Every night as dusk falls in Piazza Gastone in the Noce district of Palermo, a tall, imposing Ghanaian woman dressed in traditional west African robes stands before a small congregation sweating in rows of plastic chairs before her.The Pentecostal Church of Odasani has been converted from an old garage in a backstreet into a place of worship, albeit one unrecognised by any formal faith group. But what many of the congregation – largely young Nigerian women – have come for tonight is more than prayer; it is freedom.“Nigerian women come to me for help, they have bad spirits that have been put inside their bodies by people who want to make money from them,” says the self-proclaimed prophetess, as she prepares to start her service.
Tag Archives: Nigeria
It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.
The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.
The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.
In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.
By Amy Goodman and Denis MoynihanDemocracy NowThe world is facing the most serious humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan.
Pity the poor petro-states. Once so wealthy from oil sales that they could finance wars, mega-projects, and domestic social peace simultaneously, some of them are now beset by internal strife or are on the brink of collapse as oil prices remain at ruinously low levels. Unlike other countries, which largely finance their governments through taxation, petro-states rely on their oil and natural gas revenues. Russia, for example, obtains about 50% of government income that way; Nigeria, 60%; and Saudi Arabia, a whopping 90%. When oil was selling at $100 per barrel or above, as was the case until 2014, these countries could finance lavish government projects and social welfare operations, ensuring widespread popular support. Now, with oil below $50 and likely to persist at that level, they find themselves curbing public spending and fending off rising domestic discontent or even incipient revolt.
Twenty years ago today my father and eight other Ogoni men were woken from their sleep and hanged in a prison yard in southern Nigeria. When the news filtered out, shock and outrage reverberated around the world, and everyone from the Queen to Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela condemned the executions.
What I recall of the long days and sleepless nights afterwards was the slogan that caught on with my father’s devastated friends and supporters; we were united in a determination to ensure that “his death must not be in vain”. So has anything changed?
Isis, a year of the caliphate: The seven wars in Muslim countries where ‘Islamic State’ is powerful or growing in strength
There are seven wars raging in Muslim countries between the borders of Pakistan in the east and Nigeria in the west. In all seven – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and north-east Nigeria – local versions of Isis are either already powerful or are gaining in influence. Key to its explosive expansion in Iraq and Syria since 2011 is its capability as a fighting machine, which stems from a combination of religious fanaticism, military expertise and extreme violence. In addition, its successes have been possible because it is opposed by feeble, corrupt or non-existent governments and armies.
On Tuesday, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All People’s Congress (APC) unexpectedly emerged as the winner of Nigeria’s fiercely contested presidential poll, defeating the sitting President, Dr Jonathan Goodluck of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), by a considerable margin.
In recent months, news coverage of Nigeria has been dominated by a narrative of corruption, terrorism and violence. Following a six-week postponement of the election earlier this year, officially declared as an opportunity for a newly-formed multinational force to reclaim areas controlled by the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North, any forecast of a “peaceful” electoral transition was seen by many as highly improbable, if not impossible. However, General Buhari’s landmark victory, marking the first time in history that Africa’s largest country has elected an opposition party candidate, has, in fact, been achieved with a relatively smooth democratic transition.
In a move that is likely to surprise a lot of people in the West, Nigeria has elected for the presidency a man who truncated a democratic government three decades ago.
Former General Muhammadu Buhari won on Tuesday a keenly contested election, by a very slim margin, to become the first man in my country’s fifty-five years as a postcolonial state to unseat an incumbent government via the ballot box. This is a change.
Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, after thirty-three years of primarily military rule. For four years, between 1979 and 1983, democracy surfaced briefly, until Buhari led a military coup to end it. He proceeded to run one of the most brutal regimes that Nigeria has ever seen. His Decrees 2 and 4 were aimed directly at press freedom and the right to free assembly, and a lot of people were imprisoned and killed under those laws.
The long-awaited Nigerian elections are nearing after a controversial six-week postponement. Now slated for 28 March, the vote may prove to be the most significant political event in Africa this year.
The 2015 polls come at a time when national confidence in Nigeria’s ability to provide security, fight Boko Haram and uphold the law is running low.
Coupled with the divisive competitiveness of the electoral race, the political and economic stakes of this election are the most significant since the end of the country’s military rule in 1998.
As Nigeria’s electoral commission on February 7, decided to postpone the presidential and parliamentary elections of February 14 to March 28 due to upcoming major offensives against Boko Haram, some observers had a sinister interpretation: the 175 million Nigerians and their right to free elections were now become hostages of the militant Islamists. Boko Haram’s in hand, it is indeed whether Nigeria is peaceful enough for the end of March elections. It also lies in the hands of the Nigerian military.