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Posts tagged ‘Burundi’

Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.

By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Boko Haram Kill 14 in Borno, Lose Seven Mujahideen In Gombe.

By SaharaReporters, New York

Sect members of Boko Haram on Thursday night up to Friday morning killed about 14 persons in Damboa, Borno State and burnt many houses in the area.

The sect, according to a security operative that pleaded anonymity, stormed Damboa in different style and headed to various directions.

According to the source, “Some of them went to Police facility; another group headed to military formations, and the last group went about attacking the civilian populace and burning houses.

“This is what happened it just caused confusion and they left with a deadly impact. But we repelled them in our own end and the police did same too.

“They came in convoy and successfully escaped; some were on bikes that were banned and the rest in cars. This is what happened, but if not the fact that we repelled them, the impact would have been far more serious ”

Another source in Maiduguri who sent an email said several people were injured and many others missing, and that search could only happen when military reinforcement fully arrives in view of the fact that residents are afraid to embark upon a search and rescue with the militants lurking in the background.

However, while the Boko Haram sect appeared to have triumphed in Damboa, Borno state, in Gombe town, the sect had seven mujahideen killed in a gun battle with members of police and the military.

A military source in Gombe confirmed that the gun battle occurred on Thursday night running into Friday morning in an area called ‘Burundi’ in Gombe town.

The source told Saharareporters that  security agents are in custody of dead bodies of sect members and also recovered several arms from militants, the source added that many other sects fled with gun wounds.

Burundi to get 68 mln euros in EU aid to boost power supply.

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) – The European Union will give Burundi 68 million euros to be used to improve electricity generation and transmission in rural areas to improve food production in the tinycentral African country, an EU official said on Friday.

International donors will fund 49 percent of Burundi’s 2013 budget of 1.3 trillion francs. While the government fears that global economic and financial troubles could reduce external aid, it expects to receive grants worth 645.3 billion francs this year against 523.2 billion francs in 2012.

European Union’s commissioner for development, Andris Piebalgs said that of the aid announced on Friday., 50 million euros will go toward rural electrification and developing small and medium hydro power plants to benefit around one million people living in rural areas.

“There can be no development without energy and, unfortunately the energy situation in Burundi remains one of the worst in the world, with daily power cuts being experienced by most people, he told a news conference at the end of a two-day visit to Burundi.

Only 3.5 percent of people in Burundi have access to electricity while demand for it grows by 13 percent every year.

Piebalgs said another 18 million euro to help the coffee producing nation improving food security for 80,000 undernourished children.



IMF extends $7.6 mln credit to boost Burundi economy.

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released about $7.6 million toBurundi in the latest part of an ongoing credit facility to boost the country’s flagging economy.

The IMF says real gross domestic product growth in the central African country that relies on coffee and tea for 85 percent of its exports is estimated to have decelerated to 4 percent in 2012.

“Lower liquidity within the banking system contributed to a slowdown in growth in credit to the private sector,” the IMF said in a statement on Thursday.

The central African government predicts the economy will grow 6.6 percent this year, up from an estimated 4.7 percent in 2012. The IMF did not give its own estimate for 2012 growth.

The IMF was in the country for a review of Burundi‘s performance under the programme supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The new facility had brought aid under the arrangement to a total of about $15.3 million, the IMF said.

Burundi’s franc fell 14.3 percent against the dollar in 2012, the central bank reported last week.

Inflation peaked at 25.3 percent in March 2012 before declining sharply to 7.6 percent in January, owing in part to tight monetary policy and the temporary removal of taxes on food products.

The IMF said it expected growth of economic activities to rebound and that inflation would continue to ease owing to lower international food and fuel prices.



World Bank gives Tanzania $100 mln for transport project.

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – The World Bank has approved an extra $100 million for Tanzania to finance a public transport project aimed at reducing traffic jams in the country’s commercial capital,Dar es Salaam.

The new funding brings the total cost of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system in east Africa’s second-biggest economy to $290 million.

“Traffic jams are a significant problem for the economy. They reduce productivity … threaten future growth prospects for the city and the country, and they pollute the environment,” Philippe Dongier,World Bank’s country Director for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi, said in a statement.

Dar es Salaam, with a population of around 3 million, has been choking with traffic jams but the country hopes the transit system will cut travel time by using dedicated lanes.

The lender said the new transport system under construction will replace around 1,800 privately-owned commuter mini buses and create 80,000 jobs.

“The BRT system will be operated by a $40.9 million public private partnership (PPP) arrangement with two private bus operators, one fare collector and a fund manager,” said the World Bank.

The 20.9 km network will serve around 300,000 commuters daily.

The nation of 42 million people is among Africa’s biggest per capita aid recipients. In its 2012/13 (July-June) budget of 15.12 trillion shillings, Tanzania says it is expecting to receive 3.16 trillion shillings through grants and concessional loans.



Burundi coffee earnings rise 46 pct in November.

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) – Burundi‘s coffee revenues rose 46 percent in November from the previous month on higher prices and export volumes, the country’s industry regulator said on Friday.

The country earned $5.7 million from the sale of 1,671,638 kg versus $3.9 million it earned in October from the export of 1,205,919 kg.

“Coffee farmers were asked to produce Arabica beans of highest quality following an uncertain world market. This resulted in the selling in November of an important quantity of speciality brands, boosting earnings,” regulator ARFIC said in its monthly report.

ARFIC predicts revenues for the 2012/13 crop will inch up to $61.4 million from $61.2 million earned in the 2011/12 season.

Projected good harvests by top global producers like Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, could lead to a drop in coffee prices on global markets, the Burundian regulator said.

Coffee is the country’s top foreign exchange earner and the commodity provides a livelihood for 800,000 smallholder farmers in a nation of 8 million people.



Burundi gets $2 billion aid pledge, U.N. says.

GENEVA (Reuters) – Donors have pledged more than $2 billion for Burundi‘s 2012-2015development strategy to help the central African nation rebuild after civil war, the United Nationssaid on Tuesday.

“We ended up with more than $2 billion registered commitments at the conference,” Pamphile Muderega of the National Aid Coordination Committee said in a statement.

“This represents a doubling of our already optimistic expectations,” he said.

The statement was issued by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) at the end of two days of talks in Geneva, attended by more than 400 representatives from more than 50 governments and the private sector as well as the European UnionWorld Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank.

The World Bank pledged $440 million, and the United States and EU made firm commitments, UNDP spokesman Adam Rogers said.

Burundi’s poverty-reduction strategy focuses on growth, job creation and development of the private sector, with agribusiness, tourism and mining seen as key drivers of growth.

The government has projected this year’s growth at around 4 percent. It relies heavily on external aid to fund spending with donors expected to provide 60 percent of its 2012 budget.

Burundi expects its economy to expand by 5 percent annually over the next three to four years, below the rate needed to lift it out of poverty, finance minister Tabu Abdallah said in an interview with Reuters in Bujumbura last week.

With relative peace since rebels joined the government in 2009 after almost two decades of civil war, it is now working to quit the list of least developed countries and to start self-financing its national budget by 2025.

“Burundi is now out of the post-conflict period and is truly committed to the path of development,” President Pierre Nkurunziza said in the UNDP statement.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Roddy and Jason Webb)



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