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In an interview he granted Channels Television, Obasanjo had placed the blame on the National Assembly. He said it was an idea initiated and pursued by the National Assembly and not himself.
He argued that a presidential initiative would normally have come to the legislature in the form of an executive bill, which was not the case with the third term project.
The former president claimed that the legislators on their own included the agenda in the 100 amendments they proposed to the 1999 Constitution.
However, some of the ex-lawmakers who spoke to our correspondents on Saturday insisted that the former President was the brain behind the third term agenda.
Former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, who could barely hide his anger while reacting to Obasanjo’s assertion, claimed that Obasanjo informed him about the agenda shortly after he became Senate President.
“Immediately, I became Senate President, he told me of his intentions and told me how he wanted to achieve it. I initially did not take him seriously until the events began to unfold,” he said.
Nnamani, who spoke to our correspondent over the phone from the United States of America, said, “There was a time that there was a rumour that heavy sums of money were doled out to National Assembly members (Senate), that each of us received N50m – that translates into more than N8bn, including other sums that were shared.
“If he is claiming that third term was not his agenda, where could such money have come from and for what purpose? Didn’t he give instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor then to dole out the money?
“If he is claiming that he never initiated the idea, who then initiated the release of more than N8bn from the CBN coffers? Is it not only the president that has access to CBN vaults? Or does any lawmaker or senator have access to it?
“How can someone talk like this that he didn’t know about it, yet money, both in local and foreign currencies, exchanged hands,” he asked.
The former Senate President, however, was not forthcoming on how the money was shared and whether he got a share. He only said that as the President of the National Assembly at the time he took “full responsibility” for all that might have happened during his tenure.
He insisted that the third term bill was an executive bill and that he was prepared to defend his statement “anywhere and anytime.”
He said, “I am telling you that as the man who presided over it (third term bill), that it was an executive bill. I can defend this anywhere and anytime, with more than enough facts that I have given to you. No one should claim ignorance. If anyone is saying that the bill was not an executive bill, then such a person is only being a liar. At certain age in life, there are certain things one shouldn’t expect from an old man.
“The bill containing the tenure elongation was an executive bill and could not have been sponsored by any National Assembly member. Moreover, I don’t know what magic the executive would have done to get such bill through when all Nigerians were against it.
“If you remember, during the saga, I requested that all members return to their various constituencies to seek the views of their people. It was when they returned that we sat on it and ended on the 15th of May, 2006.
“In your paper today (SATURDAY PUNCH), Obasanjo referred to Ibrahim Mantu as Senate Leader. Mantu was not the Senate Leader, he was the Deputy Senate President then.
“I also read in your paper where he said that if he wanted third term he would have had his way. Well, that man is just a big joker. I don’t want to tell you other dubious and unpatriotic things he discussed with me. If I do, you would really know the kind of person he is.”
The former senate president also stated that Obasanjo solicited the support of the United States of America but failed.
“If you want to be convinced that the man is only telling a lie, pick up a copy of the book written by Condoleza Rice, the former Secretary to the Government of the United States of America. It is actually an autobiography by Rice.
“On page 628 or page 638, she discussed about Obasanjo’s meeting with Bush, how he told the former American President that he wanted to see how he could amend the Constitution so that he could go for a third term.
“To his surprise, Bush told him not to try it. Bush told him to be patriotic and leave by May 29, 2007.”
The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, told our correspondent that Obasanjo’s denial of his role in the third term agenda still sounded like a dream to him.
He remarked, “What is he (Obasanjo) talking about? Is such a statement coming from a military man and a former President? He has insulted the collective intelligence of Nigerians and members of the National Assembly.
“His aides came to me to solicit support for third term because I led the fight against third term in the House.
“All those names he is claiming not to have sent (Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Ibrahim Mantu); they all came seeking support.
“I recall vividly that people were being given N50m, some N100m to support third term.
“The money totalled over N10bn. How could N10bn be taken out of the national treasury for a project when you were the sitting President, yet that project was not your idea? Where did the money come from?”
The Action Congress of Nigeria lawmaker from Lagos State added, “Assuming it was not his idea as he now claims, did he speak publicly against it? What did he do or say publicly to condemn or stop the project.”
Gbajabiamila also added that Obasanjo attempted to enlist the support of a former US President, Mr. George Bush, for the project, but failed.
In the same vein, a former influential member of the House, Mr. Halims Agoda, laughed for about two minutes when his reaction was sought.
Agoda, who was at the House, from 1999 to 2007, recalled that he participated actively in the third term debate.
“One of the things that make a statesman to stand out is the ability to stand by whatever decision he took, whether good or bad.
“That a project failed should not amount to a complete denial. The third term was Obasanjo’s personal agenda, which he took a long time to nurture.
“He sought the support of the National Assembly, but it was thrown out”, Agoda said.
Agoda held the view that until now, Nigerians were hoping that Obasanjo would throw more light on the project so that they could learn some political lessons from it.
“The third term has been practised elsewhere in the world; it is not entirely new.
But, since it came to Nigeria in the days of Obasanjo, Nigerians expected that he would speak more on the project, not to disown it,” he said.
Senator Ahmed Lawan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, also said Obasanjo was interested in the third term agenda, adding, however, that there was no bill from the executive to that effect.
