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.

Premier League 2018-19 review: failures and surprises

From Manchester United to Shkodran Mustafi, some of those who may well wish to forget this past campaign

Welcome to the review of the 2018-19 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

Manchester United

A purple patch following José Mourinho’s sacking aside, it has been a truly disastrous season for United. There are any number of overriding images from this latest sorry damp squib – Alexis Sánchez, whose £490,000-a-week wages translate to an hourly rate of around £2,900, skulking around nonplussed, Fred floundering in countless midfield duels, Paul Pogba strutting round and simultaneously causing Roy Keane to self-combust, an off-colour David de Gea making yet another uncharacteristic error or the grimace on the face of Phil Jones. Take your pick, it has been a torturous time. The final descent of Mourinho’s reign was spectacularly sullen but, six months on, things are not much better. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has declared this as the end of the road for some players – Sánchez’s limp down the tunnel at Huddersfield was symptomatic of an entire campaign – and, in truth, the chance to start over cannot come soon enough.The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Signed for £17m last summer, the winger is Brighton’s club-record signing but has badly struggled to live up to that fee. A quick glance at his numbers says it all: this time last season, Jahanbakhsh was heading into the World Cup with Iran off the back of a glittering campaign in which he scored 21 goals for AZ Alkmaar. Not only have the goals dried up, they have been non-existent, with Jahanbakhsh still to register a single goal or assist for Chris Hughton’s side. He has completed 90 minutes just three times in what has been a difficult season, punctuated by niggling injuries and compounded by conceding a soft penalty at Arsenal earlier this month. The 25-year-old studied to become an auto mechanic before turning professional in the Eredivisie and, despitestalling in his maiden season in Sussex, Hughton has expressed confidence Jahanbakhsh will fare better second time around.

Jahanbakhsh is challenged by Spurs’ Danny Rose last month. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP


Subscribe for our exclusive weekend briefing for free.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Yerry Mina

For an entourage of Everton officials, deadline day last August was spent in Spain. A lot of effort went into frenetically arranging meetings, medicals and signing off paperwork as they got a £28m deal for Mina and a season-long loan for André Gomes over the line. Everton are yet to fully reap the rewards of that labour. Mina formed a trio of headline arrivals from Catalonia, with Lucas Digne having already signed from Barcelona. Gomes and Digne have enjoyed excellent campaigns but the same cannot be said for the towering Colombia defender. Mina did not start a game for Marco Silva’s side until November because of a foot problem and has not featured since March following a hamstring injury picked up on international duty. Mina has not become useless overnight but his first season at Everton has been desperately disappointing.

Yerry Mina reacts after a goal for Manchester City during their 3-1 home win over Everton in December. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Shkodran Mustafi

That there is, a rather cruel, 10-minute montage of Mustafi’s mistakes doing the rounds speaks volumes. The Arsenal defender has too often proved a defensive liability, typified by his hopeless display in defeat against Crystal Palace, when he gifted away not one but three goals. On the face of it, signing Mustafi for £35m three seasons ago appeared a masterstroke, a player Arsène Wenger had been crying out for. Arsenal had snapped up a World Cup winner, someone with – stereotypically at least – all of the desired attributes synonymous with a German centre-back. He seemed a cure to their decade-long defensive woes. What Arsenal really acquired was a flimsy imitation of a top-quality defender. For Mustafi, along with Denis Suárez, who mustered up just four substitute appearances after being borrowed from Barcelona in January, it has been a poor campaign.

Shkodran Mustafi on his way to a hat-trick of Palace gifts. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Jean-Michael Seri

After being touted for a move to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, when the £25m midfielder rocked up at Aldershot Town last summer for a Fulham pre-season friendly, his arrival was greeted with considerable fanfare. Seri’s signing was supposed to be a major coup but, barring the odd glimpse of class, Fulham must feel short-changed. Before a ball had been kicked, Fulham fans were giddy at the prospect of Seri, and the raft of new faces, catapulting them into the upper echelons of the Premier League. Therein lies the problem. Seri has little appetite to play in England’s second tier, and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, another who endured a miserable debut season, led to the break-up of a trusty three-man midfield that had Fulham purring in the Championship: Tom Cairney, Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johansen. They could do worse than leaning on that trio again next season. For Seri, signed from Nice, a return to Ligue 1 surely beckons.

