Afghan President Karzai admits he received secret cash payments from the U.S.

Hamid Karzai

The Afghan president has admitted his office received secret payments from the United States, but says the amounts were small and 'used legitimately'.

Hamid Karzai was responding to a New York Times report that alleged the CIA sent suitcases stuffed with cash to the president's office on a regular basis.

It said tens of millions of dollars "came in secret" and cash was given on a vaster scale than previously thought.

The president said the money was for projects such as helping the sick.
"It was used for different purposes: operational, assistance to injured people, rental costs and other goals. This was efficient assistance and we appreciate it," he said in a statement.
He added that the money had been delivered to Afghanistan's National Security Council, which is part of the president's office, during the last 10 years.
The New York Times report said: "Wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan's president."
It quoted Khalil Roman, who was Mr Karzai's chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, as saying the cash was referred to as "ghost money".
"It came in secret, and it left in secret," Mr Roman is quoted as saying.
The report cited unnamed U.S. officials' assessments that there was little evidence the payment bought the influence the CIA sought, and said that the cash was not subject to the conditions placed on official US aid.
It added that much of the money fuelled corruption and went to paying off warlords and politicians with dubious connections.
The CIA declined to comment on the New York Times report, as did the U.S. State Department.
In 2010, Mr Karzai acknowledged that his office had received cash from Iran, but insisted it was part of a "transparent" process. He said the money was not for an individual, but to help 'run the president's office'.
Afghanistan receives billions of dollars in aid, but remains one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world.

Indian math wizard Shakuntala Devi "the human computer" passes on....

Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi, the Indian math wizard fondly referred to as "the human computer" passed away in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, over the weekend. 

Shakuntala Devi's dazzling computational powers revealed themselves in early childhood but she had no formal education. 

Among her adult feats, she was able to multiply two random 13-digit numbers in a few seconds. 

She once calculated the 23rd root of a 201 digit number mentally in under a minute.

When given a date in the last century she could instantly calculate which day it fell on.
She was featured by Guinness World Records for this facility with numbers.
"God's gift. A divine quality," said Ms. Devi once when she was asked about her ability.
She also said nobody in her family had shown a head for numbers.
"Not even remotely, although my father was a stage magician," she said.
According to reports, he discovered his three-year-old daughter's abilities with numbers when playing cards with her.
He apparently found that she beat him not by sleight of hand, but by memorizing the cards.
Devi was already being called a "child prodigy" when, at the age of six, she demonstrated her skills in a public performance at an university in her native state of Karnataka.
DC Shivdev of an education trust run in her name said Shakuntala Devi "strove to simplify math for students and help them get over their math phobia".
He said her "techniques to simplify math were not used by educational institutions".
"It is a pity that her techniques died with her," he told The Hindu newspaper.
Devi wrote a number of books with titles like Fun with Numbers and Puzzles to Puzzle You.
She also had an alternative career as a successful astrologer, and she often toured to give lectures and offered astrology consultations.

Documentary feature: The innerworkings of the Aryan Brotherhood


Boko Haram respond to Jonathan's amnesty offer with more bloodshed

President Goodluck Jonathan during a parade

Islamic militant group Boko Haram responded to the amnesty offer from Nigeria's government with more violence and bloodshed over the weekend.

According to credible reports, close to 200 people have been killed with scores of hundreds also wounded as a result of intense fighting between the radical Islamic sect and Nigeria's security forces in the Northern Nigerian town of Baga, near the border with the Republic of Chad.

Sources informed CC that this particular battle showed that Boko Haram had for all intents and purposes increased their attacks on soft targets as well as security targets, even as calls increased from Northern leaders for amnesty to be granted to a group, that continues to murder innocent civilians in cold blood,

This attack would count as the deadliest to-date by Boko Haram since the height of the baseless insurgency in 2009.

More to follow.


Again, English hypocrisy at play regarding Liverpool's Luis Suarez

Defoe 'nibbles' Javier Mascherano

Yes, it was inexcusable and appalling what Liverpool striker Luis Suarez did today, during the match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield.

But wait a minute. Is what he did something that has never been seen before in the English Premier League?

Well, turns out Luis Suarez just happens to be a 'mere mortal' and as is characteristic of such, they are prone to a moment or two of sheer madness in their much traveled lives.

So then, turns out that seven years ago, Tottenham striker, Jermaine Defoe, was even more blatant when he reacted rather strangely (see the clip below @ 0:39 seconds) to a tackle from then West Ham United midfielder, Javier Mascherano by essentially biting him in the arm after the referee had blown for a foul in his (Defoe's) favor.

Guess what the English FA did to Jermaine Defoe? You guessed it..... absolutely nothing! Worse still, listen to the English commentator assert that Mascherano had "most certainly made the most of it".... seemingly playing down Defoe's disgraceful conduct.

Luis Suarez does have a history (but what gifted player doesn't in this day and age), but it smells of the highest form of hypocrisy for the English media to be quick to crucify Suarez when they have in the past enabled thugs like Joey Barton among others.

Yes, Luis Suarez should probably be punished (although Jermaine Defoe was not), but please halt the "lynching and proverbial burning at the stake" as Suarez is merely a young man who needs direction.

If Jermaine Defoe can go on to feature for Tottenham for another seven years (and counting), while also wearing the famed "Three Lions" jersey quite a few times, then there is hope for Luis Suarez and other talented players who "don't quite fit the mode" as the English would want it.

Again, it is important to note here that no one is justifying Suarez's behavior, but just like everything the English FA has done has essentially amounted to either a misguided over-reach or not actually going far enough (the John Terry punishment for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand comes to mind), one can expect them to overreact in this case as well, just to please the English media's cravings for blood.

Expect Luis Suarez to be charged and the book thrown at him.

Sunday beat..... Flavour - Nwa Baby (Ashawo Remix) Video


Enjoy and have a relaxing Sunday....

Celebrating the rise of Made in Africa technology solutions - Namibia 2013

Africa’s leading forum for the technology-assisted learning industry, e-Learning Africa, will on May 29th-31st be celebrating the rise of Made in Africa technology solutions in Windhoek, Namibia, at the 2013 edition of its annual conference.

Now in its eighth year, e-Learning Africa will be bringing together a wide range of perspectives on Information & Communications Technology (ICT) for development, education and training. The conference will also be preceded by the annual e-Learning Africa round table meeting of education and ICT ministers from across Africa.

“This year our focus will be on innovation and we are all really proud that some of the most exciting and innovative new solutions in education have been pioneered and developed in Africa”, says Rebecca Stromeyer, founder of e-Learning Africa and Executive Director of ICWE.

Africa is experiencing a technological surge and it is having a dramatic effect on education throughout the Continent. Tech hubs are blossoming, new mobile devices and apps are being designed and produced in Africa, by Africans, and Africa’s e-Learning market is now the fastest-growing in the world.

This local innovation reveals itself in many forms. Expert speakers at the conference will talk on such diverse issues as African MOOCs, e-Learning in refugee contexts, technology’s role in preserving oral traditions and imaginative solutions to lack of broadband access.

The overarching themes of the conference, tradition, change and innovation, set up a tension which these speakers will explore in many different and fascinating ways. Erin Hayba, the Associate Community Services Officer at UNHCR, will show the results of his work in the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya, where the installation of solar-powered ICTs in 39 schools, and an innovative community-based maintenance and sustainability program, have overcome the traditionally problematic language barriers in the camp and improved the prospects of 80,000 young people.

Mignon Hardie of the FunDza Literacy Trust, South Africa will be talking about the impact of mobile networks on literacy and literature. Her organisation’s creative writing platform shares quality teen fiction among young South Africans and encourages them to share stories – creating their own African content.

China must come to Africa on our terms - Zimbabwe's Deputy PM

Arthur Mutambara

Africa is duty bound to realize it needs to put across its specific conditions when striking transactions with China, Zimbabwe’s deputy prime minister asserted recently.

Arthur Mutambara urged the continent to cease accusing Beijing, apartheid or colonialism for its distresses.

Mutambara said it is about time that Africa puts an end to always taking a “romantic view” of China because it has developed from a “comrade in poverty” to an international enterprise and economic behemoth.

“Why are we not making sure the engagement with China is on our terms, as Africans? Labor skills, technology, value addition,” he posited to delegates at a China-Africa conference.

“The Chinese must come to Africa on African terms. The terms that will allow the Chinese to make money but the terms that will also allow Africa to develop, win-win. China wins, Africa wins.”

He declared that Africa now had been rather fragmented for many decades and it should not degenerate into trying to find excuses all the time for its sluggish development.

“Africans must not blame China or any other power for that matter. We must take charge of our lives, we must take responsibility for our problems and solve them,” he reportedly told delegates at the conference.

