Inside this 1950s-style American diner, waitresses softly sing along to Aretha Franklin as they sling hamburgers and whip up milkshakes. The jukebox belts out Ritchie Valens as a customer wearing a Muslim prayer cap and flowing blue robes ambles in.
This isn't the U.S., where the kitsch restaurant chain Johnny Rockets has several hundred locations, but instead Nigeria, where foreign companies have hesitated to invest because of logistical challenges, poor electricity and government corruption.
Now, however, as Nigeria's middle class grows along with the appetite for foreign brands in Africa's most populous nation, more foreign restaurants and lifestyle companies are entering the country. And the draw on Nigerians' new discretionary spending has also put new expectations on providing quality service in a nation where many have grown accustomed to expecting very little.
Employers prepare hamburgers at Johnny Rockets restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
"It really is impressive to go out to places and see places filled with everybody from all different walks of life," said Christopher Nahman, the managing director at the Johnny Rockets in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos. "Nigerians are a very aspirational society also. Even somebody who it might be really kind of a burden on them financially, they will still do it to just have that experience.
"It's very encouraging moving forward because that's what you need to sustain an economy. ... There's no going back."
The majority of those who live in Nigeria, home to more than 160 million people, live in poverty. Just more than 60 percent of Nigerians earn the equivalent of less than $1 a day, according to a 2012 study published by the country's National Bureau of Statistics. For decades, only tiny sliver of the population either involved in the country's oil industry or its government roundly criticized for corruption had access to wealth.
The end of military rule in 1999 saw the country's economy slowly open up, with new professional jobs being added in banks and the rapidly growing mobile phone market. That gave birth to Nigeria's rapidly growing middle class, whose members earn about $480 between $645 a month and represent nearly a quarter of the country's population, according to a September 2011 study by investment firm Renaissance Capital.
Over time, those figures started to attract businesses who previously hadn't been working in Nigeria. In retail, South African firms have flocked into Nigeria, finding places in the new malls being opened around Lagos. MassMart Holdings Ltd., of which Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, Arkansas, owns a controlling stake, has its Game department there. Supermarket chain Shoprite Holdings Ltd., considered a budget grocer at home in South Africa, draws a more-upscale crowd in Nigeria, where most still shop for food in open-air markets.
The market has drawn U.S. restaurant chains as well. KFC, owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum Brands Inc., has seen a rapid expansion across Nigeria, with 17 restaurants opening across southwest Nigeria. Domino's Pizza Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently had a franchisee open two locations in Lagos as well. Even ice cream seller Cold Stone Creamery of Scottsdale, Arizona, has opened to offer scoops and waffle cones to take the edge off of Nigeria's sweltering heat.
At Johnny Rockets, which sits on Lagos' swanky business-hub Victoria Island across the street from a major hotel frequented by foreigners and dignitaries, the restaurant has a velvet-roped waiting area in the parking lot. Inside, the stainless steel kitchen gleams and customers watch, often with open-mouth fascination, as workers dance each hour to "Hippy Hippy Shake" or another classic song.
The menu of burgers, fries and onion rings has the Nigerian addition of jollof rice, a spicy staple of tables throughout the country. Others coming in have followed — including Domino's, which puts it atop a specialty pizza for the Nigerian market. However, most come for a taste of something different.
That luxury does come at a steep price. A double bacon cheeseburger sells for 3,500 naira, the equivalent of about $22. A vanilla milkshake is 1,800 naira, or $11.25. Yet the service does come with a smile, a song and a bit of spectacle often missing in Nigeria, where customer service can quickly degenerate into exasperated shouts and curses at blank-eyed employees.
"This, obviously, is not an everyday place," said Mimi Ade-Odiachi, a landscape and garden designer dining there recently with a friend. "It's a once in a while, I want to celebrate something small in my life" place.
Despite the possible profits, challenges still remain for these companies. Stores must rely on diesel generators for electricity, as Nigeria's state-run power remains epileptic at best and blackouts can last days. Having adequate supply chains also can prove to be a challenge, as some Nigerian suppliers don't immediately meet Western standards and backlogs at the country's major port in Lagos can be weeks at a time. Corruption also remains rampant at government and regulatory agencies, analysts and private businesses acknowledge, making operating legally with proper accreditation even more difficult.
Still, there's money to be made now and perhaps even more in the future if Nigeria's economy continues to grow along with a burgeoning middle class looking for an escape from the grind of life in the country.
"People don't feel like they're in Nigeria when they come," said Andrew Nahman, a director at Johnny Rockets. "Not necessarily that they have to get away from Nigeria, but it's a different experience all together."
• In recent times, a number of comments and articles have appeared in the media, which have tended to talk down the performance of the Nigerian economy and question the accuracy and transparency of the Excess Crude Account and the External Reserves of the country. It is essential that Nigerians understand the exact position of the economy, and the integrity of these important government accounts. This note aims to provide some facts for Nigerians on these issues, to clarify the exact position, and finally to put these concerns to rest.
• The specific issues that have been raised in recent times include the health and prospects of the Nigerian economy, the composition of the external reserves, and purported discrepancies in account balances reported by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
• First, the Nigerian economy is strong. Our economic performance is robust when viewed against a whole range of objective factors. Inflation is now down to single-digit at 9.0% in January 2013, compared with 12.6% in January 2012. The exchange rate has been relatively stable, and the fiscal deficit at just under 2% of GDP is on a downward trajectory, and below our threshold of 3% of GDP. Our national debt is at a sustainable level at about 19.4% of GDP. Overall, GDP growth for 2012 was 6.5%, and projected at 6.75% for 2013, compared with the projected global growth of 3.5%. The above facts have been independently noted and validated by international ratings agencies (such as Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's) who have upgraded the country's economic outlook, even as other countries are being downgraded. In addition, Nigeria's bonds have recently been included in the Barclays and JP Morgan Emerging Market indices.
• Of course, we recognize the socio-economic challenges which we face as a nation. We know we still have a long way to go but let us keep working to correct what is wrong and stop focusing on the denigration of what is being done right. In this regard, we need to create more jobs for our youth to curb unemployment. Poverty needs to decrease at a faster pace, as we do not want excessive inequality to be a feature of our economic growth. For example, the recent poverty statistics released by National Bureau of Statistics show a slight decline in poverty levels of about 2% between 2003 and 2010. This needs to be further accelerated. The cost of governance also needs to be reduced, and the government is taking steps in this direction. We have reduced the share of recurrent expenditures in the budget from 74% in 2011 to 71% in 2012, and to 68% in 2013. We aim to push for a 60% recurrent and 40% capital budget ratio in the medium term.
• As part of the Transformation Agenda, President Goodluck Jonathan has emphasized the diversification of the economy to promote inclusive growth and create jobs. This is being achieved through investments in agriculture, housing and construction, manufacturing, aviation, power, roads, rail, solid minerals and the information and communication technology (ICT) sectors by both government and the private sector. These sectors are gradually transforming the economy, and creating jobs in the process. The economy is moving in the right direction.
• As noted earlier by the Federal Government, Nigeria's reported level of external reserves is comprised of three parts: the CBN's external reserves, the Excess Crude Account, and the Federal Government's funds belonging to agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for joint venture cash calls and so on. This is simply a matter of definition, and follows international best practices and reporting guidelines. It is thus unnecessary to continue to dwell further on this issue.
