Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Items filtered by date: July 2017

Barcelona are reportedly preparing to lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and have approached Juventus forward and rumoured Manchester United target Paulo Dybala to replace him.

The Argentina international has attracted interest from a host of top clubs in recent times after his fine form in Serie A, but now looks to be the favoured option for Barca as they deal with the blow of losing a key component of their world class attacking trident.

Neymar’s proposed £197million transfer to PSG looks increasingly likely to go through after failed efforts by Barcelona to persuade the Brazilian to stay, and it would require a marquee signing to fill his boots.

While there has also been speculation that Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho could be brought in, he is seen as more of an heir to Andres Iniesta in a creative midfield role.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Neymar may have played his last game for Barca (Picture: Getty)
Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Paulo Dybala is being eyed as Neymar’s replacement (Picture: Getty)

Up front, however, Marca claim Barcelona have contacted Dybala’s entourage over a potential move this summer, with the 23-year-old open to making the switch to the Nou Camp.

It remains to be seen if United are still in for the former Palermo man, though it was claimed Jose Mourinho had him on his list as a top target earlier this summer.

The Red Devils have since signed Romelu Lukaku to solve their problems up front, so may no longer have as pressing a need to pursue the signing of Dybala, giving Barca a clear path to his signature.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Dybala has impressed at Juventus and was also linked with Man Utd this summer (Picture: Getty)
Published in Sports

Shocking images showing the bodies of dead migrants highlight the desperation of people who risk everything in the hope of improving their lives.

Some can be seen sitting on the edge of a rubber boat while 13 corpses fill the centre of the dinghy.

The dead included pregnant women and children, according to the Spanish charity that rescued those who survived the journey.

Rescuers from Proactiva Open Arms managed to rescue 167 people, including 40 women and six children, the charity’s spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said.

The boat was found drifting in the Mediterranean Sea, 15 miles north of the Libyan coast.

Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
The picture shows the desperation of migrants (Picture: AP)
Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
A vast majority survived the journey and were rescued (Picture: AP)
Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
More than 2,200 migrants have died already this year (Picture: AP)

In a separate incident, Save the Children rescued 90 migrants on board a small boat, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Both rescue operations were co-ordinated by the Italian coastguard.

Shockingly, more than 2,200 migrants have died while trying to reach Europe so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration said.

The number includes at least 25 people who drowned near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Tuesday.

The Libyan Red Crescent said some corpses were washed up on a beach while others were found on rocks in a state of decomposition.



Published in Business and Economy

Neymar could be making his final appearance for Barcelona in Wednesday’s friendly clash with Manchester United, with reports in France claiming he has agreed a five-year contract with PSG.

The Brazilian was named in the starting XI to take on the Red Devils in Maryland on Wednesday night, and shared a hug in the tunnel with the player, Paul Pogba, whose transfer record he could soon break.

But just as Neymar was taking to the field, news broke that suggests he is on the verge of moving to PSG, with Le Parisien claiming it is no longer a case of if the 25-year-old will join the French champions, but when.

The French publication report that PSG are very confident of unveiling the superstar in the coming days, and he has already agreed terms to a five-year contract.

However, L’Equipe claim PSG have changed tact in their approach to sign Neymar, and will now try and negotiate a fee rather than simply deposit his buy-out – it has been suggested previously that long-time Barca target Marco Verratti could be included in any deal.

Even more intriguingly, Neymar’s father took to Instagram before the match against United and posted an image detailing his son’s achievements at Barca, which was perceived by many as a goodbye message.

Barcelona’s players have tried desperately to convince Neymar to snub PSG’s offer and remain at Camp Nou, but their pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Gerard Pique said: ‘I wish that Neymar stays, but [my tweet] was not an official decision. It is Neymar himself who decides and must announce.

‘The only thing I can say is that Neymar is mature enough to reconsider things. He is still 25 and has a unique talent.’

He added: ‘Neymar cannot be the protagonist at Barcelona, because the best will always be Lionel Messi, always. 

‘I told Neymar, in France you will never be the best player in the world… unless you win the Champions League. Can you do it? I gave him this advice as a friend.’

Neymar has a release clause of £199 million, with PSG set to make him the most expensive player of all time, blowing the £89m United spent on Pogba out of the water.

Talking transfer records? Neymar embraces Paul Pogba after agreeing massive five-year deal
Neymar wants to escape Messi’s shadow and join PSG’s horde of Brazilians (Getty)

In an effort to avoid Financial Fair Play rules, it has previously been claimed that the French side would hand Neymar a sponsorship contract via Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, who are tied to PSG.

That would allow Neymar to deposit the release clause himself without impacting PSG’s accounts, though UEFA are believed to be monitoring the deal very closely having cracked down on such loopholes previously which may have prompted their decision to try and negotiate with Barca.

Neymar, who scored 13 goals and laid on 11 assists last season, is expected to earn £26.9m per season after tax, as much as Messi currently earns at Barca.

 

Published in Sports
Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:25

PDP govs, others meet Buhari in London

Seven state governors on Wednesday met ailing President Muhammadu Buhari in London.

The team was led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari.

Other governors on the delegation include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Umar Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

Here are the photos of the visit.

