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Monday, 04 October 2010 03:20

What Africa Needs from the West

Africa must take the lead

At Glenglades in Scotland 2005, the G8 nations under the leadership of former Prime minister of Britain, Mr. Blair proposed to increase foreign aid to African countries to the tune of $50 billions in the next decades. The G8 nations pledged to effectuate debt remission for most highly indebted nations in the developing nations. Fourteen nations in African benefitted from the program after completing austere structural programs and having graduated to completion points approved by their creditors and International Monetary Fund (IMF). But many African countries were left behind because they cannot meet the difficult requirements and structural modalities for the program.

The G8 nations at that point mapped out modalities for the proposed foreign aid, and Tony Blair formed an organization of eminent personalities including Bono, President Obasanjo, Geldof, Kofi Annan with Bill Gates as the chairman - to monitor G8 nations in their pursuit of redeeming the pledge.

The G8 has not absolutely fulfilled her pledge to Africa. But the level of Africa’s ills cannot ordinarily be wished away by mere increase in aid support. Aid is not an engine of development, rather its impact is short term and sometimes it can be a barrier to economic development because of the attached strings. Africa needs to trade and industrialize her economy for effective participation on international stage.

First and foremost, the procedural disbursement of aid from government to government does encourage corruption. Financial aid disbursement must be modified to go directly to the poor citizens and wealth creating enterprise and small businesses. As for debt remission, Africa received $540 billion loans between 1970-2002, she paid back $550 billion (i.e. principal with interest inclusive) and she still owned $295 billion as at the end of 2002.

AFRIPOL to this end is canvassing and looking forward to having a situation where the entire Africa‘s foreign debt will be written off unconditionally in order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving global poverty by 2015. There is no gainsaying that Africa has not paid enough dues even with all the litany of problems confronting the continent.

Beyond aid and debt remission, the West should ask, what does Africa really need from us?

Empowerment to foster Freedom and Liberty:

Africans must live in the system of government that encourages freedom and justice. The respect for fundamental human rights must be instituted and adhered to; an environment that provides self-help, self-improvement and self-innovation must be encouraged. Only freedom can make these things possible and make free enterprise a reality, so that free people can create wealth and advance human dignity.

The West must encourage and support governance that accommodates checks and balances in Africa. This will in turn provide accountability and respect for the populace. What Africa needs mostly include, elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of virile/free political platform and economy, rule of law and respect for individual rights. All these things do border on fundamental issues which foreign aid alone cannot redress. Until these issues are properly put right, the story of the optimum utilization of these billions of dollars from foreign aid will always remain a mirage.

Anti-corruption legislation:

The responsibility of fighting corruption is too complex and gigantic to be left for one party. Both Africa and West must partake in the fight against corruption. The West must enact banking laws that will fish out bankers that accept laundered money and tainted wealth from corrupt African leaders and bureaucrats. Ill-gotten wealth must be returned to Africa without much ado, while the culprits must be exposed and prosecuted.

The West must work together with African governments on the war against corruption and bribery. Corporations and Transnational companies operating in Africa must not induce politicians and bureaucrats by bribes in their quest for contracts.

“African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa, (which the African experts group recommended in 2002 should be classified as a ‘crime against humanity’ because of its impact on ordinary people), are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London or the discreet personal bankers of Geneva and Zurich."

Elimination of wars and Promotion of Peace and conflict resolutions:

The West can work with African union in finding solutions to the cessation of conflicts and wars. Wars (especially internal strife) are ubiquitous in the continent. Some African governments and warmongers commit their resources to executing endless wars. The West must frown upon the sell of arms to these parties by checkmating their native’s arms industries.

Fair and Balance Trade:

The West must encourage fair and equitable trade with Africa. The giving of aid must not be the only means to defeat poverty and alleviate quality of life in Africa. The promotion of trade can be possible when concessions are made to infant industries in Africa. The West can improve technological developments by investing in areas of science and technology that can sharpen the technical-know-how in the continent. The West must stand for fair trade at the World trade organization by conscientiously removing agricultural subsidies given to their own agricultural sectors that adversely affect the traffic of commodities from Africa. Only trade can be the panacea to poverty in Africa, this will by and large booster a higher GDP and a decent standard of living.

