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Politics films debut at Sundance

Shortly before the first 2016 presidential nominating contest in Iowa on February 1, critics, reporters, political operatives and maybe even a few curious fans will cram into a movie theater in Park City, Utah. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival is…

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Shortly before the first 2016 presidential nominating contest in Iowa on February 1, critics, reporters, political operatives and maybe even a few curious fans will cram into a movie theater in Park City, Utah. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival is “Weiner,” a documentary about the former congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned following a 2011 sexting scandal, but reemerged as a candidate during a brief and calamitous run for mayor of New York City in 2013.


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AFRICA

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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NEWS

BrkNEWS: Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election

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Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidential election, according to provisional results announced by the country’s electoral commission.

“Having gained. .. 38.57 percent of the vote, Felix Tshisekedi is provisionally declared the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Corneille Nangaa, the head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI), said late on Wednesday.

The announcement came hours after riot police deployed at the commission’s headquarters in the capital, Kinshasa, amid fears of violence due to a disputed result.

Election observers reported a number of irregularities during the long-delayed December 30 vote and the opposition alleged it was marred by fraud.

The result could lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Losing candidates, who include businessperson Martin Fayulu and ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, can contest the results before the country’s constitutional court, which has 10 days to hear and rule on any challenges.

President Joseph Kabila is due to leave office this month after 18 years in power – and two years after the official end of his mandate. He backed Shadary, his former interior minister, in the election.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from outside the commission’s headquarters, said Tshisekedi’s supporters were taking to the streets to celebrate the result.

“The news came as a surprise,” she said. “A lot of people who didn’t have much faith in the electoral commission really thought that Shadary, who is backed by Kabila, would win.”

Tshisekedi, 55, is the son of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the face of the DRC’s opposition for decades.

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opinion

USAfrica: Alex Otti’s masterplan is better than Ikpeazu’s promises. By Sam Kanu

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USAfrica: Alex Otti's masterplan is better than Ikpeazu's promises. By Sam Kanu

By Sam Kanu, Ph.D., P.E.

Special & Exclusive commentary for USAfrica

One serene Sunday evening in October 2018, I had the privilege of attending Dr. Alex Otti’s presentation in Houston. It was a good mix of some of the senior members of the community and the young Abia professionals. I was in attendance to listen to his presentation as well as take assessment of his master plan.

Otti, a former bank executive and the APGA candidate for Abia State governorship, was introduced by USAfrica’s Founder Dr. Chido Nwangwu — with the vivid, opening words “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” He was quoting Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States to buttress his point that Otti prepared for his future…..

Otti spoke with commanding authority on issues concerning Abia State, and the prospects of his proposed government. If I was impressed by his presentation, I was overly excited with his plan. It’s content, value, vision and direction portrayed adequate rescue recipe for this fledgling state. I saw genuine passion in his eyes and I sensed a dire determination in him a wide, to set things in proper perspectives. “Abia State must be lucky”, a convinced voice filtered through from an immediate back row of my seat.

His argument was quite compelling as it was littered with facts pertaining to what his proposed government would accomplish, should he be voted into power in the next dispensation. Without equivocation, he noted that he would replace Ikpeazu’s inept and corrupt administration with a good and transparent governance; and particularly, prevail where Ikpeazu had failed. Ultimately, I came away from that event with a list of what this promising and articulate young man desires for Abia State.

  • He will create an enabling and conducive environment for un-interrupted commercial activities in the state by implementing a strategic and effective plan to drastically reduce armed robbery and kidnapping activities. He understands that security is the foundation upon which other facets of development depend and regrets that Aba has since lost its status as one of the main commercial nerve centers in Nigeria and other neighboring west African countries. He reaffirms his determination to restore this beleaguered city back to its glory, by reactivating lost businesses, partnerships, companies and industries.
  • He will go into partnership with Julius Berger Construction Company to reconstruct Aba roads and drainage systems to improve and allow access to all nooks and corners of Aba to revive commercial activities in this ancient marketing arena.
  • He will immediately put adequate solid waste management system in place to restore environmental sanitation at acceptable hygienic levels.
  • His administration will coordinate with relevant agencies and partners to restore steady power supply in the state.
  • His administration will reorganize the works ministry to rehabilitate rural access roads, and infrastructure, as well as waterline reticulation systems.
  • His plan will provide very attractive educational programs which specifically includes elaborate educational improvement programs for the youth to create opportunities for intellectual growth needed for future developments in the state.
  • His plan also accommodates improved health-care delivery systems which includes the establishment of well-equipped specialist hospitals in each of the three senatorial zones of the state. He will make all the dilapidated state owned general hospitals functional and hire well qualified doctors and health specialists to manage them.
  • He will ensure that salary and pension arrears are completely cleared while guaranteeing that employee salaries and pension benefits are paid on a regular and timely manner.

It is common knowledge, however, that during the past eight years the Abia State government has consistently recorded poor score cards in the management of the affairs of its citizens. The Ikpeazu government, and indeed the Theodore Orji administration before it has witnessed a drastic sense of retrogression in its ability to live up to its sworn obligations to the people. Concerns arising from gross insensitivity on the part of these successive governments have led to disappointments, and ultimately, the loss of faith by the people.

Undoubtedly Dr. Ikpeazu is a good man and I like him. However, something is fundamentally flawed in his administration and he does not seem to have a clue as to how this problem can be resolved.  Maybe for lack of the required relevant experience being that he was recruited into this very demanding position without experiential preambles or background; or maybe because of some mortgaged vested interests to which he is answerable. Whatever may be the case, his performance evaluation report leaves a lot to be desired.

