Early each morning, a crowd gathers outside Ahmad Isah’s radio studio in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hoping to share their problems over the airwaves.
For those waiting — men and women, young and old — Isah’s Brekete Family show offers a rare chance try to hold officials to account in a country where rampant graft and abuses of the justice system often frustrate citizens.
The lucky few who Isah picks each day get to make themselves heard on issues ranging from their struggles against the authorities to medical needs and requests for financial assistance. The others will have to come back another time.
“My goal is to give a voice to the voiceless, facilitate arbitration, expose wrongdoings and force those in power to respect rights,” says Isah. “The inspiration is about justice, kindness, and support to humanity.”
Nicknamed the ‘Ordinary President’, Isah begins his live show on Human Rights radio with a call and response in pidgin, the language widely spoken in Nigeria, to get his audience fired up.
Teacher Winifred Ogah has come to try to get some redress after she says a local court wrongly auctioned off her car for failing to pay rent on her house.
“I believe that the justice you get here, you can’t get it outside,” she said. “I have been listening to the programme and was encouraged by how other people’s problems were being resolved.”
Rights groups in Africa’s most populous nation often complain of a culture of impunity, where the wealthy easily skew the system in their favour and officials rarely have to answer for their misdeeds.
“The voices of the masses in Nigeria are usually unheard because they don’t have the financial muscle or connections to be able to project their views especially when in need of justice,” says Daniel Soe tan, from the Goodwill Ambassadors of Nigeria civil society organisation. He is a regular listener to Isa’s show and lauds it for “helping to project the voices of ordinary people” in a way that makes it difficult for officials to ignore.
“When these issues are projected, it attracts the attention of the authorities to attend to their plights,” Soe tan said. “It is a forum that allows people to speak because if they are left with authorities alone, there can be bureaucracies and attempts to silence them.”
Human Rights radio has been on air since 2006 and while Isah did not give precise audience figures he insisted it even had listeners outside Nigeria. They first need to depose to an affidavit at the High Court in Nigeria in which they swear they are telling the truth.
‘Nothing is working’
It is not easy taking on the powerful interests deeply entrenched at every level of Nigeria’s federal, regional and local governments. But Isah insists the radio show’s combative style has had concrete results bringing officials to book.
“Some of them see us as a threat. They don’t like us. We have exposed several corruption cases that other people are afraid to go close to,” he said. “There is injustice everywhere, the government is not accountable, and there is no justice for the poor, bad roads, terrible hospitals. Nothing is working in this country.”
Over 44 per cent of Nigeria’s roughly 190 million people are estimated to live in extreme poverty and that fraction is expected to grow as the population expands.
The show also looks to give financial assistance to those in need with support from the MacArthur Foundation and its own fund-raising. One of the beneficiaries Luis Kinta said the radio had raised two million naira to boost his shoemaking business.
“I came here without knowing anyone. The good thing is that ordinary president assists without knowing the tribe, religious and affinity of those he supports,” he said.
But the major focus for Isah remains on trying to get redress for those wronged by Nigeria’s abusive officials — and the flow of hopefuls bringing cases to him shows no sign of slowing.
“The justice system is only for the rich, not for the poor, So this is why we need this kind of journalism in this country,” he said. “I will never give up.”
Sudan plans airline revival
Sudan announced on Tuesday, that it is in talks with Airbus over a deal to supply eight new planes to its state carrier.
According to a statement from Sudan’s finance ministry, a delegation representing the European manufacturer has met the ministers of finance and infrastructure to discuss the deal and revamp Sudan Airways’ fleet
The document further explains that Airbus has also proposed to provide technical support, without giving details on the financial aspects of the deal.
The manufacturer has commented on the proposal.
Sudan Airways has suffered heavily over the years from trade sanctions imposed by Washington in 1997, with most of its fleet grounded.
Washington lifted the sanctions in October 2017 but the airline has still not been fully operational due to difficulties in procuring spare parts.
Aston Villa sign Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta
27-year-old becomes first Tanzanian to play in the English Premier League
English Premier league side Aston Villa have completed the signing of Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta for £10m on a four-and-half-year deal, subject to a work permit and international clearance.
The 27-year-old scored 10 goals for Genk in all competitions this season including a goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Villa manager Dean Smith hailed the signing “I’m really pleased we have managed to bring Mbwana to the club, he has scored goals throughout his career and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Samatta makes history as the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but will be unavailable for Villa’s home match against Watford on Tuesday.
Samatta who is captain of the Tanzanian national side expressed his joy at making the move “I’m so excited, it’s a huge step for me in my career. It’s a big step for the country too. Everyone was looking for a Tanzanian to play in the Premier League.
“I know a lot about Aston Villa. I used to watch Gabby Agbonlahor when he was here.”
Samatta is Villa’s third signing of the January transfer window following loan signings of midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea and goalkeeper Pepe Reina from AC Milan.
President Kenyatta launches Kenya’s first green bond at London Stock Exchange
President Uhuru Kenyatta today rang the bell to kick off the trading of Kenya’s first green bond at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Speaking during the launch, the President urged UK investors to use Kenya as a gateway to investing in Africa and AS a bridge to the emerging market of more than 1.2 billion people created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Kenya is one of the top ten fastest growing economies on the continent and also one of the most pro-business nations in Africa,” President Kenyatta said. The President is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.
The $40 million (over 4 billion shillings) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings, started trading today at the LSE and becomes the first Kenya shilling corporate green bond to be listed in the United Kingdom. The bond, which was first listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange last week, will help Acorn Holdings raise funds to build environmentally friendly accommodation for 50,000 university students in Nairobi.
The Kenyan leader applauded last year’s signing of an MoU by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange to work with Kenyan companies to help them expand their footprint by jointly listing on the bourse in Nairobi and in London.
“I note that to date the LSE has admitted over 200 bonds from across the world, raising over 33 billion Pound Sterling worth of capital for sustainable development,” he pointed out.
Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Honourable Alok Sharma, said one of the reasons the green bond was happening was because of the support the UK government has provided in terms of the regulation environment and the partial guarantees for investors.
“This is a landmark moment here as well as in the whole of London for we are here today because of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. We have over eight of the 50 fast growing economies in the world in Africa,” Mr Sharma said.
President Kenyatta, along with other African leaders, is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.
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