Monday, 31 January 2011

Photonews: Normalcy Returning To Egypt

Voluntary Neighbourhood Watch Group On Duty In Cairo.  Photo Credit: AP

News Release: The Future Award Pre-Awards Conference

Cross Section Of Attendees
The Future Award Pre-Awards Conference, also called the ‘Do Something’ Conference is one of the most influential youth seminars every year. The conference is designed to encourage young people to move from merely talking about their aspirations and dreams for Nigeria to doing something about them.
This year’s event held yesterday, 29 January at the Main Auditorium of the University of Lagos. The 2,000-seater hall was packed full with eager young people, who absorbed the practical tips and strategies from some of Nigeria’s most successful professionals.
“It looks like a crusade is going on here!,” said Tolu Longe, one of the young people who attended the event.
The agenda at this one-of-a-kind event, was dictated by youth delegates who asked the speakers questions, probing into biting issues which affect their careers and the country in general. The ‘Do Something’ Conference was centred around free flowing discussion, rather than the ‘classroom’ vibe of the typical conference.
The conference speakers comprised of an impressive line up of Nigerians from diverse walks of life – entertainment to ministry; fashion to business, and included:
Professor Pat Utomi (Director,  Centre for Applied Economics, Lagos Business School)
Dr. Rasheed Gbadamosi (Former Chairman, Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency)
Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe (Former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos/President, Nigeria Academy of Science)
Tonye Cole (Executive Director, Sahara Group)
Poju Oyemade (Senior Pastor, Covenant Christian Centre)
Betty Irabor (Publisher, Genevieve Magazine)
Iretiola Doyle (Actress/TV Presenter)
Steve Babaeko (Creative Director, 141 Worldwide)
Ayo Animashaun (Founder Hip Hop World Awards and Executive Producer HIP on TV)
Naeto C
Debbie Ogunjobi (C.E.O Everywoman)
Kemi Adetiba (Director/ TV Presenter)
Tosyn Bucknor (Radio Presenter/Writer)
Nicholas Okoye (CEO, Anabel)
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde (Actress/Musician)
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe (CEO, AMAA Awards)
Bukola Adubi (CEO, Miccom Golf Resort)
Kefee (Musician)
Tolu Sangosanya (Founder, LOTS Foundation)
Bode Pedro (CEO, VEDA Technology)
Uche Nnaji (Ouch!)
John Momoh (CEO, Channels TV)
From Publicity Unit

Article: Why Ribadu Matters

Nuhu Ribadu

By Feyi Fawehinmi

Nigerian politics is not yet at the point where democratic institutions have taken deep root so the 'type' of leader we have sends a lot of 'signals' down the food chain which in turn gives the government whatever character it is seen to have.

So Shagari was seen to be incompetent and spineless, this was a signal to men like Umaru Dikko and many others in that government that you could pretty much take whatever you wanted from the commonwealth with impunity. Likewise when  a few days to the 2007 elections, President Obasanjo described it as a do or die affair, this was a powerful signal to every politician, especially those in the PDP, that whatever barriers to rigging that were in place previously had now been removed. The result was that we had a shame of an exercise that must never be referred to as an election.

The examples are endless. After Murtala Mohammed became Head of State, civil servants were said to be reporting at their desks by 7am. Fast forward a few years and our civil servants are more likely to be found watching Africa Magic or hawking all sorts of wares in the office.

The President does not need to patrol every ministry unannounced to make our civil servants sit up at their desks. He only needs to send a strong enough signal, in word and in deed, that things will no longer be as they have and people will sit up.

Similarly, we need leadership that will send a strong signal to the rest of the world, that things are different now so we can attract the quality foreign investment we need along with the skills transfer this would bring.

But most of all, we need leadership that sends a strong signal to every Nigerian that things have well and truly changed and after so many false starts, our country can finally get going. One man cannot unwind our totally corrupt system but he can at least introduce punishment into the system so that people know that there will consequences for robbing the nation. A system whereby people facing trial for corruption are awarded multi million naira contracts sends out all the wrong signals to the clerk in the ministry.

Nuhu Ribadu's candidacy excites me. For one, I know that the ONLY way he can be President is if Nigerians come out in their numbers to vote for him. Perhaps in my lifetime, this will be the first real transfer of power from the people, via a mandate, to a man they have deemed worthy of presiding over the affairs of the nation. He cannot rig his way into office neither can he buy his way to the Presidency.

