Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Items filtered by date: July 2017

Barcelona are reportedly preparing to lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and have approached Juventus forward and rumoured Manchester United target Paulo Dybala to replace him.

The Argentina international has attracted interest from a host of top clubs in recent times after his fine form in Serie A, but now looks to be the favoured option for Barca as they deal with the blow of losing a key component of their world class attacking trident.

Neymar’s proposed £197million transfer to PSG looks increasingly likely to go through after failed efforts by Barcelona to persuade the Brazilian to stay, and it would require a marquee signing to fill his boots.

While there has also been speculation that Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho could be brought in, he is seen as more of an heir to Andres Iniesta in a creative midfield role.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Neymar may have played his last game for Barca (Picture: Getty)
Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Paulo Dybala is being eyed as Neymar’s replacement (Picture: Getty)

Up front, however, Marca claim Barcelona have contacted Dybala’s entourage over a potential move this summer, with the 23-year-old open to making the switch to the Nou Camp.

It remains to be seen if United are still in for the former Palermo man, though it was claimed Jose Mourinho had him on his list as a top target earlier this summer.

The Red Devils have since signed Romelu Lukaku to solve their problems up front, so may no longer have as pressing a need to pursue the signing of Dybala, giving Barca a clear path to his signature.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Dybala has impressed at Juventus and was also linked with Man Utd this summer (Picture: Getty)

 

Published in Sports

Neymar could be making his final appearance for Barcelona in Wednesday’s friendly clash with Manchester United, with reports in France claiming he has agreed a five-year contract with PSG.

The Brazilian was named in the starting XI to take on the Red Devils in Maryland on Wednesday night, and shared a hug in the tunnel with the player, Paul Pogba, whose transfer record he could soon break.

But just as Neymar was taking to the field, news broke that suggests he is on the verge of moving to PSG, with Le Parisien claiming it is no longer a case of if the 25-year-old will join the French champions, but when.

The French publication report that PSG are very confident of unveiling the superstar in the coming days, and he has already agreed terms to a five-year contract.

However, L’Equipe claim PSG have changed tact in their approach to sign Neymar, and will now try and negotiate a fee rather than simply deposit his buy-out – it has been suggested previously that long-time Barca target Marco Verratti could be included in any deal.

Even more intriguingly, Neymar’s father took to Instagram before the match against United and posted an image detailing his son’s achievements at Barca, which was perceived by many as a goodbye message.

Barcelona’s players have tried desperately to convince Neymar to snub PSG’s offer and remain at Camp Nou, but their pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Gerard Pique said: ‘I wish that Neymar stays, but [my tweet] was not an official decision. It is Neymar himself who decides and must announce.

 

‘The only thing I can say is that Neymar is mature enough to reconsider things. He is still 25 and has a unique talent.’

He added: ‘Neymar cannot be the protagonist at Barcelona, because the best will always be Lionel Messi, always.

‘I told Neymar, in France you will never be the best player in the world… unless you win the Champions League. Can you do it? I gave him this advice as a friend.’

Neymar has a release clause of £199 million, with PSG set to make him the most expensive player of all time, blowing the £89m United spent on Pogba out of the water.

Talking transfer records? Neymar embraces Paul Pogba after agreeing massive five-year deal
Neymar wants to escape Messi’s shadow and join PSG’s horde of Brazilians (Getty)

In an effort to avoid Financial Fair Play rules, it has previously been claimed that the French side would hand Neymar a sponsorship contract via Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, who are tied to PSG.

That would allow Neymar to deposit the release clause himself without impacting PSG’s accounts, though UEFA are believed to be monitoring the deal very closely having cracked down on such loopholes previously which may have prompted their decision to try and negotiate with Barca.

Neymar, who scored 13 goals and laid on 11 assists last season, is expected to earn £26.9m per season after tax, as much as Messi currently earns at Barca.



Published in Sports
Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:26

PDP govs, others meet Buhari in London

Seven state governors on Wednesday met ailing President Muhammadu Buhari in London.

The team was led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari.

Other governors on the delegation include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Umar Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

Here are the photos of the visit.

Buhari-with-gov1 Buhari-with-gov2 Buhari-with-gov3 Buhari-with-gov4

Published in Headliners

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has said that he was shocked when he saw President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Sunday.

