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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Uproarious Speech by Obama at Democratic National Convention 2016

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President Barack Obama’s Democratic National Convention Speech (Wednesday, July 27, 2016)
Barack Obama lent all of his oratorical talents to the cause of electing Hillary Clinton as his successor on Wednesday night, imploring America to choose hope over the fear mongering of Donald Trump.
President Obama painted Mr Trump as dangerous and unworthy of the presidency, and said he was ready to “pass the baton” to Mrs Clinton.
“This year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me – to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us, to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation,” he said.
His speech was met with rapturous applause in the convention hall, and he was himself met on stage after its conclusion by a beaming Mrs Clinton.
Obama Clinton




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Here’s the full  transcript of Obama’s speech at Democratic National Convention, 2016
Twelve years ago tonight, I addressed this convention for the very first time.

You met my two little girls, Malia and Sasha – now two amazing young women who just fill me with pride.  You fell for my brilliant wife and partner Michelle, who’s made me a better father and a better man; who’s gone on to inspire our nation as First Lady; and who somehow hasn’t aged a day.

I know the same can’t be said for me.  My girls remind me all the time.  Wow, you’ve changed so much, daddy.

And it’s true – I was so young that first time in Boston.  Maybe a little nervous addressing such a big crowd.  But I was filled with faith; faith in America – the generous, bighearted, hopeful country that made my story – indeed, all of our stories – possible.

A lot’s happened over the years.  And while this nation has been tested by war and recession and all manner of challenge – I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your President, to tell you I am even more optimistic about the future of America.

How could I not be – after all we’ve achieved together?


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After the worst recession in 80 years, we’ve fought our way back.  We’ve seen deficits come down, 401(k)s recover, an auto industry set new records, unemployment reach eight-year lows, and our businesses create 15 million new jobs.
After a century of trying, we declared that health care in America is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody.  After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil, and doubled our production of clean energy.

We brought more of our troops home to their families, and delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.  Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids.

We put policies in place to help students with loans; protect consumers from fraud; and cut veteran homelessness almost in half.  And through countless acts of quiet courage, America learned that love has no limits, and marriage equality is now a reality across the land.

By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.

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And through every victory and every setback, I’ve insisted that change is never easy, and never quick; that we wouldn’t meet all of our challenges in one term, or one presidency, or even in one lifetime.

So tonight, I’m here to tell you that yes, we still have more work to do.  More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who hasn’t yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years.  We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer; our homeland more secure, and our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.  We’re not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed – that all of us are created equal and free in the eyes of God.

That work involves a big choice this November.  Fair to say, this is not your typical election.  It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right.  This is a more fundamental choice – about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.

Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward.


Ads by AdClickMedia But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative.  What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world.  There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.

And that is not the America I know.

The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity.  The America I know is decent and generous.  Sure, we have real anxieties – about paying the bills, protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent.  We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice.  There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had.

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The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity.  The America I know is decent and generous.  Sure, we have real anxieties – about paying the bills, protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent.  We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice.  There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had.
She’s still got the heart she showed as our First Lady, working with Congress to help push through a Children’s Health Insurance Program that to this day protects millions of kids.

She’s still seared with the memory of every American she met who lost loved ones on 9/11, which is why, as a Senator from New York, she fought so hard for funding to help first responders; why, as Secretary of State, she sat with me in the Situation Room and forcefully argued in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden.
Ads by AdClickMedia la-1469678137-snap-photoYou know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office.  Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis, or send young people to war.  But Hillary’s been in the room; she’s been part of those decisions.  She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working family, the senior citizen, the small business owner, the soldier, and the veteran.  Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect.  And no matter how daunting the odds; no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.

That’s the Hillary I know.  That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire.  And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America.

And, by the way, in case you were wondering about her judgment, look at her choice of running mate.  Tim Kaine is as good a man, as humble and committed a public servant, as anyone I know.  He will be a great Vice President, and he’ll make Hillary a better President.  Just like my dear friend and brother Joe Biden has made me a better President.

Now, Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she’s heard from you on the campaign trail. She’s got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company’s profits, to help put kids in preschool, and put students through college without taking on a ton of debt.  That’s what leaders do.

And then there’s Donald Trump.  He’s not really a plans guy.  Not really a facts guy, either.  He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.

