Sunday, 21 January 2018
Items filtered by date: October 2017

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has not yet officially released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections.

Reacting to enquiries from stakeholders who have sought clarification on the issue, the Commission said in a statement that only the actual dates for the general elections were released.

INEC had in March this year, announced that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections would hold on February 16, while the Governorship and State Assembly would hold on March 2.

It had explained that it took the action to standardise the electoral process, ensure certainty in the dates for elections and also allow for proper planning by political parties and all stakeholders.

The statement restated that only the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections and the Idemili North State Constituency by-election in Anambra State have so far been released, while that of the 2019 general elections would be unveiled in due course.

Published in News & Stories

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the Ayodele Fayose government  in Ekiti  for alleged diversion of  over N680million meant for salaries  and pension of civil servants .

The amount has been traced to  a fixed account which the EFCC claims yields N6million monthly.

The discoveries informed the arrest of the state’s commissioner of finance and the accountant general by the commission.

Both officials, who were released on Wednesday, have made commitment to “assist the commission with relevant documents before they were granted administrative bail and ordered to report back in two weeks.”

According to a top source in the commission, many facts came to light in the course of investigating alleged misapplication of the bailout funds by the  Fayose administration.

One of such disclosures is  the N1.7billion contract awarded to a Lebanese Company.  The company moved part of the money to allegedly purchase properties for the governor.

The source added: “Investigators stumbled on evidence of diversion of funds meant for payment of state and local government employees in Ekiti State including pensioners.

“Specifically, over N600million was diverted on 25 January 2016. The funds comprising N200million from the Ekiti State Local Government Salary Account, N300million from the Ekiti State Pension Account and N180million from the Ekiti State FAAC Account were first credited into the Consolidated Revenue Account in Zenith Bank on 25 January 2016 and later transferred the same day into an account called 2015 MDG-CGS state project account domiciled in Zenith Bank.

“The analysis of the bank statement revealed that the money was later placed in a fixed deposit where it was yielding monthly interest of about N6million, at a time pensioners and workers in Ekiti State are owed months of unpaid entitlements.”

The source said that EFCC investigators are poring over documents to uncover the beneficiaries of the monthly interest on the fixed deposit.

Apart from the bailout funds, the EFCC had recently also uncovered  alleged diversion of over N59.6million meant for projects under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Ekiti State by one Abiodun Agbele, who is an associate of the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.

According to EFCC investigators, the MDGs’ funds were transferred from an account in the  First Bank of Nigeria(titled MDGs-CGS Local Govt)  to BYKD Consult Limited which is purportedly owned by Agbele.

Documents indicated that the funds were transferred in four tranches as follows: February 18, 2015(N18, 159, 050; N15, 319,850; N11, 218, 500; and March 30, 2015—N15, 704, 325.

Upon the receipt of the funds through his account 0059177132 in Diamond Bank, Bodija, Agbele allegedly diverted these for the payment of choice vehicles from Affordable Motors.

Agbele, who is presently on trial was said to have been used as a front to launder N1.299billion for Fayose through his company called De-Privateer.

But as the EFCC operatives were probing more clues on slush funds and payment of kickback by contractors  in the state, they uncovered alleged diversion of MDGs’ funds.

The Presidency had released N713.7billion  as Special  intervention funds to states.

The  bailout was part of a three-pronged relief package to end the workers plight in most of the 36 states.

While N413.7billion represented special intervention funds, the balance of about N250billion to N300billion was  a soft loan to states.

Also, following protest by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) to states as refunds pending reconciliation of records.

Each state was entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25% of the amounts claimed.

The second tranche of N243, 795,465,195.20 was also disbursed to states in July.

But most of the state governors were alleged to have either diverted or converted the relief funds to personal use.

 

Published in News & Stories

Former Secretary General of the Common Wealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has said that Nigeria will fare better if the on-going call to restructure the country into regions is adhered to.

Anyaoku gave this view yesterday, shortly after paying a courtesy visit to Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, Benin City. He said that Nigeria’s economy was more viable and rate of development faster when it operated a regional system of government.

