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Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy.

Signally, Obama’s White House chose the small west African country of only 23 million peoples, spurning Ghana’s neighbor, the “giant of Africa” Nigeria with its 125 million citizens and the largest economic demographic clout, questionable political leadership, endemic corruption, ethnic and religious violence, environmental destruction of its Niger Delta and creeks, political assassinations and kidnappings, epileptic electricity supply, and a list enough to fill the Galveston bay.
For many African-born citizens of America such as myself and millions of continental African professionals, Barack Hussein Obama is not only the 44th President of the United States of America, he’s an outstanding son of Africa who on November 4, 2008, achieved the previously unthinkable: one of our own being voted in to lead the most powerful country in the world.

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Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy.
By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com,
USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal.
http://usafricaonline.com/chido.obamaafrica09.html
USAfrica, Houston July 7, 2009:
From July 10 to 11, 2009, President Barack Obama will be in the west African country of Ghana, assessed by the U.S government as “one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa.” The additional goals of the visit, according to the Obama White House, will be “to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.”
Obama becomes America’s third president to visit Ghana since 1998, and this his second official trip to the African continent. The geo-demographic fact is that his first trip was to Egypt on June 4, 2009, where he spoke about Islam and democracy, rights of women in Islam and modern society, extremist variants of Islamic theologies and the challenge of peaceful co-existence. As Obama spoke carefully to the wider issues in the Middle East at the Cairo University, the same problems are faced in raw, stark and unvarnished reality by millions of Africa’s christians and traditional religionists who are on the frontline and receiving end of fascistic, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
Beyond the diplomatese, what will be the practical, key issues for Obama as he visits Ghana and speaks to the entire continent? What does it mean for Africans and Americans?
First and foremost, for many African-born citizens of America such as myself and millions of continental African professionals, Barack Hussein Obama is not only the 44th President of the United States of America, he’s an outstanding son of Africa who on November 4, 2008, achieved the previously unthinkable: one of our own being voted in to lead the most powerful country in the world!
On January 20, 2009 in Washington DC, after the historic events of Obama’s inauguration, I chatted with one of Obama’s Africa advisers who said “Obama has witnessed the downside of one-party rule in Africa and he’s not for that. He means change and more openness.”
Signally, Obama’s White House chose the small west African country of only 23 million peoples, spurning Ghana’s neighbor, the “giant of Africa” Nigeria with its 125 million citizens and the largest economic demographic clout, questionable political leadership, endemic corruption, ethnic and religious violence, environmental destruction of its Niger Delta and creeks, political assassinations and kidnappings, epileptic electricity supply, and a list enough to fill the Galveston bay.
In this regard, Nobel Prize winner from Nigeria Wole Soyinka is quoted on USAfricaonline.com as saying: “If Obama decides to grace Nigeria with his presence, I will stone him. The message he is sending by going to Ghana is so obvious, is so brilliant, that he must not render it flawed by coming to Nigeria any time soon.”
Second, Obama is in Ghana principally for America’s core strategic interests: Oil. I know that oil and stable access to oil are vital parts of U.S national security interest across the west African Gulf of Guinea region. Ghana recently discovered billions of barrels of oil reserves. U.S corporations, especially Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also investing heavily in the area. Operationally, the U.S has re-fueling hubs in Ghana. Also, worthy of note is the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) estimates that by 2015, 25 percent of American oil imports will be derived from west Africa. It is roughly 14 to 16 percent to date, amidst massive disruptions in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Ghana is stable while the Middle East and parts of Nigeria are increasingly dicey for America’s hard-nosed, long-term interests. Ghana is certainly valuable to the U.S convergence of interests on the arenas of military, oil and democratic credentials.
Third, the bilateral and bi-continental issue of fighting or containing al-Qaeda and its advances into Africa’s “failed states” and actual threats to multi-religious and democratizing countries in the continent remain obligations of the Obama presidency. I have argued previously on this page that a police-law-enforcement approach to al-Qaeda in Africa will be inadequate. A bold, thorough-going draining of the swamp of radical, fundamentalist theologies which feed and fuel terrorism is necessary. Already the U.S and Ghana hold joint exercises at the funnily-named Jungle Warfare School (JWS) at Achiase in eastern Ghana.
Fourth, Obama has to speak to a “new foundation” for Africa’s future amidst commendable deregulation in many parts of the continent. He has to speak to the strategic imperatives of creating a more viable structure of free market economies in Africa accommodating the realistic roles of government in the core issues of healthcare, education, security and such core, critical projects.
Africa’s economies have made some bold structural changes but the political clutches of the ruling parties also stifle the ventilation of ideas and expansion of opportunities necessary to compete in this digital age. Internet access is the poorest and lowest in the world, except South Africa, Botswana and increasingly Nigeria and Kenya.
Fifth, Obama whose father is an indigenous scholarly Kenyan and mother is a resourceful White woman from Kansas will deal with the critical, clashing issue of aid or trade between the U.S and Africa. In my view, it should be both; it’s not a choice of one over the other.
Africa development specialists, Obama and those before him agree that the wise words “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” applies to Africa’s crises and transformation; moreso today.
The U.S reasonably propelled the the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) to enhance trade. I covered its historic signing ceremony in South Africa as championed by South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela and U.S former President Bill Clinton. Fair and equitable trade is good. AGOA reportedly increased the value of African garment exports to the U.S from US$580 million in 1999 to US$1.4 billion in 2003.
Sixth, I expect that on Saturday July 11, 2009, Obama will live up to the historical context of his being the first U.S President of African-American heritage by visiting the slave castles by the Cape Coast of Ghana. Ghana is pivotal to the ancestral origins of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Blacks whose heritage drew directly from that Cape, northern and central regions of Ghana. Similar historical, demographic facts exist for the south eastern Igbos of Nigeria, African-Americans and Afri-Caribbeans.
Overall, Obama’s presidency should continue to support Africa’s increasing coalition of democracy activists and pressurize the remnants of Africa’s rulership to responsibly embrace and respect the value of fair, peaceful and free elections as opposed to the charade of self-perpetuation in office, choking indolence posing as mandate and selections masquerading as elections.
As Africans celebrate America’s Obama, we look forward to our home-grown Obamas in Africa. Yes, we can!
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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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