​Semi Ajayi: I always planned to play for Nigeria

Semi Ajayi has said that he had always wanted to play international football for Nigeria.

The London-born West Bromwich Albion defender, who was also eligible to play for England, qualified to play for the Super Eagles through his parents.

“When I was at Charlton, I had already represented Nigeria at under-20 and under-21 level. I’d always envisioned myself progressing to the first team,” the 27-year-old told BBC Sport Africa. When I got promoted with Rotherham, I was playing week in week out in the Championship.”

“That season I got a call from the Nigeria team saying that they had been monitoring my progress and they would like to offer me an invitation to the first team.

“I was buzzing, I was over the moon. Then I made my debut a couple of weeks later against Seychelles.

“It’s a surreal feeling pulling on that jersey and knowing that you are representing 200 million people. I’m blessed to be part of the 18 or 23 people selected to represent the country. It’s something I don’t take for granted.”

Ajayi, who now has 14 senior international caps, used to spend summers in Nigeria with his family before he turned professional.

“Before I started playing football full time, I used to go there every other summer with my family,” he explained.

“Now that my time off in football is different to the time my mum gets off from work, I don’t go as often. I still go back four times a year for the internationals and then sometimes in the summer.”

​How Davido, Wizkid, Olamide, Burna Boy broke streaming records in 2020

From all available statistics, facts and figures no other Nigerian musical artiste, male or female, was able to pull off what the quartet of Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy and Olamide pulled off in 2020.
The duopoly of Davido and Wizkid, which has been going on for years was questioned most especially by Burna Boy and the new face on the international scene, Olamide.

Each one of them released an amazing album and it was a staggering success story on all streaming platforms. The figures showed Nigerian music has arrived on the international stage.

Particularly of interest is Olamide, whose music has not really been able to cross the continent to the international stage. Well, thanks to his international connection, which has given wings to fly over the Atlantic.

For Burna Boy, his fortunes have changed since the “African Giant” exploit in 2019. Davido and Wizkid however, have never left the horizon— both at home and abroad.

Olamide’s “Carpe Diem” album, a 12-track body of work transcended everyone’s imagination. It was his 11th studio album that boasts of high profile collaborations, although mostly with his YBNL Mafia gang.

In four weeks of its release it surpassed 80 million streams across all platforms that included Apple Music, Audiomark, Spotify and others.

Olamide never had it so good. His music has been said to be limited by its local appeal, but not this time around.

The YBNL Mafia boss was wise to have joined forces with an American label and distribution company known as Empire Distribution. It appears the partnership proved to be the goose that laid the golden egg.

Burna Boy’s “Twice as Tall” album catapulted him to a new height. It is arguably the most successful Nigerian album of 2020.

In its first month it had garnered as much as 175.3 million streams across all platforms. YouTube posted 25 million; Audiomark 50.2 million; Spotify 34.5 million; Music Africa 18.4 million; Music World 31million and Boomplay 10.5 million.

The album also broke into and topped various music charts across the world, peaking at No 1, World Albums on Bilboard charts

Once again the catch here was the international partnership. It was the Afrofusion star’s fifth studio album and it was managed by experienced international brands like Spaceship Entertainment, Atlantic Records and Warner Music.

American superstar, Puff Diddy was one of the executive producers. Youssou N’Dour, Nature By Nature, Sauti Sol, Chris Martin and Stormzy were all featured in the album.

READ ALSO: Sauti Sol inks deal with UMA

Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos” was released on October 30, 2020 and it was his fourth studio album. Again, the international influence seems to have been the trump card. The album was released by Starboy Entertainment and RCA Records.

Not only did it become the first African album to debut on the Spotify Global Album chart and within the top 10 at that, it also amassed over 100 million streams across five platforms nine days after release.

It was a huge milestone for an Afropop artiste.

Davido’s “A Better Time” completely tipped the table after hitting 100 million streams in three days of its release.

In one month, “A Better Time” Davido’s fourth studio album hit 213.2 million streams across the five major music streaming sites.

The album features international powerhouses like Nicki Minaj, Nas and Young Thug.

​TETfund boss tasks stakeholders on knowledge-based economy

Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), on Saturday urged stakeholders to galvanise support towards building a knowledge-based economy for the country.

Bogoro made the call in a paper presented at the 9th Convocation Ceremony of Veritas University in Abuja.

