#BBNaija: Lucy emerges as Head of House

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Why some anti-corruption campaigns make people more likely to pay a bribe

Commuters waiting at a bus stop in Lagos Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nic Cheeseman, University of Birmingham and Caryn Peiffer, University of Bristol

Donors and civil society groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year trying to combat corruption. They do it because corruption has been shown to increase poverty and inequality while undermining trust in the government. Reducing corruption is essential to improve public services and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.

But what if anti-corruption efforts actually make the situation worse?

Our research in Lagos, Nigeria, found that anti-corruption messages often have an unintended effect. Instead of building public resolve to reject corrupt acts, the messages we tested either had no effect or actually made people more likely to offer a bribe.

The reason may be that the messages reinforce popular perceptions that corruption is pervasive and insurmountable. In doing so, they encourage apathy and acceptance rather than inspire activism.

Fighting corruption

Efforts to combat corruption in “developing countries” initially focused on law enforcement by political leaders and bureaucrats. But these strategies met with limited success and so efforts switched to raising public awareness of the dangers of corruption.

This change of approach made sense. One reason that leaders don’t deliver on reforms is that they benefit from the way things are. Encouraging citizens to reject corrupt leaders would give those in power an incentive to act.

The last 20 years therefore saw a vast array of campaigns, from newspaper and radio advertisements to Twitter messages. Short films, theatre productions and signs that proclaim that government institutions are “corruption free zones” were also included.

These messages are seen by large numbers of people, but until recently there had been remarkably little systematic research on whether they actually work.

Researching corruption

To test the impact of anti-corruption messages we developed five short narratives like those promoted by civil society organisations and international donors. One message focused on explaining that corruption is widespread and damaging. Others emphasised the local impact of graft and the way it wasted citizens’ taxes.

To test the effect of more positive messages, one narrative talked about recent successes that political leaders had in curbing corruption. Another detailed the role that religious leaders played in promoting clean government.

We read the messages to 2,400 randomly selected people in Lagos. While corruption has often been identified as a major challenge in Nigeria, the Lagos State government has made some progress towards reducing government waste, ensuring all citizens pay taxes and delivering better services. It was therefore plausible that both positive and negative messages about corruption would resonate with Lagosians. The state is also ethnically diverse, with considerable poverty and inequality, and so reflects the kind of context in which anti-corruption messaging is often deployed.

Each person we interviewed was given one of the narratives. A control group was not given any anti-corruption information. This was to enable us to compare the impact of different messages. We then asked everyone a number of questions about their attitudes towards corruption.

In an advance on previous studies, we also invited 1,200 people to play a game in which they had an opportunity to win real money. In the game, players could take away more money if they were willing to pay a small bribe to the “banker” who determined the pay-outs. The game tested players’ commitment to rejecting corruption in a more demanding way than simply asking them if they believed corruption was wrong.

We were then able to evaluate whether anti-corruption messages were effective by looking at whether those who received them were more likely to demand clean government and less willing to pay a bribe.

More harm than good

In line with prior research, our findings suggest that anti-corruption campaigns may be doing more harm than good. None of the narratives we used had a positive effect overall. Many of them actually made Lagosians more likely to pay a bribe.

Put another way, the good news is that public relations campaigns can change citizens’ minds. But the bad news is that they often do so in unintended and counterproductive ways.

The reason for this seems to be that anti-corruption messages encourage citizens to think more about corruption, emphasising the extent of the problem. This contributes to “corruption fatigue”: the belief that the problem is simply too big for any one person to make a difference generates despondency. It makes individuals more likely to go with the flow than to stand against it.

This interpretation is supported by another finding that the negative effect of anti-corruption messaging was far more powerful among individuals who believed that corruption was pervasive. This reveals that the problematic consequences of anti-corruption messages are not universal. Among less pessimistic people, messages did not have a negative effect. And one message had the desired effect of reducing the probability of paying a bribe. This was the narrative that emphasised the relationship between corruption and citizens’ tax payments.

Our study therefore suggests that if we can target anti-corruption messages more effectively at specific audiences, we may be able to enhance their positive effects while minimising the risks.

What next?

Other studies have come to similar conclusions in Indonesia, Costa Rica and to some extent Papua New Guinea.

We therefore need to take the lessons of these studies seriously. Anti-corruption campaigns that send untargeted messages should be halted until we work out how to target them more effectively. The most logical response is to embrace new ways of working.

This might mean identifying messages that persuade citizens that corruption is fallingand so “nudge” them to believe it is a problem that can be overcome.

Where that’s not possible, it is also worth considering a more radical break with the past. As others working within the Anti-Corruption Evidence Consortium have argued, the most promising approach may be to abandon traditional anti-corruption messaging in favour of working more indirectly. This would involve building public demand for greater political accountability and transparency without always talking directly about corruption.

Such an approach would be less high profile, but is far more likely to be effective.

Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham and Caryn Peiffer, Lecturer in International Public Policy and Governance, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Premier League 2019-20 review: young players of the season

Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden, Mason Mount. Composite: Getty

Welcome to The Bloomgist review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. The Guardian, UK have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

This is only the third time the Guardian has had this category in its end-of-season awards, and Alexander-Arnold has been in all of them. Given that he doesn’t turn 22 until October, there’s still time for one more. It has been another season of wild achievement for the right-back, one of only three qualifying players to appear in every Premier League game (the others being West Ham’s Declan Rice, who hasn’t missed a single minute but who like his team has not always reached his full potential, and the excellent Burnley winger Dwight McNeil). For the second year in a row Alexander-Arnold hit double-figures in top-flight assists – only Kevin De Bruyne registered more – but he has improved his goal output; he scored with a lovely low shot in the Boxing Day thrashing of Leicester, probably his and his team’s finest display of the campaign. Jürgen Klopp says he is “one of the most relentless professionals I’ve met when it comes to focusing on getting better each and every day”. Cafu thinks “he will be regarded as one of the best players in the world”. He is still only 21.