He described governor Obaseki as a visionary governor and Edo State is fortunate to have him. Responding, Obaseki said that given the cost of governance at the centre, restructuring is inevitable if Nigeria must make progress as a country.

He extolled the leadership quality of Chief Anyaoku, stressing that the former top scribe of the Commonwealth stands for good governance and part of the generation that did the nation proud while in office.

“He is an international personality who stands for good governance and diplomatic skills,” Obaseki said.

Published in Politics

The Hollywood Reporter has released its annual list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television and Mo Abudu is the only African woman listed, amongst those from North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australasia. The Founder and CEO of EbonyLife TV is being recognised as an influential woman in the media industry for the second time.

The category recognises female executives from around the globe who are rewriting the rules of TV, during a time when “women have to work twice as hard for the same recognition” as men. The article describes Abudu as a woman who “has been at the forefront of media innovation on the continent and whose goal for the coming year is to successfully produce Africa’s first sci-fi TV series.” The first time she was included in this list was in 2013, immediately after the launch of EbonyLife TV.

Since those early days, EbonyLife TV has created over 4,000 hours of original, high-quality content, including landmark drama series The Governor, Sons of the Caliphate and Fifty (the series), along with the first pan-African talk show, Moments, with different versions hosted in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. EbonyLife Films made its debut in 2015 at the 59th BFI London Film Festival with Fifty, the highest-grossing Nollywood movie that year. In 2016, EbonyLife co-produced The Wedding Party, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to become the biggest movie in the history of Nigerian cinema.

Ms. Abudu does not take the recognition from the renowned entertainment magazine for granted. “It’s an honour and privilege to be acknowledged again by The Hollywood Reporter. I am proud to represent Nigeria and the thousands of women in Africa, striving to make their mark in a male-dominated industry,” she said.

The Hollywood Reporter publishes its list of Most Powerful Women in Global Television annually, with luminaries deemed by its editors to have made a significant impact on what audiences are watching worldwide and how women are represented on TV.

Published in Entertainment
Saturday, 14 October 2017 13:32

Liverpool 0, Manchester United 0

Liverpool were held to a frustrating draw despite dominating Manchester United at Anfield and have now won just once in eight games.

The Reds were on top for long periods and peppered the United goal with 19 shots, but a combination of outstanding goalkeeping by David de Gea and poor finishing denied them a decisive moment.

The most noteworthy incident of an uneventful first half was De Gea denying Joel Matip from close range with a brilliant reflex save with his outstretched left boot, before Mohamed Salah fired the rebound wide.

United offered very little quality in attack although Simon Mignolet had to smartly parry Romelu Lukaku's fierce attempt before the interval.

Liverpool dominated even more after half-time but Emre Can wasted their best chance when he volleyed over the bar from eight yards after being picked out by the impressive Joe Gomez's precise cross.

The point was enough to take United - with nine clean sheets in their past 10 league games - to the top of the table, one point ahead of Manchester City, who host Stoke City at 15:00 BST.

History repeats itself

It's almost a year to the day Liverpool and United played out a goalless and drab stalemate in the same stadium, with the hosts subdued by a vintage Jose Mourinho masterclass in defensive organisation and discipline.

Twelve months on, this game was only marginally better despite Liverpool taking the match to United after the break.

A year ago, United were grateful for two fine second-half saves from goalkeeper De Gea to dent Can and Philippe Coutinho.

This time the Spaniard produced a magnificent save with his foot to keep out Matip from close range on his way to his 18th Premier League clean sheet of 2017.

This was only Liverpool's third clean sheet in 13 games this season but Mourinho will have been the happier manager at the final whistle.

The visitors had just 38% of possession - a 3% improvement on their last visit - yet they produced a dogged defensive display to stop Liverpool from scoring for only the second time this season in the Premier League.

Published in Business and Economy
Saturday, 14 October 2017 13:16

By Gbenga Adebambo: Hire your boss!

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” —Jim Rohn

There are two things you need to ensure before starting to read this: the first is the conviction that you really want to be your own boss; the second is to be so sure that your present boss is not aware that you are reading this! Though you have been hired by your boss, but you can systematically turn this around for more financial freedom and control. You can flip the coin around and hire your boss! Yes you can, whether directly or indirectly.

I am writing this piece not just for subordinates to ‘triumph’ over their bosses but also for CEOs, Directors, proprietors and business owners to avoid the major pitfalls that can sink any man into oblivion. Every ‘fall’ is avoidable and any ‘rise’ is possible!

One of the books that molded my formative years was the one written by Thomas Hardy, The Mayor Of Casterbridge. The book illustrates the pitiable rise and fall of the Mayor of Casterbridge- Michael Henchard . The book which centers round a strong-willed and self-made man, Michael Henchard, whose rise to and fall from a high state form the core of the tragic tale of his life. Henchard’s rise to prominence in Casterbridge stems from his business acumen and unparalleled savviness. He would later seal an ominous fate for his competitors by employing a Scottish manager, Donald Farfrae, whose skills and charisma later became a source of insecurity and threat to his boss.

As the rift and friction between Farfrae and his boss grew, it became obvious that he was becoming larger than his boss. Farfrae’s diligence, business-skill and popularity among people arouse feelings of jealousy in Henchard’s mind, who, after some provocation, turns him out of the job under him. Farfrae starts his own business, and prospers much in it.

The rivalry in business between Henchard and Farfrae leads finally to the immense flourishing of the latter’s business and the ultimate ruin of Henchard’s. Henchard ultimately finds himself again at the bottom of fortune’s wheel, while Farfrae now occupies a station at the top. Things come to such a pass that Henchard is reduced to a state of bankruptcy, this will later force him to sell his palatial house to the highest bidder who turns out to be Farfrae! The ill-luck got so much on his way that he sold virtually all that he had amassed in his years of toiling and has to work as an ordinary labourer in Farfrae’s establishment! Farfrae, on the other hand becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge, a position occupied formerly by Henchard. Thus, there is a complete reversal of fortune in Henchard’s case as well as Farfrae’s.

There is an old saying which says that, “No condition is permanent, only fools do not know”. You are not destined to live the rest of your life from paycheck to paycheck. Don’t build your destiny around your pension. You can actually be your own boss by following some principles that have been fool-proofed:

BUILD YOUR OWN DREAM: In life, it is either you build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working really hard for someone who does. One of the greatest minds of our time, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India said, ”Your dream is not what you see in sleep, your dream is that thing that keeps you from sleeping”.

DESIGN YOUR OWN PRODUCT: I have come to discover over the years that the poor chase after money while the rich attract money. People that attract money will always employ those that chase after money. Until you sit down with an idea to design a product that can sell, you will continue to run after money! Don’t chase after money; attract money. Steve Jobs once said, ‘’Apple’s goal isn’t to make money. Our goal is to design and develop and bring to market good products…. We trust as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as another consequence, we’ll make some money. But we’re really clear about what our goals are.’’

HIRE PEOPLE THAT ARE SMARTER THAN YOU! : Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. One of the greatest undoing of Michael Henchard was letting go of Farfrae to hire a new manager that he could probably control. We must be willing to surround ourselves with people that are smarter and more intelligent than us.

BUILD YOUR INNER SECURITY: I have often said that bosses that are insecure are threats to their organization. An insecure boss will always short-circuit the growth and advancement of his subordinates. Michael Henchard started spiraling down in his business the moment he started feeling insecure with his manager’s success. Ultimately, people that have good self-esteem and inner security will always end up ‘employing’ their insecure boss! One of the most fascinating stories of secure bosses raising a generation of excellent subordinates was that between Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

As a young man, Ford took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company, working his way up to become chief engineer. One day while Thomas Edison was taking a stroll around, he met Henry Ford who was working on a novel idea while still working under Edison. Ford was introduced to Edison and showed Edison his plans for a gasoline automobile, Edison encouraged him to pursue those plans. The impetus Ford got from his boss’ encouragement was all that was needed for Ford to revolutionalise the automobile industry.

INVEST IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL GROWTH: Craig Handley said, “You can’t grow a business past your own personal growth”. The greatest hindrance to personal development is personal neglect. Success is about learning to become the person capable of succeeding. Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.

VALUE FEEDBACKS AND CRITICISMS: Andy Stanley said, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Surround yourself not only with people that say what you want to hear, but with people that say what you ought to hear! Criticisms and feedbacks are the lifelines of leadership. A leader that is beyond confrontation will self-destruct himself. Great people see confrontation as checks and not as effrontery.

TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WELL: Sir Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay”. You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.

PURSUE YOUR PASSION: People that chase their passion ultimately employ people that chase after money! When you follow your passion, the universe would open doors where there were only walls. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Real financial security and freedom is not in your job but in your passion.

CHANGE YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: They say if you surround yourself with nine losers you’ll soon be the tenth! Do not expect positive things in your life if you surround yourself with negative people. When a man continually struggles on a spot without hope of advancement, then his circle of friends is indicted! Jim Rohn, in his law of Averages said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Pay any price to be in the midst of extraordinary people.

VALUE FAMILY MORE THAN BUSINESS: Family is everything; you must never sacrifice family for business. Those that succeed at home will eventually employ those that struggle at home. Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business”. One of the mistakes that later hunted Henchard all his life was his sole act of selling his wife (Susan) and child (Elizabeth-Jane) while under the influence of alcohol (rum-laced furmity) at a fair. Henchard’s story illustrated that neglecting the family is a horrible sin that no amount of penance can undo even after so much repentance!

Published in Parliament

David Moyes says he did not want Marouane Fellaini to be his first Manchester United signing and tried to buy Nemanja Matic first.

Fellaini moved to Old Trafford on deadline day in 2013 at the end of a summer that had seen Moyes replace Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.

A calamitous transfer window got Moyes' reign off to a rocky start and he was sacked before the end of the season.

He told the BBC: "I never wanted Marouane Fellaini to be my first Manchester United signing, that is the last thing me and my staff wanted.

"We looked at Nemanja Matic first. He did not do well at Chelsea and had gone back to Benfica.

"He was a consideration and we did need a more defensive type who could make passes from the middle of the park. We did not get a lot of the things we hoped for and got Fellaini on deadline day."

Marouane Fellaini played under David Moyes at Everton and Manchester United.

Fellaini was the only signing Moyes managed to make in his first summer at United.

But the former Everton manager also said he tried to hijack Gareth Bale's move from Tottenham to Real Madrid and almost convinced Cesc Fabregas to leave Barcelona.

He added: "I spoke to Gareth Bale a couple of times and tried to convince him to join us, we even offered Tottenham more money but he had his heart set on joining Real Madrid.

"I spoke to Cesc Fabregas on the phone too and he was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team. He said: 'I will join you if I do not start my first game of the season at Barca' ... and he did start.

"They were the only two who looked like Manchester United players.

"If Sir Alex Ferguson took over from Sir Alex Ferguson he would have found it tough."

Published in Sports

Anthony Martial has been picked to start Manchester United's clash with Liverpool at Anfield.

Jose Mourinho has handed the France international just his second Premier League start of the season with Marcus Rashford dropping to the bench.

Phil Jones is in the team despite pulling out of the England squad with a knee injury ahead of the international break and Romelu Lukaku also starts after recovering from an ankle injury.

Mourinho is without Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba so Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera start in midfield.

Antonio Valencia is named in defence along with Jones, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian, while Ashley Young also starts for the fourth game in a row and Henrikh Mkhitaryan maintains his record of starting every Premier League game so far this season. 

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Eric Bailly is not in the squad after picking up an injury in training on Friday while Victor Lindelof is on the bench for just the second time in the Premier League since his move from Benfica in the summer.

Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho looks set to start as a left forward for Liverpool, in place of Sadio Mane, who is out for up to six weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury during the international break.

In total, Jurgen Klopp has made two changes from Liverpool's last match in the Premier League, with Roberto Firmino and Emre Can replacing Mane and Daniel Sturridge.

Full Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino.

Full Manchester United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Darmian, Herrera, Matic, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Lukaku

Published in Business and Economy
A group, known as Concerned Professionals Initiative for Good Governance (CPIGG), is asking the Nigerian Senate to "totally and overwhelmingly reject the nomination of Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the grounds that she is not qualified  to hold that office since she is lacking in experience and  integrity.
 
The CPIGG, with its headquarters in the North-Central city of Jos,  is just one of the many voices that have so far spoken against last week's appointment of Mrs. Ahmad, a former staff of Diamond Bank Plc by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the position of deputy head of the country's apex bank.
 
"As responsible and law abiding citizens of Nigeria, who are fully conscious of the powers of the Senate as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, we are writing to draw the attention of the Senate to the abnormality surrounding the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN)" and  "to appeal to  the Senate, through your good offices, to reject the nomination forthwith," it told the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in  protest letter submitted on Wednesday.
 
In the petition, titled "Wrongful Appointment of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad for the position of Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN): Appeal for intervention of the Senate,"  the group explained that as an organization committed to the promotion of good governance, equity, justice and fairness and the fight against corruption in the administration and governance of the country,  "we  are compelled to   seek the intervention of the Distinguished  Senate to reject the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad  pending before  Senate for confirmation as Deputy Governor of CBN."
 
According to the group, the petition, dated 10th October, 2017 and signed by its Convener/Chairman, Ebah A. Idikwu, Esq, was anchored on "the obvious aberration, fraud, injustice and abuse of office, which the  nomination of Mrs. Ahmad represents."
 
Outlining the "facts of the matter" for consideration by the Senate, the petitioners alleged that the nominee was not qualified for the exalted office of Deputy Governor of CBN because "less than a week before the announcement was made, the nominee was Head of Consumer Banking at Diamond Bank on the substantive rank of Deputy General Manager(DGM). The CBN Act however provides that to be appointed Deputy Governor of CBN, the candidate must have attained the rank of at least an Executive Director in a reputable financial institution. In the past, those appointed Deputy Governors were Managing Directors/ CEO of Deposit Money Banks. One example is Mr.  Tunde Lemo who until his appointment as Deputy Governor, of CBN was Managing Director of Wema Plc."
 
"Aware that Aisha Ahmad was not qualified for appointment as Deputy Governor, CBN, her sponsors hurriedly caused a highly fraudulent and unusual promotion to be made catapulting her from DGM Status to Executive Director on October 6, 2017by 5.22 PM, the same day her purported appointment was announced  by the Presidency (See attached circular marked Annex A). It means therefore, that the promotion was made after her appointment was made public, an after-thought to salvage a bad situation," the petitioner noted.
 
The petitioner further argued that the Diamond Bank Annual Report for 2016 contained the names and pictures of all Executive Directors on P. 32. "However, Mrs Aisha Ahmad’s name was conspicuously missing, which confirms that she was not an Executive Director of Diamond Bank and therefore, not qualified for the position of Deputy Governor of CBN for which she has been nominated."
 
"Our checks on the organogram of the Diamond Bank have revealed that apart from the seven superior officers of the bank, there are other seven Heads of Units and Departments placed in order of relevance and seniority out of which Mrs. Aisha Ahmad is the sixth. Therefore, it is unthinkable for Mrs Ahmad to overtake six other senior officers to be promoted to the rank of Executive Director. If the question must be asked, what special feat did she accomplish that merited her such an unusual promotion?," they added.
 
The petitioners further informed the Senate that Mrs Aisha Ahmad’s astronomical promotion at Diamond Bank was not approved by the CBN as required by law. "This evident is the circular announcing her appointment was fraudulently silent on CBN approval just as it was silence on whether the board of Diamond Bank sanctioned the applicant as required by the best corporate governance procedures."
 
