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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Items filtered by date: March 2012
 
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Friday, 16 March 2012 14:11

Nigeria parliament inflates 2012 budget

 

Nigeria parliament inflates 2012 budget, may cause stalemate. Higher spending risks monetary tightening

Nigeria's parliament passed the 2012 budget on Thursday with higher expenditure than the finance minister advised, risking further delays to implementing spending plans if President Goodluck Jonathan refuses to approve them.

 

Spending plans for Africa's second largest economy have a history of being delayed, leaving ministries uncertain of how much money they will have until months into the year. Last year lawmakers inflated spending proposed by government but Jonathan sent back the budget and asked them to make more cuts, before a compromise was reached weeks later.

 

Government departments often lobby legislators to increase spending on their ministries. One of the reasons given for the increase in the Senate was to fund a programme to help the poor adjust to an eventual scrapping of fuel subsidies. Nigeria's lower and upper house agreed total expenditure of 4.88 trillion naira ($31 billion), increased from 4.65 trillion proposed by Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala last month.

 

The spending plans assume a $72 a barrel benchmark oil price, up from $70 in the proposal submitted by Okonjo-Iweala, boosting revenues available to the government. Africa's largest oil exporter saves money it earns over the benchmark price to cushion the economy against price shocks and economists and the Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi have urged lawmakers not to push it above $70 barrel.

The budget assumes oil production of 2.48 million barrels per day, an exchange rate of 155 naira to the dollar, 9.5 percent inflation and GDP growth of 7.2 percent. These are all unchanged from last month's proposal. Delays to the budget, widespread corruption and a patronage culture means many of the capital projects proposed in budgets never get completed, leaving infrastructure dilapidated. Okonjo-Iweala says improving implementation is a top priority.

 

Despite holding the world's seventh-largest gas reserves Nigeria only produces enough electricity to power a medium-sized European city, putting a major break on economic development."In our view the first question is how much of the budgeted capital expenditure will actually be implemented," said Alan Cameron, an economist at Nigerian stockbroker CSL, noting that 2011 saw just over three quarters implemented, an improvement on a historical average of around half.

 

STRONG GROWTH, WEAK GOVERNANCE

President Goodluck Jonathan won an election last year pledging to create jobs, overhaul electricity production, unlock the huge gas reserves and cut poverty.Reform plans have since stalled. A bill aimed at reforming the energy sector has been stuck in parliament for years, while a proposed sovereign wealth fund, the 2012 budget and power privatisation plans are months behind schedule.

 

Despite institutional bottlenecks, Nigeria's economy grew at a faster rate in the fourth quarter last year, rising 7.68 percent, compared with 7.4 percent in the previous quarter, even as the oil production that provides most of the country's export revenues declined.


Analysts say growth in the non-oil sector is encouraging.

 

"Increased reliance on non-oil revenue is the trend that we hope to see over the medium term, otherwise the pace of spending growth Nigeria has seen in recent years will not be sustainable. Broadbased development typically has a lasting impact - non-renewable resources do not," said Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered.

 

But there remains huge scepticism over the government's ability to contain spending, reflected in a continual raiding of its oil savings in the excess crude account (ECA) over the past few years, while oil prices have stuck at historic highs. Nigeria passed a law in May last year to set up a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) but powerful state governors have tried to block its launch and there is no clarity on its status.

 

The SWF was supposed to replace the ECA, which can be too easily dipped into, and save for future generations, finance infrastructure projects and provide a stabilisation fund to defend the economy against oil price falls. But its launch has been held up by wrangling, and it will still ultimately rely on the government's own fiscal restraint.

 

Standard Bank's Samir Gadio said this and previous budgets "tend to suggest that large segments of the political elite are still not comfortable with the concept of fiscal restraint." "There is no doubt that an oil-producing country like Nigeria should have posted a massive consolidated fiscal surplus amid elevated oil prices, but the continued monetisation of excess crude account proceeds prevents ... improvement in this area," he said.

REUTERS

 

Kony 2012! That is what I first saw when I opened facebook on Tuesday. My first thought was that Kony was someone running for president. My perception soon changed after doing a little research.

 

In early March, Invisible Children created a video called "Kony 2012." It racked up more than 50 million hits in just a few days, and highlights the atrocities against the children as well as efforts to stop Kony. Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, an army that kidnaps children and uses them as sex slaves and child soldiers. The video calls on people around the world to get their governments to act.

 

This was a very different kind of movement -- it was and continues to be led by young people. Most of the video's viewers are teenagers. The video promises to give kids a voice -- the voice that many teenagers feel they lack. However, we can be easily misled. As soon as I heard about Kony 2012, I also saw the backlash against the movement. I wanted to know more.

