Despite Trump push, health care vote going to the wire

An examination table is seen at the Clay-Battelle Community Health Center March 21, 2017 in Blacksville, West Virginia. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives votes Thursday on a key plank of Trump's legislative agenda — his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, his predecessor's crowning domestic policy achievement. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski

Donald Trump faces a reckoning Thursday as US lawmakers vote on his presidency's biggest legislative test, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, as conservatives vowed to kill it unless important last-minute changes are made.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives votes on the controversial measure despite challenges over whether Trump and ally House Speaker Paul Ryan have enough backing to get the measure over the finish line.

With Democrats opposed to Trump's effort to rip out his predecessor's crowning domestic policy achievement, and his own party's right flank in revolt, Trump brought in wavering lawmakers Wednesday to try to tip the scales in his favor.

"Big day for healthcare. Working hard!" Trump tweeted.

Insiders say Trump's meetings have been focused less on specifics than on the politics of "Trumpcare" failing — an outcome that would be a humiliating defeat for the billionaire leader at the start of his term.

But some lawmakers have emerged defiant, including Mark Meadows, chairman of the grassroots conservative Freedom Caucus.

"We need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on it in the House," Meadows told reporters.

"There's not enough votes to pass it tomorrow."

Speaking on Fox News later Wednesday Meadows said that "to say that we've got a deal — that wouldn't be accurate," but did say that he and Trump had come to "an agreement in principle."

"There's still work to be done but I can tell you that the president is engaged."

For years, Republicans have promised to overturn Obama's reform, describing it as government overreach. But some lawmakers have balked at their own party's plan, saying it is still too costly for the government.

Others worry that their constituents will no longer be able to afford health insurance. A nonpartisan congressional budget estimate says 14 million Americans would lose their coverage from next year under the Republican plan.

"We'll see what happens," Trump said Wednesday during a meeting on health care and women.

– Close vote expected –
The House vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) looks tight.

The Democratic minority is prepared to vote against it as a bloc, so Republican leaders need to limit defections to about 22 out of their party's 237 representatives — depending on how many members end up casting a vote.

Those who are the most unhappy with "Trumpcare" are members of the Freedom Caucus — heirs apparent to the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement.

They call the new bill — championed by Ryan — "Obamacare Light," as it will only reduce, not eliminate, health coverage subsidies by replacing them with refundable tax credits.

Party leaders made tweaks to the bill late Monday, which they hope will allay concerns enough for the bill to squeak by in Thursday's vote.

The White House was all in.

"There is no plan B," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday.

– Credibility at issue –
As the vote neared, the arm-twisting on Capitol Hill and at the White House continued. Ryan could decide to postpone the vote if it becomes clear the measure will fail.

Several conservatives want to see the bill lift burdensome regulations on insurance companies — including requirements for preventive care — that they blame for the rise in insurance premiums.

As Meadows stood firm, Ryan countered: "We're not losing votes, we're adding votes, and we feel like we're getting really, really close," the speaker said.

On Tuesday, House Republican and Trump loyalist Chris Collins said some of the 20 to 30 lawmakers still in the "no" camp could vote "yes" at the last minute to spare the party a major setback.

New York Republicans like Collins have won a concession on taxes for their constituents, and have since shifted to "yes."

Trump has put his own credibility and deal-making skills on the line for the measure.

On Tuesday he took his case directly to Capitol Hill, where he warned that congressional Republicans risk a major defeat at the 2018 mid-term polls if they do not deliver for him.

Trump also singled out specific lawmakers who oppose him — including one-time supporter Meadows — suggesting he could make their lives difficult if they defy him.

Conservative House Republican Thomas Massie was unmoved.

"We're afraid he's a one-term president if this passes," Massie warned on CNN. "We're trying to save him."

After defeats in the federal courts for both of his executive orders on immigration, the president needs to show he can get results on the Hill.

