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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Indian Partition: 70yrs On

"Our country has been broken; the great, sound pulsating heart of India has been broken.."  Asaf Khwaja Lahore Diaries 1949

When the British Government decided to dismantle its Imperial holdings in South Asia lying in the Indian Subcontinent and dubbed the Crown Jewel of the British Empire in 1947, that decision though noble in honoring the tenets of the Atlantic Charter which propounded the right for self determination of colonized peoples; led sharp religious delineations, inhumane and inhospitable fatal hostilities amongst once agelong convivial neighbours.
The Indian Partition plan propounded by Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy of Colonial India sought the creation of two homelands based on religious delineations from British India; one distinctly Muslim and the other distinctly Hindu incorporating other religious minorities. 

Indian nationalist leader Jawaharlal Nehru (l), Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten (c) and the president of the All-India Muslim League Muhammad Ali Jinnah (r) discuss Partition in 1947

As such, the provinces of Punjab and Bengal both of which had Muslim majorities were delineated as Pakistan (East and West Pakistan) while the rest were to form the Nation State of India. Simple as the partition plan seemed on paper, it aroused religious animosity amongst once convivial neighbours of different religious leanings. Thus, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other religious minorities who felt insecure due to reprisal killings had to undergo the painful experience of forced migration in series of population uproots and exchanges between the newly formed nations of India and Pakistan in what was one of the greatest in history, some 10 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan into India and vice versa, while about 2 million persons were killed in reprisals interspersed between the two newly formed Nations. In all, it is estimated that over 12 million lives were affected by this partition plan.
The British Partition of India

Once a domain ruled by the Ghaznavids and Mughal Empires who were of Turko-Mongol origins and advanced the propagation of Islam amongst their Subjects, the majority subjugated Hindu, and Buddhist population once had glorious domineering empires of note, some which were the Mauryan and Gupta Empires of which legendary Ashoka was famed for the former in the 3rd Century BC. Upon the subtle and forceful maneuvering subjugation intrigues by Europeans, chiefly the British in the 18th Century of an already waning Mughal Empire via the English East India Company, the whole Indian Subcontinent came under the rule of the expansionist British Empire who now controlled the region having the World’s largest population.
The British partition delineation along religious lines gained roots in the series of inconclusive Anglo-Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th Centuries in which the Afghanistan Kingdom which used to exert influence over Punjab Province was granted Independence; thus, partitioning the tribal heartland of the Pashtuns between British and Afghan control. Along with the Sepoy rebellion which was suppressed, there was growing discontent of the British Colonialists which birthed the Indian National Congress in the late 19th Century. Further partitions of the Bengal province along religious lines fueled mistrust amongst the majority Hindu and minority Muslim Nationalists which led to series of events resulting in the birthing of the Muslim league. As such, the British played on the divergent emancipation ideologies of these two Nationalist parties to their advantage as it suited and so the India National Congress and Muslim League became irreconcilable in their emancipation demands. While the India National Congress demanded independence for all of British India to establish a secular state for all religious delineation, the Muslim League sought a separate partition state in which would be Muslim majority; fearing Hindu redomination after the Muslims have recently controlled political affairs in the subcontinent via the defunct Ghaznavid and Mughal empires.

The India Partition frustrated over 12million lives

 When the partition finally came in Mid August of 1947, two Nations were born as Muslim dominated Pakistan and Hindu dominated India. Both nations after undergoing forced population exchanges upon religious delineations fell into unending internecine conflicts over the Princely States of Jammu and Kashmir both of which delayed decision of ascribing sovereignty to India or Pakistan.
Growing tensions between these two Nations led India to intervene in East Pakistan crises in 1971, thus guaranteeing the independence of marginalized and disgruntled Bengalis to form the new nation of Bangladesh.
Yet the issues bothering about conflict over the status of Jammu and Kashmir remained unresolved, though frozen along the cease fire Line of Control. With both sides now nuclear armed and relishing a military solution in the face Indian obstinacy over Kashmir, Pakistan has sought to support non-State military actors to harass Indian Occupation of Kashmir. These Non-State Military actors while pushing the Pakistani agenda over Kashmir have in turn fueled destabilization of the polity in Pakistan, Afghanistan and globally via the activities of Islamist guerrillas such as the Taliban, Al-Queda, Pakistani Taliban, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashka-e-Taiba and Kashmiri insurgents whilst India has seemingly advanced its status as a global player first during the constitution of the Non Aligned Movement in 1950’s and in series of Technological advancement in Medicine, Industrialization, and Information Technology which has seen it dethroning the USA’s Silicon Valley and stamping its status among the Second World Order nations via the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) association and forging trading partnerships with Africa, US, EU, China and UK.

