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Four test playing nations. A former World Number One lost its way to experience one of the lowest points in the annals of their sporting history. In recent times, a supremely insurmountable side at home became more prone to defeats. A team famously regarded as the most volatile side to have taken the field endured isolation and wilderness in the Arabian deserts. A team deemed misfit started making significant strides that the world took note of. These are tumultuous yet exciting times for the test playing nations from the subcontinent.

One day, the leaves wither as they turn old. India and Sri Lanka are primarily experiencing this phase. There are more greens on their tree today. Pakistan is almost in a situation where the leaves are about to fall. The cricketing expiry for Misbah and Younus is much closer than what it was yesterday. Take the story of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for example. The chances of comeback become slim for the veteran sportsmen moment the form slips away. As long as the fire in the lamp withstands the external pressure of the winds, these legendary players can continue writing more pages in their autobiographies.

 

India, now in the Sri Lankan shores, are all set to be challenged in conditions they are more familiar of. Ever since the dramatic 8-0 whitewashes in 2011-12, India showed mild signs of recovery. They have had to reshuffle the batting line up ever since the glorious trinity signed off along with the famous Delhi openers who seem to have lost their mojo. Fortunately, they have managed to construct another batting order which a lot of top ranked test countries can feel jealous about. But that’s about the best part of the segment that the team can feel proud of. As a unit, the losses at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia meant that the slide wasn’t arrested. With the one-off Bangladesh test abandoned due to rain, this Lankan tour is the beginning of a two year journey around the rivers and mountains of the sub-continent.

With a new leader and with the Board all set to soon announce the new coach, who would be the man to plot the route map for the future, India’s test resurgence is in tricky waters. The followers of the sport in the mad nation have had a long break since the IPL. Since IPL they have had to endure an ignominious one-day tour of Bangladesh. It has been the longest break for the team for a long time. Kohli has promised that he will play five bowlers thus thrusting more responsibility both on the top and the lower order batsmen. So far, Kohli’s approach as a leader has been all about making the moves to create a positive result. The aggressive attitude now goes a step further to embolden and empower the players with more trust and responsibility. It is time for his players to contribute with a very conscious mindset craving for consistency. With more matches scheduled in the sub-continent, the onus would be on the spinners to take lead with the attack.

On the other side of the border, Pakistan’s resurgence in test cricket has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is no easy task to defend at the adopted home as well as to beat the Lankans in their territory. Significantly, the batsmen contributed crucial runs for their bowlers to pick twenty wickets. After a relentless search for steady batsmen who build their game on temperament, Pakistan seem to have solved the puzzle. Ahmed Shehzad’s ability to convert starts into hundreds has provided a reasonable stability at the top of the order. Shan Masood, is still very young. But he showed enough gumption to convince about his ability and temperament. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been the biggest finds for Pakistan cricket in recent times. They have been the pillars around whom the game revolves. The best part about the two is that, they emerge from a different school of cricket where calmness and patience are considered as stepping stones for success. Shafiq and Ali have both tasted success and have good knowledge of what it takes to score hundreds in test matches. Between Shafiq and Ali, come the most experienced Pakistani pair of Younus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq. While they both don’t seem to come close to an end with their careers, Pakistan’s fresh approach in ODIs gives a good look into their batting resources when the legends call it a day. That Pakistan completed a rout in Sri Lanka, defeating the hosts in all formats of the game, shows that the team is experiencing a positive growth. After the final T20, there were great scenes of camaraderie and team bonding. Importantly, Pakistan have showed that they enough stomach for challenge and hunger for victory.

The inclusion of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle order is the single most powerful addition for their line-up. Teams are prone to produce inconsistent results if they carry a lot of flashy batsmen. Such batsmen will change the complexion of the game within a session or two. Since their approach can’t be tempered, it would be difficult to expect them play a fighting innings. Sarfaraz, amazingly, can play both roles. He has lent fire to the batting order that finally found solidity and method to their game.

While Pakistan need not worry about the fast bowler produce, Saeed Ajmal’s exit from the scene could have spelt dooms for any team. Yasir Shah’s emergence as an attacking leg spinner smoothened the transition. Yasir Shah provides Misbah with both control and strike force. When the batsmen succeed, Shah becomes a bigger prospect for Pakistan’s success. The way he bowled in Sri Lanka on not so friendly surfaces was a display of his stern character and his ability to play according to the conditions.

