Feb 15th, 2013 3:13 PM UTC
By Wangui Muchiri
Beautiful. Sophisticated. Elegant. Intelligent. Creative. Bold. But above all, humble.
I remember meeting Goldie for the first time right after the 2012 Big Brother Africa show had concluded. I had gone to drop both Prezzo and Goldie to meet Prezzo’s Mum’s at her flat in Sandton, Johannesburg, to say hello.
When Goldie met Prezzo’s mum, she moved from being a sophisticated posh girl, to her knees to show respect and acknowledge being in the presence of someone she highly regarded. While this is traditional in many African cultures, it is not common practice. We all fell in love with her immediately.
We met a few more times after that, in South Africa and the United States. I personally admired how Goldie had mastered the art of being a modern African woman. She was proudly Nigerian, no doubt, yet the pop culture world she had embraced, had done nothing to erode her African values.
Goldie had a naturally nurturing nature, and she took care of those she cared about without a second thought. After spending a few days with her, you could tell this was a God fearing, well bred girl, and her future had the sky as the limit.
Goldie’s unexpected death is shocking. Africa has been robbed of a lady full of passion and a relentless spirit to change her own world, and the world of those who live in it for the better.
Feb 8th, 2013 10:28 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
ONE member and musician D’banj is our guest blogger today, calling for you to be part of the You Choose campaign.
I’ve always been passionate about taking Africa’s music to the world. Now, more than ever, I also want to take Africa’s voices to the world.
My career has taken me to different parts of the world. I have seen the best and unfortunately, the worst of both worlds. One thing is for sure: like many Africans, nothing beats home. I am Nigerian born and Nigerian bred with no regrets. I am proudly African.
So, despite all the things that people say about my beloved motherland, I can testify that Africa is on the rise. With a continental income of USD 2 trillion, it’s on the verge of its much awaited economic and social transformation. Africa’s own rapidly growing and youthful population and its rising middle class are both pushing the boundaries of a rising continent. Today, Africa’s middle class is said to be bigger than India’s. The isolation of most Africans even in remote areas has been ended by the proliferation of mobile based services improving the quality of life.
However, Africa still faces challenges that include high deaths caused by treatable and preventable diseases such as TB, HIV AIDS and malaria. The population still faces chronic malnutrition, and the lack of quality schools and jobs. You and I need to tackle all of these things which are holding back the progress needed to break the cycle of poverty.
It’s time we as Africans from Dar to Banjul, from Harare to Mogadishu say NO to poverty. Africans must come together as ONE and take control of our own destiny.
All of us have a part to play in fighting preventable diseases, poverty and hunger on the continent. Our forefathers said “United we stand, divided we fall”. The end of poverty isn’t a pipe dream it’s well within reach. We are the generation to make it happen.
We’re listening. Tell us what needs to change to make a change for Africa.
D’banj is a founder of Koko Foundation for Youth and Peace Development. He is also Nigeria’s first United Nations Youth Ambassador for Peace.
Jan 4th, 2013 11:59 AM UTC
By Katherine Lay
The Secretariat of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) recently announced that it has recovered US$443 million of the $2.6 billion owed to the government as revenue by oil and gas companies.
Audits produced for the period 1999 to 2008 uncovered huge discrepancies in reported payments and receipts. This information spearheaded efforts by the NEITI Secretariat to recover revenue owed by companies to the government – funds that are critical for the country’s socio-economic development.
Nigeria’s leaders have long supported the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)’s transparency standards to promote open and efficient management of the extractive resources sector. Hailing the EITI as a vehicle for greater economic and political stability, former President Obasanjo signed up to the initiative in 2004. This provided a clear signal to investors and international finance institutions that the government is committed to more transparent governance.
The country’s current Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala affirmed that compliance with the EITI lifted Nigeria’s profile in the eyes of investors, and that its improved credit rating led to sizeable increases in foreign direct investment. Recognizing that transparency is beneficial for business in the extractive industries, where investments are capital intensive and dependent on long-term stability to generate returns, Minister Okonjo-Iweala noted that the EITI has helped to mitigate political and reputational risks for companies operating in Nigeria and has generated information necessary for accurate revenue collection by government.
