Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Videonews: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Day 2012

Videonews: Fiscal Cliff Won't Disappear In 2013

News Release: Company Drops Complaint Against Right Livehood Laureate

Hayrettin Karaca

All charges of illegal trespass against 90-year-old Turkish environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca were formally withdrawn by mining company Koza Altin Madencilik A.S. at the hearing at the Criminal Court in Western Dikili today.

Mrs. Agneta Johansson, board member of the Right Livelihood Award, who was in Dikili to observe the trial, noted however that the mining company continues to press charges against the other defendants. These include environmental lawyer Hasan Namak and an activist from Mr. Karaca’s TEMA Foundation. Court proceedings against the co-accused continue in February 2013.

“The mining company withdrew the charges saying that Mr. Karaca was not local and did not know where he was during the alleged trespass. Mr. Karaca contested this and said that he led the other two co-defendants into the area that he considers to be public land. Nevertheless, I am glad that the charges have been withdrawn and that Mr. Karaca has been fully acquitted,” said Mrs. Johansson.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said: “We fully welcome the withdrawal of this frivolous complaint against Mr. Karaca, and contend that this is a clear indication that the complaint was only intended to harass him and his colleagues within the Turkish environmental movement. Now it is only logical for the complaint against Mr. Karaca’s co-defendants to also be withdrawn immediately.”

Sharan Srinivas
Programme And Research Manager
Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Article: Mr. President Got It Wrong On Fuel Subsidy Removal

Fuel Subsidy Removal Protesters In Nigeria

By Nelson Ekujumi,

Just last week while receiving participants of the senior executive course 34 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), President Goodluck Jonathan again just like his predecessors made a recourse to their familiar terrain of lies of cover up of corruption in the oil industry by remarking that the total removal of fuel subsidy was the only guarantee to encourage private sector investment in the country’s refinery business as an end to importation of refined petrol.

In the course of the interaction, Mr. President even made allusion to the fact that unlike Nigeria which has four dysfunctional state owned refineries operating below 30 percent of installed capacity, Canada has 16 functional privately owned refineries operating at installed capacity. Again, Mr. President’s analysis is lazy and illogical because it is universally acknowledged and justified locally by our people who have a saying that “Ohun to ba jora laa fin wee ara won” which literally means that “we only make comparison of things and events that have similarities”. The basis of comparing Nigeria to Canada does not exist in any ramification because apart from the fact that they are poles apart in the Human Development Index (HDI), Canada is neither an OPEC member nor an oil producing country like Nigeria . On the other hand, Nigeria can only be compared to countries like Somalia , Afghanistan , etc in terms of failed statehood or in terms of its being an oil producing country with other member states in OPEC.

The issue of state ownership of functional fuel refineries in all OPEC member countries of which Nigeria is a member is not in doubt and we will use this opportunity to avail Mr. President and his economic team this fact. Algeria, for instance is the World 15th largest producer of crude oil (2,125,000bpd) with 5 state owned refineries, maintains petrol pump price at US$0.41 (N61); Libya as at early 2011, (before Muammar al-Qaddafi death), the World 17th largest producer of crude oil (1,79millionbpd), with 5 functional refineries maintains petrol pump price at US$0.17 (N25); Iraq, the World 13th largest producer of crude oil (2.4millionbpd), with 11 functional refineries, maintains petrol pump prices at US$0.38 (N56); Iran, the World 4th largest producer of crude oil (4.2millionbpd), with 9 functional refineries and having the World 10th largest refinery (Abadan refinery, refining 450,000bpd), maintains petrol pump price at US$0.65 (N96); Kuwait, the World 10th largest producer of crude oil (2,49millionbpd) with 3 functional refineries subsidizes petrol at US$0.22 (N33); Qatar, the World 20th largest producer of crude oil (1.2millionbpd), with 2 functional refineries maintains petrol pump price at US$0.22 (N33); Saudi Arabia, the World 2nd largest producer of crude oil (8.8millionbpd), with 9 functional refineries and having the World 5th largest refinery (Ras Tanura refinery, refining 550,000bpd), subsidizes petrol for its citizens at US$0.16 (N24); the UAE, the World 8th largest producer of crude oil (2.8millionbpd), with 4 functional refineries maintains petrol pump prices at US$0.48 (N71); Ecuador, the World 30th largest producer of crude oil (485,700bpd), maintains petrol pump price at US$0.44 (N65); and Venezuela, the World’s 11th largest producer of crude oil (2.47millionbpd), with 12 functional refineries, and owns the World 2nd largest refinery (Paraguana refinery, refining 940,000bpd), maintains petrol pump prices at US$0.02 (N3). From the above analysis, one can see that if we want to make a logical and common sensical comparison on the functionality or otherwise of state owned refineries, our best bet would be with our OPEC colleagues with whom we have something in common. So the critical question to ask is, why are state owned refineries functioning optimally in other OPEC member countries except in Nigeria ? The answer which we all know and are sure Mr. President knows too but is trying pull wool over our eyes is the fact that the non functionality of our state owned refineries is due to corruption and not ownership, pronto!

