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Atiku outlines challenges confronting Nigeria, backs restructuring

By NewsDesk,

The former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has indicated that Nigeria was going through numerous challenges, such that were threatening unity, economy of the nation, and that most worrisome of all, was in area of security, that seems tougher than monster Nigerian government could handle.

Atiku said that until Nigerians collectively accept that difference between Nigerians was not North and South, Christian and Muslim or that of political parties’ preference,  the nation would persist yearning for ways out of the challenges plunging the country in crisis on daily basis.

To him, Nigeria needs to be restructured and that the nation must embrace restructuring as a tool that must be done to fix Nigeria’s broken systems and not just a campaign gimmick.

In his analogy, difference must be between good and bad people and that the country as a whole must demonstrate that good forces were much more than bad ideologies.

Raising concern on state of security, Atiku noted that a group of girls were few days abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi axis of Yobe State and were yet to be located, just as Chibok schoolgirls too were kidnapped years ago by Boko Haram militants, the abductors of the former.

Delivering a key note address at Silverbird ‘Man of Year’ yesterday in Lagos, the former vice president also noted that the challenges facing the country were symptoms and not ailment and that Nigeria was caught in a modern-day Malthusian Trap, with population growing faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He added that the nation’s increasing population drives competition for resources that were not keeping pace with population growth and that after contracting for five consecutive quarters, Nigeria came out of recession in second quarter of 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 0.55 per cent, fared better with 1.40 per cent in third quarter of same period

He claimed that Nigeria has overtaken India as world’s capital of extreme poverty and that there were more extremely poor people in Nigeria than in the latter, a country that has six times Nigeria’s population.

“Our nation is going through a lot of challenges. There are challenges to our unity, economy. Most worrisome are the security challenges we are currently facing.

“When people do not have jobs and the means to start a business are beyond their reach, they are incrementally much more likely to engage in criminal behaviours like terrorism, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery.

“Nigeria has a median age of 18.3 years. Our population is young. So when we have successful and laudable initiatives like YouWIN, we must continue them even when there has been a change in administration.

Admonishing gathering at the event on solution to the nations problems, Atiku stressed that fighting corruption would not be enough for the country to tackle issues, but moving beyond sentiments and media trials, as well as  looking at fact.

He added that despite the country fight against corruption in past years, Transparency International scored Nigeria even lower than in 2014, the situation of which signified that the nation need more and advance tactics to combat the vice and that of others.

“We talk of fighting corruption, but let us move beyond sentiments and media trials and look at the facts.

“We must try to identify why, though we have been ostensibly fighting corruption for the past few years, Transparency International is scoring Nigeria even lower than in 2014

“We have to kill the snake of corruption that swallows the commonwealth that should lift our people up from poverty. Whether that snake is in a JAMB Office or any other government office, we must kill it or it will kill us”.

Atiku reminded that during his tenure as vice president, his government reduced recurrent expenditure by introducing monetization policy and privatizing government enterprises, the system he claimed had been abandoned and recurrent expenditures had ballooned.

“We cannot spend 70% of our budget on recurrent expenditure at a time Nigeria has more unemployed or underemployed people than the entire population of the Republic of Cameroon.

“We have to enact laws to prevent leaders from diverting public funds from the public health sector to the treatment of the elite in the best hospitals abroad.

“If you can afford it from your own private resources, then pay for it. But do not make the tax payer pay for it.

“Our elite are treated in Europe. BBNaija is being broadcast from South Africa and Nike is unveiling our FIFA World Cup Jersey in London. Is this the extent to which we have outsourced Nigeria?, he raised concerns.



Nigerian movie producer set to hold cultural carnival in Scandinavia

By Zulaykha Abodunrin with Agency report, 

Denmark-based Nigerian movie producer and director, Stephen King, has disclosed that a Nigerian Cultural Heritage Carnival will take place in the Scandinavia from May 2 to May 5.

He told journalists during a the telephone chat from Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday that the event would be the first of its kind and that the event was aimed at promoting Nigerian culture to the people of Scandinavia.

King posited that the Scandinavia have a booming market opportunity that can be useful to Nigeria, adding that a day would be set aside for business forum for Nigerian entrepreneurs and business community to interact with colleagues from the Scandinavia.

“I made the proposal for this event and sent to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. The ministry approved the proposal and we have started arrangements to hold the event. We want to bring Nigeria closer to them and let them know about our country. Scandinavians are afraid to invest in Nigeria. If they know about us, there is a possibility that many of them will invest in Nigeria and do things with our people.

“The cultural carnival will be the first of its kind in this region. It is expected that Nigeria will take advantage of the booming market opportunity in the area. The event intends to help in the process of integration and cultural diversity in Copenhagen by offering a unique platform for Africans and African descendants to share the cultural aspects of our country,” the producer said.

King projected that the main event will feature  Nigerian dance, music, clothes, drama, and films. States and Local Governments are free to participate to showcase their potentials.

“We want to show them what we can do, who we are. We want to show them that Nigerians are loving people and have great business potentials,” he said.

Scandinavia and the Nordic region is a historical and geographical region covering much of Northern Europe with countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland which make up the region.


Ex-internationals move to rescue Oruma

By EmmanueL Onminyi with Agency report,

Former Super Eagles stars, including Austin Eguavoen, Taribo West and Nwankwo Kanu, have agreed to take part in a charity football game to raise funds to aid their former colleague, Wilson Oruma.

Oruma has made the headlines due to recent mental disorder following his huge financial loss.

The former Golden Eaglets captain allegedly lost most of his money after he was swindled six years ago in a failed business deal, thereby leading to depression, and deterioration in health.

The Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association, Waidi Akanni, revealed that the planned Charity game to help Oruma has been proposed to hold in Lagos in February.

He said he is confident more ex-internationals will make themselves available to help one of their own.

The 41-year-old Oruma had an illustrious career playing most of his club football in France where he represented many top clubs including Lens, Marseille, and Sochaux as well as a handful of other European teams.

Aside from his successes in club football, Oruma also had it good playing for Nigeria right from the Under 17 side to the national team- the Super Eagles.

He was allegedly defrauded by a clergyman and some fake oil businessmen to the tune of N1.2 billion in December 2012; a development that has seen his life take a serious turn for the worse.

“Aside from playing the Charity match to help Oruma, we will are also intending to use the medium to share our experiences to the current players on how well to manage their finances and prepare well for life after football,” the Lagos FA boss declared.

In the mean time, the General Secretary, National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers, Austin Popo, hinted that steps are being taken to quicken Oruma’s rehabilitation.

“We have had series of close door meetings to see how we can address the issue. I discussed with Sam Sodje who confirmed to me that he had put a call to Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission.”

Fashanu tags Nigeria, Libya clash battle against slavery

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Ahead of Nigeria’s participation at the forthcoming African Nations Championship, CHAN, former England striker, John Fashanu, has tagged the group match between Libya and Nigeria as a battle against slavery.

Libya, which has been plunged into political instability since the overthrow of the regime of dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011, will play Nigeria in the Group C fixture which comes up in Tangier, Morocco, on January 23.

Recently, the country has been involved in the enslavement of African migrants seeking to reach Europe through the Mediterranean sea.

The match against the home-based Eagles will have a political dimension as Nigerians were among the Black Africans enslaved in the country.

Nigerians in batches have continued to be repatriated from the unstable country following the intervention of the federal government.

Fashanu, slammed Libya, saying the country should be rated a terrorist country for violating the dignity of Black Africans who reside in the same continent as the North Africans.

“Nigeria match against Libya will be a bombshell. I hope we get to do well and in fact win the match against Libya,” Fashanu said.

The former Wimbledon player further suggested that the high profile encounter should be used as platform for a campaign against slavery and to expose the horrible and ridiculous things going on in the country at the moment.

Fashanu stressed: “I know our players will play three times better than they always do because everybody has been affected one way and another way. The abuse of Black African people is annoying. What we see on TV in Libya is just a little scratch of the top of the mountain. Everyday more people are being abused in Libya, and there are thousands of Nigerians going through that hellhole.”

The coach Salisu Yusuf led-team will seek to go farther than the third-place finish in their maiden appearance in the competition hosted by South Africa in 2014.

CAF Player of the Year wants top coaches for Nigeria

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Newly crowned CAF Female Footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, says the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, must hire a top professional coach for the Super Falcons in order to challenge with other great teams in world football.

The former Arsenal and Liverpool star, who currently plies her trade with Chinese side, Dalian Quanjian, has enjoyed a great height for both club and country.

Having won the golden ball and the golden boot at the 2014 Under 20 Women’s World Cup as Nigeria finished runners-up, and an African Cup of Nations winner’s medal the same year, Oshoala has started to eye international glory.

She revealed that for the Super Falcons to reach the highest peak of football like other countries such as Germany, Japan, USA and South Korea, the NFF must hire a very good coach.

“We don’t want to be sharing with the men’s team anymore and waiting for the funds to be able to do things,” she said.

“We need our own committees that can run things for the women. We also need top professional coaches. Football is getting harder. There are a lot of teams out there that are getting better every year. We need to do everything within our reach to move forward, keep people in Africa and make us strong enough to compete on a world stage.”

Falconets declare readiness to face South Africa

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Nigeria’s Under 20 female team, Falconets, will on Saturday, January 13, take on their South African counterparts in the first leg of the final round of African qualifying series for the 2018 FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup finals in France.

To reach this stage, the Falconets overwhelmed their oppositions from Tanzania 9-0 on aggregate, before sending their Moroccan counterparts packing with a 6-2 scoreline after two legs.

The South African girls shot past Namibia and Burundi to secure a doubleheader with rivals, Nigeria, with the opening leg at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday, 3pm South African time (2pm Nigeria time).

Falconets’ coach, Chris Danjuma, told thenff.com that his team, which departed Nigeria on January 3, are prepared to take the game to the South Africans in Polokwane.

“We have been working very hard at training for some weeks now, and we are very focused on earning the World Cup ticket. Of course, we understand that the South Africans would be tougher opposition than our previous opponents.

“We are ready for them. Our eyes are on the ticket to France.”

Nigeria reached the final of the tournament in 2014 in Canada but lost 1-0 to a resilient German side after regulation time.


Moroccan Ambassador backs Eagles to win CHAN

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Nigeria, Moha Ou Ali Tagma, has rated the home-based Eagles as good enough to overhaul oppositions at every stage and emerge champions of the 5th African Nations Championship starting in Casablanca on Saturday, January 13.

Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday, January 9, during a courtesy call by an NFF delegation led by the General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, the envoy expressed his view that the Moroccan B team may not be as strong as the A team that has, like Nigeria’s A team, qualified to be one of Africa’s five representatives at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

“Having said that, I will be most fulfilled if Nigeria and Morocco should play the final match in Casablanca on 4th February,” Tagma said, adding: “If your B team is like the A team, which easily qualified for the World Cup and defeated Argentina 4-2 in a friendly match two months ago, then it can go all the way.”

 Sanusi insisted that the NFF treasures the warm relationship between the NFF and the Federation Royal Marocaine de Football, whose President, Fouzi Lekjaa, is the third Vice President of CAF and also a member of the CAF Emergency Committee, like Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick.

“Morocco is like a second home for us. As I speak now, our Super Eagles are in Rabat training ahead of the CHAN and have the support of the FRMF. We appreciate the good relationship between our two Federations and between our two countries, and will always do what is necessary to service and protect this wonderful relationship.”

Also present during the visit were Morocco’s deputy head of mission, El Houssaine Oustitane, NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Head of Protocol, Tunde Aderibigbe, Paul Okwudolor, and Ayo Ibidapo.

D’Tigers to face Australia, New Zealand, Canada in Commonwealth Games

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Nigeria’s male basketball team, D’Tigers, have been grouped alongside Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the basketball event of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Australia who finished 4th at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is ranked 10th in the world. Set to make her debut at the Commonwealth, Canada is ranked 25th in the world and has participated in nine Olympic Games and won a silver medal at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

Despite being ranked number 1 in Africa and 32nd in the world, Nigeria is still the lowest ranked team in the group.

New Zealand will be taking part in her 21st Commonwealth Games, having competed at every games since inception in 1930. The group has been dubbed by many as the ‘Group of Death’.

The fixtures released by the organisers recently will see D’Tigers start their campaign against New Zealand on Friday 6th April 2018 before facing Canada, a day later. On Monday, 10th of April, however, the Nigerian side will battle host, Australia.

Reacting to the draws, Vice President of the NBBF, Babatunde Ogunade, described it as a ‘Group of death’. The former Nigerian captain said the team’s performance will be hinged on the preparation for the games and the decision of the players to step up and prove a point.

“We want to use it as preparation for the World Cup qualifier in which case we bring in foreign-based players to join their home grown counterparts for a longer period, get more practice and bonding time for the team.

“We will use the opportunity of the Commonwealth camping to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers too.”

The Commonwealth Games holds from April 4 to 15, 2018.

Eagles set to depart ahead CHAN

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Nigeria’s home-based senior team is set to jet out of the country on Monday, January 8, for the 5th African Nations Championship, CHAN, taking place in Morocco, form January 13 to February 4, 2018.

Head coach of the team, Salisu Yusuf, recently named a 23-man team to fly Nigeria’s flag at the finals, where the 2014 bronze medalists will play 2014 champions Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea in Group C.

Speaking at the weekend, Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor, told newsmen that the delegation will depart the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and connect Rabat from Istanbul on Tuesday morning, January 10.

Achor revealed: “The team will train for a few days in Rabat before heading to Tangier on Friday, January 12.”

The Ikechukwu Ezenwa-captained side will take on Rwanda at the Stade Ibn Batouta on Monday, January 15, before games against Libya at the same venue on Friday, January 19, and Equatorial Guinea in Agadir on Tuesday, January 23.

Nigeria failed to qualify for the first two editions of the Championship, losing to Ghana in 2008 (ahead of Cote d’Ivoire 2009) and beaten on aggregate by Niger Republic in 2010 (ahead of Sudan 2011).

The team list include:

Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC), Oladele Ajiboye (Plateau United), Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC);

Midefielders: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United), Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars), Augustine Oladapo (Enyimba FC), Ekundayo Ojo (Sunshine Stars); 

Forwards: Emeka Atuloma (Rivers United), Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars), Eneji Moses (Plateau United), Ibrahim Mustapha (Enyimba FC), Emeka Ogbuh (Rivers United), Sunday Faleye (Shooting Stars), Nur Muhammed (El-Kanemi Warriors), Okechukwu Gabriel (Akwa United).

Oshoala seeks more games for Super Falcons

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Three-time African footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, has called for more fixtures to be arranged for Nigeria’s women’s team, after a friendly against France was confirmed for the coach-less side in April, 2018.

The match, scheduled for April 4 in Paris, will be the Super Falcons’ first since winning the African Women Championship in December, 2016.

The former Arsenal Ladies attacker welcomed the fixture but says Nigeria needs more games ahead of the qualifiers for the 2018 Nations Cup in Ghana.

“It’s a good one, a big step for us and good news for women’s football in Nigeria generally but it’s not enough,” Oshoala, who won the CAF individual prize in 2014, 2016 and 2017, told BBC Sport.

“It’s not about the France game alone, but we need more games like this and we don’t have to plead before we get games,” she added.

This year’s Women’s Nations Cup will take on extra significance as it will also decide the continent’s representative at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, the eight-time African Champions are still searching for a coach after American, Randy Waldrum rejected the opportunity to lead the team in the month of December, 2017.