Politics

Anger over ‘Gulliver’s travels’

President Buhari’s frequent globe-trotting has drawn ire from Nigerians, who say it is a waste of public money. By Sunny Idachaba

SINCE HIS inauguration on May 29, 2015, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, has made a number of official trips outside the country earning him the nickname of ‘President Gulliver’. Well intentioned as these trips might be, the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC), are being rou­tinely criticised for their globe-trotting, with the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) saying he should spend more time at home solving the country’s economic prob­lems.

The APC’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, stoutly defends the trips, saying they create a number of opportunities for the country, which may become only appar­ent in the long-term.

Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, two of president’s media aides, have also gone to great lengths to explain the benefits of foreign visits, principally that they gave Nigeria proper representation.

Both attempted to put the issue in perspec­tive: When President Buhari arrived at Aso Rock, the seat of government, the country was ravaged by Boko Haram insurgents, who had killed more than 12,000 people in the northeast part of the country and left at least 10,000 Nigerians internally displaced. At the time, the terrorists held a number of local governments in their strongholds of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, hoisting their flags there to declare the arrival of the Islamic State caliphate.

Military strategists warned that if the fight against the insurgents were to be won, Nigeria must consciously collaborate with its neighbours bordering the northeast of the country to rout them. It was in that spirit that President Buhari embarked on what his critics described as his foreign jamborees.

Aside from this, Nigeria’s reputation as a corrupt nation was reinforced by revelations that members of the previous government, led by Goodluck Jonathan, had had their hands in the till and made off with the money following their electoral defeat. This led to massive capital flight. 

Although much talk was made of President Buhari’s autocratic tendencies during his first tenure of government as a military leader during the early 1980s, people were also aware that throughout his long political career he had never been tainted by so much as a whiff of corruption. Even as president, he continued to present himself as a humble figure not interested in the usual ostentatious display of wealth and power that most Nigerian politicians indulge in. This reassured his fellow leaders, favourably disposing them to Nigeria at a time when it was most in need of firm alliances and, of course, foreign investment.

Just three days after his inauguration, President Buhari left Nigeria to meet with the leaders of three neighbouring countries which had also been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. First, he travelled to Niger Republic to meet with President Mahamadou Issoufou and discuss the need to secure the Nigeria/Niger border, which had been used by the Islamists as an escape route. From there he travelled to Chad and Cameroon.

Next he embarked on a visit to South Africa to attend a meeting of the African Union, where Nigeria chairs the peace and security council committee.

Buhari entered the world stage, as it were, when he travelled to the US in July last year, meeting President Obama in the White House to discuss security, Nigeria’s economy and ways to tackle corruption in its govern­ment. He had already shook hands with Obama the previous month when he attend­ed the G-7 summit in Germany. Buhari dis­cussed threats posed by terror groups such as Boko Haram.

In September last year, the president embarked on a three-day visit to France at the invitation of his French counterpart Francois Hollande. The focus was on further strengthening bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and France in the areas of defence, security, trade and investment.

In the same month, Buhari made a one-day official visit to Ghana, ostensibly to secure the repatriation of Nigerian funds he alleged the previous administrations had stolen and stashed away there. Shortly afterwards he materialised in New Delhi to attend the third India-Africa Forum Summit, as well as to hold talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi about terrorism, climate change and poverty alleviation. Then it was on to Malta for the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, from where he immediately left for Paris to present Nigeria’s statement at the UN Climate Change Conference that opened on, November 30.

Earlier this year, Buhari visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar for a week. Buhari was accompa­nied by his minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, the minister of petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, and the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika. He was also accompanied by the state governors for Zamfara, Borno, Osun, Katsina and Ogun states. This drew the ire of Nigerians, with many claiming it was a waste of the country’s resources to travel with so many governors. However, in terms of investments and a stabilising of the global price of oil, which has hurt the Nigerian economy hard, the government insists that the visit was worth its weight in gold.

In March during a visit to Equatorial Guinea, Buhari was accompanied by his min­ister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, for bilateral talks on regional security

Critics maintain that all these trips exceed those of his predecessors and are funded by the tax payer. The PDP spokesperson Olisa Metuh said, rather than embarking on foreign jamborees, the president should concentrate on fixing the economy., which has nose-dived since he took office.

Ayodele Fayose, the governor of Ekiti state in the country’s southwest, claimed that Buhari’s excursions had already cost the country millions: “Foreign trips won’t solve our problems for us and the president’s inces­sant travels are already bleeding the economy, with about Jim being spent per trip,” he fumed.

He added: “The way the president is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 per cent of the federal government budget and that would be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.”

Fayose suggests that most of the visits cold have been led by the vice-president or a min­ister, saving the country the huge amount spent in ‘estacode’, that is the so-called estab­lishment code that dictates the travel allowances given to government officials. A hangover from colonial days, these are usually very generous. .

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Onwubiko of the Human Rights Writers Association, said he needed concrete evidence of how ‘Gulliver’s travels’ benefit the country. “In as much as I am not against any trip, be it foreign or local, embarked upon by the president, I want to see the benefits of those trips on Nigeria so that we can give the president the thumbs up,” he said.

“But anything outside that is a serious drain on the lean resources of the country.”, Information minister Mohammed recently told journalists that foreign trips were critical to the implementation of the administration’s key policies of enhancing security, jump-start­ing the economy, creating jobs and fighting against corruption.

While Nigerians had the right to ask ques­tions about the trips of their president, they should ask them from an informed perspec­tive, he added.

“The president was in Germany shortly after his inauguration on the invitation of the G-7 to solicit support from the industrialised nations for the war against terrorism. No one who has witnessed the killings and maiming in the last seven years by Boko Haram will call such trips frivolous. After all, the security and welfare of the citizens are the reasons for the existence of any government,” the minister continued He went on to explain that most of the president’s trips to were devoted to rallying global and regional supports for the war against terrorism.

The president’s media aide Garba Shehu said, “While Nigerians are yearning for change you need someone who will set up the infrastructure both at home and abroad. President Buhari is busy doing that. The change is manifest in where he visits. In the delegations accompanying him abroad, President Buhari has slashed the numbers bringing them down to a bearable minimum. He went to the UN General Assembly in September 2015 with an unbelievable 32 offi­cials on his trip. His predecessor in office went with as much as 150 officials and family members the year before.”

