Category Archives: Opinion Poll

Facebook must walk the talk on Myanmar – By Priya Pillai.

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The social media giant should disclose any information it has relating to crimes against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Last month, Facebook moved to block a bid by The Gambia in a US court, in which it sought disclosure of posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police. This legal step is related to a case brought by The Gambia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in which it has accused Myanmar of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

The social media giant urged the US District Court for the District of Columbia to reject the “extraordinarily broad” request, saying it would violate a US law that bars electronic communication services from disclosing users’ communications.

In a consequent public statement, Facebook confirmed that it would not comply with The Gambia’s demand, but claimed to be cooperating with the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) – an investigative body established to collect and analyse evidence of serious international crimes committed in Myanmar.

A few days later, however, this was refuted by the IIMM head Nicholas Koumjian. Koumjian explained that while Facebook has indeed been in talks with the IIMM for a year, it had failed to share “highly relevant” material that could be “probative of serious international crimes” with the investigators. Again, a few days after this, there were reports – confirmed by the IIMM – that Facebook has shared the first data set that only “partially complies” with requests from the IIMM.

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Facebook has stated that it supports “action against international crimes” by working with the appropriate authorities. However, this series of actions on the part of Facebook may lead to the opposite conclusion, and rather than supporting The Gambia’s legal efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, is obstructing a case relating to genocide.

In August 2017, the Myanmar military launched a so-called “clearance operation” in Rakhine State, home to Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. Over several weeks, soldiers committed atrocities in the region, killing thousands, committing mass rapes, burning villages to the ground, and driving more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Since then, it has been established that Facebook was used as a medium for the dissemination of hate speech as a precursor to these atrocities. In September 2018, in a report on the situation in Myanmar, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar highlighted the role Facebook played in creating an enabling environment in the country for the commission of atrocities.

Around the time of the release of the report, Facebook suspended several Myanmar military accounts, including that of the head of the army, and subsequently commissioned a human rights impact assessment into its Myanmar operations. The latter was quite tepid, and the former, a case of too little, too late.

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In November 2019, The Gambia filed an application at the ICJ, claiming that a conflict exists between it and Myanmar regarding the interpretation and application of the Genocide Convention, based on how Myanmar was treating the Rohingya population, which The Gambia claimed rose to the level of genocidal acts.

This was a legally unprecedented move – the first instance where a case was filed by a state not directly affected by the international crimes alleged. Nevertheless, The Gambia obtained an initial positive ruling this January from the court – a ruling relating to protective measures, which includes directions to Myanmar to cease and desist from certain actions that would violate the Genocide Convention, and to provide the court with regular updates on its compliance with the order.

However, The Gambia needs to take many more steps and overcome several hurdles to bring the case to a successful conclusion. One of these steps is to obtain more evidence that demonstrates the Myanmar military’s “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya. One likely repository of such evidence is Facebook.

Knowing that there is a trove of information accessible only to Facebook, which may shed light on various aspects of the international crimes alleged, in June 2020, The Gambia initiated legal proceedings in the US, to compel the company to hand over information that would be of assistance for the case before the international court.

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The request, made in accordance with a US federal statute, was opposed by Facebook because it violates a US law that “protects billions of global internet users from violations of their right to privacy and freedom of expression”.

However, the provisions of the law invoked – Stored Communications Act, 18 USC 2702(a) – do not seem to be a complete bar to sharing the information. As argued by The Gambia in response to the opposition by Facebook in court, the act aims to protect the privacy of private individuals in the US and not the unlawful acts of state actors such as the Myanmar government. Moreover, it would not apply to information already removed from the system – which is much of what is being requested – given the prior removal for violating Facebook’s own terms and conditions.

The optics of not supporting the disclosure of evidence that may assist in establishing the crime of genocide are truly terrible. As bad, is the obfuscation that seems to accompany this position. Facebook, a company that has built its entire business model on monetising user data, is likely aware of this.

August marked the third anniversary of the mass exodus and atrocities committed against the Rohingya – a time for reflection – and a time to act in support of the survivors, in their quest for accountability and justice. Facebook must walk the talk now.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect NRM’s editorial stance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priya Pillai

Priya Pillai is an international lawyer, and head of the Asia Justice Coalition secretariat.

Tweet: @Pillaipriy


#Newsworthy…

Donald Trump can score ‘a simple’ diplomatic win from Saudi Arabia – By Eisner & Alaoudh

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Getting US citizens released from Saudi jails would be much easier to accomplish than nomralising Saudi-Israeli ties.


White House adviser Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia this week and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The two men have developed a close bond over hours of private chats, sharing their grand visions for the region. The purpose of this trip was reportedly to discuss a normalisation of ties deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, similar to the one the UAE concluded, dubbed the “Abraham Accord”.

If Saudi government statements are to be believed, it is unlikely he will succeed in that mission in the near term. But Kushner can use his continuing dialogue with MBS to do some good. He should leverage his close ties to the crown prince to gain the freedom of Saudi political prisoners, including US-Saudi dual nationals Salah al-Haidar and Bader al-Ibrahim. Saudi Arabia has detained the two Americans without charge since April 2019.

Both al-Haidar and al-Ibrahim are US-born citizens, natives of Virginia and Washington, respectively. They were living in Saudi Arabia when they invoked the ire of Saudi authorities for engaging in what passes as normal political discussion in much of the rest of the world. Al-Ibrahim is a co-author of a book on the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia. Al-Haidar is a journalist, whose now-deleted YouTube show, That’s the Point, featured leading Saudi intellectuals and reformers.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on September 1, 2020 [Reuters]

Al-Haidar’s real crime might well have been just being the son of Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at King Saud University and prominent feminist whom Saudi authorities are prosecuting for her past activism to end the driving ban on women. Saudi state security officials arrested Al-Haidar just a few days after they released his mother on bail.

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Our sources in Saudi say that the Specialized Criminal Court for State Security, the Saudis’ own version of the star chamber, has finally decided to charge the two men under the terrorism law, based on their comments and tweets, for which they face up to 30 years in prison. Like almost all proceedings in the Special Criminal Court, the trials of the two men will be held in secret.

Given US President Donald Trump’s dire need for foreign policy victories to showcase ahead of the November elections, getting al-Haidar and al-Ibrahim released and bringing them home to the US would be a popular move with both Republican and Democrat voters.

The Saudi crown prince could show the Saudi justice system is working by acquitting the men or giving them light sentences for time served, before allowing Kushner to claim credit for their release. It would be MBS’s gift to the Trump administration, which could use the release to burnish the image of President Trump as the protector of American citizens unjustly imprisoned abroad – an image portrayed in a polished seven-minute video clip presented during the Republican Convention at the end of August.

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It is worth noting that MBS is indebted to President Trump and Kushner. The crown prince was isolated and reeling after the savage murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Western democracies spoke in unison, condemning the murder and demanding accountability. Many followed up with action, imposing travel bans, sanctions and suspensions of arms exports.

At MBS’s low point, the Trump administration and Special Adviser Kushner rode to the rescue, providing a crucial lifeline. Jared Kushner reportedly became MBS’s chief champion in the White House, as well as an informal adviser to the crown prince on damage control. Eight months after Khashoggi’s murder, Trump vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fast-tracked the arms shipments to avoid traditional congressional reporting requirements. As far as the Trump administration was concerned, it would be business as usual between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The rest of the world took notice.

Apart from al-Haidar and al-Ibrahim, many other prominent Saudi activists and intellectuals are languishing in jail, including Loujain al-Hathloul, who has been whipped, electrocuted and waterboarded for advocating women’s rights; Salman Al-Awdah, a prominent Muslim scholar who called for democratic reforms and faces the death penalty and the father of one of the authors; Nouf Abdulaziz, a blogger and activist who has been tortured and sexually harassed in jail; Fadel al-Manasif, a Shia activist and writer serving a 15-year sentence for peaceful activism; and Waleed Abulkhair, a human rights lawyer also serving a 15-year sentence.

