Buhari says Nigerians have image problem abroad

Reuters

Nigerians have image problem abroad, hampers emigration to West: president

 

LONDON Nigerians have an image problem abroad which makes it difficult to emigrate to the West, but they can stay at home where their services are needed, President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying by a British newspaper on Saturday.

A former army ruler from the 1980s who returned to power as a civilian after winning an election in March last year, Buhari has the image of an ascetic disciplinarian keen to tackle his country’s persistent problems with crime and corruption.

“Some Nigerians’ claim is that life is too difficult back home,” he was quoted as telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“But they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons around the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking,” he said.

This is a contrast to some other Nigerian politicians, who often argue that their countrymen are unfairly victimized in foreign countries.

“I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home, where their services are required to rebuild the country,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

The newspaper said Buhari thought a minority of his countrymen could do with improving their behavior.

“We have an image problem abroad and we are on our way to salvage that,” he said.

Buhari first came to power when he led a military coup in 1983, ousting an elected government.

He ruled for 18 months, during which he imprisoned journalists and opposition activists without trial, executed drug traffickers by firing squad and ordered soldiers to thrash those who failed to queue in an orderly fashion at bus stops.

Buhari was himself ousted in the next military coup.

In the years following Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999, he reinvented himself as a democrat, culminating in his victory against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in last year’s presidential election.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

South Africa – Zuma seeking business CEOs’ advice t avoid junk status

 Mail and Guardian

The president will reportedly look to patch up ties with business leaders on Tuesday – just two days before the State of the Nation address.


With South Africa at risk of falling into recession and having its credit-rating downgraded to junk, President Jacob Zuma is trying to patch up ties with business leaders and seeking their advice on ways to shore up the economy.

Zuma (73) will hold a meeting with business leaders on Tuesday, two days before he delivers his annual State of the Nation address. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan held unprecedented talks with about 60 chief executive officers on January 29 to discuss how to boost investor sentiment and canvass their views before his February 24 budget address.

Business leaders have repeatedly accused the government of implementing inappropriate policies and undermining private industry. Disgruntlement with Zuma’s management of Africa’s most-industrialised economy peaked in December when he shocked investors by firing the finance minister and appointing a little-known MP in his place. When the rand and bonds dived he was forced to backtrack and appoint Gordhan to the post that he held from 2009 to 2014.

Build reputation
Zuma “needs to be told that it takes a long time to build a reputation for good business and it only takes minutes to destroy it,” said Piet Viljoen, chairperson of Regarding Capital Management, which oversees about R8-billion. “Unfortunately, we have destroyed our own reputation. We need to rebuild it through consistent application of policy.”

South Africa was judged the 49th most favorable place to do business out of 140 countries ranked in the Geneva-based World Economic Forum’s 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Report, but its government regulation was ranked the 117th most conducive to carrying out commerce.

“Business is not the enemy, it’s part of the solution,” Gareth Ackerman, the chairman of Pick n Pay Stores, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It is business that creates the jobs, maintains government’s ability to pay for social services and keeps the economy alive.”

Growth slows
On February 2, the World Bank cut the nation’s growth forecast for this year to 0.8% and warned the economy was “flirting with stagnation, if not recession.” Two days later, Moody’s Investors Service said state debt could climb to more than 50% of gross domestic product for the first time in more than a decade as tax revenue slows.

In December Moody’s cut the outlook on South Africa’s Baa2 credit rating, the second-lowest investment grade, to negative. Standard & Poor’s, which puts the nation’s debt one level below Moody’s, also changed its outlook to negative, indicating a possible downgrade to junk. The rand strengthened 0.3% to R15.9802 a dollar by 8.09am in Johannesburg, paring losses over the past 12 months to 28%.

“Bold actions are expected from government to grow the economy inclusively and avert the possibility of a credit- ratings downgrade,” the ANC’s national executive committee said in a January 27 statement. “We must engender consensus between all key stakeholders to help stabilise the economy, save jobs and restore fiscal sustainability and credibility.”

