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CNNInternational interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues
Nigeria tribunalrejects challenges to president Yar'Adua's contested election
By Estelle Shirbon
ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian tribunal on Tuesday (February 26,2008) rejected opposition demands for a re-run of last year'spresidential election, averting a political crisis in Africa's mostpopulous nation.
Umaru Yar'Aduawon a landslide victory, but local and international observers saidvote-rigging was so rampant that the results were "not credible". Aspecial five-judge tribunal rejected legal challenges filed by thetwo main opposition candidates, former army ruler Muhammadu Buhariand former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
"Umaru Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan remain the president andvice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," said Judge JohnFabiyi at the conclusion of a ruling that took more than three hoursto deliver.
Major oil exporter Nigeria, a chaotic country of 140 millionpeople, emerged just nine years ago from decades of coups and armyrule. Many politicians had feared that instability would return ifYar'Adua's election was annulled.
The two challengers immediately said they would appeal to theSupreme Court. This could take several more months. "For us, we havecome to the semi-final," Buhari told reporters immediately after theruling.
The odds for the Supreme Court decision appear heavily stacked infavor of Yar'Adua after the tribunal rejected every single one of thechallengers' points.
It said Buhari had failed to prove that violations of theelectoral law were substantial enough to invalidate Yar'Adua'svictory. It ruled that Abubakar had not been excluded from the poll,as he had alleged, but rather had participated actively.
"It is a very disappointing judgment," said Innocent Chukwuma,head of the homegrown Transition Monitoring Group.
"We had expected the tribunal to go beyond mere technicalities andaddress the yearnings of Nigerians for fair and credible elections,"he said.
But economists said the ruling had strengthened Nigeria'spolitical stability and this would reassure investors.
"We expect the decision to be positive for the performance ofNigerian markets," said Razia Khan, regional head of research forAfrica at Standard Chartered Bank in London.
Uncertainty over whether Yar'Adua would finish his four-year termhad slowed policy-making and investment decisions, and economistsexpressed hope the pace of reform would now pick up.
"The key is whether the greater political certainty translatesinto more effective government. There is not a lot the government canpoint to after nine months in power," said Graham Stock, Africastrategist at JP Morgan in London.
In a statement after the ruling, Yar'Adua pledged to run "apurposeful and result-oriented administration that will yieldtangible and visible benefits for all Nigerians".
He also promised electoral reform to ensure that similar disputesdo not arise in future.
Tribunals at state level have cancelled the elections of seven outof 36 state governors who were also elected last April, as well asthe elections of the Senate president and dozens of legislators. Therulings cited voting irregularities.
Dressed in a white traditional attire, the strict Muslim andproponent of Sharia, took the oath of office in a short ceremony,which followed the swearing in of his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan.
A 21-gun salute formally welcomed the new leader intooffice, after which he climbed onto an open, ceremonial military jeepfor a ride around the venue and an inspection of the guard of honourmounted by soldiers and policemen. Former President OlusegunObasanjo, who handed over to Yar'Adua, had used the same jeep earlierfor his final ride around the Eagle Square.
The ceremony was attended by African leaders including ThaboMbeki of South Africa, Idriss Deby of Chad, Boni Yayi of Benin,Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo and YahyaJammeh of The Gambia. Also present were Faure Gnassigbe of Togo,Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Hosni Mubarakof Egypt, Mamadou Tandja of Niger and John Kufuor of Ghana. Algeriawas represented by its Vice President. Western leaders largelyshunned the ceremony, with the US and Britain, two key Nigerianallies, sending junior delegations to the ceremony.
A coalition of Nigerian opposition parties, labour unionsand civil society organisations had appealed to world leaders toboycott the ceremony, in protest against the last elections,described as a sham by local and international observers.
Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, said there wasnothing to celebrate. "The sky is overcast, bleak and depressingwhere I am unavoidably occupied at the moment, but still nothing asfilled with foreboding as the dark cloud that hangs over the Nigeriannation," Soyinka said in a statement to the coalition.
While the celebration was going on, the coalition wasmarching in protest in the commercial city of Lagos on the second ofa two-day, stay-at-home strike to denounce the presidential electionwon by Yar'Adua, a candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). Police later descended on the protesters, making some arrests.At least six opposition presidential candidates have challenged the21 April election of Yar'Adua in court. 29 May 2007 - PANA
Stop aid to Nigeria until fresh, credible elections are held, saysEuropean Parliament. The European Parliament on Thursday(May 24, 2007) urged the EU to withhold all financial aid to theNigerian government until the African country holds new elections."EU aid to Nigeria should not be given to federal or state structuresuntil new, credible elections have been held," the EuropeanParliament said in a non-binding resolution. Such resolutions areoften issued to pressure EU member states and the executiveCommission in Brussels.
The EU said last month's state and federal elections in Nigeria,won by the governing party, fell short of basic standards and couldnot be considered credible, free and fair. The EU has earmarkednearly 500-million euro (about R4,7-billion) over the last five yearsfor different projects in Nigeria, most of them focused on goodgovernance, health and water supply and sanitation.