"Much suffering has been caused and much bitterness engendered…but what is done cannot be undone. All we can do now is to make amends for our past mistakes and work wholeheartedly for the restoration of peace and goodwill among the divided sections of the people."-- Asaf Khwaja
It is saddening to note that a once harmonious commune under the ancient Hindu Mauryan and Muslim Ghaznavid and Mughal Empires has been thronged in to that of mistrust based on religious delineation and a hot bed of fanatic Islamic militantism with perennial cataclysmic effects on Afghanistan.
As a region hosting a distinct cradle of civilization and the World’s largest population side by side with China, like China, the Indian Subcontinent has lots of positives to offer the world if peace can be advanced across the religious delineations entrenched by the British Partition of 1947.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Arab Conundrum

"An Arab is whoever speaks Arabic, wishes to be an Arab and calls himself an Arab." 
 – Sati al-Husri

The term ‘Arab’ and peoples ascribed to it, is a modern-day conundrum that sometimes shirks detestations in international circles especially with recent advent of terrorism fears around the globe. Mainly domiciled in the Middle East where their ancestors originally hailed from in the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs have expanded to dominate the cultural, religious and political cosmos of nearly all Middle Eastern States and adjourning lands. The reason for this not being farfetched from the origins of Islam among the Arabs in the 7th Century AD; these originators of the religion set about unifying the diverse disunited Arab clans of the Arabian Peninsula and thenceforth set about empire conquests of adjourning territories and peoples which was inclusive of territories held by the then mighty Byzantine and Sassanid empires of the Levant and Middle Orient.


The earliest peoples designated as Arabs were the nomads of the Arabian Peninsula. The term ‘Arab’ in itself is interpreted to meaning ‘nomad’ synonymous to ‘Bedouin’. Other adjourning non-Arab peoples such as the Arameans, Phoenicians, Assyrians et al were over the centuries systematically assimilated into the Arab culture, thereby in most cases losing their language and distinct cultural identity in most cases.
While the Arabization quest passed on for Arab political dominance of conquered territories during the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid caliphate periods, the advent of the Mamluk and Baibars Sultanate began to pose an existential threat to the indigenous non-Arab populace most of whom were non-muslims. Whilst most non-Arab conversions to Islam entailed a full passage into the Arabization system, it must be acknowledged that some peoples such as the Persians and Kurds retained their distinct cultural affiliations despite being subjugated by the Arabs and then converted to Islam. Nevertheless, whilst Arabization nearly passed on for Islamization for Arabs and non-Arab peoples of the Middle East, there remains ever shrinking pockets of indigenous non-Muslim populations   among Arabs and non-Arabs in the Middle East especially amongst the Ghassanid and Lakhmid Arabs and several non-Arab groups most of which are Christian.
Ancient Delineation of Arab domains

The period of Turkish rule inaugurated by the Ottoman conquest and dismantling of the Byzantine empire and by extension rulership over the former Arab Caliphate ignited a new political era in the Middle Orient with the Ottoman Sultanate ascribing spiritual guardianship of the Muslim peoples to the Ottoman Sultan. Hence, for the first time since the advent of Islam, political and spiritual ruler ship of an Arab conquered territories and the established religion (Islam) passed on from Arabs to entirely non-Arabs.
And so, Arab subjugation continued without complaint so long as their domineers were Muslim and held the Arabic language as first choice in communication until a Turkish political revolution in the early 20th century.  A coup by young Turkish officers seeking to reform and restore the glorious past of the waning Ottoman empire which was dubbed as ‘the sick man of Europe’. Their reforms called for a radical ‘Turkification’ of the Ottoman governance system, a resultant which saw repressions of non-Turkish peoples especially in the Anatolian peninsula. Non-Muslim peoples were worse hit by the policy as it latter saw the expulsion of Greeks from Anatolia and the widely acclaimed ‘Armenian genocide’
Turkish rulership of Arabs was yet loathed despite they being spiritual brethren of most Arabs and in the wake of World War one in which the Ottomans fought alongside the Axis powers, the Allies led by Great Britain took advantage of Arab dissent against the Ottomans to stir the ‘Great Arab Revolt’ of 1916. The Arabs in themselves looking forward to reestablishing the glorious Arab Caliphate from ‘Aleppo to Aden’ rallied under the banner of Sharif Hussein Bin Ali and in serious of revolts and skirmishes against the Turks renounced Ottoman rule. Yet they came under Allied rule with France and Great Britain partioning the conquered territories as spheres of influence under the famous Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.
The 1916 Arab Revolt was British Inspired by 'Lawrence of Arabia'

The Balfour declaration of 1917 which granted Jewish rights to a homeland in parts of the conquered Ottoman dominion referred to as historical Palestine added another twist to the Arab conundrum. With the Religious importance of the allotted land to the Jews also claimed by the Arabs, the 1947 UN partition plan of Palestine between Jews and Arabs was rejected by the Arabs. And with the eventual creation of Israel in 1948, the Arab polity united in one voice to crush the nascent State; but after subsequent defeat and territorial loss, the fury of the Arabs turned upon the Mizrahi Jews (also referred to as Arab Jews) who had historically lived in North Africa and the East Levant. As such, Arab Jewry were sacked from their home and properties. Cities such as Casablanca, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Aden, Aleppo etc which once had hundreds of thousands of Jewry were emptied of their Jewish populace.
Whilst the British floated the idea of a Pan-Arab organization in 1942, the Arab League which was a resultant of that idea only became birthed in 1945, and its first task was to liquidate Jewish efforts of establishing a State within Arab realm. Alongside the Arab league, the rise of the Baath party in several Arab countries also endeavoured to unite the Arab cause. Despite its downside for repressing minority identities especially as pursued in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq against the Kurds and Assyrians, the Baath party in its hay days was a real bond for Arab unity and it even enamoured the short lived union of some Arab Countries in loose confederations.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 reawakened the agelong sharp/bitter religious schism of Islam especially betwixt the Shia-Sunni divide. Whilst there are several Islamic sects aside the Shittes and Sunnis, albeit these two commanding the largest followership now define the deep divisions that exists within the Arab and Islamic world. After the collapse of pro-secular Arab Governments and the Baath party in most Arab Countries, and revival of Political Islam seeking to establish the glorious Caliphate past have reignited the divisive dichotomy that sunk the early Arab Caliphate.
Rallying Arab unity and administering Arab affairs seems a wearying effort. Aside the unanimous denouncement of Israel, the Arab polity never seem to agree on mediative efforts to conflict situations in respective Arab countries and strengthening economic cooperation. This Arab Conundrum is expressed in the Syrian and Yemen conflict. For all the economic prosperity of the gulf states aside Oman and Yemen, Arab Countries of the Levant such as Syria and Iraq are dismantled in conflict situations meleed along Sectarian religious lines. And whilst Western/foreign intervention accounts a great deal as the causative factor, Arab disunity cannot be excused as the Arab league in all these have in the words of Mohamad Bazzi become a ‘glorified debating society’.

It is most disheartening that the Arab polity despite being protegees of the harnessers of mathematical science and the mastery of cultural assimilation are stooping in regressive terms to divisive delineating status of over a thousand years back. While the global polity is bemused with new conflict and humanitarian situations around the globe, the Arab polity will do humanity a favour by seeking steps to resolve theirs from within themselves.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Development Catalysts: liberation struggles or Good governance?

The quandary of effecting Eldorado developmental promises is a common dilemma in most newly politically independently countries. Birthed from a collection of peoples of different ethno-religious leanings, colonists tend not to respect existent socio-political delineations; rather choosing to delineate territories based on obnoxious treaties drafted on the colonist terms and thenceforth hobnobbing an agglomeration of peoples of divergent ethno-religious leanings into one political entity. These peoples then unite under a common cause of anti-colonial movements to achieve political independence.
By the adoption of the Atlantic Charter by foremost colonials in the United Kingdom and its subsequent metamorphoses of the United Nations Charter in 1945, colonial and occupied dominions were guaranteed self-determination and independence and as such, colonial governance became non acceptable in the international commune.
The end of the Second World War ushered in the emergence of new Nation States albeit from the shackles of colonialism in Africa and Asia. These nations were referred to as those from the backwaters of development or 3rd World Countries. Their paths to development was made more sinister by the sharp divergent bipolarity of global powers in the USA and USSR, each garnering allies and seeking new grounds to wield their socio-economic propaganda of Capitalism and Communism in proselytizing client/satellite states. As such, most emergent nation states foundered along these divergent economic paths whilst living up the realities of internal political squabbles. Hence development in most newly political emergent countries of the 20th century was torn between bipolar allegiance and internal political coherence and concord.
Whilst most Nation States of Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia emerged in their present forms no thanks to imperial ambitions, and internecine ethno-religious conflicts especially between the 17th & 19th Centuries; causing alignment of borders and wholesale population and territorial exchanges, emergence of most African and Asian States had imperial and colonial ambitions to thank for their present forms.