The list sadly goes on. For now, it is enough for senior adviser Kushner to secure the release of the two Americans and seek freedom for this small cross-section of Saudi political prisoners. It would not erase the unsavoury taint of Kushner’s friendship with MBS, but it would be big news, deservedly so. A US-brokered release of American and Saudi political prisoners would also provide a signal to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other autocratic allies in the region, that the Trump administration, despite its alarming violations of human rights at home, might one day focus its attention on their own cell blocks of political prisoners.


The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect NRM’s editorial stance.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Michael Eisner

Michael Eisner is General Counsel of Democracy for the Arab World Now and former State Department Attorney-Adviser.

Abdullah Alaoudh

Abdullah Alaoudh is Director of Research for the Gulf Region at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). Tweet: @aalodah


#Newsworthy…


Sudanese gov’t cannot afford to be confused on Israel – By Kholood Khair

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The government’s discombobulated stance on normalisation with Israel could be costly for Sudan.


On August 18, just a few days after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel declared their intention to normalise ties, Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman, Haidar Badawi, announced that his government too is “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel.” The move by Khartoum was seen by many as a major win for the UAE, which is known to be supporting Israel’s normalisation of ties. However, the Gulf state was not necessarily the intended audience for this unexpected announcement.

It is well-understood that the number-one foreign policy objective of the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is to convince the United States to rescind Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terror (SST) designation, which presents a significant obstacle to the country in accessing foreign aid and dealing with its enormous national debt. Regionally, this means supporting the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel – the Trump administration’s key allies.

It could well be that the limited push-back the UAE received from the international community for normalising its ties with Israel, and Washington’s vocal support for the move, motivated Sudan to follow suit. However, Sudan does not have a reasonably stable political leadership or a resilient economy like the UAE, and this gamble to secure support from the US and its regional allies could, very easily, not pay off.

Worryingly, it increasingly appears that the August 18 announcement on Sudan’s intention to normalise ties with Israel was not even part of a cohesive governmental strategy, but a unilateral move by senior military figures in the chimeric transitional government.

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Just a day after the announcement, Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din “dismissed Haidar Badawi from his position as spokesman and head of the media division” at the ministry for making “unauthorised” comments – a clear indication of divisions within the transitional government over relations with Israel.

And this was not even the first time that Sudan’s part-civilian, part-military transitional government struggled to hold a united front on Israel.

In February, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, a joint civilian-military transitional body that has been governing the country since August 2019, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda. The meeting was denounced by Prime Minister Hamdok as something that happened without his knowledge and, if he were in a position to give it, his consent. In reality, it is unlikely that he did not know of it, even if he was not in favour of it.

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If the civilian government’s denials on normalisation were aiming to gauge the public mood while a foreign policy position on Sudanese-Israeli relations is developed, then February’s confusion should have sufficed. This latest episode signals deeper fractions within the transitional government, which imperil Sudan’s transition.

Hamdok says his government “has no mandate” to normalise ties with Israel, and a decision can only be made after the end of the transitional period. Nevertheless, the ostensible end-goal of normalisation, rescission of the SST designation, still appears to be the leading foreign policy objective of his government. The current confusion has done little to instil public confidence that the transitional government can act as one, or indeed deliver SST rescission.

With ongoing protests calling for the transitional government to be reformed and, crucially, less power to be afforded to the military, this misstep on clarity about the relationship with Israel is one the civilian wing of the transitional government led by Hamdok could ill-afford.

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance, the civilian coalition backing the transitional government and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which led last year’s revolution, have both been vocal about their objection to normalisation with Israel. Badawi’s assertion that the Sudanese government, military and civilian, is gearing up to normalise relations with Israel, did not help Hamdok’s hand with these groups. Meanwhile, by denying that any formal attempts towards normalisation are being made, the civilian government also caused many in Sudan who view improving relations with US allies in the region as a path towards SST rescission to lose trust in its ability to do what is necessary to address Sudan’s acute economic woes.

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Now Hamdok’s government is either being framed as a mendacious cabal that is trying to obfuscate the details of a deal that is in the making or an incompetent and powerless body that lacks a well-defined foreign policy.

The military components of the government, meanwhile, not only appear to have a well-developed foreign policy strategy, but are also flaunting their ability to ignore the rules. Just a few days after Badawi’s announcement, and swift dismissal, for example, the deputy head of Sudan’s sovereign council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen in the UAE to discuss security arrangements. According to media reports, during the meeting Dagalo told the Israeli official that “the Sudanese condition for reaching a normalisation agreement is that Israel starts working to remove Sudan’s name from the US list of the states that sponsor terror.”

The military, it seems, is neither concerned about “mandates” nor feeling under pressure to align its foreign policy with that of the civilian government. As the two key regional allies of the Sudanese military, Egypt and the UAE, have already normalised their ties with Israel, the military leaders likely believe the benefits of normalisation would outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, moving closer to Israel can also cause significant drawbacks for the military, which was once the cornerstone of Sudan’s anti-Israel stance. The military’s recent about-turn on the issue could cause its leaders to be perceived domestically as pawns of their powerful foreign backers, impeding any notion of sovereign policy-making.

The problems that the transitional government’s bifurcated stance towards normalisation with Israel can cause for the country became ever more obvious during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Khartoum. Though billed as an unprecedented show of US support for the transitional government, its timing and key focus on Israel frustrated many who had hoped that it would deliver some concrete pledge from the US before the November elections. That the prospect of rescission was floated with a presumptive price tag to the tune of $330m, for a country currently in economic freefall, did not surprise many who are familiar with Trump’s mercenary brand of foreign policy.

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Hamdok’s insistence that normalisation would not occur until further administrative and bureaucratic elements were in place for the transition showed new political courage not often seen before and proved that the prime minister had the mettle to stand up to the Trump administration and the UAE. This was a rare domestic coup for Hamdok, though it remains a perilous gamble.

Sudan’s discombobulated stance on normalisation sets up a hazard for both parts of the government, civilian and military. But the risks are higher for Hamdok’s government, which still insists that it is not seeking normalisation.

If normalisation happens de facto and without the prime minister’s input, it will most likely be a security arrangement. In such a scenario, SST rescission and economic gains may not follow normalisation and could give Islamists fodder to stoke anti-government sentiment. All this could delegitimise Hamdok’s government but leave the military unscathed and in the good books of its regional backers.

Sudan’s fledgeling civilian government is nowhere near stable enough to be able to weather the political turmoil that could arise from a confused and seemingly unintended, yet serious, rapprochement with Israel.

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Banking its political cache on either normalisation with Israel or standing up to the US and regional powers and yet still promising SST rescission could prove reckless. Not pushing through with normalisation, even though it remains on the table, and continuing to dig its heels in could prove more destabilising to the civilian government’s relationship with the military. Hamdok and his government find themselves in a catch-22 situation. If SST rescission does not follow this political risk after all, the civilian government could be plunged further into a political crisis that it, so far, seems to plan on fixing mostly through SST rescission itself.

And therein lies the true gamble for the civilian wing of the government, which has far more to lose, and is playing against a stronger opponent, both domestically and abroad. Its attempts to delay taking a decision on the issue risks strengthening the accusations of indecisiveness and inertia it is already facing.

By not learning from the public response to February’s meeting between Burhan and Netanyahu, which was followed by pushback less on the meeting itself and more on the confused messaging on the meeting from the prime minister, the civilian government may have missed an opportunity to consolidate its position domestically as well as soothe leaders in the UAE, a key supporter of Sudan’s military. Doing so would go some way in resolving the power imbalance within the government.