Africa must embark on the area of trade specialization where she has the greatest comparative advantage. It seems that agriculture is the best possible for Africa. The Western World must take the initiative of reducing trade tariffs and removal of agricultural subsidies. By this, developing nations and poor countries especially in Africa can participate and compete favorably with the West. In practice, free trade must be made to work for every nation. World trade Organization must implement trade policies that are doable, workable and all-inclusive. Foreign aid is good and dandy, though on the contrary, history has always proven that aid has slightly or insignificantly improvement  on recipient nations nor ameliorate the well-beings of the fabric of the needy class at the long run. Foreign aid can be given via reduction in prices of medicine, pharmaceutical equipment and of essential commodities needed for survival in the less technological nations. We cannot downplay the role of foreign aid when fully utilized, when it goes to the required projects that ought to impact the needy positively. But Africa core need is beyond these immediate measures.

August 28, 2009

 

 

Friday, 01 October 2010 06:08

NIGERIA IS FIFTY YEARS

AS THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

NATIONAL ANTHEM OF NIGERIA

Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey

To serve our fatherland

With love and strength and faith

The labor of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace and

unity.

 

Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause

Guide our leaders right

Help our youth the truth to know

In love and honesty to grow

And living just and true

Great lofty heights attain

To build a nation where peace and justice

shall reign.

 

 

THE NATIONAL PLEDGE

 

I pledge to Nigeria my country

To be faithful, loyal and honest

To serve Nigeria with all my strength

To defend her unity and uphold her honor and glory

So help me God.

 

Lead Image The Past And The Present Presidents and Head of States: (L to R) Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ernest Shonekan, Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Yakubu Gowon, Shehu Shagari and Muhammad Buhari. Photo: NEXT

Nigeria is 50 years today and the anniversary is filled with festivities. Nigerians deserved to sit down, reflect and look back on this amazing journey. Nigeria has made her mistakes but also have moments of joy and happiness. On the day the first president of Nigeria, The late RT. Honourable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe saluted as Nigerian flag was hoisted and national anthem was played, Nigerians never anticipated that the journey would have been rocky with troubles and tribulations. Nigeria experienced civil war, military coups, IMF's austerity measures, depravity, corruption and many others. But in spite of all these, our great country is still standing and for this we shall thank God.

Nation-building is an arduous and difficult exercise. The path to Nigerian project was not easy rather paved with complexity. Sometime the vision of greatness is realized, while in some cases it ended in futility. Nigeria is not exempted from the mistakes and errors of nation building. We as a nation have missed many opportunities and have gone astray. Nigeria has abandon the noble cause of being her Brother's keeper and have become selfish and egomania.

Nigerian youths the most important human resources and human capital have been neglected and they are not properly educated and fed. The odds against them are mountainous and cumbersome.  Without positive and credible role models, Nigerian youths have nearly gone the path of emptiness but they continue to triumph and beat the odds. The leaders have disappointed the Nigerian citizens and have not done the right thing. The people are quick to point accusing fingers to the leaders while they dwell in their own moral laxity.

The infrastructures have deteriorated to a point that Nigerians do not have adequate health facilities, safe drinkable water and  are now living in semi-darkness bedeviled with the electricity shortage. The educational facilities were almost destroyed that some of the graduates are carrying around empty degrees. Nigeria cannot provide jobs to the citizens and poverty has become almost universal in the Nigerian world. The climax is lack of security in the country - kidnapping and robbery have become the most lucrative enterprise for the youths.

