In a matter of days, the world will embrace a New Year. But with all that characterised 2012, Nigerians will not forget the outgoing year in a hurry. In this report, Ademola Adeyemo, Omololu Ogunmade, Shola Oyeyipo, Anayo Okolie, Ayodele Opiah and Nkiruka Okoh review some of the major events of 2012
The outgoing year came with many events. From the first day in the year on January 1, the events had begun to unfold. Some of the major events of the year are summarised below:
Little did the Federal Government know that the planned removal of subsidy on January 1 as announced by President Goodluck Jonathan in his New Year broadcast would change the course of the year! It actually did. With the removal of subsidy, the price of petrol, which sold for N65 per litre was jacked up to N141. This set off a chain of reactions that affected several other things. Not only did it attract the rage of the people, the agitation against the new policy compelled the government to turn the searchlight on the petroleum sector during which the monumental corruption that has been going on in the sector for years was uncovered.
After the negotiations and interventions that followed from stakeholders, government eventually settled for N97 per litre. But the decision was reached, the economy hurt badly as the nationwide strike affected near all facet of the Nigerian economy. Coming after this were the many probes that unveiled the rots in the oil sector. For this, many are still in detention while some are standing trial in different courts across the country.
The outgoing year witnessed the continuity of terrorist acts perpetrated majorly by the Boko Haram sect. In many of these sometimes coordinated attacks, Nigerians were killed in public places including churches and schools. Most grievous of them were multiple explosions and gun attacks that rocked Kano on January 20, in which 31-year old Channels Television reporter, Enenche Akogwu, lost his life.
Another attack was launched on the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, on April 30, and which claimed the lives of Professors Jerome Ayodele and Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi along with 13 other Christian worshippers at the Bayero University, Kano. Also killed in the attacks was a senior non-academic staff, Mr. Sylvester Adah.
The terrorists went wild again on August 7, killing 20 worshippers in a Deeper Life Bible Church, Otite, outskirt of Okene in Kogi State. And on October 1, a group of armed men stormed Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, in Adamawa State, calling students’ names and shooting them dead. But Boko Haram, denied responsibility for the Mubi killings. The outgoing year also witnessed an onslaught against some media houses, chief amongst which was THISDAY’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna. The attacks claimed two lives in Abuja and one Kaduna.
Executive and Legislative Brawl
The year also had its share of the usual frosty relationship between the executive and the legislature which culminated in the House of Representatives threatening to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan over what it tagged poor implementation of the 2012 budget. The lawmakers accused Jonathan of poor and selective implementation of the budget and consequently gave Jonathan up till September 18, when they would resume from recess, to ensure effective implementation of the budget or face impeachment.
They argued that failure of the Jonathan administration to implement the 2012 Appropriation Act midway into the fiscal year amounted to gross misconduct. As a result, they said they would “begin to draw up articles of impeachment” if by September, there was no appreciable improvement in the implementation of the budget.
Earlier, the House had on June 19, summoned Jonathan to appear before the House and brief it on the persistent terrorist attacks ravaging the nation.
But till date, Jonathan has refused to honour the invitation. The two arms of government also sparred during the 2013 budget presentation in which the legislature reiterated its displeasure on the performance of the 2012 budget and went on to differ with the executive on the oil benchmark. While the executive proposed $75 per barrel, the Senate proposed $78 while the House of Representatives proposed $80. At the end of the day, they settled for $79, thus overriding the proposal by the executive and reconciling theirs.
The spate of corruption in the country knew no respite in 2012 as several high profile corruption cases rocked the nation to the bottom. It began with the discovery of over N2 trillion siphoned by fuel importers under the guise of fuel subsidy. Among culprits of the scam who are currently standing trial are sons of prominent Nigerians including Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, his predecessor in office, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd.) and an Ibadan-based business man, Alhaji Arisekola Alao.
The year also witnessed a dramatic twist in investigation into the subsidy scam as Hon. Farouk Lawan, Chairman, House of Representatives ad-hoc committee which probed the scandal, was later alleged to have collected $620,000 from business man, Femi Otedola. Otedola, however, admitted to offering bribe but claimed it was a sting operation.
