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Sighs, hisses as FG reverses two-year basketball ban

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Stakeholders have lamented D’Tigress’ 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup miss in the wake of the Federal Government’s decision to lift a two-year ban placed on international basketball, The PUNCH reports.

The ban was reversed after the sports minister Sunday Dare and other stakeholders lobbied for it to be rescinded, a top ministry official Ismaila Abubakar told reporters.

The Nigeria Basketball Federation had been plagued by a series of leadership crises over the years, with two  parallel boards laying claim to the leadership of the federation.

On January 31, incumbent Musa Ahmadu-Kida emerged as the winner in an election held in Benin City, while Mark Igoche was voted president in another election, the same day in Abuja.

Following the crises, the sports ministry on May 12 announced via a statement quoting the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) that the government had approved the country’s “immediate withdrawal” from all international basketball competitions for two years.

The sports ministry then inaugurated an Interim Management Committee that would “draw up programmes that will revamp basketball from the grassroots in Nigeria.”

Following the government’s decision, the sport’s global governing body, FIBA, kicked five-time African champions D’Tigress out of the 2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia.

D’Tigress, Africa’s most successful women’s basketball team of the past two decades, had qualified for September’s World Cup in Australia after defeating France and Mali in Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.

FIBA’s decision came after deliberations with the Nigeria Basketball Federation on how the government decision could be rescinded fell through.

Mali were subsequently picked to replace Nigeria at the World Cup.

D’Tigress guard Atosu Upe, a 2017 FIBA AfroBasket winner, said the ban reversal was not timely.

“It’s (reversal) coming too late and too bad,” she told The PUNCH.

Also, speaking with The PUNCH, Babs Ogunade, the vice president of the Ahmadu-Kida-led NBBF board, also rued the fate of the D’Tigress players.

 “It’s just so sad that the girls who laboured hard to qualify for the World Cup will not participate in the competition, but if we put our house in order, D’Tigers (men’s team) could feature in the next window for the World Cup qualifying in Rwanda. But it’s a shame that the girls won’t be at the World Cup.”

Director of Sports, MFM, Godwin Enakhena, applauded the Federal Government’s decision but described D’Tigress stars as the eventual victims of the controversial suspension.

“This is one of the best things to happen to basketball,” he said. “But the D’Tigress were simply victims of this. After war, peace follows, but let it not be when so much damage had been done. Rescinding the two-year self-imposed ban on international basketball won’t bring back the pain the girls are going through for not going to the World Cup.”

Rivers Hoopers’ coach Ogoh Odaudu added, “The ban has already cost the D’Tigress their place in this year’s FIBA World Cup in Australia.”

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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