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2015: A Remarkable Year In so Many Ways, Good And Not So Good

Buhari

Buhari

THE outgoing year has been historic in some ways. Among other things, it is one to remember for a long to come for the former opposition, now ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), having won the April general elections at the centre, with President Muhammadu Buhari now at the saddle, and many states with its governors at the helm of affairs.

For the then ruling, now opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, it is a year its members would want to forget in a jiffy, except learn from the mistakes that cost then the election and power.

In so many sectors, it has been a slide. From the dwindling revenue occasioned by falling crude oil price from about $100 to less than $40 per barrel, to rising inflation due to the depreciation of the local currency from about $1 to N190 to the current $1 to N250, it has been stories of gloom for the economy and Nigerians.

These have been worsened by revelations of corruption and corrupt practices in the last administration, especially the arms deal scandal, through which billions of naira and foreign currencies have allegedly been siphoned into private pockets in what seems to be an inglorious bazaar.

More revelations and prosecution of those involved will surely shape next year, more so as government is in dire need of funds now.

Dwindling fortunes have left many state government unable to pay their workers’ salaries regularly, with almost all of them owing workers in one way or the other, with no end in sight, as the economic crunch bikes harder.

Now, many of them, openly or secretly, are toying with the idea of a reduction, rather than the expected increase, of the minimum wage for public workers, just as the Labour waits in the corner to ambush any such thought.

Inadequate and erratic power supply has made matters worse for the citizens/residents and industries, big and small.

As if these are not enough, the perennial and lingering fuel crisis is increasing the burden on the masses, as many queue endlessly at filling stations for petrol either to power their vehicles or generating sets, where electricity from the national grid remains epileptic.

The spate of insecurity and bombing/killings by Boko Haram insurgents, especially in the northeast part of the country is another headache in 2015.

Though the rejigged military have retaken more of the occupied territories from the insurgents, safe for the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, their asymmetric attacks of soft targets still is an issue of concern.

It is also a year characterised by some high-profile deaths, like Mrs. H.I.D. Awolowo; Chief Gamaliel Onosode; Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse 11; etc.

Abroad, it was a year that witnessed one of the worst migrations into Europe, especially from war-torn Syria.

In all, 2015 has been as remarkable as historic, particularly for Nigeria and Nigerians, who can only wish for a better 2016, despite the gloomy picture.

OBVIOUSLY the most dominant and visible is the April elections that brought a peculiar change of government.

Jonathan

Jonathan

For the first time in Nigeria’s elections and governance, there was a transition from the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Despite a postponement to enable PDP tidy up things, especially insecurity, and in spite of rising tension and apprehension, the general election.

Even the he United States (US) admitted that the elections were the most significant achievement this year.

Its Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Steven Feldstein, said it was more because an opposition party won the Presidency.

“During the Nigeria’s last elections, widespread violence did not break out, as was feared. Where there were instances of electoral violence or allegations of fraud, we expect Nigerian authorities to continue investigations and take appropriate measures,” he stated in New York.

The general elections, which were initially scheduled to start on February 14 with the presidential and National Assembly ballots, were postponed by six weeks due to national insecurity and lack of proper distribution of Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs); hence to give the military more time retake and secure all parts of the country from Boko Haram insurgents.

The elections finally held on March 28 without the anticipated violence, probably because of the outcome.

APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari defeated then incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of PDP.

Also very significant is the acceptance of the election result by Jonathan, who did not wait till the end of the exercise before congratulating Buhari, somewhat against all expectations, even from his own party.

Two weeks later, the table also turned in many states during the governorship election, as the APC won in most of them, defeat incumbent PDP governors in some of the states.
IT was not quite different in the National Assembly poll, as APC repeated the same feat, taking over both the Senate and House of Representatives from PDP.

But the euphoria soon waned off as of squabbles emerged over the leadership of both chambers.

After weeks of scheming and horse-trading, and against the party’s choice and decision to enforce discipline, Senator Bukola Saraki, with the collaboration of PDP senators on the floor at a time most of their APC colleagues were holding a meeting miles away, emerged Senate President.

Against all odds and even the norms, PDP was able to get its own,
Ike Ekweremadu, to retain his position as deputy senate president.

In the House, a similar scenario played out, as Yakubu Dogara emerged Speaker, as Femi Gbajabiamila, who had been anointed by the party.

Gbajabiamila was later compensated the post of House Leader.

But the dust is yet to fully settle in both chambers. Indeed, the battle is far from over for Saraki, as he was charged and is standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false declaration of assets.
THE two governorship elections subsequently in Kogi and Bayelsa states were inconclusive in the first ballot.

Instructively, these are the first election to be conducted by the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) under the new Chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu.

But Yakubu sees nothing to worry about, saying it is a reflection of the competitiveness of the polls, which he stressed, is improving.

Depending on where one stands, it is either a sign of better things to come, or sliding performance of the electoral body.

While that of Kogi has been concluded and a winner emerged, the remain poll in Southern Ijaw next month would determine who carries the day between Governor Seriake Dickson of PDP and former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva of APC.
THE political atmosphere is ending with agitation for a Biafran nation by a group called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Its leaders, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently detained and facing charges of treason.

Protests over his continued detention, despite an earlier court ruling ordering his release has led to deaths in Onitsha, Anambra State.

It remains a situation to watch in the new year.

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