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Nigeria’s foreign policy in 100 years.


Diplomatic and bilateral ties which Nigeria had as a colony were mostly dominated by Britain.

Before the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, agricultural commodities were exported to Europe and totally controlled by the British Empire. This showed the level of foreign bilateral trade between the colony and the outside world, where cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil and palm kernels were exported and chemicals, machines, transportation equipment and other manufactured products were imported. This level of bilateral trade extended until the 1950s.

The dual mandate adopted by the Europeans, whereby African countries will receive Europe’s civilization in exchange for unrestricted access to the continent resources prevailed during that era.

British stood as Nigeria’s major trading partner, even as 70 percent of her exports, as late as 1955 went to Britain and another 47 percent of import came from that country to Nigeria.

However, this bilateral trade changed from 1976, when British dominance of Nigeria’s economy began to wane. The United States then took over as Nigeria leading trade partner. By this time, exports to Britain dropped to 38 percent while import from the country to Nigeria dropped to 32 percent.

At post independence and for decades, Nigeria’s foreign policy thrust remained consistent with catering for the interests of African countries. However, the change in policy focus was brought about as government sort to arrest the declining economic setbacks. The end of apartheid in South Africa brought to a climax the Afrocentric position Nigeria’s foreign policy. Hence, in the country’s 1999 Constitution the policy shift revolved around economic diplomacy. This became a useful tool for promoting and protecting the country’s national interest in its bilateral ties with other countries.

Each regime during and after the country’s independence in 1960, took to formulating its own course of action to manipulate and propel national interest within the international community; with the purpose of forging a unique identity for their governments. There was a welter of dynamic and conservative foreign policies that went a long way towards how governments of the country actively or passively influenced the country’s interests on the international scene.

While the governments of Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon and Shehu Shagari were seen as conservative by foreign policy analysts, those of late Muritala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo (during the military era of 1976-79) operated dynamic foreign policies. However, observers of Nigeria’s foreign policy especially in her interaction with the international community may have confused radicalism for dynamism, hence, faulting this conceptualisation as a virile tool for measuring an effective policy. The erstwhileAction Group shadow Foreign Minister, late Anthony Enahoro was attributed as being a proponent of dynamic foreign policy.

He is reported to having moved a motion and prompted the country’s first post independence legislative house, arguing that the August 20, 1960 foreign policy adopted by the House of Representatives lacked dynamism and regretted that the Tafawa Balewa government’s interpretation and conduct of foreign policy lacked all ingredients of activism.

The August 20, 1960 official statement of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa at the Federal House of Representatives, stated that Nigeria is “adopting clear and practical policies with regard to Africa; it will be our aim to assist any country to find solution to its problem”. Nevertheless, observers and analysts are of the view that the country’s foreign policy then lacked any definite direction.

Nigeria’s Afrocentric policy

By adopting an Afrocentric policy, in the wake of the country’s independence Nigeria aimed to engage the international community through Africa’s interests and issues that tended to be of benefits to the continent. Nigerian’s first Foreign Minister, Jaja Wachukwu threw more perspectives to this Afrocentricism posture, when he said; “Charity begins at home and therefore any Nigerian foreign policy that does not take into consideration the peculiar position of Africa is unrealistic”. Nigeria under this policy framework contributed immensely in the struggles that led to the independence of Angola, Mozambique, and Namibia and participated in the anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa. Nigeria also played a crucial role in the establishment of continental and regional organisations. For example, Nigeria was pivotal to the establishment of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963. Nigeria was also instrumental in ensuring that it attained the two major objectives that included the quick decolonization of colonies in Africa and the rapid socio-economic growth and development of African countries.

Similarly, the creation of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) on May 28, 1975 saw Nigeria taking a fundamental role in spearheading the integration of neighbouring countries’ resources to enhance regional prosperity. Under the leadership of ex-General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria led the formation of the 16-member regional body that signed the treaty establishing ECOWAS.

Nigeria further played a significant role in military peacekeeping operations on the continent. It contributed both financial and human resources in the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping operations in Liberia, Sierra LeChad and several others.

New policy thrust in citizen diplomacy

The interventions to restore peace in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the fight against apartheid in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Angola among other missions of mediating in conflict prone countries like Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso especially after coup d’états, signified the apogee in foreign interventions in the past decades. Of recent, the country’s foreign relations has become tamed, mainly due to internal problems and politics associated with getting a proper footing for our nascent democracy amid pressing economic problems.

The military regime of ex- Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda conceptualised a new face to Nigeria’s foreign policy, where economic diplomacy would enhance the promotion of export trade, investment and financial assistance from friendly countries. The then Foreign Affairs Minister, ex-Gen Ike Nwachukwu in June 1988, said that “it is the responsibility of our foreign policy apparatus to advance the course of our national economic recovery.”

It was during the democratically elected government of President Olusegun Obasanjo that the country’s foreign policy was refocused to de-emphasise an explicitly African bias. While appointing ambassadors in 1999, his administration admonished that “Nigeria’s foreign policy today extends, however, far beyond our concern for the well being of our continent, Africa”. In addition, Obasanjo, pointed out that “The debt burden, for instance, is not an exclusively African predicament. Many countries in Asia, the Caribbean and South America were facing similar problems.

It is imperative; therefore, that these regions harmonise their efforts in the search for a fairer deal from the industrialised nations of the west; and this requires of us a more global approach to world affairs than was previously the case.

Last year, the President Jonathan administration paved a new path for the country’s foreign policy thrust, by embracing an agenda that promotes growth and national development. In this new policy, both private partnership and foreign missions will be utilised as new vanguards in economic diplomacy. Hence, the collapsing of both economic and citizen diplomacy by the current administration, that is geared towards attaining national economic development and growth where the citizens at home and abroad are used as agents towards achieving policy goals.

Bilateral relations with members of the developing eight countries for economic cooperation (D8) have been a centre piece for the country’s economic diplomacy. In this regard, the foreign ministry has engaged in various economic activities of the D8, especially since it assumed leadership of the group in 2010.

Using the economic diplomacy policy to source and promote trade between Nigeria and D8 members, the foreign ministry has rectified three of its important legal documents: The D-8 preferential Trade Agreement, Multilateral Agreement on administrative assistance in Customs Matters and the Simplification of VISA procedures for businessmen of D8 member countries.

Former Foreign Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, while expatiating on the new paradigm shift, said that: “We will redress existing imbalances and forge a strong partnership with OPS to assist economic growth. Consequently, members of OPS will frequently constitute part of any bilateral discussions between our governments and other foreign delegations, so that Nigeria can benefit from visits to and from other countries.”

“Our envoys will be directed to drive this new focus of our foreign policy by spending more time and effort on attracting foreign investments to Nigeria. Simply put, our ambassadors will be the foot-soldiers in this new approach for the purpose of achieving our Vision 20:2020 while bringing economic benefits to Nigeria.”

When contacted, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, told National Mirror, that any country’s foreign policy should be for the benefits of the people.

“I will say Nigeria’s foreign policy is not really doing badly and not getting worse. Though, sometimes we may not be getting it right and in other times we do get it right. The people must come first, so Nigerians at home and those in Diaspora should be the centre of our policy thrust.

Nigeria was faced with huge challenge during the military era where her public image was relegated. The country’s foreign policy could not stand as imperative tool for image building, especially, where dictatorial rule and clampdowns on human rights were strongly opposed by the western world.”

Nigeria played a prominent role in the Congo crisis of 1960-1965. It sent military peacekeeping troops.

In addition, during the Cold War era, Nigeria adopted a non-aligned stance; where it refused to align with any of the power blocs.

Another significant development in Nigeria foreign relations after the country’s independence was the protest of Nigerian students against the signing of agreement by the then new Tafawa Balewa’s government with the British government. The Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact entered by the government then meant that British military could maintain bases and presence in Kano. The Nigerian student’s protest made Tafawa Balewa’s government to back down from the intended deal. The message of the student then was that Britain was to be kept at arm’s length.

