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Posts tagged ‘Economic Community of West African States’

APC’s visit to Obasanjo: Soyinka Utters End Of Nigeria, Likened It To A Shipwreck.



Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday faulted the visit of All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders to former President Olusegun Obasanjo last Saturday warning that Nigeria was heading for a shipwreck with such political romance.In his statement, titled: “Shipwreck Ahead”, Professor Soyinka cautioned that Nigeria would need rescue operations if the APC intends to court Obasanjo to serve as a navigator for the ship of the state.According to Soyinka’s short statement, “an APC-led group, we understand, has been paying courtesy visits to former Heads of States. Would it be correct to state that their purpose is captured in the following Mission Statement? ‘Tinubu added that the APC had resolved to rescue Nigeria, appealing to Obasanjo to lead the mission. We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you as navigator,’ he said.”Soyinka, then added: “If this attribution is correct, may I urge you, as an urgent public service, to advise families to begin the stockpiling of life-belts for the guaranteed crash. Don’t forget to alert the coastguards—ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), AU (African Union), UNO (United Nations Organization) etc, to be on the alert for possible salvage operations. “If General Sani Abacha were alive today, would he also have been on the ship’s complement? As Captain perhaps?”Soyinka asked.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Nigeria Wins New Security Council Seat.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Nigeria will return to the United Nations Security Council in January 2014 for a two year term as a non-permanent member.  This follows a General Assembly election today.

Other elected Member States were Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Saudi Arabia which, along with Nigeria, obtained the required two-thirds majority of Member States present and voting in the 193-member Assembly.

They will join five non-permanent members which are already on the council: Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda, the terms of which will expire at the end of 2014.

The Security Council, which is made up of 15 members, has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The five permanent Council members, each of which holds veto power, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Nigeria’s election, which was really a formality given that she was endorsed by the African Union and by the Economic Community of West African States, came as a surprise to some observers in the country, as she had served in the council as recently as 2010-2011.

The new term, which begins on January 1, 2014, will end on December 31, 2015.

That Nigeria’s Quest For Membership of UNSC By Yushau Shuaib.

At 53 Nigeria has faced some challenges of nationhood, similar to what other great nations had or have faced. While one is concerned by the recurring disturbing and negative trends that dampen the spirit of writing positively about the country, Nigeria’s greatness is in its abundant human and material resources.
Having had the opportunity of traveling to some great countries, I am amazed by accomplishments of Nigerians who are highly regarded in various spheres of human endeavour. We are not unmindful of the fact that very few vagabonds among the citizens give the nation a bad name due to their corrupt tendencies and criminalities that, to some extent, exacerbate insecurity in the land.

Meanwhile, not minding what others will say about Nigeria’s quest to becoming a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the country has made positive impact in international diplomacy and peacekeeping operations. This argument was re-echoed by President Goodluck Jonathan when asked world leaders to support the country’s quest to be a member of the UNSC.

Speaking at the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, President Jonathan said Nigeria’s commendable performance on previous occasions when it held a non-permanent seat on the Security Council should assure the global community that the country deserved to be elected to the council again for the 2014-2015 session. He also called for faster action towards the democratisation of the Security Council as many countries are concerned about the lack of progress in the reformation of the United Nations.

A casual observer may not attach significant importance to the clamour for special seat at the United Nations, after all, only few countries call the shots in the global political arena in the United Nations in the name of Veto-Power.  The permanent members who have the veto power are America, Britain, China, France and Russia. They solely wield  the so-called “veto power”, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. With such power they can do anything no matter what other nations consider and propose.

The Permanent Members top the list of countries with the highest military expenditures as they spend an average of US$1 trillion combined annually on defense, accounting for large percentage of global military expenditures. They are largest arms exporters and the only nations officially recognised as “nuclear-weapon states” under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though there are other countries believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.

There is also G4 Nations of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil who are clamouring to become members too. Meanwhile two seats are to be reserved for Africa, where Nigeria is in contention with Egypt and South Africa for the coveted membership.

Apart from the five permanent members, there are ten non-permanent members, elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms who take turn at holding the presidency of the Security Council on a monthly basis.

