ne negative about Nigeria is the fact that the country lacks effective data-bases that could be relied on for policy and development purposes. Almost all that is done is built on estimation. Thus, it would not be out of place to peg its population at 170 million currently.
And, based on this estimation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that the country should have 170 centres for cancer, that dreaded ailment that continues to take a toll on various parts of the world. But how many are in existence? Again, how affordable are its treatment, especially in a country filled with indigents and high dependants on government?
Some of these thoughts may have prodded Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, to come up with the State’s Cancer Research Institute Law passed in 2017 and aimed at not just making Lagos another first in such efforts among states, but also making sufferers feel the impact of government through subsidized and affordable medical care.
It is believed that an estimated 80,000 people die annually in Nigeria from the different forms of cancer and the situation could be worse by 2030. Streamlining this down to Lagos with a huge population hovering between 23 million and 24 million, becoming pro-active in this regard will not be a waste.
The law, as passed by the Lagos Assembly, provides for researches concerning the ‘Big C’ and other related issues. It also provides for “latest and advanced technological diagnostic instruments for the treatment of the disease and those close to it. This would, in a way, reduce dependence on medical tourism which, in a way, affects the state’s economy. The law also tends to fully move for the improvement of state hospitals where such care would be given as classic professionalism from the caregivers. Would such an opportunity help reduce unemployment?
While the answer remains obvious, the real picture should be how it would enhance the already sustained great relationship between the government and the people. Section 4 of the law talks about a board for the institute peopled with a chairman who ‘shall’ be an oncologist, two medical practitioners, a representative each from the WHO, the Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID, an experience nurse, a clinical pharmacist, a cancer survivor with integrity, a representative from complementary alternative medicine practice and a medical director.
“The institute shall appoint such number of professional and non-professional staff including reputable and competent consultants in the medical field and allied development services for the purpose of effectively discharging its functions under this law,” states section 27(1) of the law with 35 sections passed by Akinwunmi Ambode on February 8, 2018.
While sections 9 to 12 of the bill talk about the functions of the board, section 13 makes it mandatory for a cancer registry and screening centre to be opened in all the local government areas of the state to provide primary attention to those diagnosed with the ailment, carry out a referral of such patients to a state-owned tertiary healthcare facility and collate data relating to the ailment.
Among a list of assistants to be carried out by the institute, its tasks include conducting researches, investigations, experiments and studies relating to the cause, prevention and treatment of cancer; carrying our enlightenment campaigns on the disease; collaborating with related agencies in and outside the country; providing medical assistance to patience.
One very interesting part of the law sees government’s practical commitment to the protection of lives and ensuring that the governed are satisfied. It stipulates in section 15: “A cancer patient admitted or being treated in any state-owned tertiary institution or medical centre shall have the payment for the treatment and drugs subsidized through endowment fund or grants allocated for this purpose.” True to professionalism, the law emphasizes that keeping the identities of patients secret, except for authorized purposes. It also kicks against stigmatization of victims.
To ensure that the institute stands the test of time, the law makes provision for a council to oversee its operations and monitor implementation of government policies as it relates to cancer. The council is further expected to monitor outbreak of infectious diseases and formulate policies for the institute.
In her assessment of the bill sponsored by Obasa, a Lagos resident, Bilkis Ogunnub, noted in an opinion piece published by The Punch that “in Nigeria, breast and cervical cancers are the commonest ones diagnosed in women, while prostate cancer remains the often diagnosed for men. And like other developing countries, cancer remains a public health challenge in Nigeria where approximately 10,000 people die and 250,000 new cases are reported annually.”
“But this disease that can affect male and female of all ages does not just appear out of nowhere; it has definite causes that can be corrected if the body has enough time, and if actions are taken to change the body’s internal environment to one that creates health while at the same time attacking cancerous cells and tumour by exploiting their weaknesses,” she adds.
Ogunnub notes that cancer is a curable disease that should not be allowed to terminate life, but must be detected early enough.
Ogunnub is not the only Lagosian who has commended Speaker Obasa for coming up with this heart-warming law. There is no doubting the fact that the executive and the legislature in Lagos are marching towards a greater and more inhabitable state. There is also no doubt that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will look at this bill favourably and make Lagos proud.
Jide Babafemi, an analyst and resident of Lagos, writes from Ikorodu
I am now Dr Clem by affidavit
Hello people, Good Tuesday morning to everyone and To Whom It May Concern. Having resolved all contractions I now wish to be known and addressed as Dr. Clem Aguiyi by affidavit.
Last week, I successfully procured a doctorate degree certificate through an affidavit which I swore to in a Magistrate Court.
To further support my claim, I also have a recommendation letter from the former Dean of my faculty who died some 50 years ago. In the said letter he testified that I am very creative mind, a stable genius capable of writing a PHD desertion with distinction in any subject.
If you wish to see any of my previous qualifications, kindly be informed that termites attacked my country home and ate them up while a snake swallowed the records kept with the school.
However, if you still feel aggrieved and want to waste your time in further pursuit of this matter you can take your petition to the Court of Appeal or any court in Nigeria where the judges will explain to you that an artisan can take out an affidavit and overnight becomes an engineer, and a cleaner in the hospital can become a nurse if only he/she can procure an affidavit.
The above in a nutshell is the new rule as held by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal and it will be judiciously cited from hence that qualification is needless once an affidavit can be procured. So abolish the schools.
Nevertheless, the issue before the tribunal was not if President Buhari was constitutionally qualified to run for president but whether he possessed the qualification he claimed to have. Why did the tribunal abdicate this responsibility?
The issue of qualification is a constitutional requirement and the grounds for qualification are many. A person desirous of standing for election must identify the best constitutional provision that makes him qualified and use as his qualification.
He should also attach proof of his qualification to the INEC form CF001.
A person is not allowed to simply say that he/she is qualified after the election, by relying on any of the Constitutional provisions. You must choose your qualifications and swim or sink with it. Buhari did not say that his qualification was being educated up to secondary school certificate level; he said that he obtained the secondary school certificate. He did not rely on his ability to speak, understand and write English language, he said that he had the Secondary School Certificate, not the equivalent. Therefore, he is to swim or sink with a Secondary School Certificate.
I align myself with the written opinion of Jibrin Okutepa where he submitted that the Court of Appeal is manifestly wrong to have enlarged Buhari’s grounds of qualification by ascribing to him, qualifications that he never claimed to rely on in his form CF001.
