TranscriptCNN International interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues

COUNTDOWN TO NIGERIA'S 2007ELECTIONS: "Obasanjodoes not interfere in my job as INEC chair; ..April elections willhold...."Only in andCLASSmagazine: USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu's EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWwith INEC CHAIRMAN Prof. Maurice Iwu in Abuja,Nigeria.

Nigeria's 2007 Elections: A pre-votingreport from The Institute for Advancement of Democracy(TIAD)

Special to,CLASSmagazine, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
TheBlack Business Journal  and the globale-list/blog IgboEvents

Abuja, Nigeria , March 12, 2007: The Institute for Advancement ofDemocracy (TIAD) early in 2007, sent a high level delegation of itsteam to Nigeria to assess the level of the preparedness of the 2007general elections in the country. TIADhas also announced that its team is alreadyinNigeria as part of the international observers for the April 2007elections.  

The Institute for Advancement of Democracy, Inc (TIAD) is anot-for-profit organization whose primary objective is to promote theadvancement of democracy around the world with particular referenceto the developing countries of Africa. The Institute seeks toencourage leaders of these developing democracies to develop andinstitute democratic ideals that would help their countries advanceto a full participatory democracy. 

The high level delegation was part of the Institute's continuedcommitment towards playing a vital role in the upcoming elections.The Institute has maintained strong presence in the country in themonths leading up to the general elections. 

The purpose of the pre-election assessment was to determine thecountry's preparation for the elections, the electoral environment,and the level of support enjoyed by relevant agencies leading up tothe April polls, as well as, a report on the status of the electoralprocess so far, following the Principles for International ElectionObservation standards adopted by the United Nations in 2005. 

The delegation team met with those in government, the IndependentNational Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, civilsociety organizations (CSO), and the representatives of someinternational organizations.  

TIAD understands that no election could be viewed in isolation,but rather should take into consideration all aspects of theelectoral process: the constitution, the electoral act, variousrelated court decisions, the ability of the citizens and politicalparties to freely engage in the political process, the voterregistration process, and other reforms being initiated by INEC. Withthe above at core, the Institute made the following observationsand/or recommendations and conclusions. 

Nigeria is a Federal Republic with 36 states and a capitol territoryof Abuja. In May 1999 a new constitution went into effect. Section153 established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).In 2002 and 2006, the National Assembly gave the INEC specific powersto conduct, national elections, voter and civic education, promoteknowledge of sound democratic election processes, and maintain aNational Register of Voters.  

Part III of the 2006 Electoral Act Section 17 states: "The Commission(INEC) shall design, print, and control the issuance of voter's cardsto voters where names appear on the Register."  

Our observations on the ground and in meetings with electionofficials at various locations revealed a vigorous and innovativevoter registration effort. The INEC voter registration effort wasinitially hindered by Direct Data Capture machines from foreignvendors, which failed to perform in the field as expected. Theresilient INEC used laptops with web cameras and fingerprintingcapacity to continue the voter registration. This exercise ascompleted, should improve the credibility of the election results.(INEC chairman is Prof. Maurice Iwu, right in picture)

Voter registration venues will serve as polling places for theelection. INEC has established 120,000 polling places throughoutNigeria. The INEC estimates each polling place will handle onaverage, about 500 voters in the April, 2007 general elections. Thesmaller number will help avoid long lines and facilitate thetabulation of election results at each polling place.  

The new voter registration methodology is remarkable because itlends itself to a continuous voter registration exercise at anytimeduring the year; meaning that registration does not only have to bedone once every four years. 

Radio, television, newspaper articles about the election and thecandidates are planned to continue through the final weeks leading upto the election. Civil society organizations are encouraged topartner with INEC in ensuring a credible 2007 elections.  

It is our belief that INEC is operating in an open and transparentmanner, communicating with the government, political parties,candidates and the public in matters of high importance to asuccessful election process. Clear rules were established forcandidates eligibility, challenge to candidacy qualifications, andreplacement of candidates through an open process. Election timetable and schedule of activities were established for the 2007general elections.  

The various National and Stakeholders Forums organized by INEC forthe purpose of empowering Nigerians through civic education on theelectoral process is a step in the right direction, and shouldcontinue beyond the elections. 

The Nigerian public by all accounts is more optimistic about theexpected outcome of 2007 elections over the 2003 elections. There isoverwhelming belief that each vote will be counted this time becauseof various innovative steps initiated and implemented by theElectoral Commission.  Some of the critical initiatives includethe Electoral Institute for educating more election officers; instantelectronic transmission of results versus carrying ballot boxes tocounting stations as in the past; candidate's pictures on electionmaterials to help the uneducated voters identify their choices;strong emphasis on violent free elections to encourage participation,use of International Technical Advisory Committee team to incorporatebest election practices around the world,  

TIAD delegation noted from its investigations and observations thatINEC is significantly more prepared for the elections than thecountry is aware of, and the initiatives implemented by theCommission are beyond any comparative standard in any country'shistory at this stage. This suggests that INEC needs to do moreeffective job in communicating with the general public on thesematters of great importance and interest. A strong presence in themedia highlighting important initiatives and vital information forpublic education and consumption is highly encouraged. 


