Africa Media Review for March 3, 2023

Nigeria: We Won and Will Explore All Legal Means To Reclaim Our Mandate – Obi
The flag bearer of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria’s just-concluded presidential election, Peter Obi says he won the poll and he will explore all legal options to reclaim his mandate. “We will explore all legal and peaceful option to reclaim our mandate. We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians,” Obi said at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja. “I am challenging the process,” Obi declared to a room full of journalists in Nigeria’s capital city, his first media appearance after the declaration of a winner by the electoral umpire. “This is very unfair. It is the least expected of Nigeria,” he said…Just at the commencement of the briefing, Obi observed a one-minute silence for all injured and deceased victims of the February 25 poll. Also in attendance at the briefing is the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure; as well as the director general of Obi’s presidential campaign, Akin Osuntokun. He also said himself and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed remain committed to a new Nigeria. He effusively thanked his youthful followers known as ‘Obidients’, urging them not to be deterred by the outcome of the polls. Channels

Nigeria’s Supreme Court Rules CBN Naira Redesign Invalid
Nigeria’s Supreme Court has ruled that old banknotes remain legal tender until the end of the year, bringing relief to millions affected by a chaotic redesign of the naira notes. The justices said that not enough notice was given to the public before the old notes were withdrawn. Not enough of the new notes were released, leading to widespread anger and frustration. Many people were unable to get cash to pay for food and slept outside banks.The policy was announced last October and people were initially given until the end of January to hand in all their old notes, although this had previously been extended amid the chaotic scenes. BBC

Shell Wins Bid To Limit Suit Over Nigeria Delta Oil Spill
Shell Plc won a bid to limit a British lawsuit over an oil spill off the coast of Nigeria after a judge ruled that a group of thousands of Nigerians couldn’t prove that the disaster continued to wreak devastation on communities years later. The Bonga oil spill in 2011 — said to be the largest spill in the Niger Delta for at least 20 years — was an environmental “catastrophe” that caused billions of dollars of damage, the Nigerian group argued. But Judge Finola O’Farrell said Thursday that far lower volumes of oil reached the coast than the group had initially argued. It wasn’t “plausible” to suggest that the stranded oil had then contaminated the delta states over three years later, she said.  Lawyers for the Nigerian group had argued that the spill of some 40,000 barrels of oil, which happened during a transfer of oil between two vessels, wreaked havoc across communities. They’d said the oil became stranded on the sea bed, in mangrove swamps and rivers, to then be spread by storms and floods as late as 2014. Bloomberg

Niger Joins Crucial UN Transboundary Water-Sharing Accord
Niger’s decision to accede to the Water Convention is a “decisive step” for the region since it gives Lake Chad – whose volume has shrunk by more than 90 per cent since 1963 – full legal protection under the Convention’s framework. Equally important is the opportunity all Parties to the accord now have to make progress together on water access, sanitation, hygiene and health, said UNECE, the UN body tasked with implementing the Convention. “Water scarcity in particular threatens the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on rain-fed agriculture and livestock,” UNECE explained. “In recent decades, competition for land, water, and food has intensified in the region, leading to increased instability, particularly around Lake Chad and in the Niger River basin.” Chad and Cameroon are already parties to the Convention and Nigeria is in the process of becoming a signatory, too. For Niger, the decision to join the agreement is significant, because it shares 90 per cent of its water resources with its neighbours. UN News

At Gabon Talks, a Debate on Who Pays To Save World’s Forests
A summit on how to protect the world’s largest forests underway in Gabon is set to be dominated by the issue of who pays for the protection and reforesting of lands that are home to some of the world’s most diverse species and contribute to limiting planet-warming emissions. French president Emmanuel Macron and officials and environment ministers from around the world are attending the One Forest Summit this week in the capital Libreville to discuss maintaining the world’s major rainforests. But absence of leaders from key nations like presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Congo’s Félix Tshisekedi is likely to dampen the summit’s momentum. AP

France’s Macron Promises $53M to New Forest Protection Plan
French President Emmanuel Macron promised $52.9 million (50 million euros) to a new global scheme to reward countries for protecting their forests and biodiversity on Thursday as he called for more concrete action on global climate commitments. The pledge was announced at the end of the two-day One Forest Summit in Gabon that aimed to assess progress made since last year’s COP27 climate conference and renew targets for the preservation and sustainable management of the world’s forests…The funding from France is part of a joint $106 million (100 million euro) commitment to kickstart a mechanism that aims to reward countries that are scientifically proven to have protected their forests or restored them. Macron said the scheme would be underpinned by research to improve the understanding of forests’ value by mapping carbon reserves, biodiversity and levels of carbon sequestration in the Amazon, Africa and Asia. Reuters

Macron Vows Era of French Interference in Africa Is Over
The era of French interference in African affairs is “well over”, President Emmanuel Macron said in Gabon on Thursday during his four-nation tour of central Africa. Speaking on the fringes of an environment summit in the Gabonese capital Libreville, Macron said France harboured no desire to return to past policies of interfering in Africa…Macron’s remarks followed criticism from civil society and opposition groups that his visit offered tacit support for President Ali Bongo, who is expected to run for re-election this summer and whose family dynasty has ruled for five decades. “Francafrique” is a favourite target of pan-Africanists, who say that after the wave of decolonisation in 1960 France propped up dictators in its former colonies in exchange for access to resources and military bases.  Macron and his predecessors, notably socialist François Hollande, have previously declared that the policy is dead and that France has no intention of meddling in sovereign affairs. RFI

Racist Attacks, Criticism of Tunisia’s President Mount After Controversial Remarks
Sub-Saharan African migrants are leaving Tunisia amid an increase in racist attacks, following controversial comments by the country’s president, Kais Saied. Saied and his government deny his remarks were racist. At issue are his comments last week, when he called for urgent measures against what he called “hordes” of sub-Saharan migrants. He urged Tunisian security forces to halt illegal immigration and has described the migrant influx as a conspiracy to change the North African country’s democratic makeup…Sub-Saharan African workers are reportedly losing their jobs and getting kicked out of rented homes. Black Tunisians, who make up about 10% of the country’s population, are also targeted in racist attacks. Voice of America

Tunis Governor Refuses Protest Permit, Cites Alleged Plot
Tunisia’s National Salvation Front opposition coalition said on Thursday it would demonstrate on Sunday despite being denied permission by the authorities, amid a crackdown on high profile critics of the country’s president. Tunisia’s opposition is watching for how the authorities will handle that protest and another called for Saturday by the powerful labour union, UGTT, in light of a series of arrests of prominent critics of President Kais Saied. The governor of Tunis said in a statement that he was refusing permission for Sunday’s protest because the group’s leaders are accused of conspiring against state security. Reuters

International Concern As Conflict Grows in Breakaway Somaliland
Qatar, Somalia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States have expressed concern over fighting around a disputed town in Somalia’s northern breakaway region of Somaliland, where at least 34 people were killed in clashes in early February. Tension has risen between Somaliland and local clan forces in Lascanood since the end of last year, and heavy fighting has broken out around the town, which straddles a key trade route…The UN said last week that more than 185,000 people had been uprooted from their homes owing to the clashes, with aid workers struggling to respond to the situation due to inadequate resources. Women and children accounted for an estimated 89 percent of the displaced population, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement. Many were reportedly seeking shelter under trees or inside schools, which have been forced to shut. In addition to those displaced inside Somaliland, more than 60,000 others have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region to escape the violence, the UN’s refugee agency said. Al Jazeera

Somalia’s Neighbors To Send Additional Troops To Fight Al-Shabab
The three neighboring countries of Somalia are to send new troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab in the next phase of military operations, the national security adviser for the Somali president said. In an interview with VOA’s Somali Service on Wednesday, Hussein Sheikh-Ali said Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya will be sending troops in addition to the soldiers they already have serving as part of the African Transitional Mission in Somalia, or ATMIS. He said the new troops will not be part of the ATMIS mission. “It is their plan to be coming inside Somalia within eight weeks,” he said. Ali declined to give specific number of the incoming troops, citing “operational purposes.” Voice of America

Crippled by Graft, S Africa Energy Firm Eskom Falls From Grace
It was once a source of national pride, an award-winning firm that powered South Africa’s mining boom and later brought electricity to black communities left behind by apartheid. Today, a hundred years after its birth, South Africa’s Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom) has experienced a spectacular fall from grace.  Eskom, the energy giant is crippled by debt, beset by corruption scandals, and unable to supply power…SA Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana admitted Eskom’s woes, highlighting to AFP the debt situation, which made it difficult for the firm to move with speed and in particular upgrade their plants. In 1998, a South African government paper warned the country risked running out of electricity within a decade unless new plants were built. But the advice was left unheeded until the last minute, something former president Thabo Mbeki would later apologise for. AFP

WHO Urges Assistance to African Nations Facing Cholera
A World Health Organization official in Africa is urging more support to countries facing cholera outbreaks, saying the disease has the potential to “quickly explode” as rainfall persists in some areas. Dr. Patrick Otim, a WHO official monitoring emergencies, said cholera outbreaks were potentially dangerous because of the short incubation period and the involvement of contaminated water sources. “So it’s very important that we support these countries to be able to respond at the point where the outbreaks have not become too big,” he said. Cholera has been reported in 12 of Africa’s 54 countries. South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are the latest to detect cases. Malawi, with hundreds of cholera deaths, faces its worst outbreak ever. The island nation of Madagascar, the victim of two destructive cyclones this year, also faces a concerning outbreak. AP