2017 The Shape Of Things To Come

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Heralded by colourful display of fireworks and messages of hope from leaders around the world, 2017 looks set to be an eventful year. Some issues and events were set in motion in the outgone year and will climax this new year – both in Nigeria and around the world – thereby providing a safe forecast of the shape of things to come. Also, within the 365 days that make up 2017, new paths would be charted with unpredictable outcomes. However, some personalities, issues and events are already primed to shape 2017

The Year That’ll Herald 2019

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has already homed in on returning to power in 2019 as its next major pursuit, signalling a pivot on which political battles would revolve in 2017

PDP has been enmeshed in internal dissension since the last four years. The PDP crisis worsened on August 31, 2013, when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar staged a walkout with seven governors and other chieftains in protest at alleged exclusion during the party’s special delegates’ convention in Abuja. It reached a crescendo in 2015, when PDP lost the last general election and was forced into the role of opposition after 16 years in power.

But PDP breathed a sigh of relief following the November 22 ruling by the Court of Appeal, which recognised the candidate of the mainstream faction as the authentic nominee for the Ondo State governorship election. This effectively ended the party’s factionalisation, at least in the eyes of the law. Now the party is plotting a new route back to power, and this would involve a lot of battles that look certain to shape politics in the New Year. Chairman of the PDP caretaker committee, Ahmed Makarfi, said regarding defections from the party, in a recent interview, “It is the movement in 2018 that will bother me.”

The 2018 movements will be determined by this year’s happenings, making 2017 a crucial year for 2019 politics. But whatever 2017 holds in store will be based largely on what 2016 had thrown up.
Below are some of the issues thrown up by 2016, which are expected to shape politics in 2017.

2017 Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2017 budget of N7.298 trillion to the National Assembly on December 14. The two chambers of the federal legislature are expected to separately debate the Appropriation Bill when they resume from the Yuletide holiday this month. With some legislators already expressing reservations about the budget on which the ruling All Progressives Congress pins its hope of pulling the country out of recession, a potentially explosive discussion is expected on the budget.

PDP Crisis

Following its recent successes at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, the Makarfi leadership of the PDP has expelled some key members of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction, in what seems to be an aggravation of the leadership crisis in the party. The national secretary of the Sheriff-led executive, Professor Wale Oladipo, and the chairman of a faction sympathetic to it in Osun State, Soji Adagunodo, were recently expelled by the state’s chapter of PDP. Though, an appeal against the November 22 judgement of the Court of Appeal, which recognised the Makarfi leadership as the authentic sponsor of the PDP candidate for the Ondo election, is still pending at the Supreme Court. It is also widely suspected that the Makarfi group is waiting for the right time to expel Sheriff. These expulsions look set to trigger further disagreements and destabilisation, which may complicate reconciliation efforts in PDP and weaken it even more

APC Squabbles

The rows in the ruling APC, which have been largely hushed, are expected to become louder and more pronounced as the country moves towards 2019. Various political interests in the party would become more forceful in the declaration of their ambitions, triggering more disagreements, new alignments and realignments. And with the seeming isolation of key party leaders by Buhari, he would be hard-pressed to hold the party together as a united front in future political activities.

Cabinet Reshuffle

Buhari will likely reshuffle the cabinet this year and change some of his ministers. The change would probably be aimed largely at bringing about a rapprochement with important leaders of the party, particularly, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who have felt alienated. Tinubu has been the target of an elaborate influence cutting scheme coordinated from the very top and implemented by his erstwhile loyalists since the inauguration of Buhari as president in 2015. The issues went into an open quarrel during the party’s governorship primary in September ahead of the November 26 election in Ondo State. Tinubu, who is obviously the leader of APC in the South-west, alleged attempts to frustrate his favourite aspirant by the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, with support from Abuja. The attempt to create alternative power centres in the South-west would continue, but Buhari would be under pressure to make up for his seeming hostility towards Tinubu and other leaders of APC.

Buhari Second Term

The president has not declared an intention to seek another term, but it could be read from the utterances of his close allies and his own body language that he is not eager to leave in 2019. This would be a critical issue for politics this year, as groups and individuals seek to advance or hinder his attempt to have another term.

Atiku

The former vice president is suspected to be nursing a presidential ambition ahead of 2019. The alleged ambition has put him at loggerheads with some persons in the party who are equally perceived to be eyeing Aso Rock, like Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai. Atiku’s recent pronouncements in support of restructuring of the federation towards fiscal autonomy for the federating units, which is obviously unpopular with Buhari, is seen in some quarters as part of the attempts to assert himself ahead of 2019. Though popular with most Nigerians, the idea of restructuring has been scoffed at by Buhari and many northern politicians. The disagreements would continue and even heighten this year as Atiku seeks to align with more progressive minds in the party.

