Monday, 25 September 2017

Idara Inokon, Miss Nigeria USA contestant representing Akwa Ibom, has emerged winner of Miss Nigeria USA 2017 beauty pageant held on Saturday night into early Sunday morning in New York.

Idara, who was crowned by the out gone holder of the title, Miss Lola Adeoye, beat 13 other contestants to emerge winner.

The new Miss Nigeria USA, who was the fourth to be crowned in the pageant, would cart home $10,000 in prizes, according to Ms Joy Fakhoury, the organisers of the annual beauty pageant.

She would also embark on a pet project that would impact on the less privileged back home in Nigeria.

Each of the contestants represented her culture in the pageant that was meant to promote the richness of Nigerian culture, the diversity of its people, the beauty and intellect of the Nigerian lady and to promote togetherness and unity among Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Miss Ondo – Ayoyemi Ajimatanrareje, emerged the First Runner-up, Miss Lagos – Susan Adeyemi, emerged the Second Runner-up, while Miss Rivers, Lucy Edosomwan, emerged Miss Congeniality, in the keenly contested pageant.

The contestants were tested in intelligence, carriage, beauty, knowledge about Nigeria, Nigerian culture, and planned contributions to Nigeria through a pet project during their reign.

Judges said that they had a hard time determining the winners as all the contestants performed outstandingly.

Fourteen contestants made the finals on Saturday, whom were; Miss Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Rivers States.

The new Miss Nigeria USA, while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after her crowning, expressed surprise at her emergence, pledging to devote her reign to impacting the lives of the less privileged in Nigeria.

“I was very surprised, I felt very shaky in the whole competition, you know how nerves get to you but I just said ‘Idara, whatever the outcome, you did your best and so I went out with a smile’.

“I wanted to compete in a different pageant in New York back in April but it happened to be the same weekend as one of my close friend’s.

“And so, I said well, let me reconsider and find a pageant here in the U.S. that has good values and is something I want to stand behind.

“So, when I found Miss Nigeria USA and I found that the pageant was located in New York, I was extremely excited.

“I see it as a moment to share women empowerment and to represent my culture, which is a perfect opportunity. I really want to start to get to work to see how I can serve my community.

“My platform is to create awareness on prevention. As a registered nurse, I do health education on a daily basis.

“It is something I am very passionate about and I believe that if people are educated about their health, they can live healthier lives. So that would be what I would pursue during my reign,” she said.

Inokon, a registered nurse in the U.S., and born to a Nigerian father from Akwa Ibom, graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science and Psychology.

She was also attended the Accelerated Nursing Programme at the University of Delaware and graduated in 2014, and currently a Masters Student in Family Nursing.

The event was attended by many Nigerians across the U.S., Africans and other nationalities resident in America.

Published in Arts & Culture
Sunday, 13 August 2017 22:05

Kenya opposition urges strike over vote

Kenya's opposition leader has urged people to stay away from work on Monday over the disputed election result.

Raila Odinga said it would be a "day of mourning for the fallen patriots" after a rally in Kibera, the largest slum in the capital Nairobi.

The international community has urged calm following the election, which Mr Odinga alleges was fixed.

But after Mr Odinga spoke on Sunday, renewed violence broke out between his supporters and their opponents.

Police fired tear gas in Mathare - a slum where Mr Odinga met the family of a nine-year-old girl shot by a stray bullet.

AFP is reporting at least 16 people were killed between Friday evening and Saturday night. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said on Saturday 24 people had been shot dead during protests since election day on 8 August.

It is unclear how much these two figures overlap.

Tear gas was fired at opposition leader Raila Odinga's supporters

In a tweet sent after the rally, Mr Odinga said they had died at the hands of "Jubilee mandated death squads", referring to Mr Kenyata's party.

A man was also killed in Kisumu county, an opposition stronghold and the centre of post-election ethnic violence in 2007, when 1,200 people died and 600,000 were displaced.

"This is a failed regime that is resorting to killing people instead of addressing the real issue. The vote was stolen. There's no secret about that," Mr Odinga told the 4,000 people who had gathered to hear him talk on Sunday.

The official results gave President Uhuru Kenyatta 54.3%, and Mr Odinga 44.7%.

He added: "We had predicted they will steal the election and that's what happened. We are not done yet. We will not give up. Wait for the next course of action which I will announce the day after tomorrow.

