Britain and the lonely exit from the EU

The hard reality that Prime Minister Theresa May should be grappling with after attending the G20 Summit in China is that the path out of the European Union for Britain is getting lonelier by the day.  She was left in no doubt by the Japanese government about the potentially disastrous consequences should Britain cease to be a major participant in the EU Single Market. Meanwhile, President Obama left no doubt that negotiating a new, post-Brexit trade deal with the UK would be a distinctly lower priority for Washington than forging closer links with the EU.

May - Obama at G20 2016

When British Government chooses to talk tough on the Brexit issues, it just makes the Brexit Lane not only narrower but also lonelier. Hear the Brexit Minister yesterday on television “If a requirement of membership of the EU Single Market is giving up control of our borders, that makes it very improbable”

John Palmer in a Social Europe commentary toyed with the idea of a second referendum but quickly paused to ask the intelligent question: what about? I liked all that he had to say in attempting to find an answer to that question but also in presenting alternative strategy*

Since the “Brexit” referendum in June, there has been a series of demonstrations demanding a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership. The call for a replay of the vote echoes the widespread shock at the outcome on June 24. The clamour for a second vote in this form has been impressive in scale but, although understandable, it reflects a mistaken strategy.

The mere attempt to raise the issue has resulted in an orchestrated chorus of “foul play!” from the Leave camp hardliners. If a replay vote were to be held, the million and one arguments for Britain remaining a member of the EU would be drowned out by charges of “democratic sabotage” from populist, nationalist and anti-immigrant Tory and UKIP factions.

There is, however, a more compelling case for a referendum on a quite different issue: the withdrawal terms that the Conservative government will eventually seek and/or secure from its EU partners. These would include not only the precise relationship that the UK would retain with the EU and its Single Market but also the legal basis on which the government would negotiate new, global trade deals.

Both questions obviously raise hugely important issues for the UK and for the different nations which make it up. To take just one example: would there have to be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic or, as some suspect, border controls within the UK between Northern Ireland and the British mainland (as temporarily existed during the Second World War?) The remarkable thing is how little attention this has received in the media.

These issues never formed part of the background to the referendum decision which the British people were asked to make earlier this year. But they cannot be allowed to come to pass without democratic validation either by Parliament or through a referendum.  The impact on the British economy – and society as a whole – could be radically different depending on which one of the very different alternative relationships with the EU eventually emerges. If the government loses a validation vote in the House of Commons or in a new referendum, it would have no real choice but to retract its eventual Article 50 decision – as it would have every legal right to do.

An indication of just what is at stake has already come at the G20 summit in China. The prime minister, Teresa May, was left in no doubt by the Japanese government about the potentially disastrous consequences should Britain cease to be a major participant in the EU Single Market. Meanwhile, President Obama left no doubt that negotiating a new, post-Brexit trade deal with the UK would be a distinctly lower priority for Washington than forging closer links with then EU. Meanwhile, Mrs May risks a frosty reaction from Leave hardliners by declaring that their favoured “Australian” points system for restricting EU migration to Britain simply will not work. Both factions in the government are struggling to articulate a detailed Article 50 negotiating mandate handicapped by the dearth of trade expertise in Whitehall. The UK lost most of its foreign trade competence to the EU 40 years ago, but the Brexiteers had no idea of how acute the shortage of expertise really was until they took office.

Add to this the fact that the Conservative government has a very small majority in the House of Commons (12 MPs), that its EU partners are not going to be a soft touch if it tries to secure a super-privileged deal with the Union and it is not hard to see the political perils facing Mrs May in the months ahead. Even so, she has confidently ruled out both a second referendum and even a mandatory vote of approval in Parliament for the eventual Article 50 outcome.

The only factors that might work in her favour are the internal dissension in the Labour Party following the attempted removal of Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership and the Nigel Farage succession rows in UKIP. But both are likely to be resolved very soon. All the indications point to a triumphant re-election of Corbyn as leader later this month. Leading members of the Labour “Shadow Cabinet” have made it clear that the Labour opposition will fight hard to secure guarantees against any dilution of existing EU social and Labour right and environmental standards. They also insist that a Brexit UK vetoes any “race to the bottom” in such areas by ensuring that UK matches EU standards.

The co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, has rightly already demanded a second referendum on the final Article 50 package.

Corbyn and Lucas share very many common political positions and this should logically be another. After all this would not be a re-run of the summer referendum but one concerned with the futureconstitutional, social and economic rights of the British people.

The Tory government may try to block both a second referendum and a mandatory vote of the House of Commons. But between now and the date when the two-year Article 50 process is exhausted, the pressure of domestic and overseas political events as well as a worsening economic situation (and those impressive pro-European demonstrations) may force the government to rethink. One can only hope so.

*Based on an analysis in the 7 September 2016 in Social Europe originally entitled “A Second Referendum – But What About” by John Palmer


Nigerian Diaspora Day – Chronicle of a failing national event



There is a heightened debate about what and how a purposeful Diaspora Day should look like. A cursory look at the content of the debate has revealed that the issues at the core of the debate today, are not very much different from what they were in 2013 and perhaps way back. Indeed a remarkable retrogression could be noted. On the risk of saddling you with issues you are conversant with but in consideration of the numerous inquiries that I have continued to receive from press and public, I felt it was imperative to publish this chronicle of five briefing notes exactly as they were released at the time to the stakeholders. I note the burning desire of many to gyrate towards a new Diaspora Day model. Though some of the ideas espoused in this chronicle may now be irrelevant, a good part of it will certainly be useful contributions in the process of molding or remolding Diaspora Day that is fit for purpose. You may therefore wish to consider this a reminder to all stakeholders of where we are coming from, in the expectation that it will help chart a new course going forward.

Wishing you a good read!

Collins Nweke

Chairman Global Diaspora Planning Committee 2013 / Chairman NIDO Europe 2011 – 2013


It has become necessary to put out this note following several calls from individual Diaspora and other stakeholders concerned about the state of play with Diaspora Day 2013. Some have drawn attention to a website purportedly carrying information about ‘Diaspora Day’ with a call to individuals to register for the event.

While we do not intend to undermine efforts from any individuals or domestic groups towards holding any variant of Diaspora Day, it is important for you to know that neither the global leadership of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation nor the Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS) under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is officially aware of or has authorized Diaspora Day plans as presented in the published website.

You will recall that in 2012, the Diaspora Day was called off at the last minute by the then Permanent Secretary in charge of the event. This left numerous individuals and families in Diaspora stranded as tickets for this annual event had been purchased and their summer plans made to fit into the Diaspora Day. Though we were not responsible for the chaos at the time, the leadership of NIDO took responsibility for an aggressive impression management to limit the effects of the cancellation to the Diaspora. We also made a commitment then to take the side of caution by not releasing any information to the public on subsequent Diaspora Day until we secure a formal written confirmation from Government that the Diaspora Day 2013 will hold. This is a position that the Permanent Secretary (Political & Economic Affairs) Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation wholeheartedly endorsed, appealing for our continued understanding. Just this morning, assurances from Government that the requested written confirmation will shortly be obtained, was renewed.

Above situation notwithstanding, we have continued to liaise with the Permanent Secretary and the NNVS and so far, all relevant preparations are in place including, tentative booking for venue, programme dummy, public sector resource persons, et cetera. Indeed all major preparatory work is in place following an Implementation Plan that we developed in concert with the NNVS. Following budget approval by the SGF, these deliverables would be deployed and appropriate announcements made by the official bodies.

Finally, it bears emphasizing that the NNVS remains the anchor for Nigerian Diaspora Day in concert with NIDO and other relevant Diaspora and domestic bodies. Privatization of this most important annual event is not in discussion at present. Should that become the case, it goes without saying that you shall be kept posted. Until then please choose the side of caution with us and disregard any call to register for the official Diaspora Day 2013.

Thank you and please look out shortly for more on this!



  1. General

In our Stakeholder Communication of 29 May 2013, we intimated you that choosing the side of caution; we have decided not to release any conclusive information to the public on Diaspora Day until we secure a formal written confirmation from Government that the Diaspora Day 2013 will hold.  Though such written confirmation has not been received from Government, we observe that planning is intensifying. We have continued to be reassured that the letter will reach us at any moment. It goes without saying that same will be communicated to you without any delay. In the meantime, we thought it is important to communicate the current state of play to you, hence this Briefing Note. It should also be made clear to you that in as much as we desire otherwise, organisation of Diaspora Day remains under the control of Government. While we intensify our call for a reform of this situation, to engender true partnership, we are cooperating with Government within the boundaries of reason, irrespective of the limitations, to have as successful an event as possible.