New Party Rumours

There would likely be a lot of frantic behind-the-scenes negotiation across party lines towards the emergence of a major political party that would accommodate aggrieved members of APC and PDP. Speculations about the new party have been on for some time, but this year may see greater activity towards its actualisation.

Saraki Trial

The Code of Conduct Tribunal would be expected to deliver judgement in the case against Senate President Bukola Saraki. Saraki is 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.

Boko Haram War

The Nigerian Armed Forces have taken the last stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorist sect at the Sambisa forest, in Borno State, but the government says the antiterrorism war is not over yet. The government will be alert to the possibility of Boko Haram attacks on soft targets and attempts by the sect to regroup in, especially, the remote border areas.

Justice Walter Onnoghen’s Confirmation as CJN

Justice Walter Onnoghen, being the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, has served as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria since November 10, following Justice Mahmud Mohammed’s retirement after attaining the statutory age of 70. But Buhari’s delay in sending the name of the Cross River-born Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation has raised concerns. There is a point in worrying over the fate of Onnoghen. He would be the first southerner to occupy the post of CJN in nearly 30 years, after Justice Ayo Irikefe, who occupied the office between 1985 and 1987. The anxiety about the substantive CJN is set to intensify and may not die down until the next occupier of the office is confirmed by the Senate. There is an age-long tradition of making the most senior justice of the apex court CJN after recommendation by the National Judicial Council. Though, under the law, the president is neither bound by this tradition nor the recommendation of the NJC.

A New Lease of Life
for the Economy?
After going through the most challenging times, the worst being in 2016, the economy, this year, is expected to receive new lease of life, going by the projection of experts, reports Kunle Aderinokun
2017 comes with renewed hopes and aspirations. The hope that aspirations would be better realised than the previous year. While hope may wane, it’s the human perseverance and faith that keep hope alive even when the economy gets to its nadir and the outlook appears bleak. That was why when, in the outgone year, the economy faced serious challenges and eventually plummeted into recession and sank deeper, Nigerians were full of hope that things could only get better.

Nevertheless, how the economy would fare this year is not dependent on hope but the ingenuity of its managers. It behoves on the monetary and fiscal authorities to implement the right mix of policies that would set it on the path of recovery and stability. Although, the federal government has rolled out a 10-point roadmap, it is yet to be ascertained if the policy is the one that would lift the economy out of recession hitting Nigerians very hard.

While the data for the fourth quarter of 2016 gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate is yet to be released by National Bureau of Statistics, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had, in its World Economic Outlook, projected that, the Nigerian economy would close the year with a negative economic growth of 1.7 per cent. It has therefore projected that the economy would expand by 0.6 per cent this year, which is 0.5 percentage points lower than the 1.1 per cent it earlier predicted and later also reviewed downward from 3.5 per cent.

The IMF had pointed out that Nigeria alongside South Africa and Angola, the largest economies in Africa, were experiencing sharp slowdowns or recessions as lower commodity prices interacted with difficult domestic political and economic conditions. However, painting a bright outlook the fund is optimistic that recovery is projected to pick up in 2017 as the outlook improves for Nigeria and other emerging market and developing economies and the United States economy “regains some momentum, with a fading drag from inventories and a recovery in investment.”

Also, in his analysis, Senior Economist, Africa and the Middle East, Bloomberg Intelligence, Mark Bohlund, is optimistic that increased oil production, which should help to ease the forex squeeze, and indications of acceleration in agricultural growth means that the outlook for 2017 is not altogether bleak.
Bohlund, however, added that, “The debacle with the medium-term economic framework and continued strains in the banking sector indicate some of the challenges that the economic policymakers face next year.”

According to him, “While funds from the African Development Bank and a potential Eurobond issue will help, government spending will not give much of a boost to economic growth if it is not able to do anything more fundamental issues as the continued shortage of forex, due to new Naira peg being too high, and lack of electricity.

“Obviously, the former will be easier (by letting the market determine the exchange rate) to fix than the latter but the government will need to make progress on both for investors not to opt to wait for a new administration in 2019. Nigeria should be able to grow 2-3 per cent next year but a weaker Naira and high inflation will likely make it feel like a continued economic recession for many.”