With all the government’s hopes pinned on SST rescission, there is no guarantee that the US would not follow through with a delisting with the military, rather than civilian, leadership. Despite the US Department of State’s repeated assertions that it supports the civilian government, the recently announced sanctions list for those who undermine Sudan’s transition is extremely opaque. The civilian government’s backtracking may have risked its position within an already confused American foreign policy: it would do well not to take this administration’s unwavering support for the civilian government for granted.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect NRM’s editorial stance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kholood Khair

Khair is a managing partner of Insight Strategy Partners (ISP), a policy think-and-do tank based in Khartoum, Sudan.


#Newsworthy…

Uproot corruption to rebuild Lebanon – By Sahar Atrache & Hardin Lang

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As the world gathers aid for the people of Lebanon, it must ensure that it gets to those who need it.


On August 4, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history wreaked havoc on Beirut. Nearly 200 lives were lost, and more than 6,000 people were injured.

An estimated 300,000 people were instantly left homeless. The blast obliterated homes, schools, medical facilities, and the port of Beirut, which supplies nearly 85 percent of the country’s food.

Humanitarian relief efforts are already under way, but the longer-term reconstruction will take years.

For Lebanon to truly recover, the country and its international partners will need to address something more insidious than the blast: corruption.

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Lebanon was already on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. In 2019, the country’s economic collapse threw hundreds of thousands into poverty and exacerbated an already spiking unemployment rate, especially among the youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown further deepened the hardship, including for more than one million Syrian refugees.

Donors and international aid agencies have launched a humanitarian intervention to help the population cope.

But the effort faces a significant challenge: how to channel hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in aid without it being siphoned off by corruption.

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For decades, Lebanon has suffered from systemic corruption that bankrupted the country.

Many Lebanese hold political leaders responsible for the country’s economic collapse and today, many consider the port explosion to be yet another example of neglect.

Several reports make clear that Lebanese officials knew about the presence of these lethal materials for years and failed to act.

Unlike in the past, Western donors appear wary of traditional assistance strategies that rely on the Lebanese government. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

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John Barsa of USAID said firmly: “Our aid is absolutely not going to the government. Our aid is going to the people of Lebanon.”

To limit the opportunities for corruption, many donors are largely betting on the UN to spearhead the emergency relief efforts. However, this route is not without challenges. Some Lebanon watchers have voiced concerns over the undue influence of the Assad regime on UN aid operations in Syria. In Lebanon, the UN and other aid agencies have partnered in the past with Lebanese entities now associated with corruption, like the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), a “key partner of the UN in Lebanon,” or with NGOs founded by or tied to members of the political elite.

French troops help unload boxes of French Red Cross humanitarian aid near the site of the August 4 blast in Beirut [AP Photo/Hassan Ammar]

To address these fears, international aid organisations must reassert their independence from Lebanon’s political elite. For example, UN agencies should exercise greater scrutiny when partnering with governmental or non-governmental bodies. They should also strive to strengthen transparency around aid delivery. Such measures could include the timely and regular release of programme budgets and aid distribution data; a communications plan and formal dialogue with aid beneficiaries; and dedicated staff to monitor aid delivery. Indeed, some of these steps may already be under way.

Second, international aid agencies must empower Lebanese civil society in the relief effort. Fortunately, Lebanon already has a robust landscape of local activists and groups dedicated to the needs of the vulnerable. In addition, new grassroots networks emerged last year during the country’s economic implosion, and the blast sparked a groundswell of citizen mobilisation. Donors and the UN will need to prioritise the flow of resources to these groups and include them in decision-making. The UN’s Lebanon Response Fund allocated roughly a quarter of its money through local NGOs in 2019. While impressive, that local share will need to grow. Finally, Lebanese civil society should be given a greater role with respect to oversight and accountability.

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Third, donors and international financial institutions (IFIs) must address corruption as part of the wider reconstruction effort. The World Bank estimates that Lebanon will need up to $2bn for recovery. Fortunately, it appears to be taking the corruption issue seriously, calling for a series of anti-corruption measures as part of the rebuilding process. These include a new national anti-corruption commission and a call for Lebanon to join the Open Government Partnership. The Bank has also floated the idea of a new type of financing facility that could channel resources directly to NGOs engaged in recovery.

All of these would be steps in the right direction. However, bilateral and multilateral donors will still need a legitimate Lebanese governmental counterpart with whom to do business. This is particularly true for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with whom talks have stalled over a bailout for Lebanon’s economy. Addressing this dilemma will certainly require some innovative thinking.

Any real reform agenda – one that uproots Lebanon’s entrenched corruption – will face great resistance by the elite. But as the world gathers support for the people of Lebanon, it cannot lose sight of this goal if aid is to get to those who need it.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Noble Reporters Media’s editorial stance.


#Newsworthy…

Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators increasing amid lack of support for victims – Juliet.

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Juliet Olumuyiwa-Rufai believes the lack of support for victims of sexual abuse emboldens perpetrators.

She likened a situation where community members beg victims on behalf of sexual offenders to “telling them [perpetrators] to do more.

“By the time we do not give support to survivors of sexual abuse, we are doing a lot of harm; we are empowering the perpetrators; telling the perpetrators to go ahead and go more,” Juliet who is the Centre Manager, Mirable/Partnership for Justice, said on Tuesday during the UN Spotlight Initiative Town Hall on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.

“And Nobody knows whose turn it is going to be next. And we are making the survivors be so down, so withdrawn.”

While narrating her experience managing cases of sexual abuse, she said many victims of abuse are told to leave the matter for God, telling them [victims] that “judgement belongs to God.”

“It is made worse when they do not receive support from the society; when people turn to favour the perpetrators instead of the survivors,” she explained.

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“So, you get to see community members coming to beg survivors to drop the case, not to pursue justice; going to beg on behalf of the perpetrators, trying to tell survivors that ‘Well, you can’t fight for God. Judgement belongs to God. You are too hard; can’t you forget about it?’.”

She reiterated that sexual abuse leaves victims with a lot of trauma with many of them going into depression and even taking their own lives.

“It [effects of sexual violence] cannot just go away,” Juliet added.

‘Widespread, Persistent Violations’
The Spotlight Initiative is a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).

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The Initiative aim is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

According to the United Nations, “violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.”

The Spotlight Initiative aims to bring focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An initial investment in the order of EUR 500 million has been made, with the EU as the main contributor.


#Newsworthy…

Let’s ensure we stop GBV – Edward Kallon.

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The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Edward Kallon has condemned the rising cases of rape and other forms of violence against women.

Speaking on Tuesday during a UN Spotlight Initiative Town Hall on Violence against Women and Girls, Kallon said Gender-Based Violence was no longer acceptable.

“It is just not acceptable anymore that we have to sit down and see the level of violence that is perpetrated against our womenfolk. This is not acceptable,” he said.

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“It is a whole of society call and if we come together, we can stop this.”

The UN Coordinator called for a collective effort to ending the scourge of rape in the country.

While commending the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for declaring the rape menace as an emergency, he praised the Federal Government for the creation of an inter-ministerial Task Force on GBV.

In efforts to ending cases of violence in Nigeria, Kallon asked the judiciary to step up its game to ensure a GBV-free society.

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“We want institutions to come on board, institutions that can bring the legal and justice-related aspect that are so critical in ensuring that victims actually realise justice when they are affected by this gruesome act.

“We need institutions onboard from the judiciary right down. We also need to be a little bit liberal on the issue of Gender-Based Violence and other gruesome act that it is not a woman’s issue, it is also an issue for men,” he said.

