Nigeria’s World Cup Dream Ends


New York Times by Lawrie Mifflin

June 30, 2014

Allez les Bleus: France’s World Cup campaign remains on track, as the French got through to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Nigeria in Brasilia today.

But it certainly wasn’t as easy as the 2-0 scoreline makes it look. The Nigerians harassed, pestered and attacked the French for the first hour or more, playing them pretty evenly. France’s Hugo Lloris had to make a couple of outstanding saves, as did Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama. Enyeama, the man who had the most saves in the first round of this tournament, with 18, showed his mettle again.

But he made one mistake — weakly palming away a corner kick in the 79th minute that floated invitingly to Paul Pogba, who headed it into the net. That goal, and a key substitution by French Coach Didier Deschamps just three minutes earlier, made the difference.

Deschamps sent on Antoine Griezmann, a fleet and fresh attacker, to replace Olivier Giroud, and Griezmann sparked charge after charge, wearing the Nigerians down.

The move also allowed Karim Benzema, who had been sharing space with Giroud, to move alone into the center of attack, and cause trouble.

The final goal was an own goal, in the second minute of stoppage time, after a corner; the low shot deflected in off Joseph Yobo.

France had won its previous three Round of 16 matches, and went far in each tournament when it did — 1986 (finished third), 1998 (champions) and 2006 (lost in the final to Italy).

Here in Brazil, the French must contend with — probably — Germany in the quarterfinals on Friday, in Rio, unless Algeria pulls off a huge upset later this afternoon.


Nigeria Needs to Avoid Defeat to Move on In World Cup


Can the Nigerian National Soccer team defeat powerhouse Argentina in today’s match and stave off elimination? 

SkySports News by Paul Merson

June 25, 2014

Argentina have already booked their spot in the last 16 after winning their opening two matches and only require a draw to win the group, which would most likely mean they avoid France and instead face the Group E runners-up in Sao Paulo next Tuesday.

Alejandro Sabella’s side will be looking for more than a point, though, having failed to shine in either of their games so far and been made to work for a 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and 1-0 success against Iran.

On both occasions they have been thankful to moments of magic from Lionel Messi, who followed up his stunning goal against Bosnia with the last-minute winner to see off Iran.


  • This will be the fourth meeting involving Nigeria and Argentina at a FIFA World Cup; Argentina won the previous three to have taken place.
  • Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last seven appearances for Argentina.
  • Nigeria won their first World Cup game in 10 outings against Bosnia and Herzegovina (D3 L6).

“All players who played today have contributed to this victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately he is Argentine,” said Sabella after the Iran match.

“Everybody would have liked to have Messi but it is us who have him.”

Argentina will hope to underline their credentials as potential champions with an improved display against Nigeria, and Sabella will have to decide whether to make changes.

He has no new injury worries and may be tempted to give a few players a rest, but is more likely to give the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria another chance to find form and go in with a similar starting XI.

Nigeria are also expected to be unchanged following a 1-0 victory against Bosnia, which has put them on the brink of a place in the knockout stages.

Victor Moses and Godfrey Oboabona have had injuries and are unlikely to be considered by manager Stephen Keshi for places in the starting team.

Nigeria have four points from their first two matches and even if they lose in Porto Alegre they will still progress to the next round if Iran fail to beat Bosnia.

Peter Odemwingie netted the winner against Bosnia and is relishing the prospect of taking on a side like Argentina.

He told FIFA’s official website: “I earned myself a starting position and it was important to work hard to keep it, especially before a big game like Argentina, which is a dream for every player to play in.”

Paul Merson’s prediction

Argentina have been terrible. I don’t know what is happening in their camp, but something’s up. I didn’t see Lionel Messi or Pablo Zabaleta pass to each other against Iran and while Messi scored a worldy at the end, his performance was below Premier League standard.

I think Nigeria will cause Argentina’s poor defence problems with their pace up front, so I am going for a draw.

Paul predicts: 1-1

Indonesian 10-Year Yield Rises to Highest Since March on Deficit


Bloomberg News by Yudith Ho

June 23, 2014

Indonesia’s bonds fell, pushing the 10-year yield to a three-month high, on speculation the prospect of increased government debt sales will prompt investors to seek higher returns on existing notes.

