2016: A Recap
Like every other year, 2016 was ushered in with pomp. There were high expectations from all and sundry. For Nigerians, the year took off with great promise and uncertainties. A new regime was just settling in at the dawn of the year when it was confronted with the stark reality of an imminent economic recession. And by the middle of the year, the country had plunged into recession with all its dire effects. From the release of 21 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, raids on judges’ residences, victory of the glorious Falcons to the terrorists attacks and fratricidal killings around the country, the year had its fair share of glad tidings and awful news. Also around the world, there were notable incidents that shaped the outgoing year. All these combined to make 2016 a year of controversies, unprecedented incidents and painful deaths.
Harsh Operating Environment Depresses Economy
Various sectors of the economy, during the year, operated under tough conditions with sub-optimal capacity, which weighed down outputs and reflected lacklustre performance, reports Kunle Aderinokun
2016 would remain in the annals of this nation as the most challenging and turbulent year economically. This year, the economy entered a recession, hitherto witnessed 29 years ago. The economic recession, which is a period of stagflation, low productivity and unemployment, was long foretold by pundits. Although indicators pointed in the direction of the downturn, there were no deliberate policies by the federal government to mitigate the challenges in the economy, but only rhetoric by officials. While the gross domestic product (GDP) entered the negative territory in the first quarter of this year when the economy contracted by 0.36 per cent, it maintained the downward streak in the second quarter and the economy officially entered recession, having recorded a negative growth of 2.06 per cent. And by the time the GDP data for the third quarter was released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the data lent credence to the reality that the economy, which recorded a negative growth of 2.26 per cent had sank deeper into the quagmire.
The government has attributed the recession to the dwindled fortunes of crude oil revenue, occasioned mainly by the continuous attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta. Oil, which is still the mainstay of the economy failed to lift it up because of the untoward activities of the militants in the Niger Delta, which for most part of the year, dealt a debilitating blow on the revenue accruing therefrom, coupled with impact of the crisis at the global oil market. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, oil production which had been benchmarked at 2.2 million barrels per day in the 2016 budget, averaged at 1.63mbpd, lower from production in second quarter of 2016. It got worse at various times of the year when production fell to abysmally low levels. For instance, sometime in May, crude production plummeted to about 1.4 mbd having lost about 750,000bd, at a time a barrel was being sold for about $47 with a budget benchmark of $38 per barrel.
Nevertheless, the non-oil sector, largely driven by the activities of agriculture (crop production), information & communication and other services, with a growth of 0.003 per cent, did not also muster enough contribution to impact economic growth. This is even despite the fact that interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and some development finance institutions appeared to have gone some ways in providing succour for the agriculture sector, a major component of the non-oil sector.
However, the government continued to pay more of lip service to diversification of the economy to the non-oil sector as the necessary ingredients to enable participation in the much mouthed diversification seemed elusive.
The manufacturing sector, which would have been given the requisite fillip to stimulate the economy remained comatose during the year under review. While the CBN has announced a concession for the sector, opening up to them a special window in the foreign exchange market, whereby it directed banks to allocate 60 per cent of their FX for their needs, the impact, however, appeared to be unfelt by the operators as they continue to groan under FX challenges.
After a long wait, the federal government, in its bid to tackle fiscal challenges and lift the economy out of recession, unveiled a 10-point fiscal roadmap, designed to stimulate the economy and set it on the path of recovery and growth.
Highlights of the roadmap were rolled out by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who represented the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the annual dinner of the Lagos Business School. Adeosun itemised the fiscal policies and actions being taken to tackle the key barriers to economic growth.
A major component of the roadmap is to replace administrative measures on the list of 41 items with fiscal measures to reduce demand pressure on foreign exchange (forex) at the parallel market. CBN, in its wisdom, had barred importers from assessing forex, particularly the United States dollars, for the 41 items via the official window, a measure, which had generated intense controversy. Though the measure was applied in good faith by the monetary authority, it pushed importers to sourcing forex from the parallel market, which led to forex shortage and inadvertently affected the value of the naira and the economy.
But with the federal government’s decision to reconsider its policy on the 41 items, the expectation, according to the roadmap, is that there would be a reduction in the demand for US dollars to ramp up forex supply.
Highlights of the developments or issues that shaped different sectors of the economy within the last one year:
One of the major policy initiatives of the federal government and CBN in the banking segment was the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which had put banks’ liquidity positions under stress. This was so because banks were in custody of trillions of naira in public funds, which even accounted for 80 per cent of liquidity in some banks.
Another major milestone in the year under review, which shaped the money market was the introduction of the flexible foreign exchange regime to resolve exchange rate crisis and an array of policy measures intended to achieve stability of the naira. The banks have had to count their losses and gains since the new regime was launched and others had incurred financial sanctions for various infractions from the CBN.
Also, rising inflation had been a major source of concern to the CBN which had on several occasions resorted to tightening of monetary policy to curtail the headline index.
There were further efforts to boost credit to the real sector of the economy through various interventions in aviation, agriculture and power sectors by the apex bank.
The increasing proportion of non-performing loans (NPLs) in banks was also a serious concern during the year as falling oil prices made it difficult to recover massive exposures of the financial sector to the energy and to a greater extent, the power sector.
The period further marked an interesting chapter for the Bureau de change operators which had come under fire from the apex financial regulator which had tried to sanitise the segment as a way of fixing the exchange debacle.
The FX crisis greatly affected trading activities in the capital market in the year under review. Experts particularly blamed it for the low inflow of foreign investments in the country. Foreign investors are not incentivized to bring in their investments as there are no clear cut assurances that when such foreign investments are brought in they can be easily repatriated when they feel the need. This really impacted the level of trading activities on equities during the year.
Another factor that has affected the Capital Market has been a generally weak economy. The weak economy is largely traced to low oil price and low production due to resurgence of militancy and attacks on oil assets in the oil rich Niger Delta region as the country’s economy is largely dependent on receipts from the oil sectors.
Trade and Investment
As part of efforts of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, it unveiled the strategic masterplan for the growth and diversification of the economy. Essentially, it seeks to create an enabling environment to improve the ease of doing business and implement the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) as well as providing support for Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance job creation; promoting trade and investment as engines for growth as well as promoting a digital economy.
If substantiated, the recent claim by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enalemah, that the country recorded over $20 billion investment inflows in the last one year, should be a plausible feat for the ministry and the country in general.
Notably, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has been outstanding in the period under review with several innovations which had increased credit to community projects and small businesses across the country.
But the challenge remained that foreign investments in particular had not been forthcoming as expected, with rising unemployment and discouraging foreign trade data and high inflation.
A recent capital importation report suggested FDI accounted for the smallest share of imported capital at $340.64 million, or 18.69 per cent of the total in the third quarter of the year.
Agriculture and Rural Development
The year witnessed the launch of the “Green Alternative: The Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020”, which is a four-year blueprint on growing and repositioning agriculture for critical economic transformation.
The document, widely celebrated by stakeholders does not only seek to achieve food security but also enhance the country’s capacity to produce and export items in order to earn the badly needed foreign exchange.
Another notable development during the year was the sustained campaign to find lasting solution to the recurring cases of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes across the country. Although, the grazing reserves bill is yet to be passed into law by the National Assembly, several state governments had since volunteered and released large expanse lands for grazing purpose.
Also of note was the landmark initiative by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) with the support of the ministry of agriculture on the commencement of an innovative scheme which would allow the movement of cattle from the northern parts of the country to markets in the southern region by railways, which was further targeted to reduce instances of herdsmen clashes as well as improve the economic well-being of Nigerians.
The manufacturing sector performed ‘poorly’ in 2016 as a continuation of its appalling outing in the preceding year when it contributed only 5 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. According to data obtained from the office of the Director-General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, “In developed countries where the real sectors are thriving, manufacturing contribute as much as between 35 and 40 per cent to the GDP. For instance, in Malaysia, the manufacturing sector contributes about 45 per cent to the GDP.”
Political and economic factors contributed significantly to the decline in the manufacturing sector. For instance, poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply are key impediments to the industry. The industry as a whole operates on more than 70 per cent of energy it generates, using generators. And operating these generators significantly increases the cost of production of goods. Power supply has remained abysmally low on account of low gas supply and other sundry operational issues in the sector. The administration-led by Buhari inherited an average power generation mark of 4000MW. This rose to 5074MW for the first time ever in February but subsequently dipped and now hovers around 3800MW.
Other factors include increase in the prices of petroleum products used by industries, multiple taxation, unabated smuggling and inadequate access to finance, both locally and abroad.
Arguably the sector that was most hit by the foreign exchange challenge in the country has been the real sector. For the better part of 2016, operators in the sector lamented the negative effects of scarcity of FX on their operations. Operators in the sector could not access FX, especially the United States Dollars, at the official rate and had to resort to the parallel market for the needs. The situation persisted even after the adoption of the market-driven flexible exchange regime in June.
The FX challenge has led to the closure of several industries and manufacturing concerns in the country while the surviving industries are doing so at reduced capacity utilisation. Two major fallouts of this has been increase in prices of finished products and mass layoff of workforce leading to increase in the unemployment ratio in the country.
Financing has also been a major challenge for the real sector in the outgoing year.
According to operator, cost of lending ranges between 30 and 36 per cent. This, many of them argued has discouraged many businesses in the sector from accessing finance for manufacturing activities. The firms who braved the odds eventually pass on the costs to the consumer in form of hiked prices.
Yet another factor that literarily crippled the real sector within the year was the effect of the suspension of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) policy. Many export-based businesses that would have helped to generate forex in the year could not do so due to backlog of receipts that they were unable to access and this compounded their operations during the year.
Oil & Gas
During the year, petrol supplies remained stable through the price modulation exercise which is expected to lead to the full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. This has also kept the regular queues for fuel in check but has also seen pump price increase from N86.50 that he met it to N145 per litre.
Also, during the year under review, the NNPC restructuring and reintroduction of a productive business model within which a ‘20 fixes’ model (later trimmed to ‘12 fixes’ by current NNPC GMD, Dr. Maikanti Baru) were initiated. The reforms Kachikwu initiated before handing over to Baru saw to the monthly publication of the operations and financial flows of NNPC. It also resulted in the NNPC recording some margins of profit albeit momentarily for the first time in a very long time.
Also drafted was a national oil and gas policy, which would be harmonised with the omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to create for the industry a reformed and up-to-date policy instrument..
Besides, processes for a far-reaching resolution of the Niger Delta issues which would see the region becoming peaceful for business and development commenced in the year.
Also, the process of a new funding model to end the perennial Joint Venture cash call problem in the sector commenced with the petroleum ministry negotiating a $1.7 billion discount on the $6.8 billion cash call arrears owed international oil companies by the country. Similarly activated were the processes to have new investors co-locate new refineries and share facilities with existing refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt.
However, the refineries have continued to remain unproductive irrespective of the federal government’s promises of revamping them.
Fuel is still being imported as recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that N595.5 billion was spent on fuel importation in the first six months of 2016, rising by N34.3 billion from the amount spent in the last six months of 2015.
Three major issues characterised the aviation industry in 2016. One is concession, the second is the plan to establish a national carrier, a protracted plan, which the present administration has given vigour and enthusiasm and the third issue is the threat of extinction of Nigerian airlines.
