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“unity of Nigeria is fragile ”

Chief Obasanjo

 

Nigerian former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that Nigeria at fifty years is still vulnerable and weaken by forces of division and disunity. His observation and conclusion is that the “unity of Nigeria is fragile.” He was asking Nigerians to rise and make their country better and great.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo critical analysis was based on the state of Nigeria – the killings, disruptions and divisions motivated by tribalism, regionalism and corruption. The former president was offering an insight as the election of April is gearing up and politicians joggling for ways to win elections, sometimes at all cost.

Obasanjo Speaking at beginning and launching of the political campaign for Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State in Minna, was quoted and said “the very fabric that holds us together is fragile; the issue of unity is still very important; we must not toy with it.” The governor is a member of PDP, a political party Obsanjo is the chairman of the board trustee.

Chief Obasanjo stressing on the progress of individual states, further commented that, “It is not enough that our individual states are forging ahead; we all must be together. If we do not make it great it (Nigeria), it will not be the fault of God.” And added that leadership must rise to make things right, “Nothing is wrong with Nigeria; what is wrong is with us, the leaders and followers. We must correct it ourselves.”

Chief offered the way out and said that, “thieves and barons of divisions on ethnic, religious, linguistic bases have taken over the country; what a shame, what a great shame. I believe that all of us who God has put in position must rise to correct the situation.”

 

 

 

Published in Archive

Sanusi‘s Central Bank of Nigeria raised interest rate to  6.50 percent

Rising Inflationary trend is the most persistent threat to Nigeria’s growing economy.   The Central Bank of Nigeria and its monetary policy committee voted to lift the benchmark interest rate of previously 6.25 percent to 6.50 percent. The last time the monetary committee gathered at the end of fourth quarter of 2009, they left the interest rate unaltered at 6.25 percent. The inflation rate then was exceeding 13 percent although its surging momentum has since receded, yet inflation rate is still above 10 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

The  governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) promised to hold back inflation below 10 percent last year but  inflation rate is still moving upward in spite of the tighten of the monetary policy. Sometimes the CBN can be overly cautious with its application of monetary instrument to stem down inflation. When the benchmark interest rate was retained last year, Afripol financial experts commented on the timidity of the monetary policy committee in not raising the interest rate in the face of rising and persistent inflation.

Then Afripol commented that, “The Monetary Policy Committee of CBN is cautious in not altering the interest rate for fear of spurring any changes in the economy.  But their timidity is not justified because inflationary trend is rising and infusion of the funds is not going to slow it down. Therefore it is logical that Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 6.25 percent be increased not retained. Again Nigerian economy is expected to grow up to 10 percent in the preceding year and together with inflow of cheap money from both foreign and domestic investors may spur higher inflation.”  Therefore it may be little late, but the lifting of the benchmark interest rate will still be contributing in stabilizing and revising the inflationary trend.  But this is not the time to pass judgment on the process, for the key thing is to do the right thing for the economy and financial wellbeing of Nigeria.

Mr. Vincent Ogboi, an economic and financial expert at Afripol stated, “Rising inflation does not booster well for a progressive economic growth. Governor Sanusi must focus on inflation as a laser beam, with monetary policy at his disposal to bring the inflation rate to a single digit. One thing is to lower the inflation but another is to make it sustainable for long term economic growth. The rising prices of agricultural products and hydrocarbon need an intervention of the executive and legislative arms of government in plotting a strategy to revolutionize agriculture and energy sectors of the economy.

Ogboi further stressed that, "Nigeria must not forget that the time is now to diversity her oil based economy. Nigeria must harness her human capital and use it to her full advantage. Oil resources may not last forever but human capital with a large population base is going nowhere soon”

What’s the deal with the rising inflation?

Without doubt, Nigeria’s economic fundamental is relatively healthy. The GDP is growing at an impressive rate. The growth annual rate of 2010 was about 7.8 percent with a striking 8.29 percent at fourth quarter of last year and the economy is expected to grow above 8 percent in 2011. Naira is relatively strong when compared to dollar, in spite of the continuous withdrawal from Nigeria‘s foreign reserve which act as a war chest against aggressive currency speculators. The minister of finance was forecasting a more liberal growth of 10 percent on the grounds that infrastructures and electricity will be upgraded and improved. The level of investments flowing into the economy and Nigerian stock exchange are quite impressive.

