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US election: Trump, Biden in tensed battle to the finish

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‘Whether Trump ultimately wins or loses, he has cast a pall on this election, as he calls the very machinery of American democracy into question’

There is a tense wait in the United States and indeed across the world as results of the presidential election are still trickling in.

The BBC reports that the outcome of the election is on a knife edge, with Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden neck and neck in key swing states.

Trump, a Republican, claimed to have won and vowed to launch a Supreme Court challenge, alleging fraud.

Earlier Biden, a Democrat, said he was “on track” to victory.

Millions of votes remain uncounted and no candidate can credibly claim victory as yet. There is no evidence of fraud.

The US is on course for the highest electoral turnout in a century. More than 100 million people cast their ballots in early voting before election day, and tens of millions more added their vote on Tuesday.

With the nation on edge, the final result may not be known for days.

Trump has defied the pre-election polls to do better than predicted, but Biden is still in the race and the overall result is not yet clear.

In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than an overall, single, national one.

To be elected president, a candidate must win at least 270 votes in the electoral college. Each US state gets a certain number of votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 up for grabs.

The president is projected to have held the must-win state of Florida – a major boost to his re-election bid.

The BBC projects Trump will win another conservative sunbelt state, Texas, where the Biden campaign had dreamed of an upset victory.

But Biden could snatch Arizona, a once reliably conservative state. Fox News and the Associated Press have projected Biden will win that state and CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, says it is leaning the Democrat’s way.

A loss for Trump in that previously Republican-voting state would be a potentially serious setback.

The Rust Belt battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – which propelled Trump to the White House four years ago – are very close.

Pennsylvania is considered crucial for Trump if he is to stave off defeat – he has a significant lead there but a large number of mail-in ballots are yet to be counted. Biden has a narrow lead in Wisconsin and the two are almost neck-and-neck in Michigan.

Trump will keep hold of Ohio and Missouri, known as bellwether states because they have so often predicted the eventual winner, according to the BBC’s projection.

He is also projected by the BBC to win Nebraska, though Biden picked up one vote there in the electoral college, which could turn out to be crucial.

No surprises have emerged yet in the other states.

Control of Congress – the two-chamber legislature – is also at stake. As well as the White House, Republicans are vying to hang on to a majority in the Senate. The House of Representatives is expected to stay in Democratic hands.

What are the candidates saying?

Trump hosted an election night gathering inside the White House with about 100 guests.

In a speech at about 02:30 local time (07:30 GMT) he said: “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”

He went on to allege “major fraud on our nation” without providing evidence, adding: “We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court.”

“We want all voting to stop,” the president said, apparently meaning that he wants to block the counting of postal ballots, which can be legally accepted by some state election boards after Tuesday’s election.

Millions of ballots have yet to be counted and there is no evidence of fraud.

His rival’s campaign condemned the president’s statement as “outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect”, calling it a “naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens”.

Earlier, at about 01:00 local time, Biden predicted in a speech to supporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that he would be victorious.

The Democrat said, “We feel good about where we are; we really do. I am here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election.”

He added, “We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished and it ain’t over until every vote, every ballot is counted.”

As his opponent spoke, Trump tweeted from the White House: “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. Twitter labelled the post as potentially “misleading about an election or other civic process”.

A new “non-scalable” fence was put up around the White House ahead of election day. Businesses in the nation’s capital and also in New York City boarded up their premises due to fears of unrest.

Donald Trump has been telegraphing for weeks that if the presidential election were close, he would accuse his Democratic opponents of committing voter fraud and trying to steal victory away from him. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, he did exactly that.

It is the doomsday scenario that many Americans were fearing, where the president of the United States – from the White House itself – would undermine ballot-counting.

It’s a process that stretches on for days after the election even in normal circumstances, where voters haven’t turned to postal or early voting in large numbers because of an ongoing pandemic.

After Trump spoke, Vice-President Mike Pence tried to smooth over his remarks, declining to declare premature victory and insisting that all the legally cast votes will be counted. It was much more in line with how a US leader would be expected to behave in a moment of political uncertainty.

The damage had been done, however. Whether Trump ultimately wins or loses, he has cast a pall on this election, as he calls the very machinery of American democracy into question.

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28 Bethel Baptist students regain freedom, 87 still held

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Bandits have released 28 students abducted Bethel Baptist Academy along Kaduna-Kachia road in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Two of the students had earlier escaped while the bandits had released one on health ground.
The gunmen who invaded the school on July 5th had demanded N500,000 for each of the students.
A total of 121 were abducted.
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna, Rev. John Hayab, said about 80 students were still held captive by the bandits while the released students will be reunited with their families.

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Land use act should be amended not abrogated – Erhabor

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By Dada Jackson

 

The unending controversy surrounding the Land Use Act seems to be escalating by the day considering the furore it is generating in the polity.

Over the years,there has been a clamour for the document to be either amended or completely discarded.

But the argument continues on what to do with the document.

Some professionals and stakeholders in the construction industry have also been expressing divergent views on areas of the document that has to do with the powers of Governors in granting Certificate of Occupancy(CofO) to prospective land seekers.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Independent, a chartered land surveyor, Mr. Gowin Erhabor, said that the act which was a creation of former military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 was to transfer the ownership of land to the government.

According to him,the idea which was lofty, had since been abused by some state Governors to the detriment of some people.

He said he does not subscribe to the outright abrogation of the Act but submitted,that it should be amended especially the section that confers absolute power on state Governors to grant approvals for CofO.

The land surveyor pointed out,that over the years,some Governors have used that power to muscle perceived political opponent’s thereby frustrating their efforts at acquiring and.

