Friday, July 30, 2010

Just weeks after announcing that the US plans to ban certain Nigerian officials from receiving travel visas, the country declared that it will seize the ill gotten wealth of Africa's 'leaders'. This warning was made by the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, at the African Union summit in Munyonyo, Uganga. According to Holder, the U.S. government will not allow its banks, or banks in the West to be safe havens for monies stolen from Africa's coffers. For a country like Nigeria that has lost billions to 'leaders' like the late Sani Abacha, and their family members who treat(ed) the national treasury as their own personal account, such information is good news. The less places there are that welcome such ill-gotten funds, the harder it will be for Africa's politicians to reap the rewards of their theft and effrontery. 

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Once a peaceful region where people of different tribe and religion could live in relative harmony, Nigeria's middle belt region has become a constant in local and international news. This is particularly the case in Jos where constant and repetitive fighting between residents have resulted in thousands of deaths over the last few years with fighting as recently as January 2010. And unfortunately, more fighting erupted in Jos. But that fighting, which took place in Tagir village, was preceded by fighting in Mazzah village only a week before. And, on July 23rd, Nigerian forces diffused a bomb that had been planted in a home abandoned during the January fighting. These most recent incidents have occurred weeks before the 1 year anniversary of the Boko Haram attacks of July 26th 2009. They raise the question of what, if anything, Nigerian authorities have done to address the factors that lead to the violence and insecurity in the nation's middle belt.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There is nothing more dangerous for a developing democracy than for it's citizens to have no idea of when the next elections will be. For some reason, in this, the 21st century, that is indeed the case for Nigeria. After decades under military rule, protests, strikes and even deaths, a people that fought hard for democracy are now dazedly watching the little democracy they have disappear. This is because, although elections are to be concluded by the end of May 2011, there remains no clear idea as to when upcoming elections will take place. The consequences of this reality are dire and especially suggest that Nigerians will be ill-prepared to make an educated decision on who their future representative should be. Even more worrisome is the fact that the lack of adequate preparations for national elections increases the likelihood of fraudulent results. In a country where basic human and civil rights are not guaranteed to the majority of the people, the lead up to Nigeria's next elections are disappointing and spell catastrophe for the nation's political, economic and social future.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Nigeria has lost trillions to graft over the years. As such, it is no surprise that on most key indicators the country ranks low. From child mortality rates to life expectancy, the country has much ground to cover. Despite this reality, many argue that those who have stolen public funds should receive a pardon. Others have advocated that it may be better to forgive these thieves and move on. Keeping with that line of thinking, the head of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Muhammad Nadada Umar, proposed amnesty for Nigeria's corrupt. Specifically, Umar wants to give these individuals a six month period during which they can return stolen funds. He then went on to state that the returned money could be invested in his agency where it could earn about 3%.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Corruption is an issue many African countries are faced with. In an effort to counter the problem, some African governments reach out to their non-African counterparts for help. Specifically, they seek agreements that will prevent some of their citizens from traveling and enjoying the benefits of being abroad. Nigeria's President Jonathan made such a request during an April visit to the United States and now, the US government is creating a lost of Nigerians banned from entry into that country. This act of having foreign governments ban Nigerians is complicated and raises concerns over what seems to be a need to have someone else save Nigeria and solve Nigeria's issues.

Make Nigeria a corruption-free zone

Photo by John Bracken

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Friday, July 9, 2010

If the FIFA World Cup was to be won based on bad reputations, Nigeria would have won the cup without any need to even play. That is just how bad the reputation of Nigerians are, unfortunately. So much so, that no matter were one goes in the world, people have taken to blaming Nigerians for everything bad that happens there. This, despite the reality that the majority of Nigerians should not be represented by a minority that clearly behave badly. For instance, someone I know once blamed Nigerians for all crime in the entire country of Ghana, forgetting that, at the time, the country sat between two insecure nations - Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Take South Africa, for instance, where xenophobic riots in 2008 resulted in the deaths of many foreigners including Nigerians. There, a popular film producer asserted that his abysmal portrayal of Nigerians in his film was because, in his biased opinion, "the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians". The producer, Blomkamp, ignored the fact that South Africa is one of the most dangerous places in the world and chose to blame that failing on Nigerians.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Less than a week after announcing a suspension of Nigeria’s football team, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, reversed the decision. Unfortunately, Jonathan’s reversal was announced on the very date FIFA had declared as the deadline for reversal. This now gives the impression that Jonathan bowed under pressure to an international sporting organization. That perception can be harmful for Jonathan who only has a few months in office before presidential elections. Additionally, the perception will weaken the office of the presidency and place pressure on whoever becomes president to restore the credibility and respect of the office. Furthermore, the snafu between Jonathan and FIFA raises questions about the behavior of the football agency, which challenged the decision of a sovereign leader in an avoidable way. 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, is rumored to be the most fortunate man in the country. A series of events saw him go from Vice President to President when late President Yar'adua died from health complications. However, in what must be an attempt to prove that he is just as intelligent as he is lucky, Jonathan decided to suspend the Nigerian football team from international play for two years. According to a spokesperson, the suspension is a direct result of the team's disappointing performance during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where it ended up at the bottom of it's group. Unfortunately, this suspension does little for Nigerian football, now and in the future. Additionally, it will do far less for Jonathan, because the move highlights a common and distressing quality about Nigerian leadership - a lack of vision and an inability or unwillingness to address the real challenges of the Nigerian condition.

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