Sentiments apart, Nigeria deserves the membership than any other African country because of its significant roles in global politics. It is the largest single contributor to UN global security engagements in Africa. It played greater roles in the ending colonialism in several African countries including Angola, Namibia, South-Africa, Zimbabwe and still remains the main force in the regional ECOWAS/Ecomog, which actively intervened in resolving and stabilising war-ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.

In addition Nigeria’s military have been deployed as peace keepers under UN and ECOWAS arrangements in former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Lebanon, Somalia, Iran-Iraq, East Timor, Dafur-Sudan, Congo and Sierra Leone and later Mali. In some of the foreign operations, Nigerian officers served as chiefs of defence in other countries or Command Officer-in-Charge of military operations.

The country has a unique and enviable demographic position, human and natural resources, which are brought to bear on sub-regional, continental and global affairs.  The country is Africa’s leading oil and gas producer and with population of over 170 million making it the most populous black nation on earth and seventh most populous country in the world. It is a plural society with multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity.

I believe Nigeria should adopt an appropriate strategy in pursuing the quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. Since it has received the endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), Nigeria should work with other regions for strategic alliances for the success of the campaign.

We have always being a big brother, this is the time for others to support our aspirations.

Yushau a. Shuaib
Finance Estate, Wuye


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

President Jonathan to UN Nigeria deserves UN Security Council seat.


President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday, in New York made a strong case for Nigeria‘s election to the United Nations Security Council, just as South African President, Jacob Zuma backed the Nigerian president‘s call for democratisation of the UN Security Council.

Addressing the world leaders and other delegates at the opening of the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, President Jonathan declared that Nigeria’s commendable performance on previous occasions when it held a non-permanent seat on the security council, should assure the global community that the country deserved to be elected to the council again for the 2014-2015 session.

“Our support for the United Nations Security Council in its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security has been total and unwavering.

“We have, in previous membership of the Council, demonstrated both the political will and capacity to engage in key responsibilities.

A statement by the President Adviser on Media, Dr Reuben Abati, quoted the President as saying, “I am pleased to state that Nigeria has received the endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union. We, therefore, urge this August Assembly to endorse Nigeria’s candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.”

Democratisation of Security Council members

The President also called for faster action towards the democratisation of the Security Council, saying that Nigeria and other developing countries were concerned about the lack of progress in the reformation of the United Nations.
President Jonmathan said: “I believe that I express the concern of many about the slow pace of effort and apparent lack of progress in the reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council. We believe strongly, that the call for democratization worldwide should not be for States only, but also, for International Organisations such as the United Nations.

“That is why we call for the democratization of the Security Council. This is desirable for the enthronement of justice, equity, and fairness; and also for the promotion of a sense of inclusiveness and balance in our world.”
Backing Jonathan’s call, South African President Jacob Zuma criticised the United Nations Security Council as ‘outdated’ and ‘undemocratic’ ahead of a world leaders’ meeting in New York, according to a report yesterday. The current Security Council “might have by now outlived its usefulness”, Zuma said at the UN.

Developing nations have called for reform of the Security Council, which has since World War II accorded veto rights on substantive resolutions to five permanent members, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China.
“You have a situation where those who possess the power of veto talk more war than peace,” Zuma told South African newsmen at the outset of the UN General Assembly meeting this week.

“You have a minority that has the last word and unfortunately is no longer helping. It is actually becoming part of the problem,” he said, decrying the Council’s actions over conflicts in Iraq and Libya over the past 10 years.
“As small countries we believe the arrangement is unfair, it is undemocratic, it’s not good any more.”

Terrorism threat to global peace, security

Noting that the world continues to be confronted with many serious challenges, President Jonathan called for a renewed and concerted effort by the international community to effectively resolve issues that currently impede global peace, stability and progress.

“Our world continues to be confronted by pressing problems and threats. No statement that will be made during this session can exhaust the extent of these problems. The world looks to us, as leaders, to provide hope in the midst of crisis, to provide guidance through difficult socio-political divisions, and to ensure that we live in a better world.

“We have obligations to the present generation, but we have a greater obligation to generations yet unborn who should one day inherit a world of sufficiency irrespective of the circumstances of their birth or where they reside on the globe. We must work to make that world a reality in recognition of our common heritage.

“We must dedicate ourselves to working together to address global, regional and national challenges and deliver a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous world for all. It is our duty. We must not fail”,” President Jonathan declared.

The President also restated his called for the international community to confront the menace of global terrorism with greater resolve and determination.

