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Why Obiano won

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By Ray Ekpu –

In any election incumbency packs a punch. The incumbent always has something to show, completed projects to flaunt, ongoing projects that are nearing completion or even ones that are on the drawing board. He has the paraphernalia of the civil service, the MDAs, the contractors, women and youth groups hired and unhired, all of them are often in the corner of the incumbent. The incumbent is also seen as a bird in hand, the reality not the dream, the person on the job not the one who wants to be on the job. In most elections, all of these factors often work in favour of the incumbent.
It worked for Chief Willie Obiano, the newly re-elected Governor of Anambra State. As all incumbents normally do, Obiano published a long list of his completed projects and asked that the public should crosscheck and establish for themselves the veracity of his claims.
This is a pragmatic approach to campaigning which puts the non-incumbent at a disadvantage because he has no completed projects to flaunt. But publishing a list of completed projects even though quite useful to the incumbent and the voters is routine. I am, however, thrilled by the “choose-your-project initiative” adopted by Chief Obiano’s government. The various communities in the state were asked to choose projects that were very dear to them. The government would then give them N20 million for the execution of the project. The project must be executed by a local contractor. Once the project is successfully executed the community can be rewarded with another N20 million for the execution of another project of their choice.

The advantages of this development paradigm are several. One, the community chooses the project it feels it needs badly so no one from outside drops an unwanted project on its laps. Two, the community owns the project. This makes for inclusive governance. It guards that project jealously. Three, the project is not likely to be abandoned or executed poorly since the contractor comes from within the community. If he abandons or does a poor job of it, the people will skin him alive. Four, this approach is perhaps the best strategy for rural communities. Since the projects are small and easy to manage there will be no expensive after project servicing and no high-flying consultants are needed.
Over and above these, it is obvious that the Anambrarians also wanted stability in their state. With all the noise made by the rebel group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) complete with a promise to disrupt the elections, the people chose peace over peril. They trooped out in their numbers to vote. And who did they vote for? Obiano, because he must have performed well or they thought that continuity would bring stability in the face of a possible confrontation between IPOB and security forces. But at the same time they stood solidly by APGA, the Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu political platform.
Ojukwu is dead but on election day he was alive. The people showed that they were the Independent People of Anambra (IPOA) by largely ignoring the two major national parties, APC and PDP.
In this election, APGA won 234,071 votes (55.43%), APC got 98,752 votes while PDP scored 70,293 votes. Obiano had more votes than all the other 36 contestants put together. This makes nonsense of our so-called multi-party system. We have in the country about 45 registered political parties, with just about five having any reasonable presence anywhere.
The rest are just moribund husband-and-wife, father-and-son parties. This may make the gods of multi-partyism happy but it is pure rubbish. There is no country in the world that has more than three strong parties. Check from England, Germany, France to America and you will find that only two or three parties really make an impact in their elections. So why do we need 45 parties in a semi-literate country with no ideological differences? The major disadvantage of having an army of parties is that voters make mistakes and render their votes invalid. In the Anambra election, there were about 30,000 invalid votes. This situation must have arisen from inadequate voter education, the inability of voters to choose correctly due to the tiny prints on the ballots sheets, and the smallness of the voting space. This made it easy for voters’ thumbprints to occupy more than one space thus nullifying their votes. If we ever want to have better voting procedure we have to ensure that we do not have more than five parties on the ballot paper. Higher numbers confuse our largely illiterate voters. They also make voting error-prone.

In any election incumbency packs a punch. The incumbent always has something to show, completed projects to flaunt, ongoing projects that are nearing completion or even ones that are on the drawing board. He has the paraphernalia of the civil service, the MDAs, the contractors, women and youth groups hired and unhired, all of them are often in the corner of the incumbent. The incumbent is also seen as a bird in hand, the reality not the dream, the person on the job not the one who wants to be on the job. In most elections, all of these factors often work in favour of the incumbent.
It worked for Chief Willie Obiano, the newly re-elected Governor of Anambra State. As all incumbents normally do, Obiano published a long list of his completed projects and asked that the public should crosscheck and establish for themselves the veracity of his claims.
This is a pragmatic approach to campaigning which puts the non-incumbent at a disadvantage because he has no completed projects to flaunt. But publishing a list of completed projects even though quite useful to the incumbent and the voters is routine. I am, however, thrilled by the “choose-your-project initiative” adopted by Chief Obiano’s government. The various communities in the state were asked to choose projects that were very dear to them. The government would then give them N20 million for the execution of the project. The project must be executed by a local contractor. Once the project is successfully executed the community can be rewarded with another N20 million for the execution of another project of their choice.

