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"Africa's polygamous President Jacob Zuma married for the sixth time on Friday, taking his long-time girlfriend Bongi Ngema as his newest bride and fourth current wife in a private ceremony at his rural home. Ngema, an activist and former information technology worker, is well known in South Africa and has already accompanied the president on foreign visits. The ceremony raised few eyebrows in a country where polygamy is legal and an integral part of Zuma's Zulu culture. The two had a traditional Zulu wedding and "the bride and groom later participated in the traditional competitive celebratory dance," the presidency said in a statement. Zuma has 21 children, including a seven-year-old son with Ngema. The president is also married to Sizakele Zuma, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma and Tobeka Madiba-Zuma. They all attended the ceremony. His marriage to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ended in divorce. Another wife Kate Mantsho-Zuma committed suicide in 2000. There is no official position of First Lady in South Africa. The presidency said none of the wives had a constitutional role or received any state funds. " -Reuters
All the president's women: President Jacob Zuma cuts his Birthday cakes with his wives, from left: Gloria Ngema, Nompumelelo Ntuli, Thobeka Madiba and Getrude Khumalo. (Siyabulela Duda)
President Jacob Zuma and his fiance Ms Bongi Ngema cut a cake as they take part in a traditional wedding ceremony known as Umgcagco at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu Natal. (AFP Photo/Elmond Jiyane).
Washington - Global finance chiefs pressed Europe on Saturday to take advantage of newly increased financial buffers and make the lasting reforms needed to tackle its debt crisis, which is threatening the world recovery.
A day after advanced and emerging countries agreed to double the firepower of the International Monetary Fund to help contain Europe's debt crisis, the IMF's governing panel said the 17-nation euro area must make more cuts to government debt burdens, push bold economic reforms and stabilise financial systems.
Debt problems will resurface and growth will stumble unless these steps are taken, the head of the IMF's governing panel, Singapore's finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, warned.
An uneasy calm returned to world financial markets after the Greek crisis subsided but the IMF is concerned that without strong action fresh tensions will erupt, sapping global growth.
The IMF panel said the outlook was one of “moderate growth globally, and the risks remain high.” While it said all advanced economies must take further action, it singled out the euro area as crucial to revitalising strong growth.
The euro area, the world's second-largest economic bloc, already has slipped into a mild recession, weakening its major export partner China and other parts of emerging Asia, while growth in the United States remains sluggish.
Unless stronger growth is restored and investor confidence returns, the IMF and finance chiefs from around the globe said the world will not break out of a vicious debt-driven cycle.
“What was really critical in all our minds was to get back to normal growth over the medium term and preferably sooner rather than later, in other words within two to three years,” Tharman told a news conference.
“If we don't get back to normal growth, if we don't get GDP back to its potential levels, then fiscal sustainability is not possible either,” he warned.
The United States piled the pressure on Europe to take advantage of the breathing space provided by building financial firewalls against financial contagion.
“The success of the next phase of the crisis response will hinge on Europe's willingness and ability, together with the European Central Bank to apply its tools ... flexibly and aggressively to support countries as they implement reforms,” US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the IMF's panel.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde
But in what participants said was an intense discussion, Germany pointed the finger back at the United States, the world's largest economy. The US budget problems are worsening and could reach the boiling point at year's end when expiring tax cuts and plans for deep budget cuts could throw the economy into recession. Yet, a presidential election in November has resulted in political stalemate on budget plans.
“We understand the political constraints but there is no way around it and there is urgency,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Japan, with a staggering debt-to-GDP ratio of 230 percent, also needs a credible budget plan, he said.
Europe presents the most urgent challenge and was the only economy singled out for policy advice by the IMF panel.
The two-fold action of piling a further $430 billion into the IMF and European leaders' decision three weeks ago to finance their own $1 trillion bailout fund has erected defenses designed to contain the crisis by assuring investors there is money to back any country that runs into financial trouble.
At the same time, the IMF panel stressed that budget consolidation must be balanced to avoid overly harsh cuts that undermine growth and make the deficits even worse - a tricky act that Italy and Spain currently are facing.
“There has been a big discussion about how to make it possible to have fiscal strengthening and growth,” said Italy's deputy finance minister, Vittorio Grilli. While the timing matters, fiscal tightening must come first, he said.
The panel, made up of finance ministers who advise the IMF on policy, called upon major central banks to help by keeping interest rates low and monetary stimulus in place, as long as growth remains weak and inflation under control.
