BY CHARLES KUMOLU
GIVEN that 2011 was an election year, Nigerians welcomed the year with high expectations. Seven days to the end of the year, 2011 no doubt, would remain indelible in the minds of Nigerians on account of series of events, especially political and security matters that kept the citizenry on their toes.
Jonathan emerges PDP Presidential candidate
For the first time in the history of the country, a South-Southerner, a region that produces the bulk of crude oil accounting for over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign revenue was given the ticket of the ruling party to run for the presidency. President Goodluck Jonathan emerged the presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for the April general elections at the Special National Convention of the party held at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
He polled 2, 736 votes to defeat former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who polled 805 votes. The emergence of Jonathan at the PDP presidential primaries, amid fierce opposition from a section of leaders of the northern parts of the country, no doubt was among the loudest issues of 2011. And the victory further deepened the crisis surrounding the zoning policy of the PDP.
Ibori extradited to UK
Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, after a long battle with the law in United Arab Emirates was extradited to the United Kingdom, to face trials in the UK over alleged money laundering .
Ibori, who resisted arrest by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria, was arrested in his Dubai mansion and taken to an extradition processing centre from where he was later flown to the UK.
Jonathan emerges President
At the April 16 polls, Jonathan became the first South-Southerner to be elected President of the country after he won 22.5 million votes, 57 percent of votes cast, compared to 12.2 million votes or 31 percent, for his nearest rival Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
ACN’s resurgence in the south West
Results of governorship elections in three South West states of Lagos, Oyo, and Ogun stopped the ambition of the PDP, to control any state in the region. The big wins for the rival Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, came from Ogun and Oyo states, which had been under PDP’s control since 2003.
The development was the last straw that broke PDP’s back after they lost Ekiti and Osun states to the ACN through judicial pronouncements. ACN’s winning streak continued to the various National Assembly seats, including state Houses of Assembly except in Ondo State where the ruling Labour Party had an impressive showing.
Following President Jonathan’s victory, post_election violence erupted in several cities in Northern Nigeria. This was based on allegations that incumbent ’Jonathan and his ruling party rigged the polls.
Although the exercise was described as free and fair, angry youths, said to be supporters of Buhari, a former military ruler, took to the streets of Muslim-dominated Northern region of the country barricading building, burning properties and killing people.
At the end about 800 people, including members of the National Youth Service Corps ,NYSC, were reportedly killed.
On May 11, 2011, the 22_member Sheik Lemu panel was inaugurated to investigate post-2011 election violence in some states including a pre_election violence in Akwa Ibom State. The panel was given six weeks to submit its report.
Justice Salami’s removal/judiciary crisis
A deep-seated acrimony between former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Alloysius Katsina Alu and ex President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami over the Sokoto state election petition, smeared the Judiciary in 2011. President Jonathan was to approve the compulsory retirement of embattled Salami for misconduct and replaced him with Justice Dalhatu Adamu.
The President in a statement signed by Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, noted that his decision was in line with section 238(4) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The action elicited condemnations from some Nigerians, including the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, which said that the President did not follow due process and rule of law in endorsing the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC in suspending Salami from office over his feud with Katsina-Alu.
Bankole’s arrest and trial
Within the year under review, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and his Deputy Usman Nafada were arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N40 billion graft.
Single tenure controversy
Barely four months into the life of the present administration, the presidency announced a proposal for a single term of six years for the office of the President and Governors while the National and State Assembly members will have renewable terms of four years for as long as the electorate returned them.
The proposed Bill if passed will take effect in 2015 after President Jonathan’s first tenure. It is not clear if President Jonathan will be eligible to run for another term if the Bill is passed.
According to a statement signed by Presidential Spokesperson, Reuben Abati, the Bill was aimed at putting to rest the series of political acrimony and bitterness that elections generate both at Federal, states and even Local Government level after every four years.
This bill, however, earned the President more enemies than admirers, as it was seen as a ploy by Jonathan to stay beyond his 2015 exit year.
Detention of Daniel, Akala and Doma by EFCC
In a move that surprised some observers, the EFCC arrested and arraigned four former governors: Chiefs Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Alhaji Aliu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa); and Danjuma Goje (Gombe) over alleged misappropriation huge sums of money while in office.
While Daniel was held over an alleged misapplication of N58 billion while in office between May 2003 and May 29, 2011, Alao_Akala, was picked up by the anti-graft agency from his Ibadan home one morning as he was preparing to leave for the funeral ceremony of a former governor of the state, Chief Kolapo Ishola.
He was taken to Lagos and flown to Abuja and was detained for allegedly misappropriating N25 billion while in office as governor up till May 29, last year.
In the same vein, Doma was arrested at Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State, by the EFCC operatives and driven to the Abuja offices of the agency. He was picked up over an allegation that he misappropriated N18 billion while in office.
Afenifere members alleged bribe
Former Chief Security Officer to Late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza al_Mustapha, during one of his trials, spewed judicial testimonies capable of radically changing what Nigerians thought about June 12 and MKO Abiola’s death.
Mustapha alleged that Yoruba leaders allegedly accepted bribe from Abulsalami Abubakar in the wake of Abiola’s death and produced a memo and video tape that were supposed to throw more light on the events that took place after Abiola’s death.
However, upon further scrutiny, it was observed that the Yoruba leaders led by late Chiefs Abraham Adesanya indeed visited Aso but it could not be proved if they collected money from the Head of State.
Emergence of Tambuwal as speaker of House of Representatives
Another issue that vibrated all around the country, was the emergence of Aminu Tambuwal as the speaker of the House of Representatives. Tambuwal scored 252 votes to beat his PDP hierarchy-backed opponent, Rep. Mulikat Akande_Adeola (PDP_Oyo) who scored 90 votes.
The race for the Speaker of the House of Representatives between Tambuwal and Mulikat Akande-Adeola generated a lot of interest. Tambuwal had the support of the majority of members, who were bent on working against the PDP zoning formula, which ceded the post to the South-West geo-political zone, which fell to the ACN at the polls.
Mulikat Akande_Adeola (from the South-West) was said to be enjoying the backing of the PDP. The South_West caucus of the PDP had earlier backed Murana Ajibola for the position.
The exercise, however, further upset the political equation in this dispensation, thereby making the South West the least zone in terms of political representation.
Buhari’s alleged indictment
The alleged indictment of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Presidential Candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari by the Presidential Committee on Post_Election Violence in parts of the country, confirmed earlier claims that Buhari’s actions and inactions contributed to the crisis.
The panel allegedly established that Buhari’s provocative remarks played a role in the bloody violence that led to the death of 10 members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and hundreds of others after last April’s presidential polls.
Apart from Buhari’s utterances, the panel said that the government’s failure to implement reports of past commissions and panels on ethno_religious and political crises also contributed to the post_election violence and urged the government to implement the reports.
But in a swift twist similar to movie stories, the panel recanted its claims and exonerated Buhari.
Removal of Farida Waziri
Following claims that the leadership style of Farida Waziri’ as EFCC chairman, dented the reputaion of the presidency, President Goodluck Jonathan approved the sack of Waziri.
Special Adviser to President Good luck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said that her removal “is part of President Jonathan’s determination to revitalise the fight against corruption”.
Okonjo Iweala’s appointment
In an apparent move to have a sound cabinet, President Jonathan, had in August appointed Ngozi Okonjo_Iweala as Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy.
Okonjo_Iweala resigned her position at the World Bank to take up the post of in a country where enormous economic potential has been held back by deeply rooted corruption and mismanagement.
Her appointment was among those announced by Jonathan after he won the April elections on a pledge to transform the continent’s most populous nation.
Shortly before the swearing in of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as the Minister of Finance, President Goodluck Jonathan threatened to sack any minister that failed to cooperate with her.
Ndume’s arrest for alleged romance with Boko Haram
Allegations that activities of Boko Haram sect, had the support of some politicians, appears to have been corroborated with the arrest of Senator Ali Ndume. He was detained in connection with links to the Islamic militant group. He was to face terrorism charges at an Abuja Magistrate court.
The Peoples Democratic Party Senator, Ndume from Borno had earlier confessed to knowing the spokesperson of the dreaded Boko Haram sect operating in the northeastern parts of Nigeria.
Senator Ndume represents Borno South Senatorial District at the Nigerian senate.
The Boko Haram spokesperson, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, aka, “Usman Al-Zawahiri” was arrested and paraded in public by the State Security Services (SSS).
He spoke openly about Senator Ndume’s support in helping the group frame threat messages to various politicians and Nigerian officials via text messages.
The embattled senator was arraigned alongside the self_confessed spokesperson of the Boko Haram sect, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (A.K.A) Usman Al_Zawahiri at magistrate court Abuja and has been released on bail.
Arrest of Nation Newspaper Editors
In a move reminiscent of the military era, men of the State Security Services, SSS, arrested four senior editors of The Nation Newspaper, its Managing Editor (Northern Operations) Alhaji Yusuf Ali; the Abuja Bureau Chief, Mr Yomi Odunuga; Deputy Editor, Mr Lasisi Ogienagbon and the News Editor, Weekend Titles, Mr Dapo Olufade.
The security men, who were said to be in mufti, were said to have arrested them in connection with the publication of a letter allegedly written by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to President Goodluck Jonathan, recommending the sack of some directors_general of some federal parastatal agencies.
The Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and former Biafran leader who doubled as the leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) passed on in London.
Ojukwu was ill for some time and had been on admission in a hospital in the United Kingdom.
His death, was generally mourned across the world, as friends and foes alike spoke glowingly about his person, but differed on his role in nation-building. It also opened another chapter in Nigeria’s journey to nationhood, as many have come to describe Ojukwu as an unfinished business