During the year, government came up with the plan to concession airport so that the private sector would participate in the infrastructure development of the sector, as government’s lean finances could not continue to fund such facilities. It also gave given new vigour to the quest for national carrier.
There are many who support the establishment of national carrier because they believe it would reinforce Nigeria’s reckoning in air transport in Africa and beyond and when successful it would check the outrageous fares charged by international carriers that operate in the country.
Those who oppose it insist that the idea of a national carrier has become old fashioned, advising government to support indigenous airlines so that they could expand capacity and become profitable in their operations.
This year may be one of the worst for Nigerian airlines. Acute shortage of forex, paucity of aviation fuel sold at exorbitant prices to airlines and depletion of passenger traffic due to the present economic recession have put Nigerian airlines in a quandary.
Economic crunch forced Nigerian oldest airline, Aero Contractors out of schedule services and it is currently threatening the existence of others. There is limited capacity as many aircraft due for check could not be ferried overseas for maintenance because of lack of forex. Domestic flight service is characterised by flight cancellation and delays, leaving thick fog of uncertainty in the mind of passengers. 2016 may not be a good year for the aviation industry because nothing significant was achieved. What could be asserted as development are mere promissory notes, which are the usual rhythm of every government.
A Year of Controversies, Unprecedented Actions
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.
Unforgettable Arts and Culture Moments
The year 2016 will be remembered for cultural arousals, controversies and indefatigable creative energy, writes Yinka Olatunbosun
The echo cannot be louder: Nigeria is diversifying into creative economy as the next major revenue-earner. For this reason, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed initiated town hall meetings and conversations around building a larger-than-life industry that- will compete with the extractive industry.
But what does the Nigerian art and culture sector have to offer the world? The year 2016 was replete with the answers to this question as Nigerian creative ideas delivered with ingenuity and resilience a parade of Nigerian art in spite of the biting effects of economic recession. In no particular order, here is a retrospective account of the unforgettable moments in art and culture for 2016.
One of the most brilliant creative ideas of the year is ARTX, initiated by Tokini Peterside. The debut international art fair in Lagos which lasted for three days in November was a huge success in terms of attendance and organisation. Fourteen galleries and select individual artists of international repute showcased eclectic pieces in visual and media arts while artists’ talks featured the University of Nigeria, Nsukka-based art professor emeritus El-Anatsui and the priceless painter, Bruce Onobrakpeya.
Still on the visual arts, the Life in My City Art Festival and competition (LIMCAF) held its 10th anniversary celebrations at a new venue in Enugu. This year, the annual visual arts event – which has the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, as its patron and Elder K.U. Kalu as its chairman – was able to attract the Honeywell and FBN Holdings chairman Chief Oba Otudeko to its grand premiere. Also at its grand premiere were the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Professor El- Anatsui.
The Arthouse Contemporary Limited successfully held its bi-annual auctions at The Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos. This was in addition to an affordable at the Kia Showroom in Victoria Island, Lagos.
In performing art, Lekki got a new theatre space in Theatre Republic which was opened in the last quarter of the year to the public. In spite of its size deficiency, the building has been designed to accommodate art administrative offices, artists in residence and trainees. It is managed by Wole Oguntokun, a trained lawyer and practising theatre artist.
For Nigerian television, Funke Akindele’s Jenifa’s Diary was an addiction for many viewers of the television series, which was first broadcast on the digital network but is currently broadcast on terrestrial television as well as online channels. The series is star-studded, with each episode ended at a well-timed climax. Jenifa’s Diary is a comedy around the character of a crude Yoruba lady in search of success in Lagos. The plot is woven around themes of global relevance such as human trafficking, love, fraud, prostitution, drug abuse and survival. Also, the MTN Project Fame season nine sustained its tempo for being one of the most sought after music competition while giving its platform free for “an enthusiastic wannabe” in one of the elimination nights.
The British Council held the biggest theatre festival in Lagos that brought many theatre companies together. What is most instructive about this festival is the use of space. Many parts of Freedom Park were transformed into acting arena as no fewer than six performances took place simultaneously on a daily basis at the venue.
Dancers seemed to have migrated gradually from the Shoki to dab dance. The trend became very popular especially at curtain calls in many dramatic performances. It is competing with the new Bugatti dance but the dab is internationally recognised as a celebratory dance which gained popularity among soccer stars and hip hop artists.
Wakaa the Musical, produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, was staged in Shaw Theatre, West London making it a major cultural export of the year for Nigeria. The show enjoyed many international as well as critical reviews as the Minister of Information was among the audience at its London Premiere. The same production company launched its first movie, 93 Days, which is based on the recent history of Ebola Viral Disease in Africa’s most populous city, Lagos.
The MUSON festival continued its bigger and more inclusive run this year before a growing audience. Ditto the two-day Lagos Jazz Series, which held at the Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, Lagos and the Moorhouse Sofitel Hotel in Ikoyi.
One of the most disconcerting moments of the year was the demolition of some parts of the Artists’ Village at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. In the wake of the Minister’s plans to remove the shanties that hide criminals around the Ijora axis, some pre-emptive bulldozers launched their sharp teeth into the earth, destroying art works, dance and art studios leaving a sculptor, Smart Ovwie, injured with a bullet shot from an angry police man. He was refused treatment at the hospital as he could not obtain a police report as required by the law.
This led to a meeting convened by the Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka to condemn the cycle of impunity that follows police brutality and mass demolition and dislocation of people from their comfort zones. The Minister of Information waded into the matter quickly to calm the angry artists who were about to lead a massive protest into the busy streets of Lagos, with a promise to rebuild the village and support artists who have contributed to Nigeria’s glory beyond our shores.
The controversial performance artist, Jelili Atiku, was arrested after performing in Ejigbo with fliers that point accusing fingers at the community head. The call to release Atiku was ignored by the Nigeria Police and he was charged to court on a four-count criminal charge including felony, causing an outrage in the art community. He has since been released following a favourable court judgment in Lagos.
Likewise, controversy crossed border as an artist from the Republic of Benin, Imorou Sanda accused Signature Gallery, Ikoyi of publishing his work in an auction brochure without his permission and altering one of his paintings with the imposing of lizards. He claimed that the gallery had not fully paid him for the work in question and THISDAY investigated the matter, examining the legal implication of artist-gallery owner transaction. Chief Rahman Akar who owns the gallery refuted the claim and promised to appear at the Citizens’ Mediation Centre where the matter was being resolved. In the latest finding, Sanda had been recruited by Quintessence Gallery and his works were part of the displayed works at the ARTX Lagos.
In the second quarter of the year, the National Summit on Arts, Culture and Tourism was convened in Abuja to reposition the sector as Nigeria’s next pot of gold. Artists, policy makers, ex-governors, ex-ministers and other stake holders converged on the Transcorp Hilton for three days as they charted a new path for the wheels of progress.
One great shock for writers came when the well-decorated musical legend, Bob Dylan, was honoured with a Nobel Prize in Literature for his lyrics. Many argued that it was not a sign of good judgment to elevate this genre of art over the conventional literary writing. This initiated arguments and counter-arguments with a view to rethinking what qualifies to be called literature. It was one of the issues raised at the Lagos Book and Art festival in November.
Felabration, an annual posthumous celebration of the Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti took place as usual in Lagos, activating debates and musical performances in the week-long event. Although no foreign artist was invited this year due to paucity of funds, Felabration retained its place in Nigeria’s cultural calendar and has recently won one of the best festivals in the world. The annual music concert offers employment opportunities for thousands of people while boosting the city’s tourism potential. Same goes for Africa Meets Reggae, a day music concert initiated by Victor Essiet of The Mandators’ fame. Like many music concerts of the year, the concert experienced shrunken audience but set a record for secured venue, well-arranged seating area for the audience with affinity for young and talented artists. Though Ras Kimono, Orits Wiliki and Majek Fashek, the reggae revolutionary who checked into a rehab earlier in the year were not at the last edition, the presence of Seyi Shay, Malaika and Nkulee Dube made up for their absence.
Sax Appeal, organised by Mike Aremu made good its promise to bring the African-American soul musician, India Arie to Lagos. Arie praised Nigeria for her wealth of brilliant artists and unwittingly prolonged her performance for the sake of her pocket-size fans who sang the lyrics of her songs along with her at the concert.
Wizkid, Nigeria’s famed afro-pop artist earned his first Grammy Nomination after winning big at the MTV Africa Music Awards. It came as no surprise at all to those who have critically reviewed his songs. He is the first home grown Nigerian artist to entire the Album of the Year category with a collaborative work done with Drake in “Views”.
The IRep documentary film festival was one of the first cultural highlights of the year that include workshops and film screenings. But the euphoria of the festival had since been lost on film buffs, who are currently moving in throngs to the cinema to see the historical movie titled ‘76, produced by Adonaijah Owiriwa and Izu Ojukwu with the latter as the director. It stars in the lead roles Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Rita Dominic and Ibinabo Fiberesima.
The film culture in Lagos was given another twist with the homecoming of Newton Aduaka, a Nigerian based in England who screened his award-winning movie, Ezra for the first time in Nigeria at the Nigerian Film Institute, Ikoyi. Also, the Toronto of The Wedding Party at the Toronto International Film Festival is good indication for the movie industry in Nigeria as having great international impact on international cinema. The glamorous movie, directed by Kemi Adetiba, later premiered in Lagos before the Nigerian society’s crème de la crème, is star-studded and is based on the theme of love and infidelity. In terms of solid thematic structure, Nollywood is gradually shifting towards balancing glamour with message.
The Lagos at 50 celebrations provided a platform for masquerade displays, discourses and cultural reverberations. Held at strategic cultural locations in Lagos including the Glover Hall, the arts and culture community used the event as canvas for painting other cultural events such as stage plays, film screenings as well as the “Vision of the Child” art competition targeted at primary school-age children who are passionate about art and writing.
Public spaces were given a facelift with the annual photography festival titled, “Lagos Photo’’ organised by the African Artists’ Foundation and sponsored by Etisalat. The event remains the largest for photography and this year’s edition featured the best of African photo artistry. The best thing that happened to Lagos Photo was the presence of Jonathan Mannion in Lagos. The legendary hip hop photographer who had worked with the likes of Jay-Z was on a tour to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of his career.
The Abuja Carnival was held at the Federal Capital Territory against the odds of logistics and state funding with Kogi State emerging the best overall state. The carnival featured contemporary dances, three-day music concert, boat regatta, children fiesta, masquerade display and durbar performances. The international carnival remains rooted in fostering national and global unity, projecting Nigeria as a tourism destination while creating value for Nigeria’s creative industry.
Finally, the year witnessed the shocking demise of great artists such as the octogenarian actress, Bukky Ajayi; the playwright and scholar, Elechi Amadi, Henrietta Kosoko, Festus Aguebor, , Elder Maya Martins Njubuigbo, as well as upcoming actors such as Fred Ekata Isiaka Adewale Najeem and Abdul Lateef Ashimiyu. It was also a year that witnessed the demise of art patrons like Sammy Olagbaju and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi.
A Year of Promise, Despite Broken Promises
Regardless of the fact that two leading lights in Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shuaibu were lost to the cold hands of death, the outgoing year in Nigerian sports should be remembered as one of promise in spite of it being littered with administrative missteps.
Keshi and Amodu – both handlers of the national football team, the Super Eagles – died within days of each other in June.
Keshi, who passed away at 54, was the first Nigerian to win the African Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach. He was captain of the Super Eagles to the 1994 Cup of Nations’ which Nigeria won after beating Zambia 2-1 in Tunisia.
Keshi became coach of the Nigerian National Team in 2011 and led Nigeria to the 2013 African Cup of Nations hosted by South Africa. His charges went on to win the championship defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
He also qualified and led Nigeria to 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil where the Super Eagles made it to the last 16 before being eliminated by France.
As Nigerians were coming to terms with the loss of Keshi, Amodu who had paid a condolence visit to the late tactician also passed away two days later. The five-time coach of the Super Eagles died aged of 58.
Amodu was until his death, the director of technical for all the national teams in Nigeria. In separate stints as national team handler spanning two decades (on five different occasions), Amodu qualified Nigeria for two FIFA World Cups in 2002 and 2010 but was sacked before the showpiece occasion both times.
Incidentally, Amodu’s name was in the frame a few months earlier when a salvage job was required in the aftermath of Sunday Oliseh resigning as national team coach. Among many issues, non-payment of salaries was a major reason Oliseh left the team in the lurch in February, a few days before a crucial AFCON qualifier against Egypt.
Another former manager Samson Siasia was appointed for the double-header, which Nigeria eventually lost, thus missing out of qualification for AFCON 2017.
Siasia who had previously qualified the Nigerian U23 football team for the Olympic Games in Rio returned to his initial brief, taking charge of the team in preparation for the Rio Games.
However, the team was in the news again for the wrong reasons, as they were ‘abandoned’ in Atlanta by the sports ministry and barely made it to Brazil for their first game.
Disputes over salaries and bonuses between sports officials and those flying Nigeria’s colours in international competitions turned out to be a recurring theme through the year.
In true Nigerian spirit though, the ‘Dream Team’ stunned Japan 5-4, after only arriving Brazil from their Atlanta base a few hours before the match. The team’s exploits drew attention from around the world including that of a Japanese philanthropist who was so impressed, he promised the team monetary reward commensurate with how far they went in the competition.
The Dream Team eventually won a bronze medal, the only medal Nigeria mustered at the 2016 Olympics. It confirmed football as the preminent sport in the country, with very little to cheer from other sports.
The Dream Team were duly rewarded by their millionaire admirer, Katsuya Takasu.
Nigeria finally got a substantive coach for the Super Eagles in the person of Gernot Rohr. A German national, the 63-year-old Rohr who has previously coached Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso, has had an impressive start, with wins over Tanzania, Zambia and Algeria.
The latter two matches were Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying matches, ensuring Nigeria have a good head start in qualifying first out of a group that also includes Cameroon.
Potential qualification for the 2018 World Cup and the emergence of Nigerian players as a force in the English Premier League especially, have helped in lifting spirits, and reducing the disappointment of missing back-to-back African Championships.
For the first time in a while, Nigerian stars feature prominently in the feats of the top teams in most watched football league in the world. Victor Moses has been a stalwart for league leaders Chelsea, Alex Iwobi a revelation for fellow London club Arsenal, while Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho has had one of the highest goals-to-games ratio across Europe this year.
Good news is that these players are young; Moses is 26, Iwobi and Iheanacho are both 20. Even better is the fact that they have all played vital roles in the improved fortunes of the national team. And he best news of all? There are more young players of Nigerian extraction in England’s top teams.
Ola Aina (20) of Chelsea, Tosin Adarabioyo (19) of Manchester City and Sheyi Ojo (19) of Liverpool are three of these young guns that could bolster the Super Eagles and make them a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Of course, these players need to be sure they’re making the right choice by committing to Nigeria. Stories of officials reneging on promises and owing coaches and players money will not help in attracting Nigeria’s best talents.
Right from Oliseh’s resignation, to the Dream Team’s participation at the Olympics, to Samson Siasia, it has been a year of broken promises by the sporting authorities.
The debacle involving Nigeria’s female national team, the Falcons, and the sports authorities over unpaid entitlements despite winning a record eight African title was the nadir.
The African champions had to embark on a sit-in (in their hotel) and a march to the National Assembly before getting government’s attention, and finally getting some – but not all – of their entitlements.
If Nigerian sports (especially football) will deliver on its promise in the incoming year, the culture of broken promises sports administrators must be banished with 2016.
As the year 2016 comes to a close, one name more than others rings loud: Donald Trump. With it come so many connotations, but nationalism and protectionism stand out.
The American President-elect’s campaign was run on the tagline, Make America Great Again, and he repeatedly told his audience that it was time to “take our country back.”
Among many of Trump’s messages was his intent to build a wall along America’s border with Mexico. The logic behind it was that rather than send its best, Mexico sent “rapists and drug dealers” to America. Trump’s rhetoric may have been informed by characters such as El Chapo.
One of the first – and most captivating – global stories of the year was the recapture in January of the Mexican drug lord, real name Joaquín Guzmán.
Considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the United States Department of the Treasury and the “most ruthless, dangerous, and feared man on the planet”, by the US government, El Chapo was recaptured in Mexico after he had escaped from prison about six months before.
El Chapo has exported more drugs to the United States than anyone in history and in 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named him “Public Enemy Number One” for the influence of his criminal network in Chicago. The last person to receive such notoriety was Al Capone in 1930.
Twenty-sixteen was the year Iran completed its journey from international pariah to being welcome back to the comity of nations as the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in January that the Middle-Eastern country had adequately dismantled its nuclear weapons program, allowing the United Nations to lift sanctions immediately.
Later in the month, the World Health Organization announced an outbreak of the Zika virus, a virus spread by daytime-active mosquitoes. Among other ways, Zika can be transferred from a pregnant woman to her fetus, prompting countries like Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica to advise women to postpone getting pregnant until more is known about the risks.
This year has witnessed a more belligerent North Korea. The Asian country launched a long-range rocket into space in February, violating multiple UN treaties and prompting condemnation from around the world.
Later in September, it conducted its fifth and reportedly biggest nuclear test. World leaders again condemned the act, with South Korea calling it “maniacal recklessness”.
In March, three coordinated bombings in Brussels, Belgium killed at least 32 and injure at least 250. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Later in June, the same terrorist organization claimed responsibility for attacking the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, killing 45 and injuring around 230.
In April, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published a set of 11.5 million confidential documents from the Panamanian corporate, Mossack Fonseca, that provided detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, including the identities of shareholders and directors, including noted personalities and heads of state.
Known as the Panama Papers, it was leaked by an anonymous whistleblower called John Doe, and revealed that some of the shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, kleptocracy, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.
Tragedy struck in May when an EgyptAir Flight 804 crashed with 66 people on board over the Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo. There was a fire and some reports claim an explosion. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
In the same month, former Chadian President Hissène Habré was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed during his tenure from 1982 to 1990. It was the first time an African Union-backed court convicted a former ruler of a country within its jurisdiction.
In what could be seen as a sign of things to come later in the year, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. The vote, known as Brexit, was the first in a new wave of “rebellions” against an increasingly globalised world. A fallout of Brexit was Theresa May replacing David Cameron as Prime Minister of the UK.
One of the most viewed – and talked about – events of the year was the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.
But it wasn’t the only major news emanating from the South American country that month. A few days after the Games ended, the Brazilian Senate voted 61–20 to impeach the President Dilma Rousseff.
It was the culmination of a process that had seen the Vice President, Michel Temer, assume presidential powers and duties as Acting President during Rousseff’s suspension. Temer took office for the remainder of Rosseff’s term.
There has also been a changing of guard in other countries. One of the notable instances is in the Philippines, where seventy-one year old Rodrigo Duterte rode to power aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and criminals.
Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since the election, he threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations.
West African countries Ghana and Gambia also recently held elections with similar outcomes but different reactions. In Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party was elected President, defeating incumbent President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress.
In Gambia, opposition candidate Adama Barrow also defeated long-term incumbent Yahya Jammeh in what was seen by many as a surprise. More surprising was the concession of defeat by the incumbent who had held power for 22 years.
However, a week after congratulating his victor, Jammeh insisted on a new election. The international community has advised him to cede power to Barrow.
The most enthralling presidential contest was that of the United States where Republican candidate Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton in a result that went against most predictions. The presidential race was one of the two dominant topics of 2016 in the US. The second was the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Black Lives Matter is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, campaigning against violence and systemic racism toward black people. There were protests against police killings of black people and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and perceived racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.
Twenty-sixteen saw the exit of two champions of the African community, Muhammed Ali and Fidel Castro.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali was an American professional boxer and activist. He was widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring.
Castro was a Cuban politician and revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Cuba became a one-party socialist state and ally of the USSR under his administration, to the irritation of the US. He reportedly survived 638 assassination attempts by the CIA.
He is remembered as a friend, ally and, in some places, a savior in Africa, where he supported many liberation movements including the fight against apartheid. Castro is however seen as a dictator in some quarters, a notion trumpeted by Trump.
The American President-elect’s combative style and nationalistic/protectionist views have helped to make him one of the world’s most powerful men. He has been crowned TIME Man of the Year. If any one word defines the international political landscape of 2016, it has to be Trump.
…And They Took the Final Bow
As sure as the sun rises daily from the east, there will be painful passages, while many of these personalities are quietly mourned by a close circle of friends and family members, others, through their eminence become a collective loss, eliciting an anguish that transcends their immediate environment. Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha recall some of the leading lights whose candle fluttered and died this year.
David Bowie: The Eccentric Rock ‘n’ Roll Legend
Just two days after his 69th birthday and release of his 25th studio album, ‘Blackstar’, the British eccentric rock ‘n’ roll singer bowed to the grueling hands of cancer.
Born in London on January 8, 1947, Bowie is notable for his bohemian and liberal mind which transcended eras and cultures. He explored various themes in his music from rebellion, paranoia to a heart-rending yearning, Bowie spoke with a commanding voice that could not be ignored. He lived a very private life and never disclosed the type of cancer he had till he died on January 10, 2016. He is survived by his international model wife Iman, their daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones and a son from a previous marriage ‘Duncan Jones.
Alan Rickman: The Elegant British Actor
Same week Bowie died, the British entertainment world lost one of its brilliant actors, Alan Rickman. Rickman was the enigmatic villain on screen and adorable seducer on stage. Rickman’s credits are many but his memorable role was the mean, sarcastic instructor Severus Snape in Hogwarts school in ‘Harry Potter’. On stage, Rickman was famous for his role in Shakespeare’s Company’s 1985 production of Christopher Hampton’s ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’. He gave life and action to the character Vicomte de Valmont which earned him a Tony Award. Born to a working class family on February 21, 1946 in London, Rickman attended the Royal Academic of Dramatic Art before training as a dresser with the Shakespeare’s Company. He would later embrace acting completely. He directed and featured in TV shows. Although, Rickman did not win any Oscar during his lifetime, his shelf is not void of other awards. Rickman died on Thursday, January 14 after a futile battle with cancer. He was aged 69 and survived by three siblings and wife Rima Horton.
Olamide David: A Deadly Play
Young and talented actor Olamide David’s death was one of the shocking news that kicked off the year in Nollywood. He died on January 18, after sustaining an abdominal injury from a football game. The 14 year-old David gained popularity for his charming role in the TV series ‘Cobweb’. He later won the award for the ‘Best Male Actor ‘ at the 2015 Best of Nollywood Awards.
