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This News may not be exactly 'today', rather we keep up the interesting, more important news headlines you might have missed during your busy schedule.

Nigeria moves to stop US setting up AFRICOM base in Africa

Africa Against The Federal Government has begun moves to frustrate the plan by the United States to establish a military base in the Gulf of Guinea. The oil-rich gulf is bordered by Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe US has been desperately wooing some countries in the West Africa sub-region to allow her establish a military base to protect the strategic gulf for sometime now.

The move, according to US, is to protect the area from alleged external aggressions but with America now looking in the direction of Africa for her energy needs given the instability in the Middle-east, many analysts say the move is to protect her oil interests. Defence sources, however, told THISDAY last night in Abuja that the Federal Government was already discussing with heads of government of the African Union and leaders of the sub-regional body, the Economic Community of West African State, on how to block any move by US to establish a base in the gulf.

"Nigeria is not taking the issue lightly at all and the government is not going to allow the US establish any military base anywhere in the ECOWAS region. The interest of the US government in the Gulf of Guinea has reinforced the commitment of the government to intensify its efforts at providing the needed security in the sub-region," the source said.

It was learnt that the Federal Government was worried by the terror alert raised by the US authorities last week and saw it as a ploy to label Nigeria and countries in the sub region as unsafe in order to get the opportunity to create a military base in the region.

As a first step to checkmate that plan, the FG has vowed to frustrate the campaign by the US to establish a base in the gulf. "The government of this country is not ready for any blackmail. What they cannot get through the back doors they want to get through blackmail. We are not going to succumb to that game,” the source said. THISDAY also learnt that the Defence Headquarters has concluded plans to visit Pentagon, in Washington, to further discuss the issue with the US government. "In a few weeks from now, some top military personnel will be in the US to present papers on the plans by the African Union to establish an African Command, which will be charged with the responsibility of providing the needed security in the continent.

"We really want to let the US and other countries of the world know that we are capable of protecting the resources within our continent. Nigeria is one country that will continue to move against any plans by the US government to establish a military base in our sub-region. We cannot afford to allow them do that, otherwise we will be finished as military,” he said.

Nigerian Eaglets Win 2007 under 17 world cup, for the third time


Eaglets win U-17 Worldcup
Golden Eaglets inflict 3-0 pain on Spain
  • Ajiboye is new ‘Dodo Mayana’
  • 7-Goal Chrisantus wins Golden Boot
  • Ghana falls to Germany in 3rd Place
  • Yar'Adua, Mark, Etteh, Govs, others hail

ABUJA — IN only the fourth FIFA U-17 World Cup final to go to penalty kicks, Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets kept their cool from the spot to beat Spain 3-0 after 120 scoreless minutes, taking the coveted trophy for the third time.

The hero for the Golden Eaglets was keeper Oladele Ajiboye, who saved two Spanish spot-kicks on a glorious night for Nigerian football under the watchful eye of Coach Yemi Tella, the class of 2007 Eaglets thus wrote their names alongside those who triumphed at China 1985 and Japan 1993. The Eaglets’ feat provoked reactions from President Umaru Yar’Adua, Senate President, David Mark, governors, ministers and legislators yesterday.

President Yar’Adua said the Eaglets have strengthened his conviction that if Nigerians as a people work hard and dedicate themselves to any task they can achieve it.

The game, despite lack of goals during regulation time was certainly not short of excitement with both sides determined to go all out for victory. During the course of a breathless first half, it became clear that Spanish coach, Juan Santisteban had set his stall out with a fluid five-man mid-field in a bid to dominate possession. In the absence of star striker, Bojan, the responsibility fell to mid-fielders Fran Merida, Iago and Lukas to get forward and support Dani Aquino, ploughing a lone furrow up front for Spain.

Nigeria, for their part, took a more direct approach to unsettling the Spanish backline, with right-footed play-maker, Rabiu Ibrahim arrowing high balls out to Ademola Rafeal and Ganiyu Oseni on the flank and to powerful front-runner, Macauley Chrisantus.

Chances came and went for both sides during the hectic opening period. Nigeria went close on 29 minutes through left-sided mid-fielder, Rafeal, whose effort slid past David de Gea’s right-hand post. Spain struck back five minutes later, Sergio seeing his close-range shot cleared off the line with Ajiboye beaten.

After the break, Nigerian coach Tella withdrew Rafeal in favour of flying left-winger, Sheriff Isa, yet the first chance of the second half fell to Spain one minute in, Aquino narrowly failing to get on the end of Isma Lopez’s cross.

