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QuickRead: Obasanjo on rising African debts. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo last week warned on the rising debt profile among countries in Africa.

Also, the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, last week blasted the state governors over the misuse of security votes in the various states.
These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse in Nigeria last week.

1. Obasanjo on rising African debts

On January 4, the ex-president warned that the continent’s current debt burden would be shouldered by future generations.
Obasanjo, who spoke at a meeting with awardees of the Future Africa Leaders Foundation, expressed doubt about future debt forgiveness for countries in Africa, citing past mismanagement of previous debt relief efforts.

He said: “With the level of mismanagement of the previous debts written off for the country, it will be almost impossible for any administration to make similar gestures on the continent.
“The coming generations will have no choice but to pay the current debt being incurred by different countries in the continent.”

Why it matters

The former president may have unconsciously touched the twin problems of bad leadership and corruption which have stalled development and paved the way for the military disruption of constitutional order in some countries on the continent, especially in West and Central Africa.
The remark highlights the culture of bad governance found across Africa, a continent where corruption has become so pervasive and reached cancerous proportions.
It may as well be said to be an invitation for African leaders to cut down on their excesses and put their people’s interests above personal interests to take the continent out of the backwater of development.

2. Ngige blames governors for insecurity

The former minister on January 4 identified the governors’ misuse of security funds for the growing insecurity across Nigeria.
Ngige, who spoke on the sidelines of the Ojoto Ofala Festival in Anambra, said the governors erroneously believe security votes are pocket money for them and divert the funds from their intended purpose.
He said: “Security votes are meant to be spent by state governors to stabilize security in their different states.
“They are not pocket money, but some governors have converted them to personal money.”

Why it matters

Ngige’s statement has reopened the debate on the need to discard this opaque funding of the governors and other government officials in the face of the escalating insecurity in the country.

While the governors have continued to blame the central government for the pillaging of Nigerians by non-state agents to cover up their shortcomings, the remark has further cast light on the management of state resources by the chief executives many of whom live in opulence while the subjects are at the mercy of the mass killers due largely to their leaders’ greed.

3. Crisis looms in Ondo PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State on January 4 defied the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and appointed the Deputy Chairman, Tola Alabere, as the party’s acting chairman in the state.

The NWC had earlier rejected the suspension of the PDP chairman in the state, Fatai Adams, for alleged anti-party activities as illegal.

The party’s Publicity Secretary in Ondo State, Kennedy Peretei, who addressed journalists at the end of the committee’s meeting in Akure, said there was no going back on the chairman’s suspension.

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He said: “Today, the State Executive Committee of the party has validated the suspension of the state chairman. They have affirmed what the State Working Committee did.
“By our constitution, the SWC is to see the day-to-day running of the party, in other words, the SWC runs the party on behalf of the SEC, so whatever action the SWC takes overtime must be submitted to the SEC for approval, which is what we just did today.”

Why it matters

With the APC battling with its internal strife in Ondo State, the latest development in PDP means the two frontline parties may be heading into the November 16 governorship election in a bad state of health unless they put their house in order and resolve the disputes.

The PDP in particular needs to move fast as the next election presents the perfect chance for the party to wrest power from APC after eight years in the opposition.

4. Deputy speaker’s promise on Kanu

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, said on January 3 talks were ongoing to secure the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu has been in the Department of State Services (DSS) custody since June 2021.
The deputy speaker, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Levinus Nwabughiogu, stated this at the “South-East political Roundtable,” a programme on FLO FM in Umuahia, Abia State.

He said: “We can’t put all our programmes and plans on social media. He (Kanu) is my brother. Is he in the mix of what we are trying to do? Yes! It’s one of our agendas to ensure he’s released. Who wants their brother to be in jail?
“We are working underground. There’s a detailed strategy. It’s not by violence, you can’t coerce the government through violence. It has never worked and won’t work.”

Why it matters

Benjamin Kalu with the statement may have given a ray of hope on the release of the separatist agitator, who without a doubt holds the key to the restoration of normalcy in the South-East after years of blood-letting.

Aside from Kanu’s release, the federal government, and South-East leaders must find a political solution to all misgivings in the region, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other groups’ agitation for the Biafra Republic to give the region a new lease of life.

5. EFCC arrests suspended NSIPA coordinator

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on January 3 arrested the suspended National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu, in connection with an alleged N37 billion fraud in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.
She had since been released by the commission.
The EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, confirmed Shehu’s release to journalists in Abuja.
He said: “Shehu who was arrested on Tuesday has been released and directed to come to the EFCC office for interrogation until the end of the investigation.”

Why it matters

The latest corruption scandal involving the NSIPA coordinator and the ex-minister of humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, speaks to the penchant of government officials in Nigeria to breach their oath of office, especially in the management of public resources.

By Hamed Shobiye

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