Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's bungled effort to raise the country's fuel prices to the market rate has hurt his international reputation as a potential reformer and infuriated a population tired of decades of rapacious government.
The nation incurred almost $1.3 billion in economic losses during a nationwide strike that followed Jonathan's announcement Jan. 1 that the government was ending a fuel subsidy that kept gasoline prices low, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday.
In addition, his deployment of troops in response to a protest movement dubbed Occupy Nigeria was widely condemned as residents and prominent people such as Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Lagos Gov. Babatunde Fashola, a leading opposition figure, objected to such government action.
"Nigerians are saying enough is enough," said Kunle Amuwo, Nigeria analyst for the International Crisis Group. "Nigeria is a very rich country, but people are very poor. Nigerians don't trust their government because there has been a cycle of broken promises by the government for decades."
Jonathan backtracked and lowered fuel prices Monday, though they remained higher than they had been before the new year. The government set the price at $2.27 a gallon, down from the $3.50 that had set off protests. But he warned that the subsidy would be phased out to provide funding for other expenses, such as roads and education.
The strike, which union leaders called off Monday, and protests, during which about a dozen people were killed in clashes with police, showed deep public disenchantment with a president who grew up in poverty in the oil-rich south and came to power promising to reform Nigeria and deliver a better life for his people. After decades of promises from venal politicians, many Nigerians do not believe the government will redistribute to the poor the estimated $8 billion in annual fuel subsidies, according to analysts.
The fuel subsidy, which reduces the price of fuel for running generators in a country with a poor utility infrastructure, also benefits middle-class and wealthy car owners.
The country is the world's eighth-largest oil producer but imports almost all of its gasoline because it lacks modern refineries. The subsidy is paid to fuel importers to cover the gap between the fixed price and the market rate.
The arrangement contributes to systemic corruption, with shell companies claiming subsidies for fuel never imported, and other importers claiming subsidies for imports to Nigeria, then shipping their fuel to neighboring countries to sell at the market price, according to analysts.
"Many officials or their cronies are involved in the oil market and importing oil. It's a cabal and members of the cabal are sucking Nigeria's wealth through the so-called oil subsidy," Amuwo said. "But even last year, the government overspent the subsidy by at least 30%."
Analysts also warn that investors are unlikely to spend billions of dollars to refine fuel if prices are set below the market rate.
"The subsidy has got to go.... The margins are thin enough as it is," said analyst Kayode Akindele, a Lagos-based partner in the London investment management firm, 46 Parallels.
Akindele said that besides the subsidies, Jonathan must deal with a bill designed to reform the oil industry that has been bogged down in parliament for years. The bill has made little progress because of powerful vested interests, including government oil officials, opposed to reform and transparency in the industry, he said.
Akindele, like others, said the government's overnight decision to ditch the subsidy exposed popular anger.
"Initially it was a shock because all of a sudden the subsidy was removed on Jan. 1 and the price of food and transport took everyone by surprise," he said. "But what you see is that people don't trust the government. People were saying cut government spending and cut government wages and we don't need 40-car convoys to carry government ministers around."
Amuwo said Jonathan must follow through with his campaign promises to regain citizens' trust.
"Jonathan made very beautiful speeches when he was campaigning and Nigerians said Jonathan is coming to power to change things," Amuwo said. "But now people are saying the Jonathan government is a chip off the old block, despite the promises he made to Nigerians."
Tanzania’s Willibrod Slaa and opposition party rejects poll results
Tanzania's incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete has been re-elected to another term according to statement by Tananzania Electoral Commission. According to the electoral commission President Kikwete of Chama cha Mapinduzi party gathered over 61% of the votes to defeat other five candidates of the opposition political parties.
