Friday, December 23, 2011

Il Zont lumé 'Bidjan!

Mamoudou: Eh! Bou-ari, sh'est comment? On ti voit plus là? Tu s'en fous de nous ishi maintenant ou bien ti gagné PMU?

Boukary: Mais vous quartier là oo, c'est campement. Moi, yé travaille au Paris maintenant!

MM: Puatate! Regarde moi, un gnamogodé comme ça là! C'est qui, qui va t'envoyer derrier l'eau?
BK: Voilà! Toi, avec ton vié vélo, vous deux vous tournez dans campement ici seulement.. Fo venir au Plateau où nous on travaille.. làbàs, c'est Paris directe!
MM: Tchié, akodé lumière là?
BK: Môgô, yétédi, y a lumière, y a lumière. Cette fois-ci, Paris même est petit devant nous ooh!
MM: Donc tu fais partie de ces gens, ils s'en vont promener Plateau on dirait n'enfant là?
BK: Moi là, yé promène pas dêh! Tu sais, où moi je garde, c'est devant l'arbre là même! Je suis ashis, voila lui, voila moi!
MM: Ah bon? C'est ké ti est deveni patron vrai vrai.
BK: Non, ça là, fo voir pour croire. Blanc oo, Libanais oo, noir oo, shinoir oo, tout le monde vient regarder ça! Ca défile seulement la nuit!
MM: Mais ce que moi aussi je va serser prendre madame avec monz enfant pour venir voir..
BK: Wè wè! Le 31 là, ca va chauffer même! Feu d'entifices, tout ça.. moi yé demande pas Patron dêh, mais jé va envoyer ma famille labas tchô!
MM: Eh Allah! On dirait Houphouët vie encore oo..Dieu merci!
BK: C'es pas ça les gens disent là? Y en a sont content, y en a sont pas content..
MM: Quoi? Si l'homme dit qui'il content pas zolie lumière là, c'est un sorcier!
BK: Ah mon frère.. je 'tends beaucoup où je suis ashis là bas dêh.. ça bavarde seulement.. y en a il parle, y en a ils sont la faire bisous seulement..
MM: Tchié, c'est arrivé dans affaire d'amour encore?
BK: C'est ça là même! Ça tombe amoureux à gauche à droite dêh! Yédis, on vit au Paris oo!
MM: Safroulaye!! C'est dans ça il vont 'ceinter beaucoup beaucoup femme encore..
BK: C'est ça qui est là ooo, s'ils zon lumé 'Bidjan, c'est tout ça.. lumière, amour, bonheur.. en tout cas.. au travail la nuit, on est plus seul.. y a du monde au Plateau..

Eh! Abidjan.. Dieu merci oo

Monday, December 5, 2011

10 things Laurent Gbagbo said today to the Internation Criminal Court at the Hague

Laurent Gbagbo has just finished his first appearance at the tribunal of the Internation Criminal court. The Presiding judge was Silvia Fernandez Gourmendi. Here are the 10 things he said. Each point gives insight to what is to come, beginning from the 18th of June, 2012.

1. My name is Laurent Gbagbo. That is the official name. Koudou is also my name. But officially, I am called Laurent Gbagbo. I was born on the 31st of May, 1945, in Gagnoa, in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire.

2. I only speak French.

3. The circumstances of my detention at the Hague are fair.

4.I was arrested on the 11th of April, 2010 as the President of my country

5. It was the French army that arrested me. The bombed my residence for several days. 50 tanks surrounded my residence while helicopters bombed from above.

6. My Minister of Interior, Desiré Tagro, was killed before my eyes.

7. My son and my doctor were severely beaten before me

8.I only eat twice a day

9. All through my detention in Korhogo, I only saw the sun when my lawyers came to see me.

10. I was tricked into the Hague trip. I was told I was to go see a Magistrate. Then I was taken to the airport. I arrived with only the pair of trousers and shirt I had on me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Senegal: waiting to explode

At about three months to the presidential elections in Senegal, the demons are rearing their heads. As the debates are heating up, and political sentiments are rising on the mercury scale, it is our duty to raise an alarm. Senegal is a political situation waiting to explode. Here are 5 points to consider:

The Constitutional Crisis

The country revised its constitution in 2001. Most of the revisions were linked to the office of the president, its prerogatives, tenure and duration. The revision shortened the duration of the tenure from 7 to 5 years. This tenure could only be renewed once. While obtaining an extension of presidential powers, the then President touted this "success in democracy", proclaiming himself as an avant-gardist and reassuring the population that he will no longer be a candidate in 2012.

Now 2012 is months away.. and someone is debating whether the 2 tenures should take into account the initial tenure.. The language is clear. The answer is Yes. But the president seems to either have lost a part of his democracy memory or forgot his language lessons!

The President who is looking for preachers of "another gospel"
As a legal person, the first reaction will be to refer to the constitutional experts of the country. Naturally. All of them in the country have spoken, except for one. All those who have spoken have said the same thing: President Abdoulaye Wade IS NOT constitutionally a possible candidate. And what do we see? The President who hires "International constitution experts" to a Dakar meeting so they can come read what Senegalese wrote. And these International preachers are insisting that "Yes", Wade can run for presidency in 2012 at the age of 86

Enter the Constitutional Council

Yes, the ultimate decision lies with the Constitutional Council. Though all its members are hand-picked by the President and some have attended the "International constitution conference" and that it has already jailed an activist wrote a strong-worded letter warning them of any unconstitutional decision in the Wade, issue, some people are still hoping that the constitutional council will render an unbiased decision.

The silence of the international community

I have not heard from the African Union. I have not heard from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Union Monétaire Ouest Africaine is as dumb as ever. Neither have I read any official position of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. This silence is worrying.

A population that is thinking "we can handle it" and "it cannot happen to us"

Six months ago, many Senegalese were publishing on Facebook and Twitter, firm convictions of everything being under control. At about three months to the elections, the tendency is clear. The pro-Wade group are sure that nothing will happen and their candidate will win. The anti-Wade group are professing the same: nothing will happen. He wont get clearance. As the days approach, the die-hard believers are still there:
Folks who believe they have come a long way as a country,
People who believe that popular protests will give them victory,
Senegalese who continue to think that "everything is under control"

When it is only waiting to explode.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Open letter to MENA of NIGER

Yeah, so you qualified for the 2012 African Cup of Nations? Okay, noted. We hear you.

This letter comes as a reaction to the fact that instead of planning your friendly matches, you are touring the country from South to North, East to West.. celebrating your victory.

We are sure that you know that in soccer, one man's joy is another man's misery. One team's victory means another team's defeat. While you are on the “high” and doing your joy-tour, we wish to bring the following to your attention.

MENA is going to AFCON with 9 points! Yes, that is 50% of possible points. Cape Verde, Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria, and Malawi each have more than that and are home. It is only a reminder... we know you know.

We have a message from South Africa to you. Not only did you rob the Rainbow Nation of a place in the AFCON, you have dealt a blow on their national pride. You have exposed the “limit of the intelligence” of their Football Federation leaders. You have given them a very bitter after-taste. This blow is like pouring ash over the silver glimmer of the FIFA world cup which they so valiantly and brilliantly hosted.