The message came ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, at which US policymakers will review whether additional bond buying may be needed to support growth. A call by the IMF for lower euro zone interest rates met resistance from some ECB policymakers in Washington. Germany in particular is concerned that loose monetary policy will stir inflation and is no panacea for budget cuts.
The IMF committee called on its members to ratify “expeditiously” a 2010 plan to increase representation of emerging economies on the IMF's executive board, reflecting their growing clout in the world economy. Brazil said this was an essential condition for it to provide the IMF funding.
But voting reforms are unlikely to get approved by the IMF's October meetings because the US Congress is unlikely to agree in the current highly partisan climate.
“I did not hear any clear announcement from the US that they will be able to deliver before the annual meetings (in October),” Schaeuble said, adding that Europe will have agreed by then.
That would add to tensions between the United States, which had insisted upon the reforms, and emerging markets.
Britain said its $15 billion contribution would only become available once the 2010 IMF reforms were completed, which it did not expect to happen before the US elections. - Reuters
The newly independent nation of South Sudan has officially withdrawn its determined but insufficiently equipped military contingent on the disputed Heglig oil field and the aggressive Khartoum government to the north, The Islamic Republic of Sudan has declared victory.
The Heglig oil field or Panthou oil field as South Sudan called it, is situated in the southern Sudan but the Islamic Sudan has laid hold of it even before South Sudan got her political independent and divorce from Sudan government last year July.
Heglig or Panthou is an oil rich field that Sudan depended for its wellbeing and its economic significant to Sudan cannot be overemphasized. Reuters reported that the disputed landstrip “The Heglig field is the key to the Sudanese economy because it contributes almost half of the country's output of 115,000 bpd. Sudan lost three quarters of its output when South Sudan became independent in July last year. Both countries are locked in a row over how much the landlocked new nation should pay to export its crude through the north. "
The Heglig oil field was operated by the Chinese as it was contracted to Chinese-led operator by Sudan government. The maximum output of 60,000 barrels per day was unaffected as South Sudan captured the peripheral of the oil field before its subsequent withdrawal.
The Khartoum government of President Omar al-Bashir was energetic in its response to the temporary occupation of Heglig oil field. President Bashir's Sudan mobilized its relatively equipped military force and attacked military troops of South Sudan via land and air. Sudan government also engaged efficiently in a massive public relation strategy to bring the whole world on her side. And Sudan government this time succeeded in bringing the world to her version of its perspective and story on Heglig , this time around the world for the first time condemned South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.
United Nations and African Union did not hold back in rebuking the actions of South Sudan. Even the United Nations secretary Ban Ki Moon went further with its condemnation and labeled the action of President Salva Kiir's South Sudan ‘illegal’.
South Sudan withdrawal can be strategic in the sense that it has alerted the global village that its claim on the disputed oil field has not ceased. The critical issue is that the enmity between North and South has not diminished even with southern independent.
South Sudan has the burden that history laid on her shoulder; the land and the people has been deprived with poverty, humiliation and undeniable oppression from the Islamic Sudan government. Now the South Sudan is in the position to assert her independent and dignity. South Sudan since divorce from the north has never shy away from registering its past grievances through peaceful or otherwise. The diplomatic breakthrough enjoyed by South Sudan was achieve by negotiations and settlements through part by fighting and sitting on the table. Therefore South Sudan do have a clear agenda for her actions, but she should adhered to established norms and standard for attainable of peace.
Bashir's Sudan and South Sudan'sKiir should recognized that military confrontation cannot be the only channel for dispute settlement but through a less destructive path of peaceful negotiation and comprehensive conflict resolution.
BBC reported that "Mr. Kiir said the South still believed that Heglig was a part of South Sudan and that its final status should be determined by international arbitration, Associated Press reported. Heglig is internationally accepted to be part of Sudanese territory - although the precise border is yet to be demarcated. The UK minister for Africa welcomed the news of the withdrawal and urged restraint on both sides."
"Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war."- BBC
President Obama and his administration did a good job in seeing to the implementation of the verses of Sudanese accord and subsequent South Sudan independent. President Obama reiterating of peaceful negotiation for the both parties must be enhanced with urgency and effective backup by United States.
President Obama was in the right direction as he called for negotiated peace on the land. His words “We know what needs to happen -- the government of Sudan must stop its military actions, including aerial bombardments," Obama said. "Likewise, the government of South Sudan must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan and it must cease its military actions across the border."
