Salihu Moh. Lukman
On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, the expanded APC Tripartite Consultative Committee meeting chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Members of the APC Tripartite Consultative Committee include the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), HE Mai Mala Buni, Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, HE Kayode Fayemi, Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Idris Wase, Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and Secretary of the APC CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe.
The expanded meeting of Tuesday, November 9, in addition to these appointed members, was attended by Progressive Governors and all elected APC representatives in the two APC chambers of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives). The agenda of the expanded meeting was the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act, which specifically requires all political parties in the country to adopt direct primary for the nomination of party candidates for election. The decision to hold the expanded meeting was taken at a previous meeting of the APC Tripartite Committee with the aim of facilitating synergy between members of the National Assembly, Governors, and the party on the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act.
APC: Direct Vs Indirect Primary
The desirability for using direct primary to nominate party candidates is popular given that indirect method, which requires only delegates from among elected party executives at Wards, Local Governments, States and National levels is considered very corrupt and anybody who has money can buy his/her way to emerge as candidate. The belief is that delegates used during party primaries, who are few, relative to the size of party membership are loyal to governors and therefore end up doing the bidding of governors by electing only aspirants chosen by governors. In addition, the delegates are alleged to also be very corrupt, which makes party primary to be very expensive because aspirants must virtually purchase the vote of every delegate. Nigerians, especially members of political parties detest the indirect method, partly because it is believed that it is the cause of almost all the leadership challenges facing the country whereby wrong people emerge into leadership positions simply because they can buy the ticket to contest elections.
APC emerged in 2013 with the commitment to bring about political change in the country. One of the changes envisioned by the founding leaders of the party was the adoption of the direct method, which is to broaden the participation of members, not just few delegates, in the process of electing party candidates at all levels. Between 2013 and 2015, there were internal debates in the APC to develop the necessary infrastructural platforms that should allow all members of the party to elect both leaders and candidates of the party. Under the Chief Bisi Akande Interim Management leadership, substantial investment was undertaken towards establishing computerised membership data centre for the whole country, located at No. 10 Bola Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. Sadly, PDP government, under former President Jonathan Goodluck, vandalised the Data Centre on November 22, 2014 based on the claims that the Department of State Security (DSS), which carrieed out the attack, acted on a petition, which alleged that the Data Centre was being set up to ‘clone INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC database, corrupting it and replacing them with their own data’ (Premium Times, November 23, 2014).
Assembly highlighted in Chapter II – Party Funding and Scope for Internal Democracy, in the publication Power of Possibility & Politics of Change in Nigeria, published in July 2019, ‘the internal dynamics that pushed for the establishment of the Data Centre included challenges during the conduct of the party’s Congresses and Convention between April and June 2014. One of the projections before the Congresses was to expand the process of electing party leadership at all levels beyond the scope of a limited number of party delegates, which should cover all members of the party. Partly, on account of experiences during the conduct of Ward Congresses in April 2014, which exposed the problem of conducting all-members’ inclusive elections for party offices without authenticated membership records, the Chief Bisi Akande Interim Leadership initiated the establishment of the Data Centre.
Issues of maintaining verifiable membership register is a condition precedent for any new framework, which can allow credible election to be conducted within any political party based on the direct method. This is mainly because it is the membership register that is expected to be used to accredit members of the party during the election. This issue has been a major point of internal debate in APC since 2014. Ahead of every election, it always comes up. Since the time of the Interim Leadership of Chief Bisi Akande, the decision has been to use expanded delegates, involving majority members of the leadership beyond the few that are designated as delegates as provided in the APC constitution.
It is believed that through direct method, involving all party members, problems of imposition of leaders and candidates, vote buying, rigging, manipulation, associated with indirect methods of the delegates system will be reduced. The expectation is that direct primary will bring political party leaders closer to members, and consequently citizens closer to elected representatives. Inability of APC to institutionalise the direct method as the preferred option for electing leaders and selecting candidates of the party for election is a major source of disappointment for many party members and leaders especially given the way all the problems associated with the indirect method has also manifested in the APC.
