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Chinua Achebe’s work on earth was magnificently done. By Chike Momah

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TRIBUTE TO CHINUA ACHEBE (IKEJIMBA) 1930-2013

By CHIKE MOMAH

Special to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of  Nigeria360IgboEventsUNNalumni,  and CLASSmagazine Houston.                                                                    Follow USAfrica Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Twitter.com/Chido247

 

Chinua Achebe was a compelling figure, straight out of a Biblical saga. He was also, rather more prosaically, a friend who was so close, he was like a brother. A few hours after his death was blazed around the world, I received a condolence call from a member of our Dallas (Texas) Igbo community. This friend asked me if I was sure Chinua and I did not share an umbilical cord. Another person, this time a Reverend gentleman, expressed his condolences in rather more risqué language. “Your friendship with Chinua,” he said, “reminds me of the biblical story of David and Jonathan.”

Chinua-Achebe_holding-his-headI would be lying through my teeth if I said I was not flattered by the language in which the two condolences were couched. But while I gloried in the way my friendship with Chinua was perceived by these two gentlemen, two things struck me about the manner their perceptions were expressed. The reference to Chinua and I sharing an umbilical cord will be easily recognized for what it was: a humorous turn of phrase. But when the clergyman reached for his Bible in search of relational equivalences, he lighted on one of the most emotional passages in Holy Scripture: David lamenting the death of Jonathan, whose love for him, David sang, “was wonderful, passing the love of women!” The love of women? I ask you!

The clergyman’s Biblically inspired phraseology also set me thinking in an unusual direction. I thought about it for a long while, and then – eureka! – it hit me. Chinua Achebe’s story, the saga of his life, is a story of almost Biblical proportions. He rose so far above his humble birth, and above his innate humility – as a human being, a classmate in school, and a friend – that nothing about him seemed ordinary. And, amazingly, his stratospheric rise to greatness, fame and universal acclaim was, at least, twice predicted: first, in 1943, by his and my primary school Headmaster, Mr. Okongwu, as sagacious an observer of humanity as you are likely to meet; and, about a dozen years later, by Chinua himself, albeit innocently.

Chinua did not prophecy, in so many words, that he would, one day, be a great man. But, about two years BEFORE he even began to write his epochal novel (THINGS FALL APART; published in 1958), he wrote the following words to a mutual friend: “Yes, there may be many stars in the firmament, but some shine brighter than others.” My memory, at my fairly advanced age, is like a sieve but, as near as I can remember, those were his exact words. I know this because I saw and read the letter he wrote to the friend, and I was involved in the sequence of events that led to that innocent prediction. The mutual friend, I am happy to relate, also achieved considerable success, in his own right, as a novelist. Glory be!

Headmaster Okongwu’s prophecy was couched in more straightforward and unambiguous language. In 1943, as I was sweating over my preparations for the entrance examination to Government College, Umuahia (G.C.U. – a boys’ high school), along came my Headmaster. He regarded me for a moment or two, and then uttered his immortal words: “If,” he said, “you do well enough in the exam to gain admission to the school, I predict you will there meet a boy called Albert Achebe, and Albert will make the rain that will drench you!!! (This was a boy he last saw in 1940, when Chinua was ten years old.) In the upshot, I gained admission to GCU. Chinua also did, on a merit scholarship! This was in January 1944.

The rest is history. In the middle of 1944, our first year in high school, Chinua was promoted, with five other boys, to class two. First drenching! From then till his high school graduation in 1948, he was the best student in his new class. That same year, he won a merit scholarship (one of only six or seven awarded that year) to the University College, Ibadan (U.C.I.). To study MEDICINE!! U.C.I. was then the only institution for tertiary education in the country. He changed courses at the end of his freshman year, and I caught up with him one more time. This was in 1949. We both graduated, Bachelor of Arts, in the same subjects, in 1953. Throughout those four years, our professors and lecturers, again and again, let us know that Chinua was, not only the best student in the class, but also the best writer of English. He achieved the best result in our degree examination. Second drenching!!