The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union and the United Nations, is determined to eliminate all forms of such Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


#Newsworthy…

There may be compromises amid suspension of house committees activities – Mark Gbillah.

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Federal lawmaker, Mark Gbillah, on Monday, alleged that the suspension of House Committee activities may derail the fact-finding investigations being embarked on.

The House of Representatives, on August 19, suspended all investigations, public hearings, and committee meetings as well as activities of standing and ad hoc committees until September in order to observe its annual recess.

However, Hon. Gbillah said the suspension of committee meetings would negatively impact on the work of Committees, especially those investigating corruption and impropriety within the Executive.

“It will impair the investigations significantly,” he said. “We are still in the realm of allegations and speculations, but when a three-week break has been allowed, compromises can be made; people can be appealed to, offers, overtures can be made to those carrying out those investigations. This is Nigeria.”

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However, federal lawmaker, Akin Alabi, rubbished Gbillah’s allegations as “purely politics.”

While Gbillah is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alabi Egbeda/Ona-Ara Federal Constituency under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress.

On Saturday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) criticised the leadership of the House of Representatives for frustrating the ongoing investigation of some government officials by going on a recess.

Powers of the Speaker
Hon. Gbillah started his faulting of the recess on Monday by saying the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has no power to suspend the work of a House Committee.

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“There are no provisions in our law that give the Speaker that power to suspend the work of a committee,” he said.

“People have complied with it in the spirit of oneness and progress, but it is not out of place for those who espouse the rule of law to question that decision.

“The Speaker is given the power, in consultation with the principal officers, to remove Chairmen. Obviously, some Chairmen will be cautious in going against the order.”

Hon. Alabi disagreed with his colleague’s remarks.

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“That’s false,” he said. “It is the tradition of the house not to have Committee meetings during the recess. And that is what’s obtainable in Congresses all over the world.

“The wisest thing is to pause. We will get back to the House in a couple of weeks, in September. Everybody knew the day of recess for about a month before we went on recess.

However, Hon. Gbillah maintained there was no law giving such powers to the Speaker.

“It is the first time in the history of the National Assembly that I am aware of as a ranking member that, by fiat, the leadership of the House is stopping the statutory activities of Committees,” Gbillah said. “And these activities are backed by a resolution of the House.

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“And I personally believe that for any action to rescind the activities of those committees to be tenable, it should come by a resolution of the same House, not by fiat.”

Hon. Alabi noted that there was no need for a special law for the Speaker to be able to suspend a Committee.

“If the Committee Chairman has the power to put a committee on recess, the Speaker, who is the Chairman of all Committees in the House definitely has the power to order all committees on recess.”

Investigating Corruption
House Committees have been at the centre of recent open questioning of public officials, including Federal Ministers.

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Last week, in a televised public hearing, Minister of Transporation, Rotimi Amaechi, engaged in heated conversations over details of Nigeria’s financial engagements with the Chinese government.

A House Committee has also been in the middle of investigating financial misappropriation at the Niger-Delta Development Commission.

Hon. Gbillah on Monday suggested that suspending the work of committees could have been motivated by ulterior motives.

“This is a defining moment in the history of this ninth assembly, considering the altercations that the committees, especially of the House of Representatives, have been having with the Executive,” he said.

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“This obviously has given credence to the allusions by Nigerians that this is a lame-duck legislature. It now behooves on the leadership to show that it is not a lame-duck leadership.”

Meanwhile, Hon. Alabi insisted that the Speaker has the power to set up committees, dissolve them, or pause their activities.

“There is no need for a special law to say that the Speaker has the power to pause their activities,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be stated in toto.

“This is pure politics. People are trying to destabilise the sanity of the House.”


#Newsworthy..

GDP Slump: Time to do some things differently – Rewane Bismarck

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Notable economist and adviser to the Federal Government, Bismarck Rewane, on Monday said the latest Nigeria Bureau of Statistics report on the economy should push the country to start “doing some things differently.”

Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by six percent in real terms in the second quarter of 2020, the NBS said Monday morning.

According to Rewane, the decline was “surprising and concerning” but not “alarming at this point in time.”

“The truth is that the economy had its pre-existing conditions in Q1 and the lag between the slow down and the contraction was underestimated by all analysts,” Mr Rewane said in an interview with Channels Television on Monday.

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He pointed out that the Federal Government’s stimulus plan for the economy was inadequate to cover for the shortfall recorded by the NBS.

“We have a N2.5trn equipment to fight a 12trn contraction,” he said. “So the limitations and inadequacies and inappropriateness of the tools, compared to the problem we have, is stacked.

“So we are saying that the move from a slowdown into a contraction was more than we expected. The tools that we have at our disposal are inadequate. The stimulus that is required to take us out of this equation is going to be much more than we expected. And we are going to have to take some measures.”

Mr Rewane added that the country was now faced with a quadrilemma, a situation in which a choice must be made between four undesirable options.

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“The first variable we are looking at is recession, negative growth,” he said. “The second variable is high inflation, which is almost 13 percent.

“The third variable is high unemployment; even though the unemployment numbers are at 28 percent, we think that it is much more than that. And finally, we have weaknesses in currency.

“So we are having external weaknesses and vulnerabilities, slow growth, high unemployment, and, more than anything else, contraction in economic activity.

“Now we are going to move away from the monetary policy complement that we have, stimulate the economy with greater catalyst, and do some things differently.”


#Newsworthy…

EDHA crisis: Abubakar Malami has abused ‘the law’ – Obaseki.

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A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Don-Pedro Obaseki, has reacted to the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly.

Obaseki, who spoke on Monday during an opinion poll (known to Noble Reporters Media), accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami of abusing the law.

According to him, Malami’s response to the crisis engulfing the Edo parliament has revealed what side of the political divide he is supporting.

“I will state clearly that Mr. Malami has shown himself as a law officer, as a most-partisan one who decides to speak depending on what part of the (political) party divide he is on. What he has done is a flagrant abuse of the law,” he said.

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He also accused the newly sworn-in members of the assembly of forging a mace used during their inauguration.

While noting that the original mace is with the Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye, the PDP member described the situation as treasonable.

Obaseki, therefore, called for the arrest of the 14 members of the House for allegedly forging a mace during their swearing-in.

PDP member, Don-Pedro Obaseki accuses the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, of flouting the law with respect to the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly. (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

“They have gone to forge a mace. When you forge a mace, you are forcefully taking over a part of the government.

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“That is treasonable. The original mace still lies with the Speaker, Mr Okiye. The Department of State Service should go and arrest them. They are a threat to the state,” he said.

Speaking further, he explained that the House of Assembly is only proclaimed once and that has already been done earlier by Governor Godwin Obaseki.

17 APC Lawmakers in Edo claimed to have impeached the State House of Assembly Speaker on August 6, 2020. (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

His remarks come days after some unknown persons invaded the Edo Assembly and climbed the roof of the complex where they removed the mace.

Shortly after, 17 lawmakers, including 14 members whose seats have been previously declared vacant, claim that they have impeached the Speaker of the House, Okiye, and his deputy, Roland Asoro


#Newsworthy…

Elections: INEC may reverse if violence persists – Festus Okoye.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that it is determined to conduct elections in Edo and Ondo States, however, the electoral umpire says it will pull out if there is unbearable violence recorded in the course of the polls.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye discloses.

Mr Okoye said the commission is poised to conduct these elections though some political parties are engaging in activities aimed at making the commission become scared about moving on with the electoral exercises.

The tension in Edo state recently came to a very disturbing magnitude when dozens of heavily armed security operatives stormed the Assembly complex of the state, purportedly to forestall an alleged plan to attack the facility by some unnamed persons.

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While nerves seemed to be getting calm from the “averted invasion” of the Assembly, news filtered in that seventeen lawmakers in the state including 14 members whose seats have been previously declared vacant, held a covert plenary and impeached the Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye, and his deputy, Roland Asoro.

