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A Recipe For African Success In NJ Ayuk’s Billions At Play
November 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

NJ Ayuk speaking at the launch of Billions At Play in South Africa
NJ Ayuk speaking at the launch of Billions At Play in South Africa

Launched recently in South Africa at a heavily attended event, NJ Ayuk’s new book Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals has received rave reviews.

“Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success,” says NJ Ayuk in an interview with Pan African Visions to discuss the book. Past deals have not worked for a majority of African countries and Billions At Play is a road map to the future we Africans want to build for ourselves, says NJ Ayuk.

With key roles   roles as CEO of Centurion Law Group, and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, Ayuk says Africans need to know the worth and value they bring into any oil and gas deals.

“Oil only becomes a curse when it is mismanaged, and when extraction is done without proper supervision and regulations, without pragmatic solutions that promise sustainability,” says Ayuk.

Described by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo as a dreamer who has taken the time to develop a detailed roadmap for realizing that dream, Ayuk says he cherishes the battles he fights to get opportunities for fellow African to have a seat at the table.

“We are showing that we are not a helpless continent and we don’t want handouts – our future will not be based on aid,” says Ayuk in the interview which also discusses the role of the diaspora, women, alternative sources of energy ,and more.

NJ your new book Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals is now available, what is the message you seek to convey?

Billions At Play is a roadmap to the future that we, Africans, can build for ourselves by getting a few things right. The biggest message that I seek to convey is that of our shared responsibility towards improving Africa and creating the Africa our future generations will thank us for. It goes beyond the African energy sector. I hope everyone can see how they can be part of the solution in a more practical, sustainable way. Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success.

Special guests at the launch included H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea; Hon. Abdirashid Mohammed Ahmed, Minister of Petroleum of the Federal Republic of Somalia; Kola Karim, Group Managing Director of Shoreline Energy and Mr. Rene Awambeng, Global Head of Client Relations at Afreximbank
Special guests at the launch included H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea; Hon. Abdirashid Mohammed Ahmed, Minister of Petroleum of the Federal Republic of Somalia; Kola Karim, Group Managing Director of Shoreline Energy and Mr. Rene Awambeng, Global Head of Client Relations at Afreximbank

In terms of doing deals, what is it that African countries have failed to understand, and what are some of the suggestions that you are offering?

It’s no secret that in the past deals have proven not to work for a majority of African countries – only benefiting a selected few. We see the repercussions of that daily, where African countries are rich in oil and gas, but their communities at large suffer from poverty and unemployment. My biggest recommendation? Better deal-making abilities and implementation of local content regulations.  We need to learn how to negotiate better deals that benefit everyday Africans. We are getting smarter at building new models for managing petroleum revenue. Africans need to know the worth and value we bring into any oil and gas deals and be confident in that. Our laws must create an enabling environment for international investors who want to transfer technology and empower Africans, to be able to do business with us. As I write in Billions At Play, good deal-making is crucial. We need to negotiate deals that result in long-term benefits for the people, African companies need to negotiate deals that keep them on an equal playing field with their competition and empower them to grow, to create and sustain jobs, and to support the communities they are based in. 

Looking at the continent we see some countries that have produced oil for decades unable to maintain a single functional refinery, in other countries the resources seem to benefit a few and not the broader interest of the people, how does Africa turn the resource curse to a blessing ?

Oil only becomes a curse when it is mismanaged, and when extraction is done without proper supervision and regulations, without pragmatic solutions that promise sustainability. Otherwise, it can be a true blessing. We need infrastructure – we need to build and own our own refineries, pipelines, urea, ammonia, and fertilizer plants, power plants etc. The same applies to setting up technology hubs! We have seen how some African countries have started taking steps in this direction, and that makes me really proud.

When we talk of energy, the immediate focus is on oil, could you talk on the potential of other forms of energy like wind and solar and how this could shape the future as well?

Africa will never fulfill its true potential until access to reliable power is widespread, and that can only be attained once we have functional, well-funded, transparent power utilities that make use of new technologies and solutions and that partner with the private sector to promote the continent’s ability to power itself in a sustainable manner.

Yes, most of Africa has solar exposure that is very adequate for power generation, not to mention wind, hydro, and other forms of clean power generation. The likes of Kenya, targeting a 100% clean energy mix is a good example.

Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success, says Ayuk
Africans are more than capable of making our continent a success, says Ayuk

“Africans are more than capable of making our continent successful,” you say in the book, looking at what is going on in the continent, what makes you so optimistic?

Take a look around you and across the globe and you will easily spot African brothers and sisters actively doing amazing things in their spheres of influence, each playing a role in transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans. Similarly, the biggest discoveries made in the world recently are in Africa. We are showing that we are not a helpless continent and we don’t want handouts – our future will not be based on aid. Good things really are happening across the continent, and the petroleum industry is a common denominator. You can find plenty of examples of natural resources contributing to meaningful changes for the better. I’ll forever be optimistic, and I know my hard work and optimism is contagious.

What role do you see for the African diaspora, especially those with the skills set that could make a difference on the energy future of the continent?

The diaspora can actively engage with foreign partners, which is essential to Africa’s growth, and contribute to spreading a more objective narrative on the promising future the continent has. Similarly, and as we seek to build better organizations and run better businesses, skills learned and acquired abroad can be highly beneficial to the continent.

“Africa needs companies that are willing to share knowledge, technology and best practices, and businesses that are willing to form positive relationships in areas where they work,” you say, what leverage do African countries have to compel companies from China, Europe, the US and other parts of the world to implement this?

We need foreign oil and gas companies to continue operating in African communities and to continue hiring African people, purchasing from African suppliers, and partnering with African companies. Like I said, foreign partners are essential to Africa’s growth, we need to push ahead, and we cannot live and prosper in isolation. We can also benefit from the companies working on the continent for investment collaborations and to build the infrastructure necessary for industrialization.

You also talk about the paucity of women in the energy sector, what accounts for this and how important is it for the trend to be reversed?

I sit in a lot of boardrooms, I speak at a lot of conferences, and I am always faced with how few and far in between women executives are in these spaces. It’s a fact that amongst African oil firms, women in leadership only account for only about 2-3%. So who is going to push the agenda for women, if not me? Not us? I know and work with a lot of amazingly hardworking, innovative, strong women that I believe need to take their spaces in executive roles. Women have a great deal to offer, and good jobs for women contribute to a more stable, more economically vital Africa. We have to do more to ensure that women and men receive equal compensation, whether it’s wages, community programs, or property royalties, etc. If I can do my part to put pressure, I’ll be happy.

Billions At Play is a roadmap to the future that we, Africans, can build for ourselves by getting a few things right,says Ayuk
Billions At Play is a roadmap to the future that we, Africans, can build for ourselves by getting a few things right,says Ayuk

Billions at Play is also hitting the stands at a time of great excitement and growing optimism with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, how does this factor in into the vision you share?

The AfCFTA like in every other industry or sector, can yield great results for the oil industry. I love unity! I love making money together! I have Centurion Law Group offices in South, West, and East Africa already – I’m glad the entire continent is catching up. I continue to embrace strong regional economy give the continent a competitive edge in the global economy and it will make a lot of pan-African work easier. Lets’ win together.

In his foreword, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo describes you as a dreamer who has “taken the time to develop a detailed roadmap for realizing that dream,” how far is NJ Ayuk willing to go in rallying Africa and friends of Africa towards the fulfilment of this dream?

That’s what I live for every day. Opening opportunities for fellow African to come and have a seat at the table. It is an honor for me to be able to do that and call it my work. to open doors for other people, the same way as doors were open for me and knowledge imparted. That is what it is all about.

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AU Trade Commissioner Muchanga on the Game Changing Prospects of the AfCFTA
October 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

–Unprecedented Political Will Across Africa To See AfCFTA Succeed

By Ajong Mbapndah L

It is a new dawn for Africa with the AfCFTA says AU Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga

The AU could not have sent a better person to the USA to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Agreement with the diaspora. The schedule was hectic, at every stop, and at each event, Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga had an infectious smile on his face. He listened attentively, addressed concerns, and responded to questions as best he could.

With its wealth of knowledge, networking, and finance, the African diaspora has a huge role to play in the African Continental Free Trade area, says Commissioner Muchanga. Speaking with confidence, Commissioner Muchanga indicated that things were on track for the market to go operational by July of 2020.

When reminded that the problem of Africa has never been in the treaties or projects but rather implementation, Mr. Muchanga said things are different this time around. The political will is so strong and the leaders, and people across Africa are keenly aware of the stakes, he said. The rapidity with which countries signed and ratified the AfCFTA gives every reason to hope for the best, Commissioner Muchanga said.

You attended the Making African Trade Easy event. How did the event go? And what message did you bring to the African Diaspora from the AU?

Commissioner Muchanga: The event went on very well. Basically, the key issues were on the emerging developments in the African continent and the diaspora are very happy because they see a role for themselves. We are saying that for us to implement the agreement we need all stakeholders to play their part – the African Diaspora needs to play their part, they are a  source of knowledge, networking, and  finance, so they can organize themselves to see how they can contribute to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It is the biggest and most ambitious development program so far. It lays the foundation for present and future generations to develop an Africa they want.

The speedy adoption and ratification of the AfCFTA by African leaders shows tremendous political will says Commissioner Muchanga

Specifically, with the Continental Free Trade Area, where are we at this point?

Commissioner Muchanga: Our target is to start trading on 1st July 2020, and we are going to hit that target. At the national level, countries are producing trading documents which are going to be distributed to all the corners where there will be trading. We are sensitizing the business communities in their respective countries to be ready for the market. At the level of the African Continental Free Trade Area as a target we are finalizing work on tariffs schedules, land tariffs monetary systems, and the African Trade Observatory. We are also engaging the regional economic communities so that we collaborate effectively on all matters on facilitating trade across all Africa. We are very confident that come 1st July 2020, the market will start operating.

Expectations are so high; it has been billed as a game changer. Can you tell us about the potential, and what it will take for this Free Trade Agreement to make the desired impact you want to see on the continent?

Commissioner Muchanga: First requirement is that each and every African country should become a state party to the agreement. 54 countries have signed, and we are left with one which is Eritrea and we are sure they will sign. 28 countries have already posted the instruments of ratification and we are remaining with 28 including Eritrea, and we are in discussion with all these 28 countries and we are confident that come July 1, 2020, all of them will sign and ratify the agreement. So, the first requirement is that we create one African market by having all the 55 African countries be part of it.

Secondly, it is a task involving many stakeholders, the African governments are involved (they are coming up with the legal frameworks, the legal documents and policies), the African private sector also has a role to play (we want investments from them so they can supply the huge market we are creating), the academia also have a role to play (they need to come up with educational materials at appropriate levels so that all Africans from kindergarten to Universities ,everybody is involved with the AfCFTA), the CSOs have a role to play. The AfCFTA must filter down to the lowest level.

You are confident that Africa will succeed but Africa has not had a shortage of ideas, or projects, but there seems to be a problem with implementation. What makes you confident that the Continental Free Trade Agreement will work?

Commissioner Muchanga: First and foremost, there is a huge political will for the AfCFTA. When we started negotiations a lot of people expected the negotiations to take a minimum of six years but we were able to complete negotiations within two years which shows the huge political will. When the agreement was opened for signature, we were told it takes another five years for an AU legal instrument to be ratified, but with the support of member states we did our work in advocating for early ratification – within a period of one year we were able to get a minimum of 22 ratifications. The governments said we cannot end here and let us open the operational phase and they agreed that it should be July 1, 2020. They have said on the day we launch the operational phase it will be called the African Integration Day which is 7 July each year.

We are also working on a Secretariat which will be given enough resources- human and financial to be able to capture the whole of Africa. That inspectorate will collaborate with the regional economic community. We are coming up with a framework of collaborations so that there is alignment of operations, transparency, and confidence with each other.

What mechanisms are there to make sure that smaller countries do not get swallowed up by big ones?

Commissioner Muchanga: The first one is political. We are bringing to the attention of leaders that as we build the AfCFTA there should be a shift in the mindset. The new domestic market for Africa is the AfCFTA, the national market is receding, and all of us should work around the AfCFTA. When the mindset is changed, the issue of working in isolation will no longer work. One of the earliest steps we took was to come up with a protocol which is undergoing signatures so that we create a common African identity so that we ensure that Africans move in the continent without any restrictions. We are also creating an adjustment facility. It will take some time to come up with a fully fledge functional institutional arrangement. We are also working with the Afreximbank they have put aside $2.5 billion  for five regions in Africa – East, Central, Southern, Western, and Northern. Each one of them is going to be allocated $500 million so that companies that want to scale up productions will be able to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. We are putting enough things to achieve win-win outcomes.

With the advent of the Continental Free Trade, what impact will it have on trade with external partners?

Commissioner Muchanga: We are going to transform African trading with external partners. Historically Africa has always been a trader of raw materials. Now we are going to add value to the ones already in Africa with the development of value added chains. When we do that, there are two things that will be involved – the products will have greater values and the companies that invest in value addition are going to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. With that huge scale, they will be in a better position to be able to export to the world, and Africa is going to emerge as an exporter of manufactured goods to the rest of the world.

Commissioner Muchanga with Ajong Mbapndah L of PAV , the AfCFTA is a vehicle to build the Africa we want, he says

When you look at AGOA, there are two key problems that are faced in Africa. One is the standard (but a lot of Africa countries have not been able to meet that standard) and the other is the scale (quite a number of producers in Africa have not been able to satisfied the big US market). All of these are going to be resolved by creating the AfCFTA.

You travel the continent regularly; do you really think that African leaders and Africans get it and are willing to put in their all to make AfCFTA work?

