The Sub-Saharan Star

Serious news during the conference – Press Committee

Corruption plagues Cameroon

(BR) Corruption and nepotism are a consistent obstacle on the way to peace and prosperity in the west African country of Cameroon. The autocratic state at the Gulf of Guinea was ranked 136 out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. Now a new case of extreme Nepotism and embezzlement surfaced as apparently the Government is planning to use money of humanitarian aid to build a hotel exclusive to high ranking officials in the government and their kin.

Nigerias pioneering role in education

(HK) Although this newspaper previously emphasised the leading role of Cote d´Ivoire in their politics regarding educational programs, it has come to the conclusion that this credit is actually due to Nigeria. This also seems to be noticed by the People´s Republic of China, selecting Nigeria as the recipient for their humanitarian aid fund of 100 million USD (!). And after taking a close look up on what the Nigerian government does in order to improve their educational system via an interview with the Minister of Education, it becomes clear why China selected this country.

There is a number of factors indicating there is a lot of improvement to do. Especially the rate of Nigerian students studying overseas, making the country number one of origin for international students from Africa by increasing the number by 164% between 2005 and 2015. This is relying especially on the bad qualities of universities and also and even worse on the failure of Nigeria´s education system to meet the booming demands required by their rapid population growth. Furthermore the country is home to 250 different ethnic groups and languages, making it extremely difficult to navigate between the will to preserve those individual traditions and on the other hand improve the common English knowledge.

The Minister of Education stated four long term strategies to attack their problems. Firstly they see the need for improving the quality of their educational system. It is their hope to improve the quality of their tertiary education by finding university and expanding capacities and especially sponsoring the best 5% of every final school year by granting a scholarship for university. It is also important, stated the Minister of Education, to expand the training of teachers, so that the quality and quantity of teachers in elementary and secondary education will improve as well. With the combined financial aid granted by the USA and China there will be enough money to build more schools in rural areas as well. For Nigeria it is also very important to state that there will be no dictating of any curricular plans by foreign donors. On the opposite they will focus largely on African and Nigerian history and culture. We will see if Boko Haram will see this the same. And last there is the number one goal for fulfilling the promise that every child can and will go to school. Nigeria will therefor also concentrate on enlightenment work in rural areas.

So maybe other countries at the Gulf of Guinea should take Nigeria as an example in order to improve their educational system as well.

West Africa organises groundbreaking multilateral anti-terror and anti-piracy initiative in coordination with US/China

(TR) West Africa has long been a fractious region and cooperation between nation states has been scarce, even on pressing issues of mutual concern. The ratification of a resolution to which the USA, the People’s Republic of China, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon seems to mark a dramatic shift in rhetoric  diplomatic relations — for the African nations and the US/PRC as well.

The agreement resolves to use a new coordinated fleet of patrol boats provided by the US and China respectively, but crewed by West African nations, to fight piracy and terror in the tumultuous region. The deal also includes “humanitarian” aid by the US and China both to the African signatories.

This aid includes unspecified infrastructure development and education spending which would normally exceed the scope of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, following the killing of an American journalist in Cameroon allegedly at the hands of a rogue defense minister, it is unclear whether US funding and support for Cameroon will be affected.

Whether it was China or the US which led these negotiations, it seems they both have something to gain by securing the oil trade, particularly in the Niger Delta. But regardless of their motivations, the result may be safer waters and more international aid and resources for West Africans. 

Aftermath of the drug bust in Abidjan: An interview with the Minister of Interior and Security

(AS) Côte d’Ivoire shows confidence in its police force and its cooperation with Ghana following the major drug bust in Abidjan.

The Star: According to the latest news one ton of cocaine destined for the European market was found on board of the cargo ship “Mayflower” between the official cargo. What is your stance on this news?

Minister: We are deeply concerned with the found cocaine as we are absolutely against drugs, against illegal drugs, they pose a threat to the national security as well because of the high addiction factor that cocaine has and the price it has. So, it is not only an addiction, it is an addiction that will not only physically, but also financially ruin you. We are very concerned with that. However, we are confident that since our police forces were so effective in cracking down that one ton that we are for now safe. However, we will remain concerned on that matter.

The Star: You say that for now you are safe, but the fact is that in the past there were already severe problems concerning drugs in Abidjan. So the city is known for drug smuggling and – for example – in 1986 the first seizures of hard drugs were made there when 16 kilograms of heroin and 8 kilograms of cocaine were taken. It seems the problem has been going on for quite a long time. Why does it still exist?

Minister: Well, we have to say that was very well researched. However, the government of 1986 is not the current government and most of all it is not the same staff. We recently have been doing incentives and have increased our police staff in order to serve all the Ivorians on multiple cases. We have been protecting schools, we have been doing police reforms. Because we found the ton of cocaine, we find that – it might sound strange – but we think: we found it and we are very confident with our police officers. They are also dedicated.
The Star: So, you say in the future there will not be as many cases of drug smuggling as there have been in the past?

Minister: In the Inland – No. I mean if the things get send to us it is not in our control. But it is in our control to find it and if we find something in the harbor, that is a success. Because we cannot control whether it gets shipped there or not, but we can control whether it reaches the inland or not.

The Star: Drug trafficking is a problem in West African countries and the traffickers try to cover their trail by passing through several African capitals. Is there possibly a lack of international cooperation when trying to find the drug traffickers?

Minister: Currently our main focus has been lying on the refugee crisis as humanitarian efforts and refugee efforts have always been very dear to the heart of Côte d’Ivoire. So that has been recently our main priority, which does not mean that we have neglected other things. However, as you can see, our cooperation with Ghana is very strong. It is even stronger now. As a consequence, there is cooperation between West African countries.

The Star: So, you are confident that in the future you can tackle this problem of drug smuggling together?

Minister: We have confidence in our police forces and we have confidence in the strong bond between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Star: What measures will be taken at the moment concerning the “Mayflower”?

Minister: I am afraid, I am not allowed to tell you that. We are all about press transparency. However, we do not think it serves the effectiveness of cracking down on drug cartels if we announce our measures to the press. We hope you understand that. As I said, we are very committed and we do not think it will be wise to announce our exact plans, because then they can be easily avoided.

As Ghana and of Côte d’Ivoire deepen ties – is the dream of an African EU in sight?

(BR) An astonishing number of agreements was published in the last days bringing the West African countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana closer together than ever. Considering the history in the relations of the two littoral states of the Gulf of Guinea the recent development can only be compared to the reconciliation between Germany and France after the second world war. In 1993 a violent incident in Côte d’Ivoire occurred after a soccer game against Ghana, in which the Ghanaian eliminated the Ivorians. After the return of the team as many as 40 Ghanaians in Côte d’Ivoire got killed, in the aftermath 1,000 homes and businesses were looted, 10,000 Ghanaians and 30,000 were reported to have sought refuge in the Ghanaian and other friendly embassies.

Also, as recently as 2010 the present partners had an intensive border conflict which worsened the ties between the two countries and resulted in a case at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. But apparently, despite the history of tensions the two countries are now working closely together in tackling the crises of the region with Ghana calling Côte d’Ivoire “a very reliable and peaceful partner”. Vice versa the Ivorian administration praising the “strong and reliable bond between the two nations, which has become even stronger now that another obstacle has been surpassed together.” In the statement the government was recapitulating the bilateral effort to resolve the refugee crisis in Ghana.

Interview with US Director of National Intelligence: Trump “doesn’t care about the facts”, “crazy” in cabinet meetings

(TR) The Sub-Saharan Star reached out to the White House for comment on their lifting of visa restrictions with Ghana. We met with the US Director of National Intelligence about this unprecedented policy change.

