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Biden to Announce Cabinet Picks Tuesday

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US President-elect Joe Biden will name his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, his chief of staff said, even as Donald Trump clung to unsubstantiated claims of fraud despite growing dissent from within his own party.

Biden has pushed ahead with preparations to assume the presidency on January 20, regardless of Trump’s bid to undo the results of the November vote.

“You are going to see the first of the president-elect’s cabinet picks on Tuesday,” Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Several US news organizations, including Bloomberg and The New York Times, reported that the president-elect will nominate seasoned diplomat and long-time aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Biden also said last week he had already decided his pick for the key position of Treasury Secretary.

US media also widely reported he will name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as assistant secretary of state for Africa under President Barack Obama, as his UN ambassador.

A growing number of Republicans have either recognized Biden’s victory or at least urged the General Services Administration — the usually low-profile agency that manages the federal bureaucracy — to release federal funds for the Biden transition.

With Trump refusing to acknowledge the election outcome, Biden and his top aides have been denied briefings on sensitive domestic and foreign policy issues — most urgently the coronavirus pandemic battering the country.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who in 2016 advised the Trump transition, said on ABC that the president’s legal team was a “national embarrassment.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, another prominent Republican, told CNN that Trump was making the country look like a “banana republic,” later tweeting the president should “stop golfing and concede.”

Trump has golfed on every weekend day since the election, though he took part virtually in the conference of the G20 leading economies this weekend — skipping a Saturday session on the pandemic.

And even Representative Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump loyalist, conceded backhandedly on Fox News that Biden had “run a successful campaign from a basement.”

– ‘Without merit’ –
Trump again tweeted on Sunday about “massive numbers of fraudulent ballots,” a claim dismissed by a long list of judges in several states.

Appearances by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have drawn mockery, as have claims by another former member of his legal team, Sidney Powell.

Powell has alleged baseless conspiracy theories involving a possible hack of the election, earning her widespread derision but also praise from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters.

Giuliani announced Sunday that Powell had been dropped from the team.

Trump’s latest legal setback came Saturday, when Pennsylvania judge Matthew Brann threw out the president’s fraud claims in a scathing judgment.

Pennsylvania was a must-win state, and flipped to Biden after backing Trump in 2016.

Brann’s ruling paved the way for Pennsylvania to certify Biden’s victory in the state.

Biden won the state-by-state Electoral College votes that ultimately decide who takes the White House by 306 to 232.

The Electoral College is due to formally vote on December 14, with state certifications to take place beforehand.

– ‘Incredibly damaging’ –
State certification of popular vote results in presidential elections is usually routine.

But Trump’s refusal to concede has raised concerns that he could cause long-term damage to public trust in the voting system that underlies US democracy.

The judgment in Pennsylvania came hours after Republicans also requested a delay in certification in Michigan, another battleground state won by Biden.

They requested a two-week delay to allow a full audit of results in Wayne County — home to majority-black Detroit, which overwhelmingly voted for Biden.

Michigan’s board of canvassers, which includes two Democrats and two Republicans, is due to meet Monday to certify the results.

There were reports that a Republican member of the board was considering voting against certification.

Biden has so far moderated his criticism of Trump’s actions, though he has spoken of “incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”

AFP

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Obaseki Accuses FG, Finance Minister of Playing the Ostrich, APC Kicks

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The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has reacted to the Nigerian government’s denial that it printed money in March to support allocations to states.

The governor said the Federal Government must act quickly to end the “current monetary rascality”.

Obaseki, on Monday had lamented the fiscal state of the nation, saying by the country was effectively broke.

“When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share,” he said.

But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday said the claim was “untrue”.

“The issue that was raised by the Edo State governor for me is very, very sad, because it is not a fact,” Mrs Ahmed claimed.

Mrs Ahmed insisted that FAAC allocation was from revenues from different agencies of the Federal Government.

“What we distribute at FAAC is a revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is a public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true,” she said.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also tackled Mr Obaseki, and rejected his claim that the Nigerian economy was in a critical situation due to a huge debt burden.

“The true position is that under Obaseki’s watch, the economy of Edo is in dire straits with the governor bereft of ideas on how to get it out,” the APC said.

“The state is engulfed in a foreign debt of 300 million dollars and a domestic debt including loans from commercial banks, the capital market, and other doubtful sources, approaching N120 billion as at March, for non-existent projects,” it said.

Mr Obaseki in a tweet on Thursday said, “We believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country.”

“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, @ZShamsuna should rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country,” the governor said.

“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further.

“We believe it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately time shall be the judge of us all.”

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JUSUN Strike: Governors, Speakers, Buhari’s CoS Meet

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Representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, on Thursday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, in Abuja, over the ongoing nationwide strike of judiciary workers.

Speaking with State House reporters at the end of the meeting which held at Mr Gambari’s office at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is also the Deputy Chair of the NGF, appealed to the striking workers to call off their strike in the interest of the nation.

The governors along with the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, had earlier postponed a meeting scheduled to be held with the leadership of the striking workers indefinitely on Thursday.

Judiciary workers had embarked on the indefinite nationwide strike on April 6 in protest against the denial of the judiciary of financial autonomy especially by state level.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Tambuwal told reporters that the governors had met with the speakers and the Chief Judges of various states, and would continue to engage the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria over the strike

“We’ve just finished talking to the Speakers, and indeed the State Chief Judges, and the Judiciary, to continue to engage and the Minister of Labour is also engaging with the striking bodies to appeal to them, to appreciate the fact that we have made progress.

“We’re appealing to them in the interest of this country, they should call off the strike”, he said.

According to the governor, a lot of progress had been made in the negotiations and hopefully the matter would be put to rest by next week.

“We’re here with the chairman and leadership of the Speakers’ Conference. The Solicitor General of the Federation, and SSA to Mr President on Niger Delta, who has been a member of the Technical Committee on the implementation of the autonomy of state legislatures and the judiciary.

“Together with the Chief of Staff to the President, we have just finished a meeting on how to put finishing touches and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, on the final implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislatures and the judiciary.

“We have made reasonable progress and we have agreed, after receiving the final report of the technical committee, to meet on Monday, because of the urgency of the matter and finally, resolve whatever issues are there,” he said.

He also expressed the commitment of those in leadership positions to build viable institutions for the country.

“Well, I can assure you that all of us are committed to building institutions, particularly our parliaments and the judiciary in our respective states, as democratically elected governors, and we are doing whatever it takes to make sure that the issues are resolved.

“As I told you before, some of the issues are constitutional and when matters have to do with the constitution, you have to be sure of what you’re doing that you’re actually following the Constitution,” he said.

Mr Tambuwal said the governors had always been in support of the autonomy of state legislature and judiciary.

He added, “From the very beginning, during the 8th Assembly, under the leadership of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara, the NGF under Abdulaziz Yari then, met with them and supported the financial autonomy for the state legislatures and the judiciary.

“And that is why with that support, we were able to achieve the passage of this amendment by the National Assembly and the state legislatures across the country.

“So, the governors are unequivocally in support of the autonomy of these institutions.’’

JUSUN had scaled up its battle for financial autonomy after it obtained a court judgment affirming the constitutional provisions granting financial autonomy to the judiciary in January 2014.

In their bid to ensure compliance with the judgment, the workers embarked on a protracted three weeks nationwide strike in January 2015.

They had called off the strike after governors and other stakeholders made commitments to meet workers’ demands, pledges that were largely jettisoned.

(NAN)

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London Trip: When is Buhari Due Back As Two Weeks Expire?

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By Eric Elezuo

On March 30, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari left the shores for Nigeria for London, where he was supposedly gone for medical attention. He had described the trip as specifically for a ‘short rest’ in a letter to Abdullah ll Bin Al-Hussein, the king of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.

Earlier on March 29, Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, had notified Nigerians in a tweet that Buhari will proceed “to London, the United Kingdom, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, for a routine medical check-up.”

Before departing Nigeria, Shehu said Buhari will meet with Security Chiefs first in the morning, after which he will embark on the journey. He did.

The presidential spokesman disclosed that Buhari “is due back in the country during the second week of April 2021” and gave no specific date for Buhari’s return to Nigeria.

However, two weeks after the president embarked on the journey, he is still out there in London, and no one seems to much about what is happening with the president.

A day after the president arrived at the Abuja House in London, he was persecuted by avalanche of protests from Nigerians resident in England, and led by activist, Reno Omokri. They had said that their intention was to drive Buhari to Nigeria, where he had expressed insensitivity even as the health system in the country is in comatose, and the doctors were embarking on strike.

Omokri and his co-travellers’ argument has been hinged on why Buhari will leave the nation’s health sector in a mess, and travel to another’s country to seek medical care. The protests have been sustained, leading to the emergence of pro-Buhari/government protesters to counter the protests.

It will be recalled that some major cabinet decisions have been taken even as the president is absent. The decisions and pronouncements were however, credited to him. Top of such decisions was the immediate removal of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and replaced by Usman Baba.

This is not the first time Mr President will stay beyond his advertised period of London trips which is in its 12th time since he assumed office in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while addressing newsmen on Wednesday failed to disclose the exact date President Muhammadu Buhari would return to Nigeria. The Minister was of the view that second week of April as announced before the President’s departure has not ended. He insisted that the timeframe extends to Saturday, April 17.

While the Minister is right that the second week is still running, the two weeks window ended on Wednesday, April 14. Buhari has been in the United Kingdom for two weeks for his “routine medical check-up”.

When he travelled on March 30, the presidency had said he will return during the second week of April 2021.

There is “no big issue” yet regarding Buhari’s expected return, the Minister had told correspondents.

“Today is Wednesday, this week finishes on Saturday. So, what’s the big issue in that one?” he defended.

While Nigerians expect the president’s return by the ‘second week of April’, which technically ends on Saturday, according to Lai Mohammed, it is imperative to note that any extension will raise eyebrows as is currently happening.

The Boss Newspaper

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