Africa CDC to launch Eastern Regional Co-ordination center

The African Union (AU) through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is set to launch the Eastern regional co-ordination center in Kenya come October 1.

The East African RCC will be launched under the theme of “Ensuring effective preparedness and response to current public health threats in the context of COVID-19 and beyond.” The RCC serves as a hub for Africa CDC surveillance, preparedness, and emergency response activities, and coordinates regional public health initiatives by Member States in consultation with the Africa CDC headquarters.

Speaking at the weekly briefing on September 23, the Director of the Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong, confirmed that the institution will be launching its Eastern regional collaborative center in Kenya very soon.

“We will be launching our regional collaborating center in Kenya. There are five regional collaborating centers, i.e. Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Gabon. These centers have been operating, but some of them have not been officially launched. This occasion will be for launching the center in the presence of several ministers from the republic of Kenya and we invite you (the media) to be part of that ceremony in Kenya.”


By P.M. Kamara

The problem about Africa; Salone as a case study; is that we like to imitate others; especially the West. We are told to do this or that; and end up doing nothing. We are led by the nose, cap-in-hand; always begging for more. The most pathetic is that; these leaders: bleed their people white; kill and suppress for power to rule in perpetuity; all in the name of tyranny and despotism; but the West and the rest laugh and glee at them; as big jokers. Museveni is l’etat c’est moi; the sun king of Uganda; who takes relish to terrorize the opposition; kill peaceful protesters; like wanton flies; who merely seek or desire; to speak out for freedom and justice and good governance; or seek better governance tools; or alternatives. So many of them in Africa; from Eritrea to Rwanda to Egypt; to Burundi, Tanzania; down to Salone. Not one single African leader; apart maybe the glimpses from Nkrumah, Sankara to Mandela; or Paul Kagame; that have shown a certain latitude; towards either good governance or national development; but above all; are independent-minded.

African leaders cannot think for themselves; or out of the box as they say; but are led like lost sheep to the slaughter; to whimper and squeal; to the tantrums, whims and caprices; of the big powers; allowed to exploit at will; mortgage the state to all sorts of foreign wheeler-dealers; while they rape; and loot state coffers; impoverish their people; brutalize and kill them: in the bargain. The more they wipe out their debts; the more they plunge deeper into debt. They take killer loans from China; the IMF, World Bank; to further enslave and impoverish their people.

A debtor is a perpetual beggar; and a beggar is a slave to be told: to do this or that; and must totter to the dictates of the giver. These leaders cannot claim to had gained independence; bcos they are not independent-minded. In the UN; African leaders are least considered; and the big powers never agree. When China and Russia is on one side; the US and the West take the other side. So China can do whatever it wants in Hong Kong, Tibet or to the Uhguir people; allegedly in concentration camps; while the rest of mankind sit and watch; and lip-service merely paid; by the so-called icons of world democracy; while people suffer grotesque and unbearable persecutions.

The next step for China; is the imminent invasion of Taiwan; and America and EU could or might do little; or nothing about it; just as China intensify claims to disputed territories with her neighbours: The Philipines, Japan, Singapore etc. China can tell the world not to recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state; and the West and the rest; especially African leaders would kow-tow; in order to avoid punitive economic sanctions; or risk forfeit Chinese loans.

Kroo Bay is a slum in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown. Roughly 7,000 people live on the densely populated 50-acre area with no access to electricity, running water or sewage system. Harsh living conditions like these often lead to child neglect, violent abuse or sexual exploitation. [Olivia Acland/Al Jazeera]

I endorse the stance of Australia; not to be bullied into submission; for simply saying; that Chinese labs must be re-visited; so as to trace the source; or origins of the corona virus; despite punitive economic sanctions; levied against the Aussies by China. Lately, the WHO; raised concerns over China’s refusal; to open certain labs to proper scrutiny. In short, while the UN would never agree on what democracy is or should be; they cannot counter impactfully; ideologies of suppressive regimes; like Myanmar, Russia, China, Burundi, Eritrea etc; while human suffering mounts and people of all colours; flee their ruined countries at great personal risk; due to factors like: climate change, poverty, hunger, starvation; drought, mis-governance; corruption, conflicts, human trafficking; to the human factor of leaders; due to incompetence, greed and  the avarice of suppressive, morally bankrupt; and callous African dictators; under the guise of fake democrats.

