Every year comes with its defining moments and the things that make it memorable.

Year 2018 was not different.

It was the year of the unpredictable, high or dashed hopes. For many Nigerians, it was a mixture of the good, bad, and the ugly; leaving behind tales of sweet or sour.

It was an interesting year in Nigeria’s political space.  There was enough political drama that would not be forgotten in a hurry.

Coming a year before the 2019 general elections, there were pointers at the beginning of the year that 2018 would be dramatic.

2018 represented a year of striking happenings -  elections were lost and won; politicians took turns to jump ship in search of new agendas; but most important, the Senate became a House of Cards.

One state governor swapped the throne for a prison cell; one Senator won round one of a governorship election while another Senator decided who will seat on the throne; a senator jumped off a moving police truck; rumours emerged of Nigeria’s President being a clone; for the first time a Lagos governor was denied a second term ticket by his own party.

Polity-wise, 2018, was indeed a year of many colours.

There are too many political events that shaped the outgoing year. We bring you what we consider the highlights of the 12-month show.

New Governors

Ekiti State got a new governor. APC’s Kayode Fayemi was returned as governor of the state after defeating Kolapo Olusola of the PDP.

The Ekiti election was arguably one of the most anticipated in Nigeria’s recent history as it was mainly between Fayose and Fayemi.

Ekiti was the only South-West state not controlled by the ruling party APC. The party had planned to use its victory at the polls to strengthen its chances ahead of the presidential election.

More importantly, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government wanted to use the election to reduce the powers of the former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose.

Buhari and Fayose have been at it since the campaign during the 2015 presidential election.

Fayose had described Buhari as unfit to be Nigeria’s president and gone to the extent of publishing controversial advertisements in some national dailies, suggesting that the current President could die in office if elected.

Although Buhari went on to win the 2015 presidential election, it has not stopped Fayose from being one of the biggest critics of the President’s administration.

Money also played a major role in the Ekiti election which affected the outcome of the polls.

The political fraud was given the name ‘see and buy’, with party agents invading polling units with bags of money.

They approached voters who had PVCs and coaxed them to vote for their parties. The APC and the PDP were alleged to have taken the lead in this practice.

Osun was another state that had a new governor in the person of Gboyega Oyetola as former governor Rauf Aregbesola who had governed since 2010 bowed out.

The election was also not without its own controversies.

From the certificate scandal of the PDP's candidate, the secret vote-buying, to the re-run controversy, the wooing of Ife strong man Iyiola Omisore and eventual emergence of the winner, the election has gone down in the history of the country as one of the most keenly contested.

The Osun and Ekiti elections topped the top 10 list of trending news searches in Google in 2018.

Oyetola sworn-in as new governor of Osun

Party Primaries

The guidelines and timetable provided by INEC for the 2019 general elections stipulated that the submission of party candidates’ names for the various elective positions must not exceed the year under review.

To this end, the last quarter of the year saw all the parties conducting primaries to pick their candidates.

While there were more intense post primaries crises in APC with petitions, the PDP was able to have its primaries without lots of backlash.

Of all the primaries, the most intriguing was the governorship primaries of the APC in Lagos State.

The Governor, The Emperor And The Chosen One

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was denied a second term ticket on the APC platform.

Days before the governorship primary election, Ambode was on everyone’s lips after rumours emerged that he had lost the support of his former godfather Bola Tinubu and that of the APC grassroots structure.

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, Ambode had a meltdown at a World Press Conference he had put together, labeling his opponent for the primary ticket, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a phony who sprayed fake dollars at a nightclub and who is mentally unstable after recuperating in a rehab.

Ambode eventually lost the primary election to Sanwo-Olu.

At the presidential level, President Buhari got the nod of his party to seek a second term.

While Vice President Atiku Abukakar emergence as the PDP presidential candidate came to the front burner, his choice of Peter Obi as his running mate became one of the most talked-about issues in 2017.

Abubakar defeated 11 other aspirants to get the ticket, making him the main challenger to President Buhari in the 2019 election.

Obi’s choice did not go down well with governors elected on the platform of the party and leaders from the South-East zone.

They expressed dissatisfaction and objected the manner Obi was chosen as their party’s vice presidential candidate.

The leaders complained about not been consulted by Atiku before he settled for Obi, a former governor of Anambra State.

While Atiku's name came up as one of the most searched names on Google in 2018, the identity of his deputy was also listed as one of Nigeria’s most asked questions on Google in the year. 

The Great Crossover

Controversy is another name for Senate President Bukola Saraki and he continues to wear it like a badge of honour.

In 2018, Saraki was cleared of corruption charges by the Supreme Court.

He then had to face ab avalanche of impeachment attempts by the APC until his open defection to the PDP.

Saraki was not done yet. He masterminded the defection of his colleagues and cronies, contested for the presidency, was linked to robbery in his home state of Kwara and was appointed Director General of the Atiku campaign.

Hate him or love him but its hard not to admire his tact always being one step ahead in the game.

It says a lot about Saraki’s political brinkmanship that he is ending 2018 as Senate President, masterfully sidestepping and evading all the land mines thrown his way by the APC.


Akapbio, EFCC and the People

The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State continues to refer to his defection to the APC as “uncommon”.

Akpabio’s defection was the equivalent of a big money summer signing for the governing APC, given his brash brand of politics, grassroots appeal in his home state and bare knuckled disposition.

His defection to the APC in August was a carnival affair, with thousands thronging the Ikot Ekpene township stadium to watch him speak through a sore throat.

Akpabio has been accused of being behind the move by 5 lawmakers to impeach his successor Udom Emmanuel who still belongs in the PDP.

Other notable politicians that changed parties in the year include: the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakabu Dogara, Gov. Samuel Ortom Benue and his Kwara State counterpart, Abdulfatai Ahmed and a host of other federal and state lawmakers from across the 36 states of the federation.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki


Military101: Rule one - 'Never Reinforce Failure' - Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo continues to insert himself into the national conversation, especially few months before the country heads to the ballot to choose new political leaders.

Just like he did in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, he has started 2018 with a series of Love Letters.

Obasanjo remained controversial with his utterances and press statements throughout the year.

In January, Baba Iyabo asked President Buhari to ditch his re-election plans for good because he’s failed at governance.

“I only appeal to Brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country”, Obasanjo wrote.

Obasanjo also reviewed his stance on not backing  Atiku for the presidency of Nigeria.

He said he believed his former deputy, has ‘re-discovered and re-positioned himself’ and is now good enough to enjoy his support in the next election.

Buhari has ignored Obasanjo’s counsel. The president has since set up his second term campaign team.

APC's 72 State Chapters Starring Oshiomhole, Amosun And Okorocha 

The National Chairman of the APC still hasn’t been forgiven by a couple of governors for the party primaries he oversaw.

Adams Oshiomhole was accused of receiving bribe money to swing the votes the way of the highest bidders. He has denied the charges.

Oshiomhole was quizzed by the DSS and allegedly left Nigeria to escape the heat after he was grilled.

In 2018, Oshiomhole got under the skins of politicians on the APC and PDP side of the divide, thanks to an acerbic tongue and roughshod persona.

Sadly, the party he leads has been plagued by one form of crisis or another so much so that analyst posit that if not checked, the issues may lead its exit from power sooner that expected.

This position, though, has been challenged by party stalwarts and supporters.

The crisis rocking the APC over the conduct of primaries took a new twist when Adekunle Akinlade and Uche Nwosu, anointed governorship choices of the governors of Ogun and Imo states, Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha, respectively, announced their defection.

APC-PDP’s Frosty Relationship

Certainly, it is expected that the two dominant parties will not see eye to eye on almost any issue of national interest especially as regards the way and manner of governance.

2018 has seen both parties at each other’s throats with each move from the other being suspected even as accusations and counter accusations rain like bombs from both camps.

From the budget presentation to the several elections held within the period under review, from the remote and immediate cause of the country’s slip into recession to the handling of the economy, from the administration’s fight against corruption to even inter and intra party politics within both parties, APC and PDP has slugged it out on almost everything.

The Rise Of The Alternatives.


Apart from the two dominant parties- APC and PDP, dozens of other candidates from other parties will be competing in the 2019 presidential election.
However, outside of four of them, many of these other aspirants remain unknown even to the online community of Nigerians that seem to be the only demographic that pays attention to the new crop of politicians.

The four are Oby Ezekwesili, the former Minister and founder of the Bring Back Our Girls movement; Professor Kingsley Moghalu, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Fela Durotoye, leadership expert and business consultant; and Omoyele Sowore, the owner of the media outlet Sahara Reporters.

Sowore, Moghalu, Duotoye and Ezekwesili are hoping to win support by appealing to what they say is a marginalised and increasingly frustrated constituency - the burgeoning young population

Ever since she joined the race, Madam Due Process, as Ezekwesili is usually referred to for her work at the Debt Management Office, she has been making headlines, particularly with her campaign promise of lifting 80 million Nigerians out of abject poverty if elected President on February 16, 2019. She is running under  Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)

Although Moghalu attracted much interest to his ambition and the ideas he espoused in the earlier part of the year, he seems to have lost steam despite the creation of many sub groups to further his electoral chances, including "To Build A Nation" (TBAN) movement, the Kingsley Moghalu Support Organisation (KIMSO), the Kingsley Moghalu Volunteer Force, Youth for Kingsley (Y4K), Women for Kingsley (W4K), Kingsley Moghalu Disciples.
He is running on the platform of Young Progressive Party (YPP).

Sowore, is leading the pack of the bikers and he is confident of winning the election.

Sowore

Sowore, who is contesting under the platform of African Action Congress (AAC) told Bounce News hat his passion to build Nigeria is why he's contesting for the nation's highest political office.

While explaining why he's not contesting for a lower office, as has been suggested by some, Sowore said his vision for Nigeria is better served from the nation's highest office.

But the trouble in the third force camp was accentuated by the failure of some younger elements to agree on a consensus presidential candidate through PACT (Presidential Aspirants Coming Together).While Moghalu, backed out of the arrangement, Sowore, who lost to Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), renounced the outcome of the two-pronged voting process.

There is an unwritten rule between the two major parties that the presidency should alternate every eight years between the predominately Muslim north and the predominately Christian south. It currently is the north’s turn, and the candidates of both major parties are therefore northern Muslims.

The four minor party candidates are all southern Christians, but minor parties are not bound by this practice.

It is too early to say whether the Nigerian political establishment will converge around Buhari or Abubakar—the principal presidential candidates—or if it will converge at all

As we head into 2019, it is important that we remember the power is not in the hands of the politicians but in your PVC. 

Quit complaining about how bad Nigeria is and head to the polls - let your vote count. 

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