Star: The US Visa Waiver Program is extended to EU states, Australia, Japan and so on. But no country in Africa has received this privilege until now. Why Ghana, what prompted this change in policy?

Director: We share a long history of joint military operations that has built trust. We do not believe that Ghana deserves the same kind of treatment as Iran or similar nations — Ghana conforms to democratic principles. We also sold 60 million USD worth of ships to Ghana recently. There is also another good reason, but it’s personal.

Star: I’ll ask you further about these personal reasons, but first: are there security concerns opening up travel to and from Ghana given its porous/open borders with its neighbours?

Director: We are confident in our border checks. Only Ghanaian citizens with valid passports will be able to enter under the new program. Ghanaians will only be allowed to remain for 30 days under the new policy, and must spend 15 days outside the US before re-entering.

Star: Your president campaigned as a great dealmaker and a warrior for “America First” policy. Given that, can you speak to what the US received in return from Ghana for this unprecedented benefit? Was the 60 million USD ship transfer the only thing the US received?

Director: That was only part of the deal. But honestly, Trump doesn’t care about the facts of the deal. As long is there is a deal, he doesn’t care about the details of the plan. I’m not even sure he was aware of the implications of the agreement.

Star: That’s interesting. Still, can you clarify some of these details yourself? Were these ships military vessels? What was at stake?

Director: The vessels were equipped with surveillance equipment to identify and track pirate and terrorist activity at sea. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana wanted to open a channel for security information, and we wanted to secure the 1.6 bn USD sea trade we have with Ghana. In this productive discussion, the Minister was persuasive that US travel policy with regard to Ghana wasn’t justifiable given our close cooperation.

Star: Can you elaborate a little more on the personal side of this deal you alluded to?

Director: I’m not sure how much I would like to say on that. It’s personal, but I think this was a good deal. And so did Trump. But I have to say, he has been going a bit crazy lately. Recently he suggested using nuclear weapons against Cameroon in a meeting.

Star: That is a shocking development. What was the cabinet’s response?

Director: Well, we’ve gotten used to his outbursts. But with the way things are going, I have to admit I’m considering changing professions.

The Oil flows again – US markets take hit – EU calls for political stability – Chinese “happy”

(BM) As the Nigerian government just announced, the oil production in the Niger Delta resumed yesterday at 6pm. After the terror attack by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta workers could return to their work places.

The US markets took a big hit yesterday. News of US citizens killed in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon unsettled many investors. Rumors of the NY stock market being shut down till next week proved wrong. Chevron Corp., known in recent years for violations of human rights in the Delta, called back all American-born employees from the region.

To prevent a further up and down of the oil price – hitting 70 USD per barrel on Saturday – the European Union calls for more political stability in the region. The European Commission stated it would try anything to help West Africa stabilize.

Meanwhile, the PRC seems very content with the situation. The Chinese Minister of Commerce was quoted as follows: “We are quite happy. We see a future for oil in the region.” GNPC and Sinopec resumed production yesterday.

News on Nigeria’s 3-point plan: Government betraying the citizens’ trust

(AS) After the Nigerian government reacted to the threatening of MEND by introducing a 3-point plan, new information has been unleashed concerning the new pension for workers.

The 3-point plan which – according to a press statement of the Nigerian government – “tackles social and environmental issues” gave in to the MEND’s demands in terms of local ecosystems and investments in infrastructure and were able to prevent an attack on the oil-infrastructure in the Niger Delta. While the first point focuses on the preservation of nature and biosphere in the region, the third point promises to increase investments in infrastructural, social and other projects. Within the next two years 30% of taxes shall be used in order to ensure the well-being of the people.

It is the second point of Nigeria’s plan that is of particular interest since it affects the Nigerian people directly. Introducing a pension to workers that exceeded the age of 60, the Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum is taking a step towards the citizens. In spite of the application process having started for citizens in the cities of Port Harcourt and Benin-City, this sudden benevolent act of state has to be taken with a grain of salt: According to reliable sources all applications will be ignored over the course of the following nine months.

US threatening Cameroon

(BR) After the kidnapping and killing of the American journalist in the tumultuous region of Ambazonia the United States are planning “severe repercussions” against Cameroon. The Administration even accused the Cameroonian military of killing the journalist themselves instead of the Ambazonian liberation movement. The West African country is currently facing a variety of challenges ranging from an aging autocrat President seemingly not in control of the dealings of his cabinet members to by strongly condemning the actions apiracy and various separatist movements.

Additionally to the mounting pressure by the USA comes a conflict with the neighbouring country of Nigeria as the administration in Abuja accused Cameroonian government employees of scamming and hacking the foreign Ministry of Nigeria. Cameroon’s neighbour also strongly condemned the killing of the reporter and subsequently demanded justice and a free press.

Nigeria striving for an elaborate education system

(AS) Using the budget, the United States of America provided for the Nigerian education, the Nigerian government decided to build 45 new schools with twenty of these schools focusing on female education. Five of the new schools (including one “female school”) will be located in the area around the Niger delta. By means of this, the Nigerian government pursues the goal of tackling terrorism with education and is at the same time creating workspace for young and motivated teachers. Schools will be also built in other areas including e.g. Botawa, Isa and Benin-City as well as more rural parts of Nigeria. With this initiative focusing on the education system, Nigeria is following the example of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – countries that have been attracting attention due to their development in the education sector.

ISWA against USA

(HK) As the Islamic State’s Western Africa (Province) has revealed themselves to be the hostage-taker it seems necessary to take a look at the recent history of the terrorist group. Founded in 2002 it was known as “Boko Haram” until 2015 when the group split in two over an ongoing argument of the severity of their religious beliefs. They still have the same goal to reduce Western activities in Nigeria. So the hostage-taking in the US embassy connected to the threat to kill them if the US is not withdrawing their troops, is fitting perfectly into their narrative. Maybe this is their way of paying respect to the last leader of ISIS Al-Bhagadi? So Donald Trump how about sending some dogs to Nigeria? Woof. At least that would be any kind of a strategy.

American journalist taken hostage and killed by Cameroon military – President Trump under pressure – Impeachment over killed US citizens?

(AS, BM) In the national park, situated at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, an American journalist – currently working for Le Sapeur Observant – has been taken hostage by the Cameroon military. Due to his interview with the self-proclaimed Ambazonian President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, the Cameroon government considers him an ally of the separatist movement. Seemingly, the Cameroon military intelligence tries to force him to give away information on the location of President Julius.

After the most recent events it is highly questionable whether the USA are capable of protecting their citizens in West African and worldwide. President Trump has not made any statement yet.

Journalists question if the latest article in the Le Sapeur Observant on the Ambazonian Question was written under the threat of torture.

Nigeria gives in to terrorists

(BR) In a press release the Nigerian Government has de facto given in to the demands by the militant group called MEND. In the statement the administration followed the demands almost literally, which were made following bomb threats on oil facilities in the delta region. The action taken is seen by critics as a sign of the Government struggling to keep the public down and giving in to previously hunted terrorists.

$100bn US investment

(BM) The United States have spent an amount of 100 billion $ out of their 500 billion $ budget of 2020. It has now been declared as an “update for security measures”. Moreover, the government considers this as an important investment for more independence in sense of power and energy sources and the necessary technologies for that. This definitely would not mean a spin-off of the worldwide globalization, the US will hold on to all of their great relations and trade with other countries. Furthermore, the investment is just an “America-first-investment”, it would not be their main interest to play an important role in Niger Delta or pursue a role as the world policy.

