​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.

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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.