(Video)Africa’s richest woman stole fortune from her own country, according to documents

An award-winning investigative team has published files allegedly showing how Africa’s richest woman syphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of public money from her native country Angola into offshore accounts. Isabel dos Santos is the daughter of Angola’s ex-president, whose position gave her access to many lucrative yet suspicious deals.

Africa did not fail due to slavery, death and colonial exploitations

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

The proposition that the comparatively low quality development in some states of Africa is expressive and direct results of catastrophic colonial impact no longer evokes sufficient sympathy. The argument is increasingly becoming fragile and difficult to support by concrete facts. The argument desperately failed and became invalid in the face of the understanding that African continent is not the only continent that was savagely pillaged by inhuman colonially forces and treacherous wars of subordination and territorial acquisitions. Many outstanding kingdoms were wrecked while supplanting of various populations necessitated extensive destructions and vicious campaigns of massacres of millions of people. The devastation, the man’s inhumanity to man and the wars of total destruction were not specific to any continent. The wars came with woes, intolerable suffering, pains and deaths of several hundreds of millions statistically. The encouraging thing about this argument that blames colonialism for the present day embarrassment in Africa is that it is substantively a minority view, very unpopular.

In a definite term, every continent has horrifying chronicles of ordeal with colonialism, senseless wars of destruction and vicissitudes of different sorts. Margaret Macmillan, (2009) noted that “at the end of the first world war it had been possible to contemplate going back to business as usual. However, 1945 was different, so different that it has been called ‘Year Zero’. The capacity for destruction had been so much greater than in the earlier war that much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins. And this time civilians had been the target as much as the military. The figures are hard to grasp: as many as 60 million dead, 25 million of them Soviet. A new word, genocide, entered the language to deal with the murder of 6 million of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis.1

Germany today is an evidence of the resilience of the determined citizens to get it rebuilt after it was catastrophically ruined by the wars. The situations were bad, horrible and intolerable within and after the WWII. It was difficult to estimate how many millions of Germans that perished or uprooted. About 3 million Germans were humiliated and expelled from Czech and 1.3 million from Poland alone. It is difficult to estimate with precision how many millions of Germans that were decimated directly or indirectly by the wars. It is on record that between 1945 and 1948 over 2 million German women had abortion every year, a direct consequence of the WWII. It is believed that 70% of the houses and investments in Germany were destroyed during the war. And in the Soviet Union, 1,700 towns and 70,000 villages were obliterated. “Apart from the United States and allies such as Canada and Australia, who were largely untouched by the war’s destruction, the European powers such as Britain and France were grounded. Britain had largely bankrupted itself fighting the war and France had been stripped bare by the Germans. It was an era of pestilence famine and death. Great cities such as Warsaw, Kiev, Tokyo and Berlin were piles of rubbles and ashes.2

Violence, death and destruction were intrinsic to colonial exploitations. Colonialists used extreme forces which in most cases resulted in annihilation and expropriation of populations. In the case of Africa, these also included slavery that resulted disappearances of so many Africans some of whom perished on transit to America. “It is argued that colonial wars had strong genocidal overtones. The colonial situation was favourable to the deployment of extreme violence against indigenous people. This stretched as far as the war of decolonization, an extremely violent episode that defies clear characterization, but which fomented genocidal and other kinds of extreme violence from various contenders. 3

The world as it is today recuperated from the ruins of destruction, pains and deaths. It is an expression of the indomitability of human spirit. Man has always invented means of surviving self-imposed vicissitudes and he is today matching on boundlessly. Made in the image and likeness of God, man is creative, inventive and not subject to suppression, rather he is a ‘suppressor in chief’ and has subordinated the entire universe capriciously by means of science and technology. Creativity, inventiveness and indomitability are inviolable gifts of God to man. However, it is difficult to understand why the innate capacities are active and redundant at the same time. The capacities seemed expressively redundant when they are not effectively deployed to challenge demeaning experiences and situations. The redundancy cannot be justifiably blamed on God because he has already endowed man with the powers of invincibility. Man, also, cannot blame circumstance of any nature because he already has active powers to overcome.

The above hypothesis makes it difficult to understand why many nations are unable to stampede negating experiences of the past and match progressively forward reinventing themselves and providing creative solutions to their problems. The main objective of this essay is to demonstrate that African states and indeed many poor nations have to absolutely blame themselves for poverty and pitiable abjectness. This is because there is nothing complicated about their own experiences of wars, pains and deaths, the direct effects of terrible wars and/or colonialism. That colonialism devastated African states, enslaved the people and expropriated some of the resources are glaring facts, very self-evident. However, many Asian nations have grief-stricken colonial experiences comparable to that of Africa but unlike the Africans, Asians have successfully walked past the sorrowful path and have reinvented themselves, and through creativity exploded into fame and prosperity.

According to Negussie Siyum (2018), “the socio political set up of African countries has a similarity with those of the East Asian nations that achieved economic progress through exercising developmental state. These countries were able to solve their citizens’ unemployment through implementing technical education in their education policy, which is the peculiar feature of developmental state. Therefore, African leaders have to strive for change in the continent to reverse the situation through applying developmental state theory and gradually improve democratic culture in the region.4 Besides, “Africa is rich in natural as well as human resources which are the basis for the prosperity of a given nation. Despite its potential, the continent is still underdeveloped. Africa’s economic performance remains dismal and prospects for the new millennium are bleak. The continent, consisting of 54 countries, is the least developed continent of the Third World despite its immense wealth of mineral and natural resources.5

The Asia nations are becoming unmatched, championing innovations in science and technology and exporting prosperity. The nations crumbled and “exploited in 1900 had been transformed by 2017 into an industrious, dynamic and increasingly creative force capable of taking humanity to new heights in the 21st century. An Asian renaissance of the kind unfolding today was incomprehensible 100 years back. Such countries as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and India rose from the aches of ruin and defeat of colonialism and intolerable man made vicissitude to the present-day resurgence and renaissance, super powers of a sort. The second half of the 20th century in Asia is better known as the era of the emergence of prosperity in the East.6 Asian rebirth is a scolding-stick for Africa urging them to wake-up from perennial slumber. The rebirth reproves and nullifies ill fated thesis that Africa cannot help herself because she was colonised, exploited and enslaved more than a century ago. Regrettably, Africa’s economic forcast has been and steadily declining. Ayittey GB (2000) noted that economic growth rates in Africa in the 1970’s averaged only 4 to 5 percent while Latin America recorded a 6 and 7 percent growth rate. From 1986 to 1993 the continent’s real GNP per capita declined 0.7 percent, while the average for the Third World increased by 2.7 percent. For all Africa, real income per capita dropped by 14.6 percent from its level in 1965, making most Africans worse off than they were at independence.7 The principal reason for this continuous depressing economic degradation is that “African leaders are highly reluctant to change and bring new ideas. They are mostly unable to accept new policies that are compatible with the regions resources. Rulers in the continent have been and are still serving as weapons of politics for foreign and powerful governments rather than focusing on domestic prosperity in their respective countries. Development policies and strategies are not designed for the benefit of the citizens.8 The citizens are denied economic properity because the rulers deliberately ignored democratisation of the society, investment on education and active employment policies that have the potentials to increase productivity and invention. For Negussie S.,“today’s new economic winners are following much the same roads to power, while the laggards have somehow failed to duplicate this crucial formula for success. The key to relieving much of the world’s poverty lies in understanding the lessons history has to teach us…9

The Asian countries that are making waves today in science and technology were former colonial territories, pilloried by the former masters such as Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, the United States, and Japan between the 1500s to the mid-1940s. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia not colonized by Europeans. All of its neighbors were controlled by either the British or the French. Burma and Malaysia were British colonies, and Laos and Cambodia belonged to France. Some of these countries have dusted themselves of the disparaging past and have moved on in grand-style spreading development and prosperity. South Korea was able to absorb technology from the same Japanese that colonised and repressed them. The Koreans are the owners of Mitsubishi, Hundai etc. Japan ruled over Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and half of China. These nations are today super successes and have risen to become economic giants.

