Luanda (AFP): Angola’s next president, Joao Lourenco, is a ruling party loyalist and former general who endured several years out of favour after angling for the top job in the 1990s.
Since then, Lourenco, 63, has convinced key regime players he is the right man to succeed Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled the oil-rich southwest African nation for 38 years.
As the deputy president of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) — and defence minister until last month — Lourenco is now “part of the inner circle of power”, said Didier Peclard, an Angola specialist at the University of Geneva.
The MPLA won Wednesday’s election, carrying Lourenco to power as the party’s presidential candidate.
It was something of a turnaround for a man whose ambition nearly ended his career in the 1990s when Dos Santos hinted he might stand down. Lourenco failed to hide his desire to succeed him.
Dos Santos, believing the former general was being opportunistic, forced Lourenco into several years of “political purgatory”, according to Peclard.
His apparent flirtation with resignation had been merely “a political manoeuvre to bring those in the party with ambitions out of the woodwork, and Joao Lourenco paid the price,” he said.
Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco was born on March 5, 1954, in Lobito, in western Angola.
As a young man, he fought against the then colonial power Portugal. After Angola won its independence in 1975, he fought in the civil war that erupted between the MPLA government and UNITA rebels.
Like Dos Santos, Lourenco studied in the former Soviet Union, which trained a number of rising young African leaders during decolonisation.
He became political chief of the armed wing of the MPLA in the civil war — a Cold War proxy conflict that drew in Cuban forces to fight alongside the MPLA, while CIA-backed militias opposed them.
In 1984, he was appointed governor of the eastern province of Moxico, Angola’s largest, quickly rising through the MPLA hierarchy.
The ex-artillery general later led his party’s group in parliament before becoming deputy speaker of the National Assembly.
His appointment as defence minister in 2014 secured his position as favoured successor to Dos Santos.
Now that he is to become president, his main challenge may be Angola’s shift to free-market capitalism at a time when volatile oil prices are taking a heavy toll on the crude-dependent economy.
– ‘Hardline MPLA general’ –
Lourenco “has a reasonable reputation as a moderate, not an extreme character,” said Soren Kirk Jensen of the Chatham House research group in London.
“He is probably the right person to be the bridge as Angola goes through a transition.”
Rumours abound that Dos Santos had hoped to hand over the reins of power to one of his children, one of whom, Isabel dos Santos, is Africa’s first billionaire woman according to Forbes magazine.
But Jensen said that “there is speculation that high-ranked people in the party put their foot down against this.”
Opponents of Dos Santos’s all-powerful regime believe Lourenco offers little hope of real change in Angola.
Activist and journalist Rafael Marques, a leading regime critic, said Lourenco was at heart “a hardline MPLA general”.
Former political prisoner Nuno Alvaro Dala said that under Lourenco “power in Angola will continue to be militarised”.
He is married to Ana Dias Lourenco, a former minister who also represented Angola at the World Bank. They have six children.
The United States said Saturday it was “disturbed by irregularities” in Rwanda’s presidential election which saw Paul Kagame celebrate a third consecutive victory with nearly 99 percent of the vote.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US “congratulates the people of Rwanda on their active and peaceful participation” in the poll but added: “We are disturbed by irregularities observed during voting and reiterate long-standing concerns over the integrity of the vote-tabulation process.”
Kagame, 59, returned to the helm of the east African nation which he has ruled with an iron fist since the end of the 1994 genocide with 98.63 percent of ballots cast — outdoing his tallies of 95 percent in 2003 and 93 percent in 2010.
Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party — the only permitted critical opposition party — won just 0.45 percent of votes, beaten into third place by the little-known independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana with 0.72.
Nauert, who pointedly did not mention Kagame by name in her statement, said a particular concern was the lack of transparency in determining the eligibility criteria.
“We hope the new electoral law to be debated in the next session of Parliament will clarify that process well before the 2018 parliamentary elections,” she said.
Kagame is credited with a remarkable turnaround in the shattered nation, which boasts annual economic growth of about seven percent, is safe, clean and has little corruption. Rwanda also has the highest number of female lawmakers in the world.
However rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling through fear, relying on systematic repression of the opposition, free speech and the media.
