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Carlos Lopes to Step Down from ECA End of October
September 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
Carlos Lopes

Carlos Lopes

Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes, of the Economic Commission for Africa officially told ECA staff Thursday that he was stepping down from the organization he has led for the past four years.

Speaking at a town hall meeting, Mr. Lopes, who joined the ECA as its eighth Executive Secretary in September 2012, said he was proud of what the ECA had collectively achieved during the last four years, in particular the production of quality and credible products like the Economic Report on Africa, Country Profiles and others, that are increasingly being used by Member States in policy formulation, among other things.

He commended the ECA staff for what he said were their tremendous efforts in supporting and working with him in his vision to make sure the ECA became a think tank of repute on the continent, making a difference in the lives of Africans through various products that are and will continue to make a positive impact long after his departure.

“ECA has gone up quite considerably in terms of image and credibility in terms of its work and I’m sure people feel it in their interactions everyday with our interlocutors,” Mr. Lopes said, adding the ECA did indeed live by the model of Africa First in all its work in pushing for the development of the continent through structural transformation, industrialization and regional integration, among others.

“We have done it because of Africa. There’s a lot to be proud of and I’m very proud of what we have been able to achieve together and this is the reason why I have confidence that the ECA will continue to shine. My wish, hope and conviction is that the ECA will continue to shine,” he told the ECA employees.

Mr. Lopes, who was flanked by his two deputies, Abdalla Hamdok, Chief Economist and Deputy Executive Secretary, Knowledge Generation Pillar, and Giovanie Biha Deputy Executive Secretary for Knowledge Delivery, said he had no doubt that from what the ECA has been able to deliver during his tenure, the organization will collectively continue to work together with its strategic partners like the African Union and the African Development Bank to promote Africa’s economic development.

 “I’m just one person. With or without me the work has to continue. I was certainly your leader during these four years but all things have to come to a close,” he said. “It is very important for us to realise that leaders are always transitional leaders if they are supposed to be good leaders. To be a good leader you have to be capable of leaving when you think the time is appropriate not when you are being pushed so that’s why this decision was on my terms and my timing.”

Speaker after speaker praised Mr. Lopes for, among other things, the role he played in reforming the ECA and taking the relationship between the organization, its partners and member states to a higher level, beautifying the ECA compound, leading the organization to host big conferences impacting on Africa’s development and empowering employees across the shop floor, mostly ensuring there was gender parity in the organization.

He leaves the organization on the 30 th  of October.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org

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Buhari to Militants: Nigeria’s Unity Not Negotiable –
July 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

Buhari1-450x450AGAINST the background of incessant bombings of oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, which apparently threaten the peace and unity of the country, President Mohammadu Buhari has stated that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.

He also warned looters of the public treasures to return their loots as a condition for their personal peace.

The President gave the warning while receiving a cross section of Nigerians most whom were Muslims who were in his residence within the precinct of the presidential villa to pay him sallah homage on Wednesday.

The President who recalled the famous quotes of former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon said that the task of keeping Nigeria as one indivisible entity was a task that must be done. He said: “We have to concentrate on the militants to try to know how many of them in terms of groupings, try to get in touch with their leadership, to try to persuade them to please give Nigeria a chance.

“I assure them that when we were very junior officers, we were told by our leaders, by the Head of State which was Gen. Gowon that to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done…we never thought of oil. What we were after is one Nigeria. Please, pass the message to the militants that one Nigeria is not negotiable. And I pray they better accept it. The constitution is very clear…I assure them there would be justice.

“And please persuade those who have plenty of money that does not belong to them to try and negotiate, return it in peace so that both them and us will be in peace otherwise we will continue to request”.

*Vanguard/Real News

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African Agriculture Can Help Tackle Refugee Crisis
June 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ray Jordan*

2016-06-21-1466539044-1639912-9402394820-thumbFigures released on World Refugee Day this week showed there are currently an estimated 65 million displaced people in the world – more than at any time in history.

As the head of an international agricultural development organisation working in Africa, I am often asked why we don’t work to address the current migrant crisis from Africa that has overwhelmed Europe.

The question directed to me is usually a sincere one, not borne of xenophobia or racism, but rather from a deep frustration that in our advanced and sophisticated 21st century society we should not be witnessing such scenes, night after night on our television screens.

My answer to such questions is a short one. We are.

For it is only by improving the economic circumstances of rural poor people in Africa that we will ultimately provide them with an acceptable alternative to the hugely risky, life-threatening and demeaning choices currently being taken by millions, as they uproot from their communities and take their lives into their own hands in search of ‘a better life’ somewhere else.

Noone who has ever visited a refugee camp, which I have done many times during a 30-years career that included many years in humanitarian relief, would ever describe these places as anything other than a stopgap. As the name itself suggests it is a place of refuge from something terrible that is occurring elsewhere. It is not the ‘better life’ that millions are taking huge risks to seek out.

EU plan, announced this month, sets out a framework that the Union believe can tackle some of the root causes of migration from Africa.

While the ‘carrot and stick’ approach in these proposals – which include a combination of aid and trade incentives – has been criticized by some African countries, and by aid organisations, it should be viewed as a step towards addressing the underlying cause of much of the current crisis, poverty.

Only by boosting growth in economies, creating jobs, and ensuring that countries can provide a future for their populations will the current flood of migration be resolved.

Building walls, Brexit opt-out campaigns or any number of breaches by Euro states of the Schengen freedom of movement charter are reactions, rather than solutions, to a problem that has been with us for generations. 2016-06-21-1466539089-2782849-308662801.png

For too long we have failed to properly solve the problem of extreme poverty that continues to cast an enormous shadow across developing countries of the world. That there are almost 800 million people worldwide living in extreme poverty – that’s one in nine of our global population – is proof enough that we are continuing to fail the poorest, and the most vulnerable.

In the current clamour over immigration to Europe it is often overlooked that such mass movement of people is placing a huge burden on the fabric of society across Africa, as well.

Figures released in 2015 showed that the top six destinations for African refugees and migrants were within the continent of Africa itself. The figures were: Ethiopia (659,524), Kenya (551,352), Chad (452,897), Uganda (385,513), Cameroon (264,126) and South Sudan (248,152), who collectively were accommodating 2,561,564 people of foreign origin in camps within their countries.

Interviews that have been given by refugees themselves – whether in Kenya or in Calais – tell us that if given the choice, the vast majority of those who make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe would not do so, if their futures at home were not so bleak. 2016-06-21-1466539145-4152959-3404324560.png

People aren’t only moving across international borders in search of a better life either. There is also an accelerating pattern of rural to urban migration taking place in sub-Saharan Africa that is placing a huge burden on national services.

Africa will become the most rapidly urbanized region on the planet in the coming 25 years, as the number of people living in its cities is projected to soar to 56% of the population, according to UN estimates. That means that many more shantytowns like Kiberi, an urban slum of one million people outside Nairobi, Kenya, will spring up across Africa in the years to come.

At Self Help Africa our focus is on supporting rural poor communities to support their populations through an innovative mix of agricultural and enterprise development activities.

By supporting rural poor households to grow more, and access profitable markets for their produce, Africa’s small-scale farming families can realise the better future that they desire for themselves and their communities.

There is no quick fix to the problems of extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, just as there is no quick fix to the current migrant crisis in Europe. But there are many steps that can be taken to move us in the right direction.

Self Help Africa believes that by contributing to the creation of an economically vibrant African agricultural sector, we can play our part in tackling this challenge.

And in the same way, the announcement by the European Union of a combination of new aid and trade deals with Africa to support economic growth, has to be regarded as a positive approach to a crisis that has been going on for too long.

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THE SOUL OF THE BLACK RACE: TERRORIST FIGHT THYSELF?
June 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Chief Charles A. Taku*

Chief Charles Taku

Chief Charles Taku

Permit me to repost an article I published in the very reputable Pan African Vision sometime late last year. The decision to republish it is informed by the urgency of the message I wish to bring to the attention of the public.

In the reposted article below, I stated that a careful observation of some of the characteristics of Boko Haram pointed to the fact that although undoubtedly a terrorist organization, it seemed also to be a political tool at the service of political interests working independently or in aggregate in or out of Africa.

The politicization of terrorism is not new. It is not an African creation. It is a significant driving force behind the struggle for power and control at national and international levels. For this reason, it should surprise no one that some of those who set out to lead the war against terrorism made the conditions that led to terrorism possible.  Also, once engaged in the war against terrorism, they gain politically from their participation in the war. At times it is by political calculation as opposed to pure military and security objectives that these individuals and forces define the enemy; evaluate and allocate the resources required to sustain the war effort, and the ways and means of wining the hearts and minds of the civilian victims of the war against terrorism.

One of the difficulties in conducting the war against terrorism is the paucity of an acceptable definition of terrorism. Terrorism so far eludes a universally acceptable legal definition leading instead to the criminalization of acts of terror. This however has not precluded some countries and organizations from defining terrorism in manners that suit their national, geo-political and hegemonistic interests to justify a declaration of war or participation in it once it is declared.

The world today is confronted with terrorism and terrorist organizations as actors which were not in contemplation in 1946 at the creation of the United Nations. The UN Charter in its article 51 did not contemplate the fact that non state actors will play an important role in international relations. The UN Security Council and state parties, led by the super powers and power blocs under their control have been innovative in pushing the frontiers of international legality to the extent of establishing new legal concepts to justify their military interventions in several armed conflicts worldwide. The use of these new legal concepts as justification for military interventions has impacted the international law environment where diplomacy and the instrument of international rule of law were hitherto the acceptable means of fighting impunity. These traditional means of fighting impunity promoted and encouraged the enthronement universal peace for all nations, big and small.  The implementation of these new concepts have created new conflicts and conferred legitimacy on some criminal non-state actors; in the result, contradicting the very rationale for which these policies were conceived.

Through its Responsibility to Protect Mandate for example, the Security Council in contemporary times validated the NATO intervention in the Balkan conflict. This led to the indiscriminate massive bombardment of the territory and civilian population of the former Yugoslavia. These would have been categorized as war crimes and investigated as such had the key to international justice not been in the hands of the super powers members of the Security Council and NATO.

