florinsandu

African Politics and Realities

Posts Tagged ‘Africa

Who cares?

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Yesterday, 20th June 2012, the world celebrated World Refugee Day. What exactly does that mean though? Obviously, it’s not an occasion for celebration, but rather for reminding us that it is out there, that millions and millions are affected, and there is somebody out there (this case-UNHCR) making sure we do not forget.

A couple of days before the Refugee Day, the same UNHCR released it’s annual report on the current status of refugees worldwide for 2011. Bad news! The many pages of statistics and numbers can simply be summed up for those who don’t really want to worry about details, or those who are just starting to care, in one sentence: worst year/highest number of refugees worldwide since 2000!

Whenever we happen to catch a glimpse of an ad or a campaign in the media, or simply when you will image search on Google “refugee” , the first picture will definitely be that of an African child. I for one find it tiring and misleading. I hope you will find the time to care enough to browse through the report so that you can see that the most affected countries are Iraq and Afghanistan, two states apparently undergoing democratization, or so they say-with ups and downs-again they say!

Don’t get me wrong, Africa is still highly affected by phenomena of internally displaced people or refugees. Countries like Sudan or DR Congo are still “topping charts”. What might seem to be quite strange is the constant that these countries have been representing in the report for quite a few good years..why? if people/institutions/NGO’s/ UNHCR/ states care and are working towards alleviating the problem of refugees, how did we reach a record for the beginning of the 21st century?

Truth be told, being a refugee most often than not means that you will remain one for years to come, which in turn means that most of the time the number of people that manage to return to their homes is far less than that of new refugees/internally displaced people, leading to the 2011 high.

I don’t know if it is enough to have a World Refugee Day, if that shows we care or not. but definitely it is not enough!

 

By Florin Sandu

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Written by fashionroseblog

June 21, 2012 at 12:07 am

Classroom diplomacy

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Attending the Modern diplomacy lecture today was a breath of fresh air. After a long time, in front of us was a lecturer that was not afraid of being wrong, but quite possibly he was waiting on the rest of us to try and prove him wrong! The topic of the debate was the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa in the light of this week’s developments. For those of you clueless on the matter,the summary would be: South Africa prevented a group of Nigerians coming on the same flight from entering the country on the basis of not having a mandatory yellow fever vaccination card, in return Nigeria did the same to a group of South African nationals…tensions grew higher, and bottom line we have now a sort of mediatic war, and a future series of diplomatic meetings meant to bring a solution to the “chaos” created. Question thrown for discussion….simply, “what do you make of it?”.

Listing the whole arguments at this point would be futile, however it was interesting to see how even during a class at a postgraduate level, the discussion quickly took a more personal turn, or rather, a more nationalistic turn instead of a crude, blunt discussion or attempt of an analysis on what exactly are the elements and so on. Don’t get me wrong, objective and very pertinent arguments were brought to the table, however, for me it was more interesting to watch the cultural belonging to a certain ethnic lines fade away in favor of defending Nigeria as a whole.the only question coming to my mind was ” why doesn’t it happen on a regular basis?

On the other hand, a similar case was on my mind as well, not too far from home….even though apparently far more complex, the case of the deportation of Romanian citizens from France had similar connotations. Regardless of previous opinions on the matter, many of us still felt like our national pride was at stake, moreover that if there is anyone to judge, it should be us. Deeply wrong as that stance might be, it was real, after all, we were defending our “newly ” acquired freedom of moving through Europe without the necessity of having a visa, a noble enough cause…

All in all, today’s lecture was motivating, even though “praising” what should happen on a regular basis and doesn’t is something to think about!

P.S. for more information on the recent diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and South Africa, please take a look at the links bellow.

By Florin Sandu

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Written by fashionroseblog

March 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade and the Goblet of Power 2

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Imagine a “new” Senegal with the old Abdoulaye Wade at its helms, and imagine that the protests and lives lost cannot be a match for the “intricate” ways of politics…It can’t be that hard to imagine that! After all, despite the fact that he didn’t manage to get a majority in the first round of elections, he did get the biggest number of votes (32%) which means he is the front runner for the second round that is to be held this month.

The second man standing is Macky Sall, Wade’s former prime minister and protege, who managed to get 25 % of the total votes casted. However, talks seem to have already started between Sall and other candidates of the opposition in order for him to receive their support in the second round, thus giving him a theoretical better chance of becoming the new president.

This game seems to have been played before…The old vs the new/the past vs the present/the bad vs the promise of good… and what is at stake is the future of a country..ruthless politics at its best! What needs to be noted is that despite the events preceding the votes, the weekend was quite calm, giving hope for the period that is to follow after the second round. However, that might change in a blink of an eye if Wade comes out victorious. Game is still on, until 18 March.

By Florin Sandu


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March 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Occupy Nigeria- …and the weekend is for resting…!

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The meeting held on Thursday 12th January, in the capital Abuja between president Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Government representatives on the one hand , and the representatives of the labor unions on the other did not have any concrete results. It seems that the FG and the president were not ready to revert the price of fuel to 65 naira and the LU reps were not ready for negotiations if that option was not on the table, therefore, Nigeria entered its fifth day of strike on Friday.

However, the weekend seems to be meant for a little bit of rest, as the strike has been called off until Monday, even though a meeting in supposed to take place for further negotiations during the weekend. Meanwhile the Petroleum and Natural Gas  Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has announced that it will join the strike on Sunday evening if the price of petrol will not be reverted to 65 naira, threatening to stop the production of oil.

This is all until tomorrow evening, when hopefully there will be more information available.

Florin Sandu

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Occupy Nigeria-Day 3…What’s next?

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January 11th and the general strikes continues in Nigeria, reaching its third day. Despite the larger turnout at the protest in Ojota, Lagos and other cities in Nigeria, the Federal Government doesn’t seem to be backing down from their decision of removing fuel subsidy. At the same time, the legislative seems to be turning their back to President Goodluck Jonathan by supporting the reinstatement of the fuel subsidy and urging the presidency to take the necessary steps.

Analysis of the current state of affairs in Nigeria are capturing front pages of newspapers and headlines in news across the world, some more competent than others. Being in the midst of it all, it seems to me that a breakdown of the important elements at play is necessary:

1. Governmental corruption extended over a few generations and administrations/political systems

– the average citizen cannot trust the “plan” to save Nigeria from economical collapse predicted by the administration

-general mistrust in what will happen to the extra money that will be added to the national budget as a result of removing oil subsidies

 

2. Failure of government of covering basic needs of the population…steady electricity, good medical service, infrastructure, just to name a few

-people are regarding the subsidy as the only benefit they are receiving from the state, the only direct benefit nigerians have for living in a country that represents Africa‘s largest exporter of crude oil

 

3. High level of poverty with around 90% of the population living on $ 2/day

– the removal of the subsidy has made the price of oil to more than double (from 65 naira to 140), causing also a major increase in food and commodities prices

 

4. The abrupt way in which the president had announced and implemented the removal of the oil subsidy

– an overwhelming majority is of the opinion that a plan of gradually removing the subsidy wouldn’t have sparked the amount of anger we currently see

– the gradual removal of the subsidy should be accompanied by the investment in the nation’s refineries, which at present is importing most of it’s refined oil

 

To my opinion, these are major elements that have led to the current status quo in Nigeria. So…WHAT’S NEXT? Will the president crumble under the pressure coming from the population, civil society and even the legislative bodies and reinstate the oil subsidy? if so, what is the path he will follow? if not, can Nigeria be at the brink of a civil war, as Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate claimed?

These questions  are very hard to answer. A reinstatement of the oil subsidy and the construction of a solid plan of gradually removing it in the future, showing the ways in which the funds will be used seems to be the logical way to go. The decision, in my view, will not show the weakness of the presidency and the government of standing behind its own decisions, but will instead show an understanding of the complexity and gravity of the situation, as well as a great deal of solidarity.

Also, it’s hard for me to believe that the president will be blind to what the strike is bringing upon Nigeria: aprox. 160 Billion naira/day losses due to lack of economical activity; Lagos port shutdown; airports are at a stand still; sporadic violence and the emergence of groups of hoodlums taking advantage of the chaotic situation; the possibility of oil exports to be stopped….just to name a few..

 

Tomorrow is the fourth day of the Occupy Nigeria general strike…let’s see what’s next!

 

Florin Sandu

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January 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Nigeria- linistea dinaintea furtunii

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Incepand de maine, 9 ianuarie, Congresul Muncii Nigerian a anuntat declansarea grevei generale pe termen nelimitat ca urmare a deciziei Guvernului de eliminare a subventiei pentru combustibili. Consecintele sunt greu de imaginat. Inca de saptamana trecuta, decizia luata a dus la dublarea pretului combustibililor provocand panica si proteste in toate orasele importante, cel mai violent dintre acestea avand loc in Illorin, capitala statului Kwara.

 

In aceasta dimineata, toate canalele de stiri si publicatiile nationale au prezentat si comentat pe indelete discursul  presedintelui Goodluck Jonathan , care intr-o incercare de ultim moment de a preveni greva generala a facut apel la populatie sa sprijine decizia de eliminare a subventiei pentru combustibili, accentuand importanta economica viitoare a luarii acelei decizii si anuntand masuri viitoare de austeritate si reducere a cheltuielilor guvernului. Cu toate acestea, lipsa de incredere a cetatenilor de rand  in conducere si in masurile adoptate pare de neclatinat, intr-un stat in care majoritatea populatiei se vede nevoita sa traiasca cu aproximativ 2 USD/zi, dublarea costului de trai a produs cutremure inevitabile.

 

Desi exporturile de petrol nerafinat aparent nu vor suferi ca urmare a grevei generale, administratia are lucruri la fel de importante de abordat. Stabilitatea nationala, care a primit lovituri importante in ultimele saptamani ca urmare a numeroase atacuri sangeroase in nord-vestul tarii,  purtand semnatura gruparii teroriste Boko Haram  (Sistemul de Educatie Vestic Strict Interzis) este din ce in ce mai fragila.

 

Coruptia la inalt nivel cu o traditie indelungata contribuie de asemenea la starea de nervozitate generala si lipsa de incredere in masurile adoptate mentionate anterior. Ce ramane de vazut in momentul acesta este maniera in care presedintele si guvernul vor reusi minimalizarea consecintelor evenimentelor din zilele urmatoare, precum si modul in care vor continua sa sustina masurile deja adoptate.

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January 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Occupy Nigeria-Day 1

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January 9th and the biggest protest Nigeria has seen in response to a government‘s decision is on its way. The turnout to the Lagos protest was impressive, apparently a lot more numerous than even the organizers were expecting. Leaders of the labor unions and other workers associations were all present, taking turns in addressing the  crowd, all of them starting with..”Great Nigerian People!!!”.

While everyone was appealing to peaceful protests, the speeches were a tad confusing. Comparisons were made with the recent events that took place in the Arab world, with leaders that have been driven away, or killed, like the case of Gaddafi, associating words like “peaceful protest” and “Revolution”, many at times baring the same meaning ….what was more confusing was the artists’ performances… which usually represents scenes from an electoral campaign rather than a protest.

Just by following the events on tv, it seems to me that the removal of the fuel subsidies is a big part of what is taking place now, but surely not the only one. Corruption, bad government, lack of steady electricity, and so on, issues that have been affecting the country for some time are bringing out frustration and anger buried deep down, which makes the outcome more unpredictable than many were expecting.

Other cities have joined the protest as well, crippling activities nationwide. Majority of national flights as well as a few international ones have been cancelled, prices to any product have doubled, where and if you are actually able to find anything open…

All in all, day 1 of “Occupy Nigeria” is considered to have been a success, even if the government is not showing any signs of backing up from supporting the removal of fuel subsidies.

Today, January 10th -Day 2 …

 

 

Written by fashionroseblog

January 10, 2012 at 11:37 am