  1. Project-Based Diaspora Day 2013.

The position of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation remains that Diaspora Day must move away from converging in Nigeria for the sake of conferencing. A Diaspora Day without content and character is, in our view, a waste of public resources. In our Implementation Plan, submitted to the relevant authorities in April 2013, we have articulated clearly our vision of an achievable project-based Diaspora Day in which Nigeria will be the ultimate beneficiary. We have received documented commendations from all quarters in and out of Government for our vision in this respect. We therefore remain committed to contributing to the Diaspora Day 2013 from a project-based perspective focusing on three core thematic areas: Technology, Health & Education with job creation as the melting pot. We will encourage you to continue thinking along these lines in a quest to adding value to this important national event. We thank those of you who have availed us projects for presentation and do request those whose projects are yet to be submitted, to expedite action.

  1. Registration of Delegates

In an earlier communication, we had drawn your attention to an unauthorized website calling you to register for the Diaspora Day. That position is yet to change because the traditional anchors of the Diaspora Day, which is the NNVS, has not advised us otherwise. Until that happens, you may wish to register for the Diaspora Day 2013 from the brand new NIDO worldwide website ( as from Wednesday 26 June 2013.

  1. Resource persons

We wish to draw attention of persons interested in presenting projects to the following excerpt from the Diaspora Day Implementation Plan:

“The Diaspora Day 2013 will therefore de-emphasize academic presentations. It will be project-based and will target only implementable projects ready for Nigeria as a lucrative investment destination. The following thematic areas will be the core focus of the Diaspora Day 2013:

  • Technology.
  • Education.
  • Health.
  • ….”

Along above line, we therefore call on you to submit your project(s) if you are yet to do so. Furthermore the voluntary services of Rapporteurs and others who possess expertise in any of the thematic areas identified above and are willing to chair relevant breakout sessions, are required. Kindly indicate your interest by sending an email to or to your continental representative on the Global Planning Committee.

  1. Accommodation

As of today, we do not have any conclusive information from the NNVS on arrangements for accommodating Diaspora Delegates. In our discussions with the NNVS, we have represented the view that like in previous years, the Diaspora expects to be accommodated for the entire duration of the Diaspora Day. From the information available to us and corroborated by our Implementation Plan, the Diaspora Day is to run from 23 – 26 July 2013. It has been rumored in some quarters that the NNVS is planning to have the Diaspora pay part of their accommodation costs for the period of the Diaspora Day 2013. We are unaware of any such plans by the NNVS. Till date, the NNVS has not confirmed any such intentions to us. If anything, we believe that it is fair to say that the NNVS is doing all that they possibly could, to arrange for the Diaspora to be accommodated. Unfortunately we cannot firmly confirm this to you because we do not have any such confirmation in writing.

  1. Date for Diaspora Day 2013

You may have read from certain sources, or be informed by some unauthorized entities that the Diaspora Day 2013 is a weeklong event. That information is contrary to the information available to us from authorized sources and indeed the position we expressed in our Implementation Plan. The Diaspora Day 2013 is planned for 24 – 26 July 2013. Arrival may be tolerated for 23 July, while departure can extend to 27 July under strictly pre-agreed conditions. These are part of the issues on which we are seeking official, written confirmation from Government. It is our firm position that an event of this magnitude should not be allowed to be run on the basis of hearsay. We hope that you can begin to appreciate why we stand on the side of caution and professionalism by seeking formal confirmation from relevant official bodies to enable us inform you correctly.

  1. Closing

Finally, it bears re-emphasizing that as NIDO, we may not be fully in synch with the way and manner the planning process of the Diaspora Day 2013 is proceeding but we have made the conscious decision to remain part of it for the common good. While in it, we will continue to speak out on your behalf in favour of a more professional organizational approach. Nobody is served well with a fire-brigade approach in an event as important as the Diaspora Day.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Be rest assured that as more information become available to us, same will be made available to you.



  1. General

Last week we brought you update on the planning for Diaspora Day 2013. One point in that update bears underlining, which is that despite the odds, shortcomings and challenges, our resolve to work with Government, represented by the Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS) in ensuring a successful Diaspora Day 2013, remains unshaken. Perfectly conscious of the fact that the NNVS remains the organizers of Diaspora Day, we invite you to join us in that resolve to make the event the success that it ought to be. Ours as NIDO is that of a supporting and advisory role and we shall continue to take these roles seriously. We must also be conscious of the limitations of our role: we can only advise but what Government does with our advice is entirely up to them. That is the situation as of today. Going forward the leadership of NIDO believes firmly that a reform is urgently needed, such that accountability, partnership and stakeholdership are placed at the centre of this whole business.

  1. Project-Based Diaspora Day 2013.

Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation remains an unrepentant proponent of project-based Diaspora Day because that is the imperative of our time as an emerging economy. A project-based Diaspora Day ensures better value for our time away from work and family. Above all, we represent the view that previous six years of Diaspora Day have been experiments in academic and intellectual exposé. Such experiments may have been right at the time but time changes and we must change with time. We will continue to persuade Government along this line and are hopeful for success. In the meantime, we have noted the expanded thematic areas which the NNVS supports as opposed to the three focused thematic areas of technology, education and health, with job creation as the melting point, which NIDO believes is the way to go. Both points having been made and in consideration of the fact that we do not wish to unduly disadvantage our members, we are advising that members who may wish to present papers, decide for themselves in which areas they want to present on. One thing is for sure, the dialogue must continue beyond Diaspora Day 2013 as to which model best serves Nigeria.

  1. NIDO Unified Website and Registration of Delegates

In line with a unified Nigerian Diaspora as the true global network we are, we have developed a common logo a couple of months ago, which is now being systematically deployed. Along that strategic line, we have launched a common website From this website you can also register for the Diaspora Day 2013. The website has experienced huge traffic since its launch as our webmasters continue to update and upload contents. Please bear with us if you experience any problem attempting to register. Do try again after a little while.

  1. Accommodation

We have been informed of Government’s arrangements in respect of accommodation as follows: “The Venue has been shifted to NICON Luxury due to the limited budget for this year’s DDAY. 100 Rooms in total are to be provided out of which rooms will be carved out for Special Guests, Speakers, and some members of the Rapporteur and Secretariat. The rest of the rooms are to be split with the main Diaspora Groups proportionately with a few reserved for lesser known but important groups. NNVS is negotiating with NICON Luxury so that discounts will be offered to those coming who will have to pay for themselves. We may also be able to get N11,000 a room at Top Ranks Hotel”

We can attest to the efforts of staff of the NNVS to maximize the comfort of all Diaspora delegates. As much as we want to, we unfortunately cannot give any guaranty of accommodation for any delegates. However we shall follow up closely with the NNVS to ensure equitable allocation of accommodation.

  1. Date for Diaspora Day 2013

We have been informed that Diaspora Day 2013 is planned for 24 – 26 July 2013. Arrival date is 23 July, while departure is 27 July.

  1. Closing

Finally, we should place on records that till today, we are yet to receive any official letter from Government on the Diaspora Day as requested and agreed. It must also be mentioned that we have been told that the official letter is ready and may reach us any moment.

We commit to updating you as often as possible on developments as they relate to the Diaspora Day 2013 and allied matters. We also thank you for your patience with us and your kind understanding.


  1. The Presidency Formally Confirms Diaspora Day 2013

We would like to report that on Monday 1 July 2013 a formal letter was sent to the leadership of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), officially intimating us of the ‘National Diaspora Day Celebration’ and extending to us ‘Invitation to Participate as Stakeholders’. While we welcome the invitation and have since been actively participating in the planning process, unsolicited as it were, the leadership of NIDO wants to do more than simply ‘participate’ in an event over which we should have some measure of ownership. It is the expectation of the Diaspora that a partnership exists between Government and the Diaspora in planning and executing the Nigeria Diaspora Day. That said, it must be on record that we appreciate the work being done by the Planning Team under very difficult circumstances. Despite the limitations, the Directors of the Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), under the OSGF have continued to do their best to be the best anchor of the Diaspora Day as they possibly could.

