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    International Women’s Day: Hon. Abike Dabiri, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Tara Durotoye, Others to Speak at Lead Generation Initiative’s Virtual Conference

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    The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Nigeria’s former Education Minister, a former aspirant in the 2019 Presidential election and Senior Economic Adviser, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and Mrs. Tara Fela-Durotoye, founder, House of Tara will be lead speakers at the Lead Generation Initiative (LGI)’s Virtual Conference coming up on Monday 8th March 2021.

    The virtual conference, which is part of the LGI’s activities to mark 2021 International Women’s Day, themed #ChooseToChallenge, aims to celebrate, educate and encourage young women across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

    Similarly, the virtual conference is part of the numerous programmes of the Lead Generation Initiative Women’s Leadership Development Programme (WLDP), which is designed to raise gender equality awareness, celebrate women’s achievements, inspire and encourage women to get involved in the country’s socio-political process, leadership and governance.

    The event will be hosted by the Executive Director of the LGI, Chief (Mrs.) Ayobola Abiola Peller, and will be anchored by a prominent TV personality, Mrs. Morayo Afolabi-Brown, the host of a popular television programme, Your View, on Television Continental (TVC).

    Furthermore, while Dr. Ezekwesili will deliver a keynote speech on the topic – “Choosing to Challenge: Empowering Women for National Development”, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Orewa will speak on the topic – “Women in Leadership”. Mrs. Durotoye will also speak on the topic, Starting and Running a Successful Business in Nigeria: the Opportunities for Young Ladies.

    In the same vein, the conference will witness three-panel sessions with four panelists for each, where participants will have the opportunity to join any of the breakout sessions in their areas of interest choosing between Business, Politics, or Corporate Organizations.

    The topics under discussions during the three-panel sessions will be:

    *Navigating the waters of politics*

    *A Woman’s World is the Business World*

    *Climbing the Corporate/Organizational Ladder*

    Some of the expected panelists at the event are Hajia Umma Getso, Hon. Mrs. Stella Okotete, Member APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (Women Rep), Hon. Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu, Hon. Taiwo Oluga, Chairman, House Committee Women in  Parliament, Edem Ossai, Hajia Zariyatu Hashidu, CEO of Wildan Care Foundation, Dr. Morenike Basharu CEO of Dewia Options, Damilola Olokesusi, Farida Yahya, Founder Lumo Natura, and others.

    Commendably, another outstanding part of the event will be LGI empowering 12 young women across the six geo-political zones of the country with a business grant of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) each, and another set of six young women with fifty thousand naira (N50,000) each during the event.

    While the first 12 beneficiaries would be selected to win a business proposal grant of N100,000 each where participants are required to make a two-minute pitch video of their business or business ideas, the remaining six beneficiaries will be selected from the essay writing competition where participants are required to write essays on the topics discussed within the three breakout sessions.

    In the same vein, as part of its Women’s Leadership Development Programme, LGI is sponsoring two participants to attend the Global Women Leadership & Governance Summit by the Geofidel Institute for Gender Studies. Winners of the award will attend a one-week-long training on “Advanced Women Leadership Summit: Preparing Women for Board Service” from the week commencing 8th March 2021. Two women candidates will be selected based on the merit of their passion for leadership.

    Mba – A Genius Of The Whistle At 80

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    By Paul Bassey

     I got this message.

     “Paulo please remember to pray for me on Monday 08 March, I will be 80.  I will be attending a Thanksgiving Holy Mass.  Unfortunately you will be in Warri.

     This is quintessential Linus Mba.  Humility personified, a man married to the whistle, the best Nigerian referee alive.

     80? Yes Eighty and your expression changes because he does not look it.  No, he does not.

     However a brief peep at the compressed biography of this father of two forces one to believe that he has seen it all.

     In an interview granted The Nation Newspaper four years ago, he was referred to as a man with “naked enthusiasm and puritanical devotion.”

     Mr. Linus Mba epitomizes the best in Nigerian refereeing through hard work, devotion and uncanny love for the profession.

     Born on March 08 1941 in Enugu, Mr. Linus Mba was introduced to the whistle at St. Theresa’s College Nsuka after Reverend Father William Butler “rescued” him from neglect by his colleagues who ostracized him for not being useful either as an outfield player or a goalkeeper.

     “…He called me to his office and handed me the Laws of the Game and that launched my interest in refereeing right from secondary school.”

     The young Linus then joined the Nigeria Referees Association Onitsha and continued his passion until he went in search of the golden fleece in London where he bagged B.Sc (Hon) Applied Economics and Diploma in Journalism at the Regent Polytechnic London, where he was also trained by the London Football Association (1969 – 1972) up to the semi professional cadre in 1976.

     He returned to Nigeria in 1976 and till 1990 was assigned the best and the toughest of matches including two Challenge Cup finals – Shooting Stars Ibadan and Sharks of Port Harcourt in 1974 and Abiola Babes Abeokuta versus Ranchers Bees Kaduna in 1976.

     By 1984, young Linus Mba was badged by FIFA and defended the badge till 1990 when he retired.

     It will be difficult attempting to chronicle the life and times of Mr. Linus Mba in a tribute, but we cannot fail to mention that he was a member of the Executive Board of the NFA from 1992 – 1996, Chairman Referees Committee 1992 – 1996, and represented Nigeria in the 1994 FIFA Congress in Chicago, USA.

     Was a CAF referees instructor since 1996 and Member CAF Referees Committee from 2002 – 2012.

     Mr. Mba has served as FIFA Referees Instructor from 2005 till date, appointed a FIFA Technical Adviser on Refereeing from 2008 till date, only two of them in Africa, the other being Neji Jouini of Tunisia.

     The Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly referees magazine the Whistle, sees this as a pet project very close to his heart.

     “…Since 2014, even during the period of the Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown, we got the magazine going, geared towards constantly updating referees and assistant referees on evolving changes in modern refereeing…”

     Circulated in over thirty African Member Association’s Referees Committees as well as to FIFA and CAF, the latest edition got rave revues from Mr. Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF, his first Vice Barrister Akinwumi, Chairman of the Referees Committee Dr. Sharif Inuwa Ahlan, Secretary General NFF Dr. Mohammed Sausi, Chairman NRA Alhaji Tade Azeez among others.

     CAF Referees Manager Eddy Maillet, FIFA referees member Anyan Lim Kee Chong and the Chairman CAF Referees Committee the Rwandan Celestin Ntugangira also penned commendation for the whistle magazine.

     If you ask the father of two what he considers his greatest achievement, he will say “all achievements are great… but I cherish the progress we have made as a country.  The quality of International referees, the training of Assessors to monitor referees instead of the traditional Match Commissioners, in brief the re-organization of the structure and machinery of technical development of refereeing in Nigeria.”

     This reservoir of technical information and data on refereeing in Nigeria and by Nigerians at both national and international levels, prides himself as never receiving bribe in whatever form when he was active as a referee.  “No regrets.  I walk tall.  I never did.  I may not have been popular for that but I thank God that my reputation is intact and am happier today for it…”

     A Central Bank of Nigeria Research Officer, Journalist with Business Times, Public Relations Officer, later Export Manager Volkswagen Nigeria, this widely travelled icon remembers vividly his refereeing exploits in Africa, including the Africa Cup of Champions Semi Final tie between Zamalek of Egypt and FAR of Morocco in 1985.

     What is the secret of longevity of this CAF/FIFA Assessor and Match Commissioner?

     “Grace of God.  Simple and straightforward life.  Honesty and service to humanity.  I keep my mind free of all stress and deceit…”

     For yours truly a friendship spanning over 30 years, a celebration of professionalism, hard work and dedication.

     Today a legend of the whistle clocks 80 and is still counting.

     HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAZI!

    SESC President Salutes Women on International Women’s Day

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    The President of the Super Eagles Supporters Club Prince Vincent Okumagba felicitates with women of the club in Nigeria and diaspora on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

    “We celebrate the accomplishments and leadership of women in SESC and around the world, and recommit ourselves to moving forward to a future in which everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

    We all have women in our lives who inspire us every day.

    we celebrate SESC women leaders who challenge norms, lift up other women and girls, and change our country for the better. 

