By OMONIYI SALAUDEEN
Globally, this is usually a stocktaking session for governments, individuals as well as business enterprises. In Nigeria, the economy still remains in the doldrums. Fuel subsidy scandal, poor budget implementation and corruption scandals were some of the events that shaped the economy. Although there is no official statistics yet on the actual performance of the economy for this fiscal year, the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan has turned out to be a rope of sand. Despite all the mouth-watering promises by the administration, there is hardly any improvement in the living standard of the people. On the political front, the democratic space has been largely dominated by power struggle between the main opposition and the ruling party.
Some of the state actors that shaped the outgoing year include: President Goodluck Jonathan, Attairu Jega, Olusegun Mimiko, Adams Oshiomhole, Okonjo-Iweala, Farouk Lawan, Sanusi Lamido, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Aminu Tambuwal, Allison Madueke, Stella Oduah, David Mark, Ahmed Tinubu, Wamako and Idris Wada.
President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan has been applauded for his effort at consolidating democratic governance through the conduct of credible elections. While it was the usual practice in the past for the ruling party to deploy federal might to prosecute and win elections, the present administration made good its promise not to interfere in the affairs of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In this regard, Ondo and Edo states’ governorship election are good reference points. In Edo State, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) emerged victorious in the election beating the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Also in Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko emerged the winner of the keenly contested governorship election in the state. This is seen as a plus to the Jonathan administration.
In the same way, the credibility of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, soared significantly further with the successful conduct of Ondo, Edo, Kogi and Adamawa states’ governorship election. Apart from that, he deregistered some political parties for lack of visibility which is still causing controversy among the stakeholders even though majority believe the action of the INEC boss is in order.
As coordinating minister of the economy and Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala is most revered for providing direction for the nation’s economy. She also played a major role in the fuel subsidy management by ensuring that all oil marketers indicted in the subsidy probe were dropped from the list of beneficiaries of government fund. But she nearly paid with the life of her mother who was allegedly kidnapped by oil cabal dissatisfied with her stand.
While the fuel subsidy probe by the House of Representatives lasted, Hon Farouk Lawan was the cynosure of all eyes. He led the committee that investigated those involved in subsidy scam and came with many stunning revelation. He, however, ran into troubled water when he was allegedly accused of taking bribe from the Chairman of Zenon Oil, Femi Otedola. The matter is still before the law court.
All through the fiscal year, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, sustained his campaign for the reform of the banking sector. One major aspect of his policy that generated so much controversy in the polity was his attempted introduction of N5,000 currency note. The idea was eventually suspended with the intervention of the National Assembly.
Ahmed Tinubu represents the face of the opposition in the country. As the national leader of the ACN, he did not leave any stone unturned in his effort to spread the banner of the party beyond the Yoruba political enclave. However, while his support for Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State yielded positive fruit, his effort in Ondo was met with a brick wall as Governor Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party beat the ACN candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
The Senate President, David Mark, sustained the stability of the Red Chamber as well as the cordial relationship with the executive arm of the government even though there were occasional disagreements on some issues. It was the intervention of the senate that led to the suspension of the introduction of N5, 000 note by Sanusi.
The Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, also featured prominently in the news as the Chairman, Joint Committee of the National Assembly on the review of the 1999 constitution. The committee took a radical departure from the past by organizing stakeholders’ forum on the review to give the exercise the needed legitimacy. The process is ongoing.
Dieziani Allison Maduekwe
Though Madueke’s performance as Minister of Petroleum is still raising a lot of questions, she is aggressively leading the campaign for the Petroleum Industry Bill. It was introduced into the National Assembly in the last dispensation but could not scale through. Because the bill is encompassing, many people believe that it would bring sanity in the petroleum industry if it eventually scales through.
The House of Representatives is generally believed to be more proactive than the senate in its approach to national issues. Under the leadership of Tambuwal, the House conducted investigations into the activities of government agencies. In some occasions, they had disagreement with the executives on policy implementation. It was through the House committee that fuel subsidy scandal became public knowledge. On the assessment of budget implementation, the lawmakers almost had a running battle with the executive. The recent controversy over the benchmark for the 2013 budget is also a familiar story.
Stella is rapidly changing the face of aviation sector in the country through infrastructure development. Despite air disasters witnessed this year, airports are now wearing a new look as part of the effort to make the sector safe for air travelers.