This is a list of some of the Nigerian politicians who made headlines in 2020 as compiled by The Nation.
Because of the intrigues that played out during the 2019 General Elections, the year 2020, in which some state governorship elections were also held, could be seen as a year of political reconciliations. As a result of this, newsgatherers focused on some politicians who stood out either positively or negatively in the reconstruction efforts. They include:
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former National President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), former Governor of Edo State and former National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) was perhaps the most talked about politician in the first half of 2020.
As the then National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), he was at the centre of Nigerian politics. Given that his party’s flag bearer, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in for the second term just in May, 2019; it seemed Oshiomhole, who presided over the ruling party, had everything under his control at the dawn of 2020 as he seemed more fortified than the political rivals that dared to challenge him.
Notwithstanding the avalanche of disagreements derived from 2019 election complaints, Oshiomhole radiated hope and confidence; composure his political enemies attributed to the support he got from Mr. President and the topmost national leaders of the party.
But it turned out that 2020 became a year the eloquent and hard fighting former governor of Edo State had to pay for the ‘crimes,’ his political rivals accused him of committing before and during the primary elections preceding the 2019 General Elections.
To emerge as the National Chairman of APC, Oshiomhole reportedly got his bloc support from the serving governors of the time who saw him as one of their own. Unfortunately, he ‘offended’ most of the governors then because of the stance he took on the issue of direct or indirect primaries in 2019, a development that allegedly led to their political misfortunes.
Some of the governors alleged to have taken offence by his actions included Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and to some extent, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The Nation notes that most of the seemingly unending political battles Oshiomhole fought during the year before his epic fall as the National Chairman of APC were understandably attributed to his face-off with the governors and some other powerful stakeholders.
But if it would be said that his many battles to keep his job as the National Chairman of APC kept him in the news during the year; it would even be more appropriate to say his face-off with his former political son, Governor Godwin Obaseki, and eventual their battle for the political soul of Edo State in 2020, made him the most talked about politician in the year.
That Oshiomhole lost Edo to Obaseki not so long after the Court of Appeal affirmed his sack as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) even compounded his political tragedy. No wonder, news hounds took turns to feast on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in the year 2020.
It remains to be seen if Oshiomhole will regain his political strength in the year 2021 and above.
Godwin Obaseki’s quest to be re-elected as the Governor of Edo State made him very visible in the news in 2020. This is because of the caliber of opposition he faced.
The tension peaked when Governor Obaseki was forced to leave the All Progressives Party, which, under the supervision of Oshiomhole, picked Pastor Ize-Iyamu as its governorship candidate. When Obaseki also got the governorship ticket of the PDP at the last minute, the frictions caused within the two leading political parties left fears in the hearts of keen observers.
So, considering that before the election, Obaseki had fallen out with his former political mentor, Adams Oshiomhole, who has teamed up with his arch-rival, Pastor Ize Iyamu, to stop his re-election quest, even Obaseki, as the sitting governor, knew that the contest would be an epic battle.
Observers and analysts who therefore predicted fire and brimstone in the Edo State governorship election, focused on the governor’s moves. This kept him in the news all through the period.
But at the end of the election, when Obaseki, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won the election, he sued for peace. This has in a way reduced the fears over Edo State politics. Obaseki while receiving his Certificate of Return for a second term had urged the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other members of the APC to join hands with his administration to develop the state.
How far this peace would last in the coming year remains to be seen.
Chief Victor Giadom, a former Commissioner in Rivers State during Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s tenure, took the centre stage of the politics of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) this year, when he dragged the acting national chairmanship seat of the ruling party with a former governor of Oyo State and Deputy National Chairman of APC (South), Abiola Ajimobi, soon after the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the party.
As at that time, Giadom was the party’s Deputy National Secretary who was in 2019, appointed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC to serve until Yobe State nominates a replacement for the former National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, who had been elected the governor of Yobe State.
The behind-the-scene intrigues that threw up Giadom at this point draws from the fact that until his dramatic ouster, Oshiomhole’s overbearing influence, had helped to contain the internal crisis that threatened to extinguish the ruling party under his chairmanship. But as soon as he was removed, a major leadership crisis erupted. Giadom and Ajimobi, who belonged to different camps in the party contested for the leadership of the party.
While Ajimobi was announced as the Acting National Chairman through a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Onilu, Gaidam declared himself the Acting National Chairman, quoting the March 16 Federal High Court ruling that suspended Oshiomhole and ordered him to take over in acting capacity.