NATO’s unjustified bombardment and near destruction of Libya led to Libya becoming a terrorist haven and the Launchpad for intercontinental terror. Similarly the US intervention in Iraq on the fallacious ground that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was non-compliant with a UN Security Council Resolution emboldened the forces of terror worldwide.  In particular it emboldened US and its coalition of the willing supposed allied jihadists who unsuccessfully fought for years using terror to overthrow Saddam Hussein.  The legitimacy accorded these non-state actors jihadist forces and terrorist organizations contributed to the spread and use of terror as an instrument of political expression and acquisition of power.

Eluding a clear definition and a UN Charter authority, some of the measures undertaken to counter the emerging challenges posed by these non-state actors have in context been interpreted as acts of terror making the prosecution of terrorism as an international crimes hard. Just as terrorism threatens our common humanity, the uncontrolled bombardment of civilian populations and civilian targets violate the Laws and Customs of War and the Geneva Conventions (1949) and constitutes a significant to our common humanity as well.  Whereas the civilian population of the world is protected against the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other international crimes and the Geneva Conventions (1949) offers a general legal framework for the prosecution of these crimes when they occur, the crime of terrorism still lacks an adequate legal frame work to prosecute. This is slur on the conscience of humanity .

Unfortunately the so-called free world which prides itself as the custodians of civilized human values have contributed to the rise in profile of international criminal gangs and international criminality. The French and UN bombardment of Cote D’Ivoire caused massive civilian casualties and facilitated regime change.   In the Libyan situation, NATO intervention and the UN Security Council support for the said intervention accorded a de facto recognition to criminal gangs and terrorist organizations that were classified as allies and provided the training and weapons to fight to overthrow and assassinate Mouamar El Kaddafi. ISIS and other criminal gangs today control Libya, a sovereign African nation thanks to NATO intervention and the UN Security Council support.

Libya today is a symbol of death for the Libyan people. It is a symbol of death for the rest of humanity judging from the hundreds of thousands of Africans immigrants led loose to die in the Mediterranean sea by criminal gangs now occupying and ruling Libya. Facilitating the death of these African immigrants provides these gangs with the resources with which to sustain its hold on the territory of Libya and to further the perpetration of their criminal activities.

The effect and impact of these unprecedented acts of international lawlessness on the African continent and the humanitarian immigration tragedy in the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean as well the rising profile of terrorist groups in the African Sahel is heart wrenching. The massive amount of weaponry that the French army dropped to  these criminal supposed allies to fight to topple Kaddafi; allies who were well known terrorists, today accounts for the devastation caused by terrorists in their senseless slaughter of armless men, women and children throughout the African Sahel and beyond.

This is but part of a complex web of criminality on which Western peddlers of supposed democratic values rely on  to justify regime change, or  encourage  and sponsor their stooges and political lackeys to ride on the wave of terror inflicted on the citizenry in their African vassal states to power. A critical review of the manner in which the war against terror has been fought in Nigeria a year after President Buhari came to power; in Cameroon, Chad and Niger establishes a pattern that justifies my opinion in the Pan African Vision that Boko Haram is hated and loved in equal measure by power seekers in the Boko Haram war afflicted countries.

Although a significant ally in the regional war against Boko Haram, Nigeria has so far considered the war against Boko Haram within its national territory as an insurgency. This has implications in international law regarding the character of the conflict.  Yet the national and trans border devastation caused by the Boko Haram war against mainly civilians and civilian targets was serious enough for  President Buhari  to ride on the disaffection with the inability of his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan to end the insurgency among other factors to power. He did so, by promising to end the insurgency within his first hundred days in power. Like most of his election promises, this has proved to be false. It is predictable that by mere political calculations, by the end of his first mandate in three years Boko Haram will still be a stark reality in the lives of Nigerians.

Many observers believe that had President Buhari deployed the same zeal he has deployed to selectively target his PDP political opponents in his war against corruption in identifying and incapacitating the sponsors of Boko Haram, its resources and its elaborate terrorist structure, the Boko Haram insurgency would have ended in his one hundred days in power. That he has not done so and will not predictably do so lest it opens a can of warms that may lead right to the political structures and the resources that brought him to power is becoming a reality by the day. One of the known resources that is close to the Buhari political establishment and which he shares a platform with Boko Haram is political Islam. The elaborate confederate structure of Islamic political power brokers in Northern Nigeria believes in the northernisation of power in Nigeria. It is hard to enquire into and investigate the elaborate network and resources of Boko Haram and other violent political networks in essentially feudal Northern Nigeria without unsettling this powerful Islamic political base. Its influence transcends the entire northern political power establishment.

In Cameroon, the French neo-colonial contraption that took over power after the assassination of the total-independence ideological leaders deployed state terrorism as a tool of political control and economic despoliation. The genocide of the Bamileke’s and the Bassas; the ongoing state terrorism against citizens and the territory of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons) and the rise of Boko Haram gave the regime of personal power for half a century, a viable reason to justify its eternalization political power supposedly to face the challenges posed by terrorism. This neo-colonial policy, a variant of the so-called the policy of France-Afrique requires the fueling of internecine conflicts and terrorism to justify control by France of its African vassal possessions.

The fact that Cameroon and Nigeria needed the intervention of France to join forces to combat a supposed common enemy despite the fact that the Lake Chad Basin Commission to which both countries belong provided a multilateral regional treaty framework to join forces to confront this challenge, better explains the negative neo-colonial mindset of supposed leaders of independent African countries and the neo-colonial political patronage sustaining the conflicts and their power base.

This painful assessment of the African condition and that of the black race in the fight against terrorism is a powerful indictment of African intellectuals, in particular lawyers, African politicians, and most important African masses.  It challenges the black race and Africa to critical soul searching on how to bring peace and development to our troubled continent. Africa and black people the world over must stop portraying ourselves as laughing stocks.

The number of black peoples and Africans in particular dying in painful circumstances fleeing from a continent at a self-destructive wars with itself but which prides itself as the depository of a majority the world’s natural resources must prick our consciences to critically think about how to protect our continent and resources for our common good.

The time to proclaim an end to neo-colonial remote- controlled governance by proxy has come.  The time to stop the plunder of the resources of the continent is now. The time to say no to the individual and collective slaughter of our own people is now. The time to say no to diseases that are devastating Africa and the black race is now. The time to put an end to the search of power for the sake of power is now. The time to put an end to massive corruption and abuse of power is now. Africa and the black race must rise again to say no to impunity. Africa must demonstrate that it can stand and survive on its own and provide African solutions to African problems.

To set this agenda rolling, we need to go back to the drawing board and invoke the spirits and seek the inspiration of the pioneers of black emancipation, genuine freedom, and self-preservation like Marcus Garvey, Osageyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore,  C.L.R James, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Milton Obote, Patrice Lumumba, Ruben Um Nyobe, Ernest Ouandie, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Zik of  Great Africa, Anthony Enahoro, Aminu Kano,  Augustine Ngom Jua, Nelson Mandela, Amilcar Cabral, Agostino Neto, Samora Machel, Bate Besong, Fontem Asonganyi, Thomas Sankara and many others to recommence a genuine discussion about the issues confronting us to seek genuine solutions.

We must look ourselves in the mirror of history, scrutinize our past to find out what went wrong; the present to seek lasting solutions to enable us confront the future with visionary hope. . The black race in general and Africa in particular can no long accept to be  used as guinea pigs on which new concepts in international criminal justice are tested in foreign far away courts while we have the capacity to end impunity and criminality against our people.

Lest we forget the many wars in the continent and the proliferation of weapons and resources used in prosecuting these wars have eluded investigations by the ICC, the UN Security Council and the Ad Hoc Tribunals established to investigate supposed African crimes. These crimes and the distinctive category of perpetrators may never be investigated by the governments of the afflicted African countries either. It is common knowledge that Africa does not manufacture the weapons used to commit these crimes on the African continent. It is also common knowledge that the weapons are supplied to foment the armed conflicts by individuals, countries and forces out of the African continent.  We call them arms for minerals merchants.  To request and expect investigation of these weapon merchants tantamount to tasking terrorists to investigate themselves. This will be a tough sell to largely external criminal syndicates to whom Africa has sold its soul.

Chief Charles A. Taku

PAN AFRICAN VISION

BOKO HARAM: REDEFINING THE ENEMY

By Chief Charles A. Taku

There is a fundamental obligation in all armed conflicts (internal, international or mixed) for conflicting armies to define the enemy. This definition is often reviewed to take into consideration the complexity of the conflict, the nature of the enemy, and the resources at its disposal, its intelligence gathering capacity, its operational capability and its war efforts. Without this definition, the danger is great, that military operations may be deployed towards the wrong targets, undermining the war effort, security policy and the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

DEFINING THE ENEMY

Although the definition of the enemy is the preserve of every army high command, the responsibility to conduct this highly sensitive assignment is conducted under civilian political supervision. The Head of State, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, is holder of the constitutional mandate to defend the security of the state and its citizens. How this delicate assignment has been conducted in the ongoing war against Boko Haram in the countries engaged in this extremely complicated and unconventional war is hard to say. It will be unusual if anyone outside a Military High Command of any or all armies worldwide will ever know the definition of the enemy. It is the most restricted document ever. In any case, it is the very heart beat of any army; indeed, the lifeline of any country’s security and defense. If the document defining the enemy were to be captured or exposed to public scrutiny, the army involved in armed conflict may well surrender. It will be futile to persist in battle under these circumstances.

REBUST PUBLIC DISCUSSION

This article does not seek a redefinition of the enemy in the ongoing war against Boko Haram out of the context of classical laws and customs of war, military law or humanitarian law, or the national security needs of each participating country. I have relied on certain contextual factual and legal assumptions which make it impracticable for me to address the content or context of a participating army’s definition of the enemy.

However, considering that the war against Boko Haram did not happen in a vacuum, but within socio-cultural, religious and political contexts, it is but reasonable to urge the leaders and citizens of the countries afflicted by this vicious armed conflict to engage in robust public discussions about whom this enemy is and who it is not. Doing so, will enable protected populations, armless civilians and persons not participating in the war to know and appreciate the efforts deployed to protect them from the scourge of the senseless slaughter to which the ravaging criminal gang has subjected them with so far no visible end in sight. The discussion is also required to enable the citizenry and policy makers to identify the indicators, and the enabling environment that prompts the despair which entices our priceless youth to join this and other criminal gangs in the hope that they are a panacea to societal injustices suffered by them.