It is our view that these transactions are shady and faulty onseveral fronts. One, they were not conducted by the BPE andapparently did not follow due process by not conforming tocompetitive open bidding. Secondly, these assets were grosslyundervalued. Thirdly, all the stakeholders (employees, creditors andminority shareholders) were not consulted before the transactionswere consummated. We wish to highlight a roll call of thesetransactions as follows:
-- The Port Harcourt Refinery was sold to Blue Star Oil at thecost of $561 million. Blue Star is a subsidiary of Dangote Group ofCompanies, an organization owned by one of the biggest financiers ofthe ruling party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Chairman ofZenon Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola (son of a past governor of Lagos State),is another big financier of the ruling PDP.
-- The Onigbolo Cement Company was grabbed by the Dangote Group ata ridiculous sum of $1.78billion.....Clickhere for full report intervention, it's a long-term project,"says Karim Dahou, an advisor to the Paris-based Africa PartnershipForum.
"While Nigeria's leaders are locked in a bad marriage that alldislike but dare not leave, there are possibilities that coulddisrupt the precarious equilibrium in Abuja," said the report, whichwas given to the press by Nigerian lawmakers....Click for report onIn15 years: Nigeria couldcollapse....
Counterpoint: WhyNigeria and Africa'sleaders are leading them nowhere.By Professor Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, contributing editor ofUSAfricaonline.com
2007 Mothers Day event,honorees network in Houston at USAfrica and CLASS annualbanquet. The cream of the African community flew into Houston,Texas, from diffeerent parts of the U.S., Nigeria and the Cameroonsfor the 2007 AnnualMOTHERS' DAY Honors on Saturday May 5, 2007. The honorees forInternational Educators of the Year were Prof. KAYODE MAKINDE, ViceChancellor/President of Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria;Prof. Mrs. FELINA NWADIKE of Coppin University, Baltimore inMaryland, Mrs. JOSEPHINE 'JOE ARISE' OKORONKWO--ONOR of SouthernUniversity of New Orleans; Mrs. IDIAT BABAJIDE as USAfrica YouthEducator of the Year; Dr. PAULINE KWANG and Mrs. BIBIAN MUKORO werehonored with the USAfrica Community Leadership award; Ms. SHUNTAFLETCHER got the USAfrica Community Healthcare Facilitator award; Dr.MRS. TINA O'KEHIE is the USAfrica Pioneer Business woman(Chiropractor).
Ms. GERTHA WILLIAMS got theUSAfrica Community Health Leadership award; Mrs. CAROLINE OKPARA gotthe USAfrica Community Business Leadership award while Madam MONICAAZUBIKE bagged the USAfrica Mother of the Year honor for 2007. Theawards were primarily presented by Senator Eze Ajoku, Dr. & Mrs.Vincent Nwabeke, USAfrica's Founder Chido Nwangwu, Nze & Dr, Mrs.Chinyere Agi, Edith Okere-Ejiogu, event master of ceremonies was Dr.Chris Ulasi; outstanding DJ for the evening was OJ Jammin' Juice.Event co-sponsor was Moneygram.
CLASS magazine, USAfrica andUSAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York Times as thelargest and most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedianetworks). USAfrica was founded in May 2002, in Houston, Texas bytelevision broadcaster and multimedia media executiveChidoNwangwu. Contacte-mail: Class@Classmagazine.tv. USAfricamailing address: .8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100,Houston, Texas 77074. Phone: 713-270-5500.Cell direct: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)
USAfrica VIEWPOINT: PresidentObasanjo, Nigeria is dying in your hands. Another OpenLetter to Nigeria's President by Prof.Niyi Osundare:"President Obasanjo, you had the greatest opportunity inthe world to shape the destiny of Nigeria and put her foot on theroad to the future. But you turned the noble act of politicalcompetition into a "do-or-die" battle. And true to your words, thecountry is dying from your doing....Everywhere you have turned in thepast four years (sometime in the future, you would wish you hadn'thad a second term), your feet have fallen on thorns and pebbles: thefomenting of wasteful political disaffection in Anambra, and OyoStates, the cunning manouevering that has turned you into an absolutemonarch of your great Party, the PDP, your routine disrespect forlegitimate court injunctions and well-deliberated laws from theLegislature, your back-handed attempt to extend your presidentialtenure, and your embarrassing showdown with your Vice President overhow BOTH of you have mismanaged and squandered the resources of thePetroleum Trust Fund Development (PTDF). As scandalized Nigerianswatched their so-called Number One and Number Two citizens dancing soabominably naked in the streets despite their lavish robes, we allwondered: what manner of rulers are these that have absolutely nosense of shame?! Your Excellency, you remind me of the proverbialking that has shat on the throne. Your nose may be too far from themessage of your discharge, but thecountry is surely choking from the stench."
VIEWPOINT: Obasanjo,Go! Just go! Prof. Wole Soyinka
"I have told this story again although we allknow it. I am retelling it because as it goes with Anambra, so willit go with Nigeria. As Nigeria gets ready for the election ofGovernors, Anambra State is in a quandary. President Obasanjo'shatchet man for elections is determined that only one candidate willbe allowed to run in the state and has gone ahead to disqualifyeverybody else so that the President's favourite man will be alone inthe field. If this plan goes through, it would amount to nothing lessthan the disenfranchisement of the people of AnambraState."
"I must congratulate the Judiciary on the toughbattle many of its members are waging for the soul of Nigeria. TheSenate came ever so close to snatching Nigeria out of the fire, andthen... That was a historic moment lost. What a pity."
But he INEC chairman has stated in an interviewwith USAfrica and CLASSmagazine that the elections will be free andfair. Theexcerpts of this exclusive interview appear here atUSAfricaonline.com.Only in a few days through this April2007, the Obasanjo government's position will be tested by the turnout and assessments by voters and observers.
"Obasanjohas ruined this country...." An open letter to Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo. By Prof. NiyiOsundare:
Dear President, millions of Nigerians see you as thesource of their problems. Millions curse you under their breadth.Millions more loudly pronounce their imprecations at the slightestopportunity. You rule over a degraded country, Mr. President; yourevery act has consistently contributed to that degradation. Inthe reckoning of most Nigerians, you are the most arrogant, mostinsensitive, most callous, and most self-righteous and hypocriticalruler that this unfortunate country has ever been saddled with in itshapless saga of misrule.Your words, behaviour, disposition, andgeneral track record seem to justify these negativeimpressions.
Consider these facts: in two years, you have hiked the price ofpetroleum products two times. You met a litre of petrol selling for21 naira; it now goes for a whooping 42 naira in a few places andtwice as much in many others. As if this were not enough, you toppedit all with a N1.50 levy misnamed "fuel tax". You started by flayingus with whips; now you fleece us with scorpions. What good youthought would come out of these hikes, you alone in your unfathomablewisdom will ever know; you and the Mephistophelean PPPRA and yourhorde of "Special advisers." Osundare, Professor of English at theUniversity of Ibadan (Nigeria), poet and prolific essayist, is thewinner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for 1986, and the 1991 NomaAward for Publishing in Africa. His essays and reviews have appearedpreviously on USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper.Clickhere for FULL commentary
DEMOCRACYWATCH: What Bush Should TellObasanjo.... By ChidoNwangwu (Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com): March 29,2006, at the White House, where Bush also met a few days earlier withLiberia's Sirleaf, new face of Africa; welcomed Nigeria's PresidentretiredGeneral Olusegun Obasanjo, an old face of Africa, to thank him forregional support of the U.S.,discuss "strengthening democraticinstitutions, and the need to bring Charles Taylor to justice." (Bothpresidents are seen in this 2004 USAfrica news archive picture). Thevisit comes against the current background of the outrageous nonsenseparroted by hangers-on and political idol worshippers, thephilistines of Nigeria's politics who have since become the domesticand international canvassers of the indecent baloney that: Nigeria'sconstitution must be amended for one man, retired General OlusegunObasanjo, to govern for a 3rd 4-year term (12 years!). This they, shamelessly, claim is for Nigeria's survival. Worse, they addthat without Obasanjo, there will be no progress, criminality of thepolitical economy will abound and the polity will collapse. Goodheavens! Thesheer hubris that Nigeria can only move forward only by the "divine"and eternal governance of a 74-year former dictator Obasanjo issimply stupefying and immoral, to say the veryleast. Hence, the enabled executors and conductors of thisfolly on behalf of Obasanjo only remind me of the infamous words ofthe 17th century French monarch, Louis X1V (1638-1715) whoreportedly said "L'État, c'est moi" meaning "I amthe State." If only Obasanjo could drive us back to the 17th century;only there was no Nigeria, at the time.
In comparison, while Liberia's Madam President Sirleaf representsthe manifestation of the triumph of popular constitutional methodsand emerging institutional democratic values in Africa, retiredGeneral Obasanjo's imperious, know-it-all, emerging project for asit-tight presidency in Nigeria remind us all of the 1970sold Africa where constitution-tweaking soldiers (his colleagues) andpower drunks funnily believed their country's sun rose andshone at their hideous and idiosyncratic say-so. We won't go backthere; no; not now that we have the great Nelson Mandelaas our icon, historical benchmark and reference point. Obasanjo makesit difficult for Obasanjo to be a statesman; no doubt, he's aregional leader.
As a specialist on US. and Africa public policy and culturalissues, here are things I'll suggest President Bush tell PresidentObasanjo, in a short, sweet but realistic summary: Fullcommentary here
USAfrica NEWSBANK: OBASANJO'S FAILED 3RD TERM POWER-PLAY IS GOOD NEWSTO NIGERIANS, ABROAD AND HOME....
USAfricaonline.com and its correspondents in Nigeriaand across the major cities of the U.S are reporting an increasingtally of anti-3rd term phone calls and e-mails from our readers. By amargin of almost 7-2, USAfricaonline.com data show that anoverwhelming majority of the politically active citizenry are happythat Nigeria's Senate halted retiredGen. Olusegun Obasanjo's stealthy, unpopular, behind-the-scenes-winkand nod power plays to secure an "unrequested" 3rd term as presidentof Nigeria (a total of 12 consecutiveyears).