Nigeria: 10 Events That Shaped Nigeria in 2022

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law in February 2022 after rejecting it five times.

The year that just passed, 2022, was not one Nigerians would forget hastily. The nation’s public universities closed down for eight months; heavily armed bandits attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train; the Electoral Act was enacted; political parties selected their flag bearers for this year’s elections; and the long-reigning Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, joined his ancestors. Then, terrorists returned to attack the Kuje Medium Security Correctional Centre in the Federal Capital Territory; Supercop Abba Kyari was declared wanted in the US for alleged money laundering and arrested in Nigeria for drug-related offences; record-shattering flooding afflicted the country; oil discovery in the north and NNPC transition to public liability company; and last but not the least, Nigeria’s apex bank introduced new naira notes.

1. ASUU Strike

Barely seven weeks into the year 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike. The industrial action that began on 14th February was only suspended on 14th October. That was exactly eight months. Over two million students in public universities were denied access to their places of learning.

Before ASUU announced its strike on 14 February after the meeting of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) at the University of Lagos, it listed some unmet demands by the Nigerian government. The demands include the replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for the payment of the union members’ emoluments; renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement; the release of revitalisation fund; and release of white papers on visitation panels to universities, among others.

By October when lecturers decided to go back to the classroom, Nigerians were unsure of the status of the resolutions on each of the agreements with the government. The leadership of the union said the suspension of the strike was in honour of the order of the National Industrial Court (NIC) having failed in its appeal at the appellate court. ASUU also cited the intervention of prominent Nigerians and particularly the leadership of the House of Representatives for its decision.

In the 23 years since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, academics in its public universities have gone on strike a record 16 times, spanning 58 months.

2. Electoral Act

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law in February 2022 after rejecting it five times – citing reasons that ranged from the cost of election, insecurity, and drafting errors to proximity to the date of elections.

The legislation allows INEC to review results made under duress or financial inducement, extends the time for campaigns from 90 to 150 days, and provides for the use of technology to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results. Pundits believe the law can help manage situations where inaccurate results are returned, expand the opportunity for politicians to visit the nooks and crannies of the country if they so desire and cure the chaotic and vulnerable process of aggregating results.

However, instead of reducing the role of money in politics, the Act has increased the campaign finance limit from N1 billion to N5 billion for presidential candidates. The ceiling for all other elected positions has also been increased fivefold, but without any efforts to improve the scrutiny of compliance limits, they are still likely to be exceeded.

The Electoral Act requires that parties submit the names of their candidates 180 days before the elections, thereby allowing for the legal resolution of fractious primaries ahead of the voting day. In signing the Electoral Act, Mr Buhari also requested the section that precludes political office holders from participating in party primaries and voting during congresses be deleted, as it breaches participation rights. However, the National Assembly refused to make this amendment. This meant that several of Mr Buhari’s ministers were unable to contest for elective office until they first resigned from their positions.

3. The Abuja-Kaduna train attack

On March 28, heavily armed men believed to be terrorists emerged from the Kateri-Rijana forest of Kaduna State, setting off explosives to derail an Abuja-Kaduna train carrying 362 passengers. Shots then came from all directions as the attackers surrounded the train, which had armed policemen on board, and managed to abduct over 100 of the passengers. At least eight people died in the attack.

Thousands of Nigerians use the railway as a safer alternative to the road route between Abuja and Kaduna, which for years has been one of the most dangerous in Nigeria because of kidnappings by armed bandits.

The attack sparked national outrage and fresh worries about the capacity of the federally-controlled security and intelligence systems to detect and prevent attacks.

The hostages were released in batches following negotiations with their captors, who were believed to have collected huge ransoms from their families. Tukur Mamu, the publisher of Desert Herald newspaper, negotiated the release of some of the hostages in the train abductions. Mr Mamu has since been arrested by Nigeria’s secret police, the SSS, for alleged offences of aiding and abetting acts of terrorism.

In October, Mr Muhammadu Buhari gave credit to his government for securing the release of 23 remaining hostages.

4. Alaafin of Oyo joined his ancestors

The 44th Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi Alowolodu III, who lived an extraordinary life dedicated to battles, joined his ancestors on 22 April 2022.

He was 83 and had ruled for nearly 52 years, the longest of any Alaafin in modern history.

Holder of the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic and Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri until his transition, the late monarch was a god-like figure with several myths surrounding his persona.

5. Presidential Primaries

Eighteen candidates are contesting to become Nigeria’s next president. For the first time since 2007, the presidential election will be an open contest with no incumbent. The ruling All Progressives Congress selected a former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, as its flag bearer. A former Vice President and 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will contest on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Peter Obi — former Anambra State governor emerged as the presidential candidate for the Labour Party — and Rabiu Kwankwaso — former Kano governor is the presidential candidate for the New Nigeria People’s Party.

Of the 18 candidates, only one of them is female. But she, along with 13 others, does not have a realistic chance of winning. Most analysts agree that only the four aforementioned candidates – can win or shape the destination of the presidency in February this year.

The electoral body, INEC, set the dates for the 2023 Nigeria general elections – the presidential and National Assembly poll is set for February 25 and governorship and other subnational elections are scheduled for March 11. The countdown is well underway for what will be the seventh consecutive election since the return to democracy in 1999. This represents 23 years of unbroken democracy; the longest period in Nigeria’s history.

6. Kuje prison attack

Shortly before midnight on July 6, terrorists attacked the Kuje Medium Security Correctional Centre in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory with a cocktail of Improvised Explosive Devices and high-calibre weapons to free dangerous criminals, including apprehended Boko Haram terrorists.

ISIS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed the attack, which intelligence sources and researchers familiar with the terror group’s setup said was carried out by the group’s Kogi cell fighters, aided by another terror group, Ansaru. A total of 879 of the 994 inmates escaped, and more than 400, including over 50 terrorists, remain at large, according to internal records.

PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation – based on leaked “secret” records, interviews with a man on guard duty, security sources, and Kuje residents, analyses of experts we described our findings to, and exclusive official disclosure – has found flaws in Nigeria’s security preparedness and armed response capacity, which made the attack successful.

In the wake of the attack, 47 kilometres to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, and 24 kilometres to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, President Muhammadu Buhari publicly expressed disappointment with Nigeria’s intelligence systems and demanded a “comprehensive” report.

7. Abba Kyari arrested

Abba Kyari, a highly decorated police officer, was arrested over his involvement in drug trafficking. He was accused of belonging to a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline, police said.

Before the drug scandal, Mr Kyari was already suspended for allegedly helping self-avowed fraudster Hushpuppi to launder his money in the US, and is now accused in a cocaine plot.

Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said Mr Kyari asked a colleague to help him syphon off part of a cocaine haul.

His team had intercepted and arrested some traffickers that came into the country from Ethiopia with, according to him, 25kg of cocaine.

Mr Kyari proposed a drug deal whereby he and his team were to take 15kg of the cocaine and leave 10kg for the prosecution of the suspects arrested with the illicit drug in Enugu. In the meantime, the purloined cocaine will be replaced with a dummy worth 15kg. He asked the NDLEA officer to persuade men of the FCT Command to play along as well.

Later he was caught on camera handing over $61,400 in cash to an NDLEA official. Mr Kyari is still standing trial.

Meanwhile, US officials instituted indictment proceedings against Mr Kyari, following allegations that he facilitated payments to Nigerian police personnel from Instagram celebrity Hushpuppi. A now-deleted response on Mr Kyari’s Facebook page described the allegations as “false” and said Hushpuppi was only paying for clothes that had been made for him.

Mr Kyari, 46, once had a reputation for being a “super cop” who investigated big criminal cases.

8. Record-shattering flood

Nigeria sees flooding every year, often as a result of inadequate infrastructure and the non-implementation of environmental guidelines. This year, authorities have blamed the floods on water overflowing from local rivers, unusual rainfalls, and the release of excess water from external forces such as the Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon.

The devastating floods have inundated hundreds of villages and urban centres including farm fields in nearly all parts of Nigeria. It is the harshest spinoff of climate change Nigeria has witnessed since the 2012 disaster.

The flooding has created a cascade of problems, devastating the country’s agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and public health sectors.

Over 600 lives were lost and more than 1.3 million persons were displaced. The disaster affected 2.5 million and close to 2,500 people got injured. The cataclysmic flood inundated 108,392 hectares of farmland, and “completely damaged” over 90,000 homes.

9. Oil Discovery and Oil Theft

For most of 2022, Nigerians were thrown into chaos amid a scarcity of fuel in petroleum outlets across the country. As the scarcity continued to bite harder, Nigeria continued losing an average of 437,000 barrels of oil a day to criminal entities and individuals who illicitly tap pipelines onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, blamed Various sections of the Nigerian society for being complicit in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil, mentioning that even make-shift pipelines and stolen fuel have been found in churches and mosques.

The stolen oil is worth more than $10 billion, which is equivalent to N4.3 trillion (at N430 to a dollar). This financial loss is more than 50 per cent of Nigeria’s external reserves. It is also more than double Nigeria’s total revenue between January and April, a period when Nigeria’s total revenue was unable to service its debt and the country had to borrow for everything else including payment of workers

In July, Mr Buhari unveiled the new Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, a landmark event that officially changed the oil firm from a wholly state-run entity to a commercial oil company, limited by shares.

“We are transforming our petroleum industry to strengthen the growth today July 19 2022. NNPC Limited now will operate as a commercial oil company with over 200 million shareholders with integrity and excellence,” Mr Buhari said at the time.

The new entity became a commercially oriented and profit-driven national petroleum company independent of the government, although government bodies remain its shareholders. It will be audited annually.

By November, the president had flagged off the first crude oil drilling project in northern Nigeria, on the boundary of Bauchi and Gombe States. The NNPCL had in earlier announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the Northeastern part of the country.

The commercial quantity discovery was the first in the region after several crude oil explorations in the Upper Benue Trough. The oilfield will be developed by Sterling Global Oil, New Nigeria Development Commission (NNDC) and NNPC Ltd. The discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in the Gongola Basin, according to NNPC, will attract foreign investment, generate employment for people to earn income and increase government revenues.

10. Naira Redesign

As the year drew to a close, the Central Bank of Nigeria launched new designs to replace higher naira denominations. The bank said it wants to have control of the currency in circulation, manage inflation, as well as tackle counterfeiting. The redesigned N100, N200, N500, and N1000 are already in circulation and by January 31, 2023, the old notes are expected to be out of circulation.

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said currency management has faced several daunting challenges that have continued to escalate in scale and sophistication with attendant and unintended consequences for the integrity of both the CBN and the country.

The challenges primarily include significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that over 85 per cent of the currency in circulation is outside the vaults of commercial banks, he said.

“To be more specific, at the end of September 2022, available data at the CBN indicate that N2.73 Trillion out of the N3.23 trillion currency in circulation, was outside the vaults of Commercial Banks across the country; and supposedly held by the public. This is a worrisome trend that cannot be allowed to continue,” Mr Emefiele said.

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