My Two Kobo

The year 2015 was quite a busy year for Nigeria; perhaps it can be dubbed to be one of the most eventful years for the country’s recent political history. Prior to the year a lot of predictions had been made describing 2015 “a year of distinct quarters”, “a momentous year”, among others. The year however did not fail in living up to the expectations and predictions in terms of activity. There were indeed series of monetary policy statements, government and private sector actions and inactions, as well as a severely charged and intense political atmosphere. While the events of the year can be categorised into various groups in manifold context, it can however be broadly grouped into two categories: The “electoral veil” and the “economic reality”.
The first half of 2015 saw Nigeria focusing more on the general elections, thereby dividing the country along paths of political allegiance and empathy. This indeed veiled a lot of economic shifts occurring both domestically and internationally, which had grave implications for the country. The nation’s attention at the point was rather focused on the ongoing electioneering which in many quarters was perceived as a “make or mar” election and upon which the continued unity and economic progress of the nation wholly rested. Perhaps when oil is controlled for, politics dictated the pace and direction of the Nigerian economy in the first half of the year 2015. The resultant uncertainty effect of this did lead to unprecedented volatility in the nation’s financial market resulting in significant fluctuations across all facets of the fixed income securities.
The continuous downward trend in the governments’ revenue alongside shortage of foreign exchange within the economy led to a sizeable contraction in fiscal abilities which was followed by a substantial slowdown in the nation’s economic growth. As a form of response to these manifestations, the Central Bank of Nigeria employed an array of policy instruments to prevent a looming Naira devaluation, as well as reduce demand for foreign exchange within the economy. Some of these policies included a foreign exchange access restriction placed on a list of 41 items published by the apex Bank, as well as a ban placed on banks from accepting foreign currency deposits from customers among others. However, the acceptance, appropriateness and effectiveness of these policies remain largely debated across board. Despite the measures and instrument utilised by the apex Bank, the nation’s external reserves dipped to a recent all-time low of US$ 29.04 billion by December 2015. This lent some more credits to the critics of the Central Bank of Nigeria in its continuous defence of the country’s currency. While some economic schools of thought believed that a free trading
Naira remains a panacea to the foreign exchange shortage in the economy, the Apex Bank insisted an official exchange rate of 197 Naira to the Dollar, post its February devaluation from 168 Naira to the Dollar. As a matter of fact by the last month of the Year 2015 the Naira had fallen to its lowest ebbs of value in its entire history at that time of 282 Naira to the Dollar in the parallel market.
Basking in the aftermath of becoming the largest economy in Africa, sequel to the rebasing of the nation’s GDP which was done in the Year 2014, electioneering kicked off in the country. This indeed gave an albeit “false” impression of the structure of the economy to quite a lot of Nigerians, which made some sect of the citizenry think the economy was gradually gravitating away from over dependence on oil and gas resources based on perhaps, misinterpretation and miscommunication of the rebased GDP. An understanding of performance of sectors of an economy may however be unable to explain how a developing economy’s service sector would continue to succeed without an initial and sustained success in other tangible sectors. Nigerians however, woke up to the ongoing economic reality that was veiled by the attention given to the election, and failure of political parties to debate and campaign on real issues, when the newly elected regime realised the underlying economic performance and the enormity of job to be done. The economy recorded an average GDP growth of 3.05 per cent in the first three quarters of the year 2015 in comparison to a 6.33 per cent of similar period of 2014. Indeed this weak performance has highly been attributed to the steep decline in the international oil and commodity prices, falling investor confidence as a result of delay in the new cabinet appointment and the governments strong stance on the nation’s currency vis-a-vis the foreign exchange, as well as continued policy inconsistency.
Subsequent quarters have however, seen the country record one of its most felt recession in its recent democratic sojourn. The government and really all Nigerians are looking for a way out. While the government initially failed to accept and come to terms with the economic reality presented by statistical figures, leading to a lot of controversial statements and arguments leaving the everyday Nigerian not necessarily in the dark, but perhaps more confused than in the dark with statements such as “technical recession” “official recession” “economic slowdown amongst others. Just recently the government has agreed that the economy is indeed in recession, the throwing around of terminologies however still continues. Recently an affiliate of the CBN termed the current situation to be a stagflation perhaps one may choose to argue further that what the nation is in, is a bit more than that and dub it is a “contraflation” since it is commonly argued that Nigeria is completely unique in all of its economic phenomenon.
In a bid to come out of the current situation which is been presented as an unexpected predicament to the populace leading to continued trading of blames and advices across board between political parties and loyalist and economic enthusiast on various platforms. Suddenly it appears that Nigeria has become a nation of over 180 million economists. One thing that rather remains a call for more concern is the continuous policy contradictions and dispute between the fiscal and monetary arms of the economy. Whatever happened to the “ISLM” curve propositions in a time like this, when one would expect adequate coordination between both arms, to ensure the right mix of policy to stimulate the economy out of the current situation remains a question that bothers the mind.
It has however become the habit of both arms to communicate concerns to each other via the media, sending out the wrong signal to business owners as well as potential investors. If there is anything more important for the economy today, it is perhaps stability and policy coordination. One would expect the government to have an economic “war room” made up of the both the fiscal and monetary arms as well as the finest and experienced economists which Nigeria certainly does parade perhaps the most decent army of in the developing world, as against the continued trade of words and fancy appearance of officials of both arms in media houses, communicating contradictory views and causing more chaos. It however appears that there is a rather unhealthy relationship between both bodies of the nation’s economy with each trying to shift the blame to the other or at best clear its name in the situation, which will indeed do the country no good than further economic fall, as time is of essence. For example due to this continued media trips the CBN has been castigated on their various policy and forced to shift stance quite a number of times without any rigorous basis or explanation.
While on the one hand a popular rhetoric of criticizing the monetary stance of the CBN for not controlling for the high cost of credit is widely spreading, on the other hand, an understanding of the Nigerian money market and how it has fared over the years may provide an explanation to their continued monitoring of money supply through the various transmission mechanisms available to them in an attempt to keep inflation in check. Understanding that the current inflation experienced in the country is largely cost push type inflation and not originally demand pull, hence a supply deficit, it would be expected that policies to ease availability of credit will be pursued. The current pressure on consumer prices are however more closely associated with structural factors such as infrastructural deficit, shocks associated with energy price hikes and shortages, reform related legacies as well as forex supply deficit to facilitate import based on the high import dependence of the
nation. It however becomes imperative for the fiscal arm to ensure ease of structural cost of production to boost domestic production to enable a reduced pressure on consumer prices and forex demand as well. Perhaps more interesting is some new data put out by the CBN that opines that only about a meagre 100 accounts account for over 40 percent of the credit facilities accessed within the Nigerian financial market of over 40 million account holders. This gives an understanding of the monetary policy stance and context within which it operates.
A careful trace of how the nation got to where it found itself today suggests decades of wasteful spending but primarily the reduction in foreign earnings and government revenue leading to reduction in government expenditure and ultimately a fiscal disequilibrium. If tackling the root cause is anything to go by, forging a way out of this current situation therefore has to not be left to the monetary arm but finding a way to stimulate or substitute for government revenue falls as well as foreign earnings. Indeed various quick fix options have been put on the table by the government to surge up revenue such as the suicidal sale of national assets which perhaps only begs the question but fails to address any fundamental challenge that has brought the nation to its current situation. The discovery of oil accompanied with its resultant sudden gush of “free money” which is similar to that of the foreign aid ineffectiveness scenarios creates incentives for inefficiency and reduces incentives for accountability. This then accords a deleterious shunting of learning by doing process, which is embedded in incremental development process that will engender waste, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. This is so, owing to the natural resource “money gush” that comes in magnitudes that the machineries of governance and the economy is not ready to cope with as seen in the “Dutch disease”. This which explains as when an economy experiences a resource boom, production in the non-traded sector expands at the detriment of the traded sector. This shrinkage in the traded sector would lead to a socially inefficient growth, as seen in the current situation of Nigeria. However it remains fundamental to understand that the word which readily comes to the mind of anyone who has a basic economic understanding when commodity market of any such is mentioned is volatility.
A closer look at the narrative suggesting sale of assets suggests one thing and one thing alone, that there is an assumption in some quarters that the price of oil would pick up soon. Sale of asset at this current point in time where both the oil market and the Nigerian economy is down will only lead to what is often termed on the Nigerian street as “Bad Market” as the
asset will grossly be undervalued. Going further, in the situation where the price of oil fails to pick up and which remains a viable possibility after the proceeds from the initial sales have been expended or in future oil price crashes will the country sell its people or what will it sell this time?
Another viable option which can be easily put on the table is to increase internally generated revenue through increasing taxation base, and giving of targets to agencies. However a careful analysis of this may reveal that this may be doing the nation more evil than good at the current point in time, as the original problem emanates from the fall in government external earnings and not internal. A sudden rise in the level of stimulation of internal revenues in the face of an already contracting economy may possibly end up having an undesirable effect on the living standards of the everyday Nigerian. A classical analogy of a small business producing little home-made products, which can serve as an alternative for imported brands, that hither to, required little or no agency registration, will due to the overzealous drive of agencies in meeting their target be shut out of the market, with outrageous compliance requirements. This indeed will not only worsen living standard for the households whose breadwinners work in such businesses, (which account for a large portion of the under-employed population) as some of them may lose their jobs, but will also continue to put pressure on the exchange rate as there will be no substitute for imported goods. While an increased taxation base and effective and efficient taxation framework remains a welcome idea as it not only increases revenue but it also has potentials to stimulate demand for accountability, the timing however may not be right considering the survival difficulties faced by everyday Nigerians at the moment.
However, any effective roadmap to recovery for Nigeria will be such that addresses the initial root-cause of dwindling revenue as that can insulate the economy against future market busts. This however becomes impossible without massive investments. While alternative revenue sources such as taxation can be adopted after recovery, as its implementation at the moment may only lead to more contraction and worsened living standards, recovery however becomes impossible without initial investment. Indeed all growth models have agreed on the role of investment on capital in key sectors in driving growth, new growth models have also emphasised the role of investment in human capital to transform capital investment to growth. This will not only lead to growth but also reduce dependence on importation thereby easing pressure on the Naira. Perhaps a suitable option available to the government which may eventually become inevitable is to obtain foreign credit from the most friendly
development finance creditors available that will not hold the nation down with too much unfriendly conditionality. With a debt to GDP ratio of less than 12 percent making Nigeria the least debtor nation in the major emerging markets (BRICS and MINT economies). Ostensibly, apart from Russia and Indonesia with debt to GDP ratios 17.7 percent and 27.20 percent respectively as at the end of 2015, Nigeria remains the only emerging market with less than 30 percent debt to GDP ratio. This indeed gives room to incur some more debts, on the premise that it will be judiciously utilised to stimulate domestic production and reduce import dependence to save the Naira. Also comparing of notes by both fiscal and monetary arms to ensure policy coordination and direction thereby restoring confidence in the economy remains crucial.
Incurring of foreign credit however does not hold any solution in itself to solving the current situation as it actually poses a threat to the nation’s future economic prosperity in the absence of good and rigorous economic management philosophy. This and indeed in most serious sense of it can however only be functional if there is a well-articulated plan on REASONABLE investment in critical sectors, devoid of the waste culture that has up till date continued to batter this country. Perhaps if there is anything more disgraceful is the unexplainably high cost of running governance alongside with the waste culture in the country and which has made the country to be the “Nitrous oxide” in the committee of nations. If there is anything that can help in this current situation is putting an eternal stop to this high governance cost as well as its resultant waste habit and the culture that emanates from the free “oil money”. Perhaps if this is checked and the nation looks within the enormous amount going to wasteful government consumption expenditure can be enough to retract the nation to a brighter future. Nigeria as it stands today not only engages in wasteful expenditure but also lacks rigour in thinking process of its people and policy formation. This can however only be so as the education system in itself has not been able to effectively optimise its existence. It therefore becomes sad when employers lament the “unemployability” of Nigerian graduates. However this can only be explained by taking a trip to the Youth Service corps camps and realize the inability of a larger percentage of Nigerian graduates to engage in intellectual discussions and the very basic and utter lack of rigour in their thinking process. More interestingly is the role religion is playing in this whole setting. Religion posits that life is but a mere passage consoling weakling mind of Nigerians, and explaining that contentment is key however this only holds for the everyday Nigerian. While religion in itself is good and contentment is crucial for a happy life, its misinterpretation in nation building can only be explained by snap-shotting the Nigerian economy. Rigour remains a vital word that should be stamped in the hearts of Nigerians in forging a way forward for the nation as can be seen in all prosperous nations today from Malaysia, Norway, Germany, China, Singapore and the rest. The level of rigour that goes into anything will reflect in its output at both micro and macro scale and this is perhaps what Nigeria lacks, hence our continues vulnerability to exogenous variables. For example, the level of rigour that goes into thinking will reflect in the quality of policies that the nation will have. Similarly the lack of rigour to add Value to Oil and other raw material we export (if any, apart from human-beings) hence our continued vulnerability to commodity market busts and import dependence.
Certainly, there are tested frameworks on exiting a recession, however in the face of lack of an economic structure, the performance of these frameworks cannot be guaranteed. A lot of calls have been made towards diversification, but exactly what the nation should diversify to have not been clearly stated. Calls towards going back to agriculture certainly is crucial but this in itself does not secure the Nigerian economy from any international fluctuations and will still leave price stability difficult to achieve, as agriculture in itself remains in the commodity market. As a matter of fact the nature of agriculture that is needed today in Nigeria is such that is machinery intensive. There is need for serious policy coordination to ensure that the economy becomes productive not just in primary products but to ensure that value addition processes are stimulated within the economy coupled with self-sufficiency in largely food and basic manufactured products to reduce pressure on Naira and stimulate job creation. This coupled with favorable incentives targeted at such sectors have potentials to stabilize the economy and reduce unemployment.
While on the one hand there is urgent need for government to find effective channels through which it can reflate the abysmally contracting economy, on the other hand, there is need to control the astronomically rising inflation, as prices in this context tend to have a “roof-sticking” nature, which therefore makes it difficult to control in the “prosperous” future. Evidently, it can be said that the Nigerian economy is in dire times as it deals with these seemingly divergently parallel phenomena. Considering the structure of the Nigerian economy which is unequivocally skewed towards the informal sector, policies however require more rigour than anywhere else to effectively accommodate the informal sector. It indeed remains germane for the government to understand that Nigeria is a fragile state and any economic policy being considered by the government must equally factor in the manifestations of the various dimensions of fragility exhibited in the country into its considerations as the contexts of growth and development in such economies have continued to evolve in recent times.

Laniran Temitope Joseph
Ph.D. Candidate Economics and Development Studies, University of Bradford
Research Associate John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies, Bradford, and Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, Ibadan

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official stance or position of any of the above named institutions.

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 4th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

JEFCAS Seminar Series: Birthplace, bloodline and beyond

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 12 October 2016

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey, University of Oxford

 Birthplace, bloodline and beyond: how ‘Liberian citizenship’ is currently constructed in Liberia and abroad.

Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

As a twenty-first century post-war, emigrant-sending country, Liberia reflects global citizenship norms while simultaneously departing from them, and this unique positioning offers new opportunity to theorise citizenship across spatial and temporal landscapes. I examine ‘Liberian citizenship’ construction through a historical prism, arguing that as Liberia transformed from a country of immigration to one of emigration, so too did conceptualisations of citizenship – moving from passive, identity-based citizenship emphasising rights and entitlements to more active, practice-based citizenship privileging duties and responsibilities.

About Dr Robtel Pailey: Robtel is a Liberian academic, activist and author with over a decade of combined professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America. Her areas of research expertise include migration, citizenship, Diasporas, development, transnationalism, conflict, post-war recovery, governance, and the political economy of aid, trade and remittances.

Robtel’s research and writing have appeared in the 2016 book The New Humanitarians in International Practice: Emerging Actors and Contested Principles; the 2014 book Leadership in Post-Colonial Africa: Trends Transformed by Independence; the 2010 African literature reader Tales, Tellers and Talemaking: Critical Studies on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles in Contemporary African Literature; the 2007 book From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa; as well as scholarly journals including Citizenship Studies, the Liberian Studies Journal (LSJ) and Humanitas.

Dr Pailey currently serves as a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s International Migration Institute (IMI).

Adam Curle Symposium: Peaceful Relations and the Transformation of the World

An Academic-Practitioner Dialogue on Peace in the 21st Century: 5-6 September 2016, University of Bradford

Fourth July 2016 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Adam Curle, peace scholar, Quaker activist international mediator and Founding Chair of Peace Studies at Bradford. To mark the occasion, Bradford’s Peace Studies Division is hosting the Adam Curle Centenary Symposium. Academics and practitioners around the world are invited to a dialogue on peace in the 21st Century in the light of Curle’s philosophy and practice.

Curle’s approach to Peace Studies was interdisciplinary, drawing on an academic career that spanned anthropology, psychology, education and development. It was also practical , reflecting experience in peacemaking and development in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Balkans. These academic disciplines and practical experiences informed his conception of “peaceful relationships”, which he regarded as key to understanding peace and conflict at different levels, from the quest for individual peace to the negotiation of settlements to interstate wars.

Curle drew further inspiration from a range of religious teachings, particularly those of Tibetan Buddhism and he remained a member of the Society of Friends and much of his peace work was conducted with the support of the Quakers. He used these to inform a trenchant critique not only of what he called the “futility” of violence, but also of the materialism and ignorance which he regarded as underlying it. This prompted Curle to regard the broad promotion of development and education as intimately connected to the practice of peacemaking and mediation.

Curle’s emphasis on “peaceful relations” is a highly original theorisation of approaches to peace practice, and it has informed the ethos of Peace Studies at Bradford, which Curle created in 1973. In his book, Tools for Transformation, Curle divided his work into three broad strands: peacemaking, social change/development and education, and these will be the three streams of the Centenary Symposium, alongside one on arts and peace to reflect the importance Curle, a musician and poet, gave the arts in peacemaking.

The symposium aims to strengthen interdisciplinary and practice-oriented explorations of peaceful relations in the 21st Century and to assess the ongoing relevance of Curle’s ideas to the challenges the world faces today.

YASN Conference 2016: Transitions’ from what to what? Justice and Reconciliation in Africa

The 2016 Yorkshire African Studies Network (YASN) Conference is scheduled for Friday 18th November 2016 at the University of Bradford and is supported by JEFCAS.

The conference aims to subject to scrutiny the realms of criminal justice, social justice and reconciliation in Africa. This is not envisaged as a narrow field; the conference is designed to include all elements of international criminal justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, localized notions of retributive, restorative and re-distributive justice, and ideas of social justice linked to themes as broad as poverty, gender, land and societal cleavages. The conference, however, aims also to interrogate the notion of ‘transition’. Often applied to societies deemed in need of change, the important questions of what is envisaged and what actually happens are accompanied by an even more fundamental uncertainty as to whether ‘transition’ is indeed an appropriate term for these processes.

Guest speaker: Dr Phil Clark (SOAS)

We welcome applications from PhD students, researchers and academics focusing on the above issues in any part of the African continent from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. Please submit 300-word abstracts for papers to be presented at the conference to Dr David Harris ( by 30th September 2016. We will let you know as soon as possible after the deadline whether your paper proposal has been accepted.
This call for papers is open to all academics, researchers and postgraduate students whether they are based in Yorkshire or elsewhere.

Times and schedules will be confirmed in due course.

The Yorkshire Africa Studies Network is comprised of the Universities of Bradford, Durham, Hull, Leeds, Leeds Trinity, Sheffield and York. Find out more about YASN at


University of Bradford – Mount Kenya University Capacity – Building Partnership

Professor David Francis visited the Mount Kenya University in Nairobi, and the University main campus in Thika between 27- 28 June, 2016, where he held meetings with the University Vice Chancellor Professor Stanley Wando and other Senior administrators on the prospect for capacity –building partnership with the University of Bradford.


The envisioned partnership will support the development of curricula in context-relevant areas of Peace and Security studies starting with the Master of Science in Peace and Social Enterprise, an international conference on Peace and Security in Africa, as well as an International Journal of Peace and Social Enterprise.

MKU offers a variety of programmes in peace and security studies through its Institute of Security Studies, Justice and Ethics. University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies, which Professor Francis heads, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014. The two institutions have agreed to work together on Staff capacity training/mentorship and exchange programmes. “Lack of information on available opportunities has been a hindrance to African academics,” said Professor Waudo. “But this relationship opens a treasure trove of information. Our staff, for instance, will now have information on Commonwealth scholarships available.” Professor David is a Commissioner for the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.


Joint Federal Government of Ethiopia – University of Bradford 50th Anniversary Africa Regional Conference, 23 – 24 June 2016

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the University of Bradford (UoB) held a two-day joint regional conference on Global Education for Peace in Africa to mark the 50th anniversary of the University of Bradford. The conference was held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 23rd and 24th June 2016. The Conference had three main objectives:

  • To bring together high-level continental agencies, strategic partners, political leaders, policy makers, practitioners, students and University of Bradford alumni to share ideas and develop a concrete programme of action on Global Education for Peace in Africa.
  • To strengthen the role of the University of Bradford in promoting global education for peace with particular reference to the African region.
  • To celebrate the University of Bradford’s 50th Anniversary with our International Partners and Alumni.

The official opening of the conference was performed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and a distinguished alumnus of the University of Bradford H.E. Dr Demeke Mekonnen. Speakers at the historic conference include:

  1. H.E. Dr Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia
  2. Professor Brian Cantor, Vice Chancellor, University of Bradford
  3. H.E. Ato Shiferaw Shigutie, Ethiopian Federal Minister of Education
  4. Dr Getachew Engida, UNESCO Deputy Director-General, Paris
  5. Dr Admasu Tsegaye, Addis Ababa University President, Ethiopia
  6. Professor Donna Lee. Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford
  7. Professor David Francis, Head, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
  8. Dr Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Head Crisis Management and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Division, Peace and Security Department, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  9. Peter Hare, Peacekeeping English Project Adviser, British Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  10. Selamawit Alemayehu, Regional Programme Manager, Schools Programme, Sub-Saharan Africa, British Council, Nairobi, Kenya
  11. Prof Pamela Machakanja, Director, Institute for Peace, Leadership and Governance, Africa University, Mutare, Zimabawe
  12. Dr Arthur Bainomugisha, Executive Director, Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, Kampala, Uganda
  13. Professor Oshita O. Oshita, Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Office of the Presidency, Abuja, Nigeria

The conference theme of peace and the regional focus on Africa are key areas of strength for the University of Bradford as a leading Technology University. 40 years ago, the University established the School of Peace Studies, which has emerged not only as a global brand but also the world’s largest academic centre of excellence for peace and conflict research. Its internationally recognised Africa Centre (the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies [JEFCAS]) has established education-for-peace capacity-building programmes and institutes at 25 universities in 20 African countries.

The golden jubilee anniversary conference was divided into four plenary panels. The first three plenaries explored thematic issues on the global education for peace, the African context of peace education, the impact of the University of Bradford as a world-leading technology university on peace, education and economic development; the historical role of the African Union in peace-making on the continent, the contribution of UNECSO-Africa in education-for-peace, the impact of African universities in promoting Education-for-peace, the interface between the British Council’s schools programme in Sub-Saharan Africa and peace education, the flagship role of the federal government of Ethiopia in mainstreaming and institutionalising peace education into Ethiopian schools system, etc.

The last conference plenary was a University of Bradford’s Alumni special forum on the ‘Global Evidence of Making Knowledge Work.’ The panellists discussed in significant detail their academic experiences as post-graduate degree students at the University of Bradford and how they have applied the academic knowledge and skills acquired from Bradford in contributing to national and regional conflict intervention, security, peace-building and development. The various plenaries were followed by highly interactive and engaging question and answer sessions.

One of the key policy recommendations of stakeholders at this epochal golden jubilee anniversary conference was the need to mainstream peace education into the curricula of schools and other educational institutions on the continent using a regional framework. Uganda was chosen to host the first in the series of the follow-up conferences to develop modalities for this important regional peace education project. The Ugandan follow-up conference on Global Education for Peace in Africa (Phase 2) has been tentatively scheduled to take place in Kampala in October 2017.

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New article by Emma Jones on pragmatic peace and East African insecurity

Emma Jones is a Programme Assistant with Advocates Coalition of Development and Environment (ACODE). In this below piece she writes about the necessity of peace perspectives in framing security in East Africa, and presents a review of a recent 2-day conference in which JEFCAS was involved.

From a Refugee Camp to Bradford University

[Eritrea's diaspora is one of the largest refugee communities in the world; in Israel (above protest) they are among many immigrants subject to draconian policy and detention]

Tesfalem H. Yemane is a current Peace Sutdies MA at the University of Bradford. Originally from Eritrea, he is a scholar at risk and refugee.

Tafaslem (1)Fear and uncertainty have been the biggest enemies of mine since I left my country in 2010. But now, I find myself sitting in the office of

Professor David J Francis, a man of overflowing and reassuring academic aura. After months of nail-biting wait, I am offered a place at the Division of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Going through the memories of the past five years of my life, I whispered, “I should be wary of resting on my laurels now.” For a person of my background, education and hard-work are the only gateways for countless opportunities. I should be grounded!

My life journey is that of many Eritrean youths’. At independence, the country was dubbed by many as the beacon of hope and renaissance in Africa. Its leadership, along with those of Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi and Rwanda’s Kagame, was touted as the new breed in African leadership. In the heat of such euphoria and jubilations, we ostensibly boasted on turning the new nation into ‘the Singapore of Africa’. Those dreams have been shattered and we tuck Professor Gaim Kibreab’s book, ‘Eritrea: A Dream Deferred‘ under our pillows. The book explores the national euphoria at independence and the disappointing disjuncture that has resulted in a dystopian society thanks to the regime’s siege mentality.

In the aftermath of the devastating 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrea war, the country has turned into a giant prison wherein forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and severe curtailment of freedom of expression and movement are the norm. There is zero tolerance to dissidence and any legal procedures have been a hard sell to the ‘democratic novices’, to borrow Professor Chandra L. Sriram’s phrase. Under the pretext of existential threat, from its favourite bogey, Ethiopia, the regime has employed a pervasive security apparatus that has virtually controlled every aspect of the citizens’ lives. Eritrea is a society under siege and the dream of making the country a major trading terminus in the strategic part of the Red Sea has been sorely deferred.

The leadership’s anti-intellectual culture has forced many bright minds into exile. The only university that operated with an internationally accredited academic standard was deliberately dismantled in 2006, and with it, the hope of nurturing a mass of critical thinkers in the Eritrean body politic poignantly gone. Accompanied by media concoctions, six sub-standard and militarized colleges were hastily grafted in different parts of the country. And in an invasive manner, parallel party and paramilitary structures were put in place to create a numbing duplication of tasks and tight control of the Eritrean youth.  

A state of a crumbling economy, indefinite military service and the lethargy of oppressive hopelessness have forced the youth to ‘vote with their feet’ and embark on the perilous journeys. It was in this context that I decided to vote with my feet in April 2010, never to set foot again. Because of the regime’s imprudent macroeconomic and impulsive diplomatic decisions, the state of the economy was very precarious in the 2000s. In fact, the brunt and wrinkles of the notorious coupon economy were so humiliating that I was excited to find out basic food commodities were in good supply when I first arrived in Sudan. I spent more than two months in the Hobbesian-like and desolate refugee camp in the periphery of eastern Sudan before I was smuggled to the capital.  

Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.
Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.

While in Sudan, I envied the relative freedom of expression presentin the East African country. I bore witness when many Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum, rattling, “The people of Sudan are hungry!” in April 2012. Having said this, however, I should be cautious of vindicating the authoritarian government in Khartoum. As oppressive as it is, Khartoum’s strong handedness pales in comparison with Asmara’s.

In Uganda, a country infamously known for its rampant corruption, I bore witness to people taking to the streets to demand their President heed to public concerns and corrupt officials be held accountable. I also noted many newspapers publicising information about corrupt officials, police officers and the government.

My time in China was an eye opening cultural and intellectual ride. Those late night discussions, debates and questions about the merits and demerits of a developmental state and state capitalism shaped my worldview. Those many discussions about the dialectics of Washington Consensus and Beijing Consensus were reconciled by the synthesis of Geneva Consensus during my memorable years in China.

The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.
The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.

However, there was a downside to such a pleasant experience in China-that I was a refugee in a student’s body. I had to struggle to conceal my story from many of my wonderful classmates; because I did not want to have a different identity. I lacked the emotional and intellectual maturity to come out and share my story and the story of my compatriots. And that was the most painful episode of my amazing time in China.

I also realized the mismatch between the China of Mao as emulated in Eritrea and the current China and its politico-economic policies. The Eritrean regime serenades in the past achievements of the armed struggle while China has moved away from Mao’s disastrous policies. And thanks to the Isaias Afewerki’s short politico-military training in China in the late 1960s, we sing the ‘Red’ song louder than the Chinese do. The Eritrean leadership still dances to Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’ rhetoric while the Chinese themselves have moved on and started reaping the rewards of Deng Xiaoping’s economic vision.

On Eritrea, I still remain positive that my country will have its Godsend Lee Kuan Yew sooner than later-a leader who rectifies the malaise the nation finds itself in and Professor Alex de Waal is convinced to backtrack his Museum of Modernism tag on the current state of affairs in the country.


Upcoming JEFCAS Seminar- NATO’s Tim Randall speaks on stabilization efforts in Mogadishu

This coming WednesdayNATO’s Stabilization Planner, Tim Randall, will be leading the December JEFCAS seminar his organization’s work in the Somali capital.

Read the abstract for the seminar here.

The seminar will take place Wednesday 2nd December, 4-6 pm, in Pemberton building room 2.11.


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