Kenya: Mosque bombing kills at least three in Nairobi

A man injured in a bomb blast is helped by rescue workers as he is transported to a hospital (AFP Photo / Stringer)

At least three people have been killed and eight wounded after a large explosion in Nairobi. It’s the third deadly blast in two months popularly attributed to militant group al-Shabaab.

­Emergency teams have been sent after the explosion, near a mosque in the majority Somali district of Eastleigh, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

A grenade was thrown into a crowd of worshippers as they left the mosque after evening prayers. A number of demonstrators took to the streets after the the explosion, but have been contained by police as emergency teams rushed the injured to hospital.

“There are eight others in hospital. Among them is a member of parliament,” the Red Cross reported.

The Friday explosion followed a recent roadside bomb blast in the same district, which killed one and injured eight, AFP reported.

A November bus bombing in the district took another seven lives, injured dozens, and provoked ethnic clashes.

No group has claimed responsibility for the series of attacks so far, although the Kenya-based Islamist group Muslim Youth Center praised the recent blast on Twitter.

The group supports the al-Qaeda offshoot al-Shabaab, a militant group that has recently struggled with Kenyan government forces but has denied involvement in previous bombings.

Al-Shabaab’s militants are often blamed for attacks in Kenya, AFP said.

The fundamentalist Islamist group has vowed revenge after Kenyan troops entered Somalia in 2011. In October last year, Nairobi declared that it had the right to defend itself after a number of militant kidnappings of Europeans inside Kenya. Initially, the Somali government welcomed the support from “our Kenyan brothers.”

As of 2012, the Kenyan contingent is aided by another 18,000 African Union soldiers supporting the UN-backed government.

A man believed to be African dropped dead from the aircraft undercarriage in U.K.

 

Unidentified: The man is believed to be African and aged between 20 and 30 years oldUnidentified: The man is believed to be African and aged between 20 and 30 years old

Detectives are releasing images of a man they wish to identify after his body fell from the under carriage of an incoming flight to Heathrow airport.

Police were called to Portman Avenue, Mortlake, which lies on the south bank of the Thames, at 8am on Sunday, September 9, following reports that a body had fallen from the sky.

The man has never been identified, but he is believed to be African and aged between 20 and 30 years old.

The police today released two images of the man, after ‘substantial inquiries’ failed to identify the man.

It is thought the man’s body dropped from the aircraft undercarriage as the plane came in to land.

Aviation experts say the man was probably dead before he hit the ground either because he had been crushed by the retracting landing gear shortly after the plane took off, or because of the extreme cold at high altitude.

The man, who was 5 feet 4 inches tall and of slight build, was not a member of air crew or a passenger.

At the time, residents on the tree-lined road in Mortlake, which is less than ten miles from the airport, spoke of their shock on finding the body after hearing a loud bang.

One said: ‘‘It is unbelievable. The first thing I thought when I saw the body was that it must have fallen from quite a height.’

A post-mortem was held at Kingston Hospital Mortuary on September 11 and gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.

 

A spokesman said: ‘It is possible he was from Angola as he was found with Angolan currency in his possession and inquiries have established that a flight from Luanda, Angola was overhead prior to the body being found.’

The man was wearing jeans, a grey hoody and white trainers when he fell, and he has a tattoo on his left arm of a distinctive emblem with the letters ‘ Z ‘ and ‘G ‘ clearly visible.

Astonishing: The body of the man, thought to be a stowaway in his 30s and from North Africa, was found on a car parked in a residential road near London Heathrow Airport and later taken away by authoritiesAstonishing: The body of the man, thought to be a stowaway in his 30s and from North Africa, was found on a car parked in a residential road near London Heathrow Airport and later taken away by authorities

Probe: Forensics were on the scene in the affluent London suburb after the extraordinary incident on SundayProbe: Forensics were on the scene in the affluent London suburb after the extraordinary incident

 

Distinctive: Police hope this tattoo may help identify the man who fell from the skyDistinctive: Police hope this tattoo may help identify the man who fell from the sky

 

Location: Home: The only evidence left on the scene in Mortlake, south west London, was dark smears on the pavement where the blood was cleared up

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said a stowaway in an aircraft undercarriage was unlikely to survive as he would either be crushed by the wheels after take-off or freeze in temperatures as low as minus 40C (minus 40F).

He said: ‘The chances of survival for a stowaway are very slim, particularly in the recess of the landing gear.

‘I don’t know of anyone who has survived being stowed away on a long-haul flight.

‘When the landing gear comes down at the other end, a few miles from the runway and about 2,000ft in the air, if there is a person who had died they would fall out.’

The discovery came just over a fortnight after the body of a stowaway was found in the landing gear recess of a BA plane arriving at Heathrow from Cape Town.

Anyone with information is asked to call officers on 020 8247 7254 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

President Jacob Zuma depended on benefactors to fund a lifestyle – report

Jacob Zuma

The 490-page study lays bare the scale of Mr Zuma’s reliance on numerous benefactors – including Nelson Mandela who sent him R1m (£72,000) – in the period when he was deputy president until 2005. Chief among the donors was Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessman who served as his financial adviser and was sent to prison for paying Mr Zuma in return for favours.

The audit, prepared by the accountancy firm KPMG, would have formed a central plank of the case against Mr Zuma if he had stood trial for 16 counts of alleged corruption, fraud, tax evasion and racketeering. He always protested his innocence and, in the event, all the charges were dropped shortly before he became president in 2009, so the case was never tested in court.

The study, leaked to the “Mail and Guardian”, a South African weekly, details how Mr Zuma received 783 separate payments from Shaik or the businessman’s company, totalling over Rand 4 million (£288,000).

As for what Shaik might have expected in return, the High Court convicted him of corruption in 2005. Referring to the payments to Mr Zuma, Mr Justice Hilary Squires ruled: “No sane or rational businessman would conduct his business on such a basis without expecting some benefit from it”. the judge added: “Zuma did in fact intervene to try and assist Shaik’s business interests.” Shaik, for his part, argued that the payments were only loans designed to help an old friend.

Mr Zuma’s dependence on businessmen and friends went even further than had been thought, according to the report. It discloses that Mr Zuma was incapable of managing his own finances, leaving a trail of terrible credit ratings, overdrawn bank accounts and unpaid credit card bills.

“Generally, the financial position of Zuma deteriorated over time,” reads the report, adding that his own “lifestyle” and the demands of his “immediate family and other individuals” meant that “Zuma’s cash requirements by far exceeded his ability to fund such requirements from his salary”.

Shaik and many others came to the rescue. Mr Mandela himself was a benefactor, sending a cheque for R1m (£72,000) a few days after Mr Zuma had been sacked as deputy president in 2005. A French arms company, Thomson-CSF, later renamed Thales, also paid Mr Zuma R250,000 (£18,000).

The report “paints the most detailed and distressing picture available of a kept politician, not just unable, but unwilling to live within his means, dependent on an array of benefactors to fund his lifestyle and willing to grant some of them favours in return,” said the Mail and Guardian.

