Lionel Messi and Argentina won an all-time classic World Cup final despite Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick taking France into a penalty shoot-out following a 3-3 draw on Sunday.
Gonzalo Montiel converted the winning spot-kick to clinch a 4-2 shoot-out success for Argentina at the end of a thriller at Lusail Stadium, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez having saved Kingsley Coman’s attempt and seen Aurelien Tchouameni fire wide.
France, aiming to become only the third side to ever retain the trophy, battled back from two goals down in normal time after Mbappe converted an 81st-minute penalty and scored a delightful volley 97 seconds later.
Messi had opened the scoring, before Angel Di Maria rounded off a stunning counter-attacking move, and the Albiceleste number 10 restored his side’s lead in the 108th minute, only for Mbappe to respond again two minutes before the end of extra time.
That teed up penalties, with both Mbappe and Messi converting before Argentina gave their captain a fitting World Cup farewell.
A bright Argentina start was rewarded when Messi calmly beat Hugo Lloris from the penalty spot in the 21st minute after Ousmane Dembele made contact on Di Maria in the box.
The second goal from Di Maria was sublime, as Messi played a fine flicked pass into the path of Julian Alvarez, who in turn played in Alexis Mac Allister to find the scorer on the far side.
But Didier Deschamps introduced Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani in a double change before half-time, and both players made a telling impact.
After initially toiling for much of the second half, France were gifted a penalty that Mbappe converted when Nicolas Otamendi dragged down Kolo Muani.
Mbappe, a peripheral figure until that point, then levelled up moments later with a powerful volley from Thuram’s pass.
Messi again looked to have won it for Argentina in extra time when reacting quickest to a saved Lautaro Martinez attempt, only for Paris Saint-Germain club-mate Mbappe to equalise once more through a penalty after his shot hit Montiel on the arm.
Montiel would have the final say, though, with the help of Martinez, as Messi and Argentina ended their wait.
In a World Cup that saw a record 172 goals scored, overtaking the 171 netted in the 1998 and 2014 editions, this was a fitting finale in Qatar.
The game appeared all but over with 10 minutes to go as France, who became the first team on record not to attempt a first-half shot in a World Cup final, struggled to get going.
Mbappe made sure a rather one-sided final turned into a true epic, although it was not enough as Argentina, led by Messi, added to their previous titles won in 1978 and 1986.
Mbappe joins England’s 1966 hero Geoff Hurst as the only men to have scored a World Cup final hat-trick, netting his three goals from six shots.
Not that it will be much consolation for the PSG star, but he finishes the tournament as top scorer with eight goals, one more than Messi.
Messi may have just about been overshadowed on an individual level by Mbappe, but he more than played his part in both this victory and Argentina’s tournament triumph.
Making a record 26th – and final – appearance on the biggest stage of them all, he became the first player to score in each round of the competition, while his 21 goal involvements are the most of any player in World Cup history.
Tinubu Presents N27.5tr 2024 budget to NASS, Seeks Speedy Passage
President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, presented the Appropriation Bill of the Federal government for the year 2024 tagged ‘Budget of Renewed Hope’ to a joint session of the National Assembly.
This is the president’s first budget presentation to the National Assembly since assuming office on May 29.
The President arrived at the National Assembly for the presentation of the 2024 budget at about 11:09 am accompanied some ministers and aides. and senior officials.
He was led into the chamber of the House of Representatives for the presentation of the N27.5trillion Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly which began after the rendition of the National Anthem and opening prayers.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC)on Monday approved N27.5 trillion as the 2024 budget estimate.
It will be recalled that Tinubu had about three weeks ago forwarded the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework ( MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP), proposing an expenditure of N26.1 for the 2024 fiscal year.
After two weeks of deliberations and interface with heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the revenue and expenditure projections, the Senate through its Committee on Finance approved the MTEF.
It specifically approved the N26.1 trillion proposed as 2024 budget and other parameters proposed by Tinubu.
It also approved new borrowings of N7.8 trillion, while pegging the oil price benchmark for 2024 at $73.96 and oil production at 1.78 million barrels per day.
Other parameters approved are GDP growth rate of 3.76 per cent, the inflation rate of 21.40 per cent, a suggested benchmark exchange rate of N700 to $1 and a projected budget deficit of N9.04 trillion.
Old, New Naira Notes Will Exist Side-by-Side Till Further Notice, Supreme Court Rules
The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, said both the old and the new resigned naira notes remain legal tender till further notice.
The apex court, in a ruling by a seven-man panel of justices led by Justice John Okoro, said the banknotes should remain in circulation, pending when the Federal Government, after due consultation with relevant stakeholders, takes a decision on the matter.
It made the order, after it heard an application that was moved on behalf of the federal government by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
It will be recalled that the court had on March 3, nullified the ban on use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as valid legal tenders by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The court held that the old Naira notes should be used alongside the redesigned currencies, until the end of the year.
In its lead judgement that was prepared and delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court slammed FG for unilaterally introducing the demonitization policy, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, without consulting the Council of States, the Federal Executive Council, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, Civil Society Organizations and other relevant stakeholders.
It held that FG failed to give valid notice to all the federating units, before it decided to withdraw the old banknotes from circulation and introduce new ones.
The cupreme court maintained that evidence before it established that a purported notice on the monetary policy was through “mere press remarks” by governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
It held that such remarks did not qualify as “reasonable notice” to the states as envisaged under section 20(3) of the CBN Act.
Besides, the court invalidated the directive President Buhari gave in the broadcast he made on February 16, which allowed only the old N200 note to remain a legal tender till April 10.
While accusing President Buhari of disobeying the interim order it made on February 8, which directed that the old banknotes should remain in use till the determination of the case before it, the apex court stressed that the President, by going ahead to ban the old banknotes, acted in a way that was inimical to democratic governance.
According to the court, having acted in disobedience to its order, FG lost its right to be granted audience before it.
Following the end of the last administration, the President Bola Tinubu-led government re-approached the apex court for an indefinite extension of its December 31 deadline.
Subsidy Removal Killing Us, Pensioners Cry Out to Tinubu
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Mr. Godwin Abumisi, has cried out to President Bola Tinubu that the removal of fuel subsidy has brought pains, frustration, and hardship to average pensioners in the country.
Abumisi said this in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the opening of National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union.
He appealed to the Federal government not to renege on its promise to include pensioners in the N25,000 cash award announced to cushion the economic hardship of the petrol subsidy removal, in order to assuage the pains of his members.
The National President, who lamented that the petrol subsidy removal has further impoverished pensioners, urged the Federal government to fulfill its promise to the pensioners.
He said: “The Pensioners’ Day this year was celebrated on the 5th of October, 2023 in line with the declaration of the day as the Older Persons’ Day by the Federal government.
“We addressed a world press conference and demanded the inclusion of pensioners in the N25,000 cash award announced by the Federal Government.
“Immediately after this, we met with the Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Betta Edu and it is our hope that the list submitted will be treated with the needed zeal.
“This is why the theme of this year’s NEC meeting “Effect of Subsidy Removal on an Average Pensioner” is very apt and explicit.
“Without mincing words, the subsidy removal has brought with it pains, frustration and hardship to average Nigerians, including the pensioners.
“In the light of this, we wish to use this occasion to passionately appeal to both the Federal, State and Local Governments to do something very fast to assuage the pains of our members and other vulnerable Nigerians.”
The national president said that its members have been struggling and battling for financial survival.
Abumisi pointed out that if the palliatives are religiously implemented to the letter on record time devoid of the usual bureaucratic bottlenecks, it will go a long way to calm down frayed nerves of its members.
Also speaking, the Ondo State Chairman of the union, Johnson Osunyemi, who pledged their support and loyalty to the National Headquarters, promised to always operate in accordance with the spirit and constitution of the union.
Osunyemi lauded the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, for giving priority to the welfare of pensioners in the State.
“Distinguished pensioners, although we still tremble under the cumbersome yoke of unpaid gratuities, we have decided to celebrate our governor today because he paid all the arrears of pensions he inherited from his predecessor.
” Equally, he has implemented all the increase in our pensions.
“Incidentally, and sadly too, his promises to ease the problems of pensioners are being encumbered by ill-health.
” As a parting request by the host council to our guests, we appeal to you to kindly join us in praying for the quick recovery of our kind and God-fearing governor.
The State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said that as part of his admission’s commitment to the welfarism of pensioners, monthly pensions are being paid as at when due while government priorities allocation of substantial amount of money for payment of gratuities.
Akeredolu was represented by his Special Adviser on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr. Dare Aragbaye.
An award of excellence was presented by the pensioners to governor Akeredolu, NLC Vice President, Comrade Sunday Adeleye; the State Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa among others.