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As Ban's UN Manipulated by Obasanjo, Used by IFAD's Nwanze, Nigeria Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 30 -- As the Nigerian press accuses UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of listening more to former President Obasanjo then actual head of state Goodluck Jonathan, in Rome the Nigerian president of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development is reportedly living like an emperor, with swimming pool and soccer fields and UN funded bodyguards.

  Today's UN appears to just be there for the taking, whether by a former head of state with Ban Ki-moon on his speed dial or an agency or peacekeeping mission chief with little oversight from the UN system's Secretary General.

  IFAD president Felix Kanayo Nwanze has used Ban Ki-moon's increased UN system security guidelines as his justification for having security guards at his office and luxurious villa on Rome's Villa Antica.

  The press in Rome has picked up on it, quoting disgusted IFAD staff and diplomats and alleging bookkeeping games to hide the extravagance.

One English language publication reported

Since he became president Mr Nwanze has stepped up personal security, installing an armed guard in front of his office and using the official presidential driver more often than Mr Bage, who often preferred to drive himself around Rome, the sources say. IFAD sources say the changes follow a perception that security may have been lax in the past rather than reflecting a change in leadership style, however. 'We have had security assessments,' said one IFAD staff member. 'According to UN standards we need to upgrade security to meet the standards of the UN. Some steps are being taken.'”

An Italian publication, as translated by a Friend on Inner City Press, reports that

Rome (Oct. 29) - Felix Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), the UN agency which has as its mission to eradicate poverty in the world, recently made cuts of 2.5 million dollars to the organization's budget but has opposed in every way reducing his extraordinary personal expenses, including rent of a luxurious villa ... a house with a park of two hectares, a swimming pool, gym, soccer fields and a basketball court and a garage to house the cars of the President, two BMWs, a Jeep and a limousine with diplomatic plates.

An official of the Office of Audit and Control of IFAD... says that the total cost of the villa and its maintenance, which is entrusted to a team of gardeners, is about 400 thousand euro a year. Not to mention the expense of 197 thousand euro for bodyguards hired specifically for Nwanze. Other officials questioned he explained that the costs were divided into nine different budget categories to make them look lower. 'I go out into the field to pay farmers in areas where we lend farmers $5 to $25 to buy chickens and this completely changes their lives,' says the IFAD official, speaking on condition of anonymity, who has left Rome and now has gone to work at the UN in New York. 'Now these programs are cut while he throws away millions.'”

Meanwhile, after Ban canceled a planned trip to Nigeria and replaced the Nigerian military liaison Obiakor with Senegalese Babacar Gaye brought in from MONUSCO in the Congo

Nwanze with UN flag, villa, bookkeeping and Ban oversight not shown

  Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky reacted testily to questions on October 28, demanding to know if the journalist was present at Ban's meeting with Goodluck Jonathan:

Question: ... update on the UNFPA Executive Director’s selection. Specifically, I am interested you know, in you confirming that the Secretary-General is actually considering a former Nigerian minister who was removed from office, who under his leadership the Global Fund of the UN criticized management of scarce resources and whose leadership the Global Fund said that the Fund was not going to be making further resources available to Nigeria. Now, is it true that the Secretary-General is considering this person to be the Executive Director of UNFPA?...

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think you know what my answer to this is likely to be. And that if this is a selection process that is still under way, then we’re not going to comment on people who may or may not be being considered for a post. That’s standard procedure.

Question: So…

Spokesperson: What’s your follow-up?

Question: So, you’re saying that you don’t [inaudible] the report that the Secretary-General is trying to nominate who has a corrupt record even in the UN system and somebody who was not nominated by the Federal Government of Nigeria after the UN Secretariat itself asked the missions in July to send it nomination requests?

Spokesperson: Like I said, if there is a selection process, then it is a process, and we don’t comment on it while it is under way. There may be many reports, not just on this job, on this selection, this particular position, but on many. There will be rumours and speculation in the media and elsewhere about who is going to get the job, who is being short listed — we don’t comment on that.

Question: Is the Secretary-General satisfied with his relationship [inaudible] with the Nigerian Government?

