After Criticism, Buhari Meets Obasanjo At AU Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo came in contact face to face at the ongoing African Union summit taking place at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Their contact marked the first time both men met since the controversial statement by Obasanjo, criticizing Buhari’s administration and advising him not to seek a second term in office.

They met briefly just before the opening ceremony of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union(AU).

Obasanjo first went around to exchange pleasantries with other African leaders attending the summit, before looking out for Buhari among the crowd to also have a word with him.

Their brief pleasantries became a sensation inside the Nelson Mandela Hall as photojournalists made frantic efforts to capture the moment.

READ ALSO: Obasanjo Blasts Buhari, Warns Him Against Seeking Re-election

Obasanjo had stirred up controversies in Nigeria when he released a 13-page statement accusing Buhari of under-performance and therefore should not seek re-election in 2019.

Wike Promises To Serve Rivers People As He Marks Second Anniversary

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has reiterated his administration’s commitment in serving the people of the state.

He made this pledge on Saturday in an interview with journalists after projects inspection while celebrating the second anniversary of the Supreme Court Judgment validating his election as governor.

“We give God the glory, we give God all the honour because January 27, 2016, was when the Supreme Court gave us the nod as people who were duly elected with the people’s mandate,” he said.

“I am quite impressed by the kind of support we are getting from everywhere. We will not renege on our promises, we will not disappoint them. All we need is their prayer.
“We also commend the Supreme Court who has shown commitment to being the last hope of not only the common man but everybody.”

While thanking his people for their continuous support, Wike promised to continue using their mandate to develop the state.

The governor directed contractors handling rehabilitation of the Court of Appeal Complex, the National Industrial Court, the Produce House, the Mother and Child Hospital and the Cinemas/Restaurants at the Pleasure Park, May 2018 to complete the projects.

He expressed satisfaction with the pace of work at the different project sites, stressing that the administration will sustain the funding of all the projects.

Federer Wins First Set Of Australian Open Final

Roger Federer of Switzerland 
TONY ASHBY / AFP

Roger Federer won the first set of the Australian Open men’s final 6-2 against Marin Cilic as he attempts to claim a 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday.

With the roof closed on Rod Laver Arena due to extreme heat, the Swiss defending champion broke Cilic’s opening serve and again for a 3-0 lead and there was no way back for the sixth-seeded Croat.

The set was over in just 24 minutes.

AFP

US ‘Deeply Concerned’ Over China Detention Of Swede

US 'Not Concerned' With Short Term Dollar Value, Says Mnuchin
US President Donald Trump flanked by daughter Ivanka and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania on January 18, 2018. Mandel NGAN / AFP

The United States on Saturday expressed deep concern about the case of Hong Kong book publisher Gui Minhai, allegedly snatched by Chinese police while being accompanied by Swedish diplomats.

His disappearance has sparked a diplomatic row between Stockholm and Beijing.

“We are deeply concerned that Swedish citizen Gui Minhai was detained on January 20,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We call on Chinese authorities to explain the reasons and legal basis for Mr Gui’s arrest and detention, disclose his whereabouts, and allow him freedom of movement and the freedom to leave China.”

Gui’s daughter Angela Gui has said he was detained by around 10 plainclothes police while on a train to Beijing from the eastern city of Ningbo, where he was living, while accompanied by two Swedish diplomats.

He was going to see a Swedish doctor, she said.

On Wednesday the European Union ambassador to China called for Gui’s immediate release.

“The United States and our European partners are bound by shared principles of liberty, equality, and human dignity,” Nauert said.

Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for salacious titles about the lives of China’s political elite.

This is the second time he has been snatched.

He first went missing in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand and later resurfaced at an undisclosed location in China. Chinese authorities said they had released Gui in October.

Amnesty International has called his latest disappearance “absolutely appalling.”

AFP

PDP Remains The Only Relevant Party In Our Polity – Ologbondiyan

PDP’a National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan

About three years after being defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party remains the only relevant party in Nigeria’s political sphere, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, has said.

Ologbondiyan said this on Thursday when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“PDP remains the only relevant party in our polity today,” he said while refuting claims that the party feared a possible coalition ahead of the 2019 general elections.

This comes two days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek a second term in office.

In a scathing statement, Obasanjo told the President not to toy with the patience of Nigerians and urged him to in a dignified way dismount from the horse (seat of power).

But the PDP’s spokesman is of the view that his party cannot be compared with the APC.

According to him, his party has requisite experience of almost two decades that could be put to bear in revive Africa’s most populous nations of the numerous woes bedeviling the country.

In view of this, he appealed to Nigerians to give them a second chance as the party had learned from its past mistakes, which led to its defeat in 2015.

He added, “Having learned from its mistakes, it is offering itself to Nigerians and it has assured Nigerians that it would present to them credible candidates that understand Nigeria from which Nigerians can elect to govern them between 2019 to 2023.”

While supporting the former leader that Buhari should join the league of former Nigerian leaders, the party strongly kicked against the idea of forming a coalition of some other parties.

“It would be absolutely misplaced to draw a conclusion that we should begin to create a new party today. Is that going to help our polity? It is not going to strengthen our democracy and that is the position of the Peoples Democratic Party,” he said.

APC ‘Cooked Up Indices’ Won’t Help Buhari, Says PDP

Get Ready For Consequences, PDP Warns Splinter Group

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as “cooked up” the indices presented by the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled Federal Government as evidence of its achievements in strengthening Nigeria’s economy since it came to power in May 2015.

In a statement on Thursday, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said such indices would not be helpful to President Mohammadu Buhari.

The statement is in reaction to the defense put up by the Federal Government after former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticised President Buhari, his administration and the APC for failing Nigerians, especially when it comes to the economy, tackling nepotism and understanding the dynamics of internal politics in the country.

Obasanjo had in his statement on Tuesday which went viral warned President Buhari not to toy with the patience of Nigerians but should in a dignified way dismount from the horse (seat of power).

One day after, the Minister for Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, issued a statement to defend his principal.

Listing several areas in which he insisted the Buhari administration had recorded success in managing and strengthening the country’s economy, the minister accused the former President of failing to notice the achievement of the Federal Government under the pretext of being too busy.

But Mr Ologbondiyan accused the Federal Government of refusing to understand that the issues raised by Obasanjo were already trending in the minds of Nigerians and cannot be dismissed with doctored reports and half-truths.

While describing as highly unfortunate the very serious issues of deteriorating economy, incessant killings, fuel crisis, corruption in the corridors of power and absolute failure of governance as raised by Nigerians, the party’s scribe criticised the APC for resorting to ‘falsehood.’

The statement read in part: “It amounts to executive rascality for the APC Federal Government to use its Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to falsely claim that the economy, which it wrecked, has come out of recession, when the glaring reality shows skyrocketing costs, soaring unemployment rate, unabating closure of businesses as well as accumulation of foreign and domestic debts.

“In its attempt to further hoodwink Nigerians, the Federal Government through the minister of information cleverly stated that the nation’s Foreign Reserves had risen to $40bn, while covering the fact presented by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that our foreign debt has also escalated to $15.2bn under APC’s misrule.

“This is also a government whose domestic debt profile has scared many contractors off their sites and forcing millions of Nigerians into the labour market while development projects initiated by the PDP across the nation remains stagnated.”

‘I Want To See A Strong Dollar,’ Says Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before a meeting in the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

President Donald Trump waded into the uproar over the US currency Thursday, saying he wants to see “a strong dollar,” after comments by his Treasury secretary appeared to signal the opposite and sent the dollar plunging to three-year lows.

In comments to CNBC, Trump said Steven Mnuchin’s remarks a day earlier, which seemed to favor a weak dollar to help US exporters, “were taken out of context.”

“Ultimately, I want to see a strong dollar,” Trump said, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

That comment sparked a rally in the greenback which had hit a three-year low against the euro earlier in the day, although it was still off about 11 percent from before Mnuchin’s remarks on Wednesday.

“I think they were taken out of context, because I read his exact statement,” Trump said about Mnuchin.

In a nod to the sensitivity of currency markets to any such statements from officials, Trump added: “I don’t like talking about it because frankly nobody should be talking about it.”

Having stated that “obviously a weaker dollar is good for us,” Trump’s Treasury secretary also tried to clarify his comments on Thursday, saying he was not signaling any change in US policy which traditionally has favored a strong dollar.

“I thought my comment on the dollar was actually quite clear… we are not concerned with where the dollar is in the short term,” Mnuchin told reporters.

AFP

Mourinho Signs Contract Extension At Man Utd

(File Copy) Manchester United, Jose Mourinho                                                         Photo Credit: AFP

Jose Mourinho has signed a contract extension at Manchester United that will keep him at Old Trafford until at least 2020, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

Mourinho became the first United manager in history to win a major trophy in his first season when he secured the League Cup last year, and he also led the club to victory in the Europa League, the only competition they had never won.

United are a distant second in the Premier League to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season but are still in the FA Cup and the Champions League.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the owners and to (executive vice-chairman) Mr (Ed) Woodward for the recognition of my hard work and dedication. I am delighted they feel and trust that I am the right manager for this great club for the foreseeable future,” said Mourinho.

“We have set very high standards — winning three trophies in one season (including the Community Shield) — but those are the standards I expect my teams to aim for. We are creating the conditions for a brilliant and successful future for Manchester United.”

Mourinho, who was appointed in May 2016 on a three-year deal, replaced Louis van Gaal with a brief to return the club to the pinnacle of the English game.

The 20-time league champions have not won the Premier League title since Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge in 2012-13.

 Workrate 

Woodward said the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss, whose new deal includes an option for a further year, had already achieved a great deal in his time at Old Trafford.

“His workrate and professionalism are exceptional and he has embraced the club’s desire to promote top quality young players to the first team,” said Woodward.

“He has brought an energy and a sense of purpose to everything that he does and I am sure that will continue to bring results for the fans and the club.”

Earlier this month Mourinho dismissed reports he may walk out on United this coming close season as “garbage”.

Mourinho had looked an unhappy figure as United’s title bid faltered and they suffered a shock League Cup exit at Championship side Bristol City.

There had been suggestions that Mourinho was disappointed at the relative lack of spending power at his disposal, claims which he also denied.

And Mourinho was upset at suggestions that his decision to live in a hotel, rather than finding a home in Manchester, was a sign of a lack of professionalism or commitment to the job.

Earlier this week United signed Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to add to their well-stocked forward line featuring the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.

Sanchez, who had previously been strongly linked with a move to Manchester City, is in the squad to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday

AFP

Oprah Winfrey Denies Nursing Presidential Ambition

Actress and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey poses with the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 75th Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California.
Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

Chat show icon Oprah Winfrey has brushed off speculation she might run for US president in 2020, saying in an interview published Thursday she lacks “the DNA for it.”

When Winfrey delivered a rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this month it rekindled longstanding speculation over the billionaire’s political ambitions — and a possible run for the Oval Office.

Some Democrats — still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s shock loss to Donald Trump — have embraced the idea of having their own celebrity candidate the next time around.

But in an interview with InStyle, carried out three weeks before the Globes and published in the fashion magazine’s March issue, the 63-year-old downplayed the idea of a presidential run, saying: “That’s not for me.”

“I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not,” said the self-made entertainment tycoon.

“And so it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it,” she added.

It was unclear whether the enthusiastic response to her Globes speech — after which anonymous friends of the chat show queen were reported as saying she was “actively thinking” about a 2020 run — may have brought a change of heart.

Winfrey went on in the interview to voice optimism about the current political US political climate.

“I think what’s exciting is this moment in our political history, in our social engagement,” she said.

“It’s really opened a lot of people to the fact that they have a voice, and it’s gotten people involved in ways that they never would’ve been before.”

Winfrey, the first black woman to own a television network, also reflected on the wave of sexual misconduct allegations gripping the worlds of entertainment, media and politics — the core of her Globes speech, in which she heralded a “new day” following the watershed.

“It has seared into the consciousness a level of awareness that was not there before,” she told InStyle.

“That’s the most important thing to me. When Reese Witherspoon can tell her story at the same time as a farm worker in Iowa or a factory worker in Alabama … You can see you’re not alone.”

AFP

Zimbabwe Varsity Posts Grace Mugabe’s Suspect Ph. D. Thesis

(FILES) Zimbabwe former President’s wife Grace Mugabe 
ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP

Zimbabwe’s leading university has published the thesis submitted by former first lady Grace Mugabe, who was controversially awarded a doctorate which is now the subject of a fraud investigation.

Grace, whose apparent desire to succeed her 93-year-old husband prompted last year’s army takeover that eventually saw Robert Mugabe resign, was awarded a PhD by the University of Zimbabwe in 2014 after just months of study.

Doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing.

“We saw the thesis on the website (late Wednesday)… the question is why it took four years to publish,” said Ashley Munetsi, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union.

Zimbabwean anti-corruption investigators said last month they are probing whether Grace fraudulently obtained the degree.

“This is an obvious cover-up and we are not going to rest until the matter is settled. We are calling on the vice-chancellor to account for the degree,” said Munetsi.

“If it’s found out that the degree was fraudulently awarded, it should be revoked to protect the integrity of the university.”

AFP has seen a copy of the 226-page doctoral thesis, titled “The Changing Social Structure and Functions of the Family”.

‘My brain child’ 

The work, submitted under Grace’s maiden name, was dedicated to “the President of Zimbabwe Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe because of his dedication and commitment to the well-being of Zimbabweans”.

In the 80,000-word submission, Grace goes into detail about a children’s home that bears her name.

“The home was my brain child. The main objective was to provide care for the abandoned, orphaned and vulnerable children,” she wrote.

Robert Mugabe resigned as president on November 21, a few days after the military took control of the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president days later and both Robert and Grace have kept low profiles since their spectacular reversal of fortune.

During the height of the upheaval, students at UZ boycotted their end of term exams to call for Grace to be stripped of her PhD and Robert to be stripped of the presidency.

Grace was routinely accused of extravagant spending on luxury clothes and international travel, and of involvement in corrupt land deals. She is popularly known as “Gucci Grace”, “The First Shopper” or even “DisGrace”.

AFP

Palestinians Reject Pressure From Trump

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C) 
ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

The Palestinians rejected US President Donald Trump’s fresh threat to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid on Thursday, with a senior official labelling him an “oppressor”.

Trump said in Davos the Palestinians had “disrespected” the United States by refusing to meet with his Vice President Mike Pence.

A spokesman for president Mahmud Abbas said they would not meet with the US administration until it withdrew its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Another senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, said “not meeting your oppressor is not a sign of disrespect; it is a sign of self-respect.”

AFP

Mourinho Wary Of Adding Fuel To Ronaldo ‘Fire’

mourinho
(File Copy) Jose Mourinho Photo Credit: AFP

Jose Mourinho said Cristiano Ronaldo was the kind of player every manager would want in their squad amid speculation the Real Madrid forward could be on his way back to Old Trafford.

The Portugal international, 32, has been linked with a return to Manchester United and Mourinho has stated previously he intends to make a big signing ahead of next season.

Reports in Spain claim Ronaldo will join United if Real are able to persuade Brazil forward Neymar to move from Paris Saint-Germain.

United sold Ronaldo to Real for a then-world record £80 million ($114 million, 92 million euros) in July 2009 and while Mourinho did not want to heighten speculation, he gave United fans a glimmer of hope on Thursday.

“I think at the moment Real Madrid is with him now. I think I should be the last one to add some fuel to the fire,” the United manager said.

“Madrid is on fire. The results are not good, and it’s a club where I worked for three years, I care about the club and I am the last one to add fire.

“So to put some water on the fire I think Cristiano is the kind of player that every manager wants, every club wants,” the Portuguese boss added.

“But only one manager can, only one club can have — (Zinedine) Zidane and Real Madrid, that’s my feeling.

“We want to improve all the time and get better and better. We want to achieve big things. We are not going to stop until we do that.”

Mourinho meanwhile believes Alexis Sanchez has left a “fantastic club for a giant club” as he prepares to hand him a United debut against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup on Friday.

The Chile forward, 29, joined United from Arsenal in a swap deal which saw Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the opposite direction.

Sanchez will be United’s squad for Friday’s fourth-round tie at Huish Park and Mourinho could not resist a veiled dig at Arsene Wenger’s side as he considered the merits of the transfer.

“Manchester United made a fantastic deal,” Mourinho said.

“I think Arsenal also made a fantastic deal… I got a fantastic player, and Mr Wenger got a fantastic player.

“Alexis changed from a fantastic club to a giant club. Henrikh Mkhitaryan changed also to a fantastic club. So I think it was a great deal for everyone.”

AFP