MISINFORMATION

Citizens of the participating countries in the war against Boko Haram have for long been misinformed that Boko Haram is an organized group of uneducated religious perverts fighting against Western European education and alleged Western European values. This definition of Boko Haram seemed simplistic even at face value. The distain and opposition to Western Education and values presupposed a commanding knowledge of the said education and values. The constituting members of Boko Haram cannot therefore reasonably be said to be uneducated youth at least in the supposedly Western European sense. This is discernible from the manner they operate, their use of social communication, technology and the sophistication of their strategical and tactical military actions.

WHAT THEN IS BOKO HARAM?

The degree of sophistication of the operational capabilities, the organizational structures, the intelligence gathering ability and logistical efficiency of Boko Haram portrays it as a well-organized military organization with reasonable political objectives. Its ability to attack, capture and hold territory and a well-publicized resolve to carve out a caliphate in the territories within which it operates attests to this reality.

The religious motivation for the war is not enough to explain the wider objectives of Boko Haram to establish a caliphate in the territories it is fighting to control. The geo-political, economic, cultural, religious and environmental outlook of the said territories portray its objectives as potentially wider than those portrayed or publicized over time.

Boko Haram overtime is emerging as a confederacy of distinct interests comprising various political actors in search of power and domination in the wider sub-region. Its territorial ambition stretches throughout the Africa Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, West and Central Africa. As Boko Haram itself has acknowledged, it has a functional and ideological alliance to and subordinated to ISIS and Al Qaeda.

It may also be reasonably speculated that it has a functional alliance with local power seekers and power brokers. These opportunistically function as parts of the puzzle that sustain the campaign of terror that promises to significantly define the politics and future of the afflicted countries and societies within which it operates. Boko Haram was and is a political factor in the local, national and international politics of the participating countries in this war. This may explain the inability of politicians in the respective countries to appropriately or adequately address the underlying motivations and reasons that lead to components of the citizenry in the respective countries to take up arms against their own governments and fellow citizens, many of the victims, Muslims the religions they are alleged to fight to enthrone.

There can be no doubt that some politicians in some of the participating countries love and resent Boko Haram in equal measure. Some have benefited from the war politically and /or economically. Boko Haram has become a factor and fixture of national life in the participating countries. Some politicians actually rode on the back of the frustrations of disaffected Boko Haram youth to power. Having relied on them to wage campaigns of mayhem to undermine their political adversaries’ capacity and ability to end the devastation of the war and its underlying causes, these politicians are incapable of delivering on their campaign promises to end the war once in power. They are even incapable of calling Boko Haram by its real names which are: misery, social exclusion, excruciating poverty, economic alienation and life of hopelessness. They are incapably of doing so, for fear of being challenged to provide solutions to these enabling factors that pushed the youths into the welcoming hands of Boko Haram.

Strategically mischaracterizing a supposed enemy on whose back they rode to power, apart from being hypocritical, it negates the reality that Boko Haram did not just happen; it has been in the soul of our youth for so long. It will remain so, until governments come up with clear attainable programs to tackle this stain on our collective consciences. To attain this objective, the governments must admit that “Bokoharamism” is now a reality and part of the national shame in participating states. This fact must be publicly acknowledged before realistically providing enduring solutions to the war and its underlying causes.

The jobless youths who have fueled the ranks of Boko Haram may not have been driven by ideology when they were sought and accepted to join. They did so due to a desire to seek sad alternatives to social exclusion and hopelessness. Frustration arising from the policies and politics of exclusion that lead to lives without hope, societies without a future, and predatory vampirism of opportunistic selfish politicians are responsible for the revolt of these youths. These factors make them ready raw material for revolution within Boko Haram or other criminal gangs.

In societies where Boko Haram is not yet present, deep resentment of government expressed through the search for revolution resides in many jobless youths. The ongoing campaign against Boko Haram not with-standing, many more youths will readily join armed gangs targeting their governments whom they rightly or wrongly consider to be the enemy. With the promise of a better life fighting to change the institutions and governments that promised them hope and delivered misery and death, many of the youth similarly placed are but time-bombs of potential conflicts. There is an impending need for urgent solutions to the problems that have made placed African youths on the path of revolt spewing devastating wars that have made the continent exclusive focus of humiliating international armed and judicial interventions.

SOLUTIONS

As the battle for the soul of our youth intensifies, the war against Boko Haram is an opportunity for serious reflection on the factors that make these wars and senseless slaughter of Africans by Africans an eyesore of shame and humiliation. There is impending need to rethink the very notion of governance and political power that have led to social exclusion, economic deprivation, joblessness, poverty, graft and corruption. A majority of Africans, in particular the youth have no sense of belonging in the politics and governance of their countries. Participation in the political life of their countries is elusive. The gains that independence promised are shortchanged for the protection of neo-colonial hegemonic economic interests and a guarantee of eternalizing power. This leaves the majority poor, in particular the youth at the mercy of criminal gangs like Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda with competing ideological, political and economic agendas.

CONCLUSION

Boko Haram may be defeated at the battlefield but will never be defeated at the battlefields of the souls of our youth and our nations unless the underlying factors which led to the phenomena are identified and comprehensively redressed. Failing this, the ongoing war may merely be scratching the surface of a wound on the collective and individual conscience of our countries and continent. If the youth are the leaders of tomorrow as some of the political leaders in the participating states who are in the very evening of their lives love to say, then the war again Boko Haram will be lost if these countries fail to wage a war to win the heart and mind of these youths.

There must therefore be a well laid out national policies for a grant of amnesty for Boko Haram combatants lay down their arms and be integrated into their respective communities. Additionally and significantly, African governments must establish policies that alleviate poverty, and place a majority of African people at the very center of governmental policies. The ideological and policy motivation for the battle against Boko Haram must be to rescue the souls of our youth from the fangs of Boko Haram and policies that make “Bokoharamism” possible.

*Chief Charles A. Taku, a distinguished author and Pan-Africanist is currently a lead counsel at the ICC at The Hague

 

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Jonathan’s Conceding Defeat Shocked Me – Buhari
May 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
PRESIDENT-ELECT RETIRED MAJ.-GEN. MUHAMMADU BUHARI (L) IN A HANDSHAKE WITH PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN DURING HIS OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE PRESIDENTIAL VILLA IN ABUJA ON FRIDAY (24/4/15).WITH THEM IS THE FORMER CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF,RETIRED LT.-GEN. ABDUHRAMAN DAMBAZAU.

.PRESIDENT-ELECT RETIRED MAJ.-GEN. MUHAMMADU BUHARI (L) IN A HANDSHAKE WITH PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN
DURING HIS OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE PRESIDENTIAL VILLA IN ABUJA
ON FRIDAY (24/4/15).WITH THEM IS THE FORMER CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF,RETIRED LT.-GEN. ABDUHRAMAN DAMBAZAU.

ONE year after the 2015 Presidential elections and assumption in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declared that he was shocked that former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to him.

The action, he said, was a great generosity and a great patriotism.

He made the remark during a Presidential Lunch for State House correspondents at the New Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

He said: “I underrated the influence of the PDP for 16 years watching from outside as 8 consecutive governments. The experience of the staff, their commitment and zeal is different from what it is now. 16 years of development in the life of a developing nation is a long time.

“This is where I pay my respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan. This is actually a privileged information for you. He called me at a quarter past five in the evening. He said good evening your Excellency Sir, and I said good evening.

L-R; President Muhammadu Buhari in a handshake with the Oldest Photojournalist of Triumph Newspapers in the State House, Alhaji Ladan Abubakar. With them is the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed , SSA Shehu Garba. MAY 30, 2016

L-R; President Muhammadu Buhari in a handshake with the Oldest Photojournalist of Triumph Newspapers in the State House, Alhaji Ladan Abubakar. With them is the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed , SSA Shehu Garba. MAY 30, 2016

“He said I have called to congratulate you that I have conceded defeat. Of course there was dead silence on my end, because I did not expect it. I was shocked. I did not expect it because after sixteen years the man was a deputy governor, governor, Vice President and was President for six years.

“For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think it was a great generosity, a great patriotism.

“Abdulsalam recognized the generosity of Jonathan to concede defeat and said we should go and thank him immediately and that was the first time I came here,” he added.

According to him, his administration had to trim down the number of ministries from 42 ministries we cut it to 24 and scaling down of the number of permanent secretaries in order to save cost of running government.

He pointed out that most of the permanent secretaries that were there for over five to seven years only knew how things were done in the previous years.

He said that the past one year was a tumultuous year for everyone in the Villa.

Talking about his experience in Aso Villa, he said: “Whatever we did in the campaign, in fact we were saying rubbish and that made it very difficult for us. Things were even more difficult during the budget which you all know about.

“For somebody like me, for the first time I heard what is called padding. I think we will recover by the fourth quarter of the year, what padding means especially for ministers who had implement what padding contains. There were very serious developments which I never knew about.

“So really it was a nasty experience for us. It was also a nasty experience for some of the ministers who were new in government, for them to sit down day and night to work. I saw them some of them literarily lost weight because they were sleeping less and eating less, working on every kobo to be spent.

He said that because Nigeria became a mono-economy based on oil, the past governments relied on oil and forgot about solid minerals, agriculture, and other resources.

The President added: “We recently just found out that we are poor because we don’t have anything to fall back to. This is the condition we found ourselves and this change mantra had to go through hell up till yesterday.

“And for you to talk to whoever came to visit us throughout that year I wonder how each of your diaries would be, because people were expecting this change mantra in their own way.

“How do you define change? Luckily our party identified three major items, security, economy and corruption.

“One of the men I pity is Lai Mohammed everyday he is on TV explaining our performance or lack of it.”

He also wondered how some Nigerians betrayed the trust of the people by diverting $2.1 billion meant for fighting insurgency.

He said: “People were trusted and the most recent one which we haven’t recovered from is the $2.1billion dollars, is was given by the government then to the military to but hardware to fight the insurgency which had taken over part of the country and they just sat just the way you are sitting now and shared the money into their own account.

“They didn’t even bother. So we are still trying to get the cooperation of the international community and so on and we have to do it with a lot of respect to the judiciary.