Pakistan’s biggest challenge, though, is yet to arrive. They have slowly begun to become a strong opponent in home conditions. But just like how the challenge was for India, or for that matter any other subcontinent team, Pakistan’s ability to survive and succeed will be tested on a bigger scale when they play in Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.

The latest victim of the Bangladesh assault were the South Africans. Not so long ago, Bangladesh gave both India and Pakistan a rude lesson that told the world that they have finally arrived. While Bangladesh’s resurgence has mostly been in the ODIs, they made some impression when they bowled out South Africa for under 250 and took an important lead in the first test at Dhaka. The promise that Bangladesh have shown in the past six months only makes us believe that the team has matured heads who are ready to act responsibly for team’s success now. At the helm of affairs is Hathurusinghe, who is carving a legacy of his own with this resurgence. The coach has gone the long yards to make his team believe that they definitely can. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza have absorbed enough quality of international cricket, that they can be the torch bearers for Bangladesh cricket now. These players have shown immense maturity in taking ownership on the field and guiding the younger ones in the best way possible.

Considering the following that Bangladesh have in their backyard, it was going to be impossible for them to never improve. All this while, the stars who are torch bearers today were seeking inspiration to grow bigger. Their heroes never made it big. They got back home defeated again and again.

With Australia touring Bangladesh next, there wouldn’t be a better measure of their progress than testing it against Australia’s Gold Standard.

Sri Lanka have a problem aplenty. It is a mixed scenario that each of India and Pakistan have experienced for a long time. Under Angelo Mathews, this Lankan team is taking baby steps with their resurgence. The best aspect of this resurgence has been the performance of their fast bowlers. The tank is full with quality that Mathews can afford to prepare fast and seaming tracks for their bowlers to achieve desired results. Dhammika Prasad has come of age. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have had their moments. Twenty three year old Chameera, especially, has come for a lot of praise. Along with the captain himself, Sri Lanka’s pace attack are in good shape for the present and for the immediate future.

But their real concerns come with their batsmen. Jayawardane is gone. Dilshan is gone. So will Sangakkara by the end of this month. While the batting has shown odd sparks with Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews continues to be the lynch pin in this batting order. The replacements and the next-in-line are the players who have been there with the team earlier. Jehan Mubarak’s and Upul Tharanga’s selections gives away the fact that the older men who were discarded before, continue to be the best of the lot to play test cricket. Sangakkara’s fear in the loss of quality in the first class cricket, is well placed. If the structure can’t produce new talents then there is something wrong that needs to be fixed at the earliest.

The Lankans trust Chandimal and Thirimanne a lot. While they have been impressive in shorter formats, both players need to raise their hands up now to shoulder responsibility. The series against India, is hence going to be very crucial for these two players. If both of them fail to make any mark, the middle order will be in tatters.

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Youths Confirm #EndSARS Protests Hijacked By Politicians, Anti-Nigeria Forces To Destabilize The Country

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Some youth leaders, social media influencers and non-governmental organisations have confirmed that the #EndSARS protests across the country were hijacked by politicians and anti-Nigeria forces to destabilise the nation.

The group, under the auspices of March4Nigeria movement, also vowed to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at a town hall meeting on Saturday in Abuja.

In a communique jointly signed by Olusegun Oloruntoba, Comrade Ibrahim Musa and Sunday Attah, its chairman, secretary and member respectively, the group said it drew its conclusion from participants who experienced significant violence and disruptions during the period.

According to the group, a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs financed the protests while renowned clergymen, social media influencers and celebrities incited the populace.

Contrary to reports, however, the youths said the Federal Government was “responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians”.

While urging the FG to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest, the group reaffirmed that there was no massacre anywhere in the country.

As part of its resolution, the youth appealed to the FG to actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed while also urging the #EndSARS protesters to halt the mass action.

Read full communique below:

OBSERVATIONS

Participants at the meeting recounted that Nigeria experienced significant violence and disruptions in October as a result of protests tagged #EndSARS by protesters. The protests originally began as demands for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force because of the serial cases of highhandedness, brutality and human right abuses by operatives of the unit. In response to a five-point demand from the protesters, which the government agreed to meet, SARS was disbanded with other measures being announced.

They recounted that the #EndSARS was subsequently highjacked by multiple interests that then continued to randomly shift the goalposts by altering the demands while also refusing to name representatives or leaders to dialogue with the government. It was noted that the refusal to name representatives or leaders for the protests was a red flag that should have alerted the Federal Government and the rest of the world to the dark intents of those that orchestrated crisis for Nigeria.