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

Game of Thrones recap: season 8, episode 5 – this is too frustrating

The most violent – and most frustrating – episode ever. Why are the creators destroying the world they once carefully depicted?

A triumph of spectacle over depth ... Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO/game of thrones
A triumph of spectacle over depth … Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO/game of thrones

Spoiler alert: this recap is published after Game of Thrones airs on HBO in the US on Sunday night and on Foxtel in Australia on Monday. Do not read unless you have watched episode five of season eight, which airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 2am and 9pm, and is repeated in Australia on Showcase on Monday at 7.30pm AEST.

‘They say every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath’

I don’t think I have ever been more frustrated by an episode of Game of Thrones.

There was so much that could have worked here, so many emotional pay-offs and beautifully shot scenes – and it was all let down by how little work was put into earning those moments.

In part I’d argue that this is not entirely the fault of this series. Indeed, I have enjoyed many of the individual episodes while hoping that they would somehow coalesce into a coherent whole. Instead, the seeds of destruction were sown in series seven, a meandering mess in which too much time was spent circling various plot points. This in turn created a pacing issue that has ensured that now, with the end in sight, everything feels breathless and rushed.

That was certainly the case with The Bells, which was largely (though not entirely) a triumph of spectacle over depth. Dany embraced her dark side, took note of the Targaryen motto ‘Fire and blood’ and razed King’s Landing to the ground even as the bells for surrender rang out. As a series of images it was undeniably powerful, without ever ringing entirely true.

There are many things about Dany’s transformation into the Queen of Ashes that I can buy: that she’s lost and out of her depth in Westeros, that she’s grieving and desperate and alone without the counsel of those she trusted most, that the razing of one city could be seen as a small price to pay to end the tyranny she so abhors.

The problem is that the writing has given us none of this. Instead, a series of men (Tyrion, Varys, even Jon) have pontificated about whether or not Dany is as mad as her father while the Dragon Queen herself remains silent. It’s as though coming to Westeros has stripped Dany of both agency and character development, just at the time she (and we) needed it most.

Would it have killed the writers, David Benioff and DB Weiss, to give us one scene where the girl raised on the stories of her noble older brother and mad father, who saw in the shape of her younger brother Viserys how ambition could curdle and who has faced down slave owners and raised dragons from a funeral pyre, actually considered what her raw grief and desire for destruction might give birth to?Advertisement

I don’t object to the idea that Dany – who has always had something of a messianic streak – could be more tyrant than saviour. But if that is your endpoint you have to sell it more than one small scene in which the future destroyer of a city offers her loyal general the one thing the love of his life owned, only for him to throw it in the fire.

‘Look at me … do you want to be like me?’

From mother of dragons to mad queen in one scene … Dany in Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO/Helen Sloan

Game of Thrones has always prided itself on the brutal reality of its war scenes and, whatever the issues with this episode – and increasingly it felt as though Benioff and Weiss were doing little more than gleefully destroying the world they once carefully depicted – there’s no denying it worked as a visceral display.

From the early incineration of Varys to the final haunting shot of a dust-covered and bleeding Arya riding out through the charred remnants of what was once the finest city in Westeros, this episode was steeped in blood, guts and gore and determined to remind us that all the ice zombies in the world are nothing next to man’s inhumanity to man.

Yet while that was a powerful point (I particularly loved that the Golden Company turned out to be an irrelevance) there were still problems. A long time ago, Jorah told Dany that the Unsullied were incapable of behaving like the brutal men she so despised. Yet Grey Worm broke the fragile truce between the city watch, murdering a man who had surrendered, and by the end Jon’s Northern army, the Dothraki and the Unsullied were all complicit in the murder and rape that accompanied the sacking of King’s Landing.

Again, it is possible that this is part of a wider point the show’s creators are trying to make – how there is no such thing as a noble cause, how war brutalises all and how a ‘liberating’ army might commit the very atrocities it claims to hate. The trouble is it doesn’t feel as though the recent writing has earned so devastating a moment.

