Lords of Poverty; Graham Hancock.

Introduction by Ross Coggins.

Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I’m off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I’ve had all my shots
I have traveller’s checks and pills for the trots!

The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.

In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.

We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.

We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution –
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.

The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like “epigenetic”
“Micro”, “macro”, and “logarithmetic”

It pleasures us to be esoteric –
It’s so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.

When the talk gets deep and you’re feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
Smugly ask, “Is it really development?”

Or say, “That’s fine in practice, but don’t you see:
It doesn’t work out in theory!”
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.

Development set homes are extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the great and the poor.

Enough of these verses – on with the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.

Money Laundering and Trans-Organized Financial Crimes in Nigeria.

Owalabi Bakre.*

Nigeria loses US$600 million annually to money laundering. Between the mid-1980s and 1999, Nigeria lost US$100billion to money laundering. In the so acclaimed democratic era, between 2001 and 2004, the country lost an estimated US$25billion to money laundering. Nigerians who specialise in international money transfer have also extorted about US$357,142,857 from overseas victims. However, such illegal inflow and outflow of huge amount of money that has contributed to the impoverishment of the Nigerian economy cannot be easily perpetrated, without the cooperation, collaboration or at the very least, connivance of the professionals, particularly accountants.

Yet, the various statutory provisions, companies’ and professional bodies’ Acts locally and internationally, all combined to place the responsibility on the accountants and auditors to detect and report cases of suspected money laundering and other financial crimes to the regulators. This paper… utilizes archival documents to provide the evidence which suggests the role of the accountants in acting as the advisers and vectors of the ruling elites, politicians, public officials and their multinational corporations and other foreign capitalists’ collaborators in siphoning the collective wealth of Nigeria into the individual private bank accounts abroad. The paper further provides the evidence, which suggests that, the successive Nigerian governments, the ‘good governance’, ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’-preaching Western economic powers, and the ‘ethical conduct’ and ‘transparency’- preaching accountancy bodies (local and foreign) have been reluctant to investigate or prosecute the culprits and erring members within their borders or associations in the face of the evidence of these local and trans-organized financial crimes in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the eighth highest exporter of petroleum worldwide, producing 2.4 million barrels of oil per day at an average price of between US$60–US$70 per barrel and generates US$36 billion annually from the oil and gas sector (Kupolokun, 2006)1. Paradoxically, the country ranks number nine on the United Nations’ (UN) poverty list [BBC News, January 20, 2006]. The reasons for such artificial poverty creation in Nigeria are not far-fetched. Through the unpatriotic attitudes of its corrupt rulers, politicians, public officials and their foreign collaborators, Nigeria loses US$600 million to money laundering annually (Elumelu, 2007)2. Between the mid-1980s and 1999, the country lost US$100 billion to money laundering [see Vanguard, October 25, 2005].

The former Nigerian dictator, General Sanni Abacha, utilized the services of a British businessman and generous donor to the British Labour Party, Uri David, and a British lawyer, Jefrey Tesler, to stash away US$4 billion in various banks in London and Switzerland, while he lost US$30 billion to the international fraud syndicate [see The Times, October 15, 1999 and September 5, 2000; Regis, 2005]. In the so called the democratic era, between 2001 and 2004 alone, the country lost an estimated US$25 billion to money laundering [Okauru, 2006]. On the part of the developed world, losses representing credit card fraud, advance fee fraud in the Netherlands and lottery scams in Spain perpetrated by mostly Nigerians who form the majority of West Africans operating in both countries amount to 100 million Euros and 200 million Euros annually (Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, 2007).

The corrupt attitude of the Nigerian rulers, politicians, public officials and individuals have been further enlarged by the more sophisticated corruption (see Halliburton, 2004), cross-border bribery (see French Electronics Giant, SAEM, 2004), Tax evasion, money laundering and illegal capital flight (see cases of Shell, 2002; Chevron, 2004), and other trans-organized financial crimes constantly perpetrated by some of the MNCs and other foreign capitalists operating in Nigeria.[Van der Wiel, 2007]3. The above local and trans-organised financial crimes have been further aided by the fraudulent and syndicated activities of some member countries of the acclaimed Financial Action Task Force (FATF), particularly Britain, France, Germany, USA and Switzerland, in providing safe havens for the looted funds from Nigeria [see Agabi, 2002; Shata, 2003; Olugbogi, 2007; Obasanjo, 2005].

Such financial crimes by the Nigerian rulers, politicians, public officials, individuals and their MNCs, politically-exposed foreign elites’ collaborators are made possible and continue to be sustained by the unethical practices by the professionals, particularly accountants and auditors (local and foreign) (see the case of Osakwe, 2002). Despite the various statutory provisions, the money laundering legislations, companies’ and professional bodies’ Acts4 in place in Nigeria, it is the members of the veteran Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), in particular, who connived with the ruling elites, MNCs and other foreign capitalists in siphoning the collective wealth of Nigeria into the foreign private accounts of the corrupt rulers, politicians, public officials, and their foreign collaborators [Dafinone, 2005; Aloba, 2002].

It is the accountants and auditors (local and foreign) who help in the concealment and conversion of such funds gained from criminal activities in Nigeria by transferring them from the illicit to licit sectors and eventually investing them, thereby legitimizing the illegitimate funds [Nigerian Drug Salvation, 2002]. Paradoxically, the two recognized and self-regulated professional bodies, particularly the ICAN, has, either by design or default, been reluctant to investigate its implicated members or prosecute its erring members it claimed to have investigated.These local and trans-organised financial crimes and the anti-social behaviour of the accountants have contributed to the precipitation of hunger, diseases, the inadequate funding of education and health, and the lack of provision of basic life amenities such as good drinking water and electricity in Nigeria (see Bakre, 2007; Bakre, 2006).

Despite the evidence, the consequent poverty all over Nigeria and the continued reluctance of these MNCs to cooperate with the regulators in Nigeria, little have been done by the authorities in the developed home countries of the MNCs and other foreign capitalist, to curb the corruption and other trans-organised financial crimes atrocities being constantly collaborated or sometimes perpetrated by these MNCs and some other foreign capitalist elite operating in Nigeria [see CNN News, August 11, 2002]. Instead, the Financial Action Task Force, FATF that had threatened Nigeria with economic sanctions, if Nigeria did not put in place a draconian money laundering legislation by December 2002, all its member countries except France, have failed to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption as at June, 2005 (see This Day, June 9, 2005).

However, it is interesting to note that the implications of these foreign entities in criminalizing the Nigerian business culture and subverting the nation’s due process are diametrically opposed to the anti-money laundering conventions globally. These include the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), United States (US) conventions and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which are all meant to criminalize cross-border corruption, trans-organized financial crimes5 and ensure accountability and transparency in the global financial system. These conventions and standards seem to have failed to achieve these purposes in Nigeria.

Unlike developed countries, Nigeria has little or no resources at her disposal to combat these global crimes [Ekaette, 2002]. Consequently, in addition to the hypocritical threat of economic
sanctions on Nigeria, money laundering and other trans-organised financial crimes have become more devastating to the Nigerian economy than to those of developed countries [Ribadu, 2006]. It is therefore highly unlikely if this hypocritical approach can solve this global cankerworm and at the same time succeed in eradicating poverty in Nigeria in accordance to the United Nations’ target goal to eradicate poverty globally by 2015.

Money Laundering and the Professions in Nigeria
The resources at the disposal of the Western economic powers, like the USA, UK, France, and Germany, suggest that compared to Nigeria they are far more capable of shaping international regulatory regimes to suit either the interests or curb the malpractices of MNCs based within their borders but operating in Nigeria. However, Western economic powers seem to have found themselves in the contradictory role of a need to strike a balance between their capitalistic ambition and their moral obligation to see to the maintenance of economic stability and security in Nigeria, a situation that would also benefits the Western economic powers’ economies. As Hoogvelt and Tinker [1978] explain:

In the post-colonial era, the western capitalists naively appeal to the governments of the developing countries for political stability and predictability. It is not realized that it is in the very nature of overseas exploitation to create instability and unpredictability precisely because it is successful in allying itself with the ruling elites in continuing to extract surpluses in the developing countries.Despite these contradictions, Ekaette, [2002] with particular emphasizes on Nigeria, points to the Western economic powers’ responsibility to the developing countries thus: Developed countries have a special responsibility, given the resources at their disposal to investigate and prosecute the companies within their jurisdiction that are conniving with public officers of developing countries to perpetuate corruption and subvert the orderly development of those nations [Emphasis added, The Guardian, October 30, 2002].

However, Arnold and Sikka [2001] explain why the above deemed responsibility of the Western economic powers to the developing world especially may never be actualized: Within powerful nations, politics limits and shapes state actions not only because of the disproportionate influence exercised by corporate lobbies on domestic and international economic policy, but also because the nation-states increasingly compete to secure inward investment and thus smooth the path of capitalist development (Emphasis added).

In this context, combating money laundering in Nigeria may become even more complex for most developed capitalist world apostles of “accountability”, “good governance” and “transparency” in Nigeria. This is because the banks in developed capitalist countries, most of which operate in secrecy, are a part of the capitalist establishments which seek to secure inward investments from Nigeria [see BBC News, October 10, 2002]. These inward investments from Nigeria, in most cases include money from undisclosed identities and sources [see the case of UBS Geneva and Abacha, 1996]9. As Sikka, [2003] observes; “you cannot avoid money laundering if you have bank secrecy”.

Moreover, as the banks in Nigeria are also established with profit interest in mind while the money laundering legislation in both Nigeria and developed countries sometimes positions itself in conflict with this commercial interest of the banks in Nigeria and developed capitalist countries, this suggests that combative engagement may never take place between these corporations, banks, individuals, their respective governments and controlled institutions10 in developed countries and Nigeria.

On the one hand, as the Nigerian authorities cry out about the exploitation by the MNCs and the powerful foreign capitalists in exploiting her economy, the authorities in developed countries condemn such actions by word of mouth alone [see Powell, 2004]. They rarely take any action that will investigate and prosecute the offenders within their borders. On the other hand, the developed economies put their resources together to put pressure on the Nigerian government, to introduce draconian legislations that could investigate and prosecute Nigerians implicated in money laundering and other financial crimes [see Vanguard, November 5, 2002]. The developed world MNCs and individual capitalists take advantage of the capitalist ambition of the erring Nigerian rulers, politicians, public officials and individual capitalists, who are still serving the interests of some colonial and global capitalists, and the weak regulatory system in place in Nigeria to pursue their narrow capitalist interests [Odah, 2002].

The collaborative exploitative actions by the Nigerian elite, MNCs and other foreign capitalists cannot be easily carried out without the culpability or at the very least the connivance of some professionals such as accountants and auditors in Nigeria (see Dafinone, 2005; Iwok, 2006). In this context, the Nigeria auditing rules and standards have placed responsibility on the accountants and auditors to use various regulations, legislations, and auditing standards to report suspected malpractices, fraudulent activities, money laundering and other financial crimes to a public body or regulator (see the ICAN Act, 1965; ANAN Act, 1993). However, the accountants and auditors globally have formed major international businesses and become holders of a major fraction of international capital [Sikka, 2001]. Such capitalistic ambitions of the accountants and auditors in Nigeria for example, have led the Nigerian accountants and auditors to continue to compromise their independence (see the case of Aknitola Williams Deloitte and Afribank Nigeria Plc, 2006). The capitalistic interests of the Nigerian accountants and auditors have been making them to collaborate with company’s management and directors to falsify and deliberately overstate company’s accounts (see the case of Akintola Williams Deloitte and Cadbury Nigeria Plc, 2006).

