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11 Years Of Unbroken Civil Rule: Gains, Pains, Expectations

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Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) conferring with Mrs Helen David Mark, wife of the Senate President at the opening ceremony of the first Commonwealth of Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference of West African Sub-region held in the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, Port Harcourt.

Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) conferring with Mrs Helen David Mark, wife of the Senate President at the opening ceremony of the first Commonwealth of Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference of West African Sub-region held in the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, Port Harcourt.

Nigeria has had a long, tortuous and chequered history of experimentation with democracy, but never quite have it right.

On May 29, 1999, Nigeria transited from military autocracy and absolutism to democracy. Before then, the country had been under firm military rule for all but twelve years since independence in 1960.

Essentially, the militarisation of the Nigeria society and the supplanting of constitutional provisions by decrees of the successive ruling military juntas engendered a culture of lawlessness and fundamental abuses of the citizenry rights.

Nigerians were denied their basic political rights of voting for their preferred leaders under military rule. The economic and social rights of the people were seriously trampled upon by successive military rule through gross mismanagement and looting of state resources without any element of accountability.

However, the military regime of General Abubakar Abdusalami ushered democracy in Nigeria in 1999.

The administration of General Abubakar Abdusalami in preparation for committed and sincere handing over of power established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for local government councils, state legislatures and governors, the National Assembly and President.

INEC successfully held these elections on December 5, 1998, January 9, 1999, February 20, and February 27, 1999 respectively.

These elections were indications of the military sincerity of handing over power to democratically elected leaders and return to civil rule.

Nevertheless, for the local government councils election, a total of nine parties were granted provisional registration with three fulfilling the requirements to contest the subsequent elections.

These parties were the Peoples Democratic Party the All Peoples Party (APP) and the predominantly South West Alliance for Democracy (AD). General Olusegun Obasanjo became the Presidential candidate of the PDP and Chief Olu Falae became the joint candidate of APP/AD Alliance.

The PDP candidate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was subsequently elected and sworn in on May 29, 1999 thus changing the traditional October 1st handing over date in Nigeria.

The departing military authority under the Provisional Ruling Council promulgated a new constitution based largely on the suspended 1979 constitution before the May 29, 1999 inauguration of the new civilian rule.

But the new President took over a country that faced many problems, such as, economic stagnation, collapsed infrastructure, deterioration of most of its democratic institutions and institutionalised corruption coupled with culture of impunity and executive reckless.

Therefore, pertinent questions begging for answer are what have been the gains, losses, hopes and expectations of Nigerians and the international community over these past eleven years of unbroken civil rule in Nigeria?

According to retired Major Ollorowi Ollorowi, Director General of Nigeria Industrial Security Institute, one of the gains of this civil rule was the prompt retirement of political soldiers from the Armed Forces by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Major Ollorowi Ollorowi added that he commended the President for such bold move and step taken then “I personally commended General Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President for his bold and courageous step to retire hundreds of military officers who held political positions”.

He further stressed that this move and initiative strengthened Nigeria’s democracy and civil rule in 1999.

Also supporting the fact that Nigeria has gained much under civil rule from 1999 till date, Barrister Naazigha-Lee State chairman, Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Rivers State emphasised that “the coming of democratic governance in 1999 actually restored the confidence of Nigerians in participatory democratic governance”,

He stressed that the initial decisions of the government of President Obasanjo to establish the Justice Oputa panel to investigate human rights violations, rescinded a number of questionable licences and contracts of the previous military regimes, and moved to recover millions of dollars in funds secreted in overseas accounts were undertaken to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the civilian rule and promote image of the country in the international community.

It is not gainsaying that the eleven years of unbroken democracy has safeguarded and sustained the consolidation of human rights in Nigeria.

According to the State Chairman, CDHR, Nigeria was at a crossroad with a greater challenge of how to guarantee justice, human dignity and civil liberties before the advent of democratic governance in 1999.

He stated that Nigeria returned to the community of nations with elected government, ensured significant progress to be made in the area of freedom and liberties.

According to Dr. Ishmael Guarama, senior lecturer, Faculty of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt, the eleven years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria has made it possible for a more open society in which people no longer live in fear of the arbitrariness and intimidation.

The senior lecturer stressed that Nigeria remain committed to the idea of one corporate identity despite contending proposals for a new paradigm of governance and relationship between the federating tiers of government.

Dr. Ishmael further added that Nigerians have seen a marked improvement in human rights and democratic practice during this unbroken civil rule. “Today the Nigeria press enjoys greater freedom than under previous military rule.

As part of the gains of democracy during this period the usual conflicts between the Executive and legislative arms of government over major appropriation allocation and other proposed legislations have tended to strengthen Nigeria’s demo

mocracy.

A noticeable gain has been that of growing visibility of state governors and the inherent friction between the Federal Government and the various state Governments over resource allocation and excess crude account funds, all meant for healthy democratic country.

Also, one of the gains of the civil rule from 1999 has been the introduction of GSM communication by the Obasanjo’s administration. Prior to that  period, few Nigerians have access to cellular phones but today, millions of Nigerians have afforded GSM handsets to ease communication. Today, the telecommunication sector is been dominated by MTN, GLO, Zain, and Etisalat, making NITEL a moribund parastatal. 

However with the advent of democracy in 1999 Nigeria has recorded some major losses in the areas of lives and properties through communal crises, and religious mayhem.

In November 1999, the Nigerian Army destroyed the town of Odi Bayelsa State and killed scores of civilians in retaliation for the murder of 12 policemen by a local gang.

In the North West State of Kaduna in February 2000, over 1.000 people died in rioting over the introduction of criminal Sharia law in the State.

In Jos, the flash point of inter-religious rioting, hundred had been killed and thousands displaced in communal violence.

In 2002 in Zaki Biam, Benue State thousands were killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed by rampaging soldiers over soldiers killed by the local gangsters.

One of the critical concern to Nigerians has been billions of naira lost through corruption. Yet no end in sight to such unwanted state plunder of resources.

However, government’s response to nip this trend of communal violence in the bud was the setting up of the National Security Commission to address this issue of re-curring communal violence.

Hopes And Expectations

Nigeria has successfully transited from one civilian government to another. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo successfully served his eight years period of two terms and successfully handed over to the late President Musa Yar’Adua on May 29, 2007.

The late President introduced his Seven Point Agenda as a conceptualised developmental programme for Nigerians. The Seven Point Agenda include Power, Electoral Reforms, Agriculture, Niger Delta, Health Sector Reform, Employment and Education.

According to a political economist and retired Permanent Secretary, Chief Obo-Ngofa, the power and energy crisis in Nigeria needs to be addressed squarely and urgently to arrest the imminent collapse of the economy.

According to him, the energy crisis remains a national embarrassment to the Nigerian Government. He appealed to the President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to seriously tackle the Power crisis to improve the comatose industrial sector.

The Niger Delta crisis actually affected foreign investment arising from the agitations for a meaningful development in the region. Luckily enough, the late President Musa Yar’Adua as part of his Seven-Point Agenda of addressing the sorry state of infrastructure and economic empowerment of the people of the region, granted Amnesty to the men who took to the creeks to drive home the pitiable situation of the underdevelopment in the region.

On the issue of Electoral Reforms, the Government had set up the Justice Muhammed Uwais Committee on the Electoral Reforms. The committee has since submitted its report to government waiting full implementation for credible elections in 2011.

However, it is the hope and expectation of Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan will implement the recommendations of the Justice Uwais report through the appointment of unbias National Chairman for the INEC with significant re-organisation of the Electoral body for credible and acceptable elections in 2011 and beyond.

However, a major monster that has eaten deep into the body fabrics of Nigeria’s society is the high level of state institutionalised corruption.

Despite the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to checkmate corruption and other related economic crimes, corruption has remained  the bane of Nigeria’s development.

According to Barrister Jas Awanen government needs to strengthen the anti corruption agencies like the ICPC and EFCC to function properly with less relative supervision.

Currently, Nigeria has over 53 political parties, an indication that Democracy in Nigeria is in progress and Nigerians are happy with participatory democracy that allow them to freely chose and elect their leaders.

However, according to Mr. Godknows Asoka, a public affairs analyst, the coming of civil rule in Nigeria from 1999 has strengthened the institution of the Judiciary, adding that under Military rule, our judiciary was very docile but now very proactive to right the wrong of injustice.

He emphasised that civil rule has created democratic consciousness in Nigerians and brought governance closer to the grassroots.

There appears to be a consensus opinion on the return to civil rule that democracy remains the best form of Government in any society.

A foremost member of the House of Representatives and chairman, Committee on Legislature Complaince, Hon. Daemi Kunaiyi-Akpanah believes that the nation has fared well although not without pains and sacrifices.

He told The Tide in his office in Abuja that the learning process began eleven years ago, although the nation had not reached the destination point. “Well I think democracy is working in Nigeria and there is progress. I don’t believe it’s the destination (yet for Nigeria): It is an ongoing journey.”

Mr. Kunaiyi-Akpanah contended that “the only thing that makes our democratic government  work is the prevalence of the rule of law and freedom of speech and religion.

The Coordinator of Egbeda Progressive Forum, Endurance Akpeli Esq, who spake with The Weekend Tide, in Port Harcourt, Thursday hailed the charisma of President Jonathan’s administration and urged him to continue his good work.

Mr. Akpelu enjoined all to support Jonathan’s administration and noted that it was divinely inspired.

He asserted that the incumbent president had done a lot to justify his election in 2011 and described Jonathan as the David of our time.

The coordinator remarked that the president came into power through a divine arrangement and warned that nobody should alter the arrangement.

Also speaking, Mr John Worah, an officer with the Nigeria police, said there was remarkable improvement in the provision of democratic dividends. He remarked that as a Niger Delta man, Jonathan had maintained stable oil price since he assumed office.

He said the fuel scarcity that marked previous administrations in the country had gone with those past administrations.

The police officer noted that the issue of where Jonathan came from should not be primary focus of Nigerians and noted that what should concern the people now was what he had to offer.

“From all indications, I am convinced that Jonathan will be bringing a lot of reforms to the nation,” he said.

We should encourage Jonathan to vie for the presidency because we believe in what he is doing and will continue to support him to deliver the dividends of democracy. Good leaders are hard to find, when we see them, we must appreciate them,” he pointed out.

Another person, who spoke with our correspondent, Mr. Andy Ihuenyi said that Jonathan should vie for the presidency in 2011 given the level of achievements he had so far recorded.

“President Goodluck Jonathan is a symbol of goodluck. We cannot afford to shun goodluck. His assumption of office is noteworthy. It is by an act of God,” he pointed out.

Mr. Ihuenyi, who is an environmentalist, said “the election of Goodluck Jonathan would pacify the neglected people of the Niger Delta. But first and foremost his track record has shown that he has all it takes to pilot the affairs of this nation.”

He regretted that the zoning system was the machination of the enemies of the Nigerian nation.

He, however, stated only those who were qualified and experienced should be entrusted with leadership, so that they would remain accountable to the people.

 

Philip-Wuwu Okparaji, Chidi Enyie, Justus Awaji,

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Executive Order Violation: Rivers Court Remands Two Pilots In Prison …Police Begin Contact Tracing Of Suspects …As Wike Threatens To Expose Purveyors Of COVID-19 In Rivers

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A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court, yesterday, remanded two pilots of Carveton Helicopters, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari in prison custody, for allegedly intentionally disobeying the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, aimed at checking the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
The court, presided over by Chief Magistrate D. D. Ihua-Maduenyi, remanded the two pilots at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre till May 19, 2020, when their trial would commence.
Ihua-Maduenyi ruled that COVID-19 tests be carried out on the two pilots to ascertain their status.
The pilots, who were arrested by the Rivers State Police Command, were arraigned by the state Police Command via charge number: PMC/532C/2020.
The Prosecution Counsel and Officer-in-charge, Legal of the Rivers State Police Command, SP Gladys Amadi told the court that the acts of the two pilots were capable of putting the entire state in danger of contracting Coronavirus.
She urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody to enable the police conclude their investigation, noting that allowing the accused persons roam the streets would endanger others in the state.
According to her, remanding the pilots would also stop them from further violating the Executive Order.
The Honourable Attorney General of Rivers State, Prof Zacheus Adango was also in court.
The pilots are facing a four-count charge, including, “That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, as pilot and co-pilot of Twin-Otter, Carveton Helicopters, on the 7th day of April, 2020 at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt in the Port Harcourt Magisterial District, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit misdemeanour to wit: disobedience to lawful order and thereby committed an offence under Section 517A of the Criminal Code CAP 37, Vol 11 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did intentionally disobey the lawful order issued by the governor of Rivers State as contained in Paragraph 8 of the Executive Order RVSG -01 2020 made pursuant to Sections 2, 4, and 8 of Quarantine Act Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Regulation 11 of the Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) and other Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 2020 by flying the Twin-Otter Caverton Helicopters into Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Cap Q2 LFN, 2004.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by flying and discharging passengers from the Twin-Otter helicopter at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 249 (d) of the Criminal Code Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did intentionally disobey the lawful order issued by the governor of Rivers State on restriction of movement and flights within the state contrary to Paragraph 8 of the Executive Order RVSG -01 2020 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 203 of the Criminal Code Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.”
However, for violating the order banning entry of flights into the state, two pilots were yesterday, arrested in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Police Command.
The pilots were arrested at the Air Force Base in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who briefed newsmen in the office of the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Mustapha Dandaura, expressed worry that the passengers who flew in with the flight had been discharged without the authorities knowing their Coronavirus status.
“These gentlemen came in and brought some passengers. As I speak to you, these passengers are in the state. This is going to cause us sleepless nights.
“I want to say it is a serious matter to us and the police must handle it seriously.
“Now, we are in a war situation. We want to know these people you brought in so that we can trace them”, Wike said.
The State Chief Executive disclosed that the index case in the state has tested negative and has been discharged but added that unfortunately, another Coronavirus positive case was recorded last Monday.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Danduara had said that the arrest of the two pilots followed an intelligence report that the flight had landed at the Air Force Base with passengers.
The pilot and the co-pilot, he said, were apprehended by the Air Force Commander, adding that it was not known where the passengers were flown in from.
“To our greatest surprise, the aircraft landed without permission. We didn’t know their mission or if they have come to sabotage the state.
“His Excellency, being somebody very security conscious, alerted me, and we went to the Air Force Base and saw these pilots”, the police boss stated.
He expressed regret that when the governor of the state and service commanders have been going round the markets, churches and other public places in the state to ensure that the directives against Coronavirus spread were strictly obeyed, such development occurred.
He assured the governor that a search for the passengers in the said flight would commence immediately so as to trace their whereabouts in the state.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, threatened to set aside his immunity to testify against persons who violate the state’s border closure regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Coronavirus.
Speaking at the office of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura in Port Harcourt, yesterday, following the arrest of two pilots of Carveton Helicopters who illegally transported expatriates to the state, Wike said that the protection of Rivers people was an important assignment that must be executed with the seriousness it deserves.
The governor said: “I am willing to drop my immunity as a governor as far as this case is concerned. I am ready to be a prosecution witness.”
He charged the police to prosecute the matter to its logical conclusion to serve as deterrent to those interested in violating the regulations of the state regarding the fight against Coronavirus.
Wike said: “I want to say this is a serious matter to us and police should handle it seriously. That’s why I am here at the state command to show the seriousness of this issue.
“Nobody says that you can’t go to any state but now, we are in a war situation. This COVID-19 is even worse than a conventional war. We want to know those people you brought in so that we have to trace them to know their identity and status. Luckily, we have seen the pilot and the co-pilot. They will assist the police in identifying them”.
Wike reiterated that though the state government has no power to close airports, but added that it has the right to check those coming into the state in order to ascertain their status.
“I have always said that we need the support of everybody. Nobody knows the status of those coming into Port Harcourt. Nobody knows whether they are positive or negative. I have said before that I don’t have the right to close the airport. But I have the right of saying ‘don’t enter my state because we want to know your status’,” he said.
He wondered why Carveton Helicopters decided to cut corners when the state government outlined the procedure for flying expatriates from Lagos into the state.
The governor said: “The company wrote to us about bringing people which I forwarded to the commissioner of police to perform security checks and the health officials to perform their duties before allowing them to come in. That is for those performing essential duties. But they decided to violate the regulations.”
Wike said that his administration was duty-bound to protect Rivers people from Coronavirus.
He confirmed the second case of Coronavirus in the state, explaining that the person was 62-years old who recently returned from the United Kingdom and entered the state through Lagos.
Wike also confirmed that the index case in the state has been discharged from the treatment/isolation centre in Eleme.
He said: “The positive index case of the virus we had, by the grace of God, has been discharged. What we have now is another case of a 62-year old person who came in from UK and landed in Lagos, and then, moved to Port Harcourt.”
Also speaking, the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mustapha Dandaura confirmed that the command arrested the pilot and co-pilot of Carveton Helicopters who ferried unknown passengers to the state, adding that the pilots violated the regulations regarding the safety of the state.
He said: “Recall that when this Coronavirus issues started, there was ban of local flight from coming into the state. Since that time we have been monitoring the activities of these private airlines.
“To our surprise, we received an intelligence report that an aircraft has landed at the Air Force Base and that it was carrying some passengers. We have apprehended the pilot and the co-pilot by the NAF commander, that’s why they alerted the chief executive officer of the state who had given an order that on no account should any aircraft land in Rivers State without clearance.
“We don’t know the people they brought, whether they are positive or negative of Coronavirus. Where are they heading to and where they came from?
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for his commitment to the protection of Rivers people.
“To our surprise this morning, this aircraft landed without any signal or permission from the authorities. We don’t know their mission here. Maybe, they are coming here to sabotage the activities of the state and the security agencies that are putting efforts on ground to ensure that Rivers State enjoys peaceful atmosphere throughout this pandemic period”, Dandaura added.
It would be recalled that the Executive Order signed by the Rivers State Governor on March 19, 2020 suspended flights to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Air Force Base and Bonny Airstrip beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Executive Order signed by Governor Wike is titled: “EXECUTIVE ORDER RVSG – 01 2020 PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 2, 4 AND 8 OF QUARANTINE ACT, CAP. Q2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA 2004 AND REGULATION 11 OF THE QUARANTINE (CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES) REGULATIONS, 2020.”

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COVID-19 Fund: ‘Give N15bn Each To N’Delta Govs’

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A group, Peace, Development, Security and Humanitarian Rights Association of Niger Deltans, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give N15billion each to governors of Niger Delta states out of the N500billion Coronavirus intervention fund to enable them fight the disease.
It explained that the peculiar terrain of the region necessitated the call.
Briefing newsmen, yesterday, in Warri, Delta State, President of the group, Comrade Mike Tiemo, urged Buhari to prevail on the military to ensure that they maintain rules of engagement while enforcing the sit-at-home order in the region.
He said, “We hail President Muhammadu Buhari for graciously approving the release of N500 billion with immediate effect to combat the scourge of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
“Funds should be directly handed over to the state governors like Mr. President did in the case of Lagos State which proved to be a perfect idea because the governors are closer to their people.
“We hereby call on President Buhari based on the strategic terrain of the region to consider the Niger Delta states by giving the governors N15billion each from the proposed N500 billion to enable them expedite action in the purchase and acquisition of all the relevant items needed such as Personal Preventive Equipment (PPE), and other health care facilities.
“We are highly optimistic that this appeal will not be swept under the carpet but should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. This association has implicit confidence in the Niger Delta governors. If the fund is given to them they will judiciously appropriate it in the war against Covid-19.
“The governors have already demonstrated capacity and willingness before the Niger Delta people that if the fund is released to them they will do the needful for the benefit of the region in particular and Nigeria at large.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari not to look at the issue with political binoculars. Relief materials should come with some stipends at least N25,000 to each inhabitant of the Niger Delta through the state governors to cushion the negative effects of the lockdown.”
He further urged multinationals in the region support Niger Delta governors and inhabitants of the region at this critical period.
Also speaking, Secretary of the group, Comrade Lucky Ovigue Ohwahwa; Public Relations Officer, Comrade Durojaiye Ogunsamone; and National Mobilising Officer 1, Mr. Patrick Okpomu, urged Niger Deltans to comply with all precautionary instructions.

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Osimhen Tipped To Be New Drogba

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Victor Osimhen can be Ligue 1’s next Didier Drogba, according to former team-mate Nicolas Penneteau.
The 21-year-old Nigerian has lit up French football with Lille this season, scoring 18 goals and finding himself linked with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona.
After a slow start to his career, Drogba’s last season in Ligue 1 brought 32 goals in all competitions before he moved to Chelsea, and goalkeeper Penneteau, who played with Osimhen at Charleroi, thinks the youngster has similar quality.
“He doesn’t surprise me,” Penneteau told Tidesports source
“When we discovered him, when he first arrived, two clubs refused to sign him because of small physical problems.
“From the first training sessions we saw that he was a player of different class. I said it when he moved to Lille but for me, he might be the next Drogba in the French league.”
While Lille struggled in the Champions League, finishing bottom of their group with just one point, Osimhen adapted well with goals against Chelsea and Ajax.
It has been a rapid rise since joining from Charleroi last year, but Penneteau believes he has everything he needs to continue his ascent.
“If he stays at least another two seasons, he will score goal after goal,” he added.
“He has all the qualities of a modern striker.
“He is fast, he jumps high, he is strong in duels, good on the ball, he can play deep.
“He will get rid of his little imperfections as he plays. He is a phenomenon.”
Osimhen started his career at the Ultimate Strikers Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, before being scouted and signed by Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.
He made 12 appearances in the German top flight before being sent on loan to Belgium with Charleroi, who eventually opted to sign him on a permanent deal.
Twenty goals in 36 games in the 2018-19 campaign was enough to tempt Lille into signing him following the departure of their previous star man, Nicolas Pepe, to Arsenal.
Now, it seems likely that Lille’s newest prodigy could also be set for a move to the Premier League in the coming years.

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