Thursday, 31 October 2013

Speech: The World Economy Is Changing Rapidly

Kim; World Bank Boss

(Being opening speech by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the recent Economic Congress in Izmir, Turkey)

Your Excellency President Gül, Your Excellency Prime Minister Erdoğan, Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Babaçan, Esteemed Members of Parliament, Esteemed Ministers of the Government of Turkey, Esteemed Mr. Governor, Esteemed Mr. Mayor, representatives of industry, of civil society and of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to begin by expressing my thanks to the Government of Turkey for inviting me to this fifth Izmir Economic Congress. It is a great honor and privilege to address this gathering. In fact, being here also has great personal significance to me as well.

As you may know, the country of my birth, Korea, and Turkey share a close bond. The relationship took on special meaning in 1950 when Turkey became the second nation to respond to the United Nations’ call to fight under the UN Command during the Korean War. Over the next three years, nearly 15,000 Turkish volunteers, most of them coming from small towns and villages in the mountains of eastern Turkey, fought in defense of Korea. Some 721 Turks were killed in action.  After the Turkish brigade stabilized the front in the battle of Kunu-ri, the Commander of the UN Coalition Forces, General Douglas MacArthur said, quote, “the Turks are the hero of heroes.”

So as a Korean-American who was born in 1959, I owe a major debt to the Turkish fighters who joined the UN command. I am not alone; many South Koreans also hold warm feelings toward the Turkish people. At no time was this more evident than in 2002 -- 11 years ago, after the well-played World Cup match between Turkey and South Korea.
Turkey won the game 3-to-2. Just seconds after the match ended, Turkish players ran to their opponents to comfort them. The Turks and the South Korean players joined hands and saluted the fans in Seoul. And in the stands, Koreans waved both Turkish and South Korean flags. At that moment, Turkey and South Korea gave the entire world a lesson of true friendship between countries.

So you can understand why I could not be prouder standing before you today. Truly, it is an honor for me to be here to give my thanks on behalf of all Koreans to the Turkish people. Thank you. 

I am particularly delighted to be in Izmir, one of the great historic trading centers in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s dynamic development in recent years is expanding many of these ancient trading routes. It is an excellent location for our deliberations on the future of Turkey in the world economy.

This fifth Izmir Economic Congress is part of a proud tradition. Each Congress has occurred at an important juncture in the economic and social development of the Turkish Republic. And today, as the world economic system evolves—and as Turkey becomes more important to the global economy—you are embarking on the next stage of your remarkable journey.

The founding father of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said: “Economic development forms the backbone of the ideal of Turkey which is free, independent, ever stronger and more prosperous.” Turkey has made great strides in the realization of this ideal, thanks to a solid track record of macroeconomic management and structural reforms. It is thus fitting that your government, led by Prime Minister Erdoğan, has set ambitious targets for 2023 -- the centennial of the foundation of the Republic.

At the World Bank Group, we are also setting some ambitious goals:  earlier this year the World Bank’s Governors endorsed our twin goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent in developing countries. To reach these goals we will need the support of all the member countries of the World Bank, as well the private sector, civil society, and private foundations.

Turkey, because of the significant progress it has made in its own development, will play an important role. Turkey’s economic achievements are an inspiration to many developing countries. Indeed, given the considerable interest in Turkey’s success, we have started a project with the Government of Turkey to share its development lessons with policy makers throughout the world. Already, our teams are bringing delegations from various countries to Turkey for knowledge exchanges:  Malaysia and Kosovo were interested in the health sector; Iraq in the social security system; and Mauritania in the use of information technology.

Lessons from Turkey:
Let me share just three of the many lessons we believe Turkey offers to the development community.  These lessons also illustrate why we value our partnership with Turkey so much.

First, an example that is particularly close to my heart, as someone who has worked in public health for many years: Turkey took less than a decade to achieve universal health coverage. The introduction of the Health Transformation Program in 2003 initiated a root and branch reform of Turkey’s health system. Since 1990, Turkey has reduced its infant mortality by two-thirds, maternal mortality by 80 percent, and extended average life expectancy by ten years. Countries can learn much from these policies, as well as the sequencing of reforms to create quick wins for the population and overcome the resistance of vested interests. In our flagship training course on health systems reform, we highlight Turkey as a case study of success in achieving universal health coverage.

Second, Turkey’s energy sector stands out among many emerging market economies for the strength of its regulatory framework, as well as its ability to attract billions of dollars in private investment. It is also notable for its focus on renewable energy as a key element of a greener growth path. Turkey has largely eliminated energy subsidies which are fiscally costly and discourage much-needed investments in energy efficiency. As a result, Turkey is a country where energy prices reflect market costs.

Third, Turkey has learned from the devastating effects of the 1999 Marmara Earthquake and improved its capacity to anticipate, mitigate and respond to the risks of natural disasters. The Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness Project is a great example of a city-wide effort to improve resilience to shocks that are likely to strike along the great Anatolian fault line. Just a couple of days ago, we launched this year’s World Development Report on Risk Management, and Turkey is featured prominently for its work in this area.

I could mention other positive examples, from the strength of Turkey’s banking system to its experience in fiscal consolidation. Of course, Turkey’s own development agenda is not complete. Many challenges remain:  from boosting the labor force participation of women to increasing the skill levels of a young and growing labor force; from raising domestic savings to attracting more foreign direct investment to make growth less dependent on short-term capital from abroad. And we have seen around the world how important it is for citizens to feel they have a voice and a stake in their country’s development. To be sustainable, economic prosperity has to provide opportunities for all. This is an objective I know we share with Turkey’s citizens and policy makers.

The important message in all of this is: we at the World Bank are immensely grateful for the partnership we have with Turkey, because it is based on mutual learning, and on a shared quest for the best development solutions. I see my presence here today--and that of our World Bank Group staff in several of the sessions to follow--as an opportunity to deepen this partnership around the sharing of development knowledge and practice.

A New World Bank Group For A New World:
The world economy is changing rapidly. Since the early 2000s, emerging market economies have increased their share in global GDP from around one-fifth to over one-third, when measured at market exchange rates. Unprecedented rates of economic convergence, most dramatically in Eastern Europe, have been a key factor behind the fall in poverty. In this region, most of the Millennium Development Goals are likely to be achieved by 2015, and Turkey has been a big part of this success.

But these gains are fragile. The world economy has yet to return to the rates of growth achieved before 2007. Many emerging markets, including Turkey, recovered quickly from the crisis, but are now finding their growth aspirations limited by the prospects of tighter global monetary conditions. The fiscal situation in the US and the ghost of the European debt crisis continue to affect market confidence. The civil war raging in Syria has brought unimaginable human hardship for the people of Syria, and has imposed a heavy economic and social burden on Syria’s neighbors. Turkey has generously welcomed over half a million Syrians displaced by the war.

As an international institution, we cannot stand still when the world around us is changing so quickly. This is why two weeks ago I presented a new Strategy for the World Bank Group to our Board of Governors. We will improve our use of global knowledge to identify the best local solutions. We will partner more with others, including with emerging donors like Turkey and with the private sector. We will better coordinate the assets and experience across the World Bank, including our private sector arm, IFC, and our risk insurance unit, MIGA. Above all, we will be bold, ambitious, and flexible to respond to the complex and dynamic needs of our clients.

Our work with Turkey already demonstrates this new approach. Istanbul is already an important regional hub for the IFC, which serves more than 50 countries. And later today, Deputy Prime Minister Babacan and I will fly to Istanbul to open a new Global Center for Islamic Finance, which we are creating together with several local partners. Islamic finance has grown 10 percent annually in recent years and global assets are now $1.5 trillion. We believe Islamic finance can help close financing gaps for infrastructure, venture capital, and small- and medium-sized enterprises. Through the Center, we hope to support regulatory solutions and provide technical assistance so Islamic finance can help create jobs and prosperity around the globe.