“We can’t go out and talk too much we have to allow the judiciary to do their work. We gave them the facts, the name, country, bank account. If you talk too much technicalities will come in, them we will realize less than what we want to realize.

“So please when next you want to interrogate out visitors try and do some research so that when they are coming next time, they will do research themselves,” he stated.

*Source Realnews

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For Nigeria, it’s not yet morning on creation day
May 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Abdul Mahmud*

Dr-Mahmud-Abdu

Dr-Mahmud-Abdu

The pall of grief that enveloped the two geopolitical regions – south east and south south, the political bases of ex-President Jonathan- had barely lifted when bugles and drums sounded, car horns blared, and machine guns boomed to herald the coming of President Buhari, winner of the 2015 presidential poll.

Supporters of ex-President Jonathan were visibly sad. They chose not to share
the joys of those victorious Nigerians who rooted for President Buhari.
With their candidate losing the keenly contested and divisive presidential poll,
their future in a polity of the winner-takes-all invariably became uncertain.
For them, and understandably so, sadness was a sad place to be.
They learned to carry sadness into their homes, away from streets filled with the cries and chants of “Sai Baba and Sai Buhari”!! President Buhari’s supporters were in charge of the streets. They owned them. They made no pretense about possessing them for good. The Presidential Inauguration Day wasn’t for sadness. Success has many friends.

There were joys etched in the faces of leading opposition figures and their friends who gathered in Abuja to witness that epochal moment never before experienced in the history of Nigeria. For the first time the ruling party in Nigeria was dethroned by the opposition, in spite of the ruling party’s boast of occupying the seat of power for sixty years. As it turned out the ruling party’s hold on power lasted for a little over sixteen years before the impossible happened.

Truly the impossible happened. The mission of the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), to capture power, was accomplished on Inauguration Day. For the APC the journey from the wilderness of opposition wasn’t an easy one, neither was the road to power an easy road to travel, nor were the many battles that raged along the road to power any easier.

The Presidential Inauguration Day met a nation torn by sadness and joy. A strange oxymoron that highlighted the nature of politics in Nigeria: how it gifts joy to those who are victorious at the poll, while losers possess only sadness. Nigeria politics is tribal. The celebrations in the southwest and the entire north showed why tribal ownership of victory was important at the time.

The north and southwest owned the victorious President and Vice President.The northerners and south westerners had every reason to party beyond the Inauguration Day into the morning after the night before, map and renew the boundaries of their geography of joy.

President Buhari understood the tribal nature of Nigeria politics very well. He understood the adverse effect the struggle over possession and ownership of the victors of power has on national unity, so he made that famous remark to counter the claims of possession and ownership: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”.

What a master stroke, what a way of sticking the middle fingers to critics who accused him of being a religious fundamentalist, and what a way to shut ethnic jingoists out of the new power reality, reassert citizens’ belief in his political project, the new reality his presidency enthroned, and reaffirm the change his party promised.

Welcome to the country of everybody and nobody.

Reality check: while in the opposition, Power Minister Babatunde Fashola declared that a serious government could seriously address power problems in six months. A year after the APC took charge of Nigeria, the power problem remains endemic in Nigeria,

Reality check: while in the opposition, Power Minister Babatunde Fashola declared that a serious government could seriously address power problems in six months. A year after the APC took charge of Nigeria, the power problem remains endemic in Nigeria,

For a politician not known for flowery prose, beauty of the art of public speaking
and poetry of language, President Buhari came to his own like a poet possessed by his muse and delivered his memorable address. He didn’t disappoint those who thronged the inauguration venue to witness the historical baton change only prophets would have foretold.

Like the statesman that he is, he delivered his punch lines- each line accompanied by claps- and rounded up on Nigeria’s successor-leaders: “In recent time Nigeria leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers…worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house”.
His mission, no matter how it was misread at the time, was clear. He didn’t fail to unveil his plans to restore order to the Nigerian House; at least, contain the Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast who had for many years attacked the foundation of the Nigerian House and unleashed violence on hundreds of thousands of Nigerians sacked from their homes and villages. As his first major concern, he declared his intention to chase the insurgents into hellholes and promised to address the Nigerian unemployment crisis.
He also promised to take corruption head on. The promise still resonates with Nigerians who consider corruption as the most dangerous condition ailing Nigeria
and who are in a hurry to birth a country of their dreams.
On Inauguration Day President Buhari presented Nigerians the workable agenda for reinventing Nigeria.

How far has Nigeria fared since the Inauguration Day Address?

 

There were considerable improvements in public services few weeks following the inauguration of President Buhari. Reports of Nigerians who enjoyed unbroken hours of electricity flooded the Nigerian public space. Countless photographs of frozen refrigerators and chilled bottles of beer were produced as evidence.

No fresh investments flowed into the privatized Nigerian power sector during that time, but something jolted the indolent electricity workers into action. “The Buhari Magic is working”, his ardent supporters swore. Many Nigerians put the electricity workers love of work to President Buhari’s body language. His chief spokesperson screamed: a new Sheriff is in town.
Perhaps the image of the Sheriff holding up manacles under the hot Abuja sun overhanging the seat of power- Aso Rock- compelled electricity workers to take their work seriously.
One year after the chickens have come home to roost. Electricity workers have returned to their bad habits. Refrigerators have forgotten their first nature and beers have given up their chilled tastes to time. For six hours on a certain day in March, Nigeria generated zero megawatt.
The opposition mocked the famous body language of President Buhari. The Minister of Power, Raji Fashola, became the butt of public joke. Many called him out on the claim he made when he was in the opposition that a serious government can generate enough megawatts of electricity in six months. They asked: “Mr Minister, Sir, do you consider President Buhari’s government unserious having failed to provide regular electricity for ten months?”.
Meanwhile, small and medium enterprises are still suffering constant blackouts.
Many enterprises have closed shops. Many more are struggling to keep their doors opened to customs. The prospect of keeping them afloat, or as going concerns, is dire. The light up Nigeria project is faltering.

The unemployment rate is at an all-time-high. Banks are shedding staff weights on a daily basis. The manufacturing sector is comatose, and it has been so for many years though. The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics says the national economy contracted in the first quarter of the year, putting the GDP growth rate at -0.36%. Recession is here. Damning.
In January the central oil workers union begged the Nigerian government to stop the global oil giants, Chevron and Shell, from extending the sack of 18,000 workers globally to Nigeria. Here is the worrying claim that illustrates the spot of bother Nigeria finds itself: “The scarcity of foreign exchange for importation of raw materials by local industries is adversely affecting the sector as 50,000 workers have lost their jobs in Abuja in the last two months”.
The claim, made by the Chairman of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, accentuates what the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria expressed: “Over ten companies had notified this association about their intention to shut down operations before the end of February, 2016”.
Nothing highlights Nigeria’s acute unemployment crisis than the figures recently released by the Nigeria Police Force. One million Nigerians have applied to fill ten thousand positions declared vacant by the Commission responsible for police recruitment.

President Buhari’s anti-corruption war is progressing slowly. Several politicians have either been clamped into detention or arraigned before the courts. Many notable opposition figures are also standing trials.
Opposition supporters have accused President Buhari of a political witch-hunt. The international media are on a roll. A few weeks ago the Daily Mail of London accused President Buhari of shielding his political associates from prosecution. The paper suggested that ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi is “fantastically corrupt”. Here is what appears as President Buhari’s riposte: the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, a member of President Buhari’s governing party, is fighting false declaration of assets charges.
President Buhari’s supporters readily tell their listeners that fighting corruption is possible under the President’s watch. Believe them.Anti-corruption is one area where President Buhari’s governance imprints have been most noticeable. No corrupt political exposed person of note has been convicted just yet. If Raymond Omatseye, former Maritime Chief, recently convicted by a Lagos High Court for graft, can be taken as a little political fry in the grand scheme of things, then the first big casualty hasn’t been recorded.
Omatseye’s trial it should be stated began under the previous government in 2011.
President Buhari cannot be blamed for the slow turning of the wheel of criminal justice in “the widening gyre” of judicial corruption and incompetence. The notorious slow pace of judicial hearings makes expeditious corruption trials virtually impossible.

Nigerians were promised change last year and so far their groans and pains hint at the reality that the road to change is paved with bumps and torture. The Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, says: “It is mendacious to say that in the last one year, what Nigerians have been experiencing is suffering. It is not true”.Femi Adesina is the typical spokesman who sees no suffering, hears no wail and feels no pain of the suffering masses of the people.

Change is torturous, bumpy ride through time and space, yet there is no visible evidence on the ground that suggests that the current managers of change appreciate the pains of transiting between two political epochs and the casualties in-between. There is growing hardship in the land, growing despondency, growing unbelief in the change agenda. Critics and skeptics of the change agenda is doing NTORR – that non-verbal, gestural mockery, a way of pressing the fingers to the lower eyelids- a kind of déjàvu- at the believers of change. They point at the rising cost of living and the depressing value of wages. They point at the removal of oil subsidy. They taunt them with electricity tariff hike.

Nigerians want change NOW. They are impatient. Can anyone blame them? Can anyone blame stand-up comedians who pull jokes out of the bag to ridicule President Buhari and his supporters? Here is one of such jokes: “If the Jonathan years gave Nigerians HALF-CURRENT and all President Buhari can offer with his change is BLACKOUT, please, bring back the Jonathan years, Nigerians go manage am like dat”.
It isn’t all gloom and doom. This government has brought sanity to the way public funds are warehoused through the Treasury Single Account (TSA), a scheme proposed by ex-President Jonathan which President Buhari faithfully implements. Bombs no longer explode in city centers. Boko Haram insurgents have been chased into Sambisa forest. Many territories in the northeast are now under the control of the armed forces and the civil authority. Two girl-abductees from Chibok have found freedom. There is hope that the Chibok girls will return home sooner.

Democracy, for all its promise and beauty, has its challenges. One challenge is how it guarantees prosperity for every citizen. This is true of Nigeria democracy. President Buhari has spent a year in office and it is stupid, if not wishful thinking, to imagine that the social, political and economic problems of Nigeria can be solved in three hundred and sixty five days. But he has to show Nigerians he is dirtying his hands and his agbada for the sake of the change he promised the electorates at the stomp. Bringing that change about is a task that must be done.

