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JUST IN: Trump Finally Okays Transition As Key US Agency Declares Biden Winner Of Presidential Election

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The General Services Administration has ascertained that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition of Trump’s administration and allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over January 20.

An official said administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official —including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Earlier Monday, retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for the head of the General Services Administration to release the money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.

AP

 

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JUST IN: IGP Has Ordered Arrest Of Sunday Igboho —– Presidency

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The Presidency says the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the arrest of Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, for giving Fulani in Oyo State an ultimatum to exit the state.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, was quoted as saying this during an interview with BBC Hausa.

According to the BBC report, Shehu said he had just got off the phone with the IGP who told him that an order had been given to the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Ngozi Onadeko, to arrest Igboho immediately and transfer him to Abuja.

Igboho, who is the Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land and a grassroots politician, had asked herdsmen in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State to leave within seven days, blaming the leadership of the Fulani of being behind the rising insecurity in the state.

The Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, had asked the IGP to ensure Igboho was arrested immediately, accusing him of heating up the polity.

Last week, the Presidency had criticised Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State for asking Fulani herders to vacate forest reserves because the place was being used by bandits and kidnappers.

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Dangote, Adenuga, Rabiu Make Africa’s Top 10 Billionaires’ List

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Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is Africa’s richest person and has maintained this position for straight 10 years, according to the 2021 Forbes’ Africa Billionaires List released on Friday.

Also, Mike Adenuga of Globacom, and Abdulsamad Rabiu of BUA Group, both Nigerians, made it to the list as the 5th and 6th richest persons in Africa respectively.

Forbes stated that in Africa, as elsewhere in the world, the wealthiest came through the pandemic just fine.

It stated that the continent’s 18 billionaires were worth an average of $4.1bn, 12 percent more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market.

“For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1bn, up by $2bn from last year’s list, thanks to a roughly 30 percent rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset,” Forbes stated in its report.

The list named the second richest person in Africa as Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset was a nearly six percent stake in sportswear maker Adidas.

At number three was Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40 percent stake in DeBeers to mining giant AngloAmerican for $5.1bn.

It said the biggest gainer this year was another Nigerian cement tycoon, Rabiu.

“Remarkably, shares of his BUA Cement Plc, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in January 2020, have doubled in value in the past year,” the report stated.

That pushed Rabiu’s fortune up by an extraordinary 77 percent, to $5.5bn, adding that Rabiu and his son together own about 97 percent of the company, giving the company a tiny public float.

It stated Nigerian Stock Exchange required that either 20 percent or more of a company’s shares should be floated to the public, or that the floated shares were worth at least N20bn, about $50m, describing it as a paltry sum, to be sure.

“A spokesman for the Nigerian Stock Exchange told Forbes that BUA Cement meets the second requirement,” the report stated.

It added that while some got richer by the billions, two from the 2020 list of Africa’s richest dropped below the $1bn mark.

In fact, the only two women billionaires from Africa had both fallen off the list.

Forbes calculated that the fortune of Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns an oil exploration company, dropped below $1bn due to lower oil prices.

It said Isabel dos Santos, who since 2013 had been the richest woman in Africa, was knocked from her perch by a series of court decisions freezing her assets in both Angola and Portugal.

It stated that the 18 billionaires from Africa hailed from seven different countries.

South Africa and Egypt each had five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two.

Altogether they were worth $73.8bn, slightly more than the $73.4bn aggregates worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people.

 

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No Confirmation Yet On When Pfizer Vaccine Will Arrive Nigeria—– Health Agency

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency says there is no definite date for when the 100,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria.

The NPHCDA, however, said the vaccines would most likely arrive in February, adding that government officials, vulnerable persons, and health workers would be the first to get them

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this during an interview with Bloomberg published on Thursday

The Federal Government had in December stated that the vaccines would arrive by the end of January.

Last week, however, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 shifted the date to February but did not give the specific date.

However, speaking to Bloomberg, Faisal said Nigeria was waiting for confirmation from COVAX which is an initiative backed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

On when the vaccines would arrive, he said, “We are waiting for final confirmation from COVAX on when the first doses will arrive,” adding that the “most recent indication is they are expected in February.”

The WHO had last week warned again a “me first attitude” in the distribution of vaccines.

It remains unclear why government officials some of whom have no pre-existing conditions, are being placed on the priority list.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says it supports the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools for the second term of the 2020/2021 academic session because the benefits of having children in school outweigh the risks of transmission of COVID-19.

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, gave the reasons at the Virtual Plenary Session and Annual General Meeting of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the theme of the event was, ‘Child survival in Nigeria amid COVID-19 pandemic: Issues, challenges, and way forward’.

He noted that the current data and statistics for the welfare of children in Nigeria was sad and troubling and that having them stay out of school would further aggravate the situation by denying them what they require to have healthy and productive lives.

The director-general said Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children; nearly 31 million children under the age of five and about half of the population under the age of 15.

He added that 10.5 million children were currently out of school and the closure of schools may result in 10 million being out of school forever.

He added, “You can see why some decisions around school reopening are so difficult to make by the government; how do you balance the need to control this pandemic versus the other requirements children need to live healthy and productive?

“This pandemic is threatening efforts to prevent major causes of child morbidity and mortality, and threatening the small gains we have made over many years in a very difficult context that is ours.

“If things get out of hand, we may and we will consider this condition but we all understand that the lockdown had a huge impact on children.”

Earlier, the NCDC boss said the worst outcome of the virus had spared children because its manifestation in them was less severe, often asymptomatic, and often not clinically significant to visit the hospitals.

“Just 10 percent of our cases have been confirmed in children and one percent deaths. The few deaths that occurred in children were likely to have happened to them through morbidity that led to deficits in coping with the virus,” he said.

Ihekweazu called for collaboration among governments, schools, and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.

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