As the first African country to make reporting of payments and receipts legally binding through the NEITI Act, Nigeria has set the “gold standard” for audits under EITI regulations. Its reports investigate the conduct of government and extractive industry practices in greater depth than any other EITI member country has attempted. These audits have assisted efforts to overcome the country’s institutionalized corruption. Before joining the EITI, Nigeria ranked at the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Every year from 1999 to 2004 – when Nigeria joined EITI – the country ranked last or second-to-last globally. By 2010, the CPI ranked Nigeria 134th out of 178 countries.
However, if the NEITI objectives are to translate into visible improvements in the lives of Nigerian citizens, government agencies must make concerted efforts to recover revenue, and to allocate it to areas that need it most. The NEITI Secretariat’s announcement of recovered funds indicates positive commitment to the first part of this process. The amounts are significant: $81 million for the audit period 1999 to 2004, $91 million for 2005, and $208 million for 2006 to 2008. They now need to be allocated efficiently.
In a country that has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and where 52, 000 women die in childbirth each year owing to the absence of healthcare facilities, the recovered amount could fund the construction of 20 new health centers in each of Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas. It can provide insecticide-treated bed-nets to 44 300 000 more people, thereby helping to control Nigeria’s malaria pandemic. It can reduce the 42% youth unemployment rate by extending youth employment and social support operations to all states. And it can salvage roads that form key trade networks across the country, including the East-West Road and the Benin-Ore-Sagamu Highway, which are currently death traps.
In its vigilant monitoring of extractive revenue flows, Nigerian civil society has played its part in demanding this recovery of funds. NGOs represented in the NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group have proactively used the NEITI Act and the Freedom of Information Act to encourage more companies and government agencies to disclose information to NEITI auditors. The NEITI process has empowered civil society to ask informed questions and to hold the government to account for the extractives revenue that it manages on behalf of citizens.
Dec 3rd, 2012 6:55 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Our next finalist for the 2012 ONE Africa Award is the dynamic organization Friends of the Global Fund Africa, or better known as Friends Africa. I visited Friends Africa in Lagos last month to hear their incredible story.
After serving as a technical advisor on Global Fund-financed projects in Nigeria for three years in the early 2000s, Dr. Akudo Ikemba realized that more needed to be done in order to ensure the effectiveness of Global Fund monies on the ground. She also saw an untapped need to raise awareness and support for the Global Fund amongst African citizens. When she saw some of the work being done by Friends of the Fight (USA) and Amis du Fonds Mondial and other Global Fund partners, she realized that Africa needed its own “Friends” that could bring governments, business leaders and citizens together to build support for the Global Fund and further its work by raising funds and commitments from African political and corporate leaders. At about the same time, the Global Fund invited Dr. Ikemba to discuss the formation of a partner organization for Africa and a few months later, Friends Africa officially opened its door in Lagos.
Since 2006, Friends Africa has been at the forefront of building and demonstrating African support for the Global Fund. It has raised commitments of $31 million through its Africa Champions from Health campaign, which enlists former heads of states and political leaders to call on African governments to support the the fund’s work. Through its Gift from Africa program, it has secured an additional $5 million from the private and corporate sectors for the Global Fund since 2010.
How does it do this? By strategically using former African heads of state, titans of business, and artists to engage governments and leading enterprises to obtain commitments for the Global Fund. As the developed world faces budget and fiscal crises, it is increasingly important for the developing world to not only support the work of institutions like the Global Fund, but also contribute to its functioning and financing. Friends Africa is doing just this.
