Events of the Year 2017: Politics

Atiku Abubakar


The Year of Power Show 


THE political showdown leading to the 2019 general elections appears to have started in earnest. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the main opposition party in Nigeria, which started the year on a rancorous foot because of divisions within the party shamed its distracters when it held a smooth elective convention on Saturday, December 9.

Uche Secondus, a former deputy national chairman, was elected national chairman in an election contested by seven other interested candidates, six of whom came from the South West. Since the election, members of the party have been rallying round Secondus to form a formidable opposition in order to wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2019 general elections.


Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a chieftain of the ruling of the APC, swelled the ranks of the opposition PDP, by formally joining the party on Sunday, December 3. Abubakar had resigned from the APC on Friday, November 24, declaring that the crisis led to his exit from the PDP had been resolved.

On its part, the APC leadership has been on the mend trying to resolve its internal crisis which prompted some leaders of the party to ask for the resignation of John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the party.

That notwithstanding, the likes of Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party, and Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun State and former interim national chairman of the party, have disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari would not get automatic ticket to contest the 2019 presidential poll.

In Akure, Ondo State, on Wednesday, December 13, where he met with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Tinubu said the leadership of the party had not endorsed President Buhari as its sole candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.

He told journalists after the meeting, that “No governors can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves. Buhari is a believer in the process. The Buhari, I know, believes in the rule of law. We wanted him even before the last convention and primary of the party and Akeredolu is here standing with me, he was not the governor then. He was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner.”


His statement was against the recent endorsement of President Muhammadu as the sole candidate of the APC for the 2019 election by the APC governors.

Akande made a similar pronouncement in Ibadan, Oyo State capital on Thursday, October 12, while briefing newsmen after a meeting of the leadership of the APC in the South West, held at the Executive Chamber of Oyo State Governor’s Office.

Reacting to a question on whether the South West would endorse Buhari for 2019 general elections, he said if the president indicates interest to re-contest in 2019, he would have to slug it out with other presidential aspirants in the APC for the party’s ticket for the poll.

“He has not told us. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interests, we will set a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he (Buhari) is lucky to have the ticket, then we will have no other thing to do than to present him as our candidate,” Akande said.

While the APC could be forgiven for trying to toe the constitutional path, its resistance against the call for restructuring of Nigeria was largely blamed for the revolt by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which agitated for the state of Biafra for several months before the clamp down in September. According to the IPOB, Igbo were being marginalised in the current composition of Nigeria.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group, who was standing trial for treason, was granted bail in April on health ground. But instead of lying low, he simply took charge of affairs of the IPOB making inflammatory statements, leading to the killing of some supporters and members of the group on peaceful demonstration in the South East by the Nigerian military.

The group seemed to have its cup full in September when the federal government used the military might to crush the group in the South East and declared the organisation as a terrorists group. On September 20, the federal government gazetted the order of the federal high court in Abuja, which proscribed the IPOB and declared it a terrorist group.

Kanu has since disappeared from the scene. He was said to have been smuggled out of the country but some IPOB leaders claimed that he was arrested.

However, in the height of IPOB agitation, some prominent Northern youth organisations, on Tuesday, June 6, rose from a joint meeting called ‘Kaduna Declaration’ to issue a serious threat to the Igbo residing in the region urging them to begin making arrangements to relocate out of the North.

The groups gave the Igbo up till October 1, to leave the region.

The declaration was premised on the shut-down of major towns in south eastern part of the country on May 30, by members of the IPOB who complied with a sit at home order to mourn Biafrans who died in the civil war after 50 years.

Abdulazeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, who read the statement on behalf of others, at the popular Arewa House Kaduna, on Tuesday said, the region was tired of the marriage hence the need for restructuring as being pronounced by many prominent Nigerians.

But after widespread criticism and months of intervention meetings both by the federal government and the governors of the country’s 19 northern states, the coalition withdrew the quit notice on Thursday, August 24, at a press briefing at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja.

In an announcement that was made by Suleiman, it said despite the withdrawal, the group would not relent in pursuing petitions to the United Nations and the federal government to sanction Kanu and other IPOB sponsors for their disruptive activities.

