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USAfrica: After 56 years, Nigeria, Buhari still at Crossroads. By Sanya Ademiluyi

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Special commentary exclusive to USAfrica (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com
“I covered perhaps, over 1,500 kilometres between the South East and Middle Belt areas, mostly on foot during the War, over 40 years ago…. We fought to keep our country one, not for money, not for oil,” President Buhari, a career soldier, told his listeners. “Therefore, I don’t think anyone should try to divide the country,” he added.
Whereas, the old general may hold on to his beliefs, it would appear the voices of dissent are loud and clear in the South East and several other parts of the country.
Only few months after he assumed office as President in May, last year, 2015, a new group of militants emerged from the country’s oil producing Niger Delta region, known as the Niger Delta Avengers.
While agitation for a “sovereign state of Biafra” swelled among youths, in the South East. After the political settlement of erstwhile militants in the region few years ago, under the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration Amnesty programme, no one was expecting a sudden resurgence of militancy in that area, a fresh wave that has crippled the country’s oil and gas industry.
[slides title=”After 56 years, Nigeria, Buhari still at crossroads….” title_url=”” title_icon=”” title_bg_color=”” title_text_color=”” title_border_bottom_color=”” main_color=”” thumb_bg_color=”” enable_tab=”” count=”6″ orderby=”latest” duration=”all” show_view_all=”on” cates=”” cate_scenario=”combination” authors=”” exclude_authors=”” tags=”” ignore_sticky_posts=”on” exclude_loaded_posts=”” show_comment=”on” show_readmore=”on” show_author=”icon” show_date=”date” meta_item_order=”a_c_d” show_format_icon=”” show_review_score=”” number_cates=”0″ snippet_length=”0″ thumbnail_height=”400″ show_nav=”on” show_dots=”on” speed=”5000″][/slides]It’s a direct shot at the revenue lifeblood of the Buhari administration at a time of low crude oil prices and dwindling government foreign exchange income which is yet 90 per cent from oil exports. Some blame the arrogant rhetoric and manifestly lopsided appointments made almost weekly by the Fulani-Kanuri born former military dictator.
What it means is that the country is yet riven by the old scourges of tribalism, sectionalism and deep political cleavages despite the perceived lessons of our troubled history in 56 years of nationhood, from 1960. During this considerable period of time, we have moved from regional governments to a federal one, we have fought a bitter civil war and had over 20 years of Military rule. Still, the Nigerian giant nation state is yet wobbly, riven by internal divisions which are again perhaps, poised to explode.
Sadly, the country slipped into an economic recession mid-year, although there had been clear signals this would happen since last December, after the President dithered over appointing a cabinet of ministers and failed to make clear pronouncements on his administration’s economic policy. Private foreign capital which in a cautionary note exited the country early last year shortly before the general election first slated for February and later held in April, may not return.  Nigerians in the Diaspora, who for several years have poured over US $22billion into the economy back home through remittances targeted at investments and family obligations have held back their money—unsure of the current government’s economic direction.
Worse, only two years after reveling in the rebasing of its economy which placed it at the top as the biggest economy in Africa with a Gross domestic product, GDP of US$555.6 billion(2014), the country has dropped to second place behind South Africa, after it went into a recession this year.
Now, there are growing calls for a restructuring of the country’s federal system, which will revert it back to the old regional system of government which was the norm pre-independence and until the Military struck in 1966 and imposed a unitary system. Prominent Nigerians from the South West and South East such as Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary general of the Commonwealth and General Alani Akinrinade,  a former army chief who helped end military rule in the late 1990s have led these calls.
But this appears to be bad news to the ears of the Buhari administration. Aside from the President,Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has also lent his dissenting voice, saying that what the country needed, at this time, was not political restructuring but better management which would provide jobs for the youth and more food and security of lives for the majority.
The calls for political restructuring of the country reflect the growing angst about the centrifugal forces which continue to pull the country in different directions—a country without a common purpose, or goals. The proponents of restructuring, the latest proponent is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, believe it would help to reduce or eliminate the attritive politics surrounding the Presidency and the usual suspicions and battles over the country’s economic resources, especially oil and gas.A return to regionalism would mean that regions will control their own economic resources. This would mean no oil income for several parts of the country including any central government.
Political contentions over who gets what in the country’s oil wealth has also stalled the new Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB promoted by the erstwhile Jonathan administration that has been stuck in the National Assembly since 2013, three years ago. The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Nieti, recently estimated that the country may have lost a staggering $200 billion in oil and gas revenue and new investments due to non-enactment of the PIB.
The country currently has 36 states and a Federal capital territory, Abuja; two federal legislatures and an independent Judiciary. And in spite of its modified Presidential system which requires a Presidential aspirant to win majority of votes spread round the country, there has been almost a de facto arrangement of rotating the Presidency between the country’s Northern and Southern parts.
It is equally important to note that the President and his victorious political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC obtained the majority of its winning votes from the North of the country. By contrast, the defeated then incumbent President Dr Goodluck Jonathan is from the Niger Delta and his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, had a better showing in the southern areas of Nigeria.
The country is at a crossroads of sorts once again in its 56 years. Traditional political fault lines appear to be widening rather than closing up. The economy is in even far worse shape. But President Buhari believes things will turn around. He points to his “achievements”, which he says are improved security situation in the country, through his administration’s claims to some ‘technical defeat’ of Boko Haram, the deadly terrorist Islamic group; reduction of kidnappings in the Southern areas and the fight against corruption in government. But criticisms have attended the administration’s anti-corruption crusade which critics have described as selective and targeted at mostly members of the former ruling party, the PDP which the President and his party, the APC dethroned last year and has quickly taken up the role of major opposition party.
It is saddening that the country is yet grappling with what appears to be problems of internal cohesion while several other countries in similar circumstances which got their independence at about the same time have moved so fast in national development. Malaysia, Indonesia, even India currently have far more stable political cultures and systems and have far more developed economies than Nigeria. Currently India, which is currently the biggest buyer of Nigerian crude oil is an economic powerhouse, one of the fastest growing worldwide. By contrast, Nigeria still sells the bulk of her crude oil and imports most of her fuel. No wonder, its economy is so susceptible to the vagaries of the global commodities markets.  
There appears no end in sight for most of these challenges under the current administration. A so-called reflation plan and social intervention that would give stipends to unemployed youth numbering over 20 million, and rehabilitate and build public infrastructure are yet to take off , one-and-a-half years into the tenure of the Buhari administration.
The dire economic situation has further driven hope from the hearts of millions of Nigerian youths who perhaps took Buhari and the APC’s campaign slogan of ‘change’ as a promise for better days. Like the country, that heart appears to bleed, unconsolably.
*Sanya Ademiluyi, contributing editor of USAfrica multimedia networks since 1996, is based in Lagos.
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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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