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US: Buhari, Obasanjo, Jonathan join world leaders to congratulate Joe Biden

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  • Kamala Harris makes history  as first female vice president-elect in US
  • Trump vows to contest results in court Monday

President Muhammadu Buhari, former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan and many world leaders have rushed to congratulate Joe Biden on winning a nail-biting US presidential election, even as President Donald Trump who has refused to concede has vowed to challenge the results of the election in court from Monday November 09, 2020.

President Buhari in his message said Biden was elected as new President of the United States “at a time of uncertainty and challenges in world affairs.”

He, however, noted, “Your election is a significant reminder that democracy is the best form of government because it offers the people the opportunity to change their government by peaceful means.”

According to him, the most powerful people are not the politicians, but voters who can decide the fate of candidates for elective office at the polling booth, adding, “The main benefit of democracy is the freedom of choice and the supremacy of the will of the people.”

Obasanjo, in a congratulatory letter made available to The PUNCH by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, hailed Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, over their ‘victory’ in the US election and described the ‘feat’ achieved by the two Democrats as “victory of good over evil”.

The former Nigerian leader wrote, “It is the victory of good over evil and it is not a victory for you and the people of America alone, but a victory for most people of the world, majority of whom watch helplessly as the world that had been steadily and painstakingly built since the end of the Second World War was being pulled down.

“Not that the world was perfect and equitable, but it was reasonably predictable with some measure of the rule of law and respect for international agreements and treaties.

“President-elect Joe Biden must restore confidence in the role of America as the largest economy in the world which has very significant responsibility for the peace, security, stability and progress of the world.

“I felicitate with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as the first female Vice-President of the U.S. We in Africa are proud of her success.”

Jonathan, in his message titled: ‘Goodwill message to United States President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’, appealed to the incoming government to partner with African nations to help the continent overcome the vicissitudes of the pandemic, by building on existing trade and expanding on new frontiers for cooperation.

He said, “I congratulate President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, on their victory at the November 3, 2020 US Presidential election.

“Their election is not just historic, it is also futuristic in the sense that it gives us a glimpse of what the future will be-a world where race, gender and religion do not matter as much as competence and capacity.

“The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and based on his tenure as Vice President of the United States of America, between 2008 and 2016, I am fully persuaded that as President, Mr Biden will provide national and global leadership that will set the post COVID19 world on a path of peace and prosperity.”

 

What other world leaders say

Amid a flurry of congratulatory messages there were some noticeable silences from among both Mr Trump’s closest global allies and Washington’s staunchest enemies. After the news was called by the US’s biggest television networks on Saturday afternoon, there were no initial official statements issued by Russia, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Hungary Saudi Arabia and China.

The first world leader to break the silence, however, was Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who made no mention of Mr Trump, with whom he had an often-troubled relationship.

Instead the Canadian leader said he would work with the United States to “advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action around the world” and congratulated both Mr Biden and  Kamala Harris, his running mate, who will become the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office.

Several major television networks finally declared Mr Biden’s win on Saturday after a gruelling five-day ballot count saw him push ahead in key swing states.

“I am honoured and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris,” Mr Biden said on Twitter.

Mr Trump, who has made repeated claims of electoral fraud and insists he has in fact won, accused Mr Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement issued while he was playing golf in Virginia.

But this did not stop many leaders of western nations including those considered long-time allies of the U.S. celebrating Mr Biden’s win. Many had clashed with Mr Trump on security, trade, and numerous multilateral matters, including Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. During Nato and G7 summits, Mr Trump has repeatedly insulted fellow leaders, hectored officials behind closed doors, and occasionally stormed out of meetings.

In quick succession, statements were released by France, Germany, Spain, Ireland and New Zealand.

“The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”  French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. While Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, tweeted “Welcome back America!”

“Good that there’s finally a clear result,” wrote German foreign minister Heiko Maas, “We look forward to working with the next US administration.”

The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also congratulated Mr Biden calling him a “true friend of Greece”.

Most of the world’s authoritarian or populist leaders who were considered Mr Trump’s ideological fellow travellers were, however, quiet about the impending fall of a man who had empowered and legitimised their brand of right-wing populism.

Turkey, which enjoyed exceptionally warm ties to the White House under Mr Trump, was among those who stayed mum.

Iranian officials — including the outspoken foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif – also issued no statement about Mr Biden’s victory which could mean a return to the nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama while he served as vice president.

Instead Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei called the vote “a spectacle” and “the definitive political, civil & moral decline of the US regime” on Twitter.

