Connect with us

Features

Strategic Ramifications Of The Egyptian Unrest

Published

on

The prospect of an imminent, uncontrolled change in the leadership of Egypt, or other political paralysis in the state, as a result of growing popular unrest which began in the country in earnest on January 25, 2011, has clear strategic ramifications, dependent on how the matter resolves itself.

 By January 30, 2011, the key to the transition of power in Egypt was the Army. The domestic intelligence service under the Interior Ministry had failed to anticipate, or deal with, the crisis; the foreign intelligence service, from which the new Vice-President emerged, lacks a power base. So, as the matter progressed, only the Army could maintain stability.

 President Hosni Mubarak’s health is now so poor that it was considered surprising that he did not take steps in 2009 to begin a transition of power, but his son and named heir, Gamal, himself had developed no meaningful power base other than in certain financial and political sectors. That “base” provided no power in the context of popular discontent.

 President Hosni Mubarak, 82, on Saturday, January 29, 2011, dismissed his entire Cabinet, but it was likely that Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy Soliman, 75, will be called back into a new Cabinet, given the fact that he has effectively managed the Armed Forces as head of the Operations Authority (effectively head of the Army and joint services) and, since 1993, as Defense Minister. Field Marshal Tantawy is solid, discreet, modest, and has a strongly loyal following within the military. He had also been Commander of the Presidential Guard, Minister for Defense Production, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (1991). Many in the military consider that he should have acted earlier to cause President Mubarak to retire, and to put a stop to the President’s belief that he could make his son, Gamal Mubarak, 47, into a leader to succeed to the Presidency.

 The fact that the President, on Friday, January 28, 2011, called on the Armed Forces to essentially replace the Police and the Security Police essentially put Field Marshal Tantawy in command of the situation. The rivalry between the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry — which controls the General Directorate for State Security (the Security Policy, a national paramilitary gendarmerie) — has been endemic in Egypt for decades. The Interior Ministry manifestly failed to anticipate the level of frustration throughout Egyptian society, and neither did it plan an effective response to any large-scale unrest.

 The Armed Forces under the legendary then-Defense Minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Abdel-Halim Abu-Ghazala, during the Anwar as-Sadat Presidency (1970-1981) and later, were used to put down a mutiny, in February 1986, by 17,000 Security Police. A colleague and friend of this writer (and the likes of US Secretary of State Alexander Haig) from 1974 until his death on September 6, 2008, Field Marshal Abu-Ghazala was awarded the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) Gold Star Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress in 1986. Abu-Ghazala, like his friend, Field Marshal Tantawy, was seen as a Presidential contender, but both of them chose — for the sake of stability in Egypt — not to challenge Mubarak’s lackluster Presidency.

 The measure of President Mubarak’s understanding that Egypt is moving rapidly toward political transition came when he named, on January 29, 2011, a Vice-President, the first he has appointed since he took office in 1981. He had promised the post to then-Defense Minister Abu-Ghazala, and later it was reported he would offer it to current Defense Minister Tantawy. But Mubarak was full of fear that he might be removed and succeeded.

 Now he has named Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Mukhabarat el-Aama — the general intelligence and security service, responsible for foreign intelligence — to the Vice-Presidency. He also named retired Air Chief Marshal and former Air Force commander and head of civil aviation Ahmed Shafik, 69, as prime minister, replacing Ahmed Nazif, who had been Prime Minister since 2004, and who was forced to resign with the entire Cabinet during the current unrest.

One commentator remarked, after the start of the rioting in Egypt on January 25, 2011, that “repression” of Egyptian society was not the reason for popular unrest, but rather the frustration was finally boiling over because Mubarak failed to offer Egyptians “a dream”. What was remarkable about President Mubarak’s tenure was his absolute failure to project any personal charisma or to paint a “dream” for the Egyptian people, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Anwar as-Sadat, whose 1978 autobiography, In Search of Identity, expressly outlined to the Egyptian people who they were, and what they sought.

