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Corruptioncharges and ethical Questions trail Nigeria's presidentObasanjo's controversial shares inTranscorp
Peace throughdevelopment in Nigeria and rest of Africa
By Dr. Kenny Okey Iwunna
Special to Houston-based USAfricaonline.comand CLASSmagazine and The Black BusinessJournal
There is hardly anywhere in the world today, where the financial,economic, and moral crises are more evident, widespread, persistent,and likely to continue, than in the African continent. Since aboutone out of every six Africans lives in Nigeria (in fact, because ofthe dispersal of Nigeriansthroughout the African continent, about one out of every four or fiveAfricans is a Nigerian), whatever happens in Nigeria has a verysignificant impact on the African continent. So, I will narrow thisfirst article down to Nigeria.
One of the most evident characteristics of the African continentis that it has always been a "follower continent"; that it continuesto remain a "follower continent"; and, unless it finds faithand independence in its own peoples, action, and governments,Africa's continuing economic decline, its financial and moral crises,will not only increase and deepen, but will also ultimatelyconstitute a threat to the peace and stability of the entire world.This is because the enormous economic and natural resources of theAfrican continent will continue to invite the competitiveexploitation and spoliation of today's world's most developednations, as their diminishing resources recede further and furtherwhile their insatiable appetites grow more gargantun by the day, andthe financial and economic crises which are beginning to manifest intheir countries deepen and defy solution.
It is significant that it was in the heart of Germany, where thisconference on economic growth and world peace is being held, that thethen few great powers of the world, at the Berlin Conference in 1884,decided to partition Africa and set it on its road to economicdisintegration, political enslavement, and moral degeneration. Beforeand since then, Africa had gone through the pangs of slavery,colonization, economic domination, imperialism, neo-imperialism,European metropolitan peripherilization, and political manipulationsthat had led to and continue to sustain intra-ethnic and inter-ethnicwars and violence, aided, abetted and sustained by the technologies,weapons and propaganda of the powerful nations of Europe andAmerica.
As one of the privileged Africans or should I say AfricanAmerican, who have had the benefit of strong education and close andsustained interaction with Europe and America, I lay the main blameon my own African peoples. First, the blame on my African ancestorswho, for a little inducement of gunpowder, money, and materials, soldour young and vibrant Africans into slavery and colonialism, and now,for money, wealth, and power, continue to sell the conscience of thecontinent to the ideas, philosophies, and inducements of the West tothe extent that the whole of the African continent today owes theWest and its finance capitalists, debts that are almost thrice thegross domestic wealth of the continent. Africa has reached thepresent lackluster morass because its leaders have always been blindfollowers of the West, which is why I have called Africa, the"follower continent."
When slavery was popular in the world, African leaders readilyembraced it as a vehicle to wealth and power. When colonialismreplaced slavery, African leaders readily pawned their kingdoms,dukedoms, and empires to the colonizing powers. When colonialismbecame discredited and communism/socialism/capitalism became thedominant competing ideologies in the West, African leaders readilyembraced one variant or the other of communism, socialism, orcapitalism. Now that communism and socialism have been virtuallykilled and exterminated by the West, epitomized by the U.S.A., andsubstituted with free trade, liberalization, deregulation,privatization, globalization, and other capitalist shibboleths,African leaders and governments have followed these "sing-songs" astheir cardinal ideologies to economic development, politicalresorgimento, and resurgence.
When the West extended the carrot of loan capital to the Africanleaders and governments, they followed readily, and ended up in theweb of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, theParis Club, and the London Club of Creditors who now virtually runthe African governments, with ready acquiescence and following by theAfrican leaders. I need recount no more because the leaders of thisInstitute, and particularly Dr. LaRouche, have been in the forefrontof exposing the designs of these world finance capitalists and theirdesigns against not only the economies of the poorer segments of theworld, but also particularly of the African governments.
Failure to Plan for Economic Growth and Peace
It is often said, and wisely too, that, "no one plans to fail, butmany fail to plan." This is exactly what is happening in mostcountries in Africa today. Let me use Nigeria as a veritableexample.