Why is it that African leaders; are tied to the apron string of ideological powers; who actually don’t give a damn; if Africa burns; whether the East or West; for all share the same mentality; to keep the black man in perpetual mental slavery; just like during the slave trade, colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism; and the like. Imagine a time; when African babies; are fed to hounds and hunting dogs in Europe and America; sold and packed like sardines in ships; the indescribable agony and pain; across the Atlantic; and tortuous desert; by Arabs for a fortune. Or put in cages in French zoos; for white kids and folks; to catch glimpse of the human ape. Sold naked like animals; in open American pens; or being mated for stronger breeds for farm labour; lynched, burnt; killed at-will; like wanton flies. Yet, African leaders would never learn; from our dark and brutal past; and inhumane treatment meted to our ancestors. Instead; they take relish to be modern slave drivers; to enslave their populace; into mental slavery and total deprecation; while they store; millions of ill-gotten dollars in western banks.  Like the Abachas; as so many other Nigerian state looters; same as in other African countries. Nigeria with all the oil wealth; still can’t afford constant and steady light or refinery; while the country is now torn asunder; while the people perish; in bitter lamentations. So what good lessons can South Africa; or Nigeria teach the rest of the continent; if not to paint our leaders in gloomy colours; as traitors to the African continent; and it’s people. For what does it profit a man; if you gain the whole world; but lose your soul? And to pauperise your people; when you can’t take; a single dime to the grave!

See the recent events in South Africa; the looting that can be clearly identified; mainly by angry, desperate; and disgruntled black youths; bcos after Mandela; Mbeki, Zuma’s million-dollar mansion ( who like Mbeki did not treat Hiv-Aids seriously); to millionnaire Ramaophosa; seem to care less to improve the wretched lives of their people; but rather their pockets. The same as in America; with blacks even when fighting for a just cause; soon degenerates to wanton looting. Africa; and the conduct of our African leaders; is a big shame and disgrace; that leaves much to be desired.

African leaders  like most world leaders; ruled not to make a better life for their people; but to suppress, loot and mis-govern them in perpetuity. The fact is that; leaders don’t rule in the fear of God; or to govern their people in truth. But what is truth; if half of America’s populace; still cling firmly to the lie; that Trump won the American elections; to the extent; the State Capitol was ransacked; and the lives of senators and other house members put in the balance. To this very moment; most Republicans still believe; that the elections were rigged to favour the Democrats-even in their own very strongholds; to the extent that Republican-held states; are now enacting Jim Crow laws; to suppress mainly black and minority votes. What type of democracy then; can we learn from a country that prides itself; as the beacon of world democracy? What too can we learn from China and Russia; where freedom, liberty and equality; are anathema to such monolithic systems? African leaders are thus caught; between the Devil and the deep blue sea; simply because of lack of pride, miseducation; unbridled power, greed and avarice; and display; shameless exhibitionism.

Children wait for food distribution at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Bunia, Ituri province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic – RC1AF66091D0

African leaders don’t put God first in leadership. It is like doomsday; everybody for himself and God for us all. To Salone now; a land once said to be flowing with milk and honey; the Athens of West Africa; that became an ill-run Sparta. The misfortunes of Mama Salone can be overturned; if endowed with a God-fearing leader sent by God. As both former British High Commissioner, Derek Alan Patridge and a Ghanaian ambassador noted; that only God can save Salone; which I fully endorsed; just like NRM revolutionaries; for God and Country. However, Salone is ruled by the dictates of Satanism; as politicians dabble in all sorts of occultic rituals; which APC dubbed; agba satani, bone to bone, pass ar die politics; a practice also equally toted; by the SLPP.

