2012: Defined By Death,

| December 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

Peering back at the significant political moments of 2012, LOUIS ACHI writes that it was a year defined by death, corruption, executive/legislative dithering, loss of political faith, compelling intrigues….and significantly – hope.

In 48 hours, the year 2013 kicks-in; then the familiar but necessary ritual of review. A review of the outgoing year serves to context the motion of history, highlight the key milestones, recall the events, processes, institutions and personalities that significantly impacted the period and subsequently set agenda for the incoming year – for the political leadership to try and navigate by. What were the significant events of 2012?

Fuel Subsidy Brouhaha
Politics and governance in January 2012, kicked off with a face-off between Nigerians and the federal government over the shock removal of fuel subsidy and subsequent increase in the pump price of petrol. According to the government, continuation of the petroleum subsidy regime had become unsustainable and was seriously hampering its capacity to deliver critical infrastructure to drive national economic transformation.

This action triggered a national strike and massive protests led by labour and civil society. Sensing danger, the government partially backed down and was forced to reduce the fuel hike to N97 per litre from N140. Subsequently, the federal government went after those behind subsidy scam.

The Reps Probe
One of the key fallouts of the massive national protests and strike associated with the effort to rest the subsisting subsidy regime was the sharp attention the entire sector and its drivers attracted. While the federal government told Nigerians it was moving against monumental theft in the petroleum arena, the House of Representatives set up a panel to probe to specifically verify subsidy claims by oil marketers – a business niche now increasingly perceived to have raised the practice of short-changing Nigeria with insider connivance into an art form.

Willy-nilly, on April 18, the Hon. Farouk Lawan-led House Ad Hoc Committee on Oil Subsidy Regime delivered a damning report that indicted many oil marketers and the government agencies that regulated the strategic sector. Topping the list in the latter category were the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). It came to light from the Reps committee findings that though N400 billion was appropriated for the fuel subsidy in the 2011 budget, over N1.3 trillion was expended for the service.

But the sense of heightened expectancy by Nigerians that finally a crushing blow will be dealt to the now identified oil robbers was curiously torpedoed by a US620,000 bribery scandal with the chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on Subsidy Regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan and chairman of Zenon Oil Gas, Femi Otedola.

It was a messy anti-climax to a seedy episode. Initially denying Otedola’s accusation that he demanded a $3million to give the billionaire oil magnate a clean bill of health and that he never collected the alleged $620,000 bribe, Lawan later summersaulted and accepted he collected the money.

Perhaps, the most important dimension to these developments is that at press time, no definitive actions have been taken against the duo of Otedola or Farouk. Further, the various oil marketers indicted by a federal government committee empanelled to verify subsidy claims are todate walking the roads free as the prosecution efforts by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, has been so far ineffective – a scenario many believe is contrived.

The PDP Convention
Also, early in the year, on the heels of the fuel subsidy protests, came the National Convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This was on February 10 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It turned to be something of a customary carnival. The current national executive of the party, led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, was constituted at the convention.

Ojukwu’s Burial
One month after the national convention of the PDP, came the week-long funeral rites of the ex-Biafran leader and twice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2003 and 2007 elections, respectively, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu- Ojukwu. The funeral train, which came with elaborate reception in Owerri, Aba, Enugu, Abakaliki and Awka, was rounded off with his burial at his home town of Nnewi, in Anambra State on March 3.

Politicians across the various ethnic divides and parties, including President Goodluck Jonathan, participated actively at various segments of the orchestra. The presidential presence gave an added gravity and glamour to the event.

Edo Governorship Poll
On July 10, the governorship election in Edo State took place. The pre-election campaign and the election proper generated intense turmoil, almost to a boiling point. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate and sitting governor, Adams Oshiomhole, alleged assassination attempts on him and some of his aides by supposed agents of the PDP.

But in the hotly contested battle, Comrade Oshiomhole, riding on a compelling track record of quality governance bested the opposition PDP and was directly congratulated by President Jonathan, a scenario that was to lead to in-house dissonance in Edo PDP.

Ondo Governorship Election
It was a David Vs. Goliath replay. Widely seen as a critical challenge to the Asijawu Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Action Congress of Nigeria, the Ondo State gubernatorial poll was another major event that heated up the political space in the intervening period. Labour Party’s Governor Olusegun Mimiko came out victorious, trumping the stern challenges of the opposition ACN and PDP. According to some analysts, the Ondo victory represents a focal point for an effective challenge to Tinubu’s leadership of the South-west in the near future.

