Connect with us

Strictly Personal

Who is the next president? By Lasisi Olagunju

Published

on

“Someone who should know told me that our next president has not declared yet; that all those who have so far declared won’t be president.” I call him my mystery friend from the north. I have never met him. He comes around into my social media handles like a thief in the night, he drops his very few words as private messages and disappears. On Saturday, he came again with the first sentence of this piece. My response to him was that I suspected so. He didn’t ask me why I did. But I followed up to ask him if he thought what we had was a democracy. He answered no; otherwise, some people somewhere won’t be Nigeria’s real electors who choose for us before our election days. They are presently playing the game the old effective way. They are breaking ‘declared’ heads with coconut shells. They have set the parties on fire. INEC gave political parties from Wednesday, April 6 to Friday, June 3 to conduct their primaries and settle all disputes therefrom. That deadline is 46 days away from today, but the political parties we have are not ready; they are sick, down with epileptic fits, fighting civil and internecine wars. The Lagos content of the APC has particularly been noxious in its fratricidal feud.
When a journey portends evil, the Yoruba call it Igbo Odaju; its direct English translation is forest of the heartless. Elders always warn girls without fathers and boys without mothers not to take that route. If such boys and girls are already on that road to peril, they are told to go back home. What is rumbling the jungles of Lagos APC is a war of witches, they know what they ate which has now inflated their bellies. Let no ordinary person go by their ringside to watch and speculate. I am an orphan, I have no father, I have no mother; may I never be found getting involved in that family affair. I hope the sick taking sides in this coven fight know the implications. It promises not to end in praise. I also hope such people know what I know: that a fish with a closed mouth fears no hook and never gets caught. Family members fighting over who takes the bedchamber of the charmer are particularly taking a dangerous gamble. Skulls will be cracked, limbs will be lost. You already heard the father declaring not having a son. And like Elesin Oba’s Olunde in Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’, the son too may soon post a disclaimer: “I have no father, eater of leftovers.”
The frenzy we feel is like bandits struggling over the spoils of their felony. The world of crime bears very uncanny resemblance to what you are seeing playing out in the politics of your country. A criminal enterprise. That is what many call our parties and their governments. Criminal enterprises have structures and there are hierarchies in there. Crime mirrors politics as literature reflects life. Professor Akinwumi Isola did a review of crime in Oladejo Okediji’s detective novel, Agbalagba Akan. I refer to his ‘The Modern Yoruba Novel: An Analysis of the writers art.’ He writes on page 140: “The criminals are known and feared. But they still operate in the society using a network of services. Theirs is a syndicate with active branches in the neighbouring towns. Olori Aye is the chief of them all. He resides at Ibadan. Oyeniyi Seriki is the deputy at Egbeda; Lamidi Olojooro controls Lalupon; Adegun directs operations at Origbo. Olori Aye (alias Doogo) has the last say in everything. He does not consult anyone on any point, he gives out orders that must be obeyed. Each time he says something he adds ‘Mo pa a lase ni o (it’s an order).'” That is the geo-politics of crime according to literature. At every level of our politics, you see each of the characters mentioned above. There is always an Olori Aye (supreme head of the world) calling the shots, directing the affairs using able lieutenants like Olojooro (the fraudulent) as ruthless foot soldiers. Think deep and look around; they are here.
But is this how we will continue? Swift-legged hare once found himself among flesh-eating beasts of the jungle. How did he come back home in one piece? He said he hung out with the big cats with ogbon inu (inner wisdom) and escaped with opolopo imo (a lot of understanding). Those are what we need to survive this season of war without help. Don’t you find it curious that as terrorists kill, maim and abduct, and relations of victims wail and beg our government to please be government, what concerns the regime is completely different? It is not even the next election. That one is settled. What remains to be done must be done. The government decreed last week that very early next year there would be census, the sum of the Nigerian people. There are millions hiding in diseased forests either as terrorists or as victims of terrorism. Will they be counted too? What better way to rupture the vessels of the system than having census and elections lumped together right in the middle of a war? So, I beg you, stop praying to these gods for protection, they assault their own temples with poisoned offerings.