Commissioner Muchanga: They are willing to make it work. One of the biggest problems we have in Africa is youth unemployment and Africa has a young population and the minimum age is about 19 years. Each leader knows that for them to create credibility in the eyes of the young population they should deliver decent lives to the people. It is not just about creating jobs but engaging the youths to really be entrepreneurs in their own rights. The youths are very knowledgeable with ICTs and each and every country should come up with incentives and structures to bring foreign investment to the continent.

 Your boss the AU chairman was giving a Diaspora award. How much support are you getting from him?

Commissioner Muchanga: I have a very positive relationship with the chairman. Whenever I need support, I go to him and he has never said no. when the award came, he said he won’t be able to make it but said I would be able to represent him. When I get back, I am going to his office to present the award to him not just in his honor but the AU commission he heads. It is recognition from the Diaspora that our African body is producing good results. We are a Commission with 10 elected officials, and I also have a good working relationship with the other officials. Trade is about creating industries, it is about agro processing. One of the first things I did before coming from Nigeria was producing a matrix of the functional relationship between the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and all the departments of the AU so that they are going to see how we work. So, we are working as a team.

What expectations do you have from Nigeria and South Africa which are supposed to be leaders of the continent, Nigeria joined the AfCFTA late, and recently South Africa had this wave of xenophobic attacks, are the two continental giants playing their role?

Commissioner Muchanga: Nigeria said they needed to take a very broad-based stakeholder consultation. They went to the federal states, businesspeople, academia, youths and several people so it took them a while to undertake the process. After that they were caught up with elections and when they were ready, they signed and hopefully they are going to ratify in no distant time. With the case of South Africa, I said authorities needed to arrest the perpetrators and prosecute them so people do not think they can do anything they want. The issue is not just about foreigners as even South Africans were attacked.

Looking at everything, at what point should the everyday Africans expect to start getting the benefits of the AfCFTA?

Commissioner Muchanga: My vision is very clear. Come day one which is July 1. 2020, I will like to see a very active market and when that market is very active people should be able to say I am buying a product from country X. When they buy those products there should be two things the price is lower and the quality is very high. I also expect the business community to respond heavily by ensuring that they invest to produce to the scale of the AfCFTA. Without the investment of the private sector, we will achieve nothing. According to the International Chamber of Commerce, only 12 per cent of investment across Africa is accounted for by the African private sector. They need to scale up. Once we do that, we are on our way to creating the market that we want.

Any particular events surrounding the launch in 2020?

Commissioner Muchanga: I am meeting the Ministers this October where they are going to guide me on how the event will look like. I think there will be a symbolic launch.

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Nigeria:Insight Into The Edewor Foundation
September 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

It is all about giving back and making a difference says Prof Edewor

It is all about giving back and making a difference says Prof Edewor

Rollison Edewor has embarked on a lofty mission to transform lives in his local community in Nigeria. The Founder of the Edewor Foundation shares insight his work ,projects, and way forward in an interview with PAV.

Prof Rollison Edewor is Founder of the Edewor Foundation, can you introduce the Foundation and its mission?

The essence of life and true self is to help and love one another. And to better achieve this, one must go where it is most needed and appreciated. Together with my family, we set up this foundation to give back to the society where poverty and lack of funds to further education are at its peak. In general, we want to help reduce hunger, poverty and illiteracy among fellow Africans or those that relatively falls into this category.

The Foundation has been engaged in a number of Peace, Security & Investment initiatives, can you shed some light on this?

Delta state (Nigeria) is plagued with ethnic and violent unrest, as well as insecurity. Resulting to underdevelopment which is one reason why investors and citizens in diaspora refused to relocate or invest. But reality is now setting in as the world begins to advance towards technology, the aging of violence begins to give way to peace. Which is where we had to come in to unite them. For ethnic communities to come together to promote growth is something unheard of in decades. My goal was to bring all the ethnic groups together but my connection to all is limited. So, I started with where I grew up, SAPELE kingdom. The unity will warrant them to sign a peace and security agreement. This agreement is tendered to prospective investors for assurance.

At one of its recent meetings, representatives of over 30 communities of Okpe Kingdom indicated their willingness to give peace a chance by working out modalities of ensuring peace and security reign in their communities , where is the Okpe Kingdom , what has been going on there and why the need for peace?

The area is underdeveloped. Educational awareness is very low, and the youths are restless resulting to crime and unruly conducts. Thus, we created a literacy center in one of the villages. Where we currently have 5 standing and qualified teachers. We plan to open more. The purpose is to train their mind and prepare them for this peaceful atmosphere. They loved it and thus, the many villages coming out.

The meeting saw the presentation of the Edewor Peace, Security & Investment Agreement papers to all the communities, what is the content of these papers?

The content of the document is nothing but a promise and obligation to protect and maintain peaceful atmosphere with Investors, Investments and other citizens in diaspora. NOTE: Many Nigerians in diaspora are afraid to go back home for fear of harassment and insecurity.

The people of the Kingdom are enthused with prospects of investment, what are some of the opportunities that could be of interest to investors in that part of Nigeria?

The investment comes from fellow Nigerian citizens and any foreigner who wants to invest. Since most of us are afraid of investing at home due to embezzlement and scam. Seeing the action of the youth and community towards advocating for peace will motivate and compel others to relate about investing at home.

Looking broadly at Nigeria, we see to see either conflicts or potential for conflict everywhere, between different ethnic communities, between political parties, between Christians and Muslims, Fulani etc, what is your take on the situation in the country ?

To be honest, I do believe if jobs are created, these problems will either seize or decrease. All play without work makes Jack a dull boy. They must have something doing. Just take for example the literacy school we opened, hundreds of youths now attending. Imagine when you create jobs.

With the experience you have garnered, how recommendations do you have in mind for a more harmonious country, and does the Edewor Foundation plan to tackle state and nationwide issues or remain limited to your local community of Okpe?

This experience shows that people actually want peace and development. The quest to learn is proof to that. The Edewor Foundation is still in its infancy stage. Thus, our presence or activities are still limited. Sapele is my hometown, easier for us to relate, so I started with them first. If this is successful, we will extend to others.

On politics, President Buhari is into his second and last term, what are some of the priority areas that you think he must tackle?

Am not a politician and don’t do politics. So this question is not for me.

Your reaction  to the recent arrest of Nigerians in the USA for diverse cybercrimes, how does Nigeria handle the stigma that comes with crimes of a few been labeled on the entire polity?

Kid you not. This issue affected my moral. Just imagine after building trust and support, such thing happened. Your spirit is dampened. Mind you, not just Nigerians only, but those who for years had trust in us. But am glad to hear that the Nigerian government partook in the operation to crack them down.

What else will the Edewor Foundation be working on for the rest of the year and beyond?

For now, we are working on opening more literacy and skill acquisition stations in interior villages.

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Cameroon, Guinea, South Africa….NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh On Africa’s Shrinking Democratic Space
September 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

While it may be heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades, the rate at which the successes of political transitions of the 90s are been rolled back should be of concern to everyone says Dr Christopher Senior Associate for Africa at the Washington, DC based National Democratic Institute.

A seasoned professional who has played a leading role in some of the most successful stories of democracies in Africa since the early 90s, Dr Fomunyoh says it is disappointing to see the prevalence of armed conflicts, opposition leaders been thrown in jail, elections being stolen, and constitutions amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and  must continue to fight for inclusive and accountable government, says Dr Fomunyoh in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for Pan African Visions.

Speaking with passion about his native Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. Describing the recent trial of Anglophone leaders as a travesty of justice, Fomunyoh says their sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust, and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

“We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon,” Dr Fomunyoh says.

For the dialogue announced by President Biya  to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard, says Dr Fomunyoh.

“The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

Considering that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, Dr Domunyoh said the burden will be  on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Dr Fomunyoh, you have just returned from Guinea Conakry, an African country that has tremendous resources, but has experienced difficult political transitions in the past. What is your overall assessment of the situation there in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for 2020?

You are so right, Guinea is a country with so much potential given its mineral wealth that includes some of the world’s highest reserves of bauxite and iron ore, and timber and water resources. Unfortunately, the impact of past military and authoritarian rule is still being felt, and citizens still crave an improvement in their well-being in this age of democratic government. The overall political situation in Guinea is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections which have to be conducted between now and December 2020. On top of that, there is speculation that the country could run into a major crisis over whether to adopt a new constitution or not. Political parties, civil society organizations, labor unions, academics and other opinion leaders are already taking sides on the airwaves and various social media platforms. Many Guineans remain hopeful that the day would come when a democratically elected president transfers power through the ballot box to his successor, something that has not happened since the country gained independence in 1958.

Dr Fomunyoh in discussion with President Alpha Conde of Guinea where the overall political situation is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections

Recently in Cape Town, South Africa, as a guest speaker at the joint conference co-organized by the University of Cape Town and the Kofi Annan Foundation, you stated that “political space is shrinking across Africa.” What leads you to that conclusion?

First let me say how uplifting it was to be at the University of Cape Town for a conference in memory of two great sons of Africa — Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan — who as world leaders epitomized the best of humanity in terms of their vision and commitment to promoting human dignity, development and world peace. I was truly honored to be invited.

In the spirit of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, it is heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades: political pluralism is now common practice in all African countries, independent media continues to grow, the continent’s youth are becoming politically engaged, and, increasingly, political power is being transferred through the ballot process. Who could have thought that in Sudan, by the sheer determination of citizens engaged in civil protest, a thirty-year autocracy under General Al-Bashir would collapse! At the same time, one must state the disappointment that in too many African countries some of the successes of political transitions of the 1990s are being rolled back. Armed conflicts are still prevalent, opposition leaders are being thrown in jail, injustice is being inflicted on ordinary citizens, elections are being stolen, and constitutions are being amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

So what should Africans do about the democratic backsliding?

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and fight for inclusive and accountable government. We need more open political space to engage citizens across the board and harness the rich diversity of talent and expertise that our continent possesses. We must find ways to galvanize our human capital to best utilize the countries’ wealth to improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. For this to happen, we have to learn to aggregate our efforts as opposed to operating in silos, we have to build alliances across the continent so that the good guys can support each other and draw inspiration from each others’ successes. The next generation of Africans expect from us a better continent than we may have inherited from the generation before us.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

 

You were in South Africa around the week of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against Africans of other nationalities. What do you make of these attacks and how was the mood like while you were there?

It is sad and despicable to watch Africans being killed by other Africans for no other reason than their countries of origin. Nelson Mandela and other founders of today’s democratic and free South Africa would be turning in their graves, because they would remember the contributions by other African countries to the liberation struggle. Without the frontline states that include countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Nigeria, perhaps we would not have South Africa as we know it today.  Even if South African youth are exposed to many challenges such as high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities and a sense of abandonment by the state, that still cannot explain why they would take out their grievances violently against fellow Africans. It is my hope that the government of South Africa would draw the appropriate lessons from this unfortunate incident and come out with well-crafted programs that can provide a safety net for the less fortunate of South African society, and a sense of safety and security for other Africans that choose to live in this beautiful country.  That tragedy also exposes the failures of other governments across the continent whose citizens now feel obliged to flee their homeland to become refugees in foreign lands, because of political repression or because of lack of economic opportunity. What’s happening in South Africa today must prick our collective conscience as Africans.

Coming now to your home country of Cameroon, what is your assessment of the political situation there, in what shape is the country?

Cameroon is in bad shape. Thousands of Anglophones have been killed, others in their thousands are in detention centers spread across the country; members of security forces have lost their lives in hundreds; over two hundred villages have been burned; 40,000 Anglophones now live in refugee camps in Nigeria and 600,000 others are internally displaced, now living in other regions of the country. For three years running, schools have been unable to open in the Anglophone regions of the country. The United Nations estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine, all because of the ongoing crisis.

At the same time, the runner-up in the last presidential election, Professor Maurice Kamto, and hundreds of his supporters — many of whom are lawyers, economists and other professionals — are being detained in Yaoundé, with some charged to appear before a military tribunal.

The country also continues to battle Boko Haram extremists in its extreme north region that borders north-eastern Nigeria and Chad. The overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. There is reason to be alarmed.

Getting into more recent developments, what is your take on the heavy jail sentence slammed on the Anglophone leader Julius Ayuk Tabe and others?

In my opinion, the sentencing of Ayuk Tabe and 9 others to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in Yaoundé is a travesty of justice on multiple fronts, notably the conditions of their arrest and extradition from Nigeria; their detention incommunicado for an extended period of over 9 months; their trial before a military tribunal constituted only of French speaking military judges; and the all-night trial that ended with a ruling at about 5 am in the morning.  There is no doubt in my mind that this sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

The heavy sentence came at a time when there are increasing calls for dialogue, what impact do you think this could have on prospects of dialogue?

This life imprisonment goes contrary to the vein of recent pronouncements in favor of dialogue by the government, multiple opinion leaders, the African Union and the international community. We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon.

As a seasoned professional on governance and conflict resolution, what proposals do you have for a way out of the present crisis?

I have been consistent in advocating for dialogue and in putting forward ideas that could help the country resolve this crisis. As recently as November 2018, I presented a 10-point agenda on concrete steps that could have been taken at the time to bring an end to the conflict. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, more lives have been lost, and the increasing number of victims only reinforces the urgency of concrete actions that must be taken to end the massacres and conflict. As I’ve stated over the years, I’m willing to put on the table how that roadmap could be implemented, were there to be an open platform and a genuine effort to end this crisis and get the country out of the mess in which it currently finds itself.

On Tuesday, September 10, President Biya addressed Cameroonians and, for the first time in three years, he discussed the crisis in the North West and South West regions in some detail. What is your reaction to the speech?