Buhari-with-gov1 Buhari-with-gov2 Buhari-with-gov3 Buhari-with-gov4

Published in Business and Economy

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has said that he was shocked when he saw President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Sunday.

The governor, who along with some All Progressives Congress leaders visited the President on Sunday, said his surprise was because of the rumours and conspiracy theories that had made the rounds regarding President Buhari’s health.

Since May 7 when the President flew to London for medical treatment, he hasn’t been seen in public many people claiming his health had declined.

Governor Okorocha explained during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today that in Buhari’s absence, there was a lot of confusion and speculations about his health and it took the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who visited the President on July 11, to reassure Nigerians that the President was in good spirits.

“Even then, most people didn’t believe it. But to my greatest shock, when I arrived in London with the Party Chairman and the governors of Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and the Minister of Transport, we saw a man that was full of humour as usual and we were wondering whether it is the same person that they are talking about,” he said.

“All I can say is that Mr President is in good health, he is not on life support and he will soon be back. And he is not in the hospital. I was thinking I was going to see him in the hospital, but he is not even in the hospital. He was at home relaxing and having a good time.”

The governor said considering how healthy the President looked, he was surprised he had not already returned to Nigeria.

He said, “When I made enquiries as to why he is still waiting, why he is still not back home, all I got as an answer is that he is just taking some vitamins to increase his appetite to regain his lost weight.

“But I think the man is in good spirits and I think the prayers of Nigerians have worked to a great extent and President Buhari is coming back in full force to resume his work. What Nigerians should be talking about now is what should be his next line of action.”

Asked when the President was likely to return, he said, “The Buhari I saw two days ago will be back to Nigeria as soon as possible. I don’t think that he will stay longer than necessary, unless for some other reasons. I saw a man that was quite healthy, in high spirits and very sound – except for the fact that he has lost a bit of weight.”

 
Published in Headliners
Monday, 24 July 2017 00:11

Buhari, APC leaders meet in London

Nigeria’s ailing President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday received a delegation of the All Progressives Congress leadership in London, the Nigerian presidency said in a Twitter message accompanied by a photo of the president with the party members.

The photo was the president’s first image to be shared publicly since he left the country on May 7.

The delegation hosted to lunch included APC’s national chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, Governors Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi.

The visit of the APC leaders to the president came two weeks after the country’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo’s.

No details were given about the meeting but it is believed to be the first face-to-face encounter between Nigeria’s two most senior politicians in more than two months.

Buhari has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition. He left for London for a medical check-up on May 7, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the country.

Buhari would only return to Nigeria “as soon as his doctors give the go-ahead,” the presidency insisted.

He had earlier left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment.

Published in Headliners

Professor Patrick Utomi has berated former Delta state governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, for allegedly wasting countless opportunities the state had to develop, saying a good elected Councillor  would have done better.

In response to Dr Uduaghan’s recent negative shot at him in the media, Professor Utomi, who is also a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), narrated how he contributed to make the Uduaghan administration take certain open advantages of available opportunities to develop the state, which he state the former governor wasted.

Utomi said he had thought that the former governor would have been sorry and sober for wasting several opportunities the state had under his watch, adding that his (Uduaghan’s) attempt at spinning the story of how the state was misruled around would not sell as the people of the state had not forgotten what his era looked like.

He, however, added that he had been at the vanguard of a new leadership focus for the state because he believed that the people deserve better than what the past and current leadership had given to them.

“A good Councillor would have done much better for the people than Uduaghan did as Governor. There is extreme misuse of the opportunities available to Delta State. It will take a serious and truly capable government to vigorously tap its potentials and create jobs for our teeming youths.

“This is one of the many reasons why I believe Delta State needs new political leadership in 2019. Deltans are not meant to suffer from the jeopardy of a clueless administration, especially at this critical phase of our existence.

“I would have imagined that Uduaghan will be very sober and saddened by his legacy of mismanagement and gross wastage that he left behind in Delta State. Trying to spin his poor record in the hope that Deltans would have forgotten so soon is a failed attempt to rewrite history. Undoubtedly, he knows that only few Deltans speak well of him and it is his pain to struggle with that reality.

“As he grapples with history, what is more important to Deltans today is how we can rectify the wrong policies, decisions and actions of the past, so that we can create a government that would not only meet the needs of our people today but guarantee a better life for successive generations.

“This is the task that I have offered to commit myself to between now and 2023. We are looking forward to 2019 with hope and renewed zeal for the beginning of a ‘New Delta’ teeming with opportunities and alive with possibilities,” Utomi said.

Published in News & Stories

Earlier in the month, in what could best be described as the African gods of peace and harmony coming together to have a laugh, arch-rivals Wizkid and Davido performed for crowds abroad on the same night, in the same city and in venues just 15 minutes apart from each other.

As part of his promo tour to support the Sounds From The Other Side EP, Wizkid performed at the Bloody Louis nightclub, while Davido’s 30 Billion World Tour made a stopover at Birmingham Palace, both in Brussels, Belgium. A few weeks prior to their shows, the two men had reignited their five-year-old on-again off-again rivalry, so no one truly knew what that night had in store. But July 8th, 2017 came and went without any drama, so if Brussels – a city a fraction of the size of Lekki alone – could contain two of Nigeria’s biggest pop stars, the world is more than enough.

If Cristiano Ronaldo was born in a different generation, Lionel Messi would have been undisputedly the best football player of this generation, but the presence of Ronaldo will always make that conversation a debate and vice-versa. It’s a similar thing with Wizkid and Davido, even though the two of them started competing for the number one spot in the minds of their fans, their crews and in the media, before they started competing for it in real life. Wizzy was already doing music at a high level for two to three years before Davido’s career took off, but being the two young pop stars of their era with the most promise, the two of them were constantly getting compared. 

Wizkid and Davido’s relationship initially started on a friendly note. As far back as 2012, Davido even complained about outsiders constantly pitting them against each other: “I don’t know why people weigh us… I see him as a colleague, maybe if I didn’t know him personally (there’d have been issues) but I do.” Ominously, trouble began to manifest in the two’s relationship that same year. At the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) in the US, in a show of disrespect, Davido and his HKN crew reportedly walked out of the venue in the middle of Wizkid’s performance with EME, his crew at the time, and made sure their exit was noticed. Almost immediately after that incident, the two singers started getting more and more questions from the press about the status of their relationship.

Davido

There are as many conspiracies about what actually started the beef as there are on how Gen. Sani Abacha went home to meet his Maker. Some of the more intriguing stories range from Wizkid snubbing Davido by rejecting a record he sent to him to collaborate on, to both artists taking subliminal shots at each other on songs, even to their relationship being collaterally damaged by the collapse of Mo’ Hits Records. However, whatever was the real reason for their initial falling out, the two artists haven’t let on to this day. Towards the end of 2012 though, Davido joined Wizkid on stage as a surprise guest at the EME’s Baddest concert in Lagos in a move that was positioned as a reconciliation at the time.

Between then and now, Davido and Wizkid have formed a duopoly at the top of Nigerian pop music by amassing more affluence, more hits, more fame and more awards than any of their contemporaries. Coincidentally, the two men also signed international record deals with the same parent company, Sony Music. As they ascended to the top, there was a fragile peace between the two men that has been shattered and repaired repeatedly through the years. That peace was shattered once again last month when Davido seemingly took a jab at Wizkid on Snapchat by referring to his new music as ‘pon pon sound’.

Wizkid’s new EP Sounds From the Other Side was released last week and has divided fans. The singer brought together a combination of American artists and Caribbean sounds to what, some felt, ought to have been a Naija-only party. So even though SFOS wasn’t released at the time Davido took his latest shots, the singer behind recent domestic smash hits like “If” and “Fall” was actually echoing a popular sentiment about Wizkid’s new artistic direction. But the “Come Closer” singer didn’t take the criticism lightly – he fired right back, calling Davido a ‘local’ artist and mocking his own international experiment; last year’s “Son Of Mercy” EP, which, according to many reports, was a commercial flop.

Their battle for supremacy has now gone global, Nigeria is no longer enough. When two rival artists successfully make it out of their home country, their rivalry often evolves into a fight for the right to the crown back home. We’ve seen it before with dancehall, in the feud between Vybz Kartel and Mavado, and in reggaetón; in the beef between two of Puerto Rico’s finest exports – Daddy Yankee and Don Omar. The on-again off-again rivalry between Wizkid and Davido makes for an equally engaging story but just like dancehall and reggaeton music was bigger than those who fought for the crowns, so also is Nigerian pop music.

The world is ready to listen to our sound, whether it’s from a talented singer with humble beginnings in Ojuelegba or in the form of the husky voice of the hardworking son of a billionaire – or, better still, from someone else entirely.

By Chiagoziem Onyekwena, Contributor

Published in Entertainment

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has has directed Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maiduguri, to capture Abubakar Shekau, self-styled leader of the Boko Haram sect, “dead or alive”.

Buratai further directed the Theatre commander to do so within 40 days.

A statement issued by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, on Friday night, said that Attahiru should “employ all arsenal at the disposal of the Theatre Command to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria.”

“The general public is please requested to also assist and volunteer information that would lead to the accomplishment of this task,” Usman said.

Published in Headliners

More than 20% of the Democratic Republic of Congo's mining revenue is being lost due to corruption and mismanagement, a campaign group says.

According to a Global Witness report, the money is being distributed through corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila.

At least $750m (£580m) has gone missing over the past three years, it says.

The government has not commented but has previously denied allegations of corruption in its mining sector. 

DR Congo is Africa's biggest producer of copper and the world's largest supplier of cobalt used in batteries for electric cars.

It is also rich in gold, diamonds and coltan, used in mobile phones, but its people remain among the poorest in the world following years of conflict and mismanagement.

"Congo's mining revenues should be helping to lift its people out of poverty," says Pete Jones, a Global Witness senior campaigner.

According to the report, much of DR Congo's mining revenue goes missing after being paid to the state-owned mining company, Gécamines.

The head of Gécamines, a close ally of President Kabila, has denied allegations of corruption and insisted the company is transparent.

Published in Business and Economy
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