MSMEs: Fidelity MD Makes Case For Enhancing Export Competitiveness

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Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, has emphasised the need for government to remove all legal, infrastructural and institutional bottlenecks hindering Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in non-oil export activities from competing favourably in the global markets.

This direction, he pointed out was critical to Nigeria’s quest for economic recovery. Okonkwo disclosed this in Lagos recently while delivering a paper at the Export Management Programme (EMP 4), organised by the Bank in strategic partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Lagos Business School (LBS).


ED, Shared Services- Mrs. Ugochukwu Chijioke addressing the participants

MSMEs, he noted play a pivotal role in any economy, driving growth from the informal sector and promoting development through the creation of job opportunities.

Okonkwo who was represented by Chijioke Ugochukwu, Executive Director, Shared Services & Product (EDSS&P), Fidelity Bank Plc., said this position was being threatened by Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange (FX) crisis precipitated by the free fall in global oil prices. “FX earnings in Nigeria are largely from crude exports which account for over 90 percent of total export receipts. Hence, the performance of the Nigerian economy is very sensitive to crude oil price volatility”, said Okonkwo. In view of the prevalent economic situation, MSMEs, he said were unable to access requisite funds to sustain growth.

To stem this rising tide, the Fidelity helmsman was of the view that government must provide the enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive, further adding that this would in the long run take the economy out of the woods.

Infrastructural development, national security, focus on agric value chain, FX policy, intra-regional trade enhancement, funding were some of the critical imperatives needed to enhance the competitiveness of Nigerian exporters, according to Okonkwo. In his presentation entitled, “Bridging the Export Facilitation Gap – The Fidelity Approach”, the Fidelity boss advised the government to employ a combination of appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models and innovative infrastructure financing models to drive infrastructure development across the board. In the area of security, Okonkwo said, “We really need to explore political solutions to the insecurity problems in the country using a combination of social & economic vehicles to enhance the delivery of social goods to citizens to de-escalate the insurgency and militancy issues”.


ED, Shared Services- Mrs. Ugochukwu Chijioke addressing the participants

Proffering solution to the country’s raging currency crisis, Okonkwo called for the establishment of market driven FX policies to quickly narrow the gap between the official and parallel market. “This will reduce the effect of arbitrage to ultimately continue to make non-oil exports competitive and attractive to exporters”, he opined. As regards supporting Nigeria’s agricultural value-chain, the astute banker stated, “There is need for deliberate government action through appropriate intervention schemes to enhance farm inputs (i.e. improved seeds, fertilisers & allied products, etc.) and mechanisation to drive increased quality and yield per hectare.” Okonkwo called for the integration of Traceability Systems in agro commodity supply chain in line with GAP to provide more comfort to off-takers.


ED, Shared Services- Mrs. Ugochukwu Chijioke presenting certificate of participation to the lucky winner Offor Nneamaka MaryAnn

“There is also need for government directed Actionable Mandate to relevant agencies to drive improved Quality Control & Assurance Processes”, he concluded. Launched in August 2016, the EMP is designed specifically to provide impactful, world-class training needed to improve the competitiveness of Nigerian enterprises, particular export-oriented businesses and the associated value players in the global market. But more importantly, the programme seeks to prevent the pitfalls that were prevalent in the past when huge sums of money were lost owing to lack of capacity and knowledge on the part of exporters. Four EMP series have now been held since then whilst efforts are in top gear to host another (EMP 5) in no distant time.


ED, Shared Services- Mrs. Ugochukwu Chijioke addressing the participants


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Seyi Shay Joins MTV’s Shuga

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 Multiple award winning Nigerian singer Seyi Shay is starting 2017 with a bang!

With an endorsement deal from mobile phone brand Gionee and a new hit single ‘’Yolo Yolo”, it’s safe to say that Seyi Shay is set to take over the African music scene.

She recently teamed up with South African rappers, Nasty C and Ma-Ezee to create the official soundtrack for Season 5 of MTV’s award-winning drama, ‘’Shuga’’ titled “Down South”. The tune has a modern afrocentric hip hop vibe and with the singers golden vocal chords, it’s sure to be a favorite with anyone who hears it.