Yesterday, the Turkish Republic celebrated its 90th anniversary. So much has been achieved since the first Izmir Economic Congress held a few months before the foundation of the Republic. In a little over a year, Turkey will demonstrate its role in global leadership by chairing the G20, the premier forum for international economic and financial cooperation.

We look forward to continuing our productive partnership with Turkey to help sustain your impressive achievements, to overcome your remaining challenges, and to share your remarkable experience with countries around the globe.

Teşekkür ederim. Thank You.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

News Report: Egypt Accuses Brotherhood Of Rejecting Reconciliation

Credit: Reuters

Egypt said on Wednesday it was committed to reconciliation and accused the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders are due to appear in court next week, of undermining efforts to resolve political turmoil.
"The government realises from its side the importance of reconciliation," said Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din in a statement.
"Those who are until now rejecting or stalling any understandings aimed at achieving reconciliation and stability for the Egyptian people are the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood."
The army toppled the Brotherhood's President Mohamed Mursi in July. Security forces killed hundreds of its members and jailed thousands, including Mursi and many other senior leaders.
Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected leader is due to appear in court on Monday along with 14 other senior Muslim Brotherhood figures on charges of inciting violence.
Bahaa El-Din has tried to find a way out of Egypt's political crisis since he put a proposal to the cabinet in August that called for an immediate end to the state of emergency, political participation for all parties and guarantees of human rights, including free assembly.
State-run media have whipped up public opinion against the Brotherhood and helped create a climate in which there is little tolerance for the Islamist movement that won every national vote after a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Near-daily street protests, clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi and rising attacks by Islamist militants who security officials say are linked to the Brotherhood have hammered tourism and investment in Egypt, a U.S. ally.
Bahaa El-Din said the Brotherhood must decide which course it will take in Egypt, the most populous Arab state.
"It is up to the Muslim Brotherhood to decide whether it really wants to stay in the Egyptian political and social arena or if it will continue its acts of social attrition," he said, referring to protests staged by the group and its supporters.
Brotherhood officials, most of whom are in jail or on the run, were not immediately available for comment. The group accuses the army of staging a coup against Mursi and undermining democratic gains made since Mubarak's ouster.

Bahaa El-Din said security measures were essential, but must be accompanied by a political framework to stabilize Egypt. 

Article: A Friend Or Enemy Within?

By Emeka Umeagbalasi

English Language is like Philosophy, who is an ageless female without menopause. The non-menopausal nature of the two is incontestable. While the oldest child of Philosophy is Science, which begat a twin: natural and social sciences with many more generations founded by them, starting from 18th and 19th centuries; Philosophy is still pregnant with the ante-natal/pre-natal result of “Logic”, “Metaphysics”, “Epistemology” and “Ethics” as her embryos. The Mother-English Language is even more ambitious. She has not only given birth to thousands of words and lost thousands as well over the years; but also adopted or “stolen” over fifty thousand “foreign sons and daughters” (words) in several decades.

This explains why she has different variants and meanings or definitions in different social climes especially in societies that use her as their mother or official tongue. Such social climes range from Ghana to South Africa; and USA to Trinidad & Tobago, etc. English Language still remains pregnant and stealer of foreign words till date. In social science research or write-ups, or investigation, just like the Statistical Package for Social Sciences’ computer software (SPSS), there is “right to operational or empirical definition and use of terms” (based on experiments or experiences rather than ideas, concepts or theories) that are universally embedded.

My attention has been drawn to a rejoinder over some of our organization’s recent public information or statements by Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma of the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN). One of the statements of ours is dated 23rd of October, 2013 and titled: “Separating Igbo Cause, Democracy & Good Governance in Nigeria (Egalitarian Partisanship) From Pecuniary Politicking (Libertarian Partisanship): Putting The Records Straight”. Mr. Nwanguma, before becoming the Program Officer of NOPRIN, was a paid staff of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and worked in a number of its administrative departments. His performance and conduct rating while holding forth in the said office departments is not yet the focus of this write-up. He hails from Mbaise in Imo State, Southeast Nigeria and resides in Lagos.

In his rejoinder, dated October 28, 2013 and posted on his facebook wall as well as those of his friends and motivators, he engaged in fruitlessly damaging attacks on my person and our organization-Intersociety; labeling us “agents of the Government of Anambra State and APGA”, among other unprintable and unprovoked utterances and pen-attacks directed at us.  He concluded his rejoinder with a threat to reveal what he felt he did not want to say for now. Our “right to operational or empirical definition and use of terms” was fruitlessly challenged in his rejoinder.

We have in our recent public information or statements cried out that the same people and groups that ganged up against us in the immediate past are back again. We are being haunted and hunted because of our insistence that those aspiring to occupy elective public offices in Nigeria particularly in Anambra State must not ascend to such hallowed positions through the window, but through popular polls. Our enemies have gone all out to even use our “friends” against us. But our armpits are not hairy!

We are not unaware of simple dictionary definition of the following terms: 1.partisan: showing too much support for one person, group or leader or; a person who strongly supports a particular leader, group or idea. Egalitarian: based on or holding the belief that everyone is equal and should have the same rights and opportunities. Libertarian: a person who strongly believes that people should have the freedom to do and think as they like. Freedom: the right to do or say what you want without anyone stopping you. Liberty: freedom to live as he or she chooses without too many restrictions from government or authority. Human Right: one of the basic rights that everyone has right to be treated fairly and not in a cruel manner especially by their government.

Following from the forgoing, freedom is idealistic (no absolute freedom society) because in a society where everyone is allowed right to do or say what he or she wants without anybody stopping or moderating him or her, then anarchy becomes the order of the day. This is the failed notion of the “Russian Anarchists”.  Human rights and liberties are simply defined as “democratically moderated freedoms”. Section 44 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011 and other relevant subsections in the Chapter Four is our guide.  Libertarianism also connotes “individualism” as against egalitarianism, which connotes “collectivism”.

We simply see partisanship as “interest” and understand our critics like Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma to mean that “our clarifications on Obiano’s alleged double voter card registration clearly shows that we are an interested party”; an allegation we strongly denied because of its sweeping nature. We have since apologized publicly over the erroneous inclusion of the names of the national Secretariat of CLO and its acting ED, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike in the joint statement of 19th October, 2013, issued by the Southeast Group 8 Rights Coalition.

The US concept of human rights is seen by many seminal thinkers as “globally individualistic rights” or that has libertarian setting as opposed to Europe’s “collectivist rights approach” or that has egalitarian setting. This is why we rightly termed our roles and interest in the November 16 governorship poll and the constructive engagement with the present government of Anambra State since March 2006 as “egalitarian partisanship (interest)”, as opposed to “libertarian partisanship (selfish interest)”. In other words, our roles and interest are purely for public or collective good.

In our own understanding of “partisanship” or “interest”, every activity done by any human being or group has elements of interest. As a matter of fact, “interest” is the propeller of every human action without which there can be no human action. But the type of interest you have in the said action or conduct is the bone of contention. Since we see “partisanship” as “interest”, then there is “non-partisanship” in any human activity.

While it is not my intention here to respond to Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma’s rejoinder line by line, word by word, paragraph by paragraph and language by language, or reply him in the same manner he despicably did, I consider it necessary for the sake of our teeming followers including our in-kind resources contributors and our idolized friends and associates in the media, to give his trash its deserved treatment as well as putting the records straight. I want to restate firmly that our priceless contributions towards the restoration of the brutally and heartlessly stolen electoral mandate of the Anambra People in March 2006 are not regretted one bit and will be repeated countless times if such ungodly situations occur again.

On the same premise, our constructive and transformative engagement or partnership with the Government of Anambra State in matters of good governance remains unshakeable. My popular relationship with the popular governor of Anambra Governor, Mr. Gregory Peter Obi is never in contention. At no time in the historic relationship have I looked for what goes into my private pocket, but what would benefit the Anambra public. My rare meetings with the governor are purely on State governance issues and not for personal aggrandizement.

Aside Mr. Peter Obi being my popular friend with no pecuniary interest attached whatsoever, my name and track records in the State bring food to my table and hopefully do so for the rest of my life. I have never sought to become a “crooked comrade” and if I choose to become one and  go militant by say, setting up “comrade boys” in over 200 markets in the State, I will be getting at least N1million every day from returns.  But till date, my name is never found or associated with any petty or large government contracts or building of motor parks or market stores anywhere in the State.

It is understood that “money culture” has taken over the Nigerian society, with serious damage to our value system, which makes the likes of Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma to think that the culture of upright living does not exist anymore and that everybody lives crookedly. From 2003 till now, I have been labeled and called several names all in defense of sanctity of the ballot box and good governance and promotion of collectivism. Sadly and shocking too, once you raise your voice in Nigeria, it means you have been bribed or induced to say or do that which you said or did.

For the information of our empty critics such as Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, the activities of our organization (Intersociety) are substantially supported through in-kind contributions and volunteerism. Cash donations also come from kind hearted members of the public including five market leaderships that support us with N50, 000 monthly. Just last month, Mr. Uche Umeozuruora; son of an Onitsha based multi millionaire, gave us a check of N100, 000.

Our friends in the media offer to publish our advocacy activities as their own in-kind supports to us in appreciation of our grassroots works. Just two days ago, a young female lawyer offered to join us as a volunteer. Intersociety’sactivities are hugely grassroots oriented. We are not “academic or theorist rights group”. Our thematic areas are “promotion of democracy, good governance, peace and security”, unlike NOPRIN, which is “pro and anti police conducts watchdog”. Anambra governorship poll is outside its limited mandate.

Further, we recently launched a public appeal for the payment of our office apartment rent which expires by the end of December, 2013. The two years rent is N400, 000. The N100, 000 we have raised is in our Fidelity bank account. The Umeagbalasi Services Limited has pledged the sum of N100, 000 in support of the appeal. It is also important to point out that what takes an average Nigerian rights group that receives foreign grants N4million to achieve, takes us at Intersociety 400,000 to achieve.

During the December 2011 public presentation of our twin publications, out of over N600, 000 realized through public appeal, N200, 000 came from our police friends, yet the two publications were on police misconducts in Nigeria. We are not “jack of all trades”. We cut out coat according to our size in terms of activities we carry out. It is clear that the public acceptance of our activities and our rising profile is very intimidating and these have some people unsettled.

That we “failed”, in the language of Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, to secure foreign grants does not mean that a rights group cannot exist or survive without foreign grants in Nigeria. In all fairness to Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, he lent a helping hand as an expert grant writer in our failed grant proposals he referred to in his rejoinder. Pieces of evidence over NOPRIN’s failed foreign grants proposals also abound. Those behind the activities and successes of intersociety including its board members are not jobless. They are genuinely gainfully and professionally employed. With or without foreign grants, we have made our imprint far more than those receiving lofty dollar currencies in Nigeria. Since the white man’s dollar is drying up, some NGOs in the country now move from “rights advocacy” to “rights briefs/extortion”.

I have insisted and still insist that NGO leaders must always live an upright life and ready to account for their deeds and misdeeds, which they owe the public they serve at all times. An NGO person must be ready to defend his or her actions in a courageous and stainless manner. Because Mr. Nwanguma threatened in his rejoinder to say if pushed to the wall something or things he thinks will be nastier about me and my organization, I will not preempt him. My lifestyle is always in black and white.

Before I became a guest of the United States Department in June 2013 on IVLP program on NGO Management, I was thoroughly investigated by its world class investigative agencies. Such an investigation was not for entrance into the US alone, but also for future interface. The current Chinese President, for instance, attended the IVLP 27 years ago. Dr. Joe Odumakin of Nigeria’s CD attended it five years ago.

As for Mr. Peter Obi attending my wedding reception six years ago, which Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma saw as a crime, the Nigerian Criminal Law has not forbidden it, so, for now, I am neither morally nor criminally liable. My popular wedding reception was also attended by the then Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the majority leader of the Anambra State House of Assembly, the State Commissioner of Police, the member representing the Aguata Federal Constituency, the DPO of Ekwuluobia Police Station and a host of other dignitaries from various social interest and political groups within and beyond my State.

As for Mr. Nwanguma’s further falsehood to the effect that Mr. Peter Obi attended the occasion of my chieftaincy title in my town (Ezinifite in Aguata LGA), till date, I do not have any title of such. I am only a member of the “Nze Na Ozor” title society, in which I was enlisted in 2005. Mr. Peter Obi became the Anambra governor in March 2006 and not 2005. I urge Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma to tell the world further all he knows about me as he threatened in his rejoinder. While we allow him to say his trash, ours is to put such a trash where it rightly belongs. I am ever ready to defend all the roles I played or actions I performed since I came into public rights activism in 2001 when I became the Anambra State Branch chair of the CLO.

Lastly, the only thing which I will hold my breath for now until Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma speaks again as he promised, is the issue of my relationship with the likes of Senator Joy Emodi, Hon. Dr. Christian Okeke, Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah, Prof. Iheanacho Orajaka, etc, as well as my “kitchen line bungalow” in my ancestral abode and my bus-vehicle, which I use as my official vehicle. Perhaps this is where he will go next. I have also been begged and counseled by those I respect highly  to  refrain from attacking him personally because a friend who undertakes to do a hatchet job is forgivable so as to spare him or her from falling to the bullets of “perfect crime” if such odd job is undelivered.

We see our present ordeal as a fierce battle against election riggers and their agents. We shall triumph as usual and put them to shame again. Igbo God and gods are not sleeping!!!

(Umeagbalasi is an Igbo rights activist and board chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law. He writes from 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Southeast, Nigeria)

Photonews: Unlucky To Be Born In Africa

Jovachi Mongonou had both legs amputated after he was injured by a shell. Photo Credit: Amnesty International

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Special Report: Human Rights Crisis In Central African Republic Spiralling Out Of Control

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the continuing large-scale commission of serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law during the internal armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). The armed conflict, in which fighters from neighbouring Chad and Sudan have been involved, escalated in early December 2012 when Seleka, a coalition of several armed groups, launched an armed offensive against the government of former President François Bozizé in early December 2012. Seleka seized power on 24 March 2013 and the human rights violations have continued since.

Monday, 28 October 2013

News Release: An Attack On The Nigerian Constitution

In what is clearly an attack on Nigerians’ Constitutionally guaranteed rights of association and freedom of movement, the Federal Government yesterday, 27th October 2013, illegally used the coercive arm of the state – the Nigeria police to storm and forcefully dislodge seven Nigerian governors as well as other citizens from the Sokoto Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.

From a government that purports to obey the rule of law, the disruption of a peaceful meeting by the police is not only crude, condemnable and unwarranted, but is a reflection of government’s growing intolerance and an affront on the democratic rights of Nigerians.

Particularly disturbing and worthy of note is that if seven Nigerian governors, all of whom are constitutionally guaranteed immunity from prosecution can be manhandled in such a brutal manner, what would be the fate of ordinary citizens who seek to exercise their rights to freedom association?

It is evident that the federal government is unlawfully using the police for its illegal and nefarious activities for the purpose of intimidation aimed at imposing the BamangaTukur-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on other party members and Nigerians.

The Progressive Governors Forum finds it unacceptable that Nigeria Police has been reduced to partisan agents and attack dogs that only serve a part of a political party when the levels of insecurity in the country are so high. It is reckless to take partisan contest to levels of warfare as the federal government has done because this would only weaken the capacity of security operatives in responding to real security challenges.

At a time when every security outfit and resource should be devoted to securing the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, that the Federal Government thinks it expedient to send the number of officers and the kind of equipment it did to harass its perceived political opponents takes governance to a new level of irresponsibility and rascality. Clearly, President Jonathan and his advisers have acted in complete violations of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended pursuant to some self-serving political interests.

The Progressive Governors Forum notes with concern, the role of other public officials in the persecution of perceived opposition figures like Senator Aisha Al-Hassan, whose events centre, A-Park Gardens in Abuja, which has been in operation for several years, being suddenly revoked by the FCTA and slated for demolition.

This is coming after the security details attached to Senators AbubakarBukolaSaraki and DanjumaGoje, former Governors of Kwara and Gombe states respectively, have been withdrawn, as were the security details attached Governor RotimiChibuikeAmaechi of Rivers State who now operates without an ADC and a CSO.

The PGF hereby expresses solidarity with the G7 Governors who have every right to fear for their lives, as well as other Nigerians that have fallen victims of government misuse of the unconstitutional harassment of members of New PDP forthwith and to urgently intervene and halt the authoritarian. police to intimidate, harass and oppress them.

We urge all patriotic Nigerians to rise to the defense of their legitimate constitutional rights and invite the leadership of the National Assembly to direct the Federal Government to stop using security operatives to harass political opponents.

We also call on actions of the Federal Government which amount to direct attacks on the little that are left of our democracy the National Assembly to direct the police to stop the ongoing regrettable and


Progressive Governors’ Forum


Article: Corruption, Abuse Of Office And The Culture Of Impunity In Nigeria

By Jaye Gaskia

In the past few days, as is often the case whenever a new can of worms involving one of the corrupt elites superintending over the grand looting of the treasury is opened, we begin to be fed with very nauseating, putrid, and unacceptable verbiage in defence of the thief and or abuser of our trust whose hands or fingers have just been caught deeped firmly into our collective teal!

And what do they say? What do you hear from the paid official and, patronage dependent clientele of unofficial spokespersons; as well as the hurriedly put together rented crowds of supporters rallying in defence of their ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ who is being persecuted by so-called political enemies or some other envious ethnic group!

Haba? What arrant nonsense? What a culturally convenient lie to tell to cover up criminality of the highest order, from the different summits of power?

We do ourselves loads of harm when we allow ourselves to be told, and to believe such patent lies! Some even go so far as to ask, why is the particular thief being hounded and chased about? Why are other thieves not being hounded? Was this thief the first to steal? Were things not already bad before the time of this particular light fingered pirate?  And on and on they go with such stomach turn and nauseating, but lame excuses to save someone who is after all just a common thief in high office, a common kidnapper, holding our collective development prospects captive by their looting spree!

Let us examine the most recent of such cases, the one involving the Minister of Aviation, with respect to the purchase for her use of 2 armoured BMWs by one of the agencies under her supervision1

What are the facts as we now know them? The approved budget for the purchase of 25 vehicles by the ministry in the 2013 appropriation act is N240M; 10 Toyota  Hilux Pick Ups, 10 Toyota Corollas, 5 Toyota Land cruisers, 5 Toyota Hilux Pick Ups, 3 Toyota Hiace Buses, and 2 Security Inspection vehicles.

The Minister on her on, and as far as we now know, went ahead to unilaterally approve N643M instead of the N240M approved by the NASS, and signed into law by the President, in the 2013 appropriation Act, for the purchase of 54, and not the 25 operational vehicles approved for the ministry.

Furthermore the agency, NCAA, then went ahead to purchase the  2 armoured BMWs for the use of the Minister, at a cost of N255M from this pool of N643M approved by the Minister.

We now know from the HoR committee on Aviation, the legislative oversight committee for the ministry, that the purchase of the 2 armoured BMWs was in the budget proposal submitted to the NASS, and which was rejected and not approved in enacting the 2013 Appropriation Act. We also now know the BPE contrary to the claims by the NCAA was not involved, nor was it in the know of the tendering process for the purchase of these vehicles.

Now, there are a number of issues involved in this case, quite a number of criminal breaches and gross violations of a validly made law of the Federation involved in this case!

For starters, in authorising a budget of N643M for the purchase of 54 vehicles, instead of the approved N240M for the purchase of 25 vehicles with recourse to the NASS, the Minister breached the 2013 Appropriation Act; And if she granted approval without the knowledge and or authorisation of the Federal Executive Council [FEC] , and the President; then this is also a gross act of insubordination and undermining of the authority of the office of the President, in addition to the institution of the National Assembly [NASS].

Secondly the N255M expended in the purchase of the 2 armoured BMWs is already N15M more than the amount legitimately appropriated for the purchase of 25 operational vehicles for the Ministry at N240M. If these are the only two vehicles that have been bought, then it means that in order to satisfy the Minister’s needs, the nation through the NCAA and the supervising Ministry, would have lost the opportunity for the purchase of 25 operational vehicles this financial year. In other words, the minister’s interest was a priority over the interest of the country.

If the remaining 52 vehicles have been bought or are in the process of being bought, then there are quite a number of issues to be raised? Where and how did the ministry get the additional N403M over and above the approved N240M in the 2013 appropriation Act? Next it is important to point out that whereas N255M was used in the purchase of only two vehicles for the Minister’s use; N388M was or would be expended in the purchase of 52 operational vehicles! In other words, the minister’s two vehicles alone is more than the combined cost for 25 operational vehicles! How cost effective is such a decision? Was the minister lacking official limousines? Is it the responsibility of the Ministry or of the FEC to purchase vehicles for Ministerial use? Do different ministers of the same government use different makes and or brands and specifications of official vehicles? Whose responsibility is it to decide, approve the type and specifications, purchase and ensure the maintenance of official vehicles for members of the President’s cabinet?

These are the questions begging to be answered, and they are the issues involved in this ODUAGATE that once again affirm not only the sleaze and rottenness going on in high places, but also the culture of impunity that underlies and drives the official, remorseless, and rapaciously ferocious looting of the treasury that has been going on, and whose intensity has increased tremendously in recent years.

So when anyone comes to you to say aferall it is only N15M or N403M difference; point out to the person that the opportunity cost of that is at least 25 to 52 operational vehicles for the ministry; the completion of a perimeter fence at some airport, the completion of the renovation of one airport etc; not to speak of the impunity involved in the flagrant breach of a valid law, and the gross undermining of the authority of the President of the Federal Republic that is involved here!

And when they make excuses about Oduah not being the first or only one involved in impunity; then let us respond by emphasising the fact that although it may be convenient for thieves and treasury looters to justify their pillage by claiming that they are stealing on behalf of their respective ethnic and or religious groups and sects; in reality, ordinary citizens from their ethnic groups and religious sects benefit nothing, and are in fact short-changed by their unconscionable and inhuman looting spree!

How many rural roads, fully equipped and fully staffed community hospitals can be built with the N255M expended on 2 armoured BMWs? How many Public Primary and Secondary schools, can be built, fully equipped, fully staffed, and or completely renovated with the N403M additional funds that the Minister unilaterally appropriated for the purchase of additional unapproved vehicles?

Impunity is impunity, and it is the bane of our collective underdevelopment and we should neither ethnicise it nor justify it on the basis of religious or political affiliation.

