Free visa for election observers

As Nigerians go to the polls for the presidential and national assembly contest, the Federal Government has approved visa fee waiver for accredited observers and monitors of the elections.

The Comptroller-General Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Muhammad Babandede, said in a statement in Abuja.

He said that the waiver was sequel to the re-scheduling of the general elections to Saturday for Presidential and National Assembly, from Feb. 16, and March 9 for Governorship and House of Assembly, from March 2.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave logistics and operational problems as reasons for shifting the polls.

Babandede said that waiver was in consideration of the plight of accredited observers and monitors who were caught-up by the re-scheduled elections.

He urged all affected individuals and organisations wishing to extend their stay or travel back to their countries and return for the next elections to visit NIS Visa Desk at INEC Headquarters.

“The desk officers will attend to those requiring extension of their visas issued Gratis (No Fee Charge).

“This provision became necessary to afford those affected, the opportunity to travel out or return without violating the immigration provisions that relates to entry and exit with valid visa and document.”.

Tension in Ondo as Lassa fever claims over 50 lives, residents, health workers panic

With over 50 deaths recorded in Ondo state as a result of Lassa fever outbreak, residents, as well as medical practitioners, are in panicky mood.

The endemic disease which BENGBENRO gathered has been ravaging the state for the past weeks has found its way into Akure, the Ondo State capital after cases were earlier reported in the border towns of the northern senatorial district area of the state.

According to some sources at the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owo, where victims were being taken to for treatment, the present the state government is not doing anything as expected at curbing the deadly disease.

Stating that the situation is going beyond control, a medical practitioner at the FMC, Owo disclosed that at the “isolation ward” of the hospital where patients of such outbreaks are treated, bed spaces are no longer available.

The medical practitioner who craved for anonymity, further confirmed to BENGBENRO that the medical facility is currently battling what she described as negligence from the part of some of her colleagues as a Lassa fever patient who was under observation “mysteriously” escaped from the hospital.

“What we currently facing, is quite beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

“Almost all the patients in the isolation ward are those that have contracted Lassa fever and most of the reported cases are from the border communities within Ose Local Government area of the state.

“It’s quite sad how the state government is not even attending to the situation.

“Citizens are dying from preventable disease, but the government is not showing any concern at all.”

Also, a source at the state’s Ministry of Health who requested that he should not be named being a civil servant, disclosed that the situation is such a terrible one that a state of emergency ought to have been declared within the state health sector.

The medical doctor in the ministry berated the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for allowing the situation to deteriorate to its present level, due to what he described as lackadaisical attitude on the part of the governor.

“From the ministry here, we have approached the governor, on the need to urgently arrest the situation but he his not seeing it that way.

“He claims there are no funds to spend on the medical needs of these people (Lassa fever patient) but let’s be frank with ourselves, all those money being spent on political activities in the state, where are they coming from?

“I believe it is high time our political leaders started to set their priorities right. Because in the real sense of it, it’s those that will vote for them that are dying so cheaply.

“You won’t believe that as terrible as the situation is at present, there’s no single sensitization or awareness going on in the state as regards the outbreak, all in the name of that there is no fund.

“Even for the outbreak to effectively contained, schools within the affected communities should have been shut with intensive awareness taken to market places, churches, mosques and other public places.

“It will interest you to know that health workers might down tools if anyone of us is affected.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro emphasized that the situation calls for a combined effort of stakeholders as the state cannot bear the burden alone.

Dr. Adegbenro disclosed that the treatment of a Lassa patient costs at least N1.2m, which he said was beyond what the State Government alone can handle considering the number of people infected.

While calling on Chairmen of affected Local Government Areas in the state, Security Agencies, Development Partners and other stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with strategies that would help tackle the disease.

Also the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a war against Lassa Fever and the state should be in a war mood.

He recalled that about 27 States were affected with Lassa fever last year and Ondo and Edo topped the list as they accounted for about 80% of those affected including mortality.

Dr Olalekan Ojo of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the State was witnessing more Lassa patients than any other states of the federation ”and the whole budget of the state cannot handle”

He added that the Federal Medical Center Owo was overwhelmed due to lack of sufficient manpower to cope.

How PDP abandoned seven major projects in Osun – Fashola

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr.Babatunde Fashola, on Wednesday said seven Federal Government projects, totalling N18.186bn were abandoned in Osun State by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led Federal Government.

He mentioned Gbongan-Iwo road, Ilesha-Osogbo road, Construction of Illie bridge, Ile-ife-Ifewara road, and Mayfair-Lagere road among others as some of the abandoned projects with attendant socioeconomic predicament for the affected communities.

Fashola, who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works in Osun State, Engineer Ezekiah Kehinde on Media inspection tour of all the Federal Government projects in the state hinted that the Buhari administration became worry over the development upon assumption of office in 2015.

He explained that contractors handling those projects had complained of paucity of funds to continue with the projects as a result of failure of the previous administration to pay them.

“The rate at which several important projects were abandoned in the state became a source of worry for this administration upon assumption of office, hence the urgent need for prompt intervention.

“The Federal Government considered those projects as fundamental for the socioeconomic survival of the people in those areas. Which informed the urgency in which those contractors were brought back to site and outstanding debts were cleared.

“Also, four more projects were added, totalling N8.45bn, which include the construction of Ila-Ora-Ekanmeje road, and emergency intervention at Ibodi-Ilesha road among others.

“It would have amount to waste of resources and insensitivity on the part of government if those projects were left there abandoned, after spending several billions to mobilise contractors to site.

“I can authoritatively tell you now that the Federal Government is not owing any contractor a dime any longer,” he said.

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Top Talking Points of EPL over the weekend

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (L) vies with Manchester United’s Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 13, 2019.

Premier League leaders Liverpool showed they can scrap their way to victory, edging past Brighton to maintain their four-point lead over Manchester City, who brushed aside 10-man Wolves with a 3-0 win.

Tottenham lost ground on the Premier League pacesetters after being beaten at home by a rejuvenated Manchester United, who won their fifth straight league game under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Chelsea ground out a win against Newcastle but Arsenal’s long unbeaten run is a fading memory after they slipped to defeat against West Ham.

Jesus goal glut
Gabriel Jesus has scored seven goals in just nine days after his double in their stroll against Wolves, a huge confidence boost for a player who has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City this season.

The first of the 21-year-old’s strikes came in a 7-0 hammering of Rotherham in the FA Cup and he netted four against lowly Burton in last week’s 9-0 thrashing in the League Cup semi-final first leg before scoring the first two against Wolves in a 3-0 victory. He has turned up the pressure on Sergio Aguero, which will be music to coach Pep Guardiola’s ears.

Liverpool bounce back at Brighton
Jurgen Klopp’s men bounced back from their first league defeat of the season — against Manchester City — with a hard-earned 1-0 win at Brighton earned thanks to Mohamed Salah’s penalty early in the second half.

The Liverpool manager admitted afterwards that his side’s performance “wasn’t an opera, but still it was a nice song”. The league leaders dominated possession but rarely had the speed of foot or thought to trouble the Seagulls’ massed defence until Salah created some space for himself inside the area before being pulled down by Pascal Gross.

Klopp hailed the new-found maturity of his side in comfortably seeing the game out with their 13th clean sheet in 22 Premier League matches. Liverpool are seeking to end an agonising 29-year wait for the league title and it is often unremarkable wins like this that are the mark of champions.

Does Lukaku have a future under Solskjaer?
Romelu Lukaku has scored three times since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford as interim manager but has yet to start under the Norwegian in the Premier League.

Fleet-footed Marcus Rashford is clearly Solskjaer’s first-choice striker and on Sunday he justified his manager’s faith by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory against Tottenham.

Former United defender Gary Neville, now a pundit for Sky Sports, does not believe Lukaku offers the pace or movement that Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard do. It is early days in Solskjaer’s reign but the Belgium number nine will be wondering where he fits in to his new manager’s plans.

Rice on the boil
Declan Rice gave himself an early present ahead of his 20th birthday by scoring his first Premier League goal as West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0.

Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini lauded the youngster, who can play in either defence or midfield, as a “complete” player. Two questions loom large for Rice, over his best position — holding midfielder or defender? — and to which country he will pledge his allegiance.

He played in three internationals for Ireland last year but as they were all friendlies London-born Rice has the option to represent England.

Sarri’s wake-up call
As the jeers rose to a crescendo around Stamford Bridge, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stood stern-faced on the touchline.

If the Italian manager was feeling the heat after that frustrated reaction from Chelsea’s fans to another spluttering attacking display during their 2-1 win over lowly Newcastle then he did not let it show.

In fact, Sarri might have been tempted to join the chorus of disapproval, judging by his scathing post-match assessment. Chelsea remain fourth but the manager is clearly unhappy with the way his team are struggling to break down opponents at home.

He urged them to change their mentality after claiming they had “slept” for 25 minutes against Newcastle. Sarri must quickly find a remedy for their dozy displays.

EPL: Mark Lawrenson predicts results of West Ham vs Arsenal, Chelsea vs Newcastle, others

Liverpool legend, Mark Lawrenson has predicted Arsenal to defeat West Ham United on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League fixture at the London Stadium.

He also tipped Chelsea to beat Newcastle United in tonight’s Premier League fixture.

According to Lawrenson, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will play a draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday evening.

“In the Premier League, the Hammers’ form has been very up and down in recent weeks, but the same could be said about the Gunners,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport.

“I am going for an Arsenal win here, but it is clear that Unai Emery still has a lot of work to do.

“He has only been in charge for half a season and I think that, when they come up against the top teams, the same problems still remain.

“The main issue is at the back. Would I back them defensively? No, absolutely not. Too many of their defenders are not Champions League level, which is the standard they need them to be at.

“Both of these sides are safely into the next round of the FA Cup after beating lower league sides – I was at Blackpool for BBC Radio 5 live to see Arsenal cruise through.”

Commenting on the Chelsea vs Newcastle game, Lawrenson said: “Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez got a great welcome at Anfield when he went back with the Magpies over Christmas, but I don’t think he will get the same sort of reception on Saturday at another of his former clubs.

“Sadly for Benitez, I can see him being on the wrong end of a similar result – although I do not see Chelsea hammering Newcastle the way that Liverpool did.

“It looks like the Blues are going to get a new striker in January, we just don’t know who it will be yet.

“They need one because they have been a bit short of goals recently but, in the meantime, I still think they will be too strong for the Magpies.”

On the Brighton vs Liverpool game, Lawrenson said: “Liverpool have got a problem in central defence with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip injured, and I suspect Fabinho will play there – I can’t see what else Reds boss Jurgen Klopp would do.

“Ki-Jana Hoever did great when he came on for Lovren against Wolves, but you would not want to chuck a 16-year-old in at Brighton because he would have Glenn Murray to contend with.

“I know the Seagulls are not the most attacking team, and Liverpool turned them over easily at Amex Stadium last season, but Murray against a kid? No, he would have too much experience for him.

“This is a really good test for Liverpool, on the back of their defeat by Manchester City and then their defeat at Molineux after Klopp decided the FA Cup was not in his top two priorities.

“It would clearly be preferable for Liverpool to be at Anfield as they look to bounce back this weekend, especially because the thing about Brighton is that they are very good at stopping teams from playing. Brighton have got a good home record too, which is why I am going for a draw here.

“I don’t know whether this might be a little bump in the road for Liverpool but, if I am right and they drop points on Saturday, I would also back them to return to winning ways in their home games against Crystal Palace and Leicester before the end of the month.

“There are 11 days between the Palace and Leicester matches and, because Liverpool are out of the FA Cup, Klopp will be able to give his players a few days off to rest their bodies, and clear their heads.”

Transfer: Alvaro Morata decides to join Sevilla from Chelsea

Chelsea striker, Alvaro Morata has decided to leave Stamford Bridge to join La Liga side, Sevilla.

This claim was made by Sevilla director of football, Joaquin Caparros on Tuesday.

Caparros also said that the Spain international want to join Sevilla, but admitted that reaching a deal with Chelsea for the former Real Madrid striker will be difficult.

According to him, Sevilla are interested in signing Morata this January transfer window.

“We are interested in Morata, but it is a very complicated operation due to his cost,” Caparros told Sevilla’s official television channel.

“The player [Morata] wants to come here over other options, but the negotiation with Chelsea will be very complicated.”

Morata has struggled at Stamford Bridge since joining Chelsea from Real Madrid last summer.

The 26-year-old was dropped by Blues manager, Maurizio Sarri in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg encounter.

Prophecy: T. B Joshua describes 2019 as ‘very fearful’, reveals what may happen in Nigeria

Prophet T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of Nations, SCOAN, has labelled 2019 as “very fearful.”

He also said there may be interruption of democracy in the year 2019.

In a Youtube video, Joshua said he saw this while praying at an undisclosed ‘prayer mountain.’

He started by saying, “I am here because I know where I need to grow. When we know where we need to grow, it is victory itself.”

The prophet said he was there “to know the mind of God concerning this fearful year 2019 and also to pray for you and the world at large.”

He called on Nigerians to pray against “a stopover” and “the interruption of the democratic practice” as Nigeria prepares for the elections next month, February 2019.

“I like being one with nature – where there are no disturbances, where we don’t need to close our eyes to pray,” he explained, indicating he had been in prayer and fasting for several days to begin the New Year.

“I developed this habit right from the beginning of my ministry… When I need a quiet place, I run to the wilderness, to the mountain,” he continued, conspicuously barefooted, simply clad and holding his Bible.

He proceeded to offer prayer for his viewers, stating that “whatever hinders you to greatness” would “give way” and “whatever that does not reflect Jesus in your life” would “be removed.”

Mbappe beats Kane, Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi, others to emerge this year’s most valuable player [See detail]

Paris Saint-Germain forward, Kylian Mbappe has been named this year’s most valuable player in world football, with a £196.25million price tag.

A study by the CIES Football Observatory on Monday shows that the 20-year-old is rated as the most valuable player in world football.

According to CIES, Mbappe has had a £196.25m price tag put on his head in a study of the top 50 players from Europe’s five biggest leagues.

The France international is ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Kane has been valued at £180m (second), while Neymar is priced £177m (third position).

Messi has been valued at £153.7m (seventh position), while Ronaldo is priced £114m (nineteen position).

FA Cup 4th round: Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea get opponents [See full fixtures]

The draw for the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup was conducted on Monday night, shortly after Wolves dumped Liverpool out of the competition.

Arsenal host Manchester United at The Emirates, in what is definitely the tie of the round.

Defending champions Chelsea got another home draw against Sheffield Wednesday or Luton, while Tottenham have a tough away fixture at Crystal Palace.

The matches are due to be played on the weekend of January 26.

FA Cup fourth round draw in full:

Swansea City vs Gillingham
AFC Wimbledon vs West Ham
Shrewsbury/Stoke vs Wolves
Millwall vs Everton
Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Brom
Bristol City vs Bolton
Accrington Stanley vs Derby/Southampton
Doncaster Rovers vs Oldham
Chelsea vs Sheffield Wednesday/Luton
Newcastle/Blackburn vs Watford
Middlesbrough vs Newport County
Manchester City vs Burnley
Barnet vs Brentford
Portsmouth vs QPR
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

Golden Globes 2019: Full list of winners

The 76th Golden Globe Awards for movies and television, chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association held yesterday at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

The awards hosted by actors Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg witnessed a huge gathering of film and television industry heavyweights.

The event honored the year’s best in movies and TV who were voted by the 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Below is full list of categories and winners:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” *WINNER
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book” *WINNER
“Mary Poppins Returns”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Glenn Close (“The Wife”) *WINNER
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) *WINNER
John David Washington (“BlackKklansman”)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) *WINNER
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Best Director

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”) *WINNER
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlackKklansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale (“Vice”) *WINNER
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Vigo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man and the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan and Ollie”)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) *WINNER
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) *WINNER
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlackKklansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture

Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”) *WINNER
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Best Original Song in a Motion Picture
“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem for a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation” (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”) *WINNER

Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture

Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”) *WINNER

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

“Never Look Away”
“Roma” *WINNER
Best Animated Film
“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” *WINNER

Best TV series – Drama

“The Americans” *WINNER
“Killing Eve”

Best performance by Actress in a TV series – Drama

Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) *WINNER
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

Best performance by an Actor in a TV Series – Drama

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”) *WINNER
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Best TV series – Musical or Comedy

“The Good Place”
“The Kominsky Method” *WINNER
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Best Performance by an Actor in a TV series – Musical or Comedy

Sasha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) *WINNER
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)
Best Performance by an Actress in a TV series – Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“GLOW”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) *WINNERDebra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The Alienist”
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” *WINNER
“Dirty John”
“Escape at Dannemora”
“Sharp Objects”
“A Very English Scandal”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”) *WINNER
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”) *WINNER
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”) *WINNER
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’)
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”) *WINNER
Penélope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)