Fans should also get ready to be thrilled as Seyi Shay will also showcase her acting skills in a few episodes of the new season.

‘’Shuga’’ focuses on the awareness of some widespread social issues in Africa like rape, gender-based violence and the stigmatization of people living with HIV. The singer is excited to be a part of this amazing project and is always ready to lend her voice for a worthy cause.


1.       Google music:
2.       Deezer:
3.       Sound Cloud:

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Alonso: Liverpool Is A Very Special Club

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Former Liverpool midfielder, Xabi Alonso says he realised the Merseyside club was special from the first day he joined.

The 35-year-old veteran midfielder who confirmed he will be retiring at the end of the season joined Liverpool in 2004.

It was a change for the Spaniard, who spent five years at Real Sociedad, before spending five years with Liverpool.

“My time in England was, for me, spectacular. I was 22, it was my first experience of living on my own and of living somewhere which wasn’t my home town,” Alonso said of Liverpool, who play Burnley on Sunday live on Sky Sports.

“Until that moment I was living with my parents and I knew everything in the neighbourhood.

“It was when I became an adult and I realised in that first year at Liverpool what a special club it is, with all the history and the tradition of Liverpool. From the first day you realise how big it is.”

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Vieira: The Players Disappointed Wenger

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Patrick Vieira does not believe Arsene Wenger will give up at Arsenal and says the players have let down their manager.

Wenger is yet to decide of he’ll be leaving Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the season, but will consider what the fans want.

The Gunners crashed out of the last-16 of the UCL for the seventh consecutive season, after losing 10– on aggregate to Bayern and Vieira believes the players are to blame.

“He is going through a really difficult period but at the same time I know Arsene and he is not the kind of person who will throw the towel in and walk out of this situation,” Vieira, who is now manager of MLS side New York City, told Omnisport.

“He will fight for it because he is proud and he will give everything like he has been doing for the football club.

“It is true that people are doubting his capability to manage the team… but I think you have to look at the players and in some situations the players have been letting Arsene down a lot because coaches have responsibility but players have responsibility as well.

“You can work the whole week in how you want to play but when [the] players [are] on the field they are the ones who have to fight and if you don’t do it then it is a problem.

“So we can talk about Arsene, we can talk about other things but I think it is important for players to take responsibility and look at themselves in the mirror.”

“I think Arsene knows better than anyone what he has achieved and he knows what he wants to do and he will make a decision,” he said.

“I don’t want to get involved to say if he should stay or go, he has enough experience to make the correct decision and the best decision for the football club, he has always done this and will continue to do so.

“I know he has got a passion and love for the club and the team, he loves being on the field, he is obsessed by football. He is passionate about the game so he will know what is best for him and the football club.”

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Griezmann: There Is No Reason To Leave Atletico Madrid

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Manchester United are interested in a player who sees no reason to leave his club, as Antoine Griezmann is not interested in leaving Atletico Madrid.

Manchester United are making the France international an important transfer target, but they might have to do a lot to lure him away.

“I always get the same questions about my future and it is getting a bit tiresome,” Griezmann told La1.

“Like I always say, I am very happy here at Atletico and in Madrid.

“The weather is great, my team-mates are some of the best you can have and I am working with a great coach.

“So I am feeling very well here. I see no reason why I would want to leave.”

Griezmann has a contract with Atletico until June 2021, with the 25-year-old a key figure for the Vicente Calderon side once more this season, netting 20 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions.

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Mings Disappointed With FA Ban

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Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings has registered his disappointment at being banned for unintentionally stamping on Ibrahimovic’s head.

The defender will miss matches against West Ham, Swansea, Southampton, Liverpool and Chelsea after being banned for five matches.

Ibrahimovic, who hit Mings with an elbow during an aerial challenge for a corner is banned for three matches.

“I am extremely disappointed at the FA’s decision to ban me for five matches following what was an accidental collision with Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” Mings said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“At no time was there any intentional stamp or a movement to suggest that.

“My foot did not change course and at no point did I try and move my foot towards his head. My only focus was to get back in and defend, conduct like that is not part of my game.

“So for people to deem that I could intentionally stamp on a fellow professional’s head is upsetting.

“It is an action that would not be acceptable in any walk of life, let alone on a football pitch, and one that would never cross my mind.

“I would like to thank Bournemouth and all the club’s fans for their unwavering support this week.

“I can’t wait to get back to playing again and help the team retain our Premier League status for another season.”

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Conte: We’ll Make A Decision On Terry In The Summer

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Antonio Conte is hoping Chelsea captain John Terry stays on Stamford Bridge, but says the decision on that will be made in the summer.

The veteran defender has only made five premier league starts, but has played in every FA Cup game.

His contract is due to expire at the end of the season and even though Conte cannot give a definite answer about his future, he wants him to stay.

Asked if Monday’s quarter-final clash with Manchester United could be Terry’s last FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge, with the semi-final and final to be played at Wembley, Conte said: “For John? I hope no.

“I don’t know about this. I repeat, I prefer every situation, or my situation, or a player’s situation, to face it at the end of the season, when it will be the right time for everyone.”

Conte was then asked whether he thinks Terry still be at Chelsea next season, and he said: “I repeat, John is doing great work this season off the pitch. For me he is very important in this season because he is the captain.

“He is working very well and helping me a lot in the changing room to transfer the right message. He is an important player for us.”

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Death Of Ogbemudia: Edo Declares 7 Days Of Mourning

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has declared a seven-day period of mourning in honour of Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, a two time governor of the former Bendel State.

Obaseki, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr John Mayaki said the mourning period would begin from March 10.

The governor described the death of late Ogbemudia as saddening and prayed for his soul to rest in peace.

Obaseki described the deceased as  “a fine military officer who helped to liberate the Mid-West region during the civil war”.

He said under Ogbemudia’s   administration, Bendel became a leading state in education, sports and industry.

“As two time Governor of Bendel, which comprised present-day Edo and Delta states, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia will be fondly remembered for the strong foundation that he laid to consolidate the infrastructural, social and economic development of both states.

“Amongst his several milestone achievements was the Mid-West Institute of Technology, which is now the University of Benin.

“As we mourn our great leader and father, we take solace in the legacies he bequeathed Edo State and indeed Nigeria.”


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Niger Places 1,000 Boko Haram ‘Suspected’ Militants On Trial

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The government of Niger has commenced the trials behind closed doors of about 1,000 suspected militants from the Boko Haram jihadist movement, officials said Friday, March 10, 2017.

Speaking with AFP, Chief prosecutor Chaibou Samna said that the trials, on charges of terrorist links, had begun since on March 2.

Top Al-Shabaab Leader Surrenders To Somali Army

According to him, those facing trial are from several countries including Niger and Mali, as well as neighbouring Nigeria where Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency began in 2009 before spreading abroad.

Some of the suspects were “captured during combat” in southern Niger across the border from Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria, a security source said.

Samna said the trials will last several months and mostly arise from offences entailing “not more than 10 years in prison”.

“There have already been convictions and a large number of people freed for lack of evidence,” he added.

“The government has provided the means to transport prosecutors to investigate on the ground” in the Diffa region, close to territory in northeast Nigeria that is the bastion of the armed fundamentalist movement, Samna said.

The government announced in December that it would speed up legal proceedings against suspected Boko Haram fighters in prison for more than a year.

About 1,200 people suspected of close ties to the group have been detained awaiting trial since 2015, according to a source in the security forces.

Some were captured in combat or during identity checks carried out under the state of emergency imposed in the Diffa region on the Nigerian border, the source said.

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Customs Boss, Ali’s Epic Response To Senate – ‘I Was Not Employed To Wear Uniform’

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In what might be seen as an epic reply to the directive of the senate, the Comptroller General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, has said that he was not employed to wear uniform.

Speaking to TVC on Friday, Ali suggested that attentions should be paid on his work rate, rather than his uniform.

 “No! I was not appointed Comptroller General of Customs to wear uniform,” NAN quoted him as saying.

“Does Uniform work or the person behind the uniform,” he asked?

If we suspect that smuggled items are taken into your house, we have the right to cordone that house and go in to search.

“Am I doing my job or not? I think that should be what should worry the National Assembly” he said

The Senate had ordered him to appear before it on March 15th in his official uniform as a customs officer.

It is understood that the legislators are pushing for drastic action against him over the refusal to suspend action on the proposed clamp down on vehicles without duty payment, as ordered by the legislature.

The decision by the senate follows a motion raised by Senator Dino Melaye (APC –Kogi), which drew the attention of his colleagues to the refusal of the Customs to suspend the plan against vehicles without duty payment.

The Senate had recently directed the Customs to stop the plan to punish anyone who failed to pay duties on vehicles within a month of bringing them into the country.

The motion as stated on a publication in Daily Sun newspaper of March 9, reads: “Customs dares Senate, says no going back on implementation of duties on old vehicles”.

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Buhari Might Return To London For Medical Check-Up ‘Very Soon’ [Watch Video]

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President Muhammadu Buhari who returned to Nigeria on Friday after about 50 days of medical vacation has hinted that he will not resume power immediately.

The president said instead he will leave his deputy in charge while he travel back to London to do further follow-ups for his medical check-up.

“I am feeling much better now. There may however be need to have further follow-ups within some weeks,” he told reporters earlier today after his return.


He also met security chiefs and senior government officials before being driven away in a black official car to meet his cabinet and officials of his ruling All Progressives Congress party.

At the meeting, he did not give any indication of what illness he was suffering from but said “I have received, I think, the best of treatment I could receive.

“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man,” he added, referring to “blood transfusions, going to the laboratories and so on and so forth”

Buhari further thanked all Nigerians for their prayers for his quick recovery.

“I am deeply grateful to all Nigerians – Muslims and Christians alike, who have prayed and are continuing to pray for my good health.

“This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the Government in its effort to tackle our country’s challenges.

He said that the best way to repay Nigerians is to “re-dedicate myself to serving you, protecting your interests and keeping your trust. I thank you very much.’’

“Rather than sending delegation upon delegation to Abuja to welcome me, may I appeal to all Nigerians to continue to pray for our country’s unity, progress and prosperity.’’

“I thank you very much and may God bless our Country,’’ Buhari said.

No timeline was given for how long Yemi Osinbajo, who was officially conferred powers as acting president, would be in charge.

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Nigeria Records N7trn Revenue From Crude Oil Exports

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According to data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria recorded an estimated N6.997 trillion revenue at the end of 2016 from the export of crude oil.

The data further indicated that the West African giant recorded slight improvement in crude oil revenue in 2016, as total export appreciated by 0.75 per cent to N6.997 trillion at the end of 2016, Vanguard Newspaper reports.

The report showed that the estimated amount is 96.09 per cent of Nigeria’s proposed 2017 budget estimate of N7.281 trillion, while it represented 116.04 per cent of the 2016 budget estimate.

It is understood that the amount was from crude oil exported by oil companies operating in the country and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, from Joint Venture, JV, Production Sharing Contract, PSC, and Alternative Finance arrangements.

The NBS also revealed that in its Foreign Trade Statistics Report for 2015 and Merchandise Trade Index/Re-Export report for the fourth quarter of 2016, at N6.997 trillion, crude oil export rose by N52 billion from N6.945 trillion recorded in the 2015.

Giving a breakdown of crude oil export on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the NBS report showed that in the first quarter of 2016, crude oil valued at N1.128 trillion was exported, while N1.486 trillion worth of the commodity was exported in the second quarter of 2016.

For the third and fourth quarters of 2016, the report showed that N1.958 trillion and N2.425 trillion worth of crude oil were exported respectively.

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Barcelona and Real Madrid Compete For 17-year-old Porto Defender Diogo Dalot

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Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to battle it out to sign Porto starlet Diogo Dalot, reports AS.

Both Spanish giants are keen on the full-back, who currently plies his trade in Porto’s youth ranks.

Madrid have the teenager on their agenda and have already contacted his camp. However, Barca have already taken a further step by offering Porto €10m for the youngster. The offer has been deemed insufficient.

Dalot has a €20m buyout clause at Porto.

Dalot primarily plays as a right-back but according to AS, he is viewed as a player who has similar characteristics to Cristiano Ronaldo due to his pace and power.

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Juventus To Make ‘Audacious’ Bid For AC Milan’s Mattia De Sciglio

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Juventus are set to make an audacious move for AC Milan’s Mattia De Sciglio, Corriere dello Sport claimed, in a bid to bring in their full-back of the future.

The Italy international has just one year remaining on his contract and could represent a bargain buy, given that the Rossoneri will be forced to sell now or risk allowing the 24-year-old to leave for free in 2018.

Despite an inconsistent couple of seasons, De Sciglio has outstanding potential and the versatility to play on either flank. General director Beppe Marotta is ready to risk riling their domestic rivals for a homegrown player who would consolidate the Bianconeri‘s presence in the national team.

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Alexi Lalas Confirms LA Galaxy Has Had ‘Summer Move’ Conversations With Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Los Angeles Galaxy have had “conversations” with Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic over a summer move, according to the Major League Soccer club’s former general manager Alexi Lalas.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in fine form since arriving at Old Trafford on a free transfer from Paris St Germain at the start of the season, notching 26 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils.

The 35-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign, failed to add to his tally in the Europa League clash with Rostov on Thursday night but Lalas believes a switch to America may appeal to the Swede.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Lalas, who left the Galaxy in 2014, said: “There have been conversations and, I think, a relationship for some time regarding this possible move.

“The Galaxy are Major League Soccer’s ‘super club’. They do big, bold things. They have sexy signings, that’s what they have built themselves as, that’s what they sell themselves as, and this type of signing would fall right into play with that.”

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Juventus, Liverpool And Borussia Dortmund Vie For Athletic Bilbao’s €50m-rated Inaki Williams

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Juventus have joined the race to sign Liverpool target Inaki Williams, reports AS.

The highly-rated Spaniard, whose buyout clause at Athletic Bilbao is set at €50m, has progressed well over the past few seasons and is attracting high-profile suitors.

Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund have held long-term interest – AS reports that Liverpool tried to sign him in January 2016 before he extended his contract – but Juventus are now keen on the forward too.

Scouts from Juventus and Liverpool have watched Williams in action in each of Athletic’s last three LaLiga matches.

Inaki Williams has five goals and five assists in 38 appearances across all competitions this term, and he has the ability to play wide right and through the middle.

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Javier Mascherano Planning To Retire At ‘Former Club’ River Plate

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Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano will see out his career at former club River Plate, according to his brother.

The Argentina international started out at River Plate and spent two years in their first team before joining Brazilian outfit Corinthians.

The 32-year-old still has more than two years left to run on his deal at the Camp Nou but his brother Sebastian believes he will return to the club where he started his career.

Speaking to Radio Mitre, Sebastian Mascherano said: “I would say that he (Javier Mascherano) is going to retire at River [Plate]. It is a club that gave him a lot. Everything that he achieved he achieved because of River, because it was a big window.

“Javier is going to want to return to River to start his career as a coach.”

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Ruby Gyang Hosts Over 30 Young ladies to an International Women’s Day Brunch

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In celebration of the global event, Soul and R&B singer Ruby Gyang held a brunch with more than 50 young ladies in support of the #BOLDFORCHANGE theme.

The brunch had guest speakers Tewa Onasanya (Exquisite Magazine Editor in Chief) and Noela Ugwu (Certified Image Consultant & Personal Development Coach) speak to the ladies encouraging them using their life experiences. There was a Q&A session and cake !!!

Pictures below:



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Guardiola Is Manager Of The Month For February

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Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has been rewarded for his exploits with his side in February, but winning the manager of the month.

City won three straight matches in the second month of the year, 4-0 against West Ham, 2-1 against Swansea and 2-0 against Bournemouth.

City only played three matches due to commitments in the FA cup and Champions League.

Guardiola beat Chelsea’s Conte, Mourinho and Tony Pulis of West Brom to the award.

Chelsea, United and West Brom all won two games and drew one game in February.

City are currently third in the Premier League, 10 points behind league leaders Chelsea and behind second-placed Tottenham on goal difference, with 11 games of the season remaining.

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Hart: Manchester City Don’t Want Me

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Joe Hart does not see himself returning to Manchester City, as he believes he is surplus to requirements.

The England shotstopper moved to Serie a club Torino on a season long loan after Guardiola made it known he would not make him his first keeper.

And even though Bravo’s form has not been consistent , Hart does not think he is wanted at the Etihad.

“I’d say I’m pretty much surplus to requirements at my parent club at the moment,” Hart told the BBC’s Premier League Show.

When asked if he saw that situation changing, Hart replied: “Not really. I’ve got to be realistic. I love that club and I’ve always said that as long as they wanted me, I would be there.

“But I was always cautious when I said that because I’m aware that at the big, big clubs stuff can change quickly as can opinions and people in charge.

“Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to want to play you and that’s the business side of it, which I’ve grown into and I’m certainly not going to take personally.

“I want to play football, I love to play football so if that opportunity is not going to be given there then I’m going to have to look elsewhere and may have to make somewhere else my home.”

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Mourinho: We Couldn’t Have Played Any Better

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Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United could not have played any better than they did in the 1-1 draw against Rostov in the Europa League.

Mkhitaryan put United up before the break, but Bhukarov scored in the second half to keep the Russian side in it.

Even though United don’t have a commanding advantage, Mourinho is pleased with how his men played and knows they can’t afford any slip up on the second leg.

“It was a very good performance in relation to the conditions,” he told reporters. “It was impossible to play better, impossible to play a passing game. We played what the game demanded and we played well. We made one defensive mistake.

“We have an open result for the second leg with a little advantage for us. There are no injuries. I think we had a positive result. We know we need to win or to have a 0-0 draw so the game is open, the tie is open. But, in these circumstances, I think it was a good result.

“The game plan was that we know they don’t try to play – they tried to put the ball always to the front, into their strikers. That’s the way they play on this pitch and so the best thing to do was to play three at the back. Our three central defenders had a very positive game. The midfield fought for the second goal and tried to give something in attack.

“An away goal is always positive; it’s better 1-1 than 0-0, obviously. But the game is open, the result is open and this Rostov team has experience of playing big matches, big opponents, big stadiums. I don’t think it’s a problem for them to go to Old Trafford and play us.

“They play Sunday against Terek Grozny, we play Monday against Chelsea – they know they have more time. It’s more difficult but we are one step from the quarter-finals. Old Trafford will push us and hopefully we’ll get to the quarter-finals.”

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Boomplay rolls out the much-anticipated new version, changes the music service game with the follow feature

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Boomplay, formerly known as Boom Player has finally released its greatly anticipated version 3.0 and it is everything any music lover would love.

Boomplay updated and optimized several features in this latest version, which has made many music industry pundits declare it as a game changing innovation for African music consumption.

The new version comes with sleek user interface, which makes music discovery a lot easier and the app even more user friendly. With the rollout, Boomplay has become the first African music service to go social, allowing users do so much more than just streaming and downloading songs and videos. Boomplay version 3.0 will foster the relationship between music lovers, as users will now have the avenue to follow each other including celebrities in order to know, listen and download other users’ playlists.

Talking about the latest version, General Manager of Operations, Boomplay, Oye Akideinde said ‘ It became more and more important for us to create a more beautiful app with a global standard as our user base grew. We recently celebrated a milestone of reaching over 1 million installations in Google Play store and we wanted to give music lovers a more personal feel while ensuring all user complaints and requests are adequately attended to and implemented in the new version. We listened and made it happen and we are very glad the feedback has been awesome so far’.

The new version also features a ‘Buzz’ section where users can catch up with what’s trending in the entertainment world, keeping them up-to-date with happenings in the industry.

Boomplay Music app is available in Google Play store for all android device users.

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360Recommends: KOD – Awakening

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Hip-hop weapon KOD finally drops a brand new track AWAKENING, his first release in almost 2years.The rapper whom since his debut album in July 2015 has been on a path of self-discovery is now back and fired up to take his craft to the next level.

AWAKENING premiered on various radio stations across Nigeria and the UK within the week and once again shows the lyrical prowess of the young talented rapper!

AWAKENING by KOD is available for Streaming below.

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Coming After Abike Dabiri With A Sledgehammer

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Coming After Abike Dabiri With A Sledgehammer, By Azu Ishiekwene

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs finally came out of the woodwork. And it did so with a sledgehammer aimed at President Muhammadu Buhari’s special adviser on Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri.

This piece was written by Azu Ishiekwene. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama who, besides addressing occasional press conferences and taking pictures, has yet to do much else, lunged at Dabiri after she made a statement advising Nigerians to make only essential trips to the US.

She had expressed concern that there were increasing cases of Nigerian travellers being turned back at the border, in spite of valid travel documents, and advised that until US President Donald Trump decides which executive order on immigration he wishes to implement, it’s better to think twice before travelling.

With Trump, you never know how the cards are stacked.

The Foreign Ministry was mad. Quite anxious to do America a favour, the fellows obviously instigated a story that the US was very upset about Dabiri; the ministry asked Nigerians to ignore the busybody and carry on with their lives.

I don’t know if there is still one thing in the world, outside the US, that Trump cares about, or if our foreign minister is more concerned about keeping the US happy than being honest with his own country.

In recent times, Nigerian travellers have had a torrid time – and they didn’t need Dabiri to tell them its hostile new world out there. The green passport is the new yellow flag.

I agree that, in a few cases, the problems were self-inflicted. In the last two or three weeks, however, from Libya to South Africa and the US, there have been wave after wave of xenophobic attacks, with Nigerians targeted.

When Onyeama spoke in response to the xenophobia in South Africa, he spoke more about his confidence in the South African government than about what he was doing as foreign minister to protect Nigerians. If Pretoria truly cared, the nonsense will not be happening every now and then.

But it’ll continue because Nigeria’s foreign ministry is on holiday, and the world knows that too well. In fact, in what appears to have been a Freudian slip, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said Nigerians were complaining “too much” and asked if he should “start counting how many South Africans have died in South Africa at the hands of Nigerians.”

When Trump signed the first executive order, widely interpreted in some circles as potentially curtailing the tenure and cost of US visas for Nigerians, the ministry kept quiet. A journalist asked for weeks, without answer, about how the ministry planned to respond to the order or what Nigerian travellers should do.

And Onyeama is complaining about Dabiri?

In what is increasingly a sign of the times, a blogger, Japheth Omojuwa, had a run-in with the South African border police recently. He was detained in Johannesburg along with another Nigerian student who had been schooling there for four years, for the fun of it.

Omojuwa kicked up a Twitter storm not because he was hoping anyone in Onyeama’s office would notice, but precisely because he knew that with people like Onyeama in charge of the foreign ministry, every Nigerian might as well add foreign affairs to their laundry list of Do-It-Yourself.

It was the intervention of the same Dabiri, who Onyeama obviously thinks is eyeing his job, that shortened the misery of Omojuwa and the Nigerian student. Wherever Nigerians in distress abroad cried out for help, Dabiri has been the first to arrive at the scene with succour.

If Onyeama will just keep his big title and let the person who’s doing the job do it, not many would notice that the ministry is a sleeping bag.

But he won’t because turf war is the new obsession.

Less than two weeks ago, the New York police forced a Nigerian software engineer, Celestine Omin, to take a written exam at the JFK Airport in New York, even though he had valid documents. He would have been damned if he was not making an essential trip.

To be fair, foreigners have complained about the shambolic consular practices in a number of our missions abroad and you can’t blame another country for putting the safety of its own citizens first.

At a time of uncertainty and a rising wave of nationalism, a turf war between the minister and the presidential adviser does not make sense to citizens looking for comfort and direction.

Nearly two years after the Buhari administration took office, Nigeria still does not have ambassadors in many key countries around the world. That includes the US and China, where Buhari personally visited and signed off important bilateral agreements with!

A divided house can only make matters worse, not necessarily for the minister or the special adviser who travel on diplomat passports, but for thousands of ordinary Nigerians who will bear the brunt of the infighting.

We don’t care who killed the snake; we just want the job done.

Azu Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview and member of the Board of the Paris-based Global Editors Network.

This piece was written by Azu Ishiekwene. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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Fashola Replies Ambode: ‘I Am Not Frustrating Your Plans’

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Babatunde Raji Fashola, an erstwhile governor of Lagos State and minister of works, has replied his successor, Akinwunmi Ambode, over the latter’s accusations that his ministry was frustrating some of his plans in the state.