Bashir‘s government must be made to understand that more violence begets more violence and everybody will become a loser. As an elder statesman in Africa, he must be gradual and easy on force and continue to exhibit the path he took for the South Sudan to realize its nationhood. At same hand the South Sudan with its heavy heart rooted on history of depravity and destruction should exercise patient and show some goodwill by allowing peaceful negotiation to be the pathway to a peaceful and mutual recognized outcome.
The world must acknowledged the burden of history that was laid on the new independent nation of South Sudan and should be fair on its approach not by throwing raucous and overreaching condemnation when South Sudan stands up for her right. Quite diplomacy and logical appeasement may deem inevitable and necessary when dealing with a new nation that is struggling to stand on her own.
"President Goodluck Jonathan, on a visit to Germany centered on strengthening economic ties, conceded Thursday that investors ask about the country's "security challenges." But he offered assurances that his government "is working very hard and that we'll bring this under control." Jonathan said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Nigeria could envision foreign help with "training our manpower" and providing technology to monitor terrorists. Nigeria's president is vowing that his government will rein in the threat from a radical Islamic sect that has waged an increasingly bloody sectarian fight in the country. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege," is blamed for killing more than 430 people this year alone in Nigeria." - AP
(Dow Jones)- Sub-Saharan Africa is set for robust growth in 2012 thanks to limited exposure to the economic turmoil emanating from Europe, the International Monetary Fund said in its updated barometer on the world economy.
The IMF's World Economic Outlook forecasts that gross domestic product will grow by an average of 5.4% across sub- Saharan Africa in 2012, revised downward from its previous forecast of 5.8% growth this year.
"The diversification of exports toward fast-growing emerging markets has reduced the region's trade exposure to Europe," IMF officials wrote. They added that exports to the euro area have fallen to one-fifth of Africa's total from two-fifths 20 years ago.
The IMF forecasts that South Africa will grow 2.7% this year, up from a forecast of 2.5% growth in January. South Africa--the continent's largest and most developed economy--faces the strongest headwinds from Europe due to its importance as an export market, the IMF said. The revised growth reflects signs of a more stable recovery in the U.S. and Asia, which are also major destinations for the country's goods.
Intense exploration and production of oil and gas resources will drive the continent's fastest growing economies, the IMF said. Oil production in Angola will push GDP growth to 9.7% this year, the highest on the continent, and to 8.8% in Ghana and 7.1% in Nigeria. Oil and gas production will push growth to 6.7% in Mozambique.
In East Africa, monetary tightening to combat inflation is expected to have a negative impact on growth. Uganda is expected to grow 4.2% this year after 6.7% growth in 2011, and Tanzania is expected to grow 6.4% after 6.7% growth in 2011.
With growth prospects for the continent looking solid, the IMF urged African officials to tighten budgets and rebuild central bank reserves to be ready for future global economic shocks.
"Budgetary discipline will also help generate the room needed to refocus spending on priority areas such as infrastructure, health, and education," the IMF said.
During the Nigeria's budget proceedings this Monday morning, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made the prediction that the United States man, Dr. Tim Yong Kim will land the top job and lead World Bank. But she quickly added that the victory would not base on merit.
Her words, “You know this thing is not really being decided on merit."
Astute global observers and analysts have never doubt that the outcome will be different. United States owns the process and since the formation of World Bank after the end of Second World War, it has never had a non-American citizen as the president.
Okonjo-Iweala and Columbia’s Jose Antonio Ocampo could be said to be the first to challenge an American nominated candidate for World Bank presidency. Ocampo eventually bowed-out from the race to enable Okonjo-Iweala redouble her momentum. But the reality remains that United States is the juggernaut that determines how the process will go and who will get the top job. And the presidents of World Bank position have always go to an American. A different outcome cannot be envisaged at this time and certain things never change.
"So we have won a big victory. Who gets to run the World Bank – we have shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture, will never ever be the same again". That’s how Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala surmised the process, thus giving credence to the effort that Nigeria and Africa had made in the uphill struggle to gain the top leadership at World Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala is making an intelligent prediction but by the end of the day, World Bank board of directors will name the president and that may confirmed her prediction.
A year ago today, Nigerians began casting ballots in the first of what would be four days of voting for legislators, governors, and a president. Tensions were high. Voting that had been scheduled one week earlier was abruptly canceled just hours before polls were to open. We did not know for certain whether months of careful election preparations would result in a process Nigerians considered fair and credible or a rerun of the deeply flawed 2007 presidential elections. Skeptics were everywhere; and many said good elections could not be held.
