Tuesday 06 March 2018 10 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 COMMENT MAZI SAM OHUABUNWA OFR firstname.lastname@example.org Last week the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released what looked like the periodic table which we used in the O-level Chemistry class to determine the valency of metallic elements, announcing the dates of elections in Nigeria up to 2043 or so. Some people saw this as a strategic and audacious move of projecting the future. Indeed INEC said they did this to bring some certainty to election dates in Nigeria. Many other commentators have mocked INEC for ‘forming work’, that is pretending to be working when actually there is no work being done. They think that INEC is leaving the substance and pursuing the shadow. Some think all this was INEC’s response to the “effrontery” of the National Assembly in trying to change the sequence of elections in Nigeria. The executive is decidedly unhappy about this and it looks INEC has gone on overdrive to project the president’s desire. But there is little INEC can do, as it is their lot to implement the laws made by the National Assembly and not to make laws themselves. Some believe that INEC should spend its time and budget in tackling existing problems like a dispassionate and truthful STRATEGY & POLICY MA JOHNSON Johnson is a marine project management consultant and Chartered Engineer. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, UK. Nineteen years after the country’s transition to civil rule, attempt to consolidate democracy and whatever gains it has provided to the citizenry is still faced with numerous challenges. The challenges include conduct of free and fair elections, creating and strengthening democratic culture, institutions and practices. The infrastructural inadequacies, deteriorating standards of public educational and health services, high rate of youth unemployment, widespread indices of violent crimes, and continuing disconnect between the citizens and the government pose serious challenges to the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. The journey has been very tortuous. Nigerians were in dare need of politicians that would bring positive change to their comment is free Send 800word comments to email@example.com INEC: Underestimating the challenges to the 2019 investigation of the widely reported underage voting in parts of the North especially Kano during the 2015 elections and continued registration of the under-aged currently going on in those parts of Nigeria. This could have marred the 2015 elections and caused post election crisis were it not for the single minded determination of Goodluck Jonathan to avoid any bloodshed. In 2019, the combatants may not be as peace- seeking or in the language of Charley boy as “mumu” like Jonathan. It is further felt that if 2015 elections were expected to test Nigeria’s unity following several prophesies and theories, we do not need any other prophet to tell us that 2019 may be the 2015 that was prophesied. This is because at no time in recent history did we approach an election season with so much anomie in the land. Nigeria is currently so disunited and dysfunctional that anything worse than this will require a new definition of disunity. In 2015, we had some internally displaced persons camps (IDPs) in the North East only but as we approach 2019 we have IDP camps in the North East (courtesy Boko Haram), North West (courtesy Zamfara Bandits), North Central (courtesy Militant Fulani Herdsmen ), South East (courtesy militant Fulani Herdsmen and kidnappers), South West (courtesy militant Fulani herdsmen and Badoo cultists), South South (courtesy militant Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and militant oil thieves). How will INEC handle this logistics nightmare should occupy INEC instead of acting as Nostradamus- the man who saw the future. There is so much uncertainty regarding 2019 elections that it may ...there is so much work INEC needs to occupy itself with now and should stop amusing us with setting date for 2045 election when there is so much uncertainty about 2019 not be worth my time thinking of what will happen in 2023, not to talk of 2043. First, many nationalities in Nigeria have taken positions regarding the future of Nigeria. Many still believe that there is some benefit in Nigeria remaining one big country with many nationalities. But some believe that for that to happen, the country has to be restructured in order to cure it of the chronic instability, corruption, profligacy and dysfunction that has brought it almost to its knees since the military usurped power in 1966 and dislocated the arrangement made by the founders of modern Nigeria for a viable, thriving and mutually beneficial federation. Some other nationalities especially in the core North feel that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria or its structure and will like to see Nigeria wobble from one crisis to another and continue to shed innocent blood daily perhaps to satisfy thirsty deities foistered on this country by the workers of iniquity. And then there are some other nationalities that feel that Nigeria is a lost cause. They look at the contradictions-ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance, manifest injustice, entrenched greed and the ‘we must rule or baboons and monkey be soaked in their blood’ mentality and Why is Nigeria so unlucky? lives. So, in 2015, they