By Tosin Adesile and Damilare Adeleye
From the naira crunch that led to burning of banks to the attacks that happened in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi as well as parts of Mangu, where over 190 people were killed and several others injured with property and houses destroyed. In 2023, we saw the mighty falling with latest is the battle of survival for power and health which led to the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State being sworn in as Governor. It is just barely few hours to slide into the bountiful new year. No doubt, the 2023 has been eventful with series of unprecedented mixed-feelings. Some of the Nigeria’s sociopolitical cum economical developments in the country have been incredibly traumatic, chaotic, dramatic, astonishing, burdening, shocking and sometimes exciting. In this feature, Sparklight News brings to you top major events that made headline in the outgoing year so as to refresh your experience.
THE NAIRA CRUNCH
The 2023 kicked off with anxiety, confusion and uncertainty following the Central Bank of the Nigeria (CBN) led by Godwin Emefiele ban on old Naira notes as a result of redesignation of N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes. Recall that this led to scarcity of naira notes in most parts of the country and nearly resulted in national crisis before Supreme Court nullified the CBN decision, and extended the deadline till December. While the motive for the Naira redesignation remained controversial, Nigerians still largely turned out for the contentious general elections.
2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS AND THE ELECTORAL INTEGRITY
The first quarter of the year also witnessed the holding of general elections which ushered in Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. After the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held in the middle of February, Governorship and state houses were also held in March 18th. In the election, many politicians lost, while others emerged victorious. However, the credibility of the electoral exercise and INEC’s transparency and fairness is still debatable among interested citizens.
IKE EKWEREMADU ORGAN HARVESTING ORDEAL IN UK COURT
To the shock of many Nigerians, news came out this year that Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Beatrice, his wife; and Dr. Obinna Obeta have been sentenced to nine years and eight months, four years and six months, and 10 years in prison respectively by the United Kingdom’s Central Criminal Court. The former Nigerian lawmaker and other suspects were jailed over an attempt to harvest an organ of a young man who was trafficked to the UK for his kidney. The three were found guilty of trafficking the 21-year-old street trader to the UK to provide a kidney for the Ekweremadus’ daughter Sonia, who reportedly was suffering from deteriorating kidneys and needed regular dialysis.
The pleas in many quarters in Nigeria did not yield positive outcome, affirming that in a law abiding state, everyone is equal before the law no matter one’s status.
On a similar note, you may also need to recall that it was this year, May 6 precisely that Prince Charles was crowned as the King of United Kingdom. The coronation attracted global leaders and many people across the world.
HILDA BACI AND THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD
Hilda Effiong Bassey popularly known as Hilda Baci, brought smile to many Nigerians as she embarked on 100 hours Guinness World Record for Longest Time in Cooking Marathon. The Nigerian chef, who later becomes sensational, was certified as holder of longest cook with 93 hours 11 minutes of marathon cooking. Although the she has been dethroned by Irish Alan Jackson, the excitement of her bold decision still trails many Nigerians as many are toeing the line to break Guinness Records.
SUBSIDY REMOVAL AND THE FUEL HIKE
Another issue that prominently gained the attention of the media this year is the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu, who announced the development during his presidential inauguration. The mere announcement immediately took effect as there was instant scarcity of the product and astronomical increase in price of petrol. As a matter of fact, fuel prices rose steeply by over 300% to sell between N500-N700 per litre across many cities, from between N195-N230 per litre of the previous few days. As of now, fuel is sold at N650 depending on your locality. Despite promises by the Tinubu-led government to mitigate the effects, the removal is still biting hard on many Nigerians. The cost of living is very high and unbearable for many others.
PROMINENT NIGERIANS PASSED ON
Tragedy struck many families of well known personalities. The death of many of these prominent persons was a tragic and painful experience for many. Those well known personalities that passed on in the year 2023 include: His Royal Majesty, Joseph Davies-Agba, paramount traditional ruler of Obudu Local Government Area in Cross River State and Nigeria’s longest serving traditional ruler who reigned for 64 years. Similarly, Murphy Afolabi, popular Nollywood actor, passed away in May 14. Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, popularly known as MohBad, Nigerian rapper, singer and songwriter sadly passed on at the age of 27. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State, also kicked the bucket this year. Pa. Taiwo Akinkunmi, designer of Nigeria’s “Green-White-Green” flag, died at the age of 87 years. Chief Alaba Lawson, Iyalode of Yorubaland, also passed on. Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, founder of new generation bank, FCMB, also had his last breath in London at the age of 89. Oluyemi Lawrence Adeyemi, a veteran Nollywood actor popularly known as Suara, also passed away, among other celebrities. The latest of the death is Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State who succumbed to Leukemia. He died in Germany after political battle with his deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa who has now been sworn-in as Governor of Ondo State.
Military Accidental Airstrikes In Kaduna
The Nigerian army accidental bombing of villagers during a Maulud Nabiy celebration at Tudun Biriin in Igabi Local Government Area of the State was a national disaster this year. It was reported that over 120 villagers were killed during the airstrikes. Mind you, the army has apologized with regret. The government has intervened with promises. Prominent citizens have also shown support with words and kinds. Hopefully, such would not happen again.
Two coup d’etat occurred in 2023. The first was in Niger Republic led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, former Commander of the presidential guard, who ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The second was staged by Gabonese Army, who ousted President Ali Bongo from power for “serious institutional, political, economic and social crises”. For the Niger Republic, ECOWAS threats to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democratic order in the country has yet to materialize as many called for diplomatic solutions. For Garbo, the General Brice Oligui Nguema has been sworn in as interim President.
CAF AWARDS AND THE BIG TIME WINS FOR NIGERIA
December 12, 2023 was another best time to be proud to be a Nigerian as Victor Osimhen; Nigerian striker, Asisat Oshoala; Super Falcons forward and Chiamaka Nnadozie emerged victorious at the 2023 Confederation of African Football Awards. Osimhen was named the CAF Player of the Year, becoming the first Nigerian to win the award since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999, while Oshoala claimed Women’s Player of the Year for the six times. Nnadozie won the women’s Goalkeeper of The Year, just as the Falcons were named the Women’s Team of The Year. It was a historic feat for the country which attracted wild jubilation across Nigeria. The spirit of oneness was awaken again.
Plateau Christmas Eve Killings
Between December 23 to Christmas Day, series of coordinated attacks happened in Plateau State. The biggest of the attacks happened on the Christmas Eve, which shattered the plans of most Christians for the festival. Information has it that it was the Fulani herders responsible. Apart from the killing of over 100 persons in the communities affected, property worth millions of naira has also been destroyed and hundreds of people have been displaced. It was also leant that armed men invaded 12 communities in Bokkos local government area of Plateau State, while 17 others were killed in Barkin Ladi LGA, where three villages were attacked.
What is more, as the countdown to the new year is ticking, may the 2024 be blissful, fruitful and healthy for you and your family.