January 15, 2009

Manchester United Go Second After Wigan Win A first minute strike by Wayne Rooney was enough for Manchester United to claim victory against Wigan Athl

Manchester United welcomed Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford, hoping for the win that would see them leapfrog Chelsea and close to within just two points of league leaders Liverpool.

Yet the reigning champions had to cope without both Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand due to injury, with John O’Shea and Jonny Evans deputising in defence.

Steve Bruce’s Wigan, meanwhile, arrived at Old Trafford in the knowledge they had never beaten the Red Devils, yet on a current hot streak that had seen them win six of their last seven games and move into seventh place in the table.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men began the game in determined mood and it took them less than a minute to open the scoring.

Newly crowned FIFA World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo crossing from the right for Wayne Rooney to sweep past Chris Kirkland to give the home side the perfect start.

It was to be the striker’s most meaningful contribution of the match as minutes later, he hobbled off to be replaced by Carlos Tevez.

Indeed Tevez almost doubled United’s lead just shy of the half hour mark. A poor kick by Chris Kirkland was headed to the Argentinean by John O’Shea and although he rounded the Wigan goalkeeper he couldn’t capitalise.

Yet the home side couldn’t add to their lead and Wigan looked dangerous at times; Ryan Taylor having their best chance of the first half however he wasted the opportunity by firing over when well-placed.

The visitors grew into the game after the break with Maynor Figueroa, Wigan’s match winner against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, sending a warning to the home side with a firm shot that was just too close to Van der Sar to trouble the United keeper.

In stark contrast, United were looking flat and far from the side that cruised past Chelsea at the weekend.

With time running out Steve Bruce replaced Amr Zaki with Henri Camara as the visitors began to pile on the pressure as they sought an equaliser.

Yet with five minutes to remaining, United might have made the game safe. The home side finally got their passing game moving with Ronaldo finding Berbatov whose curling shot flew inches wide of Kirkland’s goal.

Wigan continued to press in the final minutes but the champions who had been well below-par, held on to claim a vital three points that sees them move ominously into second place in the Premier League.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Evans, O’Shea, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes (Fletcher, 85), Nani (Anderson, 59), Berbatov, Rooney (Tevez, 7)

Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole (Kapo, 88), Taylor (De Ridder, 80), Heskey, Zaki (Camara, 75)


1-0 Manchester United (Rooney, 1)

Why EFCC, ICPC should probe Obasanjo – Oshiomhole

Edo State Governor, Mr Adams Oshiomhole

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, on Wednesday said that recent disclosures about the award of oil blocks and the $16bn allegedly spent on the power sector between 1999 and 2007 were enough grounds for the investigation former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Oshiomhole, who also alleged that corruption thrived more in the Presidency during Obasanjo’s eight-year in office than in state Government Houses, said the fact that the former President was not under probe indicated that he still enjoyed immunity.

He spoke at the 6th Annual Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja where a former Secretary of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and an erswhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Masari, called for electoral process that would guarantee the rights of voters.

The governor, in a veiled call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission to go after Obasanjo, said there was “abundant evidence that some of our rulers ‘ate‘ while in office.”

Oshiomhole, whose paper was titled ”Democracy: Restoring Faith in Politics,” said, ”With the disclosures about large-scale corruption under the last administration such as the $16bn power sector scandal and abuses in the allocation of oil blocks, the former President is still not being investigated to the best of our knowledge, which indicates that even out of office, the system still confers immunity on him.

“The real challenge, therefore, is to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies and encourage them to overcome their apparent self-imposed restraint and official control.”

He lamented the “blatant nature” of corruption and its celebration in Nigeria, saying it was responsible for the erosion of public confidence in politics, democracy and governance.

Oshiomhole said, ”For instance, in a well-publicised confrontation with the late Chief Bola Ige, Chief S.M. Afolabi had said, and I quote, ‘Look at somebody we have called to come and eat, and he is busy abusing the party that rescued him.’

”There is abundant evidence that some of our rulers actually ‘ate‘ while in office at all levels.