I need not belabor the point. More drenching followed, fast and furious! Within five years of our graduation, Chinua published THINGS FALL APART. Other novels followed, and success followed hard on success. The inevitable consequence followed. Chinua, force majeure, began to shift out of my orbit. He discovered, as his friends did too, that he had been drawn onto a world stage – to all of humanity, and not just to a narrow circle of friends and admirers.

He was, as I have dared to proclaim elsewhere, the best writer of English that I think I have ever read. He is, for me, its most mellifluous exponent. If the reader disagrees with this spectacular claim, I plead that beauty is in the beholder’s eye. I speak for myself and, perhaps, for a continent. There is no writer, living or dead, who has demonstrated, in greater measure than Chinua, the ability to weave a tapestry of words taken from the Queen’s English and from the proverbs and aphorisms of his own mother tongue, Igbo.

He certainly rose above the British colonial quagmire to which our people were condemned for a century and more, to write the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Stevenson and, yes, even Conrad, with a mastery that takes the breath away. When we were reading those authors, in high school and in college, we did not think – we dared not think – that we would produce a Chinua Achebe. Later, he was to pick a bone or two with Conrad’s racially slanted writings, but that is another story!

I might have sometimes been tempted to look at Chinua, and think (again, Biblically): Is this not the carpenter’s son? But I can say, truthfully, that I never succumbed to that temptation. He bestrode my world like the colossus that he was, and I rejoiced with him as he scaled the heights of literature to its pinnacle. No, he was no mere carpenter’s son for me.

During the years Chinua and I were in high school and university, my contacts with the senior Achebe were few and far between. My memory of him is, at best, very sketchy now. But Chinua’s old man was no carpenter, though I have no doubt that he was largely responsible for chiseling Chinua, in his formative years, into the exquisite product that has dazzled the world for more than half a century, since THINGS FALL APART was published in 1958.  

Chinua should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Prize committee members are probably the only persons, on earth, who know why he was denied this recognition of his literary stature, and of his influence on more than two or three generations of African writers. And on other writers worldwide! Tony Morrison (the Nobel laureate) acknowledged Chinua as one of her main literary inspirations in writing about her own people. Chinua’s most celebrated contemporary and fellow Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel laureate, also acknowledged Chinua as a trail-blazer. Enough said!

Chinua now belongs to the ages, his work on earth magnificently done. No one could have asked for more from even a genius of his breath-taking dimensions. Regrettably, Chinua had to live out the last twenty-three years of his life wheelchair-bound – the result of a vehicular accident in 1990. This is the reason, above all else, that my wife, Ethel and I (and Chinua’s other friends) are especially appreciative of the love and devotion of Odozi-ngwulu, his beautiful wife, Professor Dr. Christiana Achebe – Ana to Chinua himself, Christie to the rest of us!

My appreciation also extends to their children, Chinelo, Ike, Chidi and Nwando, of whom one is a medical doctor, and the other three achieved doctorates in academia. Apropos of this, Ethel sometimes teasingly told Chinua he was the least educated member of his family!! I was his best-man when he married Christie, and he was godfather to my son, Chukwudi (Chidi).

His last book, There Was A Country,

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut-pixkwenu

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut

the story of Biafra, and of man’s inhumanity to man – was like a concluding and thunderous exclamation mark on his life as a writer! The buzz it generated has scarcely died down, as I write this.

I stand, in humility, in the shadow of Chinua Achebe’s greatness and, yes, of his almost Biblical stature!!! In the language of the Bard: when comes such another?

