Nigeria's key player doubtful for game against Catalonia XI on Wednesday

A fan of the Super Eagles of Nigeria
Real Betis midfielder Nosa Igiebor is doubtful for Wednesday’s Africa Nations Cup warm-up game against Catalonia. The Eagles managers were yet to hear from the player in Faro, Portugal today as the team prepared for Tuesday flight.

“We are still waiting words from Nosa at the moment, so we cannot say he will be in Catalonia or Faro for the game,” a team official said.

However, Celtic’s Rabiu Ibrahim is expected to link up with the rest of the squad when the team arrive in Spain early on Tuesday.

Ibrahim was expected to have arrived in Faro earlier, but delays in his flight schedule meant he was advised to join the team in Spain instead of travelling to Portugal, where the team are camping for the African competition.

Ibrahim and Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche will be the last two players to join up with the Eagles before the game.

Wednesday’s match against Catalonia selected that is managed by Dutch legend Johann Cryuff will be played at the home of La Liga side Espanyol starting at 9pm Nigerian time.

While the Eagles are training to beat the rest of Africa, the Catalonians are making strong political statement with the game.

Catalonia matches gather together every year more people than any other European team for just a friendly match. And right now Catalonia is living a very special social and political moment. The new Catalan government, with the support of the main parties has just announced that 2014 is the year when a referendum for independence will be held.

A vast majority of Catalonia’s population (over 2 million votes) supports the new Government goal and, according to last election votes and recent polls, most citizens wish to become a new European and independent state. The Spanish state strongly opposes to the referendum but Catalans seem very determined to do it.”

Barcelona stars, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Victor Valdés, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué are expected to feature for Catalonia.

Nigeria's Super Eagles will return to their training camp in Portugal after the game, from where they will leave for South Africa to take part in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.


Nigeria launches African version of Monopoly

The first African city edition of the famous board game Monopoly has been launched in Lagos.

The Nigerian metropolis is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

The board's layout was unveiled at an event in Lagos City Hall, with the manmade Banana Island named as the upmarket equivalent of Mayfair in the London edition.

Makoko, the slum on stilts over the city's lagoon, is the cheapest property for sale on the Lagos board.

Nimi Akinkugbe, the head of Bestman Games which is producing the Lagos edition, told Nigeria's Guardian newspaper ahead of the launch that suggestions for the Mayfair spot were "a hot topic".

Banana Island, which got the coveted position, is an artificially created island where the very wealthy reside.

Some properties on the island sell for about $8m - and it would cost about $150,000 a year to rent a flat there, he says.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange, Murtala Muhammed International Airport and several hotels are other properties on the board.

Many of the squares are sponsored by banks and shopping centres and even the Lagos state government appears, while some major landmarks like Tinubu Square, the New Afrika Shrine nightclub, Third Mainland Bridge and the National Theatre have been left out, our correspondent says.

Other aspects of the game have been tailored for Lagos, like the "Go To Jail" cards, which read: "Go to jail. Go directly to Kirikiri jail," referring to the city's maximum security prison.

One of the Chance cards issuing a fine quotes a phrase regularly used by police officers: "Park! Park! For reckless driving pay a fine... and register for retraining."

Another reads: "For attempting to bribe a law enforcement agent, pay a fine."

Some of the new traffic laws introduced by the Lagos state government, and the punishments for various offences, have also been included in the game.

"You've been caught driving against traffic. Report for psychiatric evaluation," one card reads.

The Monopoly game was developed in the US, originally based on streets in Atlantic City. A London version of the game was produced in 1935.

"Lagos is the first African city to have its Monopoly. Two countries in Africa have theirs, Morocco and South Africa. But there's no city that has its own customized edition," Ms Akinkugbe told the Guardian.


The coming mobile wave as Dell's profits slump by close to 50% on weak sales

Are tablets a threat to the survival of the PC?
Computer-maker Dell has seen its quarterly profit fall by almost 50% after it was hit by falling sales to both consumers and large companies.

The PC maker made a net profit of $475M in July to September, compared with $893M a year earlier.

Dell's consumer revenues fell 23% to $2.5B, while those from sales to big corporations declined by 8% to $4.2B.

The company, the world's third-largest maker of personal computers, saw overall revenues dip 11%.

Despite the poor results, Dell said it was more confident about the October to December period, which includes Christmas sales.

It expects group-wide revenues to rise by as much as 5% in the last three months of the year, despite the continuing "challenging" global economic environment.

It is also struggling to compete with Asian rivals such as Lenovo and is focusing on selling products and services to businesses rather than individuals.

But the state of the economy means that many customers are delaying making big purchases.

"It's not clear what's going to cause them to increase their spending in the short term, given the uncertainty in the economy," said Dell's chief financial officer Brian Gladden.

But he added that the launch of Windows 8 was improving demand in the consumer market.