Max Aarons (Norwich)

Most clubs are constantly searching for first-team-ready young talent, but Norwich seem particularly good at it. Perhaps, in fact, a little too good. The three defenders with the most appearances for the club this season are Aarons, a 20-year-old right-back, Jamal Lewis, a 22-year-old left-back, and Ben Godfrey, a centre-back born 10 days before Lewis in January 1998. All three qualify for this list, along with the midfielder Todd Cantwell, 22, while their key creative force, Emiliano Buendía, is only 23. But there is a value to experience, and starting a first Premier League season with a back four largely populated by players 21 and under with no top-flight experience is not the best way to secure a second Premier League season. They have duly conceded more goals than any other team. Individually, however, they remain excellent prospects, with Aarons perhaps the pick. Since making his league debut in the East Anglian derby against Ipswich in September 2018 he has started all but two league games and never been substituted, a remarkable record for one so young.

Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)

Last season Greenwood made three league appearances and played three minutes in the Champions League; this season he has crept slowly into the team – he didn’t start a league game until December – but it ends with him in Manchester United’s starting XI and looking ready to stay there, having developed the endearing habit of lashing balls into nets with either foot. He is clearly a fine instinctive finisher, is a faster sprinter even than Marcus Rashford, and has a knack for taking shots early that befuddles goalkeepers. “He’s developed fantastically this season,” says Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “The sky’s the limit.” One of three players at Manchester United who might easily have made the list, alongside Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Mason Greenwood has played himself into Manchester United’s first-choice XI. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Uefa via Getty Images

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

In contrast to others on this list, Foden doesn’t really have the stats to back up his inclusion. For every game he has started he has spent one and a half on the bench; before the new year he spent more than 23 minutes on the pitch only once. But when he has played he has looked extremely classy. He is comfortable on either foot, has got more and more game time as the season has progressed, and has had Pep Guardiola gushing ever more effusively about his potential. “I’ve seen many players in my life – I have trained incredible, incredible players,” says the Spaniard, “and Phil will be one of them.”

Phil Foden takes on Brandon Williams in the Manchester derby. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mason Mount (Chelsea)

It feels like a long time since England had so many young players bursting impressively into top-flight teams. Every side playing in Europe next season has at least one key player who is English and was 21 or younger when the campaign started (Leicester’s Harvey Barnes is the only one not to have got a mention elsewhere), and Chelsea have a handful (as well as the American Christian Pulisic, whose post-lockdown form has been sensational, and several impressive cameos from the 19-year-old Scot Billy Gilmour). Mount in particular has been exceptional. He has been involved in every league game but one – as well as every England match – this season, and brings dynamism and constant effort to midfield as well as attacking threat.

Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth)

Goalkeepers often catch the eye in struggling teams, but Ramsdale has played with consistency and maturity in his debut top-flight season despite the chaos sometimes taking place in front of him. He was particularly outstanding in the 2-0 defeat to Southampton, including a fine penalty save in which he refused to be taken in by Danny Ings’ mid-run dummy, and did not deserve the dejection with which he slumped to the turf on the final whistle. Six Premier League teams this season have first-choice goalkeepers aged 33 or above, and it takes a brave manager to put promise over experience in this of all positions. Not a lot has worked out for Eddie Howe this season, but for this at least, he deserves credit.

#Covid-19: FG Extends Phase Two Of Eased Lockdown By One Week

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FULL LIST: Buhari Names Train Stations After Several ‘Prominent Nigerians’

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo is not among the “deserving Nigerians” whom President Muhammadu Buhari has named some railway stations after.

On Monday, Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, announced that the president had given approval that stations along the Lagos-Ibadan and the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri corridors should be named in honour of some of the nation’s leaders.

Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo are among those that stations were named after.

Below is a full list of those who were honoured:

LAGOS

  • Mobolaji Johnson   Ebute Metta Station
  • Babatunde Fashola  Agege station
  • Bola Ahmed Tinubu Apapa station
  • Lateef Jakande     Agbado station

OGUN

  • Yemi Osinbajo Kajola station
  • Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti Papalanto station
  • Wole Soyinka Abeokuta station

OYO

  • Segun Osoba       Olodo station
  • Ladoke Akintola  Omio-Adio station
  • Obafemi Awolowo Ibadan station

KOGI

  • Adamu Attah       Itakpe station
  • Olushola Saraki   Ajaokuta station

EDO

  • Augustus Aikhomu Itogbo station
  • George Innih Agenebode station
  • Anthony Eromosele Enahoro Uromi station
  • Tom Ikimi Ekehen station
  • Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia  Igbanke station

DELTA

  • Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Agbor Station Complex
  • David Ejoor Abraka station
  • Micheal Ibru Opara station
  • Alfred Rewane (Ujevwu station) and
  • Mike Akhigbe  Railway Village, Agbor
  • Alex Ekwueme (Operation Control Centre)

Nigerian govt announces date for commencement of WAEC exam

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Secondary schools to reopen August 4 — FG

The federal government has announced August 4, 2020 as the date for resumption of secondary schools across the country.

This was contained in a statement issued on Monday by Ben Bem Goong, director of press and public relations, ministry of education.

According to the statement, the decision was reached after a meeting of stakeholders in the education sector on Monday.