Nigeria has her triumphs; Nigerians continue to co-exist as a nation in spite of the naysayers. Many have labeled Nigeria a failed state, but ordinary men and women of goodwill in Nigeria continue to believe in the Nigerian project. These hardworking Nigerians wake up in the morning everyday and thank God and go on living. They raised their children by eking out a living and they hope for a better Nigeria. These average Nigerians make a way where there is no way. They continue to pray for their country and hope that things will get better. These are our patriots and shining amours, for their devotion and commitment to Nigeria is without comparison. To all these men and women; we salute and raise our caps.

Our time for revival and transformation has come and Nigeria cannot afford to fail.  Africa and world needs Nigeria to make it and reclaim her giant of African status. Nigeria has the natural and human resources to become one of the most relevant nation in the 21st century.

A task for our leaders and citizens of Nigeria is to envision a nation of freedom, liberty, equality unity and justice. We can make our country even greater, when we work together, dream together and live together. Nigeria! the sky is your limit and your next fifty years can be more promising and more fulfilling by living according to your national anthem and pledge -  by building a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

 

Happy Anniversary and  May God Bless Nigeria!

 

 

 

 

Monday, 20 September 2010 13:18

Dr. Kase Lawal Receives Appointment

 

Kase Lawal Receives Obama Administration Appointment

Houston, Texas, September 20, 2010/Afripol (press release): President Obama has appointed Kase Lawal, Chairman and CEO of Camac International Corporation, to a distinguished advisory panel on international trade policy.

Dr. Lawal is one of 30 appointees to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation (ACTPN) announced by the White House. The committee, which is made up of a broad spectrum of industry, government, labor and environmental representatives, provides guidance on trade matters.

“It is an honor to serve President Obama as a member of this Advisory Committee,” Lawal said. “I remain dedicated to opening markets throughout the world and lending my expertise to shape policies and strengthen opportunities.”

For many years, Lawal has been very active in developing international trade relations, particularly with Africa. Previously, Dr. Lawal served as a member of the United States Presidential Trade Advisory Committee on Africa during the Bush and Clinton Administrations. Additionally, he has participated in several trade missions to Africa and served on the Board of Directors of the Corporate Council on Africa.

Committed to community service, Dr. Lawal provides leadership on several boards and commissions, including the Port of Houston Authority, the Houston Airport System Development Corporation, Fisk University, the National Urban League and the Greater Houston Partnership. He established endowments at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering and at Texas Southern University to form the Lawal Center for Global Trade. He is also the Chairman of Allied Energy Corporation, Vice Chairman of the Unity National Bank Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Board for CAMAC Energy, Inc., a U. S.-based, energy company, publicly traded on the NYSE Amex.

A copy of the official announcement released by the White House can be found on the Office of the Press Secretary's website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/15/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts-0

About CAMAC

Founded in 1986, CAMAC (www.camac.com) specializes in oil and gas exploration & production, trading and engineering consulting.  CAMAC is headquartered in Houston with offices located in Abuja, Johannesburg, Lagos and London.  In 2009, CAMAC earned revenues of approximately US$1.5 billion.

 

SOURCE CAMAC International

http://www.camac.com

 

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 05:00

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.

 

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.

 

 

Nigeria’s economy is churning along after the problems of liquidity and banking sector meltdown that nearly crushed the financial market. The economy is progressively in recovery and it looks like the confidence of Nigerian consumer is gradually rebounding. But we cannot say for sure the exact figure because quantification of confidence has not been documented nor recorded. All the economic indicators are pointing in affirmative and right direction. Therefore the economy can be say to be relatively healthy, the key economic indicators including the inflation rate is at 11% in the month of May. The increasing inflationary pressure which subsided from 12.5% to 11% year-on-year is a good response and these recent indices were documented by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The food price inflation also came down in the second quarter from 14.3% in to 12.3, a sign that the gripping hands of inflation around the economy is waning.

Without doubt the monetary policy coming from Sanusi’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has a positive outlook on the economy which has been growing at the rate 7.3% and attracting investments mostly in petroleum sector.

The "revised estimate for real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicates that the economy grew by 7.23 percent first quarter of 2010 as against 6.7 percent it had earlier projected for the quarter." This is impressive compares to the world economy that has been expected to be growing at the rate 3.9 % in 2010 as result of the global recession.

The greatest threat to Nigeria’s standard of living other than inflation is unemployment; even with progressively growing economy at the rate of 7.3% the economy is not producing enough jobs to make a reasonable impact on employment. The Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga stated that unemployment in Nigeria was about 19.7% but financial and economic experts at Afripol Organization quantified that the real unemployment figure might be higher when rural and urban joblessness among the Nigerian youths are factored into equation. The collecting of data on employment will be probably cumbersome, if not difficult in rural areas where modern technology is scare and out of reach.

It must be noted that Nigeria has trade surplus with many western countries including United States at the tune of $5.5 billion. The executive arm of the government must work hard to rectify the inability to successfully implement the federal budget as it was written. As a result of shortfalls from oil revenue, Nigeria proposed issuing bonds of about N867.5 billion to finance its deficit. On the financing of budget deficit including the 2010 current expenditure the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo reminded Nigerians that government is now borrowing from the capital market and particularly by issuing bonds to raise money. On borrowing Dr. Nwankwo did emphasis that: "Borrowing is a normal feature of all economies. Nigeria is currently one of the lowest in terms of ratio of debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Products). This does not mean Nigeria is doing well, as what is more important is whether the proceeds is being used judiciously." Therefore it is imperative that borrowed money or any money allotted for the budget is prudently utilized in its implementation.

President Jonathan reaffirmed the deficit issue on the letter he wrote to the lawmakers: "Specifically, recent revenue developments indicate significant shortfalls in both oil and non-oil revenue which may well continue for the rest of the fiscal year with adverse implications for the financing of the budget. Consequently, given the recent drop in international oil prices from over US$80 per barrel to under US$70 per barrel; it is prudent to revise the oil bench mark price to a more realistic level." He further states that, "The 2010 budget was predicated on a revenue benchmark of $67 per barrel of crude oil. But in his letter to the Senate, President Jonathan asked it to "revise downwards the aggregate level of expenditure from the N4.608billion approved in the 2010 Appropriation Act and adjust the budget details accordingly."

Daily Trust editorial, added: "In a bid to balance the budget, the federal government has also resolved to borrow from domestic and foreign sources. The 2010 budget will receive $500 million USD (N75 billion) from international bonds and has projected to borrow N897.3 billion from an already ailing domestic financial system. Several banks in the country have for several months survived on life line provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but the federal government still expects to suck such huge amount to finance the budget deficit."

The manufacturing sector recorded a lower output from " 7.03 percent in 2009 to 6.43 percent in 2010" due to lack of electric power and paucity of credit. Nigerian manufacturers do import a reasonable amount of raw materials from abroad and foreign exchange becomes an impediment to free flow of raw materials coupled with the government higher tariffs.

Mr Aganga, Nigerian minister of finance and a former managing editor at Goldman Sachs expected the economy to grow at 10 percent by 2012. According to him, Nigeria is making the requistive moves especially with rebuilding of the infrastructure, diversification and privatisation to ensure the positive economic growth.

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.

 

 

Africa is confronted with lack of internal security which becomes a deterrent force in the economic advancement of the continent. Capital flight and low foreign investment are the precipitates and ramification of the insecurity.

Beyond the fundamental security motivation of the exercise: "For the U.S., however, AFRICOM will be more than a military exercise. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it will feature a unique interagency mix (NPR), combining intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts. That suggests to many a more robust effort to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa, to encourage democratic and market economic reforms, as well as to prevent states from collapsing and providing fertile ground for terrorists. Finally, Africa stands to play an increasingly important role as a supplier of oil to America (National Interest Online) over the next few decades, with some projecting that West Africa's exports to the United States will outstrip the Middle East's by 2015. "

Africa inability to advance economically like the rest of other continents is due to several fundamental reasons; among them is paucity of security infrastructures and apparatus. Africom can play a vital role in contributing to the stabilization of maritime life in Africa. The ships and cargoes transporting commodities and passengers must be able to conduct their businesses in a worry free environment.

