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Friday, 06 September 2013 15:58

Nigeria: Who is afraid of accurate census?



All over the world, population census is used for socio-economic, strategic and developmental planning. In almost all countries, demographic data are used for provision of infrastructure, water, power, housing, health and educational needs of the inhabitants amongst other uses. For such planning to be effective, it must be based on accurate population census figures.


In advanced democracies and some countries in Africa, conducting a population census is a normal exercise that people don’t lose their heads about worrying of its outcome and which part of the country will have the highest figure and other inanities associated with population census in Nigeria.


The story is not the same in Nigeria, the giant of Africa. In Nigeria, census figures are manipulated in view of the fact that the data are important in delineation of electoral wards and constituencies and in revenue allocation. That is why unscrupulous politicians are more concerned with its outcome. Because of the inherent abuses of census figures in the country, virtually every census conducted in the country has ended up in controversy. It is either the North rejects it or the East or the West does not approve of it.


The inability of the leaders of the country to arrive at accurate population census is at the heart of major crises the country has faced since independence. The political dominance of the North over the South since independence due to the seeming population advantage it has over the South is part of the Nigerian problem. That is why every census exercise in the country is always acrimonious and contentious no matter who supervises it.


Even if angels are brought from heaven to supervise Nigerian census, some people will still complain. Perhaps that is the way Nigerians perceive census, especially when the result will be used for sharing of the national cake, essentially oil money.


It is based on proven scientific data and evidence of such census abuses that the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Eze Festus Odimegwu, recently lampooned past census exercises conducted in Nigerian before independence and after as being inaccurate. As most Nigerians are aware, Odimegwu did not say anything new or what nobody has said in the country. He has said the truth of the matter. Perhaps his ‘first fault’ is that he is insisting that all demographic information like tribe and religion, which were excluded in the 2006 census exercise be included in the 2016 one as it is done in all parts of the world. Perhaps his ‘second fault’ is that he said that the 2006 census was manipulated in favour of a section of the country. When has saying the truth become a fault in the country?


Those who are contesting Odimegwu’s claims should not bother any further. The recent Census Tribunal’s ruling that some areas of Lagos be recounted because they were not correctly captured during the 2006 census exercise has amply justified Odimegwu’s stand. Lagos State had after the release of the census figures that gave Kano State more population than Lagos contested the outcome. Lagos State might not be alone in such misrepresentation.


The South-East was not adequately covered during the 2006 census exercise due to the threat by MASSOB that Igbos should not participate. How can a census that did not factor tribe and religion, the two major demographic indices for accurate census be taken as credible? Many Nigerians protested then that those demographic indices be included but were never heeded by the powers that be. Conducting a population census is a serious business. Figures should not be assigned to wards and constituencies at the whim of the powers that be, they must be accurate. That is exactly what Odimegwu is saying.


Therefore when the governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, raised undue dust over Odimegwu’s comments, it is understandable where he is coming from. His assertion that Odimegwu’s appointment as NPC chairman is ‘a mistake’ is quite unfortunate and unbecoming of a state governor who should be concerned of the need for accurate population count in the country. Kwankwaso’s grandstanding on the issue and his unprintable invectives on Odimegwu are in bad taste and against Odimegwu’s right to freedom of expression. It is public knowledge that Kwankwaso went too far in his verbal umbrage on Odimegwu and his competence to conduct the 2016 census.


This is not the first time that Kwakwanso will be so condemnatory in any matter that concerns Ndigbo. The other time, it was the call for additional State to the South-East zone, the only geo-political zone in the country with five states.


Kwankwaso did not only condemn the call, he also berated those making the call and dismissed the agitation with a wave of the hand because he is not involved. Such hate approach to national issues in a plural society as ours is indeed parochial and uncalled for.


Let Kwankwanso and others that think like him (the Arewa Consultative Forum) understand the need for accurate population census and support those that want Nigeria to have accurate and credible census come 2016. Even if they don’t like the messenger, let them not discard the message. The message, irrespective of the bearer, is very vital for the continued functioning of the country. It is surprising that some people will be posturing against the clarion call for accurate population census. How do such people plan in their household or the state they govern?


Therefore, the call on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Odimegwu based on his defence of accurate population census, is diversionary, unnecessary and should be dismissed. It does not advance the cause of a transformational administration and statehood that Nigeria is aspiring to be under the current dispensation. Let those castigating Odimegwu over his insistence for accurate headcount leave him alone and think of how best to govern their states.


Before coming to NPC, Odimegwu has had a distinguished career as an accomplished manager of men and resources as well as a board room guru at Nigerian Breweries Plc. Since leaving the conglomerate, he has been successful in diverse business ventures. His competence to conduct a credible headcount for the country is therefore not in doubt as Kwankwaso wants us to believe.





Prejudice has become profitable in Nigeria. It’s boom season for ethnic entrepreneurs and, indeed, for sundry purveyors of hate. These traders in prejudice do not inhabit any special corners of Nigeria. They are everywhere and they profit from nearly everything. They cut across generations, class, gender, and creed. Nothing escapes their attention and everything is sooner or later an ethnic conspiracy or an excuse for a slur on an identity group.


To be fair, these profiteers in prejudice have received a lot of help recently. Governors in different parts of Nigeria who swore to defend the Constitution of Nigeria have resorted to removing Nigerians from one part of the country to another under various artifices from security to specious humanitarianism. Others have sacked workers in the public service of their states based on claims that the affected workers are supposedly aliens from neighbouring states.


All this takes place notwithstanding that Nigeria’s constitution expressly prohibits discrimination on grounds of place of origin, ethnicity or sex. The same constitution entitles all Nigerians to move freely and live anywhere within the country. Yet, women have routinely lost access to and preferment within the public service because they married spouses from outside what is supposed to be their state of origin.


