We followed some of the biggest headlines obsessively.
Banditry in the northwest
About 140 students went missing in July after armed men raided Bethel Baptist, a boarding school in Kaduna state. This was only the latest mass school kidnapping in the northwest. Authorities have attributed them to armed bandits seeking ransom payments. These bandits have made an industry of kidnapping students for ransom with Kaduna state hardest hit. They have taken nearly 1,000 people from schools since December 2020, more than 150 of whom remain missing. Roads, private residents and even hospitals have not been left out.
Buhari declines electoral bill assent
For the umpteenth time, President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Electoral Act amendment bill that could have enabled electronic transmission of results. Buhari announced his decision in a letter to the National Assembly where he cited several reasons for declining assent to the electoral act amendment. Buhari noted that the mandatory use of direct primaries for all political parties in the country will be too expensive to execute and would put a heavy financial burden on Nigeria’s slim resources.
Ikoyi building collapse
On 1, November a 21-storey “luxury” building located in Gerrard road, Ikoyi, Lagos collapsed after work continued on the site even after it had failed a structural integrity test. The structure, which was being developed by Fourscore Homes founded by Femi Osibona, caved in killing Osibona as well as at least 45 others. In response, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated a six-man panel to investigate the cause of the collapse and signed an executive bill giving legal backing to the panel. He also indefinitely suspended the general manager of the Lagos state building control agency.
Isa Pantami minister of extremism
Social media justifiably demanded the resignation of Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, when it emerged that in the not-so-distant past, he had serially expressed views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. Pantami also a renowned Muslim cleric, once preached that he considered the late al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden a better Muslim than himself. Not surprisingly the presidency stood by Pantami calling him the victim of a calculated cancel campaign. Shame.
Murder on social media
The collective power of social media for good was deployed sometime in April when a nationwide search for 26-year-old Uyo based graduate Iniobong “Hiny” Umoren began on Twitter after a concerned friend cried out about her disappearance under suspicious circumstances. A #FindHinyHumoren hashtag started trending and one Uduak Frank Akpan was identified as the prime suspect. Sadly, these heroic efforts arrived too late as Umoren was sexually assaulted and murdered by Akpan who had invited her for a job interview. He is awaiting trial and remains in police custody.
Nigeria bans Twitter
In June, the federal government of Nigeria placed an indefinite ban on Twitter, restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by president Buhari warning Igbo people of a potential repeat of the civil war due to insurgency in the South eastern states. The government claimed that while the deleted tweets factored into their decision, the ban was ultimately based on other problems “where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.” The meltdown was instant and played out beyond Twitter into other platforms.
Nigerians were needlessly subjected to the harrowing experience of compulsorily queuing in crowded spaces to capture data to register and obtain the elusive National Identification Number (NIN). This at a time when social distancing measures were still in place to prevent spread of covid. The irresponsible and impossible deadlines imposed by the minister of communications and digital economy, Dr Isa Pantami, to link all phone lines with NIN threw people into panic, as they scrambled to get linked. And get exposed to covid-19.
Return of Benin bronzes
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) entered into a shared agreement to collaborate on mutual loans of Benin objects and other “exchanges of expertise and art.” The Met announced the return of two 16th-century brass plaques, Warrior Chief and Junior Court Official in its collection that once adorned the Royal Palace in Benin City. Both sculptures belong to the group of highly contested objects known as the Benin Bronzes, looted by British forces from present-day Nigeria in the 1890s.
Soludo wins Anambra
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Charles Chukwuma Soludo won the Anambra governorship election, polling a total of 112,229 votes. The elections went into a supplementary phase in Ihiala with Soludo’s APGA scoring the most votes in the local government. Soludo won in 19 local government areas of the state and scored 25% in all the 21 local government areas of the state.
Southern governors and the Asaba declaration
After many years of crisis between farmers and herders across various parts of Nigeria, the 17 Southern governors, under the aegis of Southern Governors’ Forum, in what is now described as Asaba Declaration, raised 12 resolutions, one of which was the ban on open grazing in their respective states. The governors noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land increasing the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. The federal government through the attorney general rejected this decision calling it unconstitutional.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.