Business confidence
Gordhan will spell out details of the government’s programme in his budget speech. Zuma told provincial leaders his administration plans to make deep cuts to budget allocations, necessitating spending curbs on personnel and infrastructure, Helen Zille, the premier of the Western Cape Province and member of the Democratic Alliance, said in a newsletter published on February 3.

Zuma’s overture to business is the first step toward getting the economy back on track, according to Isaac Matshego, an economist at Nedbank.

“It’s time that government and business started working closer together,” he said. “It has been postponed for far too long. It seems like business has a bit more confidence in government than it had before the meeting with the finance minister last week.”

The government must be seen to be taking credible, feasible and consistent action to revive growth because “just having a nice chat with business” won’t be enough to restore business and investor confidence, said Richard Downing, an economist at the South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Business needs to shoulder part of the blame from South Africa’s malaise because it has failed to clearly articulate its views and concerns, said Ackerman, who is also co-chairperson of the Consumer Goods Council.

“The reach-out from the president’s office is a good sign,” he said. “We hope this will be the start of an ongoing dialogue, not a one-off engagement.” – Bloomberg

South Africa – Free State farms devastated by drought

Al Jazeera

Farmers in the Free State province say dry spells are common but current drought is unprecedented.

Fahmida Miller 

Senekal, South Africa – It is being described as the worst drought to have hit South Africa in 20 years.

Five out of the country’s nine provinces have been declared disaster zones as dry conditions triggered by the El Nino weather pattern continue to devastate the country.

Borrie Erasmus, a farmer whose family has worked and lived on the same land in the Free State province for the past five decades, told Al Jazeera he had not seen anything like it.

“On our farm, there has never been a time that there has not been any maize in December. We could not even try planting seeds. It has been drier than ever,” Erasmus said.

The drought is costing South African farmers more than an estimated $600m in lost crops. While the government says it will be spending $19m on assisting farmers, it also suggested that farmers should start adapting to changing weather patterns.


“We can’t continue relying only on dry agriculture,” Senzeni Zokwana, South Africa’s minister of agriculture, told Al Jazeera.

“We need to put more funding so that we can build our capacity to put most of our production on irrigation which will mean new dams, which will mean new infrastructure.”

Al Jazeera weather presenter Richard Angwin says El Nino, which strictly refers to the surface warming of the eastern and central Pacific Basin, has had a knock-on effect across much of the world.

This phenomenon was particularly strong in 2015.

On Sunday, Bheki Cele, South Africa’s deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries told the Reuters news agency the drought was still not a national disaster.

“As we are experiencing this kind of drought, for some reason God has been kind and late rains did come, and we think the six million tonnes (of maize) we were looking to import – we have downgraded that to four,” he said.

“The only hope is that rains continue – if they do we might be out of the woods,” Cele said, adding: “We will not declare a national disaster.”

Source: Al Jazeera And Reuters

Kenya – Jubilee supporters disrupt Raila CORD rally

Star (Kenya)

 

KARIBU: Malindi ODM Canidate Willy Mtengo (centre) greets supporters on arrival at a rally in Kwa Chocha, Shella wward, on Friday .

JUBILEE supporters in Malindi yesterday jammed a venue where Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula were due to address a rally in support of Willy Mtengo.

More than 100 youths held demonstrations in the Msabaha area of Malindi, protesting against the Cord principals.

The incident happened ahead of today’s ceremonies where the IEBC is due to clear all those vying for the seat.

Political temperatures are high in the constituency as it is exactly one month before the by- election on Monday March 7 to replace Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu in the seat.

Raila, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula are expected to lead thousands of Cord supporters to escort Mtengo to present his nomination papers at the IEBC offices opposite the Malindi law courts.

Mtengo will be the first to present his nomination papers this morning, between 8.30am and 10am, followed by Jubilee candidate Phillip Charo.

Charo will be flanked by over 13 Coast MPs, led by Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Gideon Mung’aro.

Other candidates expected to present their nomination papers are Reuben Mwamure (Kadu Asili), Peter Ponda (Chama Cha Uzalendo), Ahmed Mohamed (Agenda Party) and Yusuf Abubakar (Federal Party).