It is important to state that it is an insult to our collective sensibilities and our collective common sense to allow executive law breakers, abusers of office, and treasury looters to attempt to get away with criminality on the flimsy excuse that they are not the first or only one involved, and that what is involved is a small amount of money compared with others!

If we do not take a firm stance to reject corruption and abuse of office whenever it is exposed, then we would be laying the foundation to justify the political elite’s ‘turn by turn’ approach to treasury looting; and we would be helping them to steal in our name, on our behalf, and to our detriment.

Enough Is Enough! It is Time To Take Back Nigeria! It is up to us to take collective action to take our destiny into our own hands, and rid ourselves of the death grip and chokehold of these swarms of locusts and Vagabonds In Power!

 (Follow me on twiiter: @jayegaskia & @[DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on Facebook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria)

Videonews: 100 Years Of Secrets From The La Brea Tar Pits

Photonews: President Jonathan, Nigerians Pray At River Jordan

Photo Credit: News Agency Of Nigeria

Sunday, 27 October 2013

News Release: Inaugural Africa Legislative Summit Holds November 11-13 2013 In Abuja

The National Assembly of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Canadian Parliamentary Centre and the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), under the auspices of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) cordially invites all stakeholders to the inaugural Africa Legislative Summit with the theme “Emerging Legislatures in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities” scheduled to hold in Abuja, Nigeria from the 11-13 November, 2013 at the International Conference Centre (ICC).

Summit Host:
(1)Sen. David Mark (GCON)
   (President of the Senate)

(2)Hon. Aminu Tambuwal(CFR)
   (Speaker, House of Representatives)

(3)Sen. Ike Ekweremadu
   (Deputy President of the Senate)

(4)Hon. Emeka Nkem Ihedioha
   (Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives)

(5)Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, CON
    Summit President

(6)Hon. Ben Nwankwo
    Summit Vice President

Saturday, 26 October 2013

News Report: Kurdish Fighters Seize Syrian Border Post From Islamists

Credit: Reuters

Kurdish militants seized a Syrian border post on the frontier with Iraq early on Saturday, fighters and monitors said, after three days of clashes with an al Qaeda-linked group which had held the crossing since March.
The armed Kurdish group YPG told Reuters fighting carried on through the day and a senior security official on the Iraqi side of the crossing said he could hear gunshots, mortar fire and shelling.
The Yarubiya post and surrounding areas in the northeast were taken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rebel group, who had seized it from the army, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Ethnic Kurds in Syria have a complex role in nearly three years of conflict that started when President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on a pro-democracy uprising.
The ensuing civil war has pitted Sunni Muslims against Assad's Alawite minority and different Kurdish militia have fought on both sides, normally over territory or power disputes.
Kurdish YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters Kurdish areas in Syria were blockaded by Islamist groups on one side, Turkish forces on the other and the closed border with Iraqi Kurdistan. But he said it was "too soon to talk about using the crossing".
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Saturday peace talks in Geneva next month should be attended by Assad's ally Iran.
Shi'ite Iran has strongly supported Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi'ism, while Saudi Arabia, other Gulf Arab states and the United States support the rebels.
"We believe that the participation of Iran in the Geneva conference is natural and necessary as well as fruitful, so we are hopeful that this invitation is made," Lakhdar Brahimi told a news conference in Tehran, according to Press TV, which translated his live remarks into English.
The U.S. State Department said on Oct. 7 that Washington would be open to Iran taking part in a "Geneva 2" conference if it supported the "Geneva 1" 2012 statement calling for a transitional authority to rule Syria. Iran said it was "unacceptable to set conditions" on its attendance.
Lebanon Clashes:
The Syrian war has caused two million to flee into neighbouring countries and exacerbated regional sectarian divides.
At least 10 people were killed in street battles between Sunni and Alawite militants in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday and Saturday.
In Syria, 40 people died when a car bomb exploded outside a mosque in Wadi Barada in Damascus province on Friday, said the anti-Assad Observatory, which verifies reports through a network of sources around Syria.
State news agency SANA said many "terrorists" - a term it uses for those fighting Assad - were killed in the explosion and quoted a witness who said the mosque's two entrances collapsed when the bomber struck before the end of Friday prayers.
State TV said on Friday Abu Mohammad al-Golani, leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, a rebel group that has claimed responsibility for several suicide bombings, had been killed.
Fighters from the Islamist group told Reuters Golani was alive.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations.

News Release: “Update On Recent Attacks”--MEND

The week under review (October 20 – 26, 2013 ) was very eventful. Several well-heads, feeder pipe lines were damaged by ‘Hurricane Exodus’ in Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States of Nigeria .

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which we earlier infiltrated with the full recruitment of a high level agent resulted in the successful sabotage from within on October 22, 2013 . Throwing a ‘spanner in the works’ does not require rocket science or commando skills to execute. It only takes a belief in our cause to make things happen.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) now has agents inside every oil company.

In neighbouring Rivers State , on that same day the Warri Refinery was sabotaged, a Joint Task Force (JTF) escort gun boat was engaged in a shootout in the Andoni Local Government area. Contrary to the version given by the Nigerian Army spokesman, the soldiers were not ambushed but confronted and the attackers were not armed robbers but MEND fighters. The one-sided skirmish ended with the killings of three (3) soldiers and a policeman.

In Brass, Bayelsa State, another boat belonging to the Joint Task Force (JTF) was attacked by another MEND team on the same day the two (2) American sailors, both of whom are psychologically and physically in good health, were abducted. All the security operatives were killed and their weapons collected. This incident has been conveniently concealed by the JTF.

The sister of Mr Oronto Douglas, Special Advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research and Strategy was released unharmed as we promised. She however had developed high blood pressure and malaria during her captivity. Contrary to the claim the family made in a press statement that no ransom was paid, The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can authoritatively confirm that the sum of 200,000 US Dollars was paid as ransom.

Some so-called ex-militants and jobless youths who have sold their birth rights for handouts were again paid to declare that militancy ended in 2009. As they continue to delude themselves, display their ignorance and irrelevance, the region, as can be seen by the world is in turmoil that can no longer be hidden. We dare the so-called ex-generals to come out from their hiding in Abuja into the creeks to restore order. Also the Niger Delta Amnesty office in the Presidency, issued a contradictory statement that MEND only exists on cyberspace. You may recall that this same office made a public appeal to MEND to refrain from our threat to attack mosques in retaliation to Boko Haram’s attacks on churches. They also made a private appeal for the Chevron Tank Farm in Escravos to be spared from mortar attacks which were scheduled for October 01, 2013 .

In the early hours of Wednesday, October 23, 2013 , an armed auxiliary outfit (referred by the authorities as pirates), attacked a US flagged oil supply vessel and singled out the two (2) Americans on board. This action was also to show their disdain and content for an on-going Joint Naval Exercise with foreign Navies in the Delta Region. We have informed their abductors that Mr Henry Okah would have wanted the men released as soon as possible.

As hurricanes are an art of God, we believe the successes been recorded so far by ‘Hurricane Exodus’, is ordained by God.