Kagame’s critics have ended up jailed, forced into exile or assassinated. Few Rwandans would dare to openly speak against him. ref: wire/agency
Following the strong call by Nigeria’s former President and one of the lead commanders of federal forces against the former Republic of Biafra (1967-1970) Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigerians must do everything possible to stop the quest for the revival of Biafra has drawn an explosive response from Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Kanu recalled yesterday on July 6, Obasanjo’s July 4, 2017 comments in Abuja during the launch of the biography of the late Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari, noting: “I remember Obasanjo calling us names. They said we must eliminate Kanu and for those words coming out from his mouth, he is going to die…. I told Obasanjo that I have given instructions to IPOB should anything happen to me. Everything that comes from Obasanjo’s lineage will die the same day at the same time. It is a standing instruction to IPOB.”
In his familiar style of extreme and colorful bombast, Kanu thundered: “Wherever they are, we will kill them ourselves at the same time, the same day, 12 noon, wherever we find them all over the world. I am not like anything they have seen before.”
Kanu is also embroiled in a showdown with the umbrella Igbo organization Oha na Eze and the elected Governors from the Igbo states over his statement that there will be no more elections in Anambra state in November 2017 (and subsequently in the other Igbo states) until a United Nations supervised referendum on Biafra is conducted. By Chido Nwangwu, founder of USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet. @Chido247
IT was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come. On Tuesday, May 30, the Ndigbo from different walks of life chose to commemorate the day the agitation for a Biafran state was declared 50 years by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a soldier, politician and statesman.
As it happened, Odumegwu-Ojukwu and fellow agitators after fighting in a civil war that lasted for about 31 months, eventually decided to keep Nigeria as one. Although Ojukwu and probably majority of those who shared his Biafran dreams have all passed away, the younger generation of agitators appear unwilling to let them die.
Hence, all the pressure groups that have been formed over the years came together to declare that all the South East indigenes should participate in the stay home protest to commemorate the day. The protest turned out to be a resounding success as many as 75 countries all over the world participated in the protest. It is now common knowledge that activities, business, social and all others were paralysed in the whole of South East that day. Mercifully, there were no reports of bad incidents throughout the period the protest lasted.
That notwithstanding, the message to the federal government, albeit the political class, was unambiguous: Nigeria needs to change it attitudes to the Igbo nation or give it a country of its own. But it appears that the Ndigbo would need more than such agitation to change the current configuration of the country to suit every segment of the country.
In the past 50 years there appears to be an unending agitation for the realisation of Biafra dream as envisioned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he led the region in a civil war in which more than three million people were killed. Since then, the same old issue of marginalisation of the Ndigbo has almost been turned into a sing-song, no matter which government was or in power.
Articulating those issues recently, many Igbo extractions said when the civil war ended in 1970, the then military government had declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always showed the opposite
as Ndigbo were regarded as a conquered people.
Not only that, the apostles of Biafra State have also said that the Ndigbo have been marginalised in all aspects of the Nigerian polity including the economy and politics. They have similarly pointed that despite the pogrom that they suffered, the promise of the Gowon government of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction were never applied to the people of the South East. Besides, instead of the federal government to harness the industry of the Ndigbo people they are being treated like second class citizens in a country where they should have equal rights.
That, perhaps, gave Uchenna Madu, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to say that: “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt.
“Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria. Political scene without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true.”
Madu said trouble appeared to have started for the Ndigbo as far back as before and after the war. He said: “This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of July 29, 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.
“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.
“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.
“Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.”
Madu argued that the policies of marginalisation were efficiently and effectively carried out throughout the military era which dominated Nigerian politics at the time from 1970 to 1999. “Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalisation of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity,” MASSOB boss said.
According to him, the new Igbo nationalism is anchored on a shared vision that the Ndigbo are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria state.
He vowed: “We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation.”
Supporting the separatist idea, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said that there was not much for him to say because of the grim situation in the country, especially among the youths. He said: “You need no other barometer to feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.
“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination Kanu
Similarly, Chilos Godsent, president of the Igbo National Council, INC, said in an interview that the economic policies of Nigeria had made things for the Igbo difficult. Godsent expressed the fear the Igbo would continue to find it difficult until the Nigerian state is liberalised to accommodate every ethnic nationalities in the country. He said he was convinced that the marginalisation of the Igbo people was deliberate.
