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NIGERIA: We are pushing the population to the brink – Donald Duke

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By Eromo Egbejule

Donald Duke, two-time governor of Cross River State and a part-time saxophone player at jazz festivals, wants to conduct a much larger orchestra next year: Nigeria’s 180 million people. In June, the 56-year-old politician declared his intention to run for president in the 2019 polls. He speaks to The Africa Report on President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard, the Niger Delta, insecurity, industrial policy, devolution of powers and a $500m flop from his time as governor.

TAR: First things first, why now? Why are you contesting now and not in 2007 when everybody felt that was the best chance to get into Aso Rock?

Donald Duke: In 2007, I felt the opportunity was good but on the back of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), it would not have happened because the system at the time was overwhelmingly dominated by President [Olusegun] Obasanjo. And he didn’t want it to happen. [The late Umaru Musa] Yar’adua and I had a discussion on this. He came to me in a very interesting manner. He said if I won the primaries, he would like to be my running mate; and if he won the primaries, he would like me to be his running mate. So, it was foolhardy running against him. The structure of the party gave literally everything to Obasanjo at the time, and he did what he did.
And now? There is an unwritten rule that a northerner has to be president in 2019.
See, it is political trickery. It is only a formula put together to accentuate someone’s chances. So, if the north wants to run for instance, they will say it is time to give it to the north. It is not in the constitution. And when you go to the north, they say, ‘Oh, give it to the north-west.’ The last time the north-east threw up a person was Tafawa Balewa from Bauchi. But you know that the north, they’ve had [Shehu] Shagari, Yar’adua, Buhari, all from the same state. When you talk about the north, you have to wonder about Kwara. And they say no, it has to go to the north. So it’s a fallacy. The north always contests elections. They have been contesting non-stop since 2003. More importantly, I don’t think we have the luxury of that right now. My perception of the country right now is it is in dire straits, and we are here right now because of our failure to put the best foot forward every time. I am not running as a southerner, I am running as a Nigerian.

Nigeria today has a plethora of problems. What will your campaign be pivoted on?

I don’t believe in the statistics that says unemployment in Nigeria is 15%. Of course not. Unemployment in Nigeria is probably between 70-80%. Even those that are employed are underemployed and underpaid. It puts a lot pressure on those who are employed because they have to support the unemployed. There are folks who will come to me believing that my sea can never dry – so I’m supposed to pay their house rent and all that. We run a goodwill economy whereby the majority of the folks live off the goodwill of the minority, and that ought not to be. In a nutshell, the focus will be to create as many jobs and include as many people into the economy as possible. That will douse a lot of things – corruption, security threats.
There is corruption of need and the corruption of greed. The corruption of greed is a corruption of the privileged, those who have money but they use influence to get more. But that of need, that policeman on the roadside who is asking you for a bribe is more of need. Imagine you have five or six children. You have school fees, you have rent to pay. You have medical bills, but you’re earning N25,000-N30,000 ($69-83). Our leadership is not in tune with the reality of this country. It’s a very docile population that has not exploded, but we are pushing it to the brink.

Are there any specifics in your first 100 days in office to tackle security? Like policing upgrades?

Policing is not generally having one central force that gathers and has guns. The most important part of police work is information gathering. We have only 300,000-400,000 policemen in Nigeria, and half are following big men. In a country of almost 200 million people, the police force ordinarily should be two million – that’s one policeman to 100 people. That’s broadly the international standard. But since it is a centralised force, it is very difficult for the federal government to engage two million people in the police force. So what do you do? Decentralise it. Not independent forces, but quasi-independent forces. For instance, in the states, you see the chief security officer, all he does is buy vehicles and provide support to the federal police, which is inadequate. Therefore, you have a reactionary police force service. What you require is a proactive police service. How do you do that? Get the states. Literally every single civil service is overstaffed by anywhere between 10-25%. Folks are not doing anything. Get them into police force to gather information. They live amongst the people, they know what each and every one is doing.

The planned Tinapa Resort racked up debt for Cross River state under you. As president, would you also build infrastructure with that kind of debt?