On Wednesday, in a statement, Ambode had faulted the Fashola-led federal ministry of failing to allow the state government rebuild the Oshodi road that leads to the Lagos Airport and also failing to ensure the proper handover of the Presidential Lodge in Lagos to the state government as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also complained that Fashola’s ministry had failed to expedite action in refunding the N51billion spent by the state on federal roads.

However, on Thursday, in a statement by his spokesperson, Hakeem Bello, Mr. Fashola said his “response is to ensure that members of the public are not misled by deliberate or inadvertent mis-statements” of the Lagos governor.

Read full statement below:

The attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has been drawn to certain statements credited to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode claiming that the “Federal Ministry of Works“ has been frustrating the efforts of his administration to carry out a “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi.”

The Governor also reportedly accused the “Federal Ministry of Works and Housing” and Security Services of denying the State Government access to the Presidential Lodge in Lagos six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved it off for the State.

This response is to ensure that members of the public are not misled by deliberate or inadvertent mis-statements.

The allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives are simply not true and the facts do not bear them out.

In 2016, the Hon Minister for Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, approved the use of the Federal Ministry of Works yard at Oworonsoki for Lagos State Government to create a lay-by to ease traffic.

The Hon Minister also approved that Lagos State be granted the Rights to manage the Street Lighting on the 3rd Mainland Bridge to support the security initiatives of the State, a request which the previous Federal Government administration had denied Lagos State for years.

During the same year, the Hon Minister also supported the approval of the World Bank Loan of $200 million to Lagos State, again a request the previous administration had denied Lagos State.

As far as International Airport Road which is currently the ground for alleged “frustration” is concerned, the correct position is that the Lagos State Government presented a request for FOUR roads that it would wish to take over.

This is consistent with the position being canvassed by the Hon Minister for states interested to apply to take over roads that are within their states.

The Ministry has presented the Memorandum conveying the request of the Lagos State Government to the Federal Executive Council as was done with a similar request by the Kaduna State Government in 2016.

Due to the fact that TWO of the roads also connect Ogun State, the Federal Executive Council could not reach an immediate decision on them because it requested the input of the other State Government affected.

The Kaduna State Government requested the Federal Government to transfer two roads within Kaduna Metropolis to the State in November 2015. Due process was followed and the request of the State Government was approved in August 2016, a period of ten months.

Federal Executive Council Memorandum are debated and commented upon by all members and in cases of roads, surveys, maps and other material have to be provided to assist members understand the location and connectivity of the roads, (in this case Four roads), in order to assist how they vote on the Memorandum.

As far as the Presidential Lodge is concerned, it is under the management of the Presidency and not the Ministry.

After the approval by Mr President that the Presidential Lodge be handed over to the State Government, there was a directive to the Ministry to work out the modalities for handing over.

The Ministry has prepared a vesting instrument to convey the transfer and all that is needed is a survey plan.

The Presidential Lodge is a high security location and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works.

Access to the lodge is not under the control of the Ministry.

The motive behind this public accusations must, therefore, be scrutinised coming barely a week after the governor spoke with the Honourable Minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN on the outstanding requests of the state for several minutes and the minister took time to explain the situation of things to the governor. (The first telephone conversation the Governor has had with the Minister since May 29, 2015).

If there is any lack of co-operation, it is on the part of the State Government that has refused to acknowledge not to talk of approving the Ministry’s request for Land of the National Housing Programme in Lagos.

The Ministry is not frustrated by this lack of response and remains optimistic that a response will come from Lagos State.

The Ministry remains committed to serving the Government and Good People of Lagos and will treat all their requests on Merit and in accordance with necessary due process as will be done to other States.

As far as the refund of N51 Billion is concerned, this is not a new item. Almost all if not all states have these claims and the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing has verified these claims.

What is left is the process of raising the finance to pay the debt owed to the states.

Those who are familiar with the workings of Government will attest to the fact that it is an intricate sequence of processes, consultation and collaboration.

Equating processes to a lack of co-operation is, therefore, akin to creating a storm in a tea cup.”

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