In fact, the Nigerian accountants and auditors themselves have become ‘vectors’ and ‘agents’ of the corrupt rulers, politicians, public officials, MNCs and other local and foreign elites in siphoning money from Nigeria to developed economies and vice versa [Agabi, 2002].The MNCs in Nigeria with the professional advice of their respective accountants and auditors have been using fictitious spaces in offshore havens to deprive Nigeria of tax revenue which would have enabled populations, often on the edge of subsistence, to develop social infrastructure, education, clean water, sanitation facilities and healthcare locally [see Bakre, 2006]. Nigerian accountants, lawyers and bankers play a key role in facilitating the creative use of the concepts of ‘residence’ ‘domicile’, ‘jurisdiction’ and legal personalities to avoid paying taxes and fulfilling social obligations [see Bakre, 2007]. Accountants in the political directorate and public service of Nigeria have used secrecy provided by offshore places, such as London, Switzerland, Bahamas, Cayman island, to help General Abacha, Governors Alamieyeseigha, Audu, Dariye, Etete, Nyame, Nnamani, Kalu, Turaki etc to launder money looted from the Nigerian public treasury into private bank accounts in the above countries [see The Guardian, July 18, 2007; Tribune, July 20, 2007].

*University of Essex, UK.

**Excerpt from the full article.

Photo credit: The Guardian

Why Africa is poor and what Africans can do about it.

Editor's choice of a must-read book for readers interested in African development.

Analysis by Ifeoluwa Adedeji, Ohio University.

“The main reason why Africa’s people are poor is because their leaders have made this choice.” Mill’s first sentence in the ‘introduction’ of the book succinctly lays out his central message. With a per capita income 50 percent less than that of the next poorest region (South Asia), sub-Saharan Africa’s growth has lagged since independence. Many reasons have been put forward for the region’s slow development – a lack of human and government capacity, poor infrastructure and trade access, the effects of too little (or too much) foreign aid, the legacy of arbitrary colonial boundaries, low productivity or laziness or culture, climate, and geography. Many African leaders blame the rest of the world for African poverty. Yet, as Mills contends, African leaders – not a lack of capital, access to world markets, or technical expertise – are to blame for the continent’s underdevelopment.
Before going ahead to lay out his points, he admits possible limitations in the reception of his work – being a white South African and representing a foundation backed by the private sector. However, he more or less condemns any understanding of his work from these positions, arguing that that is in fact the reason why Africa has not developed: the perfection of the art of externalizing blames.

His experience working in and out of the field and across different geographies is quite impressive. First, he brings a private sector perspective: prosperity is built by business. Second, he has a remarkably wide international experience. He uses relevant examples from across East and South Asia, from Latin America, from the new societies of the former Soviet Bloc and from post-conflict situations such as in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Rwanda and Liberia. Third, he has worked on both sides of the fence. He has hands-on experience of African policy-making and its underlying politics. Finally, and crucially, he faces reality. This is not a book preoccupied by political correctness and a bias to optimism: the debilitating curse of all official analyses of Africa. Chapter by chapter, he examines the African situation, the misdirection of government responses, and challenges the role of external actors.

For Mills, the ‘flat’ world of globalization should have been a leverage for Africa’s ascendancy; this should have been Africa’s time. The paradox is also sharp and jabbing: what should be Africa’s strength and comparative advantages – the youth population, oil wealth, and agricultural potential – are unfortunately weaknesses and the clog in the wheel of progress. Resources have become curses and irresponsibility has become institutionalized by government.

The rhetoric of government analysis of the problem with Africa demonstrates its alienation from the society and suggest the need for help. For some leaders, capacity has broken down and discipline is a distant desirable. When this is viewed with the knowledge that African leaders/intellectuals are no less intelligent or smart than their counterparts in other parts of the world (where sound policies have worked and sheer political will has driven the state in the direction of development), suspicion molds. Then again, lack of (financial) resources. The response of the international community has also been embracing: there is a need to give more and more to Africa.

There is also a withering critique of the latest official fad for “fixing fragile states”. What Mills proposes in its place is an emphasis upon the responsibility of local leadership. Africa’s leaders have not been trapped in stagnation – they have chosen it. They have done this because stagnation has often been to their advantage: the retention of power is easier and the rewards of personal plunder have exceeded those of generalized growth. As Mills argues, the most amazing thing is that Africa’s leaders have been allowed by their citizens to get away with such choices. They have been able to do so, he suggests, by the tradition of “big man” rule and by the lazy ideology of victimhood that has enabled the externalization of responsibility for problems.

Mills believes that the key to development is opening up trade and markets, rather than tightening government control and regulation. He cites Kaunda’s legacy of government intervention: a civil service geared to protectionism and regulation at all costs; a private sector that rewards insiders and discourages independent entrepreneurship; socialism. Pointing out lessons to be learned in Japan’s decline, a decline of investment against savings, and debates toward Keynesian economics that followed the 2008 global economic crisis, he shows that there is no straightforward, clear path, that markets are irrational and indeed can ‘boom and bust’. Nevertheless, they have been much more efficient than government in creating wealth and achieving growth and development.

Mills’ book is essentially a wake-up call to Africans to break free from the neo-Marxist conceptual framework that has protected the plundering state from reform. Profit for business is not intrinsically exploitative; the big state is not the ally of the poor; the global economy is not a threat to be opposed, but a market to be entered. The opportunities created by globalization and technology are immense and within the reach of countries should they align the local environment to be receptive and actively participatory.
Without any doubt, Mills has offered a valid counter-position to the explanation and analyses of African leaders and the evaluations and policy focus of the international community of donors and ‘development experts’.

This position, however, is not new. It is the same view that Claude Ake expressed in his 1996 book ‘Democracy and Development in Africa’: development has not failed, it has just never really been on the agenda, and political conditions are the greatest impediment. Mills’ arrival at this same conclusion more than a decade later shows how deeply important the situation is, and how urgent the call. There is nothing more compelling than to see two people from two different methodological thrusts – induction from experience and analytic and statistical deduction – arrive at similar conclusions.

Mills’ argument for market liberalism is well presented and supported. Governments have done a poor job of stirring the economy toward growth; almost everything has been ‘officialized’. In any way, one does not wish away rain just because floods may occur and properties damaged (even these can be contained). The market succeeds better than the state in rewarding innovation, creativity, and excellence. The state’s proper role should be to ensure institutions that guarantee access and equal play, and eliminate entry barriers.
African leaders are not unaware of the problems of their societies. They are not less educated, to the extent that education is a standard for knowledge and problem-solving. They are not conservative – in fact, they travel far and wide to countries where policies work and benefit immensely from globalization, technology, and trade. It seems they fear that they may be overrun if conditions change, and so maintain the status quo.

On the other hand, Africa’s people are locked into positions more complex than the perception that they allow their government to get away with their self-aggrandizing actions. They oppose the government’s politics, but have no real electoral power. They are skeptical of market liberalism, since that’s the cause of their poverty (or so the government has made them believe). Their situation is similar to the prisoners in Plato’s allegory of the cave. They battle appearances, not reality.

The message to African leaders is clear: Seek not what the international community can do for you, rather focus on what you can do for yourselves. Development will not start from China, Europe, America, or any other place; it begins from home.

*Courtesy of Students for Development Project.

Why do nations invest in international aid? Ask Norway. And China.

Dan Banik and Nikolai Hegertun.

How much are acts of generosity worth in international relations? For affluent countries, foreign aid has helped spread power and influence. Donors give foreign aid in part because it will benefit them. For example, political scientist Carol Lancaster finds that domestic politics and international pressures combine to shape how and why donor governments give aid, and that aid was initially based on “hard-headed, diplomatic realism.”

The Trump administration’s proposal to slash foreign aid by more than one-third (including drastic cuts to global health and humanitarian aid) represents a major shift away from the goal of using aid to attain “smart power,” a strategy that supplements the ability to exercise brute force with efforts to win hearts and minds in far-off places. At the other end of the spectrum is Norway, a small but wealthy country, which has consistently tried to bolster its “soft power” ever since it helped broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine in the 1990s. Between these two extremes is China, which is using foreign aid to acquire greater soft power as it gears up for a more active role in world affairs.

Here’s how we did our research
We recently studied Norwegian and Chinese aid to two countries in sub-Saharan Africa — Malawi and Zambia. Our goal was to inform international policy debates on aid effectiveness, and to learn more about how aid influences national development and reduces poverty. The two countries pursue widely different strategies. While Norway provides substantial funding for budget support and funds civil society organizations, China offers a combination of grants and concessional loans and prioritizes infrastructure development in poor countries.
Adopting a mixed methods approach, we studied local contextual factors with the aim of identifying and examining the links between policy, concrete interventions and their impacts on poverty reduction.

Norway’s approach to international aid
Given its size and lack of military might, Norway has actively tried to promote the virtues of the Nordic model — a peaceful, rule-based, globalized and prosperous world. It has done this through offering a generous amount of aid, consistently giving away more than 1 percent of its Gross National Income. It does so following the 2005 Paris principles, which aim at achieving better impacts by formulating aid policies around five pillars — ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, and mutual accountability.

Such acts of generosity give Norway a seat at the table usually reserved for the bigger players in peace processes or efforts to promote development and reduce poverty around the world. In building this soft power, Norway attracts the attention of the United States and consistently “punches above its weight.” It gains international recognition by demonstrating consistent support for promoting global development, thus enhancing its reputation, along with Sweden, as a humanitarian superpower.

While some right-wing parties in Norway have at times challenged that approach, scholars as well as the country’s own aid agency have highlighted the need to better document the long-term results of these efforts. Other experts argue that unless the country distinguishes better between “feeling good” through acts of generosity and “doing good” through a stronger focus on observation, evaluation and learning, the quality of aid will not improve.
With the size of the aid budget increasing every year, and without a corresponding increase in administrative capacity, generosity is trumping knowledge.

In recent years, Norway has been spending funds earmarked for aid and global public goods within its own borders; in 2015, it used almost one-fifth of the aid budget to cover the costs of settling an unusually large number of refugees and migrants. The conservative-led ruling coalition is also trying to integrate aid more closely with Norway’s national interests, and encouraging its businesses to be more involved in developing countries. Some parties in opposition like the Christian Democrats argue that the goal of aid should be to alleviate suffering, and that altruism cannot be replaced by commercial interests. Similarly, civil society organizations argue that aid should not include a profit-making incentive.

As it struggles to better integrate foreign aid and national interests, Norway has been falling in the Center for Global Development’s rankings of countries committed to development — one of the most cited indexes among aid advocates and civil society organizations. Such results directly undermine its carefully cultivated image of being a humanitarian superpower.

China’s approach to international aid
By contrast, China does not abide by the Paris principles. Rather, little distinction is made between grants and loans, and it does not offer detailed information about aid disbursements at country level. It expects poor countries to offer access to such natural resources as oil, minerals, and agricultural products, which China needs for its own development.
The strategy is to make recipient governments believe they can shape their own development strategies without outside interference. In doing so, China aims at expanding its global influence by emphasizing the benefits of what it calls South-South collaboration.

In studying the impact of aid and investments in agriculture and infrastructure, we find that China’s approach is characterized not by generosity, but pragmatism. It does not believe in offering aid conditioned on improving local governance or combating corruption. Unlike Western donors, China controls the implementation process by bypassing the public administration of recipient countries, and awards contracts to Chinese companies.

Such contracts benefit Chinese companies keen on expanding their businesses to newer markets. But as China does not have an aid agency, and local embassy staff are already overstretched, we find it is increasingly relying on these companies to provide background information and feasibility studies that help embassy officials better justify the need for specific aid projects for decision-makers in Beijing.

Despite accusations of “rogue aid” and the pursuit of neocolonialist ambitions, Africans generally look favorably on Chinese interventions. Many politicians and administrators believe they now have greater freedom to shape their own destinies by getting different donors to offer different types of assistance. Thus we find that while African governments welcome western aid directed at improving education, health and gender equality, they also desire more visible forms of development that result from Chinese expertise: roads and buildings.
What can we learn from these approaches?

Although altruism may increase a country’s soft power, global development requires much more than generosity. As aid recipient countries become more assertive, and as the national interests of donors become even more closely tied with aid, we see a possible synthesis between the Western and Chinese intervention strategies in Africa. In recent years, Western donors have been interested in monitoring and evaluating the impact of their aid. However, measuring impact has often been a challenge as different donors pursue different goals and approaches, and may at times even compete for influence. The impact of Chinese aid is particularly difficult to measure in the absence of credible and readily available information.

Dan Banik is professor of political science and research director at the Center for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. Find him on Twitter @danbanik.
Nikolai Hegertun is a PhD candidate in political science and research fellow at the Center for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. Find him on Twitter @nikolaihe.

*First published in The Washington Post.

**Image: A Komatsu light armored vehicle with Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group markings. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain/@Abasaa

Africa Near the Bottom of World Bank's New Human Capital Index

Ambassador John Campbell*

The World Bank has recently released its Human Capital Index, part of the Human Capital Project. The index seeks to measure how much economic productivity per capita is being lost because of underinvestment in human capital. For example, the index estimates that in Nigeria, a statistically average child has an earning potential of only 34 percent of what it could be if the country were fully invested in human capital, which it defines as “the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives.” The index therefore takes into account child survival, school enrollment, quality of learning, healthy growth, and adult survival.

It is no surprise that the bottom of the list is mostly made up of poor African states. What may be surprising to American readers is that the top-four on the list are in Asia: Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, respectively. The small European states of Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, as well as Canada and Australia, make up the rest of the top ten. The United States ranks twenty-fourth, above Macao but below Israel, and below its Western European NATO and OECD partners. In Singapore, a statistically average child will earn 88 percent of what he or she could if the country fully invested in its human capital; in the United States, it is 76 percent; in the Russian Federation it is 73 percent.

The stated purpose of the index is to spur governments, especially poor ones, to invest in human capital. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said, “For the poorest people, human capital is often the only capital they have.” It is a “key driver of sustainable, inclusive economic growth, but investing in health and education has not gotten the attention it deserves.” The index is yet another measure of under development. It is also a rhetorical device intended to call attention to the measurable costs of low investment in health and education and to spur governments to do more. Governments of those countries near the bottom will not like the index, and already there are questions and criticism about its methodology and rejections of its findings. Yet, unappetizing though it is, it is intuitively obvious that the statistically average child born in Singapore will have better chances in life than his fellows born in Nigeria or the United States.

**Courtesy of Council on Foreign Relations. Ambassador John Campbell is Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow at Cfr.

Former Director General of Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency Arrested

John Campbell.*
On February 7, the Federal High Court in Lagos issued a warrant for the arrest of Ayodele Oke, former director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and his wife Folasade following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Just before they were due to appear in court, they apparently left the country for "medical treatment," and the Nigeria media is not reporting where they are now. The EFCC has declared the couple wanted after their failure to respond to a court summons.

They are charged with the theft and laundering of staggering amounts of public money. One of the EFCC charges relates to roughly $43 million, £28 thousand, and ₦23 million—all in cash—that the EFCC found in their apartment in Lagos in 2017 following a raid. Another charge relates to $160 million that the couple allegedly diverted from the Nigerian federal government for their own use.

In 2017, Oke was suspended as director general of the NIA. Vice president Yemi Osinbaijo headed a committee that investigated the incident and recommended to President Buhari that the director general be removed.
Oke is a member of Nigeria’s political class. He studied at Emory University in Atlanta, became a career diplomat, and served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Secretariat of the Commonwealth of Nations in London. He was appointed director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by then-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013. The Nigerian NIA is roughly analogous to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.

President Buhari has made the fight against corruption his signature policy, though critics have accused him of using it as a tool to go after his political enemies. Some media have said that Oke was “close to” Buhari and viewed how the case was handled as important to the president’s anti-corruption bona fides. However, at least in the media, there is little or no evidence of any such close relationship. At the very least, this episode is illustrative of the magnitude of corruption in parts of the upper reaches of Nigerian government.

*Ambassador John Campbell is former US Ambassadors Nigeria, and now a senior Fellow of African Affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations,Washington, DC.

**Courtesy of CFR

To What Extent Does Economic Dependence Inform the Anachronistic Practice of Female Genital Circumcision in Africa?

John O. Ifediora.


Female genital circumcision is a procedure that requires the excision of some tissues that form the female genitalia. It is an old tradition that exists predominantly in Africa, and has, of late, become a very contentious and controversial issue in the international community. There are various grounds for this controversy, one of which is the contention by rights advocates that female circumcision is gratuitous violence against women in the form genital mutilation, and should be abolished. Cultural relativists counter that female circumcision is a traditional ritual that defines cultural identity, and hence outside the competence of international bodies with Western liberal sensibilities. This work examines female genital circumcision as practiced in Africa, and its legitimacy within the context of modern human rights regime. My method of inquiry consists of a thematic analysis of this practice as it touches on United Nations’ conventions, and an ethnographic approach that seeks meaning through interpretation of cultural observances.

My thesis adopts the position that female genital circumcision is a dangerous practice that violates accepted precepts of international human rights. But since no single factor can fully explain its practice and prevalence, a successful challenge would necessarily be multifaceted, and at the same time mindful that any effort to enforce internationally recognized rights may come in conflict with other equally important rights, such as those of religion and cultural minorities. Thus, national governments have a duty to carefully balance other sets of important rights against the need to protect fundamental human rights of girls and women.


Ms. Kasinga hails from a northern village of Togo comprised of the Tchamba-Kunsuntu tribe. Young women of this tribe are, as part of the tribe’s traditional observances, circumcised by the time they are fifteen to prepare them for marriage. Kasinga’s father, an influential man in the village, protected her from this practice until his death in 1992. His sister (Ms. Kasinga’s aunt), by tradition, assumed full responsibility for the welfare of his children upon his death, and subsequently forced Ms. Kasinga’s mother out of the family home. The aunt then arranged a polygamous marriage to a man, and together they brought pressure on Ms. Kasinga, then 19 years old, to get circumcised. Ms. Kasinga fled to the US, and promptly petitioned the US government for asylum under the United States refugee Act of 1980.

For Kasinga’s petition to be successful, she must be able to prove two things: (1) that female genital circumcision is indeed a form of physical mutilation that falls under the category of “persecution” which the Refugee Act defined as “the infliction of pain or suffering by a government, or person a government is unwilling or unable to control, to overcome a characteristic of the victim,2” and (2) that the persecution she feared was directed towards an identifiable group to which she belonged. By narrowly tailoring the elements of the Refugee’s Act to the particulars of her case, Kasinga was able to convince the Board of Immigration Appeals in 1996 that she belonged to a social group of young women of the Tchemba-Kunsuntu Tribe who have not had genital circumcision, and who are opposed to the practice3. The Board, relying on the ‘test for a social group’ established in an earlier case (the Acosta case) held that gender and tribal affiliation are immutable characteristics, and that an intact genitalia is a characteristic so fundamental to the individual identity of a woman that she must not be obligated to alter it4. This ruling was a powerful precedent, and continues to guide immigration judges in cases based on Female Genital Mutilation.

The Kasinga decision ignited a heated debate in academia, amongst human rights activists, and international agencies such as The World health organization (WHO)5. Human rights advocates argued that fundamental human rights are universal, and thus transcend all local cultures in conflict with basic rights6. Cultural relativists weighed-in, and argued that defining female circumcision as persecution amounts to a challenge to the cultural autonomy of groups in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula that engage in such practices7. The World Health organization called the practice a ritualized violence that violates universally recognized human rights standards8.


The chief concern of my thesis is female genital circumcision as practiced in Africa, and its legitimacy within the context of modern human rights regime. The approach I adopt in this inquiry would include a thematic analysis of this practice as it touches on United Nations’ Conventions; and an ethnographic inquiry that approximates what Clifford Geertz9 has labeled as ‘thick’ description, a method of study that seeks meaning through interpretation of cultural observances. This would necessarily include a narrative of my experiences as a young man growing up in Nigeria where the practice of female circumcision is prevalent, and the field work of Janice Boddy in Sudan.

At the heart of this inquiry is the tension between human rights advocates on the one hand, who strongly adhere to the view that human rights are universal and may not be attenuated to accommodate cultural peculiarities, and on the other, cultural relativists with their argument that the imposition of a universal standard of rights marginalizes the cultures of indigenous groups. Embedded in this tension is a group of issues, one of which is female genital excision or what is now commonly referred to by abolitionists as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). My thesis posits that female circumcision is an unnecessary and dangerous mutilation of the body that violates accepted precepts of international human rights.

The next sections of this work would discuss its practice and prevalence, the dangers associated with its practice, and those most likely to engage it. These would be followed by an analysis of how female circumcision violates the norms of modern human rights regime; and a brief discussion of universal human rights and cultural relativism. The last section concludes with recommendations on how to curb its practice.

Practice And Prevalence

The practice of female circumcision is an old tradition in at least 28 countries in Africa and Asia; and generally performed, presumably, to prepare young girls for womanhood and marriage. Lately, however, this practice has surfaced in immigrant communities in North America and Europe11. Before the advent of Western medicine, all circumcisions were performed without the benefit of effective anesthetic, and under septic conditions; in countries where it is still prevalent, this is still the case, and often performed by lay practitioners without any medical background. The rationale for the practice is all too familiar – it conduces to good hygiene, promotes fertility, and discourages promiscuity. Generally, girls are subjected to this experience between the ages of five months to ten years. However, as more of the general population gained access to formal education, the practice in the mid 1960s became almost nonexistent amongst the middle class.

By the 1970s, female genital circumcision was confined exclusively to villagers and peasants. While practices vary widely, there are three basic forms of genital circumcision. One is essentially a clitoridectomy, where part or all of the clitoris is amputated, the second is an excision that involves the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; the third is the most severe, and is what is commonly referred to as infibulation. This requires the excision of the clitoris and the labia minora, the labia majora is cut and then stitched by the edges, the legs are then tied together until the wounds heal. When the wounds heal, scar tissues join the labia and cover most of the virginal opening, barely enough to allow the flow of urine and menstrual blood. In this regard, Janice Boddy gives an account of her experience in the Suadanese village of ‘Hofriyat’:

Though conventionally termed “circumcision,” the procedure is not physically equivalent to the like-named operation performed on boys. In Hofriyat, male circumcision entails removal of the penile prepuce, as generally done throughout the Middle East and, indeed, the West. Pharoanic circumcision, however, is more extreme, involving excision of most external genitalia followed by infibulation: intentional occlusion of the vulva and obliteration of the vaginal meatus. It results in the formation of thick, resistant scar tissue, a formidable obstruction to penetration. A less severe operation, structurally similar to that performed on boys, is currently gaining ground in Khartoum…. This is referred to as masari or sunna circumcision and consists in removing only the prepuce or hood of the clitoris…. While realizing that it is less harzadous to health than pharaonic circumcision, they continue to oppose it on aesthetic and hygienic grounds and in this lies a clue to its deeper significance. Several women I questioned in 1984 made their feelings graphically clear: each depicted sunna circumcision by opening her mouth, and pharaonic, by clamping her lips together. “which is better,” they asked, “an ugly opening or a dignified closure?” Women avoid being photographed laughing or smiling for precisely this reason: orifices of the human body, and particularly those of women, are considered most appropriate when closed or, failing that, minimized.12

For those who survive the ordeal, the pain from damaged nerve endings never goes away, and remain susceptible to urinary tract infections13. For those who continue to reinfibulate after each birth, the opening gets smaller, thus raising the likelihood of menstrual blockage and obstruction of the urethra which in turn may lead to reproductive tract infections and compromised fertility14. Janice Boddy again gives an account of what circumcised Sudanese women in ‘Hofriyat’ must endure:

A young girl both dreads and eagerly anticipates her wedding day: she welcomes the elevation in status while fearing what it implies, having to endure sexual relations with her husband. Informants told me that for women circumcised in the radical manner, it may take as long as two years of continuous effort before penetration can occur….. Because they find it so painful, many of the women I spoke to said they avoid sex whenever possible, encouraging their husbands only when they wish to become pregnant ….. Sexual relations do not necessarily become easier for the couple over time. When a woman gives birth the midwife must be present not only to cut through the scar tissue and release the child, but also to reinfibulate her once the child is born.15

But in spite of the inherent risks, practitioners look at the practice as an integral part of their culture and ethnicity. But what is culture, and how does one begin to understand symbolic representations and behavior of a people? Geertz asserts that “culture is context16,” and propounds that in order to understand it, one must see things from the point of view of the natives – “our formulations of people’s symbol system must be actor-oriented17,” but acknowledges that our interpretations are of themselves interpretations of the native’s.

Rationale for female Circumcision And Unresolved Tensions

Anthropological and ethnographic studies of female circumcision have all pointed to an array of reasons commonly adduced by practitioners in twenty-eight African countries18, they include: compliance with religious precepts, protection and preservation of ethnic and group identity, promotion of good health through cleanliness, protection of family honor by preventing sexual promiscuity, and preparation for womanhood and marriage. In communities where religious grounds are the main motivation for female circumcision, Islam is the predominant religion, even though there is no direct mandate for it in the Koran19. While the Koran recommends chastity for women as a worthy moral value, it does not explicitly instruct believers that circumcision is the means to achieve this objective20. Some researchers have made note of the fact that in Saudi Arabia, presumably the center of Islam, female circumcision is not prescribed; indeed some have traced the earliest known evidence of female circumcision to Egypt in a period that predates Islam, thus supporting the notion that the practice has Pharaonic rather than Islamic beginnings21.

For many practitioners in Nigeria and Togo, the need to protect ethnic identity, and the foreclosure of sexual promiscuity resonate in the majority of communities where the practice is prevalent. For, in these communities social status, privileges, and respectability are often established by rituals such as circumcision, and with heightened social standing females become more attractive and eligible for marriage. But there is also the issue of abiding by, and sustaining local custom and tradition; as one Somali woman puts it ‘if you stop a tradition, it’s similar to making God mad22.’ Thus, in many instances strict observance of customary practices are held above all other human endeavors, and come to define daily existence.

One of the more contentious and enduring aspect of female circumcision is the claim that Westerners approach the issue from an ethnocentric, and colonial interpretation23. Thus, communities where the practice is prevalent take offense from the implication that change can only come from Western intervention. Feminists engaged in this struggle also face a very serious dilemma, and that is how to forcefully argue against a practice that is principally conducted by women, and known injuries are inflicted by women on other women. Given the cultural dimension of female circumcision, any argument against its practice tends to invoke the overtone of cultural elitism, and disregard for others’ culture. Ellen Gruenbaum addresses these issues in her study of female circumcision in Sudan by using what she termed a ‘contested culture approach’ that highlights a culture’s internal contradictions by encouraging debates amongst different classes, gender, and social divisions24.

Gruenbaum disputes the commonly held view that female circumcision is practiced to control a woman’s sexuality, and contends that the sexuality of Sudanese women that have undergone circumcision is ‘neither destroyed nor unaffected’ and that circumcision does not totally eliminate sexual satisfaction of circumcised women25. As to the possibility of enduring psychological scarring, she found that adult women in Sudan “could recall their circumcision vividly, but most did not dwell on the pain or fear except to laugh about it.”26 While several factors may help explain the prevalence of female circumcision in Africa, Gruenbaum found that in some instances it serves as an ethnic or social mark, and the more severe the procedure is the higher the social status of the recipient27. She also asserts that the most often cited reason for circumcision is marriageability28; for marriage remains a significant means of achieving desired social standing in the absence of other more modern symbols of achievement such as education and employment.

Another significant aspect of this debate is the right of parents to raise their children in accordance to received customs and traditions. A parent who subscribes to the practice of female circumcision, perhaps in deference to local custom, may strongly believe that the welfare of the child would be abridged if left uncircumcised, and thus harbor a sense of guilt for not exercising her parental responsibility. For she sees the practice as a social and cultural right that inures to the child; the idea that the practice may be seen by outsiders as child abuse is far removed from the calculus since the procedure is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. Children, however, are generally adjudged incapable of making informed decisions in matters that touch their welfare; given this presumption of ‘diminished capacity’ a child cannot be said to have exercised her free will when she undergoes the surgical operation of circumcision. It is on this basis that rights advocates see circumcision as violence against children, and an abuse of guaranteed human rights. And herein lies the conflict between the right of parents to raise their children in conformance to customary observances, and the right of the child to be free from potentially harmful practices.

With regard to adult female circumcision, it is not altogether clear that consent was given ‘freely.’ Social conditioning, peer pressure, and the prospect of life without a husband are strong influences on the adult female in regard to the issue of circumcision. As in the case with the child, the adult female has no real choice in the matter; thus with full knowledge of the health risks and pain that accompany the procedure, and equally cognizant of the social and economic consequences of not being circumcised, she is faced with no better alternatives. Since no single factor can fully explain the practice and prevalence of female circumcision, successful challenges to its practice would necessarily be multifaceted, and mindful that any effort to enforce internationally recognized human rights may come in conflict with other equally important rights, such as those of religion and cultural minorities.

Human Rights Implications of Female Genital Circumcision

The rationale given by practitioners in Nigeria, Sudan and elsewhere for female circumcision are almost identical. As earlier suggested, the idea that circumcision conduces to purity, fertility, or chastity is a common ground invariably adduced by the natives. If the procedure did not come with unimaginable pain that boarders on inhumane treatment, the practice may have remained unnoticed by human rights advocates both in Africa, and in other parts of the world. If the associated health risks, when compared to assumed benefits, were marginal the practice may also remain under the radar of international women’s organizations. But this is not the case; from my personal inquiries of my relatives and my wife, there is strong indication that the presumed benefits, with the exception of chastity, are imaginary; the practice cannot be shown to have increased the fertility of women because uncircumcised women are found to be just as fertile. The best that can be said about purity and fertility is that they mask the real reason for the practice: in patrimonial societies where men have perennially subjugated the rights of women, this was just another means by which control is exerted. Men simply want their women to remain ‘pure’ by making leisure sexual activities very painful for women; this is especially true for the most severe form of circumcision – infibulation. And to guarantee chastity long after marriage, the women are reinfibulated after each birth. Here again is Boddy’s interpretation of her informants’ rationale for the practice in Sudan:

There exists a broad range of explanations for infibulation which together form a complex rationale that operates to sustain and justify the practice. Among them, however, those which refer to the preservation of chastity and curbing of women’s sexual desire seem more persuasive, given that in Sudan, as in elsewhere in the Muslim world, the dignity and honor of a family are vested in the conduct of its womenfolk…. Hence the need for circumcision to curb and socialize their sexual desires, lest a woman should, even unwittingly, bring irreparable shame to her family through misbehavior.29

When subjected to the principal doctrines of modern human rights regimes, female genital circumcision looks suspiciously brutish, hence the new designation by human rights advocates--- Female Genital Mutilation or FGM for short30. Beginning with the 1948 articulation of rights declared in the United Nations’ Universal declaration of Human Rights31, feminists and rights advocates have relentlessly sought the elimination of female circumcision32. As early as the 1950s, African medical practitioners and activists have brought to the attention of international bodies such WHO and the UN the health risks of female circumcision33. It was not, however, until 1979 that a formal policy statement on this issue was made in an international seminar held in Khartoum34. The seminar focused exclusively on traditional practices that affect the health of women and children, and at its conclusion issued recommendations to governments that require the elimination of female circumcision.

In 1984, the African Women’s organization met in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss female circumcision35. The outcome was the formation of the Inter African Committee Against Harmful Practices (IAC); the goal was to forcefully bring to the attention of African Governments the harmful effects of female circumcision36. These initiatives led to the adoption by the UN of such treaties as the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child37. Article No. 19 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child provides that all state parties:

….shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child against every form of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.38

Article No. 24(3) of the same convention issues this directive: “State Parties shall take all appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.39” To many human rights advocates, the reference to ‘traditional practices’ in Article 24(3) is interpreted to refer principally to FGM40. Finally, the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child adopted strong language that addressed the practice of female genital circumcision41. In Article 21(1) of its Charter it states:

State Parties to the present charter shall take all appropriate measures to abolish customs and practices harmful to the welfare, normal growth and development of the child and in particular; a) those customs and practices prejudicial to the health or life of the child, and B) those customs and practices discriminatory to the child on the grounds of sex and other status.42

But it was not until 1994, in the International Conference on Population and development held in Cairo that a formal body explicitly used the term ‘female circumcision’ in its policy pronouncements; and declared it a “violation of basic rights,” and requested of all governments to ‘prohibit and urgently stop the practice wherever it exists43.’ In 1995, The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing declared the practice a violation of women’s rights, and a serious threat to their reproductive health44.

A Brief Discussion of Universal Human Rights And Cultural Relativism

Modern human rights activism, while remarkably successful in many areas of relevance, is needlessly burdened by the presumed absence of a coherent and sustainable theoretical foundation on which to erect the principles of rights that would have both universal appeal and acceptance45. In substance, detractors and well-meaning proponents propound that the notion of universal human rights is flawed for two principal reasons: (1) it is based on Western democratic ideals of individual rights and freedom, and thus inappropriately hegemonic, and disrespectful of other cultures; (2) the primary ground on which rights advocates have based their demands – human dignity, is not justifiable except on religious basis46. The former, forcefully advanced by cultural relativists, is more serious and remains attractive to significant audiences in both developed and third-world nations.

The thesis here espoused is that female genital circumcision as practiced in many African countries is a violation of rights when examined within the context of modern human rights regime. This thesis is anchored on the notion that certain human rights are primary and fundamental, and may not be derogated from regardless of the kind of society or culture in which they first gained prominence. Furthermore, once such rights have attained near universal acceptance, either in law or practice, no ontological justification is needed for their being. However, some human rights as currently formulated, and because of their ‘secondary’ nature must be allowed considerable time to become malleable to domestic practices, and even then, may never enjoy universal acceptance in a specific form.

Human Rights and Cultural Relativism

Striped to its bare essentials, the primary objective of human rights is to confer on individuals a certain degree of dignity that enables free exercise of will, to engage in meaningful and sustaining relationships, to be free from harm, and to enjoy the freedom to pursue objectives that will enhance personal welfare without subjection to the indignity of physical and spiritual domination. This ‘certain degree of dignity’ properly stems from a sense of morality47. Put succinctly, human rights are ‘the equal and inalienable rights, in the strong sense of entitlements that ground particularly powerful claims against the state, that each person has simply as a human being.48’But these ideals are decidedly liberal and Western in origin, and owe significant intellectual debt to the seminal and revolutionary ideas contained in such documents as the American Declaration of independence of 1776, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789. Collectively, these documents formed ‘the cornerstone of the political thinking of the nineteenth and twentieth century liberalism and progressivism.49’ Indeed, modern human rights regime may be rightfully categorized as an attempt to universalize the political and socio-economic liberal versions of rights. A glimpse of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides ample evidence for this claim. In parts of its preambles, it state:

Whereas the people of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom….. proclaims [T]his Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations50.

Undoubtedly, some human rights require relevant legal and social institutions to be meaningful and effective. Thus, countries previously within the sphere of influence of the erstwhile Soviet Union may find the argument for human rights vacuous since they lacked the requisite background and instrumentalities necessary for modern human rights regimes. But this is not to say that because these countries are wanting in the essential social institutions, they are therefore undeserving of the benefits of human rights. To the contrary, it is in these countries, more than anywhere else (except for the totalitarian regimes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America) that human rights law can produce significant immediate benefits, and create long-term conditions for social and economic growth. Fernando Teson makes this point quite eloquently when he propounds that “it is perfectly legitimate for a Westerner to advocate universal human rights and to discuss the possibilities for their protection worldwide. Human rights are about protection of people’s lives, safety, and individual freedom. They are a supreme universal value in the sense that most people, deprived of these protections, want to have them regardless of the culture in which they live.51” The point to be emphasized is that certain human rights are primary and fundamental, thus regardless of where their articulation hails from, their value remains universal and independent of cultural observances. The source of these rights, says Donnelly, “is man’s moral nature … Human rights are needed not for life but for a life of dignity, that is, for a life worthy of a human being. Human rights arise from the inherent dignity of the human person.52

This justification for human rights seems sensible, at least to one with liberal sensibilities; but rights advocates around the world continue to face daunting challenges that question the theoretical justification for universal human rights. These challenges come in the form of group rights, national sovereignty, cultural, and religious autonomy. This variety of claims underscores the philosophical doctrine of cultural relativism53; a doctrine that informs the strongly held conviction amongst its apologists that foreign actors should never interfere with purely domestic matters. This, of course, is based on the well- established norm of state sovereignty, and the philosophical supposition that only the ‘natives’ can solve problems pertinent to a culture. Thus, cultural relativism, in its complete sense, is often used to support the position that a particular articulation of human rights, even those of the most basic of rights, may be incompatible with cultural observances of other societies, and hence unacceptable54.

Cultural relativists are quick to point out that the notion of rights are universal; however, its articulation and practice vary and rightfully so amongst different cultures55. Every society, they assert, has a different idea of what constitutes ideal human rights, and that such ideal does not have to be consistent with those held in western democracies, and espoused by the United Nations. This position is succinctly and forcefully stated in a recent critique of human rights in Africa: “For countries that have not known peace, stability, or progress since their contact with the forces of Western imperialism, civil and political rights have no meaning.56. And herein lies the essence of the current debate; on the one hand rights advocates assert that human rights should be universal, and that all cultures are ultimately malleable to the liberal interpretation of rights; on the other hand cultural relativists insist that universalizing the concept of rights as articulated by rights advocates will be tantamount to a western hegemony, and a delegitimization of other cultures.57 They argue that different societies should be allowed to define and promulgate rights to the extent that their cultures permit. Both sides make compelling arguments, but they confuse the issues; primarily because they fail to identify the source of human rights.58

A Confusion of Natural Law and Positive Law

In human rights discuss, two kinds of law have always been invoked to lend credence to the various propositions adduced by the principals: positive law and natural law. Positive law, in its popular apprehension, is the sort that different jurisdictions enact to govern conduct, and enforced by the police and the judiciary. But these laws are relevant only to the affairs of citizens within a particular jurisdiction, and are such not human rights. Thus, as a citizen of the US I can point to the Bill of Rights as the basis for my claims or rights; but those who live in Columbia or Nigeria where there are no such enforceable constitutional guarantees to protect them will have no use for rights based on positive laws that do not transcend jurisdictional boundaries. A different sort of law is therefore needed to overcome this difficulty.

Natural law, in a special apprehension, provides a set of general moral standard on which claims, immunities, and liberties may be based without the constraints of jurisdictional limitations. These moral standard must necessarily be universal and independent of culture, religion, and nationality. Thus, it must be the case that a particular version of natural law must inform the claim of universal human rights. For if humans have rights by virtue of their humanity, it must be the case that there exists a general moral standard that is universally accepted, the particularities of its manifestations or understanding notwithstanding. This is what gives natural law its special advantage over positive law as a source of human rights.


In 1998 the World Health Organization estimated that about two million girls and women are circumcised every year.59 A study by the Kenyan government reports that over 80% of circumcised women experienced at least one serious medical complication from the procedure.60 In other notable studies conducted in other countries, researchers found that between 15% and 30 % of all girls circumcised die from infections and bleeding.61 The primary objective of human rights is to confer on individuals a certain degree of dignity that enable free exercise of will, to engage in meaningful and sustaining relationships, free from harm, and the freedom to pursue objectives that would enhance personal welfare without being subjected to the indignity of physical and spiritual domination.62 Since 1948 rights advocates have consistently argued that human rights should be universal, and that all cultures are ultimately malleable to the liberal interpretation of rights.63 On the other side of the fence are cultural relativists, who have also for long argued that universalizing the concept of rights as articulated by rights advocates will be tantamount to a western hegemony, and a delegitimization of other cultures.64 They argue that different societies should be allowed to define and promulgate rights to the extent that their cultures permit. Both sides make compelling arguments, and a compromise must be reached or the obstacles to a coherent and consistent universal observance of rights will persist.

The practice of female genital circumcision falls squarely within this debate, and clearly illustrates the kind of difficulties that rights advocates must overcome in their quest to universalize basic human rights. Unquestionably, there are certain human rights, such as the right to be secure in person, and freedom from civil, political and religious subjugation, that must enjoy the international status of jus cogens, regardless of domestic cultural observances. Female circumcision comes with a high risk of physical endangerment, and must be strongly condemned, and discouraged. But it is the outcome of a powerful tradition that permeates most of Africa, and some religious observances. While Westerners may find this practice abhorrent, it remains a right of passage for many, hence the need to seek the most effective approach to curb its practice is imperative; but the approach taken must also be, at once, equally sensitive to cultural and religious sensibilities.

A starting point in this campaign should be the enlistment of national governments in countries where circumcision is prevalent; such enlistment is critical for the simple reason that national governments have the capacity to carry ‘carrots’ or wield the ‘stick.’ The ‘stick’, however, must always be the last resort in all human rights discourse. This should be followed by a concerted effort to educate the relevant population and people in responsible offices, such as traditional and spiritual leaders, on the health risks of circumcision, and the attendant inhumane treatment to recipients. If this fails, then an alternative ritual that approximates the same need may be adduced; and with patience, the old practice of female circumcision may gradually fade away. Criminal sanction cannot be a viable solution in this case, for it fails to address the fundamental reasons for the practice; and unless those reasons are properly addressed, the practice will continue, albeit out of public view, even with the prospect of severe sanctions.

While the ideals of human rights are admittedly western and liberal in inclination, their substantive values and usefulness are not limited to societies that espouse western ideas, but are rather just as meaningful and useful to non-Western societies. The common bond of humanity makes these ideals non-parochial, and imbues them with universal qualities. The fact that individual rights and freedom were first comprehensively articulated and formalized as principles of governance and conduct by Western societies is not enough to make them objectionable to other cultures as long as experience has shown them to be salutary to individual welfare and societal progress. By way of example, the idea that man can fly, and hence the invention of modern air travel, is of Western origin. The benefits from air travel are unquestionable; should non-Westerners now refuse to fly because the idea and the subsequent invention are Western? Are we also to reject the global use of modern Western medicine because they may be incompatible with traditional observances in other cultures? For now, a contemplation of these questions will do. Perhaps, but the words of Lightfoot-Klein remain very instructive:

...childhood genital mutilations are anachronistic blood rituals inflicted on the helpless bodies of non-consenting children of both sexes. The reasons given for female circumcision in Africa and for the routine male cir. in the US are essentially the same. Both falsely touch the positive health benefits of the procedure. Both promise cleanliness and the absence of “bad” genital odours, as well as greater attractiveness and acceptability of the sex organs. The affected individuals in both cultures have come to view these procedures as something that was done for them and not to them.65

Female circumcision, like other habitually observed rituals in different societies and in different eras, must have a presumed social or religious relevance amongst its practitioners in order to remain serviceable. Once so convinced, it is hardly necessary to adduce further reasons for its observance, and the ritual would remain in practice until its usefulness is found wanting or alternate rituals with less inconveniences are introduced. In order to curb its practice, practitioners must be convinced that its assumed benefits can be achieved through other means impose with less severe hardship on beneficiaries. But given its long history in Africa this would require sustained effort in exposing its harmful effects to children and adults who are subjected to the procedure as a matter of course, and not by free will; and that a better policy would be to either abandon the practice altogether or retain it with the proviso that only individuals that have reached the age of consent may freely engage in it as an elective procedure. This is an area that would benefit from further research on alternative rituals that serve the same end.


1 Immigration And Naturalization Act. 1980. (8 U.S.C. sec. 1101 (a) (42) (A).

2 ibid.

3 IN RE KASINGA. 1996. Interim Decision 3278, 1996 Westlaw 379826, 35 ILM 1145

4 ibid. pp.5.

5 Lewis, Hope. 1995. Between Irua and Female Genital Mutilation: Feminist Human Rights Discourse and the Cultural Divide, 8 HARV. Hum. Rts. Journal, 1 2-3.

6 Larsen, Ulla; Yan, Sharon. 2000. Does Female Circumcision Affect Infertility and Fertility? A Study of the Central African Republic. Cote D’Ivoire, and Tanzania, Demography, Vol. 37, No. 3, 313-321

7 ibid.

8 WHO. 1996. Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group, Geneva.

9 Geertz, Clifford. 1973. Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, pp. 5.

10 WHO. 1996. Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group, Geneva.

11 Rich, S., Joyce, S. 1997. Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: Lessons for Donors. Occasional paper, Wallace Global Fund, Washington, D.C.

12 Boddy, Janice. 1989. Wombs and Alien Spirits. Madison Univ. of Wisconsin Press, pp. 52

13 Larsen, Ulla; Yan, Sharon. 2000. Does Female Circumcision Affect Infertility and Fertility? A Study of the Central African Republic. Cote D’Ivoire, and Tanzania, Demography, Vol. 37, No. 3, 313-321.

14ibid. at pp.316.

15 Boddy. 1989. pp. 54.

16 Geertz, 1973. pp.14.

17 ibid.

18 Gruenbaum, Ellen. 2000. The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective. University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 25.

19 Toubia, N; Rahman, A, 2000. A Guide to Laws and Policies Worldwide. Zed Book, New York. pp. 12.

20 ibid. at pp. 13.

21 Tobia, N. 1995. Female Genital Mutilation: A Call for Global Action. RAINBO, New York

22 Bashir, Layli. 1996. Female genital mutilation in the United States: An Examination of criminal and Asylum Law; The American University Journal of Gender & Law, 4 Am. U.J. Gender & Law, pp. 415.

23 Gruenbaum, 2000. pp. 35

24 ibid.

25 ibid. at pp. 153

26 ibid. at pp. 56.

27 ibid. at pp. 59.

28 ibid.

29 Boddy, 1989. pp. 56

30 Rich, S., Joyce, S. 1997. pp.38.

31 Universal declaration of Human Rights; G.A. res. 217A (III), UN Doc. A/810 at 71 (1948).

32 World health organization. 1979. Seminar on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women And Children, Khartoum, Sudan.

33 Assaad, Marie. 1980. Female Circumcision in Egypt: Social Implications, Current Research, and Prospects for Change. Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 11. No. 1, 3-16.

34 ibid.

35 Babalola, S., Adebayo, C. 1996. Evaluation Report of Female Circumcision Eradication Project in Nigeria, paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, New York

36 ibid.

37 United Nations General Assembly, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Geneva: U.N. General Assembly, A/RES/48/104, 23 Feb. 1994) at pp. 2.

38 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 12, GA RES. 44/25, Annes, UN GAOR, 44th Sess., Supp. No. 49, at 199, UN Doc. A/44/49 (1989)

39 ibid. Art. No.24.

40 Freeman, Michael. 1994. The philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, Aug., Vol. 16, n3, pp. 451-514.

41 Organization of African Unity. 1990. African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Art. 24(3).

42 ibid. Art. No. 21(1).

43 United Nations (UN). 1994. Report on the International Conference on population and Development, New York.

44 WHO. 1996. Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group, Geneva.

45 Donnelly, Jack, 1989.Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice; Cornell University Press, New York, P44.

46 ibid. at pp.120

47 Teson, F. 1984. International Human Rights and Cultural Relativism. Virginia Journal of International law, 25, pp. 87-122.

48 ibid. at pp. 13.

49 A. Belden Fields, and Wolf-Dieter Narr, 1992. Human Rights as a Holistic Concept; Human Rights Quarterly, Feb., Vol. 14, n1 p1-20.

50 Universal declaration of Human Rights, supra note 31.

51 Teson, F. 1984, supra note 47.

52 Donnelly, Kack, 1989, supra note 45.

53 Brown, Chris, 1993. Universal Human Rights: A Critique; in Dunne and Wheeler, Human Rights in Global Politics, pp. 105.

54 Howard, Rhoda, 1993. Cultural Absolutism and the Nostalgia for Community; Human Rights Quarterly, May, Vol. 15, n2 p315-338.

55 Assaad, Marie. 1980. Female Circumcision in Egypt: Social Implications, Current Research, and Prospects for Change. Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 11. No. 1, 3-16.

56 Babalola, S., Adebayo, C. 1996. supra note 35 at pp.21.

57 Steiner, H, and Alston, P, 2000. International Human Rights in Context; Oxford Univ. Press, pp.180.

58 ibid. at pp.189.

59 World Health Organization. 1998. Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group, Geneva

60 African Report, March, 2003, pp. 37.

61 ibid.

62 Donnelly, Jack, 1989, supra note 45.

63 ibid.

64 Lewis, Hope. 1995. Between Irua and Female Genital Mutilation: Feminist Human Rights Discourse and the Cultural Divide, 8 HARV. Hum. Rts. Journal, 1 2-3.

65 Lightfoot-Klein, H., 1989. Prisoners of Ritual: An Odyssey into female Genital Circumcision in Africa, Harrington Press, New York, pp. 78.

Leadership Structure: The African Experience

There are indisputably significant divergences in the degree of development of countries across the world. All countries do not experience the same rate of development process. Literature reveals that countries situated in some regions of the globe experience lower rate of development than others. For instance, people living in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent experience a lower degree of welfare than those living in Western Europe and North America. Does leadership have something to do with this? Literature suggests that political leaders have the potential to influence variables that have bearing on development process (Perkins, Shirley, Wint, 2008) through effective public and social policies. In this paper, we examined leadership in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. We examined whether or not leadership has bearing on the development process of this region. We provided a discussion about the political, religious, and social leaderships in Africa. The discussion touched on the intersection of these three leaderships. We discussed the impact of their intersection on the development process in the region. Finally, we attempted to propose an integral leadership model for the region.

Brief Overview of Leadership Concept
Leadership theory has evolved over time –from pre-classical to postmodern eras– and it has been influenced by several factors. It is worth noting that economic, political, and social systems have had bearing on the definition, interpretation, and application of leadership over time. For long, scholars have been striving to draw a clear distinction between the roles of leading and those of managing. Drawing a clear distinction between leading and managing has been challenging. As a concept, leadership is complex. Thus, one of the main challenges facing scholars and practitioners has been to come up with a comprehensive definition of leadership.

Leadership is an intricate and ever-changing process that has been defined in several different ways (Grimm, 2010; Weiskittel, 1999). According to Andrew (2008), leadership is “a multifaceted process of identifying a goal, motivating other people to act, and providing support and motivation to achieve mutually negotiated goals” (para 3). According to Duerst-Lahti (2010), leadership is a relationship between leaders and followers. This implies effective interaction between the two. Unfortunately, leadership is traditionally deployed in the context of hierarchies, reinforced from and communicated through chain-of-command authority models (Friedman, 2013). In such models, leaders have the power of voice; whereas their followers are on the listening end (Friedman, 2013).

Today, situational leadership, also known as having a contingency approach, has become popular, as different situations require different leadership styles (Grimm, 2010). Despite this advantage, it has been criticized for focusing too much on leaders and not enough on group interaction (Parry and Bryman, 2006). On the other hand, transactional and transformational theories are based on interactions between leaders and followers. These two theories seem to be gaining ground.

Effective leadership requires trust between the leader and followers. If followers trust their leader, they will do whatever the leader envisions (Bach and Ellis, 2011). To develop trust, there should be mutual respect. Leaders should treat everyone the way they would wish to be treated (Rolfe, 2011). Rolfe (2011) and Grimm (2010) suggested that, first and foremost, leaders should be honest. The reasoning is that it is difficult to trust someone who is unethical or immoral.
Leadership is earned, and once it is achieved, it is not sustainable without continuous proof of concept (Sederer, 2012). This means that effective leaders are those who have an excellent record of their performance or accomplishments. Leaders must demonstrate their value in a ceaseless and tireless way (Sederer, 2012).

Leadership means service to followers and to the general public. Leadership is the action of leading other individuals for the purpose of achieving a common goal. In the context of the public administration, this means the pursuit of broader moral principles in the public interest. These principles include “justice, fairness, individual rights (e.g. privacy and due process), equity, respect for human dignity, and pursuit of the common good” (Ehrich, Cranston, and Kimber, 2004, para 5). For a long time, the question relating to leadership in Africa has been on the front burner (Salawu, 2012).
Leadership in Africa
In the African context, leadership has been viewed as individuals’ predisposition to serve their families, their peers, and their communities. Traditionally, ethnical African leaders played three roles: political leaders, social leaders, and religious leaders. In their role of political leaders, ethnical leaders were public administrators. In their role of social leader, they settled social conflicts among followers. In their role of religious leaders, they were priests whose role was service to gods. Although three leaderships resided in the caring and protective hands of ethnical leaders, there seemed to be no conflict of roles in traditional African society.
Unfortunately, the colonial era reshaped the traditional African leadership. Ethical leaders saw their powers taken away to some extent. They were compelled to share power with the colonial authority. The sharing of powers –political, social and religious– between ethical leaders and the colonial authority favored the latter.

With the emergence of democracies in post-colonial Africa, Africans hoped to regain, through new African leaders, ethnical power lost during the colonization. Unfortunately, the world witnessed the birth of two groups of leadership in Africa. The first group included among others elected leaders such as Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah. They were nationalist and charismatic leaders (Nkrumah 2013, Lumumba 2013). To them, leadership meant more than power; it meant loyal service to their nations and their continent. They had the trust of their countrymen.

The second group comprised Africans brought to leadership positions by colonial powers. They had no choice but to remain loyal to their masters. They were the extension of colonial hands. They had the trust of those who vested them with leadership. Through them, former colonial powers have been exercising control over young African nations.The coexistence of these two groups of leadership has had negative effects on the fate of African people. The African continent was unfortunately divided in two ideological clusters. Invisible ideological boundaries emerged in Africa. Their ramification has had bearing on the social, economic, and political development of African nations.

The African continent has been therefore known for suffering from leadership vacuum. Excellent leadership is obviously rare in Africa (Salawu, 2012). Whenever there is an emergence of a progressive leader in Africa, the enemies of the African progress always find ways to hinder the progress (Bangarah, 2011). Poor leadership is thought to be the source of most problems plaguing African societies (Salawu, 2012).
The African continent has taken a step backward from establishing a new generation of leaders committed to fostering development and democracy; tackling conflict, corruption, and dictatorship; and building a new Africa (Van Niekerk, 2009). Africa’s hope for leadership is thought to be a younger generation that, for the time being, remains on the margins (Van Niekerk, 2009). There is therefore a need to get younger generations involved in leadership.

African Women and Leadership
Through building schools, Christian missionaries introduced western education and culture in Africa (Wakahiu and Salvaterra 2012). Yet, little was accomplished before independence with regard to educating women (Wakahiu and Salvaterra 2012) to provide them with competencies to be in leadership positions. This situation has put African women at disadvantage with regard to access to leadership positions.
Although democracy encourages individuals’ participation in management of the public affairs irrespective of gender, the majority of democratic offices in Africa are held by men (Ekwealor, 1999). Women in Africa face several stumbling blocks as they aspire to leadership position (Gouws, 2008). Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike (2012) assert that even though African women are present at the professional and specialist levels, they remain to a great extent absent in the top executive positions. And this is due to several factors.

The first factor is gender. Leadership in Africa is gendered (Duerst-Lahti, 2010). Duerst-Lahti (2010) explains that there are gender hierarchies in institutions that generally privilege men over women. Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike (2012) identified the presence of a glass ceiling for Black women, in general and African women, in particular.
The second factor consists of the nature of politics in Africa. Ekwealor (1999) asserts that women in Africa possess the spiritual and managerial abilities to improve the political practice in Africa. However, the atavistic and dangerous mode of politicking makes women vulnerable in the African political arena (Ekwealor, 1999).

The third factor is race. In multi-racial countries –like South Africa–, the situation of black women is even worse as black women are victim of two types of discrimination. First, regardless of their race, men continue to benefit from the structural advantage (Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike 2012). Second, white women benefit from a structural advantage over black women (Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike 2012). Whenever positions of leadership emerge, the white men –who are powerful and influential– prefer to give them to black men instead of black women (Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike 2012). And this is due to gender bias. White women appear to be having a significant advantage over black women in general (Ndinda and Okeke-Uzodike 2012). This is due to racial bias.

Political Leadership
Political leadership is expected to play a crucial role in the development of nations. In the exercise of their functions, political leaders have to make challenging choices. They have an objective responsibility to ultimately serve the public interest. Politicians have responsibility in which they are held accountable by the citizenry and the legal system. This is referred to as objective responsibility (Cooper, 2012). At the same time, they have responsibility in which they feel and believe themselves to be responsible. This is referred to as subjective responsibility (Cooper, 2012). According to Cooper (2012), ethical dilemma emerges when there is conflict between objective responsibility and subjective responsibility. Ethical dilemma is basically a challenging exercise of choosing between two right courses of actions. In other words, it is a choice between right versus right (Stout and Love, 2013).
Effective political leadership means the ability to choose well among competing alternatives –and in the most difficult times– based on what is in the greatest interest of the citizenry. The effectiveness of political leaders’ decision making depends on the leadership system in place. There are several leadership styles. In this study however, the focus is on following leadership styles: autocratic, democratic, and free rein (Weiskittel, 1999).

Autocratic leadership
This leadership style involves the use of commands and expected compliance (Weiskittel, 1999). To motivate followers, autocratic leaders make all important decisions and use punishment or threat (Roosevelt and Gustainis, 2004). Autocratic leaders are not concerned with the happiness or satisfaction of their followers. Not only they are primarily concerned with task accomplishment, but also they maintain considerable social distance from the group they lead (Roosevelt and Gustainis, 2004).

Democratic or participative leadership
This style of leadership involves consultation with group members on actions and decisions, and encourages (Sullivan, 2009) and rewards involvement in the process (Weiskittel, 1999). These leaders make decisions and set goals with the approval and full participation of the followers (Weiskittel, 1999). This leadership style assigns individual rights and privileges to all parties in a group or organization as the followers are engaged by a leader to achieve common goals. Democratic leadership encourages participation by all parties engaged in similar pursuits and requires equitable distribution of both power and responsibility (Sullivan, 2009).

Free-rein leadership or Laissez-faire leadership
The group –followers– expect a high level of autonomy and independence (Weiskittel, 1999). This leadership style allows the group to set goals, develop strategies, and mobilize necessary resources to achieve expected outcomes. The leader serves as a support person whose role consists of providing the group with operational assistance. The scope of the leader’s assistance includes (a) facilitating access to information and remote resources, (b) addressing organizational boundaries, and (c) serving as a link between the group and the external environment. This type of leadership is referred to as the servant-leadership (Weiskittel, 1999). The servant-leaders are those who choose to serve first (Spears, 2009) as a way of expanding service to the team, the community, or the citizenry. They ensure that the needs of their followers are met (Mello, 2003). Unlike the traditionally leadership which is deployed in the context of hierarchies –reinforced from and communicated through chain-of-command authority models– in which followers are on the listening end (Friedman, 2013), servant-leaders actively listen (Spears, 2009). If followers undergo proper preparation and training, the best of this leadership style is revealed. When used properly, “laissez-faire leadership emerges as the ultimate form of leading” (Goodnight, 2004, para 1).

Religious Leadership
There is an increasing awareness that several insightful answers to life’s most critical questions does not come from science; they come instead from religion (Religious leadership, 1994). There is therefore a need for religious leaders to develop leadership characteristics to better guide their religious communities (Religious leadership, 1994). Thus, religious leadership intersects with social leadership in that it has an impact on the community where social leadership emerges.
Unlike the Catholics who have who stand at the head of their religion and whose word was unquestioned, one person who could determine what they should believe, religions, like the Judaism, do not have such a leader (Hammer, 2013). There are however some religious leaders who possess unquestioned authority for their particular loyal followers.

Social Leadership and the Internet Revolution
We define social leadership as everyday leadership. Someone with social leadership skills is capable of getting team members excited about their task, raising their energy, inspiring their spirit, and minimizing strife among them. Social leaders are generally popular among their followers because they use a democratic type of leadership. According to Piasecka (2000), everyday leadership consists of mentoring others, inspiring peers, taking initiatives, and being pro-active. “Leadership is not about grand gestures or personal greatness, but about detailed everyday activities – and it is available to everyone” (Piasecka, 2000, para 1).

The advent of the internet technology has enlarged the sphere of social leadership. As a technology, the Internet allows people to communicate across cultures, religions, and continents. The emergence of the Internet has given voice to those who were voiceless. This technology has impacted the lives of human beings on the face of the earth.Today, people use the communication potential of the Internet to serve and promote their special interests or contribute to human freedom and the development of humankind. The Internet provides people around the world with the most effective communication channel. Thanks to the Internet, people have greater participation in this expanding era of globalization. The Internet has unquestionably become an effective tool for the globalization of protests. According to Brickfactory (2004), the Internet has played a huge role in forming international public opinions regarding western countries throughout the world; it has also helped to democratize the rest of the world by allowing citizens to voice their own opinions.

The potential that the internet technology has to share information with a large number of people and facilitate multi-site dialogues has been a source of concern for many governments. They are concerned about uncontrolled access to this technology. Several countries seek to impose a restriction on its content or simply control access to the technology. This concern is due in part from the realization that the World Wide Web is a powerful communication medium capable of reaching a multitude of people in the blink of an eye.

Social Network and Social Leadership
Social network has an impact on social leadership. Clemson and Evans (2012) conducted a study on a networked type of the minority game to determine whether agents were inclined to follow choices made by a neighboring agent in a social network. The minority game is a simple model for competition dynamics that seeks to interpret the behavior of a group of agents competing for a restricted resource (Challet, Marsili, and Zhang, 2005). Findings suggested that for most networks, a leadership structure consistently appeared, with the majority of agents following the choice made by a small number of agents (Clemson and Evans, 2012).

The emergence of mobile smart phones has given rise to new categories of virtual communities, –mobile communities. With the advent of mobile technologies and wireless networks, the world has witnessed the emergence of social leadership on a broader scale. Social networking is the intersection of social leadership and political leadership. Social networking is a source of concern for most African countries, –especially for countries that have espoused autocratic leadership or traditional leadership and those that violate human rights. The beauty of social networking is that it breaks apart the traditional leadership communication model by empowering individuals and groups to communicate horizontally at higher velocity and greater momentum than a hierarchical model can keep up with. Social network levels the playing field of voice (Friedman, 2013).

The expansion of wireless scope and the increasing use of mobile devices across the world (Singh, 2012) enlarge mobile communities. Mobile phone ownership across the African continent is soaring. This is because of their low cost and their communication capability. There are now more mobile phones in Africa than there are in the United States of America (Parr, 2013). There are currently 475 million mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa alone, compared with just 12.3 million fixed line connections (Parr, 2013).

The study results are alarming. First, the majority of respondents are of the belief that there is a lack of effective leadership in the sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis of data revealed that countries located in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent lack effective political and religious leaderships. Second, over 90% of respondents living in Africa and 85% respondents living abroad were not satisfied with the kind of political leadership exercised in this region of the world.
These results are disturbing because leadership has bearing on the development of countries. Data analysis reinforces this statement. With regard to a possible correlation between leadership and the development of the African continent, 39.66% of respondents living in Africa and 53.57% of respondents living abroad strongly believed in a correlation between the two. Over 17% of respondents living in Africa and 21.43% of respondents living abroad believed in the same correlation.
The lack of effective leadership witnessed in Africa has had several impacts on this continent. First, it has paved the way for predators to systematically deprive this continent of its human and natural resources. Second, it results in inability to implement effective public and social policies. Africa has been in labor for a long time because of lack of effective leadership. Effective leaders are those who demonstrate the traits of social change agents, economic change agents, and political change agents. Thus, political, religious, and social leaders are expected to play a crucial role in the development of this region.
Third, the presence of ineffective leadership results in lack of effective social policy that gives rise to an exodus of African manpower in pursuit of better life. Due to their dissatisfaction with a dysfunctional Africa, highly educated sons and daughters of Africa are migrating to western countries. Some of them are fleeing persecutions endured from the hands of their political leaders who violate Human Rights, like Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security and Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment. This departure has unquestionably hindered the development process of the African continent in general and the sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
The majority of respondents stated that religious leadership was not stronger than political leadership in the region. This indicates that political leadership possesses legal and formal power. However, religious leaders possess informal power that can seriously shake political power. This is true because people are more inclined to follow religious leaders than political leaders.
The data upon analysis showed that the majority of respondents believed that culture had a huge impact on leadership in the region. Cultural relativism asserts that human rights are not universal; rather, they vary from culture to culture (Ayton-Shenker, 1995). Tensions exist between universal respect for human rights and cultural diversity (Addo, 2010). Indisputably, culture has bearing on the way human rights are promoted, protected, interpreted, and applied in the region. To manage tensions between universal respect for human rights and cultural diversity, they should be allowed to complement and reinforce each other (Addo, 2010). Therefore, the main responsibility of leaders in the region consists of putting in place guidelines, principles, and legislations that can positively impact the well-being of their countrymen.
With regard to a possible correlation between leadership and the development of the sub-Saharan African region, the majority of participants stated that there was an association between the two. Data analysis showed that 39.66% of respondents living in Africa and 53.57% of respondents living abroad strongly believed in a correlation between the two. Over 17% of respondents living in Africa and 21.43% of respondents living abroad believed in the same correlation.
Regardless of their location, the majority of individuals surveyed were of the opinion that leadership was male-dominated business in Africa. Data analysis indicated that over 70% of females surveyed held the same opinion. The analysis of the same data showed that the majority of respondents stated that women possessed skills and competencies required to be in leadership positions. Data analysis revealed that 75% of females surveyed strongly agreed that women in the sub-Saharan Africa were as competent as men to be in leadership positions.
The reality is that African women are still having difficulties getting into leadership positions. This is due in part to the African culture and lack of effective legislations. Traditionally, males have played the role of leaders while females have played the role of followers. There is a necessity to address this situation in an effective manner. A radical transformation of the African mentality is necessary and an introduction of legislations about employment equity is needed. For such legislations to happen and for their application to be effective, a viable strategy would consist of encouraging women to keep developing relevant leadership and policy development competencies. Such competencies will enable African women to become active participants in policy development and decision-making (Wakahiu and Salvaterra, 2012). Networking is thought to be a critical strategy in the education of African women as it can provide them with effective means to support themselves.
Data upon analysis indicated that 36.05% agreed that and 40.70% strongly agreed that social leadership could contribute to the development of the sub-Saharan African region. Social leaders can be very effective in the dissemination of African oral ethics. African oral ethics is crucial as they help inculcate in individuals, right from childhood, the values of good citizenry and leadership, necessary to create a civilization (Salawu, 2012). This is critical because any society in which vices outweigh virtues will not make progress; instead, it will collapse more from internal decay than from external aggression (Haruna, 2013).
The analysis of data showed that over 90% of respondents stated that social and political leaderships were not in harmony in the region. These results are indicative of the African reality. In countries where human rights are respected, social and political leaderships are pretty much in harmony. This is because political leaders recognize that citizens have inalienable rights by virtue of being human beings. Some of these rights include Freedom of Opinion and Information, Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association. The lack of harmony between social and political leaderships observed in this study could be due to the fact that political leadership in the region does not respect human rights.
Data analysis suggested that 33.72% of respondents agreed that leadership in the region was adult-dominated business. The data indicated that 40.70% of respondents strongly agreed that leadership in the region was adult-dominated business. These data are consistent with views expressed in literature indicating African leaders’ inclination to stay too long in power (Bangarah, 2011). As a result, younger generations remain on the margins (Van Niekerk, 2009). The dynamic is changing with the expansion of mobile communication devices in Africa. Mobile communication devices provide African youth with easy access to information once controlled by their governments. Such access to information empowers African youth.

Over 80% of respondents indicated that religious and political leaderships were not in harmony in the region. This result would suggest a tension between these two leaderships. This tension exists for one of the following reasons. Either, the political leadership is violating the Article 18 of human rights, –which recognizes individuals’ Freedom of Belief and Religion–, by banning religion or by controlling it. Or, religious leadership refuses to compromise on their mission. Instead they admonish and criticize political leaders for failing to meet basic needs of the population or for violating human rights. Thru mutual respect, this tension can be avoided for the sake of the development of the region. Both parties should understand that they have been tasked to operate in two different realms for a common purpose: to meet the needs of their countrymen.

However, nearly 42% believed that religious and social leaderships were in harmony in the region. This result suggests that there is some degree of harmony between these two leaderships. This is because when there is vacuum of political leadership, people turn to God. Spirituality plays a valuable role in the life of poor people in the region. Whenever people are persecuted, they seek protection from a supreme being –the one who is greater than the persecutor. When people experience hardship, they want to hear a message of hope. Religion is what makes their lives meaningful; it gives them strength to resist oppressors or to graciously tolerate oppression. Religion gives oppressed people hope for better days. Thus, religious leaders deliver sermons that help people create new meaning and purpose for their lives.
Implication of Findings on the Development of the Region

For some time, Africans have been witnessing the emergence of a political system –called democracy– that in reality is far from meeting basic requirements of western democracy. As result, tensions exist among political, religious, and social leaderships. It is critical to understand that whenever democratically elected leaders are ousted by nondemocratic means, the development process in the region is delayed. The region takes a step backward from fostering democracy, which is a required for effective development. It is crucial to realize that the development of the region is contingent on developing a new breed of responsible leaders, who are willing and capable of serving the public interest.

Citizens of countries in which leadership is not clearly defined, practically demonstrated, or effectively applied do not enjoy the desired level of well-being. Effective leaders are those who feel that they have clear obligations as human beings to care for their countrymen. African leaders should be reminded that effective leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality. Thus, there is a pressing need for practical leadership in the region. In other words, countries located in the sub-Saharan Africa need leadership that directly impacts people on the ground.

It is essential to know that the only individuals that can truly develop Africa are the sons and daughters of Africa. There is therefore a need for developing leaders –whose goal is the pursuit of broader moral principles in the public interest– at all levels of the society regardless of gender or age. This is critical because effective leadership is not supposed to be a “one-man” show (Weiskittel, 1999) or gendered (Duerst-Lahti, 2010). An inclusive approach to leadership is critical to the development of the region.

The region needs a type of leadership that leads to social welfare, cultural emancipation, economic prosperity, and political stability. For that to happen, all three leaderships, –political, religious, and social– must be in a symbiotic relationship.
Africa is in need of a new breed of ethical and moral leaders. It is critical to keep in mind that future leaders come from the ranks of today’s general public. Therefore, there is a pressing need not only to improve education and recognize individuals’ right to education, but also to adapt the curriculum to the realities of the region and to the requirements of the global economy. The region needs leaders who are capable of understanding the requirements of the global economy in order to deal effectively with evils that plague the region. These evils include among others war, crime, poverty, hunger, and disease.
It is crucial to understand that the development of the region is contingent on the development of relevant leadership competencies in current and future leaders.
Study Limitation

Various limitations may have existed in this study. These limitations include among others sample size, response rate, weakness of self-administered questionnaire, and truthfulness. With respect to the truthfulness of the participants, it was assumed that participants responded truthfully as their responses did not significantly deviate from the mean.

There are indeed discrepancies in the development of countries around the world. Development divergences are witnessed even for countries located in the same region. Leadership has a lot to do with the development process of countries. Countries with clearly defined, practically demonstrated, or effectively applied leadership do better than others. Findings from this study suggested a lack of effective leadership in the sub-Saharan Africa. Discoveries from the study suggested that leadership was gendered and dominated by older generations in the region. Study results indicated a tension between political and religious leaderships and between political leadership and social leadership. The study indicated however a possible harmony between religious and social leaderships. The explanation is that poor and oppressed people tend to get closer to someone who can meet their needs and who is greater than their oppressor. The development of this region is dependent on the development of a new generation of responsible leaders who can translate their vision into reality.

Addo, M. K. (2010). Practice of united nations human rights treaty bodies in the reconciliation of cultural diversity with universal respect for human rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 32(3), 601-664. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/745593439?accountid=458
Andrew, F (2008). What leadership styles should senior nurses develop? Retrieved from http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/leadership/what-leadership-styles-should-senior-nurses-develop/1811643.article.
Ayton-Shenker, D. (1995). The Challenge of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity. Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information DPI/1627/HR–March 1995. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1627e.htm
Bach S, Ellis P (2011) Leadership, Management and Team Working in Nursing. Learning Matters Ltd, Exeter.
Bangarah, Kilanji (2011) Namibia: Stopping Progressive Leadership in Africa? Accessed October 26, 2013: http://allafrica.com/stories/201111190137.htmlsa
Brickfactory. (2004). Globalization, the Internet and Public Opinion. Accessed October 20, 2011, from: http://www.bivingsreport.com/2004/globalization-the-internet-and-public-opinion.
Challet, D., Marsili, M. & Zhang, Y.C. Minority Games: Interacting Agents in Financial Markets, Oxford University Press, 2005.
Clemson, T & Evans, T.S. (2012). The emergence of leadership in social networks. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, ISSN 0378-4371, 02/2012, Volume 391, Issue 4, p. 1434
Cooper, T. (2012). The Responsible Administrator. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
Duerst-Lahti, G. (2010). The consequences of gender for women’s political leadership. In K. O’Connor (Ed.), Gender and women’s leadership: A reference handbook. (pp. 20-31). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/10.4135/9781412979344.n3
Ekwealor, C. (1999). Women and democratic leadership in Africa: An appraisal. Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(1), 139-144. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/847122129?accountid=458
Ehrich, L. C., Cranston, N., & Kimber, M. (2004). Public Sector Managers and Ethical Dilemmas. Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, 10(1), 25-37. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233255720?accountid=458.
Friedman, P. (2013). Social leadership. Leadership Excellence, 30(1), 14. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1270894809?accountid=458
Goodnight, R. (2004). Laissez-faire leadership. In G. Goethals, G. Sorenson, & J. Burns (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leadership. (pp. 821-824). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/10.4135/9781412952392.n189.
Gouws, A. (2008). Obstacles for Women in leadership positions: The case of South Africa. Signs 34: 31-8.
Grimm J.W. (2010) Effective leadership: making the difference. Journal of Emergency Nursing. 36, 1, 74-77.
Hammer, R. (2013, Nov 15). Humility in religious leadership. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1461329646?accountid=458.
Haruna, M. (2013). On ethics and leadership in Africa (I). AllAfrica.com [Washington] 10 July 2013.
Lumumba, P. E. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 02:21, Nov 08, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/patrice-lumumba-38745.
Mello, J. A. (2003, June). Profiles in leadership: Enhancing learning through model and theory building. Journal of Management Education, 27(3), 344
Ndinda, C. & Okeke-Uzodike, U. (2012). Present but absent: Women in business leadership in South Africa. Journal of International Women’s Studies 13, (1) (03): 127-145
Nkrumah, K. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 02:15, Nov 08, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/kwame-nkrumah-9424127.
Parry, K.W. and Bryman, A. (2006) Leadership in organizations. In Clegg SR, Hardy C, Lawrence TB, Nord WR (Eds) The SAGE Handbook of Organization Studies. Second edition. Sage Publications, London, 447-468.
Piasecka, A. (2000). Not “Leadership” but “leadership”. Industrial & Commercial Training, 32(7), 253.
Parr, C. (2013). Africa’s mobile phone e-learning transformation. Accessed October 19, 2013: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/africas-mobile-phone-e-learning-transformation/2007120.article
Perkins, A. K., Shirley, B., & Wint, A. G. (2008). Political Leadership and Development: Assessing the Jamaican Experience. Social and Economic Studies, 57(1), 108-138,186,188.
Religious leadership. (1994, Mar 23). The Christian Century, 111, 300. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/217218523?accountid=458
Rolfe P (2011) Transformational leadership theory: what every leader needs to know. Nurse Leader. 9, 2, 54-57.
Roosevelt, T., & Gustainis, J. (2004). Autocratic leadership. In G. Goethals, G. Sorenson, & J. Burns (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Leadership. (pp. 69-73). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/10.4135/9781412952392.n21
Salawu, A. (2012). The paradigm of ethical development for civilized leadership in Africa. Leadership, February 2012 vol. 8 no. 1 17-27. DOI: 10.1177/1742715011426961
Sederer, L. I. (2012). Leadership. Psychiatric Services, 63(2), 103.
Singh, R.D. (2012). “Wireless for Communities: Empowering Communities through Wireless Connectivity,” IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 77-79, May-June 2012, doi:10.1109/MIC.2012.58.
Spears, L. C. (2009). Servant leadership. Leadership Excellence, 26(5), 20. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204513095?accountid=458.
Stout, M., & Love, J. (2013). Ethical Choice Making. Public Administration Quarterly, 37(2), 278-294. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1355492932?accountid=458
Sullivan, L. (2009). Democratic leadership. The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. (p. 142). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/10.4135/9781412972024.n691
Van Niekerk, P. (2009). Africa’s Leadership Vacuum. Current History 108.718 (May 2009): 232-234.
Wakahiu, J. & Salvaterra, M. (2012). Sustainable leadership: lessons and implications of a leadership development program for women religious in Africa. Journal of Pan African Studies. 5.2 (Apr. 2012) p150.
Weiskittel, Pat. (1999, October). The concept of leadership. ANNA Journal, 26(5), 467-468.

About the Author
Israel R. Kabashiki, PhD, is a scholar, practitioner, and leader. As scholar, he received the equivalent of Bachelor of Commerce from the Institut Supérieur de Commerce and the License degree (5-year degree) in Applied Economics from the Université de Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He received the B.S. in business computing from the University of Winnipeg, in Canada. He also holds a Master of Information Systems and a Doctor of Management in organizational leadership with a specialization in information systems and technology from the University of Phoenix, in the USA. He is currently pursuing his second doctorate, a PhD in Public Policy and Administration, with a specialization in Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace.
His research interest includes the use of information and communication technology in health care, medical outsourcing, leadership in health care, policy development, and peace.
As a practitioner, he is an economist, business strategist, and technologist with over 25 year-experience in diverse industries such as, banking, airline, and information technology. As a leader, he is the founder and owner of IZ New Consulting that specializes in leadership development, management consulting, information technology consulting, and economic analyses.

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy

Mervyn King.

Mervyn King looks like one of those old-fashioned bank managers who cast a paternalistic eye on the nervous customer. Or he could be a GP telling you that you really need to exercise more and go easy on the carbs. It is in this vein that he probes the state of the global economy; his diagnosis does not reassure.
Not for him is the Piketty-esque grand sweep. He avoids the hubris of the “I told you so” school (virtually none of them actually did tell us so ahead of time). He says he is not interested in the blame game, which is probably just as well considering that he was governor of the Bank of England at the time of the great crash of 2007-08. He baldly states: “No doubt there were bankers who were indeed wicked and central bankers who were incompetent, though the vast majority of both whom I met during the crisis were neither.” Many (myself included) might beg to disagree, but this argument has exhausted itself.
Instead, King ranges more widely, framing his argument around not just the dramas of that period but also the decade of lost growth that has followed. In spite of the “biggest monetary policy stimulus in the history of the world” the results have been anaemic. “Central banks have thrown everything at their economies, and yet the results have been disappointing,” he notes. “Whatever can be said about the world recovery since the crisis, it has been neither strong, nor sustainable, nor balanced.”
An entire generation has now become used to negligible or negative interest rates. It was, he points out with consistency of argument, not meant to be this way. Central banks are paralysed, fearful of doing anything that might presage another panic.
King delves into history in his quest for answers, from hunters’ arrows to the earliest banknotes (China in the seventh century AD). He finds little comfort. The banking system has, he contends, always been the weakest link in the economic chain. “Much of the financial history of the past 150 years is the story of unsuccessful attempts to maintain the value of money.”
It is at times of greatest prosperity that we should worry most. The first years of this century and the last of the previous one were, he reminds us, a time of wealth and spending. We were lulled into a false sense of security. He coins it the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. “Good was unprecedented stability… inflation targeting and central bank independence (you could call this period the Great Complacency). The Bad was the rise in debt levels. The Ugly was the development of an extremely fragile banking system.” While banks’ balance sheets have exploded, so have the risks associated with them. “Unlike aeroplane crashes, financial crises have become more, not less frequent.”
The Audacity of Pessimism is the title of the final chapter, and with good reason. Democracy, national sovereignty and economic integration find themselves incompatible. Public faith in the market to generate prosperity is at a new low. “Stagnation” has “once again become synonymous with capitalism”. The levers used to stimulate growth after past slumps – like an antibiotic used too regularly – will no longer work. Behavioural economics leads us nowhere because, more than ever before, we struggle to understand the way societies operate. Radical uncertainty and irrationality are the new normal. By this point, the reader should be reaching for their glass of whisky, whatever the doctor might say.

The Apostles of hope now fill the economic vacuum in Nigeria

Just a few years back, calling a politician corrupt in Nigeria was synonymous to calling a kettle black. It was a given that Nigerian politicians seek elected offices to enrich themselves; the effort was never intended to be a selfless act or motivated by the will to serve the needs of the polity. Thus, the prevailing sentiment was summed up by general optimism that ‘today it is his turn, tomorrow I shall have my opportunity.’ Laws to curb corrupt practices were never meant to be taken seriously, for if they were, then the hopes of a generation of aspirants would be jeopardized. But that was then; today there is a new ‘sheriff’ in town who ran for the presidency on a platform of bureaucratic transparency and anti-corruption reforms. Many Nigerians liked the idea, and elected Mr. Buhari as president in the backdrop of a massively corrupt and incompetent previous administration that almost bankrupted the country.

But Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, however, is beginning to wear very thin on those who enthusiastically voted him into office. With high unemployment rate, stifling inflation, and devalued currency, many now turn to divine intervention, and the apostles of eternal hope for sustenance; for hope can take one a long way. The Economist in an excellent piece entitled “Yes, You can” sums up the lot of the average Nigerian.

The Economist:
FROM the young hawker offering to sell motorists a toilet seat as he snakes through the never-ending jam that is normal traffic in Lagos, to the legions of scammers who make their living writing thousands of e-mails in the hopes of conning a few people out of some cash, Nigerians cannot be said to lack optimism. Yet in a country where poverty is rife, even the world’s most diligent transformers of lemons into lemonade need some help to see a nearly empty glass as half-full.

The pastors of Pentecostal mega-churches promise their congregations God-sent fortunes in return for a 10% tithe. If that sounds a bit dear, then a cut-price option is to subscribe to a service that sends inspirational text messages to your phone. This includes pearls such as: “Changing a face can change nothing, but facing a change can change everything.”

Bookworms can read their way to success. Jumia, an online retailer, says that motivational and self-help books are its bestsellers. In the tiny airports of the north, vendors offer such handy literature as “Fat-Proofing your Children”; in Lagos street vendors hawk the same. “Everyone wants to become the big man,” says a taxi-driver, as he crams a “Guide to the Corporate Machiavelli” and “The Power of Self-Discipline” into the seat pockets of his old SUV. “I want words that inspire me.”
But the kings of this trade are the motivational speakers. “You come to me if you want to get stuff done,” says the suavely-suited Steve Harris from a coffee spot in one of Lagos’s smarter corners. “I’m the guy who’s going to make it happen.”

Over the past few years a handful of life coaches like him have won semi-celebrity status, often trading on their own rise through the social ranks. Mr Harris says he briefly tried his hand at 419, a kind of fraud, after dropping out of university. “It’s not what you don’t have that limits you,” he preaches to captivated audiences in a crisp American accent. “It’s what you have but don’t know how to use.” Ogbo Awoke Ogbo, another speaker, spent two unemployed years squatting in a Lagos slum; eventually, he earned big bucks in oil. He tells his clients that shoddy schools should not stop them. “Self-development is a choice,” he says from a steamy office.

As well as inspirational quotes, such gurus offer practical advice on money management or health. Mr Harris turns away private clients if he thinks their problems cannot be solved in 90 days. Romantic assistance is popular too. Around Valentine’s Day, life coaches lecture women depressed by their lack of luck in love. Sam Adeyemi, a pastor, attracts hundreds of thousands of online hits when he preaches about how to find a spouse (“To find the right mate, you need to become the right mate,” is one of his gems). Popular coaches can command thousands of dollars for a speech, but bigger rewards come when they write books, set up online courses or start consultancies. Businesses pay handsomely for lessons in teamwork or customer care. “Nigerians are searching for answers, but they haven’t been given them,” Mr Ogbo says. “Through us they see a way out.” And what of those Nigerians so inspired by their idols that they, too, want to become motivational speakers? Well, there’s a book for that too.