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Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a disaster.  Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.  He suggests America is weak.  He must not hear the billions of men, women, and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom, dignity, and human rights.  He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, and tells the NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.  Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag.  We meet our commitments.  And that’s one reason why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.

America is already great.  America is already strong.  And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.

In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person.  And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election – the meaning of our democracy.

Ronald Reagan called America’s shining city on a hill.”  Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix.  It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues.  He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear.  He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.

That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose.  Because he’s selling the American people short.  We are not a fragile or frightful people.  Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order.  We don’t look to be ruled.  Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union.



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That’s who we are.  That’s our birthright – the capacity to shape our own destiny.  That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent.  It’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot, and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for better wages.

America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us.  It’s always been about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.

And that’s what Hillary Clinton understands.  She knows that this is a big, diverse country, and that most issues are rarely black and white.  That even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise.  That democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other.  She knows that for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other, see ourselves in each other, fight for our principles but also fight to find common ground, no matter how elusive that may seem.


Hillary knows we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t so different than what a brave cop’s family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work; that we can honor police and treat every community fairly.  She knows that acknowledging problems that have festered for decades isn’t making race relations worse – it’s creating the possibility for people of good will to join and make things better.

Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists; families that came here for the same reasons our forebears came – to work, and study, and make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we please.  She knows their dream is quintessentially American, and the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain.

It can be frustrating, this business of democracy.  Trust me, I know.  Hillary knows, too.  When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall.  Supporters can grow impatient, and worry that you’re not trying hard enough; that you’ve maybe sold out.

But I promise you, when we keep at it; when we change enough minds; when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen.  Just ask the twenty million more people who have health care today.  Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband he loves.  Democracy works, but we gotta want it – not just during an election year, but all the days in between.151391896-7568ed5079fd6e17840d6e83b718af382c431585-s700-c85So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been.  We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.

If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators.  And we’ve got to work with police and protesters until laws and practices are changed.

If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to engage not only young people on college campuses, but reach out to the coal miner who’s worried about taking care of his family, the single mom worried about gas prices.


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If you want to protect our kids and our cops from gun violence, we’ve got to get the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, who agree on background checks to be just as vocal and determined as the gun lobby that blocks change through every funeral we hold.  That’s how change will happen.
Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics.  She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t.  But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years.  She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do.  That’s what happens when we try.  That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described – not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”



Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena.  She’s been there for us – even if we haven’t always noticed.  And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue.  You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport.  America isn’t about “yes he will.”  It’s about “yes we can.”  And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.

You know, there’s been a lot of talk in this campaign about what America’s lost – people who tell us that our way of life is being undermined by pernicious changes and dark forces beyond our control.  They tell voters there’s a “real America” out there that must be restored.  This isn’t an idea that started with Donald Trump.  It’s been peddled by politicians for a long   time – probably from the start of our Republic.

And it’s got me thinking about the story I told you twelve years ago tonight, about my Kansas grandparents and the things they taught me when I was growing up.  They came from the heartland; their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago.  They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers.  Hardy, small town folks.  Some were Democrats, but a lot of them were Republicans.  My grandparents explained that they didn’t like show-offs.  They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies.  They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life.  Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work.  Kindness and courtesy.  Humility; responsibility; helping each other out.

That’s what they believed in.  True things.  Things that last.  The things we try to teach our kids.

And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren’t limited to Kansas.  They weren’t limited to small towns.  These values could travel to Hawaii; even the other side of the world, where my mother would end up working to help poor women get a better life.  They knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter; in fact, they were the same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow on the South Side of Chicago.  They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke; a baseball cap or a hijab.

America has changed over the years.  But these values my grandparents taught me – they haven’t gone anywhere.  They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, and every faith.  They live on in each of us.  What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what’s in here.  That’s what matters.  That’s why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own.  That’s why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here.  That’s why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service.  That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.

That’s America.  Those bonds of affection; that common creed.  We don’t fear the future; we shape it, embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.  That’s what Hillary Clinton understands – this fighter, this stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot – that’s the America she’s fighting for.