 In the Preface to the Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Egypt, in 1995, I noted: “If Egypt remains strong, and in all senses a ‘power’ in its regional contexts, then world events will move in one direction. If Egypt’s strength is undermined, then world events (and not merely those of the Middle East) will move along a far more uncertain and violent path.”

 It is significant that Egypt began to fail to be “strong”, internally, within a few years of that 1995 book. It became less resilient as President Mubarak became more isolated and the inspiration offered by Sadat began to erode. This resulted in the rise in Egypt of the Islamists who had killed Sadat, and the growing empowerment of the veteran Islamists from the Afghan conflict, including such figures as Osama bid Laden (who had spent considerable time living in Egypt), and Ayman al-Zawahiri, et al.

The reality was that Mubarak’s management-style Presidency could not offer the requisite hope — because “hope” translates to meaning and identity — to Egyptian society as it was transitioning from poverty and unemployment to gradually growing wealth. Hope equates to patience.

 What are the areas of strategic concern, then, as Egypt transforms? The following are some considerations:

 1. Security and stability of Suez Canal sea traffic: Even temporary disruption, or the threat of disruptions, to traffic through the Suez Canal would disturb global trade, given that the Canal and the associated SUMED pipeline (which takes crude oil north from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean) are responsible for significant volumes of world trade, including energy shipments. Threats of delays or closure of the Canal and/or the SUMED, or hints of increased danger to shipping, would significantly increase insurance costs on trade, and would begin to have shippers consider moving Suez traffic, once again, to the longer and more expensive Cape of Good Hope seaway.

 2. Disruption of Nile waters negotiations and matters relating: Egypt’s support for the emerging independence of South Sudan was based on that new state’s control over a considerable stretch of the White Nile, at a time when Egypt has been attempting to dominate new treaty discussions regarding Nile (White and Blue Nile) water usage and riparian rights. Already, Egyptian ability to negotiate with the Nile River states has entered an hiatus, and unless the Egyptian Government is able to re-form quickly around a strong, regionally-focused model, Egypt will have lost all momentum on securing what it feels is its dominance over Nile water controls. In the short term, the Egyptian situation could provide tremors into northern and South Sudan, and in South Sudan this will mean that the US, in particular, could be asked to step up support activities to that country’s independence transition.

 Such a sudden loss of Egypt’s Nile position will radically affect its long-standing proxy “war” to keep Ethiopia — which controls the headwaters and flow of the Blue Nile, the Nile’s biggest volume input — landlocked and strategically impotent. This means that Egypt’s ability to block African Union (AU) and Arab League denial of sovereignty recognition of the Republic of Somaliland will decline or disappear for the time being. Already Egypt’s influence enabled an Islamist take-over of Somaliland, possibly moving that state toward re-integration with the anomic Somalia state. Equally importantly, the interregnum in Egypt will mean a cessation of Cairo’s support for Eritrea and the proxy war which Eritrea facilitates — but which others, particularly Egypt, pay — against Ethiopia through the arming, logistics, training, etc., of anti-Ethiopian groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), etc.

 3. Overall security of the Red Sea states and SLOC: Egypt has been vital to sustaining the tenuous viability of the state of Eritrea, because Cairo regarded Eritrean loyalty as a key means of sustaining Egyptian power projection into the Red Sea (and ensuring the security of the Red Sea/Suez Sea Lane of Communication), and to deny such access to Israel. Absent Egyptian support, the Eritrean Government of Pres. Isayas Afewerke will begin to feel its isolation and economic deprivation, and may well, on its own, accelerate new pressures for conflict with Ethiopia to distract local populations from the growing deprivation in the country.

 4. The Israel situation: A protracted interregnum in Egypt, or a move by Egypt toward Islamist or populist governance could bring about a decline in the stability of the Egypt-Israel peace agreement, and provide an opening of the border with the HAMAS-controlled Gaza region of the Palestinian Authority lands. This would contribute to the ability of Iran to escalate pressures on Israel, and not only further isolate Israel, but also isolate Jordan, and, to an extent, Saudi Arabia. The threat of direct military engagement between Israel and Egypt may remain low, but a move by Egypt away from being a predictable part of the regional peace system would, by default, accelerate the growth of the Iran-Syria-HizbAllah-HAMAS ability to strategically threaten Israel. Moreover, the transforming situation would also inhibit the West Bank Palestinian Authority Government.

