All Eyes on Them…
With the curtains drawn on 2012, the ritual of making resolutions and prophesies for 2013 have commenced in earnest. Those who are “called” or blessed with the “extraordinary powers” of gazing at the crystal ball of life and the forces that control it, have started to warn us ordinary mortals of what lie ahead. And their prophecies have inundated the airwaves. While many of such predictions come to naught, a handful come out to be true even though the manner of happening sometimes leave a lingering debate that cast a shadow on the original prophecy. We cannot lay any claim to such gift of spirituality or privileged access to the crystal ball. We can lay some claim to being able to look at the activities of some personalities and events that shaped the preceding year and hazard a forecast how some of the initiatives these personalities are likely to gain traction in 2013. Of course, the list is by no means exhaustive as there are some we may have inadvertently omitted. But having looked critically at the national space, the shortlist below presents a compass. Shaka Momodu and Yemi Adebowale write.
President Goodluck Jonathan
The President will be the main centre of attraction in 2013, for a number of reasons. First, is the issue of his alleged second term ambition in 2015! His campaign posters are already all over Abuja. But Jonathan has denied knowledge of these. He said he would take his decision in 2014. But pressure has continued to mount on him, particularly from his Niger Delta constituency. If the anticipated removal of fuel subsidy materialises, it will also put Jonathan on the front burner. His battle to actualise the Petroleum Industry Bill, war against Boko Haram and the scourge of corruption are some other issues expected to keep the President in the news in 2013.
He has proved himself to be a deft leader of the upper chamber of the National Assembly. In 2012 he was a key figure in the confrontation between the federal government and the NLC over the suspension of subsidy, bringing the two parties together to resolve issues. The National Assembly is at the centre of the passage of the PIB and constitution review, where the Senator has aired his views on various issues such as the need for state creation, the question of residency and state of origin, state police and the unity of our nation.
As the number three citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when he speaks, especially on issues of national consequences before the National Assembly, people listen. In his New Year message to Nigerians, he assured that the National Assembly would continue to enact laws that would better the lots of Nigerians and prayed for a prosperous New Year. He is a man in a position to make a lot of things happen in 2013.
AMINU WAZIRI TAMBUWAL
As the Constitution review reaches a critical stage in 2013, and critical bills are pending on the floor of the House such as the PIB, with self inflicted injuries to its image owing to various scandals of bribery and the National Assembly’s resolve to have Ms. Arunmah Oteh dropped as director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Speaker of the House of Representatives will become ever more key in the success or failure of the National Assembly as the year unfolds.
She is the controversial and unrelenting Minister of Petroleum Resources. In 2012 she was a strong proponent of the Local Content Act and the Petroleum Industry Bill to provide a new legal and fiscal framework for the petroleum industry in Nigeria. She has been the subject and object of widespread praise as well as criticism for her role and views as regards the removal of petroleum subsidy, which is sure to intensify with ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to end the subsidy regime. Also as she spiritedly works for the interest of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, Nigerian businesses in the sector through the Local Content act and ensuring adequate supply of petroleum to the Nigerian people in 2013.
She is one of the most towering personality in the President’s cabinet as finance minister. She had a very turbulent time in 2012 selling the removal of fuel subsidy to the Nigerian public ensuring prudent fiscal management of the nation’s resources through the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and personal challenges with the kidnap of her mother. On a positive note, she presided over the timely preparation and presentation of a national budget to the National Assembly, and released her book on her experience in reforming the Nigerian economy titled “Reforming the Unreformable.”
Her mother was released unharmed and she was named the “Silverbird Man of the Year.” In 2013, she is set to be at the centre of ensuring successful implementation of the national budget, dealing with worries of decreasing oil revenue to the Federal Government, prudent management of subsidy payments and ensuring transparent, accountable and efficient management of the nation’s financial resources in other to bolster the country’s economic development priorities. Her utterances and actions will surely tell on the well being of Nigerians and the shape of the year in 2013.
As the Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, he is definitely a key politician to watch out for in 2013. He recorded great strides in covering the infrastructural deficit in Rivers State that always earn his name a mention amongst top performing governors in 2012, and ones to watch out for in 2013. More so, as chairman of the highly influential Nigerian Governors Forum, his voice and perspective on various national issues shapes discussion and decisions taken by the federal government. By virtue of his high profile position as the Chairman of the Governors Forum the public sees him in political circles as key figure in the New Year.
â€¨The trial of this businessman for money laundering is expected to commence early in the year. After months of evading arrest and trial, Babalakin was eventually arrested last December by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was alleged to have helped ex-governor James Ibori of Delta State to launder billions of naira. This high profile trial is expected to keep the Bi-Courtney boss on the spotlight for much of 2013.â€¨â€¨â€¨
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
He’s up to his reputation as a no-nonsense frank-talking public servant, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the controversial governor of the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN), is one of those who shaped the receding year.
