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Posts tagged ‘World Economic Forum’

SERAP Counters President Jonathan, States “400 billion Reasons” Corruption Is Nigeria’s Biggest Problem.


 

President Goodluck Jonathan in Davos
By Adetokunbo Mumuni

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has faulted President Goodluck Jonathan over his statement yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to the effect that “corruption was not the cause of all the problems confronting Africa.”

The president had said that, “In terms of security, Boko Haram is the biggest challenge we have at the moment.”

In response, SERAP in a statement today signed by its executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said that, “the statement by the president shows clearly that this government has not come to term with the reality of massive corruption at the highest level of government, and the devastation and suffering it has caused millions of innocent Nigerians.”

The organization said that, “The evidence of corruption and underdevelopment is staring this government in the face. Staying silent or simply wishing the problem away cannot be the way forward. What more will it take to convince the president that corruption is this country’s biggest problem, and that effective action is urgently required to end it, and address impunity of perpetrators?

“Hospitals without drugs, bad roads, poor electricity supply, contaminated and undrinkable water, collapsed educational system alone provide strong evidence of the devastation that missing $400 billion of public funds have done to this country. That this amount is missing has been confirmed by both the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes and House of Representatives reports,” the organization said.

The organization said that, “These indicators of bad governance and mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources should serve as proof of the need for this government to put the fight against corruption at the very top of its agenda.”

The group said that, “Anyone with a simple knowledge of this country will know that the root cause of insecurity and Boko Haram is the decades of corruption and impunity of perpetrators, and failure of successive governments to provide quality education to Nigerian children. The damage that corruption has done to this country is nearly impossible to describe.”

“What millions of suffering Nigerians need from this government is a clear commitment to recover the over $400 billion missing public funds and to spend this to achieve sustainable development and respect for basic socio-economic rights of Nigerians.”

 

 

Signed

Adetokunbo Mumuni

SERAP Executive Director

23/1/2014

www.serap-nigeria.org

Jonathan expresses fear of Boko Haram in the world stage at Davos, Switzerland, says it is his biggest challenge.


President-Goodluck-Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has described the activities of the Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram as the biggest headache of his government.“In terms of security, Boko Haram is the biggest challenge we have at the moment,” the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati had quoted the President.Jonathan spoke during a televised debate entitled, “Africa’s Next Billion,” held at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.His statement was however contained in a snippet of the debate posted by Abati, on his Twitter handle.President Jonathan in the statement said it was wrong for anybody to say that corruption was the cause of all the problems confronting Africa.“Everything that does not happen the way it should in Africa, people say corruption is the answer. I don’t agree,” Abati quoted Jonathan as saying.The President also reportedly told the gathering that the power sector privatisation carried out by his administration was already yielding positive fruits.He claimed that Nigerians had started witnessing increased electricity supply within a short period.In the full statement, which Abati later made available to journalists, the presidential spokesman quoted Jonathan as calling on all stakeholders in the continent to continue to work for greater security and political stability, which he described as prerequisite for sustained socio-economic development.“Security and political stability are key to development. Investors will not come to any country that is insecure or politically unstable. Happily, many African countries now enjoy political stability. It is a major reason for the positive economic growth rates, which we are now witnessing on the continent and we must continue to do our best to maintain and expand the frontiers of political stability on our continent,” Jonathan said.He said, “Economic inclusion is very important and we are already taking necessary steps to improve

financial inclusion in our country. Transforming our agricultural sector is one way in which we are doing so.“We are doing all that we can to transform agriculture in Nigeria into a much more productive and job creating sector. We are also working to create more inclusive wealth through better education, skills acquisition programmes and policies that encourage the addition of value to our primary products before exportation.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

US Pressure on Swiss Banks May End Era of Secret Accounts.


Image: US Pressure on Swiss Banks May End Era of Secret Accounts

By Lisa Barron

The Swiss banking industry is slowly but surely abandoning its legacy of guarding the secrecy of customer accounts.

As many as 40 of the country’s approximately 300 banks have said they would voluntarily turn over client information to the U.S. Department of Justice in return for immunity from prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, reports USA Today.

The Justice Department set a deadline of Dec. 31 for the banks to take deals protecting them from prosecution in exchange for handing out Americans’ account information.

“What’s really clear is that this [Justice] program is at the limit of what is tolerable for banks in Switzerland,” Sindy Schmiegel of the Swiss Bankers Association in Basel told the newspaper.

The effort is part of a government crackdown on tax evaders and overseas banks that heated up in 2009 after UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, agreed to a $780 million settlement for concealing identities and assets from the IRS.