Effecting development has been an intersection cataclysms and abysmal efforts in Africa as most countries are torn betwixt accepting their ascribed National identities gained from colonialism or carving new ones. Issues bothering on Governance and political administration structures are thorny and never settling as ethno-religious fears are rife and pierce the very soul of their Nationhood.
And whilst most Sub-Saharan Countries grapple with effecting the very fundamentals of development in their domains, fellow development backwater Nations of Eastern Asia have stridden, matched and now dictate developmental models globally. Aside the emergence of Western Europe and Japan from the ruins of World War Two thanks to American invented developmental models in the Marshall plan, the developmental strides of South Eastern Asian Nation states now referred to as Asian Tiger Nations present enviable models for Sub-Saharan African Nations. For in defining and creating a new world order for themselves in the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ they rose above dereliction to developmental pace setters, never waiting for International Developmental Models such as the MDGs and SDGs to advance, but rather sought to harness their human and natural resource capitals thus becoming the manufacturing capital of the World. As such, India has dethroned USA’s Silicon Valley and techy allied sectors as the Worlds tech capital; China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are now the World’s manufacturing capitals as most companies would rather host their manufacturing bases in these Asiatics, and Singapore known for its entreport activities stands as the financial capital of the region. All these, while Sub-Saharan countries grapple in a continual blame game of colonial decadence, Asian Tiger Nations have now begun to carve economic hubs and niches on the African continent in series of aid packages and economic interventionism summits such as the recent China-Africa Summit and India – Africa Summit.
The political answer to the Asian revival has never until the last decade of the 20th Century been clear cut in Western terms of Democracy. Aside India which has remain a stellar beacon as the world’s most populous democracy devoid Coup d’états, most Asian tiger nations have been riddled with military interventionism’s, long periods of seeming civilian dictatorships as exemplified in the 31year rule of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, and closed systems of political governance as exemplified in China’s communist system. Asian Tiger Nations have been able to adopt and modify suitable political systems to effect their development stratagem.
Ex-Singaporean Prime Minister and Architect of Singapore's development wonder

The Asian success stories whilst congenial with the start-up background experience of colonial repression and amorphous Nationhood amalgamation as with Africa has stood tall whilst Sub-Saharan African Countries continually trade the colonial blame game. More sinisterly is the African political experience which testifies of upheavals as most colonial liberators handed the reins of power upon independence, have proved extremely clueless in the face of global dynamism. Rather, such leaders have turned themselves to power despots seeking to entrench their political positions as family hegemonies. Pernicious still is the unabated syphon of National funds into personal foreign accounts in Western domains- such is never wanton in the Asian experience. Not that corruption does not exist there but draining National coffers to Western personal accounts is least existent.
Aside the common throes of colonialism which is common to Africa and Asia, Southern African countries are emerging from Apartheid- an extreme form of White colonial subjugation which has entrenched endemic social wounds which even political independence is failing to heal. As such, whatever seems to have been gained in developmental terms during periods of White Supremacist rule is gradually falling apart in the face of black justice political movements. Healing and reparation modalities of the apartheid effect in Southern Africa remains a trillion-dollar question.
Sub-Saharan Africa like Asian tigers have colonial past to sneer at. Nevertheless, Asian tiger Nations emerged from the doldrums of development to entrench themselves as exemplary development stellars.

Going forward, the rhetorical question still reverberates; what are the catalyst for development? Colonial/Political liberation struggles or good governance typified by Western style democratic term limits? A combination of both or an evolution and adoption of something else? 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Donald Trump and the American Presidency

The news of the victory of Donald Trump in the just concluded presidential elections of the United States of America has left many political pundits and US election observers astounded in its wake. It was seen by many as ‘a US cloned BREXIT’ which in a sense fulfilled one of the several humorous remarks of Donald Trump in that he would pull off "Brexit times 10".

Donald Trump cast in shadows

A political neophyte whose presidential ambition was seen as sinisterly from his usual trademark slurry remarks on issues of all sorts ranging from spats of banning Muslim immigration into the USA, to calling Mexicans “rapists", "murderers" and "criminals", and pledging as an electoral promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border—a project of which he says would be funded by the Mexicans; his chances were written off even before the conclusion of his party’s primaries. Yet after a surprise emergence at the end of the Republican primaries, Trump’s presidential hopes were shoved aside as he faced a formidable and more political experienced Democratic Party Candidate in Hillary Clinton.
As the Presidential campaigns of both candidates trudged on, it was unusually besmirched by character mudslinging instigated by Donald Trump, instead of the usual policy debate US Presidential electioneering campaigns were noted for. In one of such instances, Trump once said Hillary Clinton ‘deserves an award’ for co-founding ISIS (The Islamic State). He also once remarked that Hillary has to be jailed for the scandals bothering upon her use of personal servers during her tenure as Secretary of States.
“In fact, in many respects, you know they honour President Obama, Isis is honouring President Obama. He is the founder of Isis. He is the founder of Isis. He’s the founder. He founded Isis.
“And I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder. Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
"This is the most heinous, the most serious thing that I've ever seen involving justice in the United States — in the history of the United States."
"We have a person that has committed crimes that is now running for the presidency.".....Donald Trump
For all his swirling wise cracks and politically incorrect statements, Donald Trump was seen by many as a ‘happenstance joker’ whose humour would be silenced forever at the polls. Yet his followership was astounding as though politically incorrect by candour and statements, he was seen as ‘saying the truth’ or speaking his mind unlike professional politician Hillary who was seen in some circles as a liar by her seeming politically correct statements. Never minding that some of his party men including ex-US presidents disowning him, on this presumptive feel did Trump’s campaign machination soar whilst the politically correct media postulated his waterloo in a Napoleonic happenstance at the November 8 Polls.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump emerged president elect of the USA to the chagrin of the politically correct camp and Democratic party supporters no thanks to his garnering of sufficient electoral college votes though losing the popular votes narrowly to Hillary Clinton.
And while the camp of the political correct world and Democratic Party moans, Donald Trump and an unlikely admirer in Russian President Vladimir Putin, triumph in ecstasy. The world fears the creation of a new world order shattering the current sharp and strong bipolar divide fronted by the USA and Russia at both nodes which Trump is thought be set to unorchestrate. Yet for all Trump’s aggrandized speech to ‘Make America Great Again’, there will be lots of bureaucratic institutional policy bottle necks typical of the US democratic system that would hamper Trump’s electoral manifesto when he assumes presidential office.
A definitive point of note for Trump’s presidency will be the trend of the cornerstone of his foreign policy. While his cosiness with Vladmir Putin seems to unnerve the acrimonious bipolar trend between the West and Russia through the length of Obama’s presidency, he has to cautiously watch his remarks about the NATO alliance, issues bothering on Nuclear and defence deals with Iran, Japan and South Korea; and trade deals between China and the US, not forgetting his rhetoric on immigration.
In all, the Trump presidency will be eventful to watch not forgetting that his excesses could be chequered as soon as in two years’ time after the US mid term Congressional elections. In a case where the Republican party lose majority in both houses of Congress, who says impeachment cannot be a weapon?
Of a surety a new order is in the waiting to be defined by the Trump presidency. Such a one which not even Trump’s current 75 active lawsuits will impede. Whether in or out of court or in the White House, Trump must govern and greet the waiting world with what he has to offer!

Monday, 8 August 2016

My UNCTAD'14 Memoir

The recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development held in Nairobi, Kenya, was a first time opportunity for me to attend a High Level United Nations event aside Model United Nations which I have been accustomed to attending a foretime. Held in quadrennials since its founding in 1964 in Geneva Switzerland, the 2016 edition was the 14th edition of the conference, and the second of its kind to be held in Nairobi Kenya from 17th to 22nd July 2016, under the caption ‘From Decision to Actions’.

My journey to Nairobi was afforded by sheer benevolence of friends and colleagues, as a tight personal budget sinisterly constrained by the dire down spiral of Nigeria’s economic situation almost strangled my desire to attend the conference. However, with a timely intervention by Dr. John Alonge, who linked me with Chambers Umezulike offerring to host my proposed stay at Nairobi, and an intersection of favourable climes in my work place at the time of the conference, catalysed my efforts to attend the conference.
Captioned from Decisions to Actions, the Conference was held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi. Preconference events of Regional Group Meetings, Workshops sessions of the World Investment Forum and activities at the Global Commodities Forum and Civil Society Forum on 15th-17th July, signalled the prelude to the main conference. Arriving Nairobi in the wee hours of 16th July, I was welcomed by a legendary courteous diplomatic treat, such as afforded to UNCTAD’14 delegates at the Immigration point. Fearing to venture into town at that time of the morning, I was provided security assurance by some Kenyan Policewomen on duty at the airport. One of them offered to help dial my host to inform him of my arrival.
My stay at Nairobi afforded me the opportunity of hooking up with some Zain Africa Challenge colleagues. As such, Barrister Charles Mwalimu aided this by picking me at the airport to the reunion spot at Mlolongo. As much as I thought I’d prepared for the conference, I was besmirched by the Nairobi weather which was damn too cold for me at 11 -15 degrees Celsius.
Reunion Photo with Some Kenyan Zain Africa Challenge 2009 Colleagues
From left: Albert Gicheha (Kenyatta University), Me at the centre and Barrister Charles Mwalimu (Busoga University) at the right
The conference itself was an agglomeration of several side events such as The Youth Forum, Civil society Forum, World Investment Forum; held in concomitant tandem with the main track of Ministerial Round tables and Negotiations of stakeholders of member Nations. At the opening plenary, the Nigerian delegation was led by The CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, and subsequently, the Minister for Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelama was present to front the Nigerian course at subsequent ministerial forums at the conference.
With the Nigerian Delegation at the Opening Plenary Session led by Mr Olusegun Awolowo (Left)