The campaign therefore to get the APC return to its founding vision should be welcomed by every committed party member, which may have been responsible for why President Muhammadu Buhari continued to insist that APC must be controlled by the people, on account of which he continued to push the party to adopt direct primary. Recall that, ahead of the 2019 election, President Buhari chose direct primary method to confirm his emergence as the candidate of the APC Presidential candidate for the 2019 election. The party’s National Convention would have been sufficient to confirm his nomination through majority votes. Instead of limiting his emergence to only delegates at the National Convention, he requested that members of the party should also be allowed to participate in the process of endorsing his candidature as the presidential candidate of the APC for a second tenure.
Although, many may argue that such a decision was an academic exercise, it however influenced the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in terms of the methods to be used to produce candidates of the party for the 2019 elections at all levels. This is because the decision of NEC of August 30, 2018, inspired by the position of President Buhari was that stakeholders of the party in every state should decide the method – direct, indirect or consensus – that will be used for the nomination of candidates in the states. Lagos, Kano and Niger States opted for the direct primary. Except for few states such as Zamfara, in virtually all the other states, the indirect method was chosen. Zamfara opted for consensus, which was partly responsible for all the acrimony against the choices of candidates’ that resulted in the electoral disaster that robbed the party of all the hard-earned electoral victories of 2019.
Expanded APC Tripartite Consultative Committee And Proposed Amendments
Noting that both the two chambers of the National Assembly have passed the proposed Electoral Act amendment bill on October 12, 2021, which among others require all political parties in the country to adopt the direct method of conducting party primary for the nomination of candidates and a conference committee involving representatives of the two chambers (Senate and House of Representatives) was working to harmonise the amendment, the expanded APC Tripartite Consultative Committee meeting of November 9 would have been expected to influence the final amendment to guide the work of the conference committee. Notice for the meeting was issued by the party, dated 4th November, 2021, signed by the CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduedehe. Certainly, all members of the APC Tripartite Consultative Committee, including the APC leadership in the National Assembly should have been aware of such expectation.
Interestingly, before the meeting, which was scheduled to hold, 5.00 pm Tuesday, November 9, on that very day, the plenaries of both the Senate and the House of Representatives considered the report of the conference committee on the Electoral Act amendment and adopted the report and passed the new Electoral Act amendment bill. With such development, the expanded Tripartite Consultative Committee was confronted with a fait accompli. The passed Electoral Act amendment Bill by both the Senate and House of Representatives contained the provision requiring that all political parties in the country should adopt direct method of conducting party primary for the selection of candidates. Section 87(1) of the bill provided that ‘A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission.’
In addition, new Sub Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 were inserted in the Electoral Act, which made the following provisions:
· Sub Section 3: The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions by direct primaries shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and given opportunity to have agents for the purpose of monitoring the primaries.
· Sub Section 4: The procedure adopted for the direct primaries shall be spelt out in a guideline to be issued by the political party and filed with the Commission at least 14 days before the primary election.
· Sub Section 5: A political party shall maintain register of its members and provide in the guidelines for the conduct of the primaries that the register of its members shall be used for accreditation for the primaries.
· Sub Section 6: The Commission shall deploy personnel to monitor the primaries in all the centres where the direct primaries are held.
· Sub Section 7: Every aspirant cleared by the party to contest at the primary not later than fourteen days to the primary shall be entitled to a copy of the guidelines for the conduct of the primaries in which he or she is participating.
With these provisions, once assented to by the President, it will be mandatory for every party in Nigeria to use direct method, involving every member of the party, to nominate candidates for elections. If the objective of compelling political parties to adopt the direct method is to ensure credible process of nominating party candidates, additional provisions covering issues of how membership records of political parties should be kept, and processes and procedure required under the Act to satisfy admissibility of members of the party during direct elections should be well outlined. For instance, in the case of national elections, Part III of the Electoral Act dealing with National Register of Voters and Voters’ Registration made comprehensive provisions specifying details of National Register of Voters and Voters’ Registration, Continuous Registration, Qualification for Registration, Transfer of Registered Voters, Powers to Print and issue Voters Register, Powers to Print and issue Voters’ Card, Custody of Voters’ Register, Display of the Copies of Voters’ List, among many other provisions.
