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CDD decries the Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF) Bill as being in conflict with the 1999 Constitution as amended

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CDD DECRIES THE CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND (CDCF) BILL AS BEING IN CONFLICT WITH THE 1999 CONSTITUTION AS AMENDED
Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, February 6, 2017
 
THE Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) raises concern on the proposed Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF) Bill sponsored by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai. The main purpose of the Bill is to execute projects that would promote government presence in each of the state constituencies. This objective had been pursued by previous administration in Nigeria and elsewhere without much success.  Since the return to democracy in 1999, constituency projects and its implementation have been generating a lot of backlash from the citizenry and stakeholders alike. In fact, part of the criticism has generally been its lack of accountability, the practice of legislatures nominating projects and contractors and failure of these ‘constituency projects’ to yield much dividends for constituents. It is not news that in many states of the Federation, necessary facilities which are taken for granted in some urban centers such as accessible roads, clean water, schools, dignified housing and toilets as well as functional health centers remains a challenge in Nigeria.
CDD is however concerned that the bill if passed into law, will whittle down decentralization and local government administration in Nigeria.  This Bill challenges the autonomy of local government, an important tier of government; for instance, by the creation of the Constituencies Development Catalyst Committee, a dependent role is created for the local government executives and opens a risk for patronage and clientele corruption with their legislative counterparts.
CDD further opines that while it is commendable to have NGOs on the proposed committee, the selection criteria itself is faulty.  Other opaque provisions in the Bill are an open ended reporting process, gap in audit process and lack of clear processes for dissolution or expulsion of committee members upon confirmation of fraud.
We will like to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that similar bills as the CDCF have failed to make impact in other jurisdictions; Kenya and Tanzania are readily available examples.
In Tanzania, the Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund Act which is very similar to this Bill, failed to achieve much progress for grass root development, or address the realities of direct participation of constituents while the law was also weak on holding corrupt public officials accountable.
 
In fact, the Kenyan Development Fund 2003 was scrapped and declared ‘unconstitutional’ by the Kenyan High Court in 2015. We call on Nigeria to take a cue from the experiences of these nations.
CDD is concerned that the Bill challenges the autonomy of the local government administration and does not support the approach of this Bill to circumvent the strictly oversight role of the legislature stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
 
Signed:
Idayat Hassan
Director
 
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is as an independent, not-for-profit, research training, advocacy and capacity building organization, established in the United Kingdom in 1997. Our purpose is to mobilize global opinion and resources for democratic development and provide an independent space to reflect critically on the challenges posed to the democratization and development processes in West Africa.
 
For more information, contact: Glory Ukwenga on gukwenga@cddwestafrica.org or +234 81 3944 9588 / Austin Aigbe on aaigbe@cddwestafrica.org or +234 805 436 3104

THE GAMBIA: West Africa cannot afford another conflagration

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January 18th, 2015
 
THE GAMBIA: WEST AFRICAN ACANNOT AFFORD ANOTHER CONFLAGRATION
 
The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) views the rapidly evolving political developments in the Gambia with utmost concern. The country’s December 1st, 2015, presidential election resulted in a defeat and initial concession of defeat from long-time dictator, President Yahya Jammeh. The fate of the Gambia was however thrown into uncertainty when President Jammeh, in a dramatic volte-face, retracted his concession and unanimously annulled the election. Jammeh has rather declared that new elections be held on the grounds that the initial election results, which handed the victory to opposition leader, Adama Barrow, were unacceptable to him.
 
Following the December election, a new government should be inaugurated on Thursday, 19th January. Despite intense diplomatic interventions from the international community, spearheaded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Jammeh appears to have dug in his heels, triggering a volatile quagmire.
 
CDD continues to closely monitor the efforts of the ECOWAS, but is significantly worried that President Jammeh is hell-bent on triggering a political impasse as he refuses to step down at the expiration of his tenure. Only today, Mr. Jammeh imposed an illegitimate 90-day emergency rule over Gambia. This action has heightened tension in the West African country and further portends danger for the fragile situations around the sub-region. We are gravely concerned about the possible political, security and humanitarian dimensions this may trigger.
 
We are aware of President Jammeh’s attempts to draft lawyers and Justices from other West African nations, especially Nigeria, to validate his unconscionable actions to thwart the freely expressed choice of Gambians to elect a new leader. This dangerous afterthought and uncanny quest to further tenure elongation negates all known democratic covenants and violates the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.
 
We urge the outgoing President Jammeh to respect the will of his people and take immediate steps to proceed with the transition arrangements to usher a new administration. Particularly, we urge all political, governance and institutional actors in The Gambia to work closely together to deescalate the heightened security situation and to ensure compliance with all Constitutional provisions leading to installation of a new government. We further urge the Chiefs of Security institutions in the Gambia to abide by their Constitutional oaths of office and to ensure that peace, security, law and order are maintained at all times during this transition period. We call for the protection and fidelity to national security rather than regime security.
 
We urge the international community to continue to take steps toward a Constitutional change of government, especially to ensure that all political actors in the Gambia obey relevant national and international codes for a smooth transition of power.
 
The CDD will continue to side with the good people of The Gambia and the international community, as we work side-by-side with other regional partners, in the affirmation of the outcome of the Presidential election of December 1st, 2016.
 
Signed,
 
 
Idayat HASSAN
Director
Abuja, Tuesday, 17th January 2017.
 
 

Africa Policy in the Trump Administration American University’s Mary Graydon Center

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Africa Policy in the Trump Administration

Ameriaucan University’s Mary Graydon Center rooms 203-205   

Wednesday, January 18 at 6:00 pm
Hosted by the School of International Service Africa Cluster
 
Sylveokerester Okere is the Democratic National Committee’s Liaison to the African Diaspora and the Congressional Black Caucus. He is a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University and President/CEO of the African Entrepreneurs Coalition and United People for African Congress. He assisted President Obama with the Young African Leaders Initiative and served as a Maryland superdelegate in 2016.
 
ClaireClaire Metelits is Professorial Lecturer in the School of International Service. She is the author of Security in Africa: A Critical Approach to Western Indicators of Threat (2016), Democratic Contestation on the Margins (2015), and Inside Insurgency (2010). She previously worked as an advisor to the U.S. Army and the military’s Africa Command.
 
phelanMike Phelan is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Senior Advisor for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sub-Sahara Africa. He directs oversight of U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance. As a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, he served as a pilot and Foreign Area Officer.
 

The moderator, Carl LeVan, is Associate Professor in the School of International Service and the author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development: the Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria.

 
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This event is being organized in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development, Nigeria’s leading think tank, is hosting a conference in Abuja on US policy towards Africa on January 17

 
Parking is free on AU’s campus after 5 pm. The closest Metro is Tenleytown, where a free shuttle runs to campus every 10 minutes.
For additional information: metelits@american.edu 

REQUEST FOR CONSULTANT

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REQUEST FOR CONSULTANT
Project Title: De-radicalization, Counter- Terrorism and Migration in Northeast Nigeria (DCM Project)
The Project: The project aims to support the security agencies and civil society organizations in developing and disseminating counter-radical narratives to radical ideologies of fundamentalist groups in Nigeria.  It intends to address increasing distrust between the security agencies and the communities which has further accentuated the emergence of extremists and rendered ineffective government’s counter-terrorism measures, including the prevention of irregular migration. This Project will therefore focus on capacity-building and networking first for critical security institutions involve in stabilizing the geographical areas recovered by Nigerian government through its security institutions. The activities will be carried out across ten communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe who have been to be viable communities for the project. The concerned Agencies are: The Nigeria Police Force (NPF); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Force (NSCDF); National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
Activity
In an effort to effectively contribute to the of de-radicalisation and countering violent extremism (CVE) knowledge bank in Nigeria and the world over, a knowledge product containing good practices on countering violent extremism and the impact the DCM Project has made to the CVE landscape in Nigeria will be produced.
 
The centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is hiring consultants to develop the knowledge document.
 
Key Responsibilities:

  • Propose a draft outline of the content of the Knowledge Product based.
  • Collect the relevant practical examples, comparative cases studies, videos and documentation
  • Facilitate a Methodology and Validation meeting
  • Develop a final version of the Knowledge Product after validation

 
Academic Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in Administration or in any Social Sciences discipline. Additional training or experience in a broad range of related fields, such as mental health and stress related issues;

Experience:

  • Minimum of 7 years’ experience in training and development of training materials;
  • Proven experience in research and development of knowledge product documents Proven experience in writing manuals, booklets or similar training materials;
  • Proven and extensive experience in designing and developing reports and knowledge documents to finalized status;
  • Proven experience in the usage of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel, etc.) is a requirement.

 
CV of interested Consultant must be sent by mail to recruitment@cddwestafrica.org using CONSULTANT in capital letters as title of mail  before March 15 2017
 
Project Title: De-radicalization, Counter- Terrorism and Migration in Northeast Nigeria (DCM Project)
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is hiring consultants to conduct monitoring and evaluation of its project activity in the North East, Nigeria.
 
The Project: The project aims to support the security agencies and civil society organizations in developing and disseminating counter-radical narratives to radical ideologies of fundamentalist groups in Nigeria.  It intends to address increasing distrust between the security agencies and the communities which has further accentuated the emergence of extremists and rendered ineffective government’s counter-terrorism measures, including the prevention of irregular migration. This Project will therefore focus on capacity-building and networking first for critical security institutions involve in stabilizing the geographical areas recovered by Nigerian government through its security institutions. The activities will be carried out across ten communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe who have been to be viable communities for the project. The concerned Agencies are: The Nigeria Police Force (NPF); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
 
Scope of Work
To design monitoring and evaluation tool to assess change in knowledge and impact of the project. The consultant shall also be responsible for conducting on spot checks on the project activity to ensure it conform to design. Review, analyse and develop M&E plan and report to be submitted not longer than three days after completion of each activity.
 
Academic Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree preferred with substantial experience in M&E design and work. Previous M&E engagement in the North Nigeria is an added advantage.

Experience:

  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience in training and development of M&E tools;
  • Proven experience in research development and evidence based report writing
  • Proven experience in the usage of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel, etc.) is a requirement.

 
CV of interested Consultant must be sent by mail to recruitment@cddwestafrica.org using CONSULTANT in capital letters as title of mail  before March 15 2017
 

Fiftieth ordinary session of the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government

