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EPL: Real Madrid legend, Raul Gonzalez takes decision on coaching Leeds United



Real Madrid Castilla coach, Raul Gonzalez, has decided to turn down an opportunity to manage Premier League side Leeds United.

Gonzalez has opted to continue his coaching development with the B team at Valdebebas, despite an offer from Leeds United.

Leeds United are on the hunt for a new manager after sacking Jesse Marsch on Monday.

Their Spanish Sporting Director, Victor Orta, appears to have looked to his native country for the answers.

According to Diario AS, Leeds had sounded out Gonzalez as one of their candidates to replace Marsch.

However, the Real Madrid legend is now set to stay in the Spanish capital to avoid leaving at a bad time as he aims to lead his team for promotion to Segunda.


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LG elections in Akwa-Ibom to hold October 26



By Dennis Udoma, Uyo

Baring any slightest change from now, Akwa Ibom State Government announced it’s readiness to conduct local government election on October 26.

Governor Umo Eno announced this yesterday in Uyo at a stakeholders meeting organized by the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC).

The Governor, who spoke through the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Frank Archibong presented the election plan to representatives of political parties and other stakeholders.

According to the Governor, “This event is a precursor to all of the electoral activities that will ultimately culminate to 2024 local government elections.

“We are all aware that the governor assumed office May 29 last year and because of the shortness of time between May and December he was not able to conduct the local government elections which is why we have caretaker committees manning the local governments.

“I know how he has pressurized the AKISIEC to have the local government elections. Nothing stops us from having the elections this year because Akwa Ibom State and His Excellency do not want to be counted among those running caretaker committees”.

Eno assured that elected council chairman will be sworn in on December 7 in compliance with the electoral plan of the state.

The timetable he said, political parties are expected to conduct their primaries between July 22nd and August 26th 2024 while commencement of campaigns is on August 26 among other activities.

Chairman of AKISIEC, Aniedi Ikoiwak assured political parties of adequate security and a free and fair elections.

Ikoiwak said, “Given the critical importance of human and material security during elections, the Commission will take very practical measures to ensure there is adequate security before, during and after this year’s elections”.

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Again, two media outfits honour Aerofield Homes boss, Armstrong with award of excellence



Two media platforms, Business Times newspapers and Bravins Magazine published by Edo Legacy Foundation have both in a separate event honoured the Chief Executive Officer of Aerofield Homes, Lagos, Armstrong ‘Tope Akintunde for his outstanding contribution to the development of the nation.

While Bravins Magazine, at a programme held on Thursday at H3 Event Centre, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta presented Akintunde with the Most Outstanding Entrepreneur Award, Business Times newspapers, on Friday at an event held at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos awarded the property merchant the Best Luxury Home Builders of the year.

All of these honours are coming few weeks after the popular real estate firm in partnership with Odu’a Investment performed the groundbreaking of the construction of the luxurious apartment being built within Ikeja Business District, Lagos State.

Speaking during the presentation of the award on Thursday, publisher of Bravins Magazine, Ambassador Engr. Pedro Omo-Aghahowa revealed that the ceremony is meant to celebrate fastest growing brands in Africa as well as top brands that have seen the biggest rise in purchasing consideration, most especially within the real estate companies in Africa, adding that Aerofield Homes came top among its contemporaries.

Omo-Aghahowa said, “The Award is a special recognition for top-line business growth for both emerging and established brands, showcasing a wide range of brands that have accelerated their Consumer appeal and awareness in 2024 under review and under this review, Aerofield Homes Limited towers above others and therefore deserves the award”.

Proudly receiving the awards, Mr Akintunde expressed his excitement and joy as he dedicated the awards to the company’s reputable customers.

The Iperu born All Progressives Congress stalwart appreciated the organisers of the two events for deeming it fit to recognise his efforts in providing shelter for Nigerians at home and abroad.

Akintunde said that the awards would definitely spur him to remain committed to pursuing excellence and complementing the various efforts of the government in cutting down on the housing deficit in the country.

He has therefore dedicated the award to the customers of Aerofield Homes, assuring them of more commitments and transparency in business dealings.

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Deep Blue project as catalyst to Nigeria’s maritime development



By Kumuyi Oluwafemi

Activities in the seas and oceans have continued to become a source of concern for the global community, as it serves as a veritable source of economic development and wealth creation, owing to the numerous resources embedded therein, thereby necessitating the need to ensure the sustainable use of these resources for nature and humanity.

Undoubtedly, the seas and oceans caters for over 80 percent of trade universally, which has been proven by researchers in the field of maritime studies; hence, the need for conscious efforts by humankind to preserve them for posterity.

Stakeholders across the globe are maki ng deliberate efforts to ensure the sustainable use and harnessing of opportunities in the se as and the oceans for the use and benefits of nature and humanity.

Furthermore, research has it that resources in oceans, with an increasing interest in economic capabilities with their contribution to the global economy will double from US$1,5 trillion in 2010 to US$3 trillion by the year 2030. Upon this premise, various governments and corporate entities worldwide are making intentional efforts to utilise the investments derivable from t he oceans including fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, bioprospecting, seabed mining, oil and gas, renewable energy and shipping, all culminating into the Blue Economy concept.

The Blue Economy concept has reached the height of global acceptability, as it has continued to take the centre stage in global discourse, which also aligns with the United Nations Sustain able Development Goals (UNSDGs), aimed at tackling poverty, hunger, amongst others as list ed in the 17 Goals.

Ultimately, the maritime sector has huge roles to play in the actualisation of the UNSDGs, as the Blue Economy mantra remains a beacon of hope to the world at large, as the oceans have remained a driver for economic development, job creation and wealth creation. It aims to utilise sustainable use of ocean resources for development opportunities in the Exclusive Econ omic Zones of coastal nations globally. Researchers have described the blue economy concept as the approach of actualising long-term prosperity by a region or a country towards the citizens’ overall well-being and humanity in general.

Meanwhile, these ecosystems face several challenges ranging from over exploitation of its resources, human activities, among other issues threatening the sustainable use of the resources embedded in the seas and the oceans.

This does not exclude discussions on climate change issues, which is also a growing concern for many organisation; including the Internation al Maritime Organisation (IMO), and its member states to grapple with to harness the full potentials of the Blue Economy. All these have led to the drafting of integrated strategies and frameworks that will help fulfil a continental, regional and national prosperity, and wealth creation regime through the sustainable uses of the seas and the oceans. Aware of the massive opportunities in the Nigeria seas and oceans and the need to ensure a diversified economy, the Nigerian Federal Government adopted a multipronged approach to utilizing the resources in the region, known as the Integrated National Security and Waterway s Protection Infrastructure Project, also known as the Deep Blue Project.

The aim of this Deep Blue Project is to secure the Nigeria’s territorial waters from all forms of illegalities rangin g from piracy, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, overfishing, among others, with the overall goal of promoting increased shipping activities, while also encouraging investor s’ participation, thereby bringing in Foreign Direct Investments (FDis) to the country. Interestingly, Nigeria has a vast coastline of about 853 kilometres, in addition to about 3,000 kilometres of navigable inland waterways, which shows the enormous resources the country h as; hence the need to preserve the oceans for economic development.

Therefore, the conc ept of the Deep Blue Project is to ensure that a holistic approach is taken into consideration t o prevent all forms of illegalities on the Nigerian territorial waters. Enforcement, regional cooperation, the building of a swift response capability and robust maritime domain awareness, among other issues form part of the initiatives of the Deep Blue Project, which has continued to yield results, as Nigeria has exited global piracy list, with ongoing discussions to exclude Ni geria from War Risk Insurance countries.

The initiative comprises a Command, Control, Communication, Computers, and Intelligence (C41) Operation Centre operated by trained military and civilian personnel.

The training includes physical techniques, in addition to technology, to tackle maritime crimes in the nation’s territorial waters. The centre domiciled with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA in Lagos, consists of a maritime intelligence system that will ensure data authenticity while creating a reliable global maritime picture to understand the “Patterns of life” of vessels and reveal risk indicators. The system, programmed to detect criminal activities, als o gives early warnings on emerging threats on activities on the Nigerian waters, thereby ena bling prompt action to prepare and dispatch undercover and military vessels to take decisive action.

The project involves personnel from the Nigerian Armed Forces, Air Force, Army, Navy, Police, Department of State Services and officers of NMASA.

Aside from the C4i operational c entre, the deep blue project also involves purchasing special mission vessels and armoured vehicles, operated by trained personnel to allow for effective manning of the Nigerian mariti me domain.

The land assets include 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol and 600 specially trained tro ops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit (MSU). The sea assets include 2 Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.

The air assets comprise two Special Missio n Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mi ssion Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

To give credence to the Deep Blue Project, the Federal Government of Nigeria, in 2019 sign ed into law the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act, aimed at enhancing the regime of prosecution of offenders. Since this Act came into law, it has enhanced prosecution of about 30 persons, punished for various offences.

‘The signing into law of this Act gives a force to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and the Convention on Suppression of Unlawful Acts against naviga tion safety (SUA), 1988.

Being the first of its kind in the West and Central African Sub-Region, the lawsuit addresses the international requirement for separate legislation for tackling piracy and other related maritime offences in the Nigerian waters and by extension, the Gulf of Guinea.

As part of efforts to bolster the opportunities in the Nigerian maritime sector, in August 202 3, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR accorded a “special status” to the maritime sector by creating a Ministry of Marine an d Blue Economy; a move that stakeholders have described as a step in the right direction.

The Ministry has continued to provide direction for the sector in order to harness the resource s in the oceans.

Suffice to state that Nigeria’s exit from piracy list has received several commendation from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and stakeholders in the global maritime commun ity; this can be alluded to the synergetic approach NIMASA has put in place in order to reap t he benefits of the Deep Blue Project.

To underscore the importance of the maritime sector to economic development, Dr. Dayo Mo bereola, the Director General of NMASA during a meeting with top Management staff of the Agency emphasised the need to align the Agency’s objectives to presidential priorities without losing sight of the Agency’s core functions.

These areas include; to Develop and implement National Policy on Marine and Blue Economy, Enhance Maritime Safety, Security and Compliance to global acceptable standards, Promote Indigenous Participation in the maritime sector in line with Cabotage Act, and Sustain Zero Incident Report for Nigeria in the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy.

All these require collaboration, which will lead to information gathering and sharing, with the Deep Blue initiative playing a pivotal role in the actualisation of the aforementioned priorities.

During the Operation Maritime Capability Demonstration, held in Lagos, Mober eola, while addressing the media, gave the assurance that the Agency is committed to the sustainability of t he project.

He said, “This project has earned Nigeria International recognition by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and we have been taken off from the piracy list. The aim is to continue to sustain it, and we will continue to encourage the personnel of the Deep Blue Project to keep it up, while we on our own side would continue to support you as much as possi ble. Please, do not reduce your efforts, as we count on you to make the maritime space mor e secure. The President of Nigeria is counting on you, the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy; Adegboyega Oyetola is also in support of this project.”

It is therefore apt to state that the Deep Blue Project has put Nigeria on the global pedestal, and has helped to reduce piracy activities on the nation’s waterways and by extension, the G ulf of Guinea, as NMASA Management has consistently reiterated zero tolerance to illegalities on our waters.

The author of this piece wishes to emphasize the need for the Federal Government to investing Research and Development in order to optimise the benefits in the sector. It is no gainsay ing that the maritime sector if well utilized can contribute massively to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of Nigeria. Stakeholders, on their part, have a part to play, as the government should continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Conclusively, the cliché “potential” commonly used to describe the opportunities in the secto r should be made a reality, so that the Blue Economy rationale will not become mere theoretical or rhetoric; rather, the government should adopt a practical approach, by engaging the professionals in the industry, whilst also walking the talk. There is still a lot to do in achieving arobust maritime sector in Nigeria. With all these in place, Dr. Mobereola stands the chance to write his name in Gold, and posterity will be kind to him, as he makes efforts to calibrate the Nigerian maritime sector towards economic growth and development.

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