NEMA Donates Food Items to Benue IDPs


About 50 trucks worth of food items donated by the National Emergency Management Agency,  NEMA have been distributed to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in Benue State,  North Central Nigeria.

Flagging off the distribution, the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior said the food items comprised Maize, Millet and Garri.

Mr. Shior insists that the food items were to be distributed equally to the remaining six official and 22 unofficial IDPs camps in Guma, Logo and Makurdi Local Government Areas of the State.

“We have six official camps and about 22 unofficial Camps. The unofficial camps comprise IDPs within our host communities.

“The food items comprise over 50 trucks of Maize, Millet and Garri that NEMA supplied to Benue SEMA since first week of December, 2018”.

Mr. Shior explained that SEMA took the steps to distribute the items after several attempts to draw the attention of NEMA headquarters and it’s zonal office in Jos failed.

The Executive Secretary says “given the major challenge the IDPs are facing, the State Governor, Samuel Ortom has directed the commencement of distribution to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs”.

He added that it also became expedient for government to flag off the distribution as the food items were at the mercy of rodents and damage due to bad weather.

The distribution of the food items was witnessed by the officials of the sustainable development goals, NEPAD as well as Civil Society Organizations and the media.

2.1million children get vaccination against polio in Borno


The Borno state Government, North-East Nigeria, says it has vaccinated more than 2.1 million children against polio in the just concluded Immunization Plus Day exercise in the state.

Dr. Sule Mele, Executive Director, Borno State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA), made the disclosure on Friday in an interview with source in Maiduguri, the state capital.

About 2.2 million children were targeted for immunization in the four-day exercise conducted between February 15 and February19.

The Agency achieved 96 percent coverage in the exercise while about four percent of the targeted population in hard-to-reach settlements were not accessible due to security challenges.

“The Agency is constrained to reach some areas such as Kala Balge Local Government Area, which was cut off due to flood disaster and humanitarian crises.

“There are some population trapped in these compromised areas; we may not be able to finish the exercise in four days. We need further plan to see how we can reach them in subsequent exercises,”  he said.

Mele said the Agency in collaboration with humanitarian partners deployed about 2,000 immunization personnel including monitors and supervisors for the exercise.

The director added that the Agency was working in collaboration with the military, security agencies, community and religious leaders to mobilize participation and facilitate smooth conduct of the exercise.

Amaka E. Nliam

Lesotho PM faces charge of murdering first wife

Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Thabane

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will be charged with the murder of his late wife, the deputy police commissioner said, the latest twist in a love triangle murder case that has stunned the southern African highland kingdom.

Thabane, 80, took to the radio to announce that he would step down at the end of July, but he did not mention the case.

He instead cited old age as a reason for quitting as premier of the mountainous territory encircled by South Africa, and which has a long history of political instability.

Thabane had been under mounting pressure over the death of former first lady Lipolelo, who was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in the capital Maseru two days before he took office.

The prime minister’s current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, was detained this month and charged with ordering the murder, but is currently out on bail.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane (R) with his wife Maesaiah Thabane (L), at the funeral of the late Lipolelo Thabane

“The prime minister is going to be charged with the murder. The police are preparing directives and he will probably be charged tomorrow,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete said.

Both she and Thomas, who married two months after Lipolelo’s killing, have denied any involvement in her death.

His spokesman Relebohile Moyeye said by telephone that he could not comment because he had not yet seen the police charges.

Police say that Maesaiah, 42, hired eight assassins to kill the former first lady but that she was not present at the shooting.

Lipolelo and Thomas were going through an acrimonious divorce at the time. An unknown assailant shot her dead in her car.

The prime minister’s resignation comes days after his party’s executive council called for him to step down immediately.

“I have served my country diligently,” Thabane said on state radio.

“I’ve worked for a peaceful and stable Lesotho. Today … at my age, I have lost most of my energy … I hereby retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July.”

Thabane is set to appear in court on the murder charges on Friday, the deputy commissioner said, adding that the charge sheet had already been prepared but that Thabane’s lawyers had requested an extra day.


Chidi Nwoke.

Europa league: Saka dazzles Olympicos


Bukayo Saka yet again dazzled with an all-round awe-inspiring display as Arsenal defeated Olympiacos in their round 32 clash of the Europa league

The scintillating youngster has come a long way since the days of Hale End, and having broken into his side’s first team this season, he has not looked back.