Again, Mr. President stood logic on its head when he made an analogy of the oil situation in Nigeria to one’s daughter who has a boil on her face, that it’s either you allow it to remain and deface the girl or you make her visit the surgeon for operation at great pain, cost and inconvenience, the end result of which will be a beautiful face. Mr. President as has become his trademark and that of his government got it wrong again. The issue is that when one has a seeming problem, you first of all examine the cause of the problem with a view to proffering lasting and not cosmetic solution. My answer to Mr. President’s analogy is that, it is only the medical doctor who can examine the patient and prescribe the appropriate treatment and not the father of the girl who is naturally swayed by fatherly emotion to assume that if there is a lump on his daughter’s face, then it’s a boil, what if its just pimples? On the other hand, let’s even assume it’s a boil, won’t it be better and economical if it’s treated through administration of antibiotics and other non surgical means rather than the pains and scars of a surgery?

We still remember vividly well that this same old worn out song of the necessity of removal of fuel subsidy which has been over played by successive governments was also publicly rehearsed by the Goodluck Jonathan led government in 2011 with same ridiculous, insensitive, sensibilities annoying and illogical reasons like, a cabal is benefiting, fuel smuggling out of Nigeria is rife because of its low cost, appropriate pricing, deregulation, the need to provide basic infrastructures with money saved from subsidy, etc.

While the lies propaganda machinery were being corruptly oiled by the government last year at the expense of its constitutional responsibility to citizens welfare, patriotic Nigerians and groups came out variously to puncture the lies by analyzing that there was nothing like fuel subsidy but rather that it was corrupt payments (bazaar) being gifted to government officials and their cronies as a result of the mismanagement of the oil industry and even went further to reel out statistics of the cost of locally refining crude oil to petrol plus other sundry expenses which was put at N39.50k per litre as against the exploitative price then of N65 per litre at which it was being sold publicly at the petrol stations. It was also pointed out that the cost of  fuel per litre in Nigeria was the costliest compared to what obtains in other OPEC member countries. It was further exposed that Nigeria apart from being the world’s sixth largest producer of oil, was the only OPEC member country that does not have an accurate data of its oil production since its based on assumption because of corruption and also that it’s the only OPEC member country that exports crude and imports refined petrol for local consumption with the attendant economic loss of other by-products of crude oil to its economy. Just recently, even President Goodluck Jonathan publicly admitted that Nigeria was the only oil producing country in the world that is grappling with the issue of oil theft. With this rare public admission of government failure and irresponsibility, one had hoped and wished that if this government was indeed serious and patriotic, that it would deploy all its energy to combating this national embarrassment and scourge whose cost to the economy was colossal rather than trying to inflict further economic pain on the people through this fraud called fuel subsidy removal.

