President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta on his victory in Monday’s presidential election in Kenya as declared Saturday in Nairobi by the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
As Mr. Kenyatta prepares to assume office later this month as the first Kenyan President to come into office under the country’s new constitution which was adopted after the crisis that followed its 2007 elections, President Jonathan urge Kenyatta to rededicate himself to carrying forward the process of national healing and reconciliation.
President Jonathan also called on the Kenyan President-Elect to do his utmost best to foster greater peace, unity and progress in the country by forming a truly national administration that will meet the yearnings and aspirations of all Kenyans, including his opponents and their supporters.
President Jonathan applauded the call by Mr. Kenyatta’s closest rival for the Presidency, Prime Minister Raila Odinga for his supporters to remain calm and eschew violent protests while he takes his complaints about the election results to the Kenyan Supreme Court.
The President also welcomed Mr. Odinga’s expression of confidence in the court and his pledge to adhere to the rule of law and accept the court’s verdict on the elections in good faith.
President Jonathan commended the ordinary people of Kenya who showed their undying faith in democratic governance by turning out in their millions to set a new voter turn-out record of 86 per cent in Monday’s elections.
He however assured them of the best wishes of his administration and that of the people of Nigeria.
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya
The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.
Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.
According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.
“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.
Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.
Kenyan presidential hopeful Uhuru Kenyatta opened an early lead as the country counted ballots on Tuesday in an election that brought out millions of voters despite pockets of violence that killed at least 15 people.
Kenyans, who had waited patiently in long lines to vote, hope the poll will restore the nation’s image as one of Africa’s most stable democracies after tribal blood-letting killed more than 1,200 people when the result of the 2007 vote was disputed.
Partial tallies from Monday’s broadly peaceful voting in the presidential election gave the edge to Kenyatta, the 51-year-old deputy prime minister, over his rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 68.
Kenyatta’s lead held through counting overnight but could still be overhauled with about two-thirds of polling stations still to report. The election committee said counting might not be completed till Wednesday, delaying any official announcement.
“People want peace after what happened last time,” said Henry Owino, 29, a second-hand clothes seller who voted in Nairobi’s Kibera slum where violence flared five years ago. “This time the people have decided they don’t want to fight.”
But the real test will be whether the final result, when declared, is accepted or disputed and whether candidates or their backers turn to the street or court to raise challenges.
The United States and Western donors have watched the vote closely, concerned about the stability of a nation seen as a regional ally in the fight against militant Islam.
They also worry about what to do if Kenyatta wins, because he faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) related to the violence five years ago.
SOME JITTERS EASE
Investors breathed a sigh of relief after the broadly peaceful voting, strengthening the Kenyan shilling against the U.S. dollar. Analysts said a first-round victor would be welcomed by investors by averting a run-off, which would prolong uncertainty.
The inspector general of the Kenyan police, David Kimaiyo, told a news conference he would not allow demonstrations anywhere in the country over the delay in releasing the election results because of concerns protests could turn violent.
Kenyatta’s lead of 54 percent of votes counted so far to Odinga’s 41 percent puts him in a good position for a straight win but his lead could be eroded with just 4.2 million tallied by 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), provisional figures by the election commission showed.
Election officials said turnout was more than 70 percent, suggesting about 10 million or more votes need to be counted in the nation of 14.3 million eligible voters. Officials did not give a precise total for votes cast.
For outright victory, a candidate needs more than 50 percent of votes cast, otherwise the top two face a run-off election, tentatively set for April depending on any legal challenges. Odinga and Kenyatta ran neck-and-neck in pre-election polls.
“There were a lot of jitters around the elections,” said Dickson Magecha, a senior trader at Standard Chartered Bank. “But there are indications we might see a first-round victory, which is good for political risk, and the vote went on peacefully without any major hitches.”
William Ruto, Kenyatta’s running mate who also faces ICC charges of crimes against humanity, called the vote “free, fair and credible”. He also said during voting: “We shall cooperate with the court (ICC) with a final intention of clearing our names.”
But the party of Odinga, who had before the election suggested preparations for the poll had put him at a disadvantage, hinted that they might challenge the result, alleging voting irregularities.
Frank Bett of Odinga’s CORD alliance cited late voting at one polling station hours after the formal close, voters casting ballots more than once in some areas and a failure of electronic voter registration systems in some places. “These we find to be placing in jeopardy the credibility of this process,” he said.
The election commission earlier acknowledged a polling clerk had been caught issuing extra ballots and said manual voter lists were used where the electronic registration system failed. But it has said there were no significant problems in voting.
Raising the stakes in the race, Odinga could be facing his last crack at the presidency after narrowly missing out in 2007 to now-outgoing President Mwai Kibaki, who has served a maximum of two five-year terms.
Losing to Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president after independence in 1963, would mark another defeat in his family’s ambitions after Odinga’s father also missed out on the top post.
Kenyans said memories of the post-2007 poll bloodshed and its dire impact on the economy were enough to prevent a repeat this time. Kenya’s African neighbors, whose economies felt the shockwaves, have been watching intently.
At least 15 people were killed in two attacks by machete-wielding gangs on the restive coast hours before voting started on Monday. Police officers blamed them on a separatist movement, the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), suggesting different motives to the ethnic killings after the 2007 vote. MRC denied any role.
The European Union observer mission said turnout was high even at the coast where the attacks took place.
A suspected grenade attack struck near an election center in the eastern town of Garissa close to the border with Somalia, where Kenyan troops have been deployed to fight Islamist militants. That attack caused panic among voters but no injuries, a government official said.
To try to prevent a repeat of the contested outcome that sparked the violence after the December 2007 vote, a new, broadly respected election commission is using more technology to prevent fraud, speed up counting and increase transparency.
Alongside the presidential race, there were elections for senators, county governors, members of parliament, women representatives in county assemblies and civic leaders.
The Nigeria Football Federation has told the chief coach of the national team, Stephen Keshi that it won’t be business as usual as he shouldn’t expect to have long camping ahead of the World Cup in terms of training, because the financial implication is not looking good for the federation.
In the run-up to Afcon 2013 in which the Super Eagles of Nigeria were crowned African champions, coach Keshi had the luxury of setting up training camps for at least four weeks before each qualifier, thereby giving local players adequate time to be in camp before the foreign players reported.
According to the NFF, these camps have had serious implications financially on the Federation’s revenue. Besides, coach Keshi, who is expected to forward his list of call-ups for the World Cup qualifier at home against Kenya to the Nigeria Football Federation this week, already has the master plan for his games and those players that fit into his game plan.
“Camping for the Eagles will not be like before where they stay in camp for like a month before a game, as the Super Eagles coach already has a clear picture of his team and as such we don’t expect him to have an extended camping like it used to be.”
The Eagles are expected to open camp next month with players from the domestic league before they are joined by their colleagues from Europe a week leading to the March 23 clash in Calabar.
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya has launched a $14.5bn (£9.1bn) project to build an IT business hub named Konza Technology City.
The new city dubbed “Africa’s Silicon Savannah,” located 37 miles from the capital; Nairobi will take 20 years to build.
Despite Kenya’s usually divisive politics, the project which has the backing of all political parties is expected to create more than 20,000 IT jobs by 2015, and more than 200,000 jobs by 2030.
Konza, a part of the government’s ambitious Vision 2030 will take advantage of the growing number of software developers in the East African nation.
“It is expected to spur massive trade and investment as well as create thousands of employment opportunities for young Kenyans in the information communications technology (ICT) sector,” President Mwai Kibaki said at the ceremony to launch the construction, adding it would be a “game-changer” for the country’s development.
He called on domestic and foreign investors to take advantage of Konza’s “tremendous opportunities”.
According to the Konza information website, the city wants to attract business process outsourcing, software development, data centres, disaster recovery centres, call centres and light assembly manufacturing industries.
A university campus focused on research and technology as well as hotels, residential areas, schools and hospitals will also be built.
Konza Technopolis Development Authority has been charged with the responsibility to oversee the building of the IT hub, which will be built in four phases.
Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday prayed for “concord in Nigeria”,as he lamented the “savage acts of terrorism” that frequently target Christian churches in Nigeria, during his traditional Christmas message.
The Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has often targeted churches in its bloody insurgency against the Nigerian government killing about 3,000 people since 2009 when the insurgency started.
The violence is now worsened with the emergence of another terror group, the Ansaru that claimed to have kidnapped French engineer, Frances Colump, in Rimi Katsina, Katsina State last week.
Pope Benedict also called for an “end to the bloodshed” and “a political solution” in conflict-wracked Syria in a traditional Christmas message that touched on several other of the world’s conflict zones.
“There is hope in the world … even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations,” he said, praying that “peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims.”
More than 44,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak in March 2011 of an anti-regime revolt that became a bloody insurgency after a brutal crackdown, a rights group said last week.
The Pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) message, heard by some 40,000 pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, also pointed to hotspots across Africa and urged religious freedom in China, and as usual called for peace in the Middle East.
The Pope prayed for “help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” where a rebel campaign caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, and peace in Kenya, “where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship”.
He also urged peace in Mali, where Islamist insurgents have occupied large swathes of the desert north since a March coup.
He also prayed for “Israelis and Palestinians (to be granted the) courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.”
Turning to China, the German Pope called on the new leadership to “esteem the contributions of the religions.”
Speaking of “the high task that awaits them,” the Pontiff said he hoped the new leaders unveiled in November would “help build a fraternal society for that noble people and of the whole world.”
China and the Vatican severed diplomatic ties in 1951 after the latter recognised the Nationalist Chinese government in Taipei, a rival to the communist regime in Beijing.
Although Beijing and the Vatican have improved relations in recent years as China’s Catholic population has grown, they remain at odds over which side has the authority to ordain priests.
About 5.7 million Chinese belong to the state-run Catholic Church, according to official figures. Independent estimates say 12 million Chinese Catholics worship in unauthorised churches and are loyal to the pope.
Ethiopia’s Abebe Dinkesa, has emerged the winner of the 8th Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race which was concluded today in Obudu, Cross River state, making this his third victory at the annual race.
The Ethiopian came ahead of others in 1hr 03mins to clinch the top place and a cash prize of $50,000 while Kenyan’s Macdonald Ondara was second in 1 hr 06 mins and his compatriot Chemosin Robert came third in 1hr 07mins.
Dinkesa had in 2008 set a race course record of 41:45 minutes when he won his first title.
He reclaimed the title, in 2010 and today, became the first man to win the men’s title three times since the race’s inaugural edition in 2005.
The distance of the men race, which until last year was 11.25 km, is now 12km.
In the women’s race, it was yet another East Africans dominance as Etenesh Diro Neda of Ethiopia won the first position in 1hr 03mins, winning the $50,000 prize money and Kenyans again that took the second and the third position.
Bisuenei Rita Jeptoo crossed the line in 1hr 02.45mins and in third place was Kipoech Paskalia in 1hr.04mins.
PAST WINNERS OF THE OBUDU MOUNTAIN RACE
Year Men’s winner Time(m:s) Women’s winner Time (m:s)
2005 Ben Dubois (AUS) 48:44 Anna Pichrtová (CZE) 55:46
2006 Francis Kibiwott (KEN) 42:26 Rehima Kedir (ETH) 53:26
He has been seen at a number of social events in Lagos with Nigeria’s Pop Princess Goldie Harvey, but Kenyan rapper and second runner-up at the last Big Brother Africa Star Game, Prezzo has revealed plans to settle in Nigeria and build a career in the nation’s fledgling entertainment industry.
The Kenya trained and certified pilot turned rapper stated on Channels TV Sunrise that “my purpose of visiting Nigeria is to broaden my musical career and work with a couple of producers here.”
“Nigeria will be my second home from now on and I don’t want to feel like a tourist when I come to Nigeria, so Nigeria will be home” he stated, adding that “fufu and Eba makes one live longer and stronger” as he showed his reverence for Nigerian local meals.
On which city in Nigeria he will be settling, the Kenyan artiste who also sings in Swahili said “most definitely in Lagos. I think Lagos is a beautiful place.”
“I just love the aggression of the people out there. I love the hustle” he stated about the daily struggle of residents in Nigeria’s most populous city.
According to him “Nigeria is the leader of Africa’s music industry and for me to achieve my goal, I have to JFK” he said, defining JFK as – “Joining Forces with the Kings”.
“So I have come to join forces with my Nigerian brothers and sisters” he added.
“I love the positive energy in Nigeria and I feel it is the kind of positive energy I want to be part of.”
When asked who his choice producers in Nigeria are, Prezzo replied “I am very inspired by the Nigerian music industry as a whole. It is a big industry and I am willing to work with anybody. I don’t need to use anybody as a stepping stone.”
The musician also revealed plans to make a foray into Nollywood.
Prezzo is expected to drop a single, on Monday ahead of his forthcoming album.
When questioned on his famous relationship with Goldie, with whom he has being seen at various events in Nigeria and abroad in recent weeks, Prezzo cheerfully grinned saying “Goldie is busy. I have seen her just once since my arrival. ”
“She’s been very busy” he stated, adding that “Goldie is a beautifully person, both inside and outside.”
Prezzo had a stormy relationship with the Nigerian participant in the Big Brother Africa House and that they have both evolved to be great friends since the reality show ended.
President Goodluck Jonathan has called for more trade and investment among African countries, to strengthen relationships and for the promotion of the welfare of citizens.
The president was speaking to the outgoing High Commissioner of Botswana to Nigeria, Clifford Maribe, who paid a farewell visit to the State House, Tuesday.
President Jonathan said African businessmen must take advantage of the many investment opportunities available in the continent, thereby improving economic and political relations.
He welcomed the report that the business forum held in Gaborone, Botswana during his visit last month had started yielding positive results, as exploratory business visits between Nigerian and Botswanan businessmen have commenced.
The outgoing High Commissioner of Botswana to Nigeria told President Jonathan that the business forum held in Gaborone, Botswana, during the Nigerian leader’s visit last month generated interest among participants.
Mr Maribe said his tenure in Nigeria had led to stronger relations between the two countries, including high-level visits by the leaders of both countries, and expressed appreciation for the cooperation he enjoyed during his stay.
During a similar audience, President Jonathan told the outgoing Kenyan High Commissioner, Francis K. A. Sigel, that the warm political relations between the two countries should be strengthened through more high-level visits.
He congratulated Mr Sigel for completing the construction of Kenya’s Chancery and staff housing, describing this as ‘a mark of your confidence in us and our relationship’.
The President said there was the need to improve economic relations between Nigeria and Kenya.
In his remarks, Mr Sigel said he enjoyed his stay in Nigeria.
Attackers killed 32 villagers and burnt more than 150 houses in Kenya’s coastal region on Monday, the Red Cross said, the latest tit-for-tat attack in a long festering dispute between communities over land and water.
About 100 people have been killed in the last three weeks as the violence between the Pokomo and Orma communities escalates.
“There was a fresh attack in the Tana Delta this morning. As of now we have established 32 people are dead,” Abbas Gullet, head of the Kenyan Red Cross, told Reuters.
The violence follows deadly riots in Kenya’s main port of Mombasa after the assassination of a radical Muslim cleric. The two events were unrelated but exposed deep social, political and sectarian divides that could lead to more violence ahead of a presidential election next year.
Efforts by top government officials – among them Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who visited the area after an earlier attack – have so far failed to defuse the tensions.
The Red Cross said Monday’s dead included seven police officers, 12 male civilians, eight children and five women.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Tuesday confirmed that Nigeria’s 4x400m men’s relay team will not compete at the London Olympics.
This is contrary to the statement by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Monday which listed the team among the country’s contingent to the Games.
The Nigerian 4x400m relay team is made up of Saul Weigopwa, Abiola Onokoya, Isah Salihu, Tobi Ogunmola, Segun Ogunkole and Godday James.
The team ran 3:02.39 to win the gold medal at the just concluded 18th African Athletics Championships on Sunday in Porto Novo, and they were wrongly informed that the team made the cut for the Olympics.
However, the IAAF on Tuesday released the list of 16 teams that have qualified to participate in the event in London and Nigeria was not included in the list.
According to the IAAF report, “the qualification period for the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the Games of the XXX Olympiad, London 2012 ended on Monday 2 July. The IAAF is pleased to confirm the following 16 teams, per each of the four relays, which have qualified to compete, are as follows…”
Until the victory in Port Novo, Nigeria was ranked out of the top 20 nations but moved to the 18th on the list following last Sunday’s personal season’s best performance in Benin republic.
South Africa and Kenya will be flying the continent’s flag in the London games which will kick-off in a few weeks.
Meanwhile Nigeria still stands a chance to make the games if two of the qualified countries drop out of the event at the quadrennial Games on their own volition.
Nigeria will thus not be competing in the men’s 4x400m relay at the Olympics.
Victory in past relays have accounted for some of the nine medals Nigeria has won in the athletics event of the Olympic Games.