So far, he has only succeeded in rolling back some Obama-era regulations and signed into law a bill on NASA funding.

Should the House pass the bill Thursday, the Senate is expected to take up the measure next week.

Trump will need all of his negotiating talent once again, as opposition there is likely to be equally stiff.

Original Article

Ondo cleric sentenced to 3 years jail term for defiling boys

By Dayo Johnson

Akure—AN Akure chief magistrate court has sentenced a 32-year-old pastor, Sunday Waleola, to three years imprisonment without an option of fine for defiling male children in his neighbourhood.


Sunday Waleola

The prosecutor alleged that Waleola, whose church is located in Oke-Ara in Akure metropolis, has “the penchant of seducing male students and sucking their manhood until they discharged semen in his mouth.”

According to his confessional statement tendered before the court, the prophet said he had defiled more than four male students before he was apprehended by men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.

Waleola said that he normally goes to public schools during break time, approach the male students and seduce them into putting their manhood into his mouth.

He said that he allowed his victim to go once he discharges into his mouth, adding that he derives pleasure in the act.

Blaming the act on devil, he told his interrogators that he does not know what comes over him while he sucks the male victims, adding that he would come to his senses after completing the act.

When the one-count charge preferred against him by the NSCDC Prosecutor, David Ebriku, was read out to him, he pleaded guilty and asked the court to forgive him, saying he would desist from the act henceforth.

However, his plea fell on deaf ears, as Magistrate V. W. Bobmanuel, sentenced him to three years imprisonment without an option of fine.

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Original Article

Oyo’s economic hub: Ajimobi’s unrelenting initiatives

THAT the country’s economy is currently experiencing a downturn, a situation largely precipitated by a reversal of oil fortunes, is no longer news. No thanks to decades of over-reliance on a monolithic economy and the utter relegation of agriculture, once the country’s cash cow.

Since this reality jolted everybody into retrospection, the federal and state governments have gone back to the drawing board to explore other means of revenue generation aimed at rejigging the floundering economy.

Quite unsurprisingly, agriculture, the stone spurned by the country’s builders has now become the capstone of the building, nay the beautiful bride. At the end of a two-day national economic council retreat held in March, last year, it was agreed that each state should make specific commitments to crops in which it has comparative advantage and request Federal Government’s intervention.

As a firm believer in the ability of the country to scale the pervading economic precipice, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, had since the inception of his jinx-breaking second term taken several remedial steps to regenerate the state’s economy. Such pragmatic steps include the repositioning of the state’s Board of Internal Revenue Service to halt the hemorrhage and loopholes within the system. The move was also intended to expand the state’s tax remittance base by capturing companies currently evading this statutory obligation.

The governor also strengthened the Bureau of Investment Promotion and Public Private Partnership to make business easier for prospective investors coming to the state, apart from mulling over granting of tax holiday to core investors. Other incentives being dangled at investors are easy acquisition of land and procurement of Certificate of Occupancy in record time. The end result of these efforts will begin to manifest in the foreseeable future. And this will add fillip to the governor’s determination to grow the state’s internally generated revenue from the current N1.6bn to about N5bn in the next three years.

In the furtherance of his multi-pronged approach to buoying the earnings of the state, the governor had embarked on foreign trips, not only to woo investors, but to understudy models that have helped other countries to get out of the mire.

For starters, Oyo state is blessed with a vast landmass measuring 27,249 square kilometres and a population of about 10 million people, among which is a working population of 4.3m. The state is also proud to be a reservoir of skilled and unskilled labour ready to feed existing and potential industries. The large concentration of agriculture research institutes in Oyo is also a blessing capable of providing the needed intellectual support for the projects, including the renowned International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Oyo State. The climate in the state favours the sustainable cultivation of crops like maize, yam, cassava, millet, rice, plantains, cocoa, palm produce, cashew, soya beans, leafy vegetables, poultry and aquaculture among others, in commercial quantities. In fact, Oyo is the largest producer of cassava in the country, while the state is located in a strategic business hub that serves as a gateway to the Northern and Southern parts of the country.