Garba wondered why people did not see the international approval President Buhari's foreign trips had brought to bear on the country: “What would Nigerians say of their leader when they see the arrays of world leaders assemble and their own president is missing from the table? Those of us who were around during Abacha’s days remember all the taunts that labelled him a sit-at-home leader. Abacha was despised for not repre­senting his country abroad. The visit by any president to another country is the highest act in international relations”.

The president’s foreign trips were working to strengthen diplomatic relations, trade and security of the country. According to him, the president had presided over meetings aborad with entrepreneurs that brought country billions in investments.

Countries like France, UK and the US were supporting Nigeria with intelligence gathering and training of the military against Boko Haram and the economic saboteurs in the Niger Delta region.

“All heads of state around the world now take Nigeria seriously. His foreign trips are for business, security of the country and bilat­eral contacts that get actualised by follow- ups. Today, the world is in warm embrace of President Buhari. Nigerians should be proud of that attention, love and admiration,” he concluded.

President Buhari has pledged to address three priority areas, namely: corruption, economy and insecurity on the day of his inauguration. Many Nigerians feel is admin­istration has largely been able to address the problem of insecurity, which his supporters say is a direct result of his globe-trotting. “Today, Boko Haram is almost history as they can no longer hold on to territories like before even though there are pockets of soft target bombings here and there,” Mohammed declared. “Arrangements are now being made for the displaced persons to return to their homes as the military has restored order in those volatile areas.”

On corruption, he said a number of people have been arrested in connection with money laundering activities. This is as a result of eco­nomic intelligence reports the president received while abroad, especially in the US and the Mddle East.

Plans are underway to turn round the economy, which is largely hinged on the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill. 

 

Tough poll ahead for PF

An economic downturn has taken the shine off Lungu rule. By Benedict Tembo, Lusaka

WHATEVER HAPPENS at election time later this year, supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) point to what they call its infrastructural legacy. Come August 11, they hope that the PF’s massive development programme will help return Edgar Lungu to power despite the country’s current economic woes.

Since the PF swept to power in 2011, the country has spent billions of dollars devel­oping roads, consuming more than 10 per cent of the budgets for 2015 and 2016, as well as building more power plants, schools and hospitals. However, the economy has in the past year received a battering, due in part to an unfavourable global market, and Lungu faces a tough batde to stay on top.

He was sworn in as president in January last year by a narrow margin in an election called after the death in office of Michael Sata. Once again, he will have to see off the challenge of his main rival Hakainde Hichilema and his United Party for National Development (UPND), and also that of the Democratic Front, a new party which has split from the PF and is led by the Sata’s nephew, Miles Sampa. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), which was once the dominant political force, is now a shadow of its former self following the deci­sion of its former leader, ex-president Rupiah Banda, to back Hichilema.

Over the last decade, Zambia experienced rapid economic growth as Africa’s second largest copper producer after the DR Congo. The mineral accounts for three-quarters of export earnings and a quarter of government revenues.

But the country has been hit by falling global commodity prices, a situation exacer­bated by the current economic slow down in China. It was Beijing’s thirst for minerals that helped fuel Zambia’s expansion, but now Chinese investment has slowed. The

London-based Fathom Consultancy ranked Zambia top of an index of African nations most exposed to China’s downturn. In 2012, Zambian exports to China amounted to about 4.3 per cent of GDP while Chinese foreign direct investment was 7.5 per cent of GDP. During the boom years, mining attracted billions of dollars of investment, malting the sector a key driver of the economy, with an average annual GDP growth of 6.4 per cent over the last decade, one of the world’s fastest growth rates.

China accounts for more than 40 per cent of the metal’s global consumption and the current scenario highlights the vulnerability of resource-dependent countries like Zambia. Following the Chinese slump, the local kwacha currency plummeted against the dollar and several mining companies had to either suspend operations or lay off thou­sands of workers. In the meantime, inflation soared. For ordinary Zambians, matters were exacerbated by severe energy crisis that led to daily power rationing.

“I meet Zambians from all walks of life who share their frustrations with me on the on-going load-shedding [power rationing], and how this is negatively affecting their lives and businesses, whether big or small,” com­miserated President Lungu when he opened Parliament last year. “No one is spared, not even myself — a few days ago I was in the Heroes Stadium when there was a power failure.”

He added: “I know how it feels to come back home and find that there is no electricity, or to see children who cannot do their homework because there is no electricity, or a mother who has no access to alternative sources of energy to prepare a meal for her family.

“I am also aware that the current power shortage has negatively affected those running small businesses like salons, barber shops, welding workshops and bakeries.”

He announced a series of “short term measures” to minimise the demand for elec­tricity. These included the use of energy saving bulbs and alternative sources of energy for cooking and heating.

Longer term solutions involve partnering with Zimbabwe for the possibility of devel­oping a 1,800 MW power station at Batoka Gorge by 2019, which will be an addition to the 750 MW Kafue Lower Hydropower Plant, which is set to be completed by 2018.

Other power projects include increasing the capacity of Chishimba Falls in Kasama in Northern Province and Musonda Falls, which is about 60km north of Mansa in Luapula Province, as well as the Lusiwasi hydropower project in Serenje in Central Province.

Lungu won last year’s election on a promise of wanting to continue with the infrastructure development agenda of his predecessor Sata. Few would have argued with that. “We think that the programme that President Sata started in infrastructure projects has begun to transform Zambia with respect to the transport sector,” said Engineering Institution of Zambia head Bernard Chiwala while laying a wreath at Sata’s burial site in Embassy Park, Lusaka, in December 2014.

“With all he did in roads, we were becoming a hub of development in the region. This vision has to continue with a new president.” He went on to point out how the country had now effectively been opened up to its eight neighbours, thereby facilitating cross border trade and commerce.

He added: “This is what investors are looking for; they need a strong infrastructure backbone before they can make a decision on investing, and Zambia.”

