Nigerians will not forget the massive ‘boxing ring’ of 2019 in a hurry. They will relish the thought of the front row view they enjoyed when the high and mighty in the country threw caution to the wind and threw punches at one another. They will remember how dirty the clashes were and how the gladiators were not ready to take any prisoners or pull any punches.
These fights raged from Lagos to Kano, Aso Rock Villa in Abuja to Government Houses in Yenagoa and Port Harcourt and other places. They involved the family of the president, the cabal in the Presidency, governors, emirs, business leaders, among others.
Daily Trust Saturday has packaged the dirtiest and bloodiest of them all.
Osinbajo versus cabal
The number two citizen, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had enjoyed a smooth and cordial relationship with his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, until some actions by the Presidency, which were attributed to the cabal around the president, suggested that all was not well.
The situation reached a climax when President Buhari temporarily relocated the Presidency to the United Kingdom for 13 days, where he signed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) amendment bill into law without following his usual tradition of handing over power to his deputy.
Though the president returned to the country before the 21-day mandatory period as provided in the constitution, he had, in the past allowed Vice President Osinbajo to act as president even when he intended to spend fewer days, a development that gave leverage to his deputy to take serious decisions relating to governance.
Professor Osinbajo, in September, received a presidential directive asking him to seek presidential approvals before taking actions in some agencies he was asked to superintend.
The vice president chairs the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and the National Boundary Commission (NBC). He also chairs the Board of Directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
Before the memo, President Buhari had disbanded the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Osinbajo and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC).
The movement of the Social Investment Programmes (SIP) hitherto under the supervision of Vice President Osinbajo to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, and the subsequent fate of his aides, who were barred from entering the Presidential Villa, also added to the insinuation that the cabal was dealing with the Professor of Law.
Critics said the moves were aimed at weakening the influence of the vice president in order to scuttle any political ambition he may have in the next general elections in 2023.
But presidential spokespersons denied that the vice president was being targeted by the cabal, attributing certain changes around him to the administration’s goal of strengthening capacities to achieve its goals.
Aisha Buhari versus Mamman Daura’s daughter
The fight between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and Fatima Daura, the daughter of Mamman Daura, inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was a major talking point in late 2019.
This followed leaked videos that went viral, showing angry Aisha asking questions and making comments about being locked out of a room at the Villa and demanding that some people should pack their belongings and leave the apartment.
Mrs Buhari later said the video was recorded by Fatima. “It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me.
“They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy.
“I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms, but they prevented me from getting through. I left them and took another way, yet I met the store locked,” she said.
For her part, Fatima, in a separate interview with the BBC Hausa, admitted shooting the videos but denied locking out the president’s wife.
She said the president had asked their father to move out of the building to a bigger one to create room for Yusuf, Buhari’s son, who was returning from Germany after a treatment for injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident.
“My dad instructed me and my elder sister (both of us go to work every morning) to come on a Saturday and move our belongings to the new apartment the president instructed.
“We planned to move out, but all of a sudden, in the afternoon as we were busy on that errand of packing our belongings, we heard some noise from outside. I was in an inner room in the house while my sister was in an outer one close to the main gate of the apartment, so my sister went out before me.
“On getting there, it was the wife of the president. When she (Aisha) came, the door was locked and she picked a metal chair and broke the door. I have sent the picture to you. My sister who went out was almost hit by the chair.
“I was shocked and afraid of going there because she was shouting and raining abusive words and saying we should move out of that apartment. I went back and picked my phone because if one said she acted that way without a proof, no one would believe. She has been saying a lot of things depicting that she is being suppressed,” she said.
Mrs Buhari later apologised to her children, immediate family members and Nigerians over the embarrassment the videos might have caused.
Fatima’s father, Mamman Daura, is the famous cousin of President Buhari, who is being touted as the leader of a cabal that allegedly hijacked the Presidency since 2015, a group Mrs Buhari has been speaking against in parables at different times.
Oshiomhole versus Obaseki
The biggest fight in Edo State in 2019 is between the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and his political godson, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
It was gathered that Oshiomhole defied all odds to make Obaseki the candidate of the party in 2016. But when he eventually won the election, they fell out in 2018.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the fight is as a result of battle of supremacy over the soul of the APC in the state, as well as the second term ambition of Governor Obaseki.
The supremacy battle has fragmented the party into two groups, with one faction loyal to Oshiomhole and another loyal to Governor Obaseki.
The fight started when Governor Obaseki sacked the loyalists of Oshiomhole from collecting revenue on behalf of the Council, banning political leaders from the Government House and refusing to patronise political leaders and party chieftains financially, which has been the norm.
The supremacy battle between the duo spread to the state House of Assembly as both Oshiomhole and Obaseki wanted to install their respective loyalists as Speaker.