Nigerian agricultural products. Photo: Sunday Adedji

Nigeria has injected a lot of money into the monetary base to recapitalize the banks that were bailed out from total collapse due to mismanagement.  Nigeria recapitalized the banks with almost $4 billion and Nigeria’s Asset Management Corporation (AMCON) is buying back toxic debts from bad banks at the tune of $14 billion. The liquidity flowing into the economy due to quantitative easing has the tendency to overheat the economy, thereby triggering inflationary trend.  At same time the quick economic growth that attracts investment can over stimulate the economy and keep the inflation surging.

On the borrowings of large amount of money, Nigeria's debt-to-GDP ratio may be minimal but that will not be an inducement for excessive borrowing. All the borrowings are bringing in a lot of money into the circulation and that too can exert inflationary pressure on the economy.  The borrowings Nigeria made last year was enormous but it is not cooling off in 2011. Reuters reported that “Sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy (Nigeria)  plans to issue 66.5 billion naira in February, including 36.5 billion naira in three-year and 30 billion naira in five-year bonds. For March, the DMO said in its offer calendar it would issue 30 billion naira each in three-year and five-year paper.”

The achieving of lower inflation cannot be left only to the reserve bank. All the branches of the government and economic sectors have roles to play. Government will deliberately encourage the consumption of local manufactured products. Agriculture must be improved not only in preservation and storage but availability to all the corners of the country is intrinsic. This is where the improvement of transportation and infrastructure comes in.  The over creation and printing of naira must be decelerated no matter how tempting it might be.

Governor of Central Bank Nigeria and its monetary policy committee have to be on top of the issue of rising inflation. The problem of inflation can retard economic growth and dwindling away gained economic progress.  In case of Nigeria with a problem of high unemployment, inflation can make matters worse by discouraging research and development. The ramification is that employers will have no appetite to produce and hire in economy weaken by inflation.

 

President Jonathan peaceful nomination is a good economics

A miracle happened in Nigeria on the day President Jonathan was nominated to be the flag bearer and presidential candidate for Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the largest political party in Nigeria. The miracle that eluded many local experts and local media was not the election of President Jonathan per se, but the aftermath peace, transparency and stability that came with it.  The calm and relaxed atmosphere that followed the PDP convention was an omen of the country’s rising maturation and tolerance. There was no fighting and no violence on the streets of Nigeria and the country was safe for democratic capitalism.

A teachable moment happened in Nigeria, contrary to what the naysayers were bellowing about Nigeria – ‘the religious and regional divide that comes with violence and instability’ but Nigeria overcome it at the PDP convention. This is important, for had confusion and violence followed the political convention, they would have said, ‘I tell you so, for nothing good comes out of Nigeria.’

The international and domestic communities together with investors responded with their further investments in Nigerian stock exchange. In capitalist democracies investors vote with their pocketbooks and stock markets become the barometer to measure the way investors and traders felt. To Nigeria’s credit the nomination shows that contrary to many slanted observations and analysis, Nigeria is a nation that is willing to stay together and work together at least for that moment.

The country may have just begun to start making the tiny step to growth and self actualization. But this cannot be interpreted that Nigeria is now standing tall without existential problems. Far from the truth, Nigeria still has many problems but peaceful nomination of President Jonathan is a testament that Nigeria is better than what the world would like to think about the country. Nigeria is not necessarily out of the woods; therefore she cannot afford to sit on her laurels but to increasingly build on this for free and fair April election.

There is an American adage, “follow the money” and investors have proven with their resources and money that Nigeria is safe for investment.  The Nigerian stocks were on fire after the successful nomination of President Jonathan. There were no riots, no ethnic and religious conflagrations. The winners and losers shook hands and go home. Many investors were happy with the outcome of the convention. They realized that there is a continuation and that their investments are safe and protected. Therefore investors showed a resounding approval by investing more and sending in more money.

Lead Image

President  Goodluck Jonathan, addressing delegates at the PDP national convention in Abuja with vice president Namadi Sambo. Photo: NAN

Due to the political stability that followed PDP convention, Nigerian Stock Exchange rose to eight-month high. The international news network, Bloomberg reported that: “Nigerian stocks, the world’s best performers this year, rose to an eight-month high as President Goodluck Jonathan won the ruling party’s nomination to compete in an election this year, easing concern that infighting would destabilize the nation.” This is good news for Nigeria and moment of triumph over cynicism and mischaracterization of Nigeria’s situation.  There are good people in Nigeria, the silent majority that are committed in building a good country.

