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I’m Glad Chelsea Signed Cucurella, Says Tuchel



Chelsea coach, Thomas Tuchel, has reacted to the signing of Marc Cucurella.

Tuchel described Cucurella as a fantastic player who can play in several positions in the Chelsea squad.

Chelsea officially announced the signing of Cucurella from Brighton & Hove Albion.

The 24-year-old signed a six-year deal with Chelsea.

Reacting, Tuchel, during his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League tie with Everton on Saturday, said: “He is a fantastic, young player. Hungry, mobile, very intelligent player. Can play several positions in our system.

“Absolutely, it helps in-depth and especially for Ben Chilwell to escape the pressure of ‘I have to deliver. We need you absolutely now’. We have, of course, also in this position Marcos Alonso, Kenedy and Emerson.”

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Thepledge Big Story: 2023: Can Wike Survive Outside PDP?



By Augustine Akhilomen

The past few weeks have seen Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike become one of the most talked about politicians in the country, due to his perceived cold war with the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the aftermath of the party’s presidential primary.

His romance with top figures of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), had also fueled speculations of his alleged plans to defect to the APC.

The outspoken governor who is never shy to speak his mind, appears to have become a toast of the ruling party, going by the number of APC governors that have visited him in the ‘Brick House’ ahead of the 2023 election.

The governors who met with Wike recently include Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Ekiti, Ondo, and Lagos states, respectively. Others in their entourage were the Ekiti State Governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji; former Ekiti State governor and PDP chieftain, Ayodele Fayose, among others.

Just last week, Sanwo-Olu was in Rivers State to join Wike in commissioning some of his completed projects, which in real sense should have been an event that a governor from the PDP should have done.

However, questions have been asked on whether Wike can survive outside PDP? It’s indeed a question that should be agitating the minds of discerned Nigerians and close watchers of the political terrain. Will he defect or he has just been grandstanding all this while to shake a party that is desperate to take over Aso Villa once again?

On Monday, the CEO of Ovation Magazine and former Presidential aspirant, Dele Momodu appealed to Wike to reject any attempt to dump the PDP for APC. Momodu made this known in an interview with Channels TV, where he noted that Wike remains a very strong and loyal party member regardless of the current situation.

Momodu who also contested in their party’s presidential primary alongside Wike, described him as a principled politician.

His words: “For me, Governor Wike is a very principled man; if there’s one thing he has been consistent about, it is his love for PDP; I believe he will not leave PDP. He is playing a mind game and he’s good at it. What shall he profit him if he joins APC?

“The situation in PDP shows what Wike is in the equation of things in Nigeria. If you have a man who is your best governor across the board, across party lines, Wike stands out as a fantastic performer.

“Today, the fear of Wike is the beginning of wisdom in PDP, there is no question about that. Wike is smart, he knows the game he’s playing, and what he wants to do is to force a deal with the party. That’s my own reading of the situation. He is a very smart politician. I’m sure eventually the party will reach an agreement with him.”

Momodu further called on presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, to have a one-on-one meeting with Wike to resolve the crisis rocking the party.

Most importantly, Momodu urged Governor Nyesom Wike of River State to thread softly before it becomes too late. The Ovation Publisher made the plea in a statement titled, “My Kobo Advice to Governor Nyesom Wike,” which he issued via his verified Instagram handle last week Thursday.

“Many politicians survive only on power. My Brother, I love you. But someone must be able to tell you the truth. No General fights on too many fronts. Please, apply the brakes, before it is too late,” he said.

Interestingly, key stakeholders from the opposition party have engaged the Rivers governor in a reconciliation move with Atiku to appease his conscience and also appeal to him to put the interest of the party above all considerations; And also for him to put his grievances behind him for the unity and interest of the party. But it appears Wike is not satisfied with what the party is putting on the table.

Beside this, there had been reports that the Rivers State governor had asked for the sack of Ayu for his alleged biased disposition towards him. Tensions were so high that some NEC members also called for the sack of Ayu. But to ease the tension, Thepledge gathered that the party advised that both the NEC and the national caucus meetings be suspended to allow for further reconciliations.

Like or loathe him, Wike is one man who can be described in these two words: controversial and bold. He is one governor who has stood out from the crowds who pander and whimper to the whims and caprices of the powers that be at Aso Rock.

The strong man of Rivers State who has been given several sobriquets, like the ‘Lion of Rivers’, ‘The Fearless Tiger’, Mr. Project and the ‘Rivers Bulldozer’ but the moniker that has become consistent with his ever animated mien is that of ‘Total Chairman’ which he earned during his tenure as the Rivers State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under Dr Peter Odili as governor.

Wike, who later became the Minister of State for Education eventually emerged the Governor of Rivers State in 2015 after defeating Dakuku Peterside, an ally of his former boss, and now Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

Since then, he has continued to engage Amaechi in a running battle for the soul of the State and, more often than not, coming out on top. Such has been his dexterity in the murky waters of politics that he has become so controversial and at the same time amiable to many people.