The INC president said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there. The deliberate marginalisation of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.
“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”
That notwithstanding, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was pleased with the success of the sit-at-home protest, saying the realisation of a Biafra republic was near.
Speaking through Emma Powerful, the IPOB’S media and publicity secretary, Kanu said he was encouraged by the outing, vowing that he would stop at nothing in ensuring that the people of the area were liberated from the stranglehold of their oppressors.
He used the medium to thank “friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world for their tenacious efforts that made our Heroes Day Sit-At-Home Order a resounding success.”
The IPOB leader said the fact that people obeyed the order to sit at home “is confirmation that IPOB which I lead has the mandate of all Biafrans to spearhead the ongoing Biafra restoration effort.”
He added: “With near total compliance with this sit-at-home order I issued when I was still in Kuje Prison Abuja, it has proven to me beyond every conceivable doubt that Biafra restoration is a priority to all and sundry and I promise never to let Biafra down even upon the pain of death because you never let me down.
“We must join hands together, with all genuine and sincere individuals and groups, to restore Biafra with truth and honesty.”
However, rather than join hands with the IPOB leader, the South East Peoples Assembly, SEPA, has asked the federal high court, Abuja, to revoke the bail granted Kanu.
The IPOB in collaboration with other groups, on Tuesday, May 30, organised a successful sit-at-home in South East, an action SEPA regarded as a breach of the bail conditions granted Kanu.
Indeed, the IPOB leader has been facing trial for treason and terrorism, being a major sponsor for the secession of South East from Nigeria on the platform of his group.
He was arrested on October 15, 2015, in Lagos, and eventually granted bail in May this year on health grounds with some conditions.
Justice Binta Nyako said that she was convinced that Kanu was ill and needed more medical attention than the Nigerian Prisons was giving him and therefore, granted him bail on conditions that he must not hold any rally, grant any interview or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
Nyako gave other bail conditions to include three sureties in the sum of N100 million each and ordered that Kanu to deposit both his Nigerian and British passports with the court and that a report on the progress of his health must be made available to her on a monthly basis.
She adjourned the matter till July 11 and 12, for definite commencement of trial.
However, based on the sit-at-home order, the SEPA has accused Kanu of infringing on the bail conditions.
In a letter to Justice Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the high court, Chukwuemeka Okorie, president of the SEPA, asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to revoke Kanu’s bail.
He said that Kanu had continued to conduct himself in a manner that was totally at variance with terms and conditions of his bail.
He listed the infractions to include holding rallies, grant of interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
“Obviously, the recklessness with which he made media statements and even organised the ‘Sit at Home and Stay Indoor’ protest to mark the so called Biafra heroes day on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017, is a threat to the unity, security and peace of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
“We have no iota of doubt that he is trying to push our dear country Nigeria into an unnecessary precarious situation for his personal agenda and those of his paymasters.
“Sir, our decision to write this demand letter to your good office at this time is to forestall another civil unrest in Nigeria, particularly around the Igbo speaking region.
“As you well know, the struggle by Kanu to be relevant under the guise of actualisation of Biafra does not enjoy the support of right thinking Igbo people both at home and in diaspora.
“That he suddenly addresses himself as the Supreme Leader of Biafra points to how arrogant and disrespectful he is to legitimately constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The pertinent question on our minds as stakeholders is: Has Kanu been consistent in providing the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis since he was granted bail?
“We fear that if Kanu is not tamed by Your Lordship as a matter of urgency, the IPOB may create a situation where it becomes difficult if not impossible for genuine development to take place in the South East under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“History has taught us that the Civil War of 1967-1970 started gradually and later turned out to be something that caused our people unimaginable losses.
“We cannot afford to fold our arms this time and allow a stooge imported from the United Kingdom by stark enemies of Nigeria to maintain a state of belligerence against the nation and keep the name of Igbo people in the news for the wrong reasons.”
In any case, the SERAP’s opposition has, no doubt, shown that not everyone is in support of the separatist movement of Kanu and his co-travellers.
