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Who will succeed Mugabe?
July 31, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Takura Zhangazha*

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

President Robert Mugabe has served as the head of Zimbabwe’s government for 34 years. But even his biggest fans know it is almost impossible that he continues until the end of his current presidential term. Who will succeed him? Two factions have emerged.

 

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has served in an executive capacity as head of the country’s government for 34 years.

In the process, he has come to be viewed as both an icon of African liberation struggles against colonialism as well as an impediment to post-independence developmental progress.

At the age of 90, Mugabe no longer just represents his own generation, but at least two of them, not only by way of his own participation in the liberation of his own country and Africa but also by way of his example of how to lead a post-independence African government.

He is regularly applauded when he goes to public events in African countries, not least because he has come to represent one of the old guard of African liberation struggles.

Of those African leaders who can claim to have been close to the beginning of liberation struggles, Mugabe stands side by side with Abdel Azziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique. The latter three have however not been at the helm of their respective countries for the entirety of the period since national independence. In fact all of them came to power well after their respective countries independence.

The more significant question is what the impact of Mugabe’s departure will mean for Zimbabwe

So Zimbabwe’s long serving President is unique in that he remains the only immediate post-independence head of government who is still serving in the same capacity in contemporary African politics. And controversially so.

Under his tenure as head of both the Zimbabwean state and its government, Mugabe has presided over periods of stability, allegations of ethnic cleansing, neo-liberal economic policies as well as allegations of human rights violations.

He has also been applauded in the country and on the continent for remaining true to some of the fundamental objectives of the liberation struggle, even if radically or expediently so. Particularly where it concerns the issue of addressing colonial imbalances over and about land ownership.

Despite the demonization or praise, Mugabe is at the end of his long political career. From liberator to government leader who has failed to make his country a model of economic success and back to a re-imagined liberator role again, the Zimbabwean president is now at the long anticipated twilight of his political career.

Even if one is an aficionado of the man, it is well nigh impossible that he can continue – at least coherently – until the end of his current presidential term.

The emerging question has been for both locals and the international community: “Who takes over after Mugabe?”

An initial answer to that question resides in the new Zimbabwean constitution wherein his successor is generally deemed to be his first vice president. Currently this is Vice President Joice Mujuru, a liberation war veteran who has served in every cabinet since 1980. In terms of Zimbabwe’s new constitution she is automatically in line to succeed Mugabe should he become incapacitated or retire. She will however also require a nomination from her party in order to serve out any remainder of Mugabe’s term.

It is however the succession to Mugabe as party President and First Secretary of Zanu PF that is much more contentious. Two factions have emerged, one led by Mujuru and the other by current Minister of Justice, Emmerson Mnangagwa. He has also been in cabinet since 1980. Both have however publicly denied leading any such factions and have also pledged loyalty to the incumbent.

The dilemma of Mugabe’s succession is therefore primarily a problem for the ruling party

The dilemma of Mugabe’s succession is therefore primarily a problem for the ruling party. It has known no other leader since the late 1970s and all attempts to remove him from office in between have been futile. It is only largely due to his advancement in age and the inevitable health problems that come with it that have made the succession issue much starker.

Contenders for the throne: liberation war veteran and Vice President Joice Mujuru and current Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangagwa

Contenders for the throne: liberation war veteran and Vice President Joice Mujuru and current Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zanu Pf is due to hold an elective congress in December this year and that, perhaps, is where it will become clearer as to who is likely to succeed its nonagenarian leader. Barring an instruction from Mugabe himself to exclude her, Mujuru is likely to retain the post of second vice president and by dint of the same, remain in line to succeed Mugabe.

The more significant question however is what the impact of Mugabe’s departure from political office will mean for Zimbabwe. If it is a smooth succession, that is, one that is foreseen and understood, with Mugabe deliberately handing over power, it will not affect the broader political environment. In fact it will probably lead to a new engagement paradigm for Zimbabwe in international relations and politics.

If it is sudden, due to physical incapacity or other unforeseen circumstances, it will cause some political anxiety within the ruling party and in the country. But given the constitutional clauses that outline how succession is undertaken, together with the two-thirds majority Zanu PF has in Parliament, the anxiety will only be in the corridors of power and not widespread. Even the opposition will probably applaud his departure without gaining any new political impetus.

And that sums up Mugabe’s legacy, always maintaining a benevolent but repressive political stability in the country while at the same time refusing to understand that because time and politics are intertwined, at one point or the other a leader has to make way for others. Sooner rather than later.

At this stage, it would be too early to say the country will miss him when he leaves political office. It has known only him as its president and one would be hard placed to measure how much he would be missed until a successor president assumes office.

*thisisafrica .Takura is a renowned blogger, social, economic and human rights activist based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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Why Goodluck Jonathan is Likely to Win the 2015 Presidential Election by a Landslide
July 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Femi Aribisala*

imagesGoodluck Jonathan is currently the only presidential candidate in Nigeria. The others are nowhere to be found.

I have been a student of elections for 42 years. I obtained my first degree in History and Politics from Warwick University, Coventry, England in 1975. In my second year at Warwick, I obtained a scholarship to visit the United States to study the circumstances behind the 1973 election of Maynard Jackson as the first African-American Mayor of Atlanta, and of a major Southern metropolis in the United States since the American Civil War.

Since then, I have been fascinated by elections. Unfortunately, Nigeria remained under military rule for an inordinate length of time. The most fascinating election I have ever observed was the first election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States in 2008. Obama secured the nomination of the Democratic Party against the formidable Hilary Clinton; and he then went on to defeat the Republican nominee, John McCain, in the general election.

Anticlimax

Obama’s 2007/2008 election campaign has since become a textbook-case of outstanding political strategizing in the United States. His superior tactics ensured that his victory quickly became inevitable, even against all the odds. Therefore, some of us were able to call his nomination as Democratic Party candidate and election as president very early; to the discomfiture of doubting Thomases who could not imagine a black U.S. president in their lifetime.

The forthcoming 2015 presidential election in Nigeria is another election that has become easy to predict, but for different reasons. Yes, it is a much ballyhooed election, especially since the emergence of the All Progressives Congress. However, the APC has turned out to be a newspaper political party and nothing more. Its novelty has long died down and a new harsh and dismal political reality now confronts it.

As a result, the 2015 election is not likely to live up to its hype. As a matter of fact, all the evidence now indicates the election will be a cakewalk for the PDP. Goodluck Jonathan will not only be re-elected as president, he will be re-elected by a landslide.