Nomoreloss: No More Loss for the Osinugas
On March 21, the music industry was rocked to the devastating news of Olumuyiwa Osinuga popularly known as Nomoreloss. Nomoreloss was among the pioneers of the new music industry that had the likes of Ruggedman. Born in the 70’s, his love for music spawned from an early age and he mastered his musical skills under the wings of celebrated jazz saxophonist Kunle Ajayi. Prior to his death, he was a judge on the MTN music reality show, Project Fame. A very close friend of the late OJB Jezreel, he championed the ‘Save OJB campaign’ during the producer’s kidney ailment in 2013.
There were speculations on the cause of his death but the artiste, MC, composer, producer, comedian, music video director will be remembered for body of works such as his most popular hit ‘Iyawo Asiko’. He is survived by his daughter, Motunrayo Osinuga.
Prince: The Purple One
The death of the purple one on April 21 shook the world. Prince was said to have died in his Paisley Park home of opioid overdose. Prior to his death, the virtuoso musician, multi-instumentalist, actor, director’s airplane made an emergency landing at Illinois to attend to his health. He was reportedly fighting flu. Born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, his music was greatly influenced by a blend of pop, hip-hop, funk,jazz, R&B, soul, disco. He was regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound and known for his fashion eccentricities. His obsession with the colour purple earned him the moniker ‘The Purple One’. Prince sold about 100 million copies of his songs during his lifetime and the figures have accelerated since his death. The 57 year-old music icon married and divorced thrice without an offspring in his lifetime. This caused some controversy on who will inherit his estate which was recently valued at $200 million. The estate has long been metamorphosed into a museum.
Papa Wemba: The King of Rumba Rock
Three days after the world lost virtuoso musician Prince, the African continent was thrown into gloom as one of its finest musician, Papa Wemba left the earthly plane. Papa Wemba like the late Mother of African Music, Miriam Makeba died on stage on April 24, while performing with his band, Viva La Musica in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba on June 14,1949, Wemba entered the music world in 1969, at a time his country, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was still struggling to get her footing as a free nation. He is the pioneer of SAPE-Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes d’Elegance or Society of Ambiance-ists and People of Elegance: a group of young men known for their elegant style of dress and are called Sapeurs. Wemba left behind a body of work that spans decades and rivals some of Congolese great musicians. His discography is made up of, at least, 42 records on which he sang on or composed.
Oba Erediauwa of Benin: A Royal Exit
The Omo N’Oba n’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, joined his ancestors on Friday, April 29 after battling with an undisclosed ailment since last year. Oba Erediauwa was born in 1923 and became the 38th Oba of Benin, traditional ruler of the Edo people in Benin City, in Nigeria on March 23, 1979, when he took over from his father Oba Akenzua II.
Muhammad Ali: The Iconic Pugilist
After spending three decades of his life battling Parkinson’s disease, death rang the final bell on the legendary boxer on June 3. Ali ‘The Greatest’ was said to have died of septic shock. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to middle-class parents, Ali started boxing when he was 12. He won Golden Gloves titles before heading to the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where he won a gold medal as a light heavyweight. The pugilist is notable for using a litany of insults on his opponents before physically beating them up. Ali stirred a controversy when he picked up his Muslim name, inspired by Malcolm X and refused to be drafted into the American Army during the Vietnam war. harsh. He was stripped of his boxing title, convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison. Released on appeal but unable to fight or leave the country, Ali turned to the lecture circuit, speaking on college campuses, where he engaged in heated debates revolving round the hypocrisy meted on blacks. Ali is survived by his nine children.
Henrietta Kosoko: A Celebration Cut Short
Not many believed that the wife of veteran actor Jide Kosoko had passed on that fateful June 6. It was a staggering shock for she had just marked her 53rd birthday the previous shock. As mysterious as the news of her death was, Henrietta who came into the spotlight when she played the lead role in the Yoruba movie ‘Omolade’ in 1995 was said to be suffering from diabetes. On the day she died, she slumped in her home but confirmed dead by the time she was taken to the hospital. Last year, she cheated death by surviving a fatal accident along the Sagamu-Abeokuta way.
Stephen Keshi: The Big Boss
Super Eagles former coach’s death was one of the heartfelt loss the nation suffered this year. Fondly called the Big Boss, Keshi had complained of a leg ailment while on a vacation at his home in Benin, Edo state. He died on the way to hospital in wee hours of June 7.
Born January 23, 1962, Keshi’s robust career celebrated great feats on the field. He captained the Super Eagles into victory in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and would later manage the Nigeria team to victory in 2013 for the same tournament. As a coach of the Togo football team, he achieved success by qualifying them for the FIFA World Cup in 2006. Keshi also set an impressive record in African football by being the first African coach to successfully qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) to the World Cup Finals. He also helped Nigeria become the first country to achieve an African Cup of Nations trophy and World Cup qualification, both in 2013. The ex- international lost his wife of more than three decades, Nkem Kate Keshi to a prolonged battle with cancer in. December 2015.
He is survived by four children and his mother.
Amodu Shuaibu: Shocking Exit
He had barely returned from a condolence visit to the Keshi’s family, when death claimed his life. The former head coach had gone to bed on the eve of his death complaining of chest pains and died in his sleep on June 10. Amodu managed the senior national teams for most part of his career and was appointed the national technical director by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) before his untimely death. He was aged 58.
OJB Jezreel: End of a Borrowed Life
Just when his fans, friends and family were eager to sing his rebirth and celebrate his 50th birthday, the Grim Reaper visited OJB Jezreel. He suffered from a relapse of kidney failure that threatened his life since 2013.The musician, song-writer and producer is credited for shaping the burgeoning career of famous artistes like 2Baba, Ruggedman, Durella, Wizkid. Survived by three wives and eight children, Babatunde Okungbowa was born on July 4, 1966. He died on June 14, 2016.