The presentation was tagged: “Forging Partnerships in the Triple Helix Model and the Drive for the Institutionalisation of Nigeria’s Knowledge Economy.”

Bogoro said that the country’s economy should be able to translate into solving the problems of its citizens.

According to him, Nigeria in spite of its place as Africa’s leading economy with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projected to grow between 1.7 per cent and 2.0 per cent in 2021, must solve the problems of its citizens to make the GDP more meaningful.

He, however, said it was necessary for educationists especially, among other stakeholders, to engage in problem-solving research and build a knowledge-based economy to ensure global competitiveness.

“Today’s investment in Research and Development is tomorrow’s sustainable revenue for any investing nation.

” We cannot afford to waste more time for reinventing the wheels when we can leverage on innovations across the globe to fast-track development.

“The obvious reality is that nations across the world are closing boarders due to the COVID-19 pandemic with underlying economic reasons.

” We must fix Nigeria by adding value to our natural resources for global competitiveness and sustainable knowledge economy,” he said.

He said that since the country’s independence, Nigerian Universities had emphasised teaching at the expense of research.

He added that most of the researches carried out in universities was for the purpose of acquiring degrees and not solving the nation’s socio-economic problems.

Part of the problem, he said, was because there had not been an adequate commitment of funds into research and development in the country and that partly accounted for the failure of research in the country.

He added that in spite of the periodical increase in the national research fund from N5 billion to N8.5 billion in 2021, the funds were still grossly inadequate.

Bogoro said that TETfund had canvassed for the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation in the country.

According to him, when the plans are concluded and the foundation fully operational, the foundation will source over two billion dollars as seed money to be injected into research.

He urged authorities of the Veritas University to enlist their support for the establishment of the Research and Development Foundation and join hands in developing Nigeria’s knowledge-based economy.

“The foundation will sufficiently reflect the triple helix model toward attaining competitiveness in the global economy because it’s science, technology, and innovation that will make the difference in Nigeria’s economy.

“We are determined to support problem-solving research and unless we do so, the universities are irrelevant,” he said.

Also speaking, the Chancellor of the university, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, who stressed the quality education offered by the university, said some graduates of the institution were gladly offered admissions in foreign institutions.

Kaigama said that the university would continue to train students and equip them to develop self-confidence and become employers of labour, urging the graduands to remain focused and make the institution proud in their various fields of endeavor.

Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, Vice-Chancellor of the school in his address, said over the years, the institution laboured to equip the students morally and academically to prepare them for the world of work and further studies.

Ichoku noted that the university’s Faculty of Law would commence as soon as approval was given by the National Universities Commission.

He put the cost of constructing the law faculty of the university at N400 million, adding that construction work of the faculty would be concluded in June.

NAN reports that 421 students of various fields of studies graduated from the school’s previous academic session, out of which 32 made First Class.

​Poultry Association of Nigeria Commends FG-World BANK on APPEALS Project

The Poultry Association of Nigeria, Enugu State Chapter has commended the Federal Government of Nigeria and the World Bank on the implementation of the APPEALS Project, saying it would go a long way to enhance food production and job creation in the state. 

The State Chairman of the Association, Mr. Olisa Onu made this known during an interaction session at the Pre-6th Implementation Support Mission team led by the Project National Coordinator, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Jobdi. 

Mr. Onu said poultry farmers were ready to start benefitting from the project and had submitted their needs assessment to the State Project Implementation Unit for consideration. 

He added that the project will empower more farmers and create jobs, identifying the challenges facing poultry farmers in Enugu East LGA of the state to include lack of access to water, electricity, and access roads.

The National Project Coordinator in his response appreciated the efforts of the poultry farmers in identifying with the project. He said the Project team’s on-the-spot assessment is to ensure that their requests for project support meet the criteria set for assessing project funds. 

The places visited by the team include Ugwuomu Poultry Cluster Association and Upland Poultry Limited, an ultra-modern poultry processing company located in Enugu East LGA of the state.

​COVID-19: Zakzaky’s wife asks court to vacate order releasing her for treatment, claims ‘good health’

Counsels to the wife of Sheikh Ibrahim Yakubu El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), have urged the Kaduna State High Court to vacate the order it earlier made directing the Nigeria Correctional Service to release her for COVID-19 treatment.

