Why the number of people with multiple chronic conditions is on the rise in Africa

Why the number of people with multiple chronic conditions is on the rise in Africa

More and more people around the world are getting sick with two or more health conditions at the same time. For example, people are increasingly coping with two chronic non-infectious diseases, like hypertension and diabetes. Or they will have a chronic infectious disease like HIV and a chronic non-infectious disease like asthma.

Why the number of people with multiple chronic conditions is on the rise in Africa

The co-existing conditions could include diseasesdisorders, illnesses or other chronic health problems. The concept of having two or more chronic health conditions at the same time is called multimorbidity.

Traditionally, developed countries have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases – like hypertension – and due to this, a high rate of multimorbidity.

Now the tables seem to be turning. Due to the rise in the cases of non-communicable diseases in developing countries, there is an increasing emerging pattern of high levels of multimorbidity. This includes cases of hypertension which is now the most common co-morbid chronic non-communicable disease in the world.

The prevalence of non-communicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2000, non-communicable diseases accounted for only 56% of the total disease burden. Scientists estimate that by 2020, they will account for almost 70% of the total disease burden in developing countries.

The increase has been driven by urbanisation and changing dietary and behavioural patterns with people eating more processed food and sugar and exercising less.

But alongside this, many developing nations, especially in Africa, have the additional burden of chronic infectious diseases.

Non-communicable diseases and chronic communicable diseases co-occur, and the risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, associated with them are often shared. This further increases the likelihood of multimorbidity.

In Africa, the concern is that populations who are already socially and economically vulnerable also face the highest risk of multimorbidity. These include the elderly, people who have a lower socio-economic status and those who are not as educated. An intersectoral approach to address these vulnerable groups is needed. This remains challenging for developing health services in many African countries.

Affecting the patient and the system

The impact of multimorbidity is three-fold: it affects the patient, the health care provider and the health system as a whole.

Multimorbid patients have a decreased quality of life and tend to access health services more frequently. This often results in loss of potential income. And it places an extraordinary financial and psychological burden on the patient. The psychological burden often manifests as depression with mental health conditions frequently being associated with multimorbidity, which are often neglected or poorly managed.

More generally, the high self-management requirements and multiple drug prescriptions associated with multimorbidity can lead to poorer health outcomes for patients.

From the provider perspective, multimorbid patients are complex to treat. This can lead to increased workloads. In addition, they need an in-depth understanding of multiple drug and disease interactions. With each additional comorbidity consultation, time and individual patient cost increase dramatically.

But providers often find themselves in systems which are inadequately prepared to deal with this level of complexity due to their vertical nature. Vertical systems are based on the one disease model of care, which focuses on individual diseases, rather than holistic patient care.

Innovative models of integrated care are required to appropriately manage the multimorbid patient. This is a challenging task as integrated models need to be context specific. A “one size fits all” isn’t enough to address patients’ needs.

To tackle the problem, solutions need to focus on what’s causing multimorbidity. This means that policymakers must look beyond the health sector – they must engage with multiple sectors. This is necessary as most risk factors relating to multimorbidity are driven by factors that lie outside the health care system. Risk factors such as obesity, alcohol use and smoking can all be influenced by policies outside the health sector.

In South Africa, a well known example of this has been the reduction of secondary smoking as a result of a range of anti-smoking initiatives. These included using the media to run campaigns warning about the health risks of smoking, to limiting smoking areas in the hospitality industries alongside the establishment of an excise tax on tobacco products.

More recently, to address the rising burden of diabetes and associated risk factors, South Africa has proposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A similar tax was successful in reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico.

One of the challenges in creating these policies lies in opposing powerful industry actors whose interests don’t lie with health issues, but with making profits. This requires advocacy from several key public health role players such as academics, civil society, and governmental departments.

Next steps

In Africa, multimorbidity will impose increasing strain on vulnerable people and already stretched health systems.

A structured collaborative approach is needed to manage the problem. This should include developing a good understanding of Africa’s unique patterns of multimorbidity, its causes, and focus on prevention.

Insecurity threatening Lagos economic growth

Insecurity threatening Lagos economic growth

In April, the governor of Lagos, Nigeria Akinwumi Ambode called the country’s commercial nerve the world’s fastest growing mega city, with GDP of $136 billion. At this level, Lagos sits comfortably as one of the top ten economies in Africa by GDP. Should Nigerian states start fending for themselves; only Lagos and a few others would be able to survive. Lagos generated more than $940 million internally in 2016, exceeding the combined IGR of 30 states in Nigeria.

Insecurity threatening Lagos economic growth

The city state remains a major economic focal point in Nigeria, generating around 10 percent of the country’s GDP. It continues to grow its revenue as investment flows rise with expanding opportunities in several sectors. Economic growth in the Nigerian port city seems to be boundless but whatever brightness the future holds can only illuminate as far as the dark forces of insecurity recently rampaging Lagos would allow.

It has been more than 40 days since some 6 pupils were kidnapped at a school in Epe, on the north side of the Lekki Lagoon in Lagos, raising questions about the ability of the state government to address insecurity. The parents of the abducted pupil have reportedly paid N10 million ransom to the kidnappers but they are yet to get their children back. Security operatives in Lagos seemed to be clueless about the whereabouts of the abducted pupils, with parents’ only hope now the kidnappers’ assurance that their children would be released soon. Insecurity is increasing in Lagos at a worrying pace; apart from kidnapping which is becoming frequent, cult killing is also becoming rampant in some parts of the state.

While peace does not necessarily drive growth and development, insecurity disrupts it. Lagos Governor Ambode’s goal of making Lagos Africa’s third largest economy is under threat.

Lagos has been able to diversify its economy and to a large extent, reduce its dependence on oil allocations from the federal government. The state generates revenue from a variety of sources, including transport, manufacturing, construction and wholesale and retail. To continue growing its economy, Lagos faces challenges such as rapid population growth, urbanisation, as well increasing demands for infrastructure. These challenges cannot be addressed only by widening the tax net, but also by making the state a perfect investment destination. Although Lagos has huge potentials, much will not be achieved if the current security challenges are allowed to fester further. 

Insecurity makes investors nervous. Therefore, a safer Lagos with its numerous potential will remain an investment destination that can achieve the governor’s dream of a top three African economy by 2020.  

The secret behind the rise of Christian universities in Africa

The secret behind the rise of Christian universities in Africa

The last two decades have seen a brisk growth in Christian universities in sub-Saharan Africa. This phenomenon exists at the intersection of two of the most dynamic social trends on the continent: the rapid rise of Christian adherence and the volatile growth of higher education.

The secret behind the rise of Christian universities in Africa

A century ago, there were only nine million Christians living in Africa. Most were in Egypt’s and Ethiopia’s ancient churches. By 1950, this number had tripled, to about 30 million. Today, out of a population of around 1.2 billion, there are an estimated 582 million African Christians — Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal and belonging to independent churches.

African higher education’s growth has also been rapid. In the 1950s, there were only 41 higher education institutions and 16,500 students on the whole continent. By 2010, 5.2 million students had enrolled in 668 higher education institutions in sub Saharan Africa, more than double the number in 2000.

This rapid growth has been far from smooth. Steep increases in demand coupled with cuts in state higher education funding left a gap that has been filled by the private sector, and increasingly by Churches. State and church are now educational partners, but there are some tensions inherent in this relationship.

Emerging from turbulent times

African universities today are emerging from a turbulent half century. The immediate post-colonial era brought high hopes, with supportive governments and massive international investments.

But by the 1980s, African universities were suffering deep financial cuts as falling commodity prices and inflated energy prices crippled national budgets. World Bank and International Monetary Fund advisers pushed debtor nations to reallocate educational spending toward primary and secondary schools. Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes suspected flagship universities of subversion and slashed their budgets. By the 1990s, even the finest African universities were in crisis.

To compound these problems, the growth of secondary education drove a relentless demand for tertiary enrolments.

Governments mandated their flagship universities to enrol far beyond their carrying capacities. New regional institutions were founded and tertiary technical colleges were granted university status.

Even with increases in funding, African higher education budgets lagged behind enrolment gains. Thousands of African academics were so discouraged by the educational crisis that they left to find work elsewhere.

Private, Christian universities fill the vacuum

In the early 2000s the tide began to turn.

In 2001, the World Bank reemphasised the universities’ role in national development. After years of neglect, western foreign aid programs re-targeted higher education and private funders returned. The Partnership for Higher Education, for instance, which engaged eight American foundations with universities in nine African countries, invested around USD$440 million between 2000 and 2010.

African governments began to approve more organisational charters for private universities and technical schools. In Ghana, for example, there were just two private universities in 1999. Now there are 28.

Christian higher education has played a salient role in this rapid private growth. Nigeria has chartered 61 private institutions since 1999. Of these, 31 are Christian. In Kenya, there are 18 chartered private universities and 13 more with interim authority. Of all these, 17 are Christian.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hot spots of Christian higher education growth worldwide, a trend that can be observed across the continent.

In a broad sense, the Christian university movement is driven by the massive demand for access to higher education and the liberalisation of government chartering – both global trends.

But the religious scene in Africa provides its own drivers of this movement. The building of universities in Africa is part of a larger effort by church leaders –Protestant, Catholic and Pentecostal – to institutionalise, and thus conserve, the huge gains in Christian adherence.

Christian groups in Africa often look first to sponsor primary and secondary schooling, but they also move quickly to train clergy. In 1950, there were only perhaps 70 or 80 pastoral education programmes or theological schools across Africa, but a recent survey found 1,468 of them.

Christian universities announce Christian purposes and perspectives for learning non-religious subjects and they structure campus life to reflect Christian norms. Many of them have strict codes of personal conduct for students. Yet most welcome qualified students regardless of faith.

Tensions between state and church mandates

These new Christian universities are very dynamic places, and their leaders express high hopes that they will help their nations flourish. But one of the main themes of higher education history has been secularisation.

State officials have decided to accommodate religious educational partners, but some still wonder why Christians want to impose religious hiring criteria, curricular development, and student norms.

Broad state purposes inevitably rub against religious particularity, even in highly religious Africa.

It is too soon to predict the trajectory of the African wing of the worldwide Christian university movement, but one cannot miss its growing presence and emerging challenges.


This story first appeared on The Conversation, the original also apeared on University World News.

Is not only gender violence, UN has a problem of child rape

Is not only gender violence, UN has a problem of child rape

If a United Nations official in New York raped an American child, there would be hell to pay. Similarly, if a UN official in Geneva raped a Swiss child, there would be an outcry.

Is not only gender violence, UN has a problem of child rape
Members of a U.N. peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic allegedly turned to sexual predation, betraying their duty to protect. Photo: Washington Post

So why is it that when a United Nations official or peacekeeper rapes an African child, the organisation fails to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted?

This a question that the world body has been avoiding for years. Only recently its top officials acknowledged that the UN has a very serious sexual violence problem.

Earlier this year UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres confirmed that UN peacekeepers and civilian staff perpetrated 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving 311 victims in 2016 alone. That is more than two victims for each case on average.

Many of the victims, by the UN’s own admission, are children. And while the numbers are huge they are likely to be the tip of the iceberg because they only represent the crimes that have been reported. More than that, these numbers are only representative of sexual crimes committed within the organisation’s peacekeeping forces.

The problem is so bad that the UN keeps an updated list of accusations against peacekeepers on a website. So far this year 32 reported cases of sexual violence have been made against peacekeeping staff.

Long-standing affair

The 2016-2017 figures are only a small portion of the sex and child rape crimes committed by UN staff and peacekeepers over at least the last 20 years. The figures don’t include the UN sex scandals in the Bosnian War dramatised in the 2010 film Whistleblower nor the long running “food for sex” scandals of the early 2000s. These involved UN peacekeepers withholding food from refugees and displaced families until they agreed to the soldiers access to their children for sex.

A 2006 Save the Children report found “abuse at all age levels from 8 to 18”. Victims older than 12 years of age were identified as being “regularly involved in selling sex”.

The report went on to say that among the children interviewed “all of the respondents clearly stated that they felt that the scale of the problem affected over half of the girls in their locations”. This is a longstanding problem that dates back to the war in Bosnia.

According to the Code Blue Campaign, a campaign set up by Aids Free World to respond to the growing UN sexual abuse scandal, the Berbérati battalion of Congolese peacekeepers in the Central African Republic were the subject of serious concerns over a period of two years 2014 to 2016.

According to Code Blue, in June 2016 UN investigators knew that a group of children was living inside the army base, making them easy prey for a battalion that had been accused of multiple counts of child rape.

To put “multiple” into statistical context let’s use the UK as a point of reference. In the UK only one in seven rapes are reported. If one assumes that the same number of rapes are reported at the UN, then the 311 cases reported in 2016 would represent over 2100 victims in a single year.

That is a figure that should be hard to ignore. Yet the UN continues to use legal and sovereign immunity claims to prevent the prosecution of offenders.

This immunity rests on challengeable legal foundations and can be waived by the UN. But the world body chooses not to waive immunity, instead using this legal fiction to protect child rapists.

Not a single one of the accusations  the UN lists on its website, and specifically those that involve the rape of children, has been prosecuted.

For at least 20 years the leadership of the UN has known about this sexual violence problem and for years it has failed to act. Indeed, former Secretary General Kofi Annan listed his failure to address the problem decisively as one of his regrets. His successor Ban Ki Moon has also acknowledged that not enough has been done.

Current Secretary General Guterres has proposed a four-part strategy to deal with the problem. This entails putting the rights and dignity of victims at the forefront of the UN’s efforts, working relentlessly to end impunity for those guilty of sexual abuse and exploitation, building a civil society network to support UN efforts, and raising worldwide awareness of the problem.

Releasing the 2016 UN annual review Guterres said,

I fully recognise that no magic wand exists to end the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse. Nevertheless, I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.

Many people in power have known for decades of the sexual abuse by the UN and for some reason it continues. It is one of the reasons I quit the UN in 2009 calling out the abuse in my 2013 book “A Life Half Lived”.

Three years later, is the world just beginning to see the scale and scope of the problem? Are we today with the UN precisely where we were with the Catholic Church in the 1980s?

If we are, then as a global community, we need to do better than just “dramatically improve”. This scourge must be stopped now. Children in conflict zones need our help.


This story was first published on The Conversation, by isiting Professor, Public Policy, King’s College London

PROFILE: Muhammadu Buhari – The former general who defeated incumbent president

Muhammadu Buhari was born on the 17th of December 1942, in Daura, Katsina State into a family of Fulani descent.

Buhari2

His father’s name was Adamu and mother’s was Zulaihat. While record books do not tell us how many siblings he had, he was the twenty-third child of his father. He was raised by his mother because his father died just before he turned five. He attended primary school in Daura before moving to Katsina Model School in 1953, and to Katsina Provincial Secondary School from 1956 to 1961.

Buhari joined the Army of Nigeria in 1961 when he attended the Nigerian University of Military Instruction, which later came to be called the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna. From 1962 to 1963, cadet officers were trained at Mons Cadet Officers School in Aldershot, England and Buhari was sent to England for his training. In January 1963, Buhari was appointed deputy lieutenant and platoon commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Ogun, South-West, Nigeria. From November 1963 to January 1964, trained with the platoon commanders at the Nigerian military college in Kaduna. In 1964, his military training involved mechanic transport agent training at the mechanical transport school of the army in Borden, United Kingdom. From 1965 to 1967, Buhari was commander of the second infantry battalion and was also named Brigade Major, second sector of the First division of infantry, from April of 1967 until July of 1967. Buhari became a Major of the third infantry brigade which was formed, from July 1967 and lasted until October 1968 and the division brigade commander, the Thirty-one infantry brigade, 1970-1971. Buhari served as the Assistant Adjutant-General, First Infantry Division Headquarters from 1971-1972. He also attended the University of Wellington Personal Defense Services, India, in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, Buhari was appointed Acting Director, Transportation and Supplies at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Army Supply and Transport Corps. He was also appointed Military Secretary, Major of the Army, 1978-1979, and was a member of the Supreme Military Council, 1978-1979. Between 1979 and 1980; he was granted the rank of colonel. Buhari attended the University of the United States Army War in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and was given a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies.

In July 1966, Muhammadu Buhari a Lieutenant in the army was a player in a coup led by Murtala Muhammad. The coup ended the life of the first chief of staff of the Nigerian army and head of State of Nigeria; Aguiyi Ironsi. Ironsi had assumed the leadership of the government of Nigeria after a coup on the 15th January 1966. The coup crashed the parliamentary rulership of Nigeria marking the end of the First Republic. Other players in the coup of July 28, 1966 included Sani Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida,Theophilus Danjuma, Ibrahim Bako among others. The coup was primarily a counter coup and a reaction to the coup on January 15, when a group chiefly led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Many Northern soldiers were aggrieved by the attacks and subsequent deaths of senior politicians, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first regional minister of the North, Ahmadu Bello and his four senior officers, Brigade Zakariya Maimalari, Colonel Mohammed, Lt-Cols James and Pam Largema. The coup against him was very bloody leading to the death of predominantly Igbo officers. Among the victims was the first leader of military personnel Aguiyi Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi; a Lieutenant Colonel and the military governor of the Western region.

General Murtala Mohammed took over power in Nigeria in August 1975 and appointed Buhari as the Governor of the North-Eastern region to oversee the economic improvements in the region. In March of 1976, Olusegun Obasanjo then appointed Buhari as the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources with Buhari as the first Chairman of the NNPC – Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation until 1976. In 1983, Chad attempted to invade Nigeria through Borno state and Buhari used his forces to chase them out and he even advanced into Chad. The President at that time, Shehu Shagari was said to have given him a serious order not to advance into the country and that began tensions with Buhari.

In 1983, Buhari; now a Major General was a key player in the coup that overthrew democratically elected President Shehu Shagari but constantly denied his role in the coup despite becoming the head of state. Nigerian military historians Max Siollun and Nowa Omoigui have previously stated that when Major Bamidele got to know about the coup plot to oust Shagari, he reported the issue up the chain of command to his GOC 3rd Armored Division; Buhari who was allegedly in on the plot. To prevent Bamidele from leaking the plot, Buhari ordered the arrest and detention of Bamidele for two weeks. Bamidele wasn’t released until the successful execution of the coup. Learning from this unfortunate experience, Bamidele didn’t report any rumours of the so-called Mamman Vatsa coup (between 1985 and 1986) and was executed for it. Bamidele’s words to the Special Military Tribunal that tried and convicted him are:

“I heard of the 1983 coup planning, told my GOC, General Buhari who detained me for two weeks in Lagos. Instead of a pat on the back, I received a stab. How then do you expect me to report this one? This trial marks the eclipse of my brilliant and unblemished career of 19 years. I fought in the civil war with the ability it pleased God to give me. It is unfortunate that I’m being convicted for something which I have had to stop on two occasions. This is not self adulation but a sincere summary of the qualities inherent in me. It is an irony of fate that the president of the tribunal who in 1964 felt that I was good enough to take training in the UK is now saddled with the duty of showing me the exit from the force and the world”

His mandate as Head of State was to reform the economy. Buhari started to rebuild the nation’s social-political and economic systems along the lines of its economic conditions. Excesses in national expenditure, removing corruption from national and social ethics, removing the relevance of the public sector in a bid to move from structured socialism to capitalism and from public sector employment to self-employment. Buhari also encouraged import substitution industrialisation based to a great extent on the use of local materials and he tightened importation. However, Buhari’s bid to re-balance public finances by curbing imports led to many job losses and the closure of businesses. To achieve this, he broke ties with the International Monetary Fund, when the fund asked the government to devalue the naira by 60%. His reforms were as or more rigourous as those required by the IMF.

In 1984, Buhari passed the infamous Decree Number 4; the Protection Against False Accusations Decree, which was considered within and outside the country as the most repressive press law ever enacted in Nigeria and the world generally. Section 1 of the law provided that “Any person who publishes in any form, whether written or otherwise, any message, rumour, report or statement which is false in any material particular or which brings or is calculated to bring the Federal Military Government or the Government of a state or public officer to ridicule or disrepute, shall be guilty of an offense under this Decree”. The law further stated that offending journalists and publishers will be tried by a military tribunal, whose ruling would be final and unappealable in any court and those found guilty would be eligible for a fine not less than 10,000 naira and a jail sentence of up to two years. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of The Guardian were among the journalists who were tried under the decree.

One of the most enduring legacy of the Buhari government has been the War Against Indiscipline which was launched in March of 1984. It’s policy tried to address the perceived lack of public morality and civic responsibility of Nigerian society. Nigerians perceived as unruly were ordered to form neat queues at bus stops, under the eyes of soldiers that were ordered to be generous in their disbursements of physical abuse and violence. Civil servants who failed to show up on time at work were humiliated and forced to do “frog jumps”. Minor offences carried long sentences. Any student over the age of 17 caught cheating in an examination would get 21 years in prison. Counterfeiting and arson could lead to the death penalty. In 20 months of being the Head of State, about 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed on corruption charges.

In 1985, Buhari fell victim to the very device that gave him power – A coup by General Babangida. Babangida was one of Buhari’s vocal critics and he brought many of Buhari’s most vocal critics into his administration, including Fela Kuti’s eldee brother Dr. Olukoye Ransome-Kuti; a doctor who had led a strike against Buhari to protest declining health care services. Buhari was then detained in a house in Benin City until 1988 with access to a television and his family members prior to approval from the Head of State. While Buhari’s admirers believe that he was overthrown by corrupt elements in his government who were afraid of being brought to justice as his policies were beginning to yield tangible dividends in terms of public discipline, curbing corruption, lowering inflation, enhancing workforce and improving productivity, Head of State; Ibrahim Babangida justified his coup by saying that Buhari’s government has failed in its self imposed task to deal with the country’s economic problems with trickle down effects hardly seen while he had promised “to rejuvenate the economy ravaged by decades of government mismanagement and corruption”

Under the much hated Abacha government, Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). It was a body created and funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country. A lot of praises went to his administration for seemingly doing good by citizens and being a shining light in an otherwise dark time for the country.

In the turn of the second Democratic run of government in Nigeria, Buhari contested in all the elections save for the 1999 elections that Olusegun Obasanjo won. He contested under the umbrellas of ANPP, CPC and the APC. In 2015, he contested under the APC with Professor Yemi Osinbajo a Christian Yoruba lawyer and won against the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of PDP. Basing his campaign on his success with the PTF and his anti corruption stance, he won against a government that claimed “stealing was not corruption”.

His government has been riddled with inconsistencies and low points for the citizens of Nigeria. From inflation, to insurgencies that he promised to end and most recently his work from home, the general consensus is that his second coming is problematic and is something that should not have happened.

In December of 1989, Buhari married his second and current wife Aisha Buhari. They have five children together, a boy and four girls: Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zahra and Amina. His first wife Safinatu had five children; four girls and one boy. They got divorced in 1988 and she died from complications of diabetes in 2006.

The Conversationalist

By Olaleye Omoteniola Akinwalere


How’s your day going? Great I guess? That’s pretty much good to know.

So, today I’m going to talk about this issue that has been trending on twitter for a while now. It’s the issue of who can best keep a conversation going between a boy and a girl.

A lot of people have said that girls generally are poor at keeping conversation going. I beg differ though, probably because I’m a conversationalist. Lol. I like good conversations that can tickle my brain cells, you know; conversations that makes me reason and argue.

Yeah, I love wonderful arguments, constructive ones not bitter, destructive arguments. So, you ask me: Madam Teni, what’s the main gist? This introductory speech is getting long o. E ma binu, I’m coming to that.

Now, this is the full gist. This guy sent me a DM, I looked at it and discovered we once chatted sometimes in 2012.  Mehn, that was a long time ago. I love making new friends and I was like, what harm could it cause? Worst case scenario; he gets boring and I stop replying him. Big mistake!

This guy can hold a conversation. Got me oooohing and aaahing. I was like: whaaat? Why do you have to be so good? No foul language, no indecent words, no talk of boons, ass, my pretty face/shape or what nots? I was haaaappy! Omo, I was always checking my DM to see if message has dropped.

It’s been soooo long since I had this kind of chat. I’m very impressed. We talked about movies, books  (winks), yeah books, music and all. People you can have sweet, wonderful and intelligent conversations without being a hoe.

I’m still sitting here with this butterfly fluttering about in my tummy. Will keep you posted if it graduates to something MORE!


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Africa’s ‘men of God’ are preserving injustices against women | What we found

Africa’s ‘men of God’ are preserving injustices against women | What we found

Adoley and her husband Mike (not their real names) attend one of Ghana’s mega churches. Both are university graduates. She is a seamstress and owns a small retail shop. He is an accountant. The couple live with Mike’s family, where Adoley sometimes feels she’s blamed for the couple’s childlessness after having three miscarriages.

Africa’s ‘men of God’ are preserving injustices against women | What we found
Churches in the global South, especially Africa are growing. Photo: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

When they visited our home in Accra one Sunday in December 2015, Adoley complained about a few things, such as Mike refusing to carry her handbag in church while she went to the bathroom, because – as he explained – “a man doesn’t carry a woman’s bag”.

This anecdote points to a bigger story about the church in Africa today, and the messages that some of its influential male leaders promote about masculinity, marriage and gender roles in society more broadly.

“Men of God” are powerful

While churches in the economic north are emptying out those in the Global South – and especially Africa – are growing. Pentecostal and charismatic churches have mushroomed, many influenced by a wave of American-exported evangelicalism in the 1970s and 1980s.

Churches also carry out important social functions the state has neglected. They are involved in addressing HIV/AIDS, building hospitals and establishing universities. This kind of work – sometimes called the “social gospel” – makes the church much more than simply a religious space. The modern African church promises a life that is abundant and prosperous – both spiritually and materially.

African church leaders – the bishops and archbishops, prophets and overseers, pastors and deacons, benignly referred to as “men of God” – are powerful. Their teachings have a wide reach that is not limited to Sunday mornings and mid-week services. There are TV and radio programmes, audiotapes and books, international branches and YouTube videos that reach a wide audience beyond their own congregations.

They are also influential voices on gender issues. Jesus’ social gospel subverted gender cultures – and actively sought to challenge injustice in general. There are several examples of Christ’s counter-culture behaviour when it comes to his relationship with women. Women were generally viewed as the cause of men’s sexual sins. To prevent Jewish men from yielding to temptation, they were instructed not to speak to women in public, including their own wives. Not only did Jesus speak to a woman in public he dared to touch them in public.

These perspectives are not sufficiently evident in the messages preached from mega church platforms across the continent today. When it comes to the question of gender, injustice seems to have intensified in the church

Problematic messages about marriage

Much of the current discourse from church platforms in Africa focuses on marriage. Subjects include the breakdown of marriages, preparing women to be good wives, and the “unsuitability” of certain types of young women for marriage.

Archbishop Duncan Williams, founder of Ghana’s Action Faith Chapel International, caused a stir in 2014 when he told women:

it’s a privilege to be married… Sister when you get married, be thankful and stop misbehaving… It doesn’t matter how pretty and beautiful and intelligent you are; until a man proposes to you, you are going to stay beautiful, pretty, intelligent, nice and whatever, and rotten.

Not long afterwards Bishop Dag Heward Mills, founder of Ghana’s Lighthouse chapel, mocked Ghanaian girls for their inability to cook, saying that they were “less than 10% of what we want”.

In his book Till Death Do Us Part, Bishop Charles Agyin-Asare, founder of one of Ghana’s mega churches, responded to the issue of abuse in marriage, writing:

You are not the first woman to be beaten by your husband, and you will not be the last… Rise up with the Word of God and use your spiritual weapons… Keep going to church, listen to tapes, pray, notice the blessings around you, keep your vows.

Women, in this discourse, have no value outside of marriage. And they have no value within it beyond providing domestic services. Women carry the responsibility for keeping the marriage intact, even at the cost of their personal well-being and safety.

These pronouncements can have a profound impact on women’s position in marriage and, given the importance of marriage in African cultures, on gender relations more broadly.

A particular brand of masculinity

The male gender, just like the female gender, is culturally constructed. And as the church defines and redefines the roles and positions of women in marriage and society, it does the same for men.

The church has always been a male-dominated institution. Beyond this, my research into the gender discourse of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches shows how they promote a particular brand of masculinity.

By “masculinity”, I refer to “a cluster of norms, values, and behavioural patterns expressing explicit and implicit expectations of how men should act and represent themselves to others”.

On the one hand, the brand of masculinity espoused by the “men of God” encourages behaviour that can be advantageous for many women in relationships: they generally eschew violence, advocate monogamy and companionship between spouses, and underscore the responsibilities of fathers and husbands.

On the other hand, the “Men of God” portray women as the “weaker sex” emotionally and intellectually, who need protection and guidance. Sometimes they emphasise women’s “limitations”. This leads to a devaluing of women, re-inscribing male domination and undermining female autonomy.

A different approach

Pre-martial counselling has been suggested as part of the problem. But, there are churches that foster a more gender-sensitive approach.

One is the Family Life Ministry at Calvary Baptist church in Accra. They work with a network of professionally trained lay counsellors across several churches in Accra to offer couples practical social and spiritual guidance using an alternative approach to “family life”.

Gender issues are tackled from social, medical, legal and cultural perspectives. Couples are encouraged to see men and women as created equal in the image of God, and to see the development of their partners as a positive investment in their own lives, and those of their families and society.

Only when approaches like this become the norm will the church become a place where women as well as men, wives as well as husbands, the single as well as the married, can experience comfort, well-being and true freedom from bondage.

Until then, in our deeply religious context, we can expect some fraught gender relations at best, and many unhappy wives especially.


This publication first apeared on The Conversation, and it was published by , a Professor of African Studies, University of Ghana

Black in a white skin: students with albinism battle prejudice

Myths and stereotypes about albinism abound. People with the condition are called derogatory names, like inkawu – the Nguni term for white baboon – and isishawa, a Zulu word for a person who is cursed. They are stared at, and must field ignorant questions.

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People with albinism often isolate themselves to avoid discrimination. Photo: Shutterstock

Some beliefs about albinism are incredibly dangerous, like the idea that having sex with a woman with albinism will cure a man of HIV. The bones and body parts of people with albinism are believed by some to bring good luck. In countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe, people with albinism are hunted so their body parts, particularly their hands and genitals, can be used in traditional medicine (muthi).

Albinism is a word derived from the Latin albus, meaning white. It’s a genetically inherited condition where a shortage of melanin pigment affects the eyes, hair and skin. Most people with albinism tend to have light hair, skin and eyes – but their other facial features and hair texture resemble those of Africans. They are usually born into black African families.

This means people with albinism tend to identify with the black rather than the white community. Their physical differences, though, mean they don’t fit into either the black or white race groups. I worked with two other researchers, Relebohile Phatoli and Nontembeko Bila, to try and understand the experience and contradiction of being a black person in a white skin in post-apartheid South Africa.

People with albinism often battle poor vision and blindness because of their condition. The students we interviewed struggled to keep up in lectures because they couldn’t see the board properly.

There were other struggles, too. Our findings confirmed the lack of knowledge about albinism, as well as stigma, “othering” – to separate “them” from “us” – and discrimination in relation to people with this condition.

Stigma and stares

About one out of every 4000 South Africans is living with albinism. Although the dangers aren’t as great in South Africa as for those in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe, people with albinism still struggle with stigma and discrimination.

We interviewed five university students with albinism and 10 students at the same university without the condition. The institution in question is a large urban university with several satellite campuses. There are an estimated 10 students with albinism registered at this university; it is not compulsory to register with the institution’s programme for disabled students and some people with albinism do not regard themselves as being disabled.

Our aim was to explore the beliefs and practices regarding albinism within a South African university. What we found exposed the sort of discrimination and “othering” that people with albinism experience.

One of the students with albinism said:

Honestly, I think albinism is a curse because people always stare at me, talk about me behind my back and also make very nasty remarks when I pass, saying that I do not know that my father is not black but is a white person and that is why I look the way I do.

This type of comment highlights the intersection of race, colour and gender in the social construction of such beliefs.

A student without albinism believed that albinos

don’t die, they just go missing and they disappear. Last year when I was pregnant, I was told that I must not look at the albinos because if I do I will get a child with albinism or if I do look at them by mistake I should spit at them to avoid a child with albinism.

Such forms of stigma have far-reaching psychopathological ramifications, such as self-exclusion from services, alienation and social withdrawal, loss of identity, poor self-image, depression and anxiety.

Stereotypes also dramatically affected the way people without albinism interacted with people with albinism. This in turn influenced how people with albinism viewed themselves. One student with the condition remarked: “I always have to prove myself, work extra hard and put in more effort into everything so that people can see me as ‘normal’.”

Isolation was another problem for students with albinism. They preferred to exclude themselves from the rest of the student population to avoid being judged or experiencing discrimination.

The students who didn’t have albinism said they were willing to befriend people with the condition – but wouldn’t necessarily go on dates with them. Those students who had befriended peers with albinism said they were able to value and appreciate the person behind the condition.

Learning and empowerment

So what are the lessons that can be learned from this research? How can young South Africans learn more about albinism and start breaking down the myths around it?

We recommend that schools provide knowledge and awareness programmes about the condition of albinism in the Life Orientation curriculum. Life Orientation is the holistic study of the self in relation to others and to society and focuses on the personal, social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical growth of learners. This subject is usually offered in the last three years of high school.

Universities and colleges also need to engage in awareness programmes with students and lecturers. These programmes must explore the impact of beliefs and stereotypes on people affected by this condition, and the challenges posed by reading lecture notes.

Social workers, psychologists, nurses and other helping professionals need to arrange support groups and educate parents, learners, teachers, traditional healers and the general public about what causes albinism. They can also teach people how to treat those with the condition and equip those with albinism to handle discrimination.

People living with albinism must be given the tools they need to exercise agency and help play an active role in breaking the cycle of stigma and discrimination. By being out in the world, empowered to discuss their condition, they can demystify it and be positive role models.

Through these strategies we can hopefully create a safer, more just, humane and caring society where the rights of all groups are respected.


This story was first Published on The Conversation by 

Why the African Union needs to revisit its admission requirements - the Morocco case study 

Why the African Union needs to revisit its admission requirements – the Morocco case study 

Morocco’s admission to the African Union (AU) was a mistake. In one move, the AU squandered a chance to discourage the north African state’s aggression against Western Sahara. It also showed how the body struggles to enforce the implementation of its own standards and directives.

Why the African Union needs to revisit its admission requirements - the Morocco case study 

Morocco easily met the AU’s admission criteria. It’s geographically located within Africa and was voted in by more than a simple majority.

These are soft requirements, and they are a problem. The AU doesn’t make any real effort to determine whether applicants are genuine democracies before it admits them. No steps are taken to ascertain that an applicant state has the capacity to implement democratic policies and norms.

This isn’t the first time the AU has admitted a country to its ranks without due diligence. It took a mere 18 days from South Sudan’s independence to its admission into the AU. At the time South Sudan lacked even the most rudimentary physical and human infrastructure to implement AU rules. It has since become a burden to the union.

It’s time for the AU to look beyond geography and a simple majority vote. It must start demanding strict adherence to fundamental democratic values.

Morocco’s smooth ride

From the time Morocco submitted its application until its formal admission, the question of Western Sahara was swept aside.

The African Union has a poor disciplinary track-record. So there’s no guarantee that it will take any serious action against Morocco – beyond its ineffective suspension procedure – if it intensifies its aggression against Western Sahara.

The issue of Western Sahara aside, the AU has made no effort to assess the ability of Morocco’s domestic institutions to implement the union’s democratic and economic policies. Had the AU subjected Morocco to a proper due diligence exercise, it would have found that its occupation of Western Sahara violates the principles stipulated in articles 3 & 4 of the AU’s Constitutive Act which are territorial integrity, respect of borders, and non-interference in the internal affairs of a member state.

In addition, the AU would have found that the Moroccan government is notorious for forcing dissidents serve long prison terms after unfair trials for purely political reasons.

The consequences of lax admission rules

The failure to consider democratic values as part of the AU’s admission process continues to have a number of negative effects. The absence of strict pre-conditions for membership has made it difficult for the union to manage errant behaviour among member states.

Member states not only routinely disregard  the AU’s basic democratic norms, they have also refused to agree on a common understanding of these norms.

Even in cases where AU organs have recommended sanctions for serious violations of human rights, as in the case of Burundi, some member states refused to vote  in favour of collective military intervention.

Member states have shown a reluctance to strengthen  the democratic functions of the AU. And, there’s no common position on how to move the union beyond the rhetorical plane.

With a strict pre-admission process, issues of compliance with AU rules and regulations could be easily determined, and the necessary measures to address violations adapted.
Which way forward?
It’s not naive or idealistic to suggest that the AU needs stricter admission criteria. The union has strong democratic foundations  which are espoused in the Constitutive Act.

These were the democratic values championed by African states as the union transitioned from the Organisation of African Unity in the year 2000.

That little attention has been paid to upholding the continental organisation’s democratic ethos remains one of the key drawbacks of the AU.

It missed the opportunity to push its democratic agenda during the processes that admitted first South Sudan and then Morocco. Thankfully, the AU can still redress this position by amending its Constitutive Act for future applications.

I am proposing a fourth condition for admission: the strict adherence to democratic norms as stipulated in articles 3 & 4 of the Constitutive Act.

The prospect of enlarging the AU to include the African Diaspora presents the union with an opportunity to enforce a stricter admission process. Haiti is likely to apply again for AU membership and if it’s admitted this could open the door for other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

If this happens, then the AU should subject each applicant state to a process that assesses its ability and willingness to comply with the union’s democratic norms, the likely obstacles to that compliance, and the feasibility of assisting the applicant state to redress its democratic shortfalls.

That could ideally be done through a strengthened African Peer Review Mechanism. Such process should be tailored to assess the political and economic readiness of an applying state to fulfil AU obligations.


Edition first published by Associate Professor of International Law, University of South Africa/ The Conversation

More female children will be used as suicide bombers in West Africa in 2017

More female children will be used as suicide bombers in West Africa in 2017

Female suicide bombers, many of them young girls, in West Africa in 2017 has significantly risen compared to 2016 according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report

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UNICEF documented 27 young girls used in suicide attacks already in 2017, 30 in 2016, 56 in 2015, and just four in 2014. This largely confirms the trends compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.

According to Long War Journal data, there were at least 80 female suicide bombers used in 2015. In 2014, there only 15 females, most of which were adult women.

Since June 2014, at least 151 women and girls have been used in subsequent attacks the report says. The overwhelming majority of these assaults have occurred in Nigeria, while at least 14 has occurred in Cameroon, three in Chad, and one in Niger.

This year Boko Haram militants have used at least 27 children to carry out suicide bombing attacks in the first three months in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the reports says.

This marks a major increase — 30 children were used in bombings for all of 2016 in those four countries, where Boko Haram is active.

The horrifying pattern is a sign of shifting strategy for Boko Haram, now waging its eighth year of conflict. “The insurgency has changed its tactics over the course of the conflict, from holding towns and territory to a guerrilla-style insurgency that uses hit and run attacks and improvised explosive devices,” UNICEF says.

That shift is clear in the numbers: Four were used in suicide attacks in 2014, 56 in 2015, and 30 in 2016.

It’s enabled by the militants’ systemic kidnapping of thousands of children, most famously the more than 270 schoolgirls taken from the town of Chibok, Nigeria, three years ago. Girls in particular are subjected to forced marriage and repeated rape.

“This is the worst possible use of children in conflict,” UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier, said in a statement. “These children are victims, not perpetrators, forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible.”

It is not clear that all of the children who have carried out attacks are cognizant of what they were doing, the report states.

There are also major concerns about how the uptick in attacks impacts the way other children who return after being abducted by Boko Haram are viewed by their communities, making reintegration more difficult. “Girls, boys and even infants have been viewed with increasing fear at markets and checkpoints, where they are thought to carry explosives,” UNICEF says.

The organization published testimony from “Amina” from Chad, who was 16 when she got married, only to find out later that her new husband was a Boko Haram militant. Here’s more:

“After being manipulated and drugged, she was forced into an attempted suicide attack. Four people including Amina were on a canoe riding towards a weekly crowded market. The four girls carried bombs that were strapped to their bodies. When a Vigilante Committee spotted them on the canoe, two of them activated their explosive belt. Amina didn’t activate her device but she was injured in the explosion. She lost both her legs.

However Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari vowed in Sambisa Forest during the 2017 Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC), that never again will terrorists take over and occupy any part of Nigeria’s territory.

Represented by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, Buhari noted that his government is resolved to stamp out all activities and operations of the Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria.

This year alone Al Qaeda’s group has been linked to over 100 attacks in West Africa. Most of the attacks so far  have occurred in Mali, majorly in the northern part of the country.

Only small number of Christians remain in Egypt | How long until all Christians are wiped out of the country? 

Only small number of Christians remain in Egypt | How long until all Christians are wiped out of the country? 

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians.

Only small number of Christians remain in Egypt | How long until all Christians are wiped out of the country? 
Monks look at the view following a terrorist attack against a group of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt on Friday. Photo: NYT/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive.

Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.


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In the past few months, the Islamic State has made its intentions toward Copts well known. “Our favorite prey” they called my co-religionists in a February video. Their barbaric attacks have left more than 100 Copts dead in the last few months alone. The Northern Sinai is now “Christianfrei,” or free of Christians.

Many serious questions will be asked in the next few days. How has the Islamic State been able to build such an extensive network inside mainland Egypt? Is the Islamic State moving its operations to Egypt as it faces pressure in Iraq and Syria? And why has Egypt repeatedly failed to prevent these attacks?

All of these questions are important and require thoughtful deliberation by the Egyptian regime and its allies around the world. But these are not the questions on the minds of my Coptic friends at home. They have far more intimate concerns: Am I putting my children’s lives at risk by remaining here? Should we leave? And what country will take us?

In February 2014, I met the head of the Jewish community in Egypt,Magda Haroun. Today, she told me, there are 15 Jews left in the country, out of a population that once stood at nearly 100,000. Ms. Haroun said she was afraid the Copts would soon follow.
At the time I thought the prospect was overblown. There are millions of Copts in Egypt.

Where would all of them possibly go? Surely some will remain, I reasoned. But I had left the country myself in 2009 — and so have hundreds of thousands of Copts. Even before the recent wave of attacks, Copts have been packing their bags and bidding 2,000 years of history farewell. As more find permanent homes in the West, more are able to bring relatives over. Ms. Haroun was right.

The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor — where one of the giants of the modern Coptic church, Father Matthew the Poor, was ordained in 1948 — is the only remaining monastery of 35 that once existed in the area. Copts had always been tied to Egypt, their very name derived from the Greek word for the country, Aigýptios. Despite waves of persecution at the hands of everyone from Roman and Byzantine emperors, Arab and Muslim governors and Egypt’s modern presidents, they have refused to leave. Their country once gave refuge to the young Jesus. Where will they now find sanctuary?

In 1954 an Egyptian movie called “Hassan, Marcus and Cohen” was produced. The comedy’s title represented characters from Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In 2008, a new movie, “Hassan and Marcus” hit theaters. It warned of the growing sectarian strife between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims. Fifty years from now, it seems likely that the sequel will just be “Hasan.”

EXPOSED! What Nigerian govt told UK court about Malabu scandal, Etete

EXPOSED! What Nigerian govt told UK court about Malabu scandal, Etete

The transfer of over $800 million to accounts controlled by Dan Etete from a Nigerian government account was fraudulent and in contravention of Nigerian laws, the federal government told a UK High Court.

EXPOSED! What Nigerian govt told UK court about Malabu scandal, Etete

The money was part of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and ENI for OPL 245, considered one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks. Although the government sought to transfer the total sum to Mr. Etete’s accounts, suits filed by middlemen seeking payments for services allegedly rendered during negotiation meant the government could only transfer $801 million of the money.

About $110.5 million was transferred to a Swiss account after one of the middlemen, Emeka Obi, won his case against Malabu while $85 million remained stuck in the UK following a court ruling.

It was in a bid to retrieve the $85 million that the Nigerian government filed its suit at the High Court of Justice, Admiralty and Commercial Court in the UK in October 2016.

Nigeria’s former attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, who authorised the transfer in 2011 following a controversial agreement with Malabu and another with Shell and ENI, has repeatedly maintained that he acted in the best interest of the federal government on the matter.

However, in a notice filed at the British Court, the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari argued that the transfer of the funds was in contravention of Nigerian laws.

“Those funds should have been paid into the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Nigeria, following the grant of an oil exploration license to a foreign oil consortium,” the government argued according to court documents.

The federal government argued that based on Section 80 (1), of the Nigerian constitution, all such monies should have been paid into the Consolidated Fund.

EXPOSED! What Nigerian govt told UK court about Malabu scandal, Etete

“All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation,” the section states.

The government argued that it was therefore illegal for the Goodluck Jonathan administration to have opened a separate Escrow Account in JP Morgan bank in London into which the $1.1 billion was paid.

Even after receiving the money in the escrow account, the government argued, it should have been transferred directly into the Consolidate Fund.

Etete’s ‘fraudulent’ role

Apart from the illegality of the account into which the money was paid, the Nigerian government also argued that Mr. Etete fraudulently secured the oil block for Malabu in 1998, at a time he served as petroleum minister under late dictator Sani Abacha.

Reports earlier showed how Mr. Etete created a fictional character, Kwekwu Amafegha, who owned 30 per cent shares in Malabu at inception; thus meaning the minister awarded the block to a company he partly owned.

Restating this claim to the British court, the federal government said Mr. Etete’s action violated Section 98 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act 1990 which makes it a criminal offence for any public official to corruptly obtain any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person in the discharge of his official duties.

The government also argued that Mr. Etete’s conduct in the use of Malabu as a front breached the code of conduct for public officials.

Section 5 of the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 1991 provides that “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”

Other sections of the Act like sections 10 and 23 were also violated by the then petroleum minister, the government said.

The government also argued that the failure of Malabu to pay any fee in 1998 when the block was awarded to it and also its failure to pay a $210 million signature bonus in 2016 was also illegal and further meant it had no right to the block.

“In summary, the 29th April Agreement was a corrupt agreement which deprived the claimant and the Nigerian people of the value to which it was entitled from the sale and exploitation of OPL 245 Block …” the government argued.

In its defence of the 2011 agreement and the transfer of the $801 million, Mr. Etete’s Malabu presented two letters written by Mr. Adoke.  In the first letter dated July 25, 2011 and the second dated May 20, 2013, Mr. Adoke accepted responsibility for the 2011 agreement and transfers stating that it was in public interest and that he had the permission of the federal government to authorise the deal.

In its ruling on the matter, delivered on December 19, 2016, the British court agreed with the Nigerian government and ruled that the $85 million be handed over to the Nigerian government.

There has been no confirmation on if the Nigerian government had received the $85 million or what effort was being made to retrieve it as ordered by the court.

The spokespersons for the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of Attorney-General of the Federation could not be reached for comments throughout Monday. Their telephone lines were switched off.

Criminial trial

A day after the court ruling, the Nigerian government commenced criminal proceedings against Messrs. Adoke and Etete, as well as others accused of involvement in the shady transactions that saw more than half of the $801 million Mr. Etete received go to companied owned by controversial businessman, Aliyu Abubakar.

Mr. Abubakar is believed to have been a front for officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Shell and ENI are also being prosecuted for their roles in the scandal.

After years of denial, Shell recently admitted it knew the money paid would end in private pockets, including those linked to Mr. Etete who a few years earlier was convicted of money laundering in France.

Shell, ENI and their officials have also been indicted by an Italian prosecutor who wants them prosecuted for their roles in the scandal.

 

A business solution

Despite the ongoing prosecutions, the Nigerian government has intensified moves in recent weeks to partner with Shell and ENI on the block and other business dealings.

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, told Acting President Yemi Osinbajo during a closed-door meeting on May 10 that the new deals being entered with Shell and Eni would be crucial to the country’s economic exploits.

“These are huge billions of dollars of investment in Nigeria, I am not going to shut that down,” the minister said, adding that “the issue of the criminality (on Malabu) is outside my realm.”

Industry insiders believe the renewed negotiations would be highlighted to shareholders at the Shell annual general meeting slated to kick off on Tuesday in the Netherlands in order to downplay the criminal prosecutions.

The oil giant would likely express optimism about the talks to convince shareholders that the Malabu probe would not damage its business interests in Nigeria and globally.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Premium Times/Agencies

An African University is on a mission to decolonise social sciences

An African University is working towards a path to decolonise social sciences and it is serious

It’s not often that you get to create a new university from scratch: space, staff – and curriculum. But that’s exactly what we’re doing in Mauritius, at one of Africa’s newest higher education institutions. And decoloniality is central to our work.

An African University is on a mission to decolonise social sciences
It’s time for students to see Africa differently. Shutterstock

I am a member of the Social Science Faculty at the African Leadership University. Part of our task is to build a canon, knowledge, and a way of knowing. This is happening against the backdrop of a movement by South African students to decolonise their universities; Black Lives Matter protests in the United States; and in the context of a much deeper history of national reimagination across Africa and the world.

With this history in mind our faculty is working towards what we consider a decolonial social science curriculum. We’ve adopted seven commitments to help us meet this goal, and which we hope will shift educational discourse in a more equitable and representative direction.

Seven commitments

#1: By 2019, everything we assign our students will be open source

Like most institutions of higher education in Africa (and across much of the world) ALU’s library is limited. Students often deal with this by flouting copyright and piracy laws and illegally downloading material. We don’t want to train our students to become habitual law breakers. Nor do we want them to accept second-tier access to commodified knowledge.

Our aspiration is that by 2019 everything we assign in our programme will be open source. This will be achieved by building relationships with publishers, writers and industry leaders, and negotiating partnerships for equitable access to knowledge. This will ensure that a new generation of thinkers is equipped with the analytic tools they need.

It will also move towards undoing centuries of knowledge extraction from Africa to the world that has too often taken place with little benefit to the continent itself.

#2: Language beyond English

Students who read, write and think in English often forget that knowledge is produced, consumed, and tested in other tongues.

We commit to assigning students at least one non-English text per week. This will be summarised and discussed in class, even when students are unable to read it themselves. Our current class comprises of students from 16 countries who between them speak 29 languages. English is the only language they all share. Exposing students to scholarly, policy, and real-world work that’s not in English means they are constantly reminded how much they don’t know.

As we grow, students will also be expected to learn languages from the continent: both those that originated in colonialism (Arabic, English, French, Portuguese), and those that are indigenous such as isiZulu, Wolof, or Amharic.

#3: 1:1 Student exchange ratio

Having cross-cultural experiences, particularly as an undergraduate, has become an important part of demonstrating work readiness and social competency in a “globalised” world. But scholars have shown that globalisation is often uneven. Strong currencies enable such experiences, so those who benefit usually come from Europe and North America.

This has had huge implications for higher education, where “student exchange” usually takes place at a ratio of 10:1 – ten Americans or Norwegians, for instance, exploring South African townships, for one Ghanaian who might make it to the Eiffel Tower.

In Social Sciences the body is the research tool and the mind the laboratory in which experiments are undertaken. We support as much exchange as possible across the broader institution. But our commitment when it comes to student exchange is strictly 1:1 – one ALU student goes abroad for every one exchange student we welcome into our classroom.

#4: Text is not enough

Africa’s long intellectual history has only recently begun to be recorded and stored through text. If students are exposed only to written sources, their knowledge is largely constrained to the eras of colonisation and post-coloniality.

To instil a much deeper knowledge and more sensitive awareness to context and content, we are committed to assigning non-textual sources of history, culture, and belief: studying artefacts, music, advertising, architecture, food, and more. Each week students engage with at least one such source to attend to the world around them in a more careful way.

#5: We cannot work alone

Social scientists often assign themselves the role of deconstructor: unpacking power, race, capitalism and consumption with glorious self-righteous abandon. My colleagues and I recognise that we cannot work alone, and require our students to play a central role in contributing to the university’s outputs.

We design our curricula in such a way that students are compelled to create, iterate, work with feedback, apply that feedback, and critically appraise it. We want them to collaborate with as wide a range of other people as possible, stretching them to use language and the tools of analysis that they acquire in their training with real world implication. For example, students recently worked with our legal, policy, and learning teams to write the university’s statement on diversity.

#6: Producers, not only consumers

The students who choose to come to the university bring with them tremendous insight and experience. These are often developed and augmented by spending time in the quintessential multi-cultural environment of the campus and dormitories. That allows certain fusions, tensions and commonalities to emerge much more clearly than they might in other places.

Working and living within this environment, it’s essential that students start contributing to discourses surrounding Africa as early as possible. It might take years to know how to write a publishable scholarly article – but an op-ed, podcast or YouTube video is not quite so demanding. This allows students to get accustomed to their voices contributing to and shaping public dialogue in and about Africa.

#7: Ethics above all

Social Sciences both reflect and shape the world. Our programme, then, is committed to the principle of “do no harm”, and also to be an impetus for good.

Students will learn to think and act to the highest ethical standards, and to feel confident in asking the same of others working with them. This is essential in bringing into being a world in which Africa’s place is both central – as it has arguably always been to global capitalism – and also respected.

Collaboration

It’s early days at ALU. There’s a lot we still need to do, and it will take time for us to build the institution into what we collectively envision. These seven commitments are an important foundation for the Social Sciences.