While Lawan initially denied collecting bribe from Otedola, he later admitted doing so. Consequently, the House suspended him as committee chairman.
It was also reported that within less than three years of Jonathan’s presidency, the nation has recorded the theft of a whopping sum of N5 trillion.
One of the most recent heartrending corruption cases was discovered in the pension department. A probe was conducted by the Senate into the mismanagement of pension funds and revelations from the probe portrayed the pension scam as one of the most scandalous crimes against humanity in Nigeria.
It involved the theft of whopping N156 billion by pension management staff. While one of the staff was said to have opened 10 different accounts in one bank, N2 billion cash was found in the house of a permanent secretary in addition to billions of Naira stashed in banks as well as assets worth several billions owned by the staff.
There was also brazen falsification of documents to withdraw pension funds by the culprits in addition to officials of the Police Pension Board falsifying documents to withdraw N24 billion from the budget office for the payment of pension which required only N3.5 billion.
In a feat of irony, Chairman of the Pension Review Task Force Team, Maina Abdulrasheed, told the Senate committee that the task force uncovered two major accounts in Lagos where pension funds for the police were lodged. The accounts contained N21 billion and N24 billion respectively. He also disclosed that on a daily basis, various sums of money ranging from N200 million to N300 million were illegally withdrawn, among other shocking revelations which emerged during the probe. The same Abdulrasheed is currently standing trial for involvement in the fraud.
Nigeria Before the World
In the course of the year, Jonathan’s fight against corruption got a damning verdict from the international community as Transparency International (TI), the world’s reputed corruption watchdog, ranked Nigeria as the 35th most corrupt country in the world.
According to the TI 2012 report, Nigeria scored 27 out of available 100 marks to rank among the nations which topped the list of the most corrupt countries of the world, occupying 139th position of the 176 countries surveyed for the report.
Ranked alongside Nigeria as leading corrupt countries, were Azerbaijan, Kenya, Nepal and Pakistan. Nevertheless, Nigeria despite its woeful output at the survey, recorded a slight improvement when compared with the 2011 survey by IT which placed it on the 37th position. According to the 2011 survey, Nigeria took 143rd position out of 182 countries surveyed. But Somalia and North Korea remained the most corrupt nations of the world according to the index.
Ibori Goes to Jail
Another corruption case that drew both local and international attention in the outgoing year was the conviction and sentencing of former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori. In April, Ibori was sentenced to a 13-year imprisonment term for corruption and money laundering charges at the Southwark Crown Court 9, London by Judge Anthony Pitts.
Ibori’s conviction had elicited interest because he was believed to have been insulated from prosecution in Nigeria. In fact, in December 2009, a Nigerian judge had dismissed the 170-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the ground that a legitimate case was not established.
But three years after, Ibori pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering before Judge Pitts, a development that further underpinned the weaknesses of Nigeria’s justice system.
The Craze for 2015
The idea of what the 2015 elections would look like has been one issue that characterised the outgoing year. Whilst the present crop of elected office holders had barely covered half of their time, the craze for 2015 had dominated the polity. Although, this is not limited to a particular office, the presidential has been hit the most. The reason that is allegedly so is because some interests believe President Goodluck Jonathan’s body language suggests he might seek re-election- a move they say is contrary to his promise in 2011 that he would not go for more than a term.
This had thus heightened political temperature as everyone had begun to extrapolate towards 2015 in 2012.
Perhaps, the perceived no love lost between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan had a bearing with 2015. It was Obasanjo who first staked his “credibility” and announced in the run up to the 2011 election that Jonathan would not run for more than a term in office. The President too reportedly affirmed this during a visit to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia when he met with some Nigerians living in the country. But that this may no longer be the reading has not gone down well with the former president who though has never linked his grouse to that issue, but criticized Jonathan’s handling of certain issues in the country.
Obasanjo joined the league of Jonathan’s critics when he decried the poor handling of security issues, especially the insurgency of the Boko Haram sect. The former president, who, along with another former leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, had earlier offered to help Jonathan, however came out stronger in Warri, Delta State, during the 40th anniversary of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s call to ministry at the Word of Life Bible Church.
“They (Boko Haram) stated their grievances and I promised to relay them to the authorities in power, because that was the best I could do. I did report. But my fear at that time is still my fear till today. When you have a sore and fail to attend to it quickly, it festers and grows to become something else,” Obasanjo was quoted as saying.
But Jonathan who seized the opportunity of a recent media replied Obasanjo and said his prescriptions did not solve the insecurity problem but compounded it. This, however, set the stage for supporters of both leaders who had since engaged each other.
States and Distinct Identities
Sometime in the year, the decision by some states to have separate identities in terms of coat of arms, flags, anthem and other distinguishing features from those of the federation were greeted with controversy because they were considered a decoy to declare independent states within Nigeria.
Some of the states that embraced the idea were Cross River, Rivers, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara and Bayelsa. But states had argued that they took the steps in order to give true meaning to the federal structure that Nigeria seeks to operate without undermining the sovereignty of the federation.
While the controversy subsisted, the people of Ogoni on August 2, declared political autonomy and maintained that the action was for “the advancement of liberty in freedom and the preservation of the ancestral heritage of the Ogoni people.” In a live broadcast on a newly established radio station, “Voice of Ogoni”, president and spokesman of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, had vowed that “By this declaration of political autonomy, we, the Ogoni people are determined to enforce the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without fear or retreat.”
But some leaders of Ogoni had since visited the President and pledged loyalty and commitment to the cause of the nation.
The Ondo, Edo Elections
Two major governorship elections were held in the outgoing year. They were the July 14 election in Edo and the October 20 Ondo election. The two exercises tested the challenge of leadership and democratic tenets, side-by-side. Although, the two exercises followed intense pressure on the leadership in terms of organization and security, they were also recorded as some of the major feats of the administration in terms of success recorded.
Whilst the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, wrestled the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) forces in Edo State to survive a major battle in his political career, his Ondo State counterpart, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko had the self-acclaimed progressive elements in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as hurdles to cross before clinching his re-election. But with the successes recorded in the two exercises, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was rated as having moved several steps away from the past.
Season of Air Crashes
One of the misfortunes recorded against the outgoing year was the spate of air mishaps. Sometime in March, former FCT police commissioner, John Haruna, who was just promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police and three others, died in a helicopter crash that occurred in Jos, Plateau State. Those who died with him were Chief Superintendent Alexander Pwol-Ja, Sgt. Sonatiam Shirunam and Assistant Commissioner, Garba Yalwa, who was the pilot.
Barely three months after, Sunday, June 3, Lagosians and indeed, Nigerians were shocked with the news of a Lagos bound Dana flight which crashed in Iju area of the state, killing all the 153 onboard and several others on the ground. The Dana crash raised questions about leadership and the management of the aviation sector, controversy that eventually led to suspension of Dana’s license. The suspension was later lifted.
Again, on Thursday, October 25, came the news that the Taraba State Governor, Alhaji Danbaba Suntai, was involved in a plane crash he personally flew. Suntai who crashed Cessna 208, 5N-BMJ, alongside five of his aides some 38 miles to Yola, the Adamawa State capital is still recuperating in a German hospital.
But that was not all to the gory tales of air mishaps. The news came on December 15 that former Kaduna State governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi had died in a helicopter crash in Okoroba area of Nembe, Bayelsa State.
The duo died alongside their aides, Dauda Tsoho and Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal as well as the pilots, Commander Muritala Mohammed Daba and Lt. Adeyemi O. Sowole. While Yakowa has since been buried at his Fadan Kagoma home in Kaduna, Azazi will be buried this weekend at his hometown in Bayelsa.
The Missing and Ailing Governors
This year has also not fared well for some state governors. In Enugu State, Governor Sullivan Chime, has been missing for months now on grounds of ill-health. The whereabouts of Chime who left the country on September 19 on grounds of leave remains unknown.
Unfortunately, his deputy, Mr. Sunday Onyecbuchi, who had since taken over following the transmission of a letter through the state House of Assembly, has declined speaking on Chime’s health, despite rumours of death daily milling around him.
In Cross River, Governor Liyel Imoke, has also proceeded on leave and like Chime, transmitted a letter which empowered his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, to act in his stead. However, also like in the case of Chime, rumours of ill-health have also dogged Imoke’s exit on grounds of leave. But media aides of the governor have, however, denied any such thing. “The man has simply gone to observe a deserved rest,” said Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.
Anambra’s Undemocratic Councils
Close to seven years now since Mr. Peter Obi, the Anambra State governor assumed office the state has not conducted election into the local government. The situation which obviously was not Obi’s creation became an issue this year. But the state has continued to give various excuses on why it was unable to hold the election as provided for in the constitution.
The issue reached its crescendo this year as stakeholders in the state were at loggerheads with the state government over the non-conduct of council elections which cumulatively has remained so for the past 10 years.
Indeed, various dates have been announced in recent past for the elections. It was initially fixed for December 4, 2011, but rescheduled for an indefinite date in response to wide protest against the use of a flawed voter register. After that was resolved, November 9, 2011 was again announced as another probable date, but just like others, the elections never held.
While agitated politicians who were aspiring for chairmanship and councillorship positions have continued to protest the development, the Governor too has continued to latch on to court cases as impediments to the election.
Governors and their Lawmakers
Four states of Kogi, Bayelsa, Taraba and Nasarawa had nursed major executive/legislative crises in the outgoing year for alleged undue interference of the executive in their affairs.
The Taraba State House of Assembly, on October 4, impeached the deputy governor, Mr. Sani Abubakar Danladi, after adopting the recommendation of a seven-member Judicial Commission of enquiry set up by the acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Josephine Tuktur. The commission was setup to investigate allegations of gross misconduct brought against the deputy governor. At the end of the enquiry, the deputy governor was found guilty of the three allegations. Against this background, Majority Leader, Mr. Charles Maijankai, moved a motion for the adoption of the report, which later led to his impeachment.
In a more dramatic twist, on October 16, the Kogi State House of Assembly impeached its Speaker, Hon. Abdullahi Bello, and 10 principal officers in the chamber. The impeachment led to a protracted battle as only 11 of the 25-member assembly carried out the impeachment while the assembly was on recess. The minority had quickly elected Hon. Lawal Jimoh as new speaker.
Sadly, that has exacerbated the executive/legislative feud because the Governor, Captain Idris Wada, accused as the brain behind the illegal impeachment. As it is, all was not well with affairs in Kogi before the government shut down for the year.
Similarly, on June 3, 2012, Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Friday Benson, was impeached by 16 of the 24-member Assembly three months after he came into office. He was replaced by a former Deputy Speaker during the days of former Governor Timipre, Mr. Fini Angaye.
Interestingly, former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Nsima Ekere, was smarter by tendering his resignation on “personal grounds” when he noticed attempts to get rid of him.
Also, in Nasarawa State, the lawmakers after an emergency session, gave the Governor, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, seven days ultimatum to end the crises rocking the state or face impeachment proceeding. Majority Leader, Godiya Akwashiki, who read from the order paper entitled: “House Resolution on Security Issues and other Sensitive Matters in the State”, as well as a “Deliberation on the House Resolution on Security”. He proceeded to read out the warning for impeachment process. The motion was seconded for deliberation by House Minority Leader, Adamu Maikatako, a member of the CPC.
But CPC while reacting to the situation accused PDP of plotting the impeachment. Though, it appears quiet now between them, what is certain is that the governor and the lawmakers are not done yet with each other.
Salami and Jombo-Ofo Debacles
In many ways than one, the judiciary as an institution featured prominently in the outgoing year. From allegations of corruption levelled against it to the unprofessional conduct of its members, the judiciary has had a rather bad year. Although, the appointment of Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, was hailed by many as a move that would herald a new lease of life in that arm of government, subsisting cases of graft and unprofessionalism played their parts.
One of such cases was the lingering controversy on the suspension of former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami on August 18, 2011 by the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) for refusing to apologise to former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, who claimed that Salami lied on oath against him.
He had accused the former CJN of asking him to compromise the Sokoto Court of Appeal hearing in favour of Governor Aliyu Wamakko. This soon came with intrigues and subsequently muddled up in politics as he was further accused by some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of influencing Appeal Court judgment in the electoral cases of Ekiti and Osun States. Thus, the possibility of his return to office was compounded by a combination of legal and political forces that rose against him. Though, the NJC eventually decided to recall him, it is yet to materialise.
Apart from the Salami issue in specific, there was the case of Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, who was not sworn in by Mukhtar as a justice of the Court of Appeal because her state of origin was not the same she sought to represent. She has sought to represent Abia, her husband’s state of origin while she hails from Anambra.
This had attracted condemnation as Mukhtar’s action was considered discriminatory. The NJC later directed the CJN to swear-in Jombo-Ofo and that quelled the controversy as she had since assumed her place in the appellate court.
More than its attempts, the National Assembly appears determined to make good of the bid to review the 1999 Constitution, which many believe is long overdue and for obvious reasons. The current exercise, like the previous one, is being presided over by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha. They are both co-chairing the committee.
With the interests the current exercise has generated, Ekweremadu said the committee had received no fewer than 56 requests for state creation even as the committee had identified 16 critical areas for amendment, based on the frequency of occurrence in national discourse as well as reports gleaned from the last exercise.
President of the Senate, David Mark, had promised that the Senate would undertake a fundamental restructuring of the constitution. He claimed their determination was informed by an emerging consensus on the desirability of certain issues in the amendment process. He listed such issues to include devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, concept of federating units, system of local government administration including funding, creation and autonomy; Judicial reforms, creation of states, national security- terrorism and insurgency; boundary adjustment; further fine-tuning of the electoral system, state police, citizenship and indigeneship questions, role of traditional rulers and the prisons amongst others. The review exercise however remains one of the main issues that would dot the politics of 2013.
INEC’s Big Stick
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appears to be coming out stronger with a quiet reform in the electoral system, albeit within the powers conferred on it by law. INEC first bore its fang last year when it deregistered seven political parties, citing the provisions of section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. That section of the Act empowers it to deregister parties if there is breach in any of the requirements for registration or failure to make any impact in the elections.
But what seemed like a child’s play last year came out with a bang this year when the commission recently deregistered 28 parties, thereby pruning down the number of existing parties to 37. Not done yet, INEC, some days ago added three more parties to the list of unviable parties. In all, 34 parties remain active.
Those flushed out include the Democratic Alternative (DA), National Action Council (NAC), National Democratic Liberty Party (NDLP), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), Nigeria Peoples Congress (NPC), Nigeria Elements Progressive Party (NEPP) and National Unity Party (NUP), while those that are affected recently are African Liberation Party (ALP), Action Party of Nigeria (APN), African Political System (APS), Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Community Party of Nigeria (CPN), Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA), Freedom Party of Nigeria (FPN), Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Justice Party (JP), Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN), Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ) and Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD).
Others are the Nigeria Advanced Party (NAP), New Democrats (ND), National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP), National Movement of Progressive Party (NMPP), National Reformation Party (NRP), National Solidarity Democratic Party (NSDP), Progressive Action Congress (PAC), Peoples Mandate Party (PMP), Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), People’s Salvation Party (PSP), Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN), United National Party for Development (UNPD) and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP).
Expectedly, criticisms had since trailed the development and from different spheres of the system. While some disagreed with INEC, especially stakeholders in the affected parties, there were those who thought that INEC was not only empowered to do so but had also embraced the initiative at the nick of time.
Harvest of Deaths
As it winds up, the outgoing year has recorded a lot of tragic incidences which saw many prominent Nigerians lose their lives to both natural and human-induced causes. Among them were the newly promoted Deputy Inspector-General of Police, John Haruna, who lost his life in a helicopter crash in Jos, the Plateau State capital on March 14; Senator Gyang Datong who represented Plateau North in the Senate and Gyang Fulani, a member of Plateau State House of Assembly, both of whom lost their lives during a mass burial for their kinsmen on July 8.
Also gone with the outgoing year were Secretary General of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, who passed on September 28; former governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina, who died on November 11; retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kayode Esho, who passed on November 16 and Jonathan’s younger brother, Meni, who died in Abuja on November 20 after a protracted illness.
The year also took along former Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Andrew Azazi, who died on December 15 in Okoroba, Nembe area of Bayelsa State after a Navy Helicopter which convened them from the funeral of Pa Douglas, father of Jonathan’s aide, Oronto Douglas, crashed