“ The 215-member Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index added 0.9 percent to close at 27,267.17 by 2:30 p.m. in Lagos, according to an e-mailed statement from the bourse, the highest since May 19. The measure has gained 10 percent this year, making it the best-performing equity index among 91 tracked by Bloomberg. Nigeria Breweries Plc, the second-biggest company by market value, led gains, surging 5 percent to 91.43 naira, the highest since 2002.”

Nigeria has been seen as hopeless, dissected and balkanized in the minds of those that want the country to fall apart and to be label a failed state. Nigeria was type casted as a nation divided by religion and region but that is not the whole story about Nigeria. Most Nigerians live together in peace; co-existing with each other and working together.  Now in Nigeria a citizen respective of religion, region or creed can become a Nigerian president and that is the good news. But nobody is denying the problems of the country but a small but important leap was made with peaceful convention and nomination of President Jonathan.

The business community is looking for a place to grow their money with appreciate able returns. Nigeria is gradually taking a minimal but a significant step; rising to the occasion, demonstrating to friends and foes and most importantly to herself that she can grow up. The global business is now seeing Nigeria, as an emerging nation with a good prospect and a safe place to invest.

 

A sign of growing Chinese presence in Nigeria and Africa

It was just a matter of time before Chinese currency Yuan will join the family of currencies traded in Nigeria’s foreign exchange market. Therefore it was no surprise when Nigeria's central bank made it official that Chinese Yuan has been included “to a list of currencies that can be used for trade settlement in the domestic foreign exchange market as trade flows with Beijing increase.”

Chinese Yuan will join other 13 currencies including the U.S. dollar, Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen that are traded in Nigeria’s domestic foreign exchange market. Many other countries including Russia, Turkey, South Africa's Standard Bank and now Nigeria are offering Yuan for bilateral exchange and trade in their local respective markets.

Apart from China’s encouragement to trading partners to employ the use of Yuan for trade transactions and settlements in the local exchange market; it does make sense at this point in time for Nigeria to make the strategic move of expanding the number of currencies in the domestic exchange market with latest inclusion of Yuan.  For China has become a major trading partner with Nigeria, the second largest economy in Africa.

China growing bilateral relationship with Nigeria is progressively stronger, a testament to a successful strategic partnership.  The increasing level of trade and investments between the countries are growing tremendously. According to Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria H.E Mr. Deng Boqing, “The volume of trade between Nigeria and China recorded a significant improvement, rising by 41.8 per cent to N540 billion ($3.67 billion) in the first half of 2010. The trade volume between the two countries grew by nearly 300 per cent since 2004 and reached the peak of $7.2 billion in 2008.”

China with over $2 trillion foreign reserve is making her presence felt heavily in Nigeria. The flowing in of Chinese money and investments in Nigeria is staggering, if not mind bugling.  Short while ago, China signed a $23 billion ‘sunshine deal’ to build four major oil refineries in Nigeria. While in July of 2010 China also signed another business deal to build $6 billion oil refinery in Lagos. It was also recorded that China direct investments in Nigeria has exceeded $7 billion and China is also committing $20 billion investments on Nigeria’s infrastructures. Recently China Export-Import Bank signed $900 million loan with Nigeria.

China is a significant player in Nigeria’s economic landscape with the numerous investments and deals in the country; she has garnered a great deal of respect in Nigeria. China has truly proven to herself and to Nigeria that she is committed partner in country’s development for a long term. In return China needs natural resources especially oil from the oil-rich Nigeria for fueling her economic expansion and feeding the mountainous appetite of her local industries.

With level of China’s contributions to Nigeria’s bulging economy, it is not really a big deal after all for Nigeria to trade Chinese Yuan in the domestic foreign exchange market.

Strategic significance

On part of China there will be a growing confidence of their presence in Africa and Nigeria in particular. China can flex its financial and economic power in Nigeria and the admission of Chinese Yuan in domestic currency market shows that China is a significant player in Africa. Although the presence of Yuan and other currencies in Nigeria’s market will decrease the demanding pressure on dollar, the principal trading currency in the market.

The point must be that dollar will not be displaced in the market by any other currency in the Nigeria’s domestic foreign exchange market. Dollar continues to be the dominant currency due to its value, universal acceptance and in its surging demand by the local banks and business community of Nigeria.

The volume of Yuan at initial stage maybe small, but progressively it will get bigger because the presence of China with regards to trade and investments will drive the demand for Yuan. The Nigerian local business communities are grateful of the arrival of Yuan in the market for they do not have to buy other currency first and convert it to Yuan later.