The foreign relations between Nigeria and Britain experienced some challenging moment, especially during the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo where the Nigerian government nationalized the British Petroleum’s (BP( interest in the country, as a measure to arm-twist the UK government into withdrawing its sanctions and to restore British authority in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This was after the white supremacist in that country hijacked power. This created a scene at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Lusaka in 1978. When the British Prime Minister challenged the Nigerian Foreign Minister, General Adefowope, he told Margret Thatcher, “Madam Prime Minister that is Act 1, Scene 1, many more will follow if you don’t play ball on Zimbabwe”. Thatcher had no choice than to relent and began process that enabled Zimbabwe have a free and fair elections.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Lagos : Gleaming New City For The Wealthy Leaves Historic City In Dust.


Jan. 21 (GIN) – As developers rush to complete a dream city of soaring glass and steel high-rise buildings, luxury housing for 250,000 amidst a leafy boulevard with ritzy shops and tony restaurants, hopes for a better future are growing dim for the sister city of Lagos, the largest city in Africa with 21 million residents at last count.

Eko Atlantic, the new project, is rising on Victoria Island – now connected by an artificial land bridge to Lagos which sinks deeper into poverty as its neighbor’s income skyrockets.

Lagos, visited by the Portuguese in 1492, was the nation’s capital from 1914 to 1991. Today it struggles with aging infrastructure, unreliable electric power, fierce traffic jams and sprawling slums. Even in posh neighborhoods, sewage bubbles up from open ditches. Companies squeeze their headquarters into moldy midcentury ranch houses and turn off the lights at lunch to rest electric generators.

Two-thirds of the city’s residents live in “informal” neighborhoods, while more than one million of the city’s poor have been forcibly evicted from their homes over the last 15 years.

Eko Atlantic is a prime example of a trend towards walled-off cities for the very rich on a continent that is still home to the world’s poorest.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Martin Lukacs warned: “Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms.”

He continued: “Protected by guards, guns, and sky-high real estate prices, the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising… This is climate apartheid.”

Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey added: “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion.”

The developers, a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, received a 78 year-seal of ownership of Eko Atlantic to recoup their investment.

The Clinton Global Initiative, meanwhile, calls Eko Atlantic “one of the most inspiring and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa,” according to the U.S. mission in Nigeria website.  Last year, former President Clinton participated in the ground breaking ceremony as did Ambassador Terence McCulley, and Consul General Jeff Hawkins, among others.

Woman To Lead Embattled Central African Republic As New President

Jan. 21 (GIN) – To the sound of cheers from the National Assembly building, the Transitional National Council of the Central African Republic on Monday tapped Catherine Samba-Panza, mayor of the capital city of Bangui, to be the country’s interim President and first woman to hold the post.

As the new leader of a country gripped by a ferocious sectarian war, Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, issued a call to the fighting groups, asking her “children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka. . . I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.

“Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion.”

Born in Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother, Ms. Samba-Panza is a former businesswoman, corporate lawyer, and insurance broker.  She also led a reconciliation effort during a previous civil war.

Paul Simon Handy, of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa, called her “a president who can unite both the country and the political elite” but warned: “I am afraid that this process will take longer than her period in office as interim president.”

The Central African Republic has been devastated by brutal fighting since a coup in March 2013 removed the unpopular president Francois Bozize. He was replaced by Michel Djotodia who suspended the constitution. Djotodia resigned this month under intense international pressure as the death toll mounted to over 1000 people and observers feared a genocide was in the works.

According to a New York Times report, “The state no longer exists in the CAR. Civil servants do not go to their offices, taxes are not collected, all the schools are closed. There is no budget, no army, no police force, no Parliament, no judges, no jails.”

Against these odds, Samba-Panza, no political novice, ran a successful campaign and beat seven other candidates for the post. Among them were two women and two sons of former presidents.

Now, her primary task will be to prepare the nation for elections in the coming year.  In addition she will need to temper the extreme animosity between the Christian and Muslim groups in the country.

Central African Republic has to hold a fresh election by February 2015 at the latest. France, however, wants the election to be held this year. Current law excludes the interim president from running.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, in a press interview. Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, added: “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope.”w/pix of Pres. Samba-Panza

Africa Was A Point Of Pride For Martin Luther King Jr.
By Rush Perez

Jan. 21 (GIN) – At a speaking engagement at Western Michigan University on Dec. 18, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalled his first trip to Africa with his wife Coretta to attend the independence day celebration of the new nation of Ghana. The couple was invited by the new President, Kwame Nkrumah.