 

We can all agree that Kony is an evil person who needs to be stopped. His influence reaches from Uganda to Congo to Sudan. However, the video ignores the facts. Kony has not been in Uganda for six years -- he was forced out by the Ugandan military long before the U.S. intervened in 2010. Also, the LRA is only estimated to have 200-300 members, down from the thousands it had. Kony was at his height in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. The Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Ugandan military -- which Inivisible Children works with -- are both accused of human rights abuses. The SPLA has burned scores of villages and raped hundreds of women and girls. When Kony was strong, as an Associated Press article notes, "the Ugandan government was often accused of failing to do enough to capture or kill Kony, with some government investigations showing that army officers profiteered from a protracted war."

 

The fact of the matter is that the video is misleading. This propaganda was meant to create a popular outcry -- which it did. Millions of people bought wristbands and posters, changed their Facebook profile picture, shared the video, and discussed it. However, not everybody knows, or has considered, the facts. The video is not the whole truth.

 

Invisible children only spends about a third of the money it collects toward direct aid to the Ugandan military and forces that are trying to stop Kony. The remaining two-thirds is used mainly for salaries and movie-making. As even the Co-Founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell admits that this is not a traditional charity that does "amazing work on the ground." As a CNN article points out, "Critics say 'Kony 2012' will draw resources away from more effective charity organizations while reinforcing the idea that Africans are helpless and that Westerners must intervene to save them."

 Kony 2012 A still from Kony 2012 shows a child soldier from the Lord's Resistance Army, run by its brutal leader Joseph Kony. Pic: Guardian UK

Angelo Izama, journalist and founder of the Fankaka Kwawote think tank in Uganda, says: "For many in the conflict prevention community including those who worry about the further militarization of Central Africa, this campaign is another bad solution to a more difficult problem."

 

The United States does not need to continue to be the police force of the world. The Cold War is over, but the Cold-War attitude has not left us completely. The truth must be told: we cannot stop every bad person in the world. Osama Bin Laden and his forces directly attacked the United States -- he was a good target.

 

Of course we are the wealthiest and strongest nation on earth, so we can help stop mass killings. Backing Israel if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon could save many lives. Taking down Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad (who is killing his own people) could save thousands of lives.

 

Kony's forces, on the other hand, are very small and infrequently pop up and kill people. We do not have the resources to make the world violence-free. We must act in our own interests and the interests of our allies, not be the policemen of the world.

 

The one exception to the rule above, I believe, is the United Nations. If countries in the UN Security Council are willing to step up and take down Kony, the U.S. should pledge its resources. But the time for unilateral police action is over.

 

We saw this in Iraq and Afghanistan -- it is not as simple as it sounds. In Iraq, creating a government was difficult because many didn't even want a unified democracy. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the government does not even control the region where the terrorists are.

 

How about a new proposal -- Africa 2012. Let's remove the focus from Kony and put it on the people. Kony continues to survive because the country has very poor infrastructure and economy. The government is not powerful enough to act, and the people are not able to resist him either. A strong, wealthy country would not (and none do) have a similar problem.

 

But why stop at Uganda? European interference caused the problem of cyclical poverty. It is time the Western countries came together to get rid of this problem. If we are able to modernize their economy and help them compete in the global market, it would solve a lot of their problems.

 

It would also be in our best interest. This would provide new markets for us to expand into. This is a market of a little over a billion people who currently have little purchasing power. So we should focus on charities and movements dedicated to helping the people, not committed to violence. Kony 2012 is fighting violence with violence. I say we fight violence with economics.


Karthik  Palaniappan is a teen participant in the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political organization for high school students.

 

 

Thursday, 15 March 2012 13:31

The African Billionaires 2012 Forbes List

 

The African Billionaires List

 

A record 1,226 billionaires made it to FORBES’ annual ranking of the World’s richest people. African billionaires occupied a little over 1% of the positions on the list. Here are the 16 Africans who made the cut:

 

Aliko Dangote, $11.2 billion Nigeria, Sugar, Cement, Flour

Aliko Dangote

Africa’s cement king has shed more than $2.6 billion from his net worth since last year as a consequence of Nigeria’s floundering stock market. But don’t feel sorry: Dangote still remains the richest man on the continent.  He famously started trading commodities three decades ago with a business loan from an uncle, then went on to build the $15 billion (combined market capitalization) Dangote Group which now has interests in everything from sugar refineries, flour milling, salt processing and cement plants in Nigeria, Zambia, Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa.


Nicky Oppenheimer & family, $6.8 billion  South Africa, Diamonds

Nicky Oppenheimer & family

Last November, Oppenheimer agreed to a historic sale of his family’s 40% stake in De Beers, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds to Anglo American in a $5.1 billion deal. Oppenheimer has vowed to invest a substantial part of the money in Africa. So far, he has invested heavily in Tana Africa Capital, a $300 million private equity joint venture with Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings. The fund will invest primarily in the agricultural and consumer goods sectors across Africa. Passionate cricketer.

 

Nassef Sawiris, $5.1 billion   Egypt, Construction

Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris, the youngest son of Orascom conglomerate founder and fellow billionaire, Onsi Sawiris, heads Orascom Construction Industries, one of Egypt’s largest publicly-traded companies. Sawiris also owns substantial stakes in cement companies Lafarge and Texas Industries.

