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Without Inclusive Dialogue, Cameroon is on the Highway to Civil War- Elie Smith
June 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Inclusive dialogue is part of any feasible solution says Elie Smith

Inclusive dialogue is part of any feasible solution says Elie Smith

The crisis in Cameroon are growing from bad to worse with ordinary masses bearing the brunt, says Journalist Elie Smith. Echoing what others like Justice Ayah Paul have said, Elie Smith says without inclusive dialogue, Cameroon is on the highway to civil war. Known for his unbiased perspectives to national issues, Elie Smith says the government must come to terms with the fact that it is dealing with a new generation of Anglophones resolute in righting historic wrongs and injustices suffered for decades. The solution lies in a sincere dialogue with Anglophones of all sheds and stripes with no taboo subjects, says Smith.

PAV: Elie thanks again for accepting to shed light on the ongoing crisis, where do things stand at the moment with the crisis?

Elie Smith:  The crisis is getting from bad to worst. But those who are the victims are first and foremost the ordinary masses in the two Anglophone regions otherwise known as Southern Cameroon’s.  You have thousands internally displaced people, most of them are now living in the bushes and others have relocated to neighbouring Nigeria in camps run by the UNHCR and Nigerian states, while others are in towns and cities in Anglophone Cameroon and beyond that seems to have a semblance of peace and safety from the Cameroonian security forces, hitherto, the main causes of human rights abuses and lately from the jumble of armed Anglophone nationalist movements.  In this crisis, very little is said about the fate of the elderly, women and children. Most girls are now out of schools and have become vulnerable to all kinds of abuses amongst which, rape is a major issue, sadly under reported.

PAV:There was a statement from one of the SDO from the North West and the fall of a locality under his command, though the statement was disputed, are there areas that the government has completely lost control of and if so which ones do you know from your findings?

Elie Smith:  No territory is the under control of the various armed Anglophone nationalist movements. It is not that, they can’t capture and control large chunk of territory, is just that, they are multiple, disorganized and divided. In short, they are still a bunch of amateurs who are quickly honing their trade as we have noticed recently in direct warfare with regular forces.  But what I have noticed is that, the morale of regular or government forces are down and secondly, in spite the divisions within the armed movements,  they still command and lot of support because government forces are still committing  human right abuses. The reality is that, any part of Anglophone Cameroon can be captured.

PAV: The bilingualism commission tabled a number of proposals to President Biya, what do you make of the discussions that took place during their meetings with people in the North West and South West, and how have people reacted to their recommendations in Cameroon?

Elie Smith:  First there is nothing new. The creation of that commission is an admission of failure and given the fact that, it has only a consultative position, her recommendations however brilliant it might have been is a late recommendation to solve an old problem. They should stop wasting tax-payers monies. The government should have the courage to call a Foumban 2 conference to correct the historic wrongs of the first unification constitution and secure the future.  Justice Ayah Paul has been advocating the need for a second Foumban conference as a panacea to solving the current crisis. If there is no “all inclusive dialogue”, we are on the highway to civil war. Even though I said before that the various armed groups are amateurs and under armed and disorganized, it is just a matter of time before they beef up their weaponry and start confronting the national army eyeball to eyeball. And when that, happens, they will control territory and I began to wonder how reconciliation will be possible at that stage. However, there is still time for things to be corrected.

PAV: We now see a growing number of kidnapped Police and military officials calling on the Biya government to rethink its strategy; do you see this having any impact?

Elie Smith:  Of course the recent spats of kidnapping of Police and military men and women are having an impact on the government and also on the majority Francophones.  For they had long been nourished about the invincibility of the Cameroonians army in general and its US trained elite unit, the BIRs or Rapid Intervention Brigade , in particular. They now have to rethink their strategy in Anglophone Cameroon because the current one of scorched earth policy has failed woefully.

PAV: Why was the government so rattled with statements from the American Ambassador Peter Balerin, what was the drama all about?

Elie Smith: I think the government never expected their friend, the United States to speak the way its ambassador spoke. Remember, the United States has always looked the other way while the government commits human rights abuses not only in Anglophone Cameroon, but first, its operations in the Far North. They have been embolden because, while the United States , especially under the  Obama administration refused to cooperate with the Nigerian government by refusing to sell them weapons because of suspicions that, the Nigerian Army was committing human rights abuses, the same US government was training and arming Cameroon’s elite military force, known as the Rapid Intervention Brigades or the BIR. So, Yaoundé was like the spoiled child of Washington DC under Obama. Its security forces could kill and maim under the guise of fighting against terrorism and they received no rebukes.  And since Frances Cook, all or most US ambassadors after her were kind of speaking from both sides of their mouths. Now, Yaoundé is shocked to find an outspoken ambassador and it is coming at a time when the regime is most vulnerable.  Fanatics of the regime want Biya, who is 86, to run again in the upcoming presidential election, that is why, they were not happy with the declarations of Peter Bellerin. Remember, Washington DC was their moral support when the same US ambassador declared that, those fanning the crisis were the Anglophone Diaspora, they was ululation in Yaoundé, but now that, the same ambassador talks only about legacy, there is wailing  in Yaoundé.

Smith shares the believe that Ayuk Tabe and other arrested leaders are alive .

Smith shares the believe that Ayuk Tabe and other arrested leaders are alive .

PAV: If the government could express such outrage on the Ambassador’s statements, why is it so hard for them to invest the same energy in trying to find solutions for the crisis or at least engaged in broad-based dialogue that many have called for?

Elie Smith: It is beyond comprehension why they will release such energy to denounce their erstwhile friend and not put such in seeking lasting solution to the current. But my humble opinion is that, they are not only overwhelmed but they have exhausted all the options that, they had. The only option that, they have now is to use violence and which is only going to fuel more discontent and also drive a wedge between Cameroonians along colonially inherited  cultures.

PAV: The UK government has been conspicuously silent on the crisis, but a company from there recently signed a lucrative contract to process gas, your take on this.

Elie Smith:  The United Kingdom has always stayed quiet. Remember, in 1992 when the US and Germany were banners upper for the stolen victory of John Fru Ndi to be upheld, the UK simply sent their spies here to find out whether the majority Francophones will accept Anglophone as their President. What I have just said is mentioned clearly in the book: “Dossier Noire sur le Cameroun”, written by Pierre Ella.  The UK is still angry that, Southern Cameroon’s opted to join La Republique instead of doing what part of German Togoland did by joining Ghana. Well as for New Age, I don’t think Her Majesty’s government had anything thing to do with the company coming to Cameroon, especially in west Cameroon.

PAV: In the last couple of weeks, we have seen the major international media outlets like the Guardian and Economist in the UK, and the Washington Post in the USA reporting on the crisis, any comments?

Elie Smith: Well, it is normal. When it bleeds, it leads. The killings in Anglophone Cameroon have reached a point that can’t be hidden from the international community in spite all the gymnastics in denial put in place by the government.

PAV: Any word about Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others arrested in Nigeria are there alive and if so why has the government continued to keep them incommunicado?

Elie Smith:  They are alive. I have heard strange claims recently. It is left to the government to decide when to make them available. But your question is coming at a time when the government has decided that interrogations of 10 of the 47 arrested in Nigeria should start. It began on Monday June 25th. And I hear they all have the right to give the name of a person of their choice to visit them for a period of one month renewable. Now, it is left for the people of the Interim government to decide whether they want to have a formidable legal team that is free from their internal shenanigans, which will lead to the mitigation of their sentences or use them as a bargaining chip for their own political ambitions.

PAV: Taking the killings that took place in Menka as an example , one sees a wide gulf in the way the English media covered it, as opposed to the French media which largely relayed the government side of the story, as a media professional  what do you make of this?

Elie Smith:  Cameroon is officially a bilingual country with English and French, being its official languages, but in reality it is a French-speaking country and there are no other places to prove that, English is not an official language in this country than the judiciary and the Press. The judiciary is pure French-speaking and it will be demonstrated once again as the trial of the 47 starts. The other area is how this crisis is covered by the French language media. They are most supportive of the government partly because most French-speaking journalists and owners of French-language papers are sponsored by the government. And this is where the theory of ownership and control is put into practice. But, it is not a reflection of what most Francophones are thinking.

PAV: As the crisis rage on, so too are the elections approaching, if things continue this way, how will the situation in the North West and South West Regions impact on the elections? Will elections without these two regions be legitimate or will this just cement the broken bonds we see now?

Elie Smith: In my humble opinion elections, can’t take in both North West and south west regions anytime soon. Simply because, the government is not controlling those regions as they would want the world to think. Perhaps they are having control to a certain level of the following areas: Bamenda, Kumba, Buea and Victoria-Limbe. I say perhaps, because, when I am in the latter mentioned localities, you noticed that, there is a kind simmering tension and kind or unofficial cease fear. But if the government goes ahead and oragnises elections, then they will not only disenfranchising the people of both regions, they will be giving a legitimate  arguments to secessionists or restorationists, that, both region variously known as former west Cameroon or former British Southern Cameroon’s is not an integral part of Cameroon. Remember, the argument that the most hardcore Anglophone nationalists have been floating is that, there is no treaty officialising the current Union, which has been trampled upon and strangely the government has never shown any official document that shows that, there was any official union between both Cameroons. Ideally, it would be best for negotiations to start first and concluded before any elections are organized in Cameroon. What I don’t seem understand is why are some candidates eager to run, when they know they won’t be able to campaign in some parts of the country and  will be playing into the hands or to the advantage of the incumbent.

PAV: You have been on TV panels with Messanga  Nyamding , what was he talking when he said Anglophones have a lower intelligence coefficient compared to Francophones, with friends like him and others, many are wondering if President Biya actually needs enemies Elie….

Elie Smith: Sincerely speaking, I don’t know what to say. I think Mr Nyamding can best answer this question. However, my interpretation is this and I have already told him in one of our debates. I think, it is his excessive love or desire to please the President of the Republic and the ruling CPDM that has made him and many other ordinarily brilliant people to ridicule themselves. I once told him in one of our debates on Balafon FM here in Douala, that his behavior was like that of a boy who loves a girl who doesn’t love him. He loves the CPDM, but the CPDM doesn’t love him. Beyond that, Mr Nyamding is a very good man.

U.S Ambassador Peter Balerin in visit to President Biya at the Unity Palace. The ruling seems to be rattled with everything Balerin says

U.S Ambassador Peter Balerin in visit to President Biya at the Unity Palace. The ruling seems to be rattled with everything Balerin says

PAV: Based on the situation on the ground as you see, how does this end, where do the solutions come from and who will the actors be?

Elie Smith:  It will only get worse if the government refuses to see the reality and stop being arrogant and stupid.  The government must understand that, they have for too wrong the Anglophones and now, the new generations who have nothing to lose won’t take what their parents took or accepted from the central government in Yaoundé. The solution lies in a sincere dialogue with Anglophones of all sheds and stripes and all subjects must be put on the table.

PAV:Thanks so much for granting this interview

Elie Smith: It is a pleasure to give me an opportunity to give my humble views on the current political situation prevailing in Cameroon.

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Human Rights In English Speaking Regions:Amnesty Drops The Hammer on Cameroon
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

– Report And Recommendations Were Discussed With Senior Officials At The Presidency – Ilaria Allegrozzi Lake Chad Researcher

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Imagery : High resolution imagery captured on 21 January 2018 shows Kwakwa has been almost completely razed. White ash blankets the areas where structures once stood. Again, cloud cover prevents full analysis of the area. ©Amnesty International.

High resolution imagery captured on 21 January 2018 shows Kwakwa has been almost completely razed. White ash blankets the areas where structures once stood. Again, cloud cover prevents full analysis of the area. ©Amnesty International.

While there may be no official reaction yet from the government of Cameroon on the recent Amnesty International report, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Lake Chad Researcher says the human rights group had very open and productive discussions on the findings with Senior Officials at the Presidency last week.

“We hope that our message and recommendations will be taken on board,” says Allegrozzi whose research shows that people have been caught between two fires, victims of gross abuses by the army and acts of violence committed by armed separatists.

In an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Ilaria Allegrozzi says the report was based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye witnesses of the flagrant human right violations such as  unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and destruction of private property.

Rather than resolving the crisis, the heavy handed response by the authorities have only empowered radical violent movements and created a climate of fear, according to the report from Amnesty International. While the report has ample documentation of gross excesses from the military with the burning of whole villages, killings, arbitrary arrest and torture of people in the course of military operations in the Anglophone regions, there are instances where armed separatists are faulted for attacks on security forces, state emblems schools and ordinary people.