I am also excited by the fact that this candidacy is getting a lot of its power from those who will own this country tomorrow. Those who will be called next. I need not bore you with the man's biography or achievements. His Wikipedia page has all the information you need.

A foolish consistency they say, is the hobgoblin of small minds; the time for doing the same thing 'one more time' hoping for a different result is gone now. It is getting boring even. I watched the PDP primaries in 2003 that handed Obasanjo the party's presidential ticket to contest that year's elections. It promised so many surprises to the point where I stayed up till very late in the night listening to Tom Ikimi repeat 'Oba-sanjo' again and again till I was nearly in a trance. And then a few weeks ago, I watched again as 'Jonathan' after 'Jonathan' was called out. This time I didn't wait very long before going to bed.

We are being asked once again to vote for a candidate delivered by the exact same system that has produced his predecessors because after 12 years, this time it will be different. I leave you to imagine what signals will come out of Aso Rock in 4 years if we are to continue with the PDP.

No word has been as much abused as the word 'change' especially when it comes to politics and campaign. And because Nigeria cries out for change so obviously, change has become a single door through which a throng of politicians try to run through at the same time whenever elections approach leaving the race not to the best but to the most thuggish.

But I can make my decision based on those who indeed brought change when they had the chance to do so...anyone can brandish a credit card with change written all over it. At some point, real cash will have to be involved to complete the transaction.

My name is Feyi Fawehinmi and I am 32 years old. If I had been born in the east end of London, in my lifetime I would have seen Canary Wharf rise from the ground from a part of London that was no more than a glorified marsh. And I would have grown up with a vision that no longer sees the obstacles in front of me but the possibilities.

Or if I had been born in Beijing, I would have watched in my lifetime as my city was completely transformed into one of the most developed cities in China good enough to host the Olympics. And I would have grown up not being overwhelmed by the problems but excited by the possibilities.

I could have been born in Atlanta, Georgia and I would have watched my city transformed by the 1996 Olympics and seen life spring up from empty spaces all over the city turning the city into a world class town. And with that, never again will I look at an empty dark space the same way again. And when Barack Obama says 'we do big things', I would nod in understanding.

As it turns out, I was born in Nigeria so the gutters that have been open for as long as I can remember remain open till today...filled with quite possibly the same stagnant water. I might therefore think that covering gutters (which will in turn reduce mosquitoes that still kill our people) is such a big deal. And when I travel round the country and see open gutters everywhere, I am more likely to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problems that have been left to fester for forever.

The inimitable Pius Adesanmi put it best when he said; "You are not likely to consider constant electricity in the 21st century a right that must be fought for if your mental universe is such that you want to mount the pulpit on Sunday and give testimony that you went to the lord in prayer and fasting and came against the spirit of darkness and, behold, “NEPA did not take light during the naming ceremony of my child!"

In other words, because I am a Nigerian, my idea of development and advancement is completely warped (not different, warped) and I have come to view certain things as perhaps acceptable. We underestimate how far behind we are from where we should normally be. And we forget that the world is not sitting down somewhere waiting for us to catch up. We cannot continue to flirt with a party that is more likely to produce a Peter Odili as governor than it is to produce a Rotimi Amaechi.

We are all partly to blame for where we find ourselves because as much as we have had the misfortune of being ruled by the most clueless of generals, there have been those moments when an olive has been offered us and we turned it down. We could have perhaps voted for Awolowo instead of Shagari and our story might have been different today. Or maybe not. The important thing to note is that we had a choice then and we have a choice once again now.

A wise man once said that the reason why God gave us Mondays was so we could start again even after a very bad week.

I am voting Nuhu Ribadu because Nigeria is crying out for positive change and nothing says change like his candidacy...not just a change in the choice of headgear.

We are at a point in our nation where we are being sold second hand sophistry packaged in a new wrapper. That the presidency is defined by a man who would be nowhere in the reckoning were this to be anywhere near a serious open contest. That a man propelled to the top of the nation's leadership by a series of events that would make Lemony Snicket green with envy apparently had all the solutions inside of him all along. That a man, just like his late boss, who had never been known to aspire to the highest office in the land is now the best man for the job...presumably after having seen what the job entails and declaring it to be only slightly more difficult than a cakewalk.

It is important that we pause and listen to the arguments being presented to us. Yours truly is an accountant and I work in a firm where I report to a Director. If something were to happen and my boss couldn't make it in to the office one day, I could probably cover for him for a couple of days using whatever knowledge I have gleaned from working with him. This does not however automatically make me a director. If my boss were never to return to the office again, the reasonable thing for the company to do would be to call for applications for the vacant role and if I felt confident enough to apply, I would do so like everybody else. I would not expect to be treated differently even though I might have an edge.

