Sunday, April 26, 2015

PDP Chief: How Dame Patience Caused Jonathan's Defeat

According to Osom Makbere, the Peoples Democratic Party, Public Secretary in Bayelsa State, President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election due to the divisions in the PDP fold and the overbearing attitude of the President's wife, Dame Patience, also contributed to the president's loss.

In a Punch report, he said: "Jonathan was a victim and target of international cum domestic esoteric codes and conspiracies. On the international level, the passage of the anti-gay legislation led to criticisms and face-off with the US, and the West.

"The strides made in the economic sphere, especially domestic rice promotion, calculated by the Jonathan administration to flip economic growth, and boost import substitution, also negatively alerted the West. The shift to China for our railway transformation, and recently, the migration to Russia for arms and ammunition to quelling the insurgency also signalled to the West that Jonathan had started constituting a self-reliant and dependent nation-state, a feat seen too tall by the US and their allies in the West.

"The aforesaid international factors found room to flourish given the obstinacy and impudence on the part of Mrs. Jonathan. The end result of her personal ambition to plant 'self-made' governors triggered face-offs with some governors."
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Emeka Ike Exposes Producers Who Sleep With Actresses For Movie Roles

Nollywood actor and producer, Emeka Ike, is still not happy with the way the Actors' Guild of Nigeria is being run by the Ibinabo Fiberesima led executive and says the body can only be compared to the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, where producers sleep with actresses to give them role while they practice homosexuality with the males.

Emeka is seen as a rebel of some sort and he is not shirking from that toga vowing to do whatever it takes to resuscitate the ailing Nollywood and wrest power from those killing the sector.

Speaking to journalists at the 2nd edition of the City People's Political Award held not long ago in Lagos, the enfant terrible of the Nigeria movie industry, said few people now take the industry as their personal property and have been running it like a fiefdom, not wanting to open up to others. Emeka went on to mention names of producers he feels are ruining the affairs of Nollywood. He said:

"There are five people who have taken the laws of Nigerian movie industry into their hands. They are Emma Ogugua, Murphy Stephen, Sunny McDon, Okey Bakassi and Ifeanyi Dikeh.

"These five people registered Actors Guild of Nigeria as their personal business. No other individual can come in.

"My first concern is to clean up Nollywood, clean up AGN. Every Nigerian youth want to act movies now, what future are we leaving for them? Where are they going to write their names?

"The two bedroom in Surulere where they would ask you to come and grace their beds before they give you roles? Where they would make you join a gay group or lesbian group before they talk to you?

"Nollywood has gotten so bad that you must either strip and grace their beds or join the gay or lesbian group to belong.

"The people at the helm of affairs are the ones killing Nollywood. Some of us the well-known actors don’t even know their rights. I dare say it again, they don't. Nobody can come out to challenge me.

"We built this industry with pain. Those who are at the helm of affairs now, people don't even know them in the movies. They just came in and messed everything up.

"Ibinabo has been acting as the president of AGN for years now, but with her case as an ex-convict, do you have any moral justification to recognize her as the president? The court case is still on and the war continues.

"That wasn't the industry I founded. My daughter will not to go into that industry tomorrow and they would say she must sleep with one of them to get a role. Neither would my son be a part of Nollywood that is full of immoralities."
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How The Church Is Leading Many To Hell

Singer turned writer, Etcetera, is known for writing controversial opinion articles on various trending topics in the country and he is back with a new one, but this time, its about Christians, Christianity and how the present day church is taking millions of Christians to hell fire. Read the intriguing piece below:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. – Revelation 3:19.

Much of the church today is living a lie. Many of you have been told continuously that you are saved and headed for heaven. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many of you are heading directly to hell. The systemised lying that is going on in the church has deceived the pastors and the people alike. It is a case of the blind leading the blind. You all need to pray – fervently because many of you are “lost”. No matter what you call me, no matter how you view this issue, no matter what position you have, no matter what church you attend, you have to admit that something is wrong with the church.

Below are eight facts why the church is leading you straight to hell:

1. There is almost no evidence whatsoever that the early church had their “services” on a Sunday. They gathered together ‘from house to house’ virtually every day! People did not dress up and “go to church.” There were no denominations or separate groups with different ‘labels.’ They lived their lives together – And the apostles in Jerusalem preached everyday at a huge open-air gathering, not “hidden away” inside four walls. Church buildings do not exist in the Bible. They were invented around 200-300 AD, when the church was in serious decline. Church buildings are anti-New Testament, and they bring with them a host of problems and traditions. It was when the church fell into the hands of Rome that this concept of the “cathedral” took over. And today, we are still spending millions building these beautiful monuments while the worshippers are starving.