elected politicians who promised to revamp the nation’s economy, improve security and wipe out corruption. Corruption is still rearing its ugly head despite the onslaught provided by the federal government to wipe it out. The states and local governments are spectators in the anti-corruption warfare. The Transparency International (TI) report for 2017 ranked Nigeria 146 out of 180 countries sampled in 2017. As expected of any critical issue, the presidency dismissed the report saying “it is a “fiction” sponsored by critics of the federal government.” Hmm! The presidency did not know that other tiers of government- legislature and judiciary are not involved in the fight against corruption. But the Vice President (VP), Yemi Oshibajo, welcomed the report, saying, it is a catalyst for Nigeria to do better in its fight against corruption rather than a setback. Thank goodness, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) saved Nigeria from embarrassment. He knew that the report of TI on corruption will further dent the image of Nigeria in the international community if no one in the government accepted it. That Nigeria is still a corrupt nation is a truth which is difficult and bitter to swallow. There is no doubt that the anti-corruption policy of the federal government is necessary given the escalating level of corruption in the public space. It is selective prosecutions that compelled Nigerians to lose faith in the credibility of the anti-corruption policy. Whatever views the federal government holds, the report rendered by the Transparency International is not too far from the truth. Then came the mother of all reports which is the latest release by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The report simply says “more Nigerians are getting poorer.” It was shocking because the economy is just out of recession with slowly reducing double-digit inflation. Though, inflation is reducing slowly but the minimum wage is still N18000 (US$50/month) in a nation that has devalued its local currency. Some state governments are owing their workers arrears of salaries, while many pensioners are living on hope. Although, Mr President has good intentions to reduce poverty level in Nigeria, but good intentions alone will not reduce poverty, sound economic policies do. Instead of arguing, the federal government should examine its economic policies and reappraise them to address challenges reflected in the IMF report. The federal government should not wait for 180 million people to be poor before accepting that Nigerians are getting poorer. After all, unemployment and underemployment are increasing. Anyway, the Bretton Wood institution advised that with good economic policies, the economy will muddle through in the medium term despite rise in the price of crude oil in the international market. The risks to growth were however highlighted to include delays in implementing policies and they conclude that the only lasting solution is to let the nationalities go their separate ways in peace. To this last group belongs Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB and many from his nationality. Today, I hear that many other nationalities especially in south-south and the middle belt share this view point, having tasted a little of what the South East has suffered in the Nigerian federation for years. So it is clear that we are going into 2019 a fractured country with different nationalities holding different views about the future. While some are willing to have discussions on what to do, first to avoid any cataclysm that may be imminent and second on how to rearrange the relationships to assure future prosperity of all stakeholders in the federation, some have already become impatient that they are already taking it out on the rest of us by different acts of violence and malfeasance. This is evident in the current state of affairs in Nigeria where it is as if we are in a state of war, one new killing field every day and yet some people think all is well. I think INEC should begin to create scenarios as to what will happen if the election does not hold in 2019. That is a possibility. Some nationalities have insisted that there will be no elections in 2019 if the restructuring of Nigeria does not happen, resulting in a new constitution before elections. They opine that the cosmetic piecemeal amendments of the 1999 Constitution being undertaken by the legislature is only begging the issue and only a brand new constitution written by the true representatives of the federating nationalities will satisfy their demand. The government certainly does not take that kind of threat lightly reforms ahead of 2019 elections, fall in oil prices which could see capital flows reversed, and security challenges within the country. Security challenges in Nigeria is overwhelming as most newspapers reported stories on the abduction of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State on 22 February 2018. The exact number of the victims abducted from the Government Science and Technical College, Dapchi, is not known as there are conflicting figures from the State Government and security agencies operating in Yobe State. In a situation like this, Nigerians expects the truth from those agencies saddled with the responsibility of providing security to the citizens. Sadly, the truth is always in short supply by appointed and elected public officials in times of calamity. Instead of accepting