The African National Congress (ANC) will almost certainly re-elect Mr Zuma as its leader when the party gathers for a conference on Dec 16. This almost assures him of a second term as the country’s president when the next election is held in 2014.

Allies of the president said that little new evidence had emerged and hinted at a plot to derail the ANC conference. Mac Maharaj, spokesman for Mr Zuma, said: “Much of the information that is being headlined seems to have been in the public arena already, from the Schabir Shaik trial. I’m finding it strange that it is coming up now, in this fashion.”

But the opposition Democratic Alliance, which has urged an inquiry into how the charges against Mr Zuma were dropped, demanded that the president take leave of absence until his name was cleared.

The report also shows how Mr Zuma’s benefactors paid for the first improvements to his home in Nkandla in rural KwaZulu-Natal province. It has since emerged that £15 million of public money was spent on upgrading this homestead after he became president. Mr Zuma says this was necessary for security reasons relating to his official position. This week, he told the Daily Telegraph: “There is a racial mentality that an African cannot build a house, a comfortable house. I’ve been building there for years. This is a family building.”
Telegraph

Egypt’s Democratic Dictator?

By: Omar Ashour

In this photo released by Middle East News Agency, the Egyptian official news agency, President-elect Mohammed Morsi, shakes hands with an Egyptian police general in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The military has pledged to turn power over to a civilian government once a new president is named. On Sunday, June 24, 2012, Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was declared Egypt’s first freely elected president in modern history. (AP Photo/Middle East News Agency, HO)

CAIRO – Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever elected civilian president, recently granted himself sweeping temporary powers in order, he claims, to attain the objectives of the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. But the decrees incited strong opposition from many of the revolutionary forces that helped to overthrow Mubarak (as well as from forces loyal to him), with protests erupting anew in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Morsi has thus been put in the odd position of having to defend his decision against the protesters while simultaneously making common cause with them. “I share your dream of a constitution for all Egyptians and with three separate powers: executive, legislative, and judicial,” he told his opponents. “Whoever wants Egyptians to lose this opportunity, I will stop him.” So, was Morsi’s “auto-coup” necessary to realize the revolution’s avowedly democratic goals?

The new Constitutional Declaration, the Revolution Protection Law, and the new presidential decrees have several aims:

To remove the public prosecutor, a Mubarak-era holdover who failed to convict dozens of that regime’s officials who had been charged with corruption and/or abuse of power;

To protect the remaining elected and indirectly elected institutions (all of which have an Islamist majority) from dissolution by Constitutional Court judges (mostly Mubarak-era holdovers).

To bring about retrials of Mubarak’s security generals;

To compensate and provide pensions for the victims of repression during and after the revolution.

While most Egyptians may support Morsi’s aims, a dramatic expansion of presidential power in order to attain them was, for many a step too far. Given Egypt’s extreme polarization and distrust between its Islamist and secular forces, Morsi should have anticipated the protests. Suspicion of the powerful, after all, has been one of the revolution’s animating factors. Another is a “zero-sum” attitude: any achievement by Morsi is perceived by his opponents as a loss.

The anti-Morsi forces are sharply divided ideologically and politically. The Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal reformer, has little in common with Ahmed El-Zind, the head of the Judges Club and a Mubarak loyalist. But the anti-Morsi forces that backed the revolution regard the price of cleansing the judiciary as too high, arguing that the constitutional declaration will lead to dictatorship.

Indeed, the declaration protects presidential decrees from judicial review (although Morsi stipulated that it pertains only to “sovereignty” matters, and stressed its temporary nature). It also gives the president emergency-like power to fight vague threats, such as “endangering the life of the nation.” Only if the new draft constitution is upheld in a popular referendum on December 15 will these provisions be annulled.

But the opposition factions have not been adhering to democratic principles, either. Mostly comprising electoral losers and remnants of Mubarak’s regime, some aim to topple Morsi, not just get him to backtrack on his decree. ElBaradei, for example, “expects” the army to do its national duty and intervene if “things get out of hand” – hardly a compelling democratic stance, given the army’s track record.

Morsi’s decrees have undoubtedly polarized Egyptian politics further. The worst-case scenario is street clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi hardliners. Historically, such clashes have often been sparks for civil war (for example, Spain in 1936 or Tajikistan in 1992) or brutal military coups (as in Indonesia in 1965 and Turkey in 1980).

For Morsi and his supporters, it was imperative to neutralize the Constitutional Court judges, whose ruling last June dissolved the first freely elected, post-revolution People’s Assembly (the parliament’s lower house). According to the Morsi camp, the politicized Court intended to dissolve the Consultative Council (the upper house) and the Constitutional Assembly, as some of its judges publicly hinted. Likewise, the sacked public prosecutor had failed to present any solid evidence against those of Mubarak’s security chiefs and officers who were accused of killing protestors, leading to acquittals for almost all of them.

As a president who was elected with only a 51.7% majority, Morsi needs to be sensitive to the demands of his supporters, mainly the Islamists and revolutionaries victimized by the security forces. But, for many revolutionaries, there were other ways to sack a tainted prosecutor and cleanse the judiciary. For example, a new law regulating the judiciary has been a demand of the revolution since its early weeks.

For Morsi, the dilemma was that the Constitutional Court could strike down the law, rendering the effort meaningless. He had already backed off twice: once in July 2012, when he abandoned his effort, under pressure from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to reinstate the elected parliament; and once when he tried to remove the public prosecutor by making him Egypt’s ambassador to the Vatican.

Morsi’s “Constitutional Declaration” was a decisive – though undemocratic, polarizing, and thus politically costly – step to break the impasse. And, while such decrees have led to dictatorships, not democracies, in other countries undergoing political transition, none had a politicized judicial entity that played the role of spoiler in the democratization process.

Indeed, almost two years after the revolution began, Egypt’s security forces have not been reformed in any meaningful way. Now Morsi, in his effort to force out the prosecutor, will have to avoid opening another front with the Mubarak-era security generals, whom he will need to protect state institutions and maintain a minimum level of public security.

The security sector may, it seems, emerge from this crisis as its only winner. It will enforce the rule of law, but only for a price. That price will be reflected in the constitution, as well as in the unwritten rules of Egypt’s new politics. This constitutes a much more serious and lasting threat to Egypt’s democratization than do Morsi’s temporary decrees.

Omar Ashour is Director of the Middle East Graduate Studies Program, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. He is the author of The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements and From Good Cop to Bad Cop: The Challenge of Security Sector Reform in Egypt.

Omar Ashour is Director of the Middle East Graduate Studies Program, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. He is the author of The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements and From Good Cop to Bad Cop: The Challenge of Security Sector Reform in Egypt.

A Jewish State that still couldn’t be

Successive leaders of Israel have been running out of workable ideas and sustainable policy objectives for more than half a century since the forceful creation in 1948 of their would-be the only Jewish State of Israel in the middle of Arab states that were frozen in time and space. The Zionist idea propelling its foundation was to secure a “Jewish homeland” in the so-called “Promised Land’ or “Holy Land” that may further encompass territories of now existing Arab states. Insane irredentism aside, logically one would understand the need for a homeland and the legitimate right for survival and self-defense after having badly suffered under European anti-Semitic hatred and persecution against the Diaspora, but what I find unfathomable is the Israeli permanent choice of war that will eventually lead to self-destruction and, therefore, self-defeat. For decades, the only state policy that makes sense to the Israeli political and military establishment is the motto “do not run out of ammunitions and an Arab target”. Is that a thought-through or intelligent strategy for a minority tribe in the region to survive for centuries to come? Really? What has happened to politics as the art of possibilities?

On the one hand, despite the opinions of many, including the enormously arrogant and disrespectful Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the contrary, Israel is a small satellite country that faithfully and reliably served the strategic interests of the United States in the Middle East at certain times since its establishment- a US “strategic asset” as Henry Kissinger once termed it on US-Israeli close relations. That trend of thinking belonged to the era of the Cold War, where Western powers saw Israeli as an ally against the spread of communism in the Middle East. It is no longer valid in a post Cold War world. Arab resources and cooperation are more important today to the United States than the State of Israel. The US has still to re-visit and re-assess its policy of blindly propping up Israel after the end of the Cold War, clearly showing US foreign policy weakness in the region and their inability to chart out honest arbitration strategy and roadmap for peace for all inhabitants of the area.

For the Israelis, the irony here is that for decades Israeli leaders could not figure out and learn how to free themselves from the doomed and destructive situation of being permanently used and dictated to by US in exchange for expensive military weaponry and dangerous technology including nuclear arsenal to kill massively if threatened.

One is also tempted to ask the legitimate question: If Israel could not hang on forever to its current abysmal conditions of constant security threat coming from human suicide bombs and centuries-old Arab hatred of their Jewish cousins without the US lopsided support, why is the US not confronting and challenging the self-interest of its military-industrial complex to bring about lasting peace in the region? Obviously, that would play out counter to the bottom-line of the industry and the USA economy as whole. For that imperialistic and greedy industry to survive, a world of no global tensions, no hostilities between and within nations, no wars, means no profits, and therefore, no business. This is good for all arms manufacturing countries to sell their lethal stuff as an indirect way for world population growth control as well. Poverty and lack of opportunities in many developing countries together with artificially shortened lifespan of citizens, makes it difficult to feed the explosive population of our planet. This inhumane global strategy of the “First World” sounds quite plausible to US policy-makers and their allies to justify the means in continuing support for the failed policies of the Zionist leaders.

On the other hand, despite their rich history of civilization and ancient wisdom, the Arabs have been nursing frozen minds far too long and losing common sense and practical thinking to accept their blunt world reality that their Jewish brothers have been with them since time immemorial and there is no way they are going away and certainly nowhere else for them to go. Instead, the Arabs chose in their millions to whine forever about their never ending suffering and injustices while blaming others for their misfortune. They never seem to contemplate the benefits of peaceful co-existence of all peoples in the Middle East and their demographic advantages given a negotiated settlement of the historical disputes. This reminds us of the profound statement by the French Writer and Philosopher, François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), who was quoted as saying once, “common sense is not so common”.

One would agree that Somalia with all its extremely bad news and world record-breaking problems of a failed mini-state in Africa is more understandable and less cumbersome to fix than the so-called the “intractable” conflagrations and man-made calamities in the Middle East.

So, once again and business as usual, you read about alarming news stories of the day of improvised Hamas rockets falling on Israeli and occupied and heavily densely populated urban cities, and Israeli war machines in action with devastating results of innocent lives lost and indiscriminate destruction of public institutions and private properties with no endgame to resolve the underlying problem. You always hear the repeat of the old cliché statements by some world leaders supporting it that Israel has legitimate rights for self-defense, while others passively suffice to say that Israel used disproportionate force. And that is it, until the next round of aimless flare-ups. That is not only morally wrong, but it is also stupid and unsustainable. It is quite irrational for the peoples of the region to continue that kind of existence. They have to think better to salvage themselves from the self-inflicted paralysis of the political will and Middle East inferno syndrome.
Gaza under Israeli bmbardment
Gaza city under Israeli bombardment

As the new round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel flared up recently, I surprisingly came across a rare sort of opinion in US news media in a new article under the title, Why Israel’s Gaza Campaign Is Doomed posted in Slate.com by a Janine Zacharia, Friday, Nov 16, 2012 The author convincingly argues that the Israeli war strategy on Gaza could lead her to more isolation and insecurity. I couldn’t put that essence of the matter any better. We already witnessed the outcome of that conflagration, prompting the world community to grant statehood to the Palestinians. One can understand that the initial phase of the creation of the State of Israel required self-defense to withstand the Arab onslaught and survive, but to continue the same tactics and strategy still after two-third of a half century of its existence with Israel more insecure than ever before under the current Middle East political turmoil clearly proves strategic policy failure and a drain on US tax-payers’ money. The overwhelming vote of the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state in an occupied land is also a world community’s recognition of abysmal failure of USA-Israeli policies.

One of the ironies of today’s international diplomacy is the fact that the United States of America while publicly siding with Israeli, defying all tenets of fair arbitration, is engaged in mediating the two parties to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This double standard continues to encourage Zionist leadership to defy world opinion and almost all UN resolutions on the conflict. This leaves no other viable alternative option for the Palestinians other than to seek a UN General Assembly’s recognition of their territories as a symbolic observer member state of the world community, successfully securing moral victory over intransigent Israeli resistance to the principle of the two-state solution and another round of a humiliating failure for US diplomacy in the Middle East.In a tit-for tat maneuver, Israel retaliated against the recent Palestinian status upgrading resolution of the UN General-Assembly in the same fashion it traditionally retaliates the Hamas’ rocket attacks by announcing building more illegal Jewish settlements in most sensitive areas within West Bank, cutting and sealing off communities in order to derail the very idea of establishing the two-states living side by side in peace that was agreed upon. The action is clearly a setback that makes further negotiations between the two parties difficult, if not impossible, with all the legal ramifications of now an occupied state with the rights to seek the persecution of Israeli war perpetrators in Palestine and a further internationalization of the conflict.The Jews are still seeking a Jewish State that still couldn’t be.

Ismail Haji Warsame

The Author is the former Puntland Presidency Chief of Staff and a long-time participant of most of the Somali National Reconciliation Processes since 1995. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada, and can be reached at: E-Mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Tribalism: Somalia and Somaliland’s political disease

By: Allin Nuh

HARGEISA  – Looking back at Somalia in the 1960’s tribes was influential but no way near as influential as it is today. The big tribes, Hawiye and Darod, were always going for Presidency in Somalia simply because of their size and sheer dominance, not because what they can bring to Somalia and their political experience. It was once rumoured that when the British left Somaliland in 1960, they had advised Somali leaders to give important and decisive roles to the Muse Carre sub clan, who originate from the Isaaq Tribe. This was completely ignored by the ‘big tribes’ and they began to isolate the Isaaq tribe. Amongst other isolated tribes was the Gadabursi (Samaroon) tribe who were barely recognised by the rest of Somalia. With all this tribalism happening in the 1960s and onwards, separation and violence in tribalism was inevitable.

