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Niger: Ghana opposition tears ECOWAS apart *Its panic action by scared visionless leaders *Read full statement

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Stop ECOWAS’ Aggression Against Niger

The Socialist Movement of Ghana calls on ECOWAS Heads of State to withdraw their threat of military action to reinstate former President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger.

War benefits nobody in West Africa

The ECOWAS threat is a strategic mistake. Predictably, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali have indicated that they will treat any attack on Niger as an attack on their countries and respond accordingly. In other words, ECOWAS’ adventurism has already split the sub-Region and could overnight escalate the political crisis in Niger to an existential crisis for the entire sub-Region – destroying millions of lives and hamper production of goods and services with severe ramifications for the entire continent.

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Military intervention cannot solve Niger’s crisis. Bazoum’s overthrow is only one minor expression of Niger’s crisis. The real crisis is underdevelopment. Despite its fabulous gold, hydrocarbons and uranium resources, Niger is one of the poorest countries on earth. This is because France has plundered the country ruthlessly for over a century using bankrupt local elites to repress dissent and to play ethnic and religious communities off against each other and frustrate popular organisation. Niger’s neocolonial crisis deepened when NATO destroyed Libya in 2011, encouraging hardened Islamist fighters from Central Asia to infiltrate and destabilise the Sahel-Sahara region and militarizing and “Islamizing” existing communal problems. This created a pretext for renewed Western intervention in the sub-Region – as saviours. Nigeriens have responded magnificently to the long-term crisis with popular struggles for social justice, development, and dignity. Organised Labour, the Gender movement, Youth organizations, intellectuals, and the religious establishment have challenged the status quo for many years and been ruthlessly repressed by the Nigerien State led, most recently, by Bazoum and backed by France. A military intervention will not wash away this history or the complex web of social conflict it has created. ECOWAS guns will not assist Nigeriens to clarify and determine how they will organise and pursue national development. Guns will only deepen the underlying crisis of foreign exploitation and underdevelopment that Niger suffers. ECOWAS military action will deepen Nigeriens’ suffering and set their economic and social development back even further.

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An ECOWAS military intervention will also not advance the long-term well-being of other West Africans. Niger’s story differs only by degree from that of the rest of the subregion. West Africa remains one of the poorest and most troubled regions in the world. Every suffering war will bring to Niger will be replicated and amplified throughout the sub-region with unforetold consequences. The signals from Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea suggest that the integrity of ECOWAS itself is at risk. An ECOWAS war also enables Jihadi forces to strengthen their military and ideological campaign across the Region.

A war will also have national level consequences as well. For example, it is unlikely that ECOWAS soldiers will want to risk their lives to restore another bankrupt political regime. Military deployment will be the straw that breaks the back of the camel of “stability” in many West African countries. It could provoke mutinies, and accelerate, rather than halt, the wave of coups d’etat the region is Experiencing.

War Benefits Imperialism!

The real beneficiaries of an ECOWAS attack on Niger are Western Imperialist forces. France is struggling to sustain generations of the cruel plunder and oppression that West Africans have rejected. Without Nigerien uranium French electricity costs will rise significantly plunging that country into deeper crisis. EU dependency on Russian uranium (which it has not so far dared to impose sanctions on) will increase. Of course the EU is fully subordinate to the United States, in its aggression against strategic rivals China and Russia. As it can no longer compete commercially the US seeks to exclude these countries’ access to African resources through military force in alliance with backward sociopolitical elites. The US has established military bases across all West Africa including for example the infamous “Niger Air Base 201” near Agadez which is the largest military drone base in the world nominally owned by the Nigerien military but completely controlled by the US and capable of launching attacks across the entire region. On the one hand, developments in Niger threaten US hegemonic interests. But on the other hand Niger presents an opportunity for the US to consolidate its control over West Africa’s military. Imperialism will therefore press for military intervention.

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ECOWAS governments lack the ability to manage even domestic insurgencies. ECOWAS can only contemplate a Niger expedition because “NATO” will resource and run it. ECOWAS states will in fact contribute only two elements to any military operations. First ECOWAS provides a fig leaf – the media illusion that this is a “legitimate” democratic West Africa intervention to restore democracy (and not just another US or French invasion of a struggling Third World country). Second, ECOWAS provides cannon-fodder – expendable African soldiers that save the US Government from having to account for the deaths of thousands of Americans. In all material strategic and operational respects this will be an invasion to re-establish colonial rule in West Africa.

What is ECOWAS Leadership’s agenda?

Why are ECOWAS Heads of State shamelessly fronting for US and French imperialism? ECOWAS leaders are willing to front Imperialist conquest because they are desperate and trapped in neocolonialism. Our leaders are firm accomplices in foreign exploitation and oppression. Our leaders have not for example raised concern about the squalor, lack of basic amenities, or exposure of children to deadly radiation that the French capital imposes on the inhabitants of uranium mining towns. Our leaders have not protested the numbers of innocent citizens killed by US and French troops in their so-called counter-insurgency operations. Rather our leaders have forced through laws granting US troops full immunity for crimes committed on our soils – essentially ceding our sovereignty to foreign militaries.

Our leaders have fully supported dishonorable ploys to amend national constitutions to extend term limits to shield themselves from accountability. Our leaders have for years ignored or perpetrated arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or trial in violation of our constitutions. Our leaders have collapsed our national economies with unpayable debts, fiscal indiscipline, profligate spending, and accelerated transfer of wealth to the colonial metropoles. Having plunged us into crisis our leaders have fled back cap-in-hand to the IMF for bailouts conditioned on deepening the policy measures responsible for our suffering in the first place – austerity measures that grind working people into the dust and accelerate outflows of the wealth from our resources and labour. West Africans are no longer impressed by the theatre of periodic elections. West Africans know that these are simply exercises in ego, empty promises, vote-buying, rigging, elite violence, and whitewashing by pliant, partisan judiciaries. Our leaders own bankruptcy – is the source of the wave of revolts and military take-overs across the subregion.

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Following their mismanagement and abuse of their citizens’ fundamental development and human rights, the gathering in Abuja that threatened Niger with invasion was really a bunch of scared men, who having lost all moral or political legitimacy now seek to use military force to protect their privileged positions. “ECOWAS Heads of State” do not speak for West Africa. They cannot commit our youth to fight and die in the defence of hollow legalistic “constitutionalism” and elite vanity.

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The Socialist Movement of Ghana (SMG) rejects the positions of ECOWAS Heads of State. And we will campaign against any ECOWAS mobilisation for war on Niger. We call on all progressive

organizations and forces in West Africa and especially the West African Peoples Organisation (WAPO) to also condemn the recklessness of West African leaders and work to stop any such mobilisation.

What West Africa needs is to stop the Islamic insurgency in the region and hold our leaders accountable for the mess they have created and sustainably end the growing hunger facing our people. West Africa does not need war and our people are tired of our neo-colonial leaders and their Machinations.

Kwesi Pratt jnr

SOCIALIST MOVEMENT OF GHANA (SMG)
August 2, 2023

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Rebranding, customer-centric policy, paying off – Berger Paints MD

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The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Berger Paints Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Alaba Fagun, has ascribed the outstanding performance of the company for the financial year ended December 31, 2023, to the market appreciation of its rebranding, customer-centric policy, deployment of modern technology to ensure quality products and availability of strong human capital.

Despite the inclement operating environment, Berger Paints, a leading manufacturer of coated paints and allied products in Nigeria, has proposed a dividend of N231. 9 million for the 2023 financial year up from N202.9 million paid in 2022 and would be paying a dividend of N.80 kobo per share for its shareholders, subject to the ratification at its 64th Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, in Lagos.

The dividend will bring the final dividend for the review period to N1 per share. At the AGM, the company shall seek ratification of payment of an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share, which amounts to N58.0 million.

Other performance indicators of Berger Paints include its profit for the financial year, which grew to N468,797 from N208,670 in 2022, and basic earnings per share, which jumped from 72 kobo to 162 kobo, an increase of 125 percent respectively.

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“Despite the myriad challenges in our operating environment, impacting both our business operations and the daily lives of our customers and team members, we achieved a remarkable 125% growth in our bottom-line figure compared to 2022.

A review of the company’s other performance indicators shows that its revenue hit N7.91 billion, an increase of 25 %, Year-on-Year, Operating Profit, N730.18, an increase of 84 %, and total assets, N6.61 billion, an increase of 20 % amongst others

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According to the Managing Director, the year 2023 underscored the enduring Nigerian love for vibrant experiences and Berger Paints rose to the occasion by exceeding customers’ expectations in the quality of products and service delivery. “With Berger Paints, you can never go wrong. Our commitment to customer satisfaction has been the bedrock of our success since 1959’, she added.

‘Throughout the year, we revitalized our corporate ethos by reshaping our brand. More than just a logo, our brand embodies a commitment to quality assurance and customer-centric values: Professionalism, Integrity, Innovation, customer focus, and Teamwork which helped us to achieve a strong position in the market’ the MD stated.

‘’Looking forward, we aspire to conquer the African market landscape with our products and services. Our dedicated team is poised to leverage resources efficiently, and innovate to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” explained Fagun.

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In March last year, Berger Paints took the Nigerian manufacturing sector and the financial market by storm, when it unveiled its new brand identity. The rebranding was prompted by the need to capture the younger demography especially those aged 25-45 to ensure business continuity and success.

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BREAKING: Why Ihedioha quit PDP *Weighs next political option

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Emeka Ihedioha, Governor of Imo State from May 29, 2015 to January 14, 2020, has finally ditched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform under which he became Deputy Speaker for eight years before he ran for the number one job in his state – one of the major outcomes of the current crisis in the nation’s main opposition party.

Ihedioha, announced his resignation in a letter to the ward Chairman in Mbutu, Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, five days after the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, citing his unhappiness with the way its affairs were being handled, which he could no longer live with.

An acolyte of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and two-time presidential candidate of the party in 2019 and 2023, it is believed that the position of former Deputy Speaker had to do with the inability of the PDP NEC, the second highest organ to deal decisively with the issues that have been beleaguering its leadership since the 2023 elections, in which it was split down the middle.

One of the issues was the failure of the party to take action against some renegades, who worked against Atiku in the last election, particularly the G-5, a group of five governors on the platform of the party before the election, led by Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Rivers State, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The group, which also included Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, whose tenures ended in 2023 and Seyin Makinde of Oyo, currently in his second and final term, had stood staunchly against Atiku on the ground that he did not support the removal of Iyorchia Ayu, as National Chairman of the party, since both of them came from the North.

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Against the backdrop that Wike and his group would be sanctioned with possible suspension or outright expulsion from the party, the NEC took a middle ground in what was not only seen as a slap in the wrist, but a victory for Wike against the Atiku camp, which had favoured full sanctions.

It is believed that this was what Ihedioha, was referring to when he lamented in his letter dated April 23, and delivered to the PDP headquarters on Tuesday, where he pointed out that he has no doubt whatsoever that his decision to quit was the right course of action, given that the party had deviated from its original character.

He wrote: “Since 1998, I have contributed my quota to the development and transformation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of the founding members. All these years, I have taken pride in the fact that the PDP is a party that will always look inward for internal reforms and provide credible leadership for the people, whether in power or outside power.

“I have had the benefit of serving and benefitting from the party at various levels. Regrettably, in recent times, the party has taken on a path that is at variance with my personal beliefs. Despite my attempt to offer counsel, the party is, sadly no longer able to carry out internal reforms, enforce its own rules or offer credible opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

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“It is in the light of the foregoing, that I am compelled to offer my resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party effective immediately. While this decision was difficult to take, I, however, believe that it is the right one. Despite this resignation, I will always be available to offer my services towards the deepening of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.”

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It is however not certain where the former governor is headed, as one source is saying that he could be heading to the All Progressives Congress (APC), having helped Hope Uzodimma, the incumbent governor, who incidentally ousted him through the Supreme Court, in 2020 win his second term elections on the promise of a payback in 2027.

However, another source told Whirlwindnews.com.ng that the former Deputy Speaker, considered the ruling party too dirty and a no-go area to achieve his ambition, preferring the more popular Labour Party (LP) as the next destination.

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BREAKING: MAN celebrates, as Dangote crashes diesel price again

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Less than one week after Dangote Petroleum Refinery announced the reduction in the price of Automative Gas Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel from N1,200 to N1,000, the company, the first privately owned refinery in the country and one of the largest in the world, on Tuesday, moved further with another price crash this time with a reduction of N60, to bring the price per litre to N940.

It was also a day the company announced the decrease in the price of Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK), otherwise known as aviation fuel to N980 per litre, a move expected to further reduce the cost of air transportation, which has hit the roof and is now beyond the pockets of average Nigerians.

The price change of N940 is applicable to customers buying five million litres and above from the refinery, while the price of N970 is for customers buying one million litres and above, Anthony Chiejina, Head of Communication of Dangote Group, explained on Tuesday, saying the new price is in consonance with the company’s commitment to cushion the effect of economic hardship in Nigeria.

“I can confirm to you that Dangote Petroleum Refinery has entered a strategic partnership with MRS Oil and Gas stations, to ensure that consumers get to buy fuel at affordable price, in all their stations be it Lagos or Maiduguri. You can buy as low as 1 litre of diesel at N1,050 and aviation fuel at N980 at all major airports where MRS operates.”

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Informing that the partnership would be extended to other major oil marketers, he added: “The essence of this is to ensure that retail buyers do not buy at exorbitant prices. The Dangote Group is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have a better welfare and as such, we are happy to announce this new prices and hope that it would go a long way to cushion the effect of economic challenges in the country.”

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On April 5, the management of the company had announced reduction of the price of diesel from 1200 to 1,000 Naira per litre, the second time after initial reduction from the N1,700, the price stood at when the company commenced operation early in the year.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu had also commended Aliko Dangote, President of conglomerate for the initial price reduction, describing it as an “enterprising feat.”

Reacting to the latest development, The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Ajayi Kadiri, said: “The decision of Dangote Refinery to first crash the price from about N1,750/litre to N1,200/litre, N1,000/litre and now N940 is an eloquent demonstration of the capacity of local industries to positively impact the fortunes of the national economy.

“The trickledown effect of this singular intervention promises to change the dynamics in the energy cost equation of the country, in the midst of inadequate and rising cost of electricity. The reduction will have far-reaching effects in critical sectors like industrial operations, transportation, logistics, and agriculture, contributing to easing the high inflation rate in the country; a lot of companies will be back in operation.”

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