As if 2012 was meant to be his year of controversy, Sanusi moved to the next one. He announced that the apex ban would be introducing the N5000 note to ease transactions. There was a public outcry against the policy as many argued that a Central Bank governor preaching the policy of cashless society should not be seen to be introducing higher denomination into the monetary system. The National Assembly joined the call for the suspension of the policy but Sanusi did not bulge until the President had to intervene and asked the apex bank to stay action on the introduction of the new legal tender.
Not done, the CBN governor drew the ire of labour when he declared last month that the Federal Government should do away with fifty per cent of its work force as much of the nation’s earnings were being spent on over-heads. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) called for his sack, while many Nigerians felt he should have asked politicians to cut down on number of aides rather than sack workers.
For Sanusi, perhaps 2013 would most likely not change him. His controversy prone approach to issues is likely to play up more in the weeks and months ahead.
Mr. Femi Otedola is certainly a man to watch for 2013. He made a clean break from a huge debt overhang of N141 billion owed AMCON. He also turned around AP to Forte Oil from a three-year loss position totaling N34 billion to a profit position in the billions in 2012. Industry watchers say with the new bounce in his step, he is certain a man to watch in 2013.
He also brought the State Grid Corporation of China in partnership with Amperion to successfully bid for Geregu power generating plant in Kogi State. Hence with the weight of huge debt lifted, the turnaround of dilapidated AP to burgeoning Forte Oil and his business expeditions into the power generation, the next chapter in this story will be one to watch in 2013.
He is the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the face and authority of the opposition to the Federal Government’s decision to withdraw the subsidy to petroleum marketers. Effectively increasing the price, Nigerians would have paid at the pump by over 100 per cent as we entered 2012. He is one man that cannot be ignored, as government attempts major reforms in the most significant sectors of the economy, which include Power and Energy, and the Civil Service as such initiatives, will have far reaching consequences on the lives and livelihoods of all Nigerians. Hence we can expect to hear and see more from him as a member of labour, as he occupies one of the most powerful and influential offices in Nigeria.
The President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria was a pivotal character in 2012, owing to the Federal Government abrupt withdrawal of the petroleum subsidy. In that battle, he gallantly lead protests alongside the President of Nigerian Labour Congress, Abdulwaheed Omar for justice to be seem to be done. However the war on the removal of Petroleum Subsidy and deregulation of the downstream sector continues.
The Federal Government’s initiatives at the reform and deregulation of the energy and power sectors of the economy are still in full force. Therefore his actions and reactions will be a major determinant of the outcome of the Federal Government’s reform efforts in 2013 and beyond.
His appointment as National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan was as a result of the rising activities of the violent Boko Haram in targeting institutions of government and Church gatherings in the northern zone. He was brought in as the man to tame the scourge after a turbulent regime under the late General Owoye Azazi. Unfortunately Boko Haram has recorded significant success under him such as the bombing of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters in Abuja and Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, Nigeria’s elite military institution. However, he has recorded notable achievements in the fight to tame the violent sect, which include the arrest and killing of high profile members of Boko Haram. Nobody knows the dimension that security challenge may take in 2013, but it is clear that the violent sect is planning to wreak more havoc on security agencies in 2013 how prepared and determined the National Security Adviser is in 2013, will determine the level of safety of our country and the citizens.
The spat between the Dangote Group and Ibeto Cement Company went public towards the tail end of 2012 over an alleged glut in the cement market due to dumping of cheap imports into the South- Eastern part of Nigeria. The Dangote Group said it would have to shut down one of its Gboko Cement Plant and lay off its workers in 2013 if the situation does not improve. This implies that the federal government puts tariffs in place, which prohibits such activities. On the other hand the Ibeto Cement Company came back to protect its interest as the only authorised importer of bulk cement in Nigeria and investments made in bagging plants.
The group, which held that a glut is an economic phenomenon that results when a market is excessively supplied with a particular product, stated that the first evidence of such a situation is the drastic crash in the price of the product. It noted this has not been the case of cement, which is still costlier in Nigeria than any other nation in the world. Hence this is effective as a result of fierce competition between the largest cement producer and largest cement importer in Nigeria for the South East territory.
Accusations and counter accusations have been thrown back and fort, which is all in an effort to influence the Federal Government. A compromise seems likely as none of the sides will spare any effort to protect their interest but how such a compromise would be reached by the Federal Government and both sides is what to look out for in 2013.