We’re inviting responses and collaborations through our blog, through email or through collaborations with our students.

Emmanuel Macron

OPINION: Will Nigeria ever vote a 39 year old as their president?

By: Kofoworola Ayodeji


The media, and of course the social media in particular, has been agog with the news of 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron emerging the French president.

Emmanuel Macron

Macron had defeated his key contender Marine Le Pen on Sunday night with a margin of 66.06% to 33.94%, making him the country’s youngest president.

Nigerian masses versus the elite

The victory of Macron has caused a heated debate within the Nigerian social media space. And that’s for two obvious reasons: One, the charismatic young man won on the platform of En Marche, a political movement which he formed less than a year ago. Two, he defeated 62-year-old François Fillon and 65-year-old Jean-Luc Mélenchon who ran on the tickets of two traditional main right-wing and left-wing parties ending their decades-long dominance. In other words, he defeated the “powerful and elite” in the country without a party. In my country, it’s like defeating the APCs and PDPs of this world. So I ask, is that possible in Nigeria?

Of course it is. After all, up until March 2015 nobody per se had ever thought Nigerians would rally round a new party, then the APC, to remove the PDP which had held on to power for 16 years. Not only that, who could have thought of a scenario in which a sitting president Goodluck Jonathan would be removed from office; as if that was not enough, he was unseated without a civil war breaking out. Common! That was unimaginable, yet it happened. So this gives a precedent to the fact that the Nigerian masses, who are angry and frustrated at the moment, can turn around to vote out the established and powerful parties in power, at any level at that.

But where is that 39-year-old Nigeria’s Macron?

I was engaged in a twitter chat with Chude Jideonwo, co-founder of Red Media Africa, which owns the continent’s largest portfolio of youth media brands, a few hours ago. Chude lamented how he had persuaded young people who are capable and well resourced to run for office. They just would not. According to him, “they are so frightened of throwing money down the drain they don’t even have the coverage to take risks. I don do PowerPoint tire ……”

For me, they should be scared actually. An average Nigerian youth of today is still in deep slumber. Although many people have attributed this to poverty and the poor education system, I can’t agree less. In its 2016 Graduate Report, Stutern— a Lagos-based organization which connects employers looking for the best undergraduate talents, in-betweeners and graduates in search of internship/full-time opportunities— says about 3 in 4 Nigerian graduates earn below #50, 000 as first salary. Wawu! How does one who earns so little ever think of running for office or joining others to campaign for whoever is willing and competent?

Think about this scenario. I earn #30,000 as entry salary after spending about four years of my life studying in the university and another one year for NYSC. I feed myself, buy clothes, transport to and from office, pay bills, visit friends and still strive to save. Come to think of it, inflation is at its peak. With this, I’m frustrated, the future looks bleak and I can’t even work on my dreams. Naturally, getting involved in politics is definitely the last thing on my mind. In short, I’m pissed off with everything and anything government. That is the story of an average Nigerian youth today.

This is not to say there are no thriving, willing and competent young Nigerians anyway. But then, they would definitely have to think of the harsh political terrain, ethnic politics, the electoral processes and citizens’ apathy. I want to believe that has kept a lot of capable young people away.

Nigeria can actually produce a young president, but how?

Young Nigerians will have to solve each of the problems listed above to make a difference. We must put pressure on our lawmakers to ensure the establishment of independent candidacy. This will allow credible people run without a political party, exactly what Macron did. Also, credible candidates can also take over existing dormant parties and turn them around. I believe playing ethnic politics brought us to where we are right now, so we must eradicate it if we will ever move forward. In addition, we must exalt competence, values such as integrity and excellence, good antecedents over ethnicity. Let the best candidate emerge irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation.

Are we not tired of suffering in this country?

I don’t buy the idea of saying we need a “youth-party”. In reality, it’s the youth who are making all the difference in the world today. The world is now a global village because of young people, so why underplay their capabilities? Bill Gate co-founded Microsoft at 20. Anthony Joshua is 27. Mark Zuckerberg is 32. Chimamanda Adichie is 39. Aboyade Inioluwa is 26. Jack Dorsey is 40. Tara Durotoye is 40. Onigbinde Oluseun is 32. Young people should join political parties to understand the existing structure and flow of things.

Realistically, we have the number— at least we’re about 60% of the Nigerian population. With that, amidst other things, we can make a huge difference I believe.

Can Nigeria ever produce a young president? Yes. Will Nigerians ever vote a 39-year-old, 41-year-old or even 45-year-old as their president? Yes, we can.


Kofoworola Ayodeji is a Pan-African writer, transformational speaker and socio-political commentator based in Nigeria. He tweets@Generalkopho


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

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OPINION: Dear President Buhari, for the love of yourself and the country, please resign

First and foremost, congratulations to you, the Chibok community, and to all well-meaning Nigerians on the successful release of additional 82 #ChibokGirls from the hands of their abductor – Boko Haram.

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At least, at this point, no one can genuinely fault your commitment to securing the release of the girls and reuniting them with their loved ones. It is a huge success for the country and for your administration

Meanwhile, early this year, precisely 19th January 2017, you traveled out of the country to the United Kingdom in what your handlers called a 10-day vacation to have some rest. However, you ended up staying in London for about two months, during which several political leaders visited you and gave us the assurance that you were “Hale and Hearty”, “Fit as Fiddle” and that you were only resting.

Unfortunately, it turns out that you were really sick as you hinted during a short address to the nation when you returned. You admitted that he had never been this “sick” in your entire life and further revealed that you had a “blood transfusion” in the course of your treatment in the United Kingdom. This shows the gravity of your illness.

However, since you returned to the country, it is no longer a matter of just speculation that you have not been completely capable of carrying out your constitutional duties as expected, but have also assigned the majority of your job to your vice- Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Sir, the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on 3rd May 2017, makes it the third consecutive FEC meetings you have failed to attend and preside over. The reason for this cannot be farfetched- your ill health, even though your information minister has maintained a different reason, which is, you were resting.

While that was on, last night you travelled back to the United Kingdom in what your handlers termed, follow-up medical consultations with your doctors.

Mr President, just this year, you travelled in January, returned in March, rested all April, this is May and you are back in London. Sir, isn’t it obvious that you really need to focus on your health? It cannot be overemphasised that you need a comprehensive rest, a quality one for that matter, devoid of all forms of stress- especially political stress, which is in its totality mentally demanding and strenuous.

Mr President, it is very important that you know that the overall health of the leader of any nation is in one way or another important for the health and wellbeing of the nation.

As much as I would like you to complete your tenure in office and deliver on the Change Mantra for positive development that you promised Nigerians – there is no question about that, yet, I am worried that your persistent ill health is beginning to affect your performance and your overall capacity to govern the nation.

The time has come sir; you must resign. It’s time that you step aside to allow the country repair itself and allow it have an active and a vibrant leader.

The only reason and I do mean the only reason that you have survived this long without mounting pressure from all nooks and crannies of the country for your resignation is because a large number of the masses still loves you and believes you are incorruptible- an opinion in which your ill health condition is now making some to doubt. Or how does one explain that you cleared the suspended Secretary General of the Federation of wrongdoing involving the #IDPGate, and the same you suspended him months later for same allegations?

Truth be told Mr. President, I know, you as a citizen would not have condoned from any President a continuous inability to discharge his/her responsibility due to ill health, just as you displayed during the time of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Mr President, your ill health is leaving an imbalance in the country and raising unnecessary issues which could have been averted if you were in good health.

Mr President, save yourself and the country the pain of going through this unwarranted confusion and heartache. Nigerians shouldn’t have to go through this. A man of integrity as you are fondly described would realise when to cut the confusion and misery and step aside to stave off further anguish. Please, Mr President; do the right thing- Please resign

A resignation from your will afford you an ample time to take proper and unconditioned care of yourself and pay all necessary attention to your health. In the same way, it will afford the country which is perceived that you love so much to have a healthy and a mentally stable leader- a condition which is key for one of the toughest jobs in our land.

In view of this, the call for your resignation cannot be taken out of context and as a matter of sincerity, it is long overdue.

Make no mistakes Mr President; I wish you good health and speedy recovery. But with the kind of rest you need to recuperate appropriately, it might be difficult for you to get such at the Presidency.

Mr President, save yourself the trouble, for the love of yourself and the country, please RESIGN.

Sir, it is time; please resign.

Yours sincerely,

Ogundana Michael Rotimi


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

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Paraguay’s population is exploding, but where are all the jobs?

Paraguay’s population is exploding, but where are all the jobs?

In recent weeks, Paraguay has been shaken by a fierce parliamentary debate about a bill – recently killed off in the House of Representatives – that would have allowed presidents to be re-elected.

Paraguay’s population is exploding, but where are all the jobs?
Paraguayan farmers are demanding agrarian reforms that would restore lost jobs to the countryside. PHOTO: Jorge Adorno/Reuters

And although photographs of the Congress building in flames and the murder of a young protester by security forces drew international attention and clearly demonstrated the limits of Paraguay’s democratic system, political turbulence is just the most visible aspect of the deep economic and social problems facing this South American country.

Paraguay’s boom

The country’s situation could, in theory, be favourable. Paraguay is in the midst of a demographic boom that is transforming the shape of its population.

According to official projections, almost 60% of the country’s almost seven million people are between 15 and 64 years old. That means an extraordinary proportion of Paraguayans are of working age, and a relatively small segment, consisting of children and the elderly, is dependent.

Unfortunately, these statistical data do not imply an upsurge in productivity and economic growth; the country’s current economic structure does not have room for so many new workers. The Paraguayan government has yet to create a plan for integrating th, much less for putting in place differentiated pathways to employment for young people and vulnerable groups.

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Informal settlements have grown in Asunción as people migrate from rural areas to the city seeking employment. PHOTO: Jorge Adorno/Reuters

Without such policies, Paraguay’s demographic bump, which is projected to continue through to 2025, will have the opposite effect to creating an economic boom. It will deepen inequality and poverty, boost the informal economy and actually spur emigration.

Strong growth, weak fundamentals

After recovering from a deep crisis in 2012, the Paraguayan economy has actually been growing at a steady clip, with GDP rising by 4.7% in 2014 and 5.2% in 2015.

But structural weaknesses are apparent. The mainstays of the Paraguayan economy are commodities and hydropower, which accounted for 25.6% and 24.9% of its GDP, respectively, in 2015. After that comes the underground economy, Paraguay’s third most important economic sector, according to one Treasury Ministry official in an interview conducted by the author in 2010. This mainly comprises smuggling activities on different scales.

Despite a reduction in poverty, which dropped from 32% in 2011 to 22% in 2015, Paraguay is still one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It ranks fourth in extreme poverty, after Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a 2016 ECLAC report.

Inequality is also widespread. Though the country’s GINI coefficient, which indicates economic inequality, has dropped from 0.5124 to 0.4714, there’s still a significant gap between rich and poor Paraguayans. According to the General Statistics Surveys and Census Bureau (DGEEC), the poorest 40% of Paraguayans pocket only 12.5% of the nation’s revenues, while the richest 10% earn 37.1% of all income.

Finally, there’s underemployment, which hovers at 19% (only 5.34% of Paraguayans are fully unemployed). Among the 3.3 million people nationwide who have jobs, 664,000 either work less than 30 hours per week “but would like to work more, and are available to do so”, according to the above-mentioned DGEEC bureau. Or they work 30-plus hours but are paid less than minimum wage“.

Rural exodus

In rural parts of the country, these economic weaknesses are magnified. Unemployment for urban men can reach 55.12% in some areas, but it’s 64.19% in rural zones. Wages are also notoriously lower in rural areas – even bosses earn less.

The rural-urban economic gap is the result of large-scale agriculture steadily eating away at small-scale farming in Paraguay. And it is increasingly prioritising high-tech monoculture enterprises.

Today, 90% of the land belongs to just 5% of landowners.

Thanks to a surge in inflows of transgenic crops since 2012, agri-business revenues have multiplied in Paraguay.

In late March, about a thousand farmers converged on Asunción in an annual march, demanding across-the-board agrarian reform. The protesters called for debt forgiveness for small farmers and condemned the widespread concentration of rural resources.

Paraguay’s population is exploding, but where are all the jobs?
Harvesting soybeans in Paraguay, where industrial farms are increasingly pushing out small landholders. PHOTO: Jorge Adorno/Reuters

Studies have confirmed that between 1991 and 2008, when the last National Agricultural Census was conducted, the total amount of productive land in Paraguay fell by some 5.7%. The number of farms and homesteads covering less than 100 hectares has shrunk, while those between 100 and 500 hectares has risen by almost 35%, and massive plantations covering more than 500 hectares are up by almost 57%.

Farmers’ deepening marginalisation in the countryside has made city living more attractive.

Asunción, the capital, has grown steadily, from 388,958 people in 1972 to 515,587 in 2012. Some 37% of the nation’s population is now concentrated in the city and the surrounding Central Department area.

Although complete official accounting of informal settlements are not available, the National Housing Bureau, SENAVITAT, estimates that the region now has some around 1,000 slum areas.

Though wages are higher in the city, Paraguay’s labour market usually makes it hard for rural migrants to find jobs, so new arrivals often face underemployment, temporary joblessness or longer-term unemployment.

The democratisation debate

Underemployment and rural poverty are fuelling Paraguay’s current turbulent politics, highlighting a critical question that was first debated during South America’s democratic transitions in the 1980s: can political democracy truly exist in countries that haven’t also attained economic and social democracy?

Some thinkers claim that economics and politics are independent dimensions, and that the social rights can be enshrined after democracy is established.

Paraguay’s population is exploding, but where are all the jobs?
Political upheaval has shaken Paraguay in recent months, as unemployment and poverty rise. PHOTO: Jorge Adorno/Reuters

More critical – or less optimistic – political scientists contend that, to the contrary, there can be no real democracy if it’s not accompanied by the steady spread of social and economic equality.

For Paraguay, the latter hypothesis has won out.

Paraguayan democracy is so lacking in social components that it has become a shrunken version of government. It consists almost exclusively to ensure that institutions function, elections are held regularly and transparently, ballot-box outcomes are accepted and, above all, that the population accepts the nation’s entrenched economic structure.

This is not really democracy.

What’s more, a steady stream of scandals has revealed widespread fraud and corruption, and there are deep-rooted processes of political and economic exclusion.

No matter who runs in the 2018 election, it will be merely a fiction of democracy – a mechanism that serves to continue the systematic uprooting of farm families for the benefit of agribusiness and bolstering an urban economy that pushes workers into underemployment or into the informal sector.

Until social justice, equality and rights are brought into politics, Paraguay’s turbulence can be expected to continue.

OPINION: The Nigerian political class is at war… and that’s a good thing -Chude Jideonwo

The confusion over the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is one of the most remarkable pieces of political theatre you would ever see.

Buhari departs for medical treatment 2

This is a man nominated by the President of Nigeria for public office. The president is head of the government’s executive arm. Yet another organ of that arm, the Department of State Secretary (DSS) continues to frustrate the nomination of Magu, accusing him – through a mishmash of insinuation and innuendo – of corruption.

Based on this report the candidate is consistently rejected by the National Assembly, headed as it were by a Bukola Saraki who in public continues to insist on his loyalty to the President.

The president, his vice, and the famous law professor and Buhari friend Itse Sagay, who heads a special body aimed at sharpening the president’s anti-corruption war, insist that Magu will remain their candidate.

The DSS refuses to budge. The Senate insists it will not confirm him.

Oh, and both Senate President and President of the Republic are members of the very same party.

The same party that, out of frustration, kicked off a war of words with Sagay for his consistent attacks against the National Assembly, warning him to stop creating enemies for the president, who must sustain a positive relationship with the legislature in order to expedite his priorities.

To which Sagay replied with scornful disdain (tautology deliberate), accusing them of “just compromising with evil”.

Essentially, a close appointee of the president has chosen, with confidence, to do public battle with the president’s own party.

Meanwhile did you notice a serving Minister of the Federal Republic, Aisha Al-Hassan, of Women Affairs (a ridiculously named ministry, by the way) reportedly bringing members of the party from her state Taraba to the party’s national headquarters, to protest their marginalization by the government of the man she is presently serving? It is important to state that she later insisted the visit was only to thank the president. But the fact that the narrative even sounded plausible in the first place speaks loudly.

Confusion everywhere, it appears.

In circumstances like this, it becomes common place for observers and analysts to, as Nigerian newspapers are wont to put it, decry the sense of confusion and disorder in the nation’s leadership, reminding us that is a distraction to the art of governance citizens deserve.

To be fair, that is a reasonable critique. But it may obscure a more important reality emerging from these internecine battles for political supremacy: that what is happening may at the end of the day be a net-positive for the citizens of Nigeria.

Calm down, let’s talk through this.

The All Progressives Congress (APC), like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has never really been a party, in the sense that a party is an organ that coheres a coordinated, consistent set of views and values about society and politics place in the world.

It has not been able to communicate a firm ideology, certainly not in the way that Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria was able to channel Obafemi Awolowo’s social democratic philosophy.

Instead, the APC emerged as a child of circumstance, an inevitably hurried machine put together by an aggressive section of the political class, buoyed by the desperation of a frustrated public to seize power from an obsolete ruling party.

The people in the APC didn’t come together because they believed in the same thing. The people in the APC came together because they wanted the same thing – they were united only by common disdain for the PDP and what it had become.

Some were thus motivated because they had lost out in the PDP’s battle of wills, some because they had political ambitions that could only be actualized outside the PDP, some were driven by a sense of history in opposition politics, and yet others – probably a minority – by the urgent imperative to dislodge the corrupt behemoth that the ruling party had become in its 15 years administering Nigeria’s affairs.

To this extent, the APC was a ragtag coalition of disparate forces, which is why in pieces I wrote years ago, I made the point that there is no difference between the APC and the PDP at this point in our national evolution.

The APC included forces from Abubakar Atiku’s People’s Democratic Movement, forces from Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Political Change, and forces from both the New PDP (nPDP) or the Progressive Governor’s Forum (Rotimi Amaechi and Bukonla Saraki wings). The engine underlining all of these came from the fine-tuned Bola Tinubu political machine.

On social, economic and political imperatives, none of these blocs was in alignment. They didn’t understand the same things, didn’t believe the same things, and didn’t say the same things.

While this was not an ideal state of affairs, many still decided it was a better alternative to what we had, itself a inchoate coalition that had only managed some cohesion because of the equilibrium from multiple cycles of holding on to power i.e. the PDP had managed to keep its many factions together only by distributing power and resources.

This monopoly desperately needed competition if it was not to fully cannibalize the Nigerian nation. The APC, imperfect as it was, was the only chance to break the stranglehold.

In short, Nigeria had two power blocs that looked exactly like each other. But for both of them to behave themselves, they needed to be in competition for the voters’ affection. Monopoly by any of the two could never be a good thing.

To this extent, it was always inevitable that the APC was going to descend into some form of chaos.

Either a) cannibalise itself as these factions fight for an upper hand or b) continue to do battle for a period of time, until one side of the war finally gains the upper hand.

Either ways, I am of the opinion that this is good for Nigeria.

Previously we had a ruling party with a unity of purpose and consequently an elite collision. With its absolute power, executive and legislature had ample incentive and capacity to pillage and deceive, with no fear that anyone would interfere.

Right now what we have instead is an elite that cannot trust itself, cannot find a common ground, and cannot settle on a consensus.

While the ruling party is in palpable confusion, its opposition too has descended into chaos. Even the former president, Goodluck Jonathan unable to ensure unity; his attempts at facilitating reconciliation descending into allegations that he was bribed to take a side.

Halleluyah.

Where once Nigerians were held hostage by one very powerful ruling party at the center with players more focused on grabbing power than public good, Nigeria still has the same players, but now severely weakened and splintered across narrow lines, accusing each other of corruption, publishing pay slips, attacking remuneration and uncovering secrets.

They are weakened and scattered, and so for any of them to get a competitive advantage in such a space, one thing is required – they have to turn to pleasing the people.

Since the only upper hand these players can get at this time is to win the respect, affection and then voters of the general public, that means the balance of power continues to shift to the hands of Nigerian citizens.

Is that perhaps the reason the Senate President seemed to be talking to himself in April?

“There is need for cooperation, partnership and synergy between the states and the federal government irrespective of the political parties controlling the states,” he said at an event in Rivers. “We are supposed to serve our people and we cannot do that in a situation of acrimony. We may be different in our political persuasion but we have one common goal: to make life better for our people.

“I also believe the executive and the legislature should work together. We may have our differences but we must be conscious of the impact on national cohesion and development.”

Talk about preaching to the choir.

But at least he is making the right noises. And he is making the right noises because he has other ambitions. And those ambitions, in a highly competitive political environment, need the buy-in and a particular perception by elite and mass audiences to give him credibility and viability.

This is what we voted for, ultimately.

We voted to break the strongholds and weaken the power centers, and to return the ace to the hands and wills of citizens.

So yes in the short term it makes sense to bemoan the lack rudderless-ness that seems to define governance at the centre, especially because these things have real consequences on the lives of many who live right on the edge of poverty in a country of stifled growth.

But in the long term, we should in fact celebrate the confusion in the ranks of these guys. The unity they have had since democracy’s return in 1999 dis-incentivised good behavior and led to growth that is slower than should reasonably be expected.

Competition provides this incentive. And the more they compete, the weaker they get in relation to the voter.

Let them fight and cancel themselves, fellow Nigerians. There is no conceivable scenario under which that can ever be a bad thing.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

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Pius Adesanmi: Do you know what A Luta Continua means?

I was wet behind the ears. I was a Jambite. It was matriculation day at the University of Ilorin.

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After matriculation on the main campus of the University, I returned to the mini-campus in the company of new friends – fellow Jambites. At the entrance gate to campus, we ran into a chaotic mass of policemen, soldiers, tanks, guns, tear gas.

Students, advanced, retreated, advanced, retreated, screaming, chanting, rallying. In all the chaos, the protesting students (Nigerian authorities always demean their struggles by calling them rioting or rampaging students) had one rallying call which fascinated us as Jambites:

A luta continua

A luta continua

A luta, a luta

A luta continua

Thus it was that on my very first official day of University life, on matric day, I had to return to Isanlu for two months because the University was closed down. The two months I spent in Isanlu was not a waste. When Baba Adesanmi heard me chanting “a luta continua” one day, he asked: “Bola, who taught you that thing you are saying?”

I told him that the chant was the energising spirit of the student protest that had sent me back to Isanlu. All the senior students were chanting and screaming “aluta” and all the Jambites joined them. He smiled casually and took out two books from a shelf in the family library. One was entitled, Mozambique: Sowing the Seeds of Revolution, authored by a man called Samora Machel. The other was an edited selection of the speeches and writings of the same Samora Machel.

I knew enough of African and world affairs to know that Samora Machel was the president of Mozambique who had died in a plane crash in 1986. But I did not know that he was one of Africa’s greatest sons, one of Africa’s greatest freedom fighters, one of Africa’s greatest revolutionaries, one of Africa’s greatest radical theorists, one of Africa’s greatest thinkers.

Samora Machel was thus my entrance into the intellectual force field of African radical revolutionary thinkers and freedom fighters. Samora Machel was the path that led me to the writings and work of Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Eduardo Mondlane, Steve Biko, Patrice Emery Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara. Beyond Africa, Samora Machel was the path that led me to a life time of reading the writings and thought of Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Paulo Freire, and Regis Debray but I am jumping ahead of myself.

A luta continua! Generations of Nigerian students have chanted it, have been defined by it. Portuguese for “the struggle continues”, Samora Machel and his FRELIMO freedom fighters originated that call as their antiphonal call and response formula for mobilising and motivating the people of Mozambique in their historic struggle against the evil Portuguese colonialists.

Samora Machel developed a musical, deeply-textured and sequentially sequenced way of screaming “a luta” from the podium when delivering his rousing speeches and the people would respond in unison, “continua”!

Samora Machel’s call to struggle moved across Africa and the rest of the world to become the rallying call of struggles and protest movements. In Nigeria, it became part of our national lexicon and the very definition of the student experience. Of course, we took Samora Machel’s chant out of context and divorced it from the totality of his meaning. We would not be true Nigerians if we didn’t do such an anti-intellectual thing.

Thus, very few Nigerian students actually know the origins of a luta continua. I wager that few in the post-1980s generation have even ever heard of Samora Machel and FRELIMO. Fewer still in the newer generations would know that Samora Machel never stopped at screaming “a luta continua” from the podium. When he had worked the people to a frenzy of excitement with the “a luta continua” call and response, he would suddenly stop and say:

Against what? In other words, Samora Machel was not just interested in empty sloganeering. He would ask: against what precisely must the struggle continue? Samora Machel, the great educator, knew that because he was leading Mozambique and, by extension, Africa, against a particular form of oppression, it was easy for people to understand praxis as an exclusive struggle against imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism.

As important as the struggle against colonialism and imperialism was, Machel understood that it had to go in tandem with and be underwritten by other internal struggles and dynamics without which the broader struggle was doomed.

Against what must the struggle continue?

Samora Machel would answer his own question to the admiration of his audience:

Against tribalism!

Against ignorance!

Against illiteracy!

Against superstition!

Against misery!

Against hunger!

In other words, the most important aspects of what Samora Machel meant by a luta continua, what he specifically defined the struggle against, have been left out of its Nigerian appropriation by generations of Nigerian students. When the Nigerian student – or even the Nigerian – casually vents, “aluta continua”, tribal hate and religious bigotry are not even remotely in his mind for these two demons are the natural constitutive elements of the Nigerian oxygen.

The Nigerian student chanting aluta continua is thinking of some forces of oppression in the most fuzzy and abstract terms. He is not thinking of tribal hatred and religious bigotry – two of the most significant negativities that Samora Machel and his generation of African freedom fighters and thinkers defined the struggle against.

If Samora Machel and other freedom fighters understood that tribalism, religious bigotry, and superstition were enemies of progress, enemies of the national project, enemies of the liberation struggle, they also understood perfectly that these things were fed by ignorance and illiteracy.

That is why they invested so much of the struggle in mass education and instruction, public pedagogy and the reduction of ignorance. On the personal level, many of them understood that there was no alternative to a lifetime investment in erudition. They were polymaths with an encyclopedic knowledge base in philosophy, history, literature, culture, music, economics, mathematics and the other sciences. They led by example. You could not mobilise the people against illiteracy and ignorance if you were not erudition personified.

The tragedy of Nigeria is that we destroyed the informing spirit of education. Without this informing spirit of education, Nigeria has been building new Universities, Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education in a national project of mass producing and graduating largely ignorant and barely literate armies of ethnic hate, religious bigotry, and invidious superstitions.

Nigeria’s self-destructive demission from the informing spirit of education has come full circle as social media is now exposing the consequences of our dereliction of duty: entire generations of graduates whose only meaningful lifeline is ethnic hate and religious bigotry fed by ignorance and illiteracy.

Hate for hate’s sake. North, south, east, west, these armies of hate and bigotry went through the University screaming “a luta continua” without even understanding what the real owners of that historic liberation chant said that the struggle must be against.

There is also no understanding of the fact that Samora Machel and his generation saw personal development – understood as reading ceaselessly to attain vast erudition – as the principal building block of aluta.

Hence the many contradictions of our blighted existence in Nigeria. Boastful public anti-intellectualism – I don’t read! This essay is too long! – is worn around the neck like an Olympic gold medal by people screaming “aluta” on social media. People who live for hate and by hate on the basis of ethnicity and faith also go about screaming aluta.

Education, real education, remains the greatest weapon against hate. And this is where my generation still hasn’t come to terms with its own failures in the Nigerian national project. We are the ones raising the younger generations who are so totally defined by hate for hate’s sake. We watch all the purulence on social media, gnash our teeth, and shake our heads without understanding that we are responsible to a great extent for this state of affairs.

If you are in my generation and your kids are currently undergraduates in their early 20s or late teens, you fail to understand that the Nigerian education system in its current condition cannot educate them and enrich their minds. I have written again and again that the rot and destruction in our education system is deliberate. The politicians will never fund educational institutions and make it possible for them to produce an educated and informed citizenry.

We do not need to repeat the well-known fact that the rulers of Nigeria are animals. They are the worst humanoids in the world. The education of your children is not in their best interest.

If you intend to run Nigeria the way she has been run by generations of moribund and stupid leaders, the first thing you do is to mass produce an under-educated citizenry easily polarised by ethnicity and religion. If your children were educated and enlightened, where would these leaders find the armies of hate and division they need for their self-perpetuation? They will continue to underfund and destroy education for this reason.

Yet, you think that your work stops once you find enough money to pay your millennial’s school fees in the slaughter slabs of the mind we call Universities in Nigeria. This explains why you have no personal library at home. How can you be raising kids who are not surrounded by books at home?

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Segun Adeniyi: President Buhari’s Health Challenge

I remember that Segun, as SA media to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, passed through a path which I also passed through recently and I learnt a lot from those who worked with him, and who are still working with me in the same office.

When President Yar’Adua had that medical challenge, I was the editor of Daily Sun newspaper at the time. I remember that nobody could reach Segun. He just went underground. His secretary then, who is my secretary now, pointed my attention to the sofa in my office. She said Segun would put off his phones and sleep on that sofa. So I learnt a lesson from that. I met the publisher of THISDAY newspaper a few days after President Buhari went on vacation which eventually became a medical vacation. He told me that ‘it will be a mistake to go underground, it will be a mistake to be unreachable, it will be a mistake to be incommunicado’. I said ‘but that was what Segun did’. He replied, ‘No, don’t do it’.


 When Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, explained why he has not followed my footsteps at the public presentation of my book, ‘Against The Run of Play’, last Friday in Lagos, I had a feeling that he might be speaking too soon. Going by feelers from Aso Rock, the real drama of the health challenge of President Buhari may have just started. And I feel very sorry for Mr Adesina because there is no manual for managing the media for a sick president; especially under the political climate in which we operate with all the mix of religion and ethnicity.

Tomorrow marks exactly seven years that President Yar’Adua died and, as it has been a tradition since May 2011, I usually coordinate a memorial advert for those of us who were his principal officers in remembrance of him. It is also a period when we reflect on what might have been. Against the background that President Buhari, for the third week in a row, skipped the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday, the rumour mill is already on overdrive while parallels are already being drawn to the Yar’Adua saga.

On Monday, Chief Bisi Akande, former Osun State Governor and founding National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), issued a loaded statement. “The health of the leader is intricately intertwined with the health of the nation. It is more so in a delicately fragile Union of Nations called Nigeria” wrote Akande who claimed to have wept when he couldn’t see President Buhari at the wedding of his grandson in Kaduna last Saturday.

 Although Chief Akande attributed the health challenge to “corruption fighting back”, whatever that may mean, the point is that President Buhari’s capacity to govern has been severely diminished and the agitation for him to either take another medical vacation or resign would be more strident in the coming days and weeks, especially if he does not resume work. That then explains why the idea of a second term that some people within the administration are now canvassing, is not only silly, it is very provocative. But it is also understandable.

 In a piece I did when President Buhari went on his elastic vacation in February, I borrowed from the embedded lessons in the book, “When Illness Strikes The Leaders: Dilemma of The Captive King” to examine the implications of what is happening in Nigeria right now. According to Jerrold Post and Robert Robins, “the ailing or aging leader and his close advisers can become locked in a fatal embrace, each dependent upon the other for survival: a captive king and his captive court. In the absence of clear rules for determining when a leader is disabled and should be replaced and how a successor will be chosen, illness in high office can be highly destabilizing”.

 I consider it very sad that Nigeria would be going through another traumatic season like this on account of the health of the president. But we have to take Mrs Aisha Buhari’s word that her husband is not in any immediate danger. While we will come back to this issue another day, it is comforting that the handlers of President Buhari have managed the situation very well thus far. I hope it stays that way.

 Of Hackers and Pirates

My web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com is loaded today. From the transcript of what President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina said at my book presentation to that of his immediate predecessor, Dr Reuben Abati, there are revealing insights for readers. I thank both of them for attending the book presentation. On the web portal, there is also the speech by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar who, as chair of the occasion, arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled time of 10am to meet Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Mr Remi Makanjuola and several other members of their generation who were more disciplined and had to be kept waiting for almost an hour before we started the event. On the website also is the book review by Dr Okey Ikechukwu. It also contains the addresses of the bookshops/places where the books can be purchased.

 Meanwhile, I have been overwhelmed by the kind words and messages of solidarity, following the hacking and free distribution of my book, ‘Against The Run of Play’. While I thank all the people who have taken it upon themselves to fight the infringement on my intellectual property in the social media, and I have seen several efforts, I want to make two things clear. One, this battle is not about me. Two, given where I am coming from, I am not so much bothered by what happened. Perhaps, I should explain that.

 I wrote my first book, ‘Before The Verdict’, in 1991 as a fresh reporter with The Guardian on Sunday. I collected the CVs of the 23 presidential aspirants in both the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) which I then used to write their profiles. In my naivety, I imagined that members of the two political parties would find it useful before making their choices. I expended all my savings on it yet at the end, only one person paid for a copy: Mrs IretiKingibe. I am not sure any other person read the book.

 Following the disqualification of the 23 presidential aspirants, I updated the book with the reports of the primaries that led to their disqualification and titled it ‘Fortress on Quicksand’. I printed about a thousand copies which I hawked around. The only person I can remember who gave me any money after collecting two copies of the book is Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, one of the disqualified SDP presidential aspirants at the time. A year later, I wrote “POLITRICKS: National Assembly under Military Dictatorship”.

 Despite the fact that the book captured the entire debate on the June 12, 1993 presidential election as well as all the drama preceding it, I got no feedbackthat any of the people who took the copies, free of charge, read it. Yet, that did not deter me from writing, in August 1997, “Abiola’s Travails” to mark his 60th birthday at a time the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election was in detention. For that effort, only the then Chairman of PUNCH newspaper, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola gave me any financial support. That in itself is very instructive since I was at the time a staff of Abiola’s Concord newspapers.

 In all those efforts, what motivated me was to tell the background stories of the political developments at the time even when it was not financially rewarding. But by the time I got married in December 1998, I had to come to terms with the fact that I no longer had any money to waste on books that I was not sure people were reading.

 However, early in 2005, then as the editor of Sunday THISDAY, I wrote a column about those goading President Olusegun Obasanjo to seek a third term in office. Many of them were involved in the late General Sani Abacha’s controversial transition programme that was designed to end with his adoption and I named names. The responses I got to the piece suggested that majority of Nigerians had forgotten. That was the inspiration for another book: The Last 100 Days of Abacha.

 Before I wrote a single line, I sent a mail to Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka that I was writing a book on Abacha and I would want him to present it for me. Days turned to weeks and I didn’t hear from him. Then, one day, I got a mail from him saying he would be in the country within two weeksand that he would like to see the manuscript. I had not even written a single line!

 I went to Vanguard, PUNCH and Daily Times where I spent days using their libraries after which I wrote the draft. On completion, I sent the draft to Reuben Abati to help me look at. He called to say that he enjoyed it and that he would write a comment which I could use any way I liked. Without solicitation, that was how Reuben wrote what I turned to the Foreword while Col Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd) wrote the Postscript. The book sold out within weeks despite the price tags of N8,000 for paperback and N15,000 for the hardback editions. It was the first financially rewarding book I wrote.

 The next book of course was “Power, Politics and Death”. Even though it was hacked from Day One, I still made some good money from it. In 2012 and 2013, I worked on The Verbatim Report (The Inside Story of the Fuel Subsidy Scam). It took me more than one year to complete but at the end, I put the book on my website for free download. It is one of the most extensive works on our oil and gas industry. It is about 800 pages. Interested readers can still download it free on my web portal just like the Abacha book.

 I have gone to this length to let readers know that my motivation for writing has always been to tell compelling stories that would be read while monetary consideration is secondary. However, as I stated in the statement I released on Sunday, I am more worried for people in creative arts and sciences, especially those in Nollywood, who are practically at the mercy of hackers and pirates. When creative people in both the arts and sciences cannot be guaranteed the legitimate benefits of their sweat and investments, they lose the incentive to take the risk to create and innovate. And when that happens, the whole society loses.

 I thank all the individuals and groups who have taken it upon themselves to fight not only for me but against intellectual theft.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

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OPINION: Richard Quest and Nigeria’s search for good image by Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, anyone familiar with CNN International would readily know the name and face of an unusually dramatic presenter, Richard Quest, widely known and acclaimed for his popular programme “Quest Means Business”. This journalist with a tinge of eccentricity has been in Nigeria all this week. If he is still in town and able to read this, let me say a big Nigerian welcome to him, before I move on to the meat of my epistle this week.

dele-momodu

I believe CNN is more popular in Nigeria than it is in its original base in the United States of America. Our love and propensity for anything and anyone foreign is legendary. That is why we go to great extents to scour the length and breadth of the globe to get foreigners to do the jobs that Nigerians can do better and cheaper, whilst those other nations gleefully snap up our precocious and prodigious talents to develop their arts, sciences and economy. Indeed, our predilection for all things foreign is not limited to services but extends to almost every conceivable commodity or good produced. Things have even become so bad that our staple products like Garri are now being made abroad and imported into this country with willing acceptance by our import crazy population.

If toothpicks can be on the import list, why not a very powerful and influential television channel like CNN? CNN should be eternally grateful to Nigerian brands. Such brands as the grandmasters of data, GLOBALCOM, owned by the Spirit of Africa, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr, with extraordinary stakes in telecoms, oil and gas, banking and real estates; Zenith Bank; the Dangote Group, with vast interests in cement, commodities, petrochemicals and agriculture; the global bank UBA, whose Chairman, Dr Tony Elumelu is known as the father of emerging African entrepreneurs through a stupendous investment of 100 million US Dollars in charity; First Bank of Nigeria PLC; Access Bank PLC; Diamond Bank PLC; and others have been a handsome financier of CNN Programmes. There is no doubt that Nigerian companies patronise CNN more than others on the continent. I won’t be surprised if other great News Channels are jealous of the good fortunes and the domination of the Nigerian market by CNN.

Richard Quest is therefore a big name and a massive fish in Nigeria’s net. This is obvious in the way and manner members of the Nigerian privilegentsia have been falling over themselves to meet and speak to Richard since he arrived on these shores. And trust Richard to make the best of this unique opportunity. While Richard has attracted a huge attention and publicity to Nigeria, he has also tried to stylishly diss our foibles and egocentricities. The commonest is the lack of regular power supply. I watched him from the rooftops of the Intercontinental hotel and he said the place is powered by five generators. He took us through the popular Marina road on Lagos island where he juxtaposed the paradox of wealth and poverty existing side by side. That is the reality of Nigeria. We are a very special and uncommon people.

Nigeria parades some of the world’s smartest human beings. I’m certain even Richard Quest is amazed at the array and parade of greatness in the personalities that he has met in Nigeria. He must be wondering secretly, in case I missed his confession on the matter, why Nigeria is often led and controlled by the dregs of society and the wretched of the earth. He is likely to marvel at why a country with such a population of incredibly educated, talented and enlightened citizens have remained so pitifully docile and unable to liberate itself from its perpetual servitude. The problem with Nigeria is almost one of a supernatural nature and not easy to analyse and comprehend. Its complexity is such that Nigerians themselves spend ample time and energy debating and bemoaning the excruciating conditions we are forced to live with on daily basis.

Thanks to CNN and Richard Quest, even if some of our big guns paid for it, Nigeria has enjoyed a nice week of celebrating a few of our best and it is not a bad idea at all. But I hope our government would allow us savour this rare moment of giddiness after Richard has come and gone. I will tell you why. Every Nigerian government, since 1999, has made it a pre-occupation to rubbish Nigeria and Nigerians, under the pretext of fighting a phantom war against a nebulous corruption pandemic. Yet nothing major has come out of this grandstanding in nearly twenty years. I believe that corruption is a societal ill that must be tackled not only urgently but seriously. Indeed, it is akin to a cancer which requires surgical excision but that can only occur when the necessary palliative conditions have been put in place.

The way we are fighting this battle is simply not it! I would not be surprised if we wake up next week and the trending news is the over-dramatisation of catching big rats and hauling them into detention with all the cameras, flash bulbs, klieg lights and even flashlights in tow and then the rats just as suddenly disappear to whatever hole they were hibernating in when their sleep was disturbed by the barking dogs. Sadly, we have seen this over and over again. While it is good and desirable to fight this war, it should be done with common sense and practical strategy. How we need to fight the war is to develop structures and systems and not a personalisation of the war on corruption as is being done now. Our obsession with kill-and-go methods has not helped matters. The use of brute force has not been able to change the attitude and body language of our people to corruption. Once upon a time, armed robbers were tied to the stakes and killed by firing squad, it never wiped out the terrible menace. A lot would depend on an overhaul of the system that encourages the acidic corruption.

I shall dwell more on this one of these days because I already worked on a blueprint when I ran the Presidential race in 2011. It is not as tough as it seems. Every act of corruption begins from NEED before it graduates to GREED. If we are able to eliminate the chronic deprivation in our land, we might be able to reduce the proclivity for primitive accumulation. A petty pilferer is most likely to transfigure to a pen robber when the opportunity presents itself.

Our government should therefore fight the wars more carefully. The collateral damage to our country and human psyche has become more expensive and debilitating than the gains. We cannot be inviting public relations experts to our country when we are our own worst PR damagers. We cannot expect the world to fall for our PR stunts when we go to the rooftops to advertise ourselves as a country of rogues and artful dodgers. No nation sells its citizens so cheaply in order to appear as a nation of saints in power. We have said this for years and no one seems to care. Russia should serve as a veritable example to us. Each time its citizens are demonised as fraudsters and murderers, the country stands up stoutly to defend its territorial integrity. No self-respecting nation writes to another nation to ask that its citizens be mercilessly scrutinised because they are all potential fraudsters. It is the height of fool-hardiness and it rubbishes all the efforts of many men and women of integrity and goodwill who have laboured assiduously to portray Nigeria in good light. Indeed our leaders should realise that the generality of our people are honest, upright and well-intentioned.  That is why we have the great outrage that we get from the populace when our security agencies unearth yet another pot of gold! We should not allow the excesses of less than 5,000 people determine and destroy the future of nearly 200 million people.

Richard Quest will act his part and earn his pay but nothing would change unless we change how we trample upon ourselves in the mud.

Is anyone listening please?

A SEASON OF SUDDEN DEATHS

I have been extremely saddened by the sudden deaths of a few friends and brothers. I was yet to fully accept the death of Oladipo Famakinwa when I was totally blown apart by the death of the former Governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. As if that was not bad enough, I received the news that Professor Abraham Babalola Borishade, a distinguished scholar and former Minister had passed on. The deadly blows were just too much to absorb by me but what can I do? God is good and in all things we must give thanks.

I had met and bonded with Dipo when I visited and consulted the famous Pastor Tunde Bakare over my Presidential aspiration in 2011. Dipo had asked very pertinent questions about my plans for Nigeria and we interacted as much as time permitted thereafter. I was quite impressed about his passion for matters affecting the Yoruba race. He soon became a recognised authority on the subject and gave his all to the mission to elevate his people out of socio-political doldrums. Like his friend, Yinka Odumakin, his voice was loud and respected. You can imagine how I felt when this voice was silenced by death. May his soul rest in peace.

Now to my big brother, one of the friendliest human beings I ever met, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the first civilian Governor of Osun State. I landed in Nigeria last Sunday and as soon as I switched on my phone, I received a call from my friend, Mayor Akinpelu and the news he gave me was just too sad! SERUBAWON, as we fondly called Senator Adeleke, had just died. I told him to stop the joke but alas, it was true.

I will always remember Senator Adeleke as someone who gave me an opportunity to work as a consultant on his media coverage around 1992. We worked very closely and he was very accessible. I was very close to members of his family, including Dr Adedeji Adeleke, and in particular, his youngest brother, Dr Ademola Adeleke, who had only a couple of weeks before, in Atlanta, Georgia, enlisted my support for Serubawon’s bid for another term as Governor of Osun State. An astute politician, Senator Adeleke was a very happy and joyous man who welcomed everyone with open arms. May Allah accept his soul.

I met Professor Borisade at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he was a respected lecturer in the Faculty of Technology. Prof. was a good friend and colleague of my elder brother, Professor Oladele Ajayi, a distinguished material scientist in the Department of Physics and we thus had cause to meet occasionally. However, I came to know him more because he was part of a troika that consisted of himself, Professor Sola Ehindero, of the Faculty of Education and Professor Femi Fajewonyomi of the Faculty of Health Sciences.  I was a political protégé of Professor Ehindero and so Professor Borisade and I interacted regularly as a result. He was intelligent and very passionate about Nigeria. I was happy for him when he became a Minister and I believed he tried to serve to the best of his ability. I pray for the sweet repose of his soul.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

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Famine ravage Africa while the world’s media turn blind eye

Major political events in the US and Europe have preoccupied western media over the past year. Chief among these has been Donald Trump’s rise to US president and his continuing efforts to establish a credible domestic and foreign policy agenda.

Famine in Somalia 4

Before that, the inability of the European Union to agree on a plan to host an influx of refugees gained the media’s attention along with the United Kingdom’s referendum on Europe. Now a succession of national elections across Europe – in France, Germany and the UK among others – looks set to dominate front page news.

The western media’s focus on momentous events at home has come at the expense of reporting on events unfolding in the global South. Among the events which have been eclipsed by the media’s preoccupation is the famine that’s unfolding in Africa.

Today the causes of famine are largely man made even though below average rain fall has exacerbated local food production in the Horn of Africa over the past 18 to 24 months. However, in Sudan, Niger, the Central African Republic and Nigeria military conflict over the past three to four years has disrupted food production, displaced millions and created conditions which prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance (assuming it was available).

The situation today is not unlike events that unfolded in Ethiopia in the early 1980s. Western governments then failed to monitor and intervene in time to prevent or mitigate the famine. It took a global media event – in the form of Band Aid and a pop song [Do they know it’s Christmas] – to focus attention on the failure of western governments to respond to the tragedy that was unfolding. Alas humanitarian assistance, when it arrived, was too little too late.

The factors responsible for famine are complex. But, following the work of Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winning economist, they are well known and should be the focus of western development policy and humanitarian assistance. They include poor governance, inadequate planning, limited investment in development, ongoing violence and large scale population displacement. Unfortunately, such factors don’t appear on the agendas of western governments.

At the same time development assistance to Africa has declined since 1990. The continent receives approximately 33% of total Overseas Development Assistance, down from 45% in 1990. And while humanitarian aid has stabilised at 7% to 8 %, funding for economic projects has increased from 17% to 21%.

Even though over the long-term the assistance should, in theory, be declining as the pace of development picks up, the need for humanitarian assistance needs to be constantly assessed so that it can be delivered in time to save lives.

Interests are far more insular

Why has western development policy failed to recognise the signs that a famine has been unfolding in Africa? Why has it failed to provide humanitarian aid in a timely manner?

The answer to these questions is twofold. Firstly western governments have failed to engage in sustained dialogue with African states to discuss the consequences of policies that rely on force, which displace populations and which disrupt markets and set back development.

Secondly it appears that western governments and tax payers are no longer interested in Africa. Their interests are far more insular, a situation reflected in the domestic issues that dominated the US election and the UK Brexit referendum.

The extent of western interest in Africa, indeed with the global South, is focused on securing the flow of oil and other commodities which underpins their consumption. Coupled with this are determined efforts at stopping illegal migrants and refugees from entering the west. This fact is reflected in the $21 billion cost of Trump’s proposed wall between the US and Mexico and the European Union’s €2.5 billion project to bottle up migrants in Africa to prevent them from reaching Europe.

The current cost of humanitarian assistance for Africa pales into insignificance against such sums.

Too little too late

The famine in Africa is occurring on a much larger scale than in 1980 across the Horn of Africa, in the Central African Republic and in Nigeria where an estimated 40 million people are at risk.

Yet humanitarian assistance has come very late. What’s on offer is too little and it will be delivered too late to prevent large scale death. For instance the European Union’s pledge of €760 million to the Horn of Africa was only announced in November 2016 while European states made belated and quite small pledges in February this year. The US, for its part, remains the largest provider of food aid but has yet to state what it will pledge to alleviate famine in Africa.

In 1984 public support for Band Aid provided a much needed kick up the backside to western governments for their failure to respond to the needs of 1 million Ethiopians. It remains to be seen who or what’s going to push the world into action today, for the 40 million Africans who face famine.

White population in extensive control of the South Africa's economy

White population in extensive control of the South Africa’s economy

The role of “white monopoly capital” in post-apartheid South Africa has been in the news lately. In the South African context, it can be understood as the white population’s extensive control over the country’s economy.

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The legacies of clonialism persist with white people still controlling a large chunk of the South African economy. Photo: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

The debate reflects a recanting view against the rainbow nation dream sold when the country gained political freedom 22 years ago. The idea is that white monopoly capital is the source of the problem of multiple failures of the South African political economy.

The response has been a rising chorus of white monopoly capitalism deniers who argue that the governing African National Congress (ANC) is using the concept as a shield against criticism. Instead of addressing its failings such as a faltering economy, widening inequality, unemployment, corruption and incompetence, the argument goes, the ANC is deflecting attention for the country’s difficulties by blaming white monopoly capital.

Some in this camp add that South Africa has recorded significant progress in redistributing the country’s wealth, mainly via the allocation of equity in formerly white companies to black economic empowerment groups. They quote figures that they say reflects rising levels of black ownership on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

But by relying on a single indicator, they ignore other key pointers which are critical to understanding the stranglehold that white capital has over the South African economy. The exclusive focus on the JSE ignores the fact that the stock market is just one of many forms of capital. Others include land – probably one of the most contentious of all forms of capital in South Africa’s history – home ownership and human capital, in the forms of knowledge, skills and education.

A multifaceted enquiry into the state of South African economy that includes all these forms of capital leaves no doubt that white capital continues to dominate the economy.

To reject this reality shows a clear lack of understanding of “capital” and the link between historic and contemporary forms of “capital accumulation”. This is because the historical legacies of colonialism and apartheid – which saw the transfer of a vast amount of the country’s resources into the hands of white European migrants – continue to shape the political, economic and social life of the country.

Persistence of white privilege

Legacies of white privilege still persist. High levels of poverty and rampant unemployment still haunt black communities.

This inequity is also evident in patterns of ownership.

Despite claims to the contrary, a study of black ownership on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange shows clearly that black South Africans remain small time players. According to a recent study, only 23% of the shares traded on the exchange are held – directly and indirectly – by black South Africans.

On top of this, capital, in its varied forms such as the land, property and human capital, remains heavily skewed to white ownership.

The land is particularly important in the South African context as it carries most colonial scars. The country’s colonial and apartheid regime (both white minority) used expropriation to remove people from their land. They then used this stolen land to accumulate capital in the forms of mining and agriculture.

At the time of apartheid in 1994, more than 80% of the land was in the hands of white minority. Data from the Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies suggest that just under 60,000 white-owned farms accounted for about 70% of the total area of the country in early 1990s. Land reforms programme has been slow. Some suggest that less than 10 % of the total land has been redistributed from white to black ownership since 1994.

Another cornerstone of the colonial as well as apartheid designers was to deny all black people access to economic opportunities as well as to limit their scope in both education and jobs.

These developments have had sequential implications and generational effects. The result is that racial inequalities continue to be reproduced.

There are a great many examples that can be cited to show this. For example, white people continue to be more skilled and attain higher education levels than their black counterparts. They are, therefore, more likely to attain higher positions in the labour market and, on average, earn higher wages.

Black South Africans remain heavily under-represented in the skilled jobs market because they are largely unskilled and hence most affected by the country’s high unemployment.

The colonial and apartheid legacy can also be seen in asset ownership. White people own houses, hotels, resorts, shops, restaurants, savings, cash, foreign assets and other forms of complex financial products. They leverage their ownership and control to extract rents and increase their wealth, while majority of the blacks are still poor.

Capital accumulation and wealth creation

The adoption of the market-based reforms in post-apartheid South Africa meant that the already skewed distribution of wealth in the country got worse. Whites continued to reap the rewards of their previous privilege under the new economic system.

There’s no doubt that the country’s new ruling party elite has also benefited from the political system, many through black economic empowerment deals. The alliance between the white monopoly capital and corrupt ANC government afflicts devastating consequence on the poor.

The South African government needs to do more to address widening inequality, rampant unemployment and deliver on the promises of development for all and not just few. It needs to prove its detractors wrong – that it’s pursuit of what it terms “radical economic transformation” fulfils the promise of addressing the country’s skewed economic ownership patterns.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Conversation

OPINION: Why were the Russian anti-missile systems silent during the US strikes in Syria?

Despite manifestations of mutual sympathy, the fallout between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump over the US missile attack in Syria (or any other issue that could have come up), was easily predictable even back in November 2016.

OPINION: Why were the Russian anti-missile systems silent during the US strikes in Syria?
Even though Trump and Putin are engaged in a theatrical standoff, both sides know exactly where the redlines are, writes Ragozin. Photo: AP

A well-choreographed confrontation serves both men better than friendship, because it helps them shift the attention of domestic audiences from their own misgivings and alleged corruption.

That confrontation works as an endless soap opera which rattles the viewers’ nerves by promising an ultimate showdown that never materialises because it would kill the show. Just look at the latest episode in the Russian version of the series.

Gopnik-style statements 

The video of the new Russian envoy to the UN scoffing at his British colleague during a discussion on Syria at the Security Council didn’t make too many headlines in the West, but it went viral in the Russian-language sector of the Internet. Vladimir Safronkov’s remarks were largely lost on the Western audience, because he uttered them in Russian, reading from a piece of paper.

“Look at me, don’t you turn your eyes away,” Safronkov said, using disrespectfully informal “ty” instead of more appropriate “vy” while addressing the British diplomat, Matthew Rycroft. Both forms are translated into English as “you”.

To a Russian speaker, Safronkov sounded unmistakably like a gopnik – a word reserved for semi-criminal lumpen-proletarian, a thug, you may say. In the past 30 years, gopnik jargon, dress style and musical tastes have permeated Russian society – from taxi drivers to top officials. When Putin said, he would “flush terrorists down the toilet” referring to Chechen militants, he sounded like a gopnik, too.

Like other scandalous gopnik-style statements the Russian foreign ministry has developed a taste for in recent years, the whole show at the UN targeted solely the domestic audience. The goal is to make the average Joe identify himself with one of their country’s top diplomats and take pride in him reprimanding foreign foes in the vernacular language he uses to converse with friends and colleagues.

Everything Putin’s government does on the foreign policy front is dictated by the need of a highly corrupt political regime to consolidate majority support and marginalise the opposition, which threatens to go after multibillion assets allegedly accumulated by top officials and their business associates.

Marginalising the opposition

Everything Putin’s government does on the foreign policy front – from intervening in Ukraine and Syria to endorsing Donald Trump in the US election – is dictated by the need of a highly corrupt political regime to consolidate majority support and marginalise the opposition. The latter threatens to go after multibillion-ruble assets allegedly accumulated by top officials and their business associates.

The regime is obsessed with maintaining at least a superficial level of legitimacy, so all of its efforts are aimed at keeping high approval ratings and ensuring convincing results during the elections. Once the perception of legitimacy is shaken, the spectre of Ukrainian-styled revolution becomes all too real.

Putin is facing re-election for his fourth term as president in March 2018. His only viable rival, Alexei Navalny, has challenged him by launching a presidential campaign in December and staging a successful nationwide protest on March 26.

The Kremlin can easily bar Navalny from elections, using his latest conviction as a pretext. Most observers believe that this is what is going to happen anyway. But that decision will greatly reduce the perceived legitimacy of the regime, especially since Navalny was prosecuted for fraud on extremely dubious charges in the past and has already successfully challenged his first conviction in the European Court of Human Rights.

By all means, the presidential administration, now led by former liberal politician Sergey Kiriyenko, is tasked with devising a successful propaganda narrative that will produce a convincing result in March next year.

The Crimea effect

A sharp shift towards ugly and superficial social conservatism and ultra-nationalism allowed Putin to secure a strong majority in the 2012 election and allowed his approval rating to soar as high as 89 percent after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. But what pollsters call “the Crimea effect” is starting to evaporate.

A recent poll conducted by the Levada Centre showed that 38 percent supportednationwide anti-corruption protests staged by Navalny in March.

The Kremlin is surely still toying with various possibilities, but its election strategy is starting to take shape.

Firstly, it is trying to snatch away Navalny’s successful anti-corruption agenda – two regional governors have been arrested in recent weeks on graft charges. It is not inconceivable that Putin might even sacrifice his long-time ally, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who became the target of Navalny’s latest investigation. His film about Medvedev now has almost 19 million views on YouTube.

But it is also clear that the Kremlin believes that the Crimea consolidation effect will still work its magic, for at least a part of the population, in 2018. Last week, the Russian State Duma suddenly scheduled the presidential election for March 18, the day Russia officially incorporated Crimea in 2014.

The need for a hostile America

One absolutely essential element in the Crimean consolidation narrative is hostile America. The message Russian propaganda has successfully conveyed for the past three years is that it was the US that plotted and funded the Ukrainian Maidan revolution. Following logic, it was Russia’s noble duty to intervene and protect those in Ukraine who stood against the aggressive West and its local “nationalist puppets”, who – Russian TV alleged – strove to erase the identity of Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

It is simply impossible to sell the already not-so-fresh product of patriotic consolidation in a situation where your arch-enemy is suddenly your friend. So a shift to confrontation mode has been inevitable. Similarly, for Trump, it was crucial to derail criticism on account of his staff’s alleged collusion with Russia. Many of his supporters were quick to say: See, he is not a Russian stooge.

But even though they are engaged in this theatrical standoff, both sides know exactly where the redlines are. This is why Russian anti-missile systems, provided to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, were conspicuously inactive during the US strikes on al-Shayrat airfield in Syria.

And this is why Trump is extremely unlikely to go after the foreign assets, which – as Russian opposition alleges – members of the Russian regime have amassed during the 17 years of Putin’s rule. If he does, the cozy symbiosis between the two frenemies will end and the showdown will be for real.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Al Jazeera

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky

In the dusty, baking emptiness of Leer in South Sudan, bags of British food aid fall from the sky to relieve the hunger below.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Planes drop aid sacks into famine-hit areas of South Sudan. Photo: ROBERT OXLEY/ DFID

It is here in the north of the country that the United Nations has declared a famine. It is here that the fighting between government and rebel forces has driven so many into hunger and homelessness. And it is here that UK aid is being carefully targeted from the air.

To watch these bags of cereal and pulses and food substitutes pour from the bellies of ageing Russian transport planes that have been hired by the aid agencies is to witness an absolute good. For without it, more people in this war-ravaged, hunger-stricken country in central Africa would starve to death.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Hungry South Sudanese eat leaves and seeds to survive as famine bites harder, Photo: iBasam

I watched the Ilyushin planes lumber slowly into view alongside Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, who had travelled many hours to see what impact the money she had authorised was having on the ground.

Despite the controversy over her £13bn aid budget, Ms Patel insisted that Britain’s humanitarian spending gave it influence in the world.

First the planes practise a low pass over the drop zone, marked by a large white cross. They make another wide circuit to let nearby villages know an aid delivery is on its way. And then, at around 300 metres above the ground, they begin to drop their cargoes.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Any food drop in a government-held area has to be matched by one in territory held by the rebels

Each plane can carry about 30 metric tonnes of aid, about 600 sacks. They make three passes, dropping 200 sacks each time. These are not parachute-born crates, just individual bags hurtling towards the ground. Like some dreadful game of pass-the-parcel, each sack is bagged seven times to stop it exploding on impact.

To watch this, to see the gleam of hope in the eyes of those waiting below, is a moving experience. For many of them, without this aid, they would be forced to live off what nuts, leaves and water lilies they can forage, none of which provides adequate nutrition.

“UK aid is providing a much-needed lifeline to people who have been persecuted, driven off their homes, forced to flee,” Ms Patel told me. “The aid that we are providing right now is the difference between life and death.”

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Children cross a body of water to register for a UN food distribution program in Thonyor

Yet the problem is this. Each plane contains food enough for only 2,000 people a month. The cost of the planes is astronomic and there are only seven in the region that the World Food Programme can operate.

There is a scarcity of available food aid because there are so many other droughts in the region. Each drop has to be negotiated with local community leaders and armed groups, whose permission is needed to ensure that any fighting is put on hold. The hungry will come only if they feel safe.

The distribution centre on the ground – a temporary, pop-up affair – can exist only for a few days before the security risks become again too great.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Children in South Sudan are suffering from acute malnutrition

Any food drop in a government-held area has to be matched by one in territory held by the rebels. The amount of aid has to be roughly equal in size to avoid accusations that the aid agencies are taking sides.

In other words, this aid that falls from the sky may help people who are the hardest to reach in a severe humanitarian crisis. But it is expensive, complicated and, as aid workers repeatedly told me, not nearly enough.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
Women carry food in gunny bags after visiting an aid distribution centre in Ngop in South Sudan’s Unity State on March 10, 2017.

There are three road corridors into South Sudan along which aid can travel by truck. And this can be more efficient. One truck alone can carry as much as a Russian transport plane.

Yet trucks have deal with checkpoints, fighting and simple banditry. And soon they will lose the roads when the rains come and render much of the country impassable. So there is, aid workers say, a race against time to build up aid dumps before the weather closes in.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel inspects aid sacks that have been dropped by plane. Photo: ROBERT OXLEY/DFID

Such is the reality of delivering British and other aid in the north. To the south, in the capital, Juba, the UK is funding much of South Sudan’s only children’s hospital – its medicines, its water tanks, its solar panels. Here doctors are seeing rising numbers of children with acute malnutrition. And inevitably they need more resources, above all more space.

On the day we visited, in one ward alone, there were 43 children sharing 21 beds. I spoke to Rhoda, a 50-year-old woman who had brought in her granddaughter 10 days previously. Cecilia, only 18 months old, arrived severely malnourished. Her mother had died and Rhoda had no milk to feed her. But, she told me, Cecilia’s fever and diarrhoea had abated after a few days of milk and porridge.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky

Further south, the problem is one of refugees. More than a million South Sudanese have fled the country to escape the fighting. We travelled to northern Uganda where on average 2,000 people are pouring over the border each day. Last week there was one 24-hour period when no fewer than 7,000 refugees came across.

Uganda – unusually – welcomes refugees and gives them a plot of land with shelter and access to services. Here millions of pounds of UK aid is being spent to provide some of the basic infrastructure. Yet here again the scale of the crisis outweighs the humanitarian response. Last August there was next to nothing at the main refugee settlement at Bidibidi. Now, it is the largest such settlement in the world, home to more than 270,000 people.

South Sudan famine: Only hope is the lifeline sent by the UK from the sky
South Sudan Declares Famine As Thousands Face Starvation

Clearly, the scale of the humanitarian challenge is huge and growing. But the aid agencies report that the United Nation emergency response for South Sudan is hugely underfunded, with some international donors showing reluctance to stump up the cash. So this is a crisis that many expect to get worse before it gets better.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/BBC/iBasam/BuzFeed

My Stand On Nnamdi Kanu And Biafra, By Charly Boy

OPINION: My stand on Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra – Charly Boy

I am aware that my recent picture with Nnamdi Kanu at Federal High Court, Abuja, has generated a lot of reactions and comments; some witty, others dim-witted, not that I blame them though.

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I am also aware that the picture has encouraged a vast number of people to take a decisive position on whether or not Biafra is the right cause. Even more, I am aware that the picture has left many people confused and skeptical of reports that I am now supporting Biafra. Na wa

I would like to say for the umpteenth time, that, I am Not in support and will never be in support of a country to be called Biafra. However, I am a Biafran in my heart, period.

My reason, however, for visiting Nnamdi Kanu in court, was to make my discontent and disillusionment on his prolonged incarceration known to the federal government who have kept him behind bars for too long. If the government have issues with Nnamdi Kanu, let them charge him to court and let the rule of law decide. For whatsoever reason, no man deserves to be ill-treated in his fatherland as Nnamdi Kanu is being treated. Hence, the need for my interference in the ever-growing call for his release.

I stand for equal rights and justice, period. Advocating for the Okada community does not make me an Okada rider. Advocating for gay rights does not make me a gay person. So, asking for Nnamdi’s release does not make me a Biafran supporter. Lai Lai!

Sometime in January 2017, I wrote about my thoughts on the Biafra agitation and how I do not consider it a feasible adventure especially when there are so many important things my Ibo kindred can alternatively dedicate their all to. I titled the article “The illusion called Biafra”, those who haven’t read it should read it up because what I wrote therein will always be my stance on Biafra.

Back then, I had written that the dreams of nationhood are lost on the altar of deception, and my Ibo people must be circumspect of this fact and not be hoodwinked into some insane propaganda that will only lead to more wahala. So, instead of Biafra, we should channel our energies and abilities towards developing the South-East to become the economic hub of Nigeria.

The fight for Nationalists who will drive the discourse and the engagement necessary in answering the Nigeria National questions must not be bugged down by petty sentiments and tribal colourations. Abi… Didn’t the fall of Biafra after the genocide, starvation, and immense suffering of my people teach us anything?

My Stand On Nnamdi Kanu And Biafra, By Charly Boy
Charly Boy

I Believe the Failure of the Igbo nation is the fault of the people, her elites and decision-makers. Why have we not poured our energy, capacity and ability into making the South East the Dubai of the Nation as well as the engine room of the Nigerian Economy? Who would be our leaders when the south east is infested with political power-grabbers, 419ers, mindless criminals and looters of our commonwealth and resources? Need I mention names?

Our problem is the lack of men of integrity and a progressive mind set. We lack the right kind of leadership that will fight for the interest of the People. Let it be clear to all that the sufferings and malfeasances of the People from the South East is also the sufferings and malfeasances of the peoples from the other geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Even the nascent anti-corruption fight in the country has seen all tribe accordingly represented. It is therefore retrospectively insane to begin to think that a people with a problem would suddenly be relieved when they are attached with a tag #BIAFRA; Abegi.

Therefore, I conclusively insist that Our Mumu Don Do because; The Failure of Leadership is evident in our agitation for Fairness, Justice and Equality for every Nigerian not just for every Igbo man. And so the Mind of the typical Igbo Leader Needs a Revolution so that it can be realigned for the Interest of the People rather than the interest of a few.

Comrades, Let’s focus on our homeland, Naija and begin to demand accountability and responsibility from many of our Scammers, Riffraffs and Fraudsters in the entire nation.

Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state was quoted last week as saying that Nigeria cannot break up because members of the elite are united in preserving their advantages over the masses irrespective of their differences of tribe and religion. Straight from the horse’s mouth! A candid admission that, it is the elites who run Nigeria’s affairs that has kept “the common man” squalid, wretched and “in hell” despite the nation’s enormous oil wealth.

We see the ruling elite quarreling and calling each other bad names—but it’s just a game intended to fool the public: in reality, they are quite united in quietly sharing the money and delivering little or nothing to their various constituencies. They have a stake in keeping the country exactly as it is—weak and confused and easy to exploit.

Again and again, I dare to ask that we pause on the fantasy tagged Biafra for now. Let us dutifully work ourselves back into reckoning, by Fighting for Fairness, Justice and Equality for all Nigerians; Not Igbos Only; Yorubas Only or Hausas Only but all Nigerians.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

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Survey explains who marched against President Zuma and why

South Africa has long been described as the “protest capital of the world”. But the protests have largely been confined to black townships and informal settlements.

Survey explains on who marched against President Zuma and why

The student protests of 2015-2016 suggested that this was beginning to change, with students of all races marching to places such as the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) headquarters Luthuli House, Parliament and Union Buildings. But the most recent marches were the first time in post-apartheid South Africa that such a united force was seen against a president and the governing party – the ANC.

This followed growing discontent towards President Jacob Zuma and the ANC that was reflected in the loss of support in the 2016 local government elections. The outcry following Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle, widely seen as being influenced by the interests of the Gupta family, culminated in nationwide protests on 7 April 2017.

Thousands of people marched across the country, notably in Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, demanding that Zuma resign. These were followed by a march of the combined main opposition parties on Wednesday 12 April to the seat of government in Pretoria that attracted tens of thousands of protesters, making it possibly the largest march in post-apartheid history.

What might these marches tell us about the future direction of South Africa’s political landscape?

The 7 April march was largely organised under the banner of the Save South Africa campaign, which is made up of a variety of civil society organisations and business leaders. The predominately middle class makeup of the campaign was widely debated online. But who did attend and why? Was this a rebellion of the white middle class?

A research team from the University of Johannesburg decided to find out by conducting a short survey with 185 marchers. While a small sample, the research team felt that provided a fairly accurate sample and an indicative sense of who was involved and why.

Our findings were that the majority of those who marched were middle-class and mostly black. Most said they were there to protest against Zuma.

Who marched?

Of the 185 people surveyed, 56% were black African and 30% were white. The marchers were predominately middle class. Of those surveyed, 58% held what could be considered middle class occupations – either professional or managerial, technician and associated professions or clerks. Only 10% could be regarded as holding traditionally working class occupations – either skilled manual labour or trades work, domestic work or elementary. 13% were self-employed.

The middle class nature of the protest is reinforced when looking at the marchers’ place of residence and mode of transport to the march. Most of the marchers surveyed lived in a suburb (74%) and nearly half (42%) used a private car to travel to the march. The average age of the marcher surveyed was 41, again suggesting that the marchers were likely to be people somewhat established in their careers. Just under two thirds (61%) were men.

Why did people march?

The reasons that people gave for marching can be categorised into one of five themes: anti-Zuma, change, social justice, the economy and/or corruption and other. The anti-Zuma theme was the most popular, with 41% of marchers surveyed providing this as their reason for attending.

Survey explains on who marched against President Zuma and why
Protesters in Cape Town call on President Zuma to step down. Reuters/Sumaya Hisham

But identifying as anti-Zuma should not be equated with being anti-ANC. A number of respondents made clear that their opposition was to Zuma and not to the ANC. For instance, a retired 58 year old white man from Centurion said that he was at the march

to support all South Africans to get rid of the Zuptas (Zuma and the Guptas), not the ANC.

While a black African self-employed 42-year old women from Benoni said

Zuma must go! Leadership is not for the people… I’m an ANC person but we want our old ANC back.

Nearly half (48%) of black Africans responded with anti-Zuma sentiments. For white respondents, this was the second most common response, 26%. The second most common theme overall, and the most common theme for white respondents, was social justice. This encompassed a broad range of perspectives. For instance, one white 48-year-old housewife from Centurion said

tax money … is not being used to help the poor. Zuma misuses our money, the poor get poorer. Struggle people didn’t die for this!

Other respondents displayed their concern for social justice around a rights-based discourse. One 22-year-old black African student from the Pretoria suburb of Faerie Glen said he was at the march “in defence of the constitution”. While others framed their reason for being at the march around the future of their children.

The third most common theme was concerns for the economy and or corruption. For instance, a black 33-year-old operations manager from Randburg said,

My mom is a government employee – her pension fund will be looted and it’s not their money. Zero leadership in this country. State is corrupt. Junk status.

Women were slightly more likely than men to raise issues of the economy and or corruption. Lastly, need for change accounted for 11% of respondents. No significant difference in the reasons for marching by class could be determined, partly because the sample of working class people was too small to draw any conclusions.

Future prospects

Most of the respondents surveyed were not part of any political grouping, with most (57%) reporting that they had attended the march with family or friends, and nearly a quarter (23%) saying they had come alone. Time will tell whether this loose network of people will be able to build and sustain a collective movement. As other commentators have highlighted, a movement that centres on removing Zuma alone is unlikely to bring the socio-economic change demanded by poor and working class protesters almost daily in the country’s mainly black townships and informal settlements. Can concerns for the pensions of government employees be united with demands for service delivery from those very same government employees? It remains to be seen.


Molefe Pilane, an independent researcher and Linah Nkuna, a Lecturer in Communication Science at the University of South Africa and a PhD student at the University of Johannesburg, contributed to the survey.

How African governments are use advertising as a weapon against press freedom

How African governments are using advertising to fight against press freedom

National governments remain the single largest source of revenue for news organisations in Africa. In Rwanda, for example, a staggering 85-90% of advertising revenue comes from the public sector.

How African governments are use advertising as a weapon against press freedom
Starving news media of revenue is a means of indirect state control. Photo: Shutterstock

In Kenya, it’s estimated that 30% of newspaper revenue comes from government advertising. In 2013, the government spent Ksh40 million in two weeks just to publish congratulatory messages for the new President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But with a general election coming up this year in August, the Kenyan government has decided to stop advertising in local commercial media.

In a memo, reportedly sent to all government accounting officers, the directive was given that state departments and agencies would only advertise in My.Gova government newspaper and online portal.

Electronic advertising would only be aired on the state broadcaster – the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.

It’s difficult not to characterise the withdrawal of state advertising from commercial media as punitive. Without this revenue stream newspapers are likely to fold.

Worse still, efforts to withdraw government advertising from commercial media can be interpreted as a worrying way to undermine the freedom of expression.

Starving news media of revenue is a means of indirect state control. This has been the case in countries such as Serbia, Hungary, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.

But to fully understand the link between government spend on advertising and media freedom it’s important to take a historical perspective.

How did we get here?

The 1990s saw the adoption of multi-party politics in many African countries. This led to relatively liberal constitutions in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana among others.

Since then, most African governments have grown anxious about their inability to control the local news agenda, much less articulate government policy.

For governments in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more recently Tanzania, controlling the news agenda is seen as a means to stay in power. Views that compete with the state position are often cast as legitimising the opposition agenda.

This is part of a much broader strategy for political control which Africanist historians and political scientists have called the “ideology of order”. This is based on the premise that dissent is a threat to nationbuilding and must therefore be diminished.

The narrative was popularised by most post-independence African governments and emphasized through incessant calls for what they liked to call “unity”.

In Kenya, former president Daniel Moi even coined his own political philosophy of “peace, love and unity”. Citizens were expected to accept this narrative unequivocally. Dissenting views were undermined through state-controlled media such as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and newspapers such as the Kenya Times.

From the 1960s – 1980s, African governments conveniently used the nation-building argument to suppress legitimate dissent. Opposition was punished by imprisonment, forced exile and even death. This was common practice in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and in West Africa more generally.

The current political climate on the continent is premised on constitutional safeguards including the protection of free speech which make these kinds of punishments unlikely in the present day.

Many countries now have institutional safeguards including fairly robust judicial systems capable of withstanding the tyranny of naked state repression.

As a result, the media is controlled in subtler ways and its violence is softer. It’s against this background that I interpret the withdrawal of government adverts from the commercial media in Kenya.

Controlling media budgets

In Kenya, the decision followed a special cabinet meeting which agreed that a new newspaper would be launched to articulate the government agenda more accurately.

The government also argued that the move was part of an initiative to curb runaway spending by lowering advert spend in Kenya’s mainstream media and directing all the money to the new title.

A similar move was made in South Africa last year when the government’s communications arm announced that it would scale down government advertising in local commercial media.

Instead, advertisements would be carried in the government newspaper Vuk’uzenzele. The decision withdrew an estimated $30 million from the country’s commercial newspaper industry.

The South African government also claimed that the move was made to reduce government spending. But critics have argued that the decision was made to punish a media outlet that’s been particularly critical of President Jacob Zuma’s presidency.

In both countries the decisions have hit at a particularly hard time for the media industry, providing governments with the perfect tool with which to control the press.

Will a free press survive

Commercial news media is going through a period of unprecedented crisis. The old business models are unable to sustain media operations as audiences adopt new ways of consuming news.

More than that, mass audiences are growing ever smaller. Newspapers particularly haven’t been able to adapt to the changing profile of the old versus the new newspaper reader.

The effect has been that newspapers are no longer as attractive to advertisers. As such, they have to rely a lot more on state money and patronage for survival.

To sidestep state control commercial media in Africa must rethink their business models and diversify their revenue streams.

It won’t be an easy road but non-state media must also work hard to disrupt this re-emerging narrative of “order”. Nation states cannot revert to the dark days when government policy was singular and alternative viewpoints were silenced or delegitimised.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Conversation

OPINION: Our moments of angst By Sufuyan Ojeifo

Our nation is now a big theatre where farcical actions and events take place at a pulsating pace. And keeping up with the tempo of the outlandish dramas that have grotesquely assailed our sensibilities has not been easy. The totality of the bizarre storyline centers on the recoveries by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of monies believed to be part of our looted commonwealth by some former and, possibly, serving government officials.  

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The EFCC has, in dramatic fashions, been recovering huge sums of monies from unusual places, far away from the strong rooms or vaults of banking institutions, purportedly on the prompting of some whistle blowers.  So dramatic have the locations – airport, market isolated air-conditioned bungalow – and the magnitudes of the discoveries been that they have elicited equally dramatic reactions from different quarters.

The latest discovery of $43.4 million, N23.3 million and 27,800 pounds in a flat at the Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos, has unarguably been the biggest of such discoveries by the EFCC. How so much money could be kept outside the banking system and in a flat whose ownership has generated controversy speaks to the extreme degeneracy that has afflicted us as a nation.

One had thought that, by now, having had the grace to recover from the shock find and to realize that we were not dreaming after all, the federal government should have quickly cleared the mystery surrounding the ownership of the money through the instrumentality and superintendence of the superior intelligence of its security and investigative agencies.

Indeed, it was enough that the sheer magnitude of the discovery almost benumbed our sense of sanity and questioned our humanism; but to now attempt to throw mindless shenanigans into the mix in order to shield the real owner(s) of the monies in question is to portray Nigerians as fools. Even if we do not know how our commonwealth is being managed, at least, we should be fully briefed about this glaring and unconscionable diversion of huge public fund hidden in the Osborne Towers flat.

The undisguised attempts by the federal government and its agencies, particularly the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to befuddle the Nigerian people over the ownership of the money should be condemned and rejected by well-meaning Nigerians and the international community.  NIA has claimed ownership of the money.   But Nigerians have justifiably doubted the agency’s claim.

It is just not enough to put up such claim.  There must be incontrovertible evidence to prove it; otherwise, the NIA would be deemed to be playing a fast one, in the circumstance, for reasons best known to it.  Some people have even insinuated that the NIA might have resorted to this fatal gambit in order to shield the real owner(s) of the monies.

And Nigerians are reasonably anguished.  They are aware that, more than ever, they are being taken for granted by a government which is a custodian of their sacred mandate. Governance is no longer about the people, but about the few privileged elite who have taken advantage of public office to plunder our commonwealth.  The owner(s) of the monies is (are) believed to enjoy the sympathy and, possibly, the protection of government.

The NIA claim of ownership is finding it difficult to fly.  Or, is the NIA trying to appropriate the monies in the hope that nobody would be courageous enough to come forward to claim ownership? Or, is it acting to protect the real owner(s) for some pecuniary interests? Sincerely, I am not taken in by the NIA claim.  The agency has a well-fortified office in Abuja to warehouse its funds for covert operations.

It thus beggars belief that the agency would choose to use an unguarded flat as a safe house for such a humongous amount.  Nigerians have asked good questions since the bizarre discovery was made: who is or are the owner(s) of the flat?  That can be ascertained.  If the owner(s) of the flat leased it out, then to whom did the owner(s) lease it?  That also can be verified.  The relevant investigative agencies can follow the trail.  In between the leaser(s) and the lessee(s), the mystery over ownership can be unraveled.

Dramatically, the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, has come out to say that the money belongs to Rivers state.  The plank on which he has grounded his claim is understandable.  Amid the controversy over the ownership of the flat where the monies were found, a series of speculative claims have been made, which linked some individuals with the flat.  Former governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi, who is the incumbent minister of transportation, was one of those who have suffered the misfortune of being mentioned.  He has denied ownership of the flat.

The latest media reports, as of press time, were tending in the direction of the existence of some documents -deed of assignment, et al – that point in the direction of NIA ownership.  Still speculative as the reports might be, I just hope it is not an attempt to perfect the agency’s gambit to appropriate the monies, the existence of which it did not deem fit, before the discovery, to brief either President Muhammadu Buhari or the National Security Adviser (NSA) about.  Why was it after the EFCC discovery that the NIA DG was moving round to brief those he should have briefed before the bust?

Indeed, the entire development has been deliberately made convoluted; and, an otherwise simple matter of pointing a finger of guilt to the culprit of the flat 7b Osborne Towers humongous cashgate, has been made much more complicated by the insincerity of government and some of its agencies. This is very depressing.  President Buhari should feel very embarrassed that this is happening under his watch.   Instead of seizing the big stage to flog the issue expeditiously, his government is dancing round the issue, perhaps, to protect some person(s).

If the government is thus indicted, then its chicanery will not only blow up in its face, it will also make nonsense of its much-trumpeted anti-corruption crusade.  Nigerians who voted for the administration on the platform of its potential capacity to fight corruption to the finish can as well begin to sing the administration’s Nunc Dimittis.  Sadly, Nigeria’s international image will suffer a further collateral damage on account of this shocking infamy.

However, I must commend the EFCC – whether it is seeking to impress the president or Nigerians – for the bust and its decision to go to a Federal High Court in Lagos to secure an order for temporary forfeiture of the monies to the federal government.  This is salutary in that the court had given enough time for the owner(s) of the money to file an affidavit or a counter affidavit as the case maybe to prove claim of ownership.

The federal government must suspend any other action(s) that may be prejudicial to the court action.  Whoever is claiming ownership of the monies should go to court to join issues with the EFCC on May 5; otherwise, the court should proceed to give an order for permanent forfeiture of the monies to the federal government.

And, once that is done, it should settle the matter conclusively.  Our angst as a nation would be assuaged if the monies are judiciously and transparently used for programmes, projects and polices that will promote the welfare of the citizenry; otherwise, it will turn out a much monumental tragedy if the monies are re-diverted into the pockets of some smarter public officials, who will, eventually, scornfully laugh at us.  That is the real concern.


Sufuyan Ojeifo is an Abuja-based journalist and publisher. You can contact him at viaojwonderngr@yahoo.com.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

We’re ready to trade your news for our money: submit news and photo reports from your area using our Report app. We are also available on WhatsApp +2349086050708

After supporting Morocco’s membership, Nigeria is considering to leave ECOWAS

The economic community for West African states- ECOWAS came into existence in 1975, with the idea of bringing together all the states in the West African sub-region together in cooperation, self defense and share common socio-economic cum political advantages.

Nigeria 2

The aim of the regional economic grouping among others is to promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) The ETLS was to establish a free trade area where enterprises of Member States may move goods within the ECOWAS bloc without paying duties and levies but today, one of Africa’s strongest regional body that attracted application from Northern Morocco to be admitted is facing its biggest threat.

Since last year, the Nigeria Senate had urged the Nigeria Federal Government (FG) to suspend, the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and ECOWAS Common External Tariffs (CET) that Nigeria entered into in year 2000 similarly to the BREXIT struck by the United kingdom with European Union.

However the Economic Commission of West African States, ECOWAS, had said Nigeria is a major beneficiary of ECOWAS Trade Liberisation Scheme, ETLS, stressing that it controlled more than 40 percent of trade in the region and Nigerian businesses and products remain the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme.

But the Nigerian legislature is accusing the scheme of “abuse of customs’ tariff and indiscriminate issuance of fiscal policies. A Nigeria Senator Hope Uzodinma, had also maintained that the country needs to protect her national interest. A Senate committee had blamed the exit of companies like Michelin, Cadbury, UAC and others from the country on the ECOWAS protocols.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders however refuted the claim. They added that the overriding factor for their exit was lack of electricity to run their high capacity equipment.

The lawmaker also blamed the infiltration of foreign rice into the country through the borders on the instrument, but again stakeholders were quick to slam that and instead blamed same on the lack of capacity by the Nigerian Customs Services which is saddled with the responsibility of checking what comes into the country.

The former Head of State of Republic of Niger, and president of the task force on ETLS, General Salou Djibo, said the seven-member task force for the instruments drawn from Nigeria and other member states, would monitor the effectiveness of the protocol, adding that it would also be on a fact finding mission, as well as, go all out to step up advocacy.

What will happen if the Senate committee should have their way?

Although there are bottlenecks around the ETLS which have made the scheme unpopular and largely unknown. Rising from a workshop organized by Deloitte and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) recently, Some of the bottlenecks which businesses have faced whilst implementing the scheme where highlighted and includes:

long delays in obtaining a Certificate of Origin (CoO) from the National Approval Committee upon submission of an application; refusal by customs agencies of some Member States to honor valid CoOs; where valid CoOs are honored, delays by the customs agencies of Member States in facilitating the clearance and transit of goods to the next border crossing; customs agencies of some Member States validating CoOs at a national level instead of vide the EC who would be able to confirm legitimate CoOs.

But If the Nigerian Senate should come through with this, Nigeria’s largest companies and Banks could face major losses are they are currently exporting – duty and quota free, locally manufactured products to over 350 million people within the ECOWAS bloc.

Nigerian companies which could be severely affected due to their presence in almost all west African countries, include Globacom, Dangote Group, Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Diamond Bank, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, among others.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Nerve Africa

OPINION: No Madam, please let’s not go there - Alex Otti

OPINION: No Madam, please let’s not go there – Alex Otti

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.” ― Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813)

OPINION: No Madam, please let’s not go there - Alex Otti
Alex Otti

The concept of democracy is hinged on two fundamental principles. These are first, separation of powers and second checks and balances. Separation of powers requires that each organ of government is independent of the rest, to avoid abuse of power. The doctrine of checks and balances, on the other hand, makes it possible for each arm of government to limit the powers of others to ensure against excessive power appropriation. A classic example is that while the executive branch of government can veto bills from the legislature, the legislature can also override the veto, subject to laid down rules. Over time, as democracy continued to take root, countries started granting some form of independence to other important agencies of government. These include the military, the press and the Central Bank also known as the reserve bank in some climes. Despite the independence of these agencies, there is still some influence exerted on them by the government. Narrowing down to the Central Bank, it is reasoned that the autonomy of the institution is critical to insulate the lender of last resort from interference from politicians whose interests are normally short-term in nature. While politicians may want to pursue populist agenda to win votes, an independent Central Bank should be more interested in pursuing policies that may not be popular but would lead to long- term stability of the economy. Thus, a political party may want to pursue a fiscal deficit policy to put more money in the system and make people happy, but a professionally-run Central Bank with eyes on the inflationary implications of fiscal deficit, would roll out a contractionary monetary policy to contain inflation and stabilize the economy.

The major mandates of the Central Bank include:

Managing the nation’s currency

Managing money supplies

Managing interest rates

Setting cash reserve requirements

Acting as lender of last resort.

Supervision of the banking system

Ensuring financial systems stability.

Recently, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, was quoted to have asked a legislative team that paid her a visit, to consider cutting down the “monstrous” powers of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. According to the report, she had said that it was the erstwhile Governor of Central Bank, Professor Chukwuma Soludo that had gone to the National Assembly in 2007 to seek and obtain legislative approval that resulted in the overbearing powers of the Governor of Central Bank.

While one sympathizes with the Honourable Minister, it is instructive to avoid the kind of situation highlighted above by Professor Alex Tytler who paints a very worrisome picture. Though some commentators have described it as being “hyperbolic” the import of his assertion cannot be lost on any student of history. The fiscal deficit has been the bane of most governments and when it is not controlled, the tendency for the economy to be plunged into a crisis is almost axiomatic. Beyond the certainty of inflation, is the burden of debt service on the economy. A cursory look at our economy shows that beyond the 18% inflation rate in the last few quarters, a whopping 35% of our revenue budget goes into debt service. This is a huge number as it leaves the country with just 65% of the budget to work with. If you consider that a large part of the remaining 65% goes into salaries, then you will agree that what is left for infrastructure is infinitesimal and this is in spite of huge infrastructure deficit facing the nation. Now, if we go ahead with the proposed $30billion loan, (I hope we don’t, anyway), we don’t need a soothsayer to tell us that virtually all our revenue would go into debt servicing.

I am aware that sometime in September last year, the Honourable Minister had advised the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBN to consider reducing interest rates by lowering the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) from the present 14% to encourage investment and reflate the economy. Recall that in the MPC meeting of July 2016, the committee had raised MPR from 12% to 14%, a decision many analysts disagreed with, given that the economy had just been pronounced as being technically in recession. However, members of the MPC in a unanimous vote on Tuesday September 20 retained MPR at 14%. The minister was not alone in the disappointment of the MPC’s decision as yours truly, shares the minister’s view that in a period of recession, interest rates should be lowered to encourage consumption. The MPC had its own arguments which included that given the level of inflation at almost 18%, lower rates would lead to negative real interest rates and is capable of discouraging savings and investments, both local and foreign. MPC also contended that lowering interest rates would encourage speculators to borrow and launch further attacks on foreign exchange which was rising very rapidly against the Naira. I have checked the literature and I am unable to lay my hands on other areas of sharp divergence between the CBN and the ministry, even though I concede that there may be other issues that may not be in the public domain. It is, however, curious that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance is a member of the MPC. At least one should have expected one descent at that meeting in question, but the vote was unanimous. My understanding is that this is a useful platform to attain monetary and fiscal policy harmony.

It is important to note that this is not the first time an attempt is being made to whittle down the powers of the CBN Governor. Under Soludo, in 2007, against the understanding of the independence of the CBN, the Presidency, directly intervened by stopping the redenomination of the Naira, full current account liberalization and currency convertibility policies that the then Governor was set to implement. President Yaradua was said not to have been properly briefed and therefore not convinced. The CBN had briefed the Presidency just a day before the public announcement as it believed it did not require the President’s approval as per the CBN Act 2007. Of course, that was the end of those policies.

Under Sanusi, legislators championed the CBN amendment Act 2012 that sought to bring the annual budget of the CBN under the approval authority of the Senate. This generated a lot of opposition from the polity leading to strong representations at the public hearing. If I remember correctly, the amendment was stillborn. National Assembly proponents of the amendment were irked by a statement made by Sanusi to the effect that the National Assembly was responsible for 25% of the recurrent expenditure of the Federal government. Senators descended heavily on him summoning him to come and not only withdraw the statement but apologize. Sanusi stood his grounds and refused to apologize. The battle line was drawn and in what looked like a vendetta mission, the Senators went after the CBN act to cut Sanusi’s powers. He was also accused of bailing out 9 banks in 2009 with some N620b ($4.2b) without appropriation by the National Assembly. CBN explained that the funds didn’t need to be appropriated as they were loans to the banks in the discharge of its role as lender of last resort. The CBN was further accused of issuing some N5.6trillion ($36.6b) government backed zero coupon bonds to purchase toxic assets and recapitalize some ailing banks between 2010 and 2011. All these are now history, Sanusi has since moved on to become the Emir of Kano but the institution remains. This points to the truism in the local proverb of “soldier come, soldier go, but barrack remains”. It also speaks to the fact that rules should neither be made nor changed because of disagreements with incumbent occupants of an office as those occupants will leave sooner or later.

A cursory look at the CBN Act 2007 shows that the activities of the CBN are supposed to be regulated and directed by a board of directors like every other institution. The board is made up of the Governor who is also the Chairman, 4 Deputy Governors, Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Finance, 5 Directors appointed by the President, and the Accountant General of the Federation. In practice, external board members are in the majority making it difficult for the internal members to have their way without the consent of the external members, most of them appointed by the President. I believe that this is a great governance standard adopted by the act. Unfortunately, since the advent of the present administration, the board of CBN has not been constituted and therefore, the control envisaged by the Act has been put in abeyance.

While all the aforementioned roles are important, monetary policy seems to be one of the most important. Simply put, monetary policy refers to the process by which the central bank controls the supply of money in a bid to contain inflation rate or interest rate to ensure price stability and confidence in the local currency. On the other hand, fiscal policy deals with taxation, government spending, and government borrowing. Fiscal policy is usually under the control of the Ministry of Finance. Under normal circumstances, there is a need for complementarity between the two policies. In practice, however, both of them work at cross-purposes with each other, particularly, when the two institutions have different targets. Best practices require that the roles are entrusted in different hands without one reporting to the other. It must be noted though, that both the Minister of Finance and the CBN Governor report to the President and both serve at his pleasure, even though for a CBN governor to be relieved of his position before the expiration of his tenure, the President would need to secure the nod of the National Assembly with two-thirds majority vote. We are, however, aware that President Jonathan found a way around the National Assembly vote when he decided to remove Sanusi in 2014.

It is only in Zimbabwe out of all the countries I researched that the Central Bank is not independent. Given the experiences of that country, I am not sure there is anything to learn from it. Foreign investors and the international community look out for how independent the Central Bank is as a condition for making a decision to invest in that country or not. So, independence gives the investing community a lot of confidence. The truth is that foreign investors and international multilateral agencies feel that our CBN as currently constituted is not independent enough as they have been clamoring for a full- fledged deregulation of the Naira which the CBN has refused to implement. They don’t believe it is the CBN acting without some influence from the executive.

An independent Central Bank is usually very prompt in taking decisions which can save the economy huge losses rather than waiting for approvals from either a minister or parliament. Because an independent Central Bank is supposed to have a long-term view of the economy as against the short-term interest of the politician, there is bound to be disagreements and tension between the Minister and the Governor. That tension is productive as the economy stands to benefit from it.

I will, therefore, make some recommendations for the minister which I believe would help her get round the frustration. One, both the minister and the governor should be members of the economic team which I’m told is now in place. The direction the economy should go should be thoroughly discussed and agreed at that committee. This would ensure more congruence, once everyone is convinced on the right way to go.

Thankfully, the President has nominated 5 members of the CBN board a few days ago, awaiting Senate confirmation. Even though this is coming almost 2 years late, the minister will benefit from a functional board with appointees of the President in the majority. The minister’s position and opinion would hopefully be well represented at the CBN board.

Finally, the minister will do well to engage productively, with not only the CBN but other arms of government. Engagement is very useful given that it helps to sell superior positions and opinions and bring otherwise opposing sides to the desired side, subject to the superiority of argument and debate. Within the fiscal policy framework are major changes that will help stabilize the economy. The minister must insist on zero-rising ways and means, aggressively work to rebalance recurrent expenditure with capital expenditure, reign in the debt service baggage, and move towards increasing tax to GDP ratio from our current lowly 6% to at least the sub-Saharan African  average of about 13% , just to mention but a few. If we can wrap our heads around these issues, then monetary policy will just become a sweetener.

The walk to CBN independence is a very long one that started in 1958. The progress that has been made so far is very commendable. Any attempt to reverse it is like setting us on a reverse journey to the Stone Age. It is not a trip that anyone should contemplate.


Email: alexottiofr@gmail.com


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

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Otodo Gbame: We are helpless, homeless – we are nobody

Thousands of people in Otodo Gbame, a community in Lagos State have been left homeless after police stormed an informal fishing settlement and set fire to their homes, Bloomgist reports.

Members of the Otodo Gbame riverine community said armed police fired bullets and tear gas indiscriminately, forcing them onto canoes in the water as their houses were leveled.

Otodo Gbame: We are helpless, we are homeless - we are nobody
Otodo Gbame: Everyone in the community was forced onto the water, there were hundreds of boats

One man was shot in the neck and later died, residents and Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a Lagos-based group working with the community, told Al Jazeera.

The forceful eviction followed the destruction of the homes of more than 4,700 people in the settlement in mid-March for environmental and health reasons, according to local authorities.

“[Police] came very, very early in the morning [of Sunday],” Tina Edukpo, a 21-year-old Otodo Gbame resident, told Bloomgist.

“When I saw them, I was surprised,” she said.

JEI codirector Andrew Maki, who arrived at the community shortly after the demolitions began, said that at least 50 to 60 officers and 10 police vehicles were in Otodo Gbame in the morning.

He said that the Lagos State Task Force officer in charge at the site told him and residents that police were there on the orders of the governor.

‘Security measure’

According to the Lagos State Governor’s Monitoring Team Twitter account, Sunday’s demolition was carried out as a “security measure in the overall interest of all Lagosians”.

It said it believes “militants” were using the community as a base, an accusation residents and rights groups deny.

Otodo Gbame 5

It also said the settlement was “illegal, without any title or appropriate government approval”.

Maki said on Sunday that police shot tear gas and bullets, forcing thousands of residents onto boats.

“Everyone in the community was forced onto the water, there were hundreds of boats,” Maki said.

Paul Kunnu, another Otodo Gbame resident, said people had nowhere to go but the water.

“They started shooting tear gas and bullets,” Kunnu, 38, told Al Jazeera. “So many people started running into the water.”

Otodo Gbame 4

He also said he remained on a boat in the water for nearly 12 hours and was continually pushed away from the land by marine police as other officers set fire to the remaining homes.

According to residents and JEI, a 20-year-old student was shot in the neck. Video from Sunday shows a bleeding man being rushed in a canoe for help. Maki, from JEI, said the man died in the boat before getting to the hospital.

Authorities were not available for comment on the death.

The Otodo Gbame community is one of many informal settlements along the waterfront of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

In January, a Lagos court issued an injunction halting demolitions in such communities after an estimated 30,000 Otodo Gbame residents were evicted in November 2016 to make way for development projects, rights groups said.

JEI and Amnesty International accused the government of violating that court order on March 17 when excavators and police razed of homes of at least 4,700 Otodo Gbame residents.

Ototdo Gbame: We are helpless, we are homeless - we are nobody
Rights groups said more than 4,700 people were displaced in March when Lagos police demolished many of the homes in Otodo-Gbame. PHOTO: JEI

Following last month’s demolition, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode issued a statement defending the move, saying it was not in violation of the January injunction.

Ambode said the evictions were carried out “to ensure that the waterfront area is free from environmentally injurious and unsanitary habitation a few months after it was consumed by fired and rendered uninhabitable”.

The government has also said it was not responsible for the fire that displaced thousands in November 2016, instead blaming an “ethnic clash” between residents of different communities.

A ruling on a court case against the governor and other Lagos officials – filed by JEI and dozens of waterfront communities in Lagos – over the March demolition is expected on Wednesday.

‘We have to rebuild’

Last year, rights groups warned that more than 300,000 people faced eviction from waterfront communities across the state of Lagos.

Makeshift housing is common in the poorest parts of Lagos, a city of more than 20 million people.

Morayo Adebayo, a senior researcher at Amnesty International, accused the government of grabbing land.

Otodo Gbame 6

“This is a land-grab situation. That is what is happening,” Morayo told Al Jazeera by phone on Sunday.

“Otodo Gbame residents are fishermen who derive their daily sustenance from the water,” she said. “They have been here for more than 80 years.”

Residents, including Kunnu and Edukpo, vowed to rebuild.

“I want to rebuild my home because I don’t have any other place to go,” Edukpo said. “This is the third time they have demolished my home.”

Kunnu agreed.

“[These are] our homes where our fathers and grandfathers have lived,” he said. “We have to rebuild.”

Residents “Shot Dead”

Daniel Aya, a resident of Otodo Gbame, a riverine community in the Lekki area of Lagos state, was allegedly shot dead during a demolition exercise by men of the state’s task force on Sunday.

In a series of tweets and investigations by The Bloomgist, hundreds of  the evictees were seen leaving the shambles of what used to be a haven of safety through canoes.

Residents of Otodo Gbame ‘shot dead’ as government forcefully ejecting people
Monday Idowu, bullet wounds to his chest from sporadic police shooting. Photo: Justice and Empowerment Initiatives

Some of the fleeing residents were trapped on water, as men of the marine police in the team of the task force, prevented them from going back to the land.

According to Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a non-governmental organisation, a stray bullet hit Aya, who was rushed out of the scene, but died hours later.

The organisation shared pictures of residents who were fleeing the community as a result of government’s action.

Court cannot stop Ambode

Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court ruled today that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode demolition of Otodo Gbame community is irrevocable by the court.

Otodo Gbame 8

The judge, presiding on the matter said the court does not have jurisdiction to order the activities of the governor.

However, the judge expressed disappointment at the Governor’s disregard of the court order by demolishing the waterfront community after a court order has been given for status quo to be maintained by both party pending a final judgment on the issue. The judge also pointed that the demolition of Otodo Gbame is out-rightly going against the rule of law.

“The third respondent (Governor Ambode) undermined the principle of rule of law and is going against the democratic system which put him in office in the first place.”

Justice Adeniyi had earlier ordered Governor Ambode appear before it to explain why he demolished the community against a court temporary order, but the judge backtracked, making a ruling that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) gives the Governor immunity which shields him from any legal case while he remains as the Governor of the state.

Learning empathy can help in building community projects in Africa

Learning empathy can help in building community projects in Africa

Empathy is one of the most important skills any leader can have. A huge 2015 research project across 38 countries found that empathy makes leaders more effective and their businesses more successful.

Learning empathy can help in building community projects in Africa
A Unicef team creating a collaborative paper plane. PHOTO: Unicef

But how do you teach empathy? How can it be cultivated in students who will become leaders in future? And could it be done in a way that foregrounds ancient, indigenous knowledge and practices which might have been sidelined by colonialism?

For instance, in 2005 Unicef developed a plan to hand out mosquito nets to help curb malaria in Malawi. But instead of using the nets to cover themselves while sleeping, people used them for fishing – a phenomenon that’s been seen elsewhere in Africa, too.

Unicef assumed that the need for protection against malaria was among Malawians’ priorities. But actually, the most urgent need was for basic sustenance. This is an example of how developing a better understanding of the local context can assist in coming up with solutions that meet users’ needs.

Organisations also need to understand that knowledge already exists in communities which must be considered when coming up with solutions for social challenges. In parts of Africa like Kenya and Sudan, as well as in India, for example, villagers use cow urine around their houses’ perimeters to ward off the mosquitoes that carry malaria. Cow urine and dung is also used as a pest repellent mixed into the lining of houses’ walls.

It’s these kinds of contextual considerations that have informed my work with Unicef in a design thinking programme that focuses on empathy and respecting indigenous knowledge.

Putting people first

Unicef deals with issues related to children all over the world. In 2016 it approached the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking (the d-school) at the University of Cape Town to develop more human-centred solutions to some of the complex challenges facing vulnerable children and families, particularly on the African continent.

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem solving. It develops an understanding of problems through engaging with those affected – the users. Its approach to solving problems is participatory, involving the users in finding solutions.

Unicef is involved in solving a number of complex challenges, and realised that it’s critical to put humans at the centre of that work. It wanted to ensure that the solutions designed would contribute to local communities’ sustainability and resilience. Unicef too often goes into communities offering solutions without considering local ideas, approaches and knowledge – as the Malawi mosquito net project showed. Its employees don’t spend time, really understanding the problems they’re trying to solve before designing solutions.

That’s where instilling empathy comes in: organisations need an empathetic mindset that leads to better understanding not just of what the problem is, but also what caused it in the first place.

That’s what informed my ongoing design thinking programme with Unicef. It’s a customised programme that helps train organisations in design thinking. I’m working with Unicef Malawi and some of its partners – and developing empathy forms a big part of the course.

Empathy in design thinking

There are two types of empathy in design thinking: emotional and cognitive. Emotional empathy centres on instinct, emotions and shared experience. The emotional aspect includes assessing our own thoughts and actions for the purpose of personal learning and development. Design thinking encourages students to cultivate curiosity and challenge prejudice to discover commonalities with other people who may be different from them. Listening is extremely important, too.

Emotional empathy is a starting point for individual team members in any design thinking programme before they shift focus towards the user for whom they’re designing solutions.

The second dimension of empathy is cognitive. Here, one comes to understand how others may experience the world from their point of view. Cognitive empathy includes the mental process of acquiring and understanding through thoughts, experience and senses. It includes processes like knowledge, memory, judgement, reasoning and decision making.

Understanding different points of view requires humility: we may have been trained as experts in our various disciplines but that hardly means we know everything. Each person possesses very little knowledge, which becomes valuable when a team comes together.

All the participants in a design team need to be empathetic with the users they’re designing for if their solutions are to be relevant. This informed my planning for the Unicef course.

Immersion

The participants include Unicef employees and people from organisations that implement the solutions Unicef develops. I started by taking participants through a three day introduction to design thinking. They had to work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary team. They had to learn the value of empathy for the user – that’s, people affected by the problems they’re trying to solve.

They took part in an immersion experience at the Cape Town Society for the Blind. This took them into a very different context and forced them to experience the physical world as blind people do. It was a powerful way to help them understand the implications of navigating a world not designed to facilitate their access. They ate dinner in the dark and were forced to use all their other senses in the same way blind people must.

All this helped participants to understand that even those they might consider less knowledgeable have experiences, emotions and aspirations. This understanding helps with the development of true empathy.

Empathy for others and understanding their context could go a long way in helping organisations to come up with relevant solutions. An understanding of context allows us to learn from others’ experiences and to arrive at an informed solution with the users. This allows organisations to solve the right problems – and, in the long run, to help communities become more resilient and self-sustaining.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/The Conversation

ANALYSIS: Should degrees be mandatory for all leaders?

In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu looks at why Kenya insists that its senior political leaders must hold a university degree, and Mike Ikenwa, a Digital Media Strategist and a Nigeria Writer looks at why Nigerians are starting to demand for the certificates and educational qualifications of their leaders.

buhari-4.jpg.jpeg

There is a whirl of activity online at the moment as Kenyans try to “find” their old school mates to stand by them in case they are required to prove that they did in fact attend school and sat national examinations.

It is all a light-hearted mock of the serious situation in which the Governor of Mombasa, Ali Hassan Joho, has found himself in.

Police are investigating whether Mr Joho forged his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) as alleged by the Kenya National Examinations Council.

He denies any wrongdoing but if these allegations are proven, Mr Joho could be in danger of criminal charges and could be stripped of the degrees he subsequently obtained at university.

A person vying for the position of governor is required by law to hold a degree from a recognised university.

This means Mr Joho could potentially be locked out of the race to defend his seat in the August general election.

It is this last point that leads Mr Joho to describe the whole situation as attempts to intimidate him.


Joseph Warungu:

Joseph WarunguBC SEMA KENYA

“Some of the worst cases of abuse of power have involved highly educated people.”


Mr Joho, who is a member of the opposition ODM party, is a fierce critic of the ruling Jubilee Party government and is never afraid to clash publicly with the president.

It is unlikely that the learned men and women who drafted the 2010 constitution of Kenya had Mr Joho in mind when they included a university degree requirement for holders of the office of president, governor and deputy governor.

The thinking was that the president is the CEO of the country while governors are the CEOs of Kenya’s 47 regional county governments.

These positions require governance experience and a visionary leadership that is partly the product of a mind broadened by education.

But perhaps the big issue the constitution was trying to address was the culture of the 1980s and early 1990s, when the Kenyan president tended to be surrounded by half-educated sycophants.

These handfuls of men who had the ear of the president were so powerful they could influence public policy on just about anything.


Arresting Marx?

The story is told of how in a bid to stem anti-government sentiments at public universities, one of these semi-literate leaders said: “The government has enough resources to hunt down and arrest this Karo Makisi who is inciting the students to riot”.

The poor politician was convinced that Karl Marx was a man physically present at the universities and was causing trouble for the government.Karl Marx, the philosopher and sociologist who advocated struggle for social changeWas Karl Marx really causing trouble on Kenyan campuses?


No-one had educated him on popular social, economic and political ideologies.

Another of the inner-circle politicians who barely went to school is famously said to have proposed a great solution to the frequent unrest and clamour for political change taking place in public universities.

“If all that the students want is dayarog, they should be given the dayarog to eat so that calm returns to the institutions.”

He mistook the students’ demand for dialogue as a type of food that was missing from their menu.

This is how far Kenya has come in the evolution of its political leaders.

Now fearful of being barred from running for the lucrative position of governor, many politicians who did not go to university have been studying day and night to obtain degrees.


Long-lost classmates

But based on experience of poor leadership, Kenyans know that a university degree does not define a leader nor guarantee competent leadership.

Some of the worst cases of mismanagement of resources and abuse of power have involved highly educated people.

On the contrary, Kenya has in the past witnessed brilliant leaders who were elected into office without degrees and who have gone on to personify exemplary leadership.

The constitution of Kenya has another provision on leadership and integrity.

This requires people vying for public office to be elected on the basis of personal integrity, selfless service and honesty.

However, these core leadership principles have been reduced to a mere process of certifying that the candidate is of good conduct and free from corruption charges.

The clearance procedure is open to manipulation and abuse, and judging by the number of leaders who have been involved in grand corruption over the last five years, it is an exercise in futility.

So Kenyans can be forgiven for turning Mr Joho’s education pain into a national pastime online.Screenshot of a tweet mocking the investigation into Mr Joho's credentialsLight-hearted Kenyans on social media have seized the Joho affair to joke about the necessity of getting in touch with long-lost classmates

No matter how progressive the constitution is or how comprehensive the laws are, it is only when the people breathe life into its letter and spirit and defend it with their lives that transformation can truly begin to take place.

For now, because I’m not sure who else might be reading this, excuse me for a moment as I try to find my long lost classmates… just in case.


‘Dino and His ‘fake’ degrees’

One of the most outspoken members of the Nigeria senate and the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye has come into a serious attack by all-angry Nigerian youths who have started demanding his educational qualifications and evidences to prove that he attended from the universities which he said the graduated from.

Though senate mandated the committee to look into the issue after Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, moved a motion that the matter be investigated, Nigerians have continued to refute the authenticity of his claimed certificates.

“In the PUNCH of today, page 16 and with your permission I will want to lay it and it says ‘Dino Melaye in first degree certificate scandal’ and it goes on and on,” Ndume had told his colleagues.

“I will therefore appeal to the senate to investigate and our colleagues will be cleared and this senate will stand as it suppose to.”

Speaking with journalists after the decision to probe him was reached, Melaye expressed optimism that the investigation would clear all allegations levelled against him.

The lawmaker said he had obtained seven degrees, and was in the process of bagging the eighth.

“We welcome the development. It will finally clear the air of all malicious allegations,” Melaye had told journalists.

“To say that I did not graduate from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) zaria is to say that I am not a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Melaye claimed that he had degrees from Harvard University and London School of Economics and Political Science.

However, both schools have denied awarding Melaye any degree. Harvard University said Melaye only completed a week-long leadership seminar in November 2016.

There are discrepancies in the spelling of Melaye’s name in some of his academic credentials.

In his Statement of result, his name was given as ‘Daniel Jonah MELAYE’. His name was given as “Melaye Daniel” in his NYSC discharge certificate.

The name on his Diploma from University of Jos read ‘Daniel Dino Melaye’. Melaye possesses an Advanced Diploma in Law, Security and Conflict Resolution from the institution.

Melaye’s name was wrongly spelt in his Senior School Certificate in 1992. It read ‘Melaiye Daniel Jonah O’.


The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has no certificate case hanging on his neck as being insinuated in some quarters.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, gave this clarification while reacting to the Sunday Punch newspaper where the president was featured among prominent Nigerians the paper alleges have certificate scandals.

Mr. Shehu said the president was not in the category of Nigerian leaders with questionable certificates.

He enjoined the Punch editors to update their records to avoid making this repeated mistake.

The statement read: “In reaction to your cover story this morning Sunday, March 26,2017, we wish to emphatically state that President Muhammadu Buhari does not fit into your categorisation of leaders with certificate scandals because he bears none that is on available records.

“In the course of the contest for the office of the President in 2015, a number of wild, untrue and malicious allegations were made against him in order to stop him from contesting for the office in the election.

“The issue of certificates was raised against him but the campaign successfully dealt with the allegations by providing evidence that not only was he qualified to run, he had a far higher academic qualification than is required by the constitution. As a result, he went on to run for the office and eventually won.

“Since the purpose of the challenge was primarily to stop him from being a candidate in that election, the challengers either voluntarily withdrew or abandoned the cases soon after he won and all of them were subsequently struck off by the courts.’’

The presidential aide therefore maintained that president had no certificate case hanging on his neck.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/BBC/Kenya News Agency/Punch

Why Africa seem to be less happy than every other continent of the world

As part of the celebration of the International Day of Happiness on March 20, the United Nations released the 2017 World Happiness Report and Africa is less happy than last year.

INDIA-AFRICA-CULTURE-MIGRATION-PHOTOGRAPHY-FILES

Africa is also the least happiest continent in the world with: lowest GDP per capita, health life expectancy, generosity, dystopia, social support, freedom to make life choices, perceptions of corruption and confidence interval.

These are the variables used to measure global happiness level since the survey was launched in 2012 using data from the *Gallup World Poll.

47 of the 166 countries in the *Gallup World Poll are African countries and 44 made it on the happiness ranking measured on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating greatest happiness.

In all, 155 countries with available data were surveyed including 44 African countries.


Highlight of ranking

Algeria led as Africa’s happiest country but lagged at 53rd in the world where Norway is ranked the happiest followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden.

The story was different last year when Algeria led as Africa’s happiest and 38th in the world with Denmark being the happiest globally.

Mauritius is the second happiest country in Africa and 64th in the world, followed by troubled Libya (68), Morocco (84), drought-stricken Somalia (93), Nigeria (95), South Africa (101), Tunisia (102), Egypt (104) and Sierra Leone (106) respectively.

Africa dominated the bottom of the ranking with Benin (143) on top of the bottom ten followed by Madagascar (144), South Sudan (147), Liberia (148), Guinea (149), Togo (150), Rwanda (151), Tanzania (153), Burundi (154) and the least happiest country in the world — Central African Republic (155).

The Central African Republic returned to the surveyed group this year and took Burundi’s position at the bottom.


Reasons for poor performance

“Africa’s lower levels of happiness compared to other countries in the world might be attributed to the disappointment with different aspects of development under democracy,” the report said, adding that “although most citizens still believe that democracy is the best political system, they are critical of good governance in their countries.”

The report also attributed slow infrastructure and youth development to population pressure while acknowledging the significant improvement in meeting basic needs according to the Afrobarometer index of ‘lived poverty’.

It also highlights Africa’s resilience despite poor infrastructure.

“African people demonstrate ingenuity that makes life bearable even under less than perfect circumstances … African people are essentially optimistic and this optimism might serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy for the continent.”


Way forward

What if Africa looks to its youth to realise the continent’s dreams of prosperity? What if the African youth’s confidence in their future and their entrepreneurial spirit were to be matched by substantial investment in their development? Then, no doubt, African countries would join the ranks of the world’s prosperous and happy nations. – the report advised.


*The Gallup World Poll was introduced in 2005 and surveys approximately 1,000 residents per country, targeting the entire civilian, non-institutionalized population, aged 15 and older.

In 2016, face-to-face surveys were used in all of Sub-Saharan Africa and most of North Africa. In Libya, telephone survey methodology has been used since 2015.

The Gallup World Poll is translated into 85 languages throughout Africa and attempts are made to conduct interviews in the language the respondent speaks most comfortably.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Africa News

It is fast approaching two years since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President of Nigeria. Precisely, May 29, 2015 was the day Nigerians thought they had voted for a messiah to rescue them from the abject poverty they witnessed during the last administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. If Israelites had known they would be confronted with hunger, poverty, hardship and depression, they would not have followed Moses out of Egypt.

President Buhari recently held a closed-door meeting with Governor Nyesome of Rivers state as regards the recent activities of the Niger Delta Avengers
President Buhari recently held a closed-door meeting with Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers state as regards the recent activities of the Niger Delta Avengers

“If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death,” the Israelites said to Moses and Aaron. The same scenario is currently playing itself out where things have gone from better to worse under President Buhari. Those who do not have the opportunity to express what they are passing through publicly are now resorting to committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide, which ever way.

That said, I overheard some ‘cabals’ whispering to Nigerians that President Buhari would be the one taking Nigerians to the promised land. If I may ask, which promised land are they talking about? Is it the one in the bible? An adage says, “A ki i fini joye awodi ko ma le gbadiye,” meaning, “One cannot be given the title ‘eagle’ and yet be incapable of snatching chickens.”

It is a bitter truth that Nigerians can no longer wait for miracles to happen under this government after having waited for nearly two years without any positive results. If Mr. President seems to be doubting my write up, I will advise him to quickly fly over to Lagos and take a walk just to test his popularity. A good leader has no need of being feared by the people, they say.

Recall that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidents made life inconvenient for Nigerians, but the scenario has grown worse with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock. No wonder the political theorist Harold Laski said, “It is better a government does not exist than having a government under which people continue to wallow in abject poverty.”

At this juncture, if we do not say the truth as it is, the upcoming generation won’t forgive us. President Buhari spends his two years playing the blame game, leaving governance behind and pretending to fight corruption. Nigerians voted for President Buhari with the hope of enjoying great leadership, but the reverse is now the case as things are not in any way getting better.

Considering the numerous challenges facing Nigeria, one ought to have thought that Mr. Buhari and his party would brainstorm to execute at least one project that would have a positive impact on the people. Political sycophants are now distracting people’s attention from Buhari’s failures by focusing on the 2019 presidential elections. I read recently that a governor in the South-East publicly said he would encourage Mr. Buhari to go for the second term. Of the presidents’ 24 months in office, Buhari has spent over 8 months battling with his health and shuttling between Nigeria and the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Of course, my instinct tells me that even if they push President Buhari forward to go for the second term, the president might decide to nominate another person elsewhere.

Under this government, the nation’s democracy has turned to autocracy. The legislative and executive arms of the government are flexing their muscles. Both are now toying with the lives of over 176 Million Nigerians who are struggling to put food on their tables instead of of focusing on governance.  By next year, the country will embark on campaigns for the 2019 general election, where the executive will neglect laudable projects it ought to have tackled in the past. This will be the time the sitting president will fool gullible Nigerians, giving the impression that if voted for the second term, he would be able to do better.

As the condition of the country continues to deteriorate, the majority of Nigerians are beginning to see that there is no clear difference between the APC and the PDP. PDP has now mixed with APC while APC also mixed with PDP, and they continue to play upon the intelligence of the people they govern. When should Nigerians expect good governance? Why has the government failed to stabilize electricity in Nigeria since 1960? Why is it that the past and present governments of Nigeria have found it difficult to protect the future of its citizens and why are the same people still ruling today in Nigeria? Buhari ruled the country under the military era between December 31, 1983 and 1985, and ended up presenting himself as a democratic politician who became the president of the country again. Is this all we have to offer? Do we not have conscientious leaders who care for the good of our nation? Are we cursed?

Let me quickly ask Mr. Buhari how far he has gone with the 40,000 MW electricity generation he promised during electioneering campaigns in 2015. The president should be reminded that Nigerians are still waiting for this to become a reality. How about making the naira equal to the dollar? On security challenges, while Buhari focuses on curbing the Boko Haram insurgency, Fulani herdsmen have taken over the country, terrorizing farming communities across the nation. Fulani herdsmen are now killing faster than members of Boko Haram, and nothing is being done to checkmate their activities.

President Buhari promised the creation of 1 million new jobs annually during 2015 election campaigns. While Nigerians wait for him to fulfill this promise, those who had jobs are being fired on a daily basis as some companies are laying off staff due to the harsh economy. Under this government, more than 40% of private companies in Nigeria have folded up as a result of the current recession that never existed during the last administration. Can we still expect “Manna” to fall from heaven with these failed promises?

Nigerian political leaders should remember one of the quotes of an American author and journalist, Anna Quindlen, who says, “Look back, to slavery, to suffrage, to integration and one thing is clear. Fashions in bigotry come and go. The right thing lasts.”


Adewale Giwa is a Journalist, former senior United States’ Correspondent of Daily Newswatch and Daily Trust Newspapers. He tweets @AdewaleGiwa8


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

We’re ready to trade your news for our money: submit news and photo reports from your area using our Report app. We are also available on WhatsApp +2349086050708

Opinion: Canada At 150: Lessons For Nigerian Youth – Chido Onumah

On July 1, 2017, Canada, the world’s second largest country after Russia, will be 150 years old. There is a yearlong celebration of this milestone for a nation that prides itself on being one of the best, if not the best, country in the world. Before European colonialization in the early 16th century, Canada was inhabited by aboriginal people, that is, indigenous Canadian people. Canada’s history of colonialism dates back to July 24, 1534, when French explorer Jacques Cartier, in the name of King Francis I of France, set up a French colony in New France, the area colonized by France in North America. As conflicts between colonial powers raged, Britain would later supplant France and take control of much of what is Canada today.

On July 1, 1867, the British North American Act came into being. It led to the fusion of the colonies of Canada (later Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to form the semi-autonomous federal dominion of Canada. With time, other British colonies and territories joined with or were ceded to the new nation. From four provinces in 1867, Canada today has ten provinces and three territories. It wasn’t until 1982 that the country became a fully sovereign state. It was that year that Canada eliminated the last vestiges of legal control the British Parliament had in the amendment of the country’s constitution.

It is not for nothing that the country has been described as the best place on earth. According to a 2015 study by the Reputation Institute, “Canada is the top country in the world for studying, visiting, working, and living.” It was ranked first for “best quality of life” by U.S. News Best Countries Ranking (2016) and named the “world’s most welcoming country” by the 2015 Global Nation Brands Index. Beyond its picturesque countryside, tundra, prairies and beautiful snow-capped mountains that stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, Canada provides a breathtaking kaleidoscope of multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion and freedom that other countries can take a cue from.

Of course, Canada is not a perfect nation. No nation is perfect. Nation-building is not a tea party but a work in progress, no matter how old a country is. One of the most decentralized federations as well as one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations in the world, Canada, a country of 35 million people, (2016 census) has continued to push the boundaries of what it means to be a modern nation-state.

Last week, as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration, the country’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, H.E. Christopher Thornley, held a reception in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, for Canadians and friends of Canada in Nigeria. Ambassador Thornley spoke about Canada’s “strong and enduring relationship with Nigeria, and commitment to continuing our friendly and productive relations for many years to come.” He also spoke about Canada’s “diversity and inclusiveness, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, youth, and the environment.”

There are plenty of lessons Nigeria can draw from Canada. Like Canada, Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth, an organization of countries that were colonized by Britain. Of course, there is a difference in how both countries emerged—while Canada’s three original British colonies agreed to come together to form a semi-autonomous confederacy in 1867, the Northern and Southern Protectorates in Nigeria were amalgamated by the British in 1914 to create Nigeria. From two protectorates to one country in 1914, Nigeria grew to three regions in 1946, four regions in 1963, 12 states in 1967 and today has 36 states. While Canada’s expansion was through accretion and concession, that of Nigeria was through forced division. This difference notwithstanding, both countries have in common diversity in terms of region, language, religion and ethnicity.

According to Ambassador Thornley, Canada is strong because of its differences, not in spite of them, and is strengthened in many ways because of her shared experiences and diversity. Nigeria can look to its diversity, differences and shared experiences as sources of strength. Unfortunately, thanks to poor leadership, the country has managed to exacerbate its fault lines so much so that today it sits on the brink, racked by political instability, and ethnic and religious strife propelled by a greedy and bankrupt elite for whom enlightened self-interest means absolutely nothing.

“Inclusion is a choice,” noted Ambassador Thornley. “This choice is guided by the many benefits that diversity can bring: higher rates of economic growth, better social cohesion and tremendous cultural and civic benefits. It has taken years of hard work for Canada to get to where it is today. Inclusion does not happen by accident, it happens because of choices. Decades ago, Canada chose to embrace a policy of multiculturalism and official bilingualism. The Government of Canada chose to welcome more refugees. Prime Minister Trudeau chose to have gender parity in Cabinet (because it’s 2015).”

These are the ideals Nigeria should aspire to if we are to build a modern nation. We must make conscious efforts to build an inclusive nation; a society of equal opportunities and civic benefits, because the alternatives are not pleasant. We must redefine citizenship rights in Nigeria. We must build a nation, like Canada, where every Nigerian can call every part of the country home. That conversation must begin now. Nigeria does not have the luxury of time!

In 2015, Canadians elected Justin Trudeau, a dynamic and progressive young politician as prime minister. Ambassador Thornley spoke eloquently about the role young people in both Nigeria and Canada can play in shaping their countries: “As we celebrate one hundred and fifty years of Canada, we remind ourselves that it is today’s young people that will shape both the Canada and the Nigeria of the next fifty years. Canada understands the importance of engaging youth not only on issues that affect them directly, but on all issues of national and global importance. In fact, our Prime Minister, quite deliberately, chose to personally take on the role of Minister of Youth to emphasize the priority his government attaches to it. Young people represent a generation of true global citizens. This has been helped by a world that is networked and connected like never before, namely through the use of new technologies and social media. The importance of youth is particularly pronounced in Nigeria, which has such a sizable population of young people. I have been impressed in the early months of my tour in Nigeria with the ideas, energy, and vitality of young Nigerians.  The desire to build a better world is evident and inspiring.”

Nigerian youth have ideas and energy. They are creative. But they must do more; they must be involved in reclaiming and re-inventing the country; they must realize that the power to bring about real change in Nigeria lies in their hands. Many of those who shaped Nigeria at independence were in their 20s and 30s with a few in their 40s. They were the same people who plunged Nigeria into an avoidable and internecine civil war, mismanaged the post-war reconciliation, robbed the country of its resource, impoverished the majority of Nigerians and brought us to the sorry state we are in today as a nation.

Nigerians can’t continue to run the country with the same people and ideas that have failed in the last 56 years. Nigerian youth must rise to the challenge of their generation. Nobody will provide employment or quality education for you unless you create a system of equal opportunities and civic benefits. It is your country, your world and your time! I am, therefore, encouraged by the efforts of some young Nigerians like the economist and writer, Tope Fasua, who is rallying other young Nigerians for real progressive change under the banner of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) as the country heads into another general election cycle in 2019. There is Bashir Abdullahi II, the building engineer and social activist who sought me out a few weeks ago to share creative ideas for the social and political reconstruction of Nigeria as an inclusive and egalitarian society.

These are the kinds of new attitudes and approaches that Nigeria needs for her to survive. We must break from the past. We can’t continue to run Nigeria in the same old ways and expect different results. Dear Nigerian youth, let no one tell you that you are not old enough to lead or that you don’t have experience. Make your mistakes if you have to, but lead you must. Your glorious battle cry must be: dare to struggle; dare to win!

Nigeria must rethink its federalism. Like Canada, Nigeria must seek reconciliation with various groups within the country. Everybody matters! We must also elevate the debate around gender equality and empowerment of women. It is only the youth that can achieve this by collectively destroying the ingrained mistrust and prejudices of the past. Successive rulers—with jaundiced and parochial thinking—have failed the country. There is no reason for the current generation of Nigerians to toe the same line. There is no explanation why Nigerians born after the end of the civil war in January 1970 should see themselves as anything other than Nigerians first. That must be the attitude going forward; it is the only way we can get out of the current morass.

Last week, I was on Aljazeera’s Inside Story to talk about corruption and famine in three African countries (Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan) and Yemen where, collectively, 20 million people are at risk of starvation. In Somalia, “a national disaster has been declared because of drought and about half of the country’s population faces severe food shortages.” In South Sudan, “famine has been declared in parts of the country and up to a million people there will soon run out of food.” And in the giant of Africa, the UN says, “400,000 Nigerian children face malnutrition. Close to 80,000 of them might not survive the next few months.”

It was tragic as it was painful for me to find Nigeria in the same league as these other countries that have a long history of natural disasters and civil wars. Nigeria’s problems are purely self-inflicted. There is no reason any child in Nigeria should go to bed hungry much less being malnourished. There is no reason for millions of Nigerians to be refugees in their country. It is this retrogressive paradigm of governance that has defined Nigeria since independence that our youth must interrogate.

The challenge before Nigerian youth, therefore, and the lesson they can learn from a country like Canada is how to build an inclusive nation, home to millions of people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, living together in harmony and bound by social justice, equity, the rule of law and a common national ethos.

It is the bounden duty of this generation of Nigerian youth to rescue Nigeria from the tragic hamster wheel the country has become.


Chido Onumah is the author of  We Are All Biafrans. You can contact him at conumah@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @conumah.


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

We’re ready to trade your news for our money: submit news and photo reports from your area using our Report app. We are also available on WhatsApp +2349086050708

Child abuse: who is really guilty of this evil?

Last night, from my bed I could hear the bitter cry of a young girl, from the weight of her voice, she should be around 9-10 years, being flogged by her mother, she cried and pleaded for mercy from her mother who showed no interest in what ever the young girl is saying.

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“Mummy please, mummy my body is paining me, mummy forgive me o, mummy don’t flog me again please, mummy I’m begging you Pls, daddy please beg mummy naw Pls, mummy I am bleeding pls, mummy my head o” – the little girl cries as the angry mother continued to flog her.

From the several sounds I heard, she was being beaten and kicked same time, it was a very bad experience for me.

This beating and flogging of this little girl child lasted for more than 20 minutes, and while all these were going on, I kept asking myself “are you sure she’s the one that gave birth to this child, how would she feel if another person is beating this child, her child like this, what had the little girl done to deserve this horrible beating, whatever it is, is it worth it?

Many people lately are shouting “Child Abuse”, parents, brothers, concerned neighbours, everyone is claiming to be concerned, but I asked myself “Do they really know what Child Abuse is?”

Many is are thinking it’s the kind of thing you just talk about and let it go away, no people, no, it is there, inside of us, we need to deal and get ride of it.

I believe somebody like that woman, when you try to intervene, would give you the highest insult of your life with their popular lines “It is my child, I know how to train her and nobody helped me born her” attached to it.

Yes we are tying to sensitise people about Child Abuse, but have we think deeply about our very own characters that we don’t know it’s Child Abuse? Many a time you see parents beating their children like a stranger, teaching them how to be resistant to beating and pain, indirectly training them to withstand pains and punishments in the future without even knowing it.

Do you know that time will come when the child would do something and say “highest it would end in beating”? Yes, it’s possible. Time will come when that child will not be afraid of your beating anymore and when he/she would no longer be afraid of what you can do to her, because she already know what you would do; beat and flog her.

While trying to heal ourselves of the fast developing Child Abuse rampaging the world, let’s try to uproot it from the source – ourselves. Let’s first among all stop abusing our own children and stop handing to them those weapons that will soon begin to hunt our lives and conscience.


Written by Mike Ikenwa
Follow him on twitter @MikeGNR | ikenwamike@yahoo.com


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at info@bloomgist.com.

We’re ready to trade your news for our money: submit news and photo reports from your area using our Report app. We are also available on WhatsApp +2349086050708

Report: How safe is it to drink Fanta and Sprite in Nigeria?

A recent court case in Nigeria has highlighted concerns that locally made soft drinks may be considered unsafe for human consumption elsewhere.

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There has been uproar in Nigeria after it emerged that the company that manufactures Fanta and Sprite, the Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC), has been ordered by a court to place warning labels on its products, stating that they are unsafe when consumed alongside vitamin C.

The drinks are said by critics to contain high levels of the preservative benzoic acid and the colouring sunset yellow.

NBC is challenging the ruling.

The case has caused deepening concern in a country where Fanta, Sprite and Coca-Cola are probably the most widely consumed soft drinks.

Barbara Ukpabi owns a grill restaurant which serves local food in Oniru, Lagos. She says she might stop buying Fanta and Sprite for the restaurant and also has concerns about giving the drinks to her children.

“I was thinking of reducing how much I drink of it. I’ll be thinking of drinking less of it or going to other substitutes like juice.”

Although like many Nigerians, the habit is hard to break.

“I just had my lunch and I had Coke and water.”

Security guard John Uloko didn’t see the reports about the soft drinks in the newspapers but heard about it via WhatsApp and hasn’t drunk any since.

‘Flexing their muscles’

The ruling was the result of a nine-year-long court battle initiated by Nigerian businessman Fijabi Adebo.John UlokoJohn Uloko has stopped drinking Fanta and Sprite


In 2007, Mr Adebo shipped Nigerian-made Fanta and Sprite to the UK to sell at his chain of shops in Manchester.

His shipment was confiscated by UK customs, originally because of concerns about the authenticity of the beverages.

But when the UK health authorities tested the products, they were declared unsafe for human consumption and destroyed.

Mr Adebo sued NBC, Coca-Cola’s franchise owner in Nigeria, which had sold him the products.

They had refused to take financial responsibility for the incident.

He later extended the case to include the food standards agency Nafdac, on the grounds that it had allegedly not performed its duty.

Last month – nearly 10 years after he filed his case – a Lagos high court ruled against Nafdac and ordered the Nigerian Bottling Company to place written warnings on its Fanta and Sprite bottles.As NBC is appealing, the labels have not yet been added to the bottles.

Mr Adebo told the BBC: “Initially they were flexing their muscles, which dragged [out] the process. I went to court to compel Nafdac to do its duty.Soft drinks in Nigerian storeThe warnings have not yet appeared as the ruling is being challenged


“We shouldn’t have a product that is considered substandard in Europe.”

His viewpoint is echoed by many, angered that products considered unsafe for consumption in the UK are legal in Nigeria.

The case has prompted discussions about accepted standards in the country.

Although benzoic acid is widely used as an antibacterial and antifungal preservative in acidic foods and beverages to extend their shelf life, studies have shown that the chemical can cause health problems in certain circumstances.

‘Toxic’

A scientist based in Nigeria, who has dealings with Nafdac and asked to remain anonymous, says some human toxicity studies have shown that benzoic acid may react with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in soft drinks, forming benzene.

“While benzoic acid itself is relatively non-toxic, when benzene is formed in the presence of ascorbic acid in foods it is particularly dangerous, as benzene is widely known to be toxic and linked to many forms of cancer. These include leukaemia and other cancers of the blood,” the scientist said.

The secretary-general of the Nigerian Medical Association says it is impossible to make a judgement about acceptable levels of benzoic acid without conducting a local study looking at health implications over a long period of time.Passers-by walk past the Nigerian Bottling Company in LagosSoft drinks may need more preservative in hotter countries


Dr Yusuf Sununu Tanko says there are a number of examples where evaluations are different between countries because of differences in physical constitution, diet and environment.

“Each country has its own acceptable value of what is considered normal for what is fit for human consumption,” he says.

Nigeria’s health ministry published a statement in response to the public outcry, reassuring Nigerians that the drinks are safe for human consumption.

However, the ministry advises that medicines are taken with water to help “prevent unexpected drug-food interactions”.

Although the government has not spoken of enforcement, it “encourages” all bottling companies to include advisory warnings on all relevant products.

The Nigerian Bottling Company has appealed against the court ruling. It says the levels of benzoic acid in its soft drinks are “well within the levels approved” by both the national regulator and Codex Alimentarius, an international food standards body.

The company also says the ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverages are influenced by factors such as climate, with drinks in hotter countries needing higher levels of preservative.

It also says there was “no proven case of negligence” or finding that the company had breached its duty of care to consumers.

The government’s Consumer Protection Council has formally requested documents from the Nigerian Bottling Company ahead of an independent inquiry.

With an appeal in motion and a government inquiry under way, this case is far from over.


This story was written by Ijeoma Ndukwe and it was first published online by BBC Africa


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/BBC

Buhari, please stop this charade of war against corruption – Okey Ndibe

President Muhammadu Buhari should admit, today, not Continue reading “Buhari, please stop this charade of war against corruption – Okey Ndibe”

South Sudan refugee crisis: The shaking bridge between life and death

For three years South Sudan has Continue reading “South Sudan refugee crisis: The shaking bridge between life and death”

Queue in Nigeria state of Lagos

Can Buhari get Nigerians to be disciplined again?

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari famously ordered people to form neat queues as part of his 1980s “War Against Indiscipline”. Can he make Nigerians queue again?

Queue in Nigeria state of Lagos


During Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election campaign one of the tactics used by the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign was to remind voters of life under President Buhari when he was a military leader in the 1980s.

Pictures of Nigerians in long queues at banks and bus stops and people being whipped by soldiers imposing Gen Buhari’s so-called War Against Indiscipline were distributed in an effort to make him unelectable.

However, the anti-Buhari campaign had the opposite effect. Many Nigerians voted for him because of what they saw as his tough stance.

Thirty years after that war on indiscipline, President Buhari has unveiled a new version, this time with a toned-down name: “Change begins with me”.

Stamps and a badgeBadges and stamps from the 1980s campaign encouraged people to form an orderly queue, turn up on time and to stop corruption

According to the government, the programme is aimed at fighting “dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity” so that Nigerians can “embrace daily introspection over their ‘immoral’ conduct”.

During the launch of the campaign, President Buhari said: “Virtues like honesty, integrity, hard-work, punctuality, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, had given way to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity”.

Many Nigerians will agree with the government that indiscipline is rife in everyday life.

At supermarkets, banks, hospitals and cinema ticket halls, people are expected to queue for their turn to be served.

But there are always those Nigerians that will jump the queue, and shout obscenities at anyone who challenged them.

Often there will be chaos in the queues and only those who can shout and fight get their way.

In hospitals, attendants often take bribes from those who wish to bypass queues and they serve those who are willing to pay.

It’s not only queues that illustrate indiscipline in everyday life. Lateness, bad driving and dumping rubbish are all normal.

Lateness, excused as “African time”, is endemic in Nigeria.

Clocks on sale at a local market in Agege district in Lagos August 16, 2016.

Start times are seen as nothing but a number

If you get an invitation to a public event and a top government official is expected to attend, it is not worth being there on time.

If an event is said to start at 13:00, the best time to be there is 15:00 or later.

The perennial lateness of domestic flights is legendary: the boarding time on your printed ticket is not taken seriously, and your flight often leaves more than three hours later.

Nigerians are used to it and are shocked when a flight actually takes off as scheduled.

Then there is rubbish.

In many places in Nigeria you might see dustbins perpetually empty. This is because people throw rubbish wherever they like.

Rubbish on the roadSigns are ignored

Often, you will get strange looks if you ask for a rubbish bin to drop banana peel – from someone who thinks nothing of throwing the peel on the street.

Toilet manners aren’t much better.

Some Nigerians lack the self-respect to use the right facilities and use them correctly.

Recently, a picture was widely circulated online of a man urinating by the side of the road next to a bold police notice saying “Do Not Urinate Here”.

Picture of Instagram post on urinatingNIYIADISA

The situation is worse on the roads where people drive with impunity and ignore traffic signs.

In fact, people who observe the traffic rules put your life in danger.

Driving an expensive car is a licence to use your mobile phone while driving. The policeman is afraid of the big man.

If you survive a car crash in Nigeria, you should not celebrate too soon.

Pedestrians shop at a market in Lagos, Nigeria on 20 June 2016It’s rare to obey traffic laws

Here’s how it’s likely to play out: You will be writhing in pain from your injuries, the police will arrive at the scene and you might be asked to pay for petrol for the police car to take you to the nearest hospital.

A police station should be a place for the public to be reassured of government’s protection.

Instead they are dens of corruption.

If you want to report a crime, you had better have a paper and pen for the officers to fill in their forms. A bribe will also help make sure your case is investigated.

You will also need the money to buy your freedom from the police when they arrest you on trumped-up charges.

Corruption is a way of life. In many government offices you have to pay bribe to get things done, such as renewing identity documents like passports or driving licences.

The cycle of corruption is so familiar to Nigerians that when there’s a fire in a government office, people conclude that someone must have set the building on fire to eliminate the evidence of corruption.

I can’t list all the problems in Nigeria, and they are many, but Mr Buhari will need more than a slogan to begin to take them on.

Grey line

Buhari’s wars against indiscipline in quotes

  • 1983: “While corruption and indiscipline have been associated with our state of under-development, these two evils in our body politic have attained unprecedented height in the past few years.”
  • 2016: “The long-cherished and time honoured, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have given way in the main to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.”
Grey line

His challenge is that he’s trying to fight a system that has entrenched distrust between Nigerians and their leaders.

The public’s unenthusiastic reaction to President Buhari’s latest plan for making the country disciplined again shows what he’s up against.

While few Nigerians would deny that indiscipline is a big problem, many used social media to ridicule and criticise the plans.

Many think that he should start with his government in making the changes he wants to see in Nigerians. They say he should reduce waste of public resources.

They point to his 10 presidential planes, the unchecked spending by state governors and his inner circle who have been enriching themselves.

The discipline campaign might have worked in 1980s when Nigeria was still under military rule but it may be harder to discipline citizens under democratic rule.

This time, he cannot order soldiers to make civil servants who are late for work perform frog jumps in public.

Some believe the government should be talking about making food affordable, not forming a brigade to fight indiscipline.

 

Obiora Udechukwu: Honoring Genius, Moral Integrity By Okey Ndibe

Last Friday, my wife and I traveled from New York City to Canton, upstate New York State, the location of St. Lawrence University.

udechukwu-obiora
Obioria Udechukwu

We were fortunate to be invited to take part in a series of events to celebrate fifty years of Obiora Udechukwu’s extraordinary artistic career.

Udechukwu is primarily an artist—one whose output over five decades has been at once prodigious and consistently outstanding. Yet, to characterize his profession in the way I have just done is, I fear, to obscure the nature and scope of his intellectual and creative engagements. For, as I told the audience at St. Lawrence, the man is a Renaissance in the broadest sense of that word, a scholar whose versatility is evident in his work as a painter, poet, and scholar both of art history and literature. One of the marvelous treats of the celebration was to hear two of the poets read from Udechukwu’s book, “What the Madman Said,” a poetic collection of startling images and crystalline lines.   

The events themselves—a retrospective exhibit of Udechukwu’s outstanding work; an impressive keynote lecture by Chika Okeke-Agulu, Udechukwu’s former student who now teaches at Princeton; readings by several poets and novelists; and a traditional Igbo dance—were affecting and elegantly achieved, each event an orchestration of Udechukwu’s stature as a giant in the field of visual arts, a man of penetrating insight and reach. Yet, remarkable as they were, the formal events seemed to me far from the most meaningful aspect of the celebration.

What moved me more was the way in which the celebration of Udechukwu’s work became an occasion for those of us gathered at St. Lawrence University to reflect on the drama of Nigeria’s desultory odyssey.

There was something instructive—I could say even magical—about the gathering. You could gauge the celebrant’s mettle by the number and quality of people who turned out to honor him. There were his former students, some of the most skilled artists and art scholars of their age: among them, Tayo Adenaike, Olu Oguibe, and Chika Okeke-Agulu. Adenaike happened to be visiting the US, and eagerly accepted Udechukwu’s invitation to come for the celebration. In fact, he arrived a few days early to give talks to Udechukwu’s art students.

The poet, Uche Nduka, spoke with palpable joy about the delight of seeing some of his friends for the first time in more than twenty years. Ijele Anozie, another of Udechukwu’s former students, traveled with her son and daughter from Dallas, TX, to perform a traditional dance. Nduka Otiono, like me an admirer of Udechukwu’s work as a scholar, artist and social conscience, drove with his wife from Ottawa, Canada to moderate the evening of readings in honor of the celebrant. Akin Adesokan, a novelist, poet and professor of comparative literature at Indiana University, focused on Udechukwu’s personal magnificence, his legendary generosity, his insistence on treating everybody with gracious consideration. Moments after we arrived at the guesthouse where we stayed, my wife and I got a taste of the specialness of the man Udechukwu. An American woman, who lived next door to the guesthouse, engaged us in conversation. On learning we were in town for the university’s celebration of Udechukwu’s work, she voiced her admiration for the man. She had graduated from St. Lawrence University, a science student, but she had talked to Udechukwu just before she traveled to Kenya for research work. She remarked on his warmth, the ease of his person.

Speaker after speaker testified to how powerfully Udechukwu’s work as artist, scholar and teacher shaped their own development as artist, scholar or teacher. They also pointed to the celebrant’s moral courage, his distaste for injustice, and his stubborn fidelity to noble principles even in the face of threats from power-drunk and diabolical forces. His academic career in Nigeria was marked by his struggles against overreaching, amoral power. Such battles leave scars, including the truncation of his otherwise stellar academic career at UNN.

OKEY NDIBE
OKEY NDIBE

Udechukwu first came to St. Lawrence University twenty years ago. The original plan was that he would spend a year or two as a visiting professor and then return to his post at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. It was a time of considerable upheaval in Nigeria’s academe. At the time, General Sani Abacha was at the helm, doing his best to misrule Nigeria. The dictator had little use for academics and their dogon turenchi (their penchant for long-winded language). To curb academics’ excesses and teach them who was in charge, the general appointed a sole administrator to run UNN.

Udechukwu and other likeminded professors resisted the effort to reduce their university to the equivalent of a barracks, a space where scholars first and foremost called to obedience. Under the military ethos, scholarly activities were viewed with suspicion, and scholars who nursed notions of operating without hindrance were particularly targeted. Udechukwu was one of the most visible of these resisters.

Of course, the military and their minions were in no mood to countenance dissent. Udechukwu and a few of his colleagues were arrested on trumped up charges, and charged before a tribunal.

This absurd ordeal was playing out in his life when St. Lawrence sought him out to assume a visiting professorship. It is one of those sad stories that recur in Nigeria: a narrative of mediocrities hounding some of the country’s noblest citizens and most enlightened minds—chasing them, as it were, into the embrace of countries that recognize and celebrate talent and accomplishment.

Despite the heroic effort of some academics, there’s no question that Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions are today a shadow of their former selves. The reason for that disheartening state of affairs is rather complex, a subject that demands more than the space of this column. But I have no doubt that a central part of the story has to do with what happened to Professor Udechukwu and others like him.

As we spoke and sang and danced last week in honor of Udechukwu, I could not shake off from my mind this sense of a shadow hovering ever so obliquely over this moment of exultation. What did it mean that a major American university would for twenty years treasure a man that the forces that run—and ruin—Nigeria were in a haste to cast away? Let’s forget for the moment Udechukwu’s stalwart accomplishments as an artist, poet and scholar. I propose that we look, instead, at the extraordinary profile of the students he once mentored at Nsukka—Adenaike, Oguibe, Okeke-Agulu. Imagine all the Okeke-Agulus, Oguibes and Adenaikes lost to Nigeria, a country deeply hostile to excellence, wedded to the veneration of the vilest among its citizens.

For me, the ultimate takeaway from taking part in, witnessing, the adulation of Udechukwu was this: that the last word belongs, not to the greedy ones who make a fetish of conspicuous consumption, but to men and women of honor and talent who labor every day to enrich their fellows, to make the world a more beautiful place. Through his visual art, poetry, scholarship and social engagements, Udechukwu has inspired countless people. I salute an essential scholar, a graceful and dignified human: Obiora nwa Udechukwu!

Please follow me on twitter @okeyndibe


This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist. 

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Women and children at the Marrah Mountains in Darfur in western Sudan.

Report: the forgotten mountain people of Darfur

Thanks to technology and social media, an average person today sees dozens of pictures daily without giving much thought to them. I was flipping through pictures online a few months ago when one image stopped my finger in midair.

Women and children at the Marrah Mountains in Darfur in western Sudan.
Women and children at the Marrah Mountains in Darfur in western Sudan. Photo: Andriane Ohanesian

It is of a cave full of people in a mountain side, with light beaming in from the cave entrance revealing smouldering red coal from cooking fires.

The image is by Nairobi-based American photojournalist Adriane Ohanesian.

“I wanted to be there when the people were waking up,” said Ohanesian of the haunting picture.

A conflict region

She took the picture deep in the Marrah Mountains in the heart of Darfur, a conflict region in western Sudan, the land of the Fur people. “Dar” means “land” in Arabic and “fur” is the name of the ethnic group inhabiting the land.

“It’s an area nobody can get to easily.” Yet she did.

For years, no United Nations agency or international journalist had been granted permission by the government in Khartoum to visit the region. It has remained volatile and off the tourist map for almost a decade.

“What is known is Darfur from 10 years ago,” she said, referring to the “Save Darfur” movement in the US a decade ago when she first heard of Darfur. Back then the main concern was modern day slavery. There were stories of the dark-skinned Fur people being captured and “sold” into slavery by pro-government Arab militia.

“A lot of people thought that the conflict had ended but the truth is that it had escalated,” she explained, adding, “I knew I wanted to get to these mountains because nobody had been there in the past five years. There was no information coming out and I wanted to know what was happening.”

The kindness

It took three years of planning with a Dutch journalist to figure out how to get to the rebel-controlled area. A dangerous journey by no means. “It was about making the right connections. The rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) controls the mountains that I was trying to get to.”

Ohanesian’s curiosity about Darfur and the conflict there was stirred by young Sudanese students she met in Cairo in 2010 while visiting her friend in the city.

“They were inviting and hospitable. It was such a big contrast between the kindness of the Darfurians and the image I had of the conflict there and how the Sudanese government was intent on setting communities against each other.

The cycle of violence in Darfur has been described as “the Arab apartheid” with the pro-government Arab communities attacking the “dark-skinned” communities.

Ohanesian’s opinion is that “It’s a strategy to create conflict and keep the people occupied through fighting. It’s about control of resources by suppressing people.”

In the course of planning her journey into Darfur’s Marrah Mountains, Ohanesian had a rendezvous with Abdul Wahid Mohamed el-Nur, the SLA rebel leader and an ethnic Fur.

A law degree

Educated at the University of Khartoum, Wahid graduated in 1995 with a law degree and worked as a lawyer. In June 1992, he and others, while still at the University of Khartoum, created the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and took up arms against Khartoum.

After three years of planning, Ohanesian and the Dutch journalist flew to Chad in 2015 where the plan was to cross into Darfur.

“The rebel group led by Wahid held the area at this time, and we had the support of his forces.” Ohanesian said this was the most frightening part of the journey — crossing the border into Darfur.

The government was bombing the area day and night.

“We drove up in an old beat-up car before dark and into the desert. The next morning we were picked up by the rebel forces.

Bullet cases

“There’s just sand everywhere, no roads and only water from riverbeds. We were driving in the desert through abandoned farms, ruins of villages that had been attacked and you could tell the more recent attacks because of the burnt possessions — clothes, frames of beds, human and animal bones, smashed pottery and bullet cases.”

Of the collection of pictures of the journey, she points out one of a lifeless hand, fingers partially curled – effects of rigor mortis — lying in the sand. “That hand was of a government soldier. The rebels won’t bury the enemy but carry their dead away for burial,” she was told by the SLM/A forces.

Their destination was the Marrah Mountains which she said, “was the only area under the control of rebel fighters, so it was where civilians had fled to for safety.”

Safe to continue

It was a long and dangerous journey. At some point, the group was forced to wait under a tree for a week until it was safe to continue. Communication with cellphones is impossible since the government has cut the signal off, unless of course, one has a satellite phone.

Finally they arrived at the mountains, and they had to leave the vehicles and walk for two days, 10-12 hours a day, into the depths of the mountains. “Most of the walking was at night because it is cooler while the days are scorching hot.

“The cave was in the centre of the mountains. We had walked for 10 hours to the base of the mountain but to reach the cave was another three-hour climb up a cliff. It’s the most physically demanding thing I have ever done,” she recalled.

At 3.30am on March 2, 2015 they headed up to the cave. “I wanted to be there when the people were waking up in the morning, lighting fires, preparing breakfast. There were 200 to 300 people in the cave.”

The haunting picture of a cave in western Sudan’s Marrah Mountains where the Fur people now live. PHOTO | ADRIANE OHANESIAN


The haunting picture of the people in the cave was taken on that first day. Some had not seen a foreign person in five years, some never.

There were mostly women and girls; some had been raped by government soldiers and had fled to shelter in the cave because the government had also bombed their villages in the valleys. The men were away fighting the infamous pro-government militia, the janjaweed.

Ohanesian spent the morning in the cave. “The people couldn’t go out much because of the bombings. The valleys in the mountains are green and the people grow food like potatoes to sustain themselves.

“The mountains are beautiful. One old man told us of the trade the communities used to do with the closest main towns. They were farmers and kept livestock. They took their produce to town and the old man remembered the first time he saw road blocks. It was in 2003.”

It was the start of the Darfur war.

Fighter jets

Ohanesian said: “The people of the mountains had among them soldiers who had obviously seen too much war and killings, children who made army tanks and Antonov bombers out of clay. Children who could barely walk knew the sounds of fighter jets and guns.”

Attention to the Darfur genocide began with reports by Amnesty International and International Crisis Group in 2003. But the widespread media coverage only followed when the outgoing United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, called Darfur the “world’s greatest humanitarian crisis” in March 2004.

The rebel groups in Darfur are not fighting for independence unlike was the case in South Sudan. They want representation in the government and to be treated as equal citizens in Sudan, with basic human rights and dignity.

There is no government-developed infrastructure in western Sudan, where the Darfur is. No healthcare, no schools, no water supply. They are neglected by the government.

According to Ohanesian, there are few options for the internally displaced in Darfur.

Younger soldiers

They can stay where they are and get killed; flee to a refugee camp in Chad — which is a hostile country — or go to a refugee camp in government-controlled areas — which is basically going to live under the control of people who attacked you in the first place.

“Some of the older men living in the mountains have been fighting for a decade for what they deem is their right. The younger soldiers were in their 20s when the fighting broke out in Darfur and they remember government forces burning their villages. I met one young man who grew up in refugee camps and then joined the rebel group,” Ohanesian said of the Darfur fighters.

“I wanted to bring out information from a place where nobody had been to in many years,” she said.

Her journey into Darfur was motivated by the drive to seek the truth and as a photojournalist, to document and provide information on the conflict there.

Her pictures and story of Darfur have appeared in Time and in British, Dutch, French and German media.

“Since January 2016, most of the places I was in have been taken over by government forces. Many villages have been burned, and the people have moved farther into the mountains and many more just don’t know where they are,” she said.

Change begins with all of us By Joe Igbokwe

The ‘CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME’ campaigns kickstarted by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is being misunderstood as if the President is shifting the Change he promised to the doorsteps of Nigerians. Continue reading “Change begins with all of us By Joe Igbokwe”

Opinion: 2018: long walk, long wait for change – Bayo Oluwasanmi

The Vice-President of Nigeria,Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law and a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) combined irrational argument with evangelical exhortation in the classic preacher fashion that true change would come in the year of our Lord Twenty Thousand and Eighteen. Continue reading “Opinion: 2018: long walk, long wait for change – Bayo Oluwasanmi”

Nigerian National Assembly: the madhouse of a nation – Elias Ozikpu

It is a disturbing irony that Nigerian lawmakers, besides their knack for Continue reading “Nigerian National Assembly: the madhouse of a nation – Elias Ozikpu”

Opinion: Before the EFCC is taken to the Golgotha over Fayose – Kabir Akingbolu

Recently, the media, both print and electronic, has been a washed by Continue reading “Opinion: Before the EFCC is taken to the Golgotha over Fayose – Kabir Akingbolu”

The Panama Papers And A Country Suffering From Acute Lethargy – Kwesi Baako

Once again, that lackluster response that greets almost every important issue that is not directly ‘bread and butter’ showed its face when the ‘Panama Papers’ surfaced this week. Ghanaians once again reacted as if it was just another ordinary story. I do not blame us entirely, after all, hadn’t John Addo Kufour, eldest son of Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufour been in the news in the not so distant past for activities that at best slightly embarrassed his father, the then President of Ghana? So why should there be a loud “wow” over a case of corruption concerning someone who had been in and out of a high profile corruption case.

John Agyekum Kufour’s eldest son found in Panama Papers

Come to think of it, how has the term John Kufour walked out of a case in which he was allegedly fronting for his father to buy a hotel in the plush areas of the capital, close to his private residence.

But is that enough reason to be so adamant to such a huge disclosure?

According to the Panama Papers, John and his mother; former First Lady Theresa Kufour jointly controlled a $75,000 (66,000 euros) offshore account in Panama and appointed Mossack-Fonseca, the Panamanian holding company to manage what has been called the Excel Trust. So far, no criminal or illegal activity has been pinned to the door of the Excel Trust or even to John Addo Kufour. Again, $75,000 for a family that had made their substance before J.A. Kufour became president, doesn’t sound that outrageous (My Nigerian friends will tell you that).

Thus it would not be fair to even suggest impropriety on the part of former President Kufour, his wife Theresa, his son John, or their organization the Excel Trust at this point. However, beyond the pointing of fingers does this not sound a bell that should at least get us wondering what politicians and their families do with not just the people’s money but their trust too?

Does it worry anyone that the son of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also been named in the Panama Papers albeit he (like John Kufour) not being held up for anything illegal. (PS: Holding offshore account is not illegal in itself, but how they are used can easily be).

In 2007 when the then President John Kufour championed the introduction of offshore banking in the country, it was well received and acclaimed. I wonder how many business people took or are still taking advantage of it or if it is only being taken advantage of by the ‘high and mighty’ in the world of politics and its tributaries. I particularly take note of how well placed someone like John Addo Kuffour or Kojo Annan would be to take advantage of the benefits. Were they influential in the introduction and the tireless work that went into its realization in the first place?

So when politicians speak of equal opportunity amidst conditions where the children of those at the pinnacle of policy making and implementation are the ones who end up getting the first foot in. When they assemble in parliament to share the national cake in such a lop-sided way without much consideration for the folks who sponsored them to their respective seats, it leaves that indelible mark that has earned politics the nickname ‘dirty game’.

I wonder how Alfred Agbesi Woyome is (if at all) dealing with these offshore entities; how he had actually received millions of dollars in what at the time seemed like legitimate payments from judgment debts owed him by the state, while workers went on strike for their basic salaries. I wonder how Ibrahim Mahama is positioned to take advantage of these opportunities and others while the Ghanaian worker goes unpaid for months on end; when infrastructure suffers because of gross mismanagement and barefaced corruption.

Ghanaian governments have for decades had a field day granting the opposition and the people their say while they go on gleefully having their way. Some have suggested that too much power has been vested in the presidency and this seems to be the problem. While exploring that thesis, what seems more apparent is the lethargy exhibited by the opposition on certain vital issues.

Instead of it being a major campaign issue, the same tired arguments of why the government should be changed or maintained will form the crux of this year’s electioneering.

I observe with much amusement as the Ghanaian media gloss over the matter, reprinting what has been published on many sites around the world and leaving it at that. I have not heard an outcry, or an attempt to probe the matter any further. I cannot fathom how politicians from across the divide will point fingers at each other when the accusation would turn round to bite them in the bum. Thus, the selective ignoring and the attendant ‘amnesia’ sets in. Woyome goes through the ‘radio trial’ and comes out guilty but free.

On parliamentary remunerations, we have experienced not once those rare occasions where the 2 sides of the political divide chorus along like tanked-up bacchants sawing off huge chunks of the national cake for themselves, damn how it affects national development.

This may yet be just a more complex case of such a ‘scratch-my-back-let-me-scratch-yours” relationship. There will be no outcry because the answer the National Democratic Congress (NDC) gave to the question of the President’s family owning property is so strikingly similar to the one the New Patriotic Party (NPP) gave when it was in power. There will be no media banter on the subject because the party structures will not instruct their ‘Communicators’ to go on radio to kick a rumpus, knowing it could have a boomerang effect. There will be demonstrations because the ‘triggers and levers’ that control the process where lots of people sometimes without real knowledge of the issue will be remote controlled to march in the streets with red bands will not be activated. ‘All-die-be-die’ will not be invoked. ‘Yentie obiaa’ will for once be disregarded; considered ‘Lazy Man’s Talk’.

The so-called elites who should champion the process to curb the misuse of authority and such legal facades (at least as is being employed) as offshore banking are the ones busy profiting from it, it seems; or sending friends and family to do so… legally.

I believe the time is long due for a critical look at the structures on which our constitution is based and check if they are working, especially in the  interest of those on whose blood,  sweat and toil the foundations of the country is built.


The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Bloom Gist. 

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