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Thursday, August 19, 2010

They Made a Mess of Nigeria...



So what kind of trouble will the oil companies cause when they start drilling off the coast of Tanzania next year? Giles Foden reports from the island of Mafia

As his plane climbs above the vast Rufiji delta on the Tanzanian coast, Peter Byrne tells me about the region's deep history. "In the Miocene era, the Rufiji was one of the biggest rivers on earth," he says. "Zanzibar and MafiaIsland broke away from mainland Africa - Mafia was much later but it was part of the same process." That massive geological shift is one of the reasons oil companies have the fabled spice island of Zanzibar in their sights. But it looks as if Zanzibar's smaller cousin, Mafia - where Byrne runs Kinasi Lodge, a luxury hotel - will be the first place in Tanzania to see serious oil exploration.

The Dutch arm of Shell is in negotiations with the Tanzanian government for licences to prospect four deep-sea areas or "blocks" in the Rufiji delta and another four off Zanzibar. Petrobras of Brazil is bidding for a block about 15 miles (24km) off Mafia, while the French company Maurel & Prom hopes to drill on Mafia itself and areas of Mkuranga district on the coastal mainland. In time, the whole western flank of the Rift Valley inland may be drilled, as seismic and hydrocarbon tests have shown that this too has potential for oil.

The oil in Tanzania's coastal belt was discovered in the 1960s but it is only recently, with western governments searching for alternative sources to the Middle East, that these paradise isles are being taken seriously as drilling sites. Withnegotiations on Zanzibar bogged down between the island and the mainland over which should benefit (semi- autonomous Zanzibar is unhappy with a proposed 60:40 split of profits), Mafia and its tiny neighbour Chole seem likely to be the first to see exploration, perhaps within a year.

Mafia and Zanzibar are part of a lush reef-based network of islands and atolls dotted along Tanzania's Indian ocean seaboard. A slowly growing tourist destination, Mafia is about 30 miles (50km) long and 10 miles (17km) wide, surrounded by a host of tiny islets. It has a population of 50,000. The capital, Kilindoni, is a one-horse, or half-a-horse town. There are no telephones and only a few cars.

Mafia is one of the world's richest marine habitats - home to a marine reserve run by the Tanzanian government with support from the World Wildlife Fund. As well as fish (more than 400 species) and other marine life, from dolphins to both green and hawksbill turtles, the area is home to many species of birds, including black kites and lilac-breasted rollers. There are also said to be dugongs (sea cows), among the world's rarest creatures, in these islands.

Now economically sleepy, Mafia was once a busy entrepĂ´t dealing in gold and ivory from the interior, coconuts, mangrove poles for housebuilding and tortoise-shell. The last two had serious ecological impacts, but slavery was Mafia's darkest business. It was legally abolished only in 1922, four years after the first world war and the establishment of British rule on Mafia. That came after the ousting of the Germans, who had ruled from 1890, after long periods of Arab and Portuguese dominance.

Much of the archipelago's commerce, including slavery, depended on the monsoon winds that blow variously across the Indian ocean: the north-east monsoon (the kaskazi) from December to March and the south-east monsoon (the kusi) from April to November. It was these winds, filling the sails of dhows, which once made the area rich. Oil may do so again, but at what ecological cost? And will oil revenues supplement the meagre incomes of local people?

Another factor in the mix is that the region is host to two Unesco world heritage sites: Zanzibar's Stone Town and the ruins of the coastal city of Kilwa on the mainland. Shell said at the end of August that the company henceforth would avoid exploring or drilling on sites that carry these designations.

The oil business does not run smoothly - or cleanly - elsewhere in Africa, especially in Nigeria where the bulk of exploration takes place. Vast tracts of countryside have been despoiled. In the past fortnight, crude oil spilling from a ruptured pipeline burst into flames near the southeastern Nigerian village of Gio, torching crops and spreading thick, black smoke for miles. Shell workers raced to the scene to extinguish the flames but were denied access by angry villagers demanding compensation. Congo, Angola and Cameroon (where residents say exploration is already ruining fishing) are other African countries facing these issues.

At the moment Tanzania has few resources to draw on if there were an oil spill or explosion - events which test western resources in the best possible of contexts. And it is as liable to corruption as any other African country. Julius Nyeyere, the late "father of the nation" and the country's first president, was scathing: "Corruption in Tanzania has no bounds. Every country I visit they talk about corruption in Tanzania. Tanzania is stinking with corruption," he said in 1995. Things have got much worse since then, with increased economic growth offering more opportunities for graft; what's to prevent future oil revenues in Tanzania going the way of those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the IMF has accused officials of creaming off as much as $1bn (£650m) a year from oil revenues.

Flying above the Rufiji delta, all appears calm. The idea that oil slicks might strangle these wetlands seems impossible. But the idea of a paradise is an illusion. The area's existing economy is by no means free of ecological impacts, especially on coral. Pointing out a pair of prawn trawlers, which cause great damage to seagrass and corals - I can see the trail of brown sediment thrown up by their scraping boards - Byrne says that how Tanzania deals with its existing marine resources is of much more concern to him than threats from oil exploration. "Modern technology makes drilling far less of a worry than corruption and mismanagement by central government."

Already there have been rumblings of discontent among locals on nearby Songo Songo island, where there is a gasfield, and staff at the Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP) are circumspect about the proposed developments. "As a conservator I'm against it," says Sylvester Kazimoto, enforcement warden at the park, "as there's bound to be negative effects. But economically - we have to look at it."

He's right. If the deals come off, they could make an enormous difference to Tanzania, one of the world's poorest countries, with an average annual income of less than £160 per person.

There are no easy answers, says Ali-Rashid Mgeni, whose role in MIMP is to persuade fishermen in the park to seek alternative livelihoods such as beekeeping, handicrafts, or building from mudbricks rather than coral, the traditional construction material. "It's a tough question. You know we are fighting to eradicate poverty here. One of the reasons we are protecting this environment is because we want it to sustain our lives and those of future generations. We need a special plan or else local people won't benefit."

Hearing that oil surveyors have been to the nearby island of Chole, I jump on a MIMP patrol-boat going there. I find a man called Miwadi Juma in the harbour. Now 30, he has been fishing these waters since he was 11. He's sitting on the spar of his boat Mwafaka - meaning "reconciliation" in Swahili. Behind me, throttled by a mass of fig-tree roots, loom the ruins of the German customs house and an old prison.

