Items filtered by date: Monday, 27 May 2019

Some traders affected by the ongoing demolition of Agboju Market in Festac Town, Lagos, have blamed market leaders for “insincerity” over the exercise.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that bulldozers moved in on Friday and began pulling down the structures in the market just as the traders started displaying their goods for sale.

Some of the affected traders told NAN that the issue of the demolition had been ongoing between the state government and the traders.

They, however, expressed shock over the exercise which occurred before the seven-day quit notice issued them expired.

Mr Uzo Thomas, a trader, said they assumed the demolition would be done on Monday after the notice elapsed on Sunday.

“To our surprise, Friday morning, we were displaying our goods, we just started hearing, ‘pack, pack,’ we thought it was a joke.

“Before we knew it, bulldozers started bringing everything down,” he said.

Also, Mrs Anulika Chukwu, trader, said last Thursday, officials of Amuwo Odofin Local Government came to warn the traders not to sell on the walk ways, which they complied with.

“If we had known beforehand, I wouldn’t have spent the money I had yesterday buying goods for sale,” she lamented.

However, some other traders said that the land where the market was situated was a buffer zone, with pipelines running underneath and electric cables overhead.

Mr Olawale Ashakaba, trader, said: “This is a Federal Government property, there are pipelines running under here.

“I believe there’s something our leaders are not telling us,” he said.

Another trader, Mrs Blessing Ogomchi, said: “Nobody knows exactly what is going on or what is going to happen.

“The leaders haven’t even called a meeting to tell traders what is going on.

“If indeed there’s going to be a new market, how long will it take to be completed; how many months or years?”

The Iyaloja General of Amuwo Market, Mrs Osinatu Adebayo, refuted the allegations, saying there was no foul play

Published in Business

No fewer than 137 pipelines points were vandalised in February which represents a 40 per cent drop when compared to the reported incident in January, according to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The corporation made the fact known in its Monthly Financial and Operation report released in Abuja, on Sunday.

It said: “A breakdown of the report indicated that in February 2019, a total of 137 pipeline points were vandalised which translated to 40 per cent drop from the 230 points vandalised in January 2019.’’

It noted that Mosimi-Ibadan petroleum products pipeline accounted for 72 per cent of the breaks while Kaduna, Port-Harcourt, Warri and Gombe lines made up the remaining 28 per cent.

The report attributed the drop in the line break to efforts by NNPC, the local communities and other stakeholders to reduce and eventually eliminate pipeline vandalism.

On crude oil export sales, it said that the NNPC posted a total export sale of crude oil and gas of 490.03 million dollars in February which was 32.45 per cent higher than the previous month’s sale.

It added that crude oil export sales contributed 350.29 million dollars (71.48 per cent) of the dollar transactions compared with 240.23 million dollars contribution in the previous month.

The report, which is the 43rd edition, explained that gas export sales amounted to 139.74 million dollars in the month under review.

It added that the February 2018 to February 2019 crude oil and gas transactions indicated that crude oil and gas worth of 5.94 billion dollars was exported.

On petrol supply and distribution, it said 1.27 billion litres of product translating to 45.53 million litres/day was supplied for the month under review.

“On the Downstream Sector, the corporation has continued to diligently monitor the daily stock of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, to achieve smooth distribution of petroleum products and zero fuel queue across the nation,’’ it said .

In terms of natural gas off-take, commercialisation and utilisation, the report indicated that within the period, daily average natural gas supply to gas power plants increased by 8.23 per cent to 819.85 million standard cubic feet (mmscf).

This, it said, was equivalent to power generation of 3,336 MW.

“The figure is an improvement from the January 2019 record where an average of 757 mmscfd was supplied to generate 3,124 MW.

“Also, out of the 223.23 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas supplied in February 2019, a total of 127.62bcf of gas was commercialised consisting of 37.77 bcf and 89.85 bcf for the domestic and export market respectively.

“This translates to a total supply of 1,349.03 mmscfd of gas to the domestic market and 3,780.24 mmscfd of gas supplied to the export market for the month,’’ it said.

This it noted implied that 57.17 per cent of the average daily gas produced was commercialised while the balance of 42.83 per cent was re-injected, used as upstream fuel gas or flared.

“Gas flare rate was 9.51 per cent for the month under review which is 757.94 mmscfd, compared with average gas flare rate of 9.52 per cent that is 750.01 mmscfd for the period February 2018 to February 2019,’’ it said.

Published in Business

Europe has claimed the career of yet another Conservative prime minister. After less than three years in office, Theresa May has suffered a catastrophic loss of confidence in her leadership among MPs and cabinet ministers. She has finally faced up to the demands from within her party and announced her resignation.

Indicating her intention to step down, May said she had tried her best to deliver Brexit but accepted that she had not managed to get MPs to agree. She said she was leaving with no ill will, only “gratitude”.

She will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 and the competition to replace her will formally begin the following week – though in reality, it has been underway for some time.

