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USAfrica: Danjuma’s amnesia and toxic advocacy for anarchy. By Chidi Amuta

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Danjuma’s amnesia and toxic advocacy for anarchy.

By Dr. Chidi Amuta

Special to USAfricaonline.com

Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, retired army General and former minister of defense, stands out in glowing notoriety on the scale of anti-heroes produced by Nigeria’s history of violent disruptions.

Endlessly rewarded by all regimes since after his 1966 bloody emergence as military supremo and poster coupist, he has also emerged as easily one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, mostly for reasons other than his industry, corporate ingenuity or even plain hard work. On account of his long-standing presence in power circles, Danjuma has managed to anticipate some audience whenever Nigerians are pressed by bad governance to desperately seek an alarmist town crier. We are clearly at one such moment once again.

Therefore, Danjuma’s latest outburst on the sad security situation in the nation falls into a familiar pattern. For a veteran coup maker, the exploitation of public disaffection to align with the general drift of public opinion is a familiar gimmick. But this time, while Danjuma’s outburst on the epidemic of killer gangs virtually all over the country may be in tune with our collective pain and anger, it ricochets with loud echoes of Thomas Hobbes’s picture of anarchy when the state is absent.

Nigerians are united in their concern about the rampaging impunity and uncontrolled audacity of murderous Killer gangs and herdsmen all over the country. We are all worried that a band of armed bandits under the guise of either cattle herding or sectarian zealotry have been allowed to terrorize the entire nation and in the process make nonsense of an overstretched and disorganized security apparatus.

Those with any sense of history cannot but sleep with one eye open as tragic insecurity engulfs the northern half of the country with unfamiliar trends: cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, Janjaweed like scorched earth attacks that raze whole towns and villages with industrial scale casualty figures.

Ordinarily, President Buhari is not my kettle of tea. Characteristically, the President has displayed a less than keen interest in ending the menace of these killer gangs while in the process allowing all manner of tales to spiral around the crisis. Similarly, both the military and the police have repeatedly proved impotent on the matter of containing killer herdsmen and other casual killer squads, again tempting all manner of unsavoury conclusions. This situation has not been made any better by the uneducated utterances of high government officials like Buhari’s Defence and Information Ministers and even the chief of police, respectively.

There is, of course, no justification for the apparent tacit support, which all manner of killer gangs seem to be enjoying under President Buhari. This conclusion is above the politics of the moment. No definition of partisanship can outsource these killings to an opposition party. The failure to take absolute responsibility for the security of the lives of every Nigerian can only be ascribed to one factor: crass incompetence and lack of executive decisiveness. No previous administration has presided over such a massive decimation of Nigerians in peacetime.

While these concessions remain valid, Mr. Danjuma’s choice of venue to cry out about the Taraba chapter of the new national killing sport – a university in his home state- does not quite fit into his erstwhile branding as a national elder statesman. The industrial scale sporadic killings of innocent citizens that has become the identity badge of the Buhari presidency is not localized to Taraba or Danjuma’s Jukun ethnicity. Nor are they geopolitically skewed in any way. Anambra, Abia, Delta, Ekiti, Benue, Nasarawa , Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano states have all been theatres in an ever expanding national killing field featuring killer herdsmen and other migrants and vagrants .

If indeed Mr. Danjuma is concerned about the abuse of the military and its use to aid and abet violations of people’s rights, why is he just waking up now? If Mr. Danjuma wanted to atone for his murky past and acquire a national voice, where was he when the same military over which he had previously presided repeatedly (according to Amnesty International and most local observer groups) committed the mass killings of unarmed IPOB and MASSOB sympathizers in Onitsha and other parts of the South East?

Maybe it is also part of the attributes of men of immense power and wealth to develop amnesia even on matters that they themselves presided over. Maybe I was the Defence Minister under whose watch the little town of Odi in Bayelsa state was reduced to rubble. I was probably the Minister of Defence when Zaki Biam in Benue State was similarly flattened by tanks and armoured vehicles.

Danjuma is a privileged citizen who has full unfettered access to the president. I have lost count of how many presidential advisory committees he is chairing under the Buhari presidency. There is no indication that Mr. Danjuma has tried and failed to get a presidential audience to air his views to Mr. Buhari on these and other matters. I guess it is easier and more convenient to seek audience to canvass yet another oil bloc than to proffer suggestions on how to improve the state of our national security. Since Danjuma was playing to the gallery, he could have gone the whole hog by openly canvassing suggestions on which the public can engage the government in search of ways to improve a bad situation.

While the idealism and fire of youth can tempt those angry with government to scream at high pitch, the wisdom of age dictates that elders do not rouse the rabble or pull down the homestead. Danjuma’s statement may fit into his definition of freedom of speech. But it steps overboard into the realm of irresponsible utterance and even treasonable incitement.

The full implication of Danjuma’s call for self help in matters of self-defense by citizens goes beyond his immediate constituency. It is a toxic epistle on political philosophy of a most decadent variety. This dangerous epistle is addressed to all Nigerians who today feel increasingly exposed and vulnerable to these marauding killer gangs. It is simply a call to arms against fellow Nigerians and a tacit defiance of the state and its security apparatus. It announces and inaugurates the onset of a state of nature, a land of everyman to himself and God for all of us.

If we were to revert to a state of nature, the armed masses in defiance of the state would be out in the streets machetes, Dane guns, bows and arrows, clubs, cudgels and all. Even a dysfunctional state with the weakest semblance of law and order and a monopoly of the instruments of violence is still our best guarantee for the protection and defense of our residual freedoms, holdings and rights. Our challenge is to make the state work through the periodic regime changes that democracy guarantees.

But in the nightmare universe of Danjuma’s toxic advocacy, the strong will kill the weak except the weak come together in mutinous gangs and arm themselves for self-defense since the state, according to him, has failed.

For Danjuma, the state is failing, Nigerians should go back to a state of nature;  similar to what Thomas Hobbes described,

Chidi Amuta

a place where anarchy reigns and life is short, nasty and brutish. It was the fear of this descent into anarchy that prompted Thomas Hobbes to argue for the necessity of order under a sovereign authority: a leviathan.

Danjuma who owes his emergence, prominence, fame and fortune to anarchic decapitation of a sovereign wants a nation of anarchists.                                                                   •Dr. Amuta is Executive Editor of the USAfrica multimedia networks [since 1993] and USAfricaonline.com. He is based in Lagos, and is the author of several books.

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AFRICA

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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#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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USAfrica: Petition to rename street opposite Trump Tower the Barack Obama Avenue inches to target

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Evidently, “the thorny, combative paths of incumbent President Donald Trump and those of his immediate predecessor Barack Obama will not only cross but may, soon, permanently face each other”, writes USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu, a few minutes ago Saturday January 5, 2019.

This is as thousands of people continue to sign a new petition to rename part of New York City’s Fifth Avenue after former President Obama.

MLKmandelaachebe.com 

The coordinators of the popular online petition, which has more than 12,414 signatures (as at this Saturday morning), states “We need 15,000” for the renaming of the block between 56th and 57th Streets in Manhattan “President Barack H. Obama Avenue.”

They referenced a recent renaming of a stretch of highway in downtown Los Angeles after Obama, the 44th U.S. president.

“We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president who saved our nation from the Great Recession, achieved too many other accomplishments to list, and whose two terms in office were completely scandal free.”

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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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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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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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