Major Events that Shaped Nigeria in 2023

As the year 2023 wound up and 2024 gradually takes over, Sunday Ehigiator recently tooka retrospective look at major events that happened in Nigeria through the course of last year

The year 2023 has been marked by significant events and transformations across various spheres of our lives; from politics to the tech world, to global conflicts, and economic uncertainties, and cultural patterns, among others.

It was an election year for Nigerians who went to the polls to choose new leaders. The year has been momentous and challenging, especially on the socioeconomic landscape.

In a year that would see the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari after an eight-year tenure, Nigerians were expecting the new incoming government to stifle the rhetoric of hardship now considered commonplace. Such expectations were the driving force behind many policy revisions, executive decisions and by extension, socioeconomic repercussions for citizens.

As the year progresses, the world awaits how these events will continue to shape our future. Let’s delve into the elaborate highlights of this eventful year.

Cash crunch

Between late 2022 and early this year, as Nigerians were preparing for the 2023 general elections, the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced new Naira notes and began the immediate withdrawal and crunching of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes.

Nigerians were forced to find alternatives to physical, hard currency in the form of cash, due to a scarcity caused by the Naira redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria on October 26th, 2022. In this period, the currency in circulation was expected to be returned to the banks in exchange for new currency.

The currency was to cease to be considered legal tender from February 10. However, the new currency was in short supply, as the CBN did not print or release enough new notes.

Among many reasons given for this action was that the then incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, intended to strip the political class of the means to readily available cash due to the impending elections, therefore perhaps stifling electoral manipulation such as vote buying.

Another reason was that the CBN sought to pull in the cash from circulation, citing “significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public”. The apex bank also claimed that over 85 per cent of the currency in circulation was outside the vaults of commercial banks.

Although both old and new currencies are still legal tender till this minute, it has caused several hardships to the country’s economic landscape with some companies even closing down their operations in Nigeria for this singular reason.

Airstrike kills 27 herders

On January 25, a group of 27 Fulani herders was killed Wednesday and several others were wounded when a bomb exploded in the village of Rukubi on the border between Nasarawa and Benue states in central Nigeria, police said. Some herders say an airstrike caused it

Container falls on a commercial bus in Lagos

On January 29, 2023, no fewer than nine passengers were reportedly crushed to death as a 20ft container fell on a commercial bus in the Ojuelegba area of Lagos State.

It was learnt that the commercial bus was picking up passengers at the bus stop along the Ojuelegba Bridge when the truck lost control and fell over the side of the bridge.

Protest over cash scarcity

On February 4, 2023, Nigerians began protesting over the scarcity of naira. Protesters attacked bank ATMs and blocked roads in three Nigerian cities, Ibadan, Benin City and Delta State, as anger spilt on the streets over a scarcity of cash, just days before the country’s general election.

Nigeria has been struggling with a shortage in physical cash since the central bank began to swap old bills of the local naira currency for new ones, leading to a shortfall in banknotes.

Banks have limited access to cash for withdrawals because of a scarcity of new notes, and some businesses refuse to accept old naira, causing huge queues, angering customers and disrupting businesses.

Pipeline explosion in Rivers State

On March 3, at least 12 people were confirmed dead, and several others were critically injured, following an oil pipeline explosion from an illegal oil bunkering site in Rivers State, South-south Nigeria.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday in the Rumuekpe community, in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state.

The police spokesperson in the state, Grace Iringe-Koko, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday that the identities of the victims were unknown.

Train collides with BRT bus in Lagos

On March 9, a train rammed into a BRT bus in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos, killing six people and injuring dozens of others, as the bus driver tried to beat the train signal, emergency services and the state governor said.

The accident happened at a bus stop in the Ikeja axis of Lagos, a city of around 20 million people, Lagos State Emergency Services said in a statement.

“Two persons died on the spot while four others died in the hospital, 25 persons have been treated and transferred to Gbagada General Hospital, Agege General Hospital and the trauma centre at the toll gate,” Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said at the State Hospital.

2023 General Elections

Nigeria, the largest democracy in Africa, conducted its Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, 2023, and the Governor and State Assembly elections on March 18, 2023.

However, the outcome of the elections became highly controversial, resulting in outrage among the opposition and the general population.

18 political parties presented candidates for the presidential elections. Of the 18, three were the major contenders: Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 8,794,726 votes and won 12 states; Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 6,984,520 votes and won 12 states; and Peter Gregory Obi, candidate of the Labor Party (LP), who scored 6,101,533 votes and won 11 states plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Opposition parties have disputed the results since INEC announced the winner. An upsurge of Obi supporters called the ‘Obidients’, and Atiku Abubakar’s supporters known as the ‘Atikulants’ have challenged the results in court, but lost to the ruling All Progressive Party’s candidate, President Bola Tinubu.

Some Nigerians have lost confidence in the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), arguing that its words and promises mean nothing to Nigerians.

They emphasized that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has shown himself to be a disgrace to Nigeria and has brought shame, disgrace, and embarrassment to Nigerians in the global community.

They accused Yakubu and his team of National Commissioners of compromising the results of the February 25 presidential election by deliberately refusing to upload the results at the Polling Units from the BVAS to the IREV, just as they promised while speaking in several forums in the buildup to the elections.

On this basis, INEC received an unprecedented sum of N355 billion to conduct a credible election. Despite the enormous financial commitment and the incredible support received from the international community and civil society organizations, INEC failed to deliver on a straightforward mandate of meeting the expectations of Nigerians.

Mangu violence

From May 15 to 16, over 100 people were killed in an attack by Fulani herders against villagers in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria.

The conflict started at 2:00 am local time on May 15, when huge numbers of Fulani gunmen attacked and burned multiple villages, including Kubwat and Fungzai where 28 and 9 people were reportedly killed, respectively.

Women and children were said to be among the dead. Houses and crops were set ablaze as assailants attacked villagers using guns and machetes.

As an aftermath of the attacks, on May 21, Fulani militias passed by the town of Daika in Panyam District on motorcycles. The militants opened fire on a group of young men, killing four.

Also on May 25, church leaders led a group of around 250 protesters in Jos, urging the government to take action.

Subsidy removal

On May 29, Tinubu, while delivering his inaugural speech, announced the removal of the petrol subsidy. Since the announcement, the price of petrol has skyrocketed to above N580 per litre, a development that has sparked a hike in transport fares and prices of goods and services across the country.

Unification of exchange rate

On June 14, the apex bank announced that all FX windows are now collapsed into the investors & exporters (I&E) window. The CBN said the move was part of a series of immediate changes to operations in the Nigerian FX market.

According to the circular signed by the Director of CBN Financial Markets Department, Angela Sere-Ejembi, he said “All segments are now collapsed into the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window. Applications for medicals, school fees, BTA/PTA, and SMEs would continue to be processed through deposit money banks.”

Unification of the foreign exchange rates is the second important decision made by this administration. Before the merger, the official rate was about N400, while it was about N800/900 naira to the British Pounds. To achieve the merger, the government embarked on floating the naira. Currently, the rate stands at over N1,000 to a dollar or pounds.

Kwara boat mishap

On June 12, 2023, a vessel capsized and split in two in the Niger River near Pategi, Kwara State, Nigeria. The boat was carrying attendees of a wedding, who came initially on motorcycles but were stranded due to heavy rain. At least 108 people have been confirmed dead. Dozens are missing.

Outbreak of diphtheria disease

On July 7, Nigeria’s health authorities confirmed an outbreak of the deadly diphtheria disease in the capital Abuja, following the death of a four-year-old patient.

Infections from the highly contagious bacterial disease which affects the throat and nose, and can cause breathing difficulties, have risen sharply across the West African country since the past year, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 800 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the country as of June 30, the NCDC said in a statement.

Blue line train begins service

On September 4, the 13-kilometre-long (8-mile) Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line rapid transit system began service in Lagos, after being delayed since 1983.

The Blue Line – built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp – links the mainland part of the city where most people live with the more affluent Lagos Island, where many businesses are headquartered.

The metro system has been dogged by funding and administrative delays since it was initially planned in 1983.

Taraba boat accident

On October 29, more than 70 people were missing after a boat capsized in northern Nigeria.

The boat was carrying traders returning from a fish market in Taraba state’s Ardo-Kola district late Saturday when it capsized on the Benue River, which is one of Nigeria’s largest, the national emergency services said.

It added that more than 100 passengers were on board, 14 were rescued, 17 bodies have been recovered and 73 people are missing.

Boko Haram attack in Yobe State

On October 30, at least 17 people were killed in Gurokayeya, Yobe State when Boko Haram-aligned gunmen stormed the village and attacked residents with explosives and firearms when they reportedly refused to pay a tax to the terrorists.

Increase in Dollar to Naira rate and inflation

The high increase in the Dollar to Naira rate and inflation sent ripples through communities across Nigeria. Families felt the impact as the prices of everyday goods rose, making it harder to make ends meet. People shared stories of adapting to these changes, from finding creative ways to stretch their budgets to seeking new sources of income.

Amid these challenges, there were tales of perseverance and determination as individuals worked tirelessly to provide for their loved ones. There was a specific story of a woman that stood out, she lost her job during this period and she still had to take care of her sick daughter, she had to move around her community and started helping them to clean and they all gave her a little, which she gathered to feed herself and her family.

Edo crisis (Obaseki vs Shaibu)

The rift between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, was another major political event that rocked the Nigerian dailies. The antecedents of their feud were reported to have escalated when it was rumoured that Shaibu had secretly made his intention known that he would be contesting for the governorship seat of Edo state when Obaseki’s tenure ends in 2024.

It was later gathered that Obaseki accused his deputy of planning a coup against him to become the state governor. Obaseki, while addressing some PDP loyalists, disclosed that he began to doubt the loyalty of Shaibu when he was working for another candidate, aside from his, as speaker of the state House of Assembly.

Hilda Baci’s Guinness World Record

Nigerian chef Hilda Baci’s remarkable achievement in setting a Guinness World Record showcased the country’s culinary talent and determination, inspiring aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs, and celebrating the richness of Nigeria’s gastronomic heritage.

MohBad’s Death

The untimely passing of Nigerian music artist MohBad deeply impacted fans and the entertainment industry. His music had woven into the fabric of many lives, and his sudden departure left a profound void. Stories emerged of fans reminiscing about the impact of his lyrics, while fellow artists shared heartfelt anecdotes of their time with him.

MohBad’s passing sparked conversations about mental health and well-being in the entertainment community, highlighting the need for better support systems for artists. Amidst the grief, there were stories of unity and solidarity as fans and colleagues came together to honour his memory, underscoring the enduring legacy of his artistry.

Fever of GWR: Nigerians Attempt at Guinness World Records

The fever of Guinness World Records (GWR) swept through Nigeria, igniting a spirit of creativity and ambition. From the bustling streets of Lagos to the serene villages of the countryside, individuals and groups embarked on extraordinary endeavours to etch their names in history. For example, the popular chef Dammy tried to break Hilda’s but was not successful.

These record-breaking attempts became stories of passion and dedication, showcasing the diverse talents and unwavering spirit of Nigerians. Communities celebrated the achievements of their fellow citizens, finding inspiration in their remarkable feats and fostering a sense of national pride.

Israel and Palestine War

The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2023 has resulted in significant devastation and loss of life. The war, marked by intense fighting between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups, has led to widespread civilian casualties, displacement, and a severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes, and the conflict has sparked global protests for a ceasefire. The United States’ support for Israel and rejection of calls for a humanitarian ceasefire has been a point of contention.

The war has shaped 2023 by drawing attention to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting the urgent need for a peaceful resolution, and underscoring the impact of the conflict on civilian populations.

The ongoing hostilities have brought to the forefront the complexities and challenges of achieving lasting peace in the region, making it a defining issue of the year.

Yvonne Nelson’s Explosive Memoir

Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson’s memoir stirred up conversations about personal struggles and relationships.

It also stirred up the impact of public figures’ stories on their audience, showcasing the power of storytelling in shaping cultural narratives.

Anita Brown’s Revelation about Davido

The rollercoaster of accusations and revelations by American ‘model’ Anita Brown regarding her relationship with Davido captivated and intrigued netizens, shedding light on the complexities of modern celebrity relationships and the impact of social media on personal lives.

Mr. Ibu’s Health Struggles

Comic actor Mr Ibu’s health crisis and subsequent amputation highlighted the challenges faced by public figures, shedding light on health issues and resilience in the face of adversity, inspiring hope and resilience in the face of personal struggles.

Naira Marley’s Anti-Drug Message

Naira Marley’s unexpected advocacy against drug abuse demonstrated the influence of public figures in promoting social causes and responsible behaviour among the youth, showcasing the power of music in driving positive change in society.

Banky W’s alleged infidelity

Singer Banky W found himself in the spotlight when rumours circulated about his alleged affair with his ex-signee, Niyiola. The speculations, fueled by the Instagram blog, Gistlover, led to a public outcry, with fans scrutinising the singer’s actions and responses.

Rivers crisis (Wike vs Fubara)

This is one of the political feuds that rocked the headlines of all the Nigerian dailies.

The immediate past governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike and his successor, Sim Fubara, were entangled in political acrimony over the tussle for political structure in the oil-rich state.

The crisis between both parties burst open when unknown explosives attacked the Rivers state House of Assembly after it was rumoured that there was a plot to impeach Governor Fubara.

The relationship between Wike and Fubara had deteriorated due to the threats of impeachment against the governor, with speculations pointing fingers at Wike for being involved in the impeachment scheme.

In summary, 2023 was a year of intense revelations, triumphs, and challenges that shaped the narratives of Nigeria’s vibrant entertainment, sports, economic and political landscapes, leaving a lasting impact on the nation’s identity and global presence.

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