“For instance, how else can we explain the transformation of a near-bankrupt proprietor (Obasanjo) of an insolvent farm into the proud owner of a private university and a large expanse of farmlands in all the geo-political zones of the country.

” The same man owns land and real estates in choice locations, other lucrative investments by proxy and a sprawling library complete with a five-star hotel openly funded by agencies of the government and beneficiaries of contracts, waivers, joint venture agreements and other forms of patronage.”

According to Oshiomhole, the damage that corruption has done to the country was responsible for the renewed debate for the removal of immunity clause from the 1999 Constitution.

He, however, argued that the fight against corruption was beyond removing the immunity clause.

The governor said, ”But the most compelling argument, which I am persuaded to adopt in toto, is that a hostile Federal Government, using federal law enforcement agencies, could abuse the removal of the immunity clause by harassing governors who are opposed to him whether they are in opposition parties or, indeed, his own party.

”Many Nigerians, including governors, may be comfortable with the removal of the immunity clause with a more civil, tolerant and broad-minded leader.”

Oshiomhole also said the last administration focused on governors in the fight against corruption whereas the Presidency had a lot to account for.

He said, ”To cap it all, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFCC chairman had disclosed, although without providing the evidence, that 24 serving governors had amassed so much at the expense of the people, but could not be prosecuted because of their immunity.

“Yet, Transparency International in a report towards the end of the tenure of the last administration had disclosed that 60 per cent of the corruption in the Nigerian system was domiciled in the Presidency.

”Therefore, if some of the governors were the proverbial 40 thieves, many will readily argue, based on the Transparency International report and other disclosures of corrupt enrichment, that the former President could be regarded as the Ali Baba, who had, skillfully managed to re-direct the focus from himself.”

He submitted that Nigerians would continue to lose faith in the polity because of the gap between what is promised by the rulers and the reality on the ground.

”In contrast to the abject living conditions of the people is the manifest offensive opulence of their rulers, which arises largely from the huge costs expended on office holders at the expense of the people,” he added.

Anyaoku, who was the chairman of the occasion, said that Nigerians could only have faith in the electoral process if there was a guarantee that their votes were important.

He implored politicians to avoid the winner-takes-all syndrome and the government to be transparent in conducting its affairs.

In his presentation, Masari recommended stiff penalties for those who engage in electoral malpractices.

According to him, when those involved in electoral malpractices go unpunished, the cycle of electoral fraud would remain with Nigeria for a long time.

He said, ”The 2007 elections left a terrible taste in the mouth of all Nigerians of conscience and the performance of Independent National Electoral Commission could be classified as the worst since 1923 when we started conducting election in this country following the provisions of the Clifford Constitution of 1922.”

Dignitaries at the occasion included Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State; his counterpart in Gombe State , Alhaji Danjuma Goje; and Etsu of Lapai, Alhaji Umaru Bago III.

Milan Set To Accept Manchester City's Kaka Bid - Report It's all up to the Selecao superstar now as the Rossoneri cave in to City's massive spending p

UK tabloid The Daily Mail claims that AC Milan will accept Manchester City's €110 million offer for Brazilian superstar Kaka.

Mark Hughes, the Sky Blues boss, chose to chase to 26-year-old after the club's Arab investors handed him a short-list of January targets that also included Lionel Messi, David Villa and John Terry.

The former FIFA World Player of the Year's agent revealed recently that talks were underway between the two clubs, and that it was "not impossible" that a deal could be completed this month.

However, the player himself has been quoted this week as saying that he wants to remain at the San Siro for many years yet, even though he hopes to experience Premier League football at some stage in his career.

City are prepared to make Kaka the best-paid player on the planet, with reports suggesting that wages of €82 million over five years are on offer.

But while the former Sao Paulo star is uninterested in money - or so he and his agent claim, in any case - he hasn't ruled out the move entirely, according to The Sun.

Britain's top tabloid reports that Kaka could yet sign on at City, provided they agree to insert a series of get-out clauses in his contract.

Under his terms, the Rossoneri hero will only join the Eastlands outfit if the following promises are made: Shiekh Mansour and Abu Dhabi United Group keep control of the club; City qualify for the Champions League within the next two seasons; his representatives retain his image rights; and Robinho is not sold.

Paper talk at best, but it will be interesting to see how this burgeoning saga unfolds. Let's hope it's more entertaining thna the Cristiano Ronaldo-Real Madrid affair...

Gossip Girl Stars Wanted by Office Funnyman!

Chace Crawford, watch out! That goes for you too, Blake Lively!

Office star Rainn Wilson wants to kiss both of you.

After presenting at the Golden Globes with Lively on Sunday, Wilson told me he'd welcome a gig on Gossip Girl—especially a smooched-filled storyline. But with whom? "Either Chace or Blake," said Wilson. "They have really nice names on that show."

Read on for more scoopage straight from the mouths of some of your favorite stars, like which raven-haired beauty is looking to do a Broadway musical with James Marsden and why Kevin Connolly's dispensing love talk.

• Amy Adams has dreams of reuniting with her Enchanted costar James Marsden—in a Broadway musical. "Hopefully," she said, "I could do Pal Joey with Jimmy Marsden!"

• Being one of the stars of the upcoming movie adaptation of self-help bestseller He's Just Not That Into You, Kevin Connolly finds his friends now thinking he's an expert in love. "I am getting a lot of questions about how to handle certain situations," he said. "I always refer them to the book."

• British babe and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz may not be an American citizen, but that doesn't mean she's not going to be watching the Inauguration. "Rachel's very excited," said her Brooklyn-bred hubby, The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky. "It's weird for her, because this isn't her country and she can't vote, but she thinks it's a victory for every single person on the planet."

• Jessica Capshaw insists Grey's Anatomy bigwigs are paying attention to the recent criticism of the hit ABC doctor drama. "They're very responsive and very excited about their fans," said Capshaw, who joined the series this season as a new doc at Seattle Grace Hospital. "I think they listen to them, and I think that should something not be working out, they hear that."

Let's hope so!

Yar’Adua admits impact of financial meltdown on Nigeria

President Umaru Yar‘Adua on Wednesday admitted that the impact of the global financial meltdown was already noticeable in Nigeria and warned ministers that they must deliver visible results in 2009.

Yar’Adua said this in Abuja while addressing the ministers at the first Federal Executive Council meeting, which also marked the maiden outing by some of the new members of his cabinet.

Declining national revenue, sharp fall in the value of shares, and the continuing crash of the naira against foreign currencies, according to the President, are some of the major indicators that the global crisis is already affecting Nigeria.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, had at the 2008 Bankers’ Dinner in Lagos on December 5, 2008 said that Nigeria was insulated from the global financial meltdown.

Soludo had said, “The reason why we will not have a recession is simple, we have enough idle capital waiting to be put into productive use. Our growth rate is still driven essentially by peasant agriculture which was largely decoupled from the global problems.”

But Yar‘Adua said it was time to rise up to the global challenge and to deliver on his administration‘s promises, particularly as 2009 marked the mid-point in the life of his administration.

He told the FEC members that the government needed to double its efforts in the face of the global financial meltdown.

The President noted that “no time” could be more challenging for the government than now.

Admitting the enormity of the problems facing the Federal Government as a result of the global crisis, he said, “This year marks the beginning of our second full year in office and the mid-point of this administration.

“It also coincides with the time of profound economic worries in the world. The world‘s leading economies are in the grip of recession and the fear of a global contagion is becoming real.

“Already, we can feel the impact from falling oil prices, the declining exchange rate of the naira and the cascading prices of shares at the capital market.

“We are thus starting the year amidst persistent push and pull of both local and global realities.”

He went ahead to set agenda for the ministers in line with the challenges posed by the global recession.

Yar’Adua said, “We are saddled with the twin task of maintaining macro-economic stability in an environment of global economic meltdown, thus delivering shared prosperity to our citizens in the face of dwindling national revenues.

