THISDAY A SPECIAL REPORT

2016 will surely go down as one of the most significant years in Nigeria’s history. The significance flows from the unprecedented political events of the previous year, when for the first time in the country’s political history a sitting president was defeated in an election by an  opposition candidate. Nigeria achieved its first democratic transition from a  ruling party to the opposition. Thus, 2016 was the year when all eyes were  on President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress to  prove their mettle. They did in their own way. But in the process of  trying to show that they could govern better than the  erstwhile president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and his  Peoples Democratic Party, achievements were  made, goals were missed, and mistakes were made. Also, in Nigeria and around the world, political, economic, and social battles were fought, won, and lost. In the various spheres, some got the accolades for the  successes of 2016, while others received the knocks for the failures. Some are clearly revelling in their victories, while others are still licking  their wounds after various dispiriting outings. Here are some of the winners and losers.

***** The Winners *****
Muhammadu Buhari: For conquering Boko Haram and waging sustained fight against corruption
President Muhammadu Buhari has been praised for his successes with the anti-corruption drive of his government. Huge amounts of looted money have been recovered and measures have been put in place to check corruption, especially in public offices. Though, the president has been accused of pursuing an anti-corruption drive that is skewed against the opposition, no one has really accused the administration of prosecuting an innocent person. On security, too, Buhari is praised for the recent clearance of the Boko Haram terrorist group from their last stronghold in Sambisa forest.

Donald Trump: For his insurgent victory in the US presidential election and racing to change the world order
This time last year, not many would have predicted that Donald Trump will end 2016 as President-elect of the United States. The mainstream media overlooked him, hardly giving him any chance of being the Republican Party’s flagbearer in the US elections held late last year.

However, not only did Trump come out as Republican nominee, he also came out tops against the Democratic Party candidate, Hilary Clinton.
In the process, Trump defied the political establishment within and outside his party, the polls, bad press and much of the international community to against all odds, emerge one of the most improbable winners of presidential elections in US history.

Vladimir Putin: For credible attempt to bring the war in Syria to a close and ensuring the survival of his ally, President Assad
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been around for some time and from all indications, he’s not only going to be around for some time to come, he’s also becoming more powerful. Many would argue – with the backing of seasoned world politics analysts – that he is probably the most powerful person in the world presently. The Russian President has made credible attempts to bring the Syrian war to a close by deploying  Russian military assets to the region and also aiding his ally, President Bashir Assad, to survive attacks by rebels backed by the US.

Putin’s influence has also  been confirmed by none other than the United States Central Intelligence Agency which admitted, in anonymous leaks to Washington Post, that the Russian secret services are behind the hacking of the email accounts that saw a flood of material posted on Wikileaks. This is believed to have cost Hilary Clinton the US presidency.

After years of being held at a distance by US President Barack Obama, the Russian President is now in a position to have a kind of an ally in the White House, someone with whom he shares similar values.

Rotimi Akeredolu: For his victory in Ondo governorship poll
On November 27, 2016, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) was declared winner of the Ondo State governorship election. That was his second shot at the topmost political office in the state. In 2011, Akeredolu had vied for the same office on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In that election, he came third losing to Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the Labour Party candidate, who won the election and Peoples Democratic Party’s Olusola Oke, who came second.

His victory in last November election came against all odds. He had won the ticket of his party, All Progressive Party, in a keenly contested, though controversial primary, defeating other contestants including, Oke, one of his major opponents in 2011 race, and Olusegun Abraham supported by APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
His emergence as governor-elect after defeating  PDP’s Eyitayo Jegede backed by Governor Mimiko, and  Oke, believed to have the strong backing of Tinubu qualifies him as one of the winners in 2016.

Ambode: For leading Lagos into the list of oil producing states through Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company exploration in Aje field
Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos sSate is a happy governor, and the reason is not far-fetched – History was made earlier in 2016 when production of crude oil, which was discovered in Lagos in Aje field located in the Oil Mining Lease  (OML) 113, began. This has effectively placed Lagos in the league of oil-producing states in Nigeria.

The  feat was recorded after 25 years by Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited (YFP), a wholly-owned indigenous firm and operator of the OML 113 offshore Lagos. Other partners are New Age Exploration Nigeria Limited, EER (Colobus) Nigeria Limited, Pan Petroleum (Panoro Energy) Aje Limited and PR Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited.
Aje is an offshore field located in OML 113 in the western part of Nigeria in the Dahomey Basin. The field is situated in water depths ranging from 100 to 1,000 metres about 24 km from the coast. The Aje field contains hydrocarbon resources in sandstone reservoirs in three main levels – a Turonian gas condensate reservoir, a Cenomanian oil reservoir and an Albian gas condensate reservoir.

