2022 Review: A sandwich of politics and chaos

Presidential candidates: Kwankwaso, Obi, Atiku and Tinubu.

By Richard Elesho
The year 2022 opened with huge promise on many fronts for Nigerians. On one hand, it was a pleasant separation from the years of the locusts, to which the Covid-19 pandemic and insecurity had turned 2020/21 for citizens of the world. Globally, social restrictions were relaxed to pave the way for free movement and physical interactions.
Presidential ambition declarations
At the home front, people received the year of transition that would usher them to the 2023 general election year with great hope. It was therefore one long season of political excitements, starting with presidential ambition declaration blues across party platforms that characterised 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 frontiers with his January 10 visit to the Villa. He consulted the President, Muhammadu Buhari on what he described as his age-long ambition to be President.
Tinubu, who is generally viewed as a kingmaker, was excited as he shared his encounter with the President. “About the cap of the kingmaker. I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I’ve never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless you commit murder.”
From the moment Tinubu’s meeting with Buhari was known, the President started receiving other declarant visitors of the ruling party. The barrage of aspirants 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 serving Ministers also consulted Buhari on their respective desire to succeed him in the Villa.
The declarations came side by side agitations for the conduct of the APC Special Convention for the election of National Working Committee, NWC members. A former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu was elected by consensus as National Chairman of the party on 22 March. He replaced Gov Mai Bala Buni of Yobe State, who had been serving in an acting capacity, for more than a year.
Aspirants in 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 consultations across the country. Former Senate Presidents Dr Bukola Saraki, Pius Anyim and former Deputy Governor 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 early declarations, the political atmosphere remained hazy. In February the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC brought more life into the terrain when it released a revised schedule of the elections, some 364 days before the polls, by the law.
Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 25 while Governorship and Houses of Assembly polls come up two weeks later, on March 11. Primary elections to select presidential flag bearers were scheduled for between May and June 9.
The race for the party flags were however like a walk in the dark for the participants. Controversies over the version of the amendment to the Electoral Act that would guide the Primaries created uncertainties in the legal framework of the selection process. An incredible omission during the consideration of the amendment by the National Assembly created a major setback in the process.
As it turned out, the delay by the President to append his signature and the provisions of section 84 of the bill disenfranchised members of the National Assembly and other statutory delegates from participating in the Primaries of the dominant parties. The controversies notwithstanding, the parties went ahead with their Primaries.
Chaos and insecurity
There were other concerns. As the politicians kept at their game, insecurity degenerated in the land. On 28 March the attack on a Kaduna-bound train from Abuja cast a dark omen on the nation. Eight people were killed while 60 others were abducted by the attackers. They were eventually released in batches after payment of ransom. The last set of the victims were released in October.
In the middle of May, Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of the College of Education was murdered by her fellow students in Sokoto. She was accused of blasphemy and disrespecting Islam.
In June, an attack on St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, the hometown of Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu left about 40 worshippers dead. Less than two weeks later, gunmen launched an attack on Kuje Correctional Centre. About 400 inmates were set free in the jailbreak. Many of them are still at large.
Banditry, kidnappings and burning of public facilities especially in the southeast became widespread. A security consultant, Kabir Adamu said no less than 11,000 deaths from insecurity were recorded in the country.
The security agencies intensified fire against them and recorded some gains. Thousands of insurgents and other criminals were said to have surrendered. In September a hostage negotiator Mr Mamu was arrested in Egypt. The spokesperson to Islamic Cleric, Sheik Gumi and the Publisher of Desert Herald played a prominent role in negotiating with some bandits and kidnappers.
Ekiti and Osun Governorship polls
Notwithstanding the state of insecurity, the people of Ekiti and Osun States were preparing for the off-season Governorship election in the states. INEC conducted the election in Ekiti on 18 June 2022. The candidate of the APC, Abiodun Oyebanji won. He defeated former Governor Segun Oni, who flew the flag of the Social Democratic Party. The new Governor was subsequently inaugurated on 16 October.
About a month after the Ekiti poll, especially, on 16 July, INEC conducted Osun gubernatorial election. The PDP candidate Senator Ademola Adeleke defeated the incumbent Governor and APC candidate who was seeking second tenure Gboyega Oyetola. The new Governor assumed office on 27 November.
Political realignments
Amid the chaos, preparations for the Presidential Primaries continued, even as some of the political parties witnessed some realignments. Obi, PDP’s Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 electoral cycle and notable contender for the party ticket, jumped ship, to the Labour Party, LP. Another Chieftain of the party and former Kano State Governor, Musa Kwakwanso joined forces with like-minded people to resuscitate the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP.
Presidential Primaries
The parties rolled out nomination and expression of interest forms for the Primaries. While the PDP fixed the N50 million price tag on the forms, the APC sold its own for N100 million.
All Eighteen political parties managed to beat the deadlines for the Primaries.
After an inability to produce a consensus candidate, seventeen aspirants contested the PDP primary on May 28 at Eagle Square, in the FCT. A last-minute concession by an aspirant aided the emergence of Atiku who polled 371 out of 767 up for grabs. He was followed by Wike with 237 votes. The candidate later announced Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as Deputy.
After a slight adjustment in the window given in the electoral timetable, the APC conducted its primary on June 8. Out of 23 aspirants that filed nomination papers for the contest, nine stepped down on the night of the election at Eagle Square. Tinubu won 13 other aspirants with 1,271 emerging candidates. Immediate past Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi came second with 316 votes. About 2,300 delegates participated in the exercise. Tinubu picked former Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima as Running Mate.
Aside from the duo of Atiku and Tinubu, other notable candidates in the imminent polls are Obi of the LP and Kwakwanso of NNPP. The LP Vice Presidential candidate is Senator Datti Ahmed while Pastor Idahosa is the Running Mate in the NNPP ticket.
All the frontline parties with their candidates and those of the 16 other less fortunate parties have since commenced campaigns for the general elections.
The campaigns for some of the parties have been marred or dominated by certain sentiments. For instance, while there have been diversionary discussions on the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC and the reluctance of the party candidate to participate in debates.
Similarly, five aggrieved PDP Governors have been on the throat of the party threatening to pull down its house for alleged lopsidedness in its leadership structure.
The LP is not insulated. The party, which is posing as the third force was forced to tinker with its campaign council following the conviction of Dr Doyin Okupe, its campaign Director General for money laundering by an Abuja High Court. He has been replaced by Media guru, Akin Osuntokun. But the problem is the new DG is being accused of holding the ticket of another party, the Zenith Labour Party.
The past year was truly one of the serious political activities laced with insecurity. It will also be remembered as one in which massive waters washed away persons and properties. The flood reached its peak 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 has also washed away 2022, leaving only its memory to usher us into 2023. The much-awaited election year in Nigeria.
Happy New Year to us