The Justice Department is currently investigating 14 major Swiss financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, and the Swiss arm of HSBC, for shielding U.S. tax evaders, and many leading banks that are not yet being probed have been urging wealthy clients to turn themselves in to the tax man, Politico reported last month.

“The banks have every incentive to shove their American clients into compliance in order to reduce the penalties,” tax attorney Jeff Neiman, who prosecuted UBS for the U.S. government, told the publication.

Politico cited three letters from Swiss banks to U.S. clients urging them to come clean.

“Your account information may be subject to a treaty request from the United States to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration, which may result in your account information being turned over to the DOJ or IRS,” warned one letter sent by Corner Bank.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum taking place this week at Davos, Switzerland, will reportedly hold a forum dedicated to how the country’s banking industry can reinvent itself in the absence of banking secrecy.

“Swiss bankers accept that they are living in a new reality,” Bruno Patusi, head of wealth and asset management at Zurich-based financial services firm EY, told USA Today.

“But we will only see a change in certain areas. Confidentiality is still extremely important. It is true that we are seeing assets flow out [of Switzerland], but that’s partly because the next generation is more interested in spending than saving.”

Related stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

FG is to spend N11 billion to host the national dialogue and the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Abuja.


okonjo

This figure is contained in the details of the 2014 budget breakdown, which states that N7 billion is to be spent on the national dialogue.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on January 18, 2005, requested the approval of N932 million to fund a three-month National Political Reform Conference scheduled to begin mid-February of the same year.

In the breakdown, Obasanjo said delegates would earn N21.68million as sitting allowance and N650. 25 million as allowances in lieu of accommodation.

Also included was N1.7million for return tickets from London, Washington, Beijing and Johannesburg, in addition to N28,800 for return flights to Abuja for the inaugural session and subsequent conference meetings.

Delegates, he noted, would be given N14,400 for airport taxi and local transportation within Abuja. There was provision for, at least, two CVU long wheel cars to be hired and fuelled at N2.9 million.

However, in the case of the Dr. Jonathan administration’s national dialogue, there is no breakdown of how the N 7 billion will be spent.

Besides, N4 billion is to be spent on hosting the WEF in Abuja.

These figures are captured under the Service Wide Vote of the Federal Ministry of Finance for 2014, with other expenses submitted for appropriation to the National Assembly. They include N35,409,859,962 to fund the presidential amnesty programme for the reintegration of transformed ex-militants; N546,300,000 for the presidential amnesty programme for the reintegration/transition safety allowances for 3,642 ex-militants (third phase) and N3,699,933,814 as operational cost for the programme.

Besides, the fund allocated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections, N21 billion is voted by the Ministry under its service wide vote for election logistics support. There is also N7 billion proposal for payment of outsourced services.

Under the miscellaneous heading of the ministry’s service wide vote in 2014, N27.5 billion is proposed to be spent on unexplained contingency funding; N5,149,600,000 is set aside for adjustments to the recurrent budget and N5 billion for capital cost adjustments.

The capital expenditure of the ministry’s service wide vote is estimated to cost N433,584,612357. From this amount, N100 billion will go to finance constituency projects for legislators of the National Assembly; N62.8 billion for special intervention; N8 billion for national job creation scheme; N30 billion for the sinking fund for infrastructural development; N14 billion for Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) and N16 billion for the bulk trader.

In the budget, N5 billion is budgeted to be spent on “2011 election violence and civil disturbance (damage done to public property and places of worship) and N12.6 billion on special intervention Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 1 and 2).

About N10 billion is to be returned to a special account (not specified) and another N10 billion to fund the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) under the electricity provision programme. The government, through the ministry is asking for N25 billion to pay off maturing domestic bonds and N5 billion for payment of local contractors’ debts; N16 billion for Development Finance Institution (DFI) and N4,060,000,000 to fund galaxy backbone infrastructure.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Young College Grad Changes Africa One Story at a Time.


Deborah Ahenkorah
Deborah Ahenkorah, founder and executive director of The Golden Baobab speaks at the World Economic Forum in May 2012.

“I love to tell stories,” declares 2010 alumna Deborah Ahenkorah.

And as the founder and executive director of Golden Baobab, an organization that awards three annual prizes to the best authors and illustrators on the African continent, she has a powerful story to tell—one of disappointment, faith and grace.

A Childhood of Books
Deborah’s life has always been full of stories. As a child growing up in Ghana, she read everything she could get her hands on, from Bible stories to Nancy Drew mysteries to romance novels to Christian fiction.

“I had a very intimate relationship with books,” she says. “In reading I got to go on all these journeys by myself in my own imagination. … My head was such an interesting place to go back to.”

But books weren’t just interesting to her; they also encouraged her to trust Jesus more deeply. Though she grew up going to church and having strong faith modeled to her by her mom, being a Christian didn’t seem very cool to her as a child and middle schooler.