Bayelsa Poll
Before the Edo and Ondo elections was the gubernatorial poll of Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s home state. The electionproper turned out to be a victory foretold. But the events that culminated in the removal from office of the former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva were of more significance and captivating.

His dalliance with the presidency was the stuff of political folklore. Predictably, Hon. Seriake Dickson coasted home with victory. Currently, he is developmentally and politically redefining the fortunes of Bayelsa State.

Boko Haram
For the year 2012, the Boko Haram group practically stole the show, in terms of the intensity of its bloody campaign in northern Nigeria, a situation that has economically prostrated the region and created extreme religious tension amongst the two major faiths. A key casualty of the group’s depredations includes General Owoye Azazi, former National Security Adviser who was sacked by the president and replaced with Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Within the period, US security reports have increasingly linked the group to other extremist movements outside Nigeria, like the feared Al Queada group.

APGA Crises
Though, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) had interminable seven-year long crises, fighting its founding national chairman Chief Chekwas Okorie, and its final resolution simply set the stage for another dimension of confrontation. This time around, it was between Governor Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh as the central antagonists.

The curious scenario lasted the year and is yet to abate. A new faction emerged and announced the sacking of the National Chairman Chief Victor Umeh and some members of his national executive.

Significantly, the two governors produced by the party were alleged to be backing the opposing factions. The situation not surprisingly deepened the crises immeasurably. At press time, reports indicate they have been able to cobble a makeshift and volatile unity.

UPP Registration
The prime actor in the perennial crises in APGA, Chief Chekwas Okorie in August surfaced with a new party, United Progressive Party, (UPP). Expectedly, it met with opposition from his key  rivals, Chief Umeh and others. These palpable rivals implored on INEC to the logo and emblem. But INEC went ahead and registered it.

Constitution Review:
The two chambers of the National Assembly in the out-going year embarked on a more holistic amendment of the 1999 constitution. As part of the constitution review exercise, the House of Representatives held a public session on the constitution across the 360 federal constituencies in the country.

The deputy governor of Taraba State, Sani Abubakar was impeached by the State House of Assembly for allegedly abusing his office. Other principal officers of the state assembly also received the hammer with Abubakar. The impeachment came as a shock to the former deputy governor who had initially thought he had been let off the hook by the legislature.

Before his eventual impeachment on October 4, Abubakar was first dropped from the National Merit Award honours’ list because of his problem with the state legislature. He was replaced by Hon. Lawal Jimoh.

In Bayelsa State, speaker of its parliament, Hon. Friday Johnson, was impeached on June 3. He was replaced by former Deputy Speaker Fini Angaye. But at the presidency’s intervention, the whole script was reversed and Johnson was reinstated.

Also, the Speaker of the  Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Bello Abdullahi was impeached by his colleagues on October 16. The impeachment which triggered chaos in the state parliament was believed to have the backing of the state governor, Captain Idris Wada, a speculation he promptly denied.

Following the rumpus that trailed the impeachment, the House of Representatives made moves to take over the functions of the Assembly. However, after series of interventions, Abdullahi was given a soft landing, as his impeachment was reversed. In return, he promptly resigned from office.

In Nasarawa State, Governor Umaru Al-Makura (CPC) is facing an impeachment threat by the state legislature. He was handed a seven-day ultimatum to find a solution to what appeared an unsolvable security crisis in some parts of the state. The Assembly’s Majority Leader Godiya Akwashiki (PDP) had on December 14 read out the riot act to Al-Makura. Significantly, the motion was seconded by House Minority Leader Adamu Maikatako (CPC).

Governors’ Air Crashes
The Cessna aircraft of Taraba State governor, Suntai Danbaba  piloted by the governor himself crashed on October 25. Danbaba and four of his aides who were on board with him sustaining very serious injuries. Since that crash, the governor has been in Germany where he is receiving treatment.

According to the State Commissioner of Information, Hon. Emmanuel Bello, the governor was removed from the intensive care unit of the German hospital and will be back to the state shortly, debunking allegations that Danbaba had become ‘brain-damaged’. Currently, the states erstwhile deputy governor,

On Saturday, December 15, there was another air crash involving the governor of  Kaduna State,  Patrick Yakowa. The crash which occurred in Okoroba, Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State claimed the lives of Yakowa, the immediate past National Security Adviser,  late General Andrew Azazi and four others.