“There was no way the ex-president then could have done it himself because it was a legislative affair. But Obasanjo was clearly in support of it. There were lobbyists from the Presidency,” he said.
Lawan, who was a member of the House of Representatives at that time, said although he was not a member of the review committee, he would not be able to tell at what stage the third term came into the bill.
Effort’s to get the ex-president to respond to the claims of the lawmakers were not successful on Saturday night. When our correspondent called his Chief Security Officer, Mr. Ayo Akande, he said he was not competent to comment on the matter.
“I can’t make comments on the matter. I am not his spokesperson. You can contact the spokesperson to react,” he said.
When our correspondent called Obasanjo’s media assistant, Mr. Adeoba Ojekunle, the network operator said the number was wrong. A text message sent to his mobile phone was not replied as at press time.
The third term bid failed after the National Assembly annulled the entire process of amending the Constitution following sustained public outrage.
As vice-president, the mother of three assumed the top job in the landlocked and impoverished country on Saturday under the terms of the constitution. The 61-year-old cuts a maternal figure that presents a stark contrast to her professorial predecessor, who styled himself the "Economist in Chief".
A winner of national and international awards for her work as a supporter of women's rights, Banda was last year named by Forbes Magazine as Africa's third most powerful female politician after Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Nigerian Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
She will hope her influence stands her in good stead as she looks to rebuild ties with Malawi's main foreign donors - including former colonial power Britain and the United States - who had squabbled with and been alienated by Mutharika.
Until now the policeman's daughter has spent a lot of her time and energy campaigning on behalf poor rural African women, trying to persuade them they should not simply accept the existence they have inherited.
She has said her ambition is to set women on the world's least developed continent free from the cycle of poverty and abuse that has haunted them for centuries.In an interview late last year, she cited the case of a childhood friend in her ancestral village as one reason she has kept on campaigning.
She said her friend, much brighter than herself, was forced to leave high school after just one term because her family couldn't afford the $12 needed for the school fees.
"I went on to go to college and I became the vice president of Malawi. She is still where she was 30 years ago," Banda said in the interview with the Global Post.
"The vicious cycle of poverty kept her there and took away her options. I made up my mind at that point, whatever would happen in my life, I would try to send girls to schools."
EXPERIENCE IN GOVERNMENT
This personal pledge was behind Banda's decision to complete a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus University in the United States.
Setting up a garment manufacturing business and later a bakery, she said she used the proceeds to send underprivileged girls to school.
She also founded three major organisations in Malawi: the National Association of Business Women, the Young Women's Leaders Network, and the Joyce Banda Foundation.
"We know that early marriage, early pregnancy, and early death of young women in childbirth are connected to how long they stay in school," she says. The campaigning for women's rights did not stop when she joined the government in 2004. As Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services she fought to get a domestic violence bill enacted.
She became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006 and the country's first female vice president in 2009. A year later Banda was kicked out of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as Mutharika pushed to groom his brother Peter, Malawi's foreign minister, as his replacement.
Creating her own People's Party, Banda maintained her state position as vice president. She is married to Richard Banda, a former chief justice of Malawi and Swaziland.
Banda's presidency seems set to usher in a fresh opportunity for Malawi, and many will be hoping that under her leadership the small southern African state can reclaim its tourist brochure reputation as "The Warm Heart of Africa".
The split was also rejected by the Islamist insurgents that the rebels fought beside, as fears grew of a humanitarian crisis.
The United States, Africa and Europe dismissed the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad's (MNLA) declaration of independence.
The declaration, long a goal of Tuareg rebels, is a bid to formalise the situation on the ground, where the the country had been split in two by their uprising.
A democratic success since its last coup 21 years ago, Mali is now roughly divided into a Tuareg rebel-controlled north and junta-controlled south.
Complicating the picture, a radical Islamist group, Ansar Dine, has exploited the chaos to swoop in and install sharia law in parts of the north.
But while for a while the Islamists fought in concert with the MNLA, they have given short shrift to their independence plans.
"Our war is a holy war," Ansar Dine military chief Omar Hamaha said.
"It's a legal war in the name of Islam. We are against rebellions. We are against independence. We are against revolutions not in the name of Islam."
Mr Hamaha was speaking in a video obtained by AFP and France 2 television, filmed on Tuesday and Wednesday after the Islamists' takeover of the fabled city of Timbuktu.
It showed one group of rebels loitering outside a military camp, with their black flag draped over the name of the barracks above the entrance.
In other scenes in the video, small groups of women walked along the city's streets. Some wore full-face veils but most simply covered their hair with scarves.
Mr Hamaha said they had "more than 120 prisoners" including thieves.
"We have tied them up and taken their weapons. We beat them well and it's likely we will slit their throats," he added in unedited footage. It was not clear if this threat was directed at all prisoners.
In the city of Gao, witnesses said Ansar Dine had kidnapped seven Algerian diplomats, reports confirmed by the Algerian foreign ministry.
While the Islamists appeared to have the upper hand, the separatist MNLA yesterday morning declared the independence of their desert homeland, which they call Azawad, and where several rebellions have played out in past decades.
This latest one was fuelled by a flood of weapons - and returning Tuareg fighters - from Libya following Muammar Gaddafi's downfall.