He was meant to thrive upfront, alongside Nicolas Pepe on the attacking flanks, finding the target and running at defences, or slipping in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette but then lightening struck.

Eyebrows were raised when Freddie Ljungberg opted to push the teenager further back to plug the gap in the left defensive channel due to an injury crisis that befell the club, with all and sundry knowing fully well that he is an out-and-out winger who loves to take on opposing defenders, creating and laying on goals as well as scoring them.

Saka obliged, choosing to fly by the seat of his pants but what has followed thus is unmistakably, one of the biggest profitable conversion in the division.

Combining grit and hardwork on both ends of the pitch, the London-born starlet has made himself one of the most sought after prospects in world football and there have even been talks Arsenal could lose him to an European heavyweight should they fail to guarantee their place amongst the elites at the end of this season.

Once his club future is sorted which the Gunners hierarchy has made fans to believe they will soon do, that would then bring us straight to his international future.

England manager Gareth Southgate has been keenly watching and observing the growth of the youngster and there are suggestions he could have a role to play for the Three Lions when they play Italy and Denmark in their friendly games next month, and while Saka has professed his love for Nigeria, it will be tantamount to tomfoolery for the NFF to continue to neglect his choice.

Gernot Rohr can give the move to beat their English counterparts to his future a head start by at least handing out a call-up for the qualifiers next month. And this is very much a sensible thing to do at the moment for very plausible reasons.

Firstly, the Franco-German’s options on the left channel are shockingly out of form for their clubs. Ola Aina has been a shadow of himself of late at Torino, Jamilu Collins have yet to play any decent game with Paderborn in recent weeks, and even Samuel Kalu cannot get a game at Bordeaux as he continue to be at loggerheads with the team management.

Also, his inclusion in the Super Eagles firepower is one that will certainly benefit a player like Victor Osimhen who likes to get into danger areas, of course boasting the needed pace, power and quickness to do so, and we all have seen how Saka’s abilities to put in dangerous balls in the final third has profited Arsenal a lot so far.

For the records, Saka already has nine assists this season, the most of any Arsenal player so far, while he has also scored three.

If the basis for invitation to the national team is solely hinged on one’s current form and performances at the biggest of club level, then Bukayo Saka should be getting a look-in for the Super Eagles, and the time can’t be any riper.

NBS to conduct census of commercial, industrial businesses


Ahead of the national census of commercial and industrial businesses in Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), conducted a workshop to sensitize stakeholders from 18 Northern states on the project.

The Statistician General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, who made this known at the opening of the workshop in Kaduna, said that it was to provide clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders towards the success of the enumeration exercise.

He noted that the such census was conducted 21 years ago in 1998/1999, as such it was imperative to get new and accurate data of the businesses to support policy formulation and implementation.

According to him, the data generated would help government and the private sector in proper planning for the sector as well as meeting key SDGs targets.

Kale who was represented by Simon Harry, NBS Head of Corporate Planning and Technical Coordination, stressed that it was important for the country to join the global information society by having accurate data on all areas of development.

“There is need for reliable statistical information to be able to manage critical sectors such as education, health, environment, commerce, industry and agriculture.

“Without it, we cannot make well informed decisions that will catalyse our social and economic development for the improvement of the welfare of the citizenry,

“This informs the conduct of the NCCIB to enable us track the growth of the economy and the contribution of all relevant sectors,” the statistician-general said.

He further explained that the National Census of Commercial and Industrial Business (NCCIB) is also designed to complement other important surveys like the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), and National Nutrition and Health Survey conducted by the NBS.

Kale disclosed that the census would help to provide answers on the number of business enterprises each state of the federation has, their location, employment strength and capacity utilization.

“Such information is critical in determining the direction and strength of the nation’s economy,” he stated.

He said that at the end of the exercise, it will be easier to classify businesses into small, medium and large enterprises, as well as their spread across the 774 local government areas in the country.

Kale said the NBS is collaborating with the World Bank and will deploy Information Communication Technology (ICT) at every stage of the exercise.

“We shall be using the computer assisted personnel interviewer devices during field work operations.

“Also for ease of accessibility and in order to avoid overlapping, the entire country has been divided into blocks (LGAs) and segments to enable the data collected to be tracked by areas of concentration of business in Nigeria,” he added.

Kale explained that the process of blocking has been completed, while work on segmentation is ongoing.

The statistician-general, therefore, solicited the support of all stakeholders towards the success of the census.

Peace PIAK


South Sudan to form unity government by Saturday deadline

South Sudan Former Opposition Leader Riek Machar (L) shakes hands with Sudan's President Salva Kiir (R) at the State House in Juba, South Sudan

Oil-rich South Sudan’s former rebel leader and its president will form a unity government by Saturday’s deadline, quashing fears the deadline would be pushed back again.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked his then-deputy Riek Machar, who went on to lead the main rebel faction.

The conflict claimed an estimated 400,000 lives, triggered a famine and created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Civilians flee fighting at a United Nations base in South Sudan during the Sudan/South Sudan civil war in 2013

A November 12 deadline to form a unity government was pushed back because key criteria of a 2018 peace agreement had not been met, prompting the United States to impose sanctions on some political leaders.

Many of those issues remain outstanding but last Saturday the president agreed to reduce the number of states, a key rebel demand.

“We have agreed to form the government on 22 Feb,” former rebel leader Machar told journalists after a meeting at State House.

President Kiir said he would appoint Machar as first vice president on Friday, and provide all the members of the former opposition with protection.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) addresses citizens and the media at the State House in Juba, South Sudan

“We are going to discuss the security arrangements for the protection of all opposition forces and members,” Kiir said.

“If there are things we have not agreed upon, we have agreed to resolve them. We shall finalize them in coming days.”

The integration of forces, reorganizing political parties, and transitional justice are all outstanding issues, said James Okuk, a senior researcher at the Juba-based Center for Strategic and Policy Studies thinktank.

“The parties still have much to work through, but Machar was unlikely to extract more significant concessions before forming the government,” said Alan Boswell, a senior analyst at the Brussels-based Crisis Group thinktank.

“Now is the time,” Boswell added.

South Sudan became the world’s youngest nation when it won independence from neighboring Sudan, following decades of conflict.

Civil war broke out two years later when forces loyal to Kiir and Machar clashed in the capital. Kiir is a Dinka, the country’s largest ethnic group, and Machar comes from the Nuer community.

The war was marked by extreme sexual violence and ethnic cleansing. Fighting forced a third of the population from their homes.

The current peace is extremely fragile, warned a United Nations report released on Thursday.

High level corruption is rampant, militias are being armed and civilians deliberately starved, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in its report. More than half the 12-million strong population face food shortages, it said.

“The revitalized peace process has led to a fragile peace at the national level in South Sudan, the conflict having shifted to an intensification of ethnic violence at a localized level,” the UN report said.

It accused government forces of arming local militias to attack neighboring communities.
“Deliberate starvation is clearly occurring along ethnic and political lines,” the report said.

South Sudanese government officials were not immediately available for comment.


Chidi Nwoke.

‘I’m still settling in at Manchester United’ – Ighalo


Odion Ighalo says he’s still settling in at Manchester United, but he is working hard in training to ensure he starts firing soon.

The former Watford star joined United from Shanghai Shenhua in a loan deal that keeps him at Old Trafford until the end of the season.

He made his debut as a late substitute in the win over Chelsea on Monday, while he also made his Europa League debut as a substitute again in the draw with Club Brugge.

But despite featuring in both games, Ighalo reveals he hasn’t attained full fitness yet, but he is working hard to reach the level of his new teammates.

The 30-year-old also revealed he is aware of the pressure that comes with playing for Man Utd and he’s putting in the shift to ensure his time at the club is successful.

When asked if he feels pressured to deliver, Ighalo told Ojbsports: “Well, Man Utd is a big team, like you said they have winning tradition, So I think I have to keep doing my job, and when that time comes, the goals will start coming.”

He also insists he will get better with more training and more games having not played since December.

“Because I think just three or four training with the team, and I am getting used to the guys, I am getting used to the team, so I am working really hard, doing extra training to meet up because I’ve not played a game since December,” he added.

Trading rebounds on NSE, index increases by 0.17%


The Nigerian Stock Exchange recorded its first gain for the week with the market indices improving by 0.17 per cent due to interest in BUA Cement and 18 other stocks.

Specifically, the All-Share Index rose by 45.83 points or 0.17 per cent on Thursday to close at 27,568.91 compared with 27,523.08 achieved on Wednesday.

Also, the market capitalisation improved by N24 billion N14.362 trillion against N14.338 trillion on Wednesday.

The upturn was impacted by gains recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; BUA Cement, C & I Leasing, United Capital, Africa Prudential and Ikeja Hotel.

Analysts at Afrinvest Limited stated that “There remain opportunities for bargain hunting, however, we expect the equities market to close the week in the red”.

Market breadth closed positive with 19 gainers and 10 losers.

AIICo Insurance and Ikeja Hotels led the gainers’ chart in percentage terms, gaining 10 per cent each, to close at 99k and N1.21 per share, respectively.

United Capital followed with a gain of 9.94 per cent to close at N3.54 per share.

Wapic Insurance improved by 9.68 per cent to close at 34k, while Associated Bus Company appreciated by 9.38 per cent to close at 35k per share.

On the other hand, Law Union and Rock Insurance and SFS Real Estate investment Trust (SFSREIT) led the losers’ chart in percentage terms with a loss of 10 per cent each, to close at 81k and N76.95, per share.

Champion Breweries followed with a decline of 9.28 per cent to close at 88k per share.

Jaiz Bank lost 7.35 per cent to close at 63k, while Oando shed 6.59 per cent to close at N3.26 per share.

An analysis of the activity chart shows that transactions in the shares of Sovereign Trust Insurance topped the activity chart with 200 million shares valued at N40 million.

Guaranty Trust Bank followed with an exchange of 56.29 million shares worth N1.57 billion, while Zenith Bank sold 36.71 million shares valued at N713.88 million.

United Bank for Africa traded 32.36 million shares worth N247.45 million, while FBN Holdings transacted 31.19 million shares valued at N179.37 million.

In all, investors traded 484.99 million shares worth N3.59 billion in 4,187 deals.

This was against 290.15 million shares valued at N5.02 billion transacted in 3,528 deals achieved on Wednesday.


Peace PIAK

President Buhari tasks religious leaders on social ideals

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised Christian and Muslim leaders, and preachers generally in the country to give more attention to issues that strengthen the family, and build the society, describing them as “custodians of our values and of social ideals.’’

Speaking at the Joint National Conference of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the pet project of the First Lady, code-named Future Assured Initiative, on Repositioning the Muslim Family for National Development, President Buhari said the family provides the bedrock for any society and deserved more attention in Nigeria.

“In this endeavour, our religious leaders and organizations are the most important catalysts. They are the custodians of our values and of our social ideals. It is, therefore, commendable that the Nigerian Supreme Council in collaboration with the Future Assured Initiative has risen up to this challenge.

“I, however, wish to call on all our religious leaders and organizations, both Christian and Muslim, to follow suit by redirecting important elements of their preaching and teachings on family issues with a view to broadening the sensitization of people at the grassroots level,’’ he said.

The President said the government would also put more effort into ensuring economic support and empowering of family members for more stability.

“We have been conscious of the havoc poverty is wreaking on the family. We, therefore, believe that poverty alleviation is central to safeguarding the integrity of our families.

“Our administration introduced a number of economic empowerment and poverty alleviation schemes. Some of these directly impact families while others have an indirect effect on families through their multiplier effects.

“The first, and most robust programme, is the Social Investment Programme, which serves as a very broad framework for availing Nigerian families at the grassroots level different forms of economic support,’’ President Buhari added.

President Muhammadu Buhari and a cross-section of participants at the Joint National Conference organised by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Future Assured Initiative.

Impactful Programmes

According to the President, many homes had benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfer, while trader-moni and market-moni schemes have also been impactful.

“The school feeding programme has assisted immensely in supporting poor Nigerian families in getting their children enrolled and sustained in school,’’ he said.

On the flag-off of marriage counselling projects across the country, President Buhari noted that the search for national rebirth, efforts at fighting corruption, indiscipline and struggle for attitudinal change must all begin from the family unit.

“While we appreciate the significant role of the mass media and other public enlightenment channels and outfits in propagating and promoting positive values, we just have to acknowledge the fact that all these builds, after all, upon the foundations that must have been laid down at home,’’ he said.

Family Challenges

The President said most of the challenges affecting the family fall within the mandates and jurisdictions of the state governments, urging the governments to rise to the challenges and do their full parts in the effort for social regeneration.

President Buhari commended His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar and Future Assured Initiative, under the leadership of Her Excellency, the First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, for the projects on marriage and family.

In her remarks, the First Lady said the project will identify critical marriage challenges and suggest relevant instruments for addressing them, which include sensitizing relevant stakeholders on their responsibilities.

“We have succeeded in assembling an array of Islamic scholars to further deliberate on these matters, with the belief that they will do justice to the issues,’’ she added.

On his part, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, said the Universal Basic Education policy should be fully implemented to compel parents to send their children to school, assuring that the National Assembly will work with the Executive to ensure compliance.

In his keynote address, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, admonished men to take full responsibility for their marriages, especially in economic terms, by marrying only when they can take care of a wife, and having children they can cater for.


Zainab Sa’id

Fury reveals his game plan against Wilder


Tyson Fury has been talking a good fight in Las Vegas this week. Fury has promised to come for a war, to engage his inner Raging Bull when he steps into the ring with Deontay Wilder on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It seems a crazy plan. Why, after all, change something that seemed to be working so well?

For such a big man – the Englishman stands at around 6ft 9in – Fury has always relied on his movement rather than his strength. Wilder, whom he challenges for the WBC heavyweight title, is all about power. So why put yourself in harm’s way? In one way, it smacks of over confidence.

“He couldn’t beat the Gypsy King on my worst night,” Fury said. “So, over a year later he ain’t got no chance, I’m going to slap him around the ring no problem.”

There is a compelling case for Fury. After all, when they first met in December 2018 in Los Angeles, Fury came into the bout on two low-key fights in more than three years, having lost around 10st (63.5kg) in the previous 10 months. That was supposed to be Fury fighting to get fit, not Fury training to fight. Surely there is improvement in him.

“Last time, he trained to lose all the weight,” Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter, said. “This time he has trained to fight.”

The new game plan is supposedly the reason he dropped Ben Davison as his trainer in at the end of last year and went to Javon “Sugarhill” Steward, the nephew of the late Emanuel Steward, legendary trainer of Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.

If Fury is telling the truth – and there is no real reason, other than politeness, to believe he is – he thinks he has to knock Wilder out, having felt he got a raw deal from the judges in Los Angeles. Davison was reluctant to let Fury be aggressive. When he landed well in the first fight, Davison’s instinct was to implore Fury to hold back, to not get greedy.

With Steward, Fury says there has been much more emphasis on balance, on putting his weight behind his shots. There has been much more sparring too and Fury admits that he has been hit more in sparring for this fight than ever before.

Things have not gone well before when he has decided to mix it. In 2013, he boxed the much smaller Steve Cunningham in his United States debut and seemed determined to put on an exciting fight for the fans. He ended up having to climb off the floor to win.

“Wanting to go head to head with him is a bold move, but we fight fire with fire,” Fury said. “When I went at him in the first fight, though, he could not contain me. If I start doing that in round one, then he will be gassed by round five and hanging on for dear life, if he even gets that far.

“If I’m stupid enough to get hit with [Wilder’s right hand], I deserve to lose. I hit the floor last time, but I showed that I’m truly a fighting man. If he can’t finish me, I’m going to eat him up.”

He got off the canvas twice in his first fight with Wilder, something that gives both a sense of comfort. It proves, in Fury’s mind, that he can take Wilder’s best punch. For Wilder, it shows him he can hurt Fury, if the chance presents itself.

We can expect a different Wilder this time too, possibly a more patient one. Go back to 2018 and he had no real idea of what Fury he was going to face. At the forefront of his mind, though, would have been Fury’s performance against Wladimir Klitschko, when he claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF titles in Germany in 2015.

Fury frustrated Klitschko that night with tactics sometimes so negative that the champion barely threw his right hand. Wilder was determined not to fall into the same trap and was too aggressive early on, wasting punches and energy, while leaving himself open to being counter-punched.

“I don’t believe anything Fury says,” Wilder said. “He is just trying to butter me up and use a lot of mind games. He did that in the first fight to try and steal rounds. I am not concerned with what I says, I am more focused on what he does. I am a man of action.

“I am planning for everything, but I think when coming forward doesn’t work for him, he will resort to what he knows. He may try to come forward at first, but once he feels my power, that will stop quickly.”

It sets up for an intriguing contest. Whatever he has said, Fury’s best hope lies in working off the backfoot. If he comes out swinging, he could end badly for him. Whichever way he fights, though, it seems unlikely that he can stay away from Wilder’s power for the full 12 rounds.