 

Johann Rupert & family, $5.1 billion South Africa, Luxury Goods

Johann Rupert & family


Mike Adenuga, $4.3 billion Nigeria, telecom, banking, oil

Mike Adenuga

Reclusive tycoon was the first Nigerian to strike oil in commercial quantities through his firm, Conoil Producing. Today, the company is Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil exploration company producing some 100,000 barrels per day. Also owns Globacom, Nigeria’s second largest mobile telecom operator which boasts over 15 million active subscribers.

 

Naguib Sawiris, $3.1 billion  Egypt, Telecom

Naguib Sawiris

 

Christoffel Wiese, $3.1 billion South Africa, Retailing

Christoffel Wiese

 

 

Onsi Sawiris, $2.9 billion Egypt, construction, telecom

Onsi Sawiris

 

Miloud Chaabi, $2.9 billion Morocco, Real estate

 

Patrice Motsepe, $2.7 billion South Africa, Mining

Patrice Motsepe

Born in the sprawling black township of Soweto and then trained as a lawyer, he became the first black partner at Bowman Gilfillan law firm in Johannesburg. Went on to found a small contracting business doing mine scut work, then bought low-producing gold shaft mines in 1994 which he turned profitable using lean management style. Today, his $5 billion (market cap) African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) has interests in platinum, nickel, chrome, iron, manganese, coal, copper and gold. Motsepe owns over 41% of the company. Also owns a 5% stake in Sanlam, a financial services firm outside Cape Town.

 

Othman Benjelloun, $2.3 billion  Morocco, banking, insurance

Othman Benjelloun

 

Mohamed Mansour, $1.7 billion Egypt, Diversified

Mohamed Mansour

 

Anas Sefrioui, $1.6 billion Morocco, Real estate

 

 

Yasseen Mansour, $1.6 billion Egypt, Diversified

Yasseen Mansour


 

Youssef Mansour, $1.5 billion Egypt, Diversified

Youssef Mansour

 


Mohamed Al Fayed, $1.3 billion  Egypt, retailing

Mohamed Al Fayed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 15 March 2012 13:04

PhotoNews: ARISE Fashion Week in Nigeria

 

ARISE Magazine Fashion Week bonanza in Nigeria

"ARISE Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos, now in its second year, highlighted the work of mostly African or Africa-influenced designers. The 77 designers offered a range of outfits blending traditional fabrics with international aesthetics. Africa-influenced fashion, from Yves St. Laurent's 1960s collections to Proenza Schouler and Derek Lam's Spring 2012 shows, have been featured in designs for decades. Now, however, more and more African fashion designers are using both their heritage and international trends to gain attention on the world stage." CBS/AP

 

 

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

 

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

Fashion Week in NigeriaFashion Week in Nigeria

 

Pictures Credit: EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images

 

Nigerian Violence mostly directed toward churches

Outbreaks of violence throughout Nigeria have been occurring recently, mostly with violence directed towards churches. Attacks have been attributed to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, who took responsibility for attacks on various cities on Christmas Day of 2011, which resulted in 35 people being killed, 32 of which were at a Catholic church in Madalla. The attacks consist mostly of car bombs, but guns have been used as well.

 

The latest bombing killed four people when a car filled with explosives rammed into the compound of Cocin, also known as the Church Of Christ, headquarters in Jos. The car went through a security checkpoint and toward a gate which was left open, according to CNN. The driver struck and killed one woman before his car rammed into the compound, killing churchgoers. The body of the driver was found in pieces around the area.

 

Mark Lipdo, a member of the church that was attacked, and program coordinator of the Stefanos Foundation, which aims to help persecuted Christians in Nigeria and other places told CNN, “It's pandemonium. There are a lot of pepole who are concerned-- some are on their way to church and fear more attacks.”

The devastating scene outside St Theresa Catholic Church near the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday.

The blast was heard kilometers away, and about 30 cars in the compound had their glass blown out by the explosion. Lipdo was on his way to the second service of the day when the blast happened, which was also about 15 minutes into the first service of the day.

 

“I think this is something that needs multiple countries to come together to try and find what can possibly be done to stop them,” said Fau Fonua, a freshman from Tonga majoring in education, “but unless that happens, it could be very hard to do anything.”

 

It is not clear who is responsible for the attack, but this attack is similar to previous attacks by Boko Haram, whose name translates to “Western education is outlawed” from the local Hausa language.

The locations of the bomb blasts in Nigeria.

In Nov. Boko Haram converged on the city of Damaturu, killing more than 100 people in a series of previous thought out bombings and gun attacks. Boko Haram targets police outposts and churches, as well as anything they see as being associated with “western influence.”

 

Brian Ufi, a junior from Samoa majoring in ICS Anthropology with a minor in political science and working towards the Intercultural Peace Building Certificate said, “As an IPB student I would feel sorry for those involved. I would say there is probably some misunderstanding or cultural difference that needs to be bridged. I would suggest mediators intervene so that understanding of each others point of view can be clarified.”

