-Anti Jonathan obsession borders on Paranoia,sinners who oppose President turn into Saints in Nigeria
January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
-Obasanjo’s fight over diminishing influence as God Father -Jonathan has not lived up to expectations -Nigeria will be better served with two strong opposition parties….. Making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics with veteran Journalist and Author Chido Onumah By Ajong Mbapndah L It all boils down to 2015 when the first mandate of President Jonathan expires and judging by the speed at which gloves have been taken off and the viciousness of the political blows been traded, there is every reason to be nervous for Nigeria. If it is not former President Obasanjo hitting President Jonathan with political punches in a letter that strongly stoked the polity, then it is Jonathan and his team with an assist from Obasanjo’s daughter in her own controversial letter reminding the former President that he is part of what ever mess Nigeria is going through. If it is not Governors feuding, then it is political marriages of sorts with former enemies uniting in the common goal of frustrating President Jonathan out of office. But before anyone jumps to President Jonathan’s defence, has his leadership lived up to expectations? No, says veteran Journalist and author Chido Onumah, who is Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, in Abuja, Nigeria. Onumah says it is sad to see some of the most unscrupulous politicians in Nigeria elevated to sainthood just because there oppose President Jonathan. Onumah. From the controversial letter of former President Obasanjo, to Jonathan’s leadership, the defection of governors and MPS from the ruling party to the opposition, prospects of the military giving a shot at power again and more, Chido Onumah helps in making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L Q: Recently there was this rather tough letter from former President Obasanjo to President Jonathan, what do you think motivated the letter, and can you tell us what was fiction and what was reality in the letter? A: Personally, I think the letter was motivated by Obasanjo’s messianic proclivity. There was nothing particularly new about the contents of the letter. Agreed that the issues raised – corruption, abuse of office, clannishness, insecurity, etc., – are compelling and ought to worry anybody interested in the survival of Nigeria, but there was nothing in that letter that former President Obasanjo accused the current president of that did not happen during his (Obasanjo) government. We’ve been there and seen it all. Unfortunately, there is an anti-Jonathan obsession that borders on paranoia. Anybody who opposes President Jonathan, no matter his sordid records, is made a saint. It has become so entrenched that some people can’t see the scheming of the likes of Obasanjo. I think Obasanjo is fighting back because he appears to have lost his “godfather” role with the Jonathan administration. It has nothing to do with whether Jonathan is performing or not. For me, the thrust of the letter was the fact that according to Obasanjo, President Jonathan is not a “man of honour”; that he had promised him that he would only serve one term as president. Clearly, it was on the strength of that understanding that Obasanjo supported President Jonathan in 2011. Now, Obasanjo does not want to miss the opportunity of determining the next president of Nigeria. He is scared stiff that he is unlikely to do what he loves to do and did in 1979 when he handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari and in 2007 when he orchestrated the emergence of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then vice president Goodluck Jonathan. Remember last May 29, during Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebrations, more than six months before what I have referred to as his “satanic” letter came out, rather than be with President Jonathan in Abuja to celebrate the national event he was in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria, to literally raise the hands of Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, as his anointed son and the next president of Nigeria. That is Obasanjo for you. I think he deserves to be ignored. For a man who had two golden opportunities to reverse the fortunes of Nigeria, first in 1976 as a military head-of-state and in 1999 as a civilian president and bungled both opportunities, it is hard to place too much importance on his message. Remember he foisted President Jonathan on Nigerians. Because he is now “opposed” to Jonathan, some people are not looking at the impropriety of his action. They don’t want to focus on that criminal conduct. Q: Correct us if we are wrong but many people think a former leader like Obasanjo has access to Aso Rock and President Jonathan, was it necessary for President Obasanjo to reach out to the President in a letter that was leaked to the press? A: That’s exactly the point I am trying to make. It was completely unnecessary. The former president I assume has direct access to Aso Rock. To be fair, it was reported that he had had private discussions with President Jonathan before the letter. But that is no justification for a former president, the man who imposed President Jonathan on Nigerians, to make such a public show of his “frustration”. Decency demands that Obasanjo be contrite rather than constitute himself into a public nuisance. Clearly, with that letter, we saw a man on a devious mission. What the former president did had the potential of causing serious political and social upheaval. Some of the issues border on national security and to have thrown them so casually in the public domain was completely reckless of a former president. Take the claim that the presidency had drawn up a list of 1000 Nigerians and was training snipers and other armed personnel to take them out! For someone interested in full disclosure, if he had the list, he should have made it public. There is nothing former president Obasanjo revealed about President Jonathan in that letter that Nigerians didn’t know about the latter before 2007 when he was handpicked to run as vice president and in 2011 when he ran for president as an incumbent. Obasanjo was aware of the corruption indictment against then governor Goodluck Jonathan when he picked him to run alongside the late Umaru Yar’Adua for the presidency in 2007. Q: On the content of the letter, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015, but the impression is that he does not have a full and firm grasp of developments in Nigeria, why has he faced so many difficulties? A: Yes, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015. Of course, he is covered under the Nigerian constitution to run for re-election having been elected as president for the first time in 2011. But that is where the argument ends. The Jonathan presidency has been a disaster on all fronts, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, the crises in the education, health and energy sectors or the general state of insecurity in the country. Of course, it is important to note that many of the problems, particularly the poor security situation, were inherited, but the president has shown a total lack of capacity to deal with any of the problems. As a man who has held one political office or the other without break since 1999, Mr. Jonathan needs to do better. He has been deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president since May 2010. What other experience can one ask for? I think it speaks to the character and ability of the man. As the Noble Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said recently, “You can take the hippopotamus out of the swamp, but you can’t take the swamp out of the hippopotamus.” The task of running Nigeria and running it effectively is simply beyond the pay grade of Mr. Jonathan. And that’s why there appears to be so much desperation because you have a president that would have been in office for five years by the time he is due for re-election in 2015 and you can’t point to a single issue on which he can campaign for re-election. Q: When you look at developments in Nigeria, it is either attacks from Boko Haram, it is corruption scandals like Oduagate with no public officials been held accountable, if the buck stops with President Jonathan, should he not be held accountable for some of the unfortunate developments that are heating the polity? A: Of course, he should be held responsible. But by his body language and utterances, the man doesn’t think he should be held accountable. If he is not complaining that he is the most-abused president in the world, he is making light of the issue of corruption by saying that what Nigerians think is corruption is just stealing and not really corruption. It is wishful thinking to expect President Jonathan to fire any of his ministers for corruption. Here is a man who has consistently refused to make public his assets. During an interview on national television two years ago, he declared that he did not “give a damn” about such requests. One of the first actions President Jonathan took when he was sworn in as president on May 29, 2011, was to sign the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill into law. I remember my organisation, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, making an FoI request to the Code of Conduct Bureau, the custodian of asset declarations of public officers for the release of the president’s asset declaration. The bureau did not dignify our request with a response. Only for the chairman of the bureau to grant an interview later where he said the constitution didn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public. Of course, the constitution doesn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public, but the FoI empowers citizens to request information in the public domain. The question that readily comes to mind is: what is the president hiding? For me, that was a clear indication that the president was not interested in fighting corruption or leading by example on the issue of accountability. Ministers and other top government officials have taken a cue from the president’s body language. As far as this government is concerned, really as far as governments in Nigeria are concerned, the presidency is a financial buffet. Q: Recently a number of governors defected to the opposition APC, and some parliamentarians followed suit, how does this change the political calculus in view of the 2015 elections? A: Nobody can say for sure how this defection will play out. I was among those who supported the merger of the country’s main opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). Not that I believed the APC had the solution to the country’s myriad problems, but because I shared the view that Nigeria needed to get rid of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and create a level playing field; for the country to have two strong national parties and a semblance of choice. With the defection of many of the leaders of the PDP to the APC I don’t feel particularly confident that we can achieve even that minimum agenda. At the rate the defection is going, the APC may end up just being the “New PDP”. What it means is that the party may have the name APC but the major characters will be those who left the PDP. Clearly, the agenda of the defectors is to get rid of President Jonathan by weakening the PDP. It has nothing to do with any noble desire to improve the lot of Nigerians. It is possible that by the time the defection is over, the PDP will be the minority party in the National Assembly as well as in the number of states it controls. Considering that governors play a pivotal role in elections in their states that could affect the outcome of the election in favour of the APC. I don’t see the PDP or the president campaigning in the core north of the country where there is strong hostility toward him not necessarily because he is a non-performing president. But again you don’t want to discount the power of the Nigerian president, particularly a “wounded” one. There are conspiracy theories being bandied about in terms of how the presidency hopes to secure President Jonathan’s re-election. Elections may not hold in three states in the Northwest of the country (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) where a state of emergency has been in effect since May 2013. We have seen how the presidency has used the police to harass individuals, organisations and even state governors who are critical of the government. Imagine what will happen during the general election in 2015! I am looking at the bigger picture though which is that very few of those who are making these permutations for 2015 really care about the country. There is so much self interest at stake that something’s got to give! Q: In reaction to the APC’s charm offensive to former President Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka one of the most respected voices in Nigeria said the country was heading for a ship wreck, was he been alarmist or should his predictions be taken seriously? A: I think Wole Soyinka was right in his intervention and analysis. Very few people perhaps know and understand former President Obasanjo better than Wole Soyinka. That was not the first time Soyinka has had reason to caution the country against the antics of Obasanjo. I think Nigerians have more than enough reasons to take Soyinka’s words seriously. Remember Obasanjo once boasted that the PDP would rule Nigeria for 50 year or was it 100 years! The PDP has been in power for only 15 years. Q: And if we sought to find out in terms of ideology, in terms of the way Nigeria needs to be governed, what is the difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC? A: Of course, Nigerians are asking for ideology from these parties, understandably so. But the truth is that what they should be seeking is how to reclaim the country. That was what I was hoping the APC could help achieve before it opened itself up to a complete takeover by disgruntled elements in the PDP. The urgent task in Nigeria is not the 2015 election, but how to bring the country back from the brink. The entity called Nigeria needs to be salvaged, and urgently too. Ideology is the last thing on the agenda for countries in crisis like Somalia, Central Africa Republic and DR Congo. Nigeria is in crisis and we may end up like any of these countries I mentioned and even worse considering Nigeria’s population. To answer your question directly, I don’t see any difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC, not when about half of those who will emerge as leaders of the APC both at the national and state levels were up until a few weeks ago diehard members of the PDP. I am not yet convinced that APC can get the PDP defectors to accept whatever “progressive” agenda it has. Q: There are some people who think that Nigeria’s democracy will be better served with two strong political parties, do you agree? A: I agree completely and it looked like the two parties were going to evolve with the merger of opposition political parties to form the APC. You can’t overstate the importance of choice and a genuine and formidable opposition. It would have been a marked departure from the two-party system (the Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention) that former military dictator, retired General Ibrahim Babangida foisted on Nigerians during his diabolical and endless transition programme in the late 80s to early 90s. As it is now, what we have are PDP and the APC plus “New PDP”. I don’t think Nigerians really have a choice. Remember that some of the leadership of the APC (before the current defection) were in PDP even though they left a long time ago to join other political parties, including those that merged to form the APC. The APC needs to do more to reassure Nigerians that it is a genuine alternative to the PDP. Q: A sitting Governor in one of the states recently declared that there was a pact between the North and the South that President Jonathan will serve just one term, is there any veracity to this statement, and in the face of such mounting opposition, can Jonathan make it for a second term, what does he need to do to survive the onslaught? [caption id="attachment_7976" align="alignright" width="300"] Chido Onumah[/caption] A: Well, there have been all kinds of claims that President Jonathan signed a one-term pact. We have yet to see any documents to that effect. Of course, we read in the letter by former President Obasanjo that President Jonathan personally assured him that he will not seek re-election. It may well be true that there was a one-term pact. That is the nature of politics in Nigeria; the feeling of entitlement that makes it impossible for the best amongst us to emerge as leaders. Some decrepit men (and perhaps women) sit in a room at night and decide who will emerge president or governor. I don’t understand the fixation with the so-called one-term pact. Nigeria does not belong to President Jonathan or those he purportedly entered into a pact with. There is no zoning principle in the constitution for the presidency. Any qualified Nigerian from any part of the country can contest the office for the stipulated two terms. I understand the importance of keeping one’s word, but if the president denies there was no such agreement or decides to renege on the agreement, assuming there was one, the country should not come to a halt because of that. It is just an internal affair of a political party, in this case the PDP. Except we take it for granted that whoever is the candidate of the PDP will emerge as president in 2015. Q: And Mr. Onumah, about this eternal feud of whether a leader should come from the North or from the South, does it matter to the average Nigerian or it is just something used by the political elite in their power plays, we ask because, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians do not know South or North, from unemployment to poverty, infrastructure, education, security etc. What is this North–South issue all about and should it have relevance in a democracy? A: I would love to say it doesn’t matter to the average Nigerian, but it does. Very few people see themselves as Nigerians. Therefore it is so easy for politicians to play the ethnic card. That is partly why it is difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. A