African press review 29 August 2012
Why has Nigeria's power minister resigned? Why did Obasanjo fail to deliver power to the people? Why are Gambian drug enforcement agents being prosecuted? Have police in Angola been torturing opposition supporters?
In Nigeria Power Minister Barth Nnaji has resigned, the Abuja-based Leadership newspaper reports.
Was he pushed or did he jump?
The article suggested Nnaji was pushed. He’s accused by labour unions of pocketing 942 million naira, that’s 4.7 million euros, while in office.
How did hemanage this?
The paper says that Nnaji had “a perceived personal interest” in two companies. These companies were involved in the privatisation process currently underway in Nigeria’s power sector.
The article then veers off on a tangent and puts forward the notion that "a lack of funds stalled power projects – Obasanjo". Olusegun Obasanjo has been Nigeria's president on two occasions, once as head of a military regime and again as a democratically elected leader.
It’s the second presidency the article refers to. The former president is given several column inches to excuse himself for not delivering power to the nation.
Many of Nigeria’s 160 million people do not receive a constant supply of electricity. The national power supplier, the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) has long been referred to as Never Ever Power Always because of the constant blackouts.
The irony is that Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer. In the production process thousands of cubic metres of gas is burned off. This could be captured to supply electricity. But years of mismanagement of the power sector means this hasn’t happened. Perhaps the sacking of Nnaji is a sign that President Goodluck Jonathan wants to provide the people with power.
In Gambia, The Point is the only newspaper that dares to criticise the rule of President Yaya Jammeh and his cronies. Several of its top stories are related to the legal system.
While The Point prints the names of the nine people executed on Sunday in the west African nation, together with their offences, the article is simply a rehash of a statement released by the government that has been reprinted the world over.
A more interesting article is about two former drug enforcement agents who have just been granted bail, much to the irritation of the defence team. The two are accused of defrauding an inmate at Mile Two State Prison, the same prison where nine inmates have just been executed.
But how and why you might ask could two drug enforcement agents defraud Robert Danquah, an inmate at the dreaded Mile Two prison? The article again just reprints the charges as released by the court. That prompted me to Google Robert Danquah and it turns out he was jailed along with three other people, two of whom have Spanish-sounding names.
Bearing in mind that Gambia is a transit point for drugs from Latin America, according to the UN’s Office for Drugs and Crime, the agents, who are now out on bail, could have had inside information about Danquah’s ill-gotten gains and may have decided to stick their snouts in his trough.
Over to Angola, where award-winning investigative journalist Rafael Marques reports that police in the province of Bie publicly tortured a village head by the name of Arao Massanga Simao. His offence, according to Marques’s blog, makaangola, was hanging the flag of the opposition party, Unita, in his village square.
Election campaigning is drawing to a close in Angola. Voters go to the polls in parliamentary elections on Friday.
Bie Province, where Simao was allegedly tortured is a Unita stronghold. It’s therefore perhaps not surprising, given the huge stakes involved in political patronage in oil-rich Angola, that Simao light have been tortured in front of the secretary of the local branch of the ruling MPLA and mayor of the commune.
Marques also alleges that the MPLA secretary and mayor offered Simao 10,000 kwanza, around 75 euros, to keep quiet about the torture. What they didn’t consider, if this allegation is true, is that Marques doesn’t miss a thing. A truckload of police and military personnel have been drafted into the commune, he points out.