General news

Senate president election was free, fair- Ndume



Sen. Ali Ndume (APC-Borno) on Tuesday, described the conduct of the senate president election for the 9th National Assembly as ”free and fair.”

Ndume, who made the remark while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the poll in Abuja, said the election was not a fight but a contest.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ndume and Sen. Ahmad Lawan contested for the number-one seat of the 9th Senate.

While Lawan polled 79 votes to emerge the winner, Ndume scored 28 votes out of the total votes of 107.

He said his involvement in the contest had given the process a credibility.

”Now, my colleagues have decided, but whatever result is, the election was free and fair which is what we have to do.

”I hope that the party will also agree with me that what I did was to insist on doing the right thing in the interest of democracy.

”I think the right thing has been done and my fate has been decided by the Almighty Allah this date through my colleagues,” he said.

The lawmaker, who believed that only God knew what he had in stock for him, said he did his best.

”I begged Allah and my colleagues for the position of the senate president and I did my best in order to achieve this,” he said.

Ndume, who said that he had accepted his fate, pledged to support Lawan to succeed.

”This is so because his success is our success,” he said.

He said the new senate president had  all that it takes to lead the 9th Senate.

He also said the emergence of Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege as the deputy senate president had shown the beauty of democracy.

”I have confidence in him and all we need to do is to cooperate as one among equal.

”I like his energy and resilience and I hope he will make a very good deputy senate president,” ‘he said.

On how he felt about the election, he said: ”I am comfortable with it. I was one of the first that went to congratulate my colleagues.”

”May be you don’t know me; I am okay. I will sleep very well today and you know, I was looking forward to this day because I worked very hard,” he said.

Edited by Chioma Ugboma


Xinhua Headlines: Embattled United States enters 100-day countdown to presidential election amid pandemic, protests




Sunday marks the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the 2020 United States presidential election while the country is still trapped in the raging coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests against racial discrimination and police brutality.

With the clock ticking toward what may be the most complicated presidential contest in American history, both Democrats and Republicans are ramping up their push to get the keys to the Oval Office.

Nevertheless, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the nation, protests over racial injustice in several United States cities turned violent over the weekend.

The Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)


Sitting president and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, 74, didn’t mention the milestone directly on Sunday but lashed out at polls that have showed him falling behind his Democratic opponent, former United States Vice President Joe Biden, calling them “fake.”

“The Trump Campaign has more ENTHUSIASM, according to many, than any campaign in the history of our great Country — Even more than 2016,” he tweeted before claiming that battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, will not vote for Biden, a 77-year-old moderate political veteran who has recently adopted several progressive policy proposals.

Biden, whose campaign is accelerating its staffing and television spending, tweeted “100 days” on Sunday.

“Folks, we have just 100 days until Election Day. Now, more than ever, we have to do everything we can to make Donald Trump a one-term president,” he said.

In the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Biden leads Trump 50 percent to 40.9 percent as of Sunday. Meanwhile, polls conducted in some key battlegrounds, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona, also showed that Biden is ahead of Trump by at least several points.

Pedestrians walk past a social distancing notice on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

Pedestrians walk past a social distancing notice on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

In an AP-NORC poll released Sunday, eight in 10 Americans said that the United States is heading in the wrong direction, the highest level during Trump’s presidency, while only about a third of Americans approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the majority of Americans have a negative view of how Trump is handling the economy, health care and education.

“This is a very unpleasant real-time look at what the future could be for President Trump,” said Tim Malloy, a polling analyst at Quinnipiac University, after the Connecticut-based polling center released its latest survey earlier this month.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, however, urged caution in using polls to make predictions, tweeting on Sunday that “numbers are sand castles not stone monuments.”

Biden has seized the moment by sharply criticizing Trump’s performance during the coronavirus pandemic as well as his ability to steer the country out of the crisis, while Trump has repeatedly questioned Biden’s cognitive health, accused him of being a “puppet” of what he called the “Radical Left,” and highlighted their ideological differences in a highly politically and socially divisive time.

A vendor waits for customers at a kiosk on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

A vendor waits for customers at a kiosk on Times Square in New York, the United States, July 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)


Nate Silver, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, a United States website focusing on opinion poll analysis, politics and economics, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the coronavirus is “an extra complication” in this year’s presidential election.

More than 4.2 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus, with some 146,000 deaths, according to a dashboard run by Johns Hopkins University. The pandemic continues to surge across the country, especially in some populous states, amid an economic recession.

“We found historically when there are lots of major news events and economic disruptions, an election becomes harder to predict,” Silver said.

“So while he’s clearly in trouble, I do not buy that Trump’s fate is sealed,” he said. “A lot could change in the next one hundred days. Things could get worse still for the president. But a turnaround in the COVID situation by the fall could make the election more competitive.”

The pandemic, which has plagued the United States for months, has forced the presidential and other campaigns to go virtual due to health and safety risks.

The Republican and Democratic national conventions, both scheduled for August, where Trump and Biden will formally receive each party’s presidential nomination, will take place on a smaller scale.

Trump, who has relied on campaigns to build momentum, had tried to restart in-person activities in June. But his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first of its kind in more than three months, met with a lower-than-expected attendance and led to coronavirus infections among campaign staff and Secret Service agents. Biden has said he won’t hold rallies during the pandemic.

Apart from the pandemic, the country has also been gripped by nationwide demonstrations against racial discrimination following the death of African American George Floyd in May.

A total of 45 people were arrested and 21 police officers injured on Saturday after a protest in the western United States city of Seattle turned violent.

In the Texas capital of Austin, a protester was shot dead by a person who drove through a crowd of marchers. In Aurora, Colorado, a protester fired a weapon, striking at least one person who was taken to a hospital, police said.

People vote at a polling site in Brooklyn borough of New York, the United States, June 23, 2020. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)

People vote at a polling site in Brooklyn borough of New York, the United States, June 23, 2020. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)


As the general election approaches, three presidential debates between Trump and Biden are scheduled to take place between September and October. A vice presidential debate between Trump’s deputy Mike Pence and whoever Biden chooses as his running mate will be held in early October.

Biden, who is considering a broad tier of candidates to be his running mate after pledging to pick a woman for the job, has said that he will announce his pick in early August.

Biden “holds a discernible — though not insurmountable — Electoral College advantage” over Trump, according to ABC News’ initial ratings for the 2020 general election which will be held on Nov. 3.

The ratings place 279 electoral votes as either solidly or leaning Democratic — slightly more than the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. Another 72 electoral votes are rated as toss-ups, while 187 are either solidly or leaning Republican.

In his race against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump secured 306 electoral votes, winning the presidency — in part — by taking longtime Democratic strongholds: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In addition to the Trump-Biden race, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested on Nov. 3, along with 13 state and territorial governorships, as well as numerous other state and local elections.

In congressional races, Republicans will fight to defend their majority in the Senate, while Democrats are looking at expanding their seats in the House.

(Video reporters: Hu Yousong, Tan Yixiao; Video editor: Peng Ying)■
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Senate President mourns Sen. Osinowo



President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has received with shock and sadness the news of the death of Sen. Adebayo Osinowo on Monday.

Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, condoled with Sen. Osinowo’s family, friends, political associates and also the government and people of Lagos State over the loss.

Sen. Osinowo,  who until his death represented Lagos East Senatorial District, first made his mark at the Lagos Civil Service and also at the Lagos State House of Assembly, where he served four terms before his election to the senate.

Lawan said Osinowo served his country creditably as a Distinguished Senator at the Ninth Senate, which marked its first anniversary only last week.

Osinowo was the Chairman of the Committee on industries.

The Senate President said the pains of Sen. Osinowo’s untimely departure would be felt by his distinguished colleagues and the National Assembly in general.

Lawan prayed for the repose of his gentle soul and for God to grant those he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide (NAN)
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Senate is determine to ensure Nigerians benefit from power sector -Lawan



Senate President Ahmad Lawan, on Monday said the National Assembly would ensure that Nigerians benefited maximally from the nation’s power sector for improved supply.

Lawan said this when he declared open an investigative hearing on Federal Government interventions in the power sector organised by Senate Committee on Power.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the investigative hearing, Title: Power Sector Recovery Plan and COVID-19 Pandemic was designed to investigate the viability of N1.8 trillion Federal Government interventions in the sector since privatisation.

Lawan, who said that the nation was yet to get it right in power, noted that Nigerians could not be competitive in international trade and make significant progress without electricity.