The court, therefore, revoked the order after an oral application was made by H.G. Magashi from the chambers of Falana who told the court that Zeenah has regained her health.

According to Justice Gideon Kurada, “upon an oral application moved by H.G. Magashi, Esq. holding the brief of Femi Falana SAN, counsel for the 1 defendant and of Edwin Inegedu, Esq. of counsel for the 2nd defendant applying for an order vacating an earlier order made on 26th January 2021 for 2nd defendant to be taken to a government hospital for treatment.”

“The situation has changed as the 2nd defendant regained her good health and the unfettered access to medical facilities granted her by the correctional services centre, Kaduna. It is hereby ordered that the application is granted and the order of court made on 26 January 2021 is hereby vacated,” he said.

Recall that on 26th January, Justice Kurada, ordered Mrs Zakzaky to be released when her counsel, Femi Falana, presented a medical report and asked the court to allow her access medical treatment for COVID-19 out of detention in accordance to NCDC protocol.

​Again, Presidency alerts Nigerians on smear campaign plot against Buhari

The Presidency has alerted the nation of another orchestrated smear campaign against President Muhammadu Buhari, using some online newspapers and blogs.

Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, who raised the alert in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said the campaign was designed to further exacerbate tension in the land, by portraying the president as pandering to ethnic and other primordial tendencies.

According to him, this narrative is contrary to Buhari’s pledge to belong to all Nigerians.

The statement read in part: “The campaign, scheduled to be launched anytime soon through editorials and purported special investigative stories, is designed to further exacerbate tension in the land, by portraying the President as pandering to ethnic and other primordial tendencies, contrary to his pledge to belong to all Nigerians.

“Impeccable security findings indicate that those behind the plot have procured online blogs and newspapers, which are to launch coordinated publications, alleging subjugation and suppression of a particular religion and ethnic groups.

“A specific medium has so far contacted some opinion leaders, especially those very critical of President Buhari.

“Part of the planned publication is to make unwary readers believe that the President has continually used the powers of his office to shield and protect an ethnic group against crimes of murder, kidnappings, rape and banditry in the southern, middle belt and some northern states.

“The publication will also refer Nigerians to a 58-page document, which chronicles purported atrocities of the ethnic group in the South since 2017, all of which it claims the Presidency has turned blind eyes to.

“Again, the hatchet job will allege that the President has continued to place members of his ethnic nationality in sensitive positions, so as to confer undue advantage on them. This allegation is by no means supported with reasonable facts and figures.’’

Buhari had on Thursday while meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, restated his even-handedness on the issues of ethnicity and religion.

The president said: “The Federal Government under my leadership does not, and will not, allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies.

“It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society.”

Adesina, however, maintained that those who were bent on stoking ethnic and religious unrest in the country had remained deaf to reason, and impervious to reality.

“They are hell-bent on distorting reality, and Nigerians are urged to be wary of them. It is all about the quest for power, and filthy lucre,’’ he added.

​FG constructs 43 roads in tertiary institutions — Fashola

Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, says Federal Government has embarked on construction of 43 roads in different tertiary institutions across the country.

Fashola disclosed this during the inauguration of two kilometer road at Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina state on Thursday.

The minister who was represented by the Federal Controller, Works and Housing, Katsina State, Mr Babagoni Tahir, said that 29 of the road projects had already been completed.

He noted that the projects were interventions to ease transportation and improve infrastructure in the institutions.

” The infrastructure needs is steadily being abridged by a gradual processes of repairs, renewal and construction on major highways and that has reached the schools,” he said.

He revealed that the road projects would assist to enhance the quality of education to be impacted to the students in those institutions of higher learning.

” The feedback from students in the schools where the intervention were provided are fruitful and encouraging,” he said.

The minister said that the government would continue to provide such interventions in its tertiary institutions for the development of education sector.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Armayau Bichi, commended the ministry for choosing it among the beneficiaries of the project.

Bichi further called on the ministry to construct another 10 kilometre road at the university main campus to enhance teaching and learning.

Herdsmen/farmers clash: Ogun Assembly calls for immediate takeoff of Amotekun

Concerned by the rising spate of insecurity occasioned by cases of kidnappings, herdsmen/ farmers clash, banditry and cultism, the Ogun State House of Assembly has passed a resolution calling on the State government to step up plans towards the take-off of the Amotekun Security network, with a view to strengthening security network in the State.