Incidentally, the two air mishaps that left Danbaba hospitalised and Yakowa dead greatly altered the political calculations and power configurations in the respective states, especially in Kaduna State.

Deregistration of Political Parties: 
On December5, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced de-registration of twenty eight political parties. The commission in a statement said it took the action in exercise of the power conferred on it by Section 7 of the Electoral Act 2011. According to the section, “The commission (INEC) shall have powers to de-register political parties on the following grounds: (i) breach of any of the requirements for registration, and (ii) for failure to win a seat in the national or state assembly elections.”

The deregistration exercise provoked a tsunami of litigations with the affected parties heading to the courts to challenge the action of the electoral body. On December 21, INEC deregistered another 3 parties bringing the number of de-registered political parties in 2012, to 31.

The affected parties 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)
Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD)
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)
22. 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)
United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP)
African Renaissance Party (ARP)
National Democratic Party (NDP)
National Transformation Party (NTP)

President Jonathan/Obasanjo Battle
Political differences between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his protégé, President Goodluck Jonathan boiled over. His resignation as chairman of the ruling PDP’s Board of Trustees has been linked to the deepening face-off with Jonathan. A hushed cold-war eventually entered the public arena when president Jonatha in a media chat condemned the Odi military invasion ordered by Obasanjo as president.

This slap on the wrist was an obvious response to Obasanjo’s veiled criticism of the poor handling of the nation’s security crisis and allusion to his (Obasanjo’s) decisive handling of Odi insurrection during his presidency.

Obasanjo’s fiery fight-back through his former aide Femi Fani-Kayode only served to up the ante on the godfather-godson feud.

Opposition Parties’ Merger Moves
Watched carefully by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition parties in the country strategize on a major merger that could topple the PDP. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are currently in merger talks, a project whose outcome cannot be clearly forecast because of the intense underlying intrigues.

Subsidy: Governors Challenge FG
Under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum, the 36 state governors took the federal government to the Supreme Court in December, challenging what they belived was federal government’s wrong, unilateral deductions from the federation account to fund the fuel subsidy regime between 2007 and 2012.

The legal challenge kicked-in while the two parties were trying to resolve the issue politically following an earlier challenge against the federal government over transfers from the now defunct excess crude account to sovereign wealth fund set up by the federal government last year.

Probes by NASS
Amongst the key probes conducted by the National Assembly in the out-going year included the Senate probe of Bureau of Public Enterprise and pension scheme – all controversial exercises. The House of Representatives on its part probed the fuel subsidy regime, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) which oversees the capital market. Both chambers probed the fuel subsidy regime which was eventually stalemated by the Otedola/Farouk saga.

Igbo Presidency Clamour
Led by the former governor of Abia State, Dr, orji Uzor Kalu, the clamour for a president of Igbo extraction in 2015 reached a crescendo in the out-going year. Speaking and reaching out to various political blocks Kalu has told Nigerians that justice and fairness makes it a political imperative that the Igbo should produce the next Nigerian president.

His moves are being carefully watched by the north which covets the position and the south-south which are currently enjoying the hosting rights of the plum position.

Significantly, his moves have enlisted other politically important voices from the South-east to join the orchestra.

2012 saw a harvest of deaths of prominent Nigerians – and not so prominent. In Plateau State over 200 villagers were killed in Riyom and Barkin Ladi local government by suspected Fualani herdsmen who were alleged on revenge missions for their own folk allegedly killed by the natives and cattle pillaged. Part of the causalities included Honourable Gyang Datong, a Plateau State parliamentarian. 

In February, Dr. Mathew Mbu, diplomat, lawyer and politician of note died at a London Hospital, aged 82. On November 14, an era in Kwara and national politics came to a close with the death of Dr. Olusola Saraki, the preeminent political godfather of that realm. He died from a protracted cancer ailment. Former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina also died on November 11.

Eminent jurist and Suprem Court justice, Kayode Eso breathed his last  on November 16 in a London hospital, aged 87. Meni Jonathan, brother of president Jonathan died on November 20 from cardiac arrest. Zulaiha, the daughter of former head of state, General Buhari died after child birth in November 29.

In a year that saw many kidnaps, the one incident that stole the show was the kidnap of mother of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – 82-year old Professor Kamene Okonjo. Though released after a week unharmed it remained unclear whether ransome was paid to her abductors to free her.

Despite, a year of infamy, the fact that Nigeria is still standing – bloodied but standing – provides hope for the survival of the nation state. This has been a recurring position by a broad section of stakeholders.

Culled from :Here

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