Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

World Events Lead to Dramatic Swings in Hotel Prices



Political and Natural Events Strongly Impact Room Rates in First Half of 2011, Says new Hotels.com Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®)




LONDON, September 13/PRNewswire/ — Hotel prices have experienced pronounced volatility as a result of political turmoil and natural disasters in the first half of 2011, according to the latest Hotels.com® Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®).

The average price of a room around the world rose by just 3% in the first six months of the year but this masked some steep rises and falls in regions affected by the historic events.

Other factors such as currency strength and supply of rooms also impacted average room prices across the world, although the report shows that overall these were just 6% higher than when the HPI was launched in 2004, representing outstanding value for travellers.

Prices fell 6% in Asia Pacific year-on-year but rose in all other areas: 4% in North America, 2% in Europe and Latin America and 1% in the Caribbean.
Counting the Cost of the Arab Spring

The uprisings which occurred in North Africa and the Middle East triggered substantial reductions in hotel prices across the region as tourists and business travellers stayed away not only from countries directly hit by the civil unrest but also from those which escaped political protest.

However, the fall in consumer confidence was good news for destinations in southern Europe as travellers returned to more traditional havens. The rising demand pushed up prices in some Spanish sunshine destinations and the overall HPI for Europe rose 2% compared with the first half of last year.

Ireland was also helped by the high-profile visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama which triggered a slight market recovery in hotel prices by attracting visitors and boosting demand.
Japanese Earthquake Hits Prices in Asia Pacific

Average prices for hotel rooms across Asia Pacific fell by 6% over the period. The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis at Fukushima led to reduced occupancy and falling demand in the country and also had a knock-on effect in other parts of the region as the Japanese chose to stay close to home.

However, despite the downward price pressures, there were also some marked rises in the region, especially in strong economies such as Australia where corporate travel continued strongly and the Australian Dollar remained high.
Travellers from Economic Powerhouses Enjoy Lower Hotel Rates

This factor was also evident in other countries with strong currencies and economies and meant citizens from nations such as Brazil, Sweden and Switzerland benefited from lower prices in many destinations, particularly the US and UK where the US Dollar and Pound Sterling struggled to hold their ground.

David Roche, President of Hotels.com, comments: "This year, for the first time, dramatic political and natural world events, such as the Japanese earthquake and Arab Spring, have caused the most pronounced level of hotel price volatility since we began this report in 2004.

"However, despite some exceptional price movements, it is important to highlight that overall the picture has been one of gradual recovery with many room rates still on a par with what they were seven years ago, representing great value for the traveller.

"Of course, other factors such foreign exchange fluctuations, one-off political sporting, cultural or trade events and discounting by hoteliers can also influence prices but it's important to underline the general health of the sector so far this year.

"This can be seen by the growth in the supply of rooms all over the world with nearly 6,000* hotel projects in development. This increase in accommodation also acts as a brake on prices and, once again, is good news for the consumer."

The Hotels.com HPI is based on bookings made on Hotels.com sites around the world and tracks the real prices paid per hotel room (rather than advertised rates) for about 125,000 properties across more than 19,000 locations. The latest HPI looks at prices in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period last year.

For a full copy of the HPI report, graphics and video interview with Hotels.com President David Roche go to:
http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/


Alternatively, email pressoffice@hotels.com or call:
Lizann Peppard on +44-20-7019-2265
Zoe Chan on +852-3607-5719
Alison Couper on + 44-20-7019-2360

* July 2011 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report

About Hotels.com

As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets, Hotels.com offers almost 140,000 quality hotels, B&Bs and serviced apartments worldwide. The company currently operates more than 85 Hotels.com sites around the world and travellers can book online or by contacting one of the multilingual call centres.


The hotels.com Biannual Hotel Price Index Shows a 3 Percent Global Price Increase and Gradual Recovery

Report also Finds Americans Paid 11 Percent More for European Hotels; Japanese Travelers Spent the Most on Travel Abroad

DALLAS – September 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Today, hotels.com®, the leading provider of lodging worldwide, released its biannual Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®), revealing a 3 percent global price increase and a gradual recovery despite major natural catastrophes and world events affecting travel during the first half of the year. Room rates are still lower than their peak in mid-2007, indicating to travelers that good deals and value are within reach for consumers.

The hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI) is a regular survey of hotel prices in major city destinations across the world. The HPI is based on bookings made on hotels.com and prices shown are those actually paid by customers (rather than advertised rates) for the first half of 2011. The report largely compares prices paid in 2010 with prices paid in 2011. The key findings of the Hotel Price Index:

Influential Factors in American Travel at Home and Abroad

Americans continued to see a weak U.S. dollar compared to other currencies, meaning travel outside the country’s borders was more costly than anticipated. Americans paid an increase of 11 percent at European hotels in 2011 compared to 2010; a 5 percent increase in North America; a 4 percent increase in the Caribbean; and a 1 percent increase in Asia. In addition to the weak currency, 2011 was a year of major natural disasters which greatly affected travel, including major flooding in Nashville, and devastating tornadoes that caused major damage to Minneapolis and Joplin, Missouri. Despite the natural disaster, Joplin’s year-over-year average daily rate increased 3 percent, but time will tell if that will remain constant for the rest of the year. Joplin is the tenth least expensive city in the U.S. according to this year’s HPI.

After the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March, travel to the country dropped, even in capital city Tokyo, located 250 miles south of the disaster. Reykjavik, Iceland and Christchurch, New Zealand were also subject to the extraordinary forces of Mother Nature. Massive volcanic ash clouds in Reykjavik and the aftermath of two 6.0+ magnitude earthquakes in Christchurch may have been factors in the 44 percent and 38 percent price rises in each city, respectively. These rises counter the typical trend of lower prices after a natural disaster.

Where are Americans Traveling Internationally?
There has been little change when it comes to the top three most frequented international destinations traveled to by Americans. London, Paris and Rome remain the most popular despite an 11 percent increase in the average daily rate for Americans paying for a hotel in Europe. Our neighbors to the North, Toronto and Vancouver, came in fourth and fifth place. Aside from the top three, European travel from the U.S. continues to centralize around Madrid, Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence, and Venice. Each city moved up one to three spots in the hearts of American tourists.