“We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa,” he said. “But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty-seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”

Later, on Dec. 10, 1965 he gave a powerful speech at Hunter College in New York City, where he attacked the Apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as the governments of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and the Portuguese control of Mozambique and Angola.

True to form, Dr King utilized powerful language to make his points, beginning first with a deconstruction of the popular narrative of Africa at the time.

“Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives….Africa does have spectacular savages today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa… whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern day barbarians.”

He went on to call for an international boycott of South Africa.

After the independence day ceremonies in Ghana, Dr King said in a radio interview that: “This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions–not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America….It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice and that somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”

GHANAIAN JOURNALIST WHO INSPIRED YOUNGER WRITERS IS RECALLED  

Jan. 21 (GIN) – An accomplished and much-admired news writer from Ghana was recalled as “the face and voice of Africa – a new young, enterprising, international connected, ambitious Africa, with a can-do attitude.”

Komla Afeke Dumor passed unexpectedly this week at age 41 from cardiac arrest at his London home.

“He was not a praise-singer,” noted BBC Africa editor Solomon Mugera. “He was determined to present a balanced story, warts and all, and to show the human face behind the headlines.”

Dumor was a BBC World News presenter and the host of the Focus on Africa Program. He joined the BBC in 2006 after working for a decade as a journalist in Ghana. He was so popular in his home country that many Ghanaians changed their profiles on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to show a picture of him.

After moving to TV in 2009, he anchored live coverage of major events including the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il,  the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the death of Nelson Mandela in December.

Born in 1972 in Accra, Komla Dumor received graduate degrees from the University of Ghana and Harvard University.

Even as a number of African countries were being heralded as among the world’s fastest-growing economies, Dumor wanted to dig deeper, recalled Mugera.

“He knew that a select few were wining and dining in five-star hotels and driving the latest luxury cars, while in the same neighborhood there were families struggling to live on $1 a day.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a regional independent, non-governmental organisation based in Accra, shared their deep condolences for the loss of “one of Africa’s best journalists.”

“Komla raised the standard of journalism in Africa, and brought a lot of pride to many Ghanaians and Africans when he joined the BBC Africa Service and later, the World Service…  He was an an illustrious journalist and a trailblazer for many young journalists in Ghana and Africa as a whole. .. We have indeed lost a talented gem in journalism, Komla, damirifa due! Rest in peace!” the statement concluded.

In the words of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie:  “We have lost a star. Go well my discussant brother.”

Dumor leaves a wife, Kwansema Dumor, and three children. w/pix of K. Dumor

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

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

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

Zimbabwe orders Nigerians, other foreigners to close shops by Jan 1.


Robert-Mugabe

ZIMBABWEAN authorities say they have given foreign shop-owners mostly Nigerians

and Chinese an ultimatum to shut down their businesses by Jan. 1.

A top official of the black empowerment ministry said only Zimbabweans had the right to run shops that have sprung up across the country and are termed foreign businesses targeted under the nation’s black empowerment laws, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday.

Those laws, passed in 2007, demand foreign businesses to cede 51 percent control to local blacks.

The foreign shop owners have been criticised for taking retail trade opportunities from Zimbabwean traders by selling cheap imports.

Poor townships and city flea markets have in recent years been inundated by shops run by foreigners.

According to state media, shop owners who fail to comply will be arrested.

Source: Radio Biafra.

A Parable of Brainless Leaders By Okey Ndibe.


 

Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

There’s this apocryphal story that a friend of mine, an exiled Zimbabwean writer, told me a few years ago. It went like this. President Robert Mugabe had sent one of his ministers to represent him at an important state function in Japan, to which other leaders from different countries were also invited. On the day of the event, Mr. Mugabe’s representative was beset by a monstrous, migraine-grade headache. There was a danger that he would not be able to attend the event.

Urgent arrangements were made to take the pain-racked Zimbabwean biggie to a hospital. Japanese doctors x-rayed his head to determine the source of his malaise. Then they prescribed one or two medications, and, pronto, the man became fit enough to attend the official ceremony. As the Zimbabwean official left the hospital, the Japanese doctors gave him a sealed envelope addressed to President Mugabe.