US may be preparing for eventualities in the Niger Delta

(AS) In the aftermath of the drastic drop in Nigerian oil production, the investment of the United States in future power sources has been issued. The money invested in investigation and realizations of the energy sources accounts for 20% of the US budget of 2020, meaning that a considerable amount of money is spent on research in the field of power sources. Thereby, the largest part of the money is directed to the outdated nuclear power plants’ security measures, whereas a smaller share is invested in new fracking areas and a nuclear fusion platform. Interestingly, the United States are pursuing the aim of gaining complete power independence in the future. The specific reasons for these developments in the energy policy are still unknown, but investigation will continue.

„We will do pretty much everything“ – US diplomats taken hostage in Abuja – US soldiers allocated to Nigeria

(BM) Just hours ago the staff of the US embassy in Abuja, Nigeria was attacked by yet unknown aggressors and taken hostage. As a reaction to this, the US allocated soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division from Garoua, Cameroon, to the Nigerian capital. The 10th Mountain Division is currently the most-deployed military unit of the US and highly experienced in counter-terrorism warfare. Asked about how far the US will go and what they are willing to do, the Director of National Intelligence answered: “Pretty much everything”.

The Director of National Intelligence expressed concerns about the stability of Cameroonian national security without American troops to aid. Still, the lives of US diplomats matter more to the Trump-Administration than region-wide security issues. The deployment of Navy SEALs was announced but no as of now they don’t seem to have seen action so far.

Security experts fear the Trump administration could order a head-first storming of the embassy, resulting in dozens of deaths. The Sub-Saharan will keep you updated.

Nigerians overwhelmed with crises?

(BR) Regarding the ongoing hostage situation at the US embassy in the Nigerian capital of Abuja one could raise the question: is Nigeria becoming a failed state? With the pressure of MEND and the “Niger Delta Avengers” to the south, environmental refugees in the north, pirates in the sea, Boko Haram to the east, an unstable government in the neighbouring country of Cameroon and now terrorist in the AMERICAN embassy, can they cope?

Being one of the most populated countries in the world, the multi ethnical Country of Nigeria faces it almost seems preconditioned for conflict. But with this surge in violence the Nigerian government faces not only domestic challenges but also comes under scrutiny by the US and the international community, if it continues to struggle for granting security.

Statements by the Nigerian Minister of Defence Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi about oil production shutdown

(EK) Based on the MEND’s threat of blowing up oil-infrastructure, Nigeria and China immediately closed their oil facilities. A Sub-Saharan Star journalist had the possibility of an interview with the Nigerian Minister of Defence.

Sub-S. Star: It might be a secure measure interrupting your oil production to ensure the saftey of your citizens. Do you fear prompt financial consequences concerning your economy?

Minister of Defence: Our economic system won’t collapse just because of an one-day-crisis. It is not remarkable also given the fact that our main economical sector is agriculture.

Sub-S. Star: So you have no doubt that the fall away of this financial source of income could lead to trouble regarding financing enough security forces or even have an impact on the good relations to China?

Minister of Defence: As I’ve already mentioned we are more or less independent from our oil production if we can, as planned, operate our oil facilities again in a few days. The countries we mainly export oil to are Great Britain, USA and India. China is not a big export partner for us, they just run the oil production together with us and are, of course, also interested in restart the oil production as soon as possible. I mean China does not intervene in our military action and we respect each other as independent countries, so nobody must fear any consequences on our good relation.

Sub-S. Star: What is your plan to find the fastest solution for an oil-production restart?

Minister of Defence: No worries, we will have solved this conflict soon. Our wise decision of the shutdown is just a temporary measure and we will find a peaceful solution for that. Thank you.

Cameroon and PRC sign friendship treaty – BIG investments – African freedom at stake?

(BM) Happy faces were seen in the Chinese embassy in Yaounde, when news of the signed Chinese-Cameroonian friendship treaty hit the floor. Although the exact contents of the treaty are classified, both governments claim to have agreed on massive Chinese investments in infrastructure, economy and state security.

“It’s great!”, the Chinese Minister of State Security says. With this treaty China hopes to start a long-term relationship and cooperation with Cameroon. The Chinese government is eager to invest even more, the Minister of Commerce stated. He also stated that a Chinese state-run railway company will build more than 2,000 kilometers of railway in Cameroon in the next few years. In one of his rare interviews the Chinese President Xi Jingping said the treaty would be a first step towards more cooperation in the future.

Similarly, the Cameroonian government stated that it was very happy to sign the treaty. Allegations that the planned surveillance systems that are to be delivered by the Chinese could be a danger to Cameroonian freedom and democracy were set aside by the Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, in office since 1982. The national security of a nation as vast as his could only be safeguarded by better surveillance systems. He negated any assumptions by human rights organizations that a social scoring system like in China could be established.

Asked on the decreasing US-involvement in the region Biya expressed his satisfaction with Chinese activity and investments. “The US are taking a backseat recently”, he said. The Cameroonians would make business with everyone who wants to do business with them.

Meanwhile questions arise over the involvement of the Sun-Tzi Foundation in the deal. The PRC and Cameroon negate any involvement of the foundation, as it is, as Xi stated “completely private”. Critics of the treaty question if Africa will fall victim to a Chinese “buy-out” and want the exact conditions of the treaty declassified.

Breaking: Cameroon used torture to extract confession from mass shooting suspects

(TR) The Sub-Saharan Star’s investigator embedded in the Cameroon police has found clear evidence that the police tortured suspects arrested for the Douala mass shooting prior to their confession. Methods included waterboarding and lashing of the back with a whip — these fall under the definition of torture given in the UN Convention against Torture to which Cameroon is a signatory.

The confession Cameroon published claimed that the English-speaking rebel militia known as the Ambazonian Defense Forces were responsible for the attack. In addition to any fallout from the international community Cameroon may face from this clear abuse, the accuracy of this confession should now also be called into question.

The Star’s investigation is ongoing, and reactions from the government and the international community is sought.

Mayhem in Abuja

(BR) After the decision to shift from an approach using security forces to combat terrorism to investing in education, Nigeria is facing yet another act of extreme violence, now in the heart of the capital and to crown it all in the American embassy. More than 10 militarily equipped men stormed the building and started shooting randomly at security personnel and civilians.

In a passionate tweet President Trump called the terrorists “bastards” and pledged to wipe them out “just as we wiped out al-Qaeda”. Critics of the US president support the governments effort to free the embassy personnel but criticize his wording, worrying he might not take the crisis as serious as it is.

On the other hand, Trumps heavy wording and resolve might push the Nigerians into acting in short term against terrorists with military means rather than only in long term with improvements in education.

Death in front of the camp – is the Ivorian refugee crisis getting out of hand?

(HK) Following the incident of an angry mob halting a water carrying caravan from Nestle one young man was killed. Apparently the armed forces protecting the caravan lost control oft he situation, opening a fire at the civilians taking part at the protests. So the question is, is the Ivorian government still able to manage their refugee crisis or is it getting out of hand? The signs are rather indignating the second…

Sure the government now is stating to investigate but will there be an actual outcome of such an investigation? Sending out condolences seems is simply not enough in order to calm worried citizens. 

The stance of the Cameroonian Minister of Education on the recent mass shootings

(AS) Star: We still do not have further information on the attackers responsible for the mass shootings. Have the investigations already started?

Minister of Education: We have investigations going on and we are still waiting for the results.

Star: So recently you reacted by increasing the police presence in seminars and by offering seminars in English as well. Why did you decide to take these actions and do think it will prevent such incidents in the future?