From Monte Carlo, Monaco to Vieques, Puerto Rico, the top ten most expensive destinations’ daily rates rose, on average, 22 percent year-over-year. Each city on the list cost American travelers more than $350 dollars a night. The city that topped the list, Bora Bora (located in the French Polynesian islands), costs more than double that amount, claiming over $800 a night from American vacationers.

Which Regions Are Growing In Popularity for Americans?
The HPI reveals that Asia is the most up-and-coming region for American travelers. Even though the region experienced a minimal room rate hike of 1 percent, Asian cities have been moving up on the list of the top 50 cities for American travelers.

Beijing moved up 12 spots from 2010 to #20. Bangkok (up 16 spots to #17) and Seoul (up 15 spots to #30) also rapidly gained popularity among U.S. travelers this year.

Hong Kong ranked as the eighth most visited city by Americans in 2011, while other Asian cities including Bangkok (17), Shanghai (18), Beijing (20), Dubai (21) and Singapore(24) ranked in the top 25 most visited international destinations by Americans.

On the other side of the world, Americans paid an average daily rate of $207 in the Caribbean after a four percent increase. Latin American hotel rooms rose two percent in 2011 with rooms costing an average daily rate of $153.

Who are the World’s Biggest Spenders?
Japanese travelers are the new top spenders when traveling abroad, paying an average of $176 per room when they head overseas. Second in line are travelers from Switzerland and Australia, who respectively spend $175 and $172 in other countries. While U.S. travelers have dropped into fourth place, spending an average of $171 per night on hotels overseas, this is still an increase from last year’s average of $160 per night. Americans are more thrifty when booking hotels in the U.S., spending $119 per night. The biggest domestic spenders are from Switzerland, paying an average of $220 in their local hotels. Travelers from India continue to be the lowest domestic spenders, with an average of $92 per room spent on hotels within their borders.


Press Contacts:

Helen Ames
Ruder Finn for hotels.com
Phone: (212) 715-1646
Email: amesh@ruderfinn.com

Taylor L. Cole, APR
hotels.com North America
Phone: (469) 335-8442
Email: taycole@hotels.com


Click here for the details.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Islamic Banking is Good for Nigeria

So much noise is echoing over the planned introduction of Islamic Banking in Nigeria, but making the loudest noise does not mean you are making sense or wise.

I have seen that the so called Nigerian Christians who are afraid of Islamic banking are just ignorant of the facts, because they have failed to read and research to find out the truth about Islamic banking.

The notorious North versus South dichotomy destroying the stability and unity of our common sovereignty is now threatening the prospects of Islamic banking in Nigeria.
It would be good if we separate politics from Islamic Banking and address the economic benefits to the masses of the Nigerian population.

There is absolute nothing wrong with Islamic Banking and far from the misinformation of the Nigerian Christian clerics, it does not translate to the Islamization of Nigeria.

Read the report on the Constitutionality of Islamic Banking by the University of Ilorin on
http://www.unilorin.edu.ng/publications/abikan/CONSTITUTIONALITY%20OF%20ISLAMIC%20BANKING.pdf

May I also recommend the report on Ethica Trains 100 American Imams in Islamic Finance published by Nigerians Report.


Monday, July 4, 2011

African Premiere of The Invocation at 2nd Eko International Film Festival



The African premiere of Emmanuel Itier's multiple award winning movie THE INVOCATION narrated by the famous Hollywood actress Sharon Stone will be at the 2nd Eko International Film Festival (EKOIFF) on Saturday July 9, 2011, at the prestigious Silverbird Galleria, 133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.

THE INVOCATION is a thought provoking film about God and World Peace. An exploration of the notion of the Divine around the world and through Religion, Spirituality, Science, History, Politics and Arts.

It is an invitation to elevate our school of thought and to change the code of human interaction in relation to our perceptions of God. The film proposes answers to universal questions in both a religious and non-religious context: Who am I, where do I come from, and where am I going? Is there something beyond the here and now? What is the global idea of ‘God’ which has presented us with countless conflicts throughout human history? How can we live in Peace?

The project was filmed around the world by a team of talented religious and non-religious filmmakers, and challenges us to go beyond our differences in seeking the common goal of world peace. Without agenda, the film presents a message of global understanding, unity, and humanity. Featuring interviews with respected social and political lime lights, spiritual leaders, artists, entertainers and other influential figures, THE INVOCATION is a truly inspiring source of information that compels you to "be the change you want to see in the world."

Credited cast:

Karen Armstrong ...

Michael Beckwith ...

Mustapha Cherif ...

Deepak Chopra ...

Chaim Cohen ...

Stewart Copeland ...

Brian Cox ...

The Dalai Lama ...

Rosario Dawson ...

Veronica De Laurentiis ...

Amit Goswami ...

John Hagelin ...
Ervin Laszlo ...
Malcolm McDowell ...
Dean Radin ... (as Dean Radin Ph.D.)


Awards and Festivals:
LA International Film Festival 2010 - WINNER, Best Documentary
Bev.Hills Film, TV, & New Media Fest. 2010 - WINNER, Humanitarian Award
The Orlando Global Peace Film Festival
The Spiritual Festival of Mexico City
Tel Aviv Spirit Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Santa Barbara Film Festival


For Reservations and Tickets, call 08033036171, 07066379246.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Governor Rochas: Declare State Of Emergency in State Public Schools


Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State


Governor Rochas: Declare State Of Emergency in State Public Schools

~ By Nwaorgu Faustinus


Though the 2011general elections in Imo state have come and gone, with particular reference to the governorship polls where the people’s candidate, Rochas Okorocha defeated the incumbent governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim who did not leave any stone unturned in opening his frightful financial political muscle in order to perpetuate himself in office, which of course did fail. What is the trend now are the comments, analyses, advice, suggestions, opinions and articles against and for the legality behind the dissolution of the 27 LGAs by the new administration in Imo State.


Primary School Pupils. Photo Credit: Imo State Blog

Now that the parties involved (the state government and the dissolved Council LGAs) are locked in a legal battle over the dissolution of the Council Areas, which is the constitutional thing to do, one can not forget in a hurry the first casualties of Oweelle Rochas’s action as he assumed office which political analysts and observers say will ever remain indelible in the minds of many. The court having taken over the
case, there should be cessation of comments because a case or dispute as the above is not trashed out on pages of newspapers or internet based media sites but in a competent court of law.


The kernel of this piece is the challenges or Herculean tasks that stare the state government in the face with respect to the education sector, which are multifaceted given the lean resources at its prudent use. One major area Chief Rochas Okorocha must take proactive step to revolutionalize is the education sector among other sectors. The importance of education is so invaluable that any state, society country or nation cannot toy with it. Education without mincing words is enlightenment and avenue of advancement which ought to be sustained for generation as according to Sunday Atomode, “it is a legacy which when bestowed cannot be withdrawn on any account except perhaps through inhuman degradation of brainwashing or disease that cause memory lost”. Therefore, education remains the upholder of the expectation, hope and yearnings for the poorest of the poor of society.


Without doubt, it is the eternal bequest any society, government,
administration or nation can give its citizen or natives. It is
therefore a commendable first step taken by the governor when he
announced that his government will give free education to primary and
secondary school students as well as review downwards school fees paid
in higher institutions as part of his party’s campaign promise and
education policy.


To achieve its education policy, the security votes of the Governor,
Deputy Governor, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, the Chief Judge and
House Members was cut from 6.5 billion naira to 2.5 billion naira.
Given the premium the governor attaches to education, unlike previous
administrations, he toured many several primary and secondary schools
to have first hand information about the state of affairs in the
educational institutions which are in great pathetic situation,
capable of making one sigh, sad and wonder why the schools are the way
they are.


Given the deplorable state of most public primary and secondary
schools in Imo State, one wonders if the free education policy of the
current administration is a way of declaring a state of emergency in
that sector. If it is not, a total war should be unleashed in the
sector bearing in mind the mammoth decay in our citadels of learning
across the various Local Government Areas. A visit to most schools
will reveal great decay in infrastructure such as school buildings,
libraries, classrooms, toilets, laboratories among others. Amala/Ntu
Secondary School in Ngor/Okpala LGA can be used as a good reference
point of a school that has witnessed infrastructural decay and neglect
by previous administration on one hand and vandalization at the other.
Apart from these, there is depopulation of staff and students’
population in many rural primary and secondary schools, inadequate
teaching materials and seats. In the time past, it was a tradition or
policy of the government to equip schools with seats but today most
students, if not all go to market to purchase seats they use in
school.


In addition to free education given to primary and secondary school
students, the present administration should as a matter of urgency
renovate and build new structures that will accommodate new students,
poor students who dropped out of school and students who will leave
private schools soon for public schools as a result of the
introduction of free education in the state. Similarly, old or non
functional principal and teachers quarters should be renovated and new
ones built to accommodate some categories of teachers. Furthermore,
the governor should put a programme of action in place with a view to
making it compulsory for teachers to live in the school environment in
order to monitor the behaviour of students apart from being available
to assist them solve academic problems that are related to subjects
they teach. Their salary should be paid as at when due and promotion
extended to deserving ones to encourage them put in their best.


On the issue of limited number of staff in some primary and secondary
schools, the state government should deploy more teachers to schools
where their services are needed as there are schools that lack
teachers who will teach certain subjects. Lateness to school should
not be tolerated as there should be mechanism put in place to monitor
teachers. In this regard, unscheduled visits should be paid to schools
where the culture of late coming has been established with a view to
punishing culprits to serve as a deterrent to others. If need be,
teachers who are perpetual late comers should be dismissed. Students
who come to school late should also be punished adequately to
discourage others from doing the same.



Security in and around state public schools especially primary and
secondary schools should be encouraged by way of providing security
guards for the schools to protect life and property. Apart from
security, the state government should equip libraries, introductory
technology workshops, science laboratories among others in state
public schools. It is now the trend to set up computer laboratories to
encourage the teaching of computer in primary and secondary schools.
The state government should key into this by establishing computer
laboratory in the schools.


There should be training and retraining of teachers so as to gain
effective means of imparting knowledge into the students. This will go
along way in making the students to compete favourably with their
counterparts abroad.

Finally, the state government if need be, should borrow a leaf from
the education policy of Rivers State government if the words of Mr.
Abdulwaheed Omar, President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is any
thing to go by. According to him, "As a professional teacher I can
testify that the new schools built by the administration are a
reflection of focused leadership. As a teacher I am highly impressed
with this kind of school facilities provided by the Rivers State
Government for its children."

It could be recalled that governor Amaechi declared state of emergency
in the education sector when he assumed the administration of Rivers
State. Today, he has given a facelift to the sector.


Nwao(r)gu, Faustinus Chilee writes from Igboetche, Port Harcourt,
Rivers State. Mobile: +2348035601312.
Email:ngorokpalaresearcher@yahoo.com



Thursday, June 23, 2011

A man and a morass: Can Goodluck Jonathan clean up corruption?




NIGERIANS have taken to watching an old film—one of their own—since the presidential election last month. It shows intrigue and thievery at the court of an ancient king in the Niger Delta. Decked out in glittering costumes on an improvised sound stage, the wicked court at last collapses under the weight of its own sins.

When it was released in 1999, “Saworoide” was seen as a commentary on the regime of Sani Abacha, who ruled (or, as some prefer, “dismembered”) Nigeria between 1993 and 1998. Once again, Nigerians are hoping to see the back of their ruling elite. Goodluck Jonathan, the president, wafts along on a wave of personal goodwill and is mostly seen as benign. It is the men and women around him whom voters blame for Nigeria’s woes.

Click here to read the full report

  • BUSINESS: African airlines

    Looking east

    Flying in Africa is getting easierJun 16th 2011

  • BRIEFING: Nigeria's prospects

    A man and a morass

    Can the new government of Goodluck Jonathan clean up corruption and set enterprise free in Africa’s most populous country?May 26th 2011

  • LEADERS: Hope in Nigeria

    Hail the useful chief

    To thrive, Nigerians need strong medicine. They may at last be about to get itMay 26th 2011

  • MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Africa's elephants

    To cosset or to cull?

    Elephants are poached in central and east Africa but proliferate in the southMay 19th 2011

  • INTERNATIONAL: Demography

    ...isn't destiny, one hopes

    Good and bad news from the UN’s population projectionsMay 12th 2011




  • Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at African Union, June 13, 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia



    14 Jun 2011 14:15 Africa/Lagos




    Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at African Union, June 13, 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at African Union, June 13, 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It is a great honor to join you here in Addis Ababa and to address the African Union. I want to thank Chairperson Ping, members of the African Union Commission, ambassadors to the AU, representatives of United Nations agencies, and, most of all, representatives of the nations and people of Africa. Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you. It is good to be back in Africa, and it is a singular honor to address this body.


    During the past few days, I have traveled to Zambia, Tanzania, and now Ethiopia, meeting with leaders and citizens who are rising to meet challenges of all kinds with creativity, courage, and skill. And I am pleased to come to the African Union today as the first United States Secretary of State to address you, because I believe that in the 21st century, solving our greatest challenges cannot be the work only of individuals or individual nations. These challenges require communities of nations and peoples working together in alliances, partnerships, and institutions like the African Union.


    Consider what it takes to solve global challenges, like climate change or terrorism, or regional ones, like the African Union's work in Sudan and Somalia. Your efforts to end the brutal campaign of the Lord's Resistance Army, your push to create a green revolution for Africa that drives down hunger and poverty, the challenge of helping refugees displaced by conflict, the fight against transnational crimes like piracy and trafficking: These are diplomatic and development challenges of enormous complexity. But institutions like this make it easier for us to address them, by helping nations turn common interests into common actions, by encouraging coalition building and effective compromising, by integrating emerging nations into a global community with clear obligations and expectations.


    That is why, as Secretary of State, I have emphasized the work of regional institutions throughout the world, in Latin America, in Asia, in Europe, and in Africa. Now, regional institutions, of course, may differ, but increasingly they are called upon to be problem solvers and to deliver concrete results that produce positive change in people's lives.

    To solve the problems confronting Africa and the world, we need the African Union. We also need Africa's sub-regional institutions, all of whom must help lead the way. Because the results you will achieve will shape the future, first and foremost, of course, for the people of Africa, but also for the people of my country, and indeed for people everywhere because what happens in Africa has global impact. Economic growth here spurs economic growth elsewhere. Breakthroughs in health research here can save and improve lives in other lands. And peace established here makes the world more secure.


    So the United States seeks new and dynamic partnerships with African peoples, nations, and institutions. We want to help you accelerate the advances that are underway in many places and collaborate with you to reverse the dangerous trends and encourage political, economic, and social progress.


    Today, I'd like briefly to discuss three areas, which are areas of emphasis for you and for us and where I think we can make particular progress through regional institutions like the AU. They are democracy, economic growth, and peace and security. These are, of course, the core areas of focus for the African Union, and that's for a reason. All three are critical for a thriving region. All three must be the work both of individual nations and communities of nations. And all three present challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities we must address together.


    First, democracy. Let me begin by saying this is an exciting time for African democracy. More than half the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have embraced democratic, constitutional, multi-party rule. Now, some, like Botswana, Ghana, and Tanzania, have spent decades building strong institutions and a tradition of peaceful, democratic transitions. (Interruption to audio.) When things like this happen, you just keep going. (Laughter.) (Applause.) Now, those countries that I mentioned are models, not only for their neighbors, but increasingly for countries everywhere.


    Other African nations have been also making important advances. In Nigeria, President Jonathan was inaugurated 15 days ago after what many have called the fairest election in Nigeria's recent history. Benin and Malawi both held successful elections this spring, building on previous successful multiparty contests. Kenya's democracy got a boost from last year's referendum on its new constitution. The vote took place without violence, and the constitution, which includes a bill of rights and limits on executive power, passed by a large margin. Niger and Guinea, both of which endured recent military coups, held successful elections in the past year. And in Cote d'Ivoire, the crisis that followed the 2010 elections was finally resolved two months ago with the help of the AU, and the elected winner is now serving as president.


    These are just a few examples of Africa's recent democratic gains. A complete list would fill all the time we have today. In several nations, the institutions of democracy are becoming stronger. There are freer medias, justice systems that administer justice equally, and impartially, honest legislatures, vibrant civil societies.


    Now, much of the credit for these hard-won achievements rightly belongs to the people and leaders of these countries who have passionately and persistently, sometimes at great risk to themselves, demanded that their leaders protect the rule of law, honor election results, uphold rights and freedoms. But credit is also due to the African Union, which has prohibited new leaders who have come to power through military rule and coups from being seated in the organization. The AU and Africa's other regional institutions have also played a pivotal role in ending crises and creating the conditions for successful, democratic transitions, with the AU's work to monitor elections being an especially important contribution.


    But, even as we celebrate this progress, we do know that too many people in Africa still live under longstanding rulers, men who care too much about the longevity of their reign, and too little about the legacy that should be built for their country's future. Some even claim to believe in democracy – democracy defined as one election, one time. (Laughter.) (Applause.)


    Now, this approach to governing is being rejected by countries on this continent and beyond. Consider the changes that have recently swept through North Africa and the Middle East. After years of living under dictatorships, people have demanded new leadership; in places where their voices have long been silenced, they are exercising their right to speak, often at the top of their lungs. In places where jobs are scarce and a tiny elite prospers while most of the population struggles, people – especially young people – are channeling their frustration into social, economic, and political change.


    Their message is clear to us all: The status quo is broken; the old ways of governing are no longer acceptable; it is time for leaders to lead with accountability, treat their people with dignity, respect their rights, and deliver economic opportunity. And if they will not, then it is time for them to go.