The road to change is a bumpy road. But for Nigeria, it is not yet morning on creation day.

*Abdul Mahmud is a Lawyer and Poet. He is  also the President of the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), and Columnist of the oldest Nigerian newspaper, Daily Times of Nigeria. He was a delegate to the 2014 Nigeria National Conference.

 

Picture Fashola with Buhari- a serious government can generate enough megawatts of electricity in six months.

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NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh to Capitol Hill: Democratic governance is critical to counterterrorism strategy
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L.

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

As African countries battle with the threats of terrorism, the international community should be cautious of giving dictators a free pass just because of their engagement in the fight says Dr Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute.

On Capitol Hill to discuss Terrorism and Instability in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fomunyoh told a Senate Hearing on May 10, 2016, that democracy and good governance must be a fundamental part of any successful counter terrorism strategy.

“Africans of this generation are jittery and extremely fearful of reliving the experience of the Cold War era during which dictatorships thrived amidst grave human deprivation and gross human rights abuses just because some leaders were allies of the West at the time,” said Fomunyoh, who has used the NDI platform to facilitate the emergence of several democracies in Africa.

“The fight against terrorism should not become a substitute for the Cold War paradigm of this century with regards to sub-Saharan Africa,” Fomunyoh said, as he cautioned the international community against giving autocratic regimes a pass just because there are partners in the fight against terrorism.

In the recommendations made to the U.S Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fomunyoh said successful counter terrorism strategies must be grounded in the consolidation of democracy and good governance for short term military victories to be sustained in the medium and long term.

“Shrinking political space, frequent and overt violations of citizen rights and freedoms, and the undermining of constitutional rule and meaningful elections breed discontent and disaffection that form the fertile ground for recruiters and perpetrators of violence and extremism,” Fomunyoh told the Committee Chaired by  Sen .Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

Good partners in countering violent extremism and terrorism should match that with good performances in democratic governance, Fomunyoh said, while recommending that governments need encouragement to invest in rehabilitating communities and creating structures that eliminate conditions that breed the rise of terrorism.

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

“Consolidation of democracy should be approached as a long-term process that requires consistent and continued support with mechanisms to reward or incentivize good behavior and penalize poor performance,” Fomunyoh said in making the case for more assistance towards supporting young democracies with weak political institutions.

Supporting the argument of Nicholas Kristof that education can be more effective in combatting militancy than military intervention, Fomunyoh told the Senate Hearing that more investment was needed in education to give young people more opportunities.

“Friends of Africa must make sure that they do not, willingly or inadvertently, allow themselves to become accomplices in denying Africans their basic rights and freedoms and a secure, prosperous future,” he concluded.

Accompanying Dr Fomunyoh on the second panel of the hearing was Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa United Nations Development Program.

The Senate was the first in a two day Capitol Hill blitz for Fomunyoh, who also appeared before a Congressional Hearing to discuss The U.S Role in Helping Nigeria Confront Boko Haram, and other Threats in Northern Nigeria.

 

 

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Solving Africa’s Security Challenges the Tana Way
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

African Leaders discusses and proffer solutions to security challenges facing Africa at the just ended two-day Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

By Maureen Chigbo*

Hailemariam Desalegn Prime Minister of Ethiopia-welcoming participants

Hailemariam Desalegn Prime Minister of Ethiopia-welcoming participants

THE 5th Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa may have come and gone but its echos will continue to resound in the continent. This must be especially so in the hearts and minds of hundreds of participants who attended the two-day event which ended on April 17, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The forum with the theme: “Africa in the Global Security Agenda” provided the participants opportunity to know the current state of security challenges in countries in Africa, rob minds and proffer solutions to them.

Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, set stage for discussion of the security issues in Africa when he gave the background that led to the formation of Tana and what it stands for. According to him, when the idea of Tana Forum was conceived five years ago, the purpose was to provide a unique, neutral and informal setting for serious discussions among African leaders, opinion makers, change agents, academics, practitioners and partners on African security challenges with a view to forge African solutions to African problems. “We are now on our fifth annual event. The growing attendance and diversity of participants demonstrates the growing recognition of the Tana Forum. Thanks to your unwavering support and immense contributions, Tana Forum has become an invaluable platform for the exchange of views, best experiences and innovative approaches to the fast changing security challenges facing our continent and the global community,” Desalegn said.

He is of the view that no single challenge in Africa can be considered an only African one. In its impacts or underlying causes or implementation of proposed solutions, every challenge in Africa, in one way or another, involves, implicates or requires non-African actors. “The truth is that we are living in an increasingly interconnected and complex world, where apparently isolated and small problems will have global and non-linear consequences; where effective solutions require active collaboration of nations and stakeholders.

“What ‘African solutions’ means is two things principally. First, information about problems, causes and solutions ought to be primarily collected and analysed by those who understand the African context. Collection and analysis of information is not necessarily an objective exercise. It is influenced by the particular frame of reference and embodied values of whoever is undertaking this exercise. In addition, intimate and deeper local knowledge is required for effective design of solutions”.

Obasanjo and Thambo-Mbeki

Obasanjo and Thambo-Mbeki

Secondly, he said the quality of delivering institutions is as important as the quality of the diagnosis and prognosis. “African institutions’ have to be the principal ones that should be entrusted with the responsibility to deliver. The colonial powers characterised informal governing institutions in Africa as backward and barbaric. They undertook massive efforts to install formal institutions of governance, informed by their own experience and knowledge. Formal institutions were superimposed on informal institutions, without acknowledging the latter. It later became painfully clear that these exercises were not only ineffective but also counterproductive,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that the good thing is that we have started the complementary design and use of formal and informal institutions in many areas. When it comes to peace and security, the experience is limited at best.

The notion of ‘African solutions’ is not limited to continental and regional processes and institutions. It also includes national institutions. “If we cannot first develop and implement Ethiopian, Nigerian, Egyptian, Kenyan, Rwandese solutions and institutions, how come we expect to develop and deploy African solutions and institutions?” he asked.

Agreeing that it is important to devise African solutions to African security issues, Prof. Andreas Eshete, special advisor to the prime minister of Ethiopia and deputy chairperson of the Tana Forum Board, in his presentation on “The Spirit of Tana” narrated how in 2010, a few African leader came to the not-so surprising realisation to explore alternative — but complementary spaces for frank, relevant, candid, unencumbered and vigorous dialogue devoid of the unwholesome niceties are typically associated with formal gatherings of inter-governmental and multilateral institutions. At the avant garde of this quest was the much younger, but no less determined, Meles Zenawi, late prime minister of Ethiopia. According to him, Meles was cognizant of the popular saying that you can only go far if you go together and recognized that bringing such a grand idea to fruition is bigger than- and should therefore outlive- him. This was perhaps the impetus that led him to turn to someone much older, almost by twice his age, but with uncommon pedigree as well as encyclopedic understanding of Africa: at various times, ex-Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo. “It is gratifying to report that this event has, in total, attracted almost two scores of serving, and former, Heads of States all of whom share the same vision and fervent commitment to the ideals of Tana in its myriad ramifications. In their own unique ways, each of the Heads of States- former and currently serving; especially those that accepted to serve on the Board of the Tana Forum, have demonstrated that they have imbibed the Spirit of Tana. It is my wish that they would continue to pass on the touch to their colleagues, and other illustrious sons and daughters of Africa in due course,” Eshete said. He emphaised the key attributes of Tana Forum of inclusivity, collectivity and ‘collegiacy’, adding that those who nurtured Tana must be hugely proud- perhaps even surprised- that it has now metamorphosed into a vibrant and veritable platform for informal- but no less timely deliberations on the most pressing peace and security challenges we face as a continent.

Kofi Annan middle and other African leaders at the Tana Forum

Kofi Annan middle and other African leaders at the Tana Forum

Giving some insights into how the Tana Forum has become like a baobab tree that cannot be hugged by one person but by a collective, he said no single person has a monopoly of knowledge and that’s why Tana has become THE PLACE to air a wide range of contrasting viewpoints: from the mundane to the mainstream and discordant, and to the sometimes alternative or deviant. The only common denominator is that these viewpoints are genuinely expressed, and within the remit of securing the much-desired unity of purpose to better set the agenda for the socio-economic and political emancipation of Africa and its peoples. Thus, whether in terms of attracting distinguished participants from all walks life; the choice of the nagging issue to be debated in an informal setting; the conscious decisions to accommodate a diversity of voices that would otherwise be excluded, or even the preference for inter-generational conversations, the sole raison d’etre of the Tana Forum is be a place for frank, immersive, real-world and real-time debate placing premium on African-inspired and African-led solutions. Because no one is excluded on the basis of any of those yardsticks typically used to divide us, Tana has become an umbrella under which every participant can enjoy immunity in expressing their opinion or taking a controversial stance, he said.

According to him, “There is no need to belabor the point that Africa urgently needs- and should delineate for itself- a space where it can tell its story; by itself, for itself, but also for others to listen. For too long, the African agency have been muffled, undermined or completely ignored in the international arena; including on those issues with direct and adverse effect the continent and its citizens.

In the past, the otherwise rich historical- and contemporary- experiences of Africa and Africans were told in slanted, jaundiced and decidedly patronizing ways. At the heart of Tana is therefore both the recognition that Africa has come of age, and also that there is now a strong and more compelling basis to revisit, question and change several of the dominant wisdom and narratives on and about the continent. It is directly in response to these self-evident imperatives that Tana has successfully managed to take on themes that otherwise would be considered too hot-to-handle in other spaces within and outside the continent.”

Stating complementary adages which says that When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate, and another which acknowledges the strength in diversity as in when spider webs unite they can tie a lion, Eshete said the spirit of Tana that resonates from both idioms follows from the concern that for too long, and even with the best of intentions, Africa’s engagement with the rest of the world have been mostly pedestrian and fragmented simply because African have not managed to unite in pushing their own agenda and concrete goals in their long- and mostly contentious- relationship with the rests of the world. “It is precisely in response to this gap that Tana places itself as an interlocutory platform, even if still a fledgling one, to help Africans rethink their place and relationship with the rest of the world, and to do so on their own terms. Unless we unite, particularly on issues that directly affect us, we might just remain like the proverbial goat with a frown on its face when it is being taken to the market, or the abattoir.” he said.