It is therefore, not fortuitous that the governor had made the exploitation of the agriculture value chain the fulcrum of his second term economic blueprint. Ajimobi is taking the bull by the horns to liberate the state from economic stagnation triggered by the dwindling revenue allocation from the Federation Account.

Last year’s two-day NEC retreat in Abuja had coincided with the inauguration of a major agriculture initiative by the governor, tagged Agric Oyo, which suggests that the governor had long before the Federal government’s initiative envisioned the agriculture rebirth. The initiative is targeted at creating one million direct jobs across the agriculture value chain.

Before the launching, the governor had met separately with large gatherings of key stakeholders at different fora, including traditional rulers who are believed to be custodians of lands, agric experts and investors to harvest their input, ideas and suggestions.

The launching, which was strategically held at Paago, an agrarian community in Oke Ogun area of the state, attracted investors, outgrowers, beneficiaries, institutional partners, outtakers, traditional rulers, and top officials of the state. At the event, the governor said that the project would reduce overdependence on oil, create wealth, alleviate poverty, encourage productivity, create jobs and bring about the overall socio-economic upliftment of Oyo State. He told the gathering that farming was very profitable and vowed to do everything possible to make it attractive in Oyo State to diversify the state’s economy.

In his avowed commitment to bequeath a lasting legacy in the state and leave it more prosperous than he met it, Ajimobi has not taken his foot off the pedal as he continues to crisscross the globe in search of genuine investors that share his vision for the state.

It is expected that as soon as these efforts begin to crystalise, the state’s economy will be revitalised and the citizens will be better for it. But then, as the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day, indicating that patience and support of the citizens are key factors to the successful implementation of the administration’s grand industrialisation designs for the State.

Mr. Akin Oyedele, is SSA (Media) to Oyo State governor.

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Original Article

MMM: As the bubble bursts

WE are today taking a short excursion into Criminology. Confidence Game (con-game for short) depicts a crime situation where the person who should have reported the crime is part of it. For example, if you were to patronise a prostitute in a jurisdiction where prostitution was outlawed; and in the course of an argument, she stabbed you with a kitchen knife; you were on your own for, if you reported to the police, you would first have to explain what you were doing in a whore house. That is the exact nature of many aspects of life, particularly gambling.

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, has just reported that three million Nigerians lost N18 billion to MMM, an acronym for Mavrodi Mondial Movement/Moneybox. It was founded in 1989 by a Russian, Sergey Mavrodi with his two brothers – Vyachestav Mavrodi and Olga Malnikovian.

The scheme, which operates in Nigeria; and some other African, Asian and South American countries, provides financial assistance of up to 30% of invested sum to its members. The entry on its website indicates that it does this through a shared “community of people providing each other financial help on the principles of gratuitousness, reciprocity and benevolence”. The promoters provide a “technical platform, which helps millions of participants worldwide to connect those who need help with those who are ready to provide help for free”.

For too long, Nigeria has been home to these quick-fix business ventures. Barely three decades ago, there was the NOSPETCO Oil and Gas Company, which turned out to be a “wonder bank” that offered interest rates of over 100% on investment at a time when regular commercial banks were offering less than 6% interest rates to their customers.

In 1991, another “wonder bank” called Resource Managers Nigeria Limited, which offered 60% interest, compounded monthly, on deposits, was exposed as a fraud. The founder, Umanah E. Umanah, was arrested and found guilty by a Military Tribunal – for operating a bank without license.

After the Umanah saga, there was seemingly an outbreak of phony financial houses, including Planwell Watershed, Arise and Shine Trust Company, Forum Business Finance, etc, that offered mouth-watering interest rates on deposits. They were exposed as rip-offs after Nigerians had been fleeced of their hard-earned money.