The burden of proof is on the party who alleges. However, the burden shifts to the respondent the moment the petitioner showed that the 2nd Respondent did not meet the requirement of qualification as required in form CF001 (which is a form made pursuant to the Electoral Act and therefore part of the Act) to attach all evidence of educational qualifications.
The petitioners showed the court that the 2nd Respondent did not attach the certificates he relied on for his qualification as a mandatory requirement of the Electoral Act vide the Form CF001. It then becomes the duty of Buhari to show why he did not attach evidence of his qualification to the said form.
In his bid to justify his failure to comply with the law as required in form CF001, to attach evidence of his educational qualifications, Buhari deposed to a separate affidavit (not the verifying affidavit that forms part of the form CF001) at the FCT High Court in 2014, wherein he claimed that his certificates as listed in the form CF001 are currently with the Secretary of Army Board.
The petitioners show to the court that that Army denied the claims in that affidavit. At this point, it became the duty of Buhari to produce the certificate from the Army and he failed to do so. In fact, Buhari never testified in court. Instead, his own witness testified against his interest upon their own questions. The petitioners discharged their burden of proof even beyond the threshold of the criminal law standard.
It is mindboggling that the court chose to descend into the arena and even went to shop for a defense for Buhari and thereby fabricated an explanation for the lies. One of the judges even called this ground an allegation of perjury.
The Court totally decided to be ignorant of the decision of the Supreme Court in *ABDULRAUF ABDULKADIR MODIBBO VS. MUSTAPHA USMAN & 2 ORS.* delivered on 30th July, 2019 wherein the meaning of FALSE DECLARATION was defined and the consequences/standard of proving same were established. They went on a voyage of inferences and imagined that Buhari truly submitted his certificates to the Army in 1961 even when his course mate clearly stated in open court that none of them gave any certificate to the Army. The judges chose to disregard these testimonies by saying that the witness was not in the position of making that determination. Remember, Buhari brought him in order to make the point that they submitted their certificate to the Army. So, this is the court, making overt efforts to defend Buhari.
Note that Buhari never claimed that his certificates were missing or that he is unaware of its whereabouts. He made a clear declaration in an affidavit that his certificates were with the Army. The Petitioners demonstrated that the Army have denied being in possession of the certificates. At this point, it becomes the duty of Buhari to make sure that the Army produces his certificates. He is making a positive assertion that a certificate exists, while the Petitioners asserted that it doesn’t. So, a negative assertion cannot be proved, it only needs to be stated. It is the duty of the person who asserts the positive to proof its existence. Buhari failed to do this and the Court applauded him for it for failing to produce his certificates from the Army for the inspection of the Court.
I will encourage Atiku to approach the Supreme Court not because he will get justice there but to prove to the world that Nigeria’s case is now totally hopeless whereby judges who ought to be the last hope of the common man now constitute themselves as businessmen ready to hand judgement to the most powerful.
The tribunal never made any reference to the defense of any of the respondents in his judgement. It went on to obtain evidence that were never before the court and relied on same to dismiss the petition. They erroneously inferred that Buhari must have got a certificate before the Army recruited him in 1961, in spite of conflicting evidence of when exactly Buhari even joined the Army.
One of the judges told Nigeria that an old witness cannot lie, but forgot that the same witness had said Buhari was recruited into the Army in 1962. So, were the judges actually the 4th Respondents? Yes, they were and that was the reason for their unanimity of decision. They gave a judgement that is disconnect from the facts and laws placed before them.
How Nigeria got hit with a $9.6bn judgement debt
Nigeria has received a legal hiding after a UK court awarded a private company a $9.6 billion judgement debt against the West African nation. The ruling has generated significant attention in both domestic and international media. This is understandable given that the sum amounts to 20% of the country’s foreign reserves. This means it poses a significant threat to its economy.
The big question is: What went wrong? How did Nigeria end up in this costly situation? For the answer, we must look back to January 2010 and a gas supply contract that went horribly wrong.
On 11 January 2010 Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), a company based in the British Virgin Islands, signed a contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria. This contract is called a gas supply and processing agreement. Nigeria’s government agreed that, over a 20-year period, it would supply natural gas (wet gas) to P&ID’s production facility.
In return, P&ID would process the wet gas by removing natural gas liquids and return approximately 85% of it to the government in the form of lean gas. This lean gas was to be returned at no cost to the Nigerian government.
Based on this agreement, Nigeria was supposed to arrange for the supply of wet gas to P&ID’s gas processing facility which it intended to build in the country’s Cross Rivers State. This required the government to construct pipelines and arrange facilities for transporting the wet gas. The government failed to do this for three years.
P&ID viewed this failure as a repudiation of the contract. In simpler terms, this means that the government renounced their obligation under the contract. Consequently, in March 2013, P&ID began an arbitration action against the government before a London tribunal.
Clause 20 of the agreement, which both parties signed, provided that any disputes were to be resolved by arbitration with the seat of arbitration being London, England or any other place agreed by the parties. Nigeria tried to contest this, but its appeal to have the tribunal sit in Nigeria failed.
At the tribunal, P&ID claimed that it had invested $40 million in the project even though it had not acquired the land or built any facilities for gas processing. It claimed damages of about $6.6 billion: the amount of the net income it would have earned over the 20-year period of the agreement.
In response, the government argued that the damages claimed were not a fair and reasonable consequence of the government’s breach of the agreement. This is because P&ID never commenced building the gas processing facility. It also argued that P&ID should be awarded only three years’ worth of income as by that time, the company should have found some other profitable investment which would reduce its losses from the breach.
Similarly, the government objected to the measure of estimated expenses and income stream which P&ID used to calculate its damages claim.
In July 2015 the tribunal decided that by failing to fulfil its obligations, the government had repudiated the agreement. P&ID was therefore entitled to damages.
In January 2017, the tribunal by a majority of 2 to 1 made a final award of $6.597 billion together with interest at the rate of 7% starting from 20th March 2013 until payment is made. The 7% interest reflects what P&ID would have paid to borrow the money or earned by investing the money in Nigeria.
Following the tribunal’s award of damages, in March 2018, P&ID brought an action before the Queen’s Bench Division of the English Commercial Court. It wanted permission to enforce the damages awarded by the tribunal. Despite delays by the Nigerian government, on 16th August 2019, the court made an order enforcing the tribunal’s final award which now stands at about $9.6 billion.
In making this award, the court noted that the damages awarded were purely compensatory and not intended to punish the Nigerian government. The court also confirmed that there were no public policy grounds on which the award should not be enforced. This decision converts the arbitration award to a legal judgement.
This case perhaps highlights issues with Nigeria’s ability to effectively manage its oil and gas resources as well as its facilities. Between January and June 2019 alone, it is reported that Nigeria lost 22 million barrels of crude oil.
These losses have been largely attributed to pipeline vandalism and aged pipelines. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recently spent billions on oil pipelines maintenance. But other problems, such as corruption and fraud in awarding security surveillance contracts for pipelines, persist.
The $9.6 billion appears to be the largest amount of damages awarded against Nigeria to date. Evidence however suggests this is not the first time that Nigeria has failed to meet its contractual obligations. In 2016 it was reported that investors in Nigeria’s power sector threatened to pull out due to the government’s failure to meet its contractual obligations.
This case also demonstrates an ongoing issue with the government’s attitude to critical infrastructural projects. The Mambilla hydroelectric power project is a case in point. In spite of the huge potential offered by the project, it has been plagued by several controversies ranging from corruption and embezzlement of funds to the “irregular” awarding of contracts, and a general lack of political will.
The Nigerian government is yet to pay the judgement debt. Allegations of domestic and international conspiracy surrounding the agreement continue to abound. For now, the government has said that it intends to appeal the amount awarded.
• Akanmidu is a Lecturer in Law at the De Montfort University, England. This article was first published in The Conversation
Atiku-Buhari verdict and false narrative
Prelude to the 2023 general election, one of several lessons stands out from the judgement of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) in Abuja on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.
It’s the urgent need for the government – the executive and legislature – to work together, to “further” amend and pass the reviewed 2010 Electoral Act, to which President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent in late 2018.
The reason being that, whether deliberately or by sheer ignorance, many Nigerians are running with a false narrative reportedly emanating from the verdict of the PEPT, as regards certification for qualification for placement in any endeavour.
To the propagators, the five-man panel of Justices of the Appeal Court has pronounced that Nigerians need no certificates to back up their qualifications for elective offices, or any other positions for that matter.
That the mere filing of your qualifications, with no certificates attached for authentication, is enough evidence that you’re qualified for the desired position or office.
Conventional and social media have been buzzing with this narrative, with one poster on Facebook screaming on his wall: “What a plot! Nigeria does not need certificates anymore. Just list schools and you are done.”
The post attracted frenetic comments lampooning not only the judges, but President Buhari, accusing him of “inducing” the PEPT members to align with his alleged “no qualification” for the presidency.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), like its diehard members, “never expected anything different from the Buhari judges,” one respondent said on Wednesday.
One respondent added: “But we had hoped the judges would be bold enough to rule otherwise, as Buhari lied on oath about his educational qualification.”
The PDP gave a similar liner when the PEPT dismissed the petitions filed by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, against the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
It’s clear that besides the petitioners’ claim that they won the election based on the results reportedly posted on a “Server” of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they had hoped to upturn the poll on alleged Buhari perjury in Form CF001.
Hence, the PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, in response to the judgement, made no bones about the issue in a statement he pushed out barely minutes of the verdict.
He said: “The PDP finds it as bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.
“Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification.”
Sadly, this distorts the aspect of the landmark judgement given by the lead judge, Justice Mohammed Garba, citing a Supreme Court judgement that “submission of educational certificate is not a requirement to contest election.”
According to Justice Garba, “It is established that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to Form CF001 before the candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election.”
Among issues the petitioners canvassed is whether Buhari was qualified to stand for the election having failed to attach a copy of his WASCE, as pleaded in the relevant INEC form.
The petitioners said by this anomaly, inconsistencies in his name and age, and denial by the Army that his certificates weren’t in their custody, Buhari had lied on oath, and ought to be disqualified from the election.
However, the tribunal held that Buhari wasn’t only qualified, but also “eminently qualified” to contest, as he had satisfied the requirements in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Specifically, the panel relied on sections 131(d) and 137(1)(j) of the Constitution, to determine the qualification of Buhari for the presidency.
Section 131 prescribes that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if “(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”
And subsection (1) of section 137 states that a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if “(j) he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
In resolving the issue of qualification, the PEPT judges also had recourse to Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution, as it relates to “Interpretation” – to determine if Buhari was suitable to contest, as per education up to “School Certificate level or its equivalent.”
The express and unambiguous provisions of Section 318 of the Constitution give no wiggle room for the PEPT judges to embark on a “voyage of discovery” that undermines the meaning of “School Certificate or its equivalent.”
In any case, the Constitution vests the INEC with the power to determine what’s “acceptable” to it as qualifying for the conditions precedent to contesting the presidency.
In the instant matter, the electoral body considered the “equivalent” to School Certificate, and found President Buhari suitable to stand for a second term in office.
Judgements are based on laws, concrete facts and evidence advanced “within the four walls” of the courts, and not rooted in emotions, sentiments, hearsay, and media commentaries.
To arrive at its decision, the tribunal members filtered thousands of documents; weighed all pieces of evidence adduced by the petitioners, respondents and their witnesses; compared and contrasted case laws; and made references to legal books, journals and dictionaries.
And it carefully, and painstakingly analysed and delivered its findings in a nine-hour judgement that unbiased minds should firstly praise, and if unsatisfied, proceed on appeal to the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter on legal matters in Nigeria.
Therefore, it amounts to calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it, for the PDP and allied critics to castigate the PEPT judges for perhaps declining to set aside the laws governing electoral processes, and give the petitioners judgement.
How did we get here?
I am writing this in a hotel room in St. Louis, Missouri at 3:00 am, deeply saddened by recent developments in South Africa, a country that still holds a very special place in my heart. There are South African friends and colleagues that I have known for years, decades in some cases, and they know that I have nothing in my heart but love and respect for them and their beautiful country.
That country has always been shrouded in an aura of mystery in my imagination dating back to my higher school days at one of Nigeria’s elite boarding schools. Nigerians of my generation will remember that our then military government brought hundreds, maybe thousands, of young South African boys and girls through the ANC to attend school in Nigeria.
I do not remember the names or even the faces of the ones that joined us at Federal Government College, Ilorin, where I did my A Levels, but I remember that our government supplied them everything they needed, including full-ride scholarships.
Those young boys and girls went on to pursue higher education opportunities within and outside Nigeria while in exile from their own country. Many of them will now be leaders in South Africa occupying positions of influence both within the ANC and in the wider society.
They cannot remain silent in the face of the atrocities and xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African immigrants that we continue to witness on the streets of South Africa. Let’s remember Edmund Burke’s admonition: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Fast forward three decades, that shroud of mystery about South Africa that I referred to above was lifted when I had the opportunity to live and work in that country. By this time and through God’s providence, I already had a very solid reputation as one of the continent’s foremost climate scientists and serving as Department Chair at the University of Missouri Kansas City, U.S.A. When South Africa came calling, I did not hesitate. I took a leave of absence from the University of Missouri to lead the environment and natural resources division of what was, and still is, Africa’s foremost contract research and development organisation in Pretoria. It was, as I saw it then, my opportunity to make a personal contribution to the growth of the New South Africa, Mandela’s homeland – our homeland; Africa’s homeland.
I lived in Pretoria and as the division’s Executive Director, I had offices in Stellenbosch and Durban, overseeing and providing leadership to over 200 scientists, engineers and researchers. I travelled across the country often and engaged intensely with a broad spectrum of folks during those two years from the State House in Pretoria to the slums of Flamingo Crescent and Santini in Cape Town.
I touched the land, felt the people, took in the sights and sounds of that wonderful country. It did not take long to see why descendants of the Dutch settlers and colonialists held so tightly to that precious land for so long, shed as much blood as they did, and only gave up political power after ensuring that they will continue to control the levers of South Africa’s economy in perpetuity.
I made lifelong friends, both white and black, and continue to cherish the memories we made together. These friends of mine cannot afford to be silent today. I need to hear your voices loud and clear. Africa needs to hear your voices condemning these senseless acts of violence and reassuring every African that calls South Africa home that they are, in fact, part of the Rainbow Nation envisioned by Desmond Tutu and Mandela. Again, let’s remember Edmund Burke’s admonition: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Let me end this heart wrenching piece by addressing the Global African Diaspora. We cannot remain silent. A blot on South Africa is a blot on us all. This is not the South Africa that we collectively fought for and sacrificed to make happen. We need to make sure that President Cyril Ramaphosa hears us loud and clear. The buck stops at his desk. Period! If we have to take to the streets of Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Norway, Moscow, Beijing or Tokyo in peaceful protest to make make our voices heard, let’s do so!
This cancer called xenophobia must be excised. Immigrant Africans seeking opportunities to make a living in South Africa are not the enemy. They are not responsible for the pervasive poverty and suffering that continues to be the every day experience of millions of South Africans – 25 years after Apartheid was brought to its knees. The absence of bold, selfless and transformational leadership is the culprit. Corruption at the highest levels of government is the culprit.
We, the Global African Diaspora, need to link our voices to those of our brothers and sisters in South Africa and amplify the urgent call to bring these xenophobic attacks to an immediate and permanent end. We need to call for reason and calm where we are seeing reprisal attacks against South African citizens and interests across Africa. Two wrongs, we’ve been told, don’t make a right.
Prof Jimi Adegoke writes from Kansas City, USA
Xenophobia: Why Nigeria cannot afford a stand-off with S’Africa
Since the images and videos of the maiming and killing of black foreigners in South Africa began to emerge on various social media platforms last week, Nigeria has been an emotionally frayed place. Tens of thousands of Nigerians live in South African cities and in recent years, they have become frequent targets of xenophobic attacks.
This time, anger in Nigeria boiled over and young Nigerians took to the streets protesting South African aggression and unleashing some of their own on South African-owned businesses.
The Nigerian government felt pressured to act and subsequently recalled its ambassador from Pretoria and announced it was pulling out of the World Economic Forum meeting on Africa which was held in Cape Town. While some Nigerians welcomed the move, others thought it was not enough and called on their government to intervene and rescue its citizens.
Examples abound of powerful countries going to great lengths to protect and repatriate their citizens who have faced danger abroad.
But Nigeria is not one of them. Indeed, in the past, the country has stood its ground on a number of occasions when defending its national interests. In the 1960s, for example, Nigeria had a face-off with France over the latter’s continuous tests of nuclear weapons in the Sahara desert. The government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa acted decisively, breaking diplomatic relations with Paris, expelling the French ambassador and imposing a full embargo on French goods.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria led the international effort to isolate and pressure the apartheid regime in South Africa. It threatened economic action against Western powers for refusing to sanction the regime and supported the national liberation movements in Southern Africa, including the African Nation Congress (ANC), with millions of dollars annually.
In the 1990s, the country, under the leadership of military ruler Sani Abacha, defied international sanctions and welcomed a visit by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It also directly intervened in the Liberian civil war, dispatching Nigerian troops to fight.
Most of the reactions to the violent attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa reflect a yearning for Abacha-style diplomacy. But as recent developments in its relations with the United States demonstrated, Nigeria can no longer wield such diplomatic power. Last month, the Nigerian government was spectacularly quick to react to the US’s reciprocal rise in visa fees by reducing the charge for Americans applying for a visa to enter the country. And last year President Muhammadu Buhari decided to “keep quiet” on President Donald Trump’s alleged “s***hole” remark about African nations.
At present, it is clear Nigeria does not have the military, the intelligence capability or the diplomatic clout to pursue a serious escalation against even a regional power, such as South Africa.
This diplomatic “standoff” with Pretoria has exposed the weakness Abuja has masked in parading itself as a self-styled “Giant of Africa”. South Africa used to be a bully that Nigeria could restrain through its support for proxies inside the country and its neighbourhood. But since the end apartheid, this relationship has evolved into a regional competition, which Pretoria is winning.
After the sanctions and international isolation were lifted, South Africa quickly became the continent’s more favoured ally of developed economies and foreign investors. Pretoria emerged as the recipient of the largest share of foreign direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa and in 2011 joined the BRIC countries in an economic pact formed to challenge the domination of Western economic policy.
It is also an important trading partner that Nigeria cannot afford to lose. South African businesses have major investments in the country, including the DSTV cable service, MTN telecom, the Shoprite supermarket chain and others. Nigeria exports $3.83bn worth of goods, mostly oil and oil products, to South Africa. By contrast, it imports just $514.3m of South African products, which accounts for less than one percent of total South African exports.
The more contrasting feature of the two economies, and which again highlights Nigeria’s weakness is that while Abuja levers around a commodity-dependent economy, Pretoria has built a highly-diversified economy with a superior industrial structure. In other words, Nigeria needs South Africa economically, much more than South Africa needs Nigeria.
