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Published 6th July 2012

Vol 53 No 14


Nigeria

Dazzling statistics

Oshodi Market. Jacob Silberberg / Panos
Oshodi Market. Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The government’s financing gap is opening up and the reformers are being blocked but the investors keep on coming

Which are the more stunning figures? The billions of dollars of investment sluicing into Nigeria despite its deepening security crisis? Or the billions of dollars of oil and gas revenue that the state is losing through deliberately mispriced contracts, tax evasion and the theft of oil cargoes? The World Bank reckons foreign investment has been running at an annual rate of US$6-$8.5 billion for the past five years. The latest scheme to be announced is a planned $4.5 bn. investment by New York-based Vulcan Petroleum Resources to build six oil refineries able to process 180,000 barrels per day. Vulcan’s Nigerian partner, Edozie Njoku, claims it will take just 30 months to build all six. Vulcan still has to secure final government approval. New refining capacity would, if commercially viable, offer a solution to Abuja’s crisis over subsidising the import of refined products.


Turning security upside down

A new political strategy would be more use in the fight against Boko Haram than sacking officials

The latest wave of attacks on churches, police stations and even building workers across northern Nigeria seems to be the insurgents’ response to President Goodluck Jonathan’s sack...


Zuma delays judgement day

Arguments over personalities rather than ideas dominate the ANC’s policy conference in the Free State

Policies were not changed nor presidents toppled when the African National Congress met last week. Yet everyone – supporters of President Jacob Zuma and of his two main rivals, Dep...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Saudi Arabia’s financing of Salafist groups across the Sahel over the past three decades has reached its apogee with the destruction of tombs and mausoleums in Timbuktu. In many ways, these attacks symbolise the political and social crisis the region faces as Mali, and perhaps its neighbours, is plunged into a multi-sided war. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a Senegalese philosopher, speaks of an incalculable blow to the history of Islam dealt by the fighters of the Ansar Eddine (‘Supporte...

Saudi Arabia’s financing of Salafist groups across the Sahel over the past three decades has reached its apogee with the destruction of tombs and mausoleums in Timbuktu. In many ways, these attacks symbolise the political and social crisis the region faces as Mali, and perhaps its neighbours, is plunged into a multi-sided war. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a Senegalese philosopher, speaks of an incalculable blow to the history of Islam dealt by the fighters of the Ansar Eddine (‘Supporters of the Religion’) who have smashed up shrines dating back to the 14th century and the height of Mali’s empire. Some fear they will destroy the ancient libraries next.

On 2 July, the Organisation of Islamic Conference issued a statement in Jeddah condemning the destruction by ‘bigoted extremist elements’ of Mali’s ‘rich Islamic heritage’ but neither the OIC nor its host offered more than verbal encouragement to the Malian authorities. The concomitant risk to millions of lives, as the conflict and food shortages spread, demands more urgent action from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.

They have asked the United Nations to back an intervention force in northern Mali and have won the backing of new French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. But there is a sense of drift as the regional mediator, Burkinabè President Blaise Compaoré, convenes yet another round of negotiations on Saturday. The dangers in Mali could quickly spread across the region.

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Attacking civil society

The power of civic activists to get people on to the streets worries an already paranoid government

Government attempts to silence criticism by non-governmental and civil society organisations is escalating. The Internal Affairs Minister, Hilary Onek, is threatening to de-registe...


Foreign sanctions miss target

In public, diplomats in Antananarivo talk up the chances of a settlement of the political crisis. In private, though, they confess to doubting the value of the sanctions imposed si...


Selected heads roll

After Macky Sall’s presidential victory, the judiciary are targetting many of his predecessor’s business and religious friends

No witch-hunt. That was Macky Sall’s message after he won a resounding mandate with two-thirds of the vote in the presidential run-off in March. Now he hopes he has extended his po...


Rajoelina slows down the train

The confusion is far from over. The United Nations proposes that Madagascar hold presidential and parliamentary elections in May or June 2013 but Andry Rajoelina is holding out. The army installed him as national leader after its coup in March 2009 threw out his elected predecessor, Marc Ravalomanana. He now heads the Haute Autorité de la Transition (HAT) that was installed in November 2011, following a ‘road map’ signed the previous month by most political leaders (AC Vol 53 No 5, Who's the democrat now?).

There is logic behind the timetable suggested by the UN experts who, chaired by Akinyemi Adegbola, visited the island in April-May. Time is needed to establish a credible electoral...


Jitters as Bozizé dumps ally

The Finance Minister’s sacking is a sop to donors and a sign of the government’s fragility

After nine years at the President’s right hand, Finance and Budget Minister Sylvain Ndoutingaï finds himself out in the cold. Ndoutingaï, who is also General François Bozizé’s neph...


Rebels aim for Kivu secession

Rwanda not only supports the M23 rebellion, it may be helping create a new state on its border with Congo

After a protracted delay and much discussion, at the end of June the United Nations finally published its investigation into Rwandan involvement in the rebellion in eastern Congo-K...


Bandits at large

The security situation outside Bangui is getting worse and the political crisis has not helped. Unsurprisingly, the offensive against the Baba Laddé movement was reported as succes...


Obama’s Congo law

Rwanda’s actions in support of the east Congolese rebels, according to the evidence of the United Nations investigation, indicate a breach of a little-known United States law, the ...



Pointers

Killers united

The Norwegian court trying Anders Behring Breivik, the self-confessed killer of 77 people in July 2011, has heard evidence on his stay in Liberia. In the 1,500-page manifesto that...


Bank to bank

The Southern African Development Community, anxious to free its financial operations from domination by the large, state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa, plans to set up ...


Protestors’ pressure mounts

The National Congress Party spent the 23rd anniversary of the 30 June coup, which brought it to power as the National Islamic Front, suppressing public protests. Its iron grip i...


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