There is also a message from from Nigeria. They have thousands of professional players. They had what it took to qualify and did not. Now everyone is comparing Niger and Nigeria. That makes Nigeria cry. The shared border makes it possible for people in Nigeria to smell your celebrations. Your victory reminds Nigeria of all of its failures.

Cameroon has sent their own missile to you. Niger does not have any “global star” like Eto’o. If you lost, there would not have been too much shame.. but now.. everyone is saying “Niger is there and Eto’o is absent’. Your victory is exposing the death of the old Lion.

Egypt says it wont forgive you. You must note that. In football, it may take 10 years, but some scores will be settled. In fact, Egypt will not only make you pay in soccer. In every sport where you will meet Egypt, be ready for a battle!

Finally, there is a message from FIFA and CAF. Yes. They have messages too. No, no, no. They are quite “congratulatory” about your qualification. They even have very positive things to say about you, and are actually hoping that you will go very far and maybe even show up for world cup in Brazil as you have started already dreaming.. Their message is simple: you only qualified for the competition. There are no trophies for qualification. The trophy is for the competition itself. Another way to say, this is only the beginning. You must now prepare for AFCON 2012.

Over here, we will fix our eyes on the draw of October 29. We are sure you know we are wishing you the “group of death”!

Signed: the miserable losers

Monday, September 19, 2011

The men who rape us

I am checking on the topics in Nigeria and I am horrified at the gang rape perpetrated by some five male students on a female students. Sugabelly, in her outcry blog on this issue has expressed my feelings and I see the students at the University are being pro-active too. It is good that #ABSURAPE is trending in Lagos and that the Honourable Abike Dabiri has taken the stand to raise this issue so it does not die out "just like that".

I took time to watch the video. Then I put the sound off so I could analyse it better. Whichever way, it is ugly and those men must be brought to book.

They must be brought to book for a criminal act. Rape is a crime and gang rape is a double crime. But a gang rape that is filmed and circulated is a triple crime. That is my feeling. These men must pay.

Cowards are the ones who rape women. Those who cannot find any other means of standing up to you as a lady. They lack the intellectual and moral strength. They cannot woo, they cannot groom themselves to appeal to women, they cannot command respect, they lack self esteem. They cant find ways to communicate their feelings, they are children inside, pretending to be men outside. Their insecurity is killing them. So they resort to sexual abuse.

From Cape to Tripoli, Somalia to Senegal, passing through Sudan and Nigeria.. African women are being raped. Raped by men who cannot face realities. men who are afraid of broad day light. Men who cannot stand up and defend their ideas. A woman is raped because her tribal or ethnic group is not in good terms with another. Another is raped because of land dispute. Some are raped for reasons that only politicians know.

The young lady at Abia State University was raped because the men said she insulted one of them.

Only the incompetent use violence as an arm. Only the weak will believe that sexual assault proves strength. Only cowards will believe that by humiliating another they gain value.

No, you dont gain respect by raping a woman. You are only demonstrating that you are incapable of living in a civilised world. You are showcasing your insecurity, your incompleteness.

Rape, violence and humiliation are arms only used by cowards.

You have to be little to belittle

Monday, August 15, 2011

Of the Nigerian Immigration Service, the e-Passport and its reissuance: my story

2013  UPDATE: Passports are now being reissued in many places other than Abuja. Ikoyi in Lagos, Port-Harcourt etc,  and in many Nigerian representations abroad. I understand the ABUJA-ONLY thing was to centralise all passport data.

Its been well over one week now that I got my electronic passport reissued in Abuja, Nigeria.  I needed to give some time before this blog, because I did not want it colored with personal sentiments. I always do this when I think something is important.  Give it time, think through it, and it gets clearer.

By the time I got ready to go to Nigeria for this passport, I had used up 5 Nigerian international passports and 2 ECOWAS Travel Certificates.  So I was on my 8th travel document.  For frequent travelers, you learn a bunch of lessons. Lessons related to travel.  The first is to know what the priority is: mainly to get to destination.  So you dont waste time, energy or sentiments on things and issues that do not have direct links to your destination.  The second is to keep a financial reserve.  As I tell many new travelers, there is no fixed amount for a plane ticket.  It is the same with a trip, you can never say exactly what the costs are until you get back and calculate. For starters, the ticket from Abidjan to Lagos cost  1088$ on ASky. 

I have come to prefer doing my passports in Umuahia.  That is my State capital.  So I go home, check in with my folks, and go to Umuahia.  If I am required to come back at a short notice or the next day, I can always do that at a short notice.  Inter-State travel in Nigeria does not go beyond 10$.  So I call the immigration office in Umuahia to say "my e-Passport has filled up and I need a new one". I got the response, "we are waiting for you, please buy us a handset when you are coming". I am like "Did they not hear there has been war in  Côte d'Ivoire?"

I log on to to check out information about re-issuance of passports. ABSOLUTELY no information.  How much does it cost? What is the process? Can someone do it on your behalf? Where can it be done?  Which form needs to be filled? What administrative papers are required?  How long does it take? No information, nothing! I ask online, someone tells me 15 000 Naira.  That is 100$.  I dont believe it.  Why? Because the first time issuance of the Passport costs less than 9000 Naira, which is like 60$. So why should re-issuance be more expensive.. anyway I tell myself that the cost wont go beyond that.

I get home and call again.  I am coming in on Monday to Umuahia.  Then the gentleman said "I think Tuesday is better". I call on Tuesday. "Ah, Aunty, it's like we now have to take the passport to Abuja and do it oo". Oh Yeah? Why was I not told this before. I ask how much the re-issuance itself costs "I don know, I have to find out". Good gracious me! I am speaking with an agent of the Nigerian Immigration Service and he has no clue about how much the fees for the re-issuance of a Nigerian passport costs?  My antennae go up.  Something is not smelling right.  The man offers to send someone to Abuja to do it for me.  I say no.

Abuja Day 1.

I get to the gate with my bag and the airline tag still hanging.  The Nigerian  Immigration Service (NIS) office is on the road to the airport.  Far from the city itself.  I arrive before the gates open.  In such things, I have learned to be there before time.  The guards at the gate  tell me the luggage is too big.  I keep it at the gate after the controls.  The man "kindly" handed me over to an Officer, who hands me over to another Officer.  They take me aside, assess what they call "my problem".  "Okay, we can help. When do you want to get the passport".  I said same day. "Do you know the price?" I said not exactly.  I too have been wondering but someone has told me 15K. "Mhmm.  For the kind of problem you have, you need between 30 and 40K" I smell a rip-off. I said no, thanks.  .

