partner. From the little information made public, it appears that France will become Côte d’Ivoire’s main supplier of military equipments. Are these purchases, in contradiction with the rules of the market, in favor of the Ivorian taxpayer who will have to settle the final invoice? It is shocking to see this type of protected monopolies being added to the long list of privileges already awarded by the Ivorian President to his friends and acquaintances.

Going further, Alassane Ouattara made the following statement in the daily newspaper “Le Monde” on January 26, 2012: “It is important that we have a stronger cooperation in terms of equipments and training, but also in terms of intelligence and fight against terrorism”. Is Abidjan really a strategic point for the fight against terrorism? As we all know, Al-Qaida networks are mainly grouped in the Sahel; therefore, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso would obviously be far more suitable locations.

By experience, we know that the 1961 defense agreements were actually trade agreements, and this is what raises worries and concerns. The proof that the military aspect only represented a façade for the commercial side was made in 2002, when Cote d’Ivoire was the victim of an assault and France refused to apply the agreements. Indeed, had France been compliant with the signed agreement, it would have helped the Ivorian army to repel the rebels, instead of protecting them for nine years. Yet, the French authorities had engaged themselves since 1961 to militarily defend the Ivorian regimes in place, in return for a privileged access to their natural resources.

This preferential access to the natural resources reserved for France is relatively unknown and this may be considered a chance for Côte d’Ivoire, then if a Briton, an American, a Canadian, an Australian, a Chinese, an Indians, a Brasilian and any other were aware of these clauses, they would never invest in a country where the exploitation and trading of raw materials are controlled by the French authorities. To really measure this, it is important to read a portion of the Appendix 2 of this agreement: 

Appendix 2 of the Defense Agreement between the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey, the French Republic and the Republic of Niger regarding the cooperation in the field of strategic raw material and products.

French President Sarkozy with African Leaders

French President Sarkozy with African Leaders

To ensure the protection of their mutual interest on the subject of Defense, the parties agree to cooperate in the area of Defense materials under the conditions defined below:

 

Article 1: Raw materials and products classified as strategic include:

–          First category: liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons;

–          Second category: uranium, thorium, lithium, beryllium, its compounds and minerals

 

This list may be modified by mutual agreement, depending on the circumstances.

Article 2: The French Republic regularly informs the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey and the Republic of Niger of the policy it intends to follow with regards to strategic raw materials and products, given the general Defense needs, the evolution of the resources and the world market situation.

Article 3: The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey and the Republic of Niger inform the French Republic of the policy they intend to follow, with respect to the raw materials and strategic products, as well as the measures they intend to deploy for the implementation of this policy.

Article 4: The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey and the Republic of Niger facilitate, to the benefit of the French military forces, the storage of raw materials and strategic products. Whenever the interest of the Defense requires, they restrict or prohibit their exports to other countries.

Article 5: The French Republic is kept informed of programs and projects to export raw materials and strategic products of the second category listed in Article 1 outside of the territories of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey and the Republic of Niger. With respect to such materials and products, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Dahomey and the Republic of Niger, for purposes of defense, reserve a prior sale to the French Republic after meeting the needs of their domestic consumption, and purchase from her as a priority.

Article 6: The Governments shall, on any issues related to the appendix, make all necessary consultations.

Issued in Paris, on April 24, 1961

Félix HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY                                                                     Hubert MAGA

Michel DEBRE                                                                                                                  Hamani DIORI

In this context, it is understandable that any new agreement requires a thorough analysis both from the Ivorians and the investors – other than the French – settled in the country or wishing to move there. Thus, we urge the Ivorian civil society and the foreign investors to put pressure on the authorities in order to get, as soon as possible, full knowledge of the content of this new agreement signed in Paris early 2012.

* Mamadou Koulibaly is a Former Speaker of the Ivory Coast Parliament and now serves as President of the opposition party LIDER – Liberté et Démocratie pour la République and President of Audace Institut Afrique 

 

 

 

 

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