• There have also been claims of inconsistency of account balances provided by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN. It is worth noting that the Ministry of Finance typically reports its balances following Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) Meetings, which often take place at the middle of the month, whereas CBN data are reported at the end of each month. There is thus a time lag between the reports from the two institutions. As a result, there are usually some differences due to 'transit items' which are yet to be reconciled in both accounts. In addition, for quite a while, the CBN excess crude reports have included the $1 billion allocated to the Sovereign Wealth Fund as this is still domiciled with the CBN, whereas the Ministry of Finance does not regard it as part of the distributable Excess Crude Account.
• As an example, in Table 1 below, we provide the monthly balances of the Excess Crude account reported by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN for the period June 2012 to January 2013. As can be clearly seen, after accounting for the $1 billion allocated to the SWF, the differences are minor and are the result of time lags in the reporting mentioned earlier. Nigerians should closely examine the table and judge for themselves the reasons for the discrepancy and whether Ministry of Finance and CBN are so muddled in their accounting as some would like to suggest.
• There have also been issues raised regarding the rate of growth of the foreign reserves and the Excess Crude Account. It is worth recalling that the Excess Crude Account was established partly to provide a cushion for the Nigerian economy in times of a global downturn. In this regard, all three tiers of Government, relied on savings in the Excess Crude Account to plug the shortfall in their revenues following the collapse of oil prices in 2008. Moreover, there have been withdrawals from the ECA to pay for petroleum subsidy claims which increased sharply in recent years from N291 billion in 2007 to about N2188 billion in 2011. Finally, there has been the increased loss of oil revenues due to an upsurge in the incidence of illegal crude oil bunkering and oil theft.
• In conclusion, the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to stress that the outlook for the Nigerian economy remains good, despite the current global economic uncertainty. We accept that government should be accountable to their citizens, and transparent to its people in terms of information, particularly regarding public finances. In this regard, we have made efforts to publish revenues allocated to all tiers of government, we have published the Federal Government's budgets down to the last details, and we have published the subsidy reinvestments (SURE-P) payments to all tiers of government. We have also published subsidy payments to oil marketers and further published the names of companies that defrauded the government in the oil subsidy regime. We will continue to make every effort to respond to demands for greater transparency because we believe this lies at the heart of good governance.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-lweala
Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Hon Minister of Finance
Roaring growth and fiscal stability are drawing investment to Nigeria, but it won't trigger the prosperity needed to lift millions out of poverty until the government reforms infrastructure and agriculture. Africa's second largest economy and top oil producer has low debt by international standards and projected growth of around 7 percent for the next four years - a magnet drawing in both foreign direct and portfolio investors.
Oil production continues to attract large inflows. Shares in banks and in firms selling consumer goods to the continent's most populous nation are outperforming emerging market peers. Yet investors remain reluctant to put funds into long term job-creating areas like agriculture or manufacturing until President Goodluck Jonathan makes good on promises to reform things like power, roads and the food industry.
"Investors will only begin to care once it becomes attractive to invest in those sectors so the government has to do their bit first," Renaissance Capital's Sub-Saharan Africa Economist Yvonne Mhango said at a conference last month. "Transforming power and agriculture are long-term challenges," she said, adding that agriculture could attract foreign investors at the earliest "by the end of the decade if all reforms go to plan."
Planned agricultural reforms include direct subsidies for fertiliser handouts to farmers, free mobile phones and some more protectionist measures like higher taxes on food imports. Efforts to fix crumbling roads could have the greatest impact. Agriculture employs around 60 percent of Nigeria's 170 million people, according to the statistics bureau, and makes up 45 percent of GDP, compared with just 15 percent for oil.
Yet it is in a mess. Poor roads mean a lot of produce rots before reaching domestic markets.
FDI ON A HIGH
Nigeria's foreign direct investment (FDI) is projected to continue rising, from $5.8 billion in 2011 to $6.8 billion for last year, once the figures are in, the International Monetary Fund says. The IMF projects FDI to grow to $7.3 billion this year, $8.7 billion next and $9.6 billion in 2015.
Yet much of this investment remains focused on oil and gas, which has never been very good at spreading wealth beyond a corrupt political elite. "For a qualitative shift in FDI to occur, the authorities will need to speed up the implementation of structural reforms," Standard Bank's Samir Gadio said, citing state fuel subsidies and infrastructure as areas that were being reformed too slowly.
Economists have praised tight monetary policy from Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi and austerity measures implemented by former World Bank director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Foreign exchange reserves are at a 4-year high and Nigeria's excess crude account, which saves oil earnings over a benchmark price, has $8 billion in it, more than double when Jonathan took office. Credit rating agencies upgraded Nigeria last year and fixed income investment has soared since Nigerian bonds were included in JP Morgan's emerging market sovereign bond index last year, pushing T-bill yields down almost 5 percent.
Stocks are up almost 18 percent this year.
Despite a decade of fast growth, official figures suggested last year that absolute poverty was worsening, with 60.9 percent of Nigerians - around 100 million people - only able to afford the bare essentials of food, clothing and shelter in 2010, compared with 54.7 percent in 2004.
The World Bank's Vice President for Africa Makhtar Diop late last year said poverty had fallen as low as 46 percent, which could mean official statistics may be too pessimistic. Either way, until investment gets refocused into areas that create jobs, poverty in Nigeria will remain stubbornly high.
Official unemployment is 23 percent and youth unemployment is more than double that, fuelling anger and unrest. "I hear in Lagos they are building skyscrapers and the fat cats are getting richer. That's nice for them," says a frustrated Dauda Yahaya, 33, who runs a small grilled fish restaurant in the northern city Kaduna.
"All I need is for government to provide me with electricity and banks to lend me some small capital but it's impossible. I am someone who could give people jobs but no one is helping."
The year 1914 has a dual significance for the world and Nigeria. For the world because it marked the beginning of the First World War and for our nation because it was the year of the amalgamation of the Colony of Lagos with the Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria to form one Nigeria as we are today.
We may not know how much importance the world attaches to a World War that is fast vanishing in our memory, but Nigerians do recognise that 1914 was the year of our “creation” as a country by the British colonial masters. The name Nigeria was suggested by Flora Shaw, mistress of our first Governor-General, Lord Frederick Lugard, in 1898. Flora of course would later become Lugard’s wife.
Already, to celebrate this milestone in January next year, the Federal Government has set up a committee to coordinate what promises to be a huge event. A centenary in the life of any nation is a major landmark. The fact that our nation survived all the vicissitudes of existence; including natural and man-made disasters is one good reason to celebrate. We’ve had our fair share of internal conflicts and a long spell of bad leadership, but that should not deny us a celebration even if a period like this calls for more introspection.
But let’s go back a bit into history. What later evolved as Nigeria were a number of small and large kingdoms scattered around the River Niger area. These kingdoms were governed by local chiefs, obas, emirs and clan heads. Some, like the Benin Kingdom, had diplomatic relations and trade contacts with European nations like the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal as far back as the middle ages until the scramble for Africa after the continent was partitioned at the Berlin Conference of 1885.
After the abolition of slave trade, Europeans shifted their attention to trade to feed their home industries with raw materials from Africa. This was the venture the Royal Niger Company was engaged in at the initial period when Lugard represented it in the colony.
But gradually, the company became involved in the administration of the protectorates, systematically and consciously eroding the authority of the native authorities until Her Majesty’s government exerted full colonial authority over the entire territory through the amalgamation in 1914 with Lugard as the first Governor General. In a nutshell, this is the evolution of our nation, but it is by no means exhaustive.
Before the big party in January 2014, let us for a moment examine the legacies of colonisation, and what we have done to preserve and build on them. That should be the basis for any worthwhile celebration. To embark on a festival of this scale without some critical soul-searching at a time when the same nation we intend to celebrate is showing strains of failure is a contradiction in terms; a barren exercise, so to speak.
Whatever the downside of colonisation the British united this country; brought us development, set up the armed services, built public utilities and social infrastructures too numerous to count, and gave us a political system to pilot the ship of state. The judiciary, civil service, the prison system, industrial estates, plantations, the produce boards, organised import and export trade, the oil and manufacturing industries, the ports and aerodrome (airports) -- the airways, taxation and excise duties are all the legacies of the colonial administration.
It would be remiss not to mention the academic institutions; the University College, Ibadan, the technical colleges, trade centres, grammar schools, teacher training colleges, sanitary inspectors, forest guards and public buildings like the cabinet office, the railway, roads network etc. They are all part of our colonial heritage.
As we therefore commence plans to celebrate the centenary, we should be honest to ask ourselves: What have we done with these great legacies? Have we built on them like other colonised countries did, or have we destroyed this goodly heritage? One only needs to look at the nation’s infrastructure and development landscape to get the answer.
One hundred years down the road, we cannot point to a single national institution from the colonial days that is currently in a state of operational excellence. Our public infrastructure are so badly run down that it may take decades of diligent rebuilding and remodelling to restore them to their pristine glory. The inefficiency and general neglect of public utilities are so glaring and common place that many local and international observers conclude that Nigeria is a place where nothing works.
The railway has not expanded beyond where the British left it. Many of the wagons still in use are outdated; some railway tracks have been completely abandoned. It is not unusual to find some railway lines taken over by squatters, some of whom have built houses on them. Our water ways have equally been neglected as there has been no significant improvement in water transportation, a key component of maritime trade in any modern economy.
What has damaged the legacies of the infrastructure left by the British is our poor maintenance culture. We’d rather replace than repair because there’s more room for corrupt enrichment in replacement of components than in fixing them. Most of our big public institutions are junk yards of abandoned vehicles and machineries left to rot away because of minor faults.
On the plus side, our country has made giant strides in several spheres since independence in 1960. We have demonstrated a great capacity to absorb shocks, and our resilience is one of the good things the world admires about us. Our recovery rate from the 30-month civil war is as amazing as our forgiving spirit. It is only in Nigeria that a former rebel leader was given the platform to contest for the presidency of the country he fought against.
It is true that our politics is often noisy and violent, but after the first republic debacle, we seemed to have discovered how to keep the nation from blowing up whenever it sails close to the precipice. And now, the jinx of civilian-to-civilian succession has been broken finally. Gone are the days when opposition politicians instigated the army to take over because they lost elections. Our democracy despite the profligacy of our politicians is maturing, slowly but steadily.
We are a nation with enormous potential that are yet to be fully tapped. Our human and natural resources, a population of 167 million, vibrant market, and a vegetation rich in biodiversity guarantee our future as an emerging economy.
Nigeria has a lot to celebrate but we are not there yet. We are still a work-in-progress like every nation, but the pace of development is painfully slow. Bad leadership, endemic corruption and misapplication of resources stand between us and the rapid progress which our peer nations have made.
A century after we became one country, we are yet to find the right formula to manage our vast human and natural resources in a way that ensures even development across the country and equitable distribution of wealth to our people. That is one great challenge we must look at as we begin to celebrate the centenary, it is not about voting huge sums to build monuments.
The question on everybody’s lips is this: How can Nigeria translate its resources into development? Perhaps, the unexpected victory of the Super Eagles at the just concluded African Cup of Nations in South Africa may inspire in us a winning mentality which we need to turn this country around. The victory of these boys on the eve of our centenary celebration is one of the best gifts we could have. Beyond the euphoria of the soccer exploit every Nigeria should learn from the determination of these boys; their self-belief when nobody gave them a chance.
But the capacity of our people as a whole to reinvent this nation is the miracle we need today as we prepare for the great celebration. So, like the Super Eagles our country men must change their wrong attitude towards this country; our politicians must stop the looting spree and concentrate on the onerous task of rebuilding our great nation. Nigeria deserves no less, and it expects no less, even if we are far less than we ought to be at 100.
Chris Okotie is a former musician, a social critic and presently a christian pastor.
Right before the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Sir Lord Frederick Luggard in 1914 and their various accompanied constitutions. The Nigeria nation has not has got it right. Leaders and grafts, the two monsters have crippled everything In Nigeria. Endless Corruption Inc! Transparency International and UNIDO has openly told the world that over 75 percent of corruption in Nigeria emanates from the presidency in form of failed contracts, oil thefts, recycled leaders, ineptitude, and GRAFTS!
Different ideologies, suspicion amongst the ethnic groups, North, South, East, and West dichotomy, paper qualification, NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK! Poor health facilities, poor road networks, infrastructural decay, epileptic power supply, collapsed educational system, non-accountability, master-servants relationships, power at all cost syndrome, and who cares if the masses can rot away. The future keeps getting darker and bleak as there is no hope of seeing the "Sun shining behind the clouds". As government pirates continue to raid the prosperous Nigeria's pool of resources.
Why Nigeria as a State? From the beginning the foundation of the country was laid on sand which can be washed away by a powerful flood. The foundation started shaking with diverse and divergent views about the country remain a single entity. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer and worst off. The nation becoming the epicenter of dumping ground for imported goods and fake products.
The entity called Nigeria @ 100 still crawls, the country which was at par with India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea in the 60's and these countries are now Asia Tigers exporting back to Nigeria the same products it imported from Nigeria in the 60's. The receding decay in every segment of the society could be traced to; Nigeria: A Mistake of an Entity!
Various countries around the world has an epithet: "American Patriotism" "Chinese Attitude" "Germans Determination" "Japanese Fighting Spirit" "Israelis Valor" 'Italian Resilience" "French Diplomacy" "Nigeria Altruistic". Despite concerted efforts by the CSO's, EFCC, ICPC, and the media in Nigeria, more corrupt practices are still been perpetrated in high places in Nigeria.. Who will tame this monster? Shocking revelations and discoveries keep flowing.
In other countries citizens wakes up to a new hopeful, brighter and a prosperous day. Nigerians wakes up daily faced with a gloomy future, no thanks to the the institutionalized GRAFT! Nigeria's epigram.
