#Euro2016: Robson-Kanu Scores Winner As Wales Play 2-1 Against Slovakia

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Hal Robson-Kanu scored the winner for Wales, as they secured a 2-1 win over Slovakia in their first match in a major tournament in 58 years.

Bale scored the opener, as he whipped in a free-kick from 30 yards, beating Matus Kozacik in the 10th minute.

Ondrej Duda came off the bench for Slovakia and scored the equaliser, with Mak providing the assist.

Robson-Kanu was decisive for Wales, as he came off the bench with ten minutes to spare and converted Ramsey’s pass, in an untidy finish.

Wales

All the pre-match build-up had focused on Bale against Hamsik, and it was the Slovakia star who was first to threaten with a brilliant solo run inside three minutes.

Hamsik robbed Bale and drove away from three Wales defenders before beating Ward with a low shot, but Davies got back superbly to clear.

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#Euro2016: Schar Heads Switzerland Past Albania In 1-0 Win

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Switzerland got their Euro 2016 campaign off to a positive start, after securing a 1-0 win over Albania in their opener.

Schar made the most of Etrit Berisha’s mistake, who stormed out in an attempt to clear Shaqiri’s corner, with the Swiss heading in the lone goal in the fifth minute.

Switzerland

Albania faced a more daunting task of coming back into the game, with their captain Lorik Cana getting sent off after a second bookable offence.

Despite being a man light Albania pressed for an equaliser, while Berisha tried to make amends for his costly error by making a string of saves from Seferovic.

There was to be no addition to the scoreline, however, Albania substitute Shkelzen Gashi wasting a glorious opening in the 87th minute with defeat putting pressure on the Eagles to get a result in their next match against hosts France in Marseille.

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#Euro2016: Lloris Heaps Praise on Payet

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France captain Hugo Lloris was delighted with Dimitri Payet, after he netted the winning goal in the 2-1 opener over Romania.

Stancu cancelled out Giroud’s opener from the penalty spot, and the game looked set for a draw.

Only for West Ham midfielder, Payet to score a bullet of a shot and secure all three points for les bleus.

“The most important thing was to get the three points,” Lloris said. “It was a tough game with a lot of pressure and we also felt quite a lot of tension in our team.

“Just when we thought we had got through the most difficult part, the Romanians were awarded a penalty and they scored. And then Dimitri Payet managed to save us all with this amazing goal.

“We managed to find the resources to win the game and we must congratulate Dimitri Payet, who scored a fantastic goal.

“Be it with France or West Ham, everybody knows how talented he is. Plus, it was good for him to kick-start his tournament. And we can sense that he is doing well and is full of confidence.

“Even if a win is always a team effort, you always need your top players to perform at their best.”

Lloris was forced into a crucial save in the first half of the contest as Romania took the game to the hosts in the early stages.

“[The save] is just a goalkeeper’s job, we always try to do our best for the team,” the Tottenham shot-stopper said.

“It is true that it prevented us from finding ourselves in a losing situation straight away, especially as that was a tough spell for us and we did not start the game as we wanted to.

“But as the game progressed, we took the upper hand.”

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Is Buhari A President Of Northern Nigeria? – Tope Oriola

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The Vanguard newspaper reported the visit of a delegation of Northern leaders to the then president-elect Muhammadu Buhari on May 11th 2015.

The delegation was led by Alhaji Maitama Sule. Sule told Buhari: “You are the president of Nigeria, you are not the president of Northern Nigeria by the grace of God”. Maitama Sule was someone you had to take seriously. I ruminated over the story for several minutes and wondered why the acclaimed orator felt the need to publicly ask Buhari to be a president for the whole of Nigeria.

This article was written by Tope Oriola. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

We now know why and the underpinnings are quite ugly. The president needs to demonstrate that he is willing to trust Nigerians who neither speak Fulfulde nor Hausa. My assessment is that his skewed appointments speak to a lack of trust, rather than outright clannishness. The president needs to realise that he is president of the whole of Nigeria and millions of Nigerians from the streets of Kano to the parks of Lagos genuinely wish him well in office. His success is our success. No one should make light of the efforts that go into each political appointment. I do not think the president sets out to spite anybody but the idea that he is appointing people on merit despite the lopsidedness is no longer funny. If President Buhari sincerely believes that his appointments so far have been based on merit, then with all due respect, his future is in standup comedy.