Similarly, Managing Director and Chief Economist, Global Research Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Razia Khan, who presented the bank’s position on the economy, noted that the Nigerian economy would grow by 2.8 per cent this year.

Khan expects the economy to close 2016 with a contraction of 1.7 per cent. According to her, “With no evidence of improved FX liquidity, and the FX shortage still one of the key constraints on activity in Nigeria, we now expect negative growth to persist in Q4-2016.”

“Consequently, we lower our 2016 GDP forecast to -1.7per cent y/y (0.4per cent prior). We raise our real GDP growth forecast for 2017, but only on a weaker base,” she noted, suggesting that,” Important reforms, not least those centred on Nigeria’s FX market, are required to unlock faster and more sustained economic growth, in our view.”
Khan lamented that, “Despite the challenge posed by weaker oil earnings, Nigeria’s record on economic reform to date has disappointed.”

In the same vein, Moody’s Investors Service forecast a ‘subdued’ growth of 2.5 per cent for the economy this year, but expected stagnation in real GDP for 2016.
According Moody’s, “While Nigeria’s government should comfortably meet its financing gap over the next 12-18 months, increasing liquidity pressures, rising inflation and stagnant growth pose key challenges.”

It noted that, “The Government of Nigeria (B1 stable) continues to face low oil prices, volatile oil production, a spike in inflation that has eroded purchasing power, foreign exchange scarcity and an economy that has entered technical recession. Moody’s projects stagnation in real GDP in 2016 and only subdued growth at 2.5 per cent in 2017.”

VP-Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s, Aurelien Mali, who said, “We expect that Nigeria will contain pressures on its public finances in the short term, however, expressed “greater doubt about the severity of the impact of these challenges, particularly on government liquidity and economic growth, over the medium term.”

Overall, Moody’s views the recent devaluation of the naira as credit positive. “The new system should enable the naira to better absorb external shocks over time, and dollar availability should gradually increase. Moreover, the fiscal benefit of the depreciation and the current oil price (which is above the budgeted oil price) exceeds the loss in oil output,” it noted.

However, while saying the depreciation implies a material loss in purchasing power given import-price inflation, Moody’s “expects inflation to accelerate to 18per cent by year’s end, before falling to an average of 12.5per cent in 2017 (based on the recent 2 percentage point hike in the central bank’s policy rate to 14per cent).”
Besides, the rating agency expects that the depreciation will increase Nigeria’s external debt marginally to 5.2 per cent of GDP by end-2016 from 3.3 per cent in 2015.

Moody’s fiscal outlook for Nigeria’s general government’s fiscal position has not materially changed since April. The rating agency expects it to remain in deficit at around 3.7 per cent of GDP in 2016, after posting a 3.8 per cent deficit in 2015.

States and local governments will benefit from the naira depreciation, offsetting the negative impact on oil production from the recent attacks in the Niger Delta. Moody’s expects authorities to reduce spending if revenues underperform.

Meanwhile, Moody’s predicted a stable outlook for the Nigerian banking system in 2017, reflecting its banks’ stable deposit funding bases, high local currency liquidity, resilient capital buffers and likely support from the authorities in case of need.
However, while the operating environment will gradually stabilise, conditions will remain challenging, with high inflation, reduced capital inflows and deficiencies in foreign exchange markets continuing to restrict the operations of Nigeria’s import dependent economy, noted Moody’s.

Moody’s disclosed its projections in its report titled: “Banking System Outlook — Nigeria: Foreign Currency Pressures and Asset Risks Will Stabilise over Our Outlook Period.”

The rating agency’s Vice President — Senior Analyst and the report’s co-author, Akin Majekodunmi, noted: “While we foresee continued loan quality and foreign currency liquidity challenges for Nigeria’s banks over the coming months, we expect these challenges to gradually ease over the second half of our outlook period, in line with our expectations of a gradual recovery in economic activity.”

Moody’s expects the banking system’s non-performing loans (NPL) ratio to deteriorate over the next 12 months to between 12 per cent and 14 per cent, from 11.7 per cent at the end of June 2016.

As NPLs are a lagging indicator, the ratings agency expects continued upward pressure on NPL metrics in the near-term. However, write-offs and loan restructurings, as well as higher GDP growth projections for 2017 and 2018, will moderate the pressure on NPLs, it pointed out.
Besides, Moody’s predicted that, “The banks’ high exposure to the oil and gas sector – estimated at 29 per cent of the aggregate loan book as of June 2016 — will remain one of the main sources of asset risk, along with foreign currency loans and import-dependent borrowers’ vulnerability to naira exchange rate movements.”