Official campaigns are expected to start today and the battle is expected to be between Jubilee and ODM.

Since the Malindi seat was declared vacant the constituency has been a hive of activity and has hosted top leaders, including President Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta camped in Malindi for three days and now the Cord principals will be in town for several days to drum up support for their candidate.

The results of the March 7 by-election will be a big test for both Cord and Jubilee ahead of the 2017 General Election.

It will also be a double test for Mung’aro as he would want to prove his ability to be the Coast kingpin, a contest be between him and Governor Hassan Joho and at the same time prove that he could well beat Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi in the gubernatorial race.

The youths who jammed Raila’s venue sang songs praising JAP and the Jubilee administration for their development record and vowed not to welcome the Cord principals at a rally scheduled to take place at Msabaha.

Earlier, Jubilee leaders had vowed to prove to Raila that the town was not an ODM zone.

South Africa won’t declare emergency over drought

Reuters

A maize plant is seen among other dried maize at a field in Hoopstad, a maize-producing district in the Free State province, South Africa, January 13, 2016.
REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

South Africa will not declare a national disaster in response to its worst drought in a century as it hopes ample late rains will continue to improve the situation, deputy minister of agriculture Bheki Cele said on Sunday.

“For some reason God has been kind and late rains did come, and we think the 6 million tonnes (of maize) we were looking to import – we have downgraded that to four,” he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

The country’s largest grain producer group Grain SA called on the government last week to declare a national disaster – a move that would release emergency relief funds from the National Treasury to eligible farmers.

Cele said out of South Africa’s nine provinces, seven had already declared a disaster but a nationwide declaration was not currently warranted.

“The only hope is that rains continue – if they do we might be out of the woods … We will not declare a national disaster” said Cele.

Cele argued support had already been granted to a lot of farmers and more was on the way.

WHITE AND YELLOW MAIZE

Some complaints were raised by commercial farms as most of the assistance had gone to smaller scale farmers, he acknowledged.

“If you lose 36 cattle and go from that to zero that is one thing but if you have 4,000 cattle losing 36 well yes you have lost but we have to start with the small guy,” he said.

Cele also said the ministry was assessing the availability of white maize imports from Mexico to fill domestic food demand. “I think the availability of white maize is the main issue. We will have money to import it, that is not a problem, but the problem is the availability.”

In South Africa, white maize is made into what is known locally known as “pap”, the main source of calories for many households. The yellow variety is used almost exclusively as animal feed.

Outside southern Africa, white maize is grown in significant quantities only in Mexico and the United States.

“The Americans (U.S.) have also tried to avail themselves but the issue is understanding their crop stocks and how much of it is genetically modified,” said Cele, whose ministry also covers forestry and fisheries.

South Africa has stringent codes governing genetically modified crops.

The country has in the past sometimes mixed yellow and white maize for human consumption, but Cele said that if enough white maize could be obtained in the global market, this would not happen.

“At the present moment we could see an opportunity for avoiding that,” he said.

South Africa’s ports are fully prepared to receive maize imports, Cele added.

“The only snag we are working on now would be the actual distribution from the storage but arrival and storage are all sorted, just the actual movement between that storage and human consumption is what we are working on.”

(Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Andrew Torchia; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Uganda – Museveni and key election issues

East African

10 key issues where Uganda election will be won or lost going by recent trends

This election is President Yoweri Museveni’s to lose. But with recent opinion polls showing Dr Kizza Besigye gaining ground, we explore some of the issues that will determine the outcome. PHOTOS | FILE

By DANIEL K. KALINAKI

Posted  Sunday, February 7  2016 at  10:15

IN SUMMARY

The February 18 election in Uganda is President Yoweri Museveni’s to lose as he seeks to extend his 30-year stay in office, but with recent opinion polls showing his main rival Dr Kizza Besigye gaining ground, we explore some of the key issues that will determine the outcome.