While Nigerians and groups were calling for debates and dialogue on the issue because we are in a democracy and also due to its socio economic implications, the Jonathan led administration pretended and went ahead to organize jamboree talk sessions with its contractors and sycophants to convey the picture of citizen’s acceptance of it’s illogical, criminal, undemocratic, irresponsible, irresponsive and invitation to anarchy proposed policy. Thus Nigerians were taken aback when they woke up to a new year on January 1st 2012 to a new price regime per litre of fuel at N141 in utter disregard for their wishes and aspirations, the rest as they say is history.

The fall out of the arbitrary increase in the price of fuel per litre on January 1st 2012 and the threat to civil disobedience propelled the House of Representatives to hurriedly convene and pass a resolution calling on the government to return to status quo of N65 which was disregarded as being mere advisory. The House also set up a committee to examine the fuel subsidy regime, whose public sitting revealed mind boggling rot in the oil sector and culminated in the committee’s final report revealing a theft of N1.7 trn of the subsidy funds and thus corroborating the long held view of the fuel subsidy regime as nothing but corruption at its peak. Yet, this was the same government that was busy churning out lies and falsehood to justify its anti people policy of removal of fuel subsidy, whereas the entire country was calling for an audit of the oil industry to check for anomalies which the people were convinced was the bedrock of the industry. The consequence of the report and public outcry forced the government to against its wish adopt it and arraign some alledge beneficiaries of the stolen subsidy funds in court of which we are all still waiting and watching to see if we would not be treated again to what late Afro beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti called “government magic” in one of his songs.

The latest call for total removal of fuel subsidy by Mr. President is an escapist admission of failure and one is shocked and surprised that it is coming at a time when the present government has submitted a 2013 budget proposal to the National Assembly in which it has outlined an expenditure of N251.2 billion for the repairs of the four comatose refineries. The question to ask is, doesn’t this policy somersault typify inconsistency, conflict of interest and confusion for government to budget public money for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) and at the same time be canvassing private ownership of refineries? Also, if in the last thirteen years in the life of the civilian administration in this country in which she has earned over $500 billion dollars from oil export, the Nigerian authorities are unable to make our refineries functional in terms of rehabilitating the old ones and building new ones when it cost between $14 – 19 billions dollars and about four years to construct a new one bearing in mind the recurring social anomie occasioned by this hike in fuel price per litre sustained by fuel subsidy lies and the failed promise of government to build new refineries ever since, then they should quit and allow focused individuals and groups who are indoctrinated in the ethos of democracy and true federalism take over and do the right thing. Also, we want to admonish Mr. President and his team to avail themselves copies of the Venezuelan ambassador to Nigeria , Enerique Fernando Arrundell sermon on good governance and prudent management of a country’s oil wealth to then Mrs. Re branding, Dora Akunyili when she was information minister just in November 23, 2009 to be precise.

The way out of the social anomie consequence of the never ending hike in the price of fuel per litre by the federal government under the guise of fuel subsidy removal can be found in our input into the making of a people’s constitution for the federal republic of Nigeria whereby the federal government is enjoined in the spirit of true federalism to hands off the management of the oil industry just as in other aspects of our lives like power, roads, etc because its an aberration and also due to its colossal failure that has made us a laughing stock in the comity of civilized and serious people. The federal government of Nigeria has repeatedly constituted itself into a big embarrassment to the sensibilities of the good people of Nigeria in usurping other state’s institutions responsibilities in a federation and thus should be barred from delving into areas in which she doesn’t have the capacity or the capability. Part of our recommendation to the constitutional conference which we are advocating for on the way out of our socio-economic crisis and this fuel subsidy removal issue is that states should be constitutionally empowered to either on their own or jointly set up refineries to locally refine the crude oil that the Almighty God has blessed us with but whose mismanagement by successive federal authorities has turned into a curse because of its source of friction between the government and the governed.