“We did not ask the question about conditions for peace but noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia ,” Allegrozzi said in response to what it will take for normalcy to return. Amnesty will continue to closely monitor developments and  do follow up with  Cameroon and international partners on its recommendations, Allegrozzi  said.

Thanks for accepting to discuss the recent Amnesty Report on Cameroon (A Turn for the worse), can you start with the numbers, those killed, number of refugees and other vital statistics that you found in your research?

Pictures taken at the beginning of March 2018 in Belo, showing a burnt Toyota Picnic. According to evidence collected by Amnesty International, the vehicle was set ablaze by security forces manning a checkpoint at the Belo motor park on 2 February 2018. ©Amnesty International.

We did not compile any statistics  registering  the no of people (general population) killed; we have compiled stats registering the no of security forces (policemen, gendarmes, soldiers) killed by armed separatists since Sept 2017 to day and it is 44. 44 might well be an underestimation and we believe the number is higher. We also came up with stats registering the number of schools attacked by armed separatists. It’s 42 of which 36 burnt, the remaining either partially or totally destroyed. For this figure too, we think we might have underestimated the number of attacks. However, we only wanted to go public with the figures we were sure about 100 per 100. In terms of refugees (Anglophone Cameroonian requesting asylum in Nigeria): the official figures put out by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) at May 2018 are of 20.400 (note this figure includes only those officially registered by UNHCR; in addition we believe there are at least some other 10.000 scattered around Nigeria in various isolated areas). Most of the refugees settled in cross river state, Nigeria; but some also are found in Benue state, the capital Abuja, Lagos and elsewhere. Note that those who fled (mostly last year and especially after Sept-Oct 2017 and after Dec. 2017) and are settled in cross river state are mostly from the SW region, from villages and cities very near to the border. There are also other people in the North and South West Regions who fled, but internally, within Cameroon. The no of IDPs (internally displaced people) in the North and South West regions is estimated at 160.000 (possibly underestimation). 160.000 is a figure put out by UN humanitarian agencies in Cameroon.

Often times , the government and its supports cast doubts on the work and reports of Amnesty International, how was this research done and what measures did you take to ensure the findings were indisputable on facts and accuracy?

We always stand by our findings. Our methodology is thorough and evidence solid. We have interviewed over 150 victims and eye-witnesses to Human Right  violations by the security forces and acts of violence by the armed separatists, as well as families of victims, and a wide range of key informants from different sectors (lawyers, journalists, religious and traditional leaders, academics, human rights defenders, members of civil society, political leaders and activists within the separatist movement and groups, national and international human rights and security experts, and staff of the United Nations, INGOs). In addition we have collected, analyzed and verified material evidence, including videos, photographs, med records, court docs and sat imagery. 

What are some of the reactions you have received since the report was published, while it heavily indicts the government and its military for its excesses, it equally says armed separatist groups carried out violent attacks on the security forces, your take on reactions.

We are still waiting for the official reaction of the government. We were able to visit Cameroon last week and met with the Director of the Civil Cabinet at the presidency. We shared the findings of the report. The discussion was open and productive. We hope that our messages and recommendations will be taken on board.

When doing your research and producing the report, does Amnesty International take into account the notion of self defence? When you have villages razed down as described by you, people arrested and tortured, how do you expect them to react?

Our research looks at the human rights impact of the crisis. We focused on the violence and human rights violations against the general population. Our research shows that the people have been caught between two fires, victims of the abuses by the army and the acts of violence committed by the armed separatists.

We see instances where you mentioned schools been burnt down by separatist groups, did you not find it curious that even some of the schools heavily guarded by the army were still destroyed? In this case how do you attribute the destruction to separatist groups as you describe them?

The cases we documented have been carefully verified. We have no doubt that all the cases we documented of attacks on schools were carried out by armed separatists. Sometimes it was difficult to attribute responsibility of attacks to specific separatists groups, some individuals acting in support of the general cause (armed struggle + secession) but failing to specifically mention which group they belong to. In our new briefing, we used the phrase “self-proclaimed armed separatists” to describe a spectrum of groups embracing an armed struggle for secession from Cameroon in order to create an independent state of “Ambazonia”. One of the most prominent groups, as you know, is the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), which emerged in early 2017. But there are numerous other groups which also claim to be in active armed struggle in different locations across the North and South West regions, which appear heterogeneous and splintered in nature, often acting at local levels, in the absence of a coordinated, unified structure and political leadership. We have documented violence perpetrated by individuals or groups of individuals, who acted on their own initiative, but having expressed support to or known by their communities as acting in sympathy with a self-proclaimed armed group or the armed struggle for secession.

Under what conditions are refugees both in Nigeria and those spread across the country living?

The humanitarian situation of refugees is of concern but not catastrophic (compared to other humanitarian emergencies). Lots of solidarity from Nigerian families offering shelter, food, water. The question is how long is this sustainable for? Durable solutions need to be found to ensure refugees’ needs are addressed and conditions for their return are met.

For the refugees in Nigeria, what international protections or protocols cover them, was the Nigerian government right in arresting and deporting Ayuk Tabe and others from Southern Cameroons who sought refuge there?

We have called on the government of Nigeria to respect its international obligations with respect to the rights of refugees, as per the 1951 UN refugee convention which Nigeria has duly ratified. We have condemned the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and the other 46 Anglophones. We are calling on the government of Cameroon to reveal their whereabouts, provide them access to lawyers/families/doctors, and stop their illegal-arbitrary-incommunicado detention. As you know the risk of torture is very high when people are detained in secret. We have widely documented the systematic use of torture by Cameroonian security forces and intelligent services in illegal detention facilities, including military bases.(see report Secret torture chamber released last year in July).

A number of people from the North West and South West Regions have been handed lengthy jail sentences, what do you make of the way the judicial process in Cameroon is working in this time of crisis?

We have condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of people arrested since the beginning of last year in the context of peaceful demonstrations, security operations, etc. We have called on authorities to make sure arrests and detentions are conducted in compliance with international human rights and domestic law, and ensure all security forces are trained on and understand these norms.  We also asked them to ensure that there are sufficient, recognizable and precise grounds for arrest and that evidence is appropriately gathered. A suspect must only be arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that he or she may have committed a crime. If there are insufficient grounds for arrest, the person must be immediately released. Also we have recommended authorities to ensure that detainees are promptly brought before an independent civilian court that upholds international fair-trial standards, are informed of the charges against them, and have knowledge of and access to legal procedures allowing them to challenge the legality of their detention. As we have largely documented in the context of the fight against Boko Haram (we have observed dozens of trial proceedings at the military courts, including the trial of Mr Felix Agbor Balla, Mr Fontem and other Anglophones), we believe that there are several challenges for the Cameroonian justice system.

LACK OF INDEPENDENCE OF MILITARY COURTS – Military trials in Cameroon are heard by three people: the tribunal president, who is a military or civilian judge, and two military officers. While the tribunal president is trained in the law, the two military officers lack legal training. The lack of independence and impartiality of military courts raises serious due process concerns. Because such courts belong to the executive rather than the judicial branch of government, and are generally staffed by military officers subservient to the executive, they typically have an institutional tendency to defer to the executive’s dictates. Recognizing military courts’ inherent bias, the Principles on Fair Trial in Africa state that they “should not in any circumstances whatsoever have jurisdiction over civilians.” In addition, human rights mechanisms such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have stated categorically that military courts should not be authorized to impose the death penalty.183 Amnesty International considers that the jurisdiction of military courts should be limited to trials of military personnel for breaches of military discipline.

THIN AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE Perhaps the most serious failing in many of the proceedings we observed is the lack of solid evidence implicating the defendants. For the cases involving Boko Haram suspects, for ex, the evidence presented by the prosecution is in the form of written affidavits included in the case file, frequently from unnamed—and thus, to the defence, unknown—sources. The prosecution often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence that might plausibly raise a suspicion of criminal activity, but which should not be sufficient to support a conviction.

How do you sum up the mindsets of the 150 victims and eye witnesses that you spoke to when it comes to lasting solutions to the crisis? At least to the majority of people you spoke to what are the prerequisites for peace?

We did not ask the question about conditions for peace. We noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia (!)

Protesters were marching with peace plans at the onset.The heavy handed response by Cameroonian authorities has empowered violent movements and created a climate of fear according to Amnesty International

Protesters were marching with peace plans at the onset.The heavy handed response by Cameroonian authorities has empowered violent movements and created a climate of fear according to Amnesty International

Drawing from lessons from other parts of Africa and the world, why do you think the international has remained largely indifferent to the crisis in Cameroon, how bad does it have to get before more is done on their part to help in finding solutions?

We do not believe the international community has remained indifferent. On the contrary, it did mobilized and was at times vocal. This is definitely thanks also to the powerful diaspora, how it played out its messages and sometimes its propaganda. We think that there was definitely less attention about the Boko haram conflict, despite the scale, amount, gravity of HR violations committed by the security forces in the fight against Boko haram was way bigger than what we have seen in the N and S west.

What were some of the challenges involved in the production of the reports, how risky was it for those providing you information or associates of yours in the country who participated in compiling the report?

Access to the South and North West was limited / restricted and we had to find alternative/creative ways to collect and verify info, using for example satellite imagery to assess the scale of destruction of certain villages, as we were not able to go physically there

What next for Amnesty International in Cameroon after this report?

We’ll continue to monitor the situation on the ground, collect info about human rights violations and violence. We will follow up on the recommendations outlined in the report with both the Cameroonian authorities and the international partners of Cameroon, through advocacy, campaigning and lobbying.

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The developing world is an easy target for populists – Kofi Annan
May 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006 and is a co-recipient with the U.N. of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He sat down with The WorldPost editor-in-chief Nathan Gardels for an interview, which has been condensed and edited for clarity. This interview originally appeared in the Washington Post on 10 May 2018.

There has been much debate about democratic dysfunction in the advanced world due to paralyzing polarization exacerbated by fake news and social media manipulation. Isn’t this also an issue in the fledgling democracies of the developing world, from Malaysia to Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere?

Kofi Annan: Yes. Inequality and the aftermath of the financial crisis, in which many have been left behind, is driving polarization in other parts of the world, including the countries you mention, just as it is in the West.

In both advanced and developing nations, we are threatened by forces exploiting fears and misgivings for political gain, and they are driving communities apart. As long as inequality and other social problems plague us, populists will try to exploit them. A report my foundation just released on Southeast Asia identifies populism, illicit electoral financing and the politics of identity as the biggest threats to democracy locally and regionally. Social media certainly acts as a catalyst and booster for such polarization, but it is often just as present in traditional media.

WorldPost: If even long-standing Western democracies are struggling with their own legitimacy and the appeal of demagogues or authoritarian leaders, aren’t the challenges all the greater in the developing world?

Annan: Developing and newer democracies are much more susceptible to the tactics of populists and demagogues — they often do not have strong institutions, free press or the infrastructure required to defend their nascent democracies.

That is why we need to safeguard the institutions that have been built to prevent blatant twisting of truths that erode trust in our elections and ultimately in democracy itself. My primary focus these days is promoting the legitimacy of democracy by ensuring the integrity of elections, whether from traditional threats, such as too much money in politics, or newer threats arising with the digital age.

If citizens do not believe they can change their leaders through the ballot box, they will find other ways, even at the risk of destabilizing their countries.

WorldPost: You visited Silicon Valley last week to look at how to curb the negative impact of social media on democracy. What was your takeaway?

Annan: No single solution or actor can deal with the complex and interrelated challenges to electoral integrity arising from manipulated data, hate speech and fake news.

These phenomena are not new; they have been part of electoral cycles since the advent of democracy. However, the unique manner in which social media and other technologies are being used to amplify the impact of these tactics in electoral cycles across the globe is a real concern. The speed, reach and volume that social media gives to fake news, disinformation and hate speech erodes trust in institutions and even in the electoral process itself.

It was also clear to me that these developments are challenging the fundamental social contract between voters and those who govern them. We require new mechanisms and frameworks — partly regulatory, partly based on new technologies and partly educational — to restore trust in electoral processes and elected leaders. That trust can only be built if political figures, tech leaders and citizens themselves work together to design these frameworks.

To give just one example, when I spoke before an audience at Facebook, I suggested they should organize a sort of a rapid response team to be called into a situation when it is clear that bots, trolls or fake news are evident. The team could alert electoral commissions or other authorities to offer advice on how to stop the problem before it gets out of control.