Noting that, “High provisioning requirements will weaken bottom-line profitability, although pre-provision profitability will remain strong,” Moody’s projects “real lending growth of 5-10 per cent compared to 2016’s contraction of 5 per cent.”

Also as part of its projection, Moody’s expects “system-wide tangible common equity (TCE) to decline slightly to 13.2 per cent of adjusted risk-weighted assets by year-end 2017 from 14.6 per cent at the end of June 2016, primarily due to increased loan loss provisions and the effect of naira depreciation on the balance of risk weighted assets denominated in foreign currency.”

However, the agency added that, “Nigerian banks’ capital metrics will remain in line with similarly-rated African peers and will be sufficient to absorb losses under Moody’s baseline scenario.

However, the Chief Executive Officer, The TFG Advisory, Adetilewa Adebajo, posited that the economy would still be in the negative growth territory five months from now when President Muhammadu Buhari would be giving account of his stewardship at mid-term.

According to him, “While the president has achieved success with the security issues in the Northeast of Nigeria another front has opened up in the Niger Delta. This conflict has had a direct impact on the economy, with a 50% reduction in revenues and a negotiated settlement remains the only viable option to ensure economic recovery going forward in 2017.

“The president has also been active with his anti-corruption drive which he needs to sustain and eventually secure convictions. No sector of the economy including the judiciary has been spared. However, going forward in 2017, prosecutors need to simplify the chargers and reduce the number of counts to ensure successful convictions.”

Besides, Adebajo noted that, “The single treasury account has been a master stroke and exposed the soft underbelly of the Nigerian Banks, who according to a recent IMF publication enjoy one of the largest lending to deposit rate spread in the world, by a wide margin.”

“Nigerian Banks Enjoy over 25 per cent basis point spread compared to under 5 per cent for G20 countries and under 10 per cent for BRICS and Sub Saharan Africa Frontier Markets. Despite this, the stability of the Nigerian financial system will be called into question in 2017, as banks struggle with non-performing loan portfolios in an environment of high interest rates and dollar shortages. The unsustainable dependence on FX revaluation for revenues and inability to develop a viable bid and offer FX market are challenges the banks will have to address in 2017,” he argued.

The economist, which also noted that, “The Achilles heel of this administration has been its inability to inspire confidence with the management of the economy and lack of coordination between fiscal and monetary policy,” contended that, “The management of the FX system in particular and pronouncements on monetary policy has led to both foreign direct and portfolio investors to flee and local investors and businesses to retract into their shell.”

On the way forward, Adebajo suggested that, while the economy wallows in recession and there is still momentum on the downward trajectory of growth, it is important that the government takes step in 2017 to restore confidence to the economy, financial markets, corporates, foreign and local investors.

According to him, “The recent agenda of the Finance Minister and the anticipated Economic Recovery Road Map are welcome developments. However the quick passage of the budget and serious action on the harmonization of monetary and fiscal policy, including getting the FX system right, will speak louder and restore confidence to the economy than any document.

“While we face challenges to restore growth in 2017, government needs to be focused and consistent with its policies, especially with the backward integration and import substitution strategy, which has seen a sustained and consistent 4.5 per cent growth in the Agribusiness sector of the economy. While there will be challenges going forward in 2016, it’s important to accept that this recession was self-inflicted and man-made. The man made solutions are also available with the implementation of the right economic policy choices.”

Also, the Macroeconomic & Fixed Income Research Analyst at FBN Capital, Chinwe Egwim, who noted that, “The FGN maintains its expansionary budget policy to drive the economy out of recession,” however, pointed out that, “there is still a possibility that the government will struggle to fund the budget given oil production constraints, as well as bottlenecks associated with non-oil revenue collection.”

According to her, “The general expectation is a token recovery in growth for next year. Restoring stability in the Niger-Delta region which should increase oil production would serve as a key factor. Furthermore, the FGN’s efforts in restructuring the economy as well as full implementation policies introduced in 2016 should have a positive impact on diversifying the economy and boosting growth.”

“Given that the month-on-month increases in the headline inflation have slowed markedly over the past six months due to squeezed household demand, there is also the possibility of headline inflation eventually declining to low- double digits in 2017.
“As for the exchange rate, there is still strong interest in Nigeria but portfolio investors remain on the side lines with the expectation of a fully liberialised exchange rate policy. If this comes to play, the possibility of increased inflows from portfolio investors is there. Thus, easing pressure on fx sourcing,” Egwim added.

Great Expectations in 2017
W ith nose stuck in current happenings, intent eyes on antecedents and ears glued to reliable sources, Yinka Olatunbosun gives a forecast of the Nigerian art and culture sphere in 2017
In brief, expect the unexpected. Last year, we had a lot of fun on stage, screen, public places and some adventure on the pages of new books by Nigerian authors. The year 2017 promises a lot more and you can take this forecast to the bank.

Perhaps, one of the most exciting news will come from the Grammy Awards 2017 where Nigeria’s Wizkid is co-nominated with Drake and Beyonce’s “Lemonade” holds the highest nominations. Experience has taught music fans to keep an open-mind to such sweeping nominations because the pendulum usually swings both ways, that is, Beyonce can win in most of the categories or lose to other strong contenders such as Drake, Adele, and Rihanna. Meanwhile, the thematic cohesion of the songs in the Lemonade album is almost unprecedented and the video artistry is awe-inspiring. This reporter thinks that Beyonce is very likely to go home with Album of the year as well as Music Video of the year and that means Wizkid and Drake need one year (not one dance) to win in the former category.

Top of our expectations in the second quarter of the year is the arrival of Kakadu the Musical in South Africa. It’s not the first international tour for the musical, having been in Davos, Switzerland but this is remarkable because it is the first time that a Nigerian theatre production team would be invited for the Africa Day celebrations at the Nelson Mandela Theatre. In addition, the Kakadu team will experience a collaborative workshop with their South African counterparts. It will be massive as the Nigerian theatre production team would enjoy a whole new experience especially on the technical aspect of theatre.

For Bolanle Austen-Peters Production (BAP) and Terra Kulture, the dream of a first class creative arena hall with 500 seating capacity will come true. As you read this, construction workers are working assiduously to complete the Victoria-Island structure that will replace the existing building which has been the hub of many artists. Though the usual Christmas production didn’t happen this year, the facility is occupied by actors who are rehearsing on a regular basis.

Also, BAP production is working towards another musical in March. And for the screen, another ground breaking feature film is in the pipeline. It would be recalled that BAP produced “93days”, a cinematic success and had been screened at major international films festivals. For the visual arts, Terra Kulture will stay true to its annual art auction in March. It is also expected that BAP will tour the UK with another Nigerian play following the success of “Wakaa the musical” in the previous year.

Next, grab your dancing shoes. 2017 is a very special year for Spirit of David (SOD) as it marks 20 years. The whole year is full of incredible shows, programmes and activities in all SOD branches around the world aimed at reigniting our passion at inspiring a generation through dance.

The Second World Festival of Black Arts popularly called FESTAC will be remembered by the arts community. After four decades, Africa is yet to experience such mega month-long cultural jamboree that featured over 17,000 participants from no fewer than 50 countries. Although critics of this festival have blamed it for Nigeria’s financial meltdown, remembering this festival will rejuvenate the spirit of cultural appreciation, unity and well-placed racial pride.

For British Council, the Lagos Theatre Festival 2017 will last six days at 20 venues with at least 500 participating artists. The 2017 edition will have curated and fringe strands. The fringe is an open access festival for all genres in the performing arts namely, small theatre, children’s theatre, dance, film, spoken word, comedy, puppetry, cabaret, music and interdisciplinary arts. It is designed to allow performers/companies not participating in the curated festival an opportunity to present work for viewing, an excellent avenue to get involved in the Festival program, try out ideas and receive audience and delegate feedback but will be included in all promotional campaigns for the festival and in some cases will be programmed at venues.

The year will also witness a lot of collaborations. For instance, Goethe-Institut is collaborating with Book Buzz Foundation to facilitate a four-day workshop which will take place between 4 and 7 January 2017 at the Goethe Institut, Lagos. 14 artists, cartoonists and illustrators will be selected and invited to contribute to a collection of ‘graphic short stories’ tentatively titled ‘Life in a Big City’. Working in individual styles, each graphic short story is expected to capture the essence of living in, loving and loathing a big Nigerian city.
Word from the German cultural centre is that there will also be an electric music concert as well as children’s theatre performance during the year.

For the Social Scene, A Forecast
Aforecast may not always hit the bull’s eye, but a guided study of track record gives a good clue which very often brings home a good dose of expectation. Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha take a calculated look at the shape of things to come in 2017.

Made by Design
Exquisite, beautiful, excellent: These are some of the words with which many of the visitors at Nigeria’s premier luxury homes and hospitality exhibition, Made by Design, captured their experience. The event is designed to provide beneficial collaboration and networking experience among key players in the luxury home and hospitality market, providing choice collection of luxury products, services and experiences for the most discerning clientele. The 2017 edition holds bigger promises as more participants take advantage of the robust platform created by THISDAY Home+ Design in collaboration with Essential Interiors Magazine.

Yibo Koko
With his latest flick, ‘Three Tramps and The Law’, the prolific comedian-cum-filmmaker hopes to consolidate the increasing propensity for comedians to go into film making. Set in the beautiful city of Port Harcourt, ‘Three Tramps and The Law’ spins a story round four strangers whose quests for wealth crack the veneers of greed, lies and deceit that lie in them. It will be a prelude to ‘The Rising Son’, a production entrusted by the late Amaka Igwe to Yibo for artistic direction.

BHM
The PR firm marked its 10th anniversary last year with a list of achievements including being the only Nigerian agency verified on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with 100,000 cumulative followers and signing up with a global organisation and one of the big four consulting firms in the world, Deloitte, to handle its audit and tax activities. Its founder Ayeni Adekunle plans to open more offices across the African continent this year.

Lagos @ 50:
Celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Lagos State which began last year with a committee under the leadership of Professor Wole Soyinka reaches a climax this year with various events and activities. Some of the highlights include Isale Eko, a musical which has Joseph Edgar, Olisa Adibua and Yemi Sodimu as executive producers. The play dramatises a clash of royal interests in 14th century Lagos while throwing in the compelling angle of a love saga betweena a Bini Princess and a Lagos Prince. On the cards also is a live performance of 50 Lagos themed songs performed by the Lagos International Orchestra at the 2017 edition of the Lagos International Jazz Festival produced by Inspiro Productions.

Austin Aimankhu
For the past three years, the fashion designer has injected numerous efforts to push his fashion and art platform to greater heights. This year, and for the first time, he will be having an Abuja edition of the FashionArtFusion show. A combination of the runway, rhythm and rhymes, expectations are high that the Luzol brand owner will dazzle his audience in the capital city. This year, as well, he plans to stage a distinct runway campaign called, ‘Wear Nigeria’, while FashionArtFusion continues to run its course and hopeful debut in another African country.

Koga Studios
Since the untimely passing of the ebullient owner of Koga Studios, Chris Jeyibo, a lot of questions have been raised on the management of the entertainment outfit. His last major outing was the collaboration for the production of The Wedding Party. Will the family run the business or will they get new managers. Will his vision be kept alive in any form?

The Headies
Perhaps, The Headies witnessed its most challenging season last year, dogged with mixed reactions. Its producers, Smooth Productions may do well to live the spirit of the 2016 theme, ‘Create, Think, Re-create’. The New Year poses no less a challenge to Ayo Animashaun and his team if they hope to sustain the high rating of The Headies.

Kene Mkparu
This gentleman is on a mission to revolutionise cinemas in Nigeria. He launched a world-class cinema Filmhouse Imax last year to give moviegoers a first-class ambience with luxury facilities. Not only that, through his distribution channel FilmOne, he’s cashing in on some of the best films in Nollywood. Surely, this year will see greater milestones as movie producers up their ante.

Samuel Olatunji
It is definitely too early to describe Samuel Olatunji as a public relations guru. What is not in doubt is his enthusiasm to grow a thriving business. After resigning from paid employment as a journalist where he had nurtured valuable contacts, particularly in Nollywood, he started a modest PR consultancy which has been known by many names through the years. At the moment, it goes by the name, BBB Media. He also publishes www.braodwayafrica.com. Olatunji is in a hurry to hit the top and he is steadily inching his way towards the mark. He has acquired certification as a PR practitioner and taken a course of study at Tunde Kelani’s film school in preparation for the task ahead.

Mo’Abudu:
Last year, Mo’ Abudu made huge investments in film and TV production. ‘The Governor’, ‘Sons of the Caliphate’ and ‘The Wedding Party’ are some of the few films from the stables of the EbonyLife TV that recorded good reception as well as box office ratings. With Mo, there is always an ace up her sleeve. It would be interesting to see the fresh productions from the media entrepreneur.

Charles Arong
Brand strategist and advertising practitioner, Charles Arong who trades under the name, Alternativ Media has been cooking a revolutionary product that combines creative design, advertising and audio-visual elements. Designed to deliver top brands, products and services to discerning buyers and audiences, these multi-media vehicle will display contents that are exclusively produced for and broadcast by Alternativ Media at select outlets in Nigeria.