Spokesperson: As I’ve said, this is a process, a selection process. This is a…

Question: No, I am asking a much broader question because of the, you know, recent issues between the Nigerian Government and the Secretary-General. For instance, the issue of the problem of agreeing on the schedule of his visit, you know, the issue of the Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, who was removed, and replaced by somebody of the same age. I am asking you, is the Secretary-General satisfied with his relationship with the Federal Government of Nigeria in terms of how he manages relationship with Nigeria, is he satisfied?

Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has said very clearly that he will visit Nigeria when it is possible to do so, that at the time when a visit was planned, it didn’t work out because of scheduling. As soon as it is possible, I am sure that he will go. In the meantime, he is in frequent contact with the Nigerian authorities and that included, as you well know, during the General Assembly session when he met the President. So, I think that that answers your questions.

Question: [inaudible] I mean, that last question — and this is my last question on this — but at that meeting that you just referred to between the Nigerian President and the Secretary-General, the President made it clear who the nominee of the Nigerian Government is on the UNFPA position.

Spokesperson: So, were you in the meeting?

Question: I said that the Nigerian Government made it very clear who…

Spokesperson: Were you in the meeting? You heard it, did you?

Question: I didn’t have to be in the meeting, the Nigerian Government… you deny it if you tell me that it’s not true. The President of Nigeria made it clear to the Secretary-General who the nomination of the Federal Government of Nigeria is for that position.

Spokesperson: As I have said to you, we don’t comment on selection processes while they are under way. That’s what I can tell you.

This approach, rather than burying the story, has resulted in a troubling report from Nigeria in which Ban is portrayed as manipulated by Obasanjo and not even fully aware of it:

former President Olusegun Obasanjo is still calling the shots on matters concerning Nigeria at the United Nations. In fact, the former leader has countermanded the Federal Government on Nigeria’s choice for the next Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Mr. Bunmi Makinwa... In the place of Makinwa, a serving senior employee of the UNFPA whose names President Goodluck Jonathan submitted for the job, the former leader has nominated former Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin...

The UN leader is said to be confused about what to do, causing a significant delay in the announcement of the post. Indeed, the Nigerian UN Mission and Makinwa had secured about 80 percent support of the African countries at the world body for the position of Executive Director of UNFPA...

UN secretariat sources disclosed that after Secretary-General Ban received nominations in July this year, he shortlisted about nine potential candidates who were interviewed, including the Federal Government’s choice, Makinwa, who is currently heading the Africa Section of the UNFPA in South Africa.

But by September, the interviews were completed and although Makinwa was the candidate the Nigerian government proposed to the Secretary-General, the name of Osotimehin was said to have suddenly emerged because former President Obasanjo had pressured the UN leader, Ban, to broaden the search and by implication ignore the candidate of the Nigerian government, according to UN sources.

Even top Nigerian diplomats at the UN expressed shock when they found out about Osotimehin’s name on the list of potential candidates. A source pleading anonymity said that the UN Secretary-General was himself visibly surprised because he had met in September with President Goodluck Jonathan who, at that meeting in New York, during the UN General Assembly summit last month, personally informed Mr. Ban, that Nigeria was backing Makinwa for the office.

Meanwhile, a set of three candidates out of those interviewed, was being drawn to include the candidates from the Netherlands, Uganda and Nigeria. Osotimehin, whose name surfaced late in the game was eventually invited to New York for the interview, but there is now confusion, according to UN sources at the office of the Secretary-General on who actually is Nigeria’s preference between Makinwa and Osotimehin.

So while Ban's security directives are used as justification for extravagance in Rome, his Executive Office is reportedly manipulated from outside leaving him “confused,” as he appeared to be when “his” envoy to Niger -- never publicly announced -- was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

  Who really appointed Fowler and for what?  Who is driving the appointment of a new UNFPA chief? Who will do anything about the extravagance in Rome? Watch this site.

* * *

On Violent Anti-Drug Camp, UN Ban Still Silent, UNICEF Funds Only “Agency"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- Before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left on his four country trip through Asia, the UN Special Rapporteur on Health issued a report specifying violent anti-drug programs in Cambodia and Vietnam.

   Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if Ban would be raising this issue, and was told to await incremental reports of what Ban raised.

  In Cambodia, after political gatherings were banned in Thailand and a petitioner beaten unconscious in Phnom Penh, it was directly reported that “funds from the United Nations are being used to run a brutal internment camp” to which “undesirables” were sent to be “raped and beaten, sometimes to death.”