Modern day governance and crisis management demand that leaders be more proactive in communicating with citizens when countries face crises of the magnitude of what Cameroon has gone through over the past three years. It is good that President Paul Biya finally spoke directly to this crisis. The promise of a national dialogue is commendable, although I wish that the rest of the speech was less accusatory and provocative, so as to create an environment in which the dialogue could actually begin.

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

You have always called for dialogue, and now President Biya says there will be one starting by the end of September. What are some of the necessary ingredients for successful dialogue and a lasting solution?

First, for the dialogue to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard. The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately. Cameroonians still remember that a similar national dialogue in the early 90s came up with recommendations, most of which were ignored by the government. It is therefore important to send strong signals that the underlying grievances of Anglophones would be addressed, so they feel that the outcome of the dialogue would restore their dignity and what they have lost during this crisis. Given that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, the burden is on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Given that President Paul Biya is 86 years old and his legitimacy is questioned in some quarters, do you think Biya is in a position to resolve the crisis in Cameroon?

I have serious doubts that a president who is 86 years old, has been in power for 37 years, and has always been aloof and distant from the population can all of a sudden change his governance style and put in the energy and effort required to resolve the crisis. In the past three years, the magnitude of the crisis has grown exponentially, and it now has ramifications both across the country and internationally; I have strong doubts that the Biya government alone can find a way out. Other actors of good will, nationally and internationally, must step in given that trust has been severely broken between the Biya government and a sizeable chunk of the Anglophone population.

What do you think accounts for the levity with which the rest of Africa, and the broader international institutions like the African Union and the UN have treated the crisis in Cameroon?

I agree that the international community has been slow to respond to the crisis, and so far there have been more declarations than concrete actions. At least, some countries and organizations such as the United States, Germany, the European Union and recently the French Foreign Ministry, have been calling on President Biya to change his approach to the crisis and to engage in genuine dialogue. The United Nations recently expressed its support for a Swiss-led effort to mediate between the government and Anglophone secessionist movements, and the Security Council even held an informal debate on Cameroon in May. However, these measures are insufficient as the conflict continues unabated. One would have thought that after the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, declarations such as “Never again” would prick the conscience of the international community so as not to allow crises like the one in Cameroon to fester. I truly hope that the African Union and the international community can step up their engagement to bring peace to the country.

You are familiar with the way Washington works; can you help us better understand the different Congressional resolutions that have come up of recent on Cameroon?

I am heartened by the interest shown in the Cameroon crisis by the United States Congress, and I urge Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon to continue to educate members of Congress as well as the international community at large on the devastating nature of this crisis and its negative impact on millions of Cameroonians. Recently, Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is the Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, led a congressional delegation to Cameroon to hear firsthand from Cameroonians and victims of the crisis. Congressional resolutions, especially when passed on a bipartisan basis as we’ve seen in the case of Cameroon, carry a lot of weight. They capture the voice of the US Congress on an issue, and also have the capability of influencing the executive branch of government in its foreign policy approach. The European parliament, the German Bundestag and other important bodies have made similar pronouncements which help raise the level of awareness of the magnitude of the crisis, both within Cameroon and internationally. Hopefully, more concrete actions will follow.

One of the Congressional resolutions called for a return to the Federation that existed between 1961 and 1972. Do you think that could work?

At a minimum, such a concession could create the space for rebuilding trust, given that the government in power was part of the team that dismantled the first Federation in 1972. Moreover, when the current crisis broke in 2016, the Biya government would not entertain proposals for federalism, and even went as far as banning public discussions on the subject. For peace to prevail, Cameroonians will have to sit around the table and agree on a structure that can guarantee for every citizen his or her liberties and the preservation of their culture and dignity. It is inconceivable that Cameroon could rebuild without acknowledging the specificities of its English speaking population.

What is your take on the issue of school resumption?

As you may be aware, The Fomunyoh Foundation which has been active since 1999 has as one of its priorities to promote and support education in Cameroon. The Foundation has over the years distributed books and other school materials and organized public speaking events in academic institutions in all regions of the country. This underscores my personal commitment to the education of the younger generation. In the context of the ongoing crisis, education entails more than just having kids in a classroom. The back-to-school campaign to be successful, has to be part of a comprehensive package that includes among others, overall peace in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country; reassurances from both the military and armed groups that neither students, nor teachers, nor parents would be shot at or harassed; that the curriculum is relevant; and that the kids can ultimately be guaranteed a future. This requires a deep analysis and proper preparations to make it meaningful. I am saddened that some people are treating this matter as mere sloganeering for political advantage.

If the government calls on the expertise of the seasoned professional that you are, will you be willing to provide it?

For the past two decades, I have been consistent in raising concerns about how the country was being governed. I have been pained and truly aggrieved by what has happened to the Anglophone community in the past three years. It has been disappointing to see how legitimate grievances by lawyers and teachers were summarily dismissed by the authorities, and subsequently how other socio-political grievances that were brought to the fore were violently repressed. Here we are, with thousands of fellow compatriots killed, others in detention, in refugee camps and internally displaced – all of which could have been avoided. Under those circumstances, one has an obligation, if called upon, to contribute ideas and recommendations on how to stop the killings and get out of this mess.

Some people have mooted ideas for a transitional government led by someone neutral that could help the country wade through the myriad of crises it is facing.  First, what do you think of the idea and secondly were this to happen and you were asked to preside over a transition, is this something you could consider?

With each passing day, as these multiple — Anglophone, political, and security — crises we just discussed  endure, my faith in this government’s ability to resolve all of them diminishes. At the same time, the current constitution of the country doesn’t allow for a transitional government as you allude to, and so I do not see how this could come about.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

What lessons will a future Cameroon and the rest of Africa learn from this crisis?

Many. For example, that a people would rise up if their dignity is trampled upon; that truth, honesty and other democratic values matter for people’s trust in their government; that preventive diplomacy would save us and our continent a waste of human capital and human resources; and that it is incumbent on our generation to shape and give meaning to institutions that should improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.

So, what’s ahead for you and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) over the next year?

In the coming year we will be paying very close attention to the transition process in Sudan, as well as political developments across the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. We will also be paying close attention to upcoming competitive elections in countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and Niger Republic. The beauty of this all is the partnerships that NDI has with civic and political organizations across the board in all of the countries in which we work. They are the true champions of democratic development in their respective countries, and our role is to give them the support and solidarity that they need to succeed.

* Full Interview Will feature in September Issue of Pan African Visions Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Nigeria has become another theater to be fought over -Prof Bolaji Akinyemi
August 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

Says:

 ‘There are two files in the British secret archives affecting Nigeria

*Government does not do what is right unless it is pushed

20 thousand people can paralyze the work of the national Assembly

* Those afraid are those benefiting from the overwhelming power attached to the centre

* There is need to criminalize acts that demonized any religion in the country

 Nigeria has become another theater to be fought over 

By Olumide Samuel

 

Prof Bolaji Akinyemi

Prof Bolaji Akinyemi

Professor Akinwande Bolaji Akinyemi’s involvement in Nigeria’s statecraft spans over 43 years. The former Minister of External Affairs in a chat with newsmen, maintained issues he believes are affecting the Nation which he said is in the British secret archive in two files re-embargoed by the British government for another 50 years and other issues that resulted to religious and ethnic intolerance, Youths unemployment, banditry, kidnapping, killings among others. Excerpts:

What in your estimation is state of insecurity in Nigeria?

There is very little I can add to what everyone has been saying. The likes of Sheikh Gunmi, the Sultan, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Baba Ayo Adebanjo and General Obasanjo (Rtd), even the President himself and the governors. I can’t add to their list of dissatisfaction on the state of the nation. So insecurity, Youths unemployment, hate and unguarded speech by people who should know better. 

What now looks like religious conflicts, when I was growing up, there was religious tolerance. At least I come from a culture where you could hardly have a family that does not have Christians, Muslims and Traditional worshipers among them and they coexist happily. All of a sudden to be confronted  by intolerance, murder, mayhem targeting people of other religion. I find it very very disturbing indeed. My grandfather once told me a story to illustrate the tolerance towards various religious groups in ancient times. He said an Oba of a neighbouring town sent a delegation to the Oba of our town, asked the Oba of our town to send a delegation to join them in a celebration. So the Oba of our town then asked the delegation what they wanted celebrate, and they said they want to welcome one of theirs whom had gone on a pilgrimage. So the Oba of our town sent a delegation to rejoice with them and take part in their celebration. When the delegation came back and they briefed our Oba the story of the celebration. He called a meeting of the heads of the quarters in the town and to them, that the other town now has an Alhaji, while our town don’t. What he did was to levy every quarters, every religious institutions in the town including Anglican, Methodist and Aladura. So that we can send somebody from our town to Mecca the following year and we also can claim we have an Alhaji. And that was what happened. How did we come to a situation where even among Yoruba we are starting to talk about religious intolerance? You have governors in the South-west who for political reasons are exhibiting religious intolerance not to talk about the whole country. It’s very disturbing and very unnerving. 

But some are of the view that religious intolerance had been before independence….

We had four sources through which religion penetrated into Nigeria before the Europeans came. The first was through traders from Mali. Then, we had Islamic religion that came through Turkey to the Southern part of Nigeria. That’s why you have titles like Shita Bay in Lagos and then you also have Christian missionary who came into the Southern part of Nigeria. The last was the Jihad which came from the Futa Jalon that led to the establishment of the Sokoto caliphate. However, the penetration of Islam from Mali, Turkey and the Christian missionaries were peaceful but the Jihad was not. So that was where problems of intolerance started. The moment you decide to establish a religion by force then you talk about intolerance. Intolerance was evident when the British came but they were able to sustained it but it has never left. It’s just that organization and movements respond to external factors. For instance; what is going on in other part of the world in term of conflicts: ISIS, the Taliban ,the problem between the Shiites and the Sunnis Muslim. All these are world phenomenon and Nigeria is not immune to these phenomenal. Nigeria has just become another  Futa Jalon.  be fought over by all these phenomenon. 

The Northern Christian Elders Forum recently argued that the nation’s democracy battles with Islamism as a form of government, what your thought on this?

They made a good point and I think we shouldn’t loose sight of that point. And that is the point I also try to make. They said the problem is not with Islam as a religion, this is what I meant when I said we had Islam from Mali, from Turkey there was no problem. They said the problem started when those advocating that Islam should not be more than a religion but a political religion. It meant that you put your religion in competition with other religions. There is a problem with Islamic Jihad and Christianity. The Jihad embodies competition, conflicts, imposition and violence. The way forward is to separate Islam as religion from Islam as a political weapon.

So how do we separate Islam as a religion while some forces within the system are using it as political weapon?

Laws should be enforced to protect each religion from intolerant acts by another religion. We all have to be accept that Nigeria is a multi religious nation. Both Muslims and Christians have a right to exist in Nigeria. And to also there is need to criminalised speeches and acts that demonized any religion in the country.

What is your thought on ‘REVOLUTION’ that have been misconstrued by some quarters? 

The Constitution provide as a right for peaceful protest. The moment you go beyond the margin of a peaceful protest, then you are asking for a push-back by the institutions of governance. You could see it in Hong Kong, when the protest by the activists are peaceful, the push-back by the police is peaceful. When the the protest by the activists crossed the red line into violence, then the push-back by the police is violent. People who are dissatisfied with the way things are in Nigeria are entitle to a peaceful advocacy. What they are not entitled to is violent advocacy because the push-back from the system is then likely to be violent.

But we observed the push by DSS even before the protest commenced ….

Peaceful protest is a right and entitlement by people who are dissatisfied with what is happening. What is not an entitlement is violent protest. Whether that violent is by language or activities. Language could be violent. If I am planning a Revolution, I will not go on the pages of News paper or radio to argue and advocate for a Revolution. I will plan under ground. That is the way you do it if you are planning a Revolution. You do it underground, hold secret meetings because the moment you broadcast that you are planning a revolution, the push-back by the system is also likely to be revolutionary in terms of being violent and that what you got in this case you’re referring to. However, to have progress in any country, it is either the government itself takes care of the interest of the people or there would always be elements within the country that would always fight for the people. Anthropologist will tell you that that is how progress comes about. Progress doesn’t come from people laying back hoping that government would do something that is right. Yes, there may be times when government do what is right but most often than not, government does not do what is right unless it is pushed. Look at the United States, in the 60s. How many times did Martin Luther King go to jail? he kept protesting and kept pricking the conscience of the American people until it became a movement for change that could not be ignored by the government. But they paid dearly. He was eventually assassinated. I was in the United States at that time, the brutality of the police towards civil rights activists was severe, they killed a lots of them. Secondly, look at what is happening globally on the environment, demonstration are being held, things are being paralyze because people feel they are fighting for the future of the planet. There are government who are in self denial about environmental degradation in the world. So there are demonstration going on and people haven’t gone to sleep. If there is dissatisfaction with what is going on in Nigeria, expect the youth to rise up and say this is our future we are fighting for. Because unless things change, Nigeria is in trouble. The economy is not growing, Youths unemployment have been described as a time bomb. Elections were rigged mercilessly. Elections have always been rigged in Nigeria, but I don’t even see a mass movements for electoral change . I served on Justice Muhammed Uwias committee for electoral reform, we wrote a report that we felt addressed the issue but that report was buried by the government of the day. No reaction but the law of karma had actually set in that the government of the day is now the opposition, they’re now screaming their head of about how elections were rigged. When we submitted the report to them, they did nothing about it. Now they are screaming.

Former Governor of old Kaduna state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa once referred to the calling for restructuring as a Separatists agenda, what is your thought on this?