Any attempt by the present administration to hike the price of fuel per litre now or in the near future under any anti people guise should be jettisoned for the sake of peace and unity of the fragile and fractured Nigerian state lest the January 1st 2012 Occupy Nigeria street protest be a child’s play as we have all learnt our lessons and resolved that Never Again will we the people allow any group of person’s to negotiate our destiny on our behalf and in our absence.

A word is enough for the wise!

 (Ekujumi is the Executive Chairman,

Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), and General Secretary, June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations (J12CODEF)) 

Article: Systematic Emasculation of Africa Leadership(Part Four)

By Sophia Tesfamariam

The US mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was informed of every move made by the African Union, before and after key meetings. There are African countries that are kept in the dark about the Organization’s activities and yet, the Americans and Europeans not only call the shots but also advise Africans on whom they should elect and African leaders go out of their way to accommodate their requests. The US Charge D’Affaires according to a cable met with Deputy Chairperson Patrick Mazimhaka on 6 January 2006 and Vicki Huddleston:

“…asked Mazimhaka for ideas on how to ensure Bashir does not win the Assembly chairmanship. Mazimhaka (protect) said that only high-level outreach to key countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Botswana, Algeria and Ghana has a chance of success. Mazimhaka said that international partners should strongly encourage these leaders to attend the Summit and to vote against Bashir…”

Talking about selling out one of your own!

The American Embassy cables show the extent of the emasculation of leaders in the Horn of Africa. It is amazing to see how hard they worked to blemish Robert Mugabe’s reputation and instead of standing up for the elderly statesman who has spent the better of his life fighting for Africa’s and Zimbabwe’s independence, we find those who cannot even walk a mile in his shoes trashing him behind closed doors. These shameless coconut heads don’t have the guts to stand up for their people and they certainly don’t have the guts tell him how they feel, to his face!

In an 18 August 2009 cable, “CHARGE CALLS ON AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION CHAIR PING”, the visiting US official reaffirmed USG interest in deepening ties with the continental organization. For his part, the Chairman of the African Union Commission tells Ambassador Meece in his first visit to the African Union as CDA for the bilateral mission and USAU the following:

“…On Zimbabwe , there was agreement that the country's economy had been severely damaged in recent years, and Ping expressed optimism about the country emerging from its political crisis. Prime Minister Tsvangirai will eventually take power, he predicted. The only reason President Mugabe has remained in power is that his advisers have urged him to do so to protect their own interests, he assessed…”

At a January 31 meeting on the margins of the African Union Summit, African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and Acting A/S for African Affairs Phillip Carter met and discussed regional issues. The cable, “AU SUMMIT: AF ACTING A/S CARTER MEETS WITH AU COMMISSIONER JEAN PING”, details the conversation in which the Chair of the AU Commission is found once again bad mouthing President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Here is what the cable[i] said:

"…We know Mugabe should go," he confided. Some AU member states would even support a military option to remove Mugabe from power. But he cautioned that the military option in another country, the DRC, has left 5 million dead over 15 years, and there is still no change. "Mugabe will fight. It's a similar situation to Congo." Ping predicted that trying to force out Mugabe by force would ignite a fire in the region…”

Well, I had no idea that the fire raging in the Congo was a result of another regime change agenda gone wrong…

What came as a surprise to this author is the vicious attack on Mugabe that came from Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya. Declaring the power-sharing Agreement in Zimbabwe dead, Odinga labeled the elderly statesman, a "vile dictatorship" that must be stopped. That may have gotten him high marks from the US Ambassador who urged him to “keep speaking out” against Mugabe and encouraged Odinga to call on other African leaders to do the same, but he has lost all my respect. Odinga believed that the Presidents of Rwanda, Zambia, and Senegal could be convinced to speak out against Robert Mugabe…like he was…were they?

Well, a member of the Rwandan government agreed with the US that Mugabe had to go but said “GOR would not” get out in front of “the African Union position on Zimbabwe nor the SADC/Mbeki facilitation of talks”. That is a long way of saying NO…Rwanda will not be party to Kenya’s vilification campaign against President Mugabe.

