*Buhari, Atiku, world leaders hail victory
*It is the victory of good over evil – Obasanjo
By Tony Nwankwo, with agency reports
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States (US), yesterday, promising to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, and making Donald J. Trump a one-term president after four years of tumult in the White House.
Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration and was delivered by an unlikely alliance of women, people of color, old and young voters, and a sliver of disaffected Republicans. Mr. Trump is only the third elected president since World War II to lose re-election and the first in more than a quarter-century.
The result also provided a history-making moment for Mr. Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, who will become the first woman to serve as vice president.
With his triumph, Mr. Biden, who turns 78 later this month, fulfilled his decades-long ambition in his third bid for the White House, becoming the oldest person to be elected president. A pillar of Washington who was first elected amid the Watergate scandal, and who prefers political consensus over combat, Mr. Biden will lead a nation and a Democratic Party that have become far more ideological since his arrival in the capital in 1973.
He offered a mainstream Democratic agenda, yet it was less his policy platform than his biography to which many voters gravitated. Seeking the nation’s highest office a half-century after his first campaign, Mr. Biden — a candidate in the late autumn of his career — presented his life of setback and recovery to voters as a parable for a wounded country.
In a brief statement, Mr. Biden called for healing and unity. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.” Mr. Biden was expected to address the nation later yesterday.
In his own statement, Mr. Trump insisted “this election is far from over” and vowed that his campaign would “start prosecuting our case in court” but offered no details.
The race, which concluded after four tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, was a singular referendum on Mr. Trump in a way no president’s re-election has been in modern times. He coveted the attention, and voters who either adored him or loathed him were eager to render judgment on his tenure. From the beginning to the end of the race, Mr. Biden made the president’s character central to his campaign.
This unrelenting focus propelled Mr. Biden to victory in historically Democratic strongholds in the industrial Midwest with Mr. Biden forging a coalition of suburbanites and big-city residents to claim at least three states his party lost in 2016.
Yet even as they turned Mr. Trump out of office, voters sent a more uncertain message about the left-of-center platform Mr. Biden ran on as Democrats lost seats in the House and made only modest gains in the Senate. The divided judgment — a rare example of ticket-splitting in partisan times — demonstrated that, for many voters, their disdain for the president was as personal as it was political.
Even in defeat, though, Mr. Trump demonstrated his enduring appeal to many white voters and his intense popularity in rural areas, underscoring the deep national divisions that Mr. Biden has vowed to heal.
The outcome of the race came into focus slowly as states and municipalities grappled with the legal and logistical challenges of voting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. With an enormous backlog of early and mail-in votes, some states reported their totals in a halting fashion that in the early hours of Wednesday painted a misleadingly rosy picture for Mr. Trump.
But as the big cities of the Midwest and West began to report their totals, the advantage in the race shifted the electoral map in Mr. Biden’s favor. By Wednesday afternoon, the former vice president had rebuilt much of the so-called blue wall in the Midwest, reclaiming the historically Democratic battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan that Mr. Trump carried four years ago. And on Saturday, with troves of ballots coming in from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, he took back Pennsylvania as well.
While Mr. Biden stopped short of claiming victory as the week unfolded, he appeared several times in his home state, Delaware, to express confidence that he could win, while urging patience as the nation awaited the results. Even as he sought to claim something of an electoral mandate, noting that he had earned more in the popular vote than any other candidate in history, Mr. Biden struck a tone of reconciliation.
It would soon be time, he said, “to unite, to heal, to come together as a nation.”
In the days after the election, Mr. Biden and his party faced a barrage of attacks from Mr. Trump. The president falsely claimed in a middle-of-the-night appearance at the White House on Wednesday that he had won the race and that Democrats were conjuring fraudulent votes to undermine him, a theme he renewed on Thursday evening in grievance-filled remarks conjuring up, with no evidence, a conspiracy to steal votes from him.Mr. Biden will be only the second Catholic to attain the presidency, along with John F. Kennedy.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, congratulated Biden on his election as President of the United States “at a time of uncertainty and fear in world affairs.” President Buhari also told the American President-Elect to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respects and shared interests.
The President, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said: “Your election is a significant reminder that democracy is the best form of government because it offers the people the opportunity to change their government by peaceful means. “The most powerful group are not the politicians, but voters who can decide the fate of the politicians at the polling booth. The main fascination of democracy is the freedom of choice and the supremacy of the will of the people.
“Respect for the will of the people is the very reason why democracy remains the best form of government, despite its limitations from one polity to another, and from one society to another. “I am thrilled by the fact that you are an experienced politician who had served as Congressman for 40 years and a Vice President for eight years. This is a remarkable track record that gives us hope that you will add value to the presidency and world affairs.
“We look forward to greater cooperation between Nigeria and the United States, especially at economic, diplomatic and political levels, including the war against terrorism.” On international affairs, Buhari urged Biden to “deploy your vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs which have created divisions, conflicts and uncertainties.
“The Nigerian leader also called on Mr. Biden “to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respects and shared interests.”
‘Victory of good over evil’
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo described Biden’s elevation as victory of good over evil. In a congratulatory letter, titled: ‘Message of Congratulations to U.S. President-Elect, Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris, Obasanjo said:
‘I join millions in the United States of America and in the rest of the world who felicitate with you, President-Elect Joe Biden, for your victory. It is victory of good over evil and it is not victory for you and the people of America alone, but victory for most people of the world, majority of whom watch helplessly as the world that had been steadily and painstakingly built since the end of the Second World War was being pulled down’.
He went on: “It is no victory for you and the people of America alone, but victory for most people of the world, majority of whom watch helplessly as the world that had been steadily and painstakingly built since the end of the Second World War was being pulled down. “Not that the world was perfect and equitable but it was reasonably predictable with some measure of rule of law and respect for international agreements and treaties”.
The former president added: “President-Elect Joe Biden must restore confidence in the role of America as the largest economy in the world which has a very significant responsibility for the peace, security, stability and progress of the world.”
While also felicitating with the Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris as the first female Vice-President of the U.S., Obasanjo said: “We in Africa are proud of her success. The first African-American President of the U.S., Barrack Obama, has Kenyan DNA in him and I am reasonably sure that the first African-American female Vice President-Elect of the U.S. will have some Nigerian DNA in her as most of those taken to the Caribbean from Africa went from Nigeria of today”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden on winning the U.S. presidential election, saying he looked forward to working closely on their shared priorities. “Congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic achievement,” Johnson said in a statement.”The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security. And in Israel, a member of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, Israeli Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, congratulated Biden. “Congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden! Congratulations to Kamala Harris, the first woman to serve as vice president and congratulations to the American people on the proper democratic process,” Nissenkorn said on Twitter. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also offered his congratulations to the Democrat on Twitter.”The relationship between our countries is based on deeply held values and critical shared interests which I know will be at the heart of your administration,” Lapid wrote.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris after major networks declared them the winners of the U.S. presidential election on Saturday. “I look forward to future cooperation with President Biden,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the great challenges of our time.”French President Emmanuel Macron also congratulated Joe Biden for winning the U.S. presidency, saying they had many challenges to face.”The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!” Macron said on Twitter.