Both parties are thus labelled; Alhassan and Alusine; the two destructive siamese twins; responsible for the dog eat dog, usai den tie cow, Bailor Barrie evil ideology. But Salone does not need an ideology; from the East or West. All Salone needs; especially the APC at this crucial time; is a God-fearing leader; who is both patriotic; and visionary.

A God-fearing leader puts God first in all that he does; bcos God is not an ideologue; torn between West and East ideologies; between communism; and capitalism; or be cribb’d and cabbin’d within the narrow, suffocating corridors of; this you can, that you can’t; this you should; that you shouldn’t. The ideology of God is the Truth; to have a good heart; and to love all, hate none; for all nations and people; created in the likeness and image of God. So should I hate China; if the West or America say so; or verse versa? Ideology should not overcome the fear of God; righteousness; and love for humanity; justice and freedom. China, America or Russia; do not actually qualify as ideal candidates of truth or that love and humanity; the world so needs; that love and equality; that comes from God; which is spiritual. Infact, some countries don’t believe; in the existence of God. They suppress and oppress the truth; and nothing so glaring as in the last American elections; or China’s non-tolerance to free speech and demonstrations; or Russia’s attack on the opposition and it’s leader Navalny; to the extent of poisoning so-called dissidents; or enemies of Russia; living in exile in other foreign countries.

Joe Biden seems to me a nice and decent chap; a true Catholic; who lives and respects the truth; a leader by example; a unifier; consensus-builder; humane, humble; a man of impeccable character; and integrity. Donald Trump is totally the opposite; a diabolical and inverterate liar; dishonest, blackmailer; a misogynist; satanic, criminal; a racist: both in nature and action. Republicans normally reverse; or overturn key Democratic reforms; same also for Democrats. America is a country where one can die at anytime; without notice, reason or warning; a place where people are killed at random; with absolutely no gun control; and among the dangerous countries in the world; and many find it unsafe; and are terrified to live in America. Such a system is too unpredictable; for African leaders to follow headlong; even though it is still a better system as compared to China and Russia.

That is why what Salone needs at this crucial time in it’s chequered history; is a leader that respects the truth; God-fearing; unifier, incorruptible, of strong convictions; sacrifice self for others ie selfless; untainted; of proven ability; and above all: patriotic. Only such a leader can defeat Paopanista; to clinch 2023 for the APC.

Ghana faces hurdles to achieve targets set for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Nana Kofi Quakyi, New York University

Ghana, like many of its counterparts on the continent, is contending with the fallout from the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Of particular concern is the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK. It is estimated to be up to 70% more infectious and 65% more lethal than the ancestral strain.

Scientists at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens have confirmed that B.1.1.7 is now the dominant variant in Ghana based on nationwide genomic surveillance. And that it is responsible for 88% of cases in the capital city.

The ongoing surge in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths has refocused public attention on a situation that the Ghana Medical Association describes as “dire”. Intensive care units are operating at the limits of their staff and space constraints. And more young people appear to be developing severe forms of the illness.

This means that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana cannot come quickly enough. But what is the country’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy? And how well advanced are plans to execute it?

Potential pitfalls

At least 60% of Ghana’s 31 million residents will need to be vaccinated for the population to attain herd immunity. The goal of the president, Nana Akufo Addo, is that every Ghanaian will be vaccinated. But a timeline for this remains elusive as no plan has been made public.

The president has promised to procure and administer 17.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first half of 2021 as part of an initial push. But there is uncertainty even around this target.

Firstly, how the country will secure this number of doses is not yet clear.

Secondly, there are questions around how the doses will be stored and distributed, as well as the capacity of the country’s existing cold chain infrastructure.

And there will be a final major hurdle to clear – convincing many sceptical Ghanaians that the vaccines on offer are safe and effective.

Constraining factors

A number of external factors are hampering Ghana’s efforts to secure the doses it needs to reach its mid-year target.

