Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – military probes officers and politicians over coup scare

The Guardian (Lagos)/allAfrica

Abuja and Kaduna — The military has begun an investigation into an alleged coup plot by its personnel and some politicians.

Recently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai alerted the public to a suspicious relationship between some military personnel and politicians. The alarm has triggered anxiety over a plot by certain quarters to truncate the nation’s democracy.

At a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, alongside the directors of information units of the Nigerian Army, Air Force and Navy, declared that there was no truth in the rumour that some officers had planned a coup against the current administration.

Enenche said the military was committed to the sustenance of the current democracy and loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, and that any coup from any quarter would not have the backing of the armed forces.

The defence information director enjoined Nigerians not to be afraid of any coup, saying all levels of military commands were making troops to remain focused and be conscious of the oath of allegiance they took to protect the constitution of the country.

Although Enenche was evasive in confirming that a panel had been set up to probe the alleged coup plan, his response revealed the move.

“It was reported that some of our personnel have been exchanging visits for undisclosed political reasons. What I will tell you here is that we have set in, as it were for that particular case, an administrative machinery.

“It will not be good for us at this point to tell you something that may not be true and to retract it, it will not be healthy for the general public. Let us allow time and administrative procedures. When you talk about possible investigation, it takes some little time and I believe we are still within that little time. So, be patient,” Enenche said.

The Guardian learnt that the panel was secretly constituted last week by the military authorities and was given the mandate to interrogate suspicious officers with a view to ascertaining their levels of culpability or otherwise in the alleged action.

” We are not a different world from what is happening all over the whole world. Our armed forces, the present crop of officers and soldiers, were modelled. We are in tune with the best international practices of governance, and that’s democracy, and we are for it.”

Enenche, who had earlier told journalists that the briefing was aimed at clarifying the statement credited to the Nigerian Army about relationship between some civilians and army personnel, said: “Professionally, it is a command’s responsibility to caution officers and men on routine basis to conform to the ethics of the military in all ramifications, which include interactions and exchange of visits among others.

“This command’s responsibility is exercised right from the highest echelon such as the office of the Service Chiefs down to the lowest levels of command. Hence, the caution from the army in this case.”

According to him, the alarm over romance of some army officers with politicians and subsequent warning to officers penultimate week by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, was not out of place.

Meanwhile, retired members of the Nigerian Armed Forces under the aegis of Coalition of Concerned Veterans (CCV) have warned against a coup plot, saying that any attempt to destabilise democracy would force them back into uniform.

Also, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has vowed to use every available means to resist any coup, saying democracy has come to stay in Nigeria.

The National President of union, Comrade Abdulwaheed Odusile stated this at the NUJ national colloquium on elections, corruption and roadmap to 2019 organised by the Kaduna council, in

Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

Al Jazeera

 Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others, writes Dearden [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others, writes Dearden [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

By

Nick Dearden is the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now.

Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.

It’s a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we’ve heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.

Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.

That’s the essence of a report (pdf) from several campaign groups released today. Based on a set of new figures, it finds that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there’s money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid.

But there’s also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. Essentially multinational corporations “steal” much of this – legally – by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called “illicit financial flows” amount to around 6.1 per cent of the continent’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) – or three times what Africa receives in aid.

Then there’s the $30bn that these corporations “repatriate” – profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa.

There are also more indirect means by which we pull wealth out of Africa. Today’s report estimates that $29bn a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife. $36bn is owed to Africa as a result of the damage that climate change will cause to their societies and economies as they are unable to use fossil fuels to develop in the way that Europe did. Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others. Needless to say, the funds are not currently forthcoming.

If African countries are to benefit from foreign investment, they must be allowed to – even helped to – legally regulate that investment and the corporations that often bring it.

In fact, even this assessment is enormously generous, because it assumes that all of the wealth flowing into Africa is benefitting the people of that continent. But loans to governments and the private sector (at more than $50bn) can turn into unpayable and odious debt.

Ghana is losing 30 per cent of its government revenue to debt repayments, paying loans which were often made speculatively, based on high commodity prices, and carrying whopping rates of interest. One particularly odious aluminium smelter in Mozambique, built with loans and aid money, is currently costing the country £21 for every £1 that the Mozambique government received. British aid, which is used to set up private schools and health centres, can undermine the creation of decent public services, which is why such private schools are being closed down in Uganda and Kenya. Of course, some Africans have benefitted from this economy. There are now around 165,000 very rich Africans, with combined holdings of $860bn. But, given the way the economy works, where do these people mainly keep their wealth? In tax havens. A 2014 estimate suggests that rich Africans were holding a massive $500bn in tax havens. Africa’s people are effectively robbed of wealth by an economy that enables a tiny minority of Africans to get rich by allowing wealth to flow out of Africa.