Nnabuenyi Momah’s tribute is his second revision of a piece (Reflection on Chinua Achebe) which he wrote in 2000, and revised in 2007. Achebe’s passing, in the third week of March 2013, has necessitated this update; sent to USAfricaonline.com from his base in Arlington, Texas; April 2013.  He is the author of several novels and retired international agencies staff. His book review-exclusive interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu was published here on USAfricaonline.com and across the platforms of USAfrica e-groups on March 7, 2012. https://usafricaonline.com/2012/03/17/usafricabooks-profile-chike-momah-on-his-novels-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247 

Long Live, CHINUA ACHEBE! The Eagle on the iroko.                                                                                       By Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University, is the Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com


WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA.
 By Chido Nwangwu
  https://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-grouphttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com https://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu
https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos

310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html

http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010)By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/  

Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChidoFacebook.com/USAfrica247 n Twitter.com/Chido247

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• Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

 

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

——

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010). By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/

The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu   https://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu

USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).

I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.

To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.

We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.

News: At Ojukwu memorial in Dallas Texas, USAfrica’s Chido Nwangwu challenges the Igbo nation to say never again like Jews.

Ojukwu trouble and Ikemba titles. By Chido Nwangwu

USAfrica: Awolowo’s Starvation Policy against Biafrans and the Igbo requires apology not attacks on Achebe. By Francis Adewale. 

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal

USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin.  By Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/

 

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USAfrica: Atiku’s America trip boosts U.S assessment as realistic alternative to Buhari

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By CHIDO NWANGWU, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • ChidoNwangwu.com

The first time I met Atiku Abubakar was the first Thursday of May, 1999 when he attended the world’s largest oil and. gas conference, OTC, as Nigeria’s Vice President-elect, and I co-managed with Chris Mammah his participation on behalf of NAPIMS/NNPC.

Since 2001, somehow, millions of Nigerians believe(d) and spread the allegation that Atiku Abubakar had a “guilty charge awaiting him to be arrested” for criminal culpability, should he “set his feet” on the continental shelf of the United States….

Since 2015, for the opponents of Atiku, particularly outspoken members of retired general Muhammadu Buhari’s  ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), those are “Incriminating evidences” as well as the most visible disqualifiers, open for everyone to see as proof of his “corruption records.…”

But on Wednesday evening of January 16, 2019, in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, the country’s former Vice President (1999 to 2007 during the presidency of retired general Olusegun Obasanjo) packed his bag with his visa. He was ready for the awaited trip to the United States of America, accompanied by some of his advisers. The jet was airborne around 1:30 Thursday morning. He arrived later in the day at the Washington Dulles international airport.

What are the key points and implications from his trip?

First, Atiku, one of the most formidable businessmen in the critical sector of logistics, effectively used the opportunity and platforms to announce to the world that he is the Nigerian free market forces candidate and the champion of privatization! And, it’s jobs, jobs, jobs! Exactly what the American leadership needed to hear. 

Second, with a mix of other factors and aggregation of interests, I think the man left the U.S, operationally enhancing his international bona fides, mid-January 2019, as a realistic alternative to Buhari.

Third, there was no mention of his controversial business tango with some Americans including Louisiana congressman Jefferson (who is in jail.). Plus, no reference to the complications from his multi-nodal transfer of substantial sums of funds into the U.S.

 Fourth, the man’s upfront and non-pretentious interest in State power specifically to become president of Nigeria is likely to draw the admiration of some American political activists and Nigerian-Americans. On the other hand, there are many who still charge him of an extraordinary ambition for apex political power  which led him to move from the PDP to the APC and then back to the PDP. It fueled the flames of antagonism and corrosive questions against him.

On this issue, with deserving regards to history and facts, the cheerleader of the choir which sang all manner of stuff against “Atiku’s character” was his former boss,  Obasanjo.

To borrow the Warri context of the word, it was Atiku who “come provoke” the unforgiving soldier who could have been a great head of state, Obasanjo!

Unfortunately, Obasanjo’s quest for an unprecedented 3rd term distracted him from the higher purposes of good governance; especially his positioning himself as the Nigerian Mandela. I addressed this comparison in my summer 2019 book titled MLK, Mandela and Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity [ISBN 978-0-9893970-0-1]

Fifth, by wrapping up the two-day trip to the United States without any problems, I believe that Atiku has gained an excellent opportunity to refresh his narrative regarding the twin issues of integrity and corruption.