The governor, who along with some All Progressives Congress leaders visited the President on Sunday, said his surprise was because of the rumours and conspiracy theories that had made the rounds regarding President Buhari’s health.

Since May 7 when the President flew to London for medical treatment, he hasn’t been seen in public many people claiming his health had declined.

Governor Okorocha explained during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today that in Buhari’s absence, there was a lot of confusion and speculations about his health and it took the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who visited the President on July 11, to reassure Nigerians that the President was in good spirits.

“Even then, most people didn’t believe it. But to my greatest shock, when I arrived in London with the Party Chairman and the governors of Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and the Minister of Transport, we saw a man that was full of humour as usual and we were wondering whether it is the same person that they are talking about,” he said.

“All I can say is that Mr President is in good health, he is not on life support and he will soon be back. And he is not in the hospital. I was thinking I was going to see him in the hospital, but he is not even in the hospital. He was at home relaxing and having a good time.”

The governor said considering how healthy the President looked, he was surprised he had not already returned to Nigeria.

He said, “When I made enquiries as to why he is still waiting, why he is still not back home, all I got as an answer is that he is just taking some vitamins to increase his appetite to regain his lost weight.

“But I think the man is in good spirits and I think the prayers of Nigerians have worked to a great extent and President Buhari is coming back in full force to resume his work. What Nigerians should be talking about now is what should be his next line of action.”

Asked when the President was likely to return, he said, “The Buhari I saw two days ago will be back to Nigeria as soon as possible. I don’t think that he will stay longer than necessary, unless for some other reasons. I saw a man that was quite healthy, in high spirits and very sound – except for the fact that he has lost a bit of weight.”

 
 
Published in News & Stories

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N3.38 billion Africa Development Bank (ADB) loan for cultivation of potatoes in Plateau State.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to her, the state government will also contribute N599 million counterparts funding.

Stressing that about 60,000 jobs will be created from the potatoes value chain; she said that 17 local governments in the state will benefit from the project.

A strong monitoring team, she said, will be in place to ensure the loan is judiciously used.

Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 16:48

Economic recovery can relapse, warns CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that Nigeria’s fragile growth risks falling back into recession.

Addressing reporters at the end of the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee Meeting in Abuja yesterday, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said “forecasts of key macroeconomic indicators point to a fragile economic recovery in the second quarter of the year”.

”The Committee  cautioned that this recovery could relapse in a more protracted recession if strong and bold monetary and fiscal policies are not activated immediately to sustain it,” he stressed.

To guard against this, the MPC noted that “the expected fiscal stimulus and non-oil federal receipts, as well as improvements in economy-wide non-oil exports, especially agriculture, manufacturing, services and light industries, all expected to drive the growth impetus for the rest of the year, must be pursued relentlessly.”

The Committee said it “expects that timely implementation of the 2017 Budget, improved management of foreign exchange, as well as security gains across the country, especially, in the Niger Delta and North Eastern axis, should be firmly anchored, to enhance confidence and sustainability of economic recovery”.

The MPC of the CBN also expressed concern over the increasing fiscal deficit estimated at N2.51 trillion in the first half of this year.

Emefiele lamented “the crowding out effect of high  government borrowing.”

He called for “fiscal restraint to check the growing deficit” and also disclosed that the committee had once again resolved to retain lending rates at 14%.

The Committee welcomed the government’s proposal to issue sovereign-backed promissory notes of about N3.4 trillion for the settlement of accumulated local debt and contractors arrears.

The Committee advised the  CBN “to monitor the release process of the promissory notes to avoid an excessive injection of liquidity into the system, thereby offsetting the gains so far achieved in inflation and exchange rate stability”.

On why the MPC chose to retain Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) for so long, Emefiele noted that “there is a need for a low interest rate because we know that low interest rate will make it easy for people who want to borrow money to borrow at low rates, we know it will inject liquidity into the system but we are saying that inflation at 18.8% and even today at 16.1% is still considered very high in the light of studies that have been conducted”.

He explained that “there are acceptable models for computing the inflation threshold and this models have computed inflation threshold for Nigeria at a range of between 10%-12%; what that means is that when inflation rises above 12%, no matter the action that you take to stimulate growth, it will retard growth.”

Emefiele said the authorities “need to look at how we reverse the trend in inflation and we’re happy that we have done so from 18.8%-16.1% and we are hopeful that it will continue to trend downwards and as this is achieved, we also believe that there is a need to ease rate and also bring interest rate down”.

Defending the decision to retain interest rate at 14%, Emefiele noted that “we’re truly not there yet because of the reasons I have stated but also more importantly because we believe that easing now or reducing interest rate will pull the real interest rate further into the negative territory which is a disincentive to investment”. “Those are some of the fundamental issues,” he added.

A disincentive to investment, he stressed “will hurt our stability that we have so far achieved in the forex market and there is a need for us to ensure that this does not happen”.

“That is the rationale and we would continue as much as possible to continue to provide this explanation. We understand the pain but the actions of the MPC will be reflected in whatever direction that we think is good for Nigeria.”

At the end of the meeting, members of the MPC resolved to retain the MPR at 14 per cent; retain the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 22.5 per cent; retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent; and retain the Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

The Committee is satisfied with the gradual but consistent decline in inflationary pressure in the domestic economy, noting ”its substantial base effect,continuous improvements in the naira exchange rate across all segments of the foreign exchange  market, and considerable signs of improved i nvestments  inflow”.

Emefiele said “the  Committee welcomed the move by the fiscal authorities to engage the services of asset-tracing experts to investigate the tax payment status of 150 firms and individuals in an effort to close some of the loopholes in tax collection, towards i mproving government revenue”.

However, the Committee expressed concern about the slow implementation of the 2017 Budget and called on the  authorities to ensure timely implementation, especially, of the capital portion to realise the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Regarding complaints by banks of liquidity constraints caused by the apex bank’s mop-up activities, Emefiele said he was once there (private sector banking system), adding that “their business is to complain because they’re economic agents that are interested in making profit”. “We, as regulators looking at all the data that confront us, certainly know that we must be alive to our responsibilities and do our work.”

Doing their work, he said “means we must do what we have done to continue to achieve the sliding trend in inflation and stabilise the forex market, that is what we are doing and we will continue to do so”.

On the forex trend the CBN governor the apex bank had “left that now for the market”. “The market will decide. Gone are the days when CBN will be seen to be leaning on somebody as to whatever he thinks is the direction of the market will be,” he said.

However, the CBN, Emefiele said, “remains a player and from time-to-time, given our sensitivities regarding where we think the market will be, we would intervene and that is why you are seeing the level of intervention in the last five months. The intensity of that intervention will continue”.

 

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 16:02

I’m making good progress, Buhari says

Nigeria’s president has said he is recovering from illness and that he expects to return from treatment in London once doctors give the go-ahead, his office said on Tuesday.

Muhammadu Buhari has been on indefinite medical leave in the British capital since May 7 and until Sunday had not been seen, sparking a flurry of rumours he was dying or even dead.

His office at the weekend published a photograph of the 74-year-old head of state meeting a delegation of state governors at Nigeria’s diplomatic residence in London.

Now, his office said Buhari sent a letter on Monday to his counterpart in Guinea, Alpha Conde, thanking him for his call last week for national prayers for his recovery.

“Your Excellency (Conde) will be pleased to hear that I am making good progress and as soon as doctors advise I shall return to my duties and continue serving the Nigerian people who elected me and are daily praying for my recovery,” it read.

Buhari has been dogged by speculation about his health since mid-2016, when he first went to London for treatment of what the presidency said was a persistent ear infection.

He then spent nearly two months in London in January and February and said on his return in early March that he had “never been so ill”.

The exact nature of his condition has not been disclosed and he has appeared faltering and thin.

His main opponents in the 2015 election that brought him to power claimed he had prostate cancer. Buhari denied the claim.

The health of Nigeria’s president has been a sensitive issue since the death in office of president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010 after months of treatment abroad.

Buhari and his advisors have sought to avoid the political paralysis that accompanied Yar’Adua’s absence by officially handing over powers to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

But that has also sparked manoeuvrings for power, given long-standing tensions between Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north and the Christian-dominated south.

Politicians are already jostling for position to succeed Buhari at the next election in 2019 on the assumption he will not stand for a second term.

Published in Headliners

Southwest governors on Monday lamented the splitting of the old Western Nigeria into six states by the Federal Government, saying the action not only robbed the people of their oneness, but also hampered the region’s socio – economic development.

The governors – Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Senator Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ayo Fayose Ekiti) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), spoke during the Southwest Governors’ Quarterly meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Amosun, the host Governor in his welcome speech, said instead of building bridges, state creation led to boundary disputes and security challenges among them.

The governor recalled that many landmark achievements were recorded in Yoruba land during the time of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as Premier of the Western Region.

He advised that the time has come for them to unite, promote and re – enact the achievements of the South-West in the Nigerian Federation.

Amosun said: “As a region, it is important that we promote the pre-eminence and achievements of the South-West in the Nigerian Federation. This in reference and in particular to the greatness we have achieved as a people when we were together as a regional government in Nigeria.

“We will recall those laudable feats made us the envy of other regions. Time and space will, definitely, not permit me to begin to list the giant leaps that the South-West took as a region between 1957 and 1967 particularly under the leadership of the late sage, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo.

“Permit me to list a few. We have physical infrastructure such as the Cocoa House at Ibadan, which was aptly named after the source of its funding; the Agodi Secretariat at Ibadan; and the different roads that connect our towns and cities some of which are still standing the test of time. We also have the educational infrastructure of which we are still benefitting from today.

” Indeed, many of us seated in this room are beneficiaries of the Free Education Programme of that time. It is the same Free Education Programme that culminated in the establishment of a University that was once the most beautiful campus in Sub-Sahara Africa, the then University of Ife, and now appropriately named the Obafemi Awolowo University, at Ile-Ife.

“We cannot also forget the economic infrastructure; we have the O’odua Group as the umbrella Investment House for the commercial enterprise of the region such as the Sketch Publication; the Wemabod Estates; the Lafia Hotels; the Premier Hotel at Ibadan; the Area J4 Forest Reserve and others.

“However, the creation of states from the old Western Region in 1976 which should have been an impetus for further socio-economic development had been allowed to create artificial boundaries between our people.

“And to further worsen the situation, some of our people are also making themselves available as instruments of division because of their selfish political gains. The consequence is that our people begin to see themselves as a people of one state or the other rather than as a sub-unit of the entity of the Yoruba people.

“This is not without its attendant challenges of intra and inter-state boundary disputes which have worsened security in some states and, hampered socio-economic development. Instead of building bridges, some of our people are digging trenches for protection against their own brothers and sisters.

“My dear brothers, the onerous task on our hands is to lead our people to further prosperous living. That is why the chosen agenda for this meeting ‘Economic Self-Determination for South-West Nigeria’ with special focus on ‘South-Western Nigeria Export Initiative’ is very apt.

“Instead of the bowl-in–hand practice that each of the states seeks from the Federal Allocation, the time has come for us to map out strategies to harness the natural resources of the entire region for further socio-economic development of the South-West Region as a whole and for more prosperity for our people.

For Aregbesola, the old Western Nigeria recorded greater feats when it operated as single state.

“If we look critically at the achievements we had as singular state of Western Region. We must be mindful of the fact that as singular state then, we achieved more than now when we are divided into six states.

“We must identify our strength, unify those strength and explore them for the benefit of our people. We use the development to galvanise our potentials,” Aregbesola said.

Published in Business and Economy

Barcelona forward Neymar has reportedly agreed terms with Paris Saint-Germain over a six-year contract.

According to reports, the Brazillian will earn a whopping £500,000 per week should he eventual join the Ligue 1 side.

According to Carlos Carpio of Marca, Neymar’s father recently met with PSG sporting director Antero Henrique and board member Sophie Jordan to finalise the transfer.

Carpio suggested the deal will go through when PSG “deposit the €222 million of [Neymar’s] termination clause, which it appears will be done via the personal sponsorship of Qatar.”

Published in Sports

Nollywood actor, Olurotimi Isaiah Ayinde, popularly known as Abu Olododo is dead.

According to reports, he died this morning in Abeokuta, Ogun State after a brief illness.

This is coming two days after the news of the death of veteran actor and poet, Adebayo Faleti who died in Ibadan.

His colleague and friend, Ijaduade Waheed Abolaji posted the news of his death on his Facebook page.

Published in Entertainment
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