How much that leads ultimately to improved sales, remains to be seen.

Congratulations Mr. President, but there is still much work to do

President Barack Obama
Once again, the world witnessed as the United States of America showed the way, with another peaceful and dignified transition of power (albeit an organic one as the president was re-elected to a second four-year term), a common feature and staple of the American system of government - the "world's oldest" and most stable democracy.

Save for the 2000 elections, the fall out of which was the unfortunate "division of the country", the United States has always been a beacon of hope and the lighthouse on a hill, in a world where most leaders, even in some so-called western democracies (Italy for one with Silvio Berlusconi) seem unable and unwilling to relinquish political power.

The American people have spoken and while there are those who may still disagree with some of the president's policies (this writer included), it is incumbent upon us all, to pray for the president and support the efforts of the administration to steer the American economy back on the right path.

It is inconceivable that the gridlock we witnessed over the last four years, will once again rear its ugly head. Congress and the Executive branch of government, must find a way to reach meaningful compromise on the germaine issues of the day.

Absent of that compromise, the American people will grow even more frustrated and increasingly cynical of government; a mind set our leaders can least afford to be entrenched in the psyche of an otherwise patient and dutiful citizenry.

The president must not repeat the same mistakes he made the last time either, when he said "I won, I don't have to take your ideas" to the Republican leadership after his 2008 election victory.

There is no such thing as a mandate from the American people, where these last elections are concerned. Instead, the White House and Congress must understand that the American people expect them to do the people's business.

The president must continue to reach out to "reasonable" members Congress on the other side, while Congress must accord the Executive branch its due respect and work with the president, much like Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Once again, congratulations to the president and here is hoping he is more concerned about cementing a truly lasting legacy that will forever shape the future of America and indeed the world, for good.

Good luck to you sir.... you will be needing lots of it!  


A time for reflection and solitude....

As the U.S. prepares to vote for the next President of the United States, one is made aware of the need for true reflection and solitude, yes the kind of reflective solitude that can lead to true self-awareness.

One is forced to ask the question, isn't America just plain sick and tired of the same games every four years? No matter how you spin it, a duck is a duck, if it quacks and swims like one.

We all watched almost exactly four years ago when a young and impressionable man with a unique background, captured the imagination of this great country and made us all dream again.

After the nightmarish Presidency that was George Bush's (I doubt most would disagree with me on this), America was ready for a fresh start, or so we thought.

Four years on, we are once again back singing the song of revival and restoration, as if hope never appeared beyond the horizon. We had hoped and dared to dream and in that state of sublime inspiration, we thought we had indeed found our bearings.

But alas, the "compass" failed us once again and failed us it did on all fronts; morally and every-otherwise.

This time, we must think as Americans and I mean really think and reflect on exactly where this great nation is headed.

These elections are bigger than Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and all the candidates combined. They are about something much bigger than even us; yes, something that much larger and of such critical magnitude, that we must indeed get it right this time.

If we don't and once again just go through the motions of an electioneering campaign, we may live to regret it.... both literally and vicariously through our children and future descendants.

It is that important.

© 2012 Boye Coker. All Rights Reserved.


mCAMPUSMATE™ - iFusionIT and Mihir Mobile Solutions bring higher education into the mobility age

Source: Mihir Mobile Solutions
The usage of mobile phones to handle just about every human activity is growing each day and as mobile technology and indeed technology as a whole, continues to evolve, it becomes imperative for solutions to address the critical needs and demands of the ever-changing world we live in.

More than others, the education/learning industry is aggressively catching up with IT and other technological advancements, in order to meet the competitive demands of this age.

With the changing mode of instructional delivery as a function of the fierce competition among institutions for students, mCAMPUSMATE™ brings educators, institutions and students, the very best of both worlds.

In conjunction with iFusionIT, a Microsoft Silver Certified Partner with expertise in Systems Integration, Data Analytics, Mobility and Cloud Application Development, Mihir Mobile Solutions (MMS) brings you a Student Management Software offering exclusively for Schools, Colleges and other institutions to automate all routine tasks pertaining to Students, Parents, Faculty and School Administration.

mCAMPUSMATE™ not only simplifies school’s activities, but also facilitates the manageability on to the Mobile Devices (iPAD & Android for Tablets and iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry for Smart Phones).

In keeping with the clearly articulated objective of the U.S. Department of Education to "go green", iFusionIT and Mihir Mobile Solutions, see the mCAMPUSMATE™ application as a critical step in that most worthy of goals.