The president’s inner circle seems to lack not just adequate representation but also depth and rigour. Buhari did not think he would win the elections as he did not expect President Jonathan to concede defeat. Therefore, President Buhari assumed office grossly unprepared and lacking the scintilla of a plan for governance. He had become habituated to losing elections and did not do his rudimentary homework on Nigeria’s many problems. This is quite problematic given that he contested for over 12 years. Why exactly was he running for office? Did he think he was simply going to manage oil wealth?

There are no new problems in Nigeria. Many of the problems have increased in intensity and metastasised but none of the problems is entirely new. Consequently, a diligent presidential candidate would have prepared. The president simply assumed he could show up and his “body language” — whatever that means — would keep people in check and all would be well. His command and obey personality type has not helped matters. I have a lot of respect for the military but Nigeria is not an overgrown military barracks. By personality type, temperament and proclivity, Buhari is unsuited to the rather frustrating guiles of democracy and demands of civil society.

Gains have clearly been made in the fight against Boko Haram, although we still await the rescue of all the Chibok girls. The plight of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) is a test of the basic competence of this administration. The signs are not good given the deplorable conditions of IDPs. What is going on at the camps is nothing short of state crime — in this case, elaborate criminogenic structures established by government workers in the course of their duties.

Let me assure President Buhari with the benefit of over seven years of research on the Niger Delta that there is no military solution to the problem posed by the Niger Delta Avengers. Deployment of troops may provide a temporary reprieve but in the end, the administration’s current approach is similar to taking Panadol for a heart problem. The Niger Delta Avengers are the newly minted products in the carousel of social injustice. Exterminating the Avengers to the last combatant — assuming that were probable — would provide a two-to-three year tranquility before other groups emerge. Why? The underlying factors fabricating insurgents in the Niger Delta have not been tackled. President Jonathan failed the Niger Delta. He and several Niger Delta governors did a fine job of adopting a cosmetic solution — coopting insurgent “Generals” and distributing allowances through the amnesty programme. However, the Mary Kay approach should have been followed up with serious infrastructural development in the Niger Delta. The president acknowledged via a letter dated July 21st 2015 the receipt of a copy of my book on the Niger Delta. Based on interviews with diverse participants such as Ken Saro-Wiwa (Jr.), Annkio Briggs, Asari Dokubo, and dozens of ex-agitators, and community members, among others, I hate to state that I predicted what is going on now. Government policy ought to be crafted and implemented with findings from empirical research and not transient emotions.

The president’s reluctance to publicly focus on the Fulani herdsmen’s violence that has ravaged Benue and several other states may haunt his administration and legacy. His approach to the issue has been a national embarrassment in a country where shame took off a long time ago. The president needs to show leadership and assert that human lives are more important than cattle. In addition, the handling of the issue of Biafra is the stuff that separates real statesmen from half-baked politicians. The president has not approached the South-East with the needed acumen and sophistication. He has come off as irritable and petulant. A deeper engagement with the South-East and South-South is long overdue.

The main part of the narrative is the president’s capacity. This is a combination of innate talents and acquired knowledge. There is no expectation anywhere in the world that a Head of State would have answers to all things. However, a leader must be a mop for knowledge. Buhari’s hermitic lifestyle after leaving the military and following each electoral loss was not adequate preparation for governance. He is the only former Head of State with no known involvement in think-tanks or any foundation executing humanitarian projects.

Buhari’s repertoire of knowledge has unraveled in the face of “modern” challenges. I doubt that the president is teachable and I feel sorry for his advisers. I have come to the conclusion based on the evidence of the last one year that the president either lacks the humility to learn or is simply bereft of the capacity to adapt to 21st century leadership. Each of these two problems is in and of itself debilitating; to have both reposed in a president is the road to systemic paralysis. We are in terrible company. It is the singular reason why Africa is not rising despite the optimism of the last few years.

All hope is not lost. I continue to believe that Buhari’s administration may yet leave Nigeria better than it was in 2015 if the president focuses on his current term and banishes the temptation to seek a second term. The math is simple: President Buhari cannot win a second term under a free and fair atmosphere. Besides, everything he stands for would be negated in the quest for a second term. His second term as I stated in an open letter to the president would be similar to Obasanjo’s third term project.

Finally, is Buhari a president of Northern Nigeria? The talakawa of the North have also been negatively affected by Buhari’s babalawo economics. There are Northerners who are unhappy with his geographically favouritist, sexist and ageism-in-reverse appointments. I don’t think Buhari would be remembered as the president of Northern Nigeria. Unless the president turns things around, he will be remembered — perhaps unfairly — as a policy lightweight and the president who could not provide tomatoes.

‘Tope Oriola is professor of criminology at the University of Alberta, Canada. Twitter:@topeoriola

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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It’s A Shore Thang! Miley Cyrus And Liam Hemsworth Set For Summer Nuptials

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Miey Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are getting set to hold a summer beach wedding in Australia, according to sources.

“The’re getting married on the beach, they will have help planning the event. Their parents are doing most of the work. It’s been easy”, the source said.

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Miley and Liam gera for a beach wedding

Miley and Liam began dating in 2009 while filming The Last Song. They couldn’t get enough of each other as three years later the loved up couple announced their engagement.

That didn’t quite work out as the Wrecking Ball singer and Hunger Games actor broke up in 2013.

Still, their love must be thicker than whatever keeps making them to break up as they hooked up again last year – after two years apart, and Miley was spotted rocking her diamond engagement ring, again.

miley cyrus

Miley Cyrus began rocking her engagement ring again

When the couple visited Australia in late April, a source said they were looking for venues, “They were discussing potential venues and looking around”, while adding the loved up duo was “just checking out places to exchange vows.”

Miley has also enlisted the help of French designer Simon Jacquemus to help her create a series of wedding dresses for the big day.

“Simon is going to help Miley create a series of quirky outfits. She says there will be five outfit changes throughout the day and pink will definitely be a running theme”, revealed an insider in Miley’s camp.

miley cyrus

The break-up to make-up couple finally want to settle down

Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, also gave a hint on his daughter’s impending nuptials in a recent interview on Today, where he said he would be happy to officiate his daughter’s wedding.

Ray Cyrus said, “Here’s what I do know,’ he said. ‘They’re so happy. That’s the main thing. Miley and I, we always had this slogan—If you ain’t happy, it ain’t working.”

During an interview in the latest GQ Australia, Liam couldn’t resist talking about Miley.

Read: “I Threw A Knife At His Head”, Liam Hemsworth Admits Childhood Rivalry With Brother, Chris

miley cyrus

Speaking of his breakup with Cyrus in 2013 , Hemsworth said in the interview, “Of course it was hard, man. But at the time we were going in different directions and it’s just what needed to happen. We were both super young and it was a good decision at the time—we both needed that.”

The Australian star added, “I make my decisions about what’s going to make me happy, what I think is right and what I want to do, and I don’t worry too much outside of that.”

Commenting about his present relationship status, the actor stated, “People will figure it out. They already have. …They’re not dumb.”

Read: Miley Cyrus Flaunts Diamond Ring Amidst Rumors She And Liam Hemsworth Are Back On

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PDP Replaces Olisa Metuh, Appoints Dayo Adeyeye As New Spokesperson

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has on Thursday replaced the embattled Chief Olisa Metuh with the appointment of Dayo Adeyeye as the new National Publicity Secretary.

Adeyeye’s appointment was confirmed when the party assigned portfolios to a seven-member National Caretaker Committee of the party.

READ ALSO: PDP Re-Opens National Secretariat After 9 Days Of Closure

The party announced the portfolios on Thursday, at the maiden meeting of the staff of the party’s national secretariat and the Peoples Democratic Institute, PDI, with the national caretaker committee, Ahmed Makarfi.

The portfolios assigned include; Ahmed Makarfi as chairman and Ben Obi as secretary.

READ ALSO: Armed Policemen Seal Off PDP National Secretariat Over Leadership Crisis [Photos]

Dayo Adeyeye as the new National Publicity Secretary, while, Aisha Aliyu is in charge of Women and Youth.

Ex-Senator Abdul Ningi will manage Organization and Mobilization; Odion Ogbesia, Finance, Treasury, and Audit and Kabir Usman, will be in charge of the legal unit.

READ ALSO: PDP BoT Steps Down As Makarfi Regains Control

A statement signed by head of publicity, Chinwe Nnorom, on Thursday recalled that the National Caretaker Committee was constituted at the Party’s National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 21, 2016 with only two functions mentioned which were: “the Chairman, H. E. Senator Ahmed Makarfi and the Secretary of the Committee, Senator Ben Obi respectively; while other members of the Committee had no portfolios assigned to them at the National Convention”.

“The National Chairman of the Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, reiterated that the Committee will not exceed the period given to them by the National Convention to reorganize, reform and conduct a free, fair, credible and all inclusive National Convention,” the statement said.

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Nigerian Army Sacks Generals, Other Senior Officers Over Military Contracts

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The Nigerian Army has confirmed that it had dismissed at least 12 senior officers, including Generals, in line with the approval of the Army Council, over alleged involvement in the Ekiti governorship election scandal and defence contract related offences.

A statement issued by the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, on Saturday, said the approval was confirmed at the meeting of the council on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Army Retires 14 Generals

Although names of the affected officers were not made available for public consumption, it was on record that more than a dozen top officers were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation over alleged defence procurement fraud.

The statement read: “The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the general public that quite a number of senior officers of the Nigerian Army were retired from service yesterday.”

“Those retired were mainly some Major Generals, Brigadier Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels and a Major.

“Their retirement was based on Service exigencies. It should be recalled that not too long ago some officers were investigated for being partisan during the 2015 General Elections.

“Similarly, the investigation by the Presidential Committee investigating Defence Contracts revealed a lot.

“Some officers have already been arraigned in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). People should therefore not read this out of context.

“The military must remain apolitical and professional at all times.

“We must applaud and support this laudable and bold initiative by the government”.

It would be recalled, the Army had last year sent 12 Army officers to the EFCC for investigation.

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Coach Garba Suspends Screening Of Nigeria U-17 Team Over Death Of Shuaibu Amodu

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Following news of the death of the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Shuaibu Amodu, the Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach, Manu Garba, has suspended the on-going screening of players for the U-17 National Team.

Nigerians are still apparently grief-stricken by the death of high-ranking football icon, Stephen Keshi on Wednesday, when news filtered in on Saturday morning that Amodu had died.

READ ALSO: Former Super Eagles Coach Shuaibu Amodu Is Dead

Garba said Amodu’s death was not only tragic but a personal loss to him because it was under the watch of the late Super Eagles coach that he captained and won the FA Cup with El-Kanemi Warriors in the 1990s.

Speaking to thenff.com, Garba said: “This is a great loss to me.”

“I spoke with Amodu just two days ago and we discussed about our screening, and I feel so sad that he has gone few days after we lost Stephen Keshi. Amodu was my coach at El-Kanemi Warriors when I captained El-Kanemi to win the FA Cup and we have remained ever so close ever since.”

“He was a man with a reservoir of knowledge and we all enjoyed his presentation during the CAF License A Coaching Course here in Abuja and I can’t just believe Amodu is dead. I’m too sad over this loss and in his honour, we have to call off our training session today (Saturday) and God’s willing, we shall continue on Monday.”

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#CopaAmerica2016: Panama Coach Calls Messi A Monster

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Panama coach, Hernan Gomez has described Messi as a monster, after the Argentina captain came off the bench to score a hat trick in the 5-0 thrashing of his side at the Copa America Centenario on Friday.

The Barcelona forward was introduced with 30 minutes to spare in the second half, with the Albiceleste up by 1-0.

Messi scored seven minutes after he was introduced, and added a second 10 minutes later after netting a stunning free kick, he completed his hat trick with three minutes to spare, as Argentina booked their spot in the quarterfinals.

“Before Messi came on, there was no difference in the game,” Gomez said. “Messi is a monster. If you make a mistake and Messi is nearby, you pay for it.

“To play with 10 men, and then later on they put him on, it’s daunting.”

The Colombian coach added: “Argentina will beat Panama anywhere. They have more of a squad, with great players and more history.

“I saw important things from Panama in the first half, but after the third goal we collapsed. It was game that we started losing because of doubts in defence.

“But also, I think the margin is a bit bigger than it should have been.”

The loss leaves Panama needing a win over defending champions Chile in their final Group D fixture to advance to the quarter-finals of the special-edition centenary tournament.

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#Euro2016 “Nothing Will Come Easy For France” – Kante

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Leicester City midfielder, N’golo Kante has noted no games will come easy for France following Romania’s resilience.

Les Bleus are major contenders for the continental showpiece, more so, because they are on home soil.

However, France had to wait on Dimitri Payet’s brilliance in the 89th minute to secure a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Romania. And the midfielder is glad they faced the difficult opponents early in the campaign.

“The first opening match, it was not an easy game against a good team from Romania. It was important to win, we did tonight and that is the thing to remember,” Kante said.

“We had no particular pressure. At the beginning of the game, they had chances, but we were able to react, we managed to score first and win. We have to continue because the other matches will not be easy.

“We know that this is a competition, it is not friendly matches, there will be nothing easy. The most important thing is the victory. We must now plan on the next game and play a better way.

“We knew it was going to be complicated, but this is a team that is confident and we demonstrated that today.

“First we will enjoy tonight and for the next matches, we’ll try show a better face even if the win is the most important.”

Kante was also keen to praise Payet, who he says has nothing to prove after a brilliant season in the Premier League with West Ham.

“Dimitri, we know him, he had a great season. Today he made an assist and scored a goal, we hope it will continue like that,” the Leicester City star said.

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Former Super Eagles Coach Shuaibu Amodu Is Dead

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Shuaibu Amodu Is Dead – In the space of just 4 days, Nigeria has lost a second former head coach, this time Amodu Shuaibu.

Shuaibu Amodu Is Dead

Shuaibu Amodu Is Dead

58-year old Shuaibu’s death was announced by the Nigerian Football Federation, who stated that he complained of pains in his chest on Friday night, and died in his sleep on Saturday morning.

“That is correct,” NFF secretary general, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, confirmed the passing away of Amodu. “He slept and he could not wake up.” Amodu on Friday was in Abuja to sign the condolence register for Stephen Keshi, who died 3 days ago.

READ: Shuaibu Amodu Glad To Return Super Eagles Job To Stephen Keshi

The late duo of Amodu and Keshi were Nigeria’s head and assistant coach at the 2002 African Nations Cup in Mali. Amodu managed the Eagles in six different spells between 1994 and 2015. His most recent post was a technical director of the NFF.

Amodu’s career highlights include winning the CAF Confederations Cup with the BCC Lions in 1990, and qualifying Nigeria for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Rest in peace, Shuaibu Amodu.

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#MoetDayLagos: MOËT PARTY DAY LAGOS (11.06.2016) – The Full Schedule

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All champagne lovers across the world, today 11.06.2016 marks the biggest day of celebration (Moët Party Dayin the life of the world’s favourite bubbly Moët & Chandon.

Read on why this day is celebrated: Moët Party Day: Live in Lagos, Nigeria and Around the World, from Day to Night! (11.06.2016)

Moët & Chandon Nigeria has released the FULL schedule for the Moët Party Day Lagos 2016. #MoetPartyDay which is to take place in Nigeria for the first time will host Lagos to to series of event in one day.

See the schedule of event below:

All-White Brunch Party

Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Time: 12 noon – 5pm

Venue: The Hard Rock Cafe, Water Corporation Road, Landmark Village, Lagos

Champagne: Moët Ice Imperial

Music: DJ Obi and the amazing Live Band Adrenaline

By invitation only


VIC dinner

For VIP guests.

Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Champagne: Moët Vintages

By invitation only


Moet Nectar Night

Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Time: 11pm to dawn.

Venue: Escape Nightclub, Lagos

Champagne: Moët Nectar Imperial Rose

Open to All


Limo Pop-Up

Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Venue: Surprise pop-ups

Time: 7pm-10pm

Details: A branded Moët & Chandon Limousine will appear at 5 major activation points (restaurants and lounges) with five hostesses. At each venue the Limo stops, the hostesses would gift a bottle of Moët to anyone who is spotted drinking a Moët & Chandon champagne.

