Archive | March, 2015

Labour Unions Locked-Out of Nigeria’s Presidential Election

23 Mar

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

In the closest fought election in Nigeria’s history, a powerful segment of Nigerian society, organised labour, has surprisingly been locked-out by both major candidates and both major parties. Just a few years ago, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) organized a nation-wide shutdown in Nigeria called #OccupyNigeria in response to current Jonathan-led administration’s attempt to remove the “subsidy” on domestic oil prices. The protest brought Nigeria to a standstill and was one of the most effective collective action protests in Africa to date. Now just a few years later, they are completely muted in the incredibly close contest between the opposition candidate General Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC), and the incumbent President Jonathan. The question is, why has neither party been able to secure the support of NLC during this closely fought race?

Labour leaders have been at odds with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of incumbent president Jonathan for the past 16 years. Nation-wide strikes have attacked their policies and forced concessions from the administration, dealing them public and embarrassing defeats. Labour also had major disputes with previous PDP presidents and administrations and successfully waged campaigns against them also. It is actually not that surprising that the ruling PDP and incumbent President Jonathan does not include organised labour as a core piece of their coalition in the upcoming election. It would likely be an insurmountable tasks, from the years of bad blood and bitter conflicts with labour for Jonathan himself to reach out to them in any tangible way to secure their support in the upcoming election. If anything he and his party should have been bracing for the impact of labour forming an alliance with the APC opposition.

The All Progressive Congress (APC), united opposition parties against incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP in his bid to win reelection in 2015. The group brought most opposition parties under one roof and using the united broomstick of the opposition swept through the ruling party securing defections of many sitting governors and lawmakers from under the umbrella of the ruling party. By doing this the APC united opposition presented itself as a formidable force actually capable of unseating the ruling PDP. From among its collection of candidates the APC selected General Buhari as their presidential candidate in December 2014 in Surelere Lagos. After securing the nomination the APC and Buhari launched a nation-wide campaign for the upcoming election. Till this day, organized labour is not part of their coalition for victory. Despite using the word “progressive” in their name why has the APC failed to bring organized labour into their fold? Perhaps even more significant, why has General Buhari himself failed to coopt organised labour into his campaign to unseat incumbent President Jonathan?

Buhari spoke at the NLC national convention in February in an attempt to woo delegates for support. At a separate forum organized by the TUC one of his aides promised that the APC would implement a living-wage instead of a minimum wage policy, which was more than what his PDP rival offered. However given that there does not appear to be enough money to pay for this empty promise, this has not swayed labour decisively into the APC camp or brought them behind the candidacy of the APC standard bearer General Buhari. The APC as a party has a mixed record with labour. Currently organized labour are protesting the Lagos State’s government plan to privatise water, a move they say will raise the cost on average Lagosians and marginalize labour. Lagos State is run by the APC and a prominent supporter of Buhari, Governor Fashola. Despite paying lip service to labour, when it comes time to take a hard stance to support them, even when it means confronting his key supporters, Buhari has chosen to do nothing. It appears organised labour in Nigeria has taken Buhari’s actions, or lack thereof, to mean more than his words. The APC agenda has not embraced progressive principles. While they once again pay lip service to the increased in wealth of the affluent in Nigeria, stating how the country is among the top markets for private jets in the world, they have provided no concrete policy stances of how they intend to redistribute wealth from the top. Buhari himself has also been mute on this and has said nothing about how he intends to tackle increasing inequality in Nigeria, choosing instead to focus all his attention and put all his eggs in the corruption basket. These clear inconsistencies demonstrate unequivocally that Buhari is not an ally of organised labour any more than the incumbent President Jonathan. When given the opportunity he will not fight for them.

Much to the delight of incumbent President Jonathan, Buhari and the APC has failed to enlist organized labour as a core ally in the upcoming election. Neither the TUC or NLC has endorsed a candidate, and neither group is actively campaigning to get out the vote for either of the major candidates. As Buhari and the APC are out trying to get out the vote in these last days, the failure of Buhari himself to decisively win over organised labour could prove costly. Labour’s support would have been very useful to energize and sure-up support amongst the marginalized and apathetic electorate, many of whom are yet to decide whether or not they will even bother to brave the insecurity and violence to cast their vote. If the election comes down to the wire and Buhari and the APC find themselves on the losing side, there should be a lot of re-thinking and re-examining their reluctance to truly embrace progressive wealth redistribution policies and their failure to fight for organized labour and co-opt them into their campaign.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to www.kaglobal.net. © Copyright 2014 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 212.363.0936
david.kuranga@kaglobal.net
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com
http://us.macmillan.com/thepowerofinterdependence/DavidOladipupoKuranga

Buhari & Jonathan Cannot Explain How they Will Pay for Campaign Promises

17 Mar

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Less than 10 days before the rescheduled Nigerian presidential election, neither major political party or candidate has provided a single iota of explanation as to how they intend to pay to run the government in the immediate future, yet alone finance all their development promises. Without a plan to pay for government Nigerian people should understand that there is absolutely no validity whatsoever in the stances and promises from either political party. Right now the Nigerian currency, the naira is arguably the worst performing currency in the world. While others countries that are close to Nigeria in fiscal instability have support from the EU and other major donors who have a vested interest in them, Nigeria has nothing substantial lined-up. Not surprisingly Nigerian capital markets are suffering from massive capital flight and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has been forced to devalue the naira to record lows causing inflation throughout the country.

In a climate like this financing the government and pulling the country back on track, to achieving fiscal stability as fast as possible should be the top priority. That will require the government to find new ways to finance itself outside of oil. It is clear that the APC and Buhari do not realize this. They instead have filled the public with stories of rampant corruption (that does not include themselves) and painted the picture that as long as that stops everything will be just perfect. That is a myth. Even if one were to accept the most egregious tales of corruption and assume they were stopped tomorrow, it is not enough to give Nigeria fiscal stability. In order to avert a major crisis the country must diversify its source of revenue immediately so that by the end of 2015 the state is pulling-in 10s of billions of dollars from other sources outside of oil. The plans being promoted for diversification of industry will take years so they are not real tangible solutions to present problems at all. The ruling PDP, has failed miserably over the years to diversify the states source of revenue. The Ministry of Finance, has done very little in this regard and deserves most of the blame for these failures.

The solution to all this is actually quite simple. The wealthy 2% in Nigeria have become drastically richer over the last decade, yet they have not been required to pay into the state that has made them so fabulously wealthy. In my recent article “Taxing Nigeria’s Rich“, I outline several measures designed to take an minimum average of 2000 dollars a year from each of the 5 million members of the nations elite. This is however not an end, it is just the starting point. An owner of a basic 300,000 dollar property in a major global city would be subject to 4-6 thousand dollars a year in property taxes alone. In addition, those homeowners would face income taxes that would be deducted by their employers, and other sales taxes and user fees that are seldom found in Nigeria. Even ordinary parking meters on public streets are not used in Nigeria’s major cities when most countries use them even in small towns. There is a virtual plethora of options for government at all levels in Nigeria to increase their revenue, so much so, that the primary source of revenue for the Nigerian government should not be oil but rather its own people. The internal revenue by right should record two to three times as much revenue as the national petroleum corporation, and any competent minister of finance should realize that and implement it the necessary reforms. However both the APC and the PDP are truly elitist parties that are filled with people who are not at all disposed to leveling higher tax burdens on themselves and their colleagues among the upper-elite. Lagos State, run by an APC Governor, is privatizing the water corporation in order to reduce state spending and raise capital. While Lagos State has embarked on a taxing programme, the have ignored parking fees as a major source of revenue, and have not really instituted progressive measures to significantly target the super wealthy throughout the state. In fact some of the major candidates for high-office in that state from both parties are known to be tax-evaders even as they are campaigning for the governorship. There is no reason to assume that any of these political parties would support the necessary revenue generating taxation measures to redistribute wealth from Nigeria’s rich and achieve fiscal stability. The fact that they have been silent on it throughout the entire extended campaign is very telling.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the umbrella union for most workers in the country, has had to organize against both the APC and the PDP alike. Labour has no progressive political leaning option to chose from in this election and no candidate that they can rely on to implement the needed redistributive changes that Nigeria needs to see immediately. To make matters worse, there does not appear to be much pressure on either candidate to embrace progressive principles. Both are able to make empty promises, parade around the country with incomplete visions in the case of the APC and failed governance in the case of the PDP. Regardless of who wins, the nation will ultimately be left in the same or worse place than it is in today no matter who is elected. The opposition APC has not done what is required to distinguish itself as an alternative to the PDP, and the PDP’s record and dismal failures and incompetence especially in Finance and Trade speak for themselves. The Nigerian media is among the most compromised aspect of society, with various media houses openly serving as mouth-pieces for either of the two major parties. It is known that Nigerian media outlets sell space in their publication to the highest bidder, running stories, offering air-time, and distribution to special interests or whoever pays, so the public cannot rely on Nigerian media anymore than they do on incompetent and corrupt governance. Moving forward, it is clear that collective action bodies like NLC are the last real hope Nigeria has to achieve the real change and the real reforms that the country so badly needs.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to www.kaglobal.net. © Copyright 2014 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 212.363.0936
david.kuranga@kaglobal.net
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com
http://us.macmillan.com/thepowerofinterdependence/DavidOladipupoKuranga

Claims of Mercenaries in Nigeria are Baseless Propoganda

15 Mar

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Recent claims in the New York Times and other outlets that Nigeria is using mercenaries in the successful ongoing campaign to wipeout Boko Harams territorial gains before the general election slated for March 28 are baseless. Nigeria has indeed acknowledged the presence of technical advisors and trainers it retained in connection with the delivery of long awaited military hardware it recently acquired to aid in the fight. The equipment appears to have come from sources that Nigeria typically does not use when procuring advanced weapons, so it makes sense that their personnel would require training in operating, maintaining, and repairing the new equipment. There does not appear to be any evidence at all that the technical advisors in Nigeria are doing anything more than this. In fact, during the campaign, the Nigerian military along with its allied neighbors, working along the Nigerian borders to cut off supply and escape routes that had been used by Boko Haram until recently, have suffered casualties. Almost every major advance that Nigerian forces have recorded, retaking around 40 towns and now holding Boko Haram to just a couple local government towns in Borno State including Gwoza, Nigerian forces have suffered casualties. However, there have been no reported casualties of any mercenaries whatsoever. The only casualty was a friendly fire incident where Nigerian troops mistakenly fired on a technician and several other Nigerian troops that were working alongside them killing all of them. If indeed mercenaries were doing the bulk of the fighting at night on Nigeria’s behalf as the New York Times is wildly asserting, and Boko Haram is known to engage in suicide tactics even on the battlefield, certainly these mercenaries would have suffered some casualties in dealing with the asymmetric fighting style of Boko Haram while dislodging the group. Yet, there has been not a single “mercenary” reportedly killed by Boko Haram. So why the New York Times, and other purported respectable news outlets are spreading baseless propaganda, seeking to cast Nigeria’s armed services as mute in the highly successful campaign is not clear. The propaganda is consistent with the failed US campaign to undermine Nigeria’s security by blocking the country from acquiring advanced weapons systems, including attack helicopters and drones, and armored assault vehicles. Since Nigeria has acquired armaments from another source and is now shown to be quite effective in handling its own security with them, which cannot simply be attributed to neighboring countries, the only thing left is to pretend to uncover “evidence” that indeed it is not Nigerian forces responsible for the undeniable success that is clearly happening on the ground regardless of how flimsy such “evidence” may be.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to www.kaglobal.net. © Copyright 2014 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 212.363.0936
david.kuranga@kaglobal.net
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com
http://us.macmillan.com/thepowerofinterdependence/DavidOladipupoKuranga