The challenge for all of us is to harness the opportunities of the digital age while mitigating the risks. I am encouraged by the people I met in Silicon Valley who were supportive of the idea of creating a commission supporting electoral integrity in the digital age. My foundation will soon launch such a global commission to address these urgent issues in all democracies.

*Source: Kofi Annan Foundation

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2019: ‎Defeating Buhari will take exact reversal of Bola Tinubu and others — Dr. Okupe
May 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

* Says: ‘‎Nigeria is in a state of anomie and there is need to safe our democracy. ‎’

 

* ‘Mindless killings in Nigeria ‎are typical of ISIS operations.

By Ajayi Olayinka

Dr. Doyin Okupe is the Nigeria’s South west leader of Accord Party and was a Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. ‎In an interview with Pan African Visions. Dr. Okupe bore his mind on recent declaration by President Buhari to seek reelection come 2019 and the likely implications of this decision on the existential well-being of Nigerians.

What’s your reason for leaving the PDP to have pitched tent with the Nigeria Coalition Movement led by Olusegun Obasanjo 

I left the PDP because I fundamentally disagreed with what was going on in the party. More importantly,  the nation is in a state of anomie and there is actually a need for patriots to find a way to safe our democracy. Yes,  Obasanjo is like a political godfather to me. I believe in him and I also trust him. If there is a nationalist in Nigeria, Obasanjo is one and I believe that he mean well for Nigeria. You may not like his style, but we need to look beyond the surface. CNM is a brilliant idea and to every discerning mind,  it’s absolutely impossible to oppose the incumbent and a towering figure like President Mohammadu Buhari and hope to win. To defeat Buhari will take exact reversal of Bola Tinubu and others were able to do with APC. A broad platform encompassing the political majority in the country must be put together to present a candidate to contest against Buhari with the hope of being able to win. To that extent, the coalition that Obasanjo is leading is what I’m proud to be a part of and I’m part and parcel of it. Even though I’m the South west leader of Accord Party. As a party,  we identified with that movement and we hope to come to a working relation in not too distant future.

Chief Rasheed Ladoja a former leader of Accord Party is now back in the PDP, how do you reconcile that?

There is nothing to reconcile really.

The primary motive of Chief Ladoja at his age is to look for way to wrestle power from the ruling party in Oyo state which he had tried so often and has not been able to satisfactory do in recent time. I have held meetings with him and he figures out that unless he is able to put together a Coalition,  he may not be able to confront the APC machinery. And in doing so, majority of the tendencies in Oyo state were tilting towards the PDP. I was there in one of the meetings when a delegation from Oyo state came to him to lead them into the PDP. They believe that is the only way to unite and take power from the APC. He conceded and that was why he went to the PDP.  But I don’t think he is well treated in the PDP. You really cannot say he is in PDP now. He is more or less in a limbo now. He is not in PDP and not out of of PDP. But I know for a fact that they are looking for ways to achieve their original objective.

What is your take on the spate of killings in the country? 

I’m perplexed that something profoundly evil is going on in the country. The frequency and viciousness of the attack is confounding. What is more perplexing is that we cannot really say the same of efforts from the government to counter this evil. I have said it to many people and on my social media platforms that this is beyond Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes. I may be wrong. It no longer make sense to assume that. I don’t think President Buhari was out of order, perhaps he didn’t put it well when he said these are people trained by Ghadaffi. What he probably had meant to say was that people that were trained in Libya had come down and are wrecking havoc in our system.  That would have been more credible. There is also a shade of opinion that what we are seeing is a break away faction of Boko Haram that has actually teamed up with ISIS. The signature we are seeing in these attacks is mindless killings, arson and massive destruction. This is so typical of ISIS operations. It is better for us as Nigerians and those who lead us to term with this reality. They will not want to sound alarmed that we are not through with Boko Haram yet and we now have ISIS which may bring panic. Let us speak the truth and let the devil be ashamed. We have ISIS operating in Nigeria and it is another form of extreme Islamic fundamentalism in a very vicious and dangerous form. If you look at it,  Boko Haram is located in the North East and not going beyond the zone. But if you see what is going on now, we have some very serious attacks in Benue, Jos, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano, Kogi, Edo and Ekiti. That is no longer Fulani herdsmen attack. By my own understanding, the Fulani herdsman is very protective of his herds. He overreaches himself in the provision of food and water for the herds. I don’t see a Fulani man after having fed his cows and burn the farm in which the cows have eaten and go to the villagers that own the farms to kill and burn them. It doesn’t make any sense. That has gone beyond tendering cattle. The herdsmen tendering cattle is something that anti dated time and history. It is something that is beyond 400-500 years. It has been from the time we existed here. These Fulani go around west Africa with their cattle in search of food and water. This metamorphosis into armed militia. If strange, it is not in conformity with what we have. And it is a misnomer to say there is a Fulani /farmers clash. A clash is when one group fights another. No farmer is clashing with herdsmen here. Now it’s the militias that are not just killing farmers, but going to churches to kill priests and worshippers. What has that got to do with Fulani herdsmen? There is more fundamental matter here, and the earlier the government looks into it the better. Unfortunately, the government is headed by a Fulani and tend to protect the image of other Fulanis that they are not killers and get prejudiced in what they do. But there is no need to protect what is not true. If there is anything to protect, it should be the lives and properties of Nigerians. Impression is being given that it’s Fulani people that are involved in the mayhem. So government must try as much as possible to remove this toga, otherwise it will not be in the interest of everybody. In any case, if we are not able to put an end to this murderous activities of the terrorists, it will put an end to our peace (God forbid).

Has the President acted Right in nation’s interest concerning the transfer of unappropriated fund to the United States for the purchase of Tukano helicopters ?

The purchase of the helicopters was something that originated from the National Assembly.  It was when a team from the United States visited the National Assembly that this idea was bounced from their discussion. Those who defend the government on account that there is a Supreme Court judgement that declared the Excess Crude Account as an illegal account. Therefore any withdrawal from it should  not follow legal process; as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t make sense. Two wrongs does not make a right. If you say it does not need to follow legal process, why then does the President recently write to the National Assembly to put it in the budget? As far as I’m concerned,  that’s an admission of guilt. The relationship between the executive and the legislator is always frosty and this is not peculiar to Nigeria. I have served under two presidents and I have gone through this.  The executive must go out of their way to court the legislature. It’s got nothing to do with pride. A Yoruba proverb says it is a man that has purpose in life that will work towards the successful implementation of his purpose. “Alatise la mo atise are e “.  It is the executive that executes projects,  but the power to give approval for execution of the projects resides with the legislative houses. The dexterity of the executive to come to consensus with the legislature is what will show the proficiency of those that head the executive in their jobs. Personally,  I’m extremely very proud of this 8th senate. And I believe sincerely that they have done more to protect democracy than their previous counterparts. In the moment of severe stress when the president was ill and even friends of this administration wanted the president removed, the Senate stood their grounds to stabilize the country. They stood as bulwark and did not allow our thinking and frustrations to override them emotionally.  I must give a lot of commendation to Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President. In my opinion, he is the most cerebral of all the Senate Presidents we have had. We have in him a quintessentially sane, focused and cerebrally balanced young man that has the control and respect of his colleagues. If not for that fact,  we would probably be in much more serious trouble by now. Look at what happened last week when people genuinely raised the expenditure of the executive without consent of the National Assembly. It is an impeachable offence as a matter of fact, sentiment apart. But look at the dexterity and maturity that was applied by the Senate President that was devoid of indecorous behavior because of the confidence that his colleagues repose in him. He was able to manipulate and douse the tension by taking the issue to Judicial Committe. That is the hallmark of a true nationalist and a leader. This is a man that is being vilified by the same executive. I don’t think leadership comes better than that. Having said that,  the executive needs to do much more. It has nothing to do with personality clashes. The three arms of government are on equal pedestals.  Talking about non passage of budget, I read that heads of the MDP have refused to defend their budgets. Someone should have given them a marching order if they had taken their jobs seriously and that was what the president did. And they are about rounding up the job now. I have implicit faith, confidence and I’m proud of this senate and National Assembly in general. We are in a safe hands with them.

What is your take on the allegation that Saraki is overbearing and always looking for slightest opportunity to take on the presidency 

Saraki to me is not overbearing. He is only decisively focused.

How come he now has an opportunity to allow the impeachment process to go ahead but stopped it?  How come he did not constitute a medical team to visit the president in London when he was sick to determine if he was fit to continue? What they have done is to ensure that the legislature is not a rubber stamp of the executive. That is not what is intended by the constitution. I see Saraki as an intelligent and patriotic democrat who is firm and focused. Any leadership  that is not firm and focused is useless. If you must lead you must show the way and in showing the way you must be firm. This person has shown strength, intellect, capability and popularity amongst his colleagues.

The Omo-Agege saga has been described as an assault on the nation’s democracy,  do you agree with this?

The Omo-Agege saga is what any right thinking Nigerian must condemn. It is indecent, indecorous, condemnable and beyond reason. When we continue to compromise our institutions and they become ineffective, we can no longer keep complaining. What happened on that day is a memory that God should blacken out of our minds. It is the height of ignominy and if Omo-Agege is someone that has self respect, he should by himself leave the senate. If I was from his district, the man will not be worth toilet paper in my eyes. Contrary to people’s belief, he was not suspended because of the reordering of elections sequence,  he was suspended for taking the senate to court. He came to apologize on the floor of the senate for certain thing he did wrong and went to court on the same matter. There are certain issues that we must not allow partisanship to erode our conscience because those who are there today may not be there tomorrow. But the institutions will remain. What is not good is not good. Omo-Agege’s action and those who backed him did a terrible injustice to the sacredness of the red chamber.

What  is your stand on Senator Dino Melaye who jumped out of a moving police vehicle?

I think the police is overreacting on Dino Melaye’s case. Dino is just an individual who has problem with the governor of his state. If the impression is being given that the governor can manipulate the entire police force to humiliate and completely hound down his political enemy,  then I’m sorry for this country. Forget about anybody jumping down or not, if you are driving me to place where I am going to be given HIV injection,  I will jump through anything. We do not know the circumstances he found himself at the time. Such decision will be taken if he realizes that he would be a dead man in a couple of minutes.  What I’m saying is that the machinery that has been assembled  to humiliate and dehumanize Dino Melaye is commendable. If we do that for more vicious enemies of democracy, Nigeria will be a better place to live in. Why is it that we always use power of government to hit and demolish opposition of government who do not in any way threatens the existence of government. Militias have killed thousands of people in Zamfara, Benue and Taraba states in the last two year and no record of one of them being apprehended. The police in this matter have overreacted and used excessive force which in itself is almost a crime. We need to hear from Dino Melaye to know his fears and why he jumped out of the vehicle.  A man that jumped out of a moving vehicle has a chance to die. He must have weighed the options either to die sitting in the vehicle or to live if he does not die after jumping down. The man had simply chosen a fairer option out of the two.

How will you rate the administration of President Buhari ?

The fact that the administration has not done well is obvious and I am not going to do an overkill. President Buhari came in on a very high ethical standard that he is a man of integrity, he will fight corruption,  quench the insurrection in the North East and provide good governance. But the government has failed on all the four pedestals.  But I found it a bit difficult to judge him because of my background as a trained medical doctor. I have suffered life threatening illness myself and under the condition,  nothing else mattered to me except my survival. When a man that is so sick like Buhari doesn’t do well, I find it extremely difficult to condemn him because of my background as a medical doctor. Perhaps if things were the other way round, he may have performed better. If he spent 150 days out 360 days in the hospital, that is really serious. I will not stand here and condemn a man that went through life threatening illness. We all saw Buhari practically dying and God resuscitated him. On the platform which he came in, he has failed woefully. But my mind is telling me that the man is not that bad and that the problem he has is his ill health. That is why I wrote an article and advised the man being a great man that God has been very kind to not to contest for second term. All his popularity, reputation and cult like followerhip will pale to nonesense if he recontest and his health cannot carry him. I wish him well and I pray that God will give him strength in this remaining period of his tenure to finish well and end well. But he will be stretching his luck too far if he attempts to go beyond that. Age and good health are not on his side. A man should not volunteer to rule or be forced on a nation at the lowest point of his existence in which Buhari is now. I can say this authoritatively because I am a doctor. Buhari should aspire to end as a father figure in this country and I will personally applaud him for that. I will even canvass that everyone should put partisanship aside and support him to finish well and give him a grand exit. We do not have any father figure in this country. All our leaders have either destroyed themselves or we destroyed them. Let us preserve Buhari as historic legacy. But Buhari’s ambition to go for a second term and continue in office will be a threat to the existential wellbeing of Nigerians and corporate existence of the country.

There has been clamour for not too young to rule, do you foresee a young man with integrity taking over from Buhari ?

(Laughed) Youth taking over in 2019 is far fetched and unlikely because our youths are just getting involved in national affairs. Look at Sowore, Fela Durotoye and so many of them that are just coming up. But we must realize that this country is so big and complicated that we need the exuberance of the youths and experience of the old. It is the combination of these two that will augur well for this country. But we must encourage the youths. The only reason why I am in Accord Party is to make it a platform for young people to come and become what they want to be. The party is practically new and the positions are not stratified. Our major job now is not to contest or run for any office. But we want to hold the ladder so that young people can steadily climb. I have got nine children and it will be in my interest that they will find a decent country to live. This can only happen if those of us with knowledge and experience will allow the younger generation to climb on our back and hold the ladder for the youth to climb to the top while we support them.

 

What should Nigerians expect from the Nigeria Coalition Movement?

 

This coalition is not against Buhari.  If it against the president I’m not interested. This coalition is to promote democracy, good governance and to bring competence and fear of God into administration. It is also to create a space for the younger generation to come up. The coalition is not against APC. Rather it is to broaden the base of participation to allow majority of Nigerians to come in and take part in the destiny of their nation. Nigerians should expect from this coalition a very broad spectrum of political opinions and formations. We are going to bring together a majority of political conclaves in the country. Even though we recognize that the APC has not done well, the fact that Buhari is going to contest again; we fear that it may not auger well for the country. We are creating this coalition since we are relying on votes. We plan to bring more Nigerians together and allow them to participate in moulding the destiny of their nation. To allow APC to win means Buhari will continue and that’s not in the interest of Nigeria.

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GECAMINES’ Albert Yuma Sells New Mining Code To Washington
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
Gecamines Chairman Albert Yuma speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington,DC

Gecamines Chairman Albert Yuma speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington,DC

Albert Yuma Mulumbi says it was about time for Congolese to get a fair deal for its resources. The Board Chairman of the Congolese state mining company Gecamines was speaking in an interview in Washington, DC, where he was on a mission to market the new mining code that is saluted by Congolese, but scorned by foreign mining companies doing business in the country.

For long, foreign companies have exploited resources of the D.RC without the country gaining anything, said Albert Yuma. Gone are the days when the foreign companies will game the system with impunity to the detriment of the D.R.Congo, Albert Yuma said.

Yuma who had a presentation at the Atlantic Council, and met with Congressmen, and Senators on Capitol Hill, said Congolese were in full support of the mining deal. The civil society has been a leading proponent of reforms in the mining sector. Mining companies crying foul are doing so in bad faith, Albert Yuma said. For years some of them operated without paying taxes, or not paying what was expected of them. Some of them  declared losses year in year out, but if business is that bad for them, what is keeping them in the D.R.Congo , Yuma lashed?

On the content of the mining code, Albert Yuma says it plugs in the loopholes in 2002 code that made it so easy for companies to rake in all the profits for themselves while the D.R.Congo got little or nothing. With the new code, Yuma said companies will not be able to skip taxes, the D.R.Congo will have a stake in all super profits, and after about three to five years of business, companies will be expected to build a state of the art office in the locality where they do business, Albert Yuma charged. If the companies can build good office in other parts of the world they do business in, there is no reason why they should not do same in the D.R.Congo, Albert Yuma said.

While the new code has successfully scaled through much of the legislative schedule, efforts are speeding up to have enforcement mechanisms in place, Yuma said. Yuma, a prominent businessman, who heads the Congolese Federation of Employers, said the Mining Code will be respected by all,and defaulters will pay a huge price. Brought in to use his private sector experience to shore up the dwindling fortunes of GECAMINES, Yuma said he has told the existing mining companies that it will no longer be business as usual.

Everything is in the books and no penny is missing Albert Yuma reacted in laughter to reports from the Carter Center last year that GECAMINES could not account for some $740   million in income between 2011-2014.Accusing international NGO’s for sensationalism, Yuma said , there is nothing he and GECAMINES have to hide.

On the other investment opportunities in the D.R.Congo, Yuma said, people make the mistake of thinking that his country was all about mining. Agriculture is huge, with enormous investment potentials, Yuma said. Infrastructure and Energy also have big potentials, he said citing the example of the Inga damn. There is also great potential to invest in the environment especially with the huge rain forest reserves that the D.R.C has, Yuma said ,though he conceded that there is still much work to do on the investment climate.

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A True Natural Postcard, Despite All Its Political And Economic Troubles-Insight into Guinea-Bissau with Umaro Djau
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation, says Umaro Djau

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation, says Umaro Djau

For all its political, and economic troubles, Guinea -Bissau is one of the world’s true natural postcards, says Strategic Communications Specialist,and  Journalist Umaro Djau. While the chequered political past has had a toll on the development of the country, Umaro Djau thinks that there is every reason to be hopeful for the future of Guinea- Bissau. The economic potential is there, and with the right leadership to tap into the development zest of the youthful, and dynamic population, he believes that Guinea -Bissau will become the envy of many. From its history, to political, to social, and  to economic perspectives, Umaro Djau took time off to share insights on his country, Guinea- Bissau with PAV.

Mr. Umaro Djau, thanks so much for accepting to share perspectives on Guinea-Bissau for us. Very little is known or heard about Guinea Bissau, can you introduce the country for us?

Umaro Djau: I’ll start by giving you the practical answer that I usually give to people that I would occasionally meet – whether they’re co-workers, neighbors, or total strangers. Guinea-Bissau is located near Senegal, in West Africa. It shares borders with Senegal (to the North) and Guinea, commonly known as Guinea-Conakry (to the South). It’s a small Portuguese-speaking country with less than 2 million people. By comparison, it is always said that Guinea-Bissau is the size of Connecticut. If you want to be more specific, by size, Guinea-Bissau is the 13th smallest country in Africa, with little bit over 36 thousand square kilometers or almost 14 thousand square miles. We’re a low-lying country located on the North Atlantic coast, with more than 80 islands, not to mention our rain forests, swamps, and wetlands. Those natural fixtures and wonders make Guinea-Bissau an amazingly beautiful country to live and visit. A beautiful tropical postcard, if you wish.

 We will get into more specifics later, but how is life like in the country and what are some of the things that are peculiar to the people of Guinea-Bissau?

Umaro Djau: Like many other West African countries, people in Guinea-Bissau have coexisted for many centuries, sharing common ancestry, history, struggles, but also being able to live side by side, despite many ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences. I told you about the small size of the country a short while, but the most amazing thing is that, in that small territory there are over 20 ethnic groups, practicing different religions or other traditional beliefs.  Guinea-Bissau is a country where there is no hegemony when it comes to its national identity, despite five centuries of European presence and influence. So, socio-culturally and linguistically speaking, it’s a nation in construction with Muslims, Christians, and people of other beliefs, beautifully coexisting and living side by side in peace.

Countries like Cape Verde, which are similar to Guinea-Bissau in many respects, are doing relatively well economically. What is the situation in your country and how is the economy doing ?

Umaro Djau: I’m glad you mentioned Cape Verde, which shares a common history with my home country. Cape Verdeans and Bissau-Guineans are brothers and sisters with common history and ancestry. Politically speaking, there are very few examples in the world where one political figure is a national hero for two independent and separate nations. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde share our beloved Amílcar Lopes Cabral, the figure that led their struggle and fight for independence from Portugal. But today, unfortunately, we fail by comparison in so many aspects, particularly in the economy and in politics. Cape Verde has been a viable country – politically and economically — even within the broader African context.

If you were to ask almost anyone in Guinea-Bissau, they would tell you that our economy has been negatively impacted by the never-ending political and military crises since the beginning of the 1980s, when the first coup d’état took place, just seven years after the country’s unilateral independence from Portugal. Here and there, Guinea-Bissau has known some periods of economic growth, but these bright and brief phases have been often overtaken by one crisis after another.As the economists would tell you, political and military stability are the currencies for any economic growth. As a result, Guinea-Bissau has lacked an environment conducive to foreign and private investments due to constant fear of a potential military and political outburst. This lack of foreign and good private investments is probably the reason why agriculture still accounts for over 50 percent of the national’s GDP. And cashew exports have been leading the chart. But, if you want to put it into a greater context, it is believed that two out of three Bissau-Guineans find themselves below the absolute poverty line. According to World Bank, the current international poverty line, is about $1.90 per day. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, I’m quite sure that a clear majority of its population live with under one dollar per day. So, no matter what current national statistics tell you about the annual national growth, it’s obvious that people in Guinea-Bissau are living under extreme poverty. Thankfully though, Bissau-Guineans are very resilient people.

To Umaro Djau,Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe

To Umaro Djau, Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe.

In follow up  to what you have just described, are there opportunities for foreign investors, and how is the investment climate in the country?

Umaro Djau: Absolutely. There are plenty of opportunities not only for potential foreign investors, but also from those within the country. Look, Guinea-Bissau is a raw country. Raw in the sense that we have so many areas in need of some economic input; areas that – should I say – are screaming for investments. Agriculture, health, education, fishery, infrastructure, energy, electricity, tourism, etc. I do recognize however, that for us to attract any small or big investor, the country needs to be seen as a viable place to invest. But, it is going to take more than improving the perception itself. It is of utmost importance to create conditions and guarantees that investors will have a just return for their initial or consequent investments. Thus, there is a great need to improve and strengthen the country’s policies and institutional support for those who are seriously considering investing in Guinea-Bissau. Unfortunately, when I look around the country, I see a lot of foreign and regional companies trying to sell their products, but rarely do I see long-term investors. I also see a lot of seasonal traders, whether they are buyers of raw cashews or timber, flocking the country for their short-term business goals. Guinea-Bissau needs to change all that by coming up with better policies and institutional frameworks that would attract and retain quality-investors, which in turn, would benefit the country through capital gains and jobs creation.

You briefly spoke about tourism. For those who have never visited the country, how much of a tourist destination is Guinea Bissau? What’s there to see and are there guarantees for the safety and security of people who visit?

Umaro Djau: Guinea-Bissau can become a major tourism destination in West Africa, particularly for those traveling from Europe. Its proximity, climate, coastal areas, natural wonders, sandy beaches and its overall weather conditions constitute the country’s strengths when it comes to attracting those seeking a place to enjoy their personal or family vacations. I remember mentioning the country’s landscape beautifully sprinkled with over 80 islands. That’s in the Bijagos, the heartland of Guinea-Bissau’s touristic paradise. Not only does the archipelago offer  its sandy beaches, but also a great diversity of fauna and some rare and protected sea species, something that would certainly attract many ecological tourists.

Everywhere you go, the country would give you something to enjoy. For instance, there are many beautiful natural parks (Lagoon of Cufada, Cantanhez Forest National Park), among other national wonders, some fortresses, old colonial cities and monuments. So, whether you’re attracted to urban settings or rural ones, you’ll certainly find something exciting to do in Guinea-Bissau. And here’s something many don’t mention, people in Guinea-Bissau are very kind and nice. They’re welcoming. They’re friendly. I know that I’m sounding like a TV commercial, Guinea-Bissau is a true, natural postcard, despite all its political and economic troubles.

Obviously, the tourism sector is often vulnerable in a developing country due to lack of infrastructures and other key public services. In that front, Guinea-Bissau needs to improve things like roads, hospitals and the health system in general. Add to that reliable transportation between the main city and other cities and/or regions. The biggest challenge is traveling to and from all those islands. They ought to be serious government and private investments to facilitate those connections. As for communication, it’s widely recognized that the country has made important gains, most specifically in the telephone through two private phone carriers. However, the Internet is still at its infancy but it’s enough to get by.

You mentioned the issue of security. Yes, security is a major concern for any country, particularly considering the concerns about international terrorism and other forms of violence. What I can tell you is that crime level is substantially low in Guinea-Bissau. And there haven’t been any reported cases of violence against foreign tourists as far as I know. That’s very encouraging to me and many Bissau-Guineans.

 

Umaro Djau says the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives

Umaro Djau says the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives

For a country of about two million, how can you explain the complex political history that it has had?