The fact that the Asians threw off the colonial yoke in the 20th century is a great lesson for Africa and indeed all others who have refused to look inward for self redemption instead of transposing blames. Africa needed re-invention. It is imperative that she is able to adopt and acclimate models of development that best suits her multifarious challenges of growth in science and technology in order to lift her citizens out of self pity and poverty. The leaders of the individual nations needed to pave the way for ideal development models. By exaggerating the disparaging impact of colonialism, the Africans directly underappreciated the innate power they have to triumph over the negative past just like others.

My candid view is that colonialism ceased to be the political, social, economic and developmental problems of the colonized at the end of the forceful occupation. This is because the autonomy attained is autonomy for sovereignty. The sovereignty implied choice and right to self-determination. It is within the power and right of the former colonial states to make informed decisions to move forward away from the past or to surreptitiously re-invite the former oppressors in a new phase of neo-colonialism as it is alleged in French African countries. If all other former colonial states decidedly reinvented themselves, Africa has no reason to remain behind in self-pity because states were invaded, overpowered and plundered more than ten decades ago. Colonial stories humidify the spirit of the African. It is a dark spot for Africa. Colonialism left Africa with psychological damages, thank God for the dismantling decades ago. Today, African nations have unlimited opportunities of quality progress by emphasizing technical education and economic nationalism. Focusing on technical education will help the continent to reduce youth unemployment and the negative implications. If other continents were able to cure the psychological damages of colonial cruelties, Africa can.

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It is more infuriating when these arguments against breaking the york of the past curses are juxtaposed with the chastising imprudence of the continent’s treacherous rulers that the citizens permitted to dictate, oppress and subvert meaningful processes in the nations’ development. By means of retrogressive politics, the rulers imposed themselves on their various nations and consequently tinker the constitutional systems to give them leeway for perennial seizure of political power and control. With the distortion of the constitution, the demobilization of national institutions and destruction of civil service, the rulers intentionally defer and stunt all genuine processes of development in their respective states. The desecration of the constitution and viral attacks on the institutions of the state immediately after independence were part of the major reasons why many states in Africa are descriptively poor and ravaged by dearth of meaningful development and spells of insecurity.

Southeast Asian states are dynamic and independent from desperate povery and want today because when they took their nations away from the former oppressors and collaborators they handed them over to leaders with proven records of productivity and integrity. Besides, the Asians are vigilant and actively superintended trends in their developmental aspirations. Today the economies of these nations are booming and advancing. Africa failed and she is failing continuously not on account of colonial denigrations but on account of her inability to untie herself from suffocating york of self-injuries such as bad leadership and lethargic citizens. Africa’s foremost plagues are bad leadership and citizens that uphold and reward leaders without capacity for progressive utilization of her vast endowments. Africa rewards indolent leaders; these leaders have been colossally counter productive. What the Asians did and still doing for the stupendous progress is not magical. It is a familiar tactics, the prioritization of quality leadership and productive governance. The leaders took the citizens serious, while the citizens show that they are unprepared to countenance compromise in responsibility and service delivery. With the active consent of the people the Asian leaders invested on quality education emphasizing perfection. Science was the topmost priority. They focused on literacy and education, reformed agrarian structures, developed effective infrastructures and invested in genuine industrialization. The implication is that African states will be comparatively poor, delegated and disparaged if they are unwilling to embrace the above redemptive options. When African states individually and/or collectively embrace the Southeast Asian models of development, past colonial experience, past pains of death and former exploitations cannot stand on their paths to explosive development. Africa has the resources to cause consternation in the world of science and technology if only she takes the right path.

Let us cursorily look at what Japan did to hit top and remain paramount even without natural endowment. The Japanese rank second only to the United States in spending on scientific research and technology development. “However, in Japan, 80% of all research and development is carried out by industry. This is important because industry is more likely to support the type of research that will result in new technologies and products. This is the reason why Japan is the world’s economic powerhouse. Some of the more successful applications of the fruits of Japanese research and development include high-speed trains, robotics, semiconductor chips, telecommunications, cancer research, and environmental technologies.10

If the pains of wars and destruction of Hiroshima and Nagaski failed to stop the Japansese from bewildering the world by their spate of development, why will the pains colonialism stop collective African states from making meaningful progress? According to MacMillan, the political “impact of the war was also great. The once great powers of Japan and Germany looked as though they would never rise again. In retrospect, of course, it is easy to see that their peoples, highly educated and skilled, possessed the capacity to rebuild their shattered societies. As many as 60 million dead, great cities reduced to rubble, families torn apart … The second world war caused unprecedented hardship, but it also accelerated change. 11

It is imperative Africa looks at herself with critical seriousness to discover this urgency of reinventing herself. Africa needs to learn from Asia the miracles of her resurgence from similar colonial ruins to power house of development, technology and innovations. According to Nwedo, C.O, “the reverses of progressive advancement to productive politics after independence in some states of Africa are largely responsible for retrogressions evident in depraved politics, imprudent policies and bad governance. There is demonstrable degeneration in adaptations to constitutional democracy after intense struggles that ended in political independence.12

Many African states are finding themselves in extremely disappointing positions due to lack of commitments of the rulers to national development prescriptions. About a decade after independence, 1970, Nigeria was adjudged far better than most countries in the so-called Asian Tiger. The oil was flowing and resources were multifarious, there were practically everything that makes a country great and powerful but Nigeria failed traumatically due recklessness of her imprudent leaders. The failing became inevitable as the leaders were and still unable to deploy resource in the expansion of sectors and diversifications of the economy. Today, what is evident is diminished profiles of quality development, prospects of increasing poverty and dearth of viable infrastructure worsened by comparatively non performing economy and combative general insecurity.

The predicaments of Nigeria are self-inflicted and therefore, a folly to censor extraneous factor such as imperialism. This proposition does not exclude the fact that imperialism still exists in Nigeria. Sadly, we have agonizing cases of tiny elites of all classes imperializing the rest by seizure of political and economic powers and narcissistically enslaving the vast majority. The oppression and repression, the stealing and expropriation of the resources, the theft of political mandates, corruption and violence are devices used by the Nigeria’s elite cliques to subjugate and rule the citizens more treacherously than the former colonial masters. Experiences in Nigeria are replicated in other African states where there are intractable problems of development and bad governance. The primary reason for lack of development and bad governance among other factors is weak national institutions.

Institutions are the basic elements orchestrating sustainable and desirable development. Strong and well-structured institutions are powerful forces for quality national development, while reverses are scripts for irredeemable failure. Usually institutions in the African continent are mostly characterized by bureaucratic process superintended by intensely corrupt officials and professionals. For Nwedo, “it is unconstructive that many African states have spiralled double times way from parts of authentic political aspirations and approximately into deep self-inflicted lawlessness. The most popular political trend currently is totalitarian rule by an institutionalized oligarchy where elections are not meant for change of unproductive governance but for its legitimisation.13  The end result of fixed elections are wrong leaders. Wrong leaders make bad decisions that affect the people and development comprehensively. According to Napoleon Hill, “there are two forms of leadership. The first and by far most effective, is leadership by consent of, and with the sympathy of the followers. The second is leadership by force, without the consent and sympathy of the followers. History is filled with evidences that leadership by force cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators and kings is significant. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely.14 However, the very confusing thing about the question of imposed bad leaders in Africa is that these leaders refused to go notwithstanding woeful lack of imagination and low profile performances. “Without imagination, the leader is incapable of meeting the emergencies, and of creating plans for guiding his followers efficiently.15

If we consent to including India among Asian countries that are robustly challenging the disparagement of the colonial past, and have productively adhered to self-targets of rapid development and mortal combat against poverty, one is confronted with the challenge of answering the question why is Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh for instance still in deep poverty and stagnation?   The answer to the question is self-evident. Most countries in Central Asia are overwhelmed by their contradictions. Like some African states, they were ‘cursed’ by bad leadership syndrome, traitorous politicians and terrible mismanagement of their religious and ethnic disparities. Factors kept the nations profoundly distracted and impoverished. But, they are inclined to blame the West, colonialism and/or the Zionists for culpable inability to triumph over their perennial developmental plight.

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Regrettably, the countries have very smart political and religious elites that kept the masses busy contending with empty casts of religious piety, as their common patrimony are mismanaged and looted. The intermittent religious fights are part of the tactics of running the nations aground. Iranian revolution that was expected to provide the platform for democratic governance imperative for speedy development of the vastly endowed nation ended surfacing powerful and irreproachable rulers. The combination of both secular and theocratic powers made rulers of Iran extra-ordinary, determining unilaterally the country’s national interest. With the increasing contraction of the world, the nations that have performed badly have vast arrays of models to choose from. These models have been tested and trusted instruments for hastening economic growth and quality national development. No nation can afford to do nothing fast and urgent in the face of confrontational mass unemployment and poverty without devastating consequences.

References

  1. Margaret MacMillan, “Rebuilding the world after the second world war” in The Guardian September 11, 2009).
  2. ibid.
  3. Journal of genocide Research vol.14, 2012 Issue 3-4
  4. Negussie Siyum (2018, )Why Africa Remains Underdeveloped Despite its Potential? Which Theory can Help Africa to Develop? Crimson Publishers February 15, 2018.
  5. ibid.
  6. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/qyp88Tce8TyTl25nmToagK/Asias-ordeal-with-colonialism
  7. Ayittey GB (2000) Why africa is poor. Lome, Africa, pp. 1-16.
  8. Negussie Siyum (2018, )Why Africa Remains Underdeveloped Despite its Potential? Which Theory can Help Africa to Develop? Crimson Publishers February 15, 2018.
  9. ibid.
  10. com/Asia-and-Oceania/Japan-science and technology
  1. MacMillan M. op.cit.
  2. Nwedo, C.O. (2019) in “Laurent Gbagbo: How Failed Democracy Turns Africans Against Rulers” in news Oct. 20, 2019).
  3. ibid.
  4. Napoleon Hill (1960) Think and Grow Rich, Ballantine Book New York p.86.
  5. ibid.

 

Sani laments threat to democracy, urges UN, EU sanctions against electoral offenders

Senator Shehu Sani 

Human rights activist and pro-democracy crusader, Senator Shehu Sani, has urged the United Nations and the European Union (EU) to immediately impose visa sanction and other restrictions against President Muhammadu Buhari and elements under his government for undermining democracy in the country. According to him, if the current trend is allowed to continue it would mar the conduct of 2023 general elections. Sani explained that unless the international community rises up to its responsibility to save democracy in Nigeria, the subsequent conduct of elections in the country after the outcome of the recent governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa States might lead to chaos and erode democracy. He was reacting to the violence, the use of firearms against voters, the killings and general malpractices that were recorded during the elections in Kogi and Bayesa States. He said unless the international community responds appropriately to sanction the anti-democratic elements in Nigeria the country’s future stands endangered.

According to him, “The only way to address the problems of elections in Nigeria, apart from implementing electoral reforms, is through sanctions on individuals that are fully involved in electoral malpractices. The European Union should not sit down and simply fold its arms and allow only the United States to carry out the responsibility of sanctioning individuals that are involved in election fraud or violence.

“The EU must join other democratic nations of the world. A no-fly sanction must be declared against elements in the army, police, INEC and the political sphere that are involved in violence, killings and other malpractices internationally. “They cannot fly to any country. The African Union (AU) must also be serious about this political problem. Visa restrictions should not only be limited to people going to the United States. The EU and other democratic nations of the world who are not part of the EU must impose sanctions. The airline companies of these countries must apply sanctions against anti-democratic elements”. Also, Sani blamed President Buhari for allowing the country’s democracy to nose-dive, saying that if former President Goodluck Jonathan had followed Buhari’s antecedent, he would not have been in office as incumbent president.

According to him, “The former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has been consistently drawing the attention of the country to the new reality as far as elections in Nigeria are concerned. There is general consensus that the 2015 elections were free, fair and credible. Most of those who lost elections did not go to court to challenge the results. The president at that time, Jonathan, warmly and heartedly congratulated Buhari.

“Buhari promised the country that he would leave behind a legacy of fair, transparent and credible elections in the country. But the 2019 elections and subsequent elections have clearly demonstrated that the president rather has drown us back to pre-2015, particularly the military era. Our elections are now characterized by violence, thuggery, ballot stuffing and ballot snatching; the use of arms, killings and outright manipulations. This is not what Nigerians bargained for. The two elections in Bayelsa and Kogi are an eye-opener.

“The government of Buhari has lost the moral ground to organize elections that the world can see as free and credible. We have never had it so bad in this country where the international, domestic observers, the media and Nigerians will unanimously condemn elections such as the ones in Kogi and Bayelsa. I have said it many times that President Buhari should be concerned about his role in Nigeria’s history.

“What kind of legacy does he want to leave behind when the elections that brought him to power is more credible than the ones he is organizing? So, as far as I am concerned, this present INEC, as it is today, and the conduct of elections show that we have gone backward to the dark and stone ages where election results are simply written and announced”.

