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Rangers’ NPFL title triumph leaves others scraping for continent & survival

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Rangers International emerged champions of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) with one matchday to spare after they defeated Bendel Insurance 2-0 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Sunday.
The other three contenders for the title, Remo Stars, 3SC, and champions Enyimba, all dropped points in their respective matches, paving the way for the Flying Antelopes to win their eighth title in Nigeria’s top division.

A goal in each from Kenechukwu Agu and Chidiebere Nwobodo secured a 2-0 win over Bendel Insurance for Rangers to become champions.

However, the season still has the final matchday to navigate with two continental places up for grabs in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.

CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE & CONFEDERATION CUP SPOTS

Remo Stars despite their 1-2 defeat to Sunshine Stars are in pole position to secure the second Champions League spot alongside Rangers. The Sky Blue Stars will play hosts to Katsina United and need an outright win to lay claim to that Champions League slot.

On their tails for the same spot are Enyimba and 3SC who are also in the hunt to finish second behind the champions. 
Jonathan Alukwu’s late goal for Sporting Lagos ended the chance of the People’s Elephant avoiding defeat or stretching the title race into the final match. Gbenga Ogunbote’s 3SC also fell to John Bassey’s late goal in Yenagoa as Bayelsa United gave themselves a fighting chance of beating the drop.

Despite their chances of claiming that second spot on the league table, Enyimba, 3SC, and Remo Stars are also in the running for the CAF Confederation Cup should they fail to win their final matches irrespective of results elsewhere.

One of Plateau United and Lobi Stars have outside chances of crashing the party and claiming the third position should the apple cart be upset on the final day of the campaign. Plateau United, however, would rue failing to defeat Kano Pillars on Saturday when they had the chance to do so. Playing with 10 men after Mustapha Salisu was sent off, Rabiu Ali scored for Pillars and Plateau United labored to a 1-1 draw at home after Sam Pam Jr leveled the score.

On the other hand, Lobi Stars had to shake off a tough-as-nail Kwara United side to win 4-3 thanks to Kumaga Suur’s late goal on 85 minutes. Lobi’s form of late makes them outsiders for a top-three finish as they play on the road at Kano Pillars on the final matchday.

SURVIVAL RACE

The final matchday will be interesting at the lower end of the table with eight clubs still yet to confirm their status for next season in the NPFL. Already Gombe United and Heartland have been relegated to the second tier, the Nigeria National League (NNL), but Sunshine Stars, Kano Pillars, Kwara United, and Niger Tornadoes are looking over their shoulders with the like of Bayelsa United, Akwa United, Sporting Lagos, and Doma United breathing down their necks.

Sporting Lagos and Doma United will begin the final matchday in the relegation zone. Doma United suffered a 2-0 defeat at Katsina United, leaving their goal difference looking unhealthy at -15, the worst among the sides battling for survival. Doma United will play hosts to Abia Warriors while Sporting Lagos face 3SC in a tough Southwest Derby at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan on the final day of the season.

Akwa United and Bayelsa United sit just above the drop zone after contrasting results on Matchday 37. The Promise Keepers fell to Sunday Megwo’s goals that sealed a 2-0 win for Abia Warriors while Bayelsa United left it late to see off 3SC 2-1 with Bassey scoring twice in the final 15 minutes. Akwa United have to face Rivers United at their Nest of Champions home ground in Uyo on the final day and Bayelsa United will make the trip to Benin City to play against Bendel Insurance who have just the points to play for.

Unless the final day throws up outrageous outcomes, the quartet of Sunshine Stars, Kano Pillars, Kwara United, and Niger Tornadoes need a point each from their final day matches to keep their places in the top flight for another season. Kano Pillars and Kwara United play at home against Lobi Stars and Heartland respectively while Tornadoes and Sunshine Stars go head-to-head.

As things stand, the outcomes of the penultimate match week have shaped a thrilling finale to the NPFL season.

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FG Committed to translating Youth Expectations into Actionable Policies – Minister of Youth

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Joel Ajayi

Minister of Youth Development, Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim, affirmed that the Federal Government is fully committed to translating the diverse and evolving expectations of the youth into an array of actionable policies that will address their specific needs and aspirations.

The Minister made this known during the Nigerian Youth Consultative Forum, “the Summit of the Future” , held at the United Nations House Auditorium, Abuja.

Dr. Ibrahim said this forum is dedicated to capturing the views and expectations of the youth while collectively addressing their challenges to create a future where every young Nigerian can flourish.

She emphasized that the primary objective of this forum is to diligently gather and comprehensively understand the diverse views and expectations of the youth by collectively addressing their pertinent challenges.

According to the Minister, “Nigeria’s challenges are complex, but not insurmountable. By harnessing the power of technology, fostering entrepreneurship, and championing education and skills development, we can create a vibrant ecosystem where young Nigerians can thrive. We must also prioritize inclusivity, ensuring that our initiatives benefit every segment of society, including marginalized and vulnerable groups,” she stated.

She encouraged young people to be bold in their ideas, fearless in their advocacy, and relentless in their pursuit of a better future, adding that the platform amplifies the voices of Nigerian youth, as well as brings solutions to their challenges.

The Minister further explained that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a blueprint for a better world. However, achieving these goals requires more than just governmental effort; it demands the active participation of every citizen, especially the youth.

Earlier, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo said that the summit provides an opportunity to regain focus and reaffirm a commitment to a multilateral approach that benefits all people and all regions.

He noted that the future summit will be based on the 2023 SDG Summit and enhance global cooperation, which will eventually accelerate progress on the 2030 agenda.

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