Unlike developed nations, countries like Ghana have limited bargaining power to negotiate directly with manufacturers. As a result, it is principally relying on two multilateral initiatives to procure COVID-19 vaccines – the COVAX facility and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. Combined, they have secured 1.27 billion vaccine doses for African nations.

COVAX is a global initiative co-led by the World Health Organisation, Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. It aims to develop, manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to all nations on a fair and equitable basis. It operates as a funding mechanism that uses the collective purchasing power of participating nations to obtain competitive prices.

Nevertheless, participating low- and middle-income countries will only receive enough vaccines to cover up to 20% of their populations.

Ghana expects to take delivery of up to 968,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of March 2021 as part of an initial batch from COVAX. These first doses have been earmarked for the nation’s healthcare workforce of about 108,000.

COVAX aims to deliver the remainder of this initial tranche of 2.4 million doses by June 2021. This should be enough to protect about 1.2 million Ghanaians with the two-jab Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. But reaching the president’s target will require about four times that amount.

This means that Ghana will have to lean heavily on vaccine supplies from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team – an initiative being driven by the African Union. It aims to bridge the gap between the 20% population coverage promised by COVAX to participating African countries and the 60% coverage they need to attain herd immunity.

The African Export-Import Bank and the World Bank are supporting the strategy with about $7 billion in cash advancements to vaccine manufacturers on behalf of AU member states. The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has so far secured 270 million doses of the Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Deliveries are scheduled to begin later this month.

In early February the sirector of the Africa Centers for Disease Control announced that 16 African nations had applied to the task team for vaccine supplies totalling 114 million doses. While the final allocations are yet to be published, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria are set to receive 42.7 million.

It is not yet known if Ghana is one of the remaining 13, nor how many doses it intends to order from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

Ghana’s Presidential Advisor on Health, Anthony Nsiah-Asare, recently hinted that the country was also procuring vaccines through bilateral deals with some of its development partners. But these supplies are likely to be a negligible fraction of the 15.2 million additional doses required to meet the June target.

This means that Ghana’s supplies from the African Union initiative is likely to determine the nation’s ability to reach its mid-year goal of 17.6 million doses.

The groundwork

Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccination drive will face other challenges that ought to be addressed urgently.

One is a storage and distribution plan that prioritises speed and minimises waste. Public health authorities have assured Ghanaians that a comprehensive plan exists – it has not yet been made public – to make use of the country’s existing cold chain infrastructure for vaccine distribution.

This infrastructure supports Ghana’s enviable record in immunisation coverage that has helped reduce infant mortality and the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. In 2019, immunisation coverage for essential vaccines was in excess of 90%. Ghana has not recorded a single death from measles since 2003. In addition, it was certified as having eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2011.

But there are gaps. Ghana’s current cold storage facilities lack the capacity to house vaccines like those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna because of the arctic temperatures required to store them. Both use a technology known as mRNA.

This limits the COVID-19 vaccine options available to Ghana. It also matters because these vaccines can be adapted to target new SARS-CoV-2 variants relatively quickly compared with other vaccine technologies. Having access to them could therefore determine how fast nations are able to respond to the emergence of new variants.

Ghana faces a potentially bigger stumbling block: public scepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.

Anxieties and uncertainties about their safety underlies considerable hesitancy in Ghana towards the COVID-19 vaccines. The proliferation of fake news and misinformation on social media and in certain quarters of the popular press are fanning those embers.

To meet this challenge public health authorities will have to be laser-focused on identifying and addressing both legitimate apprehensions and conspiracy theories. They will also have to be proactive in monitoring digital platforms because of the dynamic and viral nature of vaccine misinformation.

It will also be important to measure progress towards public acceptance of the vaccines. One route would be to conduct a series of public surveys to assess the evolving landscape of knowledge and attitudes. This would enable the government to identify specific misinformation that allows for more focused communication about vaccine safety and efficacy.

Much of that will also depend on media coverage. It is therefore crucial to engage the media on its role in combating misinformation

Nana Kofi Quakyi, Research Fellow, New York University

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

What’s in the way of quality antenatal care for women in West and Central Africa

By Comfort Z. Olorunsaiye: Assistant Professor of Public Health, Arcadia University

Globally, nearly 300,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes each year. Most of these deaths are in the low-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The leading causes of maternal mortality include severe bleeding, hypertensive disorders, infection, unsafe abortion and embolism. There are also indirect causes such as HIV, malaria and anaemia. About three in four maternal deaths could be prevented if women had adequate access to quality care before, during and after pregnancy.

Quality antenatal care can save lives by identifying and addressing health problems that can cause pregnancy complications and poor birth outcomes. But the women most at risk tend to be the ones who do not access life-saving health services. Barriers to quality antenatal care include lack of information, cultural practices, poverty and distance to health services. Others are inadequate and poor health services.

There is already global evidence of social and economic differences in access to maternal health care and the quality of that care. We sought to understand the quality of antenatal care in sub-Saharan Africa. Countries in the West and Central African sub-region have notably poor reproductive health indicators, as well as high levels of poverty and civil unrest or political fragility.

Yet, the region has been largely underrepresented in empirical research. Research findings can help inform policy and programme interventions for improving the reach and quality of antenatal care. They can also contribute to reducing the unacceptable rates of maternal and newborn deaths in the region.

At the time of our study, household survey data from the same source were available for seven countries in the United Nations region of West and Central Africa: Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. We analysed the data on 32,718 women whose pregnancies resulted in a live birth, considering the levels of poverty in the households and communities where these women resided.

What we found

Our findings indicated that one in four pregnant women did not receive antenatal care. The majority of these women were in Chad (37%) and Nigeria (38%). Among women who had antenatal care, the majority received low-quality care. This means receiving fewer than five of six possible antenatal care services. The proportion of women who received high quality antenatal care ranged from 3% in Chad to 33% in Nigeria.

Among women who received antenatal care, the most common services provided across all seven countries were blood pressure monitoring and tetanus vaccination. The figures ranged from 79% in Chad to 99% in Ghana for blood pressure monitoring. For tetanus vaccination they ranged from 87% in the DRC to 97% in Sierra Leone.

Less frequently provided services included HIV testing, malaria treatment and blood tests. We also found that higher levels of household wealth increased the likelihood of women reporting high-quality antenatal care. Poorer households are in the top 20% of the household wealth index. This measures the living standard of a family, based on the possession of certain household goods and infrastructure. The relationship of household wealth with quality of antenatal care was more noticeable in the DRC, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Similarly, women who had secondary or higher levels of education were between two and three times as likely to receive high-quality antenatal care as women without formal education. With the exception of Chad, women who had more antenatal care visits reported high quality care.

Our results indicate that the quality of antenatal care varied according to the level of poverty in communities. Women who lived in poor communities were between 15% and 52% less likely to report high-quality antenatal care. Poor communities are clusters of households headed by someone with no formal education, and in the lowest 20% of the wealth index. The poorest household wealth quantile is the lowest 20%.

The findings indicate that living in a poor household and in close proximity to poor households is a risk factor for low quality antenatal care. Poor women and their families are already vulnerable and may have underlying conditions that can increase their risks for experiencing pregnancy complications and poor birth outcomes. But these women may miss out on the benefits of antenatal care altogether because they face financial and social barriers to healthcare.

What should be done

In countries with low coverage of antenatal care, for instance Chad and Nigeria, policies should focus on expanding access to maternal health services. Educational policies that support the enrolment and retention of women in school can contribute to raising awareness on health and well-being. They also empower women to demand quality care. Although some countries provide free or subsidised health services for pregnant women and young children, it is evident that these policies do not adequately bridge the gap between need and access to services.

Therefore, additional economic policies that empower women financially to afford direct and indirect costs of services are needed.

Across all the countries in our study, there is a dire need to improve the quality of services. The health systems are clearly missing an important opportunity to intervene early in pregnancy to address behaviours and health problems that could cause serious complications or pregnancy-related deaths among the poorest women.

Targeted support for health systems should also be provided. These include ensuring adequate supplies of medicines and equipment, enhanced pre-service and in-service training and supervision of healthcare providers. Equitable distribution of healthcare resources, including providers, would also contribute to improved access and quality of antenatal care services in West and Central Africa.

These recommendations, if implemented, would significantly reduce maternal and newborn deaths and increase wellbeing and social capital in the region.

The article was first publshed by THE CONVERSATION

Nigerians got their abusive SARS police force abolished – but elation soon turned to frustration

A police officer in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 3. Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Samuel Fury Childs Daly, Duke University

For a brief moment in October, it seemed that youthful protesters calling to “abolish” a police force had succeeded. After weeks of mass demonstrations against police brutality, the government agreed to disband a widely hated police unit.

This was in Nigeria, not the United States. But the lessons from Nigeria have broad relevance for protesters elsewhere calling for major reforms to policing.

In Nigeria, it took just three weeks of mass demonstrations for President Muhammadu Buhari to announce he would eliminate the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, the most reviled segment of the national Nigerian Police Force.

SARS officers were infamous for demanding bribes at checkpoints and for violent confrontations with civilians that could end in death. Though heavily armed, SARS officers seldom wore uniforms. Many Nigerians struggled to distinguish the police from the criminals they ostensibly pursued.

Buhari explained his decision to dissolve SARS by stating his “commitment to extensive police reforms… to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives.”

At first, Nigerians were elated, if surprised: President Buhari, a former military dictator who in the 1980s imposed corporal punishment for minor infractions like jumping the line at bus stops, had caved to public pressure over policing.

Their joy was to be short-lived.

Young men with face masks around their neck hold police reform signs
Young protesters call for abolishing SARS at the Lagos State House of Assembly on Oct. 9. Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

History of police violence

In my research on the history of law enforcement in Nigeria, I’ve documented how durable its police institutions are, and how resistant to fundamental change.

The Nigeria Police Force dates back to British colonialism, which lasted until 1960. It is notoriously ineffective, and since it is a federal agency its officers are usually not local to the places they patrol. Officers are poorly paid, which leads them to demand bribes and encourages other forms of corruption. A lack of oversight means that police who abuse their power are seldom punished.

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad – the target of protesters’ recent ire – is a federal police force created during Nigeria’s long military dictatorship.

Military rule in Nigeria lasted from 1966 to 1999 with two brief interruptions, punctuated by the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970. After the war, economic volatility and a glut of leftover firearms contributed to a spike in property crime.

Nigeria’s military rulers responded to a national crisis of armed robbery by imposing martial law and making robbery a capital offense. SARS was established in 1992 as part of one such crackdown. But it endured after Nigeria returned to a civilian-led democracy in 1999.

Other law enforcement tools the military had used, like tribunals, continued after dictatorship, too, as did colonial-era punishments like corporal punishment by police.


The mandate of SARS went beyond patrolling and investigating. It also made judgments about guilt and meted out punishment, just as policemen and soldiers had done during military rule. That punishment could entail torture, and even death, which human rights groups documented.

SARS officers also tormented Nigerians with more mundane harassment. They set up checkpoints to search cars and phones for “evidence” that they then used to demand bribes.

Heavily armed men in camouflage and black vests walk toward a line of voters
SARS officers patrol a polling station in Kano, in northern Nigeria, during Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

In October 2020, a a video of the killing of a young man by SARS officers in the town of Ughelli sparked long-standing opposition to SARS into a national cause. Online activism took #EndSARS international, and an avalanche of Twitter posts exhorted the Nigerian government to dissolve the force. Nigerians living abroad led protests in New York and in front of many Nigerian embassies, garnering global media attention.

#EndSARS built on a long history of discontent with the Nigerian police. While the movement in some ways recalled Black Lives Matter in the United States – which issued a statement in support of #EndSARS – age rather than race was at its center. Its leaders argued that, as young people in a state run by elderly ex-soldiers, they were vulnerable to police harassment.

Soro soke werey” – a slang phrase roughly meaning, “speak up, madman” – was one of its slogans, an indictment of past generations for having tolerated police violence.


Two days after President Buhari agreed to disband SARS, celebration turned to disillusionment.

On Oct. 14, the Nigerian Police Force unveiled a new police squad, the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, or SWAT. The police promised SWAT would be “strictly intelligence-driven,” and that “no personnel from the defunct SARS will be selected to be part of the new tactical team.”

Activists suspected SWAT was a new label for an old institution, not a meaningful reform. Rather than clearing the streets, protests grew, in Nigeria and abroad. #EndSARS became #EndSWAT. On Oct. 20, soldiers opened fire at an #EndSWAT protest in Lagos, killing at least 48.

Crowd holding #EndSARS signs with New York skyscrapers visible in the background
A protest against Nigeria’s SARS police force in New York City on Oct. 21. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Six police officers have been killed on the job since the #EndSARS movement concluded, and the Lagos State government has compensated their families. Nothing has been paid to the families of the protesters who died. The Lagos State government opened a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the Oct. 20 killings, but such inquiries, which are merely advisory, have come to little in the past.

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Nigeria’s government has begun punishing the young organizers of #EndSARS, including by freezing their bank accounts and revoking their passports. This, too, has echoes in the past. Financial penalties were imposed on the losing side of the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s, and military regimes regularly prevented their critics from leaving the country.

Nigeria’s story reveals a common pitfall of police reform movements that’s also been seen in the United States and beyond. Governments facing pressure to reform police may shuffle around personnel or rebrand maligned units – but cosmetic changes cannot fix root problems that date back decades, even centuries.

Samuel Fury Childs Daly, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Duke University

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

How corruption undermines peacebuilding in Nigeria’s oil region

A Nigerian Navy unit on patrol, looking for illegal oil refineries in the Niger Delta region near Port Harcourt. Stefan Heunis/AFP via Getty Image

Obasesam Okoi, University of St. Thomas

In the wake of an insurgency that devastated Nigeria’s petroleum industry and sent the economy into a tailspin, the Nigerian government granted unconditional amnesty to thousands of insurgents in 2009.

Amnesty provided a clean slate for peacebuilding measures. These were meant to safeguard the communities to which the insurgents would be returning and build capacity for peace, security and development in the oil region.

Between 2009 and 2019, the Nigerian government committed billions of dollars to the peacebuilding programme. This was to cover the stipends, education, training and entrepreneurship development costs for 30,000 participants.

The programme included the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the insurgents. The federal government gave them a monthly stipend of 65,000 Naira (US$200) in temporary assistance.

Recently, some scholars explored the impact of the Presidential Amnesty Programme on human capital development in Nigeria’s oil region. Studies by Akeem Akinwale and Iyabobola Ajibola have shown that it had a positive impact and created the conditions for reintegrating ex-insurgents into civilian society.

But the studies don’t consider the role that corruption plays in post-conflict peacebuilding processes.

They don’t note that some vendors delivered sub-standard overseas training. It did not prepare the ex-insurgents for rejoining the local economy.

This gap in the literature underscores my research with ex-insurgents in Rivers and Bayelsa states. Their stories show how corruption manifests itself through the processes of peacebuilding in the region. Some ex-insurgents attribute their suffering to the mismanagement of peacebuilding funds.

Others attribute their misfortunes to the corrupt process of selecting candidates for the foreign scholarship programme. They say it mostly benefited individuals who could use their family connections.

But corruption is nothing new in the oil region. It is now part of an emerging political economy of peacebuilding in Nigeria. Corruption is what one government official was telling me about here:

It is unfortunate how a well-intentioned programme became bastardised and turned out to be a drainpipe. Who are those implementing the programme? Who are those involved in mobilising insurgents for the programme? Who controls the amnesty database? Who is responsible for shortlisting the insurgents for scholarship and technical training within and outside Nigeria? If you do an audit of that tray from initiation to the completion of the amnesty programme, you will have a clear idea about the manifestation of corrupt practices.

These concerns, and the wish to understand the nature of corruption more deeply, motivated my research.

In the research field, my first contact with an ex-insurgent was in Rivers State, where I met Eze, who prefers to be identified only by his first name. I asked him about his experience in the peace process and saw that he seemed angry. He led me to an empty poultry farm that was supposed to give him an economic lifeline. In the Niger Delta peacebuilding lexicon, that poultry farm is known as “empowerment”.

A simple breezeblock brick structure with a fence around it, its zinc roof buckling and a faded poster hanging from the fence.
A poultry farm established to empower an ex-insurgent but failed due to corruption. Obasesam Okoi

But Eze did not feel empowered. He said the peacebuilding vendor contracted to set up the farm failed to deliver some of the resources the government had approved for him.

Eze was not the only victim. I realised through listening to others like him that the biggest challenge confronting the Niger Delta peacebuilding programme was corruption in the educational and entrepreneurial processes of reintegrating ex-insurgents.

The peacebuilding vendors are required to take photographs of the “empowerment” programmes they have implemented for submission to the Presidential Amnesty office. This is evidence that they have met their contractual obligations.

The programmes don’t always exist. But the Presidential Amnesty office exploits these photographs as evidence of “success” in peacebuilding interventions.

Concerns about corruption are easily dismissed as inaccurate information by the Presidential Amnesty office.

Meanwhile, since 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed at least two coordinators of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. The dismissals have been associated with allegations of mismanagement of funds. There have been no convictions, however.

For instance, in 2018, the amnesty office received invoices from local academic institutions requesting payment for tuition and allowances for amnesty students. Alarmed by the suspicion of corruption, the then coordinator, Charles Dokubo, launched an investigation. A committee looked into the enrolment of 1,061 students and whether they were legitimate amnesty delegates.

It found that only 314 of the 1,061 delegates were legitimate participants. The remaining 747 could not be accounted for.

This is an example of how the peacebuilding programme benefits the peacebuilders while alienating the ex-insurgents.

My study allowed the ex-insurgents to give voice to their experiences. And my qualitative analysis was an important consideration in understanding the role that corruption plays in the dynamic processes of peacebuilding.

The work of peacebuilding practitioners influences the outcome of the Niger Delta peace process. To prevent a relapse into an armed insurgency motivated by the grievances of ex-insurgents who feel alienated from the peace process, I recommend a forensic audit of the Presidential Amnesty programme. It should hold the peacebuilders accountable.

Obasesam Okoi, Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies, University of St. Thomas

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

OPEC-Nigeria Talks Discuss Market Recovery After Covid-19

The OPEC-Nigeria Bilateral Meeting that took place last week has sent yet another signal of the strong dialogue and cooperation between OPEC and Africa’s biggest producing country.

Dr Ayed S. Al-Qahtani, Director Research Division, OPEC

Such a dialogue is key for compliance with the OPEC global production cuts deal of April, to which all of OPEC’s African member countries have agreed to. Nigeria’s support to global market stability and energy cooperation is significant and gives confidence to operators and future investors seeking to do business in West Africa.

“African producers and service companies are the hardest hit when there is volatility in the market. H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo and Dr. Ayed S. Al-Qahtani leading these discussions sends a strong message that collaboration and sticking to the principles of a stable market is good for Nigeria, its producers and the economy at large,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, S.G. of OPEC(Source: African Energy Chamber

“We continue to support the Government of Nigeria, and the country’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources in their effort to improve the environment for investment and getting the industry to rebound post-Covid-19. We believe they are right in making this a priority and we welcome the bold initiatives by Nigeria’s leadership,” he added.

Nigeria’s ongoing Marginal Fields Bidding Round was launched in earlier this year and has already been met with significant success, reportedly attracting hundreds of bidders. The round is expected to result in a new wave of local content development in Nigeria, a country already widely regarded as the most successful example of local content and capacity building across the continent.