Only students in exit classes are expected to resume, so that they can participate in the West African Examination (WAEC) exercise scheduled to begin on August 17, 2020.

“Secondary schools in the country are to reopen as from the 4th of August, 2020 for exit classes only. Students will have two weeks within which to prepare for the West African Examinations (WAEC) due to start on the 17th of August, 2020,” the statement read.

“These were the unanimous decisions reached today at a virtual consultative meeting between the Federal Ministry of Education, Honourable Commissioners of Education of the 36 states, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, (NUT), the proprietors of private schools, and Chief Executives of examination bodies.

“It was agreed that the exit classes should resume immediately after the Sallah break, from the 4th of August, 2020 to enable them prepare for the WAEC examinations scheduled to commence from the 17th of August, 2020.

“The meeting also resolved that a passionate appeal be made to the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and public spirited Nigerians for assistance to schools across the country to enable them fast track the preparations for safe reopening, as agreed.”

Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday “between the federal ministry of education and chief executives of examination bodies namely, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS to harmonise their examination dates, which will be conveyed to stakeholders expeditiously by the Federal Ministry of Education”.

In March 2020, schools across the country were closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although it was announced earlier in July that schools would reopen, the decision was reversed and federal government colleges were exempted from taking part in the WAEC examinations for the year 2020.

Various reactions followed the decision, with the house of representatives, as well as other stakeholders in the education sector, urging the government to reconsider.

The ministry of education had eventually announced that it would discuss with WAEC on a possible shift in the date for the commencement of the examination, which was earlier scheduled to begin on August 4.

On July 13, 2020, the ministry of education released guidelines to ensure safety and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in school environments.

Photos: Timo Werner Appears For First Chelsea Training At Cobham

The German international is now officially a Chelsea player following his transfer from Bayern Leverkusen, although he cannot feature for the Blues until the 2020/21 campaign begins.

In the meantime, the focus is on fitness given he hasn’t played a competitive game since the end of the Bundesliga.

After touching down in London on Sunday evening, Timo Werner has been training at Cobham for the first time today, as our exclusive pictures show…

Nigeria is now safer than it was five years ago – Chief of Army Staff, Buratai

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has stated that Nigeria is safer and more secured than it was in 2014

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Buhari Attends Virtual Meeting Of ECOWAS Extraordinary Session

President Muhammadu Buhari participates in a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on June 23, 2020.

President Muhammadu Buhari is at a virtual meeting of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

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#NDDC Probe: Akpabio lists names of lawmakers who got contracts

This is as the probe into the alleged corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) continues.

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#BBNaija : Biggie introduces a new twist to Big Brother Naija show

The second Live Show of Big Brother Naija season 5 brought with it twists that will no doubt impact the dynamics of the show.

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#BBNaija: Official photos from Saturday party of housemates in Big Brother’s house

BBNaija lockdown housemates had the time of their lives during the first Saturday party in the house

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#BBNaija 2020: Ozo grabs Nengi by the waist and kissed her on the shoulder (Video)

BBNaija housemates, Ozo and Nengi are fast developing penchant for ‘expressing’ their feelings.

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#BBNaija: Dorathy becomes the first female housemate to be verified on Instagram

Many upcoming stars sometimes pay huge amounts to have a verification badge on their social media profiles while others’ pages are engaging enough to get verified.

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“No New Foreign Students For All-Online Classes”- US

US President Donald Trump waves upon arrival to Morristown Municipal Airport, New Jersey on July 24, 2020. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
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Barcelona & Spain legend Xavi tests positive for coronavirus

The 40-year-old was due to take charge of Al Sadd’s game with Al Khor on Saturday, but he will now self-isolate in line with #Covid-19 guidelines

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BBNaija: “If you try me I will finish you” – Ka3na and Wathoni get into first house fight (Video)

Ka3na and Wathoni, housemates of Big Brother Naija ‘Lockdown’ season 5, got into a fight today at Big Brother’s house.

The housemates were spotted in a video hurling insults at each other while other housemates tried to separate them quickly, before the fight turns physical.

From the video which is currently going viral on social media, angry Ka3na could be heard screaming and warning Wathoni to stay off her lane and avoid her.

“She has no right to call my name like that. I will not tolerate that nonsense. Let her keep calm and avoid me. I don’t know why my name was called in the first place. If you try me I will finish you”, Ka3na yelled.

Watch the Video on the link below;

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDCLSjSDBQV/?igshid=1940em2wp3rv7

Helicopter service to the rescue as FG partially closes Third Mainland Bridge

Ahead of the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos on Friday and the attendant traffic gridlock, an Aviation logistics firm, Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited (TAL) would start helicopter shuttle services to convey people from the Mainland to the Lagos Island.

Bloomgist News learnt that the advertisement materials of the helicopter service provider have been trending since the announcement of the partial closure which has triggered fear and apprehension from members of the public.

Fear, apprehension as FG shuts Third Mainland for six months Despite assurances by the Federal Government that the closure would be partial, many residents of Lagos have expressed fear over the traffic gridlock which the partial closure would trigger.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola had also announced alternatives routes including: Costain, Ebute-Metta and Ijora that road users could use during the period of the repair, a statement by Boade Akinola, Director of Press in the Ministry said. Fashola had said:

“The Bridge is 11.8km; we are closing 3.5km so it is a partial and not a total closure.”

Bloomgist News gathered that TAL has scheduled helicopter services to take care of the people especially the high net worth individuals who dread the gridlock that the closure might trigger.

