10 Political Events That Shaped 2017
The year 2017 that ends today has been one of the most challenging years in the history of Nigeria.
From the social, economic and political points of view, 2017 has been very eventful and will no doubt leave a sour taste in the mouths of some Nigerians as it folds its wings.
Certain key events dominated the political space in 2017, enlivening the polity and at some points, even threatening its very core.
Here are ten political events that shaped the year 2017 in Nigeria.
1. President Muhammadu Buhari’s Ill-Health
Perhaps the most defining political moment was the ill-health of President Muhammadu Buhari, which affected almost every aspect of governance in the country.
During his medical trips, there were several versions of who was actually in charge, unofficially, between then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the Aso Rock cabal.
There was also the issue of his real and authentic state of health, with rumours of his alleged death in social media, at a time forcing his handlers to organise guided visits to the President at Nigeria House in London and splashing of the photograph of an emaciated and recuperating Buhari in the media to prove that he was alive and well.
But that only doused the agitation for a while, as more Nigerians soon began to clamour for his return to govern or resign if he could not continue in office due to ill health, as provided in the constitution.
This peaked with protests in Abuja and Lagos, and soon London, under the hashtag - #ResumeorResign.
He finally returned to Nigeria after 103 days hail and hearty.
2. The Removal Of Babachir Lawal As SGF
The removal of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal was one of the actions of the Buhari-led governmnet that was greeted with resounding commendation.
Lawal was indicted by the Senate for breach of law and due process over contract on the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
But the Presidency accused the senate of not giving the former SGF fair hearing before arriving at its conclusion.
However, when news of the Osborne loot discovery broke and the name of the Director General, NIA was mentioned, the government in an attempt to exonerate itself of miscarriage of justice on the matter affecting former SGF, hurriedly suspended both Lawal and Ayo Oke and set up a three-man panel chaired by Prof Yemi Osibanjo to investigate their alleged involvement.
The committee has long submitted its findings but the findings are yet to be made public.
Lawal has since been replaced by Boss Mustapha but no charges have been brought against him before any court of law till date.
3. Calls For Restructuring
A fallout of the agitation by pro-Biafra organisations like IPOB resulted in calls by other zones, particularly the South-West and the North-Central, for the restructuring of the country.
Leaders of the agitated geo-political zones at different gatherings drummed support for a total overhaul of the country’s political and economic structures, saying it is the only way out of the myriad of socio-political and economic problems facing the country.
4. Aisha Alhassan’s Declaration Of Support For Atiku For 2019 Presidency:
One of the issues that caught the attention of Nigerias in 2017 was the rare show of courage exhibited by the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan when she declared that she will support her political god-father, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for 2019.
Aisha Alhassan said: “I would support former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar even if President Muhammadu Buhari declares to contest in 2019.
“And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that, ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister, but Baba just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
5. Oyegun Survives Plots To Remove Him As APC Chairman
Before the ruling APC held its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last October, plots to sack its national chairman, John Oyegun was rife.
The former Edo state governor had a stalemated meeting of the statutory organ of the party to ward off the speculated impeachment plot.
But at the end of the national caucus and NEC meetings, leaders of the party led by President Muhammadu Buhari passed a vote of confidence in the National Working Committee led by Oyegun.
His tenure terminates first quarter of 2018, as he assumed office in 2014.
6. INEC Registers More Parties
Ahead of forthcoming general elections in 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the leadership of Professor Mahmoud Yakubu increased the number of political parties in the country to 67.
7. Anambra Governorship Election
In November, Governor Willie Obiano was re-elected as the governor of Anambra State via a landslide victory despite the gang up against his re-election, especially by his former political godfather and former governor of the State, Peter Obi, who has since defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Thirty-six candidates contested the election but Obiano won in all the 21 local government areas of the State.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Obiano, who flew the flag of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), polled 234, 071 votes to defeat his closest rival, Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 98, 752 votes, while the PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze, came third with 70,293 votes.
8. Atiku Dumps APC, Rejoins PDP
Former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, last November resigned his membership of the ruling APC. Atiku premised his action on what he called arbitrariness and lack of due process in the party.
His letter of resignation read in part: “While other parties have purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalisation, the All Progressives Congress has adopted those same practices and even gone beyond them to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced.”
Atiku has since returned to the erstwhile ruling party, the PDP.
9. PDP Convention
As far as political survival is concerned, 2017 was a defining year for the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The outgoing year measurably saw to the end of its 14 months leadership crisis.
The PDP gained the needed confidence to rebuild, fixing an elective convention for early December.
Though the national leadership zoned the post to the South, many people had talked of micro-zoning and the need for the South-West to produce the national chairman of the party for the time.
At the party’s National Convention held on December 9, Secondus went ahead to win the election but not without protestations from the like of Professor Adeniran and Professor Taoheed Adedoja, with the latter heading to the court to challenge the outcome of the convention.
The main bone of contention at the convention, which was dogged by lists of different nomenclatures containing the names of aspirants for different party positions, was the alleged hijacking of posts by governors and their cronies.
A new faction of the party known as Fresh PDP has, however, emerged from the crisis that followed the controversial convention.
10. Buhari Gives Hints Of Contesting In 2019
Also in the outgoing year, President Buhari seemed to have given a hint on his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election.
The President, who had been tactical about 2019, despite the declaration of loyalty by governors and endorsement of his candidature by members of the party in some states, appeared to have let the cat out of the bag in Cote d’Ivoire while addressing Nigerians in the country, when he said: “This is why I came along with them [governors] so that when we are going to meet you, when you are going to meet the rest of Nigerians, if you tell them that their governors were in the company of the president, I think that will be another vote for me in the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up,” Mr. Buhari said to thunderous laughter and clapping by the audience.”
The President had also, during a two-day working visit to Kano State, few weeks ago, reiterated the hint to seek a second term in 2019 by saying that “I’m overwhelmed by the sea of heads I see, and by what I see today, if elections are contested, I have no doubt I will win it. I know the elections. If they are to be free and fair, if it is a question of numbers, if it is a question of allowing people to make their choice, then I think the people of Kano are in my pocket.”