21 Persons that Made the Headlines in 2014
The year 2014 is quietly easing out, ushering in a New Year which holds a lot of promises and poses a number of questions. In 2014, some Nigerians made an impression on the rest of the nation and the world by their action, achievements, opinion, lifestyle, what they failed to do and the things they should have done which they didn’t do. Even situations weighed in with their unpredictability and ability to catch everyone almost napping. They made headlines too. For some reason, good or bad, they hugged the headlines in the outgoing year.
Oby Ezekwesili and the #BringBackOurGirls Group
Obiageli Ezekwesili is the co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany.
The vice-president of the World Bank’s Africa division made the headlines after some brief absence from the public eye, in March 2014, when she delivered a keynote speech at the national summit of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the leading opposition party in Nigeria, criticising the many migrating governors and urging the party to “a conversation deeper than how you’re going to chase (the ruling)PDP out of power”.
After the abduction of nearly 300 girls from Chibok, a town in Borno State, by the Boko Haram, Ezekwesili was instrumental to the start of the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media, which trended internationally. She had, on April 23, at the opening ceremony for a UNESCO event honouring the city of Port Harcourt as the 2014 World Book Capital city, urged
Nigerians to not just ‘tweet’ but actively participate in efforts to “bring back our girls”.
Some of the personalities who have supported the clamouring for the release of the abducted schoolgirls and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign include: Michelle Obama, Chris Brown and others.
The group which has been advocating for the release of the girls for more than 250 days is made up of students, mothers and activists who are dedicated to the immediate rescue of the abducted school girls from Nigeria.
The group, just like Ezekwesili, has made headlines this year for its dogged insistence on the rescue of the girls and some high-profile visits to the embassies of Chad, Pakistan and others, in its bid to canvass support for the release of the girls.
They have even been backed and visited by some of the world’s prominent human and girls’ rights activists.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Former president and ex-head of state, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is not liked by many both within and outside the government. But that does not detract him.
Rather, he has been active and vocal not minding whose ox is gored. Either by choice or nature, Obasanjo has got more enemies than friends because of his actions and comments. Not being taciturn has kept him in the news regularly. Particularly, he has been in the news for criticizing the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, ranging from his letter writing, criticism on the way terrorism is being tackled, to Chibok girls, among other issues.
Recently, he made headlines when he went back to school as a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Just few days ago, his controversial autobiography, ‘My Watch’, brought him in the news. Obasanjo went ahead to launch the book despite court restraint.
It did seem Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka was going to have a quiet year, until he decided to grant an interview to CNN about the president’s “cold, slowness to react to important issues”. That was in May. He seemed to make it a monthly affair after that.
In May, in an interview with the Cable News Network (CNN)’s Christine Amanpour, Soyinka blasted President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, saying he lacks the capability to take on the Boko Haram insurgents head-on, because “he and his government are living in denial”.
Soyinka also had strong words for First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan, over her emotional display on national television over the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls.
He also had harsh words for the president’s advisers and a section of the nation.
In September, he lashed out at President Goodluck Jonathan again for embracing corrupt politicians and failing to prosecute the sponsors and members of Boko Haram.
One week, he was presiding over the House of Representatives as its Speaker elected on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the next week, he was being proclaimed the newest entrant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party’s rally in Abuja. From there, the headlines screamed ‘Tambuwal’ each week and it all went downhill from there.
The next week, his security details were withdrawn and the week after that, he and his allies in the House were refused entry in to the House; they were met with tear-gas canisters when they would have it no other way.
The week after that, he was rumoured to be the APC’s ‘joker’ for the presidency in 2015; his cohorts even went as far as purchasing the party’s presidential form for him and presenting it to him in Maitama residence. He accepted it and confirmed that he will get back to them.
A few days after this misleading gesture, he opted to go for the Sokoto gubernatorial ticket of the APC – one which he picked almost without any opposition.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
The Emir of Kano and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had a run-in with President Jonathan when he alleged that huge funds were missing at the beginning of the year.
According to Sanusi, the $67bn worth of crude shipped by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) between January 2012 and July 2013, were not recorded by the CBN, which only got $47bn, leaving $20bn unaccounted for.
He also revealed that between the same period, the NNPC failed to remit a whopping $49.8bn of oil proceeds to the federation account.
After a couple more verbal outbursts which generated a lot of controversies among industry operators including lawyers, organised private sector operators and financial experts, Sanusi appeared before the legislature and quoted another figure – to the consternation of many.
The Presidency moved in and imposed an indefinite suspension on him, leading to a lot of uproar.
The drama which followed his coronation as the new Emir of Kano months after his suspension earned him more headlights. It took the intervention of the Presidency, again, to restore normalcy and douse the tension.
Two weeks ago, it was him against the Boko Haram. He asked the people of Kano and Northern Nigerians to defend themselves against the insurgents and also predicted that the end of the group is near.
The Boko Haram to respond via a video in which they promised to kill him. He responded: “They can’t do anything, unless Allah says so.”