Some of the major benefits and attributes of the mCAMPUSMATE™ application are as follows:

Track Marks, Attendance and other records on Smart Phone/Tablet
 Grade on your Mobile Device
Homework, Assignments, Projects and Exam Schedules on Smart Phone/Tablet
Mobile Access to Library
Special Alerts for Emergency Information  
Automated Payment Reminders
Access to School/College’s Calendar of Events & Functions
Trending and other Statistical Reports, and much more….
Secure Access (Amazon Cloud, can also be on private cloud), Easy Set-Up and 24x7 Support

iFusionIT and Mihir Mobile Solutions believe that mCAMPUSMATE™ will afford institutions the unique opportunity of being able to better attract quality students, while enhancing their brand.
The application, also aptly dubbed as "Mobile University", will allow students to manage their busy educational careers more effectively, with the assurance that their critical information is not only readily available and accessible, but is also very secure. 

About iFusionIT

iFusionIT is a multi-national technology firm headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. We are a trusted partner to the world's leading organizations, including top Fortune 500 companies and key government agencies.

iFusionIT's detailed suite of services ranges from IT Consulting and Custom Projects to its Core Service areas that include BI Services, Testing Services, digital entertainment Services, Custom Applications Development (including Mobility), Systems Integration, Data Analytics and Web Development.

iFusionIT is a Microsoft Silver Certified Partner and in addition to core-competencies with regard to the Microsoft technology stack, the company also specializes in Oracle and OpenStack technologies.

For more information, you may contact us at

About Mihir Mobile Solutions

Jani Nemana conceptualized Mihir Mobile Solutions and he has been supported by diverse conglomerate of dynamic entrepreneurs from both India and the United States.

Jani has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Andhra University and a Master’s in Computer Science from Bradley University, USA.


Protect R&D tax breaks to corporations to help stimulate the economy

There is one thing that has always set the American economy apart; it is the spirit of innovation that drives the American entrepreneur across all verticals to dream big, think hard and take calculated risks, with one singular purpose in mind - change the way things have always been done!

It is however important to understand that the main reason why the innovative spirit has always been alive and well in the United States, is due to the environment that has fostered, encouraged and engendered that spirit.

Over the years, perhaps due to the culture of greed and unbecoming avarice that permeated Corporate America, governmental regulations have become necessary, with the objective of not only protecting the American consumer, but also potentially preserving the integrity of the capitalist system.

My motive for writing this piece is centered in the belief that the bad behavior of corporate executives over the years has projected the wrong image (of Corporate America) with most Americans blaming the recent culture of careless risk-taking and greed, for the economic collapse of 2008.

While there is the push by most state governments and perhaps the federal government to find a way to tax corporations more, as they (the former) seek to balance their budget(s), they are however losing sight of one thing - the path towards real economic recovery and increase in jobs (particularly in the private sector) is through formulation and passing of initiatives, that promote growth, through innovation.

One of the surest ways to promote growth through innovation is in the area of Research & Development (R&D) tax credits.

Created by the U.S. Congress in 1981, the R&D credit has always been supported by the largest group for businesses in the United States - the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as business and industry watchers.

Recently though, critics of the R&D credit have been campaigning against it, calling the tax credit a costly corporate hand-out that has done little to encourage more hiring and investment.

What opponents of the R&D credit however fail to mention is that it remains one of the surest ways to not only help manufacturers achieve cost and efficiency savings, but also help stimulate the economy, through more hiring and increased investment.

At a time when unemployment in the technology sector remains rather low (at less than 3% compared to the general unemployment rate of 8%), removing an avenue for increased investment and improved efficiency would indeed be fool-hardy.

One can only hope that the current anti-corporate sentiment does not becloud sound judgment on the part of our elected officials.

Fashola again shows why he is probably the next President of Nigeria

Gov. Babatunde Fashola
LAGOS, NIGERIA - Governor Babatunde Fashola on Saturday politely declined the honor of a chieftaincy title from a royal father, Oniru of Iru land, Lagos, Oba Abidun Idowu Oniru.

He, however, received the award of excellence conferred on him by the monarch who was celebrating his 75th birthday and 18th coronation anniversary. While expressing his appreciation to Oba Oniru for honoring him, Fashola said the task of governance required absolute focus and would want the chieftaincy title to wait for now.

He said, “Kabiyesi and his chiefs can continue to lead us, let them deal with all those traditional and chieftaincy issues. At the appropriate time, we will come and join them, but for now, leave us in our suits, boots, overalls and helmets, because this agbada is not good for clearing refuse and tarring the roads.”

On the award for excellence, Fashola said it was not for him; rather he dedicated it to all the civil servants in the state who he said were responsible for the giant strides of his administration.

Fashola said “This award does not belong to me; it belongs to all the public servants in Lagos State who do the great work that is responsible for the progress in the state.”

While acknowledging the mornach's exemplary leadership and support for his administration and his predecessors, the governor expressed his gratitude to the Oniru on behalf of members of the state executive council.

He confessed that when the state Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure, Prince Segun Oniru, informed him of the event, and told him that the Kabiyesi wanted to present him with something, he had made it clear that he would not attend the event if what the Kabiyesi wanted to present to him was going to be a chieftaincy title, but that Oniru had assured him that that would not be the case.

