Anglican Bishop calls on Nigerian government to quit the UN

ABUJA—The Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to pull out of the United Nations Organization, UNO, if it continued  in its recognition of gay marriage in the guise of promoting fundamental human rights.
The Archbishop, who made the call in Abuja at the human rights consultative forum to define the stance of the church on the issue of human rights and homosexuality, described as a wolf in sheep clothing those championing homosexuality under the guise of human rights advocacy.
His words: “In reaction to the role of the UN human rights groups who were using that platform to fight for the two Malawi boys who got married as homosexuals, I said that if the UNO is now an organ for the advancement of homosexual lifestyle, it was time Nigeria pulled out of that organisation in order to protect the moral health of our nation.
“That Malawi scenario raised many questions in my mind and I believe that many of our church leaders and those others involved in mobilisation and advocacy projects may be having the same problem, because many things are happening rightly or wrongly in the name of human rights.  It has become absolutely necessary to know more about it.
“People were using the UNO as a basis for campaign for general acceptance of homosexuality and we say if that is the situation, then, Nigeria has a moral right to protect its own people and, therefore, Nigeria should not subscribe to that type of tenet.”
“We live our life here; men marry women, women marry men, for anybody to come in the name of human right and begin to advocate that we live without regard to our moral standard is not a friend. This human right is not culturally conditioned.  Doesn’t it have a content?  What is acceptable in China, England, USA, does  it necessarily become acceptable in Nigeria? The Primate queried.
The guest speaker, Dr, Vinay Samuel, from UK in his keynote address, urged Nigerians to be carried away by the quest for human rights that will make them flourish rather than one that was contested, saying every human right must be shaped by the cultural understanding of each area.
He said:  “Nigeria as a much larger nation has to take leadership in seeking to relate human rights to Christian faith and to African culture.
“The church cannot be just defensive in this context. It is a struggle where it must be able to be active in shaping the outcome, not by numbers or moral posturing, but by careful reflection and by proposing substantial alternatives.
“The church is under pressure by the state to align its policies and activities to the view of rights set forth in the states policies and laws. This is very likely the way of the future as states develop policies and laws that are shaped by an understanding of rights that are promoted internationally and businesses, civil society institutions and religious bodies in particular will be forced to comply.
“It is not the universal nature of human person-hood that we are contesting as Christian. It is how the rights within that person-hood are embedded, defined and enforced. This is also true of cultures and the Chinese for one, have long contended that their cultural understanding must shape any set of human rights policies.”


World class finish by Giovanni Dos Santos

Mexico defeated the United States 4-2 today at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, California. The highlight of the Gold Cup final, the premier competition for North and Central American teams, was this (below) world class finish by Giovani Dos Santos, the Mexican striker of Brazilian heritage. His finish on this goal was indeed a reminder to those of us who had seen him at the FIFA U-17 World Cup a few years ago, the enormous talent he is and we are sure to see more of him going forward, I would hope. 



Airbus leaves Boeing reeling at Paris Air Show

Editor's Corner 

Again, may be the top brass and R&D at Boeing haven't gotten it yet, but the demand for fuel-efficient planes is seemingly the deal-braker now, with regard to plane orders in the high-stakes aerospace industry.
France jet maker, Airbus has just sealed a huge deal with AirAsia (Malaysia's low-cost carrier) to buy 200 of its A320 neo jets, in a deal worth around $18b. 
Coming on the heels of an order by India's IndiGo for 180 of the same planes, Airbus continues to rack up orders at the Paris Air Show (PAS), while Boeing languishes far behind.
The newer A320 planes are in very high demand due to the low-cost appeal (with the attendant and proven Airbus quality) of its revamped fuel-efficient engines.
Analysts posit that the healthy demand from buyers at the PAS may be evidence of a much needed upturn in the aviation industry, powered primarily by the emerging markets in Asia.
To add further salt to Boeing's injury, prominent and popular American airline, JetBlue Airways, among others, also announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that entails the purchase of 40 A320 neos.
The MOU will also purportedly allow the New York based airline, the option of converting 30 of its current orders for the A320s to the larger A321 model with its enhanced wing-tip devices (Sharklets).
Airbus which is owned by EADS, has left Boeing essentially reeling, at the Paris Air Show.
While Airbus has taken firm orders for close to 600 aircraft worth around $56b and a further $30b in provisional orders, Boeing has only taken in firm orders for just 47 planes to the tune of a 'paltry' $7.5b with a further $15b in provisional orders.
Airbus Chief Sales Officer, John Leahy is confident that the EADS owned jet maker will ultimately reach the 1000 orders plateau at the event and one only wonders how Boeing will come out, at the end of it all.
The dilemma for Boeing is a rather 'simple' one. The high cost of fuel is driving the demand for more fuel efficient planes and unlike its American competitor, Airbus is giving its customers and potential clients, exactly what they want, quality coupled with requisite cost efficiency, a seemingly long-lost American business mantra.
While the A320 neos burn upto 15% less fuel and are 30% cheaper to maintain, Boeing continues to struggle with the fact that its A320 rival, the 737, has a design 'complication' that makes 'retooling' with regard to fuel efficiency (in particular), next to impossible, but not impossible.
It would require a proposition (a new undercarriage) that in addition to being diificult, is extremely expensive and time-consuming. 
Will Boeing ultimately dare to compete? That is the question that begs a decidedly optimistic answer.

Continue reading on Bad news for Boeing as Airbus seals record deal with AirAsia - Seattle Business and Current Affair |


Youthful Andre Villas-Boas named as new Chelsea manager

Andre Villas-Boas has been confirmed as Chelsea's new manager.
The former Porto boss has signed a three-year deal and is in London on Wednesday preparing to begin work.
Villas-Boas, 33, is the same age as players Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba and won the Portuguese league, League Cup and Europa League last season.
"Andre was the outstanding candidate for the job. He is one of the most talented young managers in football today," Chelsea said in a statement.


  • 1977: Born in Porto 17 October
  • 1993: Works as a trainee under Sir Bobby Robson at Porto
  • 1994: Achieves Uefa C coaching licence in Scotland
  • 2002: Becomes part of Jose Mourinho's staff at Porto
  • 2004: Follows Mourinho to Chelsea
  • 2008: Moves with Mourinho to Inter Milan
  • 2009: Appointed manager of Academica
  • 2010: Named Porto boss
  • 2011: Wins league, cup and Europa League in first season
"He has already achieved much in a relatively short space of time. His ambition, drive and determination matches that of Chelsea and we are confident Andre's leadership of the team will result in greater successes in major domestic and European competitions.
"Andre will bring his coaching experience back to a club he is already very familiar with, having previously worked here for three years. He has always been highly regarded at Chelsea and everyone here looks forward to welcoming him back and working with him."
Chelsea paid the roughly $21.5 million compensation to release the Portuguese coach from his Porto contract, with Villas-Boas succeeding Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked after a trophyless season.
Former Chelsea boss John Hollins believes Villas-Boas could prove to be a shrewd acquisition for the west London club, who are yet to realise owner Roman Abramovich's dream of winning the Champions League, and were beaten in the quarter-finals by Manchester United last season.
"He could be fearless," Hollins told BBC Sport. "I think it could be a breath of fresh air, bringing in a fresh approach to this maybe tired football team.
"This guy is as young as some of the players are so he will be on the same wavelength with them, but is it going to be a three or four-year program as opposed to having to win something in his first year? That is the one thing we don't know yet, but he has won three competitions in Portugal just like that, so he could be a whizz-kid.
"It's a gamble but I think it's a calculated gamble. I still don't know if Guus Hiddink will be coming as an adviser to the young man. If he does, that will only strengthen the position."
Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin agrees with Hollins that the appointment of Villas-Boas is a "calculated gamble".
"There is always a risk with every managerial appointment but he is highly regarded as one of the up and coming young European coaches and has been successful in domestic and European competition," Nevin told BBC Sport. "He is flavour of the moment and Chelsea have seen something in him."

Under Villas-Boas last season, Porto were unbeaten in the league, with 27 wins in 30 matches, becoming only the second Portuguese club to complete a league campaign without losing a game, after Benfica in 1972-73.
A scout for compatriot Jose Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, Villas-Boas began his managerial career with Portuguese club Academica in October 2009.
Academica were winless and bottom of the first division at the time but finished the season in 11th place.
They also reached a Portuguese League Cup semi-final before he left to take over at Porto in June 2010.
Villas-Boas, who speaks fluent English, also worked with Sir Bobby Robson during the former England manager's spell in charge of Porto.

Source: BBC Sports

War criminal Omar al-Bashir threatens to shut oil pipelines if deal not reached with South Sudan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has threatened to shut pipelines carrying South Sudan's oil if a deal on oil is not reached before it secedes in July.
He said either the south could continue to hand over half of its oil revenue to the north, or it could pay for using the north's oil infrastructure.
Mr Bashir warned that if neither was accepted, he would block the pipeline.
Three-quarters of Sudan's oil is in the south, but most pipelines, refineries and the main port are in the north.
Southerners voted for independence in a referendum in January. 
'Three alternatives'
President Bashir made his threat in a speech at a rally in Port Sudan - the main oil export terminal - which was broadcast on national television.
"I give the south three alternatives for the oil," he said.
"The north is to continue getting its share, or the north gets fees for every barrel that the south sends to Port Sudan," he added. "If they don't accept either of these, we're going to block the pipeline."
The BBC's James Copnall in the capital, Khartoum, says oil accounts for about 98% of the south's income, so any reduction in the oil flow would be disastrous.
The government of South Sudan has floated the idea of building a new pipeline through Kenya or Uganda, but this would take several years, our correspondent adds.
Talks are continuing between northern and southern Sudan about oil and other vital pre-independence issues, including citizenship and the disputed border region of Abyei.
Last month, the northern army seized control of the disputed region of Abyei, but a deal was reached on Monday which will see it withdraw and be replaced by Ethiopian peacekeepers.

A new report published by the House of Lords, the UK's upper chamber of parliament, highlights the many issues that will bedevil future Sudanese relations, including oil.
Abdullahi al-Azreg, Sudan's UK ambassador, told the committee preparing the report that Norway had been advising both sides on negotiations for the split.
"They have suggested a kind of financial transitioning in which Sudan - the predecessor state - will have 50% of the oil revenue, but this percentage will diminish to zero over six years," he said.
South Sudan's UK envoy Daniel Peter Othol said the south would consider its options, and that building an alternative pipeline through Kenya could take three years to complete.
"Some of our leaders say: 'We are not going to share the oil if the south becomes independent. We are only going to rent the pipeline,'" he said. 

"Given the conditions attached to the revenue of the oil, the rent of the pipeline could be even higher. We have to see which way is better for the south to benefit from the oil."

The report - The EU and Sudan: on the Brink of Change - says that in the last six years the south has received around $11bn (£6.8bn) from its oil so far, but there is little to show for these revenues.
It also pointed to other obstacles the south will have to overcome - endemic poverty, corruption and the proliferation of weapons.
The report concludes that "the risk that the new country of South Sudan will fail as a state is high, even if the international community maintains the current levels of assistance and support".
Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa
The great divide across Sudan is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image (above) shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. Southern Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Source: BBC Africa


How multinationals continue to deprive Africa of needed revenue

By James Chimuka

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - African nations such as Zambia are often seen as grossly corrupt. Yet it is corporate tax "avoidance" on the part of mining companies that costs the nation hundreds of millions annually, while lining the pockets of middle-men in countries such as Switzerland. And the much-lauded Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) may help - rather than hinder, this reality.

Zambia recently became the 26th country to publish the EITI report, disclosing payments from mining companies for the year 2008. The EITI standard is meant to "facilitate transparency" by assessing net discrepencies between resource rents, for example: royalties and taxes, remitted by multinationals and received by governments.

The primary intention of the EITI report, backed by many of the world's major extractive or resource-seeking multinationals including Shell, Chevron, Vale, BHP Billiton, Anglo-American and others, is to eliminate corruption by shining a light on the flow of revenue. Describing companies as "complicit" in corruption limited to the criminogenic environments in which they are required to operate, the EITI system claims that reduced reputational risk is a tremendous upside for foreign investors and corporate entities.

Eliminating corruption?

Currently, Zambia is one of twenty-four EITI candidate countries, of which more than half are African, including Tanzania, Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso - among others. Already, five of eleven EITI "compliant" nations are African - many of them surprising choices - think Nigeria, Niger, and Liberia.

According to Clare Short, head of the EITI system and former British secretary of state for international development, a ministry created under then-Prime Minister Tony Blair - who announced the initiative in 2002 as a joint project of the UK and the World Bank - once a country joins EITI, all companies operating within the "host" country must make full disclosures.

The logic goes that, so long as there is disclosure of cash payments within national boundaries, transparency will act as a natural sanction - diminishing the potential for, and realisation of, corruption.

It is a logic that appears to bank on political or "demand-side" corruption, chiefly innate to the developing country's character - with corporations simply "going along" with the system - a kind of "when in Rome" response.

But the EITI theory is vastly different from the reality and has more to do with corporate and "first world" country supply-side corruption. Zambia's first report, for instance, revealed that mining companies remitted $463 million in payments to the government in 2008. The EITI report claims "significant discrepencies" noting a net total of "unresolved discrepencies" of $66 million.

In that same year - 2008, much of Zambia's exported copper, almost half of which was earmarked for Switzerland, never arrived at its destination - disappearing into thin air. Moreover, the pricing structure for Swiss copper - remarkably similar to Zambia's exported copper - was six times higher than the funds Zambia received, facilitating a potential loss of some $11.4bn. This is especially interesting when taking into account that Zambia's entire GDP for 2008 was $14.3bn.

Glencore's lucrative policies

This type of corporate corruption - known as transfer mispricing, made headlines recently when a leaked report authored by Grant Thornton at the request of the Zambia Revenue Agency (ZRA) unpacked how the Glencore-controlled lucrative Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) - a company which declared no profits, was cheating the country's tax base of copper revenue.

The auditors disclosed that MCM tried "resisting the pilot audit at every stage", rendering them unable to access crucial data in many instances. MCM's chief executive, Emmanuel Mutati, claimed that the audit was not accurate, precisely because data was inaccurate. Yet Glencore, the world's largest commodity trader, controlling 50 per cent of the global copper market, is confident that MCM will be "exonerated".

In all probability, Glencore will be saying that transfer pricing is perfectly legal and central to trade. But the nature of "arms-length transfer pricing" within the current deregulated global financial architecture, enables multinationals (conducting as much as 60 per cent of global trade within - rather than between - corporations) to "self-regulate" pricing.

So, though pricing, in theory, is determined according to "market values", in reality, the "corporate veil" facilitates tremendous mispricing when subsidiaries of the same company trade with one another - the means through which Glencore allegedly purchased grade +1 copper well below market prices, with MCM allegedly preferring - all too often, the lowest price offered by a Glencore subsidiary, described by the audit as an act likely for buyers, not sellers, who would experience diminished profits.

Glencore International AG, based in Switzerland, the world's leading secrecy jurisdiction, handpicked by Glencore founder and notorious commodity trader Marc Rich, further enables the company to take further advantage of little or no taxation.

Tax havens such as Switzerland are essential to resource-seeking corporations operating in Africa: more than 85 per cent of asset portfolios for sub-Saharan Africa passes through tax havens. In Zambia, MCM's structure - like that of Vedanta and others, keenly utilises tax havens as vehicles for shell companies able to access legal and financial opacity tools including banking secrecy, thin capitalisation, little or no taxation, zero disclosure of company accounts, use of nominees, and - best of all - high-level client confidentiality, all of which is entirely legal.

