|AllAfrica News: Latest|
|All Africa, All the Time.|
The search for a new pope begins as former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger steps down as the head of Roman Catholic Church by 8 pm today. Pope Benedict XVI, who will be 86 years in April, was elected into the throne of St. Peter in 2005. He announced his intention to resign on February 11, citing ill-health and old age. The Pope told the cardinals that his age had deteriorated “to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me”. At 86, Pope Benedict is unarguably the oldest pontiff in recent time. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84. He was 58 years when he was elected pope in 1978 and ruled for a little over 26 years. Pope Benedict XVI on the other hand was elected pope at 78 years of age and has been in office for only eight years.
The Pope’s resignation was the first since 1415 when Pope Gregory XII resigned his papacy to end the western schism in the church. During Gregory’s papacy, there were three claimants to the throne – himself who was the Pope in Rome, Avignon Benedict XIII and Pisan John XXIII. The two last popes were called Antipope. Pope Gregory XII convened the Council of Constance and authorised it to elect his successor before he resigned from office.
Apart from Pope Gregory XII, eight other popes before him had abdicated their papacy. There were also reports that Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor, John Paul II in February 1989, wrote a letter of resignation to the Dean of the College of Cardinals. In the letter, the Pope said he would resign “if he had an incurable disease that would prevent him from exercising the apostolic ministry, or in case of a ‘severe and prolonged impairment’ that would have kept him from being the Pope”. Fortunately, none of these happened and John Paul II remained as Pope till death.
Pope Pius VII, who ruled between 1800 and 1823, was said to have signed a document of resignation should he be imprisoned in France where he had gone to crown Napoleon Bonaparte king in 1804. And during the World War II, Pope Pius XII signed a document indicating that he should be considered to have resigned from office if he were kidnapped by the Nazis. The Pope instructed that the College of Cardinals should be evacuated to Portugal to elect his successor.
The Canon law makes no provision for a Pope to resign from office either due to old age or on health ground, unlike the case of bishop.
Catholic scholars, however, were of the opinion that John Paul 11did not consider throwing in the towel, even when his health failed him, because of possible schism this might cause within the church. And in the case of Pope Benedict XVI, it was a commendation because he has been able to separate the holder from the office. Stephen White, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Centre in Washington DC, said the Pope had demonstrated that the primary role of the holder of the office is service. “The papacy, in other words, was not given him for his sake, but for the sake of the church’s mission,” White was quoted in The Huffington Post.
Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is raising some concerns. Some observers argue that the old age and health conditions he cited as the reasons were not cogent enough. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, despite his age, suffered from Parkinson disease for many years, which even distorted his speech, yet he held on till death.
A report credited to an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica linked Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation to a 300-page report submitted to the Pope on December 17 last year, which exposes some scandals going on at the Vatican. The report, which was said to have been prepared by three cardinals – Julián Cardinal Herranz, (a Spanish), Jozef Cardinal Tomko (a Slovak) and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, who was former Archbishop of Palermo, mentioned of “a secret gay conclave at the Vatican being blackmailed over acts of a ‘worldly nature’ with laymen”. The authors were commissioned by the Pope himself to carry out the investigation.
But the Vatican dismissed such insinuation, and said it is an attempt to influence the Cardinals in their choice of a new Pope. The Vatican secretariat in a statement said the report is “unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions”.
The report is to be presented to the next Pope. There have been calls that the Cardinals who will be in the Vatican for the conclave should be availed of the content of the report, to enable them think of the direction of where Pope Benedict’s successor will come from.
Whatever is the situation, the Catholic Church will not be the same again. As the 116 Cardinals (now bring down to 115 after Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s resignation) who are eligible to elect Pope Benedict’s successor gather in Rome for the conclave, it will be a battle line between the conservatives and liberals. The two groups clashed at the election of Pope Benedict in 2005 with the conservatives having the upper hand. And there is no indication that the liberals will win this time. Like his predecessor, Pope Benedict, an unapologetic conservative, appears to have made more conservatives Cardinals than the liberals. For instance, the last six cardinals he appointed late last year are mainly from Africa, Asia and Latin America. These are continents where the church is not yet caught up with the wave of liberalism.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, former Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh gave an insight of what might dominate debate among the Cardinals when they go into the conclave to elect Pope Benedict’s successor. Cardinal O’Brien mentioned the issue of celibacy, abortion and euthanasia. Although he said abortion and euthanasia were “basic dogmatic beliefs” of “divine origin” which the church could never accept, he noted that many priests struggle to cope with celibacy, and should be able to marry and have children.