Umaro Djau: I don’t think the country’s historical complexities are really the issue here. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde fought a heroic war for independence, something that is widely and internationally recognized as a triumph against their common colonial power, Portugal. Many historian and political analysts would agree that the way Guinea-Bissau was ruled following its independence dictated the paths that followed. In a way, I think you’re also correct because many African countries, Guinea-Bissau included, have been ruled in accordance with the political ideologies of their freedom political parties. Having been through an armed-conflict, the country could not easily distant itself from a military-type of rule, following its independence. That historical reality clouded every political decision afterwards and led to many internal conflicts. All that said, I also believe that Guinea-Bissau is going through a profound period of social adjustment. But the risk is that – intentionally or not — this “social adjustment” is being rushed by the political atmosphere, instead of a normal socioeconomic evolution, coupled with one’s educational and professional accomplishments. However, in Guinea-Bissau, people are trying to gain their “status” through reliance solely on politics.

What impact has this checkered political past had on the development of the country?

Umaro Djau: The impact of that political past is beyond what people outside the country would imagine. Just think about it: for almost two decades, Guinea-Bissau was ruled by a single-party system. A single-party system that controlled everything – the presidency, the government, the national assembly, the military, the police, the security agencies, the court system and so on. Everything was embedded on that single-party system and dictated by it. Without the proper accountability and rule of law, public servants were forced to embrace a culture of blind loyalty to the ruling elite, whose political party became the most important leverage for anyone to survive. This political culture became the foundation of the country and hindered any hope for development – as corruption and lack of transparency became the new norm.

Umaro Djau believes that President Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him

Umaro Djau believes that President Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him

How has the current leader fared so far, where has he done well and where has he had shortcomings?

Umaro Djau: Note that Guinea-Bissau is technically a democratic country since 1991 and our political system encourages a separation of power between many branches of the state, government, and the head of state. So, we do not have a single “leader” per say. According to our Constitution, we have what’s known as a semi-presidential system. We have the president, the head of government and the legislative branch, locally-known as the National Assembly.

However, today the biggest political (and intellectual) debate revolves around what can be the best system of government for Guinea-Bissau. For instance, President Jose Mario Vaz is being accused of usurpation of power, extending his political powers beyond his constitutional boundaries. There is also a fair criticism of the current President of the National Assembly, Cipriano Cassama, who is accused of blocking the normal functioning of that institution.

In the mix of all of that, the major political parties are playing their cards to defend or protect their interests. As expected in situations like these, each party is offering their own arguments. And all this against a backdrop of more than three years of political crisis, despite all the actions of many international and regional organizations – the UN, the ECOWAS, and the African Union – which have tried to bring about common understanding among the major political players.

In my humble opinion, the head of state has had so many political shortcomings. Mr. Jose Mario Vaz has not been the problem-solver and has not offered the required leadership that the country had hoped for from him. Just think about it, the country has had 6 heads of government since mid-2014. The president has just announced the 7th prime-minister in less than 4 years, as a result of the latest political agreement in Lome, Togo, under the sponsorship of the regional organization, the ECOWAS. That’s a lot to comprehend and digest! But, more than ascertaining his constitutional powers, I think that this shows his inability to lead and exert his influence in a positive manner. As US President Truman’s desk sign would remind his fellow Americans and visitors, “The Buck Stops” with the president. It means basically that one, particularly a head of state, cannot refrain from their constitutional responsibilities and obligations.

When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world,says Umaru Djau.

When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world, says Umaro Djau.

 How accurate are reports that the country has been a major transit road for drugs, anything the authorities are doing change this perception?

Umaro Djau: These reports go as far back as the year of 2005, having reached its climax around 2012, when the last coup d’état took place. It is generally believed that the situation has improved thanks partially to pressure and pragmatic actions from outside countries, including the United States, as well as other international organizations. It’s hard to keep up with reports on drug trafficking, but now that the Guinea-Bissau’s military and the security forces seem to be exerting less political power and less influence, drug traffickers may be challenged as they attempt to find traffic routes and protection in the country. Geographically – particularly for those coming from South and Central America — it’s almost impossible to prevent local, regional and international traffickers to pass through the national territory. It’s my hope that the country has learned its lesson from the past. Most importantly, it’s a matter of national security. With that in mind, we have an obligation to take this issue seriously. After all, being called a narco-state is a hard pill to swallow for many Bissau-Guineans, and also as a matter of national proudness and moral imperative, there has been a great deal of self-awareness to unlink the country from that term, at least at the state level.

On the other hand, as you may be aware, drug trafficking is not always directly correlated to levels of development of a country or the existing legal systems; So, this is not only a Guinea-Bissau’s problem. It’s a world problem. Guinea-Bissau will just need to do its part and remain cautious and firm in combating any illicit drug trafficking within its borders.

When you look at the country, what makes you hopeful for its future, and what are your fears, and if we may add, what kind of leadership does the country need to catch up countries like Cape Verde which are making faster progress?

Umaro Djau: There are so many aspects of Guinea-Bissau that make me very hopeful.  Starting with our people, the most important resource for any country – rich or poor. When compared to other countries, Guinea-Bissau has a very young population, most of it ranging from 25 to 45 years of age. So, we have the human energy. Now, we have to make sure that we’re able to educate our youth and equip them with knowledge, academic, professional and technical training, so that they’re able to be an integral part in today’s workforce.

My biggest fear is that the current unemployment rate may trigger other problems such as delinquency and crime. But again, if we seriously invest in educating and training our youth, they’ll find their right place in our society. For that to happen, Bissau-Guineans must have the courage to choose the right leaders, leaders who can transform the current challenges into new and bright opportunities for all.

When I look through Guinea-Bissau’s political spectrum, I see a lot of political players who really have no clue about what their functions and responsibilities are. Political players who do not seem to care about the people and the country. The only thing that moves them is their personal interests. We must change that. When we’re finally able to put the right people in the right places, Guinea-Bissau will find its deserving place in Africa and in the world.

My hope is that the youth will be able to fight the fears of the unknown and really embrace the need for profound changes, starting with the country’s political situation. After that, I strongly believe that everything else will fall into place. The country will be able to takeoff. And the resources are there to sustain that political and economic environment when it finally arrives. Yes, I’m hopeful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”-2019 Presidential Hopeful Sam Okey Mbonu
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria

Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria

“If the corrupt politicians will set aside their greed, the people will drive Nigeria into the 21st-century,” says Sam Okey Mbonu as he touts his credentials in warm up to the 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria. The Nigerian born, Washington, DC, trained head of the Nigerian –American Council says doing nothing is not an option when inept leadership continues to plunge Nigeria into a spiral of economic stagnation, religious intolerance, and militancy. Interviewed in Washington, DC, by PAV, Sam Mbonu says the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under his administration.

Who is Sam Okey Mbonu and why is he in the race to be the next President of Nigeria?

Sam Mbonu:  I’m Nigerian-born, and a Washington DC-trained professional.  I attended American University Washington DC, as a Visiting Scholar, and received my JD in Law from the District of Columbia School of law.  Post law school, I worked briefly as Senior Advisor for a US Government Contractor, before being appointed “Commissioner, Housing Authority, PG, Maryland”.  At the end of my term in government, I leveraged my exposure to Housing policy, to enter the private sector; before shortly co-founding the think-tank NAL Council, whose focus was on US policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa policy.  I have since become a highly sought after expert, providing strategic advisory to US public and private institutions regarding Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why are you in the race to be the next President of Nigeria and may we know the thought process that led to your decision?

Sam Mbonu:  Firstly, I’ve been preparing for this race for the past 8 years (may be longer).  There were times I contemplated just settling into a good life in the US and tuning out all the cacophony of strife in Nigeria; however, the whole world has progressively become one village, and what happens in one region affects other regions, whether it’s insecurity or public health issues. 

So I figured since the need for public service that will positively impact a greater number of people is greater in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria.  Therefore, I decided that I would follow my passion for human upliftment, and public service, to help lift Nigeria out of the chaos the leaders have foisted on the people. 

Secondly, the whole world has watched as Nigeria has descended hopelessly into strife, religious intolerance, militancy, and economic stagnation, which leads to a circle of arrested development; which was caused by recent incompetent leadership. 

It is my mission to prove that Nigeria can be salvaged.  I will do this by bringing my world-class credentials, experience in US public service, expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa matters and relationships in the US and around the world over the past 3 decades, to run Nigerian competently and move the country into the 21st Century.

What is your assessment of how Nigeria has fared under President Buhari?

Sam Mbonu:  Terrible, terrible, terrible!  I, like many other people in Nigeria’s 37th state-the Diaspora, had great hopes that President Buhari will not only stem the tide of corruption, which was already running rampant, but would also reposition the country for economic growth, through the roll-out of sufficient infrastructure, especially in Electric Energy among others.  However, what we and the world has seen is a nation that has slid so dangerously to the edge, that insecurity has returned to a full-blown nightmare, especially in Northeast, and Northcentral Nigeria.

Economic growth has been stifled by a lack of political will to deliver on the most basic engine of a modern society-Electric Energy!  You can imagine how many things grind to a stop when there is a weather related emergency that disrupts electricity in the US; now imagine that as an everyday occurrence in Nigeria.  Nigeria currently gets 4-5 hours of electricity every day, 365 days of the year.  Imagine how true business productivity is limited to only about 4 hours every day; machines stop running, food cannot be stored, traffic lights go out, heat stroke killing people, industries shutting down, vehicles and machines that cannot be serviced because power tools are down, etc.

My campaign has also determined that because President Buhari is unfortunately begotten by a corrupt process, by way of his close circle, whether he claims that he is not personally corrupt or not; however, being hamstrung by corrupt people makes him a “fruit of the poisonous tree” as it is called it in American jurisprudence.  He or she who eats of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” certainly will not be immune from the poison that the tree will offer. 

Therefore, the only option is to avoid that tree.  That’s why my government will be the government to bring the true change, because we are not tainted by affiliation to the poisonous tree.

His supporters say he inherited a mess and has made progress in fighting corruption they describe as rampant in the PDP days, what is your take?

Sam Mbonu:  We have not seen the progress, and the world has not seen the progress.  The 2 big parties in Nigeria have seen an exodus from one party to the other, depending on who’s in power.  He’s actually leaving the country worse than he found it.  The president is seriously hampered either by poor judgment, or incompetence, and the greatest thing is that he’s not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, whether they are northerners or southerners.  The man does not care at all.  If he was a caring president, would he hold a party one day after 72 people were massacred in Benue?  Or would he go to a lavish wedding one day after another 100 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram?  Would his police chief attempt to disarm everyone, except the herdsmen of Nigeria who actually carry weapons openly in Nigeria?

For all its potential , endowed with tremendous human and natural resources, Nigeria remains  giant with clay feet, how does Sam Mbonu plan to turn things around, tell Nigerians why and how you can turn things around when many other leaders have been unable to do so?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward.  In my administration, most critical infrastructure projects, including electric energy, water, and internal security, will be brought into the presidency as special projects.  That way, I and my presidency personnel can oversee those projects myself.  I will be accountable for those projects if government overseers fall short by compromising at the expense of the people.  I will have the political will to do what is right.  I just want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”.  The old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration.

Let’s try to dwell on a few policy perspectives now if you don’t mind, how do you fight corruption differently from the PDP and now the APC has approached it?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward as well.  Those parties are hampered by the corruption baggage they already carry, they cannot offload the baggage even if they wanted to; because they are tainted, and tied in intricate ways to again the “poisonous tree”.  I am not tied to the poisonous tree, and I can walk past it.  I will have the political will to execute projects, without being hampered by ties to the “poisonous tree”.

Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA

Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA

The power crisis needs no introduction, how does The Mbonu Presidency address this, in case Nigerians were to give you the mandate?

Sam Mbonu:  The previous answer addresses this matter in part.  I will deliver electric energy via special projects that will be executed by the office of the president.  That way, I can be held accountable if I fail.

For all the talk from the APC, when they were in the opposition, and now in power, security remains a serious challenge with Boko Haram still running riot, in what way will you handle the crisis differently from the last two administrations?

Sam Mbonu:  There is no real political will to take out Boko Haram, because even the actual official campaign against Boko Haram gets embroiled in corruption.  I’m sure you are aware that each time the country is about to engage in election, the government seeks $1 or $2 billion USD in the guise of fighting BH, even though they are planning to use the money for political campaigns.  My administration will mop up Boko Haram for good.

Under what platform will you running for the elections and do you think is possible to break the hegemony of the APC and the PDP?

Sam Mbonu:  My campaign is in discussion with 5 different political parties at this time.  We will ultimately affiliate with the one that best suits our ideological bent.  The millions of Nigerian citizenry are so disenchanted with the APC or PDP that they cannot wait to throw them out at the ballot box.

Do you have faith in the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission –INEC to organize free and fair elections?

Sam Mbonu:  Elections have evolved in Nigeria and so INEC is not as bad as it used to be.  However, we have determined that we will deploy human and technological capacity to watch our votes.  Every INEC official in the entire 774 Local councils in Nigeria will be watched to a microscopic level, he or she who attempts to compromise our votes will have no place to hide, not under the ground, not in the skies; we will beam the eyes of the world on Nigeria, and there will be hell to pay.  A corrupt INEC official might as well commit suicide, because we won’t let them spend any monies or benefits derived from a compromised election.

We are doing this interview from the USA, what structures do you have on the ground in Nigeria as your work on this presidential run?

Sam Mbonu:  37 State offices are being rolled out; sub offices in 774 Local Councils will be rolled-out, in addition to whatever our chosen party has by way of structure.

In terms of cost, Presidential elections are no joke, where will the resources come from to sustain the campaign?

Sam Mbonu:  The campaigns will obviously cost in the $100’s of millions USD, we will find the resources, but the campaign will not necessarily be won by the candidate who spent the most money.  The richest candidate has never become the president of Nigeria.  It almost happened in 1992 when Abiola was running but that got scuttled.  The “will of the people” is an equation that is ultimately more fundamental than money.  We will win this election, whether we spend in the $100’s of millions USD or not.

with former President  Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu

with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu

Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters who should be of the same generation like you has expressed interest to run as well, could the 2019 elections shape up as the revolt of the younger generation in Nigerian politics?

Sam Mbonu:  Maybe; I do not know Sowore personally, I only know of him as an Activist Journalist; his role as an activist has its place in any democracy, I welcome him to the race.  However, only one of us has the world-class credentials, to salvage the heart and soul of Africa’s largest democracy; and only one of us has been tested in public service, in the most rigorous democracy in the world, the United States of America. However, Omoyele Sowore has been a voice in rooting out corruption in Nigeria and it would be a shame to lose that independent voice, but, I enjoy competition. I believe, we see the issues in the same manner. I suspect we would agree on more things than we disagree upon.

Mr. Mbonu, one last question on the future of Nigeria as you see it, what gives you hope and what are your fears?

Sam Mbonu:  No fears, just the belief that the African giant will emerge under my administration to be a net contributor to the prosperity and security of Africa and the world at large.  That vision is as real as day follows night.  I have seen the light, and Nigeria is not going back to the darkness under me.  If we as Nigerians want to go back to the stone-age, then we will all have a say in the matter.  I assure you, we’re not going back to the stone-age.

Thanks for talking to Pan African Visions

Sam Mbonu:  You are welcome!!

 

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Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists  from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.

Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.

In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.

On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.

Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.

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Watch Out For Mali As An Investment Destination-API’s Moussa Toure
March 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

API's Moussa Toure talks Investment in Mali with PAV's Ajong Mbapndah L

API’s Moussa Toure talks Investment in Mali with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L

With the world still looking at Mali from the prism of security, Moussa Toure General Manager of the Mali Investment Promotion Agency (API in French) says it is time for the narrative to reflect the myriad of opportunities waiting with open arms for investors.

Talking to PAV on the side-lines of the recent Power Africa Summit in Washington, DC, Toure said as the security situation gets better by the day, now is the time for investors to take a fresh look at his country.

Mr. Moussa Toure Good afternoon, and welcome to Washington DC.

Thank You.

You are the Managing director of the Malian Investment Promotion Agency. Can you start by introducing the agency for us, what is it that the agency does?

Thank you for this opportunity, our main role is about promoting Mali as a good destination for investment and to do so, we work on the country’s image, especially with challenges the country is facing with political and Security problems, after that we work to identify investment opportunities, I clear them and find the good investors that can take those opportunities and invest in. When we have some investors interested in some sectors or projects, we assist them in all the process; source information, have meetings with key stake holders and help them ease the investment process. We also work to improve the business climate by leading some reforms.

Before we continue with investment, how is the security situation like in Mali today?

The security situation is still challenging, but it’s not only a problem of Mali, security issues are worldwide today, but Mali is part of that and what is also clear is that we are confident that the most difficult part  is behind us. The government is really engaged in taking all necessary actions to tackle this issue. For two years now, the government has been investing 15% of the budget into this activity to harmonize security, this is a big effort and it’s now paying off, it has taken time, but we already are beginning to see the fruits of these efforts.

So, if there were investors who are interested in coming to Mali security is not something that they should worry so much about?

I don’t think so.

Okay, how is the investment climate like in Mali?

The Investment climate is improving, we’ve hurdled to many reforms, we have implemented many in a couple of years, but we still have room for improvement. So this is our focus to still work to improve and facilitate business development and everything around that. As one of our last reform, the government has adopted a new PPPO to facilitate project development by private investors, so this is a good step in Mali.

To the investors out there in Europe, in Washington DC, where you currently are, if they were to come to Mali for investment what are some of the sectors that they should be on the lookout?

 for, what are some of the investment opportunities that you have in Mali today?

We are currently focusing our strategy on four main sectors, one is Agriculture, the second is livestock, the third sector is energy, and the last one is infrastructure. We also have the new technology as one of the priority investment sector, but we use it as a transversal sector, because for agriculture, for energy, any sector, you need technology. This is why we don’t list is as a specific sector, but among those four priority sectors we have also sectors we’ve used the opportunity like education, we focus our forces on the four sectors we are talking about; it is our proactive promotion activities.

And it understands that your API organized an investment forum in Mali last December.

Yes.

How did the forum go?

Quiet well, it was a big change we started to work on this project in 2015, because as I said the country faced political and security problems a few years before, and we saw that it was time to start new projects that will be a vehicle to speak on our country in a positive manner; so we started to work on it, and we were able to achieve our project in December. We held a forum on December 7 and 8 2017, and we attained all of our objectives. We were expecting 500 participants but finally got more than 1000, we were able to amass 70 million dollars in investment as a result of this forum. We had hundreds of B2B meetings, and around 50 Business deals self-driven B2B.

But, I will like to say more importantly of those concrete results, is the image we spread over the world, as I use to say during past years Mali use to be on TV, on newspaper for the wrong reasons; for bad news, but maybe for the first time since a long while Mali was the top of the news on good side; investment side. For me this is mainly one of the most important achievement we’ve made this far, so it was a good initiative and we recorded very good results.

Now, you are currently in Washington DC attending the fourth Annual Powering Africa Summit, how has the summit gone so far you, any interesting contact any  good deals in the works for you.

This is my first time of attending this forum, and I was referred by one of my friends who use to attend, and he told me that it’s really interesting, and I came with the curiosity to see. The first day showed me he was right because this forum is a platform where you can meet key actors in the sector which is strategic for all of the continent, and we meet actors who know the continent, they use to operate, they know the challenges and we already have many meetings, B2B meetings and very interesting meetings.

So, any other projects that the API would be working on in the course of the year, any other big project that you have now?

Through the forum, we collected and worked on more than 200 projects, some investment, some technical partners, different needs, and we have all those projects on our website. Some are private and public project or both and we are trying to assist the owners to have finance or technical partners, and we are also assisting the state governors to promote government projects, huge projects like the first bridge in Bamako, the construction of the river bank in Bamako is some interesting project, the roads, rail roads, so many projects currently going on.

Mr. Moussa Toure thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions

Thank you.

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African markets sensitive to cost – Ayoola, Tranter IT Boss
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

 Says: ‘African are weary of applications they can’t afford‎’

* ‘Companies spend million  on bandwidth they don’t need’

By Olayinka Ajayi

Peeved by organisations wasting millions on needless bandwidth, Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT, an African Infotech Technology company based in Nigeria, bare his mind on ways to earn foreign exchange using substantial, user friendly software among other issues.

Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT

Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT

Rating  challenges of InfoTech in Africa

IT in Africa has been very substantial in a way. If you recall, when Micro soft introduced their application into Nigeria, It required very skilled Engineers to make any progress at all. And most African  organisation encountered  lots of problem. With the amount of money you required to train Micro-Soft certified Engineers to deliver services to the enterprises . It was very substantial , and not easy for many organization to achieve. What Manage Engine did was to develop their application that simplifies the management and the operation of Micro-Soft applications and server. To manage Active Directories AD is a very complicating job. But with ManageEngine software you find managing AD very easy. We realize the need to simplify it so that the effectiveness of Engineers in Nigeria would be higher. With this, the development time of an engineer has been greatly reduced which mean the cost of developing that engineer has also been greatly reduced.

How app addresses challenges

Every organization has a challenge for occasion that comes up. Service Desk plus is a ManageEngine product that solves that problem. It makes it very easy to solve any problem that occur in an organization; either facility management incidence, hospital management, military incidence, government, oil companies, insurance manufacturing, hospitality among others. More efficiently, improve productivity especially from the support aspect of the network management aspect that would result to substantial cost reduction in I.T management that would bring a lot of suffiency to the enterprise. Those who have use the software have found out that 71percent of users can actually resolve issues themselves than relying on a technician. We also found out that 91 percent of I.T Engineers found out that they could do more jobs using Manage Engine softwear than they had done using other software. Manage Engine has over 90 different applications. What we find is that once you are dealing with a company like Trans I.T, the official distributor of ManageEngine in Nigeria, you are dealing with a company that knows the product , there is virtually no problem face an organization we cannot address with manage Engine Applications. Instead of addressing mundane issues such as resetting passwords. With the use of ManageEngine product, users can reset their password without any technician assistance.

Challenges companies encounter in Africa

The Challenge organizations encounter in Africa is negligence. Its needs to be address and nobody want to address challenge and another one comes up and nobody remembers to solve the It, Our software helps organization to manage and remember them. In term of your incident resolution, the Software define time limits in which problem needs to be resolved through defining the service level . Once the service level has been define, the product help you determine if you are doing well or not. Most companies are ignorantly paying for bandwidth they don’t need. Our product has an application that measures supplied bandwidth, what is required, what is needed and the reliability of the supplied bandwidth to your organization. Enabling you to come up with better plan on which service provider you should do business with. Can you imagine that companies are spending N 100,N200 million annually on bandwidth. Some companies are buying 20% more than they need, which is approximately N40million saving. With this analysis it is evident that manageEngine can save Nigerian companies from lose of huge amounts of money because these bandwidth cost is a foreign cost. With Tranter IT partnership with ManageEngine there is assurance of lots of foreign exchange that are cost effective.

Future of commerce and Industry in Africa

With Tranter IT partnership, I see Management Engine to be an house hold name in Africa’s commerce and industry as its addresses variety of challenges encountered running effective and smooth business. Simply because it makes life easier for everybody by reducing cost, increasing productivity and efficiency. In the last one year, the interest in Manage Engine has grown to 200%. We expect it to grow to 1000% in 2018 in Nigeria and the whole of Africa. Reason being that; three out of five companies in Nigeria are using ManageEngine products. So it’s a proven product that is tried and tested. We observed that our clients appreciate the product as it has solved most of their challenge. It like any new product, it takes time before it is generally acceptable. We are very happy to say its acceptance in Nigeria is growing very rapidly. But what we are doing to actualize the 2018 bench mark is by engaging what we called the ‘prove of consent’. We concentrate on delivering cost effective product by partnering with ManageEngine. We also observed Nigerians are tired of having wonderful applications that they can’t afford. We solved the problem by offering application Nigerians can afford.

Dynamism of doing business across Africa

The Nigerian and African market is tough because our environment is changing rapidly. The market is very sensitive to cost which determine what companies can afford . As an organization, if you are not dynamic and determine, you will find the African market very difficult and you could be out of business.

Being dynamic is the major key doing business in Africa. In other words, looking towards solving problems and not towards merely selling products like a traders. There is nothing wrong being a trader. What I meant is, assume the market can no longer absolve your product, your business goes down. So focus at solving problem. If you always solve problem you remain relevant always. That is what Tranter IT does, while we focus on identifying the problems our clients are experiencing, we design and implement solution to their problems. While other companies were retrenching, we have being growing, while others are reducing salaries, we ware increasing salaries .We love our customers and we are always interested in their prosperity. we will always be relevant because we always look for how to solve your problems.