Monday Ubani, a human rights lawyer and second national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, similarly disagreed with the agitation for Biafran state. Rather, he said that the Igbo cause could be better realised within the context of one Nigeria instead of plunging the whole South East into another avoidable crisis.
He admitted that there had been elements of marginalisation against the Ndigbo in the structure of Nigeria, but it was now left for the Ndigbo to build confidence with other ethnic groups in order to get whatever they want.
Ubani said: “If you say you want Biafra, in asking for Biafra what are the plans in place. Have you consulted your political office holders who are holding offices everywhere? Who is going to be the President and then where is the capital to be located? I don’t have any problem with Biafra but I want to see what the plans are. Let’s agree before you pull out.”
He also said Biafra would be difficult to actualise by being hostile and rebellious to other ethnic groups in the country. According to him, the last Biafran war was a waste of lives and opportunities. “I will not at this level of my education now support the Igbo man to go to that level again, war, because I have kids. I will rather like us to get a larger chunk of our right in a more legitimate way in this country God has blessed.
“If you say Igbo should return home because of war, where are the industries to work. Please you don’t sit down and create problems for others and generations yet unborn because you are frustrated. I will advise if we love our land let’s begin to carry our investment home and attract foreign investors,” he said.
Besides, he said that Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started Biafra, before his death said that Biafra was now a thing of the heart. Hence, Ubani said that if Ndigbo want to achieve Biafra “all of us must sit down and work out the modalities of a Biafra state.”
For Nnia Nwodo, president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the marginalisation of the South East by successive administrations necessitated agitation by the youths for a sovereign state of Biafra. At the forum of leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones earlier in May, Nwodo noted that he aspired for a country where every part would be fully involved and the future generation would have a better country than the current generation.
“Our children are agitating. Our children do not want to be part of this country anymore because they feel that we are second-class citizens and because they feel that their parents are incapable of standing out for them.
“They want the Republic of Biafra because most of them feel they are discriminated against and are not equal with others,” he said. He, however, argued that the country would be better as one, as the impact of war on any country could never be over-emphasised.
“We think that in the African continent, our size is our asset. We have built a brotherhood over the years since 1960 and we cannot break. Consequently, we have to put our heads together and find a better federal structure, a constitutional structure, which gives every part of this country satisfaction. In weeks and few months to come, the socio-cultural organisations will come together to seek an end to this impending catastrophe,” Nwodo said.
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said engaging in dialogue with those agitating for an independent state of Biafra would be a sure way to resolving the issue.
At the Biafra conference in Abuja, on Thursday, May 25, the former president said Nigerians must treat the country with care. He recalled what happened during the Biafran war and why such should be avoided.
“I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels…
“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it. Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite… Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails,” he said.
“But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go. We should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”
Similarly, Balarabe Musa, a veteran politician and a former of Kaduna State, in a newspaper interview, agreed that the Ndigbo have not had their fair share in the scheme of things in Nigeria since the time of the civil war. Musa, however, disagreed that majority of the Igbo are in support of Biafra.
He said: “Sincerely speaking, the South-East has not had a fair-share since the civil war. Their marginalisation is quite obvious. But if the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of General (Yakubu) Gowon and the late General (Murtala Mohammed) Murtala’s administrations had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalisation that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra.
“If the reconstruction and reconciliation had been sustained, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of those Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent. The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. Majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because they are enterprising in nature.
“As you are aware, people who are enterprising would prefer a big community as against a small one. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time-bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.
“Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There were times in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising and because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And probably the system could marginalise everybody until there is a brutal revolution.”
Perhaps, fearing the untold damages that may result from another civil war in Nigeria, the only popular agitation in the country today is restructuring, which appears to be unpopular among some Northerners. But that has not diminished the debate for the need to restructure Nigeria to speed up its development.
Lending a voice to the argument, Olusegun Adeniyi in his newspaper column of May 25, said: “All said, as we reflect on 50 years after the declaration of Biafra and what might have been, I agree with the proponents of restructuring that there are sufficient grounds to question some of the assumptions on which the unity of Nigeria is predicated, especially in the light of our serial failings. But to beat war drums at the least provocation or to continue to marginalise (in critical appointments and projects) a significant section of our country are signposts that we have not come to terms with our past and that we have not learnt enough lessons from that tragic episode in our history to say NEVER AGAIN!”
