Unless something is done urgently to address the wide gulf between the rich and the poor, Nigeria and other African countries may be in for an implosion.
A former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, gave the warning on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum currently holding in South Africa.
According to her, the continent is in an abysmal state, because of the failure of leadership.
“We still have the highest number of children dying before that age of five, we still have the highest number of mothers dying needless deaths at child birth, we still have the highest number of our children out of school (some 63 million or there about for the continent), we still have the highest stock of the poor at about 48 per cent on the continent, we still have the lowest indicators on governance across the world,” she told Channels Television’s Johannesburg Bureau Chief, Betty Dibia.
“All of these are challenges that have become almost intractable simply because of the failure of leadership.”
The former minister said people were beginning to ask questions, and if nothing changes, there could be danger ahead.
She said, “The dissatisfaction that comes with inequality is becoming so acute; it’s becoming so accentuated to the point where people ultimately are going to say, ‘do something’.
“They really are saying, ‘We’ve tolerated this for so long. We really need a new conversation.
“The gap between the upper percentile that have and the lowest (people) that are starkly caught in stagnation… the society just set itself up for implosion.”
The Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria has raised an alarm over increasing rate of Non-Communicable Diseases like diabetes, cancer and hypertension in the country.
The association stated this in Ado Ekiti at the 33rd National Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting themed: Non-Communicable Disease Burden: Health System Preparedness in Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening, the Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Dr. Olusegun Elegbede, blamed this on change in lifestyle of people and the economic recession.
According to him, there is evidence that NCDs are undermining the attainment of Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.
“There has been growing burden of NCD and the World Economic Forum has reported it as leading macro-economic risk at global level,” he said.
The National Chairman of APHPN, Professor T.M. Akande, said the conference offered another opportunity to network and rub minds on burning public health issues in Nigeria and the strategies for advancing public health practice in Nigeria.
In a paper entitled, “Nigerian Health System Response to the Emerging Epidemics of NCDs,” the Guest Speaker, Professor Olanipekun Alausa, said chronic NCDs have become more prominent causes of illness, disabilities and deaths.
“In addition, changes in lifestyles and in the environment have increased the morbidity and mortality rates due to NCDs,” he said.
Recommending solutions, Alausa called for the strengthening of health systems with appropriate technologies in tertiary institutions.
According to him, the cost of management must be made affordable and heavily subsidised by the government and other health agencies.
“Affected people with diagnosed NCDs should seek hospital patronage early and desist from consulting and seeking for traditional and religious solutions in the first instance.
“The government should come to the assistance of patients, rather than the patients begging for donations on television stations and social media,” he added.
Ahead of South Africa and Egypt, the International Monetary Fund has affirmed Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa.
Nigeria was reported to have lost its spot as Africa’s biggest economy to South Africa in August 2016, following the recalculation of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, the IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October 2016, puts South Africa’s GDP at 280.36 billion Dollars, from 314.73 billion Dollars in 2015.
Meanwhile, latest estimates from the IMF put Nigeria’s GDP at 415.08 billion Dollars, from 493.83 billion Dollars at the end of 2015.
Although Egypt’s 2016 data was reported as unavailable, its 2015 size remained at 330.15 billion Dollars while that of Algeria, one of the largest economies on the continent, was put at 168.31 billion Dollars.
Global growth is projected to slow to 3.1 percent in 2016 before recovering to 3.4 percent in 2017.
The forecast, revised down by 0.1% point for 2016 and 2017 relative to April, reflects a more subdued outlook for advanced economies following the June U.K. vote in favor of leaving the European Union (Brexit) and weaker-than-expected growth in the United States.
In the IMF’s WEC report released on October 5, Nigeria’s real GDP is expected to increase marginally by 0.6% with Consumer Prices rising by 17.1% also, Fitch ratings on the other hand, also projected a 2.6% growth in Nigeria’s GDP for 2017.
Nigeria’s Current Account Balance is however also forecast to slump further by 0.4% next year.
Beyond 2017, IMF expects global growth to gradually increase by 3.8% in 2021.
This recovery in global activity, which is expected to be driven entirely by emerging market and developing economies, is premised on the normalization of growth rates in countries like Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Latin America, and parts of the Middle East.
Although the global rating agency had reduced its forecast for the country’s 2016 GDP growth to 1% from 1.5% due to weak performance in the first half of the year, Fitch believes the economy will bounce back in 2017 but with downside risks if dollar liquidity remains tight.
Furthermore, Fitch believes that dollar liquidity will not significantly improve until market participants become more comfortable with the sustainability of the exchange-rate level, which is likely to require further narrowing of the spread between the official and parallel market rates.
The rating agency also increased Nigeria’s average CPI forecast for 2016 to 14% from 11% and expects the government to secure financing from multilateral development banks and bilateral sources.
Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, has promised to “bury” the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), whose local offshoot has clashed with government forces and Taliban fighters.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Mr Ghani, said that ISIS was “not an Afghan phenomenon” and that its atrocities had “alienated the people”.