Corruption in Nigeria has defy all the antidotes for it's cure,may be we just 'siddon look' [apologies to late Chief Bola Ige]. When countries across the world has a catchy epithet like: "American Patriotism" "Chinese Attitude" "Germans Determination" "Japanese Fighting Spirit" "Israelis Valor" 'Italian Resilience" "French Diplomacy" "Nigeria Altruistic". Nigeria is altruistic with it's resources. Nigerian officials are so altruistic with the nations resources, no altercation when ferrying the looted funds across abroad, but once indicted the media is a washed with claims and counter claims.
The resources given in trust to these officials are freely shared, NO SELFISHNESS! The nation is STINKING!
With endless institutionalized graft, where are we heading to? Uncertainties, Bleak future, Insecurity, Kidnapping, Boko Haram, Niger Delta Militants, Armed robberies, and Frustrations in the country. The masses are being pummeled each seconds by government with anti-masses policies without accompanied manifestations, who cares? When charter helicopters can fly and air ambulances are available. Simply put: Masses can rot away!
The North foresee this when the late Northern Nigeria premier Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto told the then parliament in 1958 that the North is not yet ready for independence from their colonial masters. Despite drawing public protests and condemnation from Nigerians when USA and Libya predicted that within a period of 15 years there is foreseeable evidence that Nigeria will dis-integrate into North/South, Christian/Moslem States. Qaddafi was blunt as he openly told Nigeria to break up peacefully. The chapter is beginning to unfold and the clock is TICKING.........!
Despite the hue and cry of oil and gas, the "BLACK GOLD" has turn Nigeria's hand of development back as oil blocks, oil thefts, foreign conspirators and illegal refineries rocks the sector in collaboration with the military, government officials, and the major players in the industry.
Mr. Frederick Luggard
Billions of dollars of Nigeria's oil money are siphoned and frittered away with impunity. Land locked countries in Africa are surviving without oil; South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Gambia, Egypt, Tanzania and Benin all has a prosperous economy based on other sector rather than oil. Most of Africa's oil producing states are worst off compares to South Africa, Botswana, Egypt, Tanzania, Benin, Seychelles, and Mozambique. Factories in Nigeria are closing up and relocating to neighboring countries and empty factories premises are turned to Mega churches for Nigerians seeking spiritual solutions.
Thank God for Prof Attahiru Jega's historic nation saving 2011 general elections the time for Nigeria eclipse would have been closing up. People are becoming pessimists about Nigeria's future. Policies formulated today are discarded tomorrow, high fly corruption cases are technically closed, appointments into high offices are not based on merit, recycling of leaders, endless grafts, bastardized society, a ribbon of wasted younger generation, no hope, no FUTURE! No favorable environment for business to operate.
Emerging from the brink of dis-integration in 1967-1970's 42 months of civil war, many would have thought this would have place the nation on stronger foundation. The decay of today was a carry over from the first republic and through the second, third, fourth, fifth and the sixth republics.
The blame of Nigeria's woes on the military is rather a funny concept, non-of the military governors, administrators, minister, and head of states has brazenly looted the country treasuries compare to these civilians governors, ministers, commissioners, special aides, members of NASS and the presidency and has in recent times being arraign, charged and jailed in various law courts in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Police; the custodian of law, order and security in Nigeria becoming 'OPEN SESAME!', Power Holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN] can no longer hold power, the nation's airport becoming an eyesore at the point of entry!
Akwaaba in Ghana means ‘Welcome’. Akwaaba to Nigeria’s corruption square where the King must not dance naked even if asked to dance to appease the gods. It is a taboo for him to dance naked in the corruption square, he will be shielded by the palace guards.
Plea bargain is now the order of the day as corrupt bank CEOs, federal government officials, NASS members, state and local government officials simply walk Nigeria streets free! “As they must not walk naked”, they cannot be jailed.“Prick your fingers, and a drop of red will appear, not a drop of red but white, or a drop of black".
Plea bargaining is Nigeria’s export to other corruption-riddled nations to copy and emulate. Simply loot or embezzle. Get arraigned in a court of law; go to the court with a cheque. Get sentenced, issue a cheque and you are freed! See Nigeria’s ingenuity?
A nation that is bleeding under the scorching hardship inflicted on the masses by the king[s], never to be tried nor sentenced by any law court and in any case, the king[s] are welcomed back with a live television broadcast thanksgiving, celebrating freedom from the VIP prison with pomp and ceremony. The king[s] must not dance naked as they leave behind endless footprints of corruption and graft!
Is it because I am a Nigerian that I can be so bastardized by my rulers? Show us your face God, the masses of Nigeria are before the hangman! In pursuit of a better world through one ideology or another, mass graves are being filled.
Most people have become too tolerant of murder, punished it too lightly and excused it by perpetrating the most abominable atrocities against their fellow human beings, when it was in the service of Utopian visions....!
Let the rain come down and wash away Nigeria’s scourge of corruption and save the masses from the shackles of poverty and enslavement, as the king[s] can neither be de-robe, nor allowed to dance naked [go to jail] in the corruption square.
“Nigerians are weeping like a woman for what they cannot have as a man”. In the name of governance the politicians have perpetrated the most abominable atrociousness against their subjects.
Between the conceptions and creation, between the emotions and response....falls the shadow!
Nigeria rulers who should have known justice exploited Nigerians, as if tearing the skin and flesh of sheep and breaking their bones. They are like brier or a thorn hedge. Nigerians get scathed, clothes ripped, dealing with Nigerians unjustly, treacherous and corrupt.
We are like in the midst of their roaring lions; the judges were evening wolves that gnaw Nigerians bones till morning. Nigeria leaders are like rapacious, wild lions, disregarded righteousness, ravenous, insatiable wolves, devouring everything. How could Nigerians standup under this?
Justice has been ripped to shreds by Nigeria leaders who preyed on the people rather than caring for the masses. We dream peace, but we are plaque by war, we cherished law and order, but we are cannot stem the rising tide of robbery, rape, and murder. We want to trust our neighbor but we have to lock our doors for protection.
We love our children and try to instill wholesomeness values in them, but all too often we watch helplessly as they succumb to the unwholesome influence of their peers!
The Nigeria civil war is over but in tragic sense, Nigeria has now been made safer for ethnic, tribal, and religious vengeance and savagery. We have watered down our moral standards to the point where many of our youths are confused, discouraged, and in deep trouble.
We are reaping the harvest of parental neglect, child abuse, teen pregnancy, divorce, school drop outs, illegal drugs and streets full of violence. It is as if our nation having survived the great earthquake we called Nigeria Civil War is now being eaten by termites called our Rulers and Leaders!
Ill gotten loot is used to buy the poor masses votes, buy expensive automobiles, armed Mobile Policemen as escorts with siren [intimidating the masses], private jets, overseas medical checkups and holidays with the family.
In the streets, villages, rural communities, the masses are left at their own peril. No water, no electricity, lack of Community Health Care Centers, no accessible
roads, government officials comes once in four years to seek their mandates during election, children of the poor graduated with a dream but face a bleak and hopeless future! Plundering of Niger Delta by JTF in the name of dis-lodging the militants, annihilation of Zaki-Biam and Odi by the military.
The story is the same everywhere across the 8,810 wards, 774 LGA's, and 36 States of the country; STAGNATION! While the rich can afford a house worth millions of dollars, the poor are cramped into a dingy one room in the ghetto, sleeps at about 23:00 hrs and wakes up at about 04:00hrs; struggle continues! The cycle is repeated year in year out, the elite can afford to power their respective offices, homes and guest houses with stand by generator.