And that’s why I have confidence, as I leave this stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good hands.  My time in this office hasn’t fixed everything; as much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do.  But for all the tough lessons I’ve had to learn; for all the places I’ve fallen short; I’ve told Hillary, and I’ll tell you what’s picked me back up, every single time

It’s been you.  The American people.

It’s the letter I keep on my wall from a survivor in Ohio who twice almost lost everything to cancer, but urged me to keep fighting for health care reform, even when the battle seemed lost.  Do not quit.

It’s the painting I keep in my private office, a big-eyed, green owl, made by a seven year-old girl who was taken from us in Newtown, given to me by her parents so I wouldn’t forget – a reminder of all the parents who have turned their grief into action.

It’s the small business owner in Colorado who cut most of his own salary so he wouldn’t have to lay off any of his workers in the recession – because, he said, “that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of America.”

It’s the conservative in Texas who said he disagreed with me on everything, but appreciated that, like him, I try to be a good dad.

It’s the courage of the young soldier from Arizona who nearly died on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but who’s learned to speak and walk again – and earlier this year, stepped through the door of the Oval Office on his own power, to salute and shake my hand.

It’s every American who believed we could change this country for the better, so many of you who’d never been involved in politics, who picked up phones, and hit the streets, and used the internet in amazing new ways to make change happen.  You are the best organizers on the planet, and I’m so proud of all the change you’ve made possible.

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Time and again, you’ve picked me up.  I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too.  Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me.  I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.  Because you’re who I was talking about twelve years ago, when I talked about hope – it’s been you who’ve fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds are great; even when the road is long.  Hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; the audacity of hope!

Ads by AdClickMedia America, you have vindicated that hope these past eight years.  And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen.  This year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me – to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.


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Thank you for this incredible journey.  Let’s keep it going.  God bless the United States of America.___
 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Sub-Saharan Africa still on top of growing regions list

SPECIAL REPORT: Sub-Saharan Africa still on top of growing regions list
Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world; this is despite a relative slow down.
imrs
According to the Ernst & Young 2016 Africa attractiveness program, Staying the Course, Africa was one of only two regions in the world in which there was growth in FDI project levels over the past year.


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Ajen Sita, Africa Chief Executive Officer at EY said that over the past year, global markets have experienced unprecedented volatility.


“We’ve witnessed the collapse of commodity prices and a number of currencies across Africa, and with reference to the two largest markets, starting with South Africa, we saw GDP growth decline sharply to below one percent and the country averting a credit ratings downgrade. In Nigeria, the slowdown in that economy was impacted further by the decline in the oil price and currency devaluation pressure.”
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The report added that this was reflected in the foreign direct investment (FDI) levels in 2015, where FDI project numbers increased by seven percent.
“Although, the capital value of projects was down year-on-year – from US$88.5b in 2014 to US$71.3b in 2015 – this was still higher than the 2010–2014 average of US$68b. Similarly, jobs created were down year-on-year, but, again ahead of the average for 2010 to 2014,” the EY statement continued.
Sita said the reality was that economic growth across the region was likely to remain slower in coming years than it had been over the past 10 to 15 years, and the main reasons for a relative slowdown were not unique to Africa.

“In fact, Africa was one of the only two regions in the world in which there was growth in FDI project levels over the past year,” said Sita. Africa came in second behind emerging Asia.



The report also saw East Africa closing the FDI gap, with Kenya emerging as a big gainer.


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“In 2015, East Africa recorded its highest share of FDI across Africa, achieving 26.3% of total projects. Southern Africa remained the largest investment region on the continent, although projects were down 11.6% from 2014 levels,” said the report.

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“The West Africa region saw a rebound in FDI projects by 16.2%, and interestingly in 2015, the region became the leading recipient of capital investment on the continent, outpacing Southern Africa.”

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EY’s 2016 staying the course report says despite a relative slow down, Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. This is reflected in the foreign direct investment levels, where FDI project numbers increased by 7 per cent. Michael Lalor, Africa Business Centre Leader, EY joins CNBC Africa for more.

Sub-Saharan Africa still on top of growing regions list

SPECIAL REPORT: Sub-Saharan Africa still on top of growing regions list
Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world; this is despite a relative slow down.
imrs
According to the Ernst & Young 2016 Africa attractiveness program, Staying the Course, Africa was one of only two regions in the world in which there was growth in FDI project levels over the past year.