The sum total of the African countries and African Union contingency plans for securing the territorial integrity of the continent is minimal and is not meeting up the requisite infrastructure needed to safe guard the continent. In the 21st century world there cannot be advancement in the economic development without adequate security that allow and guarantee passage of goods and services. Africa is beset with instability and ubiquitous intra and inters mêlée that makes free market, trade and capitalism unattractive.

At the horn of Africa, the Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean are not making it easy for passage of ships and cargoes including passengers who have services and expertise to render to Africa. The Africa Union does not have any strategy to safeguard waters of Africa, nor does any African country have the resources and technical know-how to undertake such a complex and gigantic project. The waters of West African coast including Gulf of Guinea, must be secured from armed militia and terrorists who are bent on obstructing oil production in the upstream oil drilling and exploration.

Africom can be a force for good because it can supply the security infrastructures, manpower and technology needed to secure Africa from the danger of pirates and criminals that are making it difficult for normal conduct of maritime business. The resource and money that African countries have devoted and allocated for securing maritime peace can be used for other project in the continent. The point is that Africa will not relinquish her responsibility to Africom but work in concert with Africom in keeping Africa safe from criminal intruder, warmongers and terrorists.

When Africa does experience uncivil eruptions and disturbances that produce exothermic havoc including pogroms, massacre and holocaust in Rwanda, and the on going Sudan problem, Africa lacks the logistic capability to transport manpower to the danger point. Africom can be of great aide in such situation and can be become a combatant force to arrest ugly situations and developments that have the potential to escalate to a monstrous dimension that can demolish massive life and property like in Rwanda massacre.

When Africa achieved a quantifiable peace the flow of investment and capital becomes more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors which can halt capital flight. Africom can be a constructive partner in this endeavor without jeopardizing African territorial integrity.

The psychology of trust

It is said, "Once bitten, twice shy." Africans cannot be blame for being skeptical about the latest development because of her antecedent history with outsiders. Slavery and colonialism legacy still permeates the continent's reaction and psychology to new ideas and developments including the presence of Africom. But Africa cannot dwell in the past, for the time has come for Africa to seize new opportunity and take reasonable risk in order to further her interest and facilitate stability in her geopolitical landscape. Africa can be able to forge strategic alliance with America and Africom. All things being equal, America has done a lot of good things in Africa. United States is an exceptional nation in that she has no colonial ambition and can be a catalyst partner for economic development in Africa. The emergence of President Obama, an African America is exemplary of the goodwill to Africa which can encourage confidence building for Africans.

Freedom and prosperity

America has to work succinctly to assiduously allay their fears and show to Africans the benefits of Africom. This must be done with goodwill and civility while respecting African territorial integrity.

Peace and tranquility are good for business for all the parties concerned which can be achieved through dialogue and understanding. To this end, American diplomats in Africa have to embark on thorough enlightenment campaign. Africa needs stability and quantifiable peace for economic progress and Africom can contribute to the endeavor.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a nation might as well be the destiny of a nation. Nigeria's disfigured image in the global village has become an insignia of dishonest, dishonor and disrespect; this is outright humiliation of a nation of almost 150 million people. Majority of Nigerians are industrious, God-fearing and law abiding people. But a tiny minority is destroying the image of the country and the governance ineptitude is adding salt to the injury.

Consequentially, Nigeria is in self-doubt, bedeviled with nihilism, lethargy and encompassing corruption. Now comes the climax, a Nigerian was associated with terrorism and finally the image of the country is demolished. What Nigeria needs is genuine re-branding and re-alignment that is not cosmetics but rooted in truth, pragmatism and an affirmative change.