Mr Ghani also called for anti-ISIS action at regional and international level.
“A lot of my diplomacy has been to create the regional consensus, and a region with the inheritance of previous animosities and short-sighted behaviour is something that is going to require effort and focus,” he said.
The Pentagon authorised its troops in Afghanistan to fight ISIS last week after it was designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department and a threat to the US, the BBC reports.
The Taliban movement has also declared its own war with ISIS and members of both groups have engaged in clashes in different parts of the country since ISIS was formed there in January last year.
The US State Department said last week that it had designated the ISIS offshoot in Afghanistan as a terrorist organisation.
It said the group was made up of former members of the Pakistani Taliban and Afghan Taliban.
The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has urged the global community to continue to defy extremists attempts to use religious division as a tool for terrorism.
Addressing a gathering at the World Economic Forum on Friday, Mr Kerry stressed the need for people and nations to come together and defeat the terrorists whom he said were trying to drive people apart.
Coalition To Counter ISIS
He spoke of how people around the world had defied extremists’ attempts to exploit religious divisions, commending efforts by nations, groups, religious bodies and individuals to promote religious unity.
“Governments in Niger and Chad are helping Nigeria to fight Boko Haram. The African Union is coordinating with Somalia to oppose al-Shabaab and the international coalition to counter Daesh [ISIS] now has 65 members and is making steady gains. That coalition is something that the world has not seen before. Its members are drawn from every corner of the globe and they are engaging along multiple lines of efforts.
“Some are training and equipping Iraqi Armed Forces, some are blocking Daeshes money, some are countering terrorist propaganda… All are trying to stop the recruitment of foreign fighters and much of the leadership within the coalition has come from the Arab states because no one knows better than them.
“The truth is that for every act of terrorism, there are multitude of efforts to promote inter-religious prospect imperialism.
“In Kenya, an organisation called Sisters Without Borders, is striving to prevent radicalisation of young people in the Central African Republic.
“In Nigeria, Christian and Muslim leaders have joined ranks to ease sectarian tensions.
“In Norway, more than a thousand Muslims formed a human chain around the synagogue to condemn extremists’ threats against Jews.
“In London, orthodox Jews formed street patrols to shield Muslim neighbours from hit grounds,” the US Secretary of State said.
Resistant To Intimidation
He further pointed out that from country after country, citizens of all backgrounds have responded to deadly attacks by showing resistant to intimidation.
“We will not be split apart and we will not be provoked into abandoning our values.
“We must win the campaign against extremism.
“We should neither resign ourselves to a world where today’s violence and conflict are seen as the new normal nor over-react and “define our adversaries so broadly” that our actions backfire,” he stressed.
He also called for an end to the war in Syria, saying that “nothing would do more to terminate Daesh [ISIS] than an end to the war in Syria. We’ve taken important first steps. Ending the war was a priority for every government in the region, no matter how much they disagreed”.
The United Nations has asked countries of the world to quickly ratify the historical agreement reached at the last climate change deal in Paris, in December.
The call was made by the UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, at the World Economic Forum, in Davos.
It was his first major address at the World Economic Forum and one of his briefest speeches.
He pointed out that natural disasters have undermined the gains made in climate efforts and urged world leaders to join him in the signing of a new Earth Day in April 2016.
Concerned that leaders would make agreements without much commitment, the UN Secretary General reeled out steps to help nations achieve the goals decided at the Paris Summit.
“First, national climate plans must urgently be converted into bankable investment strategies and projects.
“Second, we must generate sufficient financing for developing countries to bypass fossil fuels and meet high energy demands with low carbon sources.
“Third, we need greater attention and resources for climate resilience.
“That is why I launched a new Climate Resilience Initiative in Paris called A2R – to anticipate risks, absorb shocks and adapt development approaches.
“Fourth, we need to rapidly increase climate actions at every level. I will work to help strengthen the action agenda and public-private partnerships.
“Fifth, governments must quickly ratify the Paris Agreement,” he said.
On his plans for a new Earth Day and the need for world leaders to finance energy projects in developing countries, he said, “I am inviting all world leaders to a signing ceremony at United Nations Headquarters on April 22nd.
“Everyone here can take at least one of these steps – and so can billions of other people.
“Let us do our part – and empower them for our common future.”
The UN Chief has also be concerned about an increasing scarcity of water in the world, a precious resource which according to him is crucial to realising the Sustainable Development Goals which aim to eradicate poverty.
While the UN says 90% of all disasters are water related and that by 2050 the world would have just 60% of the water it needs, Mr Ban has invited world leaders to join a panel that will meet regularly between now and 2018 to address the challenges.
The Nigerian government on Wednesday received a commitment from the British government to deploy its intelligence gathering resources in support of Nigeria’s security agencies currently engaged in the search and rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
A statement by the spokesman for President Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said that President Goodluck Jonathan, in a telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, asked and received a promise of the deployment of British satellite imaging capabilities and other advanced tracking technologies in support of the ongoing effort.