The opening plenary session had the following dignitaries in attendance: UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon; Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta; Ugandan Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi; Kenyan Cabinet, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Muhammed, UNCTAD’14 Secretary General, Mukhisa Kituyi among other important dignitaries.
Drawing from the conference theme which was apparently inspired from the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals, the UNSG in his opening remarks expressed deep concerns about the growing trend of ethnic Nationalism around the world, which is posing a threat to globalization and its recent gains; a cumulative of which will hamper efforts at attaining the SDGs by 2030.
Trade must provide prosperity in ways that work for people and planet and respond to the challenges of climate change.... We must also put a proper value on assets, such as ecosystem services, and correctly price systemic and interconnected risk, such as that posed by climate change. There are more than enough savings in the global economy to drive the transformation that the SDGs call for, but our investments need to become better aligned with sustainable development....Ban Ki Moon
UNSG, Ban Ki Moon delivering his opening remarks at UNCTAD'14 opening plenary session
I struggled to work my conference schedule to attend other side events aside the Youth Forum which I was registered for; but as much as I tried, the concurrence of events on the programme schedule didn’t help my course.
The Youth Forum was formally inaugurated on 19th July by the UNCTAD’14SG, after sundry informal activities aimed at team building and bonding. In his opening remarks, the UNCTADSG emphasized the uniqueness of UNCTAD; a rare UN agency where every member nation has an equal voice and a vote unlike most UN agencies where a nation’s vote is equal to the number of contributory dollars it has. He urged youths to intensify their respective developmental activities to help shape the world we want as we would be development drivers and have to account for the tenure of the SDGs by 2030, and then set another global agenda beyond that date.
Youth Forum Delegates Bonding with the UNCTAD'14 SG, Mukhisa Kituyi
The Forum was divided into three breakout sessions for delegates to discuss thematic subjects on Quality Education, Better Jobs and Government/State Accountability. I joined the education group and in the end, each group drafted a working document on these subthemes to serve as the official Youth Declaration Document to be presented the Ministerial High level event segment of the Youth Forum.
My discussion Subgroup teammates in the Education thematic group 
It was enthusing slinging ideas with delegates from different National backgrounds on the thematic issues and noting several peculiar regional problems bothering on these thematic subjects.
Rubbing minds with Priyash Bista after the end of the Ministerial High Level event of the UNCTAD'14 Youth Forum
I found time to attend World Investment Forum sessions of the High Level Tripartite Conference on Investment Promotion in the SDGs and Promoting Investment in Urban Development. At both sessions, it was obvious that East Asian Nations led by China would provide the investment impetus to effect development in the Global South Nations whilst development funding was satirely hailed as a trillion-dollar question.
The Panellist at the High Level Tripartite Conference on Investment Promotion in the SDGs
The Global commodities hub provided an opportunity for member states to show case investment opportunities in their respective countries, especially by display of produce/commodities locally accustomed to member nations. I found time to explore the scenario and was greeted with the dominant display of various typologies of Kenyan tea and coffee. I was told Kericho county produce the best Kenyan tea. I ended up shopping for tea to present as travel souvenir to my colleagues back home.
Made friends with the Thailand delegation at the Global Commodities Hub
The Conference winded up with closing sessions at the various side events and capped with the closing ceremony, plenary session and the signing of the Nairobi Consensus, to drive UNCTAD’s agenda for the next four years. Heavily constrained by funds, I could not afford safari tours; however, I comforted myself with the warm hospitality of my host and his neighbours at the University of Nairobi Hostel. No thanks to the deft culinary skills of Sudanese born Kordofan lady in Chichiley Haroun, my taste buds were groomed to East African delicacies such as Ugali, Mokimo and Mandazi.
Grooming my taste buds to East African Delicacies. Ugali on show

