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SOLILOQUY: The National Stadium As A Metaphor Of Our Sports Development



By Michael Effiong

I was at the National Stadium the other day, and I could not help but shake my head at what that intimidating edifice has become. What used to be a beautiful bride is now a worn, ugly old hag, a monstrosity of the highest order.

How time flies. In truth, as I drove into the facility, all the memories of my days in the sporting arena and in the Surulere area just flooded back in torrents.

How can I forget those days, when we will spend our holidays and free time playing table soccer? There were no suffocating home works and assignments as schools these days heap on our children. Holidays were for fun and relaxation.

Table soccer? A smile just broke through my lips as I reminisced. This is soccer played with bottle tops as players with the cap of Smarties as the ball. The goal posts were made from cutting one half of the St Louis Sugar pack into two. It was so much fun. After table soccer, we played what we called set, and then went on to play the real thing through street vs street football competitions.

It was fun growing up. But I must add that it was not all smooth sailing, many times, we got flogged for staying away longer than expected or even stepping out of the house at all. But boys will always be boys, the flogging of last night will not deter you from sneaking out again a few days later to catch your fun.

Football was it. I remember vividly that one of the places we used to sneak to was the Stationery Stores Camp in Lawanson. It was at least a full 45 minutes or so walk. Hmmm, only if our parents knew the risk we took. But Surulere of the 70s, like Nigeria at the time, was relatively safe.

We will be atop the moon with excitement as we watched the likes of Peter Rufai aka Dodo Mayana, Ebitimi Collins aka Barb Wire, who died in last year, just relaxing at the Club House.

Yes, the team had a functional club house! On match days, we used to go see them depart, what an experience, the songs by the supporters, the energetic dance steps of the players and the whole atmosphere was one that was worth all the risk.

Long before I became a journalist, my friends knew me as a story teller, I would always have stories to tell and how can you tell stories without experiences. So outings like these, are the ingredients used to regale my friends with sweet tales of what they were missing.

Not to far from home was the UAC, that is the facility we now call, Teslim Balogun Stadium, I watched many Principal Cup and league matches here. Clubs such as First Bank, Julius Berger and Nepa FC and of course my own Super Stores were the most prominent at the time. But going to the National Stadium was another matter all together.

The National Stadium, for any child who grew up in Surulere was a huge edifice that we saw from the outside and dreamt about.

My first real experience of the Stadium on big match day was during a Challenge Cup Final Match.

My excitement reached a feverish pitch when one of the many “uncles”, no relation of mine though, came to inform my mum that he wanted to take me to the Challenge Cup Final. It was a game between Stationery Stores and Bendel Insurance. We were all heart and soul for Super Stores, it is a club of my hood and to be honest, I could not sleep the night before the match.

The “uncle’ ‘s invitation was a surprise because I knew he was a die-hard Enugu Rangers Fan. We had a good mix of supporters in in my area.

Our maroon Jersey with gold stripe was by far more attractive and was the envy of my friends who rooted for Sooting (IICC Shooting Stars), they wore what I usually described as dull blue and Enugu Rangers’s dirty White and Red. Stores was the darling team of Surulere and we strutted around proudly like peacocks.

But I have to add here that Rangers had a lot of support base in my area too and anytime Rangers came to town, we were usually swarmed by their supporters. My street, Olaitan Odularu was take off point on match days and their chants..Holy Holy, Holy, Holy Enugu Rangers…still rings in my ears even till this day.

On D Day, I was teasing my sponsor that I hope we would not have the kind of experience Rangers had in 1978 as we made our way to the Stadium.

Many fanatical fans of Rangers will never forget 1978. Rangers was the African Cup Winners Cup Champion of 1977, they had National team stars like Emmanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu, Alloysius Atuegbu and a lethal striker, Nnamdi Nwokocha who was defender’s nightmare.

Anyway, Insurance team of David Adiele, Henry Ogboe, Felix Agbonifo etc shocked the all mighty Rangers 0-3.It was an earth-shaking upset.

But on this day, it was Stores vs Bendel Insurance. I was too optimistic to think of a loss for my darling team. By the time we got to the stadium about noon, it was already packed.

Of course, I had been warned that it would be a long, tiring wait, Who cared about any wait or tiredness? Being inside the National Stadium for a Challenge Cup Final meant that any other thing paled into insignificance.