It gets worse:  prejudice feeds extremism. When a bomb goes off in No-Man’s Land or a security operation somewhere reports mass casualties, the beer-parlour – and even predominant policy – inquiry no less, often turns on the ethnic or sectarian identities of those affected.


Most no longer seem to harbor the capability for pause to mourn the collective injuries to our country, to share in the grief of people like who must mourn the loss of loved ones or to transmit solidarity or compassion to communities living under the weight of victimization. Transcendentalism is no longer a requirement for leadership. To have a place at the table of leadership, you must corral and bring along a filial collective tied to nativity.


Co-existence has acquired new enemies. Online chat rooms and electronic communities have not helped. There is a frightening electronic traffic in prejudice and vituperation. It is as if some electronic platforms are designed to spike their own traffic metrics by deliberately promoting echo chambers in prejudice.


All this traffic in prejudice misses one essential and obvious point. In Nigeria, there are only two tribes that matter: the rulers and the others. The former are an overwhelming minority. The rest of us are “the others”. And when you are “the other” in Nigeria, anything can happen to you.


The idea of an “overwhelming minority” sounds inherently self-contradictory but not when you look at it closely. In a democracy, the majority supposedly confers power. In reality, a minority necessarily exercises and profits from it.


In Nigeria a narrow band of interests has always controlled our patrimony. The membership of this narrow band comes from all over the country. When the going is good, they care little about the others. When they encounter the occasional difficulty in carving up our patrimony, they enlist others in manufactured divisions of ethnicity and sect. And they litter the land with red meat for profiteers in prejudice.


All over our laws, being poor is criminalized. The law establishing the Abuja Environmental Protection Board describes hardworking women selling agricultural produce or seeking other legitimate livelihood in daytime as “solid waste” and renders them liable to arbitrary arrest.


Unemployed persons are punished for being “idle and disorderly”. Poor people in the wrong place are “vagabonds”. And those who suffer mental disability are “lunatics” or “mad people”.


What is notable in the recent one-way traffic in Nigerians across state borders is not where those affected come from or the race or ethnicity of those who think that the response to our admittedly profound social or political pathologies is the internal banishment of other people. It is rather that the victims are all generally poor people. To underline this point, they are also rendered nameless. As a category, we call them “beggars”.


It is as if being called a beggar is good reason for being put beneath humanity and beneath the protections of our constitution.When states banish motorbike operators from the roads, the main reason they give is that such “beggars” constitute threats to security.When banks preclude persons with disability – whose deposits they happily collect - from their transaction and service halls, it is because such “beggars” are unsuitable to be seen in their corporate spaces.


And when we exclude people who do not look like us from our various neighbourhoods, we call them “beggars” too. In all these instances, we deploy these usages to excuse our inability to care or show compassion. Yet, the only thing that is beggared by all this sniffing at people who are not like us is the possibility of mutual co-existence in a viable country.


The use of the word “beggar” to describe fellow human beings and citizens says everything about the pervasiveness of status as the defining influence in how Nigeria is now organised. This is not chosen by nature nor ordered by any ethnic or faith group.


As a policy tendency, the idea of civic entitlement, that citizens are entitled as a matter of right to certain minimum guarantees of well being and due process is now under threat in our country. This must be resisted by all who wish Nigeria well.


Difficult as it may seem, there are many ways to fight back. Leadership is important. We must offer support and incentives for aspiring leaders who are genuinely committed to promoting transcendental and non-discriminatory values and find ways to exact political penalty for those that fail to do so.


The law has a role to play. We must review our laws and remove from them provisions that penalize poverty or being different. It also time to think about criminalizing hate speech and related crimes of purveying hate.


Related to this, proprietors and promoters of electronic communities must begin to assume greater responsibility for traffic on their platforms. Agreeing a voluntary code of good practice could be a good beginning. The National Human Rights Commission can mediate this.


Pejoratives, like “beggars”, must be discouraged in our public communications. Every person has a name and group pejoratives of this sort are themselves violations of dignity and the inherent worth of every person. As a menu of options, this is only a beginning. There are lots more that we could do. We can at least resolve around one goal: It is time to end the open season on those who look different from us.



Chidi-Odinkalu-backpg.jpg - Chidi-Odinkalu-backpg.jpg•Chidi Odinkalu, an expert in human rights and migration law, is the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 22:55

Nigeria Beckons Investors Fleeing The BRIC

With even Goldman Sachs turning cold on the core emerging markets basket of Brazil, India, Russia and China, investors are combing the world looking for a place to put their money to work. For this new generation of adventurers, the goal is to be on the ground in the right new market before it becomes the core — and Nigeria just started flashing all the signals.


For years, the country – the biggest and most dynamic frontier economy in Africa, with a GDP on par with global capital destinations like Hong Kong and Singapore – had a Wild West reputation for both rambunctious growth and a little danger. But while the entrepreneurial energy of Lagos still reminds fund managers of Houston multiplied by four times the population, success in cracking down on security threats in the oil-rich interior is changing the security situation for the better.


Monday’s reports that government forces may have killed Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram insurgency, mean the rewards here may now substantially outweigh the risks. As Nigerian Senate President David Mark told me, security is a critical factor for the current administration and extremist groups like Boko Haram have already been pushed to the country’s borders.


However, many investors still have an outdated conception of Nigeria as a dangerous market engulfed by unrest and corruption, and so stocks in Lagos still trade at something of a distress discount to reflect the country’s past – and create an opportunity for investors willing to understand what the Nigeria of today is really all about.