“The ‘Moët Party Day’ is another opportunity to celebrate and enjoy our exclusive range of champagnes around the world. On that day, we want Moët & Chandon to be at the heart of every celebration and every celebration to be filled with special #moetmoments” – Emmanuelle Baroux, Brand Manager Champagnes at Moet Hennessy Nigeria.

For more information, please visit Moët & Chandon Nigeria social media pages: Facebook: Moët & Chandon Nigeria | Instagram: @moetnigeria

Follow us on Twitter @theBTcompany

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De Gea Responds To Sexual Assault Allegations: “Everything Is A Lie”

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De Gea Responds To Sexual Assault Allegations – Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea has responded to allegations of sexual assault leveled against him in Spain.

De Gea Responds To Sexual Assault Allegations

De Gea Responds To Sexual Assault Allegations

Spain had prevented him from attending a team media press conference earlier today, but the Manchester United shotstopper called another one afterwards.

READ: Spain “Not Talking” About De Gea Sexual Assualt Case

“The first thing is that I am the first surprised by this news and from there I would like to deny it. It is a lie and a falsehood. Nothing else,” De Gea said.

“I was quiet in my room, playing PlayStation, when suddenly the news arrived. First I spoke with my family but they know me very welland know that everything is false.

“I know [it is not just an alleged report in the press but a part of a police investigation]. They can give all the data about me they want. It is already in the hands of my lawyers. I am very quiet guy. I know what I’ve done with my life and cannot say much more.”

“The truth is that I have no idea where something like this can come from and how it can be in the press,” De Gea said when asked if he knew the pornography director involved, Torbe. “It is a way of trying to tarnish the image of someone. It is false. I move forward.”

“Of course. This gives me more power to be here with the national team. I’ve had a great support from my teammates and I really want to play in this European Championship. Everything is false and will be in the hands of my lawyers.

READ: 5 Insane Sexual Fetishes That Will Make You Cringe

“This gives me more power to train, to be eager to play. They can say whatever they want because it is all false. I’m a very calm guy and few things make me not calm. I’m looking forward to training and will keep doing what I like.”

“I’m very quiet. It is something that characterises me on and off the pitch. I’m eager for the tournament to start and I look forward to playing.”

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Rumourmongers keep Mum As Babangida Returns To Nigeria After Medical Trip In Germany

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A section of the country’s grapevines, responsible for the dissemination of ‘spurious’ reports that the former Military President of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was dead, are currently reticent following his arrival on Friday at Minna International airport after a three-week trip to Germany for medical treatment.

Last week, reports had been purveyed on social media that Babangida – who is recovering after a corrective surgery recently as a result of radiculopathy disease – was dead.

READ ALSO: Babangida’s Aide Dismisses Rumours Of The Ex-Military Ruler’s Death

Clad in a black caftan and black cap to match, the former military president, who arrived the Minna Airport on Friday at about 3:30pm, was received by friends and well-wishers.

Upon his arrival, Governor Sani Bello of Niger state, who welcomed him, said that the country was still in need of his wise counsel at this critical period.

He said: Despite unfounded rumour about the life of our national icon, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, we are grateful that it pleases Allah (SWT) to preserve his life and bring him back safely and healthier to continue in the good work of nation building.

General Ibrahim Babangida remains one of the few leaders in this country that we still need around to tap from their wealth of experience and knowledge and we are grateful he is back and kicking like the old soldier he is.

Your safe return has finally put a lie to the rumour and the evil machinations of those who are playing God. We are grateful to Allah (SWT) that He has silence them.

Spotted in company of his son, Aminu, and daughter Halima, the former military president did not speak to news men but his aides disclosed that he will speak on the matter later.

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Mohammad Ali At The Ring-Side In 1985 – Wole Soyinka

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Mohammad Ali At The Ring-Side In 1985 – Wole Soyinka
The arena is darkened. A feast of blood Will follow duly; the spotlights have been borrowed. For a while. These ringside prances. Merely serve to whet the appetite. Gladiators, Clad tonight in formal mufti, customized, Milk recognition, savour the night-off, show off. Rites. Ill fitted in this your voyeur company.