In typical fashion and being true to his values, Fashola declined the honor of the monarch, choosing instead to focus on the task of governance, which he has carried out with the utmost sense of purpose, dedication and commitment.


Apple is most valuable company ever?

By now, you should have heard the news and while it does not necessarily come as a surprise, it is rather telling in terms of a potential changing of the guard in the technology and business space.

Apple Inc. is now the most valuable company ever with a current valuation of close to $624 billion, supassing Microsoft Corporation's valuation of around $621 billion in 1999.

However, when adjusted for inflation, according to USA Today, Microsoft still holds sway (albeit for now) until Apple's stock (which accounts for close to 25% of the value of all technology companies on the S&P 500) exceeds $900 a share.

Apple shares are currently trading at around $665 a share.


The 7 habits of highly successful organizations

As organizations seek ways to improve functional output and operational effectiveness, it becomes incumbent upon business leaders to understand what best practices to adopt, in their quest to achieve sustainable growth and brand stability.

Many are quick to point to the "successes" of some of the world's biggest brands such as GE, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Apple and Google, among others. The truth however lies somewhere in between as to what exactly constitutes success beyond just the bottom-line.

A "healthy bottom-line" does not necessarily translate into being an attractive brand or ensure sustainable growth.

What organizations such as Google and more lately Apple have in fact shown, is that there are other mitigating factors that go towards determining the long-term success and brand equity of an organization.

In this piece, a prelude to a more in-depth analysis to come, we explore and profess the key habits that would seem to characterize truly successful organizations.

a) Hire well - As organizations such as Google, Microsoft and Apple (much lately) have learnt, hiring the right talent goes a long way towards building your Intellectual Capital portfolio.

b) Invest in your employees and thus your organization's future - While some of the better known brands are able to attract some of the best talent initially, holding on to that talent pool becomes even more critical. It is not enough to just pay well; in addition to that, organizations that have managed to hold on to their prized talent base, have invested heavily by way of benefits and other quality-of-life perks that are essential to keeping the poachers at bay.

c) Encourage independent thought within your organization - In conversations with peers in the business community, most believe this is one of the areas where Microsoft in particular "went wrong". It's main competitors are said to have seized on a culture (supposedly) within the organization at the time, that did not encourage or value independent thinking.
Organizations that frown on the idea of "thinking-outside-the-box" ultimately leave little room for their business units to procreate. A resulting dearth of unique ideas will ultimately result in the natural death of the said organization.

d) Reward independent thought within your organization - In addition to encouraging a "think-outside-the-box culture within your organization, it is also equally important to acknowledge those with unique and creative ideas. Promotions, raises, bonuses and other forms of recognition should reflect this, as it will only augur well for the continued growth and development of the organization, its brand and of course, its people.

e) Be true to your founding ideals and core corporate principles - Make taking care of your customers/clients a guiding business principle. It is the best practice you could ever indulge in as it engenders brand familiarity through credibility.

f) Seek strategic partnerships that complement your business model and strategy - It is important that you align yourself with organizations that share your ideals, beliefs and ideas and subsequently provide a synergistic nirvana.

g) Manage your growth while continuing to innovate - Maintain your identity and stick to a working strategy. Adapt to the pervading business climate in your own unique way and continue to deliver consistently.

© 2012 Boye Coker. All Rights Reserved.


Poetry Fridays

The Journey....
I have toiled night and day, but have nothing to show....
I have wandered through the wilderness, but with nothing in sight....
I have beckoned to the Angels, but they are yet to be seen....
In my pain, I have wondered aloud and recoiled in despair....
But who am I to dismiss the path of glory....
For in my desolate peril, I am assured of a new beginning....
In my languished anguish, I see the dawn of a new day.... 
For I must go on, my senses tell me....
The journey has only begun, my conscience assures me....
For I must not worry, but must surely tarry....
For the journey, though began with a query....
Must end with the promise, the query beckons....
This is my life.... of the glory foretold....
For I must not die, but shall surely live....
And in living, I must be fulfilled....
And in fulfillment, I must be complete....
And in completion, the glory shall be revealed....
For I am the reason for the journey....
And the journey, the reason for my being....

© 2012 Boye Coker. All Rights Reserved.


Hot Brew: Facebook's unproven business model continues to unnerve investors....