2. The words “prosper” or ‘prosperity’ were NEVER used by Jesus at all – and only mentioned a few times in the entire New Testament. Yet our greedy pastors have built kingdoms upon them. The words – “sell what you have and give to the poor” and “deceitfulness of riches” and “you cannot serve God and mammon” and “woe to you that are rich” were DEFINITELY used by Jesus and the apostles, but you don’t hear them preached by your pastors, do you?

3. Tithing is not a New Testament practice at all. And it is being shamefully abused by today’s preachers. In the Old Testament, tithing was only applicable to Jews and to the land of Israel and that was at a time when a great number of them lived in Babylon, Ammon, Moab, Egypt and Syria. As a result of that, the land they occupied became tithe-able lands. Tithes were not acceptable from Gentiles’ lands. So my brothers and sisters, you need to ask your pastor why he is collecting tithes here in Nigeria. Also, the only people authorised to receive tithes were the Levites – (Hebrews 7:5). If your pastor is collecting tithe from you, ask him if he’s from the tribe of Levi. Even Jesus who was a Jew couldn’t collect tithes because he wasn’t from the tribe of Levi but from that of Judah. And if your pastor insists that being a worker in the lord’s vineyard qualifies him as a Levite, please remind him that Levites had no land and did not own properties.

4. The Jesus of today’s church is a “Father Christmas,” a Jesus who exists mainly for our own “happiness;” a Father Christmas who wants to rain down continual blessings upon us; a Jesus of grace and mercy without judgement, righteousness or truth. Our gross misrepresentation of who Jesus really is, is one of the most serious offences of today’s church. We worship a “plastic” Jesus – one that we have painted in our own image. What an offence to God.

5. What we have today are churches that are so loose that they excuse any sin or misconduct, including homosexuality and adultery. Aren’t we supposed to accept only the truth of God’s word? But instead, we have opted for a modern church that is socially based, smooth and sophisticated, and presented like a Nollywood movie with men and women of ogboni fraternity dressed in their occultic regalia occupying special seats during services. Something is wrong!

6. What happened to the strong calls for repentance that brought thousands down to the altar to repent and ask Jesus Christ to save their souls? This is the litmus test for Christianity; it is the essence of the Cross; it is the great commission that Jesus commanded us with. If your church is not winning souls, then it is like a barren woman, and it is a shame. Something is wrong!

7. What happened to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost? Do we even know what it means anymore to feel the presence of the Spirit of God descend on a service and fill up the room with holiness? Or we just love that party atmosphere and excitement when the choir plays a boogie-down song? Or we love to scream “ride on pastor” in the excitement we get when some charismatic preacher works the crowd? It’s been so long we’ve felt the presence of the Holy Spirit that we don’t know what it is anymore. Something is definitely wrong!

8. Lots of pastors are aware that there is something very wrong with the church today. They know there is little ‘fear of the Lord.’ They know there is no deep repentance or deep moving of the Holy Spirit.

They know that it is just the same old “game” being played every week. A lot of them are very aware of this, but they will not do anything about it. They will not rock the boat. And they will destroy anyone who comes along trying to do something.

They do not want any reforms. There is too much to lose. They have their careers and their “kingdoms” at stake. This is the truth of the matter. Most of you are worshippers of your pastors and not God. Many of you are hell bound. So pray my brothers and sisters. Pray for your souls. Let me stop here and leave room for you to call me names. But do remember that the church is leading you to hell – not me!
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South Africa Winds Up Relief Camp For Foreign Nationals

The camp in Mayfair.
Johannesburg, South Africa - Government-operated temporary shelters for foreign nationals displaced by xenophobic violence in Johannesburg have now been closed, officials have told Al Jazeera.

Zweli Dlamini, a spokesperson for the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, said late on Saturday that local leaders in affected communities had assured authorities that foreign nationals would be secure after a series of meetings between government, police officers and community leaders.

“We only moved them when we were given assurance that their safety is guaranteed,” Dlamini said.

“We started the re-integration process on Thursday and we only had about 128 people left in the camp after that, which we then cleared this morning.”

At least eight people were killed in a wave of xenophobic violence that erupted on March 30 in Durban, the capital of eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

The violence displaced thousands in the port city before spreading to areas in and around country’s commercial hub, Johannesburg.

Johannesburg’s Primrose camp, which opened on April 16, initially sheltered 400 to 500 people. Later almost 1,000 foreign nationals took refuge here.

