Special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has rallied round his boss following growing concerns that the present administration has not lived up to expectations.

Mr Adesina who expressed confidence that President Muhammadu Buhari will win if he contests another election, said the President who has two more years in his tenure, has been silent on seeking another term. But some of his allies have been hinting at the president contesting in 2019. Recall that inn February, Babachir Lawal, secretary to the government of the federation, said Buhari would spend eight years in office.

“The foundation being laid by the government is solid. And nobody, even after the president has finished his eight years can ever take us back to the pre-2015 days,” he had told crowd of supporters in Abuja.

Speaking as a guest on Sunday Politics, a programme on Channels Television, Adesina said his principal had done very well.

Seun Okinbaloye, anchor of the programme, had asked, “Do you think if President Muhammadu Buhari goes to the poll today, he can win an election?” Responding, Adesina said: “That would depend on Nigerians, but if you ask me as an individual, I will say, yes, the president can win and win again and again.”

On the demand of Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman of the house of representatives committee on appropriation, that the president should step down based on his health condition, Adesina said over 15 million Nigerians voted for Buhari and one man cannot ask the president to quit.

The presidential spokesman however made it clear that Jibrin was entitled to his opinion.

“That rep (Jibrin) has given an opinion. He has a right to his opinion. We don’t begrudge him that, no one should begrudge him. But his opinion is just his opinion, it’s not the gospel,” he said.

Melania Trump urges women’s empowerment in speech

Melania Trump urges women’s empowerment in speech

First lady Melania Trump, in a rare speech Wednesday, urged women to become empowered and stand up against violence like the 13 women of diverse backgrounds being honored by the State Department.

“As leaders, we must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, remembering always that we are all members of one race, the human race. Each one of us is uniquely different,” Trump said during a ceremony recognizing 13 women at the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Awards.

The award, now in its 11th year, “honors those who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in acting to advance the lives of others across the globe,” according to a State Department release. They overcame injustice, including domestic violence, environmental disaster, gender bias and acid attacks.

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“Wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them,” she said. “However, wherever women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies, are empowered and together, we are all made strong with them.”

Trump did not mention her husband or his administration during her 10-minute speech.

During the campaign, Trump she said one of her focuses as first lady would be to combat cyberbullying.

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She occasionally appeared on the campaign trail and spoke during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.


Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of war crimes

Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of war crimes

The Abidjan Assize Court yesterday acquitted former First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire, Simone Gbagbo after nearly ten months of trial for crimes against humanity during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis.

“The majority jury declares Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes charged, pronounces her acquittal and orders her to be released immediately if she is not detained for other causes,” said Judge Kouadjo Boiqui, President of the Assize Court.

The Ivorian People’s Front (FPI), the party created by former President Laurent Gbagbo, welcomed the decision, describing it as “a way to go for reconciliation”.

“We want and await the release of other political prisoners,” FPI leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan told AFP.

Simone Gbagbo is already serving a 20 years prison sentence since 2015 for “attacking the safety of the State”.

The parties have “60 days to lodge an appeal against this decision,” said the judge, after six hours of deliberation by the six jurors.

The Attorney General of the Abidjan court, Aly Yeo, had imposed a life sentence on Simone Gbagbo, seeing it as an act to seal “national reconciliation” after the bloody post-election crisis.

Mrs Gbagbo, whose last appearance in the court was in November last year, was once again absent on Tuesday during the hearing she described as unfair.

The singular, gender-neutral ‘they’ added to the Associated Press Stylebook

The singular, gender-neutral ‘they’ added to the Associated Press Stylebook

The Associated Press Stylebook, arguably the foremost arbiter of grammar and word choice in journalism, has added an entry for “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in its latest edition.

“We stress that it’s usually possible to write around that,” Paula Froke, lead editor for the Associated Press Stylebook, said in a blog post on the American Copy Editors Society’s website. “But we offer new advice for two reasons: recognition that the spoken language uses they as singular and we also recognize the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she.”

Some journalists “write around” it by simply using the person’s name with each reference to avoid a jarring construction such as, “They is going home.”

The decision, announced Thursday at the American Copy Editors Society conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., now appears in the online stylebook and will appear in the 2017 print edition on May 31.

Via Poynter, the new entry reads in part:

They, them, their In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze …

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

The new stylebook also includes an updated section on gender, which reads, “Gender refers to a person’s social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics. Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people.”

Additionally, it added its first entry for “homophobia, homophobic,” which it stated are “acceptable in broad references or in quotations to the concept of fear or hatred of gays, lesbians and bisexuals.”

“It’s about time,” Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told Poynter. “Style guides sometimes move in baby steps. This seems to be a step in a good direction, even if it’s not a full-throated endorsement of singular they.”

“Because of this change, transgender and gender-nonconforming people will gain greater respect and dignity in the media,” writer Jacob Tobia, whose preferred pronouns are gender-neutral, told NBC News. “It’s great to know that I won’t have to fight so hard to have my pronouns respected by journalists.”

The Washington Post, which uses its own style guide, officially embraced the usage of the singular “they” in 2015.

“For many years, I’ve been rooting for — but stopping short of employing — what is known as the singular they as the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun,” wrote the late Bill Walsh, a longtime Washington Post copy editor.

“The only thing standing in the way of they has been the appearance of incorrectness — the lack of acceptance among educated readers,” he continued. “What finally pushed me from acceptance to action on gender-neutral pronouns was the increasing visibility of gender-neutral people. The Post has run at least one profile of a person who identifies as neither male nor female and specifically requests they and the like instead of he or she.”