The Isaaq Tribe who originate from North Western Somalia, now known as Somaliland, are the third biggest tribe in Somalia. They settle in large urban areas like Hargeisa, Burco and Berbera. They worked very closely with the British Colonists in the 1920-60’s to make a better and more peaceful Somaliland, which was eventually successful before joining alliance with the Somali Republic. The areas which they settled in was never recognised and developed by the Somali Government. Instead it was seen as an area that should be completely ignored because the Isaaq people live there. It only took the Isaaq people a few years to regret joining alliance with the Somali Republic because they never knew they were going to be isolated like this.

The Hawiye tribe, who have most of its people in Southern Somalia, are the second biggest tribe in Somalia. They settle in large urban areas like Kismayo, Mogadishu and Barawa. They have been the most dominant tribe in Somalia in the last 60-70 years and hold the most prestigious roles in the government today. Five of the last eleven presidents of Somalia have been from the Hawiye tribe, which demonstrates their authority within Somalia.

The Darod tribe, who reside from so many different parts of Somalia and even parts of Ethiopia, are the largest tribe in Somalia. They hold all of Ogedania (Eastern Ethiopia) which belong to the Darod clan, Ogaden. They also hold Puntland, an autonomous state in Somalia which is occupied by the Majerteen, Warsangeli and Dhulbahante clans. They occupy the biggest regions in Somalia, Sanaag, Sool, Mudug, Bari and parts of Cayn. The most recognised and probably the most hated man in Somalia, Siad Barre, comes from the Darod sub-clan, Marexaan.

If you look closely each and every single self independent state in Somalia is based on the most popular tribe and/or clan. Puntland for example, majority of its inhabitants are Darod who live North-East Somalia and do not have a good relationship with its neighbours, Somaliland, who is mainly Isaaq inhabited. Then you look at Somalia, which is mainly occupied by the Hawiye tribe.

The reason why Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia is completely understandable and unquestionable, but Puntland’s reason for claiming self-independence is utterly shambolic and this is why tribalism is becoming a cancer in Somalia. Not very long ago, people from the region of Awdal were looking to claim self-independence from Somaliland calling itself ‘Awdalland’. They consist of the Gadabursi tribe and believe they are being treated unfairly by Somaliland so they believe it’s clever and right to try and break away from a country that’s developing extremely fast. These moves by tribes needs to be identified and sorted out as soon as possible because this can have dramatic effects on Somaliland and Somalia very soon.

Somaliland broke away from the rest of war ravaged Somalia as early as the 1990s and started to get itself together and form a new country which is what its people wanted at the time and still want. Somaliland broke away from the rest of war-torn Somalia for many different reasons but the main one is how the people from that region were treated by past governments of Somalia. Siad Barre worked hard on ruining the lives of Isaaq people and killing them off, this has had a huge impact on Somalia today. One thing people cannot do is compare Somaliland’s self-independence to Puntland’s one. Somaliland’s reason to break-away is very deep and has emotionally detached reasons. Somaliland now uses Puntland as a buffer zone from Somalia.

From as early as the 19th century, tribalism existed in Somalia with the Dervish State, led by Muhammed Abdullah Hassan. He was known to many around the world as an iconic leader for Somali people and led them to fight off the British colonists. But the people of Somalia know that he was an extremely tribalist leader who only recruited people from his tribe and isolated the rest. This shambolic behaviour has been ignited again by the people of Somalia in the 21st century which really starts to raise attentiveness on how Somali’s are towards each other.

Tribalism has been an illness and disease that has lived in the Somali culture for more than a century, but what people from Somalia and Somaliland do not understand is that this nauseating culture in which we embrace is only killing our people and making us hate one another. All you have to do is look at Puntland and what Awdalland tried to do to see what decades of tribalism has done to Somali people, it’s quite literally separated all of Somalia. Now people within Somalia want to be self-independent because of their tribes and the numbers within which they have and this will lead to people claiming their tribal names over what they really are: SOMALI’S.

One way of killing off tribalism is Somaliland encouraging other tribes such as Hawiye to become politically involved in Somaliland’s government and help make decisions. If this happens then there will be a balance in Somaliland and maybe there might be a spread in different tribes occupying Somaliland. But at the moment, each tribe sit in their own ‘Country’ which will lead to future wars over boarder line controversies. Hopefully this catastrophic and cancerous culture will soon die and Somali people can live peacefully amongst each another. But in the mean time, all we see is tribalism going to a new level in the next decade or so.

Ghana: Elections As Usual – From IMANI Center for Policy & Education, Ghana

By Franklin Cudjoe, Bright Simons, Selorm Branttie and Kofi Bentil.

Ghanaians are voting for the next president of the longest-lived republic in their country’s history.

Despite nostalgia in some quarters for the country’s first republic, under the charismatic Pan-Africanist leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the truth is that it is only this fourth republic that has seen one civilian administration pass on the baton of leadership to another without military interruption.

In fact, both key contending parties in today’s elections have tasted defeat at the polls, smoothly handed power to the other, and survived a confinement in opposition. Ghana is virtually unique in Africa in this regard.

Many who have observed Ghana closely believe that these shiny accolades have gotten into the country’s head.

Five successful democratic elections in a row do not a democratic civilisation make, they say. Modern India, not that much older than Ghana, has had 15 or so general elections without any significant hiccups. The standards have been set much too low for Ghana. It is about time Ghana stopped believing its own PR, they add.

There is some truth in this cynical view. While there is no doubt that two decades of fourth republican democracy have seen some impressive strides in the development of a democratic culture, some say that in the area of economic transformation and social progress not enough has been done.

True, over that period the number of people living in officially defined poverty has fallen from over half of the population, at the onset of the fourth republic, to nearly a quarter of the population today. While a third of children then were clinically underweight, the corresponding figure today is less than 14 percent. While a quarter of children of primary school going age then were not in school, today less than a tenth are not. Whereas a fifth of pregnant women had no access to a health professional in those days, the situation has changed now: nearly every woman sees a professional in the course of pregnancy.

But the pessimists insist that these are but modest gains. Once again, it is a question of standards and benchmarks, they argue. The seeming improvements are based on comparisons drawn against the deep stagnation and decay of the decade between the mid-seventies and the mid-eighties when military rule sunk the country into the abyss of hopelessness. Gauged by these depths the climb back up appears more spectacular than it actually is.

Once again, there is some truth in the pessimists’ view. Four percent and a bit of annual growth over the course of the fourth republic has seen Ghana’s per capita income move full circle back to the level it was at independence. High population growth has wiped away much of the gain. In fact, were GDP measurements sensitive enough to infrastructure and environmental depreciation, per capita income could easily have tipped into negative territory.