"But for now I want to tell you not to go to work tomorrow Monday)."

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses thousands of his supportersImage copyrightEPA
Mr Odinga has promised a response to the election results on Tuesday

The BBC's reporter in Nairobi said his claims were contrary to reports from both local and international observers that the poll was free and fair.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are among those who have urged Mr Odinga to seek redress through the courts - something the opposition coalition says is not an option.

The Elections Observation Group (Elog), which had 8,300 observers, said its projected outcome put Mr Kenyatta on 54%, just short of the official figure of 54.3%.

Published in Headliners

Kenya's opposition has accused the government of "state terror" and vowed to overturn a "sham" result.

Senior opposition official James Orengo said they would not go to court to achieve this. He urged people to stay calm and out of harm's way.

Mr Orengo alleged that about 100 people had been killed by the Kenyan security forces but did not offer evidence.

Official results gave President Uhuru Kenyatta 54.3%. His challenger Raila Odinga called the election a "charade".

"They knew they were going to steal an election. They knew the people would be unhappy. Therefore all the instruments of violence were put in place," Mr Orengo said.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) meanwhile said 24 people had been shot dead by police during protests.


Hope for return to normality - BBC's Alastair Leithead in Nairobi

Protester in KiberaImage copyrightEPA

What Kenya needs right now is strong leadership. From the government side, that means ensuring security forces don't use excessive force while containing protest.

The opposition National Super Alliance needs to send a clear message to their supporters not to use violence. But in a media conference, lacking the most senior alliance leaders, they said only that people should "stay out of harms way".

They seem lacking in direction and united only by the statement: "We will not be cowed. We will not relent".

They still do not accept the results of the election, but have not yet provided strong evidence for why they believe the elections was rigged, or for the large number of people they claim have been killed.

The clashes are intense but isolated. There is nothing like the level of anger or violence that sparked the killings ten years ago and many Kenyans hope they can return to normal life as soon as possible.


The victims included a nine-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet in a Nairobi's Mathere slum.

A man was also killed in Kisumu county, an opposition stronghold and the centre of post-election ethnic violence in 2007, when 1,200 people died and 600,000 were displaced.

 
The BBC's Emmanuel Igunza says there is an "uneasy calm" in Kisumu

Earlier the Elections Observation Group (Elog), which had 8,300 observers, said its projected outcome put Mr Kenyatta on 54%, just short of the official figure of 54.3%

But Mr Orengo questioned Elog's independence.

Kenya's acting interior minister Fred Matiang'i has urged people to return to their normal lives and called for Kenyans to use social media responsibly.

Mr Matiang'i said most areas were calm but there had been some violence which he blamed on criminals.

Odinga supporters in mathareImage copyrightEPA
Image captionOpposition supporters have been confronting police in Nairobi's Mathare slum
Woman shelters behind police during clashes in Kibera slumImage copyrightREUTERS
Violence also broke out in Kibera slum

Mr Kenyatta has urged peace. "We have seen the results of political violence. And I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to this," he said.

Ahead of the results, Mr Odinga had called on his supporters to remain calm, but added that he did not control anyone, and that "people want to see justice".

Rights group Amnesty International has called for the Kenyan authorities to investigate the killings.


Kenyan media reacts - BBC Monitoring

Kenya newspapersImage copyrightEPA

All major newspapers in Kenya agreed that the president's first duty should be to heal the divisions that were exposed during the election.

The Star newspaper said the extent of Mr Kenyatta's victory "was surprising, even shocking, but we should accept it and move on. Kenya deserves peace and development".

On local radio, pro-ruling party stations hosted jubilant callers. On Radio Nam Lolwe, which broadcasts to opposition areas, a caller spoke of "heartbreaking" scenes where protests had turned violent, saying: "Let us desist from violence and preach peace".

Ramogi FM radio, which broadcasts in the Luo language of defeated candidate Raila Odinga, played gospel music - a break from the usual Saturday discussion programmes.

Published in Business and Economy

Champions Chelsea lost Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas to red cards as they suffered a stunning 3-2 home defeat to Burnley on the opening Saturday of the Premier League season.

Chelsea were down to 10 men with 14 minutes gone when captain Cahill was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Steven Defour, and they fell behind with 24 minutes gone as Sam Vokes guided the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

Burnley's lead was doubled when, with a little over five minutes remaining until the break, Jack Cork set up Stephen Ward to hammer home, and it was 3-0 before the interval when Vokes scored his second with a header.