By now, the former vice president’s ambition to run for office in 2015 is not a secret. He has been working towards resurrecting the political infrastructure within the PDP of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), which was under the leadership of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua to become a potent force in 2015 general elections. Considering that his strategy is to break up the establishment from within, he definitely has an uphill task before him. Those who know him know that the former vice president is not one to shy away from virulent confrontation, as was the case with his former boss president Olusegun Obasanjo. Based on his antecedents and reputation, he is a man to watch in 2013.
One of the major players in the capital intensive upstream sector of the oil and gas industry, Azudialu made history earlier in the year when he acquired 10 per cent of the shares of construction giants, Julius Berger PLC. Today, he sits on the board of the company as a director. By virtue of 10 percent, Azudialu is the single largest individual Nigerian shareholder in the construction giant. However, Azudialu also scored with Neconde Energy Limited, the oil exploration and production company that bought over the largest off-shore oil well of international oil giant, Shell. Alongside Polish technical partners, Kulczyk Oil Ventures, Azudialu set up the company that has the capacity to generate over 160,000 barrels per day from 14 flow stations.
Before these recent successes, Azudialu has made a great deal of success with his Nestoil Plc, a company into oil servicing and major pipeline production, steel structures fabrication and design. A major employer of labour and contributor to the nation’s overall economic development, Azudialu is one of the Nigerians who shaped 2012, winning several awards in the process such as the Forbes/CNBC Africa – West African Entrepreneur of the Year (2012), and was a finalist at the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012. The coming year is not likely to be any different.
The Nigerian football fans are known to be very cynical bunch. Hence, from the outset, coach Stephen Keshi has had a very tough job in dealing with the NFA, the players and the aspirations of Nigerians. As he leads the Nigerian contingent to the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, he shoulders the responsibility of lifting the hope and pride of a football nation in the doldrums. A third place position may not even be enough to save his job and boost Nigerians confidence in their country. He is a man that will shape the disposition of Nigerians towards the football authorities, players and local coaches for good or for bad in 2013. Good luck to him.
The group managing director and cChief executive officer of Notore Chemical Industries Mr. Onajite Okoloko showed dogged determination in his commitment towards making sure Nigeria becomes a major supplier within the country and a key exporter to other countries.
With the largest fertiliser plant in Sub-Saharan Africa already running and another production line on stream in partnership with Mitsubishi of Japan, Okoloko’s Notore may be set to effectively deliver the Nigerian farmer from the stranglehold of the shylock racketeers who once sat on the progress of the Nigerian agricultural sector. Notore will also help Nigeria save colossal amounts of foreign exchange that would have been frittered away by phantom claims of fertiliser imports, which are never distributed to actual farmers.
As Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Adesina has brought significant measures of reforms to the farming sector in the country. Rice, Cassava, fertiliser and fish have been some of the essential commodities that the minister has redeem for the country.
The availability of rice in Nigeria had been left entirely in the hands of importers and smugglers, but the minister has set the tone for a new order, which will gain more traction in 2013 towards making Nigeria self-reliant in rice production by 2015. He has also established Nigeria’s dominance as the world’s largest producer of cassava, while also moving ahead to fine tune the value chain of the crop to make it a major industrial input.
One issue that will keep the focus on Adesina this year is his introduction of telecommunication in the monitoring and promotion of agricultural development in the country. Under this initiative, the federal ministry of agriculture plans to distribute 10 million mobile phones to farmers across the country. You can guess how intense the debate would be from the flak the plan has drawn so far.
The Syrian President spent most of 2012 battling rebels who have been trying to push him out of government. Assad has been slaughtering hundreds of his countrymen and women in a desperate attempt to remain in power. As the battle rages, Assad, will remain very much in the news. Notwithstanding, the rebels have been making progress as they push closer to Damascus by the day. Will he bow to pressure from his Arab neighbours and the West to quit? Perhaps, this will be Assad’s last year in government.â€¨â€¨â€¨
Multiple-award winning music star, D’Banj came out of the break-up of the Mo’Hits family, bigger and better. Local and international awards poured in for the Koko master at the end of 2012. Three monster hits after the break up – Oliver Twist, Oyato and Cash Flow kept D’Banj ahead of the pack. He is expected to remain in the news for much of 2013 with his new Trans-Atlantic music alliance with Kanye West’s Good Music label. He is also working on two new songs to be released in the first quarter of the year.
He was one of the biggest things to happen to the Nigerian music scene in 2012. He released numerous hit songs that kept him ahead of others in 2012. Many will not forget in hurry songs like Sisi Nene, Azonto, Pakurumo, Thank You, Dance for Me and Scatter the Floor. Whiz Kid’s multi-million naira endorsement deals with Pepsi also made him one of the highest earning musicians.