Until the emergence of the Mai Mala Buni-led Committee currently overseeing the APC, what followed was counter legal rulings even as a Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, presided over by Justice Florence Fiberesima granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining Giadom from parading himself as a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
As APC looks forward to emerging a more united family after a national convention that would elect new leadership, it remains to be seen the role Giadom will play.
Engineer David Umahi is the governor of Ebonyi State in the southeastern part of the country. Last month, the outspoken politician dumped the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in a move that has become very controversial.
According to President Muhammadu Buhari, Umahi took the ‘very bold decision in accordance with his conscience and principles rather than any external influence or coercion. But his erstwhile allies in the PDP feel he left the party for selfish reasons.
The numerous controversies generated by Umahi’s decision to surrender Ebonyi State, a stronghold of the PDP since 1999, to the APC, as well as his vociferousness in defence of his action, coupled with the energy with which those who disagree with him have been attacking him, have all combined to make the Ebonyi governor one of the leading political newsmakers of the outgoing year. And from the look of things, neither Umahi, nor the controversy he stirred with his defection, is about to fade away just yet.
Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is the two-term governor of Ondo State. This year, he was in the news for both the good and the bad reasons. His quest to get a second term in spite of the much opposition against him put him up against many notable politicians and groups within and outside his party, the APC.
At first, he created a lot of tensions with what many people had described as his intolerance for any form of opposition, especially within the ruling party. But his last minute volte face that saw him extending olive branches to many of his antagonists within the APC won him admiration and contributed immensely to his huge victory at the gubernatorial election.
The unending feud between him and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, also made, and is still making news. His role in the conception and formation of the Amotekun Security Corps across Southwest states also kept him in the news; what with his position as the Chairman of the zone’s Governors’ Forum.
All in all, Akeredolu made news in the outgoing year, crowning it all with the resounding defeat he handed Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP in the much talked about governorship election last October. His victory proved many pundits wrong just as his ability to turn around and make peace with numerous opponents within the APC shortly before the primary elections did.
Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, is one politician who had a large share of media attention in the year 2020. To start with, in spite of the determination of his boss, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, as well as the leaderships of the ruling APC and the state Assembly to get him sacked as the number two man in the state, Ajayi is still holding on to his coveted seat after more than three failed attempts to oust him by the APC controlled legislature.
Also, in 2020 alone, Ajayi boasted of the membership of not less than three political parties, making him the indisputable most mobile politician of the year. At the turn of the outgoing year, he was a member of the ruling APC. But by August, upon realising that he may not be able to outsmart Akeredolu in the race for the party’s gubernatorial ticket, he ported to the opposition PDP and contested the primary election.
And when he lost that too to Eyitayo Jegede, he wasted no time before transferring his service to the less known Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), the platform on which he sought to govern the state during the governorship election.
Although he lost the bid and is still a chieftain of the ZLP, most observers of the politics of Ondo State are still interested in his political career.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the banker-turned-politician elected to govern Lagos State last year has been described as a man for a time like this by many of his admirers. The governor’s selection as candidate of the ruling APC for last year’s gubernatorial election made him a news maker as he had to defeat a sitting governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, at the primary election to clinch the slot. Coming into government, it turned out that he has more headlines to clinch.
Without doubt, Sanwoolu ends the year as the poster boy of the country’s fight against COVID-19. He has been severally described within and outside the country as the most visible and effective incident commander in the war against the pandemic. Aside that, the Lagos state government has been in the news as he continue to receive both kudos and knocks over his massive road construction and repair projects across the state.
And when the #ENDSARS crisis broke out with Lagos as the epicenter, Sanwoolu further hugged the limelight for negative and positive reasons. Many people hailed his handling of the protesters when he physically appeared among them in some location across the state to persuade them to end the protests. Shortly afterwards, he was heavily vilified after soldiers allegedly opened fire on protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
His bold efforts to rebuild Lagos after the massive destruction unleashed by hoodlums are currently attracting rave reviews for him and his administration. He has been severally voted as Man of the Year and many observers are of the opinion that he deserves it all.
Professor Babagana Zulum, governor of embattled Borno State is one politician who was not given much choice but to be in the news all through the year 2020. While he kept enjoying rave reviews as a performing governor who in the opinion of many analysts, have been working hard to turn the fortunes of his people around, the incessant attacks on his convoy by terrorists during the year made him a much talked about politician.
During the year, Zulum became the voice of the troubled people of the Northeast as he constantly complained about the manner in which the war against insurgents was being waged. He also raised his voice against what he described as extortions and profiteering by the security operatives in the area. This made him unpopular with the military, but he stood his ground.
His bravery at visiting the war zones to give support to the people and or commiserate with victims and their families remain a talking point all through the year. At a point he had a brawl with the military which accused him of visiting the front without clearance. But the governor insists his people need his attention at all time if they are to be convinced he hasn’t abandoned them. He has been nominated as governor of the year by a number of organisations in recognition of his feats during the outgoing year.
Mai Mala Buni
Mai Mala Buni emerged the Chairman of APC Caretaker Committee, after the dramatic removal of Adams Oshiomhole.
Because of the intrigues that led to Oshiomhole’s exit, there was concern whether Bunu-led committee would be able to re-unite the ruling party.
As was expected, he promised to carry all aggrieved members of the party along, when he said, “As two time former National Secretary of this party, I know the party very well and I want to assure every APC member we will do justice because we have a government and as a team player, if we don’t manage crisis, crisis will manage you.
“Without justice there will be no peace. I promise justice for every APC members.”
Observers had wondered if the caretaker/extraordinary national convention planning committee can satisfactorily complete its assignment within its first tenure? This has helped to keep Buni and his committee in the news.
With this month’s extension of the committee’s tenure by six months after all the controversies, it is certain that Buni will remain in the news in the coming year.
Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has made outstanding efforts to save the party which lost power in 2015.
But in 2020, his dream of averting another major crisis in the party seems threatened as the issue of zoning of the presidential ticket, ahead of the 2023 elections, seems set to tear the party apart.
Commenting on this knotty issue recently, Secondus told newsmen, “We can’t be talking of zoning when we have not appraised how we fared in the last election.”
Ironically, his dodgy comment was openly attacked by one of the most outspoken PDP state governors, Nyesom Wike.
The Rivers State governor, Wike, lamented that the chances of the PDP reclaiming the presidency in 2023 are being threatened under the national working committee Secondus leads.
This face-off has further kept the two good politicians in the news.
Because of the many controversies he is usually associated with, Governor Nyesom Wike is one of the most reported politicians in the year 2020.
During the year, he had encounters that put him in the news. One of it was the investigation of the Niger Delta Development Commission when the police invaded the Port Harcourt residence of its former Acting Managing Director, Joi Nunieh.
Wike, who prevented the police from taking Nunieh away, reacted angrily and asked the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, to probe the invasion of the former NDDC boss.
On political, governance other sundry issues, Wike has taken on and brutally criticized so many people, including his party’s National Working Committee, a development that has helped to keep him in the news both positively and negatively.
Mr. Ayo Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State, is one of the most outspoken and controversial Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) politicians. Because of his doggedness and alleged political ambition at the national level, Fayose is seen by many as the PDP leader in the South-west.
But this is the major source of friction between him and Mr. Seyi Makinde, the current governor of Ekiti State.
Because of the increasing influence of the current Ekiti State governor in the politics of the other state chapters within the Southwest, some Fayose’ supporters have expressed concern over what they see as an unnecessary leadership crisis in the Southwest APC.
Recently, Fayose said that Makinde, though the only PDP governor in the South-west, should allow every state to be governed by its local leaders.
He warned that he is ready to fight anyone that wants to take over PDP structure in Ekiti State from him.
Because of the clashes between the two leaders over the leadership of the PDP in Ekiti and the entire Southwest and his high stake political moves at the national level ahead of the 2023, Fayose remained quite visible in the news all through 2020.
As the only PDP governor in the Southwest, Mr. Seyi Makinde, the Ekiti State Governor, has many reasons to be in the news all through 2020.
Besides being the natural South-west zonal leader of the PDP, a responsibility that enabled him to exercise influence in all the states in the zone, his battle with former governor Ayo Fayose, for the political soul of Ekiti state and South-west PDP, helped to put him in the news all through 2020.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar
One of the high points on the social scene in the outgoing year was the shocking marriage of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The wedding was said to have taken place sometime in September, about one year after the rumoured plan of the minister and President Muhammadu Buhari to get married turned out a hoax.
Farouq’s wedding Fatiha with Abubakar was reportedly held at the Maitama Juma’a Mosque in Abuja on Friday, September 18.
The wedding was said to have been conducted as a private affair as very few people were said to have been invited because it was what the couple desired, probably because the bride was some months earlier at the centre of a rumoured wedding with the President.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk and her husband and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar were not the only high ranking public office holders caught in the web of marital bliss during the year.
Also tying the nuptial knot in May was 65 years old Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) and his heartthrob Hajiya Zainab Abdullahi. It was a wedding ceremony devoid of fanfare because of the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Hameed Ali’s first wife, Hajiya Hadiza Jumai Ali, had died in Abuja on October 29, 2018 at the age of 53.
Source: The Nation