The General Services Administration acknowledged Democrat Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election on Monday, following weeks of inaction, and President Donald Trump called on his agencies to cooperate, Bloomberg reports.
“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,” Trump said of Emily Murphy, the General Services Administration chief who heads the government agency meant to ease Biden’s transition into the White House. The Republican, however, said he would continue to contest the outcome of the election.
The designation triggers a formal transition process, giving Biden and his team access to current agency officials, briefing books and other government resources, including some $6 million in funding.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that most western media had projected the Democrat candidate winner of the keenly contested election after Biden’s triumphant victory in the electoral college votes against incumbent Trump who had refused to concede defeat while alleging fraud in the election.
Monday’s letter was sent after nine Republican senators had called for the transition process to begin, and hours after Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers had voted to certify the election’s results, practically ensuring Biden’s victory in the key battleground state.
“Because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request,” Murphy said in a letter to Biden, citing the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.
The announcement is a “needed step” to “getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden-Harris transition, said in an emailed statement.
“In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
For weeks, the Biden transition team has worked informally to establish a new administration, including assembling a coronavirus task force and consulting with public health officials outside of the federal government, mimicking the approach former Vice President Dick Cheney took during the disputed 2000 election.
Blocked from interacting with federal agencies, Biden’s staff instead sought out other experts from academia, state governments and Capitol Hill.
The biggest change now is that the transition team will be able to flood federal agencies with officials focused on preparing the way for his administration. They will have access to agency staff and briefing books assembled earlier this year, as well as details on what administrative issues must be addressed right away.
Transition aides also will get details about which positions are most critical, as the incoming administration seeks to fill more than 7,000 jobs across the federal government.
“Fortunately, federal career civil servants have done an outstanding job preparing for this year’s transition by producing fact-based information on critical agency issues and by designating acting officials who will lead agency operations until new political appointees are confirmed,” said David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition. “They now need space to do their jobs.”
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris may also swiftly begin receiving classified intelligence briefings. Lawmakers and national security experts had warned that without the information, the incoming administration was being kept in the dark about threats to the U.S. — a lapse that could make the country more vulnerable.
Biden’s team can now dig into work essential to running the federal government and bolstering the economy, from developing a budget plan to coordinating unemployment benefits guidance with the Labor Department.
Third Mainland Bridge: FRSC Thanks Motorists, Warns Against Reckless Driving
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has appreciated the Lagos public for the maturity and patience exhibited while the closure of the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge for repairs, lasted.
In a statement signed by the Command’s Public Education Officer, Route Commander Olabisi Sonusi, and made available to PointBlank.ng, the Lagos Sector Commander, Olusegun Ogungbemide advised motorists to steer clear of reckless driving and other sundry recklessness associated with road safety.
The Bridge finally opened for use Saturday February 27, 2021 at 12noon.
The statement reads in part:
“You may recall that the repair work which commenced from 24th July, 2020 expected to be completed by January 2021 was delayed because of COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSars unrest.
“We must say that the motoring public were so cooperative during the entire period the rehabilitation work lasted and this is commendable.
“It has become very imperative for us to enjoin motorists to avoid excessive speed, dangerous overtaking, disregard to lane discipline now that the most important bridge has been opened for use.
Ogungbemide urged motorists to drive defensively at all time on the bridge and other corridors within the state.
He thanked the Federal Government for the rehabilitation, and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his immense support for the Command during the period.
He also expressed delight in the final opening of the bridge and also appeal that motorists should always drive safe and stay safe at all times.
Ogungbemide aldo promised that the command would not relent in its determination and commitment to reduce road traffic crashes and fatalities in the state.
He also appreciated all the FRSC officers and men as well as other sister agencies who worked assiduously during the period of the rehabilitation on the bridge.
Mailafia Accuses Those Who Wanted Jonathan Out of Sponsoring Bandits
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, says many of the bandits terrorising the country were sponsored by persons who wanted to push former President Goodluck Jonathan out of power at all cost.
Mailafia said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday.
He said, “During the 2015 elections they brought in thousands of foreigners into this country, armed them because it was a case of if Goodluck Jonathan doesn’t surrender, there will be war. They were ready for civil war; they were not ready for peace.
“Of course, Jonathan handed over to them and then they turned their backs on the hoodlums and the hoodlums said ‘look, you brought us here and we are still here’.”
Mailafia, who was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the last election, said he was also convinced that some foreign powers were behind the bandits.
“There are certain world powers that want to destroy our country. That is what I believe. There was a container load of weapons that were brought in from Turkey. Another time some were brought in from Iran. But nobody probed further and everything was swept under the carpet and that was the end of it,” he said.
The former CBN deputy governor, who was last year invited by the Department of State Services and the police for saying that an unnamed northern governor was a Boko Haram commander, said the fact that other people have come out to say far worse but have not been invited, shows that he was unfairly targeted.
The former CBN deputy governor also disagreed with the approach of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi on the issue of amnesty for bandits.
Mailafia said it was wrong to offer such hoodlums amnesty and then make no provision for the victims, adding that they have no agenda other than to destroy.
He argued that appeasing the bandits would never work even as he said the Niger Delta militancy and the banditry ravaging the country are two different things.
“I do not believe that the Niger Delta militancy can be compared to the terrorists. These people (terrorists) are not even bandits. A bandit is a common thief or a brigand. The ‘agbero’ are bandits. These people carrying sophisticated weapons and rockets are not bandits. They are terrorists.
“They have killed, they have maimed, they have raped and they have wreaked havoc,” Mailafia said.
Zamfara Confirms Abduction, Says Security Operatives, Vigilantes in Pursuit of Abductors
The Zamfara State Government has confirmed the abduction of female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of the state.
The confirmation was made by the Commissioner of Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran in a brief interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gusau on Friday.
The abductors in their hundreds invaded the town and took away the students about 2 am.
“I can confirm to you now that we have sadly received the report on the abduction of the students of GGSS Jangebe and right now, I am on my way to the school.
“At this moment, l cannot say how many students were taken away by the gunmen until l get there, but we have already mobilized security men and members of the vigilantatè who are now in pursuit of the abductors,” the commissioner stated.
A staff of the school who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity said, “The gunmen in their hundreds invaded the town around 2 am on Friday, shot sporadically in the air to scare the residents before coming into the school.
“After taking away most of the students, we rounded up those that escaped or hid from the bandits and conducted a census where we counted 54 students and we are still searching to see if we can get more.”
Also, a resident who gave his name as Haliru Jangebe said the local vigilantes had tried to repel the invaders but were overpowered.
“The bandits were too many and they all seemed to be carrying heavy arms as we heard gunshots from all parts of the town and when the shots stopped, we heard that the students had been taken away.”