The year 2021 will end in a few days and next year the thermometer of the political space will be on the high as the country enters a full mode campaign season. As the country prepares for the primaries and campaigns next year, contenders and pretenders have started subtle campaigning, realignment, and rapprochement. It has also been a season of endorsement by multiple groups this year. Suffice to say, It has been a mixture of the good, bad, and ugly in the political space and we bring you to the top of the pack in the political arena this year.
Removal Of Secondus And PDP National Convention
If the erstwhile chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Party( PDP) Uche Secondus was told that he will not finish his term as the party chairman he would have dismissed it as fake news. Secondus was on his way to becoming the first PDP chairman to finish his tenure as chairman until his train was derailed. The PDP chairmanship has been a poisoned chalice as successive chairmen have their tenures ended abruptly.
It is instructive to note that out of the 17 members of the executive of Ward 5 of Andoni LGA, 11 members endorsed Secondus suspension from the ward in his state. Before that, he was suspended by several courts and also reinstated. He was battling to save his job as different interest groups in the party clashed over his continued stay in office . The thinking was that his fallout with Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike was the beginning of the end of his tenure .
The PDP held several meetings to resolve the impasse all to no avail as he was finally removed and Yemi Akinwonmi was named acting chairman.
Similarly against all odds, the opposition party held its national convention where Iyorchia Ayu, a former senate president, was elected as the national chairman.Ayu, who was earlier adopted as the consensus candidate for the position, won the election unchallenged with 3,426 votes.
Taofeek Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo state, has also emerged as deputy national chairman (south).
Arapaja polled 2,004 votes to defeat Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun State, who scored 705 votes.
For the position of the deputy national chairman (north), Umar Damagum, former governorship candidate of Yobe state, polled 2,222 votes to beat Inna Ciroma, former minister of women affairs from Borno state, who garnered 365 votes.
Muhammed Suleiman from Kaduna scored 3,072 votes to defeat Usman Elkudan, also from Kaduna, who scored 219 for the position of the youth leader.
Only three out of the 21 national working committee (NWC) positions were contested, while consensus candidates were adopted for the remaining positions.
Threats To Buni Position As APC Caretaker Chairman
When Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni was appointed caretaker last year for six months, no one envisaged that a year after, he will still be the caretaker chairman.
However, the panic button was activated in the party following the supreme court’s judgment on the Ondo state governorship election. The supreme court in its judgment affirmed the election of Rotimi Akeredolu as Ondo state governor.
Eyitayo Jegede, candidate of the PDP, and the party itself had lost their petition against Akeredolu and the APC at the election petition tribunal.
The tribunal dismissed the joint petition, Jegede and the PDP lodged against the declaration of Akeredolu of the APC as the valid winner of the Ondo gubernatorial contest.
Jegede and the PDP had in their case, queried the legal validity of Akeredolu’s nomination by the national caretaker committee of the APC headed by Mai Mala Buni.
They specifically asked the court to determine whether Buni, as a sitting governor, could double as national chairman of the APC to sign Akeredolu’s nomination form for the governorship election.
According to section 183 of the Nigerian constitution, “the governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever”.
However, Theresa Orji-Abadua who led the appeal court panel dismissed their case.
Although the appellate court acknowledged that the issues raised by the appellants had constitutional implications, they, however, failed to join Buni as a party in the matter.
Pointedly, political analysts contended that by the delivered judgment, any election done by the Buni-led committee can be challenged in a competent court of law by opposition parties.
What this means going forward is that any other person affected by the actions of the Buni-led committee will not fail to join him as a party in any subsequent case in court. This includes future elections in any part of the country and all the APC congresses that are about to take place.
It is of note to state that Article 17 (iv) of the APC constitution states that “no officer in any organ of the Party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”.
Following the judgment, different groups in the APC called for the resignation of Buni as the caretaker chairman of the party. But in a statement, John Akpanudoedehe, National Secretary of the APC caretaker committee, said the apex court’s verdict had no bearing on the caretaker committee status and its membership.
However, the APC has fixed February next year for its national convention.