    Every country in the world stands to learn from these democracy movements, but this wave of activism, which came to be known as the Arab Spring, has particular significance for leaders in Africa and elsewhere who hold on to power at all costs, who suppress dissent, who enrich themselves and their supporters at the expense of their own people. To those leaders our message must be clear: Rise to this historic occasion; show leadership by embracing a true path that honors your people's aspirations; create a future that your young people will believe in, defend, and help build. Because, if you do not – if you believe that the freedoms and opportunities that we speak about as universal should not be shared by your own people, men and women equally, or if you do not desire to help your own people work and live with dignity, you are on the wrong side of history, and time will prove that.


    The United States pledges its support for those African nations that are committed to doing the difficult but rewarding work of building a free, peaceful, and prosperous future. And we look to institutions like the African Union, that are dedicated to democracy and good governance, to continue to encourage countries to walk that path or risk isolating themselves further.


    Now, of course, creating the conditions that allow people and communities to flourish in a democracy cannot simply be a matter of holding elections; they are a necessary but not sufficient condition. Good governance requires free, fair, and transparent elections, a free media, independent judiciaries, and the protection of minorities. And democracy must also deliver results for people by providing economic opportunity, jobs, and a rising standard of living.


    Now, here, again, the map of Africa is lit up with success stories. Six of the world's 10 fastest growing economies in the last decade are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that percentage is expected to grow in the next five years. At a time when investors everywhere are hunting for promising new markets and worthy new ventures, Africa is attracting attention from all corners.


    But a prosperous future is not guaranteed. Several of Africa's highest performing economies are dependent on a single industry or a single export, often a commodity, which we know can have both good and bad consequences. It can discourage the rise of new industries and the jobs that come with them, and it can concentrate a nation's wealth among a privileged few. Meanwhile, even while growth rates skyrocket in some countries, in others they are rising too slowly and it can take too long for growth on paper to translate into jobs that are spread across a country. But it is this desire that is especially urgent among the youth of Africa that cannot be ignored.


    When we saw the uprisings first in Tunisia and then in Egypt, they were about both political change and economic change. Too many young people said they had studied, they had worked hard. The tragic story of the young vegetable vendor who finally, in great frustration – because no matter how hard he tried, a corrupt regime would not give him the chance to have the sweat of his brow translated into economic benefits for himself and his family. More than 40 percent of the people living in Africa are under the age of 15. It rises to nearly two thirds if we look at under the age of 30. These young people are all coming of age at once and they are all connected. There are no more secrets because of social media, because that incredible technology can inform a young person in a rural area, where there are no roads, but there are cell phones, what is going on in his capital or in neighboring countries.


    Creating jobs and opportunity for these young people is an enormous challenge, and one that I know the African Union is committed to addressing. Your summit later this month is focused on youth empowerment for sustainable development. You are right that young people must be brought into this work themselves, otherwise your hardest working, your best and your brightest, will either be frustrated and act out against the leaders of their country or they will leave to find opportunities in other lands. After all, the people who are speaking out most passionately across Africa are doing so with an eloquence and an advocacy that should, as the older generations, make us proud. These are young people who want to make something of themselves. All they need is the chance to do so.


    Countries such as Zambia, Mali, Ghana, and Rwanda have had strong successes with their approaches to development. They have diversified their economies and created jobs across many sectors, which has helped to decrease poverty. They have continuously reinvested in the foundations of their economies, building roads and power plants and expanding access to financial services so more people can start or grow businesses. Based on lessons we've learned from our work around the world, the United States wants to deepen our partnerships with countries that take a broad-based, inclusive, sustainable approach to growth.


    Now, I will be the first to admit that too much of our development work in the past provided only temporary aid and not the foundation for lasting change that helps people permanently improve their lives and communities. But the Obama Administration is taking a different approach. Our goal is to help countries' economies grow over time so they can meet their own needs. Ultimately, we believe that the most effective development programs are the ones that put themselves out of business because they spark economic activity, they help create strong institutions, they nourish a private sector that, unleashed, will create more jobs.


    And at the same time, we are asking our partners to do their part. How? Increased transparency, strengthen tax systems, fight corruption. Every bribe paid to a customs official or a government employee represents a hidden tax on the cost of doing business and a drag on economic growth. We are making this a priority in our diplomatic engagement, and we look to our partners to take concrete actions to stop corruption. One of the possible benefits of technology is doing what's called electronic government, e-government, putting government services online so you don't have to go through so many hands to get that permit to start a business. And we are encouraging and will work with countries interested in pursuing that kind of opportunity.


    We're also putting a new emphasis on trade. I spoke about this a few days ago at the AGOA Forum in Lusaka. During the past decade, Africa's non-oil exports to the United States quadrupled, and we've only begun to tap the potential. We can and we will trade much more with each other. In fact, we are establishing, with a $120 million commitment over the next four years, trade hubs to help businesses write business plans; to learn how to market their products; to get the kind of technical advice that would not be affordable for a small or medium-sized business.


    Trade should not only, however, increase across the ocean or the sea to Europe and the United States. Trade has to increase across this continent. There is less trade among the countries within Sub-Saharan Africa than within any other region in the world, and yet there are consumers and there are producers, but there are barriers – tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers, longstanding suspicions that have to be overcome in order to take advantage of the economic engine that Sub-Saharan Africa can be.


    I commend those countries and institutions working to accelerate economic integration, such as the East African Community. And last year, the United States became the first country to nominate an ambassador to the EAC, and we are pursuing a partnership to help build a customs union and a common market. And we applaud the efforts that began with the meeting in South Africa, last week, to discuss a tripartite free trade agreement that will lower trade barriers across dozens of countries.


    And the vision of an African common market is worth pursuing. This approach is reflected in our Millennium Challenge Compacts, which form partnerships with developing countries devoted to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in one's citizens. You can see it in our Partnerships for Growth Program: We picked four countries in the world that we thought could put all the pieces together, and two of them are in Africa, Tanzania and Ghana. These nations have made strong commitments to democracy, to their own development progress, and we're stepping up our economic relations with these top performers.


