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Saturday, July 25

UNILAG protest: JAMB explains new admission policy

The Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Dibu Ojerinde, has reacted to the protest at the University of Lagos by parents and candidates who could not access the university’s admission.

According to him, the policy introduced by JAMB, for which he has been criticised, “is actually meant to help the candidates not only to get admission but to get it on time.”

Ojerinde explained that the decision to reallocate candidates who cannot be admitted into their choice institutions because of the high cut-off marks set by the institutions for the various courses, to other federal, states and private institutions in that order, depending on the availability of spaces; choice of the course of the candidate; geographical zone of the candidates’ first choice and the performance of the candidates, was to help the candidates and reduce the numbers of qualified candidates who miss out on admissions yearly due to limited spaces.

He noted that JAMB had made the situation clear to the institutions during its policy meeting on 14th July, after it held discussions with the representatives of the federal, state and private universities where the degree of the problems of candidates were presented and solutions were proffered.
“By this approach, wastage of high scores will be reduced, the fate of the candidates will be determined on time and yet the interest of their areas of study may be satisfied,” Ojerinde stated.

He explained that the decision became imperative because “the big universities are overloaded” while others have spaces that are not filled.

“Can you imagine 8,000 students seeking admission to study law in a university that will take only 250 candidates for law? The remaining 7,750 candidates will wait endlessly and hopelessly till the end of the admission. Or imagine 7,500 candidates seeking admission to study medicine in a university. Of these 7,500 candidates, 2,000 scored above 250 in the UTME. The university has a carrying capacity of only 150 candidates for medicine. The remaining 7,350 who scored above 200 will be wasted. Particularly, 1,750 candidates who scored above 250 will be wasted while other universities either do not have enough candidates or high scoring candidates,” Professor Ojerinde further explained.

He added that JAMB had discovered that courses like Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Agricultural Engineering and related courses are, in most cases, without enough candidates in the universities while everyone scampered to study medicine and only a small percentage eventually get admitted.

“We are saying; let’s give them a feel of chance somewhere else that has not gotten enough candidates for law or medicine by sending the names of these high scorers to “needy” universities. In addition, the concept of selection by merit, catchment area and educationally less developed states will be adequately catered for.

“However, I am not saying that everyone will get admission or even get their original choice of course of study. But it is better than wasting the time, finances, and good scores of these candidates. We need to fill the available spaces as given to us by the regulatory bodies such as the National Universities Commission (NUC); National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).

” But if a candidate does not want the given opportunity, he can decline the offer and just refuse to take any step,” the JAMB Registrar stated.

Ojerinde indicted some so-called educational consultants who have hidden agenda, which are being thwarted by JAMB’s proactive steps, as being behind the protests, warning that: “This is a period of CHANGE. If they do not CHANGE they will be CHANGED.”
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Timaya denies allegations of rape

Popular Nigerian musician, Timaya has reacted to the sexual abuse allegation by a US-based woman, Shella, denying raping her.

Below is Timaya’s statement

I have been talking with this girl for about one year and its funny how someone you think you know can act very hungry and low. How can I leave Nigeria and go to America where the law works to rape anyone? Am I crazy?

This girl who had been promising to blow out my brains with sex when she sees me begged to see me when she knew i was in town but i didnt know that she had a hidden agenda. I agreed to see her and she came to my hotel in Atlanta and we got down for real. When we were done and we were chilling, I got a call from my manager that we needed to start preparing for a show.She asked to go with me to the show as a couple but i said no and told her I was there to work.

I got up and started preparing for the show but I realised her phone wouldn’t leave my face and she kept asking me stupid questions and even as I answered I wondered what she was up to, then it hit me that she was recording and I grabbed her phone and we struggled cos I wanted to delete the videos she had made without my consent. I don’t even know if she still has any but I deleted the ones I could on her phone .

I called the hotel security and explained what had happened to them. I told them to open her phone so that I could see what she had left but she refused and was making a scene and the hotel told her to get out but I didn’t want her to go cos I was scared of what she might have recorded and I insisted on calling the Police but the hotel told me that if I called the police, I might be arrested for holding her hostage in my room so I let her go.

After then she kept calling me and she kept changing her story telling me that I raped her. I tried to play it cool by begging her not to to take the route she had taken, I really begged her but she told me I had to pay her 50k dollars for her to forget about it, she obviously didn’t record that part because she had ulterior motives. After her demand for me to pay her, I stopped calling her or taking her calls and i changed my number and she i guess she got frustrated and went on the internet to try and do damage.

I Timaya cannot be a rapist..NEVER. I have daughters and I have a conscience. I can never be a voice that rapes and if i am so pressed for sex,i know how to get it,I will never take sex when a girl says NO. I am a young man that is doing very well and i guess she had expectations that i didnt meet up to and she decided to use rape because she knows that’s the fastest way to bring anyone down.
I wonder why she also went to open another instagram when her real handle is @officialshella_b Since she called me out using my name and pic and if she wasnt lying she could have done same and provided proof of some sort of injuries gotten from any physical altercation. She carefully used the conversation I was begging her not to ruin my career cos I was trying to play it down
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Pastor Adeboye opens prayer mountain in Osun state

Some 30 years after an idea for a prayer mountain was birthed to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and his wife, Pastor (Mrs) Foluke Adeboye, in faraway South Korea, a magnificent prayer mountain has been unveiled in Ifewara, Osun State.

Ifewara, some 10 minutes off Ile-Ife, is the hometown of Pastor Adeboye. Named Mount Carmel Prayer Mountain, the facility was opened recently at a relatively quiet ceremony that drew RCCG elders and pastors as well as digni-taries from Ifewara, in addition to workers and volunteers.

Specifically built and fully equipped for its purpose as a prayer village; Mount Carmel is a modern facility of a magnificent mix of sanctuaries, dormitories, chalets and numerous prayer huts flowing down the slope of a hill, sandwitched between bigger residential blocks.

There are halls of various sizes and to avoid distractions of going out in search of daily needs there is a restaurant, bookshop, a super-market, etc. Of course there is reliable electricity there.

Welcoming guests to the opening ceremony, Pastor (Mrs.) Adeboye, who supervised the project, re-vealed that although the plot of land had been acquired by them years ago for a prayer mountain, the land had been lying fallow until about seven years ago when her husband moved for its dev-elopment.

According to her, she asked Daddy G.O.: “Who is going to help you build it?” And Pastor Adeboye answered: “God, but you will be following His leading to do it.”

As she wondered how she would start, an architect volunteered to design the facility, and with the support of engineers, and other workers the forested hill slope turned years later into a beauty to behold.

Tracing the origin of the project, she said: “We had been inspired to build a prayer mountain by what we saw in South Korea in 1985. We went for David Yonggi Cho’s prayer conference and one afternoon, he took delegates to their prayer mountain, which we admired so much.

“But then, we said, ‘God, this is South Korea. We travelled almost a whole day to get here. How can we have something like this in Nigeria?’ And since 1985, we had it in our minds that one day, there would be a prayer mountain of a similar status in Nigeria,” she said.

Explaining the rationale behind the name, she said: “We named this Mount Carmel after the Mount Carmel where Prophet Elijah defeated the work of the devil. We also remembered the Mount of Transfiguration.”

Corroborating his wife’s account, Pastor Adeboye said: “When we returned from South Korea in 1985, we decided, by the grace of God, that there would be a prayer mountain in Nigeria that people from all over the world would come to pray.”

They consulted and later bought the land but “the challenges were much. But what I had discussed with God about the prayer mountain remained burning in my heart. The way I had planned it, the place should have been built many years ago, but in the face of the enormous challenges, we resorted to building a place called “Halleluyah House” at the Redemption Camp.

“Yet the passion for the prayer mountain was still burning in my heart. I believed that by the time I was 60 years old, we would have built it, but it was not possible. When I was getting to 70 years old, I remembered that every year after 70 years of a man on earth is extra time,” he continued.

“To ensure that the dream would not die, and efforts that had been made would not be fruitless, I called my wife and gave her the responsibility to build this prayer mountain,” Daddy G.O. said.
Among those present at the event were some elders of Ifewara, Professor Fola Aboaba, Elder Moronfolu Olusola Olakunrin (SAN), Elder Felix Ohiwerei, Bishop Wale Oke and his wife.

Culled from Vanguard
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FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers: Falconets trash Liberia 14-1

The Nigerian under-20 women football team on Saturday in Abuja beat their Liberian counterparts 7-0 to progress to the next round of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers.

