Nigerians Express Concern Over New e-ID Card Project.
"Finally!" was the first word that popped into my head upon reading the supposed good news. Nigerians were soon to join the rest of the I.D. carrying world, and something I’d considered to be a privilege for others was no longer going to be so.
Whilst living in South Africa, I vividly remember seeing my friends turning 16 and being excited to apply and receive their national I.D. cards and feeling a pang of jealousy hit me simply because I do the same. Fast forward a few years later to my college days when I’d have to carry around my passport and use it as a form of ID when entering places that carded. Not only was it a slight form of embarrassment, but such outings were always plagued with the fear that I’d lose my passport and have to go through the strenuous and costly process of applying for a new one AND have to get all my necessary visa documents in order. No longer wanting this to be an ordeal I’d have to undergo, I was able to add some normalcy to my life after applying for and receiving a New York Learner’s Permit. For the first time, at age 20, I finally got to be part of the I.D. carrying public - a small step for mankind, a giant leap for yours truly.
Now, thanks to a new scheme unveiled by President Goodluck Jonathan, no longer will Nigerian nationals have only one option (outside of a driving license) when it comes to a valid government issued form of identification. Something I’m sure many other Nigerians aside from me welcome, especially after the failure of a plan to introduce ID cards into Nigeria some years ago.
However, this new national ID is not simply a form of valid photo identification. It seems as though the Nigerian government is incapable of creating such a project without monetary backing from one of the world’s largest multinational financial services companies. What is supposed to be a regular ID card instead looks like a debit or credit card with the MasterCard logo printed boldly on the back. This electronic ID card will also serve as a means of electronic payment in order to make banking and financial services available to the entire population. In a country known for 419 schemes and rife with corruption, some say these new cards will give Nigerians a sense of legitimacy when carrying out financial transactions and using services that require ID.
Sounds appealing and convenient right? Well, perhaps, if you take away the fact that the biometrics data of every e-ID holder will be shared and made available to MasterCard, an American firm. All Nigerian e-ID card bearers will automatically become customers of MasterCard – a profit-driven company. This has already caused many Nigerians to express outrage at the government for selling out Nigerians to a foreign company.
Shehu Sani of the Civil Rights in government expressed his opposition to this project saying, “The new ID card with a MasterCard logo does not represent an identity of a Nigerian. It simply represents a stamped ownership of a Nigerian by an American company. It is reminiscent of the logo pasted on the bodies of African salves transported across the Atlantic.” Whilst Nigeria would not be the first country to have such a program, a country like Malaysia did so but using its own resources and technologies, not through outsourcing and making available the information of their citizens to a foreign financial company.
What’s also interesting is the timing of this announcement - right when the US has pledged to actively assist Nigeria in combating Boko Haram and terrorism in the country.
Whilst it may take a while for this new system to be adopted, these concerns expressed by several Nigerians are legitimate and should be addressed before this project becomes a nationwide affair. At the very least, Nigerians should be given the option of whether or not they would like to join the MasterCard element of the program.
(image via BBC)
Posts tagged Politics
As always, thepoliticalnotebook does such excellent work in her weekly series, ‘This Week In War’. From this week, perhaps especially pertinent after this week’s events (beheading of James Foley and Wesley Lowery’s coverage of the events in Ferguson), (again) one link grabbed my attention especially:
which reminds me of earlier in the week, on World Humanitarian Day:
Why are we not more outspoken and active about their deaths? Who is accountable?
What is happening in Ferguson is exactly what opponents of the rise in military-style policing across America have long feared: when the feds arm white local cops with weapons of war and their superiors encourage them not to just play dress-up but to use their new war toys, it is inevitable that ordinary citizens – especially citizens of color – will get treated as the enemy.
Watching Ferguson, I wonder: do Americans have no memory? Why are you shocked at these police tactics, as if this is new? Have you forgotten Occupy? The civil rights marches where dogs where set on peaceful protesters? Kent State?!
There is a gif set from Stokely Carmichael going around about passive resistance and effective methods of protest. My question is, if your opponent has no conscience, is armed to the teeth, and the same problems keep occurring (violence against peaceful protesters and people of colour), isn’t it time to change tactics? When you ‘forget’ your political history, you enable cycles of violence to continue by repeating the same action and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity). Would it not serve your cause more to examine your political history with (unnecessarily) forceful responses to (peaceful) protests, learn from it, and formulate a new response? This is exactly HOW and WHY MLK and Ghandi were so effective; they responded differently, thoughtfully, to a reoccurring problem.
