• Roadmap for Developing Economies: A Conversation with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala

    27/Jan/2016 // 1011 Viewers

    Written by Akshan de Alwis, UN Correspondent


    Born to academics in what was then still a British colony, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was a teenager when civil war broke out in Nigeria seven years after independence, and she ended up working as a cook for the Biafran rebels on the frontlines. After leaving Nigeria to study economics at Harvard and then MIT, she spent two decades at the World Bank, eventually becoming a vice president. In 2003, Okonjo-Iweala returned to Nigeria to serve as finance minister in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, but she resigned in frustration in 2006. (To opponents of her reform agenda, she had become known as “Okonjo-Wahala,” a play on the Hausa word for “trouble.”) After another stint at the World Bank, this time as a managing director, she was invited back to Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 to head his economic team and once again take up the post of finance minister. With the election of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s President in March, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala now is a senior advisor at Lazard and the chair of the board of GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance.

    In this unique interview, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who served on the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, reveals thoughtful and insightful guidelines for other developing countries, and discusses overarching goals for the advancement of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    AD: During your tenure as Finance Minister, Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa, overtaking South Africa in 2014. You are credited with the measures taken to turn Nigeria around. The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) development plan has been highly influential throughout the developing world. What are the lessons that you can share with other developing nations, both in Africa and around the world?

    NOI: First of all, we tried to find out why has the country not been doing well all these years. You have to really dig. People talk very glibly about the lack of reforms or corruption and such, but you need to go beyond that—really get granular about why your country is not performing well. When we dug into it the first time in 2003, and did this study that lead to the NEEDS document and to the reform. It was finding out that one of the biggest sources of instability and lack of growth in the Nigerian economy—that had been growing at about 2.3 to 2.5 percent per annum, with a population growth rate of 2.8 percent—one of the biggest reasons was that we didn’t know how to manage volatility. Oil prices would go up, we’d spend everything, they’d then crash, and so on and so forth. So we really went to look at the core reason—no one had ever really done that in the country. The World Bank had done some studies, but none of the policy makers had really looked at this or paid attention. So when we tried to map this, we saw that our expenditures were volatile, incomes were volatile, GDP growth was volatile, and no country can reform with that kind of volatility. So of course we had to put in place a mechanism, and I think that was one of our biggest successes from the first time.

    AD: It must be difficult maintaining economic stability when so much of Nigeria’s success is associated with the current oil price? Despite having a massive oil industry, Nigeria famously struggled with paying back its outstanding debts to the IMF and Paris Club.

    NOI: The first concrete step was to bring in some macroeconomic stability into the economy, managing the fiscal framework much better. We put in place what they call an “oil-price-based fiscal rule,” which the linking of the way we budget to the price of oil and just smoothing out consumption and expenditures. So we put all those things in place, and you could see – the World Bank had estimated that Nigeria was losing three percentage points per year due to volatility, and lo-and-behold, when we developed something called the “Excess Crude Oil Account” into which we could just put the savings. When we decided to budget at an oil price lower than the one prevailing in the market, and delinked our budget from the volatility, we were able to save an amount over and above that price we used in the budget because oil prices were going up then – I saved them into a sort of stabilization fund, which we call the Excess Crude OilAccount, so in bad times we could draw on those savings to smooth our consumption. When we put all of these mechanisms into place, growth tripled – almost to six percent to seven percent per annum. So one of the key lessons is that macroeconomic stability matters – if you’re a natural resource producer, managing volatility matters, grappling with that matters.

    AD: Oil is an exhaustible resource, and ultimately rather volatile. There have also been significant efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy – to move away Nigeria’s economy from this central pillar of oil, right?

    NOI: Very much so. The second thing we tried to do or beginning to do was some of the structural reforms that would be necessary for the economy. We tried to look at what were the biggest sources of fiscal drain, we looked at enterprises, and we looked at those places in the economy where we needed to tackle issues that could unleash private sector investment. Or course, infrastructure was one of the big ones. So we started with telecommunications reform, brought in the private sector, auctioned licenses, and lo-and-behold, that whole sector was unleashed. And you could see the effects: it used to be 0.8 percent of GDP, by my second time around, it had grown to 9 percent of GDP. Huge. Just as an example, and then we started reforming the power sector, we started looking at some of the really special issues, and then of course, the government was over. I’ve captured a lot of this in my book. So the lessons are macro stability, structural reforms, and building institutions. If you want to sustain development, and leave a lasting impact, you really need to put in systems, processes, and institutions that will drive development going forward – same with the SDGs. We really started to look, what are the missing pieces? Our whole financial management framework, if you’re going to finance the SDGs, you need to diversify your economy away from one resource, you need to strengthen your revenue management framework, you need to present leakages. We put into place financial management systems with biometrics that really began to build a framework that would take us away from cash management with the problems of corruption and leakages to electronic management systems for finance.

    We also built institutions – you notice that in many developing countries, owning a home is not very easy. There is no robust mortgage system that works, like in America, the UK, and so on. This is also one of the reasons why people become corrupt – they try to steal money because they want to go and build their house, they don’t have any way to get money or resources, they have to save until the end of their working life before they’re able to own a home. That’s not really the way that it should be. In developed countries they tried to put in place a system so that you’re young, you get married, you can start paying, and by the time you retire you can own your home. So this is a big, institutional and social gap in many of our countries. So in Nigeria, the second time around, we tried to build the Nigerian mortgage refinance institution – a system that could begin to put liquidity into the mortgage system and allow our young people to have homes, that one day they can own a home. I also strongly believe that it contributes to tackling corruption, because all of the corruption of people stealing this and that is them trying to save up resources for homes and so on.

    AD: How do Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play into the economic landscape of Nigeria? Many developing nations have struggled to foster SMEs growth, as many lack access to capital they require to expand. What steps did you take to better incorporate SMEs into Nigeria’s economic growth?

    NOI: We also built, in order to finance SMEs – you find that they are excluded from the financial system; they don’t have access or it’s too expensive – so we built the Development Bank of Nigeria, and it’s just in its infancy now, but at full-fledge, it’s supposed to provide resources to SMEs so that they can begin to grow, since they’re the engine of job creation within the economy. This is another trend that is critically important: how do you foster growth within an economy, how do you help informal enterprises to grow and create more jobs, because often it’s not the huge businesses that create the most jobs. So building an institution that can begin to plug the gap and be sustainable – the same as many countries have done: the German’s have KfW, the American’s have the Small Business Administration. We don’t have these kind of things in our countries, and because we’re missing these institutions that means we continue to struggle. So the second lesson that I’d say we learned that is important for development is to really look for what is missing institutionally from your economic landscape, and try to put them in, because without those institutions built, you will not be able to develop. And then undertake the right structural reforms in those regulatory reforms, freeing up space for business that will enable your private investment to take place, because the government create the jobs needed. So you really need to the necessary things.

    AD: You’ve now left the Nigerian government twice – each time before all of your developments could yet come to full fruition. What other plans did you envision for Nigeria?

    NOI: The last thing I want to say that we have not yet done – we haven’t done it, so I’m not claiming it – but we seriously looked at this, because we saw that the type of growth that we were getting was coming with more inequality and was not creating enough jobs. So we got the growth finally, but when you looked at the quality of the growth, it wasn’t something that you could really be too happy about, because we have youth unemployment, the growth wasn’t creating enough jobs, and it was leading to more inequality, which is a problem that faces the whole world. So the last thing we’re doing is looking at the quality of that growth, to make sure that it’s being created in the right sectors that will create jobs, like agriculture for instance. We have a huge comparative advantage there, so trying to do the natural thing and enable growth in the agriculture sector and not just growth but development along the value chains to create jobs. Trying to encourage services, even the creative industries, like the film industry, the arts. And the thing with this sector is that it creates a lot of jobs without government help, this was happening on its own. But they were getting to the point where they needed additional help. Nigeria has developed a whole film industry, called Nollywood, which is the third largest in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood, and it’s created a lot of jobs – 200,000 direct jobs and about one million indirect jobs. So encouraging the film industry, which went from 0 percent of GDP ten years ago to about 1.4 percent now.