After an enthralling moment at Nairobi, I made my way back to Nigeria humming the UNCTAD’14 Youth Forum Theme Song composed by Elani,..Together! Pamoja!. and rethinking the course to action on driving the global development agenda from my local corner.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Turkey: Standing Firm on Thin Ropes

Amid the drooling chaos in the endless contiguous conflict situations spiralling across the Middle East; from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the raging civil wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen; the international community stands perplexed at simmering thoughts of an additional unstable country within that region. With nearly all Middle Eastern countries having an intriguing stake in the belligerent activity across the region, and somewhat at a risk of conflagrating into violence, the recent situation in Turkey stands out in the perplexing Middle East conflict intrigues.
Straddling between Europe and Asia, and a heritage of the last Great Empire of the which controlled the Middle East in the Ottoman Empire, Turkey stands as a physical bridge and buffer between Europe and Asia; and between the ‘West’ and ‘East’.
After long enjoying long relative peaceful spells in her dual relations with the ‘West’ and ‘East’ and even Israel (A country which most Muslim Countries hold an unending animosity with), the turn of the decade flayed cracks on a seeming perfect multi-bloc relationship Turkey had long maintained.
First it was with Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident of May 2010 in which 10 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli troops; Turkey severed diplomatic relations with Israel after that incident. Then the onset of the Syrian Civil War smouldering from the Arab Spring in 2011.  After initial fence sitting on the crises, the Turkish position moved from passive to active opposition of the Government as initially highlighted from downing incidents of Syrian Jets by Turkey and vice versa in 2014 and 2012. And then came incidences with Russia November 2015 when the Turkish air force downed two Russian jets supporting the Syrian government’s war effort in an alleged accusation of encroaching its air space; this incident of course attracted sanctions from Russia which threatened to ground Turkish businesses in the tourism and construction sector.
A resurgence of Kurdish separatism especially borne under the auspices of an alleged tacit Turkish support for Jihadist rebel groups in Syria who in turn simmered instability in parts of Turkey via suicide bombings, and Turkish wariness of an autonomous Kurdish armed entity in Syria, raised the flares of instability within Turkey via armed attacks against the Turkish State by the PKK.
On the political front, the governing AKP struggled to consolidate a majority government in the last elections after surviving electoral scares from the pro-Kurdish HDP in preceding elections. In a firm attempt to stamp political authority, the governing AKP led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to purge dissenting voices especially from Fethullah Gulen an ex-ally, and from within the Military who have long been touted as the protector of Turkish Democracy and guardian of Ataturk’s ideals. This has set the Turkish government at odds in its long sought bid for EU membership. Though some concessions have been reached in recent times following the Turkish-EU agreement over the Syrian refugee crises, it all seems to be under threat following a backlash with EU ideals and Turkish local policies. In fact, all seemed to be coming to a bridgehead following the botched Coup d’état of 15th July.
Turkish Civilians flogging surrendered Coupist on the Bosphorus Bridge
Recognizing her strategic importance in the Middle East and as the Eastern frontier Bastion of the NATO Western military alliance, and considering the inundation by Syrian refugees from the neighbouring Syrian conflict; and potential Military isolation by her NATO allies in its recent standoff with Russia whose sanctions thudded economic savagery, Turkey has begun to repair its relationship fault lines consequential from its recent foreign policy which seemed to negate the Kemalist ideals of ‘Peace at home and peace in the World’.
Caricature of US based Turkish Cleric, Fethulah Gulen, The acclaimed villain of recent Turkish political squabbles
First in the foreign relation restoration drive in June was Israel, followed by an apology to Russia over the November 2015 jet downing incident and then extension of the olive branch to the Assad led Syrian Government after severing diplomatic ties in 2011.
"We normalised relations with Russia and Israel. I'm sure we will normalise relations with Syria as well. For the fight against terrorism to succeed, stability needs to return to Syria and Iraq."..... Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
Turkey has forged the progressive path in normalizing relations with Countries which it has had recent diplomatic spats with. This progressive diplomatic gains seem to be clogged by recent internal political squabbles thus casting a shadow on recent diplomatic reconciliations in the international front.

