Monday

MATTERS ARISING: BEYOND NORTHERN LAWYERS' NEW BAR ASSOCIATION

President Muhammadu Buhari has had an Islamization agenda from his first day in office

CC™ Opinion Letter - By Rev. Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji

For me, the on-going saga of the formation of a parallel Bar Association by lawyers from the Sharia States of Northern Nigeria could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. In fact, it may turn out to be the last straw that may lead to the redemption of the Nigerian State, as we know it. It could turn out to be the catalyst that will lead to the final solution of the age-long quest for a new political order for the Nigerian state. It is a signal which gives hope that the present political impasse and chronic state of insecurity and bloodbaths in Nigeria, is about to be challenged vigorously by those in legal profession.

This means that people of good conscience should not worry so much about this latest development, which for me is part of the unfolding drama of the present administration's Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria. The threat by the lawyers from Northern Nigeria Sharia States to discontinue their membership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and to form what they call "New Nigerian (Sharia States) Bar Association" (NNBA), should not worry anybody with sense of history. My prayer is that the Northern Muslim lawyers concerned should go ahead and make good their threats. A threat, methinks, is not unconnected with the recent dis-invitation of governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State to address the on-going 60th Annual Conference of NBA.

Since that dis-invitation letter from NBA was issued, it would appear heavens have been left loose for those who hold the Word captive in the Nigerian State. The governor himself, and his fellow Northern lawyer-sympathizers, instead of accepting in good faith, as true patriots and statesmen, the explanation given by the Chairman of NBA for the dis-invitation, have chosen the inglorious path responsible for the present disaffection, divisiveness, seeds of discord between the Northern Sharia States lawyers and the general body of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Is this type of behaviour not a confirmation of one of the intricacies and considerations that made the NBA in the first place, to disinvite the governor from speaking at the NBA 60th Annual Conference 2020? Is what is unfolding since that dis-invitation was issued not a replica of the actual situation of disaffection and mistrust we see today between the Kaduna State government and indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna? There are well-founded grievances of the indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna over the on-going killings and destructions of their villages and towns by the rampaging dreaded Fulani killer-herdsmen (a.k.a. bandits) and the federal and state governments' unwillingness to provide the indigenes of Southern Kaduna with adequate security of lives and property in their ancestral lands.

The government, rather than putting to stop the killings and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other prats of the country, chose instead to justify the carnage each time it occurs, calling it "herders-farmers' clash." How can one with sense of humanity in him/her be calling as farmers-herders' clash, what is clearly a terrorist invasion of indigenous ethnic-communities ancestral lands by the marauding killer-herdsmen? These are dreaded Fulani-herdsmen who roam around towns and villages of indigenous ethnic-communities, with AK47, killing people, destroying houses, farmlands, and raping women without any provocation? And which the government of the day has refused to arrest, prosecute or imprison any of the perpetrators. The government to complicate the matter all the more, tells the world that the killers are not Nigerians, but rather Fulanis from other African countries. But the government has never said a word about who invited or allowed them free entry into every nook and corner of the country? Neither, has the government categorically, told the world who their sponsors are?

The question is, 'How come it that the government and security operatives of the federal republic of Nigeria have allowed foreigners of Fulani-ethnic extraction who roam around with AK47, people from other African countries to invade the country, killing and destroying ancestral homes and farmlands of Nigeria's indigenous ethnic communities, unchallenged?' This is the one billion Naira question! Unfortunately, most commentators on this ugly situation, instead of asking these hard questions have chosen instead to toe the government one-sided deceptive narrative and lies, thus emboldening the terrorists and their sponsors.

For instance, since the recent feud between the governor of Kaduna State and NBA gained national attention, the powers, that be, have contracted some journalists, newspapers and media proprietors, most of whom are nowadays publishing articles trying to justify the government one-sided narrative of the carnage. These 'brown envelope' journalists, as they are often called, have embarked on the usual tactics of 'balancing the terror.' That is, trying to justify the government's inaction by claiming that not only indigenes of the indigenous ethnic-communities are killed, but that also Hausa-Fulani Muslims living in the area are in turn being killed in reprisal attacks by the fleeing natives of Southern Kaduna.

Everyone knows that, to hold to such a view of 'balancing the terror' is an oversimplification of the carnage that is actually taking place in Southern Kaduna today, as well as in other parts of the country, heavily under the herders' attacks and killings. Nothing can be far from the truth than such a devilish claim of authors of 'balancing the terror!'

The fact that most of the natives of Southern Kaduna have deserted their ancestral homes because of the on-going carnage, and are now refugees in the neighbouring states and towns, does not worry those propagating the doctrine of 'balancing the terror'? Again, the fact that prominent Christian traditional rulers of Southern Kaduna and other vocal politicians and intellectuals from the area have either been killed, kidnapped or sent on self-imposed exile because of the ongoing carnage there, makes no sense to agents of 'balancing the terror?'

Furthermore, the fact on the ground today, in the midst of all these, is that the state government is busy replacing the Christian traditional rules and Chiefdoms in the largely Christian Southern Kaduna with Fulani Muslim Emirates and Emirs! How these ugly development of things in Southern Kaduna under the present dispensation do not worry those hired authors of balancing the terror, is very unfortunate.

People of good conscience, not driven by politics, religious and ethnic clannishness, or monetary inducement, would consider these lies being propagated against the traumatized indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna by authors of 'balancing the terror', as sufficient reasons to justify the dis-invitation of the governor by the NBA. Only a Bar Association that lacks sense of humanity and respect for sacredness of human life, would fold its arms, and watch a people of a particular region or regions of the country it serves, subjected to a systematic threat of extermination as the indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna are facing today, without taking an action of disapproval?

The fact that the government in power both at the federal and state levels, are not doing anything tangible to stop the carnage in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, should be a major source of worry to any right thinking person or group of persons like the NBA. Again, the fact that the government in power appears disinterested, not seen to be on the side of the victims of the Fulani killer-herdsmen attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, should worry any right-thinking person!

That this scenario of bloodbaths and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country took a dramatic shape, and has lasted for over five years now, since the present regime came to power 2015, is the most worrisome aspect of the whole thing. Again, the present feud, setting up Northern Fulani Muslim lawyers against the NBA because of the dis-invitation of the governor, follows exactly, the same tactics used in setting up Fulani Muslims against the indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna.

What we are dealing with here is the insensitivity of the so-called rulers and political gladiators with their inborn 'divisive spirit', conquest ideology and agenda of religious and cultural domination of indigenous populations of Nigeria. Put them anywhere, they must set-up one group against the other, using the parameter of primitive divisive elements of religion and ethnicity. When in power, they use government machinery to achieve their sinister agenda of conquest and domination.

The question is, 'why has this government not gotten the courage to express at least, a sincere outrage over the ongoing bloodbaths perpetrated by the marauding killer-herdsmen? Why has this government refused to declare these killer-herdsmen and their Miyetti-Alla sponsors, a terrorist group? Why? If not that the government itself, is implicitly, behind the carnage being perpetrated by these terrorists, as some have, rightly or wrongly, alleged?

Suffice it to mention the massacre of over 1000 Shia Muslims in Kaduna by the Nigerian military, and the continued ethnic-cleansings of Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna, all happening under the watch of the present regime. Yet the regime does not want the people to feel outraged? Again, the worse thing is that till date none of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity in Southern Kaduna or elsewhere in the Middle Belt and Southern states, has been arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned by the present regime, both at the federal and state levels?

Another disturbing thing is that the government itself has never for once, sincerely and truly, commiserated with the victims. Rather, what the government does is to embolden and provide state and military protection for the terrorists, killer-herdsmen and bandits doing these killings and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country. And to go after any individual or group that dares speak against the heinous crimes and killings of innocent citizens going on in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country? Government spokespersons, both at the federal and state levels, would each time these carnages happen, try to justify them by blaming those who express outcry against the ugly situation. The recent government harassment of Dr Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of CBN, since he granted an interview to a Lagos-based FM radio station, in which he decried the killings of his people of Southern Kaduna, is a case in point.

The Rationale behind the Northern Lawyers' "New Bar Association"

There is no doubt that the same rationale propelling the harassment of Dr Obadiah Mailafia by the Nigerian security operatives, for decrying the Southern Kaduna carnage, is also behind the present threat by lawyers from the Northern Sharia states to discontinue with their membership of the NBA. As lawyers, which they claim to be, one would have expected the Northern Sharia States lawyers to come up with a position paper condemning the killings of Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Northern Nigeria. But this never happened. Rather, the Northern Sharia States lawyers are quick to point an accusing finger to their colleagues from other parts of the country who want to vent their disapproval for the ineptitude manner the state government is handling the genocide against Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna.

In other words, for the Northern Sharia states lawyers, the lives of people of Southern Kaduna, being slaughtered on daily basis by the killer-herdsmen, do not count! What counts to these Sharia states lawyers from Northern Nigeria, is the interest of the present administration, at both state and federal government levels, which is the protection of the killer-herdsmen, and not the lives of indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, being slaughtered on daily basis by the killer-herdsmen! Quo vadis?

This is why many people of good conscience think that the Northern lawyers' threat to form their own Bar Association with ethnic agenda to serve the Muslim Fulani North, may be a blessing in disguise. It may be the beginning forever of redefining a new path for Nigeria's rebirth. After all, who should bother so much, if people with that type of mind-set, decide to leave the global body of NBA to form their own clannish Sharia States Lawyers' Bar Association? Because their presence in the global Nigerian Bar Association breeds violence, hatred, injustice, lopsided leadership, insecurity, nepotism, and bloodbaths to the generality of the country.

Moreover, why should one worry about their leaving the NBA? After all, the Northern Sharia States have long left the country since the year 2001, when they adopted Sharia legal and political systems for their zones. The only worry now, is that today, they have taken over the complete control of the federal government and have embarked on a vigorous mission of total Islamization and Fulanization of the whole country. They have transformed the whole federal government machinery and leadership structure into Islamic and Fulani hegemony. The Nigerian judiciary, legislature and the executive arms of the Federal government under Buhari administration are already Northernized, Islamized, and Fulanized.

This means that if Northern lawyers and their kith and kin want to leave Nigeria to form their own political and legal state, they should be encouraged to do so. Let them go and form their own version of Bar Association that will serve the interest of their own people or rather their "new government" to emerge, which perhaps, sooner, or later, will be localized to their own part of the world? When that happens, know that the liberation of the indigenous ethnic-nationalities in this British contraption Nigeria is near at hand, so to speak. Because it will pave way for the total liberation of the rest of the people of the country from many years of servitude and ineptitude leadership by people with that type of mentality and mind-set.

The Nigerian Armed Forces - Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, as well as the Customs, Immigration, Road-safety, and all the Paramilitaries, etc., are already under the full control of Northern Fulani Muslims. So are all the important organs and parastatals of the present Federal government. The entire security operatives, governmental structure and machinery of the Nigerian State are today under the complete control of Fulani Muslims from the North. It is as if Christians and indigenous populations of the country no longer exist. So, the earlier Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria decide on their own to form their own associations and leave the rest of Nigerians in peace, the better for us all.