Marcos Alonso had an effort saved by Burnley keeper Tom Heaton early in the second half before Alvaro Morata was brought on for Michy Batshuayi, and Alonso had a free kick saved soon afterwards.

Morata dived to head home his first Premier League goal from a Willian cross and bundled the ball home moments later only to see an offside flag deny him.

Fabregas then saw red for a second booking -- but David Luiz pulled another one back to set up a frenetic finish in which Burnley's Robbie Brady hit the post and Morata failed to touch home late on.

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Liverpool conceded an injury-time equaliser as they were held 3-3 at Watford in their Premier League opener.

Mohamed Salah looked to have netted a winner on his Liverpool debut, but Miguel Britos headed home from point-blank range in the dying moments to secure a share of the spoils.

Liverpool -- without Philippe Coutinho, who was ruled out with a back injury amid intense speculation over his future -- fell behind on eight minutes, with Stefano Okaka taking advantage of some poor defending from a corner to head past Simon Mignolet.

Sadio Mane hit back on 29 minutes, but Liverpool's defensive weaknesses were exposed again as Abdoulaye Doucoure slotted in for 2-1.

Liverpool turned it around early in the second half, with Roberto Firmino equalising from the penalty spot after Salah was brought down in the area by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on 55 minutes and then Salah nudging home.

Two goals in three minutes set Huddersfield up for a dream start to life in the Premier League as they defeated Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

Tom Ince missed an early chance to give the Terriers the lead when he sent a bouncing effort from Tommy Smith's cross straight at keeper Wayne Hennessey.

But they were ahead after 23 minutes when Palace failed to deal with an Aaron Mooy corner and the ball deflected in off Joel Ward -- and with Palace rocking Mooy crossed again and Steve Mounie headed home.

Palace made a half-time change, with Andros Townsend coming on in place of Luka Milivojevic, and Christian Benteke almost pulled a goal back -- but Huddersfield made sure when Mounie struck again.

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Sergio Aguero was on target as Manchester City denied Brighton any hope of a shock on their Premier League debut.

Pep Guardiola's side, for all their riches, took time to get into their groove in a 2-0 win at the Amex Stadium.

But the moment they did it was ruthless as striker Aguero converted 20 minutes from time.

Lewis Dunk turned Fernandinho's cross through goalkeeper Mathew Ryan grasp and into his own net soon afterwards as City prevailed after previously being frustrated.

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Wayne Rooney scored the decisive goal on his second Everton debut as the big-spending Merseysiders beat Stoke City 1-0 at Goodison Park.

New-look Everton had marginally the better of a disjointed opening spell with Sandro, another of their new signings, seeing an effort trundle just wide of the Stoke goal.

But Rooney ended a scrappy first half when he headed in to mark his Goodison homecoming in the best possible style.

Stoke started the second half in determined fashion but found good chances at a premium with Darren Fletcher coming closest when he seized on a loose ball 25 yards out and drilled narrowly wide from distance, and they were denied at the end when new home keeper Jordan Pickford made a fine stop from Xherdan Shaqiri.

*********************************
West Bromwich Albion made another set piece pay as they opened the season with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at The Hawthorns.

The visitors produced plenty of neat football throughout, but were unable to create much threat and fell behind after 31 minutes when Ahmed Hegazi headed in a Chris Brunt free kick.

Jermain Defoe came on for Bournemouth after the break, replacing Benik Afobe, but the former Sunderland striker had little to work with as West Brom held firm.

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Southampton suffered a frustrating afternoon as they were held 0-0 at home by Swansea City.

Dusan Tadic missed a fine early chance to put the home side in front when he guided a close-range finish wide from Ryan Bertrand's inviting cross, and James Ward-Prowse saw an effort deflected over as the home side kept control.

They continued to create the better openings, with a Nathan Redmond cross creating havoc before Swansea scraped the ball away, but struggled to carve out clear chances against a well-organised visiting side.

Dusan Tadic went close late on as Southampton made it a club-record six home league games in a row without a goal, their worst run since the 1930s.

Published in Sports
 

At least 27 people, including three police officers, were killed in clashes between protesters and police in Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The majority of the deaths were in the capital, Kinshasa, where members of the separatist sect Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) marched against President Joseph Kabila and attacked a prison Monday.

BDK is just one of many sources of opposition to Kabila that have threatened to plunge the vast, mineral-rich central African country into chaos since the president refused to step down when his mandate expired in December.

“Prompt and impartial investigations are needed to determine who is responsible for the deaths. … Violence by protesters or excessive use of force by security forces should not be tolerated and those responsible should be held accountable,” HRW Central Africa director Ida Sawyer said.

Congo security forces shot into crowds to disperse the protesters in Kinshasa, killing 11 BDK members and 10 bystanders, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Others were killed in similar clashes in the southwestern cities of Matadi and Muanda, it added.

Congo’s police spokesman said Wednesday that 19 people had been killed in total, including 17 BDK members and two police.

Published in Headliners

This is the $37.5m Banana Island, Lagos property belonging to former petroleum resources minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, which a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered should be temporary forfeited to the Federal Government.

The property has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses. It is located as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 00:46

Kenyans vote in tight, tense elections

Kenyans began voting Tuesday in general elections headlined by a too-close-to-call battle between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga that has sent tensions soaring in east Africa’s richest economy.

From first-time voters to those bent with age, thousands descended upon polling stations, some from before midnight, to cast their ballots under heavy security.

Voting began relatively smoothly, with minor delays and technical hiccups, while all eyes are on a biometric voter identification and tallying system whose success is seen as crucial to a smooth election.

“I voted Raila, because he will be so much better to us. But if he does not win, it’s ok. It’s a democracy after all. Really, there’s no need for violence,” said Tom Mboya, 43, who works in construction and voted in the capital’s largest slum Kibera.

Tensions soared in the last days of the campaign with the murder of a top election official in charge of the electronic voting system and opposition claims of a plot to rig the vote heightening a feverish atmosphere of conspiracy and suspicion.

The polls come a decade after a shambolic election — which foreign observers agreed was riddled with irregularities — sparked violence which left more than 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

Odinga, 72, who is the flagbearer for the NASA coalition, is taking his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency.

He claims elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him and right up until the eve of the vote, insisted that Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party planned to rig Tuesday’s presidential election.

Elections in 2013 were marred by the widespread failure of the electronic system, forcing officials to revert to manual counting of the vote. However Odinga took his grievances to the courts instead of the streets, where he lost.

Dynastic rivalry
The devolution of power to Kenya’s 47 counties after a post-conflict constitutional reform means elections are now a complex affair, with citizens casting six different ballots.

Several tight races for posts such as governor have seen tensions flaring at the local level.

Nevertheless all eyes are on what is set to be the last showdown of a dynastic rivalry that has lasted more than half a century since the presidential candidates’ fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga went from allies in the struggle for independence to bitter rivals.

The men belong to two of the country’s main ethnic groups, Kenyatta from the Kikuyu, the largest, and Odinga from the Luo.

Both have secured formidable alliances with other influential communities in a country where voting takes place largely along tribal lines.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking re-election after a first term in which he oversaw a massive infrastructure drive and steady economic growth of more than five percent.

“He has done a lot for the country and he must absolutely be re-elected. He has built a lot of infrastructure, like the SGR train (between Nairobi and Mombasa), he has created jobs,” said Evelyn Sum, 32, dressed in an elegant brown coat.

However Kenyatta is also criticised for soaring food prices — with prices jumping 20 percent year-on-year in May — and massive corruption scandals on his watch.

“Life is more and more expensive, especially the flour and the sugar. That’s not good for poor people like us, and we hope that Odinga will change this,” said Rose Lida, 48, wrapped in a red Maasai blanket on the chilly morning.

Obama urges peace
Former US president Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, led a chorus of international calls on the eve of the vote for a peaceful election.

“I urge Kenyan leaders to reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people,” Obama said in a statement.

There are more than 19 million registered voters in the nation of 48 million. Half are aged under 35.

More than 150,000 security forces — including wildlife, prison and forestry officers — have been deployed for the vote, which ends at 5pm (1400 GMT).

Counting will begin immediately and the polls commission has a week to release final results.

Published in Headliners

*N234m, $5m in bank accounts
*Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt houses listed

SOME OF THE ASSETS:
A block of six units serviced apartments at 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three-bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments in Yaba
A twin four-bedroom duplex at Lekki Phase one, Lagos
A large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos
A duplex at 10, Frederick Chiluba Close in Asokoro, Abuja
A six-bedroom en-suite apartment on Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja
16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes at No. Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

 

A massive investigation has revealed former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke’s love for property.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has so far traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.

The agency also claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) cash in various banks.

But only the about $37.5million Banana Island property has been forfeited to the Federal Government by the ex-minister.

On Monday , Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of the property.

These revelations were contained in a fact-sheet released by the Public Affairs Directorate of the EFCC.

The fact-sheet is signed by two officers of the directorate, Mr. Tony Orilade and Aishah Gambari.

The document reads: “Apart from the jewellery, the EFCC, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption agency, has traced N47.2billion and $487.5million in cash and properties to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“This followed painstaking investigations by operatives of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”

In the fact-sheet, the EFCC gave the details of the properties linked with the ex-minister.

It accused Mrs. Alison Madueke of acquiring a block of six units serviced apartments a few metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub in Ikoyi.

The document added: “Also in Lagos, Alison-Madueke allegedly bought a block of six units serviced apartments at number 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, just a few hundred metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub.

“The apartment has a standby power generating set, sporting facilities, play ground and a water treatment plant. The property was bought at the rate of N800 million (Eight hundred million naira) on January 6, 2012.

“Other properties in Yaba, Lagos, also discovered by the eagle eyes of the Commission’s operatives, are located at number 7, Thurnburn Street and 5, Raymond Street. The Thurnburn Street property consists of 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments.

“The Raymond Street property is made up of two en-suite 2-bedroom apartments and one four bedroom apartment.

“The Yaba, Lagos properties, which dug a deep hole of an eye-popping N1billion (One billion naira), were paid for on May 30, 2012. The same day Alison-Madueke splashed N900 million for the Port Harcourt estate.

“In Lekki Phase one, an upscale neighbourhood of Lagos, operatives found a twin four-bedroom duplex. The duplex is located on Plot 33, Block 112, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme Phase 1, Lekki, Lagos, with an estimated value of over N200million (Two hundred million naira).

“Also in Lagos, a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos has also been traced to the former Petroleum Resources Minister. The land, which is located in Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki peninsular, Lagos and currently being utilised as a dumping site, was bought on February 16, 2012 for N135million (One hundred and thirty- five million naira).

“Plot 8, Gerard Road Ikoyi, Lagos, another property traced to Alison-Madueke, is a penthouse on the 11th floor in the Block B Wing of the building. It was bought for N12million (Twelve million naira) on December 20, 2011.”

Besides the properties in Lagos, the commission claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke allegedly bought choice mansions in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State.

It said: “On Plot 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, in the serene, upscale Asokoro District of Abuja, lies a tastefully built and finished duplex. In the compound, there are also a guest chalet, boy’s quarters, an elegant swimming pool, fully equipped sports gym and a host of other amenities.

“ Investigators have discovered that the property acquired by the ex-minister in December, 2009, at the cost of N400 million (Four hundred million naira) was never declared in any of the asset declaration forms filed by Alison-Madueke.

“Also linked to the former Minister in Abuja is a mini-estate at Mabushi, Abuja. The estate, located on Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi Gardens Estate, houses 13 three-bedroom terrace houses, each with one bedroom en-suite maid’s quarters. It was purchased on April 2, 2012 at the princely sum of N650million (Six Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).

“In Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja, Alison-Madueke reportedly acquired a six bedroom en-suite apartment made up of three large living rooms, two bedroom guest chalets, two-bedroom boys quarters, two lock up garages and a car park. It was bought on July 20, 2011 for N80million (Eighty million naira).

“Down South in Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt, the former minister’s acquisitive appetite took her to Heritage Court Estate, located on Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu Government Residential Area, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

“The Estate, which is made up of 16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes, is equipped with, among other facilities, a massive standby power generating set. Alison-Madueke did not blink as she shelled out N900million (Nine hundred million naira) for it on May 30, 2012.

“In neighbouring Bayelsa State, an apartment with two blocks of flats, all en-suite, and with a maid’s quarters was also traced to her. The house located on Goodluck Jonathan Road, Yenagoa is sitting on a large expanse of land.

“Realtors spoken to by EFCC investigators have placed estimated values running into hundreds of millions of Naira on the property. The apartments have four living rooms, eight bedrooms and gold-plated furniture.”