“Terrorism constitutes a major threat to global peace and security, and undermines the capacity for sustained development. In Nigeria, the threat of terrorism in a few States in the North Eastern part of our country has proven to be a major challenge to national stability. We are therefore confronting it with every resource at our disposal with due regard for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.

The reign of terror anywhere in the world is an assault on our collective humanity. Three days ago, the stark reality of this menace was again brought to the fore by the dastardly terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. We must stand together to win this war together,” President Jonathan said.

Jonathan reinstates commitment to MDGs

The President said there will be more commitment to millennium development goals by his administration.

“There have been several conflicts with devastating consequences in virtually all regions of the world, as global citizens; we have a sacred duty to free our world of wars, rivalries, ethnic conflicts and religious division.
“Our collective efforts in our drive for a better world will continue to bind us together”.

Realising the need to sustain peace in Nigeria beyond the year 2015, Jonathan said he is committed to building systems that will see that the conflicts and insecurity confronting the nation doesn’t pull it apart.

“Mr. President, Nigeria continues to support the efforts of the United Nations in addressing the global initiatives to combat the menace of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

“We have redoubled efforts to address this arduous challenge within our borders and across the West African sub-region. In doing so, we also recognised the need for a God-based global partnership in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy

“It is regrettable that these scourges are sustained by concerted assets by non-state actors to illicit small arms and light weapons with which they foster insecurity and instability across the continent

Arms Trade Treaty

“For us in Africa, these are the weapons of mass destruction; it is therefore in the light of our collective obligations and unseasoned struggle to end this nightmare that I congratulate member states on the adoption of the arms treaty in April this year

“Our hope is that, upon the entry into force, the arms treaty will herald an era of accountable trade in conventional arms, which is critical to the security of nations”

The President welcomed Nigeria’s selection as co-Chair of the United Nations Expert Committee on Financing Sustainable Development.

“The importance of this Committee’s assignment cannot be overstated. For the post-2015 development agenda to be realistic, it must be backed by a robust financing framework which I hope will receive the strong backing of our organisation’s more endowed members,” he said.

President Jonathan congratulated UN member-states on the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.

“Our hope is that upon its entry into force, the ATT would herald an era of accountable trade in conventional arms which is critical to the security of nations,” the President said.

Jonathan condemns use of chemical weapons in Syria

He condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in the Syrian crisis and welcomed current diplomatic efforts to avert a further escalation of the crisis in the country.

President Jonathan also urged world leaders to adopt measures and policies that will promote nuclear disarmament, protect and renew the world’s environment, and push towards an international system that is based on trust, mutual respect and shared goals.

Source: Radio Biafra.

The QreatifDave Blog: Nigerian Christians Employ Blackmail And Deception In Recruiting New Members- O’Seun Egghead Odewale.


O’Seun Egghead Odewale
By QreatifDave Blog

One of Nigeria‘s most prolific social media expert, Egghead Odewale bares his mind about religion, activism, social media and his beliefs as a humanist.

Q: Can you please give us a little of your family background?

A: I was born into a family of six. I’m the first of four children. My parents are not extremely religious people, but they are both Muslims and I think I can safely conclude that all my family members are Muslims, except me.

Q: Can you give us a brief background of your educational career, your student activism days, your career in the civil society and in the government?

A: I’ve been subtly active in students’ engagement and functions from my days at the polytechnic in Bida. Even though I didn’t contest for any political position, I was part of a core group of engineering students that rallied round candidates competing for various slots in the students’ union elections and candidates that were contesting elections at the faculty and departmental levels.

But I didn’t become openly active in student activism until my university days when I came into contact with friends and folks like Daniel Onjeh, Ibrahim Jimoh, Olayemi Oguntimehin and a couple of others. It was then I really began to dig deep into activism and student unionism.

I and my friends had an issue with the school authorities, and were suspended from academic engagement on campus for various lengths of school sessions.

During that period that we were out of school, I came into contact with some civil society actors who developed a liking for me and as such became my mentors. I got enmeshed in all of that for a couple of years until I got the opportunity to work as a contract staff for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Abuja.

It was during my work with ECOWAS, that one of mentors that I’d had earlier on, Dr Kayode Feyemi, called me to be part of his campaign to be the Governor of Ekiti State. It was after he was eventually declared winner and governor elect of Ekiti State that I fully went into government. He appointed me his Personal Assistant and Senior Special Assistant in the Governor’s Office.