  • Voter turnout: This will determine not just who wins election, but also the legitimacy of the government.
  • Demographics: Whoever can get the young people on their side will gain a serious advantage.
  • Voter blocs: None of the three leading contenders is able to win a solid geographic bloc.
  • Money: If poverty is the question then to many voters money is the answer.
  • Two horses and a pony: A late surge by Candidate Mbabazi could lead to a run-off.
  • Fear factor: Fear factor brought on by possibility of violence undermines voter turn-out.
  • Election mechanics: The credibility of the outcome will be determined by the process.
  • Campaign mechanics: Candidate Museveni has covered more ground than rivals, but it is what happens afterwards that matters.
  • Incumbency: Whatever the opposition promises, the NRM candidate can counter promise.
  • Viability of change: It is the proverbial choice between the devil you know and the angel you don’t.

The February 18 election in Uganda is President Yoweri Museveni’s to lose as he seeks to extend his 30-year stay in office, but with recent opinion polls showing his main rival Dr Kizza Besigye gaining ground, we explore some of the key issues that will determine the outcome.

Voter turnout

This is arguably the most important issue and the hardest to predict. According to the Electoral Commission, there are 15,277,196 Ugandans registered to vote. But while the number of eligible and registered voters has been rising in each of the last four elections (with the exception of 2006, of which we shall return), the number of people who bother to turn up and vote has been falling.

It peaked at 72.60 per cent in 1996, the first time Ugandans directly voted for their president, fell to 70.31 per cent in 2001, 69.19 per cent in 2006 and then plunged to 59.29 per cent in 2011.

Voter turnout determines not just the winner of the election but also the legitimacy of the government they form. Several studies of the past three elections in Uganda have shown a pattern of high turnout in areas where President Museveni enjoys support, and much lower turnout in opposition strongholds.

The cause is subject to interpretation and depending on who you ask, ranges from the incumbent’s better organisational competencies and ability to get out the vote, vote inflation in his strongholds and suppression in hostile areas, to apathy among opposition supporters. The effect, however, is less debatable; winning areas of high voter turnout with a large margin is key to electoral success and President Museveni has traditionally done a better job of rallying his base.

For instance, in 2011, 83 per cent of registered voters turned out in Kiruhura, Museveni’s home district in southwest Uganda and he dutifully swept up 94 per cent of the vote.  By comparison, Besigye won the vote-rich and opposition-leaning Kampala but just over one in two registered voters bothered to turn up meaning that the opposition candidate had a narrow margin of victory of less than 4,000 votes in the only district he won, and that he left more than half a million ballots on the table.

Of the 5.7 million who did not vote in 2011, just under two million were in the urban areas of Kampala and Wakiso, where the opposition is expected to be strong and have a lot of support.

This low turnout helped candidate Museveni coast to an easy victory with 68 per cent of the vote but it meant that he received fewer votes than the total — 5.7 million — that did not turn up to vote, leaving him, in effect, in charge of a minority government.

The advantage here remains with candidate Museveni. Incumbency makes it easier for the NRM candidate to canvass for support in the rural areas and to get out the vote. On the other hand, a survey in early December by polling firm Infotrak for the Daily Monitor newspaper which is published by Nation Media Group, found that those who said they did not intend to vote were 78 per cent urban, 55 per cent female, and 67 per cent aged 35 and below — a demographic that would be expected to lean towards the opposition.

Demographics

The demographic composition of voters matters beyond turnout on Election Day. With a median age of 15.7, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world and, adjusting for the low turnout in 2011, it is safe to argue that at least one in every two voters will be voting for the first time.

It explains why this campaign and the one before it has been youth-focused, with candidate Museveni recording a much acclaimed hip-hop track in 2011 and one last year that didn’t exactly make platinum, while pro-Besigye musicians have also recorded songs in his honour. This belies the seriousness of the youth issue.

With a youth unemployment rate anywhere between 24 per cent and 67 per cent, depending on which figures you look at, whoever can get the young people on their side will gain a serious advantage, argues Crispy Kaheru of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy, a grouping of local NGOs and civil society organisations.

“Many of them are registered to vote and they just need a reason [even as late as] February 17 to wake up the next day and go out and vote,” he says. “A lot of the campaign issues have converged around poverty and unemployment and it is the young people that are most affected by this so their voice will be key.”