It also looks like Zambia was not playing along. A 29 April 2009 cable does not sound too happy. The American diplomat doesn’t sound too happy with the President of Zambia’s attitude towards the UK, which was demanding that Zambia put pressure on Mugabe. This is what Ambassador Donald Booth writes in the cable:

“… the GRZ's flat-out rebuff of the UK visit marks a new level of unresponsiveness and intransigency…his dearth of leadership and vision, and Banda's apparent timidity, reinforces Embassy's previous reporting that Banda is unlikely to confront problems in Zimbabwe at the expense of his relationship with Mugabe…”

That is the way it should be. Why should Africans be coerced, forced and intimidated to snitch, lie, and undermine one of their own? No European leader is subjected to such harassment and vilification, why is it okay to vilify and malign African leaders?

So what about Senegal? Was Odinga right in thinking that it too could be convinced to join the anti-Mugabe bandwagon? He was dead wrong. To his credit, Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, a firm believer in Africans resolving African problems, did not join the herd. According to the Embassy cable[ii], he did not want to see “Mugabe be humiliated by the West”. At least Wade recognized it for what it was. He knew that the ultimate goal is to see Africa’s leadership humiliated and disgraced.

For the American diplomat that authored this cable, Africans resist and desist from humiliating one of their own said to be sharing:

“…a reflex, perhaps born out of their childhood experiences with British colonialism, to resist any attempt by foreign donors or other leaders to push their "outsider" approaches to African challenges…”

How patronizing!

In another cable, a US diplomat discusses the power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe with his UK counterpart. Neither one of them has anything good to say about President Mugabe. Here is an excerpt form that cable:

“…In discussing the agreement of the MDC to participate in a unity government with Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Brown indicated the U.K. views it as problematic, and Carter said the United States would judge on the basis of practical actions going forward. Both the United Kingdom and the United States are skeptical about the prospects of success in the implementation of the agreement and share the concern Tsvangirai may not be up to the task of coping with Mugabe's agenda and machinations. Carter said Mugabe's image would have to become even more tarnished before he could be removed from power; Brown agreed, adding the United Kingdom assumes Mugabe will "screw it up." Both agreed they will need to move cautiously as the new government gets installed. Brown fully concurred with Carter's view that the donors must be careful not to be accused of trying to undermine or derail the new government…”

From funding opposition groups, to imposing travel restrictions, to cutting off development aid, the neocolonialists have done everything to prevent Mugabe from governing his nation in peace. With God’s help and the support of the Zimbabwean people, he hangs on. It is not enough to just make Mugabe’s work of governing his nation harder, for these neo-cons, his image must also be destroyed.

In a way, I can’t blame US diplomats and members of the Western NGOs and media groups for their condescending attitudes. They don’t know who their equals are and don’t believe that Africa’s leadership deserves the same respect as that of Europe or the United States. Why would they when their own leadership doesn’t believe that African’s deserve to be treated with respect. It is not my intention to address the incoherent and racist US policy for Africa today, but allow me to present an excerpt from an interesting book about US policy and how African leaders are viewed.

How did the end of the Cold War affect US foreign Policy? In a nutshell, the U.S. came out of this era to see itself as a sole super power in the world, and its policy for Africa reflected the attitude borne. In the book, “Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy”, Thomas W. Lippman presents US policy for Africa in the post Cold War era and attempts to illustrate the reasoning behind the policy. In writing about US engagement in Africa and Madeline Albright’s appreciation of US’ role in Africa’s post Cold War transformation Lippman said:

“…Albright concluded that the United States could play a useful role in nurturing that transformation only by developing a new way of dealing with African leaders and governments. They could no longer be appraised in terms of their value as Cold War proxies, good if inclined toward Washington, bad if inclined toward Moscow. Nor, she concluded, could the way they ran their countries be measured by Western standards of performance… Many of the brightest new African leaders were struggling to keep themselves and their countries afloat in the face of economic collapse, military insurgency, and tribal rivalries. They were not interested in hearing lectures from Washington about human rights or, if they could avoid it from the International Monetary Fund about their interest rates and monetary policies…”