Sixth, by coming to exchange ideas with some of the most influential business executives and public policy leaders here in the United States, the moderate Muslim,  who was born on November 25, 1946, has also enhanced his stature among leaders from the emerging markets.

Seventh, Atiku has began the unavoidable task of clearing the wet blanket of doubt covering the important, strategic and thoughtful manifesto he presented with Peter Obi  over his third attempt to be elected President. •00——————————————•

Dr. Chido Nwangwu, analyst on CNN & SKY news,  moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University in Rhode Island and former adviser on Africa business to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1993, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.comChido is completing the 2019 book titled MLK, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Power, Leadership and Identity.  E-mail: Chido@USAfricaonline.com

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Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight….

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Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight....

Special to USAfrica [Houston\]

Gabon’s presidency said in a statement that soldiers burst into a state radio station at dawn on Monday and called for an uprising against President Ali Bongo, who was recovering in Morocco from a stroke.

Security forces stormed the building, arrested the coup leader and killed two of his soldiers, according to the presidency.

“The secretary-General has always stood against unconstitutional changes of power, especially by force, and in that light, he condemns the attempted coup that took place this morning in Gabon,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres added that calm appears to have returned in Libreville and calls “on all actors to follow constitutional means”, added Dujarric.

The UN envoy for Central Africa, Francois Lounceny Fall, who is based in Libreville was closely monitoring the situation and is ready to offer assistance if needed, said the spokesman.

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USAfrica: Why Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom Gov. Udom Emmanuel deserves reelection in 2019

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By Ini Ubong

Special to USAfrica [Houston] & USAfricaonline.com

There’s every likelihood that Udom Emmanuel, the incumbent Governor of Akwa Ibom State, will continue with a second term in office. Top among the reasons this will happen is the fact that the peace which eluded the state between 2007-2015 has [restored]. It has become the norm, and so, the people that were affected most, the Church in Uyo are now conducting their business unhindered. This is why the church as a body, have cried that, “afflictions shall not arise a second time “.

I was in the state for 11 days and spoke and listened to faith leaders. They want the peace experienced to continue. Udom Emmanuel The Governor is unpopular amongst the civil servants? Yes. There’s a visible anger once you mention his name. He’s not owing them their salaries, but emoluments like several years of leave allowances, pensions etc. In my quest to understand what’s on the mind of the Governor, one of his senior aides agreed that the Governor had a meeting last week with Level 14 and above officers and explained to them the poor financial situation, offering them notarized promotions.

At several instances, I have pleaded poor income for the state, and I was unkindly told that the “Udom boys are living large, buying properties and the good life.”

Udom Emmanuel –as Governor of AKS– isn’t seen as a friendly and humble person and those around him complain he’s not flexible with counsel. Human flaws? Yes, but, there’s been a lot of development in the state, and decorum in managing the finances.

This sitting Governor will return because, the defection of PDP’s Godswill Akpabio to APC has unsettled the opposition’s plans; and successes achieved before his arrival has dissipated. An aspirant of APC swore that they’ll all vote Udom Emmanuel, to “teach APC a lesson.“

Everywhere APC had structures, the uncommon transformer’s entry undid all, leaving the party with bitter tastes in their mouths. Streetwise consensus is that, if Nsima Ekere, the APC gubernatorial candidate was staking his reputation, there would have been a real battle,  the braggadocio of Godswill Akpabio.

Most people of AKS are done with that era. Take for example the primaries of APC in the state. Lives were lost in the process, and even though the process was inconclusive, candidates forced on the people were announced. This again is a relic of our locust years. PDP in Akwa Ibom State seems to be strategic.