Indeed, May’s departure has been a long time coming. Many speculated that she couldn’t remain long in office after losing her party’s majority in the 2017 general election. In December, when facing a vote of no confidence among her MPs, she promised not to lead her party into the next general election. In March this year, in a bid to persuade more MPs to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement, she promised to leave sooner rather than later.

May’s speech.

May’s resilience has been remarkable. But it is also finite. Leaders can only lead when they have followers and too few Tories are now prepared to follow May any longer.

May’s premiership was brief but eventful. She fought a general election, faced down an internal party vote of no confidence and won a parliamentary vote of no confidence. She also lost the services of more than 30 ministers, many of whom resigned over Brexit disagreements.

Brexit means …

Much of the drama of course has been fuelled by Brexit. It launched May’s premiership in July 2016, when she succeeded David Cameron. It has been the source of most of her woes. And it has finally wrecked her premiership.

May was elected Tory leader in part because she seemed to offer a safe pair of hands for delivering the referendum result after Cameron jumped ship. Brexit would mean Brexit, she told her party; and if no one was clear on what she meant, most thought she would deliver.

So where did it go wrong? Three points in time are worth considering, if only because they focus attention on the challenges she has faced.

The first is of course the decision that ultimately forced May’s hand. This came shortly before her resignation, when she presented a new set of “compromises” on her Brexit plans that would please precisely no one. She had been planning to present them for a parliamentary vote, despite already having lost three votes on her deal. The deal was now utterly toxic, and May’s intention to persist suggested a loss of judgement. Her stubbornness, once valued, was now a significant liability. Her party told her enough was enough.

But while this was the immediate trigger for her announcement, the seeds were sown long ago. The second point at which it all went wrong was the 2017 general election. The Conservatives gained votes but lost their parliamentary majority. May lost much of her personal authority as a result.

At the start of that election campaign, May had looked set to win a commanding majority. But even if she had won big, securing support for a withdrawal agreement would not have been simple. Her authority would have been greater, to be sure, and she would have had more MPs to support her, but it is unlikely that the withdrawal agreement would have looked much different. Many of the fundamentalist Brexiteers in her party could well have opposed it.

Which perhaps suggests that her demise was written into her story from the very moment she decided to run for the leadership in June 2016.

It was always going to be a monumental task to keep her party united as she sought to deliver on the Brexit referendum. Moderates in her party would have opposed a very hard Brexit. Anything less than a very hard Brexit would have been resisted by fundamentalists on the Tory benches.

May has made many mistakes along the way. Her suggestion early on that “no deal is better than a bad deal” was always a hostage to fortune. She might also have offered reassurance to Remainers and talked of the need for compromise, even as she pursued her vision. But this assumes that people in her party and parliament would have been willing to accept compromise.

Brexit has rapidly become a touchstone issue for political identity, akin to abortion and gun control in the US. In the circumstances the window for compromise was always small and fleeting.

As she confirmed that she was giving up, May sent a signal to potential successors, speaking once again about compromise, revealing that the late British humanitarian Nicholas Winton once told her: “Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.”The Conversation

 

Nicholas Allen, Reader in Politics, Royal Holloway

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

Published in World

Utah judge, Michael Kwan has been suspended for six months without pay after making derogatory comments about Donald Trump, including criticising his “inability to govern and political incompetence.”

Kwan’s suspension earlier this week by the state’s supreme court says that his behaviour was in violation of the judicial code of conduct and sullied the reputation of the judiciary.

“Judge Kwan’s behaviour denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified, and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” the court said in a 19-page opinion.

As regards Kwan’s postings about Trump on Facebook and LinkedIn, the court said they “were laden with blunt, and sometimes indelicate, criticism.”

In one posting on January 20, 2017, when Trump was inaugurated president, Kwan wrote: “Welcome to governing.

“Will you dig your heels in and spend the next four years undermining our country’s reputation and standing in the world? … Will you continue to demonstrate your inability to govern and political incompetence?”

In another posting a month later, Kwan wrote: “Welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover.”

He continued, “We need to… be diligent in questioning Congressional Republicans if they are going to be the American Reichstag and refuse to stand up for the Constitution, refuse to uphold their oath of office and enable the tyrants to consolidate their power.”

On another occasion while presiding over a hearing, Kwan got into an exchange with a defendant in which he appeared to criticise Trump’s immigration and tax policies, the court said.

The defendant told Kwan that he planned to pay all of his court fines when he got his tax returns.

“You do realise that we have a new president, and you think we are getting any money back?” Kwan told the defendant

“Prayer might be the answer,” Kwan added.

“‘Cause, he just signed an order to start building the wall and he has no money to do that, and so if you think you are going to get taxes back this year, uh-yeah, maybe, maybe not. But don’t worry, there is a tax cut for the wealthy so if you make over $500,000 you’re getting a tax cut.”

Kwan, who has served as a judge in the city of Taylorsville for the past two decades and has a history of misconduct linked to politically charged comments and his temper, has acknowledged that his behaviour was unbecoming a judge.