 

Why are you worried about debt? It is how you use the money. Why do you go to the bank to borrow? Because you want to grow. Tinapa was a function of continuity. We built a $500m business resort. We wanted to create traffic. Cross River is at the end of Nigeria. You don’t go there unless business takes you there. We needed to make it compelling for people. So the real essence of Tinapa was not infrastructure, it was an economic free-trade zone. [It is] the only one in Nigeria – the others are industrial trading hubs. The average Nigerian traveling out is going for shopping. We were trying to make all those things you find out there available at a cheaper rate. If you bring traffic, the hotels will explode and the entire hospitality chain too. Hotels sometimes work with farmers. If the hotels are prosperous, a lot of people are employed. That plan alone according to KPMG would have brought in three million people annually into Calabar. If on the average, each one spends N100,000 in hotel bills, shopping, taxi services and restaurants, that will bring N300bn into the economy. The multiplier effect will be at least $1.5trn.
It is money in circulation. The government now gets their money from taxing its people, and that is an anomaly in the Nigerian economy. It is based on government collecting rents from oil and not based on people generating income and the taxing from the income. Follow nature, you can’t go wrong. A tree survives from osmosis. It gets its nutrients from the soil and feeds up. If all you did was put up a tree on a concrete surface and water the leaves, it will die off.
We borrowed to build Tinapa; it wasn’t sustained. Government shouldn’t end on 29 May every four years. By now, Tinapa should have been thriving. The essence was to create an economy independent of the federation account. So we have 23,000 km² of land, and we are only three million people. So we can afford to give you 10,000ha of land to go farm. Oyo State can’t because there are so many people that you will be running over communities, but I can give you contiguous 20,000ha of land in Cross River. So we identified agriculture and tourism. We developed Tinapa as a world-class resort. Have you been to Obudu cattle ranch? That’s even better. For me, Obudu is the icing on our cake. We made commuting there easier – 45 minutes from Calabar and 30 minutes to the bottom of the mountains. We created traffic. In my time, Calabar became the fourth-busiest airport in Nigeria after Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. There was traffic. We had nine flights in and out per week. Today, we have only two.
So literally when you got out of office…
It went south because of a failure of continuity, which is not unique to Cross River. It is a national issue. Every government comes in and wants to jettison what everyone else has done and start anew. Governments don’t work that away. You take the assets and the liabilities.

Lagos is doing well. Central to that is better collection of taxes and its port. Did you also try to make the Calabar port work?

Yes. We wanted to create a niche in port services. If you take a flight out of Lagos, going eastwards towards Port Harcourt or Calabar and you are sitting on the right side of the aircraft and you look out, you will see a long line of ships. That is costing Nigeria a phenomenal amount of money because they are going to charge demurrage. But you have idle infrastructure that you can deploy. So I made a case to President Obasanjo that we use Calabar as a roll-on, roll-off port for cars and for commodities. We built, with the support of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, a parking yard to allow for trucks and cars, so when the cars come off the ships, they can be parked. That worked. We created a very informed industry. People were trained and all that. But [there was] no continuity, so it has gone back to an agro-port. Continuity is critical in every sector and country.

So you agree that leaders need to get the right people around them?

Absolutely.

Former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her new book said you advised her not to join the Jonathan administration.

She lied.

You didn’t call her?

Listen to my story. There are two sides. We were friends. I was in Washington. I called her up, which I normally do in Washington when she was there, and invite her for lunch. I go to see her and asked her if it is true she will take the job. She says she was thinking about it. I told her not to rush thinking about it because she was fired from her last job when she was the minister of finance.

I thought she resigned?

She was moved to foreign affairs, where she had no experience whatsoever, but she still wanted to head the economic team. The person said ‘No, you can’t,’ in other words, I am disengaging you from finance, which is your core competence. And she knows she couldn’t function in foreign affairs. So when the president said take it or leave it, she left.
Even beyond that, and this is why I think she was a bit disingenuous, if you read the book further, she talked of someone who would not allow her come into the [presidential] villa, right? In an instance that is even worse, where the International Monetary Fund chair was prevented from going into the villa, you don’t mention that [person]. I am very cautious of people who write books after their tenure.

Is that why you never wrote one?

When I write, I will not be talking about myself. I will write about the government, but I won’t write about myself. It is a bit egoistic. I think it was a laundry book. Why she chose to write it at this time, I don’t know but it is like Nasir El-Rufai’s book or Obasanjo’s book. You find that there are many things that may not have happened the way you perceive it happening.

But surely they are writing from their own perspective?