However, with two thirds of the population officially living below the poverty line, grand schemes like the Link Zambia 8000 and Pave Zambia 2000 may not be enough to see Lungu re-elected. Lungu beat the UNDP’s Hakainde Hichilema by just 27,000 votes last time round, leading Hichilema to denounce the election as “stolen”. Decrying the violence against UNDP supporters and party members during the campaign, as well as irregularities in the counting process, he accused the electoral commission of manip­ulating the results to favour Lungu.

Hichilema, or ‘HH’, as he is popularly known, is a self-made businessman, marked out by his energetic persona and youthful looks. Now looking at his fifth shot at the presidency, he is bound to mount a strong challenge against his opponent, making the most of Zambia’s gloomy economic picture under Lungu. While the PF argues that the country’s problems are a result of external factors beyond its control, the UNDP insists it is as a result of Lungu’s incompetence and the government’s lack of fiscal and monetary discipline and excessive waste. A severe drought and Lungu’s own physical frailty — he collapsed in public in March last year - do not help the president’s case.

In response, Lungu has turned to the con­stitution to help him out. The Constitution of Zambia Bill, which was passed into law earlier this year, requires that a winning pres­idential candidate should secure a minimum of “50 per cent + 1”. This could change the political landscape quite radically as it would require parties like the PF and UNDP, which do not enjoy outright national support, to enter into coalitions with other parties in the first or second round of an election. Although Hichilema benefitted from MMD support in the last election, this may well have been illusory. The MMD is riven by faction­alism and Lungu might well be the beneficiary if one of its leaders decides to throw his lot in with the PF to stoke his own political ambi­tions.

On the other hand, the PF also faces a bigger electorate following the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s announcement in December 2015 that it had added 1.4 million new voters, mosdy youngsters, to the national electoral roll. Since the voter registration exer­cise continued on from there, this number is likely to rise.

In view of the fact that young people are the hardest hit by unemployment and the economic downturn, the majority of them are likely to vote on economic concerns rather than ethnic or party considerations. Given Lungu’s poor record on the economy, such a scenario favours Hichilema.

In a recent online posting, Sishuwa Sishuwa writes: “One of the important features of the 2015 poll was that voter turnout, on average, was higher in UPND than PF strongholds. Another was that Hichilema, despite accusations of regional iclination, generally fared better in the PF constituencies than Lungu did in UPND bases.

“If both trends are repeated in 2016, Lungu, who will not have the benefit of a Sata sympathy vote at the next polls, may be in serious trouble.

In the new constitution, a member of par­liament who crosses the floor cannot re­contest that seat until that parliament is dis­solved. This aims to stop the trend of MPS ditching their parties without due regard to the electorate that voted him or her into office.

In the meantime, the new constitution also allows dual citizenship, a development that now allows Zambians in the diaspora as well as those at home to acquire citizenship in any country without losing the citizenship of Zambia.

The idea is to encourage that Zambians, especially those living in developed countries of the world such as US, Britain, France, and Germany, to begin investing in their country of origin because they will now enjoy the full citizenship rights of Zambia.

It is hoped that foreign investors will setde in Zambia and become citizens thereby keeping their money in the country.

However, holders of a dual citizenship cannot contest the republican presidency nor be elected as speaker of the national assem­bly.

 

Ex VP guilty of war crimes

Bemba faces long jail sentence following first ICC trial to focus on rape as a weapon of war. By Rita Hernandes

JEAN-PIERRE Bemba, The former DR Congo vice-president, has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Central African Republic (CAR) more than a decade ago.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) finally found the 53 year-old warlord guilty after a five-year trial that began in November 2010.

It is a significant verdict as it is the first time the ICC focused on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The verdicts focused on his responsibility as a military commander for the actions of his troops. He commanded a private army of 1.500 men who went on a spree of murder, rape and pillage.

It is a legal principle established by other UN tribunals that makes a commander responsible for failing to take actions to stop crimes he knows are being committed by subordinates.

Prosecutors told the court that Bemba, who led the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), “knew that the troops were commit­ting crimes and did not take all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to prevent or repress their commission”.

More than 5,000 victims received the right to participate in the hearings, which is the highest number in any of the previous cases presented in the court.

Bemba was convicted of two counts of crimes against humanity, involving murder and rape, as well as three counts of war crimes — murder, rape and pillaging — all con­nected to attacks in CAR between 2002 and 2003.

His troops had entered the country as part of a military intervention on the side of then president, Ange-Felix Patasse, who was even­tually ousted.

During the trial, which ended last month, more than 40 witnesses testified. One described being raped by two MLC soldiers. She was later diagnosed with HIV/Aids.

Men, women and children were all raped - in one case three generations of the same family were gang-raped by MLC soldiers.

The presiding Brazilian judge, Sylvia Steiner, said MLC soldiers had opened fire on civilians without regard to age or gender. “The civilian population was the primary rather than the incidental target of the attack,” she said in her judgment.

In a graphic description of the attacks by Steiner, she said “MLC soldiers by force knowingly and intentionally invaded the bodies of the victims by penetrating the victims’ anuses, vaginas or other bodily open­ings with their penises.” On occasions family members were forced, at gunpoint, to watch.

His defence lawyers insisted he had no control over his 1,500 troops. “There is not a single documentary piece of evidence that shows any orders passing from Bemba and going to his troops in Central African Republic,” Kate Gibson, representing him, said in her closing argument.

The prosecution, however, argued that he was aware of the actions of his troops and should therefore be held accountable for not putting a stop to it.

Bemba, fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo after losing a presidential poll, he was later arrested in Belgium in 2008 and transferred to the ICC’s detention centre in The Hague. His arrest came as a surprise both to Bemba, his supporters and oppo­nents at home. He had been living in semi­exile in Europe for several years when pros­ecutors sprung a trap by issuing an arrest warrant during a visit to Belgium.

Amnesty International said the guilty verdict against Bemba was a “historic moment in the battle for justice” for victims of sexual violence in CAR and around the world.

Angelina Jolie Pitt, who has been lobbying for the abolishment of sexual violence as a weapon of war, said in a statement “My thoughts and my admiration go out to the survivors and witnesses who bravely testified in this case and contributed to this landmark conviction.

“It is shocking that this conviction is the first of its kind. It is a reminder of how long it has taken us to reach this point, and how many victims have never seen justice,” she added.

The verdict means more cases of the same kind will be brought to the ICC .

