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Jubilation in Yari’s Camp as INEC Lists APC for Zamfara Polls Marafa kicks, appeals Zamfara High Court ruling

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it had compiled with the judgement of Appeal Court and had

restored candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State to the ballot in the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for February 23 and March 9,

2019. This decision triggered jubilation in the camp of Governor Abdulaziz Yari, whose candidates made the list submitted to INEC by the APC headquarters.

However, the APC Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, whose camp was not favoured, said he had filed an appeal at the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court, against the decision of the Zamfara State

High Court, which INEC relied on for its decision. The commission in a statement signed by its National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, said it had consistently maintained that

it would always obey court judgements and orders. The Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division, had on Thursday set aside the Continued on page 6

Polls: Africa Solidly Behind Nigeria, Says Johnson-Sirleaf … Page 6 Saturday 23 February, 2019 Vol 24. No 8721 TR


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Nigeria’s Moment of Truth

Buhari, Atiku Battle for Historic Vote

Our Correspondents On the 20th anniversary of the election that returned Nigeria to Democracy in 1999, the country is again at a crossroads. Nigeria has never been this divided as citizens file out today to elect a President that will run the country for another four years, effective May 29. The two leading candidates in today’s election - President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have divided the country across all lines. In the last few weeks, Buhari and Atiku’s campaigns across the 36 states and Abuja have been rancorous, with both candidates feeding fat on tribal, ethnic and religious sentiments. It is in the midst of this bitter division that the over 72 million Nigerians that collected Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) will troop out this morning to determine the fate of the two candidates. The 2019 general elections will be the largest single-day peacetime logistics and security undertaking by the commission since 1999, with over 72 million voters, 91 political parties and 23,213 candidates vying for 1,558 positions, involving over 814,000 electoral officials. As at press time, INEC had Continued on page 6




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T H I S D AY, T H E S AT U R D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾˜ͺͻ˜ͺ͸͹΁


Polls: Africa Solidly Behind Nigeria, Says Johnson-Sirleaf Alex Enumah in Abuja Head of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission (EOM) and former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has assured Nigeria of the support of the entire nations of Africa, as the country goes to polls today to elect a new leader for the next four years. The elections of the President and national law makers were slated for last Saturday February

16, but had to be postponed to today due to logistics challenges, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it encountered. Johnson-Sirleaf, who addressed a news conference in Abuja yesterday, said that ECOWAS watched with keen interest the manner in which both INEC and the populace handled the issue of the postponement. She commended Nigerians

for the patience and calm exhibited up till now, stating that the progress made by the commission signalled a “deepening and building of confidence in the electoral processes.” The former Liberia President urged Nigerians, particularly the political class to sustain the peace that characterised the postponement of the Presidential and National

Assembly Election and also conduct themselves according to the laws of the land, as they go to the polls today. “We extend thanks, admiration and gratitude to the Nigerian people for their patience in the face of the last minute interruptions to their lives with the postponement of the 2019 general elections. “We have watched the progress of INEC over the past week working together

with domestic and international partners in addressing their logistical and technical challenges. “We are pleased that these operational constraints have been significantly addressed thus creating a conducive atmosphere for tomorrow’s (today’s) general elections. “We commend our brothers and sisters across the length and breadth of this great country for remaining calm

and resilient as these concerns were addressed.” Johnson-Sirleaf described the signing of the 2019 Peace Accord by the various political gladiators as a further demonstration of the commitment of Nigeria to democracy. She expressed confidence that the same level of maturity would be demonstrated during the remaining phase of the electoral process.

Public Relations Officer, ACP Frank Mba noted that a similar directive was given to Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) in the 12 Zonal Commands and the Commissioners of Police (CPs) in the 36 State Commands and the FCT to beef-up security in their respective areas and to work closely with the Senior Police Officers deployed on election duties to the three senatorial districts and form part of security management base for each State. "They are to ensure that no stone is left unturned towards emplacing adequate security including the supervision of security personnel deployed to each of the Senatorial Districts under their watch", Mba said. Also, the Election Intelligence Monitoring Team (EIMT), has been directed to intensify constant surveillance, intelligence gathering and monitoring of security personnel deployed nationwide while the Special Election Investigation Team (SEIT) is to ensure discrete investigation of electoral cases and diligent prosecution of all electoral offenders. "While charging all security personnel on election duties to ensure they remain patriotic, professional, unbiased and apolitical in the discharge of their duties, the IG however, warned that he will not tolerate any form of impunity or unethical conduct on the part of any personnel. "He further reiterated that on no account should any policeman or woman attached to VIPs be seen escorting their principal to the polling unit or moving around with them on the day of election as any police officer caught will be arrested and dealt with accordingly.

his government had so far done, he should then be given the preference at the polls. He advised the electorate to think very deeply, insinuating that tomorrow’s presidential election is all about the choices of the electorate and not about the ruling party or the opposition. On his part, Atiku appealed to Nigerians to end the economic hardship, hunger and killings across the country by voting for him. He has promised to get Nigeria working again by restructuring the country. In his Facebook video on Thursday, Atiku urged the electorate to use their PVCs to remove the ‘’incompetent’’ APC government led by President Buhari on Saturday. “On election day, we are all equal, as no single vote is more important than any other but if you do not vote, you will be accepting that the next four years will be like the last.’’ Atiku further added that the power to get Nigeria working again was in the permanent voter card, saying he will be voting with his tomorrow. He called on Nigerians to please join him irrespective of who they will be voting for. He warned that if Nigerians failed to come out and vote, they would be accepting that the next four years would be like the last.

North-west regions are seen to be in the firm grips of the President as he has always had his strength and numbers from the region. The South-west is seen as the decider in who wins today; the appeal to ethnic sentiment of not abandoning Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as son of the soil as well as the vice-grip hold of Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the region may work in favour of Buhari However, Buhari’s unrepentant sectionalisation and nepotistic appointments devoid of secular considerations has tarred him with the brush of pursuing a religious agenda and disregarding the constitutional provision of federal character, while making other sections of the country feel excluded. APC internal squabbles could also be a factor against Buhari. It had been simmering and reached a worrisome state at the party conventions where direct and indirect primaries divided the states leading to some not fielding candidates. It peaked at the rally in Ogun State where stalwarts were pelted with pebbles and sachet water. Protest votes are expected and were acknowledged when the President urged party members to vote their choice of candidates. Some mistakes and absent mindedness of Buhari in some of the states portray him as weak and not in sharp control of himself. The cabal in control outcry by Aisha Buhari may take its toll on confidence of the people on who runs the country. The President has also been making claims of advances against insurgency and security of the country which are proving to be either half-truths or near lies and impugning on his presumed integrity. The activities of herdsmen and Myetti Allah groups in the North central which went unpunished till close to election will definitely cost him a lot in the region. Also, wild claims by the Minister of Information whose veracity of statements are confirmed in reverses are making it more difficult to believe what the government says. Strengths and weaknesses - Atiku Atiku is carrying other sections of the country along and pledging inclusiveness and demonstrated this by picking

his Vice Presidential candidate from the most marginalised region while those miffed by the way APC was handled and decamped to the PDP like Rabiu Kwankwaso have divided the block votes in their regions and states in favour of Atiku. Like he demonstrated in Port Harcourt during the PDP primaries, Atiku has the capacity to self-sponsor and fund most of his campaigns. Being a businessman with hundreds of employees and therefore more amenable to job creation in the face of mass unemployment, Atiku appears preferred. With the level of poverty and unemployment in the country, most voters even in the stronghold of APC are likely going to resolve their doubts in favour of Atiku by way of seeking alternatives to the present reality especially with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reeling out the millions of jobs lost to shady handling of the economy. With the level of killings by herdsmen and insurgents, the fear of resurgence after elections with the alleged islamisation agenda of President Buhari, the North central region will swing to Atiku, while the fear of spread of killings may further make voters want to try alternatives. Loyalty by erstwhile political allies arising from past political heavyweights may work in favour of Atiku while the early resolution of disagreements within the PDP after the nomination was won and lost gave, ample time for him to fill the internal cracks in the party which appear to give him a common front to fight external battles to win. However, Atiku has been painted by opponents as a corrupt politician and since corruption is adjudged the most destructive malaise, most voters may fear entrusting the treasury to an alleged less than clean man. State institutions like the like the police and army, DSS and other security agencies are usually under the command of the government in power, even the electoral umpire get their funding from the government in power and to some extent, directives. Elections are known to be rigged by these institutions which the government in power can easily deploy to its advantage, even when it goes for adjudication, lips are read and body languages watched to please those that can reward while in power.

for other elections, vote for the candidates that will protect you and your properties in senatorial and House of Representatives elections. Vote according to your conscience.” The Senator while thanking his teeming supporters for their support said, "We have already filed an appeal at the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court. It will come up soon. We will pursue it to its logical conclusion. I sincerely thank all the good people within and outside the state that supported us in standing up to Governor Yari and his backers." The crisis in the Zamfara

State APC led to the emergence of two factions in the party - a faction loyal to Yari and the other faction known as G8, which comprised eight governorship aspirants including the incumbent Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala, the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Danali and others. Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Zamfara State is happy with INEC’s decision to list APC candidates. The PDP governorship candidate in the state, Alhaji Bello Matawalle said it would be an opportunity for the APC to test its popularity in the state.

NIGERIA’S MOMENT OF TRUTH distributed sensitive election materials to all the states of the federation. The election promises to be keenly contested. Candidates of these two parties also dominate the race for the seats in the National Assembly across the states. After the slip last week, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has assured Nigerians that the commission would not fail the nation and the international community again, promising that “the election will be free, fair, credible and lead to the outcome that all Nigerians expect.’’ INEC reiterated its readiness to conduct the rescheduled elections yesterday at a press conference in Abuja. The INEC Chairman assured Nigerians and the international community that it had concluded arrangement to commence election by 8. a.m. The electoral body also warned that underage persons trying to get accredited on the election day would be arrested alongside their sponsors. The chairman explained that measures had been put in place to combat vote buying and other malpractices that can undermine the electoral processes. Yakubu stated: "We have engaged 825,543 ad hoc staff ranging from Presiding Officers to Collation and Returning Officers. We have mobilised about 80,000 commercial vehicles and about 996 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials, including 707,892 ballot boxes and voting cubicles, to various land and riverine locations. “We have accredited 120 domestic and 36 international organisations deploying a cumulative total of over 73,000 observers “We have concluded the movement of personnel and materials to the 774 LGAs and 8,809 Registration Area Centres nationwide. All arrangements are now in place to facilitate the opening of polls nationwide at 8 am tomorrow. “Citizens can obtain locational directions to their polling units by visiting They will access the locational name of their PU and a link to a Google Map that will lead them to the PU. In the last 10 days, about 190,000 voters had utilised the various social media platforms to geo-locate

their polling units. "Election will hold at the 36 state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Voting will take place in 176,973 locations, made up of 119,973 polling units and 57, 023 voting points. “Tomorrow is election day, a total of 73 presidential candidates, 109 senators from 1,820 senatorial candidates and 360 House of Representatives members from the 4,631 candidates contesting in the election.” The INEC chairman stated further that the national situation room would open at 6 p.m on Friday, while the national collation centre would also be opened at 6pm on Sunday, both situated at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja. The Chairman cautioned: “Underage voting is an illegality, and let me cease this opportunity to warn those who may wish to sponsor underage persons on election day to vote that they will be arrested.” He reiterated that voting would be by simultaneous accreditation and only registered voters with Permanent Voter Cards would be allowed to vote. Yakubu also warned members of the public against issuing any result, saying only INEC is empowered by law to declared results. Police Promise Total Security On his part, the acting Inspector General of Police (IG) Mohammed Adamu, reassured that the security agencies would secure the election materials, electoral personnel, observers and the electorate. As part of efforts at ensuring a peaceful conduct of the election today, Adamu has ordered a water-tight and robust security arrangement in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Accordingly, the IG has directed the Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs) of Police already deployed to the six geo-political zones of the Country to ensure adequate security presence, coordination, supervision and implementation of security strategies for the election in all polling units, registration area centres (RACS), super RACS, collation centres, INEC offices, government and critical national infrastructures, as well as flash vulnerable points across the states of the federation. A statement by the Force

Buhari Vs Atiku President Buhari has said he deserves a second term and urged Nigerians to vote for him today. The president, who made the appeal in his nationwide broadcast last Thursday, reeled out what he termed the achievements of his administration and tasked Nigerians to evaluate such achievements. He also charged them to interrogate themselves if another government could perform better if allowed to upstage his administration. According to him, if the dream of another set of leaders is merely to do what

Strengths and weaknesses - Buhari Incumbency is the biggest factor expected to work in the favour of Buhari. It is in rare cases that incumbents lose elections in Africa and beyond, though it happened in some instances. The incumbency factor may go a long way for him the way it is being deployed. Still related to the power of incumbency, Governors are known to influence the outcome of elections by recreating the scenario from the center where they deploy state resources to get things done their way. With APC having majority governors, it is likely that they will deploy them to deliver the states to Buhari. Buhari is also being sold on the strength of his integrity thereby portraying the contest as between Mr. Integrity and the one lacking same. Over time, he has been seen as an upright man who would not dip his hands in the till and therefore would keep the treasury from looters. The North-east and parts of

JUBILATION IN YARI’S CAMP AS INEC LISTS APC FOR ZAMFARA POLLS judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja for “lack or want of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court." Okoye stressed that by this judgement, the Zamfara State High Court‘s decision that the APC can field candidates for the National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections was the only valid and subsisting order. He further added that in the case of APC in Zamfara State, the Federal High Court Abuja and the Zamfara State High Court issued conflicting orders relating to the participation of the APC in the two strands of elections

scheduled for February 23 and March 9, 20l9. Okoye said while the former ruled that the APC, having failed to conduct party primaries cannot field candidates in the said election, the latter decided that it can field candidates having conducted valid party primaries. To this end, Okoye asserted: “Consequently, the Commission has today, in compliance with the said order, restored the APC to the ballot in the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for 23rd February and 9th March 2019.”

INEC’s decision favoured the faction loyal to Governor Yari, whose candidates are on the list submitted by the APC. Yari and his supporters spent most of yesterday celebrating. They also made last minute efforts to ensure that their National Assembly candidates make an impact in today’s elections. Though, the APC Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, whose camp was not favoured, said he had accepted the decision, saying it was the will of God, but surprisingly added that he had filed an appeal against the Zamfara High Court ruling

(Which INEC based its decision on) at the Court of Appeal, Sokoto. He said: "This is what Allah has decided and destined, we have accepted it. We tried our best but Allah knows the wisdom behind this. I have said it, that whatever comes out from the court, we will open our hands and accept it as Allah's will. What we are fighting is injustice and nothing personal. "I'm appealing to my teeming supporters to be law abiding and shun anything that would cause confusion and breach of public peace. Please come out massively to vote for President Buhari. And

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HOME FOR POLLS... L–R: Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Kastina State; Prsident Muhammadu Buhari and Deputy Governor of Kastina State, Mannir Yakubu on arrival at the Yar’Adua Airport in Kastina for the Presidential Election ‌yesterday    

Dickson: Military Must Not be Involved in Handling of Election Materials Police enforce 36-hour curfew on Bayelsa waterways Emmanuel Addeh Ă“Ă˜Ă?Ă˜Ă‹Ă‘Ă™Ă‹

Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, yesterday maintained that elections remained a purely civilian affair, insisting that the involvement of the military must be restricted. This is as the police in Bayelsa have placed a 36-hour curfew on the state’s waterways to ensure safety during today’s general elections. Dickson said that it was important for the people to recognise that as a civilian operation, the police and civil forces must play their assigned responsibility while the military operate from the outer corridor. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, Dickson

explained that the military could be assigned the responsibility of escorting sensitive electoral materials because of the terrain, but were neither to handle electoral materials nor intimidate voters. “Our people should know that by the laws of this country, the duty of the military is to be at the outer corridor. Election is a civil operation, with the police and other civil forces playing their constitutional roles. “However, the military because of our terrain are given support services to escort materials. They are not to handle any material, they are not to intimidate anybody,� he added. The governor also directed traditional rulers and the CDC chairmen to extract binding

undertakings from party candidates and their parties during meetings designed to ensure the prevalence of peace in communities across the state. Governor Dickson stressed that the state would not allow the influx of strange faces brought in as political thugs to foment crisis during the election. While a 36-hour curfew emplaced on waterways is on, a 6a.m. to 6p.m. restriction of movement will be enforced on land, a statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Asinim Butswat said yesterday. Subsequently, the state police command urged all politicians to abide by the peace accord they signed earlier, noting that

anything to the contrary would be stiffly resisted. “The Bayelsa State Police Command wishes to inform the general public and well-meaning individuals in the state, that the command has beefed up security with enhanced visibility of patrol vehicles and men, as well as intensive surveillance in all nooks and crannies of the state. “All political parties and their candidates are hereby warned to desist from any act capable of disrupting the elections. They are advised to abide by the peace accord they had earlier signed and comply with the electoral laws. “Security agencies are directed to enforce restrictions of movement of boats and all

rivercraft activities in the state waterways, from 7p.m. of Friday 22th February to 6a.m. Sunday 24th February 2019. “Likewise, movement of motor vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles will be restricted on Saturday 23rd February 2019, from 6a.m. to 6p.m. Only those on essential duties will be allowed to move,� the Bayelsa Police Command said. Still on today’s polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa State said yesterday that they had distributed all sensitive materials for the presidential and National Assembly elections to the Registration Area Centres (RACs) in the eight local government areas of the state. Head, INEC‘s Voters Educa-

tion and Publicity, Mr. Wilfred Ifogah, told journalists that the commission was fully ready for the polls. He said: “Movement of nonsensitive materials and sensitive materials to area offices of INEC in the state has been done; we started with non-sensitive ones on Wednesday and it continued until Thursday. “For the riverine areas, it was on hold because of the terrain, so, today which is Friday, a day before elections, the distributions of sensitive materials to the coastal communities have been completed. “INEC is good to go, the security men are ready and we have about 10, 482 adhoc staff to perform the national duty,� Ifogah stated.

Rights Groups Condemn Buratai’s Acceptance to Shoot Ballot Box Snatchers

Peace Accord Flagrantly Violated, FG, APC Have Declared War on PDP, Cries Secondus

David-ChyddyEleke Ă“Ă˜ĂĄĂ•Ă‹

Adedayo Akinwale Ă“Ă˜ĂŒĂ&#x;ÔË

A coalition of human rights groups based in the south eastern parts of Nigeria have condemned the acceptance of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai to carry out the shoot on sight order of ballot box snatchers, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The group, under the aegis of Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights & Democracy Organisations (a coalition of 22 human rights & democracy organisations) said it was suspicious that such orders had not been given to the military by the president on members of the Boko Haram terrorists or the Fulani Herdsmen and other violent organisations.

The group said the acceptance calls to question the competence of the Chief of Army Staff, saying that modern day soldiering include “sharp mental, forensic and scientific soldiering, but in the Nigerian Army of Buratai’s era, the likes of Buratai’s military generalship is earned through civilian butcheries, locomotive and archaic soldiering as well as litany of other in-service atrocities and immoral conducts.� A press statement signed by the head of the groups, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi who is also the chairman board of trustees of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, and made available to THISDAY in Awka, Anambra

State, states that, “Therefore, the COAS’s re-ordered killing on Nigeria’s Election Day is nothing short of preemptive and psychological terrorisation of the country’s 72 plus million PVC holders particularly those in the Southeast, South-south and potential opposition voters in the North and Southwest Nigeria. “From the analysis of the COAS’s “vote against PMB and die� statement and associated threats, the Nigerian Army has singled out four South-south States of Rivers, Delta, Cross River and Akwa Ibom for Election Day military siege, infliction of widespread fears and brutal suppression of the electoral wishes of voters in the areas.�

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday said that the peace accord signed by the two frontline Presidential candidates, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP was dead. He said that the party expected the Peace Committee and the international community to note the declaration of war on PDP leaders across the country by overzealous security operatives specially raised for this purpose as they operate in violation of the peace accord. Secondus in a statement by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, said that reports reaching him from Kwara,

Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Kano, Kaduna and other states showed that PDP leaders were being harassed with arrest and detention by security operatives on flimsy reasons. According to him, “All the terms of the agreement for peace have been broken by the ruling APC who has deployed military and the Police operatives to arrest and detain PDP leaders across the country.� Secondus added that all the ingredients of peace had been disregarded by the APC operatives who had decided to even run foul of the Electoral Act in their desperation to cling on to power even when it was obvious that Nigerians had turned their back on them. He stated “APC and President Buhari are not disposed to the

peace as they have flagrantly violated the terms of the agreement. “Private jets belonging to APC leader in Lagos have been stationed at the airports protected by government operatives as money is being moved from the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, to states.� Secondus noted that while APC was using military and Police personnel to chase PDP leaders across the country, they continued to give protection to APC leaders as they ferry money and election materials to various locations. The PDP boss called on the General Abdulsalmi Abubakar-led Peace Committee to take copious notice of all the happenings and note that APC and President Buhari were not disposed to any peace accord.



Let’s Go Nigerians, Let’s Vote for Unity, Progress


ritish political philosopher, John Locke, argues that governments exist by consent of the governed and that people should rebel if their ordinary rights are violated. This is precisely what I am urging voters across our 36 states to do today as they file out to vote in Presidential and National Assembly elections. For me, today’s election is a plebiscite on insecurity, hunger, unemployment, sliding economy, corruption, incompetence and poverty in Nigeria. This is the day to vote out those pummeling Nigerians with hunger, disease, poverty and unemployment while they and their cronies live big. We must vote out those who have failed to provide security and welfare for Nigerians. This is the day to say enough to blood, tears, pain, ineptitude and corruption in our beloved Nigeria. This is the day to say a big NO to those insisting on holding on to power against the tide, while their people wallow in hunger, poverty, disease, unemployment, insecurity and deep-rooted division. Just within 45 months, Nigeria surpassed India as the country with the largest number of people living in life-threatening poverty in the world, despite the fact that India’s population is almost four times that of Nigeria’s. Living in extreme poverty, going by the parameters set by the World Bank, means living on less than $1.90 per day, an amount that cannot guarantee even the token needs for existence. This is an insignia of disgrace that should task voters today. The World Poverty Clock named Nigeria the poverty capital of the world last June when it revealed that Nigeria had 87 million people living in poverty. The latest statistics from the World Poverty Clock show that the number of extremely poor Nigerians has risen to 91.6 million. Yes! 91.6 million Nigerians are living below a dollar a day as of February 13, 2019. This implies that virtually half of Nigeria’s population now lives in extreme poverty. The latest figure shows that an additional four million Nigerians fell under the poverty line between February 2018 and February 2019. The report adds that six Nigerians now become poor every minute. Households across our nation are evidently struggling to survive the economic crunch amid galloping inflation in the last 45 months. An unprecedented number of frustrated Nigerians are running abroad through all kinds of dangerous routes in search of better life. Many die while trying to cross to Europe illegally by sea. Many have become slaves in Libya. This is unparalleled. We are now at a level where countries as lowly as Ghana deport Nigerians. The Ghana Immigration Service deported 723 Nigerians between 2018 and 2019. Let’s talk about our unity as a nation. Our beloved Nigeria has never been this divided and we must stem the tide as we go out to vote today. Hatred and bloodshed across ethnic and religious divides have assumed an unprecedented dimension, with our fault lines persistently stoked. Brothers are killing

This is the day to vote out those pummeling Nigerians with hunger, disease, poverty and unemployment while they and their cronies live big. We must vote out those who have failed to provide security and welfare for Nigerians. This is the day to say enough to blood, tears, pain, ineptitude and corruption in our beloved Nigeria brothers. This is the day to pull Nigeria from the brinks. Nigeria is suddenly at a stage where virtually all military and para-military positions are headed by people from just a section of the country. This is certainly not the Nigeria of our dream. This is the day to vote against lopsided security appointments and other skewed appointments in federal departments and agencies. The warped federal appointments of the last four years are infuriating. This clannishness is legendary. This is the day to vote for the respect of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended). As a reminder, this section states: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” The last 45 months have been horrendous for most Nigerians with unprecedented economic hardship, unemployment, inflation and mass killings. Our fragile unity has been destroyed, forcing former President Obasanjo to declare that Nigeria had never been as divided in history, except for the country’s civil war period between 1967 and 1970. Obasanjo added in his remarks on August 2016: “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria been so fractured in the feeling of oneness by the citizenry.” The ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, concurred in September 2016,

saying “Nigeria has never been as divided as presently, since it’s amalgamation over 100 years ago.” What about Boko Haram’s assaults? As I pen this piece, millions of Nigerians are living in excruciating condition in numerous IDP camps in Borno State. They can’t return home; their towns and villages are still controlled by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has become the deadliest terror group in the world, with thousands of Nigerians killed in the last 45 months. Even in IDP camps, displaced Nigerians are persistently attacked and killed by Boko Haram, as seen in Rann, Muna Garage, Baga Dalore and a number of others. The UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Yassine Gaba once noted: “Innocent civilians continue to suffer daily from direct and indiscriminate attacks in the North-east of Nigeria. Endless numbers of explosions, brutal killings, abductions and lootings continue to uproot the lives of women, children and men daily. Women, children and men face daily grave human rights violations and sexual and genderbased violence.” Rampaging herders and bandits have also been killing hundreds in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Enugu, Delta, Oyo, Zamfara and so many other states. This spate of killing is unmatched. Can this set of people running this country in the last 45 months honestly say that they have delivered on their promises to Nigerians, with just about three months left of their tenure? Can they honestly say that Nigerians are better under this government than they were under their predecessor? Can they say that they have positively impacted on the lives of the masses of this country in the last 45 months? The frank answers would be on the negative. The truth is that in 45 months, they have squandered virtually all the economic gains of their predecessors. Thousands of businesses and manufacturers are gasping for breath; many have closed, while millions of Nigerians have lost jobs. At a point, inflation was almost at an unparalleled 18%.The refineries are still not working. That was why the NNPC spent a monstrous $5.8 billion on the importation of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol in four months - October 2017 to January 2018. Corruption has become more frightening. It was no surprise when the 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International revealed that sleaze in Nigeria was now severe. Contracts running into billions of USD were allegedly awarded exclusively by the NNPC without due process. Which corruption is bigger than plunging Nigeria into unprecedented foreign debt within 45 months? What do we have to show for all these borrowings? Evidently, our traumatised, bereaved, hungry and jobless citizens can no longer endure another four years. I believe they all know what to do this morning. Though, tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we must stand.


The Courage of Maryam Awaisu For those not following the story, Maryam Awaisu is a women rights activists and writer based in Kaduna. She has of recent been championing the cause of women, detailing their experience on sexual assault in the North through the Twitter hashtag, #ArewaMeToo. Such female activists are few in this part of our country. Awaisu stands out with her thought-provoking crusade. She was however arrested in her office in Kaduna State on Tuesday by officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for inexplicable reasons. They drove her all the way to their Abuja office. Awaisu was released late on the same day, following pressure from rights groups, Amnesty International inclusive. While in custody, the police allegedly gained access to her laptop and mobile phone by force to access the sensitive evidence she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence in the North. Her cause is just. I believe she has nothing to hide. Though, Awaisu is now free, her arrest and detention were evidently aimed at intimidating women rights activists pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence in the North. Amnesty International was apropos when it remarked: “Brave women leading #ArewaMeToo movement, to bring to justice sexual violators have been receiving threats, bullying online and other forms of intimidation. The arrest of Maryam Awaisu @Ice131Queen by a Special Anti-Robbery Squad of @PoliceNG is part of wider intimidation. “Maryam and the other brave human rights defenders working with the #ArewaMeToo movement must not be silenced or punished for the vital work they do. For too long, Nigeria’s women have been facing various kinds of sexual violence that seldom receives proper attention from the country’s law enforcement agencies. It is unacceptable that women working on behalf of these victims are subjected to such arrest and intimidation, and we fear that these actions may prevent victims of sexual violence from pursuing justice.” No doubt, Awaisu is pursuing a just cause - justice for victims of sexual violence in Northern Nigeria. She has been speaking up for women’s rights. Her arrest is aimed at intimidating and harassing her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo. All forces of good must rally round this courageous woman.

El-Rufai and the Kajuru Killings Governor Nasir El-rufai’s response to the killings in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State is most disheartening. I am not sorry to say that this governor has not shown leadership in the unending killings in this state. El-rufai has suddenly become the spokesman of one of the warring factions. This governor was even all over the place, dishing out casualty figures. I have never seen this kind of a thing in my life. The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State command, Ahmad Abdulrahman, had clearly advised El-Rufai against quoting any particular figure. The Kaduna police boss was quoted as saying: “I told the governor that figures in a crisis of this magnitude should be left (unquoted) until all investigations have been concluded in all the areas where information is coming from, are covered. You cannot come up with a figure; otherwise you will El-Rufai

quote a particular figure now and quote another later. This is what is happening now. As far as the police are concerned, we are still investigating and the investigation is ongoing.” Abdulrahman also said both the Fulani and the Adara natives recorded casualties contrary to the position of El-Rufai, who claimed that all the people who were killed and buried in shallow graves were mainly Fulani. The truth that must be told is that there have been many heartless and unnecessary bloodshed on both sides of the divide. The killings and retaliatory killings have persisted because El-rufai and security agencies in this state have failed the people. They have compromised. Gunmen successfully invaded Ungwar Barde, in Kajuru LG and killed 11 people because security agencies and this governor failed to do the needful. The

reprisal attacks, which claimed scores of lives, also happened because El-rufai and security agents failed the people. My heart bleeds each time blood flows in Kaduna State. I fully concur that El-rufai has been inflaming ethnic and religious sentiments in this state. I am shocked that he did not say anything about the gruesome attack in Ungwan Barde. This governor must amend his ways for peace to reign in Kaduna State. It is heartwarming to note that the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) has urged its members not to take laws into their hands over the killings in Kajuru. The National Secretary of GAFDAN, Ibrahim Abdullahi urged its members to allow government and security agencies to deal with the issue. God bless these peace makers. Southern Kaduna Peoples Union must engage GAFDAN leaders for lasting peace in this area. This is good news. Brothers must stop killing brothers.




Dele and Rubby, (inset) Barton-Hanson

Fun-Loving Dele Alli Strikes Goal No British footballer of Nigerian descent, Dele Alli, has ended his romance with lingerie model, Rubby Mae and moved on with Long Island star, Megan Barton-Hanson, just to have fun, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu


ust within weeks of leaving his girlfriend of over two years, Ruby Mae, Spurs and England star, Dele Alli has moved on to a Love Island star, Megan Barton-Hanson. Dele, 22, told close friends that after two-and-a-half years in a relationship, he wanted to have fun again as a single man, leaving Ruby, 23, devastated. The English Premier League star ended his romance with Ruby, three weeks ago, when he met Megan, 24, while partying at Celeb Hotspot Tape, a London club near Oxford Street and reportedly swapped numbers with her. A source said: “Dele told Ruby it wasn’t working. She’s devastated and fought to stay together but his mind is made up. It wasn’t long before he started enjoying his newfound single status - partying at Tape on Saturday night that he met Megan for the first time.” A fellow partygoer had revealed: “Dele was really keen on Megan and went over to introduce himself right away. There were plenty of other girls in the club including lots of Megan’s co-stars but it was her that caught his eye. “He called her beautiful and said he wanted to take her out for dinner. Before the night was over, they exchanged numbers. Megan was thrilled. She’s been down and Dele is definitely her type. She was wary given his split and questioned whether things are definitely over between him and Ruby.”

This incidentally comes almost immediately after Megan split from Love Island boyfriend Wes Nelson. Megan split from Wes, 20, after a tumultuous few weeks in which she accused his Dancing On Ice skating partner, Vanessa Bauer, of purposely breaking up with her boyfriend in order to stir up rumours of a romance with Wes. Wes and Megan were contestants on Love Island 2018. After their split, Megan had claimed that Wes ‘didn’t love her’ in an explosive interview. She told OK! Magazine: “Our ambitions and goals in life are very different - Wes is younger than me and wrapped up in the fame bubble - but I still love him, which is why it hurts so much. I fought and fought and fought for Wes but he doesn’t love me back.” Dele had been dating Ruby who has posed for Dolce & Gabbana and Rare London, since June 2016 after they were spotted kissing at the Euros. The stunning brunette is signed to Boss Model Management in Manchester, and has worked for several other well-known brands including Chanel, Hidden Fashion and The Couture Club. Ruby supported Dele throughout the 2018 World Cup held in Russia, making a lavish sharing of the sporting event on her Instagram account over the summer. In one sweet snap, Ruby sat on Dele’s lap, as she revealed in the caption: ‘So proud.’ He scored the second goal against Sweden in the quarterfinals as England hit the semifinals and also won a free-kick through which England took the lead in the semifinals

against Croatia, though the team eventually lost the game 2-1 in extra time. Dele who suffered hamstring lately had admitted he was frustrated by his injury woes after jetting to Dubai in a desperate bid to get fit and back in action ahead of a crucial month for Tottenham. Spurs hope to have their midfield ace available for the North London derby and crucial clashes against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in March. And Alli looks to be making good progress with his hamstring wound after uploading a video of his “road to recovery”. Dele Alli was born in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire UK, to a Nigerian father Kehinde and English mother Denise. Kehinde who was in the United Kingdom studying for a Masters at De Montfort University had met Denise at a nightclub and got married but separated three years after Dele was born. Although separated, the couple was very close and raised him together. He moved to Nigeria at the age of nine with his father spending only two years in Nigeria before returning to Milton Keynes to live with his mother. Dele who had Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as child hood idol, tinkered with the idea of playing for Nigeria in 2015 when it was reported that John Fashanu was on the verge of convincing him to play for Nigeria. The move however did not see the light of the day as the former England Under 17 to 23 ace played his way into the mainstream of England team where he has continued to make his mark.




Human Hair Merchant, Lola Udu, Engaged With her new status, Lola Udu, the brain behind popular hair brand Lo’Lavita, who recently got engaged, now has her man and business to attend to, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu


elf-professed entrepreneur from birth, Lola Udu, the founder of popular hair brand, Lo’Lavita, is engaged. The human hair merchant shared the good news on her Instagram page: ‘’My caramel latte proposed yesterday morning and his chocolate buttercup said yes.” With her new status, the business woman now has her man and her business to attend to. Lola’s journey to live out her passion for quality luxury hair range makes a fascinating tale. From once selling hair from her car and her dad’s office, the hair expert has come a long way from that now; poised to give hair care in Nigeria a 360 degree spin since returning to Nigeria to establish her brand. Interestingly, in partnership with a Breast Cancer Awareness organisation, COPE Foundation, a percentage of her sales goes towards contributing to women who are diagnosed or undergoing treatment for breast cancer and have lost their hair as a result of the negative effect of chemotherapy. Lola had noted, “This is really important to us because we know that every woman’s hair is her crown and glory.”

An accountant by profession, the CEO of Lavita Life Limited gained her undergraduate degree from Wayne State University. She worked for KPMG in Michigan before heading back to get an MBA in International Business and Advertising Marketing, also from Wayne State. Lola also held a role at Wayne County Community College before deciding that it was time to dive into the world of hair. Her clientele cuts across celebrities and socialites. It appears Lola possesses innate business calling from birth, selling for as long as she can remember. In an interview, she had revealed that she had been selling since she was born. When she was at Queen’s College, she sold food to the boarding school students. She would look for other things that she could buy from the outside and sell on the inside. She was always looking for a way to get money. She can’t really pinpoint when she felt she became a full-fledged sales person but she could sell any and everything. From a business angle, the first thing the soon-tobe-wife sold was hair. When she got into the business, she thought she could make something out of

it. “I got into hair while I was studying for the CPA, a professional accounting qualification. At that point, I thought I could put in my best into the things I do. I started the web store and I was still working full-time. As it grew and the demand became too much, I decided to quit my job and venture into hair full-time. Lo’Lavita is now a full blown company and corporation. I registered it in 2009 but we really started operation in 2010.” But why sell hair? Why not sell some other things like shoes? She said, “Hair is exciting. It’s something that women want to change. With hair, once you get started, you don’t get satisfied. We as women are just not content with our hair or maybe we are just not boring people. Aside from the product itself, I work on establishing relationships with buyers and suppliers. I also contribute to changes in the industry by looking for new ways to add value by reconstructing the product or modifying it. We just don’t want to sell a product; we want to solve problems for customers too even if that means inventing a new product. Then, there’s the marketing aspect of things which involves a lot of creativity.”





The PDP governorship candidate pledges to devote half the state’s budget on knowledge-driven economy, writes Adewunmi Olajide


he Lagos State gubernatorial candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a bold step to do what Lagos has lacked for a while, which is to present a bold, relevant and clearly audacious vision for the state. The beauty of a vision is the way it defines aspirations for the future, without which the human soul can be rudderless, let alone a city state like Lagos. Truly, without vision, man will perish. Agbaje in his second ‘manifesto’ document (Re-anchoring Lagos – The Big Idea), moves beyond his well-presented rhetoric of ‘freedom’, to explain, what Lagos needs to do to be free. Almost like an ‘after freedom, what next?’ response. He has clearly presented what is next. Not only is Jimi Agbaje saying that Lagos must in the next 10 years be set on a path of becoming the second largest economy in Africa, he is going to do so by, anchoring the city state on the platform of education, by creating an education economy – a knowledge-driven economy. This is not dissimilar to the path that China took for over 20 years or Singapore or even Rwanda in recent times. Agbaje has ‘threatened’ to devote up to 50% of the state’s budget on creating an education economy i.e. an education ecosystem, an education value chain, creating a knowledge economy and societal physical infrastructure to support it. But how does Agbaje want to achieve this? That is what has gotten a few people jumpy! Agbaje intends to invest as much as 50% (if necessary) of the state’s budget (and therefore resources) on an education economy (a knowledge economy), which implies investing in the whole value chain related to education - from the physical infrastructure that facilitates training to skills development, competence building, knowledge management, fit for purpose curriculum as it relates to executing, sustaining and growing our society’s, businesses and economic communities. Agbaje will challenge every single ministry, department and agency to dedicate as much as 50% of their individual budget, time, effort and focus of their activities to facilitate the upliftment of education in as wide a sense as possible. For example, Agbaje’s strategy implies that for the Ministry of Works, roads that provide access to schools and educational institutions will be given priority but not to the exclusion of other road projects; it means that the Ministry of Health, will pay more attention to education and training in our health institutions but not to the exclusion of other initiatives on health including the provision of subsidised or free primary health care for students as part of its budget reallocation, prioritisation and adjustments; the Ministry of Trade and Investment in the state, will support entrepreneurship initiatives in all the institutions, whilst still pursuing issues about the ease of doing business, ensuring that any education related business or institution is given priority; the Ministry of Tourism


and Culture will allocate significantly more of its budget to the training and facilitation of the entertainment communities to participate and promote the creative arts; The Ministry of Transport will commit more of its budget to provide subsidised or even free transport to all students and anyone still learning with no income; The Ministry in charge of Lands, will allocate more affordably priced land to educational institutions, including land to build accommodation for students at the vocational and tertiary level, and the list goes on and on. Agbaje’s vision, once taken on board by Lagosians can be expanded way beyond his own imagination as experts in each ministry begin to see how they can make a huge contribution to the state’s education economy. Agbaje is simply going to challenge each ministry to devote up to 50% of its time, effort, personnel, planning, funding, execution, innovation, manpower to the creation of an education economy. He is not abandoning the rest of the budget, he is going to redirect and shift priorities towards anything that can drive the education and skills development of our people as a huge priority. In Agbaje’s published re-anchoring Lagos on education Big Idea Manifesto, he plans to create five economic zones to represent centres of excellence around which the skills development, education, training and knowledge management will revolve. These zones will create and regenerate, attractive and new urban communities to decongest Lagos City. However, this initiative will be based on creating a workforce fit for each area’s economic focus based on a planned and aggressive investment in education and skills development and the education value chain. Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment exams for the O.E.C.D.) is quoted as saying ... “knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.” Sure, it’s great to have oil, gas and diamonds; they can buy jobs. But they’ll weaken your society in the long run unless they’re used to build schools and a culture of lifelong learning. “The thing that will keep you moving forward,” says Schleicher, is always “what you bring to the table yourself.” By creating this education-linked urban matrix of economic zones, the growth of Lagos State will be much faster than the current and projected future growth rate of Nigeria’s economy, especially because of its focus on education, skills development and health care. These are what great visions are made of. To question a vision is to miss the point totally, and be comfortable with ‘incremental mentality’, whilst the rest of the world is leapfrogging. Olajide is an economist based in Lagos

THE BIRTH OF IBOM AIRLINE Ibom airline will make a lot of difference, writes Michael Bassey


he birth of Ibom Airline couldn’t have come at a better time. The launch of the airline on Wednesday is truly the ice on the cake for the good people of Akwa Ibom. If anyone was in doubt of the managerial acumen of the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, that launch was enough to shut the mouths of pundits. Truth be told, how many state governors still have the time to concentrate on governance now, not to talk of embarking on monumental projects? What we usually witness in Nigeria is that governance temporarily goes on recess during elections. Intrigues, backstabbing and all sorts of evils take the centre stage at the expense of quality leadership. Sadly, the country has been on this rigmarole for so long that people have accepted this unwholesome trend as a norm. For people like me, news of a governor still actively involved in the business of governance in spite of stories here and there about plans to turn Akwa Ibom State to another Warsaw, is quite heart-warming. It is truly a case of everybody giving what they have. While some politicians can only spew up the dregs in their hearts, some bring out the gems in their systems, hence the relevance of a scriptural verse that says out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Not only that, Ibom airline is born at a time when the only achievement some state governors could lay claim to is their ability to pay workers’ salaries. Never mind such payments are often staggered and most irregular. The other time one of the governors in the North came out publicly to announce that workers should stop expecting to be paid regularly because states were not created to pay salaries only. Such is the kind of shamelessness in some of our leaders. Having said this, it is important to acknowledge the foresightedness of Emmanuel and also congratu-

late the people of Akwa Ibom for having such an astute administrator for a governor - a governor that does not see payment of workers’ salaries as an achievement, but an obligation. It will be recalled that salaries and gratuities of workers in the state were paid in arrears by the present administration in the state despite the fact that these salaries were owed by previous administrations. No wonder, typical Akwa Ibom indigenes won’t hesitate to tell anyone that cares to listen where their hearts are, and who gets their votes in the oncoming governorship election in the state, where Udom is seeking a reelection. To them, they couldn’t have had it better than what have been experiencing in the last three and half years. The lines have indeed been falling on them in pleasant places. The industrial revolution going on in the state is unparalleled. Even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attested to this. He once described the syringe factory in the state as a flagship project and one that would be of benefit to the entire country. That testimonial coming from the opposition in Nigeria is a big deal especially when viewed from the background that all that the ruling APC could dish out to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party since it came to power has been bashing upon bashing. Ibom Air is expected to employ 300 people directly while 3,000 people will be involved in its daily operations. At the launching of the aircraft at the Victor Attah International Airport in Uyo, Emmanuel said the airline is a monumental achievement in the state. He said the aircraft, C-FWNK, is only six years old with a sitting capacity of about 90 persons and constitutes the newest and modern fleet of the Canadian airbus. Imagine the ease that the airline will bring to doing business in Akwa Ibom. This is an oil-rich state with many attendant businesses. But sometimes, getting flight

for important meetings is hindered due to hiccups often experienced in existing airlines’ operations. In the words of Udom, “The launching of Ibom Air is a monumental achievement in Akwa Ibom State and indeed Africa. The journey to achieve Ibom airline started in 2016 and today, it is a reality. “This is the only state across the country that runs and operates an international airport. We are the only state that runs a Category Two run way. “I want to reassure the former governor, Obong Victor Attah that very soon, the MRO will be a place that will maintain fleets of aircraft across the country.’’ Today, Akwa Ibom is not only running a stateowned airport, it is also running an airline. Besides, there are assurances that the state government will also run the Ibom Air, as a profitable business. It is important to stretch the angle of profitability because that is the bane of government business in Nigeria. Many of them are run at a loss and become moribund overnight. But, it is expected that the governor based on his pedigree of managing successful business in the past will manage this well too. The governor has said the airline will operate routes that would give preference to Akwa Ibom people, and that the government would soon launch one of the best terminal buildings in Nigeria. We can’t wait to have these promises fulfilled. For the past three and half years, the state government has focused on developing the state’s economy on land, air and water. So far, the state government has constructed over 160 kilometres of roads and built 12 bridges across the state among other infrastructure. The roads include the 19.7km Uyo-Etinan Road, 39.4km Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road, 7.3km Ebekpo-Ikot Ebidang Road, 3.5km Ikot Udom Road with 15m Span Bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, 5km Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe-Ikot Ekpuk Road with

30m Span Bridge in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area and 5km Mkpok-Okat Road in ONNA Local Government Area, among others. The state government has also made significant progress at the Ibom deep seaport. According to the governor, the Ibom deep seaport will soon commence operations before the expiration of his second term in 2023. The establishment of the seaport will no doubt provide job opportunities for the people of the state, because anywhere you have a seaport in the world, it is capable of changing the narrative of the society because of the employment opportunity it creates. It is one of the secrets to the wealth of Dubai, contrary to the belief of many that the country is making its money from oil and tourism. The business around the seaport was used to develop the city. In three and half years, the Emmanuel’s administration has developed 11,000 hectares of coconut plantation; 2,100 hectares of cassava plantation in 15 LGAs; registered 48,000 rice farmers for the CBN anchor borrowers’ scheme and trained 450 youths on cocoa maintenance. The state has gone further to establish Special Cocoa Maintenance Scheme (SCMS) to train farmers and youths on pruning/shade management, under brushing, and tree care by fumigation, in order to ensure the improved yields from 300 kg/hectare to 2, 000kg/hectare. In addition, the state has distributed 500,000 improved cocoa seedlings to farmers at a highly subsidised rate across the 28 cocoa producing local government areas in the state. Right now, the state hatchery known as the Akwa Prime Hatchery hatches 10,000 day old cheeks per week. This is aside the free distribution of improved corn seedlings to farmers. All these are just a few of the achievements of the Udom’s administration that has continued to endear him to the heart of the Akwa Ibom people.




The D-Day is here...

How Not to Treat Corps Members


he graphic pictures of the pitiable plight of several members of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) sleeping on bare floor, on the eve of the postponed Presidential and National Assembly elections, drew public outrage and honestly so. They deserved a far better treatment. Placed on a rather insulting salary of N19,000 per month by a power-poaching political class, many of whom are old enough to be their grandfathers, the promised package of N35,000, safe and secure accommodation in addition to feeding by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) was too compelling to ignore. This was more so, to the 400,000 youth corpers who constituted about 40 per cent of the INEC ad-hoc staff. But sad to note that here in Nigeria, where not a few promises made by the political leaders hardly see the light of the day, the corpers became some of the most vicious victims, precisely on February 15, 2019. The torrid tales of their criminal neglect were similar across the country; from Calabar to Kano, Shogunle to Sokoto. Many of them who reported for the national assignment as early as 9.00 am with the passion of patriots, were left unattended to till the wee hours of the day of the election. What a rude shock it was, only to be told that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman decided to postpone the elections for the reasons of logistics and inclement weather, barely six hours to the commencement! The corpers were abandoned to sleep on bare floors, in open spaces and buses, even as some were robbed and left naked to the elements of wind and cold. These sordid acts run against the grains of setting up the NYSC, on the 22nd of May, 1973 with the support of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the Federal Executive Council (FEC), then led by now retired General Yakubu Gowon. So, how would he and the likes of Prof. Adebayo Adedeji and then Colonel Ahmadu Ali (rtd.), wherever they are now, feel as the first chairman and first director about this show of national shame? It is worthy of note that the laudable scheme came after the 30-month civil war, that ended in January 1970. The NYSC programme was established under Decree No.24 of May 22, 1973, via the NYSC Act. The aim was to properly integrate the country and heal the wounds of the war. In Gowon’s words: “We were convinced that while force could keep Nigeria one, only greater understanding and interaction, particularly amongst our youth, could make us into a truly united nation”. But as usual, this dark scenario of the tragic treatment meted out to the corpers triggers the quaint question: Decades after, are we truly united, more understanding of our differences and ready to evolve an egalitarian society for the good of all? The answer is obvious. It is gratifying to note that hundreds of thousands

Govt’s Broken Promises to Benue People

of the over 2. 8 million of those who have served in the scheme have over the years positively impacted on the quality of life of members of their host communities. Some have healed the sick, built clinics, roads, bridges and culverts, offered scholarship schemes, and given extra lessons to prepare students for examinations. Unfortunately, others have fallen helpless preys as victims of ritual murders, extra-judicial killings, sectarian riots, kidnapping, religious extremism, causalities to road accidents and Boko Haram insurgency. The gnawing pain is that some have died as endangered species, mostly in preventable deaths. For instance, as at August 2018 the riveting news headline that over 50 corps members got killed in seven months is simply heart-rending! The post-election violence that erupted in some states of the north such as Bauchi, Kaduna, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kano, Adamawa and Yobe after the Presidential election left in its wake several dusty deaths. One could recall that of an Ogun state- born male youth corper, whose father died when he was a toddler and who sponsored himself through school. He had his precious life wasted in the twinkle of an eye by some vampires opposed to western education. The grief for the old mother was untold. Ayo Oyoze Baje, Lagos


ow, again, the promise to conduct a free and fair presidential election, plus those of the national assembly appendage, on Saturday the 16th of February 2019 was broken by this APC government led by Muhammadu Buhari. Well, this promise-renege has become a stock-in-trade of this federal government, and I am particularly bothered by the plethora of broken promises this Buhari’s government made to my home state of Benue. Recall that a short while ago when Makurdi, the state capital, was inundated by floodwater, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was dispatched to tell my folks that the federal government would help build wide-breath drainages to curtail future flooding risks, but this has not been done and it surely won’t be done especially now that the federal government is looking to re-gazette “cattle routes” through this state. Further, at the



height of the killing of settled native farmers by roving band of Fulani tribesmen, the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahaman Dambazzau (rtd.), promised that the federal government would train some 700 agro-rangers from Benue State to help provide buffer for traversing cattlemen across farmlands but this has not been done. Top on the list of what I consider surreal and quite implausible promises was the one by the Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, that some space-age kind of “alternative energy” fuel plant would be built in Benue State so as to create about one million jobs for the locals in order that they may thereafter live in peace with the killer Fulani hordes who have been terrorising them. What great farce! Why would a highfalutin “federal government” descend to the level of a lying bunch of aging men? Governments exist to provide basic needs for its citizens (nowadays we can add security into the mix) plus the fact of charting a course of civilization (in terms of law and order) and heightened learning that these citizens must imbibe. No government should go out there and tell its citizens things it does not intend to do. Making and not committing to non-specific general promises is a sign of incompetency by a sitting government. The promise to solve ASUU’s earned allowance issue is specific, the promise to remit backlog of funds to the NDDC is specific, the promise to pardon those who have unjustly taken from our collective wealth and compel them to invest in the national economy with no threat of persecution is specific, the promise to begin the process of restructuring six months after swearing-in is specific, etc. It is worth remarking that all the specific promises are doable. Sunday Adole Jonah, Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State




PDP Accuses INEC of Hoarding Result Sheets Adedayo Akinwale ÓØÌßÔË

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of withholding sensitive election materials

including collation (form EC8D) and result (form EC8E) sheets in states considered to be PDP strongholds. The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan,

Don’t Infringe on People’s Right, Situation Room Warns Security Agents

cautioned the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu not to allow the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to use him to derail the electoral process, particularly after the disgraceful postponement of the February 16 elections. He said intelligence at the party’s disposal showed that certain compromised INEC officials were working with agents of the APC to hold back the material so

as to pave way for the allocation of fictitious results for President Muhammadu Buhari and APC National Assembly candidates in the affected states. Ologbondiyan stated, “For instance, in Abia State, no collation forms and result sheets have been received for the Senatorial elections, while no result sheets for all the elections have been received in Delta and various other states.

“Also in Kano State, only 105 Senate result sheets have been received in Garko Local Government Area instead of 144. Rogo LGA has received 106 Senate result sheets instead of 141; Danbatta has received 28 cartons of House of Representatives ballot papers instead of 29, while Tofa LGA has received 18 cartons instead of 19. This scenario is playing out in many other states.” The main opposition party

said that Nigerians were alert and they were noting the trend and would spare no thoughts in standing against any attempt by INEC and the APC to rig this election. The PDP therefore called on Yakubu to immediately release the materials to their respective designated points and cautions that it will never allow anybody to use any means to rig it out in this election.

Says 260 deaths recoded during campaigns Onyebuchi EzigboÓØÌßÔË

The coalition of civil society organisations, under the auspices of the Situation Room, has enjoined the security agents on election duty to be guided by the Electoral law and try to be as civil as possible in performing the duties on Saturday. The Situation Room said it was deeply concerned by reports of invitations issued for the interrogation of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by security agencies in the last few days, adding that such directive even if later withdrawn amounted to undue pressure. The civil society groups also expressed worry over what it described as the spike in politically motivated killings in the lead up to the elections. It put the figure of those killed within the period of political campaigns in the country at about 260. Addressing a press conference on Friday, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the Convener of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said that it was a welcomed development that

President Muhammadu Buhari seemed to have moderated his earlier directive to security agents to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers or those who disturbs the voting system. Nwankwo said that the light of the very light and calm broadcast by the president on Friday that security agents will understand his latest disposition and approach their duties on Saturday with the same measure of calm and pleasant manner. “Situation Room would like to warn that military and other security personnel who carry out unlawful orders would under international law be held accountable. Under section 29(3) of the Electoral Act, the Nigerian military are specifically excluded from direct involvement in elections. “Regulation 341 of the Police Act (LFN 2004) confers personal liability on any police officer who employs excessive force in the exercise of his powers as a police officer. Similarly Article 5 of the United Nations Code for law enforcement officials 1979 does not recognise superior order as a defence for the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials,“ he said.

‘Why Senator Ibrahim, 7 Others were Arrested’ Hammed Shittu ÓØ ÖÙÜÓØ

The Kwara State Police Commissioner, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun on Friday said that, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, PDP senatorial candidate for Kwara South senatorial district for today’s election and seven other suspects in the state were arrested in connection with the incident at Ojoku where one was killed and Ilorin during the recent attack on the convoy of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The home town of Senator Ibrahim, Ojoku witnessed a serious violence on Tuesday when the APC senatorial candidate for today’s poll, Mr. Lola Ashiru took his campaign to the town, leading to the death of one person while about nine people sustained injuries. Also, Thursday in Ilorin, some unknown persons attacked the convoy of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Isale-Aluko area of Ilorin leading to many people being injured in the town. Egbetokun disclosed this in Ilorin yesterday while speaking with journalists on the level of preparations of the joint security committee in the state for today’s polls . Egbetokun who was flanked by other heads of other security agencies said that the security agencies had commenced searching for other suspects that had fled in connection with these dastardly acts in both Ojoku and Ilorin.

He said that, all the perpetrators involved would be made to face the full wrath of the law so as to serve a great lesson to those that may likely indulge on such act in the future. Egbetokun who also pledged the neutrality of the security forces in the efforts to ensure a free, fair and peaceful elections in the state denied allegations that it was targeting members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its clamp down on suspected criminals ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections. While pledging to give all participants in the election a fair playing ground, the police boss however warned that the security agencies were fully ready for anyone who had planned violence around today’s polls. He said an Air Force helicopter had been deployed to the state for reconnaissance activities as part of measures to check outbreak of violence. The police boss added: ”Law abiding citizens and eligible voters should come out and exercise their rights. I can assure you that everyone will be protected.Anybody seen with arms on election day is a hoodlum and will be treated as hoodlum. “Those preparing to cause violence should be ready to contend with us. We have made adequate preparation for them.”


L-R: INEC National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye; Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mamood Yakubu and ECOWAS Observer and Chairperson National Independent Electoral Commission, (NIEC) Somalia, Halima Ismail Ibrahim at the 5th and final press briefing on today’s election...yesterday ÒÙÞÙ˝ ßÖÓßÝÞÙÓ

Attack on Kwankwaso: Police Arrest Abdulmumuni, 70 Others Ibrahim ShuaibuÓØ ËØÙ

Kano State Police Command on Friday arrested a member of House of Representatives, Abdulmumuni Jibrin Kofa and 70 other political supporters and leaders. The arrest of lawmaker came 24 hours after the attack on the campaign convoy of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso that led to a bloody clash in Kofa Village of

Bebeji Local Government Area of Kano State that claimed not fewer than two lives. Kwankwaso was on a campaign trail around Kofa town on Thursday when an attack on his convoy led to violent clash with supporters of the APC, Abdulmumuni Jibrin Kofa resulting to the loss of lives. Both parties pointed accusing fingers at each other as to who started the violence for which the

House of Representatives member Abdulmumuni Jibrin Kofa said resulted in the burning down of his 60 campaign vehicles. The Spokesman of the police in Kano, DSP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, told reporters that they arrested 70 persons across the two political parties including party leaders and also invited Kofa for interrogation. Haruna noted that only two

persons were killed in the clash while several others were injured. Twenty cars were burnt and 18 other political campaign vehicles shattered. He added that a community clinic has also been burnt down but no house was torched. “We invited Honourable Kofa for interrogation for the police to have more details as to what exactly happened,” the Police spokesman said.

PDP Drags Buhari, APC, INEC, AGF Army, Others to Court over Buhari’s Order Adedayo AkinwaleÓØÌßÔË

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has charged President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria Army, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Nigeria Police to court over the President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to the military to deal ruthlessly with ballot boxes snatchers. Buhari had during the APC

caucus meeting in Abuja last Monday said, “ Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb it (elections), maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take. I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless”. Dissatisfied with the President’s directive, the main opposition party has filed a case with suit number, FHC/ABJ/C5/255/2019 before federal high court, Abuja, praying the court to declare the directive as unlawful, null and void and

of no legal effect. Others joined in the suit include: National Assembly, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian and the Air force. The PDP prayed the court that, “The 1st Defendant (President federal republic of Nigeria) lacks the powers to deploy troops of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria comprised to participate In the 2019 general elections without the prior express approval of the 2 Defendant (National Assembly) and that any such deployment In the absence of the

2 Defendant’s (National Assembly) approval ls Illegal, ultra vires and unconstitutional. It also seeks declaration that, “The Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air force defendants are not under any obligation to enforce, implement and/or in Army way give effect to President Federal Republic of Nigeria directive of 18th February, 2019 to be ruthless deal summarily with alleged election offenders during the 2019 general elections even at the expense of human lives.

HURIWA Canvasses Support for Army for Successful Pools A non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged Nigerians to support Nigerian Army in its internal security operations during the polls to make the exercise a success. It also tasked the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant

General Tukur Yusuf to ensure that the internal mechanisms put in place to stop human rights violations by soldiers were effectively and efficiently activated to check abuses just as the group urged the Nigerian Army to maintain absolutely neutrality during the elections.

The group said it had received assurances from the highest echelons of the Nigerian Defence Sector that the operatives deployed for election related internal security operations had been instructed on the sanctity of complying with global best practices, rules of engagement and respect for

human rights. “Officers and operatives of the military are abreast of the universally approved rules of engagement in internal security operations just as they have been trained on the far reaching implications of proven cases of extralegal execution of citizens even those that infracted on the law.

5 ) * 4 % ":  t  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2019





Ex-NEC Boss, Nwosu Warns against Using Soldiers for Elections Peter Uzoho

A former chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, has cautioned against deploying soldiers for the 2019 general elections which kicks off today with the presidential and National Assembly elections. Speaking on Channels Television yesterday, Nwosu who chaired the electoral umpire from 1989 to 1993 stressed that the electorate might see soldiers and feel intimidated. The professor of Political Science argued that even under the military regimes, the commission made use of police officers and not soldiers, adding that if all necessary party agents were involved in the elections, there would be no issue of ballot snatching. He said: “There should be hitch-free movement of human beings that will conduct this election. Another thing is to secure the votes, count it before everyone, and the agent of each party having a copy. “This question of ballot snatching shouldn’t arise if

the agents of the two major parties – I believe the two main contestants are APC and PDP, if they have enough personnel to cover all the 120,000 polling centres all over Nigeria. “Soldiers are not part of the process. They should not, it’s the police. People may see soldiers and feel intimidated. This is a point.” He noted that throughout the elections the commission under him conducted, starting from “December 8, 1990 or December 14 for governorship, 1991; July 4, 1990 national assembly election, we use the police.” He added: “And the presidential election of 1993, soldiers didn’t appear anywhere, soldiers are for external defense, so this is something we are doing for ourselves.” Nwosu was appointed chairman of NEC in 1989 by the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, and he was credited for conducting the annulled 1993 presidential election which was widely adjudged the freest, fairest and most credible election in the country

READY FOR POLLS... INEC Officials receiving and confirming election materials in Gombe State...yesterday

PDP Accuses APC of Moving 2.5bn into Cross River to Buy Votes Bassey Inyang ÓØËÖËÌËÜ

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP ) in Cross River State has raised the alarm that the All Progressives Congress (APC), wants to influence the outcome of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in the state with N2.5 billion. The alarm was raised by the state PDP Campaign Council in a statement issued in Calabar on Friday by its Director-General, Mr. Efiok Cobham who said the money was channelled to the state chapter of the APC through the Central Bank of Nigeria branch in Calabar. While urging Cross Riverians not to mortgage their future and sell their birthrights by accepting APC’s Greek gift, the

party wondered why APC was now resorting to compromising the electoral process if it was popular as it had often claimed. The council also called on the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, which the APC seeks to compromise using the slush fund, to resist any attempt to be bought and conscripted into an unholy alliance aimed at thwarting the will of the electorate. “We appeal to INEC to assert its independence and remain steadfast in its avowed commitment to protecting the sanctity of the ballot box. They should resist every inducement and intimidation that the APC would subject it to,” the statement said. The statement further berated

the APC for trying to pollute the sane political atmosphere in Cross River State by introducing monetary inducement into the electoral process. “Cross Riverians are politically sophisticated and the level of electoral education here is excellent but the APC, aware of its utter hopelessness in the state, is working hard to pollute the system. Cross Riverians should beware of APC’s antics. “Ignore the APC and its desperation, don’t allow them to pollute you. Go out there tomorrow and vote our candidates enmass. We must reclaim our country from these buccaneers,” the statement quoted the campaign council as charging the people of the state.

Calm in Gombe as Materials Arrive LGAs from CBN Segun AwofadejiÓØÙ×ÌÏ

Calm atmosphere has enveloped most parts of Gombe State capital and some local government areas as they received all election materials for Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections. Our correspondent who visited three out of the 11 local government INEC offices reports that the Electoral Officers in Gombe, the state capital as well as Akko and Yamaltu-Deba LGA’s are fully ready for Saturday’s polls. As at the time of filling this report, most of the materials have already been offloaded and even sorted out based on Registration Areas (electoral wards) by the election officials. According to Ibrahim Ali, the Electoral Officer for Akko Local Government Area, “We have

received full compliments of election materials, everything is under control and our security are ready and armed to their teeth.” He said the distribution to the Registration Areas (electoral wards) would commence by 9:00a.m. adding that, with the situation on ground, they’ll not have any excuse to give for not holding elections come Saturday. His counterpart in YamaltuDeba, Suleiman Ibrahim, said they have not had any shortfall of the materials from the ballot papers, result sheets, card readers, ballot boxes among others. He said, “ We have 11 Registration Areas (electoral wards) and we’ll start distribution by 9a.m. with the security fully in control of our office. In Gombe, the State capital,

Saleh Bashir Yunusa, Assistant Electoral Officer (Admin), said there has not been any challenges so far for the rescheduled elections. “We are fully ready to conduct election by Saturday, we have full compliments of materials for our 11 Registration Areas including card readers. We have not had any mixup of materials from anywhere,” he pointed out. Reports from other local government areas of the state also has it that the election materials have reached the Electoral Offices without any rancour. Distribution of materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had been characterised by high level secrecy in Gombe State as Journalist were barred from observing the distribution.

Tension in Akwa Ibom over Threat to Arrest Speaker Okon Bassey ÓØãÙ

Tension has heightened in Akwa Ibom State as a Police Special Squad was said to have been dispatched to arrest the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and a candidate for Etinan Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke. Sources alleged that the Akwa Ibom State Speaker may be arrested on Friday evening to keep him off the Saturday polls. No reason was given for the planned arrest. “A special squad within the Anti-robbery unit of the state Police Command has been detailed to arrest the Speaker this evening,” a source stated. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the State Police Command is headed by Idorenyin Akpabio, cousin to Senator Godswill Akpabio. THISDAY gathered that an arrest warrant has already been obtained from the force headquarters in Abuja by “highly placed members of the opposition

party in the state” for the arrest with the newly posted police commissioner to the state directed to effect immediate arrest of the Speaker. Before now several press conferences had been held by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party and by chieftains of the party to alert members of the public on the plot by Senator Godswill Akpabio to arrest Luke and other key members of the PDP. The press conferences had also exposed a sinister plot by the leader of the APC in the state to mobilise boys who would be caught with weapons and on interrogations would implicate the Speaker and other key members of the PDP including, the Attorney General, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, PDP National Legal Adviser and Sen. Bassey Albert Akpan, to aid their arrests. It is also on record that the speaker himself had severally raised the alarm of plots by Senator Akpabio to have him arrested on trumped

up charges. The speaker, in a statement signed by his Press Secretary, Kufre Okon, during the week said “the plan is to ensure that the Speaker does not participate in Saturday’s election in which he is the candidate of the PDP for Etinan Federal Constituency election.” Senator Akpabio, a former governor of the state and Hon. Luke, had taken indirect swipe at each other in the course of the electioneering in the state. Akpabio had three weeks ago boasted in Nsit Ubium, Luke’s local government area, of his preparedness to defeat Luke in favour of the candidate of his party. Luke on his part had alleged that the former governor plans to use the police and the military to intimidate him and his supporters in the coming election. At a meeting of stakeholders from Uyo Senatorial District on Thursday, he warned that Akpabio should be held responsible for any blood spilled in the election.

PDP: Why Katsina People Will Reject APC Francis SardaunaÓØ ËÞÝÓØË

The Katsina state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that eligible voters in the state will reject the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9th governorship election in the state. The state Chairman of the party, Salisu Yusuf Magijiri, who made the disclosure on Friday, accused the ruling party of doing “nothing” in the state that would enable electorates to elect its governorship candidate during the poll. He noted that APC had impoverished the people of the state, adding that residents of the state have not had any good experience of governance with the current government. He added: “How can our

people vote for the party that have oppressed them and repressed them with poor governance? I have been campaigning around the state for the past three months visiting communities without basic amenities yet we have people running this state for the past three and half years.” According to him, “we are receiving complaints from various local governments that our people are being harassed and intimated by security agencies right from the beginning of this election process. “If you invite somebody without good reason, you are intimidating him and this is constitutional right for the people to come out and cast their votes. It is the duty of the security agencies to give protection to every citizen to

come and exercise his franchise. “We don’t want any form of intimidation. This is general elections and the elections will hold only after another four years. It is the right of the people to select their leaders. We have reports from Kankia, Sandamu, Daura and some areas which this intimidation is going on.” Magijiri, who is also the party’s Deputy governorship candidate, rejected the “illegal” use of security agencies as political tools by the APC to harass, intimidate and drag down opposition members ahead of the forthcoming elections. The state PDP boss, called on Katsina residents to hold the APC government in the state responsible, if harm befalls any PDP members during the polls.

Plus Omotayo Omotosho

Being Submissive to My Husband is the Secret of My Success

Mekala Jayaram I Can Only Serve God by Serving the People…God is in Every Being


pg. 22 pg. 29 pg. 42 pg. 45




Being Submissive to My Husband is the Secret of My Success Beautiful, brainy and eloquent, former Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Mrs. Omotayo Omotosho, MFR, holds sway in several disciplines and is not winding down any time soon on age factor. The media professional cum tourism consultant has been a source of solace and strength to a number of lives through her deeds and offerings. She is still willing to do more with her “Towards a Greater Nigerian Foundation” that concentrates on youths empowerment. Omotosho takes Omolabake Fasogbon through her rosy journey of life influenced by her upbringing, indelible childhood memories and her dreams for a better society



t an incredibly young age of 32, this personality was appointed board Chairman of the Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation, where she turned things around, to bring back to shape the state owned Lagos Television and Eko FM. It appeared that was the height of her success even at that age, but no, it was merely a tip of what destiny had for this wonderful creature. No wonder throughout the interview session, the ace broadcaster was full of life and quite appreciative, except for that moment when she recalled that she lost a dear one very recently. She was forced to return to her shell for a split second, but was soon full of life again after she consoled herself with biblical injunctions. Studying Omotayo’s life trajectories, one could not but feel life at the other good end, where pains, hustle and competition are less thought of. She hinted that her rosy life was simply rooted in her upbringing after God’s influence: “I remember as a child, my parents spent quality time on my siblings and I and so they impacted tremendously in us. As a devout catholic, they nurtured us in an environment of collaborations with one another, the fear of God, persistent prayers supported with relentless efforts, perseverance, tolerance and endurance. “Having grown up with these attributes, I found life easy at every juncture. But beyond this, I’ve also learnt that one needs to be submissive to one’s husband and create ample time for the children. This is a cheap secret to a complete success. In all, I have come to realise that one cannot make a headway as a complete woman if one has not been able to make a success of everything within the fabrics of woman hood.” Aside the output of her 30 years old “Towards a Greater Nigeria”, (TagNigeria), television programme by which she addresses political and economy issues , her footprint in the nation’s tourism sector as a former DG of NTDC is legendary. Till date, nobody has been able to rival her achievements in the industry. Still, she owes her feat to grace from above, and on earth, her parents and husband’s teaching. “I was just 36 years when the appointment came. I was like N for Nigeria, T for what? Honestly, at first, I didn’t know what the corporation was all about, yet, I was in the media, that was just to tell you how literally dead the corporation was. I almost rejected the appointment because I was already bombarded with gist of inactivity in the corporation, which as at then was over 18 years. My husband

prevented me from turning down the offer, yet, there was no fund to get the corporation moving, as the President had already informed me that he had limited funds. “Bearing in mind my parents’ teaching on perseverance and husband’s encouragement, I set out for the mission and eventually found a way out which was to involve private investors. Hence, I came up with different initiatives which I sold to the likes of Tony Elumelu, O’tega Emerhor, Atedo Peterside, late Remi Olowude, Jacobs Ajekigbe and others. They assured me of their support and kept their words, gradually, the corporation bounced back to glory”. Her alias, “Madam Tourism”, didn’t come so cheaply, as she had to break all known and unknown barriers to place Nigerian tourism at a very attractive spot in the global map. This period, according to her was no doubt challenging but an indelible moment of her life. Full of life, she said: “Yes, I succeeded in promoting partnership between the private sector and state governors of the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria to do something specific in relations to tourism attraction. Also, with the dogged devotion of my team, we were able to get President Olusegun Obasanjo (as he then was) to approve the establishment of Presidential Council on Tourism, comprising private and public players. But the greatest of it all that squeezed out tears from my eyes was when the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world, Miss World, was won by a Nigerian, Agbani Darego. This, I explored as a good trademark to promote Nigerian tourism. “Although, she is a Nigerian, she grew up abroad and that means she needed to know more about her root. I quickly arranged for her to go on a tour of our attractions in Nigeria; she came around and was really excited about this. This is why till date, she’s still very much in touch with me. One of our trips worth talking about again and again was our tour to one of the biggest tourism exhibitions in Europe, ITB Berlin in Germany, where we had about 120 countries on ground to exhibit the best of their attractions. Believe me, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, Every other nation within the big exhibition mall, left their own exhibition stand to come and line up in front of the intimidating and beautifully designed Nigeria stand, just to take the autograph of Miss World. “This was actually significant to me and Nigeria as a whole because it was a period when Nigeria suffered image battle globally as we just got out of military rule. So, the same Oyinbos (the




Omotosho family

I Look Younger than My Age Because I’m Content with What I Have white) who have condemned us were now struggling to identify with us. It was a moment we were able to exercise control over tourist from across the world as a result of the rush to access Agbani Darego. You can hear my staff telling the crowd, ‘eh you, fall into line, we don’t want it rowdy, we are law abiding people in Nigeria’, while I was just seated beside Agbani and watching. It was really a glorious moment for me.” Another notable thing about the Ibadan entrepreneur is her choice and style of headgear. Asked if the style mantra was informed by her function in tourism, smiling, she responded, “I’ve always loved promoting African culture even before I got to tourism. It happened that my mother used to make Aso-oke in those days and I began to love the material, I remember I used to tie a strip of the material while standing in front of the mirror to see how it will turn out, It used to turn out well and that’s how I mastered it and it became part of me.” The psychology graduate of University of Lagos spoke about her growing up as being eventful. “I was born and grew up in Ibadan over 55 years ago. I am the last of my parents’ five children. I attended Sacred Heart Secondary School in Ibadan and later, Christ School in Ado Ekiti. My father, late now, was an educationist and agriculturist while my mother is a retired nurse. Both were civil servants. I can say it again and again that in those days, fathers were fathers. When it comes to the family, my father was up and doing. He never left everything in my mother’s care. “Both parents had their duties mapped out for one another. As soon as he came back from work at about 3:30 pm or 4pm, by then, we were also returning home from school. He ensured we take our lunch at the right time, then, between 5 and 7 pm, we must have concluded our homework. He took care of the coaching aspect such that he never engaged tutors; he personally taught me phonetics as an educationist. My mother handled the food aspect and ensured that the house was tidy. Both spent quality time with us physically and spiritually and were never too busy looking for money. Growing up was really fun-filled in terms of mummy and daddy ensuring they gave us a stable life.”

Omotosho with Agbani Darego

The secret is simple. I try to eat well by avoiding fatty foods and take more of veggies and fruits and I’m not far from the gym. Above all, I’m also content with what I have Still speaking on her growing up, she thought of a childhood memory that wasn’t too funny to share. “It was the day my grandmother was sick, my mother had gone to work and my sister was away to the market. Mama started complaining of pain and dizziness, I was

just five years old. I couldn’t stand the pain, so I begged her to take Orheptal tonic since I know it can take care of dizziness. After so much pleading, she eventually agreed, unfortunately, I mistook iodine for Orheptal because the bottles looked alike, that was how I gave her iodine. But thank God, we lived in the hospital quarters; the situation was brought under control before it went out of hand. Mama was around 85 when the event happened and she lived 20 more years after.” Upon sighting and hearing her talk, even without knowing her before, one wouldn’t fail a test of her profession. This is because everything about her smells broadcasting. She speaks of her passion thus: “You see, right from time, I have always wanted to be a broadcaster, the desire to be one was further lifted by people who encouraged me to go for it since I have the voice and every other trait. But when it was time to study in the University, I was denied Mass communication, I almost waited for another year but the then Head of Mass Communication Department in Unilag enlightened me to go

for the course I was offered, which was psychology. He assured me that studying psychology wouldn’t stop me from becoming a broadcaster. I heeded his advice and settled for psychology. But, as fate would have it, I was posted to NTA Ibadan for my NYSC. That to me was divine and it was the beginning of a dream come true.” Highly spiritual and religion as she may be, she never fails to neglect the rule of beauty, no wonder she is untouched by age even at over 55.” She reveals: “The secret is simple. I try to eat well by avoiding fatty foods and take more of veggies and fruits and I’m not far from the gym. Above all, I’m also content with what I have. For a lot of people that know me, they will tell you I don’t struggle over life’s vanity and that’s why you won’t see me wear gold or diamond even though I can afford it. Another secret to looking younger is staying happy. I tell you once you take away worries and embrace happiness, you won’t only be healthy but also look younger than your age. I am always happy especially if I’ve succeeded in making people around me happy”. Even though she is a pastor’s wife, her judgement on secular issues is fair and frank. For instance, when grilled about how she managed advances from the opposite sex even as a married woman and pastor’s wife, she shocked the reporter who already envisaged a lash. Wearing a welcoming smile, she answered, “Naughty you! To be honest, I get advances from both old and young but I tell you, they aren’t genuine. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how spiritual I am, until they get close. I see the young ones that approach me as gigolos, once they come, I tell them, ‘how are you my son’ and then they feel embarrassed and look like, son ke. I get to see my age group who come in form of seductive hand shake, seductive compliment, text message and complimentary card, but I tell you, people like this only want to take advantage of one’s success. “I ask myself ‘where will this lead me to, is it now that I need a man to flatter me with the cliche like - oh! You are beautiful, I like your personality, I like your voice,’ e.t.c’ oh! Spare me the thrash, something that I’ve heard over 30 years ago from my husband when we met and he still tells me that till date.”




Mekala Jayaram

I Can Only Serve God by Serving the People…God is in Every Being

Mekala Bharathi Jayaram has been in Nigeria for almost 30 years doing charity work. She is from a middle class family in India and was so comfortable that even without working in her lifetime, she would not lack good life. But she left all, in her quest for fulfilment in life which is to serve humanity. She is a part of a team in Nigeria, providing free medical services and often funding operations that could not be performed in Nigeria for indigents. She tells AHAMEFULA OGBU that service to humanity was the best way to please God and make the world a better place. Excerpts:



PLUS If You Lift Your Hand to Serve, to Counsel Another Man, You Are Lifting it for God


ow did you come to Nigeria?

My brother in-law was working in Indian airlines, so through him we were invited. He said we should come so I did and I was working in Lagos Island maternity hospital when I came to Nigeria.

So how did you go into service to humanity? I believe in the saying that there is God in man, so I have the intense desire to serve God. So how can I serve God, what is the way? So my belief is that God is present in every man and even our parents told us so and encouraged us but the main reason is the interest to serve, because I want to serve God; I can serve God only by serving the people because I strongly believe that God is there in every being.

Where were you born? I was born in India, Hydraman. It is an urban area.

What kind of training did you receive growing up that prepared you for this type of service? It was from the teachers and parents and from the example of Sai Baba. Mainly the teachings and training that there is God in man.

Apart from working in Island Maternity, I learnt at a point you were running a hospital in Agege area taking care of the sick and even the leprous. How did you transit to Agege? After I finished my term in Island maternity, I went to Agege, which is like a rural or slum area; people are poor, poverty is very high there, so I was in charge of Grema Mohammed hospital. Alhaji Grema Mohammed was the owner of the place and I was in charge of operations and everything there, so I had a free hand and when I read some teachings like there is God in man and service to man is service to God, and there are four things that really impressed me a lot during that time when I was reading one book written by one great saint like that; that there are four days you can write in golden letters in your life. Number one is when you feed the hungry, when all the people gather together and sing the glory of God and third one is when you meet a great sage or a saint, what I mean by that is a person who has attained Christ consciousness and the fourth is when wisdom dawns on you. These are the days when you can write in golden letter in your life, so I thought I should follow something. I had the intense desire to serve right from the beginning. Even in Island Maternity hospital, we do whatever service is possible because Jesus also did the same thing. I mean anybody comes to your door step, I believe the person was sent by God; nobody just comes accidentally like that, so I try my best to help anybody that comes.

We learnt you even took care of lepers in the hospital and rendered all sorts of services, can you tell us more about that? Yes, I had a special training in India in taking care of leprous people and their treatment, so I use to go to Agege, near the mosque and I use to see a lot of disabled people, lepers, blind people, so many of them were suffering even without medicine, so by the grace of God, we started the feeding programme. We started a programme there like the free medicines, free food and all that. We use to cook in our place for 500 people and how funds used to come was mysterious like God used to send whatever was needed like that. Even my husband used to cook like God is coming to eat the food and our entire group, the Sati Sai Baba group and all our divine brothers and sisters, even outside people, whatever they can contribute they used to, like during the services, following us. That was like the miracle of God for me and then we used to have medical camps, giving out free medicines. We used to have donations for medicines; small small people used to contribute from Nigeria.

How did you fund the free feeding programme and medical outreaches? We used to buy them with my personal money and then people used to contribute. Our organisation brothers and sisters in whatever capacity they can, they used to contribute. I firmly believe that whenever you want to do any good work you will never lack in anything including funds and people to help.

Dr. Jayaram inaugurating a project he built and donated

Are there some memories you had growing up that are indelible? Nothing in particular; my mother used to tell us that you are in this life only to serve people, not for any other reason, every other thing has to be according to the desire of God. I don’t think it has anything to do with what people should be concerned with. But as a student of medicine, I used to do section of dead bodies, then every time I would think what is this life for? You know you think one day, your body would be like this. Either dead bodies or you are alive. I wanted to know the essence of life; I had the intense desire to know. I also had extra-ordinary talents as a child. Supposing you teach us something, after months, I can recall word for word that which was taught us; even if I read any book just once, I can recall everything in such a way that people won’t believe I read it only once. At a point I lost interest in other things because I was always pondering what the essence of life is and what will be the end of all these. My parents were not happy with that aspect of me because they were not able to answer me well. They were like you have everything life can provide, that is why you are asking us all these questions.

What kind of parents did you have, were they strict or lax with you? They were mild with me and never beat me. They were strict in disciplining us.

Was it after working on cadavers that you decided that service to humanity was your ultimate essence in life? After coming to Nigeria, I can say I have the intense desire to serve as though my life was on that. I came to Nigeria to work but my life changed and my mind has since been locked on service to humanity.

How long have you stayed in Nigeria? Almost 30 years. I was in Lagos most of the time. So I was in charge of the hospital then and I can do a number of activities I had the freedom for and my husband used to encourage me and helped out every time he could. I left all that life had gathered for me to fulfill the sole desire of service to humanity. The same spirit of service is in everybody, if you serve others, you serve yourself. I have met a lot of saints and sages in Lagos, highly developed spiritual people who attend to others.

Did you come to Nigeria with your children? No.

Where are they? They did not come with me but they are partly with me in Lagos and partly in America, both of them.

What was your experience like living apart from your children? It is not like that, we are not living apart; we are in contact.

In the course of living a life of service, what has been your toughest experience? We had a lot of challenges but I don’t take anything as hardest. Anything happens, everybody is an instrument. I am also an instrument of God to help the people; I feel

that if you lift your hand to serve, to counsel, to entreat another man, you are lifting it for God, if you are serving others you are serving yourself because the same spirit rules all.

What disappointments have you met in the course of service? You know some people when you are doing free service they may put so many blocks on your way but by God’s grace I am able to overcome everything.

What has been your happiest and most fulfilling experience in service? Anytime I serve I feel happy. We used to serve anybody that comes to my doorstep, we used to do free surgeries where they cannot afford to pay but all the services we give, we do silently, we don’t believe in propaganda because I believe that when you are doing service, it is for your own transformation. You may not reshape or reform the world, it is for you to reform yourself and reshape yourself. I used to go to remand homes and when lives are in danger, we used to intervene to save the life and it gives me lots of joy, when lives are in danger like ectopic pregnancy, Caesarian section, when we intervene and save their lives, it gives me lots of happiness.

You lived in Lagos and you are living in Enugu, can you compare your experiences? I have a very big family and as for the divine will, I am working here. I was happy there and I am happy here, it is the divine will. I learnt a lot of things in Nigeria at least they have helped in transforming me.

What are the things that you learnt in Nigeria that have transformed you?

Service. The advantage of doing service is evil eradication; all your negative tendencies and attributes, everything will gradually fade away, it gives you lots of joy, happiness. In the spiritual oath, service is very important. The simple formula in life is that when you serve others you are serving yourself, you should have that awareness and always you should do it for the sake of God, not for the sake of name, fame or publicity. We used to take some photos just for the sake of those that cannot attend the service. We used to go to leprosy colony to serve apart from remand homes and Agege center; we used to go to disabled homes, old peoples home, children home, who seek our help.

Can you recall any disappointment you have had in the course of rendering service and help? Disappointments will be there but we use to always solve the problems. We once helped a patient in the hospital for ectopic pregnancy, so we saved the life of the lady. You know some patients cannot afford the cost of treatment but later they went to the police station and said I should pay N15, 000 and like a criminal they charged me with very high offences. The man and the woman had a quarrel and if I did not do surgery, the woman would have died, and without paying money or bringing anything, we did all free. Either because the husband and wife quarreled or because we are expatriates, they just said she took some herbal medicines and lost the pregnancy. I think the woman was just six weeks pregnant. We saved her life

and she started something else because of the quarrel with her husband or boyfriend. It was looking really strange to me and they said she took herbal medicine but that was not true. I said I don’t give herbal medicine and that unless someone else gave her herbal medicine that I only performed the surgery. I called somebody and they resolved it.

How much did it cost you? I didn’t pay anything. I did not do anything wrong.

How did you meet your husband? It was an arranged marriage, my parents arranged it.

And it is working for you? Yes, there is no problem.

What do you like in your husband? He is like a great soul; he is like a saint with great qualities. He loves to serve people a lot. He is nice to everybody almost.

How do you cope leaving India where you have everything to live in Nigeria without earning income? I believe in God, Whatever I need, God will provide and He always provides. I am grateful to Nigerians for all the chances they have given me to serve humanity as a result, there is transformation in me.

Are you part of the team running a no account counter hospital in Ebe, Enugu State? Yes.

So how are you people coping with it? By God’s grace we are doing well.

On the average, how many people does the hospital handle in a day? I am not the only Doctor, other Doctors are there. On the average we see about 60 patients daily.

Do you still operate on patients? At present, we are not running an operating theater there, they are all out patients and we treat cases like malaria, gastro enteritis, kidney infections, respiratory tract infections among others.

To someone that has not been to Nigeria how would you describe the country? I feel life is a game of luck, it depends on individuals, I feel Nigerians are good. I see good in people because in everyone here is some form of specialty, I always see the positive sides to life. We send patients to India for operations free of charge and God is providing. I used to coordinate and help children get treatment in India free of charge.

How do you earn a living? We get something for food. I am okay in India so that even if I don’t have to work in my life I will be okay, my parents left enough for me and it is from that I subsidise my stay in Nigeria but God always provides and we get allowance for food.

What is your wish for Nigeria? I want Nigerians to be happy and progress


Fashion File

Taje Prest latest Collection – ‘A Style For Every Story’




A Style For Every Story Media Personality, Taje Prest, the Creative Director of her eponymous brand, has released her latest collection. The brand just launched its latest collection with the creative and colorful footwear called ‘Island Gyal’ Prest has introduced its line of waist bags which she has coined “T Packs”. She designed a fabulous and functional waist bag just in time for the holidays, playing with color and sizing. The Creative Director describes it as “A functional fanny pack for everyone : both male & female. Its straps boasts to fit all sizes - it’s stylish, and yet super easy to wear.” The Style For Every Story campaign features the new collection of Slides “Island Gyal” the waist bags “T packs”. You can shop these and more at the NEW Taje Prest store at , 1c Admiralty Road off admiralty way, Lekki Phase 1 Credits: Photography: Eniafe Momodu Makeup : Josepha Styling : Fisayo Longe Location: City of London





Eye on Second Term Chika Amanze-Nwachuku chronicles the political trajectory of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, his first term performance and his bid for a second term


orn on December 17, 1942 in Daura, Katsina State, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired major general was Nigeria’s head of state from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985. As a military head of state, Buhari was regarded as an incorruptible disciplinarian, who would spare no one in his war against corruption and indiscipline. His perceived firm stance against corruption, which dates back to his 20-month stint as a military leader, propelled him to international prominence. Indeed, the launch of “War Against Indiscipline,” which was aimed to promote positive values in Nigerian society boosted his public image and catapulted him to sudden fame. However, his government was overthrown by Major Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in another coup d’etat in August 1985. His ambition to become a democratically elected President of Nigeria came to limelight in 2003, when he contested for the office of the president under the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He won only 32.2% of the total votes and was defeated by the then incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He again contested in 2007 and 2011, under the same ANPP platform, but lost to the ruling PDP candidates, Umaru Yar’Adua (now late) and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan respectively. The good luck charm- ‘third time lucky’ did not work in his favour, yet he never gave up despite losing three elections. In 2014, he was nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC), as its candidate in the 2015 presidential election. Atotal of 14 candidates vied for the number one office, but the real contest was between PDP’s candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, who also was the incumbent president and Buhari. In what was adjudged as the most keenly contested election ever, Buhari defeated the incumbent President Jonathan, having won by a significant margin of 2.5 million votes. This marked the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost to an opposition candidate in a general election. He was sworn in on May 29, 2015 as 15th President of Nigeria, and fourth President in the fourth Nigerian Republic. Prior to his assumption of office, the Nigerian economy was already in a bad shape as the price of oil Buhari had fallen from highs of about $112 a barrel in 2014 to below $50 at the moment. Following the consistent drop in prices of crude, Nigerian economy had slowed to a crawl within his first six months in office. By March, 2015, precisely about two months before he took over the mantle of leadership, the external reserve had dropped to $31 billion as crude price had plummeted to about $48 per barrel from all-time highs of $112 a barrel in 2014. The country’s receipt from export of crude dropped to $1.3billion, while the demand for forex and the demand for import had remained high. Besides, most macro-economic variables had worsened within Buhari’s first year in office as the country witnessed contracting GDP, rising unemployment; declining capacity utilisation, foreign exchange shortages, aside the huge budget deficit. Also, other economic indicators were bad – the Nigerian Stock Exchange market capitalisation had plunged from a high of N11 trillion to about N8.65 trillion, with business confidence significantly eroded. The economy eventually slipped into recession, the worst in the country’s history since 1987, barely one year after he assumed office. The Buhari administration had blamed the economic quagmire on corruption and mismanagement of public funds by successive governments, particularly, the outgone Goodluck Jonathan regime. However, economic analysts, who though aligned with his submission, also noted that the president’s six months delay in appointing his cabinet as well as the delay in the passage of budget contributed to worsen the already bad economic situation. In fact, the economic downturn was further exacerbated by Buhari’s opposition to naira devaluation, a development, which resulted in a severe foreign exchange shortage. The situation was so bad that the nation’s currency crashed to about N520 to a US dollar. Also, inflation figure rose to 18.6 in December 2016, the highest in over a decade according to the NBS records. Afew measures were then taking by the CBN to stablise the economy and in the words of Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, to return the economy to growth part. They included the local currency adjustments, forex restrictions on some 41 items, raising the interest rate to checkmate the inflation, as well interventions through injection of dollars into the forex market. Although these interventions have helped to lower the pressure on the naira, which has since stablised across market segments, critics

argue that earlier floating of the local currency would have done the economy a lot good. Although Nigeria exited recession in 2017, the economy under Buhari’s watch has continued to suffer setbacks, growing at a slow pace. The World Bank recently put the estimated growth rate for Nigeria’s economy in 2019 at 2.2 percent with its forecast oil price at average $67 per barrel. However, the inflation rate is looking better. It stood at 11.37 per cent in January 2019. Similarly, the external reserve has risen to about $43 billion, while the GDP growth is currently at 2.3 per cent. Although this is commendable, analysts argue that the GDP figure is well below Nigeria’s population growth of over 180 million. They opined that the GDP should grow by over 4per cent for the country to come out of poverty. Away from the economy, the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast part of the country, which has claimed the lives of many innocent Nigerians besides the destruction of valuable properties, has remained a major challenge to Buhari administration since inception. As the president seeks reelection in today’s polls, analysts, who examined the string of promises he made during his campaign in 2015, have expressed divergent views on some of his administration’s policies. Whereas some analysts have commended his various programmes, including the much publicised social investment programme (SIPs), which government said, was aimed to ameliorate hardship faced by the most vulnerable, poor and unemployed Nigerians, critics believed it is yet another vote-buying strategy, which will not live beyond the 2019 election year. The four components of the SIP- the N-Power, the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP), which comprises the MarketMoni, the FarmerMoni and the TraderMoni are being implemented across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Also, one of the core pillars of Buhari’s campaign in 2015 was his promise to fight corruption, which is the bane of economic growth and stability. In this regard, the federal government in December 2016, through the Federal Ministry of Finance introduced the Whistleblowing Policy, which has since yielded N13.8billion from tax evaders and

N7.8 billion, $378 million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials. Also, N8.1 trillion was discovered to have been underpaid into the federation account between 2010 and 2015 by 15 revenue-generating agencies. In line with his avowed war against corruption, his government had instituted scores of corruption cases against some top government functionaries including high court judges. Although government lost in most of those cases as it was only able to secure a few convictions, it appeared not deterred. Only recently, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Just Walter Onnoghen was removed from office and was arraigned yesterday before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged failure to declare his asset. His removal has elicited widespread condemnations with many calling on government to follow due process in its action against the former CJN. Although Buhari claimed he has delivered on his 2015 campaign promises, his critics think otherwise. Critics also pointed out what they described as blatant nepotism, cronyism, and tribalism in Buhari’s administration, noting that the northern states are mostly favoured in appointments, opportunities, and provision of infrastructure. Also, it is believed that Buhari’s acclaimed fight against corruption was targeted at political opponents and perceived enemies of his government. The main opposition and other critics also believe the Buhari administration is losing the war against terrorism and has not done enough to checkmate activities of these insurgents, who spare no one including the Nigerian soldiers. Despite the barrage of criticism, Buhari has rated his almost four years in office very high, insisting he has delivered on all his 2015 campaign promises. He is therefore seeking reelection today in order to take his acclaimed achievements to the ‘next level’. But whether his re-election bid would be achieved or not, only today can tell. Buhari, GCFR, was born on December 17, 1942 in Daura, Katsina State to a Fulani family. His father Hardo Adamu, a Fulani chief, died when he was only about four years. The twenty-third child of his father, Buhari was raised by his mother Zulaihat following the demise of his father. He enrolled in the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC), now the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1962 at the age of 19. He later proceeded to officer cadet training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England 1962 to 1963. Upon completion of his programme, Buhari was commissioned a second lieutenant and appointed PlatoonCommander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria. From November 1963 to January 1964, Buhari attended the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna. In 1964, he facilitated his military training by attending the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom. He was appointed Governor of the North-Eastern State, from August 1, 1975 to February 3, 1976, by the late General Murtala Mohammed. He also briefly served as Governor of Borno state from 3 February 3, 1976 to March 15, 1976. In March 1976, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1977, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978. Following the creation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 1977, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978. From 1978 to 1979, he was Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters and was a member of the Supreme Military Council from 1978 to 1979. From 1979 to 1980, at the rank of colonel, Buhari attended the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies. He served as the nation’s head of state from December 31,1983 to 27 August 27,1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état. He was married to Safinatu Yusuf, whom he divorced in 1988, the same year he married Aisha. His marriage was blessed with 10 children, but he lost two.




The Warrior from Jada

Charles Ajunwa chronicles the political journey of the Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar


olitical pundits within and outside the country have predicted that the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, will emerge victorious in today’s 2019 presidential election. They predicted Atiku would defeat the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, with a small margin. But there’s a saying in politics “that it’s not over until it’s over”. Atiku’s political career spanning over two decades has been eventful. His foray into politics was in the early 1980s when he worked behind-thescenes on the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur, who at that time was managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority. He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur, and also donated to the campaign. Towards the end of his Customs career, he met Shehu Musa Yar ’Adua, who had been second-incommand of the military government that ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979. Atiku was drawn by Yar ’Adua into the political meetings that were happening regularly in Yar ’Adua’s Lagos home. In 1989 Atiku was elected a National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria, the political association led by Yar ’Adua, to participate in the transition programme initiated by Head of State Ibrahim Babangida. The Peoples Front of Nigeria included politicians such as Umaru Musa Yar ’Adua, Babalola Borishade, Bola Tinubu, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sabo Bakin Zuwo. He won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, set up to decide a new constitution for Nigeria. The People’s Front was eventually denied registration by the government (none of the groups that applied was registered ) and found a place within the Social Democratic Party, one of the two parties decreed into existence by Atiku the regime. Atiku, on September 1, 1990, announced his Gongola State gubernatorial bid. A year later, before the elections could hold, Gongola State was broken up into two – Adamawa and Taraba States – by the federal government. Atiku fell into the new Adamawa State. After the contest, he won the SDP Primaries in November 1991 but was soon disqualified by government from contesting the elections. A similar fate – disqualification by the military – would befall Shehu Musa Yar ’Adua, Atiku’s friend and political mentor, in his 1992 bid for the presidential primary of the SDP. With no chance of contesting for the presidency, Yar ’Adua decided to push Atiku forward as the focal point of SDP’s ambitions. He came third in the convention primary. But because MKO Abiola, the winner, had won by only about 400 votes a run-off was due. Atiku stepped down for Abiola, asking his supporters to cast their votes for him, with an unwritten agreement that Abiola would announce Atiku as his running mate. Abiola won the SDP ticket and announced Babagana Kingibe, the runner-up, as his running mate. Atiku’s second gubernatorial run was in 1998 when he launched a bid for the governorship seat on the platform of the PDP. He won the December 1998 elections, but before he could be sworn in he was tapped by the PDP’s presidential candidate, former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo, as his vice-presidential candidate. The Obasanjo-Atiku ticket won the 27 February 1999 presidential election with 62.78 percent of the vote. Atiku was sworn in as Vice-President of Nigeria on 29 May 1999. He presided over the National Council on Privatisation, overseeing the sale of hundreds of loss-making and poorly managed public enterprises. In 1999, he alongside South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, launched the South Africa Nigeria Bi-national Commission. In 2003, Atiku was involved in a bitter public battle with his boss, Obasanjo, ostensibly arising from the latter ’s bid for 2nd term. Atiku wanted to run, claiming Obasanjo promised to do only one term. They also clashed over the failed

constitutional amendment aimed at allowing Obasanjo to run for another term. The Atiku-Obasanjo face-off damaged the relationship between both men. Atiku’s second attempt at the presidency was in 2017. On 20 December 2006, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the then Action Congress (AC). On 14 March 2007, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the final list of 24 aspirants for 21 April presidential election. Atiku’s name was missing from the ballot. INEC issued a statement stating that hisname was missing because he was on a list of persons indicted for corruption by a panel set up by the government. Atiku headed to the courts on 16 March to have his disqualification overturned. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on 16 April that INEC had no power to disqualify candidates. The ruling allowed Atiku to contest the election. According to official results, Atiku took third place, behind the PDP candidate. late Umaru Yar ’Adua and All Nigeria Peoples Party’s (ANPP) candidate Muhammadu Buhari, with approximately 7% of the vote (2.6 million votes). Atiku rejected the election results and called for its cancellation, describing it as Nigeria’s “worst election ever.” With his “never die spirit” Atiku in 2007 returned to PDP. In October 2010, he announced his intention to contest for the Presidency. On 22 November, a Committee of Northern Elders selected him as the Northern Consensus Candidate, over former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State. In January 2011, Atiku contested for the presidential ticket of his party alongside President Jonathan and Sarah Jubril, and lost the primary, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 2736. In August 2013, INEC registered two new political parties. One of them was the Peoples Democratic Movement. Local media reports suggested that the party was formed by Atiku as

a back-up plan in case he was unable to fulfill his presidential ambitions on the PDP platform. In a statement, Atiku acknowledged that the PDM was founded by his “political associates”, but that he remained a member of the PDP. On 2 February 2014, Atiku left the PDP to join the All Progressives Congress (APC), with the intent of contesting the Nigerian presidency in 2015 on the party’s platform. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari emerged as APC’s presidential flag bearer. On Friday, 24 November 2017, Atiku announced his exit from the APC, a party he helped to form. On 3 December 2017, via a Facebook Live broadcast, Atiku announced his return to the PDP. The announcement followed consultations the former Vice President had with party leaders and stakeholders from across the country. He said he decided to ‘return home’ to the PDP now that the issues which made him leave the party had been resolved. Again, Atiku declared his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the PDP mid2018 and won the nomination at its convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on 7 October. He defeated 11 other contestants and got 1,532 votes, 839 more than the runner-up, the Governor of Soko State Aminu Tambuwal. After over three months campaign trail that took him to 35 states including Abuja, he concluded his campaign rally in Adamawa, his home state. On his relationship with Obasanjo, a delegation from the Northern Youth Leaders Forum on March 30, 2014, visited Obasanjo at his home in Abeokuta and pleaded with him to “forgive your former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of whatever political sin or offence he might have committed against you.” In response, Obasanjo is quoted as saying that “as a leader and father, I bear no grudge against anybody and if there is, I have forgiven them all.” Atiku was born on 25 November 1946 to a Fulani trader and farmer Garba Abubakar, and his second wife, Aisha Kande, in Jada Village of Adamawa State. He was named after his paternal grandfather Atiku Abdulqadir and became the only child of his parents when his only sister died at infancy. In 1957, his father died by drowning while crossing a river to Toungo, a neighbouring village to Jada. He completed his primary school education in 1960, the year Nigeria was given Independence and was admitted into Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in the same year, alongside 59 other students. He graduated from secondary school in 1965 after he made grade three in the West African School Certificate Examination. Atiku then proceeded to attend Nigerian Police College, Kaduna. He left the college for a position as a tax official in the Regional Ministry of Finance. Later he received admission to study at the School of Hygiene, Kano in 1966. In 1967, he graduated with a diploma. That same year, Atiku was admitted for a Law Diploma at Ahmadu Bello University on a scholarship. He graduated in 1969 and was employed by Nigeria Customs Service that same year. His father was opposed to the idea of Western education and tried to keep Atiku out of the traditional school system. When the government discovered that Atiku was not attending mandatory schooling, his father spent a few days in jail until Aisha Kande’s mother paid the fine At the age of eight Atiku enrolled in the Jada Primary School. In 1960, he was admitted to Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in Yola where he did well in English Language and Literature, struggled with Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics. He graduated with a Grade Three WASSCE/GCE Certificate in 1965. Atiku, politician, businessman cum philanthropist, has four wives and is the father of 28 children.




Heavyweights in Senatorial Contests Ahamefula Ogbu


n the Senatorial contest today across the country, there are some political heavyweights who are going to make the election interesting on account of their political pedigree. Most of them are either serving governors whose tenures are winding up or former governors who have to square it up with fellow influential persons. In Abia State, immediate past governor of the state, Chief Theodore Orji who is seeking re-election into the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is squaring off with Senator Nkechi Nworgu who has registered her name in both chambers of the national assembly. She is running under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The duo will make the contest interesting. Orji defeated her in the last election and also won at the tribunal to go to the senate. In Abia North Senatorial District, a former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu will be slugging it out with Senator Mao Ohuabunwa who defeated him in the last election to book his present seat in the senate. Both have deep pockets and have been in the political firmament for a while Gabriel Suswam, a former governor of Benue State is vying for the senatorial seat of Benue East under the platform of

PDP. He will battle Senator Barnabas Gemade (SDP) who has become like a permanent opposition to everything Suswam. Others that will lighten up the political space in the race to the senate are former governor, Akume George against former Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro. Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo is a sitting Governor who wants to transit to the Senate while in Kaduna, Senator Shehu Sani after a running battle with governor Nasir el-Rufai for an APC ticket, lost and moved over to the PRP for the Kaduna Central Senatorial contest. Former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano Central, APC is also contesting to go to the Senate. He is known to have defeated former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in a political contest and would be contesting today’s election. In Cross River State, Ndoma Egba is the big name in the contest at Cross River Central Senatorial zone under the APC platform. In Delta South, former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan will face incumbent Senator James Manager. In Delta Central, Ovie Omo Agege of the APC will face Evelyn Oboro of PDP. Oboro is a current member of the House of Representatives for two terms. Former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu is running for the Senate under the PDP for Ebonyi North while Abdullahi Adamu a former governor of Nasarawa State is running

under the APC for Nasarawa West senatorial district. The current Governor, Tanko Almakura wants to transit from governor to become a senator representing Nasarawa South. In Oyo State, Governor Ajimobi Adeyemi Abiola representing Oyo South on the platform of APC will also make today’s contest interesting. In Ogun, outgoing Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central) is on the list of senatorial candidates and will be slugging it out with former Speaker Titi Oseni – Gomez. In Anambra, Senator Andy Ubah is also in the race and will be squaring up with his own brother Chris. Oil mogul, Ifeanyi Ubah is also contesting under the platform of the YPP. Godswill Akpabio APC Akwa Ibom North West is one of the senatorial contestants whose presence on the ballot would make for an interesting result. In Enugu, creator of the Ebeano political dynasty, Chimaroke Nnamani, who was once consigned to political dustbin by those he created has resurrected again and is contesting under the PDP. Ike Ekweremadu is also on the ballot for PDP while in Gombe former governor Danjuma Goje is also gunning for the Senate as well as Ahmed Goni. In Kwara Central, Oloriege Yahaya Ibrahim though an unknown name appears to have federal backing and has to square up with the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki of PDP. The presence of these heavyweights among others will make today’s senatorial contest a game to look out for.












POLITY Revisiting Disrupted Ogun State Rally Femi Ogbonnikan reports that the dust generated by the disruption of President Muhammadu Buhari’s rally in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on February 11 is yet to settle


he last may not have been heard about the disrupted Presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State on February 11, 2019. The state is one of the strongholds of the APC in Nigeria. Apart from being contiguous to Lagos, Ogun State has produced leading lights who are prominent stalwarts of the ruling party. The Presidential rally, which later turned out sour, was meant to be completely anAPC affair for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, and to formally present the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state, DapoAbiodun. What actually played out could be described as a brazen display of arrogance by Governor IbikunleAmosun who started beating the orchestrated war drum to the utter dismay of the leading figures of the party in attendance. Without mincing words, while exhibiting intolerance, and also seizing the occasion as a payback time, the governor left no one in doubt of his mission. Amosun, in concert with his advisers who are prominent members of a fringe party,Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM), had perfected plans to steal the show at the event slated for 2pm. On arrival at the MKOAbiola Stadium, Abeokuta, venue of the rally,Amosun was stunned to see that supporters ofAbiodun, who were neatly clad in different yellow attires bearing the inscription ‘DapoAbiodun for Governor’, had mounted every seat. They also had portraits, posters and flex banners of theAPC governorship candidate adorning every strategic location within the main bowl of the stadium and the popular Presidential Boulevards. Surprisingly feeling distraught over the development, the governor wasted no time in ordering his aides, with the active support of his security details, to start removing all Dapo Abiodun’s Campaign materials from within and outside the stadium. WhenAbuja security chiefs took over the screening Dapo Abiodun being presented by President Buhari exercise, three hoodlums were arrested with an axe, a short knife and assorted charms found on them. Many other hoodlums were also prevented from entering the venue. AfrustratedAmosun remarked: “Don’t create confusion in Ogun State. I am talking to you, the security operatives, especially the DSS and Police operatives fromAbuja. Please, stop using teargas on our people. Please, don’t do it again. President Buhari is safe here in Ogun State. He is our father. To all of you here, we are going to open the gates to allow our people to come in. We don’t want stampede. So, security operatives, I am putting you on notice. Please, help us to help you. I am begging you to stop it. Our people are suffering outside there.” The governor personally took charge and herded theAPM supporters into the main bowl. TheAPM supporters, in their scores, chased outAbiodun supporters with sticks and took over the arena. Many of them were either injured in machete attacks while others were beaten black and blue under the direct watch of the police. Besides, musicians on hand didn’t help the situation.Apala musician,Alhaji Haruna Ishola (junior), Fuji maestro, SefiuAlao, and hip-hop musician, Small Doctor, were singing mocking and inciting songs to harass and embarrassAbiodun and his supporters. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the programme of event. The anchor person, Mrs.Abike Dabiri, who is an in-law Assaulted supporter of Dapo Abiodun toAmosun, took charge. Item 7 - goodwill message - which was reserved for the Ogun StateAPC Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi, was the crowd and present the party’s flag toAbiodun. Immediately, reversed and the suspended former chairman, Chief DerinAdebiyi, Oshiomhole took over the microphone, it was switched off from the “mixer machine” and he couldn’t talk. Next, there were chants “Ole! was asked to handle it. Ole!! Ole!!! (thief). The national chairman had no choice but to silently In his bid to straighten the rough edges, Osun State’s former governor, Ogbeni RaufAregbesola, while addressing the mammoth hand over the party’s flag to the governorship candidate,Abiodun. One of the placard carrying members of theAPM immediately crowd, cautionedAPC’s faithfuls and supporters to be wary of hurled an empty table water plastic in the direction of Buhari and hypocrites. other chieftains of theAPC on the high table. “We are here for peace. Those carrying posters and banners of While calming frayed nerves,Amosun intervened and addressed another party other than theAPC are hypocrites. On Saturday, March 2, which is a date for both the governorship and state’s House supporters of theAPM in Yoruba dialect, not to do anything that would embarrass the people of the state before Buhari. ofAssembly, let us vote for the broom which is the symbol of the He said: “We have told them that they (APC governorship APC.” candidate), that they are not up to 5 per cent. Ti a ba nberu aja, alaja ro But at this stage, the development did not go down well with the wipe oun l’anberu” (if we are afraid of a dog it doesn’t mean we are chief host,Amosun. He went overboard. He threw cautions to the afraid of its owner). Let us swallow our pride. Why disgracing me wind, hopped up from his seat and engagedAregbesola in harsh here? Please, don’t disgrace us here.” words and warned him to steer clear of Ogun State’s domestic Also, the Director-General (DG), Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential political affairs. But the swift intervention of the governor’s wife, Olufunsho, who quickly rose to her feet and held back her husband, Campaign Organisation, Chief RotimiAmaechi, told the crowd that their mission was two-fold, to campaign for the re-election of saved what could have been an ugly situation. President Buhari andAbiodun as the next governor of Ogun state. Regardless, commotion started shortly after the national chairAccording to him, “We are all here completely for theAPC man of theAPC, ComradeAdams Oshiomhole, rose to address

elections. The event of today is completely for all our candidates from the Presidential, governorship, NationalAssembly and to the State House ofAssembly. “It is important to vote for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governor. Let us not make any mistake otherwise we (APC) will lose it,” saidAmaechi. Agrapevine source hinted that no fewer than 200 hoodlums were brought into the main bowl of the stadium to embarrassAbiodun, Oshiomhole,Asiwaju BolaAhmed, Chief Olusegun Osoba and other key figures that were againstAmosun’s preferred governorship candidate,AdekunleAkinlade. However, two stalwarts of the party, Chief Bode Mustapha and Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, have condemned the fracas. Mustapha, the Bobagunwa of Egbaland, who was Director-General (DG), Amosun’s re-election in 2015, said it was a show of shame that had never happened anywhere. “It was unprecedented and extremely pathetic that President Muhammadu Buhari could be pelted with missiles of all kinds. It was shameful. I think, the party should look into it and appropriate sanctions meted out to the governor, because nobody is greater than the party. “What would have happened if something untoward had happened to the President? It was putting the lives of Buhari, Osinbajo, Tinubu,Akande, state governors and other notable figures in jeopardy.” Also, Majekodunmi, who is the Baagbile of Egbaland, berated Amosun and his loyalists inAPM: “It was unfortunate thatAmosun and his rebels did this last week because they wanted to vent their anger on the national leaders of the party, including Buhari. That they could go to that extent was very shameful. I am sure Governor Amosun might have regretted that shameful act. “We are for the Unity of theAPC and we still believeAmosun would see reason to forget whatever injustices that may have been done to him and work for the progress of the party. Many of us are concerned about the unity of the party and on how to ensure that all our candidates vying for various elective offices win in the forthcoming elections. “ButAmosun cannot benefit from what he did. He went too far in expressing his grievances. It was very degrading to have engaged in a shouting match.After all, God has been with him in almost his eight years in office and he shouldn’t have engaged in this kind of rage, with the attacks on Buhari, leaders of the party and even the Ogun State governorship candidate, Prince DapoAbiodun, because we are all members of the same political family.”


5 ) * 4 % ":  t  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019







No Red Carpet for Liverpool

Ambrose Efe Mission to Derby County

PAGE. 32




Ambrose Efe

Mission to Derby County

After a successful two-year stint at Hibernian in which he made 59 league appearances, winning the Scottish Championship, Ambrose Efe is hoping to consolidate his football career with Championship side, Derby County after the 30-year-old defender left Hibs in January on a mutual agreement

umour was rife early in January that Sheffield Wednesday are hoping that Ambrose Efe would engineer his own release from Hibernian and move to Hillsborough and therefore land the 30-year-old ahead of rival suitors such as Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City. And with Sheffield Wednesday

currently in possession of the Championship’s second-leakiest defence, a new centre-half is thought to be among Steve Bruce’s main priorities after being appointed a manager at Hillsborough, but it was not to be as the Nigerian international over the weekend sealed a short-term deal with Derby County after successful trials. Earlier in the month, Derby County

manager, Frank Lampard was said to have been impressed by Efe in training, with the Nigerian possibly coming in on a free transfer as the former Chelsea midfielder had been keen to bring in defensive cover with only two senior centre-backs available for selection. Lampard has delved into the free agent market and former Celtic and Hibernian defender caught his eyes and

the Nigerian has been training with the Rams since then. “I have found him very nice, very good, very friendly, so as a character I think he would be great for us anyway,” Lampard had said. He went on to outline some of the defender’s strengths with a move seemingly moving closer. “I watched a lot of him, I know his



GLOBAL SOCCER I had other offers from abroad so when my agent called me and said Derby were interested and they had put an offer to us with Lampard, I said there is no second choice. That should be the first choice because for me, I’ve known Lampard since he was at Chelsea as a player and he has been my hero and someone I’ve always enjoyed watching play football

Victor Moses in action for Fenerbahce

strengths. He is a tall defender, very committed, wants to play on the ball, and quick. It is just about making sure about his level of fitness and that both sides are happy it is going to work.” “Efe hasn’t played a competitive match since the end of December. It was good for us to have a look at him in this way. If a deal is done, we will let everybody know. We know we needed a centre-back,” Lampard had added. “I

felt we would get someone but that didn’t happen. Efe is here outside of the window and if he can come in then great.” The 30-year-old defender left Hibernian in January on a mutual agreement to put an end to his twoyear stay with the Hibs, having made 59 league appearances with the Easter Road outfit before his departure winning the 2017 Scottish

Championship trophy. “I had other offers from abroad so when my agent called me and said Derby were interested and they had put an offer to us with Lampard, I said there is no second choice. That should be the first choice because for me, I’ve known Lampard since he was at Chelsea as a player and he has been my hero and someone I’ve always enjoyed watching play football. He is a legend so when he told me about Derby and Lampard, I’ve always watched the Championship and known about the passion,” Ambrose toldRamsTV. “Every player wants to make a mark and I want to do the best I can do to give back to the club. All I can do to make sure we are in the top six, the play-offs, or the coaches have said, automatic promotion, which is the best to put into the spirit of the players. “We are aiming for the top two places to get the automatic ticket so once you put that in your head then it’s a challenge and it’s not impossible. In the Championship, everyone is equal to everyone. Anyone can beat anyone when you are at your best so for me, I need to work hard, train hard and adapt quickly to help the team. “I know it’s a busy time playing every weekend and that’s the challenge I like. It’s competitive football that I like so I don’t have a problem with that. I want to prove myself and make sure to repay his trust in me and that is why I’m here.” Lampard had previously said that strengthening the defence was crucial if they are to maintain their Championship promotion challenge. “If not then we have two regular centre-halves that have been playing fantastically well all season.” “He brings competition at the centre-back area because we only had tworecognised centre-backs with the injuries that we’ve had this season. And he brings the experience of playing at Celtic many games, Hibernian, games internationally. So that may be a huge deciding factor in our season depending on how we go because we know we have a tough run of games and a busy fixture list,” Lampard said. “Sometimes you never know where football will take you but for me, it’s a dream to play down in England so getting the opportunity to play here is amazing,” Ambrose said. Ambrose is perhaps best known for his five-year stint at Celtic, where he replaced the former Owls captain Glenn Loovens and was a teammate of Gary Hooper but the Nigerian spent the best part of two years at Hibernian before engineering his own release earlier this month. After a good performance at the junior ranks, former national team coach, Stephen Keshi invited Ambrose Efe to the Super Eagles ahead of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the defender did repose the trust ‘Big Boss’ had on him as he stood like a Rock in the defence en route Nigeria’s third AFCON success. Dip in form; not having enough playing time however robbed Efe of his ambition

of having a part at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. After failing to pin down a regular playing time under Coach BredanRogers at Celtic and as a way of playing himself back to reckoning into the national team after being ignored in two successive 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Zambia and Algeria respectively, Ambrose Efe seek a loan deal to English second-tier side, Blackburn Rovers, but the non-issuance of work permit made him return to Celtic. The 30-year-old had stated that he is ready to continue “working hard and training hard. It’s difficult as a player you want to play, but as you know football has its ups and downs you have good days and bad days. For me, I keep working hard and training hard, I enjoy every moment I spend on the training field. “The manager has told me, he has seen me he knows my quality and the kind of player I am, but the most important thing for me is to start playing so when I start playing he can see me in a different way,” Ambrose was quoted by The Scotting Sun. Ambrose started his professional career at Kaduna United in 2006 and two years later, he was loaned to Bayelsa United for the 2008–09 season but remained with Kaduna United after helping them win promotion. He joined Israeli Premier League club FC Ashdod in June 2010 and left in 2012 to join Scottish Premier League club Celtic on a three-year contract. Ambrose was a member of the Nigerian national under-20 football team at 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. He later represented Nigeria U-23 and played two games at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He was called up to Nigeria’s 23-man squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations playing five out of six games was named in the 2013 African Cup of Nations team of the tournament. He said winning the AFCON was his biggest achievement and one of the greatest moments of his life. He was selected for Nigeria’s squad at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. G LO B A L S O C C E R ASSISTANT EDITOR KUNLE ADEWALE





Liverpool Take Title Challenge to Old Trafford The two most successful clubs in English football - Manchester United and Liverpool take the centre stage in this weekend’s Premier League fixtures in a clash that would to a large extent shape this year’s winner. While a win for the Devils would establish their position in the top-four, the Reds would be hoping for at least a draw to return to the summit of the table. With a Champions League progression hanging in the balance after their goalless draw at home to Bayern Munich, the Premier League remains the only likelihood for silverware for the Reds having been ousted of the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup


anchester United may not be in the title race but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could have a big say in who wins the Premier League starting with Sunday’s clash against Liverpool at Old Trafford. Manchester City leads the Premier League on goal difference from Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool with both teams on 65 points, 14 ahead of fourth-placed United. City does not feature in the Premier League this weekend as it faces Chelsea in the League Cup final, giving Liverpool an opportunity to return to the top of the table. United still has to play City again in this campaign, but perhaps surprisingly to some, its fans would probably prefer the team to do

more damage to Liverpool’s ambitions. Liverpool hasn’t claimed the league title since 1990 while United has won 13 in that period and its supporters love to remind their bitter north-west rival of that fact. Local pride aside, however, this is also a crucial game for Solskjaer as he bids to convince the Old Trafford hierarchy that he is the right man to lead the club on a permanent basis after his interim period runs out at the end of this season. The Norwegian is already a highly popular figure with United’s fans after leading the team to 11 wins in his first 13 games in charge and if he were to claim the scalp of Klopp’s Liverpool his approval ratings would go through the roof. It was a defeat by Liverpool which offered

Solskjaer his chance when Jose Mourinho was sacked following a limp 3-1 loss at Anfield in December. United moved into the FA Cup quarterfinals with an impressive 2-0 win against Chelsea while Liverpool heads into this weekend’s game after a 0-0 home draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League. “It is a big game against Manchester United, it’s always big against them. It’s a game in hand as well and we look forward to that,” said Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson. “It’s a huge game and they’re a different team playing some really good football, I think we need to be wary of them but they know what they’re coming up against and they need to be wary of us,” he added.

United is hoping Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard recover from muscle injuries in time to face Liverpool, the pair missed the Chelsea game after picking up the injuries in the Champions League defeat by Paris St. Germain last week. “I don’t think we will see them in the next two games,” Ole said last Friday, “Let’s hope they heal quickly, but it looks like they might be out for two or three weeks.” With Lingard and Martial unavailable, Solskjaer selected a three-pronged attack of Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford last time out. Alexis Sanchez stepped off the bench in west London and earned praise from his team-mates for working hard to secure a vital win. It will be fascinating to see which of the forwards starts



GLOBAL SOCCER Premiership Table

Team Man City Liverpool Tottenham Man Utd Arsenal Chelsea Wolves Watford Everton West Ham Bournemouth Leicester Crystal Palace Brighton Burnley Newcastle Cardiff Southampton Fulham Huddersfield

P 27 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 27 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 26

GD 54 44 29 17 16 16 1 0 -3 -7 -10 -3 -7 -11 -18 -12 -23 -16 -33 -34

Pts 65 65 60 51 50 50 39 37 33 33 33 32 27 27 27 25 25 24 17 11

Premiership TODAY

Burnley vTottenham 12:30 Bournemouth v Wolves 15:00 Newcastle v Huddersfield 15:00 Leicester v Crystal Palace 17:30 SUNDAY

Arsenal v Southampton 14:05 Man Utd v Liverpool 14:05

Hot Shot NAME



Mohamed Salah



Sergio Agüero

Man City





Harry Kane



Eden Hazard



Raheem Sterling

Man City


Sadio Mané



Paul Pogba

Man Utd


Son Heung-Min



Alexandre Lacazette



Callum Wilson



Aleksandar Mitrovic






Glenn Murray



Marcus Rashford

Man Utd


Raúl Jiménez



Roberto Firmino



Gylfi Sigurdsson



Anthony Martial

Man Utd


Spanish La Liga Fixtures against Liverpool. Meanwhile, David De Gea is expected to return after making way for Sergio Romero to start on Monday night. Spanish stopper has not missed a single minute of Premier League football this season and is determined to keep a third consecutive clean sheet, following the recent top-flight wins over Fulham and Leicester City. In defence, Solskjaer can select between Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the centre of defence. All four of them have started at least once in the last three matches, and it looks like Marcos Rojo is closing in on full fitness as well after training with the squad for several weeks. Ashley Young earned a one-match ban as a result of the yellow card he received in the match against Chelsea, but that suspension only applies in the FA Cup and he is therefore available to start against Liverpool. It remains to be seen if experienced defenders Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are available to return from injury this weekend. “You look at their teamsheet or squad list and it’s full of stars. They came to the party and they have a fantastic team. They’ve got people back from injury as well which always helps and they’ve got a strong squad as well,” Robertson said. United’s loss at Anfield in December resulted in manager Jose Mourinho getting the sack and Solskjaer was appointed as United’s

interim boss. They have not lost in the league since, winning eight while drawing once to move up to fourth. “I think it is going to be a real big change (from December),” Wijnaldum told reporters after Liverpool’s 0-0 draw against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Since the new manager came in there is a new flow, they played good games and have won a lot and that is building confidence in the team. “It’s also a home game for them so they will have a lot of confidence as they don’t have the problems they had before. It is going to be a difficult game but I’m looking forward to it.” Meanwhile, the visitors are expected to welcome defender Virgil van Dijk back for the trip to Old Trafford, after he missed Liverpool’s 0-0 Champions League draw against Bayern Munich through suspension. With centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez also missing, Jurgen Klopp was forced to select a pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho at the heart ofdefence on Tuesday night. Yet, Van Dijk’s return could see the latter step into a midfield role. The Brazilian, Fabinho, will likely start alongside two of Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and James Milner in a midfield three. Up front, Liverpool will almost certainly opt for the dynamic trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who, between them, have netted 38 Premier League

goals so far this campaign. Trent Alexander-Arnold returned from injury to play at right-back against Bayern Munich and helped the Merseysiders to keep a clean sheet. Avoiding defeat this weekend would also see Solskjaer claim a Premier League record of his own. It is quite clear the Norwegian coach’s start to life at United has been special, but when you delve into the stats you realise just incredible it has been. Since taking over from Jose Mourinho in December of last year Solskjaer has won 25 points in his nine Premier League games as United caretaker manager. Victory or a draw at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon would see him set a new record points total for a manager in their first 10 games in charge of a Premier League side. Former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink currently holds the record after accumulating 25 points in his opening 10 matches as manager in 2009. The Dutch coach led his Chelsea side to eight wins with only defeat away at Tottenham and a goalless draw at home to Everton denting his own sensational spell as caretaker manager. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur will also hope to close the gap on City and its captain Harry Kane could be back in the starting line-up at Burnley on February 23 after a few weeks out with an ankle injury.


Getafe v Vallecano 12:00 Sevilla v Barcelona 15:15 Alavés v Celta Vigo 17:30 Bilbao v Eibar 19:45 SUNDAY

Leganés v Valencia 11:00 Atlético v Villarreal 15:15 Valladolid v Betis 17:30 Levante v Madrid 19:45 MONDAY

Girona v Sociedad 20:00


Torino v Atalanta 14:00 Frosinone v Roma 19:30 SUNDAY

Sampdoria v Cagliari 11:30 Bologna v Juventus 14:00 Chievo v Genoa 14:00 Sassuolo v SPAL 14:00 Parma v Napoli 17:00 Fiorentina19:30Inter Milan






Chelsea Given Two Transfer-window Ban

Chelsea have been banned from signing players for two transfer windows after being found guilty of breaching rules about signing minors by FIFA. The Premier League club have also been fined more than £460,000, while the FA face a £390,000 sanction. The FA will appeal the fine, citing “concerns” with FIFA’s disciplinary processes. The club were found guilty of 29 incidences of breaching article 19, which relates to the transfer of players aged under 18. FIFA have given the club 90 days to rectify the situation concerning the players signed. Chelsea “categorically refute the findings of the FIFA

Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.” The appeal will be heard by FIFAAppeal Committee, while the club can also appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “The FA has co-operated fully with FIFA’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes. The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will, however, continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case. As this is an ongoing legal process it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Sky Sports News understands the punishments are a result of a three-year FIFA investigation related to the signing of more than a dozen players by Chelsea. According to FIFA, one of the main contentious signings was that of Bertrand Traore in 2013. Chelsea also twice breached regulations relating to thirdparty influence, article 18bis. Chelsea will be able to sell players but not register any new signings. “This ban applies to the club as a whole - with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams - and does not prevent the release of players,” FIFA said in a statement. The transfer of Christian

Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea should not be in danger as the player was registered in FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS) in January, according to Sky Germany. Previous instances of similar infractions involving other clubs have seen the clubs involved appeal against the penalties, delaying the implementation of a registration ban and allowing them to sign players. Chelsea were given a transfer ban in 2009 after there was a complaint about the youth player Gael Kakuta joining illegally two years earlier. Chelsea appealed that and had the ban reduced.

Yobo Backs Morata’s VAR Disallowed Goal SuperSport Nigerian analyst, Joseph Yobo gave his thoughts on some VARinduced occasions in Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Juventus in their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday evening. One of the night’s controversial moments at the Wanda Metropolitano was thrown up in the second half when Chelsea loanee, Alvaro Morata rose highest

behind Giorgio Chiellini to nod in what initially looked to be the opener only for the VAR technology to rule out the goal, having adjudged Morata to have pushed his rival. And the former Nigeria international who teamed up yet again with familiar faces Dwight Yorke and Andy Townsend believes the VAR call was right in that case though it might have little

to do with Morata’s brilliant header. “The magnitude of the push looks irrelevant in this case but I think he (Morata) had his hands a bit on Chiellini’s shoulders even if the referee had missed it, the VAR had got it spot on. That’s a foul, obviously you could see it right there.” He further opined that a call for the VAR in Jose Gimenez’s goal to open the scoring fol-

lowing a goal-mouth scramble would have been incessant and unnecessary. “Perhaps, we are over using the VAR. Sometimes in occasions like that, the centre referee could easily make a decision without calling for the technology”, he said. Two second half goals each from Gimenez and Diego Godin were enough for Diego Simeone’s team to come away victorious from the encounter.

African Footballers Use Black Magic, Says Odemwingie Former Nigerian forward Peter Osaze Odemwingie has said that African players are fond of using juju or black magic to aid their football career. He shared his experience of how he received treatment from a voodoo man after he sustained an injury. “I had a fall in training; I also hurt my shoulder and broke my arm. I was afraid to tell my mom

so they took me to the local juju man. ”They poured hot water to relax their muscles. Somehow they returned the hand to the place, while I yelled, they twisted some small sticks. “There was a rite with a chicken.” I came home, my mother saw the hand: “Broke?” I answer: “Yes.” I was taken to a regular hospital, anesthesia

was done, and they put the plaster on. Odemwingiewhowasknown for his superb skills while playing for the Super Eagles added that mostAfrican players believe in juju treatment (voodoo) than going to see doctors when injured. ”At least 70 per cent of players believe in it. They think that some kind of salve will save

them. This is more suggestion. Brainwashing goes. ”But three years in Nigeria have been helpful to me. They called me to the Big League and there my career developed much faster,” he added. Odemwinge represented Super Eagles in the 2014 FIFAWorld Cup staged in Brazil. He is currently plying his trade with Indonesian club Madura FC.

Crunch La Liga Fixtures to Be Broadcast On DStv, GOtv A bumper weekend awaits fans of the prestigious LaLiga, the top tier of Spanish football, as matches involving league leaders and defending champions, Barcelona; title chasers, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, as well as other encounters will be broadcast live exclusively to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact and GOtv

MAX subscribers. Barcelona, encouraged by their hard-earned 1-0 victory over Valladolid last weekend, travel to the south of Spain to confront Sevilla who, at a stage this season, topped the table. Sevilla’s title aspirations have since floundered and they currently lie fourth. They slumped to a 3-0 defeat

in the hands of relegation threatened Villareal last weekend and will be occupied by the thought how to shut out an in-form Lionel Messi from adding to his 22 goals. The match will be live at 4.15pm on Saturday on SuperSport 7 and SuperSport Select 4. Second-placed Atletico Madrid will similarly take encour-

agement from their 1-0 win away at Rayo Vallecano. Star forward, Antoine Griezmann will hope to continue his goalscoring form while manager Diego Simeone will be hoping for a win as the perfect gift to celebrate his contract extension with the club. But they are up against a Villareal team, who helped their cause for survival in the league with a

Oshoala, Oparanozie to Star for Falcons in Cyprus Cup Barcelona Femeni of Spain attacker, Asisat Oshoala and Guingamp of France striker, Desire Oparanozie are both back in Nigeria’s female national team, Super Falcons for the trip to Cyprus for another build-up competition towards the 2019 FIFA Women’s Worlds Cup. Oshoala and Oparanozie alongside Ngozi Ebere missed the Falcons’ trip to China for a similar contest last month, but gathered that they will be part of the Falcons’ squad that will depart Nigeria through Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Sunday. They will be joined by a former junior international, Uchenna Kanu, who is now a student in the United States, with ex-U-20 team, Falconets’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie also listed along with Tochukwu Oluehi. Defenders for the trip include Onome Ebi, Osinachi Ohale, Faith Michael and Glory Ogbonna, along with midfielders Rita Chikwelu, Ngozi Okobi, Amarachi Okoronkwo and Halimatu Ayinde as well as forwards Ini-Abasi Umotong, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Rasheedat Ajibade and Francisca Ordega. The players and officials are scheduled to arrive in Abuja on Friday, with the team getting training sessions in the evening of same day, as well as on Saturday and Sunday morning before departure by Egypt Air. The delegation will sleep in Cairo on Sunday and arrive in Larnaca on Monday and settle down for the commencement of action two days later in a competition that is billed to have three groups. The Falcons are billed to make the trip to take part in the annual Cyprus Women’s Cup tournament which begins on Wednesday, 27th February in Larnaca, with two other African teams also expected to participate. Falcons’ coach, Thomas Dennerby has already selected 24 players for the contest which will also have South Africa, Mexico, Finland, Cameroon, Belgium, Slovakia, Korea DPR, Czech Republic, Thailand, Hungary, Italy and Austria in attendance. The Falcons’ first match is against Austria, on the evening of February 27, before further games against Slovakia March 1 and Belgium March 4, in the group phase. Dennerby will hope that, unlike when they could only finish third in China, behind the host and South Korea, but ahead of Romania, that his side will make it to the Cyprus Cup final on March 6.

Palace Captain Craves to be Part of F’ Eagles World Cup Team Crystal Palace U-18 captain Martin Onoabhagbe has made himself available for selection to the Flying Eagles team ahead of this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland. A central defender by trade, Onoabhagbe has been in exceptional form for Palace U-18s side throughout this season and was rewarded with his first start for the U-23s against Colchester United in November 2018. The 2000-born defender trained with Team Nigeria UK in 2015 and 2016 but was not selected because he was then not technically sound and was asked to go and do more work. He later got scouted by Crystal Palace before joining the club in 2017 and being close to cementing a spot in the U-23 side will highlight the progress he has made in the last three years. Onoabhagbe’s minders have described him as a mature, strong and intelligent defender with a massive future ahead of him and with good leadership qualities. Last season, the 18-year-old appeared in 22 matches for Palace’s U-18 team.




Francis Uzoho

When Debut Turned Sour After unsuccessful attempts to pin down a regular shirt with Deportivo La Coruna, Francis Uzoho moved to Spanish second-tier club, Elche, but his desire was still not met as he could only manage 11 appearances for them in all competitions. With the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations fast approaching, the 20-year-old felt the need to move to a club where he would have more playing time and his searchlight turned to Cyprus. However, it was not a dream start as his debut may cost his side a nine-point deduction


n his search for top-flight football ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations billed for Egypt, Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho joined Cypriot giants Anorthosis Famagusta on a six-month loan from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna. “I’ve decided to take this big step in Cyprus and I need it because of what lies ahead. This is an important decision for my career and I am very happy that all parties supported this,” Uzoho has said. However, it was not the kind of start the Super Eagles safe hand would have hoped for as he was handed a one-match suspension and a fine of €1,000 euros in his debut game, which means he is set to miss the final match of the Cypriot regular season having already sat out two matches since his disputed debut. Uzoho featured for his present side Anorthosis Famagusta in their 1-0 win over Apollon Limassol earlier this month, but the country’s FA have found the Nigerian international and his club guilty and both have been sanctioned by the club. He was handed $1,000 while the club have been docked six points and the result of the match overturned with reports claiming that the Cyprus Sports Organisation had initially declared Uzoho’s health certificate void as of February 9. However, in a follow-up decision on Monday annulled it altogether saying that it considered the document “as never having been issued.” Uzoho was accused of forging documents to obtain his health certificate, saying it was issued even before the goalkeeper arrived in Cyprus. Apollon Limassol got a three-point boost after the FA overturned the result in their favour while docking Anorthosis six points. The decision will not go into effect for eight days but means that Apollon could move to first place in the Cyprus First Division with a win or draw against APOEL which leads the table on Sunday. Anorthosis Famagusta have confirmed they will appeal against a nine-point deduction imposed by the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) for fielding the Nigerian goalkeeper. The CFA punished Anorthosis after it upheld an appeal by Apollon Limassol, who had disputed that debutant Uzoho played with an invalid health certificate in a game between the two sides.

But in a statement on the Anorthosis website, the club said it will ask the CFA to postpone its final regular league game while an appeal is lodged. The overall deduction of nine points has seen the club drop into the bottom half of the 12-team league, which sees six clubs play each other twice more to decide who is relegated. That leaves the top six clubs to complete their seasons against each other to decide the Cypriot champions. Uzoho and his representatives have declined to comment on the situation. Before now, lack of regular football for his first-choice goalkeeper has been a great concern for Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr ahead of the tournament in Egypt. Capped 12 times by Nigeria, he played all three matches as the Super Eagles exited the 2018 World Cup in the group stage. In October 2017, Uzoho became the youngest foreign goalkeeper to ever play in La Liga and marked a memorable Deportivo La Coruna debut with a clean sheet. Uzoho was part of the victorious Nigerian squad at the 2013 U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, albeit without playing a single minute at the tournament.

He only arrived at Deportivo from Qatar’s Aspire Academy in January 2017. Ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria and the international friendly game against Argentina, Uzoho had been handed his first Nigerian callup after making his La Liga debut in La Coruna’s 0-0 draw with Eibar on October 16. The then18-year-old, who arrived at the club from Qatar’s Aspire Academy in January, produced four important saves to help Deportivo claim a point. “A day that will never disappear from my memory – my debut – thanks all for the support,” he said. At 18 years 11 months and 17 days, he became the second youngest player in La Liga this season behind Real Madrid’s Moroccan defender, Achraf Hakimi – who made his debut at 18 years 10 months 27 days earlier this month. After regular first-choice goalkeeper Ruben had suffered a finger injury, Deportivo boss Pepe Mel opted for the Nigerian ahead of the experienced Costel Pantilimon and was impressed by the youngster. “A coach has to act according to the

things he sees in training. He is only 18 and he can barely speak Spanish but I know what he can offer this club,” Mel said. Uzoho was born on October 28, 1998. He joined Qatari Aspire Academy in 2013 when he was 14. Uzoho started his footballing career as an attacker but was converted to a goalkeeper after being deemed “too slow” at the age of 12. In 2016, after impressing on a tournament in Barcelona, he joined Deportivo de La Coruna’s Juvenilsquad. Age rules meant that Uzoho could only become available to sign a contract with Dépor in January 2017; shortly after signing his contract, he started to train with the first team and was promoted to the reserves ahead of the new season. He made his senior debut on September 10 in a 3–0 Segunda Division B home win against Real Madrid Castilla. Uzoho made his first team and La Liga debut on 15 October in a 0–0 away draw against Eibar. At the age of 18 years and 352 days, he became the youngest ever foreign goalkeeper to debut in La Liga and the second-youngest player to appear in the league behind Real Madrid’s Achraf Hakimi.




Media Room Hub Partners BBC, Pulse News on Political Debate



edia Room Hub in partnership with BBC and Pulse News hosted the House of Representatives Eti-Osa Constituency debate among the five candidates on Monday February 4 at the Civic Centre Victoria Island, Lagos. The epoch-making debate was the first of its kind organised for candidates representing the interest of the people who craved to exercise their franchise on who will represent them at the federal level. According to the CEO Media Room Hub, Azuka Ogujiuba, the political debate was aimed at providing the electorates the needed information to scale the suitability of the candidates. “The legislature is the closest government to the people. It is amazing how we have not given enough attention to it. They make laws that affect every arm of government”. Among the four candidates were Olubankole Wellington also known as Banky W of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP); Ibrahim Obanikoro of APC; Ferdinand Adimefe of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Omotesho Tony Bakare (PDP) and Tessy Owolabi of Social Democratic Party (SDP). With this platform, the candidates stand the chance of better convincing the electorates of their manifestoes. Olubankole Wellington is aged 37. He is a musician, actor and politician under the auspices of the MDP founded in 2017, the same year he declared interest. The popular R&B artiste was born in the United States to Nigerian parents. He had his primary and secondary education in Nigeria and tertiary education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York on a scholarship. Running under the canopy of the ruling party APC, Ibrahim Obanikoro is 35 years old. He is the son of a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro. Obanikoro contested chairmanship position of Ikoyi/Obalende Local Council Development Area on two occasions under the PDP and failed before he ported to APC where he won the ticket. Ferdinand, the 35 years old candidate of ANN is a writer and entrepreneur. He is an alumnus of University of Port-Harcourt and Pan-Atlantic University where he studied Human Anatomy and Masters respectively. Adimefe was a host of the popular TV show, Rubbin' Minds on Channels TV and resident guest on Smooth 96.1 FM's Freshly Pressed. He is also the Executive Officer of Imaginarium Creative Global. Omotesho is 50 years old. He is representing the PDP. He had both his primary and secondary school education at the Nigerian Model Schools, Idi-Oro Lagos. He is a graduate of Business Administration from Federal Polytechnic, llaro, Ogun State. He was in the financial sector at Pacific Merchant Bank and Pinnacle Merchant Bank. He also worked with other institutions such as True Foods Nigeria Limited, MICON Engineering and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) among others.

L-R: Ferdy Adimefe of ANN; Ibrahim Jide Obanikoro of APC; organiser of the debate, Azuka Ogujiuba; Tony Bakare of PDP; Tessy Owolabi of SDP; and Banky Wellington of MDP, after a debate by the candidates... recently

L-R: Joy Chico-Ejiro; Olakunle Oladunni Churchill; and Helen Omorodion Inegbeniki

Ozinna Anumudu

L-R; Cornelia O’Oduaya; and Latasha Ngwube

Tosin Ajibade

Eunice Efole; Jide Obanikoro; Fati Obanikoro; and Gladys Lasila

L-R: Treasure Durodola; Ayo Animashaun; Micheal Effiong; and Gbenga Adeyinka

Eni Balogun

Former Big Brother Housemates Leo Dasilva; Omololu Shomuyiwa; Femi and Tobi Bakare




Ayodeji Researches on Millenials and The Digital Marketplace


obberman has released a white paper research titled, ‘Millennials and the Digital Workplace: How to Keep Millennials Productive in the Workplace,’ to tackle the risk of losing younger employees. In the course of the research, Jobberman surveyed 5,380 actively employed Nigerian millennials employees, using Pan-African technology company, Andela as a case-study. The CEO of Jobberman, Ayodeji Adewunmi said: “We decided to used Andela as our case study since their brand embodies factors we have identified as crucial to ensuring productivity among millennial cohort.” He added: “To better understand millennials and productivity in

the workplace, we surveyed some Nigerian candidates, and their responses are specifically reflected in our survey results section. We interviewed key management staff and numerous developers from Andela, gathered data from our internal database at Jobberman and from external research.” Adewunmi, however, highlighted three important factors that employers must adapt to, which include work culture, sense of pride, diversity and inclusion. Additionally, he emphasised that a work environment driven by authentic values and equipped with the right tools, followed by learning and development opportunities serves as a great competitive advantage, not only to millennials but also their employers.

L-R: Ayodeji Adewunmi; and Yemisi Lanre Idowu

Battle Angel Priemeres at IMAX Cinemas


lita is a 2019 American cyberpunk action film based on Yukito Kishiro's manga series Gunnm, also known as Battle Angel Alita. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film is written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis produced by Cameron and Jon Landau. Rosa Salazar stars as the titular Alita, a cyborg who sets out to learn about her past after she awakens in a new body with no memory of who she is. Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson also star in supporting roles. Originally announced in 2003, production on the release of the film was repeatedly delayed due to Cameron's work on Avatar and its sequels. After years of languishing in development hell,

Rodriguez was announced as the film's director in April 2016, with Salazar being cast the following month. Principal photography began in Austin, Texas, in October 2016, lasting through February 2017. Alita premiered at the IMAX Cinema, Lekki on February 13th, 2019, and was released in the United States on February 14, 2019 by 20th Century Fox in Real D 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D formats. The film has grossed over $140 million worldwide, making it the sixth highestgrossing film of 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for its visual effects, action sequences and Salazar's performance while criticism was directed at the "muddled" screenplay and the set-up of sequels. [8] In contrast, the film received a more positive response from audiences.


'Our Perfect Wedding' Set to Premiere on Africa Magic Showcase


ultiChoice Nigeria, one of Africa's leading video entertainment company, has announced that a new reality television series titled, ‘Our Perfect Wedding’ will premiere on Africa Magic Showcase from February 24. The company, which prides itself as the frontline entertainment provider in Africa is bringing the show which has established a presence in other African countries to Nigeria. The announcement was made recently by the company’s Chief Customer OfficerMartin Mabutho. Our Perfect Wedding is the first of its kind in Nigeria and follows the life of intending couples

as they plan their ‘perfect wedding’. Viewers will be entertained and enlightened by all the drama as the couples go through tears, laughter, anxiety, love, and decisions that come with pulling off the perfect wedding. Vanessa Emikhe-Williams aka Vandora, ex-housemate of Big Brother Naija 2018 has been tipped to host the show. According to her, "This is an exciting opportunity for me, and viewers can expect to be completely entertained by this show and they should expect nothing less than the best from the leading home of entertainment in Africa”. The reality show, which has been hugely successful in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, will make its debut in Nigeria. Mabutho added: "The

show has been successful in other African markets like South Africa and Kenya, we're elated to bring it to Nigeria. Viewers will experience the magic and celebration of love. Of all the awesome wedding shows we’ve had on DStv, this without a doubt holds a lot of drama, fun and excitement for the viewers and we are delighted to bring this truly interesting show to Nigeria, I think that viewers will enjoy every minute of Our Perfect Wedding”. Our Perfect Wedding first started in South Africa in 2011 and is considered to be one of the most popular reality TV shows in the country. Viewers can watch the first episode on Sunday, February 24 on Africa Magic Showcase at 6:00 P.M.



AUTO Kia Motors Nigeria Appoints Kamlik Motors as its Dealer in Kaduna


Jaguar F-TYPE

Jaguar Land Rover, Coscharis Offer Special Maintenance Rebate Stories by Bennett Oghifo


aguar Land Rover in partnership with their representative in Nigeria, Coscharis Motors Plc has commenced a complimentary genuine parts voucher to the value of N70,000 and 15% rebate on labour to all customers whose vehicles are four years or older, and have not visited the dealership in the past 15 months. According to the Executive Director, Aftersales, Coscharis Motors, Cosmas Maduka Jnr., “this offer is to further delight our customers and an expression of our

commitment to ensuring that our customers generally enjoy fantastic opportunity for our Jaguar LandRover brands through ease ownership”. This special offer runs till March 31, 2019 or the first ninety (90) customers to visit any of our dealership outlets, whichever comes first. The objective is to provide our valued customers with additional aftersales incentives to keep the premiumness of their vehicles intact after purchase over the years. According to the Jaguar Land Rover Marketing Manager for Coscharis, Cletus

Aregbeshola, the objective is to fashion a support service for all owners who cannot benefit from the 5 Years’ Service offer given the relative age of their Jaguar Land Rover vehicles. Coscharis Motors is a Nigerian automotive industry leader with sales and service dealership networks across the six geopolitical zones in the country and has the exclusive franchise for Jaguar Land Rover brands in Nigeria for over 17 years. Coscharis Motors ensures that only certified technicians maintain your Jaguar LandRover and only genuine parts fitted to your car.

ia Motors Nigeria has announced a new dealership partnership with Kamlik Motors Limited to facilitate bringing KIA closer to the people in Kaduna and its environs. Kia said it intends to further expand its market reach and ease of access to teeming customers in the country, and that “in addition to bringing to the foray, vehicles that deliver best-in-class features and affordable price for value, the vision of KIA is to bring its world-class facilities closer to its customers and offer a model range of vehicles that meet their dreams and aspirations. “The new appointment of Kamlik Motors in Kaduna is aimed at keeping pace with consumers’ evolving wants and needs in order to remain competitive. The shifting consumer interests and the need to meet their expectations with exceptional service delivery has propelled Kia Motors Nigeria to extend its reach by signing a new dealership agreementwithKamlikMotorsLimitedtocontinue to offer cutting edge automobile technology in the country.” Speaking on the partnership, Mr. Olu Tikolo, Vice President, Kia Motors Nigeria, said, “This joint venture with Kamlik Motors is an important step in our expansion plans for the Nigerian market. Finding the right partners to work with in satisfying our customers is very vital to us. We are delighted to work with the experienced team of Kamlik Motors and are confident that our customers and automobile enthusiasts will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this relationship.” Commenting on the partnership, Alh. Mohammed Ndakogi, Chairman/CEO, Kamlik Motors Limited, said, “our relationship with Kia Motors Nigeria is in furtherance of our corporate mission to provide customers with quality vehicles and services. We constantly seek ways to exceed our customers’ expectations and we believe this partnership will give us the opportunity to do just that.” He further quoted that the new Kia franchisee will offer a full range of Kia vehicles, from the Kia Rio to the Kia Quoris, wherein the customers will have ease of access and buy their preferred Kia cars. It is indeed a significant step forward for KIAwho has seen substantial growth over the years, making KIAvehicles available to a wider marketplace. The new dealership with Kamlik Motors will facilitate Kia Motors Nigeria in meeting the objective of providing world class service that is second to none in the Nigerian auto industry.

Nissan-driven ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Wrap-up Nigeria


he ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy otherwise known as #CWCTrophyTour, driven by Nissan, last week, concluded a two-day tour of Abuja and Lagos. A statement by Stallion NMN said the trophy which arrived in Nigeria on 11th through 13th February 2019 was in furtherance of an extensive expedition around the globe, which began Monday 27 August 2018 at the International Cricket Council Headquarters in Dubai. Minister of Youth, Sports and Development Solomon Dalung received the trophy on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari at a formal presentation to the diplomatic community and cricket enthusiasts at the Presidential Villa Abuja. Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode however received the trophy at the State House Alausa-Ikeja Lagos before it was displayed at an enlivening scenery at the Cricket Oval of the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) Lagos, where fans took their turns to have their photographs taken against the backdrop of the coveted trophy and also had a feel of what it is like to be at the Cricket World Cup in a unique in-stadia experience. Nissan recently signed an eight-year deal with the ICC, running through 2023 as exclusive sponsor of the game, which also includes the ICC Champions Trophy and ICC World Twenty-20 as well as the Under 19 and Women’s Cricket and qualifying events. President Nigeria Cricket Federation

L-R: President Nigeria Cricket Federation, Professor Yahaya Ukwenya; Chairman Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh; Chairman Lagos State Cricket Association, Kofi Sagoe; and Head, Sales & Marketing, Stallion NMN, Amit Sharma, at the Cricket Oval, Tafawa Balewa Square Onikan Lagos… recently

Professor Yahaya Ukwenya who spoke at the presentation of the trophy in Abuja said: the #CWCTrophyTour driven by Nissan was a conscious plan to raise the profile of the game by pushing its fan base well beyond a billion supporters it already has around the world. “It is a rare opportunity to get up close to the trophy and engage both new and existing fans while canvassing support for the game’s evolution in Nigeria,” Mr.

Ukwenya remarked. He thanked Stallion NMN, the local Nissan Sales and Marketing Company for partnering with the Nigeria Cricket Federation “on this ambitious journey that will build excitement around the country as we head towards the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.” The Nigeria Cricket Federation also received a unit each of select Nissan vehicles including the premium Patrol SUV, NV350

bus and B-Segment SUV Kicks to help the #CWCTrophyTour visit iconic and unusual Nigerian locations. Handing over the keys to the Chairman Local Organising Committee Kofi Sagoe, Stallion NMN Head of Sales and Marketing Amit Sharma said: “The Nissan slogan ‘Innovation that Excites’ is what drives everything we do at Nissan, and we are excited to be part of the global cricketing family and to support the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy.” Also adding that it was a rare opportunity to drive the #CWCTrophyTour, Mr. Sharma said: “Our vehicles will assure more people the joy and driving pleasure of owning a Nissan vehicle.” He said fans will be able to watch the cup’s journey in real time on the Trophy Tour Section of The #CWCTrophyTour is travelling not only to countries taking part in the tournament, but going beyond traditional cricket heartlands to connect with fans in a further 11 countries where cricket is growing including Nigeria, Nepal, USA and Germany. From the United Arab Emirates, the Trophy has visited Oman, the USA, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Rwanda before arriving Nigeria. The trophy left Nigeria 14 February 2019 for France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany before finally arriving in England and Wales on 19 February, 2019 for a 100-day domestic Trophy Tour, having crisscrossed five continents, 21 countries and more than 60 cities around the world.




Weststar to Introduce new A-Class Sedan, Attracts Younger Generation with MBUX Stories by Bennett Oghifo


eststar Associates Limited, authorised General Distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria has said it would introduce the A-Class Sedan by May, this year. According to a statement by the company, the compact car family of Mercedes-Benz has continued its growth in the Nigerian market with the A-Class Sedan set for its arrival. “This follows the successful introduction of the new A-Class last year.” Managing Director, Weststar Associates Limited, Mr. Mirko Plath, has described the growing compact car family as a step in the right direction from Mercedes-Benz, the statement said. He also pointed out that the A-Class Sedan would serve more customer groups and that owning a Mercedes-Benz would be more attractive for the younger generation with the emotive and technological appeal of the MBUX, the modern design of the A-Class Sedan, the latest driving assistance systems and a very competitive entry price. Mercedes-Benz, according to the statement, continues to expand its compact car portfolio with the introduction of the A-Class Sedan, following suit with the likes of the A-Class, CLA &

GLA. Mercedes-Benz’s compact car segment is already fast growing with the acquisition of new customer groups from different regions around the world. “This has aided Weststar’s resolve to attract different customer groups in Nigeria who look to enjoy the best driving experience regardless of their automobile preferences. Due to an increase in demand, the A-Class is for the first time also offered as a sedan. This follows up the successful launch of the new A-Class last year that pushed boundaries in major markets. The A-Class Sedan comes with a modern and superior sporty design, an unrivalled experience with MBUX, Intelligent Drive functions from the S-Class, a completely redefined interior design and optional equipment and appointments like keyless-go with hands-free access. The exterior of the A-Class Sedan exudes a modern and a superior sporty design. The front end takes a very progressive look with the low, elongated bonnet, the slimline headlamps with chrome element, the torch-like daytime driving lights - plus the single-louvre diamond radiator grille with optional chrome pins, and the central star. The side mirrors sit on the beltline, while the 16 to 19-inch wheels and the pronounced wheel arches give the A-Class Sedan a sporty stance on the road. On the rear end there are two-part tail lamps that emphasizes width, the rear reflectors

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan interior have been relocated to the modular two-part rear bumper and depending on the selected equipment, this rear bumper is available with a black diffuser or with chrome trim strip and chrome

tailpipe tips. The Multibeam LED headlamps are another highlight, they allow extremely quick and precise, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic situation.

Advanced Safety, Impressive new Features for Next-Generation Hiace


or the first time in 15 years, Toyota has revealed a new-generation HiAce van and bus range with advanced safety features, powerful new engines, and enhanced ride comfort and specification. A statement by the automaker said a shift to a semi-bonneted design has enabled the development team to implement significant changes with a stiffer frame, stronger straight-line performance, greater stability and manoeuvrability and more pliant suspensions. Arriving in Australia mid-year, the all-new HiAce van will be available with two-seat vans in long (LWB) and super-long wheelbase (SLWB) configurations, five-seat LWB crew vans and 12-seat SLWB Commuter buses. Toyota Australia vice president sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the all-new HiAce will meet the safety, comfort and reliability needs of owner-drivers, private drivers, passengers, fleet and corporate users. “All-new HiAce is the total solution for transporting cargo, tourists, workers and families,” Mr Hanley said. “Beyond expanding the vehicle’s core mission as capable, durable and reliable transport, it has now stepped up to deliver the comfort and safety that today’s motorists demand for private use,” he said. “Importantly, we anticipate even better

whole-of-life costs with excellent reliability and resale value along with minimal downtime and affordable maintenance. The semi-bonnet design makes it significantly easier and quicker to replace parts such as the oil and air filters, battery, and coolant. “In addition to being highly capable right off the showroom floor, all-new HiAce has been designed to offer immense flexibility through conversions and customisation to meet varied business and personal needs.” The sixth-generation HiAce range will be offered with two new engines - a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel or a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol, both available with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Excellent cargo capacity - a hallmark of every HiAce - has been maintained at a maximum of 6.2 (LWB) and 9.3 cubic metres (SLWB) due to longer wheelbases and clever packaging that increases internal width by 215mm and height by 5mm without altering overall exterior width. The SLWB two-seat van is capable of accommodating Australian standard pallets (1165mm x 1165mm) through its wider sliding side doors. All-new HiAce is expected to achieve the maximum 5-star safety rating due to its highly rigid structure and advanced safety technologies, including a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian and cyclist detection.

A new-generation HiAce van

A reversing camera and up to nine airbags are complemented by an optional digital rearview mirror that provides a wide field of view unobstructed by headrests, occupants or cargo. The bottom edge of the front door is lower and comes with a wider step for easier access. Larger front-door glass and a lower belt line

Hazardous Driving Habits To Avoid During Election


ast week I took you through some of the risk involved in driving at night.I also narrated the recent experience and trauma of my friend and colleague whose details I concealed .If you missed last weeks edition and you are one of those who take delight in travelling late,I urge you to please get a copy and peruse.As we prepare for another round of elections across the country,I have chosen to share with you some of the risk behaviour we all indulge in with a plea to shun such behaviour. Before I go into the details of these driving hazards or risk behaviour,please allow me share another experience a friend of my mine went through. My friend whose details I have again chosen to conceal rounded up a lecture at about 5pm and insisted he must travel from Jos,the Plateau state capital to Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. All my plea and guidance on the dangers of such a trip fell on deaf ears.I took my time and listed all the possible scenarios that makes his choice foolish and risky and also unnecessary. In my usual character,I cited the tragedies that resulted from such a choice hoping that my sweet talk will make any difference.When I could not convince him further,I gave up and let him proceed on the journey,praying that GOD in His divine mercies will watch over him and preserve him from any harm or danger.At about 7pm,I called him to know where he was and was told he just passed Akwanga.He also told me that since Abuja was just two hours away,that

SAFE DRIVING with Jonas Agwu amnipr, mcipr,mprsa,arpa (Corps Commander) Corps Public Education Officer Federal Road Safety Corps. + 2348033026491 he will proceed to Abuja same night.Again,I pleaded with him to pass the night in Akwanga and proceed the next day.Again,plea fell on deaf ears as he insisted that he must make Abuja that night.I wished him well and again prayed for journey mercies.After an hour of waiting I dozed off and by the next morning I called him and .I was not surprised when he began his lamentation. He apologised for not listening to my counsel. Out of curiosity,I probed further only for him to tell me that on approaching Keffi,his vehicle developed a mechanical fault which kept him there till midnight until he was saved by his friend who brought his Thundra to tow his vehicle. through because of Today marks the second week in July, 2013.As we sail through the second to a mechanic workshop and also assisted in driving him to Abuja. While my friend is celebrating God’s mercies, there are uncountable numbers who undertake such a journey and end up with worse tales . Most of these people died as a result

of the mistake of one driver. The campaign focus of the Federal Road Safety yearly aims at dissuading motorists from embarking on what we term dangerous or risky journeys such as night trips which was my focus last week. Todays piece is like a follow up against the backdrop of the numerous trips that Nigerians will embark on the exercise their franchise.Saturday election should put smiles on the faces of families and not bring pain or trauma.I know we have recorded some road traffic crashes since 2019 kicked off. Some of these crashes have resulted in deaths and serious injuries sustained as a result.My plea to all travellers is to reflect on these driving risk behaviour and avoid becoming victims Similarly, week 18 posted 32 deaths and 126 injured persons in 55 reported road crashes while week 19(during the special patrol) accounted for down ward trend of 18 deaths and 100 injured persons in 42 road crashes. Let me also refresh our minds on traffic infractions such as covering of number plates with plastic, use of Peace Ambassador number plates, use of plastic number plates and the use of broken and defaced number plates which negates the provisions of the National Road Traffic Regulations 2004. Road vices such as excessive speeding, overloading, dangerous driving, driver’s license violation, non-use of the passenger manifest by some fleet operators and light sign violations should be avoided. Traffic hazards associated with the above in addition to the use of worn-out

improve visibility. Towing capacity has been expanded to a maximum 1,900kg on key variants, an improvement of up to 500kg. Newly developed MacPherson struts at the front provide excellent handling and stability, as well as ride comfort. tyres, the new number plate, use of phone while driving and driver’s license. As we travel,please ponder on your driving habits and share with me this material surfed from Cintas Nancy Peterson on the internet on the seven most hazardous driving offenders and their bad driving habits. The Beauty Queen: some drivers have been known to apply makeup (e.g, lipstick, mascara) while driving. But, it is very easy to lose control of a vehicle if both hands are not on the steering wheel and eyes are not on the road. Drivers should put away all makeup products and keep out of reach while driving. The Hungry Commuter: Eating while driving is another habit that results in driving without both hands on the wheel. Drivers who are eating cannot react as quickly to sharp curves or properly handle lane changes because their hands are full. Drivers should take extra time to eat before they leave or plan a roadside stop to eat. The Tech-Obsessed: Even with state laws that prohibit sending text messages or talking on cell phones while driving, people still use their technology gadgets while driving, Cintas says, “CDC reports that 25% of drivers in the U.S admitted to regularly or fairly often talking on cell phones while behind the wheel”. Drivers should refrain from this, as it slows down reflexes and takes attention off the road. The Sleepy Traveller: Commuters sometimes refuse to pull over when they feel tired. An AAA Foundation poll found nearly a third of people admitted to driving when they had trouble keeping their eyes open. Sleepy drivers should find a rest stop and pull over if they feel unable to keep their eyes open and concentrate.







MARKET PLACE with Omolabake Fasogbon... 08155131874

A cross section of Batch-5 of the Shell Nigeria/PETAN Interns at their induction ceremony in Port Harcourt... recently

L-R: President, Nigerian Universities Accounting Students’ Association, NUASA, Obafemi Awolowo University chapter, Isaac Akerele being presented with textbooks on Forensic Accounting and Leadership by Global President, Association of Forensic Accounting Researchers, AFAR, Dr. Godwin Oyedokun, Vice President, NUASA,Olaitan Taiwo and NUASA Secretary, Yinusa Olasunkanmi during the association’s courtesy visit to AFAR’S office in Ikeja, Lagos ... recently

Naviforce Enters Nigeria with Affordable Wristwatches He said: “A very significant ratio of the wristwatch market in Nigeria is awash with counterfeits, more popularly known as replica watches. Majority of the time, these replica watches are sold to unsuspecting customers as genuine, and at exorbitant prices. “On another hand is a segment of the market peddling downright low-quality wristwatches with very short life span, as a result of the substandard materials used in their production. “The Naviforce brand name has overtime, become synonymous to fashion and style, and its entry to Nigeria was borne out of a need to provide the same fashionable, premium lifestyle at afford-

Foremost Wristwatch brand, Naviforce, has announced its presence in the Nigerian market to cater for consumers who desire quality but affordable wristwatches. The company stated that its expansion move to Africa’s most populous nation was prompted by the need to tackle the rising spread of counterfeit wristwatches that have flooded the market as well as tap into growth opportunities in Nigeria. Speaking during the launch, Naviforce Nigeria CEO, Olawale Shonibare reiterated the brand’s commitment to delivering genuine wristwatches for majority of Nigerians seeking an affordable alternative to highly priced timepieces.

able price points to Nigerians”. He added: “We strongly believe that one doesn’t have to break the bank to look fabulous, and same goes for owning a beautiful wristwatch. Our wristwatches cater for both male and female customers, with beautiful designs that are difficult to go unnoticed.” Shonibare informed further that the company has created an online platform to ensure exclusive sale of all its products at a go. Naviforce wristwatches range from mechanical to automatic, chronograph, sports, digital, divers and military style timepieces to cater for all categories of consumers.

Arik to Stimulate Voters’ Interest in Promo Launch In order to boost participant level in the nation’s general elections that kicked off today, Arik Air, has released a new product, ‘N16, 000 Fly to Vote promotion’ to encourage Nigerians to travel to their respective wards to cast their votes in the rescheduled elections. This gesture by Arik, followed the election postponement last week, where by a lot of Nigerians had spent heavily in preparing for the exercise, especially those who travelled to their home town to exercise their constitutional right.

In a statement by the company, the promo package covers for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, as well as the gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections holding across the country on February 23 and March 9, 2019 respectively. It stated that the N16,000 promo ticket is a one-way ticket to any domestic destination on Arik Air’s network. Customers are required to present a valid Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), at the point of purchase and at check in to be eligible to fly.

“The promo ticket is available for sale from Monday, February 18, 2019 to Tuesday, March 11, 2019 for travel between Thursday, February 21 and Tuesday, February 26, 2019 as well as between Thursday, March 7, 2019 and Tuesday, March 12, 2019”, the statement added. Speaking more on the initiative, Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said: “We have put this promotional fare in place to ameliorate the effect of the postponement on the traveling public and encourage voter participation.”

Stine Industries Look Forward to a Year of Business Growth Local production of rice by Stine Industries, a major miller has said it expects robust business activities in the months ahead. The company has for years been the major entity involved with rice milling in Anambra state. As the company begins a new year, its chief executive has emphasised that despite prospective challenges, it would continue to soar higher toward mid-year and end-year periods. Akai Egwuonwu, the Managing Director of Stine Industries Ltd recently revealed that his company had for years pioneered the production of rice, assisting in making Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, saying the company was ready to do more. “Stine will have more opportunities this year for pushing its expansion programmes to increase capacity to meet local demand,” said Egwuonwu. He said he believes that the firm has the capacity to assist the nation in realising its dream of making agriculture the mainstay of the economy. “The impact is at this moment been a diverse one. Stine Industries clients consistently place a high degree of confidence and trust in the company, and the company, in turn, invests heavily to continually justify that confidence. “For many years, we have established a sound reputation, by consistently adding value into the operations of our diverse and teeming customers,” Egwuonwu continues, adding that the “the company is motivated by a passion for empowering the people in the state and beyond, introducing new, cutting-edge technologies and knowledge in order to brace up for a better future. “Stine is one of the leading Agriculture companies in Anambra state; with its broad spectrum of partners and distinguished partnered brands in the agriculture sector.” Stine Industries Limited, located in Amichi, Nnewi South, Anambra, is mainly into Agricultural Products, Agriculture & Farms, FMCG and offering Noodles, Rice, Rice Processing and Packaging.

Dominos Woos Consumers Indomie Excites Fans in New Campaign with ‘Smallie’ Pizza Domino’s Pizza has added a new product, ‘Smallie Pizza’, to its range of varieties in the market, in order to make its product accessible and enjoyable to all classes of individual. This new pizza, priced at N550, comes in six new flavours such as Fiery Suya , Hot Chic , Smallie Pepp, Sweet Marghie, Smallie Beef and Smallie sausage. Described as the new six-inch revolution in town, the latest addition, which comes in a mini box is another way that the pizza delivery company is breaking new grounds in this environment to increase its market share and brand attractions. Speaking on the new product, Marketing Manager, Domino’s Pizza Nigeria, Ilyas Kazeem stated that ‘Smallie Pizza’ has come to revolutionise the industry to

attend to all classes of consumer. “We have simply done it again with our new Smallie Pizza, made with the freshest dough, local ingredients and high quality expertise. What we want to achieve with the latest is for every Nigerian to be able to afford quality pizza, whenever they feel like it. We want to be as close enough as possible to our consumers. “The Smallie Pizza is packed with mighty taste and value second to none. It is the perfect yummy and snack able-sized pizza, great for breakfast, school and work lunches, snack ideas for your favourite parties, ideal for light eaters or people who just want to try something different. These small but mighty pizzas are also best for when you don’t want to share. It was time for a mini pizza delight and we are always a step ahead,” he explained.

Dufil Prima Foods, makers of Indomie Instant Noodles, has launched a cooking competition, tagged, ‘#MyIndomieMyRecipe’, with the motive to deepen conversation surrounding cooking among young couples. According to the company, the competition was thought of in order to contribute to the growing narratives on the role of couples in the kitchen and who should cook when both married mates return from work tired. Head of Marketing, Dufil Prima Foods, Mr. Manpreet Singh, stated that the ongoing competition would see several participants rewarded with Indomie products, while the grand

winner would enjoy a dinner date with hip hop recording artist, Ice Prince and actress Sharon Ooja including a N100,000 cash prize. He hinted further that the competition would produce weekly and daily winners. To participate, the Marketing Manager said: “Participants are expected to prepare their favourite meal from #MyIndomieMyRecipe playlist on the Indomielivetv channel on YouTube, after which they will take a picture of the meal with their Indomie pack by the side and post the picture on social media with the hashtag #MyIndomieMyRecipe #MyIndomieMyStyle. “Finally, each participant

is expected to get as many likes on the post. Selected entries will be reposted on the Indomie page, with winners getting away with Indomie prizes.” He reiterated that the competition was aimed at simplifying cooking process for people who find it difficult to cook meal after a hard day’s job. “In busy cities in Nigeria, it is becoming harder to cook conventional meals due to busy schedule and other uncontrollable factors. This competition is our own way of providing solution to such challenge by offering consumers eight amazing convenient and easy cooking recipes on @Indomielifetv youtube page. “




Extrajudicial Killings Under the Guise of Punishing Electoral Oenders


oday, Nigerians are heading to the polls to execute a rescheduled civic responsibility aborted last Saturday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to logistical issues. Against this background is the strong possibility that some Nigerians who would attempt to snatch ballot boxes to disrupt and influence the outcome of the polls are going get hurt or worst still, be killed by the military. No thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari who has mandated the security forces to ensure that whoever attempts to snatch ballot boxes ‘pays with his life’. There is predictable outrage provoked by what a cross section of Nigerians perceive as an outlandish and unconstitutional order by Buhari to commit extrajudicial killings under the guise of punishing electoral offenders. Do you blame the President? Nigeria’s presidency is reputed to be the most powerful in the world even more than established democracies like the USA. Here, the President can take a unilateral decision without recourse to the National Assembly as his been the case a number of times under the present dispensation. In other climes, while leaders resign for failing to live up to the expectations of their citizens, in Nigeria, leaders have scant value for the sanctity of the lives of who they govern. In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned over unrest that claimed several lives over the building of urban mass transit in the capital. In his resignation letter, he stated that the “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many.� Yet in South Korea, Chung Hong-won voluntarily stepped down amid rising anger over claims by relatives that government did not do enough to help loved ones. In Nigeria, all that would have happened would be a terse statement saying perpetrators would be brought to book. How that would happen, no one tells you even years after. Let us face it: Is the President right to have issued such a drastic directive? The answer is found in Section 33. Subsection (1)of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states that “ Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.� Although there is provision in the Electoral Act 2010 prescribing a sentence of 24 months for electoral offenders too; what that means is that the President has no right to take a life. Doing so, would


amount to usurping the functions of the judiciary which is another arm of government that is vested with the administration of justice where a criminal offence has been committed. However, those who have followed electoral activities since the return to civil democratic rule will agree that politicians, bent on winning at all cost, have devised illegal means of circumventing the electoral process through the use of thugs to snatch ballot boxes and influence the outcome of elections in their favour. Thus, Buhari, a puritan, who wants the election to follow due process, is right to have frowned at these unholy acts. But he allowed his emotions rather than the rule of law to take precedence in this matter. Again, it is also plausible that the outrage that greeted Buhari’s pronouncement on the issue may have been fueled by the administration’s perceived preferential treatment meted out to Fulani herdsmen who sacked farmers in Benue state. It will be recalled that 73 persons were killed in a well coordinated attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen who raided Guma and Logo communities leaving a long trail of deaths and remains charred building in their wake. In the aftermath of the killings, the federal government’s reaction was lukewarm and to exacerbate an already volatile situation, the President rather than seizing the moment to order the military to shoot- at-sight any Fulani herdsman seen in possession of arms, rather brushed aside the magnitude of the catastrophe and urged the Benue people to learn to live with their fellow countrymen.


JOSEPH USHIGIALE e-mail:, mobile phone: 08023422660 (sms only)

On a personal note, Buhari’s outburst was, to say the least, a case of self indictment because he failed to reform the electoral system and put in place an enduring legacy that would make ballot box snatching and violence a thing of the past. As he faces a referendum today, what legacies would he be leaving behind in the event that he is rejected at the polls today? Buhari campaigned for the presidency on three major pivots: Anti-corruption, security and economy. His messages resonated directly with the people who, at that time, were looking for change. Thus, riding on that groundswell of emotions, he was elected after his fourth attempt at the presidency. I must also confess that I was a rabid supporter of Buhari. Infact, his estranged ally, Alhaji Buba Galadima and I were guests at the Department of State Security where I spent three days. I was being interrogated for publishing an interview by Galadima where he recommended Rawlings treatment for looters of public funds. I believed that Buhari was the best thing that had happened to the country and often thought he had answers to all of Nigeria’s problems. Had Buhari lost that election, I would have been so disappointed and would have still believed him to be the best president Nigeria never had. Alas, he has been at helm for almost four years, which has given me ample opportunity to analyse the man and his policies. On anti-corruption, the score sheet from Transparency International is a benchmark to measure whether Nigeria is making progress or not. So far, the results are not encouraging and the indices are there to see. Therefore, if the Buhari administration is winning its much publicized anti-corruption war, there would have been uncountable convictions, the urge for engaging in corruption would have reduced but that is not the case today. The economy has just recorded 1.8 per cent growth but the Buhari administration plunged the economy into recession, the first in 25 years. It followed that up by devaluing the same local currency he promised to bring at par with the dollar by 300 percent. Today, thousands of Nigerians are out of jobs because of the policies which have impacted negatively on the economy. As I write, there are still warnings that the economy could still slide into recession if appropriate measures are not put in place.

Readers can continued online



he crescendo to the kickoff of the Presidential election was more dramatic than we envisaged. Millions of young Nigerians kept a vigil on INECrelated news, fretting: Is everything going on well? Have INEC done all that is necessary to make the election hitch-free? Will they be able to overcome all the problems and hurdles crawling out of the holes? Many questions drove away sleep from

worried hearts. Then at past 3am, the stern face of Mahmood Yakubu, a professor of Political History and International Studies, who heads our current headache, INEC, broke the bad news. Expectedly, torrent of criticisms have landed on the unfortunate decision to postpone all elections by one week. Considering the magnitude of waste, losses, frustrations, and such baleful experiences suffered by Nigerians willing to do all that was necessary to vote the candidates of their choice - it was a dull, painful and incensed Saturday, last week. INEC’s bunglings of the electoral process, whether self-inflicted by sheer weight of incompetence or duplicity; or externally manipulated by fifth columnists or frightened barons of corruption, and their infernal collaborators... INEC fell few pegs on the ladder of trust and perception in the estimation of Nigerians. If apathy was not such a worrying spectre last week, as Nigerians were pumped up to make a statement, one way or the other, with their PVCs - over 15m new voters have registered since 2015... today, it will be a miracle if any state records up to 55% voter turnout. Nevertheless, life goes on... If voting goes ahead today, as rescheduled, let Nigerians have the pleasure, peace and privilege of conducting a free, orderly and credible election that will restore our confidence, reassure our neighbours and inspire our children that we are not just big in size - but strong in values, resilient in integrity and resourceful in management of our affairs. Yet, in all things, the good book says we should be thankful. We thank God we can vote, and it shall count. Also, I now have the opportunity to conclude the “sparklersâ€? I started last week but was constrained by space. El-Rufai & His Body-Bags Perhaps, you missed it: Here are excerpts of the famous ignoble words of the governor of Kaduna State and APC candidate, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai: “At the end of the day, it’s Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters that will line up and vote on February 16; let us wait for the results, and if the results are not what we expect them to be, there’s a process to challenge them. We have election tribunals; challenge them‌ We are used to losing elections – those

of us that came from opposition‌ we never resorted to violence... Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we’re waiting for the person that will come and intervene (...), they will go back in body bags, because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country‌â€?. Though his party, APC and the presidency were quick to give him a shoulder, it is important to note that many Nigerians, including opposition parties, vehemently carpeted El-Rufai for this potentially incinerating outburst. My immediate reaction: That a sitting governor will go on national television to utter “body-bagsâ€? as part of a threat to deter “foreign interferenceâ€? is staggering. This is a man with pretensions of ruling this country in some future dream. Such inflammatory utterances diminish the quality and mental stability of our “leadershipâ€? pool, reminding us that we still have a long way to go in nurturing and positioning sensible and sensitive leaders of the Nigerian people. We then asked that El-Rufa’i should openly recant those bloody words, and apologise for needlessly jacking up the tension wires around the polity, few days to a major election. As usual, the wily politician tried to fob off the cascade of criticisms by reconstructing the semantics of his misjive - of course, he stopped short of apologising. Sadly, days to the postponed elections, killers struck at two points in El-Rufa’i’s backyard. In Kajuru local government, 11 Adara natives were killed and scores wounded by alleged herdsmen. The news went under the radar. It was on Sunday, February 10 in the village of Ungwar Barde, Rufana District, according to the spokesperson of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, who accused the governor of instigating “ethnic and religious brushfiresâ€?. Few days later, the world rose in skepticism when El-Rufai went to town with the killings of 66 Fulani people in the same Kajuru LGA. The dastardly act was on Friday, February 15, the eve of elections. It took a combined team of heads of the Army, police and DSS in the state for people to somehow believe that El-Rufai was not crying wolf! Perception deficit! Please, Carry Your Ballot Paper! A special prayer for all patriotic Nigerians today: May the Almighty enable you the strength to receive, unfurl, search through the maze of over 70 party logos, and the dexterity to finger-print your choice without voiding your ballot. Have you seen the extra large “face-towelâ€? INEC calls the ballot paper? Voters have to be very careful when stamping; it may be sensible to use the tip of any of the slimmer fingers to avoid spilling the ink unto unfancied party line. I won’t be surprised if the number of invalid votes is on the high side.



AKINTUNDE-JOHNSON e-mail: mobile phone: (08182223348 - SMS Only)

Meanwhile, a warning: don’t struggle with ballot snatchers so you’re not mistaken for the miscreants and receive a “ruthless� action that is not meant for you. When politicians task you to “defend your votes�, I beg you to apply wisdom. There are several unmarked graves of heady martyrs whose legacies are overtaken by dust and rot! Vote with sense, please. Politics of Knives & Stones APC seems factricidally betrothed to violence - or such will be a neutral’s impression of their members’ actions at the state campaign starter at Ikeja GRA, Lagos where Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode symbolically handed the baton to the party’s new standard bearer, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Even journalists were not spared, as guns, machetes, and such violent articles were brazenly displayed and used on opponents. We were later told it was a spill-over intra-union disquiet within the National Union of Road Transport Workers. That was Tuesday, January 9, 2019. The shame that rallied again at MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Monday, February 11 was even more curious. Brimming with high officials, including the presidential candidate, his vice, party national chairman, national leader, and a clutch of bigwigs, the expectation was high in the modest stadium for a remarkable outing. But the sitting governor, Ibikunle Amosun conducted himself, and his rally, in a manner unbecoming of a state chief executive - snapping at this, huffing at that, snatching this, and generally being belligerent at elements opposed to his overlordship...and then invoking the name of God and the president’s aura to calm nerves that had been invigorated by his own bullish tantrums. Most befuddling question: how did an APC presidential/ governorship rally dissolve into a cauldron of APM sympathisers, a flung APC guber flag, volley of stones on the loquacious pair of Adam Oshiomhole and Rauf Aregbesola, a tongue-tied Dapo Abiodun, despondent Bola Tinubu and Segun Osoba... rowdy double-minded spectators... and other indiscretions. Similar drama was reportedly scripted for Imo and Zamfara (APC) and same Ogun (PDP). Some observers were thanking God, and the Supreme Court for postponing what would have surely been a “mother of all mayhem� if APC and PDP candidates had a free reign to fully campaign in Rivers State!





‘Blame’ Non-count



AILY SUN Front Page Sub-headline infraction of February 13 welcomes us today: “Parties trade blames over alleged violence plotâ€? Voice of The Nation: ‘blame’ is non-count/uncountable. “The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room will be on ground to receive reports and provide accurate, (‘and’ instead of this comma) unbiased analysis (analyses) of the 2019 Nigeria (Nigerian) general electionsâ€? “The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) wish (wishes) to inform the general public (the public)‌.â€? (Full-page advertisement by NIWA signed by Senator, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, MD/CEO of NIWA) DAILY Sun Editorial of February 11 disseminated copious juvenile errors: “Other factors that led to high cost of governance, according to him, include (included) high cost (again?)‌.â€? “However, Gana advised that the high cost of governance can (could) be reduced by merging‌.â€? “Besides, he stated that attitudinal change in terms of disposition and lifestyle of political leaders are viable options (is a viable option) to prune the cost of governance.â€? â€œâ€Śefforts to reduce the cost of governance has (why?) been feeble and, indeed, overlooked by politicians.â€? “Kajuru killings: El-Rufai, community trade blamesâ€? (DAILY Sun Front Page Sub-headline, February 18) For the third time in two weeks: ‘blame’ is uncountable! “Ugwuanyi visits victims of New Haven fire outbreakâ€? (National News Headline, February 18) Delete ‘outbreak’ because of its needlessness. “SMS the incidence (incident) to 196 (toll free)â€? (This full-page message is brought to you by the National Crisis Management Centre) “This is, by all accounts, a damning statistics (statistic).â€? (DAILY Sun Editorial, February 18) â€œâ€Śthe presidential committee failed to recognize the ages long (age-long) truism


that‌.â€? (DAILY SUN OPINION Page, February 18) “Customs begins distribution of rice, vegetable oil to orphanages home in Lagosâ€? (THE BUSINESS REPORT, February 18) Simply orphanages in Lagos “NECA decries incessant ASUU strike (strikes)â€? (Source: as above) “Nnamdi Azikwe (Azikiwe)â€? (DAILY Sun Back Page Caption, February 18) “We are glad that the police has (have) recognized terrorism as a menace that calls for special training of its (their) officers.â€? “Care must be taken, however, to ensure that the need for specialized training on terrorism for officers and men of the security agencies are not turned into avenue (an avenue) to line up (for lining up) the pockets of top officials of the agencies.â€? The most critical aspect of the foregoing extract: Care must be taken, however, to ensure that the need for‌is (not are)‌. Let us visit Vanguard of February 9: “The state, therefore, does not deserve the treatment being currently meted to itâ€?. Fixed expression: meted out (to). And this: ‘being’ and ‘currently’ cannot co-function. “Chief of Naval Staff advocates for increased productivity via industrializationâ€? What a wordy head! When used as a verb, ‘advocate’ does not admit ‘for’. Let us economize words, especially in headline casting: Naval Chief advocates increased productivity. “For the university to recommend that students should pay for the damages while they have.‌â€? A recurring error: except in legalese, ‘damage’ cannot be pluralized. (Daily Independent, February 9) â€œâ€Śrather than investigating and finding out who were involved and check against future re-occurrence.â€? Beyond recurrence (not reoccurrence), can an event yet to take place happen in the past? â€œâ€Śthe university is pointing its accusing fingers in the direction of the lecturers.â€? Correct expression: point a/the finger. â€œâ€Śthe AU summiteers concentrated almost exclusive (sic) on the political independence and liberation of countries in the continent.â€? (Daily Trust, February, 08055001948

8) In the interest of African Unity: on the continent. “Monday’s action, which started at dawn, was as a result of the break-down of series of negotiations‌â€? An agendum: a series of. “According to the source, the institution has a very high percentage of failure in the last academic year.â€? Reported speech: the institution had (not has). â€œâ€Śthat the authorities of the institution was (were) still waiting the result of the police analysis of the bombâ€?. â€œâ€Śin the next three years, its per capital income would have‌.â€? This way: per capita income. THE GUARDIAN on Sunday of March 4 disseminated dozens of blunders: “The home of the chairman‌was vandalized and most of his properties littered outside. “ No chaos: most of his property. “So how come that (why is it that) Mr‌. who was vehemently criticized by our sports writers during his coaching days with our Super Eagles has now warmed his way into the hearts of these same people‌â€? In the spirit of sportsmanship and lexical sanity, let us replace ‘warmed’ with ‘wormed’. THISDAY of February 9 embarrassingly went down with copious blunders:â€?But experts have pointed that the inflation rate‌.â€? Contextually, the phrasal verb that applies here is ‘pointed out’‌ and not just the verb ‘pointed’ which means another thing entirely. Additionally, phrasal verbs do not tolerate hyphens. “In his six-page address paying glowing tribute (tributes) and homage to former vice-president late Alex Ekwueme‌.â€? The late Alex Ekwueme‌. “Nigeria Breweries poise for better future performanceâ€? The alcoholic beverage firm is poised (not poise) for‌. “Furthermore, the conduct of officials and the general logistical support for the just-concluded voter registration were unprecedented in the annals of our nation’s history.â€? ‘Annals of history’ is simply tautological. Just employ any of the variants. Both cannot be used in the same context (environment). This is my own standpoint—some purists disagree. “Despite the Moslem-Moslem ticket which he and his vice-presidential candi-

date held, majority of Christians across the country still rallied in their favour.â€? Get it right: a majority of Christians. “In fact, nobody needs to go far in our contemporary world to find such helplessly troubled spots because they abound everywhere, in virtually all parts of the globe.â€? Morphology in turmoil: trouble spots, please. “The eventual failure of many of such drugs have not discouraged fresh attempts at inventing more effective ones.â€? The battle against discord continues: The failure‌of drugs has (not have). “The heavy downpour most of last year has made the price of perishable commodities in the market to come down due to low patronage by consumers.â€? ‘Downpour’ does not require amplification (heavy) because of inherence. And ‘patronage’ is usually by consumers or their proxies. So, ‘by consumers’ is otiose. This next paragraph is repeated because of the persistent committal of the blunder. This column will not address it again. “Of all the first generation (a hyphen, please) universities, OAU is arguably the one that was able to preserve its known ideology for the longest.â€? I do not agree with the usage of “arguablyâ€? by a majority of Nigerian writers. The explanation I got from one of the country’s frontline editors recently was not convincing: when you have points to justify your claims, it becomes arguable and when there are no justifications, you employ “unarguably.â€? If you are sure of your statement, make it declarative by jettisoning “arguably.â€? And if you are unsure, do not make claims. If you do, be ready to argue it elsewhere when confronted (not in your contribution). For the avoidance of doubt, “arguableâ€? (adjective) and its adverb (arguably) mean: â€?‌for which good, if not necessarily convincing, reasons may be found/open to doubt/not certainly, but reasonably held to be.â€? (Source: THE NEW LEXICON WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, 2017) My grouse about this illogical excerpt is the intrinsic and quite avoidable element of doubt.


Ă“Ă?ĂœĂ™Ă?Ă™Ă?ĂžĂ?Ă?Ă“Ă?ĂžĂ?ĂŽÙÙÞĂ?Ă‹Ă—Ăš Ă—ĂšĂœĂ™Ă Ă?Ă? Ă™Ă?Ă‹Ă–Ă?Ă Ă?ÖÙÚĂ?ĂœĂ?ËŞĂ•Ă“Ă–Ă–Ă? Bennett Oghifo


ocal developers had their skills upgraded in the use of deep learning concepts to drive financial inclusion at an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bootcamp, hosted by Data Science Nigeria and sponsored by Microsoft, recently. This is contained in a statement by Data Science Nigeria, which also said that “Across the Middle East and Africa, a projected $28.3 million will be spent on developing AI solutions in the financial sector – and organisations are ramping up efforts to ensure young developers are well equipped for the task. “Developing this kind of AI capacity in Africa is essential, not only to ensure our 200 million-strong youth population is equipped for jobs of the future, but also to ensure local AI systems themselves are unbiased and inclusive.� The statement said it was important to develop the right skills and data sets, and that “without the skills to build homegrown applications, organisations are likely to import machine-learning algorithms developed elsewhere, which are trained on biased data sets that lack local context. This could have severe consequences in industries like healthcare. “What Africa needs is a richer pool of local data, coupled with AI applications that are built by skilled local teams with diverse demographic, gender, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. “To achieve this, outdated processes need to be digitised, education systems need to adapt quickly, and digital literacy programmes need to be more far-reaching.� According to them, “Local organisations are making good headway. The Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) in South Africa recently collaborated with Microsoft to build a first-for-Africa technology platform on Azure, which is enhancing the storage and processing of African genomic datasets. With this data and computing power, the CPGR is running more ground-breaking biomedical research in local disease development and prevention.� In Malawi, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees

(UNHCR) has opened a Microsoft AppFactory at the Dzaleka camp, which is bringing skills in coding and data analytics to young refugees and asylum seekers. Applications that have already been created include Smart Mapokezi, which manages schedules for the allocation of food at the refugee camps. The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) dominated discussions at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos – with delegates touching on everything from ethics to democratisation and workforce re-skilling. While AI is primed to be the driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its widespread acceptance and adoption among businesses is still in early stages. The year 2018 was an important one in shifting current perceptions around AI, demonstrating it as a technology that is here to augment human capabilities, not replace them, and to benefit the speed and scale of any organisation, large or small. These conversations have carried weight. In just four years, the number of global organisations deploying AI has increased by 270 per cent. In Africa, the momentum is similar, and continues to grow as access to high quality broadband and cloud computing improves. Organisations are recognising AI’s ability to help with some of the continent’s most pervasive problems, from reducing poverty to improving healthcare and enhancing crop yields to feed a growing population. Microsoft, through initiatives such as 4Afrika, has its sights set on making AI available to everyone on the continent, in line with our global mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. We are partnering with forward-thinking policy makers, innovative startups, technology partners, civil society groups and stakeholders to promote the growth of a vibrant AI ecosystem in Africa – one that enables inclusive growth and provides a clear and trusted path to digital transformation.

Promoting innovation with AI Many of our local partners, including SMEs and startups, have already begun their AI journeys. Nigerian startup, MyMusic,

has experimented with chatbots to help users discover new local music. And fintech startup, MoVAS Group, who we first met in 2016, is now building AI into their credit-scoring algorithms, enabling more unbanked farmers and small business owners to access loans the first time. In the finance industry, 66 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is listed as unbanked. The proliferation of mobile banking across the continent has increased financial inclusion, and AI powered intelligent applications are now taking this further. AI can capture and crunch large volumes of nontraditional data, such as mobile wallet transactions, that enable service providers to make automated loan decisions to new customers, with no previous financial track records, in seconds.

Policies for an AI-enabled future As AI opens up new frontiers for economic and social transformation, policy makers will need to ensure that this new data-driven ecosystem is governed by a strong code of ethics. We need to ensure that ethical AI systems are reliable, secure, private, transparent, accountable and beneficial to all. Across Africa, Microsoft is supporting government bodies in developing necessary policy frameworks. Initiatives such as the Microsoft Policy Innovation Centre at Strathmore University in Kenya are providing forums to discuss policy issues surrounding the digital transformation of industries and countries. Together with Access Partnership, we also recently commissioned a white paper on the implications of AI in Africa, which will be presented to South African Government delegates in March, during an event dedicated to addressing AI policy advancements.

Putting humans at the center Through Microsoft’s various programs, from skills development initiatives to growing the startup ecosystem, we are working to help make an AI-enabled future in Africa a reality. In every AI endeavor, our goal is to augment and amplify human ingenuity, accelerate economic and social prosperity. African innovators revolutionized the way mobile technology is used, and we look forward to seeing what they’ll do next with AI.




Kate Henshaw, Bimbo Manuel, Headline ‘4th Republic’ AMANDA EBEYE Sometimes You Find Yourself Doing What You Had Planned Never to Do Again

pg. 48

Timaya Drops ‘Chulo Vibes’ pg. 50




Kate Henshaw, Bimbo Manuel, Headline ‘4th Republic’ Timely as it is in a season of elections, with a theme that mirrors and drives positively a particular narrative, the movie, “4th Republic”, starring Kate Henshaw and Bimbo Manuel sets an agenda for the political class. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports

Kate Henshaw


reat movies aside from the story lines are made possibly by the quality of the cast and crew, especially the director and producer, who are often considered great by virtue of their outstanding performances and creative ingenuity in a particular set. The team, including the director and producer, to some extent, define the work even before hand, as viewers appetite are induced into expectation. For this particular movie in focus, the cast, director and producer, and the story line,

dramatically make the movie somewhat great, as it sets an agenda for the political class. Hence, it’s timely in a season of elections with a theme that mirrors and drives positively a particular narrative of an aspect of the larger society which the populace is not strange to. Metaphoric in some ways, the movie ‘4th Republic’, which mirrors government and democracy, shows the political glass ceiling how difficult it is for women to hold high offices in government in this clime. Suffice to say that a huge percentage of Nigerian population is female, yet, only about six per cent of federal legislative positions are

occupied by women. The ‘4th Republic’ plots around an electoral period and government administration. It follows the story of a violent and heavily marred governorship election. An aspirant, Mabel King, (Kate Henshaw) and her idealistic campaign and political strategist, Ike, try to discover what went wrong and seek justice through an election petition tribunal. Their quest soon becomes a race to find and convince two young witnesses with evidence of violence at the election to testify in court before the opposing candidate finds them first. Funded by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the thriller, shot on location in Abuja, Lokoja and Lagos is expected to be released in cinemas across Nigeria by April 2019, with distribution from FilmOne. The 4th Republic, a co-production between Griot Studios Ltd. and Amateur Heads Productions with Bem Pever, Ishaya Bako, Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju and Ummi A. Yakubu serving as executiveproducers, reflects current collaborative pattern of multiple production outfits and practitioners pulling resources together. This underpins the dynamics and the happenings in the industry that have resulted in the changes being



SHOWBIZFLAIR Kate Henshaw, Bimbo Manuel, Headline ‘4th Republic’ The “4th Republic”plots around an electoral period and government administration. It follows the story of a violent and heavily marred governorship election. An aspirant, Mabel King, (Kate Henshaw) and her idealistic campaign and political strategist, Ike, try to discover what went wrong and seek justice through an election petition tribunal witnessed in terms of quality output. The ripple effect bears strongly on the creative sector. For the past couple of months, Nigeria’s brightest creative minds have been doling out politically-charged content - from Innocent Idibia’s (2baba/2face) “Power of 1” to Falz’s “Moral Instruction” to the starstudded vote “Not for Sale” anthem - using their influences to encourage the masses to participate in the upcoming elections. Now, aside starring Kate Henshaw as the lead, alongside other Nollywood stars such as Bimbo Manuel, Yakubu Mohammed, Sani Mu’azu, Linda Ejiofor and Enyina Nwigwe, most times, the choice of the lead cast in some cases is placed prominent, owing to the director’s mind’s eye. And the choice of Henshaw in the movie could be said to fall in place. And this is the reason she takes the spotlight. It makes good the movie in the sense that she has in recent movies taken a deserved position, occasionally appearing in “new Nollywood” films. From when Henshaw made her debut in 1993 in the movie, “When The Sun Sets”, earning a now paltry sum of N35,000, the famous Nollywood actress, model, television personality, entrepreneur and influencer, has always blown the hearts of many with her creativity, talent and perfect skills in interpreting roles.

Bimbo Manuel

She didn’t think about becoming an actress until 1993 when she participated in her every first audition and got her first role. This, to her surprise, gave her a leading role. This was the first time she appeared in a big movie in Nollywood. Even though, this role was regarded as not a huge success for her, this was a real beginning of her career. Eventually, she grew into a big star she is now. Kate’s roles, her talent and charm have gained lots of love from the audience. She has plenty of fans and a very high reputation. Due to this reputation and popularity, she has become a real life TV show judge. She has appeared a lot as a judge on the extremely popular show Nigeria’s Got Talent. It’s interesting how this experience increases her popularity, and the popularity, in its turn, is increasing her reputation as an actress. 4th Republic was written by Zainab Omaki and Emil Garuba and directed by Ishaya Bako. Bako and Garuba co-wrote the Netflix original first Nollywood film acquired, Lionheart, alongside C. J. Obasi and company, while he also directed The Royal Hibiscus Hotel movie, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017. Bako won Best Film at the African Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) in 2016, with his feature film “Road to Yesterday”.

Linda Ejiofor

Enyinna Nwigwe



SHOWBIZFLAIR Direct Messages (DM) to most of them, and D tthey responded. I got their contacts, chatted tthem up. Bob-Manuel was the only person I ccouldn’t get on Instagram because he is not on Social media. So, I got his contact, called him S up, spoke with him and he came on board. u He didn’t give me any stress. H Shooting has been amazing Talking about working with these professsionals, it has been brilliant because they just know what to do. For them, acting is just k iinborn. They take their lines so smoothly, because they have been in the game for so b llong. They put themselves into the character aand deliver perfectly. Everything I’ve spent aand still spending is close to N30 million and over. I couldn’t do this alone. I pray I make o my money back and also be able to pay my m iinvestors. They trusted me with their money, sso I don’t want to disappoint them. I’m very spiritual I tell God the little one I have, please use it to bless my hustle. I put in my money, my sweat, b sso I believe God will bless me abundantly. The series would be ready in June It would be ready for all. Right now, my ttarget is African Magic Showcase, family and aany other. I told myself, I don’t just want to be an actress, because no matter how you act, b you can’t be richer than your producer. So, I y went back to rethink. So, now I’m an actress, w producer and filmmaker. p I just like following my life, steps by ssteps I do plan my life, but sometimes you see y yourself doing what you had planned never tto do again. But right now, I have the right to ttell my own stories the way I want it to be. I now have my own world, to do my own sstories. I still like Asaba, and I am not sayiing never to anything. That’s still where the m money is made. The challenge is boggling The light situation is a challenge. We shoot ffor 30 days. When I went to make inquiries tto rent cameras and lights, the amount I was ttold was so shocking I had to start buying my o own equipment to add to the ones I already h had. Then feeding all the cast and crew for tthat number of days, is not an easy one. They aare my responsibility till the shoot is done.

Amanda Ebeye

Sometimes You Find Yourself Doing What You Had Planned Never to Do Again

Amanda Ebeye is an actress and a part-time model. She is known for her roles in Clinic Matters and Super Story. Amanda has featured in so many movies and made her mark in Nollywood. She talks to Tosin Clegg about her new production, her journey so far, including family life and more My new movie is titled, A Crazy World


decided to go with the name because of the content of what I’m shooting. It’s a comedy series. It has lots of competition for women. It has lots of struggles. It’s funny and, at the same time, has so much to learn from, as it touches every aspects of life. At first, I wanted to call it The Wives, when I created the story but lots of movies with similar names are out there. I wrote the script but I have other writers. Message I want people to learn from the story We are tackling issues which have to do with

social media. We are trying to make people see the vices of social media. It’s unarguable that it has made people rich; it has changed the lives of some people. It has connected the world. But there are other bad sides of social media. It has destroyed a lot of people that don’t know how to use it. People get intimidated and depressed over the beautiful photos they see on social media. So, It’s A Crazy World has been put on the screen for you to see what happens on social media, behind those lovely, smiling photos. I’m on social media all the time I’m an actress. I’m an extremely private person, so to smile and take pictures to put on social media is a lot of work. I understand what it’s like to stay relevant on those new platforms. To

be very honest, in a day I can spend 20-hours on social media. I love Instagram and I like Twitter but I won’t choose it over Instagram. How I picked my cast for the series I developed the Treatment in 2017 when I was in film school in Canada. I just wanted people that have respect in the industry to be in my movie. Over there I thought to myself, who could pull off the role of Don in the movie and I knew it would be Bob-Manuel Udokwu. Because he is very good at what he does. He is one of my best actors. When it was time to look for the wives, I knew Grace Amah would always play the Kemi role well. Then the other ones I picked also fit into their roles perfectly. We thank God for instagram. I sent

My son is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life e He is not here at the moment. My mom went tto Canada to stay with him. So, my family is aalways there to support me. That’s the only tthing I can’t regret. The only person I can’t ttrade for anything in the world. I can trade tthis production if the worse comes (laughs). But my son, never! I tell him I love him every B day. But on a deeper level, I can’t wait to tell d him that no matter what he does, he would h get married someday, but he should always g have a place in his heart for me. I pray every h day that my daughter-in-law would be good d tto me. I just don’t want anyone to turn my sson away from me. My bad habits Well, I’ll say going late for meetings or appointment. Then I have sweet tooth. I love chocolate, and other sweet stuffs. I struggle to keep fit. I’m not a regular everyday girl My dreams and aspirations are different. What other women might be dreaming about is not the same thing I would want to become. When it comes to giving birth, I really don’t think I want all my children to come from me. I would wait to see what happens in the nearest future. I want to adopt. Right from when I was much younger, I dreamed of the day I’d be able to say this; that I want to adopt kids. I look at those kids that don’t have parents and I keep wondering why we have to keep giving birth, when there are already lots of kids out there to take care of. Adoption is my priority than giving birth to my biological children. There are lots of roles I wish I didn’t play Then when everyone wants to be popular and pay bills, you just pick up any roles given to you. That’s why I tell people don’t let this industry pressurise you to do what you don’t want to do. There are movies that I did in the past, but if you bring the scripts to me now, I’ll turn them down outright.



Tosin Clegg 07062816737 e-mail:


Gists SUPERSTORY TV DRAMA NOW AVAILABLE ON STV NETWORK TV viewers of all ages were pleasantly surprised, recently, to discover that Superstory, Nigeria’s most-watched TV Drama, is available on the primetime line-up of Silverbird Television (STV) Network across Nigeria. Through a special partnership which commenced on 7th February, the multiple-awardwinning TV drama has been airing on Thursdays on STV Network which is available across Nigeria. According to Wale Adenuga Jnr., Managing Director of WAP, “Our company has entertained millions of families across Nigeria for several decades and one of the things which has made this possible is our continued conscious effort to listen to feedback and satisfy the desires of all stakeholders. Hence, the expansion of Superstory to STV Network is in line with innumerable requests from audience members across Nigeria, as well as several advertisers who have supported Superstory TV Drama over the years.”

INTRODUCING SHEGAH, GHANAIAN DANCEHALL DIVA Multi award winning Ghanaian dancehall artiste ‘Shegee Styla’, the dancehall diva who now goes by the stage name Shegah, seems to be making a mark after her mainstream comeback into the music industry. She signed a record deal with top record label Magic Records. Shegah, born to the late highlife legend Jerry Mark Hansen of blessed memory, her father was the founder of the Ramblers International Band. Music runs through her family and this manifested when she established the first female Hip-life group in Ghana called Triple M. Shegah gained a lot of mainstream attention when they released the popular track “KOTI”. She would later breakaway from the group. Then began a solo career and didn’t give up on music. For this reason she worked with most of the hit making artistes at that time like Praye, Tony Harmony, Castro, Mzbel, Reggie Zippy, Yaa Pono, and many others. With the change of music trends in Ghana which affected most pioneer musicians, Shegah decided to hibernate and rebrand her music from hip-life to reggae/dancehall which is the trending genre in Ghanaian music. Shegah’s hit ‘Dem Marking Time’ went straight in to the UK Reggae Chats at No.6 in 2018 and Dem Marking Time won Best Music Video of the Year at NELAS 2018. In addition to that her hit song Big It Up won Best song of the year at DBE Music Awards UK. Shegah has been honored with Outstanding Achievement in Music at Panache 2018 in UK. The African female artiste recently celebrated her life in music with other top entertainers from the UK for a very successful 2018. The dancehall diva is bursting into Nigeria music industry, introducing one of her hit track audio/video titled “MURDER”, featuring Samini and Jupitar.



I Want to Build the Best Music Digital Store Daniel Friday Okodi, popularly known as Danzor, is an OAP, Online Music Publicist, and a social media influencer. His love for music and promoting acts that are new to the game has earned him a favourite playmaker in his craft. He tells Tosin Clegg about his music business


hen did you start the music business and what inspired you?

I started four years ago, and the inspiration came when I went for an event and saw a few young artistes who couldn’t promote their works. They were struggling to get slots in shows and were bounced out of events. So, I decided to start promoting artistes and then connect them to a few shows and introduce them to an online platform where they can upload their songs and also grow their fan-base, since we are in the 21st century where smartphones rule.

What’s been the challenge of being in the business? The challenge has always been unserious people who you go out of your comfort zone to help and at the end of the day they don’t appreciate it and, also, money. Most times because of my love for the business, I do things and end up running into debt just to please musicians. To the Glory of God, I have crafted a way of dealing with all of the above stated challenges.

What do you think are the problems of the music industry in Nigeria and how can it be solved? The problem of the Nigerian music industry is that we have too many people who don’t know about music going into the business. At the end of the day, you find out that all they do is to send out wrong contents, bad music and bad promotion. We have greedy music artistes and self-centered record labels making artistes work like they don’t deserve a place in the industry. If we have people who understand the business it would make the work easier and better for others who would be coming into the business.

Who are your mentors and role models? Don jazzy, Davido, Mr Eazi and more. These are the guys that inspire me into music business as they have taken their music digital by making their fans all over the world connect to them easily by streaming their contents, making music easy and cool to do.

Where do you see yourself and brand in a few years? I want to be the best Music Distributor not only in Nigeria and I see my brand winning awards and getting recommendations. I want to build the best music Digital Store nationwide.




Timaya Drops ‘Chulo Vibes’ With positive reviews to his 7th studio project, Enitimi Odon’s (Timaya) ’Chulo Vibes’is such that vibes, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu


t seems the wait was worth the while for singer Enitimi Odon, popularly known as Timaya. His new body of work in form of an Extended Play (EP), since emerging on the music scene almost a decade and a half after his last album, Epiphany released in 2014, dropped. The Amazing album sees the artiste in collaborations with top acts around Africa in a nine track Extended Play record dubbed, ‘Chulo Vibes’. With positive reviews to it since it dropped on February 8, Timaya’s seventh studio project ’Chulo Vibes’ is such that vibes, reflecting his present state of mind and journey from the Dem Mama Soldiers, from the Egberi Papa 1 of Bayelsa to ‘Don Papi Chulo’ of the Chulo Vibes, a nickname of his new identity in the music circles. According to the artiste, ‘Chulo Vibes’ “is a collection of music that I can say best defines me, my sound and brand. I am all about good energy; love, positive living, being thankful always, and you can hear all this on, not just the EP, but all my songs.” For Chulo Vibes, Timaya worked with different producers like Chilz, KelP, and Christringz, to name a few. While the EP consists mostly of solo singles, Timaya selects three artistes from three majorly black regions of the world currently influencing music to collaborate with, fostering the spirit of unity and inclusion. Nigeria’s Burna Boy represents West Africa, Tanzania’s Alikiba represents East Africa, and the king of Soca music, Machel Montano from Trinidad & Tobago, represents The Carribean. The EP is an entertaining mix of rhythms and messages that provide a very enjoyable easy listening experience with songs such as Number One Ft. Alikiba; Obrigado; Balance; Pull Up Ft. Burna Boy; Can’t Kill Myself; The Mood; Stoopid and Happy Ft. Machel Montano. Most notable about the compilation is how Timaya stays true to the sound he’s known and loved for, an eclectic balance of afrobeat, dancehall and reggae. His longevity and growth is one that continues to deserve praise as everything about the Chulo Vibes EP will resonate with music lovers, especially those who have been Timaya fans from the beginning. All of it is truly a vibe for the acclaimed king of Afro-Soca music. Born in Bayelsa, Nigeria, Timaya’s music has transcended beyond his early beginnings in the south of Nigeria to all parts of the world. The certified hit maker has numerous multiplatinum hit singles, collaborations (including the remix of his hit single “Bum Bum” with Sean Paul), six studio albums and the recently released EP to his credit. Timaya has successfully completed tours in Africa, North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. With over 190 million views on YouTube and 2 million followers on social media, the style icon certainly has a strong fan base worldwide. Timaya’s solo career began in 2005 with the release of ‘Dem Mama’ which also appeared on his debut album, True Story, released in 2006. His second album Gift and Grace was released in 2008. Timaya gained further visibility and international prominence through his third studio album ‘De Rebirth’ released in 2010 in partnership with Black Body Entertainment and its lead single, Plantain Boy, was commercially successful. He would further collaborate with ‘Dem Mama Soldiers’ on the album Long Life N Prosperity (LLNP) in November 2011. The album’s second track ‘Dem No Like Me’ featured late legendary reggae superstar, Ras Kimono. In 2012, Timaya released a 14 track album titled ‘Upgrade’, which spawned hits like Bum, Sexy Ladies, and Malonogede.




Mercy Johnson: Family is Everything Nollywood actress and mother of three, Mercy Johnson-Okojie recently shared beautiful family photos of herself, her husband, Prince Odi Okojie and their three children Purity, Henry and Angel. She wrote: “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.”



5 ) * 4 % ":  t  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019




Fake $100 in Circulation, ABCON Warns

ADMITTED BEFORE POLLS... L-R: Managing Director/CEO, FBN Quest Merchant Bank Limited, Mr. Kayode Akinkugbe; Managing Director/CEO, FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, Mr. Bola Onadele Koko; and Managing Director, Mixta Real Estate (Nigeria) Plc , Mr. Kola Ashiru-Balogun, during the signing of the Listing & Quotation Registers at the Listing & Quotation ceremony for the Mixta Real Estate (Nigeria) PLC Bonds & CPs at Exchange Place, Lagos...recently

Buhari: No Plan to Impose Islam on Nigeria, Says Allegation Wicked Omololu OgunmadeÓØÌßÔË

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja described as false and wicked allegations that he had conceived plans to impose his religion, Islam, on Nigeria. The president, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, accused those who came up with the allegation of merely stoking the embers of religion for political gains, adding that the same device was adopted ahead of

2015 elections but failed. Adesina said his principal had made it clear that in accordance with the oath he took, he would defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which he said guarantees freedom of worship for all. According to him, Buhari affirmed his commitment to freedom of worship and hence, no religion will be imposed on the nation under any circumstance, pointing out that playing politics with religion is dangerous, deceptive and

ungodly. The statement read, “It has come to the notice of President Muhammadu Buhari, ahead of the forthcoming elections, that some unscrupulous Nigerians are again falsely and wickedly claiming that the administration has an agenda to impose Islam on Nigeria. “The objective is clearly to stoke up religious division for political gains. Some of these same persons made these devious and fabricated claims ahead of the 2015 election. They failed woefully.

“The President strongly affirms the oath he took before the Nigerian people to faithfully defend the constitution of Nigeria. That constitution guarantees freedom of worships for every Nigerian. It is this guarantee that enables all Nigerians to practise their faiths or religion without hindrance.” President Buhari further affirmed his commitment to freedom of religion and worship for all Nigerians, saying under no circumstance will any religion or faith be imposed on any Nigerian.

Maina: Stop My Persecution, Ensure Enforcement of Court Order against EFCC

Tinubu: I Have No Relation to or Interest in Act Technologies

Ogheneuvede Ohwovoriole ÓØÌßÔË

Olaoluwakitan Babatunde

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Mallam Abdulrasheed Maina has called on human rights organisations to intervene in the case between him and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in ensuring that his long protracted and unjust persecution since December 2012 is brought to an end. Maina spoke through his Media Aide, Aliyu Musa, explaining that the decision to involve the human rights organisations was based on its recognition that they fight just course. While appealing to the rights groups to ensure the enforcement of a recent court order, which bars the anti-graft agency and other bodies from further harassing Maina and or declaring him wanted, Musa said that despite securing five judgements in his favour, he had been subjected to suffering, untold hardship and persecution under a democratic government. Recall that a federal High Court sitting in Abuja had stopped the EFCC from declar-

ing Mallam Maina wanted The court had said that EFCC went against section 41 and 42 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, arguing that the EFCC had no right to declare Maina wanted without an order of a court. Musa said, “as a sincere person, Maina has decided to run to human rights groups with the belief that they will work hard to halt this injustice meted out to him by digging deep into this mess, uncovering and exposing the real issue as well as educating Nigerians about the intrigues playing out as against what is being peddled in the news media. He said, “The pension thieves have the financial muscle to control reports against him. We should ask questions about the whereabouts of the whooping sums and properties uncovered, recovered and handed over to the EFCC and others hunting Maina today. “I am here to tell Nigerians to disregard the lies told about Maina and to inform them that Abdulraheed Maina did not steal a dime of the pension fund or any other such funds, because he never recieved budget nor a dime.”

All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has condemned an online report incorrectly linking him with a company called Act Technologies Limited. Asiwaju has absolutely no relation to, or interest in, Act Technologies Limited, a statement by Tinubu Media Office yesterday pointed out. “He had never even heard of the company until the PDP (and its cronies in the media) started this campaign of calumny a few days ago. “Moreover, Asiwaju has never been involved in the supply of card readers, voter registration and accreditation frameworks or any other materials or services to INEC. The story is but an unfortunate and crude attempt to malign Asiwaju’s name,” the statement added. The statement titled ‘Response to Allegations in Saharareporters’ reads: “If lies were sand, this story would be a desert. Perhaps the only thing this story manages to get correct is the spelling of Asiwaju’s name. However, the story is but an unfortunate and crude attempt to malign Asiwaju’s name. Asiwaju has

absolutely no relation to, or interest in, Act Technologies Limited. “Let us be clear in this matter. If any political party was in control of INEC’s procurement practices in 2014/2015 it would have been the one in control of the federal government at that time. Asiwaju never asked for, nor did he receive, anything or any contract from Jonathan’s government. Even President Jonathan would not have sat idly by while important electoral contracts were being handed over to his most implacable political foe. As often happens with fiction concocted by amateurs, the application of a little common sense causes the entire story to fall apart. “Even the technological aspects of the report are fantastical and unfounded. The whole thing simply makes no sense from a technical point of view. The report only makes sense as part of a concerted effort to attack Asiwaju. Why the PDP and their media boosters fear him so much, we leave for them to answer. But it is odd that they expend so much time and energy manufacturing falsehoods against someone whose name will not even appear on any ballot.

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) on Friday alerted members of the public about ongoing security investigation into fake $100 bills allegedly imported into Nigeria from India. ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, disclosed this in a statement after the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos. Gwadabe said the $100 bills were majorly counterfeit. He said some of the fraudsters’ objective was not only to make profit, but to undermine Nigeria’s chances for automatic membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after assessment of the country’s financial system scheduled to hold before March. The ABCON boss said the issue of fake dollar in circulation had been observed and reported to relevant security agencies, adding that the ABCON, had in the interest of the economy and Bureaux De Change (BDCs) businesses, secured Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) backing to begin nationwide campaign against fake currencies in the country.

He said rising cases of fake currencies in circulation had led to huge losses to BDC operators and the economy. Gwadabe said ABCON would continue to educate members of the public on how to identify fake dollar bills in order to protect the image of the country in the eyes of foreign investors. “It is part of our objectives which in enshrined on our constitution as an association to eliminate the incidences of fake currencies circulation thereby enhancing the image of the country and transparency in our operations,” he said. Gwadabe said the ABCON NEC had released a guide to all BDCs on how to detect a fake dollar bill. He disclosed that there are seven dollar bills of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and seven steps to authenticate each of them. “The weight of each bill is one gram, 2.61 inches wide and 6.14 inches length. It is 75 per cent cotton and 25 per cent linen. Your finger can feel thickness and texture. “Besides, the portrait water mark is partly overlapped by the Treasury seal, while the $100 bill is printed on the right side of the bill.

Abia Community Seeks Ikpeazu’s Protection over Attacks 30 killed, 15,000 displaced in interstate border crisis since April 2018 Emmanuel Ugwu ÓØ×ßËÒÓË

The people of Isu clan in Arochukwu local government of Abia State have cried out to the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu over the incessant attacks by the neighbouring Utuma community of Cross River State, saying that Abia government had waited too long to come to their aid since the periodic attacks started in 2014. Spokesman of the Isu people, Mazi Donatus Okorie told journalists in Umuahia that they had decided to once again to further send an S.O.S to the state governor to urgently save the situation following a latest attack which occurred on Friday, February 15, 2019 by people from Utuma in Biase local government of Cross River State. According to him, the latest attack resulted to “dastardly murder of our illustrious son, Hon. Okoro Ukwaa, who was waylaid and butchered by Utuma militants on his way to his farm”, adding that “our neighbours are still very militant, attacking us at will”. He said that since April 2018 when the border crisis erupted, no fewer than 30 people from Isu had been killed while over 15, 000 persons were displaced and forced to flee to neighbouring communities for refuge. He named the affected Isu communities to include Iho, Aba Isu, Amachi, Ndiugbo and Alioso. “What has befallen Isu clan is better imagined than experienced. Since the crisis erupted in April 2018 no fewer than 30 people have been killed and over 15,000 rendered homeless while properties worth millions of naira have been destroyed,” he lamented. Spokesman of the Abia State police command, Geoffrey Ogbonna said that though police were aware of the interstate border crisis they were yet to receive report on the latest killing in Isu. Both police and army were said to

have intervened at the early stage of the crisis but were said to have been prevented from accessing the area as Utuma people felled a huge tree and blocked the road. Mazi Okorie, who is a former secretary to the Abia state government (SSG) said that it was regrettable that Isu people who are part and parcel of Abia state had been left to their own fate as “our own government has not taken any concrete steps to stop the loss of lives and destruction of properties in Isu”. He said that if the government of Abia state had made concrete efforts to protect its people in Isu the incessant attacks by Utuma people would have stopped and further loss of lives and destruction of properties averted. The community leader noted that the deputy governor, Ude Oko Chukwu, whose office oversees boundary issues, gave the impression that he was going to find solution to the crisis but failed to achieve anything. Governor Ikpeazu on his part is said to have failed to take urgent steps to save the Isu people despite several representations by community leaders and traditional rulers. Mazi Okorie stated that if Governor Ikpeazu had made concrete peace move and reached out to his Cross River counterpart, Governor Ben Ayade , a lasting solution could have been found since Abia and Cross River are PDP controlled states. In his remarks an Isu man based in the United States of America, Mr. Tony Kalu said that he personally raised the issue with Governor Ikpeazu at a private audience when he visited Washington DC last year and addressed Abia people there. “I told him (Ikpeazu) that Isu is under attack. He told me he would take action but nothing has been done,” he lamented.




Rivers APC Crises: Abe Heads to Supreme Court

WE SHARE IN YOUR JOY... L-R: Wife of the Celebrant, Cheif Mrs. Moronmubo Bayode; Celebrant/former Principal Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, Chief Olusola Bayode; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and Oluyin of Iyin-Ekiti, HRM, Oba Ademola Ajakaiye; at Chief Bayode’s 80th birthday celebration in Ado-Ekiti…recently

Five Dead as Army Denies Killings in Bayelsa Emmanuel AddehÓØÏØËÑÙË Five persons have been killed in various locations in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. Among those shot dead at the separate incidents were one Diyelaimi Ben-Walson, a final year student of the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU), a young man identified simply as Whoknowstomorrow who was shot dead at a relaxation spot in Biogbolo, Yenagoa and an unnamed victim who was attacked by party thugs at Otuokpoti, Ogbia and currently at the emergency unit in a Port Harcourt hospital. The army personnel were said

to have mobilised to the spot a day after a colleague of theirs was robbed of his phone at gunpoint, before shooting and killing the 27-year-old Whoknowstomorrow. Also, three persons were confirmed dead in Swali, in the state capital, when a military man reportedly attempted to shoot an armed robbery suspect who was trying to rob a woman. While some eyewitnesses said the soldier mistakenly shot the woman being robbed, the robber and a passerby, others said the suspect had already loaded and readied his gun when the soldier shot him, before the gun exploded and fired indiscriminately.

Clampdown: We’ll Tackle Obiano Soon, Says IPOB David-Chyddy ElekeÓØáÕË The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has said that the level of clampdown on its members in Anambra State particularly and in the states of the South-east was worrisome. The group said it would be forced to tackle the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano soon, over his involvement in the high number of arrest of its members in Anambra State. A press release by the Media and Publicity secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful disclosed that there had been incessant harassment, abduction, arrest and torture including house to house search for innocent and unarmed civilians in Aguata, Orumba North and South Local Government Areas of the state, perceived to be members of IPOB. Part of the release reads, “We the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leadership worldwide consider it imperative to put the civilised world on notice concerning the incessant harassment, abduc-

tion, arrest and torture including house to house search for innocent and unarmed civilians in Aguata, Orumba North and South Local Government Areas of Anambra State. “Since our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu lifted the ban on election boycott on Thursday night in the whole of Biafraland, Willie Obiano of Anambra State and other Igbo state governors subservient to Fulani caliphate and beholden to Jubril-Buhari have intensified their clampdown on IPOB through illegal midnight raids and kidnapping. ‘We are fully aware that most of Igbo governors are not happy with IPOB because their previous strategy of using our election boycott as cover to rig the vote in favour of Jubril-Buhari, particularly in Anambra State where Willie Obiano has instructed the Fulani Muslim dominated Nigerian Army and police to deploy into our villages to abduct and kill anybody who is perceived to be against voting for Jubril-Buhari and APC in the state.’

Amosun’s Aide Dies in Auto Crash, SSG Injured Femi Ogbonnikan ÓØÌÏÙÕßÞË

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun’s aide, Adeniyi Adesanya, has died while the Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, was reportedly injured in a fatal motor accident on Friday evening.

The accident occurred at Siun-Kobape along SagamuAbeokuta Road.Adeoluwa reportedly sustained a severe injury and has been rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Idi -Aba, Abeokuta. The SSG has been transferred to the Intensive care unit of the FMC.

However, operatives of the Bayelsa State Police Command said they arrested a 31-year-old cult leader identified as Victor Meremunyu alias Y. B. Lee and five others over the alleged shooting to death of the final year student. “At about 11.30a.m., the final year student, who is resident at Lagold street area of Azikoro road fought with one Victor Meremunyu over an undisclosed issue. Victor brought out a gun and shot Diyelaimi Ben-Walson dead. He has, however, been arrested,” said a police source. But the military said there was no truth in the alleged shooting

of the young man at Biogbolo. “The allegation that soldiers shot at them sporadically which led to the death of one youth and leaving several others injured was malicious and totally untrue. “It is important to categorically state that no soldier was involved in any shooting saga in Yenagoa. Additionally, the Brigade wishes to reiterate that it’s personnel are professionals who conduct operations in line with the extant Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct as well as best global practices,” a statement by Maj. Jonah Danjuma, an Assistant Director Army Public Relations said.

NEMA Receives Additional 164 Nigerians from Libya as Traffickers are Apprehended Chinedu Eze The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has announced that it received fresh batch of 164 Nigerians who in their failed attempts to travel to Europe for greener pastures got stranded in Libya. Receiving the Returnees, NEMA senior official, Ibrahim Farinloye on behalf of the Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office of the Agency, Alhaji Idris Muhammed, implored the returnees to seize the fresh opportunity that they had in starting a positive and fruitful life within the abundant resources available in Nigeria, just as two traffickers among those that returned were identified by their victims and apprehended by officials of NAPTIP during the reception organised for the returnees by the federal government. “There’s nothing bad in questing for improved and better living conditions in the world but the method and process in seeking greener pastures overseas are mostly wrong and entail avoidable risks. “One will not appreciate the abundant resources God have endowed us with in Nigeria until you travel out. “All of you have gone and fortunately come back alive and you are at the best position to tell the story to those still aspiring to embark on such journey. We understand that many of you were deceived with very juicy opportunities overseas and these are mostly your close relatives, you need to assist the

government to stem the menace of trafficking by giving information to government agencies who are going to protect your identity and safety. The traffickers are not ghosts; you know them and you need to save other youths from falling victims,” he advised the returnees. Farinloye also urged them to be champions of positive thinking among the youths against the urge that makes them believe that if you don’t travel out, you cannot make a meaningful life. “There are more than enough for all of us to tap and make Nigeria greater,” he added. The return of the Nigerians was facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with special funding by the European Union in an Assisted Voluntary Returnees programme that would end in April 2020. The Returnees were brought back onboard of Chartered Al Burag Airline Boeing 737-800 flight number 89 with registration number 5A-DMG They arrived Cargo Wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja at about 12:15 on Friday morning. THISDAY learnt that the returnees consisted of 71 female adults, 17 female children and six female infants. There are also 55 male adults 13 male children and two male infants. Amongst them were three returnees with medical cases and a pregnant woman who started having labour of childbirth upon arrival in Nigeria.

The Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Magnus Ngei Abe has said he and others would approach the Supreme Court for proper interpretation of the merits of a suit which he brought before the Court of Appeal seeking a declaration that he and 42 others be affirmed as authentic candidates of the party but was struck out by the Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt. This is as he urged party members to mobilise and vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in this weekend’s presidential election. Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday he said there was need to ensure that justice and equity prevail for party members who participated in a lawful process but were wrongfully excluded from the polls. Abe said that everyone knew that the indirect primaries were conducted in violation of existing Court Orders and would not stand; the state chapter of the party reminded the national of this fact in their request for direct

primaries. “The direct primary was the only lawful exercise conducted by the APC in Rivers State,” he stated Senator Abe had approached the Court of Appeal to review the Federal High Court Judgment delivered in January this year which refused to accept the direct primary elections conducted by the State Executive Council (SEC) citing National Working Committee’s (NWC) non participation in the exercise. He said, “We had approached the Court of Appeal to help us breakdown the logjam arising out of the current situation in the APC here in Rivers State. “Surprisingly, they refused to go into the merits of the case holding that the case is covered by the decision of the Supreme Court in respect of the earlier case against the conduct of the indirect primaries. “We believe that is not the sum of the judgment of the Supreme Court so, in consultation with our legal team, we have asked them to approach the Supreme Court for a final resolution of the matter,” he added.

500 Chadian Soldiers Enter Nigeria to Fight Boko Haram A contingent of more than 500 Chadian troops entered Nigeria yesterday to “lend a hand” to the Nigerian army in its efforts to tackle the Boko Haram jihadist group, a Chadian army spokesman told AFP. The soldiers, part of a regional force comprised troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, will be deployed on Saturday, the day Nigerians will vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking re-election, vowed on the same day that voters will be able to vote, despite a week-long postponement and renewed violence. The election campaign has coincided with fresh violence in the north, blamed on both criminal gangs and Boko Haram jihadists.

Yesterday, four people were killed and seven more reported missing in an attack attributed to Boko Haram jihadists on a small settlement in southeast Niger Republic, a local official there said. Five more killings attributed to Boko Haram were reported in Chad the previous day. More than 200 people have died since the start of this month alone. In 2015 Buhari was elected on a promise to put an end to the Boko Haram threat. The conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian army has claimed more than 27,000 lives since 2009 and more than 1.7 million people are still unable to return to their homes. And the problem has spread across to the other countries in the Lake Chad region.

Mrs. Bakare Dies at 74 The Chairman of Oluwalogbon Motors Limited, Chief S.O. Bakare, has lost his wife, Lady Evangelist Deborah Omobowale Bakare. The death occurred on Tuesday, 19th February 2019 after a brief illness at the University College Hospital

(UCH) Ibadan, Oyo State. She was aged 74 years. She is survived by her husband, children and grandchildren. According to a statement by Chief Bakare, funeral arrangements will be announced later.

PDP Alerts Police, Says Violence May Mar Elections in Ekiti Victor OgunjeÓØÎÙÕÓÞÓ

As the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections hold today, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, has raised the alarm over the possibility of the elections being marred by violence. The party raised the alarm on Friday that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state was approaching Saturday’s elections with desperation, which might spell doom for the conduct of the much awaited polls. Addressing newsmen in Ado Ekiti, PDP State Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, alleged that APC members had been scaring people away with gunshots in the state capital in addition to overnight attack on PDP state secretariat and harassment of opposition party members. The PDP chairman said: “With

the act of shooting that happened in Ado Ekiti when election is less than 24 hours away, we believe that if these people carrying guns are allowed to be operational without check, the entire state will be thrown into confusion and the idea of having free, fair and credible election will be a mere illusion. “Overnight, the State Secretariat of PDP was attacked. Every banner there was torched. Our security guard was arrested and beaten up. The billboard in front of our secretariat was pulled down.”

CHANGE OF NAME I formerly known and addressed as NWOGO EMMANUELLA UGWUOKE, now wish to be known and addressed as NWOGO EMMANUELLA NZEKWUE. All former documents remain valid. The general public should please take note.




Virgil van Dijk

D’Tigers team

Usyk in Joshua’s Mind as His Mandatory Challenger in 2020 Anthony Joshua expects to be mandated to fight Oleksandr Usyk next year, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. Pound-for-pound supremo and undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk is expected to step into the heavyweight division this year, with the ultimate aim of challenging Joshua. Asked if Joshua could fight Usyk by the end of 2019, Hearn told Sky Sports: “No. That fight comes in 2020.” Joshua must first make his US debut by defending the IBF, WBA and WBO belts against Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 1. The unified champion hopes to claim every major heavyweight belt, a feat ac-

complished by Usyk in the division below, but will also be forced into mandatory defences. Usyk is set to be immediately installed as the WBO’s mandatory challengeronce he joins the top division, putting him on a collision course with Joshua. “Usyk will fight in May, probably in his heavyweight debut, potentially against Alexander Povetkin,” explained Hearn, who works alongside K2 Promotions to oversee Usyk’s career. “Then he’ll have one more. Then it looks like the WBO will make him mandatory for Anthony Joshua. “I see that fight happening in spring 2020.”

Joshua and Usyk are both Olympic gold medallists and have amassed a combined 38 professional victories, no defeats, and seven world title belts. Usyk signalled his intentions to target Joshua during a stunning 2018 in which he won the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, and also won three fights in his opponents’ home countries culminating with his November knockout win over Tony Bellew. “The boxing world would desire the clash of two Olympic champs and two [future] undisputed professionals,” Alexander Krassyuk of K2 Promotions said last year. Joshua told Sky Sports last year: “Usyk needs to move up

in the right stages, and figure out what it’s like being with 17 or 18 stone guys who can punch very hard. Joshua reacts to his press conference melee with ‘Big Baby’ “It’s not just based on skill, the heavyweight division. It’s based on will. How much you can take. “I know he’s got amateur experience and has done well as a cruiserweight but if he moves up to the heavyweight division, it will also test his will as well as his skill.” After beating Bellew, Usyk said: “Becoming heavyweight champion of the world is not what I’m dreaming of. It’s my goal. It’s what I’m planning to do.”

CAF Confederation Cup

D’Tigers Want to End the Qualifiers Unbeaten Nigeria may have been one of the first African teams to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China but D’Tigers have now set for themselves another target - end the qualifiers unbeaten. Point guard Michael Umeh, who returns to the side for the first time in almost three years, is rather upbeat Nigeria have the steel to maintain their impressive 9-0 run in the qualifiers with three games against Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic (CAF) and Senegal still on the cards. The last time Umeh sported the green-and-white jersey was three years ago during the 2016 Rio Olympics where he averaged 11 points, 3.2 rebounds

and 2.8 assists. Now that he’s back with Nigeria, the 34-year-old wants to give in his best and show that his best years aren’t behind him yet. “It feels good to be back with the team, I’ve missed playing for Nigeria and I wanted to come show some leadership and share my experience with the team,” he told The FIBA AfroBasket 2015 champion knows just how important being part of China 2019 is for Nigeria. “The goal for us is to continue being solid and show why we are a dominant team and demonstrate to the world that we’ve grown as a federa-

tion and as a team. There’s no better place than the World Cup to prove that the quality of our basketball has improved. “I followed the team and I watched the games and I was happy with what I saw because it shows that we continue to improve and every day the team looks better. “The motivation within the team is still a 100 per cent. We want to always continue to show our dominance, we want to come in here and prove to the world why we feel we are the best African team and obviously we want to end the qualifiers unbeaten,” the 1.85m (6ft’1in) added. “In my entire basketball career, my best memories have

come from playing with the national team. It’s a pleasure suiting up for my country and I want to enjoy every minute of it,” Umeh noted. “I’m in good shape and I feel like it’s important to put up an impressive show for the fans and just enjoy playing. “My family has been very supportive and they motivate me all the time to be a better person. Whenever the anthem plays, I think about my community in Uga, that’s where my grandparents are from. I think about all the younger kids from that area supporting me and praying for me and it makes me stronger and determined to play my best basketball,” Umeh pointed out.

Nigeria Reinstated by WADA after Period of Non-compliance Nigeria has been reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) following a short period of non-compliance. The Nigerian National AntiDoping Committee (NNADC) was declared non-compliant by WADA in November because of structural issues related to its testing procedure. In a statement, WADA confirmed the issues had now been corrected and the country had been removed from the list of

non-complaint signatories. “This non-compliance became effective on December 6, 2018, after the NNADC chose not to challenge the assertion of non-compliance,” WADA said. “Since then, the NNADC has implemented the corrective measures required to address its non-compliance, in cooperation with the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).” The NNADC will now continue to work with SAIDS and

WADA to “further enhance its programme”. The lifting of the sanctions on Nigeria was confirmed following a circular vote of the 12-member WADA Executive Committee, which has the final say on issues of compliance. WADA said at the time the non-compliance was announced that it was confident Nigeria would resolve its problems quickly and that the NNADC’s non-compliance would be short.

North Korea was recently declared non-compliant by WADA after the country failed to address problems with its drugs-testing programme. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency avoided further punishment last month despite missing a deadline to provide WADAwith access to data at the Moscow Laboratory - although the organisation did so 10 days later - and remains compliant with the code.

Virgil van Dijk: From Dishwashing to World’s Most Expensive Defender Virgil van Dijk has had a dramatic rise from Groningen to Liverpool, via Celtic and Southampton, to become the player considered by many to be the best defender in the world. The Netherlands international sat downwith Guillem Balague and, in a wide-ranging interview for BBC Radio 5 live, discussed growth spurts, the box set he has watched eight times, getting drunk at Disneyland and his aim to be remembered “as a legend of Liverpool


an Dijk, now 6ft 4in tall, was born in Breda and was in Willem II’s youth team before joining Groningen in 2010 I wasn’t tall until I had a growth spurt - at 16 my younger brother was getting taller than me. Over the summer I turned 17, I grew 18 centimetres. My knee was a bit unstable. I had groin problems. I had so many problems, then I had proper rehab with physios and was out for six weeks. After that, I started playing well. At 16, I was a slow right-back and wasn’t good enough to play centre-back. I was never a standout player until I played for the under-19s and became the captain. Then everything went much better - I played some games for the under-23s and after that it went pretty quickly. When I went to FC Groningen, I had to take my bike to training - my first wage went on driving lessons. Before I signed my contract, I was 15 or 16 and working as a dishwasher in a Breda restaurant. I trained Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and played Saturday and worked on a Wednesday and Sunday evening from six to midnight. I worked because I wanted to go to town on a Saturday night. I got maybe 350 euros every month and I was so happy with that, I could go to McDonald’s and treat my friends. Then I started to realise how important money can be, but it’s not the most important thing. I was in hospital for 13 nights and it was very tough. It was a complicated appendix (proble)]. I had an infection in my stomach; it was crazy. It all happened on 1 April 2012 (April Fool’s Day), so the day didn’t help either. I was in one of my best periods at Groningen. We were meant to be playing the derby against Heerenveen and I was feeling sick - I didn’t eat too healthily over there so it was my own fault. It was a tough two weeks before I got surgery and after that was even harder. I was definitely in shock. I put the TV on and a song came on - Viva la Vida by Coldplay, it was an emotional moment. If I hear it now I think of the tough moments and how good it is right now and how proud I can be. I couldn’t do anything for at least 10 days, I couldn’t walk. When I walked for the first time, I did 10 metres and was breathing like crazy. After a month, I started training with the physios to get my muscles back. After that I played a full season and went to Celtic. Van Dijk spent two seasons with Celtic before moving to Southampton. After two seasons at St Mary’s, he put in a transfer request amid interest from Liverpool, with the Saints accusing Liverpool of making an illegal approach. Six months later, he joined the Reds for £75m. After the end of August [and the transfer window] I put my head down, played for Southampton and gave everything. I was happy to play because I came back from an eight-month injury. When everything happened over the summer, people doubt you. For me, I really didn’t care as I gave everything in games and training. When it was December and I got a call to say they got a deal done and I could talk to Liverpool, I was very happy. I went to the Juventus v Real Madrid Champions League final in Cardiff in 2017 and a lot of Liverpool fans came to me and said I had to sign for them. It was a great gesture; they were nice and respectful. I’ve known my best friend since I was 12 or 13. He’s going to be a dad soon so I’m very happy for him. If I need him, he’s there. If he needs me, I’m there for him.

Saturday, February 23, 2019



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SOKAPU on El-rufai “El-rufai’s comments over the Kajuru killings were deliberately orchestrated to inflame ethnic and religious sentiments to produce yet another cycle of bloodshed.” – Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), reacting to claims by Governor Nasir el-Rufai that 130 Fulani in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State had been killed.


The Empty Promises Nigerians Must Reject Today


ellow Nigerians, finally, hopefully, the appointed time has come for the most anticipated Presidential election in Nigeria. It is not that the other elections are not important but the stakes are much higher because the President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful man on earth. He can do and virtually get away with any atrocity. A regular and normal human being instantly transfigures into a god or spirit on attainment of such monstrosity. And everyone including those you thought were already made in life and need no government patronage suddenly turn into jelly-fish genuflecting in the presence of the new deity. Such is the tragedy of our situation. About this time in 2015, we were all excited about the new possibilities offered by our new President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Though I had many personal reservations about his inglorious and ignoble antecedents as a coup plotter and bloody dictator, many Nigerians like me were ready to give him another chance. Despite the regrets I harbour today, I’m glad I did with all my heart. Had we not, we would have been feeling extremely guilty that we wasted a good leader who could have turned our long-suffering country into Paradise on earth, like we wasted Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Moshood Abiola, both of blessed memory. Awolowo would have been the best Manager of people and resources while Abiola would have been the best unifier ever who would have spared us the total breakdown of law and order and the menace of nepotism and terrorism that we have all over the places today. On a personal note, my expectation of Buhari was hinged on the possible fact that having spent three decades outside power, after being sacked ignominiously, he would have improved his human relations and public image as a caveman whose obstinacy is just irredeemable. I was doubly assured that whatever was still lacking in the man could still be polished and garnished by the brilliant minds around him and beyond. But we were very wrong. Today I’m one of the leading wailing wailers, as the Buharideens call us, but I have no apologies to offer. God knows that I love my country above any soul and will passionately defend its interest without any shade of doubt. There is no unprintable name in the lexicon that I have not been called since I committed the supposed heresy of jilting Buhari, the last saint standing in the world. But I’m also as stubborn as President Buhari, if not worse. The more they attack and insult me, the more hardened and resolute I become. In my growing up years, I paid my dues for democracy in my own little way and corner and no one can bully me today for exercising the rights we won on the platter of pain and anguish. I’m happy for a day such as this. Those who designed democracy were cognisant of the fact that leaders must go through periodic examinations called elections. Examinations are meant to test abilities in varying and various subjects. These


days, course works have become integral parts of the final examination. If you did well ahead of the final examination, you may not have to labour much eventually. This has been the case in the matter of President Buhari who wasted the better part of four years with no remarkable marks but suddenly woke up when the main examination was knocking. A man who did not do his homework well, who was absent from seminars and tutorials, and acted rudely to his examiners is now asking to be promoted to the next class by all means, fair or crooked. He is being goaded on by his co-travellers in indulgent rascality who fail to realise that the world has since moved beyond their celebration of mediocrity which they see as achievement. A lot of stupendous investments have gone into preparing the head boy for this epic journey. To whom much is given, much is usually expected. The most nauseating excuse for the failure is the endless blame game. All the promises of performance and good behaviour have since gone up in smoke and what is left are the ashes of disappointments and gnashing of teeth. A powerful and resounding message must be established from now onwards. No man or woman shall be promoted to the next class if they perform below average. Buhari was expected to deliver spectacularly in three key areas. The first was general insecurity in the country. At the time he ascended the throne, Boko Haram had become a major menade marauding in some parts of Northern Nigeria. A lot of faith was placed in Buhari to win the war against the recalcitrant fellows being a retired Major General. He succeeded in containing their expansionist ambition to some extent but not to acceptable standards. The unfortunate side to it is the breakout of other types of menacing hoodlums like the rampaging herdsmen who audaciously forayed into several states southwards and wreaked despicable havoc on farmlands and their hapless owners. What was worse, our head boy carried on as if nothing happened. There is no country where hordes of people would be killed like cows in abattoirs and

life would continue as normal, the way it has been under this government. Nothing seems to move Buhari to show the human side of him except when it touches those very close to him. The case of Benue State would remain indelible forever as the bereaved were left to bury their dead with little or no empathy from the leader who is seeking re-election today. The last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was accused of uncommon profligacy in the disbursement of security votes allocated to the fight against Boko Haram. The then National Security Adviser, Retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a blue-blood from the Sokoto Sultanate, has remained in detention ever since Buhari arrived on the scene, on the allegations of gross malfeasance. He has neither been properly tried nor convicted by any law court. Bails have been generously offered by the Judiciary but not granted or obeyed by President Buhari. Strangely, President Buhari’s government has also bullied his way into getting approval for its own one billion dollar security votes despite large scale protest from the people of Nigeria. What is sad and saddening is the fact that not much has changed. Our usually gallant soldiers have become miserably exposed to danger at every turn. Many have lost their lives at such tender age leaving their loved ones to morn prematurely. Our fighters have been grumbling aloud about their poor welfare and wellbeing. How can a retired army General find himself in this embarrassing situation? The next subject Buhari flunked is the war against corruption. Despite the commendable efforts of the anti-corruption agencies, it seems not much has happened due to the subliminal body language of the Buhari government in the open protection of friendly criminals. Unashamedly, the only point Buhari and the Buharideens are using to campaign is their phantom war against corruption. The bold face with which they label and attack members of the opposition is so brazen and daring. Wale Olaleye of Thisday newspapers and I had to plead with a mutual friend recently to stop calling PDP a party of looters when he had been one of its most prominent members and beneficiaries ever. “We won’t be able to defend you if you continue to say this in public…” I told our controversial friend. The brand of Saint Buhari has deteriorated to the extent that he no longer discriminates in who joins him in campaigning or funding his party. It is so bad that even the President has become the Defender-in-Chief for some of his supporters caught red-handed on hot tapes. He has been speaking in staccato fashion in defence of his inner circle of friends. As the National Chairman of APC recently boasted, “once you join APC, all yours sins are forgiven.” It is apparently true. The Buharideens have since unleashed a blistering campaign of calumny against the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He has been labelled as the

worst demon and biggest looter in Nigeria. First, they conveniently forgot that he was a major benefactor of their idol of worship, Buhari, pre-2015 election, pumping billions of naira into his campaign and releasing his private jet. He was not a devil at that time. If you remind them that he was only the Vice President, they will tell you he used his position to sell government companies to himself and cronies. Ok, let’s agree that wasn’t good enough. What became of those companies that others did not sell to themselves? Failure, perhaps. Atiku has established himself as a consummate entrepreneur in a country in dire need of jobs and opportunities. And if you ask them to pinpoint what Atiku stole, you will draw a deafening blank from them. Let’s move to what binds all humans together, the economy. Even if Buhari could not improve on what was bequeathed to him by President Jonathan, the least expected of him was to stabilise the economy. But Buhari came with his usual braggadocio of big talk and little action. If truth must be told, his traditional negativity led to the manner Nigeria went straight into coma and recession. It was the same ill-informed decisions that led him and his acolytes to Golgotha between 1983 to 1985, when Nigeria from hero to zero. A new President was expected to offer hopes and confidence to his citizens and foreign partners but Saint Buhari had to first of all flex some muscles and pontificate on why he is the Messiah. Nothing else is impotant to him than the deification of his person and persona by his brainwashed supporters. For Buhari and his ardent followers, there is always a ready answer for every act of commission or omission on the part of his government: what did PDP do in 16 years? PDP did so much in those years but it is not my job to defend them. If nothing else, PDP produced more quality leaders, and formidable teams than what we have today. Yet we dismissed them for non-performance. The reason we sacked them was because we believed they did not meet current standards in the world. But Buhari and his goons have now limited our search to finding a Pope to lead us as if we live in the Vatican. No. Who Nigeria needs and desires urgently is a performer who has enough experience and exposure in the corporate world and not a man fixated in the Stone Age acting as an avuncular leader. By far the biggest problem caused by the Buhari government is the gory manner he has divided Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines. If a man who would come to seek votes from every part of Nigeria could act as recklessly as he did in the first term when he reduced Nigeria to a miniature Fulani nation, what won’t Buhari attempt to do when he no longer needs the rest of Nigeria. This should be the serious food for thought. I have no doubts that Nigeria cannot afford to waste another four years in endless strife and senseless ethnic and religious cleansing. I need not say more. God save Nigeria.

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