2016 has been characterised by intrigues and dramas from different political gladiators scheming to consolidate power. They include:
1. Budget Scandal
The 2016 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015 was described as full of errors by the time members of federal legislature returned from that year’s Christmas recess. This affected the February passage date .
A twist was added when the Senate declared that the hard copy of the budget presented to the National Assembly by the Presidency was missing.
Matters were made worst when the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, alleged padding of the budget by some principal officers of its lower legislative chamber.
2. Fuel Price Increase
After months of uncertainty during which Nigerians endured debilitating shortage of petrol, the Federal Government in May, ended the subsidy regime on the product and approved an increase in the pump price to N145.
The product previously sold for N87. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who announced the new price regime said the decision was reached at a stakeholders’ meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and attended by the leadership of the Senate, House of Rep-resentatives, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and labour unions, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria.
3. Abia Governorship Tussle
Abia State was thrown into a political dead end in June following the sack of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu by the Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Okon Abang for submitting false information to his party – PDP – for its governorship primary in December 2014.
The judge ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Dr. Uche Ogah, who polled the second highest number of votes in the party’s primary.
INEC swiftly complied with the order thereby throwing the state into confusion as both men declared themselves governor.
But the Court of Appeal in Abuja later set aside the judgement, calling it “a rape of democracy.” In a series of judgements on six appeals by Ikpeazu, Ogah, the PDP and Mr. Friday Nwosu, the five-member panel of judges led by Justice Morenikeji Ogunwumiju, faulted the technicalities on which Abang arrived at his judgement.
The judge said Abang deliberately ignored examining the tax documents which were tendered to his court as exhibits.
4. Saraki, Ekweremadu Arraigned For Forgery
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were also in June arraigned before an Abuja High Court for alleged complicity in forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015.
They were arraigned alongside former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against them by the Federal Government and they were all granted bail and the case was adjourned till July 11. The Federal Government later in October filed a motion to withdraw the charge.
5. EFCC Freezes Governor Fayose’s Account
The personal accounts of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and those of some of his associates were frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in June.
The action immediately prompted diverse reactions with a large majority of lawyers and Nigerians contacted affirming the validity of the commission freezing a governor’s account, but only upon the orders of a court.
Fayose, who by virtue of being a governor enjoys constitutional immunity from criminal prosecutions, said the decision to freeze his account was illegal.
The EFCC, however, said the governor’s immunity does not stop the agency from investigating him.
6. House of Reps’ Sex Scandal
The House of Representatives was hit by a sex scandal in June following a petition by the then United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, to the Speaker of the lower chamber, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, accusing some members of improper conduct, attempted rape and soliciting for prostitutes while on official trip to the US.
The ambassador, in a letter dated June 9, addressed to Dogara, alleged that three members of the House namely: Hon. Mo-hammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) had, on the visit to the US for the International Visitor Leadership Program, brought disrepute to the parliament by soliciting for sex from prostitutes and grabbing an hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape.
But, the affected lawmakers denied all the allegations and threatened to sue the ambassador and the US government for “character defamation and a calculated attempt to ridicule the National Assembly.”
One of the accused lawmakers, Gbillah said that there was no iota of truth in what the ambassador said but a calculated attempt to cause disaffection between them and their wives, families and constituents as they were not given any fair hearing before the letter was sent to the speaker. The lawmakers were later cleared by the colleagues of the allegations.
7.Deepened PDP Crisis:
The leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deepened in August, when the party’s national convention to elect a new National Working Committee (NWC) was thwarted by policemen, who sealed off the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers State venue of the event.
The police said they took the action following a court order suspending the convention. Another Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had earlier ordered the PDP to go ahead with the convention.
Some chieftains of the party, however, went ahead with convention and appointed a caretaker committee led by former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi to oversee affairs of the former ruling party.
Since then, the Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff factions of the PDP have been in and out of the courts over who controls the party’s structures.