Nigerians had a different idea. They waited in line for hours. They stuck around after the polls closed to ensure that every ballot was counted They monitored polling places and compilation centers by the thousands, and they sent text messages reporting any irregularities they observed.
The result was clear. Nigeria had conducted its most successful and credible elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999. Despite obvious imperfections, these elections have given the country a solid foundation for strengthening its democratic institutions in the years ahead.
As a witness to that historic occasion, I can vouch for the enthusiasm that Nigerians demonstrated towards these elections and their democratic rights. Civil society groups across the country were actively engaged in the process, and on election day, diverse groups, including the Federation of Muslim Women, the Nigerian Bar Association, and the Transition Monitoring Group, joined together in a massive election monitoring effort called Project Swift Count.
There was also a strong commitment on the part of the government to improve the electoral process. Months before the election, a new and highly regarded Independent National Electoral Commission chairman was named, and the Nigerian Government provided adequate funding to pay for the election process. The new INEC Chair – Professor Attahiru Jega – made a good faith effort to register as many voters as possible and to organize the elections in the shortest time frame.
The April 2011 elections were clearly another step forward in Nigeria’s continuing democratization process, but more remains to be done to improve Nigeria’s electoral procedures and more importantly to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions and governance.
We all need to see a strong, vibrant, and growing Nigeria -- because what happens in Nigeria affects us all – the United States, Africa, and the global community. We cannot run away from the facts. Nigeria is probably the most strategically important country in sub-Saharan Africa. At about 160 million people, Nigeria is home to over twenty percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population. It is the largest oil producing state in Africa, it is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and the tenth largest global producer. It is home to the sixth largest Muslim population in the world, and it’s by far the largest country in the world with approximately equal numbers of Christians and Muslims. In the United Nations, Nigeria is the fifth largest peacekeeping contributing country in the world. And as the most influential and militarily powerful member of the Economic Community of West African States, Nigeria has played a key role in helping to resolve every major political and security dispute in West Africa from the Liberian and Sierra Leonian crises in the 1990s to the recent political problems in Guinea, Niger, and the Cote d’Ivoire, and I might add to that, Mali. Nigeria is a dominant economic and financial force across West Africa, and if Lagos State were an independent country its population would make it the eighteenth largest country in Africa and its economy would be well within the top twenty on the continent.
Nigeria is important and a lot depends on the Nigeria’s success. That’s why Secretary Clinton inaugurated the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in 2010, providing the two countries with a high-level vehicle to work together on the most criticial issues we face. We have supported Nigeria’s political and economic reforms and we have tried to be a useful partner as it addresses its social, economic, and security challenges. We have provided technical assistance to support reform in the power sector. We have taken a large energy trade mission to the country, and encouraged the swift passage of a strong petroleum industry bill that brings more transparency to the sector. We have recognized the importance of Nigeria’s agriculture sector and supported Nigeria’s comprehensive agriculture development plans. And in the health sector, we have committed over $500 million a year to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, demonstrating how critical we consider Nigeria in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS. President Obama and Secretary Clinton both recognize the importance of this relationship and both have met with and engaged with President Jonathan on a number of occasions over the past three years. Later this week, Nigeria’s vice president will be in Washington and he is expected to meet Vice President Biden in the White House and with senior officials in the State Department.
Nigeria’s success is important to us; but we recognize that that success cannot be achieved unless Nigeria overcomes the challenges that have frustrated its progress. Decades of poor governance have seriously degraded the country’s health, education, and transportation infrastructure. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue, Nigeria has virtually no functioning rail system and only half of its population has access to electricity. The 80 million Nigerians who have electricity share intermittent access to the amount of power equivalent to what we have in the Washington, DC metro area. Living standards for most Nigerians are the same today as they were in 1970, and nearly 100 million Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day.
Nigerians are hungry for progress and an improvement in their lives, but northern Nigerians feel this need most acutely. Life in Nigeria for many is tough, but across the North, life is grim. A UN study shows that poverty in the 12 most northern states is nearly twice that of the rest of the country. The health indicators reflect this. Children in the far north are almost four times as likely to be malnourished. Child mortality is over 200 deaths per 1000 live births, leading to lower life expectancy. Educational standards are just as bad. Literacy in the far north is 35 percent as opposed to 77 percent in the rest of the country. Seventy-seven percent of women in the far north have no formal education, compared to only 17 percent in the rest of the country. In northern Nigeria, primary school attendance is only 41 percent, while youth unemployment is extremely high. All of this contributes to joblessness and a deepening cycle of poverty.