    Another example of our new approach is our Feed the Future food security initiative. We're investing $3.5 billion in 20 focus countries, including 12 in Africa, to revitalize agricultural sectors so you can increase food production and availability, raise your farmers' incomes, decrease hunger and under-nutrition. And through the Feed the Future, we are supporting the AU's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, which, we think, has laid the foundation for more effective agricultural policies across the continent. By investing in agriculture and strengthening nations' food security, we will see economies grow and stability increase.


    There's another important element of sustainable economic development, and that is improvements in health. Right now, several African countries are making great strides in bringing life-saving health interventions to more of their people. Zambia has significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Nigeria has made great progress in fighting polio through renewed vaccination efforts. And Ethiopia has mobilized an army of 30,000 health workers to bring a basic package of care to remote regions. We are backing these kinds of improvements through our Global Health Initiative, which supports country-led programs and helps countries unite separate health programs into one sustainable health system.


    So we are combining our efforts through PEPFAR, through AID, through CDC, and other U.S. Government approaches, because we think health is a critical element of a nation's security. When epidemics are prevented from occurring or ended or controlled quickly, when people can get life-saving care when they need it and return to their jobs and their lives, families are stronger, communities are stronger, and nations are stronger.


    And finally, when it comes to economic opportunity and development, we must empower the continent's women. The women of Africa are the hardest working women in the world. And so often – (applause) – so often what they do is not included in the formal economy, it is not measured in the GDP. And yet, if all the women in Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, decided they would stop working for a week, the economies of Africa would collapse. (Applause.)


    So let's include half the population. Let's treat them with dignity. Let's give them the right and responsibility to make a contribution to the 21st century of African growth and progress. And the United States will be your partner, because we have seen what a difference it makes when women are educated, when they have access to health care, when they can start businesses, when they can get credit, when they can help support their families. So let us make sure that that remains front and center in the work we do together.


    And finally, let me address peace and security. In recent years, a quiet storyline has emerged out of the security challenges that have developed on the continent. More and more, the African Union and Africa's sub-regional organizations and African states, working alone or in concert, are taking the lead in solving Africa's crises. In Somalia, AMISOM, the African Union's peacekeeping mission, thanks to heroic efforts by Ugandan and Burundian soldiers, has helped the Transitional Federal Government make remarkable security gains in Mogadishu over the past couple of months. Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaida, is finally on the defensive, and we see that because they are increasingly resorting to suicide bombers and the targeting of civilians, a sign of desperation.


    Now, we expect Somalia's Transitional Federal Government to create political and economic progress to match AMISOM's security progress. It cannot continue operating the way it has in the past. We look to the TFG to resolve their internal divisions and improve the lives of the millions of Somalis who continue to suffer, and we know that the AU will be their partner in doing so.


    In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we remain concerned about the continued violence against women and girls and the activities of armed groups in the eastern region of the country. Every effort by the AU and UN will be necessary to help the DRC respond to these continuing security crises.


    And then there is the situation in Sudan: South Sudan is less than one month away from becoming the world's newest state. And the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have made laudable progress in implementing certain provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. But recent developments along the border, particularly in the Abyei region, are deeply troubling. The parties must resolve the remaining CPA issues peacefully through negotiations, not violence. And again, the African Union has played a critical role in facilitating negotiations in Sudan. And I also want to thank the prime minister of Ethiopia, our host country, for everything he has done and is doing as we speak today.


    I will have the opportunity later this evening to meet with representatives from both the North and South to add my voice and that of President Obama and my government to the chorus of voices saying the same thing: Resolve your differences, settle the problem in Darfur. And we got some good news out of Doha today that we hope will translate into real progress. But come together and make it possible for both of these countries to have peaceful, prosperous futures.


    And there is, of course, another country whose security matters to all of us, and that is Libya. Libya has been the subject of many of our discussions during the past few months. And I believe there is much on which we can agree. There is little question that the kind of activities that, unfortunately, have affected the Libyan people for more than 40 years run against the tide of history. And there is little question that despite having the highest nominal GDP in Africa, thanks to oil, Libya's wealth was too concentrated within Qadhafi's circle.


    But of course, all the countries here are not in agreement about the steps that the international community, under the United Nations Security Council, have taken in Libya up to this point. Having looked at the information available, the Security Council, including the three African members, supported a UN mandate to protect civilians, prevent slaughter, and create conditions for a transition to a better future for the Libyan people themselves.


    Now, I know there are some who still believe that the actions of the UN and NATO were not called for. And I know it's true that over many years Mr. Qadhafi played a major role in providing financial support for many African nations and institutions, including the African Union. But it has become clearer by the day that he has lost his legitimacy to rule, and we are long past time when he can or should remain in power.


    So I hope and believe that while we may disagree about some of what has brought us to this place, we can reach agreement about what must happen now. For as long as Mr. Qadhafi remains in Libya, the people of Libya will be in danger, refugee flows by the thousands will continue out of Libya, regional instability will likely increase, and Libya's neighbors will bear more and more of the consequences. None of this is acceptable, and Qadhafi must leave power.


    I urge all African states to call for a genuine ceasefire and to call for Qadhafi to step aside. I also urge you to suspend the operations of Qadhafi's embassies in your countries, to expel pro-Qadhafi diplomats, and to increase contact and support for the Transitional National Council. Your words and your actions could make the difference in bringing this situation to finally close and allowing the people of Libya, on an inclusive basis, in a unified Libya, to get to work writing a constitution and rebuilding their country. The world needs the African Union to lead. The African Union can help guide Libya through the transition you described in your organization's own statements, a transition to a new government based on democracy, economic opportunity, and security.


    As we look to the future, we want to work with the African Union not only to react to conflicts and crises but to get ahead of them, to work together on a positive agenda that will stop crises before they start. And I think we can find many areas for collaboration.


    On youth engagement, which is a priority for both the AU and President Obama, we seek to pursue a specific work plan with you. On democracy and good governance we already work together to monitor elections across Africa. Now we need to do more to help countries strengthen democratic institutions. On economic growth and trade the AU plays a major role in building Africa's sub-regional architecture, and we stand ready to support you.