Besides jewelry and property, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, EFCC operatives claim, has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) in various Nigerian banks.

Published in Business and Economy

Senegal's ruling party has won a large parliamentary majority, according to official provisional results, following an election last Sunday that opposition leaders say was tainted by fraud.

President Macky Sall's ruling coalition took 125 seats in the 165-seat National Assembly after winning nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to the results announced on national television late on Friday.

The coalition of 91-year-old former president Abdoulaye Wade, whom Sall defeated in a 2012 presidential election that cemented Senegal's reputation as one of West Africa's most stable democracies, won 19 seats. A coalition led by jailed Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall won seven seats.

Last Sunday's vote was marred by delays in issuing biometric identity cards that prevented hundreds of voters from casting their ballots, part of what opposition leaders said was an intensifying clampdown on political opposition.

Published in Business and Economy

Rwanda’s electoral commission says President Paul Kagame has won a third term in a landslide victory.

The commission said partial results of Friday’s election had the president winning 98 percent of the votes. In July, Kagame told a political rally that “the day of the presidential elections will just be a formality.”

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are (economically) developing,” Kagame said in a speech broadcast live early Friday.

At the national headquarters of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front political party, thousands of political leaders, supporters and donors watched large screen televisions displaying the election results as they came in district by district.

Supporters thrilled

“Tonight we are very, very, extremely happy because he accepted our request [to lead the country],” said Fred Namania, a 30-year-old medical student, at the event. “And, we are looking forward to a lot of things being done in the next seven years.”

Kagame has been in power for 17 years. A 2015 constitutional referendum, approved by 98 percent of voters, could allow Kagame to remain in power until 2034.

“I feel like President Kagame should lead us for [more] decades,” Namania said.

Other Kagame supporters told VOA they aren’t looking for a president for life.

“At the end of the [new] seven-year term of his excellency, Paul Kagame, someone will continue after him,” Kagame supporter Joseph Zorondera said after casting his ballot at the Mbandazi Primary School primary school outside Kigali.

“We need a good leader in our country now to continue to secure the country, to help the people of Rwanda and to continue to develop the country for the next seven years,” he added.

Polling staff carry a ballot box before counting at a polling center in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.
Polling staff carry a ballot box before counting at a polling center in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.

Voting appeared to be smooth

Voting was calm as people trickled into the school in the hilly outskirts of the sprawling capital city, casting ballots in different classrooms.

Valerian Musengamana, the polling station chief, told VOA “the people are very happy with the activities of the election. They are really satisfied.”

The East African Community sent international observers to monitor the polls. The European Union decided not to send a team of observers. Representatives of local observer missions told VOA they hadn’t encountered any significant issues and that the voting appeared to be progressing smoothly.

Green Party presidential candidate Frank Habineza addresses the media after casting his vote in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.
Green Party presidential candidate Frank Habineza addresses the media after casting his vote in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.

Opposition presidential candidate Frank Habineza, of the Green Party, told VOA that some of his party’s observers had been denied access to polling stations but, after informing the National Election Commission, 95 percent of them were permitted to monitor the voting process.

Habineza is one of two challengers Kagame faced in his bid for a third term. Independent Philippe Mpayimana is also on the ballot.

Few of their supporters would accept to be interviewed at the polls.

“I chose [the Green] party simply because of its good platform,” said voter Charles Ndamage, with electoral commission officials watching nearby. “The manifesto presented by Habineza was very interesting to me. For instance, the fact that he wants to develop the country by reducing the step between rich people and poor people.”

A polling staff member counts ballots at a polling center in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.
A polling staff member counts ballots at a polling center in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 4, 2017.

Kagame endorsements

Nine of the 11 political parties permitted to register in Rwanda have endorsed Kagame. Four other presidential hopefuls were disqualified by the electoral commission. The government and ruling party have brushed off allegations from human rights groups that authorities have restricted freedom of expression and stifled political opposition.

Kagame is widely credited with stabilizing the country after a 1994 genocide.

“They [the opposition candidates] are good but … I don’t think any of them will do better than Paul Kagame. Because we have seen for the last few years that he has been on, the changes. It’s really a big change. It’s obvious,” said voter Imelda Batamoliza.

Kagame’s supporters point to developments like improved roads, more communities connected to clean water, and recently built schools.

 
Published in Headliners
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