In Eshete’s futuristic view of Tana, he opines that: “The future, as the popular saying goes, is what we make of today. Our failure to plan well today for tomorrow would, no doubt, question the type, quality and longevity of the legacies that we wish to leave soon after we step out of this hall (or even depart this world). Let us therefore make haste while the sun shines.”

It is in this spirit that Obasanjo, chairman of Tana Forum, gave an account of “The State of Peace and Security in Africa 2016”, stating clearly that old or ‘traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today. They include inadequate attention to the issue of diversity, leading to marginalisation, exclusions, lack of popular participation; inequity, inequality, uneven development and oppression; inadequate attention to education and unemployment particularly of youth; gender inequality; and of course religious bigotry. The presence of any of these, or more than one, in sufficient magnitude for any length of time, when unattended and unaddressed, according to Obasanjo, will invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice. Together, they allow groups to seek redress through a variety of unwholesome means, including armed insurgencies and terrorism.

Cross-section of African leaders at the Forum

Cross-section of African leaders at the Forum

For instance, developments in Burundi, the Central African Republic, CAR, Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Tunisia reflect the recurrent volatility that confronts the continent on a daily basis. Such protracted conflicts not only have a debilitating impact on the continent’s pathways to development, but also place huge strain on the peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts of African States and inter-governmental institutions. “Even if, as some have claimed that the number of conflicts in Africa has decreased in nominal terms since 2014, we are daily reminded about the fragility and susceptibility of the continent to a variety of ominous and vicious conflicts,” Obasanjo said. In reflecting on the state of peace and security in Africa in 2015, and its far-reaching repercussions for Africa, and the world, he also underscored the troubling resurgence of Africa’s long-forgotten conflicts. Notably, one of the worst plagued in this regard is the Great Lakes region. This has recurred time and again, in DRC where the situation has remained volatile; marked by the atrocious activities of various armed groups. That conflict, especially in the Eastern DRC, epitomizes the hybrid nature of conflicts in Africa where armed groups are locked in battles that have turned the region into a gangster’s paradise, with serious regional dimensions and ramifications.

This is why the international community, led by African governments and institutions, must bear this in mind in fashioning such a viable and sustainable solution to one of the continent’s most intractable conflict. “The potentials of DRC are enormous and so are the internal contestations and contradictions. If care is not taken, the forthcoming election in the DRC is likely going to further fuel the existing conflict. How the election is conducted, for good or bad, will not only determine the trajectory of peace in the country but that of the wider Great Lakes region. It will undoubtedly also become the litmus for AU’s pro-active management of potential conflict and the seriousness and ingenuity of the international community,” Tana Chairman said.

Apart from DRC, one country that deserves eternal vigilance and decisive action to pull from the brinks of an unnecessary and full-scale war is Burundi. No one should disbelief how quickly an already tense situation in that country, one of the poorest in the world, according to the UN Human Development Index, has deteriorated- especially following the decision by the incumbent President Pierre Nkuruziza to seek re-election despite the evident constitutional backlashes. To date, the government has not only remained headstrong but also seemed determined to defy wise counsel from the international community; including those from the African Union.

Despite the endorsement by the UN Security Council via statement of December 19, 2015 of the decision of the AU to deploy 5,000-strong troops to maintain law and order, and to protect civilians, the government in Bujumbura vehemently opposes its deployment, and even went as far as threatening to treat it as an army of occupation. “It is not surprising to me, however, shameful, that during the just-concluded AU Assembly in January 2016, the Union quietly stepped back from its earlier proposal by adopting a position virtually encouraging what is going on in Burundi. The on-going situation in Burundi only makes Africa a laughing stock.

“Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country. Whatever it takes, a solution must be put in place to move the country towards peace, security and progress; and to stem the tide of flow of refugees that is threatening neighbouring countries. I must express what may be a distasteful personal opinion here: I found it contrary to the Constitutive Act of the AU that Burundi should threaten the AU; and by such threat, abdicate its responsibility. Before it is too late, the AU must therefore live up to its responsibility in such a situation to save the lives of Africans,” Obasanjo said.

However, he is of the view that Africa must not feel shy of demanding and insistently so, for restitution from the US and Europe for unlocking the virus through the action of NATO in Libya. “President Obama’s conscience may be clear by admitting recently that he and his NATO allies created a mess in Libya, but that does not pay for the hardship suffered by our people. They should not look away while we grapple with the consequences of their action. Such strength of AU and regional economic communities to make demands for harm done and to stand firm on our responsibilities must obviate a situation where, like in Mali and Central African Republic, African forces were not able to intervene before troops from outside came in. How do we talk of African solutions for African problems when in the face of problems we are impotent to act promptly and decisively? That was not the situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Darfur. Africa can, if there is political will and leadership,” Obasanjo said.

Another major flashpoint in Africa is Darfur. That conflict alone, long only slightly on the radar, continues to generate unprecedented humanitarian crisis leading to the outflow of tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, the humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate with the displacement of more than 2.5 million civilians on the last count. In the south of the continent, Mozambique is now grappling with a residue of conflict between two diehard archenemies: the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, FRELIMO, and the Resistance Movement of Mozambique, RENAMO. With its roots in an earlier civil war which started in 1977, just two years following a devastating spell of independence war, the present conflict flared up in 2013 due to factors not far from festering power contestations, perennial concerns about governance conditions, and of course, the recent discovery of natural resources such as coal and gas.

Whereas many parts of Africa may not necessarily be experiencing overt forms of direct violence, they are nonetheless faced with unprecedented situations of fragility and vulnerability to conflicts. Zimbabwe offers a good example in this regard; but it should not by any means be considered a poster case. More than two years to the next general elections in 2018, tension is already brewing around leadership contestations and factional politics within the ruling and opposition parties, and between them. The dust has not fully settled on the Ugandan post-election situation, and we must not miss the ominous prospects in Zambia.

Of the 10 countries that the International Crisis Group identified as conflicts to watch in 2016, four are in Africa: Libya, Lake Chad Basin with the epicentre in Nigeria, South Sudan and Burundi. Other areas that are low-levelled but are nonetheless smouldering are Mali and Somalia, even as pockets of insurgencies linger in Algeria, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic. The conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco continues to linger many decades since it first broke out, while ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are far from being spent forces in Egypt. In recent times, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, like Tunisia, have been hit by a new wave of terrorism which goes for the soft underbelly of seemingly conflict-free countries; killing innocent men and women in international hotels and popular resorts.

“No country in Africa can claim immunity against this new wave, and none of them can claim to be adequately prepared for it. We are all potential victims that we are left with no choice but to share intelligence, plan together and work together. Because terrorists have become creative with the use of modern infrastructures of border communication, transportation and financial transaction, African governments must make these facilities useful and indispensable servants in the fight against new generation terrorists whose objective is to destroy, instill fear, and kill while rendering government impotent to provide adequate security for their citizens, Obasanjo said.

In all these cases, Obasanjo emphasised how decades of missed developmental opportunities have partly played a part in the exclusion and alienation of youth who now form the bulk of those that have found alternative spaces for rebellion and other forms of insurgent and terrorist activities”

This point resonated with Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, who in his keynote address entitled: “Africa and the Global Security Architecture” said: “It is no secret that unemployed young men are especially vulnerable to the temptations of violence and easily instrumentalised for that purpose. This is not a specifically Muslim problem: a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40 percent of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs.

In Africa, as elsewhere, the answer does not lie in a purely military response that fails to deal with the root causes of disaffection and violence. “As I constantly repeat, you cannot have peace and security without inclusive development, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of all successful societies. It is largely because these three pillars are quite fragile in parts of Africa that we are still seeing instability and violence,” Annan said. The truth is that the economic growth in Africa over the last 15 years, though impressive, has been neither sufficient nor inclusive. In fact, Africa has become the world’s second most unequal continent, according to the African Development Bank. Until this situation is reversed true peace and security will continue to be elusive in Africa and discussions on is likely to continue at the next Tana High level Forum on Security in Africa.

*Source Real News

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The State of Peace and Security in Africa
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo

‘Traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today and when they are unattended and unaddressed, they will invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice.

