Tuesday, 30 January 2018

*NBS: We Have No Data To Back Up Minister Of Labour's Claim On 7Million New Jobs*



 by voxnews

Yemi Kale, statistician general of the federation, says the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has no data on the job creation claims made by Chris Ngige, minister of labour and productivity.
The data chief made this statement in an interview with Abang Mercy.
Ngige had earlier said the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has created seven million jobs through its programmes.
But Kale said during the interview: "We don't have the data anyway, that data of is 6 or 7 million, we don't have that. I can't comment on what other data users or data producers say but I can comment on what we produce here as the official source of data.
"We have not produced any data on job creation, we produced data on people that were unemployed at the particular time and that is what we are sticking to.
"We don't do politics at the NBS, the National Bureau of Statistics is the official source of data. Our law does not allow us to be countered. The law says very clearly that NBS is the official source of Nigerian data.
"Everybody else can have their opinion, they can do their own computations if they want to but when it comes to national data, the authoritative source, the custodian of all data is the NBS.
"So we don't comment on what other people even ministers say as far as data is concerned. Our data is for evidence based policy and decision making and that is what we do

APC IS FINISHED, I DARE THEM TO EXPEL ME



– Buba Galadima.

A member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and long time associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, Engineer Buba Galadima, said on Tuesday that the Buhari.
administration has finished its course.

He said that the administration has written its obituary ahead of the 2019 election but just waiting to publish it.

Galadima, who spoke on the Tuesday edition of Focus Nigeria, a current affairs programme of the Africa Independent Television (AIT), anchored by Gbenga Aruleba, said that the APC was a party waiting to be swept out of power.

"I dare the APC to arrest me, I dare them. If they do, that will be the end of their mission," Galadima said.

He stated that he worked for Buhari for 14 years during which he told him the truth and spoke correctly about him.

He however added that another issue with Nigerian leaders is the lack of capacity to reflect and apologise even when they go wrong.

According to him, "the problem of the APC has to do with exclusion, lack of consultations in the party and the government and lack of public relations.

He said that Nigerian leaders have not learnt to damn praise singers who are abound in the polity, adding that as a stakeholders in the APC he would not descend to the level of praise singing.
He also said that President Buhari was comfortable with his new crop of friends because of their penchant to worship him and praise sing.

The former close aide of Buhari said that the President should thank former President Olusegun Obasanjo for telling him the truth about his government as, according to him, anyone who tells someone carrying a load to adjust his load is a friend and patriot.

He challenged APC spokesmen including Lai Mohammed to a debate on Obasanjo's recent letter to Buhari, adding "I will stand here to tell
you everything Obasanjo said is the truth."

Tunde Bakare, senior pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, says he hopes he is not forced to do a follow-up video of a side of President Muhammadu Buhari that “he does not know

Tunde Bakare, senior pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, says he hopes he is not forced to do a follow-up video of a side of President Muhammadu Buhari that "he does not know".
In the build-up to the 2015 election, Bakare, who was Buhari's running mate in 2011, did a video, 'The Buhari I know'.
He had described the president as "a great personality, unique and quintessential".
But speaking on Sunday Politics, a programme on Channels Television, Bakare said given the turn out of things, he might have to do another video, focusing on the version of his former running mate that is unknown to him.
Bakare said the Buhari administration had performed "woefully".
"No matter how you look at it, this is not the government we all hoped for. This is not what we thought this government that promised change in the beginning would perform so woefully. Any right thinking Nigerian would agree with that," Bakare said.
"You can blame the past administration but you knew what you were going into even if you didn't know all of it. They could have done better than what they have done. They themselves know that.
"I once did a video; 'the Buhari I know'. And I meant every word. I sincerely did that video. I hope I will not be pushed to do a video, 'the Buhari I didn't know'.
"So many things had happened that I couldn't even figure out. You must know that I must have been pushed to the wall before I spoke.
"They have forgotten that I marched when I didn't know Jonathan. I didn't think it was time for me to march again so I didn't bother to march."
However, he praised the president for not denying him access but said some of the things he recommended in the past did not end up being implemented.
The pastor said he might be forced to reason along with those who claim a cabal has hijacked the presidency.
"I must give something to President Muhammadu Buhari, every time I had sought an opportunity to see him, he opened the door. And I had gone with different recommendations just as others have done," he said.
"But, perhaps at implementation state, I did not know whether to believe the theory of a cabal or the wicked around the throne of the righteous. Because he alone cannot deliver all these things. A tree does not make a forest.
"The type of leader you are will determine the type of people you will attract to yourself."
Asked if he felt Buhari was nepotic, as claimed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bakare said, "I had no reason at a time with him to believe he was ever nepotic.
"Because he did say to me he will assemble the best and the brightest and the fittest; east, west, north and south of the country to fix this country.
"But when I read what Obasanjo wrote, and I read the list of key appointments made, you begin to think did they just put the thing on his table to sign or this is just what he did deliberately.
"That's food for thought."