Ads by AdClickMedia 


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Ajen Sita, Africa Chief Executive Officer at EY said that over the past year, global markets have experienced unprecedented volatility.


“We’ve witnessed the collapse of commodity prices and a number of currencies across Africa, and with reference to the two largest markets, starting with South Africa, we saw GDP growth decline sharply to below one percent and the country averting a credit ratings downgrade. In Nigeria, the slowdown in that economy was impacted further by the decline in the oil price and currency devaluation pressure.”
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The report added that this was reflected in the foreign direct investment (FDI) levels in 2015, where FDI project numbers increased by seven percent.
“Although, the capital value of projects was down year-on-year – from US$88.5b in 2014 to US$71.3b in 2015 – this was still higher than the 2010–2014 average of US$68b. Similarly, jobs created were down year-on-year, but, again ahead of the average for 2010 to 2014,” the EY statement continued.
Sita said the reality was that economic growth across the region was likely to remain slower in coming years than it had been over the past 10 to 15 years, and the main reasons for a relative slowdown were not unique to Africa.

“In fact, Africa was one of the only two regions in the world in which there was growth in FDI project levels over the past year,” said Sita. Africa came in second behind emerging Asia.



The report also saw East Africa closing the FDI gap, with Kenya emerging as a big gainer.


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“In 2015, East Africa recorded its highest share of FDI across Africa, achieving 26.3% of total projects. Southern Africa remained the largest investment region on the continent, although projects were down 11.6% from 2014 levels,” said the report.

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“The West Africa region saw a rebound in FDI projects by 16.2%, and interestingly in 2015, the region became the leading recipient of capital investment on the continent, outpacing Southern Africa.”

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EY’s 2016 staying the course report says despite a relative slow down, Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. This is reflected in the foreign direct investment levels, where FDI project numbers increased by 7 per cent. Michael Lalor, Africa Business Centre Leader, EY joins CNBC Africa for more.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Reflections on Elusive Diaspora Policy for Nigeria, by Colins Nweke

Reflections on Elusive Diaspora Policy for Nigeria, by Colins Nweke

Nigerian Diaspora Day today gives room for somber reflections as I did about this time a year ago through an opinion piece. I stated then“Despite its commendable vision and sparse achievements, the humongous shortcomings of the Diaspora Day are threatening in 2015 to explode in the face of all stakeholders” I concluded the piece with the following “to get the Diaspora Day right, you must first get the Nigerian Diaspora Policy right” Since then, not very much has happened around the Diaspora Policy. However the American idiom “a new Sheriff in town” typically used during periods of power transition could be applied to events surrounding the 2016 Diaspora Day in Nigeria. This adage is deployed particularly when the way things are done are experiencing some changes, or when a new person takes control. In the case of the National Diaspora Day of Nigeria it is a combination of a new operating environment and new persons wrestling back hijacked control from mini cabals of a national policy instrument.

This new Sheriff in town is dogmatic about corruption and has a very low tolerance level for it or anything resembling it. I am not sure how he did it but I understand that people around him are self-conscious to the point that they feel that if he looks you in the eyes, he might just read your mind and know if you are thinking of indulging in corrupt practices. That fear alone is already creating some saints around the corridors of power. That is very good because the culture of impunity and financial recklessness in organizing the Diaspora Day until 2013, the year I led the global Nigerian Diaspora delegation to the event in Nigeria, is deafening. I worry for most of the ‘organizers’ of Diaspora Day between 2005 and 2013 because should the new Sheriff decide to order an audit of what had gone on, some may either go on exile or commit suicide before the arms of the law catch up with them. That is how bad I believe it was. I am neither an investigative journalist nor a criminal investigator, so I might not have the capacity to deliver the evidence I hear you thinking about. However I have being a principal actor in the Diaspora politics since inception. Even at that I continue to have unanswered questions. The most cardinal of the questions are: what is the budget for the Diaspora Day event on annual basis since 2005? What have they being spending on and why has the budget remained a secret till date? Who actually manages the budget? How come there has never being a cost-benefit analysis of the annual event? What is the actual reason for the mushrooming of new proxy ‘Diaspora’ organisations, even based in Nigeria?