AW139 Helicopters, Sikorsky S-92A helicopters, among others in its fleet, according to information gathered on its website. A source told our correspondent that the service would cost $500 (N194, 000 at the official exchange rate) while a return ticket would cost $1000 (N388,000). The flight takes off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) Ikeja to Ozumba Umbadiwe in Victoria Island.

The source who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity because he was not in a position to talk to the press said, “So far the response from people on the service has been very positive.

Many businesses have made enquiries on this service and they are very much interested going by the kind of gridlock envisaged on the Third Mainland Bridge and the alternative roads when the partial closure takes effect.”

It was learnt that in keeping with the COVID-19 social distancing guideline, the flight would take only eight passengers instead of about 15 which it was configured to carry.

2020/21 Premier League Start Date Confirmed

Start date for the Next Premier League season confirmed…

The Premier League has today announced the next league campaign will begin on 12 September. A conclusion date has also been revealed.
The Premier League’s statement reads:

‘Premier League Shareholders today agreed to start the 2020/21 Premier League season on 12 September.

‘The final match round of the campaign will take place on 23 May.

‘The Premier League will continue to consult The FA and EFL regarding the scheduling of all domestic competitions.’

COVID-19: Lagos says it spends between N100k and N1m on each COVID-19 patient daily

Lagos state government has disclosed that it spends between N100,000 and N1m daily to treat each coronavirus patient in the state

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NDDC probe: Senate tells Buhari to sack IMC as corruption uncovered

President Muhammadu Buhari has been told to terminate the current NDDC IMC

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AY becomes the most followed comedian in Africa and most followed male actor in Nigeria

Ace Nigerian comedian and actor AYO Makun simply known as AY is excited as he becomes the most followed comedian in Africa and the most followed male actor in Nigeria.

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Nigeria’s debt to hit N33trn as FG plans fresh N4.28trn loan

Nigeria’s debt burden will hit N32.91trillion as the federal government has notified the National Assembly of a fresh plan to borrow N4.28 trillion to fund the 2021 budget.

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Hushpuppi has not been released – Lawyer (Details)

Gal Pissetzky, lawyer to suspected Internet fraudster and Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi, has disclosed that his client has not been released.

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Epl: Liverpool are Champions of England after 30 years

The Reds, one month after wrapping up the 2019-20 title, finally got their hands on the Premier League trophy on Wednesday night.

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BREAKING: Boko Haram executes five aid workers

Suspected members of the extremist Boko Haram sect have shot dead five persons believed to be humanitarian workers.

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NDDC crisis: Pondei can now be invited by probe panel – Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila has made a U-turn away from his previous decision on NDDC probe

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Covid-19: Madagascar hospitals reaches full capacity as Covid-19 cases surge

File photo: Coronavirus

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BBNaija: Excitement As Nengi Bags Endorsement Deal While In Big Brother’s House

Steve Thompson, C.E.O of Royal hairs, the same brand that signed Mercy Eke, Tacha and Chioma, has revealed his decision to sign Nengi once she leaves Big Brother’s house.

Continue reading “BBNaija: Excitement As Nengi Bags Endorsement Deal While In Big Brother’s House”

Covid-19: Oyo state govt cancels 3rd term for secondary schools

Oyo state is taking a fast leap ahead of others amid Covid-19 crisis

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BBNaija: Laycon Becomes First Housemate To Be Verified By Instagram

Fans of Big Brother Naija housemate, Laycon are currently setting Instagram on fire as their fave, Laycon becomes first housemate to be verified by instagram.

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Senate Passes Bill To Establish Army University

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#BBNaija: Actor Kenneth Okolie allegedly behind the new big brother voice

The much-anticipated 5th season of reality TV show, Big Brother Naija kicked off on July 19th, and fans of the show immediately noticed the change in the voice of Big Brother.

Federal government extends ban on international flights

Due to the COVID-19, the Nigerian government has extended ban on international flights in the country

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BREAKING: Third Mainland Bridge Will Be Closed From Friday until January 2021 – FG

The Federal Government says the Third Mainland Bridge will be closed on Friday at midnight and will not be reopened until January 2021.

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Just In: PDP caucus in House of Reps threaten to impeach President Buhari

– PDP members in the House of Reps have disclosed that they are considering impeaching President Buhari

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Senate asks all service chiefs to resign

Senate vs SGF: We never threatened to shut down Buhari’s govt - Senate
Senate vs SGF: We never threatened to shut down Buhari’s govt – Senate

The Nigerian senate has asked the service chiefs to step aside.

The resolution of the upper legislative chamber followed a motion sponsored by Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south and chairman of the committee on army.

Gabriel Olonisakin, chief of defence staff; Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff; Sadique Abubakar, chief of air staff; and Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, chief of naval staff; are all due for retirement.

Despite calls for their sack, President Muhammadu Buhari has kept them in office.

Reveal lawmakers who got NDDC contracts within 48hrs – Gbajabiamila to Akpabio

Speaker of the house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has given Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, 48 hours to name the lawmakers who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Speaking on the floor of the house on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila also commended Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, chairman of the house committee on NDDC, from withdrawing from the probe of the commission.

While appearing before the panel probing the NDDC on Monday, Akpabio said most of the contracts awarded by the agency were to members of the national assembly.

The speaker said if the minister fails to name the lawmakers, the full “wrath” of the house will be brought against him.

Gbajabiamila said Akpabio came to play games but “we do not play games here”.

“I am giving the minister 24 to 48 hours, to publish the names, the contracts, the companies, date, amount and the projects,” he said.

“Failing which, this house will bring the full wrath of the house on him. It is important that we set this record straight.

“The minister owes it to himself, to the committee, to people of Niger Delta, and the country to publish it. I will reserve my judgement. The minister came there to play games, but we do not play games here.”

Jonathan visits Buhari — 3 days after railway was named after him

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja.

Mr. Jonathan visited Buhari three days after Buhari named the railway complex in Agbor, Delta state, after his predecessor.

Though we are yet to learn the reason for the meeting, we strongly believe it may be linked to Jonathan’s appointment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lead its mediation team to help resolve the socio-political tension Mali.

The former president paid his first visit to Buhari during his second term on October 10.

He also visited his successor on January 30.

Forbes: Jeff Bezos adds to his fortune as he makes $13 billion in one day

American billionaire business man, Jeff Bezos added $13 billion to his net worth on Monday, the largest single-day jump for an individual since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index was created in 2012.

The new rules of dating

By Courtney Rubin

How should you navigate a date when you’re not sure a kiss goodbye, let alone an in-person rendezvous, is on the table? Certain dating apps are trying to ease the process. Bumble now lets its users add a badge to their profiles that signifies what kind of dates they’re comfortable with: virtual, socially distanced or socially distanced with a mask. And on Lex, which caters to the queer community, users often preface their personal ads with their Covid-19 or antibody test results, said Kell Rakowski, the app’s founder. Still, meeting up in person — and any physical contact, be it a touch on the arm or sex — requires some pretty candid conversations.

Some people are only comfortable with video dates; others, and this isn’t hypothetical, are still willing to suggest a threesome before noon on a Tuesday. “I definitely didn’t have that one on my pandemic bingo card,” said Jen Livengood, 37, a Nashville television producer. (She declined.)

If you have text or Zoom fatigue, or aren’t in the market for another penpal, find out within the first few messages whether meeting up in person is on the table. Matt Minich, a 33-year-old doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests asking, “What does social distancing mean to you?” “A woman asked me that, and it’s a really good way of phrasing it,” Mr. Minich said. “It’s also a way to ask somebody out.”

Other people are more direct, asking for proof of Covid-19 or antibody test results, or suggesting both parties get tested before a meet-up, especially if they live in an area where testing is free. Tarryn Feldman, 36, a makeup artist who works in Nashville’s music industry, gets tested frequently because of her job. She currently has a “friend with benefits” (her description) and is rigorously honest with him about banal interactions that she would never normally discuss. “We check in,” Ms. Feldman said. “I’m not afraid to ask him anything about what he’s been doing and where he’s been.” When a houseguest’s personal trainer tested positive for Covid-19, for instance, Ms. Feldman informed her friend-with-benefits, and everyone got tested. (No one, except the trainer, had the coronavirus.)

For a first in-the-flesh date, keep it outside, where the risk of coronavirus transmission is lower. For the nearly 20 people interviewed for this article, walks were by far the top choice, followed by picnics and then backyard barbecues or a drink at a restaurant with outdoor seating. A clothing designer in Pomona, Calif., who requested anonymity because she didn’t want to be judged for her choices, went over to a man’s house for a dinner of takeout lamb and hummus after he’d produced a screenshot of a negative Covid test — and he’d just had the place cleaned. “He sprayed me down with Lysol and he had a HEPA filter right by his front door, which he said would get all the germs,” she explained. But it didn’t matter: They weren’t a good match and didn’t meet up again.

Nearly all the daters interviewed for this article skipped the masks except if there were other people around — though most know it’s not necessarily a rational choice. “There’s something psychologically when you like someone, you automatically trust that they don’t have the virus,” said Kaley Isabella, 31, who works in public relations in Los Angeles and has been dating a man she met during the pandemic. “It’s crazy. It doesn’t make someone safe just because you like them.”

Marie Helweg-Larsen, a professor of psychology at Dickinson College, says it’s true we are biased toward people we choose to go out with. We tend to underestimate our own risk, she wrote in an email, “and of course we want people we know/love to share our umbrella of invulnerability.”

This thinking can be tough to counteract; it requires recognizing your own bias in your risk assessment. “My best advice is to tell the date beforehand that you intend to wear a mask and would like the date to do so as well,” Dr. Helweg-Larsen wrote. “You can also practice what to say if the date is resisting (something simple like, ‘please put on your mask’ or, ‘you are protecting me with your mask’) or you can use non-verbal communication like stepping or turning away from someone.”

If you choose to mask up — and health experts say you should — expect some mixed signals, or no signals at all. Katie Kirby, 35, a delivery person for DoorDash in Pittsburgh, said face coverings also act as a dating filter; she doesn’t want to be out with anybody who won’t wear one.

But masks increase her anxiety. “I rely on facial expressions so when things are impeded it makes it harder for me to gauge things,” Ms. Kirby said. “And besides worrying that somebody might not be the best person, you’re also worried about a virus.”

For most daters, the biggest question isn’t, “Do you ask before getting physical?” but, “When do you ask?” Inquiring before you’ve met up in person can sound forward, but, according to couples who have already gone on a number of video dates, it’s essential.

“You don’t spend this much time on the phone with someone you don’t want to be physical with,” said Ike Diaz, 39, a video producer in Los Angeles. Mr. Diaz met a marketing manager named Esprit on The League, an app that vets its users based on criteria like where they went to school, for example; they video-dated for more than two months before each got Covid-19 tests so they could meet up for a picnic in late May. Before the date, she asked: “If we were to see each other, would it be an option for us to give each other a kiss?” (Mr. Diaz said that the attraction between the two was “palpable,” but that he had resolved to wait for a signal from her that she was comfortable.)

“I liked that she framed it as a hypothetical, so it wasn’t aggressive,” he said. And, yes, they kissed — and are still together.