 5. Eastern Mediterranean stability: The instability, and the possible move toward greater Islamist influence, in Egypt reinforces the direction — and potential for control of the regional agenda — by the Islamist Government of Turkey. It is certainly possible that the transformed mood of the Eastern Mediterranean could inhibit external investment in the development of the major gas fields off the Israeli and Cyprus coasts. This may be a gradual process, but the overall sense of the stability of the region — particularly if Suez Canal closure or de facto closure by any avoidance of it by shippers due to an Islamist government in Cairo — would be jeopardized if the area is no longer the world’s most important trade route.

 6. Influence on Iran’s position: It should be considered that any decline in Egypt’s ability to act as the major influence on the Arab world enhances Iran’s de facto position of authority in the Greater Middle East. It is true that Egypt’s position has been in decline in this regard for the past decade and more, and that even Saudi Arabia has worked, successfully to a degree, to compete with Egypt for regional (ie: Arab) leadership. Without strong Egyptian leadership, however, there is no real counterweight to Iran’s ability to intimidate. During the period of the Shah’s leadership in Iran (until the “revolution” of 1979 and the Shah’s departure, ultimately to his death and burial, ironically, in Cairo), Iran and Egypt were highly compatible strategic partners, stabilising the region to a large degree. The Shah’s first wife was Egyptian. Absent a strong Egypt (and, in reality, we have been “absent a strong Egypt” for some years), we can expect growing Iranian boldness in supporting such groups as those fighting for the so-called “Islamic Republic of Eastern Arabia”.

 7. US interests: A stable Egypt is critical for the maintenance of US strategic interests, given its control of the Suez; its partnership in the peace process with Israel; and so on. Why, then, would the current US Barack Obama Administration indicate that it would “support the masses” in the streets of Egyptian cities at this point. There is no question that Washington has supported moves to get President  Mubarak to provide for a smooth succession over recent years: that would have been beneficial for Egypt as well as for the US. But for the US to actively now support — as Barack Obama has done — “the street” over orderly transition of power lacks strategic sense. It is true that the State Dept., and even the strategically-challenged US Vice-President, Joe Biden, have urged caution on the Egyptian people, but President Obama has effectively contradicted that approach, as he did in Tunisia, where he literally supported the street revolution against its President earlier in January 2011. If Egypt moves to anti-Western, anti-US governance, the US will be required to re-think its entire strategic approach to the Middle East, Africa, and the projection of power through the Eastern Mediterranean and into the Indian Ocean. It would give a strong boost of importance to the US Pacific Fleet, which is responsible for US projection the Indian Ocean. CENTCOM (Central Command) would need to be re-thought, as would USAFRICOM (US African Command).

 8. Impact on the US positions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan: The “loss” of Egypt and the questionable ability which the US could have over projection through the Suez Canal — if it came to that — would certainly impact US ability to support the final military operations it has in Iraq, and Afghanistan. A loss (or jeopardizing) of US military access via Egyptian-controlled areas such as the Red Sea/Suez would absolutely fragment the way in which the US can project power globally. Even the accession of an Islamist state in Egypt, as opposed to closure of the Suez Canal, would achieve much of this. What is clear is that the US did not adequately prepare for the end of the Mubarak era, even though it was absolutely obvious that it was coming. Now, only by luck will the US see the Egyptian Armed Forces reassert control over Egypt and introduce a new generation of leadership to bridge the transition until the re-emergence of a charismatic leader.