|  By Olusegun Obasanjo*

  1. When some six years ago, the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, invited and convinced me to take on the task of establishing and managing the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, little did I realise how African security issues would transform in substantive and radically different ways within half a decade. I shared Meles’ vision and we started to work. In the first year, our topic was diversity and its management as a source of insecurity. In the second year, we moved to organised crime and how to curtail it. In the third year, we dealt with illicit financial flows and its implications on security. Last year, which was the fourth year of the Tana Forum, our topic was Secularism and Politicized Faith in Africa. This year, I am particularly delighted that another timely and appropriate theme has been chosen: on “Africa in the Global Security Agenda.”
  1. Before giving you a panoramic overview of the African security landscape since we met at this same venue one year ago, let me note-with satisfaction-one key addition we have made to the structure of this event: the institutionalisation of the Meles Zenawi Annual Lecture Series. In this series, we examine in as much detail as possible and within the time available, the leadership qualities, styles, deficiencies and legacies of a particular leader. So far, we have x-rayed Meles Zenawi as a leader; we have followed this with Nelson Mandela; then Kwame Nkurumah; and this year, it is Patrice Lumumba. As a young army officer, on UN peacekeeping duties in 1960 in the then Congo Leopoldville, I had the honour of meeting Patrice Lumumba. He was certainly a leader.
  1. The informality that has now become the distinguishing hallmark of the multi-stakeholder Tana Forum is testament to our conviction that mobilising diverse views and perspectives on pertinent security problems, even when the go against conventional wisdom, is crucial in our quest for lasting solutions to the seemingly intractable peace and security challenges we face as a continent. The continent’s challenges are not the issues of a few individuals in Africa but affect all Africans and therefore require all voices to be heard and accommodated. After all, the security challenges experienced by Africans are not contained within the continent only. The same can be said for security challenges from outside which Africans have also to contend with almost on daily basis. Indeed, a testimony to the fact that our lives as Africans are closely intertwined with those of other parts of the world is evident in how violence in one part of the world has grave consequences for stability and security on the continent, and vice versa.
  1. The transnational nature of conflicts today calls for innovative thinking and collaborative action in their resolution. Any sound and long lasting solutions to the myriad of security challenges the continent faces require in-depth analysis of each conflict system inclusive of and led by local actors. Those who breathe and live the disrupting effects of violent conflicts are in a better position to express where the proverbial shoes pinch.
  1. The complexity of existing conflicts, and newly emerging threats, in Africa means there cannot be a one-size fits all approach to managing and resolving them. We need to vary our approaches to suit the local contexts, and to heed the voices of those caught in the web of prolonged violent conflicts. Since we have two days, with eminently qualified persons leading us through the topic for this year, I will not dwell any further on the theme of this year’s Forum.
  1. Now, let us go to the panorama of peace and security challenges on the continent since the last time we all converged at this same venue. It is clear for me that old-or ‘traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today. They can be one or more of the following: inadequate attention to the issue of diversity, leading to marginalization, exclusions, lack of popular participation; inequity, inequality, uneven development and oppression; inadequate attention to education and unemployment particularly of youth; gender inequality; and of course religious bigotry. The presence of any of these, or more than one, in sufficient magnitude for any length of time, when unattended and unaddressed, invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice. Together, they allow groups to seek redress through a variety of unwholesome means, including armed insurgencies and terrorism.
  1. Developments in Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Tunisia reflect the recurrent volatility that confronts the continent on a daily basis. Such protracted conflicts not only have a debilitating impact on the continent’s pathways to development, but also place huge strain on the peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts of African States and inter-governmental institutions. Even if, as some have claimed that the number of conflicts in Africa has decreased in nominal terms since 2014, we are daily reminded about the fragility and susceptibility of the continent to a variety of ominous and vicious conflicts.
  1. In reflecting on the state of peace and security in Africa in 2015, and its far-reaching repercussions for Africa, and the world, let me quickly underscore the troubling resurgence of Africa’s long-forgotten conflicts. Notably, one of the worst plagued in this regard is the Great Lakes region. We see this recurrence, time and again, in DRC where the situation has remained volatile; marked by the atrocious activities of various armed groups. That conflict, especially in the Eastern DRC, epitomizes the hybrid nature of conflicts in Africa where armed groups are locked in battles that have turned the region into a gangster’s paradise, with serious regional dimensions and ramifications. The international community, led by African governments and institutions, must bear this in mind in fashioning such a viable and sustainable solution to one of the continent’s most intractable conflict.
  1. The potentials of DRC are enormous and so are the internal contestations and contradictions. If care is not taken, the forthcoming election in the DRC is likely going to further fuel the existing conflict. How the election is conducted, for good or bad, will also determine the trajectory of peace in the country, but also across the wider Great Lakes region. It will undoubtedly also become the litmus for AU’s pro-active management of potential conflict and the seriousness and ingenuity of the international community.
  1. If one country deserves our eternal vigilance and decisive action to pull from the brinks of an unnecessary and full-scale war, Burundi would no doubt qualify. No one should disbelief how quickly an already tense situation in that country, one of the poorest in the world according to the UN Human Development Index, has deteriorated-especially following the decision by the incumbent President Pierre Nkuruziza to seek re-election despite the evident constitutional backlashes. To date, the government has not only remained headstrong but also seemed determined to defy wise counsel from the international community; including those from the African Union.
  1. Despite the endorsement by the UN Security Council via statement of December 19, 2015 of the decision of the AU to deploy 5,000-strong troops to maintain law and order, and to protect civilians, the government in Bujumbura vehemently opposes its deployment, and even went as far as threatening to treat it as an army of occupation. It is not surprising to me, however, shameful, that during the just-concluded AU Assembly in January 2016, the Union quietly stepped back from its earlier proposal by adopting a position virtually encouraging what is going on in Burundi. The on-going situation in Burundi only makes Africa a laughing stock. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country.
  1. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country. Whatever it takes, a solution must be put in place to move the country towards peace, security and progress; and to stem the tide of flow of refugees that is threatening neighbouring countries. I must express what may be a distasteful personal opinion here: I found it contrary to the Constitutive Act of the AU that Burundi should threaten the AU; and by such threat, abdicate its responsibility. Before it is too late, the AU must therefore live up to its responsibility in such a situation to save the lives of Africans.
  1. However, we must not feel shy of demanding and insistently so, for restitution from the US and Europe for unlocking the virus through the action of NATO in Libya. President Obama’s conscience may be clear by admitting recently that he and his NATO allies created a mess in Libya, but that does not pay for the hardship suffered by our people. They should not look away while we grapple with the consequences of their action. Such strength of AU and regional economic communities to make demands for harm done and to stand firm on our responsibilities must obviate a situation where, like in Mali and Central African Republic, African forces were not able to intervene before troops from outside came in. How do we talk of African solutions for African problems when in the face of problems we are impotent to act promptly and decisively? That was not the situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Darfur. Africa can, if there is political will and leadership.
  1. Another major flashpoint is Darfur. That conflict alone, long only slightly on our radar, continues to generate unprecedented humanitarian crisis leading to the outflow of tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate with the displacement of more than 2.5 million civilians on the last count.
  1. In the south of the continent, Mozambique is now grappling with a residue of conflict between two diehard archenemies: the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the Resistance Movement of Mozambique (RENAMO). With its roots in an earlier civil war which started in 1977, just two years following a devastating spell of independence war, the present conflict flared up in 2013 due to factors not far from festering power contestations, perennial concerns about governance conditions, and of course, the recent discovery of natural resources such as coal and gas.
  1. Whereas many parts of Africa may not necessarily be experiencing overt forms of direct violence, they are nonetheless faced with unprecedented situations of fragility and vulnerability to conflicts. Zimbabwe offers a good example in this regard; but it should not by any means be considered a poster case. More than two years to the next general elections in 2018, tension is already brewing around leadership contestations and factional politics within the ruling and opposition parties, and between them. The dust has not fully settled on the Ugandan post-election situation, and we must not miss the ominous prospects in Zambia.
  1. Of the ten countries that the International Crisis Group identified as conflicts to watch in 2016, four are in Africa: Libya, Lake Chad Basin with the epicentre in Nigeria, South Sudan and Burundi. Other areas that are low-levelled but are nonetheless smouldering are Mali and Somalia, even as pockets of insurgencies linger in Algeria, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic. The conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco continues to linger many decades since it first broke out, while ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are far from being spent forces in Egypt. In recent times, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, like Tunisia, have been hit by a new wave of terrorism which goes for the soft underbelly of seemingly conflict-free countries; killing innocent men and women in international hotels and popular resorts.
  1. No country in Africa can claim immunity against this new wave, and none of them can claim to be adequately prepared for it. We are all potential victims that we are left with no choice but to share intelligence, plan together and work together. Because terrorists have become creative with the use of modern infrastructures of border communication, transportation and financial transaction, African governments must make these facilities useful and indispensable servants in the fight against new generation terrorists whose objective is to destroy, instil fear, and kill while rendering government impotent to provide adequate security for their citizens.
  1. In all these cases, it is important to flag how decades of missed developmental opportunities have partly played a part in the exclusion and alienation of youth who now form the bulk of those that have found alternative spaces for rebellion and other forms of insurgent and terrorist activities.
  1. Let me now come to the dangerous and dehumanizing issue of migration from Africa to Europe, which has made the Mediterranean the maritime graveyard for many of our able-bodied brothers and sisters. There are two basic causes; first, physical insecurity due to violence; and second, economic insecurity due to unemployment and poverty. The answer, or antidote, to both is here in Africa, in our different countries, if only we can muster the necessary political will and commitment to act. The only way, in my view, to stem the tide is to embark on policies, programmes and strategies that create jobs and eliminate conditions that impoverishes, dehumanizes and snatches the dignity and self-pride of our people from them. For every African that dies crossing the Mediterranean either trying to escape violence or economic insecurity, our collective conscience as African leaders must be troubled.
  1. Today, Africans are grappling with the challenges associated with climate change; which, by the way, is no longer esoteric and ‘distant’, but have also become such a difficult burden we have to bear. Climate change not only undermines economic growth and development, but also poses significant threat to the continent’s food security even as it is fuelling other environmental vulnerabilities and conflicts. While climate change is affecting every part of the globe, I would hasten to add that the African continent would likely be more vulnerable to its adverse impacts being already the warmest continent.
  1. The threat from climate change is compounded by our limited access to requisite adaptation knowledge, technologies and institutions. The African Group of Negotiators tried their best to make Africa’s voice heard during the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris; making the strong point that Africa only produces 7% of the world’s CO-2 emissions but faces the most threats from global pollution. The adoption of a Common African Position at that meeting, in my view, was an exemplary step to position Africa on the global climate agenda; and, by extension, on the international security agenda.
  1. Let’s not ignore the myriad other non-conventional threats to security in Africa, but zero in on the one directly linked to the deterioration, or outright collapse, of public health systems in many countries across the continent. Not too long ago, in fact from early 2014 to the end of 2015, Africa grappled with the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, with countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea being the most severely affected. Although the frightening phase seems to be over, but it is too early to celebrate that we have put it, or other diseases, behind us. There is no doubt that the impact of this epidemic was monumental on the continent’s fledgling governance and socio-economic landscape. We must learn the right lessons for the future and make adequate preparation. No country is immune.
  1. The prerequisite to tackle all of the pressing security issues spilling over from 2015 to 2016, and to strengthening Africa’s standing in the international security agenda is leadership. Here, I should emphasize leadership on all levels -local, municipal, national, regional, continental and global. Where and when leadership is asserted, commitment should follow. Commitment means putting our money where our problems are, not expecting others to take the lead on our behalf. Africa needs to start taking responsibility, in concrete terms, by funding its own peace initiatives and developmental priorities.
  1. To start with, AU member-States must pay their contributions to the general budget, and also those for critical political missions and peace operations. An organization that is still mostly funded by external donors, including for the most basic routine of travels, will only have limited elbowroom, or policy autonomy, when the interests of its key benefactors are at stake.
  1. I would like to return to my earlier point, by way of conclusion, that the security threats that Africa faces affect the rest of the world; just as those faced by the rest of the world have profound implication for Africa. This means, in my view, that we have no choice than to work together. We therefore need to explore the far-reaching benefits and opportunities of our mutual interdependence to create the kind of partnerships that are crucial to overcoming common security challenges.
  1. While we are grateful to our technical and financial partners, my take is that Africa has sufficiently come of age to choose its partners wisely if it must secure the common goal of peace and security for itself, and the rest of the world. As a continent, we need to take a serious look our security priorities and infrastructure, and ask a number of overdue questions: what can Africans do themselves to deal with these issues; where does Africa need to partner with international actors; and what should be the continent’s role in formulating security policies globally? Let us try to answer these questions, and more during this year’s Forum.
  • Source Real Magazine.Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and chairman of the Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa delivered this paper entitled: “The State of Peace and Security in Africa 2016″ at the Tana Forum which took place in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Saturday, April 16, 2016
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The Spirit of Tana
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

The spirit of Tana forum encourages open debate on security issues in Africa uninhibited by secrecy that characterises formal engagements on such matters

By Prof. Andreas Eshete*

Andreas-Eshete-450x450At this, the fifth Tana forum, it may well be premature for a full-fledged retrospective. Still, a glance at the past may help to remind us what inspires and animates our annual gathering at Tana.