Both Museveni and Besigye have tried to target the key rural demographic by holding rallies deep in the villages and with good reason — more than eight out of every 10 Ugandans live in a rural area and World Bank data lists it as the fifth most rural population in the world.

Mr Museveni has swept the rural vote in all past elections and has run the current campaign with messages targeting rural voters, including the divisive promise to import 18 million hand hoes which, despite being the bane of jokes by urban elites, is the kind of vote winning message among rural peasants.

Voter blocs

Five of the eight presidential candidates come from western Uganda, including the three leading contenders. With Besigye and former prime minister Amama Mbabazi coming from the same ethnic bloc, none of the challengers is able to bring a solid ethnic or geographic bloc behind them, giving the incumbent an advantage of nation-wide appeal, but also narrowing the target areas that rivals must win if they are to dislodge him.

About half of all votes up for grabs are in just four electoral regions: Kampala with 2.4 million; southwest with two million, Kiira (near eastern Uganda) with 1.5 million, and northern with 1.4 million. If you add the two other regions with more than a million votes, Elgon with 1.47 million and central south with 1.46 million, these six regions have 10.5 million votes, or two out of every three votes.

Candidate Museveni is traditionally strong in southwest and central south and should carry those easily, while he is also expected to maintain the gains that saw him win the north for the first time in 2011. The battlegrounds therefore will be in the urban Kampala region, the poor Kiira region and Elgon region, which titled towards the opposition in the last election.

The incumbent simply needs to hold his strongholds, maintain favour in the north and perform competitively in the rest of the regions. Besigye, the leading contender, has to win the urban Kampala decisively, ensure that Elgon crosses to his side, keep Teso from slipping back into ruling party hands, and perform competitively in western Uganda and greater Buganda where he has traditionally been a distant second.

Money

If poverty is the question then to many voters money is the answer. Several election observer reports noted the influence of money in determining the outcome of the 2011 election, ranging from delaying funding for social projects and programmes to the campaign period, to cash hand-outs to voters and spending on campaign events and materials.

Here the incumbent holds a decisive advantage. A recent report by Alliance for Election Campaign Finance Monitoring, a loose coalition of civil society activists advocating for increased transparency, revealed that Museveni spent Ush27 billion ($7.8 million) in November and December 2015, 12 times more than his two closest challengers combined.

FDC’s Besigye came third with a campaign spend of Ush976 million ($282,000) behind Mbabazi who spent Ush1.3 billion ($375,200) according to the report. Although presidential candidates are required by law to declare their campaign revenues and expenditures to the Electoral Commission, no report has been made public and this was the first public indicator of the cost of campaigning.

COMMENTARY | LYNCH: Whoever wins in February will face a huge bill
Beyond the obvious benefits of having a large cash kitty, such as the ability to run campaign advertisements and pay for other expenses, money, or the lack of it, could be behind Mbabazi’s faltering campaign, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Mbabazi came into the campaign with a long track record of holding powerful positions in government, a reputation for meticulous preparation, and reports of a large financial war chest. An official close to the Mbabazi presidential campaign who asked not to be identified in order to speak freely, told this newspaper that at one point there were “at least 8,900” candidates vying for different elective positions, “including 620 independent parliamentary candidates” who were waiting to join Mbabazi’s Go-Forward campaign and get funding for their campaigns.

When little or no money was forthcoming, many of these fence- sitters either returned to the NRM where they had lost party primaries in controversial circumstances, or decided to lobby together in a loose association of independents.

Uniquely, Besigye has been collecting money and gifts offered to him on the campaign trail, a reversal of roles in the commercialised state of Ugandan politics and far from being a symbolic sign of support, officials close to the campaign say the money goes a long way in buying fuel, food and providing for the volunteers.

There is anecdotal evidence of this gulf in resources, with social media full of pictures of NRM officials and candidates surrounded by piles of money, while those of Besigye show him receiving coins, chickens and other gifts. While the latter is clearly heart-warming, experience from 2011 and other elections shows it is cash, not love, than wins elections among poor voters.