Back in Zimbabwe, the minister went straight to President Mugabe’s office and delivered the envelope. The president slit it open. As he read the short letter, an expression of astonishment seized his face. The letter contained a simple request, expressed in a disarmingly direct tone. The Japanese doctors offered, upon the minister’s death, to buy his brain for $10 million. Mr. Mugabe’s astonishment soon gave way to fury.

“What is this?” he raged. “I’m the president of this country, and nobody has offered even five hundred dollars for my brain. But the Japanese want to pay $10 million for the brain of a man who is my mere minister. Something is wrong here.” For a moment, he held his minister in a blistering gaze. “You must have told them that you’re the brain of my cabinet. In fact, you must have boasted that you do all the thinking for this country,” he accused the man.

The minister, beads of perspiration on his forehead, body quavering, assured Mr. Mugabe that he never made any such boast. “Please call them,” the fear-gripped minister suggested, afraid that his life was on the line. “They will confirm that I never claimed to be Zimbabwe’s brain.”

Mr. Mugabe held his rage in check, and then dialed Japan. “President Mugabe here,” he announced imperiously. “What is this nonsense about buying my minister’s brain for $10 million when he dies?”

“Well, sir,” said a Japanese doctor, “we’re delighted that you called. You see, we treated your minister for a paralyzing headache during his visit to Tokyo. We scanned his brain in order to find out what caused his headache. We marveled at what the scan showed. You see, Mr. President, your minister is 75 years old, but his brain is still almost brand new, hardly used. That’s why we made an offer to buy it when he dies. We plan to implant the brain in somebody who knows how to make use of a brain. Let me assure you, Mr. President, that your minister made scientific history. This was the first time scientists anywhere in the world discovered a virtually unused brain in a certified old man. By the way, sir, if you can find a few more unused brains among your ministers, your country can earn huge revenues from brain exports.”

Mr. Mugabe smiled. “That’s no problem. I guarantee a steady supply.”

This narrative – the parable of the brainless leader – struck me as a powerful way to grasp the tragedy of Nigeria and many African countries caught in “a recurrent cycle of stupidity,” to borrow a phrase used years ago by Wole Soyinka. As I write, President Goodluck Jonathan and his delegation are on their way to the United States, to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Jonathan and his delegation have visited numerous other countries in the world, among them France, the UK, South Africa, China, Ethiopia, Brazil, Botswana, Belgium, Rwanda, and Germany. Without exception – even if to varying degrees – these are countries whose institutions work, where a visitor immediately gets a sense of a vital, organized leadership bringing vision and intelligence to bear.

The Nigerian president and his cohorts must see, in many of the countries they haunt, that streets are planned; water runs; there’s dependable electric power; police officers do their jobs, without prompting or intervention by the powers-that-be; the judiciary is demonstrably independent; the healthcare system is healthy and caring; schools deliver quality education, equipping students with skills and ethical grounding; the environment is clean; and the economy is buoyant, constantly producing jobs and enhancing the quality of life of citizens and residents alike.

By contrast, Nigeria is a veritable zoo, a social jungle where might determines right, a sheepdom run by a coterie of mediocrities. To hear somebody described as a “chieftain” in Nigeria is, almost as a rule, to encounter a thief – a “thieftain”! When Nigerian officials speak about somebody as a “stakeholder,” the person so identified is invariably a certified, brainless buffoon who contributes nothing to society, but who receives huge handouts – oil blocks, security votes, constituency allowance, or inflated contracts. These thieftains and steakholders relish foreign trips aboard the presidential jets or in the first class cabins of commercial airlines. They gloat as they luxuriate in the comforts provided by the ingenuity and enterprise of other people, and bask in the fineries of societies that have struck a prudent balance between production and consumption.

Chinua Achebe wrote in The Trouble with Nigeria, his most polemical work, “There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

I’d add that there’s nothing wrong with the brains of Nigerian leaders – nor with the broad class of the country’s elite. The tragedy lies, I suggest, in the refusal of a good number of them to exercise their mental faculty for their good and the good of their society. In their shameful fascination with conspicuous consumption – especially of the goods and services of other people – those who run (and ruin) Nigeria forget that the expensive products they treasure and the comforts they bask in when they travel to better-organized societies – are the result of human imagination matched by commitment.