Spearing white cockles with its long black beak, a wading-bird pokes about in the shallows as Miwadi talks. "I have heard about this oil, and it is worrisome. I am afraid it will be like Songo Songo, where the island was divided into two parts. One part is where the gas is extracted and the other is where people live; some of them have been moved. They have sold their farms and houses, but not very willingly. This island is very small and people will be angry if it happens here."

Ibrahim Imani, MIMP's liaison officer on Chole, recalls the visit by the oil surveyors. "They used bombs to do the survey. I remember there were explosions right round the island." Hassan Nahuda, a fisherman, remembers them too. "During that time, some fish died from the explosions."

Thomas Chale, who runs the WWF micro-loans scheme which enabled Hassan to trade in his damaging seine net for a more environmentally-friendly gill net, is too aware of the economic benefits of the oil to dismiss it. "We know that fuel resources are one of the best ways for a country to improve itself. It's a matter of finding the best utilisation. If environmental impact studies can be done, then the whole thing might be managed safely. Once that has been taken care of there is the question of local people. We wouldn't want it to be like the case of those Ogoni people in Nigeria. All they see of the oil money is pipes flying over them."

Under a tree heavy with fruit bats, I wait for Johany Rajabo, Chole's nursery-school teacher, to finish class, then we chat as the kids run about around us. You can see western influence here (one child has a Teletubbies rucksack) but the survey team didn't exactly bond with the locals. "That group of oil explorers who came here," says Rajabo, "they didn't talk to anyone." He says he doesn't know anything about the ecological effects of oil drilling, but understands that it can be a way of raising a country's standard of living.

I make my way back to the harbour. Miwadi Juma and the Mwafaka have set sail. Other fishermen are cutting up stingrays on the sand - their livers are a delicacy. The dried tails were once used to lash criminals in the prison. As I board the MIMP patrol boat, I wonder whether the appearance of oil rigs will bring pain or pleasure to these islands. The signs aren't that good, though most people seem prepared to welcome the development. "I think it would be better to get the oil and be rich," says Abdul Bwaki, a security guard. Even if it destroys the beauty of the islands? "Yes, even if it means that, though it would be better for that not to happen."

Commerce or conservation? It is not a simple stand-off, not least because oil companies are now much more alert to environmental issues than they used to be. Many sponsor environmental programmes. And as I learn on my return to Mafia, deep-sea rigs can sometimes be an ecological benefit. "Fish collect round structures like rigs," says Audie Murphy, a diving instructor at Kinasi, "they can act as artificial reefs, which is important when coral is being damaged, as a lack of coral has a massive effect on marine diversity."

Back in the MIMP offices, enforcement warden Sylvester Kazimoto isn't persuaded. "It all depends on how much of your natural resources you are willing to sacrifice for the national economy, and what dangers you are prepared to expose yourself to. Yes, a rig can act as a fish-aggregating device but it's not 100% safe. Anything can happen over time, such as big spills or gradual leakages."

It may be that the monsoons which sustained Mafia in the past are what will protect it when oil drilling begins, as the drift currents they produce are not directly onshore. But more general trade-wind patterns do come onshore, and air pollution can be as much of a problem from oil rigs as water pollution.

If there is to be a mwafaka , or reconciliation, between economics and conservation, the ecology of the whole coastline needs to be considered, not just that of the marine park. This process will involve understanding that money and ecology must work in concert. Once again the environmental dictum holds: "It's all one."
© Guardian News & Media 2008
Published: 9/10/2003

Friday, June 25, 2010

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Chapter on Nigeria




Enlarge ImageIn twenty earlier articles, I republished all preliminary parts and several chapters – country profiles of the 2010 Annual Report released a few days ago by the leading humanitarian NGO Amnesty International. Titles of and links to the articles are made herewith available.

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Foreword. Pursuing justice: For all Rights, for all People (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159774)

The Amnesty International Report 2010 - Report at a Glance, and World by Region (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159780)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Key Issues: Human Rights Defenders, Justice and Development (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159784)

Amnesty International 2010 Report: Global Justice Gap Condemns Millions to Abuse (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159789)

Terrorist State of Fake Ethiopia Must Cease to Exist. Amnesty International
Devastating Report (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159808)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Recapitulative Chapter on Africa (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159963)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Recapitulative Chapter on Middle East and North Africa (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159969)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Biased Chapter on Eritrea Denounced
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/159996)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Omissions in the Chapter on Sudan: Nubians, Bejas (Blemmyes) (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160037)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Peace, Justice Impose the Split of the Colonial Fabrication Kenya (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160038)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Uganda: a Genocidal State Threat for Regional Peace and Security (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160172)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Rwanda: A Genocide Ideology Promoting State (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160174)

Cancerous Tumors Somaliland, Puntland, Civil War’s Root Causes. Amnesty Int’l 2010 Report on Somalia
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160179),

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Biased Chapter on Libya, Oppression of Berber Identity, Language
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160191)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Biased Chapter on Tunisia Avoids Any Reference to Berbers
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160419)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Biased Chapter on Algeria Avoids Any Mention of Kabylia, Tuareg
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160420)

Pan-Arabist Tyranny of Morocco Guilty for Berber, Western Saharan Genocides. Amnesty Int’l Report
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160424)

Amnesty International 2010 Report. Chapter on Mauritania
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160625)

AI 2010 Report. Biased Chapter on Mali in Full Accord with US – French Neocolonial, Racist Orders
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160628)

Colonial Pseudo-state Niger Geared to Oppress, Destroy the Great Tuareg Nation. Amnesty Int’l Report
(http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/160633)

In forthcoming articles, I will republish further chapters from the Report, highlighting omissions, oversights and cases of unbalanced presentation. In the present article, I republish the chapter on Nigeria.

Federal Republic of Nigeria – Profile
Head of state and government: Umaru Musa Yar’Adua
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 154.7 million
Life expectancy: 47.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 190/184 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 72 per cent

The police continued to commit with impunity a wide range of human rights violations, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances. Some people were targeted for failing to pay bribes. Several people were tortured to death in police detention. Prisoners were held in appalling conditions, many of whom had been awaiting trial for years. The government intimidated and harassed human rights defenders and journalists. Violence against women remained endemic, and abuses against people suspected of same-sex relationships continued. Forced evictions affected thousands of people across the country.

At least 58 people were sentenced to death, bringing to more than 870 the number of prisoners on death row. Many were sentenced after unfair trials. However, the government announced a "self-imposed moratorium" on executions. In the Niger Delta, clashes continued in the first half of the year between armed groups and the security forces, resulting in many deaths, including of bystanders. The security situation improved after the President offered an amnesty to members of armed groups in August.

