Koeman Targets United’s Sixth Position

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Ronald Koeman is asking his men to claim a victory in their next match, as he looks to close the gap between Everton and United.

Everton won 3-0 against West Brom, to go within two points of United. The Old Trafford club have two games in hand.

Everton play Hull City next, before playing Liverpool and United back-to-back.

Koeman urged his players to follow up their fifth consecutive home victory when Hull visit, with European qualification up for grabs.

“We know we are strong at home and we have a lot of clean sheets at home,” Koeman said.

“We spoke about the two home games [West Brom and Hull] and if we can get six points out of that, then we need to play Liverpool and Manchester United next.

“First we must create less distance between us in the table and that’s done by six points at home.”

“It was a well-deserved win and we were very professional,” Koeman added. “We had the control and domination in the game and we had good football in moments.

“The 10 to 15 minutes before half-time, the two goals, and the third killed the game. I am really pleased because it’s difficult against West Brom.

“They are strong with direct football and you need to defend really well from set-plays. I think that was outstanding.

“We had a lot of ball possession and it was difficult to create in the beginning. When we found players between the lines like [Kevin] Mirallas, Ross [Barkley] and Tom Davies then we created space and chances to score.

“It was really good that 15 minutes before half-time.”

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Guardiola: City Finishing Must Improve

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Pep Guardiola has charged Manchester City to improve on their finishing after making to the semifinal of the FA Cup.

Silva and Guardiola scored both goals in the quarterfinal fixture against Middlesborough away from the Etihad.

However, Guardiola feels they should have scored more and wants to improve on that department.

“We played a good performance and were there from the first minute. We have missed a lot of chances throughout the season and the game should have been over 30 minutes before,” Guardiola told the BBC .

“We need to improve that, but I am happy and we can play Monaco. We were outstanding from the beginning. I like to work with these guys, I am so happy.

“When you attack good, you defend good. We want to play in this way.”

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Rangers Confirm Pedro Caixinha As New Manager

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Rangers have confirmed Pedro Caixinha is their new manager.

After completing the switch from Qatari side Al Gharafa, Pedro Caixinha told Rangers’ official website: ‘It is a great honour to join Rangers Football Club. 

‘This club has a great history and tradition and I am proud to follow in the footsteps of legendary Rangers managers like Walter Smith, Graeme Souness and Jock Wallace.

‘Rangers is a name that is known worldwide and I am looking forward to forging a positive relationship with supporters and meeting the playing squad and staff at the club.

‘I know there is a lot of hard work ahead and I assure all our fans that I will do all I can to provide a winning and entertaining Rangers team.’

Rangers agreed a deal with Al Gharafa on Thursday for the release of PEDRO Caixinha, who moved to Qatar in 2015 after a successful spell with Santos Laguna, a Mexican club with close links to Celtic. 

Rangers Managing director Stewart Robertson commented on the appointment, saying:

We are delighted to welcome Pedro to Rangers. We compiled a shortlist of high-quality candidates for the position but we knew after our initial meeting with Pedro that he was the right man to take this club forward.

He is a man of great experience and authority and the Board has no doubt he will help us achieve our long-term goals. I would like to thank the Rangers supporters for their patience throughout the process but we were determined to appoint the best candidate possible.

Rangers had been without a permanent manager since Mark Warburton left the club in February in odd circumstances, the club released a statement announcing they had accepted his resignation, but the tactician denied resigning, leading to an uncomfortable standoff.

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All The Latest Transfer News And Rumors From Around The World

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Spain

Liverpool and Juventus target Inaki Williams has ruled out a move away from Athletic Bilbao, insisting: “I am where I want to be and that makes me very happy. I have always fought to stay with Athletic and I have no intention of leaving.” (Mundo Deportivo)

Italy

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti already has a verbal agreement with champions Juventus to replace Massimiliano Allegri if the Bianconeri tactician leaves at the end of the season amid interest from Paris Saint-German, Arsenal and Barcelona. (Corriere della Sera)

Despite losing 2-1 to Juventus last night thanks to a 97th-minute Paulo Dybala penalty, AC Milan’s 18-year-old goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared to affirm his commitment to the Rossoneri by kissing the club’s badge at the final whistle. (Gazzetta dello Sport)

Real Madrid will look to sign Sevilla’s sporting director, Monchi, this summer. The Spanish reserve goalkeeper turned transfer guru was believed to be close to joining Roma but a move to Los Blancos might be more appealing. (Corriere dello Sport)