As Facebook shares fell another 9% on Tuesday, regulators said they may review the disclosure process to see if some investors got favourable access.
The SEC and regulatory body FINRA both said they would look into the matter.
Morgan Stanley, lead underwriter on the flotation, said it was "in compliance with all applicable regulations".
Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook's advisers may have revised their financial forecasts for the social networking company, but that only selected investors were told.
Mary Schapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said "there are issues that we need to look at".
Richard Ketchum, chief executive of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), said there were "matters of regulatory concern".
But in a statement, Morgan Stanley spokesman, Pen Pendleton, said the bank had "followed the same procedures for the Facebook offering that it follows for all initial public offerings".
Also on Tuesday, a private investor issued a writ against the Nasdaq stock exchange over technical problems on Friday that disrupted Facebook's first trading day.
Phillip Goldberg, a Maryland resident, is seeking class-action status on behalf of all investors who say they lost money because of the technical problems.
Facebook's market debut was delayed by about half an hour, and orders to buy or sell shares were further disrupted. Mr Goldberg has filed a writ in the southern district court of New York.
Nasdaq chief executive Robert Greifeld has said that "clearly we had mistakes in the Facebook listing".
It has all taken the shine off one of the most anticipated flotations in history.
Facebook shares, launched at $38 each on Friday, fell 11% on Monday and a further 9% on Tuesday. The shares are now worth $31 each.
It is a remarkable turnaround from recent weeks, when the social network's share sale was over-subscribed and the eight-year-old firm was valued at $104 billion.
Much of the blame for the fall in share price is being pinned on lead underwriters Morgan Stanley and the Nasdaq exchange itself, with many commentators saying that the sale was over-priced.
"There must have been some sober second thoughts about this," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research.
Mr Wieser thinks a fair price for such a young company without a proven business model is about $30.
But some analysts say the fall is of little consequence in the early days.
"Whether [Facebook] is worth $95 billion or $100 billion, it's immaterial," Jeremy Liew of investment company Lightspeed Venture Partners told Reuters.
The social networking site has transformed the way in which hundreds of millions of people around the world communicate. It is also transforming the way companies advertise to existing and potential customers.
But Facebook's 900 million users helped the company generate just $1billion in profit last year, and there are concerns about its ability to grow profits in the future. 

Buhari's utterances again reflect a lack of leadership acumen

Rtd. General Muhammadu Buhari
By Remi DaCosta 

FORMER Military Dictator and Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has said unless transparency and justice characterized the conduct of the 2015 general elections, a bloody dispute might erupt within the country's political class.

Buhari, a strong proponent of Sharia Law, who has also built a reputation for making unguarded and often inflammatory statements, stated this when he received a delegation of CPC members from Niger State in his Kaduna office.

He stressed that only the election of credible politicians into public offices would rescue the nation from the current mess.

Buhari stated: "God willing by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go in a very violent and disgraceful way".

On the question of whether he would run in 2015 presidential election or not, Buhari said the CPC leaders should organise themselves first while he reconsidered his position as to whether he will contest or not.

"That was what I told those who have visited me in the past but the press wrote that I said I have changed my mind about re-contesting," the former Head of State added. 
Buhari also spoke on the security challenges in the country, noting: "The North is not silent. It only incapacitated because the North does not own the police, soldiers or Central Bank of Nigeria. Since the leaders now don't listen to anybody but do whatever they wish, there is nothing the North can do.

"I will like to quote Prof. Ango Abdullahi who said there are three Boko Harams, including the original one led by Muhammed Yusufu who was killed and his supporters tried to take revenge in attacking the law enforcement agencies and politicians. There is another developed Boko Haram of criminals who steal and kill while the biggest Boko Haram is the Federal Government".

The Presidential Candidate of the CPC in the April 2011 elections also spoke on the fuel subsidy probe in the country, saying that the current leadership of the country has destroyed the petroleum industry.

His words: "These things can only happen under Nigeria's current leadership. Nowhere in the world can such things happen now and nowhere in the world can government increase the cost of petroleum products with more than 120 per cent. It is most insensitive. Besides the air people breath, the next important thing to them is petroleum products."

"Unfortunately for me, I know more about the petroleum industry than others in government because I was there for over three years as a leader. We started with Port-Harcourt refinery producing 60,000 barrels per day, it was upgraded to 100,000 barrels per day. Another one was built there also in Port Harcourt producing over 150,000 barrels, making a total of 250,000 barrels per day strictly to refine Nigerian crude for local consumption."


ConocoPhillips looking to exit Nigeria?

ABUJA, Nigeria (Reuters) - U.S. oil group ConocoPhillips has hired BNP Paribas to help sell its Nigerian assets, including on-shore, off-shore oil and gas fields and a stake in its LNG Brass facility, according to sources.

The assets were expected to attract interest from Nigerian companies such as Conoil and Oando and Asian players including China's Sinopec, Indian company ONGC , and South Korean firm KNOC, the sources said on Tuesday.

They could help ConocoPhillips raise about $2.5 billion and possibly more if they were sold separately, which is the most likely route, according to the sources.

ConocoPhillips could not be reached for immediate comment.

The on-shore assets are already fully functional and are seen as the most valuable part of the operations, while the early-stage Brass project could prove more difficult to value, one of the sources said.

A Nigerian local content act passed in 2010 is likely to complicate any transaction as foreign suitors need to team up with a local indigenous player.

The government passed the law, intended to give local firms priority when assets are being sold and in tenders for new projects, and it is likely to push for local ownership of Conoco's assets.

The state-oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, is the majority shareholder in Conoco's on-shore and LNG assets and is seen as less likely to be among the interested parties, the sources said.

NNPC told Reuters on Tuesday it was not aware that Conoco was exiting the country.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, pumping more than 2 million barrels per day. The OPEC member also holds the world's seventh largest gas reserves, which are largely untapped.

Shell's recent disposals of on-shore oil fields in Nigeria have attracted interest from local firms, often through partnerships with established foreign companies.

ConocoPhillips recently completed the spin-off of its refining activities into Phillips 66, a newly created independent U.S. company.


Ex-World Bank staff and leading economists support Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala for top job

Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala 
A group of former World Bank officials has written a letter backing Nigeria's Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be its next president. Traditionally the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, which this time is Dr Jim Yong Kim. But in an open letter, 35 former economists and managers said the Bank should choose the next chief on merit.
Another group of economists this week signed a petition backing Colombia's Jose Antonio Ocampo.
This is the first time the World Bank has had to choose between candidates since its creation more than 60 years ago.
The executive board of the Bank has to choose between Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former finance minister of Colombia, and Jim Yong Kim, a public health expert and president of Dartmouth College in the US.
The Bank is holding interviews next week and plans to select the successor to outgoing president Robert Zoellick by 20 April, when it starts its spring meetings with the IMF.
The three-way fight is attracting increasingly passionate comment from candidates' supporters. It has also shone a light on the way the World Bank chooses its head.
The US, which is the Bank's largest shareholder, has always picked the Bank's president. It, Europe and Japan have 54% of the votes.
Under an informal arrangement, in return, Europe appoints a European as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is the Bank's sister institution. It is currently run by Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde.
Emerging economies have become increasingly unhappy with this system and are pushing for change.
The leaders of Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently called for a review of that weighted voting system.
The nations, sometimes referred to as the Brics countries, are working to chose a joint candidate, according to the Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega.
Speaking after a meeting with the US-nominated Jim Yong Kim, he said Brazil has not yet made up its mind who to promote.
"By late next week Brazil should have a position on the matter and I will talk with the other Brics."
He said Dr Kim had vast experience with the developing world, but he would wait until he had met the other candidates before making up his mind.
The letter in support of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, which is signed by high-ranking managers and economists, including Tunisia's central bank chief, Mustapha Nabli, criticised some aspects of the selection process.
It said that it still involves nomination by governments, based in part on nationality, and without an agreed list of qualifying criteria.
It called for the process to be made in "an open, transparent, merit-based, and competitive manner rather than simply appointed in line with understandings that no longer reflect the world as it is today".
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala herself has called for a televised debate between the three candidates.
Her supporters said: "We believe that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has outstanding qualifications across the full range of relevant criteria."
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala "would bring the combination of her experience as finance and foreign minister of a large and complex African country with her wide experience of working at all levels of the Bank's hierarchy in different parts of the world, from agricultural economist to managing director".
It says "she would be the outstanding World Bank president the times call for" and pointed out that should would be the institution's first female leader.
They said they cared too much about the institution not to speak out.
The petition is support of Mr Ocampo was signed by economists from countries including China, India and Brazil, as well as two former governors of the Chilean central bank.
It pointed to his background working for UN agencies where "his intellectual leadership and commitment to development led to significant improvements in these institutions contribution to development thinking and to development policy design".
He has also been setting out his views of the future shape of the World Bank.
Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, he said the Bank's core mandate must remain that of reducing poverty, addressing growing inequalities that have appeared in recent decades and eliminating gender inequalities.
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has also been outlining what she thinks should be the Bank's main goal.
She said that it should be creating jobs, in both developing and developed countries, with a particular focus on youth unemployment because of the knock-on social problems it caused.
Dr Kim, who once did a turn as a rap artist at a social event at Dartmouth College, has the support of Canada, Japan and South Korea, where he was born, as well as the US.
He has not yet given an interview about his views on the role at the World Bank, but has described it in a statement as "one of the most critical institutions fighting poverty and providing assistance to developing countries in the world today".


Clueless Ecowas leaders impose sanctions on Mali junta.... to the delight of advancing (Al-Qaeda backed) rebels

West African states are imposing immediate sanctions on Mali, Ivory Coast's president has announced.

Alassane Ouattara, current head of regional body Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States), said it had closed borders to trade and frozen Mali's access to bank accounts.

The group had given the leaders of the country's military coup until today (Monday) to step down.

Coup leader Capt Amadou Sanogo said he has "taken note" of the Ecowas sanctions.

In a statement, he said the military junta was open to "mediation to find solutions out of the crisis" but that its priority remained "recovering the country's territorial integrity faced with the crisis in the north".

Tuareg rebels (former Muammar Gaddafi fighters in Libya) have made rapid advances in the north of the country over the last few days.

Correspondents say that Mali, a poor, landlocked country, would struggle to survive an economic blockade.

It is almost entirely dependent on its Ecowas neighbours for trade. Mali also shares its currency with seven other regional countries - and other members of the CFA franc zone have said they will cut transfers to Mali's banks.

President Ouattara said: "All diplomatic, economic, financial measures and others are applicable from today (Monday) and will not be lifted until the re-establishment of constitutional order."

He added that Ecowas' military force had been put on standby.

Mali's neighbours are keen for order to be restored in the country.

"The situation in Mali is extremely serious, it is a blow to democracy and an attack on the territorial integrity of this country," Mr Ouattara said.

The army said it had staged its coup because the campaign against the Tuareg rebels - who are fighting for an autonomous region in the north of Mali - had been poorly run.

But the Tuareg took advantage of the political situation over the weekend by seizing the key towns of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.

The UN Security Council (notorious for the Libya fiasco and its unintended consequences) will hold an emergency meeting on the crisis in Mali on Tuesday, sources quoted a US mission spokesman as saying.

France initially called for the meeting because it is increasingly concerned about gains made by Tuareg rebels in the north since the junta overthrew Mali's government, the agency adds.

Capt Sanogo has said the army is not leaving power, but has promised to consult local political forces to set up a transition body "with the aim of organising peaceful, free, open and democratic elections in which we will not take part".

The coup and Tuareg rebellion have exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in Mali and some neighbouring countries, with aid agencies warning that 13 million people need food aid.

Strauss-Kahn's legal troubles far from over

Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (pictured left) was charged on Monday with involvement in an organized vice ring that procured prostitutes for top-class clients, lawyers said.
Prosecutors said the 62-year-old former Socialist finance minister and one-time presidential favorite had been released on 100,000 euros ($135,000) bail after the charges on “aggravated pimping as part of an organized gang.”
Strauss-Kahn was called in by investigating magistrates in the northern French city of Lille two days earlier than expected and charged with an offense that could carry 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
“He firmly declares that he is not guilty of these acts and never had the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes,” said Richard Malka, one of Strauss-Kahn’s counsel.
“Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under judicial control and was forbidden from contacting defendants, civil plaintiffs, witnesses and the press regarding the procedures,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers immediately said they would appeal the charge.
“It goes without saying that we will ask for the cancellation of this decision,” said one of his lawyers, Henri Leclerc.
Strauss-Kahn “has never broken the law,” Malka said. “Through this prosecution they are trying to create a new crime punishing clients of prostitution where the law does not provide for this.”
He also suggested that Strauss-Kahn was being pursued because of his high profile and links to France’s Socialist party in the midst of a heated campaign for France’s April-May presidential election.
“As a result of behavior that is purely his own business, Mr Strauss-Kahn has found himself—largely because of his fame—thrown to the wolves, by coincidence less than a month before a major election,” Malka said.
Strauss-Kahn’s name came up as police were investigating a pimping operation that saw sex workers from brothels over the Belgian border being brought to France for orgies in high-class hotels in Lille and Paris.
Strauss-Kahn admits that he took part in some of these parties, one of which was said to involve women being flown to Washington to entertain him while he was still managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
But, through his lawyers, he has denied knowing the escorts were paid.
Using prostitutes is not illegal in France, but prosecutors are seeking proof that Strauss-Kahn was aware the parties were arranged by an organized pimping ring and paid for by other guests misusing company funds.
Several Lille-based businessmen and policemen have been accused of taking part in the ring. Strauss-Kahn told police he did not suspect the women were prostitutes because he was introduced to them by senior police officers.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers will also be in court on Wednesday in New York for the first hearing in a civil case brought against him by Nafissatou Diallo, a hotel maid who alleges he sexually assaulted her.
Judge Douglas McKeon will be asked to rule on a motion by Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers urging him to dismiss the case on the grounds that, at the time of the alleged attack in May last year, their client had diplomatic immunity.
McKeon has said he will give a written judgment on whether the case can go forward within a few weeks. If he accepts the motion, Strauss-Kahn’s U.S. legal woes may be over. If not, Diallo’s case for damages will go forward.
These two cases are the most serious threats facing Strauss-Kahn after the dismissal of two earlier criminal investigations that were brought against him in the United States and in France after his spectacular fall from grace.
First, criminal charges relating to 32-year-old Diallo’s complaint that Strauss-Kahn attacked her in his suite in a New York Sofitel hotel on May 15 were dropped after prosecutors came to doubt the reliability of her testimony.
After that case fell apart, Strauss-Kahn, who had resigned from his post at the IMF in Washington, returned to France, only to face an accusation from 32-year-old author Tristane Banon that he had tried to rape her in 2002.
French investigating magistrates questioned Strauss-Kahn and his accuser and concluded that, while there was prima facie evidence of a sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Strauss-Kahn admits having a “sexual encounter” with Diallo during the nine minutes she spent in his suite, and told French police that he had tried to kiss Banon, but strenuously denies he used violence in either case.
Until the scandals erupted, Strauss-Kahn was considered the favorite to become the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate and the frontrunner to defeat incumbent right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in next month’s election.

Source: AFP

Apple claims it sold over 3 million iPad units over the weekend....

In a news release, Apple marketing Sr. Vice-President Phil Schiller claims the technology giant sold over 3 million units of the new iPad this past weekend.

He was quoted as saying further that:

"The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold―the strongest iPad launch yet ... Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday."

It was indeed surprising that Apple decided to release the sales figures after all.

While Apple did not announce sales last year (hence no way to do year-by-year comparison), analysts and speculators believe that the released figures portend a very good sign for the new iPad as Apple continues to consolidate its market share in the technology gadgets and accesories space.

It will be interesting to see how and where the numbers trend from here.

Source: TechnologyInsider


Mad rush expected for Apple's latest iPad

The customary storefront crowds are expected to gather as Apple's latest iPad goes on sale Friday. Long lines are likely even though customers could have ordered the new tablet computer ahead of time for first-day home delivery.
The third version of Apple's iPad will be available in the U.S. and nine other countries beginning at 8 a.m. local time. The new model comes with a faster processor and a much sharper screen. It also boasts an improved camera, similar to that of the latest iPhone.
For many customers, visiting a store in person — instead of having one shipped — offers consumers a chance to mingle with die-hard Apple fans.
Two years after the debut of the first iPad, the device's launch has become the second-biggest "gadget event" of the year, after the annual iPhone release. A year ago, thousands lined up outside the flagship Apple store on New York's Fifth Avenue. The device sold out on launch day, even though it didn't go on sale until 5 p.m.
Apple does its part to encourage a party atmosphere. In past years, the company's retail employees have provided bottled water, coffee, bagels and even cupcakes to people in line. They've cheered and clapped as customers entered and left. Some customers bring lawn chairs and sleeping bags. Others dress as iPhones and iPads.
Although Apple's product releases have become a cultural phenomenon, the cult-like crowds that line up outside of its stores have made the company vulnerable to gentle ribbing from its competitors.
Television ads for Samsung's Galaxy line of phones routinely poke fun at people who are camped out in line for what appears to be an Apple product release.
The spots, in heavy rotation since December, portray Apple fans as clueless drones who think they're too cool to buy gadgets made by companies other than Apple. In one of the commercials, a bearded hipster says he could never buy a Samsung phone because he's "creative." A bystander observes: "Dude, you're a barista."
For some customers, standing in line will offer the only chance to get a new iPad on Friday. Apple quickly ran out of supplies it set aside for advance orders. The company was telling customers Thursday to expect a two- to three-week wait for orders placed through its online stores.
The new iPad is called just that: "the new iPad." Apple declined to give it a name like "iPad 3" or "iPad HD." That is consistent with its naming practice for iPods, MacBooks and iMacs, but a break with the way iPhone models are named.
In the U.S., the new iPad starts at $499, the same as the previous model, the iPad 2, when it debuted a year ago. The iPad 2 remains in stock, for $100 less.
Despite competition from cheaper tablet computers such as Inc.'s Kindle Fire, the iPad remains the most popular tablet computer. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since its debut in 2010, including some 40 million last year. Researchers estimate that the iPad has more than 60 percent of the market for tablets.
The iPad's accomplishments have contributed to the company's success on Wall Street. Apple's stock touched $600 briefly for the first time on Thursday. Apple is the world's most valuable company, with a market capitalization of nearly $555 billion. It topped $500 billion for the first time in late February, a market value peak where few companies have ventured.
Apple's retail stores are likely to draw the biggest crowds because they usually have the largest launch-day supplies, but the tablet will also be sold at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Target and Walmart.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless will also sell iPads, but only models with built-in cellular broadband modems. Those models use the companies' latest high-speed wireless networks, based on so-called "4G LTE" technology. They'll be the first Apple devices with that capability built in.
The cellular-capable models cost $130 more than Wi-Fi-only versions. There's a separate monthly data fee, but none of the long-term contract requirements typical with phones. The priciest iPad goes for $829; it comes with cellular access and four times the storage capacity of the basic, $499 model.
Apart from the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the device goes on sale the same day in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
A week later, another 25 countries will get the device, altogether making for an unusually fast product roll-out for Apple.

Source: AP News