Background

In February, Nigeria’s human rights situation was examined by the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group. In June, Nigeria announced it accepted 30 of the 32 recommendations made by the UPR Working Group.

In July, Nigeria acceded to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

In March, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kehinde Ajoni, was dismissed and subsequently replaced by Roland Ewubare. Her removal may have been arbitrary. By the end of 2009, a bill aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the NHRC had still not been passed. Since November 2007, the NHRC had not had a governing council.

In July, more than 800 people, including 24 police officers, died during a week of clashes between members of the religious group Boko Haram and security forces in Borno, Kano, Katsina and Yobe states.

On 26 July, members of Boko Haram attacked a police station in Bauchi state. Boko Haram’s leader, Muhammad Yusuf, was arrested on 30 July in Maiduguri, Borno state. Later that day the police announced that he had been killed while attempting to escape.

On 13 August, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, stated that Muhammad Yusuf had been killed in police custody. The government announced it would investigate all the killings, but no further developments were made public.

In November, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice ruled that Nigerians have a legal and human right to education, following a case brought by the Nigerian NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment in November, had not returned to Nigeria by the end of the year nor handed over his powers to the Vice-President.

In December, a clash between a religious group and the police in Bauchi state resulted in the death of at least 65 people, including children.

Unlawful killings and enforced disappearances

Hundreds of people died at the hands of the police. Many were unlawfully killed before or during arrest in the street or at roadblocks, or subsequently in police detention. Others were tortured to death in police detention. A large proportion of these unlawful killings may have constituted extrajudicial executions. Many other people disappeared after arrest. The families of such victims rarely receive redress and are often left with no answers. Most perpetrators remain unpunished. Although the police have mechanisms to receive complaints from the public, these complaints are often unprocessed.

Police shot and injured Christian Onuigbo on 19 March while he was parking his car in Jiwa, Federal Capital Territory. He spent the night at Jiwa police station and was taken to hospital the next morning. Staff at the hospital refused to treat him without a police report, which was finally submitted at 4pm. Christian Onuigbo died the following day.

Aneke Okorie, an Okada (motorcycle taxi) rider, was shot after he failed to pay a bribe to the police at a checkpoint in Emene, Enugu state, on 15 May. He died on the way to hospital. An eyewitness told Amnesty International that the police officer shot Aneke Okorie in the stomach and then hung his gun around Aneke Okorie’s neck to suggest that the police officer had been attacked by an armed robber. In September, the police officer was dismissed and prosecuted; he was awaiting trial at the end of the year.

Stanley Adiele Uwakwe and Faka Tamunotonye Kalio were arrested on 10 May and brought to Old GRA detention centre in Port Harcourt. After several days, they were transferred to another police station, but officers there told relatives that the men were not in detention. Unofficially, relatives were informed that the men had been killed by the police.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The police frequently used torture and other ill-treatment when interrogating suspects and there was no standardized mechanism to prevent such practices. Confessions extracted under torture continued to be used as evidence in court.

On 19 November, three Okada riders were accused by community members of theft and handed over to the police. The men said their motorbikes had been stolen by the community. They were held for seven days by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in Borokiri, Port Harcourt, and beaten every night with the butt of a gun and an iron belt. They also said they were given water mixed with chemicals to drink, which caused internal wounds. The same water was poured over their bodies, causing pain and a rash. After an NGO lodged a complaint, the men were released on bail.

Justice system

Despite repeated government pledges to address the problems in the criminal justice system, little progress was made. A review of the Police Act (1990) started in 2004 had still not resulted in new law. The vast majority of recommendations made in previous years by two presidential commissions, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture were not implemented.

Seven out of 10 inmates in prison were pre-trial detainees. Many had been held for years awaiting trial in appalling conditions. Few could afford a lawyer and the government-funded Legal Aid Council had fewer than 100 lawyers for the whole country.

The Federal Ministry of Justice said it arranged lawyers to take up the cases of prisoners without legal representation. However, by the end of 2009 the impact of the scheme was not evident and prison overcrowding had not improved. The scheme did not address the causes of delays in the criminal justice system.

In July, the Lagos State Governor signed the Magistrates’ Court Bill into law; suspects must be brought to court within 24 hours and only qualified legal practitioners can prosecute them.

In August, the new Interior Minister, Dr Shetima Mustapha, reiterated the commitment to reform prisons. At the end of 2009, most justice sector reform bills were still pending before the National Assembly.

Death penalty

At least 58 people were sentenced to death. At the end of the year, around 860 men and 11 women were on death row. Hundreds of them had not received a fair trial.

No steps were taken to implement the recommendations made in 2004 by the National Study Group on the Death Penalty and in 2007 by the Presidential Commission on Reform of the Administration of Justice to adopt a moratorium on executions. In February, however, at the fourth session of the UPR, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that Nigeria continued to exercise "a self-imposed moratorium" on executions.

In June, the Governor of Lagos state pardoned and released three death row prisoners. A further 29 prisoners in Lagos state had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment and eight others to various prison terms.

Kidnapping was made a capital offence in six states Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo and a bill to this end remained pending in Delta state.

Violence against women

Violence against women remained pervasive, including domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence by state officials and private individuals. The authorities consistently failed to exercise due diligence in preventing and addressing sexual violence by both state and non-state actors, leading to an entrenched culture of impunity.

While some states in Nigeria have adopted state legislation to protect women from discrimination and violence, the UN Women’s Convention had yet to be implemented at federal and state level almost 25 years after its ratification.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Human rights abuses against individuals suspected of same-sex sexual relations continued. Nigeria’s Criminal Code penalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. Islamic law in Nigeria criminalizes "sodomy" and in some states makes it punishable by death.

The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008, which would introduce criminal penalties for marriage ceremonies between people of the same sex and for people witnessing or helping to formalize such marriages, was debated by government but not passed into law.

Freedom of expression

Human rights defenders and journalists critical of the government faced increased intimidation and harassment. At least 26 journalists were arrested by the State Security Service or police. Some were released after a few hours while others were detained incommunicado for up to 12 days. In addition, media offices were raided, TV stations shut down and journalists threatened and beaten by police and security forces.

In September, Bayo Ohu, Assistant News Editor of The Guardian newspaper, was killed in his home in Lagos in suspicious circumstances. Apart from his mobile phone and laptop, nothing was stolen.