When the British Empire was in control of the politics and theeconomy of Nigeria, it encouraged and instituted "Development Plans"for the economy. The first was the Ten-Year Development and WelfarePlan, 1946-55; followed by 1955-60-62. When Nigeria becameindependent in 1960, it still continued with the 1962-68, 1970-75,1975-80, and 1980-85 Development Plans, but with diminishingcommitments to planning. The Colonial Plans were mainly designed toensure a more coordinated harnessing of the vast Nigerian naturalresources for British interests, manufactures, and commerce.Marketing Boards were established for cocoa, rubber, palm produce,cotton, and groundnuts, among others, and Government Corporationswere established for the vast mineral resources of Nigeria, forenergy, and, later for petroleum oil.
But as the hold of the West became less and less on the Nigerianresources, the economists and the political powerbrokers of the Westbegan to adumbrate consistently and with manipulated statistics, thatthe Marketing Boards were exploitative of the local farmers; that thecorporations were a restraint on trade and efficiency; that thepublic-sector management of the economy was corrupt and undesirable;and that the government "had no business in business" but shouldderegulate and privatize the boards and the corporations.
In 1986, the IMF/World Bank succeeded in convincing the thenNigerian military government into adopting their StructuralAdjustment Program. The Marketing Boards were disbanded; publicenterprises were deregulated; government intervention in the economybecame discredited; monetary and fiscal policies of government wererelaxed, and the free traders took over the reins of government. Theresult was that cocoa production in Nigeria fell from about 400,000tons a year in 1986 to 150,000 tons in 2000, and the production ofcotton, groundnuts, hides and skin, rubber, and palm producedecreased to between 25% and 35% of the 1986 level. Coal productionfell from 360,000 tons in 1980 to 19,000 tons in 2000. Per capitaincome of Nigerians fell from $760 per annum in 1985 to $360 in 2000.Food imports replaced food exports. The value of the naira, Nigeria'scurrency, fell from N1=$1 in 1985, to N115=$1 today, at the CentralBank exchange rate. Black marketing in the nation's currency beganand grew since 1985, to become N140=$1 today.
The IMF/WorldBank and their Western sponsors have now stated, withthe approval of Nigeria's Central Bank, that the naira is evenovervalued at the existing rate of exchange. The IMF has pencilledthe naira at N550=$1 as its real market rate of exchange. Ghana,whose cedi was of the same value as the naira in 1980, now has theexchange rate of the cedi at 6,750 cedi=$1. Ditto in almost all thecountries of Africa.
The foreign debt overhang in Nigeria increased from zero in 1960,to $1 billion in 1979, $11.5 billion in 1986, $33.2 billion in 1990,and $35 billion in 2000about $18 billion of which was the currentaccumulated interest. In actual fact, Nigeria borrowed about $17.5billion between 1979 and today, repaid about $33 billion during theperiod, and is still owing $35 billion. Nigeria's debt is, today,estimated at about 82% of its Gross Domestic Product. Something iswrong with this picture. But did you see the picture?
The IMF/World Bank, the Paris Club, and the London Club ofCreditors (the Paris Club is the same creditor countries when theyact as governments, as the London Club countries when they act asbank lenders), have involved Nigeria, like other African debtorcountries, in debt-rescheduling, debt conversion, debt-buyback anddeferred payments; all of which had exacerbated the debt burden,rather than debt relief or debt cancellation which the Nigeriangovernments hoped would be granted, if they continued to follow theprescriptions and the economic dictates of the creditors. As Nigeriabecame poorer and poorer, its leaders became more and morecriminalized; lost more and more confidence in themselves and in theeconomy; and increased the keeping of their wealth, much of which wasstolen or taken from the economy, in the banks, or invested it in theeconomies of the West, with the active encouragement or connivance ofthe West.