It was learnt that Oshiomhole wanted Victor Edoro while Obaseki wanted the current Speaker, Frank Okiye. This development led to the inauguration of 11 members after the governor had issued a proclamation letter to the House.
Following the fight, 13 members-elect, who are Oshiomhole’s loyalists, refused to come forward for inauguration, describing the alleged inauguration as illegal.
As the crisis continued, the seats of the members-elect, who were not inaugurated, were declared vacant by the Speaker of the House, who called on the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) to conduct election in the affected constituencies within 90 days.
As the fight continued unabated, the residence of the national chairman was attacked by suspected hoodlums while Obaseki and his entourage, including the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, were also attacked.
The battle led to the sack of over 200 special assistants and senior special assistants, eight commissioners, as well as five local government chairmen.
Also, the hostility led to the emergence of two pressure groups within the party, namely, Edo People’s Movement (EPL), loyal to the national chairman, and the Obaseki Solidarity Movement (OSM), aligned to Obaseki.
The fight has been so tense that Oshiomhole rejected the Christmas gift sent to him by the governor as a former governor of the state.
Innoson versus GTBank
The Nigerian carmaker, Innoson’s feud with the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) took on a dramatic twist early in 2019 when they tried to occupy branches of the bank in the South-East after the Supreme Court allegedly ruled in their favour.
The legal battle started in 2011 when Innoson Nigeria allegedly realised that GTBank had wrongly debited its account with charges in excess of N700million (then $4.7m, now: $1.9m). When the bank allegedly refused to reimburse Innoson, the firm dragged it to court and allegedly secured a judgement in the sum of N4.7bn (now $13m), with 22per cent annual interest on the debt.
GTBank persisted and took the matter to the Supreme Court. In February 2019, the apex court asked them to go back to the Appeal Court.
NBC shuts Daar Communications’ AIT/Raypower
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), on Thursday, June 6, 2019, suspended the African Independence Television (AIT) for allegedly violating the broadcasting code after several formal warnings. The broadcasting company’s operating licence was withdrawn “for repeated breach of ethics.”
After the shutdown, tongues wagged, with Nigerians expressing divergent opinions on the matter.
But the director-general of the NBC, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, said the action was taken for the failure of the television and radio stations to abide by the broadcasting code.
Daar Communications founder, Raymond Dokpesi, had earlier accused the Presidency of intimidating his media group. He made the allegation while speaking at a press conference in the company’s corporate headquarters in Abuja.
“Any criticism of this government is hate speech. The NBC is acting under the authority of the president and commander-in-chief. The licensing fee in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. There is no country in the world where you have this type of exploitative fees. I have appealed for a reduction because the payments cannot be sustained by private broadcasters in Nigeria,’’ he had said.
The company later apologised and its operating licence was restored.
Yari versus G8
Former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State was locked in a battle with eight former governorship aspirants in the state, known as Group 8. The battle started when the ex-governor, in the build-up to the 2019 general elections, anointed his commissioner for finance, Mukhtar Shehu Idris as his successor.
The eight former governorship aspirants were former deputy governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad; Senator Kabiru Marafa; ex-federal lawmaker, Aminu Sani Jaji; former governor, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi; ex-defence minister, Mansur Dan Ali; former federal permanent secretary, Abu Magaji; Alhaji Dauda Lawal Dare and Alhaji Sagir Hamidu Gusau.
The G8, as they were fondly called, resisted attempts by former Governor Yari to foist his candidate on the people of the state. The crisis resulted in a stalemate as primary elections could not be conducted in the state.
Yari insisted that the October 7, 2018 primary elections of the party were conducted and his candidates won. On the other hand, the G8 members said no primary election was conducted, and as such, the APC did not have candidates for the general elections in the state.
The INEC also said the APC had no candidates since the primary elections for the party were mired in controversy and they didn’t hold.
Consequently, a legal battle ensued as Yari’s faction of the party ran to court, asking judges to compel the INEC to accept their candidates for the general elections.
A state High Court gave victory to former Governor Yari’s faction after it ruled that the APC conducted primary elections, and asked the INEC to accept the candidates presented by Yari.
The APC participated in the last February elections and won virtually all the contestable seats in the state. However, despite the party’s victory, G8 members, under the leadership of Senator Kabiru Marafa, took the case to the Appeal Court sitting in Sokoto, which upturned the earlier judgement by the state High Court, by declaring that the APC didn’t conduct primary elections, as such, their elections were nullified.
The battle then moved to the Supreme Court, where the judgement of the Appeal Court was subsequently upheld.
That was few days to the swearing in of Yari’s choice, Mukhtar Shehu Idris as the elected governor of the state.