The poor goes on a meal a day with his rural areas counterpart, the elite eats at will and his dog eats the best of the best. Medical facilities, air ambulances convey the rich abroad within seconds to treat headache, the poor are left at the mercy of Traditional Birth Attendants [TBA] with crude and non-sterilized implements, school fees for the poor are hard to come by the rich resorts to private schools and overseas schools.
The elite is feasting on the delicacy of Nigeria's already prepared and served resources. Life for the poor in Nigeria could be likened to "Anthill of the Savannah", once regarded as the "Giant Of Africa" becoming the" Laughing Stock Of Africa".
From Dreams @ Dawn to Shattered Destiny @ 100. From "Whispering Prosperous Footsteps @ Dawn" to "Epicenter of Stagnation @ 100". Lady Flora Shaw Luggard must have being regretting in her quite grave for giving an entity called Nigeria a name that preceding generations will hate, abhor and DETEST!
Nigeria: A Mistake of an Entity; The Clock Is TICKING...........!
Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi.
Country Representative; Whisper Poetry.
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The dominant Super Eagles made the breakthrough just before half-time when Mba clipped the ball over Mohamed Koffi and then volleyed into the far corner. Burkina Faso almost equalised when Wilfried Sanou forced a fingertip save from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Ahmed Musa slipped as he looked set to score and Victor Moses almost poked home as Nigeria eased to victory.
It was a win that was fully deserved as Nigeria comfortably beat a tired-looking Burkina Faso, who struggled to make an impact in their maiden final appearance. And perhaps it was one game too many for the Burkinabe, who had failed to win a single game on foreign soil in the Nations Cup before this tournament but shocked many by going so far this time.
However, credit must go to Nigeria and their coach Stephen Keshi, who captained the Super Eagles when they last won the title in 1994 and becomes only the second man to lift the trophy as a player and as a coach after Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary.
t is also the first time for 21 years that a black African coach has won the cup - Ivory Coast's Yeo Martial was the last to do so in 1992. After Nigeria and Burkina Faso played out a 1-1 draw in their group match early on in the competition, the Super Eagles had grown in stature and went into the game as favourites. Burkina Faso, though, were buoyed by being able to name an unchanged line-up after Jonathan Pitroipa's red card in the semi-final was rescinded, while Nigeria brought in Ikechukwu Uche for the injured Emmanuel Emenike.
The Super Eagles, playing in their first final since losing to Cameroon on penalties in 2000, made the brighter start and Moses made a couple of bursts down the flanks that eased concerns over a hamstring injury that had made him a doubt for the game.
He was involved in the first good chances of the match, dinking in a free-kick which Efe Ambrose headed over and then winning the corner from which Brown Ideye shot high and wide after keeper Daouda Diakite had spilled the ball at the midfielder's feet.
Nerves were on show from first-time finalists Burkina Faso and they looked even more unsettled by the pace and directness of Chelsea winger Moses. While Nigeria assumed some measure of control, the Stallions were completely unable to retain possession - despite the fact it was their first match of the tournament away from the shocking pitch in Nelspruit.
And when defender Paul Koulibaly attempted a back-heel, almost handing Nigeria a scoring chance, the Burkinabe were in danger of self-destructing. Aristide Bance tried to lift his side when he fired over Burkina Faso's first effort on goal and then dragged a free-kick wide but with the likes of Pitroipa anonymous in the first half, there was little threat posed to the Nigerians.
In contrast, Nigeria's Mba produced a moment of sheer brilliance to break the deadlock just before half-time. When the ball ricocheted to the midfielder on the edge of the box, he used his right foot to delicately flick the ball over Koffi and as the ball dropped on the other side of the defender, Mba volleyed in superbly with his left boot.
Nigeria came close to doubling their lead soon after the restart when Moses, involved in most of his side's best work, played in Ideye who drove a shot across goal from a tight angle.
Ten minutes into the second half there was still no sign of the Burkinabe shaking off their lethargy, which may have been a result of the sapping effect of their penalty shoot-out win over Ghana in the semi-final.
Whatever the reason for Burkina Faso's limp performance, Nigeria sensed an opportunity to drive home their advantage and had Moses played in his team-mate after a 40-yard run on the counter-attack they would have done.
Again Bance tried to respond but could only direct his header into the arms of keeper Enyeama and Nigeria seemed to be easing to their first Nations Cup title for 19 years and add to their successes in 1980 and 1994.
Keshi's side were unfortunate not to give themselves some breathing space when the outstanding Moses broke clear and laid the ball into the path of the unmarked Musa but the substitute lost his footing before the pass reached him.
It could have been a turning point for Burkina Faso but the agility of Enyeama made sure Nigeria did not pay for their misfortune as he stretched out a long arm to tip Sanou's drive round the post.
Instead, Nigeria might have added gloss to the win but failed to take chances that fell to Moses, who could not force the ball in from close range, and Ideye, who narrowly failed to connect with a cross. But the Super Eagles had done enough to clinch the trophy and underline their resurgence and spark huge celebrations in Nigeria.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi: "Winning this is mainly for my nation - when I came on board a year and a half ago my dream was to make all Nigerians happy, and to construct a great Nigerian team, We are not there yet, it's still in process.
"You don't want to know what was going through my head (in the final five minutes)! To represent Africa in Brazil at the Confed Cup is an honour for Nigeria."
Burkina Faso coach Paul Put: "We showed Nigeria a bit too much respect in the first half - in the second half we tried to do everything possible. But you have to be big when you lose and small when you win. "Possibly, we were a little tired after two matches that went to extra-time, but I'm not going to look for excuses. The whole of Burkina Faso can be proud of their players."
It is all over the news that G-8 leadership gathering in Northern Ireland in June will discuss the issue of corruption in the management of Nigeria's oil wealth. The problem of corruption in Nigeria and indeed Africa is an old and tiring story not because it has lost its importance but for the fact that the level of hypocrisy associated with it, is overwhelming.
Many a times we have heard the war cry and proposals to defeat corruption particularly the war against corruption. But instead of corruption to be diminishing it is rather gaining momentum and never seems to slow down. Corruption is now bigger than Nigeria when it comes to managing her oil wealth. Nigeria generates most of her wealth from oil export and corruption in the country revolves around oil and generated revenue.
Beyond Nigeria, corruption poses a great danger in Africa especially among the oil producing nations of Africa. The former South African president Thabo Mbek, who became the chairman of a panel that monitors Africa's unlawful financial capital flight, reported that "Over 50 billion U.S. dollars is illicitly transferred from Africa annually with multinational corporations being the main culprits."
And it was further stated by the panel that "Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced an exodus of more than 700 billion dollars in capital flight since 1970, a sum that far surpasses the region's external debt outstanding of roughly 175 billion dollars. It is believed that some of the money wound up in private accounts at the same banks that were making loans to African governments."
The sources of the capital flight comes mostly from earnings of oil and mineral exports and Osita Ogbu, a Fellow at Brookings suggested that "billions of dollars in debt that Africa has accumulated in its post-colonial era are partially a result of irresponsible foreign lenders," as China.org.cn reported.
