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2018: Year of scandals and disasters

The year 2018 has been an eventful one just like others before it. There has been the good and the bad, both in Nigeria and across the world. OLAMIDE ENIOLA recaps major events of the year.

Insecurity: Herdsmen on the rampage

Barely few hours into the year, Fulani herdsmen continued their rampages in Benue State with 20 farmers losing their lives, while 30 others injured on January 1. In a spate of killings unleashed on the state, no fewer than 80 lives were lost in January alone, among many others in subsequent attacks.

Benue State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria staged a protest against what it perceived as government’s insensitivity thus calling for its intervention to stop the killings.

In response to the killings, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 15 advised the people of Benue State to be “accommodating of herdsmen, who are fellow Nigerians.”

Plateau, Nasarawa Ondo and Ogun states were not left out of the attacks. Apart from loss of lives farmers also lost their harvests and farmlands to the herdsmen who later occupied them, raising fears of an impending famine.

 

Boko Haram plagues

Ever since the emergence of Boko Haram in 2009, the North East has been their epicentre of attacks. The situation was not different on February 22, when the rebels invaded Government Science and Technical College, Dapchi, and abducted 110 school girls. Although 101 of the girls were released through “backchannel negotiations” between the Nigerian government and the abductors, with five dead, reports had it that those who were not released were held down because they were not Muslims.

The narrative took a novel turn on November 24 when soldiers, saddled with the duty of ending insurgency and to ensure security in the North East, fell victims of terrorists’ attack at Metele on the border with lake Chad. Although media reported that no fewer than 100 soldiers were killed in the strike, though other reports said only 23 lives were lost.

Also on December 25, 13 soldiers and a policeman were killed when Boko haram militanmts ambushed them on Damaturu-Maiduguri road in Yobe State

 

100 Edo students trafficked to Libya

Perhaps due to the biting economy in Nigeria, in an attempt to seek greener pasture outside the shores of the nation, Idogbo Secondary School was unearthed as the source of trafficked persons on May 20. The school was reported to have provided no fewer than 100 students to traffickers. It was so sad that no sooner had the state received less than 3,400 of her citizens from Libya than she lost 100 of her young population to the same menace.

 

Nigeria army/Shi’ite battle

It was a day of bloodbath on October 29, 2018 for the members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as Shi’ites, when they tried to force their way through a checkpoint mounted by a combined force of the Nigeria Army and police in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

In the ensuing fracas, the military reported shot dead no fewer than 16 IMN members with scores of others injured.

 

Crimes/corruption: Snake and missing N36m in JAMB

The comedy that will perhaps be remembered for a long time to come was the one that involved the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and its sales clerk in Makurdi, Benue State, Philomina Chieshe, who alleged that the missing N36m from the coffers of the examination body was swallowed by a mystery snake.

The huge sum was supposed to be proceeds of sales of scratch cards sold to students for registration and related matters, before the emergence of Professor Ishaq Oloyede as the registrar. Prof. Oloyede’s decision of the registrar to take stock of the sold and the unsold cards brought this joke to the fore on February 10. During interrogation, Chieshe revealed that it was the connivance of her housemaid with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, which led to the spiritual disappearance of the money.

 

Offa bank robbery

No fewer than 16 persons including nine police officers and seven civilians were reportedly lost and millions of naira carted away in the bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State on April 5. The robbers, no fewer than 30 in number, reportedly gained access into the banks by breaking the doors with dynamites.

However, part of the controversies trailing the crime was the alleged involvement of the incumbent senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, as one of the sponsors of the robbery gang. Five of the gang members connected to the robbery who were later arrested, confessed that they were Saraki’s political thugs, and have been supported with firearms, money and operational vehicles.

Ironically, as investigations progressed, prime suspect, Michael Adikwu, reportedly died in police custody.

 

Sex-for-mark scandals in OAU and UNILAG

While some Nigerian private universities have moved up the ladder in the comity of world renowned universities, Nigerian public universities were in the public glare for inglorious performances as two senior lecturers, Professors Richard Akindele (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) and Segun Awonusi (University of Lagos) were indicted for sexually harassing their female students.

Whereas Professor Awonusi’s indictment has only been subjected to investigation by UNILAG authority, the situation has not been savoury for Prof. Akindele, who, having been relieved of his professorial title and job with OAU, has also been tried and sentenced to a two-year imprisonment by the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission.

 

Kemi Adeosun and forged NYSC certificate

It emerged on July 8 that former Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, allegedly forged her NYSC exemption certificate.