Raising the funds and financing for an institution like the Global Fund, though, is just one side of the coin that is Friends Africa. In addition to its high level advocacy, Friends Africa is changing the face of the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis every day. They have extensive programs that are building capacity at local, national and regional levels to engage in advocacy and direct services in their communities. Moreover, Friends Africa is also leading the charge in engaging small to medium enterprises – not just corporate giants – on the policies they have in place for their employees facing these diseases. Friends Africa is truly leading an African response to an African problem, taking the fight to the board rooms and the store rooms of African businesses. To truly turn the tide against these killer diseases, Friends Africa has gone where many have yet to tread—to the enterprising leaders and employers of a bulk of Africa’s hardworking citizens. Friends Africa is not only funding the fight, but also changing the face of these diseases to reduce stigmatization and stereotypes.
And while high-level and grassroots advocacy is a big part of Friends Africa’s work, Friends also produces reports that policy makers and citizens can use around the continent. They are impacting the debates without necessarily being in the room, and leveraging a network of consultants to provide technical assistance to governments seeking funding for reproductive health and HIV projects. As one can see, Friends Africa not only advocates at all levels, but also provides its own substantive contribution to the ongoing struggle against these diseases.
Feb 23rd, 2012 12:00 PM UTC
This article originally appeared on the All Africa website
Africa Director, ONE.org, Dr. Sipho Moyo, has said that even though there is no longer famine in South Somalia, millions of people in Africa were still at risk.
Reacting to the United Nations (UN) announcement that “Famine outcomes no longer existed in Southern Somalia”, she said, ” these eight words are not yet a cause for celebration as conditions were still extremely fragile and without concrete action, famine could once again return.
In a statement signed by the director and made available to LEADERSHIP she stated that,” I’ve been shocked by the recent images of suffering that we have seen from Somalia. In just 3 months 30,000 children have died. This figure is so large it’s hard to comprehend, let alone think about how behind this number are countless stories of human tragedy”.
According to Sipho investing in agriculture was one of the best ways to reduce extreme poverty. With access to suitable seeds, technologies, and improved connections to markets, small-holder farmers can generate more income, send their children to school, help to keep food prices affordable and contribute to lifting their communities out of poverty for the long-term.
In a petition to African leaders to make this the last famine , ONE requested that African leaders should support the delivery of promised emergency aid, increase effort on peace and security, and keep the long-term promise toward spending 10% of national budgets on agriculture and food security.
The petition asserted that if previous promises had been kept we could have avoided much of the terrible human cost of the last few months. “Governments must now make good on their commitments”, she said.
Jul 22nd, 2011 10:51 AM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
There is a good reason for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Nigeria this week. Many smart people are betting on our new government to kick-start an era of success – marked by economic growth, improved governance and poverty reduction. The opportunities in Nigeria are further highlighted by the large number of companies that will be represented in the delegation.
Potential investment partnerships are very welcome – but it should be of a different nature to that which has gone before. Too often foreign investment in Nigeria has crowded in on natural resources, a tactic which has yielded strong economic growth but has not filtered down to the vast majority of Nigerians. Nigeria offers opportunities beyond oil and we are ready for sincere partnerships that offer mutual benefit in a manner that allows our country to prosper.
A more inclusive economic growth which gives ordinary Nigerians job opportunities and spreads wealth more evenly should be a key priority of our government. Cameron’s visit presents a golden opportunity to articulate this renewed focus and begin the process of reaching this goal.
Transparency and accountability will also be key themes of the visit. The North African revolutions have emboldened citizens across the continent to be more vocal in their demands for a results focused and responsive government, focused on citizens not just the elites. The Nigerian government can respond to this by building a social compact that fosters a two-way relationship between citizen and state. There should be an expectation that the government vastly improves their service delivery obligations, and in turn citizens pay their taxes with the confidence of the knowledge the money will not be wasted.
Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who visited last week, can be allies of this accountability process, with actions as well as words. My fellow Nigerians, we must ask these foreign leaders where they stand on several issues that complement our demands from our own government. For example there is a proposed European law to force all oil, gas and mining companies to publish their payments to the governments of the countries where they operate. This will empower people with critical information and help ensure that as we demand transparency from our own government, those that invest in Nigeria are operating along similar standards. Responsible companies have nothing to hide by shining a light on their books. Stakeholder groups such as the Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) strongly support the idea, saying that transparency in extractives can create the right incentives for people-centred investment in the Niger Delta and give their members the tools they need to fight corruption. The World Bank estimated in 2009 that corruption has cost Nigeria $300 billion – transparency can be the first step towards ending that scandal.
Foreign investment in a broader range of sectors will not happen, however, without the necessary improvements in our infrastructure that can facilitate the process. This is where smartly spent aid can be targeted to in a way that seeks to put itself out of business in the long-term. By focusing on economic transformation German and British assistance can play a role in helping Nigeria transition to middle-income status. It is also essential that their assistance is deployed in a way which promotes transparency and accountable governance – in partnership with the new administration of the Goodluck Jonathan government.
Of course to take best advantage of new investment streams Nigeria needs a healthy and productive workforce. That is not compatible with continuing polio cases, only 21% of children being fully vaccinated, and 3.5 million HIV positive people. In these areas smart aid spent through mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has over $800 million in approved funding for Nigeria, should be encouraged. The Global Fund are already supporting 340,000 people with antiretroviral therapy and have distributed 19 million bed nets. Leaders like Cameron and Merkel are under pressure at home to cut their aid budgets as European economies stutter, but by holding the line on these smart investments in social sectors, that will ensure a that our country is prepared to be a viable investment destination, and that millions of Nigerians who are most in need get some extra help. They deserve credit for that.
In short, these visits need to be about partnership and mutual accountability. The Nigerian government needs to show it is up to the challenge of spending resources wisely wherever they come from. Infrastructure, especially power, health and education facilities, and agricultural reforms are urgently needed. Germany and the UK need to show they are willing to force oil companies to be more transparent in their operations and promote investment in a wide range of sectors to help ordinary Nigerians get jobs. It is up to all of us Nigerian citizens to make sure that this happens.
May 24th, 2011 6:39 PM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
This post was first published on 23 May on the Mail and Guardian’s Thought Leaders blog
I woke up to horrible news this morning and I’m angry. John has worked for my family for years. I’ve known him since I was a little girl when he used to take me to school every morning. This is an African story. The one big happy extended family that blends employees with relatives, where birthdays and holidays are celebrated together.
This morning John’s wife died during childbirth. Now she’s just another statistic you hear from Nigeria, a country that produces two million barrels of oil a day but where one in 18 women, or 144 women a day, die during childbirth because there aren’t enough doctors, nurses or equipped hospitals. What number is John’s wife in that list of 144?
My family has an electricity generator that provides us with light when there’s no power from the national authority (this is most days). We drilled down miles to create our own water borehole to provide us with consistent water because the water authority has not provided water in years. My sister and my brothers’ wives all fly to the UK or US when they are about two to three months away from giving birth so they can be attended to by capable medical staff, in an environment that almost guarantees the safety of mothers and their babies.
Nigeria is unlikely to experience the birth that comes after the rage against injustice, similar to what is being experienced by our brothers and sisters up north. We too have bottled up our frustrations for decades. Our survival instincts have made us self-centred and led to apathy in our expectations from governments and institutions. We have created our own little havens of sanity, insulated ourselves from this harsh world and the failures of our government. Meanwhile corruption continues to thrive, health systems have collapsed and education decays. It’s in this decay that we find the minds of most of our population. Where no-one demands services any more because they don’t know that they can. Without education how can my people know to demand electricity, health, water or roads. My people are more likely to believe a hex was put on John’s wife by an evil neighbour than blame the government for this tragedy. Churches have replaced community centres and with limited access to the internet, organising capacity is extremely low. So, a North African style revolution is not coming to Nigeria. That’s not our story.
Instead, our story will resemble a quieter change that will only come about when we start thinking beyond ourselves. When we recognise that these walls we cocoon ourselves in are actually made of glass, and when those that can, start doing more for communities, our extended family, for John. Solutions for countries like Nigeria lie in our hands. And this story doesn’t have to be about building another hospital or other such daunting projects that you and I are unlikely to take on. It can just be about distributing mosquito nets to pregnant women in your community to tackle malaria, Africa’s biggest killer. Or it could be exercising the strength of your voice by advocating for women to take advantage of prenatal care in their communities. Our quiet revolution will only follow the demand for and real address of the poverty that has chained people’s minds. Our quiet revolution will mean rejecting corruption in all forms because we cannot fight poverty if we are corrupt ourselves. If we stay silent we are just as complicit.
We have all heard this story.
I am angry and I refuse to be silent. Can you really stay silent? It’s a long road to change but we must begin the journey to create our new African story.
Apr 5th, 2011 1:10 PM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
The Nigerian elections were scheduled to commence on Saturday, April 2nd with the parliamentary elections preceding the April 9th presidential elections and the April 16th gubernatorial elections.
The elections started hours late and after millions of people successfully cast their votes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a directive to all wards to stop voting. The official reason stated for postponing the elections was said to be a delay in getting the ballot papers to all the wards, especially in remote areas of the country, because of their late arrival into the country.
Saturday April 4th (along with the next few Saturdays) had been declared curfew days in order to try to maintain security and curtail electoral fraud; in the past, ballot boxes have mysteriously disappeared from polling stations. With fewer cars on the road, INEC felt they would have more control of the voting outcomes. This also brought the country to a standstill over the weekend as most people were confined to their homes and walked to their nearest voting wards.
The initial directive stated that the new dates for parliamentary elections would be April 4th, but late on April 3rd, news started filtering in announcing that the election schedule had been re-calibrated and would instead commence on April 9th (parliament), April 16th (presidential) and April 26th (gubernatorial). Some of the questions that trail this disastrous start to the elections is what is to become of the voting papers that registered the votes of millions of people on Saturday April 2nd? Can INEC ensure that this papers will not be used by any party to manipulate voting outcomes when they do in fact begin?
The Head of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, came into the job with an impeccable reputation and most feel he will do his best to implement credible elections. This remains to be seen as the next few weeks will reveal more.
These elections have started out peaceful but rocky. Despite outbreaks of violence in a few wards, in most areas, voting was orderly and surprisingly calm despite the long lines and the delays while people waited for voting to commence. As long as there are no indications of manipulation favoring one party over another, it is in fact possible that these elections will be successful and free of violence.
Nov 17th, 2010 7:17 PM UTC
By Osahon Akpata
Finally, Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has decided to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund, safeguarding some of its riches for future generations. Since the discovery of large petroleum deposits in the late 1950s, there have been several attempts to put aside some of the unexpected bounty that comes from rising oil prices. The most recent version of these initiatives was the aptly named the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
At the end of 2007, there was $20 billion in the ECA, but sadly it has dwindled down to barely $400 million in recent months. The depletion was due to state governments claiming their share of the account in order to stabilize their local economies, which were affected by the financial crisis. There was no constitutional barrier to prevent the raiding of the account.
Nigeria’s new Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, announced in September, 2010 that a Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund draft bill has been submitted to the National Assembly. The fund has already been seeded with $1 billion of capital. This is very good news for the future generations of Nigeria since little of the $1.6 trillion the country has earned from petroleum resources has been conserved. It is important that the bill be passed because this will give the fund the necessary legitimacy to protect its assets from getting into the wrong hands and from the vagaries of changing regimes.
Osahon Akpata was born and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. After completing his undergraduate degree in Accounting & Finance in England, he moved to the US where he has had an extensive career in finance and marketing. He has written articles for NEXT newspaper, Black Star News, Saharareporters.com and the African Sun Times. Osahon is currently enrolled for an MBA at Columbia University in New York City. He is working on a project evaluating Nigeria’s proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund as part of his coursework.
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