The Nigerian presidency has a synonym, it is death. It is a repository of what a poet calls “the seven things of price.” It has gold; it has silver, pearl and coral; it has catseye, ruby and diamond. That is why people kill persons and characters and good manners to get into the vault. Daily I watch ambitious southern Nigerians seeking to be president of Nigeria. You cannot say you know how many they are. Even they themselves know not their number. As the list lengthens daily, so is the acrimony that attends their politics. The many from the south fight dirty; the four or five from the north form a Man United team stalking the riotous south, seeking holes to sink their goals into. Where brothers fight to the death, strangers inherit their father’s property. It is not only unthinking siblings who suffer this fate. Friends, associates deliver one another to the enemy whenever they think only of themselves. And, here, I consult the Greek, Aesop, classical master of ageless tales.
Aesop wrote his very many tales long before the sun and the moon were born. There is the one he entitled: “The Ass, the Fox and the Lion.” It is the tale of Ass and Fox, comrades who moved together daily, shoulder to shoulder, and lived on the generous carelessness of their society. Aesop says Ass regularly fed from cropped fresh bits of greens while Fox derived his nutrients from devouring chickens from a neighboring farmyard. Fox also filched cheese from the dairy next door. Aesop continues and says: one day, the pair unexpectedly walked into a Lion. The Ass was very much frightened, but the Fox calmed his fears. “I will talk to him,” Fox told Ass.
So the Fox walked boldly up to the Lion. “Your highness,” he said in an undertone, so the Ass could not hear him, “I’ve got a fine scheme in my head. If you promise not to hurt me, I will lead that foolish creature yonder into a pit where he can’t get out, and you can feast at your pleasure.” The Lion agreed and the Fox returned to the Ass. “I made him promise not to hurt us,” said the Fox. “But come, I know a good place to hide till he is gone.” So the Fox led the Ass into a deep pit. But when the Lion saw that the Ass was his for the taking, he first of all struck down Fox who thought he was smart and safe. The end of the comrades is the end of their tale.
There is also a grander story from father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer in his magnum opus, The Canterbury Tales. It is the story of three riotous fellows “who lived for gaming, eating, drinking, and merrymaking.” They set out one day to kill Death because Death killed their friends. Chaucer writes: “…One of the drinkers then swore an oath on God’s sacred bones that he would seek Death out. ‘Listen, friends, we three have always been as one. Let each of us now hold up his hand and swear an oath of brotherhood. Together we will slay this traitor Death!’ And thus with a blasphemous curse, they swore to live and die for one another and together to seek out and challenge Death before the next nightfall. In a drunken rage, they set forth…swearing grisly oaths as they went.”
How did they end their story? Instead of meeting Death, it was fortune that met them. Chaucer continues: “They found a pile of golden florins, well nigh onto eight bushels of them, they thought. The sight of all the bright and beautiful florins quickly caused them to abandon their search for Death, and their thoughts turned to how they might best protect their newly found treasure. The worst of them spoke the first word, ‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘Fortune has given us this great treasure, but if we carry it home by light of day, people will call us thieves, and our own treasure will send us to the gallows. We must take it home by night, and then with utmost prudence and caution. Let us draw lots to see which one of us should run to town and secretly bring back bread and wine. The other two will stay here and guard the treasure. Then in the night we will carry the treasure to wherever we think is best.'” The lot fell to the youngest, and he immediately departed for the town. The two behind plotted to kill the one who left so that they could have enough of the treasures. The one who left thought through his plot too to kill the two so all the treasures would be his. Both sides succeeded in their plots. The youngest came back with food and drinks and the two ran their daggers through his back. “They killed him, just as they had planned, and when the deed was done, one of them said, ‘Now let us sit and drink and make merry. Afterward we will bury his body.’ And while still talking, he drank from the poisoned bottle, and his friend drank as well, and thus the two of them died.” End of story. Now, the question is: Who inherited their treasure?
Who is Nigeria’s next president? That is the only question worth asking now. The next president is not among those killing one another before the day of battle. That is what my northern friend said. Except history sloughs off its skin, my friend will be right. No one who demanded the presidency of Nigeria has ever got it. Let’s look at history starting from 1999: Olusegun Obasanjo was drafted into the race; he drafted Umaru YarAdua into the race; death installed Goodluck Jonathan; Muhammadu Buhari got it only after he announced he was quitting politics. The system brought him back, cleansed him of the curse of perpetual inelectability and put him on the throne. Everyone knows unreadable Buhari is scheming to do what Obasanjo did in 2007. We wait to see how far he can go with his plans – outside the power court (and cult). When an elder loses what Teresa Washington describes as “control, composure, and reticence,” he loses his place at the pinnacle where spirits hold court. The choice has never been Nigerians’. The owners of Nigeria always take charge at the appropriate time and level. They always give us their choice to elect. We pay the price, they take the bride. Meanwhile, let the feuding old birds in Lagos APC continue their flight of death. It is their last rite, their last flight.