The amendment being proposed takes many of these issues for granted. It is possible that these are matters for internal decisions of political parties, which may be why the new Sub Section 4 being proposed expect parties to adopt procedure, which ‘shall be spelt out in a guideline to be issued by the political party and filed with the Commission at least 14 days before the primary election.’ However, any commitment to affirm the right of political party members to participate in the process of electing party leaders and candidates for elections must be unambiguous. When for instance the only thing that exist as means of identification of party members is ordinary piece of paper and records of members exist only in hardcopies available perhaps to only Ward officials and National Secretariat of the party, it leaves much room for manipulation and extraneous practices.
Beyond the sentiments in favour of direct primary therefore, there is the need to properly outline a clear administrative framework under the law, which will guide the process and guarantee that all the bad practices associated with the indirect method are eliminated. Understandably, part of the sentiment informing the actions of members of the National Assembly is that Nigerians have little or zero confidence in the disposition of party leaders, who are alleged to be under the direct control of governors. Largely because of this perception there is ongoing media campaign blackmailing governors that they are the ones perpetrating all the bad practices associated with the indirect methods and therefore the reason why they are against the adoption of direct primary.
The truth however is that with the state of things in APC whereby in virtually all states with serving governors, they (governors) are in charge. The proposed amended law with all its ambiguities would instead strengthen the capacity of governors or any leader who is in control of structures of the party to manipulate the process of nominating candidates. In states such as Delta, Sokoto and Taraba, for instance, where there are no APC governors, leading members of the party in the National Assembly are the people in charge. There are other states such as Adamawa, Rivers and Bayelsa and at least eight other states where governors are not responsible for the possible undemocratic practices taking place.
Besides, the issue of using the indirect method as a means of imposing candidates through corrupt practices, almost all elected representatives in the National Assembly are as guilty as governors. From the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to all the APC and House Representatives members, they must have all paid for every vote they got during internal party primary leading to their election. At that time, they must have been very good loyal partners of governors.
By the way, there are at least twelve former governors currently serving as APC senators. While negotiating to emerge as senators, they must have also been working to ensure the emergence of their preferred choices who are currently serving as governors through the dreaded indirect method. Could these former governors who are currently serving as senators claim to be innocent of all the undemocratic practices associated with the indirect method? Could the current serving governors be the only promoters of the bad undemocratic practices of imposition, vote buying, etc. through the indirect method?
Part of the underlying problems of Nigerian democracy is the problem of poor relations between members of the executive and legislative branches. There is always a constant fight between governors and members of the National Assembly of almost all states. Poor relationship between governors and members of the National Assembly from states is partly responsible for high turnover rates of elected senators and House of Representatives members. The turnover rate is estimated to be as high as 80%. Other factors that must be responsible for the high turnover rates would also include personal lifestyles of many elected representatives, which alienate them from their constituents. The relationship between most elected representatives and their constituents is largely transactional, which produce envy and, in many respects, undermined their electoral viability. On both the two issues of poor relationship between governors and elected representatives, on the one hand, and relationship with constituents, how can the adoption of direct primary address the problem of high turnover rates?
As things are, based on the proposed new Section 87 of the amended Electoral Act, which leaves many open spaces for manipulation in the law, problems of internal democracy within parties may only get worse. Resolution of all the challenges of internal democracy within political parties requires a high measure of honesty from political leaders at all levels. It will be highly insincere for members of the National Assembly to attempt to play the ostrich by pushing the blame of lack of internal democracy within parties on only governors. Once that is the case, instead of party leaders working as a united body to ensure that the adoption of direct method of electing party leaders and candidates for elections produces a truly new democratic framework, which eliminates problems of vote buying, imposition and all the vices associated with the indirect method, it can only potentially be another source of pains and disappointment for party members and Nigerians.
Direct Primary as a Cover
In several respects, the issue of compelling parties to use direct method for internal party elections as part of the Electoral Act is also popular perhaps because increasingly many political party members and leaders have lost confidence that parties can on their own adopt internal rules that can truly allow for direct primary. Otherwise, ordinarily the choice of direct primary should be decided internally within parties. To a large extent, it is also a matter that should define the ideological orientation of parties. There are political parties that operate as closed shops, implying that the process of decision-making is limited to some few interests. Under such a situation, parties would outline processes of qualification to be part of the decision-making process. Once the electoral law limits the choices of parties, it may undermine the provisions of the constitution with respect to freedom and political liberties. Lawyers and human right activists may want to cross-check all these.
