Africa is setting an example for Arabs

Arab leaders and citizens do not often look at Africa for inspiration. For decades, the Dark Continent has been beset by civil wars, military coups, famine and recurrent outbreaks of endemic diseases. Millions of lives have been lost and economies destroyed. But Africa is waking up and moving forward and for the first time in decades achievements have been secured and growth sustained in many of the continent’s 55 nations.

This month something remarkable happened that promises to change the fate of African nations for good. At the African Union’s summit in Niger, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave the African Continental Free Trade Area a major boost by signing the continent’s largest economy onto the deal. With Nigeria joining the pact the world is now seeing the birth of the world’s largest free trade zone — a 55-nation bloc worth $3.4 trillion.

The pact aims are creating a single market for goods and services, facilitate free movement of people and investments, and eventually introduce a single-currency union.

Even more remarkable the leaders launched a Pan-African payment system aimed at reducing the use of third currencies — US dollars and Euros — in bilateral trade settlement across Africa saving nations between $5 billion and $7 billion, according to Okey Oramah, president of the African Export-Import Bank.

Geopolitical impact

There are efforts to push for the creation of an African Monetary Fund to help African states engage more actively in regional trade and intra-regional trade. The purpose is to help supplement what the IMF provides to countries facing balance of payments problems. Once operational it will have a capital subscription of up to $22 billion, but for the fund to exist a treaty that was agreed on in 2014 must be ratified by at least 15 nations.

Coming into effect by 2020 analysts believe the bloc will become the world’s largest free trade zone by cutting trade tariffs and barriers between 1.2 billion people. Aside from improving the continent’s infrastructure and bilateral trade, leaders hope that the free zone will have positive geopolitical impact by bringing in stability and preserving peace.

Raising the income of citizens and improving their living standards will help in the fight against terror groups in the long run, according to observers. UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed was quoted as saying that the AU’s goal of achieving peace across Africa by 2020 was attainable, adding that “we must work hard to silence the weapons.”

The continentwide trade agreement took 17 years to negotiate and approve but its rewards will be felt within few years, according to observers. African countries currently trade only about 16 per cent of their goods and services among one another, compared to 65 per cent with European countries. But by agreeing to reduce tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and services the AU estimates it will give a 60 per cent boost in intra-African trade by 2022.

Positive flow OF FDIs

In addition the agreement is expected to increase the positive flow of direct foreign investments into many countries in Africa. With more than 75 per cent of Africa’s external exports are raw material, such as oil and minerals which has stripped the continent of its natural wealth for centuries, the new pact will attract foreign investors who are expected to invest in the manufacturing sector, thus creating a new wave of industrialisation.

Yet the deal will have to go through a teething phase that includes tough negotiations on removing barriers and providing for fair competition. Also the deal faces legal and stereotypical challenges in the form of existing World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements that may hinder Africa’s collective negotiations on free trade with the rest of the world.

But overall the perception is positive and exciting and this is why one feels, as an Arab, that we have fallen behind.

The Arab world, of over 300 million citizens, should have moved to integrate its economies and create a viable free trade zone long ago. Ironically, the legal frameworks and agreements within the Arab League charter and beyond do exist and references to intra-Arab free trade have been made since the mid 1950s. But a quick look at intra-Arab trade reveals that it only makes less than 10 per cent of total external Arab trade estimated at $1.75 trillion dollars.

Interestingly, trade among GCC countries makes up more than 70 per cent of total intra-Arab trade and more than 80 per cent of total Arab external trade, the bulk being oil and related products. It is incumbent upon the GCC countries to take the lead in integrating other Arab economies since they have the infrastructure, wealth and experience.

There is a lot or work to be done especially as we need to move from the rhetorical assurances to enforcing agreements and creating a real pan Arab economic structure that ensures free trade, economic complimentarily, movement of people and intra-Arab flow of investments. The rewards are not only financial but political as well. That is the only way this part of the world can compete, innovate and preserve its achievements for future generations.

— Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

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With new aviation laws, Ghana aims for safer skies

Ghana recently spent $275 million expanding and modernising Kotoka International Airport located in the capital city, Accra. This is part of its plan to attract eight million tourists annually by 2027. A significant increase from the 1.2 million people who visited the country in 2015. Given that most of these tourists will arrive in the country by air, attracting them partly depends on Ghana’s ability to create and maintain a safe air transport sector.

With the right legislation, Ghana hopes to improve aviation compliance and safety. Shutterstock

Ghana is a state party to the Chicago Convention. This multilateral treaty established the fundamental principles governing international air travel. It also created the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) – a United Nations agency which manages the international air transport system. As a member of ICAO, Ghana is expected to comply with its standards and recommended practices.

But it has had some compliance problems. In 2006, Ghana ranked below average in five out of eight criteria set by the organisation’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme. Although it met the requisite standard level for licensing, accident investigations and aerodromes, Ghana’s aviation industry was found to be unsatisfactory when it came to legislation, organisation, operations, air worthiness and air navigation services.

In 2010, two Ghanaian airlines appeared on the European Union Air Safety List for failing to meet certain international safety standards. The list is a directory of airlines which have been banned or otherwise restricted from flying in the European Union. Currently, Ghana is a Category 2 country on the American Federal Aviation Authority’s International Aviation Assessment Program. This means they were found to have not met the requisite safety standards.

Ghana’s been working hard to address its aviation deficiencies. This has yielded some important successes. In 2015, the two Ghanaian airlines were removed from the EU Air Safety List. In June 2019 Ghana was awarded a provisional Effective Implementation grade of 89.89% in aviation safety oversight under ICAO’s Coordinated Validation Mission.

This is a remarkable achievement: it surpasses the organisation’s minimum target of 60% and significantly outshines the global average of 66.5%. It is also the highest score for an African country. The Effective Implementation average rate for the continent is just over 50%.

So how has Ghana achieved this milestone? Through inter-agency cooperation and efforts to amend existing legislation and pass new ones. These legislative efforts kicked off after the country’s poor performance in the 2006 audit. Legislators and aviation authorities realised they needed to strengthen the country’s laws to improve the situation. This work culminated in two particularly crucial pieces of legislation – the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act, 2019 and Aircraft Accident and Serious Incident Regulations, 2019. Both were passed by Parliament in March this year.

There is still a need to address the other areas identified by the audit, air worthiness and organisational efficiency, for example. These require effective and efficient business administration. One solution may be to involve a commercially-focused private company to rectify the outstanding operational issues. Indeed there have been rumours of privatisation. The financial investment and strategic management necessary to maintain the safety improvements made, and take Ghana’s aviation industry to the next level – one to rival counterparts in Nairobi – just might require the private sector.

New laws

The first of the two crucial laws aimed at improving aviation safety is the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act 2019 (Act 985), which modified a number of pre-existing laws.

Under it, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority will retain its regulatory function. But it will no longer be responsible for operational functions such as navigation services. These will be coordinated by a new body. This separation of roles should improve economic efficiency and minimise conflicts of interests.

The Act has also strengthened some important roles within the aviation sector. For instance, powers of the Minister of Aviation and Chief Investigator have been enhanced. The Civil Aviation Authority’s Director General has also been given extra powers. This person can now compel an individual to produce documents – or testify – before any person or panel whose work falls under the authority’s mandate. These changes should assist the effective investigation of aviation incidents and accidents.

The other new legislation is the Aircraft Accident and Serious Incident Regulations, 2019. This requires airline operators to immediately notify authorities of an accident or serious incident. The law created the Accident Incident Bureau to manage investigations of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents in Ghana. Its remit also covers any state-registered aircraft that are involved in incidents or accidents outside the country.