Indeed, that was the view of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state on May 30, 1967, known as Biafra, when he gave his candid opinion on the same agitation in a video that had gone viral on social media.
He said in the video: “I led the first one and I can say I led ‘proudly’ the first one I don’t think a second one is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one, otherwise, they would all have been in vain.”
But whether the agitators for a Biafran state are going to heed to the advice is another matter. That notwithstanding, the fear of Biafra state, may after all be the necessary harbinger to reconfigure the country and give everyone a sense of belonging.
WHO’s swift response to the latest outbreak is being viewed as a way the organisation is saving face following a damning report published in late 2015, that blamed WHO for failing to respond soon enough to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa that left more than 11,000 people dead.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the return of the deadly Ebola virus to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after three years.The WHO said DRC’s Ministry of Health notified them on May 11, 2017 of a confirmed case of the deadly disease.
One death has since been reported, with Reuters news agency quoting a WHOspokesman, Eric Kabambi, as saying “It (the case) is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously.”
The last outbreak of Ebola in Congo was in 2014 and dozens of people died. The AFP had earlier reported that the number of deaths was three.
‘‘The WHO Country Office in the DRC is working closely with the national and provincial authorities and with the WHO Regional Office for Africa, WHOheadquarters in Geneva and all other partners to facilitate deployment of health workers and protective kits in the field to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and rapidly control the epidemic’’, says Dr Yokouidé Allarangar, WHOrepresentative in the DRC.
Dr Allarangar also announced that Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, would arrive in Kinshasa this weekend to attend a coordination meeting of the national committee at the Ministry of Health to deal with this emergency and ensure that WHO provides all necessary assistance to the DRC.
Why Nnia Nwodo’s a courageous, daring leader of Ohaneze
By Obinwa Nnaji.
USAfrica Executive Editor [Nigeria and West Africa].
With just few weeks away, it will be six months since the new leader piloting the affairs of this all important socio-cultural body of a most audacious, brave, industrious and homogeneous people that speak Igbo in Nigeria and the Diaspora – the Ohaneze, came aboard.
The hopefulness that greeted the election of Chief John Nnia Nwodo Jnr., two-time Federal Minister of Transport (Aviation), later Information and one who had been in the race for the presidential ticket of one of the political parties, could not have been a mere fluke. The reverberations could be felt in far flung places away from the Ohaneze Secretariat in Enugu.
It was a night of long knives, horse trading , compromise and final elections which saw Chief Nnia defeating a renowned Professor in a landslide victory to become the President-General of Ohaneze.
Chief Nwodo has been vocal in pushing against the deprivations and marginalization from the 1970s and the maze of problems confronting the Igbo within the polity of Nigeria since 1999 and currently under President Buhari in 2017.
He has proven to be a leader with grit; someone who has the heart of a bull, intellect, courage, industry and acceptability; a leader who will seek solutions to the harsh evidences of marginalization of the Igbo and the old East in all Federal appointments, agencies and parastatals.
Who can challenge and speak out without fear or favour against the domineering policy. Who will challenge oligarchy. Who would look the mafia whether in Kaduna or Abuja in the face and say enough is enough. The alleged wanton killings of innocent Igbos by Federal security agencies, during peaceful protests aggitating for their rights as covered by the Geneva United Nations Rights of protests and demonstrations, should no longer go unpunished and must be made a criminal case of murder and genocide before world bodies and their aliases.
The horror and the consequences of abandoned Federal roads in the east that have become death traps sending hundreds of Igbos and other road users to their untimely death. Must Igbo land continue to quiver and remain cowed because it bravely fought a civil war decades ago to defend its people from total annihilation. If we keep capitulating , what future holds out for our children and generation yet unborn.
How do we meaningfully engage other Federating blocs in peaceful and positive dialogue to resolve the myriad of contentious issues and now is time to get cracking. For so long have we been deceived with white elephant projects – the ever tale talk on building second Niger Bridge including several eye-popping gigantic projects that have remained on the drawing board for ages.