No wonder then that many of the country’s boldest dreams have remained unrealised for nearly a hundred years. The goal of creating a dynamic industrial sector to absorb the country’s hapless semi-skilled labour appears moribund.

Nearly every government from the mid-colonial period to the present has pinned its hopes on the country’s supposed advantage in refining bauxite to aluminium, yet movement towards this goal has not so much stalled as retrogressed. The smelter that Nkrumah built to drive the idea is now only a little more than a relic kept alive by a life support system of unsustainable subsidies and political hot air.

The country’s fruit processors have gone through a pruning process in which only the most resilient have survived but so uncompetitive has local agriculture become that this lush tropical country must import fruits to feed them. A lack of appreciation of sound fishing policy is dangerously driving the country’s coastal economies into ruin.

Despite a new-found enthusiasm for thermal power plants ran on gas and sometimes diesel and crude oil, the country has failed to fix a serious problem of rolling blackouts that have lasted over the past decade and half. It has been discovered that a weak tariff system undermines the official policy of promoting the private sector to build more power plants. If those plants can’t be run profitably, they stop producing power at reasonable capacity.

The country has discovered oil, but two years of production has see disappointing results in terms of the actual output, as well as in terms of ‘local content’ opportunities. It is looking like the oil industry will join the rest of the extractives sector in the camp of anaemic contributions to genuine economic transformation.

The services sector is generally doing fine, and many believe that it is here that the country is finding its true comparative advantage.

The problem is one of polarisation. There is a large bottom-hull of the sector that is highly informalised and a tiny upper layer that is too high-end for its own good.

In tourism (particularly hotels and other hospitality businesses), aviation, and the social services (education and healthcare), there are swanky offerings for the very well-off and abject crap for the bottom-feeders, with virtually nothing in the middle for the growth market.

Simply put, Ghana has no reason to be complacent.

While the country is certainly showing promising signs in a number of areas, especially when compared to some of its struggling neighbours, the pace of change is somewhat unhurried, and many of the most critical areas, have been touched too little. It is these areas though that will lead to an actual ‘structural transformation’ of the country’s fundamental situation.

Some tough strategic choices face the country: how to attract large quantities of foreign and domestic investment and diversify these inflows away from speculative activity in building construction sprinkled across a few urban enclaves, and some half-hearted mineral prospecting. How to push these inbound funds into specialised infrastructure like ports and railways, design-level global supply chain contributions, and other sectors that will boost the nation’s overall capacity to benefit from the worldwide search for efficiencies by international business?

There are also the long-awaited public sector reforms that are needed to reduce the overall number of government workers, so the government can pay them credible wages, and at the same time demand superior performance from them.

Since some of these workers are in critical areas like health, education and sanitation, the only way to resize the public workforce without causing more harm than good is to invite private sector participation at a price-point that favours the middle class, while at the same time decentralising taxation for effective management in order to better fund social services for the vulnerable. Both tasks require some competence in discriminating among the citizenry based on objective income data, something successive governments have failed to address properly.

Sadly, today’s elections are not really over these strategic choices.

Some say that these elections saw greater attention paid to policy, and by inference less dabbling in silly personality and ego spats, than previous ones. That view is debatable.

One could argue that the 2000 elections were centred largely on the question of “living conditions”. The then and now main opposition party, the NPP (new patriotic party) argued persuasively that the out-of-control inflation, local currency depreciation and epileptic energy supply were as a result of mismanagement. They attacked the policy of fees at government health facilities and public universities and promised superior financial administration to stem what they said was rampant corruption.

What has set these elections apart, admittedly, has been the near-focus on ONE major policy issue – education.

The NPP is promising to abolish all fees, not just tuition fees – which are essentially already free – from all public secondary and technical/vocational schools in its first year of office should the electorate give it the mandate.

The ruling NDC argues that this is nonsense as there is no infrastructure available to admit the more than one-third of Junior high students (those in the last three years of basic school) who do not proceed to senior high school, and therefore that quality will tank in response to the NPP’s promised policy. The leader of the NDC, the sitting president, professes an agreement with the view that secondary education ought to be free but he insists on certain preparatory activities. A more realistic ‘free SHS’ implementation timeline as far as the NDC is concerned will be 2016.

On the face of it there does not appear to be much difference between the policy positions of the two parties. So why has there been so much attention and rancour over this issue? Political brinkmanship, that’s why.

Despite its official concurrence with the policy of free secondary education in principle, the NDC has nevertheless sought to promote the view that the NPP is not to be trusted on the matter.

They have fished for audio recordings made several years ago by eminent persons perceived to be friendlier to the NPP than the NDC and highlighted anti – ‘free secondary school’ sound-bites from these clips to discredit the NPP. Their core argument appears to be that the NPP has no genuine commitment to the policy but has latched on to it as a populist gimmick for votes.

Though the NPP’s base has rallied around the promise, thus giving it a buzz, the downside of the NPP’s strategy to make the free SHS policy the centrepiece of the election has deflected focus away from an examination of the NDC’s record and made the election about the credibility of the NPP.

Perhaps, the NDC sees the credibility question as tying seamlessly into their longstanding strategy of questioning the personal qualities of the NPP’s veteran candidate (this is the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo’s second attempt at the presidency). There are some political observers in Ghana, like the ubiquitous Ben Ephson, who believe that more than 50 percent of the Ghanaian voters make up their minds solely on the basis of their personal affection or disaffection for the candidate him/herself.

So, when one looks at the situation more closely, despite all the media hullabaloo over the contrived controversy in the education debate, these elections are not really about that issue.

So what really are these elections about, and who will carry the vote after the final tally?

Firstly, we can look at the polls.  A slight majority of them, including those by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Bureau of National Investigations (Ghana’s main domestic intelligence agency) favour the incumbent, the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama, who, as then Vice President, took over from the late John Evans Atta Mills in July of this year. And as go the polls so go the pundits.

Given the patchy record of pollsters like Mr Ephson (a sardonic question that has gained popularity is: ‘do you know any Ghanaian that has ever been polled in any of these surveys before?’), we reckon that the main opposition candidate can take solace from the fact that the more seasoned and, some would even say, more qualified watchers favour his NPP party.

DaMina Advisors, founded by a former Eurasia Analyst, who was one of the very few watchers to accurately call the 2008 presidential elections, has predicted a comfortable win for the opposition leader.  They base their conclusions on census data and extrapolations from the 2008 electoral results. On the analytical side they cite low public familiarity with the NDC’s presidential ticket, compared with the NPP’s, which is being presented to the electorate for the second time.

Ato Kwamena Dadzie, the colourful former news editor of the powerful and influential Joy FM radio station has also predicted a win, albeit by a much narrower margin, for the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo.

Though we believe the race is fairly tight, we are inclined to hold with those who believe that the main opposition party has an edge over the ruling party.

We base our conclusions on a variation of the ‘geographic’ theme.

