Treat Israel Like Iran

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Read Time:4 Minute, 30 Second
Israel’s deadly response to the Gaza-bound flotilla showed how differently the U.S. treats Israel and Iran. Stephen Kinzer argues it’s time to treat them in the same way.

Quick, name the rogue state in the Middle East. Hints: It has an active nuclear-weapons program but conducts it in secret; its security organs regularly kill perceived enemies of the state, both at home and abroad; its political process has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists who believe they are doing God’s will; its violent recklessness destabilizes the world’s most volatile region; and it seems as deaf to reason as it is impervious to pressure. Also: Its name begins with “I”.Instead of treating Israel and Iran so differently, the West might try placing them in the same policy basket, and seeking equivalent concessions from both.

How you answer this riddle depends in part on where you sit. From an American perspective, the obvious answer is Iran. Iran seems alone and friendless, a pariah in the world, and deservedly so given its long list of sins. In Washington’s view, Iran poses one of the major threats to global security.

Many people in the world, however, see Iran quite differently: as just another struggling country with valuable resources, no more or less threatening than any other, ruled by a regime that, while thuggish, wins grudging admiration for standing up to powerful bullies. They are angrier at Israel, which they see as violent, repressive and contemptuous of international law, but nonetheless endlessly coddled by the United States.

The way American diplomats have spent the last few days shows how differently the U.S. treats Israel and Iran. After Monday’s deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla of ships bringing relief aid to Gaza, a U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, flew to Tel Aviv and then traveled to Ramallah. He urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to salvage whatever possible from the debacle and look for common ground, even though prospects for peace are remote.

American diplomats at the United Nations, meanwhile, are working intensely to win support for punishing new sanctions on Iran. Their message about Iran is the precise opposite of the one Mitchell is preaching to Israelis and Palestinians: Negotiations are hopeless, oppressive regimes understand only force, and all compromise equals appeasement.

It is always difficult to compare the danger one country poses to global security with that posed by another, and it is natural to treat old friends differently from longtime enemies. Israel is a far more open and free society than Iran. Millions of Americans feel personally tied to its fate. Nonetheless the contrast in American attitudes toward the two countries is striking. Toward Israel the attitude is: You may be rascals sometimes, but whatever pranks you pull, you’re our friend and we’ll forgive you. Toward Iran, it’s the opposite: You are our implacable enemy, so nothing you do short of abject surrender will satisfy us.

This dichotomy is now on especially vivid display. Israel’s raid on the Gaza flotilla, like the Gaza occupation itself, has evoked only mild clucks of disapproval in Washington. But when Turkey and Brazil worked out the framework of a possible nuclear compromise with Iran a couple of weeks ago, American officials angrily rejected it.

Instead of treating Israel and Iran so differently, the West might try placing them in the same policy basket, and seeking equivalent concessions from both.

It is easy to denounce Israel and Iran as disturbers of whatever peace exists in the Middle East, and to lament that the region will be in turmoil as long as they keep behaving as they do. More important is the fact that both countries are powerful, and can upset any accord to which they are not a party. Punishing, sanctioning, and isolating them would be emotionally satisfying, but it is not likely to help calm the region.

Instead of pushing Israel and Iran into corners, making them feel besieged and friendless, the world should realize that without both of them, there will be no peace in the Middle East. This requires a new, more creative approach to the challenge of protecting Israel over the long term. It also requires a willingness to engage Iran. As Lyndon Johnson famously reasoned when he reappointed J. Edgar Hoover to head the FBI, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”

Treating Israel and Iran more equally would also mean judging their nuclear programs by equivalent standards. If Israel and Iran are placed under the same set of rigorous nuclear safeguards, the Middle East will quickly become a safer place.

In the same spirit of equality, the world should do whatever possible to encourage higher human-rights standards in Israel and Iran. Ruling groups in both countries treat some honest critics as traitors or terrorists. They rule without the tolerance that illuminates Jewish and Persian history.

Israel and Iran have come to pose parallel challenges. They are the region’s outcasts—yet the region will never stabilize until they are brought back out of the geopolitical cold. Rather than stoke their escalating hostility, the U.S. should work to reduce tensions between them. Holding them to the same standards would be a start.

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent. His next book, Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future, will be published in June.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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The Unspoken Alliance, about a secret deal between Israel and white South Africans

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Read Time:7 Minute, 6 Second
The new book The Unspoken Alliance, about a secret deal between Israel and South Africa, has created controversy around the world but has largely been ignored by the U.S. media. Stephen Kinzer on the book’s explosive claims.

The Unspoken Alliance is a provocative book. It has ignited a firestorm in the British press and sparked angry reactions in Israel. Yet the book, which traces Israel’s close and largely secret relationship with apartheid South Africa, has drawn relatively little notice in the U.S. Only a few media outlets have focused on its revelations.

The most intriguing of Israel’s far-flung security partnerships was its long and close relationship with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

At the heart of this book is a richly detailed account of how Israel and South Africa cooperated as they worked to develop nuclear weapons in the 1960s and ’70s. It is especially relevant today, as nuclear rivalries escalate in the Middle East, because it explains—calmly, methodically, and with full documentation—how Israel and South Africa helped each other build atomic bombs in secret.

