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Monday, 27 September 2010 13:06

ADDRESS BY PROF. ATTAHIRU JEGA, INEC CHAIRMAN

Appeal to the National Assembly to extend the ElectionTime Table

ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PROF. ATTAHIRU JEGA, OFR TO THE MEDIA ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

In the recent past, the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver a fresh Voter’s Register for the 2011 elections and to conduct the elections proper within the timeframe established by the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 has dominated discussions in official circles, the development community, the mass media and the general public. INEC is not oblivious of the genuine concerns being expressed, yet the Commission also sees these discussions as an indication of the continued public goodwill towards the Commission in this collective task of delivering free, fair and credible elections in 2011 and beyond.

In my maiden Press Conference on July 22, 2010, I stated the two most immediate challenges facing the Commission, having decided that the existing Voter’s Register is inadequate to support the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, and hence the urgent need to compile a fresh one. These challenges were availability of funds and the limited time within which the Commission has to conduct the voter registration exercise and elections. I also emphasized at that conference that the possibility of compiling the new Voter’s Register rests largely on meeting the following timelines:

 

Deliverables Timelines

(i)     Identification of equipment suppliers Early August 2010

 

(ii)   Award of contract Early August 2010

 

(iii)     Delivery of 15,000 units of equipment for training Early September 2010

 

(iv)      Delivery of balance of equipment for registration exercise Mid October 2010

 

(v)        Training Early to  Mid September 2010

 

(vi)       Completion of deployment of equipment to polling units Mid October 2010

 

(vii)       Registration exercise Late Oct. – Early Nov. 2010

 

(viii)       Printing of Voters’ Register for display Early November 2010

 

(ix)        Display of Voters’ Register Mid November 2010

 

(x)   Verification, correction and certification Mid Nov. – Early Dec. 2010

 

It has since become clear that due to a combination of legal, administrative and practical reasons, among them delays in bringing the new electoral legal framework into operation, we have missed some of these timelines by up to one month. Fortunately, the major issue of funding has been settled with the passage of the supplementary appropriation by the National Assembly and the agreement we reached with the Federal Ministry of Finance on a schedule for releasing the funds. I wish to express the appreciation of the Commission to both the Executive and Legislative arms of government for their abiding support and tireless efforts in this regard.

But the challenge of time persists. As a Commission, we have repeatedly insisted that we shall work within the existing legal framework as contained in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act 2010. We have also consistently said that the more time we have, the better the outcome of both the registration of voters and the 2011 elections. These positions have been informed by at least two considerations, which answer the much-asked question why we had not pushed decisively on the issue of time before now:

First, it is not the Constitutional responsibility of INEC to establish or change the legal framework, including timelines for electoral activities. Consequently, to canvass change in the legal framework or Constitutional provisions on election dates would not only be inappropriate, but could open the Commission to public suspicion, given the well known recent electoral history of Nigeria.

Second, the question of fixing and changing election dates has been one of the major sore points of our electoral experience in Nigeria. The degree of partisanship that usually informs discussions of these issues is legendary. Consequently, we decided as a Commission that direct involvement in such debates could undermine the independence of INEC in the eye of the public.

Yet, we fully understand the position within the relevant arms of government that INEC is in the best position to indicate if it needs more time to carry out its Constitutional roles effectively. Certainly, he who wears the shoe should know exactly where it pinches and what is worth doing is worth doing well.

The foregoing clearly shows the dilemma that the Commission has been grappling with in the past few weeks. At a retreat of National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of INEC in Calabar from September 16 – 19, 2010, these issues were exhaustively discussed, weighing all the implications for the Commission, the electoral process and the Nigerian people.  That retreat resolved, among other things, to engage relevant stakeholders in consultations on this critical outstanding issue of constricting time frame. Indeed, this problem is not peculiar to INEC. As you are well aware, our consultation last week with the leadership of all the registered political parties clearly showed that it is a problem these critical players in the process also face.

I have already notified relevant political authorities of this development and we are profoundly encouraged by the patriotic response we are getting not only from political parties, but also from the general public. I must particularly place on record our profound appreciation of the resolve of the Legislature to urgently attend to this issue and, hopefully, find a way out within the ambit of the law. In addition, on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission, I would like to inform the relevant organs of government and the Nigerian public as follows:

1.     We wish to reiterate our belief that the conduct of free, fair and credible elections is the collective charge of all Nigerians, not just INEC.

2.     While we remain unflinching believers in the rule and sanctity of law, it is also clear that conducting free, fair and credible elections has become central to securing the future of Nigeria as a nation. Given that the Constitution and Electoral Act must remain sacrosanct, still there is no point in delivering an electoral process the outcome of which will again be controversial and incredible.

3.     We appeal to the National Assembly, as it reconvenes from recess, to explore all possible ways within the ambit of the law to extend the time available to INEC to conduct the voter registration exercise and the 2011 elections. We also restate that should this happen, the May 29 inauguration date must remain sacrosanct.

4.     We request all stakeholders and the wider Nigerian public to support the relevant organs of government in taking appropriate steps to adjust the existing timeframe, so that INEC could give strong guarantees on delivering a flawless Voters’ Register as well as free, fair and credible elections in 2011. Specifically, it is no time for the blame game or politicization of this crucial phase of our experience as a nation.

In conclusion, we, as a Commission, remain humbled by the enormous goodwill and understanding extended to us by civil society organizations, government officials, development partners, political parties, professional associations, labour organizations, the mass media and the general public in the past two months, in spite of their genuine concerns about the electoral timelines. We look forward to their continued support in the months ahead.

Thank you.

