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Inaugural Saudi GP stopped twice after crashes

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The potentially title-deciding Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix was stopped twice in the first 16 laps on Sunday before Red Bull’s championship frontrunner Max Verstappen took the lead with title rival Lewis Hamilton close behind.

The red flags came out on lap 15 after a five-lap safety car period triggered by Mick Schumacher crashing his Haas into the barriers on Jeddah’s super-fast and unforgiving Corniche street circuit.

That first stoppage appeared to play into the hands of Verstappen, who had stayed out while seven-times champion Hamilton pitted for fresh tyres from first after starting on pole position.

“Why is it a red flag?” Hamilton asked over the team radio. “The tyre wall looks fine… It’s unbelievable, man.”

With cars returning to the pits, Verstappen’s Red Bull team were able to change his tyres without the need for a further stop during the race.

That advantage disappeared, however, when the re-run standing start also brought out more red flags and Verstappen fell foul of the stewards.

Hamilton made the better getaway but Verstappen went off track to keep the lead, with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon forcing his way past Hamilton into second place.

“I had to avoid a collision there,” exclaimed Hamilton. “He cut across the whole kerb. He just overtook me outside the white line.”

The race was halted when Haas’s Russian rookie Nikita Mazepin and Williams’ George Russell collided at the start while Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez spun and was hit by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Debris was strewn across the track, bordered by concrete walls and little in the way of runoff.

In an extraordinary sequence of radio exchanges, race director Michael Masi then offered Red Bull the “opportunity” to line up on the grid for the third standing start behind Hamilton, with Ocon in the lead.

“You’d be back behind Lewis,” said the Australian. “That is my offer.”

“We accept that,” came the reply from Red Bull’s team manager Jonathan Wheatley.

Verstappen then seized the lead.

The Dutch driver leads Hamilton by eight points with only one race remaining after Sunday. The youngster will be champion if he scores 18 points more than the Briton.

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Shonekan’s death major loss to Nigeria, private sector -Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the late head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan, was highly consequential as a leader in the private sector who impacted economic policy in Nigeria.

This is as he described Shonekan’s demise as a major loss to the country.

Osinbajo stated this on Sunday when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late head of the Interim National Government, in Lagos.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement he signed late Sunday titled ‘Shonekan was consequential as private sector leader, his death a major loss, says Osinbajo’.

The Vice President who visited in company of his wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, was received at the Ikoyi residence of the Shonekans by the late ING head’s widow, Margaret Shonekan, and the son Adeboye Shonekan.

Osinbajo described Shonekan’s death as “a very major loss for the country and for the private sector and even internationally.

“Here was a man who made an impact. He was one of the very first leaders in the private sector to shape economic policy in Nigeria, and his role in that respect was very significant.”

During the visit, the Vice President also signed the condolence register thus: “We bless the name of the Lord for the excellent life of service to the country and to God, of our leader and father  Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR.

“We are proud of his contributions to the shaping of the modern Nigerian economy while being a leading light in the private sector. And for his statesmanship and leadership of the country at a time of great uncertainty in our nation.

“His integrity, legacy and high value service will remain evergreen in our memories. We pray that the Lord will comfort the family and may his memory be blessed forever. Amen.”

The Vice President also prayed for the family of the deceased business guru.

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Nigerians in diaspora key to revamping the economy, democracy, says Utomi

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By Chukwudi Nweje

Former presidential adviser, Prof Pat Utomi, who is also the leader of the National Consultative Front (NC Front), has said Nigerians in the diaspora have a crucial role to play in revamping the economy and saving the country’s democracy.

Utomi, who said this during a meeting with Nigerian professionals in Dallas, Texas, the United States at the weekend also noted that Nigerians in diaspora remit more money home than the country earns from the sale of crude oil, but have been denied the opportunity to fully participate in the democratic process by selfish politicians who fear the positive changes they will engender in the country’s democracy.

He said, “The Diaspora have higher competencies and a global network but is being blocked from their natural role in national rejuvenation by professional politicians in Nigeria who thrive on exclusion to achieve state capture, deserves a place at the table. The Diaspora remit more money home than Nigeria earns from crude oil sales. The Diaspora are high stakeholders with a moral obligation to help halt the drift in Nigeria.”

He urged Nigerians in the diaspora to partner the NC Front in ‘a shadow government’, which he said aims at developing policy plans to revive some critical sectors of the country’s economy that are lying comatose.

“The alternative government’s strategy involves a Marshal Plan type saturation investment in education, healthcare and the stimulation of markets that would further yield a prosperity paradox in infrastructure. The national economic strategy which is built on clusters of manufacturing hubs and technology parks in the six zones of Nigeria will drive global value chains anchored on the latent comparative advantage of each zone’s factor endowments and will produce a dramatic turnaround in Nigeria’s fortunes.

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He added that the NC Front will in the coming weeks announce a political party platform that will enable Nigeria to claim the promise of the founding fathers that peace and prosperity will define the future, in brotherhood, though tribe and tongue may differ.

“As soon as the current government is replaced there would be a diaspora global roadshow to showcase opportunities for diaspora joint ventures on the select endowments around which the value chains will be rolled out. This will quickly bring us to a full-employment economy and make Nigeria the true powerhouse of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Utomi said Nigerians should reject both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023 as they both represent retrograde opportunism.

He said that as 2023 approaches that Nigerians must move away from the politics of big men to those of big ideas to save the country.

“It is this politics of big men that deluded many Nigerians to think Buhari would help eliminate corruption only for corruption to get worse on his watch. Governing has reached its lowest ebb in memory with Nigeria’s import bills having at its top two items Nigeria should be exporting, premium motor spirit and food. These kinds of failures were the tradition of the anti-people government of corrupt big men that APC and PDP represents. A government that cares for and loves its people will not have politicians obsessed with self-love when just a little thoughtfulness can reduce the sufferings of the people and accelerate the pace of progress. To achieve a purposeful, people-centred government requires leaders of integrity, character, and a heart for the people”, Utomi said.

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2023: Sen Adamu’s reconciliation c’ttee will position APC for victory – VON DG, Okechukwu

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The Director-General,  Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, has said the Senator Abdullahi Adamu reconciliation committee is positioning the p

All Progressives Congress (APC) for 2023 electoral victory.

Okechukwu told newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, that the decision to set up the committee was one of the sterling achievements of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor Mai Mala Buni.

The APC chieftain, who was a member of the sub committees in the merger process that formed APC, noted that the Adamu-led conciliation committee has been going about their responsibilities with uncommon insight, purpose and empathy.

He stated, “I will not be mistaken if one calls the Reconciliation Committee the nine wisemen, because they are generating germane responses and inputs that would help in strengthening our great party and turning it into a formidable national political movement on the eve of 2023 general elections.

“The committee yes has some challenges, nonetheless has recorded tremendous success that would position our great party for 2023 general elections.

“I think with this reconciliation move, APC is becoming the party the founding fathers envisioned and it is a thing of joy that the CECPC selected such claiber of persons to perform this onerous task.”

On reports about setbacks suffered by the committee in some states, Okechukwu, said, “Nobody expected the crisis dogging over 15 state chapters to be settled at once. All I know is that the Senator Adamu’s Committee has so far recorded huge successes in the South East, North West, North East, South West and South South.

“Yes, there are unresolved issues in states like Osun, Kwara and Adamawa, but my understanding is that reconciliation is a work in progress.”

The APC chieftain disclosed that he participated in the meeting for reconciliation of the three factions or tendencies in his home state, Enugu, remarking, “One was impressed with how diligent and painstaking Senator Adamu and his team grilled us. That one can say today that we are rebuilding APC Enugu State Chapter with Senator Ken Nnamani, former Governor Sulivan Chime and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geofrey Onyeama, which was mangled by the congresses.”

“It must be noted that the Committee rebuked us for playing blame games instead of building bridges for victory in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

“Today, we are almost united, as we are harmonising at ward, local government and state levels. We hope before the end of this week, APC Enugu State chapter will reunite as one family.”

He expressed optimism that Abia, Gombe, Akwa Ibom and other states would comply with advisory template of the Senator Adamu’s Committee.

His words: “Based on what I have witnessed, the Senator Adamu Committee will reconcile all the prolonged crisis in the state chapters, which contributed to the delays in holding the party’s national convention.”

He recalled with pain that since June 2020, when the APC caretaker committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, was inaugurated, the convention has been postponed several times.

He hoped that the efforts of Senator Adamu’s Committee will lead to seamless national convention, a mandate which President Buhari gave H.E. M.M. Buni CECPC.

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