In essence, what will kill a dog does not smell to it. Given our past experience, one would expect that by now, the ponzi schemes should not thrive anywhere in Nigeria.

All the same, it must be acknowledged that MMM’s approach was different and most alluring. It came with a promise to rearrange the disproportionate distribution of wealth in society. To the sponsors, a situation where a vast majority of the people was down-trodden while a microscopic minority wallowed in opulence was unacceptable and must be eradicated.

With such a catchment phrase, the MMM made a big debut in Nigeria in January 2016, with beneficiaries from different parts of the country proclaiming its goodness. The good news spread across the nation like wild fire in the harmattan. To most participants, the scheme was extremely profitable while it lasted. People sold their landed property and vehicles to invest in the venture. That was how in less than one year, the scheme could boast of well over three million members.

Going by the lessons of history, the question was not whether the pyramid would collapse but when. Government was concerned about what would be the fate of participants in the event of a collapse. At a point, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, issued stern warnings to Nigerians about the dire consequences that awaited investors in the end.

On their part, Nigerians literally asked government to shut up and cover its face in shame because, after all, MMM was stepping in where government had failed to provide gainful employment and basic means of livelihood to its citizens. There was a choice between life and death; and they had to grab the life that MMM presented.

The “Catch 55” situation was that MMM was not registered in Nigeria. It operated online and it was difficult for government to have a hold on it.

Why would people be plunging into a business that they knew was highly risky? For one thing, compulsive gambling is greed-driven. For another, in a depressed economy, the consideration would be that whether they took the plunge or not, hard times were already here. So why not take the plunge and possibly make some money that could change their situation?

Again, it was difficult not to be involved. We sympathise with that husband who might initially not want to be involved. In these hard times, how does he explain to his wife that he cannot afford a pot of soup when his friend who was similarly situated with him a few months ago now drives a Prado Jeep from the proceeds of his investment in the pronzi scheme?

Government is in the good business of protecting the weak from the strong, hence we join in sympathising with the ultimate losers. There is perhaps no better time than now to warn of the dangers inherent in compulsive gambling.

Naturally, people are wont to see the debit side, hence they jump to such conclusion as “Nigerians have lost N18 billion to MMM” whereas, as much as one cannot be seen to be openly encouraging gambling, the truth remains that somewhere along the line, some invisible hands – particularly the early investors – might have quietly gained double the loss from the scheme. And, it is unusual for anyone to appeal on a case he has won.

Apparently, Nigeria has lost the moral courage to deal decisively with the ponzi schemes when government itself is essentially a ponzi scheme – the more it promises, the less it delivers!

We are under no illusion that we have seen the last of these ponzi schemes. We hear some are already springing up. Government must earnestly begin the process of re-inventing itself. Meanwhile, our caveat is simple: let the investor beware!

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Original Article

Southgate sees positives despite England defeat

Gareth Southgate was able to take heart from a positive display despite his first defeat as England manager, 1-0 to Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday.


Gareth Southgate

Southgate, 46, had been undefeated in four games as interim manager following Sam Allardyce’s abrupt departure last year.

“I take a lot of encouragement from that despite the result,” said Southgate.

“It’s never nice to lose, but I have to be pleased with the way the players played and how our tactical system worked.”

Southgate hailed Lukas Podolski’s second-half thunderbolt goal on his final appearance for Germany, but noted that England outplayed the world champions for long spells.

“It was an incredible strike, but from (goalkeeper) Joe Hart’s point of view it was pretty unstoppable,” admitted Southgate.

Gary Cahill captained England as part of back-three alongside Michael Keane, who was making his debut, and Chris Smalling.

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond also won their first England caps.

Adam Lallana hit the post and Dele Alli saw a shot blocked at point-blank range as England ruled the first half in a creative, threatening and energetic display.

“I thought we were the better side up until their winning goal, that was a good learning experience for our young players who made their debuts,” said Southgate.

“All that was missing was the finish to get the winning goal which I felt we deserved.”