Beppe Marotta, the general director of Juventus, has refused to rule out a summer swoop for Bayern Munich’s Brazilian winger, Douglas Costa. (Corriere dello Sport)

France

PSG will attempt to sign Isco from Real Madrid this summer. The 24-year-old midfielder has reportedly grown frustrated at the lack of playing time he has been given by Zinedine Zidane this season. (Le10Sport)

Germany

Bayern Munich’s teenage midfielder Renato Sanches is set to become the most expensive player in Bundesliga history. The Bavarians beat Manchester United to the 19-year-old’s signature in the summer, paying Benfica an initial €35m for the player.

However, once Sanches, who has struggled to make an impact at the Allianz Arena, makes his 25th appearance for the club, the Portuguese champions will receive a further €5m, equalling the record €40m Bayern paid to sign Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao in 2012. (Sportbild)

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Craig Shakespeare To Be Confirmed As Leicester City’s Manager Very Soon

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Craig Shakespeare is expected to be confirmed as Leicester City’s manager until the end of the season early next week.

360nobs Understands a deal is likely to be agreed and signed before the Foxes face Seville in the Champions League next Tuesday.

Talks between the Premier League club and Shakespeare’s representatives are progressing well and that there is broad agreement between the two sides.

There are still a number of minor details and legal matters to be completed before Shakespeare is confirmed.

Progress has been slower than expected because of the time difference in relaying discussions back to Leicester’s owners in Thailand, while Shakespeare only arrived back from warm-weather training with the squad in Dubai on Wednesday evening.

Shakespeare was named interim boss of Leicester last month, following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, and has presided over two Premier League victories against Liverpool and Hull City since the Italian’s dismissal. 

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Enrique: Barcelona Yet To Win Anything

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Luis Enrique is done with the hype surrounding Barcelona’s historic comeback against PSG, as he reminds his players they’re yet to win a trophy.

Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first leg at the Camp Nou, to win 6-1 and progress 6-5 on aggregate.

However, Enrique will want them to turn their focus from the champions league and instead focus on the match against Deportivo.

Asked if the enormity of Barca’s achievement had dawned on him, Luis Enrique said: “All we’re aware of is that everything still has to be decided.

“There will be eight teams left in the Champions League, the league is us against probably two other teams, and we’re in a cup [Copa del Rey] final.

“That could mean no titles, or it could mean three. We can’t evaluate our success until the end of the season. All we can do is focus on what we do against Deportivo.”

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PHOTOS: Ojukokoro Premiere At Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, Lekki

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The Genesis Deluxe Cinema, Lekki was the venue for the premiere of the new comedy-crime drama, Ojukokoro on Thursday, March 9th.

The premiere was attended by the likes of Tope Tedela, Zainab Balogun, Shawn Faqua, Beverly Naya, Etim Effiong, Lamide Akintobi, Denola Grey, Bolanle Olukanni, Moses Babatope and more.

Ojukokoro was written and directed by Dare Olaitan and produced by Olufemi. D. Ogunsanwo, with cast members like Wale Ojo, Charles Etubiebi, Ali Nuhu, Tope Tedela, Somkele Idalama, Linda Ejiofor, Zainab Balogun, Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka), Seun Ajayi, Emmanuel Ikubese, Kayode Olaiya, Gbolahan Olatunde (Bollylomo), Kunle Remi, Sammi Eddi, Lord Frank and Shawn Faqua.

Ojukokoro hits cinemas from Friday, March 17, 2017.

See some photos from the Premiere below

Ojukokoro

Charles Etubiebi
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Seun Ajayi
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Gbolahan Olatunde
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Tope Tedela
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Denola Grey

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Shawn Faqua
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Bolanle Olukanni
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Dare Olaitan
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Udoka Oyeka
Ojukokoro

Zainab Balogun
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Adebayo Oke-Lawal

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Baaj Adebule
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Beverly Naya

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Sane Sees FA Cup As Easiest Silverware To Win

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Manchester City midfielder Leroy Sane sees the FA Cup as a competition the Etihad club can go all the way .

Manchester City faced Middlesbrough in the quarterfinal and qualified for the semifinal of the competition.

Manchester City last won the competition in 2011 and Sane believes City are capable of ending their wait for the trophy.

He told the club’s official website: “I think all of our players want to win trophies and the FA Cup will be the quickest route.