But in Nigeria we have created a system whereby, as long as you are able to reach the Presidency by whatever means, you automatically become the 'best man for the job'. To sit on the chair is to be. And invariably the country is dragged to your level of competence...usually downwards hardly ever upwards.

Nigerians are once again faced with a choice and we can be fixated on the person sitting on the chair to the detriment of every other person. We only postpone the evil day in that regard.

So when I look at all the candidates running for office, I comfortably come down on the side of Mr Ribadu as the best man for the job. I am not moved by luck or chance. I choose to remain clear eyed when making such a serious decision.

It is practically impossible to talk about the candidacy of Nuhu Ribadu without talking about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state and ACN chieftain.

Without mincing words, I am no fan of the Asiwaju mainly because I think he lacks the intellectual capacity to come up with a vision as leader of the Yorubas, never mind Nigeria, as he is seen to be these days.

But unto Asiwaju what is due Asiwaju.

Wole Soyinka once said that 'records are not kept to assist the weakness of memory but to serve as guides to the future'. So a quick recap will suffice.

Olusegun Obasanjo got elected in 1999 in an anomalous fashion in that he lost his entire constituency (South West Nigeria) but went on to win the Presidency. In a parliamentary system such as the UK, David Cameron would no longer be Prime Minister if he were to somehow lose his constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire.

Four years later this anomaly was seen as a weakness for Obasanjo and there was much grumbling directed at him from within the PDP. Invariably having learnt the lessons of politics, he needed to correct this problem. So by hook or crook he needed to 'deliver' the South West to the PDP from the AD. This was achieved in various ways from outright rigging to giving false assurances to men like Segun Osoba.

Yes it is true that Lam Adesina was considered to be pretty much useless by the people of Oyo state but today they have Adebayo Alao-Akala in his place, a man who has plumbed the depths so far that the only place left to go is for him to drop out of the earth's bottom.

Yes it is true that Olusegun Osoba was seen to be disconcertingly haughty by the people of Ogun state but he was replaced with Gbenga Daniel who is never far away from the gravest of allegations ranging from murder to theft.

Yes it is true that Bisi Akande and Adebayo Adefarati were seen to be old and lethargic by the people of Osun and Ondo states respectively but they were replaced by Olagunsoye Oyinlola who never once let anything stand in the way of his enjoyment around the globe and Olusegun Agagu who performed so woefully in Ondo state that he saw fit to hire Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson and such like to aid his re-election in 2007.

Yes it is true that Adeniyi Adebayo in Ekiti state was seen to be a spoilt and privileged daddy's boy but he was replaced with Ayodele Fayose who spent billions of naira on a shameful poultry project in the state where not ONE single chicken was ever seen.

In the end, the PDP hostile takeover of the South West in 2003 was a self serving move led by Obasanjo using his patented brand of do or die politics.

Now pause for a moment. And imagine if the PDP had completed a clean sweep and taken Lagos state in that same 2003. The APP/ANPP had also been decimated by the PDP from 9 states down to 2 states.

Today the ACN is in control of 4 states and has more than a good chance of capturing at least 2 more states in April. The ANPP remains stuck on 2 states and is likely to remain at that after the coming election.

There is therefore no doubt that the ACN is the #1 opposition party in Nigeria today. And it would never have been possible if the Asiwaju didn't somehow stand firm in 2003 to repel the PDP juggernaut. The only hope we would have an opposition worth the name today would be us waiting for the PDP to implode and spin off a new arm.

Then there is of course the question of legacy. No amount of garnishing can turn a plate of frog meat into something palatable that one would want to eat. However if push came to shove, one would at least make a choice in favour of the frog with an egg inside says the Yoruba proverb.

Obasanjo and Tinubu were motivated by the same selfishness when they were picking their successors in 2007 but it is hard not to imagine that Babatunde Fashola is in fact the frog with an egg inside it when placed side by side with the late Umaru Yar'Adua.

The ACN as the main opposition party in Nigeria today presents the most realistic vehicle for Nuhu Ribadu to achieve his aim of change. Politics always comes in packages; It is not a Christmas hamper where you can take what you want out of the basket and abandon the rest. This is the reason why Barack Obama rose out of the same party in the same state of Illinois as the hopelessly corrupt  Governor Rod Blagojevich.

To repeat; this is not a defence of the Asiwaju...he comes with baggage. But the office of the Nigerian president does not tolerate a godfather for too long and I am confident that Mr Ribadu will be his own man and set the agenda as President. Because I know he at least stands for something.

I believe a new Nigeria is possible. And on April 9th I will vote for Nuhu Ribadu as the man best able to deliver the vision of Nigeria I have when I close my eyes and imagine the possibilities.

But I will also abide by the choice of the Nigerian people. Whoever wins will be recognized as my President. And not a drop of any Nigerian's blood will be shed in the name of any politician, Ribadu included. And I am confident that our votes will count. And the people's voices will be heard.

But I do not love any one candidate more than I love Nigeria to the point where I believe he has to win or nothing else. Presidents will come and go but Nigeria will endure. I will vote my conscience and I will accept the result. I am not afraid. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Photonews: Protesters In Egypt Seize Army Tank

Protesters Chanting Anti-government Slogans Atop Army Tank. Photo  Credit: AP

Saturday, 29 January 2011

News Release: MEND Reiterates Plans Of Attack

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) views with scum the appointment of a new presidential adviser on the Niger Delta.
The continuous deception of the Nigerian government and International Communities of a promise of peace without justice in the Niger Delta is simply a ploy by Goodluck Jonathan to secure the presidency of Nigeria and continue the plundering of the Niger Delta.
As we have persistently promised, we will shortly embark on an all out assault on the Nigerian oil industry, bringing upon this industry such mayhem unprecedented in the history of our quest for justice.
In this new chapter, nothing will be spared, from land based offices to oil platforms and storage facilities. We will bring all these to ground level.
Due to the severity of this onslaught against the oil industry and our desire to prevent the loss of lives, the opening attack as promised, will be preceded by a warning with guidelines to all oil workers concerning their conduct in the event of an attack.
We warn the oil industry to disregard all attempts by the Nigerian government to mislead it as our previous attacks in the past have proven that the Nigerian government cannot protect them. The fight for the liberation of the of the Niger Delta has only begun and will not cease until we have reclaimed every inch of land stolen by the western oil companies in collaboration with puppets such as Goodluck Jonathan and other dubious so called elders of the Niger Delta.
Jomo Gbomo

Report: Sudan Media And Elections Consortium Releases Report Of Referendum

Sudanese Referendum Activists
“The Sudan Media and Elections Consortium (SMEC) was established in January 2010 to implement a project on media and elections in Sudan. Following the successful completion and reporting on the Media coverage of the April 2010 elections, the SMEC was once more contracted to undertake a number of media related activities in relation to the Southern Sudan Referendum of January 2011. Monitoring media coverage of politics and referendum is one of the two components of the project in parallel with training and mentoring programme for the journalists and media houses.
This report contains the main findings concerning media coverage of the referendum campaign, of the silence period as well as of the voting days. This is the second report to be produced on media monitoring activities conducted by SMEC1. Monthly reports will be published in February and March with a final report in April 2011.
Starting from mid-December 2010, the SMEC has been carrying out a targeted monitoring focusing on referendum coverage, agenda setting, offensive speech related to referendum as well as media developments during and after the campaign period. 
The methodology includes both quantitative and qualitative tools for media analysis. The monitoring takes place in two joint media monitoring units, one in Khartoum and one in Juba. The SMEC observes three TV stations during prime time, six radio channels during peak times and fifteen newspapers on a daily basis2. The media included in the sample have been selected according to a number of criteria, including territorial reach, estimated audience and circulation.”
Click Here To Read Report

Friday, 28 January 2011

Photonews: Anti-Government Protest In Egypt

Bonfires By Protesters

Thursday, 27 January 2011

News Report: Mrs. Ojukwu Is First Beneficiary Of Ojukwu/Jonathan Pact

Chief And Mrs. Ojukwu
Mrs. Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, wife of former Biafra leader and national leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is the first beneficiary of the Ojukwu/Jonathan political pact. Mrs. Ojukwu was recently appointed a senior special assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs.

chidi opara reports have been reporting a secret political pact between the Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Ojukwu, whose main article is that APGA would not present a presidential candidate in the 2011 election and would support the President's candidacy. One of the President's loyalists, Professor Dora Akunyili was recently asked to resign here ministerial appointment in the Jonathan administration, she did and was "seconded" to APGA to monitor compliance. Akunyili is presently vying for a senatorial seat in Anambra state under APGA.