He said the National Assembly was concerned hence it mandated its committee to investigate the sector, adding that the senate would soon consider the report of the committee on resumption at plenary.

The senate leader said there was need for Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to look at the share purchased agreement undertaken with the stakeholders at privatisation to make the sector better.

According to him, there is need to review the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) as Nigerian was losing billions of naira monthly without supply of electricity because of the PPA.

“We must remedy to the situation, it is either we ask the DisCos to look for more partners, or government divest its 40 per cent share to other investors to manage.

“We must revisit the PPAs, ” Lawan said.

The Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed in her presentation said the Federal Government had initiated various projects with multilateral agencies to revamp the sector.

She listed the projects to include the 486 million dollars World Bank approved Nigeria Electricity Transmission and Access Project, 350 million dollars World Bank Nigeria Electrification Project and African Development Bank 200 million dollars that was undergoing approval process.

Other projects, according to the minister, are the 26 million dollars World Bank North Core Dorsale Nord Inter Connector project under approval process.

Also, 170 million dollars, AFD Abuja Power Feeding Scheme that is also undergoing approval process,750 million dollars Power Sector Recovery Program and the 700 mega watts hydro power project already approved by the China Exim Bank.

She said it was expected that services in the power sector would improve as the aforementioned projects moves into various stages of implementations.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Sen.Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue) said the various interventions of government for the sector did not result into success as was expected after privatisation.

He said this was occasioned the investigation by the Senate.

Some of the agencies of government expected to make presentation at the two-day public hearing include the Ministry of Power, its agencies, the  Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) among others.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Grace Yussuf (NAN)
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General news

Senate seeks special intervention fund for road construction



The Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Sen. Adamu Aliero,  is seeking a special intervention fund from the Federal Government to fund the construction  and rehabilitation of over 520 federal roads across the country.

He made the call in an interview with  the News Agency of Nigeria Abuja at the weekend.

Aliero noted that the annual budgetary provisions to road sector was insufficient and called on the government to grant special funds to ensure completion of the road projects across the country.

“We certainly need special intervention and I am happy that the federal government has approved the SUKUK bond which has almost been over subscribed.

“This will make about N150 billion available to the ministry of works and housing, to pay outstanding liabilities and continue with the projects that they have embarked upon, three or four years ago.

“So it is this kind of complimentary funding that makes road construction or road rehabilitation to move forward, but if you rely solely on budgetary provision it is not enough.

“We strongly advocate for public-private partnership where the private sector will team up with the public sector and build roads and introduce tolling so that it can recover whatever they spend in the construction of these roads.

“This is done in most countries where we have standard infrastructure. If you go to Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, you will see very beautiful roads being constructed.

“It is not done by government alone, it is a joint venture between the state and the private sector.”

Aliero said that all that was required was an enabling environment and law for people to invest in the construction of roads in Nigeria and recover their money.

“Once the enabling law is there, there will be no problem. People will come and invest; we have received a lot of interests from Brazil and Europe that people want to come and participate in the road construction in Nigeria, as long as they are sure that they will recoup their investment.

“The fear is that, the present laws we have now are not good enough.

“So we are working as a legislature to see what can be done to have legislation that will make it possible for either Nigerians or foreigners to come and invest in the road rehabilitation and construction in Nigeria.

“They can then recover their money and leave the infrastructure to the state government or even renew the construction agreement as the case may be.”

On the 311 million dollars Abatcha loot returned to the country by the united States, Aliero said that the recovered fund would be used essentially to finance the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, Lagos-Ibadan and Sagamu-Benin highways.

“It will also be used to construct the second Niger bridge which is now at an advanced stage of completion.

“During the oversight function of the senate committee on works, we were in all these projects and we have seen a lot of seriousness on the part of the contractors particularly the construction of the second Niger Bridge.

“A lot of engineering work is involved; it is a massive project; it costs well over N250 billion, probably the biggest project in Nigeria today.

“I believe very strongly that if we continue with the funding as arranged by the federal government,  I have no doubt that the constructors will be able to deliver on time.

“Apart from the recovered funds which is being channeled into these three projects, we also have the sovereign wealth fund where we have well over 1.5 billion dollars  which will also be used to finance the construction of these three major projects we have in the country”.

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
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