Being invitees and not partners in the planning of the Diaspora Day means that we can only offer non-committal advice. What Government does with the advice proffered is entirely up to them. We do not think that the Diaspora, particularly Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, recognized by Government as the official representatives of the Diaspora deserves to be treated in such shabby manner. We have made our views known to Government while continuing at the same time to work with the organizers towards a successful event. A reform is urgently needed. The leadership of NIDO will continue to persuade and lobby Government in that direction as we allow them the space to do their job.

According to the formal letter from Government, the Diaspora Day 2013 runs from “Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th July with the Official Opening slated for “Thursday July 25”

  1. Deadline for Registration and Submission of Abstracts Extended.

In consideration of the uncertainties that have beclouded the Diaspora Day 2013 and the late notification and confirmation from Government, many Diaspora have either put off plans to attend or have delayed decisions to participate in the event. Less than 48 hours after registration for participation opened on our website many of you registered en mass and are still registering. We thank you for remaining loyal and understanding even as your patience was tested. We are happy to announce that as a result of our intervention with the organizers, the deadline for registration has now been extended to Friday 5 July 2013. Similarly, those who wish to present projects or papers now have until Friday 5 July to submit their abstract for consideration. Kindly send your abstract to or to your continental representative in the Global Diaspora Planning Team. Details are available on

  1. Diaspora Award

We have reasons to believe that some clarifications are needed about whether or not there will be a Diaspora Award in the Diaspora Day 2013. Please be informed that there will not be a Diaspora Award in the Diaspora Day 2013. Indeed in the initial concept for the Diaspora Day 2013, Diaspora Award was proposed. The position of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation was and remains that a Diaspora Award is a good idea but not one that can credibly and transparently be organized in 2013 due to limited time. NIDO cannot afford to join the growing list of Awards organisations with neither content nor character. The Diaspora Award that we envisage must be open, participative, transparent, free and fair. In the last couple of weeks, talks have intensified that the Diaspora Award will be taking place despite the objection to this by NIDO. We therefore had to seek and indeed obtained confirmation from the Planning Team that no Diaspora Awards will take place at the Diaspora Day 2013

  1. Accommodation

In our last Update, we reported as follows:

We have been informed of Government’s arrangements in respect of accommodation as follows: “The Venue has been shifted to NICON Luxury due to the limited budget for this year’s DDAY. 100 Rooms in total are to be provided out of which rooms will be carved out for Special Guests, Speakers, and some members of the Rapporteur and Secretariat. The rest of the rooms are to be split with the main Diaspora Groups proportionately with a few reserved for lesser known but important groups. NNVS is negotiating with NICON Luxury so that discounts will be offered to those coming who will have to pay for themselves. We may also be able to get N11,000 a room at Top Ranks Hotel”

Based on the sort of enquiries coming from members, we are conscious of the fact that some of you are anxious to know exactly what the situation is with accommodation for Diaspora Day 2013. We are unaware of any new development regarding accommodation but will continue to follow up with the organizers on behalf of members.

  1. Closing

We commit to updating you as often as possible on developments as they relate to the Diaspora Day 2013 and allied matters. We also thank you for your patience with us and your kind understanding.


  1. The D-Day is Upon Us

We are stepping out of the last preparation week of the Diaspora Day 2013 and into the week when the event holds. What began with a whole lot of uncertainty, numerous questions with few answers is now becoming the reality that it ought to be. We thank you for your characteristic resilience as Nigerians and your faith in us to uphold and defend your interest. You have been patient with us as your mandated representatives as we battle on your behalf under difficult circumstances to bring you information and serve you with excellence.

The transformational agenda of the current government in Nigeria is not a one-way traffic.  It is like the root system of a tree, with each root, as tiny as it is, supplying from its vintage point, minerals, to nourish the stem. For this home-grown ideology to blossom and impact substantially on the citizens, Nigerians in Diaspora in general and NIDO in particular, should add verve to the Nigerian project. Diaspora Day 2013 should go down in the annals of history as the commencement of a renewed stride to position NIDO as a critical root of the Nigerian tree. NIDO aspires to take its place as an important wire supplying lifeline to the whole country. It is from this perspective that we believe the Diaspora Day must be a tool for us in facilitating the local developmental agenda from the Diaspora vantage point by supplying the ingredients required to grow the agenda. By a set of deliberately chosen actions, we are embarking on this project hence our favour for a project-based Diaspora Day as evidenced by the choice of projects that we have encouraged our members and sympathizers to present this year.

  1. Accommodation

To our relief the organizers have informed us that accommodation will be provided to all duly registered Diaspora delegates. We are therefore most delighted that we will not have to deal with the clumsy exercise of room allocation whereby some delegates would have to be left disappointed. We are aware that some Diaspora have given up their plans of attending the Diaspora Day 2013 in view of some of the uncertainties involved in the planning. However we dire to encourage you to firm up your travel plans and converge with us in Abuja as it promises to be worth the trouble for you.

  1. Confirmation of Resource Persons

Majority of the resource persons (presenters, discussants, rapporteurs) from our membership or facilitated by us have been formally notified of their status. We are hoping that the organizers will heed our recommendation and also formally notify persons whose projects or papers have not made the list on this occasion. If you applied to present a paper and have not yet been formally notified of your status, do contact Ms Badewa Williams by email and Mrs Ayangade

  1. Delegate Confirmation Letters / Airport Shuttle

Some of you have so far received Letters of Confirmation as delegates while others are yet to receive theirs. Please be reassured that as long as you are duly registered as a Diaspora delegate, you will be received and taken care of. Shortly, you shall be receiving your confirmation letter either from the NNVS or from NIDO. We shall be mounting a Welcome Desk to ensure that our members are professionally received on arrival at the Hotel.  Unfortunately we are unable to give you conclusive information on Airport – Hotel Shuttle arrangements for delegates. As soon as any such information becomes available from the organizers, we shall update you. Meanwhile it might be advisable to start making your shuttle arrangement to the NICON Luxury Hotel, where as mentioned earlier, NIDO dedicated hosts and hostesses will be on hand to warmly welcome you.

  1. List of Projects & Papers

We are compiling a list of papers and projects to be presented at the Diaspora Day 2013 for enhanced visibility using multiple media. If your project or paper has been approved for presentation and you wish the project to be listed by us, kindly forward project details to us via email to  Endeavour to include project title, one-sentence description, your name and country of residence.

  1. NIDO Contact Numbers in Abuja

Should you have any questions regarding your participation in the Diaspora Day 2013, please feel free to contact the following Diaspora leaders for a helping hand:

Mr Ganiyu A Dada

Chairman NIDO Americas | Member Diaspora Global Planning Committee

Tel. 0803 578 45 94
Mr Ben Osawe

General Secretary NIDO Europe | Member Diaspora Global Planning Committee

Tel. 0813 534 5011
  1. Formal Launch of New Corporate NIDO Logo by Mr President

The new corporate logo of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation is billed to be launched by Mr President during the opening session of the Diaspora Day 2013 on Thursday 25 July. You are welcome to witness this history-making event.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your Global Diaspora Representatives in planning the Diaspora Day 2013!