"We solemnly proclaim the independence of Azawad as from today," Mossa Ag Attaher, a Paris-based MNLA spokesman said on France 24 television, confirming a statement on the group's website.
He said the group was ready to help fight the "terrorism" of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
But the international community swiftly rejected their proclamation.
The African Union dismissed it as "null and of no value whatsoever", while the European Union and United States both called for respect of Mali's "territorial integrity".
Britain said it was temporarily closing its embassy in Mali due to the "unstable" situation and "lack of constitutional rule".
Algeria, Mauritania and Niger are to meet tomorrow to discuss the crisis in their troubled neighbour, Algeria's APS news agency reported.
Some analysts have warned it will not be easy to dislodge the Tuareg from the north now that they have staked their claim.
But at the same time West Africa expert Paul Melly of London-based Chatham House said Mali could not be considered "definitively partitioned".
"Much of the population of the north ... is made up of sub-Saharan Africa ethnic groups such as the Songhai and the Fulani, who consider themselves to be Malian and have no interest in an independent Tuareg state."
Amnesty International warned that north Mali was on the brink of a "major humanitarian disaster". Oxfam and World Vision said crippling sanctions against the junta could have devastating consequences.
"All the food and medicine stored by major aid agencies has been looted and most of the aid workers have fled," said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty's researcher on west Africa.
"The population is at imminent risk of severe food and medical shortages that could lead to many casualties especially among women and children who are less able to fend for themselves."
More than 200,000 people have fled since the rebellion began in mid-January.
Angry at government's handling of the insurgency a group of low-ranking soldiers lead by Captain Amadou Sanogo on March 22 ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure just weeks before he was due to step down after an election.
But in the weeks following the coup the Tuareg and Islamist fighters made even greater gains, tightening their grip on the northern regions
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has denied the allegation that he ever solicited for a third term as the president of Nigeria, saying it was the national assembly that included it amongst the other clauses of the constitution, that was to be amended.
While commenting on the challenges of deepening democratic institutions in Africa; the former president for the first time, in an exclusive interview with Channels Television stated firmly that “I never toyed with the idea of a third term.”
The former president insisted that he has always denied the allegations and talks around the third term issue which he allegedly sought at the end of his two-term tenure of eight years in 2007.
He claimed the bill for the third term was initiated by members of the national assembly along with the constitution amendment.
“Third term was one out of over a hundred clauses that they (the National Assembly) included in that amendment and they initiated it.”
“It was not an executive bill, so you are absolutely wrong” he affirmed to Channels reporter, adding that “if I want a third term that bill would have come from me.”
“My liaison officer to the national assembly, Florence Ita-Giwa told the whole world that there was no day I ever called her and say go and work for third term” he added.
He also took a swipe at his Vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, saying “even Atiku who said some people told him there was a third term agenda, hasn’t mentioned the names of the people that told him such.”
“Even Ibrahim Mantu, who was the chairman of the constitution amendment committee, will never tell you I told him I want a third term.”
The former president who now owns a church in Abeokuta further explained that he knew what he would have done to achieve the third term, if he wanted it.
“I am not a fool, if I want a third term, I know how to go about it and there is nothing I want that God hasn’t given me. If I had wanted a third term, I would have gone about it, the way I should have gone about it and I would have gotten it.”
The retired general spoke with our correspondent Olugbenga Ashiru in an interview session in his hilltop home in Abeokuta South-west Nigeria.
Source: Channel Television
The Pentecostal pastor had asked one of his parishioners who drives a tricycle popularly known as Keke Marwa to assist him get a few cans of water because the taps in his compound and indeed, the entire neighbourhood had gone dry for months.
While many residents of the ghetto depend on water vendors known as Mairuwa. for their daily supply of water, others patronise water tanker vendors or retailers who own shallow boreholes. But the “Mallams” who supplied the water had suddenly disappeared from the streets while the unmotorable nature of roads in the area, had restricted the water vendors from coming to supply water on that fateful day.
The few tankers which manage to brave it to the area sold at very high costs that most people could not afford it. When the Keke Marwa operator eventually arrived with the water, he told his distraught pastor that the vendors had increased the price of a can from N10 to N15.
Much as Lagos is surrounded by water, there are some residential areas in the city where access to potable water could be described as a luxury. Indeed Nigeria is one of the few countries yet to meet the millennium development goal, MDG, on water and Lagos is believed to have contributed a large percentage to the country’s inability to attain this goal.
A visit to some areas like Festac Town, Ajegunle, Amukoko, Itire, Lawanson, Aguda, Meiran-Ijaye, Abule-Egba to mention but a few, reveal that residents have little or no access to water. Not even government -owned hospitals are spared the water scarcity. The result is that many water vendors particularly from the northern part of the country, have capitalised on the scarcity to go into trading on water. These ubiquitous water vendors popularly called Mairuwa in Hausa Language, have taken over virtually all the nooks and crannies of the city to sell the essential commodity.
While some well placed water vendors erect tanks in front of their homes which serve as water reservoirs, others make carts which they use to carry several cans of water to the homes of their buyers. But generally, water vending is seen as a lucrative business hence many people are going into the business.
The sale of water is an age-long business in this part of the world. Before now, the vendors (mairuwas) carried two tins of water on their shoulders. The two tins were usually held together by a rope on a flat bar which gives it a kind of balance on the shoulders.
Price: The cost of a 25 litres keg of water varies from place to place and is dependent on the seller and the source of the water. Some vendors buy in water tanks and drums and resell to end users who buy in smaller containers such as Jerry cans, buckets and gallons.
Those who patronise these vendors told VanguardFeatures, VF that the dryness of most taps in the city, compelled them to patronise Mairuwas, although they know that the water bought from them may not be potable.. A woman who lives at Arolawun Street, Ilupeju, Mrs. Atinuke Robbinson told VF that the water pipes in her street have become rusty because water has not flowed through them for a long time now. Now that water has started running, she lamented that it is usually dirty and has a nauseating odour.
“As you can see, we now have regular supply of tap water in my area but the pipes are rusty and overdue for change because they were laid in the olden days. The water is directly from Water Corporation but it is dirty and usually smells. I stopped fetching it some years ago and I patronise water vendours instead,” she said.
Dry wells: Most parts of Lagos depend on water from shallow wells for domestic and other household uses. Some residents of Awodiora Town and Achakpo in Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA told VF that they do not have access to pipe- borne water. Even the wells and bore holes are now dry because the rains have not been forth-coming.
According to them, the water from these wells and boreholes are unsuitable for human consumption as they are usually yellowish and smells. They noted that the only option available is to patronise water vendors for drinking. “We can only use the water from wells to bath after purifying it with chemicals like alum”, they disclosed.
Although the Achakpo community in Ajeromi Ifelodun can boast of a water scheme provided by Messrs Guinness Nigeria Plc, residents of the area, alleged that the taps are usually dry and this scenario has necessitated their patronage of water hawkers. Another resident explained that the Guinness water project is too far from his residence, hence the only alternative is to buy water outside.
Another resident of Achakpo who introduced himself as Mr. Frank Akubueze, said he buys water in drums. According to him, he finds it difficult to patronise Mairuwas. ‘’Many people usually patronise Me Ruwas because they have no choice. I spend more than N1000 to fill a drum but I don’t patronise Mairuwas because their Jerry cans are usually dirty. The water they sell has colour and there is the tendency that you can contact water borne diseases such Typhoid fever or Cholera from using water bought from them. I patronise those who sell directly, that is the water tankers; I have no option than to buy at that outrageous amount since we don’t have access to water from the government ,” Akubueze said.
Source unknown but k kreadily available: At Itire and Lawanson in the Surulere area of the city, Madam Fola Ogunibe and Mr. Onaolapo Godwin told VF they patronise Me-Ruwas daily.
“We come back from work late in the night and our saving grace are the Me Ruwas because we don’t have time to start looking for water. Mairuwas are readily available; all we need to do is to provide the cash and the water will be at our door steps. We don’t know the source and we don’t need to ask anybody.”
The business is lucrative – water vendour:
Although none of the Me-Ruwas was ready to speak, a water vendor and a resident of Olodi-Apapa, Mrs. Mary Ekaobong said she gets her supply from the Lagos State water Corporation. According to her, she buys 2000 litres of water at the rate of N2,500 and resells at N60 per 20 litres and N1,500 per drum respectively. “A friend of mine introduced me to the business and I found out it is very lucrative. My supplier brings it from Festac and I dispense to the end users,” she said.
Water Corporation keeps mute: Effort to speak to the Managing Director of the Lagos State Water Corporation, Mr. Shayo Holloway, an Engineer failed. Although he did not pick his calls, he sent a text message requesting our correspondent to see Mr. Ladipo, the Corporation’s image maker. After several calls and text messages, Mr. Ladipo replied to say he was still trying to book an appointment for a formal interview which he never did until press time. Rather, the Corporation sent a press statement in which it urged Lagosians to desist from using water from shallow boreholes.
Mr. Holloway noted that the majority of boreholes and wells in the State are shallow which means that they are not up to 150 metres deep or not subjected to technical and engineering specifications. According to him, “water from this aquifer is too prone to pollution with attendant health hazards, such as typhoid, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and other related water-borne diseases.”
He further noted that proliferation of boreholes has adverse environmental impact over medium or long term period with salt water intrusion from the ocean and land subsidence. Holloway described boreholes and wells as sources of pollution of the ground water, thereby causing its rapid depletion.
To ensure consistent water supply where consumers have tapped to its mains, the Corporation urged the residents to report whenever there is shortage of water supply to check the “stop-cock valve” which is usually within the premises on the service line as this may have been tampered with.
“Instead of reverting to service of water tankers, we urge you to contact the Water Corporation near your areas for quick intervention,” Holloway said. He cited the recent rehabilitation exercise in Otto, Lagos Mainland as the cause of scarcity of water in Ebute Metta and Apapa Road axis adding that such exercise normally causes brief water scarcity.
Governor Babatunde Fashola had recently stated that the main reason his administration embarked on the construction of various water works and rehabilitation of the existing ones is to ensure that pipe-borne water is available to every home and industries in Lagos. He cited the construction of additional 15 mini waterworks spread across the local government areas of the state and construction of a dedicated 12.15 MW power plant for constant power supply to Adiyan, Iju and Akute water facilities as jointly responsible for about 90 percent of water supply to the metropolis.
Minister seeks prudent use of water: Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe said while the government is doing all it can to address the shortfall in water supply, the people must do their best to be prudent in the use of water. She said: “I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians to know that as essential as water is, it is important they know how to manage it properly,” adding that the tap should always be turned off when not in use.
The Minister said it will cost about $2.5bn to provide potable water for 75 per cent of Nigerians. She explained that though the United Nations Children Fund said that the global access to water had been met, the nation is yet to achieve its target of providing water to all citizens.
Speaking at a forum in Abuja recently, Mrs. Ochekpe stated that Nigeria might adopt the Israeli model of water management to preserve its water resource. According to her, Israel does not use water carelessly, but uses it sparingly and also harvests rain water which is used during the dry season.
The government, according to the Minister, has spent $5m for consultancy services on the Lake Chad which had shrunk from about 2, 700 square kilometres to 2,000 Square kilometres in recent times
Declare access to water a human right:
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, Bread of Life Development Foundation, has urged the government to declare access to safe water a human right for every Nigeria.
Noting that Nigeria is one of the 122 countries that supported the July 28, 2010, United Nations resolution that recognised the human right to water, the organisation in a statement by its Executive Director, Babatope Babalobi called on the Nigerian government to domesticate the human right to water in National water supply and sanitation policies and laws without further delay.
Given that most of the Millennium Development Goals and targets would not be achieved unless there is adequate and affordable access to water and sanitation policy, we expect the Nigerian government to accord the highest priority to the improved water and sanitation services delivery and the first step towards this is by recognising the human right to water, initiating programmes to implement and enforce this right. It is regretful that statistics released by the UNDP Human Development report projected that on current trends, Nigeria will not attain the MDG water target before 2040 and it is unlikely to attain the Sanitation target until 2076.
This situation is unacceptable, but can be redressed if the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration accords topmost priority to the water and sanitation sector, implement appropriate reforms, adequately funding water and sanitation projects and programmes and carry out far reaching measures to curb and curtail corrupt practices in the sector.
The Bread of Life also recommended several other steps to ensure Nigerians, especially the urban and rural poor are able to access safe water supply and sanitation services.
Govt should declare national emergency in the water sector
The NGO also called on governments at all levels to prioritise water supply and push more funds to the sector. It enjoined the Federal Government to allocate fund for rehabilitation and expansion of state water schemes. At the Federal level, the National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy should be reviewed and the National Water Resources draft bill reviewed and passed into law.
They should make the implementation of Water reform programmes by states a condition for Federal Government support to their water sector programmes. Bread of Life also wants the government to declare a national emergency in the sector while states should make a commitment to make access to 30 litres of safe water per day, within 250 metres a right of every Nigerian.
“In rural areas, household water treatment should be encouraged and popularised to ensure point of use water treatment. Low costs technologies for household water treatment that can be promoted include filtration and boiling. The government should launch a National Campaign for household water treatment to prevent future preventable deaths through water borne diseases such as guinea worm, cholera, etc,” the group said.
In the by now well known Goldman Sachs report from 2003, Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric) were identified as the global economic powers of the future. Last year South Africa joined the club, forcing a name change to the elite club. But the likes of Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey are also biding their time in the wings, keenly anticipating their inclusion into the club.
There is little doubt that this disparate group of rapidly burgeoning economies has the collective clout to influence tangible outcomes at the global level. While the strength of the G-7 economies appears to have slightly dwindled in the morass of the global financial crisis, Brics’ has grown and South Africa’s membership has become the subject of much debate.
A good many South Africans were outraged by comments by the man who first coined the Bric acronym. Goldman Sachs Asset Management global chairman Jim O'Neill observed South Africa "has too small an economy" to merit inclusion, and that "countries such as Nigeria carry more power now".
South Africans are well aware Nigeria is on course to dwarf South Africa as the largest economy on the continent. Already Lagos is being hailed as the new Johannesburg, but surely the present state of the South African economy merits inclusion among the world’s most vibrant economies? This is South Africa after all – gateway to Africa, home of the rainbow nation, harbinger of hope for a fractured world.
South Africa thus lobbied enthusiastically to join the Bric club. In huddling with Brazil, India, Russia and China, South Africa was alive to the opportunity of forming strategic alliances and helping advance the role of emerging economies in restructuring global political, economic and financial architecture. If the Brics nations are too far apart geographically and too disparate politically to forge a useful alliance, then the ideology of multilateralism has brought together a subversive new power in politics as well as the world economy.
While Brics has offered the ideal platform for South Africa to promote pet causes like United Nations reform, the fact that we are not a “natural” member of the club is seen to leave us in a position of relative weakness.
South Africa, of course, has promoted itself as an integral link to the African continent. It is our status as self-acclaimed gateway to the continent that has afforded us membership into Brics and an opportunity to explore lucrative markets for our goods and services, and to implement the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the New Growth Path framework. There certainly is a wide scope for co-operation in various projects within the Brics structures – membership in Brics will promote trade and investment, enhancing industrialisation and promoting job creation. There is little doubt that South Africa benefits and will continue to benefit from clubbing together with the likes of the Bric countries, but what is being contested is the potential of the South African economy and its political underpinnings to actually take advantage of these possibilities.
