While many religious leaders resorted to asking their followers to pray for Nigeria in 2015, two of those who stood out were the fiery Southeast priest of the Adoration fame, Rev. Father Camillus Ejike Mbaka, and the spiritual head of One Love Family, Satguru Maharaji.While Rev. Father Mbaka prophesied to the chagrin of many that then President Goodluck Jonathan was not going to win 2015 presidential election due for the year, the controversial Satguru Maharaji wrote his re-assuring affirmation on a boldly displayed billboard in the median of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in front of his worship centre: “Come what may, there will be no war in Nigeria.” It could not be ascertained whether Mbaka was speaking from the spirit or if it was the political activist in him that was speaking as he told his congregation on the New Year eve: “Jonathan has ruled for six years. Need change. NEPA is not working because of corruption. The privatization of public companies has not yielded any fruit because of corruption. Nigerians are sick and tired of wasting innocent lives without government doing enough to stop the destruction.” The two of them have turned out to be in there prediction, even as Satguru’s message is still boldly displayed along the Lagos –Ibadan Expressway. No matter how one looks back at the year 2015, Nigeria was the winner. It was a year of make or mar general elections, a year which some political analysts had predicted could witness the final disintegration of Nigeria. However, Nigerian politicians were in their elements and the then sitting President Goodluck Jonathan was able to save the day. . As his main opponent, now President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress (APC), won the election, Jonathan was magnanimous enough to concede defeat by calling his opponent to congratulate him even before the final results were announced. It was the first time in the political history of Nigeria that an opposition party would defeat a ruling party. Thus the presidential election of 28 March ended the 16years reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in power and the enthronement of the APC as the Ruling Party. Interestingly the APC had run the election on change Mantra. The Presidential results seemed to have had a chain effect on the Legislative and governorship elections across the country as the APC replicated the success all over. In the elections into the National Assembly also held same day, the APC won 60 seats in the Senate, while the PDP won 49 seats. And in the House of Representatives, the APC won 225 seats as against 125 seats won by the PDP. The APC repeated the feat in the governorship and state legislative elections held two weeks later – on Saturday, April 11. Out of the whole 31states which had their governorship elections that day, APC won in 22. Ironically, the PDP has had its success in three of the states truncated by the respective state tribunals who have asked for a re-run in the affected states. It became more difficult for APC to manage the electoral success than winning the elections as efforts by the party to dictate those to hold principal posts at federal legislative arm of government failed. So, contrary to the plans of the party hierarchy, Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State, emerged as Senate president and Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP, was elected deputy Senate president, t h e r e b y rubbishing the previous arrangements whereby the two critical offices were from the same party. The machinery of APC had preferred Ahmed Lawan, to emerge the Senate President. The same scenario almost repeated itself in the House of Representatives as Yakubu Dogara emerged as speaker o f t h e Ho u s e contrary to the dictate of the party l e a d e r s h i p . However, unlike Saraki, Dogara’s deputy emerged from the same APC. Thus, Dogara defeated Femi Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere Federal Constituency, Lagos State,in a keenly contested election. Gbajabiamila had been the choice of the APC leadership for the position. However, the leadership crisis in the House of Representatives appeared to have been finally resolved when Gbajabiamia emerged as majority leader of the House on Tuesday, July 28. It brought to a happy resolution of the uncertainty which ruled the political earlier in the year when the Nigerian Army clarified that it was not in possession of the West African School Certificate (WASC) with which the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) enrolled into the Nigerian Military Training College in 1962. Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, the Director of Army Public Relation DAPR, Brig-Gen. Olajide Laleye stressed that the Army had to make the clarification following barrage of requests from individuals and corporate organizations seeking to know the position of Buhari’s credentials.In addition to this, the announcement of the postponement of the elections, which were earlier billed to start with the presidential election on February, 14, to March 28, threw some spanner in the works. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the shift at a press conference addressed by the then chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, saying that the Presidential and National Assembly elections would hold on March 28 while the governorship and State Assemblies election would take place on April 11. The postponement was however greeted with protest from the then opposition party, the APC. Nigerians were welcomed to the new month of April by INEC’s announcement of Candidate Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the March 28 Presidential polls. Making this announcement in the wee hours of the first day, the INEC Chairman noted that Muhammadu Buhari of the APC polled a total of 15,424,921 votes to defeat all other candidates, with Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP garnering a total of 12,853,162 votes to come second. Although President Buhari was sworn in on May 29, his cabinet was not unveiled until October. The actual inauguration of the much anticipated Federal Executive Council (FEC) took place after about five months into Buhari Administration. Th e assignment of portfolios came as a surprise to many as those expected to head particular ministries were assigned to others. High-points of the event was in the President naming himself as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, even as the immediate Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola was named the Minister of Power.
