The raging terror attacks by fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, in northern Nigeria have made the Brazilian national team cancel a planned high-profile friendly match with the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles were due to play the former world champions in Nigeria during a FIFA friendly window in September but the recent bombings have forced the Brazilians to reconsider their proposed visit to Nigeria.
The Brazilian FA is reported to have settled for the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, but the match will be played either in Brazil or the USA on September 7.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) however said the Nigeria versus Brazil friendly would still hold as planned. An official of the football body told PUNCH Newspaper that the organisers had not given up on bringing the Samba Boys to Nigeria.
“The friendly has not been cancelled; the organisers are still hopeful of sorting out a few details in order to bring the Brazilians to Nigeria. It is actually Guinness, the Match arrangement and the agent that is putting the match together is confident it will hold,” the NFF official said.
Nigeria is looking to play a high-profile friendlies as coach Stephen Keshi continue to strengthen the team ahead of their crucial qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup.
Cancelled league games
The bombings in the north have also affected the hosting of league matches in the region. The Nigeria Premier League was forced to suspend the Week 28 match between Jigawa Golden Stars and Ocean Boys indefinitely due to the crisis in Kaduna. Both sides were scheduled to play in Jigawa on Wednesday.
Ocean Boys were forced to return to Abuja on Tuesday when they turned back from their journey to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa State.
The new date for the match has yet to be decided by the NPL.
President Goodluck Jonathan has given the assurance that the Federal Government is working very hard to overcome Nigeria’s current security challenges.
The president made this known at an interactive session he had in Rio de Janeiro with members of the Nigerian community in Brazil.
President Jonathan is in Brazil to attend the on-going United Nations Earth Summit on Sustainable Development, tagged Rio+20.
Dr Jonathan stated that the first person he called when he arrived in Brazil was the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) in order to be abreast with developments in the troubled Kaduna and Yobe states.
“We have challenges, but they are not insurmountable. We remain fully focused and committed to national development in spite of sponsored lies against this administration” he said.
“We are ready to work together with all of our people to move the country forward. We will work even harder to place concrete realities on the ground that will further prove our sincerity and commitment to all Nigerians,” he pledged.
The President noted that the earlier individuals and groups, especially opposition politicians stopped playing politics with every decision of government, the better for the country.
“One of the problems we have is that some Nigerians play politics with everything, but we cannot destroy our country because of personal political ambitions” he said.
“We now have a constitutional democracy and no one can stay in office forever. It will therefore be best for our nation if we all support whoever is there for the development of the country instead of trying to pull him down by all means.”
Nothing to lose
Meanwhile the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, to the President Dr. Reuben Abati, has also stated that the nation has nothing to lose with the president’s attendance of the summit in Brazil.
Dr Abati on the side-line of the Rio+20 Summit expressed his displeasure on the criticism that has trailed the president’s departure from the country to PUNCH Newspapers.
“It is as if there is nothing you can do to please our people. It is not that Nigeria is going to lose anything by Mr. President’s presence here rather; the country is going to gain a lot from his presence” he stated.
According to Dr Abati, the president is in Brazil “serving the interest of Nigerians; it is not as if he has abandoned his responsibilities.” “The crisis in Kaduna and Yobe occurred almost on the eve of the President’s departure for this event and commitments have been made.”
The aide also noted that the president’s presence in Brazil for Rio+20 summit at a time violence broke out in Kaduna and Yobe states does not mean the President has abandoned his responsibility, adding that the president met with security chiefs before he left the country and he was confident that security agencies were on top of the situation.
He further explained that the president needed to attend the conference because of its importance to Nigeria and because commitments had already been made on his attendance, adding that his presence at the summit was in the best interest of the country.
“The conference, Rio+20, is very important and nobody can doubt that. The issues that will be discussed at this conference are also issues that are relevant to Nigeria’s interest. It is also an opportunity for Nigeria to promote its interest in terms of its place in global community” he said.
Dr Abati noted that security agencies are aptly handling the situation, saying that “in any event, it is not as if the government has abandoned the situation at home. Security agencies are there, they are on top of the situation.”
