Donald Trump Wins U.S. Electoral College Vote

Donald Trump Wins U.S. Electoral College VoteThe US Electoral College has certified Donald Trump as president, despite a last-ditch effort to deny him the White House six weeks after winning the general polls.

The Republican garnered more than the 270 electoral votes required to win, even as at least half a dozen U.S. electors broke with tradition to vote against their own state’s directives, the largest number of “faithless electors” seen in more than a century.

Now set to take office on January 20, Mr Trump, in his reaction, promised to “work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans”.

Electors had been flooded with emails and phone calls urging them not to support the billionaire.

Protesters briefly disrupted Wisconsin’s Electoral College balloting. In Austin, Texas, about 100 people chanting: “Dump Trump” and waving signs reading: “The Eyes of Texas are Upon You” gathered at the state capitol trying to sway electors.

In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans went rogue, underscoring deep divisions within their party.

At least four Democratic electors voted for someone other than Clinton, while two Republicans turned their backs on Trump.

Texas ultimately put the president-elect over the 270 threshold, despite two of its electors voting against him.

With nearly all votes counted, Trump had clinched 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227, according to an Associated Press tally of the voting by 538 electors across the country.

The voting process is usually a formality, but was clouded this year by claims that Russian hackers tried to sway the presidential election.

The result will be officially announced on 6 January in a special joint session of Congress.

 

U.S. Electoral College Expected To Confirm Trump Victory

U.S. Electoral College Expected To Confirm Trump VictoryThe U.S. Electoral College is expected on Monday to officially select Republican Donald Trump as the next president in a vote that is usually routine.

The electoral vote takes place this year amid allegations of Russian hacking to try to influence the election.

At meetings scheduled in every state and the District of Columbia, the institution’s 538 electors, generally chosen by state parties, will cast official ballots for president and vice president.

It is highly unlikely the vote will change the outcome of the Nov. 8 election, which gave the White House to Trump after he won a majority of Electoral College votes. The popular vote went to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But the conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to sway the election for Trump has prompted Democrats to urge some electors not to vote as directed by their state’s popular ballot.

The leaked emails disclosed details of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street, party infighting and inside criticism about Clinton’s use of a private server to send emails while U.S. Secretary of State.

The disclosures led to embarrassing media coverage and prompted some party officials to resign.

Trump and his team dismiss intelligence claims of Russian interference, accusing Democrats and their allies of trying to undermine the legitimacy of his election victory.

Russian officials have denied accusations of interfering in the election.

On Sunday, Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, said it was an open question whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia about the emails, an allegation that Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, denied.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators called for a special committee probe of cyber attacks by Russia and other countries.

The number of Electoral College electors equals the number of representatives and senators in Congress, with each state receiving a share roughly proportional to its population size.

When voters go to the polls to cast a ballot for president, they are actually choosing a presidential candidate’s preferred slate for their state.

A candidate must secure 270 votes to win. Trump won 306 electors from 30 states.

The electors convene meetings in each state to cast ballots about six weeks after each presidential election.

If no candidate reaches 270 in the Electoral College, the president is chosen by the U.S. House of Representatives – currently controlled by Republicans.

Russia Backs Syrian Forces In Major Assault On Insurgents

syriaSyrian troops and militia backed by Russian warplanes mounted what appeared to be their first major coordinated assault on Syrian insurgents on Wednesday and Moscow said its warships fired a barrage of missiles at them from the Caspian Sea, a sign of its new military reach.

The combined operation hit towns close to the main north-south highway that runs through major cities in the mainly government-held west of Syria, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group which tracks the conflict via a network of sources within the country.

Ground attacks by Syrian government forces and their militia allies using heavy surface-to-surface missile bombardments hit at least four insurgent positions and there were heavy clashes, the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdulrahman, said.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia took part in the fight, according to a regional source who is familiar with the military situation in Syria.

Abdulrahman said later there was no sign that Syrian troops and their allies had made any tangible advances on the ground.

They briefly entered one town, but were forced to pull back, he said, and around 15 of their tanks or armored vehicles had been either destroyed or disabled.