In November, three journalists were arrested in Port Harcourt after they published a story about a shooting incident in Bundu, Port Harcourt. One was released after two days, the other two after five days. They were charged with publishing false news.

In November, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urged the federal government to withdraw the Nigerian Press Council and the Practice of Journalism in Nigeria Bill 2009, which would restrict freedom of expression if passed into law.

By the end of 2009, the Freedom of Information Bill, first presented in 1999, remained pending before the National Assembly.

Niger Delta

In the first six months of 2009, armed groups and gangs kidnapped dozens of oil workers and their relatives, including children, and attacked many oil installations. The security forces, including the military, continued to commit human rights violations in the Niger Delta, including extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment, and destruction of homes. According to reports, the Joint Task Force (JTF), which combines troops of the army, navy, air force and the mobile police, frequently raided communities. Such raids often happened following clashes between the JTF and militants, often resulting in the death of bystanders.

In May, a clash between the JTF and armed groups in Delta state led to two weeks of fighting between the two sides as well as land and air strikes by the JTF on communities and militants’ camps across the Warri South and South West local government areas in Delta state. The area was occupied by the JTF for several months, with residents only able to return in August.

Most houses were destroyed. Amnesty International was told that at least 30 bystanders, including children, were killed and many more wounded as a result of the JTF intervention.

In October, most leaders and members of armed groups in the Niger Delta accepted an amnesty offered by the federal government in August. The amnesty covered "offences associated with militant activities in the Niger Delta". While the security situation subsequently improved, there appeared to be no plan to address the causes of the conflict.

Pollution and environmental damage caused by the oil industry continued to have a serious impact on people living in the Niger Delta. More than 60 per cent of residents depend on the natural environment for their livelihood.

Communities in the Niger Delta frequently had no access to basic information about the impact of the oil industry on their lives. The laws and regulations to protect the environment continued to be poorly enforced. Government agencies responsible for enforcement were ineffective and, in some cases, compromised by conflicts of interest. The Petroleum Industry Bill, which would reform Nigeria’s oil industry legislation, remained pending. However, it fails to address the social and human rights impacts of the oil industry.

Right to adequate housing – forced evictions

Forced evictions continued throughout Nigeria. The authorities failed to provide compensation or alternative housing to people forcibly evicted from their homes. Some communities faced their third forced eviction. In Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers state, forced evictions were carried out throughout the year along the waterfront, affecting thousands of people.

On 28 August, thousands of people were forcibly evicted from Njemanze Community, Port Harcourt.

On 12 October in Bundu Community, Port Harcourt, at least three people died and 11 were seriously injured after combined troops of the JTF and police used firearms to disperse a crowd demonstrating against intended demolitions and blocking their entry into the community.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Nigeria in June/July and November / December.

Nigeria: A new chance to commit to human rights – Implementation of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (AFR 44/014/2009)

Nigeria: Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta (AFR 44/017/2009)

Nigeria: Killings by security forces in Northern Nigeria (AFR 44/028/2009)

Nigeria: Thousands facing forcible eviction (AFR 44/032/2009)

Nigeria: Promoting and protecting human rights – A ten point national agenda (AFR 44/035/2009)

Killing at will – Extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings by the police in Nigeria (AFR 44/038/2009)

Note
Picture: Ethnic map of Nigeria
From: http://www.artheos.org/images/3132.jpg

By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
Published: 6/4/2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Electoral Reforms In Nigeria

This paper examined elections in Nigeria by highlighting the challenges and opportunities for electoral reforms in Nigeria.The paper recommended the need for political commitment from the political leadership for successful electoral reform. It also recommended that government should strengthen the independence and capacity of electoral body.INTRODUCTION

In the contemporary world of today, elections have become the most acceptable means of changing leadership in any given political system. Election ordinarily, in most democratic states is usually conducted by an institution set up by law in a given society. Representative government is often referred to as democracy where the authority of government is derived solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections.

History has shown that it is usually difficult to hold elections that are completely free and fair. Even the United States (US) election that led to the victory of President Bush was alleged to be marred with irregularities in the State of Florida. Studies on elections have revealed that transiting from one regime to another is often the problem in most African states. For instance, the recent elections in Kenya were reported to be seriously flawed and impacted by irregularities in vote tabulation and reporting of results. In Nigeria, the 1999, 2003 and 2007 Presidential elections were reported to be marred by irregularities by foreign and local observers.

It is generally believed among some scholars that elections in Nigeria impact negatively on national development. It is on the basis of the above concern that a general consensus has been formed among scholars that there is the need for electoral reforms. The nature, scope and methodology of such reforms have remained topical in national debate. This paper is therefore aimed at examining elections in Nigeria with a view to highlighting the challenges and opportunities for electoral reforms in Nigeria.

ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
Since the transition from military rule to the civilian Fourth Republic, Nigeria’s quest for effective democratic governance has confronted many challenges. The integrity of the electoral system is a major issue facing Nigeria’s new democracy. It is known from past history that turbulent elections have been a source of political crisis in Nigeria. Controversies surrounding elections have serious potential to undermine the legitimacy and stability of democracy. There could be the most serious consequences for democratic development if political leaders are unable to reach consensus on rules of political conduct, and if the Nigerian public therefore becomes alienated from the electoral process. Nigerians would universally suffer from further political crises or an interruption of democratic rule. Even President Umar Musa Yar’Adua acknowledged the fact that Nigerian electoral system needs reform. It was on the basis of the above that Yar’Adua made the issue of electoral reforms an integral part of his seven point agenda.

CHALLENGES
Electoral reform is an urgent challenge for Nigeria’s developing democracy. Controversies over past elections in Nigeria have undermined previous democratic regimes. It may be recalled that the controversies that erupted in the 1983 Presidential elections paved way for the military to seize power and put an end to the fledging democracy. Furthermore, 1992 elections conducted by the Babaginda regime led to the June 12 crisis that almost tore the entire country apart. From historical records, it can be deduced that the electoral system in Nigeria has a lot of lapses which makes it possible for political leaders to rig elections. This proposition was confirmed by the court of Appeal sitting in a recent election petition matter which described the Nigerian electoral Act 2006 as an Election rigging manual.

One of the challenges that the Nigerian electoral body faces is the fact that all elections are held within the same period. This alone creates room for rigging because the electoral body is over worked and exposed to poor security arrangement. The electoral body is also faced with the challenges of poor staffing as it has to source ad hoc staff. As the nation continues to grapple with the problems associated with Nigeria’s electoral system, it is essential, to at this juncture address the problems in the electoral system and to prepare the groundwork for smooth, peaceful, and credible elections in the future. There is widespread concern that irregularities in elections could undermine the legitimacy and stability of Nigeria’s democratic system. Urgent reforms are therefore needed to correct these flaws in future polls.