I was on top of the world because I was going to watch some of the stars of the Green Eagles, that was how our national team was then called and that was enough.

Those days, there were no phones or computer games to occupy you, all you had to do was seep in the atmosphere, the lovely songs, the taunts and the fun.

I was not even hungry. I took mental note of key points to share with my friends who had already noted “Udo, this one wey you dey go watch Final for National Stadium, we no go hear word. Trust me “dem no hear word for weeks. I made sure I was releasing my exclusives from the arena in bits and pieces.

Back to the match, I could remember that there was an Under-15 game that kept us occupied before the main game, but the stadium came alive as soon as the players stepped onto the pitch for warm up. Every inch of the arena was filled, it was dizzying for an 11 year old.

Trust us, the Lagos football fans, we outnumbered the Insurance guys three to one and our excitement was sky high.We were vociferous. The match started on a high, but ended on a sad note because we lost 0-1.

I was devastated, that is why today I can relate to the emotional state of some of my friends who support clubs like Arsenal, who keep witnessing losses week after week for so many years,  that day, I was heart broken and I cried all the way home.

It was very painful, but two years later, we blasted Niger Tornadoes 4-1 to lift that same Challenge Cup. But that first experience will forever be etched on my memory.

It was not only with clubs that my romance with National Stadium ended. The Green Eagles used to camp at the famous Kilo Hotel in Surulere I used to keep vigil at the hotel which was a walking distance from my house.

That proximity to the stars inspired me to become a regular at the stadium and watched many Green Eagles matches, if I was an autograph hunter, I would have banked the signatures of all the leading stars in Nigeria, I was that close to these guys.

Why am I waxing lyrical and fantasizing about the now decrepit National Stadium, it was a national pride, but now the shame is on us all. Why have we allowed such a wondrous facility to go to waste?

The state of the national stadium, is a clear indication of the state of our sports, everything is in tatters.

Take our football for instance, it is in shambles. Let us start from the grassroots. There is no grassroots football anymore. I remember that Stephen Keshi, Nduka Ugbade, Samson Siasia all played for St Finbar’s College and were spotted at that very young age.

Igbobi College, St Gregory’s College, CMS Grammar School, Ansar Ud Deen, Baptist Academy, Zumuratu Islamiya, CKC, all produced stars. YSFON used to hatch players too. But that production factory have all gone comatose.

Our National Nationwide league is a huge joke. Can you believe that after recruiting players, training almost every day, the Nationwide National League 1 teams played only 3…Yes, I, 2, 3 games and the league season was rounded off. The NNL began with great promise even getting a sponsor but today, it is barely surviving.

Now, lets go to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) our equivalent of the premier league. to be honest, the league is professional only in name. There is nothing professional about the structure and the operation of the league.

The clubs are almost all owned by the State Governments, which means governing structures are weak and unpredictable. The Managers of the various clubs have no direct stake in terms of investment so, the clubs are run like a typical government property which does not aspire to excellence.

How many Nigerian Premiership clubs have their own stadiums or even have audited accounts?

The weak rules is now about to lead to a major problem when the new season begins as two teams from two different states will be playing in the NPFL, how will the almighty administrators handle this situation when its rules clearly says no two teams with same owners can play in the same league?

Futhermore, I don’t know any professional league where the players have no defined contracts. Contracts are drawn up but never kept, that is why players are owed months of salaries and the League Management Committee cannot do anything about it. Some players even have to stage protests to get paid. Clubs are fined and they don’t pay the said fines and there are no consequences.

The other day, Kano Pillars players were unruly during a Super League game with Enugu Rangers at the Agege Stadium.

Rabiu Ali, the Pillars captain had instigated it all with the way he reportedly charged at the referee after the final whistle. His action led to a pitch invasion, which would have been deadly, if not for the timely intervention of the Police.

The LMC fined Kano Pillars N8million and slammed Ali with a 12 game ban. I doubt if that fine had been paid till date and we are about to begin another season. And to make matters worse, Ali’s ban was later reviewed and reduced!

What of the state of the playing pitches, that is another matter all together, if you check out the requirement stipulated in the NPFL document, you will applaud, but many of the pitches are not worthy to host a top tier match if truth be told.