public officer steals money and he is indicted. You will find many people belonging to the same ethnic group who will rise to his defence. They will say he is being persecuted because he is from a certain ethnic group or adheres to a certain religion. They will ask you whether he is the first person to steal public fund and what happened to others from other ethnic groups who also stole public fund. You will hear argument like, “He is a thief, but he is our own thief.” In a sense, the national treasury doesn’t belong to anyone in particular so anybody who gets the opportunity can help themselves to it as much as they can. Of course, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians – lack of electricity, poverty, poor infrastructure, etc. – are the same around the country, but when the chips are down people only hear the sound of your name. Nowhere is this issue more prevalent than in politics which in a way determines everything else: the way we fight corruption, the kind of infrastructure we will have, etc. If President Jonathan were from the north of the country he won’t be facing the militant opposition he is currently facing from the political class in the north just as he won’t have gotten the fanatical support he is getting from the Niger Delta. That is why some of us are calling for a Sovereign National Conference. There are so many fundamental issues that Nigerians have to address before we start talking about infrastructure, corruption, etc. Nigerians have to sit down in a Sovereign National Conference to address fundamental issues like the country’s political structure, citizenship rights, revenue allocation, etc. Q: With the kind of bickering going on with the political class, the underlying issue of whether the President should come from the North or the South and others, what are the odds that the military may be tempted to revert to its old habits of seizing power? A: There is that prospect. In fact, it grows every day. It is difficult to say how this crisis will play out. Nigeria is under siege on all fronts, but more so by a bankrupt ruling class from the North, South, East and West whose only aim is to control political power and they will do anything, including orchestrating a military coup to achieve it. Having said that, we must also note that the Nigerian military does not need the prompting of the political class to seize power. The military itself is as politicized as the politicians and they will manufacture any excuse to send the politicians packing. Of course, considering how polarized the country is, you will find people willing to jump on the bandwagon of a military coup. Q: Summing up the current developments, and going forward into 2015 which seems to be the critical focus of political actions and calculations now, what makes you nervous and what makes you hopeful about Nigeria? A: I am very nervous about Nigeria. There is very little politically that gives one hope. Unfortunately, there is no organized national mass movement that can provide an alternative to the dangerous politics of national destruction being played by our politicians. The only ray of hope, if one can call it that, is that 100 years after the creation of Nigeria, the country is so intertwined and the fear of it splitting into several countries is far-fetched. But again, the current scenario portends even something worse: the balkanization of the country along its various fault lines. We may have a Somalia on our hands here, except that in this case, the outcome will be ten times worse and the impact on the sub-region will be grave. That for me is a major source of concern. *Chido Onumah is a journalist, author and coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Abuja, Nigeria, He is currently pursuing a doctoral programme in communication and journalism at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. ]]>
Zuma launches new ANC manifesto
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
Matuma Letsoalo* President Jacob Zuma took advantage of the audience at his keynote address to remind everyone that Nelson Mandela was a member of the ANC. President Jacob Zuma launched the ANC manifesto on Saturday, with his keynote address focusing more on what the party has achieved over the past 20 years than what it intends to do going forward. But with only a few months left before the national elections, Zuma did not miss the opportunity to remind all that former president Nelson Mandela belonged to the ANC. “Comrade Madiba exemplified the importance of adherence to the core values and tradition of the ANC. He was unambiguous about the fact that the ANC has always been the organisation best placed to unite the broadest cross-section of South Africans around the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution and put in place a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa as enshrined in the Freedom Charter,” said Zuma. But the ANC under Zuma has been criticised for not living up to Mandela’s standards, with the spending of over R200-million to upgrade his Nkandla homestead cited as an example. Despite all the criticism, the ANC managed to fill the 60 000-seater Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit and four additional overflow areas. And with the thousands of members carefully selected from their respective ANC branches, Zuma received loud applause from his supporters this time around. Zuma was embarrassed in front of international guests last month when a large crowd booed him during Mandela’s memorial service at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg. NDP commitment Zuma reiterated the ANC’s commitment to implement the National Development Plan (NDP), which alliance partners have criticised as being too similar to the neo-liberal Gear. The NDP is a living and dynamic document and the overwhelming majority of South Africans support its objectives of eradicating poverty and inequality. The ANC urges all our people to actively participate in its implementation, to move our country forward. Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini on Saturday changed his tune when he said Cosatu supported the manifesto, which included the NDP. Dlamini, who is a close ally of Zuma, said the labour federation would throw its support behind the ANC ahead of the elections. This contradicted the stance taken by Cosatu’s largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which took a resolution at its special congress recently not to campaign for the ANC and withdrew its financial support. Jobs and mining Zuma said his administration would create six million work opportunities by 2019 through the consolidation of the Public Works programme. He said the ANC would move ahead with measures to strengthen the state mining company and ensure increased beneficiation for industrialisation. “We have also broadened Mangaung’s call for increasing the share of mineral resources rents and will embark on comprehensive review of our tax system,” said Zuma. He said the party’s priorities remained education, health, rural development, land reform and food security, the creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods, and the fight against crime and corruption. “We are also continuing to expand access to housing and basic services and building integrated human settlements.” *Source M & G ]]>
SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON SOUTH SUDAN
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
– The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein ( Jordan): On 9 January, members of the Security Council were briefed by Department of Peacekeeping Operations Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative of the Secretary-General Hilde Johnson and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan Haile Menkerios on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. The members of the Security Council reiterated their strong support for the mediation efforts led by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), and welcomed the appointment of the IGAD mediation team chaired by Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin ( Ethiopia), as they seek a peaceful settlement to the crisis in South Sudan. They welcomed the 8 January IGAD statement reflecting the political detainees’ support for talks on an unconditional cessation of hostilities and their position that their detention should not be an impediment to reaching agreement on a cessation of hostilities. The members of the Security Council underlined their demand for President Salva Kiir, former Vice-President Riek Machar and other political leaders to demonstrate leadership by immediately agreeing to a cessation of hostilities and commencing a broader dialogue as proposed in the mediation efforts under way by IGAD in Addis Ababa. They also urged Mr. Machar, in particular, to move forward and agree to a cessation of hostilities without precondition. They requested the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, in particular President Kiir, to release all political leaders currently detained in order to create an environment conducive to a successful dialogue. The members of the Security Council demanded an immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and stressed that those responsible will be held accountable. They welcomed and encouraged the important efforts of UNMISS to monitor, investigate, verify and report on human rights violations and abuses. They also welcomed the African Union Peace and Security Council’s (AUPSC) 30 December 2013 decision to establish a commission of investigation to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities. The members of the Security Council noted the 30 December 2013 AUPSC communiqué expressing the AUPSC’s intent to take appropriate measures against all those who incite people to violence, undermine the protection mandate of UNMISS, and carry out acts of violence against civilians and unarmed combatants. The members of the Security Council renewed their calls on all parties for: (1) cessation of violence and hostilities; (2) the protection of civilians, including foreign nationals and United Nations personnel; (3) provision of humanitarian access; and (4) security of economic infrastructure, including oil installations and the safety of the employees. The members of the Security Council also strongly discouraged external intervention that could exacerbate the military and political tensions. The members of the Security Council reiterated their strong support for UNMISS leadership and personnel for their life-saving work and commended the Member States who continue to quickly respond to the United Nations’ requests to bolster UNMISS. In this regard, they stressed the importance of swift implementation of the increase in UNMISS troop numbers authorized by Security Council resolution 2132 (2013), and called on all parties to support and facilitate this increase. They further condemned incidents of obstruction of UNMISS operations including by land, air and water, and renewed once again their demand such incidents not be repeated and that all parties cooperate fully with UNMISS operations. SOURCE UNITED NATIONS]]>
WHO IS THE REAL KAGAME?
January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Theogene Rudasingwa*
Rwanda has had two violent revolutions so far, but dictatorship in Rwanda remains an enduring affliction that still haunts her people. Rwanda seems to be stuck in a situation reminiscent of pre-1959 or pre-1990 period. The pre-1959 saw the rise of a marginalized Hutu population led by elite that challenged the monarchist status quo. The birth of the Rwandan Republic, and the end of the Belgian colonialism, was a violent phenomenon. While bringing social, economic and political benefits to the previously marginalized Hutu community, the 1959 revolution ended up marginalizing the Tutsi community. Many Tutsi were massacred, and hundreds of thousands fled into exile. The revolution produced Tutsi refugees, followed by waves of insurgency (INYENZI) that ended in the 1960s. Within Rwanda, the short lived multiparty politics abruptly came to an end, as the political space was closed and the country became a one-party state, under MDR PARMEHUTU party. Power also became over-centralized in the hands of President Gregoire Kayibanda, who with time, relied more and more on people from his community in Gitarama, in southern Rwanda.
In 1973, there was a palace coup within the revolution, and General Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu from the north, came to power, subsequently forming his own party, MRND. Many politicians from the south died at the hands of the new regime. President Habyarimana injected new energy into what had become a moribund system under MDR-PARMEHUTU and was seen to be “soft” on Tutsi, but the regime remained a Hutu one, and increasingly biased in favor of the north. Rwanda was still a one-party state. Like the previous monarchy before 1959, and Kayibanda’s regime till 1973, power became over-centralized in the hands of President Habyarimana. Tutsi remained in exile, and marginalized within the country. Towards the end of the 1980s and beginning with 1990, the MRND regime had lost momentum and was under attack internally from political parties (mainly of Hutu from the south) and from an invasion by Tutsi refugees (RPF) from Uganda. Under political, economic, military and diplomatic pressure, President Habyarimana reluctantly negotiated the Arusha Peace Agreement with RPF. The peace agreement provided a vision for democratization and the rule of law, power sharing among MRND, RPF and other opposition political parties, establishment of new security institutions ( Army and Gendarmerie), and the return of the 1959 refugees. For a brief moment Rwandans were hopeful that peace, reconciliation, democracy and the rule of law were coming to Rwanda at last.
Then General Kagame struck, killing President Habyarimana, triggered genocide, and finally captured power, ending the Arusha Peace Agreement. In his ambition to get power by any means, General Kagame triggered a genocide in which 800, 000 Tutsi perished at the hands of the so called Provisional Government, its security institutions, and the interahamwe militia. Hundreds of thousands of Hutu have died in Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the hands of President Kagame’s RPA, in war crimes, crimes against humanity and even, possibly, acts of genocide, according to a UN Mapping report.
Rwanda’s history seems to repeat itself more often than elsewhere in space and time. President Kagame’s dictatorship far surpasses the previous ones. RPF’s revolution of the 1990s has become frozen, and in its wake President Kagame has gradually turned RPF and its sister, RPA (now RDF), into tools for his absolute dictatorship. What could have become a national revolution has become a” Tutsi revolution”, a misnomer because like previous revolutions, the ordinary Hutu and Tutsi gradually become tools of the ruling elite (Hutu or Tutsi) at the top. Rwanda has refugees. Political space is completely closed, and Rwanda, as before, has become a one-party highly militarized and secretive state. Political opponents, journalists, and human rights activists are harassed, imprisoned, killed, or forced to flee the country.
Even in exile, critics of the regime have no solace. The imprisonment of Victoire Ingabire of FDU-Inkingi, Bernard Ntaganda of PS Imberakuri, Deo Mushaidi of PDP-Imanzi and many others is testimony to the prevailing mood in Rwanda. The assassinations of Seth Sendashonga, Theoneste Lizinde, Rwisereka of the Green Party in 2010,.Rugambage, Charles Ingabire in Kampala, 2011, the assassination attempt of General Kayumba Nyamwasa in 2010 in South Africa, the various assassination schemes that have been foiled in the United Kingdom, Sweden and other places, are some of the testimonies to the criminal nature of the regime. There is no independent media in Rwanda. The judiciary and legislature in Rwanda are not independent. Their powers have been usurped by President Kagame. Civil society and the private sector are controlled by President Kagame’s small band of Tutsi military officers and a few RPF civilians allowed into the circle of the First family.
How have President Kagame and his family come to dominate Rwandan society to levels previously not seen in Rwanda’s recent history? How does his system work? How has his character, shaped by being a refugee at a tender age, his involvement in violent wars in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC affected his outlook on life?
Since the 1980s, Paul Kagame has been at the center of violent conflicts spanning the territories of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In these conflicts, there has been widespread destruction of life and other horrendous human rights abuses. Kagame bears personal as well as command responsibility for some of these crimes, including assassinations and other serious human rights abuses.
After a lifetime of unimaginable violence, Kagame is like a serial killer, a person with no regrets or remorse for the acts of violence that he or others acting on his instructions commit. He is not apologetic about this. On the contrary, he makes it a point in public and private conversations that indeed his opponents must die. Probably a result of his past crimes, President Kagame is very paranoid about plots to remove him from power and about his security in general. Since coming to power, Kagame has amassed a vast fortune. This fortune has been acquired by unethical and sometimes, criminal means.
Kagame’s actions are influenced in large measure by a reckoning with his past. Kagame believes that a person’s name or reputation is his or her most precious possession. He has established a false reputation of frugality, incorruptibility, accountability in government, and military hero who stopped the genocide. Preserving this false image is critical to the preservation of Kagame’s monopoly of power in Rwanda.
Kagame’s greatest concern is that of the people who have information (including corruption and responsibility for assassinations, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC which may tarnish the public image that he has crafted. Kagame’s criminal background, and the need to avoid being held accountable, explains why he is bent on staying in power at all costs, including the assassination of political opponents.