Contacts in the Goodluck Jonathan campaign organization informed us that "we are happy with the level of cooperation so far from Ojukwu's people".

A highly placed APGA insider when contacted expreesed disappointment that "the first fruit of our labour" would go first to "a passive member". Another insider however advised patience, saying, "more appointments will surely come".

chidi opara reports learnt that there is likelihood of Mrs. Ojukwu being elevated to ministerial level if the President is re-elected.

A citizen reporter in Nnewi, Ojukwu's hometown, reported that some of Ojukwu's kinsmen in Umudim Nnewi view the timing of the appointment as inappropriate in view of the serious health challenges the ex Biafra leader is currently grappling with.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Opinion: Jonathan, His Magnanimity And The New Face Of Politics In Nigeria

President Jonathan
By Robinson Tombari Sibe

Politics as we know in Nigeria has always been a game of intimidation and elimination. The successful ones are those who never give any room to any perceived opponents. Thus, it is very common to see the incumbent deploy all the forces (both state and private) at his disposal to tame perceived opponents. If you announce your ambition to vie for same position, be sure to expect the incumbent deploy all the forces to bully, scare and intimidate you out of the race. Nurse an ambition to unseat the incumbent and expect Chastisement and Persecution.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan has changed all of this. He has brought a new dimension to politics in Nigeria. Rumours abound that he’s always been a magnanimous man but many thought he will forfeit this virtue upon joining mainstream politics. Not so! President Jonathan has enlarged the political workspace in Nigeria by not only playing by the rules but also encouraging perceived opponents in their quest to unseat him. His magnanimity has ensured a more vibrant political process where anybody can vie for his position without any fear whatsoever. He has approached politics with his trademark “gentleman” attitude that has endeared him to many.

Apart from the non-political beneficiaries of President Jonathan’s magnanimity such as Mallam El-Rufai and others, the current political landscape is filled with beneficiaries actively involved in the current political activity. Prominent among them are Nuhu Ribadu and Atiku Abubakar.

Nuhu Ribadu:
In the latter days of the Obasanjo administration, the man Nuhu Ribadu experienced a meteoric promotion from Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG). The former anti-corruption czar was almost untouchable, pulling the strings at EFCC. Then came the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua and the trials of Nuhu began. First the then Attorney General cut down his prosecution powers, then Nuhu was asked to vacate his position at EFCC and go for a course he didn’t bargain for at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). This was followed by series of maltreatment at NIPSS and his subsequent demotion by the Police Service Commission from the rank of AIG to DCP, citing irregularities in the original promotion that got him to AIG in the first place. This was not the last of his trial as he soon found himself in a tangle with the law for allegedly flouting of code of conduct rules.

Then came President Goodluck Jonathan and in a swift move, Nuhu climbed up from the deep valley where he was to becoming the flag bearer of arguably the 2nd party with the largest followership. Yes, the charges against him were promptly dropped and his rank restored – retiring honourably as an AIG. This is the story of Nuhu’s life that has been rather sinusoidal. Nuhu was one of the first beneficiaries of Jonathan’s magnanimity, today he is one of Jonathan’s opponent in the forth coming elections. Will I call this ungratefulness? No, President Jonathan gave him an open cheque of political freedom and he is within his right to cash it. Perhaps, a vibrant political landscape is germane to our democratic process and President Jonathan through his magnanimity has made this possible.

Atiku Abubakar:
As I write this piece, Atiku is still smarting from his defeat to President Goodluck Jonathan in the just concluded primaries of the PDP.  He is probably hibernating somewhere, licking his “wounds” sustained in defeat.

Rewind to a little over four years ago, Alhaji Atiku was traversing the length and breadth of this country campaigning for votes with the broom (AC symbol). Anyway we all know the story as the rains fell in 2007 and the umbrella became more useful than the broom. AC and Atiku Lost!

In 2009, like the Biblical Nicodemos, he went visiting Baba “at night”, supposedly to re-negotiate his come back to the PDP. Few months later (after unsuccessfully trying to sweep them away), he publicly declared for the PDP again. He was greeted with all manner of opposition. Even the PDP in his home state of Adamawa vowed never to take him back. President Jonathan thought otherwise. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was granted full waiver by the President.

Like Nuhu, Atiku benefitted from the President’s magnanimity and quickly “repaid” the kind gesture by contesting against him at the PDP Primaries. Quite an irony! Even at the venue of the primaries when Atiku threw tantrums, President Jonathan simply chose not to join issues with him. Well, he was beaten fair and square at the Eagle square.