Cardinal O’Brien was obviously expressing the liberal views. He, however, came under heavy attacks for expressing such view. The cardinal will therefore be cut in between electing a Pope who will lift the celibacy ban or the one who will maintain the status quo ante.
The Cardinals will also consider where the next Pope will come from. For many centuries now, Europe (mainly Italy) has been producing the head of the church. Will the Cardinals therefore be disposed to a Pope from Africa, Asia or Latin America? Pope Benedict was elected at the age of 78; will the Cardinals go for a younger Pope this time?
After today, Pope Benedict XVI will retire to a life of prayer and study in a monastery behind the Vatican walls. He said he would not participate in the conclave that will elect his successor. Benedict, who was described when he was elected in 2005 as “an introvert in an extrovert world,” will fade into obscurity.
Ni hao, Chinese for “hello,” or ting bu dong, meaning “I hear you, but I don’t understand,” are two expressions one often overhears today in Zimbabwe’s capital. It is one of the results of tenacious efforts by governments, private companies and individuals across Africa, but in Zimbabwe particularly, to learn the Chinese language and understand China’s culture.
Learning Chinese as a second or third language has been a global trend in the last few years. In Africa, the rapid increase of Chinese investments and trade (China is currently the continent’s biggest trading partner) has spurred the trend.
Zimbabwe’s government has been very deliberate in enhancing its bilateral relationship with China. It launched the Look East Policyin 2003to give priority to investors from China, Japan, Singapore and other countries from that region.As a result, trade between China and Zimbabwe has been growing exponentially — China is now the biggest buyer of Zimbabwe’s tobacco.
Although learning Chinese dates back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle in the late 1960s and 1970s when freedom fighters went to China for military training, the trend has now accelerated significantly, and for different reasons.
To spread the Chinese language and culture, the government of China is utilizing a concept called Confucianism. Confucius was a great Chinese philosopher and educator born in 551 BC. The Chinese believe that his thoughts have tremendously influenced Chinese culture and even had an impact other cultures. Chinese people refer to Confucius as “a greater teacher.”
Zimbabwe leads the rest of the continent in the training of local teachers of Chinese, having integrated the Confucius Institute into the University of Zimbabwe’s academic structures in 2007, as part of an expanding network of about 400 Confucius Institutes worldwide. The programme has largely been successful, and the university is poised to export surplus teachers of Chinese to other countries as well.
Professor Pedzisai Mashiri, the inaugural director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Zimbabwe, says that one of the institute’s goals is to promote the Chinese language and culture in Zimbabwe.
Because the government is yet to integrate Chinese into the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools, schools that host Confucius classes offer the Chinese language as an extra-curricular activity. More than a thousand students have received such language training through the institute since 2009. A few others are completing studies in China and will join the university soon.
A skill that pays
Observers say there has been a rising demand from organizations and individuals seeking to learn Chinese. Clarence Makoni, the founder of the Cendel Language Bridge, a private company that provides translations, interpretation and foreign language instruction, told Africa Renewal that there are huge benefits in learning foreign languages. Chinese, he says, is by far the most sought after.
“If you look at the rate at which the Chinese are coming into this country,” says Mr. Makoni, “you do not need to be a prophet to tell who is going to be the most significant employer in a few years to come. . . . All the people we train are snapped up by companies as soon as they finish their courses, and they are paid very handsomely.”
He adds that the ability to speak another major language besides English is a great selling point in the marketplace. A Chinese-speaking interpreter can rake in a monthly salary of Z$5,000, while a bilingual secretary with the same capabilities can claim up to Z$3,000 — earnings deemed at the top range in Zimbabwe.
Laston Mukaro, a language consultant and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s linguistics department, says that although his job grading has not yet changed, he is now earning much more after learning Chinese.
“It makes sense to learn Chinese now other than for the reason necessitated by the government’s Look East Policy,” he says. “Chinese is one of the United Nation’s official languages and if you look at the way China is expanding into the world, you can do better if you speak their language.”
Mr. Mukaro also earns a lot of money from exchange programmes between China and Zimbabwe. In addition, he frequently consults for the local Confucius Institute. Other benefits include his current work on a handbook for translating between Chinese and Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s main indigenous languages. “For those who travel to and do business with China a lot, and are privileged to tap its diverse tourism, then learning Chinese is practically obligatory and has immense benefits,” he says with enthusiasm.
More expansion ahead
Professor Mashiri says there are plans to open at least five more Chinese teaching points in other parts of the country, and to construct a Confucius Institute building at the University of Zimbabwe. The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe has also promised to build a cultural centre to strengthen cultural cooperation between the two countries.