Massive growth, dramatic value


The $31 billion currently moving on the Nigerian Stock Exchange represents annual economic activity of $268 billion. To buy the same amount of productivity in Singapore, for example, would cost nearly $737 billion, or 23 times as much. Even in relatively mature emerging markets like Brazil and Russia that are unlikely to enjoy much in the way of future growth, domestic equity trades at a 200% to 300% premium over what it would cost in Lagos.


Meanwhile, the Nigerian economy is growing at an annualized rate well above 6%, faster than any of the top-tier emerging markets short of China itself. Although the oil sector still contributed $8 billion to GDP in the first quarter of 2013 – largely in the form of exports to the United States — the country’s petroleum wealth now takes a back seat to its expanding middle class. Construction, hospitality and service are actually booming at a rate faster than what even China can currently claim, without the top-down state meddling.


While a planned Beijing-style economy runs counter to all the laissez-faire impulses the oil boom has brought to Lagos, investors here can also count on more transparency and better corporate governance than ever. Compared to the sometimes-intimidating government presence of countries like China, India or Russia, Nigeria has traditionally confronted investors with too much freedom, but the regulatory environment is making great strides.


President Goodluck Jonathan has pursued a “Transformation Agenda” with two extremely market-friendly goals since his election in 2011: accelerate the modernization of the economy and finish the job of eliminating money laundering, payroll fraud and other once-persistent red flags for investors who want to make sure their interests are taken as seriously as they would be in any developed economy.


Judges who accept bribes are losing their jobs and facing formal prosecution. And as Senator Mark tells me, the level of corruption that Nigerians and foreign investors once dealt with on a day-to-day basis would seem “extremely exaggerated” in modern Lagos.


In the place of corruption, the young and dynamic population is finding work. New infrastructure is coming online to support private enterprise and while oil remains the center of the economy, education, employment, agriculture and even home ownership are rapidly emerging as linchpins of the new Nigeria.


Opening the floodgates to global capital is another strategic goal. Yvonne Emordi, head of strategy at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, is serious about boosting the country’s overall public market capitalization to $1 trillion by 2016.


Putting Lagos on equal footing with Bombay or Sao Paulo as a global capital hub in three years would be quite a feat, but the foundations for that kind of growth are already in place. Nigeria was one of the world’s four best-performing markets last year with a 35.45% gain, while a compound return above 10% a year since 2003 can easily support doubling the market’s capitalization from decade to decade if the trend continues.


While thin capital flows often turns one year’s top frontier into a big loser immediately thereafter, Nigeria is relatively liquid by African standards and seems to be early in its cycle of attracting liquidity. Overseas investors currently hold about 43% of the shares in Lagos, which is relatively balanced – nowhere near an unsustainable glut of fast foreign money but those who come in now already have something like critical mass to work with.


And while the risk of terrorist disruption recedes, money keeps flowing in the form of direct investment in the domestic economy. In just the last six months, U.S. corporations like Procter & Gamble PG -0.19% have committed at least $700 million to build new factories and agricultural facilities in the country while the Nigerian government itself announced a $1 billion fund to nurture the local software industry, which officials think can ultimately capture $20 billion a year from rivals like India.


Getting ahead of the game


India is a good example of the long-term potential Nigeria can unlock for its people and for the world’s investors. In 2001, when Goldman Sachs was first developing its BRIC strategy, India’s GDP was under $500 billion and the blue-chip Sensex index was trading around 3,200. Twelve years later, the economy had doubled in size and a tidal wave of money pushed the market bellwether within sight of 19,000.


Brazil and Russia have also seen their stocks multiply in value as the BRIC evolved into the hot strategy of the decade. Last year alone, over $100 billion poured into BRIC exchange-traded funds, representing a full 1.6% of the combined capitalization of the four countries and giving share prices an external boost.



Should Nigeria enjoy a similar trajectory, there are fortunes to be made here. Despite its reputation as a leading oil producer, it is already much better diversified than Russia.


If anything, the economy more closely resembles that of Brazil: rich in petroleum but blessed with an abundance of other resources and a population that is only now starting to live up to their potential as consumers. GDP per capita – a key gauge of the penetration of middle-class lifestyles – is still only a fourth of that in Brazil and barely a third of what investors can now get in China. In terms of domestic development, the Nigerian economy already has critical mass but we are still very close to the ground floor on future growth.


Until recently, U.S. investors practically needed to have both feet in the ground in go-go Lagos in order to get any direct exposure at all to that growth curve. There are no Nigerian American depositary receipts (ADRs). Even in London, the only shares available are in the country’s leading banks.


Those same banks appear again in the 12% of Van Eck’s African ETF (AFK) currently invested in Nigerian stocks. Only a single holding there – Nigerian Breweries – represents the thriving consumer sector.


And then there is the Global X Nigeria ETF (NGE), which has drifted on either side of its April offering price and is currently looking defensive amid the ongoing “risk off” move. P/E in the portfolio is still low at under 9.5 and many of the holdings are names you will not find anywhere else: Nigerian subsidiaries of global consumer brands like Nestle, Unilever and Guinness, construction-oriented plays and even food processors.


For now, NGE is the best game in town if you want to add some spice to an otherwise sagging BRIC allocation. There will be other ways to take your portfolio to the BRINC as Nigeria continues to eliminate sources of domestic unrest and awareness of the country’s economic progress spreads.


Either way, with performance in the BRIC markets suffering it may be time to look a little farther afield for the benefits those countries used to provide. Senator Mark tells me he sees a little room left for heavy lifting to bring Nigeria’s infrastructure up to modern standards, but once that happens, it may be all hands on deck.