Sani excoriated the electoral umpire for taking the country’s democracy backwards just as he insisted that most of those in elective positions today would not have been elected if the electoral umpire did its good job properly. “When you see a political leader using violence, thugs, manipulations, fire arms to secure votes, he knows very well that he has lost the moral high ground and he does not have the support of the people. So, we cannot call this a democracy if the method and processes of getting elected into office is through violence, bloodshed and manipulation of votes, ballot snatching and ballot stuffing.

“You can’t build honesty in a foundation of fraud. The assessment of the UN, the EU, and international and domestic observers said they have never seen anything like this.“With subsequent elections in the country, especially the 2023 general elections, I think the message has been sent clearly to everybody that the means of assuming power is not through a peaceful, credible and transparent elections. It is the ability to gather and garner an equivalent force that may likely play out to counter the other side. And I am very sorry to say that the judiciary and the National Assembly, as they are today, are not in a good position to address the problems of elections in the country”. (The Guardian)

Nigeria: Neo-colonial masters in our Senate

By Tonnie Iredia

Apart from electioneering periods when some politicians project their opponents as non-Nigerians for the purposes of de-marketing such opponents to voters, the general presumption is that all our political leaders are bonafide Nigerians. Occasionally however, some of them behave like foreign oppressors. In fact, the average Nigerian politician is yet to depart from the attitude of our early leaders who stepped into the shoes of the white colonial masters and lived in the government reservation areas (GRA) while the masses were consigned to squalor. 59 years after the British left Nigeria, we have white leaders in black skin who want other citizens to tighten their belts to meet austerity while they earn 300 percent of their salaries in retirement after working for a maximum of only 8 years.

Today, there are senators who initiate bills that are akin to those made during the era of the ‘divine right of kings’ when the goal was to disallow free speech and preserve the privileged position of the ruling class. When it is convenient especially when they are in the opposition, they shout the indispensability of a free press to democracy but at the slightest opportunity, they seek to make laws that criminalize political dissent and free speech.

The most prominent inclination of the moment in our undeveloped clime is how to make laws to check hate speech and fake news. Accordingly, there is now before the senate the Anti-hate speech bill sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate. At the same time, there is another bill designed to regulate the use of social media in Nigeria, introduced by Mohammed Sani Musa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Services. Musa’s goal is to curb fake news on the internet. Before Senator Biodun Olujimi got back her stolen mandate, her opponent Senator Adedayo Adeyeye who served briefly as Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Publicity sought to bar the media from covering the budget defence of certain bodies. His colleague, Senator Sandy Obuh (Cross River) openly supported him by applauding secrecy in governance. Painfully, none of these anti open-government senators seems to recognize the existence of several laws dealing with the same subject. For example, efforts to convince them that the words of their proposed laws are in all respects same as those of the Cyber Crimes Act of 2015 appear to have failed. Since 1961, we have always had the law of defamation whose main purpose is to protect everyone from being hurt by reckless statements made by other persons. Any person whose reputation is so attacked can successfully sue if there is proof that the offending statement lowers the complainant in the estimation of people or causes him either to be shunned or avoided or exposed to hatred, contempt or ridicule. Libel, that is defamatory statements in a permanent form such as a written statement requires no proof and therefore as the lawyers would say are actionable per se. At the same time, Slander, a verbal statement which is usually less serious may be similarly treated in a few cases such as when a Lady is described as a prostitute; as one top politicians allegedly called a high court judge last week. If extant laws are so detailed, what is the rationale for the current penchant for laws? Could it be that some legislators so much admire the vestiges of colonial rule that they want to return the old law of sedition in its crudest form? Do they know that originators of sedition laws have long repealed them in their own country? These questions are pertinent because the way new laws are being pursued gives the impression that they would run on auto gear. In which case, once they are made those who breach them would be auto identified, auto tried and auto sanctioned suggesting that challenges such as poor detection, apprehension and arrest would vanish, no police, no court adjournments etc.

There are however a few posers. With the new auto laws, what would be the fate of Joseph Odok, a Nigerian lawyer and critic and Agba Jalingo, a Magazine Publisher who have for months been in detention in Calabar for allegedly criticising Governor Ben Ayade? Would the auto laws have stopped the international listing of Jalingo among the “World’s 10 Most Urgent Cases” of threats to Press Freedom? Again, how else would the new auto laws have dealt with Yahuza Tijani, a student of Bayero University Kano who is in jail without trial for allegedly using a Facebook post to insult wealthy Kabiru Isma’il – a member representing Madobi state constituency at the Kano State House Assembly? If as at today, certain citizens can use their wealth or influence to incarcerate fellow citizens, what would happen when more laws are enacted to ostensibly deal with every observable infraction in the land? Here, we need to watch our current descent into a repressive entity which is clearly contrary to the democratic ideals our people have always chosen. Fake or hate news is no doubt undesirable and none has received the support of anyone including those preaching caution.

Our premise is that the solution does not lie in the churning out of repetitive draconian laws. It is worse that the laws are not only more in number but have also turned out to be more intense. At the height of the authoritarian colonial dispensation, laws did not carry death penalty. In the case of Sedition, for instance, clause 7 prescribed a maximum of 15 years in jail for offenders, but today lawmakers are calling for capital punishment. Are such imperialist tendencies not informed by the awareness that only the poor will be punished? This seems to explain why the proposed hate speech bill resurfaced last week after it was thrown out by the immediate past senate in March 2018. But then, is hate speech the only evil calling for attention in our clime today that every effort is directed to it? Even the executive is not left out. The week before, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed announced that broadcast stations in Nigeria that air hate speech and inciting comments will now attract a N5 million fine. This according to the Minister is part of the broadcast regulator’s reforms to deal with hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency. But no one is doing anything about the unpatriotic activities of those making it hard for our nation to develop. Why is there no bill seeking to punish with death, heinous economic crimes like budget padding? In 2016, a major newspaper published its findings that “although constituency projects are advertised as required by law, legislators have devised dubious ways of ensuring that only companies fronting for them or those belonging to their cronies are pre-qualified.” When will someone propose laws to stop fraudulent constituency projects? If those guilty of hate speech must die by hanging how best should we punish those who burn their political opponents alive during elections? This is a poser of the week for our neo-colonialist legislators. (Vanguard)

Zero chance of a Labour majority? Maybe. But Corbyn doesn’t need one

Nigeria: Kogi, Bayelsa Poll and The Assault On Our Democratic Soul

 

By  Unoigbokhai Adamu

 

Image result for Kogi, Bayelsa Poll and The Assault On Our Democratic Soul

The major takeaway from the just concluded governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States is that stakeholders in the current democratic process do not give a hoot if the system collapses. They would rather have their way and care less if our collective future is sacrificed on the altar of their selfishness and narrow mindedness. The election only took place in two states out of the 36 states of the federation, yet the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) found it difficult to organise transparent and credible elections that would satisfy the yearnings of most Nigerians, who see a free and fair election as a sine qua non to good governance.

