It was predicted to be a tough year, especially as it was a year preceding a general election and so was it. There was no dull moment in the out gone year as it was full of issues. Here are some of them:
Abductions: In February, dozens of girls from Government Girls Science and Technology College, a boarding school in the northern town of Dapchi, Yobe State, were abducted from the school compound by members of Boko Haram insurgency group.
However, few weeks later, following federal government’s intervention, all the abducted students except one, Leah Sharibu, were returned to the school by their abductors. Sharibu was said not to have been brought back because of her refusal to renounce her Christian faith. Expectedly that caused tension in the land as many groups and individuals, especially Christians, called for her unconditional release, claiming that her detention was an affront on the Christian religion. Federal government made several promises about Leah’s return, but that has yielded no positive result. Five of the students were also said to have died of heart attack before their release.
There were several other cases of kidnapping in different parts of the country, especially along the roads. One important victim was the immediate past Chief of Administration (Army), Major General Idris Alkali, who was reportedly kidnapped at Jos, Plateau State, on his way to Bauchi. His dead body was later found in an old mining pond in Du district of Jos South Local Government Area.
Insecurity continued to inflict parts of the country leading to the killing of many Nigerians. For instance, on December 18, former Chief of Defense Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, was shot dead on his way to Abuja from his farm in Nasarawa State. The police, had however, arrested some suspects in connection with the murder.
In January, a notorious cult leader, kidnap kingpin and mass murderer, Don Waney was killed by the military. Don Waney had terrorized Rivers State and its environ for a long time and was accused of so many atrocities, including masterminding the 2018 New Year attack in Omoku in which 23 people returning from cross-over service were murdered.
Clashes between herdsmen and farmers continued to be a major issue with many being killed in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and other states particularly in the Middle Belt and North eastern states. Tens of thousands were also forced from their homes, thereby constantly increasing the number of Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps in the country. Enactment of a new law banning open cattle grazing in Benue State did not go down well with cattle herders, who through their umbrella body, Myetti Allah, opposed the law, leading to more violence in the state.
An international human rights organization, Amnesty International, in a report titled, “Harvest of Deaths”, catalogued clashes between farmers and semi nomadic herders in Nigeria, noting that more than 3600 people had been killed since 2016, most of them in 2018. The report blamed the federal government’s inability to deal with the situation as the reason for the escalation of the violence. Federal Government had since disputed the report.
Shi’ite/ Military Clash
Following the continued detention of the leader of the Shi’ite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, there were series of protests by IMN members in the nation’s capital, Abuja, which resulted in deaths. On October 29, for instance, IMN members and a combined force of the Nigerian Army and Police engaged in a bloody clash which left some dead and many injured. Trouble was said to have started when Shi’ites besieged the FCT to observe the Arbaeen mourning procession despite warnings from security agencies not to do so.
In September, the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, resigned over National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate forgery allegations. She was alleged to have skipped the national service and then procured a fake exemption certificate to cover her tracks.
A few days after Adeosun was compelled to step down, another minister, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, was also discovered to have skipped the mandatory national service. Investigation revealed that the minister did not present himself for service after graduation and till date, has not done so yet remains in power.
Ekiti And Osun Elections
Elections were conducted by INEC in Ekiti and Osun States in the months of July and September respectively. While Dr Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), emerged the winner of the governorship election in Ekiti State, Gboya Oyetola also of the APC, was declared winner in Osun State.
While some people, mainly members of the ruling APC scored the elections high, others, majorly the international observers and monitors, said the elections particularly that of Osun failed credibility test. There were alleged cases of vote buying, intimidation of voters by security agents, as well as complaints of compromise by INEC officials.
The demand for increase in national minimum wage by the labour unions resulted in strike actions by the workers as the unions and the federal government couldn’t agree on an acceptable amount. As the matter raged, and is still raging, members of ASUU, NASU and Polytechnic lecturers decided to down tools over several demands, including proper funding of Nigerian universities, fulfillment of some previous agreements with the federal government, proper remuneration and many more. The industrial actions had crippled academic activities in the public tertiary institutions for many months.
The President Mohammadu Buhari-led government was credited to have recovered billions of dollars allegedly stolen by some members of the immediate past government and also saw to the signing of several treaties with other countries that would lead to the repatriation of funds stashed in foreign jurisdictions.
Some highly placed individuals were also tried and convicted by the EFCC, making some people laud the federal government for its determined effort in tackling corruption in the nation.
However, some claim that the anti-graft war had not been holistic and all encompassing. Rather, it has been a fight against non members of the ruling party and perceived enemies of the federal government.
During the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held at Adokiye Amesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, emerged the party’s presidential candidate.
Similarly, President Mohammadu Buhari emerged the presidential candidate of the APC during the party’s convention held in Abuja. Also, the former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, picked the presidential ticket of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) it had been massive campaign for virtually all the parties.
The federal government through the “Trader Moni” project had been empowering traders and artisans financially. A non-collateral loan of at least N10, 000 is given to these individuals in all zones of the country. Members of the opposition parties however, see the project as a form of vote buying and condemn it.
Many communities in the coastal areas were ravaged by flood. Farmlands, crops and valuable properties were destroyed with members of the affected communities constantly crying out for aid from government which, most of the time, was slow to come.
Generally, it was a wonderful year with its tides, current, storms and waves, yet the rainbow in its blast of colours causes many to be grateful and hope for a better country and good leaders after the 2019 general election.