Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Nigeria to play Brazil in football friendly

Brazil have confirmed they will face Senegal on 10 October and Nigeria three days later at the National Stadium in Singapore.

It will be first ever meeting between Brazil and Senegal, who lost the Africa Cup of Nations final to Algeria and are the continent's top-ranked African side.

Nigeria, who won Bronze in Egypt, will be meeting Brazil for the second time at senior level following a 3-0 defeat in a friendly in June 2003 in Abuja.

"We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level opponents," Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista said on the website.

"It was a wish of the technical commission. So we went after these opponents."

The friendlies are in line with Brazil's wishes to play top 50 ranked teams whenever possible.

Brazil's only other Africa opponent under coach Tite was a 1-0 win over Cameroon in November last year, in a match played in England.

It will be Brazil's second game in Singapore following a Neymar-inspired victory over Japan in October 2014.

BBC

South Africa apoligizes to Nigeria for xenophobic attacks

A South African envoy to President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised "profusely" to the Nigerian government after a spate of deadly xenophobic attacks that rocked Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Jeff Radebe was in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to attend a meeting on Monday to convey "sincerest apologies about the incident that has recently transpired in South Africa".

"The incident does not represent what we stand for," Radebe said, adding South African police would "leave no stone unturned, that those involved must be brought to book".

The Nigerian government said in a statement following the meeting: "President [Muhammadu] Buhari responded to profuse apologies from the South African president, pledging that relationship between the two countries will be solidified."

Foreign workers in South Africa - the continent's second-largest economy after Nigeria - are often victims of anti-immigrant sentiment in a nation where almost one-third of people are unemployed.

At least 12 people were killed in recent weeks after 1,000 foreign-owned business were targeted.

The violence prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closure of South Africa's diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.

The violence sparked an international outcry and calls for a boycott of South Africa.

Following the violence, Nigeria announced it would repatriate more than 600 nationals to protect them from future violence.

Besides the hundreds of Nigerians returning to their home country, more than 700 people from other countries, including Malawi and Zimbabwe, sought refuge in South African community centres.

Many left their homes with little more than a few bags when the attacks began.

In 2008, at least 62 people, including South Africans, were killed in violence and looting targeting foreign-owned stores.

Al Jazeera

Monday, September 16, 2019

Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie wins the Kassel Citizens' " Prism of Reason" Award

Prolific Nigerian-born writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been honoured with the Kassel Citizens' " Prism of Reason" Award for "her vision of humanistic diversity".

At the award ceremony which held in Germany on Sunday, coincides with the 42nd Birth Anniversary of the multiple award winning writer.

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According to a statement issued by the organisers of the event, the prize is awarded to 'persons or institutions whose work serves the ideals of the Enlightenment by overcoming ideological barriers and promoting reason and tolerance towards dissenters'.

"The Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees of the Society of Friends and Sponsors of the Kassel Citizens' Prize have selected Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the 2019 winner of the "Prism of Reason". This makes her the first Nigerian to receive this remarkable prize.

The award ceremony which takes place at the State Theater of Kassel in Germany is also in recognition of Adichie's undeniable literary prowess, but also for her equality and justice advocacy.

The "Prism of Reason" award was founded in 1990 by citizens of the city of Kassel and the region. So far, the prize has been awarded 28 times. The 2019 award is the 29th in the series.

The first prize-winner (in 1991) was the then German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; he was honoured for his services to the opening of the Iron Curtain.

Other awardees include Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei; Indian scientist and documenta 13 participant, Vandana Shiva; Somali-born Dutch-American activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Israeli diplomat, peace activist and publicist Avi Primor; and Peruvian farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya.

A statement made by the Kassel Board president Bernd Leifeld said "Combative but not fanatical, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie... points out ways to overcome outdated patterns which are deeply anchored in education and society.

"Kassel citizens honour her with their Prize 'The Prism of Reason 2019' because she believes in the social, political and economic equality of all people," he said.

The prize consists of a certificate, a sculpture designed by the Kassel art professor and documenta artist Karl Oskar Blase with a prism (symbolising the analytical glass of the Enlightenment).

In a related development, its been a good weekend for Adichie as she celebrates her 42nd birthday.

First was the announcement on Friday that HBO Max, a division of WarnerMedia Entertainment, is creating a straight-to-series order for the television adaptation of Adichie's most recent novel 'Americanah'.

The 10-episode series will star Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o, with the pilot being written by screenwriter and actor Danai Gurira (who starred in the movie "Black Panther")- and will be co-produced by Lupita Nyong'o and Brad Pitt's production company Plan B.

Adichie has also been trending non-stop on social media since Friday when a Twitter group of fans of the writer @Chimamanda_Army went viral to announce a competition to celebrate her birthday.

The competition tagged #10ThingsAboutChimamanda, encourages participants to list 10 things about Adichie to stand the chance of winning fan-donated prizes.

The prizes include: 10 collections of Chimamanda's books, 10 pairs of movie tickets to watch a film of their choice at any Filmhouse cinema location; and 10 Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8 Tablets.