Yeah, but what is the thinking? Are you trying to clean up something? I responded to her. I told her that you made the economy poorer than you met it. But we are still friends.

A practical question – what will you do in the instance of both Ajaokuta steel company and the refineries?

Steel manufacturing is completely energy intensive. With the energy policy as it exists today, even if you produce steel, imported steel will still be cheaper so you can’t sell it. There is no way because I want to be patriotic, I’ll buy a ton of steel from you at say $1,500 because you are in Nigeria, when I can get it for $500 from China. So, you’ve got to make your industrial output affordable. Government is an enabler. You’ve got to enable people to prosper and become productive. Our gas assets are amazing. Nigeria is a gas country, not an oil country. We flare gas more than any other nation on earth. Rather than flare it, give it to the industries, they will become more productive. Your tax base will become higher and your goods will be affordable and you can export. If you made gas available to everybody, everybody will come and manufacture here. The Chinese and the Americans will manufacture here to export. Making Ajaokuta work was promised by Obasanjo. But why didn’t it work? Two things: poor management – people who never ran a steel mill before running it; two, the energy policy. You can’t compete with the Chinese or India, so you’ve got to take a critical factor that makes production costs lower. In Nigeria, poor infrastructure and poor energy supply are two critical factors because if I’m going to transport steel from Ajaokuta for instance, to Calabar, it will cost me a lot of money because the roads are bad. It shouldn’t be on road – it should be on rail, it would be cheaper.
Back to jobs…one could argue that they might not increase directly proportionally to our population.
You have to grow the non-oil economy at 15% annually for 10 years minimum to grow the economy from a $500bn economy to a $2.5trn economy. And how do you do that? You’ve got to make credit affordable, you’ve got to deal with the energy issue. And I have told you how to do – make the gas available for industries instead of flaring it. You’ve got to back a lot of import substitution. There are so many things that can stimulate growth. I can give you a concession for instance, to produce caustic soda to make soap cheaper. You can see the tariff thing going on in the United States, that is job creation. That has been America’s foreign policy since Alexander Hamilton. So, what Trump is doing is a playbook of the American fiscal policy since secretary of treasury Alexander Hamilton.

The Niger Delta question, soot in Port Harcourt, militants waiting in the wings, spillages….

All the folks are asking for is opportunities. You have all these institutions like the Niger Delta Development Commission and all that as interventions, but you need a long-lasting solution. There’s 5,460km of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta. Some of those pipelines have been there for 40 years, and they are leaking. But if you said this pipeline going through your community, I will pay you X amount for every kilometre or whatever. In exchange, you must report leakages and protect it, that will take care of the rest because they now have a stake. The problem in the Niger Delta is that the landowners don’t have a stake in what you are doing. Make them stakeholders. It is not a new idea. In Alaska, it is the same.

Beyond that, are you down for fiscal federalism and restructuring?

Absolutely. You restructure your life every day. As a society grows, it has to adjust the way it does things. The fear of restructuring is the money. A state like Kebbi will say if you restructure, they won’t be getting money from the federation again. In the 1963 constitution, 50% of the revenue went to the federal [government], 50% went to the states. It was in 1966 we started operating in a unified system. It is open for discussion […] First of all, the fact that we are even paying 13% [for resource control]. Now, maybe they are asking for 25%. It doesn’t matter, but let’s stop the dependency syndrome. Even if you have no minerals, look at what Kebbi is doing with rice. Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture, told me a story relayed to him by governor Atiku Bagudu. He called a meeting for rice growers in Kebbi State on a particular day and they told him that they can’t come. ‘We are doing our harvest, postpone it for two weeks’. For a governor to call a meeting and folks say no they can’t come means that they are independent of government. That is a good sign. Kebbi rice growers will do more if there was affordable credit. The beauty of Nigeria as a country is our numbers, but when those number are not productive it becomes a curse. And those numbers are going to expand exponentially. If we cannot solve these problems people are having today, in 30 years we will be eating each other.

So what about President Buhari’s scorecard?

Buhari ran for office on two main issues – security and corruption. You can only judge him based on what he said. We are still as corrupt as ever. In fact, if we use the [Transparency International] integrity index, we are worse. I’m not a member of Transparency International, but we all read it and the government acknowledged it and tried to make excuses.
Incidences of kidnapping are still rampant, and the herdsmen problem has reared its head even more. Boko Haram, [Buhari’s] announced about three times that it is over, but it is still there.
He didn’t say much about the economy although he said he will make the naira stronger, but we all know it couldn’t happen. What people are looking at is not the value of the currency but the stability of the currency. If Nigeria wanted to make the dollar equal to 1 naira, it could, but it would only last for maybe one month because you will put your entire foreign exchange available right now and it will be 1 to 1.
If I am a foreign investor and I bring $100m to invest in Nigeria and my returns will start in 5-6 years, I want to know what the exchange rate will be in 5-10 years when I will be repatriating my money out. So those guys who established long-term investments here, when the thing moved to 360 naira to a dollar, they ran out of business. And because you are a monoeconomy, you need to engage the IMF. You need to have a buffer with them and create a confidence that come what may, we are giving you guarantee that we have reached a deal with Nigeria whereby the price of the naira will remain at 350 naira to a dollar for the next 10 years. With that announcement, people will rush here.
One of the biggest boohoos that Buhari did […] In the United States he was asked how he will deal with the Niger Delta, the south-east and all that. He said those who did not vote for him should not expect as much as those who voted for him. That’s not leadership. I will use my example. In 1999, I got only 19,000 votes from an entire senatorial district, Cross River North. If you took out the vote from that district, I still won the election. What did I do? I focused on them. I invested heavily. Obudu Cattle Ranch is there, it has been there forever, but we developed it to be the best resort in West Africa. I opened up a medical university there. I ensured that most of the north was put on the national grid. When I ran the second time, they told me not to bother to campaign. You are a leader of not just part of the country, you are a leader of the entire country. To me, that was a failure of leadership.
You know, the cry for Biafra is a cry of marginalisation. The people feel that you don’t care for them. Each time a section of the country doesn’t feel carried along, they are going to react. I may not like the way [Indigenous People of Biafra leader] Nnamdi Kanu went about it, but he’s sending a message that this man is marginalising us. For me, Biafra represents a statement of marginalisation anytime you hear that cry. In my state, there was a huge cry at a time for Ogoja State, but after my first term, it died off. Nobody heard of Ogoja State anymore because they were proudly Cross Riverian.

You’ve talked about the corruption of need and greed. Some of your former colleagues who are in government have some allegations levelled against them. Are you going to investigate them?

It is a system. It shouldn’t depend on the whims of who is president.

Yes, but it takes political willpower.

If the system works, of course they will be investigated. Just because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigates you doesn’t make you a criminal. You have to be convicted – whatever the courts decide. But you’re asking me if I will shield them? No, I will not. I will not shield anybody.
There is a difference between shielding and actively prosecuting.
The EFCC has to do its job. Everybody has to do their job. And if they are doing their job, they will actively prosecute. The problem with Nigeria comes down to one word, consequences. The failure of consequences is what has brought us to where we are today.

What platform are you contesting on?

It is evolving, and I don’t want to preempt it. Right now, there is a conversation on the opposition parties coming together and all that. I am still a member of PDP, but I don’t want to preempt it. It may be the PDP, it may not be.

 

 

TAR

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‘Simply reality’: Public hits back at banning of ‘This is Nigeria’ music video

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‘This is Nigeria,’ a rap music video portraying the country’s problems, has been banned following accusations that it contains a “vulgar” line. The public has hit back, saying the video merely states the truth.
Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined a Nigerian radio station for airing rapper Falz’s adaptation of Children Gambino’s ‘This is America.’ The video has already racked up 13 million views on YouTube.
It gives a depressing portrayal of what life is like amid corruption and violence in the west African country. NBC banned the song from being aired, claiming the line “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal” is too “vulgar” to be publicly broadcast.

The cover of Gambino’s hit piece went viral as it was picked up by hip-hop mogul Diddy.

Despite its popularity, NBC doubled down on its ban, saying the song is “unfit” to circulate.
It also received criticism from Nigeria’s Muslim Rights Concern, who in June threatened to sue Falz if he failed to issue an apology and redact the song.
The group said it “demonized Nigerian Muslims,” and raised concern about female dancers wearing hijabs, as well as a man from the Fulani tribe purportedly attacking another man with a machete.
The organization said Falz’s work was “thoughtless, insensitive and highly provocative,” and had “the potential of causing religious crisis of unprecedented dimension.”
Falz, whose real name is Folarin Falana, responded to the ban saying: “I’m not happy that the NBC is preventing the people from listening to such strong messages that need to be heard,” CNN reports.
“There is a lot going on that needs to be talked about, even though a lot of people may not want to hear the truth.”
The ban stirred outcry on social media, with people saying it does nothing more than portray the reality of the third-world country.