Participants revealed how the protests were well funded across multiple cities such that protesters were being transported to locations in addition to being fed with delicious and expensive meals. Those identified to have at various times financed the protests included: a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs. Incitement was done by renowned clergymen, social media influencers, opposition leaders and celebrities. The protesters became belligerent and began obstructing major roads to cause discomfort to Nigerians and sabotage the economy.

It was noted that under yet to be fully comprehended circumstances, pandemonium occasioned by reported gunshots at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos state on October 20, 2020, was used as ground zero for the start of industrial-scale arson, looting and killing of innocent persons. The incident was also used to kick off a major international offensive against the country to force international sanctions.

In the aftermath of the Lekki incident, security personnel have been targeted, attacked and killed in addition to the more than N250 billion in damages while the true economic toll is projected to be in the region of N3 trillion. The protesters continued to insist that Mr President must address them while accusing the government of not being responsive.

It was also found out that the mob was not mindless as previously thought. A fugitive terrorist and leader of the proscribed terrorist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu actively coordinated the attacks on businesses while the leaders of the hit squads reported back to him.

This orgy of arson took place even though the protesters were never able to substantiate their claim of a massacre. After a night of misplaced and misdirected outrage, the nation woke up the following day to not find any corpse even when the protesters had alleged that 78 persons were killed; Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwoolu confirmed there were no casualties from the pandemonium; one of the instigators, Enough is Enough (EiE), recanted its earlier claim that CCTV cameras were sabotaged before the incident as it admitted what was removed from the plaza were plate number cameras that the operator removed for safekeeping upon learning that protesters were going to vandalize the place; the billboard that was turned off as a matter of business decision and not on the directive of the state as protesters had alleged; the entire claim of Lekki Toll Plaza massacre was a hoax choreographed by one Obianuju Catherine Udeh (DJ Switch).

The global outrage was heightened by the deployment of fake news that included sharing of pictures from movies and presenting them as causalities from the protests, publication of pictures of accident causalities and claiming they died in the protests, re-circulation of old media and claiming the incidents portrayed in them happened in the protests. Local and international media have fallen for these fake news items, especially on their online and social media platforms, without having the courtesy to apologize and make corrections when they found out that they misled their audiences. Furthermore, there has been a deliberate blackout on reporting the atrocities of the protesters as they loot and commit arson – where there is any report they are conveniently explained away as hoodlums that infiltrated the protests.

Several nations: The United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the European Union and other countries have condemned Nigeria without getting the correct details of what transpired. The United Nations, African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International and other organizations have similarly erred. US politicians, Joe Bidden, Hilary Clinton, members of US Congress, members of the UK Parliament, foreign celebrities amongst others have made interventions without the benefit of facts. The ignorance on the part of the above-identified was exacerbated by the international media organizations, like the CNN, which threw away journalistic ethics to act as channels for purveying fake news.

President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation as a father. He has demonstrated that the government is saddened by the losses arising from the protests even as he confirmed that the demands of the protesters were already being met before the protests were hijacked by criminals. His speech assured that Nigeria will weather the storm. The many youth initiatives of his administration he revealed deserve to be supported and promoted.

NOTES

After exhaustive deliberations on the observations made, participants noted that:

The protests were hijacked by hoodlums, which appears to be the original plans of the organizers, who had refused to identify leaders or representatives to dialogue with the government.

The protests were exploited by cyber terrorists, bandits and clout chaser on the internet, who leveraged the anonymity provided by online platforms to incite unsuspecting youth to attack their own country.

The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government was responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians.

There was no massacre anywhere in Nigeria; a massacre would have been there for everyone to see as opposed to the situation where the protesters resorted to revisionism in their desperation to make their claim pass integrity test in the face of lacking evidence.

Federal Government needs to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest with a few to identifying and dismantling the IPOB cells that were used to trigger mayhem in Lagos state.

RESOLUTIONS

Participants at the #March4Nigeria Town Hall Meeting resolved that:

#March4Nigeria will actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed by the Federal Government and will make suggestions for modifications and expansions as may be necessary with an insistence that there must be timelines and milestones to ensure that the process is not stalled.

