The year 2020 was definitely one of the most dramatic years in Nigeria’s modern political history. Despite the disruption caused by the deadly coronavirus, the country’s political sphere was filled with its usual twists and turns which led to defections, re-appointments, dismissals and more.
In the last 12 months, Nigerian political space witnessed two governorship elections,15 state and national assembly elections, death of key political figures, political ‘moves’ and engagements ahead of the 2023 general elections. Below are some major political events of 2020 as recorded:
Supreme Court sacked Ihedioha, declared APC’s Uzodinma Imo governor
Nigeria’s Supreme Court in an unprecedented judgement early January dismissed Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Imo State and declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.
Mr Ihedioha was sacked on the ground that the result of 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation by the country’s electoral body, INEC.
With the addition of the results from the excluded polling units, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and was declared the rightful governor of the state.
Mr Uzodinma came fourth at the March election but was favored because the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, who came second, was disqualified.
Supreme Court also sacked APC governor-elect in Bayelsa declared PDP candidate winner
While Nigerians were savoring the January controversial judgment of the country’s apex court in favour of the ruling APC, the Supreme Court struck again in February, this time, in favour of the main opposition PDP.
In the February judgement, the apex court sacked APC governor-elect, David Lyon, a day to his inauguration ceremony, and declared the PDP candidate, Diri Douye, Bayelsa state governor.
Mr Lyon was disqualified on the ground that his deputy, Degi-Eremienyo, submitted false credentials to the country’s electoral body, INEC.
Edo political crisis
The Edo political saga took the central stage of Nigeria political discussions a few months to its 2020 governorship race.
At a side was the resounding drum of war between the then APC chairm, Adams Oshiomhole and his political protege, Godwin Obaseki, a development that caused factions among the party loyalists and leaders in the state and at the national level.
This fracas led to the defection of Mr Obaseki to the main opposition PDP after Mr Oshiomhole-led executives denied him a re-election ticket.
Caught in the web of his home state political brouhaha, Mr Oshiomhole was also sacked by the court, a case that lingered till the APC National Executive Council dissolved its excos and appointed a caretaker committee to paddle the affairs of the party for the next six months.
Emir Sanusi removed by Kano government
Any review of the 2020 major political events may not be complete without mentioning the controversial dethronement of the former Central Bank Governor, Muhammadu Sanusi, as the Emir of Kano state following a resolution of the state executive council led by Abdullahi Ganduje, on March 9.
Mr Sanusi was removed on the ground of alleged insubordination to the state’s political authority.
The justification of his removal generated public outcry across Nigerian social media platforms and made headline discussion on the country’s daily.
COVID-19 makes Nigeria political space mourn
Still in the business of springing surprises, the Nigeria political space recorded not less than death of five prominent politicians as a result of the deadly coronavirus.
The virus was responsible for the death Nigerian president’s powerful Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. His death was followed by that of the Oyo State immediate past governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who died in June at the age of 70 from underlying health conditions after contracting the virus.
In another news, the senator representing Lagos East Senatorial representative at the National Assembly, Bayo Osinowo and the Ondo state commissioner for health, Wahab Adegbenro, died after contracting the deadly disease in June and July 2020 respectively.
Edo 2020 Governor Election
In September, 2020, the country witnessed the much anticipated Edo State governorship election.
The election was less of a race between political party candidates and more of a contest between an adamant political son and his troubled god-father who was allegedly bent on correcting his former mistake through another ally.
Edo State was the last foothold of the ruling APC in the South-south region until the animosity between Messrs Oshiomhole and Obaseki eventually cost the party in the September 19 election.
Against all odds, Mr Obaseki surprisingly defeated his closest rival and the 2020 Edo APC governorship candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, by a large margin.
Mr Ize-Iyamu’s defeat arguably silenced Mr Oshiomhole’s hitherto huge influence in the state.
Earlier in a turbulent and similar intra-party crisis like Edo, the Ondo chapter of the APC, weeks before the election reached a compromise and rallied round the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to secure his re-election victory.
Mr Akeredolu defeated his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, of the Zenith Labour Party by a wide margin.
Against popular predictions, the APC governorship candidate won in 15 out of the 18 local governments.
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi
Umahi, Dogara, Elisha Abbo ditched PDP for APC
Not less than five prominent members of the PDP defected to the APC in the second half of 2020 under the interim leadership of Mala Buni-led committee.
With the 2023 general elections in view, the former speaker of Nigeria House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in July, defected to the APC, after alleging the PDP-led government in Bauchi state of poor governance.
The Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi and the Adamawa State senator, Elisha Abbo, also joined the growing list of politicians who defected from the main opposition PDP in the last quarter of 2020.
While many ascribed Mr Umahi’s defection to his 2023 presidential ambition many believed would go to the Southern region, the governor has argued contrary in his defense.
Buhari reappointed Mahmood Yakub INEC chair
Nigeria political space recorded yet another feat as President Muhammadu Buhari re-appointed Mahmood Yakub as the INEC chairman.
Mr Yakub is the first INEC chair to be re-appointed in the country’s political history.
He succeeded Attahiru Jega after the 2015 general elections and supervised 2019 general election and off-cycle elections in states such as Kogi, Edo and Ondo.
INEC legislative bye-elections, Labour leader’s death, PDP appointed Saraki reconciliatory led
The nine states House of Assembly and six senatorial bye-elections held across 11 states by INEC in November featured as one of the top political events in the year under review.
The elections were conducted to fill seats that became vacant as a result of death or resignation of their previous occupants.
Even though the elections were characterised by low voter turn-out by election observers, the APC won seven of the 11 seats in Lagos, Imo, Kogi, Plateau, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, while the main opposition PDP won in Bayelsa, Enugu, Zamfara, and Cross Rivers states in the federal and state legislative bye-elections.
To appease its warring members, the PDP has appointed the former senate president, Bukola Saraki, chairperson of its national reconciliatory team.
Mr Saraki is to lead a six-member committee set up to forge unity among members.
As Nigerians geared for the end of December 2020, tragedy struck the country’s political space as one of its gladiators died. The National Chair of the Labour Party (LP), Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, was announced to have died in Abuja on Tuesday.