Ambode versus Tinubu
The immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, will remain hurt and aggrieved politically for the rest of his life unless luck smiles at him and he returns to the expansive Alausa Government House. Ambode, according to some Lagosians, started well as governor of the state until the 2019 elections approached and the reality dawned on him that he was not going to get a second term ticket.
The battle within the APC family was so intense and hot in the build-up to the primaries in 2018, but by October, 2018, Ambode’s second term ambition was finally laid to rest with the emergence of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the party’s candidate. He eventually won the governorship election in March 2019.
Ambode’s fate, according to analysts, was not unconnected with his friction with the APC national leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who in 2014, singlehandedly picked him among the array of other candidates who indicated interest in the coveted seat.
As the drama unfolded over Ambode’s second term bid, Tinubu kept silent until September 30, 2018 when he opened up on the sins of the former governor. Tinubu noted that the blueprint for the progress of the state, which was a product of rigorous and meticulous work by a corp of experts and professionals, had been distorted ‘’for reasons unknown to him and most Lagosians,’’ by Ambode.
“From the common labourer to business leaders, professionals and our industrious civil service, we all were to be partners in a monumental but joint enterprise. None was to be alienated. None was to be left out,’’ he said.
With this statement, it was clear that Tinubu and Ambode were no longer on the same page. The relationship was no longer as rosy as it used to be when the former governor served as the accountant-general of the state under Asiwaju.
When Ambode completed his term in office, little did many observers know that the battle had just begun. No sooner had he left than many groups started calling him to account. Acting on many petitions against him, the state House of Assembly commenced a probe of the former governor, which is now a subject of litigation at the state High Court.
The Legislature, among other allegations, accused the former governor of spending outside budgetary approval by purchasing over 800 buses, saying the purchase of the buses under the bus reform programme was not approved by House. They summoned Ambode several times but the former governor approached the court to challenge the legality of the probe. This is the case for determination by the state High Court.
Wike, Dickson fight dirty
The media has provided a platform for them to release tantrums and disgusting salvos on each other. Before their irreconcilable political differences set them apart, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Bayelsa State counterpart had enjoyed a brotherly relationship. From time to time, the two political gladiators met to discuss issues that would move their political party, the PDP and both states forward. But unsettled political feud has put the two notable politicians on a combative political war chest.
The cold war between governors Wike and Dickson came to public glare a couple of weeks ago when Wike upbraided a prominent traditional ruler in the state, the Amanayagbo of Kalabari, His Majesty, TJT Princewill for hosting Governor Dickson without recourse to him.
Dickson reportedly paid the traditional ruler a solidarity visit to commiserate with him over the death of some youths of Abonnema during the presidential election. The visit of Dickson did not go down well with Wike, who thought the Bayelsa governor should have informed him before coming.
Speaking when Kalabari people paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike called on their leaders to prevail on the Amanyanabo not to allow himself to be used by external forces to create disunity in the state. He accused the Amanyanabo of deliberately allowing Governor Dickson to use him to promote division.
“I want to publicly lay a complaint on the action of the Amayanabo of Kalabari. The next time it happens I will act as a governor,” he threatened.
Shortly after Wike’s statement on the traditional ruler went viral on both the social and conventional media, Governor Dickson, in a live television media chat, released what could be described as an accumulated outburst on his Rivers State counterpart. He accused Wike of intimidating and harassing the people of Ijaw extraction in Rivers State. He equally accused the governor of colluding with the APC-led Federal Government to cause the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November governorship election in his state.
The rivalry between the two political gladiators started in 2016 during the built-up to PDP’s national convention. While Wike supported Uche Secondus, Dickson rooted for the party’s former national deputy chairman, Chief Olabode George. Wike had his way and Secondus clinched the party’s national chairmanship position of the party.
The rivalry between the two prominent politicians continued in 2018 during the party’s presidential primary election. While Dickson was in support of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Wike supported the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal. Atiku defeated Tambuwal to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
In the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State, Wike was said to have rooted for the candidate backed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Timi Alaibe, while Dickson supported Senator Douye Diri, a member of his ‘Restoration Family.’ Dickson’s candidate later clinched the ticket.
The relationship between Wike and Dickson further deteriorated over the true ownership of Kula/Soku oil wells. The oil wells were ceded to Bayelsa State and Wike had accused Dickson of being responsible for that development.
It’s Ganduje vs Sanusi in Kano
In Kano, the biggest fight that attracted attention from within and outside the state in 2019, is the lingering feud between the incumbent Governor of the state, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi ll.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that misunderstanding between the two leaders started shortly after the 2019 general elections during which Governor Ganduje sought for a second term.
Emir Sanusi was accused of being partisan during the election by supporting the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf, during the election.
The alleged action iginated the crisis between the emir and governor.
The crisis had equally created division among Kano elites, leading to the emergence of two groups of elders with one supporting the governor and the other the emir.