I am always scared to react to statement by people because sometimes you always confer too much weights on what is been said especially when it doesn’t make sense. How can the call for restructuring be equated to separatism? People who are calling for restructuring say look at the the Constitution at Independence or if you like look at the Constitution of 1963 compare it the Constitution we have now and you will see that there is too much power vested in the centre and very little power at the State and local government level. It was not like this at independence, at the eve of the coup. It was the military that changed it. Now that the civilian are in charge let us go back to 1963 so that local government can manage affairs at the local government level, State government can manage affairs within the State environment and that the Federal government would then manage very limited issues like foreign affairs, defense among others. Bring out the 1963 Constitution, bring out the 1999 Constitution and look at the subject listed under State government and look at what is listed out for the Federal government, you will see, the blind will see the deaf will hear the difference. Let us go back to what functioned for Nigeria. That is all restructuring is all about. So what has it got to do with separatism? I was the deputy chairman of the national conference, all these issues came up with 600 recommendations. And each recommendation was adopted unanimously. The report is there, if you don’t like the report, set up a committee to take a look at all the reports on structural changes in the country that have been advocated and take the one addressing the problem of the day. I don’t see how that amount to separatism unless you want to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. In any case has the El-Rufai committee not also called for restructuring?

Who then is afraid of Restructuring?

I don’t know. Maybe Balarabe Musa. People who don’t like restructuring, are the people benefiting from the overwhelming power attached to the centre. 

What is your take on the call by Professor Wole Soyinka for State of emergency on security in South-west?

What would be achieved by the call because all the element on security are under the control of the Federal government . Without changing the Constitution, you cannot transfer some of those powers to the States. You cannot transfer by just declaring a state of security emergency. Declaring a state of emergency will not give governors power over the Nigerian army within the South-west region . Prof. Soyinka means well as himself is fed up with the state of insecurity. He’s angry about it and he came up with what he think is solution to it but if we think is not going to yield the desired result, let us think about other alternatives. 

Government does not do what is right unless it is pushed ,says Prof Akinyemi

Government does not do what is right unless it is pushed ,says Prof Akinyemi

How can Nigeria live in peace and unity?

The totality of what we desire is to allow local government to handle what should be handled at the local government level, State government to handle what needs to be handled at the State level. That’s the sum total of what will work. At the local government level they know the criminals among them. If there is synergy between the authorities at the local government and the local government police, if there is trust, people themselves will inform the local police where bad group hang out and the local police will investigate because they know the nooks and cranny of the village. But when the security in the village is depended on decisions taken in Abuja, it won’t work. Secondly, the decision that affect unemployment cannot be taken in Abuja for the whole country. Panadol doesn’t cure every headache. But, the State government has the power and the resources to fix the roads under there jurisdiction, that would provide employment if the state have control over whatever it is that is localized in there area, they can address a lot of these issues. Finally, policies that are then made by the local government or the State government cannot violet the custom and culture of that particular area . It cannot because they are aware of the peculiarity culture over land. I cannot go to my village and want to build on a plot of land. But if I come from an area where the policies are different. In other words, let the local government do what can efficiently be done by them rather than some colossus called federal government. Restructuring was advocated even when Obasanjo was President, it was advocated when Jonathan was President. After-all Jonathan was in power when the 2014 national Conference was flagged off and we created the blue print for decentralization of the country. All I am saying is not targeting Buhari but targeting a bad constitution which need to be rewritten.

But its the responsibility of the National Assembly to determine better constitution?

The National Assembly will not do it if the NGOs and civil society groups seat on their behind and not put pressure on the nation’s Assembly.

Is the 9th Assembly a rubber-stamp?

I don’t know if they are rubber-stamped or Guguru stamped or Epa stamped. All I am saying is it has to be a synergy between the people. It’s easy to blame the the government but what are the NGOs and the civil society organisations doing? There are so many case that should go to court. You know the Court can amend the constitution through interpretation. But if you don’t take a case to court, how can the court help to amend the constitution. If cases are not taken to court? Unfortunately civil society organisations, NGOs are busy fighting other big battles maybe because where they get their money from they have their own agenda different from the agenda at home. How will the national assembly feel the heat from the people if there are no demonstration. When I say demonstration, I don’t mean a one million match. 20 thousand people can paralyse the work of the national Assembly. Demonstrations everyday with focus on what they want. When the National Assembly feels the heat, they will start to respond but if they don’t feel the heat from the people, they feel the people are not ready for change. But in fairness there have been silent changes in the nation’s Asssembly from 1979 up till now. Not enough changes but they have amended the constitution not enough but they have made changes.

What is your thought on the issue of presidential zoning ?

That is not the major problem facing Nigeria. There are many more critical issues affecting the existence of Nigeria than talking about zoning ahead of 2023.

What is more existential in Nigeria than the controversial Presidential zoning ahead of 2023?

We have the issue of Ruga. We have youth unemployment. We have the issue of an over burdened federal government as against decentralization we have been talking about. We have the issue of State police, local government police, are these not issues that have an immediate impact on the existence of Nigeria? After all from 1979 up till now, we have rotated offices, what good has it done this generation in providing employment for the youths? What good has it done the standard of education in our universities? It hasn’t raise the status of our universities to being among the first 100 in the world. Instead we clap for being among 20 in Africa. In the 60s, I grew up at a time when Nigerian university is rated among the best in the world. We keep going down. There was a time a coup took place and they announced that one of the reasons was because our University teaching hospitals are mere consulting clinics, has it gotten any better since then? And we are talking about zoning presidency. Please!

How did we get here ?

We got here because we have never been allowed to have free, fair and transparent election in Nigeria. Even the British rigged elections in Nigeria. I was reading how the British rigged election in Nigeria. There are two Nigerian files in the British secret archives affecting Nigeria history. These files are suppose to have been declassified so scholars could have access to it. The British two years ago re-embargoed it for another 50 years. What is in those two files that the British don’t want us to know? What exactly are there? They want this present generation to die off before the declassify those files. We have never been allowed to choose our leaders, maybe that’s how we got to where we are. Because they are going to rig elections, do programmes matter, do party manifestos matter, even if they allow you to vote, they won’t count your vote. This means you cannot pick your leader and you cannot punish leader who don’t deliver, you can not show preference of leaders with better appreciation of the problems and you cannot change leaders when they are failures. That how we got to where we are.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

It maybe the light of the train that is going to crush all of us. But I don’t see any light at the end of any tunnel. I don’t even see the end of the tunnel not to talk about seeing a light.

Do you agree with Prof. Soyinka that Nigeria is heading toward extinction?

It heading that way but It doesn’t mean it will get there because of that indomitable spirit in people to fight back. Maybe when we actually see the edge, all of us would say no, we are not going to allow this. Never give up hope. Keep hope alive. Human history is not made by people giving up hope. It has never been and it will never be. We just haven’t got to our own stage of fighting back. We will get there. We will eventually fight back.

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Cameroon: Serious Fair Trial Violations In Such A Rushed Process- ICC’s Charles Taku on Life Sentence for Ayuk Tabe & Others
August 21, 2019 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue, says Chief Taku

 

Chief Charles Taku, immediate past President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA, says the trial and life sentence slammed on Julius Ayuk Tabe and others does little to foster the peaceful settlement of the current dispute as articulated by the international community. In an interview with Pan African Visions, the legal luminary says there were serious fair trial violations in the rushed process that culminated in the sentence for Ayuk and others arrested in Nigeria and brought to Cameroon .

To Chief Taku, the prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives

“International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes;” Chief Taku said in warning to those excelling in gross human rights abuses.  

Chief Taku, what is your reaction to the jail sentences to Julius Ayuk Tabe and his co-detainees abducted from Nigeria?

The trial and its outcome do not advance the objectives of a peaceful settlement of the dispute favoured by the International Community.

From what you have learned, on what grounds did the court based its arguments in giving its verdict?

The information that I have about the judgment is incomplete. However, I have learnt that the trial, conviction and judgment took place in one day, underscoring the fact that the trial might have been rushed. I cannot second guess the reasons for the rush to convict and sentence them to life imprisonment.  There must be serious fair trial violations in such a rushed process.

Is there any legal precedent for this kind of cases in Cameroon?

Precedents exist within the legal framework that existed in the past. Since the enactment of a new Criminal Procedure Code a few years back, it is no longer possible to conduct a trial of this magnitude in a single day, deliberate, convict and enter judgment.  Each process in a trial requires procedural fair trial imperatives that may give rise to interlocutory appeals. Without a copy of the judgment before me, I am unable to ascertain the fair trial hurdles the tribunal panel surmounted to attain this feat.

What options are available for Ayuk and others, could the judgement be appealed?

This is one case where the integrity of the trial will be tested on appeal.  Fair trials and the due process of the law has taken central stage in the international human rights regime.  This appellate outcome of this trial and judgment will surely define the extent to which Cameroun is compliant with international human rights treaty obligations.

Looking at the whole conduct of the case, what does this tell the world about justice in Cameroon?

The world will surely not make an informed determination about the quality of justice in Cameroon and Cameroon’s commitment to its international human rights multilateral treaty obligations based on an informed evaluation of this and other judgments.  What I am certain is that, international human rights bodies have expressed strong reservations about submitting civilians to court-martials and military justice.  This type of justice is unconstitutional even under the operating Cameroun’s constitutional arrangement.

Just a hypothetical question Chief Taku, if this case was on trial in the kind of common law system that Anglophones Cameroonians clamor for, how different would the process have been?

A fundamental attribute of justice is fundamental fairness.  Through fair trials, the standards and precedents for future trials are established, including trials in which the judges themselves may be defendants some time along the line. This is the threshold on which the common law system that Southern Cameroonians once upon a time enjoyed and are clamoring for.  To underscore the rationale for this quest for a credible system of justice where rule of law and fair trials are well-founded, permit me to quote the memorable submissions of the Hon. Justice Robert H. Jackson of Counsel for the United States before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg established to hold Nazi war criminals accountable for the crimes that shocked the conscience humanity on November 21, 1945, reminded the Military Tribunal and the world at large that: “Fairness is not a weakness but an attribute of our strength. We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice”

At a time when people are calling for dialogue, what impact do you think the sentencing of Ayuk, and others could have on the present crisis?

The trial, conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others may complicate the much sought after but so far elusive dialogue to examine the root causes of the crisis.  I strongly call for the vacation of these sentences and their release to facilitate the dialogue and the peace process.

Some people have mooted the idea of a Presidential pardon or the kind of amnesty that was granted to people like Issa Tchiroma, and others accused of plotting the 1984 coup d’état, do you see this as an option?

I cannot second-guess the political calculations of the government of Cameroon in pursuing this route when the international community is insistently calling for an all-inclusive dialogue with no preconditions to tackle the root causes of the conflict.  Most people believe that these sentences and others before and perhaps after, will not bring about an acceptable solution to the crisis that is claiming the lives and property of millions of civilians.  The sentences will complicate and aggravate the peace and security situation.  Will an amnesty or pardon attenuate the situation? I sincerely cannot tell.  What I believe is that a prompt vacation of the sentences no matter how, may be a palliative to calming the storm in attempts to averting an escalation in times when the mode of the international community is for a negotiated settlement.

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite , says Chief Taku

There has been near unanimity from all segments of the fractured leadership in condemning the verdict, could this move have the unwitting effect of uniting the various leadership factions of the Southern Cameroons struggle?

Indeed, there were clear indications that the various components of the leadership were pussyfooting towards some form of unity towards the prosecution of the struggle and the proposed peace process.  This move towards unity might have been fast tracked had some activists not kept the fuel of disunity, needless rancor and misdirected antagonism alive.  Activists have played a critical role in this struggle and may continue to do so. However, they must be alive to the fact that their intended audience is more sophisticated that some of them can image.  They must finetune their language of delivery of their ideas or commentary to meet acceptable degrees of decency, respect and humility.  The prompt condemnation of the sentences is a clear indication that the leadership of the struggle will unite no matter what to confront this and other challenges on the way towards attaining their defined objectives.

And for all those perpetrating gross human rights abuses, could the ICC that you are part of hold them accountable someday?

I am just a lawyer at the international criminal court and other international criminal tribunals but I may venture to state that International justice may never entirely look  away from impunity and atrocity crimes.  

 

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The AFCFTA Will Have A Game Changing Impact On The Whole Continent-Dr. Joy Kategekwa Head, UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

“I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Dr Joy Kategekwa , Head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Regional Office for Africa in Addis Ababa .

Responding to questions from Pan African Visions on the AFCFTA, Dr Kategekwa says its impact on the continent could be profound.  Dr Kategekwa pointed to projections from the UNCTAD which indicated that should the  AfCFTA lead to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit.

“An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) taken a little over two years is demonstration of strong political will,” says Dr Kategekwa whose office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now set to go into effect after ratification by the requisite number of countries, what is your take on this?

My take is one of optimism – about the game changing impact of a whole continent that dismantles barriers to intra-African trade.  For way too long have analysts decried the low levels of intra-African trade.  These low levels are worrisome especially from the perspective of Africa losing out on the benefits of international trade changing ordinary lives through economic empowerment.  The AfCFTA promises to set in motion the application of a new body of law that will require States Parties to eliminate restrictions – laws, regulations, administrative processes, that discriminate against the products originating from other AfCFTA States Parties.  This will make African products more competitive in African markets – once the hoop of high tariffs has been jumped through the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA will also open markets for intra-African trade in services, a sector that plays a leading role in all African economies – evidenced in gross domestic product contributions, as well as the growing amount of services exports from Africa.

The AfCFTA has teeth – a regime on dispute resolution – which will strengthen trade governance and accountability in Africa.    The AfCFTA will be overseen by a secretariat dedicated to it, which should help keep an eye on effective implementation.

More so, the AfCFTA is not only about goods and services.  It foresees a second phase of negotiations to tackle regulatory barriers that are key determinants to how markets can effectively function. These include competition, investment and intellectual property rights.  The sum total is a scope that is comprehensive and suitable to the quest for boosting intra-African trade and strengthening African integration.

Overall, I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With the ratification, what next, and in concrete terms, what is expected to change for Trade in the continent with the AFCFTA?

What next is that countries will complete the unfinished business of market access negotiations on trade in goods and services according to the agreed AfCFTA negotiating modalities in order to come up with each country’s respective schedule of tariff concessions and specific commitments on trade in services.  Such schedules of commitments, as well as finalization of the rules of origin, are indispensable for operationalizing trade liberalization processes under the AfCFTA.

In terms of what is expected to change for trade in Africa, once AfCFTA liberalization has become operational, it is a matter of volumes, value, and diversity in the export basket – which translate into diversity in production.

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area of our time.  It brings together 55 African countries with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.4 trillion. It is expected that the AfCFTA will increase intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers.   These numbers are results of simulations by senior experts at the United Nations – both at UNCTAD and at the UN Regional Economic Commission for Africa.  At UNCTAD, we have estimated that if the AfCFTA leads to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit.[1]  This is the scenario for goods trade.

But as we know – the level of trade in services in Africa is growing. According to UNCTADstat, Africa’s services exports grew by up to 14% in 2017, with figures ranging from South Africa’s almost 16 billion US dollars to Lesotho’s 2 million US dollars. The services sector plays a critical role in strengthening the continent’s leapfrogging potential to attain the objectives of structural transformation.  Services sector growth is inescapable in raising productivity and value addition in agriculture (a mainstay of the African economy) and industry.  A trade agreement that creates new opportunities by removing discriminatory regulations and operational conditions for market access is an urgent intervention that will set the continent on a better path to diversification and sustainable development.

What this translates to – is bigger volumes of trade – a first generation spill over of reduced tariffs/discriminatory regulations.

But there is also the value proposition.  Colleagues at the UNECA have consistently tracked the level of intra-African trade.  In the period prior to 2012 (when African presidents took the decision to fast track the continental free trade area and adopted the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade); numbers floated at about 10-12 percent.  In more recent studies, they range from about 16 (UNECA) even going up to about 18% (UNCTAD).  And so, there is already an important improvement – on which the AfCFTA is expected to at least double.  In this trade is an even more interesting trend.  That in these higher levels of intra-African trade, the largest composition therein is of trade in manufactures – going as high as 46% (UNECA).  This tells us two important points:  One that intra-African trade is already happening at encouraging levels (vis a vis the base period of 2012) and two: that within intra-African trade is the first evidence of Africa’s diversification.  Evidence of breaking away from the age-old pattern of low value, low volume products – mostly agricultural commodities of little, if any, value addition – as the proposition that Africa consistently brings to the global stage.  This is very important, because a 46% intra-African trade in manufactures tells us that manufacturing is happening (albeit at the lower end); and that the promise of the AfCFTA can be a reality – if there is attendant investment in the enabling environment side of issues.  Further, UNCTAD has indicated that intra-African trade has a higher technological content than extra-African trade. The share of products traded among African countries with medium and high technological content is about 27% as compared to a share of 15% for Africa’s exports to the rest of the world.

Finally, there is a question of a diversified intra-African trade export basket – with the inclusion of services – which can only strengthen Africa’s economy, and in that, its women, men, youth, SMEs, etc.

Building on advances in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – the AfCFTA will deepen economic integration in Africa, creating a deeper integrated African market.  This is particularly important when we bear in mind the fact that much of the existing intra-African trade takes place within these RECs.  A new legal order that locks this in, not only vis a vis regional groupings but between and amongst them, is exactly where the first dividends of the AfCFTA may be visible – in creating opportunities for countries in Africa that currently do not have any arrangements, outside of the multilateral framework, to grant each other preferential tariff and regulatory treatment for goods and services.

Dr Kategewa believes that the level o commitment from African leaders has so far been strong

Dr Kategewa believes that the level o commitment from African leaders has so far been strong

Countries of the continent are in all shapes and sizes from population, to economic potential, infrastructure development, and so on, what mechanisms does the Agreement have to ensure a level playing field for all countries?

The AfCFTA is designed in what we, at UNCTAD and within the UN system – call “developmental regionalism”.  Simplified – it is an approach to designing regional trade integration agreements in a manner that meets the twin objective of opening markets while ensuring industrialization, more jobs, incomes and the attainment of sustainable development.  In a continent of Africa’s realities, there is no shortcut to adapting what is known as global good practices to a workable outcome in context.  And so, in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Services for example, the calculus was less about how to liberalize trade in services for the sake of opening markets alone, but more about creating a pro-development loop in which the opening of services sectors was done in a manner that would provide real valuable and utilizable opportunities to SMEs, women and youth.  It was about allowing countries to exercise their right to regulate and introduce new regulations (a right that often deals with seemingly conflicting objectives such as business opportunities on the one hand and consumer protection on the other).  It was about a choice of initial priority sectors that can unlock bottlenecks related to connectivity and infrastructure readiness – so that the nexus between agriculture and industry can be fully harnessed.  And yet it is also about allowing AfCFTA states parties to pace their contributions; within those selected sectors – to determine how, when and on what conditions, such access is granted.  It is about creating a one Africa by seeking to frontload some of the political momentum around mobility for Africans within Africa – it being well understood that there is no regional integration without effective free movement of Africans – traders, investors, service suppliers, industrialists.

Similarly in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods, it was about shooting for as high an ambition of liberalization  as possible (90% in this case) – going zero for zero as soon as possible from the start of implementation such as in 5 years while accepting that there are sensitive sectors in which certain countries/regions require flexibility (allowing them to phase in their commitments slower).  The so-called sensitive products – will have a slower pace of liberalization (or a longer transition period).  The additional category of “the exclusion list products” (3% of tariff lines) is one in which countries cannot accept to liberalize at this stage.

Also within the Agreements consisting of the overarching umbrella treaty, the protocol on trade in goods and the Protocol on trade in services – is a variation of special and differential treatment – ranging from longer transition periods, provisions for capacity development for the least developed among the states parties, provisions leaving room for African governments to support industrial development (part of the rationale for the sensitive and excluded products list).

This menu of options is the AfCFTA’s approach to meeting each country, or group thereof, where it is –in terms of its development concerns.  Naturally, the benefits of this approach, itself not novel in trade agreements that respond to development challenges, will go to those countries that get themselves ready –  utilizing the space granted to create and strengthen productive capacities for utilization.

For the trade professional that you are, how much of a game changer could this be for the continent?

This is a dream come true for all trade and development professionals.  Having spent all of my career seeking trade deals for Africa, supporting Africa to shape strategies and policies for utilization and building capacities for knowledge and sector development – I am honored to have been part of the process of shaping the AfCFTA.  For us as African professionals in trade, it is greatly symbolic to see that Africa has attained that which continues to elude the world: a large scale trade agreement that aims for deep liberalization – one which will call for important domestic reforms. One which will have costs in transition and implementation – yet one which enjoys the highest level political support across Africa.  Its’ timeframe for entry into force is, arguably a world record, judged by the pace of ratifications, for an agreement of this scale.  This speaks to Africa’s determination to get the promise of trade for its people.

It could be the start of creation of industries of all sizes, a rising and conscious African market that gets confidence in continental products and one that gets an empowered and independent path to development.  The benefits will out pass economic gain.  We are on the edge of a social and cultural transformation that will promote brands such as make in Africa (for investment attraction); made in Africa (for origin qualification) pride in African products; and ultimately, what, in the words of the AU’s own development blueprint, is aptly termed: “The Africa We Want”.  A final point on my assessment as a professional in the field is that implementing the AfCFTA will create a new market for African Think Tanks – to support evidence-based policies and strategies for implementation.  It will create a new generation of African trade law specialists – who can support treaty implementation proper as well as the resolution of disputes.  Linked to the latter is the need for a crop of jurists who will need to support the resolution process.  It will have also created and strengthened the cadre of trade negotiators, skilled in the arcane field of negotiating tariffs, non-tariff measures and trade regulations, and being prepared for continued negotiations in the continent or outside in the international trade arena.  Finally on the knowledge point, there will be need for more teachers to share knowledge in our institutions on the opportunities created in the AfCFTA and raise awareness.  Curriculum development, training and capacity building on trade law, economics and development is now to be a hot career choice for professionals in Africa.  This makes me particularly proud to see.

We noticed that there are a still a number of countries notable Nigeria that have not yet signed it, considered that this is the economic powerhouse of Africa, how does the absence of Nigeria impact the enforcement and effectiveness of the agreement?

Nigeria is yet to sign onto the AfCFTA and deposit its instrument of ratification.  For reasons of effectiveness, it is desirable that Nigeria joins the AfCFTA – still hopefully as a Founding Member, not least because it is the economic powerhouse in Africa.   This would allow it to take advantage of the large opportunities to be created, yet also provide a market for African exports.   The domestic consultations, we are informed, are ongoing and there have been pronouncements, including at the highest level, of support for the AfCFTA.  After 16 years in the business of trade negotiations, I am more convinced than ever – that strong preparatory work determines a steady and effective path to implementation.   In this line of argumentation, the delay of Nigeria, if hinged on getting the domestic consultations finalized as well as the reform agenda needed to faithfully implement the Agreement, is positive.  It is true though that there has to be a price for accession – which will be difficult to avoid when countries are not ‘Founding Members”.  Like others, the call from UNCTAD, is for all African countries to take the opportunity of the AfCFTA by joining – and use all of the available tools to support implementation.

There has been no shortage of lofty agreements in Africa, but a missing ingredient has been the political will, how committed do you think African countries are to the effective implementation of the AFCFTA?

An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) – taken a little over two years – is demonstration of strong political will. The fact that the approaches adopted for the design of the AfCFTA relied heavily on REC developments and dynamics is a vote of confidence (read political will) in integration in Africa.  The pace at which ratifications have trickled in – is also unprecedented. Moreover, an extraordinary Summit of African Union Heads of States and Governments is scheduled for July 2019 to officially launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA with key support initiatives to be unveiled during the event.

The commitment of African leaders – from the top through to technocrats that shape the day to day work on the AfCFTA, is strong.  Business and Civil Society have also been engaged.  Across the board, you do get a sense of a great dose of political will – which will be central to ensuring that needed reforms are prioritized at country and regional level – for effective implementation.

Dr Kategewa says the level of trade in services in Africa is growing

Dr Kategewa says the level of trade in services in Africa is growing

Still on the level of implementation, let’s take the example of Rwanda where its border with Uganda has been shut with unfortunate economic consequences for months now, how could situations like this impact the implementation of the AFCFTA?

The AfCFTA will create the needed momentum to remove obstacles to trade across Africa.  At the forthcoming AU Summit, the AU will launch an Online Platform to report non-tariff barriers in the AfCFTA, that it has developed with the support of UNCTAD.  This will allow private sector and policy makers to identify and resolve such barriers in the implementation structures of the AfCFTA. The online tool will be accompanied by national institutions that would be geared to address the complaints raised and remove them, so trade is not unnecessarily hinder or obstructed by non-tariff barriers.

What impact do you think the agreement could have on trade with countries like China, Europe, the USA and other foreign countries seeking to bolster trade ties with Africa?

The purpose of the AfCFTA is to increase intra-African trade. New opportunities in intra-African trade will do for Africa what closer regional integration did for Europe and other large powers.  African producers will establish channels of production to utilize these opportunities.  These products will be of higher value, more diversified and in bigger volumes.  Naturally, the focus on intra-African trade may be seen as an inward strategy.  But the fundamentals of this being the approach that will support industrial development and structural transformation, are solid.

The AfCFTA gives countries like China, Europe, the US what they have asked for a while – clear, rules based environments of policy and legal predictability in Africa.  Their support will be important in getting the capacity development agenda off the ground – to build productive capacity for intra-African trade in Africa. It is important to note though, that it is not only countries but also global firms, that could be attracted to Africa.

Africa will be better positioned to engage with “third countries” – thanks to the AfCFTA – whose rules have particular provisions on how to manage such relations.    In the case of the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO, it is unquestionable that all of the important successes that have been registered for Africa within the work of the WTO have been achieved thanks to a united Africa – the so called WTO Africa Group.  The AfCFTA stands to build on that progress by creating clarity to the African position on complex issues across trade and development.  And this is important especially because much of the engagement of Africa in the MTS has been positioned around the call for flexibility, special and differential treatment.  In the period of WTO reform, having a unified African position on tariffs and industry, on services regulation, on non-tariff barriers – (the core of trade policy etc.) will allow for the articulation of a stronger voice from Africa to the world.  This will play a positive role in the beneficial integration of Africa into the multilateral trading system.

There seems to be a lot of optimism about the AFCTA, at what point should everyday ordinary Africans expect to feel its impact in their lives?

The Agreement has entered into force and in the coming weeks, the African Union Heads of State will launch its operational phase.  Ordinary Africans should not wait to feel the impact on their lines – rather, they should create this impact– by engaging in production for export.  Once the tariff books (or services sectoral regulations) are changed to reflect AfCFTA preferential treatment for its states parties – it will be visible.  And yet it can only be visible for those who are ready to utilize.  So, there will be no manna from heaven.  For those that engage in production or have services to export, the treatment received thanks to the AfCFTA – will be the occasion to feel the impact.  And one can imagine that such an impact would cascade down to communities, families, people – improving their lives with the dividend of new markets.

There will be revenue losses from implementing the AfCFTA.  These, according to UNCTAD studies, will be in the short term.  However, the long-term gains outweigh the losses. Moreover, there are in-built flexibilities to deal with tariff revenue and welfare losses. Some of these include compensatory measures, flanking policies and adjustment measures.[2] It is also worth recalling that the loss of revenue and its magnitude would need to be calibrated to the reality of the still low levels of intra-Africa trade.

Is there any role your agency played in the build up to the treaty or a support role that you will be playing in its implementation?

