How time flies! The year 2018 is three days short of slipping into history, Just like yesterday, we welcomed it with excitement and hope. And what a year it has been, politically; the grab-bag contains the good, the bad and the absurd.
From Kemi Adeosun's NYSC certificate scandal to Abdullahi Ganduje's bribery videos and claimss of the cloning of President Muhammadu Buhari, below are 10 incidents that made the biggest headlines of the year.
10: How Ministers Kemi Adeosun and Adebayo Shittu Dodged NYSC
Kemi Adeosun, then as Finance Minister, was in the news for the wrong reason in July 2018. Premium Times revealed that the London-trained economist did not participate in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme. She skipped the scheme, despite graduating in 1989 at the age of 22. She went ahead to obtain an illegal exemption certificate. Another member of the Buhari administration, Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communication was also exposed months later to have skipped the scheme too. While Adeosun eventually resigned her post as Finance Minister, Shittu is still a member of cabinet of the Buhari administration. Shittu claimed he deliberately skipped the scheme, having served his people as a politician during the period in question.
9: A Year of Unprecedented Political Cross-carpeting
Quite a number of big political actors played characters in the chess game that has become Nigeria’s political space. From seeking confines for soon-to-fail political ambitions, to seeking shelter from allegations of corruption, it almost got to the point of one week, one defection. Among those who defected are Godswill Akpabio, Bukola Saraki, Shehu Sani, Alao Akala, Olusegun Mimiko, and Yakubu Dogara.
8: Ganduje's Dollar-Stuffed Attire
Perhaps, no video went more viral than that of Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, purportedly collecting wads of dollars as bribe from a contractor. The Governor has asked the public to dismiss the video as mere photoshop, but Nigerians are having none of that and have repeatedly called for his impeachment.
7: When Bishop Oyedepo and Father Mbaka Dabbled into Politics
You are mistaken if you think politics is strictly a secular affair — in Nigeria, anyway. Though, for different reasons, two famous religious leaders were in the news in the same month this year. While Reverend Father Mbaka was at his political altar trying to wheedle Peter Obi, the PDP vice-presidential candidate, into making financial commitment to his ministry, the scene degenerated into absurdity when Peter refused to take the bait. Mbaka resorted to calling Obi all manner of unprintable names.
On his part, Bishop Oyedepo, Founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, read a literal meaning into a satirical article penned by Dare Olatunji. Basing a part of his sermon on December 2, 2018 on a satirical article about Buhari's supposed cloning. However, while Mbaka has tendered a public apology, Oyedepo has stuck to his guns, refusing to apologise for the error.
6: Buhari Or Jubril?
No story trended — and is still trending — more than the suggestion that President Muhammadu Buhari may have been cloned. Sometime in 2018, the story made the rounds that Buhari had actually died while on his medical vacation, and had been replaced by one Jubril from Sudan. According to the peddlers of this story, the person in Aso Rock is Buhari’s look-alike from Sudan. The news trended more than any other in the Nigerian political space, such that even foreign comedians had a field day with it.
5: Oshiomhole’s Freudian Slip
Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), trended on social media for days over a blunder he made during a press conference that he held hard on the heels of the controversial Osun governorship rerun election. The rerun election was marred by violence and rigging and Gboyega Oyetola of the APC as the eventual winner. The Edo-born Chairman had said: “I think for democracy to flourish, only people who can accept the pain of rigging, sorry, defeat should participate in an election."
4: That DSS ‘Action Movie’ at the National Assembly
In August, a group of masked men from the Department of State Security Services (DSS) shut down the National Assembly, preventing lawmakers from accessing the chambers. After series of claims and counter-claims from members of both All Progressives Congress(APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) concerning at whose bidding the invasion was carried out; Professor ‘Yemi Osinbajo, acting President at the time, ordered the immediate dismissal of Lawal Daura as DSS Director-General. He was replaced by Matthew Seiyefa. However, Seiyefa’s reign was brief as President Muhammadu Buhari, on his return from medical vacation, replaced him with Yusuf Magaji Bichi. Not much has been heard of Daura’s prosecution, though.
3: Obasanjo, Atiku ‘Mend’ Political Fences
After making a promise that he more or less risks divine damnation if he ever supports anything Atiku-related, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his second in command during his tenure, Atiku Abubakar, buried the hatchet in October when the latter sought his support for his presidential ambition.
2: Ambode's Aborted Second Term Ambition
For its attendant drama and intrigues, Lagosians will not forget in a jiffy how the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode’s second term dream was scuttled by his political godfather, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In a flexing of muscle reminiscent of the biblical David-Goliath example, only that everything happened in reverse, it was the political David that threw down the gauntlet, which his political godfather picked up. In the end it was a mere doddle as Ambode later publicly accepted defeat and promised to give his full support to the candidature of Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, his opponent at the primary election and the man backed by Tinubu.
1: Buhari Cheered and Booed During 2019 Budget Presentation
President Muhammadu Buhari was booed and cheered when he presented the 2019 budget to the National Assembly on December 19. While he was given a rousing welcome by his loyalists as he made his way to the floor of the house with shouts of “Sai Buhari, Sai Gasikya,” the rousing welcome was short-lived because no sooner had he started presenting the budget than the lawmakers from the opposition party began showing their disapproval. Claims by the President about the strides of his administration were punctuated by screams of “nooooo, noooo’’ and “lieeesss” from PDP lawmakers. The President got angry and at a point told the lawmakers: “Distinguished members, let us conduct ourselves properly. The world is watching us. We are supposed to be above this."