    “Among those women leaders, we have Mrs Catherine Edum Cross Rivers Chapter Chairman. She is recognized for her selfless service to the club and her immediate environment.

     Blessing Nwanolue, Welfare Officer of SESC, she goes the extra length to ensure members are okay.

    In our homes, in our communities, and in our workplaces, everyone has a role to play to make real and lasting gender equality a reality.

     None of us can move forward if half of us are held back. I encourage all SESC members, Nigerians  to celebrate women’s achievements”.

    Happy International Women’s Day.

    Wikki Tourist – Kwara United Stalemate: We Have Ourselves to Blame – Abd’Allah

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    Wikki Tourists FC Technical Adviser Usman Abd’Allah Shariff has blamed the entire team for the one-one draw against Kwara United on Matchday 14 of the Nigeria Professional Football League Season played in Bauchi, Sunday, March 7, 2021.

    Shariff disclosed this in an interview with the media team of the Club.

    He said the game could have finished in the first half off the numerous scoring chances that came Wikki Tourists way were utilized.

    We have to blame ourselves for squandering the changes that were ought to have been converted to goals by the attack, Shariff complained.

    The Wikki gaffer also said his defense line was porous in the match but was quick to single out his goalkeeper for doing a good job.

    I have to confess that the performance of my goalkeeper Nwabali was outstanding, and I commend him for that, Shariff said.

    The Coach assured me that something drastic will be done to correct the situation

    Wikki Tourists FC has so far played three home draws in the 14weeksk old 20/21 Nigeria Professional Football League Season NPFL 20/21.

    The team’s next game will be against Warri Wolves next Sunda,y March 14, 2021 at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa stadium, Bauchi.

    NPFL Wk14: Katsina United Holds Sunshine Stars to a Goalless Draw

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    Sunshine Stars hold Katsina United to a goalless draw in NPFL matmatchday meeting at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Sunday.

    Having endured an underwhelming run of results during a jinx February, the result was the least the Owena Whales were hoping for in their first outing in March, to spark a change of fortune from the new month.

    It was an end-to-end start as both sides dared to grab an early advantage with Waheed Adebayo first to have a crack at goal, drawing a save from the keeper with a fierce shot inside the area after 17 minutes of play.

    Two minutes later the hosts responded with an off-target goalmouth from Sunshine Stars’ were waiting for an offside call that was never made.

    That was followed up by a succession of failed onslaughts at goal thanks to good defensive pressure and brave goalkeeping from Uche Okafor who saved the visitors from close range.

    YouThe young fielder, Habib Yakub almost secured a breakthrough for Sunshine Stars with a well-taken free-kick sailed just wide just before the hall half-hour.

    Then in the 43′ Okafor tipped over from another free-kick the other end to ensure the coach Gbenga Ogunbote tinkered side does not trail at the interval.

    The second half saw a similar end-to-end pattern to the first.

    Tolu Oluwole could have handed the visitors a match-defining moment when he left his marker for dead but slipped while moving through on goal in the 63′.

    Though Okafor and his defenders were kept busy in the closing stages, neither side could conjure a match-winner. Sunshine Stars returned from the Northeast with a share of the spoils.

    Sunshine Star’s Ogunbote

    “One point on the road is not a bad one, we would have loved it to be three but be it as it may, it waswasn’tfruitless journey.

    February we never pray to come back again, it was a blind one but thank God we are starting (the new month) with a draw on the road. We pray we will be able to manage the success by consolidating on it at home”.

    Sunshine Stars host Nasarawa United in Akure on matmatchday.

    Sunshine Stars XI | Okafor; Akobundu, Akande, Abisoye, Adeniyi (C), (Ogonna 80′), Adeyemi, Yakub, Yusuf (Temitope 65′, Agba 80′), Adebayo (Ajani 65′), Oluwole, Olulayo

    Unused Substitute | Ayodele; Abe, Oladuntoye, Obanigba, Adejubu

    CAUTIONS | Adebayo 61′ Adeyemi 82′

    NPFL Wk14: Rivers United Over Powers Jigawa Golden Stars

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    A goal in each half was enough to see off a spirited Jigawa Golden Stars side at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium.