    We’re also working on a social safety net, for those at the very bottom of the ladder, because sometimes people are so down they cannot talk advantage of the economic improvements. So how do you pick them up and make sure that their children do not fall into the poverty trap all over again? So we’re looking at what the Brazilians, Colombians, and Mexicans have done so well. The building of a national social safety net centered around conditional cash transfers, and using that as a basis to make sure that we start transforming the lives of child at the bottom end of the income ladder by giving them, their parents, their mothers in-fact, cash-transfers to make sure they send them to school, get them immunized, and things like that so that the next generation would not also fall into poverty but have the tools to which to escape poverty. That last part is what we were working on when the government was over, and it’s something that some would suggest that some countries should look at if they really want to improve the quality of growth and move towards the SDGs.

    AD: Do you see developments like Mobile Banking as a potential vehicle to help with this process of normalizing growth?

    NOI: Mobile banking has taken off in places like Kenya like wildfire, and in Nigeria it’s taken off. It’s not as well as in Kenya, but it’s really helping. For instance, it’s also helping to fight corruption. One of the ways Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and current President of the African Development Bank, during my second time in government, got rid of the corruption in fertilizer and subsidies payments to farmers – there was a lot of corruption, so that only 11 percent of farmers were ever getting their subsidies and fertilizer – and what it was getting rid of the intermediaries, the middle-men and women who helped to distribute this fertilizer. What he did instead was develop an electronic wallet, such that farmers, through their mobile phones, would receive electronic vouchers, which they could send to the agro-dealer. The agro-dealer can now go to the bank and submit these vouchers and collect their money.

    AD: As the final word, you’ve passionately fought corruption throughout your career. What is the role of fighting corruption and illicit cash flows in achieving the SDGs?

    NOI: The size of the flows, not just African countries, but worldwide – is estimated at one trillion dollars a year according to International Financial Integrity. But even if you just look at the costs to Africa, 50 billion (from the Thabo Mbeki report on illicit financial flows) is significantly more than the aid flows to the continent. So in terms of the numbers, the issue of transparency, and the issue of fighting corruption, the world needs to pay very strong attention to this issue of illicit financing and illicit capital flows. Harnessing this will help with the financing of some of the goals of the SDGs.





    Diplomatic Courier

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  • Breaking News: Obama in deep mess, implicated barely one week he handed over

    27/Jan/2017 // 7617 Viewers

    Trump will find the truth

    We have spent the past 2 months hearing about how Russians were responsible for hacking the election process in order to let Trump win. Anyone paying attention knows this is a ridiculous claim.

    It was one more ploy in the left’s arsenal to discredit Trump. This one, Obama took way too far, issuing sanctions against Russia. He actually punished them for something they never did! Fortunately Putin did not respond aggressively.

    Democrats did not want to accept a Trump win, but could they have tampered with the election to try and prevent it? The answer is not only yes they could have, but yes they did. Or maybe there was more sinister motive, perhaps for revenge?

    Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees the voting systems, is a long-time vocal critic of Obama and Jeh Johnson. He spoke out against their attempt to designate local and state election machinery as part of federal “critical infrastructure.”

    John Roth, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), began an investigation into former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and his use of DHS systems on election night.

    Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Jody Hice co-signed a letter to Roth, asking him to open the investigation.

    Chaffetz, who also is the chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told Roth, “If these allegations are true, they implicate state sovereignty laws and various other constitutional issues, as well as federal and state criminal laws.”

    Kemp also wrote to then President-elect Donald Trump, telling him “I respectfully write today to request that you task your new Secretary of Homeland Security with investigating the failed cyberattacks against the Georgia Secretary of State’s network firewall.

    Johnson could have attempted the hack into the Georgia state voting system in order to influence the outcome of the election in that state. Johnson never would have done this alone. Obama would have ordered and possibly even overseen the operations.

    In a letter to Brian Kemp, Roth outlined the scope of the investigation; “a series of ten alleged scanning events of the Georgia Secretary of State’s network that may have originated from DHS-affiliated IP addresses.”
    The “scans” are designed to test security weaknesses in a network. It’s the electronic equivalent of “rattling doorknobs” to see if they’re unlocked. Or, to send a message to a recipient.

    Georgia had firewall systems in place that stopped all 10 of the attacks before they could do any damage. Georgian IT specialists were able to trace the 10 scans back to a DHS IP address.

    Title 18 of the federal code makes it a federal crime to “having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization” and to damage or impair the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information.  If convicted, Obama and Johnson could be fined and receive up to 20 years for each offense.

    The timing is convenient. Four of the 10 attempts against the Georgia network occurred as Kemp was about to talk to DHS officials about the attacks, or coincided with his public testimony about his opposition to the critical infrastructure designation.

    Kemp stated, “It’s certainly concerning about the dates. That’s a pretty easy dot to connect. Certainly from a political perspective it makes a lot of sense to ask that question.

    The attacks against the network began on February 2. The last effort to penetrate the Georgia system, which Kemp called a “large attack,” occurred November 15th, a week after the election but before the state certified its results.

    Kemp said he hopes the Inspector General gets to the bottom of the attacks and determines if there is a possibility the hacks were timed to intimidate him.

    Kemp is simply grateful the investigation has finally begun, “We’re certainly excited and glad that we’re just going to get our questions answered. That’s all we’ve been asking for and we think we deserve to know what was going on.  The explanation they (DHS) have been giving us leaves a lot of holes unanswered.”

    Apparently Johnson has given several explanations for the attempted intrusion. One was that an unnamed contractor hit the site “as part of his normal job duties” to confirm professional licenses.

    Kemp said the DHS answers have continued to change over time; “First they said it was an individual in Corpus Christi Texas who worked for border patrol that had a bug in his Microsoft software that was causing it.  And then they moved off of that, and said that it was somebody in Georgia at FLETCO down in Gleynn County on the coast of Georgia. We’ve never been given the name of the employee.  We haven’t been able to talk to them.  We expect OIG would want to talk to that employee.”

    The investigation could take some time since so many minor players seem to be involved. No doubt that Obama was in charge but he had to have people doing the actual dirty work. We can only hope it will all come out in the investigation.


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  • President Trump deports first batch of African migrants from the US, more to follow

    27/Jan/2017 // 3392 Viewers


    More than 90 Somali nationals and two Kenyans on Wednesday arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi after being deported from the US.The deportees, believed to have been affected by US President Donald Trump’s implementation of his pledge to crack down on illegal immigrants, arrived at the airport at midday aboard Omni, an American Charter Airline.

    The Somalis then boarded a flight that left for Mogadishu at 3pm (+3GMT).

    Security sources at the airport said the travellers were accompanied by security officers, who also accompanied them to Mogadishu.

    Airport police boss Zipporah Waweru confirmed that there had been a plane carrying Somalis in transit to Mogadishu, but she could not confirm whether they were deportees.

    “They have left and to me, they looked happy so I cannot for sure tell you that they were deported or not,” Ms Waweru said.

    President Trump had vowed during the campaign for the White House to kick out illegal immigrants and immigrants with criminal records, saying they would be deported at their own cost.

    On Tuesday, President Trump said he was ready to build a wall on the Mexican border and send away illegal immigrants as he rolled out a series of immigration decrees.

    Officials said President Trump had directed that migrant quotas and programmes be cut, thus slowing down the processing of visas.

    The orders would restrict immigration and access to the US for refugees and visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to American media.

    During his campaign, President Trump said he would deport or jail up to three million illegal migrants.

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  • Tension brews as Apostle JOHNSON SULEIMAN replies SULTAN OF SOKOTO, others, calling for his arrest, says 'you kept quiet when El-rufai tweeted hate speech

    27/Jan/2017 // 13322 Viewers


    The founder of Omega Fire Ministry, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, has wondered why the Department of State Security Service, DSS, attempted to arrest him over his alleged ‘hate speech.’

    He said Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai had tweeted a hate speech and no one arrested him.

    The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III had recently called on the security agencies to arrest hate speech makers.

    It would be recalled that Apostle Suleiman had allegedly asked his members to kill any Fulani herdsman they find around his church premises.

    Following his comment, the DSS attempted to arrest him in the early hours of Wednesday at Ado- Ekiti but Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, foiled the attempt.

    As the attempted arrest continues to spark up controversies across the country, the apostle went into Twitter archives and dug out a ‘hate speech’ by El-Rufai and wondered why he was not arrested.
    On his Twitter handle @APOSTLESULEMAN, he shared a screen grab of the tweet by El-Rufai on July 15, 2012.

    El-Rufai had tweeted: “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.”

    But the Apostle tweeted: “It’s not a religious issue but one against crime. I have Fulani friends and dey hate d killings by these herdsmen and support self defence.

     “Every xtian should stay calm and not comment like those who av no understandn of d issues. Pple believe wat they tink is rite.i love u all.
    “You won’t open ur eyes and watch someone kill u. Don’t go for them but if dey come around u to kill u, defend urself..that’s my stand.

    “He posted that and notin happened..those talking now kept quiet..many countless hate speeches by many..I simply said dfend urslf. check tape.”

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  • Breaking: President Trump and Mexican president speak by phone amid crisis in relations - Washington Post

    27/Jan/2017 // 163 Viewers


    MEXICO CITY — Amid one of the worst crises in U.S.-Mexico relations in years, President Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke by phone Friday morning, according to an official in the Mexican president’s office.
    A White House official confirmed the conversation, saying the call took place about 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.
    The call came a day after Peña Nieto canceled a planned trip to Washington, following Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for a U.S. wall across the border. The official did not elaborate on the content of the call, which was first reported by the Associated Press.
    Trump’s decision to move forward with building a border wall and his threats to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have opened a serious rift in the relations between the two neighbors.
    Earlier Friday, Mexican business leaders and politicians warned of economic disaster and possibly unrest if trade ties between the two neighbors are disrupted by new measures proposed by the Trump administration.
    Some business executives and officials in Mexico are calling for retaliatory plans.
    Mexico’s economy was sluggish even before the prospect of a renegotiation of NAFTA, which has led to a large jump in commerce with its largest trading partner. The value of the peso has fallen 13 percent since the election and is plumbing historic lows against the dollar.
    Economists have downgraded prospects for economic growth. A rise in gas prices that started earlier this month, part of reforms by Peña Nieto to wean the country off of gas subsidies, sparked looting, roadblocks and clashes between protesters and police. If Mexico goes into a recession, as some economists have predicted if a trade war erupts with the United States, this could lead to further violence in a country already on edge.
    "We might have unrest," former president Vicente Fox said in an interview this week. "If you have a poor Mexico, yes. If there is hunger, yes. If unemployment comes back to high levels, yes, we will have problems. And the consequences will hit right back on the United States."
    Mexico's exporters rely heavily on the United States market. Northern Mexico has transformed in recent years into a robust manufacturing belt that produces automobiles, flat-screen televisions, and countless other products.
    Major American corporations are as common as cactus in the northern Mexican deserts.
    The tensions have left officials on both sides of the border calculating their next moves in a dispute that potentially puts one of the North America’s critical economic partnerships in the balance.
    Trump appeared to tighten the screws with a combative tweet, while Mexican politicians have rallied around Peña Nieto, who is still deeply unpopular but found himself basking in praise after calling off a meeting with Trump.
    Peña Nieto made the decision after Trump suggested he should not come to Washington if Mexico remained unwilling to pay for Trump’s planned border wall.
    The president of the Mexico’s national conference of governors, Gov. Graco Ramirez of Morelos, told a Mexican newspaper that Trump had declared “war” on Mexico.
    “With Trump, dialogue is exhausted,” Ramirez told El Universal. “It doesn’t make sense to sit down with him. He doesn’t change his attitude or his position.”
    Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who had flown to Washington this week in preparation for Peña Nieto’s visit, told a news conference Thursday at the Mexican Embassy that Trump had effectively impugned “the dignity of the Mexican people.” Paying for the wall, he said, was “absolutely impossible.”