When I screamed why Chris Ekpenyong, one time Deputy Governor of the state, who recently was lampooned, cursed and abused by constituents of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district on a radio phone in programme, should be given a ticket to oppose Godswill Akpabio, a senior PDP person suggested that, the party might not be interested in winning that position. Again, the obvious confrontation from the camp of the NDDC CEO, regarding projects in AKS isn’t resonating with responsible adult in the state. The expectations are that, the Federal agency, should have partnered as the provision is, with the state government in determining strategic and important infrastructure to move the state forward, instead of the former behaving like another Governor of the state.

The people of Akwa Ibom State are desirous of the tranquillity that was in the state before the coming of Godswill Akpabio, and whoever is offering that peace, they have elected to petition their Maker for the best. So, the battle to return Udom Emmanuel is also a spiritual one; it is not for Udom Emmanuel himself, but, for the future of the Akwa Ibom people.

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#FLASHPOINT: DRC Congo on knife’s edge as presidential election result is postponed

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

The Democratic Republic of Congo officials on Saturday delayed the announcement of preliminary results from a crucial presidential election, amid growing pressure from world powers and the influential Catholic church to respect voters’ wishes.

“It is not possible to publish the results on Sunday. We are making progress, but we do not have everything yet,” Corneille Nangaa said, without announcing a new date.

The country’s powerful National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which represents the country’s Catholic bishops, warned popular anger could result in the event the final result were not “true to the verdict of the ballot box.”

DR Congo’s powerful Catholic Church, which provided more than 40,000 election observers, had said Thursday it knew who had won the vote, but did not name him.

In a letter to Nangaa on Saturday, CENCO president Mgr Marcel Utembi said that, given the delay, “if there is a popular uprising it would be the responsibility of the CENI.”

The December 30 vote saw 21 candidates run to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the vast, conflict-ridden country for almost 18 years.

Among the frontrunners were Kabila’s handpicked successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and two opposition candidates: veteran heavyweight Felix Tshisekedi and newcomer Martin Fayulu.

At stake is the political stewardship of a mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila had been due to step down two years ago, but clung on to power, sparking widespread protests which were brutally repressed, killing dozens.

The election, preceded by repeated delays, was carried out in a relatively peaceful manner. But tensions have built over the lengthy counting process, amid fears the results could be manipulated to install Kabila-backed Shadary in power.

The electoral commission had promised to announce preliminary results on Sunday, followed by a definitive count on January 15.

But Nangaa told AFP just under half of ballots had been counted by Saturday afternoon, adding: “Next week, we will announce.”

The further delay could stoke tension in the unstable central African nation of 80 million.

Nangaa has blamed the slow count on massive logistical problems in a country the size of Western Europe with poor infrastructure. Since the vote, the authorities have cut internet access and blocked broadcasts by Radio France Internationale, causing widespread frustration.

With international concerns growing over the transfer of power in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation, Western powers have upped the pressure.

The United States and European Union urged Kinshasa to ensure a peaceful change of power.

Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States was sending about 80 troops to Gabon to deploy in the event of election-related unrest in nearby DR Congo.

The African Union, which had sent an 80-member team to monitor the vote, insisted that respecting voters’ wishes was “crucial”.

And Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the DR Congo’s western neighbour, the Republic of Congo, urged restraint in uncertain times to “safeguard peace and stability in this brother country”.

Nangaa wrote to CENCO head Utembi on Friday accusing the episcopal conference of putting out partial result “trends” designed to “intoxicate the population in preparing an uprising,” an accusation the latter turned on its head with Saturday’s letter in response.

In his letter Nangaa warned CENCO would “alone be responsible” for unrest after disseminating “insignificant and partial data.”

The ruling FCC coalition accused CENCO of “seriously breaching” the constitution and electoral law by “illegally declaring voting trends” in favour of a given candidate.

The last two elections in 2006 and 2011, both won by Kabila, were marred by bloodshed, and many feared a repeat if the results this time round were placed in doubt.

In 2006, Kabila defeated former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba in a violence-tainted poll.

Five years later, he was re-elected in another vote blighted by bloodshed, chaotic organisation and alleged irregularities.

The opposition rejected the results.

Between 1996 and 2003, DR Congo lived through two fully-fledged wars that claimed millions of lives through fighting, starvation, and disease. ref: AFP

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Violence, tension in DRC Congo election; Kabila orders internet access shut down

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AFP: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday began counting ballots from a presidential election marked by delays and fears of violence and vote-rigging, straining hopes for its first-ever peaceful transfer of power.

After a relatively bloodless vote, election officials embarked on the marathon task of counting and collating, their work scrutinised by opposition parties for any sign of fraud.

Sunday’s elections went ahead after two years of delays and sporadic clashes in the notoriously unstable country.

But the influential Catholic church, through its national conference of bishops, declared the vote had been “relatively calm”.

Reported incidents included harassment of some election monitors and a clash in the restive eastern province of South Kivu that left four dead.

Two telecoms operators, Global and Vodacom, said the government had ordered them to cut access to the Internet on Monday — a move that opposition supporters said aimed at blocking social-media activism.

The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of leader since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Worries of a new spiral into violence deepened in 2016 after President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, refused to quit when his two-term limit expired.

Tension and suspicion were further stoked by repeated delays, a bloody crackdown on anti-Kabila protests and accusations that electronic voting machines would help to rig the result.

But Kabila late Sunday congratulated the public for voting “in peace and dignity”.

Provisional results are due to be announced on January 6, with final results expected on January 15. The new president is set to be sworn in on January 18.

From Kinshasa to Goma, 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) further east, polling stations already put up first results on Monday morning.

In Kisangani, the country’s third-largest city, observers hired by the political parties slept on the floor or on desks at a polling station to keep their eye on the vote count, an AFP reporter said.

A monitoring mission set up by the Catholic church said some of its observers had been “molested and violated.”

On Sunday evening, violence erupted at a polling station in the Walungu area of South Kivu province after an electoral official was accused of trying to rig the vote in favour of Kabila’s preferred successor, according to an opposition figure.

The electoral official was killed along with a policeman and two civilians, said Vital Kamerhe, who has been campaigning for Felix Tshisekedi.

Kabila’s champion Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and Tshisekedi, head of a veteran opposition party, UDPS, separately claimed victory.

But the scant opinion polls that have been conducted made Martin Fayulu — until recently a little-known legislator and former oil executive — clear favourite.

He garnered around 44 percent of voting intentions, followed by Tshisekedi with 24 percent and Shadary with 18 percent, said Jason Stearns of the Congo Research Group, based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

Roughly half of survey respondents, he added, said they would reject the result if Shadary — a hardline former interior minister facing EU sanctions for a crackdown on protesters — was declared winner.

The vote for a new president took place alongside legislative and municipal polls.

While turnout failed to reach 50 percent at some polling stations, many voters said they were exhilarated at taking part in the first elections after the nearly 18-year Kabila era.

But there was also much evidence of organisational problems, including with the contested voting machines.

The Catholic monitoring mission said that, as of early Monday, its observers had checked overall tallies of the vote in 4,161 polling stations.

In 3,626 stations, the number of paper ballot sheets tallied with totals kept by electronic voting machines, the observer mission said — a figure that by extrapolation suggests possible discrepancies in 535 bureaux.

DRC’s paradox

A country almost the size of continental western Europe which straddles central Africa, the DRC is rich in gold, uranium, copper, cobalt and other minerals.

Little of that wealth trickles down to the poor. Poverty, corruption and government inertia are etched into the country’s history, along with a reputation for violence.

In the last 22 years, it has twice been a battleground for wars drawing in armies from central and southern Africa.

That legacy endures in eastern DRC, where militias control swathes of territory and battle over resources, wantonly killing civilians.

Insecurity and an ongoing Ebola epidemic in part of North Kivu province, and communal violence in Yumbi, in the southwest, prompted the authorities to postpone the elections there until March.