It is our opinion that INEC has established a foundation for thefirst fully democratic election since gaining independence. Thegovernment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is prepared throughINEC to conduct a credible, free and fair election that would beobserved by duly accredited members of the internationalcommunity. 

INEC's decision to capture election results both electronicallyand through manual tabulation on hard copy with representatives ofvarious parties, monitors and observers present in each pollingcenter will clearly enhance the credibility and accuracy of theelection results. 

In light of some intentional negative publicity and by the virtueof independence of INEC where it is accused of being in the pocket ofthe government in power, and the government in power may beuncomfortable with some of its reforms, it becomes critical that theCommission step up its media and public relations activities for thebenefit of the general public, considering the country's history inpast elections. The general public need to know the reforms theCommission has done to ensure a credible 2007 elections. 

INEC must continue to collaborate with credible civil societyorganizations, religious leaders, political parties, and the policeto ensure the success of the election process.

Prof. Iwu's refereeing of Nigeria's 2007elections, Obasanjo's party and internationalcommunity

BY CHIDO NWANGWU in Abuja (Nigeria) and Houston,Texas

April 2, 2006, USAfrica, Houston, Texas:
Prof. Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu, born on April 21, 1950 in Umuezeala,Umukabia, Ehime Mbano in the eastern Imo State of Nigeria, has theextraordinary, historical coincidence of refereeing the presidentialelections in Nigeria on the day of his 57th birthday. Evidently, hehas the most challenging"government work" in Nigeria, today, except being the president ofNigeria. He undertsands his job is not an easy one; not by the factsof the controversial history of elections, his predecessors' ratingsand the compelling realities and interests competing in today'sNigeria. Iwu, Chairman of the Independent National ElectoralCommission (INEC) is, yet another, scholar in government -- with highexpectations to perform.

To have a first-hand look and feel for the preparations for theall-important 2007 elections in Nigeria, I flew from Houston toNigeria; spending some time in Abuja, Owerri, Port Harcourt andLagos. Listening to him in his office at the headquarters ofNigeria's elections body, INEC in Abuja, you can tell thebio-resources and pharmacognosy specialist is determined to makehistory on the side of progress despite the odds. But his focus onthe logistics of the elections and litigations of aspirants in thelaw courts have kept him in the eye of the storm.

Some key members of the opposition parties insist he's doingPresident Obasanjo's bidding, and in part Anambra's Andy Uba's (whothey allege had a hand in Iwu's appointment). He scoffs at bothallegations and dismisses them as reflecting empty speculation--citing a previously unreported story (he told USAfrica and CLASS thestory) about the late application entry of one of the Obasanjo familyfriends. The fellow's inability to make the qualification deadlineset by INEC was not overlooked by a friendlydiscussion involving Obasanjo, Iwu and the president's daughter, theruling PDP senate candidate Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello (see exclusivereport below).

This former professor at the Univeristy ofNigeria Nsukka (where he still fondly recalls we first met in theearly 1980s --with me as a student of political science/publicadministration) has to contend with the pre-election assessments andexpectations of Nigerians and the international community.While he sees himself as a visionary and strategically-mindedpublic servant, his critics argue that the INEC which he leads hasbeen unrealistic in planning and not fully prepared for the mamothchallenges ahead of the 2007 elections. Also, the Alliance forDemocracy whose presidential candidate died in March 2007 hasdemanded same "based on the laws of Nigeria...." INEC says no, theelections will go on. The same position is held by Obasanjo'sgovernment. The opposition spearheaded by the Action Congress (led byObasanjo's VP Atiku Abubakar) has charged INEC of flagrant disregardof the law courts and the law.

Amidst some of the court challenges and logistical issues, thereare some traditional rulers, political activists and partisans andcivil rights protagonists who are calling for the April 2007elections to be postponed. The new Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji MuhammadSa'ad Abubakar III is the most visible and powerful Nigerian whospoke while I was in Nigeria in March 2007 that "We cannot sit down,fold our arms and say everything is OK." Obasanjo dismissed thosesaying the elections will not hold as "speaking from theirnose"!!

But the American and international communities (the dominantdemographics of USAfrica,, The Black BusinessJournal and CLASSmagazine's readership) may not need to focus on whatcolorful parts of the human anatomy Nigerian leaders speak from aslong as the elections are seen to be fair, free and reflecting thewill of the people.