    So I want to commend Africa's institutions for what you have already accomplished, and in some cases, just a few years after your creation. And I will pledge my country's support as you continue this work. Whether you seek to deepen the integration among your members, improve coordination, or reform your operations, we will be with you.


    A good example that the chairman mentioned is what we can offer in the work we are doing to help reform the UN's support for the African Union here in Addis Ababa. The UN and the African Union asked the United States to identify ways their work together could become more effective and strategic. We said yes, and now there are people at the State Department focused on this issue working closely with many of you in this room.


    And as has already been announced, we are rejoining the UN Economic Commission for Africa, another sign of our commitment to engaging with Africa's regional institutions. (Applause.)


    On this trip to Africa, I am reminded every hour that for every challenge now facing Africa, a solution can be found somewhere in Africa. (Applause.) You do not have to look far afield to see political, economic, and social success.


    Earlier I mentioned the Arab Spring, a name that suggests the blossoming of something new. And what is now blooming across the Arab states has already taken root in many African nations, commitment to democracy, recognition of human rights, investment in economic health and education programs, and an emphasis on meeting the needs of our young people.


    Across this continent the work is underway, but there is a long season ahead. So I urge you not to be impatient; do not grow weary while doing good. Keep showing leadership. Keep building a path to a future worthy of the talents and aspirations of the young men and women of Africa. The United States believes deeply in these values. We believe passionately in the promise and potential of pluralistic democracies, of free markets. We welcome to our shores immigrants from every country represented here, and we can see the success stories that so many of them have built in the United States. But I have never met an immigrant from Africa who has not said he or she wished they could have done the very same in their own country, among their own people, close to their family, eating the food, smelling the flowers, seeing the sights that are in their blood. I want to see that for Africa, where people are coming home to Africa because this is where opportunity for the future resides.


    Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)


    Source: US Department of State


    Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time

    14 Jun 2011


    13 Jun 20


    10 Jun 2011








    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Fake Awoists Exposed!


    Hannah Idowu Dideolu (HID) sitting as her great husband of blessed memory stands by her side in their good old days.



    HID attacks fake Awoists
    ~ By Victor Oriola


    YEYE Oodua Hannah Idowu Dideolu (HID) Awolowo yesterday, described the Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation, Sam Omatseye, as a hypocrite over his tirade against the Awolowo dynasty in his back page column in the newspaper last Monday.

    A statement personally signed by the matriarch of the Awolowo family, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Compass, reads: “My attention has been drawn to an article in yesterday’s (Monday) edition of The Nation newspaper, written by one Sam Omatseye and titled ‘Awo family without an Awo’.

    “Ordinarily, I do not join issues with uninformed individuals nor do I comment on articles written in uncouth and downright vile and violent language.

    “Hypocrites that claim to be more catholic than the Pope or more Awoist than his family, when they, in fact, hobnob with so-called pariahs when it suits them and their pockets certainly do not engage my attention, usually.

    “However, this piece, the latest in a long campaign of calumny against my person and family and which, if reports are to be believed, is the opening salvo of a fresh campaign apparently aimed at destroying and demystifying the Awolowo family, deserves an appropriate response, particularly since, we are informed, such campaign has been adopted as the preferred policy and strategy by a particular political party to consolidate its hold on its newly acquired political power base.



    “At 95, I have lived long enough to expect common civility from younger ones, assuming that they received and imbibed proper home training. Having just lost my daughter less than two months ago, I also expect that normal people would spare me the kind of vitriolic attack that was unleashed on my person and my family, particularly as such an attack was entirely unprovoked.

    “It is pertinent to mention here that, for all their protestations as the true children of Awo, the top hierarchy of the leadership of the ACN has not deemed it fit to offer me their condolences on the bereavement either by telephone, letter, or personal visit, up till now.

    “I should certainly not expect anyone in their right mind to, in the same article, rake up the old wounds of the previous tragic loss of my first son and then proceed to question and, indeed, dismiss the notion that he could possibly have been fit to carry his illustrious father’s mantle. All in a bid to situate Mr. Omatseye’s ‘piper’ as the anointed heir of a heritage that can never be purchased.

    “For the avoidance of doubt, my son Olusegun was a graduate of Cambridge University and he was called to the bar in the UK after a stint at the Inner Temple, where his father also studied. These are facts that are open for verification by anyone who wishes to do so.

    “Our expectations of Segun were tragically cut short and it is a cruel irony that a so-called Awoist has chosen to taunt me with this. With friends like this, who needs an enemy?

    “Omatseye claims that, ‘in all his tribulations, the family (Awo) had was not his flesh and blood’.

    “One of the basic tenets of journalism is that facts are sacred but comments are free. Perhaps it should not be surprising that Omatseye failed even in this. I would like to refer him to the dedication contained in Awo’s last book, first published in 1987 ‘The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law’. I quote: ‘To my children, Omotola, Oluwole, Ayodele, Olatokunbo. They also bravely weathered the fierce and howling storm from sixty-two to sixty-six; they suffered mental agony in silence; they provided besides sources of cheer for Papa and Mama, in the four-year long journey through the dark and dreary tunnel’.

    “As for my personal role in my husband’s life before, during and after the crisis, I commend to Omatseye most of his publications, particularly ‘AWO’, ‘My March Through Prison’, and ‘The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law’.

    “It is surely to the utter shame of a so-called avowed Awoist that he has exposed his absolute lack of any knowledge of Awo’s life. I would not be surprised if Omatseye was unaware, as many of his cohorts also appear to be, that I was the first person to use the broom as a party symbol when leading the party’s campaign for the Federal elections that were held during my husband’s incarceration.

    “Omatseye’s dishonest claim of respect for Awo’s thoughts and opinions is further debunked by his notion that Awo was unable to correctly assess his wife of 48 years (at the time of his transition).

    “The abject insult that was heaped on my person by Omatseye, for daring to rise above partisanship and pursue the common good has caused me the kind of pain that can only be dealt with by offering it to God, whose wheel of justice may grind slowly, but is guaranteed to grind exceedingly fine.