Around 1.25 million people in a national electoral roll of around 40 million voters are affected. Despite this, elections in the rest of the country went ahead.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Developing jaw-dropping settlement, MTN South Africa to pay Nigeria only US$53.2-million (R777-million) of $8.1-billion (R118-billion) CBN fines, refunds

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] @usafricalive USAfricaonline.com

Christmas [came] early for MTN Group [of South Africa]. The telecommunications operator’s shares are likely to soar when markets reopen on Thursday in Johannesburg after it announced late on Monday that it has settled a multibillion-dollar dispute in Nigeria.

It will pay just US$53.2-million (about R777-million) in a settlement with Nigeria’s central bank, a tiny fraction of the $8.1-billion (R118-billion) the Bank had sought from the group’s subsidiary in the West African country.

MTN Group shares plunged 22% on 30 August when it emerged that the Nigerian central bank had ordered four banks to refund the $8.1-billion it claimed was illegally expatriated by the telecoms provider between 2007 and 2015. Its shares, which trade on the JSE, have failed to recover significant ground since then on investor fears.At these meetings, MTN Nigeria provided additional material documentation which satisfactorily clarified its remittances

A second allegation by Nigerian authorities that MTN owes $2-billion in back taxes remains the subject of dispute, however. That matter is due to be heard by a Nigerian court in February next year.

The settlement amount with the central bank — less than 0.7% of the sum originally demanded — is likely to be seen as a significant victory for group CEO Rob Shuter, who took the reins at MTN last year from Phuthuma Nhleko. Shuter joined MTN from Vodafone Group.

In a statement late on Monday, MTN said a series of meetings were held in Lagos with central bank officials in November.

“At these meetings, MTN Nigeria provided additional material documentation which satisfactorily clarified its remittances,” it said. Upon review of this documentation, the central bank “concluded that MTN Nigeria is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payments made to MTN Nigeria shareholders”.

“However, the central bank maintains that the proceeds from the preference shares in MTN Nigeria’s private placement remittances of 2008 of circa $1-billion were irregular, having been based on CCIs (certificates of capital importation) that only had an approval-in-principle, but not final regulatory approval of the central bank.

“The central bank instructed MTN Nigeria to implement a notional reversal of the 2008 private placement of shares in MTN Nigeria at a net cost of circa 19.2-billion naira — equivalent to $52.6-million. This is on the basis that certain CCIs utilised in the private placement were not properly issued.”

MTN Nigeria and the central bank have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that the operator will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability, the group said.

“In terms of the resolution agreement, the central bank will regularise all the CCIs issued on the investment by shareholders of MTN Nigeria of circa $402.6-million without regard to any historical disputes relating to those CCIs, thereby bringing to a final resolution all incidental disputes arising from this matter.”

MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter


It said MTN Nigeria relied on “certain commercial banks to ensure all approvals had been obtained prior to the CCIs being issued and to ensure the CCIs were properly utilised in the private placement”.

“MTN Nigeria will be engaging with the banks in relation to the issues dealt with in the resolution agreement,” the group said. Presumably, this means MTN is going to try to recover at least some of the $53.2-million from the banks involved.

The original $8.1-billion demanded by the central bank followed just three years after the Nigerian Communications Commission imposed a $5.2-billion fine on MTN for failing to disconnect unregistered Sim cards. That fine was later reduced to about $1-billion.MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment … is due

MTN Group said it remains involved in legal action with Nigeria’s attorney-general over the $2-billion in back taxes the AG claims are owed. The case came up for “initial mention” before the federal high court in Lagos on 8 November 2018 and has been adjourned to 7 February 2019.

“MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment … is due,” the group said, adding that no provisions or contingent liabilities have been raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the claim.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest and most profitable market. It has more than 64 million customers in the country and it enjoys high profit margins. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the third quarter represented 43% of revenue.  ref — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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