South Africa is of course a privileged member of various other global governance clubs like Brics: the G-20 heads of state, Ibsa (India, Brazil and South Africa) and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Civets (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) class of emerging economies. South Africa’s inclusion into Brics then follows a trend of South Africa’s membership of these global cliques. Peter Draper, Adjunct Professor of International Business at Wits Business School believes South Africa’s inclusion into these clubs is a legacy of the country’s peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy, coupled with its relative economic weight over the rest of the continent.
Draper, however, warns that this appeal is fast fading: “Those foundations are waning in the face of the African National Congress government’s growing ambivalence towards democratic norms and the relatively rapid growth and development taking place in sub-Saharan Africa.”
“The ANC government’s own policy choices, particularly its emphasis on state-driven economic policy, and the internecine power struggles racking the party have set the country’s economic policy adrift. Thus investor confidence has been undermined at a time of global economic crisis. Taken together, these trends suggest South Africa’s days as the African representative of choice are numbered.”
Jim O’Neil, the man at the centre of the current furore surrounding South Africa’s inclusion in Brics, notes that it has been more than 10 years since he created the acronym. “In recent years, when quizzed by the growing number of policymakers on what they can do to get their countries included in Brics, my answer is usually one of two things: get more people, or dramatically boost your productivity rate. I have argued that, to be truly ‘Bric-like’, an economy has to be already 5% of global GDP, or demonstrate the potential to be that large in the near future,” he says.
Writing elsewhere last weekend O’Neil notes, “When I first created the acronym ‘Bric’ more than 10 years ago, it was meant to describe those countries large enough today, or which might be large enough in the future, to be literally part of the ‘bric’ or fabric of the modern global economy.” More tellingly, however, he confesses he has been approached by many countries to make space in the acronym for their countries. “There are many other countries larger than South Africa that have approached me and asked me to consider using one of their initials as part of a new, broader acronym, but I find it difficult to see how they can achieve the status of this simple definition,” he says.
South Africa’s inclusion into Brics, then, belies the logic of the likes of Goldman Sachs executives. Our membership of the club demonstrates that this is a club of nations brought together to maximise economic opportunities and challenge the status quo. South Africa’s inclusion into Brics, against the logic and indeed without the behest of the man who seems to have clubbed the nations together, proves that this is a new political and economic block that will forge alliances to cement its own political progress and ensure economic survival, no matter what the numbers say.
Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen, editor of ZAPreneur, a veritable treasure trove of public policy analysis, concludes that South Africa’s inclusion in Brics is valuable for the learning potential it offers. “There are many questions to answer, but focusing on the size of the economy for each of these countries is only part of the story,” he says. “South Africa will hopefully benefit from lessons and failures in the Brics countries, and begin to implement some of the more imaginative and sustainable programmes we have seen in Brazil and India.”
The end of apartheid brought positive economic growth to South Africa. Roger Southall, writing in the New South African Review, notes that the 15 years after the decline of apartheid brought an increase in per capita incomes from R20 214 in 1994 to R25 897 in 2008 and a decline in the proportion of people living in absolute poverty from 4.2% in 1996 to 1.4% in 2008.
And while these numbers are laudable in themselves, for South Africa to justify its inclusion in the Brics club, the potential for intra-African trade and investment must be maximised. But, so too, much needs to be done to restore growth and international confidence in the country. If that’s not a tall order enough, South Africa must also work towards justifying its position in Brics while ensuring the fruits of economic growth are more equitably distributed.
Source: Daily Maverick
I made a mistake recently. When I read that President Obama had nominated Jim Yong Kim to be the next President of the World Bank, I assumed that was that. When does the hand over begin?
Now I read that this year, for the first time, it is not a done deal. The world's two multinational institutions, the World Bank (which is actually a fund) and the International Monetary Fund (which is actually a bank) have been headed since their foundation after World War Two by an American and a European. At the Bank, the President is not voted in democratically, votes are weighted according to the amount of money each country puts into the Bank. So America gets to cast 16.41 % of the votes.
Is that all? No. Here is the catch. The 185 board members have to agree a candidate by an 85% majority. If this wheeze had been cooked up by the Soviet Union or Communist Albania or Mao's China we would all be furrowing our brows and tut tutting about democracy and transparency. This is a shabby wheeze by western countries to keep a grip on the world economy. The Europeans get to nominate the head of the IMF on a similar principle.
This year there is a really good candidate: Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. She is highly competent, energetic with a real vision of what the bank should be doing. But she is African - the Nigeria Finance Minister. The World Bank will be judged on the success or failure by what it does in Africa. She has the backing of the African Union.
It would be a hugely symbolic appointment. In the 1990s Africa was handed over to the World Bank which imposed structural adjustment on its economies. They certainly needed reform, but with no sense of the social or political implications, the economists of the bank, backed by Western countries, dismantled Africa's states. In the 'triumph' of the Western capitalist model over the Soviet Union, the orders were to clear away state structures and open up the countries to compete for investment in the free market. The sharper the shock the shorter and more effective it would be.