Chinese Yuan presence in the baskets of currencies used for transactions in the local African markets will continue to increase. The massive economic presence of China in Africa will continue to mature and enhance as Africa leverage the economic bilateral relationship with China to develop her economy.

 

 

 

Nigeria is steadily but gradually accumulating foreign debts

Nigeria is leveraging her good credit standing for massive and staggering borrowings.  The dizzying amount of money that numbers in billions of dollars will be flowing into Nigeria’s coffers. Nigerian government has confirmed that it secured a $900 million loan from China after she signed the loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China. The China loan was part of the larger borrowing package of $1.54 billion approved by Nigerian Senate. The remainder of the borrowings of $152.2 million and $170 million will be coming from World Bank and French Development Agency respectively. Then comes the $500 million Euro-bond expected to be traded on the EU capital market and the borrowing continues.

The $500 million Eurobond was slated to go to European capital market December 2010, but according to Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), “Given the rumblings in the euro zone over the past few weeks ... we have considered it important to watch carefully over the next couple of weeks and as soon as possible make the offer.”

“The $500 million Eurobond is the commercial portion of the $3.702 billion foreign loans from different sources, as part of the $5.3 billion peg placed on external borrowing by the National Assembly, out of which approval had earlier being granted for $2.4 billion. The loan to be secured on concessionary terms and with a repayment period of between 20 and 40 years by the Abuja would also have a moratorium of seven to 10 years and is for use to address major infrastructure gaps across the country.”

In October 2010, Reuters reported that Nigeria auctioned 123 billion naira in sovereign bonds: "Nigeria sold 122.93 billion naira ($820 million) in 20-year, 7-year and 3-year sovereign bonds at its tenth debt auction of the year, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Thursday. Sub-Saharan Africa's number 2 economy sold 58.76 billion naira in the 20-year, 37.50 billion naira in the 7-year and 26.67 billion naira in the 3-year instruments at Wednesday's auction. All the instruments are re-openings of previous issues, the debt office said in a statement."

According to Nigerian government, the borrowed money will be utilized for revitalizing and upgrading Nigerian dilapidated infrastructures.  Minister of Finance Olusegun Aganga, confirmed during a press conference that $900 million loan from China will be utilized for the “construction of a $500-million railway linking the capital to the northern city of Kaduna and a $400-million public security communications project.”

What's going on?

Even with Nigerian economic growth of 7.8 percent in 2010, Nigerian credit rating was downgraded to BB-, by an international ratings agency, Fitch Ratings. The rating of BB-minus was three levels beneath investment grade because Nigeria continued to withdraw excessively from its crude account. But even with the excessive withdrawal, Nigeria’s appetite for borrowing was not satiated.

Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director-General  (DMO)

Nigeria with her bold and can-do attitude of borrowing begs for some explanations.  Nigeria has a documented history of mismanagement and corruption. It might be easy to borrow massively and piled the debt on poor Nigerians in the name of fixing and providing infrastructures. But it may not be easy to pay back the loans. Where is the assurance that all these funds will be efficiently allocated and used appropriately for the planned projects?

The Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga and DMO chief, Arthur Nwankwo were quick to say that Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio that stood at 13.8 percent has not exceeded the international permissible benchmark for third world countries.

Nwankwo, his words, “The international benchmark requires that countries in our group do not exceed a debt to GDP ratio of 45 per cent, which means that we are at a very comfortable level… After exiting the Paris Club, we have maintained prudence and restraint in ensuring we do not go back to the dark days, “we are under pressure to mobilize funds for infrastructure deficit.” While it was reported in the news that Aganga said, “Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio which currently stands at 16.6 percent is low compared to the internationally acceptable benchmark of 40 percent for developing countries.”

Minister of Finance, Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga

The so-called international acceptable benchmark needs more explanation to Nigerian people, while one person is saying 40 percent, another is saying 45 percent. Apart from the numeric inconsistencies, the international body that set the standard does not have the final say on what Nigeria will do to protect herself from financial crisis. The Euro zone has their deficits and debts ratios-to-GDP benchmarks. Nigerians and Africans are busy quoting some international standard without making any initiative to come up with their standards and benchmarks. When Nigeria falls again into higher debt trap and inflation, there will be no international body to bail Nigeria out.

The Nigerian financial managers and leaders especially the Minister Finance and DMO should take some responsibilities and stop quoting the so-called international standard. Nigerians would like to hear those in authorities say that the borrowed money will be properly utilized with accountability and probity.