Every country has an electoral map defined by historical geographic factors that very often align with ethnic, ideological and material factors. In Ghana, our observation is that it is not the overall geographic collage that matter most but the Akan geographic spread, and consolidation.

The Akan is a motley collection of ethnic groups with mutually intelligible languages spread across the coastal, southern and middle-forest and parts of the Eastern Savannah belts of Ghana. Collectively they constitute just under half of Ghana’s population of 25 million.

We have observed that the evolving voting patterns of the Akan are the most reliably predictive determinant or trend-driver in Ghanaian elections. This trend has nothing to do with ethnocentrism per se. Just as, for example, the Cuban-American vote in the United States is historical-political rather than ethnocentric, the Akan vote in Ghana is driven by a wide range of factors of which ethno-centrism may be the least important.

There are class, historical, ideological and socio-dynamic elements in the behaviour of the Akan polity. In our view, the primary trend as far as Ghanaian elections are concerned is the growing conflation of the Akan identity into a kind of meta-identity. Whereas the Akan were in the past wracked by fierce sibling rivalry, the last few decades have seen a slow amalgamation of Akan identity in Ghana as a result of socio-economic class dynamics.

The notion of being ‘Akan’ is steadily becoming a more trendy and less emotionally laden but geographically accurate marker of self-identity than, say,  being ‘Adanse’, ‘Akwamu’, ‘Wassaw’, or even ‘Bono’, which are sub-Akan identities that in the past belonged to separate, competing, kingdoms.

The fusion of Akan attitudes, perspectives, and ultimately voting patterns, is a process of ‘modernisation’ and not of ethnocentrism.

The Akan are locked into the most intense vortices of Ghanaian urbanisation: charismatic Christianity (very much an Akan phenomenon); hip-life (a kind of local hip hop); a highly aspirational white-collar underclass; rapid westernisation in material tastes etc. This has compressed the Akan geography. It however also suggests that the intense identification of the Akan per se with this evolution is merely a quirk of history that will dissipate over time as sociology supersedes history, the process decouples from Akan-fusion, and spreads uniformly over Ghana.

Even the exceptions to the patterns go merely to prove the point. The coastal Fante and Agona have tended to be the least engaged in this process of Akan-fusion. Being the prime beneficiaries of the colonial process, urbanisation has always been a feature of life for these Akan sub-groups. Thus aloof, they have managed to preserve somewhat the semblance of an enclave of their own, so far, but the cracks are showing.

Since the onset of the fourth republic, the transformation of the NPP into a national party has followed the contours of Akan-fusion, with the party improving its performance in the broad Akan geography in each successive general election. The NDC’s strategy to resist this has been premised as much on keeping a stranglehold over non-Akan votes as on splintering the Akan vote along its line of fracture: the Fante (which shares increasingly porous boundaries with the Wassaws, Agonas and other South-Western groups), and to a limited extent the Bono. Not surprisingly, the NDC has never gone into an election without a Fante on the ticket.

In our view, until the elections in Ghana truly become a matter of competing policies, the Akan-fusion process, as a proxy for the evolving cultural attitudes in an urbanising Ghana, shall remain the most formidable predictive factor. And for now, the NPP is the party which, for historical and conscious marketing reasons, appears most aligned with that trend, while the NDC often comes across as feeling antagonised by it. When the trend plateaued in 2000, the party obtained a slight numerical edge over the NDC.

The now ruling NDC won the 2008 elections by a whisker (about 40,000 votes) simply because Nkrumahists (socialist-leaning clingers to the nostalgia of the first republic), a small but permanent independent block in Ghanaian politics, swung more that year for the NDC, which espouses socialist rhetoric, than for the NPP, due to the NDC’s successful campaign to brand the NPP as elitist, out-of-touch and property-grabbing. This has not been a strategy the NDC has managed with the same dexterity this time around.

Based on a simple extrapolation from the 2008 results, the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo looks likely to win the elections with about 50.5 percent of the vote. That should be enough to avoid a run-off under Ghana’s constitution, which stipulates that a fresh election between the two leading candidates be held if in any presidential election should the winner fail to obtain ‘more than 50 percent of the vote’.

But then again, the Nkrumahists may prove less easy to sway than we think, and Ghana shall, once again, have to wait for weeks after the initial round of elections for the winner to be determined in a run-off.

Whoever prevails in the end must, according to the constitution, be sworn into office on 7th January 2013.

If the urgent yet long list of reforms is anything to go by, there shall be no honeymoon.

Franklin Cudjoe, Bright Simons, Selorm Branttie and Kofi Bentil are all Executives of IMANI Center for Policy & Education, a public policy research & advocacy organisation based in Accra, Ghana

Tunisia is uneasy as leaders awarded

Mounira Chaieb

Last week, both the Tunisian caretaker President Dr Moncef Marzouki and the president of the ruling Islamist Movement, Rachid Gannouchi , were in London to receive the ‘2012 Chatham House Prize’. Chatham House is a leading London based International Affairs think-tank. It said that it decided to award the two for their ‘role at the forefront of the new democratic wave in the Middle East and North Africa’. The Chatham House award is presented annually to the statesperson deemed to ‘have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations.’ Dr Marzouki was also named by the American ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine as the world’s second most influential thinker in 2012 in their annual list, also published last week.

Ironically and only a few days after the award was given, violence broke out in the governorate of Siliana in the North West of Tunisia, as protesters took to the streets, decrying the very same economic conditions that spurred violence in early 2011 and subsequently led to the fall of former President Ben Ali.

More than 250 people were injured, some severely. Security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protestors, with reports of people being treated for gunshot wounds. Tension has been brewing in Siliana, which is about 120km south of the capital Tunis, and in many other parts of the country. The residents of Siliana went on a general strike, angered at the mayor’s failure to deliver on promises to create jobs, and called for his resignation and the resignation of the cabinet. In many parts of the country, people are disappointed by the lack of progress following their uprising. Unemployment has risen sharply and essential food prices have also gone up dramatically in recent months. Tunisia’s economy, based in large part on European tourism and exports, has suffered after the uprising and with the European economic crisis. On 27 TuesdayNovember , the World Bank approved a $500 million loan to help support reforms in the financial sector to encourage investment and growth.

Siliana’s residents also called for the release of 14 people who were arrested nearly two years ago and are still being held without trial. The protests were the fiercest since hard-line Salafi Islamists attacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis on 12 September over an anti-Islam film made in the USA. That violence left four people dead.

Tunisia is the birthplace of the ‘Arab Spring’ and its democratic process is considered hugely successful and a model for the rest of the Arab world. However, most Tunisians have been talking of the need for a ‘revolution after the revolution’. The caretaker president himself spoke early in his presidency of having ‘nightmares’ of a second revolution. When I asked him what he was doing to address the increasing levels of poverty, unemployment, disease, and an unprecedented level of illegal immigration to Europe via Italy, he replied that he worked day and night alongside the Prime Minister to tackle those issues, and that given the legacy left by the previous government, it would take time, patience and perseverance to meet such challenges.

