Political events that shape 2015
In 2015, the Nigerian political space witnessed many events that will be remembered for a long time to come. A few of these are mentioned below.
2015 general elections…the big storm that blew quietly over
The most important political event in Nigeria in the year under review was the 2015 general elections.
For the first time in the country, an opposition party won presidential elections in Africa’s most populous country contrary to the predictions of many political analysts. Even, acclaimed men of God failed to predict correctly the outcome of the election.
Again, the predictions of bloodletting and ethnic strife by ‘men of God’ did not come to pass, though there were instances of skirmishes and loss of lives in different parts of the country.
At the end, the opposition party at that time, All Progressives Congress (APC) won not only the presidential election but also governorship elections in 19 states while the then ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won only 7 states.
APC also became the majority party in the National Assembly.
However, the star of the elections was not the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress and current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, but former President Goodluck Jonathan who upon announcement of results threw in the towel and called his opponent to concede defeat.
TheList…the suspense so overwhelming?
After his inauguration on May 29, a lot of Nigerians thought it would be in the interest of the masses for President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘hit the ground running’. But the President had another idea.
He did not name his ministers until September 30 when he forwarded a partial list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation. Many names touted by the media failed to make the final cut – Femi Falana, Festus Odimegwu, Pat Utomi etc.
But when the full list was eventually unveiled, political watchers expressed disappointment with the nomination of certain persons who they believed did not fit into the change and anti-corruption agenda of Buhari.
The nomination of the former Governor of Rivers State and current minister for transport, Rotimi Amaechi, divided the Senate owing to allegations of embezzlement of public funds levelled against by the Rivers State Government. In fact, lawmakers from the state petitioned the Senate and prayed the Senate not to screen nor confirm Amaechi’s appointment. But the former governor was eventually screened and confirmed as minister.
Saraki…a president in the dock
After emerging as the Senate President against his party’s wish, Bukola Saraki, had to battle allegations of false declarations of assets during his tenure as the Governor of Kwara State.
On October 30, Saraki lost the bid to stop his trial after the Court of Appeal in Abuja threw out an appeal brought before it. This came after he failed to get a high court to stop his trial.
But on November 12, the Supreme Court ordered the suspension of the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal until his appeal case before the highest court in Nigeria is concluded.
Lawmakers or money makers?
The salaries and allowances accruing to the members of the Nigerian National Assembly generated a lot of furore, so much that the National Institute of Legislative Studies, NILS, was ‘forced’ to release a document, showing what constitutes the earnings of federal legislators.
The documents released by NILS indicated that the Nigerian lawmakers earn perhaps one of the least salaries among legislators in the world, as against the notion that their pay was outrageous.
Here comes the social media gag
Adopting a bill tagged “A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected Therewith”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), on December 3, the Nigerian seeks to regulate the use of social media, inclusive of short message service (SMS) in the country.
The bill commonly known as the social media bill prescribes an imprisonment for a term of two years or a fine of N2,000, 000” or both on a person convicted for posting on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp any “abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and/or group or persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law.”
But the bill has been disparaged by many, including President Muhammadu Buhari, who in a statement issued by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Shehu Garba said the bill is against freedom of speech.
“The President said free speech is central to democratic societies anywhere in the world. The President explained that without free speech, elected representatives won’t be able to gauge public feelings and moods about governance issues,” the statement said.
However, the Senate President Bukola Saraki assured Nigerians that no ‘obnoxious’ law will be passed by the Senate.
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