In spite of the so-called international permissible benchmark, the increasing borrowing by the government is giving a serious concern to so many Nigerians. The elite and ruling class might not lose sleepless nights but the average Nigerians are worried that borrowed money might not be utilized for the proposed projects. And their concerns are rooted in history of mismanagement of erstwhile loans of yesteryears.

When these resources are prudently invested and the projects intended are efficiently completed especially the electricity project, it will enable Nigerian economic growth to amplify and highly appreciated. But when resources and funds are mismanaged the Nigerian people will be laden with a heavy yoke and sadden with massive debt.

Nigerians do not want history to repeat itself, which is going back to the gloomy days of payment of monstrous foreign debts. When Nigeria settled her debts from Paris and London clubs, her citizens cheered on the development. Nigerians are not ready for IMF austerity measures and servicing of unending foreign loans with its unending arrears and malleable interest rates.

 

 

Published in Archive

South Africa becomes BRIC member

The South African Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that her country has received a formal invitation to join BRIC,  reported by the news agency AFP. The  BRIC -  Brazil, Russia, India and China are group of emerging nations with large and dominating economies in their own corners of the world. The BRIC nations have influencing economic power in each of their economic blocks.  For a while the economic experts have been speculating and forecasting that Nigeria will be the first country in Africa to make it to BRIC because of her size and future economic growth.

While Nigeria was sitting down occupied with lethargy and internal politics, South Africa as usual was busy lobbying for a membership into the league of the largest emerging economies BRIC.  Now South Africa has made it and has become the first and only African country that has made into the advantageous and prestigious economic group.  Nigeria’s finance minister, Olusegun Aganga has just dropped the ball this time and has shown lack of leadership in this issue. Aganga is a respected voice in the financial world, and should have used his influence and prestige to lobby for his country.  Africa should be proud of South Africa for trying to better her country but Nigeria must also catalyze her economic progress by getting involved and not waiting for things to be handed to her. Nigeria must be proactive and must make the intrinsic initiative to lead and to get involved.

Leaders of the BRIC countries--Brazil, Russia, India and China

South Africa is also a member of G20, the only Africa nation in the group. Nigeria is not admitted to G20 and cannot make it to BRIC nation membership. Being a participating member of this important groups can be good thing because it shows that the country is matured and respected to make it to those bodies. Moreover, significant strategic, economic and financial decisions are made in those meetings. A nation absent cannot be fully represent her interest and aspirations in the globalized economy. The participation can become a confidence booster that enable other countries to accept each other, therefore making more trading and investments possible.

"Chinese President Hu Jintao also issued a letter of invitation to (South African) President Jacob Zuma to attend the third BRICS leaders' summit, to be held in China in the first quarter of 2011. China in its capacity as rotating chairperson of the BRIC formation, based on agreement reached by the BRIC member states, invites South Africa as a full member into what will in future be called BRICS”  according to SA Foreign Minister  Nkoana-Mashabane .

“The BRIC countries are not formally linked but have held summits and taken steps to boost financial cooperation and investment opportunities among them. The group held its first formal summit in Russia last year. She said she received a phone call on Thursday from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi informing her of the invitation to join the group, whose current members will account for 61 percent of global growth in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund.”

Jim O’Neill, Chairman Goldman Sachs Asset Management, misread the tea leaf that South Africa will not be accepted into BRIC because of her relatively small population of 50 million comparing to Nigeria’s 150 million. But population is not everything as it has been proven with the entrance of South Africa into BRIC. South Africa is the largest and most developed economy in Africa. With relatively less corruption and with strong democratic standing coupled with durable civil and social infrastructures makes her attractive to BRIC. Nigeria will not only rely on her population as the only factor to be recognized as an emerging power, she must work aggressively to develop a disciplined and diversified economy.

Prior to this development, Kingsley Ighomwenghian of Agency Report, commenting on South Africa and Nigeria membership quest in BRIC, wrote: “The BRICs are some of the world’s fastest growing economies, to which according to Reuters, quoting Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, South Africa had “applied” to join in. Others eager to join the club include Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia, which investors typically eye as possible additions to the BRICs, having grabbed a chunk of emerging market investment in recent years due to their scale, growth and impact on the global economy. “

Nigeria has been favored over South Africa because of her large population and her bulging GDP. Nigerian economy has been growing at about annual rate of 7.8 percent and even expected to grow up to 10 percent with the future upgrade and improvement of electricity. Razia Khan, an African research expert at Standard Chartered joined the debate by predicting that Nigeria’s economy may overtake and supersede South Africa’s by 2023 and “in the next five years, Nigeria will add another 23 million people and South Africa will add another 2.8 million.” Even with all the Nigeria’s advantage, the well organized South Africa made it to BRIC before her.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Archive
Thursday, 23 December 2010 02:15

Where to, Africa?