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Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Mugabe Party Official Probed Over $6 Million Diamond Bribe.


HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean police announced a probe Friday into a top member of President Robert Mugabe‘s party on suspicion of soliciting a $6-million bribe from a Ghanaian investor in a diamond-mining deal.

“The case of corruption allegations against Mr. Godwills Masimirembwa is receiving our attention and preliminary investigations are going on,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said in a statement.

Masimirembwa, a former board chairman for the state-owned diamond firm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), is said to have demanded a bribe of $6 million (4.4 million euros) from Gye Nyame Resources.

The Ghanaian company had entered into a joint venture with ZMDC with a 30 percent stake.

When the west African firm wanted to bring its equipment into Zimbabwe, Masimirembwa allegedly claimed that it had violated some unspecified laws and warned that its personnel would be arrested if they set foot in the country.

Police expect the graft investigations to move “speedily” once a Ghanaian businessman, Manson Mnaba, who is chairman of the Gye Nyame Resources, makes a formal statement of complaint “as he is the crown witness.”

Masimirembwa, who is also a former lawyer, had resigned from the ZMDC ahead of elections in July to run as a parliamentary candidate for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party.

He lost to an opposition candidate.

Mugabe vowed at the opening of a new session of parliament this week that his new government “will exercise zero tolerance to the scourge of corruption.”

In a rare disciplinary move early this year, Mugabe’s party suspended five senior officials over allegations they had extorted money from foreign mining companies.

Zimbabwe’s diamond trade has become synonymous with graft, torture, and murder, which human-rights watchers have linked to some of the highest powers in the land.

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

A Would-be Watershed Election? Zimbabweans Go To The Polls Amid Claims Of Irregularities.


By Lynsey Chutel

“My passport is ready. If MDC doesn’t win, I will do whatever it takes to have even a little bit of freedom,” says Knowledge Nyaruwa as he surveys a sea of red where almost a hundred thousand supporters of Zimbabwe’s official opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change gathered in the final rally on Monday June 29th before polls opened. Nyaruwa is one of some 6.4 million Zimbabweans registered to vote since the power-sharing government was formed after the violence that erupted following the 2008 elections.

At 25, Nyaruwa was born after the country’s independence, yet Robert Mugabe is the only leader he has ever known. Dubbed the harmonious election, many of the restrictions of the 2008 election have been lifted and Nyaruwa is one of the lucky few who will vote as more than two million young people are believed to have been excluded from the voters’ roll by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission. As someone under the age of thirty likely to vote for the opposition party formed fourteen years ago, Nyaruwa now had the rare privilege to express his political choice in this open field in downtown Harare, with the Zanu-PF headquarters just a block away.

Nyaruwa jokes that Mugabe is watching the rally from his office high in the imposing towers of his party headquarters. Dwarfing any official government building, the block of brown concrete with the symbol of a rooster on a single reed as if ready to pounce rises high above any commercial building in the city centre. Police had threatened anyone caught dancing, but MDC-T supporters gathered in defiance singing songs of praise to Tsvangirai.

Like its headquarters, Zanu-PF is an inescapable presence in Harare. The derelict buildings of a depressed business area are covered with campaign posters depicting a much younger Mugabe without his tell-tale signature moustache shaved in the austere fashion worn by Adolf Hitler. Away from the row of green posters, the red T-shirts and caps of the party known as the MDC-T welcome Morgan Tsvangirai as their would-be leader.

For Special Bote, Morgan Tsvangirai’s personal scandal and a split in the party do not tarnish him as their only hope. He is more concerned with the possibility of a rigged vote. “We need security of the vote. After voting the correct figures should be relayed to the national command centre as it is, we don’t need more tampering of the vote,” says Bote. An ardent supporter of Morgan Tsvangirai, 48-year-old Bote was a property developer but can only find a job as a security guard.

The MDC-T has complained throughout this campaign of unfairness. The Zimbabwean Election Committee only submitted a hard copy of the voters roll to the party less than twenty four hours before polls opened. Struggling to check the hundreds of pages of hard copy given to them, civil society organisations say there may be more than 1.7 million people on the roll who have left the country or died. The location of the polls was only made known on July 29th.