The new regulations also provide for the establishment of a database of facts and figures relating to accidents and serious incidents for the first time. This will enable officials to do useful analysis on actual or potential safety concerns. It will also help identify any necessary corrective measures.

These legislative changes are meant to improve aviation safety oversight, enhance the powers of aviation officials and address inefficiencies. It should also facilitate the transition to Category 1 status on the FAA’s list.

It’s hoped that the new legal framework will help Ghana improve its reputation and performance in all sorts of safety and compliance measures. And make the country’s aircraft even safer for passengers.

What still needs to be done

Whether these new laws have their intended effect depends largely on the degree to which they are implemented. Additional resources are likely to be required. This could include a cash injection to sustain the progress made and increase the number of professionals with technical training and expertise in aviation. Any optimism about successful and long-lasting compliance requires senior officials with a sound understanding of the importance and will to enforce violations.

The tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019 was a sobering reminder that major problems arise when safety and security are concentrated in one stakeholder, like airline manufacturers.

The more stakeholders, including states, involved in evaluating, implementing and maintaining safety standards, the better. This is why stronger legislation is so important. Now it’s incumbent on Ghana to ensure consistent compliance with its new laws.

Julia Selman Ayetey, Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Air & Space Law, McGill University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Ozubulu Church Massacre: Chief Great Akpunonu is innocent – Court

Anambra High Court sitting in Awka has discharged and acquitted the two remaining suspects standing trial for the attack on worshipers at St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State in which 13 people lost their lives.

Unknown gunmen had on August 6, 2017, invaded the Church in a commando style and shot sporadically, killing many worshipers while many were injured in the process.

The incident which generated heated arguments received the attention of the government of Anambra state with the governor vowing to ensure that justice prevails and the killers brought to book.

Chief Great Akpunonu in the Court

Four persons were later arraigned in court, in connection with the massacre and two had earlier been discharged.

The four suspects – Chief Great Chinedu Akpunonu, 44; Vincent Ike, 57; Chukwudi Ugwu, 30 and Onyebuchi Mbanefo, 46, were arraigned on a 24-count charge in Suit No: HN/36C/2017 bordering on conspiracy and murder, while others allegedly involved in the attack were at large.

In a judgment that lasted for four hours, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Fidelis Aniukwu ruled that the prosecution counsel was unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt, the allegations leveled against the two defendants, Chief Great Chinedu Akpunonu and Onyebuchi Mbanefo.

Well wishers jubilating over the news of Chief Great’s acquittal

The Judge had in January 18, 2019 discharged two of the four persons charged with the attack, one year after the commencement of the trial, for lack of proper evidence.According to Justice F. I. Aniukwu, whose judgment reads in part, ” that the shooting that took place on 6/8/2017 at St. Philips Catholic Church Ozubulu is unfortunate. It is, however, more unfortunate that the Prosecution was not able to prove that the Defendant took part in the shooting.

The consequence of a finding out of guilt against the Defendant or any of the Defendant is death by hanging. For the Court to make a finding of guilt, therefore, the Court insists on cogent and concrete evidence the standard of which is enough to ground such finding against the Defendants. Such evidence was not led before me.

In the circumstances, I am constrained to return a verdict of not guilty in favour of the Defendant in all the counts against them. The Defendants are hereby acquitted and discharged in all the counts of the charge”. 

Friends and supporters jubilating and celebrating the Court’s judgment
Speaking after the ruling, one of the defendants, Chief Great Chinedu Akpunonu said “God has vindicated me from an attempt by some persons to smear my reputation”.

He, however, said he has forgiven his accusers and appealed to them to join hands to ensure that peace reigns in Ozubulu community.

At least 30 people killed in triple suicide bombings in Nigeria’s Borno state

Over 30 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing in northeastern Nigeria, emergency services reported on Monday, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram jihadist group.

Three bombers detonated their explosives late Sunday outside a hall in the town of Konduga, where soccer fans were watching a game on television. Konduga is about 22 miles southeast of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

Usman Kachalla, the head of operations for the Nigerian emergency management agency, said on Monday: “The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured.”

Ali Hassan, the leader of a self-defense group in Konduga, said that the attack happened at around 9 p.m. on Sunday and that the operator of the hall had prevented one of the bombers from entering the packed venue.

“There was a heated argument between the operator and the bomber who blew himself up,” Mr. Hassan said by telephone, adding that two other bombers who had mingled among the crowd at a tea stall nearby had then also detonated their vests.

“Nine people died on the spot, including the operator, and 48 were injured,” Mr. Hassan said.

Mr. Kachala of the emergency management agency said that the high number of fatalities was because responders had been unable to reach the site of the blast quickly and were ill equipped to deal with large numbers of wounded.

“Lack of an appropriate health facility to handle such a huge emergency situation and the delay in obtaining security clearance to enable us deploy from Maiduguri in good time led to the high death toll,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the imprint of Boko Haram, which has led a decade-long campaign to establish a hard-line Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria.

The last suicide attack was in April, when two bombers blew themselves up outside the garrison town of Monguno, killing a soldier and a vigilante and wounding another soldier.

Konduga has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers from a Boko Haram faction loyal to its longtime leader, Abubakar Shekau. The faction typically carries out suicide attacks against civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations, often using young women and girls as bombers.

The jihadists are believed to sneak into Konduga from hiding places in the nearby Sambisa Forest.

The Boko Haram insurgency has so far claimed 27,000 lives and forced around two million people to flee their homes. The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to battle the insurgents.

Port Harcourt Mall Explosion: A terror attack? Here is everything we know

There was an explosion at the newly built Port Harcourt Mall Wednesday, leaving at least 1 person dead and six others injured.

An eye witness told The Bloomgist that the incident happened around 4:00 p.m. forcing an early closure of the mall.

There was an explosion at the newly built Port Harcourt Mall Wednesday, leaving at least 1 person dead and six others injured.

An eye witness told The Bloomgist that the incident happened around 4:00 p.m. forcing an early closure of the mall.

The eye witness said the fire started at the continental cuisines’ kitchen, a section within the mall which cooks and serves Chinese and other continental dishes.

Five workers at the kitchen, who were badly burnt were rushed to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where they are currently receiving treatment.

“The fire burnt about five of the workers badly. In fact, one of the victims’ skin was peeling off like burnt clothes as he cried, I couldn’t watch, to be honest.”

A gas explosion or a terror attack?

Analysists have been looking into the explosion which they say is @strange” and looking into a posibility of the explosion being a terror attack.

An anonymous contributor told Bloomgist that the explosion is strange and suspecious, having come amidst fear of terror attack plan rumours in the city.

Police and other security operatives have started investigation to know the actual course of the explosion which has left the residents terrified.

There was a recent post by a Port Harcourt base blogger on how to plant a bomb in the mall seem to be the most popular and most visited in the region.

The post was published on June 7th, five days before the explosion at the mall. Photo: The Bloomgist

The blog with the name ‘Nazcardgard’ shared how to get a bomb into the mall and the processes required to make the ‘mission’ a success, tar getting over 50 casualties which is mostly going to be made up of more ‘rich men’ than normal ‘window shoppers’ at the mall.

The publisher who, according to the post seem to be gunning for fame chose June 12th to accomplish this, and that is the exact day the explosion went off at the mall.

Screenshots of the original post which has been deleted by the publisher. Photo: The Bloomgist

The post which has been deleted after the explosion at the mall was published on June 7th 2019, five days before the explosion.

More details soon.

Ramaphosa wins fo ANC, maybe for the last time

The African National Congress (ANC) will govern South Africa for another five years. But this sixth victory of the democratic era since 1994 was hard-won. For the first time in a national election its share of the vote dropped beneath 60% to come in at 57.5%. This means that it will have 19 fewer representatives in the 400-seat parliament. This suggests both a normalisation of South Africa’s electoral landscape and an increasingly competitive multi-party democracy.