Hilary KramerHilary Kramer, equity analysts and investment manager, Wall Street's most successful equity analysts and investment managers, with a reputation as a leading expert on today's market movements, stock trends and economic outlook. She received my MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and my BA from Wellesley College with honors. she got started on Wall Street more than two decades ago at Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley, an analyst in the investment banking group covering natural resources, diversified industrials and energy companies.

source: Forbes

Saturday, 17 August 2013 22:11

Can Nigeria's leaders do the right thing?

A deadly attack on a mosque in Konduga this week is a reminder of how Nigeria’s bright future is under threat from destabilizing conflict. News of the attack, which claimed dozens of lives and that many believe is the work of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is just the latest in a string of troubling incidents that the government seems unable to come to grips with. In June, at least 30 people were reportedly killed in an attack on a school, an incident that came soon after a state of emergency was called in three states. This worrying surge in animosity, fuelled by sectarian violence, has left many Nigerians wondering if the government can regain control.

Sadly, our leaders look incapable of rising to the occasion. Nigeria is being crippled by political infighting, creating tensions that too often lead to unhelpful and even damaging rhetoric. Political immaturity, and our failure to address differences amongst our diverse communities, is hurting the nation’s reputation in the international community, and is undoubtedly deterring future investment.


This immaturity was on display last month, when police issued an arrest warrant for lawmaker Chidi Lloyd. His alleged crime? Attacking another lawmaker during a free-for-all in the chambers of the Assembly. Regardless of the rationale, we should be united in our condemnation of such events, and demand that our politicians show greater respect for the rule of law.


Unfortunately, the very polls where we elect our lawmakers have been hijacked by disputes, clashes over ethnicity, religion and regionalism. Indeed, the presidential election two years ago exposed the huge divisions that lay between north and south, in ethnicity and religion – thousands fled their homes in northern states, while at least 800 hundred were reportedly killed in post-election rioting that swept 12 states.


The significant advantages for the incumbent party mean that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate will likely be “favored” at the 2015 polls. But even for the ruling party, the deep divides in this country of 170 million people could undermine its prospects, especially if the opposition parties can work together and agree on a single presidential candidate.


And there are already signs that this could happen. In recent weeks, an alliance of half a dozen northern groups have organized and look set to forgo their own representatives in the interest of checkmating a southern candidate in 2015.  Yet although the intentions of the group might be positive, these political maneuverings risk looking detached from the realities and challenges faced by Nigerians at home and abroad.


An example of this detachment has been a tendency for the country’s leaders to see the presidency as something that should rotate between a northern and southern candidate, reflecting the divide between the country’s mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian and animist south. This tacit agreement is wholly undemocratic and not based on the virtues of the candidates’ policies.


Rather than squabbling over the details of a power sharing agreement, we as a nation need to rewrite the rule book to ensure a viable, socially fair democracy.  And any discussions of how those in power are chosen or operate when in office should not be conducted on the basis of intimidation or ethno-religious dominance. Instead, they should be undertaken on the basis of mutual respect, and an understanding of the diverse elements that make up our complex nation.


The reality is that there is growing resentment among ethnic groups left out in the cold from these power arrangements, with many justifiably feeling they have been cheated by these “gentlemen’s agreements.”


We must hold ourselves to a higher standard, and look ahead to 2015 as an opportunity to conduct a calm, fair and free poll. But for this to happen we will also need to hold a frank and open discussion about the issues that plague this country, and how our leaders will be held accountable on gaining office, whichever part of the country they hail from.


One way of breaking free of the usual and unhelpful north-south back and forth would be for the opposition to nominate a candidate from among one of our politically marginalized ethnic groups.  Indeed, this is a goal shared by a number of Nigerian NGOs, including Njiko Igbo, which is not affiliated to any political party but is instead dedicated to promoting a candidate from amongst the Igbo population.


Ultimately, I am hoping that Nigeria can move past the divisiveness that has held us back.  As Albert Einstein once said, “the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” I’m sure that I am far from alone among Nigerians in hoping that our leaders can change the way they think of the future, too.


Chief (Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu is a former two-term governor of Nigeria’s Abia State and Chairman of SLOK Holdings.

Nigerian Legislators  are the highest pay lawmakers in the world

"IN TIMES of austerity awarding yourself a big fat pay rise is not generally considered a good idea. A new report that proposes a salary increase for Britain's members of Parliament while wages for ordinary Britons are stagnating, is, therefore, a sensitive matter. The report is the result of a consultation by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, a regulatory body that was set up in the wake of a 2009 scandal that revealed the extent to which MPs were bending (or breaking) their own generous rules on expenses. Under the new recommendations, MPs' basic salaries would rise from £66,396 ($105,400) to £74,000 in 2015, but they would lose other lucrative perks such as final salary pensions. Britain's legislators currently earn the equivalent of around 2.7 times the country's GDP per person, on a par with many rich countries. Indeed, their basic pay is relatively parsimonious when compared with that of their compatriots elsewhere. Lawmakers in poorer countries in Africa and Asia in particular enjoy the heftiest salaries by this measure. Kenyan MPs, known for their largesse, were recently stymied in an attempt to increase their salary from $75,000 to $120,000 a year. In Thailand, the governing party's MPs are paid more than those of the opposition." - Economist



The jumbo salary being paid the country’s legislators, which ranked the highest in the world, according to a new study, has attracted sharp criticisms from Nigerians across the country, including economists and lawyers.


A report by The Economist magazine revealed that Nigerian federal legislators with a basic salary of $189,500 per annum (N30.6m) were the highest paid lawmakers in the world.


Quoting data from the International Monetary Fund and The Economist magazine of London, the study looked at the lawmakers’ basic salary as a ratio of the Gross Domestic Product per person across countries of the world.