 

Ke Alakai - BYU-Hawaii Student News Lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 12 March 2012 17:42

CHINA’S PIECE OF THE AFRICAN CAKE

CHINA AND AFRICA

We all know that China is deeply invested in Africa. There is, at least on the surface, a mutually beneficial relationship to be had between China and individual nation states. China has money, the capacity to invest and build in Africa, and tends not to be too concerned with such niceties as human rights. Africa has natural resources, a craving for outside investment, and a desire to work with investors who won’t go about encroaching on national sovereignty.

 

So what are the countries that most benefit from Chinese investment and partnership? The Christian Science Monitor has a slideshow of the top five. The top three will come as no surprise: Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan are big countries with vast (and reasonably developed) oil resources and are happy to partner with China, which is happy to extract the oil while ignoring the political situation on the ground. The last two are something of a surprise. Mauritania has experienced two coups in the last decade, but it seems that on all political sides there is agreement on a desire for a heightened Chinese presence in a country that has both burgeoning reserves and an ambitious port project.

 

President Zuma in China

 

Coming in fifth is Botswana, which does not have oil like the other four, but it does have abundant natural resources, a fast-growing economy in a stable society, and a desire for strong investment partnerships. China is happy to reciprocate. Anyone who has spent time in Gabarone and has visited the University of Botswana or the National Stadium has seen the almost stunning volume of building that Chinese companies are carrying out.

 

Chinese involvement in Africa is a dual-edged sword. After all, looking beyond the West for investment and other partnerships makes complete sense, especially in a post-Cold War world where the bilateral struggle for dominance by the superpowers that led to considerable (if oftentimes deleterious) attention from the United States and Soviet Union gave way to not-so-benign neglect. But the question remains whether many African states are inviting unintended consequences much like those they faced during the Cold War when they largely represented pawns in a  geo-political game. It’s savvy to look east as long as doing so does not preclude continuing to peer westward as well. Indeed, looking both ways and not going all-in with any particular partner, however seductive, might just provide the best path for true growth, development, and political autonomy.

 

Derek Charles Catsam is a  blogger for Foreign policy Blogs     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

The killing in West Africa of a Briton and his Italian colleague by Islamist extremists takes international terrorism a horrific step forward.

 

Few outside Nigeria noticed the death of Mohammed Yusuf, a radical preacher, at the hands of the country’s famously brutal police almost three years ago. The only achievement of a man who had publicly insisted that the Earth was flat appeared to have been the creation of a quixotic Islamist cult dedicated to banning Western education.

 

Today, Boko Haram – Yusuf’s creation – has become one of the deadliest terrorist movements in North Africa and the chosen vehicle for al-Qaeda to penetrate the largely Muslim states of northern Nigeria. The ideology of global jihad would have inspired those who kidnapped Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, the British and Italian hostages who died in the failed rescue mission on Thursday.

 

The arrival of this pitiless worldview in Africa’s most populous country is Yusuf’s most lasting legacy. His posthumous achievement – if that is the correct term – serves as a reminder of the impact that one charismatic figure and a highly motivated cult-like movement can have in an impoverished country where all forms of state authority are corrupt and ineffectual.

 

Yusuf founded Boko Haram, which loosely translates as “Western Education is Prohibited”, in 2002 with the aim of purging northern Nigeria of the corruption and decadence of the Western way of life. This extended to stamping out scientific beliefs that Yusuf held to be incompatible with Islamic teaching.

On the question of how rain is made, he insisted: “We believe it is the creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.” As for the suggestion that the earth is a sphere, Yusuf said this alien theory “runs contrary to the teachings of Allah”.

 

 

But the preacher was careful not to reject every aspect of Western culture, at least so far as his own life was concerned. “He lives lavishly and drives a Mercedes-Benz,” one of his contemporaries once remarked. “He is very well-educated in a Western context.” It was not long before Nigeria’s security services had labelled Boko Haram the Nigerian “Taliban”, even though it had no known links with the Afghan movement.

 

The group soon came into conflict with the Nigerian security services, and Yusuf was personally blamed for instigating a wave of attacks against government buildings in northern Nigeria, in which hundreds were killed. He was detained and, within hours of being taken to a local police station, it was announced that he had been shot dead “while trying to escape”.

 

Given the security forces’ reputation for brutality, there was general scepticism about this claim. A few hours before his death, Yusuf, 39, had been filmed at the police station looking calm and relaxed as he cooperated fully with his interrogators’ questions. Later footage showed his bullet-riddled body lying on the police station floor, covered in blood.

 

Whether Yusuf himself had any dealings with al-Qaeda is unclear. The Nigerian security forces claim they seized weapons and ammunition supplied by Islamist sympathisers when they raided his home in the northern state of Borno.