The Nigerian Military
Khaki is not a glamorous colour and glamour is not the word that comes yo mind when discussing the Nigerian Military. Of all the jobs of the world, the army is probably the least showy and spectacular but it is certainly not the least deserving of admiration.
Maligned at the beginning of the year for its slow response to the increasing incursions of the Boko Haram, the Nigerian Military finally began to take the war to the insurgents, from Chibok to Damaturu, Adamawa and Gombe, Kebbi and Bama, the Nigerian Military has overturned its reputation as the sit-down-look unit to a more proactive, in-charge one capable of holding its own down against the insurgents any day – though there have been cases of mutiny, court-martial, corruption, lack of weapons, poor environmental conditions and other, they have persisted.
The Chibok Girls made headlines for the major part of the year and even missed being named the Time Person of the Year by whiskers.
In the early hours of April 14, 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. Responsibility for the kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram.
On October 17, 2014, hopes were raised that the 219 remaining girls might soon be released after the Nigerian army announced a truce between Boko Haram and government forces. The announcement coincided with the six-month anniversary of the girls’ capture and followed a month of negotiations mediated in Saudi Arabia by Chadian president, Idriss Deby. The announcement was, however, met with doubts because it wasn’t the first time the Nigerian government had claimed a breakthrough in negotiations with the Islamic militant group – it had to backtrack on a previous announcement in September after saying the girls had been released and were being held in military barracks.
The girls are yet to be released, but their abduction has made headlines the world over.
The Mohammed Yusuf-founded sect has been terrorising Nigerians since 2008, but 2014 will be on record as its year of publicity.
Since 2010, Boko Haram has targeted schools, killing hundreds of students. The group has insisted that the attacks will continue as long as the Nigerian government continues to interfere with traditional Islamic education.
Boko Haram’s attacks intensified in 2014.
In February, the group killed more than 100 Christian men in the villages of Doron Baga and Izghe. Also, in February, 59 boys were killed in the Fed eral Government College attack in Buni Yadi,Yobe State, northeastern Nigeria.
On March, the group attacked the Giwa Military Barracks, freeing captured militants.
On April 14, 2014, the group kidnapped more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno and, on the same day, deployed suicide bombers to a bus station in Nyanya, Abuja, killing 90.
On May 1, 2014, a car bomb attack in Nyanya area of Abuja, 19 killed, scores injured and 17 days later, a suicide bomb attack in Kano claimed five lives.
On May 20, 2014, twin bomb explosions in Jos killed 118.
In September 2014, the group captured Damboa, Gwoza, Bama and most Nigeria’s border towns with Cameroon in Borno State as well as Madagali ,Michika and Mubi in Adamawa State.
Boko Haram has been blamed for nearly 4,000 deaths in 2014.
Ebola virus (EBOV, formerly designated Zaire ebolavirus) is one of five known viruses within the genus Ebolavirus. Four of the five known ebolaviruses, including EBOV, cause a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and other mammals, known as Ebola virus disease (EVD). Ebola virus has caused the majority of human deaths from EVD and is the cause of the 2013–2014 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, which has resulted in, at least 19,374 suspected cases and 7,533 confirmed deaths.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons made headlines in the year when they reclaimed the continental soccer crown which they lost to Equatorial Guinea two years ago by beating the Indomitable Queens of Cameroun in the final of the African Women Championship in Namibia and qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women World Cup.
The victory means a lot to Nigerians, especially because it comes at a time when the national male football team, the Super Eagles, gave the country’s football lovers heartache when it failed to qualify for the 2015 edition of the African Champions Cup which it won last year in South Africa.
Though the ladies have been handed a tough draw for the World Cup which will begin in Canada on July 6, 2015 – the team will play Sweden, USA and Australia.
As far as 2014 is concerned, this team made the headlines for the wrong reasons this year; from its lack-luster performance to its forgotten stars and its inability to win deciders.
This is the second time the national team, the Super Eagles, will not participate in the football spectacle, having failed to qualify for the continental football event taking place in Equatorial Guinea next year.
The defending champions failed to pick a ticket to the continental football show having played a 2-2 draw with South Africa at Akwa Ibom International Stadium.
Dr Stella Shade Ameyo Adadevoh
Many Nigerians only got to know about the Ebola virus after the death of the brave woman who discovered the strange illness which Liberian Patrick Sawyer brought into the country and stopped him before more damage was done.
Dr. Stella Shade Ameyo Adadevoh, a staff of the First Consultant Hospital, Lagos, saved millions by detecting the symptoms in the sick man (through an impressive set of laboratory methods, using his blood samples) led the call for the fifty-something others he had come in contact with on the plane and undertaken the CDC centre which was to be used as the quarantine site.
Sadly, she contracted the disease and died on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
Having sacrificed her life for millions of other Nigerians, she made headlines and calls were made for her to be given a national merit award.
She was listed as one of the CNN’s Most Inspiring Women for 2014.
Without a doubt, Keshi has been voted as the most searched Nigerian sports personality on Google for 2014 by goal.com. His case is intriguing, for just as , he became a villain in the eyes of many.