So what is the answer? Western governments would like to be seen as generous beneficiaries, doing what they can to “help those unable to help themselves”. But the first task is to stop perpetuating the harm they are doing. Governments need to stop forcing African governments to open up their economy to privatisation, and their markets to unfair competition.

OPINION: Investment in Africa – There’s room for everyone

If African countries are to benefit from foreign investment, they must be allowed to – even helped to – legally regulate that investment and the corporations that often bring it. And they might want to think about not putting their faith in the extractives sector. With few exceptions, countries with abundant mineral wealth experience poorer democracy, weaker economic growth, and worse development. To prevent tax dodging, governments must stop prevaricating on action to address tax havens. No country should tolerate companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens operating in their country.

Aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa’s looted wealth. We should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows us to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global “society”.

To even begin to embark on such an ambitious programme, we must change the way we talk and think about Africa. It’s not about making people feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. We are not, currently, “helping” Africa. Africa is rich. Let’s stop making it poorer.

Nick Dearden is the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now. He was previously the director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy. 

Nigeria – Obsanjo says country slow to deal with Niger Delta and Boko Haram

Punch

 
Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo

Eniola Akinkuotu, Leke Baiyewu and Olaleye Aluko

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday,  said the extremisms of the Boko Haram in the North-East and the Niger Delta militants in the South-South were not addressed on time by the government before they  became monsters.

Obasanjo, who said this at a workshop in Abuja on the prevention of violent extremism, noted that the Niger Delta agitation grew from socio-economic deprivations.

According to him, violent extremism was one of the hindrances to reaping the dividends of democracy.

He said, “Violent extremism does not just spring overnight. For me, each of us has some form of extremism in us. What then makes extremism go violent? This happens when grievances are not immediately addressed. They go violent when they are left unaddressed or untreated. I want to illustrate with two or three examples. The militants in the Niger Delta did not start as militants. They started as people who felt they were not getting what they deserved within the economic and social millieu of Nigeria.

 

“I went as the Nigerian President and I was shocked about what I saw of the oil companies and the settlements of natives, where they had no water, no electricity, and no road. Their poverty was not addressed.

“When they failed to get attention and get their situation addressed, violence became part of their solution. The solution lies in developing that community.

“Also, the Boko Haram insurgents that are raging now, was started by Mohammed Yusuf who was normal, learned in Islamic religion and a good orator and preacher. When he was confronted with the poverty and lack of job opportunity for his followers, he decided to try and find a solution.

“What should we have as our narrative today? I have always maintained that it should be the stick and carrot approach. We did not have a stitch-in-time for the Boko Haram. It has festered and gone beyond Maiduguri and Nigeria and we have a monster. If we had tamed it much earlier with the right narrative, with the right action, the story might have been different.”

At the  workshop, which was organised by the Club De Madrid; European Union Delegation; Stop Violent Extremism Madrid + 10; Partnership Against Violent Extremism  and the Counter Terrorism Centre, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno ,  said all stakeholders must explore ways of preventing sermons in mosques from radicalising youths.

Monguno also said the Federal Government would in August launch a national framework on prevention of violent extremism.

Monguno said that the success of the war against violent extremism would depend on  “finding lasting solutions to the challenges of governance, democratic institutions, and a lack of opportunities.”

According to him, addressing security challenges demands a comprehensive regional and international approach that combines both soft and hard approaches to the threat of violent extremism.

He said that investigations had shown that extremist groups such as Boko Haram believed they were waging a Jihad war.

Meanwhile, the European Union says at least 25 out of the 27 local government areas in Borno State are affected by Boko Haram.

The Head of the EU Delegation to ECOWAS and Nigeria, Ambassador Michael Arrion, said this on Wednesday when members of the Progressive Alliance of Democrats and Socialists in the European Parliament visited members of the advocacy group, BringBackOurGirls, in Abuja on Tuesday.

While responding to a remark, Arrion said, “I am happy to tell you that very soon we will be in Borno to announce a support recovery and rehabilitation. We will be working with the Borno State authorities. I took your message. We know that 25 LGAs out of 27 need strong support in terms of rehabilitation. We will contribute to that, I promise you.”