President Jonathan thanked Mr Cameron, the British government and people for their concern over the fate of the abducted girls and their willingness to provide concrete assistance to save the girls from the terrorists who seized them from their school on April 14.
He told the Prime Minister that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would liaise with the British government through its high commission in Nigeria to work out practical details of the promised support and collaboration against terrorism.
Mr Cameron had earlier told the British parliament that he would speak with the Nigerian president to discuss how Britain can assist Nigeria in rescuing the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.
He had described the abduction of girls as spoils of terrorism as “pure evil” and stressed the need for world nations to come together in the fight against terrorism.
The peoples’ republic of china has also offered to assist in the effort to rescue the abducted girls.
In talks with President Jonathan earlier on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Premier Li Keqiang promised that his country would make any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services available to Nigeria’s security agencies.
Mr Keqiang assured the President that china would support Nigeria’s fight against terrorism in every possible way, including the training of military personnel for anti-insurgency operations.
The abduction of the girl had triggered protests and drew condemnation from celebrities, groups and governments around the world, with a “Bring Back Our Girl” demand from the Nigerian government and other world leaders.
President Barack Obama had also condemned the abduction,describing it as a terrible and heart breaking situation and sought global action against the Boko Haram sect.
The US government had also sent in Military experts to help rescue the girls abducted by members of the sect.
“Boko Haram, the terrorist organisation, has been operating in Nigeria, killing people and innocent civilians for a very long time,” Obama said.
The group had been terrorising villages in the north east and had of recent carried out two bomb attacks in Nyanya area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, raising security concerns ahead of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Abuja.
Participants from over 80 countries are attending the event that is offering Nigeria an opportunity to woo more investors into Africa’s largest economy.
On this edition of the programme, Law Weekly, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba made compelling submissions on several issues concerning the Nigerian State, including the security challenge and the need or not for decentralisation.
Devolution of powers, revenue sharing, the Nigerian Bar Association on zoning are some of the other issues we discussed.
Also, we report some reactions to the rumoured extension of the National Conference for 6 weeks, which the secretariat denied. However, many people think that’s it’s only a matter of time before there is an extension based on reports that the conference will take a week off for the World Economic Forum.
One of the committees that may require an extension is that on devolution of power. They had an interesting session last week and it’s all captured in this next report.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, a delegate at the conference belongs to the committee on law, judiciary, human rights and legal reform. He shared his views on devolution of power and revenue sharing.
Nigeria’s housing problem can be solved with proper use of co-operative society, a Professor of Estate Management at the University of Lagos, Professor Timothy Nubi, has said.
Professor Nubi, who was a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Business Morning’, says the model of using co-oporative in housing development started in UK where it is called building society and in the US it is known as mutual group.
He believes that with this model, housing can be more affordable.
He says the problem Nigeria is facing is its inability to see housing as a system, a problem he blames on the government.
According to him, the government cannot deliver houses to its citizens until it gets the institutions in place.
Professor Nubi was speaking in the light of the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa, with the theme, ‘Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs’.
Housing has been universally accepted as the second most important human need.
It is a basic need for human survival and an essential component to the advancement of the quality of life of the citizenry.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has assured delegates of the Forthcoming World Economic Forum, Africa of their safety during the conference.
Supervising Minister of Planning, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, also said that measures have been taken to beef up security in and around the Federal Capital Territory.
“I want to assure Nigerians and we want to assure all the delegates coming for the World Economic Forum that adequate arrangement for the security is top on the agenda not even because of the recent happenings on Monday.
“We have about nine committees that are handling various aspects on the World Economic Forum and security is one of the most important committee. It is headed by the Inspector-General of Police, and that goes to show the importance we attach to the security of the delegates coming to ensure their safety and that of all Nigerians during, after and before the event”, he said.
Ambassador Yuguda also acknowledged that some of the benefits of Nigeria hosting the conference include increase in foreign direct investment and sustained economic development, and revealed that the Police IG has assured him that all security arrangements were in place to guarantee the safety of all the delegates.
He also appealed to Nigerians to support the Federal Government towards achieving adequate security in the country.
As Nigeria prepares to host the 25th Edition of the World Economic Forum on Africa, the Federal Government has been advised to use the opportunity to push for policies that will engender growth and development.
This advice came from an Industrialist and the Managing Director, Coleman Wires and Cable, Mr George Onafowokan. He was Channels Television’s guest on its Business Morning programme.
Mr Onafowokan said the theme of the forum, ‘Forging Inclusive Growth and Job Creation’ was in the right direction but that the forum should be made to stimulate the thinking of those in government to look inward and come up with policies that would bring about added value.
According to him, government needs to move away from oil and look into the real sector if it must achieve economic diversification.
The World Economic Forum on Africa is scheduled to hold between May 7 and 9 in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory.