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Pope, China congratulate Joe Biden, US President-elect

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Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has offered his congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden during a call, according to a statement on Friday.

China has also congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning the US presidential election.

According to a statement from the Biden-Harris transition team, the Pope Francis and Biden discussed some policy areas in which Biden is likely to break from President Trump.

“The president-elect expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities,” the statement reads.

Francis has been outspoken on these issues and has repeatedly called on global leaders to take more action to confront them. Biden has laid out ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis, and he plans to lift the United States’ refugee resettlement cap, which Trump had lowered to a record level.

Biden will be the second Catholic president in U.S. history, following John F. Kennedy.

China’s message on Friday also ended days of speculation about when Beijing would formally acknowledge the victory.

“We have been following the reaction on this U.S. presidential election from both within the United States and from the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing in Beijing on Friday.

“We respect the American people’s choice and extend congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris,” Wang added.

China’s acknowledgment came after multiple television networks projected Biden would defeat Donald Trump in Arizona, one of the battleground states where the president has looked to overturn the election.

China was one of the few countries that had so far withheld comment, as Trump contested the results.

“We understand that the result of the U.S. presidential election will be determined following the US laws and procedures,” Wang said.

Beijing’s official reaction to Biden’s victory had been relatively muted. President Xi Jinping hasn’t offered public congratulations, while the foreign ministry this week gave largely vague answers at a briefing on Monday, saying that it hoped the new administration would “work in the same direction as us going forward.”

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Why northern governors opposed Jonathan’s second term bid – Babangida Aliyu

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Former governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said northern governors rose against former President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015 because of the perceived threat of his victory to the North.

Aliyu said in Minna on Friday that the northern governors felt at the time that their part of the country stood in a disadvantaged position and would be shortchanged should Jonathan win a re-election.

He claimed that Jonathan had earlier reached an agreement with the north to complete what was left of the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then run for only one term.

He said the ex-president’s insistence on going for another term in 2015 was against the agreement he had with the northern governors.

“Following the sudden passage of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, the leadership of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party along with the state governors under the flagship of the party had series of meetings on the presidency and the future of our great party,” he said.

The ex-governor also said, “All the governors in the North under the PDP supported the then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to complete the remaining years of Yar’Adua’s tenure and to contest the next presidential election as a sole candidate of our great party.

“However, midway, President Goodluck Jonathan insisted to run for the office in 2015 against the grain of our earlier agreement.

“Since this was against the grain of our earlier agreement in the party, and which we the governors in the north felt the North would have been shortchanged if Jonathan had succeeded, we rose stoutly to insist on the agreement we all had.

“On that premise, we opposed Jonathan. But all along, Goodluck Jonathan had enjoyed every support from the governors in the north and the entire region.”

The former governor said it was wrong for anyone to say that he opposed Goodluck Jonathan.

He added that as the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum then, it was his responsibility to tell the people about the stand of the governors.

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Makinde’s candidate, Arapaja, emerges PDP South-West chairman

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Former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, has been declared the South-West chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was pronounced winner of the hotly contested poll by chairman of the region’s congress and Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu.

Arapaja, backed by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, polled 343 votes to defeat Dr Eddy Olafeso, who scored 330.

Olafeso is of the camp of former Ekiti Governor Ago Fayose.

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743 PDP delegates to vote in today’s South-West congress

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National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has approved 743 delegates to elect the party’s South-West zonal leaders at region’s conference holding in Oshogbo, Osun State today (Monday).

Already, the NWC has also released the list of members of the Election Committee and the Election Appeal Committee.

A statement containing the delegates’ list signed by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Col Austin Akobundu (retd), showed that Oyo State has a total of 171 delegates, while Ogun State has 114; Osun State, 130; Ekiti State, 115; and Lagos State, 101.

Akobundu named the Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, as chairman of the election committee, while Senator Sandy Onoh, Ogun Otemabore and Ireruoke Edward will serve as members. Senator Samuel Anyanwu will serve as secretary.

The party also appointed an election appeal committee headed by Chief Okey Ezenwa who will serve as chairman, Mr. Roland Najomoh, secretary, while Clement Okaredir will serve as a member.

Due to the supremacy battle between Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, and a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, the venue for the election was changed from Ibadan to Osogbo to ensure fairness and avoid giving any advantage to either of the two leaders of the party in the region.

While Makinde is said to be sponsoring Mr Taofeek Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Fayose is said to be backing Mr Eddy Olafeso, a former governorship aspirant in Ondo State and the immediate past chairman of the party in the zone.

The feud between Makinde and Fayose was responsible for the delay in the conduct of the party’s congress in the South-West zone.

The NWC had intervened severally to ensure a consensus candidate for the chairmanship position to no avail.

Already, Arapaja and Olafeso have been cleared to contest the party’s top post in the region.

Also cleared are Mr Rahman Olokaniron and Mr Jenvo Bunni for the position of zonal secretary.

For the office of zonal treasurer, those cleared are Mr Ogunje Samson and Mr Ojo Michael, while the candidates for the zonal organising secretary are Mr Amuwa Adegbenro and Mr Faisu Adewele.

Those contesting for zonal publicity secretary are Mr Olusanya Adefarari and Mr. Fadaka Ayodele, while Mr Adewoyin Babatunde and Mr Philip Okubode were cleared to contest for the position of zonal financial secretary.

Babatunde Samuel and Muniru Kukouye were cleared to contest for the office of zonal legal adviser, while those cleared for the zonal auditor are Dominic Adegbola, Balogun Ayuba and Adeolu Adewunmi.

For the office of zonal woman leader, Ms Modinat Adedibu and Ms Abimbola Balogun were cleared.

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