THE ANATOMY OF A DICTATORSHIP
First Family: President Kagame stands at the top of the social, economic, political and military pyramid in Rwanda. Second in command is his wife, Jeannette Kagame, who wields a lot of influence over her husband. She has influence on who falls or rises within the political system; appointments of Ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, and other high level offices; places her own people in some strategic positions; and has influence on security services through General Jack Nziza. Mrs. Kagame has come to be the most influential in the HIV/AIDS/TB/Malaria health sector programs, where most aid money is. According to U.S. Government sources, from 2004-2009, Rwanda received over $ 540 million from U.S PEPFAR. In fiscal year 2011 alone, Rwanda received almost U.S. $ 132 million from U.S. PEPFAR. Since 2003, Rwanda has received a total disbursement of over U.S. $ 570 million from the Global Fund. With this in mind, the First Family has successively moved Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the First Family Pediatrician, to manage these resources on their behalf. Prior to the Binagwaho’s appointment as Minister of Health, the First Family appointed Caroline Kayonga, wife of Lt. General Charles Kayonga as Permanent Secretary of the same Ministry.
The Core: The third layer in Rwanda’s power pyramid after the President and his wife, are a core of high ranking military officers who formerly worked as President Kagame’s bodyguards during the civil war; intelligence and close protection personnel of the elite Republican Guard; and the entire Republican Guard itself. This inner circle includes Lt. General Kabarebe Minister of Defense; Lt. General Charles Kayonga, Chief of the Defense Forces; Col. Dr. Emmanuel Ndahiro, who was his personal doctor, and until recently, the head of the National Security Services; and Brigadier General Jack Nziza (not a former bodyguard, but has had a long relationship with President Kagame from the Uganda days, manages the informal security system, and is very close to Jeannette Kagame). This core group (directly or indirectly) run the elite and privileged Presidential Guard which protects the family, and exercise official and unofficial oversight over the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF), the Reserve Force, and the Local Defense Units.
This core group of exclusively Tutsi officers also keeps an eye on other organs of the government, civilian (including the Legislature and Government Ministries) as well as military, to ensure that these organs and the people running them serve the interests of President Kagame and his regime. These senior officers also supervise the intelligence and close protection officers of the Republican Guard, who over the years have included Col. Tom Byabagamba, Col. Silas Udahemuka, Lt. Col Hodari (Commanding Officer, Republican Guard; and the powerful Lt. Col. Willy Rwagasana, President Kagame’s Chief Escort. Kagame’s former military escorts during the civil war, together with the current young military escorts, run the entire security apparatus. Although the fortunes of the individual members of this inner core rise and fall with time, the groups as a whole are the most stable of the various groups that constitute the leadership of Rwanda. They are indispensable to Paul Kagame. Kagame depends on them for his protection and for his political survival. As the most trusted assistants, some of them have access to information whose disclosure would be politically damaging to Paul Kagame. In turn this core group is hostage to him, since he has used them in criminal activities, and they cannot afford to be outside his sphere of influence.
Republican Guard: The elite 3,000 strong plus Republican Guard has the exclusive mission to protect the First Family. It is a privileged unit, with financial, material, training and equipment incentives that are over and above those of the rest of the armed forces. Members of this unit are groomed to take over command of battalions and divisions of the Regular Army. Kagame puts members of this Unit in control of Battalions and Division command positions.
The members of this Unit are almost all exclusively Tutsi.
Informal Security Networks: President Kagame has established informal security networks that work parallel to or in competition with security organs established by law. The primary objective of the informal networks is to identify and neutralize real and imagined enemies of the regime. The informal security networks are the President’s enforcers. Many members of these informal networks are deployed in foreign countries, including embassies of Rwanda in countries where there are significant populations of Rwandan refugees. These informal networks are only accountable to the President, and in some cases, to his wife. The most prominent of these informal security networks are the ones operated by Brig General Jack Nziza. Kagame can always count on him to essentially constitute a powerful informal government that runs the formal government. In view of the unwavering determination and exceptional brutality that General Nziza has always demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, in eliminating what he calls the enemies of the regime, he has acquired a special relationship with President Kagame and Jeannette Kagame that even other members of the inner core group no longer enjoy. General Jack Nziza is arguably now more influential with Paul Kagame than most of the members of the core group. General Jack Nziza meddles in the work of all institutions in Rwanda, including the legislature and the judiciary. He tries to impose his oversight over all institutions on the pretext of being after enemies or saboteurs of the regime. He usually gets his way, because of the ruthless reputation that he has acquired.
The Intelligence Services: The fifth layer of control is the Intelligence services, namely the National Security Service and the Directorate of Military Intelligence. Note that the intelligence services of the Republican Guard, and Kagame’s informal networks, are superior, and ultimately control, these other intelligence services. The notable figure in these intelligence services is Lt. General Karenzi Karake ( KK), brilliant, but passionately hated by President Kagame for long, and who was humiliated before he was given the task to head the National Security Service.
Rwanda Defense Forces: The sixth layer of control is the military. The military are the backbone of the Rwanda government. President Kagame discusses major policies and decisions with senior military commanders before discussing them with civilian assistants. The military commanders are the real government; the civilians in government are the technocratic servants of the military. The Rwanda Defense Forces are, in essence, not a national army. They owe allegiance not to the state, or its people, but to one political organization, the Rwandese Patriotic Front, and to its supreme leader, President Kagame. No wonder he calls RDF, “my army”, and its officers, “my officers”.
The RDF is spread throughout the country. They perform many political functions on behalf of the RPF. The military are responsible for mobilization for the party: convincing opinion leaders to join and serve the RPF. Military officers are responsible for the supervision of the local government officials that the RPF appoints, the RDF is responsible for the rigging of elections in favor of the RPF, and military officers are responsible for ensuring that opponents of the regime everywhere are identified and destroyed.
The Rwandese Patriotic Front: The seventh layer of control is RPF. The Rwandese Patriotic Front is unofficially the sole party that is allowed to practice politics in Rwanda. The party is President’s Kagame’s tool for controlling every aspect of life in Rwanda. The party controls the country through the officials that it appoints to public office at all levels. Its members constitute the overwhelming majority of all institutions. The party maintains strict control of all these officials by requiring them to take an oath and through disciplinary procedures that are a violation of the laws that require certain public officials to be independent.
The party secretariat functions as a parallel office of the Prime Minister. The RPF Secretariat is responsible for the appointment of all civilian public officials, including ministers, judges, and legislators; draws recommendations for Kagame to approve, if he has made his decision before hand; responsible for discussing and approving all policy development, including all policy proposals and major decisions to be discussed by Parliament; disciplining all civilian public officials who are members of the party, including ministers, judges, and legislators, who by law should be independent. Currently, RPF civilians like James Musoni and Aloysea Inyumba (before she passed away) wield a lot of influence due to the special relationship they have with President Kagame. The party is a vast network of informal government mechanisms that operate at all levels of the organization of state administration.
Financial Managers: The eighth layer of control are the people who run President Kagame’s financial interests. President Kagame has a three-pronged strategy for sustaining his control of power in Rwanda:
(a) Establishing intelligence systems that are able to identify and neutralize all real or perceived threats
(b) Maintaining a strong military that is able both to protect the regime and to project his power abroad
(c) Securing the resources to finance the activities of the military and security institutions that keep him in power.
For these resources, President Kagame draws both on public resources and the business activities of the RPF. The men and women who are responsible for generating, managing and delivering these resources are very influential. In government, the following people have been responsible for making sure that President Kagame can get access the government finances for personal and non-official purposes:
– Don Kaberuka, Former Minister of Finance, now President of the African Development Bank
– Manasseh Nshuti, Former Minister of Finance
– John Rwangombwa, and Governor of Central Bank
– Ms. Sayinzoga, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance (Wife of Kagame’s nephew).
– Jack Nziza, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defense.
– Claver Gatete, Minister of Finance
The business enterprises that President Kagame owns ostensibly belong to the RPF and the Defense Department, but are practically his personal businesses. He alone controls this business empire. The RPF has no treasurer or finance committee. The accounts of the businesses are secret and never audited independently. The managers of the businesses are answerable to Kagame alone. Kagame does not account to any organ of the RPF on these business and finance matters.
The holding company for the businesses run by civilians is Crystal Ventures Limited (CVL), a successor to former Tri-Star Investments, supposedly an RPF company. In fact this is a Paul Kagame’s company. President Kagame’s financial empire includes the following: Rwanda Investment Group (RIG), involved in a wide range of activities; Telecommunications (MTN Rwandacell and Altel); Banking; Construction and building products (NDP-COTRACO S.A.R.L); Real estate development ((Real Contractors, Bond Trading S.A.R.L); Catering (Bourbon Coffee), Security services (Intersec Security); Packaging (Design Packages); Beverage and food processing (Inyange Products); Communications (GPS Graphic Print Solutions); and Whole sale and Retail Trading, (Mutara Enterprises).
President Kagame also carries on business using institutions under the Ministry of Defense. The vehicle for this branch of his business empire is the Horizon Group, which was set up in 2008 by the Ministry of Defense. The subsidiaries of the Horizon Group include: a commercial bank ( ZIGAMA-CSS); large infrastructure projects (Horizon Construction); agricultural products (Horizon SOPYRWA); and Horizon Logistics, providing logistical support to over 3,500 Rwandan troops under the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in Khartoum, Sudan (UNAMIS). Horizon Logistics is also involved in export and import clearing and forwarding services. This suggests that economic and political interests of the holding do overlap as the earnings from one subsidiary company subsidize the operations of the other. By forming joint ventures with state owned enterprises, RPF and Military companies ( directly under the control of President Kagame) receive free funding, and transfer any risks to the state should the ventures fail, which is often.
Formal Government: The ninth layer of influence and control is the formal Government institutions, situated very far down the ladder in the power structure of Rwanda. Hutu who are accommodated by the system are mainly found in the formal government. Members of the formal government are merely technocrats implementing the policies of others and are not influential unless they happen to have strong connections in the party or with the President. However, it should be noted that many of the people who will strong influence by virtue of their positions in informal structures also have official positions.
In fact, the RPF ensures that the most important government departments are entrusted to very trusted members. The institutions that are most critical to President Kagame’s strategies for controlling the state are the following, and, like the security institutions, are all controlled by Tutsi ( or presumed to be):
– Central Bank: John Rwangombwa, Governor
– Ministry of Finance: Minister, Claver Gatete
– Ministry of Health: Minister, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho
– Rwanda Revenue Authority: Ben Kagarama
– Ministry of Justice: Tharcisse Karugarama
– Office of the Prosecutor General: Prosecutor General: Martin Ngoga
Kagame’s Foreign Legion: The tenth layer of influence is exercised through an elaborate network of foreigners ( and a few Rwandans) who have to sell President Kagame’s image and narrative as the sole hero and savior of Rwanda. Because Rwanda is heavily dependent on aid, and his reputation as the western-celebrated leader of the “emerging Singapore of Africa” is crucial to the continuous flow of aid, this group of people is crucial in facilitating him. Through what he calls the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), he is able to promote a soft and deceptive image abroad, especially where it matters most, in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through lobbying, public relations, and access to the media, these facilitators help President Kagame’s self-promotion abroad, and shield him from accountability for the crimes he commits on Rwanda, DRC and abroad. The loudest mouthpiece in the whole group is Tony Blair. President Kagame’s staunchest defender at the United Nations is U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.
This foreign legion includes the following:
– Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
– Bill Clinton, former President of the United States
– Ambassador Susa Rice
– Rick Warren, Pastor and founder Saddleback Church, and author of bestseller, Purpose Driven Life
– Professor Michael Porter, Harvard Business School
– Larry Weber, Racepoint Group, a US public relations firm
– Mark Pursey, BTP Advisers, UK-based communications group
– Ambassador Andrew Young, Good Works International
– Scott Ford – President and CEO of Alltel
– Sir Tom Hunter – Scottish entrepreneur, philanthropist, co-founder Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative
– Dr. Donald Kaberuka – President of the African Development Bank Group, former Minister of Finance, Rwanda ( Rwandan)
– Dr. Clet Niyikiza – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vice President of Worldwide Research & Development
– Kaia Miller – founder of Aslan Global, Inc.
– Joe Ritchie – Rwanda’s Honorary Consul in Chicago, founder Fox River Financial Resources, Inc and CEO of Rwanda Developement Board.
– Michael Roux – Rwanda’s Honorary Consul General in Australia, Chairman, Asian Markets, KPMG; Roux International Pty Ltd; RI Group;
– Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro – Assistant Professor at McGill University, Canada (Rwandan)
– Bel Dowson
– Michael Fairbanks, Chairman Emeritus and founder of The OTF Group, a software and strategy consulting firm based in USA.
– Andrew Mwenda, The Independent, Kampala, Uganda
– John Dick, Independent Director, LGI, and Director, O3B
Africa's oldest liberation movement celebrates 102 anniversary .