“No time can be more challenging but no time can be more auspicious for true leadership.

“The challenges of the moment come with opportunity to prove ourselves, dig deep into ourselves for the best we can offer and give full vent to our creative energies to lay a lasting foundation for the transformation of our country and for the wellbeing of the generality of our people.

“There is no better moment to rededicate ourselves to the urgent task of repositioning our country.

“There is no better time to recommit ourselves to imperative of meeting the mounting aspiration of our people and there is no better point to start redeeming our pledges of delivering good governance on the platform of the seven-point agenda.

“This is the time for action and visible results.

“It is the time for exemplary sacrifices in service; it is the time for unparalleled dedication and innovation. It is the time to make the lasting difference, nothing else will do.

“We must all put our hands to the plough with renewed vigour. This, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is our sacred call to duty.”

While stressing his confidence in the abilities of the ministers, the President said they must prove themselves to Nigerians, who have been anticipating the dividends of democracy from government.

Hinting that there would be no excuses, Yar‘Adua told the ministers that the challenges of the moment meant that it was not time for an extended learning course.

“As a group carefully chosen to help revitalise the executive team, so much is expected of you. I am personally convinced that you are up to the task but all Nigerians need to be quickly convinced too,” the President said.

“This is not the time for an extended learning course; all of us, both old and new, need to be fully aware of the significance of the moment,” he added.

Welcoming the council members earlier, he had said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the first council meeting of the year 2009.

“After the festivities and the break, it is my sincere hope that everyone is rejuvenated for the huge task ahead and to be sure that there is a lot of work to be done.

“For some of you, this is also your first council meeting following your swearing-in. Once again accept my warm welcome and well wishes on your well-deserved appointment.”

$350B bailout: Senate vote looms Reid says senators will vote Thursday on measure, led by Republicans opposed to TARP, seeking to block the second hal

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A Senate fight looms Thursday over President-elect Barack Obama's attempt to secure the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Wednesday night that the Senate would vote on a resolution that seeks to block the release of $350 billion.

A senior Democratic leadership aide told CNN that party leaders are hopeful they have enough votes to kill the resolution but conceded they did not know for sure.

President Bush, acting on behalf of Obama, sent Congress a formal request on Monday to release the second $350 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to the Treasury Department.

Eight Republican senators, led by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Wednesday they would do all they could to prevent Treasury from getting the remaining TARP funds.

"We should not give another administration a carte-blanche to do anything it wants, which is what TARP has become," Vitter said.

Under the bailout legislation approved by Congress in October, unless Congress passes a joint resolution rejecting the request within 15 days, Treasury can begin tapping the funds. Obama has vowed he would veto a resolution denying him the funds.

Several key Democrats who had earlier stated their displeasure with the handling of the first $350 billion are now changing their tune, saying they will honor the incoming Obama administration's request.

"I agree that the money should be made available under the appropriate condition," House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said Monday. "We should not allow our disappointment at the Bush administration's poor handling of the TARP program to prevent the Obama administration from using the funds in more appropriate ways."

Frank authored a bill, which he hopes will pass the House this week, that sets conditions for the use of the funds, including foreclosure mitigation and improved oversight.

Vitter acknowledged that garnering enough votes may be difficult.

"Clearly our effort is uphill, it's a challenge," he said. "But passing this resolution of disapproval is a prerequisite for any of those [TARP modification] efforts to move forward in a meaningful way."

In the House, Republican congressmen on Wednesday also voiced their opposition to the release of the remaining $350 billion, arguing that the first half had been poorly handled with a lack of oversight.

"Until I know how we spent it, why we spent it and where it is and how it's going to be paid back, I think it'd be irresponsible for me to vote for the next $350 billion," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The matter might not make it to the House, however. This disapproval resolution is not allowed to be filibustered, so it only needs a simple majority, 51 votes, to be defeated.

If the resolution is defeated in the Senate, Obama's request for the money will automatically go through, since the law says both houses of Congress must pass disapproval measures to stop the bailout funds from being released.