Election materials always fail to arrive on time at the various polling stations, and when they arrive, some of the voting kits might not be working. Worse still is the fact that INEC has made itself so bias that Nigerians are calling for the replacement of the chairman, Professor Mohamed Yakubu. The so called professor has shown by the 2019 and the just concluded one, that he lacks the capacity to supervise a credible poll.

The Police did not fare any better. The thousands of police deployed to the states by the national command failed to prevent violence from taking place in Kogi and Bayelsa. They instead, looked the other way while thugs and other unwanted persons had a field day manipulating the process against the wishes of the people. Indeed, most election observers and those of us watching it on television, were wondering if there were policemen in those polling units where thugs were busy perpetrating violence.

Of course, as expected, the Inspector General of Police hasn’t found it expedient to address the nation on why his boys went to sleep when innocent voters were being maimed and killed while exercising their civic duty. Maybe, just maybe, he will find the courage to explain to Nigerians what actually happened and what the Force is doing to ensure that in the future, they would provide a level playing field to all political parties.

In a corollary is the implicit approval given to the agencies responsible for organising elections by those in authority, that they are free to manipulate the process in favour of the ruling party. The rush by the presidency to congratulate the governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello, when most election observers had called for the cancellation of the election, is not only disturbing, but an embarrassment to lovers of democracy. And expectedly, the so called winners have made the proverbial trip to Aso rock to pay homage to the king, for making it possible. It’s sad and shameful!

It was in this same country that a gentleman called, Goodluck Jonathan, went out of his way and against the strong resistance of his party, to appoint Professor Attahiru Jega to take over from the much discredited, Professor Maurice Iwu, not minding the robust credentials and integrity of the Bayero University Professor of Political Science. Jonathan was to later become the major victim of Jega’s no-nonsense and uncompromising attitude when he lost the 2015 presidential poll, an election conducted by Jega.

It was to the eternal credit of Jonathan that he accepted the result and congratulated Buhari, thereby saving the nation undue tension and possible crisis. Thank goodness that Jonathan’s altruistic gesture has brought him the much needed global recognition and respect.

On the contrary, what we saw in Kogi and Bayelsa is the desperation of politicians who are ready to hang on to power at all cost, even when they are not popular and therefore do not deserve to be elected. Hence, the danger of keeping quiet while these rapacious characters rampage the terrain, is that good governance and performance would no longer matter in elections; it would mean that once you have the police, INEC and other relevant bodies in your pocket, the electorate no longer matter. It would only get worse as we approach 2023. Needless to note that we still have election next year in Edo and Ondo states. And Anambra would follow before the general elections.

I have always argued that the unholy trinity between the ruling party, Police and INEC have been the bane of our failure to conduct credible and transparent elections in this country. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the chief culprit of this for many years before they lost to the All Progressive Party (APC) in 2015. Clearly, the APC has been operating the same template and our democracy has been the worse for it. Or how does one explain the spurious N10b ‘grant’ given to Yahaya Bello by the federal government barely 48 hours to election?

For sure, it would be difficult to have a totally free and fair election. There is no flawless election anywhere in the world. But the minimum demand is that Nigerians should be free to exercise their right to vote without fear or favour. The way forward therefore, is for those responsible to make this possible. President Muhammadu Buhari should make this part of the legacy to bequeath to the country when his term ends in 2023.

As we have seen all over the world, democracy is never a destination, it’s indeed a journey. But the stakeholders must make conscious efforts to see elections as a competition among parties and not an avenue to cause mayhem or create atmosphere of fear. Election disruption offenders must be arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others and the National Assembly should be more interested in churning out laws that would protect our democracy. To me, that should be a priority going forward, because we must avoid a situation where our people would lose faith in the ballot box.

More importantly, the judiciary should rise up and assert itself. The arm that Alexander Hamilton described as the least form of government has the constitutional responsibility to save our fragile democracy. And though a co-equal arm of government, the judiciary in my opinion, has not lived up to the expectations of Nigerians. Thus, it has a historical responsibility to help to reinvent the democratic process.

Adamu, a journalist wrote from Benin City

Laurent Gbagbo: How failed democracy turns Africans against rulers

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

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Former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo

In general terms, socio-political and economic problems in many states of Africa are orchestrated by sudden stunt in progressive advancement to productive politics. Productive politics rises and falls on qualitative governance. Qualitative governance can also include deliberate policies and programmes of the government that impact substantially the lives of the citizens. Here, I refer to vigorously prudent policies on education, health and infrastructure, basically. The instantaneously perceivable values of quality education are informed and active populace, ‘highbred citizens’. The more informed the citizens are, the more they actively and autonomously support themselves and contribute meaningful to the community and the nation. Quality education provides the citizens with “opportunities to develop capabilities and dispositions to act with moral and ethical integrity showing a commitment to the values of democracy, equity and justice”. An informed citizen understands and appreciates trends in politics, the individual’s roles in the economy and obligations to the self and the community. Such an individual has the capacity to ‘diagnose’ and become informed on inherent values of policies and programmes of the government and how to react to them. The individual comprehends personal roles in governance and how to fulfil the roles. It is difficult to understand an active and functioning society in isolation of operational health institutions.

It is not disputable that citizens are impoverished and desperately poor when are without physical infrastructures with potentials to support, articulately, individual citizen’s self-help economic and social creativities. The trend today is that without stable power supply one is substantively demobilised. Electricity is a potent inter-connector to productivity of all sorts. All industrialised societies are societies ‘enthusiastically’ supported with efficient infrastructure. Well-organized infrastructures amortise quantum leap in technology and innovation. It is impossible to successfully talk about impact-active societies without references to those societies that have vanquished debilitating mass ignorance, dysfunctional health and social services, unstable electricity supply, frustrating transportation system and above all chronic insecurity.

The reverses of progressive advancement to productive politics after independence in some states of Africa are largely responsible for retrogressions evident in depraved politics, imprudent policies and bad governance. There is demonstrable degeneration in adaptations to constitutional democracy after intense struggles that ended in political independence. Paradoxically, it is the champions of the struggles for emancipation that turned round to enslave the folks by introduction of one party totalitarian states where they made themselves irreproachable and uncontrollable in the aspirations to seize and hold the political power over and against collective interest. The political, social and economic atmospheres in most former colonial states are agonizingly depreciatory to the point that there is nostalgia for imperial era.

It is unconstructive that many African states have spiralled double times way from parts of authentic political aspirations and approximately into deep self-inflicted lawlessness. The most popular political trend currently is totalitarian rule by an institutionalized oligarchy where elections are not meant for change of unproductive governance but for its legitimisation. This means of legitimating rogue leaders and political tyrants has been incredibly successful in dozens of the states. Astonishingly, however, the derogatory trend had a setback in the Gambia where Yahya Jammeh was ousted through polls and efforts to annul and reorder fresh poll were unsuccessful due overwhelming pressures on him to step aside.

The dictator had strategies to dominate and rule perennially by “…changing the rules and electoral laws to open up holes in the electoral system that could make it easy for him to win the worst of seemingly contested elections.1 Prior to the election in 2016 that humiliated Jammeh, most political pundits were already convinced that the dictator will win the election with landslide but “not through the popular choice but through grand schemes blatantly pioneered by the National Assembly where the dictator controls with absolute majority, and what appeared like a lack of fighting bones among the opposition to defiantly oppose and combat the open fraud in the electoral system.2

The trend again failed in Ivory Coast where the then incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was flabbergasted by defeat in a supposedly free, fair and credible presidential election. The purported turning round of the unfavourable result to favour the incumbent incited protestation from the main challenger, and constituted the main structural obstacle to deepening democratic rule in the country and the leadership vacuum created in the period of the disagreement was latitude to violence and unrest. The disputed result costs the nation again of untimely death of hundreds of Ivoirians and destruction of billions of dollars worth of properties and time. The election in Ivory Coast that was basically viewed as the last healing balm for a long fractured country then appeared to add to the afflictions of the vulnerable Ivoirians. An opportunity for a competitive political process that could help the nation build a wider reach for accommodative politics of fair play was apparently smashed by injudicious political choices of the nation’s self-gratifying political class ‘who allowed themselves to be ceased by the Africa’s durable political cankerworm of ethnic chauvinism.8

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Against baits for compromise and reconciliation the then president, Gbagbo, obstinately held on to his claims of repeated victories and locked himself in presidential palace as his soldiers were out there fighting to silence the opposition groups. According to a commentator, Gbagbo had become irrationally defiant and was…no longer capable of making sound judgment either of his capacity to hold on or his capacity to defeat his increasingly numerous enemies. He became so inured to the reality that hole up in the presidential palace, and surrounded by UN, French and his rival’s republican forces, he expected the tide of the battle to turn somewhere down the line to fetch him victory.3 Gbagbo’s stubborn will and self-destructive stance ended ‘melodramatically as he was arrested in his bed sparsely clad. Humiliation has now needlessly came upon him.4

Eventually, the former Ivorian ‘smart’ leader was disparaged, caricatured in International Criminal Court in Hague and assaulted with punches and blows on streets by folks who were aggrieved by the former president’s indiscretion. The Gbagbo’s defiance and erroneous politics were no doubt reprehensible, but he was dependably a sparkling carbon copy of most of African rulers. Gbagbo has obviously suffered the fate and embarrassment of one imprudently adamant and, by his recalcitrance attracted vituperations of the wide-ranging publics in African and beyond. The indiscretions by the self-absorbed political class in Ivory Coast have always spiraled into deadly confrontations between north and south and effectively weaponing the dispositions of religious and tribal hostilities built over the years. The deteriorated situation then in Ivory Coast demanded cautious approach. For clement C. Chigbo, we were of the view that the belligerent language of forceful intervention in Ivory Coast bordered on idiocy in the high places, lack of critical foresight and objective perspective and above all, a profundity and pathetic lack of true appreciation of the facts on ground and the issues involved in this political impasse in Ivory coast.5 Gratitude to God at the terminals of the speculations on the practicable solutions something more calming resulted tempering the potentially explosive situation in Ivory Coast and returning relative peace even if comprehensive programmes of reconciliation were ineffective in assuaging all the folks thus the persisting animosity.

Robert Mugabe tenaciously held on in Zimbabwe after bruising and stifling every other political power contender. It is not an exaggeration to assert that Zimbabwe was ruined by Mugabe’s political egocentricity. For some commentators, Mugabe’s political demise was heralded by firing of his then Vice Emerson Mnangagwa who was seen as an obstacle to presidential ambitions of his wife, Grace Mugabe. The army capitalized the indiscretion and subtly deposed him. Mugabe relied preponderantly on army as he rampaged Zimbabwe. The hypothesis was that the army was infuriated by the prospects of handing the country over to Madam Grace. But Mugabe’s resistance to his ‘rebelling’ military was futile. Though the army considered ouster of the tyrant irreversible, they rejected description of their political action against the autocrat as a “coup and assured the safety of the first family. The military maintained that their action was targeted at criminals around Mugabe and persons believed to be behind the economic stress that Zimbabweans were facing”. Mugabe finally resigned November 21 compelled by mediation, threat of recall by Zanu-PF and impeachment processes by the parliament, mass protests calling for his departure and threats of intervention by the regional political bloc SADC. Sadly, Mugabe died September 6, 2019 at the age of 95. It is striking to observe that in spite of the long-term misrule, the despot was irreplaceable to a lot of Zimbabweans. This is neither because he has done well nor has any other value to add but because the ethnic cards he plays were magnetizing.

In Africa and in deed in many so called developing societies religion and ethnicity are tremendous electoral factors than competence. This accounts for the reasons why intolerably bad rulers keep returning to power with implausible landslide victories or forced the way back to power in extremely fraudulent electoral processes and continue to misrule devoid of consequences. It is becoming common knowledge that the combustible sectional cards in Africa’s politics have nothing to do with existence of the tribes and diverse religious orientations but in the structures and characters of the Africa’s political aristocrats. It is no longer plausible to blame the structural fragility of African states on imperial inputs. No, the contemporary Africa is the author and sustainer of her malaise. Fortunately, it is within her volition to edict valid transformation of the negating order. For Onunaji ‘the deformed neo-colonial states which are dysfunctional in every aspects of the basic responsibility to the citizens are only potent in the service of the elite handlers.6 The unreformed neo-colonial states are for the handlers the guarantor of unfathomable wealth, power and influence. Therefore, to take possession of a state, no rule is too sacrosanct to breach, no consensus is binding enough and even the helpless population, in whose name the state purportedly exist is absolutely expendable.7

Jammeh, Paul Biya, late Mugabe, Joseph Kabila, Gbagbo and their cohorts knew too well the deprivation and the sense of vulnerability that comes with the loss of power in Africa. The loss of power in Africa is beyond the period political sabbaticals of opposition parties in the west, who endure the loss of power without the vicissitude of vendetta and reprisals. Gbagbo and his clique like every other vanquished group in Africa know they are heading to a reprisal and absolutely intolerant government.8 The cruel beating, slapping and punching of Gbagbo on the streets of France by Ivoirians are specifically additional to the woes to the former president.

However, everything may not be appropriately right about the detestations and aspersions poured on the former dictator and the lack of sympathy from friends and foes in the international community that always give impression of a compassionate agency. This is remarkable. This detestation may be traced primarily to the character of mainstream international media. It is noted that ‘the tendentiousness of the reportage in the Ivorian crisis was not only ludicrous but indicative of the fact that truth of the election that ousted him was blatantly ignored and facts were skewed up and presented in a manner to serve a certain sinister unknown and ulterior motives. All these tended to suggest that there were well orchestrated conspiracy not to tell the truth but to inflame the nation.9 The hypothetical opportunity to inflame the nation was seen playing out in the will of the incumbent to hang on to power until it turned out shoddier. In addition, there is an intensifying tradition in the west of uncritical supports to opposition groups seeking liberal political environment. More support is garnered when a move for political change is directed at a ‘dictator’.

Dictators continually cling on illegitimate tools to legalise their suppressive regime and develop oligarchic institutions that prioritises their cleavages to power. It has become increasing evident that elections and reforms in some states are defensive and rationalizing strategies of popular dictators unwilling to step aside. As the popular Arab Spring political uprising was gradually absorbed giving way to transitory changes of strategy by individual national dictators, ‘the steps taken by Arab governments were not democratizing reforms, rather there were carefully circumscribed efforts designed precisely to head off the possibility of true democratization by alleviating popular dissatisfaction with the regimes. Some regimes, such as those in Morocco and Jordan, have managed to stay in place by persisting with such a strategy.10 The dictators have time-tested tactics of dealing with popular demands for change or democratic reforms. These rulers in the eyes of the western powers inexpediently squander the chances of inclusive or democratic politics at every election. It is noticeable that western media propaganda have rightly or wrongly supported and given every logistic to oppositions seeking displacement of ‘unjust’ administration.

We saw this role in Kenya between the former president Kibaki and opposition leader, Raila Odinga. It was with the backing of the western powers that government of national unity was formed in Kenya that gave opposition, a prime minister slot. The same was replicated in Zimbabwe between late Robert Mugabe and late Morgan Tshangari. Even the revolutionary uprising in the Arab world that targeted displacement of undemocratic governments endeared the western powers and has been applauded by the excited main western media. It was natural that Vladimir Putin accused the Europe and America of contributing to mounting oppositions against imposition of himself repeatedly against the interest of the greater Russian public. Since democratic dispensation in Russian, Putin has had the rare advantages of doing whatever he wishes with the power and politics of Russia. Putin caused mutations of the constitution to give himself automatic prime ministerial position immediately after he exhausted constitutionally approved two consecutive tenures as president. Later, he swapped position with the former president, Dmitry Mevdev. By this arrangement, Putin reoccupies the presidency and the president stepped aside into prime minster position, an arrangement opposition groups decried and vowed against. However, the opposition was impotent and incapable of halting the denigration of Russians.

All governments rest on some kind of mixture of coercion and consent, but democracies are unique in the degree to which their stability depends on the consent of a majority of those governed. Almost as a given, theories of democracy stress that democratic stability requires a widespread belief among both elites and masses that democracy is the best form of government for their society, and hence that the democratic regime is morally entitled to rule.11 The global trend today is glaringly anti-dictatorship, no matter how benevolent the junta is. People are more and more resolute to partake in determining the trend of their lives and shaping their future. This surely makes sense.12 By boldly confronting the tyrants without fear and any where irrespective of circumstances, Africans can demonstrate their commitment to culture of cleaner and more productive politics.

Liberia sinking under ‘King George’

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

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This discussion is principally about Liberia and her embattled president, Mr. George Weah (alias, King George), but let’s first draw from recent historical occurrences in other African countries to broaden our perspective and boost our lesson.

By 1990, Fredrick Chiluba had reaped immense popularity and goodwill from his trade union activities through the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) whose chairman he was for many years. ZCTU was the major umbrella labour union in Zambia with thirty-five different unions affiliated to it. Apart from leading a tireless battle for the welfare of workers which earned him several arrests and detentions, Chiluba was for many years at the forefront of campaigns to end Zambia’s one-party system. From October 24, 1964, when Zambia gained independence from Britain, she was ruled by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his party, United National Independence Party (UNIP). Mr. Chiluba became the leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and in Zambia’s first multiparty election which took place on October 31, 1991, the Chiluba-led MMD defeated Kaunda’s UNIP and Chiluba was sworn in as Zambia’s second president since independence amidst wild, widespread celebrations, thus ending the 25-year rule of UNIP. The BBC magazine, “Focus On Africa” of January-March 1992 put him on its cover with the caption, “Small Man – Big Victory”!

After Chiluba’s first term of five years, he contested and won a second term. But his attempt to amend his country’s constitution to get a third term in office received no support from the parliament despite the overwhelming majority his party enjoyed there. Immediately he left office, his successor, Mr. Levy Mwanawasa, whom he had campaigned vigorously for, ordered his trial for massive corruption. He continued to face trial despite his failing health. The government announced in May 2008, that it had recovered “nearly $60 million in money and assets allegedly stolen during Chiluba’s presidency.” Earlier on May 4, 2007, in a civil case instituted against him in the United Kingdom, Judge Peter Smith found him guilty of embezzling some $46m (£23m) of public funds. A columnist with The Post, one of Zambia’s independent newspapers, Roy Clarke, dismissed Chiluba as “a vain, cross-dressing, high-heel wearing, adulterous, dwarf thief.”

In 2008, President Mwanawasa who had insisted that Chiluba’s corruption trial must run its full course took ill and died. He was replaced by Mr. Michael Sata. On August 17, 2009, Judge Jones Chinyama of a Lusaka Magistrate Court, discharged and acquitted Chiluba of all the corruption charges. Yet the smell of corruption never left his name despite this acquittal. It continued to linger even after Chiluba’s death at the age of 68 on June 18, 2011. It was not surprising, therefore, when on December 29, 2016, following a Supreme Court judgment obtained by Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, Chiluba’s properties worth 40 million Zambian Kwacha ($3,103,020.00) which had earlier been confiscated by the commission in 2002, was forfeited to the state, ending a protracted legal battle that outlived the former president and put a permanent dent on his name.

What this shows is that most of the time, success or popularity earned in other fields of endeavour before one assumed public office does not always translate to success and transparency in political leadership. Sometimes such popularity might be the product of careful image management and propaganda, which mask the person’s incompetence, lack of focus and even callousness. The real tragedy is when the people naively allow themselves to be stampeded by the uproarious propaganda to close their ears to all voices of caution and all attempts to show them very clear evidences of the candidate’s lack of capacity and even sincerity of purpose. But soon, they would realise that they have been duped by unscrupulous propagandists and the reality of the leader’s directionlessness would hit them in its stark reality. And regret and sorrow would then constitute their daily menu, until, perhaps, the nightmare is over.

Assuming, for instance, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not win the 2015 elections, there is no doubt that he would have been going about today with the superior air of the “most qualified and duly equipped” presidential material that was denied the opportunity to “save Nigeria.” But today, virtually every messianic myth built about Buhari and successfully sold to Nigerians in 2015 has exploded on virtually everybody’s face and left despair and pain everywhere. Only a gaggle of ghoulish denialists and hired megaphones are still out there throwing about their self-serving and thoroughly nauseating propaganda which has lost every capacity to entice.

Now, a similar, massive disappointment and deep regret are what Liberians are feeding on each time they remember that only a year and half ago, they had trooped out en masse to cast their votes for one of their nation’s soccer ambassadors, the football hero, Mr. George Weah, who in 2018 was sworn in as the country’s 25th president. Last month, a group of dissatisfied citizens under the aegis of Council of Patriots (COP) organised what they called a “Save the State” protest during which they gave President George Weah one month to meet their demands or they would unfold their next line of action which would have dire consequences on  his political career.

