It is said that a day is a long time in politics. If so, a year is a very long time indeed. This year has seen a lot of significant happenings. The year has seen the All Progressives Congress trying to master the art of governance, and the Peoples Democratic Party trying to find its feet in its new role as opposition party. Both parties have had difficulty playing their new roles.
Below are some of the major political stories in the year
The year opened with a budget controversy, which began soon after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2016 budget of N6.08 trillion to the National Assembly in December 2015. The budget was dogged by allegations and counter allegations of unlawful insertions and deletions by the executive and the legislature. This led to adjustments in the appropriation bill. On October 25, the president sent a letter to the National Assembly seeking N180.8 billion in virement for line items in both capital and recurrent expenditures.
Abdulmumin Jibrin resigned as chairman of the House appropriation committee on July 20 after raising controversial allegations of irregularities by principal officers of the National Assembly in the making of the 2016 budget. He was suspended from the House on September 28 following an investigation.
PDP Leadership Crisis
The Peoples Democratic Party was embroiled in a leadership crisis that had its roots in the resignation of the former national chairman, Adamu Muazu, before his term was due to end in March 2016. Muazu’s resignation kicked off a succession war that saw the new opposition party going through several battles for survival. Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was selected in February as national chairman of PDP for initial three months’ tenure to stabilise the party in preparation for the election of substantive national officers. The party’s national convention scheduled for May 21 in Port Harcourt ended in controversy.
It failed to hold elections into national offices, but replaced Sheriff with Ahmed Makarfi, who was appointed chairman of a national caretaker committee mandated to oversee the affairs of the party pending the election of substantive officers. A parallel convention was held in Abuja on the same May 21 by a faction of PDP.
PDP held another convention in Port Harcourt on August 17, but also failed to elect national officers.
The party’s national headquarters in Abuja was sealed off by the police, as the opposing sides in the crisis tried to physically take control of the office amid multifarious court orders.
The crisis, which had brewed in All Progressives Congress since June last year, when the principal officers of the National Assembly were elected against the wish of the ruling party, blew open. The Ondo State governorship poll became a theatre of battle, as contending forces in the party feuded over the emergence of APC’s candidate for the November 26 governorship election. The APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s nominee, Olusegun Abraham, was defeated by Rotimi Akeredolu, the eventual winner of the governorship poll, amid allegations that the September 2 primary election had been fixed by elements with support from Abuja.
Piqued by the allegations of fraud in the primary, Tinubu in a letter released September 25 by his media office titled, “Oyegun’s Ondo fraud: The violation of democracy in the APC,” asked the man who was suspected to have masterminded the rigging, the national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, to resign.
Supreme Court Verdicts on Governorship Elections
The year saw the settlement of litigations arising from the April 11, 2015 governorship elections and other rescheduled governorship polls by the Supreme Court. On February 3, the Supreme Court upheld the election of PDP’s Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, upturning the verdict by the Court of Appeal on December 31, 2015, which had sacked the governor and declared Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance as the duly elected governor.
On the same February 3, the apex court endorsed the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and set aside the December 18, 2015 ruling of the Court of Appeal that had nullified Emmanuel’s election. The election of Emmanuel, the PDP candidate, was challenged by the candidate of the APC, Umana Umana.
The Supreme Court on January 27 upheld the election of Nyesom Wike of the PDP as governor of Rivers State, upturning the decision of the appeal court. The appeal court had on December 16, 2015 affirmed the October 24, 2015 verdict of the Rivers Governorship Election Tribunal that nullified Wike’s election and ordered a fresh poll.
On November 8, the apex court affirmed Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, the candidate of PDP, as winner of the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship elections in the state.
On September 28, governorship election was held in Edo State, with the APC candidate, Godwin Obaseki, beating his main challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP. The election had been shifted from September 10.
On November 26, the people of Ondo State went to the polls to elect a new governor. Rotimi Akeredolu of APC won, beating his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP.
Chibok Schoolgirls Rescue
Twenty one of the nearly 300 schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014, were rescued by the military on October 13. Two others had been found before then, one on May 17 by local vigilantes helping the military in the war against terrorism, and another about 24 hours later.
Arrest of Judges for Alleged Corruption
On October 8, two Supreme Court justices, Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, and two judges of the Federal High Court, Adeniyi Ademola (Abuja Division) and Muazu Pindiga (Gombe Division), were arrested on corruption allegations by operatives of the Department of State Services. Their houses had been raided by the DSS in the early hours of that October 8 during a sting operation.
On October 20, Prince Eheneden Erediauwa was crowned as the 40th Oba of Benin Kingdom at a colourful ceremony in the Edo State capital.
In February, bands of armed men Fulani herdsmen attacked several villages in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State, killing about 500 locals. Though, the figure has been disputed by the police. On April 25, rampaging Fulani herdsmen killed about 48 natives and injured 60 others in Ukpabi Nimbo community, in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enu Enugu State.
Prominent Politicians Who Died
Olorogun Michael Ibru died on September 6 at the age of 85.
The senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on economic matters, deployed to the vice president’s office, Ayodele Adu, died on August 12.
Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, James Enojo Ocholi, SAN, died on March 6 in an auto crash. He was killed with his wife, son and aide-de-camp, along the Kaduna-Abuja road.
The member representing Warri South State Constituency 1, Mrs Omawumi Udoh, died on December 14.