Oil curse is real in Nigeria
The discovery of oil in 1950s by Shell BP has complicated Nigerian project and the realization of a true nationhood. The ruling class was not ready to handle and deal with the global politics associated with oil. They fell prey and became victims to politicking of the global oil business. The destruction and retardation of progress that oil corruption has dealt to Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. From the monstrous civil war to the increasing ethnic tension, oil has played a destructive role in making Nigeria a worse place to habitate. It is beginning to look like the civil war was just a proxy act foisted on the unsophisticated ruling class. The misery of oil corruption that is popularly acknowledged as oil curse is written all over Nigeria.
Nigeria's economy has suffered due to the corruption of oil money. Unlike Norway that utilized her oil wealth to develop and diversify her economy, Nigeria is still stuck in mono-export economy. The revenue from oil would have become the enthralling force to uplift the economy and prepare the nation for the economy of 21st century. Even with flow-in of enormous foreign exchange from oil export, the country's currency Naira is losing her ground. IMF that nearly crushed country's economy in 1980s with its structural adjustment policy still has the ears of monetary and fiscal bureaucrats of the nation. The corruption has a detrimental psychological impact and has foisted self-doubt, incompetence and inferiority complex on the nation that Nigerians listen to only outsiders and have preferences for anything made in foreign lands.
The wealth of a nation has been wasted and the future of a nation is bleak and uncertain. The greatest danger of the oil curse is the corruption it rained on the ruling class and on the people of Nigeria. Human resources which is the most strategic wealth of a nation has literally be forsaken for oil wealth. The ethos of a nation, the weaken work ethics of a nation and moral laxity are results of oil corruption.
The oil refineries are not functional, performing below capacities not because of lack of resources but due to corruption. It is incredulous but Nigeria refined its oil abroad, making it difficult to satisfy the local demand. The Oil-rich Nigeria at the dawn of 21st century could not provide drinking water and uninterrupted electricity to her citizens because of corruption. The infrastructures are shanty and decaying not due to lack of the money to fix them but corruption has become the impermeable wall that refused to come down. Time is running out for Nigeria, the oil resources that should be used to improve the economy through diversification have been squandered. The youth’s unemployment and restlessness have become the greatest threat to the political stability of the country. The Nigerian schools that were once the envy of the world has degenerated into centers of educational abyss and mediocrity. The products of the country's higher institutions have been characterized with low quality and unskillful graduates.
It was the rats inside that conveyed to the rats outside on how to get the fish in the oven. The problems of corruption, mismanagement of Nigeria's oil wealth and subsequent siphoning of ill-gotten wealth to foreign banks are mostly internal problem that calls for an internal generated solution. The hands of the G8 is limited, they cannot teach Nigerian leaders and elites the love of country. Most of Nigerian leaders, not all of them, that paraded themselves as patriots and nationalists are pseudo-patriots and fakes. They utilized the fabricated prestigious images to exploit and steal from their country. Moreover, the so-called leaders are above the law and they are untouchable. G8 leaders should focus more on making laws to stop western companies in participating in the corruption by cutting off access to nefarious practices that enable their Nigerian counterparts to be successful in stealing from the country's treasury.
As far back as 2005, when former Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair held the presidency of G8 and the leaders were gathering in London to discuss debt remission for Africa. The well respected think Tank on Africa, Royal African Society's research team headed by Richard Dowden issued a press release. The press release went on to describe the compassing damage of corruption in Africa and the energetic role that the outsiders played in helping powerful Africans to launder money into western banks.
This is how it stated the principal issue, "The World Bank estimates that $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year throughout the world. African countries are prominent among those said to be corrupt in Transparency International's Corruption Index and the negative impact of high levels of bribery and theft is compounded by the tendency to take the ill-gotten proceeds out of the continent. Indeed, the 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."
And it further stressed that "while the Swiss have been cleaning up their banking system, the City of London is now the laundry of choice for much dirty money. It is estimated that a third of the money stolen by the Nigerian military dictator, Sani Abacha, and found by the Swiss authorities in Swiss banks, had been deposited first in the British banking system until it was clean enough to bank in Switzerland. Switzerland has already repatriated some of the funds deposited by the Abacha family to Nigeria. The UK was strikingly unhelpful when the new Nigerian government authorities first asked the British for help in retrieving the stolen goods and so far has not repatriated any substantial amount of the money known to be sitting in London's banks."
The World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, United Nations and Western nations have not relented on the fight against corruption. But many leaking holes are still there and until they are completely plucked, winning the battle against corruption will not see the light of day in Africa and Nigeria in particular where many officials of respective regimes are pointing accusing fingers to each other.
Nigeria without doubt has an gigantic challenge in her hands when it comes to corruption and will need every help from domestic and abroad to diminish, if not eradicate corruption in her soil. But the point must be clearly made that the present administration should not be held responsible for this ugly situation in Nigeria because corruption has rooted deep in Nigerian soil before they came in. Rather the administration needs encouragement, help and possibly oversight on the struggle to tame corruption.
A mounting of criticism are streaming from different quarters directing and targeting towards President Jonathan’s administration. But how can that solve the problem? For modus operandi of illogical confrontation is not necessarily the solution. The fact is that the administration has not folded her hands and did nothing as its critic are alleging to. After all, take a look at the appointments President Jonathan made in coming into his presidency. He appointed one of best respected technocrats, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as the minister of finance and coordinating director of the economy. You may not like everything she did but we all can acknowledged that she is a woman of integrity and a patriot who has taken the fight to the house of corruption with transparency and open book.
But it must be recognized that corruption has eaten deep into the social and economic fabric of Nigeria's society and it will take time to be defeated. To fight and put a credible fight to defeat corruption requires a concerted, coordinated and synchronized strategy that must be formulated by the government and G8 inorder to put up a sustainable fight that will bear a positive dividend.
This is not time to give a lip service and issue press releases that will be buried in heaps of failures of yesterdays. The G8 during the era of Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke convincingly about the cancelling of debts owned by many poor African countries. Blaire even came up with a commission on Africa to better understand those problems that are hampering progress in the continent. He called African problem a scar on our collective humanity. But when Nigeria paid her foreign debt, Britain never hesitated in collecting her $3 billion share from Paris Club of Creditors that Nigeria made when she settled her $36 billion debt. Many responsible organizations and important global leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu made an appeal to Blaire's Britain to return the money to Nigeria but he refused.
As for the forthcoming intervention from G8 and British Prime Minister David Cameron on lack of transparency and the growing corruption in the management of Nigeria's natural resources especially the revenue generated from export of oil. G8 must be careful as not to appear patronizing and paternalistic. They should start from the point of view that western banks in London, Swiss Banks and others must not be exempted from the problem of corruption in Nigeria and Africa.
In case of Nigeria, The West and G8 must encourage and support governance that accommodates checks and balances in Africa. This will in turn provide accountability and respect for the populace. Nigeria is moving towards that direction and it needs a push, an escape velocity that will take her to the promise land.
Anti-corruption legislation is utmost important to be enacted in the West with regards to money laundering. For 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.
It may bring a certain comfort level to Nigerians that G8 and Western leaders are about to discuss the problem of corruption that has literally arrested development in the country but there is not much any outside entities can do for Nigeria. As the country is becoming older and has just celebrated her 52 years independence from Britain and will be celebrating in 2014 her 100 years of founding. Nigeria must comprehend one essential fact, whether she likes to hear it or not: Nigeria’s destiny is in her hands.
Since the news that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador OluGbenga Ashiru, plans to visit Austria in return to the similar diplomatic related visit from his Austrian foreign affairs counterpart, Michael Spindelegger in June last year, the tension has been very high amongst Nigerian communities in Austria. While the adrenaline of those in asylum process pumps higher for the fear of the purported reasons of this visit, many Nigerians are displeased with the attitude of the Nigerian ambassador to Austria, Her Excellency, Ambassador Maria Oyeyinka Laose and her refusal to see Nigerian communities in Vienna she is supposed to represent close to two years of her stay in Austria as ambassador disregarding every move that included a letter written and signed by all the executives of Nigerian ethnic nationals requesting her attention.
The fear of Nigerians is not unconnected to reports in some Nigerian media houses last year immediately after the visit of the Austria foreign affairs minister quoting that arrangements had been concluded and agreements had been signed to deport any person to Nigeria whose identity was not clear in Austria. In the report of the Guardian, it was stated that, “About 1,000 Nigerian asylum seekers in Austria may be deported following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by Nigeria and Austria . The agreement was signed last week in Abuja by Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru.
“The agreement exposes these persons who are without clear proof of Nigerian citizenship, most of them living in Austria for many years and well integrated (but not accepted as refugees according to the Geneva Convention).”
As Nigerians gather in their clan/town meetings, or with their friends in coffee bars to discuss the uncertainty of these bilateral agreements in fear and anger based on the fact that they are yet to wholly understand this kind of agreements that trample only on their fundamental human rights, many concerned Austrians and patriotic citizens are appealing for clarification.
Nigerians in Austria especially those living in the capital city, Vienna, are not accepting the explanations given to them so far that the same agreements they are worried about had been signed before in Germany, Switzerland and some other European countries and that all hell did not break loose in those countries. Nigerians in Austria are saying, for the fact that the same agreements as reported by the Guardian had been signed in some of the European countries before and there had been no question or protest against them by Nigerians did not make such agreements right and acceptable. And because so many Nigerians hold the Guardian at a very high esteem, therefore, if what it wrote has not been refuted by the government of Nigeria since July 2012 till now, any explanation given to us here in Austria in any town hall meeting whether in the city of Graz or Vienna will still be regarded by many as another Maradona goal from the hands of God.
In honesty and sincerity, we have not seen any benefit of the so-said signed bilateral agreements in those countries where the agreements have been used to cite as examples in the lives of Nigerian masses living there except cries, humiliations and inhuman deportations of the people. Thus, Nigerians living in Austria would not need such agreements that would only expose them to danger without protection.
Without sounding ignorant of the facts that diplomatic contacts and bilateral agreements are normal and very important between two countries for diplomatic resolution of issues or conflicts, but the ideology of the friendship over the years has never changed from its fundamental goal of providing a considerable quality of life for the citizens of both countries based on mutual respect. Therefore, if the primary aims of diplomatic romances or bilateral agreements have always been to enhance official understandings for macro and micro growth of the countries involved for the benefits of her citizens; can one say the same thing about Nigeria and Austria as a case study bearing in mind the report of the Guardian?
I want to use this medium to inform the honourable Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru that Nigerians in Austria would like to know when he visits Austria how these agreements would directly affect their lives positively in order to calm tension and nerves. Nigerians would like to know if these agreements will make things easier for Nigerians who want to come to Austria and study. Nigerians would like to know how these agreements will make things easier and faster for Nigerians looking for visas at the Austrian Embassy in Abuja. Nigerians would like to know if these agreements have now made it possible for Nigerian certificates to be recognized and accepted in Austria. Nigerians would like to know if these agreements now have made it possible that when a signed document from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any government agency gets to Austria that it will be acknowledged, accepted and honoured as authentic without referring such letter to the Austrian embassy in Abuja for verification that costs the affected persons more than N150.000 (over €800). Nigerians would like to know if there is any clause in these agreements that make it now easier and faster for Nigerian men who are legitimately and honourably living in Austria to bring their parents for a visit or to unite with their wives and children.
Honourable Minister Sir, you know Nigerians are law abiding citizens and they would like to know everything so that they would also know their limits. The explanation given as reported by the Guardian was not enough for any citizen who cares about the dignity of his/her country and the welfare of all. It would have even been better if nothing had been explained to us so that we would have to take it as the normal bilateral agreements between two countries, but since the cat has been let out of the bag, please tell us more because we are curious.
I love Nigeria and I am a very proud Nigerian no matter the circumstances because the creator has got His reasons why my placenta was buried in that country, though Nigeria took care of me and protected me to grow, but sadly and suddenly she abandoned me like many at the middle of nowhere when I needed her most, and I ran to Austria for cover and Austria did not disappoint me as she was magnanimous enough to welcome me and gave me hope. Thus, I love my country Austria and I am equally a proud Austrian. As a matter of fact, whatever affects these two countries affects me. On this note, I am irredeemably condemned and obligatorily compelled to use this medium to extend my absolute solidarity to those who in defiance of winter cold occupied the Votivkirche (church) in the 9th district of Vienna, in demand of better treatment for asylum seekers. Just as I equally and humbly appeal to the Austrian government as one of the benefactors of their goodwill to please always show high level of understanding and mercy on the plights of those seeking asylum in Austria if not for any reason at least on humanitarian grounds. On the side of African asylum seekers, while in their bids to escape hunger and starvation, or war from their respective countries because of bad leaderships, many were food for crocodiles and ants on their way without any second chance in life or the opportunity to tell their terrible woes, just as many of them also survived death in the Mediterranean Sea, and scorpion and snake bites in the Sahara desert before they got here.
In another development, since the publication of the article titled “Nigerians In Austria Cry To President Jonathan”, the umbrella body of Nigerians in Austria, National Association of Nigerian Community Austria, (NANCA) and the Nigerian embassy Vienna have never been the same again as the president of NANCA Eng. Yemi Ogundele claimed that he had been “under pressure from the Ambassador,” Her Excellency, Maria Oyeyinka Laose. A pressure that nearly forced him to deny the interview he had granted to me. This pressure was really so strong and powerful that it steered a lot of dust within NANCA executives that generated to an astonishing breaking level. It will be very interesting for the general public to read and see how an attempt was made by somebody for me to sell my conscience and also to understand that the problem with Nigeria is not only leaders but also followers.
It would be recalled that in December last year, in my article as headlined above, I had elaborated the cat and mouse relationship between the ambassador and Nigerians in Austria. A step expected by many to be a tonic towards reconciliation. But the Vice president of NANCA “Ozo Muonyiroha” of Unube, Louis Asuzu said that nothing has officially changed between the Nigerians umbrella body, NANCA and the Ambassador, Her Excellency, Mrs Maria Oyeyinka Laose, a development he was still very dissatisfied with. “… How can the ambassador know us and our problems if she has not met with us since she came here? How can you lead people you do not know”, he queried. For further information on the stained relationship between Nigerians in Austria and the ambassador, the vice president of NANCA can be reached on this number +436766333946
Meanwhile information available to me said that, Her Excellency, Ambassador Maria Oyeyinka Laose started her official duty as the ambassador of Nigeria to Austria effectively on 27/06/2011 and will officially be going on retirement next month March 2013.