These protests are the equivalent of what the US military has done and continues to do in Iraq: drop bombs and hope something changes.
Pentagon confronts militant dilemma in Africa | William Wallis in Washington and Katrina Manson in Nairobi
The hum of US drones is becoming more familiar over African skies.
From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment.
The trend has its most recent roots in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the US, when US officials scoured the globe for “ungoverned spaces” with the potential, like Afghanistan, to foster anti-American extremists. Several African countries cropped up on the radar, notably Somalia. In the semi-desert underbelly of the Sahara, Mali was identified among other weak states vulnerable to jihadi influence spreading south from the Maghreb. Nigeria, too, soon featured in assessments of threats.
These were either prescient musings by US spies or a self-fulfilling prophecy coaxed partly into reality by US meddling – there are subscribers to both camps. Either way, Islamist extremism in Africa has metastasised just as the Pentagon and the CIA assessments predicted.
FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)
Photo: United States Marine Corps/flickr
The FT is giving me raised eyebrows; is this just the media creating a story from very little?
dapperandspiffing replied to your post:If you have questions, ask an expert: Yes. What’s your take on TTIP? Very much criticised in Germany. Thanks for being awesome and knowing such important stuff!!!!
Hey J, thanks for asking and for the compliment (blush).
My ‘take’ is complex and rooted in history (scroll to bold for the short version), as any expert take should be; my opinion of the TTIP has more to do with power and authority than the substance of the negotiations, which I’d generally say I’m pretty wary of.
The TTIP is, essentially, just another regional trade agreement (RTA), and the US and Europe are simply seeking gains in trade that cannot be made within how (power in) the WTO has evolved: businesses in these countries whose interests are not being served in the WTO. Just as UNCTAD and the OECD evolved as a response to the areas of policy that the WTO was ill-equiped to govern, the TTIP is an expression of American and European interests that the WTO is (currently) ill-suited to govern.
Some have argued it’s a shady deal that can only be done outside the WTO (RTAs do come under the umbrella of the WTO, however), but others argue that states are just rational, self-interested actors seeking to expand trade in ways that are otherwise ‘closed’. Trade delegations represent national (self) interests (duh!). Naturally American interests and European interests vary in TTIP, particularly when it comes to food (GMOs, hormones in meat, European food culture etc), as evident by the cases between these two trading blocs in the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.
But RTAs, in theory, represent cooperative national interests, and for me, there is a core issue here as to whether the TTIP represents the interests of CITIZENS or CORPORATIONS in the US and Europe. In the US, there’s no difference, since corporations have legal person-hood, but in Europe this is not the case. Natural products of their individual political cultures, CITIZENS of Europe are more engaged in the TTIP than their American counterparts. If the TTIP ‘hears’ no dissent from American CITIZENS - and CORPORATIONS are pro-TTIP - then the TTIP represents all of American interests; it’s just those pesky European CITIZENS (and Germans ;-)) who aren’t on board (ie: interests are not reflected in the TTIP). That leaves it down to the European delegation to either incorporate the interests of European CITIZENS into TTIP, go against the interests of European CITIZENS, or leave the deal undone for lack of political support (similar to the recent failure of all WTO member states to ratify the trade facilitation deal in the Bali package of the Doha Development Agenda).
So the questions about the TTIP that are more my ‘expertise’ and concern are: whose interests are being represented, who has authority to govern, and whose interests are most valued: CITIZENS and/or BUSINESS. With slippery international legal ‘loopholes’ built into TTIP, I’d say we know at least one answer to these questions. My ‘take’ is that states govern as they see fit to represent their interests, and the TTIP is a massive RTA, ranging from food to health care to intellectual property. In general, I am an advocate of trade liberalisation, but I tend to side more with the Europeans, as I find corporate personhood to be antithetical to democracy, ie: oligarchy. As of this moment, I don’t find the TTIP to be terribly democratic. And THIS is why I support the WTO and clarifying what it is the WTO does, which is democratic trade liberalisation. The WTO’s decision-making structure prohibits any gains in trade liberalisation that is not democratic for all (current) 160 member states, again, hence the current failure of all member states to ratify the trade facilitation deal. The WTO machinery may not be perfect (single undertaking, consensus, etc), but it’s the machinery that trading nations built. And it’s one of the most democratic organisations in global governance.