Professor Attahiru Jega, OFR

 

Chairman of INEC

 

Sunday, 19 September 2010 14:26

PRESIDENT JONATHAN FOR NIGERIA

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN DECLARING HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE PDP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES

Forty months ago my predecessor in office and I embarked on a joint ticket in the governance of our great country, Nigeria. Sadly, he passed away on the 5th of May 2010.

MAY HIS GENTLE SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE, AMEN.

With the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, the mantle of leadership of our great nation fell on me. However, the days leading to my presidency were very trying times for our nation. We confronted those moments and their challenges to national security with patriotism and care. I appreciate the role played by the National Assembly, Governors, Civil Society groups, the mass media, and other patriotic Nigerians.

The late President Yar'Adua and I shared great dreams for our country. We toiled together to realize those dreams in order to justify the confidence Nigerians reposed in us. Together we swore to execute a joint mandate and today I come before you to make a pronouncement based on that undertaking.

The past four months that I have served as President of Nigeria have opened my eyes to the vast potentials of this office as a potent instrument for the transformation of our country. I discovered that by sheer willpower, I could end the long queues and price fluctuations in our petrol stations. Today, all our refineries are working, saving us huge amounts of funds spent on importation of petroleum products.

I discovered that by insisting that the right things be done, we could begin a turnaround in our power sector by involving the private sector in power generation and distribution. As you can see from the lower quantities of diesel that you are buying today, power generation has significantly improved.

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

I have put in place new gas policies and very soon, we will be saying goodbye to gas flaring in our oil fields. Working with the National Assembly, we rolled out a law that requires companies operating in the oil and gas sectors of our economy to utilize an appreciable percentage of their goods and services from local sources. We saw to it that normalcy began to return to the Niger Delta by ensuring government's fidelity to its promises, and this has helped to stabilize our national revenue.

In the last few months, I embarked on monumental projects in our road infrastructure to end the carnage on our federal highways. I began several projects to make our water resources available for drinking and farming. I targeted our educational system to return quality and competitiveness to them. I re-addressed our drive for self-sufficiency in food production. I have taken bold steps to confront our security situation. In this regard, we are pursuing the revision of our laws to be more responsive to international conventions and more punitive to criminals.

I set the stage for free and fair elections by constituting an electoral commission comprising of Nigerians with impeccable credentials for firmness and incorruptibility. I charged our anti-corruption agencies to speed up the war against corruption, and respect no sacred cows in the process. In the management of the economy, I advocated a more transparent banking industry, price stability, low inflation, and aggregate increase in productivity as a way to drive us to a more prosperous economy. In International Relations, I advanced the respectability accorded our country by effective engagement in global fora.

From the moment I was sworn in as President, I came under intense pressure to make a declaration concerning my political future, but declined to do so because it would have immediately distracted us from all the development initiatives we have accomplished so far.

As President and leader of this government, I decided not to place partisan politics above the immediate needs and priorities of our people. I therefore told Nigerians to give me time to concentrate on my work, and that at the appropriate time; I would make a public statement on my political future after widespree consultations have now been concluded. The Independent National Electoral Commission has recently announced a time table for the 2011 general elections in the country. My party, the People’s Democratic Party, has also published a timetable for its primaries.

In the circumstances and after a thorough self-examination and prayers with my family, I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan have decided to humbly offer myself as a candidate in the Presidential Primaries of our great party, the People’s Democratic Party, in order to stand for the 2011 Presidential elections. I pledge once again to all the people of this nation that they will have a free and fair election, even as I stand to be a candidate. In this race, I have the honour to have as my running mate, Architect Namadi Sambo, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Our country is at the threshold of a new era; an era that beckons for a new kind of leadership; a leadership that is uncontaminated by the prejudices of the past; a leadership committed to change; a leadership that reinvents government, to solve the everyday problems that confront the average Nigerian.

I was not born rich, and in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up. Not once did I imagine that a child from Otuoke, a small village in the Niger Delta, will one day rise to the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was raised by my mother and father with just enough money to meet our daily needs.

In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired; no car to take me to school but I never despaired. There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired. I walked miles and crossed rivers to school every day but I never despaired. Didn't have power, didn’t have generators, studied with lanterns but I never despaired.

In spite of these, I finished secondary school, attended the University of Port Harcourt, and now hold a doctorate degree.

Fellow Nigerians, if I could make it, you too can make it!

My story is the story of a young Nigerian whose access to education opened up vast opportunities that enabled me to attain my present position. As I travel up and down our country, I see a nation blessed by God with rich agricultural and mineral resources and an enterprising people. I see millions of Nigerians whose potentials for greatness are constrained by the lack of basic infrastructure.

I see Nigerians who can make a difference in the service of their country but are disadvantaged by the lack of opportunities.

My story symbolizes my dream for Nigeria. The dream that any Nigerian child from Kaura- Namoda to Duke town; from Potiskum to Nsukka, from Isale-Eko to Gboko will be able to realize his God-given potentials, unhindered by tribe or religion and unrestricted by improvised political inhibitions. My story holds out the promise of a new Nigeria. A Nigeria built on the virtues of love and respect for one another, on unity, on industry, on hardwork and on good governance.

My fellow Nigerians, this is what has brought me to Eagle Square today. I have come to say to all of you, that Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is the man you need to put Nigeria right. I have come to launch a campaign of ideas, not one of calumny. I have come to preach love, not hate. I have come to break you away from divisive tendencies of the past which have slowed our drive to true nationhood. I have no enemies to fight. You are all my friends and we share a common destiny.

Let the word go out from this Eagle Square that Jonathan as President in 2011 will herald a new era of transformation of our country; an era that will end the agony of power shortage in our country. Let the word go out from here that I will be for the students, teachers and parents of Nigeria, a President who will advance quality and competitive education. Let everyone in this country hear that I shall strive to the best of my ability to attain self-sufficiency in food production.