He made the headlines, many times, for the wrong reasons; his spat with some players and his refusal to include Ike Uche, until it was too late to do anything about the nation’s long-gone chance to qualify for the 2015 edition of the AFCON.
Keshi’s greatest undoing is considered his inability to “use the right players” to prosecute the games quickly as he got into Nigerian and African soccer history as one of the few men to have won the African Cup of Nations, both as a player and coach . After the World Cup, the man who led Nigeria to win the AFCON in 2013, told the World that he was “done” with the Super Eagles.
Shortly before the end of the AFCON qualifying campaign, Keshi was sacked – after fans had clamoured for his sack months and weeks before – by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Amodu Shaibu appointed in his stead.
Amodu had set about organising a team to prosecute the last two games against South Africa and Congo, only for President Jonathan to order the reinstatement of the sacked Keshi.
When Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar assumed office as the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria and the 14th, she was totally celebrated, both home and abroad. At the time of her appointment, the image and integrity of the judiciary were at their lowest ebb. Expectations were high that she would take on the issue of corruption in the system with single-minded determination. She, indeed, declared a zero tolerance for corruption in the judiciary and pursued the cause tenaciously.
Justice Aloma Mukhtar may not have achieved total success, but there is no gainsaying the fact that she made an impact and hugged the headlines for as long as she remained in charge and handed over to her successor, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
Alooma-Mukhtar swept through the courts of the judiciary with a long, fierce broom and, save for her retirement, she almost swept it clean.
She sanitised the judiciary, fast-tracking cases, carrying out action against erring judges and made the profession more academic, instead of the money-spinning venture it was fast becoming.
If there is one woman who has been much maligned and appreciated within the shortest possible time, that woman is Nigeria’s longest-serving minister, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Within one year, she went from being a villain hunted by the National Assembly and different civil society organisations for missing funds and to answer questions relating to the subsidy and irregularities in the accounts of the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), to being appointed the president of the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) on November 27, 2014, in faraway Vienna, Austria, at the organisation’s 166th meeting.
She has enjoyed many firsts, but many of those who called for her head at the beginning of the year cannot understand how she ascended to become one of the world’s most powerful women – as far as the pricing and regulation of anything have to do with crude on the international market is concerned in the next one year.
Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu
When the story of how Nigeria overcame Ebola and was declared free of the virus back in October 20, 2014, the man who was the minister of health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, cannot be forgotten.
Onyebuchi’s no-nerves approach and his decision to work with the Lagos State government saw the nation unite against the dreaded virus and become a global success story on how the virus can be best conquered.
Today, Nigeria is free of Ebola and sending volunteers to other West African countries to help combat the virus which has ravaged the region, killing more than 5,000 people.
The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, was in the news when he was speculated as the likely replacement for the ousted former governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now Emir of Kano.
In June, 2014, Emefiele practically dominated the media when he finally took over to head the apex bank. He was widely in the news when CBN suddenly announced the devaluation of the Naira by N13. This action was described as part of measures towards strengthening the nation’s economy.
In the comity of world’s Central Bank heads, Emefiele is also a news-maker. He topped other Central Bankers to move to number one position in the recent Express Ranking held in Portugal. The Governor of Bank of England, Mark Carney, who emerged first last year was beaten by Emefiele. Meanwhile, Mario Draghi, head of European Central Bank, only remained at 11th position. Emefiele’s success was due largely to the impressive performance in Nigerian economy which improved by six per cent last year and in 2014.
Africa’s business giant, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, was frequently in the news. Recently, he took over headlines when his company, Dangote Cement Plc, announced to Nigerians the long-awaited crashing of cement price.
In the new price regime announced by the company, the premium 32.5 cement grade is to sell for N1,000 only per 50 kg bag. Meanwhile, the higher 42.5 grade is to sell for N1,150 only per bag. That reduction represents about 40 per cent discount from the original price of N1,700 which a bag was sold for. The company’s new price was aimed at bridging the housing needs across Nigerians.
Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa made history in April when she was sworn in as the first female President of the Court of Appeal (PCA). The sixth President of the Court of Appeal has been able to embody a leadership ,uphold the crusade against corruption not only in the judiciary but in Nigeria in general. She has introduced creativity and dynamic interpretations to demonstrate that the judicial process is “neither cold nor impersonal by working for the continued relevance of the laws to the realities of our times.”
Bulkachuwa is tireless in the crusade against corruption. Her energy,faith and devotion which she brings to this endeavour is rekindling and building back the trust; and the glow from that fire is truly light not only the judiciary, but to the nation in general.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor
In September, the president of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor made headlines for the strangest of reasons – leasing out his plane to the Federal Government to conduct an arms deal with the South African government, only for the plane to be seized and the cash it contained, as well.
The plane contained $9.3m cash for an arms deal the presidency has not, till date, denied.
Oritsejafor, his wife and the CAN did all in their power to clear his name and though it has been explained away that the company managing the lease of his private jet was responsible for the deal and that he was never consulted.
Many have not ceased to wonder how he became entangled in such a complicated diplomatic mesh.
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