    “There are themes that are not part of a negotiation strategy and are totally unacceptable,” he said.
    Trump seemed unmoved by the outcry from Mexico. On Friday, he tweeted: “Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!”
    The growing rift between the two neighbors, who share a 2,000-mile border and half a trillion dollars in annual trade, comes amid a possible renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been in place for more than two decades.
    Mexican business executives and officials noted that a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico — an idea floated Thursday by White House spokesman Sean Spicer — would make those products more expensive for American consumers. Some expressed exasperation that so much effort must be expended to convince the United States about the benefits of free trade.
    “It’s paradoxical,” Juan Pablo Castañon, the president of Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council, a coalition of business groups, said in an interview. “Twenty-five years ago, the United States convinced Mexicans about free trade. Today we’re trying to convince Americans about free trade.”
    Castañon said Mexico should reciprocate on any U.S. tax or tariff. If the United States negotiates with Mexico as a sovereign and respected partner, he said, then both countries can become more competitive and prosperous. If not, then “the first option is not to have NAFTA.”
    On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer initially said the border barrier would be funded by a 20 percent import tax on goods from Mexico.
    Spicer did not provide details of how the policy would work. Later, he appeared to backtrack, telling reporters that the tax was “one idea” to pay for the wall and that his intent was not to “roll out” a new policy. He said it could be part of a broader import tax plan backed by some House Republicans.
    Critics said that if implemented, such a tax would mean that the wall’s cost ultimately would be borne by U.S. consumers.
    Trump’s moves have rekindled old resentments in Mexico, a country that during its history has often felt bullied and threatened by its wealthier, more powerful neighbor. The legacy of heavy-handed U.S. behavior — which includes invasions in the 19th and 20th centuries and the seizure of significant Mexican lands — has mostly been played down by a generation of Mexican leaders who have pursued pragmatic policies and mutual economic interests with both Republican and Democratic administrations in the United States.
    NAFTA has allowed trade between the neighbors to mushroom. Every day, goods valued at $1.4 billion cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and millions of jobs are linked to trade on both sides. Mexico is the world’s second-largest customer for American-made products, and 80 percent of Mexican exports — automobiles, flat-screen TVs, avocados — are sold to the United States.
    Mexico’s economy secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, said this week that Mexico is prepared to “mirror” any action by the United States to raise tariffs or impose taxes on imports. Guajardo has also said it might be necessary for Mexico to walk away from NAFTA — a once-unthinkable idea — if there was no benefit in the negotiations for his country.
    “If we are going to go for something that is less than what we have, it makes no sense to stay,” he said.
    Mexicans said they had trouble recalling a time when relations were this bad with the United States or when an American president appeared to be such a threat to Mexico’s core interests.
    Gabriela Martinez in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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  • JUST IN: California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, begins campaign for SECESSION, starts collecting SIGNATURE that would lead to REFERENDUM

    27/Jan/2017 // 2234 Viewers


    Californians are seeking to secede from the United States. California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, on Thursday gave the green light for the proposed initiative to start collecting signatures.

    If enough signatures are collected, “Calexit” could be on the ballot in 2018. If the “yes” have their way at the referendum, provisions in the California Constitution which stipulate that the state is an “inseparable part of the U.S” and that the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land” will automatically be repealed

    This would mean California could govern itself.

    Yes California, the campaigners for the proposal, have argued the state is culturally out of step with the rest of the U.S.

    With 38.8million people, California is the most populous state in the U.S and the third most extensive at 433,970 square kilometers.

    It is the state with the most electoral college votes with 55.

    “California loses [by] being a part of America culturally and financially,” Marcus Ruiz Evans, one of the group’s founders told the Los Angeles Times.

    “It could be a nation all its own, everybody knows that. The only question is if they want to break off.”

    61.5 per cent of Californians voted for Hillary Clinton and 31.5 per cent did for Donald Trump.

    To qualify for the ballot, Yes California has to collect 585,407 valid signatures from registered voters over the next 180 days.