His unbridled tongue and uninhibited temperance is seen by many as not the trademark of a politician holding the position of a governor but for Wike, he lives, sleeps, wakes and breathes controversy and storms, and is never afraid of taking on anyone.

It’s still unlikely that he will defect to the ruling party given the unpredictability of the terrain. There are even reports that the leaders of the PDP in Rivers are not comfortable with his attempt to impose his protégé on them and have vowed to work against him at the poll.

How easy it will be for him to be in the same party with his political foe, Amaechi, is yet to be seen, but it’s unlikely that he would be as influential as he currently is in PDP.

“His excesses will be checked by the big wigs in the APC if he decides to dive and that might not go down well with him”, says Tope Ayodele, an Ondo PDP chieftain.

Even if the ruling party embraces him at this point, their objective will be how to use him to get votes in the South South. The APC may dump him after using him to get votes if what happened to the likes of Senators Bukola Saraki, Dino Melaye and Governor Tanbuwal is anything to go by.

As it is, Wike will have to decide the path he wants to tread before and after the 2023 general elections. His political future is tied to that of his party for now. He will be committing political suicide to try to jump without being pushed. The nature and character of Nigeria politics presupposes that one looks very well before you leap.

Of course, the reality will dawn on him after May 2023, when he will no longer be in power and the resources will not be readily available to throw around. It is then he will know when and how to open his mouth. Beyond that, is the fact that his decision could well affect the chances of his party at both the state and presidential elections.

For sure, it is in the interest of Wike to stay in PDP, a party that made him and put him in this position of influence, than gambling with what might nail and make him inconsequential in a post-2023 political era.

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2023: He’ll Overcome Tinubu Without Spending N50bn, Peter Obi’s Camp Replies Fayose’s Brother



The camp of Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi has informed Isaac Fayose that he is living in the past.

The brother of ex-Ekiti governor Ayo Fayose had stated that Obi would need N50billion to defeat Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a rejoinder on Wednesday, the LP flagbearer’s media office said those obsessed with structure and money politics are refusing to face the reality.

It said that what is required is not N50 billion or “procured structure”, but human beings who are the victims of the previous “so-called structures”.

“The Obedient Movement is powered by human beings as represented in the Labour Party logo – Father, Mother and Child – not money. Human beings are far more bigger resources.”

The office drew Fayose’s attention to the Kenya presidential election where 55-year-old William Ruto of the young United Democratic Alliance defeated 77-year-old Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement formed in 2005.

The statement noted that Ruto’s party has no member in the Senate of 67 lawmakers, and only one member in the 349-member Assembly.

“Odinga’s party has 20 members in the 67-member Senate and 76 of 349 Assembly members but these structures could not deliver him above the rookie party of Ruto.

“Ruto had human beings and social media structure behind him while Odinga had the support of the ruling party, backing of the President and government of Kenya, their entire structures and money.”

Obi’s camp said the huge lesson from Kenya should prove to Fayose and all those thinking like him that “age is a factor, money is not; social media is a factor and structure is not”.

The media office added that the LP candidate and his running mate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed are on a mission to dismantle political structures that have held Nigeria down over time.

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You Lied Against Me, Ronaldo Blasts Media



Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the “lies” surrounding reports about his future at Manchester United.

The Portugal forward missed United’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia due to personal reasons as speculation swirled over whether he would be leaving Old Trafford.

It has been reported Ronaldo wants to play Champions League football, but United maintains the 37-year-old is not for sale and remains an integral part of the plans of new boss Erik ten Hag.

The former Real Madrid star played the full 90 minutes of United’s 4-0 defeat at Brentford on Saturday, which left them bottom of the Premier League.

In a reply to a fan account on Instagram that referred to a report linking the United frontman to Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo said fans would “know the truth” in a couple of weeks, adding: “The media is telling lies.”

“I have a notebook and in the last few months of the 100 news I made, only five were right. Imagine how it is. Stick with that tip.”

Manchester United will seek to kickstart their Premier League campaign when they host fierce rivals, Liverpool, on Monday.

United’s owners, the Glazer family, have come under fire following the team’s terrible start.

Former United defender Gary Neville has warned the club could finish in the bottom half of the Premier League if they do not address their “horror story” recruitment strategy.

Manchester United supporters’ group ‘The 1958’ is planning a protest march outside Old Trafford against the club’s owners ahead of the Liverpool match.

In a statement, the group said the ownership was “systematically starving and killing the greatest football institution in world football, for greed”.

“We appreciate emotions are running high,” it added. “We must keep it legal, we must keep it peaceful…. Bring the heat, bring the noise, bring the passion. Let’s show the Glazer family that this time it will not blow over.”

Billionaire Elon Musk sparked a social media frenzy on Tuesday evening when he raised the prospect of buying United from the Glazer family.

The Tesla CEO made the comment in a tweet, then later clarified his position by saying he had no intention of buying a sports team and that it had been a “long-running joke

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