‘Nothing else matters, only us’

Reunited with her love as the Red Keep fell around them … Cersei and Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO

Just when I was about to despair entirely, we were treated to a scene of true power as Jaime and Cersei reconciled even as the Red Keep fell around them.

Again, the writing that got them to this point hasn’t been without issue – the decision to have Jaime and Brienne sleep together last week smacks of the worst kind of fan service, in addition to suggesting that Benioff and Weiss have no concept of the notion that men and women might be friends – but the final scene between the Lannister twins was a small masterpiece, tightly scripted and beautifully acted.

And while I might not agree with the idea that Jaime would throw his hard-earned redemption away for a woman who ordered his death, his statement that “nothing else matters, only us” rang bitterly true as did Cersei’s desperate plea to her brother to save both her and their unborn child.

It also reiterated one of the major themes of this final series: the importance of families, those you make yourself and those you are born with.

Thus Jon’s greatest strength has come from the Stark pack, even if he is seemingly doomed to become the last Targaryen, while Tyrion’s greatest weakness is the love he still bears for his – a love that means he can never walk away no matter how much he should.

Meanwhile, Arya was saved by the father/daughter bond she forged with The Hound, a bond that meant not only could he offer her a way out but that, crucially, she would listen, while Dany was undone by the destruction of her own makeshift family, the deaths of Jorah and Missandei leaving her finally, fatally unmoored.

Additional notes

Not even his gleefully delivered final line could redeem him … Euron Greyjoy. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO

I never tire of watching Jon Snow’s patented ‘War is hell and why am I caught up in it?’ face of great astonishment.

• Those who have yearned for Cleganebowl got their wish. I’m not one of them, but I did like Sandor’s ‘just die’ line as well as his sardonic aside about “That’s you, that’s what you’ve always been.”

• Interesting choice to double down on the ‘incest equals true love’ subplot. Not only were Jaime and Cersei positioned as the show’s great romance but it was also suggested that if only Jon had overcome his Northern queasiness and ignored the whole ‘she’s my aunt’ thing then Dany wouldn’t have had to immolate an entire city. Women eh? One minute you’re denying them a kiss, the next they’re instigating the end of the world.

• Nice to have confirmation that some of the Dothraki survived their Charge of the Light Brigade moment.

• In case anyone doubted it, The Bells gave us the proof: even one dragon is too much of an advantage if you’re prepared to wield it without remorse.

• I hope the military tacticians were pleased that the whole ‘Scorpions can’t turn around’ issue was addressed. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that makes last week’s ambush anything more than another piece of plot manipulation.

• I would quite like it if next week’s episode simply consisted of the Iron Bank of Braavos turning up to collect their debt. There must be a killing to be made in fire insurance claims.

• If anything sums up the later seasons of Game of Thrones it’s the failure to develop Euron properly. Not even his gleefully delivered final line could redeem him.

• I loved Arya’s failure to save the little girl – it was a small moment but a clever one.

• Unless they pull something very special out of the bag next week, the failure to show the scene between Arya, Sansa, Jon and Bran when they discussed Jon’s true parentage feels a huge misstep.

• We said goodbye to many old friends this week, from Qyburn and Sandor to (almost certainly) Jaime and Cersei. However it’s Varys the Spider I’ll miss most of all. Sadly underused in these last seasons, Conleth Hill’s delivery meant that even his briefest scenes were a delight.

Violence count

Those who have yearned for it got their wish … Cleganebowl. Photograph: Courtesy of HBO

Arguably the most violent episode of Game of Thrones yet saw the execution of Varys, the burning of an entire city to the ground including the brutal deaths of several thousand innocent citizens, the destruction of the Iron Fleet, the Golden Company and what remained of Cersei’s army, Qyburn’s casual dispatch by the Mountain who subsequently plunged to his doom with Sandor, the gory death of Euron and the probable ends of Jaime and Cersei, reunited once more at the end of the world.

Random Brit of the week

You might think that the penultimate episode of a long-running series wouldn’t be the time to introduce new characters but hello to Laura Elphinstone aka Line of Duty’s corner-cutting DI Brandyce, who popped up to give a human face to the devastation around.

