Press focuses on FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria, Liberia, others

The FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria's Super Eagles and the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium,…

The FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Friday dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Guardian reports that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will commence the process to earn a seventh FIFA World Cup finals appearance when they trade tackles with the Lone Star of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos today, in one of the Day 1 games of the African qualifying campaign.

Since making their debut at the FIFA World Cup finals in 1994, the three-time African champions, Nigeria, have only missed participation in the finals once – the 2006 edition in Germany. They were denied of that berth courtesy of CAF’s head-to-head rule that favoured Angola.

In 17 previous clashes with Liberia’s Lone Star, the Super Eagles have won 10 matches, drawing three and losing four. One of the four losses was in Monrovia in July 2000, when a team led by the man, who is now that country’s President (George Ousmanou Oppong Weah) shot 2-0 ahead before Sunday Oliseh pulled one back for a 1-2 loss for Nigeria in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.

That win catapulted the Lone Star to the top of the group, and the Eagles had to battle hard to snatch the ticket with wins in their last three matches, including away to Sudan and home to Liberia and Ghana.

However, in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture, the Eagles rallied to a 2-2 draw in Monrovia and stung the Lone Star 6-1 in the second leg in Calabar.

Today’s match will see the Eagles leap to top of the group with a win, after group mates Cape Verde and Central African Republic battled to a 1-1 stalemate in their Day 1 encounter in Douala, Cameroon on Wednesday. Central African Republic are playing their home games in Cameroon as CAF has certified none of their home venues worthy of hosting international matches.

The newspaper says that a day after getting a N500 million sponsorship deal with the country’s biggest airline, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has secured another partnership with telecommunications giant, MTN, who will now serve as the national teams’ communications allies.

The NFF leadership has been on an aggressive campaign to ensure that it becomes financially independent, leading to selling some of its brands to the country’s elite corporate players. And now brand comes bigger than the national teams, which will now be catered for by MTN for the next three years.

At the unveiling of the new partnership yesterday in Lagos, which was attended by such eminent sports dignitaries as Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, NFF bigwigs and top officials of MTN, both parties inked an agreement that is worth N500 million-a-year with several other opportunities and possibilities in the mix as the contract runs.

Speaking at the event, Dare said: “This is something I will call a marriage of the king of telecom and the king of sports. MTN is the king of telecom and Football is the king of sports, as is well –established. This event today is in sync with the thinking and desire of the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports for our sports federations – which is for them to be self –funding. I appreciate MTN for taking this step and I encourage other corporate bodies to come and partner with our sports federations. Government alone cannot do it all.”

The NFF President and FIFA Council Member, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, lauded MTN for its patience, doggedness and forthrightness along the line while the partnership was being processed, and said he was overwhelmed with joy that the day has finally come to consummate a relationship that he had dreamt so much about over the years.

The Punch reports that the Twitter ban in Nigeria is still in effect according to the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde.

Adinde said that there had been no communications from the Ministry of Information to lift the ban. The NCC had sent a memo to Mobile Network Operators and Internet Service Providers to block access to Twitter for the ban imposed by the Federal Government to take effect.

Some Nigerians had on Wednesday reported gaining access to the app without Virtual Private Networks on their laptops.

Our correspondent explains that the reported access to Twitter had only been on Internet Service Providers networks, and not through the mobile networks. A source in an ISP company said, “The way blocking works when it comes to the network is, a specific site or server or URL will be put under a blacklist. Or an instruction will be given to block traffic going to or coming from a certain server. So, a router that sits in between serves as a blockade rather than work as a go through; it will block it.

“Depending on the technology deployed, there might be loopholes. A problem could be as regards implementation. It can create a loophole, a human error.”

ThisDay says that the Senate has raised the alarm over the reported insolvency of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the capital market regulator declared deficit of N9 billion in three years.

It also expressed concern over the special salary structure being enjoyed by the senior management staff of SEC.

The upper legislative chamber’s Joint Committees on Finance, National Planning, Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas chaired by Senator Adeola Olamilekan, made the observation yesterday, during an interactive session with revenue generating agencies where the Director General of the SEC, Lamido Yuguda, made a presentation.

According to the document submitted to the Committee by SEC DG, in 2019, the agency recorded N2.9 billion deficit while in 2020, it recorded deficit of N4.3 billion and as at June 2021, the agency has already recorded deficit of N1.7 billion bringing the total deficit from 2019 to 2021 to N9 billion. Worried about the development, the Committee Chairman drew the attention of his colleagues to the personnel cost of the Commission which has remained on the high side in the last two years.

He said:” This budget gives us a wrong impression about SEC. You are a regulator to businesses that are making money, but you aren’t making money.

The Sun reports that despite heavy criticisms trailing the country’s monthly expenditure of N150 billion on fuel subsidy, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has foreclosed immediate plans to suspend the price stabilisation initiative.

Its Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, stated this in his presentation at an interactive session by the Joint Senate Committee on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) at the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

Rather, he said the corporation would have to continue with fuel subsidy till 2022 and, as such, has made provisions for it in the 2022 AppropriationBill.

‘‘There is an ongoing process that is engaging members of the organised labour, civil society organisations and many other institutions of government and other critical stakeholders to arrive at a landing on how and when we can exit the subsidy regime to be very precise.

He said the government is not sure that it can conclude the process of exiting the subsidy regime before the end of 2021 or early 2022, hence the provision of fuel subsidy in the 2022 Appropriation. Stakeholders have faulted the N150 billion spent monthly on fuel subsidy, saying it was illegal because there was no provision for such in the 2021 Budget.

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