Liars of Lia Mohd Advanced Polical Studie

That's how Buhari keeps exposing himself. He said Jonathan didn't leave any savings. Now he's boasting of increasing foreign reserves from $34 billion to $40 billion. So from who did he inherit the $34 billion? From ghosts? From Killer Fulani herdsmen? Buhari can lie for Africa! And when Professor Sagay says "what the Buhari government achieved in two and half years is far more than what Obasanjo achieved in eight" I'm moved to question whether Sagay is still in control of his faculties! Obasanjo paid up all our debts while oil was selling for $24 per barrel and Buhari has borrowed faster than any other administration at a time oil is at $70. So please, if Sagay has responsible children, they should stop him from smoking anything that destroys brain cells!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Photo from Olufemi Samson Aduwo



Shagari's military appointments said so much. General Alani Akinrinade Chief of Defence Staff ,a Christian from Oyo State UPN controlled State. Gen. Gibson Jalo, Chief of Army Staff ,a Christian from old Gongola State ,GNPP controlled State . Vice Admiral Akin Aduwo was named Chief of Naval Staff, a Christian from Ondo State ,UPN controlled state. Air Marshal Dominic Bello, from the Adamawa  also a christian  . For the Police, Sunday Adewusi, was IG from.Ogbomoso a Christian. Shagari was a Fulani yet none of his service chiefs was from his ethnic nationality. There was no Igbo. And the Igbo did not shout marginalization because they had the Vice President and the Speaker of the Federal House. Alhaji Shagari was Executive President, of Hausa-Fulani background. I hope somebody is reading .l hale My mentor .Today all my close associates and co directors are Muslims from North .Merit is the key word.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Despite £51bn fortune, man wears second hand clothes, drives 15-year-old Volvo


IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad. Vox photos

The founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, died on Saturday aged 91 at his home in Smaland, Sweden, the company has confirmed.

Mr. Kamprad, described as "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century," was 17 when he founded Ikea — a shop for furniture, lighting, home accessories and more — in 1943, but the notoriously frugal billionaire has made headlines over the years for his modest spending habits.

The man, who was once listed as the world's fourth richest man, took easy Jet flights, drove himself around in a 15-year-old Volvo and furnished his modest house almost entirely with Ikea items — which he assembled himself.

And the Ikea magnate once took a bus to a gala evening to collect a businessman of the year award, prompting security to refuse to let him in.

Kamprad admitted buying all his clothes from flea (second hand) markets in the hope of setting a good example to others.

During visits to London, he shunned taxis and prferred to use the Tube or busHe and his wife, Margaretha, loved to dine out in cheap restaurants and they haggled over prices in their local market.

As for haircut, he usually waited till he was in a developed country where he could get it cheaply done. Said he, "'Normally, I try to get my haircut when I'm in a developing country. Last time it was in Vietnam."

When a statue of him was erected in his Swedish home town, he was invited to cut the ribbon. He instead untied it, folded it, then gave it back to the mayor, telling him he could use it again.

Explaining his frugal nature, he said: 'I am a bit tight with money, a sort of Swedish Scotsman. But so what?

"If I start to acquire luxurious things then this will only incite others to follow suit. It's important that leaders set an example.

"I look at the money I'm about to spend on myself and ask if Ikea's customers could afford it.Kamprad was a former Nazi sympathiser in the years immediately following the Second World War and faced questions about his past in 2011 after author Elisabeth Asbrink said he had been an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group.

The Swedish billionaire claimed his involvement was 'stupidity' and the 'greatest mistake' of his life.