“Yes there are things we can trace back to apartheid, to colonialism, but we must take charge of our lives and not justify incompetence by talking about apartheid, colonialism.”

Recently, South Africa has been embroiled in a fierce debate on whether – 19 years on – apartheid can still be blamed for current government policy shortcomings.


How Nigerian online store got multi-million dollar investment via Twitter


At 10, Nigerian-born Sim Shagaya began writing computer codes. At Christmas, he would program his basic computer, run syntaxes, and connect it to a TV set to display ‘Merry Christmas’ and a digital Christmas tree. Many years later, upon graduating as an Electrical Engineer from George Washington University, and earning his MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School, he became the Vice President of Rand Merchant Bank (West Africa), after which he led Google Africa. Over the years, he has founded several tech start-ups – iNollywood, E-motion, DealDey, and Konga – the latest of which is, a Nigerian online shopping mall launched July 2012 with 7 workers, which currently has grown to 130. 

Along this eventful career, the tech geek has learnt that the key to enterprise success isn’t necessarily superior technological solution but people and relationships. “Business is transaction with individuals not machines or assets. Business, is people,” he says.

"And I sincerely want to make them happy."

This people-centered philosophy has fundamentally shaped Shagaya’s leadership and company strategy at Konga Shopping Company. During the entire course of interviewing him, he addresses his Vice President, Marketing Onyeka Akumah (who was also present) as a ‘brother,’ not like a subordinate. A substantial 10 percent stake of his multi million dollar e-commerce company is shared among some members of his staff. He discloses, “even junior officers in customer service have ownership stake in this company.”

Notably, in an hour of discussing with Sim, he mentioned ‘customer service’ 9 times. Externally, Sim is bent on ensuring customers derive the deepest satisfaction on orders placed from his online store. “We would even install your ordered TV set for free,” he points out.

“Customer service is our North star. That’s the prime reason Naspers MIH found Konga and invested in us. We had knocked on countless doors in Mayfair and London for months, seeking funding.”

But the investors kept telling them: “We are not looking at Nigeria. Nigeria is too early. We are looking at India and Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, Konga’s efficiency at logistics systems and focus on consumer experience had helped the retailer garner customer loyalty and brand equity. Unknown to Sim and his team, while foreign investors turned down Konga’s investment proposal, South Africa’s media giant Naspers MIH Internet Africa, came across several tweets and blog posts testifying of Konga’s good customer service. 

The testimonials were overwhelming; they riveted the South African media giant’s attention. Two years earlier, Naspers MIH had operated an e-commerce business in Nigeria. But a discouraging performance and inability to make near-term profit forced the multinational to shutdown that operation. Konga’s impressive performance presented Naspers MIH an opportunity for a comeback into Africa’s largest market.

“We think they (Naspers MIH) did some test orders at that went well,” Sim shares.

“But they (Naspers MIH) wouldn’t admit to it.” Sim had us all laughing!

Eventually, Naspers invested cash for equity in Konga under a non-disclosure term that makes it illegal for both parties to reveal specific facts about the deal. Reports have inaccurately put the size of equity acquired by Naspers at 50 percent. Sim discloses it is “significantly less.” What is not in doubt is that the serial South African online business investor poured an 8-digit million dollar cash into Konga. The business of online retailing for a market as large as Nigeria is capital intensive.

According to Sim, “online retail is not really a tech business.” It is more of massive retail with DHL-like proportions of logistics.

Konga has its central distribution center in Lagos warehousing all its inventory, with two sorting centers in Abuja and Port Harcourt which act as regional depots. From Lagos, products are transported to the sorting centers to meet orders coming in from around the regions, before being delivered to consumers. With Naspers’ investment, the retailer plans to engage in a plethora of offline marketing, improve logistics systems with better people, IT and working capital, and push out more sorting centers across Nigeria to deliver orders faster and more precisely.

“And this is the super-complex part. The decisions of what these distribution centers would look like in 2016, have to be taken now. Also you don’t want to stock a mobile phone the market wouldn't want, in 6 months.” 

In China, where arguably everything is manufactured, online stores can be run essentially in a living room with the orders supplied from the numerous manufacturers around. Because Nigeria is not a manufacturing country, the market is at the edge of global supply chain. Consequently, all-in-one retailers in the country need thousands of square feet of land to adequately stock supply for its 160 million peoples.