January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
Crystal van Vyk* South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday celebrated its 102nd anniversary, with leader, President Jacob Zuma reportedly saying the party will rule the country forever. The ANC, in power since the end of apartheid in 1994, faces its toughest electoral battle yet this year, amid accusations of corruption. Formed in 1922 at a Wesleyan Church in Mangaung, the ANC is Africa’s oldest liberation movement. As part of the celebrations, the ANC’s top six officials, including Zuma, led mobilisation campaigns in four regions of Mpumalanga. Zuma interacted with ordinary people at the Kanyamzane township, where he told them the ANC will stay in power, whether the party’s detractors liked it or not. “We will continue to run this government forever and ever. Whether they (detractors) like it or not,” he was reported to have said. Party spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu reiterated Zuma’s words. The ANC said since 1994, it had made substantial progress in consolidating democracy, achieving political stability, extending basic services and promoting respect for values and various freedoms that are enshrined in the constitution. These events in Mpumlanga will culminate in the launch of the party’s 2014 election manifesto and the presentation of its traditional January 8 statement. ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, the Mail and Guardian reported, on Tuesday said the manifesto would not be a surprise for those familiar with the party. “It is a continuation of the work we have been doing,” he said. “We are going to build on the five priority areas we selected in 2009, we will put emphasis more on the areas where there have been difficulty [and] I would imagine that jobs and the economy would be a major focus.” The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) was one of the first organisations to congratulate the ANC. Cosatu and the South African Communist Party are in an alliance with the ANC. *Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Africa’s oldest liberation movement celebrates 102 anniversary | Southern Africa : @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook]]>
Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi At 72: ‘Boko Haram lesson for Nigeria: Stop ignoring grievances’ –
January 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
It was the first day of the year, January 1, 2014 – just some four days to Professor Bolaji Akinyemi’s 72 birthday. He had invited the quintet of President of the Guild of Editors, Femi Adesina, Editors of the Sunday titles of ThisDay (Tunde Rahman), The Nation (Festus Eriye), Sun (Alhaji Abdulfatah) and I for lunch. It was there that Akinyemi bared his mind on some very important national and international events in a manner only a man with uncommon intellect and insight would. Excerpts: By Jide Ajani How do you see the APC developing? I have often said and I have been on record for saying so that a two-party system is a positive development for nation-building to overcome our nativistic cleavages. It is one of the legacies of IBB that was jettisoned ill-advisably. I welcome the coming of the APC. I must also say I think people who are talking about the lack of ideological orientation in the PDP or the APC completely miss the point in that political parties are there to win elections and they will configure themselves in such a way as to maximize their electoral support. You look at the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, there is always a mixture. The southern element, for example, in the Republican Party in the United States have nothing in common with those in Montana and those from Massachusetts. The same thing with the Democratic Party. We should start to give up this missionary concept with which we the judge our politics, whether domestic politics or foreign. It must be so pure that you would think we are electing the Pope. With Snowden and Wikileaks now, we know that those who mount the pulpit at the UN or wherever and preach pure values, their agencies are busy doing the filthiest things possible against even some of their own major allies. It doesn’t bother me. It is a welcome development and then, of course, we must not forget that the Labour Party is coming up. So, if you don’t like the PDP or the APC, the Labour Party is there for you. And, remember, in the United Kingdom, you have the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The Labour Party in Nigeria will always be for those of us who want to vote our conscience. The Labour Party may never win an election in the Presidency, but they will make you feel good that you still voted but not for either of those two characters. We’ve heard a lot of criticisms about APC poaching in the PDP waters… (Cuts in) In what other waters would they poach? Is that the same way you see the APC attempt to woo Obasanjo; and Tinubu describing him as navigator and asking him to come and navigate for them? Politicians will do anything to get into power. I’m not surprised and I’m not going to lose any sleep over what any politician says or does in order to win over people. I’m not saying I support what they do. I’m just saying I’m not going to lose any sleep because it doesn’t surprise me. I have experienced a situation where you have a meeting that breaks up at 11pm and you have reached certain decisions about what to do and some of the people who were at the meeting, leaving your house, have gone on to another meeting of the other side; and in the morning you remind them, ‘don’t forget our decision’, and they reply, ‘ahh… Things have changed. There are different colours… What different colours? I had gone to sleep, believing decisions have been reached. So, I wont lose any sleep and won’t be surprised. Could we then be talking about the death of ideology? Ideology, in this country, died a long time ago. It’s just that things that we got from the Western or the Eastern countries, long after they are dead, are still wagging their tails. There are people still preaching Marxism in Nigeria. Ideology in terms of inflexible beliefs are long gone except if you are talking about North Korea. But that’s a one-party system. The death of ideology is long celebrated. From your observation about what is going on, do you think this is a major shift in the balance of power in Nigeria or just a cosmetic game show that, after a while, things will settle down in the same old fashion? Are we seeing a major shift? I don’t really know. And that’s the honest truth. I am old enough to have witnessed alliances between political parties always on the eve of elections or, at times, after elections. It happened in 1959, on the eve of our independence at Action Group. Half of the Action Group was negotiating with Zik. The Akintola wing was sending messages to NPC, which the Sarduana saw as duplicity and so it ended up with the NCNC. Then UPGA was also an attempt at shaking hands across the Niger. Then in 1979 between UPN and NPP, they were again negotiating, while the NPP was also negotiating with the NPN. So, I am old enough to have gone through and seen that all those alliances falter on two platforms. Disagreement over who runs for what office or if it’s after elections, who issues the best offer for post? That is why I said I don’t know how fundamental this is. Because it then takes us back to the question I addressed earlier on ideological posturing. If a party is not founded on a firm set of beliefs, that it is just to get rid of the ruling power, if you don’t succeed electorally, you are going to break up. If the issue then starts about who runs for governor, president and so on, because also politics is about power and the power could be power within the party or power over the country….. But if you have fixed ideological postures, then the people you will invite to join you must be people who have the same ideological beliefs, who see things the way you see them. That is most likely to hold together. But in a multi ethnic, multi religious country like Nigeria, you’ve got to broaden your base. Then it will mean that if APC does not get power at the centre in 2015, that coalition will not survive. Yes, but I will even modify that by saying let us watch out for when candidates start being adopted because this is Nigeria. I am a political scientist. Let us be practical. I have seen and you have seen, in the past how many years, a man is not adopted today to be a candidate for governor, tomorrow he moves to another party. Now, what was his belief in the party he is leaving and then, after some time, he comes back. We have even had it at the presidential level, so many of them. Do you really believe that this will change within one year, that, all of a sudden, people will now embrace the values that there is nothing wrong in being in the opposition. Even the way we run the National Assembly, I am quite surprised that we really haven’t had people do an analysis of that. Nigeria is the only country that I know where, without forming an alliance, members of the minority party are made chairmen or deputy chairmen of House and Senate committees. I’ve never heard of it. How can you claim that you are in opposition and yet you are the chairman of a House committee ruled by another party? Whereas, technically, they can say ‘no, we are in opposition. We accept we are in opposition and we will fight the battle of opposition.’ But when in fact you have already been sucked into what I call status politics, how can you then say you are running a viable opposition? You have applauded what looks like an emerging two-party system. But if you look at the current configuration, would you say it poses a potent threat to the PDP in 2015 the same way you would look at that time that the military thought NRC was going to beat the SDP but they were wrong? Which means that Nigerian politics makes a fool of all of us who dare prophesy. Well, I must agree with you that the configurations show that nothing must be taken for granted whether by the ruling party or the APC coming up. That’s good for our country. Politicians are likely to be more respectful of the citizens, of the people when they actually have to fight for their victory. I think that is good for us. When nothing can be taken for granted, that is good for us. We do need the politics of citizen control, the politics of citizen respect, the politics of citizen appreciation where things centre around the interest of the citizens. Whether vote is really going to count, we need that and not where, ‘What the heck… E dibo fun wa, e o dibo, a ti wole.’ (Whether you vote for us or not, we have won). You served on this Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenge in the North and the report is ready. Things are fairly better now, but do you think the worst is over? No. I don’t think the worst is over. Things are a bit better? Oh yes. To what extent did your committee play some strategic roles in creating the kind of situation we have right now? I would rather put it this way, that the carrot and stick method adopted by the president is something that needed to be applauded. I would rather actually give more appreciation to the military intervention. I think that the symbolic value of the presidential dialogue committee was that it showed the preparedness of the federal government to negotiate if the other party is willing to negotiate. It was a diplomatic gesture. Right now, the President of the Southern Sudan and his former Vice agreed to go to Ethiopia to talk, even though the official army of the Southern Sudanese is actually giving the rebels a bloody nose. It’s like if you want to talk, I am ready to talk. But if you want to fight, I am ready to continue fighting. A government should never be afraid to negotiate. But like Kennedy said, you should never negotiate out of fear. At the time we were set up, the Boko Haram had already overrun most of Borno and Yobe states. There were some people who were beginning to feel that our committee was set up as a kind of appeasement. Therefore, it was necessary for the president to let these people know that I can use the military just as well. I think that things are better now. I would give the appreciation to the military intervention. The reason I said no to the president is because we tend in this country to think that because things have gotten better, maybe Boko Haram is finished. But Boko Haram has become an affiliate of an international movement that is not finished. If the major tree trunk is not finished, how can you say that the branch is finished? I just don’t want Nigerians to relapse into a state of complacency, where they will later turn around tomorrow and say, ‘we thought this thing was finished’. No. Number two, the factors that led to the emergence of Boko Haram are still there: Massive youth unemployment, disillusionment with the system, loss of values, loss of faith in the judicial system. These issues were raised with us by the Boko Haram members we spoke to. These were their grievances. They are all still there. You must address the issues of massive youth unemployment. It is a time bomb. You must address the issue of caring for the widows, the fatherless, orphans. You must address those issues. You must curb corruption. These people can see. Even the blind who stumbles into a pothole on a road that was constructed three months ago knows why. He walks confidently because the road is only three months old but, all of a sudden, he falls into a pothole. He then knows why that pothole was there. We must address all these issues. They are beyond partisan politics. That is why I said Boko Haram would continue. Boko Haram will continue to afflict us. In any case, mention to me one country in the world where you had religious-based insurgency and it has been defeated. I was very critical of the committee for a couple of reasons. Number one, the example you gave about what is happening in Southern Sudan. You are talking about two reasonable people who probably are people you could deal with. But here you have a bunch of people who are not doing anything that you can describe by any means as reasonable, slaughtering people. You don’t even know what their demands are. I don’t think the leadership of Boko Haram has ever come out to say that they are fighting for economic emancipation. It has always been religion-based. How do you begin to negotiate with such people who have demands that are not negotiable? They want to install theocracy in the North. How do you negotiate with that bunch of people. And then the people that your committee was meeting were hired hands. There was no evidence that your committee met with the members that mattered. If you really met with the leadership, perhaps you would have seen something more substantial? My reaction to your point is, look at where the demand for negotiation was coming from -the northern elite. The Sultan and Western countries -The United States and Britain. What do you lose by saying, ‘ fine. I’m ready to negotiate’. You’re right, the pressure didn’t come from Boko Haram members. But it came from prominent and eminent Nigerians. What do you lose by saying, ‘alright, I am ready to negotiate’. If I should turn the question around, what do you gain by saying, ‘I am not ready to negotiate’. Then they turn around and say it is because you are refusing… My point is, if people are saying negotiate, then the government should have had discussion with the northern elite and ask them to provide credible people to negotiate with. Your committee met with some of the prisoners. We still have Shekau in the bush somewhere slaughtering people. Then, what did we lose by setting up that committee and saying we are prepared to negotiate. What did we lose? Frankly, I thought the government was just embarking on a wild goose chase? We didn’t lose. A government must always…In fact, this is a classic management technique. You want us to talk, ‘I am ready to talk’. And then you fold your hands. You didn’t lose anything. You have allocated manpower resources for this, but then, that’s part of management. You have lost nothing. It would be different if the president has taken up the position, ‘because I have set up this committee, I will order the military to stop action’ and then Boko Haram had continued to gain ground. Then you will have a point. On the other hand, rather than have to confront a situation where the president will be accused of showing lack of respect for the northern elite, showing insensitivity to the people who are actually suffering and who have come up with a solution package…. And also, the Americans and the British saying you are just using iron fist, which is not working, according to them. The president said, ‘Okay, here is a committee headed by a minister in my government’. He gained because he was prepared to negotiate. Apart from those prisoners, we did meet important leaders of the sect, not Shekau. Last week, somebody still came up to say he was Shekau. The CIA confirmed that those tapes are fake. I had come to the conclusion that actually what Boko Haram has decided to do is that every leader of the sect would be called Shekau. There was another spokesperson for Boko Haram that they kept using his name – Abu Qaqa. There is no way to find out the real fact. Except if you conduct DNA and even at that, do you know who Shekau’s father was, because you have to get a relative of his? What happened with Boko Haram is that they have been trained by the Al-Qaeda international network. It is not true that it was just the foot soldiers that we met. Even with the foot soldiers, meeting them served a very good purpose. For the first time in my life, I met Nigerians who could not be bribed. Money was nothing to them. Just as they were prepared to kill, killing them also was nothing to them because they believed in a cause. So, it was that cause that you needed to attack. And that was where some eminent Sheiks who were on our panel took them on, based on the issues of the Quran. At the end, those Sheiks were able to persuade them that the interpretation by Yusuf and Shekau of the Quran was wrong. That was why they were able to go on tape and they did. And the advantage of it was that when this tape was then played, there were other foot soldiers who then said, ‘Wait a minute…if our commanders are saying this’…all these efforts were to make them understand that their cause and their interpretation of the Quran given to them by Shekau was faulty. They were not offered anything, not even their freedom. As far as I know, they are still in the prisons. There are some of them who didn’t give us the light of the day. You could tell from their body language. But there were others who listened, who were persuaded and were convinced. What lessons have you learnt from the exercise? Dealing with Boko Haram has alerted me, and this is the message I would like to give to Nigerians. Usually, we think every man has his price. Therefore, don’t worry. How much? But I met a group that couldn’t be bought and they may not be the only group. If you push people to the wall, whether in the Niger-Delta, or in any part of Nigeria, you may never know when they cross that boundary. And then you know you really have trouble on your hands. Up till now, we always believed that money could solve all the problems. ‘Throw money at them’. But these ones couldn’t be bought. There was a guy, when he was arrested, his wife was pregnant and he had a little baby and they were separated. He was imprisoned somewhere. The wife and the kid in another prison. He was aware of where they were. So it was like, ‘look, cooperate with us, and, incidentally, your wife had a baby boy’. He said he knew. Don’t think because you separated them he didn’t know. Of course, prison is porous. Then we said to him, ‘don’t you want to go and visit your wife and new baby?’ And he said, ‘What for?’ He said where he was, that was the way Allah want it and where his wife and baby were, that was the way Allah wanted them to be. It is a struggle that does not allow for family sensitivity. That one, are you now going to say we’ll give him money? So, that is a lesson that was imprinted on my mind, which I would like Nigerians to pay serious attention to. Let us stop doing things as business as usual. Things are not business as usual in this country. There are the aggrieved and you are right that in the case of these people, they found a religion on which to hook on their grievances. There may be other groups. It could be ideology that they would hook their grievances on. Let us stop ignoring grievances. This could tie to the issue of National Dialogue, National Conference that the president is calling. From your experience, would you say that the engagement would yield something profound to address this type of challenge? I am a firm believer in National Conference. People have been demanding it. People had thought this would be a solution, a platform that will address grievances, fears and come up with a solution. Somewhere along the line, the president seemed to have become persuaded that he could pull it off, that the situation is ripe enough for him to attempt this. Would he succeed? I don’t know because the conference is not by the president for the president. It is for you and I and the kind of people we elect that will go there. It’s going to depend on the seriousness of the delegates you send. It is unfortunate that the APC has decided to boycott it. I think it is gravely unfortunate. Another lesson I have learnt in life, don’t boycott things. Life goes on. We have suffered. It has never worked in Nigeria, we have boycotted, boycotted and the country continues. And, unfortunately, you can’t reverse it. When you then decide to join, maybe whatever system they put in place, you can’t say let us go and revisit…I am not a believer in boycott anymore. Elections were boycotted in 1960. Whatever it was, the elections were held. Government was still formed and, until the military came in, that government was ruling. General Abubakar offered to meet NADECO. We are on record. I know the messages sent to me: ‘Don’t take part in the transition. The transition is not going to last. It’s a contraption’. The contraption is in place since 1999. If somebody like Tinubu had decided to obey NADECO and not take part, what would have happened today? Number two, the outcome will depend on the discussion there. The success will depend on the attitude of the National Assembly because, frankly, the Constitution did not make any provision for National Conference. But this is a country where we came up with the Doctrine of Necessity when we were confronted with a problem. I’m sure we have enough SANs, who can come up with how to get the National Assembly and the president to read from the same page so that the outcome of the National Conference can become law. But I must say this. I admire the president. If not for anything for one thing. I may be wrong, I don’t believe I know of any government in the world that would decide to embark on a major programme and put critics of the government on the advisory committee to come up with modalities. If you know Femi Okurounmu, Professor Nwabueze was there to start with, he (Nwabueze) dropped because of old age. Asemota. I can mention about six. These are difficult people to deal with and you now put them into a committee to come up with modalities. It takes courage. Normally, government will say ‘we are looking for our own people. ‘That one is on the same page with us, put him there. That one is not our friend. No, no, no remove him from the list.’ That is how government operates, frankly, whether here, in America or Britain. They will say ‘don’t put him on the committee, he is a troublemaker’. These are the people the president looked for. I admire Mr President for that, it shows courage. I am not even sure I have that kind of courage. I want to ask two questions. Please encapsulate the gains of that committee. What would you say the committee achieved? Two, from what you said earlier, it’s like you more or less canvassed compensation for victims of Boko Haram. And I know the president had said there wouldn’t be compensation. Did the committee recommend that? Is the committee in disagreement with the president on that? Let me take the last question first. No, we didn’t canvass compensation. We canvassed victims’ support. What’s the difference between the two? A man, a driver loses his left eye in the bombing. If he goes to court, the judge can award N2m to N3 million compensation. We said no. Instead, look at the man. He lost one eye and can’t drive again. What does he want to do? What do we suggest to him to help him maintain his family, educate his children and put food on the table and have another life? He might decide to become a carpenter. In this case, government pays for the man to be trained to be a carpenter. You set up a workshop for him after he graduates. You give him the running capital, so that from the proceeds of that workshop, he can now maintain his family. That is victims’ support. All the money you are going to put into it may not be more than N5m. You don’t even know the figure. We are not concentrating on the figure. We are concentrating on giving the man an alternative life. Take a woman who lost her husband. Maybe, she has run away from Maiduguri to settle in Opebi, Ikeja. Resettlement. Is it a small shop that will set up this woman who lost her husband, the breadwinner, and left to cater for the children? How much will it be to set up a shop for her and give her running capital? That is victims’ support. But the moment you talk about compensation, it is a legal term. Then, you have to start setting up a committee to decide how much you compensate the woman for the loss of her husband. We didn’t want to go down that road. We were reading on the same page with the president. I was the Chairman of the Victims’ Support Committee. We wrote the draft for a Victim Support Agency that would handle this matter. Did the president accept that? Yes, he did. Now the first part of the question, what were the gains. The committee took a holistic look at the problems facing Nigeria that encourages insurgency all over the country. We came up with a recommendation for a Marshal Plan for the whole country. Not just the North-Eeast but for the whole country. Manifestations of insurgency are kidnapping, blowing up of oil wells, armed robbery. We didn’t put a figure on it but we suggested a Marshal Plan that would rescue Nigeria. Recall that in the new budget, the president said N2 billion intervention fund for the North-east and, when they complained that it was too small, the Minister of State for Finance said that was just the first tranche for this year out of the total amount. I am not privy to what the president is going to do with our report. And I am not privy to what he has decided to do, but, obviously, he has accepted the concept of an intervention fund. The other gain, as far as I am concerned, is the way we reached out to the victims. We had a meeting with the surviving victims of the Madalla bombing as well as the surviving victims of the NYSC office that was blown up. I remember one of the priests who still had shrapnel wounds and lost one of his children. He brought another son who had metal plate…Frankly, there was no dry eye. Everybody was moved to tears. But the man said the ‘healing has just started by the fact that the government sent you people’. He said apart from the government delegation that came the day after the bombing, they had seen nobody, such that they thought they had been forgotten. So, you have that psychological reaching out to them. And it happened to me also in Kano when I went to the hospital. There was a man on bed who, first of all, told me off. He asked, what did I come to the hospital to do? Have I come to say sorry? Is that what he needed? I asked, did he mind if I sat on his bed? He told me to sit wherever I wanted to sit. I sat next to him on his bed and we just allowed him to talk. And it turned out that he lost his three children and when he removed the clothes covering him, he had tubes coming out of…I saw he had lost his vital organ. He said even if he wanted to start all over again, he could not start. After he had talked, I started calming him down. I said I was not even going to say sorry, because I didn’t do it. I told him the president sent us to let him know that he knew they exist. I spoke to him and gave him a little package. He calmed down and gave us advice on what to do for the victims. We went around the country, reaching out. This is a remarkable difference from what used to happen in this country where no one remembers such victims. I remember when Yar’Adua became president, I called one of his aides to tell the president to write a letter to victims of a major accident that happened at that time somewhere in Delta and a lot of people died. Let us try to show that government can be compassionate. This is what I expect First Ladies to be doing, frankly. When there are disasters, I expect the First Lady to go to the hospital. Obviously, she can’t go to every home. This is the compassionate face of government. We did that. We showed the compassionate face of government. To me, those are what we count as gains. Obviously, we didn’t persuade Boko Haram to give up but we came up with what I would regard as an exhaustive report on what causes insurgency. If you go to government archives, there are up to 50 of such reports that had been written. I cannot claim that to be our own success. But those two, victims’ support and proposing a Marshal Plan to actually pull Nigerians out of the gutters of misery, I would regard those as having been worth the time spent on it. As a fallout of the work of your committee, you have said that things have improved. Maybe you have Boko Haram boxed into the corner, but you have also seen them grow in terms of their capability. Before, you didn’t have columns of pick-up vans. Now they have all that. They have more ordnance. They even attacked military bases. They never had that kind of capability. So when we say things have improved…. (Cuts in) When the president asked me, I said, no. He asked me, do I think… Now what I’m getting at is, how do you rate the capability of the military to deal with this problem? I am not in a position to answer that question on the military tactics being adopted. But this has to do with the fact that I am not the Minister of Defence, a service chief, not the National Security Adviser; so I don’t really know. Do we have operational drones? I know the president went to inaugurate one, but is it operational? If those drones are operational, you will be able to pick up. Although they are expensive to run, you need drones. You have to pick up the columns and before it gets there, you can send bombers after them or you set an ambush for them. I, myself, have questions to ask. Let me use this opportunity to say this. There was a front page story in one of the newspapers last time. Somebody designed toys for his child. And he has designed this thing that can actually fly. I looked at that thing. Believe me, if I were the president of the country, my National Security Adviser would have gone to pick up that man. So, you’ve got brains to do this. How can we make this thing operational? First of all, what other brain waves have you got? This is how to make a breakthrough. Obviously, the guy has the technological skills. This thing flew out of his compound and crashed into another place. That is the way to develop Nigeria, not through PhD. Yes, you need PhDs, but research and development. Go back through history and see. There was this man, during the Italian renaissance, he’s noted now more for sculpture. They came up with files of his drawings. He was able to dissect the human body, that showed where muscles are. He did designs for submarines at a time nobody even heard of ships apart from wooden canoes. He designed space ships. He never went to school. Americans spent $300billion on their space programme. India spent $1.65billion on their own. You want to tell me that Nigeria cannot afford $1.65billion? I am sure, in one month, we steal more than 1.65billion in Nigeria. That’s how much Indian space programme cost. The Chinese did the same thing. Simply because while America will spend $50 million trying to develop a pen that would not drip in space, the Chinese would just take a pencil along into space. It doesn’t cost them anything, the pencil is already there. So, the Chinese spent $1.6 billion. And they have put an explorer on the moon now. Nigeria can afford this. I know I have been preaching this since my days at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs about what Nigeria can be doing, even before it has solved its poverty problem. Other countries have done so. Give us something to make us proud. I’m 72 now. I want this country to do something so that on my death bed, I can smile and say yes, my country made it. Right now, there is nothing to make me say my country made it. I believe in celebrating 100 years. I am not looking down on that. It has been a difficult existence for us. But whether we become so pessimistic or so depressed about the performance of our leaders, that even things we should celebrate, we don’t want to celebrate them. But a hundred years of our existence, not so peaceful, can’t be peaceful. It cannot. We are human beings, we are not robots. Human beings with fears, with misunderstandings. No, it can’t be peaceful. That we are still together after 100 years is worth celebrating. But I want something more than that to celebrate on my death bed. What is your comment on Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan? All that needs to be say has been said by the exchange of those letters. I shy away from getting myself involved in a situation where the whole purpose is to say, ‘Hey, I’m still alive. I’m still relevant’. I shy away from that. Enough have been said about those letters. Some of the comments have been useful, some to add fuel to the fire. The other comments not useful at all. They were just drawing attention to themselves. This is a New Year. I prefer to just watch and see things unfolding. Even though, I am a professor of political science, I am not a prophet. So, I will join all of you in folding my hands and watching events unfold and let the waves carry us to where the waves are going. Was Nigeria snubbed by South Africa at the funeral of Nelson Mandela? Yes we were snubbed. There is no other answer to that question. But the Jonathan administration is not to blame for that. If the snub had been directed at the president, then why were other Nigerians who are prominent internationally not invited and given a prominent mention? The root cause lies in the propensity of so-called eminent Nigerians going round backstabbing other Nigerians, running them down internationally, all in an attempt to give the impression that nobody else counts except themselves. Since 1979, we have always had two presidents on each occasion, one located at the capital and the other self-styled located elsewhere, entertaining and gossiping with members of the diplomatic corps and running down state functionaries. There were others who also indulged in these disgraceful and shameful practices. However in the process, the international community saw through the despicable characters and adjudge them worthless. The end result is that it is the whole of Nigeria that suffers as the international community decides to give Nigeria a wide berth and not get involved in the Nigerian wahala. That explains why those who trumpeted their relationship with Nelson Mandela were nowhere to be seen at the funeral. *Source Vanguard]]>
Why Al-Mustapha and I are plotting a tsunami – Dokubo-Asari
January 1, 2014 | 1 Comments
Aderonke Ogunleye* [caption id="attachment_7809" align="alignleft" width="240"] Asari Dokubo[/caption] Mr. Dokubo-Asari says those opposing the president are wasting their time as the 2015 presidential election is a foregone conclusion. He explains that Mr. Jonathan is only waiting to be sworn in The President of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Muhajid Asari-Dokubo told PREMIUM TIMES in this interview (conducted before his recent arrest in Benin Republic) that nothing would stop President Goodluck Jonathan from winning the 2015 presidential election. He also explains why he is working on a “tsunami” with Hamza Al-Mustapha and other ethnic warlords. Excerpts: There were reports recently quoting you as saying there will be bloodshed in the country. Did you really make that statement? Yes, I did. If you look at the attacks that have been directed at Goodluck since it became apparent that he was going to become president since 2010, certain individuals especially the Ciromas, Lawal Kaita, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, have also made several statements that if President Goodluck Jonathan become president they will make sure that he fails. I quote: Lawal Kaita said ‘It is the turn of the north to produce the president, that if Jonathan by default wins the nomination of the PDP, we will stop him at the general elections. If we fail to stop him at the general election, even if he wins he will not be able to rule we will make the country ungovernable for him.’ Goodluck Jonathan comes from a place. Nobody has a monopoly of violence. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We cannot sit, fold our hands and watch. If we had done that Goodluck Jonathan would have been killed long time ago. He comes from a place, a place that feeds the nation. Nigeria is only existing because of Ijaw, Ogoni, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ibo and Urhobo oil. Nigeria is only existing because of its access to the coast provided by the Ijaws, Itskeri and the Yorubas. Nigeria would have become a landlocked country. So we contribute to the survival of Nigeria. All these men have gained from the misnomer called Nigeria because Nigeria claims to be a Federal Republic but it’s not, it’s a very crude primitive state where we have an all-powerful centre. So it’s a reaction. We have to prepare for then. The last interview I granted I said it on Channels television, there was no such thing. I said and I repeat and I have no apology to anybody that those who said that the blood of the monkeys, baboons, dogs and if they want to soak them on the water we will help them to soak the blood of the baboons and the dogs on the street; if they want to soak them in water we will help them. That was my statement. Did you receive presidential pardon and amnesty? I lead the people. I was president of Ijaw Youth Council, which is the biggest youth group up till date and I’m also the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force and Niger Delta Peoples’ Salvation Funds. Did I tell you that I collected amnesty? I am not a criminal. I don’t know what you are talking about. Asari isn’t a criminal. I am not a militant and I have a pedigree and I cannot soil my name. If the Nigerian state has any evidence to criminalize me they should go to court. They’ve done that several times and they failed without evidence. Yes people who took amnesty have been criminalized, that’s what it means. You pardon someone who has committed an offence, not all of them were criminals. But if you accept pardon as a criminal, why will I speak for you? You have accepted willingly. I did not collect amnesty and the majority of my people did not. Only those who broke away from us did. Did you accept presidential pardon? That question doesn’t sound right. I was granted bail by a competent court of jurisdiction and I am still on bail. I employed my lawyers. We went to the Supreme Court for bail application and for the first time in my life, the court suspended the constitution of this country because of me. The court says people can be arrested and be detained as long as the government wants. It’s a shame on the judiciary of this country that the Supreme Court gave a judgment suspending the constitution. That’s why some of us feel Goodluck is playing with these political miscreants who call themselves governors. He should hit them with the hammer. If I was hit with the hammer by Obasanjo, what is holding Goodluck Jonathan. He should hit these political miscreants with a hammer. Obasanjo should be arrested and detained, and Atiku too. They are ordinary citizens of this country. They are nobody. I don’t know about Babangida (because) he has not come out to talk about where he belongs. The government first refused to bring me to court. Yar’ Adua was compelled to release me from prison because of the bribe, because of the oil, that they want production which had fallen into 600,000 barrels. Nigeria was losing money, so they wanted to release Asari but I refused to sign. So many things were offered me but I said no and I refused to sign. Henry Okah and others signed. My mother died at the age of 29. I’m 50. My father died at the age 59. I’m 50. So, why should I be afraid of death? It will come when it will come. When God says you are going to die, you will die. So I cannot mortgage my integrity, my honour, my pedigree and that of my children. What is your take on the amnesty programme of this administration? I am one of the people who have been against amnesty. Amnesty is a crime against humanity. That someone raped, killed, committed all sorts of crime and after doing that, because you want money, mostly to steal, then you pardon the person. A man kidnapped another man, put him through trauma and you pardon him. A man raped and you pardon him. A man killed and you pardon him because you want money. But your friends are beneficiaries… My friends and I are not the same. My child and I are not the same, even my wife. None of my siblings took amnesty and NDPVF didn’t take amnesty. God has a way of preparing things since the time of creation. You recently met with Major Hamza Al-Mustapha. What was the meeting all about? You cannot divorce politics from whatever man is doing. Even between man and woman, politics is involved. The meeting with Al-Mustapha is to bring peace. Faseun, Uwazuruike, Yerima Shettima, Abacha, Tony Major and over 50 different organisations were there. Government wants to be oblivious of what is going on. It is a tsunami. It is the first time that people from the Caliphate, Borno and people from other part of this country are meeting. People have come to say ‘look, whatever has happened before we should put it aside, have a focus and put an eye on the future.’ All of us have suffered from one form of deprivation or the other. All of us have been in prison – myself, Pa Faseun, Uwazuruike, Al-Mustapha, Mohammed. We have been imprisoned at one time or the other. We have all suffered one form of deprivation or the other. Our collective suffering should be a sacrifice to bring hope to our people. We met and we saw the sincerity in them. Some people say I hate the north, but I laugh. They say I hate the Fulanis, Kanuris and I find that funny. I have two boys and their mother is a Fulani, living among Kanuri people from Borno state. One of them is named after me – Mujahid Dokubo and the other one is Nurul-Islam. They have been living with their mother. My son even speaks Hausa and Fulfude. He doesn’t even know how to speak my language. I am married to a Shuwa Arab also from Borno Empire. My in-laws come to my house, eat, sleep, live in my house and we do things together. When it comes to protecting the interest of my people, it is beyond me because of my personal life. So if people want to kill my people, I should fold my hands because I’m married to a Fulani woman? When everyone dies it will remain only my two sons and myself. God created me an Ijaw man for a purpose’ Are you supporting the president because he is Ijaw as you? Me, I no dey pretend! They say charity begins at home. Goodluck is an Ijaw man, who will I support? Prophet Mohammed said whether your brother is right or wrong, support him. And the people asked why you should support your brother when he is wrong. The Prophet said support him by correcting him. I am one of the most fiery, balanced critics of Goodluck, inside and outside the house. When the President does anything wrong and I don’t have access to him, I come out and shout at the roof top that he should fix things and they will start fixing it. The most important thing is that he is an Ijaw man. There is no compromise on that. As president of Ijaw Youth Council I’m to protect their interest. I’m an Ijaw man and I will protect their interest. In terms of performance, if you put Nigerian past leaders together, he has outperformed them. The Benin-Lagos Expressway is now passable. Obasanjo was there for eight years, he didn’t fix it. Abdulsalami was there, and also Abacha. During IBB’s time, the road was okay. Look at the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway. They budgeted for it every year. In all the eight years of Obasanjo, they didn’t go more than 5km on that road and money was budgeted, appropriated, misapplied and misappropriated. The road was comatose. Under Yar’Adua, they said N500 billion was released for special agricultural funds on a piece of paper, but nobody saw the money till today. Nigeria agricultural sector has come alive and everybody knows that. The investment profile of Nigeria has increased. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) profile has increased. But there is widespread insecurity… Nigeria is in a civil orchestrated by the Ciromas and the Kaitas trying to breath evil right on the back of a tiger. Abeg he go enter tiger belle. In Niger delta we have organization on the ground to put heads and balancing that when they put order everybody fall in line. We have order. But in the north, they don’t have the capacity because of years of deprivation of their people. The billion they made over this years doesn’t translate to the life of the ordinary northerners. The northerners are the poorest, the northerners are the most diseased, there is a lot of underdevelopment in the North. After years of looting so they have no control over their people so when they were thinking Boko Haram will be their own militia, their own militants they didn’t know how far Boko Haram will go. I schooled at Gamboru Gala. I learnt Quran there. Today Gamboru Gala is a no-go area. What can the president do? Goodluck Jonathan should declare a war in Nigeria. The country is in a state of war. Foreigners are coming into Nigeria, encouraged by the Ciromas and the Kaitas. These men should be arrested. They are the people who have come out to say they are displeased and they have done it and its happening. They should be arrested. They say if Goodluck wins they will make the country ungovernable for him and it has happened. If a witch says he will kill you today and tomorrow you have headache, it is the witch that caused it. The president should declare a war against these men. They have all apparatuses of a state. They are not ashamed. They said as far as they are concerned they are at war. Obasanjo brought helicopters to bomb my camp for 11 months we fought. In which state where he declared a state of emergency did he allow the political structure to remain? How will the president be playing with a life when we know and politicians from Borno state have accused SAS (Senator Ali Modu Sherif) that’s he’s responsible for setting up Boko Haram and he is a stalwart of APC. So why will the president be playing with them with kids gloves. These men should put in jail…. If I was put in prison, why should Ciroma not be out in prison. Why will Kaita and SAS not be put in prison? As for IBB, one statement or the other that he made is not enough for him to be put in jail. After that, he has made many mitigating statements. Goodluck Jonathan should use hammer against those political miscreants. They are all miscreants and hammer must be used against them. There is only one registered PDP known to INEC and its only PDP. Jonathan is indulging. If you break the law you should be treated as a lawbreaker. What is your relationship between you and your governor, Chibuike Amaechi? Let me tell you – Amaechi is a traitor, a traitor to all people of the South-South and South East. I’ve said it over and over when this thing started that as a traitor you will be treated as a traitor. Goodluck is shielding him. The president is not even fighting him. If Goodluck were fighting Amaechi, by now he would not go to Port Harcourt again. Many people have made sacrifices. Ken Saro Wiwa fought for our people. This man who calls himself Amaechi, who never won election, is a miscreant. We know his origin. He was Peter Odili’s ‘houseboy’ that Odili imposed on the people of Ikwerre Constituency without winning election. They collectively deceived the people of South-South. We were all student union leaders. I’m older than him. Can Amaechi win election in his unit? Has Amaechi ever supported Goodluck? This is how you indulge this criminal, common criminal who is supposed to be in prison. How did he get over one million votes? It’s rigging. I voted for Goodluck. Immediately after the election the position of PDP was that the South West should take the speakership seat. Amaechi and his people he brought to the National Assembly by manipulation supported Aminu Tambuwal and that is why they are heading important committees in the National Assembly. These are the characters working with this miscreant that we are indulging. At what point did the president and Amaechi fall out? I have already told you that all the PDP legislators that came from Rivers State stood against the president and supported Tambuwal. The problem started since then. The only president that can be compared to Goodlcuk in Nigeria is Shagari. He is peaceful, he has human feelings and he doesn’t want to hurt an ant. Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole from the South-South have projected that if Goodluck is the president for the next four years, they will become irrelevant. They will be out of power for four years. Oshhiolome will be out of power for two years plus. Oshiomhole is my brother, but when it comes to standing with the president, friendship has got nothing to do. If oshiomhole is going for the presidency today, I will stake my life for him. But if he wants to go and join people because of political agenda or survival, we should jettison sacrifice and die for the South-South. So if Goodluck does not come back, anyone of them will aspire for the position of Senate President or the Speaker. Oshimhole is level headed than this small boy, Amaechi. He is not doing his own like a matured person, same as Rochas Okorocha. If Goodluck can complete eight years, they believe there is the likelihood that the presidency will go up to the north, that is if he wins the second term which I know he will. The political interest of our people is at stake. They will chase Rochas Okorocha away. Rochas is a goner and he knows it and he will go. That is why some of us are going to be aggressive with Goodluck. There is no begging, there’s no retreat, no surrender. We are not taking any Prisoner of War. It is going to be total vanquish, no Prisoner of War. This one is do or die. We are fighting for our soul and our survival now. They have aligned with Tinubu and we are going to see how it goes if Goodluck will contest. Let’s see how you will pass Goodluck and sit in Aso Rock. It is not about weapons to fight. Everything will be glaring and we will see it clearly. We heard Amacehi has been buying guns for the people. It is human beings that will shoot those guns. When the time comes we will see. Oshimhole is very mild. He opens ways for reconciliation, but Amaechi is not allowing reconciliation. He has reached the point of no return. What is your take on the opposition of some PDP chieftains against President Goodluck Jonathan? Kwankwaso is in charge of Kano. What is Goodluck business in Kano? They printed Kwankwaso with Buhari’s posters in Kano. Whether he’s behind him or not, they will not win the election. I don’t know whether he is part of it or not. Kwankwaso support is nothing. Atiku has started singing a new song. He said Goodluck could contest in 2015. I read it (in the newspapers). I read it somewhere that Obasanjo is the problem of the PDP. Bukola Saraki did not support Goodluck; he was a presidential candidate. It is that same grudge that he is bearing against Goodluck. Each of the states has its own political colouration. Goodluck didn’t win any state in the North East and North West zones. People forget so soon. He got two-thirds of 36 states. He will have the two-thirds and win the 2015 presidential election. The election is concluded, it is a foregone conclusion. When they are contesting election in the USA they will tell who will win. We have done our calculations and we know Goodluck has already won. If Goodluck won the last election with six million votes (then), now it will be 10 million votes. Most of them will start begging very soon and some have started begging. Are you disturbed about the drop in revenue in Nigeria? He who owns the land owns everything on the land and above the land. The Niger Delta people own all the things on the land and above the land in accordance with equity. They can’t steal what belongs to them. In accordance with equity and good conscience and natural justice, we will continue to have problems. You can’t take it from the Niger Delta and bring it to build houses in Abuja and go and develop Lagos and create Dangote, Otedola, Adenuga, Emeka Offor and even create Dokubo Asari. There must be natural justice and great conscience Somebody sitting there at the National Assembly is opposing the Petroleum Industry Bill, a bill that will give more capacity to the oil producing communities. Is it right for the Niger Deltans to steal oil, because oil theft is on the rise? The oil belongs to them. They have the right to take it. My problem is the environmental degrading that comes with taking of the oil. They have the right to take it, but have no right to destroy the environment. *Source Premium Times]]>
Mali ex-president Amadou Toure in high treason probe
December 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
Mali has announced plans to investigate former President Amadou Toumani Toure for high treason.
The office of Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly said in a televised statement it had presented the case to Mali’s highest court.
The government accuses Mr Toure of failing in his duty as commander of the armed forces when Islamist militants attacked the country’s north last year.
Mr Toure was ousted in a military coup in April 2012 and fled to Senegal.
The coup plunged Mali into chaos, allowing an alliance of ethnic Tuareg separatists and Islamists to take over the whole northern desert region.
Earlier this year, the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents were ousted from the major towns with the help of France and West African troops.
On Friday, government spokesman Mahamane Baby said Mr Toure would be investigated for “his participation in an exercise to demoralise the army by naming incompetent officers and soldiers, whose patriotism was questionable, to high-level posts”.
Mr Toure formally resigned in April last year, as part of a deal for the soldiers to hand back power.
He is thought to be residing in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
Mr Toure first seized power in 1991 from long-time military ruler Moussa Traore.
He then organised multi-party elections and stood down before returning to power after winning polls in 2002.
The coup, which was partly triggered by anger at government corruption and failure to equip the armed forces, took place weeks before Mr Toure was due to step down.
His toppling caused a rift between pro-junta soldiers, known as green berets, and those loyal to the former president, known as red berets.
Last month, the coup leader, Gen Amadou Sanogo, was charged with murder and a series of other crimes.
Analysts said his arrest was seen as a sign that the recently elected civilian government was showing its teeth to the military.
South Sudan Offers Olive Branch To Rebels, Releases Prisoners
December 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
South Sudan said on Friday it was ready for a ceasefire and would release eight of 11 senior politicians arrested over an alleged coup plot, raising hopes it was edging towards a deal to end ethnic-based fighting ravaging the world’s newest nation.
JUBA, (Reuters) – There was no immediate reaction from Riek Machar, the former vice president who the government accuses of starting the conflict that has spread quickly over the landlocked state, threatening its vital oil industry.
“We have agreed in principle to a ceasefire to begin immediately, but our forces are prepared to defend themselves if attacked,” the government said on its Twitter feed.
Fighting between rival groups of soldiers erupted in the capital Juba on December 15, then triggered clashes in half of South Sudan’s 10 states – often along ethnic lines.
The U.N. Security Council approved plans on Tuesday to almost double the number of U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police in a bid to protect some 63,000 civilians sheltering at its bases.
The additional peacekeepers are being drawn from other nearby missions and the first reinforcements arrived in Juba on Friday: 72 Bangladeshi police officers from the U.N. peacekeeping operation in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Washington, other Western powers and regional governments, fearful of a civil war in a fragile region with notoriously porous borders, have tried to mediate.
The release of eight of the 11 people detained in the aftermath of the fighting suggests South Sudan’s government may have softened its stance over who is to blame.
“It’s my expectation … that once released, they (the eight) will participate in a constructive manner in the efforts to bring about peace … and resolve the political issues that sparked this conflict,” U.S. Special Envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth said on Friday evening.
However, it may not be enough to satisfy Machar, who demanded all the 11 released as a condition for negotiations.
Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters the authorities would continue to hold three of the most prominent figures – ex-Finance Minister Kosti Manibe, ex-Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor, and the former Secretary General of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum.
Two of the eight were already free, Ateny said.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
President Kiir’s hand was strengthened earlier in the day when South Sudan’s neighbours threw their weight behind him, saying they would not accept any bid to oust him.
Addressing a special summit of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African regional body, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kiir and Machar to seize “the small window of opportunity” and start peace talks.
“Let it be known that we in IGAD will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a duly and democratically elected government in South Sudan. Violence has never provided optimum solutions,” Kenyatta said in a statement.
The army also said it had regained control of Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state, a territory which currently supplies all of South Sudan’s crude after fighting shut down oilfields in other areas.
“(Government forces) are 100 percent in control of Malakal town and are pursuing the forces of the coup,” army spokesman Philip Aguer said by phone in South Sudan’s capital Juba. There was no independent confirmation of the report.
Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in July and accused him of trying to start a coup when the fighting between rival groups of soldiers started in Juba.
Machar denied the charge, though he acknowledged he was leading soldiers fighting the government in the days that followed.
The IGAD leaders said peace talks should start by December 31 and called for a creation of an “aid corridor” to help badly-needed supplies reach remote areas.
The United Nations said about 121,600 people have been displaced during the 13 days of fighting. Well over 1,000 people have already been killed, according to the head of the U.N. mission in Sudan.
Kenyatta said South Sudan and regional governments had to move quickly to resolve what he called a political problem within the ruling SPLM party which had degenerated into a violent confrontation.
“The present crisis, if not contained, will produce millions of internally displaced persons and refugees and set back this region immeasurably,” Kenyatta told the regional leaders.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 under a peace agreement to end decades of war with the Khartoum government in the north. That conflict also saw fighting between southern factions, including one splinter group led by Machar.
Meaningful dialogue more feasible if President Salva steps down and releases political prisoners says Mabior Garang
December 25, 2013 | 6 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
In a tale that leaves many heads wagging with incomprehension, the promised ushered in by independence for South Sudan three years ago may have been a mirage as a combination of inept leadership and power struggle have brought the country into what many fear could be a civil war. There are many who have pointed accusing fingers at President Salva Kiir for fomenting a crisis when there ought to be none. The loss of life has been senseless says Mabior Garang son of the late venerable South Sudanese leader Dr John Garang.Mabior who has been consistently critical of the present leadership in South Sudan for derailing the original vision of Dr Garang and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-SPLM says what is been described as a coup was nothing but a botched attempt by President Salva to purge political rivals. With the events which triggered the current crisis, President Salva squandered the authority he had to play a decisive role in putting the country back on the rails and the best option for him now is to step aside, and release political prisons for meaningful dialogue to have a chance.
Mr Mabior Garang, thanks for accepting to offer your perspectives on developments in Southern Sudan, what exactly is going on, was it a coup, and if it was why?
The events that took place in Juba on 15/12/2013 were not an attempted coup as was alleged by Gen. Salva Kiir and his government. I would instead call it an assassination attempt, designed to get rid of those that pose the greatest threat to the Chairman of the SPLM through the democratic process.
Opinion is divided now between President Salva’s camp that it was a coup and those who say there was no coup, but there was fighting, and there was blood shed, who was responsible for this?
I think it is important first, to pause and recognize that this was a senseless loss of life and that there are many families that have lost loved ones; my heart goes to them.
It is important to have a background of the events leading up to the violence that erupted on the 15/12, because people always see events at their precipice. In order to understand what led to the violence we must understand what happened on the 06/12/2013. This was the day that the current SPLM political prisoners held a press conference at SPLM House in Juba to inform the public about the stagnation in their Movement and the reason for the leadership crisis that had lingered for many months. The press conference ended with the Secretary General of the SPLM announcing that on Saturday the press conference would be followed with a rally by the SPLM to give further details to the public about how the Chairman had frustrated development programs within the movement.
I shall not go into the details of the press conference as it was made available to the press on that day; however, the main points that angered the President of the Republic (who is also the Chairman of the SPLM) was the charge by the 13 political Prisoners that the president had neglected the National Army and that he was building his own private militia. The other point that displeased the Chairman of the SPLM was the charge that his office had borrowed 4.5 Billion USD, yet neither the ministry of finance the Parliament or the public for that matter where aware of this loan; no one knew from whom it was borrowed, nor for what it was used.
The 13 Political Prisoners held this press conference after they had exhausted efforts to resolve the leadership crisis internally within the party, without going public. They had sent countless letters to the office of the Chairman via the office of the Secretary General, this is on record. These requests by the majority of the members of the SPLM Political Bureau where repeatedly ignored by the Chairman, leading them to go public on the 06/12/2013.
The leadership crisis within the SPLM was prompted by the fact that there were some senior members of the SPLM that had made their intentions known of their desire to contest for the Chair during primaries. This was in full exercise of their civil rights and liberties guaranteed to them by the constitution of the Republic and the SPLM constitution. It is also worthy to note that the Chairman had announced to members that he would not contest the 2015 elections, and he even confided this matter to President Thabo Mbeki when he was mediating during the Higlig crisis.
The Chairman then convened a meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) on the same day that the 13 Political Prisoners had scheduled their rally. Having been informed that the Chairman had convened a meeting of the NLC, the group of 13 was hopeful that it would be an opportunity for them to resolve their differences in a cordial manner. However, this was not to be. The meeting allegedly broke down to name calling which continued for two sessions over a period of two days, which prompted the group to boycott the meeting on the third day. This deeply angered the Chairman, and this is what he has labeled as a coup.
The truth; however, is that the president in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the SPLA ordered that the Tigers should be disarmed by their junior colleagues within the same unit. This problem was compounded by the fact that a rumor started circulating that an arrest warrant had been issued for the former Vice President. This series of events led to an argument, a gunfight ensued that rapidly spread to other units and has continued to cause massive desertions.
The President then quickly moved to call this mutiny a coup d’état, and arrest his comrades that had challenged him within the party without evidence. The government moved to bomb two of its own properties using T-72 Tanks, Mortar fire and RPG rocket launchers. These where the (government) houses in which Dr. Riek Machar resided and Hon. Gier Chuang, they were looted and destroyed; indicating that they were out to murder their victims.
These Political Prisoners have now been in government police custody since the 16/12/2013 without charge, they have not been provided with legal counsel, and have faced the police brutality that most of our citizens are so familiar with. I don’t believe that it was a coup d’état because there are no military commanders that have been arrested to link the coup plotters with the coup. There were some political prisoners that were at home sleeping when they were arrested; who mounts a coup and then goes to their home to sleep.
I would not say that what is happening in South Sudan was a coup d’état, I would say that it was an assassination attempt, the Chairman wanted to kill his political opponents by framing them.
It looks like this did not just come out of the blues, as people were forced out of government and the SPLM’s executive dissolved, why is these crisis?
The reason for the crisis apart from what I have explained above, is an accumulation of the dissatisfaction of the members of the SPLM with the slow pace of progress in the Movement. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ushered in a period of great hope for the people of South Sudan in particular and to everyone in the region and the world. The people expected to get their peace dividends and payback form government for their unwavering material and moral support.
The SPLM however, after the death of Chairman John Garang the new Chairman immediately began to undermine the CPA by abandoning some of the positions that had been so painstakingly reached during negotiations. The Chairman (on the political side) began to sanction the use of divisive terms such as “Garang Boys”, “Salva Kiir Boys”, “our government” etc. The system that had been evolved by the Movement in the liberated territories that it administered during the bush war (larger than the current RSS) was abandoned for a kitchen cabinet that has been directing the affairs of the SPLM ever since; a kitchen cabinet with alleged links to the National Islamic Front of Khartoum. The subsequent governments that have come and gone in Juba, every reshuffle of Ministers is done by this kitchen cabinet and is not done within the party.
These are other issues that led to the press conference on the 06/12…
We also get reports that much of the fighting or killings were along ethnic lines, is it true and why is the ethnic factor getting stronger when during the struggle, it was rare to hear about tribes?
It is true that the killings were along ethnic lines; however, it was the government that targeted its own citizens along ethnic lines. It started within the army, the Presidential Guards to be specific started the targeted killing when they tried to disarm their colleagues within the same unit. This violence ended up spreading to other units where the ethnic lines became clear; so, it must have started that way from the source (the President’s Guards).
The office of the President instead of exercising responsible leadership had decided to purge his force and the SPLA of supporters of the former Vice President and those of 91. It was a planned massacre by the Tigers (President’s Guards) and the National Security, the reprisals that followed where of those that had lost their relatives in the Juba Massacre. The Commander of the 8th SPLA Division lost many of his relatives in the Juba Massacre, which prompted his defection; as opposed to the propaganda being spread by the regime that they are loyal to Dr. Riek Machar.
I would say that those that are deserting from Salva’s army share a common interest with Dr. Machar, and so it is only natural that people with coinciding interests should work together. The mass desertions from the SPLA are another indication of the great dissatisfaction that the people of South Sudan have with their government. The regime has labeled any person that is against the government’s divisive policies as a supporter of Dr. Riek Machar, whom they have branded as the “prophet of doom”. I believe the crisis could have been worse had the opposition preached the same rhetoric as the government; however, the opposition has shown responsible leadership for the most part, and this has made the reprisals small in proportion to the Juba Massacre conducted by Salva Kiir’s Tigers (a private tribal militia).
How do you see this eventually playing out, what needs to be done for an end to the political crisis and a return to normalcy?
I believe in the people of South Sudan, we are a resilient and determined people that can do anything that we put our mind to; there is proof of this in our history. The SPLA/SPLM had been split in 1991 a dark period of our history when our people where divided giving our enemy the upper hand. The people of South Sudan managed to survive this crisis, and with no outside mediation where able to come together and put the past behind them; I believe that we still have this spirit and we can resolve our problems ourselves.
The SPLM under Comrade Salva needs to do what it should have done in 2005 after we lost our beloved Chairman Dr. John Garang, follow in the footsteps of the previous Chairman. The SPLM should have: “buried the man and continued the plan” – to paraphrase Dr. John Henrick Clark. This however did not take place; instead the Movement was abandoned and neglected.
The SPLM was at the time (before 2005) conducting several programs including the South – South Dialogue, Peace Through Development and SPLM Strategic Framework for War to Peace Transition. These programs spelled out what we needed to do to transition effectively into our new geopolitical and social realities. The South – South Dialogue would have gone a long way to heal wounds over the past eight to nine years.
It is to revisit some of the programs that we abandoned that we will be able to get out of this current crisis, and there will be no shortcuts, no easy fixes. The hard and tedious work of reconciliation must begin sooner rather than later and we must be serious about it, and with time we shall achieve the objective of “unity through struggle”. The Chairman should go ahead with the SPLM National Convention and allow free and fair competition so that the people choose their leader; it is the rejection of this democratic principle that led to the leadership crisis in the SPLM.
The SPLM should do what it should have done in 2005 and been the spearhead of nation building in the Republic of South Sudan. There are countries that we can use as examples for us to follow, countries that share a common historical reality as South Sudan. In this, South Africa comes to mid; what are some of the things that were done in South Africa that started the healing process.
The SPLM should hold its own convention, and also spearhead the calling of a national convention for the Republic. A national convention involving all political forces (political parties and interests groups) and social forces (religious, farming, sports, women, youth groups etc.) to determine the future of the Republic of South Sudan. The Chairman alone can’t determine the future of our country, the SPLM alone can’t determine the future of our Country. If the SPLM in 2005 had spearheaded such a process I believe the past eight to nine years would have been very constructive, instead the Chairman has been promoting division.
The fact that the Republic of South Sudan is so new dictates that such a convention should take place, so as to harmonize the structures evolved in the liberated territories during the bush war. These institutions were created under tuff conditions and only need to be reviewed to harmonize them with the current realities. The failure to do this has led to the country being defined in the image of those closest to the center of power, and this is a recipe for conflict. This is why my call has been for a national dialogue in the form of a National Convention of all the political and social forces in the country.
Is President Salva the right person to resolve these crises, if he had to regain the trust of the people or rekindle the kind of passion and excite Southern Sudanese had at the dawn of independence what does he need to do?
The answer to this would have been yes prior to the 15/12/2013; however, after this date it becomes very difficult for President Salva to be the right person to resolve the crisis. How do you regain the trust of the people when you have committed what history will later label as genocide in the Republic of South Sudan. The number of dead is still being compiled but so far the number is at 500-600 in Juba alone, with reports of death squads moving from home to home murdering innocent civilians in Juba.
This situation makes it very difficult for the President to be able to rekindle the kind of passion and excitement South Sudanese had at the dawn of independence. The best thing for him to do is step down and release the political prisoners held falsely by his authorities. This would create a conducive atmosphere within which meaningful dialogue can take place; this could arrest the situation as people would be able to see a way out. The convention should go ahead and members should not be intimidated for their wish to seek the nomination for the Chair of the SPLM and the people’s delegates should be allowed to choose.
In seeking the solution to any problem the solution must be provided in the context of what started the problem. The problem started when the president equated democratic pluralism with treason, when he frustrated the convening of the national conference were a new Chair for the party was to be elected; that convention should be allowed to go ahead. In addition to this, all the people of South Sudan must be engaged in a dialogue through a National Convention of all the political and social forces in the country so that we can determine the future of our nation. The alternative to this, God forbid, is total destruction.
South Sudan is young, it emerged from decades of war, could part of the problem be that people are expecting too much so soon, and are personal ambitions both on the camp of President Salva and his opponents taking precedence over national interests?
There is a degree of truth in the assertion that South Sudan is a new country and it would naturally face challenges; however, the seriousness of the Government of South Sudan and their determination to be successful is also another more important factor. The Republic of South Sudan did not fall from the sky, it has a history as the question suggest of decades of war.
The war created conditions for the people of the New Sudan, were they now controlled great swaths of ‘liberated’ territories greater than the area currently controlled as the Republic of South Sudan. These liberated areas had an administration and was recognized when it came to providing relief to those displaced by the conflict. This was the recognition by Operation Lifeline Sudan; this was the birth of the one country two systems idea and of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA). If the Movement during the bush war days had an administration more effective than the current one, I believe it is an indication of how far we have strayed from our objective.
The incidences of crime (cattle rustling), inter communal violence was much reduce than the current situation being faced by our civil population. The health care and education in the liberated territories was better than what our masses have now been subjected to; our people have been betrayed by their government.
The current crisis is being described by the regime’s media as a power struggle, and personal ambitions of rival camps. The blunt truth; however, is different. The crisis arose due to the President of South Sudan and Chairman of SPLM began to make increasingly unconstitutional decrees starting with the sacking of some democratically elected governors. This was followed by other incidents that although where constitutional where bad political decisions, like sacking the Vice President and the entire cabinet.
This was crowned by the dissolution of structures of the SPLM by the Chairman, when the only body that could make such a decision is the National Convention (the supreme body of the Movement). The 13 political prisoners where calling for a national dialogue to resolve a crisis in the leadership when the Chairman decided that contesting against him at the primaries was tantamount to treason. The former Vice President declared his intention, as did Mama Rebecca (Widow of late Chairman) and the Secretary General of the Party Pagan Amum Oketch to contest during SPLM primaries.
This declaration to contest by these three senior members of the SPLM was not in violation of the constitution of the SPLM, they are fully within their legal rights. It is the Chairman that is violating the SPLM constitution by dissolving the structures of the SPLM which he has no power to do, and he is violating the national constitution by holding the 13 political prisoners without charge, or access to legal counsel. It is the President that has violated the constitution by imposing unpopular governors in place of the sacked elected governors, who should have been replaced within 60 days of their dismissal.
In light of all this it becomes clear that it is the President that is putting his personal ambitions over that of the nation because he is the one in violation of all the constitutions, the national and that of the SPLM. It is the President that accused the political prisoners without evidence, not a single army commander has been arrested in connection to the alleged coup plot; and it is the president that is using inflammatory language that borders on hate speech. The president is the one that holds the monopoly on violence and the propaganda machine; therefore, he is the one in the position to reach out to his rivals. The course that the President has chosen is to deal with his adversaries militarily, and this is being resisted by those that feel victimized.
Does the present situation reflect anything that SPLM Founding President Dr John Garang ever envisaged?
This is not what was envisaged by Chairman Dr. John Garang; Comrade Salva could not have made a more complete change. The late Chairman was labeled by many as a ‘unionist’ and they believe that if he was alive that the country would not have broken up. This is not accurate; Chairman Dr. John was fighting for Self Determination. This as the word suggest is done by ‘self’, it is you that determines your destiny. The Republic of South Sudan has hardly determined anything for itself over the past decade; we have been and are still heavily dependent on the NIF regime.
The idea espoused by the late John Garang was that in order for the exercise and achievement of Self-determination to be complete in South Sudan, Khartoum should fall. It is only after this that the people of the New Sudan would exercise the right to self-determination, this did not happen. The late Chairman gave examples of Eastern European self-determination, achieved only after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the case of Eritrean self-determination, achieved only after the fall of Addis Ababa; and the case of Northern Somaliland self-determination, achieved only after the fall of Mogadishu.
The late Chairman explained that the independence of the South would not be complete without the demise of the NIF regime in Khartoum. The objective of the SPLM was the destruction of the old Sudan represented by the NIF regime, and we would dismantle it through war and/or through the peace process. The marginalized people after taking Khartoum could then freely and safely determine whether to remain as one country or to secede. The aspiration of the people of Southern Sudan to have their own state has never been in question; it was always known they would vote 99% for secession.
The regime of Salva Kiir has instead cooperated with the NIF regime, betraying the other marginalized Sudanese People who continue to suffer in abject poverty.
The people of Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei have participated fully in the liberation of the Republic of South Sudan from Arab Islamist Imperial domination. The SPLM war time diplomacy reached out to the People’s Governments of East, Central and Southern Africa for support in this cause of their liberation. In this spirit, the SPLM Government in Juba could have championed the cause of the Africans of Sudan in the AU.
The President by cooperating with the NIF regime has jeopardized the independence of the Republic of South Sudan; and squandered the hard won freedom that our people paid blood, sweat and tears to achieve. The Independence of South Sudan was a shared victory of the marginalized people of the old Sudan (including the South), of Pan Africanism and Humanity.
A word of advice to the people of South Sudan at home and abroad, how can there be of help or contribute in bringing the country back on the rails?
I would advise my country men and women not to fall for the propaganda machine of the Salva-cratic state that is promoting ethnic divisions. The war machine of the regime is directed inwardly towards its own citizens and it is his regime that is promoting the violence. The people must unite and put pressure on the regime to go ahead with the SPLM convention, and in addition to this hold a national convention of all the political and social forces in the country so that the people determine their own destiny. It cannot be done by Salva Kiir alone or Dr. Riek Machar, or Mama Rebecca for that matter; it is the people of South Sudan that will collectively determine for themselves the destiny of their Republic. I would call (if they will listen) to all vigilante youth groups not to fall for the propaganda machine of the Salva-tocracy, unite and show Comrade Salva that he must step down before he does more damage to his legacy through this divisive politics coming from the supreme office in the land. The time for a National Dialogue is nearly a decade overdue but it is not too late.
President Jonathan replies Obasanjo; says ex-President’s letter threat to national security
December 23, 2013 | 1 Comments
December 20, 2013
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR
Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,
RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.
You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters.
It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.
But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President.
Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told.
The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.
The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary.
The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter.
Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously.
The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public.
The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me.
The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode.
The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.
Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before. This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going.
You raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations. There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.
Those who continue to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now.
At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores.
But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.
The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.
In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.
Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.
Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.
More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta. If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot. I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better.
In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives. Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections. It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact.
When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me. Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.
I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me.
You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments. For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable.
Having said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.
We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border crimes.
We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.
Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?
The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.
Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.
I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them.
Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.
That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup. Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated. Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known.
The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.
Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.
Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.
I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence to back his claim. I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.
While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.
It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.
It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.
Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a time. Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.
The charge that I was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP. What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates.
Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections.
You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.
You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.
Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf. In our discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?
The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President. The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable. I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials. So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.
On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.
Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI. As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy?
Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.
The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries. At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.
This did not happen by chance. My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria
With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached. For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.
On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance.
Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement
I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter.
Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state.
I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being.
In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.
I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN
*Obtained from Premium Times Nigeria
President Obama Orders US Troops to South Sudan
December 21, 2013 | 0 Comments
Growing violence and talk of civil war in African nation
The death of several UN peacekeeping soldiers this week and reports of large numbers of civilian casualties as fighting intensified between militias and government soldiers on opposite sides of a recent coup attempt have stirred international focus on the country, with Obama telling Congress in a written statement that the recently formed country is “at the precipice” and the UN Security Council scheduled to hold an emergency meeting in New York on Friday to address the worsening situation.As South Sudan analyst James Copnall writes, the politics of the country are complicated, but “just over two years after it became independent,” with refugees fleeing the violence and over 500 people already reported killed this week, “South Sudan is living out some of its worst fears.”
Though framed as a both a political and ethnic power struggle, one of the clear fault lines in the growing tensions is centered around control of the country’s oil fields that are located in the north, as Reuters indicates:
China National Petroleum Corp, India’s ONGC Videsh and Malaysia’s Petronas are the main firms running the oilfields. Total has exploration acreage in country. South Sudan, a nation the size of France, has the third largest reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria, according to BP.
Oil production, which had been about 245,000 barrels per day, supplies the government with most of its revenues. […]
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011. A persistent dispute with Sudan over their border, oil and security have added to the sense of crisis.
The row led to the shutting of oil production for about 15 months until earlier this year, slashing state revenues and undermining efforts to improve public services in a nation of 11 million people but with barely any tarmac roads.
Deutsche Welle reports:
After first asserting that it was in control of the situation, the South Sudanese government has now admitted that its forces have lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei.
“The situation in South Sudan can be best described as tense and fragile. If it is not contained, it could lead to ethnic cleansing,” Choul Laam, a top official with the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement told an Associated Press reporter in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, several countries including Germany, the US, Britain and Italy have been evacuating their nationals.
Later on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides to engage in dialogue as a way of ending the bloodshed.
“The future of this young nation requires its current leadership to do everything possible to prevent South Sudan descending into the chaos that would be such a betrayal of the ideals behind its long struggle for independence,” a statement released by his office said.
Offering additional background, the Guardian reports:
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting to launch a coup last Sunday. The pair, who have been rivals since the long civil war that ended in 2005 and split the country, had been in an uneasy power-sharing government since independence in 2011.
Kiir hails from the Dinka community, while Machar comes from the Nuer. The accusation that the former vice-president had attempted to seize power led to widespread reprisals against his supporters and fellow Nuer in the capital and surrounding areas. What began as a political power struggle has spilled over into open ethnic conflict in some areas.
In Unity State, which produces much of the oil that supports the economies of South Sudan and Sudan, fighting has led to oil workers fleeing the fields and reports suggest the government has lost control of the state capital, Bentiu.
In Jonglei a Nuer-led rebel militia, which claims its community is under attack by the government, has seized Bor, one of the country’s most strategically important towns.
The militia made up of military mutineers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has been raised under the command of the defected general Peter Gadet. After the storming of the UN base, Gadet said he would intervene to prevent further killings.
“It’s an important distinction that the Akobo attack was not carried out by the armed opposition but by local youths,” said Casie Copeland, a South Sudan expert with the Brussels-based monitor the International Crisis Group.
*Source Common Dreams