But in Christian books that she read, “the authors would talk about the deep peace people would have when they came to faith,” she explains. “That made me yearn for some of that.” She began to embrace and press into her faith in new ways.

Becoming a Leader
Upon arrival at Bryn Mawr College, an all-female campus in Pennsylvania, she knew she wanted to be part of a Christian community. At the recommendation of a friend, she joined InterVarsity.

“A lot of my Christian growth has been around community,” she reflects. “The InterVarsity women I met as a freshman were these older women who were so beautiful and so happy and so real who loved God. … To see their life experience and have them share about it drew me into a very trusting family that I benefitted so much from.”

As a lover of books, Deborah was delighted not just with her mentors in InterVarsity, but also with one of its central activities: manuscript Bible study. In her words, “it was incredible.” She invited several friends to chapter camp her junior year, and started a Bible study called BOYL: Bible Study of Your Life.

“BOYL gave us a space where we could take our friendship to a deeper level,” she says. It also took Deborah to a higher level of leadership and growth in her faith. “I started as a member—being cared for and shepherded,” she says. “Then, as a leader, I became the one to care for and shepherd others.”

Golden Baobab Is Born
Those leadership skills served Deborah well in other arenas. While at Bryn Mawr, she started a student organization that collected donated books and sent them to various African countries. She realized, though, that virtually all the books they were sending were Western books—the same books she had grown up with. So she took her organization a step further, starting a literature prize, the Golden Baobab Prize, to encourage African writers to write children’s books.

By the time her senior year of college arrived, Deborah strongly sensed God’s leading to focus on developing Golden Baobab as a full-fledged, ongoing organization. She had no idea what a test of faith that process would be.

The first priority was finding funding, so she spent much of her senior year applying for a large grant that seemed like a perfect fit to fund Golden Baobab. “I believed I had God on my side,” she recalls, “and I thought I aced the interview for the grant.” But she ended up not even making the cut to the second round. “That was a very big blow to my faith,” she says.

Having always been taught that if she worked hard enough at anything she’d get it, she couldn’t understand how she could have worked so hard and sensed God’s leading so strongly but still be rejected for the grant. “I didn’t even know what to say to God for a while; I decided that the voice I thought had been His must not have been.”

With graduation approaching, she began sending out applications for jobs, but nobody called her back. She also kept applying for grants. In the end, she received three grants for Golden Baobab that, together, came to about the same amount of money as the first grant she’d applied for. And the circumstances of these three grants allowed her to go home to Ghana after graduation, which would have been impossible if she had won the first grant.

“It was a very interesting faith journey,” she recalls. “My faith took the harshest battering, and out of nowhere came a better solution than the one before. I was happy … but it was difficult for me to go back to fully believing in God’s sovereignty.”

With her faith still a bit shaky, she returned to Ghana to learn more about the children’s literature industry and to continue to raise funds for Golden Baobab. She found out about another huge grant—three days before the deadline.

“I applied to be respectful [to the friend who had told me about it],” she says. But it felt like a joke to her even to apply, as she’d be competing against people who’d spent months working on the application. “I sent it in and completely closed my mind,” she says. “There was no way I was going to get it.”

After each round of cuts—from 3,000 applicants to 200 to 22—she was still a contender, despite her unbelief and comparative lack of preparedness for each stage. Hope but also fear of being disappointed battled inside her.

“Being in the top 20 was battering to my unbelief,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go back to not believing, because [making it that far] was certainly not me. I was competing against lawyers and business graduates—people who were top dogs.”

The phone call that informed her she was the winner of the grant was cause for rejoicing—but, she says, “that left me even more confused. I hadn’t believed enough, and it wasn’t my capabilities [that won me the grant]. It was sheer grace. And I didn’t know what to do with grace.”

Changing the Face of African Literature
Now, several years into Golden Baobab’s life, Deborah continues to see God’s grace at work, providing what she needs to persevere and overcome obstacles. Twelve Golden Baobab Prizes have been awarded since 2009 for the best stories in three categories: best story for ages 8–11 (Junior Category), best story for ages 12–15 (Senior Category), and Rising Writer (a writer who’s 18 years old or younger).

Stories that have been submitted range in genre from African sci-fi to African retellings of traditional fairy tales. Winners are connected to literary agents and publishers who can help turn their stories into actual books.

Though the work is hard and the days are long, Deborah loves that she’s helping artists—writers and illustrators—live out their dreams of being published. And she loves that children all over Africa are experiencing the power and beauty of stories told from their own cultural framework.

“Books give you the power to feel so many different things out of your own imagination … and to be the director of what happens in your own head,” she says. “So many children in Africa … have never had choices. But in books, they can; they can transport themselves wherever they please based on the book they choose. … That can be very special.”

Deborah still draws on the lessons of faith she learned early in Golden Baobab’s existence. “So much of myself has gone into this,” she says, “but I recognize that so much of it could disappear. … I don’t have any control, essentially. I have to work on faith every day, believing that … God is sovereign, and that he will make things work out by his will and by his grace.”

For this lover of stories, that one—the ongoing story of faith and grace God’s been writing in her life, from childhood books to InterVarsity to helping others realize their dreams through Golden Baobab—may turn out to be her favorite one of all.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

LISA RIECK/INTERVARSITY

LA Times columnist thinks President Jonathan should be impeached.


LA Times Columnist, Joel Brinkley (pictured above) wrote that Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world and feels president Goodluck Jonathan should be impeached. He wrote an article titled  Nigeria’s Squandered Opportunity on Friday March 22nd. See it below…

Just outside President Goodluck Jonathan’s office sat 17 ambulances, just in case he or one of his aides fell ill. They were seldom if ever used.

No actual health-care facility nationwide had as many, and in fact a few still have none at all. But as soon as a Nigerian newspaper took a photo of the ambulances and published a story about them, they suddenly disappeared — probably to an underground garage.

Jonathan is president of Nigeria, which should be among the world’s most prosperous nations. After all, it produces an estimated 2.4 million barrels of oil each and every day. With oil now selling at $93.61 a barrel, that’s $224 million in income daily. And yet many hospitals can’t afford to buy an ambulance. The reason, in my view: Nigeria is the most corrupt nation on earth.

It gets more interesting. Continue…

Sure, Transparency International lists almost three dozen states as more corrupt — Chad, Haiti, Laos, Yemen, Cambodia and the like. But are any of those nations as wealthy as Nigeria — taking in $81 billion annually, just from the sale of oil? No, not even one of them. So Nigeria steals and squanders more money than any other nation, making it the world’s most corrupt, by that measure.

Nigerian journalist Musikilu Mojeed finds all this so discouraging.

“With its geopolitical power, economic resources and middle class,” he laments, “no country (with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia and Egypt) has the power to change the course of black/African civilization like Nigeria.” After all, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous state — and large, twice the size of California.

So Nigerians are living an opportunity squandered — particularly now. Egypt is in turmoil. In just the last few days, in fact, many Egyptians have been calling for a military coup — anything to rid the state of its widely despised Muslim Brotherhood government. And a new report by the World Economic Forum ranked Egypt the least safe and secure tourist destination among 140 tourist nations evaluated.

Egypt has lost its place as the Arab/African worlds’ leader, and Saudi Arabia never had it. So for Nigeria, the time is ripe. But its leaders seem interested only in stealing the state’s money to make themselves rich beyond imaging. Think about it: $81 billion a year just from the oil, while most every local government official still tells his people the nation just doesn’t have enough money to fix the roads, schools or hospitals. (Roads are in such terrible shape that government officials generally travel any distance by helicopter.)

And Nigeria’s people — well, they are as mistreated as any on earth. In only nine nations — among them Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia — do more mothers die during childbirth. And in only 10 states, including Chad, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, is the average life expectancy lower. Right now the average Nigerian’s average life span ends at 52. That may be why the median age of Nigerians is just 18.

A few months ago, the Economist Intelligence Unit published an evaluation of the best places for babies to born in 2013, given their probable welfare as children and the chance for a safe, comfortable, prosperous life. Switzerland, Australia and Norway were the top three. The United States came in at 16th, largely because “babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation.”
Dead last: Nigeria. “It is the worst place for a baby to enter the world in 2013,” the report said.

Even with all that wealth, only just over half the population has access to clean drinking water, and one-third to a toilet, UNICEF says. Two-thirds live below the poverty line. Only one child in four who contracts pneumonia is given antibiotics, and only about half the population is literate.

The CIA also cites endemic “soil degradation; rapid deforestation; urban air and water pollution.” All this in a county whose gross domestic product stands at $236 billion a year, in the same league as Denmark, Chile, Israel and the United Arab Emirates — prosperous, successful states to be envied.

Goodluck Jonathan is certainly aware of all of this. After all, taking the oath of office, he swore to “devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God.”

Well, just last week he demonstrated who he really is and what he stands for when he pardoned a former state governor who’d been convicted of embezzling state funds and laundering the money. That pardon triggered a broad, angry uproar.

Good luck, Mr. Jonathan. It’s time you were impeached.

(Joel Brinkley is the Hearst professional in residence at Stanford University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning former correspondent for The New York Times.)

Source: Naijapals.com.

Christians Miraculously Survive Boko Haram Terror Attacks.


