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Liberian ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dedicates $5M prize to women’s empowerment
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Bethlehem Feleke*

Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reacts with the medal after receiving the Ibrahim Prize, the world's biggest individual prize for Achievement in African Leadership, during 2018 Ibrahim Governance Weekend at Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda late April 27, 2018. She is the first woman who receives the award as 5th laureate since 2007. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. / AFP PHOTO / Cyril NDEGEYACYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images

Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reacts with the medal after receiving the Ibrahim Prize, the world’s biggest individual prize for Achievement in African Leadership, during 2018 Ibrahim Governance Weekend at Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda late April 27, 2018.
She is the first woman who receives the award as 5th laureate since 2007. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. / AFP PHOTO / Cyril NDEGEYACYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN)Former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday accepted a $5 million prize for excellence in African leadership — and said she’ll use it to establish a center for the empowerment of women.

Sirleaf, the first woman to be awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize, gave her acceptance speech on the opening night of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend in Kigali, Rwanda.
Sirleaf, 79, stepped down early this year after two terms as Liberia’s president. The prize recognizes her role in the West African nation’s recovery from years of devastating civil war, the prize committee has said.
She plans to use the prize money to establish the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, which she said is “designed to support women as agents of change, makers of peace, and drivers of progress.”
Sirleaf made women’s progress a key focus of her speech.
“We must tackle the historical disadvantages which have made women political outsiders,” said Sirleaf, who was Africa’s first democratically elected woman president. “It is my hope that women and girls across Africa will be inspired to break through barriers and to push back the frontiers of possibilities.”
She was met with a standing ovation from leaders across Africa, who will spend the rest of the weekend in discussions about how to tackle the continent’s challenges as part of the Ibrahim Forum. This year’s forum focuses on public service.
The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched the humanitarian award in 2007 to celebrate democratically elected African presidents and prime ministers who have developed their countries and followed their constitutional term mandates. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is among its laureates.
Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecommunications businessman and billionaire, created the foundation bearing his name in 2006. It uses 88 criteria to rate the governance of African countries.
The $5 million prize is distributed over 10 years, and winners receive $200,000 every year for life thereafter.
The prize had not been awarded since 2014 because no eligible or worthy candidate was identified. The last one was given to former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Five people, including Sirleaf, have won the prize.
*CNN
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MTN Group commits to creating 1000 jobs in support of the YES initiative
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
MTN Group today confirmed its support of the Youth Employment Service (YES) and has committed to the creation of 1000 jobs within the first year of the initiative.
In March, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched YES, a business-led collaboration with government and labour which aims to empower one million young South Africans by offering paid quality work opportunities over the next few years.
MTN will be creating the 1000 jobs across its South African business and Group head office, covering both operational and functional roles.
“YES is an innovative social partnership that has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth and development,” says MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter.
“MTN loves fresh and bold solutions and that’s what YES is bringing to South Africa’s unemployment crisis. We’re proud to be a supporter of the YES programme and look forward to welcoming more companies to the YES Team so that together, we can drive sustainable change for the unemployed youth of our country,” Shuter says.
Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES, says the success of the initiative now lies in bringing scale to the operation.
“Research has consistently shown that young people, with at least a year of paid work experience, are significantly more likely to secure permanent employment after that first year. South African business holds in its collective hands the chance to turn the tide on the scourge of youth unemployment and we are very pleased to welcome MTN Group as one of the forerunner companies to Team YES,” Ismail-Saville says.
 “The return on the investment in creating pathways for youth that are currently locked out of the economy will be a significant return for all businesses, in the longer term. On the other hand, the costs of ignoring six million of our marginalised youth will be a far higher price to pay, for our economic future,” she adds.
YES is supported by Government and the initiative is individually cited in the proposed amendments to the B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) Codes of Good Practice. Business and the public are encouraged to give inputs and comments on these amendments. Comments will be accepted until 29 May 2018.
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31 December 2017, MTN recorded 217.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
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Christopher Katongo: Zambia must do more for crash families
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stanley Kwenda*

Former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo says his country needs to make families of the 1993 crash victims feel truly honoured

Former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo says his country needs to make families of the 1993 crash victims feel truly honoured

Christopher Katongo, who captained Zambia to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, says his country should do more to recognise the players and officials who died in 1993 in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon.

The exact cause of the fatal crash on the night of 27 into 28 April has never been fully established.

All 25 members of the Chipolopolo squad, including coaches, as well as five crew members died as they were travelling for a World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar.

“The Zambian people will respect you when you are at the level they want you at, but when you are not they don’t want to cherish what you have done,” he told BBC Sport.

“Zambia’s attitude is different from Europe’s. In my country they can have meetings at the stadium saying ‘We are remembering blah blah blah…’ – they will talk about it for sure but won’t do anything with it.

“We have to remember in a way that the family actually has to feel it. We are not doing enough for the family to really feel we had a hero.

“I know the government is doing something – there’s a heroes stadium – but these people died in battle and we need to remember them in a way that the families will feel appreciated.”

As well as the US$4 million allocated to the families in 2002, those who died are all buried at Heroes Acre, which is also home to a monument in their memory.

A monument to the people who died in the 1993 crash and the National Heroes Stadium
Heroes Acre is home to a monument in the memory of those who died and it s next to the National Heroes Stadium too.

The main stadium in Lusaka is called the National Heroes Stadium in their honour, while an area in the capital has streets named after all those who died.

Nonetheless, Katongo insists more can be done.

“When I look at Europe they will remember in such a way that you actually start grieving again and the tears come again and people feel ‘Yes, yes I think my son did well.’

“The presidents of our country are always supportive but you can’t do anything alone. We need the whole country to recognise someone who has done so much for their country.”

On the eve of the 2012 Nations Cup final, Katongo lead his team in a tribute to the 1993 squad on the Libreville beach close to where the crash happened.

The BBC African Footballer of 2012 says he will spend the anniversary at home in Lusaka, Zambia, reflecting on the events leading up to the crash.

“I am not going anywhere. I will be at home reflecting on my life and remember these players,” he added.

Katongo also looked back at what he as doing on the day he heard about the crash.

“I remember I was in grade six. I was thinking it was a joke. There were different groups here and there talking about the players,” he recalled.

“Other people were saying it’s not true, that the players had been captured because the Gabonese don’t have good players so they want this team to start playing for Gabon.

“The whole country was quiet. Nobody was shouting, it was only whispering. I had never seen the country quiet like that.

“No one was listening to music, everybody was listening to the radio and every hour there was news of the crash.”

Katongo, who played for clubs at home as well as in South Africa, Denmark, Germany, Greece and China, is now working as a coach in Zambia.

He added that his dream is to coach Zambia to another Nations Cup title and qualify for the World Cup as a tribute to the 1993 squad.

*BBC

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Ethiopia is now Africa’s fastest growing economy
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chris Giles*

(CNN)Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated country, is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to new data from the IMF.

Ethiopia’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.5% this year. The figures signal continued economic expansion following a long period of impressive growth. In the last decade, Ethiopia has averaged around 10% economic growth, according to the IMF.
To boost the economy, the country is pursuing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Grand Renaissance Dam and a railway network.
“(Ethiopia) has had a very high growth rate and I think that’s a result in large part of a very concentrated effort by the government to boost industrial production and manufacturing,” said Vijaya Ramachandran, an economist at the American think tank Center for Global Development (CGD).
Ramachandran, along with three academics, released a report suggesting Ethiopia can follow in China’s footsteps, and become a destination for low-wage .
*CNN
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A classic tale of the clash between tradition and modernity: Jacob Zuma’s impending marriage to a 24-year-old woman
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Reports from several media outlets suggest that former South African president Jacob Zuma is set to marry for the seventh time. The bride is a 24-year-old woman named Nonkanyiso Conco from KwaZulu-Natal.

Jacob Zuma is facing many counts of corruption and has already appeared before the court to answer to his charges. That has not, however, distracted the 74 year old’s preparations to tie the knot for the 7th time in his life.

Nonkanyiso Conco who is believed to be the director of a Pietermaritzburg-based Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation whose aim and vision is to protect the cultural practices of young Zulu women and the national executive committee treasurer and communications officer for She Conquers confirmed the rumours during an interview with the Sunday Times. She said “Yes‚ we are getting married‚ but that is all I can say. I need to consult before I give any interviews.”

The impending marriage between the two lovebirds has stirred debates in the country and on social media platforms where traditionalists are in support of the union and ‘modernists’ view the union as a step back on many fronts.