Abbas Mousavi, Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan and former spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, on Twitter said “Joe Biden would possibly be just the same as his predecessors.”

In Russia, the Kremlin was also quiet.  In a sign of what might be to come, however Konstantin Kosachyov, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs released a dismissive post on Facebook declaring Mr Biden’s victory premature as there was “clearly no official result yet”.

“There is no clear, unconditional and convincing winner. What has instead emerged victorious is schism, and mutually exclusive social views on the future of America,” he said.

Saudi Arabia which is close to the Trump administration have also yet to release a statement.

Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst who is on the advisory board of one of the mega-projects of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, said the Gulf generally favoured a Trump win but added “we can live with it”.

“He was unreliable and that scared thoughtful people in the Gulf,” Shihabi added.

In Israel, there was noticeable silence from one of Mr Trump’s closest allies Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been criticised back home for getting too close to Mr Trump and the Republican Party at the detriment of the bipartisan relationship between the two countries. The banner photo of Mr Netanyahu’s official Twitter account remained a picture of himself with Mr Trump.

However Israeli opposition figures and the Palestinian leadership were quick to chime in. Yair Lapid, who had run against Mr Netanyahu across three extraordinary elections in Israel, described Mr Biden as a “friend” in a statement where he made a point of referencing both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Harris makes history as first female, Black, South Asian American VP-elect

Sen. Kamala Harris has solidified her place in history Saturday by becoming the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American elected vice president in U.S. history.

Harris’ political career has included many barrier-breaking moments, such as serving as California’s first Black female attorney general and being the second Black woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Harris, 56, the only Black woman currently in the Senate, was elected in 2016 after serving as California’s attorney general and, before that, as the San Francisco district attorney.

Trump says election ‘far from over’ as he vows to fight results

President Donald Trump vowed Saturday to press forward with a legal fight, pushing unfounded claims of voter fraud in response to the news that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election.

Trump was at his Virginia golf club when NBC News and other networks projected Biden as the winner.

“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said. “The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.”

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2023: No automatic ticket for new decampees – APC

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  • ‘Plot to make Jonathan president conspiracy against South’

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that it has not granted an automatic ticket to former President Goodluck Jonathan who is being rumoured to be planning to defect to the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

A founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-south, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, also described alleged scheme by some northern leaders to return the former President to Aso Rock in 2023 as deceitful and a grand conspiracy against the South.

On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed to reclaim power at the centre come 2023, adding that the party would also win 28 of the 36 states across the federation.

The APC said the waiver granted new entrants and defectors into the party does not exclude them from undergoing nomination processes of contesting for positions in the party and as its flag bearers in general elections.

APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, made the declaration in a statement in Abuja yesterday.

He said defection into the party by any person does not confer the status of an automatic candidate of the party on such individual.

Akpanudoedehe, who was reacting to a misrepresentation of his views on the waiver granted new entrants and defectors by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at its December 8, 2020 meeting in a television programme, said all party members, irrespective of the status of the person, must go through the party’s nomination process as outlined in its constitution.

He maintained that the waiver by NEC was not restricted to anyone.

According to the Secretary, “the waiver is not specific to anyone as being misconstrued and misrepresented in some sections.

“Coming into the party gives no one special status of being an automatic party candidate in any election. All aspirants must undergo the nomination processes outlined by the APC constitution,” he said.

Akpanudoedehe recalled that the party’s NEC resolved and granted waivers to persons who have recently joined the party and those desirous of joining the party in the nearest future to contest for positions in the APC and as party flag bearers in general elections.

He explained that by the NEC resolution, “new members will enjoy all the benefits and privileges accruable by the APC” but not the status of automatic candidate of the party.

According to the Secretary: “For the records, in my recent television interview reaction to the rumoured plans by former President Goodluck Jonathan to join the APC, my statement was that NEC resolution was a blanket waiver to ALL new APC entrants, including the interviewee.

“The waiver is not specific to anyone as being misconstrued and misrepresented in some sections.

“Coming into the party gives no one special status of being an automatic party candidate in any election. All aspirants must undergo the nomination processes outlined by the APC constitution,” he said.

‘Plot to make Jonathan President deceitful, conspiracy against South’

A South-south founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, described the ongoing scheme by some northern leaders to return former President Jonathan to Aso Rock in 2023 as deceitful and a grand conspiracy against the South.

Eze, in a statement in Port Harcourt yesterday, said the plot was a packaged trick by some northern leaders to make Jonathan President for one term and retake power in 2027 thereby denying the southern part of the country a complete term of eight years.

Eze said that the northern schemers knew that with President Muhammadu Buhari successfully completing his second term by 2023, the South, in all honesty and fairness, would produce the next President.

But to truncate a southern eight-year rule, the schemes intended to feature Jonathan for one tenure in 2023 thereby throwing the 2027 presidential election open for a fresh zoning  arrangement and contest favourable to the North.

Eze urged all Nigerians to speak up and condemn such a dastardly act that might plunge the nation into unprecedented chaos.

The APC chief, however, claimed that Jonathan had rejected the plan, describing the former President’s rejection as consolatory.

He said: “This plot is an unacceptable insult on both Jonathan and the entire southern political class as if we lack credible political leaders from the South that can turn the fortunes of this country around.

“It is imperative to commend Dr. Jonathan for reading through the deceit of these leaders, trashing their dishonest entreaty and ensuring that his political feats and present status as a great promoter of democracy is not ruined, tarnished but kept intact by keeping these undemocratic elements at bay.

“I am very glad that Dr. Jonathan has done his best to keep these undemocratic forces at bay, who are hell-bent to deny the South the chance to preside over the affairs of this country according to the terms of power rotation between the North and the South, not minding that the northerners have through the military and democratic dispensations governed this country to their heart contents.

“Funny and sad enough, same leaders who ensured that Dr. Jonathan was not reelected in 2015 are the same crop of leaders that are doing everything to lure him back to finish whatever that  is left of him politically.

“As much as I am not a supporter or sympathiser of Dr. Jonathan and his type of politics, as I was one of those who ensured he was not reelected, I will not sit and allow his haters drain the little integrity left of him.

“Luring him to contest the 2023 does not  in any way wash him off the sins and reasons behind why he was not reelected in 2023, but a careful ploy to portray the Southerners as lacking better and credible leaders to improve on the fortunes of the country.”

Eze also commended Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for insisting that he would not support Jonathan if he decided to contest the 2023 general election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Eze said if Jonathan allowed himself to be fooled by those luring him, he would face the worst political defeat in 2023.

He advised Jonathan not to allow himself to be used as an object of division and tension in the country, appealing to him to continue to enjoy his 2015 feat, which earned him an international figure.

By Jide Orintunsin, Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja; Mike Odiegwu, THE NATION

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Anambra election: IPOB sit-at-home, insecurity threaten exercise as citizens lose faith in govt’s protection

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Close to two months after the Indigenous People of Biafra announced that it has suspended the weekly sit-at-home exercise for every Monday, the entire South East zone has continued to observe the exercise, leading to what the group describes as ghost Monday on a weekly basis.

IPOB in a message through its spokesperson, Mr. Emma Powerful had said that it decided to suspend the exercise because of the plea of the people, who were complaining of the dwindling fortunes of the South East economically, because of the exercise.

The group said the suspension of the exercise would also help senior secondary students of the zone to sit for the West African School Certificate Exams (WASCE), and other artisans who survive through daily work would also be able to meet up with their activities. It said the only days the exercise would hold would be days that its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu would be taken to court.

But curiously, despite the suspension, states in the South East zone, including Anambra have continued to observe the exercise. Curiously too, people, suspected to be members of the group have always gone out to enforce compliance to the exercise every Monday to the extent of killing, maiming and destroying property, even as IPOB has dissociated itself from it.

Many believe that the compliance this time is rather out of fear than of one’s volition, because of the violence that has recently been registered in the area.

As the Anambra governorship election draws near, with the seriousness with which orders from the group are taken, analysts believe that if the group decides to go the way it went in the 2017 governorship election, by announcing a – no referendum, no election – stance, it may ultimately achieve its aim.

In the last two weeks, despite the usual sit-at-home on Mondays, the group had announced that on Thursday of the previous week, and the Tuesday of this week would also be sit-at-home days. Despite announcements by various state governments in the South East to dissuade people from observing the event, it was observed that the compliance was high, thereby scuttling the economic activities in the zone.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State had before the exercise held a meeting with heads of banks in Anambra State and markets, urging them to ensure they open for business. Obiano said there would be sanction for banks and markets that fail to conduct activities on sit-at-home days. The governor also went out to ensure compliance, and DAILY POST observed that in some banks where the governor visited, they opened for business and after the visit, they quickly shut their gates against customers, for fear of attack.

While the governor was last Monday trying to enforce compliance with his order for businesses to open at Eke Awka and banks around the Ukwu Oji area, banks in other parts of Awka and other parts if the state were securely locked up, to avoid attacks.

On Tuesday, just a day after the governor went round to ensure compliance; banks and markets and other businesses in the state securely locked their gates, in observance of a sit-at-home order by IPOB, to commemorate the invasion of Kanu’s home on 14th September, 2017 by the military.

The near breakdown of security in the zone now seems to empower the group to incessantly declare sit-at-home exercises at will. A lawyer, Mr Ekene Obi who spoke to DAILY POST about the incessant declaration of Sit-at-home exercises and the near total compliance it registers each time said, “This is happening because people are afraid. How can government give order for the people to come out and do their business, and people will refuse to obey, instead they will obey a group that has already rescinded its own decision on sit-at+home?

“It is because there is no longer trust on the part of the government. They are telling people to come out, but they cannot secure the people. This week Monday and Tuesday, do you know the number of casualties that were registered? What has the government done to avenge the lives of those who were killed, or replace the property of those whose buses and motorcycles were burnt, since they were obeying government directive by coming out.

“Let me tell you, these days, even churches announce it to their members and they tell them to stay at home if there is any announcement for a sit- at-home, because they believe that government cannot protect. If for any reason a rumour flies around that some people, not even IPOB declare a sit-at-home on the day of the Anambra governorship election, I tell you, people will obey, because the security situation now is not the same as what we had in 2017, when people ignored the – no referendum, no election – mantra to go and vote.”

Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also disclosed that their job for the Anambra governorship election is being affected by the number of days there have been sit-at-home exercises. The Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Anambra, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji stated this in a press interview, during a workshop by the EMSC Amber Zone Implementers, organized by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).

Orji said the commission has launched a dashboard for the Anambra governorship election, billed to hold on November 6, and that the dashboard already has all activities of the commission for the election. “The dashboard will remind us ahead of time of the things we have to do in the nearest future, what we should do that we have not done, and things like that.

“Already, we have factored in the incessant sit-at-home exercises into our schedule. The exercise has been eating up into our time, and putting pressure on our work, but we have been adjusting to ensure we meet up with our schedule. For now, I can say that all arrangements are going on well, and we hope that it will continue to be so,” Orji said.

Though there have not been any indication that the election may be disrupted, there is the belief that once the INEC gears its mind to conduct the election, the security agencies should be able to also provide marching power to ensure safety of the people for the election to hold.

Speaking in an earlier interview, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof Chukwuma Soludo had stated that there is no reason why the Anambra election should not hold. He said: “Elections have held in terrorists ravaged areas of the north, so why won’t it hold here. It is even made easier by the fact that the Anambra election is a one-state election, so all attention, especially of the security forces can be focused here.”

As the November 6 date for the election draws close, there is,however, no indication that the election would not hold, as parties and their candidates continue to strategize on how they can win the election.

The special adviser to the chairman of INEC, Mr Mohammed Kuna has, however, reinforced the assurance that everything about the Anambra governorship election is on course. “So far, there is nothing the commission has set out to achieve that it has not achieved, so, despite the incessant sit-at-home protest, we are hopeful that nothing would stop the election.”

Joe Chukindi, Daily Post Online

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Umahi: Fani-Kayode lied — he wasn’t instrumental in my defection to APC

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David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, says Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, was not instrumental in his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The former minister, on rejoining the APC on Thursday, said he was instrumental in the defection of three Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors to the APC.

He listed Umahi of Ebonyi state; Ben Ayade of Cross River, and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara as the governors he helped facilitate their defection to the APC.

Umahi had joined the ruling party in 2020, citing “injustice” done to the south-east by the PDP as the reason for his defection.

But speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Friday, Umahi said Fani-Kayode played no role in his movement to the APC, and so he must withdraw the “insulting” statement.

He said he had moved to the APC to bridge the gap between the people of the south-east and the federal government.

Umahi also said though he is still a good friend of Fani-Kayode, he is certain that the former minister never played a role in the defection of any governor, including himself to the ruling party.

“I think he needs to withdraw that statement, he’s my good friend but it was an insult to my person and the other governors,” he said.

“The man did not know when I moved but he incidentally visited me and he said he’s coming to join me with the other governors to declare. How would someone in the PDP be instrumental in my moving. A whole governor of a state, not even a small governor, an experienced one.

“He has to withdraw his statement. He was never part of any discussion of my movement. I moved south-east to the centre of administration. I moved to close the gap between the centre and south-east, which our forefathers like Nnamdi Azikwe fought for.

“For somebody to say that he’s instrumental to the movement of a whole chairman of south-east governors forum is a bit of an insult to my person. And with all due respect, he has to withdraw that statement.

“He remains my friend, a good one for that matter but he played no role in my movement and I’m sure he played no role in the movement of the rest of the governors.”

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