Sunday, June 26, 2011


Toyosi Ogunseye Picture Credit : PUNCH
On Saturday, June 25, at the magnificent Sandton Sun Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa, Nigeria’s Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, Senior Correspondent, PUNCH Newspapers, won the MSD and Medical Award at the prestigious 2011 CNN Multichoice Africa Journalist Awards, for her story titled “LUTH’s Ransome-Kuti Children’s Centre: Cauldron where two babies die weekly”, published on May 9, 2010. “It is a good investigative story, well written yet told in a simple manner. It is activism journalism at its best, since after the story was published something was done to improve the situation,” read the judge’s citation, praising Ogunseye’s winning entry, which caused a whirlwind that necessitated immediate positive action from the Ministry of Health when it first broke. The prolific journalist is also a recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) Awards for Judicial Reporting in 2009 and a winner of the 2010 MDG Media Awards, which recognises the contributions of women in the media.

A Biochemistry graduate from the University of Lagos, 26-year old Toyosi also holds a post-graduate diploma in Print Journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism - where she was rewarded for contribution to academic excellence - and an MA degree in Media and Communications from the Pan African University. “When I heard about my nomination, I was ecstatic! - I am still ecstatic! I had been entering for the awards for seven years,” She had said weeks before the awards ceremony. 

With this feat, Ogunseye followed in the footsteps of fellow Nigerians who have won the prestigious award in recent years in various categories; including Tolu Ogunlesi and TELL's Ayodeji Adeyemi, (2009), Emmanuel Mayah and Pelu Awofeso in 2010, while Shola Oshunkeye won the top prize in 2006. Declan Okpalaeke, Janet Mba-Afolabi, Olukayode Thomas and Ibim Semenitari have also won it in the past. 

Nnamdi Okosieme, Sports editor, NEXT Newspapers, was also among the journalists awarded commendations in nine categories for their excellent work. Okosieme’s piece was a feature story titled 'Our Falcons Are Playing for Peanuts'published on July 18, 2010. It was nominated in the Sports category, which was won by Kamau Mutunga, DN2 Magazine, Daily Nation, Kenya, for his story titled ‘Soccer and Superstition (Animal body parts and snake blood on the pitch)’. “This is an informative romp through the story of superstition in soccer in Kenya. “It is elegantly written and while it spans several decades, it moves quickly and with a light touch. A sidebar shows this is by no means only an African issue – it gives insight into all countries from France to Brazil,” read the judges’ citation of Mutunga’s winning entry.
Ogunseye and Okosieme were among the 27 finalists shortlisted from 13 countries, which was chosen from among 1407 entries from 42 nations across the African continent. All nominees enjoyed an all-expenses paid five day programme of workshops, media forums, networking and had the opportunity to see some of the sights of Johannesburg - including a visit to the Big Brother Africa House -  prior to the Awards Ceremony.
Fatuma Noor from Kenya was awarded the top prize as the 2011 CNN African Journalist of the Year. Noor, who works for The Star Kenya, won for her investigative three-part series on the ‘Al-Shabaab’. Other winners at the awards include Dispatch Online (Digital Journalism); Mohamud Abdi Jama (Free Press Africa); (Kofi Akpabli (Arts and Culture); Lamia Hassan (Environment); Kamau Mutunga (Best Sports Reporting); Lindile Mpanze (Best Conflict Media Reporting); Rabin Bhujun (Best Francophone General News Reporting); Lindile Mpanze (Television Features); and Claudine Atohoun (Francophone General News Award for radio/TV).
Congratulations to all the winners. Congratulations, Toyosi and Okosieme, for making us and Nigeria proud!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Picture courtesy BBC
Imagine suspended FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu sitting relaxed in one of its palatial buildings, with a smirk on his face, while watching the still unfolding corruption drama in the heart of world football governing body, FIFA. This time, the principal actors are its former vice president Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam, who would have contested against Sepp Blatter during the FIFA presidential elections on June 1.

An ethics investigation had been opened into bin Hammam and Warner after allegations that payments of $40,000 (£24,500 or N6,125,000) were offered to football officials during a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (at the Regency Hyatt in Trinidad) on May 10 and 11 as an inducement to back Hammam in the June 1 presidential elections. Blatter – who also faced but passed the test of the ethics committee - was eventually re-elected unopposed after bin Hammam was forced to step down.

Warner and Hammam (Picture credits: Dailymail)
While the allegation cost bin Hammam the opportunity of challenging Blatter – who was re-elected unopposed - for the FIFA presidency, 68-year-old Warner weathered the storm until he later resigned from all his positions in international football on June 20. This meant that Warner would then escape further investigation into allegations of bribery.

However, this week, the scandal took a different twist after a leaked report from its ethics committee alleged that he had been told a week ago that it was quite likely he was, at the least, “an accessory to corruption”. According to the report, it was also found that there was “comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming" evidence that Hammam tried to bribe voters, and that Warner helped facilitate this. This revelation has renewed widespread calls for the world football governing body to reopen its investigation into the case. Warner also faces another moral dilemma as his resignation meant he was entitled to a whopping pension entitlements for life from FIFA, which included almost £23,000 (N5,750,000) a year for the next 28 years – a staggering £644,000 (or N161,000,000) - until he is aged 96; fuelling widespread anger in the football world that FIFA may have given a soft landing to the longest-serving member of its executive committee (since 1983). Until now, the football governing body had said the ethics committee procedures against him “have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained”.