Jomo Gbomo

Videonews: Unapologetic Cruz Keeps Sights Fixed On Obamacare

Photonews: Pouring Prayers On The (Nigerian) President

Photonews: 3rd MBA International Literary Colloquium

Friday, 25 October 2013

Article: Emasculation Of The African With Awards, Grants And Prizes

By Sophia Tesfamariam

I am always amazed at how much time and energy is spent by those of European decent discussing “Africa’s development”. Birgit Brock-Utne, an astute European educator of Norwegian origin, wrote the following in her book about those who insist on preaching to Africa about development:

“… when Europeans came to Africa toward the turn of the fifteenth century, they found a prosperous civilization and enormous wealth. Agriculture and cattle rearing, iron-work, pottery, fishery, salt-mining, gold refining and ornament making, weaving, hunting, and long-distance trading were well advanced at a time and Europe was still relatively backward…From the fifteenth century on, however, the fate of the two continents reversed….Africa stagnated for over three centuries as a direct result of slavery and colonial conquests. This part of global history, for the sake of maintaining a correct historical perspective on Africa and Europe, must always be kept in mind when looking at the contemporary African situation…The bulk of the African people fought heroically against the imposition of slavery and colonialism, though there were some Africans who collaborated with the white slave-hunters and colonialists as well…”

History of post-colonial Africa is replete with shameful stories of African collaborators who worked to undermine the progress and development of their own peoples. The west’s “divide and rule” tactics resulted in intractable conflicts, destruction and devastation of Africa, leaving its people at the mercy of the neo-cons and their political and economic systems that have sustained poverty through poverty perpetuating programs. The Structural Adjustment Programs of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are an example.

So it comes as no surprise when modern day collaborators such as Mo Ibrahim, the British Sudanese entrepreneur, undermine Africa and its leadership, for no other reason than to force African leaders to submit to Western economic and political ideology. Today, Mo Ibrahim tells us that in 2012 and 2013, there was no African leader that qualified for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. MO Ibrahim, who has made billions of the back, blood and sweat of Africans, joins the predatory fray, in taking cheap pot shots at Africa’s leadership, in a transparent ploy to present himself as more caring for Africa and its people than those who sacrificed their lives and limbs for the liberation of Africa.

Mo Ibrahim’s contempt for Africans and their leadership is evident in this report from the BBC[ii], which said:

 “…Mr Ibrahim says the good governance prize is needed because many leaders of sub-Saharan African countries come from poor backgrounds and are tempted to hang on to power for fear that poverty awaits them when they leave office…”

Afraid of being poor…do European and American presidents also share that fear? 
Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim selection committee tried to explain why no African leaders was chosen for the prize in 2012 and 2013 when African economies were obviously on the rise and much progress was seen in the development arena. This is what he had to say:

“…The economy has been moving forward relentlessly. However, economic progress does not give us a reason to be a little complacent about participation and the human rights of people…”

For example, western agencies have gone to great lengths to tout Ethiopia’s “economic growth”, but most economists agree that Ethiopia’s economic growth, subsidized by billions of donor funds, is not sustainable, and most importantly, does not translate into the betterment in the lives of the Ethiopian people. Yes, opening up its markets has filled the pockets of the corrupt and lawless minority regime’s cadres and “investors” (private and state), but has been of little or no benefit to the majority of the Ethiopian people, who continue to suffer from disease, hunger and extreme poverty.

The Mo Ibrahim prize seems to be awarded only to those who tow the western line, stick to IMF and WB prescriptions for the development of their nations and most importantly, open up their markets to predatory multi-national corporations and leadership considered to be amenable to the west-systematic emasculation of Africa’s leadership.

Speaking of emasculation…Here is a man, a Moslem man… given the name Mohamed…presumably after the great Prophet Mohamed, but in trying to fit into his British image…he prefers to call himself Mo… I am a Christian and in all my years on this earth, I have never heard anyone referring to Jesus as Jessie or Jess… how does a man who is uncomfortable in his own skin speak on behalf of Africa and Africans?  Go figure!!!
For today, let us look at how awards, grants and prizes are used to emasculate Africans…

Africa’s Leadership
It was in April 2013 that asked “Can African Heads of States Speak?” It was referring to a photo opportunity at the White House in which several African leaders were paraded in front of a gawking media, while Barack Obama sang their praises. According to the article:

“…These days, well-behaved African heads of state are rewarded by Barack Obama with the chance to meet with him in groups of four and have their picture taken with him. It’s like meeting Beyonce, but you get to call it a state visit. That’s what happened on Friday when Malawi’s Joyce Banda, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Cape Verde’s José Maria Neves and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma were paraded before the White House press corps, sitting in star-struck silence as Barack reeled off a kind of wikipedia-level roll-call of their accomplishments. They beamed like competition winners. It was all very feudal… You get the sense that they were given a nice White House tote bag, perhaps a signed copy of Dreams from my Father, and were then patted on the head and sent off to inconsequential NGO-led roundtables…”

According to the East African:

“…The meeting was to reward them for their support for US interests in Africa…”
Photo opportunities with the President of the United States and other western leaders, invitation to G7 and G8 meetings, are just a few examples of the rewards for servitude.

The one reward for servitude most employed by the western nations is “invitation to international forums”, and Meles Zenawi was chosen to serve as the “African face” on the Blair Commission for Africa and at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, in which he sold out Africa. Here is an excerpt from a 2009 report from IPS[iv] that details Meles Zenawi’s betrayal of Africa:

“…Twenty-four hours of confusion stalled talks in the Africa Group following Zenawi’s joint appeal for a climate deal with French president Sarkozy yesterday. “Ethiopia representing Africa” had agreed on a maximum two degree temperature rise and called on the parties to make a $10 billion dollar start-up fund available, raved the French….what appeared to be an orchestrated move, US president Obama congratulated the Ethiopians on their “leadership”….But Ethiopia didn’t represent Africa’s position at all…”

In 2012, Ethiopians are incensed when Meles Zenawi was invited by Barack Obama to attend the G8 Summit in Camp David.  

No effort was spared to make a “statesman” out of Meles Zenawi, as the darling of the west and awarding him with various prizes was meant to bolster his reputation, and elevate his diminutive stature-both physical and mental-amongst his countrymen and his peers in Africa. Allow me to present a few examples of awards that have baffled the minds, embarrassed and insulted the intelligence of the peoples of Africa in general, and the people of Ethiopia in particular.

In 2002, the World Peace Council[v] awarded to Meles Zenawi, the lawless leaders of the minority regime in Ethiopia, its “top honor prize”. According to the news report at the time:

“…The council unanimously endorsed Meles as winner of the 2002 top honor prize for his contributions to bringing about peace in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular…The council is awarding Meles for his efforts in the peaceful resolution of the Ethio-Eritrea border dispute, for his commendable work in revitalizing the process of national reconciliation in war-torn Somalia under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity… “

Meles Zenawi was awarded a “peace prize” despite the fact that he launched, with the tacit approval and support of the US Administration, a deadly war of aggression and occupation against Eritrea in which over 120,000 Ethiopians lost their lives as they were used as cannon fodder and minesweepers in his military adventures.

Despite signing the Algiers Agreements, which were witnessed and guaranteed by the US-led international community, the African Union, European Union and the United Nations, Zenawi continued to violate international law, reject the 13 April 2002 final and binding ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and dozens of UN Security Council resolutions on the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue. To this day, Ethiopia, with the acquiescence of the US-led international community, refuses to vacate from sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, the casus belli for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict.

Meles Zenawi’s regime, at the behest of the United States, also invaded and occupied Somalia in 2006 causing the greatest humanitarian disaster in Somalia’s history. It undermined and orchestrated the dismantling of over 15 Transitional National Governments (TNG) in Somalia and is primarily responsible for the current dire situation in Somalia,which is threatening to Balkanize the Horn of Africa nation. Ethiopia has single handedly disrupted and exacerbated any chance for national reconciliation in Somalia by harboring, financing and supporting various factions to fuel the fratricidal conflicts that continue to rage in Somalia today.