Nigeria’s geopolitical power has also waned in recent years, while South Africa has remained a major regional power. Abuja has been battling with a rebellion in the north for years and has struggled to put a stop to flares of tribal violence regularly killing dozens of people. In its neighbourhood, Nigeria continues to feel largely insecure, surrounded by Francophone countries whose allegiances to France threaten the commitment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stability and non-aggression in the region.
The Nigerian government has also been unable to muster enough influence in the West to become a trusted partner. In 2014, the Obama administration, for example, blocked the sale of arms to the Nigerian military. The Trump administration decided to proceed with it but under heavy conditions which Nigerian officials have deemed “unacceptable”. Western reluctance to sell weapons to Abuja has pressed it to seek arms on the black market. South Africa has embarrassed it twice in recent years by intercepting large arms shipment bound for Nigeria.
In this sense, the Nigerian government cannot do anything about the violence against its citizens in South Africa beyond making a few symbolic diplomatic moves and bringing up once again the Nigerian role in liberating South Africans from its white oppressors. It is clear that in doing so it is addressing Pretoria from the position of weakness.
Indeed, using persistent references to sub-Saharan African commonality and solidarity as a result of shared history, race and geography is not an effective foreign policy tool.
The idea of One Africa is a farce taken too far, and successive Nigerian elites have pandered to this fantasy to the detriment of national interests. The legacy of this pan-African misadventure is a geopolitically weak Nigeria which cannot stand up to for itself and for its citizens
This very much has to do with mismanagement of the economy. The redemption Nigeria needs is one that moves the country away from dependence on oil exports, foreign imports and interventions and towards diversification and industrialisation. We cannot afford to glorify the idea of producing pencils in the age of artificial intelligence any more.
Only if the country becomes materially secure and industrially productive will it be able to regain its soft power and international clout and stand up to the old bullies in its neighbourhood.
Gimba Kakanda is a postgraduate student of International Relations at the London School of Economics.
P&ID’s $9.6bn judgement: ‘Who Done It?’
or those not only old enough to know, but also fans of television series; they will immediately (or not so immediately) recall that the above headline I am using for my piece this weekend strikes a chord – stirring up something that might had receded in their memories because it happened a fairly long time ago!
So let me end your struggle to recall where you had come across it – it is the headline of the one of the episodes of the television series, Dallas.
It was one of the 1980 episodes of the very popular series than ran on the American television network, on CBS from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991; and was syndicated all over the world including Nigeria.
In fact this particular episode still remains the second highest rated prime-time telecast ever and got viewers scratching their heads trying to find out who actually shot one of the main characters, J.R. Ewing before finally revealing the culprit.
But what is the title of one of the longest lasting full-hour prime time dramas in American TV history, which in 2007 was included in TIME magazine’s list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time”, doing in a very recent event which has captivated the headlines and been the main talk around town?
The answer is very simple: Because millions of Nigerians want to know how those in government and who are to protect the interests of the citizens have allowed the nation to get into this mess involving British engineering firm, Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) and its $9.6billion judgment against the country in the first instance!
While not in a position to apportion blame on anyone directly, from what has been gleamed about the case, it is clear once again how inept those saddled with the responsibility of looking after our collective commonwealth have been – either naively or deliberately.
It also raises the spectre of which other contracts are lurking out there that we do not know off until they come out of the shadow to haunt the nation or some other shoddy decisions have been taken without being properly thought through.
A classic example of the later is the decision of authorities to allow the siting of various tank farms around Apapa without proper environmental impact assessments being carried out.
And because of this failure on the part of our bureaucrats and politicians, the once tranquil Apapa, which used to be home to many upper middle and rich class, has been turned into a living hell for the residents.
Even businesses that were already in the vicinity before the arrival of the tank farms have been impacted negatively.
John Holt, Niger Biscuits, banks and many others have been forced to relocate or have been squeezed almost to death.
I remember many occasions, when I was still with This Day Newspapers, of not being able to take my car to the office because tankers waiting to load at the tank farm located on Creek Road would have taken over all the three lanes leading to both the farm and Apapa port proper.
There were times, on the occasions we were are able to take our vehicles to the office, that we were forced to sleep in the premises after finishing production because the truck drivers would have totally blocked the company’s entrance.
On a number of occasions a frustrated Publisher, Nduka Obaigbena in a classic case of the “baby wey say him mama no go sleep, himself no go sleep” would use his SUV to block the road leading to the tank farm.
Members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) would come to beg and appeal to him to allow their members get to the tank farm and in return he (Obaigbena) would squeeze concessions from the NUPENG officials that they would not use theirs to disturb his own business by taking over the road thereby preventing newsprint from getting to the press or even allowing the printed paper leave for distribution because of the antics of their lawless members.
Of course for the next couple of days after the “truce meeting” we will enjoy some semblance of normalcy with the trucks keeping to one side of the road allowing other road users ply the road before total confusion returns and we are back to the bad old ways.
A number of people living in Apapa that I know have finally thrown in the towel packed up and left fed up of government’s inability to safe guard their own rights to living in a decent environment.
What makes the Apapa situation even more poignant is the fact that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s order of more than two months ago to get the issue fixture it is still business as usual. So if a President’s directive cannot be enforced in this country, then what hope is there for the ordinary man?
But if one can genuinely argue that this Apapa problem affects just a “few” Nigerians and is limited to just a “small” section of the country; the same cannot be said of the mammoth $9.6billion judgement the nation is now facing and which is enforced will affect everyone living in the country called Nigeria!
Although moves are already on to find a way out of the logjam, it is also very imperative for government to get to the root cause of how the nation got into the mess in the first instance.
All the dramatis personnel and the roles that they played in the infamous contract scandal must not only be exposed but must be severely dealt with in order to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to put their selfish interests above those of the collective good of the nation.
The investigation should not end up like the Halliburton scandal in which the company paid Nigerian officials some $180 million in bribes between 1993 and 2004 in order to secure a construction contract for a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta.
After making headlines for a couple of weeks just like this P&ID scandal, ostensibly because of the “big names” involved, the case quietly blew over without any Nigerian being made to pay for their indiscretions even though a number of foreigners involved in the scandal were prosecuted.
This act of impunity by our so-called “big men” is one of the reasons for why we have found ourselves in another messy situation 15 years after that one.
Thus unless a number of these “big men” are made scape goats; it is clear that such scandals will continue to be a reoccurring decibel in the nation’s history.
Speaking to the media in Abuja on the issue, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We will find those involved in this scam, either inside or outside government.”
Well, Nigerians and indeed the world is waiting to see if for once this will actually be the case and we will not end up being treated to another episode of the now rested “Dallas”!
Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 2)
lease, understand that the devil is not winning this GAME OF THRONES as is being perceived. Making many believe that he is winning, is part of his strategies being employed in the game. If you are among those who believe or have been deceived to believe that the devil is winning this GAME OF THRONES, “you are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
One of Satan’s lies is that no one is reliable for marriage anymore. My dear! Don’t fall for this lie. There are dozens and dozens of faithful and reliable young men and ladies out there.
Because of media reports about church leaders whose marriages are in crisis, many are being deceived by the same attacker to believe that successful marriages hardly exist. He is even painting a picture of “all men of God have become suspects. After all, we hear reports of those indulging in adultery, fornication, rape, sodomy, etc.”
Satan’s projected VERY BIG LIES are attempts to win THE GAME OF THRONES. The big question (the truth) is “what percentage of men of God ever have their activities reported on the pages of the newspapers? Secondly, what percentage of priests, pastors and other church leaders are actually interested in having their private activities in public domain? Thirdly, who conducted a census of Christians and achieved a scientifically researched evidence that a significant percentage of church leaders have fallen into such sins?
Please, don’t fall for cheap lies and error of generalization. There are millions of clergy out there with exemplary successful marriages.
The media reports that husbands and wives, including church goer couples now all kill each other, is part of Satan’s exaggeration and engineering strategies to expand fears for the marital institution, while promoting sexual intercourse outside marriage, so that more people will join him to suffer in hell fire after rapture and white throne judgement.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Dear reader! Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see that there is a GAME OF THRONES going on. Satan wants to secure by all means, your loyalty to his throne. So, he makes you believe that money alone is requirement for marital success. May I deflate this lie by informing you that many millionaire couples file for divorce every day? Divorce is not usually an overnight decision. It is the absence of Christ at the centre of a relationship that pilots the relationship towards divorce. Satan knows that your marriage wields a great influence over your personal relationship with God. So, there is currently, a massive satanic attack against Christian marriages, including those involving public figures. This also, is a gimmick being applied to contend for victory in the GAME OF THRONES.
It is the devil that tells you as a wife never to submit to your husband as scripture commands. Society applauds your errors as of course, sin is sweet and the road to hell fire looks easier to glide through.
It is Satan that tells you to forget about the Bible when it comes to marital issues. Your true enemy is not your spouse. Your true enemy is Satan who is doing everything to win more loyalists to his throne in this game. Jesus Christ warns you again not to switch camp in John 8:34-35.
Loyalty and faithfulness to your spouse is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to leave the winning team that the world thinks is losing (God’s team).
Avoiding premarital sex is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to denounce the winning team of godly people, loyalty to the heavenly throne.
There are millions of faithful, loyal and happy marriage partners in your society. Don’t fall for the devil’s gimmicks to get you, by forming analysis based on frequency of negative media reports. Publishing a church leader’s sin of adultery is fun and helps media houses to sell their products, especially when that church person is popular. That cannot become a representation of a larger silent population of loyalists to God’s heavenly throne.
Right from the day of your wedding where you were taking your marital vow, Satan was busy swearing to ensure that your marital vow never comes to fulfillment. His permanent focus is to ensure that your loyalty to the heavenly throne is broken (John 10:10).
What you are reading now is intended to help you ensure that you do not conform to this world’s standards but be transformed by the renewing of your mind to know the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
So, if you are a born again Christian, when next you go to the social media or any medium and receive an intimidating or tempting message from Satan’s throne, remember there is an ongoing GAME OF THRONES, and that you belong to, and must retain your position in the wining team. It can take just one second to give up your loyalty to the heavenly throne. Be careful that you do not sell your divine entitlement for the sweet pot of portage that is being shared by the father of all liars.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
God’s heavenly throne is, and will forever remain the winning throne in the GAME OF THRONES. Don’t be deceived or lured out of the winning team.
The yellowness of a fever
he colour yellow relates to acquired knowledge. It is the colour which resonates with the left or logic side of the brain stimulating our mental faculties and creating mental agility and perception. Being the lightest hue of the spectrum, the color psychology of yellow is uplifting and illuminating, offering hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. In the meaning of colors, yellow inspires original thought and inquisitiveness. But it can be critical and judgmental, being overly analytical, being impatient and impulsive, being egotistical, pessimistic, an inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful and non-emotional.
When a fever is labeled yellow, it’s devoid of all the bright sides but entirely the negatives. This recent outbreak is linked to the death of four students of the College of Education, Waka-Biu, Borno. They had gone on a field trip to Yankari Game Reserve, in Bauchi State as part of their course work.
What it is
Yellow fever (also called Yellow jack, Yellow plague or Bronze john) is a serious, potentially deadly flu-like disease, it is an acute viral haemorrhagic (bleeding) disease (like Ebola and Lassa fever) transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they bite an infected human or monkey. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. It’s characterized by a high fever and jaundice. Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and eyes, which is why this disease is called yellow fever. This disease is most prevalent in parts of Africa and South America. It is not curable.
How is it transmitted?
Yellow fever virus (an RNA virus) is mainly transmitted through the bite of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, but other mostly Aedes mosquitoes such as the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) can also serve as a vector for this virus. Like other arboviruses which are transmitted by mosquitoes, the yellow fever virus is taken up by a female mosquito when it ingests the blood of an infected human or other primate. Viruses reach the stomach of the mosquito, and if the virus concentration is high enough, the virions (the infective form of a virus) can infect epithelial cells and replicate there. From there, they reach the haemocoel (the blood system of mosquitoes) and from there the salivary glands. When the mosquito next sucks blood, it injects its saliva into the wound, and the virus reaches the bloodstream of the bitten person. The transmission of the yellow fever virus from a female mosquito to her eggs and then larvae, are indicated within A. aegypti. This infection of vectors without a previous blood meal seems to play a role in single, sudden breakouts of the disease. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. However, large numbers of cases (epidemics) can also occur in urban areas when a human with yellow fever infects the local Aedes mosquitoes (mainly Aedes aegypti) resulting in transmission from human to human via infected mosquitoes.
