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

 

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

NJ Ayuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Third Term Bid will be suicidal for President Alpha Conde and Guinea-Ben Bangoura
May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

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


By Ajong Mbapndah L

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

By  PETA THORNYCRAFT*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EM: I have not seen that picture.

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

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

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

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

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

PT: Human rights groups have details of those cases.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EM: I am not privy to their thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PT: Is there anything you regret in your life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is typical like Mugabe.

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

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

*Courtesy of IOL

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

By Olayinka Ajayi

Doyin Okupe

Doyin Okupe

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

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

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

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

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

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

L‎awal Daura’s moves frightening

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

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

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

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

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

How Nigeria state got to this level

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

Juxtaposing ‎IGP’s report with eye witness

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

On mass Defection

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

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

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

What this portray come 2019?

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

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

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

My charge for this administration before 2019

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

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

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

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Insurgents Cleansing:If CAN had a voice like Benson Idahosa, killings won’t have detoriate to this level‎ — PST. Olayemi
July 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

*Says:

‘ Northern Nigeria those days is different from today‎’

‎By Olayinka Ajayi

Taiye Olayemi is the Senior Pastor of Ever Increasing Anointing Ministries INT’L and president of PFN igando chapter. In an Interview with PAV correspondent in Nigeria, the Pastor blames the mass killings of Christians in the North Northern Nigeria to lack of unity among Christian Association of Nigeria CAN among other issues. Excerpts:

 How will you describe your coming into the ministry?So far, my being in ministry is sweet . It’s anybody that is not called by God into the ministry that will be frustrated in life and the frustration will lead to so many things like immorality. So frustration is the major indication that you don’t have God’s backing.

What are the Challenges you  encountered in your sojourn into ministry

When we came our site, the Yoruba popular deity known as ‘Oro’ comes out during the day and whenever they do, Christian worshipers would be deterred from coming to church. As a result of our prayers, the forces of darkness were forced-out and the rest is history today.

You were schooled in the North, how will you describe Northern Nigeria in 60s compared to  the challenges faced with today?

The North at that time is different from the North today. Probably it was due to lack of education. Then lots of northerners don’t aspire to be learned. They prefer to be subject to those handpicked ones that are educated. So as a result of that they ware accommodating to outsiders. But now, their eyes are open to what the top class has acquired with their position. So they are more aware that if they can be educated, they can get to that position those they are looking up to are. At that point they now became more aggressive unlike before.

How can you explain the gruesome killings taking place in the North lately?

We are all humans. That is where the issue of leadership comes in. Because one life is more valuable than the whole wealth of the world. The Holy Bible affirmed it when its says ‘what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his soul. In other words, the whole world wealth cannot be compared to one life. Most leadership in Africa don’t value life but they value wealth that is the reason we see that some of our policies does not appreciate life. When you look at the western world , they value life. They can because of one life do unimaginable thing. But ours , we prefer to defend material things, rather than defend human beings. That is what we are seeing in insurgence killings from Boko harram and Herdsmen attacks, kidnapping and armed rubbery. These is as a result of the policies in place does not protect human lives. How can we phantom the reports that herdsmen will enter a community and wipe out everybody! Where are the law enforcement agencies? Does it mean that we don’t have the capacity as a nation to handle them ? We do! In the world, Nigeria’s millitary men are classified as the 3rdbest in Africa yet we still have the issue of Bokoharram and herdsmen to battle with. Then something is wrong somewhere! That is why I am of the view that the leaders of this great nation don’t value lives, they even value their cows than humans. There are lots of policies that needs to be in place that will protect lives which cannot be bought anywhere. Such life can become great but we don’t value it. They said they are fighting corruption, and they are the one involved in buying votes in the recent Ekiti guber election. That is not the way to fight corruption. They are only fighting individuals using the might of the Federal government to deploy 30 thousand police men to monitor just one guber election in Ekiti. If they really want to are fight corruption, they should start from the grass root, from the family, from schools not from political angle. You cannot win the fight that way. If the fight against corruption starts from the grassroot those people at the top will be affected.‎

what do you foresee come 2019 general election?

The Ekiti election has open the eyes of the world to see that 2019 should be handle with care. And there is need for us to pray if we really want to remain one as a nation. Nigeria five years ago, is different from Nigeria today. The awareness people have during former President Goodluck Jonathan administration is not what they have now. The awareness of Christians in politics is more than before. Many pastors today are speaking to their members on political issues as its affect Christians nationwide. There are seven areas we need to capture as a christian. Among them is the mass media, economy, education, spiritual lifestyle . If we are practicing Christianity and all the seven aspect that affects human reasoning is under a force that is against what you are practicing such religion will be extincted. If a non Christian own a media house, either knowingly or unknowingly he or she will sensor what goes on air in such media house. Gone are the days when we use to say take the whole world and give me Jesus. Then we were not aware of how important politics, economy, education are on our faith. We were more concerned about heaven, If we die today, we go to heaven but God said the earth is our own. It is high time we let Christians know that Christianity does not end in the Church, its continue wherever you find yourselves. If you are in politics, business , education sector let them see Jesus in your way of life always  .

What measures are Christian Association of Nigeria CAN taking  to defend Christians that are more victims of the onslaught ?

CAN as a body is solely regulated by the government. So they have limits to what they can do. That is why during the late Abachars regime, CAN leaders fell prey to his dictatorial policies. In other words, CAN work within the confinement of the law, government once funded CAN activities and when government begin to fund an organisation, the government dictates the do and don’t . it is recently that individuals began to work towards the functioning and operation of CAN unlike before during the time of Olubunmi Okojie. He use to be a voice of Christians but was later silenced during late Abachar’s regime as a result of there policies. In other words, every organisation that is registered by the government, will work under the confinement of the government.

What then is your view of CAN leadership accused of collecting honorarium amounting to Millions  from the presidency while Christians are being massacre in the North?

We are  yet to have someone that will stand in the gap as a voice in Christiandom in Nigeria. During the lifetime of Benson Idahosa of blessed memory, he was a voice that gave Christians direction but today we don’t have such because everybody is busy building his own empire. If we have a father and a voice like Benson Idahosa, it won’t have detoriated to this level. When Idahosa was alive, he was a voice that the government adhere to. There are people that are more concerned about spirituality than the totality of human being. Politics affect the body, your emotion and your soul. Its makes people to become frustrated like what we are seeing today.

What is your charge for Christians across Nigeria?

There is need to look at the totality of the Bible. We should not in anyway emphasis one aspect of the word of God. Christianity is practiced in an environment that is not Utopianin. God want you to practice Christianity as a way of life wherever you find yourself.

What is PFN and CAN not speaking with one voice in order to achieve their goal in the body of Christ?

Can is made up of five blocks. We have PFN, Baptist, Roman Catholic, The white garment Churches. So to get unity which is one of the prayers that Jesus prayed but its a hard tasked. It is lack of this unity in Christianity that made Turkey a secular state tuned to a Muslim nation today. Sudan used to be a christian country , we had serious revival in Sudan than Nigeria. The issue of unity became paramount . In CAN the challenge we have is that a block always sees itself superior to another block. By so they undermine other blocks as a result of that, unity cannot be achieved. We must get to understand that one colour is not appreciated until its found in a rainbow. In other words, the beauty of Christ can only be seen when these five blocks that made up CAN come together as a body. But to attained this hight is a hard task. It was recently Churches like:Deeper life, Mountain of fire, The Lord Chosen among others are relating with other Christian bodies. Before they are on their own. So when an issue that requires one voice needs to be addressed, everybody stands by its self. For instance pentecostals believes in Tongue Speaking while other blocks don’t. When Dady fraizer raised the issue of Tithe, other blocks that does not believe in paying Tithe raised their own principle against it. So there is no unity in the aspect of Tithing in Nigeria. Also we don’t have unity in the aspect of politics in CAN . To some Christian faithful, when you join politics you become dirty. I told my members that you cannot do without politics. You can cast out devil but you cannot cast out the word of God. Pentecostal believes in Politics, while others don’t. The Bible categorically state that :’When the righteous rule the people rejoice but when the wicked rule, the people suffers.’ we don’t need a prophet to tell us that this scripture is not fulfilled in Nigeria. And somebody will be telling us that we should exercise patient when wickedness is prevailing in the land. There are thing that didn’t happen during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. No human being is perfect and no human being is an angel. Fayose is neither perfect or an angel but is one of the best governor Ekiti ever had. Until Nigerian Christians find a voice, our unity is very crucial, but difficult to attain.

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Cameroon:People Who Think I Can Be Intimidated Are Clueless About Me-Cardinal Christian Tumi on “AAC 3”
July 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Elie Smith

His Eminence, Cardinal Christian Tumi

His Eminence, Cardinal Christian Tumi

In the last two years, Cameroon has been facing its worse existential threat since the unification of former British Southern Cameroon’s with the former French administered Republic of Cameroon on the 1st of October 1961. In this exclusive  interview with Pan African Visions, Elie Smith met with the Archbishop Emeritus of the Douala Archdiocese, Cardinal Christian Tumi who on the 25th of July in Douala along with other religious leaders announced the organization of   an All Anglophone General Conference in Buea on the 29th and 30th of August this year.

“In Anglophone Cameroon or Southern Cameroon, there are several opinions on the current crisis and also how to solve it. Anyone who refuses that is not honest but the conference will help to come up with a common ground,” says the Cardinal known for his acerbic critique of the Biya regime.

Fighting off controversy surrounding the AGC , Cardinal Tumi says those who think he is fronting for Biya or Munzu simply do not understand him or his convictions. The Cardinal says he has been thinking about such a forum for a while and took the initiative to reach out to other religious leaders and stakeholders.

PAV: Your Eminence, lots of questions are being raised regarding your planned Anglophone General Council, scheduled for Buea on the 29th and 30th of August 2018. One of such question goes thus: when did the idea for such a conference come up into your mind?

Cardinal Christian Tumi: the idea has been in my mind for quite some time. I listened to the interventions of Anglophones over televisions and radios and I arrived at the conclusion that, we were not saying the same thing and when I say we, I am thinking of myself as an Anglophone and sometimes, I think we don’t really know what we want or perhaps that, our problems are not clearly defined. So, I thought it will be good for the Anglophones of all sheds and opinions to meet and to objectively as possible, say orally and in writing, what their grievances against the central administration are.  This would serve as basis for any future national dialogue between us Anglophones with the central government. In reality, it will be an update form because such a conference has been held some two decades ago. And that is why, when I met Munzu that I have known for quite some time and who has international experience, I called him as I had called others before, but he was most available and we spoke about my project and he accepted to be a sort of secretary of my idea of the proposed 3rd all Anglophone conference albeit with a different appellation.  Dr Munzu quickly caught my attention and approval not because I had known him for long or because he was willing to run errands for me, but mostly because, I think he served in a similar position at the All Anglophone Conference that took place in 1993 from the 2nd to the 3rd of August. So that is how I arrived at what has now become a topic of debates. I called him and he came here and I told him, I will not like to do this alone, especially given my advance age. I also told him, I will like to achieve my idea with experience leaders of major religions in Cameroon. That is also how, the idea of contacting the Presbyterians Church, the Baptise Church and the Muslim community to provide elder persons, came up. In preference, I would have wanted retired pastors and imams.  But as far as the Presbyterians are concerned, it is they who decided that, a synod clerk should represent the Presbyterian Church. And then we also thought that, we should not forget our Muslim brothers, they have something to say. So we contacted therefore, the Imams of Bamenda and Buea and they made sacrifices to be here in Douala. The Imam of Bamenda central Mosque, arrived here at 4 O’clock and left at about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening back to Bamenda. That is how the idea that was originally mine took shape and we arrived at the communiqué that was made public. For such a meeting, you bring a draft, which serves as a working basis. You don’t come empty handed. We had such, on to which every word was properly studied and collectively adopted as ours. That is how the final communiqué read by Rev Babila George Fochang came out or was made public.

PAV: What do you make of some Southern Cameroonians or Anglophones who think your initiative is remotely controlled by Biya’s regime?

Cardinal Christian Tumi: of course they are sure that, the government has authorized the meeting or may be pulling strings from behind. But I can assure you that, there is no such thing, I am still wondering whether the government will accept us to meet because it is a big meeting which they will need to protect us and make sure that, the meeting takes place calmly because it is our right. It is also our duty as pastors to take the initiative that, I have taken.

So, if anybody within or without the Anglophone community could think that, I can be pushed around; it is certainly because they don’t know me. Cardinal Tumi can’t be push around or forced to do things that he doesn’t believe in. I have my personal conviction.

PAV: Granted that you are the sole initiator of the August 29th and 30th conference, how come that, it is only now when the crisis is in its 2nd year that, you are taking such an enterprise?

Cardinal Christian Tumi: Because, I thought that, the initiative taken by the government then to send some officials to meet with people of the South west and North West regions would help reduce the tension, but I think, all of us will agree that, the tension is getting more and more serious. And we can’t just sit down and watch what is happening in a situation where by many soldiers, many civilians are being killed. So, we as pastors we want to speak and propose to the Anglophone Cameroonians and to all Cameroonians, what we think should be done to cease the violence that is taking place in the country.  It is a proposition, we are not imposing. As Pastors and as religious leaders and for us Catholics, Christ has said: propose in season and out of season, whether they listen to you or not. You have done your work. We don’t have to sit down and see things go wrong and we say nothing. If we say nothing, we will be guilty before God.

PAV: Are you the initiator of the project or it is Dr Simon Munzu who is an avowed federalist or that, you are fronting for Dr Munzu?

Cardinal Christian Tumi: Can you imagine me at my age fronting for a young man such as Munzu? The Anglophone General Conference is my initiative, which coincidentally caught the interest of Munzu that I have known for years. So, is it difficult for me to make proposals such as the current one? Even if  he were the one who proposed it to me or you and I owned it and assume it, it simply becomes my own and it is the same with you, if I make  or bring up an idea, and you assume it and makes it known, it is yours. There is no contradiction here, whether he proposed it to me or I took the initiative and invited him. But it is my idea and I was waiting for the opportune time and that time is now. No one can manipulate me. The Anglophone General Conference is my initiative that I didn’t want to carry out alone and I associated other religious leaders.

PAV: Your communiqué read by the Synod clerk, said it will be an inclusive dialogue and this has equally raised more suspicions and doubts. How do you guarantee that armed militants and Anglophones who are abroad with arrest warrants dangling above their heads will attend without risk of being arrested by the government?

Cardinal Christian Tumi:  Well, your question partly removes the doubts or claims that, it is the government sponsoring the conference. If they were the ones, how come that, you will be asking such questions on those who are fighting in the bushes or those who are abroad? That is why, we are telling the government to please allow everyone to come in freely. And if it is legal, to free those who are in prison, so that, they will participate personally or by delegation in the meeting because it is called inclusive.

PAV: what is going to be new or said at the August 29th and 30th meeting that will be different from the ACC1 &ACC11?

Cardinal Christian Tumi:  The first is that, this initiative is taken by religious leaders. Second, we are going to be updating our grievances and this last point could be what will make August 29th and 30th different from AAC1 and AAC2.  We have a pastoral approach. We have no arms, but we tell love and forgiveness. These are the virtues we will be insisting on: love and forgiveness, objectivity and truth. This is not political language and that makes our approach different. As we take part in that meeting, we the religious leaders, we will invest in all those virtues that make man: truth. If intellectually, you see someone saying something good, by virtue of intellectual honesty, you have to accept it as the truth. When someone else brings up an idea that you accept or disagrees, but you find out that, it might help solve a problem, you need to concede and it  shows that, you have truth in you and also that, if you claim to be an intellectual, then you are an honest intellectual. We must learn to be truthful and honest intellectually. In Anglophone Cameroon or Southern Cameroon, there are several opinions on the current crisis and also how to solve it. Anyone who refuses that is not honest but the conference will help to come up with a common ground.

PAV: Do you think the government will accept or authorised your conference?

Cardinal Christian Tumi:   the Anglophones are not coming together with a fix political or should I say, they don’t have a fix position or one stand on the current crisis rocking their country or region. There are those who are for secession, others are for federation and others are for decentralization that the President of the country is proposing. All we are saying is that, anybody who wants to be part of this dialogue must be objective. That is to say, you must be ready to take and give. I have spoken with some Anglophones who say, especially those in the Diaspora and who claim 90% of Southern Cameroonians are for secession, then I ask them, how do you know? What is your basis for making such claims? I tell them, I can also affirm that, 90% of Southern Cameroonians are for two states federation, but what will be my basis? This come together, I repeat will permit us to know who is who in Anglophone Cameroon.

PAV: finally, I am not in any way putting in doubt your integrity, but can you affirm before God and man here that you not being remotely controlled by the regime or fronting for Dr Munzu?