Dream Team VI and Falcons: For winning laurels for the country
The past year was one with ups and downs for Nigerian football. While the senior national team, the Super Eagles, failed to qualify for the 2017African Cup of Nations, their female counterparts and the U23 team that represented the country at the Olympics put smiles on the faces of Nigerians. This was despite many challenges at administrative levels.

At the Rio Olympics in Brazil, the Nigerian football team christened Dream Team VI won a bronze medal. Finishing third behind hosts Brazil and football powerhouse Germany is a commendable feat under any circumstance. However, the fact that there were institutional stumbling blocks like owed allowances and bonuses makes the medal – the only one won by Team Nigeria at the Olympics – a laudable feat.

It was a similar story with the Falcons, who confirmed their dominance on the African continent with an eight win out of ten. However the Falcons had to follow up winning on the pitch to also coming out on top off it, after they had to stage a sit-in and a protest in Abuja before getting any reward out of the sports ministry and Federal Government.

Wizkid: For his Grammy nomination and rising profile in global music
2016 was definitely a good year for the Starboy. Not only did he glitter in major international collaborations like in Canadian singer,  Drake’s global hit ‘One Dance’,  British-Nigerian rapper, Tinie Tempah’s ‘Mamacita’, and Roc Nation’s Justine Skye’s ‘U Don’t Know’, he also scooped many awards. He won  the award for ‘Artiste of the Year’, Best Male Artiste and Best Collaboration at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards; Best Worldwide Act at the 2016  MTV EMAs; Artiste of the Year at the 2016 Headies; African Artiste of the Year and Best Male Artiste at the 2016 Soundcity MVP Awards; Artiste of  the Year at All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA),  among others. His collaboration hit with Drake ‘One Dance’ also got a Grammy nomination.

Tiwa Savage: Remains unscathed despite a scandalous marital feud
Despite the ugly marital incident with former husband Tunji Balogun (Tee Billz)  that nearly marred her image and career, the Mavin Crew singer still made waves in the music industry. She signed a management and publishing deal with Jay Z’s record label, Roc Nation in June 2016.  Her single ‘If I start to talk’ which featured label mate Dr. Sid was one of the top songs of 2016. Although she was spotted recently with her husband at the engagement party of former MTV Base VJ, Stephanie Coker, there are still doubts of reconciliation between the couple.

Bob Dylan: For winning Nobel Prize in Literature
When Bob Dylan was declared as the recipient of Nobel Prize in Literature 2016, it was a defining moment in art. The global understanding of literature was broadened for the award was conferred on Dylan for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.

Dotun Olakunrin and Bolanle Austen Peters: For their successful movie on the Ebola plague
For years, the Founder, Terra Kulture, Bolanle Austen Peters has been a giver to the art community in Nigeria.  But in 2016, she won admiration and recognition in equal measures as her production company made a debut in West London with the critically acclaimed “Wakaa the Musical’’. While the heat of the drama is on, Dotun Olakunrin and Bolanle Austen Peters’ first feature film, “93 Days’’ became one of the most sought-after Nigerian films at the cinemas for its subject matter on Ebola Viral Disease, which is a global health concern.

Tokini Peterside: For thinking out of the box through art
The founder, ART X, Tokini Peterside, is a leader in 2016 for conceiving and actualizing the idea of an international art fair in Africa’s most populous city. The turnout was huge, bridging gap between creatives across Africa and art collectors in Nigeria. And there’s no gainsaying that the experience is one that should be a tradition in Nigerian cultural sector.

Bukola Saraki: Despite prosecution and persecution at the beginning of the year, he is standing tall at the end of the year
Senate President Bukola Saraki started the year  fighting the political battle of his life. Despite prosecution and persecution at the beginning of the year, he is standing tall at the end of the year. Saraki was charged with irregularities regarding his assets declaration while he served as governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011. The trial has faced many controversies, including allegations that Saraki is being persecuted for emerging senate president against the wish of the leadership of his party, APC.

The federal government had last October 6 stopped a second case against Saraki. The government withdrew the charges of criminal conspiracy bordering on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015, to facilitate their elections as principal officers, filed against Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu at the Abuja High Court. There are views that the assets declaration case may be dropped just like the forgery case following the rapprochement between the presidency and the Senate.

Tukur Buratai: For leading the victory against Boko Haram
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai,  is in the forefront fighting the war against Boko Haram and he is winning. He is also ensuring that the violent agitations by militants in the Niger Delta and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are put under control.
With the crushing of Boko Haram, the takeover of the Sambisa Forest by the soldiers led by Buratai  as chief of army staff, the years of wanton destruction of lives and properties in the North east is coming to an end.