The advantages of this development paradigm are several. One, the community chooses the project it feels it needs badly so no one from outside drops an unwanted project on its laps. Two, the community owns the project. This makes for inclusive governance. It guards that project jealously. Three, the project is not likely to be abandoned or executed poorly since the contractor comes from within the community. If he abandons or does a poor job of it, the people will skin him alive. Four, this approach is perhaps the best strategy for rural communities. Since the projects are small and easy to manage there will be no expensive after project servicing and no high-flying consultants are needed.
Over and above these, it is obvious that the Anambrarians also wanted stability in their state. With all the noise made by the rebel group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) complete with a promise to disrupt the elections, the people chose peace over peril. They trooped out in their numbers to vote. And who did they vote for? Obiano, because he must have performed well or they thought that continuity would bring stability in the face of a possible confrontation between IPOB and security forces. But at the same time they stood solidly by APGA, the Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu political platform.
Ojukwu is dead but on election day he was alive. The people showed that they were the Independent People of Anambra (IPOA) by largely ignoring the two major national parties, APC and PDP.
In this election, APGA won 234,071 votes (55.43%), APC got 98,752 votes while PDP scored 70,293 votes. Obiano had more votes than all the other 36 contestants put together. This makes nonsense of our so-called multi-party system. We have in the country about 45 registered political parties, with just about five having any reasonable presence anywhere.
The rest are just moribund husband-and-wife, father-and-son parties. This may make the gods of multi-partyism happy but it is pure rubbish. There is no country in the world that has more than three strong parties. Check from England, Germany, France to America and you will find that only two or three parties really make an impact in their elections. So why do we need 45 parties in a semi-literate country with no ideological differences? The major disadvantage of having an army of parties is that voters make mistakes and render their votes invalid. In the Anambra election, there were about 30,000 invalid votes. This situation must have arisen from inadequate voter education, the inability of voters to choose correctly due to the tiny prints on the ballots sheets, and the smallness of the voting space. This made it easy for voters’ thumbprints to occupy more than one space thus nullifying their votes. If we ever want to have better voting procedure we have to ensure that we do not have more than five parties on the ballot paper. Higher numbers confuse our largely illiterate voters. They also make voting error-prone.

The police and other security forces contributed substantially to the peace and harmony that largely prevailed during the elections. Twenty six thousands policemen and women were out there in their battle gear to offer trouble to trouble makers and to make life easy for law-abiding persons. Law and order prevailed. We did not see, as Nigerians love to say, the brake lights of the boastful IPOB members. They ran into their hiding holes. We are happy that things went swimmingly. This is how the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji captured it: “Some people came here to watch the state burn, to see brothers killing themselves but we are glad that nothing like that happened.”
The independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also did a commendable job. It was a massive improvement on its performance in Edo and Ondo states.

But the culture of transaction politics that was prevalent in Edo and Ondo also allegedly featured in Anambra. Vote selling and voting-buying is an ancient ritual in Nigerian politics. It is a function of the depravity and desperation of Nigerian Politicians as well as the poverty of the voting masses. We have seen these transactions in various forms: dollars in envelopes, money in loaves of bread, small packs of ofada rice with money buried inside, money in the middle of newspapers or folded curriculum vitae etc. Nigerian politicians are devilishly creative in these matters. No one can hold INEC responsible for this. INEC or the security agencies cannot even stop it. It is an illegal transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller. The cynical view is that election time is the only time the people get to see their leaders. After elections, they quickly vanish along with their fabulous promises only to reappear at the next election. So the logic goes, catch them when you see them.

With this victory, Obiano has come into his own, away from the looming shadow of  Mr. Peter Obi with whom he had sworn to use his last drop of blood to work against the incumbent, ways before the elections. Obiano can beat his chest that he won the election on his own steam and that he had successfully nailed the coffin of godfatherism in Anambra. In Anambra the proud cock crowed loudly. By the results of the elections how will Anambra vote in 2019? APGA may not field a presidential candidate in 2019 .So Anambra will be a fertile hunting ground for the APC and PDP.