Cardinal Christian Tumi:   Only God knows. To be frank with you, I was never consulted by anyone or groups of individual not even the government to make any intervention on this crisis. If I am not convinced personally of something, no matter how it is being presented to me or by whom, I don’t accept it. May be because the idea of the conference came from this house, some groups have started thinking that, it will be a start to solving the problem,  hence they think I have been influenced by somebody or an occult group or groups, as claimed by a French-language daily, Info-Martin of today. I repeat, no one has influenced me or is influencing me. All I and other religious leaders are saying is that, peace, love and forgiveness should be given a chance.

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It’s obvious President Buhari is overwhelmed with gruesome killings — Balarabe Musa
July 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

* Says:

“Buhari repeated the 1966 South-west ‘Operation Wettie’  in Ekiti‎

By Olayinka Ajayi

Alhaji Balarabe Musa is the former governor of old Kaduna state, in this interview with PAV bares his mind on the state of killings across Nigeria among other issues. Excerpts:

What is your stand on the spate of killings across Nigeria?

The recent killing in Sokoto proves it’s a nationwide problem. It is not a regional problem, neither is it as a result of the insurgent Boko haram attacks or the herdsmen or ethnic, religious based cleansing. Every reasonable person should know that we have aspects of insecurity in every part of Nigeria. The killing is done in such a sophisticated manner that you cannot trace it to an aggrieved community or group of people. It is well planned, articulated and then executed.

Must we wait till the whole nation is wiped-out?

Certainly we cannot allow it to continue. But unfortunately it will continue because we have a weak government in the centre. In other words the Federal government and the ruling party are so weak and irrelevant. The insecurity has gotten to a level  that it has overwhelmed this administration. The overwhelm is proved by the President Buhari when he said he does not know what to do, asking for prayers ,and requesting that Nigerians be patient with his government. How can we be patient, when lives are lost everywhere in the country!

Do these killing justify the President re-contesting come 2019?

As far as I am concerned having known the dangers we are facing as a nation , that is political and otherwise, it is  left for Nigerians to decide. We will not Tele-guide Nigerians on whom to vote for come 2019. All we can do is to present the facts as they are. But it’s obvious that this administration is overwhelmed with the gruesome killings that they cannot do anything about it. The question is what is responsible for the negative state of the nation? That should be our task as  citizens to find out.

But the Senate President Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal among others are calling for the sack of all the service Chiefs in order to curb the killings, what do you make of this?

For me, it’s not necessary. What we need do is to change the system controlling all the development in the country. The particular leadership of this administration is based on self-interest first, and public interest second.  And it is characterized by the disabling level of corruption across the board. The system that brought the service chiefs is self-protection, not public protection.

What is your stand on the recent Ekiti governorship election?

We gathered that 30,000 policemen were deployed to ekiti.  This is one out of 37 States in the country, what about the people living in the North- east that require police protection, what about the people in Plateau that require police protection, what about the people in Zamfara that require police protection and people in Kaduna state who require police protection and yet Buhari approved 30,000 police men for just Ekiti election. It’s obvious they were sent there to protect the interest of the All Progressive Congress APC. As a matter of fact why should the President send 30,000 to Ekiti just for election? If you recall, this was what happened in 1966, the money  meant for the protection of lives and property was used to stage a coup in the South-West to favour the ruling party back then  which led to what was referred back then in the South-west as ‘Operation Wettie’  . Buhari repeated  the same thing in Ekiti to allow 30,000 policemen to supervised an election in order  to make sure APC takes over from PDP while the whole nation is crying over lingering killings many still tagged as a religious and tribal cleansing.

With the challenges Nigeria has being going through since Independence, do you foresee an end to it come 2019?

Sincerely, I don’t foresee any light ! The only bright light I foresee before 2019, is if we can bring about a constitutional change through the National Assembly. But unfortunately the National assembly and the presidency have been on each other’s throats from the beginning of this government since 2015. So you can’t expect a good constitutional change when the executive and the legislative have never agreed. The latest is that the government is staging a strategic attack on the nation’s assembly by humiliating the Senate President and the National Assembly is retaliating by threatening to impeach President Buhari. So in a situation like this, how do you expect a peaceful constitutional change to happen, it’s can’t happen! We should be waiting for the worst. A revolution, that is a change brought about by the power of the masses. Whereby citizens take over the responsibility of the affairs of a state themselves.  It has happened in other parts of the world when the executive arm and the judiciary are in disparity. There is no way Nigeria will be different from other countries that have experienced it. It can happen in Nigeria anytime. Europe faced what we are facing now and they solved theirs through constitutional revolution.

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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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