An independent newspaper, “FrontPageAfrica”, described the protest march as “the largest gathering of protesters since the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war.”  The COP complained that several of their members have been arrested and detained since President Weah commenced his repressive actions against the media and voices of dissent. The group said in a statement: “Currently, about twenty peaceful and law-abiding youth and students are being held at the central prison in detention. We call on the government of Liberia to release those peaceful citizens that have been abducted by the state. We also noticed the use of foreign security forces on the day of protest wearing state security uniforms.” While dedicating the new Duport Road General Market in Paynesville on June 6, Weah issued a very stern warning to those he described as “constantly threatening the state, constantly inciting people.”  “I want to be clear, we will not tolerate those kinds of citizens … Those that (are) constantly insulting the President, I want to be clear; after this (that is, the June 7 protest march), there will be no citizens in this country, I can defy you, that will ever insult the President and think you will walk on the streets freely…If you have your views, express your views but any insult and any threats, that citizen will be dealt with under the law. And it can be whosoever,” the president fumed.

No doubt, George Weah is overwhelmed. When he announced his presidential run, reservations were expressed by informed analysts about his preparedness for the office. They pointed at his lack of experience and inadequate education, but the generality of the masses who had been deluded to think that he would replicate the magic his feet performed in the soccer field in the governance of Liberia paid no heed. They overwhelmingly gave him their votes. But now, just halfway into his tenure, the myth seems to have brutally exploded, and it has become very clear that the emperor actually is unclad.

According to the June edition of New African magazine, Weah’s “government has been accused of corruption, political ineptitude, and being clueless as to how to rescue an economy that is in freefall. Under Weah’s stewardship, opposition politician Wilmot Paye says, poverty and unemployment are rising, while high-level corruption has become even more entrenched. Paye, chairman of the opposition Unity Party, says Liberians have become ‘spectators in their own economy’ and ‘bystanders in the affairs of their country’”. Instead of fighting to recover the economy and the people’s confidence, Weah is fighting the media and opposing voices. He specifically accused Jonathan Paye-Layleh, a BBC reporter of being against his regime. Paye-Layleh had to flee the country. The corpse of another journalist, Tyron Brown, was found outside his residence, and some fingers are pointing at the government. Mr. Weah’s regime is trying hard to frustrate the media by refusing to pay thousands of dollars of advertisement money, thus crippling the ability of many of the media outfits to pay their staff and continue in their very essential work of holding government accountable.

In saner climes, Mr. Weah would have since realised that the game is over and quit the field, but in his part of the world, such a move is a rare phenomenon. It is like imagining that President Buhari will consider standing down since the country is already prostrate before him, badly crippled by very poorly managed and rundown economy, intractable insecurity situation which appears to have overwhelmed him and widespread poverty, unemployment and the collapse of virtually every institution that provides social amenities. Well, back to Liberia. How President Weah hopes to overcome the growing opposition against him and revive a collapsing economy remains to be seen. (Guardian)

Catholic Africa And Its Discontents

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By Leo Igwe

 

The pope started a three-nation visit to Africa this week. The visit takes him to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. A BBC report has analysed the significance of the visit and why Africa is the future of the Catholic church. The report paints an exciting picture of the future of Catholicism in Africa. The envisioned bright prospects for a Catholic Africa are based on the region’s growing population, which contrasts the decreasing Catholic demographics in western countries and in other regions of the world.

Africa is a source of hope for the Catholic church especially in the face of its depleting membership and eroding influence in the world. According to the article, the rapid growth of the catholic church in Africa is predicated on the provision of social services. Simply put, the church is growing because it is a key social service provider. And I totally agree.

The Catholic church has built schools and hospitals which they use to deliver humanitarian services and programs in critical, war-torn, poverty-stricken areas across the region. As Prof Manglos-Weber rightly noted, “The Church provides hospitals, schools, [and]other social services. [These are] things that post-colonial governments in… Africa has had a difficult time providing on a widespread scale.” This is true, very true. The church functions as a quasi-state and plays supplementary roles in the development of communities. But there are other sides to the issue.

The report failed to explain the discontent of a Catholic Africa, and how a Catholic monopoly of affairs would negatively impact the region. The article failed to highlight the price that Africa would pay as the global epicentre of Catholicism. I was born into a Catholic family in southeast Nigeria, which can be described as the country’s Bible belt. While in primary school, I served as an altar boy at a local catholic church. Later I attended seminaries and trained to be a priest. In 1994, I left the seminary and started a humanist movement in 1996.

My priestly training took me to four different seminaries both as a student and as a teacher. I lived and worked in rural communities for the Catholic church preaching and converting traditional religionists. Indeed, the Catholic church owes its growth and spread to the provision of education and health care services. In fact, the church has many schools, colleges, and universities across the country and the continent.

While these institutions are providing educational programs for many who otherwise might not have been educated, they are also religious indoctrination centres. These institutions are used to further sectarian beliefs. They serve as mechanisms for evangelism and proselytisation. For instance, in these schools, the church decides what should be taught; and tailors the curricula to suit its needs and agenda. Most often the church discourages the teaching of topics that it deems incompatible with its doctrines. It waters down topics that could ‘corrupt’ the students or weaken their Catholic faith.

In these schools, the church provides Catholic education, learning that accords with the Catholic view of the world. Thus many people graduate from these schools ignorant, opinionated and fanatical. Young people finish from these institutions with limited knowledge, unable to think outside the Catholic religious box, lacking in requisite skills and competencies that are needed to meaningfully navigate in a complex and increasingly globalised world. Schools are not only structures for the provision of Catholic knowledge but also places that the church uses to nurture bureaucrats who would promote the Catholic policy positions on issues such as abortion and family planning.

This same thing applies to the health sector. The Catholic church has many hospitals and clinics in the region. The church uses these medical centres to deliver critical health programs in both rural and urban areas including saving lives and restoring the health of people across the religious divide. However, as in the case of the schools, these health institutions are evangelising tools. They are used to further the interests of the catholic church. Patients are covertly and overtly coerced to convert and embrace the catholic faith. Religious prayers and worships constitute part of the hospital programs.

Sometimes, hospital authorities compel mothers to baptise their babies. They induce the death-bed conversion for non-Catholics and do not provide women access to abortion, family planning and other reproductive health programs. These hospitals are governed by Catholic health and medical policies on issues. They provide Catholic medical care that is in agreement with the norms of the church. This talked about Catholic Africa is another form of colonialism and imperialism. In this case, it is the popes and bishops that will determine the destiny and direction of the continent.

Meanwhile, there are other effective educational and health care programs outside the evangelical parameters of the catholic church that would benefit Africa. In fact, a Catholic Africa is only a form of Christian and religious Africa. A Catholic Africa will contend with other Christian and religious Africas. Meanwhile, it is possible that in the coming decades, the continent would experience a revival of state institutions. That means states would begin to play those roles that the church has been fulfilling. Thus, the projected growth and influence of catholic Christianity in Africa will not materialise. Even if Catholic Christianity grows as envisaged, there is nothing to be excited about an Africa whose future is tied to the apron of a religious dogmatic establishment whose positions are not amenable to the democratic choices of the people. There is nothing to look forward to in the future of an Africa that is religiously held hostage and is unable to nudge itself towards emergence and emancipation.

(African Prime News)