UNCTAD’s relationship of support for trade capacity development predates the AfCFTA.  We have been involved, from the times of translating the political decision into modalities for negotiations.  We have provided technical studies and options for negotiations, working with the technical teams in the AU to prepare data, analysis and propose options for outcomes that support developmental regionalism.  The Secretary General of UNCTAD took a decision to establish the UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa – which I have the privilege to head.  The Office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA –bringing some of the world’s best minds on various complex trade topics, from headquarters, to advise the AUC Department on Trade and Industry – and to be available in negotiating institutions to provide study findings, data and analysis and overall technical support to AU Members.  The AU designated UNCTAD a Technical Partner to the negotiations – and this has allowed for a seamless flow of support – much to the appreciation of African Union Member States – who are on record in awarding UNCTAD a certificate of appreciation for the technical support in the AfCFTA negotiations.

As we move to Niamey, the Secretary General of UNCTAD and the President of Niger are poised to launch the continental non-tariff barrier reporting and eliminating online mechanism before Heads of State.  For as any trade negotiations professional will tell you – there is one thing that is for sure – as tariffs go down, non-tariff barriers rise…

Looking ahead towards implementation, UNCTAD as the lead agency within the United Nations supporting countries in developing policies for trade-led growth, will continue to support the African Union Commission, and the institutional structures in place for implementation.  UNCTAD’s Divisions – all of which have played a key role in supporting the negotiations – in particular the Division on Trade in Goods and Commodities, the Investment Division, the Statistics Branch, and the Africa and Least Developed Countries Division – will continue to support implementation – particularly as we get not only into phase II of the negotiations on which we are already working with the AU – but also as we shift focus to the pressing question of building productive capacities…In a sense therefore, we are very much at the early stages of a long road ahead…

[1] The African Continental Free Trade Area: The day after the Kigali Summit. UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 67 of May 2018

[2] The African Continental Free Trade Area: The day after the Kigali Summit. UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 67 of May 2018

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In AGOA Forum Cote d’Ivoire Seeks To Cement Role As Regional Economic Hub
June 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Cote d'Ivoire has experienced tremendous progress in the last ten years says Ambassador Haidara Mamadou. Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

Cote d’Ivoire has experienced tremendous progress in the last ten years says Ambassador Haidara Mamadou. Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

Delegates and visitors to Cote d’Ivoire for the AGOA Forum will be pleasantly surprised at the progress his country has made under President Ouattara says Ambassador Haidara Mamadou. Speaking in an interview with Pan African Visions, the Ivorian Ambassador to Washington DC said there was a general air of excitement and positive energy in his country in the build up to the AGOA Forum coming up soon.

In addition to the vast tourism potentials of his country, Ambassador Haidara touted the enormous opportunities opened to investors. Located at the heart of West Africa, with easy access to neighboring countries, Ambassador Haidara said, the positive economic indicators, infrastructure, enormous potentials are an open invitation for investors to consider Cote d’Ivoire as a priority destination.

 Pan African Visions: Ambassador Haidara Mamadou good afternoon sir and thank you for receiving us at the Ivory Coast Embassy.

Ambassador Haidara: Good afternoon and you are welcome.

Pan African Visions: First, we would like to start by getting the developments in your country, Cote d’Ivoire. How is the country doing economically, politically and socially?

Ambassador Haidara: I will say the country is doing well. Economically, you know the president elected in 2010, has instituted an economic policy that is working well. Since then we have been experiencing growth and this is an indicator of the country. If we want to appreciate the economy, we have to take the growth rate which  is around 8 or 9 per cent. One can say growth rate is in the average of 7 per cent per year for the past eight years. It is a tremendous achievement for the country because we are in the top five of growth rate worldwide. This has been consistent and stable.

Socially, the President has put a lot in improving our social environment as more than one hundred schools have been built, 200 high schools built by the state, infrastructure, healthcare has been taken care of, roads and port development has all been taken care of under this new economic era. This is why some people are trying to tag it as the second miracle of Ivory Coast. The government is also taking care of some disparities, cost of living. From this indicator of growth, we did not experience any inflation; the rate of inflation in Cote d’Ivoire has been around 1 per cent per year. This means that we are handling the pricing and the cost of living well, and it has been stable, and affordable for people.

Politically I think the different political parties are doing their own businesses. I think there is a long way to go with reconciliation, but we are very optimistic about the direction of the country.

 Cote d'Ivoire  has undergone an economic miracle under President Ouattara, says Ambassador Haidara pictured here with Ajong Mbapndah L of PAV. Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

Cote d’Ivoire has undergone an economic miracle under President Ouattara, says Ambassador Haidara pictured here with Ajong Mbapndah L of PAV. Photo Ben Bangoura AlloAfrica News

Pan African Visions: Currently, the country is led by Alassane Ouattara, how has he fared as president; if you were to cite some of the achievements he has recorded, what will some of them be?

Ambassador Haidara: I think there are a lot of achievements that one can talk about. In terms of infrastructure, I can say Cote d’Ivoire is one of the most powerful energy producers of the continent, and we are efficient in energy in terms of power. We supply energy to Ghana, Togo, Mali, Nigeria and we are helping these surrounding countries with our surplus. This is one of the biggest achievements.

For roads, we have been putting almost 600 km in terms of new paved roads, 2000 roads have been rehabilitated and this programme is going on and people are surprised how the infrastructure network has been developed.

Investment has been done in the domain of education. Each major district of Ivory Coast now has a state university. From 5 state universities we are now heading to 10 state universities. It is a big achievement. Also in terms of health, each major district also has a major health infrastructure. These, and many others are some of the big achievements of the country with the president.

U.S presidential Adviser Ivanka Trump (R) unveiled financial aid for woman cocoa farmers ahead of a recent West African summit on women entrepreneurs in Ivory Coast. AFP ISSOUF SANOGO

U.S presidential Adviser Ivanka Trump (R) unveiled financial aid for woman cocoa farmers ahead of a recent West African summit on women entrepreneurs in Ivory Coast. AFP ISSOUF SANOGO

Pan African Visions: You have been Ambassador to Washington for a while now, how will you describe the state of relations between Ivory Coast and United States?

Ambassador Haidara: Not for a while, I was appointed in March 2018 for almost one year now. From that point to now, I can say we have been experiencing a very good bilateral relationship. First of all, we began by signing an MoU with the U.S. Under this MoU, Ivory Coast has put on the table of U.S investors a four billion dollars project that the U.S investors are very excited about this offer and they are doing their best to take advantage of this offer. It was signed by our Minister of foreign affairs and secretary of commerce of the USA in December 2018. We have been beneficiary of the MCC; almost 524.7 million dollars have been granted to Ivory Coast to recognize its big political, social and economic achievements. MCC is not granted but come like an award to recognize your achievement.

We have also a good political relationship with the U.S. we are working together on the Security council; as we are one of the non-permanent members of the security council. We are very happy about the state of our relationship with the U.S.

Pan African Visions: As you rightly pointed out, the AGOA forum is coming up in Ivory Coast. What does this event mean for your country and how is Ivory Coast preparing for the forum?

Ambassador Haidara: This event means a lot for our country because this is an opportunity for our country to introduce itself to the world. This is because in the AGOA forum you have many African countries coming to Ivory Coast, and you have the leading country in the world, USA also coming. Ivory Coast will highlight its achievements, and it is a also big opportunity for Ivory Coast to promote itself as a big destination for tourism, economy, social matters and others. We are going to take advantage of this to attract more visitors, tourists and investments.

Pan African Visions: Talking about preparations, what is the mood like in Ivory Coast? Are the people very excited about this and if you have to give a word to the people who will be coming to Ivory Coast for the first time, what should they expect?

Ambassador Haidara: They will be very surprised, and I cannot have enough words to talk about what have been done so far. I put some figures in terms of economic indicators. They will see for themselves what has been done in terms of infrastructure, social matters, and political matters. Being far from the country you can hear of different things but being on the ground is a different thing. I had a chance to talk to some investors and what I noticed is that all of them were surprised of what has been achieved. This is a country doing its way and Africa can be proud if you have good governance. It’s is a matter of leadership; responsibility and a lot will be done. This country has come a long way. 10 years ago, everything was almost lost. Coming from that point and what has been achieved in a short time, any African country would be proud of what has been done.

Ambassador Haidara presenting his credentials to President Donald Trump.Relations between Cote d'Ivoire and the US are in good shape.

Ambassador Haidara presenting his credentials to President Donald Trump.Relations between Cote d’Ivoire and the US are in good shape.

Pan African Visions: Let’s talk a little now about investment opportunities in your country. What are some of the exciting sectors that you think investors should take a look at?

Ambassador Haidara: Agriculture is very important. We are a big agribusiness country. We are a big producer and first producer of cocoa beans in the world and we produce almost four per cent of the world supply of cocoa beans. We produce around two million tons, while Ghana is produces one million tons. We are the first producer of the world in cash nuts. We produce more than 750 000 tons per year. 5 to 10 years ago, we were producing almost 100, 000 tons. There are opportunities for investors to come and take advantage of the availability of the processing of the products. In cocoa we are only processing 30 per cent of our output; we need to process more as there are rooms to improve the processing. In cashew, we are only processing 10 per cent of this output. There is room also in terms of investment. There are lots of things that can be done in Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast wants to be a major player in the world. We have a goal to become an emerging country by 2020 and we are one year from there now. The need for investment is huge and there is also room for investment in terms of infrastructure. Investors do not need to be afraid because our debt to growth ratio is one of the lowest in the continent. We are only 47 per cent of debt to GDP. That’s a very a good figure. In the U.S, they are more than a hundred per cent of debt to ratio.

Pan African Visions: When we talk about investment in Africa, there are a number of complaints we hear from investors. We hear about corruption, administrative bottleneck, insecurity, infrastructure problems and many others. So how is the investment climate like in Ivory Coast?

Ambassador Haidara: We have been tagged to be one of the top 10 reformers of investment climate for two or three previous years now. That’s a lot as work has been done to improve the investment climate. There is no perfect investment climate as you have to work and we are working on it. I think the investors are very comfortable with the investment climate. Good policies attract investors to come to your country and I think we have been lucky to have that.

Pan African Visions: Before Mr. Ouattara became president, he had this image of a good financial reformer with his background in the IMF, how much of credit does he get for the development that has taken place in Ivory Coast in the last ten years?

Ambassador Haidara: I have had a chance to be at the place he came from such as the IMF and the World Bank and they are very respectful of his achievements. I think there was a very big expectation for him to deliver and I think he did that and they way we have had investment opportunities and support from these institutions means a lot. Working with these institutions is an indicator that means you are running your country well. It is not like you have a good relationship or personal relationship with them but it is a matter of judgment of your economic health. That’s important and I think they (World Bank and IMF) are very proud of him and we too are proud of what he has been doing.

Pan African Visions:  Ambassador Haidara thank you very much and as we wrap up this interview, can you make a last speech to investors. Why should they pick Ivory Coast as their investment destination?

Ambassador Haidara: I think Ivory Coast is a hub; the investment climate is very good. The asset of Ivory is located in the regions and Ivory Coast belongs to an economic zone such as WAEMU, ECOWAS. In ECOWAS, Ivory Coast is a leading country in terms of economic structure. So it is easy to do business with Ivory Coast, and it is easy to move in and out to all the surrounding countries. It means you have access to other markets. From Ivory Coast you can have a 2-hour flight to Nigeria, 45 minutes to Ghana, 2 hours to Senegal and 1 hour to Mali. It is easy for investors to come to Ivory Coast and take advantage of the investment climate, take advantage of the good infrastructure, and the good living conditions. It is also an opportunity to expand your business from Ivory Coast to other countries; we are talking about more than 100 million inhabitants in the WAEMU, and 300 million for ECOWAS market. We want to invite the investors to come and see for themselves and especially during the AGOA forum.

Pan African Visions: Ambassador Haidara, thanks for granting this interview.

Ambassador Haidara: Thank you. Merci

*Interview Published in June Issue of PAV Magazine.

 

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Billions at Play: Centurion CEO Agrees Deal to Write New Book about Africa’s Oil and Gas
May 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

 

Billions at Play: Centurion CEO Agrees Deal to Write New Book about Africa’s Oil and Gas

NJ Ayuk

NJ Ayuk

The book, “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy”, will be packed with captivating, useful ideas, stories, examples and information that Africans can use to take command of their future

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 29, 2019/ — Centurion Law Group  Founder and CEO NJ Ayuk has been saying for years that Africa’s oil and gas resources can fuel socioeconomic revitalization throughout the continent. Now he’s writing a book that explains how it can be done.

The book, “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy”, which is slated for release in October 2019, will be packed with captivating, useful ideas, stories, examples and information that Africans can use to take command of their future, from new oil revenue management models, gas to power, to the deal-making techniques and behind the scene strategies that Ayuk has successfully employed with multinationals and African governments.

Additional topics covered in the book include the importance of including women in oil and gas leadership, monetizing petroleum resources, American investment in Africa oil and gas in the era of President Trump, local content,  addressing energy security concerns, new African gamechangers, and the value African countries achieve by participating in The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), among others.

“We’ve heard more than enough about the challenges facing Africa,” said Ayuk, who also is the co-author of Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity and Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber. “Instead of dwelling on our problems, we should be working together to reverse Africa’s Resource Curse. Don’t get me wrong, this book will not be an idealistic treatise for a better world. It will have more of a ‘stop complaining, get up and get to work’ kind of message—backed up with practical ideas for strategically harnessing Africa’s petroleum resources.”