Atiku Abubakar Bagudu: Setting the pace in Rice Production
Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, has set the pace in how to diversify the economy by embracing agriculture with  particular focus on rice production.
The 55-year-old economist who was elected Senator for the Kebbi Central constituency of Kebbi State, Nigeria in a by-election after Senator Adamu Aliero was appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory in December 2008, became the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, won the election and assumed power on May 29, 2015.

His focus on rice production gave birth to the strategic partnership between Lagos and Kebbi  in Rice production. The output of the strategic partnership, christened ‘Lake Rice’, has led to a huge reduction in the price of rice and drew widespread commendation from Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari.

***** The Losers *****
Ibrahim Magu: DSS indictment and senate rejection has robbed him of legitimacy as an authentic anti-corruption Czar
An Assistant Commissioner of Police, Magu was appointed acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in November 2015. He is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption and a former Head of the Economic Governance Unit of EFCC. Magu has been involved in many controversies since he succeeded Ibrahim Lamorde as EFCC chairman. The peak seemed to be his recent rejection by the Senate several months after his name was sent to the upper chamber by Buhari for confirmation as substantive head of the anti-graft agency.

His rejection by the Senate was based on a security report submitted by the Department of State Service which indicted him for corruption and living a double life. Magu was, reportedly, queried by the federal government based on some of the allegations raised against him by the Senate. Though, he started well, the DSS indictment and senate rejection of his nomination has robbed him of legitimacy to continue to hold office and prosecute anti-corruption war.

Bola Tinubu: For failing to achieve his political goal in Ondo governorship poll
The APC national leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was about the most visible and prominent player in the opposition camp as they tried to turn the corner in opposition politics. Tinubu put in so much energy and resources to the making of Nigeria’s first successful merger of existing political parties, APC, which after the 2015 general election, placed the country on the path of unprecedented political transition.

But APC’s victory seemed to prove a defeat for Tinubu’s political influence. Despite his huge political stature and the part he played in the election victories of many politicians, especially in the South-west, he is said to hardly have a successful nomination in Buhari’s cabinet. The last governorship election in Ondo State marked the unfortunate culmination of the harm to Tinubu’s politics. His nominee at the primaries, Olusegun Abraham, lost. And in a seeming bid to amend the loss, Tinubu’s supporters were said to have backed Wole Oke, who had lost the APC primary but contested the governorship election on the platform of Alliance for Democracy. But Oke also lost.

Babachir Lawal: Entangled in a web of bribery allegations
Babachir Lawal was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation by Buhari on August 27, 2015. He was recently immersed in a scandal following the involvement of his company in alleged fraudulent contracts in the North-east reconstruction effort. Lawal has also been accused of diversion of funds meant for internally displaced persons in the North-east. He has denied the allegations. But the Senate has said he should resign or be sacked by Buhari.  The president has directed the Attorney General to investigate the allegations.

Patience Jonathan: Fighting for her money
The wife of the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, is really fighting the battle of her life. She has been accused of dishonest financial dealings during the tenure of her husband. The former first lady had owned  up to being the owner of huge funds traced to some accounts that were frozen  by EFCC. She is currently fighting to regain her accounts and avoid prosecution.

The Naira: In a Free-fall
The naira, in 2016, took a serious bashing, depreciating against the United States dollar to a level never achieved before.  The national currency, which exchanged for N305 per dollar at the official market weekend was sold for N490 at the parallel market. The foreign exchange challenge, which was brought forward from 2015, characterised  the economy last year. The demand for the greenback became so strong that it continued to shoot up the exchange rate against the naira, maintaining the rising streak for many weeks. For instance, on a day in the last week of January, the dollar scarcity, which became intensive  in the forex market,  caused the naira to depreciate by N4 per dollar to N303 per dollar from N299 per dollar.

That was the period the supply end of the market was controlled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The CBN had  for 16 months controlled the naira, pegging it at N197 to the dollar, even though the dollar exchanged for over N350 in the parallel market. After the introduction of flexible exchange rate regime, which allows the exchange rate to be determined by supply and demand, the  naira continued  its free fall at both the interbank and the bureau de change markets. While the banking regulator  implemented a flexible exchange rate policy, it still intervened in the market from time to time.

The Economy: For plunging into recession
In 2016, the economy defied all efforts to keep it afloat and plunged into recession after contracting for two consecutive quarters within the year. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the economy which recorded a negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 0.36 per cent in the first quarter of the year, contracted by 2.06 per cent in the second quarter. The economy worsened in the third quarter recording a negative GDP growth of 2.26 per cent.

The ensuing harrowing experience by Nigerians was better imagined as the ripple effect of the downturn cut across all facets of the economy. From the banking sector to the manufacturing sector, it translated to huge loss of jobs as companies and institutions  in different sectors had their capacities to operate efficiently significantly reduced. As it were, the managers of the economy appeared to have no clue on the solutions to the quagmire as major indices continued to falter. The consumer price index, which gauges inflation, opened the year with 9.62 per cent,  and shot up to 18.48 per cent in November. The unabatedly rising inflation has eroded the value of the naira and significantly reduced the purchasing power of consumers.

Tunji Balogun: For Engaging in a marital feud that cost him everything
2016 was a year that the former manager and husband of singer Tiwa Savage decided to hang his dirty linens outside. He went on a suicidal rant in a series of Instagram posts that drew the attention and intervention of friends and loved ones to prevent further damage. The outcome of his outbursts was a dirty revelation of his wife’s infidelity. Expectedly, he made major headlines, particularly when his wife exposed his drug addiction and lavish lifestyle to the public. While Savage continued to shine in the spotlight, Tee Billz is yet to win the spot in the limelight.

Hilary Clinton: For losing an election which she was projected to win
To the disappointment of the nearly 66 million people who cast their ballots for the US Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, her stunning and unexpected loss to Donald Trump makes her one of the biggest losers of 2016. Only a handful of political and media experts predicted that Clinton would lose to Trump, and most who did were ignored or scoffed at. Clinton managed to score a popular vote victory, winning nearly 3 million more votes than the president-elect, but lost a series of key states including Wisconsin and Michigan. This is despite the fact that she has had a career serving as senator and Secretary of State, and was a former first lady. This combined with the fact she was the candidate f the Washington establishment and raised record amounts of money for her campaign. Since losing the election and making her public concession speech, Clinton has been relatively quiet, making only a handful of public appearances and making few comments on the race.

Yahya Jammeh: For losing election and refusing to concede defeat
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, is certainly one of the losers of 2016 after a shock defeat in the Gambian elections last month. To make matters worse, he rejected the results of the election after initially conceding defeat. His decision has been condemned within his country, the sub-region the African continent and the world at large.  But despite all entreaties, especially from fellow African leaders, Jammeh has turned a deaf ear to the will of the majority. This has increased the possibility of him being removed by force. His travails will continue and he might end up like former Ivorian leader, Laurent Gbagbo, who also refused to accept the results of an election that he lost, but was subsequently forcibly removed from office by external forces and charged to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

David Cameron: For gambling with his political career
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron gambled his political career on Brexit’s failure and lost in a major way the first stunning election of 2016 as the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. Cameron had been a member of parliament for 15 years and served as prime minister for six years. He scheduled the country’s referendum on whether or not to remain in the EU, and campaigned staunchly in favor of remaining, only to lose. He then resigned a few weeks later, initially planning to remain in the parliament in a lesser role, before deciding to leave Parliament entirely in September.

Solomon Dalung: For his many gaffes and perceived poor performance
There is near-unanimity of opinion about Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung. At the end of last year, he was the butt of jokes over his use of the non-word “Spended”. But that has been the least of his problems, as he had spent the year stumbling from one gaffe to another.

Dalung’s tenure as Sports minister has been beset by controversies, with the most prominent ones being those concerning the Olympic team to Brazil and the debacle that followed the Falcons victory at the African Women Championships. In spite of the Sports ministry failure to pay the team’s allowances during their camping, they prevailed, in continuation of a tradition. Surprisingly though, Dalung was quoted as saying that he never expected to win, thus their was no provision for a reward package. The Falcons were eventually paid but shortchanged. The Dream Team also faced similar treatment in the build-up to the Olympic Games where they won Bronze in spite of the ministry headed by Dalung. Days before the competition, Dalung claimed he had no knowledge where the team was camping. Dalung has demonstrated that he is not only ineffectual on the job but that he is also detrimental to Nigerian sports, leading many to believe he is among the minsters to be done away in an imminent cabinet reshuffle.

Matteo Renzi: For staking his political career on referendum
Another European Prime Minister whose tenure was cut short after losing a referendum is Matteo Renzi of Italy. Renzi suffered a heavy defeat in a key referendum on constitutional reform. Renzi had staked his future on a “Yes” vote, vowing to resign if voters rejected his plans to reduce the role of the country’s Senate and take back powers from regional authorities.

Abdulmumin Jibrin: Blowing the whistle the wrong way

Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin would be remembered for sparking  off controversy over budget padding by the National Assembly. He accused the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and  three principal officers of ‘padding’ the 2016 budget after he was removed as the chairman, House Committee on Appropriation. Jibrin, who called for the resignation and the three principal officers, was found out to be at the centre of the budget padding, which he accused his colleagues of.  He was in fact discovered to have padded the budget of his constituency. Jubrin was later suspended for 180 legislative days and went into exile, claiming threats to his life. But Jibrin, who returned only few days ago, claimed he came  back to assist anti-corruption agencies in their investigations of the budget ‘padding’ scandal.