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USAfrica: Congo’s Kabila and Gambia’s Jammeh disgrace to democracy in Africa

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By LEARNMORE ZUZE

The world, today, watches with indignation as armed forces massacre innocent civilians justly protesting against incumbent Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate to rule expired in November. For nearly 10 years, the DRC has been an electoral democracy, a fragile and dysfunctional one, but an electoral democracy nonetheless.

The 45-year-old Kabila has typically continued to shove election dates further in the wake of a disgruntled nation, igniting bloody protests in the process. [In pix, top, DR_Congo_president-Kabila-wt-Pope_Francis-at-the-Vatican]

On the other extreme, the world watches repugnantly as headstrong Gambian President Yahya Jammeh unabashedly insists on clinging to power despite losing a presidential poll and admitting defeat in the beginning. Jammeh, in his vindictiveness, has recalled Gambia’s ambassador to the United States for asking him to concede defeat.

Africa is characterised by nascent democracy and each time that defeat is gracefully accepted it calls for celebration.

The African leader, somehow, has to be inveigled to leave power; something they cannot do without high-pressure methods.

To incumbents, it would appear they are cut to rule forever and anything that threatens their hold on power has to be crushed ruthlessly.

Many will remember the adulation that followed former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan when, without much hemming and hewing, he accepted loss and congratulated Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015.

Under normal circumstances, this should not be something to write home about; it should be the natural path of democracy. Praises were, expectedly, showered on Jonathan who, despite numerous failures, will have this pleasant act of statesmanship etched in people’s memories for ages.

African leaders have yet to learn the noble art of relinquishing power and, above all, to understand that someone else can take a country forward.

As a general fact, African States that can presently be described in the language of democracy still number in the minority.

It is as if to say the archaic monarchical system of governance exists in a thinly veiled form in Africa. The chief disappointment with most African leaders is their failure to leave power in an agreeable manner.

A myriad of theories exist as to why most African leaders cannot leave power in an acceptable way.

Somehow, these leaders, insist on obstinacy and, sadly, live to face inglorious and humiliating exits which all but obliterate the little good they would have done for their countries.

Ivory Coast former President Laurent Gbagbo is a classic example of a man who stubbornly held on to power to a point where he had to be apprehended and harangued like a criminal in a hotel.

The same is true for slain Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (although some would disagree) who was severely assaulted and dragged by the public in the streets and his mutilated body paraded in the open. Mobutu Sese Seko of the DRC and Uganda’s third President Idi Amin also make the ill-reputed list of African leaders who had to leave power through mutiny.

The common factor in the fracas stifling African growth across many of its States is anchored in the wanton disregard of constitutions by leaders who, ironically, should serve as custodians of the very constitutions.

Cling–on African leaders have characteristically proffered all manner of excuse to hold on to power. The most common ones being that “the people still want me to rule” and “no one can lead this nation better.”

This political grandstanding is quite laughable seeing as it is that most African economies crumble in the hands of such headstrong leaders. Despite much showboating by such leaders on the global stage, their people are virtually everywhere in the world living a life of near-servitude as they seek greener pastures in other States.

Inanely, they claim that the people still love them. It is a given that any President, upon assuming office is energetic and eager to have wheels turning and that is perfectly normal but the question comes: honestly, what new thing does a leader who has been in office for two or three decades have to offer?

How much innovation is to be expected from such a leader? Just like in recognised democracies, ten years is quite a long time to be ruling a country. Beyond the first 10 years, it is inevitable: arrogance, a sense of nation-ownership, corruption, nepotism and similar vices set in.

There is surely nothing good that comes out of more than ten years of sitting in power except abuse of power. It is quite disconcerting that this is Africa’s horrendous story of governance.

The most perturbing fact is the indifference exhibited by leaders while innocent people die as they cling onto power. It won’t surprise if Gambian President — Yahya Jammeh — will carelessly put up a fight that will result in a needless loss of lives.

It behoves African leadership to take a cue from the developed world where a single country can boast of a 16th President. Again, one wonders, why, but why Africa? Is the famine, droughts and diseases ravaging the continent not enough? Should it always take the bullet to usher in new leadership?

Dictatorship and autocracy must fall and a new Africa grounded in true democracy and free will of the masses must be born.

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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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