 The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. By Sasha Polakow-Suransky. 336 pages. Pantheon. $27.95. According to President Shimon Peres, however, the book slanders Israel. Peres took special umbrage at author Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s assertion that when Peres was defense minister in 1975, he was involved in offering to sell South Africa advanced Jericho missiles, which could be equipped to carry nuclear warheads. In a letter to The Guardian, which reported the allegation, Peres said it had “no basis in reality” and was the result of “selective interpretation of South African documents.” Replying in Haaretz soon afterward, Polakow-Suransky called Peres’ letter evasive.

“The 1975 deal was never consummated,” he wrote, “but there is no doubt Peres took part in the discussions and that the South Africans perceived Israel’s proposal as a nuclear offer.”

Israel has been an exporter of military power for most of its existence. During the Cold War, usually acting with at least tacit approval from Washington, Israel served as unofficial quartermaster to pro-Western regimes around the world. Arms exports became a foundation of the Israeli economy and helped the country win a remarkable array of friends.

During the 1980s, Israel was the chief supplier to the Guatemalan army, trained anti-terror squads in Honduras, and sent hundreds of tons of weaponry to the Nicaraguan Contras. Israelis established private security forces in Colombia that ranchers used to protect themselves and dispatch their enemies, and did the same in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos era. Dictators from Chile to Indonesia equipped their armies with Israeli-made Galil assault rifles and Uzi submachine guns. Israeli advisers trained anti-Marxist rebels in Angola and Libyans fighting Muammar Qaddaffi’s regime.

The most intriguing of Israel’s far-flung security partnerships was its long and close relationship with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The book opens with what was surely the most jarring public moment in the history of this odd relationship. In 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa, who the British had jailed during World War II for his pro-Nazi activities, was given a red-carpet welcome in Israel, laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and heard Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin praise him at a state banquet for creating a “prosperous atmosphere of cooperation” between their two countries.

Israelis were conflicted about their relationship with the Pretoria regime. Early leaders, notably David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, were outspoken critics of apartheid. Gradually, however, as the center of gravity in Israeli politics shifted, Israeli leaders came to see South Africa as a kindred state, besieged by an angry ethnic enemy and unfairly stigmatized by a hypocritical world. Blacks in South Africa “want to gain control over the white minority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us,” reasoned one Israeli chief of staff, General Raful Eitan. “And we, like the white minority in South Africa, must act to prevent them from taking over.”

According to The Unspoken Alliance, the Israel-South Africa relationship began to blossom in the 1960s and became rich and multi-layered during the 1970s. Israelis trained South Africa’s elite military units, sold tanks and aviation technology to its army, and licensed the production of Galil rifles at a factory in South Africa. What made this relationship unique, though, was that both countries were pursuing nuclear weapons.

They made a simple deal: raw materials for technology. South Africa mined uranium, and sent 500 tons of yellowcake to Israel from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. In return, Israel shared its ballistic-missile technology and sent South Africa 30 grams of tritium, which Polakow-Suransky describes as “a radioactive substance that thermonuclear weapons require to increase their explosive power. Thirty grams was enough to boost the yield of several atomic bombs.”

With each other’s help, Israel and South Africa succeeded in producing nuclear weapons. The United States was not a party to their conspiracy, and in fact sought at several points to monitor and restrict it. American nonproliferation efforts, however, were not vigorous enough to penetrate an operation that both sides worked assiduously to hide. “Secrecy about the extent of their ties was paramount,” Polakow-Suransky writes. “Disguise and denial became the norm.”

This account of the two countries’ parallel nuclear programs has attracted considerable attention for The Unspoken Alliance in the Israeli press. The author has been widely quoted there, and has made the rounds of public-affairs interview appearances in Washington, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Curiously, though, no bookstore or local media outlet in New York, where he lives, has yet given him a forum.

Israel remains a nuclear power, albeit undeclared, and since details of its programs are secret, it is naturally eager to keep them hidden. South Africa dismantled its arsenal in the early 1990s. Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk’s announcement in 1993 that the job had been completed was the first official confirmation that South Africa had in fact possessed nuclear weapons. It constituted what Polakow-Suransky calls “the world’s first case of voluntary disarmament.” The motivation was compelling: De Klerk and his white caste were not about to bequeath a nuclear arsenal to the African National Congress.

During the 1960s, Israel courted African governments, but its cooperation with apartheid South Africa ultimately poisoned many of those relationships. “The people of South Africa will never forget the support of the state of Israel to the apartheid regime,” Nelson Mandela said soon after being released from prison. And Polakow-Suransky reminds us that in 1981, the 19-year-old Barack Obama centered his first public speech on a demand that his school, Occidental College, divest from South Africa.

Polakow-Suransky concludes his book with two maps, one showing the isolated South African “homelands” into which the apartheid regime herded many blacks, and the other showing Israeli settlements on the West Bank. He quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as warning that his country could one day “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

In an interview, Polakow-Suransky said the clandestine cooperation that propelled Israel and South Africa into the nuclear club is an instructive model for today’s proliferators. “Aspiring nuclear powers like Iran probably study the South African case from the ’70s very closely, and also Israel’s case from the ’60s, in terms of deceptively developing a nuclear capacity,” he said. “Both are models of covert development with denialist rhetoric on the surface. Both countries faced the threat of sanctions, yet both managed to complete their programs.”