Hon. Collins Nweke | NIDO Europe | Tel. +32 498 345 889 |

Chairman Diaspora Day 2013 Global Planning Committee


Mr Ganiyu Dada | NIDO Americas

Dr Babatunde B Lee | NIDO Africa

Dr Mohammed Aliyu-Paiko | NIDO Asia-Pacific



Permanent Secretary (Political & Economic Affairs)

Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation

The Presidency

Abuja FCT – Nigeria

07 July 2013

Dear Sir,

We must say that both Mrs Ayangade and Ms Williams have so far been responsive in their handling of the planning of Diaspora Day 2013. Worthy of special mention is the speed at which inquiries are responded to and the availability to offer explanations for grey areas. As registration and submission of papers close, and as you retire to deliberate on accepted papers for presentation, we deem it pertinent to leave you with the six-point thoughts below:

  1. While NIDO Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe have all received formal invitation to attend the Diaspora Day as stakeholders, our colleagues in NIDO Africa are yet to receive formal invitation. Kindly consider sending an invitation to Dr Lee B Babatunde, email:
  2. It has come to our attention that as a result of recent efforts at streamlining the operations of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) for more efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in relation with the development of a common logo, website, et cetera, certain persons, for whatever reasons, now tend to equate us as a single entity, with other Diaspora groups, e.g. ANNID and CANUK, thereby undermining our global spread and deeper penetration in the Diaspora landscape. It will be an aberration to use such unacceptable basis in determining proportionality in matters requiring allocation. By way of illustration: CANUK has a presence only in the UK where NIDO Europe has two out of its 19 Chapters. Similarly ANNID as a small club of friends in some two Cities of the United States is nothing near in size and penetration to one out of the 18 full-fledged Chapters of NIDO Americas. It has become necessary to highlight this issue in view of the disaffection it is already raising with NIDO members. We have reassured members that we believe in your ability to be fair in matters of this nature nevertheless, we thought it is crucial to flag it off with you for proper note and attention.
  3. We are fully conscious of the fact that not all requests for presentation of projects / papers will be accommodated within the limited space. Considering that we do not as of today have any idea of any objective criteria being employed in your determination of eligibility or otherwise, we can only hope on your sense of fairness and equitable judgment. We must also put on record that as a body, we have taken the decision to avoid role duplication, an idea that Ms Williams has seconded in one of her recent emails. We encourage you to kindly uphold this principle in your deliberations and determination of roles.
  4. May we suggest that a generic letter be developed which can be sent to those whose papers or projects have not been retained. Except we are mistaken, it is the intention of the planning team to inform only those whose papers / projects have been retained. Similarly, we have taken note of your desire to provide more conclusive information about accommodation by mid-week (10 July 2013). We commend this and encourage you to strive hard to achieve this important goal.
  5. We may have mentioned this in the past but we would like to reiterate that any and all Diaspora to be allocated rooms MUST identify themselves with stamped passport and flight tickets proving entry into Nigeria not exceeding one month. This in our view is the only way to prevent abuse of the past years where domestic delegates pretend to be based abroad or Diaspora who have been in the country long before the Diaspora Day on other private businesses. These categories of delegates secure rooms irregularly to the detriment of the actual Diaspora delegates.
  6. We also feel obliged to draw attention to the need for Diaspora Day to be as less political as possible because our members have had reasons to be concerned about this important event being more and more politicized. Over-exposure of the Diaspora Day to politics can be avoided for example through achieving a good balance in the speakers’ slots for political figures, the public sector, corporate Nigeria and the Diaspora.

From what we have seen so far, we are confident that you are equal to the task of sailing this planning process to a safe destination.

NIDO Non-Oil Ad

Downsizing Nigerian Diplomacy

“The downsizing of Nigerian Missions is an inevitable pill that needs to be swallowed under the current economic realities of the country and the dire need to eliminate wastefulness and financial leakages. Along with the downsizing comes the need for retraining and skills upgrade of key Foreign Service staff in service delivery and modern leadership. The concern is whether these operations could be undertaken in such efficient manner that an already ailing system is not compromised to a point of total collapse. The current Onyeama Reform seem humane when balanced against the potential redundancy that would have ensued. The redeployment arrangements makes sense”

Collins NWEKE, Global Affairs Analyst & Former Board Chairman Nigerians in European Diaspora commenting on the planned closure of 10 Nigeria Foreign Missions and staff rationalization

There are strong indications that Federal Government has approved the closure of nine foreign missions and their conversion to non-residency representation or concurrent accreditation. The closure is part of measures to reduce the cost of running Nigeria’s foreign representations in line with the present economic reality.

The affected missions are those whose absence portends no serious bilateral or diplomatic effect.  They include the Permanent Mission to the D-8 in Istanbul, Turkey; the Africa-South America Cooperation Forum (ASACOF) in Caracas, Venezuela; embassies in Belgrade, Serbia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Kiev, Ukraine; Prague, Czech Republic; the High Commission in Singapore as well as Consulates in Buea, Cameroon and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Also approved for rationalization is the number of officers at foreign missions, estacode for local travels and award of honorary consuls. The government also ordered that posting staff of home ministries to foreign missions should be discontinued, while Foreign Service officers should be trained to carry out multiple tasks including administration, immigration, trade, culture and education related functions.

The rationalization exercise will affect all 119 Nigeria’s foreign missions. Apart from 35 missions, the government directed that all other missions should be run by an ambassador and not more than three home-based staff.  The level of local staffing, it said, must be controlled.

A letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama dated June 8, 2016, said the practice of violating staffing ceilings for each mission must be stopped and corrective measures be put in place. Consequently, it said, there should be a review of the staff strength necessary for each mission.

“Rules and regulations as well as entitlements (estacode) for local travels at post should be reviewed downwards and strict compliance enforced. Similarly, cost and usage of communication and utility services should be reviewed and drastically reduced, and the current entitlement of house maids for senior officers other than the heads of mission and deputy chiefs of mission, where applicable should be discontinued,” it added.

The federal government also discovered that the award of honorary consuls was open to abuse by unscrupulous businessmen. The practice, it said, should be reviewed in accordance with international best practices.  “Some of these measures may have the effect of bloating the number of Foreign Service Officers at headquarters. To address this consequence, officers may be deployed to other ministries, departments and agencies to help coordinate their interface with diplomatic missions/international organizations.

“State governments should also be encouraged to receive at least two Foreign Service officers on secondment to assist in providing guidance to their increasing interface with diplomatic missions/international organizations,” the government said.  It said the arrangement would engender greater coordination and coherence within the official positions diplomats receive when they visit ministers or governors who often make statements with foreign policy implications without appropriate briefs from the Foreign Affairs ministry.

“Through these Foreign Service liaison officers, not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but our diplomatic missions abroad, will also be sufficiently briefed on the activities and conversations of diplomats from their host countries serving in Nigeria. “While this is only one solution, the MFA should also carefully examined the consequences of overstaffing at headquarters as a result of the planned rationalization and make other recommendations to address the problem. This may include offering redundant officers redeployment to home ministries or early retirement from service without loss of benefit,” the government said.
An official at the Nigerian Consulate Office in Georgia, Atlanta, USA, according to Daily Trust said some key staff in the various missions had been directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to either do a needs assessment or return home and evaluate various staff strength in the missions ahead of the shake-up. The official said the need for some staff at post was questionable, adding that there are administrative officers that have been on posting even when some of their services are not needed there.

He said some missions are not needed because there is hardly any serious bilateral trade or diplomatic impact of some of those countries, some in Africa and others in Asia, which the official noted may not have been reciprocating Nigeria’s diplomatic gestures.
Meanwhile, a number of former diplomats frowned on the federal government decision, saying shutting of some missions sends a signal to the world that the Nigerian economy is in really bad shape. And that it will harm country’s standing in the international community more than the little money that would be saved from such decision.

Curled from African Ripples under the title Nigeria Closes 10 Missions, Rationalizes Staff by Akin Akingbala

Reflections on Elusive Diaspora Policy for Nigeria

Nigerian Diaspora Day today gives room for somber reflections as I did about this time a year ago through an opinion piece. I stated then “Despite its commendable vision and sparse achievements, the humongous shortcomings of the Diaspora Day are threatening in 2015 to explode in the face of all stakeholders” I concluded the piece with the following “to get the Diaspora Day right, you must first get the Nigerian Diaspora Policy right” Since then, not very much has happened around the Diaspora Policy. However the American idiom “a new Sheriff in town” typically used during periods of power transition could be applied to events surrounding the 2016 Diaspora Day in Nigeria. This adage is deployed particularly when the way things are done are experiencing some changes, or when a new person takes control. In the case of the National Diaspora Day of Nigeria it is a combination of a new operating environment and new persons wrestling back hijacked control from mini cabals of a national policy instrument.

This new Sheriff in town is dogmatic about corruption and has a very low tolerance level for it or anything resembling it. I am not sure how he did it but I understand that people around him are self-conscious to the point that they feel that if he looks you in the eyes, he might just read your mind and know if you are thinking of indulging in corrupt practices. That fear alone is already creating some saints around the corridors of power. That is very good because the culture of impunity and financial recklessness in organizing the Diaspora Day until 2013, the year I led the global Nigerian Diaspora delegation to the event in Nigeria, is deafening. I worry for most of the ‘organizers’ of Diaspora Day between 2005 and 2013 because should the new Sheriff decide to order an audit of what had gone on, some may either go on exile or commit suicide before the arms of the law catch up with them. That is how bad I believe it was. I am neither an investigative journalist nor a criminal investigator, so I might not have the capacity to deliver the evidence I hear you thinking about. However I have been a principal actor in the Diaspora politics since inception. Even at that I continue to have unanswered questions. The most cardinal of the questions are: what is the budget for the Diaspora Day event on annual basis since 2005? What have they being spending on and why has the budget remained a secret till date? Who actually manages the budget? How come there has never been a cost-benefit analysis of the annual event? What is the actual reason for the mushrooming of new proxy ‘Diaspora’ organisations, even based in Nigeria?