Thee Falconets qualified on a 14-1 aggregate after winning the first leg game a fortnight ago in Monrovia 7-1.

Uchendu Chinaza opened scores in the 23rd minute, before Ojinma Amarachi added the second goal in the 25th minute.

The third goal was from a penalty kick by Amina Yakubu in the 36th minute, while team captain Yetunde Adeboyejo scored the fourth goal in the 38th minute.

Joy Bokiri made it 5-0 in the 71st minute of the game while Yakubu scored her second goal in the 74th minute.

The seventh goal came in the 84th minute through Bokiri.

Speaking after he match, Falconets’ chief coach Peter Dedevbo said he used the match to ensure that his team could play perfectly as a team.

“Our emphasis in today’s match was not to score goals but to see how my team can play together, and we thank God that the goals came.

“I was disappointed with them in the first half, but in the long run I am happy at their performance,’’ he said.

On his part, Liberia’s coach Christopher Wreh attributed his team’s performance to lack of support from the government.(NAN)
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Beware of disgruntled politicians – Sultan

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar has urged Nigerians not to allow some disgruntled politicians to instigate them to cause a breach of the peace.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Abubakar spoke in Sokoto on Saturday at a Sallah lunch he organized for members of the resident communities in the state.

“Those who have lost out in politics can instigate others to cause problems in Nigeria, which are capable of causing the breach of the peace.

“We should all be wary of such unpatriotic Nigerians, so that Nigerians can live peaceflly with each other,” he added.

According to the monarch, the settler-indigenes dichotomy is the major problem in many states of the federation.

“How can somebody who has lived in a place for close to forty or over forty years be regarded as a non-indigene?

“In America, if a child is born today, he or she will be given a visa, this is how it is supposed to be globally.

“Sokoto is home to all, irrespective of religious, political, social or ethnic differences, and everybody doesn’t pay school fees for their kids, at primary and secondary school levels here,” he said.

Abubakar challenged leaders to be just, pious, fair and equitable to all, so as to achieve and sustain peace and socio-economic development.

The Sultan also called on Nigerians to work for the change they had voted for in recent elections.

He also appealed to Nigerians to come together and live peacefully with one another, and urged the leaders to carry all Nigerians along.

“This world is a very short place to be and discrimination in any form is anti-progress.

“This annual forum would be sustained in appreciation of your commendable roles to contribute to boost the socio-economic development, as well as the peace of the state and Nigeria in general,” the Sultan said.

The President-General of the Association of Resident Communities, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim had commended the Sultan for the gesture, describing Sokoto as the most peaceful state in Nigeria.

Ibrahim also underscored the sterling contributions of the Sultan to peace and unity of Nigeria and beyond.

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Soldiers disrupt meeting of ex-militants in Bayelsa

Following the proposed  meeting of Niger Delta ex-militants in Bayelsa, a combined team of soldiers and policemen have been drafted to venue to seal it up and prevent it from holding.

NE gathered that the security operatives were deployed on the orders of Governor Seriake Dickson on Friday.

Civil servants in Bayelsa Ministry if Culture and Ijaw National Affairs and other government agencies with offices in the same building were denied access to their offices on Friday.

The Bayelsa government had announced the cancellation of the meeting convened by ex-militants leaders in Bayelsa in a statement on Friday.

The Bayelsa Governor, Mr. Dickson, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, stated that the governor has offered to meet with the former militants leaders at a later date.

“Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson has called for the postponement of the proposed meeting of the leaders of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta, earlier scheduled for this Saturday, 25th of July, 2015 in Yenagoa by them,” Mr. Iworiso-Markson said.

The statement added that the governor will meet with them soon, to discuss issues as it affects the ex-agitators and others issues of overall strategic interest of the region and the nation as a whole.

Mr. Iworiso-Markson called for the understanding and cooperation of all concerned.

However, in a reaction to Bayelsa Govrnment’s seal off of the venue, the Ijaw Youths Council in a statement by its spokesperson, Eric Omare, blamed President Muhammad Buhari for the development.

“The Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide condemn in the strongest terms the military invasion of Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; the administrative headquarters of the Ijaw National Congress the Ijaw Youth Council and housing the Bayelsa State Ministry of Ijaw National Affairs and Culture,” he said.

“A combined team of military and police officers in the early hours of Friday, the 24th of July, 2015 invaded and took over Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to prevent ex-Niger Delta agitators from having their proposed meeting on Saturday, the 25th of July, 2015.

“This is illegal, unconstitutional and a draw back to the dark days of military dictatorship where Nigerians were deprived of their fundamental rights.

“The IYC wishes to remind the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, that we are in a constitutional democracy where things are done according to law.”

The IYC also alleged that Mr. Buhari had a plot to attack the Niger Delta region.

“The fears of many Nigerians that General Buhari would take Nigeria back to the dark days of dictatorship where there is no regard for human rights are coming to reality,” he said.
“The IYC has it on good authority that President Buhari has an agenda to bomb and destroy the Niger-Delta region especially the Ijaw areas.

“The military movement into the Niger Delta region we have been reliably informed would commence this week.”
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Senator Patrick Leahy: With friends like this by Femi Fani-Kayode

The United States government helped Boko Haram immensly by refusing to classify them as a terrorist organisation until 2014 and by refusing to sell us arms to fight them. Worst still, they imposed an international arms embargo on us so that we could not buy arms from anyone else in the international community. When asked why they are doing this to us they tell us that it is because of the Leahy Act which prohibits them from selling arms to governments that violate the human rights of their own citizens.

They forget that we are in the middle of a bitter war and that our enemies are being sponsored and supported by both ISIL and Al Qaeda. They forget that over 50,000 innocent Nigerians have been slaughtered in cold blood and thousands more raped and abducted during the course of that war over the last 5 years. They disregard the fact that every day Nigerians are bleeding more and more and that our gallant Armed Forces, through no fault of their own, have not been able to get the necessary weapons to fight back effectively.

Some things are above partisan politics and this is one of them. Regardless of whichever political party we belong to we must all join forces and support the fight against Boko Haram. We must do this regardless of party affiliation because if we don’t Boko Haram will consumme us all, whether we are PDP, APC or anything else.

We love and admire the Americans and we regard their country as a bastion of good governance, justice, equity and decency. We also recognise the fact that they have brought an immense amount of good into the world over the last 100 years and that they continue to do so.

However in this matter of arms supply to our country it appears to me that a double standard is being applied. It is almost as if they want Nigeria to be brought to her knees and that they want us to be humiliated and destroyed. All the territory that was recovered from Boko Haram by the Jonathan administration is now being threatened again or has been retaken by Boko Haram in the last few weeks.

This comes as a direct consequence of the fact that the Americans have refused to sell us arms and the new allies and friends that the Jonathan administration reached out to in their stead just a few months before leaving power together with the military assistance contracts that they entered into at the time for help in the war against Boko Haram have been terminated.

This is very sad because the immediate consequence of it is the fact that over 1000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last two months alone. That means over 100 people per week have been murdered by the terrorists since May 29th. This must stop and something has to give. We must support the new government in their efforts to stem the tide and to fight terror.

This is all the more important when one considers the fact that there seems to be some hidden agenda on the part of the western powers, led by America, to ensure that we do not acquire the necessary weapons to take on Boko Haram effectively.

When one considers the position of the American government one is forced to ask the following question: w hy did they not invoke the Leahy Act against Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya and Iraq for human rights violations? Why do they continue to supply arms to the governments of all those countries despite what they have done to many of their own citizens and those that they oppose just outside their borders?

Why is it only Nigeria that they have refused to sell arms to and that they have imposed an international arms embargo on even though we are fighting a civil war against a barbaric, relentless and evil enemy that is being sponsored by ISIL and Al Qaeda? Given all this, I believe that it is time for us as a country to begin to reconsider who our friends really are? They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed. You cannot say that you are our friends whilst you sit by idly and watch the blood of our people being shed on a daily basis yet you refuse to do anything about it.

We are not asking you to send troops to fight for us or to give us free arms. We are not cowards or beggars. We are simply asking to buy sophisticated arms and modern weapons from you so that we can defend our people yet you keep saying no and you are urging others not to sell to us either. This is not the act of a friend.

It is unacceptable, it is unfair and, if sustained, it will prove to be counter-productive to the interests of the Americans in our country and in the west African sub-region. The truth is that given the attitude of the United States government I believe that it is time for us to rely far more on our Chinese and Russian friends in our collective war against terror.

I say this because it appears that the western powers and our traditional allies like the United Kingdom, France and America have left us in the lurch. Whichever way we can be rest assured of one thing: Nigeria will never be brought to her knees and ultimately we will win this war because God is with us.

On a final note permit me to take this opportunity to respond to the words of U.S. Senator Patrick Leah, the convener and author of the Leah Act, who has said that our Armed Forces are nothing but ”rapists and murderers”. He also said that we should ”clean up our military” if we want the arms embargo lifted.

This type of condescending, colonial-overlord, slave-master and gung-ho language and contribution from this foreigner is most unhelpful and it is totally unacceptable. This is all the more so because his words are simply not true.

Whether the Leahy’s of this world wish to accept it or not the truth is that the Nigerian Armed Forces, despite their limitations and constraints, remain one of the most outstanding, successful, courageous, battle-ready and disciplined fighting forces on the African continent. History can attest to that and the sacrifice that those gallant young men and women in uniform make on a daily basis on the battle field in the fight against Boko Haram and in the war against terror over the last five years is a reflection of their deep patriotism and noble calling.

Referring to them as nothing but ”rapists and murderers” is not only a sweeping statement and an absurd generalisation but it is also a deep insult to the Nigerian people and a denigration of the memory of all those courageous young men and women that fought and died on the war-front defending our country.

The truth is that Senator Leahy is nothing but a low-life redneck and so are all those that think like him and that have his mindset. He is the scum of the earth: a typically confused, ignorant, petty-minded, blinkered and racist yankee who has little understanding of world affairs, no understanding of our situation in Nigeria and Africa and no sense of history. He owes the Nigerian people and our Armed Forces an unreserved apology and until he purges himself and renders it, I urge every self-respecting Nigerian to treat him with the contempt and disdain that he deserves.
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2018 World Cup qualifiers: Nigeria to play Djibouti or Swaziland

Nigeria will play Djibouti or Swaziland in a two-leg knockout tie in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign following the African zone draw made in St Petersburg, Russia on Saturday.

Neighbours, Cameroon will have to negotiate a tricky two-leg knockout tie against Somalia or Niger. Somalia and Niger will meet in the first round and the winners play the Indomitable Lions over two
legs in the second.

South Sudan, who joined FIFA in 2012, will face Mauritania in their first-ever World Cup qualifier, with the opening leg at home. The winners play Tunisia in the second round.

African champions Ivory Coast must face Liberia or Guinea-Bissau.

Angola will meet South Africa in arguably the toughest of the second-round meetings.

The 26 lowest-ranked African teams take part in the first round and the winners join the remaining 27 African sides in the second stage, again played on a knockout basis with each tie over two legs played from Nov. 9-17.

This creates a potential pitfall for the established teams who run the risk of being eliminated because of a single shock result.

In the third round, the 20 teams are divided into five groups of four and the winners of each group qualify for the World Cup.

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Man rushed to the hospital after sex performance enhancer enlarges his pennis beyond expectation

The men of the Lagos State Fire Service said on Saturday that they rescued a 40-year-old man from death after he used a sex perfomnce enhancer that enlarged his pennis beyond expectation.

The Director, Mr rasak Fadipe, who made the disclosure in Lagos, said the man wore a metal ring on his penis.

The ring, according to him, was to enhance erection and ultimately enhance sexual satisfaction but turned out to swell the organ beyond his expectation.

“His experience turned sour when the penis became so erect and swollen beyond his expectation and could not come down and the ring could not be removed.

“When it became apparent that the condition was threatening his life, he rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja for help.

“The hospital invited the service to rescue the man, when they could not easily remove the ring.

“We successfully removed the metal ring in collaboration with the hospital staff at the emergency unit using our rescue tools,’’ he said.

“The incident happened at about 3.15 p.m. on Friday and it took us about 50 minutes for the operation.

“The man wore the ring to enhance his penis for sexual satisfaction, but it turned out to be a threat to his life,’’ Fadipe said. (NAN)
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Okocha's nephew, Alex Iwobi helps Arsenal trash Lyon 6-0

Alex Iwobi. nephew of former Nigeria star Jay-Jay Okocha scored his first goal for Arsenal as they continued their preparations for the new season with a 6-0 friendly win over Lyon.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, diverting a Mesut Ozil cross beyond Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes before the Frenchman turned provider for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Youngster Alex Iwobi added a third, completing a well-worked team goal, before the impressive Aaron Ramsey latched on to an Ozil pass to finish from close range.

Ozil added a fifth after the break, thumping a low strike beyond Lopes and into the bottom corner, and Santi Cazorla rounded off the scoring with a free kick late on.

With a point awarded for every goal, Arsenal now top the group with nine, ahead of Villarreal, who beat Wolfsburg 2-1 earlier on Saturday.

Lyon created the first opening of the game when Alexandre Lacazette's delightful flick played in Clinton N'Jie, but Emiliano Martinez was out quickly to make a low save.

Clement Grenier hobbled off with what looked like a hip injury in the 24th minute, and Arsenal piled the misery on Lyon as the floodgates opened.

Giroud was the first to find the net when he headed Ozil's free-kick into the top left-hand corner, and the Frenchman then turned provider to set Oxlade-Chamberlain clear, the England man coolly slotting past Lopes.

Iwobi - nephew of former Nigeria star Jay-Jay Okocha - made it 3-0 when he swept home Ramsey's throughball to finish a fine Arsenal move.

The 19-year-old had another goal ruled out for offside shortly after, but Arsenal stretched their lead further in the 38th minute when Ozil's cross from the left was poked in by Ramsey at the near post.

N'Jie fired a rare Lyon chance wide after the restart, while at the other end Giroud swept a volley wide from Kieran Gibbs' cross.

A fifth did arrive just after the hour, though, with more eye-catching football from Arsenal culminating in Ozil drilling into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the penalty area.

With the match sewn up, Wenger made several changes and it was substitute Cazorla who made it 6-0 with a low left-footed free-kick into the bottom right-hand corner.

There was almost time for a seventh for another Nigerian youngster, Chuba Akpom as he lashed a shot against the left-hand post in the closing stages.

(Goal/Getty Images)
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Iheanacho unsure of Manchester City status

Nigeria starlet, Kelechi Iheanacho, is still unsure of his status with the Manchester City first team in the 2015/16 season despite his blistering start in the club’s pre-season campaign.

Iheanacho was City’s most impressive performer in the Citizens’ opening day International Champions Cup victory over AS Roma in Melbourne, Australia, reports.

The 18-year-old scored a superb goal and also provided an assist for new signing, Raheem Sterling, as the Italians were put to the sword.

Despite his undeniable potential, Iheanacho is still not sure if he will be thrown into the deep end in the new season.

“The manager (Manuel Pellegrini) has promised me nothing.

“He’s just told me to keep working hard every day. So as yet I don’t know what my chance is, but I pray that it will come soon,” quoted Iheanacho as saying to Manchester Evening News.

Despite impressing against Roma, the Nigerian youngster featured for just 13 minutes against the most glamorous football club in the world – Real Madrid – in City’s second game of the tournament on Friday.

By the time Iheanacho came off the bench to replace Frenchman, Samir Nasri, Pellegrini men were already down by 1-4, and the scoreline stayed that way till the end.
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Obasanjo predicts progress of Africa’s economy, while Europe, China, North America stagnate

Thirty-five years in the life of any human institution should not normally be considered too distant to predict its course of progress. After all, it is only a little over a generation away. What is more, those who will shape and influence what Africa will be by the middle of the 21st century are almost all already born.

Let me start with an extremely optimistic, some might say utopian, scenario for Africa — one that also involves a fairly pessimistic scenario for Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is all most unlikely and unrealistic — but come along with me on this trail.

The most stultifying problem for Africa right now is leadership. It affects the lives of the majority of Africans from the cradle to the grave.

In my utopia, Africa’s leadership issues — in terms of performance, governance, administration and management — will take just five years to solve. This achieved, all traces of injustice, discrimination and disparity in political, economic and social spheres will vanish, leaving the continent free of violent conflicts. Guns will be silenced and peace will descend like refreshing morning dew. The African military force will be drastically reduced while the capacity of the police will be increased and enhanced.

Integration will proceed at breakneck speed and by 2025 Africa will have a union government, a common currency called Afri and unmanned borders. Energy will be a priority, with 100 per cent coverage for industrial, domestic and agricultural needs by the mid-21st century. Transportation infrastructure will be transformed, enabling Africa to shrink into one connected nation rather than 54 virtually unconnected ones.

In this vision, education will be free and compulsory for African children for 12 years and no university student will be denied opportunity for lack of means. Free healthcare for all African children under five and all pregnant women will be available by 2020.

By 2030, 50 per cent of all commodities produced in Africa — mineral or agricultural — will be processed here as well and, by 2050, intra-African trade will be at 75 per cent. Africa will spend 10 per cent of its GDP on science, technology and innovation by 2040 and our institutes for democracy, good governance and sustainable development will be so popular that they will have campuses all over the world.

Meanwhile, economic progress in Europe, China and North America will have stagnated, making Africa a haven for investment, employment generation and wealth creation by 2040. There will be quotas for Europeans, Asians and Americans seeking employment here. All arable land in Africa will be cultivated, save what is reserved for environmental protection. By 2050, Africa will be the storehouse for 25 per cent of the world food reserve, ready to help in global emergencies.

The African parliament, a new two-chamber legislature, will be 45 per cent female by 2040. The union government will be made up of a presidential council of five, each elected at the regional levels of west, central, southern, eastern and north Africa. No fewer than two of them will be women and they will rule for five years with the chairmanship changing annually. The Central Bank of Africa will also have five governors in the council — one per region with similar term limits. Africa will be a strong member of the United Nations with a permanent Security Council seat. And, of course, we will also have hosted the Olympics on a number of occasions, leading the gold medal table each time.
Those who could make this utopian Africa of 2050 a reality have almost all been born already. But judging from our history and by what is happening elsewhere in the world, a more honest prediction would look very different. Those who will shape the continent of the future are the product of what exists today.

So, in this more realistic world, there will be no monumental improvement in the vision of Africa’s leaders. But there will be incremental change in the quality of the leaders themselves, even if most will remain nationalists rather than pan-Africanists. External pressures and internal demographics will enhance democracy. Regional economic communities — the likely building blocks for an integrated Africa — will move further towards consolidation with more executive and legislative powers. Integration at regional level will drive integration at continental level. Africa must have its fair share in the global division of labour and global decision-making processes.

Without a cohesive system at continental level and a critical mass of strong regional institutions, movement on other issues will be slow: these include power, water, infrastructure, intra-African trade and forging common African policy with different regions of the world. For now, issues such as terrorism, climate change, narcotics, organised crime, migration, arms and trafficking and impunity are of greater concern.

The worst-case scenario for Africa in 2050 is more of the same Africa of 2015. However, the more realistic prospect lies somewhere between that and my utopia.

It will be quality of leadership that will manage the internal and external pressures that will impose themselves on Africa. Even if the best does not happen, we can prevent the worst.

First published in Financial Times titled My Africa utopia
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No Nigerian child will be infected with polio again - Buhari vows

President Muhammadu Buhari declared Saturday in Abuja that his administration will do all within its powers to ensure that no Nigerian child is ever infected with polio again.

Speaking at a brief event in the Presidential Villa to mark Nigeria’s successful completion of one year without any reported case of the wild polio virus, President Buhari pledged that the Federal Government will mobilize and deploy all necessary resources to efficiently complete the task of eradicating polio from the country.

“Today, 25th of July, 2015, Nigeria has successfully completed one year without any case reported of the wild polio virus.

“Achieving this feat has placed us firmly on the path to eradicating this paralyzing disease from our land.

“I seize this opportunity to call on Governors, our traditional and religious leaders, the private sector and our mothers and fathers to redouble their efforts to ensure that every child and every new born baby is vaccinated with the polio vaccine and other life saving routine vaccines,” President Buhari said.

The President personally vaccinated one of his grandchildren against polio at the occasion to demonstrate his commitment to eradicating the virus from Nigeria as well as the safety and efficacy of the polio vaccine.

President Buhari thanked all Nigerians and foreign partners who have support the country’s polio eradication programme in several ways.
He said that he looked forward to the formal declaration of Nigeria as a polio-free country in 2017.
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Igbo group warns Buhari - 'Your probe must not humiliate Goodluck Jonathan'

Igbo Leaders of Thought, a body of eminent Igbo personalities, has warned that the plan to probe the immediate past federal government should not be a ploy to humiliate political opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari, including former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The group, led by constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, also urged Buhari to immediately restructure Nigeria without delay.

In a statement titled “Only truth and justice endures,” which was signed by its deputy secretary, Evangelist Elliot Uko, the group said the impending probe must be devoid of “witch-hunting and smear agenda.”

It stressed that the probe would be reduced to a jamboree if it becomes an avenue to humiliate political opponents.

Using the probe to humiliate political opponents of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government would cause problems for the country, the Igbo Leaders of Thought warned.

“Desirable as the probe and prosecution of corrupt officials of the outgone regime is, we must endeavour to avoid witch-hunting and smear agenda.

“Only the probe and prosecution of factual, traceable and clearly identifiable cases of abuse of office and misuse of public funds will inspire confidence and receive commendation of the citizenry and the international community.

“Humiliating and deliberately degrading political opponents in the guise of probe and prosecution of corrupt officials will only reduce the whole exercise to a jamboree, that could lead to a lot of a acrimony and bad blood which we believe, is the last thing Nigeria needs at the moment,” the group said in the statement.

The Igbo Leaders of Thought also insisted on the restructuring of the country into federating units.

The proposed restructuring of the country was canvassed by several groups, including the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, during the 2014 national constitutional conference.

Insisting on restructuring, the Igbo Leaders of Thought argued that it would amount to living in denial to pretend that the current federal structure was sustainable.

The group noted that fighting corruption and insurgency alone would not be enough to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the country’s future.

Arguing that the current federal structure, which was established by the military, was the bane of contemporary Nigeria, the Igbo Leaders of Thought described the proposed restructuring of the country as urgent.

It said, “We believe that Nigerians from all persuasions, political divide, zone or status all agreed that the unity, security, stability of Nigeria should be the priority of all concerned at this juncture of our national growth.

“Sincerity of purpose, commitment to what is best for the country and for the good of all should guide actions and steps of our new leaders.

“While views and opinions may differ on solutions to the myriad of problems confronting us as a people, truth is usually located somewhere near the court of justice, equity and fair play.

“Continuing to pretend that the present political structure is sustainable is clearly to live in denial of reality.”
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Terrorism: Osinbajo calls for vigilance

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Saturday advised Nigerians to be more vigilant in order not to fall prey to terror attacks.

He gave the advice in an interview with newsmen shortly after attending the 90th Birthday and Thanksgiving service of Madam Dorcas Adedayo at the Cathedral of St James the Great, Oke-Bola, Ibadan.

The vice president said that the recent alert on plan by the terrorists to attack important personalities using garbage carriers was real.

He therefore said that Nigerians irrespective of status must be security conscious at all times and report any suspicious movements to security agents.

On the bailout to states, Osinbajo explained that it was a creative way of addressing the financial crunch facing states.

He that the bailout approved for the states was in three categories, including monies released for payment of backlog of salaries from the $2.1bn NLNG tax.

The vice president said the second package was a loan which the states could access at very concessionary rate and the third involved conversion of most loans states owed commercial banks into bonds.

He added that details on the bond were being worked out but may have a tenor of between 15 and 20 years.

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Africans should accept gay rights - Obama

US President Barack Obama on Saturday called for gay rights in Africa, comparing homophobia to racial discrimination he had encountered in the United States.

In a joint press conference after talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama also pushed a tough message on Kenyan corruption, the civil war in South Sudan, controversial elections in Burundi and the fight against Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militants.

“I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this. When you start treating people differently, because they’re different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode. And bad things happen,” he said in a moment of open disagreement with the Kenyan leader.

He said that for “a law-abiding citizen who is going about their business, and working at a job and obeying the traffic signs and not harming anybody, the idea they will be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong, full stop.”

Homophobia is on the rise in Africa, and for his part Kenyatta only repeated that for him, gay rights was “a non-issue.”

“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share. It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept. This is why I say for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Kenyatta said.

Obama arrived in Kenya late on Friday, making his first visit to the country of his father’s birth since he was elected president.

– Corruption, conflict, security cooperation –

Obama also had firm words for Kenya on corruption, describing it as “the single biggest impediment to Kenya growing even faster,” and saying people were being “consistently sapped by corruption at a high level and at a low level.”

Obama said there was a need for “visible prosecutions,” to show citizens action was being taken.

“They don’t have to be a forensic accountant to know what is going on,” Obama said, giving the example of officials driving around in expensive cars or building houses far above what their salaries would allow.

The two leaders also pledged greater cooperation against the Shebab, who have stepped up attacks and recruitment inside Kenya.

“We have systematically reduced the territory that Al-Shebab controls. We have been able to decrease their effective control within Somalia and have weakened those networks operating here in East Africa. That doesn’t mean the problem is solved,” Obama said.

“We can degrade significantly the capacity of the terrorist organisations, but they can still do damage.”

The president called for an end to the 19-month-old civil war in South Sudan, urging the country’s warring leaders to “put their country firs.” The conflict there is set to be high on the agenda for the next stage of his visit to Ethiopia and the African Union.

“The situation is dire. We agree that the best way to stop the fighting is for South Sudanese leaders to put their country first with a peace agreement that ends the fighting,” Obama said.

This week’s elections in the central African nation of Burundi, which delivered a controversial third term to President Pierre Nkurunziza, were “not credible,” Obama said.

“We also discussed Burundi, where the recent elections weren’t credible. We are calling on the government and opposition to come together in a dialogue that leads to a political solution to the crisis and avoids the loss of more innocent life,” Obama said.
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'I’m ready for probe' - Kuku charges EFCC

Following his invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the immediate past special adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Kingsley Kuku has assured that he was ready to assist the commission in its bid to probe the accounts of the agency under his leadership.

The former presidential aide, was reacting to an invitation by the EFCC, directing him to report to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja for questioning on July 28, 2015, over allegation of diversion of public funds running into hundreds of millions of Naira.

‎Kuku, who is undergoing medical procedure in the United States, described the allegations levelled against as unfounded, adding that “the allegations of conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and diversion of public funds being made against me did not arise as the records of my administration were clear and available for scrutiny.”

According to Kuku who spoke with The Nation on the phone, “I am currently in the U.S for an urgent surgery on my knee at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Centre, United States and I will certainly return to honour the EFCC invitation once I recuperate in September.

“The record of my stewardship under the Presidential Amnesty Programme is an open document and it is available for scrutiny since I have nothing to hide about what we did,” he explained.
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EFCC set to probe Jonathan’s adviser on amnesty, Kingsley Kuku

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has summoned Kingsley Kuku, a former special adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, for questioning.

A reliable source in the commission revealed that Mr. Kuku and two others are wanted by the EFCC over allegation of embezzlement and fraudulent diversion of funds running into hundreds of millions of Naira.

Details of the allegations against the former presidential aide are not immediately available, but there have been concerns that the amnesty programme of the last administration was fraught with massive corruption.

Mr. Kuku, our source said, has been directed to appear before a team of interrogators at the EFCC office on Tuesday, July 28.

In a related development, the anti-graft agency has grilled Baraka Sani, a former special assistant to President Jonathan on Schools and Agricultural programme.

It was learnt that she was questioned by operatives for more than 10 hours on July 22, over allegation that she diverted funds meant for the schools agricultural programme of the administration.

She was however released on administrative bail to enable her to return with documents she said would help her explain her involvement in the alleged mega scam.
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Metuh Urges Buhari To Probe Corrupt Politicians

Mr Olisa Metuh, National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Thursday urged the Federal Government to probe every corrupt politician and not be selective in the exercise.

“We expect the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government not to embark on selective probing of public office holders found wanting before or during his government’’, he said.

Metuh made the call during the State Congress of PDP in Lokoja.

He urged the PDP members in the state to ensure that they were free of corruption in their dealings.

“If your hands are clean, you will not be afraid of any probe’’, he said.

The publicity scribe described corruption as a crime against the common will of Nigerians.

“Corruption is a crime against the people, the nation and our Constitution’’, he said.

He said every legitimate means should be deployed to fight public corruption and that the approach to eradicating corruption in Nigeria must be just.

The PDP spokesman urged the would-be-delegates in the state’s congress to elect those that would pilot the affairs of the party for the next four years.

Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi said the congress provided members the opportunity to change the history of the party in the state for the better.

“I urge delegates to choose wisely’’, the governor said.

Wada urged members to support the candidates that would make up the state’s executive council from the congress.

“Support any candidate that wins at the end of the congress. What we are doing here today will change the history of the PDP in our state’’, he said. (NAN)
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Kaduna provides 77 patrol vehicles , 50 motorcycles to Police

Kaduna State Government has procured 77 Hilux vehicles to assist the police in maintaining law and order in the state.

Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i, who disclosed this during a working visit to the Police Command Headquarters in Kaduna, also pledged to provide 50 motorcycles to the command.

The governor said the gesture was in appreciation of the tremendous work of the police in securing lives and property in the state.

“The police are the first line of defence and I thought it wise to come here first and thank you and to also encourage you.

“Also to know the challenges you are facing so that within the resources of the state government, we can do our best to provide you with the tools and equipment necessary for your job.

“The vehicles are already being procured as we speak and the motorcycles will follow by God’s grace,” he said.

El-Rufa’i charged the police to work harder, be honest and maintain good reputation in order to earn the respect of most Nigerians who view them in bad light.

“Our job as government is to see that we provide you with the tools and the environment to work.

“I am very proud with the performance of the Nigeria Police, Kaduna State Command. My government will support the security agencies very strongly as they are doing great job here in Kaduna.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor also visited the police Criminal Investigation Department where he promised to pay fines of those on remand for minor offences.

Responding, the Police Commissioner, Mr. Umar Shehu, appreciated the government’s gesture and assured him that they would continue to do their best in providing adequate security in the state.

Shehu said the visit was historic as it was the first time any serving governor had visited the command to be acquainted with its challenges.
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LG boss seeks assistance for IDPs in Taraba

The Caretaker Chairman of Kurmi Local Government Area of Taraba, Mr Stephen Agya, has appealed to the Federal and State Governments to provide assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in the area.

Agya, who made the appeal in an interview with journalists on Saturday in Jalingo, noted that thousands of people have been displaced by communal clashes and rainstorm in the area.

“I want to appeal to the federal and state governments to come to the aid of the council in taking care of the victims of communal clashes and rainstorm, who have been in camps for so long.

“NEMA and SEMA carried out assessment of the level of damage in the area five months ago, but no assistance has yet been given,” he said.

Agya said that the council had been catering for the IDPs within its limited resources.

He advised communities in the area to forgive one another and embrace peace in order to attract development.

The chairman appreciated the efforts of Governor Darius Ishaku to address security challenges facing the affected communities to facilitate their safe return home.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that prolonged communal and religious crisis in the southern and central parts of the state has rendered thousands of people homeless for more than two years.

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OSUN: Why I can’t pay workers’ salaries – Governor Aregbesola

Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has once again blamed the failure of his administration to pay workers salaries as at when on the drop in allocations to the state from the Federation Account.

Aregbesola said this Friday night during a chat with newsmen on the sidelines of an award to him for service to humanity by Voice of African Women for Human Dignity, an NGO.

The award was presented to Aregbesola at Asokoro, Abuja.

The governor said that he was pained by his government's inability to pay salaries regularly.

"I have found it hard to pay the wage bills owing to the declining federal allocation to the state.

"Federal allocation to the state has reduced by 40 per cent since 2013, thereby making it difficult for my government to meet its responsibilities," he said.

Aregbesola said the situation became so bad at a point that he resorted to the state's reserves, which he said also ran out on the payment of salaries.

He said administration had already to accumulate debt of N12 billion in its bid to ensure that salaries were paid regularly, adding that his government was committed to the people's welfare.

Aregbesola commended the group for the award and promised that he would inspire him to do more for the public.

"I got into politics so that I can render quality services to the suffering people of my state because majority of the people are hungry and angry,'' he said.

At the presentation of the award by Hajia Amina Idris, the president of group, said the award was to appreciate the governor for his service to humanity.

"This award of excellence is in recognition of your immense contribution to humanity", she said.

Idris said Aregbesola had been exceptionally helpful in the area of improving child education and promotion of human dignity through lofty programmes.
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Reasons why I allowed Abacha arrest me - Obasanjo

Reasons why I allowed Abacha arrest me - Obasanjo

Abacha was the most senior military officer in the illegal contraption called Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan after the military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, was forced to resign over the historic annulment of the June 12 June, 1993 election won by Moshood Abiola, who later died in the military gulag.

In his newest controversial memoir, ‘My Watch’, he narrated his opposition to the Abacha regime which led him to the formation of National Unity Organisation which he intended to use to force Abacha to quit power.

According to his narrative, Obasanjo had been meeting with some leading politicians and non-politicians in every part of the country on the need to free the country from the jackboot of Abacha whom he said, “was so much below average as an officer that no serious attention was paid to him until he was made to announce the coup.

Sani Abacha1“I was not in doubt that Abacha would attempt to silence me. This was clear from his apparent ambition for life presidency of Nigeria in insatiable appetite for corruption; his looting directly from the Central Bank; his need to silence everyone that could oppose him in any form; his actions towards my close friends and associates and his close surveillance of me by his security both within and outside Nigeria.”

Obasanjo recalled how during his visit to Kenya for the funeral of the father of the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, where the Nigerian Embassy officials wrote a report indicting him, stating that “since Odinga was in opposition to the government of Kenya when he died, I had gone to Kenya to create problems for the Kenyan government by supporting the opposition, and the Nigerian government should restrain me from causing great problems between Nigeria and Kenya.”

Narrating further, Obasanjo said, “Rumours about Abacha taking action against me started to spread and ring louder and louder. I had no fear because I had done nothing to cause me fear or anxiety. I was about my life and my business unperturbed.”

Source: Leadership
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Nigeria Has Largest WAEC Malpractices In West Africa

Reports have showed that Nigeria has the largest number of examination anomalies out of the five member countries of the West African Examinations Council. The Head, National Office of the Council, Charles Eguridu has said.

He spoke at a Road Show on Examination Malpractices Sensitisation that took place in Abuja, stating that WAEC has not introduced stricter measures and the utilisation of advanced technology in its effort to limit misconduct in Nigeria.

Eguridu equally warned applicants and schools that involve themselves in the despicable behaviour of organised examination malpractice of the grim penalties that include prosecution.

He said to the media, “We have regulations that governs the conduct of our examination.”

He further added that WAEC has the power to hold back results and carry out investigation on whoever is involved in examination malpractice, adding that afterwards, the whole result of such perpetrator will be cancelled and the centre where the exam took place will become derecognised. Eguridu equally indicated that WAEC has presented a technology that confirms applicants that registered for the exam, indicating that at the point of registration, the biometric features of each candidate will be captured.

He further commented that the captured information will be uploaded into the Council’s database and on the day of the exam, the features uploaded into a handheld devise at the centre will work like the card reader does to authenticate that it is the candidate that writes the exam.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, MacJohn Nwaobiala has also appealed to WAEC candidates to avoid circumstances that could incriminate them in the examination hall, so as not to jeopardise their future.
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US blasts Burundi elections as ‘deeply flawed’

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Friday called Burundi’s election “deeply flawed” and urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to hold a “meaningful, serious” dialogue with the African country’s opposition, the State Department said in a statement.

Nkurunziza won a third term in office on Friday after the opposition boycotted the vote, accusing him of violating the constitution by running for re-election.

Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.
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Abdulwaheed Odusile emerges NUJ president

The Nigeria Union of Journalist has elected Mr. Abdulwaheed Odusile of the Nation Newspapers as its new president. He succeeds Malam Garba Mohammed.

Osusile was declared winner of the keenly contested election by the returning officer and Director, African Affairs, International Federation of Journalists, Mr. Gabriel Baglow.

He, at the National Delegates Conference of NUJ held in Abuja on Saturday, pulled 354 votes to defeat his closest opponent Mr. Rotimi Obamuwagun who got 333 votes.

Other contestants for the position of the President included Mr. Dele Atunibi, who got 51 votes, USA Uzaka, who received 46 votes and Alhaji Mustafa Lamidi who got 12 votes.

Mr. Mohammad Shu clinched the position of the financial secretary of the union after he secured 454 votes to defeat his contender Mr. Ajayi Olugbenga.

The post of the National Treasurer went to Mrs. Monica Okechukwu, who got 310 votes to defeat two other contestants, namely, Mr. Garba Iliya and Mr. Ambrose Nwachukwu.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the positions of Deputy National President, National Internal Auditor and the Vice-President, North-Central, were filled unopposed.

Mr. Chris Isiguzo was declared winner of the South-East Vice-President after he defeated Mr. Goddy Okafor, while Aisha Ibrahim clinched the position of Vice-President North-East.

Other officials elected were Opaka Dokubo, Zonal Secretary South South, Mr. Kenneth Ofoma Zonal Secretary, South-East while Suleiman Ibrahim emerged Secretary, North-East.

Similarly, Mr. Hakeem Olatidoye emerged Secretary, North-Central and Mr. Lawal Afolabi won the post of the Secretary, South-West Zone.

Delegates to the conference were drawn from NUJ councils from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.
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We will adopt offensive disposition to Boko Haram - Nigerian Army

The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, on Friday said that the Nigerian Military would adopt offensive disposition to eradicate the menace of insurgents in the country.

The Army Chief made the remarks at the combined graduation of 105 personnel under the Basic Air bone Course 37 and Basic Rigger Course 23 at Jaji, Kaduna State.

“The era of waiting in defensive position for criminals to come and attack and runaway must stop.
“We must take the battle to them and dislodge them wherever they are.

“In line with these, we must learn to adopt offensive disposition and respond quickly and appropriately to all situations, taking into cognizance our rules of engagement.

“In view of our current challenges, our primary assignment in contributing our quota to national service is inline with my vision to strive towards eradicating the menace of terrorism from our nation.”

Buratai said the Airborne Course is one of the Special Forces Courses, whose activities he had always followed with keen interest.

“This underlines my utmost desire to ensure the continuous improvement of the Airborne training in the Nigerian Army.

“During my tenure as Chief of Army Staff, training in all aspects of our professional duties would be accorded its rightful place in line with my vision for the Nigerian Army to have a professionally responsive Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.

“With the degree of motivation in you that I have seen this morning as well as the display of the commendable professional attitude, I am highly convinced that you will successfully execute all assigned tasks as far as Airborne Special Operation are concerned.

“Together we shall make a difference in our Army and our nation.”

Buratai urged those who completed the training not to relent in ensuring that quality and high level training remained the watch word of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji.

The COAS, who was one time Commandant of the School, commended the Federal Government for the support being given to the institution and the Nigerian Army in general.

He commended the Jaji community and the Nigerian School of Infantry for the effort in ensuring the success of the event.

He pledged the support of the Nigerian Army Headquarters to the training of Army personnel at the school and the other training institutions.

NAN reports that 71 cadets and 34 Army volunteers graduated from the training .

Meanwhile, the Army Chief has supervised the graduation of 658 personnel of NIBATT 37 UNMIL after pre-deployment training at the Nigerian Army PeaceKeeping Centre (NAPKC) in Jaji.
Buratai warned the personnel not to tarnish the image of the Nigeria and the Army during their stay in Liberia.

“The Nigerian Army will not accept any situation where its troops are seen as soft targets or conducting themselves in unprofessional manner such as trafficking in illicit substances of any kind including alcohol and drugs as these practices negate the United Nations (UN) ethics,” he added.
Buratai reminded the personnel of the UN zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and warned that both the Army and the Federal Government would not tolerate contravention of the policies.

“You must exhibit the highest sense of personal and environmental hygiene as Liberia is just emerging from the Ebola Epidemic.”
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BREAKING: Five killed, 50 injured in Jos explosion

Five people have been killed while 50 others injured in a chemical explosion at Laminga water treatment plant in Jos, Police Command Spokesman in Plateau State, Emmanuel Abu, says.

Details later. . .
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Nigerian soldiers are “murderers and rapists.” - US lawmaker

A United States lawmaker, Mr. Patrick Leahy, has described Nigerian soldiers as “murderers and rapists.”

Leahy stated this while reacting to comments credited to President Muhammadu Buhari during his state visit that certain American laws slowed down the fight against insurgency.

The senator, who is the sponsor of the Leahy Law which prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights, said Buhari or himself could not be blamed for the evils perpetrated by the “murderers and rapists in the Nigerian military.”

He said, “It is well-documented by the State Department and by respected human rights organisations that Nigerian army personnel have, for many years, engaged in a pattern and practice of gross violations of human rights against the Nigerian people and others, including summary executions of prisoners, indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture, forced disappearances and rape. Rarely have the perpetrators been prosecuted or punished.

“This abusive conduct not only violates the laws of war, it creates fear and loathing among the Nigerian people whose support is necessary to defeat a terrorist group like Boko Haram.”
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Buhari vows not to short-change any zone

The Presidency on Friday said that President Muhammadu Buhari would not short-change any part of the country on account of the voting pattern in the March 28 presidential election.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview yesterday.

He stated that contrary to the news making the rounds on a statement made by the President in the United States, no part of the country would be denied of the dividends of democracy.

But the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, advised the President against neglecting any part of the country, no matter how insignificant the contribution of such area to his victory.

The spokesperson for the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, stated this on Friday, when he commented on a statement attributed to Buhari in the US.

Buhari, had during a question and answer session with journalists in the US on July 22, said, “(Going by election results), constituencies that gave me 95 per cent cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me five per cent. I think these are political realities. While, certainly there will be justice for everybody but the people who voted, and made their votes count, they must feel the government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place.”

But the Presidency said those who have been making issues out of the comment had deliberately refused to include the President’s concluding statement on the issue.

He said the balanced perspective of what the President said was that it is natural politically to give more to those who supported him but then those who did not support him would not get anything less, because the constitution already protected them.

The presidential spokesman said, “People should just have been patient to listen to the entire trend.

“The President said it truly that people who gave him 95 per cent may get more attention in terms of reward and all that.

“But he also said that fortunately, the constitution has guaranteed the rights of every part of the country.

“What that means then is that even those who voted five per cent will get their dues and will not get things commensurate with five per cent votes.

“Some people deliberately decided to take part of what he said and refused to balance it.

“The balanced perspective of what the President said is that it is natural politically to give more to those who supported him but then those who did not support him will not be given the shorter end of the stick because the constitution already protected them.”
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MEND not meeting to resume hostilities -Tompolo

Against fears that some former militants in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria could begin hostilities using the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, a leader of the group, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, has said the meeting he is conveying on Saturday 25 July is meant to sustain the peace existing in the region.

There had been fears of possible resumption of attacks on oil installations with many speculating that the meeting was being called for the purpose of commencing these hostilities.

Tompolo, in a statement, described the tension generated by the meeting as uncalled for, diversionary and mischievous as no evil is intended in whatever form.

“The nation would recall that in the build up to the Amnesty offer of the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was hesitance on the part of most of Niger Delta agitators until God in His infinite mercy, granted me wisdom to provide leadership.
“The nation will also recall that under the Amnesty programme as inherited by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, relative peace was enjoyed even as security of lives and property was enhanced to an appreciable level. Also, oil production increased from 700,000 barrels per day to 2.5million barrels per day.

“Put simply, hitherto aggrieved Niger-Delta youths who inadvertently became agitators, upon the acceptance of the Amnesty offer, refrained from armed agitation to face normal urban life.
“While some of us understand to an extent, the apparent delay in the continued payment of the monthly stipend to the ex-agitators in view of the seeming scrutiny of government agencies, including the Amnesty Office by the current administration, same cannot be said of the majority of beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme,” he said.

Continuing, Tompolo stressed: “to this extent, some of us, particularly myself and other leaders have been under intense pressure from ex-agitators commanders, individuals, parents and guardians as well as communities who are beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme.

“While a few see the delay in the payment of their monthly stipends in the light of the need for the current government to settle in properly, others see the delay as a template to stop the programme.
“The expulsion of some students (home and overseas) by their schools and training institutions particularly has heightened these fears. Hence, I thought it wise that a meeting of the collegiate leadership of the platform under which we operated as agitators could be convened to appraise the situation and possibly, explore means to douse the tension that is growing among the disarmed youths whose stipends (training allowances and tuition fees) have been delayed for months.

“This becomes more compelling in view of the fact that as leaders of the platform that served as midwife to the Amnesty offer, we owe the nation a duty to play our roles in order to stem a relapse of the relative peace in the Niger Delta region.”
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Buhari to divide NNPC into two

President Muhammadu Buhari has finally revealed what will be the fate of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, saying the national oil company will be divided into two successor entities under his administration.

The President, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Washington DC during a four-day visit to the United States, an extract explained that the decision would form one of the key steps of his reform of the country’s oil and gas sector.

The NNPC is considered a cesspool of corruption and fraud signposted by the non-remission of revenues from oil sale to the Federation Account. Hence, one of the first reform moves by All Progressives Congress –led administration is expected to start at the NNPC.

There had been insinuations that Buhari would unbundle the NNPC into four companies but the President, in the Washington interview, said rather than breaking the NNPC into four companies, it would be divided into two – regulator and investment vehicle.

While one of the successor companies will be an independent regulator, the President said the second would operate as an investment vehicle for the country.

He said, “I am reforming the oil and gas sector, breaking up the NNPC into two parts – the first will become an independent regulator for the sector, while the second will act as an investment vehicle for the country.”

Buhari also said there would be a new bid round for oil blocks in the country, adding that he favours transparent auction process.

“I will also end political control of the awarding of drilling and exploration rights by introducing a system of independent, transparent auctioning for licences,” the President said.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had, recently, described the NNPC as the engine room of corruption.
He lamented that none of the perpetrators of illegal deals in the corporation had so far been apprehended and brought to justice.

“You hardly see where people who are the real engine room – which is the NNPC – where most of these corruption cases on oil are, being put on trial,” he said.

Similarly, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, had last week called for the setting up of another national oil firm as he argued that the present NNPC would kill Nigeria if it was allowed to continue running.

“If you don’t kill the NNPC, it will kill Nigeria,” el-Rufai said.

Buhari, as part of the ongoing reform of several strata of the country, said his administration would merge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission into one strong and more effective anti-graft agency.

He said, “Corruption is one of the top three issues facing Nigeria, along with insecurity and unemployment. We must act to kill corruption or corruption will kill Nigeria. I am determined to lead that fight.

“My government is already taking several steps to cut out the cancer of corruption that has been eating away at the state for so long.

“We are reorganising the existing plethora of anti-corruption bodies into single powerful agency that will have the focus, power and budget to clamp down on corruption at the federal and state levels.”
The President said ministers would no longer have power to award contracts while announcing the introduction of a new system of plea bargaining to encourage looters of the government money and oil thieves to return the people’s stolen commonwealth.

He said, “I have already acted to remove political control over awarding of contracts away from ministers who use them to get political favours and kickbacks.

“I will introduce a new system of plea bargain, that will allow those who have stolen assets and funds to return them – but if they do not take that opportunity we will pursue them through the courts.”
Buhari insisted that his administration would not relent in asking foreign countries, including the US, to help in returning stolen funds that are sitting in private accounts abroad, but rightfully belonging to the people of Nigeria.

The President lamented that the country had become over-dependent on oil because of the incompetence and corruption of government that concentrated on “how best to steal oil revenues instead of how best to use our oil windfalls to invest in a modern, growing economy.”

Rather than continue to depend on oil, Buhari said Nigeria must become a manufacturing giant.
“I will not be satisfied until the label ‘Made in Nigeria’ is as common globally, as the label ‘Made in China,’” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari during his recent four-day official visit to the United States, spoke with journalists in Washington DC on how he intends to run his government

Boko Haram has killed over 400 people in the first half of July alone, and managed to further expand its reach beyond its core areas. You were elected on a promise to destroy the insurgency, what’s gone wrong?

Boko Haram is on the run. We are beginning to turn the tide against Boko Haram. Yes, we have seen a recent increase in civilian deaths, but that is because Boko Haram members are now desperately changing tactics to avoid confronting a renewed and more effective military effort. Instead, they are now targeting civilians. It is a sign of their weakness, not their strength.

Defeating Boko Haram will not happen overnight – it needs a combined military and social answer that will defeat and address the underlying social issues that are driving it. I am putting these measures into place step by step.

First, I have moved the centre of military operations from Abuja to the heart of the insurgency in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, so that the military leaders are on the ground to lead the effort at the frontline.

Secondly, I have revamped the nation’s military leadership with a new team that has the skills, experience and commitment to defeat the terrorists on the ground.

Thirdly, I am working to improve the professionalism and accountability of the armed forces, including clamping down on the misappropriation of funds that has led to serious lack of resources and equipment in the battle against Boko Haram.

Lastly, I am seeking to work with Nigeria’s partners, both our neighbours in the region and internationally such as the United States to develop a package of measures to tackle the entrenched marginalisation in North Eastern Nigeria and the surrounding areas in neighbouring states – where poverty levels are over 75 per cent.

We need a marshal programme for the Sahel region to be able to prevent further radicalisation and insecurity in the long-term.

The shocking truth is that Nigeria’s cupboard is bare. Despite receiving $400bn in oil revenue in the last 40 years, Nigeria’s treasury is almost empty. Partly, that is because of falling oil prices; it is also because money has been stolen – shipped out of the country by corrupt officials into foreign bank accounts.

Some of that money is here in the United States. One of the things America can do is help recover those stolen funds so that we can reinvest them in Nigeria to combat the poverty that is driving insecurity.

It’s been over a year since the Chibok girls were kidnapped and there has been no real progress made in recovering them, what measures are you taking to bring the girls home?

The kidnap of the Chibok girls is a stain on our national honour and my government will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to rescue them. However, I will not lie to the Nigerian people. After the time that has passed, it is increasingly difficult to know whether we will be able to find all of them as they are likely to have been split up and married off or hidden deep in the forest or countryside.
Nonetheless, my government will not give up. We will do everything in our power to bring back our girls.

You have said that the solution to the Boko Haram insurgency will not just be a military one; does that indicate that you are prepared to negotiate with the group?

Yes, we are prepared to talk to the more moderate elements of Boko Haram. We are prepared to address the legitimate concerns over unemployment, poverty and marginalisation that have driven the insurgency.

We are even prepared to consider some form of amnesty, similar to what is in place in the Niger Delta, for the rank and file who lay down their arms and commit to the peaceful reintegration into society.

However, there can be no forgiveness for the barbaric leadership that has pursued a deliberate policy of diabolical war crimes and terror against the innocent civilian population of Nigeria.

Last week, you replaced the service chiefs and the chief security adviser over the failure to defeat Boko Haram. However, there is some concern that you have replaced many of them with your own supporters from the North. Are you using the pretext of Boko Haram to politicise the leadership of the Nigerian armed forces?

I am the Commander-in-Chief. It is my job to ensure that the best and most qualified leaders are in charge of the armed forces, so that we can keep the Nigerian people safe.

We will only defeat the military threat of Boko Haram if we have the right leadership team in place leading from the frontline.

Having the right military leadership in place, who know and understand the local terrain, together with the counter-insurgency team in the North, is vital to winning the military battle.

These new officers have been selected strictly on merit, on the basis of their record and skills. Other than the new Chief of Army Staff, of whom I have prior experience, I have no prior relations with the other heads before I appointed them – it was their track record that recommended them.

Turning south to the Niger Delta, the amnesty for former combatants which has helped to keep the peace in the Niger Delta is due to end in December this year. What measures do you propose to replace it?

The amnesty still plays an important part in ending the insurgency in the Niger Delta and I am committed to continuing it as long as it is necessary to do so. However, it is not a long-term answer to the problems there.

Just as in the North, the Niger Delta requires long-term investment in both economic and social infrastructure – from roads and railways, to schools, hospitals and housing. That is what people want, a fair share of the resources that their region is producing.

But you have already said that Nigeria’s cupboard is bare – how can you afford such programmes?
Nigeria is not a poor country: we have the natural resources and ingenuity to be an economic superpower. It is our people who have been made to be poor because of incompetence and corruption.
If we can recover the stolen money, attract private sector investments, and tackle corruption, then we will be able to provide the economic growth and development; that is the long-term answer to insecurity.

An NGO, Global Financial Integrity, recently calculated that $150bn was illegally shipped out of Nigeria over the last decade, what measures do you intend to adopt to clamp down on the industrial scale corruption that has bedevilled Nigeria and held back its economic growth and social development?
Corruption is one of the top three issues facing Nigeria, along with insecurity and unemployment. We must act to kill corruption or corruption will kill Nigeria. I am determined to lead that fight.
My government is already taking several steps to cut out the cancer of corruption that has been eating away the state for so long.
First, we are reorganising the existing plethora of anti-corruption bodies into a single powerful agency that will have the focus, power and budget to clamp down on corruption at the federal and state level.
Secondly, I have already acted to remove political control over awarding of contracts from ministers who use them to get favours and kickbacks.
Thirdly, I will introduce a new system of plea bargains, that will allow those who have stolen assets and funds to return them – but if they do not take that opportunity, we will pursue them through the courts.
Fourthly, I am reforming the oil and gas sector, breaking up the NNPC (the state oil company) into two parts – the first will become an independent regulator for the sector, while the second will act as an investment vehicle for the country.
I will also end political control of the awarding of drilling and exploration rights by introducing a system of independent, transparent auctioning for licences.
Lastly, we shall be asking foreign countries, including authorities here in the United States, to work with us to return stolen funds that are now sitting in private accounts in their banks and rightfully belong to the people of Nigeria.

But you have also said that you will “draw a line” under past corruption – doesn’t that mean that some of the worst offenders will now go scot-free?
We will vigorously pursue any and all anti-corruption cases and investigations that are currently ongoing, but the government has to be realistic; we are not going to mount a new wave of prosecutions over historic cases.
So, yes it is inevitable we will indeed draw a line under some historic abuses, but there will be zero tolerance for corruption going forward.

Does that apply to everyone; will you take action if it is found that your supporters, leading members of the APC have been involved in corruption?
You cannot cure a sick patient by only treating one half of them. There will be no political interference in the fight against corruption – and no political favours to protect the corrupt from justice.

There is some concern that despite spending 14 years trying to become president, you did not exactly hit the ground running and that you will not now be appointing members of the cabinet until September. Why is it taking you so long to get started and put your team in place?
We cannot clean up 16 years of mess in a few months of frantic activity. I know that people are impatient for change, but it is far more important to take your time and take the right steps and appoint the right people than to run around pretending to be doing something, yet achieve nothing.
First, I will make sure that the right rules and management structures are in place to ensure good government.
Only then will I appoint credible ministers, with the track record of delivery and probity in good time. After all, President Obama did not complete the appointment of his first cabinet until five months after he was elected and America did not cease functioning in the meantime.

Nigeria’s economy is heavily over-dependent on the oil and gas sector, accounting for over 80 per cent of GDP and 90 per cent of government revenues. What measures are you putting in place to diversify the economy?
Nigeria is blessed with a rich array of natural resources, not just oil and gas, but abundant solid minerals and huge tracts of arable land.
Forty years ago, Nigeria was a net exporter of food; today we are an importer. We should not only be self-sufficient, we should be the bread basket for Africa.
We have only become over-dependent on oil because of the incompetence and corruption of government that concentrated on how best to steal oil revenues instead of how best to use our oil windfalls to invest in a modern, growing economy.
However, we cannot be content to just export raw materials and commodities abroad: we must become a manufacturing giant. I will not be satisfied until the label “Made in Nigeria” is as common globally, as the label “Made in China.”
My government has a clear plan to diversify and rejuvenate Nigeria’s economy. We are shifting our economic focus to expanding and modernising our agricultural and mining sectors by attracting new private investment – moving away from the overdependence on oil.
We will use our oil revenues to upgrade our decaying infrastructure – boost electricity generation and build new road and rail networks while upgrading our ports.
We will also focus on improving education and skills training so that we can take advantage of the growing global trend for new sources of labour and tackle the crisis of youth unemployment and create a new value-added manufacturing sector.
We are reforming the out-of-date and bureaucratic land laws, giving title deeds to millions of ordinary farmers, so that they will finally be able to use their land to raise capital to invest in modern agricultural equipment and transform production throughout the country.

The global fall in oil prices has hit Nigeria hard, with the Federal Government losing up to half of its revenues in the past year. How is this affecting your reform plans?
Nigeria cannot spend what it doesn’t have. However, given the previous levels of waste and corruption, if we spend what we have more wisely and effectively, we can achieve a great deal more.
One step I have already taken is to pay the salaries of civil servants, some of whom had not been paid for over 10 months.
In the long-term, we must sort out Nigeria’s chaotic finances – we have to diversify government income – both by increasing the size of the non-oil economy and by expanding the tax base, so that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.
However, we must also sort out spending – we cannot have a situation where half the government’s expenditure goes on the salaries of just two per cent of the population. That said though, we must first pay people the salaries that they have earned.

What about the fall in the Naira, how will you prevent another run on the currency further depleting Nigeria’s reserves?
Nigeria has to win the confidence of the markets; we will only do that by demonstrating our commitment to probity and prudent public spending.
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