It also means soldiers can no longer get away with raping and pillaging civilians to incite fear and psychologically torment their victims.

Bemba will be sentenced at a later date and could face up to 30 years in jail or a life sen­tence, if the court considers that it is “justified by the extreme gravity of the crime”.

In Congo, despite the revelations of the ICC trial, Jean-Pierre Bemba still enjoys sig­nificant popularity.

Members of his opposition party had hoped he would be released in time to run in the next presidential election, which is scheduled for the end of this year.

Bemba helped to form the MLC rebel group in Uganda in 1998. In 2003, he became vice-president under a peace deal and looked towards become his country’s leader. However, in 2006, Joseph Kabila beat him a run-off election, despite strong support for him in western DR Congo including Kinshasha. A year later Bemba fled to Belgium where he was later arrested and handed over to the ICC.

 

Living up to his promise

Udom Emmanuel, governor of Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State, won elections on the back of his promise to transform the state into an economic powerhouse. So far, he is on the right course.

In the run up to the last elections, Udom Emmanuel, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, was touted as the right candidate for the right job at the right time. An accom­plished technocrat, he was promoted as the man who could build on the legacy of his predecessor to take his people to the prom­ised land of economic prosperity. Nearly one year into the job, he has met the expec­tations of his people. He is developing a network of roads to connect the economic centres in the state into one hub; he is boost­ing the power generation capacity of the state to provide the energy to drive an indus­trial revolution, and he is deepening the state’s educational capacity to provide the skills base to drive the economy. On top of all this, he has launched a major re-orienta­tion campaign to change the mindset of the people from that of a dependent to one driven by the sheer drive to succeed. His Dakkada (‘Rise Up’) campaign is pushing the people to realise their potential for great­ness.

He has also aggressively pursued the development of infrastructure to underpin his industrialisation drive. A taxiway, which will also serve as an alternative runway, is under construction at Ibom Airport. Emmanuel has promised to commission the project by the end of July.

He has tackled headlong, the power deficit in the state. Electricity supply is up to 18 hours a day, the highest in the country. He has even secured a licence to generate an additional 685MW of electricity, through the expansion of the Ibom Power plant which currently generates 150 MW a day. 

The results of his hard work in the past months are becoming obvious. The Peacock Paints factory, moribund for more than 30 years, has been resuscitated. At the last count, more than 50 investors have lined up to take advantage of what is emerging as a new economic frontier in the Gulf of Guinea region. His government’s businesslike approach to industrialisation has shortened the turnaround time for the realisation of investment proposals. At the last count, at least 10 industrial projects are at various stages of completion.

Industrialisation

Akwa Ibom State had hitherto been described as a civil service state. At best, one can call it an agrarian state. Therefore, the term industrialisation has been alien to it, but Governor Udom Emmanuel has suc­ceeded in bringing that concept to bear in Akwa Ibom because of his administration’s industrial drive. This is a complete shift from the style of the previous administration. One of the Governor’s cardinal policies before coming to power was industrialisa­tion. This was well encapsulated in his inau­guration speech in May 2015. Since then, a lot has happened, such that even the blind can feel the wave of industrialisation blowing across the state.

In the inaugural address he told Akwa Ibomites: “You have kept your part of the covenant and I intend to keep mine by exe­cuting the programmes I enunciated to you during my official declaration to run for the office of Governor, which include to trans­form the economy of our state via industri­alisation and sustainable public-private sector initiative, thereby opening up oppor­tunities for growth and improved living stan­dards”. It was on this premise that his administration started the current industrial drive in earnest.

To match his words with action, shortly after resuming office, one of the first things Governor Udom did was a visit to the Peacock Paint factory that had been aban­doned for years at Ikot Ekan in Etinan local government area.

The state government subsequently released the sum of N 120m as buy-back to put the factory on track. Today, the factory which is scheduled to produce three million litres of paint a day, is back into productive activities and has engaged unemployed people.

In his commitment to industrialisation, Governor Udom performed the ground­breaking ceremony of an Automotive Assembling Plant in Itu local government area. The plant is in partnership with an Israeli company. When fully operational, it will assemble vehicles like buses, ambu­lances and security transport. It is estimated that at least 50,000 people will be engaged directly and indirectly.

Another landmark in the state govern­ment’s drive towards industrialisation is the plan to establish industrial parks in each of the senatorial zones of the state. As a first step, it is focusing on Ibom Industrial City because it is the international gateway into the state.

The Ibom Deep Sea Port, whose approval was given by the federal government towards the end of preceding administration, is another major step forward in revolutionising the industrial base of Akwa Ibom. On completion, it is expected to redefine maritime business in Nigeria, create employment for thousands and redirect economic activities in the state. Again, it is expected to overhaul the entire cargo handling capacity in the country. This will no doubt, drive youth empowerment, wealth creation and entrepreneurship. There is also the Itam Industrial park and the envisaged Ikot Ekpene Industrial Park, whose conception is in the pipeline.

The current capacity of Ibom International Airport, which at the moment directly and indirectly employs more than 1,000 indi­genes of the state, is also being expanded.. As a result of this, the state government has awarded a contract to increase the ter­minal building to match the industrial dream of the state. To this end, the anticipated structure is expected to be 400m long and incorporate a five star hotel. Also, the runway has been expanded from 3.6 km to 4.2 km, thus making it the longest in the country. According to the Commissioner for Special Duties, Etido Inyang, the whole idea is for these projects to match the new vision of the state government in the area of industrialisation.

Because of the abundance of coconut in almost every part of the state, the govern­ment has signed a memorandum of under­standing (MoU) with a South African firm on a consultancy basis to produce coconut oil and refined coconut produce. This will create an unprecedented number of jobs for the people. 

Besides this, the government is in collab­oration with LED for the manufacture of low energy saving bulbs and production of electricity meters. The moribund Mapo refinery, which has a chequered history in the state, is also being looked into so that it can come on stream in the months to come. With all of these initiatives focused on industrialisation, Akwa Ibom State is on the way to joining the league of states like Lagos, Rivers, Kano and Kaduna. To that extent, the toga of Akwa Ibom being a civil service state will very soon no longer hold sway.