The people’s future has been mortgaged and there has been no sense of economic growth or improvement following an entrenched cycle of corruption that has doggedly stalled all theaters of improvement and development in the state. Without a doubt, the out-break of ‘God-fatherism’, characterized by ineptitude and incompetence may be held responsible in part, for this systemic disorder.

Humanity, and indeed the good people of Abia State have witnessed hardship at such disproportionate levels that the eyes cannot tear upon it enough, neither can the present administration successfully wish the realities away. Salaries and pensions are not being paid and economic activities have been balked without any foreseeable plans at revitalization. To this extent, attending consequences of bad and incompetent governance have attracted poverty, environmental degradation, insecurity at embarrassing levels, infrastructural decay and deterioration, unemployment, unmotorable roadways, epileptic power supply, dilapidated schools, scotched commercial activities, decreased agricultural productivity, and jaundiced industrial activities. This highlighted sordid predicament becomes even more troubling when we note that over Sixty Billion Naira (N60,000,000.00) have been allocated to the state during the past four years. This does not include Fourteen Billion Naira (N14,000,000.00) of Bailout funds. The question that demands immediate answer is, “where these funds embezzled or misappropriated?” Whatever the response, the subject funds were not utilized for the purposes intended.

This is sad! But the good news is that this cycle of unaccountability and corrupt impunity will certainly cease with the advent of Alex Otti’s administration.

Enough is Enough. The time is now; and the time is ripe for the people to make a concerted effort to dismiss this government and put them out of power by a fair and majority vote. Lance Armstrong was correct on this premise when he noted that “there comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say: Enough is Enough”. This administration deserves expulsion and indictment.

If the elite group, youths and low-income population continue to remain aloof and affect indifference, or rather decide not to participate, we will be invariably endorsing political dominance by these professional politicians who have maintained arrogant posture in their insatiable quest for self-aggrandizement. Quite frankly, it will be unfair to mankind to relinquish our fundamental civic responsibility and watch a cohort of misguided power grabbers to place the economy of this state in perpetual ruin.

The time has come when the voice of the people shall be heard. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”. The current political dispensation presents a golden opportunity for Abians to wrestle power away from the ugly grips of this group of cabals and oppressors. The time is now for the people to re-assert their democratic will and authority by voting into power the only authentic candidate in this era – for the successful pursuit and realization of economic freedom for the people of Abia state, and Nigerians in that part of the country. The people of Abia are hereby called upon to get out of their shelves and rise to the occasion, as the situation calls for action. I mean real action without fear of any consequence. In any democratic world, power belongs to the people only when the people are brave enough to exercise and assert their civic right.  John F. Kennedy’s ideology agrees with this line of persuasion when he noted that, “there are risks and costs to action; but they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction”.

Dr. Alex Otti is a grilled technocrat with a plethora of evidence to show for it. Most importantly, he is self-sponsored and will not be cowered by any undue influences. His strategic plans to drastically improve Abia State in almost all spheres of human desirables and needs will veritably portray his record colossal achievements in Diamond bank as a child’s play.

Aggrieved youths in the diaspora and critics alike have reviewed his master plan with very favorable recommendations. A man with humble beginnings, character and tendencies which are super imposed upon immense cerebral advantages, exposure and experience, Dr. Alex Otti stands very tall as a unique solution for the troubling economic, social and infrastructural challenges that presently beset this embattled state. •Dr. Kanu is a registered Professional Environmental Engineer based in Houston, Texas

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AFRICA

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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CHIDO

Nigeria’s ex-President Shagari, overthrown by Buhari, is dead at 93

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Nigeria’s former president of Nigeria (1979-1983), Alhaji Shehu Shagari, has died at the the age of 93, his grandson Bello Shagari confirmed on Twitter, today Friday December 28, 2018:

“I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja.”

Shagari, elected sixth president under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), was overthrown in a military coup which imposed incumbent/current leader of Nigeria, then Brigadier-General Muhammadu Buhari, as a draconian dictator. By Chido Nwangwu @Chido247

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CHIDO

Exclusive: Court nullification of APGA Senate primary, Chidolue tells USAfrica it’s “a great day in Anambra against impunity.”

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The Senate seat for the Anambra State South zone took a new twist in the Abuja high court, earlier today. 
The billionaire businessman who bagged the All Progressives Grand Alliance ticket through the controversial primary elections, Nicholas Ukachukwu, has seen his electoral plans nullified, unless he secures a favorable appeal.

The court’s decision is in response to the lawsuit/pleadings to the court by one of the APGA candidates for the Senate seat, attorney OJ Chidolue (Oduma Nnewi, the 2nd).

In an exclusive chat with USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu, the plaintiff Dr. Chidolue called it “a great day for justice and democracy in Anambra against impunity. You already know my position remains that  everyone must follow the rule of law in order for us to have a better society. Also, this court, this judge reinforced my confidence in our judicial system.”

The Judge condemned what he assessed to be unethical conduct by the party leadership for giving Nicholas Ukachukwu the certificate of Return dated October 3, 2018 —which was the same day of the alleged controversial, violent and disputed  APGA primaries.
Chidolue,  former executive director of operations and regulatory services (south east – south south zone) of the Nigerian Ports Authority, is from a lineage of public service, successful businessman and a forensic accountant.*For the purposes of full disclosure, since 1994, attorney Chidolue has been a member of the editorial Advisory board of USAfrica The Newspaper and USAfricaonline.com

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