Sovereign borrowings are set to rise after the nation raised its budget-deficit target for the year. Lawmakers approved a revised fiscal shortfall of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 1.69 percent previously, Ahmadi Noor Supit, chairman of the parliament’s budget commission, said on June 18. The Finance Ministry plans to auction 8 trillion rupiah ($667 million) of securities tomorrow, after an Islamic bond offering last week fell short of its goal as the government rejected bids for higher yields.

The yield on the nation’s 8.375 percent bonds due March 2024 rose three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 8.16 percent, according to the Inter Dealer Market Association. That’s the highest since March 26. The rupiah fell 0.2 percent to 11,990 per dollar, prices from local banks show. It lost 2.6 percent this month, the most among 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

“The higher financing need gives investors more sway to ask for better yields, while failed sukuk sales are a concern as they would add to the supply of conventional bonds,” said Dini Agmivia Anggraeni, a fixed-income analyst at PT Maybank Kim Eng Securities in Jakarta. “Rupiah weakness is also a concern.”

In the offshore market, one-month non-deliverable rupiah forwards declined 0.4 percent to 12,029 per dollar, 0.3 percent weaker than the onshore rate, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected swings in the exchange rate used to price options, was little changed at 10 percent. Bank Indonesia set a fixing used to settle the rupiah forwards at 11,971 per dollar, compared with 11,967 on June 20.

Nigeria to benefit from €700 million Dutch Growth Fund facility


Premium Times by Bassey Udo

June 19, 2014

The fund facility will help Nigerian entrepreneurs, SMEs,‎ form Joint ventures with Dutch companies.

Nigeria is to benefit from a €700 million Growth Fund facility from‎ the Netherlands, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation, Lilianne Ploumen, has said.

Mr. Ploumen said the fund, which would be launched in July 2014, will benefit Nigeria among other countries. He said the decision comes on the heels of the discussion between Nigeria’s Minister of Industry,‎ Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, and his Dutch counterpart, last‎ year.

Mr. Aganga confirmed this during the Nigeria-Netherlands Business‎ Forum in Lagos, on Wednesday.

The Netherlands minister is currently in Nigeria with a delegation of‎ over 20 Dutch businessmen to tie a win-win trade and investment‎ relationships.

The Dutch Growth Fund, Mr. Aganga said, would enable Nigerian‎ entrepreneurs and small and medium-scale enterprises, SMEs, to form joint ventures with their Dutch counterparts.

The fund would also help the entrepreneurs, expand their businesses‎ and invest in critical and thriving sectors.

“Netherlands is one of Nigeria’s largest trading partners,” Mr. Aganga‎ said, “Within the last five years, the value of trade between Nigeria and Netherlands has grown from about $2.5 billion to about $10 billion.

“In addition to the fact that there are so many Dutch companies‎ operating and doing well in Nigeria, there is also the €700 million Dutch Growth Fund, which the Government of Netherlands is planning to‎ establish.

“It will be accessed by Nigerians in partnership with Dutch‎ entrepreneurs who can bring in their know-how and innovation. This‎ will make Joint Ventures easier between the two countries,” said Mr.‎ Aganga.

The Minister commended the Dutch Government for the fund, recalling that Nigeria was included among the possible beneficiaries following‎ an appeal he made to his Netherlands counterpart when he visited the‎ country about two years ago when the fund was about to be created.

” I appealed that Nigeria should be included as one of the countries‎ that will benefit from the fund. She promised that she would visit Nigeria and give us an update on the fund. I am delighted that she has‎ fulfilled her promise of visiting Nigeria.

Ms. Ploumen said during the event that the decision to include Nigeria‎ as one of the benefitting countries was based on Nigeria’s huge‎ economic potentials as the biggest economy in Africa.

The fund, she said, would also help to fast-track inclusive economic growth, especially in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The Dutch Fund, she added, would promote the Joint Venture and‎ investment of Dutch companies with their Nigerian counterparts.

“Nigeria has been included as one of the countries that would benefit from the Fund because we see great investment and growth opportunities in Nigeria,” Ms. Ploumen said.

“Within the next three to four years, we will be investing €700‎ million into the fund, which is open for all sectors of the Nigerian economy.” She said.