That should tell you something about the TTIP …
We demand an immediate meeting of the UN security council and a decision to impose a complete ceasefire with effective international protection for the Palestinian people, who have no way of matching the superpower of the mighty Israeli army. We call on the Palestinian leadership to stop its hesitation in establishing a unified Palestinian leadership and go straight to the international criminal court to hold Israel accountable. Without these measures, I fear worse may be to come.
The first woman has been appointed to command a United Nations peacekeeping force – a Norwegian general who has served in Lebanon, the first Gulf war, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
[Major General Kristin Lund] told the Associated Press she was proud to crack the glass ceiling in UN peacekeeping. “I think it’s time, and I think it’s important that other women see that it’s possible also in the UN system to get up in the military hierarchy to become a force commander.”
She said that was where she fell in love with the UN and learned that “maybe the most important weapon that you have is communication and to build relations”.
Photo: Xinhua /Landov/Barcroft Media
Text: AP at the Guardian
One of my Senators, Michael Bennet (CO), wrote me asking me to sign his petition to raise the minimum wage. As someone who supported themselves through their BAs and MA with student loans AND a minimum wage job, I appreciate Senator Bennet’s effort but wrote him to ask him to do more. I would encourage those of you engaged in this debate to write Senator Bennet and your own Congressional representatives to highlight the issue of elite control of American politics. I have formatted a template you can use to write to your Congresspeople. Please change what is in brackets to make your message more personal.
Dear [Senator [Bennet]],
[I have written you before, and to my satisfaction, you have always responded to my concerns. I am a Denver constituent living in the UK, completing my doctorate in politics. I hold BAs and a MA from the University of Colorado Denver in psychology and political science.]
I am writing in response to your petition to raise the minimum wage. While petitions have experienced some measure of success in political activism and political participation with the increased availability of the internet, I must express that a petition is no solution to the core issue preventing a liveable wage, a wage [I earned for my 8 years working on Colorado prior to my 2010 move to the UK.]
The core issue is that our Congress is bought, and [Senator Bennet], please know that I [have written you about this before and] mean, in no way, the slightest disrespect. I am concerned about the increasingly influence money has on our nation’s politics and political actors, most particularly in Congress.
[Senator Bennet], we, as a citizenry, are increasingly aware of the emerging oligarchy that controls American politics. I would also highlight Thomas Piketty’s recent contribution on the subject, which is changing the face of (political)economic thought in the US and all over the world.
If you seek to help us, which I believe you do, to earn a liveable wage, a petition will do little, although I have signed it. What we need is someone who will stand up against an emerging oligarchy in American ‘democracy’, and I beseech you to be our voice for what little say we, lower and middle classes, have in American democracy and help expose the systemic control by financial and political elites and corruption of basic democracy.
Your [(overseas)] constituent,
Have you watched this 20-minute interview of Paul Krugman on Bill Moyers yet? It’s about Thomas Piketty’s - of the Paris School of Economics - thesis on inequality, particularly in American and French contexts. Piketty’s hypothesis is that we are drifting back to oligarchy that was so hard fought against (democratisation).
What I felt Krugman neglected to focus on was the global context, which Moyers picked up a little on in his ‘final thought’ through an American-lens, of course, is the issue of tax havens. For American scholars the comparison is so convenient, to idealise the ‘European tradition’ of taxing the wealthy. However, what they neglect is exactly Piketty’s point: the wealthy are so wealthy, we don’t even realise the extent of their wealth; they are invisible. Yes, footballers in the UK have up to 40% of their earnings taxed, but footballers aren’t the 1%. The 1%, the inherited capital that Piketty is talking about, are more clever, and this is what makes inherited wealth and oligarchy so dangerous.
Not only are the 1%, as individuals, almost invisible to ‘normal people’ because of the scope of their wealth, but their wealth, ever extensive in its reach, is hidden from authorities that, even if willing to tax them at a rate of 40%, would not be able to identify the true scale of their wealth. Such that, the world’s 1%, using their unlimited resources, are invisible as both entities of power but also as taxable capital.