The statistics are disturbing, but they are not the whole story. Poverty in northern Nigeria is increasing. Despite a decade in which the Nigerian economy expanded at a spectacular seven percent per year, the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics estimates that extreme poverty is 10 percent higher than in 2004. It’s even worse in the North. Income inequality is growing rapidly. These trends are worrying for economic, political, and security reasons.
While ninety-one percent of Nigerians across the country considered the April 2011 elections to be fair and transparent, most people in the far north backed opposition candidates that did not win. The post-election violence that occurred in several northern cities reflected strong dissatisfaction with elites who protestors thought controlled the election process. Public opinion polls and news reports suggest that there is a strong sentiment throughout the country, but especially in the North, that government is not on the side of the people; and that their poverty is a result of government neglect, corruption, and abuse. This is the type of popular narrative that is ripe for an insurgent group to hijack for its own purposes.
Which brings me to Boko Haram.
As you all know, over the last year Boko Haram has created widespread insecurity across northern Nigeria, increased tensions between various ethnic communities, interrupted development activities, frightened off investors, and generated concerns among Nigeria’s northern neighbors. They have been responsible for near daily attacks in Borno and Yobe states And they were behind the January 20 attack in Kano that killed nearly 200 people and three major attacks in Abuja, including the bombing of the UN headquarters last August. Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and mosques are particularly disturbing because they are intended to inflame religious tensions and upset the nation’s social cohesion.
Although Boko Haram is reviled throughout Nigeria, and offers no practical solutions to northern problems, a growing minority of certain northern ethnic groups regard them favorably. Boko Haram capitalizes on popular frustrations with leaders, poor government service delivery, and the dismal living conditions of many northerners. Boko Haram seeks to humiliate and undermine the government and to exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and to make Nigeria ungovernable.
Boko Haram has grown stronger and increasingly more sophisticated over the past three years, and eliminating the Boko Haram problem will require a broad-based strategy that employs the establishment of a comprehensive plan rather than the imposition of more martial law. While more sophisticated and targeted security efforts are necessary to contain Boko Haram’s acts of violence and to capture and prosecute its leaders, the government must also win over the population by addressing the social and economic problems that have created the environment in which Boko Haram can thrive. The government must improve its tactics, avoid excessive violence and human rights abuses, make better use of its police and intelligence services, de-emphasize the role of the military, and use its courts to prosecute those who are found to be responsible for Boko Haram’s kidnappings, killings, and terrorist attacks.
Nigerian officials should focus on the political environment that makes Boko Haram so dangerous. By demonstrating the benefits a pluralistic society has to offer, the government will deny Boko Haram and other extremists the ability to exploit ethnic and religious differences. The government should redouble their efforts to resolve ongoing disputes in Jos and other high violence flashpoints. By becoming more responsive to the people, the government can put distance between itself and the accusations that it is blind to the needs of everyday Nigerians.
Numerous northern civil society organizations have come out against Boko Haram – at great personal risk – that could multiply serious government efforts to address longstanding northern grievances. I want to stress that religion is not driving extremist violence in either Jos or Northern Nigeria. While some seek to inflame Muslim-Christian tensions, Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity is a source of strength, not weakness, and there are many examples of communities working across religious lines to protect one another.
Containing and eliminating Boko Haram today will be much more difficult than it was four years ago, when it was under the leadership of it now deceased leader, Muhammed Yusof, who was killed in police custody. Today, Boko Haram is not a monolithic, homogenous organization controlled by a single charismatic figure. Boko Haram is several organizations, a larger organization focused primarily on discrediting the Nigerian Government, and a smaller more dangerous group, increasingly sophisticated and increasing lethal. This group has developed links with AQIM and has a broader, anti-Western jihadist agenda. This group is probably responsible for the kidnapping of westerners and for the attacks on the UN building in Abuja. Complicating the picture further is the tendency of some officials to blame Boko Haram for bank robberies and local vendettas that are carried out by common criminals and political thugs.
There are some who say that Boko Haram is comprised mostly of non-Nigerian foreigners, and that the group is being funded by a handful of resentful politicians nursing their wounds from the last election. This would be unfortunate if true, but I have not seen any evidence to support either of these theories.
To fix the Boko Haram problem, the government will have to develop a new social compact with its northern citizens. It will have to develop an economic recovery strategy that complements its security strategy. It will have to draw on the support of northern governors traditional Hausa and Fulani leaders and local officials and organizations. The Nigerian Government should consider creating a Ministry of Northern Affairs or a Northern development commission similar to what it did in response to the crises in the Niger Delta.
Northern populations are currently trapped between violent extremists on one hand and heavy-handed government responses on the other. They need to know that their president is going to extraordinary lengths to fix their problems.
Achieving this will not be easy. Although the problems are not the same, it has taken the central government in Abuja nearly ten years to bring the problems in the Niger Delta under some semblance of control. Resolving the problems in northern Nigeria will require the government to act more swiftly and to make a strategic course correction. It will need to adopt a comprehensive strategy and remain disciplined and committed in its implementation, especially at the state and local level where accountability is low and corruption high.
Despite the challenges that Nigeria faces with Boko Haram and other issues, Nigeria is simply too important to be defined by its problems. Nigeria must be defined by its promise and its enormous potential, as well as the resourcefulness of its people. Although some political observers have accused the government of getting off to a shaky start after the elections, that is not a judgment shared by all – especially when you look at key players in the President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet. By all accounts, President Jonathan has put together one of the strongest and most competent economic teams ever assembled in Nigeria. Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former vice president of the World Bank, has pushed a strong reformist agenda, pushing for an end to costly government subsidies, deregulation of the electrical supply and distribution, the sale of the country’s oil refineries and the rapid improvement of the country’s infrastructure. She has been supported in her efforts by Central Bank President Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Agricultural Minster Alhaji Bukar Tijani, Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Agang, and the Minister of Power Professor Bart Nnaji -- all of whom have put a high premium on promoting sustained economic development, job creation, greater agricultural productivity, and more foreign investment. Given time and political support from the top, this team has the ability to shape and lead Nigeria’s long term economic transformation.
The Nigerian Government has also taken a positive step in trying to address its long standing problem of corruption. Through two strategic appointments, the government has signaled that is once again going to try to get a handle on high-level corruption. For four years, we scaled back our technical assistance programs to Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because we did not believe the previous leadership was committed to reform. In November, President Jonathan appointed a new chairman to run the country’s EFCC – the country’s main anti-corruption agency. The appointment of Ibrahim Lamode to lead the EFCC gives us confidence that the high-level corruption that has hobbled the delivery of government services will be seriously addressed. President Jonathan’s appointment of Nuhu Ribadu to oversee a commission to monitor and audit the government’s vast oil and gas revenues is also a very promising sign. Before he was fired several years ago, Ribado earned a well-deserved reputation as Nigeria’s most zealous prosecutor of high level corrupt officials. His return, like that of Ngozi and other economic reformers, should be taken as an indication of the promise and potential of getting it right. We hope these high performers will encourage others, like the Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, to accelerate key reforms, including the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill.
There is also a bright side to be found in a number of statehouses across Nigeria, where governors are responsible for delivering most public services. A handful of governors embraced the challenges of their jobs and have made a real difference. The governors in Lagos, Edo, and Kano have demonstrated what strong, honest, and responsible leadership at the state level can accomplish.
We continue to use the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission as our primary vehicle for exchanging ideas and promoting engagement with Nigeria.
We want to elevate and expand our dialogue and are ready to work with Nigerian authorities at the national and state level and to expand our programs in states with high performing executives, particularly in northern Nigeria where the need is greatest. We are committed to helping Nigeria develop a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and to improving collaboration among Nigeria’s intelligence services. We want to support the Nigerian Government’s efforts, especially in the areas of agriculture, electrical power generation and transmission, and anti-corruption We sent a high-level energy trade mission to Abuja and Lagos in February to attract U.S. private investment in the energy field, and we would like to do something similar to highlight the opportunities that exist in agriculture and infrastructure – where we think we have something real to offer. The agricultural investment forum sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa and the Nigerian Embassy starting tomorrow similarly aims to direct U.S. resources towards Nigerian development.
I am bullish on Nigeria. I have been ever since I served there as a young Foreign Service officer. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s challenges are serious, but we should not underestimate the skill and ability of the Nigerian people and leaders to address them. I believe the forces that are holding Nigeria together are stronger today than the forces that are pulling Nigeria apart. Nigeria remains the giant in Africa, and I remain optimist about its long term future. By working with Nigeria, we can contribute to the country’s economic growth and political unity – two objectives that are important to the United States, Africa, and the global community. A strong, vibrant, politically stable, and economically prosperous Nigeria is in everyone’s interest. I hope you agree. Thank you.