   Inner City Press, which has reviewed each stop along Ban's tour, wrote about this Prey Speu camp on October 28, and on October 29 asked Nesirky if Ban was aware of the issue and had raised it to Cambodian authorities.

   Nesirky replied that “UNICEF and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, her Office, will be very happy to answer you questions.”

   But what about Ban? Even on the petitioner who, trying to get a letter to Ban, was beaten unconscious by Cambodian authorities, Ban said nothing, relying instead on the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.

   Beyond passing the buck to UNICEF and the HCHR, Nesirky nevertheless offered this spin, that the “other reports” asked about by Inner City Press followed a Guardian story, which Nesirky said was “an extrapolation from funding to a ministry, not direct funding to a specific institution.” Oh.

  Inner City Press asked this and other questions to UNICEF, and received only this in return:

Subject: Re: Q re Cambodia/anti-drug referred by OSSG, old Q re malnutrition in Sudan referred to UNICEF by OCHA [and another]
From: Christopher de Bono>
To: "Matthew R. Lee" @>
Date: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Re Cambodia

- UNICEF Cambodia is always concerned when allegations of this nature arise, particularly when they involve children.

- We do provide vital support to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) to strengthen standards and systems in child protection. We do not, however, work directly with the Prey Speu centre, nor do we provide any funding to Prey Speu and are confident that none of our funding goes to this centre. Withdrawing our funding to MoSVY would not be in the best interests of children in Cambodia.

- In the case of Choam Chao, we did not withdraw funding, but engaged the government to change its strategy, which it did, and this resulted in the subsequent closure of the centre.

- UNICEF is aware of the need to document the situation in centres like Prey Speu across Cambodia and we are working with OHCHR to provide technical assistance to the government to strengthen systems to prevent such abuses happening in the future.

On Sudan I have no information beyond what was previously made public by our Representative Nils Kastburg.

On [the other] I will ask colleagues in the field.

UN's Ban & UNICEF's Lake, rapes at Prey Speu not shown

Here's from the Sidney Morning Herald:

funds from the United Nations are being used to run a brutal internment camp near Phnom Penh, where detainees are held for months without trial, raped and beaten, sometimes to death. The Cambodian government's Ministry of Social Affairs says the Prey Speu 'Social Affairs Centre' 20 kilometres from the capital is a voluntary welfare center... But human rights groups say the government-run centre is an illegal, clandestine prison, where people deemed 'undesirable' - usually drug users, sex workers and the homeless - are held for months without charge or without ever going before a court. Detainees - men, women and children are housed together in a single building - are regularly beaten with planks of wood, whipped with wires, or threatened with weapons. Gang rapes by guards are reportedly common, and it is alleged guards have beaten three detainees to death. But the ministry that runs Prey Speu still gets money directly from the UN's children's fund, UNICEF.”

Does Ban Ki-moon as the head of the UN system this this is acceptable? We still don't know. When Inner City Press asked if Ban would raise the wider violent anti drug program issue in Vietnam, Nesirky said Ban is still there. Watch this site.

From the UN transcript of October 25, 2010 --

Inner City Press: I want to ask about the Secretary-General’s impending trip to Asia. There is a report to the Third Committee by the Special Rapporteur on the right to health about, among other things, what he sees as the violated practices in anti-drug programmes in many of the countries that Ban Ki-moon is going to be visiting — Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand — and he calls very strongly for the UN to move against people who are incarcerated. This is all according to his report. I just wonder: of the many issues obviously on the Secretary-General’s agenda as he visits these countries, is he aware of that? And there is a separate issue in Cambodia, where people has said that they are going to try and rally in front of Ban Ki-moon about evictions, forced evictions, in Cambodia. Are these… Can you sort of… Can we get a run-down of what issues he is planning to raise, and I just wonder whether these two are among them?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Sure. And again, I seem to recall that Farhan gave you a bit of a run-down on the trip last week, sitting here. As the trip progresses, we will be giving details. The Secretary-General and his delegation are en route at the moment to Thailand where, as you know, the visit starts. They then move to Cambodia and on to Viet Nam for this UN-ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] meeting and then to China, where, as you know, the Secretary-General will be visiting Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. On the question of health, the very specific point that you raised, we can find out and probably tell you as the visit progresses. The same goes for the second part that you mentioned.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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