Nigeria is now democratized as a way to economic recovery. Butwith every passing day since the military was replaced with a"democratic" regime in May 1999, the life and living conditions ofthe average Nigerian continue to deteriorate, with the hope of aneconomic recovery becoming more and more distant. But our governmentcontinues to follow the dictates of the West, with privatization,deregulation, liberalization, minimization of government involvementin the economy; retrenchment in public-sector employment; belief in aprivate-sector-led economy, even though the production sector itselfis depressed, functioning at about 30% of its executive capacity,today, compared with 75-80% in 1985. The rate of interest has risento 50% per annum, when the rate of return is less than 1.015%, if theproducts are sold at all, since the purchasing power of consumers hasconsiderably reduced. The result is that Nigeria is now flooded withsecond-hand goods, low-quality or fake products, dumped and heavilysubsidized foreign goods, from toothpicks to the most sophisticatedequipment from the West and Asia. These further depress the fewsurviving industries in Nigeria and send them out of production. In2002 alone, over 4,000 small and medium enterprises folded up inNigeria.
The catalogue of economic woes can be multiplied ad infinitum inNigeria. Yet, Nigeria is still regarded in Africa as one of the fewresilient economies that are surviving the onslaught from the West.If this is so, then life must be a living hell for other smallerAfrican nations. This is what we must change. Think about Sudan asyou are reading this. What about Somalia and Ethiopia, Rwanda,Burundi name all of them.
The Future and the Prospects
Rather than have our own original ideas and chart a new path fordevelopment, the present regime, with all its good intentions, aidedand abetted by the West, has made anti-corruption crusades its mainvehicle of economic growth and development. It has enacted a stiffanti-corruption law which is not materially different from what hadlong existed in many countries of southern Africa, Egypt, Algeria,etc., where corruption has increased. The regime seems to forget thatmost of the Western countries developed on corruption, bothinternally and internationally. The difference between the corruptionof the West and Africa's, is that while that of the West wasinternalized and productive, ours in Africa had been, and continuesto be externalized and destructive.
There is no political system, democratic, oligarchic, dictatorial,republican, or monarchical, that had not been corrupt in varyingdegrees, Germany inclusive and USA.. We see corruption in highplaces, including US House of Congress (Abramorf, Traficant,Cunningham, etc). Yet, African nations have been labeled as corruptand Nigeria is called "CRIME NATION" by the Western media. We areeven ranked. The media is the beast in all these name brand. This isabsurd. It is one of those Western styles of making a monkey out ofgood, while ignoring the evils that go on in their ownsociety. We all know that crime (white collar or blue collar,computer hacking and bank fraud, insurance fraud, lobbying fraud)originated from the West. But today, the Western media havesuccessfully re-branded it and name-tagged it "Nigerian crime".
While we have no idea why it is their intention toassassinate African image, I just know for a fact that Africa is theonly existing best friend for the Western nations, especiallyUSA. The destruction of African continent need to be reconsidered bythe Western news media and it is surely not in the best interest ofAmerican children of the coming generations. I do not foreseewestern leadership lasting so long.....and any attempt made now tocreate more enemies in Africa will hurt America's future hope.
Africans are tired of being painted dark.....while the MiddleEast, South America and Asia gets the credit. The question is: Why isthe West so afraid of letting Africa free-- live its own life,make its own economic decisions, draft its own politicalroad, manage its own resources, have its own fitting developmentagenda and worship its own God, if possible without a foreignmonitoring?
Again, I do not support crime but I must defend Africa a bit more.The truth is that, for every crime (419 Crime/ Fraud) that tookplace, there are two greedy people involved. These two individualsare: the so called African/ Nigerian originator (who may haveinitiated the business letter), and then his Westerncollaborator (the greedy Westerner who got excited toparticipate in a deal that will make him rich overnight). If youdisagree with this, then answer this question: What do you call agetaway during a bank robbery? The fact is: The originalintention of the American partner was to get rich quick at theexpense of a 'Dark Continent.'
Mid January 2007, I prepared some questions for one of the socalled victims at my radio station in San Antonio. In the end, I wasnot allowed to ask those questions. My questions were: How did youmeet the Nigerian fraudtser? What was the business about? Can we seethe business letter? What prompted you to send money to him/her andfor what purpose?
Rather, they change their questions to: Tell us what happened, andhow much money did you lose? Where is the African guy from; is he aNigerian?...