It is worrisome that APC members in the National Assembly are the ones pushing for this amendment. Rather than leaders of the party negotiating among themselves on what needs to be done to produce internal agreement to resolve all challenges facing the party, increasingly structures of the party are being abandoned and other structures outside the statutory organs of the party are being used to attempt to address perceived problems. This creates problems of confidence in the capacity of structures of the party to address challenges facing the party. The whole scheming pushing party leaders to use structures outside the statutory organs of the party may not be even about addressing challenges facing the party but perhaps about realising political aspirations of some party leaders and power blocs.
The whole debate about adopting a direct method as part of the Electoral Act is mainly an APC agenda. There may be a calculated attempt by a section of APC leadership whose interest is to hoodwink APC members and Nigerians with the direct primary dummy. If the truth is to be told, direct method of selecting candidates within the APC began to be corrupted under the dissolved National Working Committee led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. There were instances during 2019 elections, when the process of nominating APC candidates for election was manipulated using the direct primary, largely because no credible membership register existed since the November 22, 2014 vandalisation of the APC Membership Data Centre by the DSS. There was very little effort to re-organise and rebuild the APC membership record. It was only around February/March 2020 that the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC placed some newspaper advertorials inviting biddings from interested service providers to assist the APC to establish computerised membership data register.
Although no reference was made to the previous APC membership data centre of 2014 in the advertorial, the invitation for bidding suggested non-availability of a computerised membership register. There was of course occasional reference by Comrade Oshiomhole that the membership register of APC has been uploaded on the cloud. The question of access to such membership register has remained an unresolved puzzle, which was why the APC Caretaker Committee under the leadership of HE Mai Mala Buni had to undertake membership registration and revalidation . The major challenge of the new APC membership register is that it is manually stored. Interestingly, some of the promoters of the current amendment to the Electoral Act campaigning to include the direct primary of conducting party primary in the Electoral Act were against the decision of the APC Caretaker Committee to undertake membership registration and revalidation exercise.
It is quite suspect that isolated aggressive campaign to include the issue of compelling parties to adopt direct primary to nominate candidates for election is being promoted by respected APC leaders without a corresponding commitment of ensuring that the process of producing a verifiable membership register for the APC is finalised. Once direct primary is adopted without clearly unambiguously defined political party membership management framework, incidences of manipulation and crude practices leading to worse forms of imposition of candidates by leaders of political parties, will be the new order. In the piece Internal Party Democracy and Prospects for New Nigeria, some of the inflated results of direct primary in APC during the 2019 elections were highlighted.
The vulnerability of direct primary to manipulative intrigues of political leaders was further confirmed in the just-concluded Anambra governorship election. The APC candidate in the election, Sen. Andy Ubah, during the APC primary election was said to have emerged with 230,201 votes. But he only got 43,285 votes during the election. Some measure of honesty is required from all leaders to address problems of internal democracy with political parties in Nigeria. No doubt, Nigerian democracy needs to be deepened to broaden the participation of party members in the process of selecting party candidates. But given the way some APC leaders are desperately and aggressively campaigning for the adoption of the amended Electoral Act as passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, with all its ambiguities, makes it suspect.
The Way Forward
The whole insertion of the provisions requiring political parties to adopt the direct method in the Electoral Act would appear to be an afterthought. This is because, the original bill, which was subjected to joint public hearing by both the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at the National Assembly complex in Abuja didn’t contain the insertion of Section 87 Sub Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. There was only the insertion of Section 87(1 and 2), which provides that:
Sub Section 1: It seeks to enact a new section 87 on the nomination of candidates by parties for elections by prescribing maximum fees payable by aspirants and restricting nomination criteria strictly to relevant provisions. Specifically, the bill states that total fees imposed by a political party shall not exceed N1million on a House of Representatives aspirant; N2 million on a senatorial aspirant; N5 million on a governorship aspirant and N10million on a presidential aspirant.