In 2005, in yet another insult to the Ethiopian people, Yara International ASA, a leading Norwegian supplier of mineral fertilizers[vi], awarded Meles Zenawi with yet another award. It said the following in its statements about the award:

“…The Yara Foundation Board recognizes Prime Minister Meles' decisive steps towards increasing food production and reducing poverty in one of the poorest countries of the developing world. He has brought about political change in Ethiopia, and placed the rural poor first in the country's development strategies…In spite of the fact that about 40% of the population is chronically malnourished, Ethiopia's food security program aims at enabling 4-5 million chronically food insecure to attain food security within 3-5 years, a major step towards accomplishing the Hunger Millennium Development Goal…”

The facts show that Ethiopia is nowhere near achieving the Millennium Development Goals on eradicating hunger and may in fact be going backwards-yet its leaders are given accolades and awards by western agencies.

So what are the real facts on Ethiopia? Let us take a look at the 2013 World Food Program Report on Ethiopia. It says:

“…Ethiopia remains one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 174 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. Twenty-three million people, 29 percent of the population, live below the national poverty line. Eighty-three percent of the population lives in rural areas, mainly the highlands, where 50 percent of the land is degraded… Population pressure, land degradation, poverty, limited non-farm income opportunities, market dysfunction, poor maternal and child care, poor access to social services and HIV remain the main drivers of food insecurity and child malnutrition…”

The WFP report also states the following:

“…44 percent of children under 5 are stunted and 29 percent are underweight, while the prevalence of wasting is 10 percent. Close to 800,000 people are living with HIV, mainly in urban areas, and about 1 million children are orphans having lost their parents due to AIDS. In Ethiopia, under nutrition contributes to 57 percent of deaths of children under 5. Eight million people living in rural areas are chronically food-insecure as they cannot meet their food needs even in years with a good harvest, and several millions are at risk of periodic acute food insecurity …”

Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi expanded the “villagization” and resettlement programs of the previous regime, in which villagers are displaced from their homes and villages to make way for multi-national corporations, in what is being touted as the largest land grab deals in Africa. 

According to a paper by the Oakland Institute, this policy led to the forcible relocation of indigenous communities to villages in the Gambella and Benishangul regions, where they were told they would be taught new techniques to produce food. Their land leased out by the government to multinationals in Saudi Arabia and India. The Institute's research showed that more than three million hectares of land had been leased out to investors.

Simon Allison, who worked for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation from 2009-2011, writing for the Daily Maverick, said the following:

“…Ghana’s John Atta Mills and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi could well have been contenders, but the prize is not awarded posthumously…”

What an insult to the people of Ethiopia…Such actions belie Mo Ibrahim’s high and mighty pronouncements about Africa and its leadership…and Ibrahim’s latest forays into Ethiopia and bids for lucrative industries there, says a lot about his motives and that of his sponsors.

By the way, Meles Zenawi was not the only African leader rewarded for his servitude to the West…obviously it took more than this one mercenary leader to bring Africa to the grim state that it is in today…

Intellectuals and Academics for Hire
Intellectuals are not especially well paid and it’s not only monetary compensation that they seek- what they really crave is recognition and adoration…and nobody knows that better than western governments who use academic institutions and hired intellectuals in their domestic and foreign policy formulation and delivery. They also use African intellectuals to advance their foreign policy, especially economic policies and agendas for Africa.

Let us take a look at what George Ayittey, a well known US based African academic, wrote about African academics and intellectuals in a 1996 article[vii]:

“…The most painful and treacherous aspect of Africa's collapse was the wilful and active collaboration by Africa's own intellectuals, many of whom were highly "educated" with Ph. D.s, and who should have known better. Yet a multitude of them have prostituted themselves, selling off their principles and integrity to partake of the plunder, misrule and repression of the African people…So hordes of politicians, lecturers, professionals, lawyers, and doctors sell themselves off into prostitution and voluntary bondage to serve the dictates of military vagabonds with half their intelligence. And time and time again, after being raped, abused, and defiled, they are tossed out like rubbish --- or worse. Yet more intellectual prostitutes stampede to take their places…Vile opportunism, unflappable sycophancy, and trenchant collaboration on the part of Africa's intellectuals allowed tyranny to become entrenched in Africa. Doe, Mengistu, Mobutu, and other military dictators legitimized and perpetuated their rule by buying off and co-opting Africa's academics for a pittance…”

A deceptive ploy to undermine African intellectuals and prevent them from standing up for their own nations, or does Ayittey really care about the well being of Africans?

I say it is a rotten case of the pot calling the kettle black…allow me to explain.

You see, George Ayittey is one of the members of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, a Washington, DC lobby group. On January 2, 2002, a symposium was held to discuss African oil and Ayittey and his group came up with a document entitled “African Oil: A Priority for US National Security and African Development”.

Let us take a look at what the Christian Science Monitor Reported about that symposium and its recommendations:

"… the IASPS hosted a symposium in Houston, Texas, which was attended by government and oil industry representatives. An influential working group called the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG) co-chaired by IASPS researchers Barry Schutz and Paul Michael Wihbey, which has been largely responsible for driving American governmental policy concerning west African oil, emerged from the symposium…Today, the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, a lobby group with members from the oil industry and various arms of government, will present a white paper in Washington. The document urges Congress and the Bush administration to encourage greater extraction of oil across Africa, and to declare the Gulf of Guinea "an area of vital interest" to the US…"

What about the politicians, lecturers (like himself), professional, lawyers, journalists and doctors who are today siding with the west to plunder and fleece Africa…are they any less sinful, dangerous to Africa’s development and the welfare of the peoples? Actually, they are not only insidious and ugly; they are far more detrimental to Africa’s long term recovery and reconstruction. Ayittey, has made denigrating African leaders his forte-and the subjects of his books and articles.  No doubt he knows who is buttering his bread….

Using nationals of targeted states to do their bidding is the latest modus operandi for neo-colonialists seeking to get a foot hold in the various regions of the world, and Africa is no exception.

Iraq’s Ahmed Chalabi is an example of such insidious individuals. Barry Lando, in his 17 December 2011 article, “Ahmed Chalabi: the Conning of America”, wrote:

“…Ahmed Chalabi, the brilliant, treacherous, endlessly scheming Iraqi refugee who, from 1991 to 2004, played a singular role in contorting U.S. policy towards Iraq…The book Arrows of the Night(Doubleday), written by 60 Minutes producer Richard Bonin… is a chilling chronicle of how this charismatic and totally amoral Iraqi exile, without any power base among his own people, was, at various times, able to con everyone from the New York Times, to the CIA, to the Defense Department, to Dick Cheney -- even Iran's intelligence chiefs -- in his single-minded determination to overthrow Saddam Hussein and take power himself…It is also an alarming tale of how a feckless American president, George W. Bush, buffeted by conflicting counsels of feuding advisers, stumbled into one of the most disastrous military quagmires in America's history…”

From using Ahmed Chalabi, a hired mercenary to bring down the Saddam Hussein’s, to the colored revolutions in the Balkans, hired mercenaries  of all kinds, have wrecked havoc in the lives of the Afghan, Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, Tunisian, Egyptian and Somali people.

In addition to mercenary individuals and co-opted regional organizations, the west uses its own national agencies as well as international “NGOs” such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ),  the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and other related organizations, as well as the UN’s tentacle organizations such as the World Food Organization (WFO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), various policy crafting think tanks, foundations etc. to advance foreign policy agendas vis-a-vis Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The last 15 years has exposed Eritrea’s own “Chalabis”, those who work to undermine the people and government of Eritrea in order to advance their own selfish political agendas. Two greedy individuals recruited by the US intelligence community are Bereket Habte Selassie, who according to the archives was recruited as early as in the 1970s[viii] and Paulos Tesfagiorgis[ix] , who was recruited later, soon after leaving the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in the late 80s. Both are multiple recipients of funds from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Fund for Peace. In addition to funding for their anti-Eritrea activities in Africa, Europe and the United States, both have been “awarded” with UN assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For today, let us take a look at the “awards” and prizes that have been given to Paulos Tesfagiorgis and individuals that he has recruited on behalf of western agencies.