Works and Housing. Another major political event of the year was the sad news of the demise of the APC governorship candidate in Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, who died the same day the November 21 governorship election which he was already leading with over 41, 353 votes was declared inconclusive by INEC. The Returning Officer, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha declared the election inconclusive because the margin of votes with which Audu defeated his closest rival, Governor Idris Wada, was less than the 49, 953 number of cancelled votes. On December 5, the inconclusive Kogi governorship election was concluded after INEC allowed the APC leave to replace its deceased candidate. Despite protestations from Audu’s running mate, Abiodun Faleke, the party resorted to its earlier primary to pick the person who came second, Yahaya Bello, to replace Audu. He went on to win the supplementary election, making him the Governor-elect. Also in December, the much anticipated Bayelsa governorship election was also held but was declared inconclusive by INEC following the violence that was recorded in Southern Ijaw LGA believed to be a swing local government Moves by the Senate to muzzle social media users came to limelight as the upper chamber resolved to pass “An Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Related Matters.” The public outcry over this bill was so much that President Muhammadu Buhari had to tell the lawmakers that free speech was central to democratic societies anywhere in the world, adding that “won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria. The year 2015 was characterized by economic hardships and challenges. The year started with unending pipeline vandalisation which led to fuel scarcity that persisted in the country throughout the year. The fuel crisis which worsened just before the 2015 general elections lasted for about three months as the federal government and oil marketers fought over the payment of fuel subsidy. The past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan through Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, accused the marketers of blackmailing the Federal Government. She said that a total of N150 billion was paid to oil marketers as subsidy claims, even though the marketers claimed that government owed them N200 billion and refused to load products unless the government cleared the backlog. Hence, the situation became a campaign issue which the APC, former opposition party, took advantage of. The APC promised that if elected into office, it would end fuel scarcity and subsidy payment. This was not because by year end, Nigerians were still witnessing long queues and spending hours trying to get fuel as a result of the oil marketers refusing to lift products over subsidy claims. This prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to send N465.64 billion supplementary budget to the National Assembly on November 18, to enable government pay the marketers the outstanding subsidy claims. The breakdown of the supplementary budget showed that N413.36 billion would be for fuel subsidy payment while N10.62 billion was earmarked for the payment of outstanding severance gratuity. The budget had been passed since December 1, but the queues persisted almost to the end of the year at the petrol stations. The economy in 2015 also was also marred by persistent power outages across the country with the distribution companies, Discos, still giving its customers estimated bills. The year actually started with the power supply dropping to 2000 megawatts from 4000mw. Chinedu Nebo, former minister of power, had attributed the drop to incessant gas pipeline vandalism and sabotage from the then opposition APC. He said more than 200 incidences of crude oil and gas pipeline vandalism were recorded within six months. Nebo alleged that the sabotage of the pipelines by vandals had constrained gas supply to the power plants, a development that had seriously affected electricity supply. This, he said, was the major constraint to adequate power supply across the country, stressing that 81 percent of power being generated in the country was from thermal generation plants, which were dependent on gas. For a while, it appeared that the APC led administration had partially succeeded in restoring steady power supply in some parts of the country, but after initial two months, power supply nosedived to another abysmal level causing outcry in some quarters. As if that was not bad enough, the government’s mandate to the Discos to fix prepaid metres in every household in the country, remained was yet to be carried out. The economic situation was made worse by cash crunch as a result of government decision to operate the Treasury Single Account, TSA. While the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said the movement of federal government funds from commercial banks to the CBN would not have any major negative impact on the liquidity conditions of the banks, there were fears that there would be no money for banks to grow the economy. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, said that the apex bank would continue to closely monitor the money market to ensure that the policy did not in any way affect the industry and that it had the muzzle to play its roles as a catalyst for the economic development of the nation. There was also the issue of foreign exchange restriction for the importation of certain items considered unnecessary and unhelpful to the nation’s macro-economic development. Defending the measure, Emefiele said the foreign exchange access restriction has helped to re-open factories that had closed down due to the inability of their products to compete with the dumping of foreign goods in the country.