“Of all the three trophies we can win, perhaps the FA Cup is the easiest and that is why I think we have a good chance.”

He added: “I am happy to have made the move to Manchester City.

“It’s been great fun working with Pep Guardiola because you can learn a huge amount from him and I have already learned a lot.

“Also he’s very ambitious and wants to win all the time and wants to improve every player.”

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Adele Stops Her Concert After A Fan Suffers From A Cardiac Arrest In Sydney

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Multiple Grammy Award winner Adele was forced to stop a concert in Sydney after a fan had a heart attack during live performance and emergency services were called.

Adele Finally Confirms She’s Married To Simon Konecki

A 47 year old woman was taken to hospital in a serious condition during her performance on Friday, March 10, 2017.

A 47-year-old woman had collapsed from a cardiac arrest during Adele's concert in the ANZ stadium.
A 47-year-old woman had collapsed from a cardiac arrest during Adele’s concert in the ANZ stadium.

The over 95,000 fans who had made their way to the ANZ stadium last night to see the British singer perform had to clear a path to allow paramedics to get to the ill woman.

The woman was taken to Westmead Hospital shortly after in a serious condition, it was gathered.

Adele, while stopping her performance midway, told her teeming fans that she didn’t want to shock the sick woman with fireworks that were planned.

She also joked that she had ruined the surprise for the rest of the audience by telling them about the pyrotechnics.

“Sorry. Someone got hurt. I ruined the surprise for you didn’t I?” Adele told the crowd.

“Sorry, there was so much going on it frightened me. Pretend I didn’t say anything. Let’s start again.”

She continued the show after a brief pause.

Initially it was thought the woman had suffered some kind of spinal injury, because paramedics had brought a stretcher into the arena with them.

This is even as an eyewitness also added that nobody had paid the situation any attention until Adele stopped the show shortly before launching into Rolling In The Deep.

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NCC, CBN Prevent Etisalat’s Takeover ‘Over N541.8bn Debt’

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have gotten a reprieve for Etisalat Nigeria on the loan default crisis facing the mobile telecoms operator.

N541.8bn Debt: Despite NCC Intervention, 3 Nigerian Banks May Take Over Etisalat

The reprieve, which was gotten on Friday, is coming on the back of negotiations with three Nigerian banks that threatened to take over the firm over a $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) debt.

After much deliberation in Lagos yesterday, the creditor consortium of banks were prevailed upon to reconsider their demands and halt their attempt to take over Etisalat.

In a statement issued today, the Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, said:

 “Friday’s meeting succeeded in halting the attempt by Etisalat’s creditors at bringing it under any form of takeover.

“Receivership was completely taken off the table in a meeting that was very productive and constructive.

“The meeting, which held at the CBN office in Lagos, had the consortium of banks being owed and Etisalat in attendance.

“The banks and the mobile network operator agreed to concrete actions that will bring all parties closest to a resolution.”

Mr Ojobo further added that CBN and NCC were able to secure for Etisalat the necessary “oxygen” to enable it continue to meet urgent operational expenses.

The NCC spokesperson said the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who presided over the meeting, was firm in his declaration about what needed to be done by both parties towards a quick resolution of the crisis.

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How El-Zakzaky’s Follower Fainted On Hearing News Of Buhari’s Return

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An elderly man who is a member of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) was reported to have fainted on Friday morning on learning that President Muhammadu Buhari had returned to the country from London.

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

TheCable learnt that the 58-year-old man, who is a potato seller, is well known by locals within the popular Mararraban Jos, a few kilometers to Kawo, Kaduna state as “Malam Ibrahim”.

It is understood that Ibrahim fainted instantly after he heard the news of Buhari’s return from his medical leave.

A source who witnessed the incident revealed that the potato seller was being assisted by members of the public to the hospital.

Members of IMN, also known as Shiites, have been at loggerheads with the Buhari administration since the December 2015 when troops of Nigerian Army allegedly killed them in hundreds.

This is even as their leader, Ibraheem El Zakzaky, has been in detention since then and is reportedly going blind.

While some of its members are believed to have held special prayers against the return of the president to the country, many others, it was learnt, had vowed that if Buhari came back alive, they would renounce their membership of the group.

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West Brom Interested In Signing Chelsea’s Captain John Terry

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Tony Pulis has revealed West Brom could make a move for Chelsea captain John Terry, if the defender becomes available in the summer.