It is a toss-up who will get it but Obiano will be an important factor in that equation.

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Saturday Suicide Attack: 32 Kill, 84 Injured 84 in Damboa, Borno

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No fewer than 32 persons were killed, while 84 others were injured when six suicide bombers detonated Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs), in Damboa local government area in Borno state on Saturday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that some locals alleged that the deaths arose from a misfiring by the Nigerian Army’s artillery but the army denied the claim.

Malam Buba Shettima, a witness said that two separate bomb blasts occurred in Shuwari and Abbachari, at about 8:30 p.m.

“The whole of Damboa was shaken by the unfortunate incident. We all scampered for safety as the blasts were coming from different directions. There were bodies everywhere.

“We suspected that the many deaths recorded were a result of the military artillery,” he said.

Mohammed Hassan, another local from the area who corroborated the claim, said: “At about 8:30 pm of on Saturday night, an attack suspected to be from an artillery killed 31 innocent people in Damboa Shehuri and Abachari. The attacks came from two separate directions. My house was among some of the houses destroyed,” he said.

Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, denied the claim, saying the killings were caused by suicide attacks and not military artillery.

“There was nothing like an attack from the military artillery. You can see the pictures of six female bombers who detonated their explosives and as a result, 20 persons were killed while others were injured,” he said.

Rogers urged people to disregard the claim that people were killed by the military and not by suicide bombers.

Modu-Zannah Maina, The District Head of Damboa, who described the incident as “shocking and disturbing” said the attack was perpetrated by female suicide bombers.

Maina lamented that a lot of people that were affected were mostly children adding that many victims were injured.

“We are here in this hospital to check our people affected by Saturday’s bomb blasts. So far, the victims have been responding to treatment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Demian Chukwu, the Borno Commissioner of Police, said “On Saturday, at about 2045hrs, an explosion occurred at Abachari area, in the outskirt of Damboa L.G.A. of Borno State.

“At the sound of the explosion, personnel of the Nigeria Police and Members of the civilian JTF mobilised to the scene and discovered twenty dead bodies and 48 injured persons in a suspected terrorist attack.

“The wounded and the dead were evacuated to a hospital while the scene was sanitised by a deployment of police EOD unit.

“Investigation is ongoing to unravel the nature of the attack,” he said.

Hajiya Yabawa Kolo, the Chairperson of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), who also confirmed the incident, said the agency had deployed its personnel to evacuate wounded persons to the hospital for quick medical attention.

“Our team has been deployed to render life-saving support to the victims of the blast. As you can see, they have been tirelessly working with ICRC since morning to evacuate the injured from the airport to the hospital.

“We are all saddened by the unfortunate incident that occurred in Damboa,” said Kolo.
(Source: NAN)

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Nigeria to shut borders over rice smuggling

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The Nigerian Government says it will shut the land border between it and a neigbouring country in a few days time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday while speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
Ogbeh who did not mention the particular country and border, said that shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.
The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of the country and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbor of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. “They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy. “I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.
“You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet. “Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.
“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water.
“If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.
“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison,’’ Ogbeh said.
He said that the Federal Government in two years reduced rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five million to 30 million.
The minister said that states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa were doing well in rice production.
“We just have to handwork you to prosperity otherwise, this country will not grow. My wish for you is to have a better time that we had,’’ Ogbeh said.
The President of GOTNI, Dr Linus Okorie, commended the minister for sharing prosperity experiences with the youth.
Okorie noted that the leadership clinic was organised by GOTNI to expose young people to practical leadership principle for life success.
According to him, GOTNI is committed to changing the narratives of poor leadership in Nigeria by consciously developing the capacities of generational leaders.
“A lot of young people are asking questions, seeking answers to their questions, wish that they have an experienced person who will hold them by the hands and show them the way to achieve success.
“There are a few people that are readily available to do this; a lot of them are making decisions everyday on the basis of their limited exposure.
“If Nigeria must make progress, if we must consciously build the next generation of leaders then, we must expose these young people to experienced leaders that have gone ahead for a conscious transfer of knowledge and experiences,’’ he said.
Some of the youths who spoke at the meeting called for continuous mentorship from leaders, access to finance and low interest rates to assist them in businesses.
GOTNI is a non-profit youth leadership capital development organisation with a passion to nurture various categories of young people under 40 years of age, into transformational leaders.

