Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha record some of the important events that shaped political discourse in 2021
Year of Photo Opportunities With Senator Bola Tinubu:
For the better part of 2021, the acclaimed National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was missing in action but his absence did not keep him away from the spotlight. During his time abroad where he underwent a knee surgery, his residence was a Mecca of sorts to politicians who trooped in as if they were on a political pilgrimage. While the publicised reasons for their visit was to wish the political stalwart good health, the photo-ops suggested otherwise. Many believed that the photos were a strategic way to show support for Tinubu who nurses a presidential ambition and recently made his intention clear, following the massive support he continues to receive from different groups. Notable figures that paid him a visit include President Muhammadu Buhari and Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among others.
Akande’s Controversial Memoir
Former Governor of Osun State and first, Chief Bisi Akande recently launched a book which rubbed many leading figures in the Nigerian political space on the wrong side. But, Akande, the first National Chairman of the APC remains unfazed by harsh criticisms of his book, some of which suggests that he was hired to promote Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential bid. Even with the latest controversies surrounding the Akande book, Tinubu continues to remain mute. Perhaps, he considers the matter too insignificant compared to his presidential ambition.
The Unending Tenure of Mai Mala Buni:
Will the tenure of APC’s Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Mai Mala Buni ever come to an end? This is one of the questions on the lips of many political pundits and aggrieved members of the party. Since Buni who is also the governor of Yobe State assumed the responsibility following the controversial removal of the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, many have questioned the continuous extension of his tenure.
The CECPC was set up in June 2020 to steer the activities of the party for an initial period of six months and also to prepare and conduct the party’s national convention. By the expiration of the six-month tenure, the interim committee/extraordinary convention committee was extended for another six months on December 8, 2020, during a national executive meeting of the party. But by June 2021, the tenure was extended till the party’s convention which is scheduled for February 2022. The prevailing impression in many quarters is that Buni is in the good books of the President, particularly with his ability to win over major politicians including three governors in the country from the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC, thus, it is unlikely that the governor will relinquish his role before the 2023 general elections.
A Year of Multiple Crises for APC:
The impending implosion of the ruling party seems nearer as the days go by. There is hardly any state where the party rules that is not experiencing one conundrum or the other. There are crises in more than 20 states including Rivers, Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Kwara. These disputes have led to court summons and in some cases a departure of splinter groups to an opposition party.
Here are some of the notable conflicts that are rocking the APC to its very foundation
Face-off between Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe and Senator Danjuma Goje:
Their dispute is the latest to rock the party. Signal of the rift was meticulously kept under wraps but things escalated last month when the convoy of Senator Danjuma Goje was attacked by hoodlums believed to be sponsored by the incumbent governor of the state, Inuwa Yahaya. Goje who played the godfather role that produced Yahaya as the governor of the state is recognised by many as the leader of the party in the state. Thus, following his attack, his daughter Hussaina who served as the state’s Commissioner for Environment and Forest Resources resigned.
Also, about 80 per cent of ward executives of the APC from Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of the state also left their posts in support of the senator. Their dispute is allegedly rooted in the godfatherism role often played by Nigerian politicians. Yahaya is said to have refused to bend to Goje’s rules on how to run the state, leading to a fallout. The two have since been in a leadership tussle. Although the party’s reconciliation committee affirmed that Yahaya is the recognised leader of the party in state, this declaration has not doused the tension in the state.
Lagos4Lagos Movement Defection:
After suffering a series of blockades from the APC, Lagos4Lagos Movement, a group within the APC in Lagos State, whose convener Olajide Adediran is keen on wrestling Lagos from the form grip of a former governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu finally defected to the opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Their departure from the ruling party was somehow expected. Adediran, a bold and ambitious young man has always hinted to his followers that if the APC denies him an equal opportunity to contest in the upcoming governorship election in the state, that he wouldn’t think twice of defecting. Adediran also known as Jandor is confident that he has got the numbers to win Lagos. He’s been widely embraced by the former Senate President Bukola Saraki and PDP chieftain Olabode George. An official welcome is planned for next year.
Lai Mohammed and Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq:
For the first time, the reticent Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq spoke to THISDAY exclusively of the tussle between him and the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed. The duo had been at loggerheads over leadership in the state that began to intensify this year. In the over one-hour interview, AbdulRazaq released bombshells about the minister’s misappropriation of campaign funds and how he was constantly dehumanised by the minister and his loyalists. He also disclosed the mess he met in the state when he assumed office in 2019. The interview generated a lot of reactions including from the minister who described the allegations levelled against him as the height of recklessness, desperation and immaturity. For peace to reign, the party’s national leader Bola Tinubu waded in but the tension between the two is yet to abate.
Between Governor Bello Matawalle, former Governor Abdul’aziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa in Zamfara:
It can be argued that the incumbent governor of Zamfara State Bello Matawalle has a special charm or how can one explain his political climb. From emerging as the governor of the state as a result of a fallout between his predecessor Abdul’aziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa in 2018 to the state congress that elected him as the leader of the ruling party in the state. The declaration came shortly after he defected from the PDP to APC, a move many consider strategic, in order to secure a second term in office. However, the ceding of the leadership to Matawalle did not augur well with Yari and Marafa who having learnt their lessons from the 2018 feud, united to defeat a common enemy. The enduring spat between the three is not likely to be resolved any time soon even if the speculation that Yari and Marafa are considering leaving the APC continues to reverberate despite their denial of the rumours.