Because ministers and government representatives have been coming from Nigeria and going with NANCA members and the ambassador putting up artificial faces to welcome them and entertain them, Nigerians in Austria would not like the coming of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be the same deceit of reception again because the settlement of this crisis falls into his portfolio. On this note, I appeal to him to please use his official position and power when he visits Austria and see to the end of this rift for the good image of Nigeria and protection of Nigerians.
When I remember amongst other things the role and the stand of the Minister during the diplomatic rift between Nigeria and South Africa, I am proud to say, welcome in advance my honourable Minister to the land of peace and friendship, Austria.
May God bless Nigeria, my father land and bless Austria my adopted country.
Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen writes from Vienna, Austria
Nigerians living abroad, who remitted $21 billion home last year, rank among citizens of the top five countries that remitted about $530 billion to their countries in 2012, showing a tremendous increase from the previous year.
In the latest ranking by the World Bank, India led the pack, followed by China, Philippines, Mexico and Nigeria in the fifth position.
Figures show that India and China received $60 billion from their citizens abroad, Philippines ($24 billion), Mexico ($24 billion), and Nigeria ($21 billion). Others who also joined the top 10 include Egypt, the sixth largest, with about $18 billion remittance last year, indicating an astronomical surge from $9 billion in 2008. It is believed that the surge is perhaps driven by increased support by migrants to their families in the face of political uncertainty or savings brought by returning migrants.
The remittances of $530 billion last year by the migrants outstripped the World Bank’s projection for the period, which were expected to reach $406 billion in 2012, a growth of 6.5 per cent over the previous year. These flows are expected to rise to 8 per cent in 2013 and 10 per cent in 2014 to reach $534 billion in 2015.
Analysts believed the rise in remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora is being done to enable them subscribe to a Diaspora bond being planned by the Ministry of Finance. Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in September 2011, had announced in Washington the plans by the Federal Government to issue the Diaspora bond in a bid to secure alternative means of funding critical infrastructural projects in Nigeria.
A Diaspora bond is a debt instrument issued by a country or a private corporation to raise financing from its citizens in foreign countries.
However, the remittances come at a high cost to migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, which the World Bank identified as the most expensive region to send remittance to, with a transfer costing in the third quarter of 2012 about 12.4 per cent of the amount transferred. This is almost twice the corresponding figure of 6.5 per cent for South Asia.
According to the World Bank, the new figures for 2012 now surpassed the international community global aid for development, poverty reduction, healthcare and other strategic sectors.
Head of the World Bank Migration and Remittance Unit, Dilip Ratha, was quoted to have said that there is a likelihood of billions of some of the remittances not being documented as migrants might have channelled or transferred their funds through non-official means, to avoid documentation.
According to the World Bank, over 215 million people, about 3 per cent of the world's population, live outside their countries of birth. Remittances by them are considered three times the size of official development assistance and provide an important lifeline for millions of poor households in their countries.
The bank estimated that the migrants, if they were all to reside in a country, will be far bigger than most countries, even with the possibility of becoming the fifth most populous nation, following only China, India, America and Indonesia.
The United Kingdom, the United States of America, European countries and Asia nations are the top regions where most of the funds were remitted back home by migrants workers.
A Dutch court has ruled that a subsidiary of international oil giant Royal Dutch Shell should be held responsible for a pipeline leak poisoning farmland in Nigeria, as it had failed to take adequate measures to prevent sabotage. In its ruling Wednesday the Hague Civil Court rejected most of the case brought by Nigerian farmers and environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth against Shell, saying pipeline leaks were caused by saboteurs, not Shell negligence.
However, in one case, the judges ordered a subsidiary, Shell Nigeria, to compensate a farmer for breach of duty of care by making it too easy for saboteurs to open an oil well head that leaked on to his land.
It was believed to be the first time a Dutch court has held a multinational's foreign subsidiary liable for environmental damage and ordered it to pay damages. Pressure groups welcomed the judges' decision, saying the ruling opens the door for similar pollution cases against multinationals. Shell hailed the judgment as a victory.
"We are very pleased by the ruling of the court today," said Allard Castelain of Shell. "It's clear that both the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the local venture ... has been proven right." The Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth, which represented the Nigerian farmers, welcomed the compensation order for one village, but said it was "stunned" by its defeats in other villages.
The group said the ruling could have implications beyond Nigeria's oil fields.
"The verdict also offers hope to other victims of environmental pollution caused by multinationals," said Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth.
The group has always maintained that much of the damage in the Niger Delta can be traced to what it calls poor maintenance of Shell's infrastructure, rather than sabotage, an argument the court rejected.
Lawyers representing another Nigerian community, Bodo, in a legal battle with Shell in British courts cautiously welcomed the Dutch ruling.
"Over many years Shell has denied any responsibility for these types of spills resulting from 'bunkering' or sabotage," lawyer Martyn Day said in a statement.
He called the Dutch court's ruling a major step forward "as it makes Shell aware in no uncertain terms that they have a responsibility to ensure that all steps are taken to ensure the illegal sabotage does not occur."
The level of damages in the Dutch case will be established at a later hearing, but that could be held up as Friends of the Earth said it plans to appeal.
Only one of the Nigerian plaintiffs, Eric Barizaadooh, was in court Wednesday and his claim was rejected by the court, but he said he was happy for the village that won compensation.
Plaintiff Eric Dooh waits for the start of the court case of Nigerian farmers against Shell, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013. Dutch judges are ruling in a landmark civil action by Nigerian farmers who want to hold oil giant Shell liable for poisoning their fish ponds and farmlands with leaking pipelines. The decision being announced Wednesday could set a legal precedent for holding multinationals responsible for their actions overseas. Lawyers for the four Nigerians from the oil-rich Niger delta argue Shell makes key policy decisions at its Hague headquarters, so the Dutch court has jurisdiction. Photo: Peter Dejong
"For my colleagues who succeeded, that is victory," Barizaadooh said outside court. "Shell is brought to book. I believe this is a revolutionary case."
Shell's local subsidiary is the top foreign oil producer in the Niger Delta, an oil-rich region of mangroves and swamps about the size of Portugal. Its production forms the backbone of crude production in Nigeria, a top supplier to the gasoline-thirsty U.S.
Shell, which discovered and started the country's oil well in the late 1950s, has been heavily criticized by activists and local communities over oil spills and close ties to government security forces. Some Shell pipelines that crisscross the delta are decades old and can fail, causing massive pollution.
The company has begun an effort to improve its standing with local communities in the last decade by building clinics, roads and even natural gas power plants. It blames most spills now on thieves who tap into crude oil pipelines to steal oil.
"The complexity lies in the fact that the theft and the sabotage is part of an organized crime ... that siphons away a billion dollars a month" from Nigeria, Castelain said.
"This is organized crime," he added. In London, the company's share price closed down 0.1 percent to 23.62 pounds.