Finance

If there is any state in Nigeria where the public purse is well managed in line with the realities on the ground today it is Akwa Ibom State. This is not only because Governor Udom Emmanuel is a banker by profession but because he brought with him into governance a crop of individuals who are passionate about the need for the lean resources of the state to be well managed in such a way that all Akwa Ibomites can heave a sigh of relief. The people share in his vision and are willing to fly with him. This is the story of the current administration of Akwa Ibom State Government in the area of prudent man­agement of resources.

For example, less than four months in the life of the present administration, the state government brought relief on the way of local government pensioners who were owed at least 10 years’ gratuities. The Executive Secretary of Local Government Pensions Board, Uduak Udoh, said that a total of 719 pensioners had been paid their dues under the first phase of the exercise. These were people who had retired between 2002 and 2011. The second phase of the exercise, he said, would commence as soon as funds were made available. Mary Bassey James, who retired as a Principal Adult Education Officer in Uyo local government in 2010, is one of the beneficiaries. She says that she was on the point of giving up all hope of receiving a pension until she discovered she was on the list of those to be paid. Now she has been able to set up a small business selling cloth.

Glory Stephen Bira from Itu Local Government, once worked as a Market Superintendent. Thanks to her gratuity, she runs a semi-supermarket in front of her house to augment whatever her husband supplies. Another beneficiary is Okon Ben Ekoh, a former Chief Rural Health Superintendent from Etinam local govern­ment. He has now been able to expand the building he acquired as a result of the money.

With the second phase soon to commence, Udoh warned that anyone who missed out on payments had probably not supplied right documents on time. According to him, a thorough verification exercise along with the biodata of each retiree would be carried out to ensure that only those entitled to gra­tuities would get them.

With the dwindling revenues as a result of the fall in oil prices, Akwa Ibom State Government is prepared to harness every­thing at its disposal towards ensuring that its resources are well managed to provide the needed democracy dividends for all.

The Commissioner for Finance, Akan Okon, said the state government should be grateful for having Udom Emmanuel in power at this time in the history of the state: “I'm glad to tell you that the state govern­ment is doing all those things necessary to sustain transparency in government. Even in the face of the dwindling resources coming to the state, the government is doing everything that needs to be done that can have immediate impact in the life of Akwa Ibom people.”

Unlike what used to occur in the past when state money seemed to go missing at the change of government, Governor Emmanuel ensured that all loopholes leading to such a state of affairs were blocked. Because of his experience in the banking sector, he also made sure that there should not be anything like a multiple revenue account so that it would be easy for auditors to access the accounts anytime the need arises. As a result of this, a lot of wastage were checkmated.

To ameliorate the sufferings many Nigerians are currently going through, the state government, less than 100 days in office, facilitated a micro finance loan from the Central bank of Nigeria, for the citizens of the state at nine per cent interest rate. However, the state government took over the payment of the interest to cushion the effects on the people. Depending on indi­vidual ability, beneficiaries borrowed N300, 000, and in some cases N500,000. A few of them even took on N1 m. All these took into consideration the fact that the state govern­ment was aware of what the people were going through. And to ensure self- sufficiency in many areas, local training schemes were also embarked upon for indi­genes of the state after which the government disbursed small allowances to enable trainees to begin a business of their choice.

Today, when some states in the country cannot pay salaries and the few who can pay are up to three months in arrears, Akwa Ibom State Government does not owe any. According to Okon, “The debt profile of Akwa Ibom State is one of the lowest com­pared to other states in the country. For example, so many states in Nigeria took what they call bail-out loan from the gov­ernment to pay salaries but we did not; yet we do not owe salaries. To that extent, you can testify that the extent of our debt profile is minimal compared to other state. Even pensioners in the state who had been owed for up to 10 years have been paid by this administration.”

Education

Education is not new in Akwa Ibom but what is new about the sector is the innovation which the Emmanuel Udom-led administration has brought to bear.

During its first 100 days in office, the state government conceptualised the educational dreams that the new administration intends to pursue for the overall interest of its people. The previous government of Chief Godswill Akpabio enunciated the popular ‘red roof’ project in all state schools, which is still cherished today, but Governor Udom took the initiative further by ensuring that modern innovations are introduced in all schools.

The free and compulsory education for all children in Akwa Ibom, introduced by the previous government, is something the present administration is not willing to com­promise on. The state Commissioner for Education, Aniekan Simon Akpan, says: “Governor Udom Emmanuel, without mincing words, is passionate about education and he is committed to the free and compulsory education, which is one of the cardinal programmes of this adminis­tration.

“Right from inception, he has shown a lot of commitment. This is because the gov­ernment knows that the drive towards indus­trialisation of the state is anchored on sound education. We can actually build the indus­tries in partnership with foreign partners but His Excellency believes that Akwa Ibomites should be the main drivers whenever they take off.

“To that extent, there must be solid foun­dation; that is why the Udom-led adminis­tration is providing the access through the free education campaign. This is why all the primaiy, secondaiy and technical schools are completely free.” That is why, within less than three months in office, the governor approved a N235 million grant to all heads of primary and secondary schools.

On October 1, 2015, the new educational blueprint was launched by Governor Udom. A major drive in the innovation was the introduction of ICT in all public and private schools in Akwa Ibom. As a first step, the sum of Nlm was released to all schools to begin the first phase of connecting all edu­cational institutions to the internet. This is to ensure that all schools in the state are ICT compliant. Towards achieving this, a MoU was signed between the state govern­ment and the Nigeria Communications Commission. So far about 43 primary and secondary schools have benefited from the scheme. Also, more than 100 computers were supplied to these schools in order to support their ICT needs.

To further complement ICT expansion, the 

Udom administration continued the spon­sorship of 30 indigenes of Akwa Ibom study­ing ICT-related courses in India. The stu­dents, who were being trained in Oracle, Information Technology and Cyber Management, all graduated with Masters Degree in IT with specialisation in different fields towards the end of 2015.

During their convocation in India, Education Commissioner Akpan, who was representing Governor Udom, remarked that the students were products of a deliberate effort to consolidate on ICT as laid down by the previous administration in the state. Today, all the graduates are back home in Akwa Ibom in both the public and private sector building up the next generation of ICT professionals. Michael Bassey; Aniefiok Stephen; Mkpongke Mfot; Emmanuel Ekerefe and Umoh Offiong, who were among the MSc graduates from India, said they were grateful to the state government for choosing them for the programme. Aniefiok, an engineering graduate from the University of Uyo, ran a lesson centre in Uyo while some of his colleagues were doing menial jobs. “The exposure this train­ing has given us can never leave all through our lives,” he said. “We are grateful to Governor Udom for not abandoning us after the end of the last administration. We are back and willing to share this knowledge with everyone. There is no aspect of ICT that we did not study in India. Remember that India is the centre of ICT in the whole world.”

The retirement age crisis that had almost crippled academic activities in the state was also resolved less than six months after Udom assumed office. For instance, the mandatory retirement age for all academic staff is now 65 years. That has put to rest the issue which had been lingering for years. Also, the monthly grant of N200m to each of the higher institutions in the state for capital projects was increased to N250m. With this, each of the institutions is now able to carry out capital projects in their respective campuses.

The welfare of teachers in Akwa Ibom has not been compromised by the present admin­istration, say its supporters. According to Akpan, “Training and retraining has been our watchword.” Many teachers have been trained in the last eight months either by the state govern­ment or through collaboration with other agencies. For example, 800 teachers were trained by Mobil last year, of which 400 were from public schools and the remaining 400 were from private schools.

As is the case with other sectors, education in Akwa Ibom has taken another leap forward. 

Emmanuel’s divine mandate

SPEND A FEW minutes with Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and you would think he has a direct line to God. The man who says he cannot separate God from governance believes he has a divine mandate to transform the lot of his people. In a way, you cannot fault his faith. He was carrying on with his career as a professional banker when his predecessor invited him to serve the state as secretary to the state government.

From that position, he contested and won election to the office of state governor. Despite a gruelling legal fight by his opponents, he kept his mandate. He sees God’s hand in all this and in his mission to use his experience in business to turn the state into an economic powerhouse.

Born July 11,1966, Udom Emmanuel, banker, accountant and politician, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the ladder of leadership and service. He was sworn into office as governor of the Oil rich state in Nigeria's Delta region, Akwa Ibom State on May 29, 2015 after running successfully for the office of governor in the April elections on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

His speedy odyssey in the world of politics began in July 2013 when he was appointed Secretary to the State Government of Akwa Ibom State. In2014, he aspired for the governorship of Akwa Ibom State in a hotly contested primary election and defeated 22 other aspirants (christened G22) to emerge the PDP candidate.

He went on to win the contest with 999, 071 votes, defeating the All Progressive Congress'candidate, UmanaOkon Umana, who scored 89, 865 votes. 

A native of Awa Iman, in Onnal local government area, Udom Emmanuel attended Secondary Commercial School, Ikot Akpan Ishietin Onna LG A from

where he obtained his West African Examination Council’s Certificate (WAEC). From there, Udom Emmanuel went on to attend the School of Arts and Science, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where he received his Advanced Certificate of Basic Studies (CBS) and a Higher School Certificate (HSC). He enrolled at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in

Accounting in 1988. He has also attended the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD, France. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession and trained with Price Waterhouse Coopers and is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management.

Before his appointment in 2013 as Secretary to the State Government, Udom Emmanuel was Executive Director on the Board of Zenith Bank Pic since He joined Zenith Bank in 1996 from Diamond Bank Limited and was the pioneer Manager of its Lagos Central Branch.

He served as Chief Financial Officer of Zenith Bank Pic. He also served as Group Head of Income Optimisation, Financial Control and Strategic Planning Department at Zenith, was in charge of the Telecommunications Sector as well as serving as overall General Manager.

Udom Emmanuel also doubled as Non- Executive Director, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) from 2008 to the time of his appointment, and Director, Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement Systems (NIBBS) from 2009; Non-Executive Director,

Zenith Bank, United Kingdom; Zenith Bank- Gambia; Zenith Bank-Sierra Leone; Zenith Insurance; Zenith Pensions and Custodian; Zenith Securities; Zenith Trustees and Zenith Registrars. 

Emmanuel and his family are devoted members of Qua Iboe Church, Nigeria where he serves as a deacon.

 

How to wreck a country

By anyone’s standards, Lybia is a failed state that threatens to destabilise the rest of Africa. The blame for this lies with NATO, writes Moffat Ekoriko

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama must be gifted in euphemism. Asked about the outcome of the NATO intervention in Libya, he said it is a “mess”. The reporter who anchored the interview apparently taken aback wrote: “Mess is the president’s diplo­matic term; privately, he calls Libya a ‘shot show’.”

The reality is that Libya, once one of the most stable countries in Africa with high ratings on the human development index (HDI), has become a failed state. Hell would have been a better four-letter word to describe a country with no functional gov­ernment, ridden with competing armed mili­tias and one of the three with territories held by the Islamic State. The chaos in Libya is down to the NATO military intervention in the country of 2011, which went ahead despite the protests of the African Union.

As at the time of going to press, the gov­ernment of national unity formed at the instance of the United Nations in January was still based in neighbouring Tunisia. It was meant to end the feud between two rival administrations, one based in Tripoli and the other in the eastern town of Tobruk. The new government, made of 32 cabinet members, was the culmination of a UN- backed peace process. A nine member pres­idential council was set up and tasked with the mandate of appointing the new admin­istration. On the surface of it, this new gov­ernment should work. It has representatives from the two rival parliaments. Fayez Sarraj, a politician from the east will serve as the prime minister. Al-Aref al-Khoga, former interior minister from the west, retains his portfolio in the new arrangement. Khaled Nejm from the east will be responsible for information with Mahdi al Barghathi, an army commander from the east taking charge of defence.

However, given the chaos prevalent in the country, the new government is unable to set foot in Tripoli. Reports say the planned relocation of the new unity government to Tripoli was thwarted by Khalifa Al Ghweil, the prime minister of the Tripoli-based fac­tional government. The new government is also suffering legitimacy questions following the inability of the internationally recognised parliament based at Tobruk to pass a reso­lution endorsing it.

Aguila Saleh Issa, the president of the the Tobruk parliament, had called for debate to endorse the new government, March 28, but there are not enough members to form a quorum. Although the new government said late March, that the security arrangements for it to relocate to Tripoli were complete and that it was mindful of “saving Libyan blood” and therefore wanted to move there when there is guarantee of peace.