Elechi Amadi: A Literary Icon
One of the first generation of African writers and novelists kicked the bucket on June 29. Captain Elechi Amadi was born on May 12, 1934 and attended Umuahia College before studying at the University of Ibadan for a year. He would later teach before joining the Nigerian Military during the civil war. Amadi although belonged to the class of Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, he did not gain wide popularity like them. However, his novel ‘The Concubine’ earned him international fame. Some of his career achievements include teaching, land surveying, and writing plays and essays. He remained in the service of the government, even appointed a Minister of Education in his home state, Rivers until he retired in 1990. He was made a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003 and survived a kidnap attempt in 2009. Amadi had been married twice and had 12 children.
Bukky Ajayi: A Painful Exit
One of the most memorable moments of Bukky Ajayi for many would be her emotional outpouring at the 2016 AMVCA where she was honored with the Industry Merit Award. Sitting on her wheelchair, she appreciated the love and respect bestowed on her and asked for forgiveness from those she may have offended. That single act in retrospect was a sign that the veteran actress was about to leave to the great beyond. For a long while, the revered thespian and broadcaster battled with diabetes, cancer and hypertension until she gave up on July 6. Born February 2, 1934, Ajayi was born to Christian parents but later converted to a Muslim and adopted the name ‘Zainab’. She began her career as a presenter and newscaster for Nigerian Television Authority before moving into the film industry with the TV series, Village Headmaster. She had featured in many films including Witches, Mother of George and Final Whistle.
Muhammed Abu Ali: A Fallen Hero
Many who knew little of him were moved to tears when they read about his heroic bravery in the battlefield. Muhammed Abu Ali made history as one of the few soldiers who evoked great sympathy and admiration from the public. Born on August 15, 1980, Abu Ali died on November 5, in an ambush laid for his troops by the terrorist Boko Haram sect. He was the commanding officer of 272 Tank Battalion and earned the respect of his superiors and colleagues for his valiance and gallantry in the fight against terrorism. Before his untimely death, Ali was promoted to a Major. He joined the Nigeria Defence Academy in 1998 and became a commissioned officer in 2003. The Kogi state indigene is survived by his wife and three children.
Leonard Cohen: And the Heavens Sang ‘Hallelujah’
The Canadian poet, novelist and international singer-songwriter died during his sleep following a fall in the middle of the night on November 7. Born Leonard Norman Cohen on September 21, 1934, in Westmount, Quebec. He learned guitar as a teenager and formed a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. He pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, and did not launch a music career until 1967, at the age of 33. Cohen is famous for his ‘Hallelujah’ song which was first released on Cohen’s studio album ‘Various Positions’ in 1984.The song had limited initial success but found greater popularity through a 1991 cover by John Cale, which formed the basis for a later cover by Jeff Buckley. ‘Hallelujah’ has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages.
Cohen released his final album, ‘You Want It Darker’, a month before his death. He was aged 82.
Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki: A Noble Bow
Former Sultan of Sokoto bowed to the grueling hands of death on November 14. Dasuki was the 18th Sultan of Sokoto and the first from the Buhari line of the house of Dan Fodio. The late Sultan was deposed in 1996 during the regime of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, after he was installed during the regime of Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, in 1988. He ruled for eight years before his deposition and banishment to Zing, in Taraba State. He was aged 93.
Fidel Castro: A Mixed Celebration
CNN tagged the former Cuban leader as a legendary survivor after 600 attempts to kill him failed . The mood surrounding the news of his death that Friday, November 25, was mixed. For some, it was an answer to a long-said prayer while for some, the world had lost one its greatest men. Castro was the fearless revolutionary who defied the US mighty hands of power which led to a huge gap in their international relationship. However, there was a reunion last year, spearheaded by the outgoing US president, Barack Obama.
In his hometown, Castro was painted in different shades: from a hero to a traitor. He was just 32 when he overthrew the brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista and poised himself as a saviour to his people, only to subject them to his dictatorship for 47 years. Not until he was bedridden by an intestinal illness in 2006, did he relinquish his power to his younger brother Raul. He was born on August 13, 1926 and survived by his wife and nine children.
David Hamilton: A Suicidal Shot
The British photographer and film director is best known for taking nude photos. He died in his Paris home on November 25, although reports suggested he committed suicide. The controversial photographer faced rape accusations by a model who had worked with him as a child a week before he died. Born on April 15, 1933, in London, Hamilton worked as an architect, a graphic designer for Elle magazine in Paris, an art director of Queen magazine and Printemps department store in London and France respectively. It was in France that the photographer who had no formal training in the field, began photographing commercially. In the film field, Hamilton directed five erotic movies that largely centered on blossoming sexuality in flower-crowned girls. The nudity prompted a number of boycotts and prosecutions, though in most cases the charges were dropped or the verdicts overturned.
He was aged 83 and had no progeny.
Otunba Ayora Bola Kuforiji Olubi: A Woman of Many Firsts
To say, the noble technocrat and former minister of Commerce lived a trailblazing life would be stating the obvious. During her lifetime, she shattered many glass ceilings by occupying lofty positions that were mostly kept for men. Some of the major landmarks she achieved include being the first female president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, and the first woman to serve as chairperson of the United Bank of Africa.
She died on December 3, barely two months after she clocked 80.
Izu Joseph: A Truncated Dream
The life of the young talented player of the Oluyole Warriors of the Ibadan Shooting Stars was cut short by soldiers were said to have been on a raid of some parts of the community in search of suspected militants. Izu Joseph who was on vacation in his home town Okakhi-a border town between Bayelsa and Rivers states-was killed by a stray bullet on October 16. Born February 24, 1992, he joined Shooting Stars in 2014 from Bayelsa United when the Ibadan club were still in the second-tier Nigeria National League.