The Anambra election this year put the judiciary in a bad light. It is instructive to note that the primaries of the All Progressives Congress( APC), the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP ), and the All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA) were challenged in courts.
The worst culprit was the APGA, which, incidentally, is the ruling party in the state. The party’s candidates elevated forum shopping to an art.
The Victor Oye-led APGA had elected Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo as its governorship candidate while the Jude Okeke-led faction elected Hon. Chuma Umeoji is its candidate.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) had aligned with the faction of Jude Okeke to obtain a court judgment in Jigawa State, to publish the name of Umeoji instead of Soludo as the candidate of APGA. A few days later, the Oye faction obtained its judgment from an Awka High Court affirming Soludo as the authentic candidate of the party.
The Anambra High Court in Awka ordered (INEC) to restore Soludo as the candidate of the APGA. And INEC promptly replaced Soludo’s name with that of Umeoji as the candidate of APGA.
The commission also replaced the APGA deputy governorship candidate, Onyekachi Ibezim, with Obiagelu Orogbu. The Okeke faction then got the Jigawa High Court judgment that nullified the candidature of the former Central Bank of Nigeria and also recognized Umeoji.
Recall that an Imo State High Court had also declared Umeoji as the authentic governorship candidate of APGA for the election.
However, INEC again recognized Soludo as the candidate for APGA. The electoral body said the decision to replace Umeoji with Soludo was based on a judgment by the Kano Division of the Court of Appeal which had declared Victor Oye as the authentic national chairman of APGA. But, the factional national chairman of APGA, Okeke, has kicked against INEC’s action.
Okeke said by the provisions of both the Electoral Act and the INEC timetable, the commission ought not to make any other publications of candidates until October which would be the final publication.
On the part of the PDP, a faction produced Valentine Ozigbo as its candidate while the faction loyal to Chris Uba announced Ugochukwu Uba as the party’s candidate.
Expectedly, the two factions went to court and obtained conflicting judgments. While the Federal High Court in Awka declared Ozigbo as the valid candidate of the PDP, a State High Court also in Awka declared Uba as the valid candidate.
Apart from the forum shopping, weeks to the election were marred with killings and violence prompting fears that the elections may not hold.
However, the election was finally held on November 6 and Soludo won the election in what was arguably the worst voter turnout in the history of gubernatorial elections in the country.
Gale Of Defections
The political parties this year witnessed some gale of defections. Cross Rivers State governor, Ben Ayade on May 10 this year officially ditched the PDP for the APC.
Also Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle defected from the PDP to the APC. Recall that Matawalle became the governor in 2019 after the Supreme Court voided the APC primaries and all the candidates of the APC automatically lost out paving way for the PDP.
However, the most shocking defection of the year was the former minister of aviation, Femi Fani- Kayode moving from the PDP to the APC.Fani- Kayode was arguably the biggest critic of the APC and President Buhari and many dismissed it as fake news when news filtered in that he has defected to the APC.
Also, no fewer than six senators and 15 members of the Houses of Representatives had defected from the political parties that fielded them for legislative elections.
Tinubu’s Triumphant Return From Medical Vacation
Former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu proved his political worth this year during his medical vacation in the United Kingdom. What was a medical vacation turned out to be a show of political worth as his London abode became a Mecca of sorts as politicians were falling over themselves to visit Tinubu in London.
The first to visit Tinubu was President Buhari who incidentally was in London at that period. At least 30 other politicians including governors, senators, former governors, APC stalwarts, and loyalists visited Tinubu in London.
Interestingly, his return to Nigeria was marked with pomp and pageantry for a politician who is not holding any political office at the moment.
Zoning Of Presidential Ticket
Another issue that defined the political space was the issue of which zone will produce the president in 2023. After President Buhari who is from the northwest completes his tenure in 2023, it was expected that power will shift to the south going by the unwritten rule of power rotation in the country.
The south threw the first salvo after a meeting of the southern governor’s forum where they declared that power must shift to the South in 2023.
The northern governors and some groups frowned at the demand by the southern governors that power must shift to the south in 2023.
In the year, they have been accusations and counter-accusations between the regions on who will produce the next president.
According to feelers so far, the two major parties may likely present southern candidates for the 2023 presidential election.