Southgate saw plenty of plus points to take forward into Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.

“We walked through the three-man defence a few times and only had limited chances to prepare it,” said Southgate.

“Michael Keane had an excellent debut and the system is perfect for Lallana and Dele Alli.

“I have seen Germany pin teams back with the system we have played in the past, I didn’t want us to be on the back foot and we created the good chances we had.

“It’s a great option for us to have. We have to play specific systems for specific games, but we need to be flexible. I decided on the system six weeks ago after watching Germany.

“I was delighted with the way the team implemented it, but we won’t necessarily do that for every game. It’s very exciting for what we can do moving forward.”

One negative note for England was the crude anti-German World War II song sung by travelling fans in the first-half.

“I didn’t hear what was sung, but it was mentioned to me, we would encourage the fans to support the team in the right way,” said Southgate.

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Original Article

Ikeme injured, Rohr names Okeowo as replacement

Abuja – Super Eagles’ goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, has been ruled out of Thursday’s friendly against Senegal in London following an injury.


Carl Ikeme

The Wolverhampton Wanderers of England goalkeeper was missing in the team’s final training session due to a knock.

With Ikeme out injured, the Super Eagles’ gaffer, Gernot Rohr, drafted in relatively unknown goalkeeper, Tope Okeowo of Peckham All Stars, as a replacement.

It is very likely that Okeowo will man the goal for Nigeria as the other invited goalkeepers, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, were still being expected as at Wednesday night.

NAN also reports that Okeowo, a former Golden Eaglets goalkeeper, is Peckham Town’s first choice.

Okeowo had been at Peckham Town for many years, helping his team get promotion from Division Two to Division One in their first season in the Kent County League.

He produced some outstanding performances in 2015/2016 season which saw him help his team win promotion into the Premier Division of the Kent County League.

Nigeria will take on Senegal at the Hive Stadium, Barnet FC’s ground on Thursday from 8 p.m. before wrapping up their schedule against Burkina Faso next week Monday to round up their two-game international friendly. (NAN)

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Original Article

Rivers United Coach, Eguma: Poor Officiating  Cost US Against MFM

Eguma

By James Agberebi:

Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma, has attributed his team's 2-1 defeat to MFM in a rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League clash at Agege on Wednesday to poor officiating, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.‎

Two first half goals from spot kicks by Stephen Odey secured the win for MFM and also lifted them to the first position in the league table.

The two goals from Odey extended his lead in the NPFL top scorers' chart with 12 goals.

Reacting to the loss, Eguma called on the organisers of the NPFL to look into the issue of officiating in order to get the best from the Nigerian league.

"Only the referee knows why she gave the penalties," Eguma told Completesportsnigeria.com. ‎

"But I think we should be allowed to express ourselves anywhere in the country so that we can get the best team in the league," Eguma advised.

Despite the loss, Eguma praised his players for their impressive performance.

"We may have lost but my players didn't play badly. We have to work harder in the subsequent games."

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Original Article

British lawmakers to return to Westminster after attack

Union flags fly at half mast from Portcullis house and the Houses of Parliament on March 23, 2017 in London as police maintain a security cordon. Seven people have been arrested including in London and Birmingham over Wednesday's terror attack at the British parliament, the police said on today, revising down the number of victims to three people. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS

British MPs were preparing to return to parliament on Thursday after a lightning attack attributed by police to "Islamist-related terrorism", which saw four people killed and 40 wounded.

The attack unfolded on Wednesday across Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben, a towering landmark that draws tourists by the millions and stands over Britain's Houses of Parliament — the very image of London.

The attacker's car struck pedestrians on the bridge before crashing into the railings surrounding the heavily guarded Houses of Parliament, sowing first shock then panic in the seat of British power.

The assailant then ran through the gates brandishing a knife and stabbed a 48-year-old policeman to death before being shot dead by another officer.

