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Posts tagged ‘African Union’

Boko Haram: Military Leadership Underserves President And Junior Soldiers.


By Abiodun Ladepo

“Gunmen from Islamist sect Boko Haram killed 51 people in an attack on a town in northeast Nigeria…in a region where President Goodluck Jonathan’s troops are struggling to contain its insurgency.  Dozens of Boko Haram fighters speeding along in trucks painted in military colours and armed with automatic weapons and explosives stormed Konduga local government area in Borno state at around 4 p.m. on…burning houses and shooting fleeing villagers…The insurgents also took 20 young girls from a local college hostage…The military confirmed the attack took place but said it was still assessing the number of casualties.”

The above was the lead paragraph in a Reuters’s story published a couple of days ago.  The story’s screaming headline was: “Nigeria’s Boko Haram kill 51 in northeast attack.”   Before this headline, there had been many such screaming headlines published by different media: “Gunmen kill 22 in Nigeria church attack: Witnesses”; “Attacks by extremists kill about 75 Nigerians”; “Nigerian gunmen attack toll reaches 85”; “Nigerian Muslim Cleric Opposed to Boko Haram Shot Dead.”  And we can go on and on quoting screaming headlines that have assailed our ears since gunmen first laid siege to northern Nigeria.  Does anybody even pay any attention to these headlines anymore?  Anybody…the Federal government, the military, and the rest of us not directly affected by the carnage…do we pay any attention to these headlines anymore?  Could it be that we don’t pay attention to these headlines because they have apparently screamed themselves hoarse?  Or have we all just become inured to (and inoculated against) their potency?

But probably the one headline that should have bothered Nigerians the most was this from ThisDay newspaper: “Five Aircraft Razed as Boko Haram Attacks Maiduguri.”  The paper reported on 03 December 2013 that the president was so perturbed by the brazen and gory nature of the attack that he called an emergency meeting of the Security Council.  Erstwhile Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, (now CDS) along with National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) were in attendance.  Soon after that meeting, the Air Force launched a few air sorties in the area, dropping a few bombs on what it thought were the enemies.  Many of the bombs were so erratic they missed their targets by kilometers.  Some hit “friendly forces” while others landed in open fields.  The attacking insurgents disappeared into thin air almost effortlessly and our military retreated back to their barracks claiming what later amounted to nothing but Pyrrhic victory – the fact that it successfully drove the attackers away.

Drove the attackers away?  That was part of the bragging statements issued by the Army as it went on a shameless victory lap around the mangled corpses of Nigerian Soldiers and the bloods of civilians, including those of innocent women and children, now mostly Muslims.  It used to be that these attackers targeted Christians and their churches; and because of that, we attributed their attacks to part of Boko Haram’s quest to Islamize the whole of Nigeria.  For a considerable length of time now, these attacks have been launched against Nigerians irrespective of religion, sect, age, ethnicity and gender.  Commonsense should, by now, inform the collective wisdom of our highest military echelon to consider the possibility that these are probably no longer the original Boko Haram adherents we were fighting.

Our military “drove the attackers away”, turned around and came back home?  And we are satisfied with that?  What is wrong in following the attackers to whatever hole from where they came – Cameroon, Chad, or Niger – and finishing them off there?  What is wrong in following the attackers, capturing those we can capture and bringing them back to our bases for interrogation?  Believe me, if we subject these Prisoners of Wars (POWs) to internationally sanctioned interrogation techniques – those authorized by relevant Geneva Conventions articles and guaranteed to preserve the rights and dignity of the POWs – we will obtain actionable intelligence from them that would aid in our execution of this war.  Instead, we allowed the attackers to retreat and re-group so they can fight us another day.  We tucked our tails between our legs, scampered back to our bases and declared victory.  And a few weeks later, the commander whose Air Force Base was so ravaged – Alex Badeh; the one whose subordinate personnel’s wives were carted away by the enemies in that bold attack, was rewarded with promotion to Chief of Defense Staff.

None of the senators who screened Badeh for the appointment had the good conscience to ask him where he was when the attack on the base occurred; what policies he had in place, as then Chief of Air Staff, to forestall the breach of his bases, and what policies he had since put in place to prevent another such attack.  If the senators (led by David Mark, himself a former senior military officer) had had the gumption to ask the tough questions, they would have learned, for instance, that the Nigerian military is languishing in archaic war fighting equipment and doctrine.  They would have learned that our Air Force did not have something as simple as up-to-date maps of our own country – maps which would have come in handy when trying to locate the enemy’s possible fortresses; maps showing all of our man-made and natural terrains that the enemies and our forces could use for cover, concealment and mobility.  The senators would have found out that our Air Force had very limited serviceable and air-worthy fighter aircraft.  They would have learned that because of the paucity of aircraft, only very few of our fighter pilots are well-trained in their jobs.  And those who have the training may not even retain much of these perishable flying-and-fighting skills due to lack of regular sustainment training.  Our senators would have learned that our Army still carries around moribund and often malfunctioning personal and crew-served weapons; that they move around in dilapidated Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs); that our Soldiers regularly run out of ammunition, petrol, food and other essential items in the middle of firefights.  Our senators would have found out to their utter chagrins the nauseating fact that we are sometimes late in paying our Soldiers’ combat and deployment allowances; and that when they die in combat, we take forever in paying their gratuities to their families, thereby keeping morale at the lowest ebb.

