2017 YEAR IN REVIEW
This year brought political and economic shocks whose consequences were revealed in various dimensions. From political tensions, to poor economic health, and threats of social upheaval, 2017 tested individuals’ and institutions’ abilities to weather difficult times. Some passed the test, successfully weathering the tough economic and political climate and coming tops in their fields. Others were not as lucky. Following is a rundown of the placements, showing those that made it in 2017 – and other who could not.
This year was tough for President Muhammadu Buhari with regard to his health. Buhari suffered severe health challenges that put the whole country on edge. The president admitted he had never been that sick. But after a number of medical vacations, which were often tension-soaked, he was nursed back to health. The president has continued to enjoy good health and give the lie to doomsday predictions about his fitness.
Efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the leadership of its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to ensure monetary and price stability in the economy had hitherto been widely criticised by Nigerians. At the outset of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration when the value of the naira plummeted, Emefiele was not given any chance as the central bank governor who would restore the fortunes of the national currency. An array of policies and reforms rolled out by Emefiele’s CBN to create a regime of foreign exchange designed to buoy the value of the naira and entrench monetary stability were heavily criticised. Several months down the line, the efforts have yielded fruits. Not only has the value of the naira stabilised, exchanging for the dollar at N360, the interbank rate and bureau de change rate have reached a convergence. Similarly, as a result of CBN’s tight monetary stance, inflation for the tenth consecutive time, has declined with the consumer price index now at 15.90 per cent as at November compared to 18.72 per cent in January. Following the re-enactment of a favourable monetary milieu, investor confidence is renewed and the resultant effect is that the foreign reserves accumulated to about $39 billion.
While Justice Walter Onnoghen was appointed and sworn in as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria on November 9, 2016, his appointment was not confirmed until March 1. The delay in the confirmation of his appointment had generated controversy especially when he was the only southerner so appointed into the top position in 30 years. When the Department of State Security raided the homes of some judges over allegations of corruption last year, there were insinuations that Onnoghen was the target. DSS however, debunked the insinuations. The submission of his name to the National Assembly and the confirmation of his appointment came after loud agitations particularly from the South south.
The economy, which slipped into a recession in the second quarter of 2016, came out of the quagmire in the second quarter of this year after five quarters of contraction. Although the current administration had claimed it inherited a battered economy from the immediate past government, it also did not fail to admit that the dwindled fortunes of oil at the international market coupled with violent activities of militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region seriously affected the economy and plunged it. The tenacity of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who critics had clamoured, was not qualified to man the economy was no doubt plausible in getting Nigeria out of the murky waters of recession. At a time the International Monetary Fund tried to entice Nigeria with a loan to assuage her financial crunch, Adeosun was resolute that the nation was not sick and as such did not need the Bretton Woods institution’s support. True to type, Nigeria came out of its predicament without the financial support of IMF. With the GDP growth rate at 1.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year, Nigeria’s economic growth has surpassed the expectation and projection of the IMF and other multilateral institutions.
Senate President Bukola Saraki got a good breather in his trial over alleged assets declaration, when the Court of Appeal quashed 15 of the 18 charges brought against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The tribunal had earlier upheld Saraki’s no-case submission and acquitted him. But the appeal court held that a prima facie case had been established against the senate president for which he should stand trial at the CCT.
The Peoples Democratic Party entered 2017 with a huge baggage of internal crisis that threatened to tear apart the erstwhile ruling party. The crisis, which broke shortly after the party’s devastating defeat at the 2015 general election, led to factionalisation and intense squabbles, as stakeholders blamed one another for the electoral loss. But PDP got its act together, did a successful elective convention, and inaugurated an acceptable national executive.
Despite the formidable forces arrayed against him, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State surprised many political pundits when he convincingly won the governorship election to return for a second term. He won in all 21 local governments of the state.
The PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, is a beneficiary of party’s convention, which was held recently. Despite the fact that he was in contention for the exalted position with other formidable party stalwarts like Chief Bode George, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Chief Jimi Agbaje, with the unwavering support of the governors, he became victorious. The aforementioned with exception of Adeniran had announced their withdrawal from the race shortly before the election. Apart from Adeniran, he also slugged it out with Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja.
British-Nigerian-born professional boxer achieved a lifetime feat when he became the unified world heavyweight champion last April. The 28 year-old currently holds the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.