Sometimes I think that the West think too little about the rest ofthe world, especially Africa. They also fail to see nothing wrong intheir deeds. Who in their right mind will send his personal bankinginformation and money to a foreigner, except a criminally mindedWestern idiot? What was he/her thinking? Let me give you an example:Earlier this year, a North Carolina woman shot and killed her husband(Pastor of a church) because of financial mismanagement. When GeraldoRivera took on the case, she stated that she was duped by a Nigerianfraudster and American held her a victim of crime. Please give me abreak! A pastor's wife fall victim of 419 crime and we all believedit? Is she is victim or a crime collaborator?
But why can't the Western government and media investigate theirown people? Why are they called "crime victims? Are we to assume thatthey are not capable of committing crimes ? I think someone is notthinking right. Unfortunately, African leaders have not been abledefend Africa because they are busy looking for financial aid. I amashamed that all of us have walked away from the real deal with ashameful face.
In September of last year, I was at the Economic Financial CrimeCommission office in Nigeria where I held a 2-hour interview with Mr.Ribadu (Chairman). I praised him for the good works he is doing andalso pointed out my disappointments on the way our government ishandling the issue of crime. I told him that we must try to questionand prosecute foreign criminals as well. But as I spoke to him, Icould see fears in his eyes; the fear to challenge United States andEurope and set the record for Nigeria. In the end, I felt moredisappointed than impressed.
I told him that I am not happy about the FBI website on Nigeriathis and that none of us should be happy. I believe he got themessage. Only time will tell where we stand on things.
We ought to be doing some rethinking at this time. I do notsupport crime and believe that the two parties must be investigated.Anything less, is westernized but then uncivilized.
Therefore, Nigeria, like Africa, must return to itself: find itsown views; chart a different economic path from deregulation,privatization, globalization, and liberalization, and use itsgovernment as the main engine of growth through planning and controlof its exchange rate, its rates of interest, and the pursuit of fullemployment for its citizens, by mobilizing both the public sector andsubsidizing the private sector in that direction. Otherwise, myprediction is that the new metla slavery emerging in Africa will beworse than that of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
Nigeria and Africa must pursue a new and different program ofeconomic reform from the current prescriptions of the IMF/World Bankand their Western collaborators.
In order to achieve a modicum of economic growth that will meetthe aspirations of Nigeria, and of Africa, a Marshall-type programfor Europe, and, preferably a [Franklin] Delano Roosevelttype of economic recovery program for the U.S.A., must be formulated,adopted and executed but must be fashioned to suite Africanlandscape. Otherwise, the dichotomy between the rich and the poor inAfrica will intensify, increase the simmering and growing tensions,crises, and wars in Africa. Such a situation will increase theconflict between Africa and the West.
Finally, I still have not forgotten my suggestion at the YoungAfrican Professionals Conference in Belgium, 2004. I will say itagain here, and I am glad that we have a group of African elites thatread the Class magazine. I hope they read this too and act on it.
African leaders need to find their own geo-economic "Perestroika"that is unique for African 'menta-cultural' and politicalmetamorphosis. By this, I mean a new bottom-line, championed by a newvision. African growth does not and should not be expected tonavigate the same route and lens that the Western nations are goingbecause Africa does not have the same equal resistance tosocio-economic crisis that the Western nations have. African type ofEconomic perestroika must reflect African values and imaginations,but still must be groomable and re-adjustable in time of applicationcrisis. It must collaborate with the world but not allow the West toveto its home-made concepts and contents. The new bottom-line must bedesigned to serve African interest.....rather than the Westerneconomic stooges. So, I suggest that we form a new economic club.:The Carthage Group. This group will be the new Paris and LondonClub..and help handle African needs and pay African debts without thecut-throat conditions of IMF and the World Bank. I wish I have morespace to elaborate on this, but I will someday.
This is the beginning of our journey to self re-discovery. When wedo so, our dying parents and sick relatives will breathe an air oflife again. Africa will be founded, and love will reign again becausedevelopment has finally come. Then and then, we shall see peacethrough socio-economic and political development that is fair to all.Race is not a destiny and Africa shall be free from the scorpionbondage that sting her in every angle it turns at the moment. Let usrise and walk while the ovation lasts.