Presenting age barrier as her reason for not serving her country, the NYSC Act faulted her argument by the fact that the minister had completed her university education at 22, eight years earlier than the age a graduate can ask for exemption. Also faulting the authenticity of the certificate, the body claimed that the certificate could not have been signed in September, 2009 by a Director General, Yusuf Bomoi, who had retired in January, 2009.

Although the presidency was slow in responding, seeing that it occurred under the watch of its administration which claimed to be anti-corruption, yet it became obvious that the Kemi Adeosun saga could not continue stirring finance-related affairs in the nation. Hence, rather than being sacked, she was reportedly counseled to resign, so as to preserve her honour.

 

Ex-deputy gov’s daughter allegedly killed by boyfriend

Adenike Oluboyo, the daughter of ex-governor of Ondo State, Lasisi Oluboyo, was found dead in her boyfriend’s room in Akure in July. While absolving himself of killing the lady, her boyfriend, Saidu-Shakiru Adeyemi, claimed that two boys whom Nike had entertained as visitors in his room were the ones who killed her.

 

Accidents: Tanker explosion in Lagos

The terrible condition of Nigerian roads and vehicles plying them were once again brought to the front burners when a tanker conveying 33,000 liters of petrol exploded on the downhill stretch of bridge on June 27. The incident which occurred in the evening claimed no fewer than nine lives and 54 vehicles, on a highly commuted Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Reports had it a break failure was responsible for the accident.

Oyo govt demolished Ayefele’s music house

In what seemed as a covert political power tussle on August 19, the Oyo State Government bulldozed Music House belonging to the popular gospel juju artiste, Yinka Ayefele, for reason that the building breached the physical planning law of the state.

However, following several solidarity calls from political organisations, sympathisers and fans of the musician, the state government changed its mind and decided to rebuild the demolished building.

 

Nine “corpers’ drown in Taraba, 1 in Bauchi

On August 4 and October 11, tragedy struck among youth corps members in Taraba and Bauchi states respectively as they lost 10 of their colleagues. On August 4, 9 of 22 corps members who went swimming in River Mayo-Selbe, Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State, got drowned during a picnic. A sudden upsurge in the volume of the water drowned the deceased corps members while others managed to escape.

A little further into the year, news came again about the drowning of a serving corps member in Bauchi, Joseph Adebayo, at Gubi River where he went on a picnic, as part of the activities marking the end of his one-year compulsory service. On board a faulty canoe on that Thursday, 11 October, alongside two fellow corps members, attempts by the villagers to rescue the corps members were partly successful as two of them were saved but Joseph could not be rescued and his corpse was recovered the following day.

 

Gas explosion in Nasarawa

No fewer than two lives were lost and 37 injured in a fire incident when Monaco Gas plant in Lafia, Nasarawa State exploded on September 10. It was gathered that a tank that had been leaking for about three days caused the fire incident.

 

stateScores trapped as 7-storey building collapses in Port-Harcourt

No fewer than eight lives were lost while several others were trapped in the piles of an uncompleted seven-storey building that collapsed in Port-Harcourt on November 23. Artisans and others rescued from the rubbles sustained varying degrees of injury.

A week after the collapse, relatives were still able to put phone calls through to trapped victims in the building that collapsed while workers were waiting to collect their wages.

The owner of the building (name withheld by security personnel) and the site engineers were arrested for their perceived incompetence. In what appears as a solidarity move, Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Dr Reason Onya, resigned his appointment over the event on November 28.

 

Skye turns Polaris, Access acquires Diamond

Business as usual has ceased to be with Skye Bank and Diamond Bank due to capitalisation issues. While Polaris Bank had taken over all the assets and liabilities of Skye Bank, Diamond Bank has been acquired by Access Bank. In a new development, it was reported that Diamond Bank will henceforth operate as a national bank. This, it was reported, will help the bank to focus on Nigeria retailing banking market.

 

Ooni’s unveils new queen

After several moments of suspense, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, finally unveiled his new wife, Queen Shilekunola Morenike Naomi. Full of praise of his charming prophetess-queen, Oba Adeyeye welcomed his queen to the palace on Thursday 19 October.

Coming from a marriage that lasted less than two years, Oba Adeyeye insisted that the wedding rites be fully performed on Queen Shilekunola.

 

NLC strike averted

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) which had threatened an industrial action scheduled for November 6 called it off before the zero hour. The strike which was meant to press for a new national minimum wage of N30,000 was suspended because the tripartite negotiating committee and the representatives of the government reached a compromise at their late night meeting of November 5.

State governors are claiming that several states of the federation may only be able to afford N24,000, as against N30, 000 being proposed by the federal government.

 

Ladies’ underwear for money rituals

Another amazing revelation of the year was reports that in the Eastern part of the country, ladies were held at gun point and stripped of their undies. Such victims were reportedly found either exhibiting varying degrees of behavioural abnormalities or sicknesses.

Reports also added that the undies attracted a sum of N350,000, while the fluid-stained ones went for N500,000. News had it that while most ladies at some point stopped drying their panties in the open, some stopped wearing panties when they go out, travel or visit their boyfriends, so as not to not to be forced to hand them over.

 

International gaffes: Trump’s shithole statement

In what can be considered as either racist or hate speech on January 14, the United States president, Donald Trump, described African countries, including Haiti and El Salvador as shithole countries during a meeting at the White House. Trump used the expression when he queried why America would accept immigrants from “all these shithole countries.”

While responding to the hurting expression, African Union spokesperson, Ebba Kalondo, reminded Trump that the U.S is an example of a strong nation built by slaves.

 

Buhari and lazy Nigerian youths

During the Commonwealth Business Forum in London on April 18, President Muhammadu Buhari accused Nigerian youths of being uneducated and lazy. Showing their displeasure with the statement, Nigerian youths took to social media pointing out so many achievements by youths of the nation in various areas of human endeavour.

 

Deaths:

There was a harvest of deaths during the year also as on February 17, Nigerians woke up to the news of the death of renowned Yoruba playwright, screenwriter, poet and actor, Akinwumi Isola at the age of 83 The author of the historical Yoruba play, Efunsetan Aniwura, was reportedly strong until his death, having eaten Amala and Gbegiri for dinner the previous night before his death.

American popular televangelist, known for his frank sermons on death, Billy Graham, also died at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina on February 21.

The founder of the popular Ponzi scheme known as MMM, Sergie Mavrodi, died at the age of 62 in Moscow. While alive, Mavrodi was sentenced to a four and a half years in penal colony having been found guilty in a Moscow court of financial fraud in 2007. He also left no fewer than 14 million people who participated in his Ponzi scheme in China, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria in financial ruin. According to reports, the founder of the pyramid financial scheme died on March 25 as a result of pains in his chest for which he was rushed to the hospital.

An ex-Nigerian Finance Minister and foremost politician, Adamu Ciroma, died on July 5 at the age of 83. Having battled with a protracted illness, the one-time minister of Agriculture died in a hospital in Abuja. Among other roles, Ciroma was a former Managing Director of the New Nigerian Newspapers and founding member of Peoples Democratic Party.

Death also claimed former UN secretary-general and Nobel Laureate, Kofi Annan, at the age of 80. The seventh UN secretary-general and first black African to have ever reached that height in the rank and files of the UN died in Bern, Switzerland during a short illness on August 18.

Yoruba veteran comedian, Moses Olaiya popularly known as Baba Sala died at the age of 81. Although reports had it that the Ilesa-born actor reportedly died of stroke, his son revealed that the actor died in his sleep after taking dinner on October 7.

A well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi, met his death on October 2 when he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The death which generated international controversies saw the Saudis pitched against the United States. Reports had it that the 59-year old Khashoggi was dismembered after being killed.

Investigations into the saga revealed that 11 suspects were involved. On November 15, Saudi Arabia’s deputy public prosecutor, Shaalan al-Shaalan asserted that the country was seeking death penalty for five of the suspects.

At the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Ikeja in the early hours of December 1, founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Fredrick Fasehun, breathed his last at the age of 83. Apart from being embroiled in power tussle that saw OPC factionalised with Gani Adams over leadership of the group, the Ondo-born medical doctor had suffered jailed terms during General Sani Abacha’s regime, and adopted Al-Mustapha, a supposed enemy, as his son.

The 41st US president, George H. Bush, died on November 30 at the age of 94 at his home in Houston, Texas. Known for spearheading wars between the US and Iraqi and Kuwait, George was reported to have a form of Parkinson’s disease which had confined him to the wheelchair or motorised scooter. Bereaved of his wife, Barbara Bush, in June, George followed suit barely seven months after.

Nigeria’s former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, was killed by gunmen on December 18. He was waylaid and attacked while coming back from his farm on Abuja-Keffi Road. Before the tragic event, Badeh was being tried for a fraud of N3.9b while in office.

On December 28, Nigeria’s second republic president on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, died at the National Hospital, Abuja at the age of 93. He was secretary of the Northern Peoples Congress and later elected into Federal House of Representatives in 1954. He was also minister for Economic Development, minister for Internal Affairs, minister for Works and from 1971-75, federal commissioner of Finance.

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