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Nigeria’s State Owned Oil Company To Go Public

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will float 40 percent of its stock on the local stock exchange once the President signs the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Nigerian media report. The PIGB is at the heart of an energy sector overhaul aimed at making the corruption-ridden state company profitable. To do this, NNPC group managing director Maikanti Baru said, the company needs to be more commercially driven. For this, it needs cash, which will be raised through the listing.
As part of the overhaul, the NNPC will be split into two: the Nigerian Petroleum Company, which will be an integrated oil company taking all assets of the NNPC with the exception of the production-sharing contracts, and the Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management Company.
NNPC’s existing stock will initially be split between the two state vehicles—Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated and Ministry of Finance Incorporated—with 40 percent going to each and another 20 percent held by the Bureau of Public Enterprises. In five to ten years, 10 percent of the initial stock plus a new batch of shares equal to 30 percent of this will be floated on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter, has struggled to make its oil industry work in the last few years after the oil price plunge exposed the problems at the NNPC ranging from graft to mismanagement. Militant activity in the Niger Delta, pipeline vandalism, and the subsequent production outages did not help the company get back on its feet. The federal government, however, has thrown its weight behind the reform drive that should make the oil industry more efficient and more profitable.
Nigeria produced 1.67 million barrels of oil daily in July, below the 1.8-million-bpd quota it had agreed with OPEC after it joined the production cut effort that was reversed this June. The West African nation should only benefit from the reversal as it can now expand its production as fast as it wants, which should boost oil revenues that the industry overhaul will require.

 


Irina Slav
Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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INEC gives notice of 2019 elections

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday released the notice of activities for the 2019 general elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the notice was pasted at the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) office of INEC in Abuja.
Mrs Ndidi Okafor, Head of Voter Education and Publicity Gender and Civil Society Liaison of INEC , FCT told NAN that the notice was in accordance with section 30 of the Electoral Act 2010.
According to the notice, collection of nomination forms for national and state elections by political parties is fixed between Aug 17 and Aug. 24.
Collection of forms for FCT elections will take place between 3 Sept. and 10 Sept.
“The last date for submission of nomination forms by political parties has also been scheduled for Dec. 3 for presidential and National Assembly Elections and state elections Dec. 17.
“The collection of nomination forms for FCT Area Council elections would commence on Nov. 3 to Nov. 10, while the last date for the return of the nomination forms is Dec. 14.
“On Oct 25 INEC will publish the personal particulars of National election candidates on Oct. 25 and those of the state candidates on Nov. 9.”
Okafor said INEC has announced Nov. 17 as the last date for the withdrawal or replacement of candidates for president and National Assembly elections, and Dec. 1 for governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
INEC would on Jan. 2, 2019 publish notice of the polls, and on Jan. 7, 2019 publish official register of voters for the election, which will begin with the presidential and National Assembly elections on 16 February.

 

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Nigeria is home to 500+ kinds of graft. Here’s a new way to think about them.

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Corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multi-faceted. A new taxonomy can help us make sense of it.

Corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multi-faceted. A new taxonomy can help us make sense of it.

Corruption in Nigeria runs the gamut from the jaw-dropping, to the creative, to the mundane. It encompasses the oil minister who diverted billions of petrodollars in just a few years. It includes the local official who claimed a snake slithered into her office and gobbled up $100,000 in cash. And it involves the cop shaking down motorists for 25 cents apiece at makeshift checkpoints.
When former British Prime Minster David Cameron described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt” in 2016, Nigerians may have been rankled that the offhand comment failed to recognise the UK’s own key role in allowing multi-trillion-dollar global corruption networks to flourish, but few thought his assessment was wrong.
It is widely accepted that Nigeria suffers profoundly from corruption. However, the practice is much more complicated and far-reaching than the familiar headlines suggest.
Economically, corruption stymies Nigeria’s boundless potential, hamstringing the petroleum, trade, power and banking sectors and more. In the defence sector, it compounds security challenges in hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, Middle Belt and Niger Delta. In the police, judiciary and anti-corruption agencies, it undermines the country’s already-anaemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fuelling further corruption across the spectrum.
It also rears its head in politics through electoral manipulation and the kleptocratic capture of party structures. “Brown envelope journalism” undermines democratic norms and the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable. Meanwhile, it is Nigeria’s most vulnerable that are worst affected when graft, fraud and extortion permeate the educational, health and humanitarian sectors.
Corruption in Nigeria, and elsewhere, is highly complex. It can take a variety of different but inter-related forms. Its effects can span across several disparate sectors. Yet most existing frameworks for studying corruption share a common shortcoming: they conflate how corruption occurs (i.e. tactics and behaviours) with where it occurs (i.e. which sector). This can muddle our understanding of an already complicated issue and prevent policymakers, practitioners and analysts from thinking about Nigeria’s greatest challenge in more sophisticated and nuanced ways.