The world and especially the West must understand this that we areall vital parts to the whole body. When a finger is hurting, theentire body will hurt. So, when one nation or entire region is indeep, then the rest of the world will be in deep. It is conventionalwisdom. It is like the relationship between our finger and our head.Just as a country cannot remain at peace, half-slave and half-free,so the world cannot remain over-developed and under-developed, andhope to have and sustain peace
Dr. Iwunwa, San Antonio-based economist and syndicated radiotalk-show host of 'Defending American Values' (on KSLR/ KLUP) hasjoined USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine as a columnist/specialcorrespondent). He contributes to TownHall.Com, The Washington Postand Harvard Business Reviews ansd other media outlets. He serves asthe CEO of of KenHag Strategies & Media Group; Students DiscountShopping Network Inc., and several business interests.
Obasanjofingered by his VP Atiku in loss of$500m Oil Money
By Jide Ajani, Omoh Gabriel & Rotimi Ajayi in Lagos
Vice President Atiku Abubakar alleged on September 17, 2006 thatover $500 million of the money realised during the 2002/2003 oillicensing bids cannot be accounted for by the authorities..... VicePresident Atiku in a statement yesterday by his chief spokesman,Mallam Garba Shehu had said: "The position of the law on PTDF is thatall money collected in respect of licensing rounds (bidding proceeds)of oil blocks and their licensing is to be paid into the PTDF accountfor the purposes of training Nigerians in specified fields.
"About $700m was realised during the 2002/2003 bidding rounds butonly the sum of about $145m was released to the PTDF. At this point,the pertinent question to ask is: where is the balance and who usedit and under what law or which appropriation sub-head. "Thelaw also provides that any disbursed amount should be invested inaccordance with the guidelines approved by the Accountant General ofthe Federation(AGF).
"The AGF approved about 14 banks to hold PTDF deposits aftercertifying them to be healthy and suitable. These include theEquatorial Trust Bank (ETB) and the Trans-International Bank(TIB).
"It is very important to state that the approval granted by theFederal Executive Council (FEC) was for programmes and projects to beembarked upon after the project conception, design and implementationafter meeting due process requirements.
"The approval was not for the award of contracts to be implementedimmediately, nor was it an approval for the investment of the fundsas the kangaroo panel set up by the President tried to impute.
"This is clearly so, as the president had earlier in 2001 approveda similar programme of action, which guided the operations of thePTDF. The established operational procedure for the PTDF did notprovide for FEC approval before funds are deposited with anybank.
"It was a routine exercise which was normally done by themanagement of PTDF under the direction of the Special Adviser onPetroleum Resources or the Vice President as the case maybe.
"Over $100m was deposited with First Bank and similar large sumswith UBA at one time or the other without any such approval.Similarly, the other 12 banks or so had amounts deposited with themwithout the approval of FEC.
"In short, no government department or PTDF required any approvalfrom the FEC to invest their funds. The procedure in the case of ETBand TIB were fully complied with as the banks were approved by the AGto hold PTDF funds.
"The Executive Secretary recommended them on the basis of soundbusiness judgment which the Vice President approved and thesignatories to the PTDF accounts comprising officers in the AGF'soffice and Ministry of Petroleum Resources released the funds to thebanks as deposits on clearly defined tenor and interest rates to bepaid." Vanguard (Lagos) September 18, 2006
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials
Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
The Economics of Elections in Nigeria
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam
DEBATE: How Black intellectuals let Africa down, and western stereoptypes complicate the rest. By Cedrick Ngalande at the USC, Los Angeles
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are Keys to prosperity in Africa
Apple announces Titanium, "killer apps" and other ground-breaking products for 2001. iTunes makes a record 500,000 downloads.
Steve Jobs extends digital magic
CLASS is the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine for Africans in north America, described by The New York Times as the magazine for affluent Africans in America. It is published by professional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders and pioneers.
This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a Written Approval by USAfricaonline.com Founder.
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu (First written on March 1, 2002, for USAfrica, updated for Prof. Achebe's 74th Birthday tribute on November 16, 2004, and published in CLASS magazine same month): Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe, has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as the writer of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in the twentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you!
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers
In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'
Powell named Secretary State by G.W. Bush; bipartisan commendations follow.
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."
These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'