An unstable transition will set Nigeria back, again! Mainlythrough 2006 and into 2007, some international investors haveremained wary, watching, hesitant to expand new investments; they arewaiting to see if the emerging liberalization/privatization of theeconomy will be matched with political plurality. Iwu fullyunderstands the connection. The violence and terror in the NigerDelta have complicated the oil and gas business as much as it has thevoting logistics in the area. I was in Port Harcourt, the nervecenter of daily petroleum commercial activity in the area. The NigerDelta will be quite intersting to watch.

At the end of the day, the success of the INEC in running a free,fair and accurate election will help move Nigeria's democracyforward. On the other hand, any shenagigans or any facts indicatingthat the powerful INEC is siding the president's ruling PDP partywill cast a long shadow on the determination of Iwu, a scholar andpolicy thinker to institutionalize voting and electoral ethos in thelargest democracy in Africa. Iwu whose resume holds such achievementsas getting his professional training at the University of Bradford ,Bradford , England , receiving a Master of Pharmacy degree in 1976and a Ph.D in 1978. He is a recipient of many academic honors,including WHO Visiting Scholar to Dyson Perrins Laboratory,University of Oxford (1980), Fulbright Senior Scholar Award ( OhioState University, Columbus Ohio and the Department of Chemistry,Columbia University, New York (1983), Senior Research Scholar awardU.S National Research International Prize for Ethonobiolology(1999)

Prof. Iwu told me that contrary to the charges of lack of fullpreparedness, the INEC has marshalled out the logistical support andelectronic platforms to revolutionize and improve the electionslandscape of Nigeria. Only in a few weeks, the rubber will hit theroad , and the final test of INEC's efforts and Iwu's vision will beseen across ballot boxes and results across the far-flunggeo-political arenas of Nigeria. One fact I can tell him: both thewinners and losers of the elections will mention his name for good orbad.
CLICKhere for EXCERPTS from part 1 of our exclusive interview inAbuja

CLICKhere for EXCERPTS from part 2 of our exclusive interview inAbuja

 Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on theIroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By ChidoNwangwu.Summary: Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of theEnglish Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in theworld, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions,cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwillambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, theEagleon the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe,has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars andcritics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as thewriter of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in thetwentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message hasbeen neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's ourpathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans andlovers of the fineart of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once,pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literarycontextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igboor Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of thetrue essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing anddisposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures)this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce,juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of thevitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality ofChi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... itis a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude whiletaking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community.I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, therigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed inmost of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, becauseI share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a briefsentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here,folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle onthe Iroko, may your Lineage endure! Therehas never been one like you!

A young father writes his One year old son: "If only my heart had a voice...."

INSIGHT: Why America should halt the genocide in the Sudan. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder and Publisher of Certain facts and the continuing, bigoted impudence of Islamic Sudan offer clarity to why the U.S should aggressively halt the genocide and gory events in Africa's largest country. The Sudan has almost 918,000 square miles in size and a war-weary population of 30million. Even as I call for a red line to be drawn against the rag-tag army of Arab-taliban-fascists in Africa and the assorted troops of religio-criminal rapists who have since four decades set upon the southern Christian, indigenous African Sudanese, I agree with Gen. Powell that "America will be a friend to all Africans who seek peace; but we cannot make peace among Africans." He is right. Africans must respect and love each other. Continued here....
POLICY INSIGHT: Africa, Blair and United Kingdom's commendable push for development assistance. By Chinua Akukwe, contributing editor of
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
Why Bush should focus on
dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century.

DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria (USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu with Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.

Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
INTERVIEW: 'Nigeria needs a democratic system guided by the truth....' Senator Francis J. Ellah, the Eze Nwadei Ogbuehi of Ogba in Rivers state of Nigeria. He is a highly regarded elder statesman with outstanding political credentials and a former Second Republic Senator and a delegate to Nigeria's ongoing national political reforms conference in Abuja.
Bola Ige's murder another danger signal for Nigeria's nascent democracy.

How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game 
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers

Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are Keys to prosperity in Africa

Steve Jobs extends digital magic

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials

Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam

Lifestyle Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights. By Chika Unigwe

Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu

USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston 2001 special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.

In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Al Johnson

NIGERIA: The day Yar'Adua, PDP Presidential candidate declared he's not "dead"; in Germany hospital, dismissed reports, rumors.... March 7, 2007: Umar Yar'Adua, 56, the presidential candidate of Nigeria's ruling party (People's Democratic Party), who has been battling kidney problems and its related complications has spoken from Germany where he was rushed to a hospital (in Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt) on Tuesday. Rumors and speculations about his health and demise added another layer to the intrigues ahead of the April 2007 presidential. He asserts that he's better and plans to return soon from Germany, where he was flown for medical treatment. Asked about news reports in Nigeria saying he had died, Gov. Yar'Adua on Wednesday March 7, 2007 told VOA's Hausa service: "I am talking to you now, do you think I am dead?"