Led by Mr. Gernor Rohr, a German-born coach, the Nigerian soccer team, Super Eagles, are the toast of football loving Nigerians after they secured a place for the country in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
This year, the Independent National Electoral Commission has proved its mettle having conducted all its elections free and fair. For instance, Anambra governorship election, where 36 candidates contested was adjudged free and fair and it has been regarded as a litmus test for 2019 general elections. INEC has also conducted free and fair bye elections and local government elections in some states.
Ali Modu Sheriff
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff acted as national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party from February to May, 2016, when he was removed and replaced by Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi. But Sheriff rejected his removal and challenged the process up to the Supreme Court. He lost, as the apex court ruled in July this year that Makarfi was the authentic national chairman of PDP.
Babachir David Lawal was Secretary to the Government of the Federation from August 2015 to April 2017, when he was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari amid fraud allegations. He was officially sacked in October after an administrative committee indicted him for misappropriating funds meant for alleviating the tough existential conditions of people in the North-east, whose lives and livelihoods have been ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency since 2009.
Former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, was appointed by then President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2013. Oke was retained as NIA director-general by Buhari, until April 2017, when he was suspended by the president following the discovery of more than $43 million in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Oke was finally dismissed in October by Buhari after being indicted by the report of an investigative committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State is one of the fiercest critics of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress. There is hardly anything on which Fayose has not taken issue with Buhari since he became president in May 2015. Fayose has made an issue of Buhari’s health right from the time he was campaigning for the presidency. At the time Buhari’s health was a major cause for concern, nationally, in 2017, Fayose was in the vanguard of those who painted several doomsday scenarios about the president’s condition. But those pictures were disproved by Buhari’s recovery and subsequent good health
Former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, lost out in his bid to dislodge his erstwhile protégé and incumbent Governor of the state, Mr. Willie Obiano. Obi who openly campaigned for the PDP governorship candidate, Oseloka Obaze, sustained a bitter war in the media against Gov. Obiano who flew the APGA flag. However, the result of the election gave a clear victory to Obiano, returning him to office a second term. It was a sour trouncing for Obi whose political fortunes took a nosedive and has since kept a low profile.
Champion of the Biafran separationist efforts and the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has gone into hiding after jumping bail following his conditional release from prison. No sooner he regained freedom than he flouted some of the conditions for his release. Kanu was linked to groups that carried out several disruptive actions against public peace and order, particularly in Eastern part of Nigeria. He had been quoted at different times insisting a Republic of Biafra must be established. An attempt by security agencies to rein him in, led to his perplexing ‘disappearance’.
Former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Team, PPRT, Abdulrasheed Maina, has been at the centre of a mind-burgling allegations that he stole over N1 billion of pension funds. While investigation was till going on, Maina who had earlier been sacked from the federal civil service was recalled through the backdoor. The uproar that accompanied this abnormal reinstatement forced the Presidency to order his sack and instituted a probe into his ridiculous return to the civil service. Maina has since gone into hiding.
The suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, had a running battle with Oando, Plc, following petitions by Mr. Gabriele Volpi and Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, who had accused the executive management of the integrated energy company of mismanagement. Arising from these petitions, Gwarzo therefore decided that SEC, the apex capital regulatory authority would conduct a forensic audit on Oando’s account.
He was later suspended by Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, over allegations of financial impropriety bordering on the payment of N104 million to himself when he retired as an executive commissioner of SEC in 2015. Besides, Gwarzo was also accused of awarding contracts to his company Medusa Investment Company and to companies linked to his wife and cronies. According to Adeosun, Gwarzo’s suspension was to enable an administrative panel of inquiry (API) investigate and determine the culpability of the DG. While there were claims that Gwarzo was suspended over his refusal to heed Adeosun’s call to discontinue the forensic audit of Oando’s account, the minister had denied such claims.
Statutorily, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s mandate is, amongst others, to sell crude oil, natural gas liquids (domestic & export) and LPG mix based on term contract. But Nigerians gauge the performance of NNPC with the availability of fuel at filling stations across the country. The issues NNPC had with PENGASSAN, DAPPMA that caused the ongoing spate of fuel scarcity has led Nigerians to once again question the efficiency and integrity of NNPC. Despite the reforms at the corporation in recent times, refineries are still operating at suboptimal levels. The recently licensed refineries are yet to take off. The belief in many quarters is that, with the current scheme of things, end may not be in sight to fuel crisis in Nigeria.
Sensational singing twins, Peter and Paul Okoye, better known as P Square, who had been on and off the infamy of seasonal bickering, finally went their separate ways. The brothers achieved fame and built a huge followership as a team, but the pressure of personal ambitions broke the sagging chord of their unity. They are now pursuing separate solo careers as Mr. P and Rude Boy.