Our senators might also have learned that our senior military officers do not understand the difference between conventional war (country vs. country) and Counter-Insurgencies (COIN) (country vs. insurgency) war.  And what they do not know, they could not teach to their subordinates or supervise.  The senators would have learned that we have probably been fighting an armed insurrection or an armed unconventional invasion (assuming these attackers are from neighboring Cameroon, Chad, or Niger) with the tools needed to fight a conventional war.  Had our senators done their due diligence, they would have learned that our military and our intelligence agencies, especially the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), lack the technical knowhow to emplace and employ ground/aerial, static/mobile, human/electronic intelligence collection capabilities that would greatly complement the efforts of our gallant Soldiers.  (For example, we acquired for surveillance a couple of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as Drones.  But with what and whom are we coordinating the images we receive from these Drones?)  Gallantry without effective fighting weaponry is nothing but suicide.  Only when our Soldiers encounter unarmed civilians do their egos swell to match their menacing muscles.  When faced with well-motivated hooded insurgents wielding Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers and vehicle-mounted 60mm machine guns, our soldiers scamper for cover.  Had the senators asked the right questions, they would have known that without motivating and empowering our Soldiers with modern, up-to-date equipment, quality training, and rewarding pay, it is as if we have consistently tied their fighting hands behind their backs and sent them to battle to die.

This low-level war with insurgents has exposed the systemic rot in our military and we should wake up to our responsibilities.  Unless we are deluding ourselves, Nigeria may not survive a full-blown invasion from one of its neighboring countries.  At the minimum, we would suffer great losses in the hands of a determined foe.  Ordinary bands of rag-tag fighters probe and infiltrate our borders at will (daytime, nighttime and evenings); they conduct successful attacks and then successfully retreat with minimal casualties.  A few days later, they repeat the attacks with slight changes to their modus operandi, throwing our soldiers into confusion.  Haba!  These are textbook basic offensive tactics that have continued to make mincemeat of our so-called dreaded military.  And any Nigerian Soldier worth his or her salt should be embarrassed to no end by this.

If we eschew politics, Goodluck Jonathan has no blame in this whatsoever.  Because he was dissatisfied with their performances (and rightfully so) he sacked Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika.  To make it a clean sweep, he also sacked the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba.  While Badeh replaced Ibrahim, Ihejirika, and Ezeoba were replaced by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and Rear Adm. Jibrin Usman respectively.  Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu slid into Badeh’s old seat as the Air Force’s Chief of Staff.

That is all one could expect of a civilian Commander-in-Chief – reinvigorating the military at the top with fresh hands in the expectation that the new appointees will inject the Force with a new sense of purpose, direction and motivation.  Jonathan should not be expected to understand the minutiae of military Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs).  In fact, he is probably as angry and as surprised as the rest of us that we have not beaten this insurgency scourge.  Jonathan can only understand and approve what the military brasses put before him.  And anyone with a scintilla of expertise in advanced military operations, not just rudimentary knowledge of how the military conducts successful operations, should know that the succession of military brasses have not served Jonathan well.  They appear to me to have become either too obtuse and/or too impervious to designing radical changes to their TTPs.

So, as a matter of urgency, Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh should begin to earn his rank and salary by immediately setting up for himself a Command Post (CP) in Maiduguri and temporarily move his office there.  If anything, this would signal to all his subordinate commanders that he means business and it is no longer business as usual.  This is war and it should be treated as such.  It would also boost the junior Soldiers’ morale to knowing their overall boss is on the battlefield with them, not ensconced in Abuja drinking pepper soup.  Badeh will now be able to see up-close what his Soldiers are facing and can effectively assess what they need in order to win the war.  When he orders them to face death, he would be doing so with moral authority, not just rank authority.  Badeh will see firsthand how a typical fellow Nigerian in Konduga lives his or her daily life and can then report same to Jonathan.  Badeh will be able to go to the National Assembly (NASS) and to Jonathan to make a good argument why Nigeria needs to recruit more Soldiers.  He would be able to convince the NASS to increase the defense budget, allowing for training in modern warfare, equipment, remunerations and emoluments for its personnel.

Finally, Jonathan will then be able to inform (not seek permission from) the leaders of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic; the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), that henceforth, Nigeria would deal decisively with anybody or group of persons that violates its territorial integrity.  Jonathan will mandate Badeh and his entire military leadership to employ the Powell Doctrine of maximum force each time any part of Nigeria is attacked.  And, of course, with credible and actionable intelligence, superior equipment and a motivated military, Nigeria will meet its threat of lethal force with precision and deadly overwhelming delivery.  This will serve as an effective deterrence to would be aggressors and fomenters or anarchy.  This practice of watching whole families slaughtered in cold blood; of survivors gnashing their teeth, wailing and throwing themselves on the ground; and of our military and politicians throwing up their hands in total helplessness will then come to an end.  And we would have our country back.

Abiodun Ladepo                                                                                                                           Los Angeles, California, USA                                                                                   Oluyole2@yahoo.com.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Schizophrenia As Mandela’s Final Caution By Chika Ezeanya.


 

Chika Ezeanya
Columnist:

Dr. Chika Ezeanya

A petrified world watched as Thamsanqa Jantjie jabbed incoherent fists in the air by way of signing to deaf viewers during the Nelson Mandela Memorial. Signing with a countenance molded out of Plaster-of-Paris, deaf people and all conversant with sign language knew – within five seconds – that the man was grossly out of line. Mr. Jantjie would later blame schizophrenia for his bewildering behavior. He insists he is very well qualified for what he does for a living and has interpreted in many high profile international conferences with world leaders in attendance. His schizophrenic attack came upon him suddenly on that day, he stated; as soon as he mounted the podium, he began to hear voices inside his head.

In his formal apology to deaf associations across the world, Mr. Jantjie said, “I am on treatment for schizophrenia… Sometimes I will see things chasing me”. Mr. Jantjie’s sudden attack of schizophrenia might as well be said to be a final word from Madiba on the last remaining hurdle for Africa to overcome toward setting itself on the path to authentic and sustained advancement. In Africa’s parliaments, presidential palaces, classrooms, boardrooms, and living rooms, Africans hear voices of other peoples, nations and continents telling them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Just like Mr. Janjtjie stood in front of millions of people all over the world and acted out his schizophrenia, so do African governments, intellectuals, business people, students, teachers and parents stand before a petrified world and do the bidding of the United States, Europe, China, the World Bank, IMF and others. The world looks at Africa and wonders what is wrong with the continent, why Africa can’t stand up and act for itself, and do the right thing. But Africa appears to be compelled by the will and wish of others to act out of tune with what is expected of it. The World Bank and IMF, oftentimes poorly informed about the continent’s realities, draft ill-fitting economic policies, which African governments implement as is.  European countries especially the former colonial powers remain strongly in charge of much of the economic situation of their former colonies. China arrived Africa with a bang. It has so far built a ‘befitting’ headquarters for the African Union in Addis Ababa and several presidential palaces for African presidents, in exchange for near-unhindered access to the continent’s natural resources and manufactured goods markets.

Many years after colonialism, several Africans still hear the voices of the colonial masters in their head, urging them to dislike their neighboring ethnic groups.  Schizophrenia makes the African continue to look at his African neighbor from another ethnic nationality with disdain and hatred, magnifying his weaknesses and minimizing his strengths. The exact same way the colonial governments wanted it to be, in order to ensure that the ethnic groups did not unite to topple the colonial order. The embers of the colonial voices are presently fanned by corrupt politicians who need to build on ethnic solidarity to fill their empty political tanks.  Many Africans who have not had meaningful interactions with other ethnicities within their countries voice deep-seated and deep-felt  disregard for these other groups. That is schizophrenia. The voices that speak in the heads of Africans against their neighbors date years back and continue till today. That is why it is the easiest thing for other continents to enter Africa and exploit the people. The energy that Africans should invest in building up is invested in tearing down one another.

It is schizophrenia that makes the African cheat himself, his fellow citizens and his nation through bribery and corruption. In his head, he still believes that the government belongs to the white people and it is not his personal business to ensure its progress. Indeed, in several African languages, civil or public service is still literally translated as “white man’s job”. Africans hear the voices of the former colonial masters in their heads, forcing them to work for Her or His Imperial Majesty. It is therefore, very easy for a Halliburton to connive with Nigerian government workers to deprive the country of billions of dollars in tax revenue. The country, in the head of the Nigerian, still does not belong to him.