The Igbo needed a man of Nnia Nwodo’s stature that commands respect, universally and has friends cutting across ethnic groups and religious divide of the country. A man who then at University of Ibadan trounced other students including Yorubas ‘sons of the soil’ to emerge President of the Students Union. Worthy of note that Nnia since assuming leadership of Ohaneze has begun the bark and bite — to give the Igbo a stronger voice.
Suffice it to say we must not only concentrate in asking and demanding for our rights, but adopt a policy of looking inwards to develop Igbo land. In looking inwards, there is the urgent need to establish an all purpose Igbo Village, east of the Niger, which would be all encompassing; developing and showcasing the best of the Igbo in science, information technology, tradesmen and artisans, iron and metalic craftsmen, music, sports, literature, agriculture and other areas. The potentials are better imagined. The Igbo should partner with more overseas investors to turn Igbo land to prime investment havens and tourist centres in West Africa.
Goods and materials from the Igbo villages would find ready markets in Europe, America, Canada, Asia and the Far East including Africa, thus earning for our people the much sought after foreign currencies.
A people endowed by nature with muscular energy and knowledge of industry, self reliance and never say die spirit cannot continue to play second fiddle nay second hand citizens. No never! One can say without any fear of contradiction that Igbo businessmen and women worldwide remain one of Nigeria’s treasure base in terms of individual wealth made genuinely through dint of hard work. All they need is a man they can trust and the rest will be history. There must be a synergy with our multi billionaires to begin to show more interest back home. Of course, a transparent and well focused Ohaneze should be able to attract the best of our intelligentsia overseas, doctors and paramedics, engineers, educationists and industrialists to return home and develop Iboland urgently.
It would thereafter checkmate our chaps who run helter skelter after moving cars to sell their wares on the streets of Lagos and Abuja under severe risks of being arrested or being knocked down by vehicles.
The challenge therefore is enormous . The Ohaneze mantle on Nnia could be optimized. My reminiscences record same Nnia Nwodo, Ike Ukehe, as having told this writer about the motto of the British Security agency, approximately, that “Only those who dare, win.” This motto has inspired the Ohaneze leader, all along. The stake is so high. So if you dare, you win. A food for thought for all Igbo east of the Niger, Delta, Rivers and the Diaspora.
By CHIDO NWANGWU USAfricaonline.com @Chido247 @USAfricaLIVE
Since April 25, 2017, millions of Nigerians, international security and diplomatic monitors of Nigeria have been witnessing two contrasting images of the country of an estimated 170 million. One image is that of President Muhammadu Buhari. The other is the controversial profile of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) movement. Ironically, Buhari’s government detention and refusal to respect lawful orders of the courts for almost two years regarding the release or granting of bail escalated Kanu’s profile, globally. It sharpened the contrast with implications.
First, it sent a historic reminder to all students of history and power that demands for equity/fairness in Nigeria’s geo-politics and nationalities questions cannot be swept aside as the high-noon rantings of a few, misguided chaps possessed and jaundiced by youthful impetuosity! Such snotty, condescending nonsense and arrogance have combined to show the evident limitations of some of Nigeria’s leaders at the state and federal levels.
Second, since January 19, 2017, when Nigeria’s President Buhari began his “medical vacation” to London, we’ve all seen the images of a very ill and absent commander-in-chief; plus increasing talk about the likelihood of his quitting due to his complicated, frail health. Essentially, those images fit the current shape of the country’s weakening political economy. Like my made-in-Aba suits and trousers, they fit perfectly.
Third, the dominant message seems to me to be the escalating demands against Nigeria’s 1914 colonial borders as imposed and implemented under The Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern regions by the British soldier of raw materials and minerals named Lord Lugard. I hear the familiar demands approximating the historical agreement at Aburi in Ghana, as reflected in the official minutes, dated January 4-5, 1967. I hear the cries of some young men and young women whose siblings and parents were murdered in the routine killing and genocidal slaughter of the Igbo and the ethnic groups/communities who constituted Biafra. I hear a demand on all those who profit from the militarized impositions of a perpetual, non-negotiable “national unity” since 1960s to date, circa 2017. It seems to me a demand against domestic agents and foreign corporations whose actions have turned the once evergreen Niger Delta into a decimated, polluted environmental nightmare. I hear a demand for economic security and against 10 years of unemployment after graduation. I hear, loud and clear, a stand against discrimination in admissions and employment. I hear….