responsibility, government officials point accusing fingers at each other. This is a big shame to Nigeria because the incident gives an impression that the nation’s security system is in trouble. Although, information on the attack is scanty and hazy, it is suggestive that the attack was well planned. Some prominent federal lawmakers are blaming both the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force for failing to perform their duties in Dapchi. If our security agencies had learnt lessons from the abduction of 276 Chibok girls, it is most likely that this incident wouldn’t have occurred. Widely reported on the pages of most newspapers are conflicting and would rather prepare the military to undertake an operation ‘Elephant gyration’ to subdue any such nationalities. But my point is that there is so much real work INEC should be doing, instead of just ‘forming’ work. Over the weekend, I heard that a particular political party was doing ‘empowerment’ programs in my town and they were cajoling young men and women to come and collect money to start businesses or help themselves on the condition that they will drop their Permanent Voter’s Cards. Then on the election day, they would use the PVCs to vote for these ‘empowered’ young men and women. That is part of their desperation strategy to come to power in 2019. I do not know if INEC knows about this unique winning strategy by this particular political party? There must be other such devious strategies being devised by other political parties to win the elections in 2019. How does INEC prepare to counter these moves? How are they preparing to stay ahead of all the party efforts to bend or break the rules? Now INEC has registered so many new parties and many more are angling for registration. By 2019, we may have 200 parties on the ballot. How will INEC deal with all these new parties including Obasanjo’s coalition for Nigeria? These are serious tasks for INEC and my main point worth repeating is that there is so much work INEC needs to occupy itself with now and should stop amusing us with setting date for 2045 election when there is so much uncertainty about 2019. Send reactions to: firstname.lastname@example.org reports that have characterized the abduction. Those whose main responsibility it is to inform Nigerians are neck deep into a blame game. Rather than seek a solution to an unfortunate incidence, elected and appointed government officials point accusing fingers at each other. That is the trend in the government. Frankly, this ugly incident does not portray Nigeria in good light. The federal government must unravel the mystery behind this heinous crime. When this writer x- rays the above man-made challenges in a fragile economy, the question that agitates his mind is: Why is Nigeria so unlucky? In order to overcome aforementioned challenges, there is need to have a securenation in which consolidation of democratic culture can be strengthened. Additionally, security is required for economic activities that will aid the development of the economic, social and political conditions of communities, group, and individuals in the nation. The security agencies have a very crucial role to play in guaranteeing the requisite safe and secure environment for the consolidation of democracy and sustainable economic development in Nigeria. I hereby solemnly advise those running the government that democracy in Nigeria must not fail! Send reactions to: comment@businessdayonline.
Tuesday 06 March 2018 COMMENT RAFIQ RAJI “Dr Raji is chief economist at Macroafricaintel. He was previously an Africa Economist at Standard Chartered Bank, London, UK. (Twitter: @ DrRafiqRaji)” A number of African countries remain insecure. And no African country could be said to be totally secure. It is a matter of degree. A sudden change in circumstance has been known to spur protests that sometime get out of hand. These crises are sometimes occasioned by opportunists long searching for just the right moment to open old wounds, settle a score or achieve a political objective; with terrorism increasingly becoming the means of choice. (The current precarious security situation in Nigeria is a pertinent example.) Some crises or protests have been spurred by simpler things, however; like higher cost of living, in Tunisia and Sudan, for instance. A few years ago, it was the same reason that led to protests in Egypt and indeed Tunisia; which eventually toppled incumbent governments and replaced them with new ones. There was not so much of a revolution in Egypt, though. After electing an Islamist-oriented leadership, the C002D5556 comment is free Send 800word comments to email@example.com Post-crisis transitions: Liberia and Sierra Leone Egyptian military stepped in. Now, the army chief who led the charge is president and up for “re-election”. Better progress was recorded in Tunisia. But judging from recent agitations, a more representative government has not been enough to assuage the angst of Tunisians about the hard times they face. Much earlier, countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, Mozambique, and Ivory Coast suffered bouts of war and unrest of varying length and degree. Now they are mostly stable countries with elected or acceptable governments. Good progress Liberia had its first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another in January 2018. Sierra Leoneans go to the polls on 7 March to elect a new president, as