After two years of service to him, I got a scholarship to do research on Governance and New Technology at the Harvard University, which I’m presently pursuing.

Q: What is Humanism all about?

I’ve at various points in time been involved with the activities of the Humanist Movement. It is all about humanizing; all about evoking and naturalising human relationships in such a way as to pursue the common good of the general public.

The humanist basically tries to seek a psychological, emotional, ecologically friendly, and if you like, cultural, good of the general public through different activities, attributes, attainments, commitments, and self-preservation that promotes a conscious awareness of the self-interest vis-a-vis the general interest of the public in any given society in such a way that the interests of any individual do not override the common interests of the general public.

Q: Is there any difference between Humanism, Agnosticism and Atheism?

I don’t think there is any significant variation in all of these. Actually, there are points of intersections. The Atheist does not believe in the existence of God, and does not believe that there is a supernatural being out there, the agnostic is not quite sure there is a Godhead or any sort of unseen deity, whereas the humanist could actually be in any of these folds.

But whereas the atheist or agnostic can form laws, rules or creeds that are actually tangential to the general good of the society, the humanist seeks to pursue creeds or deeds that promote the wellbeing of the generality of the public.

It doesn’t really matter what religion, belief systems, cultural systems etc; what mores, norms, that guide society; the humanists has a set of creed that speaks to what is perceived as promoting the general good of the public. I think that is the basic difference.

Also, humanists do not pursue any religious beliefs or any of the ‘standard’ or ‘traditional’ religious beliefs.

These three creeds intersect. You may have a humanist atheist or a humanist agnostic. However, not all agnostics or atheists are humanists.  Humanists can be atheists or agnostics in so far as they pursue creeds that promote the good of the general public.

Q: Can people of faith be humanists?

A: I believe one can. But I believe if you are a Christian and you want to be a humanist, you probably have subscribed to subsume some of those canonical laws that you already held divine under the humanist creed that promotes the good and wellbeing of the society.

For instance, if you are a Muslim, and there is a law prescribing amputation for someone who steals, humanism, promotes people’s right to life. You cannot take anybody’s life. So if your religion promotes capital punishment, there is a point of conflict there.

So as a humanist, you can still be a Christian and not subscribe to aspects of the Canonical Law that says that people should be killed for offences or apply Old Testament laws to judge post-New Testament sins in a particular society.

Q: How strong is the Humanist Movement in Nigeria in terms of numbers? Is the movement growing?

A: I wouldn’t say that the Humanist movement as a group is growing. But I can say for sure that it is a general or global trend.

People around the world are now shirking religious beliefs and tenets for individualism, self-consciousness, and a sort of religious self-determination. People are now able to consciously prescribe for themselves new norms, laws, and beliefs that they want to adhere to.

I see this happening in different places, crossing different demography in our society. Basically, I think it is something far beyond Nigeria. It is a global trend.

Having said that, it is important to note that as population grows, you also have a corresponding increase in the number of those who go to church or mosque or have that attachment to a religious belief or some supernatural being somewhere who helps them resolve their problems, patent or impractical.

Q: Nigeria is reputed to be the most religious country in the world. Has this religiosity had any impact in the politics, economy and the development of the nation?

A: I think this is a contestable assertion. It is contestable in the sense that the different ratios and empirical information that is available from other geographical entities [shows otherwise].

However, I think it is also dependent on the manner of religiosity that is under discussion here. So that needs to be properly nuanced to put it in context. From all of these, we can still extrapolate. Nigeria is said to have the fourth largest Islamic population, after India, Indonesia and Pakistan as well as a large population of Christians. There is almost 50-50% Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. Nonetheless, there are other smaller sects and religious groupings that are not necessarily Christianity or Islam. So you could have a religious people, but it depends on what kind of religiosity is being promoted in the different spaces that we have.

Q: According to some sources, at least 50% of Nigeria’s population are Christians. What is your impression of Nigerian Christians?

A: The population of Christians in Nigeria does not matter; neither does the population of Muslims to me.

What I see is both Christians and Muslims proselytising, trying to conscript folks who do not lean towards their religious alignment into their perception of what the society should look like.

In the same vein, I see a lot of deception. I see a lot of straightjacketing. I see a lot of peer pressure. In fact, there is a lot of blackmail adopted against those who are not “religious”.

So, in the whole cycle of trying to find solutions to the myriad of problems that not only bedevils the nation as an entity but also individuals at their different levels, we have individuals who believe that all the problems that they have confronted in life may be resolved by some kind of attachment, or commitment, to some supernatural being, that they don’t have access to, or cannot realize at any particular time.

They also have this sentimental longing for religious cleansing through those who are perceived to be appointed agents (clerics, on all sides of the divide) for this supernatural being that have been spoken about.

Again, there is no agreement within Christendom about the nature of this supernatural being that everybody is expected to worship under that umbrella. You see Catholics having variant religious modes of worship from the Anglican; the Orthodox contemplation is in contradiction with the Protestants and those who are moderate Christian followers.

Then you have Christendom pitted against Islam in many ways including in the means they try to reach this Godhead to which both profess obeisance.

The humanist sees all of these as confusion that makes people brainwashed into certain mindsets and colours of thinking that does not allow for some kind of rational reasoning, some form of imaginative or creative assessment of a particular problem with a bid to finding lasting and enduring solutions to such problems.

Rather than work out the solution to a particular problem, [Christians] subscribe to abdicate the solution to that problem to the Godhead that is believed to have all the power to solve that problem but they can only draw the benefits from the Godhead by providing certain incentives that makes him to see them as preferred recipients of auspicious divine intervention in any particular situation that beset them.

Q: What are the best things that Nigerian Christians have brought to the table in pursuance of the Nigerian Project?

A: I think the things that come out clearly for me is the charity and hope that the Church and Christendom bring to the table. I think the church has done remarkably well in that regard.

You can imagine a situation where the church is absent and that charity and the hope that things will be better through the intervention of the Godhead were to be absent. I can imagine the kind of chaos, the catastrophe into which the country could have been plunged.
But because we have the church, we have people who continue to hope their prayers, their supplications, their various spiritual and religious rites would one day be accepted and a magic wand or command statement would change the entire way in which things are done, that things happen in the country. That is a significant thing that Christendom has brought to national development.

Of course an extension of that charity is the fact that some churches offer opportunities, offer assistance to those who need it in the society. It reduces the pressure we would otherwise have on the society. Essentially, they offer solace and consolation from the myriads of troubles we face daily as a nation.

Q: The Nigerian Church perceives itself as the moral conscience of society. Do you think it is living up to that perception?

A: It depends on how the society is configured. I think there are lots of contradictions. A society that is secular cannot look up to the church as its compass.

A set of provisions as enshrined in the Constitution will determine what will become the reference point in terms of the moral direction for society to follow. Each society will definitely have its norms and mores that it follows within that context.

It is important to note that there are societies that are fluid in their regard, or alteration, of the Grundnorm. Where society is flexible and open to changes, it is easier to accommodate new voices, creeds, and ethos within its fold. But where a society is xenophobic, it is more difficult and depends on how these, usually foreign, religions are able to co-locate with either the individualistic tendencies within the society or the traditional local religions that is already in existence in that particular society.

Q: What are the things that put you off Nigerian Christianity?

A: As an individual, I have been tolerant of different religious beliefs. I wouldn’t say there is something particular that puts me off Nigerian Christianity. In fairness, Nigerian Christians have been quite nice. I’ll rather be tolerant of their views.

But one thing that worries me is the newfound inclination towards prosperity in Christendom.

The church itself is political. When you have two or three individuals communing, politics abound, even within the family. So the idea of political Christianity is not bad. If Christendom wants to get involved in politics for the purpose of protecting the group interest of its members, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Q: Most people I’ve spoken to want to know what Humanists think about life after death, abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, divorce and capital punishment. What are your thoughts on these issues?

A: I don’t believe in life after death. I believe when I die, I die, I go into the ground, I decay and go back into the earth.

Personally, I don’t support abortion, but I don’t deride or judge those who do.

I am indifferent about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They really don’t affect me so I’m indifferent about them.

I am a staunch advocate of divorce. If the marriage is not working, I see no reason why two people should magnet each other permanently because the society expects it. So, if divorce has to be the way out, I don’t oppose it in any form whatsoever. I think it should be encourage provided it will not be abused. In anyway, I am not a fan of the union of marriage; hence my position on divorce could be rationalized.

I can support capital punishment in some instances. But it depends on the kind of crimes we are looking at here. If the crime is murder, I think I can support capital punishment. If it can be proven that it was committed out of the sheer malice of the individual, not for self-defence or the protection of the life and property of a group, why not? I think capital punishment should be applied for very few and justifiable instances.

Q: Are Nigerian Humanists in all spheres of life any better than Nigerian Christians or even Nigerian Muslims?

A: I think all of these emanate from the general contradictions that we have in the body polity. Whereas you have Nigerian Muslims especially those from the North, are perceived as being violent extremists in their religious undertakings, but just the same cultural demography across the imaginary border to the north, we have Muslims who are Hausa kindred of our northern brothers, who are not as violent and morbid as we have down south in northern Nigeria.  I mean not as deadly because I am not sure there has been any violent religious uprising recorded in Niger Republic as it has been in Northern Nigeria.

Having said that, I will like to reiterate that the society reinforces the kind of thinking the people take into these various spaces. Whereas these religious spaces are suppose to promote some kind of indoctrination that goes into group thinking and ideology, I see that Nigerians, out of their own sheer stubbornness and aggression, have been able to infuse that thought and philosophies, that individualism, that is ingrained, for instance in Christianity, that kind of aggression, whether positive or negative, that is uniquely Nigerian.

If you go to the Nigerian Humanist movement, you will also see that that aggression has tampered the way the humanist creed is interpreted and promoted. It is also the same with Nigerian Atheist and Agnostics.

Aside all of these, I don’t see the Nigerian Christian as significantly different from Christians elsewhere. Remove the context of unique cultural diversity of Nigeria aside; what is preached in Nigeria is not significantly different from what is preached elsewhere, minus this new inclination of championing prosperity. It is the same thing in Islam and all other religions. I don’t see the Nigerian Christian Bible being different from that used elsewhere. So it’s a matter of knowledge, depth and interpretations.

I think Nigerian Christians have a huge influence especially in the global north. You have them in Europe influencing society in various ways.

Another instance I can give is that the Nigerian Humanist movement is probably more aggressive than its Ghanaian counterpart; the same with Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Agnosticism and any kind of religion we have in Nigeria.

Thank you for your time.


Atiku: Violating PDP Primary Guidelines For Jonathan’s 2015 Bid Is Unconstitutional.

Abubakar Atiku
By SaharaReporters, New York

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to submit himself to a transparent and fair presidential primaries in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, stressing that the guidelines tactically proposed by Chief Tony Anenih for automatic nomination are unconstitutional and capable of throwing the party into deep crises.

During a dinner party marking the 2013 Democracy Day, Chief Anenih, the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, disclosed the possibility of automatic slots for Jonathan and the party’s other governors. “The president and governors who are seeking their second term should be given automatic tickets to contest the second term,” he said.

Calling for “repositioning” of the party,” he described as an embarrassment recend developments in the Nigeria Governors Forum. It is an embarrassing situation which must be urgently addressed. The leadership of the party will not tolerate a situation where it will preside over a divided house.”

In statements in which he seemed to contradict himself, he said, “If a party is strong and there is discipline and those who work hard are rewarded, our government will be stronger. Our problems are not insurmountable. After the tour of the Board of Trustees, we will collate the opinions and make appropriate recommendations to the president as leader of the party. But what I would like to say is that the president and governors who are seeking their second term should be given automatic tickets to contest the second term.”

In a direct response, Atiku said in a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, “By foreclosing free and fair process of selecting its presidential candidate, the PDP might be sending the wrong message to Nigerians about its commitment to conduct free and fair elections for the entire country.”
He warned that any attempt to change the party’s rules so as to favour the President as a sole candidate in the event of his willingness to re-contest is unconstitutional, adding that the contest should be open to all desiring to pursue an ambition on the platform of the PDP.

Anenih’s suggestion is a reminder of the powerful anti-democracy forces within the PDP that have seen the party use rigging and manipulation to remain in power.  Anenih, the party’s “Mr. Fix-It” is known to have deployed rigging in various elections in the past.