Ayuk says that one of his main goals for writing the book is to inspire a healthy dialogue about the future of the African energy industry that is seeing new changes in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan, Algeria, Uganda, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, South Africa, Angola, Libya, Niger, Congo, Chad, Mauritania, Tanzania and many other new players. “I know there will be readers who disagree with my points, and I welcome that,” he said. “We can’t make meaningful, positive changes for everyday Africans until we start discussing a way forward. The more we advocate personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and an enabling environment for investment, Africa’s oil industry and African stand to benefit than relying on foreign aid and assistance.”

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May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Guineans are firmly opposed to moves by Presdent Conde to get a third term


By Ajong Mbapndah L

While he may not have officially made a statement on the third term project, that President Conde or anyone in his entourage should entertain such thoughts does profound damage to iconic portrait of a change agent that brought the current President of Guinea to power, says, Washington DC based journalist and Editor of AlloAfricaNews, Ben Bangoura .

Instead of the Mr. Conde changing the system, it is the system that has changed him, and if the President gets his way with the third term bid, the consequences could be tragic for Guinea, Ben Bangoura says. The expectations of Guinean people under his current tenure have not been met as the country remains amongst the poorest in the world, Bangoura continues.

The International community can be helpful by persuading Mr. Alpha Condé to avoid the third term agenda as this is neither in his personal interest nor in that of people of Guinea, Bangoura says.

President Alpha Condé is in his second and last term, according to Guinea’s constitution. How has he fared as President?


A pertinent question from a genuine journalist you have always been. Thanks again for reaching out. In a previous interview, I remember, we talked about a landmark election that culminated in Prof Alpha Condé, a self-declared reformer, clinching the presidency after a tumultuous transition. It was a moment of hope considered by many as the light at the end of the tunnel for Guinea, after decades of military rule which left the country in shambles.


He fought so much for democratic reforms, human rights and good governance in the country, has he lived up to the promises he made while in the opposition?


I doubt whether he succeeded or not. Key indicators are that he has not lived up to the promises he made while in the opposition. The expectations of Guinean people under his current tenure have not been met. Guinea is still one of the poorest countries in the world. The general population lacks clean water and has a little access to electricity, while the average citizen still lives below $1 a day. That is at odds with the country’s enormous resources. Guinea has the third largest bauxite reserves in the world among its natural wealth. The question is, who or how the local content fits into this? 


On political front, things are not going well either. Alpha Condé has tightened his control over all branches of the government. Meanwhile, the country has not conducted any successful elections in recent years. For instance, the term of the current National Assembly expired six months ago. Alpha Condé had to issue a presidential decree to keep it going. At the same time, local elections held in February 2018 were marred by violence and have yet to be settled across the country. The Guinean Constitution guarantees freedom of assembly, but it is currently restricted. The system of governance is highly corrupt, and the rule of law is not respected. And in an apparent attempt to divide and conquer, Alpha Condé, an ethnic malinké, initiated a dangerous policy. Under his regime, one must be an ethnic Soussou to be eligible for the post of Prime minister in Guinea. While the chairmanship of the National Assembly is exclusively reserved for a native of the Forest region, as peulh you belong to the opposition. What kind of policy is this in a country where people, regardless of their background, have generally been living in peace and harmony for centuries like a family? I prefer to see someone holding a high position in the  government because of his competence and not because of his ethnic identity. 

There are talks of the constitution being changed so that he can have another mandate, where is this coming from? is it feasible and is President Conde in support of this?

Well, Alpha Condé has not made any official declaration in that regard. However, it looks though he is heading in that direction. A source knowledgeable on the matter stated that a new constitution has been drafted with help of experts from foreign countries, including France. This source added that the bill effectively guarantees a third term bid for Alpha Condé and that it has a good chance to pass if introduced this year in the National Assembly controlled by the RPG-Arc-en ciel, a coalition of political parties that back President Condé. But this source conceded that its fate maybe uncertain if submitted to a national referendum. 

Where is this idea coming from? Of course, the idea is coming from Alpha Condé himself because of his increasing desire to remain in power until his death. He has a clan around him – arguing that he deserves an extended stay to finish his work as a “Dieu le Père”-. He currently has surrogates deployed in every region of the country, bribing local officials and community leaders to drum up  support behind the idea.

To boost his shaky international standing, President Condé has reportedly recruited some prominent French politicians and journalists to shepherd the campaign for a third term. Countries including China and Russia, which have substantial interests in mining sectors in Guinea, have signaled their willingness to back such a move. Alpha Condé has also assigned his Ambassador in Washington, Kerfalla Yansané, to negotiate for him an official visit in the United States that would include a White House photo op with president Trump to be used as a tool for propaganda. Well connected sources indicate that the Embassy of Guinea is currently seeking assistance from a Lobbying Firm in the nation’s capital to assist in the process. But the outcome is far from certain. 

Is third term doable? Maybe! Is it feasible? No! The current constitution of Guinea has two important provisions: Article 27 states that the president can only be elected to be president for a total of ten years. No more than that. The other one is article 154 which stipulates that if amendment were to occur, this should not undermine the standing of the latter. Knowing that they lack the constitutional avenue to proceed, President Condé and his cronies  have apparently settled on a brand new constitution.

With regards to the opposition parties and civil society groups that could fight such a move, how organized and how serious are they?

The opposition has responded with an outright rejection of any move to change or pass a new constitution. A significant number of civil society organizations are emerging under the umbrella of the FNDC (National Front for the Defense of the Constitution). In recent weeks, high profile community leaders, including the so called Kountigui of Basse Côte Elhadj Sèkhouna Soumah, a key ally of President Condé, have distanced themselves from it. The question now is whether the opposition has a clear strategy and a “war chest” to take on President Condé who is now very rich by all accounts. But I believe that the majority of Guinean people are opposed as well. They have witnessed democratic changes taking place in neighboring countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Gambia etc.., changes that resulted in a peaceful transfer of power from one government to another. They want to see such a positive change in Guinea in 2020 by electing a new head of state, no matter who that is, to ensure the continuation. They do not want to see another autocratic leader dying in power by not respecting the constitution, something that may yet trigger another painful period of transition. 


What is the position of the Army in this unfolding drama?

It is hard to say right now. But in a dramatic move earlier this year, Alpha Conde issued a decree on January 8, 2019, appointing 4 high-ranking officers in the Army as Ambassadors to Angola, Cuba, Guinea Bissau and Mali. In recent weeks, the president also appointed several other army officers to civilian positions within the administration. They were mainly assigned in the remote areas of the country. 
Analysts believe that this was done on purpose to weaken the army because these officers are known to be “very experienced” and may also “harbor interest” in staging a coup if the opportunity should arise. In my view, his actions in that regard amount to a preemptive strike. 
Prior to this bizarre decision late last year, President Conde removed Mr. Kelefa Sall, the presiding officer of the constitutional court, from his post. He was openly opposed to any modification of the constitution. Indeed in 2015, during the swearing in ceremony for his second and last term, which was attended by a dozen heads of state, including longtime dictators from Chad, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea, Sall suggested that Condé should avoid any attempt to change the constitution in order to remain in power. He was very upset about that. 

You are versed with developments in Africa. In Benin, it was chaotic and sham general elections. In Guinea, should President Conde succeed to change the constitution, what will this mean for democracy in west Africa and the rest of Africa broadly speaking?

It would be a devastating blow to Democracy for the region, particularly for Guinea. It would bring chaos in a country that is already on a political and an economic downward spiral. A third term would be a lack of vision, a leadership failure of historical proportions on the part of the 84-year-old Alpha Condé whom many had once referred to as “opposant historique.”

Remember, this is a guy who once billed himself as a ”reformer” and “unifier”. At one point, he said he was going to be the “Mandela of Guinea”. One who would deliver that change Guineans have been dreaming about for decades. We all know that Mandela was a one term president in post-apartheid South Africa who rejected the call for him to stay in power permanently. We also knew Mandela as a unifier who fought for justice and equal rights for all. Alpha Condé on the other hand seems to want to cling on to power at any cost like Mugabe. In addition, the fact of matter is that Guinea under his leadership, is an autocratic state, a country divided along ethnic and class lines, between those who have and have not. He came in promising to change the system. Instead, it is the system that has now changed him for the worse. 

It will be political suicide for President Conde to attempt a third term says Journalist Ben Bangoura


If he succeeds in imposing a new constitution in Guinea, he may not be around for that long. He could be toppled by a popular uprising similar to one we have then seen in Burkina Faso, and most recently in Zimbabwe, Algeria and Sudan. Mr. Condé must understand that there is a life after the presidency, that he is going to die one day -one way or the other-. Therefore, he should focus his efforts crafting a lasting legacy for himself as a leader that has a sense of history and who was able to rebuild his country, leaving it in peace and in economic prosperity. 

 
History tells us that no mankind has ever achieved everything he wanted to do in life. In democratic society such as the United States, each time there is alternance, the outgoing president always says to his successor: “Here is what I have accomplished, here are the works to be done”. The idea that Mr. Alpha Condé started something in Guinea he needs to carry through is foolish.

 
How can the international community be of help in supporting Africans fighting for democratic reforms?


The International community can be helpful by persuading Mr. Alpha Condé to stay away from such move. This is neither in his personal interest nor in that of people of Guinea. The International community can also support the grass roots organizations in the country to reinforce the institutions that are already there. As former US president Obama rightly said: “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions”. We also know that the United States under President Trump is not supportive of those autocratic leaders in Africa who have failed their peoples so miserably. Alpha Condé is certainly one of those leaders today. So, such message is rather encouraging.

How has the media fared under President Conde and how much of a force is it in the political dispensation in Guinea?

Under President Condé, I must say that the media has fared very poorly because of lack of resources. Like any country under dictatorship, the state media, including the National Broadcasting System (RTG), is the mouthpiece of the government. The independent media, specially the media online, tends to do better job though limited in scope. In Guinea, Independent media is under constant attack. In recent years, several journalists were killed in the line of duty while others are arrested, harassed, beaten or jailed.

*Full interview published in May issue of Pan African Visions Magazine

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Mnangagwa answers burning questions on Mugabe, spy allegations and elections
August 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

By  PETA THORNYCRAFT*

Shortly after results of the presidential poll, Peta Thornycroft interviewed Zimbabwean President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Harare. Picture: Xinhua/Shaun Jusa

Shortly after results of the presidential poll, Peta Thornycroft interviewed Zimbabwean President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Harare. Picture: Xinhua/Shaun Jusa

Shortly after results of the presidential poll, Peta Thornycroft interviewed winning candidate,  Zimbabwean President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Harare. The constitutional court will next week hear argument challenging the result by the opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa.

PT: Who gave the army the order to go into the city on August 1?

EM: I consulted the commissioner-general of police and he indicated to me that in terms of the law, the commissioner of police can contact his counterpart who commands the local unit to give him immediate support while the process is ongoing.

The entire country was in a jovial mood. No-one expected the violence that happened so suddenly. The police were taken by surprise. They were deployed country-wide, covering the election process, so suddenly the small unit (left in Harare) could not control what was happening: In terms of the law, police are allowed to summon assistance to bring order.

 We regret what happened thereafter and since then. This should not happen again. We are instituting a commission of inquiry and to give it more flavour and transparency we are bringing people in from abroad.

I have one name from SA, one from the UK to consider with three names to join us to look at the matter. The inquiry will begin immediately after the inauguration.

PT: You have made such an effort to rebuild the party and now this tragedy after peaceful elections.

EM: Fortunately I am not doing it alone, I am doing it with my team, we all agree that Zimbabwe must change. We must have a different image from the isolationist posture of the past. Zimbabwe must embrace the international community totally and we are doing everything possible for political reform. For us again to relate and to cooperate with the international community and international business.

PT: There is one photograph shown in the media of a soldier shooting and another soldier stepping forward and stopping him on August 1. What are your views on that?

EM: I have not seen that picture.

PT: It’s a shocking picture. Why hasn’t he been arrested?

EM: Orders have been given about all those people who took the law into their own hands, whether it was police or others who take the law into their own hands. I also don’t want to pre-empt the outcomes of the commission I am instituting.

PT: Human rights groups say there are 150 cases of unconstitutional violence since August 1. Do you agree?

EM: Let me assure you, the best thing to do is get the list of 150 cases and pass it onto us. This is fake news and it’s flying left right and centre.

We were told (of these cases) by Philippe van Damme, the EU ambassador here, and we took him to task and said let’s go around all the hospitals in Harare and see if there is any record of people in hospitals. He had to later apologise as this was not true.

PT: Human rights groups have details of those cases.

EM: Be wary of Zimbabwe human rights groups. They have an agenda. They have always been against the government. They have not changed their minds, they have not shifted their mindset to become democratic but that will take time.

We must deal with facts and not any speculation. Whatever you hear try to check and I think the police will be able to assist you in checking.

PT: Human rights people are desperately looking for the Commissioner of Police.

EM: So why would they come to you – the journalists? Let them go to the commissioner, he is in the country, he is in town…before they make such statements, let them verify these issues with the right authorities. That’s what should be done.

PT: MDC Alliance MP Tendai Biti fled the country and went to Zambia. There was a warrant for his arrest.

EM: What I saw on TV, was that statement issued by the police, that they wanted him to come to Harare Central Police station to clarify certain issues. This has been on the radio. If he was really innocent and had not done anything, he should have quickly gone to Harare police station and stated the issues he wanted to clear. Why did he skip the country?

We’ve also had some discussion with some of the observers. We had set up a call centre where they allegedly received calls from people saying they were threatened here and there. We asked for the addresses of those people threatened in order to investigate.

PT: But many people are fearful nowadays… especially when they see people in uniform.

EM: I have not received information from my party or from the general public or from any citizen saying I am fearful. Never, never.

You will see the police walking in uniform. It is legitimate, it’s allowed by the law.  You will see soldiers in their trucks.  They are not on a mission to intimidate.

Our police and our army they are very friendly,  we have defence forces week, where they go around building clinics. building schools to show the army and the public are in good relations.