Rahama Sadau
Which way will her career go? Many fingers are crossed in anticipation of which direction the career of Kaduna-based actress, Rahama Sadau, will take. She was surprisingly catapulted from regional reckoning to national and even international attention after a supposed ban. Rahama is expected to reap the gains of her newfound international fame and to become more visible as a rallying point for the rights of women in northern Nigeria

Mike Dada:
President of the All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, Mike Dada may only have surprised distant watchers who are not familiar with his track record of serving and working closely with some of the famed entertainment event executive producers like Alhaji Teju Kareem of Zmirage and Ernest Adjovi of Kora Awards. Inspired by this period of service, Dada established AFRIMA and climbed several rungs up the ladder of success above his erstwhile masters by striking a thriving working relationship with the African Union. With the three successful editions in Nigeria, the awards is expected to move to another African country this year.

76
The Tonye Princewill and Adonis Production movie made a huge impact on Nollywood last year with its superb production and intriguing storyline. It also set a record as the most nominated film in the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. What other accolades will the ground breaking movie about the assassination of the former Head of State General Murtala Mohammed scoop this year?

The Unexpected: A Type of Bob Risky/Olajumoke
The Nigerian social scene has become notorious for throwing up infamous surprises. From nowhere, Okuneye Idris Olarenwaju, better known as, Bobrisky stamped his presence, largely aided by the social media and his inclination towards the rebellious-bleaching his skin, cross-dressing and creating a fog around his sexuality. No one expected the Olajumoke phenomenon, as well. An unschooled hawker of bread turned model! No doubt 2017 has its bombshell. What they are and in what form they will appear is anyone’s guess.

Brownehill Radio
Raymond Browne has paid his dues as a disc jockey on radio. In the last couple of years, he plied his trade at iGroove, Nigeria’s foremost online radio. As last year petered out, Raymond quietly exited iGroove and set up shop in the same vicinity at the Freedom Park in Central Lagos. Brownehill Radio is an African based online radio station focused on giving Indie artists around the world a platform to have their music heard.
On BrowneHill radio you can listen to all genres of music past, present and future. BrowneHill radio is a real radio alternative for people curious about ideas, issues and music.

Linda Ikeji:
Millionaire Blogger Linda Ikeji upped her game last year with the launch of her social networking site, Linda Ikeji Social, LIS. She also runs a full media outfit that comprises a blog, radio and TV station. With LIS, she had declared her preparedness to compete with Facebook. Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Anglophone West Africa was at the public presentation of LIS to underscore that Linda’s enterprise means serious business. Going by her past major editorial blunders, will LIS lead the way or will she commit another embarrassing gaffe?

The Temple Management Company
In less than one year of its establishment last year, The Temple Management Company, TMC, pulled off, arguably, the biggest, successful coup in the Nigerian entertainment industry by convincing the entire Mavins Crew led by Don Jazzy to sign up with the company. By the time the Idris Olorunnimbe-led team of managers executed the King Sunny Ade concert at Federal Palace Hotel at which one of his guitars was auctioned, no one was left in doubt that something phenomenal had begun in the Nigerian entertainment industry. In 2017, TMC is in everyone’s view. But what will they come up with next?

An Emerging New World Order
Demola Ojo
I t’s a new year, but many of the events that will shape 2017 were set in motion last year. Some are unfolding dramas with less than certain outcomes, and while new actors are bound to enter the scene and set unknown chain of events in motion, many of 2016’s personalities are bound to take centre stage – for good or ill – this year.

One of those that will certainly be the centre of attention is Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh has decided to hold on to power in Gambia, despite initially conceding defeat in last month’s election. His decision is a blight on a continent that is increasingly embracing democratic principles and seamless transition of power.

Despite all entreaties, especially from fellow African leaders, Jammeh is turning a deaf ear to the will of the majority. This has increased the possibility of him being removed by force, with Senegal (which encircles the Gambia) ready to take military action. This is an unfolding story to watch, with many predicting that the fate of former Ivorian leader, Laurent Gbagbo, will befall Jammeh.

Just like Jammeh, Gbagbo refused to accept the results of an election that he lost, but was subsequently forcibly removed from office by external forces and has been charged to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Another character that is bound to shape events this year is US President-elect Donald Trump. Trump will be sworn-in as President January 20, and considering his utterances, there will be a shake-up in how the US interacts with both allies and adversaries. Some friends will become foes and vice-versa.

