Monday, 25 September 2017

The Gambia has revoked the diplomatic passports of ex-leader Yahya Jammeh and his associates, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as the new government pursues former regime figures it believes embezzled state funds.

Jammeh plundered an estimated $50 million before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power, the country’s justice minister announced in May, promising a commission would trace the money.

The Gambian government revoked “the diplomatic passports of members of the former regime and this includes President Yahya Jammeh, his wife Zeinab Jammeh and cabinet ministers,” ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Saikou Ceesay told AFP.

“The list consists of 271 people who no longer enjoy diplomatic immunities. They should have returned their passports when they ceased to be Gambian diplomats,” Ceesay added.

The government already froze Jammeh and his associates’ assets in May and said it had begun tracking down bank accounts and businesses linked to the former strongman.

Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his long tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain, as well as overseeing widespread rights abuses by his security forces, according to the new government.

He only left the country under threat of a west African military intervention after losing to President Adama Barrow in a December election and refusing for weeks to acknowledge the result.

Barrow said in an interview with AFP last month that although Jammeh was now in Equatorial Guinea, which is not a member state of the International Criminal Court, he believed the former leader would one day find himself in court.

“There are people who committed atrocities and faced justice. They were extradited to face justice. It can also happen with Jammeh,” he said.

 

The Super Eagles forward has signed a five-year deal at the King Power Stadium and becomes Craig Shakespeare’s fourth signing ahead of the new season.

LEICESTER CITY ended this summer’s longest-running transfer saga when Kelechi Iheanacho finally completed his £25million move from Manchester City.

Foxes boss Craig Shakespeare’s dogged pursuit of the 20-year-old Nigerian strike sensation eventually paid off after his top summer signing target put pen-to-paper on a five-year-deal.

Kelechi Iheanacho completed his £25m move to LeicesterKelechi Iheanacho completed his £25m move to Leicester

 

Kelechi Iheanacho signed a five-year deal with Leicester

Kelechi Iheanacho signed a five-year deal with Leicester

Leicester were always confident they were in pole position to land the lethal finisher, who has scored 21 times in 64 appearances for City.

But complex issues over the player’s image rights and a court case involving a former agent caused the move to drag on throughout the summer.

Now Iheanacho says he can’t wait to show what he can do in a Leicester shirt, with a speedy home debut in Friday’s friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach on the cards.

Iheanacho told LCFC TV: “It feels good to be part of this team. I know the ambition here and I know what I need to do to help the team achieve what they want.

“After speaking with the manager I was convinced and happy to be here. It gives me more confidence that I will fit in this team and hopefully I’ll achieve a lot.” 

Iheanacho’s goal-scoring credentials are impeccable and he is the supreme penalty box poacher Shakespeare wanted to compliment Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton.

Kelechi Iheanacho in the Leicester changing room after completing his £25m move

Kelechi Iheanacho in the Leicester changing room after completing his £25m move

Kelechi Iheanacho became Leicester's fourth summer signing

Kelechi Iheanacho became Leicester’s fourth summer signing

Kelechi Iheanacho is put through his paces after arriving at Leicester

Kelechi Iheanacho is put through his paces after arriving at Leicester

Africa has confirmed the signing of Neymar from Barcelona for a world-record €222 million fee after activating the Brazil international’s buyout clause on Thursday.

Neymar has been the subject of intense speculation all summer and has finally put pen-to-paper on a five-year deal.

Late doubts about the move had been raised earlier on Thursday when La Liga refused to accept the €222m payment from PSG to trigger the clause, forcing Neymar’s legal team to travel to Barcelona to make the payment directly to the club.

Barcelona then confirmed that Neymar’s contract had been terminated, and a few hours later, the French club announced the most expensive transfer ever — more than doubling Manchester United’s €105m capture of Paul Pogba from Juventus last year. 

A presentation is planned for Friday, a source told ESPN FC, and it is possible he could debut in PSG’s Ligue 1 opener at home against Amiens on Saturday.

Neymar Agrees PSG Deal

“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” Neymar said in a statement after signing his contract. “Since I arrived in Europe, the club has always been one of the most competitive and most ambitious. And the biggest challenge, what most motivated me to join my new teammates is to help the club to conquer the titles that their fans want.

“Paris Saint-Germain’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings. I played four seasons in Europe and I feel ready to take the challenge. From today, I will do everything I can to help my new teammates, to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world.”

A source has told ESPN FC that Neymar will be paid around €30m per year after taxes and has been handed a major signing bonus in excess of his net annual sum. 

On top of those future earnings and significant bonuses, the source added that Neymar and his father will also profit from a number of club owners Oryx Qatar Sports Investments’ other commercial ventures in Paris and outside of the footballing world.