Sub Section 2: ‘compels a political party not to impose nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election, except as prescribed under sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).’
It was during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill after the public hearing in July 2021 that the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila moved a motion for the amendment to allow direct primaries to be part of the amendment.
In the case of Senate, after passing an amendment bill, which did not include the requirement to compel parties to adopt direct method for election of candidates, following a ‘motion for Re- Committal of some Clauses of the Electoral Act No.6 2010 (Repeal and Re- enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) to the Committee of the Whole as sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progress Congress, APC, Kebbi North’ on October 12, 2021, Sections 87 (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) were inserted and passed.
It will be important therefore to appeal to both the Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawal and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and all the leaders of the National Assembly to provide the needed leadership for the country to have the right legal framework, which can guarantee the administration of direct primary by political parties in the country as a means of entrenching internal democracy during the process of nominating party candidates for elections. The proposal passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly on November 9, 2021 is highly inadequate and leaves more room for manipulation, which may produce more disaster for the country beyond what the nation is going through under the indirect method.
Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that given that the whole controversy about the proposed Electoral Act amendment is limited to the new insertions in Section 87, the National Assembly should consider reworking issues under Section 87 to make it unambiguous. The reworked new provisions should go through all the legislative processes including public hearing to enable Nigerians to also contribute to making the law. This is a very sensitive issue, which no Standing Order of the National Assembly should be used to block the democratic rights of Nigerians in contributing to the law.
While the reworked Section 87 is being processed as recommended, the National Assembly may wish to adopt all the other amendments and transmit them to the President for assent. Unless leaders of the National Assembly are interested in blocking the possibility of amending the Electoral Act and want to shift the blame on President Buhari, it would be very inappropriate politically to expect the President to assent to the Electoral Act amendment with the provisions in Section 87 and all its ambiguities. The leadership of the National Assembly should take responsibility and not pass the buck.
Finally, all APC leaders must be appealed to, so that they are able to understand and appreciate that the challenges facing both the party and the nation require strong unity, especially among leaders. No leader should have the illusion that old methods of imposition of candidates by any means – direct or indirect – can guarantee electoral victory. As much as APC members and Nigerians want the internal process of nominating candidates for elections to be broadened to engender wider participation of party members, no political leader should attempt to introduce loose arrangements so that figures can be produced in the name of results for party primary. APC worked hard in 2015 and 2019 to earn the confidence of Nigerians. No APC leader should take that for granted.
Dr Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja. This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.
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The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy
By Toyin Falola
Western deception has been with Africa forever:
1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.
1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.
1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.
When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?
You need a little education.
Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty.
As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent.
Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.
Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after.
Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.” Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region.
While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.
Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”
The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on.
At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power.
Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.
Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”
The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?
Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa
By Leo Igwe
A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.
The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.
At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.
On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.
At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.
A – Z Of Ibadan Achievements
By Toyin Falola
I am glad to accept the invitation of the Ibadan Descendant Union, the Dallas Branch, celebrating its 25th anniversary on September 23rd, 2023. As the Keynote Speaker, my topic was not imposed on me. In the spirit of the occasion and speaking to city fellows, I know I must be in haste before the amala becomes cold. Approaching 71, my words keep coming, far more than at 41. As the words continue to pour, let me employ them to praise the greatness of Ibadan, which I once eulogized in a piece, “Ibadan: My City of Fame”.
A story of political cunning, martial strength, and intellectual passion unfolds in Ibadan’s rich and fertile fields, like the brilliant hues of a tapestry stitched with strands of heritage, bravery, and ingenuity. As we travel through the history of Ibadan, a city that stands as a beacon of human resilience and ingenuity, we discover stories of remarkable individuals who have risen to great heights through courage and community solidarity, shaping a society that not only honoured its past but eagerly looks forward to a bright future.