Jacob Zuma for a long time has warmly embraced his Zulu culture and practising polygamy is common among Zulu men and women. As such, the decision to take a seventh wife didn’t come as a surprise to the avid followers of the Zulu culture. In fact, Zuma has been heralded as a guardian of the Zulu culture.

However, Zuma’s decision to take another wife has been condemned by others. One such opponent is the She Conquers organisation, the same organisation where Zuma’s soon to be wife worked until 3 days ago. It’s not clear if the decision was Ms Conco’s or if she was forced out. What’s in the open though is the displeasure by She Conquers at Ms Conco’s choice of husband.

She Conquers released a statement which expressed its disappointment at Ms Conco stating that her decision to marry Jacob Zuma is contrary to its message which is to “empower young women in every phase of their lives, and to end reliance on sugar daddies.” The deputy chair of She Conquers, Leonora Mathe weighed in saying “As a campaign, we promote economic empowerment and self-dependence of young women to eliminate the concept of reliance on ‘blessers.”

Those against the union of Jacob Zuma and Ms Conco on social media largely agree on the issue that this marriage is a step back on the progress that the country has achieved thus far in the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to UNAids, South Africa has the fourth-highest adult HIV prevalence rate in the world which stands at 18.9%.

Out of the 18.9%, the rising rate of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women accounts for the bigger proportion. It’s believed that the issue of blessers (older men having sexual relations with younger women) is the reason behind the rising HIV infection rates among adolescent girls and young women. Against this background, many argue that the decision taken by Zuma to marry a younger woman by sets a bad example both to other older men and also to the young girls who are manipulated into sexual relationships by material things.

There are also others who argue that the rising number of teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence can be attributed to such relationships, therefore, it’s an error on the part of a man with the stature of Zuma to set a bad precedence.

Though both parties have not stated the date for their wedding, reports suggest that Jacob Zuma has already paid lobola (bride price). It’s also reported that the two welcomed their first baby recently.

Zuma is currently married to 3 other wives, Sizakele Khumalo the first wife whom he married in 1973 after his release from Robben Island, Tobeka Madiba and accomplished businesswoman Gloria Bongi Ngema whom he married in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

Apart from these, Zuma was also married to Kate Mantsho whom he married in 1976. She committed suicide in 2000. He was also married to the former AU Chair and presidential aspirant, Nkosazana Dlamini whom he married in 1982 and divorced in 1998. Zuma also married Nompumelelo Ntuli in 2008 but the two later divorced after allegations of an affair between Nompumelelo Ntuli and one of her bodyguards. She was also alleged to have plotted to poison Jacob Zuma, allegations that she vehemently denies up to this day.

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ECA $496million anticipatory approval: Law makers kick start Buhari’s impeachment
April 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Some Nigerian Law makers in the house of representatives have called for President Muhammadu Buhari’s impeachment for approving the withdrawal of sum of $496 million without their approval.

House Speaker Yakubu Dogara

House Speaker Yakubu Dogara

Following a letter written by Buhari to the house on Tuesday, defending his approval of the money used for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the US.

According to TheCable, the money was said to have been withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA).

In a letter written to the national assembly, Buhari said he had anticipated the lawmakers will approve the withdrawal.

Reading the contents of the letter during plenary on Monday, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house, quoted Buhari as saying: “In the expectation that the national assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialized aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$496,374,470.00.”

He said the letter was sent to the leadership of the national assembly on April 13 and was received by his (speaker’s) office on April 17.

The development angered the lawmakers who accused the president of “overriding” their powers.

Their deliberation on the matter followed a constitutional point of order raised by Kingsley Chinda, from Rivers state.

Citing sections 80 and 81 of 1999 constitution, Chinda said the Nigerian law does not recognise anticipatory approval.

He condemned the approval, wondering what would happen if the lawmakers fail to approve the money.

“There is nowhere in our law that talked about anticipatory approval. We cannot sit down and allow this to take place. It is an impeachable offence. There is no infraction that is worse than this. Let us not continue to sleep. I propose that we commence the impeachment of Mr President,” he said.

Some other lawmakers who also contributed to the motion supported the impeachment move, accusing the president of seeking their approval through the backdoor.

Sunday Karimi from Kogi said the lawmakers should write the president and inform him he has breached the constitution and “he should be prepared to face the consequences.”

“This is the time to tell the president that we were elected to serve the people,” he added.

However, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, chairman of the house committee on rules and businesses, said going by the house rules, Buhari’s letter ought to be slated for second reading before the house could debate it.

Thereafter, Dogara said the matter would be slated for second reading on a date during which “we can decide on what to do

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MainOne’s West Africa expansion gets boost with Cote d’Ivoire license
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
MainOne’s West Africa expansion gets boost with Cote d’Ivoire license
Construction of a fourth cable authorised by the government will improve the international connectivity of the country and will provide a lot more opportunities for the national market while increasing competition
From left: Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, Cote D’Ivoire, Minister Bruno Koné; Member, Board of Directors, MainOne, Dapo Oshinusi and Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, Funke Opeke receiving the license to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote D’Ivoire last week

From left: Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, Cote D’Ivoire, Minister Bruno Koné; Member, Board of Directors, MainOne, Dapo Oshinusi and Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, Funke Opeke receiving the license to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote D’Ivoire last week

LAGOS, Nigeria, April 23, 2018/ — As part of its West Africa expansion, connectivity and data centre solutions operator MainOne (www.MainOne.net) has secured a license to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote d’Ivoire. The C1B license, received from Minister Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, will enable MainOne land its trans-Atlantic submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire, to strengthen connectivity, reduce international capacity costs and support wholesale customers, major operators and Internet Service Providers.

Cote d’Ivoire authorities believe that the construction of a fourth cable authorised by the government will improve the international connectivity of the country and will provide a lot more opportunities for the national market while increasing competition. “We have just taken an important step through this authorisation for the improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure of our country, specifically the improvement of international connectivity. MainOne cable will have an impact on price and quality and will strengthen the security of our infrastructure”, declared Minister Bruno Koné.

The entry of MainOne, an open-access connectivity services provider will further democratize the international bandwidth market in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and drive down bandwidth costs for local Internet Service Providers, Telcos and indigenous businesses.

“Cote d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a very important hub for business and transport in West Africa. The dynamism of the national economy and accelerated development of the digital economy in Cote d’Ivoire as well as its regional leadership makes it a natural hub for the West African region and guided MainOne’s decision to invest in Cote d’Ivoire”, said Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne.

As part of an overarching plan to invest close to $20m in Cote d’Ivoire with a focus on the provision of wholesale connectivity services, MainOne has obtained the license and will commence the construction of its digital transmission cable in June 2018, to be concluded in the second half of 2019. Its cable landing will provide open-access infrastructure within Cote d’Ivoire and other WAEMU countries to expand internet access for all users in the region and support rapid development as well as facilitate increased non-resources trade and improve public services to aid the evolution of regional businesses.

“By investing and encouraging the business ecosystem within West Africa, we hope to bring meaningful technology solutions to businesses, to enable them in their quest for improved productivity and efficiency through dedicated and reliable connectivity services. We are prepared to collaborate with incumbent operators towards enhancing regional integration and global access,” Ms. Opeke concluded.

MainOne is committed to deepening broadband access via fibre infrastructure and data centres across West Africa. With service delivery in 10 countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroun, Benin, Niger, Senegal and Chad, MainOne operates a 100G international submarine cable system which guarantees highly reliable connectivity to support the growing demand for Internet access and bandwidth-intensive applications such as eCommerce, Content providers, OTT players and electronic banking and payment services via 3/4G mobile networks. The MainOne Submarine cable was the first privately owned cable in West Africa spanning 7000KM with a capacity of 4.96 TBPS to connect West Africa to Europe via a landing in Portugal and multiple routes to London, Paris and Amsterdam.

MainOne (www.MainOne.net) is a leading provider of connectivity and data centre services for businesses in West Africa. Since its launch in 2010, MainOne has developed a reputation for highly reliable services to become the preferred provider of wholesale Internet services to major telecom operators, ISPs, government agencies, large enterprise, and educational institutions in West Africa. MainOne’s world class submarine cable system running down the coast of West Africa, state of the art IP network, growing regional and metro terrestrial fibre optic networks, and data centre facilities enable broadband services for businesses needing solutions in West Africa. Our network is interconnected and peers with leading operators and internet exchanges worldwide to provide global reach to our customers

 

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Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) celebrates 25 years of leading the way in U.S.-Africa business relations
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
From L to R: Florizelle Liser, CCA President and CEO, Ray Washburne, OPIC President and CEO, Jeff Sturchio, CCA Board Chairman

From L to R: Florizelle Liser, CCA President and CEO, Ray Washburne, OPIC President and CEO, Jeff Sturchio, CCA Board Chairman

Washington, D.C. – April 24, 2018 – Established in 1993 during a time when Africa was not viewed as a prime destination for investment, CCA has been critical in facilitating and promoting increased U.S. investment on the continent. Over the last 25 years, CCA has remained dedicated to providing its members with access to key African and U.S. government officials, connections to U.S. and African business leaders and decision makers and insight on the most important issues affecting business on the continent.

CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S. and African firms. Its members are invested in Africa’s most promising sectors including agribusiness, energy, finance, health, ICT, infrastructure, security, tourism and trade facilitation.

On Monday, April 23, 2018 at CCA’s Annual Members Meeting hosted by CCA Member, DLA Piper LLP (US), CCA President and CEO, Florie Liser, emphasized the organization’s continued commitment to advancing U.S.-Africa business and investment. “We are honored to have served as the leading organization solely focused on US-Africa business relations for the past quarter century, and we look forward to continuing to serve as the key resource for U.S. and African companies investing across the continent.” To set an ambitious path forward, CCA is in the process of developing a strategic plan that will ensure that U.S. businesses stay ahead of the curve, as the US-Africa trade and investment relationship continues to evolve.

Mr. Ray Washburne, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), delivered the keynote address and led a discussion with CCA members about the administration’s vision and objectives regarding trade and investment opportunities on the continent. “Today, OPIC’s global portfolio is more than $23 billion, and about one quarter of that is invested in Africa.” Mr. Washburne underlined the steps currently being taken within Congress and the Administration to strengthen OPIC. He highlighted the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD Act), which proposes the creation of a consolidated, reformed Development Finance Institution with significantly enhanced resources and tools. The legislation, if passed, will allow OPIC to better support U.S. businesses investing on the continent.

CCA will commemorate its 25th anniversary through a series of events and initiatives throughout the course of the year.

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Buhari condemns Killing of Catholic Priests, worshippers
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olayinka Ajayi

*…Describe it as satanic, despicable

L-R: Late Joseph Gor And Felix Tyolaha

L-R: Late Joseph Gor And Felix Tyolaha

Following the gruesome murder of Catholic Priest and worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Ukpor – Mbaom community in Gwer East Local Government of Benue State recently, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has described such act as despicable and satanic.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said those behind the act would be fished out to face the consequences of their wicked act. “I extend my sincere condolences to the government and people of Benue State, the Mbalom community, and especially the Bishop, priests and members of the St Ignatius’ Catholic Church, whose premises was the unfortunate venue of the heinous killings by gunmen.”
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”
Stressing that the country will not bow to the machinations of evildoers, President Buhari vowed that the assailants would be hunted down and made to pay for the sacrilege committed.
The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi confirmed the killing of two of its priests, Rev Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, in an early hour attack on St Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor, Mbalom in Gwer West Local Government Council of Benue.
A statement by its Director of Communications, Rev Fr Moses Iorapuu, stressed that the attacks were perpetrated by herdsmen who stormed the Mbalom community and killed the two priests during the morning mass at the church.
The Diocese expressed regret at the nonchalant attitude of the security agencies in containing the killings. It said the herdsmen, who stormed the community, burnt down houses, destroyed crops and killed people. The church, therefore, urged the relevant authorities to stop the killings in the Benue valley. Iorapuu said the Diocese had been active in providing food and relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) since the onset of hostilities in the state and wondered why it could be marked as a target of attacks. “The attack on the priests is an attack on everything that we ever stood for and believed in.” Meanwhile, concerted efforts to get reaction from the Benue Police Command failed as its Public Relations Officer, ASP Moses Yamu, was not forthcoming with remarks. Rev. Fr. Gor had before the attack written on Facebook; “Living in fear. The fulani herdsmen are still around us in Mbalom. They refuse to go. They still go grazing around us. No weapons to depend on ourselves”. Herdsmen in the early hours of the morning attacked a Catholic Church and parishioners who went for 5.30 a.m. mass. Reports say the bodies of the dead have been taken to St. Theresa’s Hospital Makurdi.
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Insurgency: Buhari was misled to approve $496million for 12 Air fighters — Source
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

President Buhari

President Buhari

Following the controversy trailing Nigeria’s government purchased of 12 Super Tucano aircraft, a source close to the presidency has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari was misled to approve $496 million for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the US without the backing of the national assembly.

According to TheCableng, the money was said to have been withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA).

In August, the US government sold the aircraft to Nigeria to enable it combat the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east.

An embargo had been placed on Nigeria owing to allegations of gross human right abuses against the military.

In a letter to the leadership of the national assembly dated April 13, 2018, the president explained that the United States had given Nigeria a deadline for payment, hence the reason he approved the money without consulting the legislators.

Buhari also sought the inclusion of the procurement of the aircraft into the 2018 budget which the national assembly is still working on.

The source said the lawmakers, particularly those in house of representatives, are not happy with the development, adding that the president cut short his UK trip in order to address the issue.

In the statement issued to announce Buhari’s trip, the date of his return was not disclosed.

“The approval for $496 million for Tucano aircraft is an impeachable offence. What is happening right now is that some people in the executive set Buhari up,” the source said.

“They made him send a letter to the national assembly and the letter is saying that money has already been disbursed without seeking approval which is an impeachable offence.

“This is part of the reason why the president came back into the country. He is thinking of calling the leadership of the national assembly for a meeting.

“These people gave the president wrong information. Right the house of representatives have a copy of the letter that the money had already been disbursed but then it has not been appropriated. A lot of members of the house are not happy.”

Efforts to get a reaction from Garba Shehu, spokesman of the president, were not successful as calls to his phone did not go through and a text message was not replied.

Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, had said Buhari gave the approval for the money to be released but Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters, later contradicted Dan Ali.

The presidential aide said Buhari had not approved the release of the money from the excess crude account as claimed by the minister, adding that the approval given to the federal government by the national economic council was undergoing the “normal legislative process” before the national assembly.

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Abacha Loot: Swisbank returns all with interest of $ 1.5 million
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha

Former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha

The Government of Switzerland said it has returned all the money kept in the country by the late Nigerian Dictator and Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Speaking, Pio Wennubst, assistant director-general and head, Global Cooperation Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, told the News Agency Nigeria that the money was returned with $1.5 million interest.

Wennubst said Switzerland returned about $322.5 million dollars (N116.11 billion) to the federal government. According to him, the original amount was $321 million.

The Swiss envoy also said the money was returned to the Nigerian government unconditionally.

“We are not talking about the condition; there was a programme on the social safety net that was developed by the government of Nigeria and the bank,” he said.

“After discussing, the only condition, set by the judiciary, not by us, was that the return of this asset should have been monitored by the World Bank and this is where we worked on.”

According to him, these funds were part of the Nigerian government contributions to the social safety net programme, “plus concessional loans from the bank”.

The Abacha loot was frozen in 2014 by a Swiss court after a legal procedure against his son, Abba Abacha.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the money was a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted during his rule from 1993 to 1998.

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French tycoon Vincent Bolloré detained over suspected Africa corruption
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Billionaire French tycoon Vincent Bolloré was detained Tuesday as part of a corruption investigation involving his group’s acquisition of contracts to operate ports in West Africa, legal sources told Agence France-Presse.

Vincent Bollore in Togo with President Faure Gnassingbe

Vincent Bollore in Togo with President Faure Gnassingbe

The 66-year-old head of the Bolloré Group, was taken into custody in the Paris suburb of Nanterre for questioning about how the group obtained contracts to run Lomé port in Togo and Conakry port in Guinea, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The news that the magnate was being questioned caused Bolloré stocks to tumble over 8 percent in Paris trading.

The group, which has interests in construction, logistics, media, advertising and shipping, said it “formally denied” any wrongdoing in its African operations.

Its director general, Gilles Alix, and the manager of the international division of its communications subsidiary Havas, Jean-Philippe Dorent, were also taken into custody, a judicial source added.

Investigators are probing allegations that the tentacular group corrupted public officials to clinch the Lomé port deal in 2010 as well as the Conakry deal in 2011.

The group’s African logistics arm has several port and rail concessions in Africa.

Investigators from France’s financial crimes unit are specifically looking at communications work done by Dorent for Guinean President Alpha Condé and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé.

In 2016, police searched the Bolloré Group’s headquarters in the Paris suburb of Puteaux.

The investigation stems from a probe into the connections of Francis Perez, the president of the Pefaco group, which operates hotels and casinos in Africa.

Perez has been linked to Dorent, who was in charge of Condé’s 2010 election campaign.

Battling over ports

Months after he became his country’s first freely elected president Condé summarily terminated the contract of Conakry port’s operator a subsidiary of French shipping company NCT Necotrans and gave it to rival Bolloré.

A French court in 2013 ordered the Bolloré Group to pay Necotrans 2 million euros ($2.4 million) in compensation for its lost investment in the port but cleared it of having a hand in the president’s decision.

Dorent also worked on the communications strategy of Gnassingbé, who succeeded his father Gnassingbé Eyadema upon his death in 2005.

After Gnassingbé’s reelection to a second term in 2010, the Bolloré Group won the 35-year Lomé port contract a decision also challenged by a rival.

Bolloré surprised many on Thursday by resigning as president of the board of Vivendi, a French media conglomerate, with his son Yannick, head of Havas, taking over.

Nevertheless, Bolloré has said that he is keen to maintain his business interests in Italy.

*(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Xenophobia: Nigerian suffers another attack in South African
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Clement Nwaogu

Clement Nwaogu

The Nigerian Community in South Africa has announced the killing of another Nigerian, Clement Nwaogu, who was burnt alive by a mob in the latest xenophobic attack in that country.

Speaking in a telephone interview, Habib Miller, the Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, confirmed the killing:‎

” The victim, a native of Njikoka in Anambra State, and an upholsterer in South Africa, was attacked and killed by a mob in Rustenburg, North West Province.”

“The mob descended on him like a common criminal with all sorts of dangerous weapons in the presence of the South African police officers.”

“Eyewitnesses say the victim beckoned for help from the police to intervene and help him, but they turned a blind eye.

“When Nwaogu could no longer persevere, he ran for safety; the mob chased and caught him, poured petrol on him and set him ablaze,” he said.

Adding that the mob then left Nwaogu when they thought he had died.

The spokesman said that it was shortly after the mob left Nwaogu that some passersby called emergency personnel, who later took the victim’s charred body to the hospital.

“The eyewitnesses feeling that the victim was still alive called for help; unfortunately, Nwaogu could not survive the ordeal and died at the Job Shimankane Hospital in Rustenburg,” he said.

In the same vein, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement described the killing of Clement Nwaogu, as unfortunate.

She called on South African authorities to find lasting solution to the incessant killing of Nigerians in that country and also urged Nigerians living abroad to obey the laws of countries where they lived, and shun crime and criminality to avoid unwarranted attacks and killings.

She noted that 14 Nigerians who protested the killing of a fellow citizen in that country North West Province some months ago were still in detention.

“Just a few days ago, on April 17, the case came up in court. There was so much tension that even the Nigerian lawyers representing the Nigerians had to be escorted to court by Diplomatic police.

“The community has vowed to deal with anyone who plays a positive role in getting the accused Nigerians return to Rustenberg,” she noted.

Dabirir-Erewa said that the Nigerian mission in Pretoria and the consulate in Johannesburg had done everything possible, in the recent past, to get justice for Nigerians in South Africa.

“Four South African policemen are currently in court for allegedly killing and maltreating Nigerians with embassy officials constantly present in court for the hearings. This is the first time this will be happening.

“However, the early warning signals put in place by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and interior of both countries need to be reviewed” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nigeria -Ahead of 2019, Oyegun predicts tough polls
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun pictured with President Muhammadu Buhari

All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun pictured with President Muhammadu Buhari

The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, admonished his party against complacency in next year’s election.

Speaking at the 2018 inauguration of the APC National Convention Committee  Oyegun said: ” At the end of this exercise, I want to see a re-united APC under whatever leadership your exercise brings up. We have a tough election ahead of us and we must prime ourselves for that election. We must not cuddle ourselves with any false sense of being the party in power,”.

“Nigerians are aware of their rights than they have ever been before. So, as you proceed, please ensure that all these views and opinions are brought together into a one united APC.
“The task that you have undertaken to perform is a heavy and tough one. The APC is known, in spite of induced controversies, for the cleanest primaries and congresses.
“Our last presidential primary was by all account one of the best ever held and I dare say, anywhere.”
“It was a convention that was watched world wide and you are supposed to repeat the feat. I have no doubt that this one, given the controversies that have preceded it will also be a most watched convention.

“You have the task of producing a convention that is free, fair and provide a level playing field for for anybody that aspire any position,” Oyegun stated.

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Sub-regional insurance companies converge amid crisis in public trust
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang

The West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) has opened its 40th annual general meeting and education conference in Banjul on Monday discussing the ways of promoting public trust and confidence in the insurance sector.

The president of the association, Makaireh Badjan, said the main challenge confronting the industry in the sub-region is the lowering of public trust and confidence in their services.

“We need trust and confidence in the insurance sector. Hence we should jointly endeavor as insurance players to enhance public trust and dispel all negative perceptions of insurance,” he said.

Badjan added that they need joint collaboration of stakeholders across the sub-region such as the providers, regulators, public and institutions.

The Gambia’s vice president, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, said public trust is the ingredient to every discipline.

“Public trust and confidence are crucial to business if you are to improve insurance penetration level in the sub region and in the world at large,” she said.

WAICA membership covers the five English speaking countries in West Africa namely, The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

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Buratai: Restoring the Global Image of the Nigerian Army
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
BY ISRAEL ABIODUN *
President Buhari with Buratai

President Buhari with Buratai

Even in the midst of the many national distractions and high politics in the country, one man has earned himself the right to receive accolades for his contributions towards ensuring that order emerged out of scenarios that were once predicted to only end doom for Nigeria. The man is no other than Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, who has made the unwavering commitment to give Nigeria an Army that meets world standard.

This month, the Nigerian Army in conjunction with US Army African Command (AFRICOM) held this year’s African Land Forces Summit with the theme “Unity Is Strength: Combating Africa’s Security Challenges”. This was no mere talk shop and photo op event as the state of readiness and troops’ capabilities was put to the test during drills held in General A.O Azazi Barracks in Gwagwalada, Abuja, code named ‘Operation Silent Kill’.
The COAS used the summit, which is the single largest gathering of African senior military leaders in Africa, to update the world of Nigeria’s successes in degrading Boko Haram. High ranking military commanders fromm Republic of Malawi, Arusha United Republic of Tanzania, Dakar, Uganda, Washington DC and fort Benning, Georgia United States of America are among participants at the summit.
An immediate plus from this is that Nigeria has something to teach the world about curtailing terrorists, extremists and fanatics, something that other countries can draw lessons from in a world where the cancer of religion fuelled extremism and terrorism is spreading. The Nigerian Army, of course, has things to learn from the summit about the Islamic State, but it was not a one-way street since it as information to share with participants from other countries.
The participation of AFRICOM and the Nigerian Army co-hosting the summit with US Army Africa (USARAF) is a reality check for those that are obsessed with demonizing the Army and General Buratai as abusers of human rights. These United States agencies would not openly associate with countries that violate the human rights, more so the rights of citizens. Had the human rights record of the Nigerian Army under Buratai been as dismal as certain interests claim then this year’s exercise would have ended as a flop but that was not the case. The Army adheres to the global best standards in the observance of the rules of engagement for the kind of threats that the Army is called up to address in Nigeria.
The positive reception from this summit must be tapped into in various regards. The contacts must be leveraged to see how the supply of certain military hardware can be made available to Nigeria. Secondly, authorities should exploit which of the countries can be beneficial in stopping foreign terrorists from arriving on Nigerian soil to wreak havoc. Also, without prejudice for their various domestic laws, there should be a way to partner with these countries to eliminate the potentials for devious groups to manage anti-Nigerian Army propaganda from their soils.
On the part of Nigerians, the decorum exhibited for the duration of the summit and the understanding shown during the drill are unprecedented. We only need to extend the same sense of patriotic support for the military to make further gains against Boko Haram and other insurgent groups. This will fit nicely into General Buratai’s vision of improved military-civil relations that stems from stakeholders having mutual understanding and respect for each other. Once trouble makers see this alliance work for the good of the country they will have no option but to fold up and ply their evil wares elsewhere.
One is constrained to task the Army boss not to relent in his quest to deliver a world class Army to Nigeria, the legacy of his leadership. He cannot afford to bask in euphoria of the moment as he must keep striving to outperform himself since he has surpassed his predecessors.
The government would have to provide the financial muscle for the Army to translate vision into realities. The kind of vision Buratai unveiled at the summit, and other fora in the past, is the kind that requires optimum funding of the military with a resolute political will to succeed. It is the least the government can do as its contributions to ensure that the experience the General brought to the job is made to serve the country.
One would not rule out several groups and organizations rushing to give awards of recognition to General Buratai for what he has been able to achieve with the Nigerian Army in such short time. This would not be out of place since acknowledgement of good work is guaranteed to inspire more good work.
*Abiodun is security affairs analyst and wrote from University of Ibadan.
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A tale of two candidates: Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

For avid sports lovers especially football, there are certain games labelled as classic tales of a game of two halves. What this implies is that team A dominated the first half of the match while team B took matters into its own hand and dominated the second half. In Zimbabwe, something of the similar nature is happening albeit not in the sporting arena but in the political field.

On one hand is the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over power from long-time leader Robert Mugabe in November 2017 with the help of the military. On the other hand is the youthful main opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa. Though Zimbabwe has 108 political parties, it is these two who are the leading contenders for the 2018 presidential elections.

6 months ago, most Zimbabweans across the political divide consciously and subconsciously thought there were two names guaranteed to be on the ballot paper come the presidential election in 2018. The first name is that of Robert Mugabe, the man who was Zimbabwe’s only president since the attainment of independence in 1980. Despite his age, his party had already chosen him to be the presidential candidate. The second name which was expected to be on the ballot was that of Morgan Tsvangirai (now late), the leader of the MDC-T. However, as fate would have it, none will be competing as Mugabe was deposed by his party with the aid of the military while Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer on Valentine’s Day.

The unfortunate events which led to Mugabe’s ouster and the death of Tsvangirai opened the path for Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa. From the outset, it was clear what the main talking issue would be come election time between these two i.e. the question of age with 75-year-old Mnangagwa battling with 40-year-old Chamisa. That has indeed turned out to be true especially on the part of Chamisa who has used the age question at most of his rallies. However, this is just about the only thing these two ‘share’ when it comes to their election campaigns. Everything else is water and oil as we shall see below.

International Offensive Charm paying off

Starting with the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa who has come out on several occasions saying that his party has not started campaigns, something hard to believe considering that there are already branded cars with his face and campaign billboards all over the major highways.

Mnangagwa is called the crocodile. There are different explanations as to how this nickname came about but the two most popular state that it’s a nickname he inherited during the war as his regiment was called the crocodile gang while the other explanation state that he was termed the crocodile due to his cunning and ruthless nature which resembles the behaviour of a crocodile. Regardless of which explanation is truthful, Mnangagwa’s campaign thus far can best be described as deceitfully intelligent.

Mnangagwa’s attention is focused fully on the international front. That is where he is carrying the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra and charming the international community. The recent visits to Zimbabwe by top UK, US, and Russia envoys suggests that his international offensive charm is working. More so when one considers the fact that he has already been invited to attend high-level meetings such as the World Economic Forum and the Commonwealth Head of States summit as an observer further solidifies the notion that he is scoring important points in the international sphere. With the knowledge of how he came into power, Mnangagwa knows that what he needs most come election time is legitimacy more than anything else and this legitimacy is bestowed upon him by the international community if he wins.

On the local front, Mnangagwa is keeping low-key in terms of holding rallies at this point. However, he is taking calculated steps in how he disseminates his campaign rhetoric. One of such is the talk that the economy is more important than politics right now for Zimbabwe. If anything is to go by especially when analysing social media platforms, this talk of prioritising the economy over politics is gaining him much support with the elite and middle class. The elite wants a good economy for the flourishing of business while the middle class who are striving for better living conditions also prefer an economic bloom over political scores.

Mnangagwa while stating the importance of the economy has also used the sanctions issue to further his cause albeit without actually coming out and saying the word openly. The MDC Alliance’s visit to the US has been used by Mnangagwa via state media to paint the picture that the MDC went there to persuade the US government to keep in place the economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. With most ordinary Zimbabweans bearing the brunt of the sanctions, this has painted the MDC principals as the devils trying to hold the country at ransom till they get into power.

Mnangagwa is also portraying himself as a reformed and considerate man. First, he gave Tsvangirai a state funeral when he died, something which would have been unthinkable in the Mugabe era. He followed this by assisting the Tsvangirai family following the death of Tsvangirai’s sister, Miriro. He has also pledged to pay the university tuition fees for Tsvangirai’s daughter and help the family get a farm. All these gestures are painting Mnangagwa as a changed man and it portraying Chamisa and the MDC-T in a bad way in that they have seized to think about the man who made the party what it is today.

Generational Consensus: Time to let the young take the lead

The leader of the MDC-T party and the MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa is taking a totally different route with his campaign so far in comparison to Mnangagwa. On the international front, he is keeping low key. The visit to the US in December 2017 was the last he had before his recent visit to South Africa where he met scores of Zimbabweans working in South Africa.

However, though keeping low key internationally, it is at home that Chamisa has been making huge strides conducting nationwide rallies purportedly as a way of introducing the MDC Alliance principals to the electorate. Chamisa’s rallies have seen him tour most parts of Zimbabwe from the south to the north.

Chamisa’s messages at these rallies have resulted in debates on social media with many questioning his maturity saying that he is just making too many promises. Critics are saying that he is focusing on the ‘what’ part but forgetting the important ‘how’ part. In his defence though, Chamisa has said he already has an election manifesto which explains the ‘how’ part but is waiting for Mnangagwa and his ZANU (PF) party to release their manifesto first before releasing his. The reason for the delay is that ZANU (PF) might steal his ideas, something which he said ZANU (PF) and Mnangagwa have done in the past.

Though receiving criticism on social media for his rally talk, it appears as if he is striking the right button with the audience of the rallies. His rhetoric is being warmly received by the thousands who come to his rallies almost every weekend in different parts of the country.

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President Barack Obama to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Obama Foundation announced that President Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg in July. To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth the lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.

The lecture will take place on the 17 July 2018, a day before Nelson Mandela International Day, and will be held at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. About 4 000 people are expected to attend.

For most of his life, Nelson Mandela fought for democracy and equality. His presidency was defined by his efforts to solidify the fragile democracy of South Africa, and by his lessons on the politics of bridge-building’ over the politics of division.

The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is a unique platform to drive debate on critical social issues in South Africa and around the world. Previous speakers include global thought leaders and change makers, including: Presidents Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mary Robinson and Michelle Bachelet; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Nobel Laureates Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus; Professors Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Piketty and Ismail Serageldin; and philanthropists Bill Gates and Mo Ibrahim.

More information on media credentials will be available at a later date.

Details around access to the lecture are being finalised and the process to secure seats will be announced on 17 May 2018.

Media contact:
Nelson Mandela Foundation: LungaN@nelsonmandela.org
Obama Foundation: Kate Berner, kberner@skdknick.com

*Source Nelson Mandela Foundation

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How to address food-sustainability challenges in sub-Saharan Africa
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kofi Annan*

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Despite its huge agricultural potential, Africa spends around US$35bn each year on food imports. This number may rise above US$110bn by 2025 due to rapid population growth, changes in dietary habits and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. The lack of food sustainability, as well as food and nutrition insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, is likely to aggravate unless bold action is taken on six key issues.

The need to boost farming productivity

First, smallholder farmers’ productivity has to rise significantly, as a large majority of Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. African crop yields are amongst the lowest in the world due to poor seeds and degraded soils, a lack of fertiliser and other essential inputs, and insufficient mechanisation and transport infrastructure. A shift from farming as a subsistence activity to farming as a business is needed and has to be matched with the right set of policies, institutions and investments.

Encouragingly, exciting progress is being made. For example, African research institutes—with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa—have developed within a decade more than 600 new crop varieties. Seed companies are now producing more than 130 metric tonnes of seeds for approximately 15m farmers.

Second, and related to the first point, as smallholder farmers lack the means to adapt to rising temperatures and adverse weather events such as droughts and floods, there is a critical need to strengthen the ability of farming communities to cope with the impacts of climate change. Investing in weather forecast systems, insurance schemes, efficient irrigation technology and heat- or drought-tolerant crop varieties can help boost farm productivity under increasingly severe climate conditions.

Third, leveraging the transformation of African agriculture and raising productivity levels requires a reform of customary land-tenure systems. Smallholder farmers with weak and insecure tenure rights are under threat of being evicted from their farms and have little incentive to invest in their land. A reform of tenure systems also has to include a consolidation of farm plots to make commercial agriculture viable.

Strengthening value chains, trade and stability

Fourth, there is a need to develop and strengthen agricultural value chains, including agro-processing industries. These bear enormous potential for job creation and value addition. African governments have to adjust their private-sector development and industrial policies in order to attract more agribusinesses and investors. They, in turn, have to link up with smaller farms and related economic sectors and work in close partnership.

Fifth, we have to make every effort to triple intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025, one of the goals of the 2014 Malabo Declaration. Compared with other world regions, intra-African food trade is dismally low. The share of trade in agricultural products among African countries that is intra-regional varied between 13% and 20% over the period from 2000 to 2013, while European and Asian countries traded 75% and 63% among their respective regions, respectively. African countries have to remove trade barriers for food and reap the benefits of larger markets.

Finally, we need to recognise that stability and peace are necessary conditions for agricultural development, food security and the long-term sustainability of food systems. In parts of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, millions of people are at risk of starvation due to violent conflict, radical extremism and insecurity. People are forced to migrate to seek for alternatives to secure their livelihoods. Our efforts to combat hunger have to go hand-in-hand with those to build peaceful and prosperous societies.

The importance of making agricultural systems more sustainable and addressing nutritional challenges is highlighted by the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. It is high time that we prioritise agricultural development and work together to tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through my foundation I continue to mobilise the political will to achieve progress on these fronts. If we get this right, Africa will not just be able to feed itself, but to contribute to global food and nutrition security, and therefore more stability throughout the world.

*Former UN Secretary-General, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.Article culled from his LinkedIn page

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Ghana, Nigeria most attractive bond markets – Research
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana and Nigeria have been ranked as the most attractive Local and Euro Bond Markets on the continent, according to a new research carried out by South African-based Rand Merchant Bank.

The Research comes in the wake of the recent ranking of Ghana’s economy as the second fastest growing economy on the continent.

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta last week revealed the prospect of issuing a Samurai Bond is bright after leading a high powered government delegation to a Non-Deal roadshow in Japan.

Senior Global Market Researcher at the Rand Merchant Bank Celeste Fauconnier believes Ghana must continue with its fiscal consolidation measures in order to sustain investor confidence.

“If they had a portfolio that says you must invest anywhere in the world, Africa would have felt the pinch,” she said, wondering why would one want to be in Africa which is more risky than going into the US and European bonds.

The US and European bond markets, she said have dedicated African Funds and Ghana and Nigeria are benefiting from it because “they are the most attractive local bond market and Eurobond markets in our portfolio of countries.”

Zambia, she said used to be the most attractive bond market for investors but “unfortunately Zambia is shooting itself in its foot because, it is signing an IMF agreement.”

“We have actually seen London investors moving their investments into bonds from Zambia into Ghana. So Ghana has been benefiting,” she stated.

She thus urged the government of Ghana to continue its fiscal consolidation policy, warning that “any fear will move investors in the local bond market here [Ghana] to the Nigerian bond market.”

Earlier this year, the World Bank said Ghana’s macroeconomic outlook was largely positive based on the 2017 performance, with  GDP growth for 2017  estimated to have almost doubled from the 3.7 percent in 2016, and is expected to stay at that elevated level through 2018.

Also the external position, it said has improved as the trade balance has shifted to a surplus, but it needs to sustain the fiscal consolidation efforts

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Warlord ‘Jungle Jabbah’ sentenced to 30 years in milestone for global justice
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Global Justice and Research Project

 Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”. Photo supplied.

Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”. Photo supplied.

Mohammed Jabbateh, the Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah”, was sentenced on Thursday to 30 years in prison, culminating a landmark case in the United States and marking a long-overdue milestone for justice in Liberia. Thirty years is the maximum sentence he could have received and one of the longest prison sentences for immigration fraud in US history.

 On 18 October, 2017, a Philadelphia jury convicted Mohammed Jabbateh of fraud and perjury for lying on his US immigration application about his connection to war crimes.

According to the indictment, the rebel commander personally committed, or ordered his soldiers to commit, barbaric acts of violence, torture, cannibalism and human rights abuses in the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1997). Yet, for decades afterwards, he lived freely in the Philadelphian community known as “Little Liberia” until his arrest in April 2016.

During the three-week trial in Philadelphia, prosecutors flew in more than 15 witnesses from Liberia to tell their stories of atrocities committed by Jabbateh and fighters under his command. This was the first time that victims of the First Liberian Civil War had the chance to testify in front of a criminal judge. Civitas Maxima and its sister organisation, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), have collaborated with US authorities on the investigation since 2014 and called the sentencing a milestone for global justice and human rights.

“Liberian victims have been waiting for more than 15 years to see their perpetrators held accountable. The Jungle Jabbah conviction and sentence are a testament to the unwavering commitment and resilience of the victims who are making their voices heard not only within Liberia but also globally”, said Hassan Bility, director of the GJRP and a survivor of torture himself.

Alain Werner, director of Civitas Maxima, in Geneva Switzerland, said:

“For years we have been working tirelessly to pursue justice for victims of the most atrocious crimes. Astonishingly, Liberian victims have been denied justice in their own country so they had to find access to justice elsewhereThe Jungle Jabbah case is an expression of these efforts.”

The fact that Jabbateh was convicted and that victims were heard represents a milestone for Liberia where, after two brutal civil wars which left more than 200,000 dead, nobody was ever held accountable for war-time atrocities. The overwhelmingly positive reactions to the Jungle Jabbah conviction and to the Liberian Quest for Justice campaign have shown that the majority of Liberians want justice.

“A victim-led movement in favour of accountability for Liberia is clearly in motion. The quest to end impunity in Liberia has just begun”, said Bility.

Many alleged Liberian war criminals are still living their lives as if nothing happened. Some even hold powerful positions in government, hampering trust in public institutions and hindering sustainable reconciliation.

Bility went on to explain:

“Victims had to watch some perpetrators gain positions of power. Our post-war politicians have not listened to the victims’ cries. This will have to change. Our hope still remains to see these trials take place in Liberia, so victims of war crimes from all over the country can witness the proceedings.

“The Jungle Jabbah case is the first in a series of cases tried outside of Liberia that we have been working on, which show that impunity does not have to be the norm,” said Werner.

Civitas Maxima and the GJRP will be leading outreach campaigns and monitoring the upcoming trials of alleged Liberian war criminals expected to happen in 2018 and 2019.

They have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the continued support of Liberian victims in their fight for justice.

The Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) is a Liberia-based non-profit, non-governmental organisation that documents war crimes and, where possible, seeks justice for victims of these crimes, with the full consent of the victims.

*DM

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ENGIE and Meridiam win two solar photovoltaic projects in Senegal
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Yoven Moorooven CEO of ENGIE Africa

Yoven Moorooven CEO of ENGIE Africa

ENGIE and investment partner Meridiam have been selected by Senegal’s Electricity Sector Regulation Commission (CRSE) as preferred bidder in a tender launched in October 2017 for two solar photovoltaic projects totaling 60 MW.

These two projects are part of the Scaling Solar initiative in Senegal, conducted jointly by the Senegalese authorities and the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”, member of the World Bank Group). They are located in Kahone, in the Kaolack region, and in Touba-Kaël, in the Diourbel region.

ENGIE and Meridiam will hold a 40% shareholding in the project company. FONSIS, the Senegalese sovereign fund, will also be a shareholder with a 20% equity stake. The construction and the operation of the plants will be managed and executed by ENGIE.

Yoven Moorooven (CEO of ENGIE Africa): “Our consortium delivered a highly competitive offer by leveraging our experience of developing and operating renewable energy projects in Africa – in particular in Senegal.

This success demonstrates the merit of our integrated model for solar whereby ENGIE is acting as investor, operator and EPC contractor through ENGIE Solar (formerly known as Solairedirect).The CRSE and the IFC set out a clear, sound investment framework, which favored the presence of long-term investors like ENGIE. Our focus will now be on finalising the projects to deliver the most competitive solar photovoltaic plants, to serve the country’s ambition of developing universal electricity access in a sustainable manner.Congratulations to the teams on this achievement. “

Mathieu PELLER (COO of Meridiam Africa): “We continue to deploy our fund in Africa, choosing projects aimed at supporting sustainable economic development. Thanks to the reduced costs of solar equipment, this particular project will have a high developmental impact by expanding Senegal’s capacity to generate clean energy at a very competitive price. Increasing power generation is critical for the Government’s objective to raise Senegal to the level of an emerging market by 2035. The Project aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal Seven, which calls for increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.”

In Senegal, ENGIE is already involved in the Senergy project, a 30 MW solar photovoltaic plant in the town of Santhiou Mekhé and in Ten Merina, a 29.5 MW solar photovoltaic plant in the region of Thiès, near Dakar. Both projects are currently in operation.  In 2017, ENGIE signed a partnership with ANER, Senegal’s National Renewable Energy Agency which focuses on accelerating the development of renewable energy in the country. The Group is also implementing solar energy solutions for rural households in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. ENGIE has been selected for the Dakar TER project in partnership with Thales for the design and production of infrastructure and systems, with a contract amounting to 225 million euros.

About ENGIE AFRICA

For over 50 years, ENGIE has been active in many African countries through its energy engineering business, its natural gas purchase agreements with Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria and more recently as an independent power producer in South Africa and Morocco with a total capacity of 3,000 MW either in operation or under construction. By 2025, ENGIE aims to become a reference partner in about ten African countries for power plants, energy services to businesses and decentralized solutions for off-grid customers – communities, companies and households. For more information, www.engie-africa.com

About ENGIE

We are a global energy and services group, focused on three core activities: low-carbon power generation, mainly based on natural gas and renewable energy, global networks and customer solutions. Driven by our ambition to contribute to a harmonious progress, we take up major global challenges such as the fight against global warming, access to energy to all, or mobility, and offer our residential customers, businesses and communities energy production solutions and services that reconcile individual and collective interests.
Our integrated – low-carbon, high-performing and sustainable – offers are based on digital technologies. Beyond energy, they facilitate the development of new uses and promote new ways of living and working. Our ambition is conveyed by each of our 150,000 employees in 70 countries. Together with our customers and partners, they form a community of imaginative builders who invent and build today solutions for tomorrow.
2017 turnover: 65 billion Euros. Listed in Paris and Brussels (ENGI), the Group is represented in the main financial (CAC 40, BEL 20, Euro STOXX 50, STOXX Europe 600, MSCI Europe, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, Euro STOXX Utilities, STOXX Europe 600 Utilities) and extra-financial indices (DJSI World, DJSI Europe and Euronext Vigeo Eiris – World 120, Eurozone 120, Europe 120, France 20, CAC 40 Governance).

About Meridiam

Meridiam was founded in 2005 by Thierry Déau, with the belief that the alignment of interests between the public and private sector can provide critical solutions to the collective needs of communities. Meridiam is an independent investment firm specializing in the development, financing, and management of long-term and sustainable public infrastructure projects. With offices in, New York, Paris, Toronto, Luxembourg, Istanbul, Vienna, Addis Ababa and Dakar, Meridiam currently manages 6.2 billion Euros of assets, and more than 60 projects under development, construction, or in operation to date. www.meridiam.com

 

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Nigerians debate giving 10% of their income to the church
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Pastor Adeboye's Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Pastor Adeboye’s Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Many Nigerian Christians believe it is compulsory to give 10% of their income to the church. But, Yemisi Adegoke writes, others say this practice, known as tithing, means poor people are funding the extravagant lifestyles of some of Nigeria’s richest people – charismatic preachers.

“Anyone who is not paying his tithe is not going to heaven, full stop,” Pastor Enoch Adeboye said to a hall full of pastors in Lagos earlier this month.

“Go back, immediately after this convention to restitute your ways with your congregation,” he ordered the pastors at the Redemption Camp.

Congregation members pass around a collection basket for tithes and offering
Image captionPassing a collection plate – or basket – is a longstanding part of Christianity but should it be obligatory?

He has spoken about this many times before. “Paying your tithe is not a minor thing,” he warned in a previous sermon. “Go back to Malachi, chapter three, verse 8-11,” he urged.

In the Contemporary English translation, that part of the Old Testament says: “I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire 10% into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing.”

Other translations, including the King James Bible, just use the word tithe, which is an old English word meaning tenth.

And Nigerians have been continuing the debate on social media.

Some critics have linked preachers’ insistence that followers must give a tithe with the immense wealth of many Nigerian pastors.

With about half of Nigeria’s 180 million people saying they are Christians, the potential income to the country’s many churches is enormous.

Pastor Adeboye himself has been listed by Forbes as one of the richest clerics in the world with a net worth of $130m (£91m).

‘Manipulative doctrine’

What particularly irks radio personality Daddy Freeze is that preachers tell very poor people that if they give to the church, God will make them wealthy – an idea known as the “prosperity gospel”.

“The only people that seem to be getting richer are these people who are preaching this gospel of prosperity,” he told the BBC.

Ifedayo Olarinde known as 'Daddy Freeze' is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria
Image captionIfedayo Olarinde, known as “Daddy Freeze”, is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria

“You have a pastor who builds a school with the funds generated from tithing and offerings from poor congregation members and they can’t [afford to] attend those schools.”

The presenter, whose real name is Ifedayo Olarinde, used to pay tithes himself and still describes himself as a follower of Christ.

But he believes that tithes are an irrelevant part of the Old Testament.

“It’s a non-progressive doctrine, it’s a manipulative doctrine and it’s an enslaving doctrine.”

Daddy Freeze’s comments have cost him.

Preachers have spoken out against him in their sermons and people have started avoiding him.

“Nobody wants to work with me, nobody,” he said. “But I believe what I’m doing, I’m doing for humanity, people need to be set free.”

He is not the only Christian who disputes whether the Bible advises to pay 10% of your income to the church – some well known preachers have come forward to say it is not compulsory.

Doing God’s work

For Idris Belo-Osagie, a pastor at the Lifepointe Church in Lagos, the 10% figure is a “useful reference” for Christians due to its “historical context,” but he stipulates that “we are not forced to give to God”.

"It's not about a percentage, it's not about a requirement, it's about a lifestyle," says Pastor Belo-Osagie
Image caption“It’s not about a percentage, it’s not about a requirement, it’s about a lifestyle,” says Pastor Belo-Osagie

However, he adds that “it’s hard to see how you can follow in Jesus’ steps and not give”.

In a country where state-run health and education services are often lacking, he argues that the church often uses the money it gets for the welfare “of those who can’t take care of themselves”.

“There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who are fed in Nigeria by the church because they’ve been empowered by the giving of the people of God,” he said.

He also points out that the money is used to spread the church’s teachings.

And the church-goers I met in Lagos are happy to carry on paying the 10%.

“It’s something I’ve practised over time and it’s worked for me, so I’ll just keep doing it,” the smartly dressed assistant to pastor Caleb Ekpenyong told me.

For him the doctrine is clear and there is no grey area.

The conspicuous consumption of some preachers doesn’t deter Christians from giving either.

One church-goer, Temitope Olagbgegi, told me the preachers’ lavish lifestyles were a matter for God, not her.

“So many people are concerned about how the funds are being used, forgetting that, because it’s a spiritual thing, if the pastor chooses to misuse funds he’s going to bear the brunt of it.”

*BBC

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Nigeria’s Economy At Risk‎ — IMF
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

*Says building revenue is the way out

By Olayinka Ajayi

Catherine Pattillo, assistant director, fiscal affairs department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has admonished Federal Government of Nigeria to remove tax waiver as its potend  risk on the nation’s economy.

President Buhari with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

President Buhari with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

Fielding questions from news men at the ongoing Spring meeting of the Bretton Wood institution, Pattillo said Nigeria currently gives a three-year tax holiday to practitioners in 27 industries under the pioneer status incentive. Also, companies receive tax waivers for carrying out certain projects on behalf of the federal government.

“The recent IMF report on Nigeria which was emphasising that with a constraining debt servicing as you know the ratio of federal government interest payment to debt revenue is extremely high, 63 percent,” Pattillo said.

“There is a need to build revenue so that you have more space to spend for infrastructure, social safety nets, among others, otherwise interest is eating up most of your revenue so building revenue is key and how do you do that?

“The recommendation in the IMF staff report is to broaden the tax base by removing exemptions, to rationalise tax incentives in particular to strengthen tax compliance and our recommendation to raise the VAT rate. So those were the recommendations for Nigeria on tax.”

Pattillo said the government’s strategy of favouring foreign debts over domestic ones has merit.

“Factors that support that is that Nigeria’s current external debt to GDP ratio is low so the external interest payments are relatively low. The benefit of that switch is a reduction in overall interest payments and a lengthening of maturity,” she said.

Speaking further, Pattillo said lenders may become scared to have dealings with countries with high-interest payments like Nigeria because of the risk of repayment.

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It’s Unconstitutional To Suspend Fellow Senators — Falana
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Nigeria’s renown human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has asserted that it is unconstitutional for any legislative chamber to suspend or sack a member.

FEMI FALANA

FEMI FALANA

Speaking while reacting to the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from the Senate, Falana said:‎ “No legislative house can suspend or remove a member. It is only a court of law or the constituency that elected them can order the removal or suspension of their representative,” said the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

“Because when you remove or suspend a legislator,  his constituency no longer has a representative in that house and that is not legal.”

Falana recalled a case involving a female lawmaker in the Bauchi house of assembly who was suspended indefinitely over a statement she made during plenary.

“I handled the case of Dino Melaye and others when they were been suspended from NASS in 2011. I handled the case of Dana vs Bauchi house of assembly from the high court to court of appeal. As of today, his case is the locus classicus on the tenure of members,” he said.

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Africa cannot develop without IMF framework
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asserted that infrastructural  governance can’t improve in Africa if it’s recommended framework is not implemented.

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Speaking at the ongoing Spring meetings in Washington DC, two officials of the organisation stated this in a session titled ‘Public Investment Efficiency in Sub-Saharan African Countries: What Lies Ahead?

The officials Ha Vu, a public financial management specialist at the IMF, and Karim Barhoumi, IMF resident representative in Benin and Togo, stated this in response to a question on why Africa was still faced with economic challenges despite help by the IMF,

Vu said: “Other development partners have tried to help African countries including the Sub Saharan African countries to improve the infrastructure governance. Who do you think should be the king actor? It’s you, Africa.

“We are here to help and support. We are here to guide because for example the framework, it cannot help to improve infrastructure governance in Africa if it is not applied.

“The role of the framework is to guide you where to look at to find the issues, how to think and how to improve and the IMF provides technical assistance to implement these reforms to get the improvement.”

Corroborating her stand, Barhoumi added: “You’re right, there are political economic issues as it depends on the commitment you have on the political level to also start working on projects,” Barhoumi said.

“The fund is providing this advice, this recommendation but it depends on the commitment of any country:‎ “It’s not a matter of spending much more than your neighbouring country but it is the quality of your spending. With the same amount of money, we can have three bridges and we all know the economic impact of bridges but with the same amount of money, we only have two bridges because of lack of quality public management.”

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

By Jesse Jackson Snr*

Jesse Jackson Snr

Jesse Jackson Snr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OP-ED: REFORMING THE AU REQUIRES STRONGER TIES WITH CIVIL SOCIETY
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mpako Foaleng and Niagalé Bagayoko*

Faced with security threats that are rapidly and constantly changing, and compounded by economic and social challenges that inhibit development ambitions in Africa, the question that is increasingly being asked is how to promote the participation of civil society in the management of public affairs and, in particular, political and security matters.

In its Constitutive Act, the African Union (AU) acknowledges “the need to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion among our peoples”.[1] Furthermore, the AU plans to build its capacity to guarantee peace and protection for African citizens through common defence and security policies by 2063.

Through institutional reforms adopted in 2017, the AU is committed to becoming financially independent with regard to security affairs by increasing the contribution of its Member States to the “Peace Fund” and reducing that of international partners.

Without prejudice to what may actually happen to this fund and its utilization, there is one major hurdle that the AU must overcome to ensure sustainability of its actions in the area of peace and security: a complete change in the manner in which civil society is engaged, involved and considered is mandatory.

By enlisting the support of organized civil society in its various member countries, the AU could utilize them as effective allies, particularly in encouraging Member States to implement its principles, which provide for the involvement of populations in the management of public affairs.

The nature of current security threats – whether in the form of terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, drugs and arms at the trans-regional level or escalating organized crime and conflicts between communities at the national level – cannot be effectively addressed in the absence of a climate of trust between citizens and state authorities, including security forces and law enforcement.

Moreover, the “African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform”, adopted by the Twentieth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in January 2013, emphasizes the role of civil society in security sector reform (SSR) and engages the latter (particularly in Section H) to actively interact with the AU as well as with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States in this area.[2] ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) also highlights in its “Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance” the key role that civil society should play in the oversight of security affairs.

However, there is no denying the fact that the reality falls far short of these principles in many African states, and the situation tends to worsen in certain countries where laws have been adopted that explicitly restrict, or even prohibit, the involvement of civil society organizations in security-related matters.

The AU is therefore suitably placed to combine its desire for financial reform and the need to foster change in the attitudes of its Member States for greater recognition of the oversight role of organized civil society in the areas of security and justice.

The increasingly important role played in the evolution of institutions and political and security situations by civil society in all of its forms, in a certain number of African countries, is a welcome development.

As an illustration, in 2014 it was observed that civil society in Burkina Faso, through movements such as the Balai Citoyen, were actively involved in actions that precipitated the departure of President Blaise Campaoré. They also played a key role in the failure of the attempted coup of 15 September 2015 led by the former presidential security regiment (RSP), security forces loyal to the deposed president.

This commitment helped to bring about an end to the crisis and the democratic appointment of a new president.[3] Even before this historical wave of popular protests, the Balai Citoyen had focused its efforts on promoting dialogue between the populations and the armed forces, as well as improving the conditions of the military.

However, Burkina Faso today is subject to continuous attacks in the North along its border areas with Mali and Niger, gravely undermining the ability of defence and security forces to ensure the protection of the state and citizens in an effective and accountable manner. The government has identified security sector reform as a priority. It will be important to ensure in the process that civil society in Burkina Faso continue to have a space to advocate for the democratic management of security affairs.

In Africa, a long history of civil wars, armed conflicts, coup d’états, authoritarian military regimes and abuse by law enforcement officers has shaped the largely undemocratic operations of political and security institutions.

Defence and security services have long been at the exclusive service of ensuring the security of regimes in place. The challenge today is translating into action the officially stated, yet contradictory in practice, ambitions of many African states to promote both state security and that of the populations they are meant to serve.

The AU should rely on civil society organizations to help promote an approach to security and governance that focuses on the protection requirements of both citizens and state institutions.

The challenge in fact is ensuring that the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force enjoyed by states is subject to democratic supervision and citizen control, carried out by civil society organizations in particular.

There are, however, three key issues that should not be overlooked in order to promote effective collaboration between the AU and civil society organizations in the area of peace and security: legitimacy, representation and competition (especially in terms of access to public funds or from external donors), which now characterize the increasingly dynamic yet widely challenged (including by the populations) sphere in which African civil societies evolve.

*Mpako Foaleng (PhD) and Niagalé Bagayoko (PhD) are senior experts on security sector reform and governance.

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

By Jerry John Rawlings*

John Rawlings

John Rawlings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*John Rawlings is former President of the Republic of Ghana

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Blackmail will not Stop N22 bn NEMA Funds Probe- Reps
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Hon E,J Agbonayinma

Hon E,J Agbonayinma

The Nigeria’s House of Representatives has said blackmail or campaign of calumny will not make it end its ongoing investigation into violation of public trust by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Reacting to reports in some national dailies, on the ongoing investigation by the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, ‎Hon E.J Agbonayinma, said: ” The House is not fixated on any person in particular, but finding out the truth behind the allegations of diversion of N22 billion  intervebtion funds.”

“We observed with dismay, the campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the Presidency, especially His Excellency the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN.

“We, therefore, want to know if the council under the Vice President authorised the suspension of the directors.

“Notwithstanding, the provision of Section 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), empowers the National Assembly to invite any person to appear before it, or its Committee during investigations.

“The Committee resolved that His Excellency the Vice President can send anybody to represent him considering his busy schedules.

This Committee will leave no stone unturned until we unearth the truth”, he said.

The House further denied  receiving a petition from suspended members of staff of NEMA, adding that they got to know about their suspension through a disclosure made by the director general, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja, during one of the hearings.

“The issue of the suspended directors was mentioned by the Director General Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja himself during one of the Committee hearing, when he introduced a new Director of Finance and we sought to know what happened to the former director and he admitted to suspending them.

“The Committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because these same directors are witnesses in the ongoing investigation.

“We will also not shield any public officer who soil their hands no matter how highly or lowly placed,” the lawmakers said.

The investigation is on the following releases from January to December, 2017;

 

  1. Release of 5.9B Food Intervention in the North East,
  2. Release of 3.1B Food Intervention in North East
  3. Release of 1.6B for Libya Returnees
  4. Release of 1.6B Flood Intervention for 16 States,
  5. Donation of 6,779 Metric Tons of Rice by Chinese Government.
  6. Payment of about N800Million Demurrage on the donated Rice by Chinese Rice
  7.  The un-accounted 10Billion release from Ecological Funds.‎

 

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