 9. Concern over governance transition in “republican dynasties”: The recent street moves against states with protracted – ie: essentially against normal constitutional viability – power being held by autocratic leaders over long periods has become a clear message that Western democracies succeed by arranging orderly transitions of power, whether among their constitutional monarchs as heads-of-state, or among their elected governments. States which rise and fall with each successive and uneasy – often violent – transfer of power from one leader to the next, or in which autocrats attempt to impose their children as their successors without the legitimacy of a nationally-evolved monarchy or tradition, are in increasing peril as to their long-term stability. Syria, for example, in the region continues to founder although it achieved the transfer of one Assad to the next, but it does not prosper. Libya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and North Korea, for example, all must consider that extended governance without legitimate options for the future encourages decline and instability.

 10. Issues of Military Technology and Equipment Relations: Any move by Egypt away from its pro-US position – including, and particularly, the prospect of an administration headed by self-styled “opposition leader” Mohamed Elbaradei, would result in a major compromise of US military technology. The Egyptian Armed Forces have a major defense supply relationship with the US, particularly with high-profile systems such as late-model Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters, M1A1 main battle tanks, AH-64A/D Apache and Apache Longbow attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, a wide range of surface- and air-mounted missile systems, and so on. The reality is that further north in the Mediterranean, the defense supply relationship with Turkey is already compromised, by the US Government will not recognize that. Firstly, the supply relationship with Turkey means that the technology itself may be compromised to other states (Iran, Russia), to some extent, and now will almost certainly not be used to support US/NATO initiatives. In Egypt, a similar situation could prevail if the Armed Forces do not take control and exclude Elbaradei and/or other anti-US Islamists or populists.

Pres. Gamal Abdel Nasser was charismatic and transformative, but not necessarily a leader who delivered a strong new architecture to Egypt. Anwar as-Sadat gradually emerged as charismatic, and he was transformative in a very meaningful way for the country.

 It took three decades of Mubarak’s invisible presence for so much of Sadat’s vision to erode, and yet Sadat’s national architecture remains intact if someone would be able to pick up the reins of real leadership. What is significant is that the Egyptian Royal Family has not re-emerged from exile to offer some hope of a restoration of traditional Egyptian values.

 If the populist and vehemently anti-US ally of Iran, Mohamed Elbaradei, seizes control of the Egyptian mob — because that is his goal: to position himself at the front of a mob not of his own making — he would certainly re-introduce a great element of instability to the region, and bolster Iran’s position.

 Even without directly working with Iran, merely by pushing Egypt into an investment-averse situation, Iran’s regional power would grow, and Egypt would be under the grip of a vain and shallow man far more detrimental to the nation’s long-term interests even than Mubarak the Manager. Not insignificantly, when US left-leaning television news network CNN interviewed – and essentially played softly with – Elbaradei, the former UN official was wearing a green tie, meant to be a clear signal to Iran and the Islamists.

 There are other populist factors to consider, including the prospect of a junior- or mid-level officer putsch in the style of the Free Officers Movement which propelled Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser, its founder (after first putting up a staging horse, Gen. Muhammad Naguib, into office as a figurehead), to power in 1952, launching the system which is now under pressure with the decline of Mubarak.

 There are many more factors to consider, but these are a few on which thinking should focus.

 Analysis by Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, USA.