PDP failure

Ordinarily, the forthcoming election should be a problematic one for Goodluck Jonathan. After 15 years, Nigerians are generally fed up with the PDP. 15 years is more than enough time to change drastically the electrical power situation in the country. But this has yet to happen to any appreciable degree.

One year is more than sufficient to make a big impact on the problem of corruption in Nigeria. Again, this has not happened in 15 years. The security situation in the country is now critical and is likely to get much worse before it gets better. 219 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls are still missing, with only dubious promissory notes offered by the president for their imminent rescue.

For these and other reasons, the 2015 presidential elections should be a difficult one for Goodluck Jonathan. When the Iranians held American diplomats hostage under the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, it led to the defeat of incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the United States presidential elections of 1980.

However, in the case of Nigeria, my contention is that the re-election of Jonathan in 2015 is going to be easy. Jonathan will defeat his APC challenger convincingly. He is also likely to obtain the requisite one third of the votes in virtually every state of the federation.

Shambolic opposition

The main reason for this conclusion is that Jonathan is facing a shambolic APC opposition that does not seem to have a clue about what it takes to run an effective national presidential campaign. This explains why, till date, Jonathan is still the only candidate running for the presidency. Although he has yet to declare his candidacy officially, even a three year-old Nigerian child knows he will be the PDP candidate.

However, his APC challenger remains unknown. It is incredible that barely six months to an election where the opposition hopes to unseat a president who has been in office for nearly six years, the APC bigwigs have yet to agree on who will be his challenger. Moreover, the INEC timetable favours the PDP as opposed to the APC. By decreeing that the party primaries for the presidential elections must wait until October 2014, and the campaigns must not start until November, INEC has created a situation where Jonathan has become virtually the only candidate. Just by being president, he is already campaigning and running for re-election.

This means there is now insufficient time to socialize Nigerians about the APC candidate. The only opposition candidates that need no national introduction are Buhari, Atiku and Tinubu. But the candidacies of these men are dead in the water. Buhari and Atiku have contested the presidency in the past and failed woefully. Should they try again, they will fail again.

Tinubu’s candidacy is a nonstarter, given Obasanjo’s recent eight-year representation of the South-West in Aso Rock. This leaves the APC with no candidates of note to field against Jonathan. The only realistic APC candidate at this eleventh hour can only be a national nonentity; and among the non-entities, I include men like Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. An APC nonentity cannot prevail against Jonathan and the PDP juggernaut.

Shallow party-structure

The only party that can field a nonentity and still win the presidential election in Nigeria is the PDP. This is because it is the only longstanding national party in Nigeria and, unlike the APC; it has been in power for 15 years. That means the PDP has firm roots nationwide. But the APC only has roots in the South-West, and even there, this is beginning to unravel; as the recent elections in Ondo and Ekiti indicate.

Buhari is very popular in the North, but he is hopeless at building party-structures. Virtually every party Buhari built imploded. Buhari is a one-man party. This is not very useful in an election where Buhari himself is not a viable APC presidential candidate. The APC has excited itself as a result of the defection of some five PDP governors to its ranks. But this is also not very useful because these governors could not defect with their PDP party-structures.

The defector PDP governors have brought a great deal of publicity to the APC. But whatever assets they had to offer has long fizzled out. A testament to this is the ease with which Murtala Nyako was impeached as governor of Adamawa State. With all the noise Nyako was making, it was easy to forget that he had no roots on the ground. It was all smoke and mirrors that did not go beyond newspaper headlines.

No game-plan

Where then is the APC taking the fight to the formidable PDP? Literally nowhere at the moment! The APC peaked too early. As a matter of fact, it is the party now in retreat virtually everywhere. It lost to the PDP in Ondo and Ekiti, part of its South-West stronghold. Nyako of Adamawa has been impeached. Al-Makura of Nasarawa is on the ropes. Other APC governors are under threat of impeachment, but no such threat hangs over the head of any PDP governor.

images (2)The defection of the PDP governors to the APC has turned out to be a blessing in initial disguise. From the point of view of political strategy, it would have been better if they had remained in the PDP as APC wolves in PDP clothing. This might have been useful in undermining Jonathan’s candidacy. Indeed, they could have challenged him for the PDP ticket, not with any hope of winning, but just in order to dent his strength and create some havoc within the PDP.

However, by defecting, the rebel PDP governors ushered in peace to the PDP. Simultaneously, they exported their “wahala” to the APC where they are now at loggerheads with the old APC brigade in bitter internal struggles for supremacy. For a party that has yet to find its feet, this has been disastrous. Indeed, the defections are now going in the other direction, from APC to PDP; as happened recently in Zamfara. Even the defector PDP governors are likely to lose their seats in the near-future, because defection is proscribed in the Constitution and the PDP has taken the matter to court.

So what exactly is the APC game-plan? Nothing much! All we have at the moment is Lai Mohammed coming up incessantly with bombastic broadsides against Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP in the newspapers. If they really believe this is the way to unseat a six-year-old president and dislodge a fifteen-year-old government, then the APC bigwigs need to enroll in NIPSS, Kuru for courses in “Nigerian Elections 101.”

Boko Haram factor

And then there is the Boko Haram insurgency and the albatross of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. The strategy of the terrorists is that every explosion is supposed to discredit the Jonathan administration. In spite of its hatred for the entire Nigerian political establishment, there is no doubt that the Boko Haram would prefer a Northern Muslim president to Southern Christian Goodluck Jonathan.

For this very reason, a vote for APC is now more likely to be construed as a vote of surrender to the insurgency. While Nigerians are very concerned about the security situation in the country, they are even less likely to succumb to its incorrigible purpose. The indiscriminate bombing of innocent Nigerians for the sake of an agenda that is alien to Nigeria cannot but rally people nationwide behind President Goodluck Jonathan.

A few days ago, Vanguard published a Special Report captioned: “Six Months to Elections, Where Are the Presidential Aspirants?” The answer is that Goodluck Jonathan is currently the only presidential candidate in Nigeria. The others are nowhere to be found.

The APC is a useful counterpoise to the PDP in the Nigerian political equation. But it is only likely to pose a strong challenge to the ruling party in 2019, when there will be no incumbent president to contend with, and after it might have sorted out its internal contradictions and developed firm roots nationwide. But as it is today, the APC is not even likely to survive impending defeat in 2015.

*Source Vanguard

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Malawi's brotherly presidential legacy
July 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

PETER MUTHARIKA IS PICKING UP WHERE HIS BROTHER, THE LATE PRESIDENT, LEFT OFF. PHOTO©REUTERS PETER MUTHARIKA IS PICKING UP WHERE HIS BROTHER, THE LATE PRESIDENT, LEFT OFF. PHOTO©REUTERS[/caption] Newly elected President Peter Mutharika won the 20 May presidential election for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with a third of the votes, and is at pains to succeed where his brother failed. The late President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April 2012 and was succeeded by People’s Party founder Joyce Banda, was a polarising figure for his controversial fertiliser subsidy programme and attempts to hang on to political power. Peter’s initial policies resemble those of his brother, but he and his allies face a parliament in which independent legislators hold the largest bloc, 50 of 193 seats. Peter Mutharika won 36.6% of the vote, which was marred by claims of irregularities that saw President Banda attempt to annul the poll after the initial count. The anger in the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which came second in the polls, manifested itself in parliament during the swearing in of legislators, as its supporters booed and chanted “thieves, thieves” to the DPP’s parliamentarians. African leaders did not rally around Mutharika, and Botswana’s Ian Khama was the only president in attendance at the inauguration in June. Bingu had often picked fights with leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Banda had an ignominious defeat, coming not second but third after preacher-turned-politician Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP. She mainly lost support due to her decision to dis- qualify several candidates who had won primaries, leading these candidates to run and win as independents. Cashgate, the mysterious sale of the presidential jet, added to negative perceptions about Banda. In his inaugural speech the new president, a former constitutional law professor, promised to uphold the constitution and fight graft. He pledged to reduce the powers of the president, to reform the civil service and to push for most appointees to be vetted by parliament. He appointed Goodall Gondwe as finance minister. A former vice-president of the International Monetary Fund praised for the phenomenal economic growth between 2005-2009, when he was finance minister under Bingu, he is set to continue with the reforms Bingu initiated to improve the livelihoods of poor Malawians. The new president says the government will introduce new targeted fertiliser subsidies and create subsidies for cement. Mutharika says employment will be a main focus. Western governments are withholding $150m in aid due to governance problems in former administrations, and Mutharika says he will continue his brother’s policy of courting Asian support. ● *Source theafricareport]]>

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DON’T BLAME ME FOR YOUR PARTY’S SELF-INFLICTED WOES – PRESIDENT JONATHAN TELLS BUHARI
July 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

imagesWe have noted with much surprise and regret, the statement issued by General Muhammadu Buhari today in which he made some wild and totally unsustainable allegations against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Although he tries very hard to deny it in the statement titled “Pull Nigeria Back From the Brink”, there can be no doubt that General Buhari has sadly moved away from the patriotic and statesmanlike position he recently adopted on national security, which President Jonathan publicly commended, and has now reverted to unbridled political partisanship. There can be no other explanation or justification for the completely unwarranted and very uncharitable assault on the conduct and integrity of President Jonathan which the statement he issued today represents. General Buhari’s main grouse which clearly motivated his ill-considered statement appears to be what he called “the gale of impeachments or the utilisation of desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state”. It is most unfortunate that instead of working to put their house in order and resolve the leadership crises and internal contradictions that have plunged their party into a downward spiral, General Buhari and his opposition allies have resorted to blaming a blameless President for their woes. The processes for impeaching an elected Governor are clearly stipulated in the National Constitution which Nigeria has operated since 1999. The President of Nigeria is not assigned any role in that process and President Jonathan has certainly not played any role in the recent impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa or in the impeachment drama currently being played out in Nasarawa State. For the record, President remains fully committed to upholding the letters, principles and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution as he has sworn, and defending the rule of law and integrity of the democratic process with all his might. General Buhari talks about anarchy. He needs to be reminded that President Jonathan from his humble beginnings as a Deputy Governor in Bayelsa state to date, has never in his acts, or utterances, recommended or promoted violence as a tool of political negotiation. Contrary to whatever General Buhari and his new friends may imagine, President Jonathan fully respects the rights, powers, authority and independence of elected representatives of the people, including the members of the state assemblies who have concluded or initiated impeachment proceedings against their state governors on grounds which they consider justifiable. The constitution does not give the President any power to intervene in such proceedings and President Jonathan has never  arrogated such powers to himself  or sought to exert any nefarious and unconstitutional influence on state assemblies in Adamawa, Nasarawa or anywhere else in other to secure undue political advantage for his party as General Buhari unjustifiably alleges. President Jonathan remains true to his declaration that no political ambition of his is worth the life of a single Nigerian. The President has definitely not declared war on his own country or deployed federal institutions in the service of partisan interests as General Buhari falsely claims. Neither has he been using the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, as the former Head of State inexcusably asserts. Also, President Jonathan has never at any time ordered that any Nigerian should be kidnapped or that anyone should be crated and forcefully transported in violation of decent norms of governance. We therefore urge General Buhari to tarry a while, ponder over his own antecedents and do a reality check as to whether he has the moral right to be so carelessly sanctimonious. It may well be time to pull the brakes, as General Buhari says in his statement, but it is he and others who have resorted to idle scapegoating and blaming President Jonathan for their self-inflected political troubles who need to stop their inexcusable partisanship and show greater regard for the truth, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, peace, security and the well-being of the nation. Reuben Abati Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) *Culled premiumtimes]]>

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Odinga tells AFP: Kenya govt 'not serious' on Islamist threat
July 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga in an interview with AFP at his office in Nairobi on July 15, 2014 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina) Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga in an interview with AFP at his office in Nairobi on July 15, 2014 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)[/caption] Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the government of failing to safeguard national security in the face of a wave of Islamist attacks and has warned of mounting internal ethnic tensions.

He said the east African nation was now in a state of permanent anxiety because of attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, and that Kenya should pull its troops out of Somalia.

And he accused the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta of using the worsening security situation “to score political points against their political adversaries.”

“There’s a great degree of anxiety in the country. People are worried about the security situation in the country,” the 69-year-old former prime minister, who lost to Kenyatta in last year’s elections, told AFP in an interview.

“You’ve seen a lot of killings that have taken place in the country, which have reached unprecedented levels. People had expected an improvement but instead what so far has been seen is a deterioration of their quality of life,” said Odinga, leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

Since last year’s Shebab attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, in which at least 67 people were killed, Kenya has been hit by a wave of shootings and bombings in the capital and coastal city of Mombasa.

The coastal region of Lamu has witnessed further carnage since last month, with a string of gruesome massacres claimed by the Shebab leaving 87 dead, according to the Kenyan Red Cross.

President Kenyatta, however, has denied Shebab were involved and has blamed the coastal violence on “local political networks”. Many Kenyans saw it as the government pointing the finger at Odinga and the CORD.

“That kind of reaction is absurd. It amounts to trivialising a very serious and tragic situation where so many lives have been lost,” Odinga said. “When this incident occurred, immediately other international intelligence agencies — the British, French and the Americans — said that it was the work of the Shebab. The Shebab themselves came out publicly and said it was them,” he added.

– ‘Pull out from Somalia’ –

The government accusations also raised renewed fears of ethnic violence of the kind seen during the post-election violence of 2007-2008, Kenya’s worst unrest since independence and for which President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are still facing crimes against humanity charges at the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

[caption id="attachment_10445" align="alignright" width="300"]Raila Odinga arrrives for a Coalition for Reforms and Democracy rally on May 31, 2014, in Nairobi (AFP Photo/Simon Maina) Raila Odinga arrrives for a Coalition for Reforms and Democracy rally on May 31, 2014, in Nairobi (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)[/caption]

“If the authors of this criminal act are known, they should be arrested, even if it was myself, I’m not above the law, I should be arrested and prosecuted. This basically shows that the government is not serious in terms of dealing with these elements who are costing the lives of many Kenyans,” Odinga said.

“We need to move away from this Balkanisation… to a more cohesive society, where there is more tolerance among the communities. We are not yet there. That is what has been responsible in the past for the clashes,” he added.

The Shebab have stepped up their attacks on Kenya in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia in 2011. Kenyan troops now control a part of southern Somalia and form a part of the 22,000-strong African Union force supporting the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.

According to Odinga, the operation is proving too costly.

“On a regular basis our dead soldiers are being brought back in coffins and the government is not announcing it,” he alleged.

“This was never meant to be an indefinite engagement in Somalia. We need to have a clear timetable of this engagement, how long our troops are going to remain in Somalia. In my view, as quickly as possible, pull our troops out.”

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Letter from Africa: Fight back against hate
July 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) won disputed elections in 2013 Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) won disputed elections in 2013[/caption] But you who speaks a different tongue, you from a different village, you in a different class, you from a different faith. And yes, you with a different viewpoint. These are some of the written, spoken, whispered and silent or implied sentiments being expressed by some Kenyans, especially political leaders. Indeed, judging by the number of recent warnings from authorities, police summons and discussions among people, there is quite a bit of hatred being traded in Kenya today. As I write this the Kenyan government, troubled by continued hate talk online has just launched a new hashtag, #StopHatespeechKenya to “ensure hate messages are kept at bay”. ‘Restricting comedians’ This move comes just two days after Kenya’s police chief announced that his force is investigating hate leaflets circulating in Lamu, an area of coastal Kenya that has witnessed a wave of killings in recent days.

Such hate leaflets have already surfaced elsewhere in the country, warning members of the “other” communities to leave their area or else…

Much of the hate talk is politically motivated but some of it is just cover for deep-seated ethnic and religious rivalry. Having gone through the trauma of the violence that followed the 2007 general elections, Kenya is always nervous of events and utterances that could trigger these memories or worse still provoke a repeat of the mayhem. And so the country is armed with a statutory bulldog (although some say it has only one tooth) that barks whenever anyone utters a breath of hate. Established in 2008 in response to the post-election violence, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), is charged with facilitating and promoting equality of opportunity, good relations and peaceful coexistence between people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in Kenya.
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Africa’s most diverse countries:
  • DR Congo: Population 72m; More than 250 ethnic groups
  • Nigeria: 170m people, more than 250 groups
  • Tanzania: 47m people; 130 groups
  • Chad: 11m people, more than 100 languages
  • Ethiopia: 91m people, 77 groups
  • Kenya: 42m people; more than 70 groups
Africa’s most homogeneous countries:
  • Lesotho: 2m people; 99.7% Sotho
  • Somalia: 10m; 85% Somali (divided into clans)
  • Burundi: 11m people; 85% Hutu; 14% Tutsi
  • Rwanda: 12m people; 84% Hutu; 15% Tutsi
  • Swaziland: 1m people; 84% Swazi
  • Botswana: 2m people; 79% Tswana
Source: CIA World Factbook, US state dept, Encyclopaedia Britannica, UN
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In the past, the NCIC monitored hate speech in the media and at public rallies, leading to the arrest of a few public figures, including musicians – but hardly anyone of substance to make an example of. It didn’t help that at some point comedians and artists found themselves severely restricted, as their staple of jokes based on ethnic stereotypes were deemed to verge on hate speech. [caption id="attachment_10373" align="alignright" width="300"]Hate speech increased in the build-up to an opposition rally on 7 July Hate speech increased in the build-up to an opposition rally on 7 July[/caption] This led to an ongoing debate – where does freedom of expression end and hate speech start? Global experience has shown that it is extremely difficult to regulate or arrest people’s mouths – especially political ones that usually have a mind of their own. So, despite efforts by the NCIC and the police, hate speech is rife, especially online. And given the level of vitriol, it is doubtful whether the government anti-hate speech hashtag will make much difference. ‘Chauvinism’ Hate talk amongst politicians picked up speed in the lead-up to a rally organised on 7 July by the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) to demand action to solve the economic, political and security problems facing the country. Moses Kuria, an aspiring MP from the governing Jubilee Coalition, was charged with hate speech for a message he posted on Facebook, which the prosecution said amounted to incitement of ethnic hatred. Cord leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, on the other hand, has in the last fortnight found himself at the centre of a private prosecution by a man who is accusing him of hate speech over allegedly inflammatory words he uttered at a rally earlier in the year.
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Hate speech in Kenya:
  • Most hate speech is linked to ethnicity and religion
  • More than 17,000 incidents reported since September 2012
  • More than 90% of online dangerous speech is on Facebook
  • Hate speech on Twitter tends to be shunned by users
Source: iHub
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With the introduction of tougher laws to curb incitement and as Kenyans have tried to deal with the violence often provoked by the powerful, the politicians have become cleverer with their language. Hate speech is now covert and employs seemingly harmless but loaded words. But the audience gets it. And the speaker knows full well they do. “Removing of weeds” takes a very different connotation from ordinary farming. The audience knows it is the impending destruction and displacement of a community. Reference to the “foreskin” ceases to have a biological or anatomical context. It points to a rival community with the full chauvinism and disdain intended by the speaker. Over the years, hate speech has also migrated online where the cover of relative anonymity has provided a fertile ground. iHub, Nairobi’s famous innovation hub for the technology community, has been running a huge research project in Kenya monitoring hate speech online and is now extending its experience to Nigeria. [caption id="attachment_10374" align="alignleft" width="300"]Political tensions remain high - this effigy of opposition leader Raila Odinga was set on fire last month Political tensions remain high – this effigy of opposition leader Raila Odinga was set on fire last month[/caption] Facebook has been the predominant medium of hate. The year-long iHub research found that in 2013 more than 90% of online “dangerous speech”, with potential to catalyze violence, was found on Facebook.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) has warned that “some broadcast stations are taking advantage of the prevailing political situation in the country to air content containing hate speech”.

CAK threatened to take regulatory action, including withdrawal of broadcast frequencies from the offending stations. Despite scepticism by jittery authorities, Cord’s rally passed off peacefully. And so too did the opportunity pass to tone down hate speech and lower political temperatures by means of a constructive national dialogue between the government and the opposition as demanded by Cord. The Kenyan government does not have a very good history of dialogue with its opponents. The opposition, too, does not have a reputation for much patience. ‘Self-regulation’ The gap created by this polarity is often filled by rhetoric and hate talk. Years ago, when then-President Daniel arap Moi was facing stiff opposition, he often responded harshly to any calls for political dialogue. Any attempt to end his one-party rule and expand the democratic space by introducing a multi-party political system was met with maximum force. A funny story is told of how one semi-educated prominent politician, who was extremely loyal to Mr Moi, advised him to appease university students who were holding protests to demand dialogue. “Your government has a lot resources, so if all that these young people want is just dialogue, you can afford to give them – let them eat it,” counselled the man, assuming that dialogue was a kind of food that was missing from the university cafeteria. I can’t quite vouch for the accuracy of this quote, but I can confirm that hate speech is getting to worrying levels in Kenya and has prompted some to think hard about possible solutions. Many Kenyans are beginning to fight back against hate, especially online. iHub researchers say that they are seeing a lot more self-regulation, with people now more likely to call out use of hate speech. But judging by the Kenyan government’s hashtag war against hate speech online, it may be a long while before the digital space is declared safe. This year, Rwanda has been marking 20 years since the genocide, while South Africa is looking back 20 years since the end of apartheid. Using these historic cases and other examples of hate speech in Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and elsewhere, the African Media Initiative – the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators and which I sometimes work with – has chosen to focus on hate speech during its annual meeting in Johannesburg in November. These are the steps of just a few of those determined to stop Kenya and Africa continuing to sing: “Hate me babe one more time”. *BBC  Joseph Warungu is a broadcaster and media trainer]]>

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Opposition resolve to field single presidential candidate in 2016
June 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Mary Machocho and David Lumu*   [caption id="attachment_10036" align="alignleft" width="300"]UPC president Otunnu Olala speaks to CP president Ken Lukyamuzi during a joint press conference at the FDC head office, on Monday. PHOTO.Eddie Ssejjoba newvision UPC president Otunnu Olala speaks to CP president Ken Lukyamuzi during a joint press conference at the FDC head office, on Monday. PHOTO.Eddie Ssejjoba
newvision[/caption] A closed-door three-day retreat organized by opposition leaders at Ankrah foundation in Mukono has resolved that a sole candidate be fronted to face-off with President Yoweri Museveni in 2016. According to the DP officials, the opposition leaders also agreed during the retreat that an all-inclusive national consultative meeting be convened on July 28 so that Ugandans can debate the political landscape of the country ahead of 2016. According to DP spokesperson, Fred Mwesigwa, it was suggested during the Mukono retreat that NRM leaders, including President Museveni, cultural and religious leaders, opinion leaders and other concerned citizens be given invitation letters for the national consultative meeting that would take place at Mandela National Stadium in Namboole. The meeting that started on Friday last week ended on Sunday with Muntu and Mao rallying the opposition to understand the need to build grass root structures as a tool of deepening their support among Ugandans. The opposition also resolved to intensify the ongoing campaign for free and fair elections and leaders such as Maj.Gen. Mugisha Muntu (FDC president), Norbert Mao (DP president), Olara Otunnu (UPC president) and John Ken Lukyamuzi (CP president) urged their opposition colleagues to avoid violence as a method of regime change. “The meeting resolved that we shall remain united and work together. The meeting also agreed that as citizens we shall go ahead and convene an inclusive national consultation meeting to build a political consensus,” Mwesigwa said. Meanwhile, DP condemned the Kenyan bombing this week that claimed over 50 lives in Lamu, a Kenyan coastal town in Mombasa. The Somali-Islamists, Al-Shabaab have been linked to the attack. Expressing their condolences, DP officials urged the Kenyan government and all East Africa governments for vigilance on the regional approach to combat terrorism. *newvision]]>

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Ailing South African president to work from home
June 14, 2014 | 1 Comments

jacobzumax0South Africa’s ailing and exhausted leader, President Jacob Zuma will miss his government’s first meeting, as he recovers from fatigue following last month’s election. Recently elected for a second term, Zuma was last week admitted at a Pretoria hospital and treated for fatigue, before being discharged on Sunday evening. “The President will continue to rest for a few days and will work mainly from home during the rest period,” the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe said. Zuma’s office said he had already met with all his new ministers and their deputies ministers in May to go over the policy priorities and his expectations of them. The Presidency refuted media reports that Zuma had made certain “unscheduled visits” to Durban hospitals early this year. All visits, Zuma’s office said, are booked in advance and those mentioned were part of the annual first semester check-ups. The ruling ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) reportedly also made an impassioned plea to Zuma to take a “well-deserved rest following a gruelling election” and the naming of the new cabinet. The ANC was at pains to explain that all the top leaders would be taking a break following the release of the election results. Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said the campaign ahead of the May 7 election was gruelling and Zuma needed a rest, while ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe echoed similar sentiments at a recent meeting. Zuma is likely to end his sabbatical in time for the all-important State of the Nation address at parliament on June 17 in Cape Town. The address gives shape to the government’s policy trajectory for the country over the next year.

*Source Africa Report
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Ethiopia: The post-Meles universe takes shape
June 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Elissa Jobson* [caption id="attachment_9918" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1), Debretsion Gebremichael (2), Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (3)  Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Ethiopia: The post-Meles universe takes shape | East & Horn Africa Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1), Debretsion Gebremichael (2), Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (3)
Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Ethiopia: The post-Meles universe takes shape | East & Horn Africa
Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook[/caption] Prime Minister Hailemariam is developing a style of consensual politics, but some politicans and businessmen are having difficulty adjusting. The passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012 has shaken up the business and political elite. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn does not favour the top-down and snap decision-making practised by his predecessor, preferring instead to consult more widely. While this leads to a slower governmental machine, it protects the administration from the odd rash decision. This more collegiate style of governance has opened up the space for a cadre of influential top advisers. Old political hands Bereket Simon, who before Meles’s death had been slated to leave office in the next generational purge, and Abay Tsehaye are key members of a brain trust intended to replace the phenomenal intellect of the former Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leader. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1) has eased into his new role as foreign minister. He had spearheaded the country’s remarkable health reforms and now has room to make a name for himself on the global stage. Unlike Meles, Hailemariam does not seem to crave the international spotlight. Tedros’s popular Twitter feed – he has nearly 24,700 followers – and his strong statements on Africa and the International Criminal Court while chairman of the African Union’s executive council, have given him increased visibility. Hailemariam’s appointment, soon after taking office, of two additional deputy prime ministers has given further clout to Debretsion Gebremichael (2), deputy chairman of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the constituent parties of the EPRDF. Aside from his dual portfolio as deputy prime minister for the finance and economic cluster and minister of communication and information technology – the latter of which sees him in control of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) – he is also chairman of two newly created companies, Ethiopian Electric Power and Ethiopian Electric Services. Arguably, this makes him one of the most influential men in government. Azeb Mesfin, Meles’s once powerful widow, has suffered mixed fortunes since his death. Despite her failure to win the election for mayor of Addis Ababa, losing to former transport minister Diriba Kuma in July 2013, she remains a member of the political bureau of the TPLF, the EPRDF’s executive commit- tee and the Endowment Fund For The Rehabilitation of Tigray. Public and private The business world was rocked by the arrest in May 2013 of more than 30 suspects – including Melaku Fenta, director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority – on charges including tax evasion and receiving bribes. But Ethiopia remains a land of opportunity, if one goes by the number of private equity companies passing through Addis Ababa. The big state businesses like the Sugar Corporation and ETC remain unchallenged by private sector rivals. Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew continues to look untouchable as he sits atop the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC). A state-owned industrial company consisting of close to 70 engineering enterprises and military hardware manufacturing entities, METEC is the only local contractor involved in the flagship $4.3bn Grand Renaissance Dam project. Another survivor of the Meles era, managing director of Ernst & Young Ethiopia Zemedeneh Negatu, is making a push into technology companies in his private capacity. In a well timed move into mobile banking and IT training, Zemedeneh is poised to reap dividends. Although he was powerful under Meles, Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (3)‘s star is no longer shining so brightly. Work on the Saudi Arabian and Ethiopian businessman’s enormous five-star hotel, situated on the compound of the African Union’s headquarters, stalled for several months last year. His company Saudi Star’s rice farm is not yielding results, and Pakistani company MCG Consulting, which had been working on the project, pulled out at the end of last year. *Source Africa Report]]>

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Defence Minister To Succeed President Mugabe?
June 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

By: Marcus Mushonga* President-Mugabe-300x200Zimbabwe’s Minister of Defence,Sydney Sekeramayi, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed long-serving President Robert Mugabe. Insiders close to the race to succeed the President Robert Mugabe revealed that Robert Mugabe was nurturing his defence minister to take over the reins when he retires from office probably before the 2018 presidential election. It emerged Sekeramayi’s re-appointment to his current post after last year’s poll and subsequent cabinet appointment, put him in good stead to assume office ahead of Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Vice President, Joyce Mujuru. The duo has long been touted as candidates to succeed Mugabe amid reports of infighting within the ruling ZANU (PF) party. Mugabe removed Emmerson Mnangagwa from defence ministry after the 2013 polls. It is said he does not “trust” Mnangagwa. “In Zimbabwean politics, when you don’t have the backing of the military, police, CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS), then you stand no chance. In the case of Sekeramayi, he has the blessings of Mugabe’s army generals, police intelligence and prisons, a move that will prove difficult for both Joyce Mujuru (deputy president) and Mnangagwa to undo,” said Murangami Muushe, a Harare political observer. While other critics might argue that Mujuru could assume the presidency when Mugabe retires by virtue of being the deputy, the generals, who immensely benefited from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Marange diamonds, would not allow anybody for that matter to stifle their wealth other than endorsing and anointing Sekeramayi to protect their interests. The generals are famous for openly telling the foreign sponsored Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai that they would not endorse his election as he did not have liberation war credentials. They threatened to remove any leader coming to power other than President Mugabe. It is believed the generals would insist on similar action if Sekeramayi is challenged. “From the look of things, it appears the Zimbabwe’s next president is a done deal. From my point of view, I think Sekeramayi is preferred to Mujuru and Mnangagwa because he does not have a record in corruption and keeps a lower profile from the media. “Most importantly, Sekeramayi is highly educated, more acceptable, intelligent and is patriotic than the duo,” Isaiah Mutariri, a history teacher in the low density suburbs of Chitungwiza, said. Others with an outside chance, according to sources, include Dydmus Mutasa and Professor Jonathan Moyo. *Culled From africanglobe]]>

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S Sudan's warring leaders agree deadline for new govt: Ethiopian PM
June 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

South Sudan’s president and rebel chief met in a bid to end six months of civil war, agreeing to forge a transitional government within a 60-day deadline, Ethiopia’s prime minster said.  

download (7)South Sudan’s president and rebel chief met on Tuesday in a bid to end six months of civil war, agreeing to forge a transitional government within a 60-day deadline, Ethiopia’s prime minster said. “They agreed to complete the dialogue process within the coming 60 days on what how, when and who… (for) the formation of the transitional government,” Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn said, after the rare meeting between President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar alongside regional leaders. Mediators, frustrated by the failure of previous deals including two ceasefires, threatened tough action if the rivals once again ignore agreements made. “Any attempt to stand in the way of peace will have consequences,” Hailemariam warned. The crisis in the young nation has already killed thousands and forced more than 1.3 million people from their homes. Both Kiir and Machar had also agreed to “fully to commit themselves to already signed agreements,” Hailemariam added. Kiir and Machar met on the sidelines of a regional leaders’ summit in Addis Ababa organised by the East African IGAD bloc, which is brokering the slow-moving negotiations. “If they don’t abide to this agreement… IGAD as an organization will act to implement peace,” Hailemariam said, warning of possible “sanctions and punitive actions” without giving further details. US envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth said the talks offered “the last, best chance for the warring parties to prove their commitment to holding their nation and their people together”. It was the first encounter of the enemies since signing a May 9 ceasefire – broken within hours – and only the second meeting since the civil war began in mid-December. “The time for military action to change the status quo on the ground has passed. It’s time now to move forward,” Booth added, speaking at the summit opening. Delegates for Kiir and Machar have been meeting in luxury hotels in the Ethiopian capital since January, with both sides bickering over the agenda and even the venue of discussions. Previous rounds of peace talks have made little progress and been repeatedly delayed, so far costing over 17 million dollars (12 million euros), IGAD officials said. Earlier, mediators issued a stinging rebuke of the rivals, accusing them of seeking military victory rather than a negotiated end to the civil war. Mahboub Maalim, IGAD executive secretary, said both Kiir and Machar were “stupid” if they thought they could win on the battlefield. “If we want to apportion blame, it’s theirs. I think sometimes they thought they could win on the ground militarily, something which is very stupid,” Maalim said.
*Source AFP/fl/channelnewsasia]]>

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Why Jonathan should forget 2015— Bukola Saraki
June 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sen. Saraki Sen. Saraki[/caption] Dr Bukola Saraki, two- time governor of Kwara State, was elected senator for Kwara Central to succeed his sister, Gbemisola Saraki-Fowora. He was also a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) until he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he speaks on insecurity in Nigeria, what needs to be done to arrest the Boko Haram militancy and maintains that the President Goodluck Jonathan-led government has not done enough in tackling the situation. He says the APC is the party to beat come 2015 general elections. Excerpts: BY GBENGA OKE* There was a report credited to you that guns and bombs will not help in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria. In the present situation the country has found itself, what do you think needs to be done? In the article I wrote, the point I was making is that guns and bombs alone cannot solve the problem of Boko Haram and insurgency in Nigeria. I said there are two major critical factors which are leadership and political cooperation. On the political cooperation leg, I demanded that all stakeholders, whether you are a governor or a senator, the President, should come together leaving behind whatever our political views are and consider this war as not against the current government but as a war that is being fought against Nigeria as a country and that Nigeria is for all of us whether you are in government or you are in the opposition. There must be an environment that is created that allows everybody believe that he has some role. The second part is leadership which falls squarely on the doorstep of Mr. President to provide. When you bring the two features together, you will realize that this war is not limited to an attack on President Jonathan’s government alone; I think it is a responsibility for all of us. That is very important because it determines the approach of government and it also determines the support by the opposition. I think one of the problems we have with the issue of Boko Haram is that government said some people who don’t want it to succeed are behind it. The issue is that the insecurity affects the whole country.  So, I think political will and leadership will help address some of these issues. It is not just going to there to throw bombs, the issue of poverty must be addressed and there must be commitment. Some of the stories you hear are just crazy. You hear soldiers talking about allowances not being paid on time; that does not help the fight against insurgency. There must be the right approach to address the problem. The fear I have is the continued loss of lives but I don’t believe the problem is not in-surmountable. So I do not have the fear that we cannot bring an end to this insurgency. I am very confident that if we are determined, focused and sincere, we can bring this to an end. The National Assembly just approved an extension of the state of emergency in the three states of North-east worst hit by insurgency. Many have maintained that the emergency in place in those states never achieved any desired result and there might be no need for extension. Do you think the extension will play a major role in curtailing the Boko Haram activities in those states? From the way I see it, I don’t think it has worked but, at the same time, those who come from that part of the country say it is necessary and the military say they want it; we should not give the military any excuse not to perform. I don’t think state of emergency is our number one priority. I think funding, right morale of the officers, political cooperation, those things rank up there before the state of emergency.We have a situation whereby soldiers are complaining that they are not getting paid, nobody will believe this because of the kind of resources we have in this country. But with the National Assembly passing a resolution saying government should come with a supplementary budget so that enough funding can be approved and with the assistance we are getting from the international community, definitely we have stepped up. These new measures and actions will make a difference not just because we just renewed the state of emergency. I think the next three months are crucial for government because too many lives have been lost and too much time has been wasted. The international community and many Nigerians have condemned President Jonathan for taking action too late on the abduction of the Chibok girls. Do you agree the President acted late? When you have a President, he must be ready to take the good and the bad. The responsibilities are many especially in the area of security. You can see what happened in South Korea, an issue which the Prime Minister has nothing to do with; it was a private company affair, he pleaded with the people. So these are the responsibilities you take as the number one citizen of a country. That is why I said leadership is key. And on an issue like this, because of the federalism we operate, the governors of those states must also play their own role to support. In the case of Chibok, people are asking why it took Federal Government a long time to respond; it took government that long because it was in denial, some people were spinning it was the opposition’s joker. So time was lost and we were not effective as we should have been. That is why those comments were coming from leaders around the world because they didn’t see the zeal; they didn’t see the passion and then you hear a country that has the GDP of almost $500billion saying its military cannot be paid, their allowances are not paid as and when due, they are not as armed as the terrorists. You expect that from a poor country, not a country like Nigeria with N4 trillion budget. It would have been a different story assuming we have all the equipment, the military’s morale is high, but to say Boko Haram is better equipped than our military does not speak well for government. Many people have argued that there is nothing different between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC). Their reason is that many people who regard themselves as democrats in the APC defected from the PDP claiming no internal democracy, but with the result of the APC congresses, many have accused the APC of doing same. How do you react? [caption id="attachment_9761" align="alignright" width="300"]Goodluck Jonathan Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] There is a level of democracy in APC. There will be different areas where people have lost out and are complaining that they are not satisfied with the process.  When you say there is no difference between the APC and the PDP, I think the differences are enormous. First of all, if we look at governance, the level of performance by the PDP as regards the need of the people, I think the PDP under this administration has not done well at all.   APC is more accountable to the people and trying to make sure that all promises made to the people are fulfilled. If you look at the APC states, you can see infrastructural development, good governance. Also, if you look at party congresses now, they are pretty much like party primaries, so you expect this kind of thing and I think some of the issues have been brought to the table to be resolved. You do not find where the party leadership determined the results, what we have seen is some fraction happening at the local level. What we used to see in the PDP in some cases is the national headquarters driving the processes and not allowing the states to do what they want. What we have in APC is that within a state, there might be two or three groups competing for leadership and that is healthy in any democracy. The APC is waxing stronger and has always played its role as the main opposition in Nigeria. However, many Nigerians still doubt the ability and sincerity of the party especially as we move closer to the 2015 elections. What do you think will make your party different? For any Nigerian today, the choice is very simple. If you believe the country is going in the right direction, you believe that the country is addressing the issue of insecurity, you believe the country is addressing the issue of job creation for youths, you believe the level of corruption that is being addressed is satisfactory, then you have no business with APC. Your choice is simple; continue to vote for the PDP. But if you truly believe that Nigeria can be better off, you believe the government is not addressing corruption, you believe that this level of insecurity we have seen in unacceptable, you believe our youths can be better off, you believe there can be a better Nigeria and there is need for us to change, then your choice will be APC. I think each individual in Nigeria must be able to assess what is happening in the country. You have to first ask yourself whether the PDP government has failed; if your answer is yes, your fear or apprehension that when APC gets there, will they do better?, that should not be a reason for you not to vote out a non-performing government. If a government has not performed, you vote that government out of power.But you will agree with me that the so-called democrats in APC today all moved from the PDP and that is still a dent on APC…….. I can tell you that there will be difference in the two parties. I left the PDP, but if you look at my antecedents either as governor or senator, you can see what I stand for. I left the PDP because I was tired of saying this is wrong, but we could not bring about the desired change and many of us who found ourselves in APC have common values on some of these issues. To leave a ruling party is not an easy decision. It is easier for you to stay in that comfort zone, but if you sit down and ask yourself questions, the issue of security, are we addressing it? Forget the politics, oh they don’t like, it is one part of the country that does not like my government, forget whether they like your government or not, the question is, are you addressing the issues or not? Corruption, is it being addressed?   Unemployment is there. People like us have stood on some of these issues. I was in the Senate in May 2011 and by September 2011,  I was shouting that fuel subsidy management consuming close to N1trillion was wrong. I was in the PDP then; we were doing all these things because we could see the implication. If you are losing about N1trillion to subsidy, what is your budget? So we found ourselves coming together under a party based on our views and antecedents. So, what people should be looking at is the character of some of us who are driving the issue of change, it is not based on personal interest; it is based on the need that we see dangers in the way we are going as a country and that is what the world is telling us today. We have said this a long time ago and we have been vindicated. These are people who have risked everything; fighting in a third world country, standing up against government is not easy; you are harassed, blackmailed, intimidated. After going through all that, you think we will not bring about change? That level of commitment will definitely bring about a better Nigeria. Nigerians find it difficult to trust politicians characterized in the same manner whether APC or PDP.   How will APC convince Nigerians that the party stands for true change just as you have said? It is by our actions, our policies, the character of the people speaking. Somebody who has been speaking in the opposition, who has been fighting corruption in the key sectors, he has shown consistency that these are his views. He is saying the status quo should not remain. APC can’t be worse than what we are going through right now, we have brought government to all time low. We have had several governments in this country, but we have never had a time where the international community was describing our government as this. Go bring the records out from the days of President Obasanjo and see whether we had this kind of perception. It cannot be any worse than this. So, in trying to use the excuse that we do not know whether the APC can be any better is a very negative approach. We need to have a more positive approach; we need to ask ourselves whether this system is working. You cannot deny the fact that you are a force to reckon with in the politics of Kwara today….. LAGOS-GOODLUCK-SAMBO-AND-SI think what we are trying to do as much as possible is to again improve the lives of our people, be there for them in terms of economic development. As a leader, you must be able to be there for the people you claim to be serving and one must know every point in time that you are holding a position to serve the people. You must make yourself accessible and accountable to the people who are voting for you. And that is what we are doing and that is part of being a consummate politician all the time. I regard some politicians as seasonal politicians, you only see them when it’s like six months to the election, they are not there to understand the needs of the people; they are not there for the people when they should be. I think a lot of people in Kwara have seen through that, they appreciate the bond of those leaders and politicians that are with them. We relate with them at all time. What is your relationship with the incumbent governor of Kwara state,  Abdulfatah Ahmed? We have a good relationship. But there are reports that there was a kind of pact between you and the governor that he will run only a term and that is causing some rift between ……. (Cuts in) I think all those stories are just what you people in the media houses are using to sell your newspapers. You wake up and not based on anything on ground, you just write all those stories. I can tell you and the people back home can tell you that I and Governor Ahmed have a good relationship and we are working well. The issue before us is to ensure that the party meets its promises to the people in the state. Our relationship is very cordial. But it is being claimed you don’t like his leadership style. Will you say you are satisfied with the level of governance he has provided for the state? The government is doing well. The government just created about 26, 000 new jobs. He promised it last December and delivered it now, he has done very well putting in mind that unemployment is a major issue all over the world and in Kwara as well. He has also done a lot in education, healthcare and other sectors. One is not surprised because he has the capacity to do it. So he is doing well. You are a former governor and now a member of the National Assembly. Several people have argued that it is not normal after serving eight years as governor, then you moved over to the National Assembly. I don’t see any big issue in that. I find it interesting. At the end of the day, somebody can decide to serve his people in any position and I think it depends on the electorate whether such person will win or lose election. I mean people are not appointed into such positions or force themselves there, there are processes and I think if people still want to be in public service, why does it matter whether they are former governors or not? I think they even add more value to the system. So I don’t get what the message out there is. Is it that they should not go to the Senate, or they are not up to standard, or they cannot contribute well on the floor of the Senate? It’s still boils down to the fact that Nigerians are dissatisfied with the fact that after ruling a state for eight years,   you move over to the National Assembly because you want to remain relevant….. The question is when that man was a governor, did he perform? And if he performed, did he win the election? If he won the election, then where is the problem? I think we must begin to believe in our system and, as such, at the end of the day, the National Assembly members are representing the people and if the people say this is the person they want, why do me and you begin to question that? There was a former governor that contested the election, he lost. So it’s not automatic. So, it is not just because they are former governors alone, it is because they must have performed in the manner that justified the confidence of their people. If they have not performed, they will lose election. I think people should lay emphasis on what they have done as state governors. On the National Conference From day one, it was clear that it was going to be a jamboree. Where is it going? What constitutional power is being done on the assumption that the National Assembly may allow the possibility of considering the reports? I think those should have been done before the conference. I don’t see much coming out of it; yes, we will have different recommendations but having recommendations is not the issue. The question is, how do you bring those recommendations to be implemented? At the moment, there is no tool or law to facilitate that. If the National Conference ends tomorrow, what next? It is good to talk for talking sake but now we have gone beyond talking sake, we have to start looking at making things happen and the necessary environment and necessary laws that should have been in place are not in place, so I really don’t see much coming out of it. *Source Vanguard Nigeria  ]]>

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