Apparently irked by the threat of political conflagration, on September 8, eminent Yoruba leaders, supported by the leadership of the South-East and South-South, demanded an immediate restructuring of Nigeria through regional lines, for the country to experience real peace and development.

The leaders, who met at the main bowl of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, Oyo State, recalled with nostalgia the great strides made by the South West in the years of self-government up until the abrogation of the federal constitution in 1966.

The leaders pointed out that the giant strides recorded in the era of self-government were evident in mass literacy, novel infrastructure and progress in all spheres of human development.

Afe Babalola, SAN, who chaired the summit, said: “I, respectfully, disagree with the few Nigerians who are opposed to restructuring. They are entitled to their opinions. The only change that can change the country and pave way for nationhood is the change that changes the structure of project Nigeria.

“No amount of sermon can change the country. It is that change that will bring about the necessary interest and determination to succeed. That change is the restructuring of the country. It is restructuring that would curb over-concentration of power in the centre and reduce corruption, promote harmony and unity and make the country metamorphose into a nation.”

John Nwodo, president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who led a high powered delegation of South East, which included Ike Nwachukwu, a former minister of Foreign Affairs, and Walter Ofonagoro, a former minister of Information, to the summit, also said: “Is it wrong to have a say in your country? Is it right to be ruled by a document that you are not party to? What you are saying today is that the people of Nigeria must have a say in the way they are governed. It is not only the Yoruba nation that is saying it, we the Igbo are saying it loud and clear.

“Many people have tried to destroy restructuring and I am saying it is a ploy by some Nigerians to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in Southern Nigeria. I think those who are doing this do not love Nigeria.”

Albert Horsfall, a leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in his remarks, said that the people of his region started restructuring long ago, adding that agitation for restructuring of Nigeria would depend on control of physical energy by each region. He said that each region should have the statutory rights to control “what you produce or what your soil produces.”

Perhaps in response to the agitation, on September 10, the APC announced it had received the recommendations of its committee on restructuring, which it promised to forward to the federal government for implementation.

The party had previously set up a nine-member committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, to review the demands by many Nigerians for restructuring and to provide a framework for its implementation.

In a statement issued on Sunday, September 10, by the publicity unit of the APC, Odigie-Oyegun at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Jalingo, Taraba State, said the APC had responded to agitations for structural reforms of the country’s political architecture and to structure the debate for the benefit of the unity, peace and progress of the country.

It was a change of baton in the United States on January 10, as former President Barack Obama in an emotional moment as he wiped tears from his eyes as he addressed his wife and thanked Vice-President Joe Biden in a farewell speech. Malia, his daughter, also shed a tear as she listened to her father.

With a final shout of his campaign mantra “Yes We Can,” President Obama on Tuesday, January 10, urged Americans to stand up for US values and reject discrimination as the country transitions to the presidency of Donald Trump, the Republican candidate.

The ambition of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, who is the current chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, spoke on Saturday, February 4, on his ambition to vie for presidential ticket of his party. But he was quickly told that the party had zoned the presidential ticket to the North.

On Sunday, January 22, former President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia succumbed to pressure from ECOWAS leaders and departed from the country to allow the newly elected President Adama Barrow to return to the country from Dakar, Senegal where he was on exile. He returned and formally took the oath of office on Saturday, February 18, in Dakar, Senegal.

The 2017 Somali presidential election was held in Somalia on February 8. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a former prime minister, was eventually elected to the post of president of Somalia for a four-year term.

Mohamed was declared president in a peaceful transition of power after incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat and congratulated the victor.

The 2017 German presidential election (officially the 16th Federal Convention) was held on February 12, 2017, to elect the 12th president of Germany. Incumbent President Joachim Gauck announced on June 6, 2016, that he would not stand for re-election, citing his advancing age.

The president is elected by the Federal Convention, an electoral body that consists of all members of the current Bundestag and an equal number of electors, who are elected by the 16 state parliaments. Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democratic Party was chosen as the single candidate of the ruling coalition in November 2016 and, with the Christian Democratic Union choosing not to field a candidate against him, his election was seen as guaranteed. Steinmeier was elected on the first ballot, and took office on March 19.

The United Kingdom general election of 2017 took place on Thursday, June 8. Each of the 650 constituencies elected one member of parliament, MP, to the House of Commons. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 an election had not been due until May 7, 2020, but a call by Theresa May, the prime minister, for a snap election was ratified by the necessary supermajority in a 522–13 vote in the House of Commons on April 19, 2017.

The Conservative Party (which had governed as a senior coalition partner from 2010 and as a single-party majority government from 2015) was defending a working majority of 17 seats against the Labour Party, the official opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn. May had said that she hoped to secure a larger majority for the Conservative Party in order to “strengthen (her) hand in (the forthcoming Brexit) negotiations.”

In a surprising result, the Conservatives made a net loss of 13 seats with 42.3t percent of the vote (its highest share since 1983), while Labour made a net gain of 30 seats with 40.0 percent (its highest since 2001).

Presidential elections were held in Rwanda on August 4, 2017. The incumbent President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was re-elected to a third seven-year term with 98,79 percent of the vote.

A referendum in 2015 approved constitutional amendments that allow incumbent Kagame to run for a third term in office in 2017, as well as shortening presidential terms from seven to five years, although the latter change would not come into effect until 2024.

General elections were held in Kenya on August 8, to elect the president, members of parliament and devolved governments. The reported results indicated that incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected with 54 percent of the vote. His main opponent, Raila Odinga, refused to accept the results and contested them in the Supreme Court.

The results of the presidential election were subsequently annulled and fresh elections were ordered to be held within 60 days. It was later announced that a new election would be held on October 17. However, the results of the parliamentary and local elections remained valid. The date for the presidential election was later changed to October 26, 2017.

Despite the ruling for a new presidential election, Odinga withdrew from the election, which Kenyatta later won.

Federal elections were held in Germany on Sunday, September 24, to elect the members of the 19th Bundestag. The new Bundestag would in turn elect a Chancellor, who must ordinarily command the support of an absolute majority of its members in order to form a new government.

The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union, CDU/CSU, led by Angela Merkel, won by 33 percent of the vote, a drop of more than eight percent and its lowest share of the vote since 1949, while the Social Democratic Party, SPD, achieved its worst result since the Second World War with just 20 percent of the vote. Alternative for Germany, AfD,—which was previously unrepresented in the Bundestag—became the third party in the Bundestag with 12.6 percent of the vote and a plurality of the vote in Saxony.

The 2017 French presidential election was held on April 23 and May 7. As no candidate won a majority in the first round on April 23, a run-off was held between the top two candidates, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the National Front, FN, which Macron won by a decisive margin on May 7.

Incumbent president François Hollande of the Socialist Party, PS, was eligible to run for a second term, but declared on December 1, 2016, that he would not seek re-election in light of low approval ratings, making him the first incumbent president of the Fifth Republic not to seek re-election.

Macron got 20,743,128 votes, meaning 66.1 percent of votes count; while Le Pen got 10,638,475 or 33.9 percent of votes count.

General elections were held in Liberia on October 10, to elect the president and House of Representatives. No candidate won a majority in the first round of the presidential vote meaning a run-off will be held between the top two candidates, George Weah and Joseph Boakai. The second round was originally scheduled for November 7, but was postponed after Charles Brumskine, a third-placed candidate, challenged the result in the Supreme Court.

It is due to be rescheduled when the investigation is complete. But the run-off date has remained unresolved since.

The long reign of President Robert Mugabe, 93, finally came to an abrupt end with his resignation on November 21, 2017. The beginning of the end started on November 6, when  Mugabe fired Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, his first vice-president. This was expected to be followed by purges of senior officials of the government, especially the war veterans who fought and liberated Zimbabwe from the racist Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). After his dismissal, Mnangagwa immediately fled to South Africa. Joyce Muturu, his predecessor as first vice-president from 2004-2014, and veteran combatant, was also in like manner summarily dismissed.

There were wild rumours that Mugabe was scheming for Grace Mugabe, the former first lady of Zimbabwe, to take over from him, hence, the military stepped and negotiated his eventual exit.

Mnangagwa was sworn in as president on Friday, November 24, effectively ending 37-year-old reign of Mugabe.


– Dec 29, 2017 @ 17:25 GMT |


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