Look no further than Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Sudan and our own backyard to get a glimpse of what’s to come

Africa has often been compared to a gun, with Nigeria as its trigger. On closer inspection of the colonially inspired map, South Africa would be the muzzle, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the barrel, Algeria the grip, and Sudan the bottom of the hammer.

If Afro-pessimists often depict the continent as a powder keg, Afro-realists recognise that the fate of these five countries will largely determine Africa's future. South Africa is the continent's largest economy, Nigeria its most populous nation, and Sudan, Algeria and the DRC its three geographically largest countries.

The five states are collectively rich in oil, gas, gold, copper and cobalt. And it is on these five pillars that our continent's future will rest. The national and regional leadership of these countries, their capacity to promote stability (or instability) and economic integration in their respective sub-regions, and the "crisis of youth" that afflicts them will all shape Africa's future.

South Africa

South Africa's first two post-apartheid presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, both attended Christian missionary schools and are Anglophile Xhosas who greatly admired British culture and institutions. But, where Mandela ruled like a patriarch, leaving policy details to his lieutenants, Mbeki was a policy wonk who revelled in the mechanics of governance. Where Mandela was charismatic and popular among the masses, Mbeki relied on political manoeuvring within the ANC.

During Mandela's presidency between 1994 and 1999, South Africa largely shunned a military role in Southern Africa for fear of arousing charges of hegemonic domination based on a sordid apartheid history of destabilisation.

Under Mbeki, South Africa led peacemaking efforts in the Congo, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire. South African firms also fanned out across the continent to establish interests in mining, banking, retail, communications, arms and insurance. The country has been the largest single investor in the rest of Africa in recent years, and accounts for 80% of Southern Africa's economic might. South Africa must thus lead integration efforts within the Southern African Development Community.

In the area of youth, the country's commentariat has spilled much ink on the petulant behaviour of ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, whose organisation has traditionally played the role of king maker and will be closely watched at the next ANC leadership conference in 2012.

Nigeria

Nigeria has often been described as the "Giant of Africa" on account of its population of 140-million and large economic and human resources. The country is the world's sixth largest oil producer, a large exporter of gas and accounts for 75% of West Africa's economic strength.

But Nigeria has been dogged by massive corruption and visionless leadership. Elections in April 2011 must avoid the fraudulent practices of the past if West Africa is to achieve stability. Pax Nigeriana admirably led peacekeeping efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s and must continue to promote regional integration through the Economic Community of West African States.

But Nigeria's ability to continue to bankroll Ecowas and subregional peacekeeping has recently come under strain. Governance challenges also continue to bedevil West Africa's Gulliver and it is unclear whether Nigeria will be a source of stability or instability in future.

Nigeria's "crisis of youth" is evidenced by the armed militants in its oil-producing Niger Delta who have shut down a quarter of the country's oil production and engaged in increasingly wanton acts of domestic terrorism.

Sudan

Sudan, Africa's geographically largest state with nine neighbours, is a microcosm of the continent's Afro-Arab diversity. But the country has been embroiled for five decades in a seemingly endless series of civil conflicts.

At the core of these crises lies a northern Sudanese elite, who sees itself as Arab and has, in recent times, adopted a jihadist ideology that has sought forcibly to Islamise other populations and subjugate them politically, militarily, culturally and economically. The simultaneous Islamisation and militarisation of society is reflected the military-religious alliance that seized power under General Omar al-Bashir in 1989.

Even as the war in South Sudan continued, rebellions also erupted over the government's oppressive policies in Darfur, southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Khartoum's atrocities against its own citizens included al-Bashir's jihad against the south in which at least 500000 people died. In the volatile Darfur region, about 300000 people have died since 2003.

A referendum next month will give the oil-rich south the chance to secede, which it is expected to seize, creating only the second new state in post-independence Africa since Eritrea in 1993. Unless cooperation between north and south is established, the potential of this conflict destabilising Eastern, Central and North Africa is extremely high.

Sudan's "crisis of youth" stems from the rebellions that have used young people to wage war, and two generations of Sudanese have lived with conflict amid a massive proliferation of arms.

The similarities between Sudan and another large former British territory, Nigeria, are striking. Nigeria also has a largely Muslim north and largely Christian and traditional south, which were ruled separately under colonialism. Christian missionaries were excluded from both northern Sudan and northern Nigeria.

The British Raj left the north of both countries with built-in political advantages. In both cases, the political systems of the newly born states soon collapsed into civil war under the weight of their historical contradictions. Sudanese politicians' use of murderous militias in Darfur and other provinces mirrors Nigerian politicians' use of militias in the volatile oil-producing Niger Delta - in both cases, cynical pseudo-scientists have created Frankenstein monsters that spiral out of their control and develop an independent life of their own.

In both Sudan and Nigeria, military messiahs and profligate politicians have squabbled over the spoils of office, using political power to acquire personal wealth, with the corruption fuelled by the discovery of oil. Ruling parties in both countries are effectively conglomerations of opportunistic local barons and godfathers with no ideological glue besides their incredible greed and lust for power seemingly holding them together.

The DRC

Meanwhile, Africa's Great Lakes have become infested with ethnic crocodiles of the genocidal species. The conflict in the DRC since 1998 involved seven foreign armies and a myriad militias and mercenaries in a state that was destroyed by the kleptocratic 31-year misrule of the Western-backed Mobutu Sese Seko.

Mobutu sought to play the role of peacemaker in Angola in the 1980s despite having supported the psychopathic warlord, Jonas Savimbi, for more than a decade. About three million people have died in the DRC in the past 12 years.

A United Nations mission in the DRC has helped to stabilise the country (as the world body had done between 1960 and 1964), though instability continues in Orientale and Kivu provinces. But the potential of the Congo - based on its size, strategic location and natural resources - to play a leadership role in the Great Lakes region, as Nigeria has done in West Africa and South Africa in Burundi and the DRC, has been diminished by the state's decay into a carcass on which neighbouring vultures such as Uganda and Rwanda have feasted.

The Economic Community of Central African States has thus been unable to promote economic integration effectively, and the DRC joined SADC in 1997 instead of leading its own Central African subregion.

The DRC has also suffered a "lost generation" of youths used as cannon fodder by ruthless warlords. Nevertheless, the country's first election in 40 years in 2006 has brought some stability to large parts of the DRC. It, like Sudan, borders nine states, and peace on the continent will depend on stability in this huge country at the heart of Africa.

Algeria

In North Africa, oil- and gas-rich Algeria has been prevented from assuming its role as the natural hegemon of the Maghreb because of a bloody civil war after its military annulled democratic elections that Islamists were poised to win in 1991, resulting in more than 100000 deaths. An estimated 70% of Algeria's population is now under 30 years old and the future will belong to its youth.

Algeria's septuagenarian leader, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has been dogged by reports of ill health and fraudulent elections, and many of his military supporters also represent an older generation.

Despite its domestic strife, Algeria has been an active peacemaker, hosting the end of the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict in 2000. But the Arab Maghreb Union, created in 1989 to promote economic cooperation in North Africa, has become dormant because of the continuing friction in bilateral relations between Algeria and Morocco, particularly after the latter stole the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1975, a theft condoned today by the United States and France.

Where to from here?

Africa's five pillars face enormous challenges in achieving durable peace and promoting economic integration on the continent. Though the decision to freeze the map of the continent in the 1960s may have been wise in a sovereignty-obsessed era of insecure, unconsolidated states, today's generation of Africans must muster the ingenuity to craft new regional arrangements centred around our five Gullivers.

Federations and regional trade blocs must be negotiated and territorial boundaries agreed on that in the long term better reflect the political, socioeconomic and cultural realities of a vast continent of 800-million citizens.

After detailed planning, African leaders and civil society activists must proceed to the ancient empire of Ethiopia - the seat of African diplomacy - and reverse the scandalous act of cartographic mischief inflicted by European statesmen who set the rules for carving up the continent at the Conference of Berlin 125 years ago.

Dr Adekeye Adebajo is the executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, and the author of The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War (2010)

Source: Mail & Guardian Online

Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-12-23-where-to-africa


 

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People's Democratic Party (PDP) has confirmed  that it would hold presidential primaries on Jan. 13 ahead of nationwide elections in April.

The PDP primaries for state governorship elections will be held on January 9, the party said in a statement issued by the ruling party in Nigeria, PDP.

 

Mr. Nwodo, Chairman PDP

The Associated Press writes that "Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian southerner, is a favorite for the nomination. But his bid challenges an unwritten party agreement that favors the nomination of a Muslim northerner as the PDP's presidential candidate in 2011.A committee of northern political leaders has already chosen a "consensus" candidate to take on Jonathan." The northern consensus candidate was the former vice president of Nigeria - Abubakar Atiku

BBC reported that "A group of Nigeria's powerful governors have said they will back President Goodluck Jonathan for next year's elections - seen as a major boost to his campaign. Half of the 36 governors backed Mr Jonathan's bid to be selected as the ruling party's candidate.Whoever wins the PDP nomination will be the favourite for the April 2011 poll."