Mining and tax havens

Thus, however illicit, by outsourcing the commercialised sovereignty of tax havens, transfer mispricing, when realised through tax avoidance, is legal within select jurisdictions. The financial geography of MCM is located almost entirely in tax havens: though a Zambian company, it is 73 per cent owned by Carlisa Investments (a British Virgin Islands company, 82 per cent owned by Bermuda-based Glencore Finance, which is 100 per cent owned by Glencore International AG). MCM's mining partner, holding 18 per cent of Carlisa, is another mining entity active globally and in Zambia - First Quantum.

And while the extractive industry is being promoted rather aggressively as the primary vehicle to kickstart Zambia's real economy, mining companies generate just 2.2 per cent of revenue collected by Zambian authorities, with the bigger percentage of tax derived from withheld taxes paid by workers. The result? Just 4.4 per cent of actual taxes remitted from the already minute sum paid by mining houses comprises corporate tax. This is a particularly nifty boutique tax product called Total Tax Contribution, created by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which helps corporations avoid taxation.

Zambia's government acknowledged that the country missed cashing in on the 2004-2008 commodity boom, when copper prices more than tripled. But companies like MCM don't have to pay the new royalty rates of three per cent - as 20 year stability clauses from secretive development agreements issued soon after privatisation provided the company with arguably the world's lowest royalty rate at 0.6 per cent. This agreement will remain in force until the year 2020. Worse still, had these agreements not been leaked, it would never have come to light that corporate tax rates were effectively zero, thanks to deferments and royalties.

MCM is the largest copper mining operation in Zambia - and Glencore certainly stands to benefit from locking down the copper market, not simply because copper underwires the modern world, but also because it is fundamental to renewable energy. In fact, shortages are estimated to drive up the price of copper from it current historic high at $9,000 per tonne, to that of about $11,000 by 2013, elevated in large parts by the demands of emerging nations such as China, the world's largest consumer.

Solutions to company operations

Thus, catching revenue leakage through EITI - off the mark by billions - is impossible because it does not focus on what multinationals ought to have paid, only what they have paid, and it never investigates the means through which corporations were able to circumvent taxation.

There are several reasons for this: EITI allows inconsistent standards, limited to national boundaries, despite the international nature of multinational economic activity. And the EITI system, for instance, provides national governments with choices that fragment the legitimacy and accuracy of conclusions - even insofar as they attempt to track cash payments, including whether reporting is mandatory, whether auditing is required, what should be published and the accounting policies used, materiality levels, et cetera.

Aggregated templates used by multinationals - and even the EITI system, prevent scrutiny, for example, of where problems are arising, where they are replicated, how they are realised - whether it has been identified, if problems are being sorted out, and how. The EITI system would easily allow another subsidiary of the same mining company, based in another jurisdiction, to make a corrupt payment to a politician in Zambia. It would allow a company within Zambia, created for shell purposes, to be paid for "services rendered", diminishing tax. Thin capitalisaton would allow for one subsidiary of the same parent company to make high interest loans to the host country subsidiary, diminishing taxable profits. The possibilities are endless - and often utilised.

Of course, there are many solutions, namely that of corporate country-by-country reporting (CbC), created by Richard Murphy, a founder of the Tax Justice Network. This would involve real natural sanctions prohibiting companies from artificially using tax havens (by disclosing the lack of substantial economic activities in these jurisdictions) while also limiting the scope of transfer mispricing.

Elements of CbC include the names of each country in which the multinational operates; the names of all companies trading in each country in which the company operates; the financial performance in each country in which it operates; sales between third parties and other group companies; purchases split between third parties and intra-group transactions; labour costs and employee numbers; financing costs; pre-tax profits; deferred taxation liabilities for the country at the start and close of each accounting period; the actual payments to the government; the tax charge for the split between current and deferred tax and so on.

It is a method inspired by a system already in place in the US. Certainly, critics will claim that transfer mispricing is always possible, but the difference between CbC and EITI, is that with the former, it is exceedingly difficult, whereas with the latter, it is highly probable.

World Bank's push

So why does the EITI allow for so many potential faultlines, vacuums and opt-outs? Like Chile, Zambia historically was one of the world's leading copper producers, extracting and exporting some 700,000 tonnes annually during its "golden peak". Currently, Zambia has hit the 800,000 mark, pegged to exploit more than 1 million tonnes per annum in the next year or so.

Way back when Zambia's copper industry was being privatised, the World Bank pushed for the lowest possible tax and royalty rates, providing companies with the type of secretive development agreements mentioned above. The Bank claimed that the limited intervention of the Zambian government rendered the process the most successful in the region.

Describing Zambia's new system imposed by the "arm-twisting of the World Bank", a 1996 New York Times piece stated: "All exchange controls, tariff barriers and food subsidies have been dropped in the shock-treatment switch-over to rampant capitalism … Virtually everything the state owned is for sale."

For African citizens, the World Bank, perceived as the source of devastating structural adjustment programmes created conditions still haunting countries like Zambia. Until mid-1995, the Bank itself refused to acknowledge the "C-word" - corruption, claiming such to be political and beyond the Bank's mandate.

This was despite the reality that 60 per cent of every dollar provided in external loans left the continent through illicit flight.

It has yet to factor illicit flight in accounting models. Had this been done, sub-Saharan Africa would be unpacked as a global net creditor - as the Bank itself disclosed in a report many years back.

As Treasure Islands author Nick Shaxson reveals in his book, though looted wealth is transformed to private wealth, the empty hole in the public purse is transformed to a public debt. He cites the example of Africans "bearing" the public debts by describing the case of a pretty Angolan girl, forced to bear an infection rotting a hole the size of a golfball in her cheek, because she could not access public healthcare.

Meanwhile, EITI's other backer, the UK, is host to more than half of the world's tax havens: three as British Crown Dependencies (such as Jersey - the corporate hub from which Glencore recently launched an IPO), seven as British Overseas Territories (including world famous hubs such as the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda - where Zambia's multinationals have incorporated and maintained subsidiary entities), and 21 as members of the Commonwealth.

The City of London, a ring-fenced financial district, is one of the world's leading tax havens, previously described by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as "head office" to some of the world's major tax havens.

Put simply, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, these actors - including the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) - comprising the world's most powerful nations and its leading donors, may be seen as benefitting from the impoverishment of African regions.

Capital losses

Each year, Africa loses a minimum of $148bn - almost four times the sum of foreign aid it receives, to capital flight - of which 60 per cent is due to corporate mispricing. Clearly, the solution toward enabling African countries to recover their lost revenue and become economically independent, is to block revenue leakages, rather than provide further loans and grants characterised by conditionalities that undermine development.

Yet, even as 60 per cent of non-grant revenue is generated by resource rents, constituting a main source of income for African nations, many of them "rent-seeking" and dependent on resources for their tax base, the OECD has not implemented CbC, preferring the "arms-length system" created by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) - itself operating from a tax haven, founded and financed by the world's leading accounting firms - such as PwC - and all of whom compete with another to create the best tax avoidance products for corporations.

Nick Shaxson said this to me in a recent email:

"The role of the OECD is particularly strange in this respect. It jealously guards some of the main mechanisms and models for transparency and information exchange with respect to international financial flows, and with respect to international tax. And yet these models all, in important ways, significantly disadvantage developing countries.

It is a disadvantage, locked into the EITI system, designed to present an illusion of accountability where none exists.

So, while EITI may be good news for the companies involved in Zambia, casting them in a clean light, the same cannot really be said for the country's citizens who are being shortchanged.

Short recently claimed that the EITI model, still evolving, would be complemented by such measures. But intimated along with this statement is the notion that EITI itself will not lead this charge. So much for transparency."