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as "sick and depraved" in a defiant address in which she affirmed parliament would meet as normal on Thursday.

Standing outside her Downing Street residence after an emergency cabinet meeting, May said Britain's alert level would be kept unchanged.

"We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," said May, who was dressed in black.

The prime minister was in parliament at the time of the attack and was seen being ushered away in a silver car as what sounded like gunfire rang out, British media reported.

– 'Islamist-related terrorism' –
Britain's top counter-terrorism officer Mark Rowley said the four victims included a policeman guarding parliament and three members of the public.

"Islamist-related terrorism is our assumption," Rowley told journalists.

He said investigators believe they know the identity of the assailant and police would be examining the scene of the attack through the night.

Queen Elizabeth II postponed her appearance on Thursday to open the new headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police, where the force's flag was flown at half-mast following the incident.

The attack came a year to the day after Islamic State jihadists killed 32 people in twin bomb attacks in Brussels and after a series of deadly assaults in Europe that had hitherto spared Britain.

Parliament was locked down for several hours and hundreds of lawmakers and visitors were later evacuated to nearby Westminster Abbey and the Metropolitan Police headquarters.

An air ambulance flew in and police cordoned off a large area, while tourists on the London Eye, a popular visitor attraction, were stuck up to 135 metres (443 feet) in the air for more than an hour during the incident.

"I saw three bodies lying on the ground and a whole lot of police. It was pretty terrifying," said Jack Hutchinson, 16, from the United States, who was stranded on the observation wheel with his parents.

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, whose brother Jonathan was killed in the 2002 Bali bombing, was pictured with his face smeared with blood helping to give first aid to the fatally wounded police officer.

– 'Terror carnage at Westminster' –
Britain's last terror attack was the assassination of MP Jo Cox by a pro-Nazi sympathiser in her constituency in northern England.

The worst previous attack in London was in 2005 when four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda targeted the transport system, killing 52 people.

Britain's allies reacted with shock and vowed to stand with London in the fight against terror.

US President Donald Trump and French President Francois Hollande both spoke to May and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany stood with Britons "against all forms of terrorism".

"Spoke to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May today to offer condolences on the terrorist attack in London," Trump tweeted.

Lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris were switched off at midnight in solidarity with victims of the attack.

The incident dominated Britain's front pages, with The Times describing it as an "Assault on Westminster" while London's Evening Standard carried the headline "Terror carnage at Westminster".

– International victims –
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is due to travel to London on Thursday morning to visit three French pupils on a school trip who were among those hurt.

Five South Korean tourists were wounded, Seoul's foreign ministry said, while the Romanian government said two of its citizens were also injured.

A Portuguese man was hurt, the country's government said, while a seriously injured woman was rescued from the River Thames following the incident.

A doctor at nearby St Thomas' Hospital said they were treating people with "catastrophic" injuries.

Press Association news agency photos believed to be of the attacker lying on an ambulance stretcher showed he was wearing black clothes and had a beard.

British lawmaker Mary Creagh told AFP there was "a real sense of panic" as the attack unfolded.

Pictures showed two people being attended to on the ground inside the vehicle entrance gates of parliament, with a knife visible on the cobblestones, while three shots were heard on video footage.

Original Article

British police raid after deadly Westminster attack

British police arrested seven people in armed raids Thursday linked to the deadly “Islamist-related” attacks the day on the symbol of the country’s democracy.

Britain’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley also said police have revised down the number of victims from Wednesday’s rampage to three from four. Some 40 people were wounded.

“We have searched six addresses and made seven arrests,” Britain’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley told reporters in London.

He said the raids included locations in London and the central city of Birmingham.

Defiant British MPs meanwhile vowed to return to work as normal after the lightning attack on the iconic parliament building in the shadow of Big Ben.

Authorities worked around the clock to piece together what happened when carnage was sown in the heart of London as the attacker ran down several pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge then charged at a policeman at the parliament gates, stabbing him to death with a large knife.

