January 8, 2009

Chelsea Captain Terry Highlights Bridge's Professionalism Chelsea and England defender John Terry has praised the attitude of his former team-mate Way

After failing to oust Ashley Cole as Chelsea's first choice left-back, despite being one of the first signings of the Abramvich era, Wayne Bridge decided to call the curtain on his Blues career and transfer to nouveau riche side Manchester City.

Chelsea and England captain John Terry has been quick to praise the 28-year old, who says his presence will be missed at Stamford Bridge.

"He'll be missed and I'm still in shock a little bit, because it's a shame to see one of the lads go who you have grown up with and been with a long time," he explained on the club's official website. "I'm disappointed but, for him, it was the right decision.

"We understand he's been here and tried to break in to become a first-team regular but with him and Ash being the two best left-backs around by far, it was difficult for him to break through and get as many games as he liked.

"I think he felt at 28 he had come to an age where he needed to play week in week out. He will definitely get that at Man City and show people he is right up there, as I said, with Ash [Ashley Cole]. Once Bridgey starts playing people will realise how good he is."

Terry went on to note the professionalism that Bridge oozes.

"He was great to have around the place," he said. "A great professional too, coming in at eight some mornings to do an hour on the bike when he wasn't playing, just to keep his fitness there so when he was called upon he did well."

Bridge will long be remembered in Chelsea folklore for being the player responsible for downing Arsenal's Champions League progression at Highbury five years ago.

"It was a great night at Highbury and the fans have a great song about him there," Terry explained. "They loved him as well, and the thing with Bridgey is he could play left-back or left midfield. He is a great crosser of the ball and gets up and down, so we will miss him."

Ghana's new president sworn-in amid fanfare

New elected Ghanaian, President John Atta Mills takes oath of office on Wednesday.

John Atta Mills has been sworn in as Ghana's new president following a cliff-hanger election victory. Mr Atta Mills took his oath of allegiance in front of thousands of people in Independence Square for the inauguration in the capital, Accra. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate beat the ruling party's Nana Akufo-Addo in a hotly contested poll by a margin of less than 0.5% of votes.

President John Kufuor has stood down after serving the maximum two terms. He is the second elected head of state in Ghana's history to hand over to an opposition politician.

Crowds began forming at the stadium before dawn decked out in the national colours of green, yellow, red and black amid an air of intense excitement after one of the closest election races in Africa's recent history. Mr Atta Mills was dressed in a local kente cloth woven in the national colours, Reuters news agency reports.

After he was sworn in, he raised up the State Sword representing government authority to cheers from the crowd, the agency said. A military unit then fired off a booming 21-gun salute. On the eve of the inauguration, President Kufuor showed his successor around his new home, the presidential residence officially known as Jubilee House.

Ghana's new leader, who had lost two previous elections to Mr Kufuor, has pledged to be "a president for all". Mr Akufo-Addo won the first round but not by enough to avoid a run-off in last month's knife-edge polls. Mr Atta Mills was finally declared the winner on Saturday after a re-run of voting in the rural constituency of Tain, which was boycotted by the NPP.

Despite allegations of multiple voting and intimidation from both sides, electoral officials found no evidence of foul play and monitors praised Ghana's poll as a democratic example to others. The stakes were raised further in the election by Ghana's recent discovery of crude oil, with production due to start in late 2010.

Turnout was high for Ghana's fifth set of polls since it embraced multi-party democracy in 1992.
The former British colony was the first African state to gain its independence in 1957. A nation of 22 million people, it is the world's second biggest cocoa grower and Africa's number two gold miner.

Obasanjo graduates

Former Presidents Shehu Shagari(left) and Olusegun Obasanjo congratulating each other at the first convocation of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Lagos yesterday.

Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at the institution's first convocation ceremony held in Lagos on Wednesday.

Obasanjo who earned a post-graduate diploma in Christian Theology (a programme he started about two years ago) was commended by the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Olugbemiro Jegede for his determination to see to fruition his vision as exemplified by his enrolment at the institution.

Speaking on the former president's commitment to the NOUN dream, Jegede recalled how Obasanjo kept him and his staff on their toes just to ensure that they delivered.

The vice chancellor commended Obasanjo and his fellow 99 graduating students from the various schools of the institution for their determination to complete their studies. He also thanked the graduands for allowing themselves to be used as guinea pigs to test the waters of open education in Nigeria and the robustness of the school's system to handle the task.

Bemoaning the state of the Nigerian educational system as manifested by the illiteracy level, Jegede warned that Nigeria was nowhere near achieving the Education for All (EFA) goal by 2020. He suggested that a crisis management team be put in place to address the situation.
The occasion also featured the award of honourary degrees to three eminent persons, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, former Nigerian president, Senator David Mark, Senate president and Mr. Kochiro Matsuura, director-general, UNESCO.

BUDGET DEFENCE:Unspent allocation: Ojo Maduekwe to account for over N2.8bn

With more revelations of discrepancies in the implementation of the 2008 budget and the inability of the Minister of State [1] in the Ministry of Affairs, Alhaji Jibril Maigari to defend two different budgets for 2009, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs has insisted that the senior Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe must appear before it next Monday.

Ojo Maduekwe is expected to provide details of N2,805, 631,483 standing as an unspent fund released for execution of projects in the 2008 budget and the sum of N499,908,051, which were not appropriated for in the budget, but were released by the Ministry of Finance.

When coming, chairman of the committee, Hon Umar Bature asked Maduekwe to come with the nominal roll of all staff in the nation’s foreign missions, in addition to written responses to discrepancies spotted in the performances of the 2008 budget.
Bature added that the committee was interested in the status of fees collected on visas issued by the foreign offices, the status of the Nigeria House in New York, the country buildings in Paris, the money given to victims of Tsunami and the status of properties belonging to the country in Washington DC.

Members queried the N1,351,391,240 released for the furnishing of the new headquarters of the ministry when works on the construction of the building was yet to be completed.
Likewise, members fumed that N1,506,009,963 released for installation of new mission/mission/headquarters communication equipment from the 2008 budget was not properly accounted for.

However, the Minister of State explained that the of new mission/mission/headquarters communication equipment contract for which N2.175 billion was appropriated for had been certified by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
Questions were raised over the sum of N63.5 million earmarked for Conakry/Guinea mission; N159.055 million released for Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso and N63.5 million released for Sao Tome mission.

The Committee expressed disgust over the administration of the ministry that had left most foreign nations in state of disrepair, particularly in New York, where the Nigeria House had been certified as not fit for habitation and had been marked for demolition.
Also in the 2008 budget, the committee wanted an explanation on the sum of N50million paid as school fees for children of only seven staff in one mission and the sum of N175million for the purchase of cars, which could not be found.

Bature warned that the House would not hesitate to invoke its powers to get anybody who should appear before the committee to do so, noting that the Foreign Affairs minister must have concluded assignments related to the crisis in Guinea.
He promised the cartel that had held the ministry down hell, stressing that the report of the committee on the budget defence would expose the rottenness in the ministry.

Lagos doctors suspend strike

The Medical Guild, umbrella body of all Lagos State employed doctors has suspended its strike for 90 days (3 months) to give the government time to fulfill its promise of implementing their demands

The guild had on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike to protest some loopholes in hospital administration in the state, which include welfare of doctors, poor salaries and non-payment of salary arrears since January 2007.

The strike, which lasted three days, brought to a halt clinical services in Lagos State owned hospitals with few consultants and Head of Departments rendering skeletal services.

Speaking with Daily Sun, Secretary of the association, Dr. Maruf Agara, said: “Due to intervention of well meaning Lagosians and Nigerians at large which include the ex-governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, we have decided to suspend the strike for 90 days to watch the government fulfill their promise of implementing our demands.

“At the end of 90 days, we will reconvene. If members of the Guild are not satisfied with the implementation of our demands, whatever they say, will be binding on all of us.

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola and former governor of the state, had on Tuesday appealed to the striking doctors to embrace dialogue and return to work.