Gregory R. Copley

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Features

Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

Published

on

Recently, a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

Continue Reading

Features

Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

Published

on

Recently a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

Continue Reading

Business

Rivers: The Wheel Propelling Nigerian Economy

Published

on

The economic importance of Rivers State to national development has never been in contention. It is easy to discern, even by the blind. It was not by happenstance that the state was christened the ‘Treasure Base of the Nation’. The state earns the sobriquet on account of its contributions to national development. What is rather in contest is the benefit accrued to the people of the state from the huge natural deposits the state is endowed with.
Generally known as the hub of oil and gas industry in the country, Rivers State accounts for 40 per cent of Nigeria’s crude oil production. It is also the largest economy in Nigeria after Lagos. It has vast crude oil reserves among other natural resources, and remains a leading supplier of the nation’s wealth with associated export revenue.
Apart from Lagos, Rivers State contributes the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the nation’s economy. It accounts for about 65 per cent of government revenue and 88 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. As at 2010, Rivers State was contributing US$21,073 next only to Lagos with US$33,679 as GDP.
Despite its relatively low industrial base, the State has two of the nation’s four petroleum refineries at Eleme, two major seaports in Port Harcourt and Onne, an international airport at Omagwa, an oil and gas free zone, and a petrochemical and fertilizer plant in Onne, an industrial estate at Trans-Amadi, a gigantic liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny and tens of petrochemical related companies.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the aggregate growth of the Nigerian economy weighs heavily on the natural resources of Rivers State. For over five decades, the oil and gas sector has remained the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy till date. Little wonder that happenings in the oil and gas industry tend to have serious impact on the other sectors of the nation’s economy.
In the area of oil and gas which creates the wealth that sustains the nation, Rivers State ranks the highest contributor. Apart from playing host to two of the nation’s four petroleum refineries, the state also hosts major oil companies such as The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited (TEPNL), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and tens of petrochemical related companies. Added to these is the existence of a multi-billion naira Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bonny which produces a million tones of gas per year.
It is, however, regrettable that in spite of Rivers State’s status as the hub of oil and gas in the country, these multinationals are reluctant to move their headquarters to the state citing insecurity and restiveness as excuses. It was even recently that NLNG relocated its head office to Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the new spate of development from marginal oil fields by the multinational oil giants has also created a vent for the participation of indigenous firms in the nation’s oil and gas sector. These firms include Minipulo, Nestoil, Belema Oil and Sahara Energy, among other upstream operators.
The import of this is that in spite of marginal neglect of the state by the Federal Government in terms of infrastructure and human development, Rivers remains the epicentre of Nigeria’s oil and gas activities, contributing a significant percentage of government’s revenue. That Nigeria was able to prosecute the three-year civil war successfully without borrowing a kobo was courtesy of the oil wealth. The oil boom of the 1970s also led to the mass importation of foreign manufactures, salary reviews and arrears payment, oversea scholarship and training of workers, among others.
Also given its position as a natural seaport and railway terminus, Rivers State has long established itself as an investor’s haven, with the bulk of its tenants in Trans-Amadi Industrial area of Port Harcourt.
Before now, there were several companies scattering around the state, such as Michellin, Pabod Breweries, Port Harcourt Flour Mills, Nigeria Engineering Works (NEW), West African Glass Industry (WAGI), Slumberger, Halliburton, Metalloplastica, Rivers Vegetable Oil Company (RIVOC), Riversbiscuit, Flag Aluminium, Indorama  Eleme Fertiliser &Chemicals Limited, NAFCON, now Notore, among others.
Although a good number of these companies which once contributed to the economic growth of the state and Nigeria at large had since closed shop or relocated outside the country due to a number of factors ranging from poor electricity supply, general infrastructural decay resulting in high operational cost, multiple taxation and insecurity; a handful of them that are still in existence in the state make significant contributions to the nation’s economy in terms of employment generation and wealth creation.
Not too long ago, Pabod Breweries which was once moribund was revived by South Africa’s SAB Miller through a partnership that appears to be yielding good dividends to both the state and national economy, alongside Indorama Group.
Meanwhile, Rivers State also plays host to the second busiest seaport after Lagos. It hosts two of the nation’s seaports – Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), Rivers Complex and Onne Port. This suggests that the state constitutes a major commercial centre in the country. The state’s proximity to Aba in Abia State and Onitsha in Anambra State – two notable destinations for containerised imports, adds impetus to the commercial status of Rivers State, and also contributes in no small measure to the economy of the country.