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  • UNICEF has called on FG to declare state of emergency on malnutrition in Nigeria

    27/Jul/2016 // 365 Viewers


    (THE NATION) - In a recent release by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) indicating that 2.5 million children are malnourished in Nigeria; UNICEF has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on child malnutrition. Indeed, there is an urgent need for the call to be extended to all governments in the country, as a problem once believed to be restricted to the North East on account of terrorism in that region, has now been confirmed to be nationwide in its spread.

    Undernutrition in Nigeria is a social cancer with several causes. The most emphasised cause in the media refers to negative outcomes of Boko Haram terrorism. Since its inception, both Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and others living in the precarious environment of Boko Haram have been experiencing periodic undernourishment. But other causes of malnutrition in the country at large include gradual impoverishment of parents who have primary responsibility to feed their dependents and the resultant growth of child poverty arising from mass unemployment and failure of many states to pay salaries of workers, most of whom are parents and guardians.

    Traditionally, a dominant aspect of family values across the country is parental obligation to feed their children to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, this value has been under severe attack by economic dislocation of many parents and guardians. Undoubtedly, the gloomy statistics about child malnutrition in Nigeria is an indication of its failure, as in many other countries in similar brackets, to respond adequately to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which included halving extreme poverty rate by 2015.

    With the dismal picture of child undernourishment, it has become imperative for government leaders to pay more serious attention to the current Sustainable Development Goals that include ending poverty in all its forms everywhere and ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition.
    The dangers inherent in child malnutrition are too serious for governments to ignore. Undernourishment doubles the risk of children dying before they turn five. It also increases the risk of children having brain damage, stunted growth, and lack of normal cognitive development that can destroy their chances of leading a normal life in their adulthood. Therefore, the call by UNICEF for declaration of a state of emergency is apt. It has come at a time that the Federal Government is embarking on the train of change that includes commitment to WHO’s polio-free certification; social welfare payments to the most vulnerable in the society; improvement in agriculture and food security; and provision of free food for children in primary schools.

    The Nation believes that immediate declaration of a state of emergency as the first of many steps to contain this social cancer is in order and calls on the Federal Government to conduct, in collaboration with state and local governments, research to identify malnourished children in the country. Such children must be put immediately on Ready-to-use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs) to stop the threat of death or brain damage. Parents of such children should be provided with immediate social welfare support to provide nutritious food after the regime of RUTFs.

    More importantly, the government needs to have a long-term strategy to end the scourge of child malnutrition in Africa’s largest economy. There are many successful models in other parts of the world to consider for adoption. Child malnutrition often starts from undernourishment of low-income and poorly educated pregnant women and nursing mothers. A time that the country seems poised to revitalise agriculture is appropriate for the Federal Government to initiate a programme similar to the United States of America’s WIC, a supplemental nutrition initiative by the Federal Government for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under five.

    And the country’s mass media should intensify campaign to educate parents and guardians about the importance of feeding children adequate portions of the four crucial food groups: carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, protein, and fats. Such campaign should not be limited to newspapers but must be extended to radio, television, and social media in the form of mass messages to the millions that now carry cell phones. Educational institutions from pre-school up should include modules on food and nutrition education on their curriculums. All patriotic hands need to be on deck to save the country from losing 1,000 of its future leaders daily to a preventable problem.

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  • Trump details 'America first' foreign policy views to NYT

    27/Mar/2016 // 260 Viewers


    WASHINGTON (AFP) -Donald Trump described his foreign policy as an "America first" approach that will stop the US from being systematically "ripped off."

    The Republican frontrunner, who has spent his entire career in business, gave the most in-depth discussion so far on foreign policy in a phone interview with the New York Times.

    During the conversation, he detailed his views on issues ranging from East Asian security to Syria, the Islamic State group and relations with allies such as Saudi Arabia.

    Trump said he was not an isolationist, but described the United States as a poor debtor nation that disproportionately funds international alliances such as NATO and the United Nations.

    Similarly lopsided relationships exist with allies such as Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, he said.

    "We have been disrespected, mocked and ripped off for many many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher," he told the Times.