Arrion told our correspondent that the North-East should expect at least €140m assistance from the EU.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has called on the EU and other donor agencies for more support to resolve the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Nort-East.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, made the call when the President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Pittella Gianni, visited him at the National Assembly in Abuja.

Copyright PUNCH.               

Sudan – Bashir accuses Egypt of backing Darfur rebel attack

Sudan Tribune


Sudanese soldiers in North Darfur's Wadi Hawar on Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their recent attack in Darfur on 23 May 2017 (ST Photo)
May 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Tuesday has accused Egypt of supporting the armed movements that recently entered Darfur from Libya and South Sudan.

On Friday, fierce clashes erupted in North and East Darfur between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council, a splinter group from the SLM-Abdel Wahid.

The government says the rebels entered into the region from Libya and South Sudan where Khartoum claims they are based, while the armed movements say the government forces attacked their positions in North Darfur state.

“The army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have seized Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their attack last Friday on the two states,” al-Bashir told a ceremony honouring retired army officers Tuesday in Khartoum.

He pointed out that the rebel forces came from Libya and South Sudan aboard Egyptian armoured vehicles.

The Sudanese President added that Egypt refused to support his country in its long fighting against the insurgency in South Sudan and Darfur, pointing to Sudan’s support for Egypt during its 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

“We fought in South Sudan for 20 years and Egypt did not provide us with a single bullet under the pretext that what was happening in Sudan was an internal affair,” he said.

He stressed that the rebel forces entered Sudan within the framework of a larger plot, saying that attackers came from Libya and South Sudan but the army managed to disperse them and destroyed and seized their armoured vehicles.

Since several months Sudanese officials hint that Egypt supports Darfur rebel groups hoping to put pressure on Khartoum to stop its support for the Ethiopian government which constructs a dam on the Blue Nile. Cairo says the Renaissance Dam will reduce the volume of water reaching its growing population.

The Sudanese President further mocked neighbouring countries who support the armed movements, describing the recent fight as “mere training” not actual military operations for the army.

Al-Bashir’s statements come just hours after his envoy for diplomatic contact and negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer hinted to Egypt’s involvement in the attacks which he said were meant to delay the permanent lift of U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan.

On Monday, Facebook pages belonging to the Sudanese army and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) posted photos of armoured vehicles from the recent clashes in Darfur, claiming they are Egyptian vehicles.

It also posted maps showing the entry points of the armed movements from Libya and South Sudan.

The Sudanese government has long accused the Darfur movements of fighting alongside the forces of the Libyan General Khalifa Hafer, which is supported by Egypt.

The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Monday expressed deep concern over the recent clashes in the region, saying “Significant progress has been made on the road towards peace and security in Darfur, and it would be a serious setback to see these gains jeopardised.”

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman has accused unnamed neighbouring countries of supporting the recent attack of the armed movements in Darfur.

Abdel-Rahman, who addressed student crowd in the River Nile State Tuesday, accused the armed movements of being hypocrites, saying they sat at the negotiations table in Germany while they were preparing to terrorise the innocent people in Darfur.

He praised the victories of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces against the rebels, saying the doors of the national dialogue would remain open for anyone who wants to join the process.

On 12 April 2016, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nour stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel pockets in the mountainous area.

EGYPT DENIES SUPPORTING DARFUR REBELS

In Cairo, the Egyptian foreign ministry has categorically denied in a statement issued on Tuesday its support for the rebel groups in Sudan’s Darfur region.

In a statement released on Tuesday Egypt said it respects Sudan’s sovereignty over its territory and has never intervened to destabilise the sisterly country of Sudan or harm its people”

The foreign ministry spokesperson further stressed that “Egypt’s foreign policy is based on respect for international law and the principles of good neighbourliness and non-aggression, especially when dealing with countries with which Egypt has special fraternal relations such as brotherly Sudan”.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident group from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) joined the DDPD in April 2013.

JEM and SLM-MM have engaged in peace talks with the government under the auspices of the African Union.

(ST)

Nigeria – Biafra protest brings Onitsha to a halt

Premium Times

Photo: TodayNG

Photo: TodayNG

The 17th anniversary celebration to mark the call for the Republic of Biafra paralysed social and economic activities in Onitsha, Anambra on Monday.

Members of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State Biafra (MASSOB) – Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) occupied major streets of Onitsha hoisting Biafra flags.

Some members who came from Nnewi, Awkuzu, Ogidi, Nkpor and Aguleri were seen moving on foot, in cars, tricycles and motorcycles which greatly slowed down vehicle and human traffic.