Islamic State militants have seized much from Syria since civil war grew out of anti-government protests in 2011, but the areas targeted in Wednesday’s combined assault are held by other rebels, some U.S.-backed, fueling accusations by Russia’s critics that its real aim is to help the government.

Moscow says it shares the West’s aim of preventing the spread of Islamic State, and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin during a televised meeting that four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea had launched 26 missiles at Islamic State in Syria earlier in the day.

The missiles would have passed over Iran and Iraq to reach their targets, covering what Shoigu described as a distance of almost 1,500 km (900 miles), the latest display of Russian military power at a time when relations with the West are at a post-Cold War low over Ukraine.

The terrain-hugging Kalibr cruise missiles, known by NATO by the codename Sizzler, fly at an altitude of 50 meters and are accurate to within three meters, the Russian defense ministry said.

The air campaign in Syria has caught Washington and its allies on the back foot and alarmed Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey, which says its air space has been repeatedly violated by Russian jets.

Ankara summoned Russia’s ambassador for the third time in four days over the reported violations, which NATO has said appeared to be deliberate and were “extremely dangerous”.

Buhari Leaves Nigeria For U.S With 33 Delegates

President-Buhari-3President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to arrive Washington D.C in the United States at 9pm, Nigerian time.

The President, accompanied by 33 delegates, will be hosted by his United States counterpart, President Barack Obama at the White House.

This visit is expected to underscore the U.S longstanding friendship with Nigeria.

According to White House statement, the US President is looking forward to President Buhari’s visit and the issue of Boko Haram will feature prominently.

“In addition to hosting President Buhari at the White House, the United States will welcome President Buhari’s Senior Advisers for consultations with US counterparts and other events aimed at building on the strong US Nigeria relation.”

America Will Support Nigeria On Credible Election- Biden

Joe Biden- ElectionThe United States Vice President, Mr Joe Biden, has said America will stand by the Nigerian people in the desire for credible and peaceful elections.

Mr Biden, who has been interacting with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposing All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidates for Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, said he is pleased with the peace accord signed in mid-January by President Goodluck Jonathan and General Mohammadu Buhari, as a show of their commitment to non-violence throughout the election process.

He also expressed concern over the violence recorded at some recent election-related events in the country, reiterating the need for both candidates to make clear that such violence had no place in a democratic process.

However, he expressed the United States’ support for the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its efforts to deliver free, fair and credible elections.

Earlier in the year, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry was in Nigeria where he held separate meetings with the Nigerian President and General Buhari on the same issue.

He said in a meeting with General Buhari in Ikoyi, Lagos, that the United States President, Barrack Obama, was interested in Nigeria, being the largest economy in Africa.

Agbaje, Ambode Sign Peace Deal Ahead Of Elections

Agbaje_ambodeTwo governorship candidates in the forthcoming general elections in Lagos State on Monday signed a Peace Pledge committing them to non-violence before, during and after the elections.

The Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Jimi Agbaje and All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Akin Ambode signed the plede at the official residence of the United States Consul-General in Lagos, Jeffrey Hawkins, in the presence of the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, as well as Nigerian religious leaders.

Other signatories to the document include Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Imam Abdulrahman Ahmad, National Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, Senior Pastor and prelate of House on the Rock, and Sheikh Abdurrahman Adangba, National Missioner of Fatil-ul-Qareeb Islamic Society.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, had joined several other people calling for a violence-free elections when he visited Nigeria in January.

Mr Kerry spoke with the presidential candidates of the two main parties, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Kerry, in a meeting with General Buhari in Ikoyi, Lagos, said that the United States President, Barrack Obama, was interested in Nigeria, being the largest economy in Africa.

He also said that the U.S. was concerned about Nigeria’s security situation because of the threat that Boko Haram has posed in recent times.

This will be the second meeting the American authorities have held with only candidates of the two major political parties in Nigeria.

Young Nigerians Encouraged To Apply For Mandela Washington Fellowship

Mandela Washington FellowshipNigerian youths have been encouraged to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme for 2015.