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17 December 2016, Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria
FINAL COMMUNIQUE
1. The Fiftieth Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was convened on 17 December 2016 in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the chairmanship of H. E. Mrs Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, President of the Republic of Liberia and current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
2. The session was attended by the under-listed Heads of State and Government or their duly mandated representatives:
H. E. Mr Alassane OUATTARA, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
H.E. Mr John Dramani MAHAMA, President of the Republic of Ghana
H.E. Prof. Alpha CONDE, President of the Republic of Guinea
H.E. Mr José Mário Vaz, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau
H. E. Mrs Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, President of the Republic of Liberia
H.E. Mr Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, President of the Republic of Mali
H. E. Mr Mahamadou ISSOUFOU, President of the Republic of Niger
H.E. Mr Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
H. E. Mr Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal
H. E. Mr Ernest Bai KOROMA, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone
H.E. Mr Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, President of the Togolese Republic
H. E. Aurelien A. AGBENONCI, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Benin
H. E. Alpha BARRY, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Burkinabe Abroad of Burkina Faso
H. E. Cesar MONTEIRO, Ambassador of Cabo Verde in Senegal
Hon. Bala GARBA-JAHUMPA, Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure of The Gambia
3. The Summit was also attended by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and the special representative of the UN Secretary General for Guinea Bissau and Head of UNIOGBIS, Mr. Brahim Modibo Touré, as well as representatives of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) as observers.
4. During their session, the Heads of State and Government took note of the 2016 Annual Report of the President of the Commission and the Reports of the 77th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and of the 37th Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council.
5. The Heads of State and Government welcomed the quality of the reports submitted by the Council of Ministers, as well as the relevant recommendations contained therein. They also commended the excellent work accomplished by Community Institutions for the consolidation of the achievements of West Africa’s integration and reaffirmed their firm commitment to the attainment of regional integration goals, in an environment of sustainable peace, security and good governance.
6. The Authority warmly congratulated His Excellency Jorge Carlos de Almeida FONSECA, President of the Republic of Cabo Verde on his re-election as President of the Republic of Cabo Verde and wished him success in his second term. It equally congratulated His Excellency Nana Addo Akufo-Addo on his election as the Presidentelect of the Republic of Ghana and paid glowing tributes to H.E. John Dramani Mahama for demonstrating a great spirit of statesmanship by accepting the outcome of the elections.
7. The Heads of State and Government recalled that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in 2017 in the Republic of Liberia and directed the ECOWAS Commission to provide the necessary assistance to Liberia in conformity with the relevant provisions of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
8. Reaffirming their commitment to deepening the integration process in West Africa, the Heads of State and Government, after deliberations, endorsed the main recommendations contained in the different reports, and then considered the following specific issues:
ON WEST AFRICAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE
9. The Authority welcomed the progress made in some Member States, nearing double-digit growth rates, but expressed concern about the region’s poor performance due mainly to the combined negative effects of the fall in oil prices since 2014 on the fiscal balance of oil-exporting countries, particularly Nigeria, deteriorating prices of other commodities, especially mineral ores as well as the fragile political situation in some countries.
10. In this respect, it urged Member States to initiate the necessary structural reforms and take appropriate economic and financial stimulus measures in order to be less vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and improve their economies’ resilience to exogenous shocks.
ON REGIONAL INTEGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT MATTERS
Concerning free movement of persons and goods
11. The Authority is concerned about the continuing obstacles to free movement of persons and goods in the Community.
12. The Heads of State and Government invite Member States to take all the necessary measures to strictly implement all the provisions of the Protocol on free movement of persons and goods, right of residence and establishment.
13. The Authority welcomes the setting up of the Presidential Task Force on free movement, and urges the Task Force to recommend as soon as possible innovative and effective measures to curb the scourge.
14. It directs the Commission to intensify awareness creation for the Community citizenry and regularly organise joint sensitisation meetings between border security services and the local populations.
CONCERNING AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES
15. The Authority took note of two key initiatives underway, namely the finalisation of the 2nd phase of the National Agricultural Investment Programmes (NAIPs) in Member States and the fostering of cooperation between the State of Israel in the areas of agriculture and rural development. The Authority approves the participation of the Prime Minister of Israel, H.E. Benjamin Netanyahu as an Observer in the next ECOWAS Summit where he would make a presentation on the experience of his country in the Agricultural sector
16. The Authority further endorsed the approval of the Council of Ministers regarding the decision of the African Union to transfer the Regional Integrated Development Support Programme for the Fouta Djallon Highlands to ECOWAS, given its importance for the Community as the watershed for most of the major rivers within the Community. ON INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT,
17. The Authority emphasised the need to develop road, railway, air and maritime infrastructure necessary for boosting intra-Community trade, to enhance development prospects and to assist in the fight against poverty. In this regard, it urged Member States to pursue efforts aimed at encouraging the structural transformation of the region’s economies and infrastructure developmen. CONCERNING THE HOLDING OF THE ROUNDTABLE FOR THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (CDP),
18. The Authority took note of the high-level consultations undertaken by the Commission, culminating, on the one hand, in the Ivorian Authorities’ decision to hold the CDP roundtable by the end of March 2017, and on the other hand, in the acceptance of the African Development Bank to lead and mobilise effective participation of other partners in the process. ON INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS Concerning the ongoing institutional reforms
19. The Authority took note of ongoing institutional reforms in the Commission and other ECOWAS Institutions. It stressed the need for the reforms to take account of the economic and financial situation within our region thus paving the way for the establishment of cost effective, efficient and sustainable structures for the Community.
20. The Authority commends the President of the Commission for the cost containment measures adopted for running the affairs of the community and encouraged him to continue in his efforts at controlling community expenses.
21. The Heads of State and Government adopted the Supplementary Act on the enhancement of powers of the ECOWAS Parliament to enable the Parliament, on a gradual basis to perform the traditional roles of a Parliament. The Supplementary Act empowers the Parliament to have mandatory referrals on a number of Community policies and programmes as well as mandatory assent or opinion on the matters referred to it. AS REGARDS RESOURCE MOBILISATION FOR FUNDING COMMUNITY PROGRAMMES
22. The Authority commends the Commission for its efforts at embarking on other innovative methods of mobilising resources for Community activities through the expansion of its partnerships.
23. Member States have been urged to quickly pay their call-up capital and support EBID in the mobilisation of concessional resources from financial partners to fund infrastructure projects.
ON ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EPA) AND COMMON EXTERNAL TARIFF (CET) CONCERNING THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EPA)
24. The Authority took note of the ratification of the Interim EPAs by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in order to continue to preserve preferential access to the European market beyond 1 October 2016. The Authority urges Member States that have not signed the EPA yet, to do so, in order to eliminate the existence of multiple trade regimes in the region with a view to consolidating our regional integration agenda.
REGARDING THE COMMON EXTERNAL TARIFF (CET)
25. The Authority welcomes the progress made in the implementation of the CET, especially the validation of regulations aimed at facilitating its implementation. To this end, it urges Member States that are yet to do so, to fast-track the implementation of the CET, and directs the Commission to provide them with the needed support.
ON PEACE, SECURITY AND DEMOCRACY
26. The Authority reaffirms the importance of peace, security and stability in ECOWAS for the economic development of the region.
27. The Authority expresses deep indignation at the terrorist attacks of Friday, 16 December 2016 against a detachment of the Groupement des Forces Anti-terroristes
de l’Armée (GFAT) which resulted in the death of twelve people whilst many others sustained injuries. The Authority strongly condemns this latest attack and expresses its sympathy and full solidarity with the people, Army and Government of Burkina Faso.
28. The Authority honours the memory of the victims of the attacks, presents its condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the wounded persons prompt recovery.
29. It reaffirms its determination to relentlessly pursue the fight against terrorism and lauds the efforts by Member States to prevent and address this scourge. It commends the activities of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram, as well as the clear results obtained by the Force in spite of the difficulties encountered.
30. The Authority recalls that the fight against terrorism is the collective responsibility of the international community and thereby calls on development partners to support Member States of the region and the Multinational Joint Force against Boko Haram in the fight against terrorism.
31. The Authority expresses concern over the serious humanitarian situation occasioned by Boko Haram attacks in North-East Nigeria, affecting 14 million people, 7 million of which require humanitarian aid, the majority being children. It regrets the high number of displaced people and refugees in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. The Authority commends the Governments of Nigeria and Niger, as well as other countries who are taking in refugees as well as partners, for their efforts at resolving the humanitarian crisis. The Authority decides to create a special solidarity Fund for the victims of terrorism and calls on the international community to support the implementation of the ‘Buhari Plan” for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of NorthEast Nigeria.
32. In order to promote human rights and inclusive govenance mainly with regards to women and youths, the Authority decides to set aside the 16th January of every year as the ECOWAS Human Rights day. This day is symbolic in the region as it marks the ascension to power of Her Excellency Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President of the Republic of Liberia and the first African Woman Head of State.
ON THE SITUATION IN THE GAMBIA
33. The Authority has considered the worrying political situation in The Gambia arising from the decision of His Excellency President Yahya Jammeh to reject the results of the presidential election of 1st December 2016 which had resulted in the election of Mr Adama Barrow as the president-elect of The Gambia.
34. The Authority notes that His Excellency President Yahya Jammeh had initially accepted the results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission on 2 Dcember 2016 and congratulated the new President-elect before changing his mind based on corrections to the initial results by the Electoral Commission which however did not alter the outcome of the election
35. It commends H. E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government for the efficiency with which she managed the situation in The Gambia and the firm position taken on behalf of the Authority.
36. The Authority lauds the initiative that fielded a high-level mission of Heads of State comprising Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, H.E. Ernest Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, and H.E. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, to Banjul on 13 December 2016 to review the political situation with all stakeholders.
37. The Authority calls on President Yahya Jammeh to accept the result of the polls and refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power to the President-elect.
38. The Head of States and Government further agreed on the following: a) To uphold the result of 1st December 2016 election in the Republic of The Gambia. b) Guarantee the Safety and protection of the President-elect Mr. Adama Barrow. c) That all Head of States will attend the inauguration of the President-elect Adama Barrow who must be sworn in on 19th January 2017 in conformity with the Gambian constitution. d) Call on the Government and the Coalition Parties to show restraint in order to preserve national unity. e) To respect the will of the Gambian people as expressed by the Presidential election results of 1st December 2016; f) That His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will serve as the Mediator in the Gambia and His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana as the Co-chair. The mediation process shall be conducted on the basis of terms agreed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government;
g) Requests the endorsement of the AU and the UN on all decisions taken on the matter of The Gambia and also requests their support for the mediation efforts of ECOWAS including the provision of technical assistance where required; h) The Authority shall take all necessary actions to enforce the results of 1st December 2016 elections;
39. The Authority encourages all stakeholders, within and outside The Gambia, to exercise restraint, respect the rule of law and ensure the peaceful transfer of power. It calls on the Gambian defence and security forces to perform their role in a nationalistic manner and protect lives and property.
ON THE SITUATION IN GUINEA-BISSAU
40. The Authority reaffirms its deep concern over the protracted political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau due to the inability of political stakeholders to reach a lasting and consensual solution. It stresses that the crisis undermines the implementation of commitments made by development partners since March 2015, to support the economic and social reconstruction of the country.
41. The Authority commends H.E. Professor Alpha Condé, President of Guinea and ECOWAS Mediator, for Guinea Bissau, H.E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, H.E. Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government for their efforts which, on 6 September 2016 in Bissau, led to the adoption by the stakeholders, of a 6-point roadmap to end the current crisis in the country.
42. The Authority commends H.E. Professor Alpha Condé, for the excellent mediation efforts which led to the signing of the Conakry Accord by the political parties on 14 October 2016 in Conakry that is aimed at finding a lasting solution to the protracted political crisis in that country. The Authority reaffirmed that the Conakry Accord remains the only framework for the attainment of a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Guinea Bissau.
43. The Authority salutes the leadership demonstrated by H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, for her active involvement in the process to find a solution to the crisis.
44. The Authority urges the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau to comply with the provisions of the Conakry Accord and calls on all parties to strictly respect and comply with the tenets of the Accord.
45. The Authority directs the Commission to provide the necessary technical support required for the implementation of Conakry Accord.
46. The Authority once again commends the non-interference of the Army in the political crisis and strongly urges it to continue in like manner.
47. The Authority reiterates the withdrawal of ECOMIB on 30 June 2017 and directs the Commission to commence operations for the gradual withdrawal starting in the first quarter of 2017.
ON THE SITUATION IN MALI
48. The Authority notes that in spite of progress made, there are still challenges to the full and effective implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, including insecurity, lack of commitment by some armed group signatories to the Agreement and inadequate financial resources, despite pledges made by the international community.
49. The Authority strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks on civilian populations, humanitarian workers, the Malian Defence and Security Forces, and MINUSMA. It reaffirms its strong attachment to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Mali. It equally reiterates support for the peace process and urges all stakeholders to comply with it.
50. The Authority calls on group signatories to the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement to show good faith, sincerity and goodwill in the commitments with regard to the agreement following the adoption of measures by Government to facilitate their integration into the institutional arrangement.
51. It welcomes the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2295 (2016) and calls for the gradual redeployment of the Malian Defence and Security Forces to enable them play their sovereign role of protecting the Malian nation but also as first line of defence for the populations and their property.
52. The Authority urges signatory movements to desist from any attempt to undermine the restoration of State authority throughout the country.
53. It calls on partners to provide the necessary support to the Government of Mali for the effective implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and enhance the capacities of the Malian Defence and Security Forces to enable them execute their mandate all over the national territory.
54. The Authority directs the President of the Commission to take the necessary steps to organise, as soon as possible, an international conference on the security situation in Mali, in conjunction with the AU and United Nations, with a view to assessing the most appropriate means of intervention likely to enhance the efficiency of the actions underway in order to preserve Mali’s territorial integrity.
ON THE SITUATION IN BURKINA FASO
55. The Authority expressed satisfaction over the return to constitutional order and restoring of political stability in Burkina, since the 2015 presidential elections, and urged the Burkinabe authorities to expedite the implementation of institutional and security sector reforms.
56. The Authority congratulated the Government of Burkina Faso for the successful organisation of the donors’ conference to support the National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDES) held in Paris on 7 and 8 December 2016. The Authority hereby calls on development partners to honour the commitments made to support Burkina’s economic rebuilding efforts by providing the funds pledged at the Paris conference as soon as possible. ON THE PRESIDENTIAL AND LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS IN CABO VERDE AND GHANA
57. The Authority commended the smooth conduct of the presidential elections successfully held in Cabo Verde and Ghana, an evidence of growing democracy in the region.
58. The Authority congratulated President Jorge Carlos Fonseca on his re-election and the President-elect of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
59. The Authority hailed the gracious gesture by H.E. John Dramani Mahama who, in conceding defeat and congratulating the winner, demonstrated his commitment to democracy and great statesmanship. The Authority subsequently paid him glowing tribute for his significant contribution to the entrenchment of democracy in the region and the management of crises in Burkina Faso, Togo and The Gambia. ON MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY
60. The Authority congratulated the Togolese government on the success of the extraordinary summit of the African Union on maritime safety, security and development, as well as the efforts undertaken towards the Summit’s adoption of an African Charter.
61. The Authority requests that the African Union Commission to finalise discussions on (the processes leading to )the drafting and adoption of the annexes to the African Charter on maritime security, safety and development, within the time-frame stipulated by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
62. The Authority instructs the ECOWAS Commission to actively participate in the drafting process of the annexes to the African Charter on maritime security, safety and development, so as to ensure that sub-regional concerns set out in the ECOWAS Maritime Security Strategy document are taken into account.
63. The Authority takes note of the progress achieved in the establishment of the maritime security architecture in the Gulf of Guinea and encourages the ECOWAS Commission to speed up and support the operationalisation of the Maritime Centre established in that regard.
OTHER ISSUES
64. Authority endorses the candidature of H. E. Alpha CONDE, President of the Republic of Guinea, as the Chairman of the African Union
65. The Authority commends the President of the Republic of Liberia, and current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, H. E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for her exemplary leadership and remarkable commitment in steering the affairs of the region.
66. The Heads of State and Government express sincere appreciation to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria H.E Muhammadu Buhari, and the government and people of Nigeria, for the authentic African hospitality accorded them during their stay in Abuja, and the level of organisation of this session, which has greatly contributed to its success.
67. The Heads of State and Government decide to hold their next Ordinary Session in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia, in May 2017.
 
Done at Abuja, this 17th day of December 2016
THE AUTHORITY

Trump Presidency and Nigeria Conference

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cdd trump
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa), in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Trust Africa, Amplified Radio, DePaul University and American University (AU), will be convening an international conference themed: The Trump Presidency and Nigeria, on Tuesday 17th of January 2017 between 9am and 5pm (Nigerian Time) to examine the implication of Trump’s ascendancy on Nigeria’s development agenda, the complex security challenges the country faces, the growth of democracy in the country and the sub-region, the fate and welfare of Nigerians abroad, and her international relations, in general. The Conference has become very important given serious concerns that the electoral victory of Donald Trump in the November 9, 2016 presidential election has raised amongst Americans and, even, the international community. Apparently, apart from the European Union emergency meeting on what Trump’s victory means for an increasingly shaky trans-Atlantic alliance, there have been debates about the likely implication of the Trump government’s policy towards Africa and its implication on the world order.
The conference will offer renowned scholars, political analysts and development practitioners a rare opportunity to interrogate: a) Democracy in the 21st Century, b) US-Nigeria Relations in Perspective, c) Economic, Ideological and Political Changes behind the Rise of Trump, and d) The Global War on Terror: Paradigm Shift? You can watch the event live or listen to the conversation on https://join.me/trump_presidency and http://www.amplifiedradio.net/ respectively.
Speakers:

  1. Dr. Kole Shettima, Chair, CDD-IGC and Africa Director, MacArthur Foundation, Nigeria.
  2. Prof. Bayo Olukoshi, Regional Director, International IDEA.
  3. Prof. Clement Adibe, DePaul University, USA.
  4. Prof. Sam Egwu, University of Jos, Nigeria
  5. Prof. Biodun Alao, King’s College, London
  6. Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow, CDD, Nigeria
  7. Prof. Ebere Onwudiwe, Distinguished Fellow, CDD and Emeritus Professor, Ohio State University, USA.
  8. Prof. Paul Lubeck, Distinguished Fellow, CDD and Emeritus Professor, SIAS, John Hopskin University, USA.
  9. Prof. Hassan Saliu, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
  10. Dr. Irene Pogoson, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  11. Dr. Abdu Hussaini, Country Director, Plan International, Nigeria.
  12. Dr. Jideofor Adibe, Associate Professor, Nassarawa State University, Nigeria.
  13. Mr Jude Ilo, Country Director, OSIWA, Nigeria.
  14. Mr Innocent Chukwuma, Ford Foundation, Nigeria.
  15. Ms Ayisha Osori, Nigeria.
  16. Mrs Mausi Segun, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Nigeria.

And many more…
 
Signed:
 
Idayat Hassan
Director

ECOWAS and Nigeria Working More Closely To Attain Greater Stability in West Africa

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ECOWAS and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have stressed the need to continue working together for the stability, peace and security of the West African region.
The renewed faith in closer collaboration was voiced by both the Chair of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Nigerian Leader President Muhammed Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria on the 5th of December 2016.
Chairperson Sirleaf, also the president of Liberia was in Nigeria to be updated on the focus, direction and challenges of the work at the ECOWAS Commission. In the course of her mission, she met with senior officials of ECOWAS institutions as part of preparations for the reports to be made at the Summit of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government planned for December 2016 in Abuja.18
Conferring with President Muhammadu Buhari at the instance of the ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza, Chairperson Sirleaf said she cherishes the opportunity to brief the Nigerian leader on some of her findings during two days of consultations with the commission and to also share with him issues of political and economic development as well the maintenance of peace and stability.
“I can also accept his wise counsel as to how we all go about working together as a unified region towards achieving our goals” She added
Responding, president Buhari congratulated Chairperson Sirleaf for her forthrightness in handling ECOWAS affairs and the growing stability in the region despite the many challenges that the Commission and other ECOWAS institutions are grappling with.
Pledging Nigeria’s support for ECOWAS initiatives aimed at achieving greater integration, President Buhari agreed that the situation in the region is relatively stable but stressed the need for patience and accommodation while persuading all “to show appreciation of the efforts of ECOWAS in making sure that more attention is paid to security and development”
At an earlier meeting with staff of the ECOWAS Commission, chairperson Sirleaf urged the ECOWAS workforce to continue to raise the community banner aloft and to take ECOWAS up in the global arena with commitment to high work ethics and standards as well as unflagging dedication to duty.
The ECOWAS Commission staff responded positively to president de Souza’s submission that “human resources is the best capital any organization can have”. The Staff Representative Dr. Tony Elumelu extolled the leadership qualities of Madam Sirleaf and shared the optimism of the ECOWAS workforce of a better deal in the days ahead.
Conferring with the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Mustapha Cisse Lo and senior17 officials, President Sirleaf who took in briefings on the Parliament’s programmes and strides, stressed among others, the need for a closer look at resource mobilization as compelled by changing global situations. She accepted to receive a high powered parliamentary delegation in Monrovia in April 2017.
Chairperson Sirleaf also met the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice Jérôme Traoré and other judges of the Community judicial Institution. After a closed door session, she urged ECOWAS Community judges to protect the rights of citizens noting that if all is done to protect such rights, there would be no need to seek redress in another institution.
Maintaining that equity must also be gender sensitive, she told the gathering at the Community court room: “Justice is a fundamental right of every individual and every state. We have felt the result of injustice and have seen how it can manifest negatively on the progress of societies”
President Sirleaf who was flanked at all the events by President de Souza, the vice president of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Edward Singhatey, Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister Marjon Kamara, Commissioners in charge of ECOWAS Departments and other senior officials, rounded up her familiarization tour by assuring the media that ECOWAS would do all it can to be on top of all the economic and political challenges in the region including complex situations such as has arisen in Guinea Bissau.
While in Abuja, Chairperson Sirleaf was also given gifts (an artwork of the famous artist Modupeola Fadugbe) by the ECOWAS staff an another by the women of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in solidarity with her vision, exemplary leadership and sensitivity to gender matters.
President Sirleaf is the pioneer female leader to chair the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and also the first in that capacity to meet directly with an assembly of staff of ECOWAS
 
 
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What is China really doing for Africa?

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Africa’s relationship with China blossomed in the mid-1950s, as many African states gained independence. As the Cold War intensified, many African states opted for “non-alignment” – a position adopted by China, which became a key partner against the imperialist exploitation of African resources and support for remnants of colonial domination. China offered military support to a series of African liberation movements, in Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Many other astute African leaders managed to win aid both from NATO countries and from the Soviet Union.
Among major benefits for Africa was the construction – with Chinese aid – of the TAZARA Rail project. The World Bank had refused to finance the rail and road link between Zambia’s copper-producing area and the Tanzanian sea port of Dar es Salaam. China stepped in with a 30-year interest-free loan and the project was successfully completed in 1975. In the words of one of Africa’s leading statesman, former Tanzanian president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, “You don’t need to be a communist to see that China has a lot to teach about development”.
China generated affection in Africa in the 1960s and continues to do so among many parts of African society and growing section of Africa’s ruling class. When elected in 2002, Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki said it was time for African countries to look eastwards. He visited China in 2010 and came back with unprecedented infrastructure deals covering transport, energy and telecommunications1.
Fast forward to this decade, and China’s presence is felt all over Africa, in technology, manufacturing, oil, hospitality, agriculture, construction and textiles. China continues to intensify its efforts to foster economic and diplomatic ties with all African countries: it has embassies and/or consulates in 49 of the continent’s 54 countries.
Africa seems at last to have an alternative partner in the quest for development. It can no longer be dictated to by the Breton Woods institutions. One example: in the midst of a financial crisis, Nigeria turned to China and reached an agreement on a currency swap deal (issuing renminbi-denominated bonds) as a way of shoring up the Nigerian currency, the naira, and funding the country’s budget deficit. In addition, a visit by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari yielded more than US$6bn of additional investments in Nigeria’s economy. In the same vein, Zimbabwe is combating American and British sanctions and surviving as a nation thanks to Chinese government-funded projects.
Africans can no longer be trampled upon by Western imperialists, as Chinese companies pump in investment with no political and other strings attached. The rise of right-wing, populist politics in Europe and the Americas is also fuelling perceptions of political risks for Africa regarding aid and foreign direct investment from these economies. And compare the economic situations: dire reports of rising unemployment rates in Europe, increasing inequality, and an inability of governments in Europe and the United States to guarantee their citizens a basic standard of living; meanwhile, living standards in China have been doubling roughly every decade for the past 30 years2.
Why should Africa continue servitude to Europe – which, according to historian Walter Rodney, is hostile to the idea of developed Africa3 – when China offers aid and assistance programmes without condition? According to a Chinese State Council Information Office white paper on China’s Foreign Aid4, “China does not attach any political strings to its aid and its foreign aid programmes are based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual development”. The prospect of partnering with a country that does not have explicit political agenda is the main incentive for several African rulers’ to build relations with China. Put more baldly, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he prefers Chinese aid because Beijing does not force him to ‘embrace homosexuality’.5
China’s ties with sub-Saharan African countries have flourished over the past decade. In 1995 China-Africa trade accounted for just one percent of China’s total foreign trade volume. Between 1995 and 2012, China-Africa trade volume grew to 26%, including a 19% increase from 2011 to 2012. The value of China-Africa trade went from approximately $166bn in 2011 to around $198bn in 2012.6 Meanwhile, China’s official development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa expanded from $500m in 2000 to $3.2bn in 2013.
We must, however, ask the question: who is benefiting most from these relationships – Africa or China? And how well have China and its investments and soft aid contributed to the economies of the countries in which they operate? For instance, while cheap Chinese exports into Africa benefit consumers, they have crippled domestic producers. The Nigerian textile sector, previously a large employer, shrank from 124 firms to 45 firms7 between 1994 and 2005, largely due to cheap imports from China and other Asian countries. 87% of jobs were lost in that period, with a fall from 150,000 employees to about 20,000. The few surviving firms have been operating at less than 40% of installed capacity; the total collapse of the industry is imminent.
As China continues to build economic relationships with Africa, it is important to critically analyse the extent to which the series of agreements between African governments and China contribute to job creation and reduce the high levels of unemployment in Africa. Besides poor working conditions, China imports citizens as menial labourers. One highly visible case is the $124m African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, financed with a loan to Ethiopia and constructed by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. 90% of the workforce is thought to be Chinese.
To consolidate its trading position, China lends billions of dollars to Africa. The terms of these loans are secret, but are tied to guaranteeing Chinese companies contractor rights and ensuring the use of Chinese goods in development projects (deals with Western countries have similar clauses). The loans tend to be granted when their repayment can be guaranteed by payments from China for African exports. As is typical of Western commercial practices, China is buying African exports but trying to ensure that African export revenues are spent on Chinese goods and companies. China is also trying, in the longer term, to boost African GDP and its share of the African market of one billion consumers.
On the human rights front, the labour conditions meted out to Africans working in Chinese firms have been described as inhumane. In Nigeria, there is a popular saying that you ‘work with Chinese and lose your groin’. This is based on allegations that Chinese employers often kick non-submissive staff in the testicles: Maaji Meriga, a former employee of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), was left potentially impotent due to injuries afflicted during the construction of railway tracks in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.8 There are similar stories of brutal conditions in Chinese firms across the continent. These stories have unwelcome consequences not just for development, but also for people’s acceptance of China as a partner. They fuel a belief that China is in Africa only to exploit its resources, and is in no way different from the other colonialists.
On the political front, China has maintained that it does not attach any political strings to its foreign aid programmes. But this statement is a long way from reality. Many democracy-watchers and activists fear that the political impact of China and its foreign aid is a cementing and spreading of authoritarian regimes across the continent. For instance, the lack of conditions attached to aid programmes means that leaders such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Haile Mariam Desalign of Ethiopia – to mention just a few – can continue to flout basic human rights and get away with it.
Africans also worry about the impact on human rights and good governance of Britain’s departure from the European Union. One immediate concern is that if foreign aid from Britain and the European Union reduces, there will be less incentive to implement good governance practices. Will we see the return of “presidents-for-life”? What will happen to defenders of human rights in Africa, especially as more countries gravitate towards China?  How do we encourage China to promote human rights and good governance when they flout local regulations in countries in which they operate? Paradoxically, European and American corporations have invested heavily in China at the expense of jobs in their own countries and, thereby built up massive popular support for racist and xenophobic political parties in their countries.
Transparency is another key area. Secret government-to-government agreements entered into by China and most African states militate against transparency and accountability. Corruption remains the bane of African governments, and while African countries subscribe more and more to the open data and government system, one of the imminent challenges civic groups will face is the secrecy that clouds agreements with China.
To the Africans, the proposed EU-Chinese Cooperation on Africa represents a rehash of the same old imperialist relationships, based on European access to Africa and its resources – Africa, once again, being shared like a cake.
Moving forward, any engagement with Africa must be on a people-to-people basis, not government-to-government. If China wants to strengthen its political and economic ties on the African continent and among African people, it must seriously address people-to-people relations. Part of this must be to start hiring the majority of work forces locally, which is likely to reduce local hostility.
1 See more at: http://africanbusinessmagazine.com/uncategorised/kenya-want-growth-look-east/#sthash.Jwf7nlcO.dpuf
2 “What is Wrong with Democracy”: The Economist. Accessed at www.economist.com/news/essays/21596796-democracy-was-most-successful-political-idea-20th-century-why-has-it-run-trouble-and-what-can-be-do
3How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”: Walter Rodney, 1972.
4“China’s foreign aid comes with ‘no strings attached’”: Beijing international. http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/BeijingInformation/BeijingNewsUpdate/t1164362.htm
5 “Robert Mugabe says he prefers Chinese aid because Beijing does not force him to accept homosexuality”: The Telegraph, 31 August 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11066454/Robert-Mugabe-says-he-prefers-Chinese-aid-because-Beijing-does-not-force-him-to-accept-homosexuality.html
6 “Africa and China Trade Relations”. Accessed at: http://www.tralac.org/files/2013/08/Africa-China-trading-relationship-Synopsis.pdf
7 “Nigeria’s troubled textile industry”: National Mirror, 15 February 2015. http://nationalmirroronline.net/new/nigerias-troubled-textile-industry
8 “Chinese Expats Treat Nigerian Employees As Punching Bags”: Sahara Reporters, 18 October 2011.
http://saharareporters.com/2011/10/18/chinese-expats-treat-nigerian-employees-punching-bags

This article is part of Friends of Europe’s Discussion Paper ‘Europe, China and Africa : new thinking for a secure century ’ published in November 2016, which brings together the views of Friends of Europe’s large network of scholars, policymakers and business representatives on the future of EU-China cooperation in the security field in Africa. These articles provide insight into stakeholders’ views and recommendations as China evolves from an economic to a security player in Africa.

Will Ghana Follow Nigeria’s Example of Voting for Change?, By Idayat Hassan

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The issues that will define the 2016 Ghana general election are the same problems that plagued Nigeria in the 2015 general election: unemployment, corruption, incessant power outages or lack of electricity, a dual tax burden on the working class, an increasing debt portfolio and dearth of infrastructural development.

Ghana, West Africa’s poster child for democracy, goes to the polls on Wednesday December 7 to elect new leaders. As the presidential election draws closer, the word on the street is that it will be a straight contest between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the National Patriotic Party (NPP). It is as yet uncertain whether the Nkrumaist elements can claim enough votes to emerge as a third force in the electoral system.

The last election, held in 2012, featured the same leading presidential candidates: incumbent President John Mahama (NDC) and opposition leader Nana Akufo Ado (NPP). Just like neighbouring Nigeria, John Mahama assumed office as the president of Ghana following the death of his principal, Atta Mills. In a tightly run race, Mahama emerged as the winner of the December 2012 election. Same candidates, same scenarios, and the NPP candidate is also running for the third time in twelve years (in another similarity, Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari ran for president four times before emerging as the winner in 2015). 
The campaign slogans of the political parties pervade the air: the NDC is running its campaign with the mantra “transforming lives” while the opposition NPP is running a “change agenda”. Can Ghana recreate the change experienced in Nigeria last year, when opposition defeated incumbent? Even as controversial Nigerian governor, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, several days ago called on Ghanaians not to fall for the change mantra because change has brought problems to Nigeria, the question remains: can change be replicated in the Ghana election?
There are around 25 political parties contesting in the general election, with only seven candidates in the presidential election (six representing political parties and one as an independent). This is an improvement on the initial four candidates cleared by the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC). The EC had previously disqualified 12 presidential nominees from contesting in the election due to issues including errors on forms, forgery, incomplete forms, different signatures of nominees and invalid endorsement. This led the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and (NDP) to approach the court and, ruling in their favour, the EC was mandated to allow disqualified candidates to correct mistakes on their nomination documents.
In fact, there have been recurrent problems surrounding the EC in the run up to the election. The first skirmish between the people and the EC commenced with the introduction of the new logo by Ms. Charlotte Osei on assumption of office as the chair of the Commission. The Ccommission was criticised in several quarters for introducing a new logo instead of concentrating on updating the voters’ register, while some even attached diabolical connotations to the logo.
The Ghanaian election has, however, been completely judicialised. This is inspiring, and should serve as a very interesting lesson to her neighbour, Nigeria. One such interesting case is the use of National Health Insurance (NHIS) cards as a means of identity verification when voting. In 2014, the plaintiff (Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako) obtained a perpetual injunction restraining the EC from using NHIS cards as identity cards for voter registrations. However, the plaintiff again approached the Supreme Court for an order requesting the EC expunge from the voters’ register the names of all persons who registered and voted in the 2012 election using their NHIS card as proof of identity. In delivering its judgement, the Supreme Court ordered the deletion of the names of all those who registered with NHIS cards and further ruled that the EC remove the names of all other ineligible persons, including the names of deceased persons. The EC nevertheless refrained from rendering the voter register invalid.

The lack of trust in the EC and its leadership is a worrisome development, alongside other accusations and counter-accusations of abuse of processes. The EC has also been accused of favouring a particular political party. The leadership of the EC has a lot to do to debunk the allegations levelled against it…

Another issue generating rancour between the EC and the political parties is the special vote and its procedure for the election. The special vote allows registered voters who aren’t able to vote at their polling unit on election day, to apply to vote on an appointed day ahead of the election day. At first, an initial 65,000 people were announced to be on the list. However, this list was updated to 114,813 people and has now been increased further to 127,394 people. There are allegations that new people – specifically, newly recruited police officials – were added to the list, less than 42 days before the election, and after the legal time limit for registering. This has led some political parties to argue that the EC is not conforming to its own rules and regulations, including the Ghanaian Constitution of 1992.
A further problem faced by the EC is that it was sued with relation to the special voting procedure. This occurred because three members of the NPP approached the court requesting that the results of the special voting be announced at the closure of the polls. However, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit. Altogether, in no small way has the EC of Ghana come under serious attack from the political parties. Even so, it is commendable that at every point in time such matters have been addressed in court. It must be pointed out that the plethora of cases brought before the court have caused concern among many pundits and citizens, leading to widespread doubt that the election would be held according to schedule.

 

The lack of trust in the EC and its leadership is a worrisome development, alongside other accusations and counter-accusations of abuse of processes. The EC has also been accused of favouring a particular political party. The leadership of the EC has a lot to do to debunk the allegations levelled against it – whether founded or unfounded. It must immediately prioritise building trust in the system and winning the hearts of citizens.
As election day draws closer, Ghanaian politicians are securing endorsement left, right and centre. Endorsement has been pouring in from celebrity artists, chiefs, business moguls, and even men of God are no exception. In fact, Rev. Prophet Owusu Bempah of the Glorious Word Power Ministry prophesied that the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would win the 2016 election.

 

As is the case with many politicians across Africa, President Mahama has been utilising the power of incumbency to unveil new projects. These mostly involve physical infrastructural development across the country but also include controlling media spaces with his adverts and billboards plastered across the country. This is complemented by the Rock Da Vote concerts hosted by Ovation International. The concerts, which can be likened to the concerts organised by Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), showcase the infrastructural development of President Mahama. To further complement Ovation International’s efforts, popular Nigerian comedian, Osuofia, was also invited to Ghana to campaign in support of President Mahama.

Does either of the two leading political parties in Ghana have the magic wand to resolve the major problems plaguing the country? That will be decided by Ghanaians when they go the polls to choose between the slogans of “change agenda” or “transforming lives”.

The stakes in the election are so high that the two leading political parties, NPP and NDC, are busy promising El Dorado, to woo voters. For instance, the NPP have promised to build a factory in each district of the country. In an attempt to counter this promise, the NDC have promised to pay members of the 216 Assemblies in Ghana salaries as against the existing practice of sitting allowance. Citizens groups have been playing a key role in holding these politicians accountable by keeping records of the promises they have been making. IMANI Centre is already running extensive analysis of the Ghanaian election by tracking the political parties’ manifestos and how they match citizens’ expectations. We can all but expect the group to initiate a promise-tracking mechanism like Nigeria’s Buharimeter to monitor the implementation of campaign promises of the eventual winner of the election.
In an unfortunate challenge to free speech, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), John Kudalor, in May, considered the idea of Ghanaian authorities shutting down social media platforms during the election. This was in spite of the fact that Ghana is the first country in West Africa to announce its election results on Facebook. In 2012, the results of the presidential election were announced via Facebook after the EC websites went down due to technical challenges. It would have been a sad occurrence if West Africa’s beacon of democracy had allowed Mr. Kudalor’s idea to sail through.
The Ghanaian election has also been replete with political violence. The sudden phenomenon of henchmen has creeped into the polity. These are mostly local vigilantes loyal to the leading political parties. Prominent amongst these groups are the ruling NDC’s “Azorka Boys” and the opposition NPP’s “Bolga Bull Dogs” and “Invincible Forces”. However, the NDC continues to claim that they have no vigilante groups, while the NPP has argued that the lack of equity on the part of security forces makes keeping local vigilantes loyal to their cause inevitable.
Only a few days before the election, the atmosphere is tense after disputes between the NPP and NDC. The NPP has made new allegations against the NDC presidential candidate and his brother for attempting to bribe the NPP Northern Region Vice Chair, Bugri to leave the NPP. Bugri alleged he was offered several SUVs and money to blaspheme NPP and its candidate in the election. This has generated a lot of backlash between the two parties, with calls for investigation and prosecution.
The issues that will define the 2016 Ghana general election are the same problems that plagued Nigeria in the 2015 general election: unemployment, corruption, incessant power outages or lack of electricity, a dual tax burden on the working class, an increasing debt portfolio and dearth of infrastructural development. Does either of the two leading political parties in Ghana have the magic wand to resolve the major problems plaguing the country? That will be decided by Ghanaians when they go the polls to choose between the slogans of “change agenda” or “transforming lives”. However, what people really crave is a glimmer of hope.
Idayat Hassan is the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja and tweets at @hassanidayat