Key institutions of new and fragile states, barely one generation old, were dismantled. Thousands of people were thrown out of work and spending on health and education declined dramatically. As governments weakened, rebellions and wars broke out. I count 24 new or reignited civil wars in Africa in that decade and an appalling rise in poverty. In human terms it was possibly one of the greatest economic crimes of the 20th century. The investment that was supposed to flow in never came. Few investors were willing to put their money in a continent with such a terrible reputation for war, chaos and corruption. In many places that reputation was true, but not all of Africa's countries were at war and investors who found their way to the peaceful ones saw their money multiplying rapidly.
The Bank led the way on structural adjustment. Its reforms may have helped in the long run to bring investment, but what really turned Africa's economies round was China's decision to buy its raw materials from the continent. That, combined with the arrival of mobile phones, and the rise of a new African middle class, has given Africa more than 10 years of growth. In 2008 the Western free market model exploded and since then the US and Europe have demonstrated neither success in their own economies nor found a new theoretical model to impose on others through the Bank and the Fund.
In the past, the Bank's presidents have either been visionaries that inspire but can't always follow through - men like Robert McNamara and James Wolfensohn - and dull bureaucrats like Barber Conable and Lewis Preston. The present president, Robert Zoellick, is another in that mould. I went to a talk he gave last year. A nice man I thought but as colourless and lacking in vision as it is possible to be. I was recently asked to talk to the Bank's Africa team on an 'away day' in Washington. I found them very welcoming, sharp on the details and generally concerned and engaged in Africa. But they were troubled by whether the Bank was really doing the right things or not. They were waiting nervously for the new boss to be appointed. Most of the day was spent trying to measure and evaluate what the Bank does -which looked to me like an exercise in economic navel-gazing. The only time I sensed real passion was when someone suggest that Jeff Sachs might be their next president.
So what better moment to appoint Ngozi? She has already laboured in the dull desert of the Bank's Washington offices and twice walked unscathed through the terrifying valley of Nigerian politics. She retains a strong vision of development for people, not for ideologies or theories. It's time for America to listen to others - especially Africa. Mr Obama, are you listening?
Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society. He is author of Africa: altered states, ordinary miracles.
It will be simply splendid! Splendid indeed to have a Nigerian woman become the president of the World Bank. Three frontline nations and economic powerhouse in Africa - South Africa, Angola and of course Nigeria have endorsed her for this important post. Nigeria has even gone further and has managed to get the African Union to stand by her. To buttress how serious the country of her birth is committed to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweal, Nigerian diplomatic mission in Washington DC has started lobbying other foreign diplomats to support her.
The truth is that Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweal has strong competitors to the position and it will take more than qualification and credentials to topple those two other gentlemen. To be frank, the most compelling competitor is Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean American nominated by President Barrack Obama. The other gentleman Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, is a Columbian who can be called a Latin American candidate. Jose Antonio Ocampo is also a good candidate; he is a college professor and a former finance minister in Columbia. The Latin American candidate, Jose Antonio Ocampo is in the process but we all have a feeling that he will not get the position,because United States has an upper hand in the hemisphere.
Without mincing words, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the most qualify to be president of the World Bank. She has the resume, the requisitive education and experience to head the Brentwood institution. To top it all, she has worked for the World Bank for 25 years and she has hands on experience. She understands the philosophy, architecture and the nature of the job. She did not need anybody on the first day of her job to show her the cafeteria, conference room, library and the rest of the building. Okonjo-Iweala already knows the names of the most of the senior staff working in the building.
But it takes more than resume and experience to get the position. This is a political position that requires more than having a doctorate in economics from Ivy League college. United States needs the position to able to pilot her international affairs with regards to democratic dispensation and capitalism. It would have been better if President Obama has nominated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. But Nigeria as a nation has poor branding, despite being an oil-rich nation and Nigerian constituency in America have not yet started flexing their voting and political muscle.
You are beginning to get the idea: Yes, few months ago Okonjo-Iweala was the managing director of World Bank before she returned home to become the minister of finance and economic coordinator for President Jonathan's administration. Before that she has been vice-president and corporate secretary at World Bank. Her stiff competitor Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the American nominee does not have a vast and ample experience like her in global economics and granulated management. Yong Kim, who is currently the president of Dartmouth College, is a medical doctor by training and does not enjoy adequate sophistication on international economics and finance, unlike Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who has her doctorate and experience in the field.
Jim Yong Kim has couple of things going for him; he is from a minority population group in United States, Korean community. That will help for America to counteract the argument that a candidate from emerging nation is needed. Jim Yong Kim was born in South Korea before he migrated to America for his advance and post graduate studies. He is an American citizen who was born in a developing nation and economically emerging market of South Korea. Moreover, at World Health Organization (WHO), he has been known to be generous with his care giving and dedication to the health of developing nations especially AIDS patients.
United States candidate has upper hand because since the inception of the two Brentwood institutions: World Bank and IMF, United States has always produced leaders of the World Bank while Europe takes over the leadership of International Monetary Fund (IMF) leadership. The United States has the most number of votes at the World Bank and together with its allies in Europe, Japan and Saudi Arabia; it will have its way.
But "let not your heart be troubled", hope is not all lost. Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweal can still take it and win the position. It is possible but Nigeria has to up her game and take the issue direct to United States and Europeans. Nigeria must make her point direct and precise why it is necessary for an African woman to land the World Bank apex job.
Nigeria and Okonjo-Iweala have made the point that the time has come for a candidate from an emerging nation to lead the World Bank. The point must be clearly established that Jim Yong Kim having been born in South Korea, will not be equated as being acceptable to developing world. For Yong Kim is now representing the developed nations.
Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala might also made the argument that the time has come to give a woman the opportunity to participate in global leadership. And by electing her as president of World Bank can prove to the entire world that women are to be taken serious, not just in talk but in action. By having a woman from Europe as the head of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and another woman from Africa as head of World Bank is the right thing to do and reassure the global community that equality is here to stay.
Good luck to Nigeria and Okonjo-Iweala!
Washington, DC — Opening statement of U.S. Senator Chris Coons, as prepared for delivery on March 29, 2012:
I am pleased to chair this hearing of the African Affairs Subcommittee, which will focus on Nigeria and issues of security, governance, and trade. I would like to welcome our distinguished witnesses - Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Sharon Cromer, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa at USAID; and Paul Marin, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency - and thank them for joining us today. Our witnesses have extensive experience and expertise in a range of issues relevant to Nigeria, and I look forward to their testimony.
I am especially pleased to be joined by my good friend and Ranking Member, Senator Isakson, with whom I traveled to Nigeria last June. Our trip came on the heels of last year's elections and President Goodluck Jonathan's inauguration. It was a time defined by uncertainty about Nigeria's future and cautious optimism about President Jonathan's leadership. The elections - while far from perfect - marked a dramatic improvement from the violence and lack of transparency that marred past elections. At the same time, there was post-election violence that killed hundreds and demonstrated lingering communal tensions that continues to this day. During our visit, we were particularly impressed with the Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, for his leadership and commitment to electoral reform, which allowed Nigeria to hold the most transparent elections in its history.
One year later, Nigeria today faces serious challenges, including an increasingly sophisticated and deadly wave of extremism, pervasive corruption, and growing levels of income inequality and poverty. With more than 155 million people, Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and its second-largest economy after South Africa. As Africa's largest producer of oil and one of the top five suppliers of oil to the United States, Nigeria plays an important role in the global economy. The maps that I will refer to illustrate the underdevelopment of the North and the growing need for President Jonathan to bridge persistent geographic, sectarian, and economic divides between North and South.
The wealth in Nigeria is largely concentrated in the South, as demonstrated by the first map, which also indicates the southern concentration of oil resources. Nigeria's economy continues to rely disproportionately on oil, which accounts for 80 percent of government revenues and 95 percent of export earnings. Poverty levels are rising, with more than 60 percent of the population living on less than a dollar a day, and indicators such as income distribution, health, and literacy indicate a sharp North-South divide.
The second map demonstrates the clear distinction between northern states, where less than 10% of children are typically vaccinated and southern states, where the percentage is significantly higher, often 30% or more. And this map demonstrates a clear distinction between North and South when it comes to female literacy rates, which is less than 20% in a majority of northern states and more than 50% in a majority of southern states.
Nigeria also faces nationwide problems including corruption, instability, and economic mismanagement which have hampered economic opportunity. With its growing population and significant resources, Nigeria holds enormous economic potential and I believe the U.S. can play a critical role in helping to diversify the Nigerian economy beyond oil and gas, expand its power system infrastructure, address widespread transparency problems, and strengthen rule of law.
In this regard, I was pleased that the State Department recently led a trade mission to Abuja and Lagos focused on expanding U.S. investment in Nigeria's energy sector. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about prospects for deepening U.S. economic engagement in Nigeria and partnering with the public and private sectors to address problems with the electric grid, which remains one of the biggest obstacles to Nigeria's economic expansion.
Nigeria's growing population represents an important market for U.S. goods, but rising security concerns have hampered investment. In the past two years, Boko Haram, a violent northern-based Islamic extremist group, has launched increasingly sophisticated attacks on civilians, government and police installations, and the United Nations headquarters building in Abuja. In fact, only six months after Senator Isakson and I met with the Archbishop and Imam of Abuja, Boko Haram launched attacks on Catholic churches in and around Abuja, killing dozens of people after the celebration of Christmas mass.
This last graph demonstrates the sharp rise in the number of attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram in the past year. As you can see, between 2003 and 2009, the number of attacks was minimal, averaging one or two annually. In 2010, however, the number of attacks rose to 30. Alarmingly, the number increased more than five-fold in the past year, with more than 150 attacks in 2011 alone, and this does not include the multiple coordinated bombings that led to hundreds of deaths in Kano in January of this year.
The Nigerian security services and police have faced significant challenges addressing the growing threat posed by Boko Haram, elements of which may be affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other transnational terrorist organizations. The bulk of its followers, however, appear to be focused on domestic issues, primarily the lack of jobs and growing economic inequities that have disproportionately impacted northern states.
The essential component to addressing economic and security challenges is governance, and we have seen clear examples of the importance of democracy and good governance in West Africa just in the past week with developments in Mali and Senegal. It is clear that Nigeria plays a critical role in the region, and there is more that could be done by President Jonathan to encourage meaningful reform to root out endemic corruption and strengthen transparency.
We are pleased to have with us three Administration witnesses who will consider these issues and assess the difficult questions surrounding governance, economics, and security in Nigeria and how they are interrelated. We look forward to hearing from each of you, but first, let me turn to Senator Isakson for his opening remarks.