Mandela Washington Fellows, Rita Omovbude and Ebuka Emebinah, were guests on Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television on Sunday to share their experiences while undergoing the programme in the United States.

Omovbude said that earlier in 2014, about 50,000 Africans applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, out of which only 500 were selected, with 44 coming from Nigeria.

With participants sent to undergo six-week trainings in different universities in the US, they were trained in three main areas of Business and Entrepreneur, Public Management and Civic Leadership, while some were also given the opportunity to stay back for internships.

Describing the application process, Rita explained how she applied and got selected for the programme. She recalled that in one of the essays they were required to write, she had to imagine herself being Nigerian President.

Sharing her experience from the fellowship, she highlighted networking with 500 African youths on the programme as a major opportunity she got, asides the academic and leadership trainings.

Ebuka Emebinah explained that the annual programme which was initiated by US President, Barrack Obama, was designed to help develop the human capital on the African continent.

President Obama, according to him, believes that Africa’s problem is manpower, and because most of Africa’s manpower is young, there was needMandela Washington Fellowship to target these young people who are assuming leadership positions in their communities and professions.

For the 2015 programme, Emebinah disclosed that there is usually a strong bias for gender balance and the fellowship has encouraged more women to apply.

He revealed that it has been decided that the selection for the 2015 programme would also accommodate an equal distribution women and men, adding that people in the rural areas and in government are also encouraged to apply in order to fill up the 50 slots allocated to Nigeria.

Nigerian youths not older that 35 years are encouraged to visit www.youngafricanleaders.state.gov to fill the application form to register their interest to be part of the selection process.

A good command of the English language is, however, one of the criteria for selection, as they would be required to write several essays and at a stage would be invited to defend their ideas before a panel.

 

Obama Urges Nigerian Government And Boko Haram To Implement Ceasefire Agreement

obama_ebolaUS President, Barack Obama, has asked the Nigerian government and the Boko haram sect to implement the ceasefire agreement reached on October 17.

The Nigerian government on Friday, announced that it had reached a deal with Boko Haram to ceasefire and also release the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls, but attacks on towns in Borno State had continued after the ceasefire agreement, with the military killing at least 30 insurgents on Sunday.

President Obama, who spoke through the deputy spokesperson of the State Department, Ms Marie Harf, at a press briefing in Washington, DC, said his administration would welcome an end to hostilities in Nigeria.

In the statement read by Ms Harf, President Obama said: “We confirm reports that a ceasefire has been announced and it appears to have been put into place. We would welcome that ceasefire and call on all parties both to implement and maintain such a ceasefire, and hope that such a ceasefire would herald the return of peace to the northeast. This is a region that has had far too little of that”.

However, the ceasefire agreement between the Federal Government and Boko Haram sect, has been trailed with a lot of controversies and doubts.

Barely 24 hours after the announcement, Boko Haram terrorists allegedly carried out series of deadly attacks on a number of Nigerian villages in Borno State.

Two days later, no fewer than 30 members of the sect, were reportedly killed in a fierce battle with soldiers in Damboa town of Borno State.

After attacks continued despite the ceasefire agreement, the Borno Elders Forum expressed doubts that the ceasefire deal was reached with genuine Boko Haram leaders.

Obama, Mark, Others Congratulate Nigeria On 54th Independence Anniversary

obama_ebolaUnited States President, Barack Obama, has congratulated President Goodluck Jonathan and Nigerians on Nigeria’s 54th independence anniversary.

“As Nigerians observe this special day, we wish you a more peaceful and prosperous year” he said in a statement.

“Nigeria continues to play a key role in Africa and at the UN in promoting regional peace and stability” adding that “at the heart of our enduring friendship is our shared commitment to democratic values, the rule of law and economic development”.

President Obama also said that the United States is looking forward to “strengthening our relationship and working closely in the coming year especially in promoting good governance and combating terrorism.”

In addition to Obama’s congratulatory message, Senate President, David Mark and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, on Tuesday urged Nigerians to sustain their faith in Nigeria and remain steadfast in the effort to promote peace and the unity of Nigeria no matter the challenges.

Mark, in a goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the 54th independence anniversary, dismissed the perception in some quarters that Nigeria had not made progress since independence, saying, “Let us cast our minds back a little and see the number of roads, schools, universities, health institutions, telecommunications infrastructure and a host of others.

“We may not have been where we want to be but we have made appreciable progress and we can do more. All we need to do is to strengthen our unity as one people with one mission and purpose.

“A stable democracy has offered us an opportunity to harness our abundant resources for good.

“Nigeria has passed through many challenges in the past and we came out of it. The security challenges; this Boko Haram can be defeated if we unite to fight them. I believe Boko Haram, terrorism or the insurgency is alien to us as a people. We have the capacity to defeat them and confine them to the dustbin of history.”

He added, “We cannot correct perceived imbalances by taking up arms against our brothers, sisters and the nation. We must therefore continue to shun individuals or groups that encourage, preach and practise division among our people. We must shun every harbinger of hate and bond together as a people of common interest and destiny.

“As legislators we will continue to do our part to wit; provide the needed legislative framework for the executive arm of government to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.

“Let me use this occasion to remind our fellow country men and women that as 2015 elections approach, we must not lose sight of the fact that the election should not be seen as war. We must play the game according to the rules.”

In his own message, Ekweremadu commended Nigerians on the advent of the current democratic dispensation, urging them to continue in their determination to sustain it.

He said, “At 54, Nigeria has made progress, as the people have through absolute determination and sacrifice jointly laid the foundation for speedy national transformation by achieving an unprecedented 15 years of uninterrupted democratic streak.

“However, celebrating our independence anniversary at the threshold of the 2015 general election is also a call to duty to add to the nation’s democratic credentials and development by collectively working for a free, fair, and credible general election.”

He said that the Senate would not leave any stone unturned in providing solid legal frameworks and would provide all the necessary legislative support to guarantee the success of both the 2015 general election and subsequent ones.

He also commended Jonathan’s government for its determination to end terrorism in the country as evidenced in the recent successes recorded in the war against insurgency.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, urged Nigerians to work tirelessly to promote the tenets of democracy, good governance and responsible citizenry.

In a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal appealed to the political elite to moderate their utterances and be mindful of their responsibility to the country.

He said with the elections scheduled for early 2015, all leaders must avoid acts that could heat up the polity. According to him, “What is of paramount importance now is for political office holders to approach elections with the intentions to play by the rules.”

While congratulating Nigerians, Tambuwal restated the commitment of the House of Representatives to uphold the ideals of a united Nigeria, which he said, shall take its rightful place in the comity of nations.

Similarly, Tambuwal’s deputy, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, expressed optimism that Nigeria would rise again and claim her rightful place in the international community.

The Deputy Speaker, in a message by his media aide, Oke Epia, said that in spite of the current challenges relating to security and development, the country would be propelled to the top, given the human and material resources abundant in the land and efforts being made by government to put things right.

He called on Nigerians to remain steadfast and resilient in the pursuit of national unity and glory, while calling on leaders at different levels to be patriotic and put the nation first in the discharge of their duties.

Ihedioha congratulated Nigerians on the occasion of the independence anniversary, saying: “Though there is much that is desired to bring our country to its place of pride, there is also much that is being done to move the country forward.”

Obama Describes Ebola As Threat To Global Security

obama_ebolaUnited States President, Barack Obama, has described the Ebola outbreak in West Africa “a threat to global security”, as he announced a larger US role in fighting the virus.

The world was looking to the US, Mr Obama said, but added that the outbreak required a “global response”. The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.

Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The announcement came as UN officials called the outbreak a health crisis “unparalleled in modern times”. The funds needed to fight the outbreak have increased 10-fold in the past month and $1bn (£614m) was needed to fight the outbreak, the UN’s Ebola co-ordinator said.

Massive surge needed’

Mr Obama said that among other measures, the US would:

*Build 17 healthcare facilities, each with 100 beds and isolation spaces, in Liberia

*Train as many as 500 health care workers a week

*Develop an air bridge to get supplies into affected countries faster

*Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will deliver to Liberia this week.