All protests relating to #EndSARS are suspended going forward while the youth embrace constructive engagements with the government to give time for the implementation of reforms. To ensure transparency, details of engagements with government will be shared real-time using the advantage of virtual platforms.

#March4Nigeria calls on the international community and all the international media that reported hoaxes about the #EndSARS protests to fact check and publish retractions to their misleading reports.

#March4Nigeria demands that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the European Union the United Nations, African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International, Joe Bidden, Hilary Clinton, members of US Congress, members of the UK Parliament and foreign celebrities that had recriminated Nigeria should withdraw their misguided statements and stick to facts in the future.

#March4Nigeria will set up a support system to provide counselling, emotional support and treatment for #EndSARS protesters who may be suffering psychological disconnection from reality and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the wake of their failed attempt to sabotage Nigeria; DJ Switch will be prioritized for support owing to the tendencies she is exhibiting, which makes it necessary to recommend that she and others like her be placed on suicide watch.

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#EndSARS Protests: Patriotic Elders Rally Support For Buhari, Say Nigeria Must Come First Before Other Interests

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The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) have thrown their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that the country comes first before other interests.

The group’s backing, contained in a statement signed by Alhaji Ari Gwaska on Friday, follows public reactions that trailed the EndSARS protests across the country.

Recall that some governors had expressed maximum support for President Buhari amidst pressure from Nigerians and the international community.

The Northern States Governors’ Forum called on all Nigerians to resist what they described as enemies of the nation by supporting the president

And according to PEC, the arson, crime and violent dimension that accompanied the mass action is “condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian”.

The group said, ” there is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy”.

The PEC further said elder statesmen such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face judgement someday.

The patriotic elders noted that youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.

The group, however, urged them to maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country as it is their only worthy asset.

Read the full statement below:

The ugly dimension of the on-going #EndSARS protests in some parts of the country over the unlawful acts of the Nigeria Police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should disturb every patriotic Nigerian. We acknowledge the intricate abuses and unprofessional conducts of SARS over the years, precipitating the protests.

The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) also immensely appreciates the endurance of Nigerians, particularly youths who constitute the bulk of our agile population, worse hit by the unlawful acts of Police brutality and extrajudicial killings as signposted by SARS operatives.  Nigerians deserve empathy and the anger is justified. We align with President Muhammadu Buhari and the youths that there is every need to address the abnormalities, restructure and reform the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) entirely.

By it, in the last few days, President Buhari has taken active steps in this direction in the wake of the #EndSARS to assuage the protesters and Nigerians in respect to the demands placed before the government. These include the immediate disbandment of SARS, the dismissal and commencement of prosecution of suspected erring SARS operatives and a directive to State Governors to constitute Judicial Panels of Inquiry for aggrieved Nigerians to make submissions of the rights abuses by SARS officials, with a promise to restructure and reform the NPF immediately.

However, despite these measures, the #EndSARS protests have refused to abate and unfortunately have become violent and bloody, especially in some Southern states. The killings, arsons, destructions, breach of the public peace, law and order, the brigandage and carnages have posed a serious threat to national cohesion and security.

The metamorphosis of the #EndSARS protests into areas alien and incompatible with the original reasons instigating the protests signifies a bad omen. It shows some vested political interests are sponsoring and fueling the mayhem in the country for devious reasons to achieve ulterior motives.

Nigeria generally has been volatile in the period preceding the 2019 general elections, and we all know, some non-state actors secretly plotted to inflict heavy violence and bloodshed on Nigerians. But God averted the doomsday and President Buhari acted proactively to maintain public peace, safety and security throughout the conduct of the elections.

We are conscious of the fact that some political actors defeated in the general elections have nursed a permanent grudge against the victors. It is also undeniable that several underground failed plots have been orchestrated by some political undertakers to make Nigeria ungovernable. It is stating the obvious.

Therefore, the transmutation of #EndSARS protests into violence and bloodshed, in apparent abuse of democratic liberties is gleaned from this prism. And the refusal of the protesters to listen to the voice of reason, in preference for killings and destructions of public and private assets of Nigerians have a strong cord to the existing disenchantments by unjustifiably disgruntled elements in the country.

There is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy. The happenings in the country now are condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian. The fire we have ignited in the country and on ourselves cannot be left for government alone to extinguish. It is our collective responsibility to calm frayed nerves, right the perceived wrongs and ensure peace and security returns to our country.