It would be recalled that last year during Ghana’s national election, former president and PDP Bot chairman, Olusegun Obasanjo, was castigated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which vowed never again to invite him to work in an observation mission in the future.
Obasanjo had written an anti-democratic recommendation to the ECOWAS commission that the media be curtailed in election observation activities.

“ECOWAS was only fortunate to have [been] at an election of an advanced and stable democracy,” a senior official said. “Were it to be a volatile country, his disposition, recommendations and utterances are not only capable of truncating the electoral process, they are capable of jeopardizing the security and safety of our 250 monitors mobilized from across the sub-region.”

Anenih’s remarks at the dinner is an indication that the PDP is poised to use any means it pleases to place in office any officials it pleases.

In Mali fight, Chad proves a powerful partner for France.

Chad may be a poor country marred by frequent turmoil, but its forces have fought very effectively against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

Weeks after the French launched their military intervention inMali, the majority of Islamist rebels who were once in control ofnorthern Mali’s major cities have retreated to hideouts near the Algerian border.

But forces from Chad have followed them, spearheading an ambitious push into northern Mali’s Ifoghas mountains, a terrain often compared to Afghanistan’s Tora Bora. And despite suffering dozens of casualties during weeks of heavy combat, Chadian forces have succeeded in killing and capturing more than 100 jihadist militants and uprooting a network of weapons caches, fuel depots, and food stuffs hidden among the countless caves and grottoes that dot the landscape.

The string of Chadian military victories against a well-prepared and amply equipped rebel force has prompted many to wonder how Chad – a poor, landlocked country marred by decades of political turmoil and near continual civil war – has been able to contribute so effectively to this fight.

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But Chad’s ability to project power in northern Mali should come as no surprise, according to analysts who specialize in military affairs in the region.

“This is the sort of background in which they [the Chadians] feel the most at home. This is likenorthern Chad, this is the desert, this is rocky terrain,” says François Heisbourg, a special adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. “They are fully acclimatized. 100 degrees F. at noontime doesn’t scare them.”


With the Malian Army in disrepair, France has been eager to transfer responsibility for securing Mali over to an internationally approved African-led force. But few analysts believe that troops from regional bloc ECOWAS, the bulk of whom would come from West Africa’s sub-Saharan climes, will be able to operate effectively in northern Mali’s unforgiving desert.

The Chadians have proved to be a useful partner not only because of their decades of experience fighting in a similar climate and terrain, but because they have spent much of the past decade fighting a panoply of rebel groups in their own country, many of which preferred to operate as light and mobile units, using tactics similar to those currently employed by the jihadis in Mali.

Chad’s military has fully internalized this type of warfare, deploying swarms of small, mobile units themselves, often consisting of little more than a handful of soldiers in Toyota pickups modified into fighting vehicles.

“These guys [the Chadians] are like the jihadis in terms of their ability to cover ground and to project force in all directions,” says Heisbourg. “They can cover 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) in a day and they have never stopped doing this,” he continues, alluding to the fact that Chadian forces have been engaged in fighting, both at home and abroad, for much of the nation’s history.

“They have been doing this sort of stuff off and on for the last 45 years, since the late ’60s, sometimes with the French, sometimes against the French,” Heisbourg says.

“Remember, these guys actually conducted a major raid into Libya in the 1980s, capturing what was the most modern Soviet hardware at the time from a very capable Libyan force,” Heisbourg continues, in reference to the series of conflicts between Chad and Libya for much of the 1980s.


While the Chadian Army’s résumé demonstrates a capacity to carry out sustained desert combat, its reputation for indiscipline and human rights abuses is just as noteworthy, however.

Instances of targeting of civilians, systemic sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, and a litany of other abuses against local populations have been documented by organizations such as Human Rights Watch. That record has led many to question whether Chad can be considered an effective partner for securing Mali in the long term.

“It depends how you define effective,” says Rudy Atallah, who served as Africa Counterterrorism director in the office of the US Secretary of Defense in Washington. “In terms of aggressive team players supporting the French, they are doing a great job. If the definition is based purely on capability to continue the fight on their own, I don’t think they can survive.”

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Mr. Atallah, who has extensive experience in West and North Africa, urged caution against overestimating the ability of Chad’s troops operating solo. “Chadian troops are a blunt edge and good scouts for the French, but they couldn’t be as effective without French intel, guidance, and air power.”


By Peter Tinti | Christian Science Monitor

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