"Most Importantly, the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad amounts to a gross violation of the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since Niger state where Mrs Aisha Ahmad hails from produced a Deputy Governor of the CBN in the person of Mr Maiyaki who served for 10 years. In addition, Mrs Aisha’s Mother comes from Kwara state which also produced a Deputy Governor of CBN in the person of  Mrs Sarah Alade, who also held the position for ten (10) years. Going by the Federal Character principle therefore, the other North Central states of Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and FCT should also have the opportunity to produce a Deputy Governor of CBN," the petitioner posited.
 
The petitioners contended that from the foregoing, "it is clear that Mrs. Aisha Ahmad’s appointment as Deputy Governor of CBN was fraudulently conceived and made for purposes that are clearly far from the objective of ensuring the good management of the nation’s economy."
 
They warned that as a beneficiary of the skewed process of her promotion to qualify for appointment into the CBN, there was every reason to believe that Mrs. Aisha Ahmad would be morally unsound to defend skewed or corrupt process if allowed to function as Deputy Governor of CBN, saying, "she will be dangerous to the integrity of the CBN and the highly sensitive functions carried out by the apex Bank for the good of the economy."
 
"From the facts above, there are obviously very powerful interests behind the nomination of Mrs Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of CBN. If the powerful interests could influence her abnormal promotion at Diamond Bank to pave way for her nomination as Deputy Governor of CBN, the same interests would work though her to compromise economic policies. To put it succinctly, Mrs. Aisha Ahmad will be an economic Saboteur. Nigeria can do without her," the petitioners said.
 
Insisting that  te appointment of Mrs. Ahmad was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and must not be allowed under whatever circumstance, the petitioners warned that it would be a negation of the anti-corruption stance of the Federal Government if Mrs Aisha Ahmad is allowed to manipulate her way to attain the high office of Deputy Governor of CBN, and that it would  not only set a bad precedent, it will destroy the integrity of the CBN and by extension destroy the nation’s economy.
 
 
 
 
Published in Headliners

Partial results from Liberia's presidential election show former football star George Weah has taken an early lead.

Figures from the National Elections Commission (NEC) put Mr Weah ahead in 11 out of 15 counties, although most votes have yet to be counted.

His main rival, incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai, leads in one county and is second in most others.

A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes for outright victory.

If no-one achieves that, a second round will be held in November.

The election is to choose a successor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Africa's first elected female president and a Nobel Peace laureate.

As the results came in, the manager of Arsenal Football Club, Arsene Wenger, was apparently duped by false reports that Mr Weah had won.

Arsene WengerImage copyrightGETTY Arsene Wenger coached George Weah in the 1990s when he was in charge of French club Monaco

"I would like to congratulate one of my former players, who became president of Liberia," Mr Wenger told reporters.

"It's not often you have a former player who becomes president of a country. So well done, Georgie."

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya hit out at false reports and said his officials were doing their best to get accurate official results out as quickly as possible.

"This commission has not declared any winner," he stressed.

International election observers said they had not identified any major problems with Tuesday's voting.

However, parties supporting three of the 20 candidates have alleged irregularities and said they would contest the result, Reuters reported.

Joseph Boakai at a polling station in Monrovia on October 10, 2017Image copyrightAFP
Vice-President Joseph Boakai says the Liberian people want to see more development

Ms Sirleaf, 78, who is stepping down at the end of two terms, hailed the election as a success.

"We believe that all Liberians are ready for this process. I thank them for participating in this process," she said.


Meet the frontrunners

George Weah, 51:

  • Former Fifa World Footballer of the Year
  • Arsene Wenger, now at Arsenal, was Weah's coach at Monaco in 1990s
  • Has the political backing of jailed warlord and former President Charles Taylor
  • Taylor's ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, is his running mate.

Joseph Boakai, 73:

  • Nicknamed "Sleepy Joe"
  • Denies it is because he is often caught napping at public events, says it is because he is a dreamer
  • Vice-President under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf since 2005
  • Has distanced himself from her record, saying "a lot more needs to be achieved".

Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

Ms Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out of office by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.

Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Mr Weah, 51, has chosen Taylor's ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate.

Published in Business and Economy
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