2016: Year of Mixed Blessings

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Buhari

THE year 2016, was quite interesting in the political arena not just in Nigeria, but globally.

In Nigeria, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, which entered its second year in power seemed to have come to terms with the reality of governance as tumbling economy started to have effects on the government. The overwhelming support on which the ruling party rode to power waned considerably during the year as many people blamed every unpalatable situation to the change mantra through which the party won the election. No thanks to the floundering economy and in-fighting among the governing party leaders.

The bad economy, however, did not reflect in the outcome of elections held in Edo and Ondo states. The ruling APC won the two governorship elections in both states. Edo State could be excused as the then state Governor Adams Oshiomhole belong to the APC and was at the liberty to use the power of incumbency, including government machineries to retain the state for the party.

The Edo governorship election was originally scheduled to hold on September 10, but had to be shifted to September 28, for security reasons. On the new date, Edo State electorate gave the mandate to Godwin Obaseki of the APC, who defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP. Obaseki formally took over from Oshiomhole on Saturday, November 12.

Ondo State, on the other hand, has Governor Olusegun Mimiko of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the outgoing governor. The factionalisation in the leadership of the PDP as well as disagreement over the choice of the party candidate for the election played an important role in ensuring that the PDP did not win the election held on Saturday, November 26.

Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, the APC governorship candidate, apparently profited from the PDP crisis by defeating Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, candidate of the PDP, to win the election. Akeredolu did not have it easy. His emergence as the APC candidate seemed to have worked against what the leadership of his party anticipated. Barring any hiccup, the APC candidate will be inaugurated on February 27, 2017.

Indeed, the leadership tussle in the PDP continued to defy solution for most of the year. The two rival groups fighting for the soul of the party have so far behaved like sworn enemies and none of seemed to be willing to give in to the other. Apart from several court appearances of both parties in the leadership crisis, they are also threatening each other with jail sentence.

Both parties to the conflict were at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Thursday, December 1. The appellate reserved judgement until December 15, but again reserved ruling indefinitely.

Irked by the perennial internal crisis rocking the leadership of the party, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, perhaps, out of irritation announced on Wednesday, November 30, said that he would consider dumping the party for another one in 2018.

Fayose, who gave the hint during a meeting with the Suppliers’ Association of Nigeria, Ikere chapter, said: “I don’t know the platform I will use for the 2018 election yet, but at the appropriate time I will tell you.” The governor, while decrying the leadership tussle in the party said that the PDP had been infiltrated by “charlatans.”

From all indications, the leadership crisis dividing the party may sustain until the next general election in 2019, that is, if the founding fathers of the PDP refuse to step in.

As it is, there seems to be no peace in sight for the erstwhile ruling party.

The ruling APC had its shares of leadership crisis. Indeed, the leadership crisis was with rumours that leaders in the party were planning to form a new mega party to rival the APC in 2019.

In mid of the rumours was Ahmed Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and a national leader, who was said to be at loggerheads with the leaders of the APC. Despite the persistent rumours, Tinubu denied that he was plotting to form a new mega-party to wrestle power from the APC in 2019.

“This government, APC, is for the betterment of the people and the national purpose is bigger and more important than any individual’s desires,” Tinubu tweeted on Monday, December 5. “This is a party I laboured with others to build. We would not abandon it for another. Millions of Nigerians who voted are watching.”

Indeed, Tinubu has been having a running battle with John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the APC, over the Ondo State governorship primaries and had openly called for his removal in a published statement. He alleged that Odigie-Oyegun, with others, conspired to “steal the Ondo primaries.”

Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who allegedly got the blessings of some the APC leaders led by Odigie-Oyegun and some ministers, won the primaries against Segun Abraham, the alleged preferred candidate of Tinubu. Akeredolu eventually won the governorship election and Tinubu was quick to congratulate him.

In a bid to dispel rumours of Tinubu’s displeasure with APC’s leadership, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, denied having any rift with him. He, in fact, said he was constantly consulting with Tinubu on matters of importance.

Regardless of whether he does not see eye-to-eye with his party’s leaders, Tinubu’s statement on Monday, December 5, showed he was ready to stick with the APC while tacitly acknowledging his misgivings with the APC leadership. He, however, indicated that those misgivings could be resolved for the good of the ruling party.

“In our journey to national betterment, plans and policies will be made, then amended. Mistakes will occur and then corrected. Achievements will be had and replicated. Through it all, I, Asiwaju will remain true to the progressive ideals that fuelled the creation of APC,” Tinubu said.

“I have devoted my political life to achieve what has been achieved. My heart is too much of the people and my mind too fixed on establishing a positive historic legacy, rather than engage in destructive pettiness,” he added.

Notwithstanding leadership crisis in the two major national parties, many major political events still took place across the country.

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, on Tuesday, October 25, appointed 1,106 persons into various positions in the state.

The positions being filled were in the categories of special advisers, special assistants, personal assistants as well as the chairmen and members of boards, commissions, departments and agencies.

The governor had, in a chat with journalists in August, disclosed that he would elect more than 1,000 political appointees for poverty alleviation in the state.

Ironically, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of State, on his part, directed a 50 percent cut in the monthly salaries and entitlements of all political appointees in the state.

Olalekan Alli, secretary to the State Government, disclosed the measure while speaking with newsmen at the state secretariat, Ibadan on Monday, November 7. Alli further said that the adjustment in the take-home pay of the political appointees would take immediate effect. He said further: “The slash in salary is for all political appointees starting from the governor, deputy governor, commissioners, special advisers, senior special advisers, among others.”

In Osun State, Kanmi Ajibola, a lawyer based in the state, on Tuesday, December 6, instituted another suit against the Governor Rauf Aregbesola, making his actions in the law court against the governor six in number.