The President at the expense of Atiku displayed a high level of magnanimity and Political maturity. Whether this magnanimity by Mr. President back-fires on him personally, the nation and our democratic process has benefitted from the broadened and dynamic political space orchestrated by this new found freedom. He has showed that if you are good, you need not waste your energy on running down your opponent, simply concentrate your energy on being better. Mr. President has set a good example of being a success without necessarily being a bully. 

(Sibe is
Strategy Coordinator of The Jonathan Project)

Report: University Of Pennslvania Group Releases 2010 Research On Think Tanks, Others

The Global Go Think Tanks, a leading world public policy research organization based in the University of Pennsylvania, united States Of America(USA), with James G. McGann as Director, have released its Think Tanks And Civil Societies Programme,  a programme designed to help bridge the gap between knowledge and policy.

The programme's outlines according to information available to chidi opara reports are: (1) Researching the trends and challenges facing Think Tanks, policy makers and policy related Civil society groups. (2) Sustaining, strenghtening and building capacity for Think Tanks around the world. (3) Maintaining the largest, most comprehensive database of Think Tanks.

Click Here To Read Report

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

News Release From The White House: State Of The Union Address

President Obama
Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address and outline his vision for putting aside the politics that divide us and moving forward to create jobs, up our game to out-compete in the global economy, and win the future for our children and our country.

This year we're trying something new.  As President Obama addresses the Nation, we'll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country. 
Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.

Throughout the week, we'll have plenty of ways for you to get involved and ask questions of President Obama and other senior Administration officials about the State of the Union Address. 


David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President

News Report: African Union May Oust Gbagbo

The African Union will this week discuss using diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions to force Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish power following a November election the continental body says he lost.
The bloc, representing 53 nations, has for now ruled out the use of force called for by West African states to install his opponent Alassane Ouattara as president, Kenyan Prime Minister and African Union envoy Raila Odinga said Jan. 21. The group began a meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday that culminates in a heads-of-state summit on Jan. 30- 31.
A failure to agree on decisive action may enable Gbagbo, 65, to extend his decade-long rule and undermine the group’s ability to uphold democracy on the world’s poorest continent, where more than 20 countries are due to hold elections this year.
“Ivory Coast will be seen as an example,” Anne Fruhauf, Africa analyst with Eurasia Group in London, said in e-mailed comments. “The commitment to promoting democratization has been ambivalent at best.”
Odinga said on Jan. 18 that efforts to broker a settlement had failed and time was “running out for an amicably negotiated settlement.” Three days later, he said the group would consider sanctions and isolation rather than the use of force.
A decision to impose sanctions would mark a break with the African Union’s recent handling of election crises following disputed votes in countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe retained power after using violence to force his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, to back out of the vote. An accord brokered by South Africa led to the creation of a unity government. In Kenya, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan negotiated a power-sharing accord between President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent, Odinga. That agreement followed two months of post-election ethnic fighting in which 1,500 people died.
A statement on the African Union’s resolutions is expected to be issued after the summit ends on Jan. 31.
“We have seen similar tests in the past and we have seen non-decisive action,” Steven Gruzd, an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, said in a phone interview on Jan. 20. The African Union has “bumbled through.”
The African Union previously used sanctions against the leaders of a 2008 coup in Mauritania and members of a junta that seized power in Guinea the same year. The bloc may be as resolute when it comes to dealing with Ivory Coast, said Mehari Taddele Maru, head of the African Conflict Prevention Program at the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa.
Senegal and Nigeria favor sending in troops to oust Gbagbo; Ghana and South Africa are calling for renewed mediation; and Angola has made a solitary call for new elections.
“Almost everybody is united in terms of the ultimate aim” of getting rid of Gbagbo, Mehari said in a Jan. 20 telephone interview. “There might be differences over modalities. There will be a lot of consideration as to whether military intervention will be successful.”
The UN estimates at least 260 people were killed in violent clashes in Ivory Coast since the Nov. 28 elections. While the African Union, UN and U.S. all recognized results showing Ouattara won by a clear margin, Gbagbo alleged electoral fraud and claimed victory. He was proclaimed president on Dec. 4.
The African Union suspended Ivory Coast’s membership on Dec. 9, calling on Gbagbo to transfer power to Ouattara “without delay.”

The Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, said on Dec. 24 that it may use force to oust Gbagbo if he refused to leave office. The group’s 15 members include Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
“Gbagbo is determined to defy and treat the entire international community with absolute disdain,” Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s foreign minister, wrote in a column published in the Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper today. “Ecowas requires unequivocal international support through an appropriate UN Security Council resolution to sanction the use of force.”
West African leaders on Jan. 22 asked Ouattara to nominate a new head for the West African Central Bank after Governor Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley resigned. No reason was given for the resignation.
The Senegal-based regional central bank said on Dec. 23 that it recognized Ouattara as president and that only people authorized by him would be allowed to access the state account. The decision was meant to starve Gbagbo of funds to pay civil servants and the military. Still, Ouattara said in an interview with Le Monde today that Gbagbo’s government managed to withdraw about 150 million euros ($202 million) from the central bank.
“It was unacceptable that he allowed the illegitimate government of Gbagbo to take out money,” Meite Sindou, Ouattara’s spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday from the commercial capital Abidjan, referring to Dacoury- Tabley.
Jean-Baptiste Compaore, who was appointed the bank’s acting governor, has ordered the closure of its office in Abidjan in an bid to block further withdrawals, Toikeusse Mabri, Ouattara’s economic minister, said by phone from the city today.

Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

News Release: IHRHL Calls For INEC’s Cooperation With Independent Citizen Observers

The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) wishes to urgently draw the attention of Rivers State INEC Commissioner and members of the general public to a  crass display of impunity by INEC Adhoc staff,  that forcibly prevented  accredited independent observers from observing the ongoing Voter Registration at the following  Centres Akpor Grammar School Ozuoba and Redeemed Church Premises Rumueme, on January 24, 2011 in Obio/Akpor LGA, alleging that they have direct instruction from INEC to so do.
The IHRHL notes that this illicit action smirks of a deep conspiracy by the Adhoc staff to circumvent what is meant to be an open participatory and accountable process. 
IHRHL also have received reports that unrepentant corrupt and violent minded political bigwigs in the state determined to circumvent the processes that could lead to a free, fair and credible elections, are hiring poverty stricken youths from neighbouring communities to register in Tai Local government Area in Ogoni Kingdom at a minimum sum of One thousand Naira only per voter. This allegation if correct is the latest method of vote rigging even before the ballot.
For the avoidance of doubt, the IHRHL is an accredited observer by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abuja under aegis of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE) to observe the ongoing voter’s registration exercise in Rivers State.  IHRHL accordingly have deployed observers throughout the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State to serve the purpose of noting successes, and challenges of the new process as a way of making immediate improvement and for the future.
The IHRHL mindful of the immense danger that the purported action purposes to the process, urge the authorities of INEC in Rivers State to immediately investigate the veracity of the allegation, with a view to curbing same directly.
Finally, IHRHL wishes to remind all Corps members admitted to carry out this very important national responsibility, that it is by reason of the stake which they have in the present and future of Nigeria, that they have been called to do this duty selflessly, with honour and dignity. No pecuniary advantage, no matter how high can compensate for their failure to do a diligent duty under God.
Nkasi Wodu, Esq.
Programmes Officer ESC Rights
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Article: How Ikedi Ohakim Desecrated The Office Of The Governor Of Imo State One Year Ago

Writer's wounded back, Allegedly by the governor
 By Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha
On the 21st of January 2010 the rogue governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Godson Ohakim desecrated the office of the Governor by personally stripping this writer naked at gun point in the office of the
Governor. Today is therefore exactly one year since after the “gubernatorial” miss-conduct of this governor.

My account of that unforgettable incident is already a universal issue.  When I broke the news of that incident, I was doubted and called all sorts of names including a “frustrated lunatic”, a roadside kerosene seller”, a “cannon folder”, the opposition attack dog etc. However Almighty God gave me the strength to sustain the struggle against injustice in Imo State. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave me the ability to withstand Imo State government’s machinery against the people of the state.

What was my offence to justify Ikedi Ohakims assault on me? Very simple. I exposed his activities for the public to know. I alerted the Imo State House of Assembly on the activities of this same Ikedi Ohakim. I alerted the office of the Inspector General of Police on the activities of this man called Ikedi Ohakim. I alerted the Presidency, EFCC and other security and anti-corruption agencies in this country on the money laundering and so many other activities of the governor of Imo State.