Election day had not yet ended when the MDC-T lodged a number of grievances with observers from the Southern African Development Community, the key regional body who ensured elections took place at all. Unconfirmed reports of intimidation have also been cited on social networks. The MDC-T believes what was supposed to be an independent Zimbabwean Electoral Commission was infiltrated by government securocrats. “If ZEC cannot do the job, then they must tell us,” said Tsvangirai. “If they [the commissioners] were men and women of integrity, they would step down.

The MDC-T said it had evidence that hundreds of ballot papers showing support for the party had been trashed in the special election for civil servants which was held a fortnight before. Little came of the MDC-T’s calls, with state police retaliating by arresting their campaign leader, Morgan Komichi when he handed over the envelope of evidence to the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission. The Commission has remained tight-lipped and refused to comment despite numerous attempts to reach out to the commissioners.

Despite this, African Union Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma visited the country a week before polls. In a press briefing, Dlamini-Zuma said she had met with all parties involved in the election and that the polls were on track. Just hours later, Tsvangirai called his own press conference. Livid and leaning over the podium as he pointed at the lenses of the foreign media’s cameras, the former trade unionist called the AU chair a liar adding that Dlamini-Zuma had never met privately with the MDC-T leader and that her observer team had simply ignored the cries of irregularities from his party officials.

President Robert Mugabe, however, was much more genial in his responses to the foreign press. In a press conference called after electioneering had officially ended, Mugabe dismissed questions by journalists that chiefs have been initimidating rural voters, joking that “A chief would not come from his throne to intimidate a villager, unless he mistook it for a cheetah.”

Mugabe called an impromptu press briefing at his state home just a day before elections. Inviting the foreign press to answer any question they wanted, Mugabe said he would step down if he lost adding that he would probably spend his retirement teaching and telling stories. But the 89-year-old’s health has seen more speculation, with rumours that he was suffering from a serious heart condition and possibly even prostate cancer whirring around Harare. “The foreign press is always reporting that I have died. I have died, and died and died, but they never report my resurrection,” Mugabe said.

“There is no party like Zanu-PF,” Zimbabwe’s only president since independence said, giving journalists a history lesson on the party’s role in the liberation struggle. These struggle credentials are the guiding light Mugabe believes will map the country’s journey out of economic struggle and guide it’s path of prosperity long after the President has passed.

Mugabe’s supporters are just as confident. James, a Zanu-PF supporter who was open about just where he placed the cross on his ballot said Mugabe’s party was his only future. The results of the harmonised election are expected no later than August 5th.

For Nyaruwa, though, the liberation movement offers little freedom. “My friends say there’s freedom of speech in Zimbabwe, but there’s no freedom after you speak,” says Nyaruwa. His BlackBerry smartphone has very limited access to the internet, despite Zimbabwe’s high speed internet facilities. His BlackBerry messenger service does not function at all. He believes the government has disabled the service because they cannot control it.

The 25-year old student left the country a year ago to work in South Africa. He has returned, with some savings and is now a first year financial accounting student at the local trust college. His weekends are spent in a packed mini-bus taxi as he ferries with commuters from Harare’s formerly segregated townships on the outskirts to the bustling but dilapidated city centre.

Nyaruwa and Bote are clear that they are voting for the MDC and would do so within the twelve hours set aside for election at one of the more than 9,700 polling stations across the country. Zimbabwe’s urban areas are expected to lean toward Tsvangirai’s MDC-T. The breakaway faction, the MDC-N, lead by the former Minister of Trade and Commerce Welshman Ncube, may make some headway in provinces dominated by the Ndebele people.

Zimbabwe’s rural areas though, seem to remain loyal to President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe cast his ballot at Mofhu Primary School in an impoverished Highfields township, on the outskirts of the city. It’s where he was registered as a voter, while he lives in Harare’s leafy suburbs close to the business hub. Speaking to journalists, Mugabe said he was confident the elections would be without incident. In the meantime the African Union has declared the election free and fair.

If the result takes longer than five days, Bote says he cannot go to the streets for fear of retribution, instead he implored the international community to intervene, saying countries like South Africa and the United States would be Zimbabwe’s last chance.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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