West Brom enquired about Terry’s availability in January, according to Pulis, and the club remain interested in monitoring the former England international’s situation at Stamford Bridge.

“I’ve always thought he was a good player,” Pulis said on Friday. “It (January’s enquiry) was just finding out what the situation was and then it was whether we moved on it or we didn’t.

“There was more than one player we enquired about in January. You’ve mentioned John, but there was most probably three or four others of that ilk that we were enquiring about – and I think enquiry is the word.

“If he becomes available in the summer we’ll sit down then and have a little think about what we’ve got and what we haven’t got and then we’ll take it from there.”

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Lazar Markovic Feels He Has To Prove A Point After Liverpool Loans

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Hull City winger Lazar Markovic  feels he has a point to prove in the Premier League during his latest loan away from Liverpool.

The 23-year-old joined Liverpool in 2014 but struggled to hold down a first team place during his debut season at Anfield and spent the 2015/16 campaign on loan at Fenerbache and the first part of this season at Sporting Lisbon.

Markovic was loaned to Hull in January and is currently aiding the Tigers’ relegation battle. Asked if he has unfinished business in the Premier League, he told Sky Sports: “That’s correct. That’s why I’m back here, to help the team and give them what they deserve though my performances.

“It’s so good to be in the Premier League again. It’s the strongest league in the world and I’m very happy to be back.

“To be honest I came here to help Hull stay in the Premier League. I spoke to the coach and he told me what he thought about Hull’s situation. That’s what persuaded me to come here to help and try to do my best.”

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Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp Not Planning On Signing New Goalkeeper

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has played down reports he will look to bring in a new goalkeeper to replace current options Simon Mignoletand Loris Karius.

Both ‘keepers have come under criticism throughout the season, with the Reds conceding more Premier League goals (34) than any other side in the top seven.

But when asked about Liverpool’s current goalkeeping situation, Klopp told reporters: “I am happy most of the days.

“One day when a goalkeeper is involved in a goal, which happens quite a few times – it is the life of a goalkeeper that you are the last man standing – then you are not too happy. But I am happy with our goalkeepers, yes.

“It is how it always is in football – it is all about players. We don’t make final decisions until I don’t know when. We have these two really good goalkeepers.”

 

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West Ham To Consdier Bacary Sagna Bid

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West Ham will consider a move for Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna at the end of the season, according to the Evening Standard.

The 34-year-old’s contract at the Etihad expires at the end of the season, and the Hammers could look to bring in the right-back as a solution to their current problems in that position.

Midfielder Cheikou Kouyate was the latest player to fill that role for Slaven Bilic’s side in the loss at home to Chelsea, while Michail Antonio, Sam Byram and Alvaro Arbeloa have also featured there during the current campaign.

Sagna has yet to be offered a new deal by Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola admitted last month that the ageing squad at the Etihad needed changing.

“At the end, the heart and soul of the team are the old players — the people who know the club. Of course the process is going to change but it cannot be possible to change that overnight.”

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William Gallas Speaks About His Own-Goal Threat At Chelsea Before He Mad His Move To Arsenal

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It has been some 11 years since William Gallas left Chelsea for Arsenal, and the defender departed Stamford Bridge on a somewhat sour note after reports claimed the Frenchman was threatening to score own goals if he was not allowed to leave the Blues.

Speaking on Soccer AM this morning, Gallas said: “That was not true. What I said to the club was that I like to play with my heart.

“When I play for the club, I give 100%. We were negotiating my contract, and they didn’t want to give me what I wanted – so I said to them I want to leave.

“It was a difficult decision because they gave me everything. Jose Mourinho put me at the highest level and I was one of the best defenders. It was very hard.”

Gallas went onto add that his relationship with the club remains positive despite the manner of his exit.

“The last time I was at Stamford Bridge was when I was working for French TV. I saw the chairman [Roman Abramovich], John Terry, I was in the dressing room with them and we took some pictures and I spoke with the players – we don’t have a problem.”

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Governor Akeredolu Dissolves Boards, Parastatals In Ondo State

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Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has dissolved all boards and parastatals in the state.

The announcement of the immediate dissolution of the boards and parastatals was made by the Head of Service, Toyin Akinkuotu in Akure, the state capital on Saturday, March 11, 2017.

According to NAN, Mr. Akinkuotu, through a statement, urged all chairmen, political appointees and non-career employees in all boards and parastatals in the state to hand over all government properties in their custody to the accounting officers in their respective offices.