Well, even as bad as our league is, I often wonder why clubs like Super Stores, 3SC, Rangers, Enyimba, Akwa United, Kwara United cannot sell thousands of jerseys and other forms of merchandising to raise funds for the running of their operations.

Look at the shameful way our numero uno league was conducted last season in what was called an abridged league? Yet we are going on as if everything is right.

And then, I don’t know where we learnt this bad habit that anytime our national team is participating in a major tournament, the league must go on recess? Even while Russia was hosting the World Cup, some games in the lower tier were still on.

I believe shutting down the league is just an excuse for the officials to go on their usual jamboree. Even when we said we would align our league with that of Europe and the rest of Africa, we are still wobbling and fumbling.

Where are the stars to watch? The National team in the past few years have been filled with players playing in low quality teams or third rate leagues. Unlike the past when Adokie, Odegbami, Muda, Olukanmi, Chukwu, etc who played for the Eagles were here shining in their clubs.Everything today is mediocre. That is why we now have more supporters of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona in Nigeria than ever before.

It therefore should not surprise anybody that the stadiums are empty except for a few matches. What would attract you? Is it the quality of players, the quality of pitches or the quality of the game? Why cant we have a 10-club Professional league that is up to standard than this contraption that has not lived up to expectation?

Just as run down as the National Stadium is at the moment, our football is also on a downward slide. I wonder what NFF President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick will leave behind as his legacy.

Amaju is one savvy gentleman that has injected fresh ideas and some panache to football administration in Nigeria, I am impressed with his connections with FIFA, but what has he achieved in terms of building the right structures for our football to grow. He has to start now to think about this otherwise, he would come, go and become another footnote in our football history like some before him.

Still on the stadium. Today, when you go to the stadium, you are made to pay N100 as levy per car, who keeps that cash and what is it used for?

I saw that the swimming pool has been privatized and it has been renovated and looks sparkling clean, good move, but why is the whole facility not given to a concessionaire? Who is selling off this our national treasure ?

Why are we cutting the place up, like the whale that we saw that was being cut by some people till its bare skeleton were left behind?

Let’s leave football and delve into boxing? Has anyone been inside that Brai Ayonote Boxing Gym? That is another cause for concern? I could not believe my ears when I was told that the National Boxing Team trains there. The flooring is pulling off and the place is so dusty and unkempt that you can’t stay there for twenty minutes without catching catarrh.

Look at the issue with the basketball federation. For over two years now, we have two boards laying claim to the operations of the association and not even the former Minister could whip them in line. Where is our pride and our sense of shame?

Nothing typifies this lack of shame more than the shocking occurrence at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). The system has become so rotten, that we do not care a hoot even if it will lead to international embarrassment.

We are all now familiar with the story. In case we have forgotten so easily as we often do, and move on to the next scandal, it had to do with a simple transaction.

The world athletics governing body, International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) as part of its commitment usually sends each federation a tidy sum of $15,000 for developmental purpose.

In 2017, the IAAF sent the money as usual but instead of the $15,000, the officer mistakenly sent $150,000.

After waiting for months for our Athletics Federation of Nigeria to do the needful and it did not, the IAAF wrote to us indicating that it was an error and that the $135,000 be returned.

The AFN and the Sports Ministry under Mr Solomon Dalung began to play hide and seek, and as we speak the matter had not been resolved.

It was even reported that the former Minister promised to pay the money in installments! Who did to us?

That Minister should have been disgraced out of office for disgracing the nation in such a manner but this is Nigeria where any thing goes, he was at his post till the very last day. Everywhere you look, you are confronted by barefaced impunity!

Gone are the days when we used to shine at Commonwealth games and the Olympics, with the likes of Innocent Egbunike, Falilat Ogunkoya, Chidi Imoh, Davidson, Deji Aliyu, Chioma Ajunwa, Christy Opara-Thompson and Mary Onyali

These days, we only participate and come back home with our tails between our legs. Our claim to fame at major tourneys in recent years are the exploits of the para athletes, how are the mighty fallen.

The reason for our poor outing are not far fetched, we have left the National Stadium to rot. We need to wake up and fast too.

For us to begin the quest to restore our lost glory, we need to restore the National Stadium to its lost glory. We cannot have such an edifice and allow it to rot.