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Laolu Akande, secretary general of the Christian Association of Nigeria and president of Nigerian Christians residing in the U.S., says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan—pictured here at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—should become more proactive in the fight against Boko Haram and terrorism (World Economic Forum)

Some Christian survivors of attacks by sect members of Boko Haram, the terrorist Islamic sect Nigeria, on Monday, Feb. 4, in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, recounted how 17 Christians were murdered in cold blood by Boko Haram Islamists and how they survived the attacks to tell the story.

Serana Chinda, a Pastor of the All Denomination Church (ADC), Hauran Wanki, Police Barracks in Kano, in northern Nigeria, said eight members of his local congregation were killed for refusing to recant their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. The 13 Christians were killed in a factory. The ADC serves all Christian police officers and other ranks with their family members alongside other non-police Christian communities in the area as a worship auditorium.

Chinda narrates how the Christian factory workers were killed: “On Feb. 23, 2013, eight out of the 13 people that were killed were my members who worked in a factory. Four men wearing babanriga (flowing gowns) came in a taxi cab and parked in front of our church. They asked, ‘Are you not supposed to be in church praying? Why are you not in the church with others?’ They answered that some of them were Muslims. The four men then ordered that Christians should go to one side and Muslims to the other side. So they separated them. They were not satisfied and wanted to make sure that no Muslim was harmed. They decided to make inquiry about their names; when they finished getting their names, they killed the Christians. One of our Christian brothers escaped to tell us the story of how these Christians were killed.”

Chinda says he went to the scene of the attack and saw the corpses before he called the police who came to the place to move the bodies to the morgue: “The only one that escaped among the 14 factory workers was the one that went to fetch water. He ran to my house and informed me that they had killed our people. As I prepared to drive to the scene, my wife wanted to follow me but I refused. But when I got there, I saw the corpses everywhere. I made some calls and policemen came and took the corpses away.”

Another of the surviving Christian victims, Deborah Shettima, 45, from the city of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, said her husband and three of her children were killed in their home by Boko Haram members who stormed her home twice and carried out the attacks.

“On April 25, 2012, after work, I went home and discovered that everywhere was quiet. I met my husband sitting on a table. He was preparing to preach to the children at a prayer meeting. He asked me to get him water to bathe. So I went outside and saw a tricycle approaching with five persons inside it. Four of them came down and went into our house. I started running but one of them blocked me while another said they should allow me in and asked me to lie down,” Shetima said.

“When I got in,” she continued “my husband was praying and I heard him say, ‘Lord, today I’m going to visit you. I ask you to please receive my spirit.’ One of them said, ‘Have you finished praying and you think your prayer is going to save you?’ And after that, I heard four shots of gun.

“I said, ‘I will be the next target’ and started praying, Lord they’ve finished with my husband, here I am, receive my spirit, but they opened the door. When my two daughters, 9 and 7 years old, heard me, they started crying, saying ‘They have killed our father, they will soon kill our mother,’ and as they were crying, they reached out to them and took them away.

“Up till now, I have not seen them. They have not been declared dead or been seen. One of the assailants hit my eye with the gun. I cannot see with the eye. After three months, while marking the death of Yusuf Mohammed, their leader, they returned to my house and killed my last son. Someone came and told me to leave the house,” she concluded.

A vice president of the World Bank and a one-time minister of education in the Nigerian government, Oby Ezekwesili, while speaking and shedding tears laments that Nigeria does not value human lives created by God: “Whatever happens to one of us happens to every one of us. So, if we have become a nation that does not put value to human lives, then we really are in a bad place. Listening to these women particularly and seeing what these women have to carry alone, you almost feel a sense of abandonment for them,” she said.

“We must get ourselves back to a drawing table and figure what we really are; what are we and what we have become as a people and as a nation. Is it right that a mother would watch her husband killed and her two children taken away and does not know where they are up till now and nobody is concerned about it? Three months after, they came and killed her son. I know a nation where this thing happened before. It’s called Rwanda and it didn’t end well,” she cautioned the Nigerian government, stressing that now is the time to act before the country is destroyed.

The Christian victims recounted their ordeals in attacks by Boko Haram at a press conference in Abuja held by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and representative Nigerian Christians residing in the United States of America (USA). Dr. Musa Asaki and Laolu Akande, secretary general of the Christian Association of Nigeria and President of Nigerian Christians residing in the U.S., addressed the conference.

Akande, while speaking at the press conference, pleaded that Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan become more proactive in the fight against Boko Haram and terrorism in the country.

“I think the government itself has expressed hopelessness, including President Jonathan who has said on several occasions that this problem is big,” Akande lamented. “We believe that Nigerian government cannot handle this problem anymore. There are instances of lack of political will on the part of the Federal Government. The cases of some supporters of Boko Haram like those senators who have been accused should be pursued.”