Making better sense of corruption
In a paper recently published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, I propose a new framework – or taxonomy – for looking at corruption in Nigeria. Like the Periodic Table of Elements or the system used to classify animals and plants, this taxonomy aims to help make complicated and expansive topics more digestible.
The framework works by detailing twenty sectors that are especially vulnerable to corruption (such as media, infrastructure, and police). It also identifies eight categories of corrupt behaviour that cut across these sectors (such as bribery, subsidy abuse, and favouritism). These eight categories are further divided into 28 tactics, meaning that overall, the framework covers over 500 distinct kinds of corruption.
Among the forms of corrupt behaviour, the taxonomy includes “legalised corruption” and “deliberate waste”. These categories are not generally recognised as forms of corruption, but they make sense to include in the Nigerian context. These tactics include legislators’ exorbitant salaries (roughly $540,000 annually), vanity projects (such as one governor’s decision to erect multi-million-dollar bronze statues of South Africa and Liberia’s former presidents), and Nigeria’s three (yes, three!) expensive and unnecessary space agencies.
Using the framework to visualise different forms of graft is fairly straightforward. Take the dubious practice of the president or ministers waiving import duties for select companies. These tax breaks are typically granted to firms controlled by ruling party financiers and can be extremely costly. Between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria lost $2.8 billion in revenues to such import waivers.
Looked at through the lens of this taxonomy, we can see that this relatively intricate form of corruption is trade-related and takes the form of subsidy abuse as well as tactics such as favouritism and bribery. Unlike some simpler systems, this framework is flexible enough to recognise that corruption is not always clear-cut and limited in focus, but interconnected, involving a range of behaviours that cut across sectors.

How this new taxonomy can help
As an analytical tool, this new taxonomy is useful to researchers looking to compare the situation in Nigeria with conditions in other countries. Though Nigeria-specific, it is adaptable and could be applied to other countries too. Doing so could help answer a question much-debated among Nigerians: is corruption in their country somehow unique?
This framework could also help policymakers, diplomats, development professionals and private investors to more effectively navigate Nigeria’s complex and interconnected corruption landscape. Tailored to Nigerian realities, it supports the World Bank’s push to “do development differently” by forging more context-specific approaches to addressing development challenges.
It also offers international partners and Nigerian civil society groups engaged in anti-corruption work a better basis for conducting programmatic assessments and analysing the prevalence, impact, and multiplier effects of different forms of the practice.
Developing more sophisticated policies could yield advances against a problem that drains billions of dollars a year from Africa’s largest economy, weakens the social contract between government and the people, and impoverishes Nigeria’s resilient but long-suffering people. But it must begin from a nuanced and accurate understanding of the problem.

 


Matthew T. Page is a consultant and co-author of ‘Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know’ (Oxford University Press, 2018). He is a nonresident scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an associate fellow with the Africa Programme at Chatham House, and nonresident fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja. 

African Arguments

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In Photos/Videos : Happening Now – Presentation of Certificates of Registration to the newly registered 23 Political Parties by the Hon. Chairman INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday presented Certificates of Registration to 23 new political parties in Abuja.
Photos and videos from the ceremony were shared on the Twitter handle of the electoral body, @inecnigeria.

The Commission has decided to extend the CVR to 31st August 2018. The exercise will continue in all the designated registration centres every day, including weekends, but excluding public holidays, between 9am and 5pm.

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Saraki yet to declare for 2019 Presidency – Aide

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The Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on New Media, Olu Onemola, has played down rumours that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, will contest in the 2019 Presidential election.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Saraki disclosed that he is “consulting and actively considering” running for President, leading many to believe that he will vie for the country’s top job.
However, in a series of tweets today, Onemola asserted that the President of the Senate’s comments should not be assumed as a declaration to contest for the Presidency next year.
“Considering’ is not a declaration. At the appropriate time, the President of Senate will be specific about his aspiration for 2019. Moreover, the Bloomberg interview was 90% on the economy, and not politics.
“The President of the Senate has been clear that at the right time, Nigerian’s will know what his plans are,” he said.

Additional – OrderPaper

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Senate Asks INEC To Scrap “Smaller” Political Parties

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Nigerian lawmakers in the upper legislative chamber have asked the independent national electoral commission to “scrap smaller political parties to reduce the cost of 2019 general elections.

The lawmakers gave the advice as INEC chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu appeared before them on Wednesday to defend 2019 general election budget of 189 billion naira.
Nigerian lawmakers cut short their annual recess on Wednesday to attend to President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget – request for 2019 general elections.
Their return may have ended weeks of anxieties that the 2019 elections could suffer a setback unless the lawmakers reconvene.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu was around to defend the election budget which the INEC chairman put at189 billion naira.
The figure represents an increase of n69 billion from that of 2015 general elections.
Yakubu said the budget had to be increased because of the number of political parties.
The INEC chairman said his commission had registered a total of 91 political parties and that this number has affected the cost of the elections.
The lawmakers asked INEC to consider trimming down on the number of political parties even though what the president requested was the same in terms of figures with what INEC presented, there was a bit of difference in the manner the monies were to be released.
While INEC wants the sum of n189 billion approved in one trench, the president had requested the national assembly to give approval in two separate components in the 2018 and 2019 budgets.
Unable to reach a compromise on how the money should be approved, the meeting was adjourned till Thursday.

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In Pictures : Atiku Visits Imo and Enugu , Vows to Reposition Nigeria

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Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Wednesday said the desire to reposition Nigeria and move it forward was the greatest factor motivating him to keep seeking for the highest political office in country.

According to him, “patriotism is the key thing. It is the thing propelling my presidential ambition. I want to move Nigeria forward. Patriotism is needed to move Nigeria forward”.
He said he was in the South-East to consult with the leadership of PDP  ahead of the party’s presidential primary.

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2019 Elections: Buhari Fully Committed To Use Of PVC, Card Reader — Presidency

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The Presidency has condemned some newspaper reports insinuating that President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, because of his objections to the use of card readers in 2019 elections.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, described the allegation as “wild and baseless’’.
He said that the president did not raise any objections whatsoever to the use of card readers, contrary to the stories being maliciously peddled by sections of the media and on the Internet.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to incorrect and misleading reporting in several newspapers regarding the status of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
“The Presidency would like to set out the true status of the Bill.
“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was sent by the National Assembly to the Presidency at the end of June 2018, for assent.
“Following extensive consideration, the Presidency engaged with the National Assembly to raise concerns regarding errors and inconsistencies found in the submitted version. Following this, the National Assembly, on July 24, 2018, met to review and correct the Bill.
“The Bill was given on July 24, 2018, a “clause by clause consideration” by the Senate.
“The Votes and Proceedings from the Senate on July 24, 2018, attest to this.
“The Senate resolved to rescind its decision on a number of clauses included in the version they had earlier sent for consideration by the President and to reconsider these clauses.
“According to the Senate Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, July 24, 2018: “The Senate notes that in the course of final cleaning of the Bill as passed, some provisions were found to negate the essence of the amendment; [and] Resolves to: Rescind its decision on Clauses 3,5,8,11(2), 13(b), 14 (4), 15(3), 18,21,23,24,28,32 and 38 of the Bill as passed, and recommit same to Committee of the whole for reconsideration and passage.”
The presidential aide further explained that the re-considered Bill was passed by the Senate on July 24, the same day that plenary was adjourned to September 25.
He disclosed that the Revised Version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, with corrections by the National Assembly, and dated Aug. 2, was received by the Presidency on Aug. 3, 2018.
According to him, the President has 30 days from the date of receipt, to assent to or decline the Bill.
“The Bill is, therefore, still under consideration by the Presidency,’’ he added.
He condemned the insinuation that the President declined to assent to the Bill because of objections to the use of card readers, saying the allegations were wild and baseless. (NAN)

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Cardinal Francis Arinze as a brand of Anambra – By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

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Cardinal Arinze in Nkwelle-Ezunaka

The rebranding of Anambra State as being undertaken by Governor Willie Obiano has arguably the best vista in the personage of Francis Cardinal Arinze. Mr. C. Don Adinuba, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, recently had a rewarding meeting with Cardinal Arinze in Nkwelle-Ezunaka, Anambra State, and he did not mince words in stressing that the cardinal’s high ranking amongst Anambra’s, nay Nigeria’s greatest gifts to the world.

Religious leaders all over the world do not come any more charismatic than our very own Francis Cardinal Arinze. In virtually all the continents of the world, Cardinal Arinze’s name became a household noun based on his ground-breaking work as President of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican from 1985 to 2002. He thereafter served as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
It’s now a fulcrum of his storied life that he narrowly missed becoming the Pope after the death of Pope John-Paul II in 2005. Pope Benedict XVI who succeeded Pope John-Paul II appointed Arinze the Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni.
The ever feisty Cardinal Arinze, a native of Eziowelle town in Anambra State, is still full of life in his well-deserved retirement after his esteemed work at the Vatican. The values that Cardinal Arinze has espoused all through his years of service ought to stand his native state of Anambra in good state now that he is very much around.

Towards his last years in the Vatican, the Cardinal Arinze essence could be gleaned from his carriage at the presentation in the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Lagos of the book on him, Cardinal Francis Arinze: The Church Pathfinder of Dialogue and Communion written by Monsignor Dennis Isizoh.
Cardinal Arinze, being his usual humorous self, told the book presenters that he had no need for the money being donated because “the Pope gives me enough money for spaghetti!” He then capped his speech with the witticism that he did not want to sound like a speaker of whom the audience said: “He has finished but has not stopped!”

Cardinal Arinze

The guest speaker at the occasion, His Grace Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, delivered an impassioned expose on Christians/Muslims relations in Nigeria, given that Cardinal Arinze had played the pivotal role of getting late Pope John Paul II into a mosque as a part of worldwide religious dialogue.
Cardinal Arinze has literally moved mountains in striving to bring unity of purpose amongst the world’s religions made up of Christianity (33%), Islam (21%), Hinduism (14%), Buddhism (6%), Chinese traditional (6%), African traditional (6%), Sikhism (0.36%), Judaism (0.22%), and the Atheists (16%).
Dr ABC Orjiakor, who spoke on behalf of the Committee of Friends that put up the function, described Cardinal Arinze as “a profound prelate and apostle of the Christian faith, an ambassador of global peace, the world’s youngest Bishop in 1965, the first African Cardinal to head a Vatican Department, the people’s reverend, an accomplished clergy, a good shepherd…”

Professor Mike Kwanashie in his insightful review of Cardinal Francis Arinze: The Church Pathfinder of Dialogue and Communion pointed out the great irony that Nigeria is blessed with a man respected as one of the holiest of religious leaders all over the world even as the country wallows in sin and corruption.
A man of his words, Cardinal Arinze said: “There is no dogma that the organ or harmonium can be used in church, but not the drum.”

Cardinal Francis Arinze

On a personal note, I have known Arinze since my childhood days after the Biafra War at the compound of Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha where he then lived in the Principal’s house and I lived with my uncle JO Aginam in the tutors’ quarters. The Archbishop’s house at Holy Trinity Cathedral had been destroyed during the war, and Arinze had to make do with living in the CKC quarters. As children, we always walked about with Arinze during his evening strolls and he always told us funny stories laden with morality. It’s a major highlight of my days as an altar boy that I served as a torchbearer when the then Archbishop Arinze inaugurated Christ the King Parish, Onitsha.
Commissioner C. Don Adinuba, himself a devout Catholic, sees Cardinal Arinze as the living embodiment of the Anambra ideal as “Light of the Nation”.

It is indeed remarkable that Arinze was baptized on his ninth birthday on November 1, 1941, by the then Reverend Father Michael Iwene Tansi who would later be beatified by Pope John-Paul II in 1998. Both the saint-to-be and the onetime “papabile” (Pope-contender) happen to be icons of Anambra State.

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