In public financial administration these questions are very basic. They should normally fall under the freedom of information principles of any democracy. A few times I have had conversations with Nigerian legislators and administrators in the Civil Service around these basic but pertinent questions, I am laughed off as one of those intellectuals in the Diaspora that has lost touch with Nigeria because, according to them “this is Nigeria, we don’t work like that here” End of story! Signs are emerging that the end of that story appears to come with the end of an era. It was an era of financial wastefulness, of arrogance of power, of imprudence, of treachery and of national disappointments. By design or accident, just as the new Sheriff came into town, other officials who appear to understand their briefs, who care more for national development than their narrow self-interest took positions in different offices related to the Diaspora. Two calls to mind.

Permanent Secretary (Political)
Key among them and I speak now as an outsider having taken the backbench after serving out my term as Board Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe in 2013, is the Permanent Secretary (Political) at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Unlike those before the current Perm Sec, the gentleman understands that it was for good reasons that President Olusegun Obasanjo facilitated the establishment and recognition of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) as the official partner of Government on Diaspora matters. The gentleman understands that it is anti-government to work against the policy of the government that you are supposed to be serving.

House Committee on Diaspora Affairs & Senate Committee on Diaspora
The current Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters seems to understand that micro-management of the Diaspora is not cut out for a federal legislator. The focus should be on the big policy picture rather than the mundane palaver of how the Diaspora should be sidelined in an event over which they should have control. A House Committee Chair who realizes that it is not within her priority space to determine which Diaspora gets which prominent speaking slot at the Diaspora Day. She seems to realize that while it makes sense to relate with all Diaspora organisations, due recognition needs to be given to the body recognized by government as official partners on Diaspora matters. The House Committee Chairman would not act in ways that appears that she encourages the set-up of phony ‘Diaspora Groups’ to unfairly compete with the official Diaspora body, thereby neutralizing their influence and playing into apparent divisions or actually playing a role in encouraging discords amongst different Diaspora communities rather than unifying them.  

The Diaspora Body
A body that appears immune to change both in attitude and strategic approach is the Nigerian Diaspora themselves as embodied by the official body called NIDO. The undemocratic tendencies of some of its leaders are the starting point of its ills. If the way and manner in which you came into office is questionable, you have lost the first major goodwill and recovering credibility and integrity, both ingredients needed to get serious people to believe in you and work with you, may prove difficult if not impossible. The truth of the matter is that lack of credibility and a bit of leadership mediocrity continues to deter popular qualitative participation in the organisation. Next to that, the debate has got to get more serious if NIDO is to move from point A to point B. By way of example, I shall underline two debates that were trending in the run-up to the Diaspora Day but also make the point that on those two occasions, two individual Diaspora provided at different times, two voices of reason. So hope is not entirely lost on condition that they do not shout themselves hoax and give up or that they are singled out by those given to shouting loudest and blackmailed.

In a trending discussion, many had decried the poor planning and execution of the Diaspora Day 2016. Just to give you an idea, like many others, I had personally registered on 10 July for the event within an hour of announcement that the online registration form was active. This was for an ANNUAL event holding just two weeks away. I had also indicated, as requested, that I was keen to make a presentation on a USD63 Million infrastructure investment under a private public partnership arrangement with Delta State government involving a number of foreign investors and because Diaspora equity participation would be a desirable thing for country and the Diaspora themselves, it made all the sense in the world to make a presentation at the Diaspora Day and also arrange a site visit to Delta State with interested Diaspora. Registration was not acknowledged until 21 July, three days before the event. Even at that, there was neither an event programme nor a confirmation that the presentation is programmed to hold. I could therefore not firm up arrangements with the project engineers and representatives of Delta State Government who were positively disposed to hosting a breakaway delegation in Asaba. Meanwhile I was torn between flying to Abuja for the Diaspora Day or staying back in Belgium to receive a powerful trade delegation that included serious-minded agricultural commodity traders and other non-oil magnates. Of course given the lack of demonstrated seriousness by the Diaspora Day folks, my decision was easily made. I was staying back in Belgium!