In next-door Cleveland, a few hundred more people found respite in a community hall.

In the suburb of Mayfair in Johannesburg, Gift of the Givers, a nongovernmental organisation, is still running a camp that hosts more than 130 displaced people.

While tensions have largely dissipated in Johannesburg, an official at the Gift of the Givers camp said the number of displaced had doubled in the past three days.

Sam Bila, a 32-year-old Mozambican national living at the camp, said he was ready to return to Primrose. He said he lost his life savings of $700 when his house was looted during the violence.

“I haven’t earned anything in days and I have to look after my family, so it is time to return,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, there was some confusion at the Primrose camp when the station commander of the town’s police station told activists he had not been informed of the camp’s closure.

Activists said it was a matter of concern that the police were unaware of the details of the re-integration processes despite the camp being directly opposite the local police station.

“Personally, I think its just an attempt to come up with a temporary solution for an almost permanent problem,” Bonnie Chinanikire, 29, who has been helping to provide food and clothing for victims for the past week at the camp, said.

Chinanikire also said that she was concerned that the camps were being closed as part of a government PR exercise to project “a return to normality” in advance of Freedom Day on April 27.

But Dlamini, the Ekurhuleni Municipality spokesperson, said there was no pressure to close the camps ahead of April 27.

“Remember we do not want to force the people back into those communities when they are not ready because that is actually very dangerous,” she said.

In the first wave of re-integration involving inmates of the Primrose camp, the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality provided families with food and sanitation hampers on Thursday before transporting them to the areas affected by violence.

Up to 5,000 people remain in camps in Durban, where the violence initially began on March 30.

By Al Jazeera
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Down To Zero: Recovering From Ebola In Sierra Leone

Abdul Kamara.
Kagbantama, Sierra Leone - In just one month Abdul Kamara, 18, lost his entire family to Ebola.

"My brothers, my sister, my father, my uncle, my grandmom - all of them [died]," he said, recalling how the disease killed all eight people living with him in his father's home in northwestern Sierra Leone.

In total, 90 people died from Ebola in Kagbantama - a dusty collage of mud brick structures of just 1,000 inhabitants where Abdul has lived his entire life.

The United Nations predicts the Ebola outbreak will be over by August 2015, more than a year after it started in Sierra Leone in May of 2014.

Since then the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Sierra Leone had 12,138 cases of Ebola - the most of all countries affected by the outbreak.

Almost one-third of these cases proved fatal. While mortality rates are an indication of the clear-and-present danger Ebola presents, a wider appraisal of the disease's impact indicates its long-term consequences may span generations.

Setting back the young

An assessment conducted by BRAC - Sierra Leone, an international development organisation, in communities around the country found many children and youth share Abdul's fate.

Discussions with health workers in Kagbantama for the assessment revealed "the biggest effect [of Ebola] is that there have been more orphans in the village than before".

An estimated 12,000 orphans live in Sierra Leone, according to Street Child UK, with more than one-third coming from the same district as Abdul.

Having lost one or both parents, many are left without financial and emotional support at a critical point in their lives. Health workers especially fear there will be more dropouts from schools because of a loss of parents and relatives from Ebola.

Abandoned educations will lead to fewer future employment opportunities for those affected.

Today, Abdul only survives with the help of his community. Neighbours help him with food, however, he also receives financial assistance from BRAC - Sierra Leone.

He invested an $80 grant from BRAC into a small business buying and selling mobile phone credits. Abdul earns about $4.50 in profit per week from this.

He admitted this amount is insufficient and said he worries about paying his university fees when schools reopen. Before Ebola, that was a bill Abdul's father paid.

Now that he is alone, his ambition of becoming a lawyer has been supplanted by the need to survive.

History repeated

It is from this grim vantage point that Abdul and other Sierra Leoneans look forward to "getting to zero cases", and eventually rebuilding their lives.

Kagbantama has not had a case of Ebola since February, thanks in part to the Ebola Community Care Centre (CCC) that was constructed in the village with international assistance.

Yet, even after their country is officially Ebola-free, many will be starting over from scratch.

In March, West African leaders called for a "Marshall Plan" to help with regional reconstruction after Ebola, saying the region is "coming out of a war" with its economy and public services decimated.

It is the second time that Sierra Leone will attempt such a recovery in less than 15 years. When Ebola hit, the country was still rebuilding from a civil conflict that ended in 2001.