Abdullahi Ganduje and Ibrahim Shekarau:
Like many state chapters of the APC, Kano is not immune to the crisis plaguing the APC. In this case, it is between the incumbent governor Abdullahi Ganduje and former governor Ibrahim Shekarau. Factions loyal to either men are at loggerheads over who should hold the leadership baton in the state, Shekarau would emerge victorious as an Abuja High Court declared members of his faction as the duly elected leaders of the party in the state. Expectedly, rumours have been rife that Ganduje may quit the party over the court’s decision. Time will tell if he will or not.
Governor Godwin Obaseki’s Delayed Cabinet Appointment:
The Edo State Governor raised eyebrows over the prolonged delay in constituting bis cabinet. It took him over one year to finally appoint members of his cabinet, casting doubts on his leadership style for his second term in office. From one reason to the other, the governor’s delay didn’t put him or the PDP that got him into office in good light.
PDP National Convention:
In unison, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a decision to make their voices heard at the party’s national convention in October. They left no room for the perceived godfathers of the party to hold sway. Despite the controversies that threatened the process, 3,600 delegates voted for new members of the National Working Committee with Iyorchia Ayu emerging the National Chairman of the party, displacing Uche Secondus whose tenure was already mired in controversies. Only the office of the Deputy National Chairman (South) and National Youth Leader were contested out of the 21 NWC positions.
Nyesom Wike and Uche Secondus:
The battle between the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the former National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus was long drawn before the year started. Wike who was instrumental to Secondus’ emergence as national chairman of the PDP was keen on unseating him after a series of face-offs. True to his word, Secondus was displaced at the PDP’s convention and since then, been challenging his removal in courts. Beyond his feud with Wike, Secondus’ tenure was not void of controversies. More than once, other chieftains had called for his resignation. How he would fare next year in the party is yet unknown.
Anambra Governorship Election:
One of the most anticipated elections of the year, the Anambra governorship poll made a strong statement on the will of the people. Although there were many contenders in the governorship race, all eyes were on Senator Andy Uba who flew the APC flag and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Prof. Charles Soludo who ran under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party. Soludo’s victory was celebrated as it conveyed the dominance of the party whose foundation is linked to the late Biafran leader Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.
Still on the Anambra governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) tried the effectiveness of the Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) which it first deployed at the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election for Delta State in September 2021. The machine which authenticates voters through fingerprints and facials replaced the Smart Card Reader and erodes the use of incident forms at polls. Although it encountered a few glitches at the Anambra elections, the BVAS is a good nod to a better electoral process.
2021 may be described as the year of increased insecurity as the country recorded varying degrees of loss and threat to lives and property. From bandits, terrorists to killer herdsmen and incidents of unrest engineered by separatist groups unrest, the country experienced a high level of insecurity. The effects of the threats affected different sectors of the economy including agriculture, leading to food instability. Despite efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to rein in order and peace, the country’s security is still on tenterhooks.
Arrest of Separatist Group Leaders:
On different occasions, President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that his administration will not tolerate secessionist groups that threaten national unity. Having proscribed the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to the chagrin of many, the Federal Government thumped its chest when it captured the leader of the IPOB Nnamdi Kanu in June. Expectedly his arrest caused a wave of unrest in the South-east where his followers declared a sit-at-home order on the days he appeared in court. However, the directive paved a way for violence in the region. To date, the South-east remains a ticking bomb with all manners of crimes meted on citizens, particularly in the Orsu area of Imo State.
In similar vein, the Yoruba Nation leader Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho was arrested on July 19, 2021, at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou, Benin Republic. He is yet to be released.
Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill:
Hope of the new electoral bill signed into law was recently dashed when the President refused to give assent. The two chambers of the National Assembly had passed the bill and transmitted to the president on November 18 but the president shocked Nigerians when he declined assent to an amendment that would have compelled political parties to involve every member of their party in the choice of their candidates
Furore Over Electronic Transfer of Election Results
Following a backlash from the public, the National Assembly quickly retraced its steps from the unpopular decision on the controversial clause 53 (3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which had sought to subject the electronic transmission of electoral results to the approval of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC). The will of the people vehemently expressed by individual Nigerians and Civil Society Organisations voiced their preference for results of elections in the country to be electronically disseminated.
Nigeria Retaliates Ban
Whether with operation of airline flight frequency or inclusion on COVID-19 Red List, Nigeria adopted an official policy of retaliation against what the Federal Government considers unfair or discriminatory policies against the country. The United Kingdom, Canada and Emirates Airways were clubbed with Nigeria’s revenge hammer at different times.
On the Anambra governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) tried the effectiveness of the Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) which it first deployed at the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election for Delta State in September 2021. The machine which authenticates voters through fingerprints and facials replaced the Smart Card Reader and erodes the use of incident forms at polls. Although it encountered a few glitches at the Anambra elections, the BVAS is a good nod to a better electoral process
The impending implosion of the ruling party seems nearer as the days go by. There is hardly any state where the party rules that is not experiencing one conundrum or the other. There are crises in more than 20 states including Rivers, Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Kwara. These disputes have led to court summons and in some cases a departure of splinter groups to an opposition party