According to the report, the basic salary (which excludes allowances) of a Nigerian lawmaker is 116 times the country’s GDP per person of $1,600.


The $189,500 earned annually by each Nigerian legislator is estimated to be 52 per cent higher than what Kenya legislators, who are the second highest paid lawmakers, earned.


An Associate Professor of Economics at the Ekiti State University, Dr. Abel Awe, said the lawmakers’ jumbo salary was indicative of the huge gap between the poor and the rich as well as between the ruler and the ruled.


He said it was unfortunate that the country was running the costliest democracy in the world.


Awe said, “This is part of the reason why 70 per cent of the nation’s budget is allocated to re-current expenditure. We are using a huge chunk of the nation’s resources to service just less than 1,000 people in a country of over 160 million people.


“We are running the costliest democracy in the world.  We can’t develop this way when we spend huge money to service a few people. How will you get money for productive activities to expand the economy? An average Nigerian cannot access good medical care, good roads and other basic things of life when the legislators are smiling to the bank.


“This democracy is satanic. We have to review this democracy. The cost of maintaining the lawmakers is outrageous. What they are taking is too much.”


An economist, Mr. Henry Boyo, said the study had shown clearly that the cost of governance in Nigeria was very high.


Boyo, who noted that the cost of governance was predicated on the provisions of the Constitution, said it was high time Nigerians cried against the bloated cost of governance.


He said, “Our legislators’ actions or salaries are actually accommodated by the Constitution. In the past, we had less money and we had enough as a country. People are asking for a change of Constitution.


“It is unfortunate that it is the people who will do it that are the ones in charge. The legislators will not vote against themselves.”


The Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said although Nigeria remained a complex environment, that did not justify excessive wages.


“We cannot underestimate what it takes to bring law and order to a state that has been in a virtual state of anarchy for years, but there’s no justification for excessive compensation,” he said.


The Chief Research Analyst, Stakes Capital, Mr. Sanyaolu Kehinde, said this was an obvious case of how politicians were running government.


He said, “There’s nothing to justify the amount these people are earning because we don’t see the work they are doing. It also exposes the fact that we don’t value work. We prefer to reward work not done. The Nigerian politician is not service-driven.


“If we have 12 elections in one year, I can assure you that we will still not have good leaders because the system is faulty. The number of people who are not service-driven in Nigeria is high. There are only a few good people in Nigeria, very few people are left who are not thinking about themselves.”


The Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the legislators had created “a big hole” in the nation’s treasury.


Ubani, who scored the legislators low on output, said they had failed to justify their fat pays, adding that their submissions in both legislative chambers “are at variance with that of sovereign Nigerians.”


He called on Nigerians “to decide whether we need both Houses, and if yes, whether on part time or full time basis.”


Ubani said, “This is a fact already and well known to Nigerians and the world. It is not a new story. What is baffling is that their legislative output is not commensurate to the amount of salaries and allowances they are earning.


“Take for instance, the ongoing constitution amendment. Their propositions and submissions on almost all the important clauses are at variance with that of the sovereign Nigerians. Both Houses have created a big hole on our national treasury.”


On his part, human rights lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, lamented the wide disparity between the earnings of the citizens and their legislators, who according to him, are the idlest, yet earn the most in the world.


He said what was obtainable in Nigeria was a parody of democracy whereby the ruling class earned well but preferred to subject the issue of N18,000 minimum wage to debate.


Aturu said, “We are running a parody of democracy in this country. It is a democracy for the rich. The people are getting poorer for building a nation, while the politicians are getting richer for doing nothing. Those who are not creating wealth in the country are sitting on the wealth of the people, and those who are creating the wealth, the workers, are being paid peanuts.


“Can you imagine there is still a raging and scandalous debate among some governors on whether or not to pay N18,000 minimum wage? Yet we are in a nation where the idlest legislators are being paid the highest in the world.”


The National Assembly has, however, rejected the report that its members are the highest paid lawmakers in the world.


While reacting to the report published in The Economist magazine on Monday, the spokespersons of the two chambers of the National Assembly described it as grossly exaggerated.


The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the report was misleading and incorrect.


He said it was easy for anyone to verify what Nigerian lawmakers earned given that such information could be obtained from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.


Abaribe said, “My reaction is that the report is incorrect. It is very easy for anybody to know what we earn by going to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.


“The report is not correct because it did not emanate from the RMAFC, because that is the only body that determines what a lawmaker earns.”


In the same vein, the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, dismissed the report as incorrect.


He said, “Whatever is being written is mere exaggeration and does not reflect what is accurate. They fail to realise that what we take as salaries are different from what we use in running our offices.


“These are two different issues. Most times, people just lump everything together and claim that it is our monthly salary; that is not correct. At the appropriate time, we shall react, because it is not just about the House but the National Assembly. The National Assembly will react at the right time.”


The report had suggested that a Nigerian federal lawmaker earned $189,000 or about N30m annually.


The magazine also published details of the annual salaries of legislators in other countries, some of which include Ghana, $46,500; Indonesia, $65,800; Thailand, $43,800; India, $11,200; Italy, $182,000;  Bangladesh, N4,000; Israel, $114,800; Hong Kong, $130,000; Japan, $149,700; and Singapore, $154,000.

Source: PUNCH


Bilateral relations between China and Nigeria will likely take one of two paths in the long term: either China will remain the overwhelmingly dominant actor or Nigeria will become a regional superpower, evening out the playing field. If China remains the stronger player it will shape Nigeria in its own interests (commonly referred to as "Chinese Imperialism"). If, however, Nigeria rises to reach its economic and political potential, Beijing may one day find Abuja a potential rival in Africa.


China has only recently started to play an important role in Nigeria. During the first eleven years of its independence, Nigeria and China had no diplomatic relations. The Nigerian government's view of China grew especially sour after Mao officially supported the secessionist state in Biafra by supplying the Biafran administration with weapons. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, China was not a trading partner of Nigeria, as its international trade was conducted primarily with European and North American countries.


During the period of General Abacha's military rule (1993-1998), Beijing's no-strings-attached development projects were increasingly well received. Nigeria's leaders grew resentful of Western conditions for aid and investment, and many Nigerians began to question what a generation of economic dependence on the West achieved for Nigeria.


Abuja subsequently adopted a new approach to international trade, balancing traditional Western partners and China. The evolution of Nigerian-Chinese relations mirrors that of China's relationship with other African states (such as Angola, Sudan, and Zimbabwe) that sought alternative forms of aid and development packages following the imposition of sanctions by Western nations based on alleged human rights violations.


Between 2000 and 2010 annual Nigerian-Chinese trade increased nine-fold, from $2 billion to $18 billion. Ten major bilateral agreements concerning commerce, agriculture, tourism and security were signed during that period. Nigeria imported more goods from China in 2012 than it did from the U.S. and India combined (Nigeria's number two and three import partners, respectively). Today, more than 200 Chinese firms operate in Nigeria. While in Beijing last week, Nigerian President Jonathan signed nine memoranda of understanding with the Chinese government. China agreed to provide Nigeria with a soft loan of $1.1 billion loan in exchange for Nigeria agreeing to increase its daily supply of oil to China ten-fold (from 20,000 barrels per day to 200,000) by 2015.


However, in spite of the skyrocketing growth of Nigerian-Chinese trade over the past decade, the U.S. remains Nigeria's top trading partner. Total Nigeria-U.S. trade reached $38.6 billion in 2012, and France (Nigeria's number nine export partner) is a larger export partner of Nigeria than China. So China has a long way to go before it will replace Western nations as one of Nigeria's main trade partners.


Economics is the obvious driver of Beijing's agenda in Nigeria, but China recently embraced a new foreign policy in West Africa that contrasts with its traditionally passive approach to the spread of Islamic terrorism and extremism in Africa. Last year a Chinese diplomat in Mali pledged support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)'s military campaign to dislodge Al Qaeda-affiliate groups in northern Mali. In May of this year, Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong spoke before the UN Security Council and asserted that African nations should not combat extremism without foreign support. He noted that Beijing "resolutely supports" West African governments and international organizations (such as ECOWAS) in their battle against militant Islamist extremism.


While China's number one concern in West Africa is access to natural resources and new consumer markets - as it is in the rest of Africa and the world -- Beijing sees the rise of groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) as a threat to energy corridors and regional stability, and thus, a threat to vital Chinese national interests. As Nigeria is the dominant military force within ECOWAS, a growing partnership between Beijing and Abuja may be expected, and will clearly contain political undertones.


Yet several factors threaten the prospects for deeper ties between Nigeria and China. Although Chinese investors maintain a reputation for being less risk-averse than most, the conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram increases political risk for all foreign investors there. The violence has thus far been contained to Nigeria's Muslim-majority regions in the north; the bloodshed has not yet spread to Lagos. If the turmoil spills into Lagos and other southern areas, Chinese investors may well adjust their calculus.


During the presidency of Ọbasanjọ (1999-2007), many "oil-for-infrastructure" contracts were implemented, yet when his successor (Yar'Adua) came to power, some of these were canceled or suspended, as the two administrations pursued different approaches toward China. While many Nigerians consider China's growing presence to be nothing short of a God send, others have raised concerns about Nigerian sovereignty, bearing in mind the impact Chinese trade and investment has had on other African countries. The Chinese model of importing its own workers to build infrastructure projects, for example, does not sit well with many Nigerians.


A number of Nigerians have also voiced objections to the "slave-like" labor conditions in Chinese-operated factories across Nigeria. Attention was first brought to these conditions when 37 Nigerian workers died after being trapped inside a locked Chinese-owned factory that caught fire in 2002. Nigeria's trade unions have similarly complained that the ramp up in Chinese imports have eliminated more than 350,000 manufacturing jobs, primarily in the textile sector. Much of the bilateral trade is also "off the record", given that many Chinese imports arrive in Nigeria via the porous borders that Nigeria shares with its neighbors. This exacerbates the already problematic level of corruption in Nigeria.


In spite of all this, Nigerian-Chinese economic ties can be expected to continue to grow. China's dependency on Middle Eastern oil and gas is a grave concern for Beijing, given the rising political uncertainty in the region, and rising political risks for foreign investors. In this context, a deeper partnership with Nigeria, the world's 13th biggest producer of crude oil, provides China with a more diverse set of options for acquiring oil and gas.


Despite all the concerns voiced by certain constituencies within Nigeria, most Nigerians recognize that China's growing presence is likely more beneficial than harmful. Western powers that claim a desire to help Nigeria develop are often perceived as insincere, with their own aid being viewed as an infringement on Nigeria's sovereignty, since it often comes with strings attached. In this respect, China is seen as non-hypocritical and more respectful of the African peoples' aspirations to manage their own affairs without fear of meddling by a foreign power.


The Nigerian government also understands that China's growing presence in the country will not inevitably provide solutions to the plethora of domestic challenges Nigeria faces, from grinding poverty to indigenous violent political movements. In the end, it accepts that China's number one objective is meeting China's strategic interests. At least China is up front about saying so.


An old Nigerian proverb states that "a man cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity". The growing economic partnership with China provides average Nigerians with reason for optimism about their own plans for prosperity. It is President Jonathan's job to successfully direct the influx of Chinese money and resources to the benefit of Nigeria's masses, rather than to a powerful and influential few. His chances of doing so are not good, however, until the political culture changes in Abuja and beyond. But Beijing knows it has a strengthening relationship with one of Africa's most important countries. The bilateral relationship between the two may yet serve as a model for China's growing influence throughout Africa.


*Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions, a cross-border risk advisory firm, and author of the book "Managing Country Risk". Giorgio Cafiero is a research analyst with CRS based in Washington, D.C.

Texas-Sized Nigeria Will Have More People Than US by 2050 AND IT MIGHT OVERTAKE CHINA IN ANOTHER CENTURY


(NEWSER) – The UN's new population forecast for the world has some eye-popping figures, especially about Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. Its charts show that Nigeria, about the size of Texas, will surpass the entire US in population by 2050, reports the Guardian. By 2100, it is expected to have an astonishing 1 billion people and be poised to overtake China, writes Max Fisher in the Washington Post. (The latter country will be shrinking and likely headed for a demographic nightmare.) As for the African continent, it "will see a population explosion nearly unprecedented in human history," he adds.




The biggest nation in 2100, however, is expected to be India, with a population somewhere around 1.5 billion. But its growth will level off around 2065—meaning Nigeria looks on track to be No. 1 in the subsequent decades. As for the US, its growth will rise slowly but steadily over the century and should be around 500 million by 2100. The world's overall population, now at 7.2 billion, is expected to be at 11 billion by then.

One hundred years of the Nigeria nation is gone. Perhaps, another one hundred is ahead. The managers of the Nigerian state have called for celebrations. There will be pomp and pageantry, gala nights and award dinners, lotteries and beauty contests.  A centenary of the Nigerian nation should however call for more sober reflections of hundred years of opportunities lost, potential unfulfilled and generations wasted. There are far many more things to be sober about on Nigeria than what we have to celebrate. Some will say that we still do have a nation united despite our history of ethnic and political schisms.  These are the politicians talking, the few who are reaping disproportionate economic benefits from the weakness or the “near-failed” nature of the Nigerian state and its weak institutions.  How many unfulfilled potential can we count?  A state, whose people have been getting doctorate degrees in medicine and law from prestigious universities like Oxford since 1898, yet has some of the lowest quality of university education in Africa, with no Nigerian university among the top 5000 in the world.  The Nigerian state that gave Malaysia its first seeds of palm oil in the 1960s yet now has to import or smuggle palm oil from the same country. Groundnut pyramids of Kano are gone, cocoa is gone, and cotton is gone and replaced by an oil industry largely on the sea that has done little to create employment for the mass of our youths.


The unfulfilled potential of our resources is even more illustrated by contrasting us with the United Arab Emirates which has leveraged its oil resources to diversify and modernise its economy to match the best of the western world. Therefore, resources do not necessarily have to be a curse. It could be a blessing if a nation state is blessed with the fortune of good rulers, true statesmen who govern for the common good and put the nation first. Nigeria has however had the misfortune in its hundred years of being a state with few statesmen.  The late Papa Alfred Rewane, lamenting the unfulfilled potential of the Nigerian state, had to say during his lifetime that, “Yesterday (at independence), we prayed for a better tomorrow; but today, we now pray for a better yesterday”. A centenary celebration of the Nigerian state therefore has to be more introspective than beauty contests, march pasts and award dinners. It must ask the fundamental question, “Why would the next 100 years of Nigeria be different from the last hundred?” Would those who are members of this state in the next hundred years look on this generation with kindness that we laid a foundation for a better centenary or would they refer to us as another generation wasted  just like those before us?  History has a way of defining a mission for each generation depending on the turn of history to which it finds itself. Perhaps, it is not an accident that we happen to be the generation at the centenary of the Nigerian state.  If we therefore reduce a centenary celebration to gala nights, march pasts and beauty contests, we would have missed an historic opportunity to fulfill a generation mission of tilting the ship of the Nigerian state on a new course of progress.


In this essay, we highlight some of the things that must be done to make the next centenary different from the current one. We expect to provoke some sober reflections and challenge more patriots to change the current paradigm of the celebration of the Nigerian centenary.  First, we must build a more inclusive society where every citizen matters, have an opportunity to make it and fulfil her God-given potential. Today, the Nigerian state is increasingly becoming an opposite of this. What is the essence of thumping our chest that we are the biggest black nation on earth when the largest majority of our people cannot fulfil their potential or are just barely existing only in number and add no serious value to society? We must deal with the social exclusion mechanisms through institutionalised political and economic  arrangements that make it difficult to climb the social ladder or even have real choices and voice in the  way society is governed.  In a young country, where the majority of our citizens are below the age of 30, investment in the youths and their education must be a top priority to liberate the potential of our largest majority. Access to good and quality education is one of the biggest social exclusion mechanisms in Nigeria. The education of the youths must be matched with an inclusive economic arrangement that recognises that the youths must find gainful work to fulfil their potential and add value to society.  So much has been written around this, the need for a strong formal vocational and technical education system that produces young graduates that are truly employable in industry or can work as small vocational businesses supporting big businesses in their economic value chain. The German education system in a strong organic link with industry has been built around this principle. It has enabled Germany to keep its youths gainfully employed with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe.


Inclusive economic arrangement also implies a more inclusive financial system where many more citizens have access to financial service and all its benefits. Financial services and the banking system are the bedrock and blood of the modern economy. If more than half of our citizens continue to be excluded from this service, they will be unlikely to fulfil their God-given potential and add their best value to society.  Banking penetration and access to credit must improve.  Brazil found its own way to democratise access to financial service and credits for its initially excluded majority and it became one of the strongest economies in the world. Brazil had similar social structures like Nigeria, a very unequal society with extreme wealth on one side of society and extreme poverty and misery on the other. However, by democratising the financial system, public-private sector housing programmes and improving access to property titles as collaterals to access financial credit for the its large majority, it liberated its people from poverty and misery.  In this centenary period, we need to introspect on the progress we have made in building a more inclusive financial system, consolidate the gains made and publicly debate what else is standing in the way to improve the pace of this critical initiative.