This is not the right time to sit on the fence, make public inflammatory and inciting statements to embolden the protesters, hoodlums, hooligans and criminal elements to cause more harm and destructions. It smacks of beating the drums of war which will do no one any good. At such trying times, people look unto leaders, serving or past for direction and solace.

To this end, we find the public statements credited to former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other elder statemen reckless, inciting and wayward. We are particularly piqued at Obasanjo’s irreligious fabrication of lies against President Buhari by accusing it of neglecting the youths, which has led to the agitations. Buhari is a youth-friendly President and there is abundant evidence everywhere in the various subsisting national youth empowerment schemes in the country.

Nothing can be so dishonest as that claim by a former Nigerian leader like Obasanjo.  If Nigeria has found itself at the crossroads now because of massive youth unemployment and frustrations, Obasanjo is a major culprit. When he served, the ex-President dubiously sold all public companies, industries and national assets to himself and cronies. He callously squandered Nigeria’s treasures and mortgaged the future.  It is uncharitable for the same leader to berate President Buhari who is struggling very hard to re-fix Nigeria and repair the destructions he caused while in office. To now incite protesting youths with such reckless and callous comments is an indication of a mockery of the same compatriots he feigns to speak for their interest. Obasanjo has the reputation of a spoiler and destroyer, but tacitly seeking to bolster youths to compromise national security is very unpatriotic and senseless.

Elder statesmen like Obasanjo and his likes, who are delightfully cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face God’s judgement someday. And we believe the verdict would be harsh and history can never forgive them.

The incensed elders calling for war should have a rethink. And youths persuaded and goaded into destructive acts against their country and people should remember, they have no other country than Nigeria. PEC makes bold to reiterate that no nation survives a civil war twice. Nigerian youths must rise above the instincts of self-destruction.

PEC calls on protesting youths to sheathe the sword and embrace dialogue at all levels. We are pleading with our children to quit the streets. Youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.

Therefore, Nigerian youths must maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country.  It is their only worthy asset. War can never be a substitute for peace or any magnitude of frustration.  Those who are out to destroy Nigeria will be put to shame.

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CSG, Yoruba Youths Back Arewa Youths on National Unity, Peaceful Co-Existence

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The apex Yoruba youth group, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide alongside the Coalition of Southern Group (CSG) have expressed support for the proposal by the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) to strengthen the national peaceful dialogue and unity.

In a statement signed Friday in Abuja by the President of Yoruba youths, Aare Oladotun Hassan, said there is need to urgently and collectively address the varying degrees of issues of mutual interests.

“While reiterating the issue of insecurity is most important matter on the table, while we see the hydraheaded challenges of FSARS, with much emphasis for its scrapping in the Southern Nigeria, based on recorded excessive highhandedness, serial extra judicial killings and wanton corruption, we must as well consider its positive vantages too in fighting the dreaded scourge of terrorism, banditry, cultism and other violent crimes in Nigeria.

“Hence, the need for a deliberate call for a National Security Dialogue on State of the nation, for we cannot afford to go back to the locusts days of street armed robbery and violent crimes.

“While withdeep heart of grieve, we commiserate with the families and friends of the heroes and martyrs of the struggle of #LekkiEnsarsMasacre.

“It goes to say that we seek out explanation from the Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff to jointly explain who authorized the monumental disaster of of 20-10-2020.

“With deep regret and disappointment, we eqaully condemn the lies of ‘No Casualty of loss of lives” from Governor Babajide Sanwolu of Lagos State, it indeed shows proven lack of empathy and understanding of the magnitudes of the offense against humanity.

“This is crystal clear genocide committed against harmless and peaceful protesters.

“It is high time we workout a best solution approach towards resolving the growing tide of violence and arsons, particularly within Southern regions, hence the need to join our voices with the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) for fundamental demands for police reforms and adequate funding.”

While expressing displeasure over what is described as misguided looting of shops and other ugly activities, the group said: “We are displeased with the invasion and removal of starf of office of Oba of Lagos and burning of the palace of Oba Elemoro in Ibeju Lekki by hoodlums who took advantage of the Endsars protest to wreck monumental havocs and irreparable attacks on our High courts, local government secretariats, police stations and Area ‘J’ Commands, mass destructions of government infrastructures across the country built with tax payers money.

“We therefore take a joint stand with our Northern friends onthe end insecurity campaign, as a matter of necessity, indeed we did all to avert this double jeopardy but yet the inevitable occurred.”

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