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Emmanuel Dennis’ AFCONtroversy Confirms Need for Clear Communication Direct from Leaders

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By Joel Popoola

Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations campaign has kicked off with an impressive win against the much fancied Egyptians – despite a number of key players being missing.

Star striker Victor Oshimen was already absent with injury when defensive mainstay Leon Balogun lost his own fitness battle and withdrew from the squad. Then there’s the saga of Emmanuel Dennis.

Despite not appearing for the Super Eagles since 2019, the Watford striker has been in impressive form in his first season in the English Premier League, scoring 6 goals and creating 4 more in his last 10 games.

But his selection for Afcon – and almost immediate deselection – has caused something of diplomatic incident.

Of all the predictions made for 2022, the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and a small town in England is one few people would have made!

When Dennis was named in Nigeria’s AFCON squad on New Year’s Eve he immediately tweeted “Proud to get a call up to represent my country… Naija boy” followed by a heart, the Nigerian flag and an eagle.

Watford in turn tweeted back “Well deserved!”

Almost immediately the Nigerian Football Association announced that Dennis would not be going to the tournament – accusing his club of “baring fangs”.1a

In response, Watford made clear that Nigerian had made an administrative error and simply not officially called the player up.

International football rules state that “Associations wishing to call up a player must notify the player in writing at least 15 days before… the player’s club shall also be informed in writing at the same time”. Watford argued that as the Nigerian football association had failed to follow correct procedure, Dennis’ call-up was invalid.

Nigerian Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick effectively admitted this was correct, blaming former manager Gerhard Rohr and stating:

“There are statutory provisions regarding inviting players… Rohr submitted the first list on the 15th of December, that was the origin of the problem”.

Interim Nigeria manager Augustine Eguavoen however stirred the pot some more, pinning the blame squarely on Watford, stating:

“Dennis said he wants to come but his club was threatening him”

Eguavoen later backtracked slightly, implying Dennis was to blame for his omission:

“It boils down to individual players, you have to fight for it”

Some reports have even suggested that Dennis himself declined the call-up, having been told he would only be a substitute.

The atmosphere of mistrust this whole situation created could well have motivated Senegal to insist that their own Watford player Ishmaila Sarr honour his (correctly administered!) call-up despite being injured since mid-November, forcing him to fly from London to Dakar and on to Cameroun… only for Senegal to acknowledge that he really was injured and to send him home again!

Whatever the truth of the matter, any social media post from Watford is now immediately submerged beneath a tidal wave of furious Nigerians.

And the whole time one person has been almost entirely absent from the conversation – Emmanuel Dennis himself. He could have settled this issue with a single tweet or Instagram story setting the record straight.

It is a lesson Nigeria’s politicians would do well to heed – clear communication, direct from the source is the only way to delivery credible and definitive information in the digital age. On social media, your name is the watermark of quality that differentiates “fake news” from “real news”.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead we’re trying to give politicians the platforms they need to communicate direct with the people they serve.

We have created a free app – Rate Your Leader – which puts verified voters in direct contact with their elected leaders, allowing them to build two-way relationships of trust and transparency and to work together to improve both our communities and our country.

Rate Your Leader lets politicians know what is happening in their areas and what matters most to the people who elect them. It’s abuse-proof technology also ensures all communication is courteous and civil – something Watford and Nigerian football fans alike could clearly benefit from!

If politicians using Rate Your Leader are responsive and authoritative, and explain the decisions they are taking clearly and satisfactorily, their voters can give them a positive rating. If people see that neighbours who have interacted with their local politicians have all rated them highly, that builds trust in our leaders. And that in turn builds trust in our system.

This is surely preferable to staying silent, and let a thousand keyboard warriors fire claim and claim at each other, creating nothing but chaos, confusion and suspicion instead?

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the free Rate Your Leader app.

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Coup: ECOWAS Suspends Burkina Faso

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The West African bloc Economic Community of West African States has suspended Burkina Faso from its governing board on Friday.

This is coming as an aftermath of mutinous soldiers who forced democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to resign.

This makes Burkina Faso the third member nation after Mali and Guinea to be punished for a military takeover in only 18 months.

On Monday, the soldiers went on state television to announce their military takeover of the country, which they said was under siege from armed groups. The military rulers said Kabore failed to stop the violence that led to the death of thousands of their citizens.

At the meeting where African leaders met virtually on Friday to discuss the Burkina Faso coup, it was stated that a delegation was expected to travel to the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, in the coming days.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current ECOWAS chairman, called the recent spate of coups in West Africa “a direct violation of our democratic tenets. The rest of the world is looking up to us to be firm on this matter.”

The leaders are scheduled to meet next on February 3 in Accra, Ghana.

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Akeredolu Appoints Amotekun Commander, Adeleye, As Special Adviser on Security Matters

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Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, has approved the appointment of Chief Adetunji Adeleye as Special Adviser on Security Matters.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, noted that the appointment takes immediate effect.

Chief Adeleye, who until the new appointment, was the Commander of the Ondo State Security Network (Amotekun Corps), will however, continue to function in that capacity.

The appointment, the statement noted, is part of the efforts of the Governor Akeredolu to further strengthen the security arrangements of the state, and improve the working relationship between government and security agencies in the state.

While congratulating the new appointee, Akeredolu charged him to double efforts in the fight against crime and criminal elements in the state.

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Olashore School Inaugurates Panel As Ex-Student Accuses Management of Complicity, Cover-Up

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The Trustees of Olashore International School Association – Proprietor of Olashore International School (OIS), a private co-educational boarding secondary school in Iloko-Ijesha, Osun State, has inaugurated a Five-member panel of inquiry into an alleged sexual assault claim by an ex-student of Olashore International School Obiamaka Azubuike.

Ms. Azubuike had in December 2021 via a social media post alleged that she was 18 years ago sexually assaulted by 13 of her fellow students in the school. Azubuike who was a student of the school between September 1998 and July 2004 also in her allegation claimed that the school tried to cover up the incident when the case was reported to the school’s management and striped her of her prefectship.

The Five-man panel of inquiry is composed of the following members:
1)Justice Olusola Williams Rtd – Retired Judge of the Lagos High Court and serves on the Board of Mirabel Centre – Chairperson
2)Dr Alero Roberts – Lecturer, Public Health Consultant and serves on the Board of Corona Trust Council
3)Mrs Adeyinka Adefope – Educationist and Safeguarding Consultant
4)Dr Sade Olajubu – Forensic Psychiatrist
5) Mr Ebuka Ekeanyanwu – Legal Practitioner

The ex-student in her claims among other reliefs is demanding that;
• The school makes a publicly apology to her in print and on social media.

• Reinstate the records to show that she was a school prefect in the school and also grant a zoom ceremony where she will be awarded the honors she allegedly earned.

According to a statement issued by Mrs Olapeju Sofowora, Chairperson, Olashore International School Association, the panel which was inaugurated by the Association’s Board of Trustees is charged to examine what truly transpired 18 years ago and make recommendations as considered fit.

The panel is expected to commence sitting immediately and conclude their inquiry within 8 weeks.

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