“It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar Jr to Paris Saint-Germain,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “Neymar Jr is today one of the very best players in world football. His winning mentality, strength of character and sense of leadership have made him into a great player.

“He will bring a very positive energy to this club. In six years, we have built a very ambitious project that has already taken us to the highest level of national and European football.

“Today, with the arrival of Neymar Jr, I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realizing our greatest dreams.”

Neymar helped Barca win one Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey as well as one FIFA Club World Cup and one Spanish Super Cup during his four-year stint in Catalonia, and he scored 105 goals across all competitions.

It's part of a new partnership between the singer's Clara Lionel Foundation and Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo.

The campaign called 1 Km Action will fund scholarships to help hundreds of girls attend secondary schools in Malawi.

Those who qualify for a scholarship will receive bikes to make sure they get to school.

According to the foundation, there are approximately 4.6 million students across Malawi but only 8% of students complete secondary school.

One of the reasons for this is because of the poor transport links.

"I'm so happy about the Clara Lionel Foundation's new partnership with Ofo because it will help so many young people around the world receive a quality education," Rihanna said.

"And also help the young girls of Malawi get to school safely, cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone."

Rihanna has a reputation for being a humanitarian.

Through her foundation, which is named after her grandparents, she has focused on providing children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls.

Rihanna with Brigitte Macron
Image caption She met with French President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron (left).

Her efforts helped win her Harvard University's Humanitarian of the Year award.

In June, she tweeted a number of world leaders to try to rally more funding for global education.

South African Airways (SAA) has run out of money and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, according to information given to the country's parliament.

It is thought the national carrier may soon be unable to pay salaries.

The cash-flow statement shown to MPs and seen by the BBC paints a picture of an airline haemorrhaging cash.

It says that matters may improve by October, but only if it gets a 792m-rand (£45m) bailout from the government.

Even then, the situation is expected to deteriorate again by December with a forecast cash outflow in that month of £38m.

The airline has lost money in each of the past seven years. Acting chief executive Musa Zwane, who has led the company for the last 18 months, has been trying to put together a recovery plan since January.

"Essentially insolvent"

Last month, the Treasury paid out £125m to settle a loan from Standard Chartered Bank‚ which the bank had refused to extend.

South Africa's Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has disclosed that SAA asked the Treasury in March for a £560m recapitalisation. He is expected to give an answer by October.

Alf Lees, the deputy finance spokesman of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: "Essentially they are insolvent and should have filed for liquidation.

"We believe that the directors are in breach of the South Africa companies act by continuing to trade recklessly knowing that SAA will not be able to meet its financial commitments and without any guarantee that the shareholder (the South African government) will be prepared to continue to bail them out."

Unions marching

In 2015, consultants Ernst & Young presented a report to the government into 48 of the largest contracts awarded by SAA. The report showed that 28 of them, or 60%, were improperly negotiated, poorly contracted or weakly managed.

The airline is also facing pressure from its unions. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are planning a march on Friday to SAA's Johannesburg headquarters.

An NUMSA spokesperson said: "Corruption at SAA is rife, it's clear that the state owned entity is being looted.

"The report by Ernst & Young paints a picture of rampant mismanagement, fraud and corruption. SAA has lost billions because of tender irregularities."

The unions are also threatening strike action over pay, claiming that pilots have been getting generous pay awards while cabin crew, ground staff, cargo staff and technical staff have been refused wage rises.

A South African held hostage by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011 has been released.

Stephen McGown was kidnapped from a hotel in Timbuktu along with two other foreign nationals.

In December 2015 a video of Mr McGown and another hostage - Swede Johan Gustafsson, freed in June - was posted on YouTube to show they were alive.

Authorities say he was released after efforts by the two countries' governments and NGO Gift of the Givers.

He was freed on 29 July and is now home with his family. But it is not clear why news of the release was delayed - some believe this was a security precaution.

"It was a big surprise when I saw Stephen walk through the door. When I hugged him, he felt as strong as ever," his father told Malcolm McGown told reporters in Pretoria where the announcement of his son's release was made.

He thanked South Africans of "every race and creed" for their support over the last few years.

"I wouldn't ever wish this to happen to anyone else, but they will have the support of the government...I would like to thank President Zuma for everything they did," he said.

The government says no ransom was paid for Mr McGown's release.

"We are happy to announce that finally these efforts have culminated in Mr McGown's release on 29 July 2017. We would like to warmly welcome him back home and wish him good health and good fortune in his life as a free man," International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a media briefing in Pretoria.

"It is with sadness though, that his dear mother, Beverly passed on in May 2017 without seeing her son again. The government extends, its deepest condolences to Stephen and his family. May her soul rest in eternal peace," she added.

 

Joaquim Francisco Filho, a former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, has been named as coach of Mauritius.

Filho succeeds Belgium-born Congolese Joe Tshupula who announced his resignation after the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers where Mauritius failed to reach the next round.

Filho's main task will be to prepare the national team for the Indian Ocean Islands games, scheduled in Mauritius in 2019.

"I have noticed that there is a great willingness to learn and improve here in Mauritius," Filho said.

"It is most important. You have to learn the basics, and then climb the ladder step by step."

Last February, Filho shared his knowledge for a week with some 30 coaches and aspiring coaches in Mauritius and made a great impression.

"A lot remains to be done in Mauritius especially at technical level.

"In football, the most important thing is technique whereas the physical part comes next.

"Above all, with these youngsters, we must make them footballers before we make them athletes.

"We must promote the skill and execution of movement," added Filho.

Born in São Paulo in 1940, Joaquim Francisco Filho began his career as a professional player at the age of 16.

He played in Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal and France.

As a coach, Filho made his name at the French development centre in Clairefontaine for nearly 30 years where he met Jonathan Bru, who is currently the assistant technical director of Mauritius.

In 2002 he joined Manchester United as a youth coach, working with Sir Alex Ferguson.

He also acted as an interpreter for Cristiano Ronaldo when he arrived at Old Trafford in 2003.

Thursday, 03 August 2017 14:16

I intend to soar in Russia- Mikel Obi

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup slated for Russia, Nigeria’s Mikel Obi has told fifa.com that he would leave no stone unturned.
Mikel, stated: “I am glad with what I have done,” he said. “But at the same time, I am not satisfied. I want to achieve more, so I must push harder.

The next World Cup in Russia will be a fresh chance for us but, first, we have to make it there. Then the next challenge will be to make sure we enjoy an even better tournament in Russia than we did in Brazil.”
Mikel is also particular about making his Russian wife and in-laws proud at the quadrennial international football tournament scheduled for  14 June to 15 July 2018   in Russia:

He said:”My wife is Russian,” he said, “and many of our relatives and friends are from Russia. They are all expecting Nigeria to qualify for the next World Cup. I think they will kill me if I fail them,” he added, laughing.

He added: “We are in a very good position in our group,” the 30-year-old Tianjin Teda midfielder told FIFA.com. “We have two wins from two games, and in our last game we beat Algeria at home. We have a very good young team and the players play good football. If we can win our next match (at home to Cameroon on 31 August) it will edge us closer to qualification. I think we can go through.”

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that with West Africa and Africa’s population set to reach 500 million and 2 billion people in 20 years, respectively, the process of regional and continental integration should be in the interest of all Africans and must no longer stall.

According President Akufo-Addo, West Africa and Africa’s projected populations mean that “genuine regional and continental markets in Africa should be in our mutual economic interests, for these markets will present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the peoples in our region and continent with hard work, creativity and enterprise”.

Functioning, common regional and continental markets, he added, have to be very fundamental objectives of Ghanaians, Nigerians, and, indeed, of all the peoples and governments in the region and on the continent, objectives that will consolidate the processes of structural transformations of our national economies on which we must be engaged.

“We cannot persist with economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, if we are to bring prosperity to the masses of our peoples,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, when he delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of Course 25 participants of Nigeria’s National Defence College, in Abuja, Nigeria.   

The President noted that for a continent that has made the choice of pursuing integration, “we have not done much as we should have in liberalising and promoting trade amongst member countries”.

Indeed, research has shown that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade. Trade between African nations remains low compared to other parts of the world.

In 2000, intra-regional trade accounted for 10% of Africa’s total trade, and increased marginally to 11% in 2015. Trading amongst members of the European Union, for example, amounted to 70% in 2015. With these very low levels of trade and investment co-operation in Africa, we must put in place deliberate measures at expanding trade and business collaborations to improve the prospects for prosperity of our peoples.

“For my part, I have made it clear on several occasions, and in the countries I have visited so far in the region and on the continent, that I am willing to do whatever I can to strengthen the ECOWAS and AU communities,” the President said.

He continued, “It is extremely important for the welfare of the 1.2 billion people of the continent that we, the leaders, demonstrate strong political will to make the project of integration, at the regional and continental levels, economic and political successes, and make them realities in the lives of our peoples”.

President Akufo-Addo stressed that if the Ghana and Nigeria consider the benefits of the full implementation of ECOWAS and AU Treaties on trade, free movement of goods and persons, customs, taxation, statistics, money and payments, then the two countries would both benefit in far better ways.

“It surely makes more sense for Nigeria to import its salt from Ghana than from Brazil. When we think of Africa before our own countries, we are not just being pan-Africanists, we are being true nationalists because what makes Africa better will make each of our countries better and more prosperous,” he said.

Follow EU example

President Akufo-Addo noted that nearly seven decades ago, on 9th May, 1950, a few nations of Europe, in response to a proposal from French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, embarked on a new journey.

“When he made the proposal that has today led to the European Union, the European continent was just five years removed from the Second World War; a war that had broken the back of Europe and spilled the blood of so many, including some of our own,” he said.

Today, according to President Akufo-Addo, the European Union has a market of 508 million people or 7.3% of the world population — the world’s third largest population after China and India –, one currency, and the free movement of goods, services and people across twenty-seven countries, albeit with Great Britain having voted to exit the Union, and beginning the processes for BREXIT.

“The EU in 2016 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 16.5 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 23% of nominal global GDP, which is the second largest economy by GDP in the world. The single currency, the EURO, has increased efficiency, lowered the cost of doing business and improved transparency in pricing. The overall effect has been to make Europe a much stronger economic and political player on the world stage,” he said.

Nigeria must provide leadership

President Akufo-Addo noted that West Africa and Africa cannot make the bold transformative changes they need to make without visionary political leadership.

“We need leadership that is focused on the region and continent, and not on individual countries. The European Union took off because the political leadership of France and Germany decided to make it work. Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make out of ECOWAS and the AU true regional and continental markets,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was of the view that Nigeria must provide the political leadership and passion to translate the ECOWAS and AU dreams into reality.

“You have the numbers, you have the economic muscle and, dare I say it, you owe it to the region and continent,” he said.

The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that the successes being chalked as a result of the collaboration taking place amongst countries in West Africa and Africa in the fight against terrorism and armed groups is significant.

According to President Akufo-Addo, countries such as Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin have joined Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, with the leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, known as the G5 du Sahel, launching a multinational force to fight armed groups in the Sahel region

The co-ordination of activities between the armies and the intelligence agencies these countries, he added, is absolutely essential to a successful battle against terrorism.

“African countries are co-operating in the fight against terrorism and achieving results, and this should spur us on in our collective drive towards an integrated and united Africa,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, when he delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of Course 25 participants of Nigeria’s National Defence College, in Abuja, Nigeria.   

Making reference to the strides made by the European Union (EU), President Akufo-Addo indicated that the EU was given the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”, “transforming most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace”, and the “successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

The President noted that “it is a widely acknowledged fact that the EU has helped prevent war amongst its current members since the end of World War II in 1945. History tells us that Britain, France, Germany and Italy had for centuries waged wars over religion, territory and power.”

He continued, “Thus, the creation of a free market, concealing economic and geographical borders, would erode the justification for using war as the quickest avenue to wealth and power, and lessen its appeal. That was the vision that inspired the idea behind the European Economic Community, now the EU, in 1957.”

President Akufo-Addo, thus, indicated that Africa should be inspired by this, and hasten her efforts towards integration.

“If Europe, through the formation of the EU, was able to stop the vicious cycle of violence that had plagued them for centuries, and lead them onto the path of advancement, wealth and prosperity for all, Africa can no longer dither,” he said.

Ghana, Nigeria must work together

With France and Germany being the keys to the success of the European Union, President Akufo-Addo stated that, in the same vein, Ghana and Nigeria, working together, can be the engine for growth of West Africa and Africa.

“Our respective armed forces have co-operated successfully in joint peacekeeping operations in several conflict situations in the region and on the continent, which have enabled peace and security to be re-established. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Sudan, Somalia, Mali and, most recently Gambia, all come to mind,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged the two countries to “now work together to unleash the energy and ingenuity of the African, and with a market of 1.2 billion people, soon to reach 2 billion, the sky will be the limit. Let us work towards the day when all of us will look to doing business, first in our region and continent, before looking to Europe, Asia or the Americas because we have the men and women, the goods, the services and the quality.”

The way forward, he stressed, is to implement regional and continental decisions, such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the Continental Free Trade Area, recognising that ultimately the benefits are in everyone’s interest.

“Those of us who believe strongly in integration can do no better than to give our full support to regional and continental decisions. Through this, we will build institutional confidence and integrity in the structural organs of ECOWAS and the AU,” he added.

All governments in the region and continent, the President stressed “need to collaborate to ensure that the countries of Africa adhere to and maintain common values of governance, i.e. the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law. Such commonality will facilitate immeasurably the process of bonding amongst the nations of our region and continent.”

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