Why can’t some people remember their dreams?

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I am standing outside my childhood primary school, near the front gates and the teachers’ car park. It is a bright sunny day and I am surrounded by my classmates. There must be more than a hundred of us.

I have a dim feeling that some of my teachers are nearby, but my attention is on two adults, neither of which I recognise. The man I see in lurid detail – from the slick shine of his hair to the golden lenses on his sunglasses. He holds up some kind of device that emits a piercing shriek. I drop to my knees with my hands against my ears. My schoolmates are all doing the same. The man is laughing maniacally.

I had that dream nearly 40 years ago, but I can remember the details as if it were yesterday. Ask me to relate anything from a dream I had earlier this week, however, and I draw a blank. If I have been dreaming – and biology would suggest I most probably have – nothing has lingered long enough to remain in my waking mind.

For many of us, dreams are an almost intangible presence. If we’re lucky, we can only remember the most fleeting glimpse in the cold light of day; even those of us who can recollect past dreams in astonishing detail can wake some days with almost no memory of what we had dreamed about.

There is little ethereal about the reasons this might be happening, however. Why we have dreams – and whether we can remember them – are both rooted in the biology of our sleeping bodies and subconscious mind.

Our brains go through a rollercoaster while we’re asleep (Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

Sleep is more complicated than we once thought. Rather than being a plateau of unconsciousness bookended by slipping in and out of sleep, our resting brains go through a rollercoaster of mental states, with some parts being full of mental activity.

Dreaming is most closely associated with the sleep state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). REM is sometimes known as desychronised sleep, because it can mimic some of the signs of being awake. In REM sleep, the eyes twitch rapidly, there are changes in breathing and circulation, and the body enters a paralysed state known as atonia. It happens in 90-minute-waves during sleep, and it’s at this stage that our brains tend to dream.

There is an extra flow of blood to crucial parts of our brain during the REM state: the cortex, which fills our dreams with their content, and the limbic system, which processes our emotional state. While we’re in this dream-friendly state of sleep, they fire with furious electrical activity. The frontal lobes, however – which direct our critical faculties – are quiet.

This means we often blindly accept what is happening in this often nonsensical narrative until the time comes to wake up.

It’s probably a good thing that the dream life and the waking life are completely different – Francesca Siclari

The problem is, the more jumbled the imagery, the harder it is for us to grasp hold of. Dreams that have a clearer structure are much easier for us to remember, psychology professor and author Deidre Barrett said in a recent story on Gizmodo.

But there’s a chemical component at work which is crucial for making sure those dream images are retained: noradrenaline. Noradrenaline is a hormone that primes the body and mind for action, and our levels of it are naturally lower in deep sleep.

Francesca Siclari, a sleep research doctor at the Lausanne University Hospital, says there are clear definitions between our states of wake and sleep – and that is no accident. “It’s probably a good thing that the dream life and the waking life are completely different,” she says.

“I think if you remembered every detail like you can do in waking life, you would start to confuse things with what’s actually happening in your real life.”

(Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

Not being able to remember everything about our dreams is important, so that we don’t confuse them with reality (Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

She says that people suffering from sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, can find it difficult to tell the difference between their waking and sleeping lives, and this can leave them feeling confused and embarrassed. “There are also people who remember their dreams too well, and they actually start exporting those memories into their day.”

It is no accident that the dreams we remember the most come from certain periods in our sleep cycle, affected by the chemicals coursing through our sleeping bodies. “Normally we dream most vividly in REM sleep, which is when the levels of noradrenaline are low in the brain,” she says.

We may find ourselves dreaming right before we wake up – but our morning routines actually get in the way of remembering the imagery. Often we are startled out of our slumber by an alarm clock, which causes a spike in our noradrenaline levels – thus making it harder for us to hang onto our dreams.

“Someone who asks me the question of why they can’t remember their dreams, I say it’s because they fall asleep too fast, sleep too soundly and wake up with their alarm clock,” says Harvard Medical School sleep researcher Robert Stickgold. “And their response is usually, ‘How did you know that?’”

If you just fall fast asleep – the way we all wish we could – you’re not going to remember anything from that part of your sleep cycle – Robert Stickgold

Stickgold says that a lot of people remember their dreams from a sleep onset period, when the mind starts wandering and dreamlike imagery occurs as people drift in and out of sleep – a process called “hypnagogic dreaming”. Stickgold says he carried out a study some years ago where students in a lab were awoken shortly after they started entering this state. “Every last one of them remembered dreaming,” he says.

“This stage is the first five or 10 minutes after falling asleep. If you just fall fast asleep – the way we all wish we could – you’re not going to remember anything from that part of your sleep cycle.”

(Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

Often we are startled out of our slumber by an alarm clock, which makes it harder for us to remember our dreams (Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

So what if you actively want to remember your dreams? Obviously, each sleeper is different, but there are some general tips which might help you to hold on to your dreams.

“Dreams are incredibly fragile when we first wake up, and we don’t really have an answer for why that is,” says Stickgold. “If you’re the kind of person who leaps up out of bed and goes about their day, you’re not going to remember your dreams. When you sleep in on a Saturday or Sunday morning, that’s an excellent time to remember dreams.

“What I tell my students on my courses is, when you wake up, try to lie still – don’t even open your eyes. Try to ‘float’ and at the same time try to remember what was in your dream. What you’re doing is you’re reviewing dreams as you enter your waking state and you’ll remember them just like any other memory.”

There are even more surefire ways to remember dreams, Stickgold says. “I tell people to drink three big glasses of water before they go to bed. Not three glasses of beer, because alcohol in an REM suppressant, but water. You’ll wake up three or four times in the night and you’ll tend to wake up at the end of an REM cycle of sleep which is natural.”

And there is another piece of advice offered by some sleep researchers – that simply repeating to yourself as you drift towards sleep that you want to remember your dreams means you wake remembering them. Stickgold laughs. “It actually works. If you do that you really are going to remember more dreams, it’s like saying ‘There’s no place like home’. It really works.”

This piece contains original artwork by Emmanuel Lafont, an Argentinian-born visual artist currently working in Spain. He is represented by Yusto/Giner and by 6a Galeria D’art. His website is www.emmanuellafont.com.

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Aviation… Challenges, lamentation, strides

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From policy somersaults by successive ministers to undue interference in the activities of regulatory agencies and absence of a roadmap for development, the aviation sector performance between 1999- 2019 is a mixed bag, writes KELVIN OSA-OKUNBOR.

Intrigues. Crises. Controversies. Scandals. And a trajectory of unfulfilled dreams. Those are the best words to describe the last two decades of the aviation industry. The sector has been beset by a myriad of challenges ranging from poor regulatory regimes, rot in airport infrastructure, ageing workforce liquidated national airline,  collapsed private carriers, a spate of air crashes, diverted intervention funds and skewed concession agreements triggering industrial disharmony.

As Nigeria celebrates two decades of unbroken democratic rule come May 29, the aviation sector is yet to consolidate the gains of civilian rule. From failed promises to deliver a national carrier, disgruntled workforce, rising professional unemployment among pilots and aircraft engineers, obsolete airport and air navigation equipment, poorly designed airport upgrade/remodeling projects, abandoned cargo terminals, failed/ poorly capitalised private airlines, absence of aircraft repair centres and controversies  to concession airports , aviation as an industry  has featured prominently in the news.

Besides having the highest number of ministers appointed to superintend over the sector, the harvest of policy somersaults and  high turnout of chief executive officers of agencies, such as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA), Nigerian  Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), have contributed to the drift in the sector, which many experts continue to describe as a rolling stone that gathers no moss.

In the twenty  years under review the sector has been administered by several ministers, such as the late Olusegun Agagu, Mrs Kema Chikwe, Mallam Isa Yuguda, Late Prof. Borishade, Mr Femi Fani- Kayode, Mr Babatunde Omotoba,  Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, Felix Hassan Hyat; Mrs Fidelia Njeze,  Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah,Chief Samuel Ortom, Mr Osita Chidoka and Captain Hadi Sirika.

Airline sector

In the period under review, government liquidated the former national carrier; a decision many industry experts including Former President of Aviation Roundtable, Captain Dele Ore considered one of the worst decisions taken by any government.

Besides being the powerhouse of the sector, in terms of training of young pilots and aircraft engineers for the industry, the liquidation of Airways plunged the industry into a round of unemployment as its over 2,000 workers and pensioners were offloaded without their severance benefits. This ugly development threw the industry into a circus of industrial disharmony as the sector harvested series of protests and demonstrations, which claimed some lives as they pushed for the payment of their entitlements.

Between 2004, when the Nigerian Airways was officially wound up, the ghost of the liquidated former national carrier hunted the government till last year when the second tranche of over N22.5 billion was paid to the ex- Airways workers. The final batch of N22.5 billion is yet to be paid by the Buhari administration.

Speaking in an interview, Chairman Aviation Union Grand Alliance (AUGA), Comrade Lookman Animashaun, said the liquidation of the former national carrier remains the defining moment in the sector in the last two decades.

Animashaun said despite reservations about the shutting down of the carrier, the government had laid to rest the ghost of the airline by paying its former workers and pensioners their entitlements fifteen years later.

A spate of air crashes

The last two decades experts say remain a harrowing experience in the sector, as poor regulatory practices, poor safety culture, use of geriatric aircraft and alleged cutting of corners by airline operators culminated in a spate of air crashes.

Between 2000 and 2006 aircraft were falling off the skies. A BAC 1-11 aircraft belonging to EAS Airlines crashed in Kano, a few minutes after it took off from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.

In 2005,  the country recorded another crash involving Bellview Airlines in Lisa, in Ogun State, with all passenger killed in a Boeing 737 – 200 which took off a few minutes at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

The radar at the control tower of the Lagos Airport was said to epileptic at the time of the accident.

A  few months after, a Sosoliso Airlines aircraft crashed on approach to landing at the Port Harcourt Airport. The crashed was attributed to low-level wind shear.

A year later an ADC Airlines aircraft also crashed a few minutes after it took off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.

This, negative developments, which put a question mark of the safety status of Nigerian aviation forced the government to institute series of reforms, resulting in overhaul of regulatory framework for the sector as well as the ban on the use of some aircraft types and the appointment of Dr Harold Olusegun Demuren as Director General of NCAA, to drive the reforms.

The tenure of Demuren as helmsman of the regulatory body engendered drastic reforms in the sector resulting in Nigeria undergoing safety certification, and resultant attainment of United States Federal Aviation Administration US FAA Category One in 2009.

Speaking in an interview, former Secretary General of African Airlines Association ( AFRAA), Mr Nick Fadugba described the role of Demuren in the industry as a necessary intervention to restore public confidence about safety and integrity in civil aviation regulations.

Failed carrier/government failed intervention

In the period under review, the number of domestic carriers plummeted owing largely to inconsistent government policy and unfriendly operating environment.

Besides Nigeria Airways, which was liquidated, other carriers, including Albarka Air Services, Sososoliso Airlines, Fresh Air, Savannah Airlines; Freedom Air Services; Oriental Airlines; Okada Air, Air Mid West, Chanchangi Airlines, Virgin Nigeria Airways; SpaceWorld International Airlines; DASAB Airlines; Discovery Air, Afrijet Airlines, Capital Airlines, Associated Aviation, IRS Airlines;  Bellview Airlines; Falcon Air; Skyline Airlines and many others have ceased to operate.

This era recorded the highest number of carriers that failed compared to the number of carriers that have crisscrossed the Nigerian airspace.

A finance expert, Mohammed Ali Katari, said many carriers failed in Nigeria due to either poor funding; lack of corporate governance and owner-manager syndrome.

Attempt by the government a few years ago to bail some struggling carriers out of the woods through funds injection channelled through the banks did not yield the desired result.

Experts including the Executive Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Nogie  Meggison said the so-called intervention funds facilitated by the government was designed for the loaning banks to recover their capital and not for the day – to day running of the troubled carriers.

Existing Operators / Challenges

Despite the high attrition rate, a few carriers including Arik Air and AeroContractors are still in business under receivership by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). Once strong carriers bestriding the aviation scene, the two carriers are now struggling to have their share of available passenger traffic.

Other carriers still struggling in the sector include Medview Airlines; DANA Air; Overland Airways; AZMAN Air; Max Air and largest operator – Air Peace.

Speaking in an interview, Chairman, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema said Nigerian carriers should be commended for keeping the air transport running.

He said the fact that some operators have gabled their opportunity in the last two decades is not enough reasons to categorize operators are not doing the right thing.

Onyema said though aviation business is best with a myriad of challenges, the government needs to create an enabling environment to operators to survive.

One of the ways is to grant approvals for airport land for the building of aircraft maintenance hangars; granting of waivers on aircraft and spares as well protection of indigenous carriers through involvement in international aero politics for carriers designated on intercontinental routes.

Controversial concessions /agreements

In the last two decades, no matter has dominated the headlines as the furore generated by plans by the government to concession some international airports. Though aviation expert, Mr Chris Aligbe said it was the way to go, the government was yet to convince aviation unions and workers about the fidelity of the process that would lead to handing the critical air transport infrastructure to private entities.

National President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Ahmadu Illitrus said aviation workers are not comfortable with the way the government was handling issues of airport concession.

Experts said the controversies generated from the concession agreement government signed with Bi- Courtney Aviation Services Limited for the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two, Lagos remains a disincentive to other investors in the sector, as the tenure of the pact still remains vexed.

They also alluded to the concession FAAN signed with Meavis Nigeria Limited for the Automated Operations Management Systems (AOMS ) for the Lagos International Airport.

Airport remodelling

The period under review would not be complete without examining the scandal that erupted during the tenure of Princess Stella Adaeze as Minister of Aviation, where hundreds of millions of naira were allegedly diverted to purchase Bullet Proof Cars.

Then christened Oduahgate, the controversy propelled former President Goodluck Jonathan to sack her from the cabinet.

Many airports listed under the remodelling scheme have since been abandoned due to paucity of funds.

A few terminals hurriedly completed have been adjudged to be of poor quality.

A former Managing Director of FAAN, Mr George Uriesi recently alleged that the procurement process for the airport remodelling was skewed. He said the terminals were hurriedly put together without following internationally prescribed procedures.

But, many passengers said airports received a major facelift in the last two decades, though they expressed concerns over the quality of materials used for constructing the terminals.

Certification of Airports

In the last two decades government has paid premium attention to scaling up security procedures and processes at the airports to attain certification from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Towards achieving relevant agencies have ramped safety processes by training technical personnel and installing relevant equipment as well as procuring fire tenders at the airports to meet the prescribed standards.

But, industry critic and Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), said the government needs to scale up perimeter and security fencing of airports nationwide.

Besides stemming the tide of incessant stowaways, it will protect the airports against unlawful interference by unauthorized persons.

Though only Lagos and Abuja Airports have been certified, Managing Director, FAAN, Saleh Dunoma said other airports have been scheduled to go through the exercise.

State Airport/ Airlines

To underscore the relevance of airports as a catalyst of business and economic enablers, the country in the last two decades witnessed the construction of airports by some state governments including Delta, Jigawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Taraba, Gombe, Osun, Ogun, Anambra and Lagos.

The viability of some of these airports has remained a subject of intense debate among stakeholders.

To cap its efforts, Akwa Ibom State on its part besides, the aircraft repair maintenance centre co-located at its airport in Uyo, also established an airline christened Ibom Air.

Nigeria’s place in the global arena

In the last two decades, some Nigerian including Dr Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu notched higher in the global; aviation politics as he was elected Council President, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the apex global aviation regulator.

A former director, in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Aliu has recorded strides in the global body with his safety campaign that no country will be left behind in the drive to scale up aviation. Besides Aliu, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), was also appointed President, Africa, of the global airports’ regulator; Airports Council International (ACI).

Foreign carriers invasion

In the period under review, a locust of foreign carriers has invaded Nigeria, making it the most lucrative route for many European and the Middle East as well as African carriers.

This has further exposed the failure of many indigenous carriers to live up to their designation on some international routes. Domestic carriers that failed in this respect include now defunct: Bellview Airlines; Okada Air; Virgin Nigeria Airways/ Air Nigeria; ADC Airlines.

Existing carriers that failed to live up to the expectation include  Medview Airlines and  Arik Air.

Sirika’s verdict

Minister of State, Aviation Hadi Sirika said Nigeria did not perform badly its management of aviation in the last few years.

Sirika said though the All Progressive Congress (APC), administration inherited a lot of projects from the previous administration, it has delivered on many fronts.

He said of the government put in place a road map in 2015, which has translated to efforts to establish a national carrier; though the project suffered some setbacks.

Sirika said the government had taken head on the challenge of infrastructure deficit by rebuilding the Abuja Airport runway; reconstruction of Kaduna International Airport; certification of Lagos and Abuja Airports and other achievements.

He said: “This administration inherited 157 projects, out of which we have completed 130. The projects are different stages of completion. We initiated fourteen aviation policies installed facilities at some airports and other interventions we consider work in progress.

“This administration also facilitated the payment of the second tranche of severance benefits to former workers and pensioners of liquidated Nigeria Airways about fourteen years after they were abandoned.  Currently, many international airport terminals are under construction and will tear down the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos for a comprehensive facelift.  This is where we stand.”

Stakeholders’ assessment

Stakeholders say the industry is yet to optimise its full potentials considering the volume of funds injected into the sector to fix critical infrastructure deficit and other challenges besetting the industry.

Besides the road show organised by controversial former Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah to China, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries, the industry has less to show for such efforts.

Sirika, according to observers, appears long on rhetoric and short in action. He failed to deliver some cardinal projects – national carrier; airports concession, aircraft leasing company, Aviation University and Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Centre (MRO).

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CAN to Fed Govt: show more commitment to security

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CHRISTIAN Association of Nigeria (CAN) President Rev. Samson Ayokunle has urged the Federal Government to show more commitment to the protection of lives and property.

Revd. Ayokunle spoke at the seventh Ufuk dialogue, peace and award ceremony at the weekend in Abuja. He urged Christians and Muslims to embrace peace.

The CAN president, who was represented by the association’s Acting General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, said: “We have people who are sincere in this country to turn things around for the better.

“Government has all the equipment to secure lives and property in this country. Government should be much more serious and committed to security.”

Also speaking, Plateau State’s former deputy governor Mrs. Pauline Tallen, expressed concern at the level of insecurity in the country.

She urged security agencies to be fair and sincere in tackling the menace, calling on Muslims and Christians to always live at peace with one another.

Mrs. Tallen, who was a one-time Minister of State Science & Technology, prayed God to give President Muhammadu Buhari good health, long life and wisdom to move Nigeria forward.

She said: “God should give us the heart of love to love one another. Be you a Christian or Muslim, we are all children of God and we must live in peace with one another. I pray and my heart goes out to all those that have lost their loved ones through the various crisis in some states.

“I believe with this type of coexistence God will answer our prayers. And we should love one another. May God bless our leaders, Nigeria and grant President Buhari good health, long life and wisdom to move Nigeria forward and to the next level we are looking up to.

“My advice to the security agencies is for them to be fair and sincere in tackling the security situation in Nigeria because it is most unfortunate that innocent lives are taken.

“I wonder why anybody should fight for God. For us to take life in the name of religion is unacceptable. We need peace, because without peace there will be no development.”

Ufuk Dialogue President Kamil Kemanci said that the organisation will always stand by societal peace, love, respect and compassion in support of human dignity and the greater good by preserving the common values of humanity: values such as respect, tolerance, peace and mutual understanding.

Kemanci said: “Ufuk Dialogue also organises conferences with the theme: “Countering violent extremism through love and tolerance”, which brings people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds around.

“Today, we need dialogue and peace more than we need food and shelter. Dialogue and peaceful coexistence have always been and still remain a need, a must for us to have a healthy and more productive society.”

Some of the dignitaries conferred with awards were: President’s wife Aisha; Rev. Ayokunle; Fatwa Committee Chairman Sheikh Saleh Al-Hussaini; Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Chairman and Assembly of Muslims in Nigeria; Pastoral Agents Catholic Bishop’s Conference Chairman Rev. Augustine Tochukwu Ukwuoma; Fountain University Vice Chancellor Prof Amidu Sanni and Prof. Hycianth Eme Ichoku.

Others are: Veritas University Vice Chancellor Prof. Ibrahim Muhammad Ahmad; Mrs. Tallen; Festus Keyamo (SAN); Prof Alexandre Bamgbola and Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa.

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed sadness over the loss of lives and destruction of property in Zamfara, following banditry attacks on innocent citizens in the Nortwest State.

He spoke in Makkah, Saudi Arabia during Iftar dinner (a fast-breaking meal) in the company of Zamfara Governor Abdulaziz Yari and the Emir of Maradun, Alhaji Garba Tambari.

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, dropped the hint in a statement in Abuja yesterday.

Shehu quoted the President as expressing determination to “ensure that justice prevails and Nigerians find peace and prosperity wherever they live”.

The Emir of Maradun led prayers for the repose of victims of violent attacks in Zamfara and all over Nigeria and for God to help the country achieve total peace and stability.

Shehu further revealed that the President was accompanied to the event by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Justice Isa Dodo and some personal aides.

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12 Kaduna members-elect back Gbajabiamila/Wase for House leadership

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The camp of Femi Gbajabiamila and Idris Wase to head the Ninth House of Representatives got a boost yesterday with the declaration of support by 12 out of 16 members-elect from Kaduna State.

The members-elect also promised to secure the support of four Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members from the state for their Ninth House of Representatives leadership candidates.

A statement yesterday by the Tajudeen Abass, on behalf of the others, reads: “Members-elect of the Kaduna State Caucus in Ninth assembly of the House of Representatives on Saturday met in Kaduna to discuss, among other things, their commitment to the candidature of Femi Gbajabiamila/Ahmed Wase as Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

“Nine out of the 12 All Progressives Congress (APC) members-elect were in attendance; two were in Saudi Arabia for Umrah (lesser hajj) and one member-elect sent apology due to ill-health.

“The meeting was a huge success as all the members-elect not only reiterated their unflinching support for the project but also assisted in convincing the other four PDP members-elect from Kaduna State to come on board.

“The Kaduna State Caucus meeting was chaired by a fourth-term member of the House, Garba Datti Mohammad.”

Also, House of Representatives Deputy Whip Pally Iriase (Owan, Edo) has said House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila would win the June 10 speakership contest, even if the party had not anointed him as its choice candidate.

Iriase told reporters that Gbajabiamila’s experience and support base among his colleagues would have seen him through.

He said: “Let me say right away that the House is a self-regulating one. The constitution gives the House the ability and authority to, among themselves, chose or elect their presiding officers, first of whom is the Speaker.

“So, if that is the position of the Constitution, then, the House, historically, has always been able to determine who is the best among several people who will put interest forward.

“It’s not a crime for any elected member, particularly re-elected members, to want to give the speakership a shot. But whether or not he would win is for the entire membership of the House to decide.”

Iriase noted the APC going person-specific after zoning the speakership to the Southwest was unnecessary.

“From the outset, let me say that it was totally unnecessary. We’ve passed this road before. I don’t know why we don’t learn from history. But I pray that this time round, history does not repeat itself, and I don’t wish it does.”

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Dangote is world’s 11th greatest leader, says U.S. journal

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AFRICA’S richest man Aliko Dangote has been ranked 11th in the club of World’s 50 Greatest Leaders for this year.

The rating was announced by Fortune, a multinational business magazine based in New York City, United States. It focuses mainly on privately-run businesses and how their promoters have used them to impact their society positively.

The magazine, which had its maiden edition published in February 1930, said the world’s greatest leaders (both men and women) are transforming the world and inspiring others to do so in business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

It said: “These thinkers, speakers and doers make bold choices and take big risks – and move others to do the same.”

It was learnt that Fortune magazine was recognising and including Aliko Dangote in the annual ranking for the first time. Specifically, Dangote having popped up in the magazine’s radar earned nomination after being adjudged as having used business to acquire wealth and converting the wealth into impactful philanthropy through his Aliko Dangote Foundation.

The top 10 greatest men and women, according to Fortune are: Bill and Melinda Gates; Jacinda Ardem (Prime Minister, New Zealand); Robert Mueller (Special Counsel, Department of Justice); Pony Ma (Founder and CEO, Tencent); Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft); Greta Thunberg (Student and climate activist, Sweden); Margrethe Vestager (Commissioner for Competition, European Union); Anna Nimiriano (Editor-in-Chief, Juba Monitor); Jose Andres (Chef/Founder, World Central Kitchen); and Dough Mcmillon and Lisa Woods (CEO; Senior Director, Strategy & Design for U.S. Benefits, Walmart).

Dangote’s rating as one of the greatest business leaders has attracted comments by eminent persons around the world, who described him as worthy of the nomination going by his business acumen and philanthropic gestures.

Global business giant and founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gate, extolled the efforts of Dangote in making businesses play roles in provision of sound public health through his various interventions in health care issues, especially in the fight against malnutrition and routine polio.

Gates, who tops the list of World’s Greatest Leaders, said: “Aliko Dangote, through his leadership at the Aliko Dangote Foundation, is a key partner in the Polio eradication effort, strengthening routine immunisation and fighting malnutrition in Nigeria and across Africa. Aliko bridges the gap between private business and public health in a unique way and our shared belief that Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive drives our partnership.”

Renowned activist and co-founder of ONE, Paul David Hewson (popularly called Mr. Bono), said he was not surprised at Dangote’s feat globally, describing his vision “as big as the African continent”.

Bono, a global campaigner on taking action to end extreme poverty, especially in Africa said: “Aliko has a vision just the size of his continent, but with humility of somebody who has just started his first job. It’s no surprise to me that Fortune would recognise his leadership because we have seen first-hand, through his service on ONE’s Board, the benefits of his wise counsel and grace.”

Also, economic analyst Bismark Rewane, stated: “Aliko remains understated but very potent and Africa’s most successful and decorated entrepreneur. He is a global financial and managerial behemoth.”

Dangote as Africa’s richest, with a networth of $16.4 billion according to Bloomberg, and four publicly traded companies under the umbrella of his Dangote Industries now account for about a third of the value of the Nigerian stock exchange.

That wealth is based on a big bet on Nigeria’s economic independence: Dangote’s peers give him credit for helping the country become self-sufficient in the sectors in which his companies compete (cement, agriculture and mining)

The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) is the Philanthropic endeavor of the business mogul. The main objective of the Foundation is to reduce the number of lives lost to malnutrition and disease. The Foundation is poised to combat Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children, as the core of its programming. It has also resolved to use its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of poverty.

Dangote was last year ranked among 75 most powerful persons on the planet. He was rated ahead of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

He has been named among most powerful persons in the world for the past five consecutive years.  According to the Forbe’s 2018 ranking of the World Powerful people, Dangote ranked among world leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump – all of whom were ranked first, second and third respectively.

He was the only Nigerian on the list and one of the only two Africans who made the list with the other being the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was ranked 45th most powerful.

He was named among the 100 most influential personalities in the world in 2018 byTime Magazine, a leading business broadcast organisation. The CNBC had earlier in same year ranked Dangote as one of the 25 people that have had most profound impact on business and finance worldwide.

He was rated the most influential African by Jeune Afrique in their classification of the most influential 50 Africans in 2018, and was also named the 6th most charitable person in the world in the same year according to Richtopia, a United Kingdom-based digital platform. He is, in addition, the richest African, according to Forbes.

Dangote stepped up his humanitarian activities recently spending billions of to build hospitals and critical hospital equipment, the lack of which has promoted medical tourism among the few privileged.

He recently donated a N1.2 billion Business School complex to the Bayero University in Kano and another one for the University of Ibadan Business School. Last month, he donated 10 blocks of hall of students’ hostel with capacity for 2,160 beds to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State

Dangote has, through the Foundation been disbursing N10 billion to vulnerable women across the 774 local governments in the country.

Dangote made a donation of $2 million to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to help Pakistani nationals devastated by floods in the year 2010.

He was made the chairperson of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief, which raised in excess of N11.35 billion, of which Dangote himself contributed N2.5 billion, an amount higher than the entire contribution from the 36 state governors in Nigeria.

The Foundation has spent over N7 billion in the troubled Northeast for the reintegration of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

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Let’s go dancing with Dalung

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Sport and Youth Development Minister Solomon Dalung (left), seen by many as a stranger on the sports turf, is playing the tough guy, leading a cultural festival dance in Jos. “If I can’t be a champion in sports, I can win big on my local arena,” he seems to be telling his numerous critics, who may not be eager to award him a passmark in sports, citing his many gaffes.

Here is Dalung  with the cultural dancers during the NzemBerom cultural festival in Jos…at the weekend

PHOTO: NAN

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Alleged Islamisation: Lamido warns Obasanjo against turning into bigot

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A former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido yesterday warned ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo against turning himself into a bigot.

He said Obasanjo’s comments at a church on alleged Fulanisation and Islamisation of Nigeria were intolerable.

Lamido advised Obasanjo to retain his national outlook instead of fanning the embers of religious divide.

But a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode said Obasanjo was only being courageous in telling the truth.

Lamido expressed his views in a statement by his New Media aide, Masur Ahmed.

The statement said: “Speaking about ‘Fulanisation and Islamisation at St. Paul Cathedral Church’ is very much unlike you, sir!

“If it were said at a non-religious venue to a non-religious audience, may be it might have been more tolerable.

“Please, sir, don’t let your disappointment with sitting Presidents turn you into a bigot. You must not abandon the national stage.

“The cracks along the various divides in our national cohesion are already turning into huge ‘gorges’”

In a counter-statement, Fani-Kayode said Obasanjo was just being courageous.

He said the former President had done more for the core North, Lamido’s Fulani tribe, and Nigeria’s unity than any other ex-President or Head of State in the nation’s history. The former minister said posterity would be kind to Obasanjo for speaking the bitter truth.

Fani-Kayode said: “I hear one or two people like Sule Lamido are not too happy with what Obasanjo said and have called him (names) out for saying it. That is sad and unfortunate because Obasanjo has done more for the core North, Lamido’s Fulani tribe, and Nigerian unity, than any other former President or Head of State in our history.

“He also fought in a civil war to keep the country together. For anybody from the core North to call him names for speaking the truth and baring his mind over what is unfolding in Nigeria today tells you how blinded by power, insensitive and callous some of these people are.

“It is only those that subscribe to the Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda that will criticise or oppose Obasanjo’s observation and describe him as ‘a bigot’ for making them.

“What Obasanjo said was timely and necessary and millions are commending him for it. He spoke the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

The former minister alleged that Nigeria was driven to this stage because the world refused to listen to early warnings.

He added: “President Obasanjo remains the only politically active southern and Middle Belt leader that understands what is really going on, the grave danger that we are in and what lies ahead. He is deeply courageous and his latest contribution that there is an agenda to Fulanise West Africa and Islamise Africa says it all.

“Obasanjo needs say no more. History and posterity will be kind to him for speaking the bitter truth and saying what almost every other southern and Middle Belt politician and leader knows to be true but is too timid and too scared to say publicly.

“With his latest contribution, he has vindicated yours truly and many others. I saw this coming in late 2013 and I told the world. Nnamdi Kanu saw it coming in 2014 and he told the world. Asari Dokubo saw it in 2015 and he told the world.

“Afenifere, OPC, YOLICOM, PANDEM, MEND, the Middle Belt Forum, the Niger Delta Avengers, IPOB, MASSOB and Ohanaeze Ndigbo saw it in 2017 and they told the world. The Christian Elders Forum, CAN and the Church saw it in 2018 and they told the world.

“Sadly, the world refused to listen, left us on our own and, instead of rising to the occasion and confronting the evil, Nigerians went on bended knee to the powers that be and acted as if they were not saddled with a major problem that was bound to eventually consume them all. Now, they know better, even though most of them are still in denial.

“Now, they must live with the consequences of their indifference, ignorance, cowardice and stoicism. What a pity!”

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I never thought my passion would bring me this far – Actress Ini Edo

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Delectable Nollywood Actress, Ini Edo is giving glory to the Almighty God on how far she has come in her acting career.

Edo says she was one who loved to act when she was quite younger, and never evisaged that her passion will bring her this far.

“Sober reflection of how far God has brought me…I was just a young girl who loved to act, never envisaged my passion would bring me this far.. the journey,the trials, failures,mistakes, tribulations gave me the consistency and the staying power… (still becoming)….

Allow yourself grow through the process,instant success is not sustainable.. Follow your passion and not ‘THE TREND” in choosing a career…Be patient and be teachable, keep your head down and allow your work speak for you because ”

Pride goeth before a fall”.. Above all,I Pray for the understanding and wisdom to manage that which is given to us as the ultimate gift… #thecat#themovie Muna obekwe of blessed memories was always a delight working with him and of course my big bro @Jim.iyke who always enjoyed bullying me till date… well now am a grown woman so… Have a blessed Sunday yall.”

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Big Brother Naija: What to Expect From Contestants At This Year’s Show.

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The 2019 Big Brother Naija Show is just a few weeks away and we are excited! Although, the exact date has not yet been confirmed, however organizers of the show stated that it will air this June.

For those of you new to big brother, here’s a rundown.

A group of people all live under the same roof for 3 months in a house with multiple HD cameras and microphones recording their every move all day. Each week, the housemates compete to vote out one of their own, until the last remaining player claims a whopping prize.

Last year, the show tagged ‘Double Wahala’ had housemates with different abilities who proved that there is more to them than just their pretty faces.

Well this year, the bar has been raised and our expectations are at its peak. Here’s a list of what we expect from the contestants.

1. Realness: This should be a given quality. I mean you will be spending 90 days in the house, how long can you hide who you really are? Best be real and rip out the band aid sooner than later and let people accept you for who you are.

2. Fun: As you all know, Saturday night parties are usually lit and we expect some fun housemates this year. Last year, the show had Alex and Tobi who people referred to as the lives of the party as they were the most talked about dancers in the house. So please get your party shoes on!

3. Fashion Sense: At the end of the day, wouldn’t you like to be remembered in a certain way during and after the show? I mean we are not saying that you should be a style icon but please, come with a sense of style and originality. Be yourself!

4. Diction: Need we say this? contestants should please speak proper English or better yet Pidgin English. Let’s not get the two twisted.

5. Talent: Past BBNaija housemates were recognized for their individuality and talent. Housemates like Bisola Aiyeola was known for her music and acting talent, Miyonse who is now a known Chef are the best examples of how far talent can take you in the house. So, yes, talent does count.

6. Be Smart: The most important quality of a BBNaija contestant is being smart – the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness and learning is extremely important especially during the various BBNaija tasks.

Also, it comes to play when differentiating between friend, foe and lover in the house. In fact, being smart may be the most important point on our list.

So there you have it! The six things we expect from contestants at this year’s Big Brother Naija Show. Do you agree with the list?

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Nigerian comedian, Senator celebrates 7th wedding anniversary with lovely new photos

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Popular Nigerian comedian, Senator and his wife Kemen Njoku are celebrating their 7th wedding anniversary today.

His wife took to her page to share her undying love for him as she wrote,

‘Loved you then, love you still. May the good Lord perfect everything that concerns us. Amen It’s been 7years baby! Happy wedding anniversary to us. Love you munchos’

While Senator wrote,

‘Happy Anniversary to my Gee. 7yrs on this journey na God. Thanks for everything Dearie. God bless you immensely. Love you’.

Checkout their lovely photos below,

Senator celebrates 7th wedding anniversary

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‘Cannabis cultivation is not legal in Ondo State yet’ – Governor Akeredolu explains

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The Ondo State Government has said it is not yet legal to cultivate cannabis, popularly known as Indian hemp, in the state.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was in Thailand last week in company with the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Muhammad Abdallah, for a programme tagged, ‘Medicinal Cannabis Extract Development’, said the state government would aim to take advantage of the commercial and medicinal value of the plant to create jobs for the youth.

The governor however came under attack since his comments and now he’s warned that cannabis cultivation is yet to be legalised. Speaking through the Commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi, the governor said the state government was in the process of making it legal.

He said ;

“We are still at the elementary stage of this matter. Before we legalise cannabis growing in this state, it has to pass through certain procedures and we have begun the procedures. The assistance we seek from the Federal Government is the collaboration we already have with the NDLEA, which is an agency of the government. Since we are dealing with the NDLEA, we are dealing with the Federal Government.”

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Ghanaians are obsessed with sex – Actress Lydia Forson

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For, darky, beautiful and curvy actress, Lydia Forson her country people are too addicted to getting laid and it’s becoming a societal menace.

Lydia Forson who wondered why stories about sex spread like wildfire in Ghana while a humanitarian gesture done by individuals and organizations do not get the needed reach, has concluded that Ghanaians are obsessed with sex.

According to the Ghanaian actress, her countrymen are quick to condemn people who openly talk about sex but they are obsessed with it.

Lydia Forson who stated that Ghanaians are overly obsessed with issues of sex, said; “Ghanaians are OBSESSED with sex. They’ll act shocked, disgusted and quote scripture to anyone who talks openly about it.

“But there’s a reason why a story with a sexual reference will spread faster than one about raising money to build a school”.

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Unknown Soldiers humiliate veteran musician, Baba Fryo, in Lagos

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Popular Veteran Nigerian musician, Friday Igwe, popularly known as “Baba Fryo” has photos of what some unknown soldiers did to his face.

Apparently, he was allegedly assaulted by the said unknown soldiers in Lagos State.

“I was humiliated by unknown soldiers I tried forced them to the barrack but a female soldier interfered and allowed them to escape. The case is under investigation. Thanks to Ojo Army barrack who took the case on their shoulder I pray they will surely be caught and brought to book.”, he shared.

Baba Fryo who is known for his for releasing street songs like Dem go dey pose in the late 90s.

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Naira Marley to be docked today

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By Anita Eboigbe

Barring any last minute change, the trial of Nigerian musician, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, for alleged credit card fraud will begin at a Lagos high court today.

He will be arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has slammed an 11-count charge against him.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the musician effectively risks seven years in jail if found guilty in accordance with Section 33 (2) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015.

The charge with suit number FHC/L/178C/19 was filed before a Lagos State High Court last Wednesday.

Some of the credit cards, according to the EFCC, bore the names- Nicole Louise Malyon, and Timea Fedorne Tatar.

The alleged crimes were in contravention of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the Cyber Crimes Act.

The charge read in part, “That you, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 11th day of December 2018, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to use Access card 42658840359191132 issued to persons other than you in a bid to obtain gain and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(1)(b) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 33(2) of the Same Act.

“That you, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 10th day of May 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud possessed counterfeit card 4921819410257431 issued to Timea FedorneTatar and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 33(9) of Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015.”

The singer, who was detained on May 10, is controversial for repeatedly praising internet fraudsters, popularly called Yahoo boys, in his songs and on social media.

NAN reports that Naira Marley was arrested alongside his friend and fellow musician, Zlatan Ibile who was released on Wednesday.

Tiamiu Kayode, Adewunmi Moses and Abubakar Musa, his crew boys, have also been released.

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Kidnappers kill Igbinedion varsity lecturer Izevbekhai

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Igbaugba Ehigimetor/Benin

Edo Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed DanMallam, on Sunday confirmed the killing of Kelvin Izevbekhai, a lecturer with the Igbinedion University, Okada, near Benin, by suspected kidnappers.

DanMallam said Izevbekhai was killed in an attempted escape bid when the victims were being marched into the forest by the kidnappers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the gunmen were said to be operating near Okada junction along the Benin-Lagos highway.

It was learnt that the gunmen abducted Izevbekhai and other passengers in the bus they were travelling in.

“The driver of the minibus was said to have fled into the bush along with four other passengers.

“Unfortunately, one of the passengers who tried to escape during the abduction was killed by the gunmen.

“The police went after the kidnappers in the bush and succeeded in rescuing the victims.”

He said the police were working on a new strategy which entails taking the war to the kidnappers’ den in the jungle, adding that it is the best way to tackle the scourge.

Spokesman for the university, Mr Jide Ilugbo, who confirmed the killing described it as “barbaric.”

İlugbo said late Izevbekhai was a First Class graduate and was employed in the university in 2016.

He said it was now dangerous to travel on the Benin-Lagos highway due to frequent attacks by armed robbers and kidnappers.

The official said it was unfortunate he ran into hoodlums, saying that the trailer parked before Okada junction is a hideout for criminals.

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Google cuts ties with Huawei

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US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said Sunday it was beginning to cut ties with China’s Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.

In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies said to threaten American national security.

The measure targets Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant in Washington’s sights that is listed by the Commerce Department among firms with which American companies can only engage in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.

The ban includes technology sharing.

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson told AFP.

The move could have dramatic implications since Google, like all tech companies, must collaborate with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.

Google will have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available — meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, a source close to the matter told AFP.

Huawei will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary apps and services, such as the Gmail email service.

Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology but remains dependent on foreign suppliers.

It buys about $67 billion worth of components each year, including about $11 billion from US suppliers, according to The Nikkei business daily.

Huawei is the target of an intense campaign by Washington, which has been trying to persuade allies not to allow China a role in building next-generation 5G mobile networks.

US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei.

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Saturday that “We have not done anything which violates the law,” adding the US measures would have a limited impact.

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Billionaire Smith stuns Morehouse College graduates, to pay off their loans

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An African-American billionaire technology investor, Robert F.Smith stunned the entire graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta when he pledged to pay off their student loans.

The Associated Press estimated the loans to be up to $40 million.

Smith, this year’s commencement speaker, made the announcement while addressing nearly 400 graduating seniors of the all-male historically black college.

On Twitter, he encapsulated the reasoning for his gesture: “More than the money we make, the awards, or recognition, or titles we earn, each of us will be measured by how much we contribute to the success of the people around us,” he wrote.

Smith is the Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.

Robert F. Smith(left) laughs with David Thomas(c) and Angela Bassett, an actress at the Morehouse College graduation on Sunday. Photo courtesy AP

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” the investor and philanthropist told graduates in his morning address. “This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

The announcement immediately drew stunned looks from faculty and students alike. Then the graduates broke into the biggest cheers of the morning and stood up, applauding. Morehouse said it is the single largest gift to the college.

“More than the money we make, the awards, or recognition, or titles we earn, each of us will be measured by how much we contribute to the success of the people around us,” he wrote.

Though college officials could not provide an estimate of the exact amount owed by the current graduating class, students graduate with an average debt of $30,000 to $40,000, said Terrance L. Dixon, vice president of enrolment management.

Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the ceremony, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.

Smith said he expected the recipients to “pay it forward” and said he hoped that “every class has the same opportunity going forward.”

“Because we are enough to take care of our own community,” Smith said. “We are enough to ensure that we have all the opportunities of the American dream. And we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”

In the weeks before graduating from Morehouse on Sunday, 22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchom drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans — 25 years at half his monthly salary, per his calculations.

In an instant, that number vanished. Mitchom, sitting in the crowd, wept.

“I can delete that spreadsheet,” he said in an interview after the commencement. “I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off.”

His mother, Tina Mitchom, was also shocked. Eight family members, including Mitchom’s 76-year-old grandmother, took turns over four years co-signing on the loans that got him across the finish line.

“It takes a village,” she said. “It now means he can start paying it forward and start closing this gap a lot sooner, giving back to the college and thinking about a succession plan” for his younger siblings.

Morehouse College president David A. Thomas said the gift would have a profound effect on the students’ futures.

“Many of my students are interested in going into teaching, for example, but leave with an amount of student debt that makes that untenable,” Thomas said in an interview. “In some ways, it was a liberation gift for these young men that just opened up their choices.”

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Kenya shops for $4.2b for agriculture, infrastructure

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Kenya has reported that it needed more than $4.2 billion to resuscitate agricultural sector and finance infrastructure projects.

The country requires a staggering $2.2 billion to resuscitate the agricultural sector from its current decay and ensure the country becomes a key regional food producer.

It needed another $2 billion to finance infrastructure projects, such as roads in areas with high agricultural potential to ensure that produce reached markets.

The enormous financial requirements form the bedrock of a new agricultural sector revival master plan that Kenya has developed.

“The strategy is based on the belief that the food security requires a vibrant, commercial and modern agricultural sector that supports Kenya’s economic development sustainably and its commitments to regional and global growth,” says the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy.

Kenya has a new agricultural master plan even as numerous other blueprints are gathering dust in government shelves while the ambitious Galana-Kulalu irrigation project, intended to be a model in irrigation-drive agriculture has collapsed after gulping about $100 million.

According to the Economic Survey 2018, Kenya’s food import bill declined in 2018 to $1.7 billion due to favourable weather conditions from a record high of $2.3 billion in 2017.

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Nadal blows away Djokovic for Italian Open title

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Rafael Nadal proved that he would still be the man to beat when the French Open begins later this month after he humbled Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the Italian Open final on Sunday to win a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 title.

The Spaniard, who had shared the record of 33 Masters titles with the Serbian world number one, warmed up for the defence of his Roland Garros crown by securing his ninth Rome title.

Nadal got off to a flying start by whitewashing Djokovic in the opening set. It was the first time there has been a 6-0 set during a meeting between the two rivals.

Djokovic took the second by breaking Nadal’s serve for the first time while leading 5-4, but the second seed responded in style by storming through the decisive set.

When Nadal’s previous three claycourt tournaments had ended in semi-final defeats, it no doubt gave his rivals hope that his long reign at Roland Garros could be coming to an end this year.

However, the way he demolished the world’s top ranked player in the opening and third sets on Sunday would have once again struck fear into any of those challengers who had been harbouring hopes of lifting the Musketeers’ Cup on June 9.

The Spaniard heads into Roland Garros in top form after seeing his serve broken just twice en route to claiming his first title of 2019 in his 50th Masters final.

“For me it’s always an honour to be here, I still remember my first time here in 2005,” said Nadal, who will be chasing a record extending 12th French Open title when the claycourt major begins on May 26.

“To have the chance to come back and win this trophy after so many years means everything. It wasn’t an easy week for me.”

The 32-year-old left Djokovic in a daze as he stormed through the opening set in 39 blistering minutes.

The top seed fought back in the second as he saved four break points before winning the decisive game on Nadal’s serve to take the set 6-4.

But the Serb, who had survived three-set battles against Argentines Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman to reach the final, faded in the final set as he dropped his opening service game before Nadal surged clear.

“I’m really glad that I managed to get into the third set, considering the first set where I was blown away from the court,” Djokovic said.

“Obviously third set was not much different from the first. I was just running out of fuel a little bit today. Just kind of missed that half a step, especially on the backhand side.

“He used it very well. He’s been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week. He was just too strong today.”

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Brooks Koepka fends off Johnson for second PGA Championship

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Brooks Koepka held off a late charge from Dustin Johnson to capture his second consecutive PGA Championship on Sunday, completing a wire-to-wire victory for his fourth major title in nerve-wracking fashion.

A near-collapse saw Koepka’s record seven-stroke lead reduced to a single shot, but he withstood making four bogeys in a row on the back nine and another at 17 for an unexpectedly narrow triumph.

“This is probably the most satisfied I’ve been with all the majors,” said Koepka. “This one’s definitely at the top of the list of how emotionally and how mentally spent I am.”

Koepka fired a four-over par 74 final round at windy Bethpage Black to finish 72 holes on eight-under 272 and defeat Johnson by two strokes, replacing him as world number one as a result.

“I’m just glad we don’t have any more holes to play,” Koepka said. “That was a stressful round of golf.”

Bogeys by Johnson at 16 and 17 made the difference but Koepka made bogey at the par-3 17th, then escaped sand and weeds off the 18th tee by finding the fairway and green then sinking a six-foot putt for the victory.

“DJ played a hell of a round to come back and to grind it out,” Koepka said. “He did a great job putting pressure on me, making me play some solid golf down the stretch.”

Koepka: fires a fist pump at the 18th hole

The usually poker-faced Koepka admitted the moment got to him on the final hole, where he fired a fist pump after his winning putt.

“That was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life there on 18,” Koepka said.

Koepka, who seeks his third US Open win in a row next month at Pebble Beach, became the first man to own back-to-back titles at two majors simultaneously by capturing the Wanamaker Trophy and the $1.98 million (1.77 million euro) top prize.

“This is unbelievable,” Koepka said. “I don’t know if I even dreamed this. It’s amazing.”

The 29-year-old American became the PGA’s fifth wire-to-wire winner after Hal Sutton in 1983, Ray Floyd in 1982, Jack Nicklaus in 1971 and Bobby Nichols in 1964.

Koepka joined Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back stroke-play winners of the PGA, Woods having done it in 2006-07 as well as 1999-2000.

Koepka seized a tournament-record lead of seven strokes after 54 holes on 12-under par 198.

No man has led a major by so much so late and lost. But Koepka came close.

Johnson, who shot 69, shrank the margin to four shots at the turn and just one with four holes to play, only for Koepka to outlast his US compatriot.

Johnson, seeking his second major title after the 2016 US Open, was hoping to match the best final-round win comeback in PGA history, John Mahaffey’s seven-shot rally in 1978.

Instead, he completed a career “runner-up” Grand Slam, having placed second at the 2011 British Open, 2015 US Open and last month’s Masters.

“I’m pleased with the way I played. I gave myself a chance,” Johnson said.

“The golf course played extremely difficult. The wind was really blowing. I played really well.”

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