“Even Amazon’s total warehousing land area would cover from here (Ilupeju) to FESTAC,” Sim states.

Massive warehousing of this magnitude cost millions of dollars to acquire and millions to insure too. Last year, Actis reportedly raised over $200 million to construct new facilities to accommodate expansion plans for Shoprite in Nigeria. According to Sim, who’s from Plateau state in North-Central Nigeria, the country lacks this kind of facilities and the few available ones are deployed by major corporations like Nigerian Breweries. Konga would have to acquire land and start constructing its warehouses, he quips.

“Building a nationwide retail infrastructure is tough. It is even harder to secure funds. I don’t know how our entrepreneurs are surviving,” Sim frankly asserts.

Being a pioneer has its disadvantage. With no prior online retail experience or template to follow in Nigeria, Africa’s second-largest economy, the Konga team has had to learn as the business grew, making mistakes, and relearning, in the middle of fierce competition. Konga’s uncompleted story is like the first human flight to the moon; a thoroughly calculated risk into the unknown.

The task may be daunting, but Sim Shagaya is a man who knows his onions. The 6 feet tall serial entrepreneur projects preparedness and confidence.

“This thing will take 10 years to build. Even Russia and China are still rated as early e-commerce markets. So don’t judge us yet. Konga is a bet on Nigeria. E-commerce in Nigeria will grow not on internet penetration but if the disposable income of the average resident increases!” Sim affirms.

When asked which product Nigerians ordered most, Sim’s reply was “the mobile phone… with clothing following strongly.” I tried to trick him to divulge confidential information: “I think the Blackberry sells most. What do you think? Is it the Blackberry? Samsung? iPhone? The amiable man burst out laughing.


Boko Haram, perpetrators of systematic religious and ethnic cleansing reject amnesty suggestion from their Northern benefactors

Blood on their hands - The Arewa connection to Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan's proposed plan to grant amnesty to members of the terrorist Islamic organization, Boko Haram has been rejected by its key leadership, the Shura Council, which is the supreme decision-making organ of the terrorist organization, reports say.

According to reliable sources within the Intelligence community, the group are said to be wary of the real motives of its primary benefactors, the Northern elite in asking the Nigerian government to grant them amnesty.

The group is said to have intimated embedded Intelligence sources that justice could only be found in the Quran and that they (Boko Haram) do not recognize the Nigerian Constitution, while also disavowing the legitimacy of Nigeria's democratically elected government.

The Borno State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr Inuwa Bwala, has however appealed to the terrorist Islamic sect to see reason and embrace dialogue, with a view to restoring lasting peace in Borno State and the entire North.

CC has gathered that there are serious rumblings within the Nigerian Intelligence community as well as the upper hierarchies of government as to the justification and reasoning behind granting amnesty to a group (Boko Haram), that has engaged in an orgy of systematic killings of innocent people, based upon their victims' ethnicity and religious affiliation (Christianity). 

CC has also been reliably informed that there is credible information available to the Service Chiefs, the Senate and House leaders, as well as the Presidency, that ties the sponsorship of Boko Haram and terrorist groups in the North to top Northern leaders, who still felt aggrieved by the results of the last Presidential Elections in Nigeria.

According to reliable Intelligence sources, a certain former military dictator and another prominent former leader of the ruling PDP, still with aspirations of becoming President, are in-fact the primary sponsors of these terrorist groups.

Making things even more complicated is the fact that various international and local watchers of events, with influence in the international community, as it relates to potential legal prosecution on the basis of genocide and war crimes, are miffed that the Nigerian government would even consider granting amnesty to a group of terrorists, who have shown absolutely no remorse and actually have no justifiable basis for their actions.

Their victims have been mostly innocent civilians (including women and children) who simply were of a different ethnic or religious persuasion.

More to follow.

Nigeria's reclusive billionaire

Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez

He is 76 years old. He is a billionaire with 6 Private Jets. He also owns a Chateau in France, once occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte, former Emperor of France.

Welcome to the world of one of Africa’s richest men: HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF ANTONIO OLADEINDE FERNANDEZ, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative.

When it comes to the most impressive and exuberant display of the splendor of wealth, Fernandez's style is second to none. The name ‘Fernandez’ is Portuguese in origin and delineates the popular Fernandez family of Lagos. 

Historical accounts show that the Fernandez family were originally descendants of freed Africans that had been enslaved in Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language. Some of the first modern-styled buildings in Lagos were built by the Fernandez's and these buildings are known for their spectacular Brazilian architecture. 

