Nigeria Wins Five Medals In Algeria

 

Nigeria’s contingent to the All Africa Individual Badminton Championship, won five medals comprising of three silver and two bronze medals.

The team is expected to return to the country on Tuesday.

Nigeria finished second in both the men and women’s event losing to host Algeria in the men’s final and Mauritius in the women’s final.

19 countries and 86 players took part in the men’s singles event while the women’s category had 14 countries and 59 participants.

Kano Pillars Defender, Chinedu Udoji Is Dead

 

Kano Pillars have confirmed the death of their defender, Chinedu Udoji.

Udoji, 28, was involved in a car accident on Sunday night while returning from visiting his former teammates at Enyimba, after the 1-1 draw against Pillars at the Sani Abacha Stadium.

The incident occurred along the club road in Kano state.

Udoji spent five seasons at Enyimba and captained the team for five years from 2009 -2016, helping the club to win two league titles, 2 Federation cups and reaching the semi-final of the CAF Champions League.

He joined the Kano Pillars in 2016.

Week In Review: More Sorrows, Controversial Reinstatement And The ‘Money-Swallowing-Snake’

 

It was a rather interesting week for Nigerians with several events stirring conversations from politics down to the entertainment scene.

The Mysterious Snake

Launching the week, was the news of a missing sum of N36 million (in cash) from the office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in Makurdi, the Benue state capital.

However, the dramatic twist to the story came when an account’s clerk in the office who was being questioned over the missing cash, could not account for it and rather blamed its disappearance on a “mysterious snake”.

 

 

She said her housemaid and a fellow employee had confessed to using the snake to ‘spiritually’ steal the monies she kept in an office vault – a story many Nigerians found not only ridiculous but hilarious.

Before now, JAMB candidates purchased scratch cards from JAMB state offices and other designated centres, to gain access to the Board’s website for either registration or to check their admission status but reforms were introduced by JAMB registrar Ishaq Oloyede when he assumed office in 2016.

He ended the use of scratch cards, replacing it with more efficient and effective platforms.

In reaction to the news, however, JAMB described the case as that of pure criminality and fraud on the part of the staff and promised to get to the bottom of it.

Ever since, social media went agog even as a handle was created for the ‘mysterious snake’ and a lot of hilarious comments have trailed the matter while everyone waits to see how it will be resolved. Read More Here

Governor Okorocha And The Statues

Another topic that caught the interest of many was the statue of former South African President Jacob Zuma, which remains boldly erected in Imo state, despite his ‘bowing out’ of office in the course of the week.

The Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha had unveiled Zuma’s statue in October 2017 – One of the several gigantic structures erected by the state government in honour of renowned African leaders and other distinguished individuals.

The development was, however, received with much criticism, especially from Imo residents some of whom claimed that the government was yet to pay workers’ salaries but was rather giving priority to “less important matters”.

With Zuma announcing his immediate resignation on Wednesday after the ruling ANC party threatened to eject him from office via a parliamentary vote of no confidence, more criticisms trailed the erection of his statue in Imo state.

The frustration of many was based mainly on the fact that the former President, whose reputation has been stained by years-long allegations of graft, was, however, being “celebrated” in Nigeria as seen in the honorary gesture of Governor Okorocha.

Zuma’s statue at the Heroes Square in Imo state.

 

Some aggrieved Nigerians did not hesitate to take a swipe at the governor via Twitter with some rather hilarious comments. Read More Here

Despite the backlash from social media users, President Muhammadu Buhari as well as some other top government officials, believe Mr Zuma had leadership qualities that were worthy of note and have wished him well in his endeavours.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, President Buhari said: “The Nigerian leader salutes the leadership and statesmanship of former President Jacob Zuma, and wishes him the best in his future endeavours.

Zamfara Massacre

While Nigerians have built a reputation of being able to see the ray of hope in every situation by making light of it, one issue that has remained a source of increased pain is the mass massacre of citizens by Fulani herdsmen, a menace that some say is fast growing into full-blown terrorism.

From the start of the year, it has been from one attack to the other and many families have been thrown into mourning, with the most recent case being that of Zamfara state in which at least 18 residents were killed. Read more here.

File photo of a woman crying in after an attack on Adamawa community by gunmen.

 

Nigerians including Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State and Senator Shehu Sani in the wake of the attack took to their Twitter handle to lament the spate of killings in various parts of the country birthing a trend #ZamfaraMassacre.

In reaction to the killings, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan Ali (Rtd), to proceed immediately to the state to undertake an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and report back.

He also ordered the security agencies to immediately mobilise and deploy their members to the vulnerable areas of the state, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to face the full wrath of the law.

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has, however, continued to throw criticisms at the leadership of the APC even as the 2019 elections draw closer. Read More Here

In a statement issued on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP once again accused the Federal Government of failing to live up to the responsibility of securing the lives of the people.

This also comes amidst agitations over the anti-open grazing law and the Federal Government’s proposed plan to establish colonies in different parts of the country to prevent cattle from straying.

Some have blamed the rising massacre on the implementation of the anti-open grazing law but on the other hand, the Federal Government’s proposed policy of establishing grazing locations to curb the menace; (what some have termed as colonies), has received major criticism.

While the anti-open grazing law remains enforced in some states like Ekiti and Benue, the common hope of many Nigerians is that whatever decision the Federal Government eventually comes to, is one that is able to bring a stop to the mass killings.

NHIS Boss Reinstated

Also during the course of the week, the President reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mr Usman Yusuf, who was earlier suspended by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, for alleged gross misconduct. Read More Here

This comes weeks after a similar case of reinstatement involving the chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The controversy, which saw top government officials trade blames, poked holes in the Federal Government’s efforts in winning the anti-graft war.

Yet again, with the recent case, President Buhari came under criticism as many questioned the administration’s ability to root out corrupt officers.

He, however, believes that the reinstatement does not stop any ongoing investigations into the allegations levelled against Mr Yusuf.

Soyinka Blasts Buhari

The criticisms didn’t stop there. Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, noted that the ‘errors’ by the Buhari-led administration were becoming too many and this made him question if the President was in a trance.

Wole Soyinka

 

Addressing journalists in Lagos on Tuesday, Soyinka said if he met President Buhari face to face, “I will say to him, Mr President, I think you are under a trance.

“Too many things are happening now which made me say that. I think he is under a trance,” Soyinka said. Read More Here

Making reference to the reinstatement of the NHIS boss, he added that the sooner the President got out of the trance, the better for the nation.

His comments come few week after Former President Olusegun Obasanjo released a special statement in which he equally blasted the President, pointed out the failures of his administration and advised him not to seek re-election in 2019.

‘Wakanda Fever’

The week, however, ended on a more cheery note in the movie industry with Marvel’s Black Panther hitting Nigerian cinemas, just in time for the Valentines celebration.

Celebrities, movie lovers and supporters of the “black movement” applauded all those whose efforts contributed to making the movie a success and the hashtag #Wakandaforever quickly became a thing.

Channels Television’s Entertainment News caught up with Nigerian Singer and Actor, Ayoola Ayobami at the Lagos screening of the movie on February 13 and he shared his thoughts on the movie, including the fact that he wished he was also a part of the cast.

Ayoola

“I envy everyone who has been a part of this project, it’s a healthy envy though (he laughed). For the rest of their lives, this goes on, on their resume that “I was part of the team that brought African Superheroes to the forefront”.

“I wish I was part of it but I’m sure there are other histories that we can be part of,” he said. Read More Here

The highly anticipated movie which tells the tales of an African country from the perspective of affluence, light age development and technology was welcomed with unconditional approval.

More exciting for some fans was the fact that Nigerian actors Sope Akuko (Female) and, Femi Olagoke (Male) and others were among the cast.

The movie which has been described as the world’s biggest black superhero film, also came in time for the celebration of the Black History Month and many are optimistic that things can only get better from here, as blacks work towards reaching more milestones.

UPDATED: 66 Feared Dead As Plane Crashes In Iran Mountains

 

All 66 people on board an Iranian passenger plane were feared dead after it crashed Sunday into the country’s Zagros mountains, with emergency services struggling to locate the wreckage in blizzard conditions.

Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 disappeared from radar around 45 minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, the airline’s public relations chief Mohammad Tabatabai told state broadcaster IRIB.

It was the third disaster to strike Iran in recent months, after an earthquake that killed at least 620 people in Kermanshah in November and 30 Iranian sailors were lost in an oil tanker collision off China’s coast last month.

The ATR-72 twin-engine plane, in service for 25 years, left the capital at around 8:00 am (0430 GMT) and was heading towards the city of Yasuj, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the south.

After conflicting reports on fatalities and the location of the crash, officials said rescue teams were still not able to find the wreckage.

“We still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers,” Tabatabai told the ISNA news agency.

He said the plane was carrying 60 passengers, including one child, as well as six crew.

Jalal Pooranfar, regional head for Iran’s emergency services, told the ISNA news agency that rescue and relief teams had been sent to the possible area of the crash.

“But the helicopter could not continue its path due to snow and blizzard,” he said.

Seyed Noor Mohammad Mousavi, head of the local Red Crescent office, told the IRNA news agency a drone had been dispatched to help find the wreckage.

A total of 120 people from 30 different emergency teams were sent to help with the search, another Red Crescent official said.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent a message of condolence, saying the news had “left our hearts overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow”, according to state television.

Ageing Fleets

Families of the passengers gathered at a mosque near Mehrabad airport.

“I can’t bring myself to believe it,” said a woman whose husband was on board.

A man who missed the doomed flight told reporters of his mixed emotions.

“God has been really kind to me but I am so sad from the bottom of my heart for all those dear ones who lost their lives,” the unnamed man told the Tabnak news website, which showed a picture of his unused ticket.

Decades of diplomatic isolation have left Iran’s airlines with ageing fleets of passenger planes which they have struggled to maintain and modernise.

Aseman’s fleet includes at least three ATR-72s that date back to the early 1990s, according to the IRNA news agency.

A spokesman for ATR, which is part-owned by Europe’s Airbus, told AFP “the circumstances of the accident remain unknown” and that international investigators were ready to assist Iran “if needed”.

President Hassan Rouhani ordered the transport ministry to set up a crisis group to investigate the crash and coordinate rescue efforts, ISNA reported.

Aseman’s three Boeing 727-200s are almost as old as the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution, having made their first flights the following year.

Iran has suffered multiple aviation disasters, most recently in 2014 when 39 people were killed when a Sepahan Airlines plane crashed just after take-off from Tehran, narrowly avoiding many more deaths when it plummeted near a busy market.

Lifting sanctions on aviation purchases was a key clause in the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.
Following the deal, Aseman Airlines finalised an agreement to buy 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets for $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) last June, with an option to buy 30 more.

However, the sale could be scuppered if US President Donald Trump chooses to reimpose sanctions in the coming months, as he has threatened to do.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences over Sunday’s crash, just moments after he launched a blistering attack on Tehran’s government.

“I take this opportunity to send condolences to the families of the 66 civilians that lost their lives,” Netanyahu said at the Munich Security Conference.

“We have no quarrel with the people of Iran, only with the regime that torments them,” he added.

The US Treasury Department, which must approve aviation sales to Iran, has done so for 80 Boeing jets and 100 Airbus planes for national carrier Iran Air.

The first few Airbus jets have already arrived in Tehran.

In Pictures: Thousands Of Defectors Join APC in Niger

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has added more weight to its membership as over 34,000 defectors joined the party in Niger state.

The new members from various parties, converged in Minna, the state capital to endorse President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Sani Bello to run for a second term.

Also present at the rally were National Woman Leader of the APC, Ramatu Tijjani, the state APC Chairman, Jibrin Imam, the state governor, as well as other top government officials.

Supporters Endorse Buhari, Governor Bello For Second Term

Supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger state have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Sani Bello to run for a second term.

At the party rally held in Minna, the state capital, the party also received some of the 34,826 persons said to have defected from various political parties.

The National Woman Leader of the APC, Ramatu Tijjani, who received the defectors, on behalf of the National Chairman, Mr John Oyegun, believes the massive defection from other parties to the APC is an indication of the party’s general acceptance by the people.

Also on ground to receive the decamped members was the state APC Chairman, Jibrin Imam.

No Cause For Alarm, Our Country Is In Safe Hands – Lai Mohammed Tells Nigerians

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has said that there is no cause for alarm as Nigeria is in safe and competent hands with President Muhammadu Buhari piloting the affairs of the country.

The Minister made this known on Saturday at a town hall meeting with the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and a cross section of Nigerians living in the European country on Saturday, a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi said.

He said contrary to the fake news being peddled on the Social Media, Nigeria is making steady progress, especially in revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and fighting corruption – the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration.

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Social Media. Nigeria is neither at war nor in crisis.

“Contrary to what you may be reading on the Internet, the Buhari Administration is putting Nigeria on a solid footing, after the years that were eaten by the locust,” Mr Mohammed said.

The Minister accused naysayers of spending millions of Naira to distort the true situation of things in Nigeria and to make the Administration look bad.

He, however, stressed that the administration’s achievements should be evaluated against the backdrop of the tough challenges that it has faced since coming into office in 2015.

Lamenting some of the challenges, he said: “Unpaid pensions had run into billions of Naira in many states, contractors had abandoned sites across the country because they were being heavily owed, infrastructure was in poor state, power generation was 2,690 megawatts, billions were being paid as ‘fuel subsidies’ to fat cats, corruption was the order of the day, while 20 of the 27 local governments in Borno were under the firm control of Boko Haram”.

But all this according to him, is being reversed, and the results are now showing.

“Foreign reserves is now $42.8b, the highest level in four years, inflation has fallen for 12 consecutive months to 15.13%, 108 billion Naira has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks before Treasury Single Account (TSA), the nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA and the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation 120 billion Naira.

”With improved macro-economic conditions, capital inflow is on the upswing, reaching $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, which is almost double the $908 million in the first quarter, Nigeria’s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent, Nigeria jumped 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world,” he said.

The Minister also listed some other achievements such as the Administration’s agricultural revolution which according to him, is moving Nigeria close to self-sufficiency in many staples, especially rice.

He also noted that the home-Grown School Feeding Programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks, and is providing 6.4 million school children in 33,981 schools across 20 states with one meal a day.

Mr Mohammed, therefore, urged Nigerians, especially those in diaspora to download the FGN-iAPP in order to get authentic news about happenings in the country.

FAAN Apologizes To Airline, Passengers As Cows Invade Akure Airport

 

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has tendered an apology to Air Peace Airlines and its passengers for a runway incursion incident that prevented an Akure airport bound flight from landing for some minutes.

Cows were said to have invaded the runway on Saturday, preventing the aircraft from landing.

However, shortly after, normalcy was restored and the aircraft was able to land safely.

The agency which lists safety, security and comfort as its core values, therefore, pleaded with the passengers and assured the general public that there would be no recurrence of such.

A statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs (FAAN), Henrietta Yakubu, read: “FAAN wishes to apologize to Air Peace Airlines and our esteemed passengers for a runway incursion incident that prevented an Akure airport bound flight from landing for some minutes.

“The Air Peace flight, which left Lagos for Akure could not land immediately as some cows had strayed into the runway of the airport.

“However, normalcy was restored quickly, as officers of the aviation security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway and the aircraft was cleared for landing.

“The Authority will like to assure travellers and the general public that efforts are already ongoing to close the gap that aided this incident”.

Read Also: We’ve Seen Too Much Blood! Nigerians Lament Killings After Zamfara Attack

This comes amidst agitations over the anti-open grazing law and the Federal Government’s proposed plan to establish colonies in different parts of the country to prevent cattle from straying.

It also comes at a time when Nigerians are aggrieved over the rising massacre of innocent farmers and villagers in parts of the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Some have blamed the rising massacre on the implementation of the anti-open grazing law but on the other hand, the Federal Government’s proposed policy of establishing grazing locations to curb the menace; (what some have termed as colonies), has received major criticism.

While the anti-open grazing law remains enforced in some states like Ekiti and Benue, the common hope of many Nigerians is that whatever decision the Federal Government eventually comes to, is one that is able to bring a stop to the mass killings which some say is gradually growing into an act of terrorism.

Isola Played His Part Meritoriously, Exited Gloriously – Ajimobi

 

The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has described the death of the renowned playwright, Professor Akinwunmi Isola, as a colossal loss not only to his immediate family but to Oyo state, the Yoruba race and the world at large.

Isola, aged 78, died a sudden death on Saturday (February 18) in his Akobo residence in Ibadan.

In a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Mr Yomi Layinka, Ajimobi said that he received the news of the death of the Ibadan-born culture ambassador and progenitor of Yoruba literature with disbelief and utter shock.

He, however, praised the septuagenarian, saying that in his lifetimes, he played his part meritoriously and had now gloriously exited to be with his maker.

The governor said that the state had lost a venerated son of the soil, who devoted his life to the promotion of Yoruba culture through his creative works and huge contributions to the global body of knowledge.

Listing some of the works such as ‘Efunsetan Aniwura,’ a play written by him while he was a student at the University of Ibadan, the governor described it as one that remained a timeless piece in teaching lessons on abuse of power and retribution.

He also described his epic novel, ‘O leku,’ as evergreen.

“The late Prof. Ishola was also a blessing to his Alma Mata, Wesley College, Ibadan, because he composed the school anthem, which is still in use till date.

“He was a man of many parts. Not only was he a prolific writer, but he was also a talented actor and astute broadcaster who churned out many plays, drama series and box office films.

“Prof Akinwumi Isola was an unabashed believer in the promotion of the Yoruba language, which he once demonstrated by being the first person to deliver a university convocation lecture in Yoruba at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, which was very unconventional.

“But, in the words of William Shakespeare ‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;

“They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.’ Baba has played his parts and he has exited gloriously. A ku ara fe ra ku.”

The governor sympathised with the family of the late literary giant and prayed that the Lord grants his soul a peaceful rest and his family, as well as the creative and literary communities, the fortitude to bear the loss.

NNPC Surveillance Team Intercepts Diverted Petroleum Product In Katsina

 

Operatives of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) surveillance team on petroleum products monitoring set up by the Inspector General of Police, Ibraheem Idris, intercepted a truck loaded with 40,000 litres of PMS.

The Head Downstream of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Kaduna zone, Yahaya Maishera, told reporters that the surveillance team intercepted the truck along the Funtua-Gusau road in Katsina state, while on its way to neighbouring Zamfara state.

According to him, the products, from a depot in Lagos were meant to be supplied in Gombe state as part of efforts to cushion the effect of the scarcity, but were rather being diverted to Zamfara state by suspected independent marketers.

To serve as a deterrent to other unscrupulous marketers, the DPR therefore, ordered that the tanker be brought back from Futua to Kaduna.

It also ordered that the product be discharged at an NNPC mega station in Mando area of the state capital, where it will be sold to the public at the government approved pump price of N145 per litre.

This comes weeks after the DPR raised an alarm that petroleum products were being diverted by independent marketers to unknown filling stations, making it difficult to end the petrol scarcity, the worst that the nation has experienced in a many years.

Amidst the lingering scarcity across the country, the DPR and PPMC have reassured residents of Kaduna and other states in the north that they will intensify surveillance on supply and sale of products to ensure that the scarcity is brought to an end as soon as possible.

Djokovic Invites Lookalike Olympic Winner For Get-together

Combination photo made on February 18, 2018 shows France’s snowboard cross gold medallist during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Pierre Vaultier (L) and Serbia’s tennis player Novak Djokovic. Novak Djokovic congratulted Pierre Vaultier via Twitter and invited him at Roland Garros responding to a wish expressed by Pierre Vaultier during a French TV show. Dimitar DILKOFF, Paul CROCK / AFP

 

Tennis ace Novak Djokovic has invited French lookalike Winter Olympic champion Pierre Vaultier for a get-together after the snowboard gold medalist noted the resemblance between the two men.

Vaultier told French TV he was a fan of Djokovic and had always wanted to meet the Serbian former world number one.
Djokovic responded swiftly on Twitter with an invitation to the French Open at Roland Garros.

“@pierre vaultier let’s make it happen. See you at RG (Roland Garros)! And congratulations on your Olympic medal(s)!”

Vaultier said the likeness between himself and the tall, dark Djokovic had been raised in the past and added: “When I am watching him play, his expressions and his intonation, I feel like I am watching myself.”

The 30-year-old Vaultier won the Olympic snowboard cross gold in Pyeongchang on Thursday, retaining the title he won in Sochi four years earlier.

The French Open tennis championships will take place at Roland Garros from May 27 to June 10.

Trump Slams FBI Over School Shooting, Blames Preoccupation With Russia Probe

Trump Says 'No Collusion' After Russians Indicted For Election Meddling
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump slammed the FBI Saturday for failing to heed signs that could have prevented the Florida school shooting, charging the agency was too preoccupied with probing his campaign team over Russian election meddling.

Allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and collusion with the Trump campaign are being investigated by several congressional committees and by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who took charge of the federal government’s probe from the FBI last year following the sacking of its former chief James Comey.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.

“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Troubled teen Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people with an assault rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday.

It was the 18th school shooting of the year and sparked renewed calls for gun control.

US authorities have come under mounting scrutiny for failing to act on a series of warning signs.

The FBI admitted Friday it received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said Cruz could be planning a mass shooting, but the agency failed to follow up.

Cruz was also known to local police after his mother repeatedly reported him for violent outbursts, while records obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel show authorities investigated him in 2016 after he cut his arms on messaging app Snapchat and threatened to buy a gun.

Mueller’s investigation has so far swept up four members of Trump’s campaign, with two agreeing to work for the probe under a plea deal.

On Thursday Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly running a secret campaign to tilt the vote, but did not accuse any Americans of knowingly participating in that effort.