Mr Obama called on other countries to step up their response, as a worsening outbreak would lead to “profound political, economic and security implications for all of us”.

Ebola only spreads in close contact, and there is no cure and no vaccine. The outbreak began in Guinea last December before spreading to its neighbours Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Mr Obama said the outbreak had reached epidemic proportions in West Africa, as the disease “completely overwhelmed” hospitals and clinics and people were “literally dying on the streets”.

Meanwhile in Guinea, a team of health officials was attacked on Tuesday in a village they were visiting to raise awareness of the illness. People in Wamey, in the south of the country, threw stones at the team, which included WHO and Red Cross representatives. At least 10 officials were hurt, and several who escaped into the bush are still missing.

Also on Tuesday, a US congressional panel heard testimony from Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and Dr Kent Brantly, who recovered from an Ebola infection after receiving an experimental treatment for the disease.

Dr Fauci told the committee that 10 volunteers in a separate vaccine study had shown no ill effects from an early stage trial.

Earlier on Tuesday, the WHO welcomed China’s pledge to send a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone, which will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses.

Chibok Girls : We Are Not Against Third Party Dialogue – Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan

The Federal Government says it is not against intermediaries that have offered to persuade the Boko Haram terrorist group to release over 200 Chibok Girls kidnapped in Borno State, April this year.

President Goodluck Jonathan told the Washington Times in USA, where he attend an African Leaders Summit convened by US President Barrack Obama, that the government welcomed the efforts of the intermediaries, stressing that all avenues would be explored to rescue the girls.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, quotes the President as saying that ”while appreciating the support of the international community in an ongoing rescue effort of Chibok Girls, their safety should be considered paramount in several methods of the operation”.
While describing a strict military approach to the rescue effort as ‘delicate’, President Jonathan said: “If it is to risk a few dead bodies, it is easier. You can blast the place and carry the corpses. But is that what we have to do? So it is delicate”.

According to the President, the Federal Government has information on the location of the kidnapped girls, but was being mindful of the consequences of invading the location to avoid a repeat of an episode in February 2013, in which an offshoot of Boko Haram killed 7 foreign hostages in Northern Nigeria before authorities could rescue them.

He believes members of the Islamist militant group are ready to die when dealing with such scenario. “It is different from an ordinary kidnapping by criminals or people who don’t want to die. So it is very, very delicate.”

President Jonathan, however, stressed that the dialogue option was not being ruled out, explaining that the government had set up a dialogue committee on the security challenge also in north, even before the Chibok girls were kidnapped.

“We have a team and we encourage people to assist them. Quite a number of people have come with different information. But none of them has yielded any results yet,” he said.

The President expressed the government’s commitment to winning the war against terrorism in Northern Nigeria as well as rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed by insurgents. He called on all leaders in the region to co-operate with the Federal Government and assist security agencies with necessary information to accomplish their mission of securing lives and property of citizens.

Jonathan Arrives In Washington, Gets Rousing Reception

Jonathan_Washington1President Goodluck Jonathan has arrived in Washington DC to participate in a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit, with a rousing reception from some Nigerians in the US.

He was received by a group of Nigerians in Washington before checking in in his hotel.

The presidential jet touched the grounds at about 8.o’clock in the morning in Washington. There was no airport ceremony but at the President’s hotel, a group of Nigerians were already waiting to give him a rousing reception.

The President promised the Nigerians, who were singing and chanting the National Anthem to welcome him, that he would do his best to take the nation to the next level.

He told them that he was doing everything possible to make Nigeria a comfortable place to live in.

Speaking to Channels Television on the President’s itinerary, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, dispelled the rumours making the rounds that the President has been indisposed.

Jonathan_Washington

He said that the trip to Washington would further deepen the relationship with the United States.

He also debunked reports that Nigerians on the trip would be tested for Ebola virus, describing it as untrue.

President Jonathan is joined by about 50 other participating African leaders for discussions that are expected to lead to greater progress in key areas such as expanding trade and investment ties,  promoting inclusive sustainable development and expanding cooperation on peace and security.