Armed officers shot the attacker dead but not before he had killed two members of the public and the 48-year policeman guarding the seat of British political power in the deadliest attack in the country since 2005.

Press Association news agency photos believed to be of the attacker lying on an ambulance stretcher showed a burly man wearing black clothes and a beard.

Other pictures showed two people being treated on the ground inside the vehicle entrance gates of parliament, with a knife visible on the cobblestones, while three shots were heard ringing out on video footage as terrified passers-by fled.

British lawmaker Mary Creagh told AFP there was “a real sense of panic” as the attack unfolded and a doctor at nearby St Thomas’ Hospital said they were treating people with “catastrophic” injuries.

– Sick and depraved –

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as “sick and depraved” in a defiant address in which she affirmed parliament would meet as normal on Thursday.

Standing outside her Downing Street residence after an emergency cabinet meeting, May said Britain’s alert level would remain unchanged at level four, or “severe”.

“We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart,” said May, dressed in black.

The prime minister was in parliament at the time of the attack and was ushered away in a silver car as gunfire rang out.

– ‘Islamist-related terrorism’ –

Rowley said on Wednesday police suspected they were dealing with “Islamist-related terrorism,” adding that investigators believed they knew the assailant’s identity.

Queen Elizabeth II postponed her appearance on Thursday to open the new headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, where the force’s flag flew at half-mast following the attack.

The attack came a year to the day after Islamic State jihadists killed 32 people in twin bomb attacks in Brussels and after a series of deadly assaults in Europe that had spared Britain — until Wednesday.

Parliament was locked down for several hours and police evacuated hundreds of MPs and visitors to nearby Westminster Abbey and the Metropolitan Police headquarters.

An air ambulance flew in and police cordoned off a large area, while tourists on the London Eye, a popular visitor attraction, were left dangling up to 135 metres (443 feet) in the air for more than an hour during the attack.

“I saw three bodies lying on the ground and a whole lot of police. It was pretty terrifying,” said Jack Hutchinson, 16, from the United States, who was stranded on the observation wheel with his parents.

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, whose brother Jonathan was killed in the 2002 Bali bombing, was pictured with his face smeared with blood helping to give first aid to the fatally wounded police officer.

– ‘Terror carnage at Westminster’ –

The worst previous attack in London was in 2005 when four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda targeted the transport system, killing 52 people.

Britain’s last terror attack was last year’s assassination of MP Jo Cox by a pro-Nazi sympathiser in her constituency in northern England.

Britain’s allies reacted with shock and vowed to stand with London in the fight against terror while lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris were switched off at midnight in solidarity with victims of the attack.

US President Donald Trump and French President Francois Hollande both spoke to May and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany stood with Britons “against all forms of terrorism”.

“Spoke to UK Prime Minister Theresa May today to offer condolences on the terrorist attack in London,” Trump tweeted.

The incident dominated Britain’s front pages, with The Mirror describing it as an “attack on democracy” while London’s Evening Standard carried the headline “Terror carnage at Westminster”.

– International victims –

Several international tourists visiting one of London’s most iconic sights were caught up in the violence.

Five South Korean tourists were wounded, Seoul’s foreign ministry said, while the Romanian government said two of its citizens were also injured.

A Portuguese man was hurt, the country’s government said, while a seriously injured woman was rescued from the River Thames following the incident.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he would travel to London on Thursday morning to visit three French pupils on a school trip who were among those hurt.

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Original Article

SOCCERTALK: Bazee And Company

Bazee

BAZEE & COMPANY is the title of the latest edition of Complete Football magazine available online for free subscription. (Go to www.yumpu.com/kiosk/completefootball. The title reminds me of Basi and Company, the popular sitcom (situation comedy) that aired on Nigerian television during the 1980s (I think) to wide public acclaim. But this article is not about that television drama.

The Bazee and Company that Complete Football editor Kayode Ogundare has written about are the new kids on the bloc that Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has lined up for his double-header friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso this week and next in London. Rohr wants to look at these players to find out which of them can fit into his plans when the Eagles return to competitive action in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this year.

The leader of the group is 20-year-old attacking midfielder Noah Bazee who plays for Bundesliga 2 side Hannover 96 in Germany. In his “company” are 21-year-old right full back Tyrone Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag of Holland), 20-year-old Chidozie Collins Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal), 23-year-old Olanrewaju Kayode (FK Austria Wien, Austria) and 22-year-old Uche Agbo of Spanish club, Granada FC.

All five players are featured extensively in Complete Football’s “Bazee & Company.” But the two that will attract the most scrutiny when they make their debuts are Bazee and Ebuehi who were born abroad.

Rohr has been after these two boys for some time. During my conversation with him in January, he spoke extensively about them and how far he had gone trying to convince them to play for Nigeria. Now, they are on the verge of doing so.

Rohr’s attractions to these players apart from their young ages, are the structured, professional upbringing that being born abroad had afforded them. He expects they would bring that to help shore up the Eagles defence in particular. He points to Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong who have a similar background of growing up abroad to justify his conviction that the environment plays a huge part in the development of a player, his understanding of the game and his interpretation of tactics. I am in full agreement with the German on this.

Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page with Rohr. I have heard his critics complain about his refusal to include home-based players in his squad for these friendlies. The talent of our home boys is not in doubt and that is why many of them excel when they get to clubsides abroad. But before making the transition, most of them truly are lacking the exposure and tactical discipline to play at the highest level. Their concentration level is also low. The fault for that lies in the poor quality of football education that they get within our environment during their formative years. Until that is improved in all ramifications, home-based players will continue to play the second fiddle or get over-looked completely.

I hope Bazee and Company will prove Rohr right in the choices he has made. And I hope that overall, the Eagles performances against Senegal and Burkina Faso will give us more confidence for our upcoming AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.

A New Dawn For CAF

THERE’S NO NEED kicking a man that is down already. So I will only say to former Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou who was dethroned last week by Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar in Addis Ababa: “Thank you for all that you did for African football, Issa. Now, you can have your deserved rest.”

Just before the vote which Ahmad won in landslide fashion (34-20), I read Hayatou’s interview with Colin Udoh’s Kwese Sports online. Hayatou claimed he had planned to step down, but he was recontesting only because African FA president had begged him to stay. Well, it turned out that they deceived him or, to be more precise, he allowed himself to be deceived. 34 votes to 20 was a whitewash, a pummeling (using Nkechi Obi’s qualifier) in an election that was predicted to be close. It was not close at all.

That said, the ball now is fully in Ahmad’s court and we shall be watching how soon and how well he will implement his electoral promises to rejig the administration of African football and make it more transparent.

What can I say to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick? First is to congratulate him for becoming the third Nigerian ever to seat on the executive committee of CAF. That is a remarkable achievement by the young man.

Second is to salute his courage to confront the much feared Hayatou Dynasty and, in concert with Ahmad and others, to defeat it.

Third is to commend Pinnick’s political sagacity which he used to overwhelm all local Nigerian obstacles, especially that posed by Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung who was a confused man throughout the process, speaking from both sides of his mouth.

Fourth, I salute Pinnick for carrying out my "instruction" in this column to shut Moucharafou’s Big Mouth! Now that “small boy Pinnick” has unseated him from his treasured CAF seat, the Benin Republic man will learn not to underrate his opponents and that pride and arrogance are precursors to a big fall!

Finally, I want Pinnick not to lose focus of his primary task. He must ensure that his victory songs at CAF also continue to play in the Super Eagles. A successful national team is the major reward that millions of Nigerian soccer fans expect from him whether or not he’s on the CAF executive committee. In the short term, that means qualifying the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 AFCON.

The post SOCCERTALK: Bazee And Company appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

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