President Trump calls Tiger Woods ‘one of the greatest athletes’ as he gives him the Medal of Freedom after his fifth Masters victory

President Donald Trump on Monday evening awarded golfing legend Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor at the White House following his fifth Masters’ victory last month

The president in his speech said that Woods, 43, is ‘one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports’ and has inspired people worldwide with his barrier-breaking victories.

‘He’s also a great person. He’s a great guy,’ Trump declared. ‘He inspired millions of young Americans with his thrilling wire-to-wire victories. Tiger Woods is a global symbol of American excellence, devotion, and drive.’

Trump also pointed out that Woods’ victory in April was ‘record-setting ratings’ for a Masters tournament.

‘We are in the presence of a true legend, an extraordinary athlete who has transformed golf and achieved new levels of dominance,’ he said.

The citation for the award said that Woods was being honored for the 5 Masters tournament’s he’s won, beginning in 1997 when he became the first black man and the youngest golfer ever to clinch the title. He won again in 2019, becoming the second-oldest champ.

After receiving the Medal of Freedom, an emotional Tiger said: ‘You’ve seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, and I would not be in this position without all your help,’ he told his family. ‘I’ve battled, I try to hang in there, and I’ve tried to come back and play the great game of golf again.’

The ceremony was attended by Tiger’s girlfriend Erica Herman, his mother, Kultida Woods, his daughter Sam, 11, and son Charlie 10.

Chinese firm allegedly sacks workers over refusal to practise Buddhism

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The management of a Chinese firm, Yiwu Baolian Import and Export Company Limited in Lagos have been accused of terminating the appointment of some of their staff who refused to practice their religion, Buddhism.

Some members of staff of the company who spoke to Punch, said the owner of the company, a Chinese woman named Fanni Lijuan, introduced Buddhism at the company’s office on Irede Road, Abule Osun, in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State, and has allegedly compelled them to bow to worship her Buddha and that anyone who refuses to bow would be dismissed immediately.

One of the employees, who identified himself simply as Olaniyi said

“The issue is that Fanni Lijuan brought Buddhism to the office; she puts us in front of a projector that showed us how to practise Buddhism and we were asked to bow to the teacher. They also read some books to us, but before reading, we were asked to bow three times. Employees who refused to bow have been sacked; in fact, last week Monday, they sacked two people and the company’s excuse was that it was restructuring and it did not need the affected workers’ services anymore. The workers were sacked because they refused to bow down; and after the company sacked them, the management threatened other employees that if we did not bow to the teacher, we would be similarly sacked.

She (Lijuan) usually says bowing is a sign of respect and the practise is for us to be good persons. But does it mean that the people they employed don’t have respect before now? Is it that adults who have graduated from the university do not have respect? She’s trying to convert us to Buddhism; this is wrong and against our religions and traditions in Nigeria, where freedom of worship is guaranteed.  For instance, when we were in school, they would tell us to join social clubs and before you know it, you are into cultism; that’s exactly what she is doing and we are trying to avoid it. Even the manager, who is supposed to stand up for us, gave in because she threatened to sack him.”

One of the staff who was recently sacked, said their boss introduced the religious practice to them in 2017.

“Our madam started this Buddhism practise in the office last year; she started by giving us lectures and asked us to be taking notes. We also listened to voices we didn’t know. Recently, she got to the stage of asking us to bow, but I refused. So, she gave me one month’s salary and sacked me and some others. When they laid me off, I was not bothered because I am not ready to bow to anything other than God. Even if she didn’t sack me, I would have quit. But the danger is that some workers have already compromised; they have bowed because they don’t want to be sacked; and now, they are working in fear. This is bad; we can’t be in our country and be treated like that. In Nigeria, nobody can force you to worship their gods. It is only in Nigeria that a foreigner will come to do something like that. The reason you still have some people in that company is because there are no jobs outside there; we are suffering.”

A former store keeper of the company, Raphael Ewiri, who was also sacked for refusing to practice Buddhism, said

“Mrs Fanni Lijuan told everyone of us that there was a new way of showing humility according to the Chinese tradition and that we had to bow three times before and after lectures in appreciation of the Chinese sages that brought about the wisdom that had been in existence for 4,000 to 5,000 years. I felt like why should I bow three times before and after lectures? She feels not bowing is a sign of pride; she called me to her office one day and asked why we were not bowing. She was trying to cajole me that it was not religious, but a sign of humility. One day, Mrs Lijuan brought me out in front of everybody; the auditor said we should all bow to the ancient, saying she was expecting me to bow. I didn’t because I never promised her that i would bow. So, when she took the first bow, she was surprised that I didn’t bow; she was very annoyed.”

Lijuan however denied the allegation, accusing her workers of lying against her. Accoridng to her, she found out that most of them were disrespectful and wanted to teach them how to be respectful. She says bowing down while greeting indicates respect and that is what she is trying to teach them.

“I never introduced Buddhism; they are just lying. What I observed is that some of the workers are very arrogant; even their body language shows that they are not respectful. So, we are learning some ways of living; humility and respect; and what I want them to do is a sign of humility – bow your body and stop being arrogant. I did not sack anyone because they did not bow; it is totally wrong. I never told anyone to leave Christianity or Islam to practise any other religion. We have Christians and Muslims in the company; I am a Buddhist and I want to create harmony among the different religions; that’s what I want to do in this company.”

 

Federal government summons envoy over closure of Nigerians’ shops in Ghana

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday summoned the High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria, Amb Rashid Bawa, over the continued closure of over 400 Nigerian shops in Ghana.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Ghanaian envoy was invited to give a definitive explanation on the treatment of Nigerian traders in that country.

The closure of over 400 Nigerian businesses in Ghana had sparked protest by National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG).

Onyema said: “There had been some horror stories that we have been hearing and a case of suicide of Nigerian lady and when this broke out the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana came here.”

He said: “And we were assured that Nigerians were not the target and that efforts were being made to calm the situation.

“Again in New York, assurances were made by President Nana Akufo-Addo and we were shown the text that the shops that have been closed that belong to Nigerians would be reopened.”

He noted with concern that there were, however, conflicting reports on the reopening of Nigerian traders’ shops in Ghana.

Onyeama said a committee was being set up at a highest level in Nigeria to look into the matter and to look at how, as a government, how to respond to the situation.

“And, we said as part of understanding of what the situation is now legally and factually, to give this opportunity to brief us on the current situation,” he said.

He said: “The Ghanaian envoy was invited to give the opportunity to brief us on current situation” on the closure of Nigerian businesses in that country.

The High Commissioner, in his response, said he visited the areas that experienced distress by Nigerian traders.

Bawa confirmed that about 80 to 85 per cent of shops that were locked had been re-opened and that the exercise was still ongoing.

He said the Ghanaian authorities were also making efforts to ensure that Nigerian traders who were conducting businesses in Ghana were registered and had resident permits.