This news triggered another round of palpable unrest, stirring debates and causing opposition parties to throw shades and exchange banters. The banters, however, degenerated to an unhealthy point to which there were claims of a plot to assassinate high-profile personalities in the state.

Having closely monitored the situation, INEC said the commission is not scared, noting that it is going to strategise with the security agencies and will move in to make sure that the people of Edo State and the people of Ondo State are given the choice and exercise their sovereign rights to choose whoever they want as their leaders.

INEC through its spokesman, Festus Okoye, insisted that there is a level of violence that will be tolerated, adding that if the threshold is exceeded, then the Commission would be forced to suspend the electoral proceedings.

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“The violence we are talking about will be the type of violence that puts people on edge, which puts fear in the minds of the people.

“The type of violence that is cogent and verifiable, that everybody can see and be sure that the peace and security of the state are being threatened. It is not if there is violence maybe in a particular ward that the security agencies have been able to contain that we are going to call off the election.

“Type of violence I’m talking about and the type of issues that will lead us not to proceed with the election must be so serious that no regulatory agency or no regulatory commission will move into such a place to go and conduct election when it is completely unsafe to conduct the election.

“We are determined to proceed with this election but if we encounter the type of violence that is unbearable, the type of violence that will make it completely impossible to conduct anything called an election, we will pull out”.


#Newsworthy…

Insurgency: Military needs brilliancy not ammunition – Alemikha

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Professor Etannibi Alemikha has disagreed with the governors of the North-East over the deployment of more heavy artillery to the region.

Speaking during an interview on Monday, Alemikha said the Nigerian military needs more intelligence.

The criminologist explained that for the war against insurgency to be won in the region, security operatives need to have information beforehand on the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists.

“From the military or security point of view, what is required is actually not weapons. It is intelligence. At that point, they need to know when insurgents are planning to attack, where they are supposed to be attacking and what is the capacity or force that will be deployed there,” he said.

According to him, the war against terrorism and issues bordering on security globally are technologically driven.

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While insisting that the troubled northeast region lacks the intelligence-approach in prosecuting terrorism war, the criminologist said the military personnel has been provided with the required weapons.

North-East Governors during a security meeting at the Government House in Maiduguri on August 9, 2020 called for the deployment of heavy artillery to the region in the war against insurgency.

He explained that even if more weapons are provided for them, the intelligence-capacity is far more important.

“It is not so much the weapons that are required that is more important than the intelligence. I would have expected that they will ask indeed that there is the need for the deployment or greater capacity of intelligence-gathering through the various media.

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“You could have the highest weapons; you will still be taken unawares. I think what is largely missing in the northeast situation has been intelligence.

“Why are they always caught unawares? I think that should be the response rather than the weapons they carry,” he said.

Professor Alemikha’s remarks come 24 hours after the Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State asked the Federal Government to provide the region with more weapons to tackle terrorism decisively.

The governor who made this call during a meeting at the Borno Government House in Maiduguri on Saturday, advocated the use of heavy artillery for the Nigerian police to bridge the manpower deficit in the Armed Forces.


#Newsworthy…

Anti-Blackness is Everywhere – By Michelle Chikaonda

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Anti-Blackness is not an individual feeling, but systemic global conditioning.


As I considered the toys on the initial rack that had caught my eye, a store associate appeared with a basket but did not say anything; she just stood at the wall a few feet away from me, watching.

I greeted her, but she still did not smile or make eye contact, just nodded and mumbled an almost inaudible “fine”.

I would have tried to let this go, would have told myself she was just having a bad day, and that we need to stop expecting poorly paid store associates to give us eight hours of cheer in addition to stocking shelves and serving customers.

Except that, as I continued through the store, more associates appeared, also saying nothing. There was the man to my left, another to my right, a woman to my far right, all in addition to the initial woman with the basket who was now so close behind me that she seemed not to be helping so much as stalking me.

The men, when I made eye contact with them, said, “How are you Ma’am?” This would have seemed innocuous if not for the conduct of the man to my left, who appeared startled when I looked at him, as though I had caught him doing something he shouldn’t have; he muttered his greeting before drifting back behind the mid-store display that he had approached me from.

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I slowly put the stuffed animal I was looking at back on the shelf. When I looked up, I saw my sister. She had been standing just outside the store, but came inside when she observed what was happening.

“Do you still want to get anything from here?” she asked evenly; she would tell me later how furious she had been watching the moment unfold.

A selection of racist public signs from apartheid South Africa on display at an exhibition [File: Getty Images]

“No.” I adjusted my bag on my shoulder and walked away, saying a mumbled “Thank you” to the four store associates as I did – I am not sure why, perhaps to convey the civility they had presumed me to be without.

TravellingWhileBlack – the hashtag might have been on my US Twitter feed. Except that this is a complicated hashtag, because what I just described happened not in the United States, where I now spend most of the year, but in South Africa, one of two countries I transit through whenever visiting my mother in my home country of Malawi.
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Furthermore – none of the store associates were white. Each one, including the manager I returned to the store to later speak to about the incident, was Black.

When something like that happens, race is both the first and last thing one imagines as the reason.

First – because it is always first. Living as a Black woman in the US, race is never far from my mind and a person of colour would be foolish to ever let that particular guard down completely.

Last – because I want to believe that in 2020 the reason I was presumed to be a criminal had to have been anything but that.

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Maybe I was not dressed right; maybe I did not flash my British Airways boarding pass openly enough; maybe I did not engage in loud enough mindless conversation with my sister so that they would hear my virtually flawless American accent; maybe I did not strategically angle my roller bag so that they could see the Delta Silver Medallion tag attached to the side handle.

Maybe there was something I did, some signal I gave, whereby as soon as I walked into the store I was immediately branded not as a customer but as a thief, and this by people who looked exactly like me.

Demostrators march against xenophobic attacks in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town [File: Reuters]

Xenophobic attacks
In September 2019, South Africa descended into the latest of many waves of xenophobic violence against Black Africans of foreign origin.

Shops were looted and destroyed, people were beaten in the streets, and, in at least one horrific case, a man was burned to death. More than 100 Malawians were displaced in the violence, and the Malawi government repatriated 75 citizens back to Malawi.

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The claim among the rioters and attackers was that foreign Black people were taking their jobs, their money and their marriage partners.

But Malawians in South Africa are there for the simple reason that the opportunities we want do not exist in Malawi; if they did, we would be at home, and I am indeed in the US for that reason. We migrate, take whatever opportunities we find, work long hours with few holidays, send money home occasionally, return home infrequently.

A family poses in front of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner left on a fence surrounding the White House [Reuters]

This has been the case since many great-grandfathers and great-uncles of mine, on both sides of my family, migrated by foot to South Africa back in the 1930s and 1940s to work in the mines; only now it is no longer mines but construction and transportation, and no one travels there on foot any more, now that there are direct buses between Blantyre and Johannesburg.

As a Malawian observing the violence from afar, I did not understand it.

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South Africa’s problem is not foreign Black people – it is that nearly three decades after apartheid’s dissolution as government policy, the foundations apartheid built are still very much an economic reality.

Unemployment is staggeringly high; students graduate from university into an economy with vastly fewer jobs than willing workers; and white South Africans still hold the bulk of South African land and wealth. Foreign Black people are not the reason for this state of affairs, any more than migrant workers from Latin America are the reason for the US’s continually expanding wealth gap between the rich and the poor.

Being a victim is no excuse to then turn around and make a victim of someone else. As much as I understood the rioters’ anger and frustration, I could not justify the violence directed against my people. Every non-South African Black person deciding to depart South Africa today will not change South Africa’s root issues – that the economic sins of apartheid are not being repaired quickly or aggressively enough.