    Sochi Victor kept Jigawa GS in the game during the first half, saving well from Cletus Emotan and the returning Fortune Omoniwari, but the game was flipped on its head just before the 20th-minute mark.

    Godwin Aguda headed in a superb opening goal from a near-perfect cross from Konan Ruffin in the 17th minute before Cletus Emotan made sure of the points when he fired in a shot just after the restart of the second half.

    Jigawa Golden Stars started well, with the beautiful interchange of passes but they were a bit poor in the final third as the defense marshaled by the captain on the day Kunle Odunlami dispelled any threat.

    Godwin Aguda forced a good diving save from Sochi Victor midway through the first half, while Rivers United’s best chance in the opening exchanges was a charged-down Nelson Esor’s shot.

    The visitors tried to dictate the pace of the game even after conceding two goals, but on the hour mark, things went from bad to worse as Giwa Lawal was sent off for a second bookable offense.

    Sissoko Soulaymane and Malachi Ohawume were introduced to add extra attacking threat, but the priority was earning the three points – and the ‘Pride of Rivers’ at the final whistle were able to celebrate a sixth successive home win.

    Rivers United will next be the guest of FC Ifeanyi Ubah on Sunday in Nnewi for the week 15 game

    Principal’s Cup MOC Unveils Competition Format

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    Organizers of the recently revived Principal’s cup competition for Secondary Schools in the country, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development have unveiled the format for the competition which would run from the states to the zones,  culminating in the finals billed for Abuja.

    According to the Chairman of the Organizing committee  Dr. Ademola  Are, ” all is now set for the states, zonal and grand finale of the revived  National  Principal’s  Cup. The States finals would run from March 8th- 12th, with four teams per State, State champions will proceed to the zonal finals across the Six geopolitical zones from March 18th- 22nd, while the national final takes place from April 1st- 4th in Abuja.

    We are working round the clock to ensure a hitch-free competition. The NSSF, ANCOPSS & YSFON, are  working
    with the Main organizing committee to  stage a seamless competition”

    According  to the President  of the Nigerian School Sports Federation  Mrs *Olabisi Joseph* ” The final fixtures  would be unveiled  on Monday, March 8th when all the states would have put in all  their entries.”
    Twenty-two events will be competed for in Athletics with 44 athletes expected per State in Football,  Athletics, and Table Tennis. Already, the NSSF state chapters have registered more than 132 schools from 33 States for the competition, and more are still coming. We want to achieve success in this competition,  so the rules of eligibility will be strictly adhered to.

    The Ceremonial flag -of the competition took place on 26th February 2021 at the Agege Stadium,  Lagos with Igbobi  College, Lagos, and Government  College, Kaduna playing to a pulsating  1- 1 draw.
    Three events, Football,  Table Tennis, and  Athletics will be competed for.

    I Won’t Celebrate Goal Against Warri Wolves – Charles Atshimene

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    By Mfon Patrick

    Akwa United striker Charles Atshimene says he will not celebrate if he scores against his former club, Warri Wolves, on Monday when both sides clash on Match-day 14 of the current 2020/2021 NPFL season.

    The striker joined the Promise Keepers from his hometown club, Warri Wolves at the start of this season and has scored three goals for his new club thus far.

    Atshimene, in an exclusive interview with the club’s official website and promised to exhibit professional conduct before, during, and after the match against his former club.

    “It will be a special moment for me if I’m selected to represent Akwa United against my former team Warri Wolves on Monday. I’m a professional footballer, so I know how to handle this type of situation. At the moment, I’m an Akwa United player and my job is to contribute to the success of the team.

    “Although I’m from Warri, and Warri Wolves gave me my first professional contract as a footballer, I will have to do my job if selected to play but as a mark of respect to my former team, if I score against them, I will not celebrate the goal(s).

    “My family, friends, and fans in Warri are happy that I’m playing for Akwa United and I know many of them would have loved to come and watch me play but because NPFL matches are now played behind closed doors, they may not have the opportunity of watching me play, so I will do my best and give my all”.

    Charles Atshimene scored six goals for Warri Wolves last season before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic which truncated the league.

    Atshimene is in Coach Kennedy Boboye’s 20-man Match-day squad to Ozoro for the clash which will be played on Monday afternoon.

    Last season, Akwa United was held to a 1-1 draw by Warri Wolves on the opening day of the season and the second leg in Uyo also ended with the same scoreline.

    Akwa United, 5th on the NPFL table with 22 points from 13 games, has picked five points from their previous six away games while 19th placed Warri Wolves have dropped the same number of points in six home matches so far this season.

    Coach Boboye may likely stick with the bulk of the team which thrashed Rivers United in Uyo on Match-day 13, and victory for the two-time Federation champions will be their seventh of the campaign and their second away from home this season.

    The Promise Keepers have solved their goal scoring challenges having netted 16 times in 13 games with dependable striker Ndifreke Effiong leading the team’s scorers chart with seven goals. Charles Atshimene and Mfon Udoh have three goals each while David Philip and Morice Chukwu have one goal each.

    SESC Plan Big for Super Eagles Double Header, Inducts New Members

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    By Wole Opatola

    It was all glitz and glamour as the Super Eagles Supporters Club on Saturday inducted new members into the club as all attention shifts back to the African Cup of Nations qualifiers coming up later this month with the Super Eagles fighting for a ticket to Cameroun 2022.

    The foremost football supporters club in the land, largely inactive in the last one year due to the covid-19 pandemic which paralyzed sporting activities across the globe, decided to seize the opportunity not only to welcome back the president, Prince Vincent Okumagba who was caught up in Canada during the lockdown after a family visit but to also bring in some new members after a thorough screening of personality and interest by a special committee led by Elder Folorunsho Ologunye.

    The highlight of the day was the induction of Victor Nwaribeaku the CEO of VCN Sports, as a patron of SESC upon which the foremost sports equipment dealer declared his delight at joining the club by immediately donating the sum of one million naira to fund the club’s preparation for the trip to Port Novo to support the Super Eagles away to the Benin Republic and the game at home to Lesotho in Lagos.

    The BOT chairman of the club, Honourable Oladejo Rasheed, Chairman Liberty Pools at the end of the occasion, expressed his happiness at the turn out of family, friends, and well-wishers of the club, promising to always give his backing to the club physically and financially as his way of contributing to the growth of football in the country.

    The highly publicized event took place at the club’s secretariat inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium with health officials from Topsee Hospital on the ground to give free medical tests to all members and also provide assistance in ensuring compliance to the strict covid-19 guidelines on social gatherings by the federal and state government.

    Celebrating Nigeria PILLAR OF Sports, Donatus Ejidike, Who is a Year Older Today

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    The sports family in Nigeria is united this day in celebrating a man who has lived his entire life, supporting and promoting sportsmen and women. A man who has invested so much into building capacity among Nigeria youths from all walks of life.

    Chief Donatus Ejidike, is a man of many parts. An indigene of Nnewi in Eastern Nigeria who has spent a better part of his life in Ilorin the Kwara state capital where he has immensely touched the lives of everyone that crosses his part

    Recognized philanthropists, an astute businessman a loyal and committed family man, and one of the very few destabilized Nigerians still standing, chief Ejidike has maintained a steady profile in sports sponsorship and that explains why to date, he is the undisputed Nigeria Pillar of sports, a position he is not willing to relinquish in the foreseeable future as he pledges to continuously offer his widow’s mite in supporting sportsmen and women to win laurels for Nigeria at international sporting meets.

    He is one of the very first sets of Nigerian businessmen who volunteered to sponsor an athlete in the ADOPT AN ATHLETE initiative put together by the Sports ministry ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.

    His passion for sports did not start yesterday, he was chairman of the Kwara state Gymnastics federation between 2008 and 2011 and has won several awards from recognised organizations and well-meaning Nigerians because of his selfless service to humanity and his investments in Nigerian youths.

    His emergence as Pillar of sports didn’t come as a surprise to many, knowing the huge impact he has made as a key stakeholder.

    On this auspicious day of his birthday, the Nigeria sports mouthpiece celebrates an icon, a friend of the media, a motivator, and a businessman with deep foresight. We join all key stakeholders in Wishing him long life in good health. We pray that God in his mercy will grant him the grace to continue to impact humanity for as long as he can. God bless chief Donatus Ejidike.