Reiterating the importance of fighting terrorism proactively, Akande said: “Government can become more aggressive in going after members of Boko Haram and those supporting this sect. Government is not proactive. It must seek support from other countries, like the United States, to deal with Boko Haram. This is an international problem. I wish government could do more in protecting the lives of Nigerians. Some of the cases are not even reported. How can somebody go to another person’s house to kill? If government cannot provide law and order it then becomes worrisome.”

He pleads with Nigerians and people of goodwill to “rise up and come to the financial and material aid of the victims of Boko Haram attacks in northern Nigeria.” It is the plight of these persecuted Christians he says has made Nigerian Christians residing in America take note of the impact of the actions of Boko Haram: “We are concerned about the widows and are touched by the plight of the orphans. We reckon that many of these individuals are left without a source of livelihood.”

Assisting these oppressed Christians, Akande says, is the most important and urgent task, facing Christians not only in other parts of the country but also posing as a challenge to global leaders like those in develop countries like America.

“If backers of terrorists are raising the money to perpetrate acts of terror, supporters of and advocates for peace can no longer look the other way,” he argued. “We want to join with CAN today to call on Nigerian philanthropists, businesses, and captains of industry, well-to-do individuals and all people of goodwill to consider the financial plight of Boko Haram victims and lend a helping hand.”

“We are an advocate for innocent and helpless people being slaughtered in their places of worship,” Akande said, speaking on the decision of their association to speak out in favor of the persecuted. “Christians are being killed, churches are being attacked and destroyed, health workers and doctors are being assassinated, markets are being ravaged, police precincts are being vanquished, and neighborhoods are being tormented. This wickedness must stop. We commend the bold leadership of CAN for speaking up in a categorical, courageous and consistent manner on the Boko Haram issue.”

In the city of Zaria where two churches were bombed by suicide bombers last year, a former Christian Nigerian Army General, Theophilus Danjuma, expressed sadness over the incessant attacks on Christians and called for a united fight against Boko Haram and other terrorists in the country.

Danjuma who was speaking at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said: “Our founding fathers sought to create a united and self-reliant society based on respect for human life and respect for the rights of others irrespective of tribe or religion. They would certainly be appalled that, today; the nation is in total anarchy. Human life is very cheap and impunity has become the norm. In the case of the North, the danger is very real indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the middle of a civil war in Northern Nigeria. There is no defined front in this particular war and, worse still; the enemy is faceless and unknown. There is no immunity for anyone.”

Danjuma was speaking to an audience consisting of Muslim and Christian leaders, academia, and others at the convocation ceremony of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

OBED MINCHAKPU

Egypt works to finalize policies before IMF return.


CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is working to finalize its economic reform program before inviting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Cairo to finalize a vital $4.8 billion loan deal, the finance minister said on Thursday.

The loan agreement – seen as vital to supporting Egypt’s state finances and boosting investor confidence – was agreed in principle in November. But the government delayed final approval in December when it canceled austerity measures during violent protests against President Mohamed Mursi’s rule.

“Egypt’s talks with the IMF are still ongoing,” Finance Minister Al-Mursi Al-Sayed Hegazy told the state news agency MENA. Egypt had yet to invite the IMF’s delegation to return, “awaiting the government to finalize the economic and social reform program”, he said.

Egypt’s prime minister Hisham Kandil had met with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the World Economic Forum at Davos earlier this month and said an IMF mission would return to Cairo within weeks.

Securing the IMF loan is seen as a vital step towards stabilizing the economy, both by providing a cash injection to bolster reserves and by offering an IMF seal of approval on the government’s reform plan that would reassure investors.

The Egyptian pound has lost 7.5 percent of its value against the dollar since the central bank began auctions at the end of December to try to preserve foreign reserves, which now barely cover three months of imports. The currency has hit a series of record lows.

Fitch Ratings on Wednesday cut Egypt’s sovereign credit rating one notch to B from B-plus, citing a wider budget deficit and instability caused by the country’s political transition.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy, writing by Yasmine Saleh)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

Using Official Delusion And EFCC Noise To Fight Corruption In Nigeria By Qansy Salako.


By Qansy Salako

I don’t hide my face behind my palms anymore when I watch our president talk, but my jaw betrays my nerves on each new occasion. My jaw droops and drops now each time I hear President Jonathan Goodluck articulates how hard his government is working and how well Nigeria is responding in progress. The last one was his 23Jan13 phone interview with CNN Christiane Amanpour, involving poignant questions on Boko Haram/Northern Mali, official corruption and electricity supply.http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/23/.