The objective, she explained, was to enhance inclusive economic growth in Nigeria,Africa’s largest economy.

She said the Netherlands government is looking forward to seeing more Nigerian businesses partnering with their Dutch counterparts and‎ leveraging on the friendship and good economic relations existing between Nigeria and Netherlands.

The Dutch Growth Fund, which is open to all Nigerian entrepreneurs,‎ she said, would help to expand the business, trade and economic relationships between the two countries.

China builds Nigerian railway, 85% of project completed


China Central Television (English) 

June 17, 2014

The first modernized railway in Nigeria built by the Chinese has reached 100 kilometers, and is going to be completed by the end of the year. The railway between Abuja and the northern cosmopolitan city of Kaduna stands as an example of a one of its kind railway in the country, ahead of the other segments to be constructed in Nigeria.

The Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Modernisation Project is 85% complete and stretches some 100 kilometres so far.

Initially, workers faced challenges like water interference, and demolitions of estates but these have now been addressed. Government officials encouraged the workers handling the project to continue with the zeal and determination with which they started.

“So this segment is very very important, because it is the first success of the segments to be carried out by the federal government.” Nigerian Minister Of Transport Idris Abudullahi Umar said.

The railway is being constructed according to the first class national standard of Chinese railway for heavy load trains.

“I’m very sure we will complete the project in good time, and with high quality. As we say that construction of railway is very important. But the operation and management is very important for the success of the whole project. So now we have started the training of the staff, and do the feasibility study and proposal for the training, after we complete and hand over, deliver the railway to the Ministry of Transport. ” Shi Hongbing, managing director of CCECC Nigeria Ltd, said.

“Well about the Chinese standard, we had our share of difficulties and disagreements at the beginning, but at the end of the day, the result is the same. And definitely, the standard of construction is commendable, and is what the Nigerian government wants and what they are paying for.” Visinoni, Managing Director of Lagos Consultancy, said.

The project is under the Federal Ministry of Transport of Nigeria, and the consultancy is Italian company- Techniques Engineering Architecture Marketing Ltd.

According to the contract signed in 2006, the Nigeria railway modernization project includes a railway connecting Lagos and Kano in the north with two links. One of them is between Abuja and Kaduna, which has become the first segment being constructed. The whole distance is about 1,315 kilometres. The project started in February 2011, and should be completed by the end of this year.

Nigeria Seeks $200 Million Credit From Germany To Establish Development Bank


Leadership by NAN

The Federal Government is seeking 200 million dollars “soft credit” from the German Government for the establishment of a development bank, the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Thursday.

Okonjo-Iweala made the statement when a delegation of the German Government visited her in Abuja, adding  that a Development Bank of Nigeria was needed to ensure long-term loans for development of the country.

She said that Nigeria had excellent relations with Germany and would want it to support growth and development in strategic areas of its economy.

“One of the areas is industrial revolution plan, which we have just launched; we think that we need to manufacture more things in Nigeria because we have a large market.

“We think that Germany can be of great assistance to us in sharing knowledge with us on how it has been able to organise itself to have the right skills at the right industries.

“We want to know, if we are going into manufacturing, how we can do that.

“The second area is that we admire the way that you built your development bank, KFW.

“Nigeria is building a development bank; the president and the vice-president have pushed very hard for us to have long-term money in this economy.

“We want you to support. We are negotiating with you about 200 million dollars of support in soft credit form,’’ she added.

The minister said that in manufacturing, Nigeria would give priority to electronics and cars, especially with the large market in the country.

On the state of the nation’s economy, she said that with the re-based Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Nigeria remained the largest economy in Africa with 510 billion dollars.

She added that with per capita income of 2,668 dollars, the country still maintained its status as a low-income nation with a positive growth rate of 7 per cent.

Okonjo-Iweala said that the economy had maintained a stable macro-economic framework with debt to GDP ratio of one per cent “with the rebased GDP”.

“Our inflation rate is eight per cent at one digit and our reserve is relatively good,’’ she said.

The minister, however, stated that the nation was faced with three major challenges of jobs creation, inclusion and high inequality.

She explained that the Federal Government had initiated projects geared toward ensuring inclusive growth and job creation.

According her, the projects include power sector reforms, infrastructure development and mortgage refinancing.

Earlier, the leader of the German delegation, Mr Gerd Mueller, said that the aim of the visit was for the minister to educate them on current economic developments in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is very important and prominent in the region and we know that you are very prominent in the Nigerian government and so our visit is for you to inform us of the current economic situation in the country,’’ Mueller said.

He said the team wanted “to be briefed on the specific development in the security situation in Nigeria.’’

He said that Germany would love to partner Nigeria in agriculture development so as to create a green centre to enhance research in the sector.

According to him, the centre will look at issues of alternative sources of energy, such as solar, bio-mass, among others.

Mueller, who is Germany’s Minister of Development Operations, added that the green center would facilitate exchange of scientists in research to help Nigeria to boost its agricultural sector and be able to feed itself.

He promised that the German Government would look at requests for assistance made by the Federal Government, especially support for economic development.

Also, Mr Christoph Kannengieber, Chief Executive Officer, German-Africa Business Association, said that poor information about Nigeria’s economy had affected the level of Foreign Direct Investment into the country.

He said that only existing German companies in Nigeria understood the business environment.

He said Nigeria needed to participate in the forthcoming 80th anniversary of the association to inform the business community of its potential.

“The broad spectrum of SMEs in Germany does not know anything about Nigeria and important growth rate in Africa.

“They need to know about the improving economic frameworks, business opportunities, business climate and regulations in Africa and Nigeria, in particular,” he said.

He said the current volume of investment between Nigeria and Germany stood at 1.42 billion euros. 

Iranian President Visits Turkey First Time in 18 Years


Bloomberg News by Selcan Hacaoglu

June 9, 2014

Iran and Turkey moved to strengthen business ties as Hassan Rouhani, the first Iranian president to visit Turkey in 18 years, seeks to re-engage his country in the world economy as sanctions ease.

The two governments reached agreement to link the railway network between the neighbors and improve cooperation in banking, Rouhani told a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Rouhani is accompanied on the trip by more than 100 businessmen, seven ministers and central bank Governor Valiollah Seif, according to his Twitter account.

While Iran and Turkey support opposing sides in Syria’s war, Gul hailed Rouhani’s visit “as a turning point in economic relations.” The two countries seek to double annual trade to $30 billion by 2015 in the event of “unfair” sanctions against Iran being lifted, Turkey’s Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz said June 3.

The prospect of a final nuclear accord between Iran and world powers is encouraging more governments and companies to prepare for a possible lifting of sanctions, which would unlock trade with the Persian Gulf’s most populous country.

‘Potential Partner’

“The economic sanctions due to its nuclear program are bleeding the Iranian economy and increasing discontent among ordinary Iranians,” said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Ankara by e-mail on June 6. “Turkey, which appears to be a regional rival, is ironically also a very important potential partner that could help Rouhani,” in breaking Iran’s diplomatic isolation and easing economic sanctions, he said.

Turkey’s trade with Iran climbed to $22 billion in 2012, propelled by purchases of Iranian natural gas with gold, before tumbling to $14.6 billion last year, Yilmaz said. The gold trade with Iran largely ended after the U.S. Senate voted to approve new sanctions against Iran, closing gaps from previous measures, including trade in precious metals.

World powers, led by the U.S., agreed in November to ease some sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on the country’s nuclear program. In May, Rouhani said talks were showing a “positive trend” ahead of a July deadline to reach a comprehensive accord.

Rouhani won Iran’s presidential election in a year ago on pledges to ease sanctions and end the nation’s isolation in the world.

Syria War

The Shiite-ruled Islamic republic supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war against mainly Sunni rebels. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once a personal friend of Assad, is helping the rebels in their bid.

“There may be tension over the civil war in Syria. But there appears to be far more drawing these two neighbors together than driving them apart,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said today in an e-mail. “This, of course, raises questions about Turkey’s reliability as a U.S. ally and as a NATO ally.”

Rouhani also held talks with Erdogan today and the two are scheduled to hold a joint news conference.

Turkey’s dialogue with Iran won’t raise objections in the U.S. or the Europan Union, provided Turkey doesn’t break ranks in commercial dealings with the Islamic republic, said Unluhisarcikli of theGerman Marshall Fund.

“So long as it plays along these lines, Turkey’s dialog with Rouhani will be more than welcome,” he said.