Dr Marzouki is the first elected President by the country’s constituent assembly in a power-sharing deal between the centre-right Ennhada, Marzouki’s centre-left Congress for the Republic(CPR) and centre–left Ettakattol, a coalition known as the Troika. But the Troika has been facing challenges even within its members. Their differences have been known to the Tunisian public. Its major challenge was over the extradition of the former Libyan Prime Minister back to Libya for trial last June – a decision taken solely by Ennahda’s prime minister and that angered President Marzouki who insisted on a guarantee of a fair trial first.

A former doctor and a human-rights activist, Dr Marzouki is adamant that authoritarianism is a ‘disease’ which must be treated. Addressing members of the Tunisian community in the UK, Dr Marzouki stressed the imperative to hold elections in the early summer of 2013 in order to get the country on track. . He also highlighted the need to avoid ideological conflicts. ‘Tunisia,’ he said, ‘is a real laboratory where peaceful democratic transition is being tested and political players co-exist in a context of coalition and consensus’. He expressed his optimism that the Tunisian experiment would be a successful one.

Many Tunisians, however, are skeptical. They say the future of their country seems bleak. With the recent events in Siliana, they say their country is far from being peaceful or stable and are concerned about what they consider the rise of a new dictatorship in the shape of the current government, and one that’s willing to use worse practices than the previous one to oppress and silence dissent. They are also concerned about the killing of members of prominent opposition parties in mysterious circumstances, the imprisonment of journalists without trial and the increasing polarisation of society around religion.

A recent survey showed that 42 per cent of Tunisians believe that life was better under Ben Ali. They say at least under him, there was security, the economy was functioning and the ultra religious groups did not exist and if they did, did not represent a real (threat?). On social networks, many express their regret for asking Ben Ali to ‘degage’- (to go), saying it was a joke on their part!

Mounira Chaieb is a Tunisian journalist based in London, and formerly worked for the BBC.

Diminishing relevance of Nigerian unionists

Adewale Stephen

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Millions of workers in Nigeria look up to their union leaders to organise them to protect their rights. But recent events show that unionists are fast losing the confidence of the masses

When the controversial Central Bank Governor of Nigeria Mallam Sanusi Lamido took his habitual goofs a step further by insulting the intelligence of the Nigerian masses at the Second Annual Capital Market Committee Retreat in Warri, Delta State, last week by stating that ‘at least 50 per cent of the Nigerian entire workforce should be sacked’, many people believed that Sanusi had touched the tail of a tiger and he must take the consequences. According to the governor, Nigeria spends up to 70 per cent of its earnings in paying salaries and emoluments to civil servants. Cutting public workers by half would free up money for infrastructural development, he argued.

Immediately I read about this proposal in The Punch Newspaper, I thought I could predict what exactly the reaction to his comment was going to look like: National Labour Congress leaders would immediately come up with a press statement castigating Sanusi and perhaps calling for his removal; the civil society would rise up in their numbers to reprimand the capitalist’s hit-man; our ever-zealous Femi Falana and other concerned learned ‘comrades in gown’ would caution this agent of destruction to watch his statements; our ever-articulate pen-pushers would begin to open our eyes to the high level of corruption and money that is being accrued to the institutions such as the Central Bank under Sanusi; and the National Assembly would advise him to stop overheating the polity. Then, everybody, including the NLC, would go back to sleep and Sanusi would continue to enjoy all the luxury that his office attracts. After all, this is Nigeria where every citizen is expected to have a short memory.

In all the events that have happened since Sanusi’s provocative and anti-people statement, this writer has been proved right. Strangely, the only unexpected twist that has since been added to the drama was the entrance of the Congress for Progressive Change who lambasted NLC leadership over its call for Sanusi’s removal. To the party, the CBN boss is just an individual who cannot influence any policy within the Executive. This statement only shows the level of intellects of those that made up the CPC and it also indicates that in terms of policies, all the present capitalist political parties in Nigeria are birds of a feather. But how could anyone fault the CPC’s position? After all, its leader is Muhammadu Buhari, a man who declared in one of his 2011 presidential debates that there is nothing wrong with the Nigerian Educational sector. To him, ‘everything is just perfect’.

Beyond this, however, Sanusi’s tirade and the CPC’s diatribe are reflections of the erosion of NLC’s leadership’s hypothetical intimidating credentials. It portrays them as the paper tiger that only appears scary but cannot exhibit the real traits of a true tiger. In a capitalist’s clime, the name of organised labour is enough to intimidate any oppressive strata of the ruling elite, even the president of a country cannot just say that workers are irrelevant. Ditto for political parties; the control that the labour leadership should have over the masses is enough to compel these political parties to always hold the NLC leadership in such a high reverence.

But in our case, reverse has been the case. That a political party which is still relying on the goodwill of the people for relevance could tell the NLC leaders to go to hell and ‘stop being hypocritical’ is a sad statement about the NLC’s popularity. Sanusi may be anything but daft: he knows that Nigeria is the only country where a government agent could make such a statement and still be allowed by the labour unions to remain in power. In another setting, his tenure would have become history by now. But our own NLC is just a paper tiger whose threat doesn’t go beyond the pages of newspapers.

In its hey day, trade union leadership played an inestimably productive task in the progression of Nigerian society. It organized the masses and promoted their interests against exploitative, manipulative and unfair civil relations. It participated vigorously in the decolonization process, and struggled against neo-colonial regimes to gain concessions so as to protect the socio-economic interests of the downtrodden. It often opposed laxity, negligence and corruption in the management of the affairs of the state, and pursued a relatively nationalist and unifying project in contrast to the highly divisive politics of the post-colonial Nigerian ruling elites.

Ironically, the same cannot be said of the current crop of leadership. As the Nigerian situation continues to worsen by the day, the little gains of the labour movement to improve the living conditions of the workers have been eroded; workers are now more agitated, disconcerted and perturbed, and they are looking forward for their leadership to proffer a concrete way forward; but the leadership are either not just there or are busy romanticizing and dining with the ruling elite.

The disappointing manner in which the NLC ended the mass protests of January is still very fresh in the minds of the masses as the union leaders maintained that it agreed to this because the Jonathan administration had promised to implement some programme that would ease the plight of the working masses. Unfortunately for the Labour leaders, the outcome of the whole drama points out the futility of being a gentle-compromising man in an encounter with a rascal. For barely two months after, the same government openly suspended the implementation of the limited ‘palliatives’ proposed in this respect while the fuel price is presently being sold, albeit unofficially, at the rate of N120 in many states across the land.

The result of such betrayal is the declining authority of NLC over industrial unions, stirring of discontent among the rank and file, declining popularity of labour officials and increased worker apathy and droopiness. When a sizeable number of state NLC were locked up in battle with their state governors over the non-implementation of N18, 000 minimum wage, there was no concrete response from the national leadership; when the workers’ casualization became the major policies of many state across the Southwest and even the federal government with its proposed U-win, the national leadership bluntly refused to fight against this evil of capitalism. And while university administrations across the land are raising their school fees to astronomic levels beyond the means of the common masses and progressives unions are being proscribed, the NLC, with its Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, is simply looking the other way.