The political will exists in words only. The majority of the population continues to stagnate a few slippery steps above poverty with little hope of financial security or advancement, while a select few continue to speed further into the future with bigger houses and fancier cars, casting barely a backward glance at those being left behind.

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Racism and xenophobia against ourselves – fellow Black people caught in our own varying webs of post-colonial, neo-colonial, post-authoritarian regime recoveries – are distractions from the truth of the real fight that still needs to be conquered. Burning me, the Malawian in South Africa, to death does not do a thing to change that – it serves only to illuminate the wrong darkness.

A global web of anti-Blackness
Anti-Blackness is a global phenomenon, and when I walked into that store I merely walked into one of its many iterations.

The writer and her sister on a trip to Vancouver [Photo courtesy of Michelle Chikaonda]

Certainly, this was one of colonialism’s chief exports and enduring legacies. The lie that we, the native Black people in Africa, were fundamentally inferior to the white man is what propelled colonialism’s arrival and then fuelled its multigenerational tenure on our lands; the drive to align with that lie to achieve the approval of ruling white people is a poisonous inheritance of the politics of survival that continues to be handed down.

The store associates, then, were only somewhat acting out of their own volition; but in a larger sense, they were simply caught up in a global web of anti-Blackness for which they had no choice but to act out their required roles – in that particular instance, to remind me that my expressed positionality in that moment, a Black shopper with a British Airways boarding pass, was a threat to the established order of whiteness vis a vis Blackness.

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I was not supposed to have the ability and papers to travel effortlessly between my third-world home of origin and my first-world home of choice; I was not supposed to have the kind of casual buying power that meant I could walk into a store without a plan or a budget and make a purchase without caring for the impact on my bottom line.

I was supposed to be flying the cheapest airline, not merely the airline I prefer independent of cost; and I certainly was not supposed to be travelling with a family member, my sister, who reinforced all of those realities in double.

I was not occupying my expected place in the social order of whiteness, in other words, and thus like a pathogen I had to be reminded that I was distinctly unwelcome, and eliminated. Anti-Blackness is not solely a feeling inside an individual, then – it is a systemic, entirely global, programming.

Racist legacies
In my chosen home of the US, anti-Blackness is baked into its very institutional frameworks, the immovable reality born of the twin legacies of slavery and the Jim Crow era.

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It has determined the shape and spread of cities; it predestines what jobs people can get, what homes they can buy, what schools they can send their children to, and whether or not those children matriculate to college or prison.

It is at the root of over-policing in Black communities and the disproportionately high number of Black Americans killed by police each year.

But because I am aware of this reality, I can expect it and even predict it in a way that means I will never again be caught as off guard as I was that afternoon in Johannesburg.

When I walk into American stores, I instinctively watch out of the corner of my eye to see if the store associate who has suddenly appeared is really organising that dress rack or is trailing me; I pay attention to the quality of service I receive in restaurants compared to other, paler customers. I endeavour to conduct as much of my non-work business as I can either over the internet or by phone; this way the person at the other end of the interaction cannot see what I look like and make determinations on how to deal with me based on their internalised assumptions about Black people, and thus the Black woman in front of them.

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I plan for anti-Blackness in my American life, then, in ways that I do not once my overnight flight from London to Johannesburg has crossed the Mediterranean Sea and entered African airspace. As problematic as that is, it is a necessary pragmatism that makes my American life easier. My hypervigilance to the possibility of racism never leaves me completely; after almost 18 years in the US, 36 in the world, I know better than to believe that any pocket of the world is immune to that violence.

I have experienced it even in my majority-Black home country of Malawi; if I have experienced it there, no place is completely safe. But safer, yes, and that is what threw me into a spin in that store. Because it was in majority-Black South Africa, and it was in an airport – a place to transit through, not a place with norms to learn and realities to understand. Just a place to arrive at and a place to leave, in between the two places where I live.

The table is ours
I, an archetype of a Malawian in South Africa, can either be a thief of objects or a thief of opportunities but I cannot be both, and I outright refuse the limitations of those categorisations. They are over-simple classifications for wildly complex problems, and turning the rotting eye of apartheid onto ourselves solves none of those issues, but instead allows off the hook a system that very much must remain under interrogation for the ills it continues to visit upon people who look like me – like us.

It is easy to turn on ourselves and fight for whatever haphazard scraps may fall from that very tall table; it is a lot harder to demand an equal seat at that table, indeed, our fair portion of the whole meal. But this we must.

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I must be able to shop in a South African airport and have my presence go unquestioned; I must be able to check in at a first-class airline counter and receive the right cabin assignment, without having to correct a desk agent’s reflexive assignment of an economy class seat.

The mantle of apartheid says that we, as Black people anywhere, are not equal to seats at the big table; that on the one hand, we deserve greater privilege and yet will be immediately suspect when we acquire it. But we must refuse this simplicity, in the spaces we choose to occupy, in the ways we walk through the world, in our actions towards other Black people.

The table is ours, as well as the right to exist – as complex and human as we want – while seated there.

We must do this in a way that brings all of us to the table, skinfolk and kinfolk, and make South Africa’s rainbow nation not merely an aspirational slogan, but a sustainable and permanent reality.


#Newsworthy…

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Before Restructuring, Beyond Biafra – By Ohanaeze Ndigbo

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In the piece, Coronavirus: The Nigerian Dream Cure, I wrote that the COVID-19, which “compelled people to stay within their nations and localities, illuminates the genius of the ageless adage: charity begins at home.” The lessons from the virus also strike a chord with the famous quotation: the “fierce urgency of now”, where Martin Luther King demanded action in the face of a looming catastrophe.

Nowhere are these maxims more expedient than Igboland. Despite the dearth of development in Eastern Nigeria, which has continued to pose existential threats, the Eastern leaders have made no serious attempt to harness current resources for the greater good. Instead, the Igbo politics has been overly consumed with mundane excuses, heightened with utopian ideas that focus solely on the future, most of which are envisaged to satiate the thirsty sentiments of the gullible masses, forgetting that the people must first survive before they can prevail.

An alarming reminder is the deplorable state of healthcare delivery in Igboland. For instance, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no hospital with a laboratory capable of testing for such deadly disease in the entire Eastern Nigeria. The plague also exposed the fact that the East, more than any other region, would have been in grave danger, if the COVI9-19 national lock-down had prolonged.

The common excuse for the lack of development in Igboland in the recent times is the structure of the country. Interestingly, the loudest echo chambers for the current campaign from the East are some of the very politicians who held sway during the 16-year rule under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) but did practically nothing about restructuring. I mean, the very same cabal who are still clad in the same corrupt toga used in colluding with contractors to loot development facilities in the region, especially during the economic boom under Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, “an Igbo adopted son.”

Ironically, some of such looted projects, for example, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, 2nd River Niger Bridge, Zik Mausoleum, and the major Eastern highways and seaports are currently undergoing real work under President Muhammadu Buhari, the perceived grinch. The malfeasance under the PDP becomes more manifest when considered that the East is witnessing measurable infrastructural development under the current regime, despite meagre resources—and, of course, amid Buhari’s misguided vendetta against the region for not voting him.

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Highlighting these missed opportunities must not be misconstrued as an opposition to restructuring. Far from that! Nigeria, as currently structured, is a time-bomb. True federalism has the potential to reposition the country and unleash her abundant resources to greatness, but the process to the change must not hinder progress. It is also true that the ageless marginalization of the Igbo by federal authorities combined to stifle development opportunities in the East. But any innocent analysis equally begs the questions:

To what extent can we blame others for the lack of unity of purpose in Igboland? To what extent can we blame others for the failure to articulate game-changing policies to confront the tap root of the problem, by provoking the Igbo people to invest in their native land that is not even up to 30% developed? Worse still, who (or what structure) is to blame for running aground strategic ventures once jointly owned by the Igbo states, for example, the Presidential Hotel Enugu, Nigercem, Golden Guinea Brewery, Premier Brewery, Cooperative Bank, African Continental Bank, Orient Bank, Progressive Bank, and the Daily Star, to name just a few?