What may give it away
Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. In these cases, the infection lasts only three to four days.
In 15% of cases, however, people enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vómito negro (“black vomit”). There may also be kidney failure, hiccups, and delirium.The toxic phase is fatal in about 20 to 50% of cases, making the overall fatality rate for the disease about 3.0 to 7.5%. However, the fatality rate of those with the toxic phase of the disease may exceed 50%.
Surviving the infection provides lifelong immunity, and normally no permanent organ damage results.
Yellow fever is most frequently a clinical diagnosis, made on the basis of symptoms and the diseased person’s whereabouts prior to becoming ill. Mild courses of the disease can only be confirmed virologically. Since mild courses of yellow fever can also contribute significantly to regional outbreaks, every suspected case of yellow fever (involving symptoms of fever, pain, nausea and vomiting six to 10 days after leaving the affected area) is treated seriously.
If yellow fever is suspected, the virus cannot be confirmed until six to 10 days after the illness. A direct confirmation can be obtained by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction where the genome of the virus is amplified. Another direct approach is the isolation of the virus and its growth in cell culture using blood plasma; this can take one to four weeks.
Serologically, an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) during the acute phase of the disease can confirm yellow fever.
There’s no cure for yellow fever. Treatment involves managing symptoms (in a hospital setting) and assisting the body (immune system) in fighting off the infection by:
maintaining a healthy blood pressure
getting blood transfusions if necessary
getting treatment for other infections that may develop
Yellow fever is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. The vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of persons vaccinated. Vector control taking measures to avoid mosquito bites (active in the day) are equally important.
Judiciary was good in Zamfara but bad in Abuja?
The outcome of judicial pronouncements are usually two sides of the same coin. This, perhaps, explains the praises and criticisms that have trailed the outcome of the tribunal’s judgement that affirmed the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and threw away the petitions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for their inability to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. The onus of proof lies with whoever alleges to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt if the pendulum of justice must swing in his favour, especially in matters that are criminal in nature. Law is what it is and not what it ought to be.
As a result, judges are not expected to act like Father Christmas and can only adjudicate based on evidence before them. However, we have seen situations where judges brought opprobrium to themselves by soiling their hands in iniquities. Year 2016 was a very bad year for our judiciary.
The judiciary was thoroughly bruised and broken. That arm of government was like a hen with broken beak. In October of that year, the Department of State Security (DSS) in “sting operations” raided the homes of some judges and arrested seven of them including two from the highest court in the country- the Supreme Court. It was unprecedented. During the operations, the DSS claimed it recovered N363 million from houses of three of the judges, a sad reminder of the alarm raised by a former Supreme Court Justice, late Kayode Esho, that there were dirty men and women in the temple of justice. The late justice described them as “millionaire judges.” The raid and its attendant consequences confirmed the suspicion that not all our judges come to equity with clean hands and confirmed the level of rot in the system.
While there was argument on the rightness or wrongness of the action of the DSS, there was a consensus that a corruptfree judiciary is a necessary ingredient if our democracy and the rule of law must thrive. There was also a general agreement that judicial rascality and recklessness must be tamed if found as a guarantee that the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. For those who felt the judiciary should be left alone even if corrupt so as to maintain its independence.
Then, I reminded them of the evocative words of late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa that: “If you are a judge and you are corrupt, where do we go from here? Then everything has come to a halt. If the legislature is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for redress.
If the executive is corrupt, you go to judiciary for remedy. If the judiciary itself is corrupt, where do we go from here?” Themis, the statue of woman of justice, found in courthouses and some law books, represents the Greek goddess of divine justice. Even those of us who are not “learned” as the lawyers call us, know that the statue has a very deep meaning beyond a mere symbol. The scale on Themis’ left hand symbolises fairness and balance. The black ribbon she is blindfolded with is a constant reminder to judges that judicial pronouncements should be guided by evidence and law. In other words, judgements and rulings of court should not be determined by mere sentiments. Any court’s pronouncement that is not based on evidence and law is a travesty of justice.
However, some of our judges have shamelessly removed Themis’ blindfold so that they can see the faces of litigants and give judgements and rulings based on social and economic status of the parties before them. As a result of which, parties with higher monetary offers sure carry the day in courts. When people lose hope in the judiciary, they will resort to self-help, which can come in the form of people taking laws into their hands.
This is not good for the polity. It is an invitation to anarchy when people lose hope in the judiciary to find solace in self-help. Just as there are bad people in the temple of justice, there are also good people in the system.For this reason, it is extremely wrong to make sweeping statements that the entire judiciary is corrupt just because of a few bad eggs.
It’s a cause for concern when we bad mouth our judges each time the pendulum of justice does not swing in our favour or the way we expected it to be. While those of us who are not learned could be pardoned when we are aggrieved over courts’ judgements and rulings, how do we explain situations where lawyers who are learned lampoon judges on national television and on the pages of newspapers just because they disagreed with courts’ positions on some matters? This has been the case since the tribunal gave its judgement on Atiku/PDP’s petition. Some of us have gone back to the narrative of how the Buhari administration has ‘caged’ the judiciary.
‘The judiciary is now on trial.’ But when the same judiciary made pronouncements that put all elective political offices firmly in the hands of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just because the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not conduct its primaries according to its own rules in Zamfara, the judiciary was okay and not caged then. Perhaps, the judiciary forgot then that the president belongs to the APC when it gave final verdict on Zamfara that in the eyes of the law, APC had no candidate in the election and could not have won any election as such would amount to building something on nothing. I am a firm and unrepentant believer in the rule of law.
This is what informed my position that Atiku should seek redress in court if he feels strongly that he won the February presidential election. I maintained that asking him not to seek redress so as not to heat up the polity is a bunkum talk that won’t fly. My insistence on Atiku to go to court was based on the fact that the outcome, irrespective of whatever it is would strengthen our jurisprudence and in turn help our democracy.
On Wednesday, the tribunal did affirm that Atiku has the right to petition against Buhari’s victory. The court said it was not a pre-election matter as claimed by the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The court hinged its position on the provisions of the Electoral Act, specifically Section 138 (1) (a), which allows for filing of petition relating to allegation of false information. We may never have known this if Atiku had not gone to court.
The same court said the former vicepresident is not a Cameroonian as claimed by the APC and that tradermoni is not for vote-buying. Imagine if the court had said tradermoni is being used to induce voters, of course that would have been the end of the programme until a more superior court pronounced otherwise. More importantly is the aspect of the judgement, which laid to rest the qualification of the president as the court insisted that “there’s no doubt that he (President Buhari) is not only qualified BUT EMINENTLY QUALIFIED (emphasis mine) to contest the election as shown by the EVIDENCE (emphasis mine) presented by the petitioners.
“No evidence that Buhari submitted false documents to the INEC,” the tribunal declared. We have also known that when criminal allegation is raised against someone or agency, the person or agency must be joined in the suit as failure to do so will negate the principle of fair hearing or akin to shaving someone’s head behind him. The tribunal said the PDP/Atiku should have joined security agents accused of rigging for Buhari if they feel strongly about such weighty allegation. Also of importance is the aspect which says the use of card readers and other electronic devices are valid component of the electoral process but there was ” no provision for electronic transmission of results.” All we need to do is to strengthen the process as such is capable of giving us credible polls in the future.
Just like I was happy when Atiku approached the court to register his disatisfaction with the outcome of the presidential election, my mood has not changed when I learnt that he is going to the Supreme Court to upturn Wednesday’s outcome. It is his right to do so. He should not be put under pressure or blackmail to rescind his decision. Whoever asks Atiku not to go to Supreme Court is definitely not a lover of democracy. The fact that that Nigerian court has not upturned presidential election victory does not mean it is impossible to do it. If there is need to do so. But the court won’t do it if it’s not approached by aggrieved party or parties. In everything, there is always the first time. Whatever the outcome is, at the Supreme Court, our jurisprudence and democracy stand to benefit immensely.
Xenophobia: Time for cool heads to prevail in Nigeria, S’Africa
The latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa have ignited the long-standing tensions between the country and Nigeria. These are captured in the retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria and the diplomatic outrage by Nigerian authorities.
Nigeria also boycotted the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. More critical was the temporary closure of South African missions in Abuja and Lagos and Nigeria’s decision to recall its ambassador.
But in the larger scheme of things, xenophobia is a distraction from the leadership role that Nigeria and South Africa should play on the continent on fundamental issues of immigration and economic integration.
Accurate figures are hard to get. But Statistics South Africa put the number of Nigerian migrants at about 30,000 in 2016, far below Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.
Xenophobia has remained a constant irritant in Nigeria-South Africa relations since the major attacks on African migrants in poor neighbourhoods in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in 2008 and 2015. But, contrary to popular perception, xenophobic attacks do not disproportionately target Nigerians. Nigerians often exaggerate the effect of violence on their citizens. That is probably because Nigeria has a better organised, savvy, and loud diaspora constituency in South Africa.
Unfortunately, the loudness of the Nigerian diaspora transforms victimhood into foreign policy, generating the reactions that have been witnessed recently. It also plays into the naïve narrative of the “liberation dividend”. This entails Nigerians seeking to be treated uniquely because of their contribution to the struggle for majority rule in South Africa. There were no such expectations from the other countries that supported South Africa’s liberation struggle.
This narrative has taken on an equally economic tinge. South African companies are heavily invested in Nigeria. So, they often become targets of Nigerian ire in times of xenophobia.
The accurate picture is that xenophobia affects all African migrants. These are mostly migrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, increasingly Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis. Nigerians are affected. But they’re not on top of the list.
The Nigerian responses are understandable in light of the frequency of these attacks. But, it is important to probe the drivers of xenophobia to understand it more deeply.
What drives xenophobia? First, some studies reveal that the intrusion of foreign migrants into vulnerable communities beset by joblessness and despair inevitability produces a tinderbox that sparks violence.
Migrants are easy targets. That’s because they are seen as being better off by the locals. They therefore become targets of people who feel their circumstances have not been addressed by government. It is no surprise that xenophobic attacks have typically occurred in poor neighbourhoods that have been affected by service delivery protests since the mid-2000s.
Second, xenophobia thrives on ineffective policing in South Africa. Barely two days after the Johannesburg attacks started, the national police spokesman admitted that the police were running out of resources to manage the violence. This prompted the Premier of Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, to threaten to also deploy the army if the violence continued.
Examples of the police’s inability to maintain order and respond to threats to property and livelihoods are legion. This, in part, forces people to take the law into their own hands.
But the police are sometimes complicit in stoking anti-foreign sentiments. The July 2019 raids on foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg in apparent efforts to stamp out illicit goods added to the current climate of xenophobia. When some business owners retaliated against the police, some local leaders appropriated the language of “threats on South Africa’s sovereignty” to justify the police response.
Reforms are urgently needed to create a competent, less corrupt, better-resourced, and civic-minded police service.
Xenophobia is also an outcome of a rickety migration and border control regime. Efficient border controls are one of the hallmarks of sovereignty and the first line of defence against xenophobia. Broken borders breed criminality. These include human and drug trafficking. Human and drug trafficking feature prominently in the discourse on xenophobia in South Africa.
How, then, does xenophobia distract South Africa and Nigeria from what should be their leadership on core African issues?
Overreaction. The weighty issues of creating a humane and just society for South Africans and migrants alike will ultimately be led by the South African government. Outsiders can make some diplomatic noises and occasionally boycott South Africa. But these actions are unlikely to drive vital change.
In fact, the overreactions by Nigeria and other African countries simply undercut the South African constituencies that have a crucial stake in wide-ranging reforms that address the multiplicity of problems around xenophobia.
In the previous instances of xenophobic violence, Nigeria urged the African Union (AU) to force South Africa to take action. But such unhelpful statements only inflame passions and prevent civil diplomatic discourse.
Instead, the best policy would be for Nigeria to engage South Africa through their existing binational commission. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month.
Rather than the perennial relapse into shouting matches and hardening of rhetoric, it is essential for Pretoria and Abuja to take decisive leadership at the continental level. The two nations must articulate immigration policies.
The newly-inaugurated AU Free Movement of Persons Protocol will not be implemented if South Africa and Nigeria do not join hands to make it a reality. More ominously, migration to South Africa as the premier African economy will only get worse in the coming years. This, as Europe and the United States tighten their borders against African migrants.
Also, without the leadership of its two major economies, Africa is not going to make any traction on the new treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Ironically, the WEF meeting in Cape Town addressed ways to boost intra-African trade. Nigeria should not have boycotted it because of xenophobia.
- Khadiagala is a Professor of International Relations and Director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), University of the Witwatersrand. The article was first published by The Conversation.
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