For example, the relationship between the US and China has been cordial in recent times, with outgoing US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreeing that their nations’ relationship was the most important in world affairs.
However, Trump spent a lot of time during his campaign railing against China and what he perceives as a business relationship unfair to the US.

Trump’s tweets and other public comments suggest he could be ready for a major overhaul of the US’ China policy. His recent phone conversation with the leader of Taiwan is a pointer to the fact that Trump won’t be chummy with the Chinese. It certainly won’t come as a surprise if there’s some form of confrontation between these two economic powers.
Already, Trump has threatened to impose 45 per cent tariffs on all Chinese exports to the United States.

The forecast is that China would retaliate by cancelling orders for Boeing aircraft and buying European instead, and making life harder for US companies in China, while also drying up the flow of Chinese students who have been flocking to US colleges and filling their coffers for the past decade.

On the other hand, Trump might oversee a thawing of the cold relationship between the US and Russia. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have made complimentary comments about each other recently with the present administration in the US suggesting Russia helped Trump win the American election.

While this assertion has been debunked by both Trump and the Russians, there is no debate concerning the fact that Putin’s Russia is back as a major force in world affairs. It is expected that Russia will be very active on the diplomatic, military, and cyber fronts this year.

Russia already flexed its muscles last year by effectively winning the war in Syria against Western-backed rebels in a show of force which proved that though Russia’s oil-dependent economy is comparatively weak, it has a strong military that is getting stronger.

With a President Trump expected to be more conciliatory towards Russia, there might just be a few more countries who will bear the brunt of Russia’s power. This is especially true of the NATO members bordering Russia.

Another developing story that will unfold in the coming weeks and months is the UN resolution that demands Israel halts settlement activity, and the Zionist nation’s reaction to it. Already, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will not abide by the terms of the resolution. He has also summoned ambassadors of countries that supported the resolution, including the US as recalling the Israeli ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand (two of the countries that sponsored the resolution), well as halting financial aid.

Like last year, a few countries will go to the polls in what many have predicted to be defining elections. There is the fear among liberals that nationalists might ride on the momentum created by Trump’s victory in the American elections.

France is one of the countries where a far-right candidate seems primed to take over the reins. The country has been at the forefront of Europe’s battle with radical Islamic extremism and ISIS, but has paid the price.

Attacks in Paris and Nice have had an effect on the country’s politics, and the Front National’s Marine Le Pen—anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-EU—has been the most immediate beneficiary.
She will probably contest against current President Francois Hollande, who has a 15 percent approval rating, and former centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is embarking on a comeback bid.

France’s saving grace is its two-round presidential system, with most polls showing that Le Pen would be defeated in the second round—just as her father Jean-Marie Le Pen was in 2002. If Le Pen wins the presidency, she’s vowed to hold an in/out referendum on France’s own EU membership. With Britain having pulled out, France exiting would undermine the entire EU foundation.

There is a similar plot playing out in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is going for a fourth term but is not as popular as she has been in the past. With Germany bearing a large burden of the refugee crisis, there are those blaming Merkel for what they see as the result; terrorist attacks.

The Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant party, has made impressive gains in regional elections since its founding in 2013, and has entered 10 of the country’s 16 state parliaments to date. The AfD is poised to be a player in federal elections later this year.

Iran will also be choosing a President this year. However, unlike France and Germany, anti-establishment challengers aren’t really a concern in Iran given that the Guardian Council—the 12-person body that ensures the country’s politics line up with Islamic law—vets and approves all candidates who stand in elections.

This means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the one who calls the final shots, backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Still, there has been a difference if the President is a moderate like President Hassan Rouhani, as against a hardliner like his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was Rouhani who pushed through the nuclear deal with the US and the West, even if it came with Khamenei’s final sign off.

Iran has a history with volatile presidential elections—when Ahmadinejad won re-election in 2009, there were accusations that the election results were rigged which sparked months of social unrest, protests and violence. Ahmadinejad was planning a comeback presidential campaign, but a few weeks ago was barred by Khamenei for being a divisive figure.
There will also be elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, The Netherlands, Norway, Kenya and Rwanda among others.

Yet analysts believe the biggest political transition the world faces this year doesn’t involve an actual election, as China gears up for its 19th Party Congress.
Many of the country’s top leaders for the next five years will be selected but given the scale of turnover this time around, this year’s congress could easily shape China’s trajectory for the next 15 years.

About half of China’s powerful 18-member Politburo will be swapped out. More importantly, five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the ultimate arbiters of power in the country, are scheduled be replaced.
The only Standing Committee members who will remain are President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who will serve out their second and final terms until 2022.