Four Republican candidates for New York governor pledged to undo years of one-party rule and focus on battling crime and improving the economy if elected to office during a televised debate Monday night.
It’s an uphill battle for Republicans vying for the governor’s office in New York, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 2 to 1. The state’s last Republican governor was George Pataki, who served from 1995 to 2006.
The field includes U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and businessman Harry Wilson. Candidate Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York City’s former mayor, is set to appear remotely.
Giuliani, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, said he was barred from participating in-person in the Monday primary debate because he has refused to submit proof he’s been vaccinated against Covid-19. He said he told debate organizers he would take multiple tests leading up to and on the day of the debate.
People are also reading…
Giuliani said if elected, he will restore the jobs of public workers fired for not getting the vaccine. He pledged Monday to empower the police and called for a return to widespread stop and frisk policies in New York City.
In 2013, a judge ruled New York City police violated the constitution by stopping, questioning and frisking mostly Black and Hispanic people on the street en masse.
Astorino, a Republican former radio industry professional and two-term Westchester County executive, is running for governor for a second time. He’s promised to release an agenda to address New York’s steep job loss stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of government corruption and the state’s high taxes and cost of living.
The two Democrats challenging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s bid to keep her job criticized her Tuesday for her past backing from the National Rifle Association and the deal she reached to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer money on a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Hochul, appearing in her first debate Tuesday night, defended the stadium deal and said she her positions on guns had evolved in the 10 years since she got a favorable rating from the NRA. She is being challenged by U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi of Long Island and New York City’s elected Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Astorino said Trump “bears some responsibility” in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection but said it’s time for the country to move on.
Zeldin, a Trump ally and an Army veteran who has represented New York’s 1st Congressional District since 2015, has accused Democrats of being soft on criminals and overzealous in imposing safety protocols intended to fight COVID-19.
Zeldin touted his support from the National Rifle Association and said he wanted to repeal a 2013 state gun control law that broadened the definition of assault weapons and required universal background checks in part.
When asked if New York should ban guns from specific public places in case the Supreme Court overturns the state’s concealed carry restrictions, Zeldin said: “Gun-free zones don’t work. They actually become a target.”
Businessman Harry Wilson, of Johnstown, entered the race this spring by launching a $12 million television advertisement campaign.
He’s worked for Goldman Sachs and founded a White Plains advisory firm, and also served as a U.S. Treasury Department advisor under former President Obama.
Wilson faced criticism for his Democratic ties, with Zeldin calling him a “never Trumper.” But Wilson said Zeldin had asked him to run as his running mate, and vowed to use his private sector experience to end corruption in Albany.
Stay up-to-date on the latest in local and national government and political topics with our newsletter.
FACT-CHECK: How true is Buhari’s claim that Nigeria is better off today than in 2015?
34 mins ago
July 4, 2022
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari likes to boast about the progress he claims the West African nation has made under his administration, which started in May 2015. In many speeches and interviews, he talks about his governance records and how he has performed better than his predecessors, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption, economy, and security.
In addition, the president almost always blames past administrations for current challenges, many times citing the “near destruction of the country” under the PDP which had ruled Nigeria and produced three presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007); late Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-2010); and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) – in 16 years.
On June 20, Mr Buhari claimed his administration is leaving Nigeria in a “far better place than we found it” seven years ago. The president said this in a written responseto questions from Bloomberg.
“We leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it. Corruption is less hidden, for Nigerians feel empowered to report it without fear, while money is returned; terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are 2deceased, and vast infrastructure development sets the country on course for sustainable and equitable growth,” Mr Buhari said regarding his performance in fulfilling his pledges to fight corruption, secure the country and fix the economy.
A lot has happened since 2015 when Mr Buhari came into office and his administration is now rounding off, with less than one year to complete his full two terms of four years each.
But how true is the claim that Nigeria is better than he met it in 2015?
Before now, the president has been caught several times making unsubstantiated claimsin his speeches. Therefore, to separate facts from fiction, PREMIUM TIMES is examining the three areas of governance that Mr Buhari was asked about in his interview with Bloomberg – corruption, security, and the economy.
Prior to 2015, Nigeria’s inflation rates remained at single digit–even as analysts opined at the time that it was high. For instance, in the whole of 2014, the nation’s inflation rate moved between 7.7 per cent, which was the lowest, to the highest point of 8.5 per cent, official data shows.
By 2015, when Mr Buhari took over power, the inflation rate averaged 9 per cent.
Since then, the nation has seen a surge in inflation rates. Data released by the statistics bureau, NBS, has shown that under Mr Buhari, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit a 16-year high amid an increase in prices and poor purchasing power.
A key element of inflation in Nigeria in recent years is the skyrocketing prices of food and general goods and services.
Over the last seven years, food inflation in Nigeria has averaged 17 per cent – rising, for instance from 9.78 per cent in May 2015 to 20.3 per cent in November 2017.
In 2014, meanwhile, the nation’s food inflation was at 9.2 per cent. It rose to 10.4 per cent at the end of 2015; 17.4 per cent in 2016; 19.42 per cent in 2017; 13.56 per cent in 2018; 14.67 per cent in 2019; and 19.56 per cent in 2020.
Food inflation climbed to 20.57 per centyear-on-year in January 2021, according to data released by the NBS, making it the highest in over 11 years. It closed at 17.37 per cent in December 2021.
In May, however, the food inflation rose to 19.5 per cent amid an increase in prices of staple food across the country. The Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated the problem but prices started surging with hardship deepening well before the conflict.
It is not only inflation that has increased under President Buhari, when he took over power in the second quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 per cent in the third quarter of that year from 8.2 per cent in the second quarter, according to the NBS.
Since then, unemployment, poverty, and economic disempowerment have remained a disturbing feature of Nigerian life. Between May 2015 and May 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate has more than tripled.
The current data on the NBS dashboard shows Nigeria’s unemployment rate is 33.3 per cent, translating to some 23.2 million people, the highest in at least 13 yearsand the second-highest rate in the world.
Similarly, the last poverty survey from the NBS showed that 40 per cent of the Nigerian population, or almost 83 million people, live below the poverty line.
According to the NBS ‘2019, Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria report, which was based on data from the Nigerian Living Standards Survey conducted in 2018-2019 with support from the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice, the nation’s poverty line was put at 137,430 nairas ($381.75) per year.
In June, the World Poverty Clock also put the number of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria at 83 million, or 39 per cent of the population, while the country’s total population stood at 214 million.
Also, between 2014 and 2019, Nigeria dropped nine places on the Global Human Development Index, HDI, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The country was ranked152 out of 187 countries in 2014. But, in 2019, the index placedNigeria 161 out of 189 countries worldwide. The country scored low on all three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.
Also, between May 2015 and now, the Nigerian economy has fallen into recession, twice.
Under Mr Buhari’s stewardship, the economy fell into recession, first, in 2016 when the economy contracted2.06 per cent between April and June, and in 2020when COVID-19 decimated economies all over the world.
In November 2015, barely six months after Mr Buhari was inaugurated as president, the naira sold against the dollar at N197. Between then and now, the Nigerian currency has gone through ceaseless devaluation, with two of such exercises occurring in 2020 alone.
This year, the currency had been trading between the rangeof N417 and N422 for a dollar on the relatively flexible spot market window but on the black market, dealers exchanged the naira at N600 and above.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s debt profile has risen considerably since Mr Buhari took over power, as budgetary proposals have been designed considerably around debts.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s debt profile stood at N12.12 trillion as of June 2015, shortly after Mr Buhari took office. The DMO said Nigeria’s total public debt as of March 31, 2022, was N41.6 trillion. The figures include the Debt Stock of the Federal and State Governments, as well as, the Federal Capital Territory.
PREMIUM TIMES reportedhow the Buhari administration borrowed three times the combined amount by past governments since 1999.
Having looked at these key economic indices – inflation, unemployment rate, exchange rate, GDP and recession, food prices, and debt level, PREMIUM TIMES found that all these elements have worsened under Mr Buhari than they were before he took office in 2015.
Hence, the president’s claim that Nigeria is better economically is false.
Before Mr Buhari took office in 2015, Nigeria was beleagueredby security threats, most considerably Boko Haram holding a large territorywithin the borders of the country and causing a humongous humanitarian disaster in the country’s North-east.
Since 2015, Nigeria has made advances against the terrorists and pushed them to the fringes of Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad Islands when the Islamic State in West Africa, ISWAP, is believed to be headquartered. But the re-capturing of much of the areas, especially northern Adamawa, including Michika, Mubi, and Madagali, and parts of Borno, including Gwoza and Bama, occurred between late 2014 and early 2015 under President Goodluck Jonathan.
PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters have repeatedly conducted on-the-ground reporting in the area and Nigeria newspapers, including ours, published reports of the military successes in those areas just before Mr Jonathan exited.
But the area remains highly militarised and several villages around Michika and Madagali in northern Adamawa and Gwoza, Uba, and Lassa in Borno remain prone to Boko Haram attacks. Fishing activities on the Lake Chad islands are still largely controlled by ISWAP, a key part of their financing. In June, the House of Representatives noted an “increase” in Boko Haram attacks in northern Adamawa and mandated the military to reinforce security in the affected communities.
While success is being recorded in the North-east, other parts of the country have become hotbeds of violence. Outside Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states, the original base of the terrorists, ISWAP has claimed responsibility for attacks on military formations and civilians in Taraba and Kogi States this year.
Then, apparent mismanagement of the country’s diversity by Mr Buhari, who repeatedly made divisive comments (the 97 vs 5 comments, for example), has aggravated ethnoreligious distrust and tensions and fuelled secessionist agitations.
In the northwest, bandit groups are virtually in charge, operating from ungoverned forests and exploiting the absence of police and local administration. Having originated in Zamfara State, the gang violence has since spread to five other nearby states, namely Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Niger, the last of which is in North-central.
In the middle part of the country, thousands of people have been killed in increasingly vicious land disputes between cattle herders and farmers. Farther to the south, the Biafran agitation has turned increasingly violent in the South-east. And in various pockets throughout the country, kidnapping has become common on major highways and schools.
Recently, rarely does a day go by without the press reporting a deadly attack or a kidnapping. In the first quarter of 2022, at least, 2,968 people were killed from mass atrocities while 1,484 were abducted, according to data released by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST).
Our findings revealed that while significant progress has been in the northeast, Mr Buhari has, on a larger scale, failed to keep the promise of securing Nigeria.
This claim by the president is, therefore, rated not true.
The perception of corruption in Nigeria under Mr Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, averaged 25.8 per cent. The score fluctuated between 24 and 27 per cent during the five years of Mr Jonathan.
Mr Buhari’s tenure as of 2020 averaged 26.6 per cent. Within the five years since he assumed office, the country’s score has ranged between 25 and 28 per cent, according to Transparency International (TI).
Nigeria’s ranking on the global index has, however, not been impressive. Between 2016 and 2020, Nigeria has slipped in the country ranking by 13 positions, from 136 in 2016 to 149 in 2020. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country that has the worst perception of corruption.
But a country’s placement on the ranking may not be because the country was perceived to be more corrupt; instead, the perception of corruption in other countries changed, Transparency International said.
A PREMIUM TIMES analysis of the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by TI showed that Mr Buhari had the best performance in fighting corruption compared to his predecessors since 1999.
Mr Buhari has not made a significant ethical impact on the system by force of personal example and political will. He has not disclosed what his treatments in the United Kingdom for undisclosed ailments cost taxpayers and he has been captured at various times forging political alignments with individuals either indicted and being prosecuted or being investigated for corruption by the anti-graft agencies.
Cases of alleged serious corruption – like those of Stella Oduah, Danjuma Goje, and Godswill Akpabio – are believed to have gone “silent” after the affected politicians joined Mr Buhari’s APC or aligned with his political interest.
Also, after Panama Papers and Pandora Papers investigations offered the law enforcement agencies actionable intelligence with the releases of Nigerian past and serving officials who may have breached the country’s code of conduct law, no action has followed.
Then, Mr Buhari pardoned two former governors – Joshua Dariye, Plateau State; and Jolly Nyame, Taraba State – who were convicted and jailed for corruption, devastating the morale of the country’s anti-graft operatives, who had committed many years of work to investigate and secure the convictions.
Apart from appointing individuals already under investigation for monumental corruption to serve in his government, he allowed serving officials exposed for corrupt practices, especially procurement fraud, to remain in service. A think thank, Centre for Democracy and Development says that Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption promises remain “largely unmet”
Despite having been indicted twice for corruption by separate probes, the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos remains in office. And Mr Buhari allows the NDDC to remain without a board and substantive management, making the organisation vulnerable to corruption. The result of an audit of the NDDC by the president is yet to be made public.
“As the candidate who rode into office in 2015 on a wave of popular anger with entrenched elite corruption, he has made little effort to reform Nigeria’s patronage-fueled, scandal-prone public sector or hold his top officials accountable for their business-as-usual approach,” CDD said in its report, titled, “Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Record at Six Years: An Assessment.”
This claim by the president is, therefore, rated not true.
Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
Papua New Guinea begins voting in key elections | News
2 hours ago
July 4, 2022
Voters in Papua New Guinea are heading to the polls to cast ballots on the first day of voting in the country’s national elections.
Some 10,000 police, army and corrections services personnel were mobilised for Monday’s vote. Australia also deployed 130 soldiers with transport aircraft to help secure the lengthy voting process across the country of nine million, which has a history of corruption and election-related killings.
Voting is scheduled to take up to 18 days and an outcome is not expected to be clear until August.
“We want transparency, we want accountability and above all, we want a safe, fair and secured polling period,” Prime Minister James Marape said after voting.
Election rivalries can quickly spill over into bloodshed in Papua New Guinea, especially in the remote and mountainous provinces.
During the last vote in 2017, Australian National University monitors documented more than 200 election-related killings and widespread “serious irregularities”.
This year, 15 election-related deaths have already been recorded, according to Papua New Guinea police.
In the highlands province of Enga, a candidate was charged with shooting and killing the supporter of a political rival on June 26, police told local media.
Marape conceded in an end-of-campaign message that there was still “rampant corruption in all strata of public service”.
The prime minister, who has promised to make Papua New Guinea the “richest Black Christian nation”, said there had been a lack of development despite the country’s “God-given” resources.
“I admit there is much more to be done for our country,” said Marape, who leads the Pangu party.
He faces a stiff challenge from his predecessor Peter O’Neill, who resigned as leader three years ago under pressure over endemic corruption and a perceived failure to spread mining wealth to the people.
O’Neill, of the People’s National Congress party, has pledged to attract private investment and revive the resources industry.
The country boasts large deposits of gas, oil, gold and copper, and is an exporter of forestry and agricultural products.
“There are worrying signs around our nation that the election has been very poorly prepared for and interference seems rife,” O’Neill charged.
“I hope the good officers of our security forces at all levels can ensure we have free, fair and safe elections.”
Analysts say the new leader will have to cobble together a coalition government in the male-dominated 118-seat parliament, which has had no women members since the 2017 polls.
“Elections are always messy and chaotic and they can get very violent,” Jessica Collins, Pacific researcher at the independent Sydney-based Lowy Institute think-tank, told the AFP news agency.
In an ethnically diverse country with more than 800 languages, analysts say voters are less interested in national issues than the material benefits candidates can bring home to local communities.
“People want to know what their candidate is going to do for them and for the village: the real, hard currency stuff,” Collins said.
Further complicating the process, the electoral roll is not up to date, said Pacific analyst Henry Ivarature at the Australian National University.
“So the whole integrity of this election is already under question,” he said.
The government that emerges from the elections will face significant challenges.
Nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line, according to a 2020 report by the World Bank.
The resources- and agriculture-dependent economy posted a “weak recovery” last year, the Asian Development Bank said, after being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with only about 3 percent of the total population fully vaccinated.
Anti-Corruption Branch Of Delhi Govt Can Investigate Corruption Allegations Against Delhi Police Officials: High Court
3 hours ago
July 4, 2022
The Delhi High Court recently rejected the argument set forth by an official of the Delhi Police that the corruption allegations levelled against him cannot be investigated by the Anti Corruption Branch of the Delhi government for the reason that the agency falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In doing so, Justice Jasmeet Singh relied on Anil Kumar v. GNCT of Delhi where it was held that since the Delhi Police personnel serve the citizens in the national capital and the functions of the agency substantially and essentially relate to the affairs of Delhi, the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government has the jurisdiction to entertain and act on a complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act in respect of a Delhi Police officer, and to investigate and prosecute the crime.
The bench observed,
“Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti Corruption Branch not investigating them. When a complaint is made to an authority in charge, it is the duty of that authority to duly investigate and look into the said allegations. They may after due diligence, transfer the matter to the concerned authority to look into the same but they have the right to investigate the same at the time of lodging of the complaint.“
The Court was dealing with a petition filed by a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police accused of taking bribery, seeking quashing and setting aside of the order on charge passed by Special Judge (PC Act) in which charges under sec. 7, 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act were framed.
The complainant in the matter had applied for an Arms licence and it was alleged that the petitioner visited his residence for inquiry regarding the same.
It was further submitted in the complaint that the petitioner asked the complainant to pay a bribe of Rs. 20,000 for sending his report for grant of Arms licence and after some negotiation the petitioner reduced the amount to Rs. 10,000. The complainant, thus, handed over a sum of Rs. 1,000 to the petitioner, recorded the conversation and provided a CD of the same later on.
It was thus alleged that the petitioner contacted the complainant to meet him for collecting the remaining balance amount of Rs. 9,000.
Subsequently, on personal search of the petitioner, 10 GC notes of denomination of 500 and 4 notes of Rs. 1,000 amounting to a total of Rs. 9,000 were recovered from his right hand and the serial number of the recovered currency notes tallied with the serial numbers noted in the pre- raid proceedings. During investigation, the petitioner was interrogated and an FIR was lodged against him.
The petitioner had approached the Court on the ground that he was exonerated in departmental proceedings and according to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ashoo Surendranath Tewari v. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, criminal proceedings cannot continue against him.
It was also added that the petitioner was a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police and thus the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi Government had no jurisdiction to investigate the offence against a Sub Inspector working in Delhi Police which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Court noted that the complainant himself deposed during the departmental enquiry that he offered a bribe for his timely verification and the petitioner herein declined it.
“The recording of the demand and subsequent filing of FIR by the complainant seems vitiated and not reliable under circumstances discussed above,” the Court said.
The Court was of the view that when departmental proceedings and the criminal proceedings were a mirror image of each other and the petitioner was exonerated on merits in the departmental inquiry, the criminal proceedings on the same set of facts and circumstances cannot be permitted to be continued.
The Court also said that the standard of proof in departmental proceedings is much lower than the standard of proof in criminal proceedings.
However, rejecting the petitioner’s argument that since he was a Sub Inspector in Delhi Police, the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi Government would have no jurisdiction to investigate the offence, the Court observed thus:
“…..the argument of the petitioner that the ACB would not have jurisdiction to investigate into his case on the basis of a complaint made to them, cannot be sustained. Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti Corruption Branch not investigating them.”
The Court allowed the plea after opining that the petitioner was exonerated in departmental proceedings and further there was no substantial material on record to show the need to continue the criminal proceedings against him.
“…the petition is thus allowed and the order of charge dated 10.03.2021, passed by learned Special Judge (PC Act) CBI, Rouse Avenue Courts, Delhi, and all subsequent proceedings emanating therefrom are hereby set aside,” the Court ordered.