Addressing the members, the Anambra North Zonal leader of MASSOB-BIM, Vincent Iloh, reiterated the resolve of the group to sustain the agitation through peaceful means.

“It is exactly 17 years today; what we in MASSOB-BIM are still saying through non violence is for Biafrans to be granted independence from Nigeria.

“That was what our great hero and the Peoples General, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu tried to do in 1967 but was misunderstood.

“This is what the new Biafran leader Chief Ralph Uwazurike has continued to say since 1999 without the use of force.

“Until the needful is done, we will not relent.

“We want Biafra because the resources of our land have been confiscated with military might to develop other areas while we are left to wallow in state of dispair,” Mr. Iloh said.

The army, police, navy and civil defence were on ground during the rally which lasted for several hours to forestall any breach of peace.

In Port Harcourt, police seized the Biafra flag and dispersed procession by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) at Government Craft Centre bus stop on Aba road in Port Harcourt on Monday.

MASSOB members were seen on the streets of Port Harcourt decked in light sky-blue uniform with the flag.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that policemen had taken positions at strategic locations in the metropolis as early as 7.30 a.m.

Hundreds of policemen were deployed on the streets of Port Harcourt and its environs to maintain law and order, following the MASSOB rally.

Nnamdi Omoni, spokesman for the police in Rivers, told NAN that the deployment came in response to the planned rally by MASSOB.

Mr. Omoni said the deployment was to prevent possible break down of law and order in the city and its environs.

According to the spokesman, Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Zaki was also out monitoring the security situation.

He said the police would brief the media after the monitoring.

Nigeria – leader of governing APC warns of coup threat

Reuters

LAGOS Nigeria has paid a high price to achieve democracy and will foil any attempts by those hoping to stage a coup, the national leader of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party said on Monday.

Bola Tinubu’s warning came after the chief of army staff last week ordered officers to steer clear from politics and said he had received information that some soldiers had been approached by individuals for “undisclosed political reasons”.

“Just a few days ago we heard a warning that some people were trying to entice the military out of the barracks. I want to add my voice to that warning,” Tinubu, who leads President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC party, said in a speech to the state assembly in Lagos.

“Those who think they can break the democracy for which so many laboured and which too many sacrificed limb and life, are sorely mistaken. Nigeria has come too far for such a thing…. don’t think about it.”

He did not specify who he was referring to in the speech.

President Buhari, who is on his second medical leave this year for an undisclosed ailment, has been widely criticised over his handling of Africa’s largest economy since taking office in May 2015.

Nigeria has entered its second year of a recession, largely caused by low oil prices, that has seen a dollar scarcity and high inflation

His deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, has been acting president since the 74-year-old former military ruler left for Britain on May 7.

Nigeria has been under civilian rule since 1999 after military dictatorships held power for the vast majority of the years following independence from Britain in 1960.

Buhari was also the nation’s military head of state from December 1983 to August 1985, when he was deposed in a coup.

(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Africa’s growth will be boosted by recovery in commodity prices

Reuters

Photo

NEW DELHI Africa will see a lift-off in economic growth this year and next on the back of a rebound in global commodity prices, an annual report predicted on Monday.

The African Economic Outlook, co-authored by the African Development Bank, the OECD and the United Nations Development Programme, expects the continent’s economy to grow by 3.4 percent in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018, up from an estimated 2.2 percent last year.

The report was released as the African Development Bank began its annual meeting, this year being hosted by India in the capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

Modi invited African leaders to a summit in 2015 and has sought to promote ‘south-south’ economic ties with a continent that has a large Indian diaspora but has seen far larger inward investment from China.

The report said that a decline in commodity prices starting in mid-2014 had a devastating impact on several commodity-exporting African economies. Nigeria, for example, which has the biggest share in Africa’s GDP, slipped into recession.

Africa has been worryingly dependent on commodities to power economic growth. The fall in raw materials prices inflicted a significant shock on sub-Saharan Africa as fuels, ore and metals account for more than 60 percent of the region’s exports.

However, commodities have staged a comeback since late last year, buoyed by an improvement in the world economic outlook together with the return of risk appetite among global investors.

If the rise in commodity prices is sustained, the report said, it would trim the continent’s current account deficit to 5 percent of GDP this year from 6.5 percent in 2016.

Africa is expected to witness a marginal improvement in external inflows that are estimated to inch up to $179.7 billion in 2017 from $177.7 billion a year ago.

The report urged the countries in the region to diversify their exports to reduce their exposure to commodity-price shocks and take measures to boost trade within Africa.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Douglas Busvine)