According to the fans, the competition kicked off fully at 12am midnight Nigerian time/GMT (the start of her birthday, Sunday September 15th) and will run until 5pm Nigerian time/GMT of the same day.

Vanguard

Tammy Abraham say 'never say never' on playing for Nigeria

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has refused to rule out the possibility of playing for Nigeria despite earning two international caps for England.

Abraham, 21, has represented England at two Under-21 European Championships and featured in two friendlies for the senior squad against Germany and Brazil.

The Chelsea man is eligible to play for Nigeria through his paternal lineage and said he is not ruling out a switch at international level.

"I have not really been focused on that yet," he said. "I think when the time comes, the times comes. We never know.

"You can never say never, whatever comes first really. I just have to keep my full focus on Chelsea."

Abraham faces competition from Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho for a regular spot in Gareth Southgate's team.

Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick said: "I told Tammy that he had a better chance of playing regularly for Nigeria than with England, which has a galaxy of strikers."

The striker has enjoyed a great start to the new campaign, scoring seven goals in the Premier League including a hat trick against Wolves on Saturday.

ESPN

Nigerian military forces retreat to super camps as Islamic State storm northeast Nigeria

Nigerian soldiers had left the town earlier that month under a new strategy of withdrawing to “super camps” that can be more easily defended against insurgents the army has been struggling to contain for a decade.

Unchallenged, the Islamist militants torched a clinic in Magumeri, ransacked government buildings and looted shops before returning to another town they had raided that night called Gubio, residents said.

The new military strategy announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in July to concentrate soldiers in big bases is designed to give troops a secure platform from which they can respond quickly to threats in the region and raid militant camps.

People familiar with the military’s thinking and security officials, however, say the new tactic for fighting Islamic State’s West Africa branch and Boko Haram is mainly an attempt to stem casualties.

The military did not respond to requests for more details about its strategy or the impact it will have on the region.

“We strongly believe the days of BH (Boko Haram) moving freely and passing in between static defensive locations are over,” Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, who commands the anti-insurgency operation, told reporters last month.

Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009 to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic caliphate. The group, whose unofficial name means “Western education is forbidden”, held territory the size of Belgium in 2014 but a multinational offensive recaptured much of it the following year.

The group split in 2016 and the faction that has been the greater threat ever since won the recognition of Islamic State.

The decade of war has killed more than 30,000 civilians and spawned what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, which foreign nations are trying to contain with billions of dollars of aid.

But the crisis shows no sign of abating.

‘IT’S A MESS’

The army’s withdrawal into large bases has coincided with a string of insurgent raids on newly unprotected towns and has left the militants free to set up checkpoints on roads as they roam more freely across the countryside, according to three briefing notes from an international aid and development organization, two security officials and residents.

That has left thousands of civilians without access to aid, according to the briefing notes seen by Reuters.

Soldiers are no longer protecting some key roads, cutting off access for humanitarians workers as more of the region falls under the sway of the insurgents, aid and security sources said.

“It’s a mess, militarily, and a disaster for humanitarian actors,” one foreign security official said.

The population of towns being abandoned by the military is a combined 223,000 people, according to one of the aid agency briefing notes.

The military departures so far have cut off more than 100,000 people from aid and if more soldiers go, as many as 121,000 other civilians could flee their towns, one aid agency briefing note said.

“The impact will be one of continued skirmishes - soldiers under constant strain to deal with the insurgency where Islamic State and Boko Haram dictate the momentum,” said Jasmine Opperman, a terrorism expert based in South Africa.

It’s not yet clear how many “super camps” the army plans to set up, where they will be nor how many soldiers each will hold.

‘HERE TO PROTECT YOU’

The new strategy follows a series of setbacks for the army which has failed to keep a tight grip on territory it has clawed back since 2015. Last year, insurgents repeatedly overran smaller bases and sent soldiers and tens of thousands of people fleeing from larger towns.

Security experts put the military death toll since June 2018 at anywhere from hundreds of soldiers to in excess of 1,000.

The military has not released casualty figures but denies that many soldiers have been killed.

One security adviser at an international aid organization said a major goal of the new large bases was damage control, rather than going on the offensive.

“It is to consolidate all of the strength in one place to prevent them being overrun every week,” the adviser said.

He said the areas vacated were being filled by insurgents and that would make it harder for the military to re-enter, leaving civilians vulnerable.

Those concerns were echoed by the governor of Borno - the birthplace of Boko Haram and the state worst hit by the insurgency. Governor Babagana Umara Zulum told reporters last month that recent attacks were the result of a “serious vacuum” following the withdrawal of soldiers.

Islamic State is also using its newfound freedom to woo locals. Drained by the decade-long conflict, some are open to moving into areas controlled by the insurgents where life can be more stable, residents said.

Before hitting Magumeri last month, the militants had passed through the town of Gubio, some 40 km (25 miles) to the north.

There, an Islamic State fighter led evening prayers followed by a sermon, according to six residents.

“We are here to protect you, not to harm any one of you,” the IS fighter told residents. “Those with uniforms are your enemies, and we are here to deal with them and their supporters. You should feel free.”

Rather than flee to a government-controlled city such as Borno state’s capital Maiduguri, many Gubio residents stayed.

Reuters