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Air Namibia set to launch Windhoek-Lagos-Accra route

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Air Namibia is gearing up to launch the Windhoek-Lagos-Accra route, commencing on 29 June 2018.
This new route will provide a direct connection between Namibia and West African countries. This new service operates four times a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Friday from Windhoek) providing a smooth and convenient connections inbound and outbound to the airline’s regional flights, connecting West Africa via Windhoek to and from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda, Harare, Lusaka, Vic Falls, Gaborone Walvis Bay, Durban and beyond.
The routing will be Windhoek-Lagos-Accra, and the return will be Accra- Lagos-Windhoek. The operation will further transport passengers and cargo on the Lagos-Accra-Lagos leg, utilizing the fifth freedom traffic rights granted by the Ghanaian and Nigerian Governments, as contained in the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreements.
Air Namibia anticipates closing a gap in the market by competitively connecting Southern Africa to West Africa within less than 6 hours.
“This much needed service gives our passengers a better alternative travel option, reducing travel times between Namibia and West Africa by more than 60%. We are happy to introduce our Award Winning Service in this market and we are already receiving positive feedback on the launch of this new route,” said Mandi Samson, AirNamibia’s Acting Managing Director. She continued: “The operation fits within our existing capacity in terms of aircraft and crew, improving the utilization rates of these resources while increasing revenue generating opportunities. Especially as it means we are entering Africa’s largest regional air travel market.”
Air Namibia recently appointed APG Network as sales representatives in both Nigeria and Ghana to provide full sales and marketing services, as well as call centre and customer care services on behalf of Air Namibia in the two countries.
Juanita Klassen, Air Namibia’s Manager for GSA and Offline Markets at the time said: “We are happy for having established this relationship with the APG Network, as we can use their extensive experience in the field of aviation as a key global player in the airline distribution environment, offering outsourced services such as passenger sales and marketing, reservations, Air Namibia can benefit and is positioned to make its West Africa operations a success.”
The move by Air Namibia to breathe new life into these two new routes is welcomed by both the Ghanaian and Nigeria communities. Former High Commissioner of Ghana to Namibia and Botswana, Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah had the following to say: “Namibia is a great
Air Namibia will service this new route with the Airbus A319, offering a seat configuration of 16 Business Class and 96 Economy Class seats and offer two tons of cargo space.
Air Namibia brings to West Africa, its Award Winning Service, which is recognized by many and having won the “Feather Awards” as the best Regional Airline of Southern Africa more than 10 times over the past 15 years. The airline also scooped second place as Africa’s best regional airline in 2016 and 2017 by Skytrax Airline Awards.
The airline operates a fleet carefully selected to meet performance dependability and comfort. All its 10 aircraft (2 x Airbus A330-200, 4 x Airbus A319-100, 4 x Embraer ERJ 135) provide immense comfort offered by the generous legroom and modern interiors.

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Day of the African Child: Osodieme makes Case for Children with Special needs

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Wife of Governor of Anambra State and Founder of Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE) has made case for greater care and attention to indigent children especially those with special needs.
Osodieme made the plea in her message on the occasion of the commemoration of International Day of the African Child on 16th June 2018.
A statement signed on her behalf by Chief Media Officer, Emeka Ozumba, Osodieme observed that the Day’s theme: “Leave no child behind in African Development,” reminds everyone that every child needs support, proper nurturing and education to grow through life.
Her words;
“Children are God’s precious gift of love to mankind. It behooves on us to nurture, shield, and educate every child to live to his/her full potential by ensuring that no child is left behind in the scheme of human development.“
Osodieme called for inclusiveness that will ensure that no child is left behind, stressing that in this era of pervasive hunger and privation there is the tendency to ignore the plight of others especially indigent children with special needs. She urged parents not to abdicate responsibility and the teachers, to use their talents to identify and harness the unique gift of every child no matter how challenging.
Drawing inspiration from the classic song, “Greatest Love of All” by American singer, Late Whitney Houston, Osodieme belted the chorus; “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be…! She emphasized that adults owe it as a duty to protect the children whose laughter, according to the song, “remind us how we used to be,” stressing that “there is a child in every one of us.”
Furthermore, Osodieme expressed appreciation with the state government commitment to the protection and welfare of children which she noted is apparent in steadfast implementation of child-friendly programmes by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs. Osodieme also assured that her NGO, CAFÉ will sustain collaboration with the Ministry especially in the area child welfare programmes by supporting maternal and child healthcare, immunization and social education for the development of sound mind and body that would lead to the realization of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of every Anambra child.