Ghweil does not appear to be thinking of that peace. A day before the announcement, he closed the airports at Tripoli and Misrata following rumours that Sarraj was going to fly into the country to assume office., leaving thousands of travellers stranded at the airport.

Even when the new government takes over, it will have to grapple with the wors­ening security situation in the country. Libya is now broken into fiefdoms controlled by different militia. Efforts to disarm the militia have been frustrated by the absence of a national army and a stable political authority. The government faction in Tripoli is backed by Islamist militia. What should be the national army is controlled by Khalifa Haftar, supportive of the Tobruk govern­ment but opposed to Islamists. In between the two major forces are tribal and town based militias.

To compound the security crisis, the dreaded Islamic State (IS) has made Libya its third area of operation. With forces based in around Sirte, the home town of Gaddafi, the IS forces pose a threat to any attempt to impose a nationwide order. Apart from their trademark brutality, IS forces are kid­napping people from as far afield as Tripoli and Adjabbiya. Late last month, they exe­cuted three Libyan army soldiers seized while on leave from their duty posts in Benghazi. The presence of the group has also attracted the intervention of foreign forces. US troops have carried out regular air attacks against the group (without seeking the consent of any government in Libya). So have the Egyptians and the Emirati.

As the security situation worsens, so has the economy. Oil production dropped to 396,000 barrels per day in February against peak production of 1.4 million barrels per day before the overthrow of the Gaaddafi government. The standard of living has plummeted as Libyans face shortages and spiralling cost of staple foods.

It will be an uphill task to stop Libya from falling into complete anarchy not to talk of restoring it to stability. That Libya is in such a state is down to the recklessness of the NATO for effecting regime change and failing to take responsibility for stabilising the country after that. President Obama who led the military operation to topple Gaddafi, said he had believed that the Europeans (in this case, Britain and France) would invest in the follow up. Some Middle East experts like Alan Kuperman of the Texas University at Austin think the present crisis in Libya was totally avoidable since NATO had no real reason to intervene.

So what went wrong? Towards the end of 2010, the Arab Street was very restive. A revolt had dramatically sacked the govern­ments in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. The success of the protesters had started what was called the Arab Spring. The once impregnable autocrats of the Mddle East, not least Muammar Gaddafi, were looking vulnerable.

In February 2011, following the arrest of a lawyer representing the families of 1,200 people who died in prison, protests broke out in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city and later spread to other urban areas. The security forces batded to contain the unrest, which were becoming increasingly violent. By the middle of March 2011, the protests had turned into a full blown rebellion but much of Libya lies bi ruins following NATO’s disastrous intervention the rebels were no match for Gaddafi’s forces. One city after the other, the security forces established order, save for Benghazi, which had become the de facto epicentre of the rebellion. It is at this point that foreign forces stepped in, claiming that Gaddafi was planning to massacre his own people there.

Countries that had axes to grind with him quickly rallied round the rebels, investing their political and diplomatic capital to win them legitimacy. Media from the west and Gulf countries quickly swung behind the narrative. Aljazeera’s false report that Gaddafi’s air force was strafing and bombing civilians in Benghazi was seized upon by those pushing for a no-fly zone. The Saudi- owned channel Al Arabiya reported falsely that the death toll from the clashes was 10,000. Human Rights Watch documented only 233.

Sections of the rebel leadership, much of which had been courted by the CIA for years, were emboldened. The height of this support was a Linited Nations Security Council resolution, which was obtained under the guise of preventing a massacre of civilians by regime forces. The UN Resolution 1973 (passed March 17, 2011) imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and autho­rised the use of all necessary means, save an occupation, to protect civilians. This sup­posed humanitarian intervention was a follow up to the sanctions and embargoes earlier imposed on the country three weeks before then.

Unknown to many, including the Russians who abstained, the trio of the US, Britain and France secretly had regime change at the top of their agenda. Within 24 hours of that resolution, NATO forces attacked Libya. Targets of air strikes included members of the government. With such an advanced air force at their disposal, the rebels became hostile to all efforts at achiev­ing a political resolution.

One of such efforts that was rebuffed by the rebels came from the African Union. After its opposition to military intervention was ignored, the AU came up with a peace plan. The plan was spearheaded by a high powered committee led by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Other members of the committee were presidents Mohammed Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Amadou Toure of Mali, Dennis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Brazaville and Yoweri Museveni of Llganda.

Under the plan, there was to be an imme­diate ceasefire, unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals, dialogue between the government  and rebels on a political setdement and the suspension of NATO air strikes. The embattled Gaddafi, after meeting with Zuma and three other heads of state plus the foreign minister of Uganda in Tripoli, readily accepted the roadmap. But with NATO behind them, the rebels binned the plan. They insisted there would be no peace until Gaddafi and his sons stood down. NATO was equally dismissive.

What was most shocking was the approach of the western media. According to the BBC in its report of the peace plan: “The situation is muddied by money. Col Gaddafi has bankrolled the AU for years and he has bought friends in Africa.” Translation: the AU has been bought by Gaddafi.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The funding of the AU is through the contribution of all member states and the ratio is pre-determined based on the financial capability of individual countries. Libya’s contributions would have been based on the agreed parameters. Even then, it would not have been more than the contributions of Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Besides, such funding would be by Libya as a member state and not Gaddafi as an indi­vidual.

Even with the rebuff from the rebels and insults by the media, the AU did not give up. Zuma made a further trip to Tripoli six weeks later but NATO was in no mood to stop despite further concessions by Gaddafi. Contrary to the perception in the west, the AU dreaded the consequences of Gaddafi’s forced exit from power. There were three dangers: One, Libya could become a failed state. The tribal and ethnic mix of Libya was such that the forced removal of the government would make it difficult to build a political consensus for post- Gaddafi sta­bility. Having lived with consequences of Somalia, African countries knew the cost of having a failed state in the region.

Two, Libya had a huge arms arsenal, which would be difficult to secure in such a vast country. AU felt that these arms would spread all over the region. Three, there were other Africans in the Libyan Army who would return home with military skills to pose a destabilising risk to their home coun­tries. Four, among the rebels were Islamists and terrorists and the AU feared the conse­quences of giving them a safe haven in an post-Gaddafi Libya. Gaddafi, himself, in a tearful letter to Obama, begged NATO to back off so that Libyans could decide its future “within the African Union frame”.

Africa is paying a high cost for NATO’s arrogance. The arms looted from Libya has found its way to armed insurgents in many different parts of the continent. The country itself has become a haven for ter­rorists, threatening the spread of IS. President Obama thinks the problem with Libya is that NATO did not enter the country with a force strong enough to rebuild Libya after the war.

Kuperman thinks the president is wrong. “The error in Libya was not an inadequate intervention effort, but the decision to inter­vene in the first place. The AU is vindicated.”

 

 

Foreign affairs in Ghana – how President Mahama is pursuing regional co-opperation

Foreign affairs – As Ecowas chair, President Mahama has worked hard to pursue regional co-operation, particularly in the fight against Ebola and Boko Haram, thereby enhancing Ghana’s image   

When the heads of state of the regional political grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (Eco­was), decided to extend President John Mahama’s tenure as chair at their summit in December, it was seen as an endorsement of his leadership skills.

First elected in March 2014, his chairmanship has put Ghana back in the international limelight, particularly following his response to the Ebola crisis in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia last year. According to the head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Anthony Banbury, Ghana’s decision to allow its territory to be used as a logistics base for international flights to affected countries helped to contain the further spread of the disease.

Mahama worked hard for greater international assistance for the three affected countries telling an extraordinary summit of Ecowas leaders on Ebola last year: “The devastation of this Ebola epidemic does not have to signal an end for these countries. With the attention and the assistance of the world, it could also symbolise the birth of something vibrant and beautiful.”

He also challenged statements in the western media that depicted Ebola as a ‘West African epidemic’, pointing out that only three of the region’s 16 nations were seriously affected. 
In January, the president hit the headlines again when he called for an African Union-mandated force to “deal with the menace” of Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries during a visit to Germany.

He told the broadcaster Deutsche Welle: “I think that considering the current activities of Boko Haram it is important for us to deal with it more comprehensively by looking at it collectively, either through a regional force, or through some kind of multinational force.

“We are going to go to the AU and ask for a discussion on terrorism in Africa with particular reference to Boko Haram and I believe that if the AU gives us the mandate then we will go ahead and set up a regional force to assist Nigeria and Cameroon deal with the menace.”
While he was unclear whether Ghana would contribute to such a force, he insisted that at a regional level the countries could mobilise enough troops to be able to do the job, and that assistance from the west would be more in terms of logistics and equipment and finance, and not “boots on the ground”.

Meanwhile in his capacity as Ecowas chair, he rallied support for crisis-hit Guinea Bissau and Mali last year, while in Burkina Faso he brokered a deal to put in place a transitional government within a year following long-term ruler Blasie Compaore’s removal from power by a popular uprising last October.

President Mahama’s march on the international scene is all part of what foreign affair minister Hannah Tetteh says is Ghana’s policy of ‘good neighbourliness’. “The pursuit of peace and security in the West African sub-region will continue to be given high priority in the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy as they are essential for growth and prosperity,” Tetteh said. Indeed, the country’s internal peace, security and development would remain inseparable from that of the sub-region, she added.

The promotion of mutual trust and confidence among regional leaders is also seen as the basis for addressing common challenges like money laundering, drug and child trafficking and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons that are no respecter of national borders.

As part of Ecowas, Ghana is promoting greater and freer trade and movement of persons, goods and services within the grouping. Tetteh told West African parliamentarians last year that despite the Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme, member countries continue to face serious challenges in moving goods and services across borders because of stringent border post arrangements, as well as numerous security checkpoints in each country, pointing out that businesses had to pay approximately $50 as bribe in order to transport goods from Ghana to Burkina Faso and vice-versa.

On the wider continental stage, the Mahama government has been busy on the AU front. “Ghana continues to actively support the African Union and fully participates in its deliberations in the collective efforts to promote peace, stability and economic development of the African continent,” said Tetteh.

In a riposte to those who have criticised Mahama’s busy travel agenda, Tetteh said in December: “How do you expect him to sit back at home and look on while Ebola is killing thousands in Liberia and the other affected countries? And how do you expect him not to go to Burkina Faso when the recent tension there can have a toll on Ghana when citizens of that country decide to seek asylum here?”

She gave notice that the president would be frequently packing his bags again in 2015, given that elections were scheduled to be held in Togo, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. “It is very important that as Ecowas chair he [President Mahama] dialogues with both sides of the political parties involved in those elections to agree on terms and conditions before, during and after the elections to ensure peace in the sub-region,” she said.

The foreign affairs ministry has also worked hard to develop international goodwill and solidarity by maintaining a reasonably high diplomatic presence abroad, which has yielded for the country appreciable levels of foreign direct investments, as well as sustaining a positive image for Ghana.

The president has made a number of high-level official visits to Europe, flying to Berlin and London earlier this year for bilateral talks, following on from similar forays in Oslo and Copenhagen, the latter resulting in Denmark donating $1.3m to Ghana’s anti-Ebola measures.  
During a three-day official visit to France in 2013, President Mahama used the opportunity to meet with the French business community under the auspices of the Mouvement des Entreprises de France, where discussions centred on partnership between French and Ghanaian companies in agriculture, energy and infrastructure development, particularly the expansion of the Tema motorway.

In the same year, shortly after his election, Mahama controversially defied international sanctions to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “We have welcomed President Ahmadinejad to Ghana as we would any president that decides to come to Ghana,” he said at the time.

“These visits have provided opportunities for the principals to exchange views and to coordinate positions on issues of national, regional and international concern,” commented Tetteh. “They have also provided the settings for concluding bilateral agreements that have brought substantial economic benefits to Ghana.”  

In the area of educational, scientific and technical cooperation, the foreign affairs ministry has facilitated the receipt of a number of scholarships and training programme offers from various countries and international organisations for qualified Ghanaians to pursue further studies and training in the fields of medicine, food sciences, informatics, economics, security, negotiations, agriculture. For example, the Korea International Cooperation Agency sponsored 25 Ghanaians in postgraduate and training programmes, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations supported 16 in undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD studies.  

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