Schizophrenia has stopped African governments from overhauling the academic curricula across Africa’s primary, post-primary and tertiary institutions to better reflect Africa’s challenges. More than 50 years after several African countries obtained their Independence, most of the big industries and mineral exploring companies in Africa are still owned by non-Africans. What are African children learning in school if not to manage their own resources? It is schizophrenia that makes the most mineral rich continent dependent on the world for its daily sustenance. The colonial masters ensured that the continent did not imbibe the principles of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. That education in Africa prepared the African to serve as clerk, secretary or at best personal assistant to the colonial chief executive. Many years after the end of colonialism, even at the informal and non-formal levels, academic conversations and curriculum do not reflect the need to create something new or build up on the existing. Incomprehensible ethnic divisions still plague Africa’s social space, but very few students in Africa are taught Social Psychology, a course that is well equipped to address social differences through explaining its origins and how it should be handled for every body’s benefits. Unfortunately, from kindergarten to the Ph.D. level, education in Africa is mostly founded on utopia, a chasing after other people’s ideals and aspirations to the detriment of the continent’s own needs. How schizophrenic.

It is schizophrenia that makes the African want to copy as much western culture as possible without understanding the philosophy behind it. That is why an African is quick to show that he speaks with a western accent, but pleads African time with the same western accent. What is there to be proud of about not keeping to one’s word or keeping to time? If one is proud of speaking with western accent and identifying with western culture then s/he ought to be proud to identify with such positive western values as well. Schizophrenia makes present day Africans rob their children of their mother-tongue in the name of progress. While Indians, Chinese and the rest of the non-English speaking world export Africa’s resources with only a smattering of English language, the African perpetuates self-hatred and a disdain for everything African in his child by restricting him to a language that is not generated from his environmental realities.

In his lifetime, Nelson Mandela sought to free South Africa from the clutches of those who spoke words in the ears of his African brethren. Those who forcefully, and using the state and diplomatic machinery sought to overtly direct the African’s thoughts, words and actions. When apartheid finally ended, the bureaucratic machinery supporting the voices ceased, but the voices did not stop speaking in the heads of South Africans, just like in the heads of other colonized Africans. Since colonial times, when the butt of a gun for mild rebellions, and bullets for the serious ones, were used to mentally reprogram Africans into submissiveness, succeeding generations through their parents and grand-parents continue to hear the commanding voices of all pale skinned mortals in their sub-conscious. If it comes from pale skin and straight hair, then it must be obeyed. The skin and hair can come from the East or from the West, it can speak any language, it matters not. The Marikana killings, the corruption that is the ANC led government and the sharp division between the rich and poor South Africans speaks to this. The continued struggle for speedy growth and advancement across Africa bears witness. The voices speaking in the ears of South Africans and Africans are no longer overt but now covert. It has been disrobed of its legitimate use of physical force, but its emotional and mental force over the actions of Africans still persists.

Nelson Mandela did his best by giving his life to break down the last strongholds of legitimate oppression in Africa. It is now in the hand of every informed African, who desires to honor the memory of Madiba to begin to take urgent steps to wean himself of schizophrenia, of hearing the voices of the erstwhile colonial masters and apartheid regime from deciding his thoughts, words and actions.  Africans themselves, as individuals and within their individual capacities in the continent are the real and authentic vehicle for the continent’s advancement. In the words of Nelson Mandela’s comrade Steve Biko, whose life was cut short in his prime by the apartheid regime, “The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.” (We Blacks, I Write What I Like, 1978). Mahatma Ghandi’s famous saying, be the change you want to see in the world is most apt for every African who wishes to rid himself or herself of the voices that plague the continent. In medical sciences, schizophrenia can only be treated with the active participation of the patient, its treatment is not an outside-in approach, neither is it a sickness that lends itself to a top-down treatment method. It is the same with Africa and Africans. The continent can only advance when Africans decide and learn how to shun external voices and distractions, and instead focus on building up themselves based on what is endogenously African. If Africans truly want to immortalize Madiba, then the continent must henceforth begin to imbibe his greatest attributes which is freedom from external and internal oppression, peace with one’s innermost self and neighbors, and progress in every imaginable area of life.

You may like Dr. Chika Ezeanya on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chikaforafrica

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Senator Ken Nnamani Nigeria must step up war against corruption.


 

Senator-Ken-Nnamani

Members of the National Steering Committee of the African Peer Review Mechanism led by former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani visited Vanguard Media‘s head office, Lagos, recently, and interacted with senior editors on the mileage Nigeria has recorded in human index compared to her 36 peers on the African continent. The team had Professor Adele Jinadu, Professor Ben Amgbe, Mrs Yemisi Ransome-Kuti and Dr Fidelis Ugbo among others as members. With a mandate to carry out an unbiased all-inclusive evaluation and self assessment of Nigeria’s democracy and political governance, socio-economic development and corporate governance, the team, which has been on the job for five years said it is not all thumbs down for Nigeria.

Speaking on why the team visited Vanguard and the need for the media to back the APRM process, Nnamani said the mechanism is aimed at enhancing and entrenching good governance in the continent by reviewing four thematic areas: democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, Socio economic development and Corporate Governance.
His words: “Those are the four areas constituting the acceptable standard for evaluating how well our democracy is moving and how well the people are benefiting from the dividends of democracy and intangible things like elections, freedom of speech and while you (Vanguard) are here, nobody is coming to shut your doors because of what you have said in the papers as long as it is within the ambit of the law.

“So those four thematic areas are the areas being used to evaluate good governance in Nigeria and our role as members of the National Steering Committee is to oversee or supervise the process. One of the elements is household opinion survey.
The committee’s mandate is to make sure that we carry out an unbiased all inclusive evaluation, self assessment of our democracy and other four areas I already mentioned.”

There’s cause for cheer — Nnamani
On comments that there is nothing to review in the country because infrastructure is poor and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) crisis in which the G-7 governors were not allowed to meet was hurting freedom of association, Senator Nnamani said he was not going to hold brief for the Inspector General of Police on the issue of not allowing people to meet. However, he noted that people should not overstretch the issue of freedom. “My fear is that if we excessively talk about freedom will we allow people commit suicide because they are free to take rope and tie around their neck and kill themselves?
We must be very careful how we try to make it sound like Nigeria is now a police state because I am not aware that Nigerians are been barred from holding meetings unless you have a specific case. There is freedom of speech and association as long as you have a level playing field and you are given equal chance to make your point; that is my own understanding of justice.”

He continued: “On the issue of your saying that you don’t see what the people are coming to peer-review, ‘peer’ means they are equals. As heads of state, if they come they have something to talk about. In Nigeria, everybody now enjoys communication (phone). It might not be efficient because at times if you are talking the thing goes off, there is no perfection and perfection is an unrealistic standard by which you can judge. It is not proper if we say there is nothing to peer-review and that they are coming to do nothing.
If you go to other African countries and some other countries even outside the African continent you’ll find out that Nigeria while we have enormous problems there is no question about that, we are doing well in certain areas.
“On freedom of speech, yes our act is not functioning properly but the fact that you are writing and expressing your opinion on daily basis, no person charges you to court, no person tells you why must you write this or come and lock up your gate is part of dividends of democracy that we are enjoying. There are not many places you can enjoy that. There are some areas where we have made progress even though I agree with you to a large extent that in some areas we have shown retrogression, we have not gone forward at all. But regardless of what you are doing you still gather together to talk and look at events and say maybe we should have gone this way, we should have gone the other way, that is what peer-review is about.

Why APRM is necessary —Jinadu
Professor Jinadu gave the context the APRM arose, which he traced to the legacy of military rule, one party rule, single dominant party rule, etc since African countries gained independence in the 1960s and various international covenants on democracy and human rights.
In reacting to that, he said, the African Union said there was need to define the principles of governance away from political centralization and to improve on the means of managing diversity.
“It is in these contexts that a number of African leaders notably our own ex president Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdulahi Wade of Senegal Thambo Mbeki of South Africa, etc conceived the idea of the African Peer Review Mechanism as a voluntary device which countries that feel like will be bound by the principles and the process enunciated in the APRM memorandum of understanding. Nigeria has been very prominent, in fact the memorandum was signed in Abuja and as of now about 37 Africa countries have acceded voluntarily to the APRM and over 25 per cent of the population of Africa and 17 of the 37 countries have been peer reviewed and what that means is that they’ve gone through a series of processes beginning with what is called country self assessment in terms of the various indices in the APRM MOU for corporate governance, socio economic developments, economic management, and democratic governance.
“The clear review dimension of it is really at the level of the heads of state and government of the member states of the APRM, which is called the APRM forum. The forum meets twice a year on the side lines of the African Union meetings to consider reports from countries that have been peer reviewed.

This is followed by a country review mission sent from the APRM secretariat in Johannesburg to go round the country to talk with stake holders about the state of governance in the four areas.
“Now, the country review mission submits a report to the APRM forum in terms of what their findings and recommendations are. All the heads of state meet as a group at this level and consider that country’s report, make comments and advise the country on how to move governance ahead.
The country responds and after every six months the country is expected to report back to the APRM forum on how far it had gone in meeting the recommendations of the country review report and the National Programme of Action. The national programme of action is like a road map of what will be done to improve governance in the country.

“So, the basic issue here is that the APRM tries to redefine governance in terms of a partnership between various stake holders and non- state stakeholders like civil society
organizations, the private sector, community-based organisations and individual citizens.
“Under the democracy and political governance thematic area there are seven objectives namely: human rights, constitutional government, competitive politics, women rights, children rights, youth rights, and rights of the physically disabled.
Under the socio economic development thematic area we are looking at issues relating to the millennium development goals basically provision of infrastructures, human security issues, etc. Nigeria was peer reviewed in 2008 and it is supposed to be done every four years, so it’s the next one now that we are in.”

Why we do peer-review — Ugbo
Expatiating on the importance of APRM, Dr Fidelis Ugbo said: “We peer-review because we believe that they are best practices within African continent which we do not need to go and look for elsewhere. If we have best practices that are going on in any African country, other African countries will like to share, that is the essence of the peer review.

How it operates
“Key performance indicators are set which are like guidelines which countries review in assessing where they are in terms of security, economic governance, human rights, etc.
If the country tells the entire African nations that this is what we have achieved in terms of economic governance, security, economic development, infrastructure, etc, a team will be sent to verify all the claims.
After the verification exercise we’ll begin to know the best things that we can pick from every country of Africa and recommend to other African countries to apply in the process of implementing their own programmes.
“Nigeria has made substantial progress in terms of economic governance. Yes, we have security challenges but it’s not only in Nigeria it is all over other African countries but we are making good efforts to put in place structures to check some of these threats to our democracy.
So we believe that Nigeria is ready we have a lot of best practices we can sell to other African countries and we look forward that.
When the peer review team arrives Nigeria next year they will be able to find a few things they can tell other African countries. We might not be there but we are making progress in terms of achieving the targets set by the APRM council.

On the progress Nigeria has made since the 2008 review
He said Nigeria seems to have made substantial progress in area of allowing people to make choice on who will lead them. We have not done so well fighting corruption it’s still one of the challenges facing the country and I am sure there are other areas where we have made substantial gains.
Contributing, Mrs Ransome-Kuti said: “Nigeria has made some progress even though we feel uncomfortable with the level of development because we believe we should have done better given our capacity, human resource and the leadership role we play both in the continent and outside.

So we don’t feel very comfortable saying we are doing well in a lot of things but coming from where we were during the military rule, we think we feel a lot more comfortable that we are beginning to taste the benefits of democracy in that we have the FOI Act in place, we have more freedom of speech, we have the elections and there has been a decree of growth in economic activities not just with the GDP but in terms of the privatization processes that we have undergone.
“We are beginning to privatise electricity. I know there may be contrary opinions on the process but there is obvious improvement in power and some other sectors and the SME sector is also beginning to feel the impact of the reforms in the banking sector. In all the socio and economic indicators, I think we have done better than we were doing before. However, we still have a long way to go.”

How we’re getting reliable data
On whether the reports of the APRM are reliable giving the difficulty of getting accurate data in Nigeria, the team said APRM was doing its best on that score.
“That is a fair question; in many African countries data are not up to date. But as researchers we have other means of supplementing and certifying our facts. There is also a qualitative dimension to this, it is not just about figures, it is just about human beings.

BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & Kelechi Azubuke.

Source: Radio Biafra.

World AIDS Day; Pix Appear Of Zuma’s Swanky Estate; Ghana Former First Lady Warns Of Western Education.


 

By Global Information Network (GIN)

Nov. 26 (GIN) – South Africa will mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 with a full palette of music – from the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra to the New Apostolic Church Cape Choir – at the Artscape Opera House in Western Cape. Hope Maimane of the Waterfront Theatre College will offer a dance recital.

While some statistics are improving, AIDS activists warn that belt-tightening in western countries may erase these hard-won gains.

“More HIV-positive people are living longer [in Kenya as a result of HIV treatment], so we are clearly moving in the right direction,” said Peter Cherutich, head of prevention at the National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Program.

But with over 80 percent of Kenya’s HIV programs depending on foreign funds, progress is unsustainable.

“In the event they stop funding these programs,” said Cherutich, “they would draw back the gains that have so far been realized.”

According to the advocacy group ONE, 16 sub-Saharan countries have reached the “beginning of the end of AIDS” – a point when the number of new HIV infections is lower than the number of new patients receiving AIDS treatment in the same year.

Sadly, African governments have been shortchanging vital health programs even after pledging to set aside at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to healthcare by 2015. Only 6 countries – Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia – have met the target. Five other countries are spending at least 13 percent of their annual budgets on health, according to data compiled by the UN World Health Organization

A quarter of African Union member-states are now spending less on health than they were in 2001.

Paradoxically, one of Africa’s richest nations had one of the worst records for new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. In Angola, new HIV cases were up 47% – from 19,000 in 2011 to 28,000 in 2012. AIDS-related deaths rose from 8,400 in 2001 to 13,000 in 2012. Drug treatment for adults and children was also very low. Less than one quarter of eligible children and less than half of adults had access to treatment in 2012 under 2010 guidelines from the World Health Organization.

After a meeting with UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe, Angolan President Jose dos Santos pledged that no baby would be born with HIV by 2015 and that every Angolan living with HIV would have access to treatment. “Angola still has a long road ahead to overcome the HIV epidemic,” he admitted, “but we will do it together.”

PROHIBITED PICTURES OF ZUMA’S SWANKY HOME LAND ON PAGE ONE

Nov. 26 (GIN) – A defiant national press corps braved threats from South Africa’s security ministry to photograph the President’s rural homestead where recent upgrades of $205 million rand ($20 million U.S.) were raising eyebrows in the region.

Nkandla, the country estate of President Jacob Zuma, was reportedly refurbished with public monies in the name of security. Upgrades included a bunker, twin helicopter landing pads, an athletics track, basketball court, and artificial turf soccer field. The property is approximately a mile wide.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele warned the press against taking pictures: “It’s against the law. We are asking nicely that people no longer do it.”

But the warning failed to scare off the legions of reporting staff. Speaking for the South African National Editors’ Forum, Adriaan Basson disputed claims that Zuma’s house was now a “national key point” similar to the Parliament and the Union Buildings.

“These upgrades were done to President Zuma’s private residence and not state property,” countered Basson in an open letter. “We will continue to publish images of the Nkandla upgrades because to stop doing so will be a betrayal of our duty as watchdogs of democracy.”

The media dust-up could have consequences in the upcoming by-elections this week taking place in 22 wards in eight provinces. The ANC hopes to hold on to key districts that could be leaning toward the opposition Democratic Alliance or the Pan Africanist Congress, among others.

Issues of income inequality, now symbolized by Zuma’s lavish estate, are looming large for ordinary South Africans whose income is stuck at low numbers.

Meanwhile, local area newspapers placed the exploding brouhaha on page one. “Look Away – What ministers don’t want you to see” was The Star’s headline, while The Times defiantly stated: “So, arrest us”. The Cape Times displayed “The picture the state does not want you to see” and The Cape Argus ran a similar headline over a picture of Zuma’s homestead.

On social media, Facebook users updated their cover photos with an image of the Nkandla residence. Activist Zackie Achmat on Twitter wrote: “Break unjust laws. Share #Nkandla photo.” Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos tweeted “Is there a single person who still believes Nkandla upgrade is about security? Father Christmas is waiting for your letter.”

An investigation by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog on possible inflated costs is due to be released shortly.

FORMER FIRST LADY WARNS OF ‘SEEDS OF DEPENDENCY’ IN WESTERN EDUCATION 

Nov. 26 (GIN) – In a speech that examined the growing role for women in a rising Africa, Ghana’s former first lady also called for a critical look at formal western education.

Mme. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, wife of former president Jerry Rawlings, and head of the 31st December Women’s Movement, delivered her remarks last week at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, in Glendale, Arizona.

On the topic “Development, Politics and National Government – Impact on African Women,” she recalled her work “as an African woman who has spent her last 30 years working on behalf of our nation’s women and children at the grassroots.”

“Women are 51% of Africa’s 1 billion people and they make up the majority of its poor,” she noted. “Those living in isolated rural communities are not yet part of the good news story.

“Together with children, these women often suffer the most, especially in times of crisis and unrest. For the masses of women, Africa is Rising – but slowly and unevenly – and unfortunately many women are not rising with it.

Mme. Nana Konadu then highlighted efforts being made to ensure that education is inclusive, that teachers are gender sensitive and curricula relevant to girls’ aspirations because: “From our experience in Africa, we have been more aware than ever that education can be a tool for subjugation.

“Indeed our dilemma has been that formal western education, while containing crucial elements for keeping us in touch with rapid technological and economic developments, which control the shape of international relationships, also bears the seeds of disempowerment and dependency.

“As the continent becomes more prosperous and more attractive to the outside world, our challenge – and the challenge of our national governments – is to address continuing inequality so that all Africans, including those living in isolated rural communities, fragile states and poor urban areas, are able to benefit from economic prosperity.”

“It is up to us, the women of Africa, to share the responsibility for actions needed to end poverty—first in our homes, then in our communities and, ultimately, throughout our nations, one woman at a time.”  w/pix of Mms. Nana Konadu

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

President Jonathan Misses Investor’s Council Meeting After Falling Ill, Checks Into London Hospital.


By SaharaReporters, New York

President Goodluck Jonathan has checked into a hospital in London

Mr. Jonathan, who travelled to the United Kingdom for a meeting of Nigeria’s Honorary International Investors’ Council, “became indisposed,” spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement, “and could not be present at the opening of the meeting today.”

The statement added that Mr. Jonathan was examined by competent medical practitioners who advised him to rest for a few days.

“The Presidency wishes to assure all Nigerians that President Jonathan’s condition is nothing serious and that the medical attention he has sought is only precautionary,” Mr. Abati said.

Participants at the Investor’s Council meeting at Hilton Hotel in London said they became worried when Mr. Jonathan failed to show up during a scheduled opening speech at the packed event paid for by the Nigerian government.  Lady Linda Chalker later anchored the event without Mr. Jonathan.

A presidency source however told Saharareporters that there was heavy birthday party thrown to celebrate the President’s 56th birthday at his Presidential suite in the InterContinental Hotel in London that lasted till early this morning. It could not be ascertained if Mr. Jonathan drank too much at the party.

It would be recalled that last year in Addis Ababa, Mr. Jonathan failed to show up to give his scheduled address at the 50th anniversary of the African Union.

On a previous visit to London, he also checked into a hospital.

Crises have slowed down economic development – Jonathan.


 

President-Goodluck-Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, lamented that the crises in some parts of the country has slowed down economic development. He stated this while being presented with the 2013 Africa Peace Award from the United Religions Initiatives URI, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. According to the president, internal stability is essential for the development of the country saying that, “there can be no meaningful economic development where people are fighting.”

Jonathan said: “Even when countries are fighting at the end of the day they will still come to the dialogue table to resolve. Problems could hardly be resolved through the barrel of the gun. Even if you have the most sophisticated weapon to fight, you will still come to negotiate otherwise you can never live in peace.

“If you go to the Southern part of this country you hear about kidnapping and if you go to the North you have the issue of Boko Haram. For us to develop our country we must all embrace peace. There is no way the government can perform magic when the people are shooting guns, because economic growth and development is in the hands of the private sector.”

The President added: “There cannot be economic development without peace. For you to develop economically there must be peace and political stability. So the leadership of African Union and ECOWAS have changed and we believe that we must help ourselves and help our states and govern our states the way it should be governed. If there are crisis we should intervene and that has been helping us significantly.”

The president who dedicated the award to Nigerians promised that he will continue to focus on providing the enabling environment in the country for businesses to thrive.

He said: “This award is dedicated to my people and my country Nigeria. We couldn’t have been qualified for this award if my people did not encourage me. In Nigeria God has given us that unique privilege to be fairly more robust than some of our African countries and we are one of the African countries that the whole work look up to, to assist in one way or the other. So this award is for Nigeria and not for Goodluck Jonathan.

“We would continue to do our best. For me as an individual, I will continue to play my role in spite of the challenges. Let me use this unique opportunity to call on all Nigerians and all the people of the world to embrace peace. You cannot talk about development when you are fighting,” the President emphasised.

The Regional Director of URI, Ambassador Mussie Hailu while presenting the award to the president said it was in recognition of President Jonathan’s immense contributions to religious harmony in Nigeria and peace keeping operation under the United Nations.

According to him, “we have been following with great interest the great role the President play in his country, West Africa and Africa as a whole since he took office as President of Nigeria. We commend his leadership qualities in West African sub region in particular as ECOWAS Chairman and also lauded the current transformation agenda of his administration.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Protesters To Storm Aviation Ministry To Demand Minister’s Removal Over BMW Scandal.


By SaharaReporters, New York

After the Anti-Corruption Network (ACN) today met with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to submit a petition requesting a thorough probe of Aviation Minister Stella Oduah over her purchase of two armored BMW 760 Li cars worth $1.6 million, Dino Melaye, a former member of the House of Representatives, now leader of ACN, told Saharareporters that his group will storm the ministry on Wednesday to ask for the minister’s removal.

Mr. Melaye also revealed that the minister has squandered another sum of $100 million from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) funds.

He said the planned protest will start with a convergence at the federal secretariat in Abuja. The protest will then mobilize Nigerians to oust the minister from office.

Mrs. Oduah last August forced a cash strapped agency under her supervision to purchase two armored car BMW cars for her use.

After SaharaReporters revealed the deal, the Minister’s media aide, Joe Obi, claimed that she bought the vehicles because she faced threats from interests in the aviation sector purportedly opposed to her reformation agenda.

However, the executive director of ACN said findings from the police and security agencies in Nigeria show that Mrs. Oduah never filed any complaint about any threat to her life. He further disclosed that the NCAA was not the statutory agency responsible for transporting VIPs traveling in Nigeria, saying that it was the duty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the assistance of the diplomatic protection unit of the Nigerian police.

Melaye gave several instances of purchase of vehicles for visiting VIPs that did not include scandalous purchase or use of armored vehicles citing the transportation of head of States of the Commonwealth as an example, where he said Messrs Coshcaris Motors Limited provided BMWs to the federal government during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo that were not armored to convey heads of governments of the commonwealth of nations 2003.

He also noted that recently, African Union officials were transported in Abuja using Peugeot 607 vehicles that were not armored.

Challenging the NCAA to reveal the source of the funds used in buying the vehicles, Melaye said everything involving the purchase was criminal and violated Nigeria’s appropriation laws and due process.

He therefore called on Nigerians to join the ACN massively on Wednesday to force the minister out of office.  All those willing to participate are to contact either Dino Melaye on 08033146905; Ebenezer Oyetakin or 08037861193, or email dinomelaye@yahoo.com

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