 

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A Nigerian from Abia State becomes a Polish lawmaker

Hon. John Godson being sworn in

John Abraham Godson (Chikama Onyekwere) made history few days ago to become the first black person to become an honorable member of Polish National House of Parliament. John Godson was born in Abia State, Nigeria and migrated to Poland seventeen years ago. He became a citizen of Poland ten years; he will replace Hanna Zdanowska of Civic Platform, who was elected mayor of Lodz on the election that took place on Sunday.

“In the last local government and council elections on 21 November, Godson received Lodz’s second-choice vote from the Civic Platform list, gaining a place on the city’s municipal council. He was first elected to the Lodz city council in 2008.”

Godson a popular and highly educated man with many advance degrees is presently serving as a councilman in the central city of Lodz, before becoming a member of national parliament. Speaking with Polish Radio Lodz, he reminded his constituency at home in Lodz, that at Warsaw he will not relent in the promotion of his city Lodz. He promised to commute to Warsaw during his tenure and will continue to live in Lodz, saying: “I am from Lodz, I will live here, I want to die here and I want to be buried here.”

Godso's family

Godson promised to improve his constituency at Lodz with a bold and detailed policy agenda including rebuilding of the infrastructures and making broadband internet more accessible. He also promised to improve diplomatic relations with African countries.

“John Godson came to Poland in the first half of the 1990s and received Polish citizenship in 2000. He is a graduate of the Department of Agronomy at Abia State University in Nigeria and also holds a doctorate in human resource management. Godson continues to lecture at a number of universities throughout Poland.   Godson is also the president of the African Institute in Poland as well as a pastor of the Church of God in Christ, a Christian Pentecostal church active in Poland.”

The 40 years John Abraham Godson is married with children.

Wybory Parliament 2007

 

pictures from Godson's website

 

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Running for mayor this time maybe a different story

Former US Senator Carol Moseley Braun who lost her re-election due to her visit to former Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, is running for a new position. Carol Moseley Braun, the first black female US senator is gearing and getting ready for Chicago mayoral bid."The 63-year-old former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand said that she hopes to raise $2 million for her mayoral campaign. She recently hired Mike Noonan, a former political aide to powerful Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), as her campaign manager and appointed Victor Reyes, a co-founder of the city’s Hispanic Democratic organization and close ally of Mayor Richard Daley, as a senior adviser."

Carol Moseley Braun, the only and first black elected senator in America "may try to recapture the breath-of-fresh-air enthusiasm that carried her to the Senate in 1992. But if she hopes to succeed retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has led the country's third largest city for more than two decades, Braun will have to explain the miscues and embarrassing revelations that limited her to a single term — including a visit with a brutal Nigerian dictator — and overcome her years-long absence from public service."

"A former assistant U.S. attorney and state lawmaker, Braun was a relatively anonymous figure holding a relatively anonymous job — Cook County recorder of deeds — when she won a stunning Democratic primary victory over U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon in 1992. She went on to best little-known Republican Rich Williamson in the general election. Within months, Braun had a Mr. Smith-Goes-To-Washington moment: She stared down conservative North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, angrily promising to stand on the floor of the Senate "until this room freezes over" to stop the chamber from granting a patent on the United Daughters of the Confederacy insignia, which featured a Confederate flag. When it was over, 23 senators who'd voted in favor of the patent changed their votes, and the patent — routinely approved in the past — was denied.

That victory, however, was eventually overshadowed by criticism of Braun. She was excoriated by human rights activists when she met Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, who'd been accused of human rights abuses, during a 1996 trip to Africa with her then-boyfriend. To make matters worse, Braun did not alert the State Department to her visit Braun explained she was traveling to Nigeria for a friend's funeral, and simply did not think to contact the State Department or tell the media, suggesting that she was the victim of a double standard."

The former Senator Braun did eventually lost her relection bid and Nigerian community in Chicago did not support her for relection. Many in Nigerian community in Chicago even supported her opponent and campaign against her on the ground that she was not supporting democracy in Nigeria. This time around everybody will be keen to see how she go about getting back her lost momentum of the past years before she was stopped by her controversial visit to Nigeria's dictator.

 

 

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