Nigeria continued to press forward, but the Africans struggled to create any real openings. After a couple of dangerous centres had come to naught, King Osanga took matters into his own hands on 57 minutes, drawing hearty applause from the passionate Nigerian supporters with a strike that had De Gea at full stretch. Spain, meanwhile, looked threatening on the counter, Fran Merida nearly breaking the deadlock on 69 minutes. The Arsenal starlet latched on to a lofted pass before cutting in from the left and firing in a shot which Ajiboye did well to save.

With just 10 minutes of the 90 remaining, both coaches shuffled their packs: Tella freshening up his forward line and Santisteban tinkering with his mid-field. Both sides could have settled the match in the dying moments. First, Ajiboye saved from Aquino a minute into injury time, and De Gea then denied substitute Isa 60 seconds later, before Ajiboye prevented Fran Merida grabbing the winner in the third minute of added time.

The extra-time period proved equally compelling. On the 105-minute mark, Nigerian defender, Kingsley Udoh had La Selección hearts in their mouths, his remarkable speculative effort from around 55 metres catching De Gea off his line only to come back off the cross-bar. Eight minutes later, Oseni found himself in a good position, only to blaze his effort over the top. Still the drama continued, Iago powering a fierce drive at goal on 117th that looked destined for the back of the net, only for Ajiboye to turn it away for a corner kick.

In spite of both sides’ best efforts, the 0-0 score-line refused to budge after 120 minutes of exhilarating action. Matthew Edile, Daniel Joshua and Ganiyu Oseni all made no mistake for Nigeria from the penalty spot, while Asier Illarramendi missed Spain’s first kick before Ajiboye denied both Fran Merida and Iago to spark jubilant celebrations for the victorious Golden Eaglets.

Ghana’s falls to Germany in 3rd Place

In the play-off match for third place earlier Sunday, Germany edged Ghana 2-1 with a last-minute goal by substitute Alexander Esswein. German skipper Toni Kroos opened the scoring in the 17th minute, picking up his team-leading fifth goal of the tournament. Ransford Osei scored his sixth goal of the tournament for Ghana.

Chrisantus wins Golden boot, Silver ball

Kroos was voted the Golden Ball winner as the tournament’s Most valuable Player (Best player), while Nigeria’s Macauley Chrisantus won the Golden Boot as the top marksman with seven goals. He also won the Silver Ball as the 2nd Best Most Valuable Player.

Yar’Adua hails Eaglets

In a congratulatory message to the Golden Eaglets, President Yar’Adua said the country had keenly followed the team’s progress and their victory over ‘hard fighting Spain has brought joy to us all.’

The letter reads: “I write to congratulate you and convey the immense gratitude of all Nigerians for the great honour you have brought to our dear nation by winning the FIFA Under-17 World Soccer Championship once again.

“The entire nation has followed your progress in the competition in far away South Korea with keen interest, and your unstoppable run, from the victories against France, Japan and Haiti in the first round matches, to the conquest of Colombia, Argentina, Germany, which brought much joy to us all.

“We all applaud the skills, soccer artistry and determination to excel which brought you ultimate victory over hard-fighting Spain in the finals.

“Your success strengthens me in my conviction that if, as a people, we work hard and truly dedicate ourselves to achieving national greatness, there are no limits to the heights we can attain in the comity of nations. “We look forward to receiving you in Abuja on your triumphant return to our fatherland.”

Mark, other senators praise Eaglets

President of the Senate, David Mark, on his part praised the indomitable spirit of the Nigerian Under-17 team, saying that the Golden Eaglets’ perseverance earned the nation the deserved victory.

Senator Mark was joined by his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Senators James Manager (PDP, Delta South), Bode Olajumoke (PDP, Ondo), Chris Anyanwu (PDP, Imo), Ehigie Uzamere (PDP, Edo South), Senator Joy Emodi (PDP, Anambra North) and Senator Ahmed Makarfi (PDP, Kaduna North), in lauding the victory of the Golden Eaglets in the Under-17 World Cup Soccer World Cup tourney. The Senators said the victory of the Golden Eaglets so early in the life of the Umaru Yar’Adua administration signposted greater things for the country.

Senator Mark in a congratulatory message issued on his behalf by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Paul Mumeh said: “The success of the Eaglets is one we as a people should be proud of. They have made the nation proud, and we cannot but encourage them,” he stated.

He promised that the National Assembly under his watch would enact good laws that would lead the country to greater heights in the areas of Sports and Youth Development.

In his own reaction, Senator Ekweremadu said: “President Yar’Adua is a lucky man. This is evident that things will turn around the for Nigeria. I am proud to be a Nigerian. Congratulations to Nigeria and Africa.”

Senator Manager in his own comment said: “It means that Nigerians can aspire to anything. This victory has clearly shown that there is reward for hard work, there is reward for togetherness.

Eaglets victory, a lesson in unity – Etteh

Congratulating the Eaglets, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh said “the victory is most significant as it is a lesson in unity. The boys won all their group matches and moved on to win the trophy. I could feel the unity of purpose with which these our young heroes approached every game and that is to say we as Nigerians can reach our destination if we move in one accord.

“There is no doubt that football and indeed sports generally have come to be one singular activity that unites our people, so we must not allow the opportunity provided by the victory in far away South Korea to slip by. We must love one another as the country is one indivisible entity,” she said.

Agagu lauds Eaglets

Governor Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State in his congratulatory message noted that the Eaglets have written their names in letters of gold in the annals of history as proud ambassadors of Nigeria and the African continent.

He expressed delight over the overall performance of the Nigerian lads, who did not lose any match throughout the competition, noting that such feat exhibited the inherent strength of character of Nigerians, who are capable of holding their own anywhere in the world in any spheres of life given the right atmosphere.

The sports-loving governor in a statement signed by Prince John Mafo, Youth and Sports Development Commissioner also congratulated President Umaru Yar’Adua and all Nigerians for the victory of the Golden Eaglets, which, according to Dr. Agagu became more heart-warming and historic as Nigeria in the process emerged the first country in the World to win the Cup for the third time having been champions in 1985 and 1991, before the current feat.

The governor therefore called on all Nigerians to appreciate, celebrate and reward the team, while advising the football authorities in Nigeria to keep the team together so that they can also grow to become world leaders at the senior level.

Saraki too

Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, described the Eaglets’ victory as a victory for Africa’s sports.

In a congratulatory message to President Umaru Yar’Adua, the team and the technical crew, Governor Saraki observed that the on-going revolution in the round leather game no doubt, has found its haven in Africa and indeed, Nigeria.

His words: “With the impressive performance of the Golden Eaglets, it is a clear testimony that when the Football Academy begins to turn out its students, certainly, Nigeria and indeed the continent of Africa would take over the whole world of soccer.”

While congratulating the Eaglets on their victory, the governor advised the Federal Government and the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), to keep eyes on the boys and keep them together for future continental engagements.

Minister hails The Minister of Communications, Mr. John Odey in a statement said: “The Government and people of Nigeria are happy with the excellent exploit of our football team at the just concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea.

“The outstanding performance of our lads is a huge source of encouragement that we can once again collectively restore the shining glory of our country Nigeria.

“The government has consistently and keenly followed the performance of our team all through the tournament while in South Korea and was happy about the show of enthusiasm and dedication on the part of the team. These are two vital attributes we need in our match to launch Nigeria to be one of the greatest nations in the world by the year 2020.

“The U-17 team has demonstrated that our youths are up to the task of re-building our nation and correcting the wrong image often wrongly ascribed to Nigeria. They have done Nigeria proud."

Portharcourt; Living under martial law

By Jimitota Onoyume,

Ordinary residents of the oil city of Port Harcourt express mixed feelings on the effects of the curfew, though all agree business and daily living is taking a beating

IT is now a little more than three weeks the Rivers State government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state as part of measures to dislodge miscreants and brigands unleashing terror in the state.

It would be recalled that hitherto, cultists literarily took over government in the state. They fired guns and detonated dynamite at will on major streets in the state capital. This sad development which later led to the deployment of soldiers to the streets claimed several innocent lives.

Governor Celestine Omehia after a reported consultation with appropriate security agencies imposed the curfew on the state. By 7pm when it begins all the streets are deserted. Even most residents leave their work places as early as 4pm to be able to beat the heavy traffic on Port Harcourt roads. Those who cannot make it to their houses before the 7pm deadline resort to sleeping in their offices, and then rejoin their families’ weekend.

The curfew was initially for seven days but it was later reviewed by the government so as to consolidate on the security gains so far achieved with the deployment of military troops to the streets. Initially it was extended for just another one week, but penultimate Friday, the state government announced an indefinite extension of the curfew, but relaxed it a bit by now making it 9pm to 6a.m.

