December 30, 2023

2023: Year of hardship, killings, political intrigues, toughest presidential poll

2023: Year of hardship, killings, political intrigues, toughest presidential poll


•How Emilokan, Atikulate, Obedients shaped polity
•Insecurity, and violence claim 6,645 lives
•Akintola Williams, Nwabueze, Ezeife, Akeredolu, Na’Abba, hordes of eminent Nigerians die

By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor

YEAR 2023 which will expire tomorrow is a year that most Nigerians will like to forget in a hurry.

Reason: It began on a hard note and ended on a harder note for a host of the citizenry.

Although, eventful politically on account of the high-wire intrigues that characterised the 2023 general elections especially the presidential poll, 2023 left a sour taste in the mouths of many.

Practically, the country remained a killing field as had been witnessed since 2015 and amplified by the Christmas Eve attacks in 25 communities across three LGAs in Plateau State by gunmen that left 195 persons dead.

Murderous Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, gunmen, ritualists and kidnappers had a field day wreaking havoc in many parts of the country despite the gallant efforts of the security agencies.

Saturday Vanguard’s tally of media reported cases showed that no fewer than 6,645 lives were lost to violence and various forms of insecurity across the country in 2023. This figure is conservative as many cases are not reported or under-reported.

Apart from violence, many lives were also wasted on the highways, waterways and in disasters such as inferno and landslide.

For instance, an error bombing by the Nigerian Army killed no fewer than 85 locals in Kaduna recently. A landslide in Abuja claimed 30 lives on September 8. An inferno killed 35 people at an illegal oil refining site at Ibaa community in Emohua LGA, Rivers State. No fewer than 100 persons lost their lives in a boat mishap at Egbu village in Pategi LGA, Kwara State on June 12.

A host of eminent Nigerians also died in 2023.

How 2023 began

The year began on a turbo-charged note with hardship. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, redesigning of N1000, N500 and N200 notes, policy on withdrawal of old notes and cash limit led to prolonged cash scarcity and attendant hardship. At a stage people had to pay N3000 to get N10,000 from Point of Sale, POS, operators as banks had little or no cash to dispense.

At a stage, the Naira policy was said to be meant to check vote-buying at the 2023 general polls.

After the polls, President Bola Tinubu’s immediate removal of fuel subsidies and multiple exchange rate, on taking on May 29, came with inevitable economic pains. The exchange rate of Naira to dollar has moved from N500 to N1200 in the black market while fuel prices jumped from N198 to between N568 and N630. Currently, the costs of transportation, food and other products have tripled compared to what they were last year up to May 29, 2023.

Political intrigues

Being an election year, 2023 was laced with high-wire political intrigues and bickering as leading politicians battled for the tickets of the various political parties.

Riding on the crest of Emilokan (it is my turn) and his political goodwill of 30 years across the country, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, subdued many entrenched interests to win the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential ticket.

In the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the intrigues over the failure to agree on zoning of the presidential ticket led to ‘balkanisation’ of the party.

Former Anambra State Governor and 2019 Vice Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, left the PDP for the Labour Party, LP, and picked its presidential ticket as his Obedients Movement gained traction.

Former Kano State Governor and Defence Minister, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso also left the PDP and landed the presidential ticket of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP.

Then Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who came second at the PDP presidential primaries to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, led a group of five PDP governors who wanted power shift to the South. In this group were Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).

How Emilokan, Atikulate, Obedients shaped polity

With the trio of Emilokan, Artikulate and Obedient on the prowl, Nigeria was primed for her toughest presidential election and it panned out so.

The February 25, 2023 presidential election was the keenest and also the worst voter turnout in the history of balloting in Nigeria.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared Tinubu as the winner. Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to beat Atiku, his closest challenger, with 1.81 million votes, the lowest margin since 1979. Atiku got 6,984,520 votes in the election. Tinubu had 34.78 per cent of the votes cast.

With 25.3 million voters or 27 per cent of the 93.469 million registered voters taking part, the February 25 poll also recorded the worst voters turnout ever.

Tinubu won in 12 states to beat Atiku of the PDP, who came second with 6,984,520 votes and also won in 12 states.
The Labour Party, LP, Candidate, Mr Peter Obi, polled 6,101,533 votes to place a close third. He also won 11 states and the FCT.

Former Governor of Kano State and New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Candidate, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, came fourth with 1,496,687 votes. He won in Kano.

Battle in court

Atiku and Obi kicked against Tinubu’s victory citing irregularities, violence, failure of the INEC to transmit results electronically as it assured before the election, and falsification of academic records against Tinubu among others. They went to the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC and Supreme Court. Both courts validated Tinubu’s election.

The seven issues the courts resolved in favour of Tinubu include:

•INEC substantially complied with the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitution in the conduct of the poll
•Election cannot be nullified due to unavailability of results on INEC’s IReV portal

•Failure to secure 25 per cent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja cannot invalidate a winner’s election

•Petitioners did not prove allegations of rigging against Tinubu
•The issue of APC’s double nomination of Vice President Kashim Shettima had earlier been decided by the court on May 26, 2023

•Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460, 000 drug money was raised when the Respondents had already filed their process
•Petitioners did not provide alternative results to INEC’s figures.

Tinubu’s controversial footprints on political landscape

•Got his preferred choices elected as senate and Reps principal officers
•Nominated ministers within 60 days as prescribed by the law.
•Got 45 of his 48 ministerial nominees screened and confirmed by the Senate
•Dropped a nominee without informing her as she was at the National Assembly for the screening exercise.
•Reshuffled his cabinet before swearing in. The first of its kind
•Swore in ministers on August 21 without retreat.
•Moved the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting from Wednesday to Monday.
•Intervened in political crisis in Ondo, Rivers

Akintola Williams, Nwabueze, Ezeife, Akeredolu, Na’Abba, hordes of eminent Nigerians die

A host of eminent Nigerians died in 2023.

Such Nigerians include: revered Chartered Accountant, Chief Akintola Williams, who died at 104; Elder Statesman and legal luminary, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, who died on October 30, aged 94; and former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who died at 85.

The death list includes former Ohanaeze President-General and Insurance guru, Professor Joe Irukwu; former Ohanaeze Deputy President, Dr Sylvan Ebigwei, who died at 80; Senator Annie Okonkwo; former NBA president and Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, 67; and Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, 65.

Year 2023 also claimed the lives of Peace Anyiam- Osigwe, a trailblazing filmmaker; Veteran actor, Sunday Akanbi Akinola, 80; Veteran Nollywood actor, Ojo Arowosafe (Fadeyi Oloro), 66; Veteran actor and movie producer Obinna Nwafor (Saint Obi, 57; Artiste, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, aka Mohbad, 27; and Actress, Cynthia Okeke.

Others include Labour Party Enugu East senatorial candidate, Oyibo Chukwu, was shot dead when his vehicle was attacked and later set ablaze a few days before the National Assembly election; Uchenna Ikonne, Abia State governorship candidate of the PDP; Stella Effah-Attoe, national woman leader of the PDP; and Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, 87.

Pa Akinkunmi was an agriculturist and electrical engineer. He was the one who designed the Nigerian flag.