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Prediction: Croatia 3-1 Nigeria

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Croatia and Nigeria will look to gain maximum points from their encounter in Group D to set the tone for the rest of the World Cup campaign.
Croatia come into the World Cup on the back of a rather mediocre qualifying campaign, wherein they had to endure going through the second phase – the knockout phase of the qualifiers. While they did make quick work of Greece in order to secure their place among the 31 other teams in Russia, they would be hoping for much improved showings at the main event.

Nigeria, on the other hand, cruised through their qualification group in the African region. The Super Eagles had actually gone unbeaten in the entire campaign, but had to accept defeat in their last group stage match for fielding an ineligible player. Still, Nigeria look in good shape coming into a tricky Group D at the World Cup.

Nigeria are likely to miss the services of Leon Balogun in defence. And while the nation does have other options in Balogun’s position, losing a key player like Balogun for their first match could really have an impact on their defensive shape and chemistry at the back.
Croatia, on the other hand, will come into the match knowing well enough that a result is needed against Nigeria to boost their hopes of qualifying to the knockout phase. Their preparation matches might not have been ideal, but the quality they possess should be enough to fight off the threat posed by the Super Eagles.

 Tactics

Leon Balogun is not at a 100% and could have to sit this one out. In case he does, Troost-Ekong will likely be partnered by Kenneth Omeruo. Idowu and Elderson should take up the positions on either flank.
Wilfred Ndidi is reported to have recovered in time to start the game against Croatia. The energetic midfielder will partner John Obi Mikel at the base of the 4-2-3-1. The front four is also massively stacked for Nigeria.
Kelechi Iheanacho should start upfront for Nigeria. But, the three behind the Leicester City striker should keep rotating positions between themselves, making them an even bigger threat with their interchangeability.
To start things off, Alex Iwobi should command a more central role, with Victor Moses on his preferred position on the right. Ahmed Musa will be looking to tear things up with his pace on the left.
Nigeria’s wide attack presents a very diverse proposition. While Musa uses pace to get past opponents, Moses and Iwobi are tricky customers who often use their flair and even cute passes to leave defenders lying in their wake.
One of the biggest gambles will be to hand 19-year-old Francis Uzoho a start in goal, something the reports have been hinting towards.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Uzoho; Idowu, Omeruo, Troost-Ekong, Elderson; Mikel, Ndidi; Moses, Iwobi, Musa; Iheanacho.

Key Stats

1. This will be Croatia’s second-ever meeting with an African nation, with their previous encounter being a 2-0 win over Cameroon in 2014.
2. Croatia have lost their opening game at the World Cup on three successive occasions.
3. Nigeria have won just one of their last 12 games at the World Cup.
4. Nigeria have the youngest squad at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with an average age of 25 years and 336 days.
5. Nigeria come into their opening tie, having not recorded a win in their last four international matches.

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World Cup 2018: Day Three Schedule and How to Watch Croatia vs. Nigeria

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Day three of the World Cup is upon us and the day’s headlining match involves  Croatia—who of all the countries at the World Cup play a high press system —take on Nigeria in what could be a decisive match between the two sides expected to battle for second in Group D.


Group D favourites Argentina, though, look vulnerable, and before we get to Croatia we’ll see if Iceland can frustrate Lionel Messi in what could be his final World Cup appearance.
Group C has two games to watch on Saturday, too, with France taking on Australia to kick things off in a battle between one of the favourites and a side that had a worse AFC qualification run than Saudi Arabia—who were unceremoniously hammered on Thursday by a very average Russia. Peru against the country that should finish second in the group, Denmark, rounds out the day’s slate.

How to Watch Croatia vs. Nigeria:

ITV 1 (UK) | Fox Sports 1/Telemundo (USA) | Optus Sport (Australia) | CTV (Canada) | Sony ESPN (India) | Astro FIFA World Cup (Malaysia) | SuperSport 3 (Nigeria) | Singtel FIFA World Cup (Singapore) | SuperSport 3 (South Africa)

 

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Meghan Markle Describes Prince Harry As ‘The Best Husband Ever’

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Wearing a Givenchy oat-coloured cape dress for her first solo engagement with the Queen yesterday morning, Meghan Markle looked confident and poised as she held her own with Her Royal Highness.
During her visit to the North of England, the Duchess of Sussex greeted onlookers who took the time to share their well wishes for the newlyweds, and shared several jokes with the Queen.
The outing also gave Meghan the first opportunity to gush about her new husband.
Royal fan Sharon Briscoe reportedly asked her Meghan how she was enjoying her new life in the UK.
‘It is wonderful,’ Meghan told her, according to People. ‘I’m really enjoying it.’

Meghan Says Harry Is ‘The Best Husband Ever’

Briscoe reportedly told the Duchess to give her love to Harry and to look after him, to which the royal replied: ‘I will do. That means an awful lot to us. He’s the best husband ever.’

The Duchess and the Queen enjoyed several adorable moments during the opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge. At one point, the royals could be seen being ushered towards a waiting car after their arrival via Royal Train at Runcorn station.

Meghan Markle

As they approach the car doors, Prince Harry’s wife appeared to be confused about whether to step inside the car ahead of the Queen. After asking the advisers about royal protocol in the situation, she eventually turned to the Queen and said: ’What’s your preference?’. It’s thought that the monarch replied: ‘You go first.’
We can’t wait to hear what Prince Harry has to say about his new bride.

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Sultan declares Friday 2018 Eid-el-fitr day

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The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has declared Friday, June 15, 2018, as the day to mark the Eid-el-Fitr, and the end of Ramadan fast.
The Sultan announced the sighting of the new moon of the month Shawwal in a broadcast in Sokoto on Thursday.
The Islamic month of Shawwal comes after the 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan when Muslims across the world observe a month-long fasting.
Abubakar said that the new moon was sighted in parts of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Borno, Jigawa, Nassarawa, Plateau and Sokoto States among others.
He said:” In accordance with Islamic law, we have the honour and pleasure to announce that today, Thursday, the 29th day of Ramadan,1439 AH, which is equivalent to June 14, 2018, has marked the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the new month of Shawwal.
“Reliable reports of moon sighting were received from Muslim leaders and religious organisations across the country, which were duly verified and authenticated by us, states and the National Moon Sighting Committee.
“Consequent upon this, tomorrow, Friday, the 15th day of June 2018 becomes the first day of Shawwal,1439 AH and is therefore declared the Sallah day for 2018 Eid-el-Fitr.”
The Sultan urged the Muslim Ummah to sustain fervent prayers for the nation led by Muhammadu Buhari, other leaders, as well as for sustainable peace and unity in Nigeria and beyond.
The Sultan also urged Nigerians to continue to live in peace irrespective of religious, ethnic and cultural differences.

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Gov. Dickson Inaugurates Bayelsa Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

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Governor Seriake Dickson has approved the sum of five hundred million naira grant for Bayelsa state young interested entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

The Bayelsa state governor made the announcement at the official inauguration of the state young entrepreneurs network in government house, Yenagoa, he charged the youths to take their destiny into their hands and be active players in the nation’s economy.
Apart from investing in education, infrastructure and human capacity building, governor Dickson says he is also interested in changing the narrative of youth in Bayelsa state.
The Bayelsa state chief executive demonstrated this when he inaugurated the young entrepreneurs network with the sole aim of identifying and developing young interested entrepreneurs.
Members of the Bayelsa state young entrepreneurs are excited that with such a kind gesture from the governor, they are poised to achieve greater heights for themselves and the state.
Youths are perceived as the building blocks of every developing nation who could achieve much when given the necessary tools.

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FEC approves N185bn for 14 roads nationwide

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja approved N185.2billion for the rehabilitation, repairs and reconstruction of 14 roads across the country.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Council’s meeting held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa.
Adesina, who briefed the correspondents alongside the Ministers of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole and his Industry, Trade and Investment counterpart Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said the road projects were located in Yobe, Adamawa, Benue, Kwara, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Enugu, Borno, Anambra and Sokoto states.
He listed the road projects to include Gwoza – Damboa – Goniri – Ngamdu Road in Yobe/Borno States at the cost of N34.608 billion; Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Torngo Road in Adamawa at the rate of N22.699billion and Ado – Ifaki – Otun – Kwara State border in Ekiti State at the rate of N6 billion.
He said that Makurdi bridge in Benue would be repaired at the cost of N4.617 billion; Ihugi – Korinya -Wuse -Ankor in Benue at N15.641 billion and Gbagi – Apa – Owode in Badagry Lagos State at N4.366 billion.
Others are the construction of Ijebu Igbo – Ita Egba Owonowen in Ogun and Oyo States which would cost N9.833 billion while N7.506billion would be spent on dualisation of Jattu – Fugar – Agenebode in Edo Phase II by Mothercat.
He said the Makurdi – Gboko – Wannune – Yander Section 1 in Benue would be reconstructed at the cost of N18.669 billion; Old – Enugu – Port Harcourt Road at Agbogugu – Abia border Spur would cost N13.933 billion.
Adesina said that N6.249billion would be spent on rehabilitation of Umulungbe – Umoka road; Amokwu – Ikedimkpe – Egede – Opeyi Awhum Road in Enugu State at N21.729 billion and rehabilitation of Nkwu Inyi – Akpugoeze in Anambra at N2.595 billion.
He revealed that N4.354billion would be expended on reconstruction of Sabon Birnin – Tsululu – Kuya – Maradi Junction road in Sokoto state.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Adewole, on h is part disclosed that the Council approved the Draft on Food Safety and Quality Bill as well as the Food Safety Institutional Reform Working Document.
According to him, it is expected that with the formal approval of the two documents the nation may witness reduction in the incident of food borne illnesses through many preventive control measures that is contained in the bill.
He said it would also help to support the achievements of sustainable effective food trade that would boost the nation’s economy as well as help to strengthen institutional capacity for food safety and quality already contained in the bill.
“The relevance of the bill could actually be appreciated when one considers some happenings in the past when food export from Nigeria was banned in Europe.
“We believe that what is required is for us to strengthen institutional framework that will enable various agencies of government to work together,’’ he added.
He said part of the institutional framework in the bill was to set up Food Safety Council to be chaired by the Vice-President, as well as an Inter-Ministerial Committee that would handle food management and food safety in the country.
The minister disclosed that the Council also approved a draft National Tobacco Control Regulation, which would be forwarded to the National Assembly for legislative approval.
He said that draft bill when approved by the National Assembly would enable his ministry to implement the regulation on National Tobacco Act.
“Under this administration we have recorded several successes with respect to tobacco anti-control. Precisely early last month Mr President approved increase in Tobacco taxes as well as alcohol.
“And then on the May 23, government approved the framework to control illegal trade in tobacco products in Nigeria. And today, the regulation that will really enable us implement the National Tobacco Control Act was approved.
“The framework contains some sections that has to do with general provisions of regulations like licensing, approvals, who does what, penalties and so on and so forth. And more importantly to also enable us work closely with the state.
“We believe that once this is approved by National Assembly we will start seeing a lot of changes, effective ban on smoke areas in the country and also you will notice different warning labels on tobacco product in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah disclosed that the Council approved the award of contract for construction of the phase II and the completion of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Multi-purpose conference centre in Abuja.
According to him, the project will cost N6,540,385,908 billion inclusive of VAT.
He said: “The importance of this is that the ITF is one of the most important agencies of government when it comes to vocational training and skills acquisition and Abuja is a very important centre of training for ITF.
“It has training facility that can train 319 people per session. With this investment in this building, it can increase that capacity to about 1,200 per session. So it is a fairly big facility.
“Some of the areas of interest we want to increase training include the automotive skills sector, ICT, Tiling, plasters of Paris (POP), plumbing, GSM wielding and fabrication, refrigeration and so on.
“All these strategies are attempt to implement the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and to diversify the economy in a way that we can bring more and more of our people to have the skills that are needed to go to work.’’

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