SPOKANE, Wash. (RNS) Archbishop Desmond Tutu is slated to deliver the commencement address next month to Gonzaga University's graduating class. A group of alumni, however, are saying he isn't welcome and are urging administrators to withdraw the invitation.
Patrick Kirby, a 1993 Gonzaga graduate, said Tutu is pro-abortion rights, has made offensive statements toward Jews and supports contraception and the ordination of gay clergy and shouldn't be honored by a Catholic institution.
The university plans to give Tutu an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at commencement. Kirby, a local attorney, said Tutu's visit violates the U.S. bishop's 2004 policy, "Catholics in Political Life." The policy states that Catholic institutions should not honor those "who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."
Kirby and his wife, Maureen, who is a Gonzaga alumna, launched an online petition lobbying for the university to choose a different commencement speaker. Nearly 700 people worldwide have signed the petition, which was delivered to Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh on Friday (April 13).
"I don't have any realistic expectations that they'll do that (cancel Tutu's invitation). The goal for me is to bring attention to it and hopefully remind administrators at Gonzaga about their Catholic identity and how far they've wandered away from it," Kirby said.
He said Catholic institutions all across the U.S. are choosing popularity over morality by honoring and hiring people who do not represent Catholic values, which he said sends an unclear message to students.
Gonzaga administrators are not commenting on the petition. In a February press release, however, McCulloh said Tutu was "a living exemplar of Gonzaga's historic commitment to the ideals of equality and a free society as a Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic University."
(Tracy Simmons is editor of SpokaneFAVS.com)
Aliko Dangote, the richest African capitalist is on a move and it is no surprise to global market observers and analysts that he is strategizing to list his $11 billion Dangote cement on London stock Market. With its vast expansion and investments beyond its primary base in Nigeria into the rest of Africa’s emerging markets, Dangote Cement without doubt needs more resources and funds to keep up with the pace of development.
Aliko Dangote plans to bring his profitable cement industry into listing on London Stock Market Exchange and Dangote Cement will be free-floating 20 percent stake in the company. The twenty percent is quite big compares to the five percent stake in Dangote Cement listed in Nigeria.
On a surface the participating and floating of the company’s stake is quite compelling because it will enable the company to do more with its expansion and also bolster the image of the company as an transnational corporation with a net benefit of a positive branding. But before the next year implementation of the plan, it is imperative that a profound feasibility studies must be undertaken and the right decision be made. A strategic outlook is necessary to avoid mishaps and pitfalls that may be encountered.
The exposure to London Stock Exchange will attract investors who can be brand critical and may not have patience when the stocks underperform in the cyclical downturn that defines market trends. With the company roots in Nigeria and Africa, a more adverse criticism and depressing analysis can follow put when inevitable mistakes are made which are inherent in management of any big corporation. Whenever political turbulence and disturbances occur in Africa, the prospective investors and stockholders may quickly sell and that will affect the bottom-line of the company.
Moreover the market for Dangote Cement is in Nigeria and Africa. Most of the demand for the Dangote Cement is in Nigeria and with the increasing expansion in Africa the demand for cement will continue to increase inorder to the feed Africa’s emerging markets.
Comparatively, the argument can be made that the market demand with the resources for the expansion can be found in Africa. The suggestive argument that resources for further expansion should be sought outside the shores of Africa has no legs. The money and capital for expansion of the growing Dangote Cement can be found in Nigeria and Africa. That does not translate that the scope and vision of the company should be limited to Africa but potential human and physical capital are not wanting in that part of the world.
The five percent stake in Dangote Cement in Nigerian Stock Market can be increase to up to 10-15 percent. Nigeria’s stock market has been bullish for Dangote Cement. Financial Times reported: “Dangote Cement’s net profit in 2011 is expected to be $790m on revenues of $1.5bn, according to guidance filed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”
The president of Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote was reported to have said that he desired to magnify his profit to enable him to upgrade the business into a huge multinational company and world’s largest cement industry with impressive profit. Yes, it is doable in Africa with sound management and strategic planning.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol, outlined the operational standing that, “African market can give the company the fund, resources, capital and the market to realize its ambitious project. But the company must be ready to work with both small and medium capital markets in the continent without looking outside the shores of the continent.”
A while ago, Dangote Cement opened a billion dollar cement industry at Ibese, Ogun state in Nigeria. With this investment resource, enormous profit can be made as the demand for building materials are edging up in the region. As result of demand of cement in Nigeria and Africa as economic growth in non-oil sector of the economy bulges, the accumulating profit will increase and market will be highly appreciated. The profit can be diverted for further expansion especially in research and development.