OPPORTUNITIES
Despite the identified challenges facing Nigeria’s electoral system, it must be acknowledged that there are still opportunities available to Nigeria for a viable and efficient electoral system. In this regard, there is the need for the following:

a. Political Commitment to Reform. Free and fair elections are a key to building a democracy. The first step is for political leaders, from all branches of government and every political grouping, to affirm their commitment to basic principles for a free, fair, and violence-free election in the future. Political commitment at the highest levels is needed for successful electoral reform, and the major participants in contesting elections must unite around common standards of conduct and rules of law.

b. Strengthening the Independence and Capacity of Electoral Body. The general view among Nigerians is that all the independent bodies set up to conduct elections often lacks sufficient independence or effectiveness to administer fair and transparent elections. Above all, a credible election process requires an independent, non-partisan, competent, and professional election administration. To achieve this goal, the following steps government needs to adopt the following:
i. Appointment. The process of appointment for future electoral body has to assure that the body members are competent and non-partisan, and that they enjoy a reputation for neutrality. While there are different ways to accomplish this, the overall modalities for selecting such officials should be revised. Electorates should have a say on who becomes electoral officers by way of referendum. Alternatively, a reputable body such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) could propose candidates directly to the Senate for confirmation.
ii. Term. To secure independence, the senior officials of the electoral body like the commissioners should be career civil servants.

iii. Conducting Election. Experience has shown that Nigeria’s elections are usually conducted together within the same period. The resultant effect is that such election are hastily conducted paving way for a lot of irregularities that are beyond the control of the electoral body. It is in this regard that this paper argues that there are opportunities for Nigeria to spread its election over the period of complete government tenure.
iv. Funding. Such electoral body requires a secure source of funding to ensure adequate resources for election administration, and availability of funds as needed. The electoral body should be able to present its budget directly to the National Assembly (as obtainable in Canada, another federal democracy), and its funding should come from consolidated revenue. The level of funding for such body could be determined by a standard formula that reflects the number of registered voters times the average cost of conducting an election per voter.
v. Party Representation. The political parties should not directly administer elections, but they need to have a voice in the electoral body to convey concerns, as well as a channel for being informed. Therefore, they could be represented in an established Advisory Council, which could sit in on the electoral body meetings but could not vote. Importantly, there is the need for independent candidacy in all elections.
vi. Professional Training. Such electoral body should develop a career professional service, equivalent to the career foreign service. Amending the conditions of service and the standards of professionalism within the electoral body will raise the capacities and the stature of the institution, better positioning the body to oversee elections. As a point of comparison, Mexico made the transition from a weak electoral system to a highly trained and professional institution in less than a decade, and a key element in its success was training.
vi. Polling and Counting Procedures. There is great concern that the official count in recent elections did not accurately reflect the preferences of the people, and that the right to a secret ballot was often violated. To address these concerns, both voting and counting procedures should be made more transparent and subject to stronger independent oversight. The following improvements are essential:
(1) Polling at each precinct should be done in the presence of party agents and domestic observers, and procedures to ensure ballot secrecy should be reviewed and improved.
(2) Sheets with final results should be signed at each polling station by designated polling officials, party agents, and domestic observers, with copies available for all.
(3) Representatives of party agents and independent observers must be allowed to accompany the forms to collation and counting centers, and to witness each stage of tabulation.
(4) The results of the ballots should be available on the web down to the precinct level, so that the original signatories can verify that they were counted accurately.

vii. Campaign Finance and Conflict of Interest. There is a general believe among Nigerians that corruption in Nigerian politics undermines democracy and requires constant vigilance by government and civil society groups. The most assuring approach to stemming political corruption, as seen in many countries, includes regulations on contributions and campaign expenditures by parties and candidates, along with clear rules on conflict of interest.

CONCLUSION
Given Nigeria’s diversity, it is obvious that democracy is the sole political choice for its survival, and the best system for managing the nation’s current challenges is by fostering better governance, and ensuring popular welfare. This can be achieved through an efficient electoral system. The fact remains that the current electoral system is faulty and requires reforms. In adopting electoral reforms, the following are recommended.

RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are hereby recommended:

a. There is the need for political commitment from the political leadership for successful electoral reform.
b. Government should strengthen the independence and capacity of electoral body.
c. There is the need to spread elections over a period of time.
d. There is the need for independent candidacy as obtainable in other civilized democracies. By abubakar yusuf mamud

Tax Policy In Nigeria

This paper examined tax policy in Nigeria. It traced the history of tax in Nigeria and the implementation of tax policy in Nigeria. The paper argued that tax policy has been ineffective over the years. It found that the Federal Government has been working towards tax reforms. The paper highlighted the flaws in the tax reforms and made recommendations for effective tax system in Nigeria.INTRODUCTION

A tax policies represent key resource allocator between the public and private sectors in a country. It is usually imposed on individuals and entity that make up a country. The funds provided by tax are used by the states to support certain state obligations such as education systems, health care systems, pensions for the elderly, unemployment benefits, and public transportation. A nation’s tax system is often a reflection of its communal values or the values of those in power. To create a system of taxation, a nation must make choices regarding the distribution of the tax burden-who will pay taxes and how much they will pay-and how the taxes collected will be spent.

In Nigeria, the taxation system dates back to 1904 when the personal income tax was introduced in northern Nigeria before the unification of the country by the colonial masters. It was later implemented through the Native Revenue Ordinances to the western and eastern regions in 1917 and 1928, respectively. Among other amendments in the 1930s, it was later incorporated into Direct Taxation Ordinance No. 4 of 1940. Since then different governments have continued to try to improve on Nigeria’s taxation system. The general opinion among scholars is that Nigeria’s fiscal regime is characterized by unnecessary complex, distortionary and largely inequitable taxation laws that have limited application in the formal sector that dominates the economy.

Given the foregoing, it is important that Nigeria adopt a taxation policy that would enhance national development. I am aware of the draft national tax policy that has been submitted for enactment by the National Assembly of Nigeria. My intention is to examine the Draft National Tax Policy with a view to correcting perceived flaws inherent in the document. To enhance the understanding of this paper, I begin with making a review Nigeria’s tax system and the current Draft National Tax Policy. I will attempt to identify the challenges inherent in the current reform and proffer strategies for an efficient tax regime in Nigeria.

OVERVIEW OF TAXATION SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian tax system is basically structured as a tool for revenue collection. This is a legacy from the pre-independence government. Based on 1948 British tax laws and have been mainly static since enactment. The need to tax personal incomes throughout the country prompted the Income Tax Management Act (ITMA) of 1961. In Nigeria, personal income tax (PIT) for salaried employment is based on a ‘pay as you earn’ (PAYE) system, and several amendments have been made to the 1961 ITMA Act. For instance, in 1985 PIT was increased from N 600 or 10 per cent of earned income to N 2,000 plus 12.5 per cent of income exceeding N 6,000. In 1989, a 15 per cent withholding tax was applied to savings deposits valued at N 50,000 or more while tax on rental income was extended to cover chartered vessels, ships or aircraft. In addition, tax on the fees of directors was fixed at 15 per cent. These policies were geared to achieving effective protection for local industries, greater use of local raw materials, generating increased government revenue among others.

Since the implementation of the structural adjustment programme (SAP), however, taxes have been used to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of business enterprises. Consequently, attention has been focused on promoting exports of manufactures and reducing the tax burden of individuals and companies. In line with this change in policy focus, many measures were undertaken. These involved, among others, reviewing custom and excise duties, continuing with the reduction of company and income taxes, expanding the range of tax exemptions and rebates, introducing capital allowance, expanding the duty drawback scheme and manufacturing-in-bond scheme, abolishing excise duty, implementing VAT, monetizing fringe benefits and increasing tax relief to low-income earners.

CURRENT TAXATION REFORMS IN NIGERIA
In 2002, a Study Group (the SG) was inaugurated to review the entire tax system in Nigeria. The terms of reference included:
• Review all aspects of the Nigerian Tax System and recommend improvements therein.
• Review the entire tax administration and recommend improvements in the structure for the whole country.
• Consider measures to bring international developments in tax administration to bear in Nigeria.

In 2004, a Working Group (the WG) was inaugurated to review the report and recommendations of the SG. – The WG agreed with the SG’s recommendations for a National Tax Policy and recommended the creation of an autonomous National Customs & Revenue Authority to assimilate all tax administration powers and duties with funding from retained tax revenues. The WG also reviewed each SG proposed modification to existing tax laws and provided comments thereon. They include, strengthening of Tax Administration, proposed prioritized strategies for implementing the proposed reform and passage of new tax Bills. Subsequent to the report of the WG in 2004, the government has presented the following tax legislation to the National Assembly:
• The Federal Inland Revenue Service Act to establish the agency as an autonomous body and guarantee its funding from a percentage of retained tax collections.
• Amendments to the Personal Income Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act and the VAT Act.
• For the most part, the amendment Bills reflect the recommendations of the SG and WG.7
It is expected that the new tax legislation will be passed into law by 2006, however, today, 4 out of the 8 Tax Bills, namely; Bill for an Act to establish the FIRS as an autonomous Service, Bill for an Act to amend the Companies Income Tax Act, Bill for an Act to amend the Petroleum Profit Tax and Bill for an Act to amend the National Automotive Council Act have been passed by the National Assembly and signed into laws by President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on April 16, 2007, while the remaining four Tax Bills are still at the fiscal debate stage of the parliament.

CHALLENGES OF THE DRAFT NATIONAL TAX POLICY
A thorough examination of the current national taxation policy reveal that it is comprehensive when compared with earlier attempts at designing a policy. However, there are some perceived challenges that this draft is likely going to face because of the experiences of past taxation laws. These challenges are as follows:
• Administrative Challenge. Experience has shown that the institutional capacity to administer taxes effectively is woefully lacking in this country. Procedures, reinforced by third party audits, appear to ensure that taxes are paid and received albeit with potentially serious and costly internal lags. However, Nigeria lacks capacity to assess the reasonableness of the returns submitted by taxpayers, including costs and staffing, skills, pay scales, and other funding, and computer and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. Meanwhile the current draft has not put in place an administrative strategy.

• Compliance Challenges. A recurring problem with PIT Nigeria is the non-compliance of employers to register their employees and to remit such taxes to relevant authorities. To address this, in 2002 the government amended the 1993 PIT Act to make non-compliant employers liable to penalties up to N 25,000, as well as liable for the payment of all tax arrears. Employers failing to keep proper records would also face a penalty of N 5,000. A fine this small tends to encourage tax evasion since the penalty for being caught is lower than the cost for non-compliance. The issues of unremitted funds from the PAYE system and withholding taxes particularly among government ministries and agencies as well as lax adherence by all three levels of government to the approved list for (tax) collection, as stipulated by the 1998 Taxes and Levies Act 21, have over the past five years attracted the attention of Joint Tax Board (JTB). This same issue of compliance was not properly addressed in the draft national tax policy.

• Lack of Equality. Tax in Nigeria especially (PIT) personal income tax always fails in Nigeria for lack of equitability. Even the present draft sent to the National Assembly could not provide solution to this challenge. In spite of the fact that the self-employed outnumber paid workers and that they earn as much as four times that of the formal sector employees, the bulk of PIT today is paid by employees whose salaries are deducted at source.
• Challenge of Multiplicity of Taxes. There is the challenge of multiplicity of taxes which is a major problem with the draft document. Already Nigeria is known for having problems with compliance. How does would the Federal Ministry of Finance grapple with this problem because it is not contained in the strategy document. It must be noted that a good tax policy set out the fundamental objectives of a country's tax system and prescribe some guidelines that would shape government policy actions.
• Poor Taxation Drive from Tiers of Government. The political economy of revenue allocation in Nigeria even with the current draft document does not prioritize tax efforts. It is, instead, anchored on such factors as equality of states (40 per cent), population (30 per cent), landmass and terrain (10 per cent), social development needs (10 per cent), and internal revenue efforts (10 per cent). The approach, discourages a proactive revenue drive, particularly for internally generated revenue, makes all government tiers heavily reliant on unstable oil revenues which are affected by the volatility of the international oil markets. Aside from the national syndrome of ‘cake sharing’, the instability and volatility of oil revenue should have created an opportunity for improved tax efforts within the provisions on taxation ratified in the 1999 Constitution. Although some state governments have initiated measures to enhance their tax generation attempts, the outcome has not reflected any level of serious effort.

THE WAY FORWARD

PASS THE DRAFT NATIONAL TAX POLICY INTO LAW
The way forward from is for the government to implement the tax policy. A lot of resources and time has been invested in the current draft national tax policy. Even though there are obvious flaws in some areas, there is the urgent need for the National Assembly to pass it into law. A tax regime that lacks the policy hub cannot achieve the desire objectives.

IMPROVE COMPLIANCE STRATEGY
Compliance has always been a problem in Nigeria’s tax system. Even the current draft national tax document did not spell out clearly the compliance strategy. During the military era, the Tax Force Unit was used to enforce tax compliance. However, with democratic rule, this is not allowed and the use of the traditional court system is not only too cumbersome but also time consuming. To this effect, a bill for a tax court has been prepared by the state to replace the Tax Force. The bill has been discussed at the cabinet level, and is currently being amended by the Ministry of Justice after which it will be presented to the National Assembly. When this bill becomes operational, it is hoped that compliance will be improved.

IMPROVE ADMINISTRATION OF TAX
One of the major challenges of tax in Nigeria is the administration of tax. Even the current draft national tax policy suggested the use of tax consultants to collect revenues from government ministries and agencies. This is a major flaw as PAYE does not give a true picture of performance. This is revenue that is collected at source with minimal effort and could easily be collected by government tax or revenue officials. Thus, the practice of including certain taxes (PAYE and other revenue deducted at source) within the government machinery as components of a revenue benchmark for tax consultants will not be a solution.

STAKEHOLDERS’ CONSULTATION
It is also imperative for government to consider taxpayers’ and other key stakeholders’ interests in fiscal policy formulation and implementation in order to achieve improved tax compliance rate in the country. In other words, since taxes are statute-derived, government should encourage far-reaching consultation across the broad spectrum of the economy in tax law formulation.

CONCLUSION
This paper examined the various steps so far taken by Nigerian government and relevant stakeholder in the Nigeria’s tax system. The paper further reviewed tax regime in Nigeria from the since 1904 to the ongoing tax reforms. It reviewed the tax reforms and concluded that the meets the requirement for a national tax policy. The paper however identified a number of flaws that could affect the efficient workability of the draft policy. It highlighted these flaws and proffered the way forward for Nigeria.

RECOMMENDATIONS
On the basis of the foregoing, the following are recommended:
• The current draft national tax policy should be passed into law by the National Assembly so as to make it a working document.
• Government should consider taxpayers’ and other key stakeholders’ interests in fiscal policy formulation and implementation in order to achieve improved tax compliance rate in the country.
• Government needs to improve the revenue allocation system so as to boost the taxation drive by the different tiers of government.

NOTES
Adekanola, O. ‘Efficient Tax Collection and Effective Tax Administration in Nigeria’. (A Paper presented at a seminar organized by the University of Lagos Consultancy Services Otta, 15 May 1997).

Ajakaiye, D. O., and A. F. Odusola ‘Price Effects of Value Added Tax in Nigeria’. NCEMA Policy Analysis Series, 2 (2): 48-68. Ibadan: National Centre for Economic Management and Administration, 1996.

Odusola, A. F. ‘Internally Generated Revenue at the Local Government: Issues and Challenges’. (A Paper presented at the Workshop on Revenue Generation at the State Government Level, Ibadan: University of Ibadan, October 2003).

Draft Document on the National Tax Policy, updated as at 7 June 2008. (Presentation by the Presidential Committee on National Tax Policy). By abubakar yusuf mamud

Policy Conundrum in Nigeria: A Close-up on the Health Sector

Brief analysis of the persistent failure of the Nigerian government to formulate society-oriented policies, and the lack of political will to implement those already formed. It focuses on the health sector and the appalling human developmental indices from it as a showcase of the policy conundrum in Nigeria.The growth, advancement and sustainable development of a people depend on the policy that guides them. Public Policy can briefly be described as government’s definite plan of action regarding the welfare and the general wellbeing of its citizenry.

Nigerian’s public policy has been evolving since after independence. However, there remain several gaps that have made the Nigerian public policy a fiasco.

While the Nigerian public policy claim to be rational, responsive and possess clear goals and methods, the reality on ground reveals that the policy is largely not feasible, not always backed with enabling laws and structure, and not always followed up with implementation actions. The result is that the public policy of Nigeria does not embody the general welfare of the society, but that of the powerful few. Hence, those who continue to lose out are the majority while the gains rest with the powerful minority, or the upper class in the social stratification of the society.

During the decades of the military junta in Nigeria, several decrees were passed, like the now infamous decree 2 of 1984 [that allowed citizens to be detained endlessly without bail or trial, many notable citizens dying in that process] which only benefited one group- the dictators of Nigeria. It was never legitimized and was never duly enacted. Those military decrees only served as the dictator’s instruments for tyranny and oppression of the innocent citizens, and it was a powerful blockade on those who may have attempted to question government’s actions and inactions.

The Nigerian public policy has a lot of aspects that are not feasible. For example, there is usually a time lag between budget draft and passing at the National Assembly and it’s hardly ever fully implemented. Several national projects, like the Green revolution, the Structural adjustment Program, Mass Mobilization for self reliance, the vision 2010, the Privatization policy, Education for all by Year 2000, the National integrated power project, the electoral reform policy and countless others which held promises all went down, and died naturally, either due to poor implementation or follow-up by succeeding administrations. This lack of continuity has led to the policies all slowing down before reaching full throttle. Now we have the 7-Point Agenda and before Nigerians could get into the sense of it, there is the vision 2020!

It is obvious therefore, that Nigeria does not suffer from policy enactment. No. The nation is blessed with abundant human and natural resources, and she has produced renowned policy makers and technocrats. However, the bane of the Nigerian public policy has been implementation and policy administration. Until the entire policy system is overhauled, and care is taken to ensure adequate follow-up and monitoring and implementation of policies, the vicious cycle of poor policies with its consequent negative effects on national growth and development will continue to plague the Nigerian state, and the health care, economic, social and infrastructural development will continue to stutter and decay.

The national indices of Nigeria are shocking. Nigeria ranks 158th out of 177 countries as indicated by the UNDP at the end of 2008 human development index report; the life expectancy is 46.5, which is one of the poorest in Africa; gross domestic product per capita is USD 792.31; less than half of the populace has access to safe water (48%). According to the State of the World Children report recently released by UNICEF in 2009, about 778 newborn babies die daily in Nigeria. 1 woman die every 10 minutes from pregnancy complication and (or) childbirth; and Nigeria is ranked as the second highest contributor to the number of maternal deaths worldwide, second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo. [And if you think about all the political crises, wars and economic distress the DRC has faced over the past ten years, would you not wonder why it is Nigeria that is second to the DRC?] The average Nigerian lives on less than USD 2 daily. About 80% of the populations are farmers, yet these subsistent farmers have not, and cannot claim ownership of farmlands due to the land tenure systems and land laws in Nigeria. The large percentage of these farmers still lives in rural areas devoid of basic amenities like water, motorable roads, electricity and adequate shelter. Yet, Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth, with about 150 million people. Is this how to be the "Giant of Africa"?
This state of decay can be traced to one source- corruption and bad policy administration in Nigeria.

Can Nigeria survive? It looks grim at the moment. Take a look at the Millennium Development Goals. See the priority attention given to poverty eradication, basic education, sustainable development and public health related issues like maternal and child mortality, and eradication of infectious diseases like malaria and pandemics like HIV/AIDS. Is there any nation that can attempt to attain these lofty goals without a well thought out, well consummated and implemented national policy? The answer is obvious.

Now, also take a look at the framework for the future development of Africa, encapsulated in the legal document known as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It can be summarized as a calculated attempt to uplift Africa as a State out of the shackles of poverty, illiteracy and disease, and empower the African economy, thereby leading to capacity building and sustainable development. Can Nigeria attain this? Not without a feasible and all encompassing national policy project at least.

Now, look at Mr. President’s 7-Point Agenda, which is the policy blueprint for the present administration. Lofty on paper; not uncommon among Nigerian leaders. But can it be implemented? Can the nation move forward when only 40% of the annual budget is expended and the remaining 60% unaccounted for? Can the nation move forward when, on the 17th of February, 2009, after hearing the UNICEF’s State of the World Children report about Nigeria, the First-Lady of the federal republic orders a fresh survey to be carried out and reject a document that should be sobering enough to cause a national policy savage mission? Really, can Nigeria move forward?

For Nigeria to survive, and live the dream of her founding fathers, then radical re-evaluation of the Nigerian policy is needed, and the sooner the better. For now, it is but a quagmire. By Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters

Friday, May 21, 2010

PROSPECT FOR CONTRACT FARMING IN NIGERIA I

Contract farming is agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products.[1]
Typically, the farmer agrees to provide established quantities of a specific agricultural product, meeting the quality standards and delivery schedule set by the purchaser. In turn, the buyer commits to purchase the product, often at a pre-determined price.
In some cases the buyer also commits to support production through, for example,
 supplying farm inputs,
 land preparation,
 providing technical advice and
 arranging transport of produce to the buyer’s premises.
Another term often used to refer to contract farming operations is ‘out-grower schemes”, whereby farmers are linked with a large farm or processing plant which supports
 production planning,
 input supply,
 extension advice and
 transport.
Contract farming is used for a wide variety of agricultural products.
THE RATIONALE FOR CONTRACT FARMING
Contract farming is one of the different governance mechanisms for transactions in agrifood chains.
The use of contracts (either formal or informal) has become attractive to many agricultural producers worldwide because of benefits such as the assured market and access to support services.
It is also a system of interest to buyers who are looking for assured supplies of produce for sale or for processing.
Processors are among the most important users of contracts, as they wish to assure full utilization of their plant processing capacity.
A key feature of contract farming is that it facilitates backward and forward market linkages that are the cornerstone of market-led, commercial agriculture.
Well managed contract farming is considered as an effective approach to help solve many of the market linkage and access problems for small farmers.
KEY BENEFITS OF CONTRACT FARMING
The key benefits of contract farming for farmers can be summarized as follows:
1) improved access to local markets;
2) assured markets and prices (lower risks) especially for non traditional crops;
3) assured and often higher returns;
4) enhanced farmer access to production inputs, mechanization and transport services, and extension advice
Additional key benefits for contract partners and rural development often include:
1) assured quality and timeliness in delivery of farmers’ products;
2) improved local infrastructure, such as roads and irrigation facilities in sugar outgrower areas, tea roads, dairy coolers/collection centres, etc.
3) lower transport costs, as coordinated and larger loads are planned, an especially important feature in the case of more dispersed producers..

MEMO TO THE NEW PRESIDENT:HOW TO SOLVE NIGERIAN UNEMPLOYMENT IN JUST SIX MONTHS I

STATE OF THE NATION’S UNEMPLOYMENT
Nigeria is still a nation where guestimate strategy is the only way of getting data for planning purposes. however from the works of several agencies including United nation and western bodies, one can relatively do some sort of planning and forecast about issues especially concerning poverty and unemployment in Nigeria. At the last Conference of High Expert on the employment situation held in April, 2009, Professor Diejomaoh succinctly put a summarized situation of employment in Nigeria as follows:
STRUCTURE OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA BY AGE AND SEX
• The Nigerian Youth bear the brunt of the employment crisis ;
• The unemployment rate of Nigerian youths defined as Nigerians in age15-24 was 34% in 2005,about three times the national composite average;
• Nigerian youth employment is about three times the average rate for sub-Saharan African countries and the global average of about 12%;
• Nigerian youths therefore bear an excessive burden when compared to their counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa and Globally;
• With regard to gender, available data confirms that female have higher unemployment rates both in Urban and rural areas, with the female rate in the range of 12%-14% and males 10%-12%;
STRUCTURE OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA BY EDUCATION LEVELS
• Out of all unemployed persons, about 60% of the total had no schooling;
• Those with primary education level accounted for about 18% of the unemployed;
• Those with secondary education accounted for about 19%;
• Whilst those with post secondary education accounted for about 4%;
• The main conclusion to be drawn from the above is that, whilst the bulk of the poor have no formal education,about40% of the unemployed have formal education, hence there is a significant problem of educated unemployed;
• Education counts. The better educated have better prospects of employment hence the need to expand investment in education.

STRUCTURE OF UNEMPLOYMENT,UNDER-EMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY LEVELS
• The bulk of the employment challenge lies in underemployment or those referred to as the working poor, that is, those who are actually working but cannot make ends meet, that is those who are working but are still very poor;
• Because of variability in definitions and unreliability of statistics, we cannot confidently quote rates of under-employment in Nigeria, but guestimates of about 60% have been cited;
• However, under-employment is very close to poverty levels;
• National Bureau Of statistics data indicate that the poverty incidence,i.e percentage of households living under poverty line was 54% in 2004 ( about 76 million Nigerians are very poor according to the world bank).This figure is higher than about 40% estimated for sub-Saharan Africa’


• Nigeria’s human development index is also below sub-saharan average-yet we call ourselves the GIANT OF AFRICA.