Presently, the regime at the federal level is in a desperate effort to install as governors in all the Southern and Middle Belt states, those politicians from these states that agreed to be used as 'willing-tools' by the regime for the Islamization and Fulanization of the predominantly Christian states of Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country. Where they found a strong resistance as happened in Imo State during the 2019 governorship elections, they will use the federal might, the Sharia Judge Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to install their stooge. The on-going political wrangling in Edo and Ondo States for this September governorship elections in those states, will not be different. They want to install states governors of their choice that could be used as "willing-tools" for their Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria. And there is nobody on the ground in the country today, capable of stopping them from installing those stooges in office as governors in Edo and Ondo States.

Moreover, unless a miracle happens and Nigeria survives the present turmoil as an entity, by 2023 elections, the same forces derailing the progress and development of Nigerian state, will make sure that they install their stooges as governors across all the states in Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country. Make no mistake about it: The present-ruling party, APC, is a political party contracted by the OIC, Saudi Arabia and Muslim Brotherhood International, and which is being used in the on-going process of total Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria.

During the Babaginda ill-conceived transition to civilian rule, the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) was the party the same forces had wanted to use to convert Nigeria into a full Muslim state. During Obasanjo and later Jonathan administrations, they kept these two former presidents of Nigeria under constant tension, using Buhari's political opposition parties and of course, the Islamists' terrorist groups, Boko Haram and Killer-herdsmen. But since Buhari became President in 2015, the regime has been doing the bidding of these agents of Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria. The ruling party APC is the smokescreen they use today in that project. The party is 100% agent of Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria! Don't mind, the 'willing-tools', who claim to be Christians, they often recruit from the Southern and Middle Belt regions. It is all meant to confuse the gullible. The fact remains that APC is an Islamic political party in power in Nigeria today!

The Implications of Northern Lawyers' 'New Bar Association'

In the midst of all these, 'what are the implications of all the fuss about the formation of a separate Bar Association by the Northern Fulani Muslim lawyers?' For me, there is nothing new in what the Northern lawyers have chosen to do. After all, that has been the political game Northern ruling class and elites often play and use to get whatever they want in the Nigerian state, each time there is something of this kind.

Was it not how their forbears delayed the independence of Nigeria from Great Britain in 1957 on the pretence that they were not yet ready? And when they claim to be ready for it in 1960, it was to them that Britain handed over the political power of the nascent independent Nigerian State. In addition, the colonial masters gave them an age over other regions of the country through the pre-independence massively rigged population census of 1953, and the colonial regional frontiers' landmass arbitrary boundary adjustments carried out by the British before they left the country in 1960. Thus, repositioning the North for permanent political control of the country.

In this way, the North was technically, positioned 'forever' by Britain to have preponderance in population and number of legislators in the National Assembly, over other regions in Southern Nigeria. Ab initio, Nigeria was an 'unbalanced union.' Nigeria was never created by Britain to succeed as a nation state, but rather to continue to serve British neo-colonial imperialism in Africa. This was how the seed of political instability, ethnic-hate and religious bigotry we see today in Nigeria, sixty years after political independence from Britain, was sown. It meant, in principle that political control of the entire country will always be at the hands of the Northern ruling class and the Caliphate. That is, as long as there was no strong resistance from the people of the Southern regions and the Middle Belt.

Therefore, the Northern lawyers by forming their own new Bar Association, separating from the global NBA, are just playing the usual traditional politics of the Northern ruling class and elites in the Nigerian State. But this time around, it will be a great mistake to allow them have their way. This is because many people have died in Nigeria as a result of all these historical facts. The North must be made to understand this.

On this basis, one cannot but appreciate the courage and sense of humanity demonstrated by the NBA leadership by dis-inviting the Kaduna governor. A government or political system which folds its arms, on the basis of ethnic or religious considerations, and watches hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens in his domain, massacred in their ancestral homeland by terrorists, is not worth its salt. Any political system or government that is incapable of providing security of lives and property for its citizens, should be disbanded and replaced with a new political order and administration. Human life is sacred and sacrosanct. Protection of human life comes first in the order of priority of any government and in the fashioning of any political system, worth its name.

Therefore, in the present dispensation, the gladiators behind the newly formed Northern lawyers' Bar Association should be made to understand, that Nigeria has come of age. No more tolerance of nonsense from any person or group of persons. The Northern ruling class and elites, with all respects, have played this their game for a long time. It is now time to tell them that enough is enough!

This is what they have been doing in all aspects of the political life of the country all these years. The only difference now, is that they have gotten a complete control of the federal government machinery under the present lopsided federal government. A federal government, whose primary objective is the total Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria. The present federal government is yet to convince majority of the citizens that it cares about the security of lives and property of the indigenous ethnic-communities in the Middle Belt and Southern States of Nigeria.

The Way Out of the Conundrum

Today, as we speak, the entire governance structure of Nigerian State is controlled by one clan, an ethno-religious group from the North, Fulani Muslims. They control the executive, legislative, and judiciary arms of the federal government. In the midst of such lopsided government and political system, of what use is the present structure of NBA? This means that time has come to call a spade a spade and know that Nigerian judiciary, just like the other two arms of the Federal government, the executive and legislature, have been grossly compromised.

The only solution, therefore, is to look for a new paradigm shift, away from what is on board presently in the country. Nigeria Bar Association, as a matter of urgency, needs a new paradigm shift, which must be based on respecting the value systems of each federating units in this British contraption called Nigeria. The present practice whereby only the value systems of a particular ethno-religious group, that is not indigenous to the country, is the philosophy driving the Nigerian legal and political systems is unacceptable.

Thus, as things are today, it is expected that members of Nigerian Bar Association will be in the better position to do the needful, help change the current trend of events in the country before it becomes too late. Nigeria is not a homogenous nation state, and there is no way the type of lopsided federal government structure - the executive, legislature and judiciary arms of government in place today in the country, will ever work. There is no meeting-point between Sharia legal system and the Common Law upon which the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, is claimed to have been based!

It is time therefore for conscientious lawyers, and judges from the Southern and Middle Belt states of Nigeria to begin to think for an alternative way, "return to their people and base, and know that the problem is nothing else, but NIGERIA itself as presently structured." The country needs to return to its founding story as a nation state. The question is, 'Is this NIGERIA, in the name of which we are witnessing state-sponsored genocides, pogroms and ethnic-cleansings on daily basis, since the creation of the country by Britain in 1914, … really, the type of country our forbears had envisaged for their children, born and unborn?' If not, why can't we tell ourselves the naked truth and resolve to do the needful before it is too late?

Since 2001, the core North 12 states and Northern part of Kaduna State have been practising Sharia legal system instead of the Common Law as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! It means that Nigeria as it is today is a country practising two parallels, irreconcilable laws and political systems. While the Sharia States of Northern Nigeria follow Islamic law - legal and political systems, the rest of the people in the Southern and Middle Belt regions follow a Constitution of "Common Law", which was given to them by no less a person than a military junta headed by a Northern Fulani Muslim, Gen. Abubakar Abudulsalami.

This means, in principle, that even the 1999 Constitution is a camouflaged "Islamic Law." This is why the words 'Sharia and Islam' appeared many times in the 1999 Constitution, and there is no mention of even a word of "Christian" in the Constitution. Yet nobody seems to be asking questions about all these aberrations in the 1999 Constitution?

Nigeria is already under total control of Northern Fulani Muslims. The President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Senate President, and Speaker of House of Representatives, etc., are all Muslims. Even the Nigerian Law School and all the others, are all headed by Fulani Muslims from the North. In other words, the present Federal government is Northern Fulani Muslim-controlled government. In fact, today, before someone from the Southern States or Middle Belt regions is given any federal appointment, the individual is often forced, first, to make a pledge to the Caliphate and the ruling class from the North. Without that, no Christian or Non-Fulani would be appointed to any important position at the federal level. This is how Christians and other citizens of indigenous ethnic-communities survive in the present-day Nigeria.

The painful thing is that all the state governors, other prominent government officials, ruling class and elites are aware of all these. Yet nobody seems to be contesting it. In fact, it seemed all have been subdued by the present regime!

Conclusion

Taking into consideration all these, methinks that the decision of the Northern lawyers to separate from the NBA and form their own regional Bar Association to serve their selfish ends, should be seen by the rest of the country, especially, those from the Southern and Middle Belt, as an opportunity for a political renegotiation of the "failed Nigerian State." It is needless for any right-thinking person to contest whether Nigeria is a failed state or not. We all know that! In fact, no matter how much you hope that things will get better tomorrow in the country as presently structured, the more disillusioned you will become.

Moreover, since Northern ruling class have demonstrated time and time again, that they cannot live together as equal citizens with the rest of the citizens from the Middle Belt and Southern regions, that unless they lord it over others, nothing will ever move forward in the country, I think it is time to tell them that enough is enough!

Let what is happening today in the country, the general state of insecurity and perennial political instability, be an opportunity to initiate a concrete effort by the ruling class and elites from all the federating ethnic-nationalities, for a new political solution to emerge. This is a call for political renegotiation of Nigerian State, a new political order, so that security of lives and property of indigenous populations and Christians will begin to count in the scheme of things of whoever is in power.

Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest, is Professor Ordinarius of contextual theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome.

Thursday

The ten best football (soccer) players of all time

CC™ Sports Perspective

There is no question that 'the beautiful game' has been blessed with some of the most glorious talent ever assembled in any sports, over the generations. Here are the ten best football (soccer) players of all time according to a consortium of ardent analysts and personalities in the game. 

The list allows many fans of the beautiful game to offer their own opinion and suggestions on the veracity of the rankings.

1) Edson Arantes do Nascimento - Pelé (Brazil) 

Peak: 1958-70   

Major Achievements: Most career goals (of any footballer ever, like ever), FIFA Player of the Century, France Football's greatest FIFA World Cup player, TIME 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list, Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer, Santos' all-time leading goalscorer, youngest FIFA World Cup winner, most assists in FIFA World Cup history, 1958, 1962 & 1970 FIFA World Cup, top goalscorer in FIFA World Cup finals, two Copa Libertadores titles, six Campeonato Brasilerio Serie A titles, two Intercontinental Cups, 1970 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1958 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player, 1970 Bola de Prata. There isn't really much that needs to be said here. Pele was simply the best and the only player that could have possibly eclipsed him from the premier position would have been Maradona, if the latter had won a second FIFA World Cup.



2) Diego Armando Maradona (Argentina) 

Peak: 1985-90

Major Achievements: 90min's Greatest Footballer of All Time, Corriere dello Sport's Best Athlete in History, 1986 FIFA World Cup, 1986 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1985 Serie A Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, FIFA Goal of the Century, Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century, two-time South American Footballer of the Year, four-time Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year, two Scudetti, one Coppa Italia, one Copa del Rey, one UEFA Cup. Maradona was a football genius and took over a game like no other player did, probably not since the number one player on the list, Pelé.


3) Zinedine Zidane - Zizzou (France and of Algerian descent)

Peak: 1997-2006

Major Achievements: 1998 Ballon d'Or, 1998, 2000 & 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2002 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, 2000/01 Serie A Footballer of the Year, UEFA Champions League Best Player of the Past 20 Years, L'Equipe Best French Player of All Time, 2006 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, only player to be named Player of the Year in three of the top five leagues, most goals in FIFA World Cup finals, 1998 FIFA World Cup, 2000 UEFA European Championships, one Champions League, two Scudetti, one La Liga title, one Intercontinental Cup. Zizzou should have won two FIFA World Cups and the evidence of his genius was in taking an average and aging French side to the FIFA World Cup final in 2006, while eliminating a star-studded Brazil side in the process. Zizzou never lost to Brazil when it mattered and he was 2-0 against two of arguably the best Brazillian teams of all time, the 1998 and 2006 teams with stars like Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo ("O Fenômeno"), Roberot Carlos and Cafu, just to name a few.


4) Johan Cryuff (Netherlands aka Holland)

Peak: 1971-75

Major Achievements: 1971, 1973 & 1975 Ballon d'Or, 1974 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, three-time Dutch Footballer of the Year, two-time Dutch Sportsman of the Year, three European Cups, one La Liga title, nine Eredivisie titles, one Copa del Rey, six KNVB Cup, one Intercontinental Cup. Johan Cryuff was 'Total Football' and he was the architect of modern football, as we know it.


5) Franz Beckenbauer (Germany aka West Germany)

Peak: 1966-76

Major Achievements: 1972 & 1976 Ballon d'Or, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, 1966 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award, four-time German Footballer of the Year, 1974 FIFA World Cup, 1972 UEFA European Championships, three European Cups, five Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals, one Intercontinental Cup. The Der Kaiser, as he is fondly called, won the FIFA World Cup as a player and also as a manager. He is also one of only two defenders to ever win the Ballon d'Or and he infact won it TWICE!


6) Ronaldo aka "O Fenômeno" (Brazil)

Peak: 1995-2002

Major Achievements: 1997 & 2002 Ballon d'Or, 1996, 1997 & 2002 FIFA World Player of the Year, 1998 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2002 FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe, 1996/97 European Golden Shoe, 1994 & 2002 FIFA World Cup, 1997 & 1999 Copa America, two-time Pichichi winner, 1998 Serie A Footballer of the Year, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one KNVB Cup, one UEFA Cup, one Intercontinental Cup. Ronaldo easily could have become the greatest football player of all time, but his knees and overall lack of personal discipline, did him in. He was simply a joy to watch!


7) Ronaldinho (Brazil)

Peak: 2002-06

Major Achievements: 2005 Ballon d'Or, 2004 & 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2005/06 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, 2004 & 2005 FIFPro World Player of the Year, one UEFA Champions League, two La Liga titles, one Scudetto. 2002 FIFA World Cup winner. Ronaldinho was one of the most gifted geniuses with the ball at his feet. He was exquisite to watch and played with so much joy that his passion seemed like par-for-the-course, even in the most energy-sapping of games. Just ask England in 2002 and they will tell you that no one 'smiled while killing you' with so much ease as Ronaldinho. 


8) Alfredo Di Stéfano (Argentina)

Peak: 1956-62

Major Achievements: 1957 & 1959 Ballon d'Or, five European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, eight La Liga titles, five-time Pichichi winner, World Team of the 20th Century, one Copa del Rey.
Alfredo Di Stéfano is considered by some to be the best player of all time, and many consider that he should be ranked above fellow Argentines Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. Indelibly associated with the Real Madrid side that won 5 European Cups between 1956 and 1960, remarkably Di Stéfano did not even come to Europe until he was in his late 20s. It was during his time in Spain with Real that created his legend. In 11 seasons, in addition to the European Cup triumphs, he helped them win 8 league titles and the Copa del Rey, scoring 308 goals in 396 appearances for Los Blancos. His partnership with Ferenc Puskás became legendary, exemplified by the 1960 European Cup Final, where Di Stéfano scored a hat-trick, and the Hungarian four in the 7 – 3 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt, still spoken of, nearly 60 years later, as one of the finest games of club football ever played. 
9) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Peak: 2010-18

Major Achievements: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017 Ballon d'Or, 2008, 2016 & 2017 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2014, 2016 & 2017 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, four-time European Golden Shoe winner, two-time PFA Players' Player of the Year, UEFA Champions League all time top goalscorer, Real Madrid's all time top goalscorer, five UEFA Champions Leagues, two La Liga titles, three Premier League titles, one Scudetto, two Copa del Rey, one FA Cup, one UEFA European Championship and inaugural UEFA Nations League Championship.


10) Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Peak: 2009-18

Major Achievements: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 & 2019 Ballon d'Or, 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, Barcelona all time top goalscorer, La Liga all time top goalscorer, six-time Pichichi winner, Argentina's all time top goalscorer, most goals scored in a calendar year, 2011 & 2015 UEFA Men's Player of the Year, seven-time La Liga Player of the Year, 2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2005 Young European Footballer of the Year, five-time European Golden Shoe winner, four Champions Leagues, nine La Liga titles, six Copa del Rey. 

Wednesday

Trump pardons convicted bank robber in midst of RNC convention


CC™ Politico

U.S. President Donald Trump has pardoned a convicted bank robber, Jon Ponder, who is now running a post-prison assistance programme.

A pre-recorded video of Trump signing an executive order for the pardon, with Ponder standing beside him, aired on Tuesday night.

Coming amid the Republican National Convention, the president’s move is seen by some as an attempt to draw attention to criminal justice.

Criminal justice reform and the need to give repentant criminals a second chance are ideas promoted by Trump and his party.

According to reports, Ponder pleaded guilty to bank robbery in 2005, and was released from prison in 2009.

In 2010, he founded “Hope for Prisoners”, a non-governmental organisation assisting released prisoners to reintegrate into the society.

The president reportedly met him when he was invited to a National Day of Prayer event at the White House in 2018.

Trump praised Ponder’s commitment to Christianity and his friendship with Richard Beasley, a retired FBI agent who arrested him, and who accompanied him to the event.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Beasley was also with Ponder at the signing of the pardon at the White House on Tuesday.

Speaking before the signing order, Trump said he believed that every one was created by God for a purpose.

“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream, and a great American dream it is.

“My hope for America is that formerly incarcerated people will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chances,” he said.

AGENCY

Tuesday

Barca icon Lionel Messi opts to leave Catalan giants after being told by Koeman that his 'privileges were over'


CC™ Breaking News

Lionel Messi finally decided to leave Barcelona after the club's new coach, Ronald Koeman, told him his "privileges in the squad are over."

Messi and Koeman met shortly after the Dutchman's appointment last week amid rumors the Argentine wanted to leave the club following its 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. 

During the meeting, Messi is understood to have told Koeman that he "does not see his future at Barcelona clearly" and that he was leaning towards leaving rather than staying.

Argentine news outlet Diario Ole now reports that Koeman told Messi: "Your privileges in the squad are over, you have to do everything for the team. I'm going to be inflexible, you have to think about the team."

It is not known exactly what the "privileges" Messi previously received are, although he has previously had a significant amount of influence on the club.

The exchange is believed to be what convinced Messi his time at Barcelona is up, with the Argentine notifying the club of his intention to leave on Tuesday.

The Association Press says Barcelona has confirmed that it received documentation from the 33-year-old saying that he intends to quit.

The move, a shock for the footballing world, is likely to incite a legal battle between Messi's representatives and the club, with Messi's camp believing a clause in his contract will allow him to leave the club for free.

Barcelona, however, believe that the clause expired in June, meaning interested parties would be forced to pay closer to his buy-out clause of $825 million.

Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City are believed to be the frontrunners for Messi's signature.

INSIDER

Monday

West African slave Onesimus taught America the science of vaccination (Video)

CC™ Historical Fact

In the 18th Century, Boston, which later became part of what is now called the United States of America experienced a deadly small pox epidemic.

The epidemic killed hundreds of people and there seemed to be no medical solution.

An African, known as Onesimus, who was shipped as a slave from Ghana, provided the therapy, by introducing the principle and procedure of inoculation.

According to what he taught his master, the inoculation worked by extracting the juice of small pox, from an infected person and then cutting the skin of an uninfected and putting a drop of the juice.

It worked.

Puritan minister Cotton Mather, who Onesimus told about this African therapy used this knowledge to advocate for inoculation in the population, a practice which eventually spread to other colonies.

According to Wikipedia, Mather's advocacy met resistance from those suspicious of African medicine.

Doctors, ministers, laymen, and Boston city officials argued that the practice of inoculating healthy individuals would spread the disease and that it was immoral to interfere with the working of divine providence.

Mather was also publicly ridiculed for relying on the testimony of a slave.

Nonetheless, a physician, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, carried out the method Onesimus had described, which involved sticking a needle into a pustule from an infected person's body and scraping the infected needle across a healthy person's skin.

Dr. Boylston first inoculated his 6-year-old son and two of his slaves.

A total of 280 individuals were inoculated during the 1721-22 Boston smallpox epidemic.

The population of 280 inoculated patients experienced only 6 deaths (approx. 2.2 percent), compared to 844 deaths among the 5,889 non-inoculated smallpox patients (approx. 14.3 percent

Boston and London in 1726 and 1722, respectively, performed trials on citizens and, on average, decreased the mortality rate from 17% to 2% of the infected population.

In a 2016 Boston Magazine survey, Onesimus was declared number 52 on a list of the "Best Bostonians of All Time".

Onesimus's name cropped up recently on MSNBC in this Twitter post shared by a certain Osaretin Victor Asemota:

As the world searches for a vaccine to curb Coronavirus and its accompanying COVID-19 disease, let the world remember that an African pioneered a solution for health crisis of this nature ahead of western medicine.

Sunday

Trump's sister Maryanne Trump Barry calls him cruel and a liar in leaked tapes

CC™ News

In leaked recordings, Donald Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry has painted an unflattering image of U.S. President, describing him as a liar and cruel.

She said Trump lacks principles and could not be trusted.

She is the second family member to give a character portrait of the man who is seeking re-election in November.

Maryanne Trump slammed her brother over his immigration policy that saw children separated from their parents at the border and sent to detention centres.

"All he wants to do is appeal to his base," she said in recordings obtained by the Washington Post. "He has no principles. None.

"His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God."

The recordings were secretly made by the president's niece Mary Trump, who published last month a bombshell memoir of the "toxic family" that produced him.

The president's younger brother Robert, who died last week, went to court to try to block its publication, arguing that Mary was violating a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2001 after the settlement of her grandfather's estate, but to no avail.

Some 950,000 copies were sold the day of the memoir's release, with the White House branding the memoir as a "book of falsehoods".

At one point in the recordings, Barry said to her niece: "It's the phoniness of it all. It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel."

The recordings also shed light on the source of an embarrassing claim in the memoir that the president paid someone to take a college entrance exam for him.

"He got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams," Barry said, adding she even remembered the man's name.

The president or the White House did not immediately comment on the recordings.

Saturday

Vested Interest: Bill Gates' backed CureVac jumps 18% on report it's in advanced talks with the EU for 225 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine (CVAC)

CC™ Business Venture - By Carmen Reinicke

Shares of CureVac, a German biotech firm backed by Bill Gates, surged as much as 18% in premarket trading Thursday after the company said it is in talks with the European Commission to supply doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine. 

The potential contract with the European Commission intends to provide European Union member states with up to 225 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, once it has been proven safe and effective against COVID-19, the company said in a press release.

The contract would also give the European Commission the option to purchase an additional 180 million doses, bringing the total to 405 million doses of the potential vaccine. 

If an agreement is reached, it would mark the company's first bilateral supply deal, according to Reuters.

CureVac's mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial at different sites in Germany and Belgium, aiming to determine safety and efficacy of the drug in humans, the company said. It expects to have results from the trial early in the fourth quarter of 2020, and move to the next phase soon after. 

CureVac has gained more than 255% since its recent public trading debut through Wednesday's close.

This article was originally published in Markets Insider (Business Insider).

Screen Shot 2020 08 20 at 8.29.35 AM



Friday

Flashback: The GOP and the dearth of true conservatives

Reagan takes oath of office
Editor-in-Chief 

In an article I wrote three years ago, I touched on the debilitating frailties of the GOP as presently constituted and how they may have led to the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

As we get into the decisive months of presidential politics in the U.S. general elections, one sees the same pattern beginning to unfold once again, as the GOP-led Congress (at least on the House side) would much rather play side-bar politics, that could ultimately re-energize the left to turn out in solidarity of what most observers perceive to be an under-performing president.

There is no question that the president is vulnerable and worse-still is the fact that he seems unsure of what he needs to do, in order to get the economy moving again.

For independent voters (they hold the "swing votes" in key elections), the two choices for the White House would seem to be a replay of 2008 all over again.

Then, most independents seemed to initially lean towards John McCain, as they respected his service to country as well as his penchant for reaching across the aisle, to get the business of the nation done, when it was absolutely necessary.

The fringe right of the GOP was however cool to the McCain candidacy and they eventually forced his hand into choosing someone that many felt became a liability to both his candidacy as well as the poignant message true conservatives were trying to send to the American people.

Key political watchers would argue that true conservatives never warmed up to Sarah Palin the minute they realized there was nothing behind the looks or between the ears.

For all the so-called Tea Party would like most Americans to believe, conservatism is not defined by a resentment for a sterling educational pedigree or impeccable intellectual acumen. Rather than see those with the preceding qualities as snubs, a true conservative views the composite as an invaluable asset; one that typifies a sense of ambition, responsibility and ultimately speaks to the crux of the conservative message of a commitment to excellence.

The reality is that this president is way in over his head, but the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives has consistently giving him a way out by stalling and styming his feckless efforts aimed at "reviving" the American economy.

And when they are not styming the president's "well intended efforts" they are busy issuing subpoenas to the Attorney General of the United States for a program that was actually started under a Republican president; it was then called Operation Wide Receiver and it was the first known ATF "gunwalking" operation to the Mexican drug cartels, beginning in early 2006 (under the Bush White House) and ran till late 2007.

Not to digress onto this matter, but what makes the Darrell Issa-led over-reach even more laughable and at best mis-directed, is the fact that under the Bush administration, there were no known reviews by either the DOJ or the Congress at the time. In fact, it was not until Barack Obama took office in 2009, that the Eric Holder-led DOJ started an intensive review into Operation Wide Receiver, with arrests and indictments subsequently made, as a result of the investigations.

Rather than focus on the key issues that continue to affect the generality of the American people, the ECONOMY, ECONOMY and the ECONOMY, key GOP leadership and their surrogates, would much rather play divisive politics and once again, give a much needed opening and life-line to a struggling presidency.

True conservatives are not blinded by their parochial and ideological idiosyncracies, but are instead commited to espousing the true values and ideals of transparency, accountability and responsible governance; doing so with dignity and firmness, as well as a sense of cordiality that belies their resolve and determination.

The message of individual responsibility, self-determination, personal discipline and accountability must not be lost in the abyss of incendiary vituperations laced with jingoistic redundancies.

The American people deserve much better this time around, than a default presidency as that may ultimately lead to a couple of plausible scenarios that could eventually obtain here. The first is that Barack Obama's "third term" is ensured (4 years from now) by the lack of purpose and direction currently being exhibited by the core GOP establishment. The other scenario is that an anti-establishment candidate may arise out of the ashes of the impending GOP establishment's implosion. That person would then become an unlikely but much welcome voice (at least to the far right) of parochial irredentism that may change the political landscape of the United States forever.

Editor's Note: This piece was written (ahead of the 2012 U.S. general elections) as a sequel to a preceding piece titled "Whither the GOP and true conservatism." Both pieces served to profess a prelude to the emergence of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Thursday

Flashback: Whither the GOP and true conservatism

By the Editor-in-Chief

I was a young man those days when I was back in Lagos, Nigeria. Lived on the Island, good family upbringing, went to some of the best schools, had a healthy knowledge of current affairs and world politics at a young age and above all, grew up in a political family which gave me a vantage view of the nuances and intricacies of the oldest game in the world.

Yes, politics is a game upon which the dreams and aspirations of many hinge. It is because of the latter that it is incumbent upon us all as a nation, a people and a world to get it right.

This brings me then to the current state of American politics, particularly the GOP as it is presently constituted. As I would watch the NTA (Nigerian Televison Authority) World News @9 pm those days, I would reel off the names of the members of Ronald Reagan's team. These were essentially all Republican stalwarts. The likes of James Baker III, George Schultz, Casper Weinberger and many others. Many of the Reagan aides went on to serve in the administration of Bush 41 (Herbert Walker) and we also saw the advent of one Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney? Whatever happened to him an old friend of mine from back home asked the other day? Dick Cheney's "metamorphosis" into the abyss of political thuggery masked as altruistic patriotism is the one line that most perfectly describes the current state and decline of this once storied party.

I don't know if I have said it here before, but I have never been a Democrat, as the party was in fact the party of segregation, Jim Crow as well as the marginalization and abuse of African-Americans for decades and even centuries if I might add. It was not until the realization of reason and human decency, thanks to a "Texas red-neck", Lyndon Baines Johnson that blacks began to be treated with the decency deserving of humans and it was during this period that the "Dixiecrats" (Southern Democrats) left en-masse and it is unquestionable that they have now found a home over the years in the GOP.

I am also not a Republican, but I have always admired the party mainly because of Ronald Reagan and Bush 41. They were both decent men who respected their opponents and had a statesman-like disposition to them that was appealing to many across the political and other divide. I was brought up in a family where education, hard work and self-less sacrifice were imbibed into us and passed from generation to generation. We were told that we represented not only ourselves, but our family name and its ideals and believe in personal responsibility and dutiful citizenship.

While it is the duty of government to "correct" the wrongs of the past, I have NEVER believed that overtime, it was also the duty of government to teach fathers and mothers how to be responsible parents and conduct themselves with dignity and a strong sense of purpose.

The crux of the GOP's mantra on personal responsibility - a "small government" built on enduring and fiscally responsible policies, as well as a "strong defense", has always appealed to me. The problem though is that the GOP, Reagan included, has left the nation in debilitating debt each time they have been in power, thus betraying their own ideals and in the process eroding the confidence many had reposed in them. However, the difference between the Reagan/Bush 41 years and this current band of marauders masked as conservatives, has been how low they have sunk in their attempt to control the tone and direction of the national conversation.

While I would posit that the one component missing from the Reagan dynamic was that of a certain form of compassionate conservatism, Bush 41 addressed this during his tenure in office and it is no wonder he was never liked by the rabid-dog neo-cons that have now usurped the mantle of leadership in the GOP. Both Reagan and Bush 41, I will reiterate, were decent men and believed that the GOP had room for as many as possible without the party necessarily changing its core ideals and principles.

Reagan and Bush 41 were however both pragmatic men with great vision as Reagan reached out to democratic leaders consistently during his tenure, while Bush 41 had one singular act that showed how much wisdom he had as a leader by resisting every attempt by hard-core "conservatives" to lure the US into invading Iraq having ejected Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. His son, Bush 43 went against his father's sound judgment (and the US and indeed the world has been worse off for it) with the invasion of Iraq (the torture at Abu Ghraib in particular) being a solid rallying point and recruiting advertisement for radical Islam and its murderous proponents.

While I largely disagreed with the policies of both Reagan and Bush 41, with regard to their seeming indifference to the policies of the apartheid regime in the then racist enclave of South Africa as well as their "tepid" support for civil rights, they both still recognized the importance of a party where dissension was actually healthy as it helped shore up whatever "policy white spaces" there were in the political landscape. The current GOP, in the last two decades or so has become increasingly intolerant, xenophobic and downright unrelenting in its attempt to rid America of its most important source of strength and dynamism, its diversity.

That the leaders of today's GOP look to the likes of Sean Hannity (a Neo-Nazi sympathizer), Rush Limbaugh (an unabashed racist) and Joe "the plumber" is really quite telling. That the notion of someone being educated and going to some of the best schools in the US and indeed the world makes them an elite is also quite revealing. That the usurpers of the party of Lincoln see nothing wrong in America spearheading torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay while forceful defending the same tactics used by the Nazi and imperialistic Japanese soldiers shows just how much the GOP, as presently constituted, is not the party to lead this nation.

Indeed again, I must ask. Whither the GOP? The party of Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind, has been taken over by those who resent a culture that encourages a divergence of opinion and backgrounds within their ranks and through their rhetoric and seditious irredentism, these agents of intolerance and hatred have created an atmosphere where discord is the order of the day, and destructive violence, in the name of religion and "morality", has again been visited on the American consciousness.

This is not the party that gave us decent men like Bush 41, Ronald Reagan James Baker III and Brent Scowcroft I must say. Obviously Dick Cheney was always "a wolf in sheep's clothing" as his conduct has betrayed the dignity, integrity and decency of most of the men he served with under Reagan and Bush 41.

In a write-up by former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, she alluded to the convincing dynamic of the Obama candidacy and asserts his victory was a "personal" one steeped in the persona and vision of the candidate himself, much like Reagan and that it was not a victory based necessarily on ideology. She states, rather cogently, that the GOP's inability to figure out a way to hold together a coalition of economic conservatives, foreign policy conservatives as well as social moderates and conservatives while resisting the specter of a circular firing squad, has been to the party's detriment and will be so for a long time to come.

I am not one of those that wants the GOP to die away, on the contrary, like the true democrat that I and most Americans are, I very much want a vibrant two-party system like we've always had as I believe it is healthy for our democracy. The GOP as it currently stands, however makes that increasingly less likely.