“With the economic growth of Africa hovering above five percent and Nigeria’s GDP edging up to seven percent for 2012, Dangote Cement can grow without seeking resources from London Stock Exchange,” as Chiakwelu pointed out.
“And the company’s expansion and building of cement industries in the eight African countries should not necessarily be simultaneous but can be realized with one construction after another,” Chiakwelu concluded.
Dangote Cement At a Glance:
Market Cap $12.51 B
Industry: Construction Materials
Chairman/President: Aliko Dangote
CEO: Jagat Rathee Rathee
Sales: $1.27 B
Dangote Cement Plc is a Nigeria-based company active in the building materials industry. The Company is primarily engaged in the operation of production facilities for the preparation, manufacture, control, research and distribution of portland cement and related products. It operates Obajana Cement Plant, which includes a captive gas power plant; a gas pipeline; a limestone quarry with associated conveyor belt; a dam impounding a reservoir with a total storage capacity of 5.1 million cubic meters and a housing complex. The Company also manages cement production plants in Gboko and Ibese, as well as four terminals, two in Lagos and two in Port Harcourt, through which it imports and bags cement. Dangote Cement Plc is a subsidiary of Dangote Industries Limited, which owned 99.95% of its issued share capital as of December 31, 2009. - Forbes Magazine
It may happen because many emerging nations for first time are asking for inclusion in making monetary and economic decisions in the global institutions including World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Developing nations and emerging economies contributed more than fifty percent of the global GDP. Many of these nations have decided that the time has come to have one of their own lead World Bank. Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with the most attractive experience and resume might be the beneficiary of the emerging nation’s quest for leadership position at World Bank.
Change maybe clumsy and cumbersome but it can be healthy too. Just ask some Nigerians who knew when the country changed from left hand drive to right hand drive. Changing to right-hand traffic was like doing something alien and unnatural but eventually they get used to the change.
Change is good for it gives a room for reflection and growth. When change takes place the excluded, the outsider gets the opportunity to become an insider and to pilot the affairs. In most cases change does bring innovation and invigorating ideas with affirmative outcome.
President Obama nominated Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a medical doctor by training and the current president of Darthmont College for World Bank leadership. But with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the competition for same position, Kim's luck appears to be gradually dimming. Okonjo-Iweala the Nigerian finance minister and former managing director of World Bank, has a solid support from African Union and growing endorsements from many emerging nations.
There is no need to re-introduce Okonjo-Iweala to the global community because she had already made a verifiable impact on macro- economics and finance of developing nations as she went through secretary, vice-president and managing director positions at World Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala emerging support and glowing endorsements for the position goes beyond Nigeria and Africa. Many influential news outlets including Financial Times of London and Economist Magazine are recommending her for the job. Even the United States flagship newspaper, the New York Times was extolling her experience and resume.
L-R:Jim Yong Kim and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Her fellow economists around the world including Joseph E. Stiglitz who has worked with her and Jose Ocampo, another candidate from Columbia had good things to say about Okonjo-Iweala. Stiglitz wrote recently that Okonjo-Iweala has what it takes to lead World Bank, suggesting that she had already made an impact on the developing world.
Stiglitz, a Nobel economics laureate wrote, "Both Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo understand the role of international financial institutions in providing global public goods. Throughout their careers, their hearts and minds have been devoted to development, and to fulfilling the World Bank’s mission of eliminating poverty. They have set a high bar for any American candidate."
All these endorsements for Okonjo-Iweala do not translate that she will easily be elected to lead the World Bank. United States is not willing to give up the leadership at World Bank and Dr. Kim has already embarked on international tour around the world to seek support and goodwill.
President Obama's United States still enjoys an upper hand at the World Bank because of its undeniable influence and power. United States has the most number of votes together with its supportive and willing allies including Europe, Japan and others can easily elect Dr. Kim to replace the United States outing president of World Bank, Robert Zoellick.
Obama's White House may have a compelling reason for nominating Dr. Kim, maybe for the touted compassion quality he brought to his former work at World Health Organization (WHO). But World Bank presidency should based on merit not on compassion. Kim may have been nominated as a result of domestic politics or for Geo-political reasons. When it comes to merit, Okonjo-Iweal stands taller than Kim.
All things being equal, the time has come for a new song from a new singer to be heard. Nigeria's Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should be considered seriously for this job. She has been at both ends; an insider at World Bank and outsider as Nigeria's minister of finance and former Foreign minister. She is ready for the challenges and rewards of the job.