incumbent leader Ernest Bai Koroma completes his maximum two terms in office. Angola has a new head of state, Joao Lourenco, after a fourdecade rule by Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Mr Lourenco has proved to be his own man less than a year into his rule. He removed erstwhile powerful scions of the dos Santos family from influential positions at the state oil company and sovereign wealth fund. Initial fears that an assertive Lourenco would meet with resistance from entrenched beneficiaries of the dos Santos era have proved to be misplaced. The response to the ongoing reforms in Angola has been positive within Despite the not too stellar record of outgoing President Koroma, Mr Kamara, who has the overt backing of the main foreign benefactor of the state (China), is still expected to win; albeit likely by a slim margin and outside the country. In Ivory Coast, another transition looms as President Alassane Ouattara concludes his final term in office. Last time there was a transition, it ended in civil war; as former president, Laurent Ggagbo, refused to accept his election defeat. The costs of that civil war remain. Rebels loyal to Mr Ouattara that were inducted into the military have been incorrigibly mutinous, for instance. Peacekeeping, justice and democracy Clearly, some post-crisis transitions have been better than others. Two stand out, though: Sierra Leone and Liberia. There was a time when the stability that currently prevails in these two countries was thought unthinkable. So how and why did they succeed? Sustained international support, a diminished male population from past civil wars and health epidemics, and memories of the negative consequences of conflict are some of the reasons why. Interventions by the international community in Liberia and Sierra Leone endured due to circumstances; albeit unfortunately so. The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) lasted for six years; from 1999 to 2006. That for Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), is scheduled to withdraw by end-March this year; about fifteen years after it was established in September 2003. The UN missions were presaged by West African peacekeeping efforts. In 1990, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) established the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) to restore peace in then war-ravaged Liberia. Seven years after, ECOMOG was similarly deployed to Sierra Leone to quell another civil war. These international efforts, which were not devoid of controversy, contributed a great deal to the relatively successful democratic dispensations in both countries thus far. Removing former Liberian president, Charles Taylor – a key antagonist in both wars – from the scene has certainly been beneficial; albeit more relevant for the Liberian case than that for Sierra Leone. A substantially reduced male population on the back of these murderous civil wars meant either democracy or autocracy prevailed depending on the post-conflict dynamics. When the key players in the civil wars were prosecuted, the reduced testosterone count allowed democracy to thrive. When the “victors” of these wars were left to their own devices, autocracy prevailed; BUSINESS DAY like in Rwanda and Angola. 11 Salone decides And in Liberia and Sierra Leone, just when the peace seemed to have endured irrevocably, disaster struck again. The ebola epidemic between December 2013 and January 2016 took more than eleven thousand lives; mostly in the two countries but also in Guinea and a few in Nigeria, Mali and Senegal. Despite these troubles, Liberia conducted a successful poll in late 2017 and made its first civilian-to-civilian transition in early 2018. Sierra Leone, which would be conducting its first post- Ebola presidential election in early March, may prove similarly successful; largely a 3-way race between Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), former UN under-secretary-general Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition and foreign minister Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party candidate. Despite the not too stellar record of outgoing President Koroma, Mr Kamara, who has the overt backing of the main foreign benefactor of the state (China), is still expected to win; albeit likely by a slim margin. Mr Yumkella is one to watch, though. (I wrote a piece on the Sierra Leone polls for the March 2018 edition of African Business magazine; available at newsstands.) Send reactions to: firstname.lastname@example.org CHIBUZOR ONWURAH Onwurah writes from Lagos, Nigeria. He is an Executive Director at SEAMFIX - email@example.com. Twitter- @conwurah1 The need for data Debisi Araba, Regional Director for Africa at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) once said that African agriculture needs site-specific solutions, noting that “…key to that is the collection, sharing, and analysis of farm data from all over the continent.” He went further to stress the need on why African farmers must look out for their farms like never before. Statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, assessment of food insecurity through the lenses of “hunger experience”, reveals that 153 million individuals, about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15. Farming as the primary source of food and income for Africans, provides up to 60 percent of all jobs on the continent. Further forecasts indicate that