A self-confessed alcoholic, the Ikea founder admitted he had an ongoing problem with drink. But he said he had it under control and that he 'dries out' three times a year.

Multinational Ikea, with hundreds of stores, has long been the world's largest furniture retailer. The company is run jointly by Mr Kamprad's three sons — Peter, 44, Jonas, 41, and Matthias, 39.

See photos:

His Volvo car
Ingvar Kamprad and wife, Margaretha

 

MANDELA TO NIGERIA-

MANDELA TO NIGERIA-

"You know I am not very happy with Nigeria. I have made that very clear on many occasions. Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, but you let yourselves down, and Africa and the black race very badly. Your leaders have no respect for their people. They believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people. They take people's resources and turn it into personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not more angry than they are.

"What do young Nigerians think about your leaders and their country and Africa? Do you teach them history? Do you have lessons on how your past leaders stood by us and gave us large amounts of money? You know I hear from Angolans and Mozambicans and Zimbabweans how your people opened their hearts and their homes to them. I was in prison then, but we know how your leaders punished western companies who supported Apartheid.

"What about the corruption and the crimes? Your elections are like wars. Now we hear that you cannot be president in Nigeria unless you are Muslim or Christian. Some people tell me your country may break up. Please don't let it happen.
"Let me tell you what I think you need to do. You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources for education.

"Educate children of the poor, so that they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. Poor, uneducated people can also bring change, but it will be hijacked by the educated and the wealthy...give young Nigerians good education. Teach them the value of hard work and sacrifice, and discourage them from crimes which are destroying your image as a good people."

(Excerpts taken from a 2007 interview with Mandela conducted by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed).

Friday, 26 January 2018

Here Are Some of The Risks Business Owners in Nigeria Should Be Worried About in 2018

Recently, Allianz Global Corporate Specialty (AGCS) released the 7th annual Allianz Risk Barometer analyzing corporate risks globally. It also analyzes risks by region, country, industry, and size of business. According to the report companies operating in Nigeria are increasingly worried about theft, fraud, corruption, market developments as well as changes in legislation & regulation. Other growing concerns in the country are fire, explosion and power blackouts. The report is based on a survey conducted 1,911 risk experts from 80 countries.

"For the first time, business interruption and cyber risk are neck-and-neck in the Allianz Risk Barometer and these risks are increasingly interlinked. Whether resulting from attacks such as WannaCry, or more frequently, system failures, cyber incidents are now a major cause of business interruption for today's networked companies whose primary assets are often data, service platforms or their groups of customers and suppliers. However, last year's severe natural disasters remind us that the impact of perennial perils shouldn't be underestimated either. Risk managers face a highly complex and volatile environment of both traditional business risks and new technology challenges in future," said Chris Fischer Hirs, Chief Executive Officer, AGCS.

According to the report, studies show that corruption is a significant obstacle to business in Nigeria. Companies are very likely to encounter bribery and other corrupt practices. Corruption also features as a top 10 risk in West African countries, Togo and Ivory Coast, which participated in the survey for the first time. To provide financial protection for managers against the consequences of actual or alleged "wrongful acts" when acting in the scope of their managerial duties, companies may consider taking up Director & Officers (D&O) insurance. The D&O policy will pay for defence costs and financial losses. In addition, extensions to many D&O policies also cover costs for managers generated by administrative and criminal proceedings or in the course of investigations by regulators or criminal prosecutors.

The market and economic conditions are improving. "Recently, Nigeria resolved a six-quarter recession and an exchange rate crisis. A better business environment, as well as the recovery of oil prices, should help accelerate growth in 2018 to over 2.5% from 0.8% in 2017. However, the inflation persistence to around 12.9% in 2018 may well trigger another depreciation pressure on the Naira," says St├ęphane Colliac, Senior Economist from AGCS sister company, Euler Hermes.

Businesses' perception of the threat posed by political risks and violence remains relatively unchanged year-on-year. However, respondents are more worried about terrorism. Businesses do not have to be the direct victim to feel the effects. If an attack occurs nearby, the surrounding area may be closed, impacting operations. Globally, a general trend of increased political activism can be anticipated, causing further disruption.