Nigeria as a nation has challenges in different sectors and if your business provide solution to these challeges you cannot be out of work .But if your business is not providing solution then you have a lots of challenge to survive in that business. ManageEngine has solution to challenges . We are hoping that the markets would not shrink because irrespective of we offering solutions to IT related challenges, we are not involve in solving Macro economic challenges like; power and other related problems. As ingenious company, we take pride in what we do. When we do not have engineers with required skills, we send our engineers abroad to acquire skills rather than bring foreigners to be paid as expatriates. Our policy is to train Nigerian Engineers to compete with the rest of the world in Information Technology IT.

Affordable and user friendly of App

It time Nigerian companies start engaging software that do not require spending much time answering questions that are not necessary for business. Our application gives you the opportunity to add necessary customized ones that are unique to your organization. In terms of usability presently ManageEngine software is very easy and in term of the ability to customize applications, it’s very easy and extremely user friendly.

 

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Cameroon: No Solution To Crisis Without Dialogue & Correction of Historic Wrongs-Elie Smith
February 26, 2018 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Only dialogue and the reparation of historic justices can resolve the current crisis in Cameroon,says Elie Smith

Only dialogue and the reparation of historic justices can resolve the current crisis in Cameroon,says Elie Smith

It will be hard to get a solution to the ongoing crisis in Cameroon without dialogue and  repairing the historical injustices that Anglophones have  suffered for decades, says famed Journalist Elie Smith. In an exclusive interview with PAV to discuss the political situation in Cameroon, Elie Smith says the use of force by the government and flagrant human right violations are pushing the people to embrace the radicalist wing of the Anglophone crisis advocating for independence.

The President is obliged to sue for dialogue as the situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming pace, said Elie Smith. He called out the double standards of the international community which has largely remained indifferent as the North West and South West regions are under siege. Elie Smith urged Journalists to step up reporting on the plight of over 500 Anglophones detained in various prison facilities across the country in the interview which also discusses the presidential ambitions of Joshua Osih and Akere Muna

Elie Smith thanks for accepting to share perspectives on Cameroon with us as things are on the ground, let’s start with the North West and the South West Regions, what is your reading of the situation there?

Elie Smith: The situation in the North West and South west regions of Cameroon is dire. There is great suffering and gross abuse of human rights first by the Cameroonian security forces and also from the various armed groups who are variably known as restorationists and secessionists depending on where one stands ideologically. My view is that, this is the second greatest existential threat to Cameroon in her present dispensation since 1966. This one is much more lethal in that, the protest is not longer verbal or through peaceful marches, it has been weaponised. It will eventually fizzle out but not extinct. The actors will go back and retool their strategy and will come back better organize if the central government doesn’t find lasting solutions to the underlying causes of the current crisis.

Has internet connection been restored in the North West and South West?

Elie Smith: No! Because intermittent supply can’t be pass for full restoration of internet. However, people already know how to circumvent the ban.

Since Communications Minister Tchiroma announced the presence of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others in Yaoundé, there have not made any appearance in court, what has the astute Journalist that Elie Smith heard about them, anyone you know who has had any form of communication with them?

Elie Smith: Some of them are here in Yaoundé, in Chief Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. All I know from my sources is that, they are hale and hearty.

From my understanding, the government is carrying out preliminary interrogation and the next stage is that, their lawyers will certainly have access to them soon, but how soon? That I can’t answer. What is important is for his support to keep mobilizing.

 

It appears in some urban areas, schools have been going on and in the rural areas nothing is going on, any explanations for this dynamic?

Elie Smith: The reason is simple since we have a government that works on Public Relations stunts; they put all in urban areas to show to the western governments who are sadly supporting them that all is well. However in the rural areas the government finds  no interest and also because, contrary to what the government may want the world to understand or think, they are losing control in rural areas in West Cameroon and it doesn’t bode well for the future.

British Minister of State Harriett Baldwin was in Cameroon and met with a number of opinion leaders ,some of them well known to you, what were these discussions on and any prospects that anything positive may follow suit?

Elie Smith : The essence as I was told by Agbor Balla was to  get the true reality on the ground in terms of human rights violations, and also to source from them ways and means to seek a lasting solution to the  current crisis. Well, it is always good when one comes to listen to you. But, I don’t put any hopes in such because, western countries, especially Great Britain and even the United States have not thrown in their weight in compelling our government to seek a negotiated  settlement to the current crisis as they have done in other countries. My conclusion is that, they don’t care about us and it is left on us to understand that, we don’t have any other place to go, hence we need to try to sort out things for ourselves. In this crisis, while we are all angry, we must speak the truth. We are all Cameroonians and one part of Cameroon, the people of west Cameroon has been hoodwinked and the historic wrong must be corrected. Britain and the United States or any other country can’t tell us something different.

As the situation continues to grow worse, what role do you see moderate leaders like Agbor Balla and Ayah Paul playing, especially with no one listening to their proposals from the government side?

Elie Smith: Moderates are the ones who end up winning and history is replete with what I have just said. Agbor Balla and Ayah Paul know the dynamics of things. Even if the government is not listening to them, they will end up buying to their positions and propositions. Agbor Balla and Ayah Paul are in my humble opinion the best things in this Anglophone revolution because they are not merchants of illusions. It might be a difficult pill to swallow, but all we can get, is a return to a two states federation which is the foundation of modern Cameroon, that has been abused with impunity by the majority Francophone led government in Yaoundé. The package product of independence marketed by some is a wishful thinking. Why? The geostrategic dynamics of the region is not in our favour today just as it wasn’t in 1961.   No major country in the world is supporting the restorationists’ movement. West Cameroon is not in the position of Western Sahara, which is supported by Algeria and other African states. Nigeria, which would have been a natural ally, has absconded. But, make no mistake, what west Cameroonian is clamoring for is just. The only luck which can smile on west Cameroonians and make the dreams of those who want independence to actualize is for a civil war to break out in Cameroon and in that case, West Cameroon will behave like Somaliland and refuse to fight and allow Francophone Cameroon to fight their war. The rallying cry of going to Buea is feasible in that, in a return to two states federation, west Cameroon’s national assembly in Buea will be reactivated,  they will have control over their education, judicial system, health and internal affairs while defense and monetary issues goes or remains to the central government or federal government in Yaoundé.

The media must continue to beam the spotlight on the plight of over 500 anglophones detained in various prisons across the country because of the ongoing crisis

To Elie Smith,the media should continue  to beam the spotlight on the plight of over 500 anglophones detained in various prisons across the country because of the ongoing crisis

You recently interviewed Mancho Bibixy, in what shape was he when you met him, and generally speaking, how is legal representation for those detained? There was a complain since other high profile detainees like Balla and Fontem were release, there has been a sharp decline in Lawyers defending some of those who are still jail, your take.

Elie Smith: I met them at the Yaoundé military tribunal. As you may know, the day of their trial, they are brought in from 9 am and they spend the whole day there before the trial starts and it is immediately adjourned. Along with others that I also spoke with such as Terrance Penn Khan, I saw a man with a moral of steel. But detention is not an easy affaire and no matter how they brave it all, their unjust detention is having an effect on them and their families. Yes, there was this complain that since the high profile detainees were released, there was a kind of lull from lawyers. I don’t think so, because Agbor Balla and others are there regularly on trial and none trial days. What has ceased or reduced is the media attention that used to exist.

It is therefore an opportunity that you are offering me to call on all press men and women not forget that, there are about 149 Anglophones detained at the Kondengui Maximum security prisons, and about 300 at the Bafia prison in the south west, and similar figures at the Buea prison.

With things rapidly spiraling out of control, the government strategy seems to be the argument of force, with the limits this is showing, how far do you think they can go?

Elie Smith: The government is making a big mistake in thinking that, the use of force is going to solve the problem. It is instead going to drive many people into the waiting arms of those they are referring to as extremists. Already, the increase militarization of the zone has also recorded and increase in abuses perpetuated by Cameroonian security forces, some of them trained by the United States Navy Seals, and Joint Special Operations Forces from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It is a shame for a world power such as the United States that preaches respect for human rights and democracy to look the other way while forces that she is training and arming are committing human rights abuses in Anglophone Cameroon to go unpunished. I know that, they will hide behind the fact that, the responsibility is that of the Cameroonian government but they are contributing by default in what is going on in west Cameroon in term of abuses.  The government of Cameroon must know that, only dialogue will solve the current crisis and more, no country no matter how powerful have been able to win a war against a people who are not supporting them. Currently, Yaoundé has lost the heart and minds of the people of west Cameroon because of the monumental abuses that its forces are committing on the ground, and they go unpunished.

You have the opportunity of interacting with everyday Francophones, what is their thinking on all that is going on, do you think they now have a better understanding of the frustrations of the people of the South West and North West regions?

Elie Smith: Francophones know what is going on and they are sympathetic to  the cause of the Anglophones. They know that, what is going on or the cause is first and foremost a problem of gross bad governance. However, the only fears of most Francophones are threats of partition of the country. But they are supporting the resistance put up by Anglophones.

What do you make of the way the media has covered the crisis so far, especially the French speaking press?

Elie Smith: The problem of Cameroon, especially the French language media is that of ownership and control. Most proprietors of media houses in Cameroon are either members of the ruling Cameroon’s People Democratic Movement, CPDM or are sponsored by the regime.  The second problem is that of operational license . If am not wrong only two of the existing privately owned electronic broadcasters: Spectrum Television and Canal 2 International have fully paid their license fees to the government while the rest have partly paid or have not paid altogether. As for the print media, the problem is more acute. Most journalists working for major privately owned print media companies go for months or even years without pay. How then do you expect them to report accurately when they have the sledge hammer of an oppressive state hanging over their heads?  Having said that, they are nonetheless some Francophone press and journalists who have been honest and report accurately on what is happening in West Cameroon. It will be unfair to lump them in one bag and tag them as enemies of the Anglophones.

In this kind of atmosphere, how does the government hope to hold elections?

Elie Smith: Well, I don’t know how the government plans to hold elections. But I also think some sinister government strategists like the current situation. And as the saying goes: one man’s meat is another’s poison. People are feeding fat on this crisis and sadly not only on the part of the government.

Joshua Osih has been elected as flag bearer of the SDF and John Fru Ndi is not standing for the 2018 presidential election, what are your views on these developments?

Elie Smith: My views are simple, we might like the SDF and its chairman or not, they have once again demonstrated that, they are the pacesetter in terms of democracy in Cameroon. I had always wanted John Fru Ndi not to stand because, it would have been one candidature too many. He has now given the baton to a new generation which is an excellent development. However he is going to remain as the chairman of the party which means that, gradually he is handing over to a new generation which is at the image of the country. As for Joshua Ossih is perhaps the best candidate of the opposition since 1992. He is young. Remember he is 49 and he has politically experience and he appeals to the majority French-speaking Cameroonian and also to young upward mobile and realistic Anglophones. Now I think Joshua has to do is to unite the party behind him. But he must not forget that, one person can scuttle everything or restore the lost credibility of the SDF in her base in Anglophone Cameroon. This person is Joseph Wirba, MP. If I were Osih I will stretch an olive branch to the SDF MP for Jakiri Special constituency, for he holds the key to the future of the SDF in Anglophone Cameroon. He expresses or is an embodiment of the feeling of the majority in west Cameroon. It is now left to be seen whether Joshua Osih will act as the biblical Joshua, that is take his party to the promise land. That depends on endogenous and exogenous forces that he doesn’t control.

Besides Joshua Ossih, the other Anglophone presidential candidate so far is Akere Muna. What is your take on him?

Elie Smith: Contrary to what some people might think, Akere Muna has his chances, and handicaps. As for the first, he could benefit from a global trend noticed in countries such as the United States, Philippines, Hungary and Turkey. In these countries, they have leaders or have opted for changes simply because people are fed up with traditional or professional politicians. So Muna may be basking in that euphoria. He was before Joshua made his entry into the scene as flag bearer of the SDF, the darling of the chattering class in Francophone Cameroon who are worried that, the poor governance of Paul Biya coupled with the catastrophic management of the current crisis in Anglophone Cameroon could lead to the partition of the country along  colonially inherited lines. But now, that Francophone base will be divided between him and the candidate of the largest intra and extra parliamentary opposition. Muna has African, and global connections. On the negative sides, Muna is viewed as too close to Paul Biya and also very elitist. He also has a heritage from his father that he needs to clarify. He doesn’t need to disown his father, but must make Anglophone Cameroonians look at him differently from his father who is considered as the one who betrayed Anglophones. My take is that, both candidates have their chances but Joshua has an edge because he has a base whereas Muna as of now, no one knows his base and his programme is still sketchy.