In public financial administration these questions are very basic. They should normally fall under the freedom of information principles of any democracy. A few times I have had conversations with Nigerian legislators and administrators in the Civil Service around these basic but pertinent questions, I am laughed off as one of those intellectuals in the Diaspora that has lost touch with Nigeria because, according to them “this is Nigeria, we don’t work like that here” End of story! Signs are emerging that the end of that story appears to come with the end of an era. It was an era of financial wastefulness, of arrogance of power, of imprudence, of treachery and of national disappointments. By design or accident, just as the new Sheriff came into town, other officials who appear to understand their briefs, who care more for national development than their narrow self-interest took positions in different offices related to the Diaspora. Two calls to mind. 

Permanent Secretary (Political) Key among them and I speak now as an outsider having taken the backbench after serving out my term as Board Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe in 2013, is the Permanent Secretary (Political) at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Unlike those before the current Perm Sec, the gentleman understands that it was for good reasons that President Olusegun Obasanjo facilitated the establishment and recognition of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) as the official partner of Government on Diaspora matters. The gentleman understands that it is anti-government to work against the policy of the government that you are supposed to be serving.

House Committee on Diaspora Affairs & Senate Committee on Diaspora The current Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters seems to understand that micro-management of the Diaspora is not cut out for a federal legislator. The focus should be on the big policy picture rather than the mundane palaver of how the Diaspora should be sidelined in an event over which they should have control. A House Committee Chair who realizes that it is not within her priority space to determine which Diaspora gets which prominent speaking slot at the Diaspora Day. She seems to realize that while it makes sense to relate with all Diaspora organisations, due recognition needs to be given to the body recognized by government as official partners on Diaspora matters. The House Committee Chairman would not act in ways that appears that she encourages the set-up of phony ‘Diaspora Groups’ to unfairly compete with the official Diaspora body, thereby neutralizing their influence and playing into apparent divisions or actually playing a role in encouraging discords amongst different Diaspora communities rather than unifying them.

The Diaspora Body A body that appears immune to change both in attitude and strategic approach is the Nigerian Diaspora themselves as embodied by the official body called NIDO. The undemocratic tendencies of some of its leaders are the starting point of its ills. If the way and manner in which you came into office is questionable, you have lost the first major goodwill and recovering credibility and integrity, both ingredients needed to get serious people to believe in you and work with you, may prove difficult if not impossible. The truth of the matter is that lack of credibility and a bit of leadership mediocrity continues to deter popular qualitative participation in the organisation. Next to that, the debate has got to get more serious if NIDO is to move from point A to point B. By way of example, I shall underline two debates that were trending in the run-up to the Diaspora Day but also make the point that on those two occasions, two individual Diaspora provided at different times, two voices of reason. So hope is not entirely lost on condition that they do not shout themselves hoax and give up or that they are singled out by those given to shouting loudest and blackmailed.

In a trending discussion, many had decried the poor planning and execution of the Diaspora Day 2016. Just to give you an idea, like many others, I had personally registered on 10 July for the event within an hour of announcement that the online registration form was active. This was for an ANNUAL event holding just two weeks away. I had also indicated, as requested, that I was keen to make a presentation on a USD63 Million infrastructure investment under a private public partnership arrangement with Delta State government involving a number of foreign investors and because Diaspora equity participation would be a desirable thing for country and the Diaspora themselves, it made all the sense in the world to make a presentation at the Diaspora Day and also arrange a site visit to Delta State with interested Diaspora. Registration was not acknowledged until 21 July, three days before the event. Even at that, there was neither an event programme nor a confirmation that the presentation is programmed to hold. I could therefore not firm up arrangements with the project engineers and representatives of Delta State Government who were positively disposed to hosting a breakaway delegation in Asaba. Meanwhile I was torn between flying to Abuja for the Diaspora Day or staying back in Belgium to receive a powerful trade delegation that included serious-minded agricultural commodity traders and other non-oil magnates. Of course given the lack of demonstrated seriousness by the Diaspora Day folks, my decision was easily made. I was staying back in Belgium!

Meanwhile one condemnation followed the other about how badly organized the Diaspora Day is and how much it would continue unabated as long as the Diaspora are not in charge of the organizing. As long as the Civil Servants drive the Diaspora Day, one of the contributors interjected, we will end up this way! Then came a pointed analysis from a Diaspora, Sam Afolayan. Sam’s analysis categorized the Diaspora in six groups.  He submitted that out of these six categories, two were the most dangerous categories as follows:

  1. “The Owanbe Group: Those who see this event (i.e., the call for Diaspora support) as a jamboree and an opportunity to freeload on government’s program while attending to personal “businesses” at the government’s expense …skipping in and out of the event locations to “let their people know that they are very important to the nation’s development” …while having their feeding & lodging expenses paid by the Nigerian tax-payers. A considerable numbers of folks in this group are wont to pontificate on the irredeemable state of affairs in Nigeria! Great showmanship!”
  1. “everybody in-between: the fence-sitters and free-loaders; the emergency diasporas; the jobless diaspora opportunists who have been on the outside of the mainstream economy in their host countries and see the DD as way to present a false façade of having been in the diaspora; the somewhat dubious Diaspora-based ‘entrepreneurs’whose ‘businesses’ depend on government patronages and see the DD as an opportunity to feather their nests by showcasing their “services”; and the cynics who do not even believe in Nigeria or that the DD forum can lead to the configuring of any credible development architecture that can be used to re-engineer the polity or accomplish any useful purpose, etc., etc…”

Another instance of the sort of debate that tells you that the Diaspora needs to get their acts together but where in the end one single Diaspora provided a sane voice was in regards to the fight against corruption and how the Diaspora taking advantage of the Diaspora Day event, must use their combined forces to banish corruption from Nigeria. Note that the Diaspora Day is an ANNUAL event. Meanwhile in the wisdom of one of the leaders, a capital initiative like fighting corruption can be initiated, planned and executed about a week to the Diaspora Day. A curious mind will inquire where these fine brains have being since the last Diaspora Day, why is the life-changing idea coming just a little over a week to the event; where does the suggested action fit within the operational objectives of the Diaspora Day 2016 that is if there is any? As you shake your head in awe about such disjointed approach, one of the Diaspora joins the conversation and proudly reminds the audience that at the Diaspora Day, right there on the ground, he had proposed a placard-carrying action to show the Diaspora disapproval of massive corruption but that when the appointed time came, he was left standing alone with a lone placard as nobody showed up. What a strategically planned and executed anti-corruption crusade from the Diaspora.  Sure we could do better was what Kenneth Gbandi was saying when, like Sam Afolayan, he came out with a level head to remind the audience that four months earlier the German Chapter  had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). The MoU reads in part, “The Facilitator (Outstanding Nigerians professionals, academicians and business people in Germany as represented by NIDO Germany)  is desirous of contributing its quota to the fight against corruption both at home and in the diaspora by partnering with the Commission. The Commission shall collaborate and partner with the Facilitator in the provision of broadcast materials and assist in the enlightenment and education of the Diaspora about the work of the commission”

The expectation that a clear Diaspora Policy will emerge, in isolation or under the wings of a Diaspora Commission, is becoming more and more an elusive dream. In the interim, as the Diaspora converges in Abuja, my hope is that the fear of the new Sheriff will persist so that the financial recklessness surrounding the Diaspora Day will seize. My other prayer is that the Permanent Secretary (Political) is not moved off his course in maintaining cordial relationship with any and all Diaspora groups while making it clear that NIDO was established in the first instance to put paid to the polarization in the Diaspora community. I understand that the reason the Perm Sec was late in planning and execution is because his Diaspora Day budget was not released on time. Typical, I should say. Keep pushing for a change in that regards but be conscious of the fact that your chances of sustainably sorting that problem out is if you build a formidable coalition to bring about the effective signing into law of the Diaspora Commission. Under the wings of the Commission, the Diaspora Day budget could hang. The leadership of the House Committee on Diaspora should stick with the big picture and continue to reject every temptation to get down to petty Diaspora politics and micro-management. On its part, the Diaspora can use more Sam Afolayans and Kenneth Gbandis, who through their contribution to the debate have shown vision and strategic approach.