Ajibola, in the fresh legal action filed at the Osun State high court, Osogbo, the state capital, asked the court to grant an order of mandamus compelling the governor to provide full information about all the funds accruable and released to the state judiciary from both the state and federal governments from November 2010 to date.

He further urged the court to compel the governor to release all the funds accruable to the state judiciary from both the state and the federal governments to it as and when due every month.

Some of the on-going cases between Aregbesola and Ajibola included suit against the sack of 678 workers in LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo and the suit asking for the disclosure of the state debt profile and full account of the government financial spending.

Others are matters filed by the activist lawyer challenging the constitutionality of the law made by the “State of Osun” on tenement rate, the suit challenging the non appointment of commissioners by Aregbesola in the last two years and the suit restraining the governor from “importation” of Osun Chief Judge, CJ, from Lagos.

Perhaps, irritated by constant mention of his name in the ongoing corruption law suits against his former aides, former President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, October 24, said it was impossible for Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and former national security adviser, NSA, in his administration, to have stolen $2.2 billion as alleged by the EFCC.

Jonathan, who spoke at the famous Oxford Union, Oxford United Kingdom, on youth entrepreneurship, argued that it was “not just possible” for Dasuki to have stolen $2.2 billion because his administration spent so much to procure several equipment for the Nigeria’s  military.

Responding to a question on alleged missing arms procurement funds in which Dasuki has been in the centre, Jonathan said: “They said the national security adviser stole $2.2billion. I don’t believe somebody can just steal $2.2 billion. We bought warships, we bought aircraft, we bought lots of weapons for the army and so on and so forth and you are still saying 2.2 billion, so where did we get the money to buy all those things?”

Although he would not deny issues of corruption during his administration, the former president said some of the allegations were exaggerated.

Dasuki, who has been in detention since December 1, 2015, was arrested by the State Security Service, SSS, for allegedly misappropriating $2.2 billion meant to purchase equipment for the Nigerian military in its battle against the terrorist Boko Haram group.

He has been severally granted bail by Nigerian courts, but the Muhammadu Buhari administration has refused to let him out on bail.

It was election year in many countries across the globe. In the United States presidential election held on November 8. Donald Trump, candidate of the Republican Party, against all odds and projections, defeated Hillary Clinton, former first lady and candidate of the Democrats Party. Though Clinton won the popular vote, Trump beat her by winning the electoral college votes.

It was an unexpected outcome for the Republican candidate, who beat out not only a stacked GOP primary field but also an even more formidable opponent in Clinton, who was consistently ahead of him in the polls up and in a much stronger position on the electoral map.

Trump has since started to put in place how his government would look like when he takes over from President Barack Obama on January 20, 2017.

In the meantime, the situation in The Gambia remained in cliff-hanger by the end of the year. President Yahya Jammeh, who once claimed a “billion-year” mandate to rule, initially, conceded defeat after a shock election loss to Adama Barrow, a real-estate developer, who once worked as a security guard in London.

Conceding defeat, Jammeh said: “I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Adama for his victory. It’s a clear victory. I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best. As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided,” he said.

The pre-recorded message then cut to a shot of Jammeh phoning the president-elect. “Hello, are you hearing me?” Jammeh asked Barrow, grinning widely on his mobile. “I wish you all the best. The country will be in your hands in January. You are assured of my guidance. You have to work with me. You are the elected president of The Gambia. I have no ill will and I wish you all the best.”

But seven days later, The Gambian president, who had kept the tiny West African country under an iron fists since 1994, made a 360 degree U-turn denouncing the outcome of the election.

Jammeh said that he now rejected the results of the election “in totality.” “After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election,” Jammeh said, adding: “I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process. I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a God-fearing and independent electoral commission.”

All entreats by members of the international community were not acceded to. In fact, four presidents from West Africa led a delegation to The Gambia on Tuesday, December 13, in a bid to convince Jammeh to step down from office.

Representing the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, and John Mahama of Ghana met Jammeh and Barrow, president-elect, in an attempt to manage a peaceful transition of power. But it appears those talks have yielded no results. “We have not come to an agreement,” Sirleaf Johnson, president of Liberia said after the meeting. “We have come to help the Gambians to organise the transition. It is not something that can be accomplished in a single day. We have to work on.”

When incumbent President John Mahama of Ghana, lost the presidential election in his country on Wednesday, December 7, he did not behave like Jammeh. Mahama readily accepted defeat when Nana Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old veteran politician of the New Patriotic Party, NPP, was pronounced winner of the election.

By the defeat, Mahama of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, has become the first incumbent to lose an election since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy in 1992. With such maturity, Mahama saved his nation the agony of heating up the polity which probably would have led to loss of lives.

Globally, power changed hands in a different manner in Britain on July 13. David Cameron, conservative prime minister, formally resigned from office, following his inability to keep Britain in the European Union. On Thursday, June 23, Britain had voted in a referendum to pull out from the EU. The Brexit victory was achieved when 52 percent supported the exit while 48 percent voted for the country to remain in the union.

Seen as a personal failure of his leadership, Cameron stepped down from office to give way to Theresa May, to take over as prime minister and leader of the government.

On October 13, the United Nations appointed a new secretary general. He is António Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and the UN high commissioner for refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. Guterres will succeed Ban Ki-moon when he steps down on December 31. He will become the world’s top diplomat from January 1, 2017 and hold the post for the next five years.

Guterres, on Thursday, December 15, announced Amina Mohammed, Nigeria’s environment minister, as his deputy secretary-general.

Guterres made the announcement through Stephane Dujarric, spokesman of the secretary-general.

The new secretary general also announced the duo of Maria Viotti of Brazil and Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea into high-profile positions at the UN.

—  Jan 2, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT

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