The passage of the resolution followed a motion moved by the Majority Leader, Yusuf Sherif, seconded by a member representing Remo North State Constituency, Solomon Osho and unanimously supported by other lawmakers through a voice vote at a plenary presided over by Speaker Olakunle Oluomo at the Assembly Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

The resolution according to the lawmakers was aimed at calling on the State Governor to achieve a seamless and immediate take-off of the State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps-Law passed by the Assembly March 2020 and subsequently assented to by Governor Dapo Abiodun, who later appointed a commandant for the corps recently.

Earlier, members including Honourables Sola Adams, Adegoke Adeyanju, Oludaisi Elemide, Kemi Oduwole and Solomon Osho complained about the nefarious activities of some herdsmen, who often engaged in kidnapping and destruction of farmlands under the guise of open grazing for their herds of cattle, as well as the incidents of high way robbery and rival cult clashes which had resulted in avoidable loss of lives and negative effect on the economic activities of the affected areas.

Other lawmakers including Sylvester Abiodun, Ganiyu Oyedeji, Haruna Wahab and Atinuke Bello, who jointly kicked against open grazing, following the tension created in some neighbouring States as a result of clashes between residents and herdsmen, called for improved surveillance by the various security agencies in their respective constituencies to nip the situation in the bud so as to avoid inter-ethnic crises in the State.

In his response, Speaker Oluomo lauded the intervention of the State Command of the Nigeria Police Force at check mating crimes and criminality, with a renewed charge on residents to always provide timely and credible information to the security agencies towards aiding their operations and make the State an unsafe for criminals.

Condemning the unpatriotic act of some residents, who often connived with criminals through sharing of sensitive security information, Oluomo noted that the State Assembly would soon convey a stakeholders’ forum to harness inputs of concerned stakeholders towards ensuring the passage of the Animal Grazing and Cattle Ranch Establishment Law, 2020.

Enugu Govt Takes Advantage of APPEALS Project for Food Production, Job Creation

The Enugu State Government has pledged its commitment to ensure the full implementation of the APPEALS Project as part of a strategy to achieve the State Government’s 8-point Agenda of boosting food production and job creation.
The State Deputy Governor and Chairman, State Steering Committee of the APPEALS Project in the State – Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo revealed this at the opening ceremony of the ongoing Pre-6th Implementation Support Mission ahead of the Project’s Midterm Review by the World Bank in February, 2021.
Mrs Ezeilo said the APPEALS Project is designed to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and improve value addition along the State’s priority value chains of Cashew, Poultry, and Rice.

She appealed to the National Coordinating Office of the Project to assist the state to fast-track the implementation of the project as it’s lagging behind compared to other participating states in the Project.

In his presentation, the National Project Coordinator, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Jodi explained that the ongoing Pre-implementation Support Mission is to review implementation progress across all project components to ensure the project is on track to achieve its development objectives.
In his vote of thanks, the State Project Coordinator, Enugu APPEALS – Mr. Christian Nwachukwu Odigbo thanked and appreciated the support of the state government on the implementation of the project in the state.

As part of the pre-mission exercise in the state, field visits to six Cluster Associations of Poultry, Rice processing, and Cashew production have been scheduled for today, January 28, 2021.

​FG has given up on fight against corruption— Soyinka

According to Professor Wole Soyinka, the Federal Government has given up on the battle against corruption.

The Nobel Laureate said this on Wednesday on AIT’s Kakaaki, adding that the system has been so corrupted that cases are stretched out into silence by all kinds of technicalities.

He said: “There are so many people who should be in prison if this government had not run out of steam, and so the system is being manipulated.

“There are cases where the prosecution had reached the level where evidence had been given on governors who had been stealing and depositing in bits and pieces so as not to flout a certain regulation.

“I mean cases have been taken to that level and suddenly, silence.

“The EFCC, which I backed solidly ever since the days of (Nuhu) Ribadu, in all kinds of ways; we no longer can distinguish from rights and left.”

Asked whether the National Assembly, dominated by the All Progressives Congress, APC, was not putting enough pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, he said NASS has a lot of work to do in its relationship with the President.

However, Soyinka said the desire of some lawmakers for committee positions where the “goodies are shared” has made them compromised.

He added that “It is the responsibility of the constituency to remind them of these derelictions, these failures to come up to scratch as expected when they come round next for elections.”