Ultimately, the ‘pull’ and ‘push’ forces throbbing the soul of Turkish polity will have to resonate to an acceptable equilibrium to help the current Turkish Government maintain foundational Kemalist principles and retain her strategic role as a physical bridge and buffer of the global bipolar world.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


 "We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed.".......Winston Churchill


The results of the recent European Union membership referendum of 23rd June in the United Kingdom, in which the Country narrowly voted to leave the 28-member socio-political continental wide body has generated attendant worrying ripples amongst the EU power broker Nations and ponderous aftershocks within the United Kingdom itself; with the economy and cooperate entity of the Country being called to question.
Priding herself as a stand-alone European victor against Nazi dominated Continental Europe after World War Two, whilst yearning for a peaceful and prosperous Europe; the United Kingdom preferably stood back on the side-lines during the formative periods of what is now known as the EU today. Despite being invited to be one of the founding countries of the ‘Pan European’ project, the UK twice declined the offer as a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
As a global power with far flung domains across the Oceans which at its peak comprised about 25% of the earth’s surface, the UK leveraged on her colonies across North America, Africa and especially the Indian subcontinent for raw materials to feed its burgeoning industries and market to satisfy her industrialization demands. Even with an imminent empire liquidation after the World War 2, the UK still hoped for business as usual in terms of international trade in a renewed relationship arrangement with her ex-colonies now referred to as The Common Wealth.
The British empire at its heights in 1920

And whilst the economies of the EEC (European Economic Community) member nations flowered in the 1950’s and 1960’s, that of the UK foundered as emergent independent nations from the ‘British Empire’ sought new trading relationships overlooking a much loathed British colonial trading arrangement.
Aiming to catch-up with the now fast economic paced EEC member Countries and seeking to explore the continental market, the UK launched a bid for EEC membership in 1963 and 1967 during which both membership bids were blocked courtesy of vetoes by the then French President, Charles de Gaulle.
Charles de Gaulle

Aside glaring scepticism to the Pan-European project at its founding even when initially invited to join, De Gaulle identified an inherent adaptation problem of the British to Euro idealism which the EEC stood for in these words.

“England in effect is insular, she is maritime, she is linked through her exchanges, her markets, her supply lines to the most diverse and often the most distant countries; she pursues essentially industrial and commercial activities, and only slight agricultural ones. She has in all her doings very marked and very original habits and traditions”

Only the exit of De Gaulle’s presidency in France in 1969 was the United Kingdom application to join the EEC accepted in 1973. Even at that, the question of how much power be devolved from the UK to the EEC besmirched the long-term membership commitment of the UK to the Pan-European socio-political project. As such, referendum came calling in 1975 with an overwhelming 65% voting to stay in the EEC. Yet the underlining intrigues of British Euroscepticism kept being brought to bare viz:
·        Not being able to benefit from EEC Agricultural subsidies because of its low agricultural output compared to other EEC member nations
·        The reluctance to devolve economic and political power to the EEC.

"We are not prepared to accept the principle that the most vital economic forces of this country should be handed over to an authority which is utterly undemocratic and is responsible to nobody!"
Clement Attlee, 1950

Renewed British choosiness towards the Pan-European project was evident during the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 which led to the formation of the European Union; the UK opted out of the section of the treaty dealing with social policy, as well as of joining the monetary and economic union. As such, it was no surprise that the British earlier opted off the Schengen free border agreement in 1985.
Ultimately, growing discontent that the UK was giving more than it gets from the EU led to a call for a second EU referendum resulting in a shock narrow victory of 52% for the leave campaigners. Unlike in 1975 when dissenting referendum voices were not discerned, the devolution of powers to the sectoral constituent makeup of the United Kingdom in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with each able to pursue an option of self-determination has added a new twist to the BREXIT debacle, as the constituent referenda votes in these constituents voted to stay in the EU; the majority ‘leave’ vote coming from England.
Not forgetting the Gibraltar (a British enclave on the Iberian peninsula claimed by Spain) which also voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU for the sake of economic viability, calls for a second Scottish referendum should the UK leave the EU has made BREXIT a pyrrhic victory for the leave campaigners, as this might trigger an unhappy dissolution of the UK leaving England isolated outside the EU in a diminished status; thereby calling to question the global power status of the UK within the United Nations and the International commune.
To evade such, the UK will have to find a way of renegotiating its relationship with the EU without necessarily leaving, though the referendum in itself is only advisory and not legally binding. Even when the UK decides to finally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to leave the EU, it might take extra-long years outside the stipulated two years for the UK to find its feet with treaties to enact her EU exit status.
With the economy already taking a nosedive and the Pound sterling already taking a plunge due to uncertainties about the UK’s long-term EU status, there are already regrets even amongst the leave campaigners that the UK might just have shot herself in the foot.
Accepting her diminished status as a once great power is hard for the British and whilst striving hard to salvage national pride, current trends bothering on international trade has to be taken cognisance of. And yes, the British just like the Swiss can preserve her distinctness whilst still being part of Europe
"This is a painful choice and it is deeply regrettable both for the UK and Europe. But this choice is theirs and we must respect it, accepting all the consequences. ”.. Francois Hollande