If you’re not used to being direct, Rae McDaniel, a certified sex therapist in Chicago, advises calling out any scared feelings. “Saying, ‘I want to ask you something, but I’m nervous you’ll think/do/feel… ’ can turn down the volume on fear quite a bit by naming it instead of trying to ignore it,” said Mx. McDaniel, who uses they/them pronouns. They also suggested following a conversation formula they said has long been used by educators for communicating desires and boundaries about safer sex: Share the risks you’ve taken, then ask about the other person’s risk level and interest in getting closer.

You should also expect to discuss your private life with roommates, even if — and maybe especially if — those are your parents. Jessie Sholl, 51, a writer, left Brooklyn in March to live with her father and stepmother in Minneapolis. After self-quarantining for several weeks, Ms. Sholl wanted to go on an in-person date with a man she’d hooked up with over Christmas and had been Facetiming since she’d been back in town. “I had to tell them he wasn’t some guy I just met — that we had spent the night together,” she said. For the couple’s first in-person date, a socially distanced walk in April, Ms. Sholl’s father and stepmother stood in the doorway waving.

“It was like being back in high school,” Ms. Sholl said. “And then I heard my dad yell, ‘Stay six feet apart.’”

Finally, remember that no amount of coronavirus precautions will protect you from the dogs. After a month of Facetiming, Ms. Livengood went to a man’s house for their first in-person date in his backyard. He grilled filet mignon; she brought Ketel One vodka and mixed French 75s. They stayed six feet apart as he showed her around, but as the cocktails kicked in, “like on any normal date, we got more cuddly and tactile,” she said. They kissed.

At the end of the evening, he took her hands, looked deep into her eyes and said, “If you could just lose 10 or 15 pounds, you would be a knockout and I would consider leaving my girlfriend for you.” Ms. Livengood promptly went home and left her doctor a message about getting a coronavirus test.

Nengi emerges the first head of house for #BBNaija ‘Lockdown’

The head of house game was held today and Nengi emerged the first head of house for this season.

Continue reading “Nengi emerges the first head of house for #BBNaija ‘Lockdown’”

Buhari’s associate, Ismaila Isa-Funtua, is dead

A close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and Second Republic minister, Ismaila Isa-Funtua, has died.

Ismaila Isa-Funtua

Mr Isa-Funtua died Monday night while keeping a doctor’s appointment, according to family sources.

He is suspected to have died of cardiac arrest as he was not known to be seriously sick.

The Katsina-born newspaper publisher and industrialist was a minister under the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari.

A member of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference, he was also the founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited, which built some of the iconic public buildings in Abuja.

A relative of the deceased octogenarian, Mohammed Isa, confirmed the news of his death to Bloomgist News

He said Mr Isa-Funtua will be buried on Tuesday in Abuja.

Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, also confirmed the death.

Mr Shehu said Mr Isa-Funtua was returning from the mosque where he went to pray when he suddenly fell ill and decided to go see a doctor.

Beyoncé unveils trailer for Disney+ visual album Black is King

Beyoncé has released a trailer for her new visual album, Black is King, which aims to promote “the beauty of tradition and black excellence”.

The film will premiere globally on Disney+ on 31 July and is a reimagining of the live-action remake of The Lion King with music from Beyoncé’s album The Lion King: The Gift, which was released last year.

Little is known about the narrative elements of the project but Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland, Naomi Campbell and Pharrell Williams will all feature. It is described as a visual album that “reimagines the lessons of The Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns”.

Black is King was shot in South Africa, west Africa, Belgium, Los Angeles, New York and London over the course of a year, with Beyoncé serving as executive producer, alongside a creative team that included the Dutch-Ghanian film-maker Emmanuel Adjei, the Ghanaian pop star Blitz Bazawule and the Belgian visual artist Pierre Debusschere.

In 2016, Beyoncé released her sixth record, Lemonade, as a visual album with a premiere on HBO that featured poetry by the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, with segments that were shot by a group of film-makers including the Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas and Kahlil Joseph.Advertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Lemonade was one of the first times that Beyoncé had openly expressed her political views, with scenes that depicted the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin holding photographs of their sons.

Black is King will focus on “the voyages of black families … [and] a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity,” according to a press release, which also says it is a celebration of “black resilience and culture”.

It adds: “His ancestors help guide him toward his destiny, and with his father’s teachings and guidance from his childhood love, he earns the virtues needed to reclaim his home and throne.”

In an address to the BET awards, the singer called on African-Americans to vote in order to “dismantle a racist and unequal system” in the US. On Juneteenth – a holiday celebrated in the US to mark the official end of slavery – Beyoncé released Black Parade, a track calling for “peace and reparation for my people”.

She also wrote to the attorney general of Kentucky to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman killed by police officers while asleep in her home. Taylor’s death sparked Black Lives Matter protests.

#BBNaija: participants from Lagos, Imo, Bayelsa… states dominated BBNaija ‘Lockdown’ house

The 2020 Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) reality TV show kick-started activities on Sunday with the unveiling of the 20 housemates, most of whom hail from Lagos state.

It is also worthy of note that the majority of the 20 housemates are entrepreneurs running their own ventures while the entire team spanned people of diverse professions.

Of all the housemates, seven introduced themselves as natives of Lagos while some of the participants who are from other states, turned out to be resident in the commercial city.

Two of the 20 individuals have links to London; two came from Bayelsa; two are from Imo. Others spanned people from Enugu, Abia, Benue, Edo, Rivers, Sokoto, as well as Delta.

On the age range for the new housemates, the organisers selected individuals between ages of 22 and 35, with the majority spanning those between the ages of 24 and 28.

The 2020 edition of the BBNaija show had earlier raised concerns among viewers considering that it is holding at about the same time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show’s organisers however addressed this by revealing measures put in place towards protecting participants from the novel virus both prior to and during the show’s run time.

All 20 housemates are now expected to vie for the grand prize of N85 million, within which other benefits are included and ahead of which evictions will emerge as competitions and voting kick in.

If you go down to the woods … dark discoveries in Nothing Can Hurt You. Photograph: Dominic Burke/Alamy

The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup

Not a linear plot but a series of vignettes, Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicola Maye Goldberg (Raven, £12.99) is a superbly unsettling account of the aftermath of a murder told in 12 different voices, the last being the victim herself. In 1997, 21-year-old college student Sara Morgan was killed by her schizophrenic boyfriend Blake Campbell, her body left in woods in New York state. Acquitted after pleading temporary insanity, Blake went on to marry and raise a family. Sara was reduced to “just a name on a plaque in a community garden”, but her murder affected the lives of all those it touched, from the troubled housewife who discovered her body to the half-sister who was only two when she died. Reactions vary from grief and bafflement to voyeurism and obsession, with a subplot about a serial killer giving wider context to how society deals with violence against women. If you’re after a whodunnit, there’s nothing to see, but for a perceptive and moving account of people trying to process a senseless act, look no further.

The Divine Boys by Laura Restrepo

Gender-based violence is also the subject of The Divine Boys by Colombian novelist Laura Restrepo, translated by Carolina De Robertis (Amazon Crossing, £8.99), an unflinching account of posh boys on the rampage in Bogota. Now pushing 40, but still wedded to their adolescent rituals, the members of the self-styled Tutti Frutti gang are, in their different ways, narcissists to a man. Hobbit, the least successful and most peripheral of the five, narrates the story of how Muñeco, the most dangerous of their number, kidnaps an unnamed little girl from the city’s slums. Initially, the others rally round to help him evade capture, but as the full extent of his crime is revealed, their loyalties begin to waver. This is a compelling story of toxic masculinity, entitlement born of privilege, and lost innocence.

The Sandpit by Nicholas Shakespeare

The masonic intimacy of the old boy network operates in a rather different way in The Sandpit (Harvill Secker, £16.99), Nicholas Shakespeare’s first work of fiction in a decade. In this wonderfully written thriller, former foreign correspondent and single father John Dyer (first seen in Shakespeare’s 1995 novel, The Dancer Upstairs) has returned home from Brazil so that his young son can attend his alma mater in Oxford while he sits in the Taylorian library researching a book. Things have changed since Dyer’s time – the “school gates” set are now mainly foreigners whose wealth seems to be of dubious provenance and who are using the school to “launder” their children – and the only other parent he really connects with is Iranian scientist Rustum Marvar. When Marvar and his son disappear, after revealing that he has made a potentially revolutionary breakthrough in nuclear fission and handing over his research, Dyer becomes the focus of much interest and begins to consider the other parents in a new and dangerous light. The Sandpit is as much about love, loss and fatherhood as it is about intrigue. It is old school in the best possible way, with an insidious escalation of menace, and paranoia that fairly shimmers off the pages.

Brixton Hill by Lottie Moggach;

There’s more paranoia in Lottie Moggach’s literary thriller Brixton Hill (Corsair, £14.99). Rob is nearing the end of a seven-year sentence for manslaughter at the south London prison and, as part of his reintroduction to the world, is allowed out on day release to volunteer in a charity shop. As long as he keeps his head down on the inside and stays away from temptation on the outside, the parole board will look on him favourably, but a chance encounter with an attractive woman, Steph, threatens to jeopardise his release. As the narrative baton is passed between the two of them, we learn that Steph inhabits a different kind of jail – a soulless flat in an almost empty luxury development – with a different kind of jailer. All the requisite psychological suspense tropes are well orchestrated, but where this novel really stands out is in its realistic depiction of daily life in the nick: a toxic brew of boredom, myriad indignities, petty one-upmanship and fear.

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

Organised crime may not be an obvious splice with romantic suspense, but Caroline Mackenzie merges them to good effect in her debut novel, One Year of Ugly (Borough, £12.99). Having fled the dysfunctional socialist regime of their native Venezuela for Trinidad, the extended Palacios family find themselves forced to work for a crime lord in order to pay off a debt incurred by now-deceased Aunt Celia. The eponymous Ugly is a people trafficker, and the clan must play host to his newly arrived charges; narrator Yola falls for enforcer Roman and a clandestine affair begins. All the sneaking around is difficult enough, but when Yola’s devout spinster aunt becomes suspicious of her new “guests” and winds up shooting one of them, things go from bad to worse. A sharp, funny narrator and a cast of colourful characters make this a perfect staycation read.

How to make cooling summer cocktails, iced coffee and soft drinks

A home-infused gin provokes shrieks of delight and you get to line your kitchen shelves with colourful bottles. CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY
A home-infused gin provokes shrieks of delight and you get to line your kitchen shelves with colourful bottles. CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY

‘Yes, here, you get out here.’ I’m not convinced but tumble out of the New York cab and stand in a street of mysterious frontages and even more mysterious smells. I’m on my way to meet the restaurant critic who writes the Hungry City column for The New York Times. This features simple restaurants off the beaten track, mom-and-pop hole-in-the-walls and the like.

I venture behind the heavy plastic curtain indicated by the cabby and am shouted at by a small, irate Chinese lady chopping a mountain of cabbages. Back to the map.

Forty minutes later I reach the Vietnamese restaurant where I’m supposed to have lunch, flustered and parched. I’m handed an iced coffee in a bucket-sized cup. I’ve had iced coffee before. I make my own iced coffee, carefully balancing coffee strength with milkiness, so this is no big deal.

But then I taste it: cold, strong and childishly sweet. I fall instantly in love.Forget all those cocktails with paper umbrellas. Simple summer drinks that you’ve put a little thought into are much more chic

When I get home I check recipes – they’re barely recipes, just coffee and sweetened condensed milk in specific proportions – and become an addict. Vietnamese coffee is what I drink on hot nights, the coffee making the most satisfying crackle at it’s poured over ice. Ideally you should use a special little Vietnamese metal filter called a phin ca phe, but a simple plastic filter does the trick.

It has been a hot summer so a lot of iced coffee has been downed in my kitchen, but so too has hibiscus agua fresca. Please don’t roll your eyes. I know hibiscus isn’t an everyday ingredient (and I hesitated many times before placing an online order for the dried flowers) but I’ve kept a jug of this in the fridge all summer.

Aguas frescas (Spanish for ‘cool waters’) are non-alcoholic Mexican drinks made from fruit, nuts, seeds or flowers mixed with water, sugar and (often) lime juice. Watermelon and cucumber aguas frescas are also thirst-quenchingly brilliant, but make the hibiscus version once and you’ll keep doing it (and people will beg you for the recipe and your precious flowers).

When you have friends round, an imaginative drink isn’t necessary but it shows that you care and, with a few small plates, can make a meal. It’s also, if you’re a keen cook, an interesting area in which to dabble.

A home-infused gin (my rhubarb stuff, made earlier in the year, is all gone now so I’m on the raspberry version below) provokes shrieks of delight and you get to line your kitchen shelves with colourful bottles.

Forget all those cocktails with paper umbrellas. Simple summer drinks that you’ve put a little thought into are much more chic (and Vietnamese coffee the best late-night vice you could develop).

Raspberry gin

CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY

This is a ‘quick’ infusion because raspberries (and other berries of a similar structure) flavour and colour alcohol quickly. It’s ready in two weeks. You can add more sugar if you want, once you’ve drained the raspberries off and tasted the gin. 

MAKES

About 1 litre

INGREDIENTS 

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 400g raspberries
  • 800ml good-quality gin (because the raspberry flavour is delicate)

METHOD

  1. Put the caster sugar in a  2.5 litre jar. (A preserving jar, with a good clasp on the lid, is best but any other large lidded jar will do. Clean it well in soapy water before using.)  
  2. Drop in the raspberries on top of the sugar. Add the gin and close the lid. Leave somewhere dark for a couple of weeks. If it sits in the sun the colour fades.
  3. Strain the alcohol through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and bottle the gin. Drink with tonic water, or mix with tonic water and regular gin.  

Ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee)

CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY

This is now the only iced coffee I ever make – there’s no mucking about with sugar syrup or adjusting the quantity of milk. 

SERVES

1

INGREDIENTS

  • 25g finely ground coffee
  • 130ml just-boiled water
  • 30ml (about 1½ tbsp) sweetened condensed milk 
  • crushed or cubed ice, to serve

METHOD

  1. Put the coffee into a filter paper inside a coffee filter. Set over a jug and pour the water over. 
  2. Put the condensed milk in the bottom of a glass. Add plenty of crushed or cubed ice. 
  3. Pour the filtered coffee from the jug over the ice and stir to mix the coffee and milk together.

Hibiscus agua fresca

CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY

A fabulous citrusy Mexican drink. Check health-food shops or try souschef.co.uk for hibiscus flowers, or use hibiscus teabags from Ocado. I like it pure and simple but you can add slices of ginger root, strips of orange zest, mint or basil leaves to the hibiscus along with the boiling water.

MAKES

About 1 litre

INGREDIENTS

  • 30g dried hibiscus flowers
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 125g caster sugar
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 500ml cold water
  • ice cubes and lime, to serve

METHOD

  1. Put the hibiscus flowers in a saucepan with the boiling water and simmer the mixture very gently on a low heat for about 20 minutes. 
  2. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve it. Leave until cool. 
  3. Pour the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the flowers to extract as much flavour as possible. Add the lime juice and the cold water to the hibiscus-infused liquid. 
  4. Taste to see if you’re happy with the levels of sweetness and tartness. Serve over ice and add slices of lime (you can also use the leftover flowers).

Paloma 

CREDIT: HAARALA HAMILTON & VALERIE BERRY

You can make this a slightly easier way: just use San Pellegrino sparkling grapefruit juice drink – three parts to one part tequila – and add lime juice and ice (no agave or soda needed).

SERVES

4

INGREDIENTS

  • 150ml tequila
  • 450ml pink-grapefruit juice
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 4-5 tbsp agave syrup, or added to taste
  • 200ml soda water
  • ice cubes, to serve

METHOD

  1. Mix the tequila and the grapefruit juice together with the lime juice. 
  2. Add the agave syrup (you can add it to taste if you prefer it less sweet).
  3. Top up with soda water and pour over ice.

Nicki Minaj flaunts baby bump as she finally confirms her pregnancy

After weeks of Speculation, US Rapper, Nicki Minaj, has finally confirmed that she’s expecting a child.

Continue reading “Nicki Minaj flaunts baby bump as she finally confirms her pregnancy”

Kai Havertz has reportedly agreed terms with Chelsea ahead of €80m move

IT’S HAPPENING.

Continue reading “Kai Havertz has reportedly agreed terms with Chelsea ahead of €80m move”

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