Meanwhile one condemnation followed the other about how badly organized the Diaspora Day is and how much it would continue unabated as long as the Diaspora are not in charge of the organizing. As long as the Civil Servants drive the Diaspora Day, one of the contributors interjected, we will end up this way! Then came a pointed analysis from a Diaspora, Sam Afolayan. Sam’s analysis categorized the Diaspora in six groups.  He submitted that out of these six categories, two were the most dangerous categories as follows:

1. “The Owanbe Group: Those who see this event (i.e., the call for Diaspora support) as a jamboree and an opportunity to freeload on government's program while attending to personal "businesses" at the government's expense ...skipping in and out of the event locations to "let their people know that they are very important to the nation's development" ...while having their feeding & lodging expenses paid by the Nigerian tax-payers. A considerable numbers of folks in this group are wont to pontificate on the irredeemable state of affairs in Nigeria! Great showmanship!”

2. “everybody in-between: the fence-sitters and free-loaders; the emergency diasporas; the jobless diaspora opportunists who have been on the outside of the mainstream economy in their host countries and see the DD as way to present a false fa├žade of having been in the diaspora; the somewhat dubious Diaspora-based 'entrepreneurs' whose 'businesses' depend on government patronages and see the DD as an opportunity to feather their nests by showcasing their "services"; and the cynics who do not even believe in Nigeria or that the DD forum can lead to the configuring of any credible development architecture that can be used to re-engineer the polity or accomplish any useful purpose, etc., etc...”

Another instance of the sort of debate that tells you that the Diaspora needs to get their acts together but where in the end one single Diaspora provided a sane voice was in regards to the fight against corruption and how the Diaspora taking advantage of the Diaspora Day event, must use their combined forces to banish corruption from Nigeria. Note that the Diaspora Day is an ANNUAL event. Meanwhile in the wisdom of one of the leaders, a capital initiative like fighting corruption can be initiated, planned and executed about a week to the Diaspora. A curious mind will inquire where these find brains have been since the last Diaspora Day, why is the life-changing idea coming just a little over a week to the event; where does the suggested action fit within the operational objectives of the Diaspora Day 2016 that is if there is any? As you shake your head in awe about such disjointed approach, one of the Diaspora joins the conversation and proudly reminds the audience that at the Diaspora Day, right there on the ground, he had proposed a placard-carrying action to show the Diaspora disapproval of massive corruption but that when the appointed time came, he was left standing alone with a lone placard as nobody showed up. What a strategically planned and executed anti-corruption crusade from the Diaspora.  Sure we could do better was what Kenneth Gbandi was saying when, like Sam Afolayan, he came out with a level head to remind the audience that four months earlier the German Chapter  had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). The MOU reads in part, "The Facilitator (Outstanding Nigerians professionals, academicians and business people in Germany as represented by NIDO Germany)  is desirous of contributing its quota to the fight against corruption both at home and in the diaspora by partnering with the Commission. The Commission shall collaborate and partner with the Facilitator in the provision of broadcast materials and assist in the enlightenment and education of the Diaspora about the work of the commission”

The expectation that a clear Diaspora Policy will emerge, in isolation or under the wings of a Diaspora Commission, is becoming more and more an elusive dream. In the interim, as the Diaspora converges in Abuja, my hope is that the fear of the new Sheriff will persist so that the financial recklessness surrounding the Diaspora Day will seize. My other prayer is that the Permanent Secretary (Political) is not moved off his course in maintaining cordial relationship with any and all Diaspora groups while making it clear that NIDO was established in the first instance to put paid to the polarization in the Diaspora community. I understand that the reason you are late in planning and execution is because your Diaspora Day budget was not released on time. Typical, I should say. Keep pushing for a change in that regards but be conscious of the fact that your chances of sustainably sorting that problem out is if you build a formidable coalition to bring about the effective signing into law of the Diaspora Commission. Under the wings of the Commission, the Diaspora Day budget could hang. The leadership of the House Committee on Diaspora should stick with the big picture and continue to reject every temptation to get down to petty Diaspora politics and micro-management. On its part, the Diaspora can use more Sam Afolayans and Kenneth Gbandis.

Brussels, Belgium 25 July 2016

The author, Collins Nweke served Nigeria’s official Diaspora body first as Executive Secretary / Chief Executive starting from 2004 and later as General Secretary of the Board of Trustees. He finally served as Board Chairman until November 2013. He holds a Doctor of Governance Award (Honoris Causa). A 2014 candidate Member of European Parliament, he writes from Brussels, Belgium where he serves as second-term Municipal Legislator at Ostend City Council.  

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