That was the reason, I was so excited when news filtered in that the Ministry of Sports was making plans to hand over the National Stadium to the Lagos State Government, whatever had been the clog in the wheel of that deal, I am appealing to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to pursue it with vigor and conclude it.Lagos deserves more than the astro turfs in Agege, Teslim and the new Onikan.

How has Lagos, eko for show, fallen so low to the point that we never host first class National Team matches anymore? Governor Sanwo-Olu has to rewind the hand of the clock.

The refurbished National Stadium would not only be a wonderful achievement for Sanwo-Olu, it would return Lagos to its pride of place as the authentic Centre Of Excellence in Sports. In addition, this will certainly mark the beginning of our return to the days of glory.

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Diezani Madueke Drags EFCC, AGF to Court over False, Injurious Publications, Seeks N100bn Damages




By Eric Elezuo

A former Minister of Petroleum during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has brought the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation as first and second defendants respectively, through a Writ of Summons before a Federal Capital Territory High Court, demanding the appearance of the duo in court with a statutory 14 days period, or judgment may be given to the claimant in their absence.

The commandment was given in Suit number C4/6273/23, and dated May 26, 2023 with Mrs. Alison-Madueke as the claimant and the duo of EFCC and AGF as defendants.

The former Petroleum Minister is praying the court to declare certain publications “authored by the Defendant under the supervision of the 2nd Defendant and widely published by the 1st Defendant, is false, malicious, injurious and intended to lower the reputation and integrity of and did indeed lower the reputation and integrity of the Claimant in the estimation of right thinking members of the society within and outside Nigeria and also brought the Claimant into public ridicule, odium, contempt, derision and obloquy.”

Alison-Madueke also sought an order, among many orders “directing the Defendants jointly and severally to pay to the Claimant the sum of N100,000,000,000.00 (100 billion naira) only as damages for the false, injurious, malicious and libelous publications against the Claimant in the 1st Defendant’s publishing platform, and at the instance of both the 1st and the 2nd Defendants.”

The publications according to the claimant were dated from 2017 till 2021, and appeared in prominent national dailies including print and online.

The claimant, in proving the falsehood of the publications, said that the defendants had means and opportunities to verify the truth, but chose not to do so.

“The Defendants had the means and opportunities of verifying the truth or otherwise of the offensive publications, but failed to do so and were motivated in making the offensive publications by the desire to increase their public profile and perception, and to bring the estimation of the Claimant into contempt, odium and ridicule in the eyes of an average Nigerian.

“The publications have greatly prejudiced and injured the Claimant and caused her reputational damage, loss of goodwill, and confidence by her political associates and professional colleagues, whom all of now shun and keep their distance from her as a common thief and corrupt public officer,” the Summons revealed.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke was Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum till 2015 when the Jonathan’s administration left office. She left for England shortly after to treat severe ailment, and has been in England ever since. Attached are some of the documents of the Summons.

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Muhammadu Buhari: Eight Years of the Good, the Bad, the Ugly




By Eric Elezuo

The tense atmosphere prevalent in the nation today has proved that the fanfare, flamboyancy and tangible joy that heralded the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 are no longer in vogue. On the lips of most Nigerians is the expression ‘thank God it’s finally come to an end’ with different persons expressing themselves in different ways, but each coming to terms with the meaning.

In barely 24 hours, the eight years administration of Nigeria’s leader will come to an end; glorious or inglorious depends on the side of the divide the particular Nigerian or interest group is speaking from. To many, it has been an eight years of nostalgia, to others, it was an eight years of irreparable mistake. But the truth remains that the eight years, counting from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2023, has remained a watershed in the history of Nigeria. Without an iota of doubt, a lot has happened, ranging from the good, the bad, the ugly and in fact the very ugly.

In 2013, when it was believed that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was becoming rudderless, clueless, and practically heading to nowhere, a strong anti-government group ostensibly led by the Senator Bola Tinubu, rose, and galvanised a huge followership to cast aspersion on the incumbent with a view to dethroning him. The group, which cut across many parties in the country, including the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sought the endorsement of Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate, being touted as the face of the north, and erroneously believed to be a ‘saint’ in the corruption index.

A columnist wrote: “For the past eight years of Buhari’s administration have been an unmitigated failure; a monumental waste of time, of resources, and of the hopes and aspirations of a nation and a people. True stewardship is leaving a place better than one found it. But Buhari is leaving Nigeria far worse than he found it in 2015.”

From many quarters, observers have said that Buhari had an opportunity to better his first coming in 1984, but flopped the chance with a performance they believe is below average.

But how did the Buhari administration fare? In a Sunday morning farewell broadcast, the president examined his stewardship, and presented as follows:

My fellow Nigerian brothers, sisters and friends of Nigeria. 

2. I address you today, in my last assignment as a democratically elected President of our great and well-endowed nation, with a deep sense of gratitude to God, a great deal of appreciation to the Nigerian people and a modest sense of fulfilment. 

3. Today we mark and celebrate another peaceful transition of power from one elected government to another in our steady march to improve and sustain Nigeria’s democracy. 

4. This year we witnessed the most keenly contested Presidential Elections since the first Republic and this demonstrates that our democracy is getting better and more entrenched with each election. 

5. We must as a nation improve and sustain gains we make in the electoral process, on an incremental basis for Nigeria to take its rightful place among Nations. 

6. Our democracy provides for, allows and encourages seeking redress for perceived injustices, enabling some candidates and political parties that did not agree with the results to go to court. 

7. Irrespective of the outcome of the various cases, I urge all parties involved to accept the decision of our courts and join hands to build a better Nigeria. 

8. I salute the doggedness and resilience of all the Presidential Candidates and their political parties for believing in our judicial system by taking their grievances with the election results to court. 

9. In the course of the campaigns, we had argued and disagreed on how to make Nigeria better but we never disagreed or had any doubts that Nigeria has to be better. 

10. As your President, I call on all of us to bring to bear the strength of our individualism, the power of our unity, the convictions of our beliefs to make Nigeria work better and together with one spirit and one purpose. 

11. To my brother, friend and fellow worker in the political terrain for the past ten years – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu -, I congratulate you on the realisation of your dream, which was propelled by a burning passion to put Nigeria amongst the leading nations of the world.  

12. You have indeed worked for this day and God has crowned your efforts. I have no doubt that your passion for excellence, reliance on competence, fairness in relationships, commitment to equity, loyalty to the country and desire for Nigeria to be globally relevant would come through for you, under God’s guidance, as you lead our country to levels higher that I am leaving.   

13. You are the best candidate among all the contestants and Nigerians have chosen well. 

14. The last eight years have been an exciting experience in my desire and commitment to see a Nigeria in which public goods and services are available, and accessible within a united, peaceful and secure nation. 

15. Fellow Nigerians, on the strength of your overwhelming support for me and my political party, I started this journey with a great deal of promise and expectation from you. I never intended to be just politically correct but to do the correct things that will make meaningful impact on the lives of the common Nigerian. 

16. This high expectation was not misplaced because, like the ordinary Nigerian, I had grown tired of watching the country progressively moving away from the path of correctness. 

17. To ensure that our democracy remains resilient and our elected representatives remain accountable to the people, I am leaving behind an electoral process which guarantees that votes count, results are credible, elections are fair and transparent and the influence of money in politics reduced to the barest minimum. And Nigerians can elect leaders of their choice. 

18. We are already seeing the outcome of this process as it provided an even playing field where persons without any political God-Father or access to money defeated other well-resourced candidates. 

19. The Nigerian economy has become more resilient due to the various strategies put in place to ensure that our economy remained afloat during cases of global economic downturns. 

20. You would all recall the supply chain disruptions and economic downturn that the world witnessed between 2020 and 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deftness of our response to the pandemic still remains a global best practice. 

21. Furthermore, we increased the ability of the poor and rural Nigerians to earn a living, provided more food for millions in our villages and gave our women opportunities to earn a living. 

22. Young men and women in urban centres were also supported to put their skills into productive use. Our administration also provided an enabling environment for the private sector to engage in businesses for which their return on investments is guaranteed. 

23. The private sector proved a strong partner in our drive to build a resilient and sustainable economy as evidenced by the growing number of turn-key projects in various sectors of the economy. 

24. In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results. Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologised to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the over-all good of the country. 

25. Mindful of the need to ensure adequate infrastructure to drive economic growth, we completed age-long projects and processes notably amongst which are the Petroleum Industry Act, completion of some power projects, completion of the second Niger bridge and various important roads linking cities and states. 

26. Our battle to ensure that all Nigerians live in a safe and secure environment has achieved considerable results. As I complete my term in office, we have been able to reduce the incidences of banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other criminal activities considerably. 

27. To sustain the gains made so far, I call on all Nigerians to be more vigilant and support the security agencies by ensuring that our values defined by being your brothers’ keeper govern our actions. 

28. Up-till now, I still grieve for our children still in captivity, mourn with parents, friends and relatives of all those that lost loved ones in the days of the senseless brigandage and carnage. For all those under unlawful captivity our Security Agencies are working round the clock to secure their release unharmed. 

29. Fellow Nigerians, you know how dear the desire in my heart is, to rid the country of corrupt practices that had consistently diminished our efforts to be a great country. 

30. I did pursue this commitment relentlessly, in spite of the expected push back. I am happy that considerable progress had been made in repatriating huge sums of money back to the country and also taken over properties illegally acquired from our common wealth. 

31. To improve service delivery, we began the implementation of a number of reforms aimed at producing an Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-oriented (EPIC) Federal Civil Service and the results are beginning to show. 

32. On the international scene, Nigeria’s influence continues to grow as exemplified by notable Nigerians occupying headship and leadership positions in renowned global bodies. 

33. Our democracy is built on and continues to thrive on the principles of separation of powers. The leadership and members of the National Assembly deserve my appreciation for their patriotism which did not detract from their roles as a check to the executive arm.

34. I also want to use this opportunity to express my appreciation to a good number of Nigerians who provided their support and encouragement to help me navigate the exciting journey in moving Nigeria forward. 

35. I cannot and will not forget the millions who prayed for me during my illness in my first term of office. I am constantly praying for you and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.

36. As I retire home to Daura, Katsina State, I feel fulfilled that we have started the Nigeria Re-Birth by taking the initial critical steps and I am convinced the in-coming administration will quicken the pace of this walk to see a Nigeria that fulfils its destiny to be a great nation. 

37. I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015. 

38. I thank you all. And may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Buhari administration has however received knocks from a good number of quarters, which believed that his administration was the worst in the history of the nation. According to the outgoing governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, Buhari performed abysmally low, and should be told.

In his opinion, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief Bode George, noted that in all sectors of the country, the Buhari’s administration has not impacted positively the lives of Nigerians.

“My personal assessment is that he failed, not completely in every sector, but if you do an examination and say you must have a minimum of 33 per cent, then you can go to the next class, but they did not attain that 33 per cent.

“I can give them maybe about 5 per cent, even the 5 per cent requires a lot of retrospection.

“So it is very disheartening and heartbreaking that he failed in his number one job, which was to guarantee security of lives and property.

“You know when he was coming in, Buhari told us, ‘I would fight corruption, I will secure the lives and properties of the people, I will do this, I will do that’.

“So, let’s put those promises now into his departure, because that’s what will be written on the pages of history. Whatever a leader does during his time is on the pages of history,” he said.

For Senator Shehu Sani, Buhari granted waivers to the rich and impoverish the poor, closing the borders for those who import bags of rice on motorcycles and permitting those who use the ships.

“He led the country without any economic direction. He presided over a Government that failed to secure the lives of Nigerians; 63k dead, 3m IDPs & 366k refugees in neighbouring countries,” he tweeted.

“He failed to restructure as he promised. He granted waivers to the rich & impoverished the poor. He closed the borders for those who import bags of rice on motorcycles and permitted those who use the ships.

“He built magical pyramids that disappeared after three days. He left incomplete projects with huge debts to service for decades.

“He enabled, enriched & reinforced a cabal for 8 years. He appointed & retained failures and rewarded them with extensions. He was weak in taking decisions & runway when it’s tough.

“He has no house in London but made London his home. He left behind record inflation, record devaluation, record unemployment, record fall in GDP, record figures of poverty and record plunder of state resources.

“He left behind a nation with 60m people suffering from mental illnesses. He is leaving behind the health workers on strike. He set up traps for the next Government in order to make his own look better,” Sani said.