Compromise under the guise of consultation is rapidly replacing labour’s established method of confrontation; the specious strategy of settlement is speedily supplanting the ideologically rooted principles of struggle as a tactic; the social relevance of trade unions is becoming lowered to zero and the political relevance of labour union leaders has been whittled down. The condition is even more disconcerting at the state levels as many chairmen are simply parading the state parastatals and the governors’ houses seeking appointment and contractual slots to swell their own purses. Arguably, the Nigerian trade unions have never had it this bad.

The workers’ goals cannot be realized by a set of leaders who will say one thing in the open but say something else in secret; it cannot be actualized by that set of leaders who will yell all the principles of socialism from the rooftops only when they want some pecuniary reward. The present NLC and TUC leadership are no more giving direction.

And now that the financial hit-man of the Nigerian ruling elite has spoken, NLC must not be deceived that Sanusi is speaking all alone. He has tactically revealed what the Jonathan government has in the pipeline for the Nigerian masses after 2015 election: Labour and the masses had better get set for the battles ahead.

That NLC’s intervention is pivotal to the growth and sustenance of genuine development of Nigeria is not in doubt. But NLC’s ability to play active roles in promoting these principles as well as serving as a genuine mouthpiece of the masses has been severely weakened in the last five years. For the NLC and TUC to be taken seriously by both the state and the employers, their leaders need to reflect seriously in their actions.

Finally, while it is envisaged that the current leadership of the unions will learn to do things better with time, a deliberate inconsistence which is almost becoming the order of the day will not only spell doom for the union; it will erode the confidence which the entire masses had in it. The present leadership of the union, therefore, need to shape up or in the alternative remain stagnant, not only to its peril but also to the peril of the masses that are looking forward to the union as their saviour.

  Adewale Stephen is based at the Department of History, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.

Reuben Abati and the Intellectual Dishonesty of Nigeria Intelligentsia

I was in my late teens when I first read Reuben Abati’s piece in the Newspaper. Then, my father was able to afford newspaper delivered to him on weekends. After reading, he would pass the newspaper to me and tell me to read. Shortly after, like an interrogator, he will start interviewing me about what Abati wrote. Unfortunately, in today’s Nigeria, daddy cannot afford it anymore.

During my summer visit this year, I asked him if he still reads his weekends papers. He grimaced, sighed and said “my son, those days are gone, I cannot afford it anymore; I get my news these days from my small radio”, pointing to a radio resting sturdily on his veranda table.  It was one of those old-fashioned radios that relay Voice of America and BBC signals. Remember.

For those who know Mr. Abati’s history or read his column, you will concur that he can be considered a scholar and a prolific writer. At least someone who got his Ph.D at the tender age of 24 years will today be called a nerd or wizkid! Some people called him a social critic based on his past writings criticizing the Nigerian elite for their corruption and leadership dereliction. He was respected in the journalistic circle and by social crusaders clamoring for change in Nigeria.

I took some time lately to read Mr. Abati’s articles in the days leading to Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration and few days after. In his article “Hurry Up, Jonathan” published May 4th, 2010, Mr. Abati wrote “Early signs indicate that Jonathan may find it difficult stepping up to the game. He has fallen so early into the error of doing business as usual. He is the ultimate pacifier. He seems determined to run a government of the Godfathers.”  Just last year (May 1, 2011), in his article “The Jonathan To Jonathan Transition”, he wrote “There are very urgent priorities that he [referring to president Jonathan] must address.  He must make the transformation of Nigeria his chief priority. It took only two Presidents in Brazil (Fernando Cardoso, 1995-2002 and Lula da Silva, 2003 -2010) for that country to embark on the path of economic progress, and in both Brazil and South Korea, even in Ghana next door, the point has been well proven that good leadership is what helps a country in the long run. When he takes that oath on May 29, Jonathan will be signing a pact with history. He can either sleep walk through the four years or make significant difference. We recommend the latter. He should start with the power sector. His government has already announced a road map for the power sector. There are plans to privatize the power sector. He must hurry up. He won’t be the first President since 1999 to talk about the same issue. Nigerians are no longer interested in such talks. They want results; they want regular electricity supply and the expulsion of the diesel importation Mafia. With regular power supply, the Nigerian economy will be jump-started, life will be easier for the ordinary man and this will be one way of demonstrating change. Jonathan should be the President to translate all the talks about power into measurable results”

Those are just some few classics from Mr. Abati’s repertoire. It is mind-boggling and heart-wrenching that erudite Abati who advocated that Nigerians have run out of patience and can no longer wait will now seemingly describe Nigerians clamoring for change as “all the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria…”I do not know how else to describe this 360 degrees turn-around than call it Intellectual dishonesty.

Mr. Abati is not alone in Nigeria Intellectual dishonesty. More recently (not to go down too far memory lane), every Nigerian remembers Michael Aondoakaa, former Nigeria Attorney General (AGF) and Minister of Justice from July 2007 to February 2010. He was a Senior Partner for a law firm for 18 years!  So he was well educated in legal matters. Before his appointment as Nigeria AGF, some claimed that he supported justice and advocated for truth.  In 2009, the then President of Nigeria was secretly flown to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. For almost three months, Nigerians were in the dark about the where about and true condition of the president. The president had not written a formal letter giving the vice president power to carry out the duties of the president while on medical leave.

Obviously, one does not need to be a lawyer or an expert in Nigeria Constitution to know that there was a power vacuum. The erudite Michael Aondoakaa, as the chief enforcer of the constitution was asked on CNN by Christian Amanpour “why has it taken the system so long to fill the power vacuum in the president’s absence?” He responded and said “there was no power vacuum.” He continued the intellectual mischievousness and dishonesty elsewhere indicating that the Nigeria president can serve as the president from anywhere in the world as long as he can. Really? This is what Nigerians call “for my korokoro eyes” interpretation. I am yet to read about that in the Nigerian Constitution. It was also well documented how Aondoakaa went to all length to use his office to subvert justice by protecting Governors accused of looting from EFCC’s prosecution. While in London in 2009 to block the trial of Ibori in British’s court, he was chased out of his hotel room by Nigerian activist who labeled him as “Attorney General of Fraud”.

It is not all doom and gloom for Nigeria intelligentsia. Thank God for intellectuals like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Gani Fawehinmi (may his soul rest in peace!) and the others who struggle everyday in Nigeria against all odds to do the right thing. They would rather loss their job and go hungry than speak from the four compass points of their mouth – as rightly put by Prof. Soyinka.

The intelligentsia community in any culture has always been the engine driving social change and challenging the status quo. If Nigeria must move forward, our intelligentsia must be consistent in their social crusade. They should not only vociferate for change when that change will not affect them. They must be ready to stand for principle within or outside the corridors of power. I wish Dr. Reuben Abati all the best as he continues to serve his country. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Paul Omoruyi

Blog: www.diasporascope.com