We begin this voyage by traversing Ibadan’s dynamic political and chieftaincy terrain, where the pursuit for honour paints the backdrop of a society steeped in martial culture. This is a city that pulsates with the heartbeat of its people, continuously growing and remaking itself via a kaleidoscope of power dynamics and civic turmoil. Individuals ascending to chieftaincy titles in this dynamic metropolis are more than just leaders; they manifest a tradition steeped in heroism, endurance, and community cooperation. When we delve further, we discover that the quest for honour is more than just a race for prestige. It is a vibrant celebration of the rich and diverse traditions that constitute the foundation of Ibadan’s distinct identity. Civil disturbances are considered possibilities for societal reform in this setting, fostering governance that shapes a robust and adaptive civic identity. As we search through Ibadan’s historical documents, we discover a city that stands as a tribute to its citizens’ tenacious energy and inventiveness, constantly weaving its past and values into the intricate fabric of its distinct character.
The vivid tapestry of Ibadan’s tale continues into the arena of military power, where victory echoes reverberate through time, influencing the communal rituals and martial practices that have defined the city’s vast past. The revered streets of Ibadan echo the attitude of solidarity and fearlessness that characterized ancient warriors. A closer examination reveals leaders who inspired and galvanized armies with weapons and words that moved the soul, cultivating a cultural milieu in which military achievement symbolized civic pride and camaraderie. Leaders like Balogun Ogboriefon evolved to personify the deeply ingrained belief system centred on togetherness and fearlessness. These charismatic figures led their societies through transforming experiences that defined civic values and fostered a collective sense of cohesion and direction. As a result, civil unrest in Ibadan should be viewed as a potent catalyst for political development and advancement, forming a dynamic and resilient civic identity that matches the lively traits of urban cultures seen in ancient city-states.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that military conflicts that once echoed through the city’s streets have now become an integral component of a fascinating narrative that acts as both an educational tool and a source of inspiration for its residents. The merging of past and present delivers a colourful portrayal of historical information through this lens, feeding civic culture with a potent blend of inspiration and advice. Continuing from the complex tapestry that underpins Ibadan’s historical landscape, we now focus on the intellectual areas that distinguish this magnificent city. The hum of intellectual debate, the vigorous interchange of ideas that has been a trademark of this urban sanctuary for generations, can be heard throughout Ibadan’s bustling streets and peaceful corners. The scholarly pursuit, profoundly embedded in the city’s mentality, acts as a beacon, attracting minds from all backgrounds and promoting a culture of intellectual energy and innovation.
The intellectual enthusiasm is not limited to the sacred halls of learning; it permeates every aspect of Ibadan culture. Streets are transformed into open forums, where wisdom and insight are traded with the same zeal as goods in a bustling market. Every person, it appears, contributes to a swirling vortex of information and creativity, from the little child reciting folklore learnt at a grandparent’s knee to the seasoned academic scribbling theories in scholarly publications. This ongoing engagement with learning with intellectual inquiry imbues the city with an enlightening atmosphere that permeates every nook and cranny. This intellectual curiosity, however, is not a new feature; rather, it is deeply established in Ibadan’s history. The city has long been a study centre, where traditions and customs have been recorded, preserved, and studied. A location where the quest for knowledge, for unravelling the complexities of human existence, has been a constant force driving people to seek wisdom in the teachings of the past and the discoveries of the present.
And, as if responding to the ancients’ pleas, Ibadan’s modern academic institutions stand as mighty strongholds of knowledge, where the quest for understanding crosses borders and cultural barriers. The University of Ibadan, a towering educational institution, is a light of scholarship, attracting minds worldwide. A new generation takes up the mantle of scholarly endeavour here, amid the halls resonating with the echoes of intellectual giants, ready to carve out their place in the unending narrative of human discovery and understanding. This old institution’s convoluted passageways are a combination of tradition and modernity. A synthesis of many fields of study, where rich lore from the past meets innovative findings from the present, generating an environment that fosters critical thinking and innovation. The intellectual traditions that have characterised the city’s history are given new life by introducing new views and cutting-edge research approaches. This harmonic fusion of old and modern, tradition and innovation, creates a fertile foundation for ideas to take root and develop, contributing to a lively intellectual ecosystem constantly reshaping Ibadan’s societal landscape. The spread of knowledge extends beyond academic circles and into the streets, producing a culture that values intellectual involvement and scholarly discourse.
In the green gardens and lively courtyards of Ibadan’s educational institutions, ideas that have the potential to revolutionize society, question the existing status quo and drive growth are born. Here, in the heart of Ibadan, a new generation emerges, armed with the instruments of knowledge and the spirit of inquiry, ready to face the difficulties of the modern world to contribute to a story that transcends millennia, a story that is constantly being written with each passing instant. There blossoms a dazzling tale of expansion and renaissance within the heartbeat of booming urbanity, an anthology that knits past and present into a vivid tapestry of innovation and cultural engagement. The bustling city of Ibadan awakens to embrace a future stitched with golden threads of aspiration and drive as the sun rises, filling the sky with the hues of a new day.
As we continue our examination of this extraordinary city, we cannot ignore the significance of cultural collaboration in forming its modern landscape. Ibadan’s rhythmic pulse is an outstanding symphony, synthesizing diverse cultures and traditions that have found a home within its warm embrace. These intertwined storylines have generated a rich and diverse cultural tapestry and a dynamic and resilient community united in its pursuit of growth and innovation.
A live testament to the city’s global nature can be found in the bustling markets, where an orchestra of dialects fills the air. Trade and commerce transcend transactional boundaries here, morphing into a dynamic cultural exchange dance. An ever-changing ballet in which things, tales, and traditions weave a rich narrative that vibrates with the harmonious melodies of cooperation and mutual respect. As one travels through the city’s busy streets, it is clear that the feeling of community flourishes here. The streets, bustling with the energy of a people unified in purpose and vision, represent Ibadan’s unwavering spirit. This is a city where neighbourliness and a profound feeling of belonging form relationships that transcend generational boundaries, where the wisdom of the elders feeds the seeds of the future, nurturing a society ready to play a crucial role in the world arena.
Again, the story does not finish here; rather, the narrative is ever-changing, sculpted by the hands that construct, nurture, and invent. The pulse of progress is tangible, sparking a rebirth that sees the city reach previously unimaginable heights. Ibadan is on the verge of a new era, ready to seize chances that promise progress and wealth. The city’s edifices, testaments to human ingenuity and resilience, rise to the sky, representing the lofty goals of a people eager to carve their place in history. The developments we see now are a testament to the numerous hands who have worked tirelessly to mould Ibadan’s trajectory, a path distinguished by tenacity, ingenuity, and a relentless quest for greatness. This booming innovation cluster is where the past meets the future, where tradition and modernity dance in unison, giving rise to a beacon of hope and progress on the African continent. The brilliance of human collaboration illuminates Ibadan’s path, a tribute to the potential within a society united in purpose and vision.
As the sun sets and the sky turns gold and scarlet, Ibadan retreats into a tranquil embrace, a sanctuary where dreams are nurtured and visions are born. Ibadan whispers tales of a great past and alludes to a future filled with limitless potential under the twinkling canopy of stars. A future in which the city takes its rightful place in the international arena, a beacon of growth and creativity, a tribute to the perseverance of human endeavour.
As we stand on the verge of a new day, the lively city of Ibadan asks us to join it on its journey, distinguished by growth, expansion, and a firm confidence in the limitless potential of human ingenuity and cultural engagement. A voyage that invites us to see the unfolding story of a city that epitomizes the throbbing rhythm of progress, a story that promises to resound with the harmonic melodies of growth and prosperity for future generations. As the story progresses, Ibadan becomes a living witness to the powerful ability of human ingenuity and cultural exchange, a vibrant tableau of a city on the move, eager to embrace a future full of promise and opportunity. As this piece on our exploration of this vibrant urban tapestry concludes, we are left with a vision of a city reborn, a city ready to forge its path into a future that gleams with the promise of progress, prosperity, and limitless possibilities, ever-ready to assume its rightful place on the global stage. Finally, with its rich history, intellectual prowess, and dynamic cultural mosaic, Ibadan invites us all to be a part of its ongoing tale, a story that promises to captivate, inspire, and serve as a beacon of hope and progress in our ever-changing world.
Let us all witness Ibadan’s developing story, a city poised to stun the globe with its brightness, resilience, and unshakable spirit of innovation and progress. IDU, congratulations!
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