I go to queue up normally.  By now, I was decided to "go and renew my passport in a proper manner so I can get first hand information". I am told I need to go to "ACG" Office.  The door number is 316. I go there and I explain my mission.  I am told to write a letter to the "ACG". I ask, what does ACG mean?  The officer cannot explain.  Does he know? Or is he feeling I am being too inquisitive? Anyway I write the letter. I write on a plain A4 sheet, explaining I need a new Passport because the old one is full.   He says come back in 3 hours. I ask "Please can you explain the process, what is the next step after the ACG okays my request, how long does the whole thing last?" I dont get a reply

My brother calls me. "Do you have someone helping you?" I said no.  I dont get the process but it does not seem complicated.  He says "Girl, get someone fast".  I said I am not getting anybody. I should be able to fill any forms needed and make any payments. If I cant take care of the process of renewing my own passport in my own country at the official service point.. then I will feel like a challenged person.

My brother begins to make parallel arrangements. Apparently a lady working there is married to one of the guys from my village. I get calls, SMSes.  Where am I?  At what stage? Where exactly?   Why did I not say I was coming? Why do I want to do this all by myself? Why did I have to go and queue up in the first place?

Hang on!! What is happening here?

Anyway.. the lady says I should have told her even before beginning.  It would have made matters easier.  She takes me to one other lady. J Someone. It appears the request could have been made to the Comptroller General.. it is faster.  I sit in the waiting room.  I catch a wifi. NISWLAN1. 3 Hours later, I go back to door 316. I see my letter has been approved. What is the next step? "You need to go and make payment downstairs". Okay.  Let me have the approval so I can go make payment. "No, we cannot hand it over to you.  An officer needs to come and sign for it"

Haba! Shebi na me write the letter? Shebi na me dey renew passport? Abi na the Officer go pay the money?
I lose 1 hour waiting for an Officer to come and pick my approval. By this time, it was 1 PM.  I have spent 4 hours at the Immigration office.

The J Someone comes and takes the approval.  "My sister, we have to go and make payment". How much, I ask? "Give me 10 000.  The price is 9000 something.." If you like, you can go and pay in town, or I can pay for you here.  Now we are at the Passport Hall.  Only officers are entering. Four tents have been mounted outside.  Each tent sits around 100.  Each tent is full. People are standing.  I ask if the total cost is 10k. J Somebody says Yes. "But when the Passport comes out, you can now show appreciation".  I get the info. I hand 10K over to her. I find a place at the tent, I sit. I boot up my Netbook.  There is NISWLAN1 still here. Thank you Lord, for wifi.   I start to tweet. to update my Facebook status.  I am too mixed up to do real work. I  go for lunch.

And between 2PM and 6PM nothing happens. The only info is that my file is waiting to be "vetted" after which I will be photographed. I never got a receipt for the payment.

End of Day 1. I need to find a hotel in Abuja.  I hear the "Honourable Minister" is visiting Nigerian Immigration Service Headquarters the next day.  So work wont begin until 11 am.  I take a taxi, someone says to go to Area 1 or 2. I can get reasonable hotels there. Taxi fare, 2000, hotel 15000, without breakfast.

Day 2.

August 15, 2011

As at 12 noon. Minister was still at the headquarters. He was at the Passport area the time I got in.  He comes out to greet the people under the tents. The Director General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, a lady, says "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Honourable Minister of Interior" Some people clap.  I bring out my camera from my handbag. I take a photo. Two men sitting by me are angry. Hopping mad! A number of others were  mad too. Why wont the Minister  wait so we can ask questions?  Why will he just wave and say hello and go away? Others think he is humble.  At least he came to say hi to "Fellow Nigerians". I cannot tell whether the anger is directed at the Minister or just an expression of the frustration that people are having with the whole passport thing.

And frustrations there were! The man whose file was lost right at NIS office itself.  The boy whose file was being handled by an officer who just died, and nobody knew exactly how to help him. The people who were there the day before and were told to come back because the system crashed.  The guy from UK whose choice of interview date came out with 2012, the wrong year..The stories were many. 

All e-passport renewals from the whole wide world are now being done at headquarters!! So Nigerians all over have to come to this one office in Abuja. Questions!! Why is this information not online? How long is the process? Why are Nigerians being reduced to a helpless state, to the point where you need "help" from an Officer. What exactly does "Help" mean?  What is the Officer "helping" you with exactly. Why does Diaspora not have a separate handling? What are paper files STILL doing in the era of electronic Passports? Why cant information on the process of re-issuance and lost passports be made openly available and put online?  Why cant other NIS offices in the states renew filled ePassports?

On my part, I keep calling the Officer married to someone from my place.  I also keep calling the J Someone to find out when I will be photographed. I notice that there is a kind of selection at the NIS. People automatically "hire" Officers who speak their languages to "help" them. Since I dont live in Nigeria, I am astounded by the many officers speaking the many languages to their "clients". I hear all sorts of Nigerian languages.. my head is in a swirl. 

Finally, I get my photo taken. My mind asks, "Why will an Immigration Officer in Umuahia promise that he can get someone to come and get your passport re-issued in Abuja when the owner of the passport needs his or her photo taken?" The man who took my photo writes August 15 for pick up. The day was August 4th. My flight back to Abidjan from Lagos is August 7th which is a Sunday. The only other working day was August 5th, the next day.  I look at it and I ask the man "Is this date for real?".  He says "Yes Madam" and squeezes his face in a kind of knot that means "Please get out of my sight".

My mind is blown. I make calls and get calls. I get a call from a friend at the Ministry of External Affairs. A Diplomat, I had worked with him when he was on post in Geneva where I had an office.  I was to have dinner with him while I was in Abuja. He too says he knows someone who can help.  He begins to make calls too. I call J Someone. Now, I am visibly unhappy. And I began to see the possibility that I may not get the Passport on the Friday. "You have to see  Officer N, she is the only one who can help you". Where is this Officer N? " She is with Madam still accompanying the Minister. Just wait till she is back.  I dont know Officer N, and I sit.

Till 6 PM, when someone tells me, "Ah, Officer N just left".  I was the last  person to leave the tent that day!
I head back to the hotel. I pay another 15000 Naira for the night.

Day 3

It is Friday. My flight is Sunday.  There is no work on Saturday. I arrive early at the Immigration Service Headquarters. I sit before Passport Hall opens.  I am angry with the J Someone.  She says she is on her way. I ask and know who the Officer N is. I had decided it was useless leaving my fate in the hands of J Someone. And at this time,  the little tiny voice in my head was beginning to say "Maybe it was better to pay 30 or 40k on day 1".  I shut the voice up vigorously. I tell myself  "If you have come this far, sit it through.  The worst case is that someone picks up the passport on August 15 and sends it to you through DHL"

I speak with Officer N.  I explain that I will be leaving Abuja on that day. She looks at me, and asks me to come with her to the office. I feel that I dont need to be given a "VIP" treatment. But something tells me to just shut up. "When you woke up to pray and ask God for favour from men, this is it". She finds my file and assures me the passport is coming out same day. She will take the file herself to production room. Check me in 2 hours, she says. I send out text messages. I give Twitter and Facebook updates. I call my mother, to reassure her.

After 2 hours, I check on Officer N. She says she is yet to get up. Once she does, I can be rest assured.

I pick a taxi to town.  I need to get a ticket to Lagos. Can I leave this night? I check online.. tickets are now between 30 000 and 45 000 Naira.  That is 200 or 300$. I hear weekend flights from Abuja to Lagos are almost always full 3 days before. I begin to foresee road travel. I call a Road Transport Company.  Ticket is okay but departure is at 3PM. Passport is not coming out by then! I go to the Bank, I withdraw 20 000. At this time, I had about 40000 Naira in all.  I needed to pay the hotel if I was staying for the night and the "Thank you" thing..  Another  friend calls back, there is a flight to Lagos. Saturday morning. 29100 Naira. I ask him to pick it. I make out another check of 30 000 Naira for him.  I shut my eyes tight and I pray "Thank you Lord, for savings in my bank account". I get a confirmation for the flight.  I leave Saturday morning.

Friday afternoon in Abuja is another story. All the roads are cleared and all the mosques are full and  those who are not praying are heading down the airport. I pick a taxi from Area 8 to the Immigration Service, an air-conditioned one.  I needed to cool off! Price 4000, finally came down to 2500.

I get back to Immigration services. J Someone is smiling. I force a smile. Passport is ready.  An officer is needed to sign it off. J Someone does that. Then we look for those who will "cancel without prejudice" the preceding passport. I begin to give out envelopes.  To the lady whose husband is from my place, to J Someone, to Officer N. I send more texts.. call my mother... family at home in the East is rejoicing.. like the new passport is a kind of "arrival of a new baby". I feel sick, thoroughly sick.

I head back to the hotel. Room 310 has been given out to someone else since I did a check out in the morning. I get room 309.  The room is not as good as the first one, but since it was weekend, the hotel was giving out the rooms with 15% discount.  I did not really care..

All I wanted was to give myself the farthest  possible space from  the Nigerian Immigration Service, from Abuja, from Nigeria, from the electronic Passport, its issuance, re-issuance

My mind (the legal, intellectual me) and my heart (the sentimental optimistic me) begin a debate:

Heart of Nnenna: Na wa oo. Maybe you should have just paid 30 or 40K on day 1.
Mind of Nnenna: Nonsense, I would still be ignorant of the process and I will not be able to inform others
Heart of Nnenna: They shaa had good Nigerian food at "Mama" the restaurant area.  You enjoyed the food.
Mind of Nnenna: It was not free, I paid. I could have had the same anywhere else in Nigeria.
Heart of Nnenna: Do you recall when you were offered a free passport some time ago?
Mind of Nnenna: Yes, that was another country. I am a Nigerian. The Nigerian Passport is my right.
Heart of Nnenna: Na legalese and right go kill you. For this country na money dey talk
Mind of Nnenna: The country needs to move from a corrupt one to a competency one. I will do my part
Heart of Nnenna: How much has it cost you so far..
Mind of Nnenna: The cash is one thing, the authentic experience is another

That is why it took 10 days.. to write this blog!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cote d'Ivoire: Government Ethics Charter

Government Ethics Charter


The Ministerial function represents  a very important public responsibility at State level. It is based on confidence, on one hand, between the sovereign people  of Côte d’Ivoire and the President of the Republic and, on the other, between the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, Head of Government and each minister.

By our free adherence to the present Charter “Government Ethics Charter”, we, members of the Government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire,  show our engagement to be at the service of the President of the Republic and  the people.

Having received the confidence of the President of the Republic, on one hand for the reconciliation of Ivorians and the reconstruction of our country, and on the other hand, for the  sustainable socio-economic development  and the consolidation of a State of rights, we declare our adherence to the ten (10) cardinal values that follow:

1. Sense of State and  love of Country: Each member of Government shall uphold the fundamental values of the Republic: Union, Discipline and Labour. S/He shall, in speech, action, and behaviour, honour the Country and behave in conformity to the principles of our motto. The love of Côte d’Ivoire shall be upheld over regional, ethnic, political and religious particularities.

2. Respect for Dignity and human Life:  Each member of Government  shall consider life as sacred. Therefore S/He shall abstain from all manner of speech, and action that is susceptible to endanger dignity and human life.

3.  Primacy of the General Interest: All decisions, actions, or task shall be geared  and implemented in the perspective of the general interest, according to  requirements and standards in place and to  the quality which justifies the available resources. Conscious of the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the our country, each member of Government  must make efforts at her/his  personal level as well as as  within the department under her/him  to only consider the  general interest.

4.  Solidarity and Cohesion:  All decisions and actions of the Government  are guided by the principles of collegiality and solidarity.  They involve each member in their elaboration and in their implementation. Members of Government are therefore  under the obligation of reserve and confidentiality  that behoves  government work.  The right of reserve shall include all debates in State Council, Ministerial Council, and in a general manner, all government meetings, as well as their  related correspondences.

5.  Good Governance:  Each member of Government shall seek to cultivate excellence and promote the practices of good governance in her/his ministerial department  and within the structures placed under her/his authority. The strict respect of the laws of the Republic is a national interest necessity on which depends  both the moral rise of our country and its sustainable and integral development.  In keeping with the right to information of the sovereign people, each member of Government also pledges to account for  the actions of her/his department whose results shall be imputed to her/him

6.  Responsibility: Each member of Government is the sole responsible of her/his ministerial department and pledges, in her/his being and conscience, to assume the charges and carry out the mission to which s/he has been called for the greater interest of the nation. Members of Government have an obligation to results. They shall assume the success or the failure of their actions and mission according to the principle of responsibility.

7.  Integrity and Probity: As a model for fellow citizens, each member of Government pledges to cultivate, at all times and in all places, the moral  and ethical values that shall induce higher morals for the Ivorian society: rightness, integrity, probity and incorruptibility.

8. Justice and Equity: In the respect of differences and particularism, members of Government work in a spirit of justice, of equity and of balance among them, in their respective departments and in their relations with users.  Equity shall be promoted in public practices.

9.  Permanent Dialogue and Availability:  Each member of Government shall consecrate her/himself, as a priority, to the exercise of the missions  that constitute her/his attributions and shall be wholly available to this effect. S/he  shall, by the way, maintain a permanent and objective  dialogue, based on republican ideas, notable with  other members of Government, the social bodies and other actors in the sector

10.  Civility, Courtesy and Moderation: Each member  of Government  pledges, in words and action, to the respect of the rules of decorum, courtesy and moderation which constitute the  fundamental conditions on which  group, organisational and societal cohesion is built.

We, members of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, pledge to respect this Charter  which we have freely given ourselves on this Tuesday August 9, 2011.

And consequently, we  sign in the presence of the President of the Republic

The official and original document is found on the site of the Government of Côte d'Ivoire.  This  English version is  graciously offered  by NNENNA.ORG

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Abidjan back? De retour à Abidjan

Je suis rentrée à Abidjan. J'écris de la maison sur ce vieux divan qui me connait tant! Il y a pas mal de poussière mais .. bof! C'est chez moi. Quand la voiture s'est garée avec mes 4 valises et deux autres sacs, tous les gardiens du quartier ont “fait mouvement” vers moi. Ils étaient tous heureux. Je connais le sourire jaune du vieux Mamoudou, édénté! Il y en a qui ne voulaient pas attendre que je monte avant de commencer leur histoire. “Ah madame, on eu chaud ehh”. “Vraiment c'était dure, dure même”.

Dès mon aéroport d'embarquement, la sécurité nous a demandé les carnets de vaccination. “Nous avons reçu un courrier d'Abidjan faisant savoir qu'avant d'embarquer, il faudra se mûnir de son certificat de vaccination”. Je savais qu'on contrôlait à la déscente à l'aéroport mais là.. c'est nouveau. Je ressens un peu de fierté. Alors on m'a contrôlé. Je ne sais pas si c'est pour cholera ou c'est pour la fievre jaune.

Fin d'enregistrement. Je sens mes intérieurs trembler.. ce genre de “frisson-fièvre-félicité” qui s'emparait de moi quand j'avais 8 à 15 ans.. quand il s'agissait d'aller en colonnie de vacances. C'était un genre d'enthousiasme, mêlé de joie, d'attente des aventures, avec une pincée de soulagement “d'avoir à partir d'un endroit que j'aimais moins à un autre que j'aimais plus”. Au Duty Free, j'achete un gros paquet de chocolat blanc de Toblorone. Pas question de ne pas fêter ça!

Attérisage à Abidjan. Comme tout bon abidjanais, j'allume mon portable, et je contrôle mon crédit restant. Ouais, le roaming, ça coute cher. Tout va bien. Je sors de ma classe affaire presqu'en courant. Dans ma tête, ça disait “il faut que je respire, il faut que je respire”! Car chaque ville a son air. L'air d'Abidjan, c'est unique. C'est pas aussi sec que l'air d'Accra. Il y a moins d'agression dans l'air d'Abidjan que l'air de Lagos. C'est plus accueillant que l'air parisien. Je sais.. pas. C'est la lagune, la verdure et l'humidite tout melangé!

Il y a le premier contrôle. Des passports CEDEAO (Communauté économique des états de l'Afrique de l'ouest) n'ont pas de problème. On descend, et il y a le contôle de la “fameuse” carte jeune de vaccination. En suite, l'immigration. Je constate que certaines choses ont changé. Il y a des girdons pour permettre aux beaucoup plus d'arrivants de faire un rang organisé. Certains “vieux” visages sont là. Je constate un changement dans le comportement des officiers. Plus de respect. Je leur donne “Assez bien”.

Baggages prit, je me dirige vers les douaniers. On m'interpelle. Il s'agit de l'imprimante. La dame me demande d'aller à leur bureau. J'obeis. Une dame officier se trouve là. Elle contrôle chaque valise. Se rassure, et me demande de partir. Dans ma tête j'attendais une certaine “donc tu as envoyé quoi pour nous?”. Cette question n'est pas arrivée. Un jeune m'aide à refaire les valises, les remonter dans les chariots. Je lui offre un baton de Toblerone. Quand je fais ça.. ce que je suis contente du service rendu! Je note les douaniers “très bien”

Je change un billet de 50$. Je reçois 23000 Francs CFA. Mon ancien “client” est toujours là. Je tourne, et voici le vieux! Cela fait au moins 5 ans que ce vieux aux cheveaux gris est devenu mon ami. Il m'accueille avec une chaleur.. à fondre le coeur. Je lui demande de trouver un taxi qui a un gros coffre. Mais il a pris une minute pour me raconter comment il a eu à vivre la guerre. “C'était pas facile ma fille.. mais Dieu est grand”. J'achete une carte de recharge.. pour Internet. En ce moment je respirais déjà Abidjan plein les poumons! Ils sont là! La foule qui vient accueiller! Debout, regards à 360 dégrees attendant leur biens aimés. Ils sont là! Le bramôgos djosseurs. Ceux qui se débrouillent à l'aéroport comme le vieux; le type qui me change des devises, celui qui vend les cartes.. tout le monde est là! Je note 'RAS – rien à signaler'.

Les taxis étaient aussi là.. avec les mêmes airs des vautours autour d'un animal mourant. Ils se bagarrent encore a cause des clients. Ils surfacturent toujours. Mais celui sur lequel je suis tombée est vraiment d'une race à part. La voiture était dans un était piteux. Le chauffeur sale, vraiment sale. Le corps, l'habille et chaussures. L'haleine, je vous epargne sa déscription. Normallement j'aurais du commencer une conversation avec lui.. mais l'odeur..

Comment se fait il que ces gens qui sont les premiers à recevoir les arrivants une fois hors de l'aéroport ne sont pas controlés? Pourquoi ne sont ils pas en uniforme? Pourquoi n'afficheons nous pas les tariffs? Comment se fait-il qu'un chauffeur me demande de lui payer 15000 Francs CFA pour une course de l'aéroport à la commune de Cocody? Si on me “mange” comme ça, qu'en est il de ceux qui arrivent à Abidjan pour la première fois, qui ne savent pas exactement où se trouve leur destination? Comment demande t-on une personne de sortir d'un avion, de classe affaire, pour ne pas trouver un taxi climatisé? Pour combien de temps durera ce traumatisme? A qui incombe le travail? A qui devrais-je m'addresser?

Bon, on engage la route. Je constate que les éléphants sont partis, détruits. J'avais appris que les gars du carrefour Akwaaba étaient parti aussi, mais je voulais vérifier de mes propres yeux.. tellement j'en avais marre de ce point de contrôle. Oui, ils sont partis. De l'aéroport jusqu'à chez moi, je n'ai pas vu un barrage. Pas un seul. Au niveau de Café de Versaille, j'ai vu un groupe des hommes en tenue. C'est marqué FRCI. Franchement, je n'ai pas un bon souvenir d'un groupe de militaire.. donc moins je les voir.. mieux ça vaut pour moi.

C'était quoi même le titre de ce blog? Bon je voulais juste m'intéroger.. me demander si Abidjan est de retour? Je crois qu'elle y arrive. Je constate que les efforts y sont consenti. Je vois ce peuple qui ne veut pas baisser les bras.. on y arrivera. J'y crois.

Il faut tout de même garder les yeux ouverts. Il y a certaines choses où on doit aller doucement pour bien les refaire.. mais il y a d'autres qu'il faut faire “en bris”. L'union c'est en douceur.. mais la discipline et le travail.. ceux là, on doit y aller d'une manière résolue.

Demain je vais tourner. Comme on dit à Abidjan, “je vais mettre Abidjan sur ma tête”. Il faut que mon corps, mon esprit, mon ame, mes pensées, mon imagination, mes sensations, ma peau, mes rognons.. sachent qu'ils sont à Abidjan. Il y a aussi des coins qui me doivent certains services. Le coin de choukouya, le coin de poulet et poisson piqué, les allocodromes.. mon aestheticienne, mon couturier, mon église.. SOCOCE, Prima, Orca.. vraiment.. ils sont “foule”

Dès mon reveil, je vais me chausser et me tapper mon itinéraire de footing habituel. Au retour je vais faire une pause chez la burkinabé chez qui j'achete mon gombo, tomate, oignon et poisson magne! Je prendrais mon temps pour saluer les enfants.. ceux à qui je dois des bonbons depuis des mois. Je vais m'assurer que mes voisins sont tous là..

Je vais reprendre ma vie!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel by phone: how ICT adds zest to my life!

Yesterday I did a different kind of travel.  I traveled through the greater Accra, the Central, the Eastern and finally the Western regions of Ghana.  All the time, seated in front of my computer, doing research,  and drafting a paper for an African-Union related institution.

Where did I go?  I took off from Accra, to a place called Kade in the Eastern region.  There is a research facility in a tiny village off Kade and there was a meetup scheduled there.  The initial journey was okay.. and the business of the day was done.

But the journey back was the THE one.  "I" was no longer coming back to Accra but going to Takoradi, in the Western region.  So the challenge was to come from Kade to somewhere in the Central region, either to a place called Mankessim  or to Winneba junction.  I needed to go from Kade to Swedru and onwards.

It was raining.. and we were looking for a  nice restaurant too!  Then hopefully, short cut, to link Swedru to Mankessim.  We passed through the villages, all named "Agona" something, then finally to Swedru itself. I have always thought that Swedru was a big place.. but well.  When we stopped by to ask "How far is Swedru from here"?  The answer was  "This is Swedru you are in".. Ah okay..

Then that question, can we go directly to Mankesssim from Swedru or do we need to come back to Winneba junction before going on..  we asked three different groups on the way.  Two of them said you must go down to Winneba junction, one said maybe you can find a way. So we decided to go down to Winneba junction.

The rain let up a bit after Winneba junction, finally caught launch: fufu and bushmeat at a restaurant a bit before Apam junction.  Then hit the road again.  The rain came back.. by the time we passed by Mankessim, it was 5:30 PM but was a dark ast 7:30 PM.  The decision needed to be taken.  Do we continue to go all the way to Takoradi or stop in Cape Coast for the night?  By 7PM, we pulled into a nice little hotel in Cape Coast, not far from the STC bus station and checked in there..

Then the attendant looked and said: "Oh, Master, your tyre is flat"! Well, get some rest, the gas station is opposite.. we will fix all of that in the morning! And will be in Takoradi before 10 AM!

Nice trip huh?  Well, dont forget I said I did all of that on phone!  I was just speaking with the person inside the car..while they drove.. all of that distance..

Oh yeah! Phone call rates are getting cheaper..if you have a "preferred" number.. you can talk all day, talk all night.. and travel... on phone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Africa, Nigeria, and the likes of John Campbell

On September 9, 2010, John Campbell wrote an article titled: Nigeria on the Brink: What happens if the 2011 elections fail? in which he began by saying:

The 2011 elections in Nigeria, scheduled for January 22, pose a threat to the stability of the United States’ most important partner in West Africa. The end of a power-sharing arrangement between the Muslim North and the Christian South, as now seems likely, could lead to postelection sectarian violence, paralysis of the executive branch, and even a coup

For him,

Logistical preparations for the 2011 elections have not started. There is no voters roll, and despite the president’s signing of an electoral reform bill, some of these reforms remain unimplemented four months before the election. The election therefore will almost certainly lack legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the losers

He goes on to conclude that:

Nigerians have long danced on the edge of the cliff without falling off. Yet at this juncture, the odds are not good for a positive outcome, and it is difficult to see how Nigeria can move back from the brink.

If the readers took into consideration that John Campbell  was former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relation and  also the author of the Center for Preventive Action’s "Electoral Violence in Nigeria" contingency planning memorandum, one will not doubt that he is indeed an expert in the field. In fact, his book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, will soon be published.

After his article, a certain Azu Robert-Mary wrote a response, trying to highlight the same issues that "experts" go on and on about, most being negative with absolute denial of anything positive about Africa.

The Nigerian elections have been held and for the most part, has been declared by all as credible. Even Nigerians lauded their electoral Commission. Simply put, the predictions of prophet John Campbell did not come to pass.  No, Nigeria did not fall off the cliff, the military did not take over and the nation has come out stronger!

I was a bit surprised this morning to read that "Nigeria denies visa to ex-US envoy Campbell". It was an interesting piece, that recalled part of what Campbell had written about visa fraud in Nigeria.

I think there are some valid reasons to refuse visa to Campbell, not just him, but his likes:

The first reason is that there is 99% certainty that Campbell will be arriving Nigeria to look for that 1% of electoral mis-function, violence, unsatisfactory report and hate-mongering individuals. He needs these to finish his book.  Seeing his rank and connections before now in Nigeria, it is predictable that if he cannot find what he is looking for, he is quite capable of creating it!

The other reason is that it is too early.  Elections only happened several weeks ago and there was actually some orchestrated violence after that.  The prophet of doom should wait a bit.. maybe, just maybe, his dreams of a broken Nigeria will come true.

Ah, so at least Nigerian embassies are still functional?  Planes still land?  Universities still complete school years, up to holding graduation ceremonies? Seriously?  And John Campbell wants to be a guest in a University graduation ceremony in Nigeria?  So the country is still up and about then? The nation is not broken as yet? And John Campbell want to enjoy a peaceful happy graduation ceremony in Nigeria just weeks after the elections? No, thank you. 

Nigeria is a nation.  We have at least 54 of those now in Africa. We are not yet as consolidated as we want to be, but we are on our way.  We hear negatives about Africa everyday.. the images of people dying of hunger, of war, of hopelessness! For every initiative Africa and Africans want to take.. there is a "Campbell" out there drawing up a list of a million reasons why it cannot succeed, why failure is inevitable, why chaos is the only option.. so they can step in as "Almighty Saviours".

Nigeria DOES NOT need Campbell or his likes.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Long Live Africa!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

La guerre de Babi: ou quand le soleil se couche à midi. (En Franco-Ivoiro-Nouchi)

Djiàà c'est ça même kon appel la guerre. Pouatate! Mon vieux, Abidjan a prit drap dêh! Moi j'ai vu pour Guei Robert. Suis allé à Adjame pour prendre pour moi par apport à la fête de noêl quoi. Et les môgos on du gratter de là où on était pour rentrer à pied. Cette année là, on a pas eu banger le 31.

Après il y eu gbangban de rebelles. En ce moment, on a apprit Français. Le meme gars, le matin, il est rebelle, vers le soir, il est assaillant, et la nuit, il devient autre chose. A la fin, ils se sont gérés entre eux là bas, et on nous a présenté Soro Guillaume et les gars sont devenu Forces Nouvelles.

Bon pendant ce temps, on était krangba à Babi. On entendu que ça chauffait à Man là bas. Les parents sont descendu de Bouake .. et on connais tous le phenomène de Wassakra. Mais bon..Faut quand même dire qu'ils n'ont pas eu à beaucoup tirer à Babi.

Mais cette fois ci, c'est pas pétit boucan. C'est fort, trop fort! 3T fort! Abidjan n'a jamais révé ça. On est en train de durer dans mauvais rêve quoi. C'est pas gbangban, on peut même pas girigara comme toujours.. Tu fais yêre, et woila ton cadavre qui est là.

On disait pas qu'on a tout vu à Abidjan? .. mon gars, laisse ça.. pour couvre feu à midi là, on a beau séancé en pro.. on l'a pas vu venir.. on était même pas au courant quand il a prit son warren! En plein vendredi.. on dit y a couvrefeu à 17heures. Tu crois que c'est s'amusement.. et samedi on te dit que c'est à Midi! Tu demande “ et dimanche alors”, on te lornge.. toi seule, tu te la ferme.

Depuis quand les koutourou de la Riviera doivent allumer bougier et aller chercher de l'eau? Et puis les gens à la Djibi fraya pour aller à Treich? Yop est devenu Iraq.. Abobo même on parle pas! On a pas dit que abidjanais aime couper décaler? Mais je dis heiin, la musique que les gars jouent aux oreilles de l'homme à l'heure là, même DJ Mangou moyen pas!

Donc tu es là quoi? L'ar(g)ent, Zoro Bi pointé, manger, la mort subite même est en congé. Tu va appeler qui? Tu va aller où? Même si tu as jetons, c'est dans quel magazine tu vas aller payer quoi? C'est quel Mauritanien tu as vu dans deux jours là? Bon, rêvons même, disons qu'il y a attiéké dans un coin et que on a pu te démoisir un peu..

Il est déjà midi..


#CIV2010 – Hash tag or Hate tag?

The tag was kicked off on Twitter around October 2010. The idea was to get citizens interested in the upcoming elections to use it. So we used it as a monitoring tag for the campaigns and all the surrounding issues of the first presidential elections in the Ivory Coast. Having been there from the beginning, I must say, I enjoyed the early days of #civ2010.

In the first round of the presidential elections, there were 14 candidates, 11 of them came to accompany 3. Over 2 weeks, each one was given 90 minutes to face the nation. We chronicled all of those appearances and analysed each of the 13. Yes, only 13 came, Henri Konan Bedié boycotted! Those were the good old days!

The climax was the Thursday of the face to face debate of the 2 candidates of the run off. Allasane Dramane Ouattara, ADO for short and Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, LKG for short. I do recall tweeting the whole of the debate, directly from the French that came out of their mouth into English, the whole 3hours 13 minutes that it lasted! I also recall Twitter had to quarantine some of the heavy tweeple of #civ2010. My Twitter embargo was lifted after 10 hours!

Then the run off on November 28.. and the “the walls came tumbling down”. What a great transformation of the tag. It has gone from citizen watch and reporting space to a kind of association of folks who have something in common: someone or something they hate! Granted, the war is raging on the streets of Abidjan, but the war on Twitter is equally  viral..

The Gbagbo haters.

This group wakes up and their first tweet is an insult on Gbagbo. And their last tweet does not differ. They believe he is THE problem. Everyday they call for his death and do not fail to celebrate any information that hints to that!

The Simone (Gbagbo's wife) haters

I used to think they were one and the same with the first group, but no. I have actually noticed this is an independent group. This group includes fashion oriented tweeps, men who think the woman is the one manipulating the man. They are convinced that she is THE problem

The Ouattara haters

This group firmly believes that Ivory Coast will know no peace until Ouattara leaves it alone. They claim he is a foreigner used by foreign nations. They have vowed he will not be president. Their “patriotic” spirit is huge.

The France and/or Sarkozy haters

These ones have been there from day 1. Their argument has been consistent. This is France and/or Sarkozy bringing war to Ivory Coast. They have no doubts about it. They believe that France and/or Sarkozy is the one marshalling the international community to destroy the country. As far as they are concerned France and/or Sarkozy is THE problem

The Human rights violaters' haters

This is one other group whose job on the tag is to pick out every single hate word, speech, act. This group is very powerful with media skills. They have the links, the videos, the photos. They have schooled us on what is needed to take X, Y or Z to the International War Crimes Tribunal. They have taken the liberty to book one-way tickets to the Hague for some actors of the Ivorian crisis.

The Blé Goudé haters

This group appeared around the time Blé Goudé was named Minister. Mostly young and educated, they bemoan the “fact” that someone who stole his certificate and has never held an employment should be named Minister for employment. They track him and report his every move. They have informed us that even “Blé Goudé” is not his real name.

The foreigner haters

This group is very strategic. Their aim is to fish out all non-Ivoirians using the hash tag and remind them that it is not their business. They reveal you real name, your real nationality, your political bearings and your physical location. They can read you mind and tweet your motives.

The RTI haters

The national broadcasting service is right in the middle of the crisis. Having grown from a national beacon on the “epic debate” to a target because it chose Gbagbo's side, RTI has earned itself so many haters. Its CEO has been penned down by this group as a candidate for the Hague. They use “Télé Mille Collines” for it, in reference to the Rwanda media. Everyday, people in this group call for a complete bombing of the installations.

What's next?

Nobody can say for sure how long the war in Abidjan will last. Neither can we say for sure who will come out having lost the least (since I personally dont believe that anyone will come out a winner). The greater question that is looming larger by the day is: what do you with all these negative sentiments? How do you rebuild trust, acceptance and love? Is it possible? How long will it take? When will it begin..?

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Il s'agissait des alarmes
Et nous voici  plein de larmes
Côte d'Ivoire se trouve en armes
Nous assistons la mort dans l'âme

Il ne s'agit plus des jeux
Ou encore un jeu des mots
Il ne s'agit plus d'ADO
Ou encore Laurent Gbagbo

Après tout ce temps d'attente
Terre d'ébène se voit partante
Pour une guerre où tous les comptes
Donnent la belle ébène perdante

Dieu du ciel dans ton amour
Souviens toi de nous ce jour
Que ces armes qui nous entourent
Cèdent la place à la paix pour nous

Nnenna - 2011 - 02 - 26

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The next African leaders to quit power

It is the beginning of February 2011.

Tunisia has kicked off the year in grand style. Now the Egyptians are also protesting, asking that their President Hosni Mubarak leave power. Despite all that he has ceded and agreed to cede, the people still want him to leave.

And the question that has been making the rounds is: who next? Where next? How?

The rumblings seem to be shaking up places. Algeria, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen have felt tremors.. Even Gabon.

On what grounds can we, as Africans, support a popular call from citizens for their leader to step down? Here are a few reasons, that we believe should qualify the ousting of a president by the people.

If you have been in power for over 10 years or spent two terms

Then it is time for you to leave. A decade is enough time for you to achieve any initial goals you set for yourself, your party or your country. It is also enough time for you to lose contact with the real people, build a pseudo kingdom made up of your advisers, and live that unreal live in which these advisers only give you positive report, only show you where the country is doing great and hide anything that is to the contrary.

If you are 80 years of age

Honestly, that is way past retirement! Does your hearing still function 100%. How about your sight? How physically fit are you? Can you still do marathon work hours? Being a President is a heavy job, being an African president is doubly heavy! But an African President at 80? You may want to see the country as one where the population are your children. And you call everybody "my son" and "my daughter". No, that is not what we want in our President. Your grandchildren need you. Your family needs you. There are quite a number of non-presidential things you can accomplish at this age with a lot of dignity. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are still alive, happily alive.