He said ” For instance if a Governor does not like the face of someone he sees as his political for,he would do everything at his disposal to deny such an individual yge opportunity of getting a land. This power conferred on Governors in the document us too enormous to allow it continue.I detest thus section of the Act,hence it should be jettisoned without much ado”.

Erhabor however commended the National Assembly for initiating the move to amend the Act,urging them to expedite action on its passage.

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Lagos to set up housing trust fund

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…..Proposed Workers’ Village gathers steam

 

By Dada Jackson

 

In a bid to make housing accessible to the less privileged in Lagos State,and in line with the transformation agenda of the Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration, especially in the area of housing, the Lagos State Government is working on plans to increase access to decent and quality homes for them.

This is as the state government is planning to providing houses for some of its workers to be known as Workers’ Village.

The Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai disclosed this during a site inspection of some of the ongoing State owned Housing Schemes.

His words “Having successfully completed and commissioned 10 housing estates in the past two year, and working hard to deliver our various ongoing schemes, we are moving forward to implement strategies that will improve access to decent homes in the State”.

According to him,the State Government had completed various Housing schemes located at Igando, Lekki Phase1, Lekki Phase 2, Igbokushu, Nob Oluwa, Idale Badagry, Iponri, Igbogbo amongst others,adding that work on six others sited at Odo-Onasa/Ayandelu, Resettlement Scheme Agbowa, Sangotedo Phase1, Omole Magodo, Gbagada and Ibeshe which is being built by the Lagos State Property Development Corporation were nearing completion.

The Commissioner pointed out,that hopefully, the six schemes that are at various stages of completion in Odo Onasa-Ayandelu, Agbowa Resettlement Scheme, Sangotedo,Omole/Magodo, Gbagada and Ibeshe would soon be commissioned while others at LASU Ojo, Egan- Igando and Sangotedo Phase2 were also receiving attention towards a speedy completion.

He said that these schemes with others at Itamarun Epe and Ajara in Badagry as well as joint venture schemes would yield over 7000 homes by the third anniversary of the present Administration.

He said that the positive impact of governmental intervention is hampered by the twin issue of high cost of funding for investors and people seeking home ownership through mortgage.

The Housing Commissioner noted that the State Government was looking into the issue of accessibility of decent homes through a multidimensional approach that would reduce these financial barriers to housing.

He disclosed that the State Government is fine tuning a financial mechanism tagged Lagos Affordable Housing Development Trust Fund. This according to him is a financial product that would bring succour to both property developers and intending home owners.

Akinderu-Fatai said ‘ the Fund will reduce the challenge of

financing housing development as well as empower people particularly the low and medium income earners to access housing without undue financial stress.

He underscored the fact that the housing challenge in Lagos is complex because of the continued and uncontrollable influx of people from all over the nation. He noted that given the rate at which the population of the State is increasing, there must be proactive measures to ensure that governmental interventions result in substantial positive impacts in the lives of the people.

He also reiterated that the Lagos Affordable Housing Development Trust Fund which is being prepared in collaboration with Arctic Infrastructures is the State’s response to the need for financing products that are domesticated to solve it’s peculiar housing challenges.

He said while global financing models are attractive, they may not address the unusual problems of Lagos State.

The Commissioner pointed out that provision of mass and social housing is a key agenda of the State government but the impact can only be felt when there is a structured financing mechanism that is based on predictable population growth.

Apart from the Rent to Own scheme which gives opportunity of repayment over a period of 120 months, the State is also looking at more workable financing options that will help the informal sector.

” We have to formalize the informal sector through cooperative associations and artisans guilds so that majority of our people can take advantage of a financing product that supports instalmental payments”.

The Commissioner also said that the fund would encourage more vertical construction of homes by government and private investors to optimize the land space available in the state.

Akinderu Fatai siezed the opportunity to point out that the commitment of the State government is unequivocal and that “Lagos State would continue to work relentlessly until more Lagosians are brought on the home ownership ladder. Building more homes is our way of improving standard of living , increasing economic engagement through provision of construction jobs and also opening up our rural areas”

He said the State Government plans to construct two workers villages as part of a global plan to transform the State into a 21st century economy that is distinct and comparable to others in the world.

“In line with our passion for progress in the sector, funding is needed and assistance from our development partners will be highly appreciated.” he said

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Housing Mr Wasiu Akewusola, said that “the uniqueness of the financing package is the fact that it will be targeted at low income earners and the informal sector and can be accessed by both construction companies and homeseekers and will be made up of contributions made by both public and private sector. The fund will also cater to training and capacity building and upgrading of artisans, development of innovative building technology, sustenable housing developments and renewable of slums. The suggested funding from government is expected to be sourced from contributions by local governments, subventions, infrastructure development charge, Housing fund surcharge and Lagos Pension fund. Private sector contributions can be in form of grants and donations from both local and international organizations. ”

In disbursing the fund, Akewusola said, “part of the financing would be used as Housing loans with repayment plan of 20years. This will channeled through micro finance banks with cooperative societies serving as intermediaries”. “Construction fund will also be granted to developers having vertical construction with sustenable energy idea, he discloses.

He noted that the idea of a Trust for the financial product is to ensure accountability, credibility and sustenablity.

Other plans that are being worked out by the State include an allocation structure that will reach the masses so that homes are not hijacked by the rich, continued maintenance of existing schemess to prevent rapid dilapidation, provision of homes for young professionals, introduction of cost saving techniques to reduce cost of building homes and increasing sustenability of future Housing schemes.

 

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