Minister of Education: Obviously it was a complain of the anglophone community that we were not focusing enough on them and that we were excluding them from a good education. We realized that we have to change that and this is the first step towards the right direction so we can better include the anglophone community in Cameroon.

The Star: In your first press statement you said that the two attackers are probably members of the English-speaking minority. Is that confirmed?

Minister of Education: That has not been completely confirmed yet. We are about to get the results.

The Star: The seminar was also on anti-terrorist education, maybe that caused a problem as well?

Minister of Education: We have thought about that, but we have not come to a conclusion about that yet. We are working on that too.

The Star: Could it be possible that Ambazonian terrorists have a connection to this incident?

Minister of Education: It is possible, but I cannot confirm that. But we will possibly be looking at that too.

The Star: Have you any further information on the incident?

Minister of Education: No, I am sorry, but we are still working out a lot of those things.

Oil block manager trial can’t worsen the good relation between China and Nigeria

(EK) Although the trial for the Chinese oil block manager was a shock for the Chinese government, they want to hold on to their friendly relationship to Nigeria. “The trial, which was not fair for our innocent manager won’t have any impact on our worthful relation”, says the Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan. He moreover appreciates Chinas business participation in Nigeria and is convinced that Nigeria will be a long term partner in West Africa to collaborate with. Besides industrial and financial business, China grants Nigeria full autonomy over its military actions and refuses any statement about the expansion of military groups in Nigeria Delta.

Ghana: Settlers and Herdsmen reach agreement – Education initiative for Settlers – Short-term solution for long-term problems

(BM) During a national meeting today the Ghanaian government reached an agreement with the Settlers of the North and the Herdsmen. After years of conflict over the proper use of land the country can finally look forward to economic stability. The Herdsmen, traditionally roaming the north of the country, were forced to move more and more south by environmental changes in the landscape of Ghana. The use of farmlands by the thousands of animals endangers harvests and thereby the survival of the settlers. As both communities are mostly self-sustaining, there was until recently just little to no cooperation at all.

The agreement provides a huge land-buy by the Ghanaian government. These lands will be granted to the Herdsmen in strips from north to south, so that they can roam their herds freely. In the dry season the Settlers agreed to open their lands for the herds, as no crops can be damaged then.

Included in the agreement will be an education initiative to provide jobs for farmers that cannot sustain their lives by agricultural means anymore. The settlers are to be enabled to work on solar plants. This green investment finds much acclaim by environmental organizations around the globe.

Also planned is a joint commission that will meet every 2-4 years to discuss the state of the agreement, environmental and economic changes. While many foreign observers praise the commission as a milestone for African pluralism, critics question if the Ghanaian example will work in world endangered by climate change, a problem that can only be solved internationally.

Interview with US Attorney General on education and teacher protests

(TR) The Star reached out to the US Department of Education and the Secretary of State for comment on the ongoing teachers’ strike and the controversial video of a 15 year old Chicago student dying in traffic after an altercation with a police officer. We were directed to speak with the US Attorney General, William Barr, about the issue. What follows is a transcript of our conversation with the US chief prosecutor.

Star: Does your administration consider these protests an exercise of free speech or an unnecessary disruption to education?

Barr: An act of free speech, of course. We see the teachers’ issues and we are working nonstop to address them. But we urge them to return to work so student’s education is not interrupted.

Star: As these protests are becoming an international movement, do you believe an international coordinated response is warranted? Are you currently working with states like the UK and France to address teachers’ concerns?

Barr: We do consider working with them. But our national concerns come first. Resolving our domestic issues is our first priority.

Star: Would you say this is part of an “America First” policy?

Barr: No, not really. We just want to address our problems ourselves before coordinating with other nations.

Star: In general, does the US administration consider education a right, a privilege or an obligation?

Barr: Education should be a right. But legally it is also an obligation. Of course, most rights are privileges as well.

[At the Attorney General’s request, we exclude here part of their answer regarding education in West African countries.]

Star: Domestically, what is the US administration’s next steps?

Barr: We focus now on prosecuting the police officer depicted in the video. But we are also working to support teachers with more funding and mental health initiatives.

Star: What charges are being brought against the officer in question?

Barr: At the moment, only a charge of physical violence. We will see how the case develops in court.

Teacher’s protests erupt in Ghana

(TR) Protests over the condition of education systems and the stress placed on staff and students which began in Chicago have spread across the Atlantic. The movement has been a cause for thousands-large protests in London and Paris — now the movement travels south.

In Ghana, education is free and compulsory from ages 4-15 but the literacy as of 2010 remained at a modest 71.5%. Furthermore, although 25% of the nation’s annual budget is spent on education, teachers in Ghana are finding conditions on the ground challenging nonetheless. Celebrated Accra teacher and protest organiser Mbebe Ngonwa told us “some of us are dealing with classes of more than 80 students alone, with no administrator support. Even when we are not teaching, we are working with our students in off-hours. But the toll this takes on us is enormous.”

The global movement demanding better psychological support and reducing stress placed on educators has really taken hold in the West African country. Grassroots organisers, using Facebook and SMS messages, have formed a loose network who have begun to initiate country-wide strikes demanding reduced classroom sizes, working hours and better support.

The first strike is due to begin tomorrow involving 7,500 teachers, primarily in the south of the nation and in particular the capital city of Accra. But the movement shows no sign of slowing down.

The MEND posing a threat to Nigeria

(AS) In their latest ultimatum directed towards the Nigerian government, MEND (the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) demands environmental reparation, social and economic action “favoring all Nigerian people” as well as an investment in the infrastructure of the Niger Delta region. While the People’s Republic of China reacted by fulfilling the first two demands and calling for negotiations between Nigeria and the MEND, the Nigerian government refuses to be blackmailed.

Recently, MEND claimed responsibility for an oil explosion putting the blame on China and Nigeria with regard to environmental exploitation and a lack of investment in the local infrastructure. The organization, which was founded by Henry Okah in 2006, is now threatening to detonate three additional bombs at oil refineries in the Niger Delta. According to the Forbes magazine, from the beginning MEND was “better equipped and trained than the militant groups” with an estimated number of 100,000 people fighting for their goals.

In the past the Nigerian government often reacted by implementing either military force or appeasement. For now, it remains to be seen which strategy the Nigerian government will choose and whether possible negotiations will take place.

PRC research facility opened in Benin – PLA military personnel present – Guinean Silk Road?

(BM) Today the Chinese government announced the opening of a new research facility in Benin. The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was willing to give an interview to the Sub-Saharan Star. (shortened version)

Star: First of all, why did you choose Benin as the location for the new Sun-Tzi foundation facility?

Li: We wabted to cooperate with a country in the region and we already have some cooperation with Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and we wanted to expand our economic and research interests in the region and we chose Benin because it’s a rather safe country. If you look at the current happenings and explosions and oil tanker attacks, Benin is a rather safe country to invest in right now.

Star: So the choice of location got nothing to do with that your trade deal with Nigeria got cancelled yesterday?

Li: No, no, it’s not cancelled, we’re working on it and right in front of our goal of signing the contract.

Star: Do we see the start of a new military investment of China in the region?

Li: No, it’s not about military, it’s purely about scientific and research orientated.

Star: You explicitly state in your press release that there will be military personnel present.

Li: That’s for the protection of the facility itself. It’s not about making expeditions for example, it’s only about protection.

Star: What do you understand with “counter-measures”? What is that exactly?

Li: It’s to be worked out. It’s not that clear yet, actually, because we still have to build up the facality and look how it works and how we can interact with the Beninese government. I can’t say anything specific about it.

Star: If you look at the last years: you got this “New Silk Road” project but – except for Djibouti – there was no military personnel involved. Up until yesterday, when terrorists blew up your oil block, you always relied on private military contractors. Why did you change your approach to security?

Li: It’s interesting that you connect this to the Silk Road because the Silk Road is primarily economic and military interests are something else, I would say. We split actually the researchers and also the personnel; 50 percent are going to be Chinese and 5p percent are going to be Beninese. So it’s not mainly Chinese involvement here.

Star: But you stopped relying on private military contractors?

Li: No comment on that.

Star: One last question: What will be the next big thing, what will follow up on the Beninese foundation?

Li: That’s actually a good question. I think it will work out in this direction that we wanna build more cooperation. We don’t want to get involved into politics too much, it’s more like an economic interest policy of non-interference. That is what we try to accomplish: building up good relations with every country.

Star: Thank you for your answers!

Li: Thank you!

Teachers’ protests reaching Europe

(AS) After having already spread to North America and even to Canada, the Chicago protests are growing on a larger scale than expected by sowing seeds in Europe. In the aftermath of the ongoing protests demanding better psychological support and the viral video showing the death of the 15-year old Chicago student, Britain’s teachers are now willing to take the streets in protests as well.

Additionally to the lack of psychological support, the teaching staff in Great Britain has to deal with the most recent cut on government spending implemented by Boris Johnson. In order to stay in line with his Brexit plan, he initiated the decrease of public expenditure on education by fifteen percent. So far, his measures have been met with incomprehension and large protests in London with about 20,000 teachers showing their discontent.

In France protests are being organized at the moment due to the teachers’ exposal to stress and the general criticism of president Emmanuel Macron’s political line. We will keep track of the latest developments in the teachers’ protests.

Cote d´Ivoire: „Teachers without borders“ – an invitation

(HK) The government of Cote d´Ivoire seems to be focusing a lot on education lately. A press statement confirms that they not only dedicated a large part of their funding of The National Plan for Development (2016 – 2020) to their education sector. They also spoke out an invitation or rather a request to the NGO „teachers without borders“ for their help in a long term strategy in terrorism prevention and implementing environmental education. The goal is a cooperation between the experts and the local communities to work together and learn from each other. „Teachers without borders“ is asked to teach local teachers -especially in gender equality and anti-terrorism as well as in environment-friendly behaviour. So that in the end the trained teachers will have accumulated the necessary experience to take over the positions of the international teachers and experts.

This strategy of the government sounds quite profound and thought through. But it seems quite interesting that their main focus is on environmental education taking in regard that literacy rate in 2018 of inhabitants over 15 years old is at a relatively low 47.17%. Maybe they should think about literating their people first and teach them about environment-friendly behaviour second.

Oil block fire put down – Manager on trial

(BM) The oil block that was attacked on November 1st and caught fire has been extinguished. Reportedly, after thousands of barrels of oil burned and several acres of land were devastated, the Nigerians got the fire under control. Further harm to the environment is not yet to be excluded.

The manager of the oil block was detained yesterday and will be put on trial in the next few days. Human rights organizations question if his trial abides the rule of law or is merely a PR-coup by the Nigerian government to ease relations with China and to make the impression of having the situation under control. Environmental organizations expressed their concerns that no trial against individuals can solve the massive security and environmental protection issues the Nigerian oil industry faces.

Meanwhile the two terrorist groups claiming responsibility for the attack – the insurgent Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and the Islamist Boko Haram – are seemingly still operating at normal level. Although terror attacks affect the country for years now, the government still only holds control on very limited regions of Nigeria. The recently attacked oil field was guarded – as basically all foreign investments in Nigeria – by a private military contractor. So far no change to this situation is in sight. If the Nigerian government is currently taking measures against the Niger Delta rebels and the Boko Haram is unknown.

Video of student dying at teacher protest sparks outrage

(TR) Protests have broken out like chain lightning across major US cities (including Los Angeles, New York and Boston) in response to a viral video depicting the death of a 15 year old Chicago student that was released late last night. This follows an 11 day teachers’ strike in the US city decrying high level of stress of teachers and poor psychological support.

In the video, the boy is shown to be in an argument with a police officer who demands that the student return to school. The student can be clearly heard to reply that “teachers can strike, why can’t I? You ain’t giving us nothing anyway!” The police officer appears to become agitated and shoves the school student. Quickly thereafter, the boy is seen to trip over the street curb and fall into oncoming traffic.

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth was reached for comment saying “this was a horrible tragedy, which underscores that underfunding schools is an issue our young people take seriously too. Now is a time for listening — let’s not get hasty.”

Others, such as Secretary for Education Betsy DeVos have a different take. Her comments are as follows: “This video shows student truancy is an endemic problem. The boy would not be dead today if we disciplined our young people appropriately and made sure they stayed in school.”

The emergence of this controversial video has given new fuel to a teachers’ strike which was starting to wind down. Initially agreeing to 30 million USD funding increase, the US teachers’ union has backed new strikes in 6 cities, three of which have already been authorized to begin.

Elsewhere, informal, grassroots protests demanding improved school conditions by students as well as teachers have been sparked throughout North America, spreading like wildfire, even as far as Toronto, Canada.

Nigeria delays trade deal with PRC – Is it about oil? – Large Chinese investments at stake

(BM) The planned trade deal between the Peoples Republic of China and Nigeria get’s delayed by a Nigerian step-back. Reportedly, the deal was just about to be finished when the Nigerian government expressed concerns about the contents of the deal. Both sides name oil as central to the economic side of the deal.
According to the Nigerian Minister of Commerce her government was anxious that the “long-term economic prosperity” of the country could not be maintained the way they originally expected. She expressed the wish to secure China’s supportbut refused to give any details about the specifics of this support. In context of growing instability in the region, the question comes up if this support will remain purely civilian and humanitarian or if Nigeria is trying to get political and military aid.
Similarly, the Chinese Minister for Commerce expressed his high hopes to secure Nigeria as a strong partner in their already “special relationship”. Chinese investments in the region grew exponentially in the last years. It is quite clear that China thinks as much of long term economic planning as Nigeria. If they both want the same results is up to debate.

The need for education

(HK, AS) During the latest summit of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon and the United States a resolution consisting of five points was passed. Thereby mutual communication channels and the joint cooperation and investigation in terms of the oil tank were prioritized. In order to stabilize the regions, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria stressed the importance of education and introduced long-term projects. Due to the urgency of solving the crisis, the United States tried to convince the countries to postpone the long-term projects until the moment the conflict is solved. Consequently, education programs were mentioned as the fifth and last point of this summit’s resolution.

Nonetheless, both Cameroon and Nigeria have promised in past press statements to implement educational programs, emphasizing their importance both in terrorism prevention and in the effort of decreasing population growth. Looking at the numbers, the literacy rates in both of these countries increased during the last 20 years and are relatively high compared to Western African standards. While Nigeria’s adult literacy rate in the year of 2016 is 68 % and Cameroon’s is even about 80 %, Ghana’s adult literacy rate amounts to mere 57.8 % and Côte d’Ivoire’s is even worse, with 48.7 %.

Hence, this could lead to the conclusion that foreign players, like the US, who enjoy calling themselves the savior of the “free” world are not interested in emphasizing long term strategies that could make a difference by enabling many individuals in those Western African society to improve their daily lives. Instead of this, they only aim at preventing a conflict which could interfere with their oil interests. This may be just one of many indicators that foreign interaction in countries with a long history of exploitation are at the least quite questionable.

Error in article on situation in Biafra

(PP) Due to an unfortunate misinformation, we had to withdraw the latest article on the situation in Biafra. We apologise to our readers and will keep them informed in the most reliable and transparent way. Stay tuned!

Fake News – How To Find Your Way Around In Times Of Antithetical Information

(EK) The Sub-Saharan Star is known for transparent and objective information, but it lately was criticized by the president of the United States as a “fake news organization”. According to professor Bernhard Pörksen from Tübingen, it exists more than one reality for different individuals. But this definitely not means that the reports of different countries or even of newspapers within one country should differ to much. Maybe it means you should also hear the other side and first verify information before you create your own reality perspective.

Easier said than done – here is a current political example:

Anonymous claimed to have had access to parts of the email traffic between USA and Ghana which allegedly proved that the Ghanaian government paid pirates to hijack the oil tanker Giovanna in the gulf of At least as interesting as the question for the purpose of this acting is the fact that neither the government of Ghana nor the government of the United States confirmed the investigative research results. Both sides denied knowledge about the kidnappers. If the American government really wants to rescue all the hostages who have survived so far, they should take a look on Ghana. During a ministers meeting, that just ended some minutes ago, a conflict between Ghana and the US was part of the discussion. Ghana requires more American support in their country to develop their educational system.

What shall we do with all the information? What is true, what is not? In the end, it depends on the eye of the beholder. What we can say so far is that all the information does not fit together, somebody is lying and knows more than he or she admits.

Especially newspapers like the infamous Le Sapeur Observant should be taken with a grain of salt. Suspiciously, one of their journalist received and happily accepted an award from a government that is not well-known for their concern for an independent press.

Alleged “sex tourist” was American captain held hostage

(BR) Previous unconfirmed reports of a “sex tourist” in Miemia, a remote coastal town in Ghana now turned to be an important hint in the search for the missing captain of the Vessel attacked on October 31st off the coast Cote d‘ivoire.

Evidence supports that apparently the pirates attacking the Vessel, which was in international Waters at the time, took the hostage into a hideout on the Ghanaian Coast, and as we now learn to the Village of Miemia.

Local townspeople previously thought of the hostage as a „western Fetishist“, that was being gagged in a car by some likeminded locals for sexual pleasure. As we now learn, Ghanaian soldiers led an effort to free the hostages, which sadly, was only a partial success, as 6 hostages including the American captain were killed, bringing the total death toll to 8, with 2 crew members being killed earlier. This raises the question if instead of focusing on the alleged “sex tourist” the states involved could have saved the crew earlier.

Trump allegedly uses office to sell hotels in Cote d’Ivoire

(TR) In the wake of the developing Ukraine scandal where President Trump requested politically damaging information on his opponent Joe Biden and the investigation going on in the US Congress with regard to that matter, the possibility of impeachment on the basis of abuse of presidential power looms for the American leader.

In a recent tweet, the American president boasted about the construction of new hotels in Cote d’Ivoire. While the president may certainly legally engage in business operations while in public office, it has come to light that official diplomatic negotiations with the Cote d’Ivoire involved these new hotel constructions. In an interview with the Sub-Saharan Star, an economics minister from the African nation said that they did “not want to endanger their relationship with the US” by refusing Trump’s request to build these new hotels.

This could be seen as a major conflict of interest or abuse of power that could fuel domestic impeachment proceedings which are already escalating. When contacted for comment, US Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the Star that “confirmation by the Cote d’Ivoire that the president is using his diplomatic power for personal gain is critical evidence that indicates a trial in the Senate must be held and removal of Donald Trump from office must be seriously considered.”

Nigeria condemns Cameroonian troop movements – Cameroon and Nigeria negotiate – Nigerian “tourists” will be investigated

(BM) Recent troop movements by the Cameroonian Armed Forces are threatening the peace in West Africa. Nigeria condems any military actions in the shared border region and states that they are already taking counter-measures. According to the Minister for Foreign Affairs these counter-measures include significant numbers of soldiers, somewhere around several thousand. No further information could be obtained from the Nigerian government, but considering the small size of the Cameroonian Armed Forces, even relatively small numbers of military personnel could pose a real threat to Cameroonian peace and stability.

The Cameroonian Minister of Foreign Affairs says his country wants peace and he would like to engage in peace talks with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs. He could not withstand the argument that Cameroon is on the weak side as of right now. Especially the Nigerian “tourists” could pose a threat to Cameroons internal security. The collapse of Cameroonian security goes so far thatbthe Minister for Foreign Affairs says he fears for his own personal security.

With a weakened Security council and clearly outnumbered military, adding to that the threat of a Nigerian-funded Ambazonian uprising, Cameroon can only try to negotiate.

Summit of West African ministers of trade 

(HK) It seems to be questionable if the summit of the ministers of trade can be called successful. Looking behind the scenes the conflicts between the donor countries, USA and the People Republic of China and the borrowing, Western African countries, namely Nigeria and Cameroon, are obvious. While the big investing countries demand stability in order to create an investor-friendly environment. The US even called out the Nigerian government for their lack of successful controlling terrorist groups, as well as armed robbery on ships in their territorial waters. Nigeria and Cameroon on the other hand point out, that they need help in fighting those crimes. They are also stating – and justifiably so – that investments are initiating economic growth which again initiates wealth in the countries societies which would lead to more stability. This situation can be described as a dilemma if nothing else. theIt seems to be questionable, if the summit of the ministers of trade can be called sucessfull. Looking behind the scenes the conflicts between the donor countries, USA and the People Republic of China and the borrowing, Western African countries, namely Nigeria and Cameroon, are obvious. While the big investing countries demand stability in order to create an investor-friendly environment. The US even called out the Nigerian government for their lack of successful controlling terrorist groups, as well as armed robbery on ships in their territorial waters. Nigeria and Cameroon on the other hand point out, that they need help in fighting those crimes. They are also stating – and justifiably so – that investments are initiating economic growth which again initiates wealth in the countries societies which would lead to more stability. This situation can be described as a dilemma if nothing else.

So the only resolution the Ministers of trade could come up with, could just be compromised of their most basic common interest: fighting piracy and terrorism in the Gulf of Guinea – revolutionary. 

Whistleblower accuses Nigerian Minister of Defence

Sub-Saharan Star: You claim that you have information on the Nigerian minister’s involvement in the bribery of confidential sources. Could you tell us more about you and the information you know?

Whistleblower: First of all, I work in the Ministry of Defense, so we are talking about important and confidential information in great quantities.

Sub-Saharan Star: Then is it the Minister of Defense who is involved in the bribery?

Whistleblower: At least as far as I know. The Minister of Defense receives a lot of information from the Head of the National Intelligence Agency. Information, the President of Nigeria does not receive.

Sub-Saharan Star: We already talked to the President of Nigeria who denied any accusation against his ministers.

Whistleblower: My information is based on my work in the Ministry of Defense. Unfortunately, this is all I can tell you for the moment, but I can confirm that the Minister of Defense has access to information the President does not know anything about.

Sub-Saharan Star: Thank you for the interview.

Whistleblower: Thank you.

Cameroon on the brink of collapse? – Minister of Defence kidnapped – Peace in danger

(BM) Breaking news: Just a few minutes ago, the Cameroonian Minister of Defence was kidnapped by yet unknown hijackers. The kidnapping went unnoticed by the Cameroonian Government until media pointed towards the absence of the Minister of Defence. The Minister for Foreign Affairs stated, that this kidnapping does not pose any threat to the national security of Cameroon. Although the Cameroonian government has indeed a replacement for the MoD, it is highly questionable if the fragile peace in the country can be maintained without an experienced Minister.

„President Trump should be careful with his statements“ and „No Comment“ – exclusive Interview with the Foreign Minister of China

(BR) Reacting to the recent tweet by President Donald Trump about the signing the Chinese Foreign Minister states, that Chairman Xi is open to sign and deal with every peaceful nation on the planet, but that they were not yet officially approached. In an interview with the Sub-Saharan Star the minister spoke about the trade war and the challenges to China in western Africa.

Star: In his recent tweet, President Trump pledged to sign a trade-agreement with Chinese Chairman Xi Jingping. Does this mean an end to the trade war between China and the US?

Wang Yi: Yes, Chairman Xi said that the current trade war is going to be only harmful to the US, China is always willing cooperate friendly with the US and thats only positive in a friendly environment of economic stability.

Star: On a, maybe more personal level, are there any hard feelings in the the administratiuon and in China in general that Trump started this trade war seemingly out of the blue?

Wang Yi: President Trump should be careful with his statements and a trade war in not a solution, ist only negative for both sides.

Star: Is the trade agreement with the US embedded in the project „New Silk Road“?

Wang Yi: Every country on this planet is invited to join our great project, the US as well. Any player that is going to cooperate with us is warmly welcomed.

Star: Speaking of the „ New Silk Road“, how is that project going? With special regards to western Africa?

Wang Yi: We have deep economic relationships with almost all African countries, especially with Nigeria. It is also in interest of all players in the western African coast to establish an environment of stability, peace and to counter terrorism.

Star: Regarding Nigeria, is the new weapons deal between Nigeria and China also a part of the cooperation of the „New Silk Roads“ and how will it affect the stability of the region in respect to the tense situation at the Border with Cameroon?

Wang Yi: I don´t know which deal you are referring to.

Star: And in regards to the tense Situation between Nigeria and Cameroon?

Wang Yi: No comments.

Party Time for the Government of Cameroon

(EK) René Claude Meka, Chief of staff of the armed forces in Cameroon, has finally found a new wife. After his 15th 23 years old wife had died in a car accident, he finally can marry his new 17 years old sweat heart Ngodibe Natuli. The wedding is taking place right now in Yaoundé – everyone, really everyone is invited to join the biggest party ever! In particular the ministers of China are invited to join this event. It will be probably worth it, the party will go on for at least 3 days!

Corruption in the Nigerian Cabinet? The president’s statement

(AS) In the wake of the accusations against a Nigerian minister, the president of Nigeria was willing to take a stand on this topic by underlining the sound cooperation between the ministers. Furthermore, he denied any suspicion of corruption and stressed that the information on the bribery has to be a rumor by a non-state actor with the aim of harming Nigeria. The president supposed that possible reasons for such an action could be Nigeria’s economic progress as well as its significant role in West Africa. According to him, Nigeria is working hard for its people and for the entire West African community while being in need of more support by financial organizations.

Cameroon moves troops to Nigerian border – Nigeria threatened: Covert operations in Cameroon? – USA warns Cameroon of any reckless steps

(BM) The Cameroon Minister of Defence just confirmed the movement of troops to the border region to Nigeria. According to him, Nigeria “doesn’t have to be afraid” about these troop movements because they’re “exclusively for internal security” purposes. He also stressed that he is in touch with the Nigerian Minister of Defence to solve the problem peacefully.

The implications of these military operations for the region-wide security are daunting. The US consider Cameroon a proven ally and stable partner in the region, according to the Secretary of State. Simultaneously they warn Cameroon of any reckless steps that could endanger the fragile security even more. As of now, it is unclear how much knowledge the US has of the Cameroonian plans.

Nigeria’s response is yet unclear. Local chiefs have claimed to have spotted suspicious Nigerian ‘tourists’. In how far the Nigerian government is involved in this ‘tourism’ is unknown. Undercover military operation would be a danger to region-wide security that should not be underestimated. The Nigerian Minister of Defence states that there are no counter-operations in planning nor execution but stresses his country’s capability to do so.

US drone photographs of Nigerian soil shared with Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana but not the government

(TR) In the wake of 15 hostages being taken in Ghana waters, including at least one US national, the United States has begun flying drones in Nigerian airspace to look for the kidnappers. The Nigerian government initially gave permission for these drones to be flown. However, while observing a ministerial summit the Star has found that the US is sharing photographs of Nigerian land with Nigeria’s neighbours without consulting the government.

Nigeria told the Star that they are “irritated” by the US sidelining them in this matter which regards their national sovereignty. They have lodged a formal diplomatic complaint to this effect and now demand to be included in this data-sharing agreement. When asked, Cote d’Ivoire would not comment on their involvement — nor would Ghana.

Whether the US will acquiesce to Nigeria’s claims has yet to be seen, given the aggressive diplomacy style the present administration prefers.

Upheaval in Nigeria’s Cabinet of Ministers?

(AS) According to confidential sources one of Nigeria’s ministers is making efforts in order to receive important information. Apparently, the minister is bribing sources with the objective of withholding important information from the president. Is it possible, that we are witnessing an upheaval against the president of Nigeria?

Ghana: Sex tourist investigation

(HK) In an effort clearing up the foggy article of a sex tourist spotted in Ghana, investigations about the white middle-aged man have been undertaken and Neither interviews with townspeople nor the search for the two fishermen proved to held any reliable information. There is no confirmation that the man seen was actually a sex tourist–not the most common phenomenon in the region.

Nigeria denies accusations by Cameroon

(AS) Following the accusation by the Cameroonian Minister of Commerce concerning an ostensible training of rebels by Nigeria, the Nigerian Minister of Defense reacted in an astonished but confident manner. He denied all accusations and emphasized that Nigeria is not engaged in any kind of rebel training. According to him, Nigeria and Cameroon are – on the contrary – working together in order to fight terrorism. Consequently, the Minister of Defense stated that there is no reason for Cameroon to fear an attack from Nigeria. Nigeria hopes this cooperation will persist in the future and suggests a meeting between ministers that could help clearing up the different opinions and keep up the joint work against terrorism.

Cameroon accuses Nigeria of supporting rebels – region-wide security at stake – What is Cameroon’s role in the recent incidents?

(BM) In the shadow of a recent bombing and pirate attack, the government of Cameroon announced their long-planned tourism program. According to the Cameroon Minister of Commerce, it is a “huge plan that will boost the economy” and his government seems to be quite proud of it. While Cameroon is long known as an anchor of stability for the entire region, this habit of peace is at stake. As Cameroon seems to be exclusively spared of problems in the recent crisis, experts question the role, Cameroon has played so far in the bombing attack and hostage scenario.

As the Cameroon Minister of Commerce stated, the Nigerian government is currently supporting rebels operating in Cameroon. While there are no hints to any planned uprising yet, government officials state that Cameroon is indeed prepared for any attacks on her National Security. Right now the Government of Cameroon approaches Nigeria, China and the USA to take joint measures against terrorism and insurgency.

For these statements are surely heart-minded, it is questionable for how long Cameroon will maintain stability and security.

Two Hostages Killed on Kidnapped Oil Tanker

(EK) This morning, a shocking video was uploaded which shows the brutal execution of two innocent hostages on an oil tanker in the golf of guinea. The oil tanker, completely filled with oil from Ghana, was on the way to the United States. Yesterday, Pirates kidnapped the ship and claim an amount of 5 million dollars. They already threatened to kill the captain who is American. According to the information of the pirates, the captain is still alive. They also made clear in their nasty video that other victims will follow. The White House will hold a press conference about an military action. President Trump already tweeted that he took the pirates words “no mercy” very serious and also plans “no mercy” for those little bastards.

Nigeria’s response to the terrorists attack: Interview with the Minister of State for Petroleum

(HK) The Nigerian Minister of State Petroleum stated today, Nigeria endaveors to solve the terrorist attack. Their main concern though is first aid for the people at the Niger delta. Immediately after the occurence the government send firemen from all over the country to help controlling the fires following the oil block incident. Nigeria also strengthened the military on-site not just for victim rescue but to ensure security in general as well. The Minister of State Petroleum denied giving further information about exact military movements and their possible collaboration of American and Chinese military.

He also released that the government is sending Nigerian experts on oil contemination to Ghana and Cote d`Ivoire as Nigeria has an unfortunate history with this kind of environmental problem. Of course the goverment will also try their best to control the pollution in Nigerian waters.

Piracy on the rise

(BR) This morning at 10:30 the executives of one of the largest international shipping companies worldwide, Frontline Ltd., received an anonymous demand over 16 million $ in ransom in exchange for the lives of 15 crew members of a vessel which was attacked on October 31st. The ransom demand marks another sad peak in the recent history of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Interestingly the kidnapping of crew members of an oil tanker differs quite a lot from the normal practice of the pirates in western Africa, according to a United Nations study. Normally, and sadly for the crew members, they mostly get killed right on site and the attackers rob and sell the oil in the tanker. Taking personnel hostage is normally the practice of the, equally brutal, pirates in the Gulf of Aden in the north east of Africa.

Although since 1993 there is an agreement of the ECOWAS to fight and ultimately eradicate piracy in the Region, attacks are at an all-time high. The surge in attacks came in 2016 after a two-year period of relative absence of violence. In 2018 the numbers rose to 30 actual attacks and 18 attempts in Nigeria alone. It is to mention that these numbers cover exclusively the criminal offence of piracy (which is defined as armed robbery of vessels in international waters), not counting the the numerous cases of armed robbery at sea in the territorial waters of the respective countries. As the crisis unfolds, one can only speculate what the fate of the hostages will be, given that the President of the US stated in a tweet that the United States „will not be blackmailed“. It will be interesting to see how the gamble for the lives continues as the captain of the tanker is in fact a US Citizen.

US declares oil tanker kidnapping a terrorist act

(TR) Following a kidnapping of 15 on an oil tanker off the coast of Ghana, including a ship captain of US nationality, the United States declared the incident an act of terror. The Secretary of State told the Star that “all necessary actions would be taken” to secure the safety of the hostages (especially American nationals) and that they are coordinating with local governments in the Gulf of Guinea in this regard.

However, the Star was also told that the US is not in contact with the hostage takers and that paying the ransom of 16 million USD was a “last resort” for the USA. The US explained it was still exploring options for securing the hostages with “the least collateral damage possible”. It remains unclear whether US armed forces will become involved but the Secretary of State was unwilling to rule out this possibility.

This story is ongoing. 

Chinese seek assurance from Nigerian government as oil interests threatened

(TR) This morning, a Chinese National Patroleum Corporation (CNPC) oil rig was attacked and two regional militias claimed responsibility for the event — Boko Haram and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

CNPC interests are protected by private security for hire in a region of Nigeria where law enforcement or Nigerian military forces are thinly spread despite (or perhaps because) of the history of militia activity there. When asked if the attack caught them by surprise, Chinese officials were unwilling to comment affirmatively. Nor were they willing to comment explicitly about who the perpetrators of this attack were but officials indicated they possess information about the culprits which they did not wish to divulge. Further, they suggested that Boko Haram does not typically operate in this region of Nigeria (this much is true).

Regardless, the Star’s sources indicate that China is reaching out to Nigeria for assurance that its interests will be protected. It remains to be seen what kind of diplomatic pressure the Chinese will apply to achieve the security they demand.

Environmental issues in Gulf of Guinea getting worse

(BM, HK) In the shadow of recent oil catastrophes – the burning of an oil block in the Niger Delta and the bombing of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Guinea – loom long term environmental problems for the entire region.
For years now oil leaks and oil theft diminished the yields of several oil blocks in Nigeria. During times of political violence, when the last bits of governance collapse, up to 40 percent of the oil leaks in rivers, lakes and swamps or is stolen by oil thieves. While many local and national politicians consider these issues to be exclusively problems of western oil companies, evidence shows that the real problems isn’t the money. The last leakages led to severel thousand barrels of oil contaminating the already fragile eco system of the delta. Without focused government policies or long term planning and considering that more oil gets leaked than cleaned up, the delta region will suffer from the consequences for decades.
Lake Chad is an important water storage of West Africa in the north of Cameroon right at the border to Chad and Nigeria. Once the supplier of livelihood of people in 8 countries, it suffered most severe of climate change over the last 50 years. In 1964 it was so large that it covered 8 percent of the African landmass. But what remains today is nothing more than a patchwork of punds and puddles, since it shrunk by 90 percent in the year of 2017. Covering three climate zones – the Sahare desert in the north, the semiarid Sahel in the central zone and tropical Savannah climate in the south—the size of Lake Chad has always fluctuated between seasons and between years. But since the great droughts of 1970s and 80s it has continously shrunk. The main reason though is possibly the head-first building of dams to gather energy for the growing economies of the neighbouring countries.
It’s 2019 and the world is talking climate change. But not in the Gulf. Politicians, companies, locals and rebels still see the environment not as the living space for millions of people today as tomorrow, but as the playground for their own businesses and affairs.

Explosive atmosphere – the oil extraction process in Nigeria

(AS) In the aftermath of the explosion of oil block OPL 298 on 31st October 2019, a further investigation into the topic of the oil extraction process is indispensable. According to an article published on the Reuters website in April 2019 the frequency of oil spills in pipelines maintained by Shell in the Nigeria delta has increased from 62 cases in 2017 to 111 in 2018 with the volume of oil spilt rising to 1,600 tonnes. Consequently, these incidents have an impact on the environment that shall not be underestimated. These damages to the local ecosystem resulted in human deaths in the past – a reason for which a statement by the oil company is the least that should be expected. Following the latest rise in oil leaks, Shell responded by blaming a larger output and higher oil prices for the oil spills without answering the questions concerning their poor maintenance of the oil pipes. The increase in oil prices can be considered as a reason for more illegal refining. But in the case of the latest explosion of OPL 298 these reasons do not seem to apply: According to latest news Boko Haram claims responsibility for the incident menacing China, the country maintaining OPL 298.

The Niger Delta in flames, again

Oct 31 (TR) An explosion hit an oil rig in a block (OPL 298) owned by China National Patroleum Corporation this morning. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack but evidence of the culprits are so far scarce. However, the Niger Delta is no stranger to violence and guerilla warfare against the oil operations in the region, particularly Shell interests.

In terms of suspects, there has historically been one obvious candidate. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is a coalition of local militia groups aiming to extract benefits from the exploitation of the oil resources in the delta. They have been somewhat successful in their goals, to the extent of extracting amnesty payments from the Nigerian government in exchange for a ceasefire — first in 2009 and then in 2014. The ceasefire appeared to be holding up until now, but the situation on the ground may be changing quickly.

It is known that as of February 2017 the government was overdue in making payments to so-called “ex-militants” from the 2009 agreement. It remains to be seen whether they are keeping up their end of the bargain with regards to the more recent ceasefire or whether MEND militants are satisfied. Whether Boko Haram (a group ideologically positioning itself against Western influence, including both corporations and governments) is truly responsible or another group is as yet unknown.

This story is ongoing and the Star has contacted the office of Chinese President Xi Jinpeng for comments or reactions on this attack to Chinese interests and will be updated with their response or any new developments.