On the political front, we must deal with institutionalised political exclusion mechanisms that offer no real democratic choices for the people.  Weak political parties with poor internal democracies exclude the true will of the party rank and file and ultimately true democratic choices at elections.  Unless the party rank and file can freely choose their representatives and present such to the electorate in a free and fair election, we will continue to have a “selectocracy” rather than a democracy.  Unless the people can find their voice and choose their leaders in a free and fair electoral process, we will have to kiss good governance and responsible government a perpetual good bye in Nigeria. This is because the only incentive for politicians to act responsibly and govern well is the fear of losing elections. At the turn of this new centenary, we must therefore strengthen our electoral process and the political institutions that will make our elections truly what they are supposed to be, with the plurality of choices that capture the diversity of patriotic ideas in the nation.  To do this, the Independent National Electoral Commission and its future successors and the courts must be able to sanction the breach of internal party democracies.  Other things to be done  to strengthen the electoral process, make the INEC  truly independent of the executive including special sanctions for electoral offences are contained in the Uwais panel electoral reform report. At this historic turn of Nigeria’s next centenary, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly to summon the necessary courage to put our democratic process on a new progressive trajectory by implementing the Muhammadu Uwais panel report.


- Akanmu, a corporate executive wrote from  Lagos, Nigeria.     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A woman who could be considered Africa's Oprah Winfrey is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly every country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class.


Mosunmola "Mo" Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and change how viewers perceive the continent. The network's programming tackles women's daily life subjects — everything from sex tips to skin bleaching.


"Not every African woman has a pile of wood on her head and a baby strapped to her back!" the glamorous 48-year-old told The Associated Press from a hotel's penthouse floor against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and high-rise buildings flanked by palm and almond trees.


"We watch Hollywood as if all of America is Hollywood," she said. "In that same vein we need to start selling the good bits of Africa."


Months of work to provide original content includes the flagship program "Sistaz!" about two Greek-Nigerian sisters and a British-born Nigerian friend who check into the Eko Hotel for a holiday reunion and rediscover the passion of sisterhood and the vibrant city of Lagos.



"It helps show that you can go to Africa for a holiday, you can go to Nigeria on holiday, you can go to Lagos" and enjoy a vacation, Abudu said of the much-maligned Nigerian financial capital that is much improved since the country transitioned from military dictatorship to civilian rule in 1999.


The characters are as cosmopolitan as Abudu, a tall and elegant woman with sculpted cheekbones. She was born in London, came to Nigeria when she was a youngster and returned to Britain after her father died when she was 12. She returned to settle when she married a Nigerian at age 28.


Once her children were in their teens, Abudu, a former executive with the oil giant Exxon-Mobil, abandoned a 20-year career in human resources in 2006 to become a self-taught television talk show host. "Moments with Mo" became the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional TV and also is aired in Britain on a Sky TV channel.


She has interviewed celebrities from Hillary Rodham Clinton, former African presidents F. W. de Klerk of South Africa and John Kufuor of Ghana, former England soccer skipper Rio Ferdinand, musician R. Kelly and American fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg.


In this photo taken on Friday, June 28, 2013, Mo Abudu, chief executive officer of EbonyLife TV, speaks to Associated Press during an interview in Lagos, Nigeria. Mo Abudu, who could be considered Africa's Oprah Winfrey, is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly every country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class. Mosunmola "Mo" Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and change how viewers perceive the continent. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

In this photo taken Sunday June 30, 2013, Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, left, and Mo Abudu, chief executive officer of EbonyLife TV pose for photographers during the launch of Africa’s first global black entertainment network in Lagos, Nigeria. Mo Abudu, who could be considered Africa's Oprah Winfrey, is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly every country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class. Mosunmola "Mo" Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and change how viewers perceive the continent. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)Steve Forbes Editor-In-Chief of FORBES with Mosunmola "Mo" Abudu in Lagos, Nigeria. Photos:AP

A telling moment for Abudu came she was standing at London's Marble Arch and decided, on a whim, to ask people what came to their minds when they heard the word Africa.


The answers ranged from Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's dictatorial ruler of 33 years, the British charity Oxfam and famine to babies with flies on their faces. "The nicest thing I heard was 'sunshine,'" said an appalled Abudu.


Years later, she is setting out to transform that vision by shining a bright light on the so-called "dark continent's" riches — its super-talented young entrepreneurs, fabulous art scene, up-and-coming fashion designers, provocative authors and sassy musicians.


One program is hosted by rhythm and blues artist Banky W and singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage. Their first program discusses why more and more Nigerian women are bleaching their skins and whether men prefer lighter-skinned black women.


So the network will not ignore some of the darker sides of Africa's realities, though Abudu promises "a different reality."


It will feature a specially commissioned movie, "New Horizons," from award-winning filmmaker Tope Oshin Ogun that bares the plight of women across the continent subjected to domestic abuse, a prevalent crime that is not often addressed.


And radio host Oreka Godis stars in "Love Lounge," where she will ask the cheeky questions for which she is known of sexologists, life coaches and psychotherapists.


While Nollywood movies also are notorious for often poor quality, though this is improving, Abudu aims for the highest quality in a network she hopes will eventually be broadcast beyond Africa to the millions in the diaspora.


"What we say is 'Everything you think you know about Africa is about to change,'" Abudu said.

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