Rather than take up the challenge by defending himself, Ikedi Ohakim  approached me from “behind” to “mellow” down. But my nature as a social crusader did not allow me to go into any kind of discussion
with Ohakim or any of his agents ((1) HRH Eze Dr. Chijioke Okwara, the Eshi of Nkwerre, (2) Mr. Rex Anunobi, S/A to the Governor on Political matters (3) Mr. Steve Asimobi, S/A to the Governor on Electoral matters .(4)Dr. Chijioke Ekwegh of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN (4) Barrister Emeka Mgbudem (5) Hon. Ernest Ibejiako, member representing Owerri Federal  Constituency at the National Assembly (6) Mr. Ifeanyi CY Njoku State Coordinator Ohakim Youth Vanguard (7) Some Honourable members of Imo State House of Assembly (8) Some Commissioners (9) My in-laws from Isiala Mbano   (10) Some Directors of New Face Organization. etc.

Ohakim ordered that I should be abducted by armed men and I was brought to the office of the governor. However, the truth has remained constant. All the Security and anti-corruption agencies in this country have investigated my allegations against the governor and have confirmed the truth.  The
question is what then is holding these agencies from effecting the arrest and prosecution of this governor?  Why can’t the Federal Government step out and ban Ohakim from participating in the 2011
election? Why must the PDP allow Ikedi Ohakim fly their governorship flag in Imo State? At this point, let me state it clearly that the PDP will pay dearly in Imo State for allowing Ohakim to fly their flag.

The people of the state are now wiser. A situation where a man with flawed behaviour is allowed to participate in the political process will no longer work especially in Imo State.
The Federal Government should bow their head in shame for allowing Ikedi Ohakim continue as the governor of Imo State .
In more organized countries like Ghana, Togo, Cameroon or South Africa, Ohakim would have been charged to court for various crimes. Nevertheless, the 2011 election have provided an opportunity for the people of Imo State to demonstrate their anger against this man called Ikedi Godson Ohakim.

(Iwuoha is a Social Crusader and Facilitator of the SLAP Initiative)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

News Release: Buhari Says Voters’ Cards Are Weapons Of Victory

The presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari has enjoined all Nigerians above 18 years not to be discouraged by the hiccups that have attended the on-going voter's registration exercise but persevere to ensure that they are registered.

Speaking shortly after he registered in his Sarakin Yara Ward in Daura hometown on Saturday, Buhari compared the inconveniences Nigerians are going through with the labour a woman has to undergo before a childbirth. "My belief in the prospect of a new Nigeria remains strong and this explains why I'm still in the race after being cheated out twice. I see the moment of change around the corner and this is why I passionately  appeal to all Nigerians not to mind the difficulties of the moment; They must see the pain as the price to pay for the gain ahead".

The former Head of State added that those who have robbed our people their votes over the years would be highly fulfilled if Nigerians get frustrated in this process. "They would get all their Mike Tysons on the register again to continue the business as usual. We must not allow that to happen".

He also drew the attention of Nigerians to events in Tunisia where it took the self-contribution of an unemployed graduate whose cart was seized for the oppressed to rise up and take their victory. Nigerians, according to him, have a golden opportunity at the April polls to take their own victory electorally on a system that has ensured that election results never reflect their choices over the years "rigging starts from the voters' scroll and this is why obtaining your card becomes a weapon of victory and opportunity to vote for change".
Buhari blamed the problems associated with the voters registration exercise on system failure and leadership incompetence in the country."It is a shame that 50 years after independence we still lack the capacity to build data. There is no excuse for this. A country like India with a billion plus population holds census on a daily basis. You can see their population figures on Television every night. They are daily registering births and deaths. This will be one of the priorities of our administration, to give the country an efficient data system that we will never have to shut our schools again to register voters. Once people turn 18, they will just walk up to the data centre to get captured in the pool".
On the blame being shifted on youth corpers who are manning the DDC machines, Gen. Buhari said it shows the kind of decay in our education system that our graduates could not handle computers very well. "But is it their fault? Are we pretending that we do not have students studying Computer Science without computers. What is the level of education we have made available to them? If the ones who have graduated can't operate DDC machines. what will happen to the 98% failing in NECO and 75% bungling WAEC examinations? He promised that massive investment in education will be one of the cornerstones of his administration, which explains why the pen is symbol of his party”. “We are in a knowledge driven world and we must rebuild our educational system to be able to function properly in the new world" he said.

Gen. Buhari finally called on INEC to address all the complaints that have been made by voters and extend the time for the exercise.

'Yinka Odumakin
Media Adviser