Fourth, many of the older generation Igbo who fought in and for Biafra caution the youth against pushing for another Biafra, even with the peaceful agitation. For all that it is worth, we note that Nnamdi Kanu was born after that war. It is the dominant demographics and a benchmark to appreciate/understand/critique the younger generation’s interpretation of Biafra and trans-continental agitation for Biafra.
Fifth, Kanu-led IPOB and its affiliates distribute information and mobilize across more cities in the world more than any other Nigerian or African organization. USAfrica news index January 2014-April 2017 also show that the Pope Francis, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, U.S President Donald Trump know, the British Prime Minister Theresa May, and many world leaders are, at least, aware of their activism and agenda.
Sixth, without a doubt, there are aspects of the new Biafra movement which reflect a certain level of operational and tactical recklessness. On the other hand, the non-dramatic fluency with which they sorted and settled — within 30 hours– the harsh reality of the mountain high jump, stringent and extremely difficult to meet conditions ordered on April 25, 2017 as required bail terms for the temporary release of the leader of the IPOB, by the Federal High Court Justice Binta Nyako, a wife of a former top military officer and governor, showed the credibility and clout of IPOB . She required Kanu to provide three sureties; one of whom must be a serving Senator in Nigeria, a Jewish religious leader and highly resp
USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu,
ected person, who own land anywhere in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The bail bond was set at N100 million, for each surety. Kanu was also ordered not to grant any interviews to the media/press, pending the outcome of his trial and should not be seen in a meeting/gathering of more than 10 persons.
Finally, what would Ojukwu (the Head of State of Biafra) have said about these events? I interviewed him 3 times; one at his house in Lagos and twice in the U.S. One thing is certain: the ideological children and grandchildren of Odumegwu Ojukwu, of Chinua Achebe, o
f Gen. Effiong, of Christopher Okigbo, of Wole Soyinka have kept a message of national identity, unapologetic zeal and unbowed resilience regarding the 1967-1970 war. Especially, those who swear “citizenship” under the golden yellow colors of the Land of the Rising Sun! Biafra.
*Dr. Chido Nwangwu who appears as an analyst on CNN and SKYnews serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992. He is the author of the soon-to-released book, Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness. @Chidö247 .
Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma [has] won the backing of the ruling ANC party, which rejected calls for him to resign over a controversial cabinet reshuffle.The African National Congress acknowledged growing calls for Zuma to step down, admitting to “serious and difficult disagreement” over the president’s sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan last week.
Zuma could either be ousted by the ANC recalling him, or a vote of no confidence in parliament that has been scheduled for April 18.
The party retains a large majority in parliament, and Zuma has easily survived previous confidence votes.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told reporters Wednesday that although the party had “reflected” on the resignation demands, “we won’t recall President Jacob Zuma because opposition parties say so. It won’t work that way.”
Zuma has been under fire for several days — including from within his own camp — after dismissing Gordhan, a decision that caused the rand currency to plummet.
Gordhan’s removal triggered unprecedented criticism from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as well as the party’s chief whip, its treasurer and several ANC allies.
Ramaphosa, who could succeed Zuma, described it as “totally unacceptable”.
South Africa’s powerful trade union federation Cosatu this week joined many anti-apartheid veterans, business leaders and civil action groups calling for Zuma to step down.
Mantashe — who was among those who had hit out at Zuma in recent days — blamed Gordhan’s sacking on “the irretrievable breakdown” in relations with the president.
Gordhan was at loggerheads with Zuma for months, receiving support from several ministers and major foreign investors, as well as many ordinary South Africans.
“The (party) has emphasised the need for unity of the ANC and the alliance in the interests of South Africa,” Mantashe said.
Gordhan had campaigned for budget discipline and against corruption, but Zuma’s allies accused him of thwarting the president’s desire to enact radical policies to tackle racial inequality.
Gordhan’s sacking contributed to a credit ratings downgrade to junk status on Monday by Standard & Poor’s, further fuelling calls for Zuma to step down.