Understandably, the curfew would have its impact on the lives of the citizens, especially those resident in Port Harcourt. How has it affected businesses? What effect has it had on social relations, and other economic activities? Saturday Vanguard went round to speak with residents of the state capital on the impact of the curfew on their personal lives, routines etc.

Mrs. Joy Nombare Sunday runs a store. She said the development had compelled her to reorganize her operational time.

“I open here 6pm in the evening and close at night before now. But since the curfew started I don’t meet up again in terms of gains because I close here at some minutes to 7pm. Again, we no longer have evening services in church. The whole development is impinging on my profit. Nevertheless, I like the curfew. In the past when I close at night I would have this fear that I could be robbed on my way back home. But now I just go home with some confidence. This is however not enough to say the curfew should continue.

Okechukwu Okike sells audio cassettes, video and CDs around the Mile I market. “Since the curfew started we have been suffering. We are just confused. This curfew is giving us much headache. Business is no longer moving. Because of the fear of soldiers, people begin to run home from 5pm, but this cassette business is an evening thing. People only think of it when they have closed from work and are going home. They buy it under very relaxed atmosphere. But with the curfew now everybody is racing home to beat the traffic. Nobody has time for us again.

Government should consider us. They should lift the curfew and allow the soldiers on the streets. They are equal to the task.

Eunice Ezekiel sells local gin The curfew is really affecting us badly. We don’t sell again. And schools will soon resume; that means payment of school fees is just around the corner. Government should help us by lifting the curfew. Soldiers are on the streets, they can do the job without the curfew.

John Ogbedu, a journalist In terms of security the curfew is alright. But it has killed night life in Port Harcourt. Most women are happy with the curfew because for the first time in a long time, it has given them opportunity to be with their husbands. For me, the curfew has made it possible for me to spend more time with my family. It had been all work, work in the past. My wife wished it could be extended by another six months. It would give her happiness. And if it is on that note alone, the curfew should continue for some time.

Ngozi Agha, plastics seller I like the curfew in one way but it is affecting business. For me, business is more in the evening but instead of selling you now see yourself packing your things to beat the curfew time. I will appeal to government to lift the curfew, and just leave the Army to handle the situation

Sylvester Ewuawu, trader It is clear that the action of government is for the interest of all. But on the issue of the curfew government should keep to its two weeks of curfew in the state. But if the security situation is bad they can extend it. But if the security situation is calm they should lift it. Most of us in this market do business more in the evenings; that is when people are in good mood to buy things. As they close from their offices, on their way home, they buy things. Few people buy and take to their offices in the morning.

Styven Obodoekwe, Chairman Rivers State chapter, Civil Liberties Organization The curfew has reduced the hours we put on the job. Most of the times we work in the evenings. But these days you are forced to close before 5pm so that you can beat the heavy traffic to get home before 7pm when the curfew starts. Sometimes the curfew forces you to sleep in the office.

Nworgu Success, businessman The curfew is really disorganizing things. There are places I should go to, but I can’t again once it is 7pm, and this is affecting my business. Efforts should be made to get to the root of the problem, because if you deal with an issue in this manner it may spring up again.

Kingsley Nwigbara, eatery employee The thing has reduced our customers. By the nature of our business, we have more customers at lunch and dinner time. But because of the curfew the dinner time is out of it. My work hour has also been reduced to six hours instead of the eight hours. And this is a reduction in allowances. Nevertheless, since the curfew is all for security sake, no qualms. It is the sacrifice we on our part have to make to ensure a secure Rivers State.

Malam Garuba Idris, suya seller

“Haba! The curfew is very very bad. You know suya business is something for the evening. Nigerians are very busy people, so rarely have time for leisure in the day. It is only at night or the cool of the evening you see them coming out for drinks and relaxation. But now this is no more because of the curfew. I try if I can sell anything in the daytime. But honestly, business has been very discouraging. Government should not punish daily earners like us with this curfew thing.

If I were on salary I would have not felt this bad because plus or minus, at the end of the month my employers will pay my salary. Government should be considerate.

Madam Bar, as she is called, runs a drinking spot My brother, there is no business again. The curfew has destroyed market for us. A busy city like this should not suffer this kind of problem. Government should extend the take off time to may be 10pm; it will still be better rather than this 7pm thing. My landlord has just alerted me that rent will be due November and I am just praying for business to come alive again so that I can meet some of my challenges.