If defeating communism was Washington’s Cold War agenda, it was replaced very quickly with other wars that remain equally ruinous and incoherent. Not sure if it was a Freudian slip, as this author did not expect it, but Lippman wrote the following about Albright’s engagement with Africa’s leadership. He wrote:

“…Albright decided to accommodate the presidents and prime ministers she met and make an effort to treat them as equals, tolerating if not approving of certain counterinsurgency and crowd control tactics that would have outraged human rights purists…”

How condescending!

Treat them as equals? Of course they are not her equals, they are her superiors and not because they are heads of states, but because they have earned their stripes!

Most of Africa’s leadership has sacrificed their entire lives to liberate their people from the yolks of colonization. While Albright was enjoying her new life in the United States, these African men and women were in the trenches, fighting for their people’s rights to self-determination. They withstood cluster bombs and deadly napalm bombs to emerge victorious, not just for their military strategies, but also because they were intellectuals, second to none. Their education was not just in theory, but time and bomb tested on the ground.

Hired African intellectuals have churned out many ugly articles about Africa’s leadership, not wanting to be accused of racism, these establishments have hired Africans, to give it an African face and presumably to give credence to their insults on Africa’s leadership. The Wiki leak cables have exposed something even uglier; African leaders tearing up, undermining and ridiculing their peers. It is a disgrace and quite shameful.  

For the record, I am one of those individuals that has read and re-read the Wikileak cables from Eritrea and for the most part, with the exception of a few morally bankrupt and greedy individuals (labeled as democrats by US diplomats), I am happy to report that, Eritrea remains one of the few exceptions in the Horn of Africa. Allow me to end this series on a high note. There is hope in Africa for not all African leaders have been brought to their knees. There are many unsung heroes in the continent who have managed to keep their eyes on the ball, not to lose sight of the vision for their nations, in fulfillment of their people’s aspirations and dreams. 

Contrary to the leaderships in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, one would be hard pressed to find the President of Eritrea engaging in doublespeak, backstabbing, lies or gossip about any leader in the Horn region or anywhere else in Africa. No members of the Eritrean government have participated in any kind of servitude that would embarrass their people and undermine the credibility and integrity of their nation. Eritrea’s leadership is also not in the habit of divulging state secrets or national security issues to junior diplomats or Ambassadors serving in the region.

Neocolonialists (of both colors) have been unable to come to terms with Eritrea’s self respect, policy of self reliance and refusal to kneel. Despite the overt, covert and unprovoked hostilities against the State of Eritrea and its people, the Wikileak cables show, Eritrea has not been party to the emasculation of Africa and its leadership. On the contrary, Eritrea has stood firm on defending Africa ’s rights to development and the right of all Africans to live in peace within their own internationally recognized borders. Eritrea has stood with the people of Africa in their call for dignity, equality and respect.

The people and government of Eritrea have been misrepresented by US Ambassadors serving in Eritrea and in the region. They mistake their proud demeanor and label it as being “arrogant”; they misunderstand their cultured traditions and their reserved language as being “secretive’, and their refusal to stoop to engaging in street gossip as being “elusive”. These racist individuals have left no stones unturned to blemish Eritrea’s image and distort the reality in Eritrea…why? Because they consider it a failure when they cannot create another banana republic in their image…

So be it…

In this series, the author has endeavored to show the extent of Africa’s emasculation, not to insult Africa’s leaders but to wake them up and make them realize how much they have hurt the continents people and themselves. That being poor does not mean intellectually inferior. When we stick together and watch out for one of our own, we earn the respect of others.

As Sekou TourĂ© said, “We prefer dignity in poverty to affluence in slavery”!