food production in sub-Saharan Africa needs to increase by 60 percent over the next 15 years to feed a growing population. For this reason alone, there is Transforming agriculture in Africa through data: BioRegistra as an enabler an absolute need for every stakeholder in the agricultural sector to be involved in its transformation, from research organizations to government parastatals, investors, various agricultural schemes, and farmers themselves. Endeavours thus far… Thumbs must be raised to the Kenyan Government for its combined efforts with GODAN Secretariat, G77 Secretariat, African Union (NEPAD) and the Platform of African Farmers’ Organizations (PAFO), towards: • Increase financial, human and technological capacities in the global south for agriculture and nutrition data with an emphasis on SDGs and CAADP. • Improve coordination of data for agriculture and nutrition across governments, private sector, and academia in the global south. • Harmonize policies that improve collection, coordination, use, dissemination of agriculture and nutrition data. • Provide a platform for peerlearning, co-creation and sharing of expertise and practices on proven success on the use of quality data and standards for agriculture and nutrition. • Create opportunities for the adoption of youth driven agricultural innovations within the public sector. • Facilitate networking and to showcase proven initiatives on open data for agricultural transformation. FAO, on its end, has a mandate in Africa to “intensify its efforts to develop Food and Agriculture Statistics in countries of the region, particularly in the conduct of national censuses of agriculture within a common framework of definitions, concepts, standards and guidelines to help countries generate databases that are internationally comparable and the provision of basic statistics on food security in a manner readily adaptable to understanding the food security situation”. It is encouraging to see that footsteps are being raised by certain bodies to place data as the frontrunner in bringing transformation to the agricultural space in Africa. The Farmer’s perspective of data While there is an outcry for more participation, there is a more urgent need for the “door opener”. For farmers to “look out for their farms like never before”, they need to be aware. Aware, in the sense that their decisions need to be influenced by the “truth”. The truth about crop performance, when to plant, weather conditions, etc. And in the age of decision making via technology, only data provides this truth. The availability of data makes it easier for farmers to make decisions based on facts, rather than trial-and-error. The more farmers know about their farms, the better the chances to solidify their supply channels. Although there is little mention of it, farmers have a yearning for data. When crops fail or when they realize they planted a crop under harsh weather conditions, they often wish they had known earlier. There is loss of money and time when the availability of data could have saved the day. The stakeholder’s perspective of data Stakeholders in the agricultural sector include outgrower schemes, agricultural finance organizations, researchers, and other government parastatals. outgrower schemes, when properly managed, are often a viable source of achieving sustainable agriculture. However, farmer data is often a challenge that these schemes encounter. It is therefore important to them to have robust solutions for collecting, tracking, and analysing farmer data. This data will then be used to facilitate the allocation of resources, as well as the continuous existence of the schemes. BioRegistra: Finding a place for both stakeholders and farmers The benefit of data isn’t limited to the collection of data, it lies in converting these data into powerful insights that will benefit all stakeholders, including the investors and the farmers. Hence, the need for robust solutions that make this possible. BioRegistra is an indigenous data capture solution that can be used to collect and analyse any form of data, including textual and biometric information. Farmers, for instance, can use the solution to collect crop data and analyse the yields in different fields within one farm. Those with multiple farms can compare the yields with same data from other farms, and what actions – such as the date of planting or fertilizer application levels – might be responsible for any differences. Stakeholders in the supply and value chain and outgrower scheme would find it especially useful because of its flexibility, as it can be tweaked to accommodate any requirement, be changed at will, and customized to suit their needs. The data of farmers is important to any investing scheme, including empowerment schemes like the African Development Bank (AfDB). BioRegistra makes it easy to capture these information from anywhere in the world, with features that let you create multiple capture agents in multiple locations. On the financial side of things, it is a platform that suits everyone involved, seeing that it is a budget solution for both large and smallscale businesses. Final note… Africa has an enormous task of feeding itself now and sustaining itself in the future. The journey to success therefore begins with data; it’s collection, distribution, and the endless exploitation of the insights that can be obtained from it. Send reactions to: firstname.lastname@example.org