But he described his in-court political statements as an attempt at humour and argued, unsuccessfully, that a suspension would amount to infringing on his freedom of speech.

Published in World

Final results of Malawi’s presidential elections will be delayed, the electoral commission (MEC) said on Saturday after the high court ordered a review of the polls following opposition allegations of tampering.

Voters cast ballots for a president, parliament and ward councillors on May 21, with President Peter Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) facing stiff competition from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which filed the complaints alleging intimidation and tampering by the DPP.

The Malawian High Court ordered the MEC not to release results of the presidential vote until a judicial review of the complaints had been heard and results from 10 districts were verified.

Malawian law says complaints must be resolved within the maximum eight days between polling and the announcement of results. But chairwoman of the MEC Justice Jane Ansah said the results would be delayed until matters cited by the court were resolved.

“Presidential results have been withheld until we resolve the issue of the court injunction which we have received. We are dealing with all complaints,” Ansah told a press briefing.

The MEC has confirmed receiving 147 cases of irregularities, most to do with the use of results sheets which had sections blotted out and altered with correction fluid.

Protests have broken out in Malawi’s administrative capital Lilongwe, an opposition stronghold, prompting police to deploy armoured trucks to the area where people were tearing down ruling DDP posters and hurling rocks at government buildings.

President Mutharika, 78, came to power in 2014 and is credited with improving infrastructure and lowering inflation, but has recently faced accusations of corruption and of favouring rural regions where his support is strongest.

 

- Reuters

Published in Economy

South Africa’s new national government and nine new provincial executives have taken office following recent elections. They all have a huge job to do, and it cannot be business as usual.

The country is at a turning point following the nine years of former President Jacob Zuma’s ruinous administration. It needs strong, principled leaders in all spheres of government to put the country on a path of economic growth and to improve the quality of governance.

Many of the current governance failures are linked to corruption or state capture. This includes malfeasance in state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, the power utility and Transnet, the rail and port company. There are also other serious governance problems in some national government departments and provinces and in most of the municipalities.

The main governance problems are non-compliance with legislative requirements designed to keep the running of government clean and free from corruption. These include the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The biggest challenges include a lack of oversight and accountability, poor appointments in key positions, tolerance of corruption, and poor management and technical skills.

All these problems can be fixed if some basic steps are taken. These can be narrowed down to a list of seven. The focus should be on improving governance and weeding out corruption. The list would include: bringing those involved in corruption to book, setting clear targets for each minister, imposing a proper accountability structure and appointing an ethics officer. Accountability will also be improved if the involvement of communities is improved.

The added ingredient is leadership. An important first step would be for President Cyril Ramaphosa and the nine new premiers to show commitment to ensuring integrity and to improve transparency and accountability.

Poor performance

South Africa performs badly in the global governance context. The country scores 43% and is 73rd out of 180 countries on the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. The index focuses on public sector corruption. It draws on surveys and assessments by experts.

It’s also gone backwards from last year in the latest Ibrahim Index on African Governance. South Africa is in 7th position with a combined score of 68%, which is slightly down from 2017. Mauritius is in the first place with 79,5%.

South Africa’s weakest score (57,4%) on this index is on transparency and accountability.

The index defines governance as the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state. It also factors in the state’s responsibility to deliver to its citizens.

One of the significant ways of improving accountability and governance would be to ensure that the work of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture results in the successful prosecution of perpetrators.


Read more: South Africa's commissions of inquiry: what good can they do?


Other practical steps that should be considered are:

  • Setting clear targets for each of the new ministers and members of the executive councils. This must include regular public reports on their performance;

  • Adopting a good governance programme that focuses on enhancing integrity, transparency and accountability;

  • Sourcing the best expertise in the public and private sectors to fill key senior management positions;

  • Appointing a senior manager as “chief ethics officer”. This could be the secretary to the national cabinet and secretary to the cabinet in each province;

  • Strengthening the oversight role of the nine provincial legislatures and Parliament. This could be done by ensuring compliance with the accountability requirements in the various pieces of legislation;

  • Ensuring the effective use of information technology to enhance good governance; and

  • Creating an enabling environment for more constructive community involvement when it comes to delivering public services.

Practical measures like this would help improve the quality of governance. It would also contribute to improving South Africa’s score on the Ibrahim Index.

Why governance matters

Poor governance compounds the already huge task facing the newly elected executives. South Africa has huge economic and social inequalities. This means that it needs a new pragmatic approach that uses the skills and expertise of all citizens, beyond what the government is able to provide.

This implies the development of innovative solutions to some of the country’s biggest problems. These include a lack of adequate housing, poor education and a lack of safety. And every day ordinary South Africans feel the brunt of dysfunctional municipalities. These need to be turned into well-functioning entities that serve their communities well.

The “co-production” method, which entails using the combined expertise of both the private and public sectors in the design and delivery of public services, should be used on a much larger scale. A good example of successful co-production is Partners for Possibility, which makes a significant impact in improving education.The Conversation

 

Dirk Brand, Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis

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