Can sanctions slow a country’s drive for nuclear weapons? Only at early stages of the program, Polakow-Suransky said. “In the South African case, all of the pressure and total isolation of the late 1970s pushed them further toward full proliferation,” he asserted. “Any aspiring nuclear power close to the finish line will do anything necessary to get across. Israel did that, and so did South Africa. Whether Iran gets there or not, it’s probably trying to do that now.”

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent. His new book is Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Should Nigeria Have a Lavish 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration?

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Read Time:7 Minute, 4 Second
The news is almost stale that the Federal Government has budgeted a whopping N10 billion for the celebration of Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary come October 1st 2010. Some Nigerians feel there is every reason and need for us to throw a lavish party to mark this event. They argue that “it is a big achievement for Nigeria to clock 50 years as a politically independent nation”. Interesting! This reminds me of an amusing incident which occurred during my secondary school days. A classmate of mine wrote only his name, date and subject title as his answer to an assignment on Literature in English. When the teacher queried him, he answered thus: “Madam that is an achievement”.

Conversely, many Nigerians regard the amount budgeted for the celebration as outrageous, unnecessary and a misplacement of priority. They feel we do not have any good reason to roll-out the drums. Their opinion is that our current and past rulers should rather mark the anniversary by soul-searching and self-assessment, mindful of our dismal performance over the years as a nation. They argue, and very rightly so, that the N10 billion naira will serve a worthy purpose if judiciously and conscientiously deployed to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructures which are starkly lacking in the country. I pitch my tent with this group.

Every past Nigerian ruler claims to have performed excellently well during his regime, yet we are still in the doldrums. Contrariwise, successive administrations always blame previous ones for our woes, yet no past Nigerian ruler has been convicted and jailed for mal-administration. Rather, these past rulers continue to dictate the fate of Nigeria and the pace, shape of her politics. Is this part of our reasons for having a lavish 50th independence anniversary?

Should we celebrate the fact that Nigerians have over the years received epileptic electricity supply despite the many hydro-electric power dams, gas turbines and power stations in the country and billions of naira spent in the sector? Is it justifiable that Nigeria supplies steady and reliable electricity to neighbouring countries while its citizens enjoy blackouts always? Is Nigeria’s status as the world’s largest importer of generators a thing of pride? Are we happy that many companies hitherto located in Nigeria (and even Nigerian businessmen) have relocated to Ghana and other neighbouring countries which boast of steady electricity? Is it fair that Nigerians pay through their noses for electricity that is never supplied or consumed? In the face of these, how do we justify the planned hike in electricity tariff? Now, the same lame arguments for the hike in the prices of petroleum products are being used for the planned hike in electricity tariff. So, as with petroleum products, poor Nigerians must pay exorbitantly for items with which God has bountifully blessed our country?

Are we happy that potholes and gullies litter all the roads in Nigeria, continuously resulting in daily loss of uncountable human lives and damage to vehicles? What happened to the billions budgeted or realized through tollgates which were not applied towards the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of our roads? What of contractors who, though substantially or fully mobilized, abandon the road construction jobs and go away scot-free? Should we celebrate these or the planned re-introduction of tollgates in spite of our ugly experience or that new and reconstructed roads in our country have a lifespan of just few months?

Perhaps, we may brandish our collapsed educational system as part of our numerous “achievements” as a nation. Pray, are the brain drain in our academic sector; the recurring examination malpractices; the yearly churning out of half-baked graduates; the irrepressible monster of cultism; the use of nepotism, ethnicity and religion in the appointment of administrators, recruitment of lecturers and admission of students in tertiary institutions; the politicisation of boards of tertiary institutions; the commercialization of academic certificates; and government’s apparent abandonment of public primary, secondary and tertiary schools worth celebrating? How do we see the touted planned privatisation of public schools? Is it worth celebrating that countries with less than 10% of Nigeria’s gross national product provide free education for their citizens up to university level, while “government alone cannot fund education” in Nigeria? Do we also celebrate the shame that Nigerians now seek quality education in Ghana, Cameroun and other African countries?

Should we beat our chests over the recurring decimals of unresolved assassinations, armed robberies, kidnappings, ritual killings, electoral malpractices and violence, menace of fake drugs and adulterated products, politically-motivated sectarian crises and the ever rising unemployment level? Do we celebrate our successive governments’ apparent helplessness in the face of all these? Yearly, governments at all levels in Nigeria allocate huge sums of money for capital projects which end up in private pockets, leaving the targeted projects unexecuted. Are we to showcase the many communities ravaged by gully erosion over the years, apparently abandoned to their fate?

Are we ecstatic that the quickest route to stupendous wealth in Nigeria is by getting “elected” or appointed into political posts? Do we rejoice that since 1999, almost all the state governors, legislators (Federal and State) and Local Governments’ Chairmen have been taking the electorate for a ride, channelling public funds into their private pockets? Does the fact that many of them see their positions as opportunities for self-service and enrichment thrill us? Should we dance that our legislators, most of whom do absolutely nothing, periodically approve huge emoluments for themselves while denying same to civil servants?