    “I notice a reference to ‘dynastic curse’ in the article under reference. I totally reject that in my family, by the blood of Jesus and I decree, by His power, that any contrary pronouncement shall return to its sender.

    “As for the Awo family’s non-attendance at recent inauguration ceremonies, as decent and dignified people we know that etiquette does not permit you to attend functions to which you have not been invited.

    “My daughter, Awolowo Dosumu’s public career and foray into partisan politics had at various times in the past been described in disparaging terms on the pages of The Nation newspaper. The reference to her in the article under reference is, therefore, nothing new.

    “I am glad, however, that, by Omatseye’s own admission and inference, all those who recently assumed governance in the South-West have done so by riding Awo’s coat tail. What baffles me, however, is the inverted logic that suggests that his own daughter had no right to his coat tail while these others do.

    “The mantra when my daughter was contesting, which emanated from the same group that has now metamorphosed into the conquering army of the West, was ‘a o le sin Baba k’a sin omo’ (we cannot serve the father and the child) has obviously been jettisoned as many of the children and spouses of these same people have now emerged winners in various electoral contests. One law for the goose, another for the gander.

    “Like her father before her, she has taken electoral defeat in her stride and has since returned to her profession as an Occupational Health Physician. In other words, she has moved on. It is about time that everyone else did too.

    “In any case, Dr Awolowo-Dosumu’s role and activities at the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation since its inception in 1992 have been acknowledged and recognized, even internationally, by fair-minded people who are not so blinkered by their inordinate desire to ‘own’ a legacy that belongs to all that they become economical with the truth and unleash despicable propaganda against people who have done nothing to deserve it.

    “Only two years ago, the series of activities organized by the Foundation attracted high-level national and international participation and were favourably received by the general public.

    “I recall that some so-called Awoists refused to support the initiative on the pretext that the support of the ‘wrong crowd’ had also been invited. Of course, this did not prevent the full participation of these ‘purists’ in the fund-raising ceremony for Sir Ahmadu

    Bello’s centenary celebrations, an event that was organised by the then governors of the Northern states, none of whom belonged to the party of ‘the perfect ones’.

    “For clarification, I applaud the way in which the governors and all concerned rallied to the cause of celebrating Sir Ahmadu Bello, one of Nigeria’s founding fathers. I simply quote this example to highlight the breathtaking hypocrisy of these modern-day Pharisees.

    “I believed then, and I still believe now that Chief Awolowo’s right to be honoured and celebrated, particularly in the territory in which he held sway and in which he performed the feats for which he will be forever remembered, should not be predicated on political party affiliation.

    “As far as I am aware, Chief Awolowo has not founded any of the political parties existing in Nigeria today. His political associates, those who actually knew him personally and worked with him, can be found in several different parties. Let me remind Omatseye and others like him that Awo expounded the theory of dialectics in his last presidential address to the UPN at Abeokuta in 1983.

    “His thoughts and ideas have been proved beyond any doubt to be the blueprint for Nigeria’s, even Africa’s development and it remains a source of joy to me to see and hear people from all political parties, using him as their roadmap to success in governance. Talk about vindication!

    “I, and my family, refuse, therefore, to be hamstrung or blackmailed into going into the bondage of exclusive association with people who clearly resent and despise us and have made no secret of that fact.

    “We applaud all those who have tried their best to approximate Chief Awolowo’s record of service and we extend our best wishes to those, including those in Omatseye’s list, who are just setting out on their journey of governance. We pray that they may succeed, even as Awo did. “To do so, however, they have to remain faithful to his ideals and work sacrificially, as he did, for the benefit of the people in whose trust they today they occupy high office and whose expectations have been raised that another Awo era has arrived.

    “Finally, let me say this. When last I checked, there was no law in Nigeria that compelled anyone to go into partisan politics. Under a democratic dispensation, freedom of association is also guaranteed.

    “Mr. Omatseye would, no doubt, balk at any suggestion that he should forgo any of his rights as a bona fide citizen of Nigeria, including the above-mentioned rights and liberties, under any circumstances. As my husband always used to say (and include in many of his writings), however, you must always concede the rights to others that you claim for yourself. This is an important lesson for Omatseye.

    “To the uninformed, Chief Awolowo’s legacies begin and end with partisan politics. Those who know better, however, recognise that his legacies as a thinker, visionary and administrator hold far wider and more profound implications for, and potential to impact, posterity. My children know this and remain free to choose, individually and collectively, which aspect of their paterfamilies’ legacy they wish to promote and progress.

    “My family fully recognizes, cherishes and welcomes the larger Awo family, regardless of status or location. But, we will not be harassed into associating with anyone or group, no matter how loudly they proclaim their self-righteousness.

    “Let me end with one of Papa’s favourite quotes: ‘What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just, And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.’”


    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Culture of Resistance coming to Nigeria



    Culture of Resistance coming to Nigeria

    In Nigeria, oil companies have destroyed farmland leaving behind dirty water and no food. When the people began protesting by making flyers and giving speeches the Nigerian government started killing the peaceful protesters, so the next generation has resorted to violence in order to get clean water and food.
    ~ Lara Lee, of Culture of Resistance speaking on her sensational documentary.



    Iara Lee is the director of the harrowing documentary "Cultures of Resistance," produced by George Gunn, and it is going to be shown at the second Eko International Film Festival this summer.

    The production of "Cultures of Resistance" began in 2003 before the Iraq war and it was judged the Best Documentary at the Tiburon 2011 Film Festival.

    "People were being killed and nobody cared. I started looking for small gestures-ordinary people that were relatable," Lee said.
    She said that the documentary covered 25 countries, with interviews done in the native languages. Lee and her crew (which often just consisted of one camera man and if she was lucky, a sound guy) were often deported or imprisoned.

    "I was put in jail in Palestine. You can't bring cameras into a lot of these countries, I just kept trying. Most of the time we were hiding from the governments; even the militants [we filmed] are less dangerous," said Lee.


    ~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima