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Nigerian newspapers headlines Friday morning



Obaseki, Shaibu Take Oath Of Office For 2nd Term [LEADERSHIP]

The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu, yesterday took oaths of office for their second term with a reassurance of their commitment to continue to develop and protect the common interests of all Edo citizens.

Obaseki said that he would not only explore the huge potential in the state but also ensure that the state develops and improve its digital economy and operates a digital government before 2025.

He spoke after being administered the oath of office for another four years by the chief judge of the state, Esther Edigin, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.

At the ceremony were Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, the deputy governor of Rivers State, Mrs. Ipalibo Harry and the vice chairman of PDP South-South, Chief Dan Orbih.

Others were the chief of staff to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Oghiadomhe, a former PDP governorship aspirant, Ken Imansuagbon and Edobor Iyamu, a senior aide in the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who represented the vice president.

“What you, my dear people of Edo State, achieved with the September 19 governorship election is the restoration of confidence in democracy and its institutions, and we have become a point of reference on how the will of the people can triumph in a democracy that functions properly.

“My re-election represents a new hope and I see myself as a vessel in the redefinition of democracy in Nigeria and I am not unaware that this places enormous responsibility on me.

“It is pertinent to state that there are many sides to the victory we are relishing today. Aside from the fact that it restores hope in democracy as a form of participatory government, our victory also offers an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between a challenged past and a promising future,” Obaseki said.

He continued: “Before 2025, Edo State will develop and grow its digital economy and operate a digital government. The digital government we are building will plug into the new digital age and would ensure we deliver better and efficient services to all our citizens.

“In realising our vision as reflected in the MEGA manifesto, we will focus on the following priorities areas: grow our social sector by constantly improving our education, healthcare system, provision of social security and safety nets, caring for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our state, rapidly develop our critical energy, housing, digital and road infrastructure, which provides a framework to drive inclusive growth, build the economy and drive industrialization, trade and investment to solidify our state’s status as the choice investment destination in the country,” he said.


PMB, Akufo-Addo Mourn Rawlings [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Ghanian counterpart, Nana Akufo-Addo has mourned former president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings.

The 73-year-old Ghanaian leader was reported to have died of COVID-19 complications at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra yesterday.

A military ruler, who later joined politics, Rawlings ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2001.

He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected president of Ghana.

As flight lieutenant of the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings first staged military coup as a young revolutionary on May 15, 1979, five weeks before scheduled elections to return the country to civilian rule.

When it failed, he was imprisoned, publicly court-martialed and sentenced to death.

After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on 31 December 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

He then resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first president of the Fourth Republic.

He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.

He was born on June 22, 1947.

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent heartfelt condolences to government and people of Ghana over the passing of the country’s former President, Jerry Rawlings, 73, affirming that the entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader.

President Buhari believes the passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond.

The president in a statement by his special adviser media, Femi Adesina noted, with commendation, the unique role the former president played in strengthening political institutions in his country and Africa, stimulating the economy for sustainable growth, and vociferously championing the African cause by urging many leaders to work towards interdependency on the global stage, especially in areas of competitive advantage.

President Buhari joined family, friends and associates of the former Ghanaian leader in mourning his departure, assuring that the ideas that Rawlings postulated, particularly for development in Africa, and his sacrifices in working in various countries as an envoy for peace and democracy will always be remembered.

The president prayed that the almighty God will grant the Ghanaian leader eternal rest, and comfort all his loved ones.

Ghana Begins 7-day National Mourning Over Rawlings Death

In the wake of the demise of the former president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, President Nana Akufo-Addo has declared seven days of national mourning in the country.

Announcing Rawlings’ death in a letter he signed and made available to the press, President Akufo-Addo said he has ordered that all Ghana’s national flags should fly at half-mast across the country.

The president also disclosed in the letter titled “President Akufo-Addo Announces the Death of Former President Jerry John Rawlings,” that he and his vice have suspended all political campaigns for the same period.

The letter read in parts: “It is with great sadness that I announce to the nation that the 1st President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, has joined his ancestors.

“This tragic event occurred at 10:10 am on Thursday, 12th November 2020, at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where the former President was receiving treatment, after a short illness.

“I convey the deep sympathies of government and the people of Ghana to his wife, the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children, and family of the late president, in these difficult times.

“I have directed that all national flags should fly at half-mast for the next seven (7) days in all parts of the country, and have declared seven days of national mourning from Friday, 13th November to Friday, 20th November.

“In honour of the memory of former President Rawlings, the Vice President and I have suspended our political campaigns for the same period.

“Government will work closely with the family of President Rawlings on the arrangements for a fitting State Funeral for the late President, and will keep the nation informed accordingly.

“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss.

“May his soul rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Almighty until the Last Day of the Resurrection when we shall meet again. Amen!”


Lawan, Buni, Kalu, others storm Sokoto [SUN]

Saturday, Novemeber 7, 2020 will remain memorable and evergreen in the minds of the people of Sokoto as political gladiators and leaders across the country converged on the seat of the caliphate for the wedding ceremony of the son of former Governor of Kebbi State and Senator representing Kebbi Central Senatorial District, Adamu Aliero, Suleiman and daughter of former Governor of Zamfara State and Senator representing Zamfara West Senatorial District, Ahmed Yerima, Fatima.

In attendance at the colourful ceremony were President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, Governor of Yobe State and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) caretaker committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, Governors of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, states, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Senator Abubakar Bagudu and Alhaji Bello Matawalle respectively, Chief Whip of the Senate,  Senator Orji Kalu, other principal officers of the National Assembly, Ministers and business moguls.


‘I lost my pregnancy to police cruelty’ [SUN]

Dr. Anurika  Kalunta of Aguiyi Ironsi Layout, Umuahia, Abia State has narrated to the panel of inquiry on police brutlity  how she lost her pregnancy in the hand of police operatives. She said on October 5, 2020, she was inside her kitchen cooking in preparation for the burial of her late father, which was taking place on the same day, when armed policemen forcefully gained access into her building.

She said the policemen, who were about 10, invaded her home and requested to see her husband, who was away, and when she told them he was not available, they told her she was going along with them for questioning. She said she requested to know why they were looking for her husband but they decline any further information and instead insisted she followed them.

“On their insistence, I asked to be allowed to go in and change, but one of the officers insisted on going into my bedroom with me, a move my sister and I resisted. At the end, I was driven to the CPS in Umuahia where I was told that someone had written a petition against my husband.”


Boko Haram: 700 ex-military personnel lose legs [SUN]

The National Commission for  Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), yesterday, revealed that it has integrated over 700 ex-military personnel, who had their limbs amputated and eventually dismissed from the service as a result of Boko Haram insurgency.

The NCPD, which revealed this during its 2021 budget defence at the National Assembly, pleaded for an upward review of its budget to meet the increasing demand of its capital budget.

Executive Secretary of the Commission, James Lalu explained that there were about 31.5 million Nigerians living with disability and the number keeps increasing on a daily basis, especially with the recent challenges facing the nation.

The Executive Secretary warned that failure to address this issue would place serious burden on the government as it would have to  grapple with the challenge of giving out stipends that will never achieve any lasting solution.

The budget increase, he said, will take care of education, healthcare needs and livelihood of people with disabilities, pointing out that a lot of disabled persons take to begging on the street when they cannot meet with their basic needs.

Lalu also notified the Senate committee that  in its 2021 budget,  the commission intends to open zonal, states and local government offices to reach out to all its members living in the rural areas.

Committee on Special Duties, chaired by Yusuf A. Yusuf, urged the commission to create a database of all its members across the country and design empowerment training for them especially those in the rural areas for a positive impact.

The committee promised to sit down and take a critical look at their budget proposal and revert back.