Let the word go out that my plans for a Sovereign Wealth Fund with an initial capital of $1billion will begin the journey for an economic restoration. This restoration will provide new job opportunities and alleviate poverty. Let the word go out that our health sector will receive maximum priority in a new Jonathan administration, a priority that will ensure maximum health care and stop our brain drain.

Let all the kidnappers, criminal elements, and miscreants that give us a bad name be ready for the fight that I shall give them. Let the ordinary Nigerian be assured that President Jonathan will have zero tolerance for corruption. Let the international community hear that today I have offered myself to lead a country that will engage them in mutual respect and cooperation for the achievement of international peace and understanding.

To help me in these tasks effectively, I will re-train, revamp, and motivate the civil service.

My dear good people of Nigeria, I got here today by the power of God and the support of all Nigerians; all ethnic groups, North, South, East and West. I am here today because of your support and prayers. I want all of you to know that I am one of you and I will never let you down! I want you to know that I will keep hope alive; I want you to know that your time has come.

I stand before you today, humbly seeking your support for me, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, to run for the office of the President of Nigeria with Architect Namadi Sambo as my running mate.

We will fight for JUSTICE!

We will fight for all Nigerians to have access to POWER!

We will fight for qualitative and competitive EDUCATION!

We will fight for HEALTH CARE REFORMS!

We will fight to create jobs, for all Nigerians!

We will fight corruption!

We will fight to protect all Citizens!

We will fight for your rights!

My dear country men and women, give me your support, give me your votes and together we will fight to build a great nation of our dreams!

I cannot end this speech without thanking you all for attending this occasion. Your huge attendance is a loud testimony of your support for us. For this I am very grateful. I pray that the Almighty God abides with you and sees you safely back to your respective destinations.

When you return, tell all those at home that as we celebrate our fifty years anniversary as a nation, Goodluck has come to transform Nigeria and I will never let you down. Thank You.

May God Bless you all!

And may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!

THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, DR. GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, ON THE OCCASION OF THE DECLARATION OF HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE PDP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES, 18TH SEPTEMBER, 2010.

 

Thursday, 09 September 2010 17:02

G20 Seoul Summit and Nigeria

Nigeria for permanent membership

In Seoul, capital city of South Korea the leaders of G20 nations will soon gather again for an important summit. G20 is powerful group of developed and emerging economies that dominate the global economic scene and have a lion share of 95 percent of the world economy. The fundamental purpose of the group is to stabilize the world economy. Without doubt G20 is the place to be and any important nation missing in the action will definitely felt the financial and economic ramifications.

Nigeria for all the encompassing reasons should have been the permanent member of the group. But due to her prior devastating ‎ political-economic structural imbalances she was inhibited from not making the membership at the inception of the group. Intrinsically, things are gradually but steadily changing in the country and Nigeria is making progress that must be appreciated. Democratic capitalism is taking holds in the country; the politics of military dictatorship has given away to democratic pluralism. Economic strangulation by collectivism and centralization has been reformed and economic opportunity is becoming reachable. Nigeria is heading towards a right direction but she is not yet home free.

Even with the accumulative progress Nigeria is still not invited as a permanent member as the “Twenty world leaders come together in Seoul this November to discuss the state of the global economy as it emerges from the financial crisis. Together, they will take the necessary steps to reduce market volatility and move past the crisis, creating sustainable growth going forward.”

The government of the President Goodluck Jonathan is steadily rising to the occasion of protection of lives and property. By no means one cannot  boast that Nigeria is a perfect nation. One thing for sure Nigeria as a nation has begun to make the serious decision and showing signs that she is willing to make changes -  to make life better and livable in the second largest economy in Africa and the most populous country in the continent.

President Goodluck Jonathan is making a progress that should be encouraged and nurtured. The government of Nigeria under his leadership is making practical plans to have a free and fair election in 2011. He is making effort in turning around paucity of energy in Nigerian industrial landscape. The major vulnerability of Nigeria’s economy is insufficient electric power supply which has hampered maximum economic output and industrialization. Recently, a large resource was set aside to revamp electric energy supply coupled with privatization proposal. We can say for sure that Nigeria is moving in the right direction.

The principal global economic powers especially United States and China are highly committed to financial global stabilization inorder to enhance trade and commerce with modest inflation and deficits. They should recognize the importance of Nigerian active participation on economic global scene as a full member of G20. Nigeria has a bulging GDP and is a major supplier of oil to US and China. Therefore Nigeria as an acceptable economic powerhouse can aid to stabilize Africa in general and the West Africa sub-region in particular.

Nigeria is making a substantial move to address her structural imbalances in the area of economics and politics; the admission into G20 will booster her confidence as she strives to better her Scio-economic and political standing in the world. Africa needs Nigeria to make it and a responsible and successful Nigeria, will impact positively to Africa.

Nigerian economy is growing steadily at 7.3 percent in second quarter of 2010 and is being projected to grow to 10 percent in 2011. The Nigerian GDP was about $207 Billion in 2008 and foreign debt-to-GDP ratio is estimated at about 3.1 percent. With a sustainable debt and one of lowest debt-to-GDP in the world, Nigeria is poise for tremendous growth in near future.

Nigeria does not necessarily have to lobby to be admitted to G20 but she must made her case to the august body and reminds everybody that a stable and economically growing Nigeria will contribute immensely to the stability of the global economy.

Most importantly, President Jonathan must be encouraged in his challenging goal to improve the lot of the country. The best thing that the rest of the great emerging powerful economies including China, India, Brazil and South Africa could do are to play a vital role in making the permanent membership of Nigeria to G20 possible.

Nigerian economy is growing at a fast pace. This year at the tail end of second quarter the economy is growing at the rate 7.3 percent compared to the global sluggish and anemic growth. “According to forecasts by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), global economic growth this year will be 4.6 percent compared to 3.4 percent forecasted by the organization earlier. In 2011, the OECD expects growth in the global economy at 4.5 percent compared to 3.7 percent projected earlier. Faster recovery of the global economy takes place at the expense of economic growth in Asia. In particular, China's GDP growth is projected at the level of 11.1 percent this year.

Econometric forecasting "provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global economic growth will amount to 4.2 percent this year.”  And Nigeria is projected to grow at 10 percent in 2010 and preceding year. This is keeping Nigeria in a good company of one of the fasted growing economies in the world.

For the concerted and coordinated global economic growth and financial stabilization, the G20 cannot afford to overlook the importance of Nigeria. As an emerging economy and leader in the continent of Africa, Nigeria is a resourceful nation. Nigeria needs a permanent seat at the table where economic decisions affecting Nigeria and Africa are made.

 

Sunday, 05 September 2010 05:24

New States Creation in Nigeria

Answer to the Institutional Inefficiency?

The critical factors in the failure of the modern African countries have been the inability of these nations to analyze institutional ills which maybe cultural, political, and economic. By locating contradictions in the solutions these problems have not been properly resolved because of the inefficiency of the ruling class. Most of these African nations operate systems and institutions that exist as a byproduct of colonial rule that were designed to create rivalries and distrust among groups. The structures in these countries do not encourage unity of purpose and allegiance to the native countries.

African countries including Nigeria have not successfully addressed these social ills and implemented a collective strategy that will identify and eradicate these contradictions and failed policies to benefit their countries. Nigeria still suffers from fundamental nation building issues such as wealth and resource distribution, poor infrastructure, ethnic and religious conflicts, and failed governing institutions.  How does a country like Nigeria that has one of the most educated citizens on the continent and in the world handle these institutional inefficiencies?  Is by creating more states? Already Nigeria has 36 poorly run states, therefore adding more states will not change anything. The creations of more states will not wash away our fundamental problems confronting our country.

The NationalAssembly has confirmed that ten new states will be created in Nigeria next year. Five states in the north, and five in the south. Some of the reasons for creating new states include religious conflict, dominant tribes oppressing weaker ones, and other groups wanting more control of the resources. All the 36 current states in Nigeria were created by military governments, and no state has been created under democracy due to the immense requirements. To create a new state in Nigeria requires massive consensus including:

*The state’s creation must be supported by at least two-thirds of members (representing the area demanding the state creation) in the Senate, House of Representatives, the House of Assembly and the local government councils.

*A referendum on the new state must be approved by two-thirds of the people in the area where the state is to be created.

*The result of the referendum is then approved by a majority of all the 36 states of Nigeria. And supported by majority of members of the House of Assembly.

* Finally the state is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of  the Senate and House of Representatives respectively.

But there is no guaranteed that the state creation will spell the end of conflicts among groups and tribes in Nigeria and overcome the African curse of ethnic problems.

From a good governance and fiscal responsibility point of view, there is no reason for Nigeria to create more states since all that will do is to increase the cost of administration, provide more outlets for further corruption. Even other minority groups may desire their own state and there is no end to state creations. At this rate every household will become a state the real issues are not addressed properly.

Money that should go towards rebuilding schools, improving healthcare and fighting disease, and building roads will go to paying  numerous and bloated government officials.

Since 1987 there have been 17 new states that have been created in Nigeria and there has been no study done by the National Assembly to find out if there has been more peace and better governance. The empirical evidence will show that the same problems are still manifesting in new forms.

Published in Gideon Nyan
Sunday, 05 September 2010 05:11

AFRIPOL PERSON OF THE WEEK

 

 

Nduka Obaigbena: Afripol person of the week

Nduka Obaigbena is founding Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of THISDAY newspaper and ARISE, the international flagship magazine that is well received around the world. Chairman Obaigbena has done more than any other person in putting Nigeria on a positive limelight. He can be literally called the father of Nigeria's rebranding. Before the government embarks on the cardinal policy of image making and rebranding, he was in the vanguard of redefining Nigeria for 21st century.

Nduka Obaigbena understood the act of compassing public relations and has singularly given Nigeria the prestige and honour she deserved. Putting Nigeria in a strategic and conspicuous limelight by showing the talents, God-given gifts and ingenuity of our great country is the hallmark of Obaigbena.

Chairman Obaigbena did not limit himself only in Nigeria, but he went further into the rest of Africa and global village. By venturing into South Africa at the end of Apartheid he encouraged the democratic dispensation by extending THISDAY newspaper and other literary publications that showcase the downtrodden Black South Africans in good light thus lifting the African soul and humanity.

Chairman Obaigbena now takes his game higher, bolder and more sophisticated by developing and producing the ARISE magazine, which was well received in the global village in London, Paris, New York and other major cosmopolitans. With his THISDAY INTERNATIONAL he has organized seminars on issues affecting Nigeria and Africa in Abuja, Lagos, New York and London with guests including Collin Powell, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former President George Bush.

One of the nicest things he has done is to integrate our youths into the music global scene by inviting who-is-who to perform in Nigerian soil. Major international entertainers the likes of Beyonce, Jay- Z, have performed in Nigeria. That has helped to showcase local musicians and Nollywood. With his ARISE magazine he has joined the ranks and files of men of goodwill whom has become part and parcel of the forces shaping the views and perceptions of the African world. With his ample contributions comes a new dawn for enhanced African presence in 21st century.

Nduka Obaigbena is a Neo- cultural African ambassador, democratic capitalist, strategist and patriot. Therefore the Board and Staff of Afripol chose him as the PERSON OF THE WEEK.

Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.  www.afripol.org     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Emeka Chiakwelu
Sunday, 05 September 2010 05:00

The enigma of Nigerian economic growth

Nigeria’s jobless economic growth

Nigeria’s economy is growing and the statistics coming from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) are testament to the blossoming GDP. Well, this side of the story is rosy on the paper, but the other side which is the reality is that regular people are suffering with massive poverty and unemployment. The rosy economy does not reflect on the poor masses. The paradoxical outlook is pointing to the inability of the growing economy to ameliorate the living conditions of the working people.

To be conservative with numbers, Nigeria makes at least $50 million dollars daily from the export of the crude oil and investments are streaming into oil and non-oil sectors.  The country’s foreign reserve is about $38.2bn and the economy is growing at second quarter at the rate of 7.3 percent. It is beginning to look that the new emerging paradigm of economic growth in Nigeria does not come with benefits. While Nigerian economic is growing at the rate of 7.3%, the unemployment is scaling at 19.7 percent according to statistics from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This is troubling to a nation of which 70 percent of the population is living in poverty.

Realistically, unemployment at 19.7 percent cannot be accurate.  With enormous joblessness in rural areas where most Nigerians dwell, the rural unemployment when factored into the equation together with the alarming unemployment among our youths, the unemployment figure from NBS cannot be accurate. The jobless economic growth poses a great trouble to policy makers in the country and they must be scrambling to do something about it. Even the Minister for Finance Olusegun Agaga is disappointed with the inconsistencies of the economy, he said, “the paradox of a growing GDP at the same time as we are witnessing growth in unemployment, which is most severe on youth in urban areas.” The Honorable Minister Agaga has good intentions but his options are limited.

“However in the same period, the national unemployment rate has risen annually, from 11.9 per cent in 2005 to 19.7 per cent in 2009, according to the National Bureau of Statistics,” said Minister of Finance Olusegun Agaga. He further acknowledged that real GDP of the country has been thriving at sound footing consecutively for previous five years, measuring at six percent or higher each year between 2005 and 2009.

With global exposure of the Minister of Finance, Mr Olusegun Aganga, a former Goldman Sachs executive appointed in March by President Jonathan, he recognised that such a paradox in the economy cannot be sustainable in the sense that the alarming poverty and poor quality of existence in the country lowers the standard of living.  The perilous situation is unacceptable for the youths energy must be directed to productive venture that will enhance quality of life. The quantum increase of crime and social ills associated with unemployment cannot be overemphasised.

On the inflationary trends, Wall Street Journal reported that, “Nigeria's annual inflation rate rose to 13% in July from 10.3% in the preceding month, the National Bureau of Statistics, or NBS, said on its website. The higher inflation rate was attributed to the rising prices for food items like yams, potatoes, meat, fish, cooking oil and fresh tomatoes. Nigerian inflation stood at 11% in May, 12.5% in April, up from 11.8% in March. It was 12.3% In February and January, and 12% in December 2009. Nigeria slowed inflation for most of 2006 and 2007, achieving a single-digit rate.”

The observation that is gaining momentum is that monetary policy has run its course and its application to resolve and control inflation is waning. Nigerian policy makers must look outside the conventional solution particularly on the usage of monetary and fiscal policies to restrict inflation. The next bold move is to strengthen economic output in the country. This not the clamping down on foreign imported goods but to gradually increase the incentives to attract local investors to start manufacturing in the country and raising the raw materials from the country. The key is to encourage local investors who know the terrains of the local economy to rise to the occasion of satisfying the final consumers.

The budgetary location at the tune of N704 naira has been release to the state and local governments. “Nigeria sold 126.46 billion naira of 20-year, 5-year and 3-year sovereign bonds at its eighth debt auction of the year, the Debt Management Office (DMO). It sold 41.64 billion naira in the 20-year papers, 42.33 billion in the 5-year bonds and 42.49 billion naira in the 3-year instruments at an auction. The amount raised was 20 percent more than the 105 billion naira the debt office initially proposed to auction.”

Reuters reported that “Nigeria sold 5-year and 3-year sovereign bonds at its eighth debt auction of the year” and it was confirmed by Debt Management Office (DMO). Nigeria was reported selling 42.49 billion naira in the 3-year, 42.33 billion in the 5-year bonds and 126.46 billion naira of 20-year.  Earlier, Nigeria sold through DMO 42.49 billion naira in the 3-year instruments, 42.33 billion in the 5-year bonds and 41.64 billion naira in the 20-year papers. “The marginal rate on the 3-year bonds rose slightly to 7.54 percent from 7.48 percent last month, the 5-year paper was up to 9.25 percent from 8.85 percent and the 20-year bonds climbed to 11 percent from 10 percent.”

There is no doubt that Nigeria is fast becoming bullish in selling bonds to raise money. Nigeria must realize one essential component of issuing bonds is the unflinching commitment to honor the debts when they attained maturity. DMO may be hearty and excited to be selling those bonds but they have a big work for them in near future.  Debt Management Office (DMO) has to justify the issue of the bonds and to make sure that no scandal or mismanagement will lower Nigerian financial ratings from Standard and Poors.  The money raised by Nigeria must be prudently invested with probity and transparency to bolster the confidence of the market.

Naira is hovering at slightly below and above N150.70 to dollar, which is not really bad. The demand of dollar is quite high at the local market which can justify the weakening of naira which can be compensated by the monthly sales of dollar by big energy companies.  The foreign reserve which stood $38.2 billion can act as a war chest to safeguard the value of naira.

 

Sunday, 05 September 2010 02:33

Cholera Outbreak in W. Africa

Deaths Reported In Nigeria and Cameroon

Most of Africa is experiencing heavy rainfall and instead of greeting the rains with happiness, many people in Cameroon, Nigeria and the northern Nigerian states of Bauchi and Borno are fighting for their lives as they face the perils of a severe cholera outbreak.

Cholera is a contagious water-borne infection that is easily and quickly transmitted through dirty, contaminated water and food, which is cooked in unhygienic conditions, using such unclean water. Even though the disease can be prevented through proper sanitation and fresh supply of clean drinking water, this is not the case.

Every year, during the monsoons, there is a surge in cholera cases in Nigeria. One of the main reasons for its spread is heavy rainfall leading to an overflow of dirty water into wells and ponds which serve as the main source of water supply in the village areas.

Cholera is caused by the Vibro cholera bacteria usually spread through contaminated water. Although contaminated water is the primary means of spread of cholera infection, raw shellfish, uncooked fruits and vegetables, and other foods can also harbor cholera bacteria. The cholera bacteria can remain dormant in the water for a prolonged period, especially in the public wells found commonly in the third world countries, and are responsible for the large-scale cholera outbreaks.

The use of modern sewage systems and treatment has almost eradicated cholera in the developed countries. For example, the last outbreak of cholera in the United States was in 1911. However, cholera outbreaks continue to remain an epidemic in many underdeveloped countries including sub-Saharan Africa, India, Latin-America, Asia, and Middle East. These outbreaks are common in communities without adequate sanitation and crowded living.

The most common symptoms of cholera include diarrhea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. Urgent medical attention is needed in people suffering from cholera. If treatment is not started on time, it can even lead to death. Cholera can be easily treated, and death prevented with simple and inexpensive rehydration solution.

The main goal of treatment is the replacement of fluids and electrolytes lost through diarrhea and shorten the time of diarrhea and vomiting. The Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) has been formulated with the optimal water, salts and sugar content to meet part of this objective. If not adequately rehydrated close to fifty percent of the people with cholera will die. In severely dehydrated, intravenous rehydration would likely be needed.

In addition, studies have demonstrated that a single dose of azithromycin (a form of erythromycin antibiotics) given to adults or children with severe cholera can significantly reduce the symptoms and duration of diarrhea and vomiting. Also, oral zinc supplement has been demonstrated to reduce the duration of the diarrhea in children suffering from cholera. Overall, with adequate treatment, the morality or death from cholera is almost none existent.

Formal announcements have been made regarding the seriousness of cholera spread this year. It has been estimated that more than 1,300 people have been infected with this dangerous disease in Nigeria alone. In Cameroon, the estimate goes up to almost 2,000 cases with a couple of hundred deaths.

The healthcare sector in Nigeria and Africa are taking necessary steps to make drugs accessible to those infected. Moreover, campaigns are being run to sensitize the general public on what they can do to protect themselves and curb the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

G. Stanley Okoye, M.D., Ph.D. , Chief Medical Correspondent, Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) and St. Jude Medical Missions ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

 

 

 

Friday, 20 August 2010 10:02

Competence and zoning in politics

 

Competence invaluable than zoning in Nigeria

Nigeria is coming of age, part of growth and maturity is self examination. This issue of zoning in People’s Democratic Party (PDP) deserves the re-visitation and re-examination in order to determine its relevance at this present polity. The great thing about democracy is the coming together of free people with free will, thus making decisions that are binding to their vision and aspiration. Hot debate in Nigeria on this issue of zoning must be carried out in way that it promotes the ideals of the country, ultimately enhancing goodwill. This debate must be based on peace, fairness, unity and progress for greater good of Nigeria.

Competence should be upheld in this equation because it is superior and has precedence over geographical location and zone. While zoning can become a tool to promote fairness, it does not necessarily bring about competence in the polity. No amount of zoning can make Nigerian economy to grow and give jobs to millions of unemployed Nigerians. No one is suggesting that the issue of zoning should be dismissed outrightly or relegated to insignificance. Zoning has its place in Nigerian politics due to long history of denial and unfairness on the mostly perceived weak groups and minorities. But the discussing of zoning must be shaped by competence; for allowing mediocrity to thrive inorder to safeguard and protect zoning at all cost has its repercussion for at the long run everybody will be a loser.

In this demanding stage of Nigerian evolution what she desperately need are competent men and women of goodwill from any part of Nigeria to channel the vision of the country to reality. Nigeria needs pragmatic and patriotic leaders from any section of country to manage the affairs of the country as president, governors, senator, legislator, chairman of LG and counselors. Nigeria must be willing to trust one another inorder to maximize brotherhood and interdependence with each other. The best way to increase patriotism and citizenship is to encourage Nigerians to be Nigerians not just Ijaw, Efiki, Igala, Hausa, Yourba, Igbo etc. The time has come for Nigerians to freely live in any part of the country, calling it home and realizing their political, educational and commercial ambitions without going back to the so-called native soil or village.

Zoning for one thing does not increase our cohesive force of togetherness rather it highlights our lack of trust among fellow country men and women. Zoning maybe antithetical to democratic process for it inhibits the free participation of common people to elect the leader they chose fit. Therefore in that case zoning can become a tool for ‘gerrymandering’ which goes contrary to its purpose and justification. The zoning might have a grandiose purpose of writing the wrongs of the past but we must make sure that it does not dominate our politics for it has the propensity to dampen our freedom and liberty in our blossoming democratic dispensation.

Nigeria’s fierce debating on zoning is healthy for our democracy, but our country must seriously look into the issue of competence. We need enlighten leaders to build our country, leaders who are patriotic to the nation and who believe in the verses of our national anthem and national pledge. The time has come for Nigeria to become part of economic super block, utilizing her time amply on discussing economic issues, rather than a nation obsessed with the debate of which hamlet or clan will produce a president.

It will be unfair and un-sportsmanship for politicians to use the issue of zoning to diminish any region of the country in order to make a point or score cheap political point. Such an attitude and mindset will not foster amity but rather heat up the country’s polity. It is unwise and imprudent to gain politically at the expense of the unity of our great country.

Nigeria can stand for fairness without disconcerting competence; the most important thing to every Nigerian at this stage of our development and history is to foster unity, peace and economic progress in the country’s political landscape. And our ambitious politicians and their cohorts must stand up for Nigeria.

 

Published in Emeka Chiakwelu
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 22:24

Oil spill in Niger Delta

Nigeria can learn from US oil spill response

 

During the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, a seminar was organized by Energy and Corporate Africa on Oil and Gas exploration in Africa. Afripol‘s Principal Policy Strategist, Emeka Chiakwelu presented a paper on ‘Affects of oil spills in Niger Delta and Africa’ on the second day of the conference.

African government officials including senior governmental bureaucrats from Nigerian presidency (Aso Rock) were in the conference. It happened that on the day of the presentation was the initial stage of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Afripol’s representative used the spill as point of reference and as a lunching pad to elaborate on Niger Delta continuous massive spill, thus drawing on their similarities and inaction in Nigeria.

The penetrating scope of the paper presentation might have made Aso Rock officials unease but the presentation was spiking vitality and highlighting the significance of the government, the affecting community and oil companies working together to arrest the oil spill menace. The synergy can be realized by having a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and efficient coordination for oil spill response and subsequent remediation when it became necessary.

The mountainous and sheath flow oil spill in Gulf of Mexico almost wrecked the livelihood of communities living in the region. The maritime life has received a devastating damage, the aquatic organism and its ecosystem may never be same again. Put it this way, it will take a long time even more than a century before the Gulf of Mexico will return to normality. The damage to the communities and ecology cannot be quantified only in monetary values, without adding the psychological, well being and pristine nature’s deformation of the area probably for ever.

But in spite of all that happened there are still things that we all can learn from the sad episode. The governance and the peoples of developing nations that are confronting the issue of oil spill in consummative level to the Gulf of Mexico spilled can learn from American people and the government. In Nigerian region of Niger Delta that produced most of the oil that made Nigeria the sixth producer and exporter of crude oil, the waters and ecosystem have continuous oil spill in large scale since oil was discovered in the region for the past 50years.

Niger Delta pristine environment has been decimated by oil spill at a scale bigger than that of Gulf of Mexico, which was approximated at a discharged of 2.5 millions gallons daily. According to a recent piece from New York Times: "As many as 546 million gallons of oil spilled into the Niger Delta over the last five decades, or nearly 11 million gallons a year, a team of experts for the Nigerian government and international and local environmental groups concluded in a 2006 report. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 dumped an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil into the waters off Alaska."

The influential British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that "On 12 May 2009, Shell's Bomo manifold blew up, leaking massive amounts of crude. Local people say 39 hectares were contaminated. A second leak - from a derelict oil tap - had already been continuously spilling oil for years. But, according to the Nigerian government, there were more than 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000. Environmentalists believe spills - large and small - happen at a rate of 300 every year." All these are showing that oil spills and environmental degradation at Niger Delta were massive and more often than were documented.

The sad story is that poverty in Niger Delta has been enhanced because the source of livelihood which comes from fishing and agriculture has been destroyed by these continuous oil spills in the area. One thing must be clear; this is not the time to point accusing fingers to one another. It is the time for the people of the area, government and the big oil companies to work together. Nobody can deny this, the revenue generated from export crude oil has been enormous but enough resources have not been invested in the region. But gradually the present administration has been rising to challenge of re-writing the wrongs of the past.

Nigerians can learn from Americans on the protection and the defense of the environment. First and foremost, we can be begin to get into our head that the big oil companies can not just abandon the government to carry out the responsibility of ecosystem oil cleanup and remediation. The oil companies have the utmost responsibility of keeping the area in the good shape as they found it. With the natives source of income being diminish the oil companies should find a way to compensate these communities. Nobody is suggesting that the oil companies should empty their savings and profits to the affected people but to acknowledge the sufferings of the poor and helpless people.

Inasmuch that we are grateful that the oil companies are investing in Nigeria, they must not behave in way that only Nigeria is gaining from the business venture; the oil companies are making large amount of profits too. Intrinsically there must be symbiotic relationship where nobody is left behind but everybody is matching to a tune of one beat. Oil companies doing business at Niger Delta must be willing to sincerely work with people not just for sake of public relationship but to make a difference.

We can learn from America about the empowerment of the community and citizens. Instead of the local communities of Niger Delta destroying oil infrastructures and kidnapping people they must come to table for negotiation equipped with practical solutions. The local environment activists must subscribed to non-violence and will only encourage peaceful demonstrations and outings.

The government and the people must speak with one voice not to intimidate the oil companies but speaking with a sensibility to promotes peace, understanding and harmony between the people of Niger Delta and the oil companies.

Spill Prevention and Response Measures

Being prepared and ready is the key. The most significant thing is the making provision of the materials and information needed to confront oil spill. The government of Nigeria has the supreme task of defining and elucidating in details her responsibilities to oil companies when oil spill occurs. The congress will pass a bill that empowers the presidency to supervise the cleanup and enforcements of cleaning oil spill. The bill or the passed law must enumerate how the cost of the cleanup will be shared and the enforcement procedures with regards to penalties and fines when necessary.

Chiakwelu said, "Nigerian lawmakers have a role to play on the issue of the oil spill. The legislators should introduce a bill and pass a law that is fully adequate and comprehensive on spill response and clean up. The propose bill will stipulate the roles of government agencies, oil companies and the community. The bill will come with implementation procedures and penalties for inaction and neglect."

The law must not be source of intimidation but an enlightenment process and procedure that discourage irresponsibility and incompetence. The government of Nigeria will create a symbiotic relationship with the oil companies that will generate a synergy of competence, responsibities and mutual respect.

Nigerian government will not shoulder all the responsibilities nor transfer them to the oil companies. But a shared responsibities must be eminent and adhered to. Oil companies must not abandon oil spill clean up to the government, after all Nigerian government does not have the scientific equipments and the technical know-how for cleaning oil spill. The most important is to be precautious, to clean oil spill and to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 07 August 2010 04:42

NSE MUST BE REVAMPED AND REFORMED

 

 

Afripol Organization calls for recalibrating of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

 Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for sometime now is encountering numerous problems ranging from illegal and inside trading to financial mismanagement. Stock Exchange Market in global financial circle is seen as the bellwether and presage of the health of an emerging economy like Nigeria, therefore it has become necessary, if not imperative that some sort of reform must be administered and instituted in order to revamp the exchange market

 For any nation that is serious about furthering capitalism on its soil, it must acknowledge the important role occupied by Stock Exchange Market for fuelling and financing industries in the capital market. Nigeria must be very concerned about perceived integrity and transparency of her financial and capital markets for her economic growth and full participation in the current global economy.

 Aliko Dangote, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) recently accused the institution of being financial strapped due to mismanagement of its fund. The president of NSE stressed that the poor management and paucity of fund do not give the leverage for NSE to meet its obligations to stakeholders in the capital market.

 NSE plays a vital role in an economy of our country especially Nigeria as an emerging economy must be careful about the image and the underpinning importance of its capital market. Nigeria cannot afford to undermine the trust of the global capital market traders. The consequence will encourage capital flight and withdraw of resources from the market.

"Dangote accused NSE’s management of dipping its hands into the finances of its subsidiary, the Central Securities Clearing System’s (CSCS) accounts to borrow N 900 million to support its cash deficit position.

 Dangote further revealed that the NSE is indebted to the tune of N 119.5 million to Accenture auditing firm and that it has decided to stop additional work on executive selection, trading platform selection completion and implementation of the operating model for which the Exchange engaged its services, until all outstanding invoices are duly paid."

 Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) must not be allowed to become a weakened institution; for the ramifications could cause enormous damage on the growing economy. The deterioration of NSE will retard economic development in Nigeria. NSE is the contact point that brings buyers and sellers of stocks through their registered brokers. The capital and money raised by companies from capital market helps to support research and development, financing of new business entities which bolster economic development.

Nigeria with a strong population base and an expanding middle class sector, nurses the vision of becoming one of the largest economies by year 2020. The NSE can play a vital role in Nigeria’s ascendency to a well managed and optimum productive economy. Moreover the foreign investors are attracted to economies where capital can be raised for growing their companies. Nigeria cannot transform her economic woes by solely on public sector; Nigeria needs private sector with its creativity to grow her economy and starting creating ample jobs for underemployed and unemployed. A strong, reliable and well managed NSE can lay the foundation and become the catalyst for economic growth for Nigeria’s emerging economy.

 

Afripol Organization recognizes the significance of a self- sustaining and a healthy capital market which is key ingredient for a well regulated commerce, trade and industry in a capitalistic economy. A flourishing economy needs a reliable Stock Exchange Market.

Vincent Ogboi, Senior fellow, economic and financial analyst on African affairs at Afripol, reaffirmed the urgency for reform: "A renowned Nigerian industrialist and President of NSE, Mr. Dangote, also an insider sounded an alarm bell that the Nigerian Stock Exchange is "broke". This coming form an inside player cannot be blown off as just another empty cry for investigation of perceived enemies. The culture of pervasive corruption that has gone unabated since Nigeria’s independence has predictably taken over and erodes the trust of many in the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Once again, hard working average Nigerians who are always asked to play by the rules, are left holding the short end of the stick."

Referring to the recent history of mismanagement of priorities at NSE, expert Ogboi stressed: "The Nigerian Stock Exchange, headed by Dr. (Mrs) Okereke, is widely known for corrupt practices that are never investigated even when evidence abound. The Present Nigerian President, Mr. Jonathan Goodluck, in a swift move realizing the possible damaging impact this could bring to the comatose and oil dependent economy, sacked Mrs. Okereke. Mrs. Okereke’s position has been very controversial especially in the last few years since she started dabbling into other private business ventures that are in obvious conflict with her position as the head of the Stock Exchange. Her closeness to previous and corrupt past Nigerian politicians has certainly not helped the situation."

Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol, supports reforming NSE, "For Nigeria to move forward with a robust economic development especially in the private sector a well regulated and financially managed NSE must be present. Our country must summon the courage to do the requisite reforming of NSE to bring about a revamped outcome."

Dr. G. Stanley O'Koye, chief medical correspondent at Afripol, added that reforming the NSE can be a great tremendous help to the quality and efficiency of health care delivery in Nigeria: "when we have a solid and reliable NSE, many start-up and newly emerging biotech companies and venture capitalists in the area of health and medicine can confidently go to capital market to raise money to embark on their health care ventures. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies producing drugs can easily raise capital to manufacture their brand name drugs in the country. Therefore a corrupt free NSE can significantly help to restore health industries as thriving entities. In addition, a corrupt free NSE will facilitate the establishment of publicly traded third party insurance or health management organizations (HMO), and hence promote the delivery of quality health care to Nigerians."

 

Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

 

 

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