Rivers State is not lagging behind either in the area of hospitality industry. Apart from the popular Hotel Presidential located along Aba-Port Harcourt Road, which has been in existence since the days of the Eastern Nigeria, there are several other hotels scattering around Port Harcourt and its environs. Prominent among them are Meridian Hotel at Old GRA, Port Harcourt; Landmark Hotel at Waterline area of Port Harcourt, Sasun Hotel at Trans-Amadi, and a host of others. The avalanche of these hospitality industries in the state does not only boost the economic base of the state, it also attracts and facilitates investment in the country.
Added to this impetus is the NEW vision of the present administration in the state led by Governor Nyesom Wike, which has led to a deluge of social infrastructures, thus attracting investments to both the state and the country at large.
It is, however, a painful irony that despite the avalanche of wealth tapped from crude oil sale and other economic opportunities in the state over the years, there has been a complete neglect of the state by the Federal Government in the area of basic infrastructure. For instance, the two major roads that link Rivers State with other parts of the country, namely, the Eleme section of the East West Road that leads to Onne industrial hub, and the Oyigbo section of the Port Harcourt-Aba Road have been in a state of disrepair for years without attention from the Federal Government.
Worst still, the multinationals that operate in the state and Niger Delta as a whole, and who ordinarily should be a propeller of development have only succeeded in adding to the sufferings of the people. They do not only devastate the environment with their oil activities and leave their host communities with destroyed farmlands, polluted air and deteriorating marine life, they also subject the indigenes to a second class citizens in terms of employment.
One of the most disturbing paradox is that crude oil for export is transported to Bonny and Forcados through a network of pipeline stretching across 6,000km over communities and living quarters approximately the distance between Cape Town in South Africa and Cairo in Egypt. Yet, little or no measure is taken to ensure the maintenance of the pipes which often corrode and burst, leading to oil spill, killing people and devastating environment, water and farmlands. Worst, the Federal Government that is supposed to be a regulator appears helpless and complacent as it lacks the political will to rein in on these oil conglomerates to stop the criminal environmental pollution in the state. This obviously accounts for occasional pockets of unrest and restiveness in Rivers and other Niger Delta states.
Many analysts and keen observers have decried the criminal neglect of Rivers State by the Federal Government. Piqued by the aberrant, incongruous structure of the Nigerian federation, especially the iniquitous disposition of the Federal Government in robbing Peter to pay Paul, a professor of Economics, Willie Okowa, had in a seminar presentation on Rivers State since 1967 said, “The use of oil resources derived largely from Rivers State in the creation of the infrastructure basis for development in other parts of the country while denying the same treatment for the territory in which oil is found speaks of a callousness that is numbing to the mind and an outrageousness that is a challenge to the ethics of civilised behaviour”.
The Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike himself has, at several fora, complained about the inequities and apparent lack of visible federal presence in the state despite the state’s contributions to the nation’s economy. He believes the state deserves a special status and consideration from the Federal Government given its contributions to national growth.
Presenting a paper on ‘Institutional Weakness and Challenges of Development in Rivers State in Abuja in 2016, Wike observed that, “the state has suffered sustained neglect, marginalisation and injustice from successive federal governments and its agencies”.
The governor continued: “Even as no new development project has been initiated in the state for decades, what is most distressing is the failure of the Federal Government to adequately maintain some of the critical federal infrastructure in the state.
“I am referring to the Port Harcourt Terminal building, the Port Harcourt seaport, as well as the East West Road, particularly the section that leads from Eleme junction to the Onne industrial hub that has remained broken for years without attention from the Federal Government.”
Five years after Governor Wike made this cursory observation, has anything changed? Perhaps not. Apart from the Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal building which was constructed recently, all other critical federal infrastructure listed by the governor for attention in 2016 have remained unattended to by the Federal Government. It took the intervention of the state government under Wike to fix two of the federal roads in the state: the Industry Road that leads to the NPA, Port Harcourt seaport and the Igwuruta-Chokocho Road.
Indeed, this disturbing irony of an oil state wallowing in poverty and squalor speaks of an utter insensitivity and indifference that is not only numbing to mind, but also strange to all ethical conducts.
But how long will this criminal neglect and deliberate marginalisation continue? When will the Rivers people get a fair share of the national cake? When will the Federal Government realise that Rivers State is the the wheel that propels the nation’s economy and should be accorded honour and respect? Who will rescue the Treasure Base of the Nation from the oppressive claws of national inequities?  Questions. Endless questions.

 

By: Boye Salau

Continue Reading

Trending