The simple answer is that mere change is not a sole panacea to progress. After all, it was not long ago that different groups within Nigeria, including those in Igbo land, were in wild jubilation for being granted their own states or local government areas. Despite the fact that all federal statutory allocations and constituency projects due to the states and local governments, as well as their internally generated revenues, have been under the control of the native politicians themselves, there are no tangible projects to show for the trillions.

Leadership is action, not excuses. The Igbo politicians should, therefore, not wait till after the restructure of Nigeria before embarking on an economic a dry-run in the remote semblance of the preferred structure—at least to stem the existential threat of mass unemployment and the consequential rising tide of crimes in the region. Governors Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo and Sam Onunaka Mbakwe did not hide behind quotidian excuses of the current structure before performing wonders within just 4 years in the Second Republic. Moreover, the Nnewi model has since rubbished the common excuse that the Igbo must have a functional seaport before it can thrive. This goes without saying that many thriving Igbo destinations, for example, Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano do not have seaports.

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The apparent leadership problem within Igboland is neither lack of people with original visions nor hard work. In fact, there is an abundance of private sector-driven templates, featuring endearing ideas, the latest being the South East Regional Economic Development Company (SEREDEC), led by Barth Nnaji; and the South East Stabilization Fund, championed by the Ohaneze Ndigbo. Sadly, such visions are always derailed by an insecure Igbo political cabal.

That is where and why the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) made the title of this thesis. For sure, the IPOB deserves profound praise for finally recognizing that the real enemies are within. But the group should equally recognize that the real battle belongs at the polling booths. Therefore, instead of banal threats of election boycotts, which only serve to disfranchise the ordinary people, the IPOB should key into a growing democratic revolution to uproot the status quo across Nigeria—to ensure, at base, that good people are elected to positions of power. These political positions, of course, include the 2023 presidency which, by equitable consensus, is the turn of the South-East zone.

Further, development has never been the sole province of elected officials. Thus, instead of fraternizing with the fanatical property acquisitions outside the Biafra land by the Igbo, paraded under the façade of quasi-republican capitalism, the IPOB might as well capitalize on its overflowing influence to mitigate the suffering of its masses, by leading an investment revolution at home—and NOW.

The gist is woven in an Igbo adage which holds that a child who would grow to greatness typically shows some sense of acumen at an early stage. Therefore, before restructure, and beyond Biafra; even as it is vitally important to admit that the Nigerian leadership crisis is not devoid of ethnic schisms, where each group and generation potently share blame, a paradigm shift in perception and approach has become very imperative. The Igbo must recognize the crying need to persevere and rekindle the competitive spirit, ingenuity, and the mental fortitude needed to unleash immediate investment at home, so that the Igbo masses can even survive before the promised land.


#Newsworthy…

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Why Child Marriage Should End – By Di’Ja

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Nigerian singer, Di’ja has taken to social media to urge parents to allow girls grow up before they get married.

Taking to her Twitter page, Hadiza Blell, better known by her stage name Di’Ja, wrote that if people really mean well for the young girl, they should allow her to at least clock 18 years of age before engaging her in grown woman things.

The mother of three also drew awareness to Obstetric fistula, an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina, which is very high in young girls who married early.

See what she wrote below;

“Our young girls need to be allowed to grow up before doing grown man and women things like marriage and anything to do with s3xu.al reproduction. If you really mean well you will at least give her until 18 years old, while honestly guiding her spirit. Not everyone means well.

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT OBSTETRIC FISTULA? Very high in young girls early marriages whose reproductive systems have not fully developed. Ya Allah we ask you for guidance. Our children cannot keep going through pain because of lack of understanding.”

Our young girls need to be allowed to grow up before doing grown man and women things like marriage and anything to do with sexual reproduction. If you really mean well you will at least give her until 18 years old, while honestly guiding her spirit. Not everyone means well.


#Newsworthy…

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APC, House of Riot – Will NEC sack Oshiomhole? – By Timothy Enietan-Matthews

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The leadership crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to have come to a head with the reported recognition of Chief Victor Giadom as the authentic acting National Chairman of the party by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.

The crisis, which has been long running, assumed a more pronounced proportion last week when the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, upheld the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had, before the judgment of the court, engaged in a running battle with several elements in the party, including governors and key members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), but on several occasions, survived the onslaughts against him like a cat with nine lives.

His bitter struggle with his former ally and successor in office, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, for the soul of the Edo chapter of the party, leading to his suspension by his ward, however, set the stage for his current travails.

As the leader of the party, Buhari’s recognition of Giadom, whose position as Deputy National Secretary of the party, had earlier been declared vacant on the ground that he resigned shortly before the 2019 general elections to contest for the office of Deputy Governor of Rivers State, has no doubt tactically put the air out of efforts at salvaging whatever may remain of Oshiomhole’s survival strategies as the Chairman of the party.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “The President has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as Acting National Chairman.

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“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the President will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.

“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.

“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly.”

With this, Giadom, who no doubt has the support of several elements in the party that are opposed to the reign of Oshiomhole and his style, may have dealt a fatal blow to the ego of the former labour leader and clipped his wings.

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The present scenario may, however, have its rippling effect on the party, negatively and positively, depending on what divide major players in the APC power game belong.

The convening of a virtual/physical meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party by Giadom, which had been endorsed by President Buhari, may no doubt turn out to be a master stroke by him and his backers. Oshiomhole had stubbornly avoided convening NEC meetings, to among other things, give legal backing to many of his actions through ratification as provided for by the party’s Constitution.

The refusal by Oshiomhole to convene the NEC, has been one of the issues used by his traducers to attack him, labeling him autocratic. It is expected that the meeting will provide the needed encouragement for anti-Oshiomhole forces in the party to finally go for the kill. Will that happen?

The unfolding scenario does not just point to a bad omen for Oshiomhole and his hold on the party, it also potentially stands as a fatally disruptive development for a number of projections and actions taken before now, while at the same time, holding out the chance to advance some other interests in the party.

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Will the unfolding scenario have any major impact on the outcome of the Edo State Governorship Election Screening Committee? This is one major question many Nigerians and supporters of the APC will be asking as the party’s NEC holds today.

Recall that Governor Obaseki was stopped from contesting the primary of the APC by the screening committee of the party, allegedly on the order of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had tacitly given his support to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and who eventually was declared winner of the exercise. Giadom, however, overruled the decision of the screening committee to stop Obaseki immediately he declared himself the acting National Chairman of the party.

It is also believed that both Giadom and Obaseki are staunch allies of the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, while Ize-Iyamu belongs to the camp of the embattled Oshiomhole, making Ize-Iyamu’s position in the new scheme of things, if it stands, a bit shaky. It is however not certain if the party will be willing to take another risk that may lead to another Rivers or Zamfara scenario.

Is Oshiomhole finally biting the dust?

Giving the barrage of opposition to Oshiomhole’s leadership of the party, especially from members of the influential Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), will it be safe to say that the former Edo State Governor’s reign as the National Chairman of the party has come to an end?

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Will the NEC meeting bar him from approaching the Supreme Court to seek redress? Will NEC members turn their back on him, as some already did?

Judging from what has been happening in the party overtime, these are, no doubt, high possibilities. And with the possible boycott of today’s NEC meeting by pro-Oshiomhole members of the NWC, his fate may just have been sealed.