    "So America first, yes, we will not be ripped off anymore. We're going to be friendly with everybody, but we're not going to be taken advantage of by anybody," he said.

    Trump slammed President Barack Obama's administration for seeking a political exit for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while simultaneously fighting the Islamic State group as "madness and idiocy."

    "I'm not saying Assad is a good man, 'cause he's not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it's ISIS," he said.

    The real estate developer said he would instead target the oil that provides a significant portion of the extremist group's funding, cracking down on underground banking channels to cut off the flow of money.

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  • Buhari Meets, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton And Bill Gates

    27/Sep/2015 // 213 Viewers

    President Buhari and ex-President Obasanjo held a bilateral meeting with former British PM, Gordon Brown in the US yesterday. Buhari also met with Bill Clinton and Bill Gates.

    More pictures below.

    Source: Nigerian Eye

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  • Nigeria's Biafra Separatists See Hope in Trump - Voice of America reports

    28/Dec/2016 // 10142 Viewers

    FILE - A supporter of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu holds a Biafra flag during a rally in support of Kanu in Abuja, Nigeria, Dec. 1, 2015.

    ABUJA, NIGERIA —  The head of the Biafra separatist movement in Nigeria has written an open letter to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. The movement hopes Trump, who backed British voters' decision to leave the European Union, will also support a push for Biafra to win independence.
    The letter, sent by a Nigerian activist named Nnamdi Kanu, contains a forceful appeal to the U.S. president-elect.
    It says Trump's victory placed upon him a "historic and moral burden ... to liberate the enslaved nations in Africa," which it says are trapped in artificial boundaries designed to reinforce colonial domination.
    Kanu currently sits in a prison in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, charged with treason for supporting a movement calling for territories in southeastern Nigeria to break away and form a country called Biafra.
    Biafra tried to break away once before — in a three-year war starting in 1967 that left at least 1 million people dead, mostly from starvation.
    Kanu and other activists hope Trump will be sympathetic to a new push for Biafran independence.
    "[Trump] believes in the inalienable right of an indigenous people to self-determination and he has spoken it,” said Clifford Iroanya, a spokesman for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra organization. “He has written it. He has acted it. We believe he will support indigenous people all over the world to self-determine."
    Disappointed in Obama
    Iroanya says he was pleased when Trump expressed support for Britain's decision to leave the European Union with a tweet on June 24 that said, "Self-determination is the sacred right of all free people."
    Biafra supporters say they too have self-determination, and should be allowed to break away from Nigeria.
    The Biafran movement was disappointed with outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama, who they saw as a supporter of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
    FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2015.
    FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2015.
    "Then we felt that there is no point proceeding with talking to Mr. Obama because it will be like preaching to the choir. He is the backbone of Muhammadu Buhari," Iroanya said.
    Buhari was the one who ordered Kanu to be held in custody.
    Buhari, who had a long career in the Nigerian military, fought against Biafran independence when he was a young soldier and maintains a hard line against the Biafra movement.
    Kanu remains in custody on instructions from Buhari, despite orders from Nigerian courts and a regional West African court to release him.
    Opposition to war
    Many Biafra supporters do not want to return to war.
    Ifeanyi Nsionu was a 6-year-old boy when the Biafra War broke out in 1967.
    "We really suffered,” Nsionu said. “We were in a refugee camp. And then they were feeding us in the camp. It was horrible. We had to eat lizards. All these guys that are agitating for this Biafra thing, a majority of them are those who may not have witnessed this war. They do not understand what it is to be in a civil war."
    Nsionu says reaching out to Trump is not a bad idea, although he doesn't expect the U.S. president-elect to do much for Nigeria.
    "I did support Trump right from the beginning,” he said. “I wanted a complete change from Obama's policy. Obama's policy for Africa was not encouraging. I don't know the ideology of Trump now, but I know that Trump will be after America first. By the time he stays the next four years and he must have done what he wanted to do for America, he may begin to see what else is happening elsewhere."
    Nsionu can only hope that when that time comes, Trump will throw his support behind the Biafra movement.

    Original post appeared first on VOA world service

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