So what do you think? Did you buy Dany’s transformation from breaker of chains to mad queen? How many times can Jon refuse the Iron Throne before they crown him anyway? And with one episode left, how do you think it will end? As always, all speculation and no spoilers welcome below …

Nigerian students and transactional sex on campus: what we uncovered

By: Oludayo Tade

Transactional sex among female undergraduates in Nigeria is a social reality. The practice has been reported on regularly in the mainstream media and explored in various research papers.

This cross generational relationship is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and across the world where sponsors are commonly known as “sugar daddies”.

In our study on transactional sex in Nigerian universities, my colleague and I looked at the symbiotic relationship between some female Nigerian undergraduate students and aristos – wealthy, married or unmarried men. The students have transactional sex with the aristos in exchange for financial, social or educational support.

Because a great deal of these relationships happen undercover, there are no solid figures on the number of women involved in them. But there are many reasons that these relationships happen. It’s a practice that’s driven by economic hardship, a desire to network socially, and peer influence.

To understand more about these relationships we conducted 30 interviews with female undergraduates – commonly known as “runs-girls”.

We found that the students engage in transactional sex for pleasure and money. Typically, wealthy students would be with an aristo for pleasure, while those who needed financial support did it for the money. Most of the women we spoke to viewed it as a critical survival life investment strategy and rejected the “prostitution” label.

Although these relationships could offer the students economic, emotional, and political support, their effects can also be negative. The students expose themselves to sexually transmitted infections, physical violence and academic setbacks, because the relationships can distract from their studies.

Those with sexually transmitted infections risk of spreading these to their boyfriends, while also suffering economic losses seeking treatment.

Finding clients

Aristos are usually wealthy postgraduate students, lecturers, politicians, business people and military personnel. They are people with wealth and authority.

The students looked for these clients on and off campus, using connections and referrals. They then familiarised themselves with the potential client’s routine, aiming to eventually manufacture an encounter.

There’s usually a generational gap between the “runs-girls” and the aristos. The students often refer to their clients as “uncle”, “daddy” and, more recently, “aristo”. All of these bring connotations of the person’s expected role: to take care of the student.

If the students don’t have much financial support from their families, these relationships provide them with that security. Some started as a one-off “date”, for which they got a sum of money. But longer-term relationships also developed in some instances.

In return for sex, the women were given luxury possessions, like cars and mobile phones; investments for businesses they might start; or work placements when they finish their studies.

As one female student said:

The type of connection I have with politicians, lecturers, and military men cannot be purchased with money. At times, when I have problem, all I do is to make a call, depending on the nature of challenges…

In Nigeria, about 23% of young people are unemployed. These connections, with people of influence, may be a ticket to employment. As one “runs-girl” revealed:

One of my clients who happened to be a commissioner connected my senior sister to get a job at immigration even without any much stress…

Transactional sex isn’t limited to financially strapped students. We spoke to rich female students who engaged in it for sexual fulfilment. One 24 year old student said:

I am from a rich home, my father is even a Major (in the army), and my mother a nurse, but I’m involved in campus runs because of sexual satisfaction, although nothing goes for nothing, because sex is for enjoyment. I have a guy that I help financially, and on the long run he pays me back with sex.

Challenges

In this research we identified a few challenges.

Some “runs-girls” accepted offers of unprotected sex for better pay. This put them at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections and, consequently, the cost of treatment. As one student said:

I am always scared of having naked (unprotected) sex. Most times I use (a) condom because one can never know a man that has HIV/AIDS. Although sometimes some men always want naked sex and in that case, they will have to pay triple than what is earlier bargained. Part of the money realised as a runs-girl are used in revitalising the body, in which I go to the hospital once in a month to examine myself.

Other risks are that the women could be physically harmed. This is particularly true if the clients choose not to pay an agreed amount.

Their education could also suffer as they may choose to engage in “runs” rather than go to class.

Action needed

Getting the government or even universities to take action will prove difficult because our evidence suggests that policy makers, politicians and the business class are involved, as aristos.

Nevertheless, given the risks associated, something ought to be done.

One possible solution might be to establish part-time jobs for vulnerable students, and to institute courses about running businesses so that young women can earn money independently.

In addition, institutions should put together and roll out communications campaigns that teach young people about the implications of transactional sex.

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.

News and analysis from Africa

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: