Congratulations to the people of Egypt on a successfully-executed and peaceful revolution from the closing days of January into February 2011. Those days certainly stand in history as more than remarkable. The people’s tenacity but also the restraint of the military can both be equally lauded as the causative factors to the dawn of a new era in Egypt. Of course, there is still some baited breath as the future of this new democracy is far from being certain.
Skeptics are quick to point out Iran among others as unsuccessful revolutions. Even as other despots around the world hold on to power, the fear of who’s next is said to be creeping up on them, “them” being the rest of the Arab world. So why would I even throw Nigeria into this mix?
Over these past few days, the discussion on our lips about Egypt’s revolution has been captivating at times, apprehensive at others. We recall the pictures streaming into our living rooms: Prayers being said about the martyrs who died in the cause for freedom, the lone guy walking down the street suddenly gunned down, the young and old faces, thousands-strong crowds gathering every day in spite of warnings and curfews. They were all pictures of courage and selflessness. Mubarak’s 30-year reign finally came tumbling down after 18 days.
The dissent against Mubarak? Lack of free elections, staggering unemployment, immense poverty and seal these with this one: an amassed personal wealth (not worth since he didn’t earn it) said to be in the billions (of dollars).
Now we must be looking at the connections to other seemingly democratic states that are not, such as Nigeria. No ruler has had such a long-running stint in Nigeria, but certainly the other conditions hold true: So while there may not be the call for any despot to stepdown in Nigeria, the façade of a democracy must be something to be raised and examined.
The looting of treasuries in Nigeria is not limited to the federal level but trickles down to ministerial, gubernatorial, and legislative thievery. The oil-rich country seems cursed by her God-given gift. I have little time to recap the issues strangulating Nigeria. The terrorist clashes and religious intolerance continue.
Recently, public schools were shut down and children’s education stalled for months so that voter registration can take place! Suffice it to say that in spite of the goodness, entrepreneurship, and talents of much of Nigeria, this country as a nation remains backward-acting and regressive. Who am I to take that tangent when Nobel laureates and top academicians such as Prof. Wole Soyinka and Prof. Chinua Achebe have sufficiently spoken out on these issues?
The question of restoring democracy, freedoms, and the pursuit of happiness to the average Nigerian cannot be questioned. And so I repeat, “Is Nigeria next in this cascading movement for liberty and accountability?” To find answers, we turn to Nigerian voices young, old, in the country and in the Diaspora. Social media has been a revolution, in and of itself. I decided to pose this question to as many people as I could. One young respondent, a self-identified Nigerian American, was aghast at my question, stating quickly, “It would be a blood bath!” The military would have absolutely no such restraint as has been shown by the Egyptian military. It would be an avenue to settle scores.”
An older Nigerian-American was less shocked at my question but also stated emphatically, “No way would this happen in Nigeria. Did you not witness the solid one-force movement in Egypt? They came together as one regardless of creed, ethnicities, and religion.” Then she turned the question back to me: “Do you ever see Nigerians doing such a thing without breaking into the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Igala, Efik, ethnic divides?” Even the so-called democratic structure of political organizations in Nigeria cannot withstand the regional and ethnic rivalries in seeming times of peace, what more in a challenging time of revolution. But then again, I thought to myself, one never knows what eventually triggers and galvanizes a people to come together and fight for their lives. Last year, listening to a presentation on Tunisia, I asked the presenter about the socioeconomics of the country and was told then that former President Ben Ali was on top of things. Well, history has proven otherwise.
One more thing, in my opinion, that endemically may never let Nigerians come together and fight for what rightly belongs to them and their children is greed. Simply stated, in the Nigerian culture, the prevailing sense of nationhood and consciousness is “Where’s my piece of the pie?” I can hardly see us going beyond individual selves to fight for the general good. With every change in regime, the idea of keeping despots accountable is quickly lost because the next group of leaders is looking out for “Me, Myself, and I.” How can genuine democratic freedoms come about in such stagnant and choking personal greed?
Nonetheless, maybe our younger generation of Nigerians (under 30’s) holds out muchneeded hope for Nigeria. For one, they are certainly connected on social media. They seem to exhibit more pride in the Nigeria nation than most of us (Age 30 and above). While we sometimes sound as if we’ve given up on our country, many of these younger ones have hope. And hope deferred is still hope.
•Ifedi, Assistant Professor of Education at Ashland University, Ohio, is acontributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine. She is author of African-born Women Faculty in the U.S. : Lives in Contradiction (2008, EdwinMellen Press, New York). She has a blog at drrosaire.wordpress.com
From November 9, 2018, Ethiopia will start its friendly visa-on-arrival policy for all Africans. Africa’s second most populous nation will make this move, according to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff [Fitsum Aregaa], as “Consistent with PM Abiy Ahmed’s vision of a closer and full regional integration in Africa — where minds are open to ideas and markets are open to trade.”
Abiy had earlier this year disclosed that following Rwanda’s lead, Ethiopia was going to allow a visa-free regime for all Africans. At the time, he was speaking at a state banquet held for his visiting Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.
Abiy said: “The President (Kagame) invited all Africans to travel to Rwanda without visas, we will follow you very soon.” On June 1 the issuance of visas online for all tourists kick started.
Ethiopia boasts the continent’s best national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which has made the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, not just a regional but global aviation hub.
The most recent time the issue was came up was when ex-president Mulatu Teshome at the opening of parliament said the visa-on-arrival regime was to be implemented in this year. USAfricaonline.com wt wire reports
JOHANNESBURG: South Africa accused US President Donald Trump of fuelling racial tensions on Thursday (Aug 23) after he said farmers were being forced off their land and many of them killed.
Trump’s tweet touched on the overwhelmingly white ownership of farmland in South Africa – one of the most sensitive issues in the country’s post-apartheid history.
The foreign ministry said in a statement it would meet officials at the US embassy to challenge the “unfortunate comments”, which were “based on false information”.
Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would also speak directly with her American opposite number, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it added.
Trump wrote overnight: “I have asked Secretary of State … Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”
His tweet apparently followed a segment on conservative Fox News about [an alleged] plan to change the constitution to speed up expropriation of land without compensation to redress racial imbalances in land ownership.
“‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers’,” said Trump’s post, which tagged the show’s host, Tucker Carlson, as well as the channel.
In the clip, Carlson painted an apocalyptic picture of the situation accompanied by on-screen graphics warning of the “threat of violence and economic collapse”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who faces elections in 2019, has claimed expropriating farms without compensating their owners would “undo a grave historical injustice” against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era.
Even though apartheid ended in 1994, the white community that makes up eight per cent of the population “possess 72 per cent of farms” compared to “only four per cent” in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, Ramaphosa said.
The stark inequality stems from purchases and seizures during the colonial era that were then enshrined in law during apartheid.
But plans to change the constitution have yet to be approved by parliament, and there is a vigorous debate in South Africa about how land redistribution would work – and whether seizures could be economically damaging as they were in post-independence Zimbabwe.
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party which opposes forced expropriation but backs land reform, said “fear mongering by international leaders adds no value”.
“The injustices of land dispossession in South Africa can be addressed by our constitution in its current form. We must ensure ownership of land for all South Africans,” he tweeted.
Later on Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called for “a peaceful and transparent public debate”.
However she added that on “the expropriation of land without compensation, our position is that that would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path”.
Earlier this year, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sparked a diplomatic row after he said that Canberra should give “special attention” to white South African farmers seeking asylum.
The level of violence against farmers and farm workers is hotly contested but the police’s latest figures show there were 74 farm murders in 2016-17, according to the Africa Check fact-checking site.
South Africa’s leading farming lobby group AgriSA on Thursday praised the government’s “commitment to agriculture”.
“As a country it’s important that we find solutions together – we did this pre-1994 and we can do it again,” AgriSA chief executive Omri van Zyl told the SABC broadcaster.
Van Zyl was speaking at a conference on the land issue also attended by Deputy President David Mabuza who warned against “spreading falsehoods”.
“We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us,” he said.
But Kallie Kriel, chief executive of AfriForum – a group that advocates for its largely white membership – welcomed Trump’s intervention and attacked Ramaphosa for pressing ahead with the policy.
“We need to get international support to put pressure on the South African government to hopefully make them re-visit their stance,” he told AFP.
Kriel added that Trump could suspend South Africa from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade programme if property rights were not respected.
“The US has a lot of power,” he said.
South Africa’s rand currency dropped as much as 1.9 per cent against the US dollar following Trump’s tweet, according to the Bloomberg news agency, ending four days of gains against the greenback.
Julius Malema, the leader of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, called Trump a “pathological liar” and told him to “stay out of South Africa’s domestic affairs”. ref AFP
Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com
At a population conference in New York, Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Eze Duruiheoma estimated that the current population of Nigeria is 198 million, and that the population living in urban areas has been growing 6.5 percent annually over the past fifty years. He cites that World Population Prospects prediction that by 2050, Nigeria will displace the United States as the third most populous country in the world after China and India. He also noted the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects prediction that by 2050, 77 percent of Nigeria’s population will be urban. The NPC chairman also looked at the number of internally displaced Nigerians. With respect to the Boko Haram insurrection in the northeast, Duruiheoma estimated that the number of internally displaced is 1.76 million, which is lower than other estimates, some of which can be as high as 2.5 million.
Nigerians know they are by far the most populous country in Africa, and they are proud of it. Estimates of the size of the country’s population range from the World Bank’s 186 million to 205 million by UN agencies. An accurate census is difficult in Nigeria in part because of infrastructure shortcomings. In the past, too, census results have also fueled ethnic and religious conflicts exploited by political figures. Nevertheless, in 2017 the director general of the NPC raised the possibility of a census in 2018. Given the practical and political difficulties and with the prospect of national elections in 2019, that timeframe seems overly optimistic. In the meantime, it is necessary to fall back on careful estimates.
Duruiheoma pointed out in New York that Nigeria’s urban population growth has not been accompanied by a “commensurate increase in social amenities and infrastructure.” More generally, economic growth has not kept up with population growth. Hence, the enormous slums outside city centers.
In effect, Nigeria has no population policy that would limit births, and Nigerians have traditionally valued large families. Yet the country’s rapid population growth, especially in urban areas, poses difficult economic, social, and public health challenges. A huge, rapidly growing population is not necessarily a source of national strength.