By Richard Elesho
The year 2022 opened with great promise on many fronts for Nigerians. On the one hand, it was a welcome departure from the locust years, to which the Covid-19 pandemic and insecurity had turned 2020/21 for the citizens of the world. Globally, social restrictions were relaxed to pave the way for free movement and physical interactions.
Presidential ambition statements
On the home front, the people greeted the transition year that would lead them into the general election year of 2023 with great hope. So it was a long season of political emotions, beginning with the bluesy presidential ambition statement across all party platforms that characterized the first quarter of the year.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC opened the borders with his visit to the Village on January 10. He consulted the president, Muhammadu Buhari, about what he described as his secular ambition to be president.
Tinubu, who is generally considered a kingmaker, was emotional as he shared his encounter with the president. “About the kingmaker’s cap. He had never before seen the cap of a kingmaker. That’s the truth. And I have never seen where it is written in the rule book of any country that a kingmaker cannot be king unless he commits murder.
From the moment Tinubu’s meeting with Buhari became known, the President began to receive other declarative visitors from the ruling party. The barrage of hopefuls included Governors Dave Umeahi of Ebonyi State and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and several acting ministers also consulted Buhari about their respective desire to succeed him in the Village.
The statements coincided with the agitation for the holding of the APC Special Convention for the election of the members of the National Labor Committee, NWC. The former governor of Nasarawa state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, was elected by consensus as the party’s national chairman on March 22. He replaced Governor Mai Bala Buni of Yobe State, who had been serving in an acting capacity for more than a year.
Candidates from the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, notably former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Nyeson Wike of Rivers, Aminu Tambuwa of Sokoto and Bala Mohammed Bauchi, doubled their queries across the country. Former Senate Presidents Dr. Bukola Saraki, Pius Anyim and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Dr. Muhammed Hayatudeen and former Anambra Governor Peter Obi also threw their hats into the ring.
A walk in the Dark
Despite the first statements, the political atmosphere remained confused. In February, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, brought more life to the field when it published a revised calendar of the elections, some 364 days before the polls, by law.
The presidential and National Assembly elections will be held on February 25, while the elections for the governorship and the houses of the Assembly will be held two weeks later, on March 11. The primary elections to select the presidential standard-bearers were scheduled between May and June 9.
However, the race for the party flags was like a walk in the dark for the participants. The controversies about the version of the reform to the Electoral Law that would guide the Primaries created uncertainties in the legal framework of the selection process. An incredible omission during the National Assembly’s consideration of the amendment created a major setback in the process.
As it turned out, the President’s delay in affixing his signature and the provisions of section 84 of the bill deprived members of the National Assembly and other statutory delegates from participating in the Primaries of the dominant parties. Despite the controversies, the parties went ahead with their Primaries.
Chaos Y unsafety
There were other concerns. As the politicians played their game, insecurity degenerated on the land. On March 28, the attack on a Kaduna-bound train from Abuja brought a dark omen for the nation. Eight people died while another 60 were kidnapped by the attackers. They were eventually released in batches after the ransom was paid. The last group of victims was released in October.
In mid-May, Deborah Samuel, a level 200 student in the College of Education, was murdered by her classmates in Sokoto. She was charged with blasphemy and disrespect for Islam.
In June, an attack on St. Francis Owo Catholic Church, the hometown of Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, left some 40 worshipers dead. Less than two weeks later, gunmen launched an attack on the Kuje Correctional Center. About 400 inmates were released in the breakout. Many of them are still fugitives.
Banditry, kidnappings, and the burning of public facilities, especially in the southeast, became widespread. A security consultant, Kabir Adamu, said that no fewer than 11,000 deaths from insecurity have been recorded in the country.
Security agencies stepped up their fire on them and posted some gains. Thousands of insurgents and other criminals are said to have surrendered. In September, a hostage negotiator, Mr. Mamu, was arrested in Egypt. Islamic Cleric spokesman Sheikh Gumi and the editor of the Desert Herald played a leading role in negotiating with some bandits and kidnappers.
ekiti Y Osun Governorate center
Despite the state of insecurity, the people of Ekiti and Osun states were preparing for the off-season gubernatorial election in the states. INEC held the election in Ekiti on June 18, 2022. APC candidate Abiodun Oyebanji won. He defeated former Governor Segun Oni, who was flying the Social Democratic Party flag. Subsequently, the new governor took office on October 16.
About a month after the Ekiti elections, especially on July 16, the INEC held the Osun gubernatorial elections. PPD candidate Senator Ademola Adeleke defeated incumbent governor and APC candidate seeking a second term, Gboyega Oyetola. The new Governor took office on November 27.
Amid the chaos, preparations for the Presidential Primary continued, even as some of the political parties witnessed some realignments. Obi, the PDP’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2019 election cycle and a notable contender for the party’s ticket, jumped ship and went over to the Labor Party, LP. Another party leader and former Kano state governor, Musa Kwakwanso, joined forces with like-minded people to resurrect the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP.
The parties displayed nomination and expression of interest forms for the Primary. While the PDP priced N50 million on the forms, APC sold theirs for N100 million.
All Eighteen political parties managed to beat the deadlines for the Primary.
After the inability to produce a consensus candidate, seventeen challengers contested the PDP primary on May 28 in Eagle Square, on the FCT. A last minute concession by a challenger helped the rise of Atiku, who took 371 of 767 up for grabs. Wike followed with 237 votes. The candidate then announced Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as deputy.
After a slight adjustment in the window given in the electoral schedule, the APC held its primary election on June 8. Of the 23 candidates who filed nomination papers for the race, nine withdrew on election night at Eagle Square. Tinubu won another 13 applicants with 1,271 emerging candidates. Immediate former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi came in second with 316 votes. Some 2,300 delegates participated in the exercise. Tinubu chose former Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima as his running mate.
Apart from the duo of Atiku and Tinubu, other prominent candidates in the upcoming polls are LP’s Obi and NNPP’s Kwakwanso. The LP’s vice-presidential candidate is Senator Datti Ahmed, while Pastor Idahosa is the running mate on the NNPP ticket.
All the frontline parties with their candidates and those of the other 16 less fortunate parties have since started campaigning for the general elections.
The campaigns of some of the parties have been clouded or dominated by certain sentiments. For example, while there have been distracting discussions about the APC’s Muslim-Muslim candidacy and the party’s candidate’s reluctance to participate in the debates.
Similarly, five aggrieved PDP governors have been at the party’s throat threatening to bring down their house over alleged asymmetries in their leadership structure.
The LP is not isolated. The party, which masquerades as the third force, was forced to gamble with its campaign council following the conviction of Dr. Doyin Okupe, its campaign manager, for money laundering by an Abuja High Court. He has been replaced by media guru Akin Osuntokun. But the problem is that the new DG is being accused of having the ticket of another party, the Zenith Labor Party.
Last year was truly one of the serious political activities linked to insecurity. It will also be remembered as one in which massive waters washed away people and property. The flooding peaked in September. It affected several states, namely Kogi, Benue, Niger, Jigawa, Anambra, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo and Delta states.
After some 365 days, the waters of time have also washed away 2022, leaving only its memory to carry us to 2023. The long-awaited election year in Nigeria.
happy new year to us