The world is now a global village, requiring people to understand each other’s culture and languages, says Levi Nyagura, the University of Zimbabwe’s vice-chancellor. “We want to see Zimbabwean students get jobs in China. We will continue to work hard to institutionalize the Chinese language, as we have done with the other major world languages.”
There are also suggestions for introducing Chinese into the national curriculum. “The net effect,” argues Professor Mashiri, “is to have the teaching and learning of Chinese cascade from university to secondary and primary schools.”
I am sceptical about awards in our country. From the national honours given by the federal government, to the honorary doctorates that our universities bestow on individuals, and to the smallest of awards in our clubs and associations, there is too much sycophancy and opportunism in the air. Our most deserving compatriots, who are exemplary in their personal and professional lives, are hardly honoured while crooks, fraudsters and people of questionable characters have ended up being holders of our nation’s highest honours. The situation has become so bad that I have completely lost the appetite for attending award conferment ceremonies.
I am however deeply pleased to learn that the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is my sister, friend and confidant has been named the winner of the Silverbird Man of the Year award for 2012 following a public poll of prominent personalities across the country. Later this evening, she will be honoured with the award at the Muson Centre in Lagos. I believe she is the right choice and the decision has boosted my confidence in both the station and its people. Ngo, as some of us like to call her, has done so much for our country, her generation and indeed the world that any honour is well deserved. She is a remarkable woman, a committed wife and mother, a great patriot and a selfless professional.
Time and circumstance decide who we meet in life; our hearts decide who we want to retain in our lives; and people’s behaviour determine whether we want them to remain in our lives or not. Although I had known her from afar, I met Ngozi for the first time in mid-2003 after I was appointed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ngozi was Minister of Finance. Sooner than later, I began to interact closely with her after I became a member of the National Economic Team of that administration.
Ngozi’s hardwork, commitment, doggedness, humility, commitment to family value and diplomacy left a lasting impression on me. As I dared and fought the corrupt elements in our country, at great risk to my life and those of my colleagues, Ngozi was one of my greatest supporters. We soon became brother and sister, albeit from different parents, and we have continued to be each other’s keeper even when we find ourselves in different political and ideological camps today.
I am out of the country to honour a long scheduled commitment to a friend. I regret my inability to be present at a sister’s moment of joy and celebration. She deserves my presence and that of my family at the Silverbird award ceremony.
I do not intend to bore you with Ngozi’s accomplishments. A lot has been said and written about that and a lot more would be said at the ceremony. I am writing this aboard my flight just to pass a little message of love and appreciation to a compatriot who has made huge sacrifices in a bid to help remake her badly damaged country. It is just a little note about someone I hold in high esteem.
I respect her even more at this challenging time in our country; a period of huge political, economic and security challenges; a period during which citizens look on to their governments in exasperation and disappointment. In the midst of all these, Ngozi has remained calm, focused and even more determined to help fix her fatherland.
Ngo is an extremely loyal and trusted friend. She stood by me through thick and thin, in spite of high-level pressures to disown some of us. Ngo does not betray her friends. And because of her good nature and kind heart, God has blessed her with a beautiful family, especially her husband who I’m equally close to.
Ngozi is known to always make things happen. She believes that hard work and honesty pay. Ngo is an unrepentant workaholic. She hardly leaves her office before 8 p.m. Even while leaving, she heads home with files to treat. Weekends are never free for this woman. She oscillates between one official engagement and another. It seems that the secret of her many achievements lie in hard work, hard work and more hardwork.
Her brilliant mind is world class, yet she is extremely humble. Her simplicity and humility are remarkable. She has a gift of making people around her comfortable. But what I consider her most outstanding attribute is her leadership quality. During the Obasanjo administration, she led the economic management team with intelligence and maturity. Her leadership qualities combined with hard work and an amiable personality gave her the unique brand she has become in the world today. My observations have convinced me of her genuine and deep love for good leaders and ordinary people all over the world.
The Essential Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
In her World Bank office, a beautiful portrait of the Sardauna of Sokoto, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, occupied a central space on the wall. The portrait was there long before she came to Nigeria to serve in government. I once asked her the reason for exhibiting that picture. She said she admires his leadership qualities and achievements, particularly the positive change he brought to the North of Nigeria.
Ngozi treats others as she likes to be treated. She lives a life of constantly improving herself instead of pulling others down. For her, life is about trust, happiness and compassion. It is about standing up for one’s friends. As a true sister, Ngozi stood by me especially at the time I needed support from the people I consider close to me. For that, I will forever be grateful to her.
One other lesson I learnt from this wonderful woman is that life is too short to be spent nursing animosity or registering wrongs. That helped me to understand better what Mark Twain, the famous American writer, meant when he said “keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions, small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can became great.”
Ngo, you are great. The echo of your encouraging voice is still vivid in my memory, always starting with you saying ‘Nuhu the Nuhu’. Thank you so much for everything. Let us all congratulate Ngo and learn a lesson or two from her life of service to her country in particular and mankind in general.
My final words for my sister today is the same apt message of encouragement Mother Theresa left for us in one of her famous quotes. It reads, “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it.”
Ribadu was a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The former US President Bill Clinton was in Nigeria for THISDAY Teachers achievement awards. Speaking on the economic development and advancement of Nigeria, the former president emphasized the employment of Nigeria's brain powers living abroad. President Clinton understood the dynamic and trigonometric of trained skills, advanced education and intellectualism in the advancement of a nation.
On the issue of advance education and specialized skill, Clinton gave a powerful recognition and glowing tribute to Nnamdi Asomugha, a Nigerian American footballer, who has worked closely with the former president‘s Foundation and who has become a helping hand to less privilege communities in United States of America. Asomugha, although is a professional footballer, chose to lay emphasis on educational empowerment of a society. Clinton describing Asomugha as a wonderful human being, said:
“He (Nnamdi) does great work in America for poor kids in Arkansas City and he became a friend of mine. Both his parents have Ph.Ds, his sister has a Ph.D. He often says ‘I’m the failure in my family and I only have a university degree and I play football. My point is there are Nigerians who are like this all over the world. What you have to figure out is how to keep those people in Nigeria and how to ensure their success leads on into the rest of the country. So, I think solving the economic divide that is in your country will help the political divide; making better use of your resources.”
L-R: Chairman/Editor-in-Chief, THISDAY Newspapers, Prince Nduka Obaigbena; Recipient, Life-time Achievement Award, Oba Adedapo Tejuoso; former President, United States of America, Bill Clinton; and Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, during the 18th THISDAY Teachers Awards, at Abeokuta, Ogun State. Photo: Kunle Ogunfuyi
Former US president Bill Clinton further said, “There has to be a way to take the staggering intellectual and organizational ability that Nigerians exhibit in every country in the world in which they are immigrant and bring it to bear here so that the country as a whole can rise. One of the people on my trip with me today who unfortunately could not come up here because he had to go to visit his family is a young Nigerian-American, named Nnamdi.”
Nnamdi, as Clinton referred to him played for NFL football fields, and became an All Pro cornerback for the Oakland Raiders. Nnamdi Asomugha was born in America and his both parents are from Nigeria.
"Asomugha was born in Lafayette, Louisiana to parents of Igbo descent and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California and Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, California before transferring to and graduating from Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California, playing high school basketball and football. Asomugha is of Nigerian descent.
Asomugha attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he finished his career with 187 tackles, three sacks, 19 stops for losses, eight interceptions, three touchdowns, 15 pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 41 games as a free safety. In addition to football, Nnamdi also proved highly intelligent in the classroom. Asomugha stayed all four years at University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Degree in corporate finance. Asomugha often cites the important role both his parents education played in his life, citing their doctoral degrees in engineering and pharmacy as motivation for his own studies." (Wikipedia)
Nnamdi Asomugha of Oakland raiders. Photo by Jeff Lewis
"Nnamdi Asomugha created the Asomugha Foundation to provide a positive impact on the disadvantaged youth in the U.S. and the underprivileged orphans and widows in Africa through education and empowerment.
The Asomugha Foundation has two focuses. OWIN, Orphans and Widows in Need in Nigeria, where Asomugha is from, and ACTS, Asomugha College Tour for Scholars. Asomugha takes high school students on college tours to encourage them to peruse a higher education. Asomugha, who played football and basketball at Narbonne high school and went on to play football at Cal (Berkeley), emphasized education when he was a student," as reported by Jason Lewis, Sentinel Sports Editor.
On the importance of advance education, Nnamdi Asomugha once said, “When you have a college degree, that always helps with the people that are hiring you, they know that you were determined and that you were able to get that degree while being active in other things. That speaks volumes to a lot of business owners and people who are hiring.”
Clinton acknowledged that Nigeria has a great potential and said “When I became President, my Secretary for Commerce did a lot of work in Africa before he was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1995. I told him to make the list of the 10 most important countries in the world for the 21st century and Nigeria was in the list. Imagine the future of the entire continent if Nigeria fails or South Africa fails. So, you are a country of great potential.”
Nigeria must target poverty in nation to stop violence now sweeping - Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that Nigeria must do more to alleviate the extreme poverty across the nation’s predominantly Muslim north in order to halt the wave of bombings, shootings and kidnappings by Islamic extremists there.
Clinton’s comment comes as Islamic terror groups have claimed the kidnappings of foreigners in recent days from the region and Nigeria’s weak central government appears unable to contain the spreading violence. He said that poverty remains the main driver for the attacks and needs to be addressed by strong local and federal government programs.
Extremists from a radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram killed at least 792 people last year in Nigeria, according to an Associated Press count. Fighters who said they belong to Boko Haram claimed responsibility Monday for the kidnapping of seven French tourists in northern Cameroon. Ansaru, which analysts believe is a splinter group from Boko Haram, has claimed the kidnappings of seven foreigners — a British citizen, a Greek, an Italian, three Lebanese and one Filipino — all employees of a Lebanese construction company named Setraco.
“You have to somehow bring economic opportunity to the people who don’t have it,” Clinton said Tuesday. “You have all these political problems — and now violence problems — that appear to be rooted in religious differences and the all the rhetoric of the Boko Harams and others, but the truth is the poverty rate in the north is three times of what it is in Lagos,” Nigeria’s largest city.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton at the annual ThisDay awards ceremony, in Abeokuta, Nigeria, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba) -
Clinton said that oil-rich Nigeria, which earns billions of dollars from its oil industry and is a major supplier to the U.S., must not take a “divide the pie” approach toward attacking poverty. That appeared to be a subtle reference to the endemic corruption that envelopes government and private industry in the country.
“It’s a losing strategy,” the former president said. “You have to figure out a way to have a strategy that will have share prosperity.”
Poverty is endemic in Nigeria, and corruption has siphoned away billions in oil earnings since the country began exporting crude more than 50 years ago. Government statistics show that in Nigeria’s northwest and northeast, regions besieged by Islamic insurgents, about 75 percent of the people live in poverty.
Analysts say that poverty, despite decades of military rule by leaders from the north, coupled with a lack of formal education has driven the region’s exploding youth population toward extremism. Those attacks also have strained relations between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
Clinton spoke Tuesday in Abeokuta as part of an awards ceremony put on by ThisDay newspaper and its flamboyant publisher Nduka Obaigbena, who has invited the former president several times to Nigeria, along with other celebrities. The event, put on by a newspaper publisher sometimes accused by his staff of not paying them from months at a time, was also attended by former Nigeria military ruler and President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .
The year 1914 has a dual significance for the world and Nigeria. For the world because it marked the beginning of the First World War and for our nation because it was the year of the amalgamation of the Colony of Lagos with the Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria to form one Nigeria as we are today.
We may not know how much importance the world attaches to a World War that is fast vanishing in our memory, but Nigerians do recognise that 1914 was the year of our “creation” as a country by the British colonial masters. The name Nigeria was suggested by Flora Shaw, mistress of our first Governor-General, Lord Frederick Lugard, in 1898. Flora of course would later become Lugard’s wife.
Already, to celebrate this milestone in January next year, the Federal Government has set up a committee to coordinate what promises to be a huge event. A centenary in the life of any nation is a major landmark. The fact that our nation survived all the vicissitudes of existence; including natural and man-made disasters is one good reason to celebrate. We’ve had our fair share of internal conflicts and a long spell of bad leadership, but that should not deny us a celebration even if a period like this calls for more introspection.
But let’s go back a bit into history. What later evolved as Nigeria were a number of small and large kingdoms scattered around the River Niger area. These kingdoms were governed by local chiefs, obas, emirs and clan heads. Some, like the Benin Kingdom, had diplomatic relations and trade contacts with European nations like the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal as far back as the middle ages until the scramble for Africa after the continent was partitioned at the Berlin Conference of 1885.
After the abolition of slave trade, Europeans shifted their attention to trade to feed their home industries with raw materials from Africa. This was the venture the Royal Niger Company was engaged in at the initial period when Lugard represented it in the colony.
But gradually, the company became involved in the administration of the protectorates, systematically and consciously eroding the authority of the native authorities until Her Majesty’s government exerted full colonial authority over the entire territory through the amalgamation in 1914 with Lugard as the first Governor General. In a nutshell, this is the evolution of our nation, but it is by no means exhaustive.
Before the big party in January 2014, let us for a moment examine the legacies of colonisation, and what we have done to preserve and build on them. That should be the basis for any worthwhile celebration. To embark on a festival of this scale without some critical soul-searching at a time when the same nation we intend to celebrate is showing strains of failure is a contradiction in terms; a barren exercise, so to speak.
Whatever the downside of colonisation the British united this country; brought us development, set up the armed services, built public utilities and social infrastructures too numerous to count, and gave us a political system to pilot the ship of state. The judiciary, civil service, the prison system, industrial estates, plantations, the produce boards, organised import and export trade, the oil and manufacturing industries, the ports and aerodrome (airports) -- the airways, taxation and excise duties are all the legacies of the colonial administration.
It would be remiss not to mention the academic institutions; the University College, Ibadan, the technical colleges, trade centres, grammar schools, teacher training colleges, sanitary inspectors, forest guards and public buildings like the cabinet office, the railway, roads network etc. They are all part of our colonial heritage.
As we therefore commence plans to celebrate the centenary, we should be honest to ask ourselves: What have we done with these great legacies? Have we built on them like other colonised countries did, or have we destroyed this goodly heritage? One only needs to look at the nation’s infrastructure and development landscape to get the answer.
One hundred years down the road, we cannot point to a single national institution from the colonial days that is currently in a state of operational excellence. Our public infrastructure are so badly run down that it may take decades of diligent rebuilding and remodelling to restore them to their pristine glory. The inefficiency and general neglect of public utilities are so glaring and common place that many local and international observers conclude that Nigeria is a place where nothing works.
The railway has not expanded beyond where the British left it. Many of the wagons still in use are outdated; some railway tracks have been completely abandoned. It is not unusual to find some railway lines taken over by squatters, some of whom have built houses on them. Our water ways have equally been neglected as there has been no significant improvement in water transportation, a key component of maritime trade in any modern economy.
What has damaged the legacies of the infrastructure left by the British is our poor maintenance culture. We’d rather replace than repair because there’s more room for corrupt enrichment in replacement of components than in fixing them. Most of our big public institutions are junk yards of abandoned vehicles and machineries left to rot away because of minor faults.
On the plus side, our country has made giant strides in several spheres since independence in 1960. We have demonstrated a great capacity to absorb shocks, and our resilience is one of the good things the world admires about us. Our recovery rate from the 30-month civil war is as amazing as our forgiving spirit. It is only in Nigeria that a former rebel leader was given the platform to contest for the presidency of the country he fought against.
It is true that our politics is often noisy and violent, but after the first republic debacle, we seemed to have discovered how to keep the nation from blowing up whenever it sails close to the precipice. And now, the jinx of civilian-to-civilian succession has been broken finally. Gone are the days when opposition politicians instigated the army to take over because they lost elections. Our democracy despite the profligacy of our politicians is maturing, slowly but steadily.
We are a nation with enormous potential that are yet to be fully tapped. Our human and natural resources, a population of 167 million, vibrant market, and a vegetation rich in biodiversity guarantee our future as an emerging economy.
Nigeria has a lot to celebrate but we are not there yet. We are still a work-in-progress like every nation, but the pace of development is painfully slow. Bad leadership, endemic corruption and misapplication of resources stand between us and the rapid progress which our peer nations have made.
A century after we became one country, we are yet to find the right formula to manage our vast human and natural resources in a way that ensures even development across the country and equitable distribution of wealth to our people. That is one great challenge we must look at as we begin to celebrate the centenary, it is not about voting huge sums to build monuments.
The question on everybody’s lips is this: How can Nigeria translate its resources into development? Perhaps, the unexpected victory of the Super Eagles at the just concluded African Cup of Nations in South Africa may inspire in us a winning mentality which we need to turn this country around. The victory of these boys on the eve of our centenary celebration is one of the best gifts we could have. Beyond the euphoria of the soccer exploit every Nigeria should learn from the determination of these boys; their self-belief when nobody gave them a chance.
But the capacity of our people as a whole to reinvent this nation is the miracle we need today as we prepare for the great celebration. So, like the Super Eagles our country men must change their wrong attitude towards this country; our politicians must stop the looting spree and concentrate on the onerous task of rebuilding our great nation. Nigeria deserves no less, and it expects no less, even if we are far less than we ought to be at 100.
Chris Okotie is a former musician, a social critic and presently a christian pastor.
A Zambian energy corporation - Copperbelt Energy is a buying a stake at the tune of $164 million in Nigeria's Electricity Distribution Company that is headquartered in Abuja, the country's federal capital.
Copperbelt Energy Corporation is a "Zambian investor, developer and operator of energy infrastructure in Africa by providing innovative solutions and building strategic partnerships through committed professional teams".
Reuters News reported that, "Zambia's Copperbelt Energy Corporation said on Monday its Kann Utility joint venture would pay $164 million for a 60 percent stake in Nigeria's Abuja Electricity Distribution Company. Kann is half owned by the Zambian power company and half owned by XerXes Global Investments."
About Copperbelt Energy Corporation:
Copperbelt Energy Corporation operates and maintains a network comprising transmission, distribution and generation assets and a control centre on the copperbelt.
CEC’s transmission and distribution network consists of 900 kilometres of overhead lines and 38 high voltage substations. The current carrying capacity of the network is in excess 700MW. CEC also serves the region by operating an interconnector with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), through which power is wheeled to Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Formed in 1997 from privatisation of ZCCM
Business: Electricity utility operating on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia
Supply of power to mines
Power transmission for ZESCO and SNEL (DRC)
Telecommunications (Carrier of carriers on the Copperbelt)
900km of 220kV and 66kV transmission lines
80MW of gas turbine generation
38 major substations
520km of optic fibre on power lines
A peak demand of 487MW was achieved in November 2010
Demand is projected to increase to 750-800 MW by 2012
Power wheeled for other parties
270MW in respect of ZESCO Copperbelt loads
210MW in respect of SNEL exports to SAPP
source: CEC website
According to Pew Research center, "The Catholic Church has 1.1 billion adherents worldwide, representing half of the global Christian population."
Congo is the only country in Africa to make the list of ten countries with Largest number of Catholics. Nigeria is the 15th nation in the list of the largest number of Catholics.
Nigeria will earn less for its oil and struggle to replace reserves unless it can end years of industry stagnation, at a time its biggest customer is becoming self-sufficient and African rivals are boosting supplies. A domestic energy boom in the United States has already sharply cut demand for Nigerian oil, while legal uncertainty, political wrangling, corruption and insecurity plague an oil industry which is still Africa's biggest.
In addition, rivals on the continent - both East and West - are fast catching up, and hungry for returns to boost their smaller economies they are tempting foreign oil and gas companies with better terms and fewer bottlenecks than Nigeria. "Nigeria has multiple problems in its oil game - it has failed to meet reserve growth and production targets for many years ... while competition grows worldwide," said Duncan Clarke, Head of African oil experts Global Pacific & Partners.
"High crude prices have shielded Nigeria of late - but this may not last forever, and its reputation as the proverbial Land-of-No-Tomorrow continues."
With oil accounting for around 80 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of foreign exchange reserves, Africa's second largest economy is vulnerable to any negative shifts in oil and gas prices and demand.
The U.S. accounted for 35 percent of oil exports from Nigeria in 2011. But it imported around 40 percent less last year, taking purchases from Nigeria to their lowest in over 20 years, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a U.S. government agency.
This drop in demand has already resulted in Nigerian barrels selling for around 40 cents lower than its official selling price and left dozens of cargoes unsold and rolled over to future months, according to research by Africa's Ecobank.
"Nigeria must make increased efforts to capture more of the rapidly growing Asian market," said Kayode Akindele, partner at Lagos-based financial adviser 46 Parallels.
"A big issue is that the growing East African oil and gas industry will prove to be a serious competitor, especially given its proximity to key Asian markets compared to Nigeria."
There have been around 70 discoveries in sub-Saharan Africa in the last five years with the majority coming in East African countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.
Around 250 trillion cubic feet of natural gas may lie off those three countries alone, the US Geological Survey estimates.
Several East African LNG plants are expected to come online in the next 5 years, while Nigeria with similar gas reserves has stalled a new LNG project for the last 8 years, seeing oil major partners Chevron and Conoco give up stakes.
Shell has sold onshore oil blocks in Nigeria but is seeking to expand elsewhere in Africa. West African neighbor Ghana recently became an oil producer.
"There is a finite amount of money to be invested by oil and gas majors in the short to medium term, and Nigeria needs a slice of that cake," Mutiu Sunmonu, Shell's Nigeria country head, told an investor conference last week.
"The competitive landscape has changed ... Nigeria cannot afford to miss the boat."
Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke looked to ease concerns last week when she told bankers and oil firms that Nigeria was entering "a new dawn to boost investment and production."
Alison-Madueke said Nigeria would fix its ailing refineries, expand oil and gas output, tackle insecurity in the Niger Delta and ensure the passage of a landmark energy law, which would make it competitive with rival producers. The minister made similar promises when she took office in 2010 but many targets have been missed.
Nigeria loses $6 billion annually to crude theft, offshore piracy is on the rise and oil majors say it's operating costs are among the most expensive globally. Energy consultants Wood Mackenzie forecast Nigeria's oil production could drop by 20 percent by 2020 because years of delay to a Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) have blocked tens of billions of dollars in exploration investment.
Oil majors say they can't invest in major new projects until the PIB is passed and if it is passed as it stands with higher taxes, then new investment will be deterred. The Chinese have some interest in Nigeria through Addax, owned by Sinopec, which has said it wants to buy more onshore fields.
Two Nigerian oil firms last week said they did not think the PIB will ever become law because of vested interests blocking progress and an insurmountable gulf between oil firms, lawmakers and the oil ministry over terms. Nigeria state oil firm NNPC is at the centre of the country's energy business but is blighted by under-funding and corruption, according to several government probes.
But around half of sub-Saharan oil output still comes from Nigeria and oil firms say it could comfortably double crude production and unlock the world's ninth-largest gas reserves if Alison-Madueke comes good on her promises.
Changing global oil dynamics still offer an opportunity.
"Declining U.S. demand provides yet another incentive for the Nigerian government to conduct the reforms needed to reduce the losses, leakages and general dysfunction," said Roddy Barclay, West African analyst at Control Risks.
"(If not taken) investor appetite will remain muted by the array of complex political, operational and security risks that will continue to characterize Nigeria's oil sector."
(Editing by James Jukwey, Richard Mably)
Dear Mr President,
I am writing this piece upon my return from Maiduguri "The Seat of the Kanuris" "Home of Hospitality". Maiduguri, a once bustling town for beehive of commerce: for trader’s en-route to Lake Chad for buying and selling of fish. The only city Othman Dan Fodio could neither conquer nor capture in his jihad conquest. Maiduguri, Nigeria international gateway to Chad [Gamboru Ngala], has suddenly turn into a city that has to go to sleep by 6:00pm.
The once proud Kanuri's has being forced into recluse; the menace of Boko Haram on the economy off Borno State is beyond my permutation. From a political thug created by the former state governor Senator Ali Modu Sheriff 'ECOMOG', this political thug metamorphoses into Africa's second deadliest Islamic sect.
They have virtually turned Maiduguri nay the entire North Eastern part of Nigeria into a no go area. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, despite security warnings dare the Boko Haram enclave, he went, he saw, he dialogue. Your Vice-President Arc Namadi Sambo also briefly visited Maiduguri.
But sir, your Excellency haven't dare to step into Maiduguri [the Boko Haram enclave] to see for yourself the magnitude of human, materials and environmental destruction the Boko Haram has unleashed on the hapless citizens of the North East zone of Nigeria.
2015 presidency is now a ding-dong, if eventually your party [PDP] fielded you and you sail through as the PDP flag-bearer, will you be in Maiduguri for hustling? May be Aso Rock Villa's hillock is shielding your Excellency. It is time, you dare the Boko Haram, visit Maiduguri, your Excellency and behold a once 'Pearl of the Kanuri's' turned to 'Darkness at Noon'.
In raising the American flag on the Japanese Island of Iwojima, by the US Marines, the allied commander General Arthur Mac-Douglas, described Japan's 'kamikaze' divine wind' [the once supposedly invincible wind],as a defeated man made wind!
The sects are not faceless, endure your Excellency and pay a visit to Maiduguri, enough of this annihilation of defenseless and hapless Maiduguri citizens. Senator Alimodu Sheriff is still alive same goes to some senior serving National Assembly members, senior government [federal and state] officials and businessmen who have being indicted for aiding and sponsoring these sects.
In the heat of Iraq war, former US President, George Bush, was in Baghdad. Borno State is part of your constituency and your Excellency should not watch the state reduce to rubles. Maiduguri is at standstill, with fear all over. Commercial activities [especially the internationalfish trading market] are gradually going and have been paralyzed. It is indeed a sad scenario seeing Maiduguri, a once thriving city going under, no thanks to the Boko Haram malaise.
Mr President, you are the last man standing not to have visited Maiduguri [the Boko Haram enclave], your deputy has dared, your visit may and hopefully calm the sects. Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying at his ashram to Lord Irwin "when your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in his Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our country but those of the whole world".
Mr President, try Mahatma Gandhi's ashram meeting with Lord Irwin and visit the Boko Haram, dare them!
Enough of these wanton killings and destruction!
Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi.
Country Representative; Whisper Poetry.
Cells:+234  812-148-2077.
+234  816-950-3218.