New business interruption triggers are emerging

Business interruption (BI) can have a tremendous effect on a company's revenues. Yet its impact is one of the hardest risks to measure. "No business is too small to be impacted," says AGCS Africa CEO, Thusang Mahlangu, "A severe interruption can even have a terminal impact, particularly for smaller companies. But as many businesses transition from being rich in physical assets to derive more value from intangibles and services, increasingly, BI is being triggered by non-traditional risk exposures which don't cause physical damage but result in lost income – so-called nondamaged business interruption (NDBI)," Thusang Mahlangu said further.

Fire, explosion, which is a major source of BI, is a serious concern for Nigerian businesses, especially considering the many incidents that occurred in 2017. As one of the world's largest oil and gas producers, the country is highly susceptible to accidental fires that may interrupt power supplies. It is a known fact that power blackouts are prominent in the region. In fact, in a recent outage across the country, the ministry of power blamed it on a fire at a gas pipeline system that interrupted gas supply and affected the national transmission grid. Local businesses should ensure they have a sufficient backup or risk management plan for the production halt.

Cyber incidents through events such as WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks brought significant financial losses to a large number of businesses. Cyber threats also vary according to company size or industry. "Small companies are likely to be crippled if hit with a ransomware attack, while larger firms are targets of a greater range of threats, such as the DDoS attacks which can overwhelm systems," says AGCS Cyber Insurance Expert Nobuhle Nkosi.

New technologies rank as the second top risk for the long-term future after cyber incidents globally, with which it is closely interlinked. The vulnerability of automated or even autonomous or self-learning machines to failure or malicious cyber acts, such as extortion or espionage, will increase in future and could have a significant impact if critical infrastructure such as IT networks or power supply are involved.

"Although there may be fewer smaller losses due to automation and monitoring minimizing the human error factor, this may be replaced by the potential for large-scale losses, once an incident happens," explains Michael Bruch, Head of Emerging Trends, AGCS. "Businesses also have to prepare for new risks and liabilities as responsibilities shift from human to machine, and therefore to the manufacturer or software supplier. Assignment and coverage of liability will become much more challenging in future.

INEC Time Table Guidelines – National Assembly on the Right Path


The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has empowered the National Assembly with the responsibility of making laws that will ensure societal order; peaceful coexistence of Nigerian people; and good governance of the Federation.  The National Assembly is not restricted by any law and constitutional provision as to when such laws could be made.

It is against this background that we felt uncomfortable by the jaundiced criticism and remarks made against the effort of House of Representatives to streamline the electoral process in some quarters for unknown motives.

The House amended section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1). According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election. Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note "time for primaries of political parties among others, by so doing the House has not violated any sections of the Constitution which is the organic law of the land.  The House only amended an existing electoral law, why the hullaballoo?

Since 1999 till 2015 general elections, INEC has not adopted a fixed particular order the general elections timetable must followed.  In 2003 the governorship and States House of Assembly was first to be conducted and in 2011, National Assembly elections was conducted as the first elections.  More importantly, the amendment is not limited to the INEC time table guidelines alone, some other lacuna were resolved like the issue of candidate death before the final election results are announced, as was the case in Kogi State governorship election and also, the spending limit of candidates.

Democratic election is not merely a technical exercise and the success does not rest exclusively with the electoral authority. Independent National Electoral Commission is charged with providing an effective and neutral setting for voting, the actions of political actors and their supporters, security agencies media and voters significantly impacted on the integrity of the electoral process.  Each of these actors contributed to the outcome of any election. The mission of INEC in 2019 is to serve as an independent and effective EMB committed to conduct of free, fair and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

Conscious of the challenges ahead of Nigeria on the need for free and fair conduct of the 2019 general elections, we are determined not to rest on our oars in mounting more public enlightenment programmes across the country evolving a new democratic culture, good enough to secure a better future for every Nigerians. We appeal to less active political parties, it is not compulsory that a registered party must produce Presidential or Governorship candidates, with low level literacy combined with poor logistics, INEC may have problem in balloting process in 2019.  

 

 

Olufemi Aduwo

President, Rights Monitoring Group &

CEO, Centre for Convention on Democratic lntegrity {CCDI}

 

NB

Olufemi Aduwo served as a member, INEC Election Monitoring Board, 2009-2010

{The Board that conducted Anambra State Governorship Election 2009};

Member, INEC Election Observer's Mission to United States, 2009

United Kingdom Election Observer [from Nigeria} 2006; and

Observed Brexit Referendum, 2016.