The president has defended his change at the Treasury, saying that the government’s financial policies remained the same.
S&P said the cut to below investment grade reflected “heightened political and institutional uncertainties” following the purge of Gordhan and other critical ministers.
With the cabinet overhaul exposing deep divisions within the ANC, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party hopes to benefit at general elections in 2019.
“No army anywhere in the world will subject their footsoldiers to be commanded by an enemy general,” Mantashe said in relation to the no confidence vote.
Peter Attard Montalto, analyst at Nomura bank, said in a briefing note that Zuma was “a master tactician who can play the internal machinations of the ANC much better than anyone else.”
The president has been accused of being in the sway of the wealthy Gupta business family, allegedly granting them influence over government appointments, contracts and state-owned businesses.
Since coming to power in 2009, Zuma has been hit by a series of corruption scandals, while the ANC suffered its worst ever results in local polls last year.
He is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, ahead of the 2019 general election.
The president is seen as favouring his ex-wife, former African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him — rather than Ramaphosa.
The World Bank plans to inject $57b into Africa Financing package spread next three years; includes $45b from International Development Association.
Special to USAfricaonline.com @USAfricaLive @Chido247
Washington DC: The World Bank has announced $57 billion in financing for sub-Saharan Africa over the next three fiscal years.
Of that total, $45 billion will come from the International Development Association, the World Bank fund that provides grants and interest-free loans for the world’s poorest countries.
The package will also feature an estimated $8 billion in private sector investments from the International Finance Corporation, a private-sector branch of World Bank, and $4 billion will come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the bank’s unit for middle-income nations, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
Germany, which hosted a meeting of the G20 countries Friday and Saturday, said that a partnership called “Compact with Africa” would be a priority of its presidency this year of that club of powerful nations. Of all the countries in Africa, only South Africa is a G20 member.
“This represents an unprecedented opportunity to change the development trajectory of the countries in the region,” Kim said.
“With this commitment, we will work with our clients to substantially expand programs in education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate, infrastructure and institutional reform,” he added.
Kim left for Rwanda and Tanzania on Sunday in a show of World Bank support for the entire region.
The new financing from the International Development Association will target 448 projects that are already underway in sub-Saharan Africa. The region accounts for more than half of the countries eligible for this kind of financing from the IDA, the bank said.
USAfrica: Prof. Wole Soyinka writes a tribute to Derek Walcott, noting the late writer and recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature lamented Caribbean, African cycle of brutal misrule of dictators
Special to USAfricaonline.com @USAfricaLive
Derek Walcott was the lyrical heart of the Caribbean, yet wide and profound as the sea that washed his island shores. I visited him at his home, envied his splendid isolation and affinity with the sea. He had a small eyrie where he shut out the world, wrote and painted the crags and iconic promontories that jutted out of the waters, seeming to duplicate his lone splendor amidst the restless sea.
We have sailed and picnicked together through the stunning grottos that lie hidden in the Caribbean. He railed and lamented with us under our recurrent cycle of brutal and incontinent misrule of dictators, joined in activities against our seeming curse.
Not many people know this, his constant bewilderment at the irony of replication of Master-Slave relationship that took his ancestors to the Caribbean, now mimicked by black overlords. Yet he never lost his interior call of the universal, and of history, as captured so magisterially in his grand oeuvre, Omeros. Derek was one of the history driven lyrical kind.
It is no partisan or excess zeal that prompts me, at every opportunity, to claim Derek Walcott as one of the greatest poets, in any language or culture, of the twentieth century. Derek had a great feel for Nature and History, within whose matrix he so lyrically situated and wove his island tapestry. A mordant wit, even sometimes prankster, Derek was unpretentiously an
Prof. Wole Soyinka
aristocrat of letters. His Muse was the sea, but he celebrated his continent of ancestry, Africa, as his rightful bequest, without sentiment, and without blindness
The sadness of parochial literacy on this vast continent comes from the presumption that affinity between writers and their works must be found and expressed in the narrowness of geographic neighborliness.
Those who wish to speak knowledgeably of the reaches of African Literature, should learn to look beyond saline waters, and dialogue with the spirit of Derek Walcott. He is alive, remains alive, and keeps the universal lure of literature alive.