The war left an estimated 70,000 people dead and displaced roughly 2.5 million people. As Dr Muctarr Amadu Sheriff Jalloh, a former president of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, once explained: "The civil war brought all of the health and economic infrastructures down to zero during the 10 years."

History seems to be repeating itself. Government restrictions on travel and public gatherings, together with the closure of markets, have severely impeded many business activities.

In the agricultural sector - where most of the population works - fields remain fallow, seeds rotted, and food stores depleted.

According to Kumarabai Kamara, administrative head for Kagbantama, there is no rice left.

"We had been in farming, but now there is no more farming," he said. "There are no farming implements, and when the [Ebola] crisis came, all the rice rotted."

Official forecasts for food production in Sierra Leone in 2014 were already revised down by 6.4 percent since the onset of the Ebola outbreak.

Torn social support networks

The crisis has also frayed already-thin social safety nets. A United Nations assessment of the socioeconomic impacts of Ebola indicates that cuts in expenditures on non-Ebola related healthcare have combined with fears of infection to produce a dramatic fall in the use of services.

In particular, teenage pregnancy is increasing, as many young girls are forced to barter sex for income and food or resort to early marriage in order to survive, further straining maternal health services already in critical condition.

If the situation does not improve, more people will die from childbirth, malaria, and AIDS, as well other preventable or curable ailments.

After its civil war, Sierra Leone relied heavily on international help in its economic, social, and political reconstruction. Healthcare facilities were rebuilt, expanded, and equipped. Health professionals were trained and management and data systems were improved.

Before the Ebola crisis started, there were about 100 registered health partners assisting with finances and technical services in the country. In the process, health indicators had slowly been improving as well.

But after Ebola struck, that progress came screeching to a halt.

Holding on to hope

Abdul was four-years old when Sierra Leone's civil war ended, a time during which he was "very sick ... and barely survived". Just having endured another national crisis, he said he still feels "a lot of pain" but remains hopeful.

For Abdul and other Sierra Leoneans, this is a critical period. The steps taken over the next year or so will determine the course for personal, community, and national development for many years to come.

So far no "Marshall Plan" for West Africa exists, though the heads of the most affected countries have stressed the "importance of maintaining international engagement with the recovery and development process in the Ebola-affected countries".

According to Abdul, help from abroad will be important to post-Ebola recovery, and should focus on two important areas: "To help the children go to school and to improve the hospitals."

This will help prevent another crisis, he said.

Abdul said he will overcome the personal difficulties he faces "with the help of the almighty, and the others".

"I still have the talent to go further … and, yes, I feel hope for the country," he said.

By Dariusz Dziewanski, Al Jazeera
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Malaria Breakthrough: Can It Be Eradicated? | Video

The vaccine is called RTS,S and is designed for children in Africa. It would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria, which currently kills more than 600,000 people a year.

The shot is expected to be approved for use in the continent from October after final trial data showed it offered partial protection for up to four years.

So, can Malaria be eradicated?

Presenter: Martine Dennis

Guests: Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University where he specialises in human genetics.

Rayaz Malik, a professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College here in Qatar.

Vasee Moorthy from the World Health Organization.

Kwaku Poku Asante, head of Research at Kintampo Health Research Centre.

Click here to watch The Inside Story.

By Al Jazeera
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Desperate Measures For African Migrants

Charkos township in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is no different from many other townships in Africa.

The same iron sheet shanties, dirt alleys, poor sanitation.

The stories from those who live in similar neighbourhoods across Africa are also similar.

Poverty, a sense of hopelessness, crime. There are some positive stories too….but very far in between the negatives.

What sticks out in Charkos though is the overwhelming desire by so many young people to leave, not just the township, but Ethiopia. To risk dangerous sea and desert routes, pay smugglers thousands of dollars cobbled together by poor family members to get to Europe or to Gulf countries.

We are at a vigil for Elias, Biruk and Bekele. They grew up dreaming of one day leaving the township, having a better life in another continent far from home.

They were killed by ISIL fighters alongside other Ethiopian migrants in Libya as they tried to make that dream a reality.

Bekele’s mother told us that she did not even know her son had left until he called her from Sudan, asking for money to pay smugglers to help him travel through the Sahara desert and into Libya. From there he hoped to cross the Mediterenean sea to Italy and then onwards to his European country of choice, which he had not decided yet.

Five of those who were killed including Bekele were from Charkos.

I spoke to a dozen or so of their friends who were at the vigil. They saw them off two months ago.

Here’s how the conversation went.

Question: Why did your friends leave?

Answer: They were good people looking for a better life. Ethiopia was not enough for them anymore, not enough for any of us.

Question: What is so wrong with being home, trying to make a life here?

Answer: There are no opportunities. If I don’t go, I’m stuck here with nothing to do and I don’t want to be a burden to my family.

Question: But knowing what you do about how dangerous the journey is -would you still do it, still risk death?

Answer: I know it’s dangerous, but I might be one of the few to make it safely so yes, I’d take the risk.

Question: It’s a very expensive trip, no less than $3000. Surely with that kind of money, you can start a business here.

Answer: Our families can’t give us money while we’re here. They only help when there’s a plan to leave, because they’re more certain that eventually send the money back.

Michael Girema is only 20 and he’s already attempted the journey. In March this year, he crossed in to Sudan and paid smugglers to take him to Libya and onwards by boat to Italy. He only got to the Libyan border. His smugglers disagreed on payment with the border police. They were returned to Sudan and the money they had paid for the first part of the journey was never refunded.

“The journey is very hard” he told us, “the smugglers don’t care about anything but money.”

I asked him if he’d make the trip again.

“Yes, not now, I don’t have the money and it’s dangerous but when it’s calmer, I’ll try again.”

While being poor is a driving force for people leaving Ethiopia, some analysts argue that besides poverty, there’s a decades long fixed mentality that life is better abroad, blinding many to the possible opportunities at home.

Mehari Taddele Maru who once worked at the African Union ‘s human migration docket and is now a consultant on migration, peace and security put it this way;

“Previously, during the military regime there was a saying that you have to get out of the country through Bole, the airport, or Bale,the desert. That actually explains the mindset that existed for many years, decades and this mindset, this collective social psychology of going to dream land,countries of destination with plenty of opportunities has been a driving factor.”

The government has set up several vocational workshops to empower young people. It also gives low interest loans to youth and women groups with good business ideas, the main focus is agriculture.

But some people we talked to either did not know about these government facilities or said they are too hard to access.

As long as there’s poverty, civil strife, repression and a strong conviction that life is better on the other side, people will always find ways of trying to get there. How to deal with dangerous loopholes is what is crucial.

By Catherine Wambua-Soi, Al Jazeera
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Burundi President To Run For Third Term Despite Protest

Burundi’s president has been declared as candidate for a controversial third term in office, his ruling party announced, despite mounting protests over the move that the opposition says is unconstitutional.

There was tight security as the ruling CNDD-FDD party opened a special congress on Saturday morning, during which Pierre Nkurunziza was officially designated as the party’s candidate.

“We wish to announce to the national and international community that the member who has been selected to represent us in the elections is Pierre Nkurunziza,” the head of CNDD-FDD, Pascal Nyabenda, announced after a party meeting.

He said Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader who has already served two-terms as president, “has the right to be elected”.

Delegates underwent thorough searches before being allowed into the venue. Police and soldiers have also been deployed on the streets of Bujumbura since Friday evening.

No Western ambassadors were present at the congress – a sign of unease among key donors over Nkurunziza’s bid to stay put. Only the Russian ambassador and several regional diplomats were present.

Fears over violence

There are fears that the political crisis, during which President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has also been accused of intimidating opponents, could push Burundi back into violence.

The country, situated in Africa’s troubled Great Lakes region, only emerged from civil war in 2006.

The opposition has vowed to take to the streets to challenge Nkurunziza’s candidacy for the June 26 presidential elections. They argue his refusal to step aside violates the constitution as well as the peace deal that ended the civil war.

An AFP reporter said many residents could be seen doing last-minute shopping in an apparent bid to stockpile supplies just in case unrest breaks out.

In addition to banning all demonstrations, the government has also threatened to call out the army.

The influential Catholic Church has also spoken out against the president’s plans to stay put, and earlier this month UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned that the country was at a “crossroad” between a fair vote and a route back to its “horrendously violent past”.

Refugee crisis

Thousands of Burundians have fled the country in recent weeks to neighbouring Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the UN’s refugee agency, which has also warned that the numbers of refugees could swell “with more political tension rising and more acts of violence being reported”.

Many are fleeing threats by the pro-government militia Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party. Rights groups allege that the militia has been armed and trained over the past year in order help Nkurunziza stay in office.

Many residents of Bujumbura also left the city for the weekend, amid fears of violent clashes.
Burundi’s constitution only allows a president to be elected twice – for a total of 10 years in power – but Nkurunziza argues he has only been directly elected by the people once.

For his first term, beginning in 2005, he was selected by parliament. The opposition boycotted the last elections in 2010, alleging fraud.

By Al Jazeera
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