Two horses and a pony

Partly as a result of the opportunism that surrounded the early promise around his candidature, and partly as a result of the intense pressure he and his close associates have come under from state institutions over the past 24 months, Mbabazi’s campaign has struggled to achieve take off, with all opinion polls so far putting him below double-digits.

“It is clear that Mbabazi planned to run as an NRM candidate, and not as an independent outside the support base and systems of the regime,” a Western diplomat told this newspaper, on condition of anonymity in order not to be sanctioned for commenting on domestic political matters.

In the early December 2015 Infotrak/Daily Monitor opinion poll, respondents were asked who they would vote for if candidate Mbabazi was not on the ballot. Just over half (54 per cent) said they’d vote for candidate Museveni while 35 per cent said they would vote for Besigye, suggesting that the former PM has taken some support from either candidate but has not done enough to build his own support base among voters.

“It was billed as a three-horse race,” the political analyst familiar with the Go Forward campaign told this newspaper, “but it has turned into two horses and an injured pony.”

Yet if the result is as tight as a recent opinion poll by Research World International suggests, with candidate Museveni dropping to 51 per cent and Besigye growing to 32 per cent, a late surge by candidate Mbabazi, who had his highest showing with 12 per cent, could drag the incumbent below the threshold required to win in the first round, or, were he to take support from Besigye, leave the opposition leader ruing the failed talks to front a joint opposition candidate in the race.

Fear factor

The current campaign has been characterised by tension, recruitment of militia by the police and opposition groups, as well as sporadic outbreaks of violence between rival supporters.

The conventional wisdom is that the fear factor brought on by the possibility of violence undermines voter turnout, which works in favour of the incumbent, but this is not always the case.

For instance, despite being generally peaceful, the 2011 elections had a lower turnout than both 2006 and 2001, which were both characterised by widespread election-related violence.

The heavy deployment of security officials in Luweero, central Uganda, during a parliamentary by-election in 2014 did not stop a large turnout of voters who voted in an opposition candidate in an area the NRM government claims as its spiritual home.

Nevertheless, the threat of violence and its impact on electoral choices cannot be ruled out. In the aftermath of attacks on opposition supporters last year, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued reports warning that the incidents were undermining the possibility of a free and fair election.

With the recent arrest of former intelligence co-ordinator Gen David Sejusa for attending opposition rallies and making partisan comments, and with army chief Gen Katumba Wamala making rare public comments on the elections, it remains to be seen what impact the atmosphere will have on voter turnout and electoral choice.

Election mechanics

When Norbert Mao turned up for nomination to run as a parliamentary candidate last year, he was told he was not a registered voter, despite running for president in 2011, governing the northern district of Gulu and being a two-term MP. It transpired that Mao had not registered for a national ID or updated his records in the voters’ register, which had then been retired in favour of a newer database.

It is not clear how many people share a similar fate but many are holding their breath over the mechanics of the process when voting day arrives. The Electoral Commission rolled out a biometric voter identification system with only a few weeks to the polls and is frantically trying to teach its officials how to use it. If all goes to plan, it should be able to catch voters trying to cast ballots more than once or in more than one location but if the system develops glitches, as happened in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere, it could spark confusion or worse.

At least 2.5 million new national IDs remain uncollected according to the NRM which has been urging its supporters to collect the pieces of plastic, and many voters still don’t know what they need to carry with them to the polling stations or where to go, for that matter.

“The credibility of the outcome will be determined by the process,” a Western donor, whose country is among those that have funded the Electoral Commission in a basket fund that was recently pulled due to procurement concerns, said. “So far it is clear that there are many things that could and should have been done better and one can only hope that we do not see the whole thing crumble on Election Day. The consequences could be dire.”

Candidate Museveni has covered more ground than any other candidate, and in no small measure due to the facilities of incumbency which, for instance, allow him to fly across the country in a helicopter while his rivals push their cars out of the mud or rattle along on poor rural roads.

As a result the incumbent has visited more districts and addressed more rallies than any other candidate, according to figures from the NRM campaign team, but it is what happens when a candidate moves on to the next district that might matter more.