Tanzanian economy is growing progressively in which the "domestic product was $21.6 billion with a gross national income per capita of $500 in 2009 for a population of 43.7 million, according to World Bank data. That compares with an average of $1,096 for sub-Saharan Africa. The total size of the economy is second only to Kenya in the East African region.” According to IMF, "Tanzania boasts east Africa's second-biggest economy, although more than 50% of Tanzanians still live below the poverty line"
The 60 year economist by training President Kikwete “increased spending on roads and energy projects, using higher tax revenue and donor funding, while keeping government borrowing in check. Kikwete has pledged to maintain fiscal policies that are expected to drive the economic growth rate to 6.5 percent this year and 6.7 percent in 2011, the IMF said on Oct. 6. That compares with average growth rates of 5 percent and 5.5 percent expected in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa in the same periods.”
President Kikwete’s transparency did not help in his fight against corruption. Tanzania was rated low in the index of the world’s most corrupt countries from previously 93rd t0 116th position by Transparency International.
Tanzanian opposition party Chama Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and its presidential candidate Dr. Willibrod Slaa have called on Tananzania Electoral Commission to cancel the concluded presidential election results. The Electoral Commission was instructed by the opposition party to organize a new election because as they claimed the concluded election was allegedly flawed due to riggings and irregularities.
Dr. Willibrod Slaa pic credit: Daily News
The popular President Jakaya Kikwete re-election has been predicted from the returning votes according to "the provisional results released yesterday by the commission indicated that the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s Jakaya Kikwete was far ahead of his six competitors, polling 3,316,130 votes from 147 constituencies tabulated. President Kikwete was leading in 144 constituencies followed by the Civic United Front’s Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba who was leading in 20 constituencies. Dr Slaa had taken eight constituencies. Tanzania has a total of 239 constituencies."
Dr Slaa, his words as he addressed a press conference at the party's headquarter: “We cannot accept such results simply because the army, police and the NEC are trying to manipulate us to do so.” He further accused the electrocal commission and intelligence operatives for “expertly steal opposition votes” for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s Jakaya Kikwete party.
Lewis Makame, a retired judge who is the head of Tanzania national electoral commission claimed that allegation has not been formally been made, therefore no action will be taken until the opposition party makes its complain official.
Economy of Tanzania
"GDP (2009 est.): $22.4 billion.
Average growth rate (2009 est.): 4.9%.
Per capita income (2008): $440.
Natural resources: Hydroelectric potential, coal, iron, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel, diamonds, crude oil potential, forest products, wildlife, fisheries.
Agriculture (2009 est.): 26.6% of GDP. Products--coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco, cloves, sisal, cashew nuts, maize, livestock, sugar cane, paddy, wheat, pyrethrum.
Industry/manufacturing (2009 est.): 22.6% of GDP. Types--textiles, agro-processing, light manufacturing, construction, steel, aluminum, paints, cement, cooking oil, beer, mineral water and soft drinks.
Trade (2009 est.): Exports--$2.74 billion (merchandise exports): coffee, cotton, tea, sisal, cashew nuts, tobacco, cut flowers, seaweed, cloves, fish and fish products, minerals (diamonds, gold, and gemstones), manufactured goods, horticultural products; services (tourism services, communication, construction, insurance, financial, computer, information, government, royalties, personal and other businesses). Major markets--U.K., Germany, India, Japan, Italy, China, Bahrain, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia. Primary imports--petroleum, consumer goods, machinery and transport equipment, used clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals. Major suppliers--U.K., Germany, Japan, India, Italy, U.S., United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Kenya.
Tanzania’s population is concentrated along the coast and isles, the fertile northern and southern highlands, and the lands bordering Lake Victoria. The relatively arid and less fertile central region is sparsely inhabited. So too is much of the fertile and well watered far west, including the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa (Malawi). About 80% of Tanzanians live in rural communities.
Zanzibar, population about one million (3% of Tanzania’s population), consists of two main islands and several small ones just off the Tanzanian coast. The two largest islands are Unguja (often referred to simply as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Zanzibaris, together with their socio-linguistic cousins in the Comoros Islands and the East Africa coast from modern-day southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, created Swahili culture and language, which reflect long and close associations with other parts of Africa and with the Arab world, Persia, and South Asia.
Tanzanians are proud of their strong sense of national identity and commitment to Swahili as the national language. There are roughly 120 ethnic communities in the country representing several of Africa’s main socio-linguistic groups." (Information:US State Dept.)