Also assessing the eight years of the Buhari administration, an aide to PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Demola Olanrewaju, said: “APC was voted in 2015 on the promise of change, and APC got and effected a change of promise”.

He added that “nobody attaches credibility to promises made by politicians anymore because of the inability of this administration to keep its promise”.

“We must cast our mind back to the promises made by APC in 2015 en route to taking over from the PDP. I think it’s quite obvious that if you look at those promises and the reality on the ground today, the APC has simply not fulfilled its promises. Buhari has simply not fulfilled the promises that brought him into power,” he said.

“The government came in with high hopes that began to be dashed gradually.

“There was a sense of Buhari’s administration not being a reflection of any other administration simply because APC had criticised the previous government for some of the things that they turned around to do; in terms of the integrity of elections, insecurity, and ideas on how to make Nigeria work.

“There were also attempts by this administration to distance itself from its own promises. Buhari promised ‘restructuring’ when he got into power, and he said he did not understand what restructuring means anymore.

“Basically, APC was voted in 2015 on the promise of change, and APC effected a change of promise. Based on that, I think the Buhari administration has not lived up to the billing of its promise.”

On his part, Oluseyi Olufemi, a data journalist, said while the Buhari administration ranked high in some aspects of state management, the government failed in economics and human rights issues.

“In terms of economics, that was a greater decline. The Buhari administration scored the lowest. Things have gotten worst than they used to be,” he said.

“In terms of the number of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), that increased drastically also under Buhari compared to other governments. Human rights abuse was also worse.”

The way it is, failed or succeeded, Buhari is on his way out, and this is the era of Senator Bola Tinubu if the cases in court do not yield anything positive. The question is not is how would Tinubu better the wrongs committed by the Buhari administration, especially when he had said he would continue where the outgoing administration stop.

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76th Cannes Film Festival Ends with Bang




The stars on parade at 76th Festival de Cannes


By Michael Effiong

The colour, the glamour, the style and class of the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival ends today with a big bang.

Festival de Cannes, the film industry’s most prestigious festival will take place at 8:30 pm and will be broadcast live on France 2 and internationally on Brut.

The Jury, presided over by director Ruben Östlund and including director Maryam Touzani, actor Denis Ménochet, writer/director Rungano Nyoni, actress/director Brie Larson, actor/director Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi, director Damián Szifron and director Julia Ducournau, will select the winners from the 21 films in Competition this year.

Actress Anaïs Demoustier, President of the Jury, will hand out the Caméra d’or award to the best first film. Actress Stacy Martin and director Ildikó Enyedi, President of the Short Film and La Cinef Jury, will award the Palme d’or for short films.

Actor Orlando Bloom will hand out the Jury Prize. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actress for Holy Spider, will award the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor Prizes respectively.


Actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, will award the Best Screenplay Prize, while Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, will present the Best Director Prize.


The Festival de Cannes will also be honored by the exceptional presence tonight of legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who will present the Grand Prix alongside virtuoso Quentin Tarantino.


Finally, the prestigious Palme d’or will be presented by the formidable and inspiring Jane Fonda.


The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 76th Festival de Cannes, and will be followed by the screening of Peter Sohn‘s film Elementary in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


The 21 films competing for the Palme d’or this year are : Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz, Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Rapito (Kidnapped)(Kidnapped) by Marco Bellocchio, Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters)(Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania, L’Été dernier (Last Summer) (Last Summer) by Catherine Breillat, Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses)(About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Le Retour (Homecoming) by Catherine Corsini, The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer, Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, May December by Todd Haynes, Monster by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kuolleet Lehdet (Fallen Leaves)(Fallen Leaves) by Aki Kaurismäki, The Old Oak by Ken Loach, Il Sol dell’ avvenire (A Brighter Tomorrow)(A Brighter Tomorrow) by Nanni Moretti, La Chimera by Alice Rohrwacher, Black Flies by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Banel e Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-Feu) (The Pot-au-Feuby Tran Anh Hùng, Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Anatomy of a Fallby Justine Triet, Jeunesse (Le Printemps) (Youth (Spring))(Youth (Spring)) by Wang Bing, Perfect Days by Wim Wenders.

The Closing ceremony, usually a wonderful evening to behold will be broadcast in English and French by Brut.

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