He, however, said that statutory commissions whose tenure were specified in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution were exempted from the dissolution.

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Andrew Yakubu: EFCC Slams 6-Count Charge Against Ex-NNPC GMD [See Details]

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday slammed a six-count charge relating to non-asset disclosure and money laundering against a former Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu, before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

PHOTOS: How EFCC Uncovered $9.8million From Residence Of Ex-NNPC GMD Andrew Yakubu

The charge, which was contained in court papers filed on March 9, is not unconnected to the discovery made by the commission of $9,722,800 and 74,000 pounds stashed in a fire-proof safe in a house owned by him in Kaduna – monies he claimed were gifts he received from friends and well-wishers over a number of years.

In the charge sheet, which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Yakubu was accused of failing to make full disclosure in his Assests Declaration form of the sums of 9,772 800 dollars and 74,000 pounds contrary to Srction 27 (3)(a) of the EFCC act 2004.

In the suit (FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2107), he was also accused of receiving a cash payment of the said sums without going through a financial institution thereby committing an offence under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.

The former NNPC boss was further charged with receiving the same amount when he fully knew that the said fund formed part of proceed of unlawful activity.

In the last count, the former NNPC GMD was accused of intent to avoid legal transaction by transporting 74,000 pounds, which he knew or should have known constituted part of the proceed of an illegal activity in contravention of the Advance Fee Fraud Act and punishable under same.

See documents containing the 6-count charge below:

Andrew Yakubu: EFCC Slams 6-Count Charge Against Ex-NNPC GMDAndrew Yakubu: EFCC Slams 6-Count Charge Against Ex-NNPC GMDAndrew Yakubu: EFCC Slams 6-Count Charge Against Ex-NNPC GMDPhoto credit: Sahara Reporters

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Xhaka Wants Arsenal To Be Prepared For Cup Shock

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Granit Xhaka does not want Arsenal to take the match against Lincoln City with levity, so as to avoid a shock FA Cup exit.

Arsenal will be hoping to get back to winning ways after disappointing losses to Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

Non-league Lincoln sent Burnley out of the competition and Xhaka believes making it to the semifinals is not easy.

“There are many upsets in cup competitions, which we have seen in the FA Cup,” the former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder told the matchday programme.

“You have to give your all against all sides, regardless of if they are in the second division, or the fourth, or the fifth. In football, things can happen quickly. Against the smaller teams, if they get a goal, it can be difficult to get one back. The cup is always good for a surprise, but we have dealt with that well so far.

“I remember when I was in my first year at Gladbach. We played against Darmstadt, who were in the fourth division at the time. We lost the game in a penalty shoot-out. We had to learn a lot from it. We went there, thought we would have some fun against a fourth-division team.

“We took the lead but then they equalised and nothing was possible anymore. But they fought for each other, they ran so hard for each other and we were all surprised. Penalty shoot-outs then come down to luck too – we lost and were standing there with big heads thinking ‘what did we do wrong?’”

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INEC Releases Timetable for 2019 Elections | Presidential Poll To Take Place On Feb 16

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the timetable for the 2019 elections.

The announcement of the timetable for the 2019 general election is coming exactly two years before the conduct of the elections.

In the timetable, the INEC indicated that it would hold the next presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16, 2019.

The commission also said that governorship and that of the state assembly polls will take place on March 2nd, 2019.

Speaking with newsmen on Thursday on the outcome of the commission’s management meeting, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, said INEC released the timetable early in order to nurture the nation’s democracy and the electoral process.

He further added that the commission was desirous of standardising the nation’s electoral process and ensuring certainty in the dates for elections so as to allow proper planning by INEC and other election stakeholders.

“Our democracy is maturing and the Commission believes that there should certainty with regards to timetable for elections. For instance, in the United States, general elections always hold on the second Tuesday of November in the election year. In Ghana, it’s the 7th of December of the election year while in other places like Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Coasta Rica and Swithzerland, the dates are also known in advance”, Soyebi said.

Soyebi added that INEC decided to fix the dates for the national elections in Nigeria for the third Saturday in February of the election year while the state elections would be held two Saturdays later.

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2019 Elections: Programmed To Fail?

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2019 Elections: Programmed To Fail?, By Samson Itodo

CLICK here to read more opinion articles

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the dates for the 2019 elections. The presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, 2019 while the governorship and states Houses of Assembly will hold on March 2, 2019. This, according to a statement on their website, is to allow for proper planning by the Commission and all stakeholders involved in the electioneering process. However, it seems the proactive disposition of INEC may just be mere aspiration, as 23 months to the 2019 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to appoint Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

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

It is no longer news that five more Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have bowed out of office following the expiration of their terms. This brings the number of states without RECs to 33. In July 2016, there were 22 states without RECs. In the space of seven months, 11 RECs completed their terms, bringing the total number of states without RECs to 33. With this development, only Taraba, Delta, Rivers and Kaduna have substantive RECs, with 3 of these RECs also expected to bow out of service by July 2017, leaving only one state, that is Kaduna with a REC. This is unprecedented and worrisome, considering the fact that we are less than 484 working days to the 2019 elections. Incidentally, all the states with off cycle governorship elections do not have RECs; Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. Whilst Ekiti and Osun governorship elections are slated to hold next year, the Anambra governorship election will hold on 18 November 2017; less than 176 days away.

Commendably, the Mahmoud-led INEC is visibly taking positive actions to ensure improved elections in 2019. The appointment of additional six national commissioners has no doubt boosted the capacity of the electoral Commission. Despite being overburdened with organising over 165 elections in the aftermath of the 2015 polls, the Commission is demonstrating will and commitment in ensuring credible and peaceful elections in 2019. So far, only one election out of the 165 election has been nullified by the Court. Significant reforms have been introduced as well. Internally, qualified staff of the Commission are being promoted and staff welfare prioritised. The will to prosecute indicted INEC staff involved in electoral malpractices is impressive. The 23 electoral officers indicted in the investigation into the Rivers rerun election of December 10, 2016 have been suspended and placed on half salaries pending the determination of their cases in court. In its quest to improve the electoral process and in addition to the standing committees, the Commission constituted some committees to review electoral constituencies; polling units and registration areas; suppressed constituencies; the Global Information Systems laboratory and diaspora or out-of-country voting (OVC). In addition to these laudable strides, the Commission is on the verge of completing the review of the implementation of its 2012 to 2016 strategic plan and her 2017 to 2021 strategic roadmap, entrusted to a committee set up since September 2016.

The planning for the 2019 elections commenced immediately after the 2015 elections. Unlike the 2011 and 2015 elections, where INEC had the full complement of its leadership, the 2019 election planning process is without RECs. Until December 7, 2016, INEC had only 50 percent of its leadership. It took about 18 months (1 years, 6 months) since the expiration of the Professor Jega led commission before the new leadership got the full complement of its National Commissioners. This has grave implications for electoral planning and implementation in diverse ways.

Why the RECs Are Important

According to the 1999 Constitution, the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) must be persons of unquestionable integrity; not less than 40 years and shall be appointed by the president. The RECs exercised delegated powers in furtherance of the Commission’s statutory functions. The RECs are too critical to the success of elections. In practical terms, the RECs head the Commission at the state level and they provide oversight on the implementation of the policies and programmes of the Commission. The functions of the RECs at the state level are too significant that any delay in their appointment weakens the Commission and diminishes its effectiveness at the state level. Once a REC is appointed, he/she must understand the state of assignment, and this involves a deeper understanding of the electoral geography of each local government in the state; the demography and the building of a relationship with the staff of the Commission. These tasks take time and effort.

Experience shows that the Commission hosts periodic meetings to plan, design and implement policies and programmes. The RECs are an integral part of such meetings as they make essential contributions to these design, planning and implementation. As a nation, we are losing the opportunity to benefit from the intellect, skills and energy of competent and capable individuals who should be making positive contributions in the Commission. The current reality implies that the newly appointed RECs will only implement a strategic plan and an election plan that they weren’t part of its design process. Currently, the administrative secretaries head the Commission in states without RECs. Interestingly, most of the current administrative secretaries holding forth in the states will be due for retirement before the 2019 elections.

Why Elections Fail

Elections are complex, sensitive, highly technical and multi-faceted. The intricacies and mechanics of election management requires high levels of planning, competencies and capacities. It is conventional wisdom that effective planning is central to the success of any election. This entails ensuring all procedural, administrative and operational issues are addressed in line with legally defined timelines. Despite its cumbersome nature, elections are defined by timelines. Failure to meet deadlines could adversely affect the entire electoral process. Consequently, all decisions relating to elections must be treated with a high sense of responsibility and sense of urgency.

Based on international standards on elections, the ability to plan, effective organisational and management structure, and the access to and adequacy of resources are requisites for successful elections. INEC has not been availed of the human capacity it requires for the successful conduct of the 2019 elections due to the non-appointment of its management structure at the state level. The failure to fully constitute INEC by appointing RECs is setting the ground stage for the 2019 elections to fail. There have been sustained calls by stakeholders on the presidency to appoint RECs in states with vacancies, for instance the Senate and other APC brethren of the president have all implored him to make these appointments but all to no avail. One begins to wonder if this reluctance to appoint RECs is a grand strategy by the Buhari administration to weaken INEC’s ability to deliver credible elections in 2019.

Our poor attitude towards planning diminishes our efficiency and productivity. We plan to fail when we fail to plan. This is a basic rule of project management. Our elections fail to meet standards or inspire confidence because of the poor performance attributed to the lack of effective planning. We are less than 484 working days to the 2019 elections and only four states have Resident Electoral Commissioners. Although the Commission is planning for 2019, however the planning and design process would have received a boost with a fully constituted Commission. I also argue that adequate planning requires assembling the requisite human asset to deliver on a task. There is an unquantifiable value in achieving unity of purpose and adopting a fully participatory approach in planning for a highly technical enterprise like elections. Our last-minute approach to election management usually results in poor electoral output. When election officials are not appointed in due time, when procurement processes are delayed, when ad-hoc officials are not recruited and trained early, we are planning to fail. Impressively, there’s a growing culture of designing strategic plans in INEC. However, its implementation will be determined by a range of internal and external factors. The reluctance exhibited by the president in appointing RECs is undermining the Commission and depriving her of the human resource it requires for the successful planning and execution of the 2019 elections.

Wasted Opportunities

In the life of this administration, the president has made two significant appointments to the Commission. The first round of appointments were made in October 2015 with the appointment of the INEC Chairman and five national commissioners. The second round took place in September 2016 with the appointment of six additional commissioners who were later sworn in, in December 2016. As at July 2016, 22 states had no Resident Electoral Commissioners. How come the Resident Electoral Commissioners were not appointed? The president would have utilised the opportunities to appoint RECs but he failed to do so. Considering the rigorous process of appointments to INEC, which requires Senate confirmation, it is my strong view that it was a wasted opportunity. Let’s assume the reason for the staggered appointments to INEC is to guarantee institutional memory within the Commission and create opportunity for continuity and knowledge transfer. This argument may not be tenable in relation to the RECs. In a situation where vacancies exist in 33 states, out of 37 such positions, it simply means that all the RECs will have their terms of office terminated at the same time. By this act, the president would have set a bad precedent in the annals of our electoral history. Less than two years to every general election, we will have a new set of RECs, if the terms of the former RECs are not renewed.

It is usual practice for INEC to deploy RECs to states with off cycle elections as a strategy of enhancing the capacity of its staff. This peer learning contributes in no small measure in building the technical capacity of RECs in the states. The 165 elections conducted so far by INEC since 2015 presented opportunities for learning, especially for the RECs who are saddled with the responsibility of superintending over elections at the state level. The opportunity has been wasted due to this non-appointment. The forthcoming Anambra, Ekiti and Osun governorship presents other opportunities.

Is the Delay Legal?

Under Section 14 (2) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the president is vested with the power to appoint RECs. However, there is no constitutionally defined timeline for appointments to the Commission. Presumably, the president’s inaction is informed by this strict interpretation of the constitution. Whilst there may be no express constitutional provision in relation to timeline for appointment, the Constitution is clear on the need for appointment of RECs for each state of the Federation. What remains clear is that the president has failed to perform this function. The president swore the oath of office to defend the constitution in the discharge of his duties. His reluctance to appoint the RECs is contrary to the spirit and letters of the Constitution.

The framers of the constitution contemplated that a president should be permitted to exercise discretionary powers in determining the timeline for such appointments. In their wisdom, they expect the president will be guided by the doctrine of reasonability in the exercise of his powers. Sadly, this is not the case. The non-appointment of RECs in 33 states with 484 days to the 2019 elections constitutes abuse of discretionary powers.

In Conclusion, we can’t afford to retrogress in elections management in Nigeria. Consolidating on the gains of the 2015 elections and charting a new course requires vigilance from every citizen. This is the price we must pay for liberty and freedom. The president should ensure appointments are made into existing vacancies at INEC without any further delay. Only individuals with high moral integrity and capacity should be appointed as RECs. The National Assembly should rise to the occasion and compel the president to urgently fill the existing vacancies at the Commission. The Senate should ensure all nominees are thoroughly screened and not adopt the take a bow model. The confirmation of RECs should adopt the precedent laid with the screening of the incumbent INEC Chair and commissioners. Such scrutiny will repose confidence in the hearts of citizens. INEC’s ability to deliver credible and peaceful 2019 elections will be determined by the level of support and cooperation it enjoys from different stakeholders, especially the executive.

Samson Itodo is an elections enthusiast and he is the Executive Director of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA). He tweets at @DSamsonItodo

This piece was written by Samson Itodo. 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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PHOTOS: King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank To Say “Thank You”

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Following the success of December’s ‘Sunny On Sunday’ Concert, Juju maestro, King Sunny Ade, embarked on a thank you tour to some eminent Nigerians for their various roles culminating in the success of his 70th Birthday Grandstand Concert.

MUST READ: #SunnyOnSunday: 50 Amazing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About King Sunny Ade

Although it has been several weeks since the event held at Balmoral Marquee, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, the ‘Sunny On Sunday’ Concert left a huge mark as one of the most talked about events to be witnessed in the country. During the historic event, King Sunday’s Vintage Fender guitar, designed by the artist Victor Ehikhamenor, sold for a record N52.1 million.

During his two-day, thank you tour, the Juju maestro crisscrossed Lagos and Abuja in the company of the Temple Management team, led by CEO/ Founder, Idris Olorunnimbe.

At each of his stops, the juju maestro donated KSA branded materials to his VIP guests which included the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Mines and Steel, Kayode Fayemi, the current and previous MD/CEOs of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as well as the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler.

Other host on the whistle-stop tour included His Royal Majesty Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi and Victor Ehikhamenor who painted his famous guitar.

The final visit was made to Babatunde Folawiyo, Chairman, Temple Management Company, who revealed that the ‘Sunny on Sunday’ was the product of an 11-year old covenant between he and KSA.

“I have always been a Sunny Ade fan,” Mr. Folawiyo said. “We have the bad habit, as a nation, of celebrating only the dead. It was one of the proudest moments of my life for Temple Management to have the honour to serenade a living icon such as KSA.”

The Founder/CEO, Mr. Olorunnimbe, added that despite time constraints, the Temple Management Company were able to deliver a technically flawless production.

Another major highpoint of King Sunny visit was at the Ministry of Information and Culture where His Excellency, Lai Mohammed, announced that King Sunny Ade would be made one of the ambassadors of the ‘Change begins With Me’ campaign.

King Sunny Ade’s ‘Vintage Fender’ Guitar Auctioned At N52m

Announcing the appointment, he said: “We are looking for people like you (King Sunny Ade) that the younger ones can look up to. It’s not just that you have been around for fifty years but you have been around for fifty years without any single stain on your part and that is very hard.

Alhaji Mohammed eulogized King Sunny Ade for elevating the juju music genre into an international commodity that is now accepted all over the world.

“Most people like you would have had one issue or the other that today their integrity would be at stake. Your integrity is as strong if not stronger than when you started. So it would be a pleasure if you can accept to be our Ambassador of the “Change Begins With Me”.

“I want the younger ones to look at you and see that you can actually get to the top without cutting corners. That is exactly what you have done. You have never cut corners and you have gotten to the top.”

While accepting the offer to serve as an Ambassador of the “Change Begins With Me” Campaign, King Sunny Ade pledged to partner with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to move the nation forward.

“You don’t need to say much. This is what I love to do and it has been in me. We are ready to do that officially throughout the whole world,” KSA said.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN also explained that KSA has a valuable role to play as an ambassador and change agent.

Nigeria Appoints King Sunny Ade As ‘Change Begins With Me’ Ambassador

“We are still suffering from regular attacks in the Niger Delta that affect our power generating capacity,” Fashola said. “King Sunny Ade is a national icon and he can help Government communicate our message in a language that everybody can understand.”

See more photos below:

King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank to say “Thank You”King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank to say “Thank You”King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank to say “Thank You”King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank to say “Thank You”King Sunny Ade Visits Fashola, Fayemi, Fowler, Lai Mohammed, Access Bank to say “Thank You”

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