Here, officials from both campaigns admit that Besigye’s campaign rallies have often been more animated, especially as he picks on very local grievances to criticise the government. One pollster, this newspaper was told, returned to a town in West Nile region and found that support for Besigye had grown by over 15 percentage points after he addressed a rally there. However, unlike the NRM candidate, the opposition leader often lacks the teams to follow up and maintain that support.

“Besigye is like an air force commander who carpet bombs a place into submitting to his message,” said a source who has worked closely with Besigye on previous campaigns, but is not working on the current one, told The EastAfrican. “However, without infantry to go in after the carpet bombing, he is unable to hold the territory” which often slips back into the hands of NRM when its grassroots mobilisers turn up to pick up the pieces.

Incumbency

Several researchers have documented the role of patronage and the power of incumbency in ensuring regime survival, and Uganda is no exception. In the run-up to the campaigns, the government agreed to increase the number of parliamentary constituencies and districts, a guaranteed vote winner.

In a paper analysing the 2011 election, Elliott Green, a development studies lecturer at the London School of Economics found that more voters in new districts and constituencies voted for candidate Museveni than the national average.

Similarly, in a campaign where one interchangeably wears the hat of candidate and incumbent, President Museveni has made policy pronouncements, from new road to rural electrification projects and promotions of police officers, which are bound to swing support in decisive areas.

Whatever the opposition promises, the NRM candidate can counter-promise and point to his track record. “Whatever they promise we can match,” a Cabinet minister told this newspaper. “The state is the state.”

Viability of change

Ugandans go to the polls to choose between a government they have known for 30 years, and one that promises a better future. It is the proverbial choice between the devil you know and the angel you don’t. For the opposition to stand a chance, enough Ugandans must be willing to risk whatever they have currently for a better future.

Unifying election?

Uganda is about to hold its most unifying General Election since independence 53 years ago. It is indeed wonderful to be alive this second month of 2016!

All previous elections have been so divisive that we have even gone to war over one. In December 1980, elections were disputed and immediately plunged the country into a civil war that lasted five years.

The next election was in 1996, the first after the new Constitution of 1995. Maybe the reason there wasn’t so much bitterness was that the runner-up was the same man of peace, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, who was cheated in 1980, and this time Yoweri Museveni defeated him convincingly.

In 2001, elections were held in an extremely bitter atmosphere as the broad-based movement that was in power under the no-party arrangement was riven by a split.

Dr Kizza Besigye walked out and challenged Museveni, his erstwhile boss. So acrimonious was the election that after challenging it unsuccessfully in court, Besigye was followed around like a criminal until he sneaked out of the country into exile.

But the defiant Besigye came back to the country in 2005, in readiness to stand in the 2006 elections. He was welcomed with a constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits, meaning that he was to face Museveni again. The 2006 poll was even more bitter than that of 2001, with Besigye being thrown into prison as a suspect on capital charges of treason and rape.

On nomination day, the electoral commissioners physically nominated his photo (which was placed on a chair) in defiance to the Attorney-General who had given his “legal” opinion that although Besigye was not guilty, he enjoyed a lesser degree of innocence than the other candidates. Besigye emerged number two and challenged the results in the Supreme Court, which ruled that well, some bad stuff had gone on but that that did not warrant overturning the results. Besigye declared that he would never again go to a Ugandan court over electoral matters.

Besigye stood again against Museveni in the 2011 election, which was followed by an unprecedented campaign of protest called the Walk-to-Work campaign; riots erupted in different towns, tear gas and live bullets were used. Then Besigye was sprayed with pepper and nearly blinded. On the day Museveni was sworn in, Besigye was returning from hospital in Nairobi and the road from the airport was swarming with his supporters, who even stoned the motorcade of a foreign head of state who had come to attend the inauguration. The Walk-to-Work disturbances continued for nearly two years.