The singular “they” made further gains in January 2016, when it beat out popular phrases “on fleek” and “thanks, Obama” as the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year.

Zimmer, who presided over the vote, told The Post the selection both acknowledged something commonly used in the English language while “also playing into emerging ideas about gender identity.”

“It encapsulates different trends that are going on in the language,” Zimmer said. “It’s a way of identifying something that’s going on in the language which ties to issues of gender identity and speaks to other ways that people are using language to express themselves and present their identity.”

The usage of nontraditional pronouns has become more common in daily life, particularly in universities, during the past few years. Students attending orientation at American University, for example, offer their preferred gender pronouns alongside their names and home towns when introducing themselves.

“We ask everyone at orientation to state their pronouns,” Sara Bendoraitis, the university’s director of programming, outreach and advocacy, told the BBC, “so that we are learning more about each other rather than assuming.”

Critics of allowing students to choose preferred pronouns have mocked the practice. After the University of Michigan announced a “designated pronoun” policy, one student chose the “pronoun” “His Majesty” in protest.

“The more and more we go down this road of political correctness at these universities,” Grant Strobl, the student in question, told Fox News, “the question is: When will that end? How much is the university willing to sacrifice its pursuit of truth and its mission for this fantasyland of political correctness?”

“Marriage ceremony” held for Newar girls and bael fruits in Nepal

“Marriage ceremony” held for Newar girls and bael fruits in Nepal

Little girls from Newar community attend a Bel Bibaha ceremony in Kavre,on the outskirts of Kathmandu,capital of Nepal, March 15, 2017.

According to Xinhua, Bel Bibaha, or Ihi, is a marriage ceremony in the Newar community of Nepal in which pre-adolescent girls are “married” to the bael fruit (wood apple).

Normally Newar girls marry thrice in their life as first marriage with Bael fruit, second with sun and third with human.

Details of how Senate rejected Magu as EFCC Chairman

Details of how Senate rejected Magu as EFCC Chairman

The Senate has again rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after the State Security Service reaffirmed its position that the nominee lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.

Mr. Magu was rejected on Wednesday, after appearance before the Senate for his confirmation hearing during which Dino Melaye raised the SSS report dated March 14.

“In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption stand of the current government,” the SSS report, read by Mr. Melaye, stated.

Although Mr. Magu had answered to the satisfaction of lawmakers earlier questions he was asked, senators challenged his suitability given the report against him by the SSS.

Mr. Magu questioned the credibility of the SSS which he said dispatched two reports on him with varying contents same day.

“What do you say about credibility of that agency?” he queried.

PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how the SSS had earlier submitted two contradictory reports, one approving Mr. Magu’s confirmation and the other asking he be rejected.

The Senate had then rejected Mr. Magu’s confirmation based on the latter report.

President Muhammadu Buhari in January resubmitted Mr. Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation as EFCC chief.

On Wednesday, Mr. Magu said he was never invited by the SSS to defend the allegations against him.

“There was no fair hearing,” he said.

Facing Mr. Melaye, he said, “We were fighting corruption together before you came to this house and turned against us.”

Mr. Melaye raised the SSS report after Mr. Magu had answered wide range of questions and it appeared he was going to scale the Senate hurdle.

As if the Senate was staging a drama already well-rehearsed, the body then moved away from seemingly soft questions, leaving the ground for questions relating to the SSS report.

Barnabas Gemade and Abiodun Olujimi, among others, asked Mr. Magu to defend his suitability and explain why he should be confirmed after “all these allegations”.

The fresh report was basically reaffirmation of the earlier one, containing same allegations that bother on the nominee’s residence, relationship with Mohammed Umar and past record as head of the EFCC’s economic governance unit.

PREMIUM TIMES had fact-checked the SSS report, and found most of the content to be false.

Earlier before the fresh report was raised, Mr. Magu had absolved himself of culpability in respect of the SSS allegations in the earlier report – though he had wanted to dodge the question that he should defend himself.

“I would answer but I don’t want to say something that will cause bad relationship between sister agencies,” said Mr. Magu, explaining he had responded to the allegations in writing.

However, Senate President Bukola Saraki insisted he must answer “so that we will be guided”.

Then, Mr. Magu said it was true he was reprimanded and detained after official documents were found with him outside office.

“If you don’t carry official files (to your house), you can’t do the work,” said Mr. Magu, explaining the nature of his work, heading “two offices” at the time.

He said after his travail he had been promoted twice.

Also on the allegation that he resides in a house rented for him by Mohammed Umar, a retired air commodore accused of corrupt practices, Mr. Magu said “that’s not true”.

He said his official residence at Maitama was rented for him by the FCT authorities for ease of his work, following intervention of an undisclosed senior official in the presidency.

“I was not part of the process and I don’t know how much was paid. I don’t even know when the rent started or will expire,” he said.

The fresh report was brought up nevertheless.

Mr. Magu also told the lawmakers he could not specifically give the actual amount the EFCC had recovered to date.

After the questioning, the Senate President put Mr. Magu’s confirmation to a voice vote. Majority of the lawmakers said No to his confirmation and the Senate therefore rejected it.

The presidency will now have to decide the next line of action, either to replace Mr. Magu, re-nominate him again or leave him in acting capacity as EFCC chairman.