So this fake news about our people..that they are afraid of the army.

PT: How will Zimbabwe now move along after these terrible turn of events?

EM: We will continue preaching peace, peace, unity, unity, love, love to our people, it is a culture and we want its roots to go deeper and deeper.

The good will always prevail over evil. Yes, we have people who peddle evil, but what is correct will prevail.

PT: Were you surprised at the election results only .8 percent above 50 percent. (To avoid a run off the winner must have 50% +1.)

EM: We have 133 political parties. Of the 133, 54 political parties were participating in the elections and  22 were bidding for the office of president…all 22 were fighting me, and I am so proud that I beat not only the 22 but the entire 54.

And I got 2.4 million votes against 2,1 million….. 22 political parties and I beat them all.

PT: The MDC Alliance has gone to court to challenge your victory. What are your views?

EM: I am not privy to their thinking.

As a government we have not interfered with the process of the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), we are staying aloof, we allow the law to take its course. This is my attitude.

And we are already moving the trajectory of growth, so what will happen will be the continuation of the trajectory of growth, we are going to be out there with more focus, more energy, to make sure that in the course of business, Zimbabwe needs to become more competitive, so that we can again catch up with the rest of the developing countries ahead of us.

PT: Will the Mugabe family have some of their many farms taken away?

EM: It’s not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy.

I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere.

We have the land commission, and this is one of the matters they are seized with attending to.

It’s not on the basis of the family, (one family, one farm). It is on the basis of government policy. There are so many others families who have more than one farm. It must all be governed by the size of the farm.

PT: Is there anything you regret in your life?

EM: I don’t think I regret anything. I have no other life I know except politics from when I was 17. I never worked for anyone but the people and the party. I don’t regret I chose that life. At the end of the day, I did what I did for my country.

PT: Will the new truth commission you signed into law, to deal with thousands of murders of opposition supporters from the 80s, get enough money to operate properly?

EM: When they (commission officials) want money, they don’t go to journalists… let them come to me. You must first ask them, did you go to the president?

PT: What do you say about those massacres, known as Gukuruhundi, following independence?

EM: Well, our former President (Mugabe) described it and said it was a ‘moment of madness’.

That’s how he described that event. I have said we can’t live in the past, and that should never again happen in our country. Let us be a family and forge ahead, whatever wrongs we regret and they should never again visit our country. I second the position taken by our former president – a moment of madness.

PT: In Mugabe’s statements to the press before the elections, he said he never trusted you.

EM: I trusted him to the end and it’s only now that I’ve learnt he doesn’t trust me. We shared the deepest issues together.

PT: Mugabe has talked about you and Dan Stannard, the former Rhodesian head of security who later became head of Zimbabwe’s security about some of the activities you got up to. What is your thought on this?

EM: During the era of independence some South Africans and Selous Scouts (Rhodesian soldiers) were going to blow up heads of state and Prince Charles, Indira Gandhi, at Rufaro Stadium.

They brought in some Sam 7 missiles, and the person who alerted us was Dan Stannard. We removed them. Even Claymore Mines were put in Rufaro grounds and this is why Stannard got an award. I think it is his (Mugabe’s) old age, that he has forgotten.

He said I was a Rhodesian spy? Old age is bad if his mind twists that way.

Why would he work with me for 54 years if I was a Rhodesian spy? Rubbish and nonsense this is.

PT: What about the immediate post-independence period of instability in the country.

EM: I should give credit for how we handled matters post-independence. The president, prime minister (Mugabe) back then espoused national reconciliation.

We had some whites who went out to reverse our gains but we were able to outmanoeuvre them and establish peace.

At the time there were a lot of bandits and dissidents killing people in Matabeleland North, the Midlands. I am happy that at the end of the day reconciliation won because it was not an easy task to marry three armies which had different orientations.

PT: What about violence against the MDC post-2000? Many were killed and jailed and none have been prosecuted for those crimes.

EM: You can go back to the police and find out who was not charged. Go to the police and ask what happened to those cases.

Anyone who committed a crime the police would have had a duty to arrest, them.

PT: What about the G40 faction within Zanu PF that has been loyal to Mugabe… what happened to them?

EM: I have never been a member of G40. I don’t know what they are planning or not planning. I hear from security that they continuously tweet. They continuously make statements.

To me. I am looking forward to the future. There is no reason for living in the past. We must all preach peace and unite our people even those who were antagonistic. We are Zimbabweans and come together.

PT: Returning to the shooting in Harare on August 1. Who gave the order to the army because General Valerio Sibanda says he did not give the order?

EM: I have replied to this. You are so repetitive…

This is typical like Mugabe.

We walked together for 54 years and he didn’t trust me.

No one gave orders …there is this perception and it is disjointed. I explained, the army has a strict command structure, I am the commander-in-chief and matters are handled according to the process.

*Courtesy of IOL

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Saraki defender of our democracy – Okupe
August 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Doyin Okupe

Doyin Okupe

As the cloud towards 2019 elections gets thicker for a heavy and destructive down pour,  events unfolding in  the Nigeria’s political landscape proves that political gladiators are set for the worst come 2019 Presidential election. while pro-Buhari politicians are optimistic that Buhari’s 2019 rerun is a done deal, other political observers refers to the massive defections of Congressmen  from the ruling party APC to the major opposition party PDP and other political parties as a huge blow that distabilized the ruling APC.

Besieged of Nigeria’s Assembly a pure Treason – Dr. Okupe

In a chat with Dr. Doyin Okupe former Special Adviser on information and strategy for two Nigerian Presidents Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan describe the recently barricade of the Nigeria National Assembly ‎as ‘treason’.

‘What happen last week Tuesday was an act of treason it was a subordination on democracy, a terrible act of fundamental principle of separation of power which is a pillar of democracy.’

‘Many people may not be aware that what differentiate a military regime from democracy is the congress men that we refer as the national assembly. In a military regime, we have the Executive, we have the Judiciary but we don’t have Congress men. It is sacred that you cannot violate it . It is a rape and its condemnable, absolutely intolerable and should be condemn by all well meaning Nigerians and including the government itself.’

‘ It is a slap on the face of this administration. It is more confounding, first we we’re told that the DSS did not receive any authority from the presidency, so whatever situation would lead us that create the Director General of the DSS authorizes the power of the presidency, the Commander In Chief of the status of the president without the knowledge of anybody in the presidency is catastrophic.’

L‎awal Daura’s moves frightening

Okupe further added that while the immediate sack of the DSS Boss Lawal Daura is commendable, : ‘the underlining cause of that move is frightening because the sacking of Daura was because he committed that treason act without the order of any lawful authority.’

‘What will make the DSS assume that role without fear and execute it, is what we should worry ourselves about.’

‘Also, when something on to the worst happen in the system, those who keep saying the president is not aware, when the killed people in Benue, I mean the managers of information of the Presidency will keep saying the president is unaware are given the president a bad name!’

‘The president Buhari is elected to run the country. When we submit our sovereignty to him, we should be able to go to bed with the believe that he is are in-charge. If anything happen to us and you say that you did not know that means we are in trouble!

‘It is good that the Vice-president immediately intervene but deep thinkers must asked how come it happened, the president is not aware, the vice president is not aware? What kind of government are we ruining, to make matters worst, the Inspector General of Police IGP came up with almost a ridiculous position telling Nigerians that he has investigated and he found out that the DSS boss colluded with certain politicians. That is a shameful statement, it is a statement that should never get to the public domain. It equally means in the future the DG of NIA can also collude with foreigner and subvert Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police can also collude with some other people! This is what sensible patriotic citizen must be asking. It is beyond what we are seeing on the surface. With this you cannot draw a line between the Chairman of APC Adams Oshiohmole, the Inspector General of Police Position and the Presidency. So you begin to wonder what exactly is going on.’

How Nigeria state got to this level

I have been in government twice. This is befouling and I do not understand it, I do not comprehend it and instead of us seriously, critically look into this matter, people must be concerned . Instead of that we are distorting fact that is the leadership of the legislature that created a coup on themselves when we saw it clearly. People that are talking have forgetten that social media is in existence. Gone are the days Nigerians had to wait till 9-10 pm to watch and listen to national events and happening. As it was happening, we saw the event, it is absolutely impossible for the event to have been stage. Many people who are in the possition of authority today maybe because they are not too educated, they assume that most of us they are leading are also not educated as well. Most Nigerians are extremely civilised.

Juxtaposing ‎IGP’s report with eye witness

How do we juxtapose the IGP’s report with what Nigeria saw with there eyes. They are  asking why was all APC senators not seen around? Did they phone each other , ware they gathered somewhere, why? There were video clip that showed they were gathering somewhere in Maitama in Abuja. We cannot have deception as official policy for governance.

On mass Defection

Defection is a political moves that happen everywhere in the world. Government and administration is different. The government is different from political parties. It’s a game political parties play to outsmart each other.So defection is a different ball game. It should not be seen as an enemy moves .It is not an ideology! It’s practiced over the world. In Britain, in the last five years, 60 members of their parliament have crossed from one party to the other. I wonder why in this part of the world we make it look as if it is something strange. In India, parliamentarians recently left one party to cross to the other. The incumbent President of France, Macron, was a member of the ruling party, he was a federal minister, he left the ruling party to form his own party. He contested and he won. So why are we bothered with defections! We have to be cerebral in some of these things because there are too many unpalatable argument you hear from quarters you do not expect and it is extremely embarrassing that the Chairman of APC Adams Oshiohmole said Senator Bukola Saraki should resign and must be removed. Such statement are very unbecoming for a man of his position. It embarrassing that Oshiohmole will consistently hold on to that view. I don’t know what evil befell APC that they brought uncontrollable charlatan to become there chairman! Saying things that cannot be backed by law. The constitution is quite clear on this. For you to remove the Senate President, you require 2/3 majority of the Senators which is sacrosanct, but the argument that he was not elected by the whole house does not hold water. The process of election is different and the process of removal is also different and its clearly spell-tout in the constitution. The chairman of a major ruling party cannot just run his mouth on an unguarded gates! Because you are coming from labour where rascality is the order of the day, governance does not condone rascality. It a game of the noble and not ramble-rousing and filibustering. There should be a spinach , some sense of decency not just verbosity, unruly, unguarded statement coming from the leadership. It’s shameful.

Bukola Saraki’s to vacate his seat on a moral ground

There is no morality in political position. On a moral ground, will you tell the president of the country to resign because he promised so many things and he has not fulfilled it so he should throw-in the towel, its not done anywhere! he can resign his position if for instance you find out that the Senate president was involved in a mafia position that will in a way cast a slur but the erroneous thing that is making people talk about a moral ground is because they feel it is compulsory that the Senate President or the leadership of the National Assembly should come from the majority party. It is a fallacy. We have seen example in the 3rd republic. Ezike was NPP, and the Speaker of the house while the NPN was the majority. Where somebody was the Deputy Senate President and is from the minority party. Ignorance is a major problem in Nigeria because our people fail to read and to study history to know their past and the contemporary development in the world before making any profound pronouncement. So it is pathetic!

What this portray come 2019?

I want to hope there would be an election in 2019, it will be a keenly contested election but my position is I am not APC and definitely I do not wish that APC would win. But I will join forces with other parties that is contesting against the APC . If we loose, the game continues. It is not personal. If I oppose you, it is not because I hate. It’s because I want your seat and I also want to serve. It is a lawful legal competitive exercise. People should not look at it as a personal assault that they want to unseat them. If they do not unseat people, how did they get there? But it cannot be by all means at all cost. Politicians must agree to the minimum standard to which we can behave. In my own understanding, you can campaign, propagate manifestos and give the promises of what you intend to do, the day you go to the poll and people tomb-print ballot paper, that is the end. After that its the will of the people that must prevail.

How do you see Senator Bukola Saraki and his enormous woes?

Bukola Saraki inadvertently has become a symbol for defense of democracy. In recent time he has become the defender of democracy. Because if an attempt is made to subvert democracy instead of keeping quite, the courageous man steps forward all the time to resist the subversion of our democracy. He could have recapitulated, cowardly and allows anything goes, by setting up bad precedent, instead, he steps-out, he stands firm, he resist anti-democratic forces, and by chance he wins. I see him now as the dender of our democry.

My charge for this administration before 2019

The new DG of DSS when he was making his speech said they are going to review many cases of human right abuses, that already tells you that something wrong was going on before. So let us rewrite all these wrongs by restoring human right like the case of Elzaki, Dasuki among others. Let us comply with court orders by being a progressive country. Without disobeying the rule of law. All parties must adhere to the confinement of the law. Let us go back to basis. The fight against corruption must be in adherence to the rule of law. For instance why should I obey a police officer because is wearing a uniform but when the police officer does not operate according to the law, why should I obey him? This government must correct all the wrong doing that are being before now and restore human right and contain all anti-democratic forces within them and that include putting under control the national chairman of the APC Adams Oshiohmole because the man has become a loose cannon that can burst anytime because he is obsessed and seems possess an idea that the Senate President must leave, why? If you want to remove him, go to the law. And the need to strenghten our institution cannot be over emphasized. Man is temporary but institution must be permanent. Let us encourage institution to work properly. Above all, like the Americans said, Security must be neutral in all areas of conflicts and exposure. Its so important because without it we cannot go far as a nation

Tagging mass defections as a battle between the good and the evil

He is correct. The good is everywhere. The bad is also everywhere. I totally agree but the location is where we cannot determine because we have the good and the bad in the presidency, we also have the good and the bad in the opposition. As well as in the APC and the PDP. There are the good and the bad in the legislature as well as in the judiciary . It is a correct statement but it goes beyond that and the only way we can get over it is the upholding of the rule of law. Once we allow the rule of law, is either the bad withdraws their evil, or they get punish for it.

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