But lucky are those who have lived long enough. We are now facing an election where there is an unprecedented unity of minds between the main camps, because all are talking the same language — and what they are saying is that there must be violence and rigging this time around.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Now, since the two strongest camps are united against rigging and violence, if any small party wants to get up to any hanky panky, they should be able to stop them in their tracks, right? In fact, I wish they would just arrest this person they suspect of plotting violence before election day so we can all enjoy some peace of mind.

Joachim Buwembo is a Knight International Fellow for development journalism.

 

Nigeria – education to be provided for 23,000 orphaned by Boko Haram

Premium Times

 

displaced persons

The Borno Government says it will offer nursery and primary school scholarships to 23,000 orphans taking refuge in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state.

Ahmed Satomi, the Chairman, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, disclosed this on Sunday in Maiduguri in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

Mr. Satomi said the gesture was aimed at catering for the education of the vulnerable children who did not have anybody to sponsor their education.

He said the orphans, who were unaccompanied children found in various Boko Haram liberated towns, would be engaged in meaningful activities that would make them forget their traumatic experience.

The SEMA official explained that the agency, in collaboration with other Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, was doing everything possible to cater for the welfare of the orphaned children.

“The children are all Boko Haram victims; some of their parents were killed while some of them had fled without any traces.

“We are doing what we can through our Child Protection Centre that offers training, counselling and other psychosocial support for the children.

 

“The Ministry for Women Affairs is helping us a lot in this regard.

“We also have NGOs like Save the Children, UNICEF, Red Cross, UNDP and WHO which are working round the clock to provide good healthcare services and other supports,” he said.

Mr. Satomi said SEMA had separate kitchen for children where good foods were prepared and served to them. He expressed the hope that the living parents of the unaccompanied children would soon be identified.

“With the recent mop-up exercise by the military and the liberation of IDPs from Cameroon, Dikwa, Gwoza and Bama, we are sure that some of the parents of these children would be identified,” he said.

Also, in Adamawa, Haruna Furo, the Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, said on Sunday that about 90 per cent of IDPS in the various camps in the state had returned home.

Mr. Furo, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Yola, said the affected persons were from seven local government areas of the state.

“Following recapturing of the areas and return of normalcy, about 90 per cent of the displaced persons in the camps have left.

“The displaced persons that remain in the camps are those whose villages are at the fringes of Sambisa, who felt it is still not safe to go back home,” Mr. Furo said.

Also an official of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in the state, Sa’ad Bello, said that the displaced persons that remained at the camps were those recently evacuated from Cameroon.

“With the return of peace in parts of the North East, many displaced persons have left the camps on their own; we assisted some of them with food and transport to go back home,” Mr. Bello said.

He said not more than 10,000 of the 30,000 affected persons were still at the camps, adding that most of them were from Borno.

Mr. Bello said some of the displaced persons were, however, staying with their relations and friends.

He said that NEMA in collaboration with the state government and other international organisations, have been working to put some basic things, such as hospitals and schools in place for the returnees.

“We are providing the returnees with little support, while resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected villages will be handled by the Presidential Committee,” Mr. Bello said.

 

The Adamawa House of Assembly had passed a bill establishing the State Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency.

The agency, to be funded by the state government, would reconstruct damaged facilities and residential houses in Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South, Maiha, Hong and Gombi.

The bill, sponsored by Hassan Barguma (APC-Hong) is aimed at alleviating the suffering of the affected communities.

 

Borno raid by Boko Haram

Suspected Boko Haram terrorists on Friday raided two villages, Mairi and Malari in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno, killing four persons and razing houses in the communities.

The attacks came barely one week after the Dalori incident in which some 100 persons were killed.

Some residents in Mairi told journalists that the attackers arrived the village on bicycles at about 8.30 p.m.

“The attackers came on bicycles and started shooting sporadically.

“The community was taken unaware as many people were relaxing after the late night Muslim prayers,” Baana Bukar, a resident said.

Bukar said the attackers set ablaze buildings as they ransacked the community.

He said, “We took to our heels to escape the attack.

“When we returned in the morning we discovered that four persons (three women and one man) had died.

“The women were roasted after their houses were set ablaze by the attackers but the man was shot dead with a gun during the attack.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,317 other followers