“Before the President left, he met with security chiefs. The business of leadership cannot just stop because there is a crisis there” he added.
He appealed to the opposition not to always play politics with everything, as he claimed that “if the President had refused to come to Rio, the same persons (opposition parties) will turn around and say that there is an important conference attended by world leaders and the Nigerian President stayed away from it.”
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday urged Nigerian politicians not to sacrifice the progress and well-being of the nation on the altar of personal political ambitions. Addressing members of the Nigerian Community in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil soon after his arrival for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, President Jonathan said that Nigeria will definitely make faster progress towards fulfilling its immense potentials if all Nigerians unite in support of the efforts of his administration to positively transform the country.
“One of the problems we have is that some Nigerians play politics with everything, but we cannot destroy our country because of personal political ambitions,” the President said while denouncing the incessant and often unjustifiable criticism of his Administration, much of which, he said, was based on lies.
“We now have a constitutional democracy and no one can stay in office forever. It will therefore be best for our nation if we all support whoever is there for the development of the country instead of trying to pull him down by all means,” he said.
The president assured the gathering that the Federal Government was working very hard to overcome Nigeria’s current security challenges.
“We have challenges, but they are not insurmountable. We remain fully focused and committed to national development in spite of sponsored lies against this administration. We are ready to work together with all of our people to move the country forward. We will work even harder to place concrete realities on the ground that will further prove our sincerity and commitment to all Nigerians”, he pledged.
Thanking members of the Nigerian Community for assembling from all parts of Brazil to receive him in Rio De Janeiro, President Jonathan said that his administration will continue to count on the support of Nigerians in the Diaspora for its efforts to build a better nation.
“It is generally known and acknowledged that Nigeria has a very robust Diaspora and we will continue to explore ways of harnessing your skills and talents for the development of our fatherland,” the President said.
He informed the Nigerian Community that he will meet with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil on the sidelines of the Rio + 20 Summit to discuss the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Brazil, including the strengthening of trade and economic relations, as well as a prisoner exchange programme that could benefit Nigerians unfortunately imprisoned in the South American country.
The Federal government has berated the criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan’s trip to Brazil, declaring that the president’s absence does not amount to negligent of duties.
According to the Minister of information, Labaran Maku who briefed state house correspondents at the end of Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, “the president can rule from anywhere in the world.”
The Minister added that despite the president’s absence, there is no vacuum in government.
The weekly FEC meeting was presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
Despite the raging violence in Kaduna and Yobe States which has claimed close to 100 lives, President Jonathan departed for Rio de Janeiro, on Tuesday, to attend the United Nations’ Earth Summit, RIO+20.
A dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed in Kaduna state and in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital, keeping residents in doors for two days, as security agents battle to restore peace.
The president wass accompanied by his wife, two governors and a number of Ministers.
A wide range of criticism has greeted the president’s trip to the earth summit, with opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), describing the trip as the height of insensitivity and confused leadership.
“The decision by the President to travel two days after dozens of innocent Nigerians, including women and children, were killed or maimed by suicide bombers in Kaduna state, is a “sign of insensitive and confused leadership” the party stated.
Also, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) condemned trip to Brazil, saying the trip was like desertion of duty despite the “gloomy atmosphere pervading the country.”
The Super Eagles’ must have been getting prepared to celebrate at the 90th minute but the game took another turn at the same minute as Malawi midfielder John Banda took a late effort at goal which saw to it that Nigeria’s campaign for the Brazil 2012 World Cup qualifiers do not sail well and their own long unbeaten home record still remains as it is as the game ended 1-1 in favour of Malawi in Kamuzu stadium.
Super Eagles’ goal came at the 89th minute after playing barren in the first half and long into the second, midfielder Reuben Gabriel nudged the Nigerian-side forward and in quick succession, while celebration would have been registered in the minds of the Super Eagles over the successful garnering of three full points, the goal that tied the game to a draw came forth as the Kamuzu stadium went agog with so much noise in celebration of Malawi’s equaliser.
Attending four of the last five World Cup finals, the Super Eagles’ were expected to dominate the group, but laboured again to add to the largely ineffective performance in Calabar last Sunday, when they needed an 80th minute goal from Spanish-based striker Ike Uche to take all three points.
The relief for the Super Eagles now is that they are still atop the group with four points in their favour thanks to the victory against Namibia in Calabar last week.
The Black Stars of Ghana are now ahead with superior goal difference as Sudan defeated African champions; Zambia 2-0 to become group leaders with Ghana in group D of the 2014 World Cup qualifying games after the opening day matches were played.
Sudan now at par with the former Gold Coast, Ghana still achieved a feat as they got the biggest victories on home soil.
The best of the two teams will however be known soonest as both teams are having away matches next.
Zambia will be fighting back to retain its recent glory as it was the Copper Bullets that knocked out Ghana in the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup which the Zambia eventually won and they will be meeting Ghana on the 9th of June in continuation of the 2014 World Cup qualifying games.
Inter Milan clearly made their intention known to the football world after the club threw in a bid of £19m for the signature of Chelsea target Lucas Moura who plays for Brazilian club Sao Paulo making the Italian club the first to make a move after Chelsea.
The young lad who has already been hinted by Sao Paulo that he will be starting the new season with an European club is still in waiting for his big move as Inter Milan’s bid was rejected by Sao Paulo.
As reported, the new European Champions are very keen on the Brazilian attacker but have not had time to come to the negotiating table with Sao Paulo as the London club is busy sealing up their new talent signed for £32m; Eden Hazard whose move was tied to English Premier League Winners; Manchester City but was whisked away by Chelsea with a bank-breaking amount.
They are expected to officially announce the signing of Hazard by the weekend, with Lucas still on their radar.
Sao Paulo says they will be willing to part with the 19-year-old for an amount closer to £30m.
However, Inter Milan has not given up on clinching the vibrant attacker’s signature as they have tagged themselves as favourites to land a deal with the exciting Brazilian, despite the fact that Lucas had already been tagged with a move to Stamford Bridge.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira popularly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaucho has scored a point against his club Flamengo as a Labour court in Brazil gave the Brazilian a nod to terminate his contract with the club.
According to the two-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year, the reason for suing Flamengo was because the club has not been able to meet up with the payment of his wages as he is being owed four months unpaid wages, the judge however acceded to the player’s request on this ground.
Ronadlinho’s advisors have started plotting new means of getting the unpaid wages from the Brazilian club after he got a go-ahead to leave the club.
Having pulled out of an agreement concerning his wages, Flamengo is now left to foot the bill for his €500,000 a month wages. An obligation they have been unable to meet.
Arguments between the club and the former Barcelona star over the exhibition of non-professional behaviour went sour after his wages were not paid.
Ronaldinho generated more headlines for missing training and for his social activities which led to his failing to have the desired impact at Flamengo, showing his quality in flashes and above all not being mentioned in the Selecao regular, a chance he used to enjoy for his quality display of football on field.
Looking into the case of 457 Nigerians in the federal prison of Brazil for various drug offences,the Chairman of the House of Represntatives committee on diaspora; Hon. Anike Dabiri Erewa was on our programme Diplomatic Channel with anchor Amarach ubani.
She revealed why they are there and that the Nigerian government has intervened.
Andre Santos; the Arsenal defender who just returned from the injury table of the Gunners stated his belief that the English Premier League is the best in the World so far and he is also glad that his level of adaption to playing in the league has been amazing.
Signed from Turkish club Fernerbahce August 2011,Santo who is 29 years old has made his presence felt dynamically on the left flank of the club.
After three months hiatus,the Brazillain fullback launched himself back on the pitch in Arsenal’s 3-nil victory against Aston Villa as a substitute.
Santos has been out of action due a broken foot sustained three months ago in the UEFA Chapions Leaguetie against Olympiakos, although it is almost certain that he would be ending a trophyless season with Arsenal but the young lad has made a point of service to elevate the success of Arsenal time to come.
Santos expressed his joy at his acceptance by Gunners fans and club staffs as it made him relax and adapt quickly.
Santos revealed he had been inspired by the messages of support during his time on the sidelines, after being injured in the Champions League group game away to Olympiakos.