Tana Forum began as an initiative of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University, Inspired by the exemplary work of the Munich Security Conference. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the first champion of Tana Forum, was convinced that the Forum would serve to promote two companion aims, aims that he artfully and passionately pursued throughout the course of his public life. First, to enrich reasoned public discussion on the challenges of peace and security facing Africans in ways that extend the reach and depth of the terms of public debate; and; second, to foster a shared understanding of the nature and source of these challenges in order to forge a collective African vision, voice and capability on how best to avoid and overcome African’s troubles in this area. The idea was not, of course, to supplement the valuable work of formal institutions. To the contrary, Meles Zenawi worked tirelessly to strengthen African regional and continental institutions such as IGAD, NEPAD and the African Union as well as to elevate their international standing. The aim instead was to complement the efforts of Africa’s formal institutions by exploring the distinctive possibilities and virtues of alternative public fora for reflection and conversation.

Tana Forum offers a public space for reasoned deliberation unfettered by either the mandate and formalities of official fora or the exigencies in such bodies for reaching decisions and taking actions. The determination to convene an unceremonious assembly was evident from the beginning. I recall our distinguished chair, Chief Obasanjo’s, in a characteristic expression of his wise stewardship, casting aside part of his robe during an early forum to highlight the call for an unbuttoned exchange of ideas. The Forum chose to solicit the hospitality of the city and people of Bahir Dar in order to secure a peaceful and beautiful haven, where the participants can wholeheartedly join public discussions undistracted by official engagements. There are various reasons in favor of an informal African forum on peace and security. For one thing, national discussions on immediate matters of security tend to be inhibited by secrecy and other considerations of state. Second, national and other formal fora are not readily responsive to the fact that many challenges to African security increasingly defy national borders, and that this reach extends beyond the continent. Consider, for instances, the deft deployment of social media for propaganda and recruitment by militant groups. Further, personal and public virtues like toleration, crucial for the fate of peace and security, cannot be engendered or bolstered by formal institutions alone. Finally, the strains and divisions that surfaced in the European Union in the wake of the recent flow of refugees to Europe is a salutary reminder of the risks incurred and frailties exposed by banking on formal arrangements.

Another feature that breathes life into the proceedings of the Forum is the unusually wide range of interlocutors. There are in our midst political leaders, senior officers of intergovernmental institutions and prominent members of civic and business communities. Also present are scholars, seasoned practitioners, youth, and Africa’s committed partners. The robust representation of leaders and citizens from a wide spectrum of African society matters because the cause of peace and security is everyone’s concern and its imperilment is felt more by the many poor and vulnerable. On the latter, think of the truly tragic use of abducted young girls as sexual slaves and suicide bombers by Boko Harem. Tana affords a rare opportunity for us to hear African leaders of state and government speaking in a personal capacity and voice. The presence of former heads of state and government, now released from the responsibilities of public office, enables us to benefit from their practical wisdom and experience. The interaction between incumbent political leaders and individuals with whom they do not normally enjoy direct contact may reveal aspects of the character, values and convictions of Africa’s leaders that go beyond or against the grain of their public self –image? Moreover, the diversity of participants and perspectives contributes to the democratic ethos of the deliberation at Tana. Amartya Sen remarks: “democracy has to be judged…by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people are actually heard.” In this respect Tana Forum modestly carries on a venerable tradition of democratic participation practiced at different times and places much as the early American town-hall meeting, the Paris Commune, and the African village assembly, here symbolized by the tree depicted before you.

The subjects so far selected for attention at the Forum address issues central to the achievement of peace and security in Africa. The significance of diversity and state fragility — the theme of the maiden session — has been vindicated by developments in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and by the spread of militant movements marching under the banner of faith — the latter was the focus of last year’s forum. Another session looked into the illicit flow of funds from Africa. The Panama Papers and the numerous African cases already revealed in the files vividly show that the rich and powerful secretly divert scarce African resources at the expense of the populace’s abiding interest in growth and equality, this year’s them unities us to take a measure of how we are treated in the global security agenda and to explore promising possibilities to enhance Africa’s agency in shaping it in the future.

Beyond the examination of these subjects, the Forum now hosts the annual Meles Zenawi memorial lecture devoted to critical appraisals of political leadership in Africa.

The series opened with a look at Meles Zenawi’s bold experiment with federative arrangements designed to find public room for Ethiopia’s many cultural communities and identities. The inaugural session also addressed Meles Zenawi’s learned advocacy and decisive public action to lay the foundation of an African democratic developmental state. Subsequent lectures attended to the illustrious lives of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and, now, Patrice Lumumba.

Alongside the forum, there are now regular occasions for interaction among participants at the forum and the students and academic staff of Bahir Dar University on issues that bear on the concerns of the Forum.

Yesterday, Her Excellency, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, spoke on the rationale for an African developmental state, drawing upon the encouraging experience of Rwanda.

In sum, in a short span of time, the Forum has emerged as a vibrant vehicle for public discussion and reflection on how Africa can be free from recurrent and recalcitrant strife, strike which plainly stands in the way of popular yearning for enduring progress in self-government and emancipation from poverty across Africa. This is an auspicious beginning for joining the quest to revisit and to revive a sense a sense of Pan-African solidarity that we, together would the continued support with his Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagen and our partners, can now carry forward with confidence.

. Culled from Real Magazine.Prof . Andreas Eshete, special advisor to the prime minister of Ethiopia and deputy chairperson of the Tana Forum Board presented this speech at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which held on April 16 – 17, 2016 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

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AAI Injects Africa Into U.S Presidential Race
April 22, 2016 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

AAI President Amini Kajunju

AAI President Amini Kajunju

“Africa has typically not been a partisan issue when it comes to U.S Presidential politics,” said Ambassador Herman Cohen  in his opening statement at a Rayburn House Forum on Setting U.S-Africa Policy for the next Administration organized by the Africa-America Institute.

The statement from Cohen,  representing the Kasich  campaign,summed up the discussions animated by representatives  of candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties still in the race.

“I can be very brief with Senator Cruz’s African Policy,” said his representative Michael Ledeen, before declaring in dramatic fashion that “he doesn’t have one.”

From security challenges , to aid, immigration, trade and investment, lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe, human rights and democracy, the representatives all held  views that were similar.

When moderator Carol Pineau asked if the presentations from the representatives had swayed anyone in the huge audience at the Rayburn  House, the answer was an emphatic no. When the representatives were asked if their candidates will visit Africa on their first term if elected as next President, they all answered yes. Asked on prospects of continuing with the USA-Africa Leaders Summit initiated by President Obama, all the representatives of the candidates were for a continuation.

Representing the candidates were Wala Blegay for Bernie Sanders, Herman Cohen for John Kasich, Michelle Gavin for Hillary Clinton, J.D,Gordon for Donald Trump and Michael Ledeen for the Ted Cruz Campaign.

The discussions were part of the conversations on Africa series of the AAI under the theme Setting U.S –Africa Policy for the Next Administration.Other topics of discussion at the forum included remaining priorities for Africa in the 114th Congress,the Obama Administration’s Approach to promoting Education in Africa, and a fires side chat on best practices for U.S Engagement in Africa with former U.S Envoy to the African Union Reuben Brigety and Amini Kajunju,President and CEO of the Africa Institute.

 

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Tanzania bridge ‘liberates commuters’ in Dar es Salaam
April 20, 2016 | 0 Comments
The president says it should be named after Tanzania's founding President Julius Nyerere

The president says it should be named after Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere

A cable-stayed bridge, described as East Africa’s longest, has opened in Tanzania’s main city, Dar es Salaam, to ease over-crowding on ferries.

The 680m (2,230 ft) bridge links the city centre with southern neighbourhoods across the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania’s leader John Magufuli hailed it as a “liberation” for residents in the city of more than four million.

The Chinese firm which built the $140m (£98m) structure says it is East Africa’s longest cable-stayed bridge.

It is also the first toll road in Tanzania. The prices have yet to be set – vehicles and motorcycles will have to pay, pedestrians and bicycle will have free passage.

Correspondents say until now commuters’ only option to cross over the creek to the Kigamboni suburbs was in badly maintained ferries. – and they are often held up for hours because of breakdowns.

Motorists will have to pay a fee to cross the bridge

Motorists will have to pay a fee to cross the bridge

Motorists also take their cars on to the ferries, and some have fallen into the sea as the vessels leave as they are not always properly loaded.

The bridge links to an area earmarked in 2010 for an ambitious plan to build a satellite city, known as the Kigamboni New City development.

The government also hopes that it will boost tourism, making it easier for people to go to beaches on the other side of the city.

At a ceremony to open the bridge, Mr Magufuli described the seven-lane cable-stayed bridge as the only one of its kind in central and East Africa.

“It has never been built before. Even if you go to Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo [and] Kenya, there is no bridge like this,” he added.

He said it should be named Nyerere Bridge after Tanzania’s first President Julius Nyerere, saying the idea was first mooted by him.

Mr Nyerere led Tanzania, or what was then known as Tanganyika, to independence from the UK in 1960.

He governed the country until his retirement in 1985, and died in 1999.

*BBC

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