IPMAN seeks quick resolution to FG, PENGASSAN dispute [SUN]

The Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has called for a quick resolution of the dispute between the Federal Government and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

IPMAN’s president, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), yesterday, in Lagos.

He said though the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had assured the public that there would be no shortage in fuel supply, the lingering strike by PENGASSAN could have negative effect on the nation’s oil and gas industry.

“They are very important in the value chain of distribution and supply of petroleum products and nobody should underrate their importance. The government should listen to them and find a common ground because a lingering strike by them is not good for the industry,’’he said.

Okoronkwo assured that  IPMAN would continue to render its services to ensure that petroleum products get to the end users.

PENGASSAN had on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike, following the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given to the government to agree to its demands.

The action followed the protracted disagreement between PENGSSAN and the government over the latter’s directive on registration of its members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The union’s president, Mr Felix Osifo, in a statement on Wednesday said their meeting with government was inconclusive as their demands were yet to be addressed

Osifo accused the Federal Government of not attaching importance to the committee that was set up to look into matters of unpaid arrears, as government negotiators did not turn up for meetings.


Ohanaeze, Afenifere, ACF disagree over civilian JTF’s recruitment into Army PUNCH]

The recruitment of 400 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force in Borno State into the Nigerian Army has pitted prominent socio-cultural groups representing different regions of the country against one another on the proprietary or otherwise of the move.

While the Arewa Consultative Forum is fully in support of the decision, groups such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum and the Pan Niger Delta Forum are against it on the premise that only persons from a particular area of the country are recruited into the Army.

The Nigerian Army had on Wednesday absorbed 400 members of the civilian JTF into its fold to assist in prosecuting the war against Boko Haram terrorists.

The men, among who are hunters, are being enlisted into the Nigerian Army’s supper camp strategy in Borno State, the worst hit by the insurgency.

Governor Babagana Zulum, who commissioned the 400 men in the presence of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said they formed the first batch to be recruited by the Army.

According to him, other CJTF members will be joining the Army soon.

The CJTF emerged in 2013 to support the security forces in the fight against Boko Haram and to protect local communities from attacks by insurgents and was formalised by the Borno State Government through a collaboration with the military.

The CJTF members were recruited, trained, kitted, deployed and paid monthly allowances to motivate them.

FG sectionalising Army, says Afenifere

Reacting to the news, the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, through its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, accused the Federal Government of regionalising the Army.

He said, “There is no other name to call this than regionalisation of the Army for a section of the country without necessarily saying so. The rest of the country is not daft about what is going on. There is no way you can build confidence in national institutions when you continue to paint them in sectional colours. And these are the same people, who said the South-West could not do Amotekun a few months ago.

“Borno is afflicted with crisis the way other sections are and we cannot turn our supposed national Army into the outfit of a section of it in addition to the sectionalism and parochialism of this regime in the last five years.”

Move breaches federal character principle — Ohanaeze Ndigbo, M’Belt Forum

Similarly, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, insisted that the commissioning of the 400 civilian JTF members in Borno State into the Nigerian Army violated the federal character principle in national appointments.

It said the action of the Army leadership showed that the security apparatus of the country had collapsed.

The President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who spoke through his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, condemned the action of the Army, saying it had negative implications.

He stated, “It is a clear vindication of those, who hold the view that a situation where civilians are now conscripted into the Army to fight Boko Haram is a big shame to Nigeria.

“It runs against the spirit of the federal character principle, which ensures equity in national employment. Can this be replicated in other parts of the country?

“Who has guaranteed the integrity of the people absorbed into the Army? Who is sure they are not even sympathetic to the Boko Haram cause?”

Similarly, the Middle Belt Forum faulted the recruitment of the civilian JTF members into the Army.

The National President of the forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Jos on Thursday, said the action of the Nigerian Army negated the principle federalism being practiced by Nigeria.

Porgu said, “We are not objecting to the absorption of the CJTF members into the military for assisting them in the fight against insurgency.

“However, there should be equity in everything we do as a country, because we are a federation and are not supposed to do things haphazardly. So, if the Nigerian Army wants to recruit CJTF members into its fold, it should also bring in similar outfits in other parts of the country, so that there will be equity in representation in the Army.

“This is important because we have them all over the country, who are also sacrificing their lives to help in securing the country and working hard on their own volition without receiving salaries. Why single out an outfit in a region for recruitment?”


40-year-old man arrested for alleged rape of teen behind Osun mosque [PUNCH]

The Osun State Police Command on Thursday said it arrested a 40-year-old man, Lawrence Akinola, for the alleged defilement of a minor in Osogbo.

A spokesperson for the command, Yemisi Opalola, said the suspect had been detained at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.

The suspect was alleged to have forced the victim, said to be having speech impairment, to a secluded place at the back of a mosque in the Ataoja Estate area of Osogbo, where he defiled her.

Opalola said the command had commenced investigation into the matter.

She said, “The incident happened on November 5, 2020, around Ataoja Estate, Osogbo. The victim, a 16-year-old girl, was sent on an errand around 7.30pm when the suspect allegedly took her to a secluded place and defiled her.

“We also gathered that the suspect spread a red cloth on the ground and placed the victim on it before he perpetrated the act. After our investigation, the suspect will be arraigned.”


APC leaders bicker over planned membership registration, revalidation [PUNCH]

The Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Dr Salihu Lukman, on Thursday, described members of the All Progressives Congress opposed to the planned membership registration and revalidation exercise, as political bandits who were desperate to install surrogate leaders.

Lukman said this, in response to threats by party supporters under the aegis of Concerned APC members, to take legal action should the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee, proceed with the registration exercise.

Spokesman of the C-APC, Abdullahi Dauda, had in an interview with The PUNCH, revealed plans by members of the group to approach the courts to seek a judicial interpretation of Article 17 (4), of the APC Constitution 2004 (As amended), which he said forbade party members from holding two elective offices simultaneously.

He said, “The plan to hold a fresh membership registration is certainly not part of the mandate given to the committee, we don’t expect the committee to stay in office beyond December, 2020, if it does, we will have to approach the courts.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the former Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa, who is a factional leader of the APC in Zamfara State, said, “The Buni committee should carry out its assignment in line with the six months mandate or quit for allow others who can do the job.”

However, in a statement titled, “Campaign against Membership Registration in APC: A Smokescreen for Surrogate Leadership,” in Abuja, Lukman, said claims by some members that the mandate given to the Buni committee didn’t include membership registration, were being dishonest.

He said, “In this age of banditry, it will appear that some of our so-called leaders are as skillful in politics as the criminal bandits ravaging our communities – towns and villages.

“These so-called leaders advocating for APC to have a National Convention without going through the process of membership registration/verification simply want to plant their surrogates as the new leaders of the party. To achieve that, false arguments are being presented that the National Convention of the party doesn’t require membership registration.”

Also, the chairman of APC state chairmen forum in charge of the North West, Isa Acida, said, “We acknowledge and commend the committee’s efforts at repositioning the party. We are equally aware of the committee’s desire to produce an authentic national membership register for the party.” They urged all well meeting party members to support the caretaker committee to achieve its set objective.”


I’m not compiling list of workers for sacking — Ogundipe [PUNCH]

The reinstated Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has said that he is not compiling list of workers for sacking.

Ogundipe, who was welcomed with jubilation by workers of UNILAG, said this as he resumed on Thursday at the school’s Senate Building.

Ogundipe was sacked by the Dr Wale Babalakin-led governing council of UNILAG on August 12.

However, on November 10, he was reinstated by the President, Major-General Mohammadu Buhari (retd.) after a visitation panel report.

The reinstated VC urged the workers to be committed and united.

He said, “Our commitment must be in moving this university forward and we must unite. Some people are saying that I have a list of people I want to sack and punish. I have no such list. I do not have any list of anyone to be sacked; I have not seen any list. Let’s work  together and move the university forward. You have invested years of your lives into this university. It is not about academic or non-academic staff, it is about moving the university forward.”

Ogundipe also thanked Buhari for insisting that due process must be followed during the crisis.

He attributed his reinstatement as divine and also appreciated the efforts of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola and all the staff unions in the school among others.

“My return to office is not by power but by divine intervention,” he said.

Ogundipe also described the former acting VC, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola as a reliable and honest scholar.

“People think they can divide us, let me say this openly, they don’t know we communicate. She has done excellently well and she is reliable.”

While handling over to Ogundipe, Ogunsola said, “We welcome back the VC, I am formally handling over to the VC. Today is the day of victory, it calls for introspection. Together we stand, divided we fall.    Nobody can de-brand us and UNILAG is bigger than anybody.”


Salary cut, low cost of governance should start with Executive, say Reps [THE NATION]

The House of Representatives on Thursday said that the calls for reduction of salaries of federal lawmakers and cost of governance were misdirected.

It argued that since the Executive manages 99.902 percent of the national budget, the calls should be directed at that arm of government and not the National Assembly which receives a paltry 0.8 percent.

The House  stated that the National Assembly was struggling and therefore needed to be  energised as the 0.8 percent was too small.

Spokesman for  the House Benjamin Kalu, stated the position of the  lawmakers while briefing reporters on their  activities  for the week in Abuja on Thursday.

He also disclosed that the various committees of House would from next Wednesday start the submission of budget defence reports..

Kalu  said: ,’The 0.8% of the national budget for the National Assembly is not enough to run the institution. If you want to cut salaries, expenses, cost of governance, start it from the Executive. That’s the truth because the 0.8 per cent you’re talking about takes care of the Senate and House.

“People think that the money that comes to the National Assembly is divided by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s a wrong narrative being sold and that’s what Nigerians believe.

”That’s why my office is actually engaging in what’s called infographics that are going to be released very soon.  That will break it down once members approve it so that you know where everything goes into.

“Nigerians will be shocked that people they thought were rich are not able to meet their needs and that’s the truth. It’s high time we started  at the 99.902 percent of the national budget and stop focusing on the 0.8 percent of the National Assembly.’

”Nigerians are not focusing on that rather they’ve been conditioned to focus on the 0.8 percent. Is that not deceitful?. Nigerians need to change their focus and find out what’s happening to that 99.902 percent. “Once we do that, you will see the truth will start coming out, and even the Executive will know there’s need to cut down their expenses.”


753 Nigerian traders beg for evacuation from Ghana [THE NATION]

No fewer than 753 Nigerians living in Ghana, mostly traders, have asked to be brought back home.

They alleged consistent harassment, intimidation, torture and threat to life by Ghanaians and their authorities.

Their shops, they said, have been locked for almost a year by the authorities.

The Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG) said the diplomatic niceties between Nigeria and Ghana have not yielded results.

The traders said their landlords were asking for rent despite the shops remaining locked.

In a “Save our Soul” letter to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, they claimed they were dying under the heavy yoke the Ghanaian authorities placed on them.

The letter was presented by a delegation led by the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Dr Ken Ukoaha.

He was accompanied by NUTAG President, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, and members.

They also visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, in Abuja.

They told reporters after the meeting that their request for evacuation was because of many of them now struggle to survive.

Ukaoha said: “As traders, this is our mother ministry, and that is why we have come to meet with the minister and convey our final decision to be safely evacuated from Ghana.

“Nigerian traders in Ghana are being tortured, intimidated, harassed, apart from being subjected to all manners of frustrations by the government and people of Ghana since 2007.


ASUU: Ngige wrong on varsity autonomy [THE NATION]

University autonomy is backed by law, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said on Thursday.

It faulted a claim by Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, that ASUU cannot claim to be autonomous when the government pays lecturers.

Lecturers have refused to call off their seven-month strike due to disagreement with the government over the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS) and other demands.

While defending his ministry’s budget before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment on Wednesday, Ngige said: “They said that university autonomy is being eroded by IPPIS.

“Autonomy cannot work when the government is paying the lecturers. It can work only when the governing council generates its resources to pay workers.”

But, ASUU president, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said Ngige cannot unilaterally alter the law.

He added that universities can only generate resources when they have been fully empowered to do so.

Ogunyemi said in an interview: “It appears the minister is not aware that there is a law on autonomy and if there is a law in existence that defines what autonomy means with respect to university governance, I don’t think any minister can arbitrarily annul the law.

“If the minister is not pleased, he will have to work with the law until the law is changed.

“We have the University Miscellaneous Provision Amendment Act of 2003 which was gazetted as Autonomy Law in 2007.

“That law is still subsisting. What that law says is that governing councils will manage the personnel, information and payroll.

“If universities are empowered to do that, what that law expects is that government should make funds available to the universities to handle their personnel.

“But, because of the meddlesome roles government has been playing over the years; which is a military hangover, it appears, as it is today, they do not want to let go.

“In other climes, what government does is to release subventions to universities as provided for in their budget. ASUU is not asking for too much. That is the way to go. That is the way to define autonomy.

“If you say universities should start generating their funds and you have not empowered them, how will they generate the funds?”

Ogunyemi accused the political class of not investing enough to develop infrastructure in public universities.

According to him, Nigerian universities could not respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 because the institutions were not equipped to deal with such pandemics.

He added that had the Federal Government honoured the N1.3 trillion agreement on revitalisation it reached with the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, public universities would have been well-positioned to handle any challenge.

The union is asking for N110 billion for university revitalisation, but the Federal Government offered the striking lecturers N20 billion, which they turned down.

Ogunyemi said the union was yet to receive official communication from Ngige on its demands made during their last meeting.


Super Eagles on the march again… [THE NATION]

If a football game is decided by previous results between the two opposing teams, the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tie between the Super Eagles and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone would have been declared a technical knockout and the Leone Stars won’t have had any reason to honour either of the ties.

Previous results between Nigeria and Sierra Leone have been overwhelmingly in favour of the Eagles with nine wins, three draws, and two losses in international friendly games, World Cup qualifiers, and AFCON qualifiers as well.

Both nations met for the first time in 1961 in a friendly match in Freetown and Sierra Leone were overwhelmed 4-2 and the Eagles remained unbeaten against them for 26 years before the Leone Stars secured their maiden win (2-0) on 18th July 1987 in an AFCON qualifier.

The defeat turned out to be inconsequential because the Green Eagles had beaten the same team 3-0 in the first leg played two weeks earlier in Lagos and thus advanced to the 1988 AFCON in Morocco 3-2 on aggregate.

They snatched another rare victory on 21st April 2001 when the Eagles stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at the Siaka Stevens Stadium, Freetown in a 2002 World Cup qualifier. Both last met in a competitive fixture in 2008 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier which the Eagles triumphed 4-1. But there was still a friendly game in 2011 which marked the beginning of the Samson Siasia reign as Eagles coach then.

Knowing that football is no mathematics and that supposedly minnows are striving harder to catch up to ensure they improve in the CAF/ FIFA monthly rankings through getting surprise results against ‘big’ teams like Nigeria.

Before now, Sierra Leone depended mostly on their home-based players but things have changed in recent years as they now have players playing professionally in Europe and other parts of the world. In the last friendly game in 2011, the Leone Stars pushed the Eagles to the limit before surrendering 2-1 in Lagos. Anyone that thinks Friday tie would be a stroll in the park must rethink.

Sierra Leone know they have been boxed to a corner and that only a positive outcome in both games will see them bounce back in the race for 2021 AFCON finals but a negative outcome could put them on the brink of elimination. They are on the bottom of Group L with one point.

Nigerian players have been talking tough ahead of the tie with Captain Ahmed Musa admitting they do not have much information on their opponent.

“It is true we don’t know much about the Sierra Leone national team, but we have resolved to play our best game to beat them at our home and away,” Musa told journalists.







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