Strictly Personal

Water Management: Morocco’s greatest threat or opportunity? By Jasper Hamann

Published

on

Morocco has its work cut out for itself when it comes to water management. While the country is rich in innovative agricultural thinking and houses high-tech institutes and is one of the world’s largest fertilizer producers, many of the country’s farmers continue to depend primarily on rainfall to supply water for agricultural production.

Morocco’s future outlook could be dire if it does not heed warnings about the ever-escalating climate crisis. As the world continues to output massive amounts of carbon and methane, droughts and extreme weather are increasingly becoming a part of daily life.

An Evolving Crisis

The last few years have aptly shown the destructive nature of the climate crisis, as Morocco has faced its worst drought in nearly half a century. While droughts were already common in the North African country, occurring on average every three years, the current trend shows that things are only going to get worse.

The UN’s sustainable development division has pointed to Morocco’s water scarcity as the  “main constraint on expansion” for its vital agricultural sector. While Morocco can have little impact on the evolution of the global climate crisis, local academics, businesses, and government are attempting to step up, and help the country prepare for what is to come.

Government Response

As one of Morocco’s top officials on this dossier, Minister of Equipment and Water Nizar Baraka in May pointed out that Morocco is set to lose 30% of its current water resources by 2050. Baraka has called for the need for the country to invest in water efficiency, and emphasized the need for “hydro-diplomacy,” to establish solid international agreements to prevent future water resources from dwindling water supplies.

Meanwhile, the government is mustering its financial resources to aim to protect Morocco’s water supply, while making satellite data available to better manage the country’s outdated irrigation networks.

In January, the cabinet allocated $260 million for its 2021-2022 water emergency plan, yet such amounts can only provide minor temporary solutions. The country’s Court of Auditors recognized this fact in a report in March, calling for massive structural funding to update irrigation, limit water waste, and protect domestic water resources.

 

 

Funding Solutions

But billions are needed to increase, not just protect, Morocco’s water supply. Minister Baraka recognizes this and has pointed to Morocco’s expansive coastline as a possible asset where futuristic desalination plants would help convert seawater into potable water resources.

Whether desalination will be a viable option for all of Morocco remains to be seen, as experts say this prospect depends on the cost to construct the plants, creating the (sustainable) energy needed to run them, and finding solutions for its waste product, brine.

As is common with Moroccan public projects, the country is not thinking small. Instead, it is constructing the world’s largest desalination plant in Casablanca, the success of which is likely to determine whether Morocco will repeat this strategy elsewhere.

Thought leaders

“Managing water is like managing your bank account,” Dr. Abdelghani Chehbouni, Professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), recently told MWN.

The professor is part of several key innovators and thought-leaders working to address Morocco’s growing water crisis. Solutions vary from simple low-tech changes, such as moving towards drip irrigation in Moroccan agriculture, to the ultra-high-tech ideas coming from the country’s foremost knowledge institutes.

UM6P, the country’s top research institute in this area, is building on the potential of AI machine learning, drones, and other innovative technology through its dedicated research institute, the International Water Research Institute (IWRI).

Similarly, the country’s largest company, fertilizer and phosphate giant OCP Group is counting on technology to provide solutions to the growing problem facing Morocco and the rest of the world.

Private Sector

For its own operations, OCP has introduced one of the most far-reaching water conservation initiatives of any large corporation worldwide, aiming to exclusively use non-conventional water sources within a decade while already recycling much of its own water needs. “We’ll use zero fresh water by 2028,” the company has vowed.

OCP’s ambitions go far beyond its own operations, however, as the fertilizer company is investing heavily in domestic and continental initiatives to combat water stress while contributing to major international fora on the topic.

At the 2022 International Water Association’s Forum for Industrial Water Users this past Friday, OCP presented their most recent effort, an e-book to promote sustainable water use for industry.

In many ways, OCP Group’s operations present a microcosm of African water issues. Phosphate mining, transportation, and fertilizer production are water-intensive processes that mirror the growing need for water resources in Africa’s growing industrial sector and agriculture.

OCP’s approach however presents a sense of hope, as it is already applying some of the methods that governments across Africa are likely to depend on in the future.

Future African and Moroccan solutions can already be found in OCP’s current strategy of far-reaching water conservation, intensive use of desalination, and water treatment while generating much of the energy for these processes in a sustainable manner.

As Morocco, Africa, and the rest of the world scramble for solutions to growing water scarcity, Morocco’s efforts are increasingly tailored toward turning a threat into an opportunity and presenting an optimistic technology-driven vision for a sustainable future in an evolving global climate context.

Continue Reading

Strictly Personal

EAC presidents retire young, keep them busy and tap their knowledge by Charles Onyango-Obbo

Published

on

On Tuesday, former Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta handed power to his former deputy, William Ruto, at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi. Uhuru fell out with his deputy in 2018 and didn’t back him in the August 9 elections that Ruto won, allying with former prime minister and rival Raila Odinga instead.

Kenyatta was nevertheless gracious, showing up and doing his duty with a smile, and sitting expressionless through some awkward moments as new Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, standing a few feet from him, shredded his record.

And off he went.

It was easy to miss one little significance of his exit.

At 60 years of age, Kenyatta was the youngest president to step down in Kenya. Both Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki retired just as their walking sticks beckoned.

Relative youthful retirement is a growing East African Community trend. Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila set the record in 2019 when he left the presidential palace at 49, remarkable considering that he in power for 18 years.

Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, who died in June 2020, a few weeks before he was to step down following elections, was also younger than Uhuru, at 56 years.

In Somalia, a likely future EAC member, former president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (also known as Farmaajo), was sent packing at the age of 60, following elections in May after he was defeated by former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Previously, the youngest regular retirement in the EAC — that is, the big man is not chased by mutinous soldiers, rebels emerged from the bush, or angry street protestors — was by Julius Nyerere in Tanzania in 1985 at 64. Hard to believe for a man who left such a huge footprint on his country, Africa, and the world.

The World Health Organisation said in a recent report that life expectancy in Africa had increased by an average 10 years between 2000 and 2019.

The median age of death in Africa in 2000 was 46. By 2019 it was 56. WHO noted that while 56 was lower than the global life expectancy of 64, the 10-year increase was far higher than the overall global increase of five years.

This means by retiring today, well-fed and sufficiently medicated leaders who were on a trajectory to live much longer than the masses, anyway, could be around longer than the previous class.

If we count the leaders who stepped down and weren’t hounded off State House, Nyerere died in 1999 at 79. Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki died in April last year at 90. His predecessor, Moi, died in February 2020 at 95. There is something in Kenya’s soil. Their average age is 88. We add at least 10 years to that; then, the recent retirees will live at least 98.

If they don’t fall into depression, their planes don’t fall out of the sky, or their successors don’t hang them in a tragic turn of events, this means Kenyatta will be around until 2060. Kabila will be roaming DR Congo until 2074.

That’s a long time away. Considering that more youthful future leaders will join them, there is a need for a grand East African scheme to harvest their knowledge of statecraft and keep them meaningfully occupied. Any ideas?

Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. Twitter@cobbo3

Continue Reading

EDITOR’S PICK

Metro14 mins ago

Two Liberian Maritime officials arrested for alleged rape in South Korea while on seminar

Two top Liberian Maritime Authorities staff who were in South Korea for a seminar were on Saturday, arrested and detained...

Metro23 mins ago

Interim Malian PM accuses France of stabbing country in the back following withdrawal of troops

Interim Mali’s Prime Minister, Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga, has accused its former colonial masters, France, of “stabbing” the West African country...

VenturesNow32 mins ago

Tanzanian Central Bank reduces economic liquidity to curb rising inflation

The Tanzanian Central Bank on Saturday said one of the measures it has taken to slow down rising inflation in...

Culture2 hours ago

(VIDEO) Nigerian Afrobeat star, Burna Boy locks down South Africa as over 100,000 attend ‘DSTV Delicious Festival 2022’

Nigerian Afrobeats star, Burna Boy, on Saturday night, showed, yet again, why he is the undisputed “African Giant” when he...

Metro4 hours ago

Terrorists strike in Northwest, Nigeria again, kill 15 in attack in mosque

In Nigeria, there has been another terrorist attack as a gang of armed men killed at least 15 people at...

Sports4 hours ago

Egypt announces plans to bid for 2036 Olympic games. Will they get it?

Egypt’s youth and sports minister has revealed that the North African country will apply to host the Summer Olympic Games...

Culture4 hours ago

DRC filmmakers, Balufu brothers, accuse Belgian producer, Thierry Michel, of plagiarism

Controversy has continued to trail the 2021 movie by Belgian filmmaker, Thierry Michel, “Empire of Silence” in the Democratic Republic...

Politics21 hours ago

Somaliland electoral body, SLNEC, postpones presidential election. Here’s why

Somaliland has postponed its presidential elections to next year from its initial scheduled date in November. The region’s electoral body,...

VenturesNow23 hours ago

Air traffic controllers in West, Central Africa suspend strike for negotiations after 48-hour disruption

The industrial action by air traffic controllers in West and Central Africa has been suspended. The unions announced the suspension...

VenturesNow24 hours ago

Trevali to close Burkina Faso zinc mine months after deadly flood kills 8

Five months after a deadly flood that got eight local miners stuck and eventually die at the Perkoa zinc mine...

Trending