Brussels, Belgium 25 July 2016

The author, Collins Nweke served Nigeria’s official Diaspora body first as Executive Secretary / Chief Executive starting from 2004 and later as General Secretary of the Board of Trustees. He finally served as Board Chairman until November 2013. He holds a Doctor of Governance Award (Honoris Causa). A 2014 candidate Member of European Parliament, he writes from Brussels, Belgium where he serves as second-term Municipal Legislator at Ostend City Council.  

Breaking the Burundi Peace and Crisis Circle

Over the past year Burundi and its political crisis is degenerating into a sore on the collective conscience of the world. The relative silence of the international community has drowned the loud silence of the Bujumbura protesters who trouped out of the streets of the capital in their hundreds against the announcement by the ruling CNDD-FDD party that incumbent president Pierre Nkurunziza would be their candidate for their next election. A lot have been happening since 26 April 2015 when 15 year-old Jean Nepomuscene Komezamahoro or Jean-Nepo to his friend, was tragically gunned down at point blank range by a police officer on his way back from church. The current social, economic and political abyss into which Burundi has sunk began on that faithful day, ushering in a period in Burundi history now referred to a Peace and Crisis Circle.

In the one year since the beginning of the current crisis, I have offered analyses and commentaries pointing to the measures required to install lasting peace in that beautiful but troubled nation with violent government repression pretty commonplace. It is estimated by international observers that around 1,500 people have died so far with a further estimated 700 people unaccounted for, perhaps executed. My consistent position has been that though the crisis in Burundi can only be sorted out via a genuine political dialogue, the international community has the obligation to push the Burundian government to return to the negotiations table for open, frank broad-based and credible discussions.

It is elevating to learn that an inter-Burundi Dialogue commenced in Arusha, Tanzania on 12 July 2016. The Dialogue is being attended by a broadly composed stakeholder groups including former Heads of State, the National Commission for Inter-Burundi Dialogue (CNDI), all Political Parties registered in Burundi, Civil Society Organizations, human rights and military observers of the African Union, Faith-based Groups, prominent Political Actors inside and outside Burundi, as well as Women and Youth groups. I was guest of Television Continental (TVC) at the conclusion of the first day of the Dialogue to evaluate the proceedings and to touch on the expectations out of the Dialogue. I have clustered the expectations out of the Dialogue along stakeholder lines including Civil Society Organisations & Opposition Forces, Donor Agencies and International Organisations and Government of Burundi.


After 10 years of steady economic growth, Burundi has experienced, expectedly, a negative growth of 4 percent in 2015. Starting with Belgium, funds for police, judicial, political and infrastructure reforms were withheld or withdrawn from international partners but not cancelled.  International donors are expected to use their seat on the negotiation table to spell out their benchmarks for re-engagement. In parallel to a political dialogue process, the Government of Burundi and international donors are expected to intensify their conversation on the socioeconomic impact of the crisis. It is perhaps reasonable to expect the government of Burundi to underwrite the pre-crisis conditions that will enable resumption of reforms which will in turn improve the socioeconomic situation of the population.


It is expected that the socioeconomic dimension of the current crisis would receive a robust attention. In line with the holistic approach of peacebuilding, the dialogue must serve as a platform to include the socioeconomic dimension into the international debate on Burundi. One can only expect that this dialogue will help to clarify mutual expectations. Government’s vision must be to reset cooperation with international partners. The Burundi Poverty Reduction Strategy is a crucial tool in this regards. The donor agencies and international organisations will seek to mobilize the combined forces of the Civil Society as natural allies to know precisely what they want to see in the strategy paper and use this opportunity to redefine and push through their demands.


Preliminary findings by the National Commission seem to indicate that a key request of the population is to amend the Constitution and to revise the Arusha Agreement particularly as they relate to ethnic quotas, term limits for the President, and dual citizenship. Some national and many international observers are expressing concerns that tensions in Burundi could rise if the current process evolves into a campaign to revise the Arusha Agreement. That notwithstanding, it may not be an unfair expectation for a roadmap to national unity to be achieved whereby the president is allowed to serve out the current term in exchange for an understanding on  the reversal of the Arusha Agreement.


The Collins Nweke interview on TVC News Hour on Inter-Burundi Dialogue is available here

Globalizing from the Left

As the world reels from the Brexit shock, it is dawning on economists and policymakers that they severely underestimated the political fragility of the current form of globalization. The popular revolt that appears to be underway is taking diverse, overlapping forms: reassertion of local and national identities, demand for greater democratic control and accountability, rejection of centrist political parties, and distrust of elites and experts.

This backlash was predictable. Some economists, including me, did warn about the consequences of pushing economic globalization beyond the boundaries of institutions that regulate, stabilize, and legitimize markets. Hyper-globalization in trade and finance, intended to create seamlessly integrated world markets, tore domestic societies apart.

The bigger surprise is the decidedly right-wing tilt the political reaction has taken. In Europe, it is predominantly nationalists and nativist populists that have risen to prominence, with the left advancing only in a few places such as Greece and Spain. In the United States, the right-wing demagogue Donald Trump has managed to displace the Republican establishment, while the leftist Bernie Sanders was unable to overtake the centrist Hillary Clinton.

As an emerging new establishment consensus grudgingly concedes, globalization accentuates class divisions between those who have the skills and resources to take advantage of global markets and those who don’t. Income and class cleavages, in contrast to identity cleavages based on race, ethnicity, or religion, have traditionally strengthened the political left. So why has the left been unable to mount a significant political challenge to globalization?

One answer is that immigration has overshadowed other globalization “shocks.” The perceived threat of mass inflows of migrants and refugees from poor countries with very different cultural traditions aggravates identity cleavages that far-right politicians are exceptionally well placed to exploit. So it is not a surprise that rightist politicians from Trump to Marine Le Pen lace their message of national reassertion with a rich dose of anti-Muslim symbolism.

Latin American democracies provide a telling contrast. These countries experienced globalization mostly as a trade and foreign-investment shock, rather than as an immigration shock. Globalization became synonymous with so-called Washington Consensus policies and financial opening. Immigration from the Middle East or Africa remained limited and had little political salience. So the populist backlash in Latin America – in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and, most disastrously, Venezuela – took a left-wing form.

The story is similar in the main two exceptions to right-wing resurgence in Europe – Greece and Spain. In Greece, the main political fault line has been austerity policies imposed by European institutions and the International Monetary Fund. In Spain, most immigrants until recently came from culturally similar Latin American countries. In both countries, the far right lacked the breeding ground it had elsewhere.

But the experience in Latin America and southern Europe reveals perhaps a greater weakness of the left: the absence of a clear program to refashion capitalism and globalization for the twenty-first century. From Greece’s Syriza to Brazil’s Workers’ Party, the left has failed to come up with ideas that are economically sound and politically popular, beyond ameliorative policies such as income transfers.

Economists and technocrats on the left bear a large part of the blame. Instead of contributing to such a program, they abdicated too easily to market fundamentalism and bought in to its central tenets. Worse still, they led the hyper-globalization movement at crucial junctures.

The enthroning of free capital mobility – especially of the short-term kind – as a policy norm by the European Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the IMF was arguably the most fateful decision for the global economy in recent decades. As Harvard Business School professor Rawi Abdelal has shown, this effort was spearheaded in the late 1980s and early 1990s not by free-market ideologues, but by French technocrats such as Jacques Delors (at the European Commission) and Henri Chavranski (at the OECD), who were closely associated with the Socialist Party in France. Similarly, in the US, it was technocrats associated with the more Keynesian Democratic Party, such as Lawrence Summers, who led the charge for financial deregulation.

France’s Socialist technocrats appear to have concluded from the failed Mitterrand experiment with Keynesianism in the early 1980s that domestic economic management was no longer possible, and that there was no real alternative to financial globalization. The best that could be done was to enact Europe-wide and global rules, instead of allowing powerful countries like Germany or the US to impose their own.

The good news is that the intellectual vacuum on the left is being filled, and there is no longer any reason to believe in the tyranny of “no alternatives.” Politicians on the left have less and less reason not to draw on “respectable” academic firepower in economics.

Consider just a few examples: Anat Admati and Simon Johnson have advocated radical banking reforms; Thomas Piketty and Tony Atkinson have proposed a rich menu of policies to deal with inequality at the national level; Mariana Mazzucato and Ha-Joon Chang have written insightfully on how to deploy the public sector to foster inclusive innovation; Joseph Stiglitz and José Antonio Ocampo have proposed global reforms; Brad DeLongJeffrey Sachs, and Lawrence Summers (the very same!) have argued for long-term public investment in infrastructure and the green economy. There are enough elements here for building a programmatic economic response from the left.

A crucial difference between the right and the left is that the right thrives on deepening divisions in society – “us” versus “them” – while the left, when successful, overcomes these cleavages through reforms that bridge them. Hence the paradox that earlier waves of reforms from the left – Keynesianism, social democracy, the welfare state – both saved capitalism from itself and effectively rendered themselves superfluous. Absent such a response again, the field will be left wide open for populists and far-right groups, who will lead the world – as they always have – to deeper division and more frequent conflict.

This article was first published on 19 July 2016 by Dani Rodrik in Social Europe under the title ‘The Popular Revolt Against Globalization and the Abdication of the Left’  

Youths in Cultural Cross-Roads

(Being text of brief Opening Statement by Councillor Collins NWEKE, Ostend City Council, at a Debate organised by CAW Intercultural Women Centre Antwerp Belgium on Saturday 4 June 2016)


I understood from the debriefing for this debate that I am to give a summary keynote talk on the relationship between youths of African background and their parents here in Belgium. It therefore means, essentially, that the topic of the debate is also about me because before anything else – politician, global affairs analyst, management consultant, whatever – I am an African, an African parent raising two sons, born here and growing up in this society. Once I established that fact, I decided that rather than refreshing my mind on the theory and principles of parenting and strategies of teen-parent conflict resolution, I was going to rely on my personal experience. After all the most rewarding and at the same time most challenging is being a parent. I must say that the personal experience that I refer to has over the past decade being enriched by my encounter with fellow-parents and interactions with young people of African origin, some of whom are present here tonight.


I guess the first important issue in the discussion of tonight is the question of identity. The psychologist, Terri Apter it was, I believe, who once said that the real cause of turbulence, is the teen’s own uncertainty about who he is, alongside his eager need to establish a sense of identity Does being African, growing up here in Europe or born in Africa and raising your kids here in Europe bring with it an extra burden of establishing your identity? Am I African or European? Should I raise my kids as Africans or as Europeans, after all as the saying goes “ when you are in Rome, behave like the Romans” Some would say that you do not need to be either of the two. They hold that what you should strive to be is the best of both cultures. By this they mean that it is up to you to identify good elements of the African culture and marry those with the good elements of the European culture. Easier said than done, I can hear some of you think. Sure, the search for your identity involves self-questioning and self-discovery and self-development across a range of issues, including gender, faith, intellect and relationship.

The early culture conflict

The self-questioning begins during the teenage period and intensifying. The teen questions everything. By coincidence or by design, they question particularly those parts of your culture as African parent that you hold dearest to your heart. Is rebuke the answer? Or should you simply conceal things? Just don’t discuss it? A culture of open communication will help you through those early conflict years. It feels good to want to see African culture as the best in the world but I am sorry to disappoint you. Though one culture may conflict with another culture, no culture is best or worse. One culture can only be different from the other. An African youth growing up in Europe has the right to consider some aspects of his or her parents culture less than pleasant and the African parent has the obligation to explain in clear terms the reasoning behind the culture. And why not, admit it when some aspects of your culture defy logic and require a review. I have had to explain to my two young sons why you can’t call a much older African person by their first names. He is either uncle or she is aunty. I am not sure my explanation was ever convincing to my sons but because I explained why it is the way it is, they simply call these ‘’strangers’ uncle or aunty. Is it ever too early to initiate these discussions? No, I don’t think so. Indeed the earlier the better. I would rather that even before my son has a girl-friend, he already knows that it is unacceptable in my culture for my daughter-in-law to call me by my first name than wait until the ‘crime’ is committed. The key question here is: are we communicating enough, openly and honestly? If we are not, we should and that is why this initiative is simply great.

The Debate

It is in the context of open and honest communication that debates are very important. Debates are positive confrontations. At debates such as the one this evening, we hear opposing views because like a coin, every issue has the other side. More than proving a point that I am right and you are wrong, a debate helps to broaden your mind, enriches your soul and finally helps you to grow. Researches upon research have demonstrated that conflicts are mainly borne out of lack of understanding. There is no doubt therefore that efforts such as this debate contribute to building a more tolerable, harmonious society.

I hope this debate will help you grow in understanding one another, in accepting that no matter the differences in opinion or ideology, we are all members of a common humanity. I wish you a fruitful and fulfilling debate and of course a fantastic After Party.

Thank you


Antwerp, Belgium 4 June 2016

Collins Nweke becomes Ambassador Integration & Diversity

Councillor Collins Nweke (Green) is to be crowned on Saturday, 4 June 2016 with the “Ambassador of Integration & Diversity” Award at an annual gala night in Hasselt, Belgium. Organized by Perspectief vzw, a Hasselt Non-Profit Organisation, the Award will be presented by Hilde Claes, Mayor of Hasselt. Wouter Van Bellingen is also one of the Award laureates. “Of course I was pleasantly surprised and flattered when I received a phone call stating that I was nominated for the Award,” said the Ostend City Councillor. “That my integration narrative was adjudged successful and my longstanding commitment to the success of a harmonious diverse society appreciated is gratifying. There is no end to integration. It is a continuous process. After more than 20 years in Belgium, I’m still working on it” Collins adds, laughing.

Perspectief vzw, organizers of the Ambassadors of Integration & Diversity, is a non-profit, multicultural organization in Hasselt borne out of the mindset of intercultural art collective. The organization campaigns for integration and acceptance of the growing diversity of our world. Jo Schreurs, secretary Perspectief vzw: “We want people who are committed professionals and / or volunteers for successful propagation of a diverse society, to be recognized and duly awarded. Through his activities Collins Nweke has demonstrated clear vision for intercultural relations and peaceful co-existence of people with diverse background. In addition to well-known names in Belgium such as Collins and Wouter (Van Bellingen) there are also lesser-known names among people who whose work in this field were adjudged highly valuable, be it in the workplace or at home and in their private contacts in promoting integration”

Twenty years ago, Collins Nweke of Nigerian origin, was co-founder and went on to become the founding President of “Jakoeboe vzw” the first Ostend Refugee Reception Group for and with its target group. The Municipal Advisory Board for ethnic minority policy (MARO) also benefited from his wealth of experience and knowledge during its formative years when he was elected its first Chairman. Within the Green Group in the Ostend City Council, Collins has the portfolio of diversity. With his appointment as Councillor  for Social Welfare and his direct election as Municipal Legislator in the October 2012 elections, history was made in Ostend and West-Flanders as he became its first elected political office holder of foreign origin and born abroad.


Kristof Cornelis

Chairman Green Party Ostend

Buhari Blessing and Burden of Corruption

Sometime today, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria will arrive in London to join 50 other world leaders at a landmark international anti-corruption summit called by Prime Minister David Cameron.  While on air en route London, he would probably be reading news reports about  the United States (US) government and the European Union (EU) threats to withdraw support for his anti-corruption crusade on account of reluctance or even failure  to reopen the Halliburton bribery scandal. Incidentally he would be sharing Summit and perhaps dinner table with US Secretary of State John Kerry. This will probably constitute private dinner talks between both of them.

Anyone who thought this Halliburton bribery scandal will go away soon without getting to the bottom of it has a big shock waiting. Just to bring you up to speed, the affair dates back to 1994 when the Nigerian government launched an ambitious plans to build the Bonny Island Natural Liquefied Gas Project. The affair had revealed, obviously long before we heard of any Panama Papers, an alleged network of secretive banks and offshore tax havens used to funnel $182 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in exchange for $6 billion in engineering and construction work for an international consortium of companies that included a then Halliburton subsidiary.