 

What is not in dispute is that since Yusuf’s death in July 2009, Boko Haram has formed close links with al-Qaeda’s North African network, to the extent that it now tops the list of emerging terrorist threats being tracked by the major Western intelligence agencies.

 

Last month, the head of Nigeria’s armed forces publicly accused Boko Haram of having ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terrorist organisation’s North African branch. This group, which is particularly active in the Saharan states of Mali, Niger and Algeria, now provides arms, expertise and ideological inspiration to support Boko Haram’s increasingly effective activities against the Nigerian authorities.

 

In January, the group struck eight targets in the northern city of Kano, killing at least 185 people in the space of a few hours. The tactics used in this assault bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda: suicide bombers and gunmen were used to inflict the maximum number of casualties.

 

The radicalisation of Nigerian Muslims first entered the public consciousness in the West when the “underpants bomber” failed to blow up an American passenger jet as it landed at Detroit airport in December 2009. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who is now serving a life sentence in the US, took a degree in mechanical engineering at University College London, before travelling to Yemen, where he was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-educated jihadist who was killed by a drone strike last September, to join “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.

 

Awlaki, who masterminded a number of high-profile plots against the West, trained the young Nigerian for his suicide mission, and provided him with the explosive device which, fortunately, failed to detonate.

 

So why has al-Qaeda, whose main base of operations has historically been in the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, suddenly turned its attention to West Africa? The main reason for this change in emphasis is the success the Nato mission to Afghanistan has had in denying al-Qaeda the ability to plan attacks from the region. The relentless pressure brought to bear against its terrorist infrastructure there, particularly following last year’s assassination of Osama bin Laden, has forced the group to seek new havens.

 

Al-Qaeda has always exploited the ungoverned territory of failed Muslim states to set up its training camps and terror cells – which explains why Yemen and Somalia have recently emerged as new centres. More recently, al-Qaeda sympathisers have been actively seeking to exploit for their own ends the wave of anti-government protests that have swept the Arab world. They were involved in the overthrow of Libya’s Gaddafi regime last year, and are known to have been participating in anti-government protests in Syria.

 

The al-Qaeda network is tenacious in its pursuit of new, safe territory from which it can pursue its radical Islamist agenda, and the fact that the Nigerian government is struggling to exert its control over the Muslim states in the country’s north makes them an attractive proposition. The group’s ability to exploit such opportunities in the Muslim world certainly makes a compelling argument in favour of Britain and its Nato allies maintaining their military commitment to Afghanistan until the task of stabilising the war-torn country has been completed.

 

The deaths this week of six British soldiers, after their Warrior armoured personnel carrier was blown up by a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban, has inevitably led to calls for our Armed Forces to be brought home at the earliest opportunity. But while no one wants to see our young troops daily risking their lives, let us not forget that, if we leave Afghanistan before some form of sustainable infrastructure has been established, it won’t be long before al-Qaeda is building a new network of terror camps in the country, with all the implications that will have for our future security.

 

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 11 March 2012 19:25

Ojukwu and the Nigerian hypocrisy

In Nigeria and, indeed, many societies all over the world, it is not normal for bad things to be said about the dead. The simple reason which many lawyers also echo is that the dead is lifeless and can no longer be in a position to respond to the things said about him or her.

 

This is the current fate of Ikemba Nnewi and Biafran hero Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu. In death, so many good things have been written and spoken about Ojukwu, a man the Nigerian nation loved to hate.

We are today satisfied that Ojukwu and indeed pro-democracy martyrs have been vindicated following the events after his death. Therefore Ojukwu represents in our time, the brightest star that shines in the firmament once in many generations.

 

National show of sympathy and events around Ojukwu’s burial show that majority of Nigerians and their elites are mere hypocrites and selfish. This is the singular reason why the nation is not growing despite the enormity of human and natural resources available at her disposal. The avalanche of bad eggs in the system has completely emasculated progressive voices.

Backwardness in several areas of national development in Nigeria has reached a dangerous crescendo, forcing many to consider the option of a revolution as the only way out of this quagmire.

 

If Nigeria had listened to Ojukwu while he was alive, if Nigeria had absorbed the message Ojukwu donated to this nation even as a young officer in the Nigeria Army; if our leaders, past and present, would be more patriotic and confront the issues of national development head on the way Ojukwu pursued his quest for a just society, our nation would be a paradise today.

 

Present and future generation of Nigerians would not consider Ojukwu a greedy man because his alleged sins have been forgiven by those who didn’t want him. He wore a military rank of general to the grave. The honour that he never enjoyed while alive, Ojukwu got it as he lay lifeless before interment. The message of peaceful co-existence as a nation based on justice and fairness which Ojukwu’s life and travails

represent are the new national compass.

 

While those who have contributed to bring shame to this country were shedding crocodile “tears” that Ojukwu was gone, the truth remains that inwardly, they are happy that like Gani Fawehinmi, this “troublesome man” is dead and gone forever.

Ojukwu represents Biafra. Biafra, like June 12, represents an idea and no human force can wipe that idea away until Nigeria and Nigerians resort to the path of moral rectitude. If it does not come today, surely tomorrow is another day.

 

Nigeria is a nation deeply rooted in injustice and inequity. Poor and lack of visionary leadership, corruption, poverty and disease have taken over the entire fabric of our nation and the centre can no longer hold. While other nations that were poorer or at par with Nigeria at some point even after Ojukwu had spoken and acted, are richer today. Meanwhile, our limping giant of Africa is still battling to define itself. If it is not Niger Delta militancy, it is Boko Haram or fuel subsidy removal and epileptic refineries, or National Assembly’s endless and spineless probes of one monumental fraud or the other, etc.

 

At Ojukwu’s time were notable leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and their contemporaries who were older than him and called the shots in Nigeria. Our minds have been agitating as to what went wrong with visionary leadership at that time. How come these great minds and nationalists did not see what Ojukwu, at a relatively younger age saw? Even after that era, our leaders have failed to follow that path of glory till today.

 

While Ojukwu was in exile, it was good for those who did not want him alive and they are numerous in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria. At a time, the fear of Ojukwu was the beginning of wisdom. When the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari granted him pardon and Ojukwu returned from Ivory Coast where he was in exile, hatred trailed him.

 

Ojukwu joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) instead of Zik’s Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), a move many saw as betraying the cause of the Ibos. He explained that it was better to navigate the Ibos into the mainstream than be at the periphery of national politics. This was a time that the NPN had perfected strategies of rigging the 1983.

 

Former Communications Minister Alhaji Ibrahim Tahir was detailed by the NPN to handle the elections in Anambra State where unfortunately Ojukwu was an NPN Senatorial candidate. The North did not hide their distaste for Ojukwu and his presence in the senate would have been a threat to Shagari and the Northern interest. It was for that reason that after the NPN had swept the other elections in the South East using a sophisticated machine, Tahir cleverly withdrew his machine a few days to the senatorial election and in anger, the Ibos voted for the NPP candidate and Ojukwu again failed.

 

At that time the same NPN rigging machine also enthroned Chief C.C. Onoh as the new governor of Anambra State as incumbent Governor Jim Nwobodo was rigged out.

It was the same commando style of election rigging as well as the colossal mismanagement of the national economy that paved the way for the overthrow of the Shagari administration by Major General Mohammadu Buhari and Major General Tunde Idiagbon on December 31, 1983.

 

So the point here really is that many of those who are speaking in glowing terms about the ideals of Ojukwu are merely being hypocritical. They hated Ojukwu and his ideals. His message was an anathema to them.

Unfortunately, no matter how many years it takes, Nigeria must address the issues that Ojukwu’s life and time represented to us. Questions relating to how Nigerians will live happily together in a progressive nation where equality will be respected and no one will be oppressed must be addressed. There is no other option to point the way forward.

 

My friend Ignatius Chukwu is a journalist of Ibo extraction with a national character. He is one of those we classify as truly Nigerian. Recently he examined Ojukwu’s death as it affects the South East and South-South coalition and the abandoned property issue. We find it relevant here. He said in part: “Today, the face of Ikemba Nnewi adorns two strategic places he could hardly have been free to touch while alive, the Brick House and Isaac Boro Park. Many believe that most of the south-southerners and south-easterners can hardly go to the larger Nigeria in one voice. The politics of the South-south seems to be shaped by a fierce opposition to what the Southeast stands for. The mantra in the South-south is that the Southeast maltreated them and so must be rejected and resisted. This message seems to pass from father to son.

 

The contrast in the two zones came to a head in the civil war period when Enugu fought for Biafra but Port Harcourt stood for Nigeria. Ojukwu’s desire to fight for one region, one destiny, and one voice in Nigeria was therefore punctuated. The Igbo man views Nigeria as a symbol of oppression, Port Harcourt political club views the Igbo as symbol of oppression. This perception seems to rule the inter-zonal relationship.

 

Isaac Boro himself confessed in his autobiography that he launched his 12 days revolution because an Igbo man (Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi) became Nigeria’s head of state, and probably because Ojukwu became Military governor of the east. When a northerner took over from Aguiyi-Ironsi, Boro said he dropped his agitation and rather joined the federal effort to keep Nigeria one, a cause he died for. Ojukwu never got Boro’s endorsement while both lived.

 

Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Niger Delta hero and icon, never spared a pint of love for Ojukwu and whatever he stood for. Ojukwu was to tell reporters in Port Harcourt about seven years ago during his reception that it was Wiwa that always attacked him literally, and never did he (Ojukwu) once attack Wiwa. And when Ojukwu died and the nation, both friend and foe, rose in unison of salute to a misunderstood hero, the only voice that still insulted the Ikemba came from Wiwa’s enclave, one Ben Ikari, who also insulted President Goodluck Jonathan for condoling the Ojukwu family.

 

The most striking achievement Ojukwu recorded at death is ability to sit atop the Garden City and at the gate of the seat of power in Port Harcourt, the Brick House, from where he must be peeping at his father’s houses. Those who think they know everything say part of the Brick House was Louis Ojukwu’s house, some point at a building at Education Bus Stop as one belonging to him too, but these are all classified as ‘abandoned property’. So, if Ojukwu could not enter into them while alive, his pictures at least got close to them at death.

When he was alive, Ojukwu was regarded as a secessionist-coupist and blood-thirsty aristocrat but now at death, many said he hated the idea of divided Nigeria or using bloodshed to solve the Nigerian problem and so had to handle Kano without bloodshed during the January 1966 coup.

 

Alive, many said he hated ‘One Nigeria’ but now at death, they say he loved Nigeria and had put forward a sound ideological foundation for a stronger unity through confederacy. In fact, the entire south-south that joined to fight against his vision is fighting for it; confederacy or at least true federalism, resource control, fiscal federalism, or else secession. For the larger Nigeria, Ojukwu put forward a formula for free enterprise, citizenship instead of indigeneship, freedom of movement or freedom of business domicile, respect for capital and reward for enterprise. These were snubbed at or rejected. Today, the federal government is pushing all or some of

This. And social engineers are saying these must be the foundation for a new Nigeria, or nothing.

 

 

Saturday, 10 March 2012 14:53

PhotoNews:Chief Obafemi Awolowo Lecture

Pictures of Late Obafemi Awolowo Annual Lecture, organized by Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, OAF 2012

"EMINENT Nigerians yesterday lamented the non-sustenance of the leadership qualities of late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, saying that the north would not have constitued itself as the clog in the wheel of development and unity of the country had Awolowo’s policies been sustained. They spoke in Lagos at  the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Annual Lecture, convened by Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, OAF.Those who attended the event from across the six geo-political zones included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade,  Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, Emir of Zauazau Alhaji Shehu Idris, Obi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Emir of Ilorin,  Alhaji Suru Gambari, King Edmund Daukoru Amyanabo on Nembe, King Dandeson Douglas, Jaja  Amyanabo of Opobo, King Mujakpero Orodje of Okpe, They also included former governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kaduna States, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Asiwaju Bola  Tinubu, Chief Olusegun Osoba,Niyi Adebayo, Gbenga Daniel, and Alhaji Balarebe Musa as well as Prof Ben Nwabueze, Justice Modibo Alfa Belgore, Justice Mohammedu Uwais, Sen Olorunnimbe Mamora, Sen Anthony Adefuye, Chief Ebeneze Babatope, Sen Daisy Danjuma, Sen Jubril Aminu, Alhaji Musilui Smith, Chief Fredrick Fasheun, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Gen. Alani Akinrinade, among others."  -  Vanguard

 

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 1

From left: HIM. Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of Ife, Grand Patron of Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, and Father of the Day, Dr. Olatokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, Executive Director of Obafemi Awolowo Foundation and Alhaji Ado Bayero,Emir of Kano, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 2

From left: Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Ogun state and HRM. King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, King Jaja Amayanabo of Opobo, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 3From left: HIM. Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of Ife, Grand Patron of Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, and Father of the Day, Alhaji Ado Bayero,Emir of Kano and HRH Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsh, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 4From left: Amb. Ahmadu Hamzat, Chairman MTN Foundation, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun state and Dr. Tunji Braethwaite, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 5
From left: Alh. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, HRM King Edmund Daukoru, Amayanbo Nembe and Alh. Shehu Idris, Emir of Zaria, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 6From left: Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto, Prof. Toyin Falola, Guest Speaker and Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Governor of Kaduna state and Chairman of Occazion, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo: Bunmi Azeez

2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 7From left: Justice Mohammed Uwais [rtd] Prof Anya O. Anya and Chief Ayo Adebanjo, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo: Bunmi Azeez
2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 8
Amb. Olusegun Olusola and Alh. Lateef Jakande, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo: Bunmi Azeez
2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 9From left: HRM. King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, King Jaja Amayanabo of Opobo, HRM King Mujakpero, Orodje of Okpe and Prof. Ben Nwabueze, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi Azeez
2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture in Lagos- 10
From left: Senator [Dr] Femi Okurounmu, Chief Bisi Akande, former Governor of Osun state and Alh. Musliu Smith, former Inspector General of Ploice, During the 2012 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture, theme: Power Politice or Welfare Politics? Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African Nationalist Political Thought, held in Lagos. on 09/03/2012. Photo Bunmi

 

 

 

Nigeria, the world's seventh most populous nation, is moving closer to dissolution. Attacks by the northern-based Boko Harum Islamist group — who demand the implementation of Sharia law in a country that is half Christian — have prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to call current conditions worse than the country's civil war in the 1960s. British MP Kwasi Kwarteng, a  Ghanaian British reviews the sectional history of Nigeria.

 

he name Nigeria first appeared in print in an editorial written for The Times newspaper in London in 1897. The author was — surprisingly for Victorian England — a female journalist named Flora Shaw who, in her own way, epitomized the drive and individualism of the high Victorian Era.