The pro-Oshiomhole NWC said in a statement signed by Hillard Etta, the National Vice Chairman (South-South) and Waziri Bulama, the acting National Secretary on Wednesday night: The statement read, “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.

“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom bothers on illegality and criminality.

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“The National Working Committee regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional national executive committee convened by Chief Victor Giadom.

“We believe that attending such a meeting will amount to embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the constitution of our great party. “

For informed and keen followers of happenings in APC, the recent curious silence of the governors elected on the platform of the party, especially in the last one week, speaks volume. It must also be noted that the governors had made efforts to save Obaseki, who was one of them before he dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), without success.

For many of the governors, Oshiomhole has been overbearing and excessive in the handling of the party’s affairs, and had made several efforts at ousting him from office.

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The outspoken disposition of the Director General of the PGF, Salisu Lukman, is believed in many quarters to bear the seal of approval of the governors and as such they are most likely to use this opportunity to finally nail Oshiomhole’s coffin.

Lukman said shortly after the Obaseki was disqualified: “It is clear that, APC leadership as currently constituted under the leadership of Comrade Oshiomhole is imprudent and cannot be entrusted with the task of leading the party.

“Comrade Oshiomhole’s NWC has hawked the soul of the party to political buccaneers whose narrow interest is just about unfairly winning elections.

“APC does not belong to anybody. It is a product of sacrifice by leaders and members of our old legacy parties.

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“Nobody should contemplate leaving the party on account of the rascality going on in the party under Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership. All members of the party and lovers of democracy in Nigeria must rise against what is going on in APC. It is a struggle for the soul of APC.”

Like Oshiomhole, like Giadom

APC NWC tackles Giadom over NEC meeting

Though President Muhammadu Buhari has recognized Victor Giadom as the authentic acting National Chairman of the APC and has endorsed the NEC meeting called by him, the victory celebration may be short lived if pro-Oshiomhole forces in the party decide to go after him.

Giadom’s recognition may most likely throw a new leadership crisis in the party, as Oshiomhole supporters will not fold their hands and allow a member who, aside his purported resignation from the NWC, has been suspended by his state chapter of the party.

A faction of the APC in Rivers State led by Senator Magnus Abe had recently suspended Giadom from the party, and immediately nominating a replacement for him at the NWC in the person of a former Attorney General in the state, Worgu Boms.

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Aside his suspension by the Magnus Abe led faction, two High Courts in Rivers State had also sealed his suspension, making his leadership of the APC a shaky one and akin to that of Oshiomhole. Will Giadom also suffer the fate of Oshiomhole, thereby continuing the recent instabilities in the party? Only time can tell!

Also left to be seen is how the President Buhari-backed acting National Chairman of the APC hopes to relate and carry along those who have openly opposed him and worked against his emergence.

Will Giadom follow in the footsteps of Oshiomhole and embark on a regime of vengeance and high handedness? What becomes of the 17 members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole? How would he work with them, especially Hilliard Etta, Waziri Bulama, Lanre Issa-Onilu amongst others?

More importantly, what will be Giadom’s disposition towards ‘enemies from home’ as represented by Magnus Abe and Iko Aguma, who suspended him from the party and named a replacement for him?

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Can the emergence of Giadom put to an end the protracted crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the APC, or will it further fuel it, especially with the unrelenting and adamant vigour with which the opposing camps have been pursuing their different positions. Questions and more questions only the players and their actions on the coming days can answer.

Rotimi Amaechi, the new kingmaker?

Those in PDP are rich men, we in APC are poor people –Amaechi

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi must be a happy man at the moment for successfully enthroning one of his close allies at the helm of affairs of the ruling party.

Giadom belongs to the Amaechi led faction of the party in Rivers and had actually picked him as the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the state before the intra-party crisis in the state chapter robbed it of participation in the 2019 governorship election.

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For many, Amaechi had been the unseen hand propping Giadom on in his many bitter battles with other members of the APC NWC, and his efforts seem to have paid off handsomely.

Amaechi’s active involvement in the crisis came to the fore immediately the NWC declared Giadom’s office vacant, as his faction in Rivers came out smoking, declaring that Giadom is not just the Deputy National Secretary of the party but also the acting National Chairman of the party. They also declared the state chapter chairman of the party, Iko Aguma, removed from office and replaced.

Shortly after that, a video emerged online with some youths spoiling for war, with a threat to burn down Rivers State if anything is done against the minister. It became curious why the threat, because as at that time, nothing much had been associated with Amaechi actively in the national leadership crisis.

As it stands, Amaechi may be having the last laugh, and enjoying the moment, even if it is temporary!

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Will Oshiomhole give up trying?

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a known fighter; a man who never gives up trying!

Right from his labour activism days, he has been known to be a long distance runner when it comes to struggles, and that has been his staying power since he became the National Chairman of the APC, fighting battles on different fronts and surviving. Will this be different?

Though the Court of Appeal has spoken, Oshiomhole still has another legal window, the Supreme Court, and as expected, he may approach the apex court for a final adjudication. If he wins at the Supreme Court, the stage would now be set for a final onslaught against the ‘renegades’ in the party. Time, only time will tell!

2023 in focus?

The consensus among many Nigerians is that the leadership crisis rocking the ruling party is closely related to the 2023 presidential elections and the attempt by several of the top players in the party to properly put themselves in pole position for advantage.

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According to analysts, the current efforts at dislodging the Oshiomhole-led leadership of the party may not be unconnected with powers that be to weaken the support base of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is believed to be eyeing the presidency come 2023.

Oshiomhole is a know ally of Tinubu, who has enjoyed his support right from his struggle to become Edo State Governor, and Tinubu is believed to have played a prominent role in his emergence and stay as National Chairman. For many, successfully edging out Oshiomhole from office will put some spanners in the works for Tinubu’s ambition, a possibility that may not be far from the truth.

How the acclaimed National Leader of the APC responds to the current crisis is yet to be seen, as he has maintained his now famous silence in the face of all the intrigues playing out.

As it stands, Nigerians will be waiting with baited breath for the outcome of today’s NEC meeting of the ruling party to know if the APC will finally nail the coffin of its garrulous chairman.


#Newsworthy…

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God’s spiritual relationship with COVID-19 – By Iyabo.

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Name: Iyabo.

Age: Undisclosed

Marital Status: Married

Language: Egun, Yoruba

Gender: Female

Occupation: Undisclosed.

Community/District: Mowo, Badagry Lagos State, Nigeria.

Interviewer: Noble Reporters


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As the troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic persist, NobleReporters correspondence, Olamide Noble and Adii Noble went for community interviews (opinion poll) whereby seek people’s opinions on COVID-19 and possible solutions.


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Mummy, do you know what causes COVID-19?

  • I don’t know what could have cause COVID-19.

So, ma you just know there is COVID-19?

  • (Chuckles), we only heard that there is COVID-19, we don’t know what could have be its cause.

How do you see this Lockdown? What can you say of it?

  • Sighs! It’s for our safety.

And you support it, do you think it is a good idea?

  • Hah!.. what can we do, what can we say since it’s an order from above, all we pray for is God’s grace to overcome this pandemic.

Ok, Talking of Lockdown, was it a good move to have shut worship centres? (Churches and Mosques).

  • No! I disagree, it wasn’t a nice move, since we all needed prayers so this disaster can vanish. Not going to worship centres is now turning us to pagans.

Ma, according to you, can you tell us if there is truly COVID-19 or not?

  • I don’t know if there is coronavirus or not – I will not be infected, only God knows the truth.

Can we say COVID-19 is the reason for inadequate power supply in the community?

  • I don’t know, maybe the PHCN are also affected by the pandemic.

#Newsworthy…

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