Forward to 2016. Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party is this week recovering from the loss of London mayoral race to Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan despite a dirty anti-Muslim campaign is calling the “Anti-Corruption Summit London 2016” for three core reasons. Firstly to bring together world leaders, business, non-state actors and civil society to agree a package of practical steps to expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide. Secondly to punish corruption perpetrators and support those affected by corruption and lastly to drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists. He is said to be giving President Buhari some prominence at the Summit by giving him a speaking slot at the plenary session. Exactly why is not immediately clear. At least not to ordinary mortals like you and I.

We can only surmise that President Buhari’s projected prominence in the London anti-corruption summit is an indication of how highly he is held in the international crusade against corruption. This is as much a blessing as it is a burden. It is a blessing because it places at the feet of Nigeria, some international goodwill that will be priceless resource in the task ahead. It however comes with the burden of high expectation that Mr President will truly stop at nothing, spare no one, no matter how highly placed, in the investigation and prosecution of corruption.

I should come back to the Halliburton affair because I think that it is one of the true tests of the President’s genuine resolve to fight corruption in Nigeria. Our friends and allies in the EU and the US are telling us that there appear to be some foot-dragging by Nigeria, to bring to books, Nigerian individuals already fingered in the investigation carried out in the United States because they are very big wigs. I think that Mr President needs to also do more to prove to critics that his anti-corruption crusade is not selective and that it targets only members of the opposition while some elements within the ranks and file of his ruling APC are said to be equally corrupt with no investigation initiated or arrests made.

The involvement of non-state actors and civil society operatives in the London meeting is a very good idea. Hopefully, unlike government representatives who are supposed to be nice, they can ask more penetrating and why not, even uncomfortable and nasty questions about the true state of global anti-corruption crusade and perhaps compel Western governments to use legal instruments already at their disposal to try, for example former heads of State, implicated in corruption but whose countries are reluctant to put them to trial. Wouldn’t it be fun to hear President Buhari privately ask Secretary John Kerry why he is pressurizing him to take on the big wigs in Nigeria. If the US is so sure of the evidence at its disposal why do they appears unwilling to use its “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” to bring to trial by themselves, the Nigerian big wigs they perceive to be under shield by the Nigerian government? 

I am not sure John Kerry or the US for that matter has ever heard this saying “Naija no dey fear threat” If they have, then there is nothing to worry about the threat to withhold assistance to nigeria because President Buhari is not expected to be shaken by it. That said, it may be fair to assume that given President Buhari’s dogmatic credentials, he is not leaving any stone unturned in fighting corruption. The man means business I would think. But the man also needs time. Should he be given all the the time in the world? No, because the world is impatient to see arrant corruption, those with recklessness and impunity committed to the annals of history.  One low-hanging fruit though is for him to act in ways that show that current members of his ruling APC are also focus of corruption investigations. He needs no more time to do that if he cares whether his corruption fight should be taken seriously.  

My TV Continental interview on the London anti-corruption summit is available here

Sunday Sermon on Workers’ Day

This Sunday 1 May 2016 is special. It doubles as Workers Day. Sadly workers are faced with a gloom outlook that there is not much to celebrate this Worker’s Day Sunday. What is worse is that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has told Workers to brace up for another bad year because the outlook for 2017 may be worse than 2016.
Those who are lucky to be in employment are also facing uncertainty: job security level is low as permanent contracts are scarce. People are now having to work longer because pension ages are increased. Manual labourers are dropping dead on the workfloor because, afraid of calling in sick, workers who should be marching to their doctors’ consultations are hurrying instead to work. Informal arrangements are being made daily by the most vulnerable of workers who accept pay-cuts below minimum wage in other to remain in employment. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are squeezed so tight that those who manage to stay afloat of bankruptcy filling, have joined the league of the new working poor.
Underemployment has become the new norm especially for the migrant workers. Medical Doctors trained in one part of the world, usually in countries with rogue leaders, would have to retrain for up to three years in other countries, usually countries with greedy paternalistic leaders, and still end up as auxiliary nurses. Teachers trained in developing economies are finding it even harder to find jobs as ‘cleaners on contract’ in schools where they are supposed to be teaching in the developed economies.
There is nothing really to write home about Workers whose day it should have been today. I therefore decided to turn my Workers Day  Sunday sermon  to another ugly matter that has being trending in my native Nigeria in recent past: The Fulani Herdsmen. There is something about Nigeria and trending stories that beats imagination. There is no clean press anywhere in the world, I must admit, but Nigeria is a unique case. Except you don’t mind your fingers burnt badly, it is very important to verify every story out of the Nigerian media for reliability. Over the past weeks and worsening by the day, the media have being awash with stories of Fulani Cattle Herdsmen attacking and killing scores of people especially in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria while both State and Federal Governments appear unable or unwilling to confront the mayhem. The previous week, a think-tank of Nigerians in which I am a member, had put together a team under my prodding to verify the facts and come up with a position paper for the Presidency on activities of the Fulani Herdsmen. While that was ongoing, I had to go on air at Television Continental (TVC) to offer my periodic thoughts on the State of World Affairs, this time on Burundi one year after political crisis erupted there.
Hell was nearly let loose amongst a minority of Nigerians who berated me for speaking about Burundi and not about my native Nigeria and indeed, Igboland where Fulani herdsmen were killing my ‘people’ in their hundreds. An isolated number of those who reacted to the TVC interview did so in good conscience and certainly meant well. Others were irrational and surely unfair, hiding perhaps under the latest crisis to subtly play their Igbo secessionist card. In my rather measured reactions, I always opened with a flat condemnation of the killings but refused to divulge that I was working on a reaction but first I needed to get the facts straight. I chose rather to ask whether it was being suggested that I turn down media invitation to offer thoughts on other parts of the world because Nigeria was on fire?
In any case, while trying to get my head around what’s actually happening with the Fulani Herdsmen, more questions than recommended solutions have continued to play up in my head. For a start, some serious mayhem is confirmed to have been unleashed in parts of Igboland by a group alleged to be Fulani herdsmen. How sure can we be that these killers are indeed Fulani herdsman? Of course there are numerous terrorism theories out there but one that played up with added concern is: could it be that Boko Haram has infiltrated Igboland disguised as Fulani herdsmen? How come it took the President more than 24 hours to issue a statement on the matter? What about the State and Federal security apparatus? Why are they not being deployed to curb the menace?
The scaremongers are also having a field day just as the conspiracy theorists are strategizing on the most efficient ways to wipe up sentiments on the back of the latest confusion and despicable killings. Some correlation has been made with 1804 with the emergence of the Fulani in the geographic space now called Nigeria, gaining dominance over the Hausas who hitherto occupied the space. They came not with smiles but with terror. At the time, the Fulani invaders as they were and still are called, showed no interest in negotiation but seized the lands after fierce battles. Some 20 years later, around 1823, the same ethnic group showed up in Ilorin ostensibly to assist the Are-ona-kakanfo, ruler of Ilorin, in revolt against his sovereign, Alafin Aole, the Alafin of Oyo. The ruler’s confidence was said to be gained and a strategic position was gained to facilitate his murder. Since then, till date, Ilorin has been under Fulani rule. A couple of years later, in 1825, Yorubaland was the focus of the Fulani conquerors as history told us. They were not pretentious of their desire to islamize the Yoruba Kingdom and Empire. If the fierce battle of Ibadan did not save the day, Yorubaland as we know it today would perhaps be an annex of the Fulani Empire.
As these historical narratives dance around my head, I can’t help but wonder if these thoughts are helpful or destructive. Is it paranoia or are these handwritings on the wall for the Igbo’s to read and switch on the alert button? One thing is crystal clear in all of these: the case for a united Nigeria is not receiving any boost with these unfolding massacre of the Igbo man, woman and child in their sleep or in broad daylight. Have I given up hope in project Nigeria? Absolutely not but I am hopeless about the current crop of Nigerian leaders. They seem not to have any value for individual Nigerian life. They appear by their actions to be disconnected from the Nigerians that should have been their number one priority in the first place. They place no value on dialogue and are obviously permanently hunted by the prospect of disintegration of the country to the point that, for them, discussing national sovereignty is akin to break-up of Nigeria. The sooner it is realized that a purposeful dialogue is inevitable, the sooner Nigeria is saved from the impending disintegration with bloodshed. I hope I am wrong that the current ravage of the Fulani Herdsmen or whatever name they go by, is strongly indicative of a worsening threat to Nigeria’s unity.

Thoughts on EU-Global Affairs