A few weeks back, word was going round that French troops were seen in Cameroon, have you been able to verify this and what would their mission be?

Elie Smith: Pure lies. French troops were not in Cameroon. If they were, they were perhaps on transit for a neighboring country.

How can one understand the general indifference that the international community seems to show on the situation in Cameroon?

Elie Smith:  Sadly, we don’t count. And more, the international community has a full hand. In Africa alone, you have the DRC, with more 20 thousand UN forces and there is no end in sight to the atrocities taking place there and some of them caused by the Kabila’s refusal to respect the constitution of his country. There are the cases of Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic Somalia and Congo Brazzaville. You have low intensity crisis in Nigeria or Western Sahara. Beyond Africa, you have the crisis in Yemen, albeit caused by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Burma. So, I can understand why, ours is of little interest to the world, especially that, Yaoundé has the support of Washington DC, Paris and Brussels.

The country is going to fall apart if Yaoundé doesn’t have the courage to go back to the basics or foundation of the country,says Elie Smith

The country is going to fall apart if Yaoundé doesn’t have the courage to go back to the basics or foundation of the country,says Elie Smith

From your perspective Elie, how does this end? Where do you see solutions coming from, and from whom ,since the Head of State people seem to be looking up to has remained tone deaf?

Elie Smith: In my humble opinion, the Anglophone crisis is cyclical. It comes up every 20 years or more and which shows that there is a fundamental problem of discontent transmitted from generation to generation in west Cameroon and it also shows the stupidity, ignorance and arrogance of Yaoundé.  It also shows that, for all the propaganda, the country remains divided along colonially inherited lines and it is not going to end soon, especially with the incidences of September 22nd and October 1st 2017 and the current war. It has driven a wedge among the people of West and East Cameroon to a level never reached before. The crisis will die down at some point, but as I said before, the organizers will transfer the baton to a much more sophisticated group and the sad reality is that, having said all what I had at the beginning, the country is going to fall apart if Yaoundé doesn’t have the courage to go back to the basics or foundation of the country. But, I know, the head of state will at the end come to the negotiating table, but I am afraid on a weaker footing than what his strategists may be advising him. The more the crisis prolongs, the moderates are losing grounds to the restorationists. So, strange as would appear, the head of state might end up negotiating with Ayuk Tabe one day or after October presidential election.

And we end with a question on your own career, where your views became uncomfortable for the TV station Canal 2; can you shed light again on how you were forced out and what your next moves are?

Elie Smith: I decided to resign from Canal 2 International because; the situation became untenable for me. I don’t like lies.  The last straw took place on the 29th of August 2017, the owner of Canal international, the parent company of Canal 2 English, invited us  in Akwa, in the presence of the management staff and told us that, he had been kidnapped from Douala to Yaoundé because of myself and Moses Ejanwie aka Senator Cletus.  And wanted us to go and apologize to the minister of Justice Laurent Esso and Prime Minister Philemon Yang, in particular Laurent Esso. Their problem he told us was that, I was very out spoken on the Anglophone crisis. Their problem was that, they never wanted me to talk about the casualties and they also wanted us to lie and label Anglophones wrong names. There are many other things, but in a nutshell that was what made me to leave. But I am proud of what I have done for I know that, in journalism, when it bleeds it must lead. Covering Anglophone Cameroon honestly is something I have always craved because I know that most of the stories like the school burnings were in most cases not carried out by those the government wanted the world to believe. Exposing the abuses carried out by Cameroonian security forces and their propensity to steal was my greatest satisfaction.

Thanks so much for answering our questions

Elie Smith: I am humbled by the opportunity that you have given me to give my perspectives on the current situation in Cameroon.

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Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans-Badou Kane
February 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not says Badou Kane

All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not says Badou Kane

When dreams for a career in basketball were scuttled by injurious, Badou Kane found a calling in entrepreneurship, mentoring and empowering the next generation of African Youth. From his base in Senegal, Badou Kane  is using a variety of programs, and initiatives to instill positive values, and hope in the African youth on how to turn adversity into opportunity. Pained by the travails of those who risk it all to leave Africa in quest of greener pastures; Badou is taking  on the onerous task of helping young Africans to understand that with their potential, it is possible to make it big in Africa. Entrepreneurship is not a choice, but a must for all Africans, says Badou in an  exclusive interview with PAV to shed light on his vision and projects.

Badou Kane is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in Africa, let’s start this interview by paraphrasing a quote we got from a talk you gave at the Cheick Anta Diop University in Senegal in July of 2014, having a positive impact on others is how Africans in all walks of life should measure leadership, in 2018, how much of this are you seeing in the continent? 

I would say not much… numbers don’t lie. The fact that we have over 500 million Africans living under $1.50 a day shows that there isn’t enough sharing among us. Two things are to be shared knowledge and money in order to have a positive impact on others.

You equally said Africa is the richest continent with the poorest with the poorest people, not because not because we are poor but because we are poor in minds, in this age and time, what needs to be done to change this mindset? 

Wow! A good question with many solutions I will quote a few:

Let s start by stopping lies and getting rid of our complexes of inferiority and superiority. As long as you are on the right path do not worry about what people think of you or what you do. Then:

  1. We have to regain the control of our education. Our curriculum should be written by Africans that understand the realities of the continent.
  2. All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not, whether you went far into your schooling or not. Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans.
  3. We have to all learn how to go from nothing to something. At least be able to earn 4 dollars a day.
  4. Every one of us has a hidden treasure but to find it we have to be willing to sweat cry and bleed. Through a strong will, endurance, and perseverance we will find our hidden treasures
  5. We have to all start some type of a business (small, medium. or big). Do not be afraid to start small. If you don t know how to go from nothing contact me I will show you how.
  6. Last but not least once you achieve success NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM and share part of the knowledge and money you earned by teaching others your path to success. Find honest hard working people and show them the way to success that you know.

From your entrepreneurship and the mentorship that you have done, what difference have you succeeded in making, what are some of the positive stories that you can share with us? 

Another good question. We have thousands of stories to tell. As a matter of fact we are preparing a book. You will already find lots of the testimonies on my social media pages. We have created multi-millionaires in CFA. We have kept people out of jails. We have saved families that were struggling to eat one decent meal a day today they are eating at least 2 meals a day. We have prevented people from risking their lives and dying at sea or in the desert through illegal migration (a major problem in Africa). I can go on; we have changed or impacted thousands and thousands of lives in Africa.  We have saved relationships between fathers and sons, prevented people from blaming governments and environments in general. Some of the people we trained built houses for their mothers. Let me just say that thanks to the Almighty we have done a lot through our training centers, our conferences in schools and different institutions, our interventions on TV s and radios.

You literally grew up in America; you made it there, what motivated you to move back to Senegal and any regrets? 

You know that old saying: “there is no place like home”. I had a mother and father that gave a lot to Africa their names were Madeleine Sidibe and Bocar Kane. I wanted to follow on their footsteps. I remember one day we were having lunch at the house; a neighbor walked in and said that he did not have something to feed his family and my mom asked us to stop eating. We were all eating in a big bowl; she took it poured more foods in it and gave it to the man to take to his house. Then she told us to eat ” shaï” (bread and butter + hot tea) I always wanted to help develop a larger middle class in Africa. I love the fact that I was given a chance to be able to change lives and I have zero regrets.

At a time when many young people are risking life crossing the Sahara, ending up as slaves in Libya, dying in overloaded boats that sink in the Mediterranean, just to get to Europe, how challenging is it to make  a convincing case to them that in Africa, they can still make it and make it big? 

It’s very challenging but with a very good argument they will stay. They just want better alternatives and concrete solutions. The youth of Africa has lost the last piece of hope that they had left in them. They have been betrayed by their respective country leaders. But today we give them hope again by showing them that yes it is possible to make it here in Africa. Once upon a time the Italians and the Irish were fleeing to America; today they are proud to stay in their countries. I have faith that one day the Almighty will give us the leaders that will finally save the Africans. And our people will stay. It’s always been about Africa but not about the Africans but I can feel in the air that it is about to be about the Africans themselves as they will gain a better hold of their environment.

And on the flipside, when you look at the economic and political realities of the continent, the corruption, the leaders in power for over three decades, do you actually fault them and some may even say oh if Badou Kane did not have the opportunities he had out of Senegal, he may not be as successful as he is ,what is your take on this? 

Of course our leaders are to be blamed for some of it but not all. A bad head of state can’t stop a Badou Kane from washing cars to feed his family for example. We cannot spend the next 5 decades pointing the finger at them as it is a waste of time. Let us focus on ourselves on how we can do it ourselves. It is possible as I am showing the people in Senegal. Senegal gave me a peaceful environment, and people willing to do it themselves but as far as the rest is concerned we snatch what we want through discipline and hard work. We create opportunities NOTHING is handed to us.

Could you shed more ore light on your company LXG International Inc and your other programs that are used in helping to the build the next generation of entrepreneurs in Senegal, a young Senegalese told us that within five years you have turned atleast ten young Senegalese into millionaires, is this true and if so how have you done this? 

The major program is called Risk Innovation Social Entrepreneurship. I started it in Senegal on December 12 2012 to fight unemployment and poverty in Africa. I don t believe in poverty in Africa and we have the solution. Every African should be at least able to cover his basic needs of having a place to live, food to eat, a decent education, and the capability to pay for basic medical bills.

The RISE program is an entrepreneurship and leadership program that teaches any individual how to go from nothing to something. It’s a very tough program and at the end of it the best candidates receive an investment of 4 to 18 thousand dollars. Directly linked to me, 6 have made millions the rest are on the way. Indirectly, meaning those that were trained by us but went on their own, quite a few.

Since 2012 we have trained thousands and thousands of people, hundreds have started their own small businesses and we have invested in at least 15.

Another program is called DSB which stands for ” Demal Suñu Bopp” meaning it lets  do it ourselves. It is an economic movement that I created again to fight unemployment and poverty. It is a continuation of RISE, to help us raise awareness with a broader audience to teach them the same thing: how to go from nothing to something. The motto of the movement is “get richer to serve more”. There are thousands of members throughout Senegal with one thing in common, they are doing it themselves, and all we provide is the coaching through a system that allows them to get it done without the help of the government, or any form of entity.

What criteria are used in selecting those who benefit from your knowledge and resources and how has the government of Senegal viewed or supported these initiatives? 

The criteria are quite simple: discipline, a good heart, a willingness to learn and get better, and a capacity to grasp our teachings. The government has supported me by letting me do what I do without bothering me. I couldn’t t tell you what their views are.

One of the latest initiatives you are floating now is an entrepreneurship competition or program with the concept of people starting and growing a business with $3.50, can you shed more light on this? 

We have 500 Million people living under $1.50 a day. To fight this and the illegal migration that you mentioned earlier we launched this challenge. The candidates have to start a business with $3.50 or less and a month later they will have to show their financial results and immediate social impact. There will be 3 rounds. The winner will take home about 2000 dollars and there will also be a special prize for the best female entrepreneur. The objective is to spread the fact it is possible to start with little or no money, and to help people understand that they can do it themselves.

Is this new initiative going to be limited just to Senegal or there are plans to expand the concept to other parts of the continent? 

It is opened to all Africans. They can participate in Senegal.  And anybody in any given country can run with the concept and we will assist him or her.

Africa has a very strong diaspora, how can this diaspora be turned into a solid force that can participate in a more significant and impactful  way in transforming the continent ? 

Our leaders have to create a healthy secure welcoming environment that will make them want to come back. In the meantime the diaspora cannot wait for our leaders. They have to at least share their experiences with the people that did not have a chance to leave the continent. For example they can try to at least share their knowledge with someone on the continent. Nowadays through social media “everyone far is close”. We need everyone in order to get this ship moving. Remember there are always two things to share knowledge and money.

You are also author of the book Fortress of a Leader, what is the message that you see to convey with the book? 

Some characters that one might need to become a leader. It is more like a handy pocket guide to leadership.

A last question on how you view the future for young Africans and the continent as a whole, what are your hopes and fears? 

Hopes: a new generation of very strong leaders with new foundations are on the RISE.

My fears are that our youth gets consumed by sports music dance or politics thinking that those are the only ways to make it in Africa.

Thanks for granting this interview Badou

Thanks for having me. Stay blessed Ajong.

 

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