Goodluck repeated his usual public begging for other nations to come and help Nigeria fight Boko Haram using current affairs in Mali as his supporting evidence, dodged the question on corruption altogether but nagged that the world should not have been buying stolen crude from the Nigerian pirates, and made some self congratulatory commentary on his government record with power supply assuring Amanpour that this is an area where majority of Nigerians are giving him kudos. He even managed to look a little ticked off for being asked such questions.

This is consistent with how Jonathan has been scoring himself high grades on his fight against endemic corruption in Nigeria. On 29Dec12, President Goodluck asserted that corruption in Nigeria is not a serious issue, audaciously assuring that a good 80% of what Nigerians consider to be corruption are actually not corruption cases. I have been dismissing these obnoxious claims as the usual primitive Nigerian propaganda, perhaps for masking government incompetence and leadership breakdown. But the frequency and insistence of government on these dubious claims is making my skin turn white in terror. People, are we talking about the same Nigeria? I am scared that the crop of Nigerians who have now morphed into our leadership class may have started to believe these things they say. We say we are worse off, they insist our lot is actually better. What data are they using?

It is tribulation upon calamity for us to have our wretched situation in the country reduced to “we say, they say.” Our treacherous political class promised us one million jobs within a year of recovering the fuel subsidy savings from their collaborating oil marketer friends, but we see no jobs 13 months later. They tell us Nigeria is building more cash reserves and is in good standing with its creditors, we tell them their reserves are consigning many more millions of us to early death due to hunger and disease. Goodluck government raised the electricity output to 4500 MW for domestic use by 160 million Nigerian customers and he contends that we are celebrating him. The political elites are essentially telling us that we ordinary Nigerians are deluded about our state of affairs. We are the crazy, they are the sane.

Thank goodness, from Whitehall to White House, the “International Community” is seeing through the chicanery of our feckless leadership group. David Cameron, former UK Prime Minister, recently lashed out in bewilderment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying: “The financial revenue Nigeria received for the whole of last year (2012) from the sale of crude oil is more than the total foreign aid the entire sub-Saharan Africa received in that same year. So, where is the money? Where is the improvement in Nigeria?”

Indeed, Nigerians too are asking, where is the improvement that our president insists he sees in Nigeria? Incidentally, my level of disappointment in Goodluck was already quite deep even before I started noticing his style of using false declarations and delusions of grandeur as executive tools to intimidate Nigerians into further silence and poverty. The only Nigerian leader with the most on-the-job training before becoming the president is Jonathan. Goodluck has been hanging around our highest corridors of power and leadership now for a total of 10 years – deputy governor (2 years), governor (2 years), vice president (2 years), acting president (2 years), president (going on 2 years). If anybody was supposed to hit the ground running on the job, it ought to be Jonathan. Yet, he is still seriously confounded and challenged on how to sort, prioritize and tackle our problems in the country. He started off shoeless with the most political credit any Nigerian leader has been given by Nigerians in modern times, but he has frittered it all away on profligacy, emptiness and now tyranny of delusion.

This is probably why government has been moving with the feet of clay against our stranglehold culture of corruption for 4 years now since Goodluck became the acting president. The whole anti-corruption package remains confusing, ancient and unforgivably ineffective. I have observed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stepping up news releases on its arrests lately. Hardly a day passes now without some EFCC newsflash – EFCC corners Babalakin in LUTH over corruption, quizzes former presidential aspirant for extortion, arrests 2 undergraduates and four others over internet scam, arrests two over N240,000 illegal cash, arraigns three for forgery, arraigns 23 over oil theft, bemoans Babalakin jumping bail, ad infinitum. You would think that EFCC’s prime objective, perhaps even directed by the presidency, is to be seen by Nigerians as doing something instead of recovering our looted wealth and securing long jail terms for the looters.

We hear the news of arrests but we don’t know the outcome of majority of the arrests. The few outcomes that we know of offer Nigerians a glimpse of abysmal record of EFCC success rate. Many of EFCC cases have been thrown out of court for missing a document or a step in the court procedure or for inapplicable charges. Of those in its favor, EFCC is only able to recover less than one percent of stolen money, most looters usually pay insulting alternative fines and escape with golden parachutes.

I checked out EFCC website to see what I might have missed, but the same old lame stuff is all I got there. http://www.efccnigeria.org/efcc/. I rummaged through the place to find any usable statistics, but alas, it only says: “information is coming soon….”http://www.efccnigeria.org/efcc/index.php/statistics. Imagine, EFCC does not have statistics to be proud of since about 2003 when it was established. Under the “External Cooperation/EU UNODC Project” tab though, I found that the EFCC received additional EU grant of Euro 24.7 million in 2003 (and since extended twice) which ostensibly forces it to state something about its achievement on the project. There I found the following statement on EFCC performance:  “To date, the EFCC has received more than 5000 petitions and achieved more than 400 convictions. Even more impressively, a 6.5 Billion US $ of criminal proceeds have been recovered. At the political level, Nigeria was removed by the FATF from the list of non cooperating countries and territories.” There we have what we already know – 8% conviction rate. What a joke we have become to ourselves and to onlooking nations watching us ridiculing ourselves with uncontrollable appetite for wealth like a tipsy baboon in a liquor store.

It occurred to me that the essence and difference between the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) may be confusing to most Nigerians and in particular, why the ICPC seems to be always in the shadow of the EFCC. So I checked out the ICPC website. http://icpc.gov.ng/. It turns out, the ICPC is actually the babangida of our corruption fighting machine, as it has a wider mandate to fight all forms of our corruption compared to the EFCC which is focused on financial crimes. Compared to the EFCC which was established “to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes,” the ICPC was established in 2000 with the mission “to rid Nigeria of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures” and the vision to establish “a Nigeria free from all forms of corruption and corrupt practices.”

It is condemnable that Nigerians have got nothing out of these two sink-hole agencies that gulp enormous national resources yearly for doing almost nothing over a decade to even scratch the surface of our number one killer disease. These agencies have never prevented any government of the day from doing whatever it likes with damnable impunity. To date, looting of our treasury, killing of opponents, rigging of elections, personalization of state properties and resources, group impoverishment, tyranny of power, etc have progressively gone from bad to worse under successive governments since 1960. It shows that successive Nigerian leaderships might have intended and/or used these agencies as expedient apparatus of power for themselves and smokescreens for the citizens.

Given the enormity of our own brand of corruption, I always wonder how EFCC and ICPC get things done. The poor success rate of their cases probably imply inapplicable and inadequate administrative structure, poor talent pool (prosecuting attorneys, private investigators, forensic scientists, etc), inferior understanding and grasp of the Nigerian constitution and legal system, and horrible coordination and interrelationship with other state institutions (police, SSS, immigration, customs, etc). Being Nigerians, these agencies are probably riddled with our trademark incompetence, ignorance and ethnicity problems. It is perhaps why they have hitherto operated more as sidekicks to the government of the day than as truly independent institutions that function as custodian of our commonwealth and a stakeholder in piloting Nigeria out of primitivity into modernity.

Our type of corruption in Nigeria is out of this world. Many Nigerians now worship money, wealth and cash and would do anything to acquire it at the expense of their souls. The plague of corruption in our society has returned many back to the stone-age evolution when man and animal were not different in how they controlled their basic instincts and desires. Corruption is making us cannibalize our own God given resources, has warped our sense of reason and messed up our criteria for good and evil. The disorder has now completed transmitting down from the top of our leadership pyramid to the base homes of the downtrodden. We are a changed society, headed in the wrong direction that only points to self destruction. We need to reverse our track. If we truly want to fight and tame our corruption, we could consider some of the following ideas:

1.   Restructure EFCC and ICPC, for effectiveness. The ICPC mission could be further honed down and re-scoped. Perhaps even more agencies may be established and scoped for additional effectiveness and quicker results. But it may be better to have all anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) under one anti-corruption institution (ACI) umbrella. Otherwise, there should be a mechanism to harness activities of all the ACAs so they don’t work at cross purposes.

2.   Given the unprecedented size and range of our corruption, I would imagine our ACI to be a huge institution with thousands of employees, top notch technological capability and extensive reach across the globe. This means adequate funding and hiring of adequate and properly trained experts. ACI should be headed by a highly respected, experienced, seasoned and incorruptible citizen. Citizen Gani Fawehimi of blessed memory was one example of such citizenship, but we have more of them still alive. Indeed, all ACI/ACA employees should be held to a very high standard of probity and integrity to avoid conflicts of interests.

3.   Funding of ACI does not have to come from the federal budget, a portion of the recovered looted resources (cash, estates, intellectual property, etc) may be used to fund the institution.

4.   Establish an adequate level of autonomy for the ACI to enable it do its job. The institution should have the authority to arrest, arraign or charge any citizen at any time without any clause of immunity of being a governor, speaker, senate leader, president, LG chairman, etc, past or present. This means our current all permissive national constitution should be updated and amended.

5.   Like all other government institutions that we currently have, our judiciary (state/federal) is mostly useless. Most of the judges are compromised and ought to be arraigned themselves for miscarriage of justice against Nigerians by handing down illogical judgments on many a corruption case. Establish a separate judiciary line for the ACI like it is done for the military institution in advanced countries.

6.   Establish a separate ACI military police unit, and similar units within the immigration, customs and SSS to facilitate cross agency supports on official anti-corruption assignments.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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