By: Richard Calland, University of Cape Town

File 20190510 183077 10d4m8y.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Cyril Ramaphosa has led South Africa’s African National Congress to its sixth electoral victory. But he’s got his work cut out.
EPA-EFE/Yeshiel Panchia

On arrival at the national results centre in Pretoria on Thursday, with around 60% of the votes counted, the party’s chair Gwede Mantashe expressed his anxiety to me about the outcome: “We need 60%”, he said.

I responded by saying that the evidence suggested the ANC was heading for 57% or 58% and that this represented an upturn of their fortunes after the dramatic dip to 54% in the 2016 local government election. It was, I said, therefore a very good result. He appeared to accept my logic. Mantashe is a supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa and is currently the minister of mineral resources.

The pivotal issue for Election 2019 was whether the outcome would give Ramaphosa more political space within the ANC to drive his reform programme forward. Since he ousted Jacob Zuma from power in February 2018, having won a very tight race to succeed Zuma as leader of the ANC at its five-yearly national elective conference the previous December, Ramaphosa has begun to execute a complicated turnaround strategy.




Read more:
South Africa’s poll is more about battles in the ANC than between political parties


But the job is half done. So far he’s appointed several commissions of inquiry to expose the rot of what he called “nine lost years”. This paved the way for the appointment of competent, honest men and women to lead key state institutions such as the SA Revenue Service and the National Prosecuting Authority that had succumbed to the Zuma-enabled project of “state capture”.

Yet the Zuma faction within the ANC has not been vanquished and so Ramaphosa has had to drive with at least one eye on the rear-view mirror. His own party has been a drag factor. Would Election 2019 deliver a sufficiently big victory for Ramaphosa to shake them off?

The optimal outcome

Some have argued that were the ANC to win 60% or more in this election, it would have given the party a blank cheque for further larceny. But a below par score beneath 56% would have weakened Ramaphosa and provided ammunition for his opponents within the party to attack him and undermine reform plans. These include the much-needed unblundling of the state-owned power utility, Eskom, which represents a major risk factor for South Africa’s sluggish economy and its beleaguered public fiscus.

A 57% or 58% outcome for the ANC could arguably represent an ideal outcome for the country. The people would have reprimanded the party for its reprehensible conduct over the last decade and, as many of its leaders were conceding yesterday, its failures to deliver good public services. At the same time it would give Ramaphosa the opportunity to claim a victory and, thereby, the fresh mandate he needs.

This indeed appears to have been the outcome.

More popular than his party for the first time since Nelson Mandela in 1994, and more trusted than the leaders of the opposition, Ramaphosa can claim to have saved the ANC’s bacon.

How the opposition fared

Election 2019 was also a referendum on South Africa’s appetite for the sort of populist politics that has prospered around the world in recent years. The local version is Julius Malema and his militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The exponential growth that the party promised on its campaign trail has proved elusive. The six million young (18-29) people who chose not to register to vote certainly represent a potential untapped market for Malema, to build on the 1.5m or so who voted for the EFF this week. But for the time being South Africa has rejected a populist alternative in favour of more of the devil it knows.

The biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), had a very poor election. It lost votes from its right flank to the Freedom Front Plus – an Afrikaans party – and failed to gain them from the middle ground. As a result, overall it has stagnated. Its share of the vote overall may even drop – despite the fact that the conditions for challenging the ANC were so conducive.

Questions will inevitably be asked of the DA’s leader, Mmusi Maimane. Was he tough enough to cope with the existential ambivalence that undermined its ability to define a clear value proposition to the electorate?

The DA had hoped to add to its progress in the local elections in 2016 when, with the help of the EFF, it drove the ANC out of city hall government in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Both fall within the Gauteng province, South Africa’s economic hub. In the national poll the DA appears to have failed to prove its case in the region where the ANC looks set to hang onto its majority – albeit by its fingernails.

ANC decline

The ANC’s domination has been in decline since 2009. In four successive national and local government elections since Zuma entered office that year, the ANC’s share of the vote has fallen.

The party’s leaders know it, but find it hard to accept. As Mantashe moved on from my conversation he turned back for a second:

But we would still like 60% – it’s an ego thing.

The ANC’s ego may not have been stroked by South Africa’s electorate on this occasion. On the contrary, it has fired a shot across the bows of Nelson Mandela’s party. A quarter century after Mandela became South Africa’s first black, democratically elected President, the ANC’s hold on power has weakened. Now it must continue to cleanse the body politic of the contamination of the Zuma years.

Ramaphosa will need to use the victory to turn the reform platform he has built over the past year into a springboard for economic growth and job creation. Both are urgently needed.

Otherwise, the lesson of Election 2019 is clear: next time the electorate will say enough is enough and turn away from the ANC.

Richard Calland, Associate Professor in Public Law, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

SOURCE: The Conversation

Ganduje successfully shrinks Emir Sanusi’s influence with the creation of new emirates

The Kano State House of Assembly has removed 36 local government areas from the Kano Emirate to create four new emirates.

Ganduje successfully shrinks Emir Sanusi’s influence with the creation of new emirates
Ganduje successfully shrinks Emir Sanusi’s influence with the creation of new emiratesGanduje successfully shrinks Emir Sanusi’s influence with the creation of new emiratesGanduje successfully shrinks Emir Sanusi’s influence with the creation of new emirates

The proposed new emirates are Rano, Gaya, Karaye and Bichi.

The Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, has indicated he would sign the bill into law.

This development followed an amendment by the lawmakers of the Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Law of the state.

On Monday, one Ibrahim Salisuhad submitted a petition to the state assembly seeking the decentralisation of the Kano Emirate Council

The petitioner demanded the upgrade of the traditional rulers of Karaye, Bichi, Rano and Gaya to the status of first class emirs.

The assembly set up a committee to look into the petition and come up with a report.

While reading the joint committees report before the floor of the house on Tuesday, the Majority Leader, Baffa Danagundi, said the report also recommended the review of the law.

He said the decision followed wide consultation with stakeholders.

Mr Danagundi said the response received clearly showed that there was a need to upgrade the traditional rulers.

After that, the lawmakers unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday.

A copy of the new law obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday stated that the local government councils that remained under Kano Emirate are Kano Municipal, Dala, Nassarawa, Gwale, Tarauni, Fagge, Kumbotso and Ungoggo.

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammad Sanusi, as the Emir of Kano is the head of the Emirate.

The proposed Rano Emirate covers 10 local government councils. These are Rano, Bunkure, Kibiya, Takai, Sumaila, Kura, Doguwa, Tudunwada, Kiru and Bebeji.

The proposed Gaya Emirate has nine local government councils consisting of Gaya, Ajingi, Albasu, Wudil, Garko, Warawa, Dawakinkudu, Gabasawa and Gezawa.

The proposed Karaye Emirate has eight local government councils. These are Karaye, Rogo, Gwarzo, Kabo, Rimingado, Shanonon, Madobi and Garunmalam.

Bichi Emirate has nine local government areas. They are Bichi, Bagwai, Tsanyawa, Shanono, Kunchi, Dambatta, Makoda, Dawakintofa and Tofa.

The amendment bill received a swift passage at the Assembly after scaling the third reading at Wednesday’s plenary presided by the Speaker, Kabiru Rurum.

Earlier in the day, Governor Ganduje had announced that he would sign the bill when passed by the state assembly.

The governor said this in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar.
He said: “We heard about a Bill sent to the State House of Assembly, requesting them to make a law for the creation of four more Emirs in Kano. We believe those that did this did it with good intention and they want the development of the state.”

According to him, “That is the popular wish of our people. The people of Kano state. This will also go a long way in hastening growth and development for the state.”

Mr Ganduje said there had been a clamour for many years among citizens in the state for new emirates. “But now we are happy to see that the idea would come into fruition.

He said all sectors would benefit from the changes.

“It will also lead to more concentration on our health, education and other equally important sectors of the society. That is why I said there will be no waste of time in signing the Bill into Law.”
But observers said the real motive of the governor is to reduce the influence of the Emir of Kano, Mr Sanusi.
Mr Sanusi reportedly opposed the re-election of Mr Ganduje. The governor scraped through reelection after a disputed supplementary election. He had lost heavily in Kano Municipal, the seat of the Emir.

Kano is one of only two states in Nigeria with one emirate or traditional council. Sokoto, the seat of the Sultan of Sokoto, is the other state with a similar arrangement.

The emirates, as with the other traditional councils, have roles in the administration of local governments and are allocated five per cent of the revenues of the local councils.

By Wednesday’s amendment, Kano Emirate will now cover eight local government areas. Kano State has the highest number of LGAs in Nigeria with 44.

South Africa’s elections is more of between ANC members than other parties

South Africans are about to vote in the most competitive election they’ve had since democracy began in 1994. But, despite this, the poll will have far more impact on the factional battle within the governing African National Congress (ANC) than on the contest between it and other parties for control of government.

The election follows a decline in the ANC vote from just under 70% in 2004 to around 54% in 2016’s local elections. This seemed to signal that the ANC was no longer guaranteed re-election nationally and in most provinces. There has been much talk of the ANC vote sinking below 50%, forcing it to seek coalition partners if it wants to govern.

In Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland, the ANC won only 46% in the 2016 municipal elections and was forced into opposition in two metropolitan areas – Tshwane and Johannesburg. This happened because the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a breakaway from the ANC which espouses a more militant brand of African nationalism, agreed to support the country’s second biggest party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), even though they differ on just about everything. This raised the possibility that a similar arrangement this time will mean the ANC will no longer govern in Gauteng or nationally.

So, is South Africa about to see its first election in which national power changes hands? No. The ANC is almost certain to remain in government in all the eight provinces it controls, including Gauteng. This will leave the Western Cape, which the DA holds and is likely to retain despite claims that it is in trouble, as the only province in which the ANC is not in government.

This prediction is not based on opinion polls which, in this election, have continued their tradition of doing more to confuse than inform. One poll has the ANC at 61%. Another says it is on the cusp of losing its majority . The DA’s projected vote veers just as wildly. The only constant is claims that the EFF will improve although this is not what is happening in municipal by-elections, where its support remains largely unchanged.

So, the polls tell us little and there is a good argument for ignoring them. But they do have one use. They largely agree on what won’t happen: the ANC won’t lose power.

Why the ANC is sitting pretty

Predicting that the ANC will remain in government outside the Western Cape is based on political common sense.

Talk of the ANC dropping below 50% often ignores the reality that, just about everywhere, the opposition is far behind it. The nearest an opposition party comes to challenging it outside the Western Cape is in Gauteng where the DA won 37% in 2016. Elsewhere, the nearest opposition party trails by 30 percentage points or more. The only way the ANC could be removed from government is by another deal between the DA and EFF.

But EFF leader Julius Malema has said that it will not make a deal with the DA and is more likely to look to a coalition with the ANC. What politicians say about coalitions cannot always be taken seriously and later Malema said the EFF would consider a coalition with the DA or ANC if they agreed to improve conditions in the townships where black poor people live.

But a DA-EFF coalition seems impossible, whatever Malema says now. For one thing their positions on land, a core EFF concern, are diametrically opposed. This does not matter in local government, which does not decide on land policy. It would matter hugely in national government and to a degree in the provinces.

If there is no DA-EFF deal, the only way the ANC can lose its hold on government anywhere is if either party wins a majority or at least enough to allow them to govern with small parties. But in Gauteng, no poll puts the DA above 38% – its numbers elsewhere are much weaker. In North West province, the ANC’s weakest outside Gauteng and Western Cape, the EFF is the second biggest party and it won only 16% in 2016. No poll has the EFF vote improving by more than eight percentage points.

ANC factions

Nationally and outside the Western Cape, then, two results are possible: the ANC wins a majority or is by far the biggest party and the only one able to form a coalition.

The reality which predictions of a change in government ignore -– the absence of another party which could defeat the ANC – means that, even if the ANC does as badly as one poll says it will, it will still be the party of government just about everywhere.

But, while the election will not change the government, it may change the balance between the two factions which compete for power within the ANC. One supports President Cyril Ramaphosa; the other backed former president Jacob Zuma.

The Zuma faction is still strongly represented in ANC decision-making forums. The battle between the two factions continues and the difference between them is often greater than that between the ANC and parts of the opposition. It is impossible to make sense of anything the ANC does without knowing which faction was behind it.

Ramaphosa was elected in 2017 because key ANC figures, most notably current deputy president David Mabuza, believed the ANC could not win this election if it was led by the Zuma faction. Ramaphosa’s credibility with some ANC power brokers depends, therefore, on showing that he can stem the ANC’s decline at the polls.

If the ANC improves on its 2016 vote, Ramaphosa will have presided over the first increase in its vote for 15 years. This will greatly improve his chances of winning re-election as ANC president at its next conference in 2022 because it will signal to ANC politicians that he can deliver more seats.

Because many South Africans are excluded from the benefits of the market, seats in municipal councils and legislatures are often the only ticket into the middle-class. So, an ANC gain in this election is certain to strengthen Ramaphosa now and in 2022 by showing that his leadership offers more opportunities to ANC politicians.

Even if it matches the last result or comes close, ANC power brokers could decide that Ramaphosa saved them from the opposition benches.

If the ANC drops to near 50%, whether Ramaphosa would be at risk of losing in 2022 would depend on whether ANC delegates could be persuaded to blame Zuma and his supporters. That is hardly assured. What is clear is that, the worse the ANC does, the better the Zuma group’s chances are of removing Ramaphosa at the national conference in 2022.

The two factions have very different approaches to governing and so the battle between them affects the country’s future. It is this battle, not that between the parties, which will be shaped by the election result.


This article was updated to reflect the correct date for when the ANC could remove Ramaphosa, if they chose to do so.

U.S is pulling its troops from Africa. What are the costs?

In the vast border area between Niger and Mali, U.S.-trained special forces hunt ISIS-linked militants. The Nigerian commandos face the challenge of tracking an agile enemy along a porous border, and they say continued American support is critical. But the U.S. is aiming to reduce its footprint on the African continent.

“We could never manage without U.S. air support.” Lt. Ben Sina told VICE NEWS. “If one day they decided to let us do our operations, we could do them well. But if they continue to support us, it would be a plus for us.”

Sina and his men are tasked with patrolling an area the size of Maryland, collecting intelligence from villages and searching for fresh motorcycle tracks. Those tracks offer a clue to fighters’ movements: Motorcycles, frequently used by militants to carry out attacks, were banned in the area in late 2017 after a deadly ambush on a joint U.S.-Nigerian patrol in the village of Tongo Tongo that left four U.S. Green Berets dead and stoked outrage back home.

ISIS-linked groups in the region have stepped up their activity in the time since the Tongo Tongo ambush, claiming 19 attacks since March alone. Africa has taken on greater importance to ISIS since the collapse of its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, experts say.

But the Trump administration late last year announced a shift in its Africa policy. The Tongo Tongo has said forces in Africa will be reduced by 10 percent. That has raised questions about the future of a massive new drone base being built in Niger. Once viewed as a critical component in the ongoing war on terror on the African continent, it’s cost more than $100 million to construct and is two and a half years behind schedule.

This segment originally aired April 25, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.