 

Shaw, at the time she wrote the article, was a 45-year old journalist who had traveled extensively and had pursued a career in journalism contrary to the social conventions of the day. She was an unmarried woman with a mind of her own.

 

Early in 1892, Miss Shaw had gone to South Africa, where she explored the diamond and gold mines. She had inexhaustible energy, writing hundreds of letters about labor conditions, agriculture, and other aspects of colonial development. Her letters so impressed the management of The Times that they hired her to be the newspaper's colonial editor. She coined the name "Nigeria" to refer to the British protectorate along the Niger River that, until then, was referred to as the Royal Niger Company Territories.

 

Like the name she invented, Nigeria itself was an entirely artificial construct. It was just five years earlier, in 1892, that Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister, observed that "we have been engaged in drawing lines upon maps where no white man's foot has ever trod. We have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were."

 

The almost random method by which Nigeria's borders were fixed underlay many of its subsequent problems. As far as the British were concerned, Nigeria was, like Julius Caesar's Gaul, divisible into three parts. There was a northern region that was predominantly Muslim, a western region that was dominated by the Yoruba tribe, and an eastern region where the Igbo were the predominant ethnic group. This was an oversimplified view, but it reflected British attitudes about Nigeria. It was not until 1914 that Fredrick (later Lord) Lugard combined the northern and southern parts into the unified Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

undefinedLord Lugard with Northern Emirs


Lugard was an individualistic military man and possessed a driving sense of purpose. In 1902, Lugard and Flora Shaw married. They were a classic power couple of the British Empire. Since they married rather late in life (he was in his mid-40s and she was 50), their marriage was childless, and the couple devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the Imperial cause. According to his biographer, Lord Lugard was a small man, and his physique "allowed him to do two men's work in a climate and in conditions which halved the capacities of most men."


Nigeria's colonial legacy

 

The north was an Islamic feudal society dominated by dignitaries such as the Emir of Kano. In the south, Christianity spread among the Igbo and Yoruba peoples. There was a suspicion that the British were more instinctively inclined towards the north. (Lord Lugard was felt to harbor contempt for the educated and Europeanized Africans of the south, and had once recommended moving the capital from Lagos to the northern city of Kaduna.)

 

Even if this bias was not based in fact, it was widely believed to be true by the Africans. As one civil servant in the Foreign Office observed in 1970, "It was an article of faith in Eastern Nigeria, and had been for decades, that the British were hopelessly biased in favor of the feudal Emirs of the North; there was some basis for this, since the North retained the highest proportion of British officials, many of them coming from the Sudan with a romantic passion for Islam and for polo-playing aristocrats."

 

The Nigerian Civil War (also called the Biafra War), which began in 1967, was a direct result of these tensions. As early as 1912, the British socialist E.D. Morel had observed that the "Southern Nigerian system is turning out every year hundreds of Europeanized Africans," but the "Northern Nigerian system aims at the establishment of an educational system based upon a totally different ideal." Nigeria has remained a seething pool of diverse — and often conflicting — peoples. Not everything can be blamed on colonialism, but it is undoubtedly the case that the nature of Nigeria's problems have some connection with its colonial experience.

 

Ethnic and religious conflict has been a consistent feature of modern Nigerian politics. Another is the extent of corruption that has pervaded the country. Nigeria's corruption has obviously stemmed from the very weak sense of national identity of the country's official and political class. In countries with a strong sense of nationhood, officials are powerfully motivated to act in the best interests of the state. Their self-esteem and self-worth are bound up in it.

 

While a cadre of utterly selfless public officials has probably never existed anywhere, those of 18th-century Prussia and Imperial Britain — some might even point to those of modern-day Britain and the United States — have come pretty close. But modern Nigeria lacks that strong sense of nationhood, and thus lacks any semblance of a selfless bureaucracy. That is not entirely the fault of its colonial past, but the haphazard and arbitrary manner in which the country was created is surely a contributory cause.

 

Dr Kwasi Alfred Addo Kwarteng (born 26 May 1975 in London is a British Conservative Party politician. After the retirement of Conservative MP David Wilshire, Kwarteng was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Spelthorne in Surrey in the 2010 general election, winning the seat with 22,261 votes and a majority of 10,019. Kwarteng was born in London. His parents migrated to the UK from Ghana as students in the 1960s. He attended Eton College as a King's Scholar, and then read classics and history at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a member of the winning University Challenge team in 1995, in the first series after the programme was revived by the BBC in 1994.He attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar and completed a PhD in History at Cambridge University.Prior to becoming an MP, Kwarteng worked as an analyst in financial services. He has written a book, Ghosts of Empire, about the legacy of the British Empire, published by Bloomsbury in 2011. He has also co-authored a book entitled, Gridlock Nation, which focuses its attention on the causes and solutions to traffic congestion in Britain. (Wikpedia)

 

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