Paulos Tesfagiorgis was also awarded the Rafto Prize[x] in 2003. This was after his recruitment and organization of the Berlin Group, self professed “Academics and Professionals”[xi] and the production of the document known as the Berlin Manifesto, in which Tesfagiorgis and Bereket Habte Sellasie launched the first of many attacks on the President of Eritrea and his government. All members of the Berlin Group now work with the minority regime in Ethiopia to recruit and traffic Eritrean youth.  According to the Rafto site, Tesfagiorgis was awarded for:

“…his efforts to improve the rights and democratic influence of the people of Eritrea…”
The people of Eritrea who sacrificed life and limb for their own liberation and independence do not need lessons from such a vile individual. As for democracy, he may have fooled his handlers, but not the conscious people of Eritrean who can teach the world a thing or two about real democracy and freedom.
Let us move on…

Paulo’s Tesfagiorgis and Dan Connell recruited Eritrean students to serve as the “Eritrean faces” in the orchestrated defamation and vilification campaigns against the Eritrean government. The following three are the most prominent examples and their activities in the various Eritrean Diaspora communities are a matter of public record. While there are others that have been employed by these three to advance the anti-Eritrea agenda, for brevity’s sakes, only the three will be addressed in this sitting.

Daniel Rezene Mekonnen (now living in Europe) was one of several hundred Eritrean students sent to South Africa for higher education. Instead of returning to Eritrea and fulfilling his obligations to the country and people that educated him, he chose instead to work for Dan Connell and the US establishment for pittance. He formed the group called Eritrean Movement for Human Rights and Democracy (EMHDR in South Africa.  EMHDR received grants from the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the same group that financed Paulos Tesfagiorgis' treasonous activities in Eritrea. 

EMHDR was paid to translate Gene Sharp’s manual on civil disobedience into Tigrinya, one of the Eritrean languages. In addition, EMHDR was also a recipient of funds from Dan Connell and his NGO, Grassroots International. Connell has been grooming members of the EMHDR who have formed other groups in the Diaspora with the hopes of effectuating regime change in Eritrea. More on Dan Connell, his work during the Eritrean struggle, his tenure in Eritrea and his anti-Eritrea activities will be reserved for another day…

Simon Mebrahtu Weldehaimanot, like Daniel Rezene Mekonnen, and several other members of the EMHDR have been given asylum in the US. Mebrahtu has been active in disseminating anti-Eritrea reports in academic journals and has participated in activities organized by Dan Connell and others at University of Arizona and other academic institutions. He has also worked with Sheila Keetharuth, the newly appointed UN Rapporteur on Eritrea and participated in forums in Ethiopia and other African states in which he has presented papers sponsored by her agency. In 2008, with Sheila Keetharuth at the helm of the IHRDA, with a generous support from the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Simon M. Weldehaimanot developed and filed a self serving case on the right to free movement, and right of citizens to leave their own country.

Meron Estifanos, a person of interest, at the center of the criminal human trafficking ring that is, responsible for the suffering of Eritrean youth in the Sinai and beyond, is also a member of EMHDR. She is also one of the Eritrean students sent to South Africa for higher education. Estifanos is also now a member of the group calling itself EYSC, whose leaders in the US have been charged with crimes committed against Eritrean Communities in Oakland and other cities. EYSC members are suspected in the burning of three Eritrean Community Centers in Sweden and other hate crimes. Today, with Fr. Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest hiding behind the walls of the Vatican, Estifanos is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of migrants who attempted to enter Italy thru the island of Lampedusa. Eritreans continue to call on the United Nations and the EU Commission to investigate her activities in the refugee camps of Ethiopia, Sinai and Libya, from where Eritrean youth are trafficked to Europe and beyond.

It’s not just Eritrean youth that have been recruited by Dan Connell and Paulos Tesfagiorgis; there is also a long list of Eritreans posing as “journalists”. Who are they and what became of them? The Eritrean Diaspora was introduced to these “journalists”, not through their works, but when the saga of the “independent press’ in Eritrea came to a head, resulting in the closing of the “independent press”, a little over a year after their establishment.  

Two “journalists”, Milkeas Mehreteab and Semere Taezaz, came to the United States, just days after the September 11 attacks. Supposedly, they made their way to Ethiopia and then to Sudan where they received landing visas for the US.  While in Sudan, they contacted Neil Skene, a journalism professor who was in Eritrea during the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict. According to him, he was contracted by the US State Department to teach journalism in Eritrea.  

In 2001, shortly after the arrival of the two journalists to the US, the anti-Eritrea media campaigns began with Committee for the Protection of Journalist leading the attack.  Frank Smith, head of CPJ and a colleague of Dan Connell, participated in Eritrean Public Forums (EPF) held in cities across the US. These forums which featured the runaway defectors from Eritrea were also attended by Dan Connell, NED representatives and other US officials. CPJ continues to host such events and is organizing another anti-Eritrea program to coincide with Sheila Keetharuth’s visit and presentation at the UN this week.

Every single journalist that deserted Eritrea somehow found their way to Canada, Europe and the United States. But that is not all. Let us see what has become of Neil Skene’s “journalism students” who managed to leave Eritrea under suspicious conditions:

· Milkias Mihreteab was awarded the Percy Qoboza Award from the U.S.-based National Association of Black Journalists and also Amnesty International’s 2002 Special Award for Human-Rights Journalism Under Threat. He was issued a US visa in Sudan and brought to the US just weeks after the September 11 attacks.
·  Khaled Abdu, co-founder and former editor in chief of Admas, became a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. Now lives in Sweden and is an active member of the group calling itself the EYSC.
·   Aaron Berhane, writer and editor at Setit, now living in Canada is also a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. After leaving Eritrea illegally, he smuggled his wife and children and brought them to Canada. Today, he is engaged with Meron Estifanos, Elsa Chyrum and Dan Connell in the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth. He is an active member of EYSC and has conducted seminars and workshops with Dan Connell of Freedom House in Canada and elsewhere. Most notably, he has engaged in the intimidation, harassment and terrorizing of the hard working Eritrean-Canadian Community and defiling their reputation through the local media.

·   Semere Taezaz Sium, a reporter at Keste Debena was brought to the US and was awarded Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. Lives in the Washington, DC area and still engaged in anti-Eritrea activities, including the intimidation and harassment of the Eritrean Diaspora youth through social networking sites and cyber forums.
·   Biniam Simon was recruited by Reporters Sans Frontiers’ Vincent Laurent and smuggled into France. He now runs Radio Erena, an RSF sponsored outfit. Meron Estifanos also works for this outfit. Like his partners in crime, Simon has been engaged in the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth and uses his radio program to entice and lure gullible young Eritreans into committing crimes against their own people, and endangering their lives through illegal migration.

I have only mentioned the mercenaries from the Horn of Africa that I have followed since 2001…no doubt there are more out there that need to be exposed. For the most part, Eritreans know who they are, but some of those born and raised in the Diaspora do not…it is more so for their benefit that I decided to pen this piece for today…

So…if there are no recipients for the Mo Ibrahim Prize this year, it must be a good sign…it means the people of Africa are becoming more conscious and its leaders are rejecting western prescriptions for their countries. It means they are rejecting the emasculation of the continent and its people…it means hired mercenaries are no longer able to hide behind the cloak of “democracy”, “human rights”, and “Press freedom” to advance illicit political agendas.
Can’t respect others, if one has no self respect…