CCDI has Consultative Status of ECOSOC/United Nations


Obasanjo Govt $3b On Power Sector.

Contrary to what mischief makers and the likes of Orji Kalu  would like the Nigerian public to believe the truth was laid to rest long ago.

As the House of Representatives continues to dilly-dally over its power probe report in 2007,  fresh facts emerged  that contrary to claim that about $13 billion was squandered by the Obasanjo administration on the power sector, only about $3.08 billion was actually expended. 
This indication was from a summary presentation on the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) presented to the National Economic Council (NEC) by the Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State.
Suswam, on behalf  of the Presidential Review Panel on the NIPP set up by the NEC, said the panel found that as at 2007, total project allocations/ estimates to NIPP was $10.231 billion inclusive of the $2 billion Federal Government counterpart funding for Mambilla Hydro Power project and $1.4 billion for additional nine turbines. 
According to Suswam, out of these commitments, only $3.08 billion was funded and scrutinised with advance payment guarantees from "first class" Nigerian banks and Letters of Credits issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He said over $1.5 billion of the sum is still in the custody of the banks. 
The report also said there waa an ongoing comprehensive review exercise taking place to determine the most up-to-date estimates of costs to complete the project. This is in view of the cost over runs arising from over 18 months of delay and stall in funding. 
Suswam, in his report, also identified intermittency and stoppage of funds as among the factors that helped to frustrate the implementation. 
Lack of thorough feasibility studies was also fingered as being responsible for the several challenges of the project in the area of transportation, water supply and transmission connections to the sites. 
There was also what the report called "slow pace of surveys, enumeration work and payment to land owners has impacted on site development. The project also lacked clear and defined ownership structure/agreed responsibilities and it has resulted in a dis-jointed and uncoordinated project implementation".
For a new approach in the project, Suswam advocated the need to undertake comprehensive studies of the project strengths and weaknesses as well as rekindle federal and state governments' interests in the project as shareholders on the investment. 
He underscored the importance of good funding to complete the projects in order to realise the full value. 
The report also recommended that the project should be executed under a new management structure and pragmatic and dynamic implementation scheme and efforts should be made to eliminate project bottlenecks through stakeholders' participation. 
The report said after due deliberations, the committee  agreed that completing the project as initiated is the right way to go as it would be the only sure way to improve Nigeria's power supply logjam and free its citizenry and businesses from the shackles of darkness. 
On the funding procedure henceforth, the committee recommended that $5.237 billion be provided through the interaction/cooperation of the federal and state governments. 
The committee also suggested the legitimising of fund allocations from the Excess Crude Savings Account by securing appropriations by the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly. 
Among the terms of reference of the panel headed by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan and governors drawn from the six geo-political zones as members included how to meet the 6000mw estimated by the government by 2009 and to recommend appropriate utilisation of government's $5.3 billion. 
Yar'Adua had last year ignited the debate when he disclosed that over $10 billion was spent on power by the previous administration with nothing to show for it. 
The Speaker of the House Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, followed suit by saying the sum was over $16 billion, while the House power probe committee Chairman, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, gave a figure of $13 billion. 
Almost one year after the motion for the probe was moved by the House Minority Leader, Hon Ali Ndume, the report is yet to be debated many months after it was submitted by the committee

George Soros Remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum Davos, Switzerland


 
The current moment in history 
 
Good evening. It has become something of an annual Davos tradition for me to give an overview of the current state of the world. I was planning half an hour for my remarks and half an hour for questions, but my speech has turned out to be closer to an hour. I attribute this to the severity of the problems confronting us. After I've finished, I'll open it up for your comments and questions. So prepare yourselves.
 
***
 
I find the current moment in history rather painful. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Putin's Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, President Trump would like to establish a mafia state but he can't, because the Constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won't allow it.
 
Whether we like it or not, my foundations, most of our grantees and myself personally are fighting an uphill battle, protecting the democratic achievements of the past. My foundations used to focus on the so-called developing world, but now that the open society is also endangered in the United States and Europe, we are spending more than half our budget closer to home because what is happening here is having a negative impact on the whole world.
 
But protecting the democratic achievements of the past is not enough; we must also safeguard the values of open society so that they will better withstand future onslaughts. Open society will always have its enemies, and each generation has to reaffirm its commitment to open society for it to survive.
 
The best defense is a principled counterattack. The enemies of open society feel victorious and this induces them to push their repressive efforts too far, this generates resentment and offers opportunities to push back. That is what is happening in places like Hungary today.
 
***
 
I used to define the goals of my foundations as "defending open societies from their enemies, making governments accountable and fostering a critical mode of thinking". But the situation has deteriorated. Not only the survival of open society, but the survival of our entire civilization is at stake. The rise of leaders such as Kim Jong-Un in North Korea and Donald Trump in the US have much to do with this. Both seem willing to risk a nuclear war in order to keep themselves in power. But the root cause goes even deeper.
 
Mankind's ability to harness the forces of nature, both for constructive and destructive purposes, continues to grow while our ability to govern ourselves properly fluctuates, and it is now at a low ebb.
 
The threat of nuclear war is so horrendous that we are inclined to ignore it. But it is real. Indeed, the United States is set on a course toward nuclear war by refusing to accept that North Korea has become a nuclear power. This creates a strong incentive for North Korea to develop its nuclear capacity with all possible speed, which in turn may induce the United States to use its nuclear superiority preemptively; in effect to start a nuclear war in order to prevent nuclear war – an obviously self-contradictory strategy. 
 
The fact is, North Korea has become a nuclear power and there is no military action that can prevent what has already happened. The only sensible strategy is to accept reality, however unpleasant it is, and to come to terms with North Korea as a nuclear power. This requires the United States to cooperate with all the interested parties, China foremost among them. Beijing holds most of the levers of power against North Korea, but is reluctant to use them. If it came down on Pyongyang too hard, the regime could collapse and China would be flooded by North Korean refugees. What is more, Beijing is reluctant to do any favors for the United States, South Korea or Japan-- against each of which it harbors a variety of grudges. Achieving cooperation will require extensive negotiations, but once it is attained, the alliance would be able to confront North Korea with both carrots and sticks. The sticks could be used to force it to enter into good faith negotiations and the carrots to reward it for verifiably suspending further development of nuclear weapons. The sooner a so-called freeze-for-freeze agreement can be reached, the more successful the policy will be. Success can be measured by the amount of time it would take for North Korea to make its nuclear arsenal fully operational. I'd like to draw your attention to two seminal reports just published by Crisis Group on the prospects of nuclear war in North Korea.
 
***
 
The other major threat to the survival of our civilization is climate change, which is also a growing cause of forced migration. I have dealt with the problems of migration at great length elsewhere, but I must emphasize how severe and intractable those problems are.  I don't want to go into details on climate change either because it is well known what needs to be done. We have the scientific knowledge; it is the political will that is missing, particularly in the Trump administration.
 
Clearly, I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world. But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner. I give President Trump credit for motivating his core supporters brilliantly, but for every core supporter, he has created a greater number of core opponents who are equally strongly motivated. That is why I expect a Democratic landslide in 2018.
 
My personal goal in the United States is to help reestablish a functioning two-party system. This will require not only a landslide in 2018 but also a Democratic Party that will aim at non-partisan redistricting, the appointment of well-qualified judges, a properly conducted census and other measures that a functioning two-party system requires.
 
 
The IT monopolies
 
I want to spend the bulk of my remaining time on another global problem: the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies. These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown into ever more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.
 
Companies earn their profits by exploiting their environment. Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment. This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.
 
The distinguishing feature of internet platform companies is that they are networks and they enjoy rising marginal returns; that accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than 3 years.
 
Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all internet advertising revenue. To maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and increase their share of users' attention. Currently they do this by providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies.
 
Content providers also contribute to the profitability of social media companies because they cannot avoid using the platforms and they have to accept whatever terms they are offered.
 
The exceptional profitability of these companies is largely a function of their avoiding responsibility for-- and avoiding paying for-- the content on their platforms.
 
They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access.
 
The business model of social media companies is based on advertising. Their true customers are the advertisers. But gradually a new business model is emerging, based not only on advertising but on selling products and services directly to users. They exploit the data they control, bundle the services they offer and use discriminatory pricing to keep for themselves more of the benefits that otherwise they would have to share with consumers. This enhances their profitability even further – but the bundling of services and discriminatory pricing undermine the efficiency of the market economy.
 
Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents. There is a similarity between internet platforms and gambling companies. Casinos have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don't have.
 
Something very harmful and maybe irreversible is happening to human attention in our digital age. Not just distraction or addiction; social media companies are inducing people to give up their autonomy. The power to shape people's attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called "the freedom of mind." There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences. People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated. This danger does not loom only in the future; it already played an important role in the 2016 US presidential elections.
 
But there is an even more alarming prospect on the horizon. There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.
 
The countries in which such unholy marriages are likely to occur first are Russia and China. The Chinese IT companies in particular are fully equal to the American ones. They also enjoy the full support and protection of the Xi Jingping regime. The government of China is strong enough to protect its national champions, at least within its borders. 
 
US-based IT monopolies are already tempted to compromise themselves in order to gain entrance to these vast and fast growing markets. The dictatorial leaders in these countries may be only too happy to collaborate with them since they want to improve their methods of control over their own populations and expand their power and influence in the United States and the rest of the world.
 
The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position. It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken. Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered. Regulation and taxation will be their undoing and EU Competition Commissioner Vestager will be their nemesis.  
 
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There is also a growing recognition of a connection between the dominance of the platform monopolies and the rising level of inequality. The concentration of share ownership in the hands of a few private individuals plays some role but the peculiar position occupied by the IT giants is even more important. They have achieved monopoly power but at the same time they are also competing against each other. They are big enough to swallow start-ups that could develop into competitors, but only the giants have the resources to invade each other's territory. They are poised to dominate the new growth areas that artificial intelligence is opening up, like driverless cars.

The impact of innovations on unemployment depends on government policies. The European Union and particularly the Nordic countries are much more farsighted in their social policies than the United States. They protect the workers, not the jobs. They are willing to pay for re-training or retiring displaced workers. This gives workers in Nordic countries a greater sense of security and makes them more supportive of technological innovations than workers in the US.
 
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The internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace and it falls to the regulatory authorities to protect society against them. In the US, the regulators are not strong enough to stand up against their political influence. The European Union is better situated because it doesn't have any platform giants of its own.
 
The European Union uses a different definition of monopoly power from the United States. US law enforcement focuses primarily on monopolies created by acquisitions, whereas EU law prohibits the abuse of monopoly power irrespective of how it is achieved. Europe has much stronger privacy and data protection laws than America. Moreover, US law has adopted a strange doctrine: it measures harm as an increase in the price paid by customers for services received – and that is almost impossible to prove when most services are provided for free. This leaves out of consideration the valuable data platform companies collect from their users.
 
Commissioner Vestager is the champion of the European approach. It took the EU seven years to build a case against Google, but as a result of her success the process has been greatly accelerated. Due to her proselytizing, the European approach has begun to affect attitudes in the United States as well.
 
 
The rise of nationalism and how to reverse it
 
I have mentioned some of the most pressing and important problems confronting us today. In conclusion, let me point out that we are living in a revolutionary period. All our established institutions are in a state of flux and in these circumstances both fallibility and reflexivity are operating at full force.
 
I lived through similar conditions in my life, most recently some thirty years ago. That is when I set up my network of foundations in the former Soviet empire. The main difference between the two periods is that thirty years ago the dominant creed was international governance and cooperation. The European Union was the rising power and the Soviet Union the declining one. Today, however, the motivating force is nationalism. Russia is resurgent and the European Union is in danger of abandoning its values.
 
As you will recall, the previous experience didn't turn out well for the Soviet Union. The Soviet empire collapsed and Russia has become a mafia state that has adopted a nationalist ideology. My foundations did quite well: the more advanced members of the Soviet empire joined the European Union.
 
Now our aim is to help save the European Union in order to radically reinvent it. The EU used to enjoy the enthusiastic support of the people of my generation, but that changed after the financial crisis of 2008. The EU lost its way because it was governed by outdated treaties and a mistaken belief in austerity policies. What had been a voluntary association of equal states was converted into a relationship between creditors and debtors where the debtors couldn't meet their obligations and the creditors set the conditions that the debtors had to meet. That association was neither voluntary nor equal.
 
As a consequence, a large proportion of the current generation has come to regard the European Union as its enemy. One important country, Britain, is in the process of leaving the EU and at least two countries, Poland and Hungary, are ruled by governments that are adamantly opposed to the values on which the European Union is based. They are in acute conflict with various European institutions and those institutions are trying to discipline them. In several other countries anti-European parties are on the rise. In Austria, they are in the governing coalition and the fate of Italy will be decided by the elections in March.
 
How can we prevent the European Union from abandoning its values? We need to reform it at every level: at the level of the Union itself, at the level of the member states and the level of the electorate. We are in a revolutionary period; everything is subject to change. The decisions taken now will determine the shape of the future.
 
At the Union level, the main question is what to do about the euro. Should every member state be required to eventually adopt the euro or should the current situation be allowed to continue indefinitely? The Maastricht Treaty prescribed the first alternative but the euro has developed some defects that the Maastricht Treaty didn't foresee and still await resolution.
 
Should the problems of the euro be allowed to endanger the future of the European Union? I would strongly argue against it. The fact is that the countries that don't qualify, are eager to join, but those that do qualify have decided against it, with the exception of Bulgaria. In addition, I would like to see Britain remain a member of the EU or eventually rejoin it and that couldn't happen if it meant adopting the euro.
 
The choice confronting the EU could be better formulated as one between a multi-speed and a multi-track approach. In a multi-speed approach, member states have to agree in advance on the ultimate outcome; in a multi-track approach,  member states are free to form coalitions of the willing to pursue particular goals on which they agree. The multi-track approach is obviously more flexible but the European bureaucracy favored the multi-speed approach. That was an important contributor to the rigidity of the EU's structure.
 
At the level of the member states, their political parties are largely outdated. The old distinction between left and right is overshadowed by being either pro or anti-European. This manifests itself differently in different countries.
 
In Germany, the Siamese twin arrangement between the CDU and the CSU has been rendered unsustainable by the results of the recent elections. There is another party, the AfD further to the right than the CSU in Bavaria. This has forced the CSU to move further to the right in anticipation of next year's local elections in Bavaria so that the gap between the CSU and the CDU has become too great.  This has rendered the German party system largely dysfunctional until the CDU and CSU break up.
 
In Britain, the Conservatives are clearly the party of the right and Labor the party of the left, but each party is internally divided in its attitude toward Brexit. This complicates the Brexit negotiations immensely, and makes it extremely difficult for Britain as a country to decide and modify its position towards Europe.
 
Other European countries can be expected to undergo similar realignments with the exception of France, which has already undergone its internal revolution.
 
At the level of the electorate the top-down initiative started by a small group of visionaries led by Jean Monnet carried the process of integration a long way but it has lost its momentum. Now we need a combination of the top-down approach of the European authorities with the bottom-up initiatives started by an engaged electorate. Fortunately, there are many such bottom-up initiatives; it remains to be seen how the authorities will respond to them. So far President Macron has shown himself most responsive. He campaigned for the French presidency on a pro-European platform and his current strategy focuses on the elections for the European Parliament in 2019 – and that requires engaging the electorate.
 
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While I have analyzed Europe in greater detail, from a historical perspective what happens in Asia is ultimately much more important. China is the rising power. There were many fervent believers in the open society in China who were sent to be re-educated in rural areas during Mao's Revolution. Those who survived returned to occupy positions of power in the government. So the future direction of China used to be open-ended; but no more.
 
The promoters of open society have reached retirement age and Xi Jinping, who has more in common with Putin than with the so-called West, has begun to establish a new system of party patronage. I'm afraid that the outlook for the next twenty years is rather bleak. Nevertheless, it is important to embed China in institutions of global governance. This may help to avoid a world war that would destroy our entire civilization.
 
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That leaves the local battlegrounds in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. My foundations are actively engaged in all of them. We are particularly focused on Africa, where would-be dictators in Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo have perpetrated electoral fraud on an unprecedented scale and citizens are literally risking their lives to resist the slide into dictatorship. Our goal is to empower local people to deal with their own problems, assist the disadvantaged and reduce human suffering to the greatest extent possible. This will leave us plenty to do well beyond my lifetime.