This piece was written by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

The desperate arm wrap of the tiring heart. Gives place to social hugs, the slow count. One to ten to a snappy “Give me five!” Toothpaste grins replace the death-mask Rubber gumshield grimaces. Promiscuous
Peck–a-cheek supplants the maestro’s peek-a-boo.The roped arena waits; an umpire tests the floor,

Tests the whiplash boundaries of the rope.
The gallants’ exhibition rounds possess
These foreplay rounds. Gloves in silk-white sheen
Rout lint and leather. Paco Rabanne rules the air.
A tight-arsed soubriette checks her placard smile
To sign the rounds for blood and gore.

Eased from the navel of Bitch-Mother Fame
A microphone, neck-ruffed silver filigree – as one
Who would usurp the victor’s garland – stabs the air
For instant prophesies. In cosy insulation, bathed
In tele-glow, distant homes have built
Their own vicarious rings – the forecast claimed
Four million viewers on the cable deal alone;
Much “bread” was loaded on the scales
At weighing hour – till scores are settled. One

Will leave the fickle womb tonight
Smeared in combat fluids, a broken foetus.
The other, toned in fire, a dogged phoenix
Oblivious of the slow countdown of inner hurts
Will thrust his leaden fists in air
Night prince of the world of dreams.

One sits still. His silence is a dying count.
At last the lens acknowledges the tested
Hulk that dominates, even in repose,
The giddy rounds of furs and diamond pins.
A brief salute – the camera is kind –
Discreetly pans, and masks the doubletalk
Of medicine men – “Has the syndrome
But not the consequence.” Promoters, handlers
It’s time to throw in the towel – Parkinson’s
Polysyllables have failed to tease a rhyme
From the once nimble Louisville Lips.

The camera flees, distressed. But not before
The fire of battle flashes in those eyes
Rekindled by the moment’s urge to centre stage.
He rules the night space even now, bestrides
The treacherous domain with thighs of bronze,
A dancing mural of delights. Oh Ali! Ale-e-e…

What music hurts the massive head tonight, Ali!
The drums, the tin cans, the guitars and mbira of Zaire?
Aa-lee! Aa-lee Bomaye!
The Rumble in the Jungle? Beauty and the Beast?
Roll call of Bum-a-Month. The rope-a-dope?
The Thrilla in Manilla? – Ah-lee! Ah-lee!
“The closest thing to death”, you said. Was that
The greatest, saddest prophecy of all? Oh, Ali!

Black tarantula whose antics hypnotise the foe!
Butterfly side slipping death from rocket probes.
Bee whose sting, unsheathed, picks the teeth
Of the raging hippopotamus, then fans
The jaws’ convergence with its flighty wings.
Needle that threads the snapping fangs
Of crocodiles, knots the tusks of elephants
On rampage. Cricket that claps and chirrups
Round the flailing horn of the rhinoceros,
Then shuffles, does a bugaloo, tap-dances on its tip.
Space that yields, then drowns the intruder
In showers of sparks – oh Ali! Ali!

Esu with faces turned to all four compass points
Astride a weather vane; they sought to trap him,
Slapped the wind each time. He brings a message –
All know the messenger, the neighbourhood is roused –
Yet no one sees his face, he waits for no reply,
Only that combination three-four calling card,
The wasp-tail legend: I’ve been here and gone.

Mortar that goads the pestle: do you call that
Pounding? The yam is not yet smooth –
Pound, dope, pound! When I have eaten the yam,
I’ll chew the fibre that once called itself
A pestle! Warrior who said, “I will not fight”.
And proved a prophet’s call to arms against a war.

Cassius Marcellus, Warrior, Muhammed Prophet,
Flesh is clay, all, all too brittle mould.
The bout is over. Frayed and split and autographed,
The gloves are hung up in the Hall of Fame –
Still loaded, even from that first blaze of gold
And glory. Awed multitudes will gaze,
New questers feast on these mementos
And from their shell-shocked remnants
Re-invoke the spell.

But the sorcerer is gone,
The lion withdrawn to a lair of time and space
Inaccessible as the sacred lining of a crown
When kings were kings, and lords of rhyme and pace.
The enchantment is over but, the spell remains.

Wole Soyinka is the first Black Nobel Laureate in Literature.

From Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems, Fountain Publications Ibadan Nigeria, 1989.

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