"There's no arguing that the image we have of another country says a lot about how we view it as a tourist destination, a place to invest or a source of consumer goods." And the rest of world's perception about Nigeria will affect her pocket and economy because less people will be incline to invest and travel to the country. A nation re-branding is not peculiar to Nigeria; many countries including Germany and Japan were re-branded at the end of Second War World: Now Germany and Japan are known as liberal democracies with peaceful and progressive policies. South Africa was re-branded with an image of gentle and cheerful multicultural country at the end of Apartheid.

The litany of Nigerian sins and misbehaviors are no longer a news to the entire world, as the world have come to see the intractable problems of Nigeria as threat to global financial and economic stability. Nigeria is known for e-mail fraud, manipulation of established standard operations and now for terrorism. The peril of this dented image is taking its toil on the average citizen of Nigeria who cannot freely travel nor conduct international business. Nigeria with all the wealth she generated from oil and local revenues cannot provide the basic necessities of life to her populace.

Many Nigerians are quick to point accusing fingers to the country's leadership but fail to see themselves as part and parcel of the unworkable Nigeria. By no means, nobody is excluding the elite and ruling class from the generated mess but the masses cannot fold their hands and anticipate a change to initiate itself. The average Nigerians must also shoulder some responsibilities by shunning corruption including coming to work on time and rejecting short /dubious path to wealth accumulation.

There are enduring and lingering ramifications that are associated with poor and disastrous image of a nation. The financial and economic impact is overwhelming especially on the wealth of nation, wealth creation and GDP. The wealth of nation and its creation must involve the attraction of foreign capitals and manpower. No serious capitalist desire to invest his wealth in a nation of untrustworthy people. Subsequently, economic downturn does give rise to mammoth unemployment; that can trigger instability and inability for government to protect lives and properties.

In 21st century of inter connecting world, an image can help to lift up a nation and this is exactly why many nations are very protective of their images. Once an image of a nation is tarnished it becomes an arduous if not an impossible task to reverse the trend. The only hope for Nigeria is that an image of a nation is neither indelible nor etched in stone. For Nigeria it is never too late to commence to make the affirmative moves in the comprehensive transformation of the country's image.

The total transformation of Nigeria's image must be deliberate, coherent and self-evident. This is not going to be superficial, a tinkering at the peripheral with piecemeal characteristics similar to toddler step taken by respectful Dora Akunyili, Nigerian Minister of Information, as she tries to re-brand her country. With all due respect, her tactics of blaming game is self-defeating, incoherent and contradicts her objective. Re-branding and image making of a nation is not a singular act but a collective effort of patriots including men and women of goodwill.

In paper presentation on Vision 2020 Nigerian project, I reiterated the importance of Nigeria's Image Management: "Nigerian policy and decision makers have not certainly explored the power of image making. The image of a nation both abstract and aesthetic speaks a volume of the nation. Nigeria must be able to tell the world that she is ripe for investment and tourism without obstruction. No foreign institutions or countries can tell the world about Nigeria more than Nigerians could do. Nigeria cannot afford to be NAIVE and NONCHALANT."Nigeria must undergo fundamental paradigm change and must be focused on a path of transformation and progress. It is not going to be a picnic nor an ego trip but a deliberate act with superior intellectual power to give birth to a new Nigeria. This is not about hiring international image consultants that will cost millions of dollars.

It is about Nigeria and Nigerians undergoing a candid self examination and making decision to do the right thing for the interest of her citizens, our children and posterity. When the fundamental changes are made, then Nigeria may hire media specialist and spokesperson to tell the story of the new Nigeria to the world. Many well known people of Nigerian heritage including musical superstars Sade, Seal, Slash of Guns and Roses; media star Adaora Udoji and sport stars Christian Okoye, Nnamdi Asomugha, and many others can be employed to be the spokespersons for the country.

Nigeria at this point in time is left with one alternative which is to rebuild her image if she desires to be relevant in geo-political and economic affairs of our shrinking global village. If Nigeria fails to travel the pathway of revival, reawakening and rebirth she will end up becoming a sinking ship and diminishing giant of Africa. Nigeria to be respectful and relevant in 21st century she must rise to the challenge of self transformation and revitalization.

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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