Are we elated that we lack functional and equipped public hospitals in Nigeria? How do we rejoice that insecticide-treated mosquito nets – supplied by the World Health Organisation – do not get to the targeted poor Nigerians but are sold in open markets at exorbitant prices? What do we say about agricultural inputs – fertilizers, insecticides, etc – subsidized by the government for use by farmers, never get to them but find their way to the open markets? Is it hilarious that the daily refrain in Nigeria is government’s plan to abandon the provision of social amenities – schools, hospitals, housing, pipe-borne water, electricity, motorable roads (for which we pay taxes) – to the faceless and amorphous private sector and investors?

So, we want to imitate Ghana and India which, at different times, celebrated their 50th independence anniversaries? Comparatively, in what sphere can Nigeria hold candle to any of these countries? Sometime ago, Ghana celebrated 10 years of having had uninterrupted electricity supply! Let us also imitate this. Despite its enormous size and population, India has functional and well-equipped schools, hospitals, potable water, dependable electricity supply, good roads and a people-oriented government. Its government has reduced maternal and child mortality by offering financial incentives to pregnant rural women to have their childbirth in hospitals. Can’t we have such in Nigeria? Can we bask in euphoria regardless of our rating as one of the most corrupt countries in the world?

The litany of things which yawn for urgent attention in Nigeria is very long. Public office-holders spend so much public funds and time to theorize on “how to move Nigeria forward”, but in fact work against that end, because they are not committed to same. Frankly speaking, Nigeria is lagging far behind, and has a lot of catching up to do. There is so much work for us to do. Let the government work sincerely towards closing the gap between Nigeria and her peers between now and 2020, and then we may celebrate our 60th independence anniversary.

President Goodluck Jonathan is renowned for his humility and indisposition towards ostentation. He should discountenance the urgings from selfish advisers, politicians and unpatriotic Nigerians who desire to milk the country through a flamboyant 50th independence anniversary celebration. The fact that the project was initiated by late President Yar’adua does not make it binding on him. Experience has shown that whenever Nigeria organizes any money-gulping ceremony, some persons utilize the opportunity to rake in millions of public funds into their private pockets. This was so with COJA, CHOGM and all the FIFA games held here. The N10 billion should be channelled towards providing social amenities what will better the lot of hapless, poor Nigerians.

Ikechukwu A. Ogu, a legal practitioner, writes from Central Business District Abuja. Email: ikechukwuogu@yahoo.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Is Nasir El-Rufai Fighting For A Political Relevance?

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Read Time:6 Minute, 51 Second

Nasir El-Rufai. Two things come to mind. One, a man who is disliked by so many Nigerians.  And two, a man who is fighting for a political relevance.  If El-Rufai is a Religion, I do not belong to his faith-circle. I do not want to sound either like an El-Rufai apologetics. I do not set out to write about  him for any gainful reasons. I have no commitments, whatsoever, to his political dreams or ambitions. I write from a pure observational purview. But one thing I cannot deny is this, he is pragmatic.  With his usual tick ring of classes circling his eyes, he speaks softly and slowly like a man whose mouth is lacking in moisture. Obviously, his physiological appearance portrays a man with a fragile frame, a frailty coming not from any physical infirmity nor advancement in age but from  his nature-given thinness of bodily characteristics.  But within this  nature of his, El-Rufai radiates a formidable charisma of optimism and leadership

The reason why so many elements in Nigeria sustain a high voltage  of resentment and crude antagonism against him baffles my mind particularly. To my political awareness, El-Fufai is among the reformers that Nigeria has been craving for since independence. He is surgical, fearless, focused and very revolutionary in administration. Only these kinds of folks can transform Nigeria. Who actually can talk about the face of the New Abuja without talking about the revolutionary leadership of El-Rufai. Before him, the Federal Capital Territory was a mess. Military dictatorship and civil corruption had turned the master plan of the city like any other city in Nigeria–unorganized, unplanned, rowdy, spontaneous, unkempt, careless, neglected, dirty and disgraceful. It was this man’s dreams and commitment that rebuild Abuja to what it is today. Perhaps, FCT would have remained the way it was had El-Rufai not appointed minister.

It was a paralyzing shock to so many individuals and families in Nigeria. The demolition (of illegal structures) that went on under El-Rufai made national headlines. And for me, this is one of the channels thought which mass resentment welled-up tremendously against him. Lots of hardworking Nigerian lost everything they have labored hard to achieve–homes, offices, businesses and landed properties. Many left Abuja during the period and went back to the village unemployed and disenfranchised. Who would loose all these and not complain? I would too. But the fact remains that it was a necessary evil that needed to happen before FCT could be clean and dissent.

I cringe when I look at cities in Nigeria. How did we come all these way only to realize we have been on a wrong route? How did we come to building cities, erecting gigantic infrastructures that are out of order with the true master plans of national development? Cities like Onitsha, Aba, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt, and so many others, that boom with excessively high population density, but with little or no government infrastructural plan in place to sustance the population surge are time bombs waiting to explode. The brilliant governor of Lagos state is already taking up heat for demolishing illegal structures to create a sanitary city worthy of the 21st century.

Nigeria would eventually get out of its present political, social and economic quagmire and development would start happening. And a time would surely come when the greater percentage of all these illegal structure would need to go. People would cry, threat, hate, complain and most of all loose millions of naira on the process. These are the pains that go before healings. And they are surely necessary to occur.

I do sympathize with the new generation of Nigeria reformists. Folk like Nuhu Ribadu, life is by no means easy. Accusation after accusation were pilled up against him. He once stated thus: “when you fight corruption, it fights back”. This is a simple fact. These energetic reformers expose themselves and their families to all kinds of threats. But these are the only hope for the new Nigeria. There can never be true transformation in Nigeria without certain courageous folk standing up to the challenges. Nigeria is a gigantic nation that is very dysfunctional from within. A country where tax system does not work. Property development is not strictly regulated by the government. Majority of the businesses are unregulated. Government bureaucracy is to porous to detect and punish crimes. The institution of the police force is so corrupt the people do not trust it. No developmental machinery works. And ordinary people on the street do not care. They are content living the way they do because that is the only life they know. Any person with a reformist agenda is not only derided from the top but also from ‘the people’ themselves. That is why change is hard in Nigeria.

Does the Nigeria people actually understand that the like of El-Rufai is not the enemy but rather he is a man with a transformative agenda.  And this is what he did: he ‘disturbs’ the present in order to change the future. Nigerians say they want change, but how many want the present to be DISTURBED? That is the real question. If the Nigerian government today enact a Total Land Reformation Act as a way of fostering socio-economic and infrastructural development, how many Nigeria are ready to fight against such reforms. These are what obtains in developed nations. Government bureaucracy injects orderliness and moderation though regulatory laws, policies and programs. And those who are appointed to bring such implementation to life should not be hunted down with vindictive and bogus accusations.

I believe sincerely that El-Rufai should be ready and willing to answer questions on corrupt practices and misuse of office as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory as he is being accused.  If he is found guilty, let the law take its full effect. And on the other hand, shady-minded  elements in Nigeria, who are anti-reform, should give way in order for Nigeria to grow. It is obvious that there are ill-will citizens who were benefiting financially with the laxity of property development laws in Abuja before El-Rufai was appointed. I am also sure that these folks, having being stripped of their shady powers, were angry and would do whatever it takes to ruin him.

Mr. El-Rufai’s political image has been in a downward spiral. And I see a man who is highly distresses and fighting for a political re-emergence in the Nigerian political scenery. He has resorted to sporadic use of the internet as a modus operandi for a  political come-back. And one wonders if dropping comments here and there on the internet would serve him any good. As far as any form of political come-back in Nigeria is concern, this is my theory. I do not think that El-Rufai can genuinely contest and win any office based on ‘the people’s’ elective power. The ordinary people, who do not understand his job as the FCT minister, might not vote him into any office. They simply see him as the enemy who ruined their livelihood. Even though, this is by no means the case.

And this is the major line-divide between El- Rufai and his exilic contemporay, Nuhu Ribadu. The people of Nigeria tend to lean toward the camp of Ribadu than they are to Rufai. The reason, ordinary Nigerians see Ribadu as going after the big men in power and cracking down on their corrupt practices. But they think of El-Rufai as destroying their homes and businesses and forcing them out of the Federal Capital Territory.

El-Rufai can only come back to government through special appointment. This is the only way he can regain his fame. Anything else is a mirage dream as far as the present Nigeria mass consciousness is concerned. But I have no doubt in my heart that if he is given a official appointment, he will make a best job out of it.

www.ikeugwu.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Oga Jonathan Goodluck, …luck Dey Finish O!

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Read Time:6 Minute, 44 Second
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident” – Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher (1788 – 1860) Recently I asked a friend what he thought about Goodluck’s administration so far, he told me that it was no longer Goodluck, ” the goodluck is finished, it is now Jonathan and no more goodluck” He added, ‘’It was high time we stopped this luck thing and moved ahead to the real thing’. When growing up whenever my late mom called you three times, there was trouble or she needed to make a salient point. It is in this light that I pen these few lines. Over the last few weeks I have been on sabbatical as usual, watching and reading all that my eyes can see on events as they occur in our beloved Nigeria. I have been encouraged by the fact that we are moving forward albeit anyhow, the idea remains by all means move forward.
The drama that is Nigeria continues. I have watched as the IBB shegenian continues, and the bandwagon of PDP and its zoning catapult continues to misfire and in real terms helping us expose the mediocrity in leadership and followership. In trying to make sure they write on everything and anything commentators and analysts have goofed and off course this is Nigeria. No one wants to be left behind. The likes of Atiku, Balarabe, Masari, Lar, NLC, CCC, even my dear Jang in Plateau, PDP Chieftains and thieftains are all struggling to be relevant. Jonathan should contest, he should not contest. A strange nation, as of December we were not sure of who signed the supplementary budget and who was speaking with BBC, all of a sudden, Jonathan posters everywhere as if it’s a poster thing. While some argue that he has a lot to do and should focus on the task in front of him. The constitution which is not a property of the PDP gives right to that office to anyone that is qualified irrespective of tribe, ethnic group, religion or ZONE…. However in this my ranting, I just wanted to state the facts as I see it with my small eyes. Jonathan indeed has every right to contest the 2011 election but and indeed a big but… which is the reason I have called his name thrice. Jonathan has in the last month been receiving one group or the other; he leaves for Paris as I write this essay and when back I cannot guess where next he will be heading to. In today’s Nigeria there are obvious issues that need to be addressed. It is no gainsaying like I read only recently that as we approach 50 years all that we may have achieved as a people is remaining as one nation despite all the ‘wear and tear’ and continuous abuse meted out to the structure called Nigeria. We have blamed everything from Lord Luggard, his wife, Mungo Park, the colonial masters, our first republic leaders, politicians, the military, today PDP and even the masses are not excluded. Elections are months ahead and we do not have a head at the electoral body. We are shouting electoral reforms as if we have ordered angels from heaven that will pioneer the reforms…Jonathan, Jonathan, hmmmm, Jonathan…just shaking my head. The best Jonathan offered is that we will know this week and that he has never met or seen the man, we believe him o…and as a people we anxiously await this angel. Whether 1, 7, 55 point agenda, not one is being vigorously pursued with a sense of commitment at scoring a successful point.
I beg to at this point state unequivocally that despite his relative inexperience on the blocks as a politician and his seemingly first good steps, it is a fact that Jonathan is a ‘systems man’. He is a product of a faulty system and he has not proved a doubt wrong that he will radically move far away from the establishment. And as usual Nigerians are asking for more time for him, praising him to high heavens, same people that called Yar’adua a gentleman, and called his wife a python are same lampooning Jonathan with accolades and calling his wife humble in disposition second only to Saint Humility. A cursory look at the PDP tells the tale better, although many would argue that one needs a platform, so join them and change them. However from experience many that joined have been changed rather than effect that change. The nation is still largely one that is living in darkness despite all the rhetoric about electricity, several bi and multi-lateral agreements with Germany, Brazil, Madagascar or Cape Verde. Just last month we had our own NEPA Ash as power outage afflicted the airport for hours and disrupted activities. We have had steady supply of fuel for at least almost 6 months and I can tell it is scary because Nigerians are not accustomed to such, and as usual because there is fuel you have scarcity of cooking fuel (Kerosene) and the price of gas is rooftop. On a trip to Lagos recently enroute to Abu Dhabi I looked at the hazard gloves used by our security agents, one had to confirm to me that he had been using same for the past few days and had to take it and wash…chei, just cheap hand gloves. On that trip I boarded an aircraft that was short of a kabu-kabu, everything happened on that flight, from the 6 hours delay to the fact that we had to buy snacks, soft drinks and water on board, the only part missing was there was no preacher of some sort. With all the Fashola magic, Lagos is still far away from being what it can and should be. But off course like one accustomed to trekking 4km, a ride of 1km is paradise when indeed he is entitled to the full ride. One might ask how does all this concern Jonathan…I have not strayed but honestly tried to say my dear fellow Nigerians, there is problem in the land and we can overcome it, however not at this rate and with the present crop of charlatans. Crooks at the National Assembly that increase their take home pay, ‘whore allowance’, ‘hardship pay’, ‘talking nonsense remuneration’ amongst many such that they collect and yet these are men and women that can hardly place a verb, and a noun properly in their local dialect.
When they are not beating themselves, they are beating police constables. Talking of the constables, Can Jonathan in few months address the fact that as someone put it in face book “To think that after 50 yrs the Nigeria Police has achieved nothing more than change of uniform (which looks like Pyjamas by the way), they have no forensics & cannot even secure a crime scene after 50years, and after 50 years they are still trying to beat confessions out of people…” Can the group of new power players emerging around Jonathan in the name of PAC or RAC, Ijaw Leaders or servants help this young president to concentrate in solving some of the problems…and while this may be almost impossible the truth is that at least it can lay the ground work for subsequent government. Jonathan…work, work, abeg work, let us see something that is being done not all that fine democracy day speeches that are applauded and do not translate to deliverables or tangibles. I have left many issues, education, health, roads, ethno-religious conflicts and those that have chosen to rewrite the holy books to support their misbehaviour. Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan writing your name in history is beyond luck most times and this I dare say is self-evident when viewed against the achievements of great leaders that made a mark. My apologies do not be a Shonekan…an interim that could not hold its own because of the establishment!

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Pro Group asking for forgiveness for Ibrahim Babangida

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Read Time:3 Minute, 48 Second

A pro-IBB Group yesterday in Lagos, urged Nigerians to forgive former military President Ibrahim Babangida for his role in the annulment of the June 12, 1993, Presidential Poll. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group, under the aegis of the Nigeria Renaissance Group (NRG), joined other Nigerians in observing June 12 in Lagos.

Babangida annulled the election adjudged to be the freest and fairest ever held in the country.
NAN recalls that after the annulment, the acclaimed winner of the election, the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, was arrested and detained for declaring himself president. 

He later died on July 7, 1998, while in custody in Abuja.
Speaking at a symposium organised by the group, the Chairman of Vision 2011, Alhaji Hameed Makama, said: “To err is human, but to forgive is divine. If Nigeria could forgive Chief Emeka Ojukwu for his role in the civil war, it should also forgive IBB.
“Atonement has been made for the June 12 `error’ with the emergence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. We must learn to forgive as a nation so that the country can move forward.”
Meanwhile, the Citizens Popular Party (CPP) has reiterated its call on the Federal Government to immortalise Abiola.

In a statement made available to NAN, the CPP’s National Chairman, Chief Maxi Okwu, said Abiola remained the hero of Nigeria’s democratic struggle.
“We pay tribute to our compatriots who died in our collective efforts to actualise the June 12 presidential mandate for a sustainable democracy in Nigeria,” he said.

The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Presidential Candidate in the 1999 General Election, Chief Olu Falae yesterday expressed doubt over the possibility of conducting 2011 general election without a valid voters register.

Falae, who spoke during a special programme organised by the Ondo State Government to mark the June 12 Anniversary in the state,  said  the coast was not clear for the next election despite the nomination of Professor Attahiru Jega as the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to Falae, there could be no meaningful election when the voters’ register, which is an important ingredient of credible election, is faulty.  The elder statement, who is one of the people rooting for the formation of a mega party, said a situation where the voters’ register is full of errors would not guarantee a free and fair election.

He noted that there were signs pointing to the fact that some people are working towards prolongation of the 2011 General Election next year.
Speaking on the occasion, the Ondo State Governor,  Dr Olusegun Mimiko also faulted the present voters’ register which he noted consist of fictitious names making reference to the voters’ register used in the state during the 2007 General Election.
“A voters’ register for Ondo State which consists of names of the likes of Mike Tyson, late Ayo Joseph Babalola, Sam Omatseye, among others, cannot guarantee a free and fair election in this country. So, we must have a credible voters’ list against what INEC used in 2007,” he said.

Mimiko also stressed the need to ensure that internal democracy is allowed in the choosing of candidates in different political parties in the country saying conducting free and fair primaries in different political parties is one of the pre- requisites of a free and fair election.
He also advocated for the use of two- party system in future elections in the country, stressing that two -party system would ensure a virile democracy.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of the Nation newspaper Editorial Board, Mr. Sam Omotsaye, urged Nigerians to be ready to sacrifice for the sustenance of democracy like the late MKO Abiola did during the struggle for the actualisation of his mandate.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Popular Party (CPP) has reiterated its call on the Federal Government to immortalise Abiola.
In a statement made available to NAN, the CPP’s National Chairman, Chief Maxi Okwu, said Abiola remained the hero of Nigeria’s democratic struggle.

“We pay tribute to our compatriots who died in our collective efforts to actualise the June 12 presidential mandate for a sustainable democracy in Nigeria,” he said.
Okwu, however, expressed dismay that Babangida, who nullified what he described as the freest, most peaceful and credible election ever conducted in Nigeria, had indicated interest to contest the 2011 poll.

 

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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World Cup opens in tragedy for Mandela

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Read Time:2 Minute, 37 Second

JOHANNESBURG (AP)—Nelson Mandela’s 13-year-old great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash, forcing the former president to forego a hoped-for appearance at the World Cup’s opening game Friday.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Zenani Mandela died in a one-car accident after attending Thursday’s World Cup kickoff concert at the Orlando Stadium.

The foundation later confirmed Mandela would not attend the World Cup opening ceremony and first game in Johannesburg, dashing hopes the frail 91-year-old former president would make a rare appearance. Mandela and his family were “torn up” by the accident, the foundation said at its Johannesburg office.

“Mr. Nelson Mandela this morning learnt of the tragic death in an accident of his great granddaughter Zenani Mandela,” foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said, reading from a prepared statement. “It would therefore be inappropriate for him to personally attend the FIFA World Cup opening celebrations.”

“We are sure that South Africans and people all over the world will stand in solidarity with Mr. Mandela and his family in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

Johannesburg Metro police spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane said the driver of the car, a man, had been arrested and charged with drink-driving. Mamonyane said the driver, who police would not name, could also face culpable homicide charges.

“The Metro police found that he was drunk,” Mamonyane said. “He lost control of the vehicle and it collided with a barricade.”

Police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said the driver would appear in court for a preliminary hearing Friday, after which he would be named.

The Mandela foundation denied reports that the former president’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was in the car, but said she was treated in hospital for shock after being told of the fatal accident, and she was discharged after a few hours.

She later attended the opening ceremony, with her two daughters.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote to Mandela to “convey the condolences of the entire football family.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who was in South Africa to lead his country’s delegation to the opening ceremony, also expressed condolences, as did South Africa’s governing African National Congress party.

Zenani, who celebrated her 13th birthday Wednesday, was one of the anti-apartheid icon’s nine great-grandchildren.

Mandela, who turns 92 on July 18, has largely retired from public life although it had been anticipated he would make a brief appearance at the World Cup opening ceremony Friday, depending on his health and the weather.

In a statement Thursday, the Foundation said it had been “inundated with requests for meetings, and it will be impossible for Mr. Mandela to accede to even a small fraction of these.” But Mandela met this week with members of the Black Eyed Peas, one of the main acts at Thursday’s concert, and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Carlos Queiroz—the latter a former coach of South Africa.

Gerald Imray in Johannesburg contributed to this report

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Okonjo-Iweala Warns Against Another Recession

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Read Time:1 Minute, 6 Second

Nigeria’s former minister of Finance and Managing Director of the World Bank, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday warned that if corruption is not properly checked, it would result to another economic recession, especially in developing countries.

Okonjo-Iweala, who sounded this warning in an interview she granted the CNN, decried a situation whereby corruption has become a globalised phenomenon where money leaves developing countries illicitly and finds its way into the banking and financial sectors abroad in developed countries.

She, however, observed that it takes a partnership to have the foreign countries return the money to the developing countries where it belongs, adding , “There is a United Nations convention against corruption which combines a framework for this to happen in a much faster way”

She said, “We see the world economy recovering with the developing countries growing at 6%. Much of the world’s growth is coming from developing countries, but in Europe, there is a problem. If this continues and we keep seeing a rise in the situation where interest rates are high and capital is unaffordable for many countries, especially the developing countries where these could lead to another recession.

“We hope this will not happen. We hope the recovery will continue. We think governments are taking responsible measures by discussing how to balance fiscal consolidation with resumption of growth.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria Governor Peter Obi’s tax yoke on Anambra families

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Read Time:3 Minute, 25 Second

Ever since Ndi Anambra took to the streets, few days ago, to protest the inhuman and oppressive tax imposed on them by the state government. There has been this feeling in the wider Nigerian civil society that the state government will respond quickly to the plight of hard working Nigerian families abode in Anambra state. Indeed they have good reasons to feel that way. Was it not less than four months ago that the people of the state returned the incumbent governor Peter Obi to a fresh four year mandate? Surely, the people must have trusted him enough to vote him twice.

But one need to warn here that it was only after Americans have voted George Bush twice as their President did they actually begin to rue the choices they had made on those two occasions. A similar pattern is fast emerging in Anambra state and NdiAnambra need all the voices they can muster in salvaging the dangerous trend heralding Peter Obi’s second term in office.

For a start, it is imperative to put in perspective the circumstances that led to Obi’s second term victory. The people of the state was faced with limited choices in the Febuary 6 2010 poll. There were in that contest, a candidate representing Okija shrine, a money bag with fake certificate representing the unpopular Uba family and an otherwise brilliant man wielding unlawfully obtained party ticket and running for a discredited party.  These were Obi’s major opponents and thus he should not flatter himself too much.

His latest antics in planting paid news in Nigeria media, while in faraway Belgium, claiming that he is in Brussels to search for investors willing to invest in provision of potable water in the state is worryingly pathetic. It seems this man just don’t get it. The immediate cause of the latest street protest was the imposition of a whooping 35000 (thirty five thousand) Naira levy on every household in Anambra that could afford to provide itself with water. It needs to be said here, despite all the promises by Peter Obi, there are no running public tap water in Anambra state. Thus the people had to provide potable water for themselves. Ordinarily, one would have thought such self help scheme would have received the support of Peter Obi, at least until he was able to live up to his promises. Rather, what the people got was an ill thought tax that would make it unattractive for people to access potable water, which apart from the air we breathe, is the most essential requirement of every human being.  It seems Peter Obi will prefer the residents of the state to stampede towards Omambara, Idemmili and Niger rivers to access untreated water. Who is advising Obi?

To be fair to Obi, he did not shut the public tap in Anambra state; the disastrous regime of Babangida did so in 1991, when his Military administrator in the state allegedly decided to pocket the salaries of all the workers in the state water corporation and as typical of IBB, the corrupt official was later promoted. These arrears remain uncleared till date.

But Obi should not compound an already bad situation. Access to potable water has been a challenge to many hard working families across Nigeria. In the North, for example, the Central bank of Nigeria has dug several boreholes under its ‘water for life’ charity scheme, in order to save lives. The beneficiaries did not need to pay for its use and neither has any state government in the northern states threaten to impose levies on its use because they understand the essentiality of water for living and the huge favour that has been done to their state treasuries by the scheme.  These are valuable lessons Peter Obi need to learn from his northern colleagues.

Surely, the people could be spared the choking levies while Obi wanders on the streets of Europe chasing the phantom investors.

Anambra state deserves better than lip service and paid news.

zeebyoneonyx@yahoo.com

 

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Police opened fire on hundreds of bikers protesting -five dead

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Read Time:1 Minute, 21 Second

JOS, Nigeria — Police opened fire on hundreds of bikers protesting a ban on commercial motorcycles in Nigeria’s flashpoint city of Jos Wednesday, killing five of the protestors, a rescue official said.

An AFP journalist saw four corpses after the demonstration turned violent, with protestors setting alight a police station in the city, which has seen several outbursts of violence in the past months.

“A total of five people were shot dead by policemen,” secretary of the Jos Muslim Umar group rescue team, Tanko Shittu, told AFP.

Police could not confirm a death toll but Commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba said security forces had first used teargas but later had to resort to weapons, with the protestors also armed.

“We can’t rule out casualties because it was a very serious and tense situation, (there were) thousands of them,” the police commissioner told AFP.

“Police had to use smoke and when that did not work, they had to use firearms,” he said.

Investigators were checking on the casualties, he said.

A policeman who was stabbed on Monday in similar protests died in hospital on Wednesday, a police assistant inspector general Donald Iroha said in a statement.

Hundreds of irate riders have poured on to the streets of Jos since Monday to protest the arrest of their colleagues who defied the government ban on their operations.

Authorities have ordered a ban on the use of motorcycles for commercial purpose saying they are involved in crime.

Aduba said at least 100 riders had been arrested for defying the ban.

Jos and its environs have been plagued with sectarian violence that has claimed hundreds of lives this year.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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