Real Madrid win on final day to secure title in La Liga over Barc lona

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Janusz Michallik and Alexis Nunes evaluate Real Madrid’s triumph in La Liga and why Barcelona were second best. (2:42)

Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in five years by beating Malaga 2-0 on the final day of the season on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid on their way with a goal in just the second minute before Karim Benzema made the lead comfortable in the second half to give the visitors a first Spanish league trophy under manager Zinedine Zidane.

With a draw enough to win the title, Madrid grabbed their chance immediately as Isco played in Ronaldo, who stepped around goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to provide the opening goal, his 14th strike in his last nine games.

Ronaldo had a chance to add a second goal in the first half but shot straight at Kameni, then after the break suffered a scare following a late tackle from Federico Ricca, though he was OK to continue.

The title was all but sealed in the 55th minute following a corner. Sergio Ramos’ initial shot was saved but came back out to Raphael Varane, who fed Benzema to double the lead.

Madrid comfortably saw out the final minutes and lifted the trophy for the first time since 2011-12. They will have a chance to add to their haul this season when they defend their title as European champions against Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.

Barcelona fought back from a two-goal deficit to beat Eibar 4-2 but ultimately fell three points adrift of Madrid in the title race.

Takashi Inui provided a shock lead for Eibar in the seventh minute and doubled the visitors’ advantage on the hour mark.

But Barca hit back immediately as Neymar’s shot came off the post into the path of David Junca, who redirected it over the line for an own goal.

Lionel Messi had a chance to equalise on 70 minutes only to see his penalty saved by Yoel Rodriguez, though Luis Suarez was able to level the score from close range three minutes later.

Two minutes after that, Ander Capa was sent off for bringing down Neymar in the box and this time Messi was on target from the spot to complete the comeback, before the Argentina star added another late on with a sliding shot from the middle of the box.

Ateltico Madrid brought down the curtain on the Vicente Calderon with a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.

Striker Fernando Torres, a boyhood fan of the club, scored twice as Diego Simeone’s side made a lightning start to go 2-0 up inside 11 minutes.

Although Inaki Williams pulled a goal back with just under 20 minutes remaining, Atleti ensured the final three points at the stadium would be theirs when substitute Angel Correa scored its last-ever league goal.

Bilbao’s defeat, coupled with a dramatic 2-2 draw for Real Sociedad at Celta Vigo, meant Sociedad guaranteed Europa League football next season thanks to a 93rd-minute Juanmi equaliser.

A penalty from Iago Aspas put Celta Vigo ahead but Mikel Oyarzabal levelled after 82 minutes before Andrew Hjulsager looked to have won it for Celta.

But Juanmi was left unmarked to head home a corner and secure the all-important point.

Villarreal secured fifth place in the table as an excellent performance brought them a 3-1 win at Valencia.

The visitors led in the first minute when former Spurs striker Roberto Soldado scored.

Nani levelled after the break, but Manu Trigueros was quickly on the mark to restore Villarreal’s lead and Nicola Sansone added another to wrap the game up.

Kane: Golden Boot was looking unlikely

21/05/2017

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Harry Kane, Spurs

Spurs striker says second successive Golden Boot was in doubt before seven goals in final two matches

Harry Kane says he feels an extra sense of pride after winning what appeared to be the most unlikely of Golden Boots.

Kane was two goals behind leading scorer Romelu Lukaku, of Everton, with only four days of 2016/17 left to play.

But he fired four at Leicester City on Thursday night and ended the season in style with a hat-trick at Hull City, taking his tally to 29 and making him only the fifth player in Premier League history to finish as top scorer in successive campaigns.

See: 2016/17 top scorers

“It’s a great feeling,” said Kane, who was handed the award by Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino in the video above.

“It looked unlikely over the last few weeks – I was just nipping away at Lukaku – but to finish in the way I did is a very proud moment for me.”

See Kane: It’s a dream to play for this team

Chelsea celebrate title triumph

21/05/2017
Chelsea v Sunderland

Best images and posts from Stamford Bridge as the Blues lift Premier League Trophy for fifth time

Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
It’s party time at the Bridge as Chelsea lift the Premier League trophy
Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
John Terry makes an emotional address to the Chelsea fans on his final appearance for the club
Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
Antonio Conte gets a soaking after leading Chelsea to the title in his first season at the club
Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
Celebrating the title is a family affair and Antonio Conte lifts the trophy with his wife and daughter
Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
Diego Costa and his daughter have a moment to cherish
Chelsea celebrate Premier League title triumph
Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi get a chance to put their hands on the trophy

Horrible lives of Nigerian girls trafficked into Italy

The Nigerian girls are given a plastic bag containing a litre of water, a piece of fruit and a sandwich. They’re ushered to a vinyl tent for “vulnerabili” — the vulnerable ones.

For at least 30 years, Nigerian women have been trafficked into Europe for sex work, but numbers have spiked recently. In 2014, the trickle of a few hundred women a year grew to nearly 1,500. The following year, it increased again to 5,600. In 2016, at least 11,009 Nigerian women and girls arrived on Italian shores.

These women used to arrive on planes with visas. Now, they come the “back way” — the smuggling route that has developed across Africa to bring hundreds of thousands of Africans to Europe.

Women make up a smaller percentage of total African arrivals to Europe, and aid response for them has been slow and misguided. Although the International Organization of Migration estimates that 80 percent of Nigerian females coming to Europe are trafficked, aid workers have no way of telling those seeking opportunity from those forced against their will. They hand out flyers warning against trafficking.

Time is of the essence: If officials can establish trust, girls who have not been trafficked may be less likely to become ensnared in sex work once they are in Europe. And those who were trafficked are more likely to supply details that reveal that they have been trafficked, allowing the IOM to refer them to Italy’s national anti-trafficking network, or local prosecutors, who can help them get international protection.

In the best-case scenario, they are placed in a safe house run by nuns or an NGO, which is supposed to house them for up to three years and try to integrate them into European life with school and job training, with the goal of becoming independent.

That’s the ideal scenario — but it rarely happens. Safe houses are built for a dozen women — there aren’t nearly enough to take in the thousands of women arriving.

Traffickers know this.

Before leaving for Italy, Nigerian traffickers give the girls and women a phone number for a madam, and tell them to call as soon as they arrive. Madams are older Nigerian women, sometimes former prostitutes themselves, who have climbed the organisational ranks. A younger male is also involved, working for the madam by following, watching and accompanying the young women.

After arriving, the Nigerian women are taken with other asylum-seekers to facilities around Italy, built to house them as they await their documents. Teeming with people from Nigeria, The Gambia, Eritrea and elsewhere, many of whom have been there more than a year, they’re allowed to come and go, and use cell phones.

“Madams actually recruit inside the big immigration centres,” explains Tiziana Bianchini, who works for Lotta Contro l’Emarginazione, a Milan-based organisation with an anti-trafficking mission. This means that girls who may not have been trafficked run the risk of falling into criminal networks once they are in Italy.

Peace is one teen girl who, in 2013 at the age of 17, migrated by boat to Sicily and was brought to CARA of Mineo, the largest refugee camp in Europe. Located in Sicily’s eastern province of Catania, the centre, once an American military base, houses more than 3,000 men and women. It has become notorious for its dubious finances and for giving residents cigarettes instead of the payments they are entitled to under Italian law.

While she still lived in the camp, Peace stopped a Nigerian man on a street nearby, and asked to borrow his phone. She dialled the number she had been told to, and spoke to the Nigerian woman on the other line. Within days she was a sex worker. “Once you make the call, you’re off. You never go back to the camp,” she says.

I met her earlier this year in a small room in Sicily where church services are held, several months after she left the street.

She’s an energetic, fast-talking, smiley young woman, whose youthful stature is nonetheless marked by a distinct confidence. She wears her hair up high, with a long braid hanging down her back, bouncing as she walks and talks in the glaring Sicilian sunlight.

Peace isn’t her real name — it’s an alias we agreed to use because she still lives in fear of her traffickers, or that she’ll be deported. Or of repercussions for her family because she didn’t finish repaying her debt.

Trafficking officials would call her a typical victim: She grew up in Benin City, in the heart of Nigeria’s poor, rural southwestern Edo State, a major source of trafficked sex workers in Europe. She’s the eldest girl from a large family — and older girls are the most likely to be trafficked. Her mother died when Peace was 16, and her father “was not caring.”

She decided to leave, feeling the pressure of needing to help her family financially, and escaping from a situation that was hurting her.

When a woman approached her, telling her she was beautiful and asking if she wanted to go to Europe, Peace agreed. She knew she’d have to work on the street, and she knew she would need to pay the woman 30,000 euros once she arrived in Europe. She completed what Nigerians call the “juju oath,” an animist, spiritual contract in which the girl agrees to be brought to Europe, and binds herself to her debt with bits of her pubic hair and blood.

The ritual is taken extremely seriously — and violation is considered justification for murder of a girl or her family.

“Back then, I just thought, f*** it,” said Peace.

Languishing in the camps

The lax oversight at these migrant centres has led to calls for a different response to migrant arrivals in Italy. The centres, which Italians call “welcome homes” and the people inside call “camps,” were Italy’s stop-gap solution to provide recent arrivals with housing as they awaited their documents or the result of their applications for international protection.

A process that was supposed to take a couple of months now lasts years, while applicants languish in overcrowded centres, often in the middle of nowhere.

“Italy was completely unable to create a national program to deal with the arrivals from Africa,” said Bianchini, explaining that the responsibility lies with understaffed and underfunded local governments, who end up outsourcing the oversight of these camps to private organisations, “making contracts with whoever.”

This means there is little oversight or transparency. Much of the staff operating these centres speak little to no English (nor French nor Arabic for that matter), the centres are overcrowded, and the people inside of them tend to be given little access to information on Italy’s legal system.

When I visited one centre, many people asked me if they should try to get to France. Rumour has it that it’s increasingly tough to cross the borders out of Italy.

“The Italian system of housing asylum-seekers is completely inadequate for victims of trafficking,” Bianchini added, noting that women in general, but especially victims of trafficking, require specific psychological and educational support that these centres are unable to provide.

Every so often, law enforcement officials in Italy decide it’s time for a sweep and deport Nigerian women back to Nigeria, where they run the risk of being re-trafficked.

“Forcibly returning the girls to Nigeria would be another heavy violence against them,” explains Sister Valeria Gandini, a missionary nun who eight years ago founded Palermo’s Street Unity, a group of lay and religious volunteers who visit the women on the street each week. “Sooner or later, they will meet the same people who betrayed them and brought them to Europe the first time around.”

Deportation rumours often spur more women to run away.

Impossible to pay

Another young Nigerian woman who ran away from her camp, only to wind up on the street, is Favour — again, not her real name. When I met her, she had a big, warm smile beneath a fashionable knit cap.

Like Peace, Favour is from Edo State, though from the more rural area, outside of the city. Before she agreed to seal the oath, Favour asked the woman who approached her if she was going to Europe to “do prostitution.” It was only once the woman assured her that she would be working in a shop that Favour agreed.

She was told the money would be easy to come by once she was in Europe.

When she first arrived at the madam’s house, Favour was exhausted. She slept for two days. On the third day, the woman said it was time to go to work.

In addition to the 30,000 euros she had to pay off, she would have to pay 80 euros a week for food, 250 euros a month for the rent, as well as the gas and electric bills. Favour was ready: OK, no problem. Just show me the shop, she said.

First, the woman took her shopping. They bought clothes that Favour says she “didn’t understand.” A few days later, the woman said she was ready for work. They took bus after bus, and then they walked. She found herself in the “bush,” standing on the side of the road. She was told to put on different clothes, clothes she had bought earlier with the woman, and that were now tucked inside the bag she had brought.

When it finally dawned on her what she would have to do, Favour cried. She cried all day, and for many days she refused to work. When she went home with nothing, the woman would beat her. After some time, she felt she had no choice, and she gave in.

In Palermo, women and underage girls like Peace and Favour work the streets among the trees lining the busy road of La Favorita, or along the trash- and urine-ridden streets around the port.

They are there six nights, or days, a week, depending on their shifts. As the months get warmer, the clothes get skimpier: see-through tights that reveal a lacy thong, shirts open to reveal naked breasts. They wear wigs directly from Nigeria that cost 20 euros each. Blessing (not her real name), a woman of tiny stature and boundless energy who works on a Palermo street, shows off her fake eyelashes, which can stay on for several weeks

Peace now shares an apartment with an Italian woman whom she helps around the house. In her room, she brushes her hair, smiles often and laughs a lot. She is candid but guarded about her experience working on the street.

“It all depends on the client,” she says. “Sometimes, those clients don’t even want sex so much as they want company, and with them, you try to be jovial, you make them laugh. But then there are the clients who don’t want to pay you, the clients who are aggressive. Those are the bad clients.” Peace can talk about it without showing too much emotion, but she is reluctant to go too deep. She would like to go back to Nigeria eventually, but for now, she feels pressure to make money, either for herself or her family — she wasn’t clear.

Favour’s experiences were worse. Once, a client knifed her. Another time, two men who approached her gave her a bad feeling. “Via,” she told them. “I’m not working tonight.” “You must,” they replied, before slapping her and dragging her into a room in a local train station. She cried a lot as she told her story. When she came to, she said she asked the first person she found to bring her to the hospital.

After that, she decided to get out.

Getting out

The Street Unity group in the town where she was working had been asking her for months if she wanted out. Street Unity groups, like that established by Sister Valeria in Palermo, approach the girls offering medical support, and in the case of the religious groups, prayer.

The Nigerian women are extremely religious (there is no one in Nigeria, Peace once said, who can honestly say that they don’t believe in God), and prayer is often a source of bonding. Once the connections have been established, the groups can be a way off of the street — a difficult and uneasy step.

Sicily has a 22-percent unemployment rate, high even by Italian standards. The only jobs available to Nigerian women are in cleaning or taking care of the elderly or children. But these jobs require Italian language skills, and they don’t come with guarantees of good payment or treatment.

As Sister Valeria sees it, “the women who are victims of trafficking, who have been forced into sex work for years, who are in the end destroyed, physically and psychologically — what future can they have here?”

Against all odds, Peace one day decided she would leave. It was a scary decision, because of the juju oath she had made back in Nigeria. Article 18 of Italy’s Consolidated Immigration Act provides protection and temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking who denounce their traffickers or madams, or who show visible signs of being in immediate psychological or physical danger.

But Peace, like many of these women, refused to take this route. Denouncing her madam or her trafficker would be the biggest violation of her oath. “I’m protected, in Europe,” she explains, “but I have to think about my family.”

Back in Nigeria, it would be easy for them to be killed or badly hurt. And, there is the fear of going crazy. She talks about her friend, Mary, who convinced a whole group of girls to denounce their madam. Mary has since gone “totally wacko” — a problem, Peace explains, that is not psychological but spiritual, linked directly to the effects of the juju oath.

Peace and Favour are moving on with their lives. Peace attends classes in Italian, sewing and cooking. She sings in her town gospel choir, and helps organise meetings in her church’s community, where she leads discussions about work opportunities and community empowerment.

Favour lives in a safe house in northern Italy. She is also taking Italian classes, and the operators taking care of her are working hard to find her job opportunities so she can be independent one day. Peace says she’s thankful for her experiences. She feels she has grown, and says it’s for this reason that she does not think of herself as a victim (though she admits that she can say this only because she is no longer on the street).

Favour, for her part, calls herself “a very big victim,” but she is looking forward, too.

* Maggie Neil is a writer and researcher based in Italy, focusing on trafficking and migration thanks to a Fulbright research grant. She reported this story with the assistance of The Fuller Project for International Reporting.

‘Chibok 82: I am no longer angry with B/Haram – Lydia Joshua’s father

 NewsComments By Omeiza Ajayi •I am no longer angry with B/Haram – Lydia Joshua’s father •I looked for my daughter in terrorists’ hideout – Yana Joshua’s dad •Daughter’s abduction forced me to withdraw other kids from school – Amina Ali’s father •’21 returnees to resume school in September’ ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads Amid emotions, parents of the 82 recently released Chibok girls were, yesterday, reunited with their daughters who were abducted over three years ago by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State. The reunion took place at a security facility, where journalists were denied access. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads However, speaking with journalists before they met government officials who conveyed them to the facility, the parents, who were elated at the return of their daughters, begged the terrorist group to release the remaining girls in their custody. ‘No longer angry with Boko Haram’ Mr Adamu Joshua, father of Lydia Joshua, one of the 82 girls, could not hide his joy, saying he wished he had feathers so he could just fly. He said he was no longer angry with Boko Haram but urged it to release the remaining girls. Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja “We pray that the parents whose daughters are yet to be released experience the kind of joy that we are experiencing right now. In fact, we, parents from Chibok, are no longer angry with what Boko Haram did, as long as our daughters have been released. We are not going to open our mouth and insult anybody. We are grateful to President Buhari; we are very happy”, the ecstatic father said. “Lydia was my only daughter but, in her absence, God blessed me with another daughter. Now I have five boys and two daughters with the return of Lydia. I am so happy. If I have feathers, I would fly high. We thank God for everything. My daughter, Lydia, will be meeting her sister for the first time. My wife lost so much weight because she was always thinking of her daughter. She did not suspect that Lydia would ever return to us”. ‘I looked my daughter in Boko Haram’ On his part, Joshua Dirmi, father of Yana Joshua, recounted how he and other parents went after the sect that abducted his daughter, “but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers”. He went on: “Today, my mind feels as if this is the day I was born; even if I die today, I die a happy man because my greatest wish has been met. My gratitude goes to the whole world for the support and my prayer is that the other girls are returned to their parents like ours have been. We are also grateful to President Buhari for all his efforts in returning our daughters home. “If you had seen me after my daughter was taken, you would not have recognized me. If I came out to farm, my heart would be so heavy that I would be unable to farm. “After they were abducted, I was crying and running after them. I and the other fathers got as far as where we were told the girls were being held but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers. We are grateful to God for touching the terrorists’ minds and allowing them to release our daughters; we are pleading with them to release the rest so that we can live together in happiness’. ‘I withdrew other kids from school’ Mr Ali, another parent, said his wife cried everday after the girls were abducted. “I stopped my other children from going to school because I was afraid for their safety, but with the rescue of Amina Ali, my hope returned and I was able to allow them return to school”, he stated. “I do not think it will be wise for me to return to Chibok with my daughter right now; whatever government wants to do, I give them my blessings; whatever my daughter wants, either to go to school or do anything else would be supported by me fully. I just want her to be happy, that is all that matters to me. All I care about right now is the fact that she is out”. Vice Chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, Yakubu Nkeki, who is also an uncle of one of the returnee-girls, commended government for the abductees release, adding that while government wanted the parents to stay up to a week in Abuja, the parents decided to just spend two days so they could go back home. “The parents would be returning to Chibok on Monday morning because this is the season for farming. Everyone is preparing because this is the planting season as the rain falls, so they can plant groundnut. You know villagers, everyone is eager to return to his farm which is why we do not want to stay for more than two to three days,”Nkeki said. “It is our making and not that of government; they want us to even stay for at least a week but we said we want to go back. We have to return and take care of the young ones; you know that you are not a man if you cannot provide food. The parents will stay with them today (Saturday) till 5pm, then we will leave the girls and return tomorrow (Sunday) for church service with the girls. We will stay till evening with the girls and then say, ‘bye bye’ and be on our way on Monday morning. We discussed with the parents and they agreed to this. “Government paid for their transportation, feeding and accommodation. They preferred to come by road, but government offered to fly them in but our women were scared to fly, so they travelled by road. Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja ’21 girls to resume school in September’ “We do not know when the girls will be allowed to return; they are being taken care of right now, their health and other issues….but with the 21, they will be posted to different schools by September, based on their performance. They have stayed away from the classroom for more than three years”. BBOG reacts Meanwhile, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement has commended the Federal Government for facilitating the reunification. Spokesman for the group, Sesugh Akume, said, yesterday, “The reunion between parents and their daughters went so well today. The parents arrived at 6:00 amtoday. We spoke with some on the phone, they were ecstatic. “Today is a milestone. The joy is unspeakable. Kudos to the FG for finally facilitating the meeting. We look forward to the remaining 113 girls coming back and reuniting with their families. We also hope that the parents who are still waiting will get support and succour from government and not feel neglected and forgotten”.

‘Chibok 82: I am no longer angry with B/Haram – Lydia Joshua’s father

Amid emotions, parents of the 82 recently released Chibok girls were, yesterday, reunited with their daughters who were abducted over three years ago by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State.

The reunion took place at a security facility, where journalists were denied access.

However, speaking with journalists before they met government officials who conveyed them to the facility, the parents, who were elated at the return of their daughters, begged the terrorist group to release the remaining girls in their custody.

‘No longer angry with Boko Haram’

Mr Adamu Joshua, father of Lydia Joshua, one of the 82 girls,  could not hide his joy, saying he wished he had feathers so he could just fly. He said he was no longer angry with Boko Haram but urged  it to release the remaining girls.

Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja

“We pray that the parents whose daughters are yet to be released  experience the kind of joy that we are experiencing right now. In fact, we, parents from Chibok, are no longer angry with what Boko Haram did, as long as our daughters have been released. We are not going to open our mouth and insult anybody. We are grateful to President Buhari; we are very happy”, the ecstatic father said.

“Lydia was my only daughter but, in her absence, God blessed me with another daughter. Now I have five boys and two daughters with the return of Lydia. I am so happy. If I  have feathers, I would fly high. We thank God for everything. My daughter, Lydia, will be meeting her sister for the first time. My wife lost so much weight because she was always thinking of her daughter. She did not suspect that Lydia would ever return to us”.

‘I looked my daughter in Boko Haram’

On his part, Joshua Dirmi, father of Yana Joshua, recounted how he  and other parents went after the sect that abducted his daughter, “but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers”. He went on: “Today, my mind feels as if this is the day I was born; even if I die today, I die a happy man because my greatest wish has been met. My gratitude goes to the whole world for the support and my prayer is that the other girls are returned to their parents like ours have been. We are also grateful to President Buhari for all his efforts in returning our daughters home.

“If you had seen me after my daughter was taken, you would not have recognized me. If I came out to farm, my heart would be so heavy that I would be unable to farm.

“After they were abducted, I was crying and running after them. I and the other fathers got as far as where we were told  the girls were being held but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers. We are grateful to God for touching the terrorists’ minds and allowing them to release our daughters; we are pleading with them to release the rest so that we can live together in happiness’.

‘I withdrew other kids from school’

Mr Ali, another parent, said his wife cried everday after the girls were abducted. “I  stopped my other children from going to school because I was afraid for their safety, but with the rescue  of Amina Ali, my hope returned and I was able to allow them return to school”, he stated.

“I do not think it will be wise for me to return to Chibok with my daughter right now; whatever  government wants to do, I give them my blessings; whatever my daughter wants, either to go to school or do anything else would be supported by me fully. I just want her to be happy, that is all that matters to me. All I care about right now is the fact that she is out”.

Vice Chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, Yakubu Nkeki, who is also an uncle of one of the returnee-girls,  commended  government for the abductees  release, adding that while government wanted the parents to stay up to a week in Abuja, the parents decided to just spend two days so they could go back home.

“The parents would be returning to Chibok  on Monday  morning because this is the season for farming. Everyone is preparing because this is the planting season as the rain falls, so they can plant groundnut. You know villagers, everyone is eager to return to his farm which is why we do not want to stay for more than two to three days,”Nkeki said.

“It is our making and not that of government; they want us to even stay for at least a week but we said we want to go back. We have to return and take care of the young ones; you know that you are not a man if you cannot provide food. The parents will stay with them today (Saturday) till  5pm, then we will leave the girls and return  tomorrow  (Sunday) for church service with the girls. We will stay till evening with the girls and then say, ‘bye bye’ and be on our way on Monday  morning. We discussed with the parents and they agreed to this.

“Government paid for their transportation, feeding and accommodation. They preferred to come by road, but government offered to fly them in but our women were scared to fly, so they travelled by road.

Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja

’21 girls to resume school in September’

“We do not know when the girls will be allowed to return; they are being taken care of right now, their health and other issues….but with the 21, they will be posted to different schools by September, based on their performance. They have stayed away from the classroom for more than three years”.

BBOG reacts

Meanwhile, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement has commended the Federal Government for facilitating the reunification.

Spokesman for the group, Sesugh Akume, said, yesterday, “The reunion between parents and their daughters went so well today. The parents arrived at  6:00 amtoday. We spoke with some on the phone, they were ecstatic.

“Today is a  milestone. The joy is unspeakable. Kudos to the FG for finally facilitating the meeting. We look forward to the remaining 113 girls coming back and reuniting with their families. We also hope that the parents who are still waiting will get support and succour from  government and not feel neglected and forgotten”.

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Once strong, Buhari’s voice now trails into distant echo

 Frankly SpeakingComments By Dele Sobowale “What does corrupting time not diminish?…Horace, 65-8BC.(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ,P 247). Like him or not, Americans know they have a President who is truly hale and hearty. He speaks to them everyday and even twits to several people. Call him the Liar-In-Chief, or Twitterer-In-Chief, but you are constantly aware of his presence and you hear his voice. Madame Mussolini, Britain’s Theresa May, can be seen and heard. North Koreans probably also listen to their master in their sleep. All over the world, political leaders demonstrate their leadership by being seen and by talking to their people. Vitality is not announced by mealy-mouthed aides but by open demonstration of health. The Buhari we knew and who received our endorsement in 2011 and again in 2015 was one of these people. He had cultivated the image of a strong leader, vigorous even at his age and ready to run a government without caving under the burden of leadership. The Buhari who landed in Nigeria after several weeks spent receiving treatment in London and who announced that “I have never been this sick in my life” already had us discounting the credit given him for excellent health. The discount was more than it should ordinarily have been if Buhari’s “friends”, associates, spokesmen and court jesters have not been telling us that the President was “hale and hearty”. Unfortunately, when their lies exploded in their faces some of them still persisted in painting the picture of the President’s health situation which soon became debunked. Buhari missed two Federal Executive Council, FEC, meetings in a row, a Minister promptly “informed” Nigerians that “it is not unusual for a President to miss a FEC meeting”. He could not cite a single example of a President present in Nigeria who missed the weekly meeting with Ministers – while in the country. For the record, Nigeria has had seven Presidents. They were: Azikiwe, Shagari, Babangida, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari. Azikiwe was the ceremonial President while IBB was the military president. It should not have been difficult for the Minister to point out which of them established the precedent on which he was defending the indefensible. It was not difficult but impossible because it never happened – except in the fertile imagination of somebody who unfortunately is one of the voices speaking on behalf of Buhari now. The Buhari we used to know, who spoke in steady audible but strong voice; who measured his utterances and made them short and sensible is no more with us – now that we need him the most. Instead, what Nigerians receive these days, if anything at all, are statements released to the media on his behalf by those shielding him from those who took the trouble to vote for him in 2015. Quite frequently, the messages are conflicting, like the ramblings of a drunkard. Too often it is difficult to separate fact from fantasy. One thing is certain; just as Trump added “Fake News” to global lexicon, Buhari’s spokesmen have up-ended semantics by telling the entire world that a man who admittedly had health challenges can be described as “hale and hearty”. Beyond the stupidity of perpetual dissembling by presidential aides are the loss of “contact” and the attending loss of confidence between the President and his people. While everybody counts on Election Day, the leaders of opinion count far more long before the ballot boxes are to be stuffed. Buhari might not be aware of this, and his closest associates will certainly not tell him, Buhari’s greatest loss of support increasingly comes from well-educated people, irrespective of ethnic group or religion, who, fed-up with corruption and lack of direction under Jonathan, voted for the change of government. They not only voted for Buhari, they canvassed for votes for him. I am personally aware of entire churches in Lagos State whose members voted for APC in 2015 because they believed in vintage Buhari. They will still not vote for GEJ today if the election is repeated. But, they will not vote Buhari either; because they don’t understand the man anymore and they are not sure if he can continue in office. Even, his strongest selling point in 2015 – anti-corruption – fight is not so solid anymore. The Senate finally succeeded in digging up sufficient evidence to make serious allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, who had earlier been “cleared” by the Executive Branch of wrong-doing. Recruitment into the Department of State Services, DSS, recently released not only proved beyond reasonable doubt that vacancies in government were being secretly filled, but by allocations to the powerful and a section where f the country. A new form of corruption has opened up under Buhari. A powerful address to the nation was long overdue but, there was no voice to deliver it. Unfortunately, after 70, nobody gets stronger, notwithstanding the flatteries of sycophants. The leader ages more, becomes weaker and needs more rest more often. Leadership is weakened considerably. There lies the danger to Nigeria’s democracy. Ask many people today who is their choice after Buhari and all you receive back is a blank stare. We have apparently used up our stock of people capable of providing leadership at Abuja – not just at Aso Rock, but at the National Assembly, NASS, as well. Perhaps that is why some people, naturally, beneficiaries of the current state of affairs, are already muting the idea of Buhari for 2019. One of them, a Minister from the Niger Delta, who releases many more “inexactitudes” than any other Minister, probably takes as his example Zimbabwe – where Africans went from slavery under white men to servitude under an old black political monster. One only hopes that the Minister is only joking. The truth is: a man fighting for his life has very little energy left to fight for anything else. That is why the 2017 Budget languished for long in the NASS and the President could not and, therefore, did not shout at the top of his voice – because there is no voice anymore. All we have left now is a distant and fainting echo. DSS ARITHMETIC: KATSINA+KANO= 17 SOUTHERN STATES “It was beautiful and simple; as all truly great swindles are.” Henry, 1862-1910, (VBQ p 239). When a constant reader sent me a message claiming that secret recruitments into the Federal Civil Service, FCS, were underway, my reaction was “No way; not under Buhari”. After all, the man had declared publicly that he was “For everybody and for nobody”. That meant that the Federal Government would be fair to all Nigerians. His first twenty appointments were eye-openers; they were harbingers of inequities still to come. And many came. But, many of us still had hope that Buhari will soon introduce more equity into appointments at the Federal level. We were wrong; sadly wrong. Saturday Vanguard of April 29, 2017, on page 5, published a report which other papers have also carried. Titled “Outrage over FG’s appointments”, the report revealed that the DSS had recruited 479 people into the service out of which 51 or 10.6 per cent came from the President’s state – which also just happens to be the state the DG, DSS, Mr Daura, comes from. Kano State, far larger than Katsina, got 25 or 5 per cent. Kaduna and Bauchi followed in order, 24 and 23. Between them the four states of the North swallowed one quarter of all the available vacancies. My state, Lagos, received only seven (7) slots or 1.5 per cent. All the South-South states were allocated 42 slots or 8.8 per cent. Unless the DSS disclaims this report and these figures, the service would have destroyed whatever is left of Buhari’s credibility and his sense of equity. He is obviously now increasingly a Northern president, with scant regard for justice. The statement that he was for everybody and for nobody now rings hollow to ears that once received them as good tidings. The DSS recruitment has now introduced another form of corruption– CORRUPTION BY APPOINTMENTS. This is now sitting, side by side, on the same bench with CORRUPTION BY TENURE EXTENSION. Evidence with regard to the first can be provided by the fact that close to seventy (70) per cent of all the appointments made by Buhari had gone North – even before the scandalous DSS recruitment and Katsina had received more than a fair share each time. Tenure extension for civil servants, which is seldom granted, has never been extended more than once. Under Buhari the same individual has benefited from tenure extension twice. There is no prize for guessing that the beneficiary is a northerner. Many southerners who adopted a wait and see attitude about Buhari’s administration and the President’s sense of fairness are no longer waiting. They have seen enough. LAST LINE. Anybody who thinks we are going to stand in the sun in 2019 to endorse inequity in Lagos State needs to go and have his head examined.

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