You may be afraid of the International War Crime Tribunal of the Hague, but that is only when you refuse to leave. When you leave willingly, every other thing can be negotiated.

If you did not win the elections

There is no point hanging on, trying to oppress the real winner. We win some, we lose some. The line that it is the "international community" or country x or y that is "against us" is as fake as the line that county A or B, that is a world power is behind you. It is not about who is against you or for you on the international arena, it is about the people who voted. Power belongs to the people not "the diabolical colonial masters" or the "strong global partners". If you did not win, quit power.

If you dont have a university degree

In the Independence years, there were not many educated Africans. But that has changed. To be frank, it is an insult in today's world to have you be at the head of a nation when you dont have a formal university degree. What you learn in University is constructive thinking, reasoning, scientific analysis of society issues, global issues and human relations. University education allows you to come out of your tribe, ethnic group, religion, region. You face the world, you make mistakes and you learn from them. You learn to sit and listen to others criticize your work, tear it down.. University education lets you understand not only how your own system works, but how others' systems also work. In 2011, if you dont have a world view, you should not be the President. Step down and go to school.

If your father was the past president

There is a problem here. How many people live in the country? How many families have raised their children to be leaders? How many families have had the honour of leading the nation since its creation? Why do you think that one family should have two successive presidents? Dont you think your family's quota is already used up? Others deserve a chance. Step aside!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who will jail web democracy in Africa?

Last year, on one of the evenings of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in South Africa, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu came to speak to a group of us. A garden filled with media people from all over the world. In his address, he revisited the days of democratic and anti-apartheid activism and said “it was the media that did not forget us”. That line stuck with me.

Dr Nelson Mandela, affectionately called “Madiba” has left hospital after a mild respiratory infection. The moment he checked into hospital, the whole world was aware. Media camped outside the hospital premises and live coverage was maintained. The media still remembers..

Laurent Gbagbo has requisitioned the agencies of the West Africa Central Bank in Ivory Coast. And the bank's headquarters in Senegal has changed the access codes of the treasure room. The whole world is listening..

President Ben Ali of Tunisia took off with a plane from Tunis airport. He will transit through Malta. While the officials of Malta are saying “no official information”, someone has it on Twitter that the Air Control of Malta has communicated with Ben Ali's pilot. We get there before “official information”..

Mrs Sarah Jibril wants to be the first Nigerian female President. She won one vote in her party primaries. Over 4000 delegates voted. She also voted. Sarah Jibril was the only one who voted for Sarah Jibril. Dont bother going to court to contest anything...

A French military advisor to the Togolese government assaults a journalist in Lomé. Another journalist records the scene and puts it up on YouTube. In less than a week, it has been viewed over a million times and shared on so many Facebook pages that the French republic had to recall the officer. And Togo had to let the journalists (the one molested and the one who shot the video) walk...

Et cetera, et cetera..

The new media in Africa is the social media, the people's media, the web media, the blog, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter media. This media has hit the roof, blown the roof, and is headed to “where none has been before”. The weight of this new, social, online, citizen media in Africa democracy is great, greater than what one single individual can say in a blog! From Cape to Cairo, Cape Verde to Djibouti, Comoros to Jos..

For anyone interested in African democracy issues, you cannot not pay attention. In less than two weeks, what President El Abidine Ben Ali thought was normal went viral and by the time he was ready to act, it was too late and he was washed by the wave of tweets, of photos, of blogs, of videos and of people on the streets.

In Côte d'Ivoire, the #civ2010 of Twitter has overwhelmed the political landscape. Because it started monitoring before the votes were cast, it made it difficult for the powers that be to use the old systems of election rigging. During the results of the first round of the presidential elections, we were publishing about one minute after reading. Just the time needed to crosscheck, spell check and hit “Enter”. By the time the second rounds came around, the platform had blown the roofs. On its own, alone, the citizen media of #civ2010 has achieved more information feed on the issue that it has forced all parties: winning and losing, international and national traditional media to converge.

In Nigeria, I followed the #PDPprimaries. President Goodluck Jonathan, kicked off the day by sending an early morning tweet and a Facebook update to rally support for him. The elections themselves started 6 hours late! All this time, I was waiting..typing, tweeting.. with thousands of other Nigerians all over the world? Why? Because the one that wins #PDPprimaries is almost certain to win the Presidency. #PDPprimaries lasted 15 hours. The final results were announced at around 7AM the next morning. We kept awake! Every single count was on web radio, on Twitter, on Facebook.

Egypt is on. This country has the highest number of Internet Users per capita in the continent. But no, it is not a case of in-country count..

It is a case of a continent whose population, home, abroad and in the diaspora has realised that “media makes democracy” and that the “Internet give you media power”. And are determined to make optimum use of it. Across the continent, initiatives like #civ2010, #wonzomai, #EiENigeria, #Sidibouzid are on the increase.

Africa web democracy is alive and is here and here to stay. The instantaneous nature of it is wonderful! Its power to connect national and diaspora is its strength and its capacity to churn out huge information is incredible. Then we did not have the cable and the bandwidth, but now both are coming. First we did not have access, but we are getting there. Then the terminals were few, now, they are everywhere. Then we did not know how to use the Internet while maintaining our safety, now we are “safety experts”. First the options were limited, but now, they are unlimited.

How do you plan to go around us?

Jailing opposition leaders is no longer working, jailing bloggers is getting less effective, blocking sites is “a known problem with a known solution”, even when the national Internet servers are shut down, we have “ready and trusted alternatives”.

PS: Blog also published by The Commonwealth on

Friday, January 14, 2011

People's Democratic Party - PDP (Nigeria) Presidential Primaries.

Here are the figures captured on Thursday's primaries at the Eagle Square Abuja as teh state delegates votes were being counted. The third Candidate, Mrs Sarah Jubril only had her own vote. So please start the count with Sarah Jubril 1 vote in Kwara State.

State Goodluck Jonathan Atiku Abubakar
FCT 24 3
Abia 80 1
Adamawa 76 31
Akwa Ibom 141 0
Anambra 47 8
Bauchi 46 44
Bayelsa 67 0
Benue 72 15
Borno 33 26
Cross River 105 0
Delta 114 7
Ebonyi 82 2
Edo 60 0
Ekiti 76 1
Enugu 89 9
Gombe 55 18
Imo 125 3
Jigawa 100 17
Kaduna 82 41
Kano 21 98
Katsina 147 11
Kebbi 44 33
Kogi 84 24
Kwara 61 26
Lagos 52 3
Nasarawa 53 8
Niger 16 94
Ogun 80 3
Ondo 69 6
Osun 99 1
Oyo 107 10
Plateau 70 5
Rivers 128 2
Sokoto 32 84
Taraba 62 16
Yobe 29 20
Zamfara 7 70
TOTAL 2635 740

The final official results were:

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan: 2736
Atiku Abubakar: 805
Sarah Jubril: 1