Portuguese navigators were also the first European explorers to reach Lagos State. Actually, they gave the state the name 'Lagos'.

Recently, Ovation Magazine did a 40-page spread on the reclusive billionaire. 

Outside view of his Yacht 'YEMOJA'

Even though he is a Nigerian, he has held the following positions across Africa:

-Permanent Representative of Central African Republic at the United Nations   
-Special Adviser to the President of Mozambique on International Economic Matters   

-Ambassador-at-Large for the Republic of Togo and Angola.
-Consul for the Republic of Benin  

-Special Adviser to the Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos (still holds this position)
-Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Mozambique to the UN

-Deputy Minister of Finance in the Kingdom of Swaziland

Chief Fernandez is well educated, with degrees from Cambridge and Columbia and 
has extensive connections with renowned global political and business leaders, including
Nelson Mandela and George Walker Bush.

His career has however not being without controversy as his long track record of 
"unconventional" business deals have made him powerful enemies, particularly in Nigeria.

His personal fortune is from bauxite, oil and diamond exports but his net worth (said to be
anywhere from $10 to $50 billion remains shrouded in mystery.

The Yoruba High Chief prefers it that way.....

Nigeria Special Forces kill 14 Boko Haram terrorists in Kano

Nigeria Special Forces - JTF

Nigeria Army Special Forces on Sunday averted another major attack by terrorists in Kano by raiding their hideouts at Unguwa Uku area of the ancient city.

Acting on key intelligence tip off, the Special Forces unit intercepted a Volkswagen Golf, primed with explosives, which some terrorists had wanted to use and wreck havoc during the Easter celebration in the city.

Residents of the area said the soldiers thereafter invaded a compound housing the suspected terrorists but were greeted with explosions. They added that the operatives who were not deterred exchanged gunfire with the terrorists for about four hours.

The spokesperson for the Special Forces, Ikedi Iweha, was quoted as saying that they killed 14 Boko Haram suspects in the raid.

The Commander 3 Motorised Brigade, Bukavu Barracks, Kano, Brig.-Gen. Iliyasu Abba, confirmed the incident.

"My men on search operations in the wee hours of this (Sunday) morning at Layin Yan'awaki, Ungwa - Uku general area suddenly came under fire from terrorists that triggered a gunfire," he said while conducting journalists round the scene.

"It was an opportunity to demonstrate our superior fire power, and the gallant officers and men gave a good account of themselves but unfortunately we lost one of our soldiers and another one was injured."

As of 4 pm local time on Sunday, the area was still cordoned off by security operatives.

Many panic-stricken Christians could not summon courage to attend Easter service in their churches despite the high presence of security operatives in the metropolis. Churches like Our Lady of Fatima, St Louis, St Thomas's, St Stephen's, St Georges and Holy Trinity had low turn out of worshipers while others simply did not open.

Before the raid, security operatives and policemen had been deployed in strategic locations in the city. 

Armoured Personnel Carriers were also seen patrolling the flash points.

In Jos, Plateau State, the much-advertised rally to mark the end of the Easter festivities did not hold as church leaders advised their followers to go back to their homes and celebrate quietly.

Many of them had gathered in front of the headquarters of the Church Of Christ In Nigeria to begin the procession that would have terminated at the Rwang Pam Stadium when they were given the advice.

The rally, which was organised by the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, was abandoned after the police warned against it.

There had been clashes in the suburbs of the city, which had necessitated a high security alert.

However, in his Sunday Easter message at the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, urged Christians not to see the end of the Lenten period as a time to go back to their old ways, but to continue to allow the spirit of Christ to be in them.

He admonished them to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, which the period signifies.

"All the troubles we have in Nigeria is because we have not allowed the spirit of Christ to take charge of our lives. Therefore, as we celebrate Easter, we should look up at that Cross of Calvary, where Christ hung more than 2,000 years ago and reflect on the essence of that sacrifice," the cleric said.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Chris Olakpe, has called on warring parties to shun hatred and to come out for genuine dialogue in order to curb the growing insecurity in the state.

Olakpe stated this on Sunday in Jos when Isoko people living in Jos hosted him.

Earlier, the President of Isoko Development Union in Plateau State, Mr. Ezekiel Udubrae, had said the Isoko would avail the commissioner with any information that would enable him succeed in the state.