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EFCC Watch list: Obiano out of Nigeria, didn’t disguise at airport, says Anambra commissioner

Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, has said that the governor of the state, Willie Obiano, is currently out of Nigeria, adding that his principal did not disguise when he used one of the international airports to travel out of the country.

The commissioner also lambasted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for what he described as media trial of his boss.

According to Adinuba, the EFCC has not served the governor any notice or invited him to answer for any corruption-related offences yet the anti-graft agency clandestinely announced that it has placed the out-going governor of the state on its watch list.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that in a letter to the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service dated November 15, 2021, the EFCC requested the service to place the governor on a watch list and inform it anytime he is travelling out of the country from any of the international airports and other points of entry and exit.

It is not clear why the anti-graft agency placed the governor on security watch but sources said the move is an indication that the agency may have been discreetly investigating Obiano and possibly have intelligence that he plans to escape after he hands over power to his successor, Charles Soludo, as sitting governors in Nigeria have immunity from criminal prosecution while in office.

But Adinuba said the EFCC is being used by politicians who lost the Anambra governorship election to Obiano’s All Progressives Grand Alliance.

In a statement titled, ‘EFFC’s Inelegant Drama over Anambra Governor’, the Abia commissioner described the move by the EFCC as politically motivated.

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The statement read in part, “The EFCC knows full well that it is acting inelegantly in this instance, and so has tried as much as possible not to make an official public statement on the alleged placing of Chief Obiano on the watch list. It furtively gave a section of the media the news report it wrote based on ostensibly its letter to the NIS on November 15.

“Governor Obiano is out of the country currently. And he travelled through one of the country’s international airports. He did not disguise himself, but rather left the country with his identity fully disclosed at the necessary immigration point.

“The EFCC sounded more inelegant when it claimed in the sponsored press report that it received intelligence reports that the governor plans to ‘flee’ from Nigeria once he hands over power next March 17 to the newly elected Anambra State governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Chief Obiano has never left any persons in doubt that he will relocate to his base in the United States once he finishes his tenure. As early as Wednesday, March 4, 2020, he announced his decision to a meeting of the Anambra State Council of Elders.”

“It is, indeed strange that the EFCC is making a show that it is investigating a high public officer. Anti-corruption agencies, like intelligence services, conduct their investigations discreetly, and not on pages of newspapers. Media trial has never benefitted the EFCC.

“The whole nation knows those behind all the present histrionics about Obiano. They are those who didn’t want the November 6 election to hold. They are those in high places who unsuccessfully canvassed for emergency rule in Anambra supposedly on security grounds. They are those who masterminded the Birnin Kudu High Court charade in Jigawa State over the APGA leadership and, more importantly, the authentic APGA candidate in the November gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

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“They are those responsible for the sacrilege of a customary court in Abuja issuing criminal summons to Professor Soludo, a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor. These people are still fighting the gubernatorial battle on behalf of their badly defeated friends and political associates in the Anambra vote. They will fail badly, as they have done in the recent past.

“The EFCC should not allow itself to be used by politicians who are mere birds of passage. Its ongoing Anambra drama is in bad taste. It did not serve Governor Obiano any notice. Nor did it invite him to answer questions about his service record. It just went to the press. Yet, the governor is willing to answer any questions about his years in office,” the statement added.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment on the issue.

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ISWAP attacks military base in Borno, kills seven soldiers

Members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province on Thursday killed no fewer than seven members of Operation Hadin Kai in a failed attempt to attack a military base in Borno State.

It was gathered that the terrorists mounted a gun truck and made effort to gain entrance into the camp but were engaged by the troops in a gun duel.

A military source told one of our correspondents that two officers, including a Commanding Officer, were among those killed in the attack.

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The source added that the Air Force troops assisted the ground troops to repel the attack on its base  and killed 24 ISWAP terrorists.

 “Seven soldiers were killed yesterday. Two are officers; the CO (Commanding Officer) and one other officer. Twenty-four ISWAP terrorists were also killed in the attack. The Air Force component assisted ground troops to repel the attacks of the terrorists who came with gun truck.”

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The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, could not be reached for comment. Calls  to his line were not answered and he has yet to respond to message sent to him as of press time.

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Nigeria may split before 2023 elections – Onaiyekan

As preparations for the next general elections gathers momentum, a former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has raised fears that Nigeria may split before 2023 because of the sad realities in the country, including security challenges.

He said Nigerian leaders would always want to remain in office even after their tenure because of “greed, wickedness and stupidity”.

The cleric stated that one of the obstacles that had been threatening democracy in Nigeria was that incumbent governments did not want free and fair election.

Onaiyekan stated these in an interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja.

He said, “There is no reason why the spate of insecurity should continue like this till 2023. There is no reason why we should not be able to finally settle this problem before the year 2022 is over.

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“If it is not over, it means we have failed as a nation and the question will no longer be whether we can have election or not, but whether it makes sense even having an election because we don’t have a country; the matter is serious.

“As for the election, we are not even sure whether Nigeria will be one country or whether we would have an independent country. So, those are issues we must face now. As for holding election, it is not a big deal really. Election is a normal practice and in a democratic environment, if the environment is really democratic and peaceful, the election will come by its own.

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“All of it; greed, wickedness and stupidity. Not only in Nigeria; go abroad, our next door neighbour, Cameroon, Paul Biya has been there for more than 30 years. Cameroon is not moving and he is not moving, why is he sitting there? So, they are worse than us.’’

 

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Mexico reports first Omicron case

Mexico on Friday announced its first case of the coronavirus Omicron variant, in a traveller from South Africa, but the government said it was not considering border closures as a counter-measure.

The variant was detected in a 51-year-old from South Africa with mild symptoms, under-secretary of health Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez said on Twitter. 

An epidemiologist by training, Lopez-Gatell Ramirez said closing borders and blocking the movement of people and goods “are not useful measures for containing variants.”

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Vaccination was key to reducing Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, he said.

“We call on you to remain calm and to continue taking measures to prevent infections” such as mask-wearing, social distancing and regular hand-washing, Lopez-Gatell Ramirez tweeted.

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Mexico, with some 128 million people, has reported more than 294,000 coronavirus deaths — the world’s fourth highest number — and 3.9 million cases.

On Wednesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said about 86 percent of Mexicans older than 18 have been vaccinated, nearly all with two doses.

AFP

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Akide-Udoh influenced my love for football – EPL’s Anthony

Premier’s TV presenter speaks about her love for football, her career and others in this interview with JOHNNY EDWARD

Which sports were you into actively growing up back in the days?

I was very active playing football, it was huge for me, at the time, I would have nicknames like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo because of my flair, skill and creativity. Other than that, I participated in inter-house sports competitions, I would partake in relays and shot put. I would say track and field as well as football were the sports I took part in, but football really for me because I wanted to pursue it as a career.

What attracted you to football?

What attracted me to football was just people chasing the ball and you have a lot of your community and family watching and paying attention and being interested. For me, the likes of AC Milan at that time was a huge team and I was very interested in Alessandro Nesta. What happened was that immediately I started watching the Super Falcons and I saw women like me at that time, I said, “O my God, this is exactly what I want to do.” I love this game so much and the fact I can see representation.

Speaking about the media we see you presenting on Premier League TV these days. Tell us about that.

I would say it’s naturally been a dream come true. I have had to go through different career development programmes because I didn’t even study journalism, I graduated from University of Calabar with a degree in Marine Biology, so it meant that if I wanted to be relevant in the industry, I had to go through career development and networking and I happened to have worked for local media stations before moving to the BBC and I ended up working with the BBC for three years and then moved to the UK where I currently am, studying my Masters in Business Administration. Before then, I had been producing some key African features for the Premier League, but I hadn’t worked with them in the studio, I had done pieces in Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya.

So being here in the UK and getting the opportunity to present for the Premier League, being like one of the first Nigerians based in Nigeria to present in the Premier League is an absolute delight for me even as it is on a freelance basis. It is fantastic for representation, it is fantastic for a lot of people who can believe in their dreams and are absolutely inspired that they can be from Nigeria to the world if they put their mind to it and work hard.

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You have a strong passion towards empowering girls and women through sports. Tell us about this advocacy?

It’s more than a passion project for me, basically what I am fulfilling as my destiny. Like I said, I wanted to play football and my father particularly wasn’t pleased and that stigma around women playing football or women in sports was quite rife and is still available now. That’s why I had such keen interest in seeing young girls; even women no matter the age get into sports. For me, it’s about amplifying women’s voices and ensuring that I am able to tell their stories the way they should be told and when people aren’t listening or watching. And also able to let young girls know that there is representation and become women like us.

Who is your all-time Premier League player?

It’s so tough to choose one, I love a lot of them, we watch these games and we are inspired by them. The likes of Austin Okocha really put Nigeria on the map in the Premier League, Nwankwo Kanu and Stephen Gerrard because he was an inspirational figure when Liverpool won the Champions League against AC Milan against all odds. For me, I don’t have a favourite Premier League player, but these three players really influenced me.

Who is your favorite amongst Super Eagles and Super Falcons past and present players?

The Super Eagles and Super Falcons are best with abundant talents, but my favourite among them is definitely Mercy Akide-Udoh. I have interviewed her and apart from being a journalist, I couldn’t believe that I was standing right in front of the woman who I wanted to be like, I was so emotional about it because she just showed me that our dreams are fueled by representation.

If you were to name an All-Star team, which players would be listed?

Well with the FIFA World Cup coming up in Qatar next year, I think I’d go with an African All Star World Cup Eleven. These, in my opinion, are the best African players who appeared at the Mundial. I’d go with a 3-5-2 formation.

In goal I’d go with Thomas Nkono of Cameroon. He went to three FIFA World Cups. My defenders would be Noureddine Naybet of Morocco, Joseph Yobo of Nigeria and Rigobert Song of Cameroon

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My midfielders would be Papa Bouba Diop of Senegal, Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast, Ahmed Musa of Nigeria, Lakhdar Belloumi of Algeria and Moustapha Hadji of Morocco.

My forwards would be Asamoah Gyan of Ghana and Roger Milla of Cameroon.

The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon in less than 43 days. Who do you think are the contenders for the title?

You can’t look beyond defending champions Algeria. They’re still pretty strong and the core of the team is still there. Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt will be strong contenders too. Senegal and Egypt were very impressive in the World Cup qualifiers and were inspired by Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah respectively. And I would also watch out for Tunisia. They’ve been quietly building a strong team out of the limelight.

Who are your biggest sports influences?

Without a doubt, it would be Nigeria’s women’s 4×100 relay team at the 1992 Olympic Games. It was the first ever medal won by a Nigerian woman at the Olympics. It was a coming of age moment for not only Nigerian athletes but Nigerian women everywhere in front of a global audience. What Mary Onyali, Christie Opara-Thompson, Faith Idehen and Beatrice Utondu did that night in Barcelona reverberated beyond sport and has continued to inspire Nigerian girls and women everywhere that they can conquer the world. Their celebration after the race remains one of the most indelible and iconic moments of the Olympics decades later. The fact that they won a bronze medal is irrelevant. It was and still is a golden moment for me.

So what do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

When I am not working, during my spare time, I also do side hustle, I cook a lot, and it is so interesting because my mother is from Akwa Ibom and my father is Ibo, so, I have got this mixed background when it comes to food and vegetables. I also love to read about small businesses, again, I am studying for my MBA. I also love music, especially Latino music.

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Cost of governance: Restructure Nigeria into six regions, Budget Office tells FG

The Budget Office of the Federation has said restructuring Nigeria into six regions is pivotal to reducing the high cost of governance.

It noted that the number of ministers also needs to be pruned and the number of political office holders and their aides reduced, lamenting that the huge recurrent expenditure had constrained the provision of good roads, steady power supply, health care services, quality education and quality shelter etc.

This, it said, had contributed to observable underperformance of the economy, slow growth and current infrastructural challenges.

These recommendations were contained in a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission at its Third National Summit on diminishing corruption in the public sector, held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja on Tuesday.

The event, with the theme, ‘Corruption and cost of governance: New imperatives for fiscal transparency’, was attended by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), among others.

The ICPC report referenced the Budget Office as blaming the high cost of governance on bloated cabinet size, high cost of elections, corrupt budget practices, multiplicity of Ministries Departments and Agencies and high number of political office holders and their aides.

It said a direct result of the expensive governance structure was that less than 30 per cent of Federal Government’s resources were available to fund the much needed capital projects.

However, the Budget Office, according to the document, recommended that government should “prioritise completion of ongoing projects, restructure Nigeria into six regions and reduce the number of ministers, and build a more efficient civil service and conduct periodic staff audit.”

It added that “MDAs should consider government fiscal position in reviewing salaries, adopt a cost- effective electoral system and limit the number of aides of political office holders.”

While highlighting the drivers of the high cost of governance, the document quoted the Budget Office as saying that Nigeria has a large cabinet with 27 ministers, 16 ministers of state and 27 ministries, adding that MDAs raise their personnel cost by engaging in indiscriminate recruitment without clearance from the Budget Office.

Nigeria has about 934 MDAs with duplicated functions and 541 public corporations and enterprises.

It noted further that high cost of elections and resultant litigation contribute to the high cost of governance in Nigeria and that the current structure/size of the federal bureaucracy was clearly unsustainable for the size of the economy. “The high number of political office holders and their aides also adds to the high cost of governance,” it added.

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The Budget Office lamented that personnel cost for the past three years gulped N9.7tn, adding that cost of governance had generally been on the rise and personnel costs represent significant proportion of the spending.

According to the report, MDAs’ recurrent spending rose from N3.61tn in 2015 to N5.26tn in 2018 and N7.91tn in 2020. This excludes the costs of government-owned enterprises and transfers to the National Assembly and the National Judicial Council.

“Recurrent spending accounted for 40 per cent of actual recurrent spending in 2020 while overhead was just three per cent. Cost of governance has generally been on the rise and personnel costs represent a significant proportion of the spending,” it added.

The President, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and several other leaders had repeatedly stated the need to reduce the cost of governance, but not much has been done to actualise it.

Meanwhile, there has been an increasing public clamour for restructuring, with sociopolitical groups like Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Pan Niger Delta Forum, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum and the Coalition of Northern Groups insisting that it is the only way the country could return to the path of progress.

The Presidency had in response to the agitations asked the proponents to approach the National Assembly with their request.

Why we can’t punish those behind budget duplication – Budget Office

The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, on Friday disagreed with the ICPC, saying only 185 projects were found to be duplicated in the 2021 budget, and not 257 as announced by the commission.

He said it was beyond the responsibility of the Budget Office to discipline those responsible for the duplication because the staff of the MDAs who prepare their budgets were not answerable to his office.

He however argued that errors were inevitable since the budget was prepared by human beings but that those culpable for the “willful duplication” of projects should be fished out by the ICPC and prosecuted.

The ICPC chairman had at the summit said 257 projects amounting to N20.138bn were duplicated in the 2021 budget.

Akabueze, who spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise daily’ on Friday, stated that some of the projects identified by the ICPC were not duplicated but had description challenge.

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He said, “The ICPC came up with a report which they sent to us about duplicated projects in the budget. We did our own review and found that 54 of those projects were actually not duplicated. There were issues with project description, which made them look the same.

“Every project in the budget has a unique identifier and for the projects found to be duplicated, funding was withheld. 185 (projects) were found to be duplicated, 54 were not.”

Akabueze said there were about 20,000 projects in the budget and that if only about 200 projects were duplicated, it amounts to about 0.01 per cent. He added that the total MDAs’ in the budget estimate was under N4trn, and that the duplicated projects valued at about N20bn was about 0.005 per cent.

He added, “Every system has a level of tolerance in terms of error. It is human beings that prepared it, some may be erroneous, some may be willful duplication but the important thing is that there is self-correcting mechanism. The best of systems in the world have audit attached to them because there is an acknowledgement that something can go wrong. We work collectively with the ICPC and it is part of its role as correcting mechanism.”

He however said the Budget Office was working towards a zero level of such duplications.

He added, “At the level of the Budget Office, what we do is withhold funding for such projects and to that extent, it doesn’t create the sort of problem you alluded to; misuse of state resources.”

“As to the discipline of those people, that is outside of our own responsibilities; we look to the day where we have a structure within the budget office where the budget office can deploy its own personnel across the MDAs…to hold them directly accountable. The staff who are involved in preparing this budget in the MDAs are not accountable to the budget office and we have no line of responsibility to question them.”

He said the ICPC with its investigative powers should invite the people involved to find out if the duplications were willful actions intended to defraud the government or they were erroneous.

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Cute Abiola serving one-month punishment for ridiculing police –Navy

The Nigerian Navy has placed one of its personnel, OSCOMP Abdulgafar Ahmad, aka Cute Abiola, on one-month ‘extra duty’ for wearing police uniform in one of his skits and for ridiculing the Nigeria Police Force in the process.

The popular Instagram comedian was arrested on November 15, 2021, but has been released from detention to serve his ‘light corrective punishment’ in the cantonment.

Ahmad, 25, is expected to end his punishment by December 15, 2021, when he would be allowed to return home to his family.

Naval spokesperson, Commodore Suleman Dahun, confirmed the development to Saturday Beats on Friday.

The naval spokesman said that Ahmad was given a light punishment of a ‘one-month extra duty’ after a military trial.

Dahun said, “Cute Abiola has been placed on one-month extra duty after he was tried. He will be in charge of cleanship; supervising painting, electricians, carpentry, cutting of grasses, and others. He will be supervising civilians.

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“He is no longer under detention. He has been released to move around to serve his punishment.

“Because he was detained on November 15, that one month will start counting from then, which means he is going to be engaged till December 15. By then, he will be off the extra duty.”

A military source, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, explained that an extra duty means that the comedian is the “Minister of Works in the Barracks” for the period of the punishment.

The source also said Cute Abiola should know better as a military man and should not have appeared in a police uniform in one of his skits, let alone ridicule the sister agency in the process.

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Lawyer to Cute Abiola, Fatai Adebanjo, in an interview with our correspondent, confirmed the development and expressed delight, saying the wife and mother of the Kwara-born comedian who had been distressed since the ordeal began would be relieved.

“We appreciate the Nigerian Navy for the consideration and we know that we are counting days for him to rejoin his family,” Adebanjo said.

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Dangote hands over rehabilitated Abuja stadium to sports ministry

The rehabilitated Moshood Abiola Stadium has been handed over to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development after repairs works were completed, Saturday PUNCH reports.

The repair work which is being handled by Aron Nigeria Limited is sponsored by billionaire Aliko Dangote.

Aron Executive Director Stakeholder Management and Corporate Communications of the Group, Mansur Ahmed, who represented Dangote, handed the rehabilitated stadium to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Friday.

The rehabilitation work was carried out on the main bowl pitch and scoreboard.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Dare lauded the Aron and Dangote Group for completing the project in record time, despite constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a thing of joy to have this stadium come back to life. It is an iconic stadium, it is the national stadium, Moshood Abiola National Stadium.

“By the words of the experts here and those that have toured the facility, we have the latest grass here – Paspalum grass – one of the best, when we talk about football pitches across the World. Something exactly similar to what we have in Qatar, that will be used for the World Cup next year.

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“We thank Aliko Dangote for opening his doors to us, and accepting to adopt the Moshood Abiola Stadium when we came up with our ‘Adopt-a-Pitch’ proposal. “We salute his commitment that culminated in the completion of the project today, inclusive of maintenance for at least two years,” Dare said.

Ahmed said that the formal hand-over of the rehabilitated pitch was a testimony of the commitment of the company to sports development and supporting football .

“As we all know, Nigerian players are international but until now, we don’t have an international standard facility and our commitment is to work with the Ministry to make sure that this particular facility remains of international standard. We are therefore happy to contribute by this renovation, and by the arrangement to maintain it for the next two years”, Ahmed said.

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Former international and Special Adviser to the President on Sports, Daniel Amokachi, said after spending $1m to renovate the facility, long-term maintenance is paramount. He appealed to Dangote Group to consider extending the period of maintenance beyond two years.

Dangote adopted the Abuja stadium with repair works commencing August 2020, while another billionaire and chairman of Premier Lotto, Kessington Adebutu also agreed to foot the bills for the rehabilitation of the National Stadium, Lagos.

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Dennis thrilled with Watford start

…Nigerian battles Jota, Silva for EPL award

Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis says he is enjoying being part of the team this season and feels he is contributing positively.

The Nigerian scored his sixth goal of the season to level the tie against Chelsea after Mason Mount had opened the scoring, only for the Blues to bag a winner in the second half.

“I’m really proud of the team because we played really well,” Dennis told the club website.

“The result is unfortunate, they were lucky to take the three points. The intensity was good and we’re slowly understanding the way the manager wants us to play. We can see the progress in how we play so I’m really proud of the team, we just need to keep working hard and the results will come.”

“I knew if I tried to shoot he was going to open his legs and I was lucky to score in the end,” he said of his strike. “I’m happy with the goal but in the end we didn’t get the three points.

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“I’m just doing my job, I’m really happy I’m here and I’m enjoying being part of the team. I’m training well and being positive, and I’m really happy.”

Meanwhile, he has been shortlisted for November’s Premier League Player of the Month award.

Dennis who joined the Hornets from Club Brugge in the summer is nominated for the award for the first time.

The 24-year-old has scored two goals and recorded two assists for Watford in the month under review.

He is in contention for the award alongside Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota, Manchester City’s pair of Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo, and Aston Villa’s John McGinn.

He has also been backed by the club’s former captain Troy Deeney spoke to become a club legend.

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“Legends before me, Luther (Blissett), John Barnes, Tommy Mooney, Tommy Smith – everyone has a legacy and they do so much up to that point. I’ve done my point and it’s up to the guys in the squad now to take it further than I ever could.

“The legends of this club all move forward and I’m just a name. There is an opportunity for someone else. I think (Emmanuel) Dennis is playing great and if he sticks around for five years he could go and do that as well.”

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Eagles receive massive Osimhen boost ahead AFCON

The Super Eagles may have a massive boost for the 2021 Africa of Nations with Victor Osimhen likely to be fit for the tournament after earlier being ruled out for three months through injury.

Osimhen fractured his eye socket and cheekbone in Napoli’s loss to Inter Milan last month, requiring surgery.

Napoli confirmed after the surgery that the 22-year-old was going to be out for about 90 days, ruling him out of the AFCON which starts January 9 in Cameroon.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport however, the Eagles forward might return to action before the earlier proposed date.

The paper said Osimhen would have an x-ray on Tuesday and might have to return to action wearing a mask.

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“The prognosis is three months, but the time could also be shorter. It will depend on the reaction of the Nigerian’s body, but there are glimmers of optimism about his recovery at Naples,” La Gazzetta dello Sport said.

“Last Monday he removed the stitches and is feeling pretty good, having already started working on an exercise bike and treadmill.

“Next Tuesday he will do the tac and x-ray and if everything goes as we hope, Victor Osimhen will be able to return to training in Castel Volturno, while the specialists from those exams will study the carbon mask to be supported on the player’s forehead, so as not to press on the eyebrow. A mask that will be made with a 3D printer, on the cast of the center forward’s face .”

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Osimhen is Napoli’s top scorer this season, scoring nine goals in 14 appearances. He has also hit the back of the net seven times for the Eagles in 2021, emerging joint top scorer in the AFCON qualifier with five goals.

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Environmental firms increased by 1,469 in three months – FG

The registration and enrollment of environmental plants, consultancy organisations and companies in Nigeria increased by about 1,469 between September and November this year, the Federal Government has said.

The National Environmental Standards and Regulations disclosed this in a report on environmental data and information management released at its 15th national stakeholders’ forum in Abuja.

It explained that the firms would support its environmental governance drive with the aim of capturing a wide range of environmental issues.

It outlined the issues to include drought and desertification, soil erosion and flooding, pollution from effluents and emissions, deforestation and solid waste menace, among others.

In the report, NESREA said the companies were captured under its permit audit and management portal, adding that 376 enrolled as environmental consultants during the three-month period.

The report, which was obtained by our correspondent on Friday, said 484 of the entities enrolled as environmental companies, while 609 of them registered as environmental plants during the review period.

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The agency said it also processed 221 environmental consultant applications and that their certificates were currently available for downloads.

Speaking on the essence of environmental governance, the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said environmental problems would not be addressed adequately without appropriate data as contained in the NESREA report.

She said, “Attempting solutions to this plethora of environmental problems without appropriate data and information will not lead to the expected result. It is well known that statistics help in providing a better understanding and accurate description of nature’s phenomena.

“Gathering and analysis of data and information on the environmental situation across the country is the beginning of the whole activity aimed at the confirmation, remediation and mitigation of environmental challenges.”

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The Director-General, NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, said the theme for the forum was ‘Environmental Data and Information: A key to environmental governance in Nigeria.’

“The idea behind this theme is for the stakeholders to critically think through the need for accurate and timely availability of data and information in the delivery of environmental governance in Nigeria as practiced in other environmentally conscious parts of the world,” he added.

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Sarkin Ban, Kano oldest kingmaker, dies at 95

The Sarkin Ban Kano, who was the oldest kingmaker, as well as the first Commissioner of Education in Kano, Alhaji Mukhtar Adnan, has died at the age of 95.

Adnan, who was the District Head of Dambatta, died in the early hours of Friday after a brief illness, according to family sources.

A deposed Emir of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi, appointed Mukhtar Adnan as Sarkin Bai in 1954 to succeed his father.

According to a historian and writer on Kano Emirate, Ibrahim Ado Kurawa, Adnan was born in 1926.

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He attended Dambatta Elementary School, Kano Middle School and Zaria Clerical School.

He started his career in the Kano Native Authority, where he served in various capacities before his elevation to the position of Sarkin Bai.

Adnan was the longest-serving member of the Kano Emirate Council, since the establishment of the Emirate in the 19th century.

He served for 63 years as a district councillor and kingmaker.

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He participated in the selection process of three emirs: Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Inuwa (1963), Sarkin Kano Ado Bayero (1963-2014), Sarkin Kano Muhammad Sanusi and Sarkin Kano Aminu Bayero in 2020.

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350 people owing banks N4.4trn, says Senate

The Senate on Friday lamented that the efforts to recover the N4.5trn owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria were being frustrated by 350 prominent Nigerians.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani, stated this at a stakeholders’ symposium titled, ‘Consolidating the effectiveness of the asset recovery model adopted by AMCON,’ in Abuja.

Sani said, “The road has not always been smooth for AMCON. For a long time, AMCON has been at the receiving end of well-laid and orchestrated acts of economic sabotage.

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“Of the N4.4trn we are trying to recover, about 350 people in this country are responsible. This is about 83 per cent of the debt. This is very worrisome. This means that powerful Nigerians are the ones not willing to pay these loans.”

“They have been employing different strategies and tactics to stall the repayment of loans running into trillions of Naira. A lot of highly placed Nigerians are not willing to support AMCON because most of those people are the ones that took this money from the banks and of course you know the government came in to set up AMCON to save banks from going down.”

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Sani assured the agency that the committee and other relevant committees of the Senate would do everything within their power to assist AMCON in recovering the N4.4trn owed the company.

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Buhari calls for partnership among world leaders to tackle human challenges

The President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, called for partnership among world leaders to tackle the common challenges faced by humanity.

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

The statement was titled, ‘President Buhari: World Leaders Must Reinforce Partnerships To Address Humanity’s Common Challenges.’

According to the statement, Buhari made the call on Friday while speaking at the EXPO event in Dubai.

The President declared that the theme of the event, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, depicts the call for all stakeholders, across national boundaries, to urgently work together for a better and brighter future.

Buhari said, “The concerted efforts by world leaders, working together, enabled us to limit the catastrophic consequences of this pandemic.

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“Such level of continuing understanding and pragmatic partnerships are needed and must be reinforced to ensure that our world is a better place that addresses humanity’s common challenges to guarantee sustainable development and progress for the global community.”

The President also revealed that Nigeria was ready to partner with relevant investors in order to make the country better.

“Therefore, the Nigerian delegation is participating in this EXPO with great prospects for positive outcomes, while assuring the world of our determination and readiness to partner with relevant investors in our bid to tackle a number of challenges to make Nigeria a better country,” Buhari said.

He added, “Nigeria is participating in this epoch-making event in order to explore opportunities that are capable of unlocking the huge potentials that abound in our country, as it makes conscious efforts to be a strategic partner of choice for the global community.

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“It is my pleasure, therefore, to invite all participating countries, organisations, and other private sector operators to take full advantage of opportunities being provided by the EXPO 2020, by linking up with the Nigerian team, to collaborate with us in diverse areas of interests for our mutual benefits.”

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Dowen college: Why govt must get to the bottom of Sylvester’s death – Atiku

Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku on Friday stated that the government shall fail in its duties if it doesn’t get to the bottom of the death of a 12-year-old student of Dowen College in Lagos, Sylvester Oromoni.

Atiku took to his social media platforms to react on the child’s death, which had sparked a lot of agitations from Nigerians.

He said, “We shall be failing in our duties as parents/ guardians, administrators, security agencies and government if we do not get to the bottom of the case of late Sylvester Oromoni. It is beholden upon us to enthrone a safe environment in our schools. #JusticeforSylvester.”

Reports had emerged that Oromoni was bullied and beaten by fellow students. The supposed injuries from the beating led to his death, according to a Twitter user with the handle @perrisonoromoni, who claimed to be the boy’s cousin.

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However, in a statement on Wednesday, the school denied all allegations stating that Oromoni was neither bullied nor beaten but only complained of hip pain after playing football.

Contrary to the school’s statement, the victim’s cousin rolled out photos and video evidence, which corroborated the fact that the child was bullied and beaten; an action that led to his death.

Celebrities and Nigerians on social media has demanded justice for the late Sylvester and has rolled out the hashtag #justiceforsylvester to voice out their agitations.

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Nollywood stars like Funke Akindele-Bello, Mercy Johnson-Okojie, Tonto Dikeh, Mary Njoku, Chioma Ifemeludike, Nkechi Blessing, Doris Ogala, and a host of others have demanded justice for the child.

Other celebrities including Morayo Brown, Ayra Starr, Tacha, Alex Unusual, and others have also lent their voice to the demand for justice.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has ordered the indefinite closure of the school, pending the outcome of an investigation into the student’s death.

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Osun 2022: Stop lying, accept your failure, Senator Bashir slams Lasun

The lawmaker representing Osun-Central senatorial district, Senator Ajibola Basiru, has lambasted the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, for saying the 2018 All Progressives Congress governorship primary was rigged in favour of Governor Gboyega Oyetola.

Basiru said this during a chat with The PUNCH on Friday while reacting to claims by Lasun that the direct primary system was adopted by the APC in 2018 to rig the election.

“Lasun lost that 2018 primary and he should not attempt to heap gratuitous insults on the integrity of our party,” the senator said.

Lasun had also alleged that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who supervised the ‘rigged’ primary in 2018, was rewarded with the position of Deputy Senate President.

Responding to the former deputy speaker’s claim, however, Senator Basiru said it was unfortunate that Lasun was not bold enough to admit that he lost that election because he lacked the support of the people in the state.

Basiru said it was public knowledge that in 2018, Lasun had abandoned his supporters in Osun State despite his influential position in the National Assembly.

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“As far as I am concerned, the former deputy speaker did not win any primary. He lost that primary with a very wide margin. Why is he just complaining about a primary that took place in 2018? Is it because he is now contesting?

“Even at the time, it was only one aspirant that complained about the outcome of the primary. All other aspirants including Lasun did not even issue a statement.”

Basiru argued that Lasun was within his rights to contest the governorship election in Osun State next year but urged the former deputy speaker to go about it honourably and not twist facts.

“It is not expected that someone of his status would issue such false statements and bring the party to disrepute. I advise him to run his campaign with integrity. The result of the 2018 primary was clear. If he claims he won, let him present the evidence,” he said.

On claims that Omo-Agege was rewarded with the deputy senate presidency for rigging the 2018 Osun APC governorship primary, Basiru said, “It is just another lie. You are aware that the Senate conducted an election and voted Omo-Agege as Deputy President of the Senate.

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“Even some members of the Peoples Democratic Party supported Omo-Agege. So, for some people to re-write history in such a manner is unfortunate.”

The senator alleged that Lasun was disloyal to the APC in 2018 and undermined the administration of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

He argued that it was curious that Lasun could claim that Aregbesola is now his brother.

“Lasun undermined the APC both at the national and state level during the time of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. It is strange now that he is calling Aregbesola his brother. This is very funny,” he stated.

The senator said Governor Gboyega Oyetola had served Osun State meritoriously in the last three years, adding that it was unlikely Lasun would win the APC primary next year given his dubious strategy and antecedent.

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