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After six-year wait, athletes battle for glory in Abuja



After six-year wait, athletes battle for glory in Abuja

The National Stadium in Abuja will from Thursday, December 6, be a beehive of activities as all is now set for the 19th edition of the multi-sports event.

Originally meant to be a biennial multi-sports events to foster unity and help unearth new talents, the glory of the National Sports Festival (NSF) has been fading and virtually knocked to comatose since the last edition was held in Lagos six years ago.

It took the doggedness of the Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, to get the NSF back to life; but how much of a success this will be cannot be said for now.

While one would expect that Abuja 2018 will showcase new talents for the country, the build-up to the games across the different states leaves much to be desired.

From Ekiti, Kwara to Ogun and even to oil-rich Bayelsa State, it has been a story of one form of neglect by the athletes; thus giving rise to fears that the 2018 NSF may not throw up the excitement that is usually associated with the country’s local ‘Olympic Games’.

Regardless of the fears and pessimism in some quarters, Mr Dalung and Mohammed Bello, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, have both expressed readiness to host a befitting festival

The sports minister told journalists at a press parley in Abuja that significant progress has been made considering the time the federal government decided to take up the organisation of the sports fiesta.

Speaking on progress made, the minister said, “We have produced medals for the games; produced doping control information and education materials for athletes, coaches, technical and accompanying officials; distributed the festival general rules and regulations to all stakeholders,” he said.

Mr Dalung added that athletes’ welfare will be a thing of priority before, during and after the games. He said medical equipment were already in place for the sports festival.

Organisers say the sports festival will host 8,861 delegates which comprises of 7227 athletes, 710 coaches, 322 other team officials, 602 state delegates.

Ebonyi State will, however, be missing in the action as they failed to participate during the delegation registration Meeting (DMR).

Findings by PREMIUM TIMES a few hours before the opening ceremony fixed for Thursday evening show that 15 states are already on the ground with the duo of Lagos and Delta state sending the largest number of athletes.

Kweku Tandoh, chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission reiterated that Team Lagos is in the FCT to give their very best and represent the state proudly.

“We will be showcasing our ‘Made In Lagos’ talents in Abuja and by God’s grace, we are confident that we will do well,” the Lagos sports boss stated.

As hosts of the 2012 edition of the NSF, tagged Eko 2012, Lagos State finished in the third position behind Delta State and Rivers State.

Indeed the festival is an important feature on the country’s sporting calendar going by the long list of champions it has nurtured.

Some of the athletes that came through the Sports Festival in athletics include Henry Amike, Yusufu Ali, Ezinwa brothers, Innocent Egbunike, Chidi Imoh, Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Faith Idehen, Beatrice Utondu and Patience Itanyi, among others.

With over 27 events expected to be competed for in the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged “ABUJA 2018, the country awaits to see the budding stars that would rule the world from Abuja

The 2018 festival will run from December 6-16 at the Abuja National Stadium.

Number of Athletes Per State

State. Athletes

Yobe 167

Plateau. 234

Ogun. 294

Delta. 545

Akwa Ibom. 416

Lagos. 548

Anambra. 211

Borno. 60

Kano. 210

Jigawa. 53

Oyo. 199

Bauchi. 127

Rivers. 362

Kogi. 79

Cross River. 60

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Why I did not attend signing of peace accord — Atiku



Why I did not attend signing of peace accord — Atiku

Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, said on Tuesday that he did not receive any invitation to take part at the signing of a peace accord for 2019 presidential candidates.

“I can confirm” that Mr Abubakar “did not receive any formal invitation to the signing of the peace pact,” Paul Ibe, a spokesperson for the former vice-president, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The clarification comes moments after PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Abubakar was absent at the signing of the accord at the International Conference Centre. President Muhammadu Buhari arrived at the event shortly after 3:00 p.m., and he signed the agreement which was brokered by the National Peace Committee, led by Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former head of state.

Some presidential candidates were said to be present alongside Mr Buhari, but many others like Kingsley Moghalu and Oby Ezekwesili were absent, PREMIUM TIMES observed.

Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) told PREMIUM TIMES he was not invited, either.

However, Matthew Kukah, a Catholic bishop and one of the the proponents of the accord, told PREMIUM TIMES the committee “absolutely” sent invitation Mr Abubakar, who is the main challenger to Mr Buhari at the general elections coming up in February.

Abdulsalami Abubakar and Mr Kukah led presidential candidates to sign a similar accord in 2015, a measure that was widely deemed crucial to the peaceful outcome of that contentious election.

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Father strangles his 3 children to death, hangs himself in Akwa-Ibom




A 36-year-old man, Achibong Patrick, who hails from Akwa-Ibom and a father of four, has strangled all his children to death.

Patrick also hanged himself to death and set ablaze his home in Alesa, Eleme Local Government of Rivers State.

The motive behind the gruesome incident is yet unknown, but neighbours woke up on Tuesday to witness the hideous story of an entire family wipe out, save Patrick’s wife.

Confirming the ugly development to SaharaReporters, Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, said the children were aged five, six and eight, and were “strangled to death by their father, who also hanged himself and set the house on fire.

“Their corpses have been evacuated and deposited at the morgue, while investigations continue to unravel the mysteries behind the unfortunate incident,” Omoni added.


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Mozambique discovers 30,000 ghost workers on payroll




The government of Mozambique says an audit of the civil service payroll has revealed about 30,000 ghost workers. It said some were paid for jobs they hadn’t done, others were dead or fictitious.

The fraud cost an estimated $250 million

(£200m) over two years, according to the civil service minister Carmelita Namashulua.

The audit was carried out to assess the effectiveness of officials in the country, which has been ranked as the 153rd most corrupt in the 2017 Transparency International Index.

About 348,000 workers were assessed, the minister said.

The Mozambican government outlined plans earlier this year to try to control public spending.



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