Last year November, Adamu and Oceania representative Reynald Temarii were suspended from the FIFA executive committee following the cash-for-vote scandal. Adamu was filmed asking for £500,000 (or N125,000,000) from undercover reporters to cast his vote in favour of the USA bid, while Temarii was also caught on camera asking for a cash payment to finance a sports academy.  Both men were handed hefty fines – Adamu received a three-year ban and 10,000 Swiss franc (£6,341 or N1,585,250) fine from FIFA's ethics committee, while Temarii was slammed a one-year suspension and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,170 or N792,500) for breaching rules on loyalty and confidentiality. Four other FIFA officials, all former executive committee members, also received bans of between two and four years.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Obviously miffed by the 4-1 drubbing of its team at the National Stadium, Abuja on Wednesday, June 1, the Argentina Football Association (AFA) has booked a rematch against the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed that the Eagles will trade tackles with the senior team of Argentina in another international friendly in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh on September 6.

“Every document that will make the match a reality has been signed and we are looking forward to a big game. The two teams will go to Bangladesh with their first teams and all the top stars,” stated Barrister Musa Amadu, NFF General Secretary. This second clash in three months between the two countries comes up three days after the Eagles’ very important African Nations Cup qualifier against Madagascar in Antananarivo.

Unlike the June 1 friendly, both teams are expected to come with their full strength squads to Dhaka. That means Barcelona maestro and World Best Player, Lionel Messi and Manchester City goal supremo Carlos Tevez will be available for the FIFA-sanctioned game. The match against Nigeria comes four days after that against Venezuela which is scheduled for September 2 in Kolkata, India.

According to Kazi Salahuddin, president of the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), the contract is a binding one which will ensure Messi comes. “Our $4 million contract with both sides says the Argentina team must include Messi. The sight of Messi playing on our soil will be the best thing to have happened to Bangladesh football in many years. It will prompt a lot of boys to play football," he noted. “The contract guarantees their participation,” said Bhaskar Goswani of the Celebrity Management Group, match organizers, about the friendlies designed to boost football on the that part of the Asian continent. For some Nigerian football fans, they certainly would have wished for the same contract agreement for the June 1 friendly, which is being probed by world football governing body FIFA over unusual betting patterns. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Ik Uche celebrates a goal (Picture courtesy Supersport)

It was a perfect night for coach Samson Siasia as a brace from Ikechukwu Uche and a goal apiece from Obinna Nsofor and Emmanuel Emenike gave the Super Eagles of Nigeria a well-deserved 4-1 victory over Argentina in a friendly match played at the National Stadium, Abuja on Wednesday night.

Truth be told. This was a second string Sergio Batista-led Argentine side severely weakened by the absence of star players such as FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Javier Mascehrano, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuan, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero. Asides, the team, labelled an ‘Under 25’, paraded only two players who were named in the provisional 24-man squad for the Copa America Nations Cup.

Nevertheless, Siasia’s finest moment yet could not be denied him as he had suffered three defeats in the hands of Argentine sides in the past; one as an ex-Eagles player at the USA 1994 World Cup and two as coach of the Junior Eagles at the finals of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The perfect night for Siasia and his team started in the 11th minute with a poacher’s goal by Ik Uche. It followed a clever work down the left flank by the continually impressive Joel Obi and then a goal mouth scramble which saw an Argentine defender deflecting the ball into his own net from Uche’s shot.

Five minutes later, newly signed AC Milan player Taye Taiwo released a cannon that sailed a few inches wide over the bar. It was a shot of things to come as the Eagles ran riot over the Argentines who played well below their pedigree as two-time World Cup Champions. While the two Obis – Joel and Mikel controlled the midfield with good rhythms, although sometimes guilty of playing too deep, the three-pronged attack of Uche, Victor Anichebe and Obinna Nsofor peppered the South American defence line marshalled by Manchester City Pablo Zabaleta. A clever lob from Joel Obi at the near post almost made it two for Nigeria, only for Argentine Goalkeeper Gabbarini Adrian to parry it off the crossbar at the 20th minute. In the 27th minute, Nigerien referee Ibrahim Chaibou awarded the Eagles a controversial penalty after Anichebe was adjudged to have been brought down in the box. Nsofor coolly slotted home the spot kick to send the spectators in the half filled stadium into raptures.

Just after the half-hour mark, Anichebe wiggled his way past an Argentine defender and placed a low drive which produced another save from Gabbarini; whose Nigerian counterpart, Vincent Enyeama barely had anything to do at this juncture.

Man of the Match Uche headed home his second goal of the evening and seventh since his return from injury in the 40th minute after a counter attacking move from the Eagles climaxed with a perfect cross from Taye Taiwo. For fans just rushing into the stadium, it looked as if the 3-0 reflected on the scoreboard was an error. The Argentines were completely rattled as Batista stood helpless on the touchline.

At the start of the second half, Siasia had the luxury to bring in Dele Aiyenugba for Enyeama who seemed to be getting bored form just watching the proceedings. The Eagles rout finished off in the 53rd minute when substitute and Turkey-based Emmanuel Emenike, scored with a clever lob over the stranded Gabbarini. Although the Argentine grabbed a consolation goal through Mauro Boselli deep into injury time, the Eagles were worthy winners of a famous victory over Batista’s men.

”The name ‘Super Chickens’ is dead now. We are the Super Eagles,” said Siasia, after the match. While Batista conceded that they were beaten by a very good team. It was also a good morale boosting victory for the Eagles who face Ethiopia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Addis Ababa on Sunday. “If we don’t win against Ethiopia, this (victory over Argentina) would count for nothing,” Siasia stated. He had promised an entertaining match with lots of goals and he delivered. Hopefully, he would produce more of the same come Sunday.