His failing health has contin raised questions about his fitness to be president. He left Nigeria six weeks before the country's presidential elections in April 2007 He reportedly fainted in Abuja earlier and was rushed out of the country. The PDP has tried to give it a smooth face by claiming he's merely took a "break " for a "regular check up..." He is the handpicked favorite of Nigeria's soon-to-go-president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. He's a muslim and the incumbent governor of Nigeria's northern state, Katsina.

COUNTDOWN...NIGERIA ELECTIONS 2007: Reclusive Muslim governor of Katsina picked by Obasanjo handed Nigeria's ruling party 2007 presidential ticket... In continuing many observers and Nigerians describe as a charade of a selection, Nigeria's ruling party, PDP, on Sunday December 17, 2007, followed the overbearing script and instruction of retired General Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria's president) to affirm the party's "consensus choice" to succeed him, possibly in May 2007. The largely reclusive Muslim state governor, Umaru Yar'Adua, is a family friend of Obasanjo's.

The Governor's late brother, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua was Obasanjo's deputy between 1976-1979, during Obasanjo's rule as a military dictator. Obasanjo also secured a special clause for himself as the influential chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP.

Yar'Adua, the 55-year-old governor of Katsina state, easily defeated 11 other "contestants" after all the PDP Governors running for the presidential slot were "encouraged" to step down for General Obasanjo's"consensus choice", Yar'Adua. The Governor will carry the mantle of the party during the April 2007 elections. Obasanjo has already annointed him as "my brother who will be my worthy successor." The PDP, like most parties in Nigeria, is especially notorious for rigging and violence. Special report by Chido Nwangwu, VIEWPOINT. By Prof. Niyi Osundare: "Obasanjo has ruined this country...." An open letter to Nigeria's President Obasanjo.

Africa Attention Deficit Disorder. A U.S. disorder that hurts Africa. By David Sarasohn of Newhouse News Service: Today's pictures are from Niger, but they could be from lots of places in Africa, and from lots of times during recent decades. These children with the matchstick legs, and the eyes bigger than their fists, could have been from Biafra, a runaway province of Nigeria, in the 1970s, or from Ethiopia in the 1980s, or the Congo in the 1990s. The hideous massacre stories, this time from Darfur, could be from Liberia, or Sierra Leone, or -- most bloodily -- Rwanda. The AIDS stories come steadily from the same places. Full commentary here

'Live 8' global concerts put focus on Africa, poverty.... Singers from U2's Bono to billionaire Bill Gates called for the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations to relieve African poverty at ``Live 8'' concerts in London and nine other cities. About 200,000 people jammed into London's Hyde Park on July 2 at the start of a week of music and demonstrations to pressure heads of G-8 nations meeting July 6-8 in Gleneagles, Scotland, to increase aid and debt relief to Africa and also rewrite trade rules.

"This is our moment to stand up for what's right,'' U2 lead singer Bono told the audience in London. ``We can't fix every problem, but those we can, we must,'' he said, mentioning malaria, AIDS and deaths caused by dirty water. U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, host of the G-8 summit, is making African poverty reduction a focus of the meeting. Performers at "Live 8'' -- including Paul McCartney, Cold Play, Madonna and REM -- want to raise popular awareness of the continent's economic deprivation.

The concerts will reach a potential global audience of 5.5 billion people through television, Internet and other media, organizer Bob Geldof said. They occur 20 years after the Live Aid concerts that Geldof also arranged to combat African poverty. Africa is the only continent to have become poorer in the last 25 years, according to the United Nations. More than 300 million Africans live on less than $1 a day, and less than half of children on the continent complete primary school. In the last 50 years, there have been 186 coups and 26 wars in Africa, with more than 7 million people killed, the UN says.


Apple's Switch to Intel: The Ultimate Power Move? Steve Jobs' decision to build Macs with Intel chips may finally give the company a shot at challenging Microsoft's Windows." By David Kirkpatrick
June 16 and South Africa's treble historic events. By Nkem Ekeopara
"Our ordeal with KLM"
"They bumped me and my daughter from a confirmed flight; then flies out with 5 pieces of our luggage...." TONY IGWE in exclusive interview tells Publisher Chido Nwangwu of 5 hours of anguish and disappointments at the George Bush International Airport in Houston, on Friday March 26, 2004
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.

Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
CNN, Obasanjo and Nigeria's struggles with
Why Obasanjo's government should respect
CNN and Freedom of the press in Nigeria.
Jonas Savimbi, UNITA are "terrorists" in Africans' eyes despite Washington's "freedom fighter" toga for him. By SHANA WILLS

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (above) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting