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Bundesliga Ready To Return, May 9

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Despite football being halted across the globe by the coronavirus pandemic with all major leagues and competitions suspended, the Bundesliga is now eager to return to action with plans to play spectator-free games in May.
Germany has led the way in its approach to combating the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s intense programme of consistent testing from early on has resulted in far fewer deaths than the worst-affected countries.
The German Football League (DFL), responsible for operating the Bundesliga and the second division, is determined to finish the current season. Its 36 professional clubs met yesterday to discuss a restart of the season next month.
However, Germany’s football authorities still face some huge questions before they get the green light to resume football in the country behind closed doors.
“If we start on 9 May, we are ready. If it is later, we will be ready again,” DFL chief executive Christian Seifert said yesterday.
“For us, what is decisive is what the politicians will decide. It is not for us to decide when.
“Games without spectators are not what we want, but at the moment it is the only thing that seems feasible.”
So, what challenges do they face and how are they planning to combat them?
German politics has recently decided that large events with crowds will be banned at least until 24 October. That rules out the Bundesliga being played in front of spectators until the scheduled start of next season.
The only way to work around regulations is to stage spectator-free games, with only players, coaching staff, medics, referees, ball boys and ball girls, ground staff, technicians, safety officers, and production staff for television and VAR being present inside the stadiums. League officials estimate that up to 300 people are needed per match.
In Germany, the 16 federal states determine the maximum number of people allowed for public gatherings and a decision about that number will be made by the end of April.
The governments could put a stop to any plans from the DFL, but they are aware of the economic struggles of professional football and are expected to grant the wish of the clubs.
“A weekend with football is much more bearable than a weekend without football. That’s why I could picture to have matches behind closed doors”, state premier of Bavaria, Markus Soder, said at a recent online talk show hosted by German newspaper Bild.
He and Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, have said they think it’s conceivable the Bundesliga would restart as soon as 9 May.
Soder and Laschet rushed ahead with their statements, knowing the federal government and the 16 state governments meet on 30 April, with the likely outcome that football matches are allowed to be staged in the following months.

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No Level Of Sabotage Can Make Me Surrender Our Mandate -Fubara …Promises To Prioritise Development In Education, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture …Asks For Sustainable Peace Across The State

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Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara has asserted that no level of sabotage staged in some quarters will make him abandon the mandate given to him to serve, protect and advance the fortunes of the State.
Speaking while declaring open the 115th and 116th combined Quarterly General Meeting of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers in Port Harcourt yesterday, Governor Fubara reaffirmed his commitment to serve with humility, sincerity of purpose and accountability.
”Although these are trying times, let us not forget that Rivers State is our collective inheritance, presently under my watch, to protect, defend and advance it as the Governor.
”I assure you that I will not fail in this responsibility nor will I surrender our mandate and progress to intimidation, blackmail and deliberate sabotage. I reaffirm my earlier statement and recommit myself to the path of peace as there is nothing to gain in a state of needless crisis.”
Governor Fubara said drastic measures will be taken to strengthen education, healthcare and other social services across the State, so that no part, including the rural areas, will be left behind.
In advancing these human capital development efforts, the governor said the 2024 budget of the state will prioritise and provide sufficient funding to create universal access to affordable and quality education and healthcare services in Rivers State.
”We will also take deliberate steps to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit among our teeming unemployed youths through viable initiatives on skills development, entrepreneurship training and targeted investments in commercial agriculture.”
Sir Fubara urged traditional rulers to be upright and royal fathers of integrity who do not compromise their neutrality.
He also enjoined them to be courageous to speak truth to power so that they do not lose their moral authority and legitimacy before their people.
”We must all be worried about the plight of our youths, especially those in rural communities, most of whom are poor, neglected and almost forgotten in the government’s development plans, policies, and actions.
”As we all know, no human society can progress without peace and security. I will therefore urge you to continue to work tirelessly for the preservation of peace and security to attract sustainable development to your communities.”
The governor also harped on the need for everybody to have faith in the renewed hope agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration at the federal level, asserting that President Tinubu has shown determination to pull the nation out of the prevailing economic nightmare and usher in a new era of sustainable economic progress, which is very reassuring.
In his address, the Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, Ohna Sergeant Chidi Awuse declared the firm support of the council to the administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara who was elected as the best and trusted to lead the State.
Ohna Awuse urged troublemakers who are fanning the ember of discord to cease the acts and allow the governor to concentrate and do the work he was elected to do.
Also speaking, Rivers State Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Charles Amadi said his ministry has continued to maintain a harmonious relationship with the council and will continue to collaborate with them to ease the discharge of their duties in their roles as royal fathers in peace-building efforts in their domains.

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Return To Bodo-Bonny Road Project Site, FG Orders Julius Berger …Sets April 2024 New Deadline For Project’s Delivery

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The Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, has ordered the contractor handling the 35-kilometer Bodo-Bonny road and bridge project in Rivers State, Julius Berger PLC, to return to the site and ensure its timely completion.
The minister emphasised the urgency and significance of the directive, noting that the project, initially awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc by the previous administration at a revised cost of N199billion with a completion date of December 31, 2023, is crucial for economic transformation in the region, being approximately 84percent complete.
Umahi expressed bewilderment over the contractor’s absence from the site despite their commitment under the agreement to meet the revised completion date.
He set April 2024 as the new deadline for the project’s delivery.
Hosting a delegation from the Bodo–Bonny Road Peace Committee on Monday, December 5, 2023, Umahi assured the project’s host communities that the Federal Government, under President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope administration, is committed to ensuring the project’s swift completion.
As stated by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Uchenna Orji, the minister highlighted a partnership agreement in 2017 between the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Nigeria LNG (NLNG) outlining the funding modalities for the project.
He faulted the contractor’s stance on project variations, highlighting that they had previously committed to completing the project without seeking additional variations, saying, “No equipment must be allowed to be moved out of site, they must complete that project as agreed and as signed and nothing has removed that responsibility which they willingly on their own signed.
“I implore you the Peace Committee to report to me the progress that has been made on that road.
“Bobo-Bonny project was augmented to 199billion, I am told by the Ministry and NLNG Limited that there was a document signed by Julius Berger that the project cannot be varied which means that the project cost cannot be increased, the project is about 35 kilometers”.
The minister, however, praised the host communities for maintaining peace with the contractor despite project delays while urging them to persist in their peaceful approach towards contractors working on projects in their vicinity.
He assured the delegation that the ministry would ensure the completion of the Bodo-Bonny road project by April 2024, saying, “Nobody will hold this country to ransom if they cannot do it, another person will come and do it and finish it even better but the only charge I give to you is not to allow any equipment out of sight until they complete the project”.
Umahi also assured that the Federal Government would manage a coastal road in the same region, facing even more significant site challenges, and the cost would be less than what the government is currently paying Julius Berger.
“I respect them for their quality and commitment, but we shouldn’t be taken for granted” “It is a character of arrogance for them to demobilize from site,” he added
Federal Director Bridges and Design, Engr. O. O. Awosanya, gave a brief history of the award and funding of the project by Julius Berger.
According to him, the initial date of completion of the project with 13 bridges was supposed to be December 31, 2023, saying, “We have three main bridges and we have nine mini bridges and one bridge over the pipeline.
“The project completion as of today is about 84percent and the contractor has requested for a review which is against the spirit of the propagated agreement that was signed between the Federal Government, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, and JB in 2021.”
Leader of the delegation and acting Chairman of the Peace Committee, Chief Charles John Jumbo, appreciated President Tinubu and the minister for the massive interventions and efforts they are bringing to the road sub-sector and changing the narrative of the road infrastructure in Nigeria.
He said the delegation was in the minister’s office to register their displeasure over the sudden demobilization from the site and abandonment of the Bodo-Bonny Road and Bridge project by Julius Berger Plc despite the huge funds committed by the Federal Government through NLNG.
Jumbo implored the timeouts intervention of Federal Government to avert the imminent hardship to be faced by the people of the area.

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RSG Plans Media Village …As Johnson Wants Journalists To Be Objective On Unfolding Devs In Rivers

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The Rivers State Government, under the leadership of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, plans to create a Media Village where all state-owned media houses would be located.
Office spaces, technical, power, other operational facilities and staff quarters are to be part of the ambitious project.
The large expanse of land at the Elelenwo transmission stations of both RSTV and Radio Rivers, is being proposed for this laudable project.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Warisenibo Joseph Johnson, dropped the hint in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, while playing host to the leadership of the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
This was contained in a statement by the Technical Assistant, Press Relations to the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Abraham Dukuma.
According to the commissioner, “The purpose of this move is to minimize the cost of operations of the outfits, increase efficiency and optimize the utilization of facilities through colocation as well as build synergy for effective performance, while creating some economic, social and commercial benefits, especially for people of the area where the activities of the proposed media hub shall be sited in particular, and people of the state in general.”
He thanked the NUJ, Rivers State Council, on behalf of the State Government, for identifying with Fubara-led administration.
The commissioner noted that fierce war has been raging in the media against Governor Fubara for some time, and charged members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm to be professional by accurately situating the unfolding development the way it is for posterity.
He informed that Fubara loves journalists, adding that the state Chief Executive is open to a robust, cordial working relationship with media practitioners.
To buttress his point, the commissioner cited the governor’s swift response to the recent requests from the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), when they were preparing for their recent national conference/election, where Dr. Lillian Okonkwo-Okagu was re-elected as the National Vice President of the Association.
He said the same friendly gesture was extended to the South-South Zonal leadership of the NUJ, as well as the Federated Correspondents Chapel.
Johnson also said that his recent familiarization visits to government-owned media houses and others is aimed at building better working relationship with the media in order to promote a healthy government-media partnership.
He disclosed that plans have been concluded for the governor to hold a media parley with journalists soon to enable him interact with them as partners-in-progress.
“To this end, the Rivers State Government under the leadership of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, is determined to make a clear departure from the past dispensation, when they (media practitioners) were unfairly treated, by ensuring that the media play critical roles in the government’s pragmatic development agenda”, he said.
He declared that the NUJ needs proper support to serve its preeminent leadership role as the galvanizing force in the media space.
Johnson noted that the recent upward review of salaries of civil servants in the state, among other people-oriented policies initiated by Fubara are clear indications of realistic commitment of the governor to change the fortune of Rivers people and those resident and doing business in the state, which according to him, will ultimately become visible to all at the end of the day.
He, therefore, enjoined all and sundry to join hands with the state government to build a better Rivers State.
Commenting on the ongoing political imbroglio in the state, Johnson said that; “We are not in any kind of inter-ethnic debacle. Therefore, no ethnic sentiment should be introduced into our system.”
Earlier in his speech, Chairman, NUJ Rivers State Council, Stanley Job Stanley, who led the delegation, congratulated Johnson on his appointment into the Rivers State Executive Council by Governor Fubara as the Chief Information Manager of the state, describing it as well deserved.
He commended Johnson for continuing to fraternize with the NUJ, even after his appointment as a commissioner, noting that Johnson was indeed a good member of the NUJ family.
The NUJ chairman also applauded the commissioner for his swift action in visiting government-owned media houses to ascertain their state/condition, with the aim of addressing their challenges for efficient and optimal performance.
He also conveyed NUJ’s appreciation to the state government for the support extended to the state chapter of NAWOJ during preparations for their recent national conference at Abuja, and formally informed the commissioner that Dr. Lillian Okonkwo-Okagu was re-elected as the National Vice President of NAWOJ.
Stanley solicited the support of the State Government in hosting NUJ’s Press Week, which he said had not seen the light of the day for a long time.
He also sought the assistance of State Government towards the rehabilitation of the NUJ Secretariat.
The NUJ leader requested for a solidarization visit by the NUJ to the the governor to enable them rub minds with him with a view to finding a common ground for collaboration, exchange of ideas, support and partnership.
The NUJ chairman regretted that all efforts by the Union to have an audience with the immediate past governor of the state and current FCT Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike, failed throughout his eight-year stay in office, and expressed the hope that things would not be the same in the present dispensation.
The NUJ delegation was made up of the state Chairman, Stanley Job Stanley; Vice Chairman, Okechukwu Maru; Secretary, Ike Wigodo; and Treasurer, Doris Tom Morrison.
Others are Auditor, Omunimi Wokoma; Ex-officio and Chief of Staff to the NUJ chairman, Boye Salau; and Financial Secretary, Fubara Miebaka Amadi.

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